5.31.2012

Are Your Kids Good Investments?

This post was inspired by my mother. We were exchanging emails as we normally do throughout the day, and I jokingly asked her if she wanted to pay for my next seat deposit, which is due tomorrow. I just paid for my first deposit a few weeks ago and I also have to buy a new laptop since my macbook won't be compatible with a lot of the programs I'll need.

I ended the email with, “Say hello to your 3rd child, again.” 

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We were laughing because she thought she was done with me after I moved out for college and after I started working full-time. I've been supporting myself 100% for the past few years so it seems so uncanny and weird that I'm moving back in.

Am I A Great Investment?

I proceeded to tell her that I was actually a really great investment since I’m the oldest of their three children (my brother is 15 and my sister is 12), and I told her that when they retire, I’ll be the one helping out financially because my siblings will be focusing on starting their careers and starting their families. We have a huge age gap so I wonder if they've analyzed this and thought of us three as investments. 

I honestly don't expect her to pay for anything so it was more of a funny email. She was joking around saying that she would save this email because it meant that I was offering to fund their vacations while they are retired. Yeah.....right!

This brings me to my next question…

When Do Parents Decide to Stop Investing in Their Kids?

For myself, I don’t have any kids, but I plan to. I’ve already decided to start a 529 education fund for them as soon as I can. I want to give everything I can, but at the same time, I have to focus on myself and retirement. I don’t want to burden them with my finances and debt when they are older. 

I want them to live a comfortable life, but at the same time, I want them to experience things such as the actual cost of living and how much rent is, how much of their paycheck goes to food and clothes, and just how to manage their finances.

Look at me, talking like I already have kids! Lol.

I have no idea what it will feel like or what I will be thinking...so I'm curious to know what other parents think or what you would do once you have children.

Obviously you have to "invest" as much as possible in your children when they are younger, but just how much and how far would you go to give them what they need? Where do you draw the line between a need and a want for your child?

Do People Actually Have Kids Based on Whether They Will Be Good Investments?


My BF and I talk about this all the time. I know some children are accidents and are not planned for, but for most, a lot of planning is involved. You talk to your partner about raising kids and you both have to agree to have kids (most of the time).


We talk about our future a lot and it's always hard to get a good perspective of the future. You never know where you'll be. You don't know how much money you'll have, but it seems like the "right" thing to do is to start a family. The ultimate goal for us, seems to be that we want to have a family and raise them to be the very best they can be.


We have talked about kids as investments though. Just the mere fact of having children. Would we be better off with 4 kids so they can help us out with chores later? Lol. Would we be better off with 1 child so that we won't have to spend a lot?


When you had kids, did you think to yourself...well how much will they really cost? Is this a good financial investment for me? Or did all that practical thoughts just escape your head because the emotional reward oversteps the financial rewards?

Would you think of your children as investments? Would you try to see who was the better investment? Would you invest in all of your kids equally?



Tablet Time New iPad or $540 Cash

5.29.2012

How to Prepare for a Financial Transition

First things first - I finally got my own domain!!! Yesssss! I'm finally a real blogger now! If you can please update your links to http://www.fromshoppingtosaving.com, I'd greatly appreciate it. :) The blogspot address will still redirect you to the new address though. My Alexa ranking is gone now, but it still shows my blogspot Alexa ranking on the side with the widget. Not sure how this works. To celebrate the new(ish) domain, I created a new header. I obviously had too much time this weekend and played around with Photoshop for a bit. Let me know if it's too annoying and I will try something else.

Now onto my post... 

I have a really hard time dealing with change. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a naturally emotional person and I get attached too quickly, but this always happens. The funny part is that the only consistent thing in my life has been change. I’m sure you can all agree and have heard this phrase before.

Once I get comfortable in a certain situation, I get so attached that it becomes hard for me to leave. Whether I’m leaving family, friends, boyfriend, a school, a certain class with a good professor, a job, a living situation, a city…I always have trouble saying good-bye, and it almost always involves crying. You’d think I was used to this by now, but nope – every time I have to say good-bye, a wave of sadness hits me hard.

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Since I’ll be quitting my job soon and leaving my BF in lieu for a long distance relationship and a brand new start at a new school, I’m finally delving into preparation for this huge transition in my life. Since I can’t really prepare myself for the emotional toll this change is going to take on me, I want to make sure that my financial priorities are still under control and that I am fully prepared to deal with them.

I initially wrote this up as what I need to do to prepare for my future financial transition, but I decided that this applies to everyone and I have made this into a more general guide to dealing with a financial transition – we all go through them, although you may not realize it! 


I’m defining a financial transition as a new change that occurs and directly affects the way you handle your finances.

Whether you are dealing with extra income, a pay raise, a new job, a baby, funneling savings into a new fund, or buying a new item, we all have to transition into that new situation smoothly.



Here are some tips that will help prepare you for a financial transition (including my analysis of my financial transition):

Evaluate: Seriously evaluate the situation. What will the effects this transition will have on you, your other goals, and your future goals?

Quitting my job and living with my parents again is something that I think about all the time. In fact, it doesn't leave my brain ever. BF and I talk about this a lot and I think that as long as we're talking about it and we are still in agreement with our future goals, everything should be fine. We are both in agreement that this change is for the best, and it will help both of our futures.

Prioritize: Now that you know what you’re up against, try to prioritize what’s important to you. With transitions, there’s usually something new that pops up and interrupts the normal flow of how things work.

For me, saving for retirement and saving is still a huge goal that I do not want to lose sight of. I will be taking out the minimum amount of loans, and I will be living frugally to stay on course. My relationship is also another priority, and we have talked about how we will deal with the change. BF knows that school is #1 so I'm glad he understands, but I think we will have to communicate more in-depth about how I may not get to talk to him sometimes or see him as often as I'd like.

Negotiate: I added this in here because negotiating is important in anything we do, whether it’s to lower your APR rate on a credit card or to do what I did and ask for something (in my case, scholarship money, but it can be anything really). I think negotiating is crucial in daily life and something we should all remember to do to make sure we are getting the best deal/offer.

