The Daring Pursuit of a Financial “Do Over”

Hear about one woman who moved away to financially start over, landed back on her feet and is paying for college in cash

Today, we are joined by Jaime Donovan, a writer, and personal finance enthusiast, who made a huge transition in her life to financially start over. Instead of letting her circumstances dictate her outcome, Jaime took a step of faith and moved from Arizona to Nebraska, seeking a fresh start and, with hard work, found it.

“Bloom where you are planted,” says the old adage. The old cliché is partly right. However, if your city stops thriving, then you have to move on, too.

I grew up in Phoenix, AZ. During the Great Recession, the best job I could find was part-time work at a Hollywood Video. In minimum wage jobs, it’s common for management to hire part-time workers to cover all shifts so they don’t have to pay benefits. My other job was cleaning my mom’s barbershop on the weekends.

I tried finding a full-time job, but since the economy was terrible, no one was hiring. Then my manager at Hollywood Video said that we were having trouble meeting our monthly rent.

I worked at a Hollywood Video in Scottsdale, which is an affluent suburb of Phoenix. I lived in Peoria, so the drive was roughly 45 minutes. I was spending a lot of gas money at the only job I could get at the time. My manager later would try to retract those words; however, I knew that we were doomed.

To be honest, nothing was working out in Phoenix. My dating life was DOA and I had drifted away from my friendships, as my friends and I became interested in different things. We were no longer close like we were back in high school. There weren’t as many attachments except for my parents.

A few of my co-workers had been transferred to our store from another Hollywood Video store that had recently closed. My intuition told me that it was only a matter of time before our location closed.

I started researching cities that were thriving at the time and came across an article on Moneymagazine that said Papillion, a suburb of Omaha, was a great city to live in. The Omaha economy had a low unemployment compared to the rest of the continental United States.

People normally think that moving to big cities like New York City and Los Angeles offer opportunities. However, these cities suffered terribly during the Great Recession. Even in a good economy, the high cost of living in these cities makes it nearly impossible to thrive, let alone go to college debt-free, unless you’re a high-earning professional.

Omaha, I thought, that’s where I’ll go. My step-dad and I sat at the kitchen table as he mapped out a driving route for me. Before I left, I sent several resumes to companies in Omaha and it took me a few days to drive. When I finally got to Omaha, about three days later I received a phone call to interview at JCPenney. I found a great roommate who I was able to split rent, utilities, and food with. Everything sort of fell into place.

I was only hired as a temp for the Christmas holiday season and once I was done working there, I shortly found a job at a call center that paid a little higher than minimum wage. However there were weekly commissions on top of our hourly pay, and two big bonuses, one around summer and the second around Christmas.

It turns out that following my intuition was the right thing to do because a few months later Hollywood Video finally filed for bankruptcy and closed their stores.

After a couple of years working in Omaha, I had decided to pursue my general education classes at the local community college, where I did very well. Later on, I was accepted into the state university. The universities and colleges in Arizona are far more expensive than they are in Nebraska.

Thanks to my call center work, free government grants, and my mom’s financial help I’ll be able to finish college debt-free. I told my mom I’d pay her back for financially helping me out since she’s paying from her retirement savings and I feel it’s only right to do so.

I’m going to be graduating with an accounting degree which will allow me to pay back my mom rather quickly.

I wouldn’t be anywhere if I hadn’t moved to Omaha, NE to financially start over.

The heartland helped me start over when I desperately needed to. I’m not sorry that I moved and I don’t think it was a sacrifice because I was able to find my boyfriend and great friends.

Omaha has nice and safe neighborhoods, low unemployment, and best of all, living in Omaha fits my personality. I do see myself living here after I get my bachelor’s degree just because I love living here.

I have discovered since moving here that a lot of people move out of Omaha, and later end up moving back. A lot of them have their bachelors’ and masters’ degrees, so they’re not moving back because they have to. They move back because they want to.

I can’t compare Omaha to cities like NYC, Seattle or Miami, but it’s a special city in its own right.

Have you ever had to do a financial “do over?” Share in the comments below!

Jaime Donovan is a student and writer. She loves traveling, learning new languages, and trying out new things. She’s lived in Russia, Costa Rica and now she’s living in Nebraska where she’s enjoying the heartland. Jaime is also an aspiring artist and hopes to share her art with the world one day. You can find out more about Jaime on her website.

Photo Credit: Michael Hull (UnSplash)

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7 thoughts on “The Daring Pursuit of a Financial “Do Over”

  1. Moving at a young age to find a job and then save for post-secondary takes a whole lot of initiative. Well done, Jaime! I hope that you find employment quickly once you have your accounting degree. I think it’s great that you want to pay your mom back. It never occurred to me to pay my parents back for their support of me through university. I took it for granted. I’ve learned gratitude with time. It’s a real bonus for you to have it now
    Prudence Debtfree recently posted…Heavy Debt: One Shovelful At A TimeMy Profile

    • Thank you so much for the support! I appreciate it. I think it’s different if your parents are working at their careers or set up a 529 plan, but when your own parent is paying a portion out of a retirement savings account well that just changes everything. I want my mom to have a great retirement. Thank you for visiting and reading. I really appreciate it. =)
      Jaime recently posted…Interview with J.D. RothMy Profile

  2. What an inspiring story, Jaime! Just goes to show that we should really follow our gut instincts, even though it’s often really uncomfortable taking a huge leap of faith like you did. Sounds like you’ve found the place you are meant to be–for many different reasons. I think it’s wonderful too that you plan to pay your mom back for her helping you through school. I helped my parents out financially too after I finished university & it was such a good feeling to be able to show my appreciation to them in a tangible way.