Like J.D., I'm a recent convert to coffee. For most of my life, I preferred to consume my caffeine cold in the form of Diet Coke. And then...fate intervened.
Four years ago, when my family moved to Oklahoma, my sister-in-law gave us our first Keurig coffee maker. I thought, "That's an interesting gift for a family that doesn't drink coffee."
But a set of sample k-cups came with the machine, so we started trying them.
The kids liked the sugary cups which were more like hot chocolate than coffee. And I found that I liked the taste of coffee now and then. I played with combinations of coffee, sugar, and milk until I found out I liked it a lot. I later dropped the sugar and went straight for the coffee/milk combo.
Within a month or two, I was hooked. But I started wondering: "We're drinking a lot of coffee. Is this the best deal? What are my options for finding the best cheap coffee?" Because I'm a money nerd, I decided to find out.
You've heard it a million times before: To build wealth, you have to spend less than you earn. It's a great piece of advice -- one of my favorites, actually. Too often, however, people take this to mean simply "control your spending".
While your spending is certainly part of the equation, there's an equally-important component: your earning.
Here's what I think a lot of people miss: It's easier to spend less than you earn when you earn more. It's also easier to reach your financial goals. From my experience, the best way for most people to earn more is to grow their careers. Today I want to show you five ways to grow your career so that you make more money and enjoy greater job satisfaction.
The Case for Career Growth
I know, I can hear the collective groan.
For myriad reasons, many people dislike advice about growing their careers. It's probably because so many hate their jobs.
I get it. I've been there myself.
But I also understand that there's a paradox between hating a career and achieving your money goals. If you hate your job so much that you don't want to focus one extra second on it, you will actually prolong the time you need to work -- the very thing you hate so much!
Instead, if you put a bit of time and effort into growing your career, you'll end up making millions more (literally), hitting your financial goals earlier, and (very likely) enjoying your career more.
If I were able to give you a few, simple, easy-to-implement tips to help you achieve this, would you be interested?
How Can I be so Sure?
Before we get to the tips, let's address the elephant in the room: How can you be sure that the Bozo writing this piece can actually deliver?
In all honesty, you can't. But I do have a few accomplishments that might give you some confidence:
- Personal experience. I was able to grow my income by 8.16% per year throughout my career. Obviously people have done much better than this, but 8%+ isn't too shabby over almost 30 years. If you don't believe what a huge impact this can make, pick a starting salary and increase it by 8% each year for 28 years.
- Corporate experience. In addition to managing my own career, I saw countless colleagues and subordinates managing (or, mostly, not managing) theirs. I eventually became the president of a $100 million company, supervising the careers of hundreds of people. So along the way I learned a bit about growing your career, how to get ahead, and how companies view employees.
- Education. There are thousands of books (and millions of web pages) about career management. I've read many of them and tried a variety of techniques. I will say that most of them are virtually worthless, but there are some nuggets of wisdom that I've applied and learned from.
- Millionaires do it. I've interviewed over 30 millionaires (and more on the way.) Almost every one of them has developed a high income by applying the skills below which have accounted for a large part of their success.
The good news is that you can do even better than I did. It took me decades to come up with the tips I'm about to share. Most of them were discovered in the school of hard knocks by trial and error. You can cut out the pain of failure and get right to doing what counts.
You can also skip the thousands of tips you might gather from here and there. Simply apply the five steps below and you'll get most of the impact for a fraction of the work.
With that said, here are the five tips you can use in 2018 to grow your career...
One of the key concepts J.D. discusses here at Money Boss is having a personal mission statement. This in turn helps you develop a life plan. And the plan enables you to develop action steps to be sure you achieve your goals. I love this sort of thing.
I've always been a New Year's resolution sort of guy. Every year I make a list of what I accomplish the next year with an eye on five to ten years down the road for the big projects. I write down goals and then break them down into daily habits that set me on the right path.
But for many years I somehow neglected to go all the way in setting specific, long-term financial goals. And I missed five extra years of early retirement as a result. This is the story of how you can get lost without a map.
My (Vague) Plan
I have been an avid earner, saver, and investor for some time.
I'm not sure when it all kicked in but about 15 years ago I started putting this money stuff together. I had done well up to that point and had a decent net worth, but for some reason things started to click and I began to focus on growing my wealth.