I've been negotiating for scholarship money from the school and I am in the middle of another negotiation with them. My next step is to research private loans and compare them to the federal loans that I am being offered. I'll see if I can do any negotiating in this aspect. Other items that I've been negotiating includes parental assistance...I'll get to that on another post. I'm pretty excited about it.

Take Advantage of Assistance: Assess your resources and think of what this new change will bring with it. Sometimes we forget that we have a lot of help out there that is waiting for us to jump in and utilize it. New job? Check out the benefits and voluntary benefits you can participate in. New school? Check out the resources they offer like free gym access and reduced health insurance.

I've already looked into the health insurance offered by the school since I'll be losing my work benefits. My mom also offered to add me to her insurance through her work, so I'll be covered until I'm 26. That leaves one more year and I think that I will take the school's health insurance for my last year of law school. The school also has great resources such as access to their gym facility.

Build a System: We’re wayyyy ahead of the game at this point. You’re prepared and you know what this change will bring with it. It’s time to devise a plan of attack for when this change hits you, or if it already has – now is the time to draw out a plan to deal with it. If you have extra income, time to disburse it into your budget. If you have a new baby, time to budget in those costs or prepare for baby’s future with an education fund. Whatever the change may be that brought you to this financial transition, this step is important for your future financial well-being.

I'll do a separate blog post on this but I have already begun on my frugal student budget that I will be really strict with once I start school. I'm also selling items to make sure that my emergency fund is maxed out to the fullest it can be at this point. I will also be looking into my bank account to make sure that I won't get hit with any minimum balance fees, and I need to stop automatic contributions to my roth IRA. I'm keeping all of retirement money in there though because I want to get back to saving for retirement right away when I graduate.

Stay Active: Something that I always have to remember is that I can’t just “set it and forget it” (unless I’m automating my finances or something). Don’t let all the planning ahead go to waste! I think this is where a lot of us get stuck in a rut. We sometimes fail to remember why we put so much thought and effort into this new system. Just stay active in whatever it was you were prepping for.

Be Flexible: Know that this plan isn’t set in stone. We’re already dealing with the financial transition so you may have missed something or again, things may change. Lots of unexpected events can happen and it’s okay. Just say to yourself, “I got this!” because you do. Maybe this applies to me moreso than others haha but I just have to remind myself to be flexible.

Know Your Roots (aka The Big Picture): This last one sounds silly but it’s important to stay true to who you are. Although change brings something fresh and new, don’t stray off too far. Know what your goals are and make sure you are staying aligned with these goals. Focus on the big picture and find a way for this new change to supplement your current life.

These last three items are all on my list of stuff to remember when I make the transition. I'd like to think that I'm always thinking about the bigger picture since I think of my future a lot. I'm not sure how I'll react to new changes, but I will remember to try to stay flexible and active in making good choices.

Has anyone else been through a financial transition or is anyone anticipating one? Did you implement these steps?

5.27.2012

PF Link Love: Fave Reads of the Week and Life Updates

Today is Sunday but it feels like a Saturday since I have no work tomorrow!! Yessss... I think I am in love with this day.

Anyway, this week was another great week in PF blog land, and as Jordann mentioned on Twitter, there's just so many great posts and so little time. Thanks everyone for linking up some of my recent posts lately! I've been finding a lot of great posts through Twitter and new blogs, it's so hard to keep up. Twitter is awesome in a sense that you can learn more about people and interact with them much more quickly than just blogging/commenting. It definitely feeds my instant gratification addiction. Anyone else addicted to Twitter?

Where I've been this week:
Life Updates

This past week, I also received a 60% scholarship to the last law school I was waiting to hear back on. I'm still in the middle of figuring out what to do, but I'll share a separate post on this topic... it's way too long! Thanks everyone for helping me out so far and listening to this whole saga. It's crazy how many decisions I've had to make just within these past 3 months!

We also did not get the condo we put an offer on. Remember how we offered $180k and list price was $167k? Obviously we were beaten out by cash, again! The universe is telling us it's not meant to be. At this point, I've gone through a lot of disappointments this year but I'm learning that it's because the timing is just not right. I'll accept that. For now we (errr, just BF since I'm quitting soon) will continue to keep saving for a down payment and I'll just focus on school.

I went to visit my dad and stepmom yesterday and had prime rib and jumbo shrimp! My dad and I were talking and I learned something new about my family history. My last name starts with an I, but apparently my grandpa changed our last name from starting with a Y to an I because he was tired of being the last person to get his paycheck. Apparently they got their paychecks in alphabetical order. I can't believe I just found this out. So cool right?

PF Link Love: Fave Reads of the Week


I've been babbling for too long... here's what you came here for!


Why Debt Repayment Schedules are a Load of Crap by My Alternate Life


Stay at Home Mom vs. Returning to Work: A Cost Analysis at Girls Just Wanna Have Funds


How to Simply Your Life by Add Vodka


A Perfectly Imperfect Marriage at Stratejoy


Getting a Second Job? by Making Sense of Cents


The Best Beauty Product in the World is Free by Budget and the Beach


The Effects of Student Loans on Credit Score by One Smart Dollar


Paying Off Student Loans (CONGRATS!) by Cult of Money


15 Things You Should Give Up to Be Happy by Step Away From the Mall


Broke, Desperate and Being an Idiot by Work Save Live


Dare to Share Your Passion by Blonde on a Budget


I'm Over Financial TMI by So Over Debt


Should You Buy a New or Used Car? by See Debt Run


Top 10 Financial Decisions Every Young Professional Should Make by Young Professional Finances


Creating New Revenue Opportunities Through Buying Established Websites by Modest Money


What to Do While You're Unemployed by Money Ning


Minimalism is Not for Me by Bog of Debt


Criticism by EEMusings


Can You Afford to Work? by My Money Design


Why I Took Out a 401k Loan by My Broken Coin


How to Win Scholarships by Money Life and More (a great read before you read my How to Negotiate Scholarship Money post!)

