Money and career myths. A Yelp employee wrote a letter to her employer, and CEO, Jeremy Stoppelman a few years ago about her plight of living on her wages in San Francisco, and barely being able to afford anything. The letter went viral, and Yelp fired her, but the CEO said it wasn’t because of the letter.
I’ve been there. Broke, seemingly hopeless, and even regretting some of the choices I’ve made.
Exhibit A: Elle Kaplan, 22, living in NYC with $200 and an English degree.
Since I have some degree of success now I would like to share with that employee some of the lessons I’ve learned about money and career, that I wish I knew when I was her age.
Dear everyone else,
Please put your pitchforks away, and don’t hit comments just yet.
Here are some of the myths many people, no matter their age or stage in life, need to stop believing about their success — financial or otherwise.
“I’m not successful because…”
I’ve had these feelings leak into my brain like water from a broken faucet, and you probably have too. You’re facing thousands of rejections, and the number in your bank account is the exact opposite.
At the same time, everyone else is by some definition successful — whether it involves an established career, a large house… you name it.
Stop. Right there.
Everyone has his or her own path to walk in this life, and what brings true meaning and deep fulfillment differs for all of us.
In addition, there will always be someone who already crossed a finish line, no matter how quickly you run. Even after you make that first million, you can still look up to people who are even richer and say you’re an utter failure.
But in the end, you’ll both be victorious. So, let go of your need to fit into the status quo, and focus on every day‘s victories. That is true success.
“Tracking every penny will eventually make me rich”
Cutting back on expenses will give you some breathing room. It will slightly lift the hundred-pound lead weight pressing against your chest.
So many people frame their resolutions in the negative. What you can’t do, what you can’t have. What if you re-framed these in a positive light? How much more possibility could you bring into your life?
Thinking about what you can do is not only a lot less depressing; it’s more powerful and more likely to actually help you create long-term change.
For example: “I need to spend less” becomes “I will pay my future self from every paycheck.”.
“I will budget every dollar” turns into “I will set up a simple, smart money plan so I am free to focus on things other than money.”
My advice is: Ditch your budget. Start building this abundance mindset with the 20–30–50 plan. Budgets aren’t just incredibly boring, but they also cultivate a scarcity mindset — which isn’t the path to anything except scrounging the couch for change.
The 20 is 20 percent of your monthly take home-pay (your paycheck after taxes). Allot this towards paying your future self. Invest it in improving yourself financially — in this case, use it to pay off your debt.
30 percent of your budget can go towards (reasonably) splurging. Then, spend 50 percent on essentials. This is non-negotiable because it’s what keeps the lights on.
That brings me to my next myth about investing: “Investing is too risky”
It’s true that investing involves risk. Do you know what else involves risk? Leaving the house. In fact, you have a 1 in 84 chance of getting in a lethal car accident during your lifetime. Even more interesting -if you live near somewhere tropical — is the fact that 150 people become fatal victims of falling coconuts every year.
I digress. The point is that when you want to do anything it involves risk. If you lift the veil off investing, however, you can see that real risk is not investing.
So, here’s another myth: ‘I should keep my money in a savings account”
Anyone who has ever said your savings account is the best way to save money was wrong. It’s ironic that they’re called savings accounts because your money shrinks year after year. The average inflation rate in the US is about 3 percent per year, while the average interest of a savings account is at a measly .06%. What this means for you: your money is shrinking about 2 percent every year.
Study after study makes the case for investing in the stock market: Yale University economist Robert Shiller has reported that the market earned an annual average return after inflation of 6.8 percent since 1871 — even with recessions. So start investing now, even if it’s a penny. In case you’re saying:
“It’s too late to start”
If you remember anything at all five minutes after reading this piece, I want it to be this: it’s never too late to start.
Most likely part of your story has already been written. But that doesn’t mean you can’t pick up the pen (or tablet) and write the rest.
If you think you need to be young, rich, or on a path of victory to start being successful, think again.
Look no further than Ray Crock, who at the ripe age of 52, was selling paper cups and milkshake mixers for a living — that is until he went on to found McDonald’s. If you think this is just an outlier, take a look at studies by The Kauffman Foundation, which has found that most entrepreneurs are 40 years of age on average, and more than 60 percent of them are married and have a child.
Even if you’re not making the next Yelp (sorry to bring it up), it’s not too late to become successful in your career or to make your first million, no matter where you start.
So maybe right now there are things in your life that you feel you can’t control. Maybe you feel overwhelmed. Maybe you feel like you are not earning enough.
Despite all that, only you have the power to change the course of your own life. You have the reigns, so take them. Steer your car in a different direction. Stop buying that cup of Starbucks latte on the way to the office every morning, and start putting that $2.95 you spend every day into an investment account that will work to make money for you.
Because $2.95 might not seem like a lot, multiply that by 30 days and you’ve got $90 you can start putting away.
The point is, every little bit counts and only you can control your own destiny.
Realize that no matter what the circumstances are; your age, the amount of money you have, or even if you’re just getting started, there will always be an excuse — but it’s never too late (or too early) to make a positive change.