Our financial decisions have a direct impact on our career choices. Some of those financial decisions are made well before we have a full-time career and they end up having an enormous impact.
Here are some of the ways my financial decisions have affected my career choices. When I attended college back in 1988, I did what many students have done and took on student loans to pay for my education. These loans discouraged me from working on a Master’s Degree because I wasn’t willing to take on additional debt. This decision began to shape my career path very early on. We decided to stay where we were and pay off our school debts. I accepted an entry level position for a good company. It was the best thing I had in front of me at the time.
Another decision I made was to buy a home. Within a few months of graduating from college, my wife and growing family moved into our first home. It was fixer upper in the college town where we lived. We bought it for a very low price, but it also needed a lot of work. For the next 8 years or so, we raised our family and I worked, and worked on our fixer upper home. I continued to perform well and get promoted a couple of times at the good company where I worked, even though it wasn’t the original career path I had imagined for myself.
Throughout this process, we had a good start to our life. We rarely had “extra” but we got by. We had decent credit so if an emergency happened, or we needed money for a project on our home, we would borrow the money. These decisions allowed us to do what we wanted at the time, or take care of an emergency, but they also began to bury us under a mountain of debt.
Are financial decisions the only reason for our career choices? I don’t think so, but they do have a significant impact. College debt, home debt and credit card debt have a way of limiting career options. For us anyway, it felt like the path we were traveling was less about our own choice and more about what we had to do to meet our obligations. As I look back, I am grateful for all that I have learned and I am blessed to have enjoyed a great career working for some great companies. Here are some things that I have learned, and this is how I coach young people today:
Find a way to pay Cash for College. It’s rarely easy, but you will never have as much energy as you have when you are in college. Make it happen. Student debt will be an unshakeable weight that drags you down over time. College debt begins, immediately after graduation, to demand attention and force you down paths that you may not want to take. Here are some ideas.
Postpone Buying a House. While this does not sound like the American Way, a house can tie you down and limit your options. Home ownership can work against you financially and restrict your mobility. Make sure that you are prepared and buy a house when you are ready. Here are some good principles to follow.
Make sure that you have a Financial Reserve. An emergency fund helps you to get through the rough times. Rough times always come. When you are not prepared for them, you begin to accumulate debt. That debt can pile up around you and make you feel stuck. While you can always find a way to change your situation, it is amazing how much time goes by while you just keep “making ends meet.”
So, do financial decisions shape your career choices? Yes they do. This doesn’t have to be a negative thing, but it’s important to know that avoiding debt and making good financial decisions will keep more options open for you.
How have your money decisions affected your career path? I bet you have a story and I would love to hear it. Leave a comment below and let’s start the conversation. I would also love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter as well. Thanks for reading!