Why I Love Yard Sales by Your Life for Less


Why I Buy From the Farmer's Market by Frugal Portland


The Harsh Truth About Your Money by Money in the 20s


Tips that Will Help You Live a Better Life by Tackling Our Debt


Get What You Want by Travis at Care One Credit


Success Habits You Should've Mastered Before Finishing High School by Joyful Self Manager


I'm Sorry but I Don't Condone Illegal Business Practices by The Happy Homeowner


Stop Being Obsessed With Saving Every Penny by Dollarversity


Should You Stay in a Controlling Relationship? at Creative Money


I Am You at Positively Positive


Personal Finance GIFs: I'm a Blogger Edition (LOL love these) by Money After Graduation

5.25.2012

Guest Post! One and a Half Incomes: How I've Managed Money After Marriage

Happy Friday everyone! I've been doing a lot of guest posting lately and they've been popping up this week, so if you get a chance - please stop by Nick's blog Step Away From the Mall and check out my post The Fine Line Between Being Generous and An Idiot.

Today I have Edward talking about the unique way he manages finances with his wife, and how they avoid financial conflicts. I really enjoyed reading about the way they do their "budgeting" and how it works for them. All couples are different, so it's nice to see how people manage to avoid arguments over finances. I also like how he is so open with us!

We're participating in a blog swap, courtesy of the Yakezie forums (hosted by Newlyweds on a Budget) and we're all talking about the same topic today, so check out my posHow to Overcome Financial Conflicts with Your Partner on his blog if you're interested! :)

Edward is a construction worker, blogger, tinkerer (love that!), and a house-husband. He uses his experiences to create a unique viewpoint on life and money. Be sure to stop by his blog and say hello!

Fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce, and the leading cause of those divorces is money. There was a point early in my marriage where I thought I was headed for that statistic. I was out of work and we were broke. Even after I found work, it's only been temporary jobs and I make half as much as she does. I tell people that we live on one and a half incomes. Over time, we worked out a system to deal with my low pay and unsteady checks. Here is our system.

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I Let Her Do It

At first, I did the budget. It seemed like the sensible thing- let the guy with the Physics degree juggle the numbers. But there was one little word that kept tripping us up. That word was “no.” I have a pathological inability to say the word. I could write a whole other blog post about that. But whenever my wife wanted to buy something extra, or go out, she would ask if we could afford it and I would figure something out. Needless to say, we weren't getting ahead.

When we figured out that I was letting her buy things we couldn't afford, we switched. She controls the budget. If she wants to buy something, she checks the budget first. If I ask and we can't do it, she has no problem saying no. We still discuss big purchases, like the tv we got ourselves as a house-warming gift for our first house. But dinner? A night out? No need to get into a fight the day later because we couldn't afford it.

There is No Budget

My dirty little secret:
We don't actually have a budget.

At least, we don't have anything that most people would recognize as a budget. Instead, we have an ongoing cash-flow projection. We originally did this for a very pragmatic reason: to make sure that when a bill was going to be due mid month, there was actually going to be enough money in our checking account.

In most people's budgets, blowing the entire entertainment section in the first week simply means no more entertainment spending for the rest of the month. Back then, it could potentially mean the rent check bouncing. So we projected our account balance on a daily basis for three months at at time. As things changed, or included items were spent, we updated the spreadsheet.

Things aren't that tight anymore. We always make sure we have extra money in the checking account these days. But we still project our cash flow instead of using a more traditional budget.

The $1,000 Buffer

A I mentioned, we keep extra money in the checking account these days. $1,000.  Part of the reason is step 1 of Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover plan – have an emergency fund of at least $1,000.
It also gives us peace of mind, just in case there is a math error lurking somewhere, or some charge that we completely forgot about. This happened to me before I got married. I wrote a check for some fund-raiser and it took them 6 months to cash it. I went out for a friend's birthday and spent $100 that I thought I had, but actually was already spent.

That day, the fund-raiser finally cashed the check and I had 9 different debit card transactions over-draft. I spent an entire pay check on over-draft fees. I vowed never again.

And now we have a mechanism to make sure it doesn't.

Do you have any financial planning quirks that you've worked out for your relationship?

5.23.2012

A Boss's Guide for Productive Young Employees

Happy hump day! Before I get started today, check out my guest post on my friend Bridget's blog - Money After Graduation! I talk about salary perceptions and its effects. Go go go! :)

Just recently, I wrote a post about getting along with older co-workers. I was really excited to hear such great input and comments on that post, so thanks for adding to the discussion! I like hearing from every perspective and hopefully someone took away some info that may help them from that post. As a follow-up post, I'd like to talk about not just how older workers can get along with younger workers, because let's face it... it's not that hard to get along with a young person (at least I don't think it is?), but how bosses can get along better with their newer and possibly younger employees for more productivity.

Since I've worked all throughout college, sometimes working up to 30 hours a week on top of a full-time school schedule, I've had a lot of experience as the lowest paid and most unappreciated employee. I worked at a law firm with 6 attorneys and my job title was a File Clerk (aka Attorneys' slave), however I was doing so much more than that. I basically killed myself to please everyone. I gained invaluable experience and as much as I complained, I enjoyed every second of it. Even though the job itself was tiring, I had amazing colleagues that guided me and helped me in so many ways. I still keep in touch with them and I truly believe it's because of how great of a leader they all were.
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Here are some ways bosses can get more productive young and new employees:

