I like saving. The great thing about saving is that what you save is tax free! If you make a dollar, your take home is less than a dollar after taxes. But when you save a dollar, you get to keep it all. Maybe the adage should be a penny saved, two pennies earned? But let’s face it. If you want to grow your net worth, saving will only get you so far. If you made $50k a year and had no expenses (if you know how to do this, please teach me, master), you’ll still need 20 years to get to become a millionaire. So if you want to build real wealth, you’ll need to increase your income. And one of the best ways to do that is to use education to make more money.
Invest in Yourself to Make More Money
Outside of winning the lottery or helping out a Nigerian price, the best way to grow your net worth is to use education to increase your salary. You are your most valuable asset. This is how I was able to increase my salary by multiples since I started working. I graduated with an engineering degree, which gave me a solid and stable income. However, I wasn’t happy with what I was doing, for two reasons: 1) I didn’t feel like I was getting paid enough, and 2) I wasn’t passionate about my career path. Now, 120% of you reading this can relate to #1 and I’m guessing at least 90% can relate to #2. My math isn’t great, but I know it’s 120% because for some of you, not getting paid enough are your top two reasons for not liking your job.
So to fix both issues, I went back to school for my MBA. This gave me knowledge and experience I wasn’t able to get from my job, and it also gave me the opportunity to switch careers. For those looking to get to the buy side, click here.
I still feel like I’m underpaid, even though I make so much more than I used to. I doubt this feeling ever goes away as long as you work for somebody else, since you know a large portion of what you make goes to somebody else. Or maybe I’m just greedy. It’s probably the latter.
But even though I still feel underpaid, I can’t picture myself switching careers again because I’m passionate about what I do, which is so much more important. I also believe I’m a much stronger worker because I’m passionate about what I do, instead of phoning it in every day.
Always Be Learning
Education isn’t the only way to make yourself more valuable. Learning a trade or skill, or running a business will also make you a more valuable person. However, I went the school route, which is why I’m going to focus on it for this discussion.
It’s easy to say that getting more education will lead to higher pay. That’s not necessarily true. Higher education can lead to higher pay, as long as you go to the right school and get the right job. That doesn’t mean that you need to go to an Ivy League school. But you do need to go to a school that is valued by the career you want to pursue.
The best way to determine if a school will meet your needs is to speak with alumni or people in the career that you want. Or possibly an association that people in your ideal career belong to. You probably don’t know many people in the job that you want, which is why this part is so difficult. This is why networking is so important. You could ask for contacts from a school you’re interested in attending, but remember that they’re incentivized to get you to enroll, so you may not get a true picture of how great that school really is.
Never Give Up
I can’t even tell you how many schools I applied to before I got accepted into Michigan. I can’t even tell you how many jobs I applied to before I got into finance. It’s hard switching careers when there are younger people with more experience looking at the same jobs. It’s easy for people to dismiss you if you don’t have the perfect education, network, or background. But all you need is one person to believe in you, to give you that chance. This sounds so wishy washy (get me a tissue please), but I have to believe that I was successful while others weren’t, not because I’m smarter (I’m definitely not), but because I was persistent. Maybe I was too stupid to listen to everybody that said I couldn’t do it?