Close your eyes and picture yourself 15 years from now. Are you still paying off your credit card? What about your student loans?
Hopefully, those bills are gone. But I’m more curious about how you paid them off. Do you picture yourself paying them off slowly, over time as your income increased? Or did you write a big whopping check after you won the lottery around year 11?
When it comes to getting out of debt (for good) or building wealth, I realized that I am emotionally banking on the idea of a few choice creative windfalls. That is, the idea that my current income is not enough to ever accomplish anything grand, and that surely somehow I will have a great idea or meet a creative goal that will result in a financial windfall (AKA JHubbs gets discovered and signs a million-dollar record deal or the New York Times features me and we land a book deal for our YA novel).
Yes, I realize this is unrealistic (and even a little silly). But, can you blame me for hoping? I’ve worked three jobs in my professional lifetime, and none with the promise, expectation, or fulfillment of lucrative financial growth. I’m wondering if anyone else feels the same way.
Is Your Income Up to You or Your Job?
I don’t like to try to pass of blame when it comes to taking responsibility for my earnings. But, unless you’re an HR manager, is your income ever really up to you?
As a teacher, I had three years of pay freezes and political excuses. I excused myself from the profession for bigger and better things because there’s nothing I could have done to increase my earnings as a classroom instructor.
My next job did not believe in Cost of Living Adjustments, let alone the idea of salary growth. That was a great indicator to move on, because despite all my negotiating tactics my salary wasn’t going to budge.
And let’s just say the pros and cons of start-ups are ringing true for me, and you never know when or if that situation is going to improve, no matter how much faith you have in the people or the product.
So, what’s a girl to do in the mean time? Dream of that break-through, or dive into high-money work forces?
Dive Into Your Career, Your Passion, or Frugality?
The answer (at least for my situation) seems to have three clear solutions:
1) Get super aggressive into career, management, and leadership, and try to climb to the top of something. I’m not sure that’s for me, but I’m open to it. I’m an ENTJ, after all, and my talents could stand to be unleashed.
2) Drop the corporate lifestyle and try to make it on my own as a creative powerhouse to attract that financial windfall to me. Others are doing it, after all and if someone else can do it, I can do it. But there’s no guarantee I’ll survive, let alone flourish out there.
Or, 3) reduce our expenses as low as they’ll go and stop chasing a comfortable lifestyle/bank account. (Student loans, car loans, and medical bills make that seem less possible, but maybe there’s something I’m missing.)
And regardless of which avenue JHubbs and I pursue, I still can’t shake the idea that my day job salary will only ever cover the basics.