  • If you're stressed, we're stressed. When you're stressed out, it's contagious. When you're yelling at us, we get frantic and start to panic. We know that if we mess up, it will reflect badly on you...so try to remain calm and know that we are there to help you.
  • "Thank you" and "Please" go a long way. I think this goes without saying but I know sometimes people may forget. Us young'ins would appreciate a boss more if they thanked us and said please. "Please do this" sounds so much better than "Hey, do this."
  • Positive reinforcement drives us to work harder. Like #2, it is nice to hear when we are doing a great job. It will make us strive to please you even more if you continue to let us know when we are exceeding your expectations.
  • Tell us when you don't like something. In addition to telling us when we are doing great, be sure to let us know when we're not. If we don't hear anything, we'll be uneasy or take it as a sign that we should continue doing our jobs the same way. Since we're eager to learn, if you tell us not to do something, chances are we will try to avoid it in the future.
  • Give clear and concise rules and expectations. Most often, I had great instructions and clear and concise ways to put together large projects. Especially if you are short on time, you don't want us to screw something really important up. Spend a bit more time explaining the rules and it will work out in your favor in the end so you don't end up redoing our work or having us redo it.
  • Define responsibilities. As a new employee that hasn't been in the workforce for a long time, we're sometimes not sure what we're supposed to do and we don't know when we are overstepping boundaries. It's probably a good idea to let us know what our duties are and what we should not be doing.
  • We can't read your mind. Some of the attorneys I worked with always thought I could read their minds. Apparently if they said one thing, they really meant something else - "Bark" actually meant "jump" - you get the picture.
  • We're human beings too. Even though we're younger or new, we still have families and other lives outside of work. Our lives don't revolve around work so it's nice to talk about other stuff once in awhile like hobbies and interests.
  • Know when to back off. Screaming at us over and over doesn't really work. It may relieve some stress for you but we may be crying inside. It's okay to keep bugging us for that project if we haven't finished it on time yet, but if the deadline is not even close and you keep piling on other projects, it may make us irritated and thus become less productive.
  • Remember that you are a leader/role model. A leader is someone that is looked up to and one that we respect. Know that your every move is being watched from the way you treat your employees to the way you carry yourself, and your work ethics. We'll remember you for a long time even though you may not remember us in the future.
  • Be willing to help. Although we are there to help our bosses, sometimes we do need help too! If you have the time to chip in or help, it would make both of our lives easier.
  • It will take time, but we'll get thereSince we are young and new, please don't expect us to change overnight and fit into the role of the position after a few days. It takes weeks and sometimes months to get adjusted to any new situation. We may make mistakes in the beginning but give us a chance to prove ourselves.
  • Put yourselves in our shoes. Try to remember what it was like entering the workforce for the first time and how nervous and scared you were, yet how willing and eager you were to learn.

Bosses play such an important role in the productivity of a company. I learned so much just by being under the wing of some fantastic leaders and role models. I was surprised at how much I learned about bosses just by being their employee. It also makes me appreciate what my current boss does, but at the same time I know what would probably make her a better boss.

This post was meant to be light-hearted and catered towards younger and newer employees, most often working in really low jobs. Mid-level managers may also benefit from this guide too!

Are you someone's boss? Do you have any other additions to add to this list? What do you do to create productive employees?

5.21.2012

PF Link Love: Fave Reads of the Week and The Condo Saga

It's that time of the week again! It looks like I'll be posting these weekly link love posts each Monday, for the previous week.

I always get caught up on weekends... and if you've noticed, I tend to stop tweeting and blogging/commenting on weekends because life gets in the way, and it's also nice to just step away from the computer. I always have my phone on me, but I find it rude when I'm around other people and they are constantly checking their phones, so I try not to do that. I already text a lot of people since all of my friends live far away from San Diego, so I try not to text and tweet all day. My boyfriend would probably go crazy! Although I try to post throughout the week, I feel like my weekly link love posts are great for sharing my life updates, so I'll be sharing random thoughts on these posts.

The Condo Saga Continues

This past week has been crazy. I've stopped looking at condos because as you all know, I'm quitting my job soon to go back to school. The last one we submitted an offer on was not accepted, and we REALLY loved that one, so we took a break. We still receive daily updates from MLS, and last Thursday BF found a really sweet place for $167k - 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom with a garage and backyard, all appliances included, laundry area, lowish HOA and no repairs needed. We went to go see it after work on Thursday and we love the neighborhood (near a school and in a huge family community) and the place itself. We actually submitted an offer on a place in this same neighborhood before, but it needed a ton of repairs. After much thought and consideration, we submitted a $180k offer to our realtor last night to present to the bank today (it's an REO).

BF and I discussed this so much this past weekend, I thought my head would explode. We know how much debt I'll be getting into because of school loans but we also know that if we don't try now, we'll be in a difficult position once I don't have a job. We calculated everything and we know that he can handle the mortgage with his income. After submitting a lot of offers, I like to think we've become pros at this whole process - whether it's a trad sale, investor flip, foreclosure or REO. It's crazy because we have no idea how quick they can close and I'll be quitting in just over a month. Who knows if we'll even get this place since we've been beaten out by investors the past few times. If we get this place, our plan is to rent it out for 3 years until I graduate. At that point, we will probably move in or continue to rent it out depending on where we are. The great part is that rent is lower than mortgage in the area, so if we rent it out - it will cover the mortgage and BF mentioned that we can focus on paying off my student loans, since they accrue interest as they are disbursed :( Anyway, I'll keep you guys posted, but I am hoping for the best!

PF Link Love: Fave Reads of the Week


Anyway, this past week was awesome once again in terms of writing and growth in the personal finance community.

Btw, happy birthday to Michelle! She's 23 today :) Now onto the faves!

Change is a Good Thing by Thirty Six Months

Blog Sale by Making Sense of Cents (Would love to do this!)

