Help! My life is stuck in a rut

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By: D. Sharon Pruitt - CC BY 2.0
By: D. Sharon PruittCC BY 2.0
My husband and I are happily married with two dogs. He works as a full time security guard, and I’ve spent the larger part of the last three years unemployed or working minimum wage jobs.

We feel like our life is stuck in a never ending rut of my student loan repayment and unemployment. (I apply for ten jobs a day just to do something, but I always hear that I’m either not qualified, overqualified, or my credit is too poor).

We are desperate to move into our own place but it never seems possible; we live with my dad and he is beyond driving us insane. He wants us gone as well, but we are barely staying above water as is.

Has anyone else ever been stuck like this? How did you find a way out, even a place to start? -Ducky

Comments on Help! My life is stuck in a rut

  1. Do either of you have a university degree? If so, go teach English in Asia. I did that and not only did it jumpstart my career, it enabled me to save a great deal of money and travel all over the world. Initially I only planned to go for one year but ended up staying in South Korea for four because I liked it so much. I have also heard that Taiwan and Indonesia are good places to go. Depending on where you go, rent is either cheap or free and you can have a good quality of life for very little. It doesn’t matter what your degree is in as long as you have one.
    Seriously, the experience is life-changing. I learned so much about myself and matured in ways that I never could have done at home. The only reason I came home was because I knew I would have trouble finding a significant other abroad. Now that I am married we are planning to go abroad again once our children are old enough to understand.

    • I have a question about this… are there situations where you can bring your children with you while you teach English? As in, a “family package” type thin? Or were you just going to move abroad to do other things? I have a young family and would love to live overseas while employed as a teacher, etc. Any websites you could recommend?

      • I taught in China. Most places offer the option of housing for you and a spouse, generally a private apartment or even a house, as an option. Sometimes they may charge a small rent if there are two of you rather than one, but I would assume you could bring your children easily as well. Many places will even offer jobs to both spouses.

        Do a lot of reading up on raising children in whatever country you choose though… customs may surprise you. For instance, in many Asian countries it is normal for strangers to touch and pick up your children without your permission!

        Would definitely NOT recommend Disney English. Interviewed with them, and they pay incredibly low. Private universities where you can teach business English pay the highest in China.

        Also, sad but true: the whiter your skin is, the more likely you are to be hired and the more money you will likely make.

        The good news is that just one salary teaching English can support a whole family over there.

          • I…kind of love this. You mean I can eat my orange chicken without having some of it smeared in my hair? I AM SO THERE. Also when neighborhood kids pick up my toddler at the playground and carry him around like a doll. But I feel as though I’m supposed to hate it and am contractually obligated to hover nervously or I lose my mom card. Maybe I should go live in Asia…

          • I gotta say, my parents’ favorite restaurant to go to when I was a baby was the one where the bartender used to “steal me.” I think it was an Irish pub. He’d swoop me up and do his job with a baby slung through one arm, serving drinks with the other. I apparently LOVED it, and my folks had a baby-less table to themselves for a while. 😉

        • What about pets? Is it in any way possible to bring pets? I’d consider doing this sort of thing, but my husband and I have two cats that are our family. Bringing them somewhere so far away would probably be way too stressful on them, even if importing animals is allowed. Also, I wouldn’t fly with my cats unless they could be in the cabin with me, and I think that’s usually not allowed on international flights.

          • Yes, my husband and I moved to South Korea almost three years ago and brought our cat and dog with us. You have to time the vaccines correctly and fill out paperwork with your vet, but if you do everything correctly there’s no quarantine.

          • Becky, the comments seem to have reached their limit so I can’t reply directly to you, so hopefully you see this.

            How did bringing a cat and a dog to South Korea work? Could you bring either of them in the cabin with you, or did you have to trust the airline to handle them in the cargo area for pets? How did your pets react to the long flight?

        • Yes! I had a lovely Indian lady ask if she could have a cuddle of my (then 3-4month old) eldest while I was at a museum. She showed me this awesome trick to bring up stubborn burps for my reflux-y baby. Complete stranger that I never saw again, but I think of her fondly every time that I use it.

          I’d probably have been a bit weirded out if I hadn’t read so much or spent so much time as a kid with people from other cultures though.

      • I’m planning on working in international schools, where you can bring your children along and enroll them in the school where you work, but you do need a teacher’s license for that. I have heard of people teaching ESL and bringing their children along, but that can be tricky because the quality of local school systems may vary, your kids won’t speak the language, and even more forgiving overseas salaries usually aren’t enough to cover international school tuition. Unfortunately, I don’t know much more about it than that. 🙁
        If you do have a teacher’s license, you can start looking for vacancies here:

      • The South Korean government no longer subsidizes foreign English teachers in their country. So if you decide you want to go to Korea, you need to find an independent tutoring outfit that will pay you and sponsor you.


        It’s often much, much easier to find a job when you are already in-country. It can be a leap of faith, but I would recommend saving up for a plane ticket and enough to live on for about a month, then heading over. If you start applying from home, tell employers you’re arriving on x date, arrive and follow up in person, you’ll have a job in no time.

