2013: A year in review

It’s that time of year when we start looking back over what has passed and what is up next on the list.  New year’s resolutions, absolutely hate them.  But, at the same time, we need to constantly make goals in our lives and push to attain them.  Just about a year ago, I set up some extremely aggressive goals for myself, trying to make 2013 a year of drastic but positive change.  Let’s take a look at how I did:

I'm pretty sure I'm the guy on the right here

I’m pretty sure I’m the guy on the right here

1.  Positive Net Worth - Technically, I hit this back in August.  Around the same time, I also made the decision to purchase a big shiny thing.  That set me back a bit unfortunately.  It ate into my savings and some of my investments but overall, totally worth it.  I’m going to have a positive net worth after January most likely (less than $1k to go) and should be easily growing this month after month from here on out.

2.  Begin really saving for a house - Well, I’m saving money.  I guess we can say it’s for a house.  But most likely, it’s for a wedding.  An overly expensive wedding!  Bah humbug to spending money.

3.  Pay off half or all of my car loan - Hah, this was crazy talk.  I paid off about 20% of my car loan this year.  I got it refinanced and started paying a bit extra.  Overall though, I decided that investing was a better use of my money than just paying off the loan.  It’ll be gone eventually, sooner rather than later, just not as aggressively as what I originally thought about yesterday.

4. Take better care of myself physically - Yeah, I think we all know how this is going.  I have started to eat better and work out more but hurting my back has definitely thrown me for a loop.  It’s bad enough that it’s going to take another few weeks for me to get back to being able to move heavy objects around but hey, it’s a marathon not a sprint.  As long as I can get back to it, I’ll be fine.

So, if we were to make a count here, I’d say I hit 1/4 of the above goals.  Not good at all, although with two of them changed midway through the year to something entirely else.  Hopefully, I can make some adjustments in 2014.  Right now, I think 2014 is going to be a great year with big events and big changes.  How did everyone else do with their goals in 2013?  Hopefully everyone accomplished some of them!

The B of A experience: Resolved

Last week I posted about how Bank of America seemed to be messing with me.  It was more frustrating than usual and I honestly was about to take my business elsewhere.  I decided that rather than spending time in the brick and mortar branch nearby, I’d call up, have them transfer cash from my checking into the savings to give it a zero balance and then close it.  I figured that this would probably save me considerable time and paid, as opposed to getting them to refund the fees, admit they were crazy, etc.  It was less than ten bucks so overall, not too much money to lose to get rid of an extreme hassle.

Turns out, I was a bit wrong about Bank of America’s customer service reps.  When I called in (to the same number that previously had me speaking with someone for an hour just to get nothing accomplished) I got an extremely helpful representative, Alex, who was able to fix the problem in less than ten minutes.  Less than ten minutes!  In fixing a problem with an account at a major bank.  I was never even on hold!  Consider the fact that Bank of America also has issues related to the recent credit card fraud at Target and has a call volume going into their centers that is way above average and it makes it that much more amazing that I spoke with an amazing representative and was never once on hold.

Because she took care of the problem so quickly and efficiently, spoke to me like she actually cared (as opposed to script reading) and just made me like the bank a little bit, I actually had her transfer me to her manager.  Now, I never do this.  Even if I’m having a bad time, I usually refrain from talking to the manager because it is rarely the fault of the person on the line.  And since a great experience while calling into a help line never happens, I’ve never had the opportunity to speak to a manager for positive reasons.  So, Alex transferred me to her supervisor and I told him how she did a great job, how the last time I was on the line for an hour and nothing was accomplished and that I really appreciated her work.  At this point, he told me something I didn’t expect: she was going to get a small bonus because of my positive comment.  Apparently, when people get positive comments to their managers (and she never even solicited me for an opinion or a survey, this was me doing it on my own), the reps can get little bonuses, gift cards, etc.  I was so psyched that my comment was going to ensure that someone got a little something extra right around the holidays.

It’s rare when dealing with banks that we have good experiences.  Most times you just see people writing about awful experiences (like me) and never about the good.  But it’s important to remember that when we do have the good experiences, we need to acknowledge them and the people that help make those possible.  If we don’t, then those people won’t be rewarded for helping and we’ll be left with the dregs of the customer service world.  And that is absolutely something I don’t want.