How We Saved Big Bucks on Our Home Remodeling Project by My Personal Finance Journey

When Do You Use Your Emergency Fund by Newlyweds on a Budget

Do Side Hustles Really Help You Make Money? by Tackling Our Debt

How They Do It by Digging Out and Up

Managing Money With Your Significant Other by Upendilife

How the 90s Set Us Up to Fail Financially by Add Vodka

On Doing What You Love by So Over Debt

How to Achieve Balance and Do What You Care About by Young Cheap Living 

How to Buy a Used Computer by Finance Fox

Exercise Your Finances (or something like that) by Daily Money Shot

Sometimes It's About Way More Than Math by Step Away From the Mall

Keeping Up With the Joneses by Modest Money

Give Yourself a Raise (No Boss Required) by Married With Debt

How to Stop Spending Money Mindlessly by You Have More Than You Think

Landlording (Landlord horror story) by My So-Called Financial Life

5 Financial Tips I Learned From Watching The Jersey Shore by Your Finances Simplified 

Embrace That You Are in Sales by My Money Design 

Congrats New Grads By the Way You Don't Know Anything by Jezebel (thanks Mo' Money Mo' Houses for showing me this! Was LOLing the whole time)

I'm Not Paying for Your Mistake Even if You Are Only 13 by Travis at Enemy of Debt

Asset Allocation Diversification: Stocks, Bonds, or Cash by Work Save Live 

The Social Value of Your Net Worth by Blonde on a Budget

Tips on Negotiating a Higher Salary by Financial Samurai

Would You Take a Steep Pay Cut to Live in Paradise by Financial Samurai on Untemplater

How to Shop at Garage Sales by One Cent at a Time

Student Loans: Borrow With Caution by Money After Graduation (guest post on Mo' Money Mo' Houses)

5 Things You Don't Learn at Uni by eemusings

Would You Work Any Job? by My Alternate Life

Lastly, I'm elated that My Jam Packed Life got something out of my post and did not take no for an answer!

Also - enter this Yakezie writing contest! Some generous prizes await you :) I wanted to share this with everyone and also post it on here so I don't forget about it. It's been awhile since I wrote out an essay creatively (let's not count the numerous personal statements I wrote for my law school app...I wanted to kill myself writing those). I can't wait to join this!

5.17.2012

When a Recipe for Success Fails

Marissa shared an article on Twitter this morning that caught my attention. It is about a 29-year-old guy who shares the reality and difficulty of landing a job in this economy. Not just any job, but a job with upward mobility and job security to put him on the path we all expected to be on by the age of 30 (marriage, kids, saving for retirement…sound familiar?).

Bridget brought up a great point, and said, “It's not a race. People put really twisted self-imposed timelines for ‘accomplishments.’”

She’s absolutely right. Millennials were brought up by our parents from previous generations, who were all following a certain “Recipe for Success,” if you will.

Following the Recipe for Success

My parents are Gen Xers, and my mom came as an immigrant. Parents have showered us with hope and a bright future, expecting that a college education will bring wealth almost immediately after graduation. Now that there is plenty of competition and a degree is parallel to a high school diploma, more and more students are going to graduate school in hopes of finding that financial security we were promised. We worked hard and we thought we would get what we wanted just by completing our education.

This “Recipe” that we have been fed and followed throughout our childhood is what it is – a recipe. Sometimes a recipe fails after many years because ingredients change or our expectations change. We can’t blame the economy and we can’t blame our parents. Just like a recipe, you can change your ingredients and play around with the recipe. You don’t have to follow it.

It Hit Close to Home

The article struck a note with me because I saw this happen to my BF just 4 years ago. I’ve seen it occur amongst my friends. I know this has been talked about again and again, but the truth is that it is extremely difficult for new grads to enter the workforce if you do not have relevant experience. If you’ve been job hunting within these past few years, you’ll notice that employers will always request 3-5 or 5-10 years of experience. They are able to hire highly skilled individuals and pay them less, so why would they take a chance with someone with 0-2 years of experience?

As a Gen Yer myself, fortunately, I was lucky to have snagged a job out of college since I have been working since I was 15, and I also have over 4 years of experience in my particular field. I went through a lot of what the author of the article went through, but luckily I had the support of my family, no undergraduate debt, and no payments to make on my behalf. I was able to job hunt for 6 months until I held out for the job I really wanted. I know this may be impossible for others so I am very grateful for the opportunity I had.

I’m still unsure of where my future is going to take me, but I know that I will never resort to feeling “entitled” to a cushy life. I already said it before and I’ll say it again. I have accepted that I may not get to go on lots of expensive vacations, buy a huge house, hire a housekeeper or nanny, drive a nice car, or even have more than one child. Thinking of the worst prepares you for it, but it doesn’t mean I have to or will stop trying to achieve that lifestyle.

The Future

It saddens me to read comments on many different articles like these, where the Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers are quick to scream, “Entitlement!” or “Grow up, you lazy bastard!” No one at all understands the difficulty of being in this situation unless you actually put yourself in the shoes of someone who is going through it. Inflation continues to rise while starting salaries continue to drop. We’re all struggling to keep up, young and old.

The older generations must help us as much as they can before they try to quickly write us off. We hold the future in our hands. We’ll actually be renting more or buying smaller homes because we won’t have enough money to pay for student loans, retirement AND a big mortgage payment each month (unless you live in an area where renting is more expensive than buying). We’ll be spending less on consumer goods. We’ll be paying fewer taxes. Who will be buying the Boomers's and Gen X'ers's  homes in the future if we can’t afford to?

Then again, as I mentioned.. we can change this recipe. It has been proven doable by many young people. We have creative ideas and we are hard workers, and this is illustrated through many young entrepreneurs that create successful companies, bloggers that make blogging a full-time job, and people who take on side hustles to pay off debt quickly. Don't let that recipe for success limit you. You can change it.

Check out this chart comparing home prices in Canada from 1984 to present prices. Scary! Then again, I guess we are all not cut out for home ownership.


via

What are your thoughts regarding this recipe for success? Know any Millennials who are in this current situation?