        While you might not be able to find a specific ‘family package’ I would imagine you can claim your children/spouse as dependents for the visa, enabling them to come with you. If you go somewhere where English-speaking public schools are relatively easy to find (i.e. HK or Singapore) you won’t have to fork over for international school fees.

  2. I have felt trapped like that before, and the best way through is to throw something new into the mix (really).

    The *best* thing is to learn something new. Now, it sounds like you are in no position to spend money on a course, but are there free local events, lectures, classes at your library, etc that you could get to? Don’t even worry about whether what you are learning is ‘practical’, just do something to engage your brain in a new way. It can real help with perspective and encourage new ideas about other things.

    • But if you *want* to learn something practical, go with Excel. There are few computer programs as used and abused in an office setting as Excel (although I think a few war crimes have been committed with PowerPoint). It won’t take more than a few tricks to know more than many and it looks impressive on a resume.

      • Also learning the Microsoft database software Access is very useful. Most people who put down “proficient in
        Microsoft office” have never used it. Staying that you are comfortable with a system like that will draw the eye on a résumé.

    • I agree with Andrea. Something I have always found ironic is that when I have a job, I miss all the free time of not having one, but when I don’t have one I not only have no income, but feel like I am a huge waste of space and wish I had a job or something to occupy my time in a more structured way than applying for jobs or cleaning the house or reading books.

      Look into taking free online courses. Coursera ( and iversity ( are two better known ones, and they offer a whole host of different disciplines to study and often do hands-on tasks. Obviously you have to push yourself to do the assignments and they are marked by you/your peers, but it is a fun and free way to learn about something new.

      • Check out:
        khan academy
        And there are loads of classes you can watch on YouTube, my favorites are produced by the Green brothers, John and Hank on their channel Crash Course

        The best part about all these resources is that they’re FREE

  3. Try a temp agency. They find all sorts of people decent jobs. If you’re good at the job, they can often become permanent jobs. Most temp agencies even offer benefits after a certain number of months with the agency.

    • Yes! I agree with that. In my experience temp agencies pay pretty well, and I’ve almost always been offered to stay on longer than initially planned and/or permanently.

      Good luck! This sounds really frustrating. But the fact that you are reaching out and looking for a solution is a really good sign and shows motivation. You will find something!

    • I went with a temp & recruitment agency. I had my degree and two years of unemployment under my belt, and I had just moved to a new town. The agency was locally owned and had excellent connections with local businesses. I had temp gigs to pay the bills while they found me a permanent job that I really like. It’s actually in my field and the company I work for treats me like a human being, which is rare in this day and age.

      My partner only had retail experience and hated it, and no degree. The agency is helping him build out his resume with temp gigs so they can eventually find him a permanent position with the new skills he’s learning at all these jobs. The best part is that if he doesn’t like a gig, he knows it will only last a week or two before he gets to try a new job. (And he’s about to start online courses on the side, too.)

      Temp & Recruitment agencies can be awesome. If you’re in Portland, OR, check out Boly:Welch. They are amazing and I can’t recommend them enough.

    • i do work for a temp agency right now and did one nice job bt it didn;t last and now but they have noting for me I’ve been waiting and looking for steady work other places as well. I almost like when i don’t have a job because I get to spend my time painting and making crafts but all hobbies cost money and crushing student loans debt needs repaid so a “normal job” is what I’ve been looking for.

  4. I am in a very similar situation: happily married, only just financially afloat in jobs that provide no mental stimulus or satisfaction.

    I agree with previous advice.
    Look at moving elsewhere. Try applying for jobs in places that excite you or that could be an adventure to live in, or don’t know anything about. I recently interviewed for a job in a city that I didn’t know anything about, even where about in the country it is, I didn’t get the job but did have fun exploring the city and misunderstanding the accents.
    Give a shot to something new. There are great articles here for taking up new sports or giving a type of cookery a try. You could even give learning a new skill a shot, in the world of Internet it is easy to learn most things from youtube and books at the local library.

    And give yourself a holiday from being unemployed. When I was the phrase ‘the worst thing about being unemployed is from the moment you wake up your on the job’ really stuck with me. Take a few days to do things you enjoy and have a break from being unemployed. Taking a few days to go wild camping really helped me feel better about things and come back to ‘the rut’ feeling less rutty.

    • totally agree with going camping. you can definitely do it on the cheap…though it is winter but depending where you live maybe still warm enough if you have the right gear. if you guys have gear already, great, if not see if you can borrow some… and if it’s too cold to go for a weekend somewhere, you could probably definitely still go for a nice long day hike. just dress appropriately, pack extra layers and food and water and make sure you know where you’re going/can use a compass/map. getting out in nature for a solid chunk of time always helps me when I’m struggling….I inevitably come back with a clearer perspective.

  5. Have you looked into freelancing? When I got laid off for the second time in five years last year, I had trouble even getting an interview. To help stay afloat I started doing small jobs I found on freelancing websites like Odesk and Elance. That quickly escalated into steadier work and I’ve been doing it full time now for awhile. Plus, you know working from home is awesome!

    • I’ve had good success with posting myself as a language tutor/translator on Craigslist and university forums. Sure it’s only a little bit of pocket change, but it helped me get out of the house, meet new people, and practice my skillset.

