Personal Finances and Work

Kirk Loftin

When it comes to our personal finances, other than our paychecks, we often consider it a completely separate issue from our work. However, it’s not that simple. Your personal finances and professional life at work regularly cross paths and intertwine in ways we may not immediately assume. Money is much more than just a great Pink Floyd song.

The most obvious relation between the two worlds is your paychecks. It’s important to remember your pay comes from your work, which goes for rent, feeding your kids, and your puppy’s vet bill. Often we separate, but this compartmentalization masks the reasoning (the why of our work), so we think we work just for money, which can skew our attitude towards the negative. But we’re not just working for money, we’re working for our living quarters, our families, and our retro video game collections (or whatever your hobby is). That doesn’t mean allow yourself to be trapped in a horrible job that’s a clear misfit just for the money (if you’re truly miserable, start looking for something better).

Stress is an obvious side effect of financial issues. Stress doesn’t stay in your car in the parking lot when you get to work, you carry it with you. Stress shows, whether you’re responding to a “good morning,” being harsh in a meeting, or replying to a client’s email. Even when we think we’re managing our stress, we’re often given away by unconscious things like body language, breathing, and facial expressions.

Money and finances are usually considered taboo subjects, because they are a very private matter. However, often we don’t hesitate to show off our new car or watch or something meant to impress, but we avoid conversations about late bills and other money struggles. We need to reverse this, to not want to show off, and instead be willing to reach out and talk to others when we need help when unclear of how to fix a situation. The people around us often are fighting livinsome of the same fights you are, and they may have the tools you could really use.

Of course, you don’t want to air out all your laundry in public, and not everyone needs (or deserves) to hear about your private life. But we don’t want to let our embarrassment prevent us for receiving support from those willing to give it. Have a payroll question? Ask HR. Have a tax question? Ask the tax expert. Your friend brags about using a budget? Ask them how to set one up!

There’s no reason not to get your work life and personal finances to co-exist peacefully. Does that mean tape your paycheck stub to your office door? No. But it does mean keeping the awareness that these two worlds are closely entwined, and acting accordingly. Make a budget (and stick to it). Cut back on unnecessary expenditures. Save for your retirement. Invest wisely. Have an emergency fund. Pay off debts (seriously, this one helps a lot). Find out and understand your credit score/report. Learn about personal finance, and allow yourself to succeed.

Money should never be the end-all be-all of your life, and if it is, you may want to make some shifts in priorities. However, we should be mindful and purposeful with our money, and that starts with being cognizant of the relationship between our money and our work. And hey, if you are rich, I hope you’re fulfilling a whole generation’s dreams of diving headfirst into a pool full of money.

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