If you’re reading this, you’re probably in the same situation that I’m in. The lottery hasn’t paid off yet, your inheritance won’t be here for another 30 years (or maybe your folks will spend it before then), and your kids won’t be buying you a new home anytime soon.
“Every day I get up and look through the Forbes list of the richest people in America. If I’m not there, I go to work.” – Robert Orben
Financial stress can affect you, no matter how much you love your job. You might not have creditors phoning you, but for many people, finances are very top of mind. Ballooning mortgage payments, emergency car repairs, medical bills, and familial responsibilities can distract you from your job, robbing you of energy and productivity. Unfortunately, many people don’t always make the best financial decisions on a daily basis, so when a financial emergency pops up, they aren’t able to focus on anything but the immediate situation.
“I recommend that employers pay workers well and fairly and then do everything possible to help them forget about money. A preoccupation with money distracts everyone—employers and employees—from the issues that really matter.” – Alfie Kohn
Why not try to worry less about living paycheck to paycheck this year, and start focusing on doing your job to the best of your abilities. Here are some things to think about to help you on the road to removing the causes of financial stress in your office life and provide yourself with a financial safety net:
Think about how much each purchase costs you in terms of working hours. Eating takeout lunch at $10 per day every week will cost you two and a half hours worth of pre-tax wages at $20 an hour ( estimating $40,000 a year). Add that up, and over the course of the year, almost three weeks worth of wages have been spent on mediocre lunches. A regular coffee by itself twice a day, five days a week will cost you 45 minutes per week—or almost another week of wages over the course of the year.
Is what you’re about to buy worth the time it takes you to earn it?
Cost versus value. Do you need one pair of $400 shoes, or would four pairs of $100 shoes work just fine for you? I prefer eight pairs of $50 shoes, but you have to be the one that makes this decision. Does a $700 purse make you a better person? Some people feel that they need to compete with everyone around them, and the only way to get an advantage is to have the best material possessions and fashion accessories. And look at it from your bosses point of view: if an employee came to you begging for a raise, wearing $400 shoes, what are the chances that you are going to feel sympathetic?
What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Credit card debt. How much interest are you paying per year? When you make a purchase, do you think of how much money you have left on your card(s), or how much you owe on them? The credit card companies love the fact that you are carrying a balance. And some people even pay an annual fee for the privilege of having a lower interest rate.
Credit card companies are a business, and their goal is to get you to pay as much interest as possible. Don’t make it easy for them.
Charity. Depending on how many people work in your office, this can be a huge financial commitment. You want to be supportive of parents selling cookies or chocolate bars, but you also should be aware of your financial health. Combine this with chipping in for birthday presents, going away gifts, showers, and holiday events like Secret Santa, and it’s not hard to be spending $500 a year on charitable donations.
I’m not saying that you should say “no” to everyone that is asking for your contribution, but try and set a monthly cap that you can afford. That way, when someone asks you to kick in for “Peter and Chris’s new baby” gift, you can honestly say that you’ve donated to this month’s limit. If they want to try again in the beginning of the new month, you’re more than happy to contribute then. This lets them know that you are still willing to share, but they need to catch you earlier next time.
Hire a professional. You see a dentist, a doctor, and a team of psychoanalysts (maybe that’s just me)—why don’t you use a financial planner to help you take care of your financial health? You are fantastic at your job, so choose someone that is fantastic at their job to take care of you. Talk to your successful friends, your senior management, or the owner of your company. I can almost guarantee that they are using a financial planner.
You should too. By following the tips above, you might find that you have a few extra dollars to put toward your financial goals. Work with a professional to make it happen.
Some costs are necessary, some are justifiable–just try to decide if your purchase is a desire or a need. You are already awesome at your job, so don’t let something like bad financial decisions prevent you from giving your best at work.