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?  

Speak Up To Get What You Want

Do you ever notice that some people seem to have no trouble getting what they want?  What is it about them?  Maybe they’re more confident.  Or smarter.  Or lucky.  Who knows?  While some of those things may be true, it might be simpler than that.  It could be that they spoke up.  Could it be that simple?  Would it work to speak up to get what you want?  It definitely can make a difference.

The Job I Didn’t Get

I got this lesson pretty early in my career.  In my first job out of college, I was on a technical help desk.  There were quite a few younger people.  It was a great place to get your foot in the door.

I did well.  Very well.  Not to toot my own horn, but I quickly became one of the model help desk agents. Other people sought me out for questions.  They’d ask technical questions or how to deal with customers.  It was a great feeling, especially for my first real job.

A few months in, an announcement came out that one of my colleagues had been made a team lead.  He was also in the group of people that were doing really well.  He definitely deserved it.  Still, I was a bit bummed.  After all, how did he get this advancement?

Well, it turns out, he spoke up!

After a few days of being a bit down, I went to the group manager.  I explained that while I was happy for my colleague, I was disappointed that I hadn’t been considered.

The manager looked at me and said that he didn’t know I was interested, because I’d never told him as much.

Right then and there, I told him that I was interested.  And you know what?  When the next team lead opportunity came up, guess who was given the opportunity?

That’s right, yours truly.

I learned the lesson that you have to ask for what you want.  You can’t just take for granted that someone knows what you want.

How else can this apply?  Let’s look at a few recent examples.

Missing Coupons

We do a lot of our grocery shopping at Meijer.  They have a rewards program where you clip coupons electronically,

image from Morguefile courtesy of WalterWhite

and then redeem them by entering your phone number at the register.  Every so often they give you personalized coupons, based on your shopping history.  These ‘just for you’ coupons are usually pretty good, since they’re based on items you frequently buy.

My wife got an e-mail with a few coupons, some of which of course were great for us.  But, when she logged in to her account, they weren’t there.  We waited a couple of days, but they never arrived.

Now, in cases like this, you can often forget about them, or just let it go.  That’s the easy thing to do.  But I wasn’t going to do that.  Nope, I decided to speak up.

I sent them an e-mail and explained the situation.  They wrote back and said that they were aware of a glitch in their most recent batch of e-mails, and said that in order to make it up, they’d added a flat $8 coupon to come off our next shopping trip.

This was awesome.  Looking at the coupons we got, we probably wouldn’t have used enough to get $8 in savings.  Plus, we can now save the money without having to buy the associated item.  We have more freedom and more money.  And, the only ones that got anything are the ones that decided to speak up.

That Time I Asked For A Raise

A few years ago, I’d had enough.  Our company made it through the recession without a lot of layoffs, but the tradeoff is that we went for quite a stretch without getting a raise.  I accepted this for awhile, but after a certain point, enough was enough.

I waited until I was in the middle of a key project, and then asked for a raise.  Without hesitation, they granted me the raise and gave me what I asked for.   Now, I know that a few others spoke up and also got a raise, but those who didn’t never got one.  At least not until the next wave of raises came out, but I got that too.

All because I wasn’t afraid to speak up.

Be Careful

You have to know when to draw the line.  You don’t want to speak up when the occasion isn’t appropriate.  For example, I knew that I could speak up about wanting the job because I was a solid performer.  I knew I could ask for the raise because I had gotten good reviews.  I also knew that the company was doing better and could afford the raise.  Faced with a situation when a job wasn’t going well, it’s best to stay quiet.

You have to take such things into consideration, or you’ll end up not getting what you want.  Plus, you could get the reputation of being outspoken, which might not be a good thing.  Still, if you learn to read the signs and the timing is right, speak up.  You’d be surprised at how often you’ll get what you want.

Readers, when have you spoken up and had something go your way?  Have you ever misread such a situation?

Unlimited Vacation Policy? Thanks But No Thanks

I’ve seen more press than ever on unlimited vacation policy.  At first, this sounds wonderful.  Take all the time off that you want and answer to nobody, right?  Well, I don’t think it’s that easy.  Personally, I would hate an unlimited vacation policy.  However, I know that’s because of my personal situation.  I’m curious what you think.

