9 Money Goals Everyone Should Have

Rich or poor, working or retired, blue collar or white collar.  None of those things or any other will get around the simple fact that money is important.  As such, there are certain things that everybody should do with their money.  These don’t mean that everybody should approach money the same way.  It just means that in some fashion, each of the below items should be on everyone’s list of money goals.

Have A Rewarding Career

Don’t hate your job.  It’s just not worth it. You don’t have to love every minute of the day that you’re at work.  That’s just not reasonable.

But you should enjoy what you do.  You should feel that you’re making a difference.

Make Your Job About More Than Money

Money is great, but it’s not everything.  You want to have enough to pay the bills and enjoy life, but always look at the trade offs.  If you’re missing your kids grow up or losing your friends on account of your job, reconsider your priorities.

Money is a means to an end.  Treat your career accordingly.

Have A Fallback Plan For Your Income

Your job may seem like the most secure thing in the world.  It might not be tomorrow.  You might love your job more than anything.  That could change in an instant.

Always have an idea of what you could do next.

For some this could be another position or a contract job.  For others, maybe you have a side hustle that you could do full time.

Whatever the case, be prepared.

Save Money

Whether you’re just starting off and on an entry level salary or you’re rolling in it, save money.  It’s important.  Even if you’re paying off debt, save money.  It’s a cushion to fall back on that everybody needs.

Budget And Track Your Money

Do you know where your money goes? Do you know where you want it to go?  You should be able to say yes to both of these questions.

Now, you might not want to track down to the level of every dollar.  Or maybe you do.  Whatever your style is, you need to do both of these things for money success.

Understand Your Investments

If you invest on your own or through a 401(k), it’s important to know what you’re investments entail.  Even if you have an adviser, you need to know where they’re putting your money.

This won’t guarantee you will never lose money, but chances are, if you understand where your money is, you’ll end up with more of it than someone who doesn’t.

Be Well Insured

If you drive, you need auto insurance.  A homeowner? You need insurance on your property.  What if you rent?  You need insurance on your property.  If you have family that counts on your income, life insurance is key.

Understand the different types of insurance and know what you need.  Make sure it’s current.  Your needs today might be different than tomorrow.

Look over your policies and your needs at least once a year.  As part of that, bid out your insurance to see if you can find a better price.  This is one area that changes often.

Know Your Credit Like You Know Your Family

Your credit is the basis for almost anything you do with money.  You can’t get loans without good credit. You can’t pay your bills if you have too much credit.  Some employers won’t hire you if you have bad credit.

The bottom line is that you need to know your credit.  Know what you owe.   Know your score and what it means.  Keep track of such things regularly.

It’s one of the most important things you can do for your money.

Have Vision

What’s the use of money if you don’t have a plan for what to do with it?  Of course you have your needs today that must be accounted for.  But also know what it’s there for long term.  Plan.  Have a vision for what your money will be doing for you down the road.

These are some items I think are of utmost important for anybody that thinks money is important.  That’s you, right?

Readers, what do you think of this list?  What are some of your personal money goals that might not be on this list?  

Copyright 2017 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.

11 Ways To Have A Bad Job Interview

Looking for a job is not a fun process, at least to most.  It’s often stressful, frustrating, and can have many ups and downs.  I’m very grateful that I’ve had my for over ten years as the number of interviews I’ve had has been pretty small.  There are a lot of things you want to do to improve your chances of getting your dream job.  Additionally, there are things to avoid.  Here are some of those things you want to make sure NOT to do so that you don’t have a bad job interview.

Show Up Late

First impressions are everything, and if you’re not there on time to give your first impression, you’re in trouble.  People interviewing for a job usually have a tight schedule.  If you show up late, that is seen as very disrespectful and can be very disruptive.

Show Up Too Early

The best way to avoid being late is to show up really early.  But, if you stroll in too early, I think that can be just as bad.  Nobody is going to want you sitting around for half an hour before you’re supposed to be there.  Chances are the person doing your interview won’t have time to see you early.  So, while it makes sense to arrive with plenty of time to spare, make sure you sit in your car.

