Best Jobs of 2014

I came across this article on the Wall Street Journal detailing the best jobs of 2014.

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Here are the rankings:

Best Jobs of 2014:

  1. Mathematician/ $101,630
  2. Tenured University Professor/ $68,970
  3. Statistician/ $75,560
  4. Actuary / $93,680
  5. Audiologist / $69,720
  6. Dental Hygienist / $70,210
  7. Software Engineer / $93,350
  8. Computer Systems Analyst / $75,400
  9. Occupational Therapist / $75,400
  10. Speech Pathologist / $69,870

Worst Jobs of 2014/ Midlevel Income

200. Lumberjack/ $24,340
199. Newspaper Reporter / $37,090
198. Enlisted Military Personnel / $28,840
197. Taxi Driver / $22,820
196. Broadcaster / $55,380
195. Head Cook / $42,480
194. Flight Attendant $37,240
193. Garbage Collector / $22,970
192. Firefighter / $45,250
191. Corrections Officer / $38,970

My job didn’t actually make the list. Software engineer has been at the top of the list for many years. I’m not sure why I didn’t go through with a software engineering degree. I studied computer science in high school. 3 bloody years of Java! By the time I finished my 3rd year I was burned out I quit. I wish I could tell old self to keep on going with the program, it will pay off. I’m not exactly bad off now, but software engineers are in such hot demand! Lesson learned if you think something is hard, don’t quite, especially if there is demand for employment!

Thoughts? Does your career fall in the top ten list? What do you think?

 

Source: Wall Street Journal

23 Years Old and Counting

Next month I will be turning 24. I’ll be one year closer to 30. The older I get, the more I learn I don’t know everything. I have knowledge in certain pockets of life, but still have so much to learn. This is what I’ve learned so far…Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 7.35.34 PM

-          Don’t be afraid to question – Growing up, I would always get in trouble because I never did anything the way my mom asked me to. She always told me to ask her before I did something to make sure I did right. You think this would translate to me being able to follow rules, but actually it turned me into a questionnaire. It sort of backfired on my mom. I question a lot of things including society rules, authority, matrix organizations, religion, politics, etc. I believe my inquisitive mind is one of my best advantages.

-          Independence – I have always been rather independent. While it might upset my parents, saying I didn’t raise myself. I quite know I didn’t raise myself, but I, also, know I do a lot of things without needing guidance. I figure it out. I don’t need a set of instructions to get from Point A to Point B. Actually I’m terrible with directions, as I don’t really follow them step by step. I do get lost often, and sometimes end up in places where I wouldn’t have ended up at if I had just followed the instructions, but I’m not afraid. I can stand by myself if I have to. If I truly believe in what I’m doing, I’m fierce, and stand by it. Even if I’m alone in the wind. As long as I’m appropriately dressed! I have never wanted to depend on my parents. I have tried not to ask for money. I managed my own budget since I left for college, and I never needed my parents to rescue me. I have been extremely responsible and own a house already with my hubby. I, also, own a mortgage! Haha!

-          Open Mind – Even though I can be rather stubborn on some of my beliefs and attitudes, I do believe I have an open mind. I’m very accepting of other cultures and super curious about how other cultures interact. I’m always asking my foreign coworkers, friends, acquaintances about their country, culture, and how they are adapting to a new country. I have a very heterogeneous base of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances.

-          Reading – I love, love, love reading. I was a complete bookworm as a kid. If I wasn’t babysitting during the summer, I was reading books. I don’t read as many books now due to time constraints, but I still try to sneak some reading time. This has helped me greatly in life. I keep up with current events easily; I’m able to talk about public affairs, international policy, science fiction, latest trends. Did I also mention I love subtitles? Reading expands your knowledge base.

-          Love Thyself – I’m learning to love myself, faults and all. I’m always trying to improve and turn my faults into strengths, but I’m also learning to accept myself. This has helped my confidence and self-esteem.

