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Comment of the week: Going from $20k/year to $90k/year

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On a recent blog post, James left this great comment:

Ten years ago, I was working in a lumber yard. I asked myself, “What do I want my life to be like in five years?”.

I knew two things: that five years would pass, and that if I didn’t do anything different my life would still be the same (ie, I’d still be poor).

I took computer classes. I picked the hardest classes with the fewest students. That would put me in a smaller pool of people with those skills, increasing my value.

In five years I went from making 20k /year to 90k /year. I had to pay for the classes myself, but I’ve never regretted it and I’ve never looked back.

What if you’d done that five years ago? What if you did it today?

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Comment of the week: Going from $20k/year to $90k/year

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28 Comments on "Comment of the week: Going from $20k/year to $90k/year"

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Amy
7 years 6 months ago

Wow. That is powerful – thanks James and Ramit for giving us something to think about. Sometimes you have to invest in yourself to make more

guinness416
guinness416
7 years 6 months ago

It’s a good comment alright. Several times I’ve read that people overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can do in five years, which sounds right to me but I always find it tough to plan out that far.

Ben
Ben
7 years 6 months ago

Ramit & readers,

Not trying to brag here, just being honest. I make $90k a year now doing the whole computer shtick. How I can identify the next corresponding jump (say, doubling this)? My friends are going back to school for an MBA, a JD, etc, but I’d like to consider options that don’t put me back $300-400k in tuition, expenses, and opportunity cost.

What would you recommend just for exploring? Informational interviews? Career coaching? Particular books?

-Ben

Battra92
7 years 6 months ago
It’s a very good point and definitely one to explore. I work in desk side support and telecom for a utility company. My boss has told me before that work would pay for me to take telecom classes on work time so long as they aren’t sending me far away. I’m also debating on also taking A+ and Net+ and Cisco classes just to increase my worth (it’s more that I’m not sure which road of my career I want to go down. My question to you is: what are the best ways to find such courses and such? I’ve… Read more »
Elijah M
Elijah M
7 years 6 months ago
I spent the bulk of my 20s chasing a livelihood as a musician, and realized that while my friends had been reaping the financial and creative rewards of the first Internet boom, I had developed one skill (musician) that actually cost me money to use, and another skill (waiting tables) that enabled me to subsist and nothing more, while slowly killing my soul. So at he age of 27, I got a job as an admin at Northeastern University. It didn’t pay well, but it allowed me to attend 12 classes a year at night, free of charge. Since I… Read more »
Bear
Bear
7 years 6 months ago

I am in the same boat right now. About two months ago I realized that my life will be exactly the same next year if I don’t start doing something different. I stopped my normal routine and just focused on getting my web marketing consultancy off the ground. My friends and family have no idea what my service is or does, and don’t understand why I can’t hang out anymore; but a year from now I know I’ll be in a much happier place professionally and financially, and that the sacrifice was well worth it.

Tina
Tina
7 years 6 months ago
AHHH, I love this post! I’m doing this with my life. I needed a push in that direction though and the push was that I got laid off from a job I loved but knew wouldn’t give me a lot of profit. Now I’m going back to school to gain skills where I will most likely make more money than my ex-job (I say this because it’s a proven statistic, I’m going from artsy field to health care specialized if I go for my master’s). I’m not only going for the money though as I’ve been interested in this other… Read more »
Pev
7 years 6 months ago

This is very true, and very inspirational. Now, all I need is a good idea that will make me 6 digits.

Writer's Coin
7 years 6 months ago

My favorite part of that post?

What if you’d done that five years ago? What if you did it today?

Forget about what could’ve been—what can you do about it now, today? That’s the important part….

mike
mike
7 years 6 months ago
Beautifully written post! Four years ago, I moved overseas at the request of my employer. That move alone accelerated my salary level by at least a decade (ie – it would have taken me 10 years to get to where I am now, only 4 years after the move). As a side benefit, my wife, kids, and I are experiencing a different culture (way different!), traveling around parts of Asia we thought we’d never see, and putting away short-term and long-term savings at a much improved rate. @ Ben (above comment) who asks what he can do now to make… Read more »
RYM
7 years 6 months ago

Ramit,

what do you suggest about the course to get to that next stage! Should be a gradual pace, plugging away a little bit every day to get to that next level, or should it be like halting everything and doing all of it in a go!

