It’s not just working hard, although that was a part of it. I was trying to make the best of every opportunity that came by, and I think a lot of people ignore those opportunities because they’re scared of change or unwilling to open their mind and take on another job that might not seem so interesting or great, but ends up being your dream career.
Household income changes over time, with income gains being substantially larger for the upper percentiles than for the lower percentiles. All areas of the income strata have seen their incomes rise since the late 1960s, especially during the late 1990s. The overall increase in household income is largely the result of an increase in the percentage of households with more than one income earner. While households with just one income earner, most commonly the male, were the norm in the middle of the 20th century, 42% of all households and the vast majority of married couple households now have two or more income earners. With so many households now having two income earners, the substantial increase in household income is easily explained:
North Dakota had a very significant boom and nearly all of that was tied to oil companies paying top dollar to relocate. Most positions were temporary or related to field operations rather than corporate offices moving in. When prices and activity fell, unfortunately these people had limited options for finding work in other industries in North Dakota. Perhaps the growth was too dependent on a single factor.
Incomes for those employed, full-time, year-round and over the age of twenty-five ranged from $20,826 ($17,422 if including those who worked part-time) for those with less than a ninth grade education to $100,000 for those with professional degrees ($82,473 if including those who work part-time). The median income for individuals with doctorates was $79,401 ($70,853 if including those who work part-time).
I don’t think I would have done worse financially at all. I just think it evens out in the end of you make the right choices. I probably would have started with a much higher salary out of the gate. Put there’s a possibility then I would have been spending my time with people who put value on superficial items, and I’d spend more money on my apartment, car, clothes, etc. I’d probably try to stay in that job for many years, if it were paying well, versus having a real reason to leave positions to quickly move up and try different things. Right now I’m in a private company that is excelling and due to being open to any opportunity I was able to work a job that paid relatively little compared to market rate in exchange for a large amount of options. It’s yet to be seen if these options are going to be worth anything, but at this point there’s a reasonable change that I could meet or exceed the amount of savings I would have had, say, if I were making $100k out of the gate after graduating from an Ivy League school. Having a low income out of undergrad forced me to prioritize and learn how to save, and also how to live on a salary of under $30k a year in the Bay Area. While I’m still scared of losing my job, I understand how to live cheaply, which I consider a value-add to not having such high expectations and requirements for lifestyle out of the gate. Now, I am considering getting an MBA if I could possibly score well on the GMAT (I believe if I could get a high score on the GMAT I’d be an interesting candidate for a top-tier MBA program given my experience working with multiple successful startups as an early employee) but I’m not sure I want to take two years off to do that. If I were to go back to school I feel it would be more valuable to specialize in technical development or analytics, to really address areas where I am weak that would lead me to be a much better professional today. It’s unclear if an MBA program would be able to address my weaknesses — or give me the salary boost you speak of as with bonus I now make up to $130k per year (last year I closed out the year with about $110k.) I’m 29 and 7 years into my career. I save, I invest, and I’m glad I didn’t make all of the “smart” decisions in my life because this made me hungrier, potentially more well rounded, and less scared of taking risks as I had so little to lose.
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