The media loves misery. There’s definitely a lot of bad out there, but does the media really have to focus on suffering 24/7 to generate viewership? Perhaps disinterest with negativity is partially the reason why old media is dying. And perhaps because old media is dying, journalists can’t help but write depressing things. (life hack tip: don’t watch the news for a week and observe your stress level go down and your happiness go up.)
I’ve long believed that many people make much more than we know or think. Always watch what people DO with their money, and not what they say. If they are just making ends meet, why is there a nice car in their driveway? Debt and poor choices can’t explain everything. Or can they?
We sometimes like to think other people are struggling to make ourselves feel better. But “other people” are ourselves. It’s much better to focus on bettering ourselves don’t you think? Some people had to start over in their 60s due to the financial crisis. While other people made a fortune scooping up deals for cents on the dollar. Try to always look at the positive side of things no matter what, because if you don’t believe in yourself, nobody else will.
Here’s a whole list of six figure jobs in multiple industries in case you’re curious and need proof that you don’t need to graduate at the top of your class to make a large income. This post is about discovering one more.
STATISTICS PLUS ANECDOTES = REALITY
Whenever I highlight an average income or an average net worth, those who are below average tend to advocate the use of median figures and vice versa. It’s curious no matter what the statistics say, there’s somebody out there somewhere who doesn’t believe the figures.
Given the skepticism, I like to look at real life anecdotes and report back my findings. For example, I’ve come to realize there’s a lot of parental help for adult children in San Francisco to afford property, graduate school tuition, and new cars. Perhaps not everything will be OK as I hypothesized, but the idea of demonstrating a tremendous work ethic, aggressive savings, and risk taking is no longer the only option to gain wealth. Our parents are another great option so treat them well!
I’d like to share with you my latest income anecdote as another example of people making way more than we think. Most people don’t view being an electrician as a very lucrative job. I’m not sure anybody sees blue collar labor in general as being very lucrative. But after spending an afternoon listening to my electrician’s story, I think all of you will be surprised at how much a union electrician in SF makes!
MAKING A SMALL FORTUNE AS A UNION ELECTRICIAN
I’ve known Leroy for a couple years now. The first time I met Leroy was on the public tennis courts on Turk St. and Laguna St., a block away from the projects in San Francisco. Jabir, the poorest richest person I know made the introduction.
Leroy is a 44 year old black man weighing in at roughly 215 pounds and stands 6 feet tall. He has a decent tennis game, but because he wasn’t in fighting shape he tired easily after the first set. Given I’m a grinder who can last for three hours, Leroy couldn’t keep up and eventually lost our friendly match 3-6, 2-6. Leroy was a nice guy, so when I had to change my outside electrical panel, I gave him a call to do the work.
Given Leroy lived in Bayview, an “up and coming” neighborhood in SF where housing prices are 50% below the median SF housing price, partly thanks to crime, I never imagined Leroy as someone who made a lot of money. I figured I would pay him an hourly rate of $30 or less to get the project done. Instead, he came back to me with a bid of $50 an hour, which is supposedly $25 an hour cheaper than the going rate. Fine.
Leroy came to my house early one afternoon because he said his union negotiated a new deal with the city. His hours are now 7:30am to 2:30pm, M-F for only 35 hours a week and no more. I told him that was a great schedule, and he told me the union negotiated a new pay increase as well. Always curious, I asked him how much he made a year.
“Sam, I’m making $150,000 a year working 35 hours a week. It can’t get much better than that,” said Leroy. I agreed and asked him about other work he does given he has so much free time.
“Well, I’m here working for you now, and I’ve got a lot of other side jobs too. Overall, I make around $200,000 a year,” Leroy responded.
$200,000 is my ideal income for maximum happiness and Leroy admitted he was “living the dream.” Leroy also mentioned something else important.
“My biggest regret is going to college. Some of my colleagues are making much more since they went straight to trade school after high school and have so much more saved up. I’ll get roughly $5,000 a month in pension money once I hit 55, but when they hit 55, they’ll get $6,000 a month or more.”
I was floored! Here’s a guy who I thought was in the lower income group absolutely crushing it. The $5,000 a month pension for life is something only a few of us could ever dream of, but not Leroy. 11 more years and he’s there. The value of a $60,000 a year pension is $1.5 million if you use a interest rate of 4%, or $2 million if you use an interest rate of 3%.
Working for the government at all levels for an extended period of time is definitely a great way to get wealthy. Why do you think some of the richest neighborhoods in the country are around Washington DC? Take a drive around Great Falls, VA one day and be amazed.
MANY WAYS TO MAKE A LOT OF MONEY
We’ve been brainwashed into thinking that going to a four-year college is the only way to make enough money to live a happy life. Clearly something is wrong if you graduate from college with $50,000 in debt and have to live at home with your parents because you can’t find a high paying enough job to support yourself. Student loan debt has now surpassed credit card debt.
There are plenty of stories of successful entrepreneurs who never graduated from college, but make millions. There are also a ton of people with normal jobs like Leroy who will end up with a small fortune as well. It’s not easy being an electrician due to the physical labor involved, but if you can join a union and put in your dues, lots of money awaits.
Start Your Own Website, Be Your Own Boss: There’s nothing better than starting your own website to own your brand online and earn extra income on the side. Why should LinkedIn, FB, and Twitter pop up when someone Google’s your name? With your own website you can connect with potentially millions of people online, sell a product, sell some else’s product, make passive income and find a lot of new consulting and FT work opportunities.
Financial Samurai started as a personal journal to make sense of the financial crisis in 2009. By early 2012, it started making a livable income stream so I decided to negotiate a severance package. Years later, FS now makes more than I did as an Executive Director at a major bulge bracket firm with 90% less work and 100% more fun. Start your own WordPress website with Bluehost today. You never know where the journey will take you!
Updated for 2016