How I Increased My Income By 50% By Changing Careers

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I have a big announcement to make today. As I am writing this post, I am also preparing for one of the biggest changes in my life: a new career in tech!

More specifically, I have been offered a software engineer apprenticeship position at a big tech company on the west coast. And yes, I am moving!

I gave my two week notice, and I am currently packing to move across the country for a new career, something I have been preparing for for the past year.

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A year ago

Me trying to code

During this time last year, I was facing a potential layoff where I was told I would have about 3-6 months at the current job. As it turns out, I still have the job and was recently informed that I would get a bonus and a raise should I stay at the company this year.

Over the past year, I have been teaching myself how to code using resources such as Codecademy, Coursera, Udemy, and especially Leetcode late at night after the kids go to bed, early in the morning before my family gets up, and on the weekends.

I got really stressed out and exhausted with sleep deprivation. But in the end, it’s all worth it. I ended up getting a Software Engineer Apprentice offer from a big tech company on the west coast, a Jr. Web Developer offer from a company in DC, and a Business Analyst offer from a tech consulting firm in DC in less than a year after I wrote my first “Hello World!” program.

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This decision hasn’t been easy for me. Mr. FAF will stay in DC to continue his full-time job and take care of our two kids by himself.

The training program is four months, and I am not sure where I will be afterwards, so we don’t want to move our whole family and belongings to the west coast. After the four months, I might be able to stay on the west coast for longer or I might move back to DC.

After I got the offer, we have been scrambling to find nannies, babysitters, and helpers. Our in-laws wanted to come to help us, but they are stuck in China because of the corona virus situation.

We will need to pay quite a bit for such help. But Mr. FAF said that this is an investment and a sacrifice we all need to make for a better future for ourselves and our family. Plus, this is like a dream come true for me. It’s a once in a life time opportunity, so I just need to take it.

Mr. FAF is SUPER supportive of my move. I have been asking him every day if he’s sure, and that if he tells me not to go, I will stay in DC with him and the kids. But his answer has always been a resounding Yes!

Making a career change is not easy! But it’s not impossible.

Yes, I should accept the new position to break into tech. Yes, I should move to the west coast for this amazing training opportunity. And yes, he will be able to handle the two kids by himself.

As for me, I am also super excited for this new chapter of my life. This is something I never ever would have thought would be possible even right before I interviewed with the company (whiteboarding was part of the process). But as it turns out, hard work and determination (and Leetcoding) pays off!

If we can overcome this challenge (me in a new field and Mr. FAF taking care of kids by himself), we will have a much better future for us, our kids, our parents, and our whole extended family since we will have more resources (aka income) to take care of them and to assist them when they are in need.

Part of me feels guilty for leaving my husband and kids behind to move across the country. And frankly, I am also afraid of being judged by other for being an irresponsible mom and wife.

But Mr. FAF assured me that I have his approval and support, and that this decision is for us and us only, rather than for others who want to judge. That makes me feel better, and I feel more ready to start the new training program.

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Increase in income

For the new position, my hourly rate will increase by almost 50%. I don’t want to think too much about the future, but I do hope that after the apprenticeship, I will be able to find a full-time position at the sponsoring company or at another tech company that pays a competitive rate.

As I was going through the separation documents at my current job, I realized how many benefits I was going to leave behind for the apprenticeship: retirement, pretax medical, transit, and dependent care funds, and generous vacation and sick leave.

At the new job, I will be able to have a better pay with some paid time off and health care, but no retirement contribution from the employer or pretax funds. However, I need to look forward and take risks for a big change. Being comfortable and stable is good, but it won’t guarantee happiness.

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Living alone on the west coast

As I am picturing my life without my husband and kids, it reminds me of those days when I was in grad school living by myself trying to save money.

