Sunday, December 18, 2011

More Income is Always Nice...

In debates about energy policy, people on the Left always tout conserving energy as the solution to our energy problems.  Conserving energy is a great idea, but the problem is, you can only conserve so much - the laws of thermodynamics dictate that there will always be a need for energy, if you want to do anything.

So conserving can save energy, but it can't create it.    So you still end up, at the end of the day, with the question of which energy source do you want to use - and they all have drawbacks, of course.

Similarly, you can live on less money, as I am learning to do, but you can't economize your way to wealth entirely.  You do have to have some sort of income from which to save money.

And just as having more energy is always a plus, having more income is a good idea as well - provided you don't do the goldfish bowl scenario and grow into your new income and end up as broke as before.

Opportunities to make more money should not be shoved aside without careful consideration.  Many folks stay in depressed areas where there are no jobs and what few jobs there are, pay poorly.  "We like it here," they say, "and besides, the hunting is good!"

All the deer in the world, however, are not worth living in abject poverty for.  If you live in a depressed area and have the chance to move to a better one and get a better job, don't turn it down out of hand merely because "My whole family is from Hooterville, and I was born here and I'll die here!"

Similarly, if you have educational opportunities handed to you - or opportunities for advancement - don't turn them away out of hand.  And I've seen people do this, too.

For example, at the Patent Office, they would pay for you to go to law school.  A pretty neat deal and an opportunity that few on this planet have.  And yet, many people I knew refused to even consider it or at least try it.  "Too much work," they would say, "and besides, a new episode of 'Lost' is on tonight!"

One reason I went to Law School was because I had to.  When I moved to the DC area, I was shocked how expensive things were.  I wanted to buy a small, two-bedroom home in a modest neighborhood, and even that was out of reach on a government salary.  Moreover, I wanted to be financially independent, over time, and not be constantly living hand-to-mouth.

I realized that my salary would never get me very far ahead, and that a jump-start to my career was needed.  Once in Law School, I was able to get a job with a law firm, and increased my income by 50% immediately.

I am now at a point in my life where I can earn as much as I choose, within limits of course.   Living below the poverty line is not desirable, of course, and unless I win the lottery, I can't earn an infinite amount.  But I can choose how much to work and since my personal overhead is non-existent, I can still get by. 

And this is a good place to be, as retirement looms ahead.  And it is a place that everyone should want to be, unless they have a sweet defined benefits pension.  But few do.

Saving money is important.  But if you have the chance to improve your education and enhance your career, or the chance to get a promotion or a wage increase, think it over carefully.  Not all such opportunities are desirable.   But if you can increase your skill level, and thus your salary level, it is like turbocharging your finances.

Just make sure to save that pay raise, instead of spending it all!