The Girl Behind the Curtain

At this point, anyone who has been reading along knows a lot about my finances, but not much about me. On the personal side, I’m pretty average. I have a younger brother and a younger sister, and my parents are divorced. Both have remarried in the past couple of years. I live with my grandfather, because my mother and I have a MUCH better relationship when I don’t live with her. I rarely have spare time, but when I do I read, exercise (not as much as I should), play around with Excel, and hang out with friends. Up until a couple of months ago I went out to clubs and bars a lot, but I don’t have time for it anymore (not to mention I can’t afford it). I’ve been with my boyfriend Jay for 10 months on and off. In April we’ll be celebrating a year together.


I haven’t exactly been secretive about what I make every month (some quick math should give you an idea), and many people I know ask me why I don’t make more, since the industry average for my job is approximately $34,000. My salary doesn’t even reach the bottom of the industry pay scale.

There are two very good reasons for this.

  1. My company is pretty small.

Okay, so why don’t I leave and try my luck elsewhere?

Well, I can’t. Not just because it’s my family’s company, but because of my second reason for not being paid what I should be.

2.   I’m not technically qualified to do what I’m doing.

When I left high school, I wanted to be a history teacher. I went to WLU for an Honours History program. For a number of reasons (the school was overcrowded, the classes were not what I expected, I became extremely depressed, and I preferred taking shots over doing my assignments), I left after the first year and moved home to live with my dad. I spent the next month trying to find a job but wasn’t hired anywhere, no matter what I tried. Eventually, my mom called me and offered me a job. I began working in the warehouse for minimum wage. A few months later, I was trained to work in finance for a few weeks, because our A/R person had a family emergency to attend to. That employee never ended up coming back, so the job was mine.

I was only trained for A/R for a week. Literally. After that, I was on my own. My supervisor helped a lot at first, but I needed to adapt very quickly to succeed. I knew that if I didn’t do my job properly I’d be exiled back to the warehouse and they’d hire someone new. So I worked my ass off to prove myself, and I still do. A couple months into the promotion, I got bumped to salary with a small raise. A year later, I have had the highest raise percentage for two years running. I also started classes for an Accounting diploma. As of April, I’ll have 10 of the 35 credits I need to complete. After I finish, I’ll hopefully be able to bridge into the third year of a Bachelor of Commerce university degree, which I need to be admitted into the CGA program. My hope is that after I’m completely finished my education (with a conservative end date of 8 years from now), I’ll be able to become a controller and rake in some serious cash. It’ll be a long hard road, but I’m totally willing to do it if it means I’m secure in my future.

For now I’m okay with my salary, considering my company pays for my schooling. However, it’s not enough for me to live independently at this point- rent in my town is insanely expensive compared to the next city east. Maybe once my debt is gone and I feel comfortable with my savings, I can find a friend who isn’t crazy and/or broke to move out with and start up on my own. As it is, I have consistently gotten raises as I become more skilled and am able to take on more responsibility, so I really hope that continues- at least until I finish my diploma and can negotiate a little more.

Has anyone else gotten an education while working full-time? How long did it take?


10 responses to “The Girl Behind the Curtain

  1. I think it’s great that you’re taking on opportunities that come to you and doing the best you can, given the situation. It sounds like you’re setting yourself up for a great future.

    I worked part time through most of college, which helped me pay for a portion of my tuition. The rest was covered by scholarships, grants, and a small loan which I’ve since paid back. It took me 4 years to finish undergraduate.

    • That’s definitely what I’m trying to do! Its a little hard sometimes thinking about how far I have to go still, but I know if I don’t keep going, nothing will ever get done. That’s great that you pretty much worked your way through college. I consider scholarship/grants work too, because they can be hard to keep.

      Anyways, thanks for the comment!

  2. I can’t relate to going to school and working full time. I did one, then the other. Take advantage of not having to pay rent now, which I think you are doing! Good luck!

  3. Thanks for your comment on my blog.

    I did my undergraduate full time with my parents paying for 3 years tuition and I paid for the last year and I lived at home (which is a normal arrangement in my country), so I guess I don’t have the same experience. But it would be interesting to follow your journey. Good luck!

  4. That’s great that your company pays for your schooling.

    And yes I worked full time all through undergrad and I’m working full-time as an analyst during my MBA program. It can be done, but it’s a lot of work.

  5. I didn’t work for the first couple of years and then the last couple of years I had a part-time job through work-study. It still took me forever to finish my B.S.

    When I graduated, I entered a program that paid for my M.S. and I finished it in two years while working full-time. I don’t use that degree now but it was not terribly difficult. If it had been in another field, however, I might not say the same thing.

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