Man, I’d sell my soul for a little bit of that financial security! Okay, I’m being hyperbolic – I wouldn’t literally sell my soul for financial security. Probably. But I, like most people, would sell everything else that makes me – well me. Hell, that’s what I do every day. I sell my time, my energy, the best years of my life -just for the chance of achieving financial security. And you do too, don’t you?
What is Financial Security?
Financial Security is having enough money to fund your life and to feel safe and secure in knowing that you won’t become destitute. In my opinion, it’s more about the safety net than the money. People making less than 40K per year can feel financially secure while people making over 100k per year can feel like they are teetering on the brink of disaster.
Having financial security is feeling good about your financial situation. Its knowing that you are going to be ok, that you will have a home to live in and food to eat.
Why is Financial Security Important?
Why do we slave our lives away for this? Well, because it’s important. Incredibly important really. Financial security gives us breathing room. It makes us feel comfortable in our lives. It’s a basic component of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs of needs for a reason.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
What a great segue into a fun psychological concept! Maslow’s hierarchy is a graphic that illustrates things humans need in pyramid form. The main premise is that you have to meet the needs of one layer before you can focus on the needs of the next layer.
The bottom of the pyramid has our basic needs – food, shelter, etc. We literally need those things on a daily basis to survive. This is part of where the scarcity mindset comes from – how can anyone think about family, career, or home ownership when they can’t even feed themselves?
Level two of the pyramid is safety and security. After your basic needs are met, you want to ensure that they will continue to be met, right? And that’s where financial security comes into play. The third, fourth and fifth levels – family, relationships, status, accomplishment, self- actualization – none of those things are possible to consider if you don’t have security. It’s one level up from a basic need.
How to Achieve Financial Security
Did you see the title? Clearly the only way to achieve financial security is by selling your soul. I jest – but it can feel that way sometimes. We have to give the best years of our life to a company that doesn’t really care about us in order to barely make it to that second level of human needs. But we gotta do what we gotta do, right?
Achieving financial security used to be simple. Get a job, work until retirement, collect your pension and social security – done. The world doesn’t work that way anymore. Less than a quarter of workers even have access to a pension, and the time when you and a company would take care of each other is long gone. Now, it’s all about maximizing profits. If a company can increase its margins by even a hair by eliminating your position, they will do so in a heartbeat. So how do we achieve financial security in a world where jobs aren’t secure?
Achieving Financial Security in a World Where Jobs aren’t Secure
In order to achieve financial security, you have to look out for yourself. A company will never have your best interests at heart. So you have to play their game, but with your own personal goals in mind. There are multiple things you can do to get there; it’s not a one size fits all approach.
Improve Your Skills
The old advice of doing the best you can at work to make yourself indispensable is still true to a point – you do want to do a good job in whatever position you are in. But you shouldn’t take that so far as to let yourself get taken advantage of. No one is indispensable, but if a company thinks they can abuse you until they dispose of you, they will.
Instead, focus on improving your skills, so that if the company does become toxic, or if downsizing is in the future, you will be able to transition to a new position fairly easily. You can do this by volunteering for projects in other departments, taking courses, and even freelancing.
Always Look for Opportunities
Another way to ensure your own financial security is by always being on the lookout for opportunities. If a company isn’t going to be loyal to you, why should you bother being loyal to them? Now, I’m not saying to engage in selling trade secrets or any other shady behavior, but you should definitely keep your resume and linked in profiles up to date and network whenever you have the opportunity. You never know when you will need these things.
Spend Less than you Earn
Even if you are indispensable and have the most amazing skills of anyone ever, there may come a time where you find yourself unemployed for a period. The best way to maintain financial security during that time is to prepare for it beforehand. And that means spending less money than you earn while you are making money.
When you spend less than you earn, you will be able to put money aside for investments, emergencies, and debt repayment. It’s important to get that emergency fund fully funded, so that you can maintain your financial security even if you do lose your job.
Have Multiple Income Streams
The old way of relying on one job to support you throughout your life is clearly over. You can mitigate this by having multiple sources of income. There are so many things that you can do to pick up some money on the side and ensure your own financial security: invest, house hack, pick up a side hustle, start a business…the list goes on and on.
The gig economy isn’t ideal for long term stability, but having something as a back-up will definitely help you maintain your financial security regardless of what happens in your labor market.
This is something that’s not usually discussed on financial websites – but the best thing that you can do to ensure your financial security and the financial security of your community is to vote. Vote for candidates that will implement policies that help real people rather than corporations. Vote for policies that will improve your overall financial well-being. People say finance isn’t political, but in reality, it’s all about money. Politics dictate which programs get funding and which don’t. So make sure you vote for the programs that matter to you.
Is it All Worth it?
This is the question I struggle with every day. Is it worth it to sell your soul, your life, your time, everything you are to a corporation to get this financial security that we all need? Well – yeah. We need to survive, don’t we? And this is the world we live in right now.
What are the Other Options?
That’s not to say there aren’t any other options. I think that this horrible system is why the financial independence movement has gained so much traction. People don’t want to have to sell their souls for financial security. They want to live their lives, so they’re doing what they have to for a short time to buy the security that they need. It’s selling your soul for a shorter period of time.
You could also try to opt out entirely and live off the grid, but even that requires the financial security of start-up money. However, my sister is working on just that, and she’s happier than she’s ever been. We don’t need to stay trapped in a system that isn’t working for us. There is an out for you that will still ensure your financial security – you just have to find it!
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.