Although I will have a better pay, I find myself moving back into the saving mode where I’ve been thinking about how to save on rent, transportation, food and daily expenses. Here’s my plan for the move:

— Housing: I have put a security deposit on a place that costs $1,450/mo for rent and utilities (i.e. water, electricity, internet) for one bedroom in a house with a family. It’s within walking distance from the company, so I will be able to save on transportation and commute time. Mr. FAF said I should spend the time studying and working instead of sitting on the bus everyday trying to save money.

Transportation: Hopefully $0 unless I go out with other people in the program.

Food: The company doesn’t provide free food. But they have cafeterias with discounted prices, so I might check that out. I will also bring with me oatmeal and bread in case I can’t buy food for the first few days. And yes, I will also bring a mini rice cooker, a pot, a pan, and some bowls to cook super simple and inexpensive food if I have time. Ideally, I would like to spend $300/mo or less on food, but we’ll see.

Clothes: $0. I plan to just wear the clothes that I have and won’t go crazy shopping to save time and money.

Overall, the money won’t be as tight as when I was in grad school. But I don’t see any reason to splurge. In a way, I am glad I went through those tough (and broke) times to cherish what I currently have no matter how little it is.

RelatedWhat Growing Up Poor Has Taught Me About Money And Relationships


During the training program, I might not have time to update you on a regular basis. But I will try to publish a post every once in a while. After all, the blog is like my journal where I can connect with you guys and with myself.

And lastly, I hope this post will inspire some of you to take the leap into coding if you’ve been thinking about it for a while. Getting a developer job without a degree or work experience is possible. I’ve done it, and I’m sure you can too!


Considering A Career Change To Programming – How It All Happened

Life Update: My Current Job & Learning A New Skill

How We Got Our Green Cards & What That Means For Us!

How Programming Has Changed My Marriage: The Good, Bad & Ugly

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46 thoughts on “How I Increased My Income By 50% By Changing Careers”

  • Let me be the first one to congratulate you here. CONGRATULATIONS! A couple of questions, #1 What industry were you in your previous job? #2 Did you always like/hate coding prior to your decision to go for it?

    • Thank you, Bernz! #1: I was a Research Analyst at a nonprofit org in my previous job. #2 I was indifferent about R/STATA and had never tried computer programming prior to learning Python 🙂

  • Wow, that’s an amazing opportunity! It seems like you’re doing things exactly right – getting some experience and being able to leverage that for a next position. It helps that it sounds like it’s with a reputable name that most people would know. Definitely will make your background stand out in a crowd. Nice going!

  • SO proud of you and can’t wait to meet you!!!! OMG youre even gonna meet our baby! Crazy!! 🙂

    Don’t feel guilty if you can spend some money, it’s a very special time so don’t dollar and dime. Things are expensive here as much as DC is. Just make sure your health is taken care of so you can finish. You can splurge a little, it’s an amazing program!!!

    • That’s such a great reminder! I do sometimes try to save money at the expense of my health haha. Can’t wait to meet you guys!

  • Congratulations! I’m so happy for you. The 4 months will go by fast (at least for you as you’ll be learning) and it’ll be a great stepping stone to launch your new career.

  • Wow, so so proud of you and impressed by your hard work, determination and courage Ms.Faf. All the very best for this new chapter in your life and I am sure you will rock it. Please don’t feel guilty or think about what others are thinking. You are doing this for your family, and what others are thinking of you is really not your business. Don’t be nervous, work hard and do your best and rest will all fall into place.

  • Truly inspirational and I really do mean that. This is a fantastic achievement, especially given your other responsibilities. Very well done and good luck with your future career.

  • Congrats! As the mother of four grown children, and as someone who had to move for her career, I totally support you. Again, Congratulations!

  • Congrats on the new software engineer apprenticeship!! Which technology company is it? I live in Oakland, CA and I’ve been following your blog for the past year. I’ve been working in technology startups for the past 7 years when I completed my undergrad & I completed a 10-week coding bootcamp in SF. I’m happy to get coffee w/ you in Downtown SF if you need help getting around SF & finding interesting technology meetups. has a LOT of various technology meetups throughout the week to learn about new software tools.

