One of my favorite pastimes watching programs that explore how people of different backgrounds spend and budget their money. This is how I came across a YouTube video from CNBC that centered on a man who ended up in sanitation due to the COVID-19 pandemic [watch video here]. Anthony’s story is a humbling one of how he went from graduating from a Florida university with sky-high ambitions to where he is today. At the peak of his career, he was making over $90k annually. Now, he makes under $50k. During the 7-minute video he shared some important money lessons that we could all benefit from. Here are 3 important money lessons from a NYC sanitation worker.
Save For Emergencies
Anthony had many experiences before he ended up in sanitations. He worked in real estate, wine imports and finally in 2016 he worked on Broadway. Unfortunately, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020 he lost his job. Anthony was unemployed for over a year but was able to sustain himself with his emergency fund. With money he had saved in prior years, he was able to sustain himself until he got his current job.
The number 1 financial lesson for the past two years is the economy is unpredictable. The best way to prepare for this unpredictability is to have an adequate emergency fund. The adequacy of this fund of course depends on your lifestyle. When it comes to emergency funds, the amount you put away will depend on you. Most resources recommend saving the equivalent of 3 – 6 months’ worth of expenses. Personally, I strive to maintain 6 months of after-tax income in my emergency fund.
Anthony has a pretty good attitude considering his misfortune. This is a good thing. Life happened and he adjusted well to survive. In fact, he seemed to be thriving. Many people struggle day to day because of their rigidity. When life events disrupt your financial plans, the best way to handle it is to be flexible. In my experience, many of these disruptions present opportunities if you are willing to look at the situation from a more positive point-of-view. What you perceive to be a step back could be the push forward into the life you’ve always wanted. Being flexible is an important money lesson from an NYC sanitation worker.
Secure A Pension
Some may look at Anthony and thing he’s settling for less. However, he has what everyone in the private sector really wants. He has job security. Historically, government jobs are more secure than private jobs. The government has less layoffs during economic downturns and is more transparent about salaries and promotion. But the best benefit that Anthony has is a pension. So, after a certain number of years in sanitation, he will be entitled to a guaranteed sum of money when he retires.
In summary, regardless of your financial situation or unforeseen setbacks, you can still make the most of any situation. Anthony did it and so can you. There is probably much more that we can learn from a sanitation worker, however there are the important money lessons from a NYC sanitation Worker.
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