Big Al
Big Al
7 years 6 months ago
I am in the same situation at the moment. I’m currently a tech lead for an advertising agency in downtown Chicago. I essentially almost trippled my salary from 38 to 90K/year by knowing the right people and switching jobs at the right time. I had 2 job jumps going from 38k after graduating from college to 65k after 7 months, then 68K to 90K after 1 year. It’s been 5 months at the new job and the checks are nice and heavy — netting $5,200 every month (with 5% 401k contribution as well). Financially, I can say I am doing… Read more »
Broke Wall Streeter
7 years 6 months ago
It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. I have the same job description today as I had 10 years ago. The difference is I got a position at a Wall Street firm (thanks to a friend). Same job, but an annual income of $124k vs. $48k (avg in the previous 4 jobs). I don’t have an advanced degree, nor have I taken any classes on my own. In my opinion, networking and reputation is more important than education. Only get an MBA from a top school. If you can’t get in, don’t bother if you want to work… Read more »
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[…] pain, no gain” is the colloquial saying. It is true. Without discomfort we will not change from our current […]

Evan Goncalo
7 years 6 months ago
In comparison, anyone that works hard, and dedicates themselves to moving upwards can do this… even without taking “advanced classes.” My success has been largely through networking. I just turned 21, have an associate’s degree (in an unrelated field), yet I am making 75k a year via salary, not including my other perks. I’ve worked my butt off in every job I’ve held, made plenty of friends in the industries I’ve worked in, and built up a broad network of internet contacts on websites like LinkedIn. I’ve never joined a company without a connection, and my last three jobs have… Read more »
John
John
7 years 6 months ago
5 years ago I was making around $75k per year. Today, I’m making over $225k per year. Sure, the salary from my day job has increased a lot, but the huge surge has been from starting my own business, which my wife (who wanted to stay at home with our kids) and I run part-time. And it’s not slowing down. This isn’t meant brag, but to inspire. Honestly, the idea wasn’t anything ground breaking. What made it work is persistance and a lot of hard work. I’ve actually tried to teach or partner with friends and family, and they usually… Read more »
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[…] 19, 2009 This post is inspired by a post I read over at I Will Teach You To Be Rich.   It’s about a guy who asked himself one day, ‘What do I want my life to be like in […]

Su Prieta
7 years 6 months ago
It really is an inspiration to read these comments. I did everything in the reverse. I went to a top law school in my twenties and am not earning $100+K as a business consultant. I went from lawyer, to consultant and am now looking out over the next five years of my life and am planning to phase out my corporate livlihood in favor of owning my own business and exploring other alternative income sources. My goal is to be untethered from an office by the time I have children (hopefully soon), while also being financially independent. My only downfall… Read more »
prospero
7 years 6 months ago

nice article, but I think one has to choose the right subject / course to be so succesful. It includes motivation and alo luck ! but nevertheless, be patient and be motivated, then you’ll reach what you want ! good luck !

Dee
Dee
7 years 6 months ago

John,
Teach me! I have been in my career for 22 years and while it has been good, I am looking for new challenges and would love to run my own business vs. work for someone else. I’m serious!

John
John
7 years 6 months ago

Dee,

I’ve owned a few companies, and this is the first one that has really made money. I’m a firm believer in doing, having suffered through many years paralized because I didn’t have The Great Idea. So while I’m not expert, I do have some ideas on how to go about doing what I’ve done. But again, it’s more about how you do something versus what you do. I could go into a little more if Ramit wants, seeing as this is his site and I don’t want to step on any toes.

Dee
Dee
7 years 6 months ago
Thanks for answering so quickly! I love this site, thanks so much Ramit~ Could not agree more John, on the importance of doing things the right way….over the years I have had many ideas and not acted on them, only to watch others succeed while I plugged away. It is not that I am not successful, by most standards I am, it is just that I want more 🙂 Want to learn more, grow and contribute, because my current position is limiting in that way and I also want more freedom later in life for myself and my husband. If… Read more »
Dee
Dee
7 years 6 months ago

Tell you what you can just email me, that way no toes are stepped on..
greendogworkout
yahoo
thanks!

James
James
7 years 6 months ago
How I figured out what to go for: I searched for job openings that excited me. Ones that made me think, “Wow, it would be so cool if I could do that.” I wrote the key hard and soft skills into a list. I kept referring back to the list, to remind myself of where I wanted to go and the skills it would take to get there. How I got there: I put my key goals and thoughts in places where I would see them every day. I made sacrifices. I refused to give up. The steps I took… Read more »
John
John
7 years 6 months ago
Dee, it’s not that complicated. Of course, I’ve learned a lot of things along the way, but here are the keys I’ve found. These are learned from online retail, because that’s what I do, but I’m sure parts relate to other services. 1) Find an industry that is missing something…has a hole that could be filled. It’s easiest to pick something that you already enjoy. To find these holes, pay attention to the complaints you have. For instance, if you’re forced to go to two different web sites for items that work together, there’s an ineffeciency. If you can’t buy… Read more »
Chelsea
Chelsea
7 years 5 months ago

John, thank you so much for your post! I am in my mid-twenties and am just waiting for my great (or even simple) idea to come along. I constantly remind myself to note my complaints, and jot down “effectiveness/efficiency boosting” ideas.. I know that something will come to me one of these days, and then I will really have to get to work!

April
7 years 5 months ago

Wow. That is the simplest, most concise answer I have ever heard in response to the question “how can I get rich/become successful.” Many books have been written on the subject when it really just comes down to be an expert in a field that is in demand. Thanks!

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