Is There Money In Politics? Comments33 Comments

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When you were young, you may have said that you wanted to one day be the President or a congressman. In fact, it seems as though such aspirations are right there with being a firefighter or police officer for most young children. I had these aspirations myself once (and still sometimes do).

But as we grow older, we see the reality of politics. It is a career filled with risks, publicity, and being hated by half of the population. Instead of glamorous speeches and massive houses, you are just as likely to end up unemployed. Politics is a complicated career path, and even those who are successful see a variety of major setbacks in their careers.

So is there any money to be made in being a career politician? Maybe, if you are successful. Let’s take a look at some of the financial considerations of a political career.

Earning Potential

When we look at politicians, many of them do make a substantial income. President Obama makes $400,000 per year, which is obviously a massive salary. And that doesn’t even count all of the benefits he gets, like living in the White House and having constant security. The next step down the ladder would be Congress. Members of the House of Representatives make $174,000 per year, plus benefits. This is similar to the levels seen in Canada, where members of Parliament make a $157,731 salary and the Prime Minister makes $315,462.

And while those are fantastic salaries, remember that those are the upper levels of national governments. Being President of the United States is like being the CEO of one of the biggest companies in the world, all of whom make many times what the President does. If you are at the lower levels of political ladder, you may not make as much. Salaries for local and state political positions range from barely above the poverty line up till about $100,000.

Instability

Another thing to consider about a political career is that the pay may be unstable. One year you may hold a position that pays well, but the next you could be voted out and be forced to find a new job. This instability is part of the nature of a career that relies on being elected for terms in office. Depending on what office you are seeking, this may be a very short or very long term. In the US, Senators get six year terms while members of the House only get two, for instance.

Campaign Costs

Of course, a huge consideration to take into account is the cost of running political campaigns. You will be able to get donations to help fund your campaigns, but that may not be enough. Especially for lower level local positions, campaigns are oftentimes paid out of pocket by those who are running for the position. While you won’t have to spend the millions of dollars that presidential candidates do if you are running for mayor of a small town, you can still expect a big chunk of change will need to be spent in order to get elected. Remember that advertising in any form is always expensive, and it may be needed to win your election.

So is there money to be made in politics? Sure, but it can be hard to reach high paying levels, the pay is unstable, and most of your money will go right back into campaigning. There is a reason that most politicians have already had successful careers in other places.

But if you are determined, there is no reason to not become a politician. In fact, it can be a great career choice if you are determined.

Author Bio: James Petzke is the writer behind This Is Common Cents. He writes mostly about building wealth through frugality and living meaningfully, and he hopes to one day hold national political office.

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This entry was posted in Career, and tagged , , Comments33 Comments
By : Adam | 5 Mar 2013
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33 thoughts on “Is There Money In Politics?

  1. John S @ Frugal Rules

    I would hate to become a politician, especially with how the election cycle seems to have just gotten longer. I think the real earning potential, for well-known national politicians at least, is when they leave office and are able to take on speaking engagements.

    Reply
    1. James Petzke @ This Is Common Cents

      Yeah you are right about that, many politicians leave office and make millions based on their reputations from when they held office.

      Reply
  2. Jose

    The real money is in the speaking engagements and books they release, either while in office to after. There’s also the possibility of private employment with a corporation after your stint. People that are familiar with and know how the behind the scenes deals are made in DC are in high demand and get paid ridiculous amounts of money by corporations that want to influence policy. I would never want to be a politician. There isn’t a soap strong enough or a shower with enough hot water to wash the icky feeling off!

    Reply
    1. James Petzke @ This Is Common Cents

      Yeah just look at George W. Bush, despite his low approval ratings, he no doubt made millions with the book he wrote about his presidency.

      Reply
  3. The Happy Homeowner

    Unless someone wanted to pay me millions and took care of my loved ones and friends as well, I’m not sure they could pay me enough to be a politician. That being said, I’d still have to consider if the money was worth sacrificing my life and being thrown into such a corrupt world…

    Reply
    1. James Petzke @ This Is Common Cents

      Many people seem to share your opinion, that is for sure. Political office just isn’t for everyone.

