A few weeks ago, a reader asked me to post about the evolution of my income during my career. Since I have a pretty short work history (I only started working back in 2003!) I hadn’t thought about writing such an article. But when you think about it, I have been able to grow my income by 586% in 8 years, from $30K to $176K in 2011.
Did I start to sell drugs in the process?
Did I work over 60 hours a week for 5 years before hitting the jackpot?
Did I have to be a brown-noser?
No way Jose!
So how the hell I was able to grow my income faster than a 15 year old footballer eats a double pepperoni medium pizza? Keep reading, you’ll get the answer 😀
2003 – $30,000 – $37,000
I finished my bachelor degree in finance & marketing in 2003. At that time, I was able to get a cool job as a clerk in the back office of a trading firm. My job sounded cool at first as I was dealing with traders to “clear” their trades at the end of the day. It was in the stock options and futures department (also called derivatives). But the sad truth is that it was boring me to death! I could have been asked to paint stop signs red and it would have been more fun! All I did all day was balance numbers in an excel spreadsheet and was desperately waiting for the clock to hit 5pm!
After 6 months only, I quit my job and watched TV for 2 weeks until I found a better job for a better salary (from 30K to 37K) in a bank.
2004 – $47,000
The start of 2004 was a great adventure as I started it by being in charge of a $25M RRSP loan campaign. I was in charge of making sure that everything ran smoothly and that all the loans were approved and disbursed on time. As I didn’t have many employees under me, I did the whole job and was working 14 hour days with no breaks (literally, people were dropping food and coffee on my desk so I didn’t die). I was looking like those Chinese zombies who play World of Warcraft non-stop.
2 months of work that gave me my first raise (from $37,000 to $42,000) along with a $5,000 bonus at the end of the year. Man, I was almost at $50K after only 2 years on the market.
I really liked where I was working back then so I continued to hustle hard. My biggest strength was that I was able to do my job and then find ways to improve our processes within my work week (which was 37.5hrs/week at that time). Therefore, I earned my first promotion (with another raise to a base salary of $48,000). My boss liked me a lot because all those improvements in his department were making him look good big time. He was a nice guy so he was sharing the wealth and gave me a lot of tricks to go higher.
One of them was to get all my tuition fees paid my employer. This is how I got my stock trading license along with my financial planner courses  paid.
Another year, another promotion. This time, I was promoted as the senior of my team. This came with a hefty salary raise (up to $52,000) along with a bigger bonus at the end of year ($9,000). I really like this year at work because I was adding a lot of responsibilities and I was invited to all kinds of important meetings with the big bosses. I was about to join the “big guys” one day. This is when I realized that my sacrifices and hard work started to pay off. I was now known by VPs and my name was getting around.
A year later, I was starting to get bored. I realized that being the senior of my team wasn’t only about its advantages. On the other hand, some people were getting jealous and I didn’t have many friends there anymore. While work became another synonym for routine, I had the great opportunity to go on my first week long business trip.
To date, this was one of the best professional experiences I have ever lived. I had the opportunity to go visit much of British Columbia speaking with many very interesting individuals. But when I came back from this trip, I got the bad news that our bank held a lot of commercial paper (also known as ABCP) and that our bonus was going to be cut big time. So even if I had a salary increase that year, my overall income almost stagnated for the first time. I was due for a change!
I didn’t tell most people in my entourage but the real reason why I quit my job at the bank to become a financial planner in 2008 was because I didn’t win a contest at the end of 2007! I know, I can be a big baby sometimes, but I really deserved to win that darned contest. This is why I decided to change jobs in the middle of my MBA .
It was a really hard year for me; I had to adapt to new colleagues, new systems and a new job while finishing my MBA. On top of that, it had to be the worst year on the stock market for the past 50 years! Anyways, this job change didn’t bring me much in terms of income and I didn’t perform well enough (I had only 6 months to add assets to my book). This is why I finished the 2008 year with the smallest bonus I have ever had: $2,300!
While 2008 was really rough, 2009 was life changing for me. I was performing like there was no tomorrow and I finished the year at almost 200% of my objectives. In the meantime, I finished my MBA and asked for a sizeable raise due to my performance and my new degree. I was becoming a pillar employee in my branch and the manager wanted to keep me on his side.
This is the first year where I started to combine my online income to my day job in order to break the 6 figure income  for the first time in my life (at the age of 28!). While my online income wasn’t that much at the time, it was just enough for me to bump up my total income in the major leagues.
The biggest change in 2009 was not about my income; it was about how many hours I had to work to make it. In 2009, I started working 4 days a week , so 30 hours a week at my day job. It gave me more time to spend with my family and to work on my online company.
2010 was literally a continuation of the past 2 years as I completed a second year in a row with 200% of my objectives. The bonus was similar (roughly 33K) but I was able to negotiate another income raise based on my past performance. In addition to that, the benefits earned from my online company started to increase at that time.
My partner and I decided to pay me for my full day of blogging at the same rate I was earning at my day job (bonus excluded obviously!). This was one of the best decisions we ever took as the business has grown way faster since then. With less than 10 hours/week, we were able to make it grow significantly.
There is not much difference between 2010 and 2011 while the income is larger. In fact, 2011 is definitely the sum of all the good decisions I have made over the past 8 years:
– Getting my CFP title
– Completing my MBA with honours
– Moving towards a job where the bonus is linked to my performance
– Working 4 days a week to become more productive at work
– Giving awesome service to my clients
– Concentrating on my online business to generate a steady flow of income
– Focusing on value added actions instead of doing what I had to do
2011 is my ultimate proof that when you have a solid plan and work on it for several years, the sum of your actions generates exponential results.
In 2012, I’m not expecting to make as much as 2011. I think this will be my record year for a few years to come. As I mentioned in my 2012 financial goals , my objective will be to pay off debts and take care of myself. I’ve reached very high level of income quite fast without having to work numerous hours (remember, I worked 30hrs/week at my day job in 2011).
I think that the most important part is to do things that you love. This is how you can make money and crush it like I did. My ultimate goal is to stick to the 6 figures without having to work much. I am not aiming for a 250K or 300K salary even though I now know that I could eventually get there. I would rather have a low 6 figure income and enjoy life now instead of waiting desperately until retirement to enjoy it!