Saturday, November 26, 2011

Volume 3 Issue 48: Intelligent Investing

Study Hard, Get A Good Job and Earn A High Pay?

At least, that is what our parents told us. Does that really work? As a very firm believer in hard work being rewarded, there is some part of me that can't help but feel somewhat demoralized when I read the following story about a single mother-turned-professor:
Critics of higher education love to suggest that we professors are living it up. But I'm not. I have less than $100 in my checking account. I've been ignoring a recurring robo-call from a company trying to collect a $50 payment that is overdue. The gutters on my house are falling off. My electric bill is late, and I can't drive my car because the check-engine light is on. 
Oh, and I received tenure this past spring. I'm not kidding. And no, I don't have a fat savings account, and no, I am not irresponsible with money. 
My salary is average for someone of my rank, discipline, and college size. If you're a college professor, people assume that if you don't have a healthy bank account, you must be a closet gambler or have some other hidden addiction. But my financial predicament is a result of bootstrapping my way into academe, and the harsh reality of leaping from rural Arkansas to a professor's job in upstate New York with no financial support system along the way. Indeed, it was not a leap at all but a long, slow, humiliating slog.
The message is clear. The world isn't fair. There will be some cases where hard work is not adequately rewarded. But is this a good reason to give up? Personally, a story like this is supposed to be heartwarming, endearing and inspirational.

For some of us, we will feel thankful for what we have and for what we had. I am far from having escaped the rat race. But I am glad that I have stopped running around in circles trying to make ends meet.

There was a time where hard work and an honest day's work could get you paid handsomely. Then came the era when you had to work smart, whatever that means. I think we are moving into an era where either one is not enough. You have to work hard AND smart. Even then, it is far from enough. Some people say, you need the right connections, some people say you need luck. Some people create their own luck.

But then again, as Benjamin Graham said:
Luck is when preparation meets opportunity
Go figure.

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