  6. Suuuuuper recommend landmark education. Life changing courses that get people out of all kinds of ruts at the same time… relationship, career, attitude, family. People start brand new careers they wouldn’t have dreamed of in these courses. And if they don’t, they meet people to work for who have similar understandings regarding integrity, inspiration, communication, etc. I have personally hired landmark grads who have no idea about any aspect of my biz, just because they have shown other incredibly important skills in those courses.

    It is a bit pricey for a weekend (check your country/area for cost), but in my experience the intangibles I got from it were worth that and hundreds of thousands more. Cheaper than a lot of other development courses, though, and can be counted for professional development as a teacher and a few other professions.

    • I’ve had some close friends have really unsettling, negative experiences with Landmark. I understand that it’s effective for some folks, but I encourage readers to do careful research before making the investment.

      • Well, yeah, like everything in life, it’s not for everyone. Landmark has gone through a LOT of changes over the decades and it’s becoming more refined through feedback and testing, like most types of education. As for seeing it as an investment- absolutely it is. AND there is the opportunity for participants to leave during the course with a full refund if they don’t feel it will be of any value.

        Oh, and the weekend course comes wtih a 10-session seminar to help support implementing the tools for the weekend. I personally dug the weekend stuff more than the seminar, but when i priced out some other similar courses, lm ended up cheaper.

        • Having gone through the landmark courses I can honestly say that all of that information is available for free from your local library or on line and the sop and general disrespect for the participants left me with a very bad taste in my mouth. That was just my personal experience, but if you’re looking for something to read that will give you all that information in a positive format I would recommend Dr. Wayne Dyer, he has a much more holistic way of teaching.

          • Yes, again, it’s not for everyone. However… there are tons of books in the local library on things I *could* learn but *don’t*. Lots of people find that just having access to something for free at the library does nothing for their lives. Many people need the impetus of “I paid for this so I’d damn well better get my value out of it” and/or “someone is aggressively pushing me to deal with my own crap in a way that I’m not willing to do myself” and/or “I’ve taken time off work and cleared a weekend to deal with my crap”. I’m one of those people (and there are millions more so far).

            I personally need something more than just, “Yeah, I’ll go read this book sometime, at my leisure, sure”. I think it’s amazing that people like you can actually do this successfully, but knowing myself, I’d never do it and the style of coaching jived well with my personality and way of working on (or not working on, gulp!) things.

  7. Wow, I understand this. A lot. My main tip would be: revamp your resume. HR standards are changing. Things like fresh formats, +1 pages (even for young professionals) is now ok. They like seeing experience outside the professional world that makes you unique. One skill that always caught people’s interest for me- I have a black belt in martial arts. It shows them discipline and dedication to get that far. It also reflect the time I spend helping as an unofficial ‘assistant teacher’ in the classes our Grand Master teaches at a local university (where I got my start with his dojo!). Volunteer time and unique hobbies can also help you stand out. (just don’t go over-board). I actually received a wonderful favor from a mutual acquintance who has a Master’s in HR. She took my stale resume, using the same information, revampped it into an amazing, eye-catching format and intro. My calls for interviews sky-rocketed and I landed the type of job I’d been dreaming about.

    Another tip: think outside the box. I applied for things I might not have usually considered and I spend 15 months working for a scientific society (my field is international development). It was fascinating, I loved working with the members and chapter leaders- I’m a people person! I learned a new set of skills, owned my own work portfolio rather than being someone’s ‘project assistant’ and became much more marketable.

    I second the ‘utilize temp agencies’. They can help you bring income in in the short-term and lead to a permenant position. The trick, build a strong relationships with your contact at the agency and DON’T fall off their radar. You should be checking in with them to see what positions they have to match your skillset, not the other way around.

    And FINALLY: in the meantime, find something to do that makes you happy and moves you towards other goals. I had a goal to loose weight and become more fit, but not a lot of budget for this goal. So, cheap sport? Running! I have now run 2 half-marathons, feel great, and am so very proud of myself. Working on a personal goal while your professional life is stagnant can really help you from taking depressive dives.

    I hope some of these suggestions help! Good luck to you both.

    • You basically wrote everything that I was thinking of, lol.

      Mentioning other hobbies/experiences outside of work is great. I put on my resume my experience within my college’s international club (leading and participating), and it was one of the main reasons why my current job hired me. Basically, I had experience working with international people, and now I work within an office of roughly 52 Indians (and I’m the only American citizen, it’s interesting).

      Same for me with the trying out new jobs thing. I tried out working as a business analyst (major is business management) and it was a blast. Ended up flying out weekly to different states and companies. The strangest part was that my main job was to give advice to companies that were struggling… and they actually listened to me. One even offered me a job on site.

      Also, check the places where you’re looking for jobs. I’ve noticed that Craigslist tends to have lower paying jobs while the nicer jobs tends to be on or LinkedIn.

