Not the Usual Career and Financial Advice

For as long as I’ve been reading personal blogs, the key advice you always take away is that to build wealth and financial independence, you have to spend less than you earn (ie SAVE). The is timeless advice.

But there are also lots of folks on the web following the advice of ditching your job, doing your own business, and earning passive income. The advice is given as though being an employee is a plague! Today, I just want to be cheeky and suggest that you do not always have to follow this advice (even if you hate your job or boss!). Here here are some of my goofy thoughts.

Be a civil servant

This advice is not very often given. But in a world where employees now have to take care of their own retirement, the federal government is one of the few employers that still provide pensions. Whether you are a teacher, a police officer, work for the military, this is one of the greatest benefits. Look at it this way, if you are a teacher and you retire with full benefits, you do not need a large account in your IRA (when you rollover from your TIAA account). This advantage is simply huge compared to folks to most of us who have to manage our portfolio (look what happened if you planned to retire in 2009!).

The disadvantage to this strategy is that you have to work till your “retirement age” to be able to get your benefits. But some federal occupations do allow for withdrawal of benefits at a relatively young age. There is also great job security if you work for the federal government though that is beginning to change due to budget deficits.

One good way to diversify a couple’s income is to have one work for the Federal Government and the other having his or her own business or any other career. It will provide the safety net to allow at least one couple to take greater career risk.

Build a successful business

Obviously, this is what most folks strive for. Build a successful business up to a large enough scale so that you get massive cash flow or you could sell the business or IPO it. Not many folks succeed at that level though.

Rise up the corporate ladder

This is something nobody talks about. In the pf blog world (in fact in the whole bloggesphere), every blogger worth their salt is telling everyone to “quit their day job” and “earn passive income”. What most folks do not realize is that folks who are in top management earn more than any of us bloggers (and yes they are corporate folks who have a job and need to answer to their boss). I’m not talking about working for medium size companies. I’m talking about folks who work for fortune 500 companies.

Yes, it is not easy to rise up the ladder. You need to work in the right department. You need a good mentor to advocate for you. You need to perform in your projects. You need to get along with people. You need to be business minded and bottom line oriented. You need to under promise and over deliver. Essentially, to rise up the corporate ladder, you need to have the skills of an entrepreneur as well. But if you have the talent, the financial rewards are huge. These are the folks seeking “financial advisors” to manage their stock options worth millions (whereas us pf bloggers advocate using discount brokers!).

So if you are working in a fortune 500 company, do not get caught in this whole “fire your boss” thing. See if it is worth your while climbing the corporate ladder.

Rise to the top of your profession

What ever profession you are in, rising to the top of your profession almost results in huge financial gains. And the financial rewards at the top dwarf what you earn if you are at the bottom of the pile. The top 10 tennis pros make out like a bandit, while the guy at ATP rank of 40 has to fly coach and stay at cheap hotels when traveling the circuit! Roy Halladay of the Phillies gets $15 million a year while those in the minor leagues earn next to nothing. Like I said before, upper management makes much more money that a regular VP. The programmers at google make six figure salaries. The ordinary folks have to compete with programmers from India!

So before you think of “quitting with grace” to “be an entrepreneur”, ask yourself if you love what you are doing and if you have what it takes to rise to the top. If the answer is yes, work hard at it. If not, then find something that inspires you.

Get into a high paying profession

Getting into a high paying profession makes your road to financial independence easier. If you want to be a historian, don’t expect to be as financially successful as a banker! If you want to be a zoo trainer and that is your passion, do not expect to be better off than those in higher profession.

Look, if there is something you are passionate about and what to do (could be joining a non-profit organization), then go for it. But if you do not know what you want to do, do some research and consider the the earnings potential for the average person in the industry.

And if you do this research before you get into college, it will be even better. If you have $100,000 in student loans and become a zoo trainer, you are going to be worse off than someone with that same student loan but gets a job as a programmer in Microsoft!

Ending Thoughts

I hope this post has made you think about your career, your financial situation and perhaps your next move. But if you are unhappy with your present job, you may be influenced by all these get rich quick, be your own boss, earn passive income fluff that is littering the internet. It might work for some folks, but I suspect that it will not work for most. Rather, figure out what you enjoy doing and really put your heart and soul to it. Most of the time, finance success comes as well if that happens.

Mr Credit Card from gives his views about career and financial advice. He mentions some things that aren’t the kind of advice you’d see in the media.


  • I couldn’t agree more with the “ending thoughts” portion of this guest post. So much of the “lifestyle design” stuff I see is littered with unrealistic expectations and a freakish sense of entitlement (mostly that all life should be one blissed out, easy event). When did being an employee with a steady income become lame? It’s nuts.

  • Hey Consciously Frugal

    I could agree more with you…there’s too much of this “you can work anywhere with just a laptop” going one While it can be done, it takes special skills and talent as well. And we each have our own unique talent.

    I guess the grass is always greener on the other side!

  • Good article, Mr. CC!

    I think the most important point of them all is, first and foremost, to enjoy what you are doing. If you have a passion for what you do, the money will follow. It might take a while, but it will come.

    Conversely, if you get into a high-paying profession that you don’t have a passion for solely for the money then – guess what? – you are eventually going to get smaller raises than your peers (not to mention probably laid off somewhere down the road, if you have a private sector job).

    All the best,

    Len Penzo dot Com

    • Len, I agree, passion really shows. And I think that even if whatever you happen to be doing for work isn’t your “life’s passion”, you can still approach it with passion and excel.

    • Len

      Passion is so important. But I have also noticed there are folks who do not really have passion but are still successful simply because of work ethic. People like these always do their best regardless of whether they are passionate or not.

  • I’ve worked for a university, been an entrepreneur, and lots in between. I echo the other commenters and the jist of the post; do what you love (if you can). There is no one right path for all!! And there are different paths at various life stages too.

  • I’m pretty much agreeing with the other’s comments on this one.

  • My husband is staying with the school system as a librarian instead of a teacher mainly since he thinks he’d enjoy it more but partly so he can keep his 4 years towards his pension. Pensions are amazing IMO…I just can’t picture myself as a teacher or a cop…

  • Pensions are a huge deal. I know a few teachers who have great retirement because of their pensions. I also know folks who have a million dollars in the bank and they can’t live as well as the teachers I know!

    • Pensions are great, although my husband’s Texas pension plan doesn’t sound as good as the folks you know. :-)

      He’ll get about 70% of his pre-retirement income, but the average teacher salary around here is $37-47K…so we won’t ever be rolling in the dough. BUT, it will be a huge help to go along with the $2 million we are saving towards in our other retirement accounts. :-)