I’m Automating Some of My Finances In My Life

I studied supply chain management in graduate school. It’s a fascinating subject learning how to make a company’s operations lean and efficient. There are so many aspects to it. While I don’t practice all these aspects at my company, I am doing one thing: sourcing. A lot of people ask me what I do as a sourcing professional. Before I go on, sourcing responsibilities vary between companies. At my company, I spend most of time working with the sales team while their building proposals for solutions. I, also, manage a category that is growing every day. This means I work with suppliers on a daily basis. I negotiate contracts, terms and conditions, cost of goods, suppliers, and well manage stakeholder relationships. You would be surprised how much time is spent on managing these stakeholder relationships. My company is extremely political. Watching House of Cards sometimes reminds me a little of what can happen at my company. When I first same on, the category I managed had no spend. Last year it grew to $20 million and I’m anticipating the spend will be higher this year. I sort of blind-sided everyone in my small team and my own boss. I picked up this category because I saw growth in, when nobody else did.  It’s quickly snowballed into a great opportunity. I have lots of work ahead of me to accomplish all of my work goals.

Then, there are my career goals. You have to spend time outside of your daily job fostering relationships and skills to grow in your career. Network, mature your skills, and learn new skills.

Hah, I, also, want to grow my blog and start working on some new ideas. I’ve had time, but lacked motivation or energy or something. Guess by the time I use my brainpower to tackle work and career related goals I’m pretty beat.

As you can see my life is going in many directions and it’s hard to keep track of everything. I’m in charge of our finances, and I have decided to automate bills, savings, and investments. I have automate our retirement contributions (IRAs) and a little bit for after tax investments. This is so exciting!

I, also, opened a Personal Capital account so I won’t have to log in to all my accounts to check our net worth. I’m not affiliated or getting paid by this company. I read a lot of reviews from personal finance bloggers who rated the experience in a positive manner. So far, I like the interface of personal capital.

Do you automate your finances?

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Applying For A Mortgage

You found the house you love, you made a bid, the seller accepted, house inspection went through, and now you need a mortgage.

When we found the house we wanted to buy, we thought we had gone through the hardest part. We saw dozens of houses. The process was pretty exhausting because we had to see the houses before more potential buyers saw the houses. The market was really hot. Supply was extremely low and there were many buyers motivated to buy. But getting a mortgage was even more exhausting.

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Let’s face it; even though the government “tried” to make mortgages more “understandable by the common folk,” understanding mortgages is comparable to deciphering hieroglyphics. We looked at three different companies for our mortgage.

  1. Online (Quicken) – We completed an online application. We then had a call with a Quicken representative. He was actually pretty great. He explained every single line item. When he didn’t know, he would say so and go ask a supervisor. There are other companies like Discover where you can start your application online.
  2. Personal Bank – We, also, talked to our personal bank. We received similar help. It is our bank, but at the end it was the mortgage branch of our bank that provided us information about interest rates, closing costs, etc. via the phone. Brick and mortar banks you can use include Bank of America, Wells Fargo, or Chase.
  3. Brokers – We, also, asked a mortgage broker. This representative came through a family recommendation. Usually these are LLCs. An example in the UK would be First Mortgage mortgage brokers.

Items you will receive when applying for a mortgage:

Interest Rate

Loan Years

Cost of the Lender making you a loan

Estimated Closing costs

Estimated Insurance Costs

Estimated Principal

Estimated Interest

The documents were confusing. It was stressful to talk to all three companies and try to negotiate a better rate. At the end of our negotiation, terms weren’t even really established until you signed the dotted line. What was also nerve racking was locking in our interest rate. We didn’t want to lock it in until we were sure we were going to buy the house. A couple days of hesitation meant we ended up with a slightly higher interest rate. Our realtor said it wouldn’t matter. Just a couple dollars difference on your monthly payment. But throughout the term of the loan we will end up paying about $4,000 more. Sure $4,000 doesn’t seem like a lot spread out over 15 years, but $4,000 could buy us a really nice international vacation.

