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April 09, 2009


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"Do what makes you happy - the money will follow" as a route to making six figures is a load of bunk. The money MIGHT follow, but not always, especially in the arts. Also, it's not necessary to do what you love to get rich. I've made six figures for many years in a career I don't like at all. It's tough, but thanks to frugal habits and careful saving, the end is in sight. I don't recommend this approach, but I've read too many articles saying that you can't make a lot of money doing something you hate, and that's simply not true.

I agree with Meg on the "do what makes you happy" unless you very talented at what you do this wont really work.

Agree with both Meg and Ray.

But I think the key takeaway is that even though you may make $100,000 a year... it probably won't last long since you hate it so much.

I third what the two posters above said. I consider the "do what you love money will follow advice" to be advisory fraud. Do what you love may be great advice. Do what you love the money will follow is just happy talk that has no rational defense.

I dislike all advice like this such as you can be anything you want .... No you most likely won't ever be an NBA player or an astronaut or any number of other things regardless of how hard you try. If you want to try, great, but don't lie to a young person and give them misleading information that will cloud their ability to make a rational decision by letting them believe in fairy tales that sound nice but are untrue as a factual statement. You cannot be anything you want, and you cannot get rich simply by doing something you love. It's possible you could get both, but usually it's either or, and it's a cruel thing to lie to someone about something so important just because it sounds nice and uplifting.

I really disagree with this list's preoccupation with education. Two-thirds of it is spent telling people to get more degrees. Unfortunately, as I've found out the hard way, experience often trumps education in the real world. I would recommend everyone get either a BS or BA as quickly and as cheaply as possible (I don't think highly of associates degrees) and then focus on building work experience. Only pursue advanced degrees if you know that the degree will yield a significant salary increase.

The whole do what you love thing is a trade off for most people. Only a few people will ever luck out and get a lucrative job that they love. Most people would be better off finding a job that they tolerate and that pays well enough for them to start building a life that they love.

There are several jobs that I could take and would make six figures at, but I would hate those jobs. And that hate would spill over into everything else in my life. I know this because I've worked those jobs before.

It takes a special personality type to work hard at a job you hate. I know people who have that personality and work at jobs that they hate. Outside factors (family to support, no perceived alternative job skills, student loans, etc.) also contribute a lot to them being there.

I also adamantly disagree with FMF's contention that hard work is the secret to success. Average work, knowing how the system runs and the ability to schmooze get you to the top. For an example of where hard work gets you, see Boxer in Animal Farm.

vga makes good points. Educate does not always get you where you want to be, in fact it rarely does. its more about who you know than what you know.

This whole thread of comments is great. It points out all the ways in which Yahoo's advice is clueless. Who wrote this list? Apparently people at Yahoo who made these choices and are hoping if they write this down it will all come true.

I agree with you-all -- this is advice only a Yahoo would follow. Have these folks ever heard of educational debt? Or tried to get a job with a shiny new online degree? FMF is right: work hard and deliver. A solid dose of thrift doesn't hurt either, when it comes to building net worth.

I have a master's that got me a few really good friends, but that is about it. I have never worked in the field, as there are no decent paying jobs in it.

I have a friend who is starting a Grad program in the Fall for a degree that will make her no more money (probably less in fact) than she does right now. At 36 this seems so silly to me, especially when she's stated to me that she feels like she would need to make twice what she's making now to get ahead. It's not like she's in a job she hates either. I don't get it.

I mean, I know that money isn't everything, but it sure helps. If I went back to school at this point, it would be for something that not only provided me with more income, but also more flexibility in terms of working for myself or working away from an office.

GREAT comments on this one. Now I am waiting for the other shoe to fall ...

Well, considering Yahoo was founded by two Stanford grad students doing something they loved, I'm not sure this stuff about education is so wrong. lol (I happened to know someone they dragged along into riches when they went public. He was a friend of theirs. Not a bad way to go if you ask me.)

I do think hard work is the path to riches, but I won't disagree with other commenters in that savviness, and schmoozing do help a lot.

I am a stone's throw away from making 6-figures doing nothing that resembles my education (geography and maps are only cursorily related). But having people skills, backed up by real job skills (technical, financial, etc) will lead a person to success.