Just to give everyone a heads up, there will be no post on the 25th.  It’ll be Christmas and I’ll be sleeping in.  But stop by on Friday, as we will have a recap of the past year and how we’ve done on our goals.  Happy holidays everyone!

Opinion: Bank of America may be screwing with me

Ah, Bank of America.  My old nemesis.  Always trying to best serve browbeat its customer base.  And of course, with me being laid up, hurting, busy with the end of the year rush, they choose now as a time to really mess with me.  Just in time for the holidays!

You can't fool me with that patriotic spirit!

You can’t fool me with that patriotic spirit!

You see, back in August I decided I wanted to simplify my bank accounts.  I had a checking (chequing?) account with B of A, a savings account with them and a savings account with ING (now Capital One 360, affiliate link!).  The checking account and the ING account were both fine and well.  No fees, served a purpose.  But the B of A savings account was rubbish.  The interest rate was 0.02% and I had to maintain a balance of $500 in order to not be charged a $5 maintenance fee (what exactly went into maintaining an account where they got free money?).  Like I said, rubbish.  So I went to the bank, filled out some paperwork and got it closed.  They transferred everything to my checking account and the savings account disappeared from my online account setup.  That is, until Saturday.

On Saturday, I signed on to the B of A website to check my transactions, some transfers that needed to be made, etc.  And lo and behold, there was my savings account.  The one I closed four months ago!  With a negative balance from four months of fees!  Well, what do we have here?  I immediately called the help line and spoke to someone who tried his best to be really helpful.  As it turns out, I originally had this thing called “keep the change” with B of A.  When I would use my debit card, it would round the transaction up to a whole number and send the difference (the change) to my savings account.  When I closed my savings account, they canceled this program.  Since I wouldn’t have a savings account, there was no way the program could work.  Or so I thought.

Even though we canceled the program, some parts of it, somewhere in their system, were accruing and just waiting.  Last weekend, the $3 that had been just sitting around forced its way into my closed checking account, reopening it and causing it to be hit with numerous fees.  Fees for having a negative balance, maintenance fees, not fixing the negative balance in a timely manner fees.  Fees, is what I’m getting at here.  There were some.

So when I called in, I obviously wanted these all taken out and the account closed.  Like I said, the person helping me (Customer Service Rep ZK6F1SX, they have numbers to identify them) was awesome.  We went through what happened, figured out the problem, and tried to fix it.  Except, nope, couldn’t be fixed over the phone.

Apparently, the phone reps are only allowed to make changes to things that have happened in the past 30 days.  This is to help protect Bank of America from fraud.  It means you have to go into an actual branch office and talk to a real person to get this sort of stuff fixed.  To be honest, I actually understand this.  They want you to sign some stuff in person, get to know you, try to build a professional relationship.  Here’s the problem: my back arggggh pain.  While this can be fixed (and it will) I’m still just extremely frustrated that I have to go back to B of A to try to close this account.  Again!

Who else out there has had problems with their bank?  I know that some banks are better than others and some are downright crazy.  Let’s hear some of your stories!

 

Picture courtesy of Adam Fagen

So I threw out my back

I just turned 27 a few weeks ago.  Apparently, my body decided to follow up this milestone by putting me in excruciating pain.  Yup, I threw my back out moving a Christmas tree.  Because hey, it’s the holidays!  Why not right?  This isn’t the first time this has happened.  I hurt it once in college and again about two years ago.  But this time it’s way, way worse.  Both of those times it was a tweak.  Sharp pain but I was still functional.  This time is really, really bad.  Yesterday, when it happened, I actually couldn’t walk without assistance.  The pain was at a 10 all day.  Today, I’ve been slowly working my way back.  I’m able to move, I’ve been doing very slow stretches and I’m drinking a ton of water.  I also went to the chiropractor.

Ah yes, the chiropractor.  A whole new place for my money to go.  Unfortunately, the chiropractor isn’t covered by insurance.  Also unfortunately, the chiropractor costs $75 an hour and has already asked for me to come back in this week.  Jeesh.  It looks like I’m giving myself a $150 Christmas gift here.