5.15.2012

How To Tell If You Are a Shopaholic

There was a time in my recent past when I was a shopaholic. I know that there are a lot of jokes about being a shopaholic, but sometimes you have to look past the funny part of it all and realize that it is actually a real problem that people face. 

via
The difference between a regular spender and a shopaholic is that the shopaholic will compulsively shop and one purchase will lead to another and another, like an addiction. There is no regard for anything else and shopping will constantly outweigh everything else. If it is not dealt with, one can get deeper and deeper into trouble just like other addictions. In essence, I truly believe that treatment for this problem must focus on the root of the problem itself. Some may resort to shopping out of boredom, anxiety, stress, or just plain materialism.

Here are some tips to diagnose the problem that I hope will help some people out there! A lot of these experiences are personal experiences, so I am speaking first-hand from seeing the detrimental side effects of shopping.

You Know You Are a Shopaholic When...
  • You are constantly thinking of what to buy next, even when you just bought something.
  • You just spent your next few paychecks via credit card.
  • You are paying only the minimum balance on your credit card but keep adding to it by buying stuff.
  • You forget that you even purchased items, especially items that you bought online.
  • You end up online shopping for hours, and realize the sun is rising.
  • You just have to have something, but when you get it, lose all interest in it.
  • You buy too many items and then feel guilty about it.
  • You find yourself justifying purchases to everyone, especially yourself.
  • You open up your credit card statement and feel sick from the total amount due to shopping.
  • You hide new items from people because you don't want them to know that you bought something.
  • You resort to shopping every time you are depressed, excited, worried, anxious, bored or nervous.
  • You return items almost immediately after you buy them.
  • You lose interest in items you bought and sell them at a loss.
  • Your closet is filled with items that still have the tags on them.
  • Your closet has clothes and shoes that you forgot you even had.
  • You surround yourself with people that are into shopping as much as you, and all you can talk about is what new item you bought...which proceeds to more buying.
  • The thrill of shopping is more exciting than anything else.
  • You ask your credit card company to increase your credit limit, just to buy something.
  • Family and friends notice you have too many new items in a short time span.
  • Family and friends are telling you that you need to stop shopping.
  • Family and friends are telling you that you have a serious problem.
  • Every time you go out to buy one item, you end up coming home with items you didn't intend to purchase.
  • You can't say no to yourself if it involves an item you really want, but don't have money for.
  • You think that your life will change drastically because of this new item (thinking a new pair of shoes will change your life, or that new dress will instantly make me feel better about myself).
The hardest part of dealing with it is basic acceptance of the problem, and acknowledging that something has to be done to solve the problem. There are a lot of ways to deal with it though, so don't feel alone. You can conquer it! 

I have implemented a few tips myself for fighting the shopping bug and it's actually a very real and on-going process for me, even though I have made huge progress these past 2 years.

If you know someone who is struggling with this addiction, make sure to think twice about encouraging the behavior such as, "At least you are helping the economy!" 

Any other shopaholics or former shopaholics out there? How do you deal?

5.14.2012

How I Blog and PF Link Love: Fave Reads of the Week

Hope you all had a great weekend! I actually meant to post this yesterday since I want to do this weekly link love type post every Sunday, but it was Mother's Day and I don't pre-schedule any posts. We cut our dog's hair (such a little furball) and gave him a bath, and then BF's sister and brother-in-law came from LA and we took out the future in-laws to dinner. I think I got food poisoning though, and I knew it was a bad sign when I saw no one else in the restaurant, but it was BF's mom's choice, so who am I to argue?

Oops went off on a tangent again. Anyway, I don't pre-schedule posts. I know it would be more logical and it would save time, but I actually write my posts right before I post 'em. Yup, like a diary. It works for me so I stick with it. I find that the direction I want to take with this blog is to keep is personal, and for me to keep it personal, I write from straight from my heart with no real thought or time to change things up.

I don't really proofread my posts because I like to keep it real. What you see is literally what I am thinking at the time. I do think about topics to write about as they come up in my daily life though. When my BF and I are talking about certain things, I'll say "ooh I should blog about that" and then write down notes in my notebook. I am a great listener so everything I hear throughout the day, I will use those thoughts that I am thinking and write them down for future reference. Sometimes it works with what I want to talk about on here, and sometimes it doesn't. I have a notebook that I carry with me all the time and I use it for many, many different things. I write down my daily spending, items that I want to buy, items that I have bought (to keep me accountable on what I have already spent), my to-do lists, grocery lists, directions, and just other general thoughts like content for future blog posts.

In real life, I'm very scatterbrained...but with my notebook, it allows me to put all my thoughts down in one place. Sometimes I forget things, but I'll remember once I look at something that I wrote before. Also, I write out some titles in Blogger and come back to them later. I'll usually just write how I feel about that topic when I finally decide to write about it.


My question for other PF bloggers this week: How do you blog? Do you write all of your posts in one day and scatter them throughout the week? Do you write them as you post? Details people! I'm highly interested :)

***

So much good content and reads this week. I had trouble selecting my favorites but here they are:

What Income Level is Rich? by Finance Fox

Morgan Lewis Windmill by Upendilife

Change Your Life With the What's Possible Mindset of Personal Finance by Young Cheap Living

Why I'm Buying a Rental Property While Still in Debt by Yes I Am Cheap

Creating a Positive Perception at Work by I Am 1 Percent

Don't Quit Your Job To Follow Your Dream by Retire by 40

Start Saving Early for Retirement: Tips for Young People Just Starting Out by Prairie Eco Thrifter

The Goal of Work is Retirement: Rule 10 by Married With Debt

5 Tips on How to Eliminate Distractions and Increase Your Productivity by Invest It Wisely

Accessing Your Money While Traveling Abroad by Your Life For Less

5 Tips for Sane and Stress Free Wedding Planning by Well Heeled Blog

Shut the Flock Up by Punch Debt In The Face

Defining Purpose and The Importance of Moderation by Savvy Scot

What is Important to You? by Elle And Ish

Personal Finance Blogger Stereotypes by PF Blog News

Do I Need Long Term Care Insurance? by One Smart Dollar

Easy Tomato Basil Cream Pasta Recipe by Work Save Live

Starting an LLC - Advantages to Having PLP For Your Business by Joyful Self Manager

What's Your Happy Number? by Making Sense of Cents

Don't Spend Money Before You Have It by So Over Debt

Are Bloggers Really Writers? by Add Vodka

People Are Funny About Money Part 1 by Blonde on a Budget

If I Didn't Save... by Digging Out and Up

Career Lessons From My Mom by Modest Money

Money Lessons From My Momzy by Serendipity's Guide to Saving

How To Find a Job in Any Economy by Street Smart Finance

On Authenticity in Blogging by Eemusings

5.11.2012

Financial Lessons and Other Stuff I Learned From My Mom

Mother's day is coming up! I bought my mom some Lululemon crops per her request, and I don't regret spending $95 on them. This is her one holiday of the year and she deserves it.

