There is a cycle of life in the workplace … it begins when you get your first job, and hopefully it ends when you retire.
At least, it used to, when people worked their way up from the shop floor to the executive penthouse by working hard and staying with the same company.
By saving as they could, and relying on a good company pension plan (indexed at a reasonably high percentage of their ‘ending salary’) these loyal, hard-working folk could look forward to a reasonably relaxed retirement at the age of 65.
Not so any more …
A news release published in August 2006 examined the number of jobs that people born in the years 1957 to 1964 held from age 18 to age 40.
According to this report, these younger baby boomers held an average of 10.5 jobs from ages 18 to 40 (In this report, a job is defined as an uninterrupted period of work with a particular employer).
Sometimes, this is because of new/better employment opportunities – or simply due to a change in life circumstance – but, all too often, it is due to being laid off.
This brings me to a recent post on Get Rich Slowly that asked “What To Do If You’re Laid Off?” … I’ll let you read the post and the comments, but I can’t help thinking that you need to put in place a ‘backup’ plan (something a little more meaty than the usual “save up a 3 month savings buffer“).
And, I think that the whole process should begin as soon as you get your first job …
… so, I was pleased to see this really cool post on The Simple Dollar, for all you college kids or school drop-outs out there [AJC: this is an equal opportunity 'get rich(er) quick(er)' site!].
The article was called About To Enter The Workplace For The First Time? Try The 50% Solution which really boils down to:
- We all know that Paying Yourself First 10% – 20% of your gross salary is a really cool thing, so
- Starting your very first job by Paying Yourself First 50% of your gross salary must be a really, really, really cool thing?
Read the post for more details, but TSD is absolutely right … why?
A. If you’re used to living on NOTHING, then living on 50% of SOMETHING has gotta be a snap
B. If 10% of your gross salary compounded for, say, 40 years can give you $730,000 then 50% compounded for the same 40 years should give you $3,700,000 [AJC: It won't be WORTH $3.7 mill. but that's another story!].
But, as some of that post’s commenters pointed out, it can be very hard to start saving 50% of your starting salary, even if you lived on nothing before, because now you need to buy: food, shelter, transport, and so on.
But, the principle of setting your target much higher (TSD suggests 60/40 … spend 60% save 40%) when you start out and trying to maintain your momentum holds water.
Here is what I think that everybody who is still working for a living should do, regardless of source and amount of income, or their age:
1. Use this post, and the others that I have referred to, as a wake-up call that your job is NOT secure … therefore, your life is NOT secure until you take your future security into your OWN hands.
2. Once you realize that you are taking a financial risk every day at work, it becomes much easier to think about ways to break free. Start by putting as much behind you as quickly as possible, in case the ‘worst’ happens:
i). Commit to an maintain a Pay Yourself First mentality that may be as little as 10% of your current salary or as much as 50% – anything less is not enough … anything more and you are a miser
ii). For any future increase in salary – commit to saving 50% of the increase and putting it to work in your Investment Plan
iii). For any future ‘found money’ including bonuses, tax refund checks, overtime payment, spouse back to work, etc. – commit to saving 50% of the increase and putting it to work in your Investment Plan
iv). Start a part time business – or find another way to increase your income - commit to saving 50% of the increase and putting it to work in your Investment Plan.
Take these actions with the eventual aim of firing your boss before he fires you!