Do you realize you’re making other people rich every single day of your life? If you’re like many of us, you toil endlessly long hours working in someone else’s store, on someone else’s construction site, or for someone else’s company. And while you take home a paycheck, you’re not the one receiving the greatest benefit from your labor. No, it’s often the business owner, CEO, or shareholders who profit the most from your efforts.
Of course, for those of us who work for non-profits, the government, or for ourselves this may not be the case, but for the rest of us, we often go to work to help make other people wealthy. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with this. That’s how capitalism works, but too often we’re so busy spending 40+ hours a week contributing to someone else’s wealth that we don’t think about our own.
So how exactly do we attend to our own wealth as we create riches for others?
Get the most from your job
If you spend five days a week making someone else’s business prosper, why not get everything you’re worth?
Start by making sure you’re receiving all the employee benefits you’re entitled to. By one estimate, employees are losing up to 30% of their total compensation when they fail to take advantage of their employer’s benefits.
Many companies, for instance, offer discount cell phone plans, health club discounts, legal and financial services, and mass transit reimbursements. Check with your human resources department for a complete list of your company’s benefits. And while you’re at it, find out about your job’s retirement benefits. Many employers offer 401K plans that allow you to invest in your own wealth, with the added benefit that many employers match a certain percentage of the money you place in the 401K.
Finally, consider the non-financial benefits that you can gain while working. Treat your job as an opportunity to gather crucial skills that will increase your pay or make you a more attractive candidate if you ever find yourself on the job market. In some cases your employer may actually pay for you to obtain any additional skills and training you need.
Question all your purchases
You’ve been eying that new Fendi handbag for weeks. The 70 inch 3D plasma HDTV has you salivating. But ask yourself, will the purchase make me wealthier, or is it only serving to increase the wealth of the designer, CEO, or shareholders of the company that makes the product?
I’m not one to discourage spending money on expensive items from time to time. Purchasing nice things is fun and it’s often a just reward for our hard labor. But before you spend, first consider contributing to your retirement fund, stashing cash in your emergency fund, and putting a dent in your credit card debt. Lay the groundwork for your own wealth before creating wealth for strangers by purchasing their expensive consumer goods.
Avoid credit cards like the plague
Speaking of credit card debt, there is no more outrageous way to make others wealthy at your own expense than by racking up credit card bills. The 10%, 15%, 18% interest you fork over simply pads the pockets of bank CEOs and shareholders while you get absolutely nothing in return.
When you receive your credit card statement, check to see how much money in interest you’ve thrown away. You might get mad when you see how much you’ve spent to make others wealthy. The next time you’re considering using your plastic, ask yourself, do I want to make someone else rich?
We go through life contributing to the wealth of others. In many cases, like working for someone else, this is quite alright, but we should refuse to make others rich without thinking about building our own wealth as well.
BMWK, how are you making other people rich? What do you plan to do in 2013 to start increasing your wealth as well?