Skip Your Homework Assignment

Any time you go for a job interview, you should have detailed knowledge about the job as well as the company itself.  Making sure you know the job description is on you, as is understanding the basics about the company you are applying to work for.  If you try to wing it, the person interviewing you will probably think you’re not very serious about the position.

Look Unprofessional

If you don’t look professional, chances are people won’t think you’re able to do professional work.  Showing up to a job interview under dressed, poorly groomed, with dirty clothes, or smelling of body odor or cigarette smoke is going to score you zero points.  Make sure to look the part.

Crack Jokes

If you find a punchline in everything, chances are you have a great time in life.  That’s all fine, except you’ll probably want to scale it back for an interview.  As funny as you are, it’s not a requirement for most jobs, and so people doing interview will probably not appreciate your humor.  If you get the job, you can lighten the atmosphere with your repertoire of knock-knock jokes, but keep it in check until then.

Get Someone’s Name Wrong

If you’re introduced to someone, it’s a good idea to refer to them by name.  Just make sure it’s the right one.  This goes especially for anyone that’s doing your interview.  Many will laugh it off, but it still sticks in the back of their head that your attention to detail is lacking.

Babble

People doing interviews want to find applicants who are qualified for the job.  Speaking for two minutes on an answer that could have been given in thirty seconds will not help you.  It will likely hurt you.  While you don’t want to give one word answers, make sure to stick to the point.

Ask Dumb Questions (Or None At All)

You’ll likely be given a chance to ask some questions about the position.  Don’t ask questions just to fill the time.  Also, don’t ask complex questions.   Make sure you come with a list of thoughtful questions that the person interviewing can answer.  You want your questions to show your interest in the job.

Bring Up Money Or Benefits

This is a huge red flag.  An applicant should not bring up money, vacation time, health care, or anything else along those lines.  If they’re brought up into the conversation, it should be done so by the person conducting the interview.  If you’re interviewed and bringing this up, it reflects very poorly on you.  Don’t do it.

Lie

Lying is about one of the worst things that you can do in an interview. A person conducting an interview knows how to read people and body language, so they’ll often be able to spot a lie.  Even if you get away with it in the interview, it’ll likely come about at some point.  After all, if it’s being asked in the interview, chances are it’s important.  Lying is guaranteed to cause you trouble sooner or later.  Don’t do it, ever.

Forget A Thank You

At the end of an interview, you want to shake hands, look the person doing the interview in the eye, and thank them for their time.  This is a given.  You also need to make sure to thank them for their time afterward, whether it be through an e-mail, letter, or phone call.  It may seem like an old fashioned practice, but nonetheless, if you forget it, you could end up blowing an otherwise perfect interview.

Recovering From A Bad Job Interview Is Hard

If you make one or more of these mistakes, it can often be difficult or impossible to recover.  With many jobs attracting many more candidates than there are positions, so chances are someone else won’t make the same mistakes.  The best thing to do if you found that you’ve messed up is to continue on, and if the situation calls for it, apologize.  But the best piece of advice is try to avoid having a bad job interview in the first place.  I hope that these tips have helped.

Readers, have you ever had a bad job interview?  What happened?  Did you recover or did you know it was over?  Let me know in the comments below.

Copyright 2017 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.

Why You Should Ignore The Doomsday Stock Market Predictions

The stock market has not been pretty as of late.  All three major US indexes are in or have at some point recently dropped into correction territory, which is noted as a 10% drop.  Some stock market predictions are coming out that are driven by pure fear.

The bulls that drove the stock market to more than double over the last few years have taken a break, and the bears have been more than happy to step in and finally be right.  However, I think that there are some who are way off the mark.

Is This 2008-2009 All Over Again?

There are many out there who will happily tell you that the stock market is headed for another crash like the one that happened in 2008-2009 when the markets lost over half their value in about an 18 month period.

They claim that the Fed artificially propped up stock prices over the past few years.  They warn that the market will return to those pre-prop levels.

