When we asked DailyFinance readers for their best tips for putting your financial house in order, we weren't prepared for the deluge. From saving to spending to investing, they suggested dozens of great ways to lay the groundwork for a long, happy financial life. But to grow your money, you first need to make some money ... which means, of course, that you'll need a job.
Seems like a no-brainer of course ... but in this economy, there's nothing simple about finding employment. So even if it doesn't quite fit the traditional "boost your finances" motif, we're going to pass on some of those reader suggestions, too.
To begin with, many advised that the first step toward financial stability lies in giving up the dream of finding a job that you love in favor of finding a job you can depend on. "Meek6" suggested that real money -- and security -- lies in finding a job that may not be a lot of fun, but is a necessity: "Pick something that needs to be done, but that most people do not want do." After all, he notes, people "will pay to have someone else do" jobs that are less enjoyable, or less attractive.
He also notes that there's a lot more security in jobs that require some education. This isn't a fresh idea, but Meek6 puts a somewhat new spin on it: Rather than using higher education as the measure of a good job, he suggests considering licensure: "If [a job] requires a license, so much the better, it requires an entry hurdle that takes effort, time and some money to achieve." Since many people won't go through the trouble of studying, applying, and qualifying for a license, Meek suggests, people who do so will be competing against a much smaller pool of applicants.
Meek6's theories have been borne out by the job market: Careers in home health support, nursing, medical assistance, funeral planning, and security installation -- for example -- may not sound like a lot of fun, but they are predicted to be among the top growth sectors in the next 10 years. Not surprisingly, most of these jobs require some measure of education and licensing. His idea -- looking for a relatively unpleasant hole in the job market and seeking to fill it -- may be a solid strategy for long-term career stability.
Working for Yourself
The idea that the true path to wealth lies in owning your own business is nothing new, and several of DailyFinance's readers suggested that hanging out your own shingle is the best way to get full value for your work. However, the success rate for new businesses is extremely low: More than half shut their doors within five years and more than two-thirds do so within a decade.
So how does someone find a business that will survive? Part of the secret to success lies in going with what you know, rather than what you want. As many experts note, entrepreneurs often start businesses -- like restaurants -- in highly-competitive industries, and they often pick fields in which they have minimal or no experience. Doing that is, of course, a recipe for failure.
Another suggestion of DailyFinance readers involves changing your standards of workplace satisfaction. Rather than looking for happiness based on impressing friends or owning the business of your dreams, search for satisfaction in the work itself. "JetDevil 68" puts it this way: "My reward is answering only to my customers and myself."
And that reward needs to be sufficient, as there is a tremendous amount of work involved in owning a small business. As JetDevil 68 goes on to note, "I started my business sixteen years ago, and I've taken two weeks of vacation in those sixteen years. I'm on the road or in the shop for 10-12 hours a day, Saturdays included, and I spend most nights catching up on paperwork."
While these reader suggestions aren't especially groundbreaking, they do plot a course toward financial security. What's more, as "lkec9444" reminds us, the benefits of hard work are not entirely financial: "My job has given me rewards beyond belief."
Bruce Watson is a senior features writer for DailyFinance. You can reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter at @bruce1971.