You read that right; I didn’t make enough money to cover my bills. But how did I get here and why did it catapult my wealth building?
Years prior I was living in Southern Maryland working as an administrative assistant. I wasn’t swimming in money, but the cost of living was fair for the salary. I was in my early 20s and although I’ve always wanted to be majorly wealth, I wasn’t hyper focused on increasing my wealth yet.
Something comes over me and I start spending many hours after work in the library. I’m reading any book that feels good to my spirit which included lots of motivation and personal finance books. From all my reading, I gain clarity on my goals and create actionable plans to achieve them.
I start using the techniques I read about to try to increase my salary. None of it is working. I’m constantly told there is no budget to increase my salary even after taking on several tasks outside my job description.
I decide to not take it personal and look for another job. I get interviews in a couple states. I run the numbers and every place makes more sense than the San Francisco Bay Area, but my spirit keeps pulling me to the Bay Area, so I take the job even though my salary won’t quite cover all my basic bills.
Why did this seemingly not smart move help me?
First, I want to say that it wasn’t spontaneous. I was fully aware of my Mars in Aries thoughtless action tendencies by this point, so I was meticulous in my analysis prior to deciding and had an exit strategy planned for if I couldn’t rise to the occasion.
Benefit #1: My 401k was going to grow faster at this location, even if I was living in a bit of a desperate situation.
Even though my company doesn’t adequately compensate their employees for the cost of living in the Bay Area, I still was getting my 401k matching at a higher rate than if I went to a lower cost of living area. I had to downgrade a lot of areas of my life, but my 401k got an upgrade that I’m still benefiting from to this day.
Your Takeaway: A raise is often better than a bonus, overtime, or a 2nd job because 401k matching is usually only based on your salary. Plus, all future raises are based on your salary, so the magic of compound interest gets activated.
Benefit #2: Once I got promotions and raises, I still carried with me those -$7 a week skills and am able to make the most of a higher salary.
Up until then, I had lived a comfortable middle-class life which is fraught with waste. This situation taught me how to make a meal with $2, to flip items from garage sales, to only buy what I really needed or what made me wide eyed with adoration.
If I never lived on such a tight budget, I wouldn’t have been able to turn my current salary into as much wealth as I have.
Your Takeaway: Do an exercise where you pretend your salary was cut by 1/3, what would you cut back on?
Benefit #3: No More Miss Nice Girl
Without being unkind, I became cutthroat because I had to be. My idea of cutthroat is really just not being a doormat. It just took a couple bounced rent checks for me to muster the courage to request compensation for taking over a whole other employee’s job duties when they left. How could I not be brave when I was only able to eat $1 pasta for weeks on end and our CEO was making $31 million a year? You’d have to be a masochist to not ask for more.
Your Takeaway: Ask for more. Ignite your self worth fire. One way to do that is to research how much the executives at your job make. I was blown away when I realized we had several executives making double digit millions, meanwhile there were employees not able to pay their basic bills. They could never say you’re being greedy, so why not at least make a counteroffer or ask for a raise if your job duties significantly increase?
Those are the three main benefits I gained from a seemingly dire situation that helped me catapult my wealth. Remember that sometimes we must take a step backwards to take two steps forward. Don’t despair; you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.
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