Some claim that the global economy is so dire that the entire world is going to crash and burn any day!

Others just say that we’re in a bubble and it’s going to burst!

To all of that and any related thesis about an imminent market crash, I am very skeptical. Let me explain why.

Here are four reasons that I don’t think the market is headed for a crash.

There are no signs of a foreclosure crisis on the horizon

Remember the early 2000’s, when prices in just about every neighborhood were skyrocketing?  10% increases in mb-201312billscoinshome values a year?  No problem.  People could buy a home and be comfortable that they’d turn a profit in as little as a couple of months.  However, as we now know this was all built on a house of cards caused by bankers giving out loans that they should never have been doing.

Look around today.  While home prices have largely recovered, the volume isn’t there.  There’s less houses being sold.  This is a good thing.  It means people are actually buying and selling because they need to, which removes most of the speculation that drove the previous rise and fall.  While there are flippers out there, the practice is much less common and you have to actually know what you’re doing to make it work.

In other words, this is a fairly normal housing market that has solid footing, and while values could flatten or even decline, the crash in prices and spike in foreclosures seems very low risk.

Banks aren’t built on a muddy foundation

Remember the images of Lehman Brothers closing?  People walking out carrying boxes.  A giant building suddenly with no purpose.  A company that had handled and been responsible for trillions of dollars and in business for well over a century suddenly….gone?  We all saw the images and they hit home.  The fact is, while Lehman was the only major casualty of the giant banks, it could have gone further.

Luckily it didn’t.

When it all shook out, it turns out that very few banks were in great shape.  Most had gotten so consumed with the housing mess that it could have all come tumbling down.  Lehman wasn’t fortunate enough to get another chance, but many still did.

And the results show today.

Banks now must routinely go through stress tests, where a simulated economic disaster takes place, and banks must show that they have the liquidity and the financial strength to weather the storms.  When these stress tests first rolled out, very few banks passed.  Now, all the major banks have showed strength and routinely passed stress tests.

Is every bank guaranteed to survive some economic event that might happen? Of course not.  But, the industry as a whole is now must stronger and is not at risk of collapsing at any moment.

Unemployment numbers are solid

One argument that the mega-bears use is to point out that economic recovery is slowing.  This is true, but when you compare it to a few years ago, is this really a big surprise? We were just coming out of the biggest economic catstrophe in 80 years, so when things started going in the right direction, it was no surprise that things started picking up quickly.

Unemployment stands at just over 5% today.  That’s the lowest in years, and while employment gains are shrinking, I believe that it’s because of what the numbers show, that many people have jobs.

Many people will counter that argument by stating that the unemployment number is flawed, because many people simply dropped out of the workforce.  To me,  by empirical evidence alone, it’s pretty clear that more people are back to work these days.  I just don’t see the Facebook posts of people sitting at home looking for work.  I have automatic alerts about jobs in my area for my profession, and I see the number of opportunities getting bigger in number.  The current unemployment numbers don’t indicate a problem.

On top of that, I also think that the fact that unemployment has grown slowly and steadily over the last few years is a reason for strength right now.  Many past recoveries saw job numbers grow very quickly after a recession, only to see the large gains get undone at the first sign of trouble.  I believe in our current economy, employers have added jobs as they are truly needed, and the risk of them quickly unwinding the hires of the past few years is low.

Other countries do not drive us (though they can ride shotgun)

But….but…..China….and….Greece……yeah….they go down, we go down.

Isn’t that what many fear mongers have been preaching over the last year?  Every time China slows or Greece slows, the market goes into panic mode and the perma-bears pat themselves on the back in satisfaction.

Whatever.

The fact is that while we now have a global economy where things in other countries will impact us from a financial perspective, we still drive our own economy.

Let’s think about this?  The last time the situation in Greece came about, the stock market lost more value than the entire annual GDP of Greece!  Again, I understand the situation was no laughing matter, but perspective sometimes gets lost, and those who want to see doom and gloom will latch onto any little bit of news and make it seem like the entire country was going to basically fall into the ocean and all economic activity would cease.