      Lastly, take advantage of the free classes online. Like, I’m looking to currently leave my boring, mind numbing office manager job (grateful to have it, but it’s not my dream) and go into my dream job of art management. To help get to my dream job, I’ve been reading articles and watching lectures on the subject. My personal favorite teacher so far is Marie Forleo (, she offers free weekly mini classes on finding a business that you’ll love.

    • I was job hunting seriously for about a year. But with the wonderful support of my husband, he always encouraged me to “make something” of my time unemployed.
      So I took on volunteering opportunities, read through my “to read”/bedside table book list, and learned all I could about effective interviewing. I also wrote some short pieces (several featured right here! yay!)
      My point is, just because you’re unemployed/underemployed doesn’t mean you should take it sitting down. Make something of your abundant free time.

  8. I know dem feels. I’m just starting year 3 of post grad school un/underemployment. We’re lucky that my husband has a great job but it’s keeping us in an area where the opportunities are not good for me (being a librarian in an area full of library schools is a bummer).

    Here’s what I do: I currently freelance research and I ask anyone that I work for to pass my name along if they like me and that I’m looking for a full time position. I network constantly, at the dog park, on the train, in Starbucks, local professional associations (try to talk down any membership fees many have a student/unemployed rate). Nothing aggressive but if someone talks to me and I can bring it up I do. I’ve gotten more work from the dog park then professional groups.
    When I was more desperate for cash, I let personal contacts know and I cleaned houses, house-sat, dog walked, babysat, tutored, helped decorate and cook for parties. This is a pretty good time of year for things like that. Some housesitting gigs will allow you to stay in the house, although it might not be an option with your pets. I know some resorts offer housing to employees.
    When my resume wasn’t getting me any results I got everyone and their mother to look at it to revise and tweek it. My college provides help to alumni free for life. Libraries often have job search help that might work for you. When I found that I didn’t have specific skills or types of experience that are required for the jobs I wanted, I took a 3hour a week volunteer position for a couple months and a cheap adult ed class.
    As for mental health: I schedule time for job hunting and schedule breaks. I make sure I get out of the house once a day. I do things that make me feel productive. When I was living with my parents I talked about what I was doing all day so it didn’t look like I sat in my room doing nothing. It might make you feel better to start putting aside anything you can toward moving out, even if it’s just the pennies you find on the sidewalk.

  9. I literally just went through this. My husband was finishing up school, I was stuck in a job that was AWFUL —- and we really sat down and re-prioritized. Much like a lot of these suggestions, we did something BIG. I quit my 60+ hours a week job that was SO STRESSFUL and now work part time at a yoga studio, while going back to school for my teacher certification.

    There have been a lot of challenges (no money!) but I am happier and healthier. My husband is about to graduate, and we are finally excited about the future, after three years of “now what?”

    Some ways that helped me make that transition is volunteering. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do after that stressful job, so I volunteered with a few places, to get an idea of what I really wanted to invest my time in.

    Also, becoming comfortable with no money – I know money is always going to be an issue, but sometimes, you have to dive even deeper into the penniless pit in order to climb out of it later, if that makes sense. Obviously no money=no food, but you become VERY creative when you are backed into a corner, for example:

    We luckily are in charge of a duplex – we get free rent and manage the property in our spare time. I did this through college – a rental company hired me to live in their biggest nicest apartment and my job was cleaning, renting and small maintenance (shoveling, fixing lights) in exchange for free rent, which eventually led to an actual savings account. Best thing I ever did, for about 7-10 hours extra a week. Look into this – some places may be a tight squeeze for families, but the benefits of saving that $800+ a month are glorious. Pound the pavement for these places – often they only advertise in house, I literally found the posting for the position in the lobby of the apartment I was living in at the time.

  10. Have you looked into substitute teaching? You don’t have to have an education degree and it pays pretty well (normally about $100/day). It takes a little while to get certified (there are background checks etc.). I did this for a while when I first moved to live near my husband. Not going to lie, it’s not super fun, but you can do it a couple of days a week to supplement other part time work.

    I also would recommend the revamp of the resume. I typically will tailor mine to specific jobs/industries. Different industries are looking for different “buzz words”. The one that I had tailored to get a job teaching didn’t work when I moved into the world of non-profits. Having someone else look it over can also be really helpful.

    good luck!

    • This is not a bad idea at all, but it is location dependent. When I was living in Houston I didn’t even need a college degree to substitute, just about two years of credits. When I looked at moving up to be with my boyfriend (now husband) the requirements were *much* higher.

      If you go this route than I recommend buying hard candies in bulk and bribing the shit out of the kids to get them to behave.

    • I second LXV. In Colorado, it used to be you only needed a bachelor’s degree for a 3-year license, but they recently changed it so you actually need a teacher’s license to be a substitute. So you really have to find out what the requirements are and keep an eye on them (I missed out on subbing, I intended to do it, got fingerprinted and everything, then didn’t, and the next year the requirements had changed so I was out of luck.).

      • Subbing will really depend location to location. In Ontario you cannot get on a supply list unless you have a Bachelor of Education degree. Many school boards and districts haven’t even opened their lists over the past few years, and those that do take very few new teachers. Supply teaching can also be dependent on religion (hello Catholic schools) and can require a difficult level of flexibility in terms of scheduling, transportation, and the obvious area of whatever it is you are called to teach. It can be great work, but I’m very hesitant of people going to teach children and youth if they do not have the background or training.

