Ever since the Great Recession, Americans have clamored to improve their financial educations. As the economy crumbled, people realized that much of what they took for granted — their jobs, their retirement funds, their ability to repay their loans — wasn’t guaranteed. Plenty of great financial minds stepped up to fill this knowledge gap and created valuable content around how to reduce your expenses, pay off debt, stop living off credit cards, and build your savings.
These are all important steps toward shoring up financial success. But they’re all about playing defense instead of actively growing your wealth. And as a wise mentor once told us, “You’re never going to save your way to a fortune.” You can clip coupons and skip your daily Starbucks run as much as you want. But the only way to truly boost your financial circumstances is to leverage your skills into a meaningful and lucrative career.
The Career Connection
Our finances are inextricably linked to our careers. What you earn is the cornerstone of your financial health, yet most people fail to leverage this aspect of their lives as effectively as they should. While it’s true that American wages have largely stagnated and the middle class hasn’t seen a raise in 15 years, you don’t have to accept the status quo. By strategizing appropriately, you can find professional fulfillment while proactively boosting your net worth.
Why does this matter? Some people believe that as long as they enjoy their work and earn enough to get by, they should be satisfied. But that mindset doesn’t account for future events. What happens in the broader economy is out of our control, as so many Americans realized following the economic collapse. At any time, you can lose your job or see an investment turn south. But if you’ve offensively strategized, you’ll be able to weather those challenges without spiraling into crisis mode.
Even in the absence of catastrophic events, earning well insulates you from future stresses. By all means, cut up your credit cards if you can’t kick your impulsive spending habit, and create a monthly budget if you don’t have one already. Those are useful tactics for managing your money.
But that’s also the easy work. Playing financial defense allows you to stay within your comfort zone. Going on offense means developing new skills, learning how to network, negotiating for raises, and pursuing high-level opportunities. None of that is easy, and it requires a good deal of self-awareness to overcome your fears and insecurities. It also takes time, and most people aren’t interested in long-term strategies. They want the quick fix that will make them feel good right now. Most of all, it takes trusting the Lord and trusting His timing — not your own. Ultimately, God has complete control over your finances and career. This being said, there is absolutely no harm in curating a plan for the future and saving and investing. Proverbs 16:9 says “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes His steps.” If you want to cultivate a healthy, secure financial life that supports you and your family, you have to take the long road. It’s a harder path, no doubt. But it’s also much more rewarding.
Learning to Play Offense with Your Career
What does it mean to play offense with your finances? Well, let’s look at how the tactic is used in sports. Coaches develop defensive tactics to prevent opponents from exploiting their teams’ weaknesses. But the real key to their success is identifying their players’ strengths and developing plays where they can use those traits to their advantage. One player might always catch the Hail Mary Pass, while another’s speed allows him to dart past opponents to score the winning basket.
Coaches create opportunities for players to shine; they don’t wait for chance opportunities. That’s playing offense.
In financial terms, being on offense means leveraging your skills to increase your earning power. This means you need to know your strengths before maximizing your opportunities. Unfortunately, that’s not how we teach young people to think about their careers. Too often, high school and college students learn to identify which career paths appear to promise financial success, and they pursue those, regardless of their unique aptitudes.
A student who hates writing and public speaking is not going to succeed as a lawyer, just as one who struggles with the sciences will not do well as a doctor or pharmacist. Yes, those professions are often associated with high salaries. But you need to make it through years of rigorous schooling before you can enjoy that benefit, and someone who is ill-suited to the field is unlikely to complete that training. Even if they do, chances are low that they’ll do well enough to land a top-paying position, to say nothing of how miserable they’ll be in a career they loathe.
At Crown, we believe that young people should begin playing offense in their careers as early as high school. Instead of looking to external indicators to determine their professional paths, we encourage them to first discover their passions and skills, then choose a career based around those. Far too often, parents and mentors offer advice based on the former paradigm, which makes it difficult for them to help students reach their full potential.
That’s why we work with parents and their children to identify their unique, God-given talents and then work outward from there. If you’re a student struggling to discern your path, you might find our Career Direct Assessment useful. It accounts for all different aspects of your personality so you can find work that engages and rewards you both spiritually and financially.
Is it Time for a Mid-Career Pivot?
Of course, young students aren’t the only ones in need of a financial re-centering. Many mid-career professionals find that they’ve been operating on some bad advice they received in their formative years and are now earning far less than they deserve. If you’re in this camp, don’t worry. We can help you, too. There is always time for a Hail Mary and an opportunity to hit the do-over button.
Perhaps you’ve been grinding your gears for years now, and you’re unhappy with your job. Maybe you’re among the 78% of Americans living from paycheck to paycheck, and you’re tired of the constant money stress. You can make a change. We believe that God has a specific, unique design for each of our lives. Philippians 1:6 says “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work into you will complete it at the day of Jesus Christ.”
Anything is possible if you’re ready to stop playing defense and start putting yourself in the position to win. Our Career Boost Formula can help you brush up on the most in-demand skills so you can make a career change and break free of the negative cycle.
Success Is a Choice
The sad reality is that most people are content to live in mediocrity. They’re comfortable with the status quo, and comfort is more important to them than seeking ways to improve. But if you’re one of the few who refuses to settle for mediocrity, come talk to us. We’ll help you make the plays that lead to true success and fulfillment, and we’ll help you be the best version of yourself you can be.