Did you find applying for a mortgage as confusing as we did?

Keeping Things Simple with Your Finances

This is a guest post by Natalie over at Everything Finance.  Everything Finance is a site about just that, everything related to finance.  You can get information about investing, saving money, insurance, shopping, blogging, and making money online.

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Life can be pretty complicated at times. It can take all your powers and concentration just to be able to think straight especially when it comes to money. You may have just had a baby or experienced a layoff. You may have taken a new job position or experienced something else that requires a lot of your attention. You may have had a million different things that can affect your focus on your finances. With all that life throws at you, why take the risk of complicating your finances?

Many people believe in simplicity but their finances are quite a different story. Many people still pay their bills by mail using postage stamps. With the price of stamps increasing every year, it just makes more financial sense to use the free auto pay that’s available on many bank accounts. Many people wonder if this is a safe option but the truth is that it is often more secure than paying through the mail. You can even program when you want the money to leave your account in advance which makes things extra helpful.

Finding ways to keeping things simple does not always have to be reserved for your bank finances. Having a set budget can help reduce overall anxiety on what you are spending every month. Having an excel spreadsheet that you can easily turn to is a great way to keep things easy. Keeping columns for your housing, food, entertainment, and transportation costs makes it clear on what money can be allocated every month. There a variety of software on the market that can make budgeting even easier especially for those with a bit of computer savvy. This may not sound like the easiest thing to do but it will save you so much hassle down the road. This is exactly what is meant by keeping it simple with your finances.

Need another reason to simplify your finances? How about the simple fact that it cuts down on stress which can lead to lower medical bills in the future. It is no secret that lower levels of stress can have a positive effect on not only your attitude but your life as well. Playing it simple may even encourage you to make better financial decisions as it will leave time for other things. You could research the best interest rates for saving accounts in your area for example. You could finally have time to clip coupons and save even more money. Having more time is just one of the huge benefits of simplifying your time and efforts.

There is always going to be things in life that will be beyond our control. There will always be things that are difficult but your finances do not have to be one of those things. Placing a little effort in the right direction can save you so much hassle and trouble down the road. Sometimes the most important thing is just to make your mind up today and decide not to let difficulty rule your pocket book. Remember that your bottom line does not have to be complicated. Keep it simple for goodness sake.

 

Reviewing 2013 Goals

Every year I sit down, make goals, and then review them. It helps me stay on track. Yes, the review is a tad late. But it took me a bit to compile our results for 2013.

If you want to look at my 2013 goals, click on this.

It’s been a really crazy year and looking back on my goals, I realized what a long way we have come.

***Credit cards are paid off in full every month.

Financial Goals:

  1. Increase primary savings account to $20,000 Done! Although the account is down to $10K, since I funded our IRAs for 2013 in January and February.
  2. Fully fund down payment fund of $30,000 and buy a house by the of the year. Holy crap we bought a house!!! We ended up putting 20% down. Check out all my house posts. From how we were out beaten from the Peachtree house, to dozens of failed showings, to how we found the house, to loan processing and who knows what else!
  3. Increase 401K to $19,000. Actually, I ended up beating my number and getting this to nearly $30K. The markets helped here, and ended up upping my contribution halfway through the year.
  4. Increase ESPP fund to $3900 through automatic payroll deductions. We only make it to $3K. Decided to cancel my ESPP contribution and max out 401K. I’m going to look at starting my ESPP once again in the fall.
  5. Pay off car loan. We paid off this sucker!!! It felt awesome!
  6. Make $4000 side hustle income. Fail. But this year I’m going to work harder! 

