Michael on September 25th, 2007
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Perhaps you dreamed of being a radio station shock-jock but wound up hawking contact lenses to eye doctors. Of your childhood friends, Ryan is now a high-powered executive and Jason works for the fire department. Karen became a teacher and Michelle remains a perpetual student.

That’s great. Job titles alone do not determine financial destiny. Many paths lead to financial success. Although the typical fire fighter’s salary is not extraordinary, there are wealthy firemen. Similarly, well-paid executives with maxed out credit cards are not to be envied.

A “lower than someone else’s” salary is no excuse for failing to make good financial decisions. Don’t feel sorry for yourself just because you make less money than your boss.

You: But if I only made a few thousand dollars more, it would be so much easier to—

Nonsense. Right now, someone is looking at you, wishing for your salary. The fact that you can’t save is mind-numbing.

You: You’re not really talking about me. I make only $XX,000 per year.

This is not for a different reader–I am still talking to you. Think about a recent immigrant who makes the minimum wage (maybe), yet still manages to send money home every month. Yes, even at $XX,000, your salary would present many additional opportunities for the immigrant’s family.

On the other hand, a high income does not grant anyone the right to spend recklessly and ignore basic financial planning principles. Regardless of salary, folks who spend more than their income are making poor long-term financial choices. Even the well-paid are unexpectedly laid off. Those without a savings cushion find themselves in bigger trouble faster, as their spending habits are much tougher to ratchet down.

Ultimately, your income is important, but your habits are much more so. If you’re happy with your chosen profession, congratulations. You already beat one set of odds, so enjoy. When you retire, your savings determine your lifestyle. The status of your former jobs won’t even buy you a package of Metamucil.

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