YOU are Your Own Best Asset

Personal Money Planning |

By Gary Silverman, CFP®

As I continue to talk about preparing for the next crisis, I want to cover the most important financial asset you have: You. Unless your wealth is obtained through inheritance, the likely source of it is your work. It is hard to invest if you don’t have money and for most of us that money comes via a paycheck. So, let’s talk about protecting that paycheck. (My retired readers can annoy your kids and grandkids by highlighting this article and sending it to them. Enjoy.)

In this current time of crisis, I don’t need to explain that losing your job is a possibility. There is not, and never has been, a secure job. Yes, you might be the expert in your field, and senior in ranking, but neither helps if you do something stupid or the business itself goes away. You may have been the best manager at the best Pier One, but if there are no more Pier Ones, the paycheck ceases.

Folks like these may find it easy to get another equivalent job -- that is, if the openings do not covertly discriminate due to age, or if they are willing to move to a new community, or if the hiring managers see value in their experience. But none of that matters too much if the retail environment is in tatters.

So while you may have heard the way to riches starts with researching mutual funds, charting stocks, and spending time and effort managing and growing your portfolio, what I want you to spend time and effort on is making yourself the least likely person to be laid off and the most likely person to be hired.

Fully explaining this would take a book to thoroughly explore (and there are plenty), so I’ll just touch on a few points. For instance, what are you doing to improve in what you are doing? What internal jobs in growing departments or skill areas are you training to do? What licenses or certificates are you working on to enhance and expand your abilities? And have you asked your boss what you can do to make yourself more valuable to the company?

Even with all of that, your job could still go away.  So, ask yourself a question that millions of people in our country ask themselves daily: Where can you find a job?

It may be that your career field is just fine, but you can’t find work locally. In that case you need to put yourself in a position where you can move. Or maybe it is that the job market for your current position is steadily declining. If you can see the writing on the wall (and many people just don’t want to notice it), what are you doing to prepare for a different job? Unfortunately, our country does not do a good job itself in having systematic programs to constantly update our workforce, so it is mostly up to you to get out there and prepare.

All of this seems like a lot of effort for something that never happens. But that’s the way it is for most crisis preparedness—you hope it never happens, but you are ready if it does.

Gary Silverman, CFP® is the founder of Personal Money Planning, LLC, a Wichita Falls retirement planning and investment management firm and author of Real World Investing.