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5 Reasons You Feel Stuck in Your Job

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It’s draining to have a job that causes more misery than satisfaction, whether it’s due to low pay, a crazy boss, boredom or any number of soul-sucking scenarios.

Having a full-time job means you spend most of your day at work, so employment woes are even worse when it seems like there’s no escape.

It was all so funny in “Office Space.” Real life? Not so much.

Here are five reasons you feel stuck in your job — and why they shouldn’t stop you from getting out. (None of these solutions include burning down an office building, by the way.)

1. Debt

If you have a mountain of student loan debt to pay down or have a love-hate relationship with your credit card, it’s understandable to want to stay in the job that helps you pay the bills.

Set aside a bit of time each day to look and apply for new jobs. It may not be the first thing you want to do when you get home from another terrible work day, but it’s worth it if you can find something new while you maintain your cash flow.

First, make sure you understand your entire debt picture. You can do this by pulling your credit report for free, or by using the free Credit Report Card. You can also look into consolidating debt with a personal loan. It’s an option that can potentially make debt more affordable by pooling your debts into one loan that carries a lower interest rate.

2. Health Insurance

Most people in the U.S. obtain health insurance through their employers, so it’s likely a new employer would offer health coverage. The Affordable Care Act requires employers with a certain number of employees to provide it starting in 2015.

But if leaving your dreadful job means you may have a gap in coverage, you can continue with your health plan through COBRA Continuation Coverage. It’s not cheap, but it protects you.

And if you want to quit in order to pursue an entrepreneurial venture or something else that may leave you without health insurance, the Affordable Care Act can help you out there, too.

Starting in 2014, all Americans have to have health insurance or pay a fine. The health insurance marketplaces (also called exchanges) are open for enrollment from Oct. 1, 2013, to March 31, 2014, so you can explore your options there. The intent of the mandate is that individual health insurance will be much cheaper than previously.

3. Job Market

Maybe you have looked for a new job, but you can’t find anything in your area. You would change jobs if only you could find one.

If you haven’t yet considered moving, maybe you should. Relocating presents another set of challenges, especially if you have a family, but it’s all about weighing pros and cons. If the cost of moving, changes in living expenses, finding a new place to live and switching schools is worth the better job opportunity, it may be your best option. There’s a lot that goes into a decision like this, but it’s something to consider.

Depending on your line of work, you could telecommute. If the idea of working from home sounds worse than your current gig, you can look into co-working spaces that supply the office atmosphere you’re looking for.

4. Retirement Plans

While you should certainly enroll in your employer’s retirement offering (especially if there’s a matching component), you should be saving on your own.

It’s important to know the terms of your retirement plan. If your plan is fully vested, you have a right to take that money with you and roll it into a retirement account when you leave. If you’re in a position in which you’ll lose employer contributions because you haven’t met certain requirements (like you haven’t stayed at the company long enough), you have to assess the risks.

Consider how much money would you lose if you could only walk away with your contributions, and ask yourself if you’re willing to stay long enough to be fully vested.

5. Job Skills

If you’re looking for a new job and find your skills aren’t where they need to be, you have a very fixable problem.

Pursuing further certifications, enrolling in a course or taking a volunteer opportunity to learn something new gives your resume a boost, because it shows your commitment to lifelong learning and that you’ve recently exercised those skills.

If paying for education stretches your budget, search for scholarship or fellowship opportunities, or consider an approach like crowdfunding.

Many employers offer education stipends, as well. Yes, it may feel a little rotten to gain new skills on your employer’s dime, only to ditch them later, but it’s an option. And you never know — those new skills may help you get a better position within your current company, and you won’t want to leave after all.

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