Greece, China, and other countries will all have issues.  Will they impact us?  Sure.  But are they going to blow our economy out of the water?

Not likely.

So what does it all mean?

Am I here to tell you that the stock market shouldn’t have fallen?  No.  Am I hear to tell you that it won’t fall more?  No.  In fact, I could be completely wrong about everything I’ve said.  Maybe the market will tank.

But, I don’t think it will.  I’m keeping my portfolio aligned with that opinion (and that’s all it is).

I don’t see the perma-bulls getting hold anytime soon.  Will the Dow hit 20,000 this year?  Probably not (though wouldn’t that be nice!).  But will it go under 10,000 like many seem to love to call for?  I just don’t see it happening.

There will likely be a lot of volatility.  I think right now this is caused more by the market sensing fear and trying to shake out the weak hands.  Unfortunately, if this is true, a lot of people will get shaken out, suffering losses, and then they’ll miss out on the upside again.

That’s what the fat cats on Wall Street loves to do to the retail investor.

Before you make a big market move, make sure you look past whatever people are saying.  Everybody has their own agenda, and it may not match yours.  Understand for yourself what’s going on.  Make your decisions from there.

You might be right and you might be wrong, but at least you won’t be trusting someone else.  Because let’s face it, all those ‘someone elses’ don’t have the best interests in mind for your money despite what they say.

Readers, what do you think? Is the market headed for a crash or a rise or somewhere in between?  I’d love to hear your predictions and thoughts on what’s driving the market these days.

Copyright 2017 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.

Reasons To Consider Leaving Your Job (And Reasons Not To)

I recently thought about my current job and realized that I have been employed here for eight and a half years.  That’s over double the time I held any other job in my professional career.  It got me thinking about what has kept me here, but I decided to look at it more from the angle of why haven’t I left.  Thinking about it, I boil it down to a few different things.

Three Big Reasons I’ve Stayed At My Job For So Long

  • mb-2014-12jobappRewarding Opportunities – I’m an IT project manager, so I’ve worked on numerous different project since I’ve worked here, and I’ve had the opportunity to work on a couple of standout projects, where I increased my skills, had high visibility, and made a difference that was noticeable and long lasting.  These included being part of opening new facilities as well as working in complex migrations of existing healthcare facilities that required precision, teamwork, and detailed planning.  Both went well and taught me new things about my profession and myself.
  • Work/Life Balance – Even in the most stressful project I’ve worked on, the stress level is relatively low.  I enjoy working but I also enjoy the time I get to spend with my family, and the current job affords me that very well.  I definitely take that into consideration when comparing my job to others.
  • Valued and Respected– I feel valued at my job.  My managers appreciate what I do and I feel as though I am making a difference to the organization and my group, and my peers and leadership respect me and my work. I’ve been at jobs where good work is not valued, and this is a terrible thing.

There are other reasons that I enjoy my job, but these are three.  This leads into a discussion of things that might make you determine that it’s time to consider moving on to a new job.

