I have officially become a stereotypical coffee shop writer! Today I was feeling like I needed to get out of the house to do a little writing. I often find myself distracted with house or yard work, so sometimes it’s good to step away to get some things done. This coffee shop is also right down the road from my school and I have to get up there later today. Anyways, let’s dive in.
I asked some of our followers on instagram what topics they would be interested in reading about in our blog and one topic that came up is career advice. I thought I would start by writing about some of the financial principles that helped YSI come out of the Covid-19 pandemic unscathed.
“But wait, Zach?! I thought you were going to talk about how to make a career out of teaching and playing saxophone?!”
Yes, but you can’t do anything without food on your table and making wise financial decisions early on in your career while you refine your skills is important to allow yourself to be discerning later on in what endeavors you choose to pursue. I don’t necessarily want to tell you specifically what to do in your particular career, but give you some habits and principles that you can apply no matter what you are doing.
Set a budget for yourself and stick to it.
This is easier said than done, but it is THE most important principle that you can apply. If you can do this and do it well, a lot of the other principles will fall into place. Knowing where your money is going every month is vital in making informed financial decisions and prevents you (hopefully) from overspending. When you’re working on a team of people, decide the budget together and stick to it. Our site coordinators all have access to the budget and are expected to log every expense for their camp in the budget at the end of each day. When you set your budget, it is okay if it doesn’t go well the first couple of months. You will DEFINITELY have to make adjustments; my wife and I recently had to adjust our budget to account for higher gas and grocery prices. And YES, that meant we sacrificed in other areas, like eating out, but it is empowering to take control of your money and not feel stressed for that next check to come through.
Get out of debt and stay out of debt.
“Every time you pay off a debt, you give yourself a raise.” I love that quote. When you don’t have to pay someone for something you owe them, you get to put that money somewhere else in your budget. Imagine getting $300 car payment back every month to use however you want. What would you do with it? YSI has never owed money to anyone for something that we purchased. When Covid hit, we decided it would be best to shut our doors for a few years to ride out the storm. Our money sat in the bank until we were able to use it in a way that we wanted to. If we owed money to some company for purchasing a company car (yeah, right…), we would have felt pressured to “make money” to keep those payments going.
Wealth is not always about how much you make, but how much you keep. Learning to keep money and live below your means is an important life skill. As mentioned above, we had money in the bank stored up to kickstart camp once the time was right. Dave Ramsey has a good system that I think is very applicable - have $1000 saved for small emergencies, then 3-6 months saved as a long term emergency fund. Having a nest egg ready gives you peace of mind when you lose part or all of your income (like a lot of lesson teachers did when Covid first hit). At YSI, we have built savings into the budget to roll over for the following summer, allowing us some opportunities to give back to our students in some pretty cool ways, including bringing in people like Robert Young and the Kenari Quartet.
I hope this has given you some things to think about. This is a topic that I am very passionate about and I love helping people who may be struggling with this VITAL part of their career. If you are feeling like you struggle in this area, feel free to reach out. I’d be happy to be of service or put you in contact with someone who can.
Have a wonderful week!