Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Your Total Measure of Wealth: Job Status

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: ,

get your job status quotient at punny money

Chances are that you’re one of those poor fools who has to work for a living. You wake up five days a week, stumble into the bathroom, emerge slightly more awake than you entered, schlep your way to work, do something of some benefit to someone somewhere, get paid for it, crawl your way back home, make love to your beautiful spouse if he or she is in the mood which is more often not than so, and go to bed.

Before we continue, I have a confession to make: I’m one of those poor fools, too. Except my wife is always in the mood, though I often work six or seven days a week. But you get the picture.

Ever since God invented the first job when he told Noah to build his ark, the exchange of labor for goods or money has been a basic part of the world’s economy. Without paid jobs, we’d all have to be our own farmers, carpenters, doctors, and tax accountants. Jobs also serve as a way of giving our life meaning. We find something we’re good at, we do it each day, and we’re rewarded with the means to support ourselves and our families. It’s a pretty neat deal we’ve got going here.

And yet, what’s the one thing people complain about the most above all? (I mean, more than the War in Iraq, gas prices, and Britney Spears.) That’s right: their jobs. Most people hate their jobs. They either hate what they do, they hate their coworkers, they hate how little they are paid, or they just hate having to wear pants every single day.

As much as we might “hate our jobs,” most of us can’t live without them–at least not for very long. That’s why another fundamental component of Your Total Measure of Wealth™ is your job status quotient, or the measure of your job’s impact on your wealth.

How Your Job Affects Your Wealth

man with a big broom

Your job has some pretty obvious impacts on your personal wealth. Imagine your wealth as a big blue lake full of fish. Now let’s say that your job is a river that feeds water into that lake. As long as the river keeps flowing, the lake has water and all the fish are happy. But if something happens to your job river and the flow to the lake is cut off, your lake will start to dry up. The fish will be okay as long as you restore the river before the lake dries up completely.

A few people are fortunate enough that they can pump millions of gallons of reserve water into the lake if their river ever stops flowing. A lot more aren’t so lucky–their lakes are already so small that even a week or two of river stoppage will turn their fish into fish sticks. In short, your job means your survival. If you don’t have a job, or you can’t work, your lake will disappear and your fish will die (or be forced to live in a tiny government-sponsored fishbowl).

why is nobody in the copy room where i work this hot?

Just having a job doesn’t mean you’re going to get by. Your job must match your lifestyle. If you’re that girl whose job is to make sure my Whopper is situated in the center of the wrapper, don’t make any plans to live in Beverly Hills. Similarly, if you’re a $500-an-hour attorney, you can probably do a bit better than Compton. Your job helps dictate how you can live right now.

Your job also has a direct bearing on your personal savings rate. If you make $2,000 a month and the sum of all your expenses is $2,000 a month, you will have a savings rate of zero. And if your job has no room for growth, your lifestyle will likely stay fixed too. Your job helps dictate how you will be able to live in the future.

Your job has lots of effects on your life other than where and how well you can live. It affects your mood, your health, your family–practically every aspect of your life.

Hopefully you realize that your job status is of great importance to you. Now let’s find out how important.

Determining Your Job Status Quotient

caution: watch for gopher holes

WARNING: This section is a work in progress. Suggestions for improvement are welcome; you can leave them in the comments section below. Check back often for changes to this section. Any updates will be listed at the end of this article under “Revision History.”

Unlike wealth criteria like income and net worth, “job status” doesn’t immediately evoke images of numbers or calculations. You could say something like, “I have a job status of 312!” but people would just laugh at you or have you committed.

Now if Donald in Mathmagic Land taught us anything, it’s that anything can be turned into a mathematical equation. You will soon see that coming up with an equation to describe job status is not that hard. First we’ll need the common components of any equation which are:

  • Input(s)
  • Output(s)
  • Plus sign
  • Equal sign
  • Magic

We know what most of these are already for our job status equation, especially output–it’s the number we end up with that’ll tell us what our job status is. But what about the inputs? Figuring out those will require some creativity. Below is the list I put together; please feel free to suggest additions to it.

Job Status Quotient Inputs

  • Employment. Do you have a job?
  • Financial independence. Do you need a job to survive?
  • Self-employment. Are you your own boss?
  • Job-to-life ratio. Is your job suited to your lifestyle?
  • Job-to-hopes ratio. Is your job suited to your desired lifestyle?
  • Job satisfaction. Do you like your job?
  • Job security. How safe is your current job?
  • Opportunities in your field. If you lose your current job, can you easily find another?
  • Job growth. Do you have opportunity for advancement/promotion?
  • Job history. Do you have a respectable resume?
  • Relevant education. How many pieces of paper are hanging on your wall?
  • Job stress. Ever rip out your hair over work?
  • Work-life balance. Does your job monopolize your life?
  • Job benefits/perks. Does your job come with any nice extras?