My Professional Goals:

  1. Finish MBA. Yes, I finished this and received my diploma in May. No debt! I even considered starting another one, but decided to postpone the decision.
  2. Identify mentor in company. Didn’t really do this. But I just set up a relationship for mentorship in my company this month. So better late than never. I’m also being mentored by an outside executive.
  3. Join a professional organization and attend one networking event every quarter. I joined Toastmasters
  4. Revisit and maintain mentor-mentee relationships with previous mentors. Still working on this one. Have to call people. 
  5. Continue training to be a sourcing manager. Establish goals to get there. Working on this one.
  6. Get good ratings on company’s IPM. They were average. Not great because I was too new. Going to prove this year’s were awesome!

Blog Goals:

  1. Switch to self-host
  2. Redesign website
  3. Increase twitter followers to 700. I only got to 500. 
  4. Join the Yakezie challenge. Fail. 
  5. Write post 3x/wk. Barely Pass. I wrote less at the end of the year when we were dealing with all the house stuff and work got end of the year crazy!

Life Goals:

  1. Workout 5x a week
  2. Lose 10 pounds. Maintain weight at 110 lbs. (Currently at 120-122). I’m at a healthy weight.
  3. Read 1 book every three months.
  4. Have fun with friends and hubby
  5. Visit family

Overall, the year went by so fast. I can’t believe we accomplished all of those goals. Our net worth tripled. We ended up almost $10,000 above our end of 2013 net worth goal.

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H&R Block: Taking the Plunge- Married and Managing Finances Together

I’m so happy to say I had the opportunity to contribute to H&R Block’s blog. H&R Block has a blog called Block Talk where contributors discuss tax stories, news, tips, and advice from professionals every day. I am contributing more on the side of personal stories on your money and lifestyle choices.

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This month I wrote about whether you should manage your finances together when you’re married. A lot of couples tackle this financial issue, and we sure did. One of the reasons I started reading personal finance blogs was because I was trying to figure out how to manage our money.

Check out the post and let me know what you think.

Read the full story here….

What is Your Next Career Move?

You own your career. Nobody else owns it. Not your manager, not your husband, not your coworker, not your parent. You own your path to success.

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Career is one of the top topics I write about on this blog. I want financial independence but I need cash to get there. My career is how I generate income and fund my expenses. My husband contributes to this pot and we build our net worth growth together.

When I joined my company, I was so excited. I was just starting out and I really did not know what I wanted to do in the next couple of years. I mentally gave myself a deadline of two years. No, it was not in writing, but in my head, I set up a timeline on how long it was going to take me to judge the company, industry, profession, etc.

I have been progressing and maturing in my current role, but I know as soon as I get the promotion I’m working towards, there will be no further growth left. So why am I even working towards a promotion on my team? I think it will give me credibility that I have shown results and seen a benefit.

I finally called up a trusted outside mentor and asked him for guidance on my next move. This move will not come tomorrow. But I want to be ready for when I make the move in 1 to 1.5 years from now. We’re going to meet in a couple of weeks and talk about what I want and how I get there.

I’m hopeful. I understand there will be no further growth within my company, so it’s hard for me to remain motivated and positive. I don’t want to do everything for my company. At this point it’s a paycheck and a means to an end. A promotion will be sweet, but I don’t feel the passion I typically feel.

How do you determine your next career move?

-          Evaluate your progress in your current role? Is their growth opportunity?

-          Where do you see yourself in 2, 3, 4 years? Do you see yourself in your current role?

-          Identify the role you want to move into. Where do you think you can grow the most and utilize your talent?

-          Establish steps to get to get there. Network with people in the roles you want. Start reviewing your resume and figure out how to make it stand out.

-          What else do you need on your resume to make it stand out to the hiring manager?

-          Train yourself for the questions you will be asked.

-          Network to meet people in the role, industry, or company you want to land at.

Remember, talent is not enough. You have to work hard, be talented, and network to get to the next step.

Do you have advice for someone who wants to grow their career? Please give your input in the comments section.

Enjoying a Responsible Gaming Environment

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Have you seen Runner, Runner?

It stars Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck. The entire plot of the movie is about an Ivy League drop out who is a promoter for online casinos around the world. He gets into some trouble, decides to uncover it and runs into Ben Affleck. Ben Affleck runs an online gaming empire, and JT gets pulled into the world. The movie continues the downfall of Affleck’s gaming empire.

