If you’re familiar with Dave Ramsey and other personal finance writers you’ve heard of the value of driving a ‘beater car’ for getting out of debt.
What is a Beater Job?
When I talk about a ‘beater job’, I’m not talking about a side hustle or part-time work. I’m referring to a full-time, 9-to-5, ‘career job’. If you’re in deep, massive, six-figure debt, like yours truly, you may find yourself having to decide how much your current job is really worth to your financial future. Should you jump into a not so great position just for more money to pay your debt faster?
My current job is not perfect, but there are aspects of it that I actually enjoy. I’ve been working with some cool people lately, etc. I’ve never been abused or yelled at here. My managers have been good to me. There is flexibility, and relatively good work-life balance, except for crazy deadline crunches where I get really stressed out. Even though I am underpaid (according to recruiters that I talk to), I have great benefits. Those benefits saved my financial neck during my recent medical ordeal.
However, higher salaries always look good when there never seems to be enough in your paycheck to pay everything that needs to be paid. When it comes to work, mo’ money can often mean mo’ problems and stress.
So, what is a beater job?
[Photo credit: movie ‘Office Space’ 1999]
Much like a beater car, a beater job has the following characteristics:
ONE – More money! This is the sole purpose of taking this job. It’s all about having more money to throw at the debt. Every dollar shaves time off the debtor’s prison sentence.
TWO – It’s not pretty. A beater job is not an attractive job that will have your friends and professional colleagues green with envy. Some people may shake their heads with confusion about why you don’t have a ‘better’ job with a more prestigious sounding company. The environment is unattractive. Think beige cubicles and bad lighting.
THREE – It’s old. It has an outdated job title. It’s stagnant, in an old industry, with old technology, old processes. It is an old company past its prime. You won’t be learning anything cutting edge. Instead you’ll learn how to cut corners.
FOUR – It’s strictly temporary. This is a job you go into with a plan. There is no intent to keep this job beyond a specific period of time (e.g. 1 to 3 years). It’s only meant to get you from point A to point B on your financial roadmap. After this time, you trade it in for something better.
FIVE – It offers less comfort. It may have mediocre, or even poor benefits. There may be less autonomy and more micromanagement or, conversely, you may have no oversight or support at all.
SIX – It offers less security and is more stressful to deal with. It may be a higher risk environment that’s low on job security and high on employee turnover. This place may not be one of the most ethical companies to work for. Of course you don’t want to ever get into anything dangerous or illegal, but this company and/or job may be a bit more shady than you’d like.
SEVEN – It’s soul-sucking. Enough said.
Should I take a ‘beater job’?
I have been thinking about what I would do if I had the opportunity to take a higher paying ‘beater job’. A while back, I applied for one at another company that is very similar to what I am doing now, just at a more senior level. Assuming that I was super aggressive about debt repayment, with the higher salary I could (theoretically) pay off my student loan debt in 3 years instead of 5! That’s two full years off my debt sentence!!
I rapidly breezed through multiple phone interviews. I was a great fit for the role (by skill set), but un/fortunately I did not get the job. Well I assume I didn’t, anyway. Companies simply ignore candidates that they lose interest in so I never heard anything. Rude!
Why? I think it’s because the co-worker that I would be working most closely with… Well, we mixed like bleach and ammonia. It was basically a personality mismatch from minute one of the face-to-face interviews. I remember in one of my first interviews with HR, the rep mentioned that they were having a hard time filling this role, now I know a big part of the reason why, although there were some other reasons that I learned about throughout the interviews as well.
I’m relieved that I didn’t get the offer because I was really, really torn about if I would accept or not. There were several big red flags warning me against working there. I know that I would not have enjoyed it, but the money could have shaved off up to TWO YEARS of debt repayment, after which I would be free to do whatever I like without the millstone of debt around my neck.
This experience does have me thinking about being more active in exploring options…
PS: Crap. Before I posted this, I got notified that I’m still being considered for this job (after radio silence for three weeks) and have two more interviews to go through. After a lot of back and forth, I’ve decided to continue with the interviews to see what happens…
There is no guarantee by any means that I will be offered this job. However, if I am offered the job, the temptation will be great to take it even though it could end up being a bad move. Well, let’s see where things go…
Anyone been in a similar situation? What did you do?