Today I wanted to write about her and everything I've learned from her. She's my inspiration, my better half, my motivation and confidant. Whenever I need advice and my boyfriend doesn't agree with me, I go running to her and she welcomes me with open arms :)


We have quite a unique relationship. She had me when she was 25, and then she got divorced and raised me on her own until I was 9. I was in the room when she and my dad got into their last huge argument, and he walked out. She got remarried and I was the one who went on roadtrips with her to go visit my stepdad while they were dating. We would sing Mariah Carey songs on those 3-hour drives. I was a huge supporter for her new marriage and then she had my brother and sister when I was 9 and then 13, so there is a huge age gap. As a result, I have taken care of my siblings since I was really young. My mom confides in me like we are friends but she also is a mother, first and foremost.

She taught me that saving money is critical. When I was young, money was a driving force in a lot of our daily activities. Without it, you have to work harder. I saw it firsthand. She struggled to make ends meet and I learned a lot from it.

She taught me how to be skeptical. You have to check your statements and keep organized records of everything. She questions every single transaction that looks suspicious and has avoided identity theft three times because of that. One time she blamed me for being double charged at Subway (when I was in high school, she added me as an authorized user to her CC), but in actuality, she forgot she had gone to Subway twice in one day. Lol.

She taught me how to negotiate. When I was younger I dreaded going out shopping with her because we would always get into a "fight" with the salespeople. She was always returning something, trying to bargain for the right price, or negotiating a wrong charge off of a receipt. She knew what she wanted and she would stand her ground. As a single mother, she had to be tough and fight for herself.

She inspires me everyday with how she got this far in her career and life. She started off with a negative amortization loan for a $180k condo and borrowed $2,000 from my grandma as a down payment. Within a year, it made equity and she actually was able to put a huge down payment on a $300k 4-bedroom house. She sold that one and made $150k off of it, and now has an investment property that rents out for $2k a month as well as a 5-bedroom house that is almost paid off. Imagine the risk involved when she first made that decision on her own. I'd be scared, but knowing that she did it inspires me to take more risks.

She balances a juggling act everyday without falling. On top of working full-time, a clean house and working out is important too. Her wisest advice that I'll never forget was, "Don't do something for the sake of doing it, but do it with your full effort." It's simple, but it applies in so many areas of my life.

She told me to never cry in public. I remember getting into a fight with my BF and going to my sister's ballet recital. I was holding back tears, and my mom looked me straight in the eye and pinched me while telling me to stop it. "Never cry in public. It shows you are weak." I am quite an emotional person, so it's hard for me to control my tears, but this stuck with me and I don't let myself cry in public.

"Stop buying so many shoes, you only have one pair of feet." Probably the best advice ever. She knew I had a problem when I was a shopaholic, and she was the first to tell me that I had to stop. She brought up the future and saving, and after this piece of advice, I sold most of my shoes on ebay. I still have a lot though. I can't bear to part ways with all of them. Sheesh.

She supports me in every decision that I make but she also gives me advice. Sometimes it's not what I want to hear and sometimes it's just what I need to hear. Sometimes her opinion is the only one that matters. No matter what it is, I respect her advice because I know that she always has my best interest at heart.

I can go on and on, but I think these were my favorites. We've had our ups and downs, especially when I was a teenager, but I couldn't have asked for a better mother in my life. Thank you for everything you have done for me mom!

For all the mothers out there, happy mother's day this Sunday!

5.10.2012

Winner of Carla's Patchwork Wallet Giveaway Is...


I counted all of the comments (not including my replies) and used Random.org to generate a random number.

The #7 comment is Toni of Birdie Something!


Congrats! :) 

You get to choose your own patchwork wallet in the color scheme of your choice! I'll send you an email and give you the details.

Thanks so much Carla for your generous giveaway, and do please check out her blog!

5.09.2012

Don't Take No For An Answer Part 1: How To Negotiate Scholarship Money

I realize there are 2 negatives in the first part of my title. It bothers me a lot, but it's going to be part of a series so get used to it! :P

I am doing this series because I used to be that person who would always accept no for an answer. I'd be scared and nervous enough just asking for something that I wanted, and if no was the answer, I'd take it and walk away. Now I know better and you should always challenge that no....especially if it's in your favor.

Anyway, today I want to talk about negotiating scholarship money for school. It's going to be focused specifically on law school admissions because that's what I just went through, but I'm sure you can use these techniques for undergraduate and other graduate school scholarships too.

I know you're thinking that you don't even know if you qualify for scholarship money. My stats are GPA: 3.12 and LSAT: 158 so I'm pretty much at my school's medians. So what if I'm not above average? I'll still try to ask!

If you don't ask, the answer is ALWAYS NO.

How To Negotiate Scholarship Money

1. Consider Your Options
Let's think of what you have to offer the school. Did anything change since you last submitted your application? This would be a great time to tell them about that new job promotion, new job, new raise, an updated transcript, a new letter of recommendation, or a new volunteer experience.

Did you apply to any other schools? If you received an offer from a higher ranked school, save those letters. You can use them for negotiation. If you received scholarship money (even from a lower ranked school), you can use that as leverage too.