    • Honestly, unless you are a teacher or considering becoming one, I wouldn’t advise substitute teaching as a way to get out of a rut. I’m a teacher and I trained for four years at college to do my job. It’s *hard*, and the more I learn about teaching, the more I realize I have to learn. In the area I live, teaching is also super-competitive, there are more teachers than there are jobs. An unqualified sub would find it very difficult or impossible to get work. Teaching is an amazing job. I love it, and totally disagree with the previous comment that it isn’t super fun. If you are committed, then both you and the students will get so much out of it. The students deserve a teacher who really wants to be teaching them, and you deserve a job that you genuinely enjoy and will be fulfilled by.
      Ducky, you didn’t say what your interests are, so it’s hard to suggest alternatives. If you have experience and an interest in working with students or within education, you could look for non-teaching jobs like classroom aide, schools outreach at museums and galleries, children’s clubs/summer camps, tutoring at the library. Or if you’re creative, you could run art or music classes for children or young people. Good luck!

  11. For me, it helps to focus on one, realistic thing that I can change. Whether it’s finding some, small way to make living with your dad more comfortable or creating a plan to save money, focus your attention on something that has a start and a clear finish. Set daily goals instead of vague, nebulous ones.

    As a note on the job-seeking: please read “overqualified” as “we’re afraid you’re going to quit as soon as you find something better.”
    If a job tells you that you’re overqualified, you need to demonstrate that you’re not just looking for a job, you’re looking to find a position that you intend to fill for a long time. Nobody wants to invest their time training somebody who’s not going to be around for a while or who might be a “I’m not paid enough to do that” Grumpy Gus. It’s true that some places will call out any stock response to turn you down, but for many businesses, this is a real concern.
    So soothe their concerns! If it’s a job you could really see yourself sticking with, follow up with the hiring director. Just an email or phone call to express your interest in the position and passion for finding a work team that you’re a great fit with. If you’re willing to make a statement about the time you’re willing to stay in that position, even better.
    In the future, if “overqualified” comes up in your interview, respond with this: “What concerns you about that?” Then speak to their concerns.

    • This is a great addition to a well-written cover letter. TELL the hiring manager exactly why this job is a great fit for you.
      You have too much “education” for the job? Say you are looking to start on a new career path, and you would love to start at their company.
      Too much experience? Say that because of your experience you know what the job will require, and you are prepared to do the job you’re applying for, not a job you’ve held in the past.
      Sheryl Sandberg writes in ‘Lean In’ that your career isn’t like a ladder, just going up and up. It’s more like one of those climbing nets on the playground, where you’re moving all over on your way to ‘the top.’

    • Asking them why i feel i’m overqualified is a good idea if i ever get the chance to use it in a conversation i will. most of the time I’m rejected in an email where they express they felt i was overqualified so they chose another candidate and at that point i feel like its 2 late.

      • It depends on the business. If they’re a place that tends to always be hiring, it’s never too late. Your email could get you an invitation to come back in and re-interview. If you don’t get asked back, you can still wait a while and reapply. In that case, if it doesn’t come up in your interview, feel free to bring it up. Something like “I applied for a similar position with this company and was told that I was considered overqualified. Is that a concern for you?”

  12. I find that increasing my organization helps me get out of a rut. Journaling about my current situation, or writing up lists and tables (making a budget and sticking to it) helps me see what I’ve been missing, and helps me move out of where I’m stuck at.
    I also find that once I start feeling productive again in one area of my life, it grows into other areas. So maybe take time to thoroughly scrub & tidy your house, or train for a 5k, or really get your budget in order. Then you’ll have lots of productive energy to put into revamping your resume, and going to continuing education or networking events.

  13. Have you considered trying to start a business? I know that’s usually considered a very expensive undertaking, but it doesn’t have to be- there are definitely things you can do on a very low budget. Service things like tutoring or cleaning or dog walking or freelancing (depending on your skill set,etc) require very little start-up, or heck, if you’ve got a computer and a camera, start blogging with an eye towards monetizing. I make a living doing something that I started with yarn, needles, a computer with Office, and a camera- all stuff I had anyway. It took years to get to the point where I was making a living, but at least I was making *some* money during those years instead of none. Even if it doesn’t really pan out, it gives you something to fill the gap on your resume. Volunteering would do that, too. Anything that makes it look like you were unemployed by choice rather than by necessity is probably a good thing.

    • I really have dreamed about being my own boss and making a living running my own business. I actually had started to get my Masters in Business Management which was tough with my BA in psychology and sociology but i put in my best effort. Sadly I had to quit when I lost my job because the only work i could find interfered with my school schedule.
      I paint, carve stone, make jewelry, tie-dye, do a little wood burning, Make hair horns, tutus, Im trying to learn how to use sculpy to make beautiful things, and i know for Christmas Santa is giving me a soap making kit because i’I’ve been dying to learn. Despite all that i’m afraid to sell my stuff partly cuz i’m not sure how to price things and the other part because I find I’m a lously sales person and I consistently doubt if what i do will ever be good enough to charge people money for…. or where to begin because I think places like etsy and pay pal combined charge to much its like 6 % of your profits.

