In week 11 of Financial Peace University, Dave Ramsey talks about the income side of the equation. Up until now, Dave has primarily talked about managing the expense side of the financial equation. What people often don’t really think much about when managing their finances is that an increase in income of $100 is the same as a decrease in expenses of $100. Sometimes the fact is that you just need to make more money to make ends meet. Easier said than done, right? Well, yes and no. Sometimes it’s easier than you think to increase your income. In many cases it may be as simple as walking in to your boss and asking for a raise or a bonus.
Dave provides advice about not only making more money but also about how to get more joy and fulfillment from your career. Here are the highlights from this week’s session. I’ve thrown in my own comments and points for good measure.
- Be prepared to change jobs…and grow your career – 50 years ago people would work for one company their whole life. Now the average career lasts 3.2 years. The downside is you shouldn’t expect to stay in one place for too long. The upside is you shouldn’t expect to stay in place for too long. Changing jobs isn’t the stigma it once was but that’s a good thing – it makes it easier for you to change roles and accelerate your career development. Rather than being stuck in the same job or role forever, you can experiment with different roles and areas of responsibility until you find one that suits you.
- Determine what contribution you want to make in life and seek to make it – Being introspective to determine your life’s goals is a good thing. You shouldn’t choose a job or career solely based on money but rather on making your unique contribution. You will end up much happier and fulfilled.
Dave tells about an experiment where researchers hired a group of people to dig a hole. At the end of the day, they were instructed to fill the hole back up. The next day they were told they would be paid more money for doing the same job, yet not everyone showed up. After several days of hole digging, the crowd of workers dwindled even though they were paid progressively more. Because they felt like they were doing meaningless work, they were dissatisfied regardless of the income.
- Make sure your job lines up with your values – This is an extension of the previous point. If you do work that violates your values, you will inevitably be miserable. For example, working in a bar is not ideal if drinking is against your values.
- Your job is not your life – While you should seek meaningful employment, it’s also important to realize your job is not your life and doesn’t define you as a person. You have many roles in life as a family member, friend, member of the community, etc. Your job is just one piece of your life.
- Do you have a job, career, or vocation? – I liked the way Dave defined each of these terms. A job “J-O-B” is daily activity that produces income. A career is a line of work, but not necessarily a calling. A Vocation is a calling, purpose, or destiny. Dave says “If your vocation is something you love, you’re on vacation for the rest of your life.
- Your personal style will help you choose your career better than your education – Dave points out that 15% of success in a job comes from skills whereas 85% comes from personality, ambition, enthusiasm, and attitude. You can gain most of the skills you need on the job. In fact, most people don’t even go into a field related to their major in college.
- When finding a job, be yourself – your best self – When sending resumes and interviewing for jobs, don’t try to be something you’re not. People will almost always see through your act. Instead be your best self. Finding a job is essentially a process of marketing yourself – so highlight your best points and accomplishments but be honest.
- Networking is key to finding a job – This is good solid advice. Only 15% of jobs are covered in newspaper classifieds. The best jobs aren’t even posted and must be found through networking. When looking for a job, be sure to tell everyone that you’re looking and what you’re looking for. Be specific. Jobs may come from the most unexpected contacts…even from a friend of a friend.
- 3 steps to landing your dream job – Dave provides some specific action steps to help you land your dream job. Basically you make a list of companies you’re interested in and contact them three times.
- Send an introduction letter stating that you’re interested in the job and that you’ll be contacting them and sending them a resume
- Send your resume with a cover letter stating why you’re interested in the specific job and why you’re the right person for the job.
- Call the company (ideally the person responsible for hiring) a couple days later to follow up and make sure they received everything
Most people don’t make the consistent effort that these steps require. Even though they’re simple, by doing them you will stand out amongst other candidates as a person ready to take initiative.
- In your resume, don’t just list where you’ve been, but rather what you’ve done and how it applies to the job – A resume is not just a list of places you’ve worked but should rather list what you accomplished at your previous jobs. If you can show anything quantifiable, that’s even better. And if you can show how your accomplishments will help you in the job you’re applying for, you’ve hit a home run.
- If necessary, take a temporary job to clear the log jam – Oftentimes, you’re in a financial bind and just need an extra boost to clear the metaphorical log jam – maybe you just need to pay off that final debt or to finish saving for a vacation. If that’s the case, a temporary job may be just the thing. It’s amazing how quickly you can get a job as a pizza delivery person; and how quickly you can earn a few hundred or thousand extra dollars.
Taking on a temporary job:
- Cleans up little bills
- Reduces debt with gazelle intensity
- Helps you save for stuff or vacations
- Helps you build up some lump sum savings (emergency fund or your children’s college education)
- Start a home based business – The possibilities of starting a home-based (or cottage industry) business are endless. And the good part is, you can do something you love. 45% of homes have a home-based business. Dave tells the story of a lady who placed an ad in the back of a magazine selling her homemade pecan pie recipe. She literally made thousands of dollars selling her recipe.
- Build a home-based business with time, patience and consistency – This is my input on starting a home-based business. I’m convinced that anyone can do it given enough time, patience and consistency. Don’t expect it to be an overnight success. Set aside time every week to work on a business. Just start with your best idea without worrying too much if it’s the right one. If you put in consistent time and effort, over time you can make your business grow.
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