If you still don't have anything new to show, that's okay too! You can use other factors that may be holding you back from attending their school such as a high cost of living, having to quit your job and move, or how tuition is so expensive there.

2. Write the Letter/Email
Now that you know what you are going to include as your negotiation tactics, figure out if you want to send a formal letter or an email. I would say email is quicker and easier for the admissions people to look over, so I used that. You can also write a formal letter, print it out, scan it and attach it.

Put some careful thought into this. You don't want to sound arrogant and you don't want to sound too sure that you absolutely deserve the money. Entitlement doesn't usually work. Be considerate, but also state your stance confidently.

3. Back It Up
Per #1, if you have any other offers or letters, feel free to attach them. It shows that you aren't lying about it, and that gives you more leverage. Everyone feels more comfortable when there is documentation. I actually read a story about how one person said they got a full scholarship to a highly ranked law school, and told another school this during scholarship negotiation. That school ended up calling the other school and found out that the kid wasn't even ACCEPTED there, let alone a full ride! Don't be that kid. If you don't have any back up to provide, that's okay too.

4. Follow Up
Quite honestly, this was the most important part for me. I'll show you what I did below, but you need to follow up. Don't just assume that your letter/email was sent to the right person. Give it at least a week, and then send another email to make sure the correct person received your request. Also ask if they have come to a decision yet and when will you hear back.

5. If They Say No...You're NOT Done Yet!
So, they said no? No matter what, do not take no for an answer. Do not reply with "Okay, thank you anyway!" Be quick to respond by thanking them but also ask some questions.

Did they give you a reason? Ask them how they came to a conclusion. If they didn't mention anything else, ask them if you can be considered again in the future for scholarship money. Until the day school starts, you are still a viable consideration for them to give you some money. Also, ask about the possibility of scholarship money in the next year, and how do you go about doing that.

You want to be persistent and show your determination. Don't give up!

My Experience

I put my own technique to use just recently, and here are the results (I removed some info for privacy reasons).


>>> Erika <@gmail.com> 4/24/2012 8:21 AM >>>
Dear Financial Aid Committee,

I was very excited when I received my acceptance letter from _____ Law yesterday. Nonetheless, I have a really difficult commitment decision to make based on the high cost of living in CITY OF SCHOOL as well as the
high cost of tuition. If I choose to attend SCHOOL, I would need to quit my full-time job, which would put me in great financial hardship.

I am contacting you today to respectfully request consideration for merit aid or need-based aid to help me make the commitment to attend 
SCHOOL in the Fall. I have a strong admissions profile, and I am confident that I will be a leader at SCHOOL in the classroom and in the community. I would really like to attend SCHOOL as a first-generation law student, and I admire the diversity and community that sets SCHOOL apart from other law schools. If given aid, I will definitely attend SCHOOL.

Thank you for taking the time to read and think about my request. Please let me know if you have any questions and I look forward to hearing your response.

If this has been sent to the wrong department, could you kindly please forward it to the appropriate person?

Thank you so much,
Erika

---------- Forwarded message ----------

From: LawFinancialAid
Date: Tue, 24 Apr 2012 11:04:36 -0700
Subject: Re: Law Financial Aid
To: Erika <@gmail.com>

Dear Erika,

Your e-mail has been forwarded to ___________ (.edu), director of law financial aid, for consideration.  Please feel free to follow up with her regarding your request.

Best Regards,
Law Financial Aid

>>> Erika <@gmail.com> 4/30/2012 12:10 PM >>>
Dear Ms. __________,

I was given your email address from the Financial Aid office. I was informed that my request to be considered for merit aid has been forwarded to you for consideration. I am just emailing you to follow up and see if you have had time to review my request.

If you need more info or would like to talk to me about it, please feel free to call me at 555-5555.

Thank you so much and I look forward to hearing from you,
Erika



----- Reply message -----
From: "" <edu>
Date: Mon, Apr 30, 2012 4:27 pm
Subject: Law Financial Aid
To: "Erika" <@gmail.com>
Dear Erika,

Thank you for following up on the status.

As of the end of last week, SCHOOL did complete a re-evaluation of scholarships, and your name was included in the review, in response to the e-mail you sent on April 24, 2012.  I regret to inform you that have not been awarded a scholarship, based on last week's review.

We certainly still hope to see you here on campus for the Fall 2012 semester, and thank you for your continued interest in SCHOOL.

Best,
Director of Law Financial Aid
>>><@gmail.com> 4/30/2012 5:29 PM >>>
Hello again Ms. ___________,

Thank you for your prompt response. 
Will there be a later review or was this the last one? If possible, would I be able to be considered for anything (merit or need-based) at a later review of scholarship money?

Thanks!
Erika
----- Forwarded message -----
From: ""
Date: Fri, May 4, 2012 11:27 am
Subject: Law Financial Aid
To: <@gmail.com>
Dear Erika,

I will hold onto your request for scholarship consideration in case there might be any changes to how we are currently awarding scholarships, although I'm sorry I cannot guarantee that such a change will occur in the near future.

Best,
Director of Law Financial Aid

***


I Didn't Take No For An Answer

I did not end up getting scholarship money, but I applied #5 and I am happy with her response. I will be following up with her again after June 1st, which is when the final seat deposit is due for all incoming students. They should know by then how much money in the scholarship pot they have left. I'll also ask about scholarship info for the 2nd and 3rd years of school. 

At least I know that I tried my best to get scholarship money, rather than just sit back with my acceptance letter. I've heard that this school in particular is pretty stingy with scholarship money so I'm not surprised. I'll continue to fight for it though and hopefully I'll get something in the future out of this.

If you want more proof that this works... check out this thread which shows that many law school applicants have successfully negotiated scholarship money. Some people went from 0 to 50% scholarship or from 50% to 100% scholarship. It never hurts to ask, does it?

Btw, the giveaway ends today at midnight. I will be using random.org tomorrow to select a winner!

Have you tried negotiating scholarship money or negotiating money at all? How did it work out for you?
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