      As far as blogging goes its an area I don’t really understand. I know that probably sounds weird. I’ve read a bunch and i don’t get how people make money doing it and well really who cares how many bowl movements a cat makes in a day (seriously this was mentioned was a in a cooking blog i read once because the lady was fretting her cat pooped to much)

      • If you were working on your MBA and putting in good effort, you’re smart enough to learn how to do these things you “don’t really understand.” Try some of those For Dummies books. They have one on just about every subject, and they’re really helpful. I find that they’re written in a concise way, so you only get information you need, and the layout/format is usually in such a way that you can take their advice step-by-step.

      • I mentioned this in my comment below, but look into any free business workshops that might be in your area, especially at your community college.

        I didn’t think I could do sales or run a business either. I’m a very quiet, introverted person. But a friend convinced me to start selling my things and I have had so much fun meeting new people and getting feedback. I’m still learning and will continue to learn for a while. But don’t let you psyche yourself out! Just pick one thing that you are passionate about and have experience with. You need to specialize, and try to find a niche that might not be filled yet. You have a lot of hobbies, it sounds like, and you might be able to synergize some of those talents into one idea. Whatever the product/idea, look into learning about marketing. The teacher at the business workshop I went to recently said that the adage “the product will speak for itself” has no truth to it. Good marketing, knowing your target market, knowing your product, and knowing what about your business has over your competition is what makes the sale. Also, look into the articles on Etsy for sellers. There’s lots of info there.

        Good luck!

        • Also, don’t get overwhelmed by the idea of a niche- don’t feel like “well, people are already selling tutus so I can’t do that.” You can sell BETTER tutus, or GOTH tutus, or BLUE tutus, or tutus for dogs, or organic tutus, or tutus with ribbons or….

      • Ditto what the others said- those are all very learnable things! If you’ve got a halfway decent library around you they’ll likely have a ton of books on the subject (there are quite a few now specifically about selling crafts and such.) There are lots of ebooks and entire blogs/websites on both topics as well.

        As for blogs, usually people make money by selling ad space (which requires you to build up a good sized readership) or by offering other products (ebooks, e-courses, etc) to their readerbase. Again, lots of good books on the topic 🙂 Of course it requires an affection for and skill at writing (and probably photography)… but believe me, no matter the topic (even cat poop) there are people who want to read about it. It just takes some effort to find ’em all.

        Either way, don’t get bogged down by “I don’t know how” or “I don’t know if”… break it into baby steps, find out how to find out what you need to find out, and go from there.

  14. I am so happy to read all of these encouraging suggestions! I am fortunate to be employed part-time in my field, but I have been looking for full-time renewable employment for quite some time now, and it is very frustrating. Many of these comments are advice I should definitely put to action.

  15. I agree with revamping the resume. Start from scratch – My boyfriend trashed his when he was getting zero callbacks and went on monster and read some articles. He rewrote his resume from nothing and posted it up on job search sites, and got callbacks and people offering him positions (crappy call center ones, but still. Money!) Revamping his resume put the fire under his butt and made him FEEL like he was making progress, even though he still just works overnights at Target. Feeling better about it has given him confidence, and more interviews (we’re still waiting to hear back on a few!)

    Substitute teaching is a good idea – and in my state you only need a degree to get teacher certification, so check that out – no crazy courses or anything.

    Other than that, if you really can’t get a job, take some productive time – write a novel, some poetry, paint, develop personal skills, find a hobby you can turn into a small business. For a while I made soap and sold it online through facebook and etsy! It was a BLAST and I can’t wait to start it up again.

    Any skills you work on now you can market later – make sure that anyone who is looking to employ you sees that your unemployed time isn’t wasted, it’s productive.

    I’ve found that even just setting a goal helps me feel like I’m moving up in life – even if I’m not in any measurable way.

    Good luck, and I hope things start going better for you! <3

  16. I would agree with the idea of looking into a temp agency.

    If you’re desperate to move out of your dad’s house, look into apartment managing. Many management situations include free rent on an apartment. Plus it is added experience for your resume!

  17. I agree with everyone who has suggested going to a temp agency, and I would also suggest that if you still aren’t having luck getting steady work, maybe signing up for a class to learn a trade in something to get a certification. It’s frustrating to have degree that you aren’t able to get work with and still have to pay all the loans back anyway. One of my friends was in a similar situation and ended up taking a class to become a CNA. It’s nothing like what she studied for in college, but she has health insurance and a steady source of income again. She doesn’t plan to stay in that field for the rest of her life (and its definitely not for everyone) but its helped her avoid lesser paying retail and fast food jobs while she tries for the kind of work she really wants to do. Good luck to you and your husband!

  18. My advice for your living situation:


    Now I know roommates aren’t for everyone, so if you really can’t picture yourself ever living with other people (besides family), that’s understandable.