What Is An Unlimited Vacation Policy?

Simply put, companies with an unlimited vacation policy don’t provide the standard time off allotments that we’ve all grown used to.  You’re allowed to take what you need.  However, there are things to keep in mind.

  • You have to fulfill your work obligations.  If you don’t get your work done because you’re taking too much time off, you’ll probably get pulled off the policy.  Or fired.
  • You have to have more awareness.  When you get an allotment of time off, the decision is made for you as to how much you can take.  When you don’t have that set, you have to become aware of how people in your company, or even your own work group, handle time off.  Say nobody takes more than three weeks off?  Well, that becomes the de facto standard.  It’s really only technically unlimited at that point.
  • You’ll get nervous.  At least I would.  If I take a lot of time off at one time, I get pretty nervous.  After all, if I’m able to be away for long periods of time, am I needed?  Maybe my boss would start to question that.
  • Calculating total compensation is more difficult.  Your paycheck is not truly how much ‘you make’.  You have to look at other benefits.  How much is your employer kicking in for insurance? 401(k) matching?  Everything plays a part, including your time off.  If you don’t have a set amount of time off, it becomes harder to quantify this.
Image from morguefile courtesy of jppi

Unlimited Vacation Would Suck For Me (At My Current Job)

Personally, I have no interest in unlimited vacation.  Thankfully I work for an organization that’s not exactly cutting edge, so I’m pretty sure this won’t work.  Now these are personal reasons but it shows that every situation is unique.

  • I get a lot of time off.  I’ve been with my company for over 10 years.  I also hired in when they had an extremely generous time off policy.  New hires don’t get as much, but they haven’t cut ours.  Yet.  So, I get a lot of time off.
  • We’re encouraged to use it.  You’ve all seen the stories where people don’t use their time off.  That doesn’t happen here. Our organization wants us to use the time off.  That works for me!
  • Our time off translates to money.  We accrue time off where I work.  So every two weeks I get 1/26th of my annual time off added to my bank.  If I ever quit or am let go, I get paid out at my hourly rate. If I had no time off remaining, I’d get nothing.  But, what if I had banked a couple of weeks?  That’d be like an extra paycheck.  In other words, my time off holds real, actual value.  I don’t see any reason to give that up.

So, while unlimited vacation raises the eyebrows, I don’t think it’s all that spectacular.  However, I know that every situation is different.  And, since big companies like Netflix are doing it, there has to be something to it.  Right?

Readers, what do you think of an unlimited vacation policy?  Have you ever worked somewhere with such a policy?  Would you be in favor if your current employer put it in place?  I’d be curious as to your thoughts in the comments below.  Thanks for reading.

8 Things My First High School Job Taught Me

These days it seems that the high school job isn’t as popular as it was. Between an increase in after school activities and more adults working in part time positions, high school jobs don’t seem to be as much of a norm as they were.  But they still exist.  I believe that they provide a tremendous experience.  I know it did for me.

My High School Job

I was lucky enough to work for family.  I got to work at a collectibles store owned and run by my uncle and aunt.  They opened their store right when the market on figurines and such were ramping up, and developed a reputation as one of the top collectible stores in the area.

I worked a lot of evenings (after school) and weekends.  They were closed on Sunday so I always had a day off.  In a store like that you do everything from unpacking boxes to working the registers to helping people find that just right item.

Now that I look back I realize that the experience really helped me in many ways.

8 Lessons Learned At My First High School Job

  1. Responsibility.  Having a job teaches you responsibility.  They depended on us to make sure things went well  I worked hard to earn and keep their confidence.
  2. Planning.  Getting a job was a big change.  But,learning to incorporate this into my life at that age made it easier down the line.
  3. Time Management. I learned to manage my schedule.  To this day, I

    rely on my calendar to tell me what is happening when.  Making sure I was able to honor all of my commitments when I got my job helped me.

