Ask LH: How Can I Change Jobs And Keep Paying My Mortgage?

Dear Lifehacker, How can I go about getting a new job when I have a mortgage? It’s a very fine line, matching income to expenditure! I want a job that I enjoy (more than I do my current one, at least) but switching careers would probably mean a pay cut which would make meeting the mortgage repayments impossible. How would you go about finding a new career without getting five roommates or relying on lady-luck? Thanks, Job Switcher

Mortgage picture from Shutterstock

Dear JS,

JS – I hear you. About three years ago, I decided to bail out of working full-time, for a reliable employer where there was little risk to job security, a decent pay packet and several perks. But I knew the time had come and I chose a path with with potentially less money and security.

My first step was to look at all of our family expenses. That meant the mortgage, utilities, Internet, mobile phones, health insurance — nothing was ignored.

It turned out that there are lots of savings out there if you just look and ask. For example, over the last decade or so, we’d borrowed some money for some household renovations and a car. By going to the bank and looking at our mortgage and other borrowings, we were able to reduce our minimum monthly payments by over $200 per month.

Another option is to negotiate with your bank about going on an interest-only mortgage. Although you won’t be actually reducing the principle of your loan, you’ll able to stay in your house without defaulting because of missed payments.

Although banks often have a reputation for being very hard-nosed and difficult to deal with, our experience with the local branch manager and loans officers has been the opposite. It’s better business for the bank to retain you as a customer and they do have some flexibility when it comes to helping out.

A friend of ours decided to do a complete career shift from IT technician to teacher. That meant taking two years off work to go back to university full-time. He was able to renegotiate his mortgage into a line-of-credit arrangement so he could live off the equity while he was studying. Once he was back in the workforce, he was able to, within a couple of years, double his old salary and make up for the lost payments on the mortgage.

With power, gas and telephones, most Australians have a choice with their service providers. Look at your bills and then get some competitive quotes from other providers. Many offer discounts for on time or automatic payments. You might be able to squeeze $5 per month from each of those bills in addition to potentially cheaper services.

With your Internet connection, ISPs change their offers regularly but not all of them are good at letting existing customers know about new and better deals. Take a look at Broadband choice [Whirlpool] to see what’s around. But before you make a change, go back to your incumbent ISP and see if they can do better. Many have special deals that aren’t publicised but are offered to customers that are about to defect.

In my case, I reviewed the home phone service and Internet and was able to save about $20 per month across both by shifting to a bundle that better suited our actual usage.

Once you’ve dealt with your expenses, it’s time to look at income. Does a career change have to mean a reduction in income?

In some cases it may but that’s not a given. Many jobs have transferable skills. For example, if you’ve got experience in supervising other staff and managing budgets then you can take those to almost any role. Look for careers where you can transfer your existing skills.

If possible, you might look to developing a second income stream by contracting out your services after hours or by picking up a part time job. This might only be a short term solution until your main income picks up but it’s worth considering.

What does the Lifehacker family say? Are there some other tricks and tips?


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