    In my own experience though (and take that for what it’s worth) roommates have been wonderful for me and my husband. And YES, we have had some bad roommates but we’ve also had some wonderful roommates. And even though it may seem like living with roommates is no different than living with a parent… it TOTALLY is. There is a freedom there, for sure. And you certainly don’t feel like a burden on anyone when you’re living with roommates, because you split the bills equally. Moving in with other people was the only way we were able to afford to move out of my dude’s parents’ house and I’m so glad we did.

    Also, we got married while living with roommates and I was a little sad at the time that we were married and wouldn’t have our own place. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do when you get married? Buy a house or at the very least have a place all to yourselves? But honestly, it works out just fine for us. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on something we “should” have like I thought I would. It especially works out for us right now because we share a 3 bedroom with 2 single guys. They couldn’t give two shits about the way the house looks (aside from their bedrooms and a bathroom they share) so I get to decorate the livingroom, kitchen, and dining room however I want – it really feels like our very own home. I would strongly advise against living with another couple though – we’ve tried it twice and it didn’t end well either time.

    Anyway… yes. If you think living with roommates is something you could do, I highly recommend that over living with your Dad. I’d imagine living with him feels like living in HIS house, whereas if you were living with roommates it would be everyone’s house.

  19. I agree with the roommates thing – there’s no shame in living with other people to get out of your current situation. My husband and I got engaged and married while we were living with two other friends, and it was hard, but cheap!

    I would also recommend looking into low income housing. You’d be surprised what is there and what you might qualify for. There are programs in place to help you get on your feet, and they’re there to be used! Check with your state or county department of social and health services.

    As far as the rut is concerned, I absolutely understand. Ours was broken when my husband went back to school to get a technical degree after discovering his BA/BS was essentially useless. He’s now a pharmacy technician who makes far more than minimum wage, and we’re preparing for him to go to pharmacy school to become a full pharmacist – in that way, his bachelor’s degree won’t ACTUALLY go to waste. I’d suggest just looking into the local technical or community colleges – you’d be surprised what you can certify in in under a year.

    • Along the lines of low-income housing, have you looked into income-based repayment plans for your loans? In the US, anyway (which is where I’m assuming you are since you have crippling student loan debt and we are one of the few countries that allows and encourages this), IBR is a great way to make only small payments (or no payments, if your income is low enough or you’re unemployed) on those loans. Sure, it may extend the amount of time it takes to eventually pay the loans off, but as far as I know you don’t accrue any interest while you’re on IBR- and that gives you time and space for finding a job that pays well.

      ALSO~~~ Just found out about this one. If you teach in a depressed area OR work for a non-profit for 10 years, making even small IBR payments… YOUR STUDENT LOANS ARE FORGIVEN at the end of the 10 years. Whatever’s left of them is totally gone. BAM.

      • I just learned about the lower income repayment plans and I’m waiting on the paperwork to apply 🙂 Also We applied for assisted living and we were told he makes to much and we would have to part with our dogs

      • IBR is a lifesaver. I do believe interest still accrues on it in some cases, but there’s limits on capitalization, etc. You’d have to talk to your loan servicer about the details in your individual case. They do also have general 25-year forgiveness if you’re not doing the public-service one, which obviously that’s a long time but it’s nice to know it doesn’t have to be with you FOR.EV.ERRR if circumstances don’t allow you to pay it all by then (though whatever amount is forgiven, you’ll have to pay taxes on in that 25th year because it’ll be considered income you received).

    • In America jobs are allowed to check your credit before you start working for them. Especially any job where you’re handling significant amounts of money, the job wants to make sure you won’t be foolish with it. So you can absolutely be denied a job if your credit is bad.
      This is a HUGE issue in the US, because so many peoples homes were foreclosed on in the last few years, then people lost their jobs, and couldn’t get new ones because of the blemish on their credit. Then they’re also denied a rental because their credit is bad. A landlord doesn’t want to rent to someone who doesn’t appear to pay their bills on time. It’s a vicious horrible cycle.

      • The whole credit thing is a friggin’ mess. My credit isn’t AWFUL but it’s not good either, because I didn’t get a credit card when I was super young/a student… and now they won’t give me one, because I don’t have enough credit! It’s absurd. If I really wanted to build up credit I could get a prepaid one, but… eff it. I have a mortgage now (with my husband who has better credit than I) so hopefully that’ll help over time. It’s just frustrating because I’ve never paid a bill late in my life, but because I’ve NOT ever gone into debt, I’m punished 😛 The whole “get a card just so you can use it and pay it off every month” song in dance is so friggin stupid. How about I use real live money, that I earned, to buy real live goods, the end. *mumblegrumblegrumble*

    • In Pennsylvania where i live they do use your credit score to determine if you should be allowed to handle money but its no longer just large amounts. My friend couldn’t get a job at a McDonalds as a cashier because his credit was poor. I lost out on working in a scrap yard because my credit wasn’t great.
      Also you cannot get secret level clearance for federal jobs if your credit is poor and if you ever file for bankruptcy you can’t get a fed job because your deemed a security risk because you might be bribe able.

    • I’m an Aussie too and I pretty much came in here to ask that!

      Also, student loans make no sense to me, how on earth would someone who’s only just graduated be earning enough to pay back thousands of dollers in loans…..

