All of our other lessons up to this point have focused on saving money and paying off debt. But this week’s lesson was about making money. It makes sense. You need to make good money to pay off debt, build wealth, and plan for a secure financial future. That doesn’t have to mean hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, but you do need to make a wage that allows you to pay your bills and put some extra away.
While you could chase the “hot” careers and the “good” money, Dave advocates a different approach: Find work you love and that suits your personality. You may not make a fortune, but people who are happy with their work tend to make more money over time because they are committed to the job and are willing to work harder at it than someone who doesn’t care. Plus, you don’t want to spend forty years of your life completely miserable. Dave’s career coach of choice, Dan Miller, says that money alone will never be enough compensation for doing a job. You have to be happy, too. Those who work in their strengths and according to their tendencies, values, likes and dislikes have a better chance of finding fulfillment in their work and succeeding than those who fight their own personality everyday at work.
To that end, Dave recommends finding work that suits your personality style using the DISC profile. DISC stands for four different personality types:
D = Dominant: This person is bold and aggressive. They like to be the leader and in charge. They are task oriented and approach situations as problems that need to be solved.
I = Influencer: Dave calls these people the party looking for a place to happen. They are fun, people oriented, people-pleasers. They’re outgoing, impulsive, entertaining, and can lose focus.
S = Stable: These people are steady, loyal, calm, slow to act, concerned about pace, and tend to avoid conflict.
C = Complaint: These people love procedure and clearly defined steps. They are analytical, detail oriented, factual, rigid, serious, resistant to change, and logical.
Once you identify the type of personality you are, you need to seek out work that allows your personality type to shine through. You don’t want to be an Influencer stuck in an accounting job better suited for a Compliant person, for example. Similarly, you want to try to find an organization with people who are like you. While some differences are to be expected, if you are the only Stable person in a company full of Dominant people, you’re likely to get eaten for lunch. There are other types of personality assessments out there, so if you don’t feel like the DISC works for you, look into some others. The point is to know who you are and what you like in order to find out what you should be doing with your life.
After the DISC discussion, Dave spends some time talking about the basics of resumes, job hunting, and interviewing. He didn’t offer anything that hasn’t been written in hundreds of career guides over the years. Get yourself a copy of “What Color Is Your Parachute,” by Richard Nelson Bolles and you’ll have the same information and a lot more.
The lesson ended with a look at overtime and extra work. Dave points out that raising your income over the long term requires a good career track. Find meaningful work, get and keep good jobs, educate yourself, and build a long term career. However, if you just need to raise your income in the short term (to pay off debt), you’ll probably need a part time job or to work a lot of overtime hours at your current job. It’s probably not going to be much fun, either, but you have to make the sacrifice to win. It can help if you have a detailed plan so you can see that this cruddy job has an end date. Know how much you need to make and when it’s done, move on. You also have the option to start a home based business venture to make extra money. If you’re lucky, it might become your full time job. The point is to make enough money, pay off debt, and invest wisely so that you can quit the part time job and eventually get to a place where you don’t have to work so hard. Dave says that if you do his plan correctly, you should eventually reach a point where you only have to work when you want to.
In small group many people expressed dissatisfaction with their current occupations. Most don’t actively hate their jobs, but feel like there’s something better or more satisfying out there. Only two of the people in class have any real plan for dealing with that dissatisfaction, though. One is currently working retail (which he hates) while he pursues his Master’s in Library Science. Once he graduates, his dream job is to work in a university library. The other is currently working as a bank teller while she tries to launch a home-based cake decorating business. Both of these people are on their way to creating more meaningful work for themselves because they know what they want and are actively working to get it.
We talked about what type of work we would do if money were no object. A couple of people mentioned ideas like craft-type businesses or woodworking, and another mentioned gardening. These are the hobbies that they pursue and would love to do as a “real job,” but can’t figure out how to make them pay the bills. We talked about how part of the reason for becoming debt free is so that you can do the work you love, even if it pays less. When you have to pay a mountain of bills, you have to take a job that you might not love just to bring in money. But when your bills are few, you have a lot more freedom to do work you love and work on your own schedule. You don’t need as much money to live, so if the job doesn’t pay much you can still do it.
We also talked about trying to find work now that will prepare you for the dream job in the future. We brainstormed with the guy who wanted to do woodworking to try to find ways for him to start preparing for that now. He could do the woodworking as a side business for now. He could take a job at a place that makes furniture or cabinetry. He could go work at Home Depot in the lumber, contractor, or cabinetry departments. He could teach woodworking classes at the local community college. He could even go work in forestry to get a better sense of the types of wood available and the process of turning trees into workable wood products. Even a simple office job for another small business would expose him to the intricacies and legalities of running a small business. There are lots of ways he could be preparing to strike out on his own, and it’s the same for everyone else. Even if you can’t do your chosen job right now, you can find other types of work that prepare you for what you want to do. You just have to brainstorm and think about the skills you need to learn and how to get them.
Homework roundup: This week we had to do two things. First, we had to look at the DISC plan in the workbook to see if our current occupation fits our personality style. I think I’m a “C” type, or Compliant. I’m analytical, love detail, am logical and factual, and can seem rigid, serious and resistant to change; all hallmarks of the “C.” Not a flattering picture, but writing is well suited to my personality type. It’s the sort of job that requires a detail orientation and a love of facts. It also doesn’t offer a lot of drama or excitement, which is good for someone who doesn’t like change. I’m also not the most social person and writing is a pretty solitary activity. I’d say I’ve chosen my occupation well.
The second thing we had to do was to lay out a three year plan where we identify where we want to be professionally three years from now and then plan the steps needed to get there. Three years from now I’d like to be doing what I’m currently doing, although I’d like to be a novelist by then, too. The steps to get there are: 1) Finally finish the novel(s) that are rattling around in pieces on my hard drive, 2) Polish them to perfection, 3) Send them to agents and publishers and try to get them published. I could also take some courses in novel writing. My plan is pretty simple, but I’m lucky to be happy doing what I’m already doing. The novelist thing would be a nice add-on, but I really like where I am professionally. I could have really used this class about eight years ago, though. Then I would have had a much different plan because I hated where I was back then. A plan would have helped greatly at the time. As it was, I just sort of stumbled around until I hit on what I was meant to be doing. A plan would have helped and I can see the value in doing this exercise, particularly if you’re unhappy with your current occupation.
This is a series of posts about what you will find in Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course. You can find the previous posts here: week one — week two — week three — week four — week five — week six — week seven — week eight — week nine — week ten