The title of this post was the basis for an MBA application question I recently answered. It really got my thinking about my career goals and aspirations. Here’s my response to the question, followed by some thoughts. What do you think and how would you spend your life if money was not a factor?
If salary was not a factor and my living expenses were covered I would focus on building and expanding my personal finance and investing (web)blog – www.savingtoinvest.com – so that I could take it to a much larger scale with a broader goal to help more people better understand and improve their personal finances. I started this website/blog 18 months after moving to America and initially it was a way synthesize my thoughts on the world of personal finance and investing in a new country with different financial systems and tax laws. Through this online channel I was able to pursue my interests in personal finance and share how everyday people like me could effectively save and invest money effectively. As my blog grew, I started building a regular following and today I have nearly 6,000 subscribers and get over 150,000 visitors on average to my site every month. Through comments and emails a number of readers have thanked me for the help and information I have provide, which to me is the best endorsement of the blog.
As I got deeper into blogging I also realized that I could make sizable amounts money from the website through partner (affiliate) programs and Google’s Adsense publisher program. It took me about 3 months to get my first payout of $50, but over the last 8 months, the substantial growth in readership has allowed me to make on average $3,000 a month. However with a demanding full time job, it is getting harder for me to consistently spend more time on the blog and take it to the next level. To do this would require a full time focus, which financially is not feasible since my “day” job is more rewarding (especially as I climb the corporate ladder). However, one big positive of managing a full time job, part time side business and family commitments is that my time management skills have become excellent and I know that I will be more than capable of managing the demands of a part time MBA in my schedule.
I really believe that millions of people could benefit from straight forward financial information and advice from some one more like them – as opposed to a Wall Street product salesman. To me it’s sad that folks can grow up with all the intelligence and book smarts possible, but still fail so miserably when it comes to managing their money. Case in point: In America the average credit card debt is $12,000 per person, 15% of households are behind in mortgage payments or in foreclosure and the savings rate in America has been negative for so long. Further, if all my living expenses were covered, I would be able to use the proceeds from advertising on the blog to create more resources that focus on providing real life personal finance education to school level children from working class families. I know that my own young son and other children could really benefit from learning good personal finance habits early in life.
Finally, I would also like to travel overseas regularly to get more perspective on how people around the world manage their money. For example how does a family of ten in rural India can live in relative comfort/happiness on a fraction of an average US family salary; yet that same US family cannot escape living paycheck to paycheck. Eventually I would like to write a book titled something like “The 100 self evident truths of personal finance success”
Reality or Risk Aversion
Unfortunately, this blog – which I would love to do full time, will not cover my living expenses and salary on a regular basis. However it got me to thinking – is this an excuse (I am risk averse by nature) or should I just take the risk and follow my “passion”. When work is frustrating, the desire to take the risk becomes stronger. But then the variability of blogging coupled with the needs of maintaining a financially secure life make full time blogging a scary thought. However, with an MBA to pay for, I think a job right now is a necessity – and hopefully in the not too distant future I will be able to follow my true career track.