By almost all measures I was doing well. My income hit new heights, my saving rate was high, and my investments were performing well. However, this success was a double-edged sword. Because I was doing well, I could afford to be sloppy. Even without a written plan, I was knocking the ball out of the park financially. So why take that extra step?
So I was on cruise control financially. My good progress allowed me to get away with a back-of-the-envelope plan. It was a simple wild-ass guess based on what I knew about our finances.
This was the problem. My goal wasn't SMART. Specifically, it wasn't measurable or timed. Instead my financial independence plan was simply this:
- Accumulate $4 million in assets.
- Generate $100,000 in annual income from those assets (which would allow us to never have to spend our assets -- we could live off the income alone).
I knew "roughly" that if I hit these goals I would be financially independent. I knew this instinctively because I had a pretty good grip on our finances. (Twenty-two years of Quicken data will do that for you!) I knew what we made and what we spent. And I was sure that if we hit those numbers we would have more than enough.
So life kept moving along, we kept saving, and all was well. That is until...
For most people, their career is their most valuable financial asset. Nothing else they own is likely worth as much (several million dollars over a lifetime). And even if they do have something more valuable (like an investment portfolio), it was probably earned as a result of their career.
As with anything valuable, you need to take steps to protect your career. That's why financial websites recommend life, health, and disability insurance — to protect/replace the value of your career in case you die, get sick, or are physically unable to work. Having some of these insurances is wise for almost every worker. But there's another form of insurance that's equally essential.
This insurance is free — but it takes some work and planning. Its benefits go far beyond the time it takes to implement the steps involved. And in addition to increased income, this insurance may even give you more job satisfaction, less stress, and a longer life. Interested?
Historically, "making six figures" has been to income earners what "becoming a millionaire" has been for those tracking their net worths — a lofty goal achieved by only a select few. And while neither a six-figure earner nor a millionaire can bask in the luxury they could a couple decades ago, there's no doubt that earning over $100,000 a year still puts you in a select group.
In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau says that only 5.63% of individual income earners and only 17.8% of households had incomes of $100,000 or more in 2006. So despite the drop in purchasing power from the days of old, if you earn $100k or more each year, you're still in an elite group.
How can you get into the six-figure club? There are many roads to this golden path (lottery, inheritance, take over a family business, etc.), but many, if not all, of these are out of your control. As such, I'm going to focus on what I consider to be the method that will give the most people the greatest chance of earning $100k or more — by developing a career and growing it over time. Specifically, I'm going to tell you how I got to six figures in seven years and how you can use these principles to do the same.
A few weeks ago, J.D. and I were chatting when he asked me what it felt like to be debt-free. He'd read on my blog that I had no debt and was curious if I'd write about it for Get Rich Slowly. In particular, he asked me to communicate both how I managed to pay off my mortgage (the biggest debt most people have) as well as how it felt when we did so. I was happy to accept his offer.
Just to note, the purpose of this post isn't to debate whether or not paying off all debt is a good idea (versus only making mortgage payments and investing the rest, for example), so I've purposely left it out. My goal is simply to tell you our story — what happened and how we did it. From there, you can decide whether or not this path is for you. Since my wife and I are debt-haters, this option simply seemed natural to us. In addition, I can also tell you that living ten years without any debt has been a great feeling.
In the mid-90's, we moved to the southern part of the U.S. Here's how we paid off our mortgage in 1997 and haven't had one since: Continue reading...
This guest-post has had some very passionate comments. I felt it appropriate to reference J.D's thought on the matter included in this article "I've intentionally kept my political and religious leanings obscure at Get Rich Slowly — they have no bearing on personal finance." However, FreeMoneyFinance disagrees and took time out from their very busy schedule to post a very lengthy and well-written guest article with a counter-viewpoint. --jerichohill(admining while JD is away)
Recently J.D. and I were emailing back and forth discussing a possible guest post on the topic of religion and money. I cover the issue every Sunday on my blog and I tossed out several ideas I thought were worthwhile. Then J.D. said something that decided the issue. He wrote: "I've intentionally kept my political and religious leanings obscure at Get Rich Slowly — they have no bearing on personal finance."
Ahhh, but they do — or at least the religious leanings do. (I'd argue that political leanings probably do too, but that's for a different post by a more-qualified blogger.) So I'd like to discuss why I think a person's religion should impact their finances. I'll toss out a few of my thoughts on the issue, then let all of you chime in with your points-of-view in the comments.<