    • Thank you, Susan! I will be in Washington. But if I ever get a chance to visit Oakland, I will def reach out to you!

  • Go for it! Doing this in the short term will pay off in long term benefits for your entire family. You’re a good mom with a supportive husband. The kiddos will be fine. You can always Facetime/Skype them and read them stories, talk to them. Congratulations, so happy for you. This time will go by fast.

  • Congrats Ms. FAF!! So happy to hear about the exciting opportunity. With your inspiration last year, I was able to get into coding myself as you know. I’m not going as rapid pace as you did in Codecademy but it’s been motivating to understand a lot about it especially in the Data Science path with SQL and Phython and now just started with Web Development(HTML, CSS, Javascript).
    Also it’s great to have your husband’s support to move out west for a few months for this career opportunity. I know you won’t be with them but with apps like Skype and FaceTime you can still see them as much as you want so it won’t be that big of a separation during that time.
    Wishing you all the best in your new career path and thanks again for inspiring me to seriously jump into coding Ms. FAF!!

    • I’m so glad to hear that you are making so much progress with your coding plan. I am exited to see what lies ahead for you!

  • I was so happy to read this post! I KNEW you could do it! Congratulations Mrs. FAF! Proceed boldly! When I was more than 40, I also switched careers. It was the scariest but greatest change and I am so glad I did it. At the time, it felt like I was jumping off a cliff. And now, twenty years later, I can proudly say I found my best work and my best self. Proceed boldly!

  • Normally I would congratulate you for your new opportunity and move. Hard work paid off and great support from Mr FAF. However, with the potential outbreak of new Coronavirus in the USA, it may be prudent to stay with your family and save.

  • You are an inspiration! I feel like I’ve been stuck in a rot career wise, nonprofit too and I’m looking to try new things. Thinking more project and data management. You have motivated me.

  • Congratulations!!! What an amazing opportunity. It sounds like you and the Mr are covering all of your bases, planning ahead, and will be/are greatly prepared, and are making decisions based on what’s best for your family. That’s what great moms and wives do. I’m so excited for you!

  • Congrats Mrs. FAF 🙂 🙂 🙂

    All your hard work is definitely paying off with this once-in-a lifetime opportunity for you! I’m sure the decision was a really hard one. My wife and I had the same type of conversation a little over a year ago when we relocated from Tennessee to Maryland because I was offered my dream job. I felt guilty asking my wife to leave her home, but she assured me that not following my dream would guilt her for years, so we packed up and moved.

    Good luck in your new career and I’m sure Mr. FAF could not be happier for you and all that you’ve accomplished so far in life!

  • I think it is a great move financially. I can tell you the career itself can get pretty stressful, but the money can be extremely good compared to other avenues and educational requirements. You might also try to combine the blog experience and career (tech) knowledge to see if you can come up with a plug-in for WordPress and try to sell it. Just something to think about. It’s been at the back of my mind, too 🙂 Hustle on!

    PS Love the name of your blog. My wife is Asian and she has transformed my spending beliefs 🙂

  • Thinking about you and the family … do you have an update for us? With this crazy virus didn’t know if things had changed. Blessings!

    • Hi Debbie, thanks for checking in! I do have an update and will publish it when I have finalized everything. 🙂

  • Hi there, hope you’ve enjoyed and learnt alot through your apprenticeship, it sounds like a fab opportunity that you’ve worked hard to get to. Please remember that you don’t have you justify the choices that you as an individual or family make- if you were a man (husband/father) taking this up and writing about this, there would be a cursory comment on missing family rather than the guilt/anxiety that you’ve explained. It’s clear from the writing on your website that you have a strong relationship with your husband, and your kids will benefit in the long term seeing their hard working mother thriving and accomplishing her ambitions and enjoy a closer bond with dad as he takes the primary care role in the home, as well as the higher savings rate you will be able to manage as your salary increases in the new industry.

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