In managing personal finances, we need to find a balance between two factors:

What we have coming in and what we have going out. When having difficulties, we tend to think that driving the income number higher will solve our problems, but tend to find that relief to be temporary. We often cycle through increases in income expecting to have reached the point where we can get ahead only to find that our expenses increase and absorb that larger income and we get no relief.

What, then, to do?

The problem is real. Many high-income earners live paycheck to paycheck. They may live in nice places, but feel the same stresses with bigger numbers.

The solution may be to seek higher income, but also to change how we manage our income and expenses at the same time. Adding in some improved financial literacy with increased income can help make increased income a real solution.

Current economic conditions present some unique opportunities and risks for job shopping.

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Job Shopping Opportunities

There are many jobs available right now. In many cases, there are more jobs than there are people looking for work. If you are in the market for a new job, this is a great time.

Naturally, there is some skew to the jobs. There are many jobs that require specific skills where there are not enough people available with those skills. This is happening right now in the tech and medical fields, and there’s a shortage of pilots, truck drivers, and other skilled professions.

There’s also a plethora of unskilled jobs available. It seems every fast-food place and big-box store has help wanted signs — and they are all competing for the same workers.

If you think you might improve your situation by getting a new job, or even adding an additional job, there are plenty to choose from.

Improving income is only part of the opportunity. There may be chances to attain better hours or working conditions, or to improve benefits. Even if these aren’t your goals, they should be part of the considerations, so you don’t give up something and regret it later.

Another consideration is the long-term potential with an employer, or the prospects to improve skills, which could be marketable. Some jobs are great to work day-to-day, great people, fun places. But there may be limited opportunities for advancement. Or even no such opportunity. They’re what we call dead-end jobs.

Other employers may provide a path to continue to advance in pay and responsibility. Some may offer training or tuition reimbursement. What you get now is only part of the equation; thinking long term is important to continue moving upward in income.

Job Shopping Risks

There are many jobs out there right now, but the economy is facing some significant headwinds — and there’s no telling how harsh the fall may be.

Any new job has a degree of risk. It may not be what you expect; it may not be the great place to work that you were told it would be. Not every job is a good fit. Fewer are a great fit.

When you start someplace new, you start as the newest employee. These are the first people that get laid off if a company ends up with too many workers. This may or may not be a consideration depending on your specific skills.

There may also be some benefits you forgo, such as not being vested in a retirement plan at a current employer, or needing to wait before you can sign up at a new employer. Employees may be able to make some real gains switching employers, but won’t get ahead jumping ship for minor benefits. Shop around and make sure you’re getting the best deal you can — and one that you can live with for a while.

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The Bottom Line

There are many opportunities out there for job seekers. There are also some storm clouds on the horizon. We don’t know how bad inflation will get or how long this will last; there’s talk of food shortages and more significant supply-chain problems. We all need to make personal choices balancing our opportunities with our security and comfort level.

In some cases, examining what’s out there may provide fuel to negotiate a better package from a present employer. Employers know it’s an employee’s market, and they want to retain good employees. Not everyone will be able to leverage this to their advantage, but some will.

No matter what happens in the economy, it will be better to go through it making more money. Making more money works better in both good economic times and bad. The current conditions may make a job change a good opportunity for employees who feel they can weather the risks. Improving financial literacy skills at the same time can help make the progress real.

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