So far in this blog series, I have talked about aspects of financial
management that can potentially be quite orderly and somewhat
predictable: spending and borrowing. Now I come to a much more
unwieldy subject: income. Why “unwieldy”? Because, with spending and
borrowing, you are mainly dealing with yourself, and perhaps a significant
other. But with income, you are forced to deal with a whole world of
different types of people, very few of whom will care much about your
If you work for someone else, you will have bosses (some good,
some bad), co-workers (sometimes rivals), customers (some sane, some
not), changing economic conditions (positive and negative), and, in
general, the stress of living in the world. If you work for yourself, you will
have (as my grandfather used to say) a hundred bosses in the form of
clients you need to please. If you have little education, your opportunities
may be limited. If you have tons of education, you may have tons of debt
and a job you really don’t like, just to pay off the debt.
If I have not bummed you out to the point that you have stopped
reading, I do have some uplifting thoughts too. No, I am not going to say
you should “follow your bliss,” or that if you do what you love, success will
follow, or even that “education is the key” to success, even though bliss,
loving your work, or getting an education can be just right for certain
people. But here is the thing: there are too many of you, too many types of
people, too many personal and social circumstances, for me to say
anything much that is very specific.
But I have two things to say that I hope you will find valuable as you
face a world where you must generate income for yourself:
1. Anticipate Setbacks
Expect to get knocked down 1000 times, and expect to get up
1001 times. Yes, most of us want financial security, to feel successful, to
be respected. And many of us want the status and prestige of having lots
of money. But none of that is worth anything compared with the self-
respect that comes from trying your best, even if you encounter many
failures, or the respect for others that comes from realizing that your
successes owe a great, great deal to countless other people.
2. Don’t Go It Alone
Despite lots of people (including me) recommending resilience as
a key to living well, you can’t succeed at that by going it alone. You need
quality relationships, which are built from love that can go through good
times and bad. There are even some big studies to prove this! Starting in
1939, researchers followed two groups of men for over 75 years. One group was made up of the academic elite at Harvard University, and the
other group consisted of working class men originally living in Boston,
Massachusetts. It seems a little silly to say there were such big studies to
prove a simple point: Love is the answer. And that applies to rich and poor
alike. After all, what’s the point of having an income if you have no one with whom to spend it.
The Proof’s in the Pudding
Read all about it here. Unfortunately, there were no women included this study, as things
were far less inclusive back then. However, I think the conclusions
would have been much the same, and there is still much to be gained from reading this study.
As you, whoever you may be, ponder a way forward for yourself, you
may click through a thousand advice articles about finding the right job or
career. I recommend you do exactly that. Only you will be able to make the call if a
particular shoe fits. And you may be right or you may be wrong. But
mistakes are an outstanding teacher! Just try to avoid drifting into the
biggest mistakes—having your work eclipse your personal life, or having
your personal life not be moored in caring for others.
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Looking for more money management tips? Check out our other blog posts here.