  4. People Skills. The store was the type of business where you didn’t just ring up customers.  You had to work with them, ask questions, and really listen.  I learned valuable people and communications kills.
  5. Money.  I learned a lot from my parents, by good example, on excellent personal money habits.  But, when you work at a business you see things from a different perspective.  This is where I learned a lot about cash flow, basic accounting, credit, and such.
  6. Product Info.  The store sold a lot of items that customers got really excited about.  We had to stay on top of knowing what is new, what is hot, etc.  Many times people came in with no idea what they really wanted.  Knowing the product made sure that I could point them in the right direction.
  7. Relationships.  My uncle developed a lot of relationships.  He would often spend an hour chatting with someone, and they’d walk out empty handed.  Over time I learned that more often than not, they would come back and become regular customers.
  8. Working With Others.  There were a few of us that worked at the store.  Being able to work as part of a team is important, and for me, this started here.

What Is Your High School Job Experience?

Readers, I’m curious how your first high school job went.  Did you have one?  Was it something you enjoyed?  What lessons did you take that you still use today?  Let me know in the comments below.  Thanks for reading!

Have You Observed Gender Equality During Your Career?

The recent women’s marches across the country got me thinking.  They seemed to originate from Donald Trump being inaugurated President, but were tied to a number of different issues.  One of the issues that I heard mentioned several times was ‘equal pay’.  It’s been well documented that women often receive less pay than do men for the same job.  This gap has narrowed over time but still exists.  The marches got me thinking about my personal experience in this area.  I’d like to share my personal experiences with gender equality in the workplace, and I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments.

There Is Inequality In My Field (But With A Catch)

I’ll start off by saying that I know that there is a big skew in my field.  I work in IT, and it’s always been that more men than women are employed in the IT profession.  So, looking at sheer numbers doesn’t really give a fair comparison.

I will say that I’ve worked with some amazing women throughout my career.  Just a few examples of the great colleagues I’ve had:

  • One woman ran the entire web design area of the company when companies were first developing their online presence.  She was fully responsible for developing many companies first appearance in the digital world.  I learned a lot about drive and motivation working with her.
  • I’ve always been praised for my communication skills.  I’ve been able to work well with technical teams, but also very well with people who aren’t technical at all.  This skill has a lot to do withone woman that I worked with at my first job outside of college.  I started off on a technical help desk, and the woman sitting next to me had a great ability to work with customers.  I picked up a lot from her and morphed a lot of what I learned into my own style.  My communication skills help me to this day, and I know that my random desk assignment next to this awesome woman is a big key.
  • My current cube-mate is a great woman who teaches me new stuff every day.  She’s been in the profession for 15 years longer than I have, and is an expert in our online tools.  Any time anybody has a question about this particular tool, they come to her.

Gender Equality In Management

My dad told me a story that I think is crazy, but I know it’s true.  Someone he was close with once worked side by side with a woman.  When a management position became available, they both vied for it.  When the woman got the promotion, his colleague was so incensed that he quit.

That’s right, he actually left a job because he couldn’t take the thought of having to work for a woman.

The only type of glass ceiling we should see.
Image from morguefile courtesy krosseel

This was a long time ago, probably back in the 1970’s or thereabouts, and while I’d like to think that this was more a sign of those times, you have to wonder how much of that exists today.  It’d be nice to say ‘none’ but even 40 more years isn’t all that much time.

For this post, I sat down and looked at my experience with my managers.  In the roughly 20 years in my professional career, I’ve had 13 managers (when we’ve both been in our position for six months or more).  The breakdown is:

  • 7 women manager, 6 male managers
  • Approximately 10 years under each

It doesn’t get much more equal than that.

I’ve had some great managers and some awful managers across both genders.  There’s not one particular gender that I prefer or that prefers me, if I look at things objectively.

I’m Lucky

I think that I’ve been pretty lucky as to my experience.  I never really sat down and thought about the numbers I just listed.  For me, I’ve just looked at each experience as part of my career.  But, to realize that I’ve had equal management opportunity both genders shows that I really haven’t seen inequality.  I would say that I’ve seen fairly equal gender opportunities during my time.

I also know that I’m very lucky to have been able to say that.

What Are Your Experiences On Gender Equality In The Workplace?

I would really love to see what the experiences of others are out there.  Have you had both male and female managers?  If you’ve been promoted, what are your experiences?  I’d love to hear from both men and women.  Please let me know your experiences and any thoughts in the comments below.

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.