The bad thing about all this is that, while yes, it could have been prevented if I bent my knees more, it’s not like I’m in bad shape.  I’m not in amazing shape, don’t get me wrong.  But from a strength level, my core is actually pretty good.  Or was pretty good.  Really though, this just was a terrible thing and it happened at a terrible time.  With the holidays around the corner, long drives for some work events and my mother and sister out here for a week, I’ve got a lot on my plate coming up.  Being fairly incapacitated is definitely not going to help the situation.  Hopefully I can push through this and get better much quicker than anticipated.  On that note, I’m off to stretch, put some heat on my back, and hopefully not be in excruciating pain.  Until next time!

Peer to Peer Lending: I kind of love it

I’m in the early stages of building out a Lending Club portfolio and I freaking love it.  This is seriously a great concept.  I know a couple people who have used it from the debtor side to refinance credit card debt and it seems to really work!  If you’re on the investment side, it’s absolutely awesome.  Sure, there is risk of defaults and losing your principal but overall, I’m really impressed so far.

Right now, I’ve had $1000 in my Lending Club account for just over a month.  In that time, I’ve earned $8.25 in interest.  Significantly better than my Capital One 360 account (Affiliate Link! Open an account and I will in fact get paid.) but significantly more risk.  My savings account is FDIC insured while Lending Club loans are just that, loans.  What’s more, they are unsecured loans.  This means that if the customer goes bankrupt, Lending Club and the investors in the loan cannot go and try to take any specific assets from the debtor.  You see, there is a hierarchy of loans.  The secured loans, held by a bank, are typically first.  The bank holds a the mortgage on your house or the loan of your car.  That means the loans are secured by those debts.  Credit Cards, like Lending Club, are unsecured debts.  This is one of the reasons for the super high interest rates on credit cards, as well as some of the higher interest rates on Lending Club.

So Lending Club is pretty risky.  You’re basically reviewing individuals credit scores, work history, incomes and trying to figure out if they are going to be able to pay or if they are going to default.  The lower the credit grade from Lending Club, the higher the likelihood that the loan will default.  It’s one of the reasons you could build a portfolio of loans that are all at 20% but Lending Club will estimate you’ll actually only make 12% (still a fantastic return in the long run).  But there are ways, of course, to make a better return.  If you’re up for a challenge, you can download statistical data about every loan Lending Club has ever disbursed.  It will tell you everything about the borrower and then what happened to the loan.  You can search the parameters and find certain high interest rate segments that tend to not default, giving you a better long term rate of return.  It’s kind of like a game, except you make money off it.  Who ever said that degree in Economics and the passing grade in Statistics was never gonna be useful???

Ohhhh Pens!

Ohhhh Pens!

Before you get into actually investing in Lending Club, here are a couple of things you should know:

1.  Never put more than $25 into a loan.  The minimum amount you can directly invest in a new loan is $25.  It’s my personal opinion that you don’t invest more than that. If you do, it’ll make it more difficult to potentially sell on the open market, FolioFN.

2.  Never buy multiples of the same loan.  In loan portfolio theory, you want good diversification among loans and credit scores.  If you buy multiple loans from the same source, the expected default frequency (EDF) of your portfolio will go up, potentially decreasing your returns.

3.  Don’t buy only the low grade notes.  I’ve seen some people make this mistake and ultimately get burned for it.  While my portfolio is pretty heavily skewed towards the higher interest rate loans, I still have about 40% of my portfolio in high grade loans that yield between 6% and 9%.  The reason for this is protection.  If I only had the worst rated credits in my portfolio, I could expect a default rate of probably 20%.  Instead, I’ve weighted it using certain criteria, as well as some advanced statistical analysis and backtesting, so create a portfolio with a less than 4% EDF.  The yield of the portfolio, even with this EDF, will be about 15% when it’s all said and done, giving me a good rate of return even with 40% of the portfolio in high grade notes.

4.  Always look at the story behind the loan.  Does it seem believable?  Are they refinancing their credit card or are they building an addition on their house?  Is their income verified?  Do they have a job?  How long have they had the job?  You should know all of this before you purchase a loan.