    • I wondered this too. It’s not common in Ontario for employers to check credit unless you’re working in a financial sector. I only had to have it done when I sold life insurance because it’s a financial product.

  20. Not sure if this has been mentioned yet or not, but I found a great way to pick up work was to get certified as a nurses’ aid. I worked as an aid throughout college, even though I was not going to school for nursing at all; I had a friend who was and told me how much they always need help. Most places pay you for your training, it’s only about 2 weeks and then you are certified and can always get work. I was per diem since I would work when on break from school, but even if I happened to have a weekend free I could call and have them put me on the schedule, they were always happy to have me in. It’s not easy work, but can be incredibly rewarding and it will always be in demand. You can work as much as you want (or are able) and believe me, you’ll be much more appreciative of nurses & their staff after the experience.

  21. First of all, it sounds like you already have some sort of degree -thus student loan repayments. Have you called your lender to reduce or defer your payments until you are up on your feet? Every time I have called about my monthly repayments, I have been treated fairly and with respect. I suspect many of the people in the call center are in the same position as me and can relate. I have always been able to defer or reduce my payments when I was underemployed/unemployed.

    Secondly, have you considered doing a full time volunteer program such as AmeriCorps? I did this after studying abroad to get into my line of work at the time. I was a program coordinator for an economic development organization, which led me to become the executive director of the organization three years later. While it was tough making ends meet for the year doing AmeriCorps (and a weekend part time job), it paid off in the long run and I now have the experience to land most economic development jobs. There are plenty of fields for AmeriCorps from working with children to community building. Bonus – your student loans are on forbearance while in the program, you get a small stipend to help repay your student loans when your year is complete, your student loan interest is paid by the government while you are in the program, you get limited health care, and you get a small living stipend. It is something worth looking into.

  22. I just want to second and third all the people who mentioned using your local library as a resource. (Or the bigger library in a nearby city.) Libraries have tons of free resources – jobs boards, free seminars, access to online classes for free, and of course, books about figuring out what to do next in life (which might not be necessary after the amazing response this post got).

    Also – I just heard about TaskRabbit. You can sign up to be a “rabbit” and then take on tasks that people need done. Some are menial – picking up someone’s dry cleaning – but some are more substantial. It’s mostly in a few cities right now, although some of the jobs could be done remotely (like proof reading or research). It’d be a way to bring in some cash, at least.

    • Along the lines of TaskRabbit. There’s online sites similar to this for tutoring and voice recording work. For attorneys there are online legal advice sites that need professionals to answer client questions.
      This seems to be a new, but growing area of temp or freelance work. See what you can find through professional connections, Craigslist, and Linked In.

  23. Thanks everyone for the comments and ideas this duck appreciates its. I still feel stuck but at least there are a few things for me to learn more about.

    I’ve been thinking about this since i posted and i feel i should have added a little more about my life, so for future posters here it is

    My hubby and i live in a rural town, nearest larger city is over an hour away and we avoid it like it contains the zombie plague. Here there are a few factory jobs but almost everything is retail/ customer service and pays 7.50/hr.
    We refuse to leave each other for long periods of time like weeks and we cannot leave our dogs anywhere they must go where we go.

    I’ve got a BA in Psychology & Sociology. I’ve looked into trade school and classes through our local career link (state job assistance program) they have told me i cannot get loans or have free classes because i have my B.A. so i would have to pay out of pocket to take classes.

    I love to create things anything actually i paint, work with sculpy clay, make tutus & tie-dye, make jewelry, all sorts of stuff.

    My husbands job comes with the option to transfer anywhere in the world their company services. which is a zillion places.
    We both crave and fear change.

    • I think that last bit sounds promising. TRAVEL! I’m sure your husband’s company has outfits in smaller towns, so it wouldn’t mean going to a huge city.
      But if you feel like you’re in a rut, and he can easily find work elsewhere, the situation is no different that where you’re at now, except it would be new and you’ll learn and use your skills to adapt and cope. At the very least you’ll get to learn a new city, try out new stores or find out what sort of local work is available there that’s not a factory or retail sales.

  24. I think it’s prudent you apply for FEWER jobs. If you try for 10 jobs a day, or even 10 jobs a week you’re not doing your background research on the company or tailoring your resume and cover letter to each open position. Quality over quantity.

    I can also tell you, having been on the hiring side of things, during the quick sort we ditch all applicants that a) look like the applicant didn’t read the job announcement carefully, b) didn’t follow application instructions, or c) have poorly formatted cover letters or resumes.

    If you have a state-run or local run job center start there. Meet with their staff and get some help searching for the types of job you’re best qualified for and interested in. Go to resume writing & interviewing workshops.

    I also agree with the suggestions above to try and get some of the on-call work like working as a substitute teacher or with a temp agency. Even if the work is minimal it helps close the employment gaps on your resume and may get your foot in the door.

    • I also agree with finding a local job centre! When I got laid off from the auto sector in 2008, I took as many of the classes as I could at our job centre. I learned how to improve my resume and cover letters and how to tailor each for specific jobs. Employers don’t want to read something that looks like you mass produce them. They should be position-specific. I also picked up really great skills for interviewing.

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