Previously, in Part ONE of A Money Love Story (aka. my financial mess turned dream life)…
I was feeling really unhappy in my job as an on-call organ donation coordinator and my boss was sucking the life out of me, but when Tom’s income plummeted, we needed my paycheck to support our basic needs…and our shopping addiction. Then, surprise! We found out we were pregnant and I knew we needed to sort out our employment situation before the baby came. But Tom couldn’t find a job…what were we going to do? That’s when Tom proposed a solution…
Now, on to Part TWO…
We need a U-Haul? For what?
Tom’s brainiac idea was to move back to our hometown in Pennsylvania. (Interesting side note: Tom and I went to the same high school but didn’t know each other back then. We connected on Facebook 8 years after high school, but both of our families lived in the same town.)
I was incredibly resistant to moving back home. I loved Denver and I’d grown roots there…bought a house there…promised the Rocky Mountains I’d never leave.
But Tom made some good arguments in favor of moving.
His father owned his own business there and needed some help with it due to his declining health. And it did sound nice to be close to our families as we were raising children of our own.
Plus, I’d be able to get away from my annoying boss and ditch being on call. Win-Win.
But what about my house? I’d just bought it 2 years prior in 2009…right after the housing market crashed. I didn’t want to sell it and take a loss…so we decided to hire a property management company and rent it until we could make a better plan. (Remember this detail…it’s important later in the story.)
We packed up everything we owned…loaded ourselves and two dogs into the car…and drove 28 hours cross-country to move back home.
That’s when shit got HARD…real hard.
We moved in with my grandparents temporarily until we could buy a house of our own and Tom immediately started working at his father’s steel fabricating company…which was an absolute nightmare.
Tom’s full-blooded Italian father was so used to doing everything himself that he resented needing help and took out his frustrations on Tom by working him 6 days a week…paying him less than he agreed to before we moved…and sticking Tom with the worst jobs possible.
Tom was exhausted and miserable…and so was I…because while Tom was working non-stop and dealing with his cranky Dad…I couldn’t get a job to save my life.
There were very few jobs for social workers to begin with…and I wasn’t willing to work 50 hour weeks for $30,000 a year. Plus, being pregnant didn’t help. Who was going to hire someone who would be out on maternity leave a few months later?
I was going stir crazy with nothing to do.
Work and hanging out with Tom had been my whole life…and both were suddenly gone. I needed to get back to work…without settling for a crappy job that paid like dirt.
*Ding* (Imagine a lightbulb illuminating above my head)
That’s it! If I can’t get the job I want, I’ll create a job for myself!
Right then and there, I decided to start my own private practice doing long-term psychotherapy…something I’d wanted to do since I’d become a social worker.
There was no better time to live my dream. Having my own business would give me the freedom and flexibility I needed as a new mother…and I was bound to make far more money than I’d earn anywhere else in rural, Northeast PA.
Tom was on board with the plan.
So, I rented a tiny little office inside a chiropractor’s clinic for $300/month…hired a business coach to help me get things up and running…and anxiously awaited for clients to flood my phone line with calls to get an appointment.
If this was a movie, here’s where everything seems to be going great and then a bus comes along out of nowhere and takes out a whole bunch of people, leaving you mortified and in total disbelief.
What happened next felt like getting hit by a bus.
I was ready to open the doors to my new business and start seeing clients…until I found out that my license to practice hadn’t transferred from Colorado to Pennsylvania…and until it did…I couldn’t work.
Little did I know that PA had different board certification exams…and I had to pass a second board exam in order to practice in the state. I couldn’t just wing it…I had to study and prepare for the test…
…but while I took the time to do that…my belly grew bigger…my savings account dwindled…and I kept paying $300/month on rent for an office I wasn’t even able to use.
Instead of making money in my business, I was losing money every single week. My entrepreneurial adventure was off to a bad start.
It seemed like the black cloud of bad luck wouldn’t leave…and we were faced with one challenge after another.
We couldn’t get approved for a mortgage because we hadn’t lived in Pennsylvania for a year and Tom’s dad paid him much less than we’d planned so our income didn’t match up. (Banks were super strict during that time because of all the people who had foreclosed on houses in 2008.)
Tom’s dad drove him out of the business…which left him scrambling to find a job in medicine again and left me hyperventilating at the thought that both of us might be unemployed when our daughter was born.
Our newlywed love fest wore off and Tom and I were fighting ALL the time…completely stressed out and wondering if we’d made the wrong decision to move.
But then…things started to turn around.
My generous grandparents loaned us the money to buy a house and we moved into our new place just 2 months before our daughter was born. Tom got a job working in psychiatric medicine, which he found fascinating and challenging.
And I passed my board exam and started seeing clients in my private practice in January 2012. I was relieved to be back to work…and excited about building my business from the ground up…but being my own boss wasn’t as glamorous as I’d thought it’d be.
Building my caseload was a slow process…and it took a lot more time and work to gain new clients than I thought it would. Many clients didn’t show up for their appointments or would cancel their session at the last minute…and I was getting tired of not having reliable income.
I missed having co-workers to talk to and bounce ideas off of…and I felt like I was working non-stop to grow my business but wasn’t seeing the pay off in my bank account.
I didn’t know what I was doing wrong…because I was completely alone in my business…figuring it out as I went…making lots of mistakes along the way.
But I kept at it…and slowly but surely I added more clients to my schedule…and started to get really good at the work I was doing.
Even though I complained about not making more money…and really did love what I was doing…and I loved being able to set my own schedule, work around my baby’s needs, and I especially loved not having to answer to a boss.
I grew my practice over a 2-year period…and was feeling pretty happy with it…but I wanted more.
I didn’t want to keep exchanging hours for dollars…and I wanted to grow my business and make it more successful.
That’s when I got a wild idea…a completely crazy, exciting, wonderfully awful idea.
What happens next? Find out in Part THREE of this mini-series.