All things considered, I was pretty fortunate as a young adult. I had a signed job offer in the fall semester of my last year of university. I made a very livable sum of money right out of school. The only time I ever had to scrape to get by was out of my own doing. I didn’t spend 6 months trying to get a job, or fighting a couple dozen other applicants trying to get my foot in the door. Such is the fortune of finishing university a few months before the crash in 2008. I started my career at the peak of a boom.
Some days I wish I hadn’t.
I wish I started out making less money when I was younger. I wish I had to try harder for it. The experiences you have as a young adult shape your expectations as you get older. Since I started out making more money, my bar is already set higher that it would have been otherwise.
I’ve seen so many people fall into this trap. I’ve seen guys come out of the oil fields absolutely ruined. They go to work at 18 making six figures in a low skill labour job, and get used to that level of pay. They overvalue their work. When they decide they want to move back to the city or into another area of the country, they figure they should continue making the same amount of money as before. No one will pay them that rate. They have the choice of learning how to make do on less pay, which many of them can’t due to the debt they’ve taken on, or go back to where they were working before. Many of them end up trapped in their jobs for much of their lives, because they either don’t know how to make do on less, or can’t bring themselves to.
When you start out making less, you learn how to live on less. You learn how to be more resourceful. I feel like by having money, I’ve undermined my own resourcefulness. I’m afraid that money made me lazy. I’ve taken steps to become more resourceful, which is a step in the right direction, but I wonder if I’d be further ahead if I had started out making less.
I guess I’ll never know.
Recommended Reading: The Road to Debt Free: Not for the Faint of Heart