I commuted to college for 4 years, saved as much money as I could, and came away with around $16,000 in debt. I wanted to make sure I limited my debt so that when my degree landed me a great job, I’d have plenty of money.
So when I graduated and was offered my first job, I was ecstatic. Then I learned the pay: $17,000 per year. Adjusted for inflation – even today’s radical inflation – that’s around $25,000. In one respect, coming from a traditional blue collar family, I felt lucky to be landing a job at all, let alone one working at a web development company. That’s why I took it.
It wasn’t long, however, that I learned there was really no feasible way I could move into my own place short of maybe the back room at a crack house. It was frustrating, and that’s when my Dad told me something I will never forget:
“That company underpaying you is the best thing that happened to you.”
What exactly did he mean?
Table of Contents
- Nothing To Lose
- Everything To Lose
- What You Can Do About It
Nothing To Lose
When you’re not paid enough and/or you hate your job, there’s something liberating about it. Yes, you need it to make ends meet, but you’re not (or at least shouldn’t be) doing more than the bare minimum. And, particularly with today’s strong job market, you can likely get another similar job if something happens.
Rock bottom is where we can find strength and motivation. Humans are resilient and, in the face of adversity, it’s surprising and incredible what can be achieved. However, the problem is that it’s also where some people completely give up.
I’m never getting out of this job.
I’m destined to struggle to make ends meet forever.
I’m not capable of doing more.
It’s easy for you to say, but I’m stuck.
I promised myself I would try to avoid being a motivational cheerleader on this blog because I want to give you actionable steps. But in this case, it needs to be pointed out.
A defeatist attitude gives you zero chance. If you go into virtually anything assuming you can’t do it, then you won’t be able to do it.
That’s just how it works. The mind is very powerful. So here’s your motivation: you CAN get out of your dead end, low paying job and you CAN achieve a freedom and satisfaction you never had before.
With the help of my guides on building a profitable site and some proper time management, anybody can do it. I’ll link to some resources at the end of this article.
Everything To Lose
Contrary to the above, I know many people who are stuck at their unsatisfying job for the opposite reason. They make too much money, and they’ve leveraged their income too far. They might get a paycheck with a bigger number on it, but, at the end of the day, they’re living the same life as someone who makes ten times less.
Society’s Blind Spot
Personal finance is severely under taught in both the education system and parents, mostly because they’re clueless too. But the notion of saving money is extremely important. I think many people are short-term thinkers without much discipline, so they end up making one compromise, and then another compromise. Eventually they have a lot of “stuff” but no cash in the bank.
Saving money both protects you from the unforeseen and provides opportunities to make a change if you’re feeling drained.
Before I quit my first job, I saved an entire year’s salary by working my side gigs and saving some of my paycheck. To this day, one of the best feelings I’ve ever had was when I said to myself, “Wow. I have an entire year to make my own business successful.”
And not only did this one year of time I essentially purchased by saving money lead to success, it led to financial freedom 40+ years earlier than the traditional route.
Avoid Your Own Prison
So when you tie yourself to a job by spending all of the (oftentimes high) income you earn, you’ve literally imprisoned yourself. Again, there is nothing wrong with making a lot of money and spending a lot of money if it makes you happy. I’m not judging, but I assume you’re here because that isn’t the case.
Time and financial management are the catalysts that will get you out of the job you hate and into a more fulfilling business and life.
What You Can Do About It
The Internet is full of “gurus” telling you that you can change your life followed by really vague actionable steps that don’t translate to any change. They keep it vague because 1. they don’t actually know and have never done it themselves and 2. continuing to dangle the carrot means selling you more BS.
I am going to try to put you on the right path in the simplest way possible. So if you hate your current job, take these three steps toward getting out of it.
Focus Your Time
Generally speaking, people are terrible at managing their time. Then you have the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world who optimize every minute for ultimate efficiency. For example, he buys the same outfit 7 times and wears it all week so that he doesn’t spend a single second deciding on what to wear.
It might sound robotic (it is Zuck afterall), and I’m not suggesting you take it to that extreme, but you need to write down on paper how much time you’re spending on certain activities. For example, here’s what mine looks like:
- Sleep: 6.5 hours
- Cooking/Eating: 1.5 hours
- Group Chats With friends: 4.5 hours (not joking)
- Other Non-productive apps: 45 minutes
There’s more to this, and, of course, my work schedule isn’t exactly traditional, so I’m not including it right now.
But I can immediately see that 4.5 hours of sharing memes and making jokes with my friends can easily be cut back. Even cutting it back to 2.5 hours gives me an extra 2 hours to focus on my business. Coincidentally, that’s about what it takes me to write an article on this site.
So, dive into what you’re spending time on, putting down on paper so you can see it, and look at where you can make cuts or otherwise optimize. If you can’t find any available time, then you’re doing it wrong. Here are couple of resources:
Once you’ve given yourself the gift of more time, you have a newfound tool that’s part of the process of changing your life.
Tighten Your Finances
I say this fully understanding the arrogant vibe it gives off. But I don’t really need to check my spending habits but… I do it anyway about once a month.
Basically, I go through everything I spent money on in the past month and see where there are flaws. Am I still subscribed to Starz even after my wife already consumed all of Outlander? Did I spend more than normal on clothes?
Much like managing your time, start with a tangible list of items that you can go through one by one. Question every single expense by asking, “Did I miss out on any savings by being lazy? Did I really need that? Can I call this company and get a better price?”
It blows my mind how few people don’t really understand the basic concepts of optimizing their personal finances. If you get it, I apologize for the condescending tone, but it’s a serious, deeply rooted problem across the country regardless of income.
Here are two great common sense resources to help you “find” money.
Now that you’ve given yourself a little more time and a little more money, you have the bandwidth to start creating something special that will, once successful, give you a lot more time and a lot more money. That’s why it’s worth the short term sacrifice.
Read My Guides
Shamless plug or not, I wouldn’t have started this site if I didn’t believe in my path to business success. Spend the time you’ve gained through the steps above, and read my 6 guides on building a profitable website. It should only take a couple of hours.
You also didn’t have to save that much money with financial tightening to afford it. For a couple hundred bucks, you can be completely up and running, ready to create amazing content that brings in traffic and money.
Be confident in your abilities, don’t make excuses, and find the time and money to take small steps. Small steps become big steps, and big steps take you to new places in your journey.