I see more new people coming into this site posting about how to get started, what they should do etc. That is all great, and would have been really nice early-on, so I thought I would share advice that everyone should have heard at the beginning.
Please add your own advice in the comments, and as always, feel free to tear mine apart.
Live off of your base salary and forget that you ever make commission. When you move up positions, your lifestyle can change based off of the salary increase that you get, but never get stuck in the trap of chasing commissions to pay bills. I see it all of the time!
There are three different types of people that I have seen in my career.
The Flashy Spenders:
These guys and gals spend everything that they make. I have seen several reps who make 3x what they did 3 years prior and have no more money in their accounts. They still can't afford a down payment on a house, and they are always talking about when the payday comes that includes commission. This guy always dresses in new clothes, always goes out to dinner, lives in an expensive apartment and drives a new car. These guys see huge lifestyle swings in their career, and jump ships more than the regular sales person. This life is fun sometimes, but sucks royalty long-term. You need an exit strategy and this is not it.
The Upper Middle Class Dad:
This guy does not spend all of his money. He is fully vested in the 401k, goes to all of the happy hours, but uses free drink tickets. He has 3 nice revolving outfits. Lives in a nice house drives a nice car, and takes care of his family. Sometimes this guy will splurge on a trendy stock that he will hold for a while. This guy will be in sales for the rest of his life. Will probably be a Director, but never a VP. He will stay at the same company for longer periods of time, because downswings in the market hurt, but it doesn't affect his lifestyle. Being this guy is pretty good and a good way to live as a salesman. This guy will retire setup to take care of himself and not have to worry too much on his fixed budget.
Rich Dad Poor Dad Sales Guy:
To be this guy, you should read the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad. This is the guy that I have tried to be. It is by far the less stressful and the most fruit-full. I have worked with a couple of these guys and have a good friend who is also one of these guys. In sales you have the opportunity to become independently wealthy in a short time period. This guy lives off of his salary and invests the rest in other areas that give him a return. The guys that I know own several rental properties that produce income every month. My buddy is 39 years old and owns over 20 rental properties. All of which were purchased by making a down payment or cash from commission that he didn't need to pay his bills. He has never made more than $200k, but after 14 years in sales is worth over $5M. He still works as a sales rep selling a CRM, but has two full-time employees doing property maintenance, and owns a clothing store that has several other employees. There is been no difference in income from this guy and the first guy from sales. But this guy can walk away at anytime and retire, while the first guy will live the rest of his life stressed and probably divorced.
There is a huge opportunity in sales to set yourself up for the rest of your life. The only person that you need to impress is the person that files your taxes, because at the end of the day the rest will only dig you a hole and squander the opportunity that you never knew you were going to have. Good luck, and I hope to see you in early retirement!