Afraid Your Dream Job Won’t Pay the Bills? Check Out These 11 Tips.

“It’s impossible to do what you love AND make enough money.  You can’t have both.”

“It’s too risky to career change.”

“But what about…my retirement, the kids’ college, our mortgage?”

“My salary = my security.”

“I’m the breadwinner.  I don’t have the luxury of going after a career I love.”

Sound familiar?

Hey, I hear you girl.

I refused to go looking for my “dream job” for over 10 years…. Because I was scared of what I might find.

I was scared I might discover that the “dream job” couldn’t pay the bills the way my cushy corporate communications job did.

Even after I “chose my choice” as a Career Coach…. I quickly discovered that the rest of the world didn’t necessarily think I could make it work financially either.

I’ll never forget meeting with my tax accountant several months after leaving my corporate job and going full-time with my business.

As I sat down, she was prepared to breeze through our meeting, asking me “Same as last year?  No major changes?”

“Actually,” I proudly shared, “I’ve started my own business.”

“Oh,” she remarked as she craned her neck to peer at her computer screen displaying my corporate salary from last year.

She couldn’t help herself, exclaiming,  “But WHY would you leave your corporate job?  You were making so much money!”

Without hesitation, I replied, “Ma’am I shed tears in the bathroom stall at that corporate job because of how unhappy I was there.  No amount of money on your computer screen is worth that.”

I was met with raised eyebrows, but on we proceeded with my first tax return as an entrepreneur.

Before I left, I asked her whether I needed to come back quarterly, as I had heard that made more sense once you run your own business.

Once more I got the eyebrow raise.   “Well, let’s just see how your first year of business goes before you worry about that.”

As I walked out of that office, I thought to myself…. She doesn’t know me very well.

She also didn’t realize that I wasn’t just going after ANY job.  

I was going after my DREAM JOB.  

The fact is, people are more successful when pursuing career goals that matter to them on a deeper level.

When you are passionate about something, it is a pleasure to become an expert at the topic…. Which by default, leads to a higher success rate.

Case in point, within a year at my dream job as a Career Coach, I was back to making the same six figure income I had previously pulled in my corporate role.


Alright, let’s get right down to STRATEGY. 

If you are worried that going after your dream role will cut your salary…. take a gander at these 11 tips and consider which ones you might implement immediately.

1. What will this career change truly cost me?

I’ve noticed most people I talk to are IMAGINING the worst here versus actually doing the research to find out the real numbers.

Please be the latter.

This of course means you first need to IDENTIFY your dream job before you start to conjure up stories around going broke by going after your dreams.  

Career Changers:  Once you identify your dream job, get on Glassdoor and look up salary. Speak to professionals in your dream line of work to find out…

a) What level (Entry/Manager/Director/VP/etc) you can realistically transition into?

b) Short Term: How much that level at your dream job will pay? 

c) Long Term: How much you can make at that job once you’ve gained some experience?

Budding Entrepreneurs:   Assess your capital needs. What will it take to start your business?  How long will it take to get profitable?

2. See a financial advisor.  

A trusted financial advisor will give you the real deal on what’s possible and what’s not.

They’ll keep you on track with your kids’ college funds, retirement, etc.

They’ll help you navigate the financial aspect of the career change process and potentially uncover options to save money you didn’t realize were there.

3. Moonlighting

Want to feel “safe?”  Go the moonlighting route to gain traction towards your career goal AND test out the waters before you go all-in.

For the budding entrepreneur this may mean creating your website or freelancing after hours.  In my case, I was getting certified as a career coach nights and weekends in between working my corporate job.

For the career transition artist, it may mean going after new certifications, building your network, working on side projects, etc. while still at your current role.

 4. Bridge Job

Perhaps you are currently in a toxic work environment.  Or working for a toxic boss. Or you are simply completely burnt out at your job.

Consider transitioning first to a bridge job before you take the BIG leap to the dream job.

The purpose of a bridge job is to give you room to breathe…. (less intensity, less hours, more sanity) while you simultaneously go after and save up for your dream role.

 5. Minimize Expenses

Things I was willing to spend money on during my career transition:  website design, professional branding photography, coaching certification, business courses, business tools (like Acuity, Dubsado, Stripe, MailChimp), and a coach to guide me.

Things I was no longer willing to spend money on during my career transition:  spas, pedicures, expensive clothing, frequent extravagant trips, eating out multiple times a week.  You know, all the stuff I was doing previously to cover up my disdain for working at an unfulfilling job.  I even moved out of the city to save money on cheaper rent.

Before you make a face at your computer screen, please know that you are not quitting the fun stuff forever!  