Reasons To Consider Leaving Your Job

  • You dread going to work – If you wake up in the morning and the very idea of going to work makes you want to stay in bed or brings your mood down, then this is not a good place to be.   You could actually be harming your health and well being, and if it’s affecting your mood before you even get out of bed, you could even be causing harm to your relationships.  Look at the percentage of time that the average person spends at work, driving back and forth from work, and getting ready for work, and there’s just too much there to accept being unhappy.
  • Your future looks the same as today – If you feel like you’re doing the same thing each and every day, but you have hoped for more, it might be time to consider leaving, especially if your future prospects look a lot like today’s prospects.  Actually, for many people, this is fine.  If you’re comfortable and happy and can see a few more years keeping you that way, then this might be OK…for now.  But if boredom is creeping in or has completely taken over, it might be time.
  • Your prospects for advancement or change are dim – Looking at the item above, many times companies have opportunities that could keep you there and provide you the movement you need, whether it be upward or lateral  with different skills.  However, if the company doesn’t have those prospects or if they aren’t available to you, it might be beneficial to consider looking elsewhere.
  • You aren’t feeling challenged – There are some careers where every moment is a challenge and you feel overwhelmed.  There are others where there are no challenges whatsoever. I don’t want either of those.  I enjoy my job because I get challenged to do new things on a regular basis.  If you do, and you’re no longer getting those challenges, you might be ready to move on.
  • You’re peaking – On the flip side of the last few items, it’s very well possible that you are hitting a high point in your career, and even if you’re perfectly happy, you might be able to ride the wave to bigger and more exciting things at your company.  Chances are if you’re hitting all the high notes where you are, there are other companies that would appreciate that.  Use your leverage should the opportunity feel right. (See my personal follow-up in the last paragraph about how this applied to me, and how ‘leverage’ is often the key word)
  • Things have changed in an unsatisfying way – Change starts happening the moment you start any job.  Managers leave.  Employees come and go.  Job requirements change.  The culture can change.  The overall economy has effects far and wide.  In the eight and a half years I’ve been here, a lot has changed, but my place and perception has continued to fit well. I’m lucky.  I’ve been in organizations where things were perfect, but then for any number of reasons, change happened and it was no longer a fit.  If you once felt in place but now feel out of place, something has changed, and it might be time to look for somewhere that’s a better fit.

Reasons Not To Leave A Company

I’ve listed a few reasons to consider leaving.  Here are a few reasons that I would not consider as reasons to drive a job change.

  • Money – This one might seem surprising.  After all, who doesn’t want to make more money?  I list this with a caveat, that money should not be the only driving factor.  If you feel you need to look around for a job that pays better, then chances are this already aligns with some of the reasons above, in which case it’s fine.  Money should be the secondary factor in any decision to leave your job.  But, if you’re perfectly happy in your job in all ways except you go looking for more money, I would exercise caution, as more often than not I’ve seen people perfectly happy in a job go somewhere to make 15% more, only to find multiple items from the above list make their switch a negative experience that they would likely not do if given the chance.
  • You haven’t approached management – If you aren’t feeling challenged or are looking for new skills that you aren’t getting, before leaving, I always advise talking to your manager and explaining your position.  While there are times where the opportunities simply aren’t there, I’ve seen on many occasions where management simply wasn’t aware that the employee was looking for something different.  One word of advice, if your manager does promise to give you more challenges, opportunity, or the like, make sure you get an established timeline, as it has happened that management will tell an employee what they want to hear only to avoid losing them, figuring that they’ll forget about it after a few months time, so make sure to work on a plan and hold them to it.  If they fail to deliver, then you can leave knowing that the opportunities truly weren’t there.
  • Following someone – I have seen several occasions where someone left a company for another, and talked about what a great experience it was.  Former co-workers follow, figuring if it was that great for the first person, it has to improve their scenario,only to find out for whatever reason that it’s a poor fit.  Just because the guy that used to sit on the other side of the wall talks about what a great job it is across town, doesn’t mean it will work for you.  Every employee is unique, they all have different wants and desires and need different challenges and opportunities.  What fit for them may not fit for you.  Make sure if you do take a referral from a former colleague, that you filter out some of the noise and make a decision that’s right for you…not for them.

Have I Considered Leaving?

Now that I’ve laid these items out, I figure it’s worth noting my personal experience in the eight and a half years I’ve been here.  I seriously considered leaving one time.  I just got moved into a very high visible position for which few were qualified, so I was ‘peaking’.  I hadn’t gotten a raise in quite some time prior to that, but I knew that making money the primary issue was not the approach I wanted to take, so I waited until I was fully entrenched in the new position, doing very well, and knew that the company would likely have risk of not meeting important deadlines if I left, and took the opportunity to look around, get an outside offer, and use that as leverage to request a raise.   My request was promptly authorized.  I couldn’t have asked for a better scenario.

Readers, what are some experiences you’ve had or witnessed in terms of the right or wrong reasons to consider leaving a job?

Copyright 2017 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.