Peace of mind is a gift that money can never buy. Sure, we’ve heard the saying, “I would rather cry in a Ferrari, than on the bus” and while that may be true for some, that is not what I am referring to.
Society has a way of telling us what we should and should not be content with. What looks so amazing to others can sometimes be killing us on the inside. It sure was for me.
I started working in D.C. in November of 2016. I was making what I considered a decent amount of money, and it seemed to be everything I ever wanted. My family was proud of me, and most importantly I was proud of me. I had just moved back to the area from Florida, a young, black woman working in the nation’s capital. It felt like a dream.
But you know what wasn’t? The commute.
See, I lived in Baltimore, and that’s about 50 miles away. For a whole year I drove to Washington, D.C. every day. Why? For the money. I also believed that I was saving money. A decent one bedroom apartment in D.C. is not going to be less than $1200, and that’s if you get a deal. Most of the people that work in D.C. commute from various parts of Maryland and Virginia.
I would wake up at 5am, leave my house by 6am, get to work by 8am. After working until 4pm, I would drive, and get home at approximately 6pm. Sometimes as late as 6:45pm or 7:00pm because of traffic and/or construction. That’s about 20hrs a week just driving! I should’ve been driving Uber, or Lyft or something. Why didn’t you take the train? Well, to park at Penn Station in Baltimore it was about $12, a ticket to D.C. on the MARC was $8, and I would still need to put money on my Metro card, to get from Union Station to the station that was closest to my job. Public transportation was going to be more expensive. It also would not have saved me much more time.
Again, I ask, why did I do it? I enjoyed my job for the most part. I have a genuine desire to help others, and connect them with resources that can better their lives, but after a while it became draining. I was working as a case manager in the human services field, with low income families. Not only was my job emotionally demanding, the commute wasn’t helping either. From constant oil changes, to filling up my tank at least twice a week, I was becoming overwhelmed.
I began to apply for jobs, and go on interviews. Most of the companies that were close to me weren’t offering the salary I wanted, so I turned them down. After experiencing migraines, and getting sick more often, I realized my body was telling me that I needed to rest. That I needed to do better. Do you know what I did?
I decided to take a pay cut. It was between that, or just not having a job altogether. I knew that I could not go on like that for another year.
I analyzed my finances, and realized that when I took out the costs of commuting, that the pay cut, wasn’t much of a pay cut at all. It would feel the same after paying bills. Number 1, I didn’t have to pay $300 a month to park anymore. That’s right. I paid $15 a day to park, $20 if you arrive after 8:30, for approximately $300 a month. I also would not have to spend 20 hours a week driving anymore. Imagine that. Driving 20 hours a week, to a job you hate, and paying that much money to park your car there.
I decided to accept a job offer, for a position that still deals with the well-being of others, but not case management. I took a $7,000 pay cut, but I am happier. I can breathe, I am happy to go to work, but most importantly I am at peace. I may have to stretch funds here, and there, and I had to go from gel nails to regular acrylic, but I am happy with where I am at.
I now have time to work on my hobbies, such a blogging, and writing freelance. I also have more time to go to the gym, and read.
Money isn’t everything. Your happiness however, is.