Now let’s transform these inputs into numeric values we can use. We’ll take care of that, along with calculating the final job status quotient, by putting together a questionnaire that turns input criteria into a standardized assessment of your job status.

Job Status Questionnaire

{
echo "If you’re reading this via Punny Money’s RSS feed, click here to take the Job Status Questionnaire.
“;
}
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(Please note that your answers to this questionnaire may be recorded to help improve the quality of the questionnaire. No identifying information is stored, and questionnaire results will only be publicized in aggregated form.)

  1. My Total Measure of Wealth:
    Job Status Questionnaire

  2. Instructions: Select the most appropriate answer to each question. After answering all questions, click “Give Me My Job Status Quotient” to obtain your job status quotient.

    If you have more than one job, select the answers which most closely reflect your entire job picture.

  3. How much do you need a job to survive?

    I could not last even a month without a job.

    I could get by for a month or two without a job.

    I could survive an extended period of unemployment.

    I do not need a job to survive.
  4. If you lose your current job, how easily could you find another like it? If you are unemployed, answer according to how easily you expect to find a new job like your previous one.

    Very easily.

    Somewhat easily.

    It would take some work.

    It would be very difficult.
  5. Are you currently unemployed?

    No.

    Yes. (If you answer yes to this question, leave the remaining questions blank and submit your questionnaire for scoring.)
  6. Are you completely or almost completely self-employed?

    No.

    Yes.
  7. How well does your job support your current lifestyle?

    Very well.

    Adequately.

    I barely get by right now.
  8. How well would your job support the lifestyle you desire?

    Very well.

    Adequately.

    Barely.

    Not at all.
  9. How much do you like your job?

    I love my job.

    I like my job enough.

    I tolerate my job.

    I do not like my job very much.

    I hate my job.
  10. How likely is it that you could/will ever lose your job?

    Very unlikely.

    Unlikely.

    Somewhat likely.

    Very likely.
  11. How much opportunity for advancement or promotion does your job offer?

    A lot.

    Some.

    Not much.
  12. How impressive would your resume appear to potential employers?

    Very impressive.

    Somewhat impressive.

    Not too impressive.
  13. Do you have a college degree relevant to your job?

    Yes.

    No.
  14. How stressful is your job?

    Very stressful.

    Somewhat stressful.

    Only a little stressful or rarely stressful.

    Not stressful at all.
  15. Does your job take up too much of your life?

    Yes.

    No.
  16. Does your job offer benefits or perks beyond your wage/salary?

    Yes, many.

    Yes, some.

    Not much, if any.

Job Status Quotient Scale

To keep things simple, the maximum score you can receive on this questionnaire is 100. A job status quotient of 100 means your employment situation is rockin’ for at least one of many reasons. Perhaps you’re a retired millionaire who doesn’t need a job to get by. Or maybe you love your low-stress, well-paying, highly secure job. As you can see from the questions, there are many factors that go into determining your job status. Some are more important than others, but you don’t need to ace every single question to come out with a “perfect” score. I fully suspect 5-10% of people taking this questionnaire will score 90 or above.

On the other end of the scale, there are also a few ways to score a 0. Unemployment pretty much kills your score unless you don’t need a job to survive. You can avoid a 0 score and still be unemployed if you state that you can easily find another job or you can get by for a while without a job. There are also ways to completely bomb the questionnaire even if you are currently employed, but you’d have to give an awful lot of negative answers on the questionnaire.

Most people should have a score between 30 and 90. This range will typically indicate someone who is employed but not financially independent. Where these people fall in that range depends on the various aspects of the job itself–pay relative to their lifestyle, job satisfaction and security, etc.

In case you’re curious, I scored 65 on job status.

Job Status Questionnaire Breakdown

This section is sort of a “behind the scenes” look at the questionnaire meant to show the impact each question and its answers have on your job status quotient.

As you’ll see, each answer has a corresponding point value. The job status equation is simply the sum of all the point values for the answers you select. Some answers add to your score; some subtract from it; some have no effect.

It is possible to finish the quiz with a negative score, though such scores are rounded up to zero. It is also possible to finish with more than 100 points, but the maximum score you can receive is capped at 100.


How much do you need a job to survive?.

I could not last even a month without a job: +0
I could get by for a month or two without a job: +5
I could survive an extended period of unemployment: +10
I do not need a job to survive: +120

Comments: If you don’t need a job to survive, you automatically get tons of points that make it pretty hard to score under 100. Congratulations on your financial independence! This question also covers cases such as college students and younger children who are financially supported by their parents.


