A Double Lesson In Carelessness

My phone rang around 7:30am the other morning, and when I saw that it was my wife calling, I knew that it was not good news.  Between 7am – 8am, it’s pretty hectic with two kids getting up, getting dressed, brushing their teeth, having breakfast, and one having to catch the bus, so that’s one hour of the day where there’s just not time for phone calls…unless something is wrong.

Turns out that my wife and I had both gone to bed the night before without doing a check mb-2015-02-oopsof the counter.  Had we looked around, we would have noticed that there was a couple of pieces of chicken sitting out for dinner the next day.  We normally don’t keep stuff out for too long to thaw, but a little extra boost helps things along. Unfortunately, we both missed it, and the time out was well past anything normal, so it was off to the garbage for the chicken.

Whoops.

It Gets Worse

About ten minutes later, the phone rang again.  I knew that we were still in the one hour danger zone, so my immediate thought was “What now?”

Turns out the chicken wasn’t the only thing!

After dinner, we’d left a bottle of salad dressing out on the kitchen table.  We have a lazy susan that on which keep the napkins, salt, and pepper, and we’ll often set condiments on there during dinner.  The salad dressing bottle was very small, so it simply blended in and went unnoticed.

Altogether, not doing a visual sweep of the kitchen cost us about $3 in chicken and $3 in salad dressing.  While $6 is not a huge deal, it’s wasteful enough that it definitely stung, and it was certainly worth two phone calls.

There was nothing we could do about either loss except throw the items away, but you’d better believe that we will now be checking things out a little more careful to make sure that we don’t leave stuff out to go bad.

Readers, have you ever left anything to spoil by not properly getting it in the fridge or freezer in time?  What tips do you have to make sure to avoid needless waste?

Copyright 2015 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Benefits To Attending Industry Conferences

I’m a project manager by day.  Once I dedicated myself to this career path, I attained my Project Management Professional (PMP) certification in 2008, and have been a member of the Project Management Institute (PMI) ever since.  The certification and affiliation are, for lack of a better term, a method to show that I understand the general practices and that I know what I’m doing.

In order to keep our certifications current, members are required to earn Professional Development Units in our field, through such activities like receiving training, teaching Project Management, working in the field, or attaining knowledge of the field.

One of the areas in which you can obtain a good amount of PDUs is by attending conferences.  Here in the Detroit area there is a conference held annually where you can obtain 40% of the annual average requirements.  I debated on whether to attend this year, as I have some ‘carry over’ units from last period, but ultimately decided to attend.

Here are some reasons why I attended and why attending an industry conference can provide benefit to you and your career:

  1. Professional Credits – As I mentioned, we get credits toward required project management practice and learning by attending the conference.  Many professions require a certain amount of training to stay current, and day long conferences (or even longer) are a great way to load up on these credits
  2. Knowledge – Our conference has a variety of presentations and panels where youmb-2015-02-conf can learn about areas which are directly tied with your interests or areas of practice, or where you can learn new areas that might be of interest.  A form of project management called ‘Agile’ is one of the newer and more popular practices, and since my job doesn’t use this methodology, I could choose to learn by spending the day at various areas centered around this topic should I so choose.
  3. Networking – When you go to a professional conference, there are hundreds or thousands of people that do what you do.  This is a great way to meet people and network.  Exchanging business cards (or mobile contact information) is a great way to stay in touch with people that could help you out with projects, with information, or could even be a potential contact for a career change!
  4. Resume builder – Many employers want to see that you can walk the walk, and talk the talk.  Showing that you have knowledge based not just on experience, but from sources that go to the industry practice as a whole, can give you an edge above other candidates.
  5. They’re often a perk – Many employers will pay for your attendance and/or grant you the time off.  My employer does not pay for the conference, but my boss has agreed to provide the day so long as I give a ten minute overview to our team at a future team meeting.  That’s a whole day away from my desk and getting a break from project work for the exchange of ten minutes, plus the time to prepare my discussion.  Not bad!

Industry conferences can be a great way to boost your knowledge, give you an edge in your industry, or give you food for thought in areas where you may want to concentrate your future attention.

Readers, does your career industry provide you with the opportunity to attend focused conferences?  In what ways have you benefited from attending a conference?  Have you ever attended one that was a complete waste of time?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Copyright 2015 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

How To Finance Your College Education In 2015

College tuition fees rise every year, making it challenging for cash-stripped students and families to afford college costs and other expenses. But with both aware of the long-term value of a college degree, most are looking for ways to finance college education.

According to a report, the 2014-2015 average tuition rise was 2.5 percent at public universities, and 3.7 percent at private colleges. The historical ten-year rate of increase is around 5 percent. However, these figures are significantly higher than the general rate of inflation. They are also quite high compared to the average rise in individual incomes.

Even if you’re cash-strapped to pay for tuition at this point, the education you’ve been hoping to achieve is within reach – provided you do some pragmatic financial planning to finance your college education. Here are some tips to help you out:

Look for scholarships and financial education

Plenty of colleges offer discounts to students who have excelled in academics during school years. Some institutions will also offer financial aid to any student who gets admitted into their course program. However, both scholarship and financial aid are difficult to come by and quite competitive, so you’ll need good grade record and excellent performance in school to be one of the exceptions.

Another thing to remember is to apply early. Some colleges will award aid money on first-come, first-serve basis, until the allotted funds are depleted. Also, students who haven’t applied for aid while getting admission are not allowed to apply for financial aid for subsequent years. Therefore, you’ll need to act as soon as possible.

