I have a philosophy about working and getting paid, which I mentioned in an earlier post about effort and rewards. I believe that all the work that we do will eventually get paid for, but it may not be in a time or manner that you expect. Similarly, all payment you receive was based on work done in the past (and not the recent past).
Most of us go through school for about 2 decades. We did not get paid during all those 2 decades, but we were definitely working. Working to learn our chosen trade, working to get better results than our peers, working to get accolades to boost our overall credentials alongside the academic ones via internships, special projects etc. In fact, our parents paid quite a bit of money, so that we could concentrate on our task, which was to learn. The first time we do get paid is when we land our first job. This pay is usually minuscule because the only field we have proven ourselves in thus far is in academics and that may or may not translate into practical application. The companies decided the amount to pay us based on what we have done up to that point, not based on what we will do, because they can only guess at how well we will do the jobs given to us.
The work you do on your first job does not determine your pay. Your pay has already been decided when they first hired you, based on the work you did up to that point. So for about the first year, you go to work and contribute to the company and some of you deliver more value than you are paid while others deliver less value. Those that the company recognizes to deliver more value will more likely get a pay raise, while those that deliver less value may have their pay stay stagnant or be reduced. Again, your pay for the next year is determined by what you did in the past year. You are paid for work you have already done.
This applies to all work you do in your life, not just for your salary. Because when you work, you are gaining practical experience, practice, knowledge, insight....basically, you are growing yourself. And that is ultimately what you get paid for, the skills that you have developed over time that you can apply to justify a reward.
When I had a job, I almost never turned down additional work. I understood why people would say "this is not what I am being paid for", but I also understood that I was not being paid for anything I was doing at that time, I was being paid for work I had already done. In that vein, whatever I do now will justify my pay in the future. So I happily did whatever task was necessary, not because I am naturally helpful, but because I knew the ultimate person to benefit from that extra work was me.
The best type of work to take on is work that you find difficult and challenging. Because that is the work that will allow you to grow your skill set by leaps and bounds. Sure you might fail, but with each failure comes lessons paid for by the pain of that failure. And if you are in a job, it is only emotional pain that you feel, because you are failing on someone else's dime. Once you start out on your own, either via entrepreneurship or investing, failure gets even more painful because you will be paying for it yourself. So fail while you have someone else to pay for you and grow from that failure.
This is also one of the reasons I spend time writing this blog. If I don't do this, I would spend the time paying computer games and watching Netflix, neither of which will help me grow as a person. While doing this, I have learnt how to create a website, how to organize my thoughts into (hopefully) coherent, bite sized chunks, how to market a website and much more. Even though I do not get a financial reward currently for this work that I am doing, I am confident I will be rewarded for this in the future based on the skill sets that I am developing.
This concept is especially important when it comes to investing. I put in over a decade of work outside my regular office hours to learn the concepts and practice various techniques and for many years I was not paid for my work. In fact, I was paying a lot to others via courses and bad investments. But slowly and surely, I honed my craft and now I am now reaping the rewards of all that work. I find that most people that want to start investing for themselves do not want to put in the work, because they want to be rewarded immediately. They have been conditioned by the structure of salaries to think that labor and effort is rewarded immediately. Life simply does not work that way.
Another more direct impact of this need to be rewarded immediately comes in the form of scams. Being impatient to make money via investing opens you up to many charlatans who understand this impatience and lack of willingness to put in the work. It allows them to easily use confidence techniques to lead you to believe in their scheme via promises of fast, high returns with no work involved. Even if you want to invest in what someone else is doing, you need to put in the work to understand how they generate that money, whether the returns projected/promised are realistic based on what they are doing, what safeguards are in place to protect your money, etc.
Hopefully if you internalize this concept as I have, it will help you to change your mindset and be more willing to work and hone your skills, whatever those skills may be. This will most assuredly lead to financial rewards in the future. Also it will help you become more patient in requiring a reward for the work that you do and prevent others from taking advantage of that impatience to deprive you of your hard earned money.
The journey to financial freedom is not an easy one and along the way, we will need the help of various people/services. Many times, it can be difficult to judge if the services offered are to our advantage. Especially with investments, we make decisions now that only have a clear result many months or years down the road.
The future can be unpredictable, but there are a few things we can do now to tip the scales in our favor. One such thing is to make sure that the service providers we use have interests that are aligned with or at least not in conflict with our objectives. Check out these tips on how to figure out if your services providers have your back.
The journey to financial freedom is a long one, likely to span years if not decades. To help breakup this journey into bite sized chunks, it is useful to understand what are the checkpoints along this journey. To help with this, I have created an interactive example here.
I have always been interested in investing and generating a passive income. From the day I started to earn a salary, I was trying to learn as much as I could on the various avenues to invest my money safely. In 2012, I had hit the first checkpoint and I tried retiring, which was a big mistake. My wealth stagnated and so did my passive income stream. To accelerate my path to the final check point, I studied even more ways of growing my money passively and with the information I gathered, I was able to increase my rate of return on wealth to the point where I had hit the final checkpoint by end of 2017.
I am sure many others can do the same, but starting early and education in investments is key. Hopefully I can help with the latter, stay tuned!
I have created a retirement calculator that you can use to determine how much you need to retire right now, based on how you want to live your life.
You can try it out here.
Using this calculator, I found that if I managed to grow my money at a rate of 3.5% per year, I would need close to $5.3 million to retire, which I sadly don't have.
The good news is, I have consistently been able to grow my existing wealth by 15% a year. This brings the amount I need to retire down significantly to a little less than $1 million, which I do have! This is why I can claim to be financially free. I am not rich by many measures, but the passive income brought in by investing my money wisely has created a scenario where I can be financially free without having a huge amount of money.
Sure, $1 million is still a lot of money and it took me over a decade to collect this. For many, this sum seems unattainable. Going forward, I hope to share tips and tricks to help everyday people inch closer to this target and to their dream of financial freedom. Stay tuned!