There are common threads in my experiences. One of them that keeps cropping up is the issue of money. I often found myself in situations where my pay would just not cover my costs. Much of that had to do with the fact that when you have any entry level position and have no experience and not much on your resume to back you up, your pay is low. So in many instances, I just wasn’t getting by. I’m not entirely sure whether that was a reason for quitting or an excuse. I think it was the former. Regardless, it was a matter that I should have dealt with much more seriously.
The irony is that I was working for banks. So having a cash shortfall, I should have looked for some financial support from my employer, a line of credit for example. At that time, I was heavy into debt avoidance. Wrong. In trying to achieve my long-terms goals, being debt averse is often counterproductive. Normally, as you career takes hold, the money issues will usually resolve themselves. It wasn’t a matter of using the money for trips, to buy a car, clothes. I needed some room for my ongoing living expenses.
Invariably that should have lead to preparing a budget. It may sound silly, but there is no stage in your life where a budget becomes unnecessary. Having a clear read on where you are financially is always important. It’s the same old story, short-term pain for long-term gain.
The point is that in the end you “gotta do what you gotta do.” Reversing course over money was not the answer. I should have kept my eye on the ball, becoming an investment or merchant banker. But being both young and inexperienced, I ended up jumping ship and not staying the course. What’s important is getting that experience to build your resume. Working at a major, internationally recognized financial institution in a major financial center would have, I am convinced, eventually pay off.
So getting your budget down on paper is really important. It’s really not necessary to look for involved budgeting software or apps. An Excel spreadsheet will do. If a more comprehensive tool makes you happy, then get one. What you’ll find is that it creates discipline. You can see where you’re at and adjust for where you need to go. At the same time, keep track of your net worth. A tool may be helpful, but again, you can do something basic in Excel. It’s not the tool that’s important, doing it is important.
So you’re short of money
Remember, what budgeting is about is you understanding reality. Create a realistic budget, something that you can live with. See how much flexibility you have financially to withstand a few bumps. A line of credit might be the solution if the purpose of it is to allow you to carry on with your career plan. If you use it for trips or other things that you want (not need), you’re headed for trouble. Spending beyond your means to carry out your career plan is admirable. But spending to have a good time will just put you under more pressure when that job comes along that pays more but doesn’t advance your career.
Let me give you an example of what I mean. While in England, my salary was just enough to get by. I was able to pay my rent, food and most of the necessities of life. There was no money for any of my wants: a dinner out, a show, some new suits, etc. Clearly, I was in need of some additional financial resources to allow me to get over this financial trough. So instead of focusing on my job, my career, I fretted about money. It had a corrosive effect on my work and on my determination to carry on. Investing in a career is much like investing in a business. It’s a long-term deal, not a short-term commitment. I should have found a way to bridge the gap while putting my work first and foremost.
Many of my colleagues had similar financial issues. But they STUCK IT OUT! Looking for a short-term financial win pretty much sabotaged my long-term goals. DON’T DO IT! Keep your eye on the ball. It’s like skiing. If you watch your feet, you’ll fall down. If you keep your eyes on the chalet at the bottom of the hill, you’ll get there. In between, there are bumps, but you won’t fall down! When you drive your car, the car will go where your eyes go. Look to the left, and the car goes left. If you look straight ahead you’ll keep going straight ahead! Enough with the analogies, just do it.