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My friend Kaye, a single woman in a high-paid and stressful job, once told me: "If my mortgage would let me, I'd love to resign."
It's easy to think this way; that it would be simple to change careers if only we had oodles of money in the bank, or got a big redundancy payout.
The reality is that most of us don't have an excess of money, especially in the current environment. If you're clinging to your job security and struggling to pay the bills, it can be hard to imagine how to take such a risk as to quit your job and start over.
But lack of money does not have to be an obstacle to finding more fulfilling work. Money may not grow on trees but you can plant a few cash-creation seeds. Financing a career change, even when the odds seem stacked against you, involves a mix of lateral thinking and pragmatism.
With sound planning and a willingness to prioritise and juggle conflicting demands, financing your career can be more affordable than you think.
If you allow your desire for a better life to drive you, the discipline needed to re-prioritise your finances will come more easily and the sacrifices will be more bearable.
There are many different ways to finance a career change. Here are just a few options.
Allow passion, not fear, to propel you forward. Many people have found following their passion has led to greater wealth. Reconnect with the things you feel most inspired by. Brainstorm ways your passions could transfer into cash flow. Seek suggestions from people you know - you may find you have a natural talent or gift you never knew of.
Stay positive. Be inspired by others who have made successful changes during challenging times. Some 55,000 New Zealanders, for example, are so-called "necessity entrepreneurs", people prompted by redundancy or unemployment to set up their own businesses. Wendy Pye admits her redundancy gave her the push she needed to start her own publishing company. Nearly two decades on, Wendy Pye Publishing exports to 15 countries and Pye's personal wealth is estimated by the National Business Review's Rich List at $35 million.
Assess your situation. Work out what you really need to spend money on by focusing on what you really want. Get an accurate picture of all your outgoings and reduce them where you can. Consolidate debt. Make sure you are getting the best deal possible on your insurance, cellphone, mortgage and other regular commitments. Seek financial advice if necessary.
Do less, achieve more. Take time out to plan your next move. If you're employed find a way to step back without burning bridges. J. K. Rowling used her time on a benefit to forge a successful writing career. Others have used down time to retrain. This may mean radically rethinking your beliefs about the relationship between money, time and effort.
Figure out a way to earn more. Negotiate a pay rise in your current position, take on a new, higher-paying role, sell things you no longer need, or turn a hobby into a cash generator. Think laterally to create cash flow. Can you finance your new career by doing a career combo - working in a variety of roles or for several employers?
Seek investors or sponsors. Use other people's money to create the momentum you need. Remember there's good borrowing (borrowing to increase wealth) and bad borrowing (borrowing so you can consume more). Most people spend all their spare income on non-asset-producing consumption. Banks, family members and friends are all possible sources of investment income. Sam Morgan, who established Trade Me, convinced his dad to back him, and earned him millions of dollars in return. You may not pay back millions but if your idea is sound your investors will have faith.
Utilise equity. Burt Munro, of The World's Fastest Indian fame, mortgaged his home to pursue his dream. If you don't want to re-mortgage you could pay interest only for a while or take a mortgage holiday.
Share the load. Who else has a stake in your success? Perhaps they can inject more cash into your joint cash flow. Keri, a woman I know, had always earned more than her husband. Switching to her dream career meant taking a $40,000 income drop. Together they worked on a strategy to help him advance his career and earn more money so she could take the risk. Not only is he now happier in his job but also Keri has built a flourishing business as a landscape architect.
Challenge your assumptions about how and where you can work. The internet has opened up a wealth of opportunities to work anywhere in the world. And it means you can reach a large market without such outlays as high-profile premises.
Remind yourself that money is not a measure of your true worth. Clarify what's really important to you. Richard Branson once said, "I don't work for money, that's too shallow a goal." His passion has netted him millions.
Get funded. Many organisations offer sponsorships and other funding to help people pursue their dreams. Without the help of a grant from Creative New Zealand, author and Man Booker Prize finalist Lloyd Jones might never have written Mr Pip - the same book for which he later received a million-dollar advance. Research agencies that could fund your career change. If you are receiving a benefit, for example, you may be eligible for funding through Work and Income's enterprise allowance grant.
Remember, there is more to life than money. Focus on the other benefits that making a change for the better will give you and those you love. This may be more time, better health, more enjoyment or the satisfaction of having a new challenge.
In the end, Kaye did figure out a way to change her career without sacrificing her financial security. She used equity in her home to reduce her hours at work and train as a corporate coach. She negotiated a three-day week and began coaching part-time. After a year she opened her own consultancy. "I earn twice as much and I'm more fulfilled. Going to work is no longer a chore - it's my passion."
Cassandra Gaisford - freelance writer: www.cassandragaisford.com