Save, Save, Save

When I first started university, I wanted to major in both finance and history. I had recently changed my mind and switched from software engineering to business school. I’m still not sure if it was a wise decision. Maybe if I had heard from more software engineers who had later turned to sales or business development, it would have been different. But at the time, I thought if you majored in software engineering, you had to be a software engineer for the rest of your life. It may seem illogical to you, but our education system teaches us to see in a straight line. Why did I switch to finance? I wanted to see how to make money. Coming from a low income family, money had always been a predominant issue in my childhood. Money was stressful. It caused arguments and distress. I wanted to avoid this in my life.

I switched to finance to learn more about how to invest and save money. Looking back, I’ve learned much more about personal finance reading on my own than I did from those college classes. Personal finance reading is free compared to the huge college investment.

Andy Clarke, a Vanguard blog contributor, shared his one piece of investment advice in a recent blog entry. Saving is more important than fancy investing. If you start saving at 25, your money will have more time to compound. You will end up with more money in your retirement account than the person who started saving at 35. 10 years is a huge difference in terms of letting your money grow.

So with this I leave you with save, save, and save. I know it’s hard. I myself struggle with our savings all the time. Living costs money. We don’t live a very luxurious life, yet sometimes I wonder where is all our money going? So, try to save as much money as possible. Put it in another savings account or transfer it directly to Vanguard; out of sight, out of mind.

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6 Steps to Establish A Post College Budget

As part of contribution to H&R Block Talk, I discussed the 6 steps to establish a post college budget.

Congratulations on receiving your diploma and landing a job offer! This is a very exciting time in your life.

As you start figuring out your next steps, it’s extremely important to set a budget. How do you establish your budget? Here are a few things I learned after I graduated from school and landed my big, adult job.

To read more, read 6 Steps to Establish A Post College Budget

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The Benefits of a DINK Couple

My husband and I are a DINK (dual income no kids) couple. A lot of my coworkers are married and already have kids or about to have kids. I feel like we are so young, no idea how people do it with kids, especially without flexibility. I can’t imagine fitting kids into our schedules now. I’m out of the house for 12 hours at a time. Then, I spend 6-7 hours just sleeping. That only leaves about 6 hours of free time which gets eaten by showering, getting ready for work, cooking, eating, and getting the mind ready to go to sleep. I see everybody’s hectic schedule and have no desire to replicate it.

Here are some of the benefits as to how I see it:

  1. Only need 25 minutes to get ready in the morning. I’m pretty bad, or maybe I’m pretty awesome, but I’ve figured out how to maximise my sleep time and get ready super quickly. I’m not big on having super fancy hair or makeup to go to work, so this helps a lot. My hair air dries since it’s curly, so I never have to spend time blow drying or straightening my hair. I only wear eyeliner and use my glasses to accessorize!
  2. I only have to take care of myself in the morning. I get up before my husband and only have to worry about myself.
  3. Only have to worry about my laundry. My husband and I usually take care of our own laundry. Sometimes a couple of his items will get mixed up in mine or visa versa, but usually it’s not a lot. I do my work clothes separetly because the clothes are delicate. I have seen how much landry moms’s do every week. It’s insane. Can’t imagine.
  4. More discretionary income. One of my coworkers is about to have twins and he’s made comments of how their discretionary income is about to take a dip.
  5. No paying for daycare. The cost of daycare is insanely expensive. A female coworker has mentioned she pays $400 a week for her 1 year old’s daycare. That is $1600 a month! This amount covers our monthly expenses aside from mortgage andcar/home insurance.
  6. More free time. I really treasure my free time. I remember in college I would get so antsy when  I had free time. Every single hour of my day was allocated for a purpose. I’ve since switched life phiolosphies. Monday-Friday is a crazy race to get everything done, then Saturday and Sunday are a leisurely stroll. Last Sunday I woke up and finished reading a book, aftwerwards, I spent all day watching a marathon of Scandal on Netflix.
  7. We can take vacations during off-season when it’s much more affordable!

There you go. The benefits of not having kids. I really enjoy spending time with my husband alone. I think it’s extremely important. Life is already hectic enough. Some nights we barely talk to each because we get home and go to bed at different times.

