Fresh out of school, we often face the choice between taking a better-paying job with no long range potentional or a low-paying one with advancement potential. For twenty-somethings, the former, the dead-end job, can become a golden handcuff that costs you hugely in the long run.
I made just this mistake in the early 70's. Graduating during a recession, I took a job in a steel mill to tide me over, and was immediately out-earning my friends (a union job- can you hear the drumbeats of outsourcing in the distance?). I ended up staying there for 13 years, earning a very good income in an industry that was headed into the toilet. I spent several painful years afterwards clawing my way back into fields with more opportunity, and I'll never recover the lost years of retirement savings that disappeared into the company's pension funds.
Don't miss the rest of our series on 15 Ways to Ruin Your Financial Future!
The damage comes from two very human attributes. First, we quickly become accustomed to our income and base our day-to-day lives on it. The idea of retrenching, taking a job that pays less, means changing our lifestyle, a very unappealing proposition.