Are You Neglecting this Important Area of Personal Finance?

When it comes to personal finance, there are three major areas that people tend to focus on: saving money, getting out of debt, and (sometimes) investing.

Two of those things (saving money and paying off debt) are in the top 20 of the world’s most popular goals on 43 things.

In other words, lots of people want to save money (whether that’s literally saving up money or getting better deals on things, I’m not sure) and lots of people want to get out of debt.

Those are great money-related goals, but there’s a big one that I suspect either a lot of people are neglecting — or else it’s still somehow still considered uncouth to admit to: making more money.

Lots of kids will tell you that they want to make a lot of money when they grow up, and some adults certainly do make a lot of money. But you don’t hear a lot of adults listing “make a million dollars in the next ten years” as their goal. You don’t hear people planning how they can make more money at their current jobs, how they can live off investments, etc. You do hear a lot about “passive income” in the non-investment sense and “get rich quick” schemes, but those seem to be the exception.

I don’t believe that making more money is a magic cure for most people (unless you’re near the poverty level — then even a slight increase in income makes an enormous difference).

But I do believe that paying attention to how much we are paid (and making sure that we’re paid what our skills our worth) is something that too many people neglect, myself included.

Having a good income plus being financially responsible (by paying off debt, saving money, investing, and planning for the future) can be that added boost that really gets you to where you want to be.

What has your experience been like? Is this an area you think is worth focusing on?


  • This was my sole focus for many years after completing my year of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA, where I made $700 a month in Los Angeles County as a stipended volunteer. Being that broke will motivate anyone!

    Anyhoo, I reached my goal, blah blah blah. But I was miserable. I actually recently accepted a job that pays less (but has better benefits) because it was a more sane working environment. My freelance writing gigs are bringing in more money, so that helps bridge the (albeit small) gap. For me, learning balance has been key and understanding that more money does not always equate more security, particularly if I’m not managing it well.

    But, yeah…I wouldn’t mind making even more. ha!

    • CF, I agree that there has to be a healthy balance. You would think there could be well-paying jobs in sane environments out there…

  • While my main goals are paying off debt and saving a nice nest egg in an emergency fund, I still contribute 10% of my salary to my 401k. Do you consider that to be investing? Where do you suggest to start investing?

    • Kate, it depends what your funds are doing in the 401k. Are they in a money market account? If so, I wouldn’t consider that investing, but more like saving. Are they in something that’s expected to (ideally) grow over time? In that case I would consider that investing.

  • I’m guilty as charged when it comes to focusing too much on saving/investing/getting out of debt and neglecting my career path goals. That is something I have to keep reminding myself now..thanks!

  • David, it’s good to have focus, but sometimes working on your career goals too can make the others go much faster.

  • My experience is that you can never earn enough… unless you manage what you earn effectively. That being said we should always try to increase income because, like you said, it can make a difference. In the end each dollar you save is more valuable than any dollar you earn and for this reason savings deserve the greater attention so that you will have assets to invest.

    • LeanLifeCoach, managing what you do earn effectively is absolutely the place to start. In fact I kind of suspect that doing so is a prerequisite to earning more — or at least it often seems like the better you are at managing what you have already, the easier it is to earn more.