On another note, did you know geese mate for life? Geese only have one partner their lifes. Talk about taking till death do us part quite seriously.

Are you part of a DINK couple? What are your thoughts?

Going Back to the Basics- Tina Fey Edition

I was at a social event celebrating one of my husband’s friend’s birthday party when a friend asked me how old I was. I responded 24. Then, I had to ask myself and my husband out loud if I was really 24. Heck, I even turned around to the friend and said I was wrong; I’m not 24, but 23. 5 seconds later I realized I was right the first time, and in fact, I’m really 24. I had to do the math and actually ask what year it was. Umm…where is my brain? I can’t even remember it’s 2014. Ouch.

Every time I see a kid I tell them, don’t grow up, it’s not as fancy and cool as it sounds. Remember when we used to play house? Oh how I laugh at that kid in my memories who thought being a grown up would be so cool. It’s not as cool as it sounds.

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There are many pros of being a grown-up/adult. No one should technically tell me what to do with my life. Although my mom tries to still tell me what to do with my life. I get to eat whatever I want, whenever I want. My mom still gets on to me about my eating habits. She insists I should start cooking. Sigh…I really want to learn how to cook, but just can’t get over the fact it takes so long. First, you have to buy groceries, and then prep, then cook, and finally, then clean. It just sounds like no fun, and I’m so impatient I end up making food with pure hatred. My house, my rules! When I go back home, it sucks because it’s my parents’ house and their rules rule. But when I walk into my house every day after work, it feels great knowing it’s my own little space. A space I share with my husband, but still most of the time I can cut a piece of the living room for all my stuff! No curfew for me! Well, at least not mandatory parent curfew. I have a car. I can drive whenever, wherever I want; although I would rather not drive anywhere at all. I hate driving.

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There, also, some cons of being a grown-up/adult. Why must there be so many bills? I can’t keep track of them. It’s hard to keep costs down. I just read today I have to keep track of my investments forever so I can declare taxes correctly. Holy crap? Dang it. I hate paperwork.

The work rat race exists. I didn’t actually believe it until I went through it myself. I do have to ask myself how people can keep up with this lifestyle till their sixty. I find myself wanting to do something else every day. Yes, I’m restless, but I’m not sure how to fix it. Some weeks, I want to just sleep. Other weeks, chocolate fixes my stress. This week, I find a good book is my solution; which brings me to the next topic.

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I’m tired of social media. I am so tired. Facebook, I hate that I check on you habitually but you provide no benefit. Lately, all I want to do is bury myself in blankets and read book. I have gone back to my childhood dream of wanting to read books all day and potentially write some of my own. Don’t be surprise if I become a recluse living in the middle of nowhere when I get older. I think this is where I’m headed! Who knew…..I sure didn’t.

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It’s a little weird to see myself evolve with these thoughts. I always wanted to grow-up, and though, I may not want to be a kid; I really don’t want to back to being a kid, especially not a teenager. Even though there are many things you must be responsible for as an adult; no way would I ever sign up for the teen years again. That’s my rant for the day.

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Anybody feeling the pressure of adulthood?

6 Reasons You Should Become a Nurse Practitioner

This is a contributed post.

After working a few years as a registered nurse, many will begin to wonder if they should pursue further education to become a nurse practitioner. In this role, they can complete many of the same duties as a physician. While becoming a nurse practitioner requires extra time and money by getting a higher degree, there are many benefits to choosing this advanced career.

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More Job Opportunities

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), between 2012 and 2022 this field is expected to grow 31 percent — faster than average for most industries. There are several factors that play a role in this rising demand for nurse practitioners. First, recent health care legislation means that many new people have health insurance, and there will be an increased number of people seeking the preventive care that nurse practitioners can offer. Additionally, an aging population means that more people will need care for ailments and conditions that can strike the elderly.

Better Pay

While the BLS reports that 2012 annual pay for registered nurses was a decent $65,470, the salary for nurse practitioners is a substantial $96,460 a year. On top of that, the top 10 percent of earners take home more than $161,030. Higher pay isn’t the only benefit that nurse practitioners enjoy. They commonly work for employers that offer childcare, education credits, and flexible work schedules.

