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Jack Falvey's Investor Education Briefs: What counts is how much you keep

June 10. 2018 5:23PM

A MAJOR benefit of being self-employed is being able to legally keep more of what you earn than those working for others. That can be true even when you add on the Social Security self-employment tax.

The same can be true for working hours. Working more than eight hours a day is common. Being able to select which eight hours and vary them to taste is becoming more common. Inside, right-to-work or a closed union shop governs the cost of labor and may determine the competitiveness of where you work and how much is yours for keeps.

Big-company perks may well be worth the sale of your working soul when you add them up. Junior employees often strike a good bargain for themselves when they go big, get some training and development from a name recognition outfit, and then, for whatever reason, fail to make the 36-month cut. They leave with a pedigree that well could be worth the three-year investment. If they were paying attention, they could have a lifelong set of industry contacts as an additional departure bonus.

Those with variable income plans run the risks of the ups and downs of business cycles, but several up years may be all that is required to build a solid personal financial base that those on a salary scale will be unable to match.

If and when friends get into seven-figure net worth numbers, there is no reason to be green with envy if you are earning enough green to keep the wolf from the door and a little extra. A little personal research will usually uncover the fact that although the grass is indeed greener in the other yard, what it took to make it so may be far beyond the price you would be willing — or even able — to pay.

Being rich and famous looks good on paper, and to those buying lottery tickets. A more realistic look well could indicate that you may be able to lead a life a lot closer to their levels than you ever imagined if you will just keep a little more of what you earn and do so for a little longer than most.

Jack Falvey is a frequent contributor to the Union Leader, Barron’s and The Wall Street Journal. He can be contacted at

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