1- Use the law of supply and demand to your advantage. Most of us are familiar with the law of supply and demand–the more there is of something, the cheaper it is; conversely, the rarer the product or service, the more expensive it is. However, other than when we get to a toy store before sunrise to get on line for the latest fad toy that kids can’t get enough of, we don’t really apply the law of supply and demand to our own lives–particularly our careers. For example, if you’re aspiring to do something that many, many other people want to do (so much so that they do it for free, as a hobby) then it will be far more challenging for you to make money doing it. On the other hand, if you do something that most people don’t want to do, or if you get very good at doing something most people don’t do all that well, then you can make a whole lot more money. In other words, choose a career in pharmacy over photography.
- If your career path is going nowhere, resign gracefully and switch careers. Research occupations to find out how much they pay and what their future outlook is (in the U.S., you can find this information in the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook). Find an occupation that pays well, and invest in the education and/or training to get you that job. Look for employers that offer competitive salaries and ample opportunity for advancement.
- If your goal is to make enough money to retire early, prioritize earning potential over job satisfaction, since you plan on getting out of the rat race early, anyway. Consider the types of jobs that pay extraordinarily well in exchange for hard work, little psychological satisfaction, and a punishing lifestyle, such as investment banking, sales, and engineering. If you can keep your expenses low and do this for about 10 years, you can save a nest egg for a modest but youthful retirement, or to supplement your income while you do something you really love doing but doesn’t pay much. But keep in mind that delayed gratification requires clear goal-setting and strong willpower.
- They say that a penny saved is a penny earned. Actually, when you consider that you pay taxes on every penny you earn, you really do make more money by savingthan by increasing your income, especially if the extra income will increase your tax rate dramatically. For example, let’s say you have a choice between saving $100 or earning an extra $100. If you pay 15% taxes, then when you earn an $100, you only get $85. But when you save $100 off of your existing budget, you keep it all. To sweeten the deal further, if you take advantage of compound interest as found in most savings accounts, over time you’ll start making money on the amount saved plus previous interest paid on that amount saved. It’ll be pennies at first, but eventually the amount will multiply exponentially.
- Take advantage of tax laws if you’re self-employed. Money saved on taxes is still money saved. You may be able to deduct many of your business expenses (use of your home, use of your car, office supplies, etc.) if you keep good records. You may also qualify for tax breaks, such as deducting your health insurance premiums on your tax return. These laws are in place to encourage commerce and business growth, so don’t neglect their benefits.
- If you’re not self-employed and work for a company, find out if they have a retirement plan. If you’re lucky, employers will sometimes match contributions you make into a retirement fund. Retirement plans also often have the benefit of being tax-deferred. The longer you get to keep your money (and make interest on it) the better. It’s never too early to start planning for retirement.
- Watch out for inflation chipping away at your assets. We’ve all heard an elderly person describe the purchasing power of a coin in their day. Inflation continues to make today’s money worth less in the future. To win the race against time and inflation, learn to invest your money in the right places. A savings account might help you to keep up with inflation; however, to stay ahead of the game you’ll want to invest in bonds, stocks, or some other investment that returns above the average rate of inflation (currently 3%-4%).
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