Greater Responsibilities

Nurse practitioners enjoy greater responsibilities than registered nurses. Not only are they able to prescribe medication, they can order lab work and x-rays to help diagnose illnesses and treat patients. As a result, 16 states and Washington, D.C. allow nurse practitioners to work independently of a doctor. In fact, many nurse practitioners even choose to open their own clinics. Out of the estimated 150,000 nurse practitioners in the country, about 1,000 of them work in nurse-managed clinics. All together, there are about 250 health clinics around the country run solely by nurse practitioners.

More Flexibility

Nurse practitioners are able to work in a variety of medical settings including private practices, urgent care clinics, hospitals, and schools. One area where nurse practitioners are in high demand is in rural communities. With nearly 90 percent of physicians working in urban areas, there are large sections of the country that are left underserved by medical professionals. As a result, many programs exist to help nurse practitioners pay for their education costs in exchange for working in these rural communities. The National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program is an example of one available to nurses. Through this program, nurses are able to receive up to $60,000 in loan repayment money in exchange for two years of work.

Ability to Offer Better Care

While doctors aren’t always known for their good bedside manner, nurses tend to excel at it. In fact, data has shown that patients are very happy with the service they receive from nurse practitioners. There are even some areas, such as birthing and controlling blood glucose levels, where nurse practitioners have better patient satisfaction than doctors. Additionally, nurse practitioners not only work with patients, they also help their families by answering questions and going over the different treatment options that are available.

More Specialization Opportunities

Nurse practitioners are able to focus on one area of specialization as they continue to further their career. One lucrative option is to specialize in geriatric care. This niche is in high demand as the population continues to age. In this field, nurses are responsible for providing care and treatment to the elderly. They are often able to work in a variety of settings including hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, and for home health care provider companies. The average salary for a nurse practitioner specializing in geriatric care is around $75,000 a year.

The decision on whether to seek further education and become a nurse practitioner isn’t one that’s taken lightly. However, should you choose to do so, you know you’ll have the opportunity to better serve your community while also enjoying the excellent benefits that come along with this exciting career.

Mortgage Requirements for the Self-Employed

Congratulations on finding your first home! You found the one! At least the one for the next couple of years as your grow into it. This is a very exciting time of your life. Pinterest ideas are popping in your head! Ways to improve your home and gain some sweat equity! Sounds marvelous! But wait; before you embark on the journey, you have to figure out a way to pay for the house.

There are some people that are fully prepared to double down, and pay cash for their house. But most people don’t have the cash to do so, so they must get mortgages. Did you know the term mortgage comes from mort and means “death” (as in mortuary or mortality), and gage means “pledge.” Mort-gage means a “dead pledge.” In Bouvier’s Law Dictionary of 1856, Dead-Pledge is defined as “a mortgage of lands or goods.” It’s a pledge of death because it’s an engagement in debt, which is a neglect or violation of our duty; we’re not supposed to engage in those things. This is why we’re not to owe man anything.

When we applied for a mortgage, we had to show proof of income, our financial assets we would use for the down payment, our paystubs, among other financial things. Our credit scores were pulled. It was very interesting. As a young, married couple we don’t have super great credit. It’s ok, so we did not get the best mortgage rate. But what happens when you have unstable income? There are many people in the personal finance stage that have taken the step from working for the man to being the man. The self-employment stage!

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Stricter guidelines due to the new federal regulations require lenders to verify applicants’ ability to pay. Effective January 2014, lenders who make loans within the “qualified mortgages” parameters (low risk for both borrowers and lenders) are protected from legal recourse should the loans go bag anyway. Lenders will have to examine and over examine borrowers’ income and confirm debt-to-income ratio of no more than 43 percent. Borrowers who own their business or are self-employed will be analyzed even more. Self employed borrowers like full-time personal finance bloggers will need to show two years of personal and business tax returns, a profit and loss statement, and a balance sheet.

If you are planning to move from your first home to a second home and are self-employed consider your current budget. Look at any debts and clean up your balance sheet. You can use the loan repayment calculator to calculate how long it will take to various types of loans. If you are making the switch to self-employment, and want to get a mortgage, you may want to consider applying for a mortgage before making the switch to self-employment.