Explore student loan options

mb-2015-02-capgownIn many cases, student loans become the primary source of funding. From the nearly 20 million individuals that go to college in the US, 60 percent borrow money to help pay the expenses, according to a report by the Chronicle of Higher Education. With so many people borrowing money, you might think that students are well aware of the wide variety of available options and what to expect when it comes to repayment, but this isn’t the case in reality. A remarkable number of students remain confused about their options.

Federal loans are often the first choice in the borrowing option, but private loans come into play in instances where federal loans fail to cover the full financial need of a student. While having a credit worthy consigner can help any student get a private loan, The Project on Student Debt’s research informs that private loan rates vary depending on the school attended by the student. Students and their parents can get more information here about student loan types and how to apply.

See if you can get national grants

Receiving a national grant can also pay for your entire college tuition. Identify and engage with appropriate individuals who will help you in making a grant proposal (such as teachers, collaborators, mentors, etc.). Make sure that you request support and reference letters well in advance.

And before submitting a grant proposal, get it verified and proofread to ensure it is in line with the guidelines and there are no errors. This will avert any chances of disqualification. Teachers can help students to make their proposal error-free, but students are encouraged to learn all aspects of the process to maximize chances of successful approval.

Copyright 2015 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

The Downside Of Hiring The Best People

Hiring the best and brightest is probably the goal of many organizations.  As much as we laugh at the workplace doofus (like Wally in Dilbert), we’d ever want anybody working for our company if we were in charge, right?  We’d only hire the most qualified and the most competent and everything would run smoothly.

Unfortunately in the real world, things don’t always work out that way.

Personal Experience: My Dentists Office

I have been going to the same dental practice since as long as I remember.  Since I’m 40 years old, that’s at least 35 years or so.  For most years, the practice was owned and practiced by one dentist.  He always did a great job, and was on the cutting edge of many technologies that are now standard, but were not at the time.  On top of that he’s a really nice guy.

At some point, he brought someone in to expand the practice.  At first the second dentist was an associate, and after a number of years she became a partner in the firm, with some level of financial interest.

The original dentist eventually had a health problem and had to eliminate his ability to practice.  He still ran the practice and operates as the primary stakeholder, and in order to fill the gap in patient care, another dentist was hired as an associate.

That dentist was awesome, and became the primary dentist that my wife and I both saw, as well as my parents.  After several years of being in the practice, he left.  A replacement associate was hired, and he became our dentist, and saw both of our kids as well as everybody mentioned above, meaning there were a lot of our family member that were now developing a history with him.  He was also very good at what he did.

We just got an e-mail from the dental office that he is also leaving.

At this point, there is some great concern about the rotation of dentists and whether or not it makes sense to stay with this particular practice.

On the one hand, the managing partner seems to hire great dentists.  We’ve never had anybody yet that we feel uncomfortable with or that doesn’t seem like they know what they’re doing.  The hope is that the next associate to be brought in would meet the samemb-2015-02-teeth standards.  Of this there would be little doubt.

On the other hand, he seems to hire only great dentists….that tend to leave!  My wife and father both said to me, in independent conversations, that it doesn’t seem to make sense to develop a history with a particular dentist, only to have them leave and have to start all over again.

The dentist that just left has other family members who are dentists.  While it isn’t clear, it’s a safe bet to think that maybe he’s going to go there.  Did I mention that the family office is only a couple of miles from our house?

It makes for an interesting proposition.  We’ve developed loyalty and comfort with this office, but with the high standards that they develop, they could actually be presenting us with an option that might be in our best interests to go elsewhere.

Great Associates Don’t Want To Be Associates Forever

I’m only speculating here, but my guess is that the associates themselves see the opportunity as one to develop their skills and cement their reputation as great dentists, after which, it only makes sense for them to go where they can have more opportunity, prestige, and control.

The history of all three associates (they did announce a replacement has already been hired) seems very similar.  They graduated dental school and worked at what I call a dental ‘chop shop’ for a few years.  This is the standard clinic with many dentists that advertises on park benches and late night TV commercials, and often has very incompetent dentists, but likely also serves as a way for new graduates to get their feet wet, and to stand out, at which point they become associates at a reputable practice.

However, after they prove their mettle at the next level, it only makes sense that they want to take it to the next level again.  The bottom line is that the dentists I’ve mentioned have all been the third name on the door, but likely know that they’re talented enough at what they do to be higher up.

So, they go for it.

As they should.

Look, I don’t blame them one bit.  It’s a tough sell to tell them that they should stick it out and maybe somewhere down the road they can get a piece of the pie themselves, not when they know that the opportunity is out there.  On the other hand, it’s hard to blame the managing partner.  He founded the practice, ran it by himself for a number of years, and even though he’s no longer actively practicing, the reputation that he’s built and maintained both by his hard work and by his astute recognition of top talent, has allowed the practice to presumably remain profitable.  Does it make sense for him to ‘give that up’ to try to keep the associates happy?

It’s a fine line to walk, and it makes it abundantly clear that hiring the best and the brightest certainly has its advantages, but also opens the door to other questions and problems, many times if they’re not handled right could actually hurt business.  Say my family and my parents all left the practice, that’s certainly not going to send the practice into bankruptcy, but if there are enough people that have those thoughts and act upon them, it could very well create a financial situation with negative implications over the long term.

Interesting thoughts.  As we ponder what to do with our dental future, I’ll keep you posted.

Readers, what do you think of our dental office situation?  Have you ever seen any impact where the best and the brightest talent created unwanted problems?

Copyright 2015 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.