You can learn your financial lessons the easy way or the hard way. Professionals in a variety of fields told us about career-related financial advice they were glad they took.
Don't worry about salary at first.
"Right out of college I had the choice to take a job I knew wasn't the right fit for me, or to hold out for something I was really excited about. I took the job and ended up leaving after just a couple months for a position with 60% pay cut. I was much happier and through a series of unexpected twists and turns, started my own business as a result of my choice to follow my heart, rather than what I thought I should do."
Michael Kaiser-Nyman CEO & Founder, Impact Dialing
Don't undercut your rate.
"When I began my first business people haggled over the fees we charged. Sometimes I gave in. No more giving away services (hours) for free! In the same way I cannot go to a restaurant and order steak but say I can only pay for a salad. Understanding that and not feeling bad about it has helped my business grow and be more successful."
Sabina Ptacin, president, Red Branch Public Relations; founder, PRENEUR
Create a career financial cushion.
"Build your bank account beyond retirement savings so you can say yes to career opportunities. Too many professionals turn down or don't pursue their dream job because they can't afford the pay cut. With a career financial cushion you can take advantage of opportunities that might not pay as much."
Kelly Hoey, self-employed strategic advisor, New York City
Invest in the company IRA it adds up.
"While we were dating in college my boyfriend insisted that I start investing in a Roth IRA. I didn't know much about investing at the time, but I opened an account to shut him up. I have been investing in my future ever since. You think you'll miss the money, but you don't. Every time I get a raise, I increase the percentage of my contribution."
Nicole Berman, Director of marketing and communications, The Pankey Institute
"I didn't spend on anything I didn't absolutely need when I was trying to pay something off. I own my company outright because I have such strong credit and little outstanding debt."
Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation
Benefits can be more important than salary.
"The best advice I was ever given, and what I tell my candidates, is that benefits can be worth more than salary - especially health insurance. I had one candidate take a $20,000 cut in pay and he still netted more than with his former employer because my client's health insurance was superior to what he had."
Bruce Hurwitz, recruiter, Hurwitz Strategic Staffing, New York, NY
Balance your checkbook.
"When I was a young staff accountant a CPA supervisor said she reconciled her personal checking account to the penny every month. I put my checking account on a simple Excel spreadsheet and I reconcile my checking account a couple times a week. I have caught identity theft attempts and I have tracked and controlled my spending in the process. I'm also able to quickly summarize my spending for taxes."
Ken Stalcup, manager, Somerset CPAs
Ask for the raise.
"A friend who has been promoted five times in as many years said the people who get promotions and raises (besides being the people who work hard) are the people who ASK for them. It's true. And women are far less likely to ask than men. So get on it ladies."
Arielle Angel, co-founder of Ketuv.com