I wanted to just give you a quick note about spending. (If you don’t want to hear me talk about expenses then scroll down to the videos below!) So many new tower workers are going to start making better money than they have before. This is a job where you will get your pay and per diem. I don’t think many companies will allow workers to expense meals, they offer daily per diem, based on where you are working. Per Diem is a daily rate to cover your living expenses, normally meals. Hotels are generally expensed unless you are a contractor, then you probably pay for all of your expenses.
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I know most of you are already angry that I am trying to tell you what to do with your money, I am not. If you want to spend it all every week, that’s fine. I just want to offer you some advice I got from living on the road. Also, if you are broke in 10 years because you partied every night, I don’t want to hear you whine. There is so much bitterness already, why add to it with complaining about your poor habits.
So when you start making some money take the time to think about what you are going to do with it. If you spend all of your per diem then you will have to dip into your own pocket to pay for whatever is above and beyond. I see so many workers say that they spend their per diem on beer. That’s fine but when the bill is more than your per diem then you are wasting money.
Often we need money ASAP, it is not an easy thing. It’s like losing weight, we all want to see the results immediately, but it takes time to do it right. To stay healthy we need to invest in exercise every day and eat right every day. To have money you need to be smart with your money every week. It doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it once in a while, you just need the smart decisions to outweigh the bad ones most of the time. Buy what you want, just do it wisely.
Personally I think if you can spend less than your per diem then you will have a slight edge over most people. You may be able to put more money aside. So many people travel and get into party mode. This can become a habit and the next thing you know at the end of the month you may not have enough for the rent or mortgage.
I have been there, I was just not smart with my money. With age comes wisdom and we learn about priorities. I am only trying to offer some advice based on my mistakes. I won’t get into telling you how to build a budget. You will need to figure out what your priorities are. I only want you to think about where your money goes. If you have been doing this for 10 years and only have scars to show for it, then maybe it’s time to plan better.
When you get your paycheck, look it over and figure out how to break it out for each expense you have. Most people have car payment, mortgage or rent, maybe child support, all the expenses with living. If you live with your parents, many do, then put as much money aside for when you want to buy your house or a car. I am a fan of saving what I can.
So much money slips through your hands, on things like fast food. When you travel it’s all that available many times. Just be smart with your per diem, be smart with your paycheck. I don’t blame you for eating, but look at your spending. If you are buying crap that is a waste of money, think before you buy next time. Sometimes you may spend more on food, but if you get better food then you won’t be hungry again in an hour.
If you buy tools, buy tools that you will use. If you are buying a big tool think of the payback. When you buy a work truck, think of how it will be used and what you will be hauling and of the gas mileage. It matters.
Next time you go out to have a few drinks with your buddies think about a budget ahead of time. Don’t spend all of your money in one night. Especially if it is literally all of your money. Your friends should understand if you are honest with them.
If your company offers a 401K and they match it, I suggest you put in what they match. Why not, you will want to retire someday. Why not put away what you can. You should save as much as you can. However, don’t put it all in a retirement fund, it is smart to put some of it in savings or a CD or somewhere where you can access it in case of an emergency.
A few notes:
- Try not to lend too much money to co-workers. That usually ends badly.
- Try not to buy a fancy work truck if you use it for work, they get beat up quickly. Fancy versus practical, practical should always win. Trust me, when you buy fancy and something falls on it, it really hurts.
- Spend per Diem wisely! Try not to spend more than you get in a week. The less you spend the more you save. However, you have to eat, so make sure you eat well so you have strength and energy.
- Your boss may care for you, but the company cares about the bottom line. For all of you that think the company will take care of you, I hope they do. The reality is that if the work stops, they will not hesitate to lay you off or let you go. It’s not fair and it sucks, but that’s the way it is. Think about this when you are stashing money away. The company will ask you to be loyal and have you sign non-competes, but will they be loyal to you? Maybe, maybe not.
- If you pay child support, this is a priority. If you don’t pay, they will track you down and take it from your paycheck. If they take it from your pay then that’s one more thing that you need to explain when getting hired.
- Take care of yourself, you matter. Be safe on the job site but be healthy off of the job site. Only you will take care of you. Good habits really help you and your body become better with age.
Per Diem site to look up regional rates. http://www.gsa.gov/portal/category/100120.
Listen, bad things happen, the better prepared you are then maybe it will help you get through a rough patch. I talk to so many people who prepare and they still have a tough time. I am just trying to help you think through your life and plan for the good and the bad.
Tell me what you would do better!
And now some videos that may help you know that you are not alone in this job.
Cell tower installation:
Studio link installation:
Removing a 900 lb 12’ microwave dish (great video):
Measurements on STL tower:
Microwave Dish alignment:
FYI – OSHA Tower website: https://www.osha.gov/doc/topics/communicationtower/index.html
NATE has announced their new Tower Family Foundation! It will launch September 10, 2014.