Is Your Job Keeping You From a Bright Financial Future?

Time for a New Career?This may seem like a strange question. A job is always supposed to make you more financially successful, right? It depends – and on a lot more things than just your pay. Your job not only dictates how much money you make, but it can also have a huge impact on your lifestyle, how you spend your time outside of work, and your future earning potential. So let’s talk a little bit about the many factors which can determine whether or not your job is keeping you from a bright financial future and whether it is time for a new career.

How Much Does Your Job Pay Now?

We’ll start with the most obvious question: how much are you making right now? Are you able to pay your bills or do you find yourself struggling month to month? If you’re working in a job that pays just enough for you to barely scrape by (with little chance of that changing in the future) then you might have some serious thinking to do.

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How Much Will Your Job Pay Later?

Believe it or not, the pay you could earn later is actually more important than the pay you are earning now. For example, you let’s say you take an unpaid internship that will give you a foot in the door to a great company or in the direction of a lucrative career path. Taking low or no pay for a few months might pay off in a few years. Conversely, you may be making a decent amount of money now, but are already about to hit the salary ceiling for your career. Would it be okay with you if you didn’t earn much more in the future than you are now? If so, then you’re in good shape! If not, then it’s time to explore the other directions your career can go in.

What if you don’t know the answers to these questions? Do some research about what companies (even besides your own) pay for someone with your title and your level of experience. Then take a look at the same for someone with five more years of experience, ten more, and so on. Don’t forget to include all the different promotion opportunities your job can lead to. There may be a clear path up the ladder or several different ways to go – you’ll need to explore all the options. That’s how you’ll know if your earning potential is something you feel comfortable with.

How Much Do You Pay to Do Your Job?

Yes, you read that right. Sometimes it can cost money to work. Starting with the basics, what’s your commute like? What kind of wardrobe are you required to wear? Do you have to attend certain social functions regularly? If you’re a freelancer of some sort, how much are you paying out of pocket for taxes and health insurance? There are many ways we pay to work. Even though this may be unavoidable for you, the amount you have to pay to do your job should be factored into how you view your job’s impact on your financial future.

How Does Your Job Affect Your Lifestyle?

This answer may take some digging – the affects your job has on your lifestyle could be so subtle that you hardly notice them. To make this easier, answer this question:  How do you feel about your job? How do you feel when you get home from work each day? If you feel miserable at work then think about what you do in your free time to make up for it. It’s common for those who strongly dislike their jobs to overcompensate in order to make themselves feel better in other ways. This could be as simple as taking frequent weekend shopping sprees or taking lavish vacations to disconnect. Even if you love your job but work very long hours – that could prevent you from taking care of yourself by cooking more than eating out and skipping workouts. However your job affects your psyche, it will likewise affect your finances.

This doesn’t all have to be negative. Maybe you love your job but are under a great deal of stress. Try to find frugal ways to release that stress outside of work. Or maybe you love your job but earn so little that it’s difficult for you to have a life outside of work. That can be frustrating in its own right. If that’s the case, perhaps you could find a way to earn extra money outside of work – so you can still have a job you love but also have some extra money to put into savings and have some fun with. The combinations of answers to this question are endless and yours will be uniquely your own. So really evaluate what doing your job makes you feel like inside and how that affects the rest of your life.

How Much Is Your Job Worth to You?

This is the final step to evaluate and, sometimes, the hardest. We talked about your current pay, potential future pay, how much it could cost you to do your job, and how it impacts your lifestyle. Now comes the easiest and hardest question. How much is your job worth to you? Are you happy? Do you feel fulfilled? Are you on a path you want to be on? Don’t determine your job’s value on your pay alone, but also on what your priorities in life are. We all give something up for our jobs, whether it be money, fulfillment, or time. Which of these things are you willing to give up and which do you value the highest? This is how you should truly decide the value of how much your current job is worth to you.

For example, let’s say you love to do a type of work that simply may never pay well. Should you give up your dream? It depends on what’s most important to you: pursuing that dream or having more financial stability. Remember there is no right or wrong way to feel about this! If your feelings fall in the middle, there may be a way to pursue your dream outside of work and thus find a job that will provide you more stability. Maybe you’re a lawyer saving up to start your own business someday. Or maybe you’re an aspiring writer spending all of your time outside of work finishing that novel so you can get published, but still get paid decently well in the meantime. If you take out the black and white view that is so common about careers, you might just find the perfect balance for your life.

As you can hopefully now see, there are multiple ways to evaluate your job and how it affects your financial future. Since your happiness and fulfillment have so much to do with your finances, these things can’t be separated by a simple budget. Take some time and really evaluate the answers in order to decide if your job is keeping you from a bright financial future.

This article is part of our Career Tips Resource Center.  If you’re looking for additional information about career tips, be sure to pay a visit!

Image Credit: Tim Patterson

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  • This is something I’m struggling with right now and these questions are vital to moving forward in my career and financially. Thanks for asking the tough questions and helping me realize that I have to stay proactive in my job, so I don’t get too complacent and be stuck in a rut forever.

    • Shannon_ReadyForZero

      I’m so glad that this was helpful to you Carrie! This is a struggle so many of us face so hopefully opening up the topic will help all of us talk about it more!

  • BuckleDownFinance

    Awesome post. People just do not seem to get it sometimes. We try to help our members understand this all the time.


    • Shannon_ReadyForZero

      Thanks! I think a lot of us think of our jobs and finances separately – job being something we have to do and finances something we have to take care of on our own. To actually realize that your job/career is a tool to enrich your financial future is actually an empowering moment. Let’s hope we can spread the word on this and help more people feel empowered!