Don’t Depend on Your Job

I see a lot of people who become overly dependent upon their job. This isn’t surprising and it’s very easy to do–particularly with highly motivated performance oriented individuals. However, if your entire identity, self-worth and financial resources are tied up in your job, you are setting yourself up for catastrophe.

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I’m not saying you shouldn’t be proud of your work or enjoy your job, but I am saying that you shouldn’t let yourself get blinded to all these economic realities. No matter how good you think you are, you can be replaced. This is true now more than ever. In fact, if you are an extremely high performer and are being paid commensurate with your capabilities, your salary may be viewed as a large expense and make you an even more likely candidate for downsizing.

Although it didn’t hurt them financially, Steve Jobs was once fired from Apple — a company he founded. If you ever start feeling like your position is secure, think about Steve.

Here are some suggestions for keeping your identity separate from your work:

  1. Diversify your friends. Make sure you have close friends outside of work. You don’t want your entire social life to crumble if you get fired from your job. Also, having friends at other companies increases your chances of finding another job through an acquaintance.
  2. Volunteer. Volunteering your services for good causes can help you develop relationships outside of work. It also gives other people a chance to experience working with you. These interactions can be very beneficial in a job search.
  3. Social groups. Getting involved in community groups, church groups and even the local bowling league are great ways to expand your world beyond what you experience 9 to 5.
  4. Keep in contact. Make sure you take the time to invest in relationships with people you’ve known from the past. Former coworkers and fellow students are good examples. Make a purposeful effort to keep your interactions from only converging on a small set of people centered around your job.

Here are some suggestions for keeping a bit of financial independence from your job:

  1. Have 6 to 12 months of savings. If you get laid off, you want to know it won’t financially devastate you while you look for another job.
  2. Max out your health accounts. If you have any type of tax deferred health savings accounts offered at your employer, try to max those out.  That gives you some flexibility for healthcare if your work dries up.
  3. Stay in demand. Volunteer for assignments that will give you experience with new technology or business methods. You don’t want to become stagnant where your skills are only relevant to your current employer. Keep up with what’s going on in your area of work even if it’s not happening at your company.
  4. Live below your means. Don’t stretch yourself to your financial limit. Buy a house less expensive than what you can afford. If you need a new car, make sure you consider low mileage used options.
  5. Educate yourself. Take full advantage of any educational programs for your company offers. Get a copy of the employee handbook and find out what type of educational reimbursement is available. Many companies have some type of educational reimbursement policy that isn’t common knowledge because so few people take advantage of it. Staying educated is a great way to make sure you have skills that are marketable. If your company pays for it, so much the better.

We are always going to be dependent on our employment to a certain extent, but a conscious effort today can help minimize the fallout from an unexpected job loss in the future.

Comments

  1. Marc B says

    I don’t quite see the logic in maxing out health savings accounts. Why would one want to max out your HSA and tie up all that money unless your absolutely know you will need medical care. I would rather have the cash if I lose my job, health care or money sitting in a HSA will not pay the bills.

  2. says

    @Marc B – Good point. If you wait to the last minute to try to max it out, then it isn’t going to help you much. However, if you can put money in ahead of time, it gives you a way to build up emergency funds tax free for health care related things.

  3. says

    A job isn’t a secure place . You must use all the resources on this planet an find yourself a niche. Something your good at the people would love to buy from you or learn from you. You can do anything…but do something.
    Success is a mind state. If you have a secure job that your holding on too then you need to change your thoughts.

    Start talking to people. Socialize. Don’t be shy. You never know who you will meet!

  4. says

    I would paid a lot of attantion to the point 5
    You must educate yourself because of not being depend on your place of work.
    A agree that than better you’re specialist than more you’ve paid out, but you are fired you can’t go the dther direction. So that’s sad!

  5. says

    On the HSA, you may have wanted to explain WHY it’s good to maximize one in case of job loss. Basically, you can go with a high deductible HSA compatible Health Plan as a replacement for your current employer provided benefits….which has lower premiums since your HSA pays your medical expenses until the point where the insurance kicks in.

    There are a couple of things to consider though:
    1. Under the new law that passed, anyone who was laid off this year is entitled to continue their coverage for 6 months (?) and pay only 35% of the TOTAL premium…the previous employer still totes the other portion
    2. Make sure that you don’t have an FSA (Flexible Spending Account) at your job instead of an HSA. If you do, unused money will be LOST at the end of the year! Many people confuse the 2, but there are some important differences.

    Those things considered, it is smart to maximize your HSA, it lowers tax liability and will save $ if you have to switch to an individual health plan.

  6. says

    @Robert – Good point. I didn’t realize employers had to cover 65% of laid off worker’s premiums.

    I believe HSA’s can be withdrawn like an IRA when you reach retirement age if you haven’t used the funds yet.

  7. says

    @Mark

    Yes, HSA’s can be withdrawn without penalty after a certain age. However, the FSA, which is what many people have at work, cannot. An FSA’s funds are forfeited at the end of each year. It’s just important for each person to find out what they have and make sure they are not contributing to an account they will lose.

    Other than that, if they have a regular HSA, it is a fantastic idea to maximize it. It gives you great tax incentives and can dramatically lower your monthly premiums for individual health insurance plans.

    Great Blog by the way, I have been enjoying it for quite some time!

  8. says

    It’s important to live proactively vs. reactive. Proactive people are those who are always working on the next steps.

    And being confident enough to be social is key. Not what you know many times but rather who you know.

  9. says

    Yes all is clear that money not the most important in a life, but without them not to live…
    Also I wish to add ??? one way is to drink beer with the best friends and to embrace the beloved.

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