One of the biggest advantages of becoming an adult is, in my opinion, to instinctively care for the future, not the immediate one, but the mid and long term future. Do not get me wrong, thinking and acting as an adult has nothing to do with age, but more about taking responsibility for your actions and be willing to face the consequences.
That being said, as my journey continued and I managed to become part of the formal work force, “value of knowledge” as a new concept squeezed in my vocabulary and part of the quarterly performance reviews. Monetizing your time, competitive advantage and job-market curve are inevitably either friends or foes while climbing the ladder to increase your income. Let’s take it as an example to identify the difference between investment and expense. If your goal is to become a manager for the current company you work for, relations, presence (image) and credentials are areas you need to take into consideration. For instance, an investment in courses related to your field of expertise or that skill required to be considered in the pool of candidates takes priority over regular entertainment; joining mid & high level management in after hours activities over paying extra for brand-name daily coffee are some of the examples of decisions to make smart investments into your career. Does this mean I am transforming myself into someone new? No. Someone resourceful and money-savvy? Absolutely!
Nearly 10 years after graduating as a Marketer, and having worked for trans-national companies in Sales, Customer Service, Logistics and Transportation, there are some critical lessons that shaped the course of my ability to continue investing in myself.
Lesson 1 – know your daily income, after taxes. A very common oversight, is to consider your salary your income. Your income is what ends up in your pocket (or bank account for that matter) every time you get paid. Weekly, bi-weekly or monthly is irrelevant if you do not have clarity of your daily income. Why is this important? It allows you to micro-manage your day and understand accurately the impact of every monetary decision you make.
Lesson 2 – understand the “credit-trap” and use it to your advantage. It is a “rule of thumb” practice to never compromise more than 10% of your income to pay a credit loan. Whether buying a car, house or a long-desired and deserved vacation, read the small letter contractual commitments – Would you be penalized if you decide not to continue paying the credit, if so, how much? Do you have any benefits for paying in advance or a higher amount than the minimum required? What happens if your income is reduced or compromised, would you be able to renegotiate the terms of the loan? These are very important questions you must know, understand and have a back up plan in place before you sign in to a credit commitment.
Lesson 3 – Educate yourself about the labor benefits your country offers. Retirement or housing plans, tax return on education, maternity/paternity leave advantages. Also, if you are already working for a company, ask your HR Department about all of these benefits offered by your employer and how they compare to the ones by the State. Make no mistake, it may sound complicated at the beginning, but I assure you, having options to choose from, is the best way to make risk-educated money decisions.
Regardless of your age, the state of your professional career growth or the plans you have for your future (your own or your family), making time in your weekly routine to establish a financial discipline and follow it, is vital to have a clearer path to acquire “financial wholeness” by taking down those self-imposed and socially learned limitations. Being able to have a daily life “money-stress-free”, projecting larger legacy investments and “leaning in” that dream retirement is possible if you focus on baby-steps progress and earn your new position, wholeheartedly.
I wish you the best journey!