NP Career and Money: High Income Doesn’t Mean You’re Rich

This is post three of six in a series of six pieces about career and money from the point of view of a low-level nonprofit worker.  For some reason I hear little about it in nonprofit land.  The bottom line: if you don’t read The Simple Dollar, start now.

Financial Reality: High Income Doesn’t Mean You’re Rich

During this discussion of the relatively low salaries in nonprofit land, I’d just like to point out a truth that’s all over the big blogs in personal finance: it’s not about your income; it’s about your income exceeding your expenditures. You can have a hefty income and still be the opposite of rich.

Yes, it comes down to simple money management.  The money you earn but don’t spend is your wealth.

Simple is not always easy.  Controlling your income and your spending can be very difficult.  On these fronts, I’ve been very lucky.

  • I’ve had very little trouble finding jobs, so I’ve always had relative control over my income.
  • I currently have very few demands in my expenditures.  My health has been good, I have no dependent family members, I live in a city with reasonable rents, and thanks to my parents I have a reliable used car and no undergrad student loans.

I guess I could take my luck lightly, assume it will always be this way, and not think about it anymore.  You can bet I’d have a bright shiny computer and an apartment with more closet space!  But what can I say, I’m a paranoid New Yorker.  I believe that challenges will come my way, and I want to be ready for them.

You might argue that the logical conclusion for such a security fanatic is for her to pursue a higher-paying career path.  The thing is, money isn’t the only resource stability requires. I don’t believe that a wildly higher income would necessarily help me meet a sudden emergency if my increased earnings came at the expense of a job satisfaction, time with loved ones, or my day-to-day happiness.  I think all of these resources, monetary and other, need to be balanced.

So what do I do to try to keep this balance?  I remember my goals, and I try to be a steward of what money I have.  More on what that looks like on Wednesday.

One thought on “NP Career and Money: High Income Doesn’t Mean You’re Rich

  1. It’s about defining “enough” as opposed to comparing what you have w/what others have. If you haven’t read Your Money or Your Life yet, READ IT. The investment advice is a little outdated at the end, but the principles about establishing a sane relationship with money are vital.

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