We often look at the lifestyles of our top execs and CEOs – mega salaries, great homes, expensive cars, first class travel – what’s not to like!

So for some, how does it all go so terribly wrong?

I have helped people earning more than a million a year in salary, a great lifestyle but surprisingly no savings and a crippling amount of debt. It took one share downturn, an illness, or losing their job, and like dominos, it all came tumbling down.

I often spoke to execs who always said that whenever they get that next salary increase, that’s when they would start saving but it just never happened. Their salary went up but so did their lifestyle to match.

Whatever your salary is there are a few fundamental rules we all need to follow, but for those on very high salaries and workloads to match, there are some unique characteristics that when they fall, they fall hard. They tend to make these five major financial and life mistakes:

1. They spend more than they earn

Anyone who is in business knows cash is king. If your expenses are more than your revenue, you won’t stay in business long. People are starting to realise more and more how important getting your own personal cashflow in order is number one regardless of salary. Just because you are now earning a million dollars in salary, you still have the same problems as if earning $50,000 – if you spend more than you earn, don’t have a plan, and don’t break that cycle – nothing will change, and you will always run out of money.

2. They are time poor, not with work but life

This is a major issue and for many, don’t realise it till years later. These are very busy people, and so usually end up being time poor. Not time poor when it comes to their career, but with life, as usually their career leaves very little time for anything else.

Let’s face it, apart from our career, we also have family, friends, spirituality, health, fun as well as our finances to fit in. There are only 24 hours in the day so no wonder things fall through the cracks.

Many people I looked after, while I could help with their finances, they needed to equally work on their work/life balance as many had lost touch with friends and family as always at work. Often they would say, they worked long hours so they could provide a better lifestyle for their family but always, years later, the number one regret is that they wish they had worked less so they could have spent more time with their family.  

3. They take on large amounts of debt

When people with money lose it all, it’s usually because they borrowed way more than they could afford to pay back. With higher salaries, banks tend to lend much more than to the average salary earner. They want the best house in the best suburb, they want to have the best car, and so leverage as if their income will never stop.

Borrowing they say helps them build assets but most of the time, they are not the right assets. They are more for lifestyle (car, boat, mega TV etc). The right assets are those that will grow over time and provide a consistent income stream.

4. They listen to the wrong people

When you don’t have time to research, it’s easy to think the next Get Rich scheme is all too appealing. There are no shortage of people at work and others telling you of the next big thing and what you should invest in. The people selling these schemes are also targeting people with money and sometimes forget that when something seems too good to be true, it probably is!

Advisers, consultants or coaches who provide a fee for a service and have no vested interest in the product they recommend or sell, makes so much more sense in life, not just in investment.

In my book and in the resource page of my website I include helpful links on how to find an adviser.

5. No safety net

When things are going great, we often think bad things will only ever happen to the next person, not us. Our clients always have a safety net in place as part of any good plan and it’s no surprise that when life presents an emergency it not only threatens your financial wellbeing, but also your physical wellbeing. If you are living without a safety net (an emergency nest egg and appropriate insurance for example), you are resting on a financial edge – hoping to get by without a financial crisis. This is simply gambling with your future.


So how can we all learn from this.

Whether you’re earning a mid-range salary or mega salary, firstly we all need to live within our means, have enough to save, and have a safety net in place in case things go wrong.

We need to understand there are only 24 hours in the day, so if we can outsource or get help when it comes to our money, it’s going to give us more time to focus on what we love. Just because you are earning a huge salary and may even know this stuff, you should have better things to do with your time. In saying this, if you do seek help or get advice, make sure you speak to the right people, those without a vested interest.

Finally, it’s about balance, having a long-term plan, and getting your priorities right when it comes to work and life. Working hard is not a problem but just make sure those extra hours to keep a boss happy who in two years will have moved on, is not at the expense of missing out on seeing your kids grow up, making sure your health stays right, and outsourcing your financial long-term planning – as simply, you have better things to with your time.

If this does sound like you, take action today and if not sure where to turn to, contact me as happy to discuss.


Article by Marc Bineham – Money coach, speaker and award-winning author of The Money Sandwich