Career and Finances
Why the two need to be separate
Some of you right now are wondering what I’m talking about. Aren’t those the same thing? Nope. They are linked, but they are two distinct things. And a lack of understanding that is a major cause of financial problems for many people.
If you’re like most men, your career brings in most of your income. For some, outside of the occasional inheritance or prize, it’s their only income. This isn’t a great arrangement, even dangerous. With one source of income, you work for your money instead of it working for you. Moreover, you are at the mercy of your employer. If you get let go, you have nothing to fall back on. Meaning, you better get another job, and quick, or you might just be living with your parents again.
But what’s the alternative? You weren’t born to a rich family, this is just how it is for the rest of us, right? Nope. Name 10 wealthy people, other than celebrities. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Now, how many of those were born to wealthy families? Go ahead, Google them is need be. Chances are you listed Donald Trump, and you’d be correct, he was born rich. I’m willing to bet that, at most, one other you picked was born well-off. It’s a myth that the rich stay rich. Outside of reality TV, the vast majority of kids born to wealthy families fail to succeed as their parents did.
Your career is the job you have chosen to do. You have agreed to labor, in some manner, for a person or company for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Including your hour for lunch, you’ve agreed to devote your time for their purposes, and in exchange they’ve agreed to give you little green certificates of appreciation with presidents’ faces on it.
Finances is what you do with those bank notes, aka your paycheck. The two are linked, but not the same. If you maintain the mindset that they are the same, you can never do better than you are right now. Yes, you could get a pay raise, but you’ll soon find that nothing in your life really changed. You’ll continue to pursue that next pay raise, that next bonus. You’ll switch up jobs hoping for a larger pay. This makes the government happy, you’re paying more in taxes now. And it makes employers happy, they can now fill your old job with a new employee, who costs them less in benefits because they have no seniority. Your new employer, likewise, will have less to invest in you than someone who’s been on the job for a decade. Except, you’ll look around and find that nothing ever really changes for you. Income comes in, income goes out, and you continue the rat race.
For some of us, however, we understand that our finances are only linked to our career. It’s not just a saying, it’s an entire shift in thinking. This shift in our money paradigm often means we’re happier at work. It also often means we spend more time at work. We wrack up the overtime, have side hustles, and more. We pay attention to every dollar that comes into our lives, and where it goes. Seeing our finances separate from our career means there’s this whole other thing in our lives we need to investigate.
We have here the biggest difference. Once you see your income as an entity all its own, you start to pay attention to it. Do you know how much you spent last week on gas for your car? How much went to fast food establishments? If you’re like most men, you have maybe a vague notion. And if you check your bank statements you will likely find you undershot how much you spent by a pretty large amount. If you fail to separate finances and career, it becomes this nebulous thing in your life, something you don’t truly understand, or control. To some extent, it controls you. Simply put, money controls your life.
It’s time, my friend, to change how you see the world and how you see money. It’s time to put money in its place and take back your life. I’m not advocating starting a business, or dumping half your paycheck into the stock market. You’re not there yet. Before you can do any of that, you first need to see it for what it is.
- Your career is the work you do, and for it you receive pay (time=money).
- Your finances are what you do with your money, regardless of where it came from.
The only time these two cross is in your employer’s payroll. Got it?
One last question for you – There’s this new thing in your life, which you’ve just now noticed. What do you do with it?
Despite what many people seem to think, you were not born with a money gene. I have a degree in biology, no such gene exists. Trust me, I’ve looked. You need to, slowly, build your finance muscle. You do it just like you’d develop any other muscle, by exercising it. If I want bigger biceps I go to the gym. If I want to exercise my mind, I go to the library. Your finance muscle is in your mind, start by reading books on money. Listen to podcasts and radio programs on finance.
I should note here that while many others would now push a sponsor or affiliate link, I do neither. I can’t give an unbiased perspective if I’m making money on it. Just as you’re very unlikely to find an article in a fitness magazine on the harmful effects of cola when they regularly run full page ads for a major cola brand. The recommendations that follow are completely unsolicited.
Build your financial knowledge
The Total Money Makeover – Dave Ramsey
A great book for anyone just starting to see their money. Especially if you have debt. The information is top notch and has been put to the test for almost 30 years. Can be a little awkward to read in a few places if you are not Christian.
Dave Ramsey also hosts the third largest radio program in the US. The show can be listened to in whole or in part on Sirius XM, just about any podcast app, straight off their website, YouTube, and more.
The One-Page Financial Plan – Carl Richards
Good read for a different approach, but completely compatible with, the Ramsey method.
As of June 2019 Carl has his own podcast, Kitces and Cark, with cohost Michael Kitces.
As I said before, start small and slow. Give the above a try, or perhaps find your own inspiration. Get a grasp on your money paradigm, and begin to take your life/money back.