I’m not much of a gambler, so I decided to do some research. I have been to casinos in Oklahoma. Frankly, I was quite surprised at how many people where at these places. But I guess when you only have church and casinos as entertainment, that’s where you’ll be. Many people enjoy this activity around the world. I know my grandma loves to go the casinos and play the slots. It’s one of her favorite pastimes. Not kidding!

Gambling is a huge industry! Think about it. There’s a manufacturing industry that produces all the gaming machines. For an online site, there are programmers and computers creating complexed algorithms.

Below is a picture of the top 20 Casino Markets in the US.

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Source: 2013 AGA Survey of the Casino Entertainment

During 2012, consumers spent more at commercial casinos than they did on movies, craft beer and outdoor equipment combined, but spending on casino gambling was significantly less than spending on nights out at full-service restaurants or consumer electronics.

Gaming entertainment is a huge tax revenue for states.

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Casino Gambling has become even more accessible due to the development of online casinos. You don’t have to leave your house and you can sit in front of your computer. With the presence of these virtual venues, more and more people have learned how to play certain casino games. Amongst some of the more popular ones are online roulette and poker. I’m not naive enough to think people won’t game online. So, if you are going to gamble online be responsible. Here are some steps to make sure you are gambling responsibly:

When choosing an online casino site, make sure that they provide several options for communication. Any reputable online casino will have a 24/7 customer support line as well as phone numbers where you can make physical contact with a representative of the casino. You may want to test out the numbers to make sure they are working numbers. Also, some online casinos will even provide chat capabilities where you can contact a casino staff member through this method. Quality online casino sites provide 24 hour phone assistance because they realize that their customers gamble at all hours of the day and night. These sites legitimately care about their clients. If a site offers less customer support, this is a sign that they have little value for their customers. Also, it could be an indication that the online casino site is experiencing adverse financial issues. Another aspect of selecting an online casino site is to look at the brand name of the software provided at the site. If the name of the developer isn’t one of the top designers, this may be a sign not to use the site. The reason for this is that software developers are rather picky as to whom they provide their software to. They won’t permit sites that don’t meet their standards to use their products.

If you’re like me, I just go to yahoo and play free games. I’m so risk averse. I haven’t even played slots at a casino. Losing a penny is too devastating for me, lol. 

Have you gambled? Do you think it’s fun?

 

Mayhem Is Coming – Why Emergency Funds Are Useful

When it rains, it pours…

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I feel like my life has sort of been a sitcom where everything breaks around me.

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First, my husband got a traffic citation for changing lanes when there was a solid line. In his defense, the lane he was on, turned into a right turn only lane without any warning. He turned on his blinker to get over, which the car behind him let him do, and then a cop stopped him because apparently that’s illegal.

Then, the snowacopolypse in Dallas came. On my way to work I slid into a curb. Damage, none. Although we have to get my tires realigned just in case.

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One week ago, I got a traffic citation because I started to turn left on a green yield sign when I should not have. I stopped as soon as I realized my subconscious had interpreted it as a left arrow. It was really dark and foggy, and apparently the car in front of me was a cop who then gave me first traffic citation ever. Then, on Wednesday morning I hit the accelerator too hard when I was coming out of the garage and took out my right side mirror. This stuff doesn’t happen to normal people right?

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So, our budget has been hit my traffic citations, replacing passenger mirrors on car, and some other small things that broke at the house. This month it was hard to protect our income from unexpected expenses.

It got me thinking. I’m grateful we have an emergency fund, car insurance, and house insurance. But what if we didn’t?

It would really suck. I do carry disability and life insurance through work, and we could survive on one paycheck, but many people don’t have these benefits and it could be devastating for them.

Which is why it’s important to establish an EMERGENCY FUND.

Now why doesn’t it rain money instead? That would be a lot more fun.

 

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