When Politics Gets Personal: Diversifying Your Income
Back in the day when The Bulletin was still being published and read largely by middle aged businessmen and my twenty something year old sister, I thought politics was Boring. I mean seriously, who could care less about, well a bunch of middle aged men in Canberra (Canberra!) arguing about…stuff. It sure didn’t affect me! Or so I thought.
Fast forward almost a decade and I now understand that politics does affect each and every one of us, which is why it pays to care. I know this, but still nothing prepared me for what happened recently when politics got seriously personal.
So called government ‘policy directions’ can have a serious impact on which sectors of the economy are prioritised and which aren’t. And I happen to work in a sector that is a thorn in the side of conservative governments, while my husband works for one of those dreaded government owned corporations that ought to be sold for the sake of the free market! So our entire source of household income amounted to 2 jobs that suddenly looked very shaky thanks to a snap election where the incumbent couldn’t lose. Financially, we thought we were stuffed and that our retirement in Tasmania would come sooner than expected.
To everyone’s shock, the government lost the election and in new hands our jobs were safe, at least for a 3 year term. While at the time I vowed that I never wanted to be in so vulnerable a financial position again, I didn’t really have any idea of what I could do other than saving for a rainy day. So we felt we’d dodged a bullet, then a bit of time passed and that action plan for being a little bit less dependent on *a job* dropped way down the ‘to do list’ ahead of ‘make dentist appointment’ but after ‘clean out back of fridge’. In short, complacency set in.
Luckily the universe was on the case and the dentist called me last month to make an appointment. Oh and the universe also answered the ‘how’ part of my desire to not be reliant on just your income.
The first nudge came in the form of an article about the common money mistakes people make in their 30’s. It was the usual clickbait and I was pretty smug until the bold headline pointed out that I had actually failed and made one of the 6 common mistakes. I had failed to diversify my income.
Some weeks later, James Altucher gave me 10 Reasons You Have to Quit Your Job. Reason number 5 specifically asked how many people can make a major decision that can ruin your life? For my household, the answer was 2. James recommends 20. Probably each. And not long after, I also learnt from him that that the average multi-millionaire has at least seven different sources of income. Now I wonder, do the income streams make the millionaire or does the millionaire make the income streams?
The Conventional Wisdom
This was all big news for me as I was taught that the middle class studies, gets a skill and then trades their time for money for 30 or so years. Jobs and bosses are how you make it and that’s the way life goes. In fact, I don’t personally know of anyone successfully making a non-traditional income and those friends of friends and distant relatives who try are whispered about in dark corners and labelled as crackpots and lazy. Of course this might say a lot about my social circle! I’d swallowed hook, line and sinker the premise that a career was my only option for financial security.
Strangely enough, when I studied architecture, the popular joke was “what is the most common question asked by an architect? Would you like fries with that?” I didn’t really get the joke at the time, because surely after studying for 6 years and getting some work experience I would grow my career and hence my financial security. And naturally as I climbed the career ladder I would only increase my stability through hard work. Thanks to conventional wisdom, it never occurred to me that there were no such guarantees. And time has only further shown that there simply aren’t, which is why I need to look beyond the career so that no one person can ruin my life. This blog is one part of that plan. Now I have to take the hint from the universe and come up with the rest.