Have you applied for a mortgage while self-employed? Share your stories?

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/19/realestate/new-snags-for-the-self-employed.html?_r=0

The Confidence Gap

Are you confident?

Let me ask it again.

Are you as confident as your male counterpart next to you?

Confidence is something I constantly struggle with in my career. If I am overconfident, I may be viewed as too pushy or aggressive. If I I am not confident enough, I may not get the results. In my first review at my job one year ago, my boss noted I needed to be more confident. At a recent lunch with a mentor, he told me “you need to be more confident. You are good. Don’t be afraid.”

“Evidence shows that women are less self-assured than men—and that to succeed, confidence matters as much as competence. Here’s why, and what to do about it.” – The Confidence Gap, The Atlantic

I don’t like to brag about myself. I believe if you work hard, you will get noticed and rewarded.

Kathy Kay and Claire Shipman are the authors of The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance- What Women Should Know. Both agree you need to work hard and be confident about your work and abilities.

I’ve learned talking about your accomplishments is a tight line to walk. I myself have not even come close to mastering it. I did extremely well in school because there were rules. You were graded upon metrics chosen at the beginning of the term.

“If life were one long grade school, women would be the undisputed rulers of the world.”

I’ve noticed when I or my only other female counterpart on my team speak up at meetings, we get viewed negatively. When the men speak up, suddenly, their ideas are great.

“If a woman speaks up first at meetings, she risks being disliked or even—let’s be blunt—being labeled a bitch.”

What happens when I don’t feel confident?

The natural result of low confidence is inaction. When women hesitate because we aren’t sure, we hold ourselves back.

The last thing I want to do is do nothing!

In studies, men overestimate their abilities and performance, and women underestimate both. Their performances do not differ in quality.

The article focuses on the why women are not as confident and some of the results.

I know I have to fight my upbringing every day. I was raised to listen, to follow directions, and to sit quietly like a lady.

I do not agree. I do not agree men are better than me. I believe we are equals. Actually, if history has any indication, I have outcompeted my male counterparts. I have better focus and more motivation.  Yet today, I have to fight everyday the urge to bury myself under blankets.

This is an issue for every single on of us, even if you are a guy. Why? Because you may have a daughter, or a sister, or a girlfriend, and you definitely have a mother. We should encourage all women to speak for themselves. To be confident about their strengths and weaknesses. It’s the only way to succeed.

Screen Shot 2014-05-04 at 8.44.37 PMSource: http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/04/the-confidence-gap/359815/

Kitchen Update Plan

Sometimes I wonder if we should have a bought a brand new house! It sounds pretty cool renovating a house, making your little updates, and so on, but darn do costs add up rather quickly.

The next room I’m planning on updating is the kitchen. I think it will really lift up our house once the updates are finished. I have made a budget for our kitchen plan.

Here is what our current kitchen looks like:

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Here is the look I am going for:

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Instead of the gray cabinets, I will be painting the cabinets white.

Budget:

  • Paint kitchen wall with Sherwin Williams Raindrop color – $50
  • Paint kitchen cabinets – In-laws donating a gallon of white paint
  • Pendant lights – $75
  • Bamboo Shade – $85
  • Tile Backsplash for 50 sq. feet – $300
  • Cabinet Hardware – $300
  • Extra Buffer for costs I have not account for – $100

Total Planned Cost – $910

I am going to use a West Elm coupon when I buy the paint. $15 off a $75 purchase. I am, also, waiting for a Sherwin Williams sale to save even more. I missed the last sale two weeks ago. 40%! It was sweet.

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I found these awesome mason jar lights. The plan is to buy 3 lights to place over the kitchen window. Make sure to sign up for the 5% off coupon.

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I’m in love with Young House Love’s choice of penny tile. It doesn’t break the bank like other options I have been looking at and I think it’s going to look great.

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Getting the paint on sale and painting the wall is the first task! It’s slow progress because I procrastinate every weekend. But, also, I’m waiting for sales so I can snatch up things. Every penny counts when updating a kitchen on a thrifty budget.

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 now. 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, so I quit. I wish I could tell old self to keep on going with the program, because 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 quit, 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.

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