Treating Your Job As An Investment

The following is a guest post from Justin at The Family Finances, the story of one family’s financial journey.

Many people think of their job simply as a means to an end. In other words, it’s just something they have to do in order to pay the bills, put food on the table, and provide for their family. But let’s look at a job from another angle.

I propose that your job can and should be viewed as an investment. I can hear it now, “How in the world is my boring 8 to 5 job an investment?” Before getting into those details let’s look at what exactly an investment is. The basic definition of “investment” is placing money or capital in something that gives a return or appreciates in value. For example, when you invest in a stock you’re putting money into a share of a company in hopes of receiving dividends or that the share price will increase. You invest money in a savings account to earn interest. You invest money in your education to increase your future earning potential.

Your job should be viewed in a similar light. My job is an income stream. Let’s say I graduate college and get a job with a starting salary of $40,000 and get an average annual raise of 2.5%. Over 40 years of work, this comes to nearly $2.7 million. This is no small amount. I know that if I put in a certain level of work, I will receive a certain return. Now, where it gets interesting is that to a certain extent I can influence that return by changing how much I invest in my job. I can do the bare minimum required for the position and my income stream will most likely stay at the same level it is now, with small annual raises that are basically offset by inflation. But if I increase my investment by taking on additional duties, taking the time to streamline a process, spending less time at the water cooler, etc. I stand a better chance at a higher income stream when my annual review rolls around. I can increase my investment by seeking additional training and education to expand my set of skills, which can also lead to a higher income. When you think about it, if I can put a little more effort into my job and earn on average a 3.5% raise, that $2.7 million in lifetime earnings jumps to $3.4 million. That’s an increase of $700K. Like so many other things in life, you only get out of something what you put into it.

We’ve all seen people at work or in school who are like this. They go that extra mile and put in the extra effort to make sure they’re putting out a quality product, be it a report, a piece of assembled equipment, or providing great customer service. Sometimes their co-workers poke fun and call them “over-achievers.” Those that say that also tend to be the same people complaining when the “over-achiever” is awarded the promotion or gets the bigger raise.

So keep in mind that your job is an investment. You can increase your return by putting a little more into it.

Editor’s Note: Thanks for this guest post Justin. Readers do you view your job in a similar light and put everything into it? Or do you find yourself just putting in the time with little motivation to get ahead?

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