Do you own your job, or does your job own you?

After I finished school I studied for a year, then moved to Germany for a year and when I moved home I got a job….and have been in the same industry ever since. I was under the belief that if I did these things then I pretty much wouldn’t have to worry about money and could plod along quite happily for the rest of my life. All I really needed to do was get a job. But it’s not quite like that, right?

It never, ever dawned on me that we are not taught in school how money works, or how to use it correctly. In actual fact I think that the most I ever learned in school about money was in grade 2 when you have to try and figure out how many ways R2.00 can be broken down into 20c and 10c pieces.

The most financial education we receive when we are young are the beliefs and values of our parents.

There are millions of people in this world who have done just what I did; finished school got a tertiary education and then got a job. So surely all of these people are successful, have money and are happy. So why is it then that you will always hear people in the workplace complaining about money, how little their paycheck is, how unfair it is that tax is so high and why does the cost of bread and milk just keeping on rising? If you don’t believe me, the next time that you are at the water cooler just make a statement like ‘petrol is going to increase soon’ or ‘how ironic is it that I need to find another income source to supplement my full time income’ and see what comments people throw at you – and trust me, people like to express their opinions so you will hear more than just a few things.

So you have a job…

But, let’s change your thought pattern for a minute. What if I was to say that most people struggle financially because they work for money and a monthly salary?

Say again? Surely if you have a job you are quite safe? Well no, not really. If you have one income stream (your job) and you lose that job, what do you do then?

In your job you put in the hours needed and you work hard, then you work harder for that increase, put in more hours for the promotion and then what this does is drag you unwillingly into the ‘rat race’. Eventually you will run out of steam and run out of time in your day and you will end up getting burned out. But there are many millions of people who continuously do this and they are not rich, and most of these people are also in debt.

Robert Kiwosaki says that the old school way of getting rich or having wealth was to work hard, get out of debt, spend less than you earn and invest long term in stocks, bonds and mutual funds. But times have changed and with these changing times, the rules of money have changed as well. I personally don’t think that is poor advice to use as a guideline if you have nothing else to go by, but it won’t get you rich. It won’t get you out of debt. And it won’t teach you anything about money.

Uncontrollable events

What about elements completely out of your control? For example, South Africa was downgraded to junk status in April 2017. As citizens we most likely won’t be affected in the short term, but in the long term we will. There could be higher interest rates making it more difficult to pay for vehicles and home loans. This also means that there could be lower access to credit, and with an interest rate increase it is going to cost you more to borrow money. If the Rand continues to decrease it will cause a rise in the price of imported goods and so the cost of living will increase too.

And if that isn’t bad enough, economists predict that if the Rand continues to weaken as it currently is and drops to R16.00 or R17.00 to the Dollar, inflation will rise. But guess what? When this happens, chances are that you are not going to get an increase from your employer to match the rising interest rates. No matter how hard you work, how loyal you are or how nice you are to be around, the company is going to be watching their bottom line very carefully and making cut-backs where necessary to save their business.

Start your own business

Many people also think that one of the ways to make more money is to start their own business and then all of their financial worries will be over. But what they don’t realise is that most self-employed people do not ‘own’ a business. They think that they do and can say things like “This is my business that I built from scratch” BUT what they fail to see is that if they stop working, their income will most likely stop, or take a drop. They do not own their freedom or their security. What they actually own is a job. The acronym J.O.B stands for Just Over Broke.

What??

Credit

Then it gets better….

Once we have a job and have a constant salary we are told that we can now qualify for credit and get those wonderful plastic things called credit cards. So when we are short of money or want to buy something nice, we use a credit card and get into debt, usually with a high interest rate.  Then when the creditors are hounding you for payment, you take out an extra bond on your house to cover these payments. But then you still have the credit cards that you are spending on. Then you take our more credit cards to pay for these first credit cards AND you have a second bond on your house. Now you can’t take a holiday to run away from this mess unless you take another loan somewhere. There is no way that you can leave your job as you need this little bit of income to try and cover these payments and you are now ‘borrowing from Peter to pay Paul’ and trying to keep your credit rating clear. You are well and truly trapped. Instead of trying to solve the financial problems, most people try and run away from them. Of course this does not help and your problems only get worse and people literally do not know where to go or who to go to for help and have to declare insolvency or bankruptcy.

So when you really think about it – the place that you go to every day for most of your waking day, that one that dictates the hours you will work, how long your breaks will be, who you will spend your time with, and how much money you are going to get paid…is it really worth it?

So I ask you again, where you are right now in your working life? Do you own your job or does your job own you?