Rich on Less Than $50,000 a Year

I recently had the opportunity to apply for a large, successful growing bank with its headquarters in San Francisco.

The benefits were incredible, and the prestige that came with representing this institution was hard to pass up. I was towards the end of the rigorous interview process, and I knew that my chances were good.

If hired, I had the potential to double my base salary (think $100,000+ per year). I would be required to do a lot of networking to grow its client base, and that left me feeling conflicted about how I wanted to spend the next few years of my life. Could I ask for the sale? Could I put my introverted tendencies aside to generate business? I questioned if this role would be in direct conflict with my authenticity.

Presently, I work in the East Bay making $43,000 a year as a receptionist/accounting assistant. If this seems low to you, consider this:

My girlfriend and I split the rent of $1,640 each month. My current total debts do not exceed 30% of my available credit. We have no children, with no plans to have them in the future. My car is paid off. After all my total monthly expenses, I still have enough leftover to put away $500 a month in savings. We go on vacation every year. Last year we went to Maui for 10 days.

Changing jobs is always a huge decision, not just in the financial sense, but also in how you will choose to spend the majority of your weekdays. I envisioned myself always thinking about how to open the next account. What did I know about IRAs? How was I going to sell yacht loans?

I pictured bankers trapped in a glass case with money blowing around in it, scrambling to grab onto as may bills as possible. Is this the life I really wanted for myself? A hustle? I thought I already did that when I was a stripper.

I realized that for the first time, I was financially comfortable. I had finally reached a point in my life where I had the luxury to turn down a position because I was comfortable enough to continue living on the same income. I know people who jointly make over four times what I make annually, and they struggle to pay the bills every month, let alone save any money at all, with no retirement in sight. And for what? So they can “Keep up with the Jones’s”?

Would I have fit in with all those Banana Republic- and JoS. A. Bank-clad professionals? Sure. Would I be able to grow business, incentivized by the prospect of being able to afford a luxury car? A house? Yes. But when would I ever get to use “Holy testicle Tuesday” as an interjection with my coworkers again?

We are who we are. My grandmother says I beat to the rhythm of my own drum. It’s okay to not want to be a corporate drone. It’s okay to get the rook piercing at 32. It’s okay to not want children. And it’s definitely okay to seek a happiness in life that is uniquely yours, despite what social expectations (largely based in capitalist thought, when you think about it) are placed upon you in order to “fit in”.

A year or two down the line, I will find a better-paying opportunity that challenges me to grow personally and professionally, but it will be because I followed a passion and stayed true to myself. As I expand my skill set, I will attract the opportunities that will give me true fulfillment. I will buy the Acura. I will book that trip for two to Bora Bora. I’ll put a down payment on a respectable home, a lofty goal for those of us that battle against the ever-rising costs of real estate in the Bay Area.

And I’m going to do it my way.