Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Building wealth is hard work

I've had this realization recently. For young people (and I'm defining this broadly), working is highly underrated. We are conditioned to working a 40 hour week or less if at all possible. This however is very limiting. Many of us have a commute of 30 minutes or less to and from work and sleep roughly 8 hours per day. All in all, this adds up to 61 hours (including sleeping on weekends). However, each week has 168 hours in it. This means that there are close to 100 hours in the average week that are being wasted. Regardless of how much money or skill you have, one asset you definitely have is your time, and you can invest it!

For many people, these hours are spent doing some fun things and some chores. However, regardless of what you are doing, chances are you might be able to work more and build wealth by doing it. Young people, especially those in college, training programs, or school have copious amounts of this free time. Any activity that could be done with any portion of time that builds wealth could be useful.

While I was in college, I worked at several work-study jobs and freelance projects doing web design and computer repair. Even at minimum wage, it was possible to rack up significant money by investing my time. In addition, I found that I enjoyed these activities. So, I took small portions of my earnings and reinvested them in cheap books to learn more. Then I invested more of my 'free time' to learn as much as I could. In this way, I snowballed my skills until I had built a significant resume with substantial experience. Now, my full time job as a programmer for websites is directly related to that experience I was gaining 'on-the-side' and the fact that I was interested in the field enough to get a degree in it.

The key thing here is to realize that money is not the only goal. In fact, the more important goal is to live. By engaging in secondary, part-time jobs, you can be exposed to various industries, all types of people, and critical lessons about business. All of this can come from all types of jobs, whether it is a checkout clerk at a store or a burger flipper at the local McDonalds. These jobs show you the importance of your money and can provide an incentive to become skilled in a field and appreciate how hard people work for what they have. So, build your self-worth by finding additional work.

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