Career Advice As Financial Advice


The following is a guest post by Penelope Trunk.

Business management

Financial advice comes in many shapes and sizes; but I’ve found that the best financial advice you’ll ever get is career advice. Even if you beat the Fortune 500 Index every year for the rest of your life, without a solid career, you’ll have so little money to invest that you’d probably wipe out all those gains with one year of unemployment.

It amazes me that people spend so much time and energy figuring out which stock to pick for their 401K.

Just put your money in an indexed fund and focus on your career, really.

Here’s the kind of personal financial advice that can save you:

1. Value learning over money.

The people who earn a solid salary throughout their whole career are people who are curious, self-directed learners. This means that you’re willing to trade salary for training, an impressive title for challenging work, and when job hunting, you pay attention to the mentoring you could get at the job more than the job, itself.

2. Job hop. It creates a stable career.

After two years, your learning curve at a given job starts to flatten. And when your learning curve flattens, your ability to build new skills slows down. People who job hop build a stronger network, have higher engagement in their work, and develop a stronger ability to job hunt when the time comes. Job hoppers have more stable employment, which his why people who job hop have more stable personal finances than people who stay in one place for a long time.

3. Invest in yourself.

At the beginning of your career, when money is very tight, you might spend money strategically in order to earn more money. Here are two times I did that:

When I had been unemployed for six months (and had no money left), I got an interview for a job I really wanted. So I got a $100 haircut, leaving me without money for food that week. Many of you would say the haircut was absurd. But when you interview for a job, the first ten seconds – which is all appearance – is often what determines your fate in an interview. A haircut, timed right, is an investment in your future.

When I was lost, and felt like I was never going to get a career I loved (never mind paying off my student loans or getting health insurance), I paid cash – the last of my cash – to go to a career coach.

But the coaching was a great investment for me. I had huge issues of self-doubt, fear, and lack of direction that I was not solving on my own. Spending money to solve those problems was a way to open the door to much higher earnings — almost immediately.

Today, I find that when I coach people, those who are brave enough to spend money in unconventional ways, or take unconventional career paths, are the people who create the most stability in their lives.

Early on, I learned to carefully think about money as a means to stability. Stability comes from inside us – -from knowing we’re capable of making our days enjoyable on a regular basis. And for most of us, that means an enjoyable career. Money is just a tool to that end

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