Believe me, I love spas and international travel!  This is SHORT TERM to give you a financial boost before you make the switch.

If you’re old school, like me, print out the last 6 months of bank and credit card statements.  You are seeking places to trim the fat. ESPECIALLY auto-charge, recurring, non-essential fees. (Bye, bye JibJab subscription.)

Get out the highlighters, because you are going line-by-line.  Yellow = Fixed expenses. Orange = Expenses to cancel. Pink = Expenses to reduce.

For my techie peeps:  Download the “YNAB – You Need a Budget” or “Mint” app to track your expenses.  This will be a truly eye-opening experience for you.

 6. Financial Re-engineering

Now it’s time to uncover the hidden expenses (otherwise known as the heavy hitters.)

Can you refinance your home or car loan for a lower rate?

Can you transfer your credit card balances onto a 0% interest credit card?

 7. Create a Buffer Fund

Decide how many months bills you want saved before you feel safe to take the career change leap.  

This may depend on how risk averse you are, your financial situation, and whether you are a career changer or budding entrepreneur.  Many land somewhere between 3-6 months.

Want an instant buffer fund boost?  Bookmark your income tax return or yearly bonus to go directly into your Dream Career Fund.

8. Do Basic Math To Understand Timing.

As mentioned before, best case scenario you are consulting with a financial advisor.  But, here is some BASIC math to help you get an understanding on career change timing.

Question #1:  How many months bills do you want to have saved up in your buffer fund BEFORE you make your move?  Now multiply that number by your BASIC BILLS (I’m talking rent, utilities, car, insurance, groceries, etc.)

For example:  If I want 6 months bills saved up X $4,000 for basic bills each month = $24,000

Question #2:  After trimming the fat from your expenses…. How much can you save per paycheck?  Per month?  

For example:  After trimming my expenses I can save an additional $3,000 per month. 

Final Math:  Now take the take the TOTAL AMOUNT you want saved (Question #1) divided by how much you can save each month (Question #2).  

Now you have an idea on TIMING… as far as when you’ll feel comfortable & confident in making the transition.

For example:  $24,000 divided by $3,000 means I’ll feel ready to take the leap in 8 months.

Side note:  Do NOT wait 8 months to START making your career move.  You want to start chipping away at your career transition now.  Identify your dream role, get outside coaching & mentorship support to build a career change strategy, network, create branding material, interview prep, etc.

9. Diversify your income stream

You don’t have to put all your eggs in one basket.

Consider diversifying your income stream.

Is there a part-time “bread & butter” job you can take to pay your basic bills WHILE you go after your dream role?

Do you have a property or room you can rent out?

You get the picture.  All your money does not have to come from one source while you make the career transition.

10. Try Living On Your Estimated Income

The best way to conquer your fear of not having enough money to make a career change?  Try LIVING on your estimated initial income for a few months.

At worst, you decide this career change initial salary is not for you AND now you have a ton of money saved.

At best, you realize, “Hey this is not so bad.”  Your fear around career change will SHRINK once you realize the big bad “salary” monster can’t get you any more.  Once you show yourself what is possible…. Anything becomes possible.

11. Money Mindset

I’m a coach, so you know I have to go “there” before I close out.

If you cling to limiting beliefs…. You are going to talk yourself right out of your dream by keeping yourself stuck in a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Thoughts lead to Feelings lead to Actions lead to Results.

And it’s circular.  

Your thoughts snowball into the results you see.  The results you see will continue to prove the original thought.

Adjust the thought and you will trigger new behavior which will trigger new results.

Once you have identified your dream career, embrace the notion you will do whatever it takes to make it work.

I had one client who used to tell herself  “I need to stay in this job I hate to provide for my family.”  

Over time, she shifted this belief to…. “I want to spend more TIME with my kids which is why I want to transition to a career which will honor this value.” 


I want to show my girls an example of what is POSSIBLE when you go after your dreams.”


“I want to show up as my best self for my girls. Staying in a job I hate trickles into me being stressed out and not fully present with my family.”

Once she changed her core belief/thought… It changed how she felt about making the career change….which influenced the actions she took to make it happen…. And ultimately the results she achieved.


Which of these career change financial strategies will you try out this week? 

Start now.

Your future self will thank you.


Start the discovery process to uncover what your dream career truly is.

CLICK HERE to download your Free Surefire Guide to Finding Your Passion.

Let’s do this.

Betty Kempa, CPC, ELI-MP, is an executive career change coach helping mid to senior-level corporate women transition out of unfulfilling jobs and into their dream careers. 



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