If you lose your current job, how easily could you find another like it? If you are unemployed, answer according to how easily you expect to find a new job like your previous one.

Very easily: +10
Somewhat easily: +5
It would take some work: +0
It would be very difficult: -10

Comments: Even the most secure jobs could disappear in the wrong circumstances, so being able to find another quickly is a good thing for anyone.


Are you currently unemployed?
No: +10.
Yes: +0.

Comments: Unemployment destroys your job status quotient. But if you can get by for a while without a job and/or can find another one pretty easily, you can still avoid a score of zero. And if you don’t need a job to survive, this question won’t have much effect.


Are you completely or almost completely self-employed?
No: +0
Yes: +15

Comments: Working for yourself gives you a nice bonus since it puts your job’s destiny in your own hands rather than someone else’s. The self-employed are also generally happier and have the potential to earn a lot more (or a lot less).


How well does your job support your current lifestyle?

Very well: +5
Adequately: +0
I barely get by right now: -5

Comments: If your job does not sufficiently support your living habits, you either need a new job or new living habits… or both!


How well would your job support the lifestyle you desire?
Very well: +15
Adequately: +10
Barely: +5
Not at all: +0

Comments: I imagine most people will answer “Not at all” to this since they would probably be living their desired lifestyle if they could. This question rewards you for choosing to live below your means.


How much do you like your job?

I love my job: +10
I like my job enough: +5
I tolerate my job: +0
I do not like my job very much: -5
I hate my job: -15

Comments: Since your job is likely such a big part of your life, it’s important that you like what you do. If you don’t, even if it supports your lavish lifestyle, you get a penalty on your quotient.


How likely is it that you could/will ever lose your job?

Very unlikely: +10
Unlikely: +5
Somewhat likely: -5
Very likely: -10

Comments: Job security is a definite plus, but job insecurity is an even bigger minus. If you gave one of the two bottom answers, make sure you keep your options open in case the ax ever falls.


How much opportunity for advancement or promotion does your job offer?

A lot: +10
Some: +5
Not much: +0

Comments: This one is pretty self-explanatory. Without the potential for job growth, you are more likely to have a stagnant salary and eventually come to dislike your job. New challenges help keep your job exciting, and a bump in pay can mean a better lifestyle in the future.


How impressive would your resume appear to potential employers?

Very impressive: +10
Somewhat impressive. +5
Not too impressive: +0

Comments: I was on the fence as to whether I should include this question since the previous one already asks about your ability to find another job if needed, but this one covers some additional, subtle nuances of job searches. You may be able to find another job easily, but an impressive job history could get you an even better one than you had before.


Do you have a college degree relevant to your job?

Yes: +10
No: +0

Comments: A college degree instantly makes you more marketable than a mere high school graduate. This is true for virtually every job out there, even though for many of them a degree is just a piece of paper and the real learning doesn’t start until you’re actually on the job.


How stressful is your job?

Very stressful: -5
Somewhat stressful: +0
Only a little stressful or rarely stressful: +5
Not stressful at all: +10

Comments: Most jobs are at least a little stressful, but a very stressful job can impact your health and your desire and ability to work.


Does your job take up too much of your life?

Yes: +0
No: +5

Comments: I bet a lot of people for whom the answer to this question is really “yes” will still answer “no.” Many of us must sacrifice our free time, our hobbies, our families, and many other things all for the sake of our jobs. A job is meant to give you the means to live, so if you instead live for that job, you’re not really living for yourself… unless you love your job that much in which case you’re probably going to come out of this with a high job status quotient anyway.


Does your job offer benefits or perks beyond your wage/salary?

Yes, many: +10
Yes, some: +5
Not much, if any: +0

Comments: Great benefits are a key ingredient of a great job. Things like medical benefits, stock options, and foosball in the break room are nice perks and act as the icing on your job cake. (I would have used the river and lake metaphor again, but someone just walked in with a yummy looking slice of cake.)

Final Thoughts on Your Job Status

Obviously this is all just a work in progress (because I said so earlier!), so I welcome your comments on the questionnaire, the scoring, or anything else you see in this article. Hopefully I’ve captured most of the important data points into the job status quotient, but I’m sure I’ve missed one or two things, so it’s your job (pun intended) to catch me on it!

Also note that your job status quotient can change over time, so I recommend retaking the questionnaire periodically or whenever you have a major change in your employment situation.

If you answered the questionnaire, you now hold one of the keys to Your Total Measure of Wealth. Coming up, we’ll take look at the next one: your housing status.

Revision History

April 10, 2007. First version (1.0) released!

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