I'd say work HARD, be persistent at your job/field and try to be THE best at what you do...that will lead to $$ and you'll only relly work THAT hard at something you like to do...I got a small public school MBA at age 28~ (via the Air Force as a young Lt.) - it helps but, I made low-mid six figures for 14 years by working for myself "as a self-emplyed indpendent contractor" where I could work hard and every "ounce of energy" put into work, meant more $$, I LOVED the work (financial planning/services) and enjoyed botht hte long hours, studies and compensation, THAT is far more self-serving than a "degree", NOTHING beats hard, hard work...and I'm retired at 47 too! If you WANT to earn six figures, the "easiest" way, where the jobs MOSTLY are are in SALES, go there and prosper...even high school graduates can make $100K+...selling cars!

If you are independent or on commission then you need to work hard, because your salary directly relates to your output. Even when you factor in the law of diminishing returns you're still going to get more money for every hour worked.

But if you are in the corporate 9-5 the rules change. Let's say you make 50K a year doing 40 hours a week. Going that extra mile and working 50 hours a week isn't going to increase your salary to 62.5K a year. In fact it isn't going to increase your salary at all. The best you can hope for is that it sets you up nicely for a promotion or raise. And sadly, this prospect is usually dependent more on the whims of others than your actual performance (although that helps).

If you want to climb the career ladder independently then work your tail off at something that has a good chance at becoming lucrative. It helps if you enjoy your work or at least tolerate it.

But if you want to climb the ladder working for corporations or institutions be prepared to think outside the box of hard work.

Those are usually ads sponsored by online education providers. The content may not come from Yahoo.

It's really not that hard to make six figures. Let see, given the right circumstances (in some it's easier than others)these careers can earn more than 100k: doctor, lawyer, nurse (RN, LPN or nurse practitioner), engineer (almost any kind with some experience), lawyer, plumber (master plumbers can make double 6 figures), electrician, auto mechanic (fast and well trained ones do well), sales (from cars to software and medicine the pay can be over 200k), consultant, teacher (for only 9 months of work!!), police officer, firefighter, military officer, elected official (with perks they can fly past $100K), accountant, deep sea diver (although the life expectancy is a bit low for my taste), general contractor (and they often have a really nice house too).

Not every person in thses fields will make 100k or more, but I know people (or know of people) in each of these professions who breaks 100k/year. Many require a college degree, but most of the people I know on this list have education that covers more than just 4 year degree (i.e. trade schooling, advanced learning in their field etc.).

1. Do what you love. (I.e., do it obsessively so that you become expert in your field and also will happily work insane hours.)

2. Be self-employed and/or start your own company. (I.e., be paid without a cut being taken out and/or take a cut of the fruits of others' labor.)

Worked for me! Earned $400K last year as a freelancer! And get tremendous tax deductions.

Doing what you love only works if a) you have talent for it b) there is a demand for this talent that outstrips the supply.

Otherwise, here is a classic example of someone who was doing what she loved obsessively: . At least this lady could afford it. We can see plenty of such examples today as well, but for me, nobody can beat Florence Foster Jenkins as a poster child for obsessively trying to do what she loved.

I have to say that in certain fields even having a talent doesn't mean you'll make any money. In virtually anything in arts and entertainment - from classical music to acting to dancing to pop - even having a talent doesn't guarantee being able to make a living, much less to earn 6 digits. Once upon a time I heard that if all actors and actresses left NYC, half of Manhattan restaurants would have to close for the shortage of waiters.

The red quote from Yahoo, is exactly why I never read Yahoo. Every single point is anywhere from useless to horribly wrong.

The points made above in the comments are good ideas for making money, the ideas from Yahoo are not even useful to a high schooler just trying to figure out where to begin.

You can make 6-figures a number of ways, and the advice is never the same, because the best way is going to depend on what a person can at least tolerate and successfully do. The slow and steady way will be through a profession (even medicine is slow, it takes a ridiculous amount of additional time and $ to get the big 6 figure salaries). The profession path is RISKY if you want to get to 6-figures quickly, there is no easy way to do it, since this is the path the masses take. The fast, but harder to jump into way, is to do it independently. Most of the tax benefits go towards those who take the path least trodden (putting aside those in poverty).

I agree with some of these. I hope to go the MBA route.

i mooch off of my girlfriend..i make about $5,000/yr doing this and i love what i do! However, I just got accepted into the electric union and after my apprenticeship is complete, i will earn $49/hr !! I am gonna get my girl into my union, and then quit, and mooch off of HER $49/ THAT'S a plan. Being a Professional Mooch has its drawbacks though, my girl constantly throws it in my face. It makes me sad.

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