      Reply
  4. Edward Antrobus

    Of course there is money in politics. Back in my home-state of NJ, being a member of the state legislature is considered “part-time” and pays $30,000 Not bad for a part time job! If you compare that to being a CEO or some finance position, that is small potatoes. But for millions of Americans, that is a pretty solid salary. Heck, it’s almost what my wife makes working full time!

    Of course, where the real money comes in is the great revolving door of lobbying. Once you’ve been an elected official, you are qualified to be a lobbyist. Get in with one of the big lobbying firms and you will make more than you did in public office.

    Reply
    1. James Petzke @ This Is Common Cents

      Lobbying firms can pay huge amounts of money, which is a great avenue to make money for former politicians.

      Reply
  5. Grayson @ Debt RoundUp

    I wouldn’t touch being in politics with a 10 foot pole. That is not something that I would want to do and the pay would not be enough for me to deal with the corruption and just plain out lies that we hear on a local and national level. Yes, there is money in politics and that is why most people try to stay in it when they get in.

    Reply
    1. James Petzke @ This Is Common Cents

      You have to wonder if there really is as much corruption as many people claim in politics. Certainly not all politicians are totally evil. Just food for thought.

      Reply
  6. Cody @ Samurai Trading

    There is no amount I could be paid that would possibly be enough. The only good reason to get into politics is purely for public service but you would continually be opposing self-serving dirtbags and those pushing one corporation or another. It would just be so incredibly frustrating if you were actually hoping to accomplish anything of substance.

    Reply
    1. James Petzke @ This Is Common Cents

      The public service aspect of things is huge, and that is why many people get into it. It really is a pretty selfless way to contribute to society.

      Reply
  7. TB at BlueCollarWorkman

    Well man, I gotta say, this is one thing that pisses me off. THe idea of a “poltiical career.” There should be no such thing. We’re all supposed to have regular jobs. And then give up our regular job for a short period of time to represent our fellow dudes from our community. And then after that little bit of time, return to our regular job. And the time that we spent representing our community was a public service…which means, no real money to be made. The idea of a political “career” seems all wrong to me. You can’t represent me if you’ve never had a regular job like me but have only ever been in politics.

    Reply
    1. James Petzke

      I would totally agree with you on this, but I think we also need to realize that is how things are in America right now.

      Reply
  8. Darnell Jackson

    There’s a TON of money in politics.

    It dawned on me during the last campaign that you have two options.

    You can either get paid off politics

    or get mad because of politics.

    I think bloggers who are scared to talk about the morons who act like they represent us are missing a huge opportunity.

    Why not spice things up and have some fun with these clowns in suits?

    Reply
    1. James Petzke

      That is a pretty interesting take. Especially during election season, you are right about the potential for bloggers in politics.

      Reply
  9. Tushar @ Everything Finance

    I think this has been said, but there is money not just in the politics but also in the publicity that politicians get. It opens up a new money-making world for them if they aren’t successful making money in just politics.

    Reply
  10. Listen Money Matters

    You know, I don’t even think it’s the direct salaries that we should be concerned with. It’s well known that power draws money and that corruption is something we need to continuously battle. For every person we catch, there must be like 10 that we don’t. I have to admit I’ve been watching a lot of House of Cards, but still, I’m sure the show is closer to reality than we think!

    Reply
  11. Roger @ The Chicago Financial Planner

    The flip side is the money that can be made after leaving politics. Just look at Bill Clinton. Now Hilary will be commanding the same huge speaking fees. Lyndon Johnson made his fortune while in public life, he and his wife owned many broadcasting entities, I’m sure his position in the Senate didn’t hurt him at all.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      It is the ultimate stepping stone for getting public exposure. It’s pretty crazy how much former politicians can pay for speaking fees after they are done with politics. Of course, that is for high level politicians. Lower end politicians instead could use their fame to get decent jobs afterwards, especially if they did anyone special favors.

      Reply
  12. Jim

    Yes there is money in politics and that is the problem. Our forefathers went into politics as public servants/statesmen, many now go for the pay and the benefits, not to make sure the constitution is followed as originally intended.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      I’m not sure how much of a problem it is. They need high pay to attract the most qualified people, otherwise they’d instead go work for a private company. There are definitely those that get way more than they deserve though.

      Reply

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