I think that Lending Club is going to become a fun segment of my investment strategy.  It’s a bit more active than some of my other investments and, oddly enough, I really enjoy it.  If you want to start out but aren’t sure what to do, feel free to send me an email. I can walk you through the setup process or point you in the direction of some good literature focusing on the topic.  Until next time!

 

DISCLAIMER:  This post and any comments are not legal, investment, or professional advice.  Depending on which state you’re in, this post may be useless to you and will probably suck to read (sorry Texas).  You’ve been warned

Why are weddings so expensive?

So it turns out weddings are super expensive.  We’ve already talked a little bit about why wedding planning sucks and the average cost of weddings in the US but now that I’m fully ingrained in the process, I’m seeing a bit more of the nonsense than before.  In this day and age, I’m used to looking up the prices of whatever I want online.  Want to compare prices of surf lessons?  Not a problem.  Skydiving quotes?  On it.  Cost of wedding venues?  Hah, forget about it.  Most wedding venues do not put cost information online.  Neither do caterers.  Why is this?  Why wouldn’t they want people to be able to find out more about their costs?

Because we’re young, dumb and in love!  That’s why.  The wedding business is a big business, $50 Billion a year in revenue, and thrives on the lack of information and efficiency.  Most of these places don’t want people to be able to know the itemized costs without meeting them.  Some places like to adjust the costs based on the people that are getting married.  Some places even make you fill out a form that includes your yearly salary.  All of this so that they can size you up and figure out how much you may be willing to pay.

Now, I’m not saying that all wedding venues are bad.  The truth of the matter here is that the wedding industry has one fantastic advantage over other industries that stands out among all else: almost everyone is a first time buyer.  You may be a great negotiator but if it’s your first wedding (and it likely is), then you don’t know where the best areas to push people are.  Maybe it’s the flowers.  Maybe it’s the chairs.  Maybe you need to hire a coordinator (more money) and let them deal with the vendors to get the best prices.  Everything costs something.

Another big problem is just random fees that seem to appear.  Maybe a caterer charges $40 per head for food, plus tax, plus service charge, plus gratuity.  So $40 a head can quickly turn into $60 a head (although a good budget SHOULD account for tax and tip.  Who knows what this service charge is).  Maybe the place is great, has a food and drink minimum that’s in your budget, great band, perfect view.  Then, boom, rental fee.  Some places charge a separate fee for the location.  Normally, this is fine.  I’ve seen them range from $500 to $2000, all of which makes sense to me.  It’s your place, might as make some extra money!  But sometimes, sometimes, the fee is outrageous.  I’ve heard of some places where the food and drink minimum can be north of $25K with a rental feee over $10K put on top of that.  At that point, things are starting to get ridiculous.

All I really want from any of these vendors is a list.  An itemized list of costs.  How much do the forks and knives cost?  Are linens included?  Is there cake (the answer best be yes)?  These are simple wishes and demands and as I trudge along, looking for a place that won’t send me to bankruptcy, I’ll be sure to keep you all informed.  I know that at least a couple of you are enjoying the oncoming insanity that seems to be brewing!

I'm just saying, Vegas wedding...

I’m just saying, Vegas wedding…

 

Photo courtesy of Andy Baker

No one is perfect

This year has been a pretty good year for me.  I managed to save up a good chunk of money, got a raise, bought an engagement ring and am on the right track financially.  So I’m feeling pretty good about myself.  Then I decided to do a bit of a comparison on my expenses in Mint.  Oh man, was I wrong.  In virtually every major category, I spent more money.  Every one of them!

Don’t get me wrong, I track my expenses.  I track every movement of my checking account, savings, etc.  What happened was lifestyle creep.  I just let things get away from me that really took a lot more out of me than I should’ve allowed.  Since we’re moving towards the end of the year and getting into goal setting mode, I think it’s time to take a look at the biggest problems with the budget last year, where we busted it the most and how this is going to change in 2014.

1.  Food and Dining

The year isn’t even over yet and I surpassed the amount spent in 2012 by over $2K already.  Dammit.  Almost $1500 of this was an increase in just going out to eat, despite trying hard to reign in that sort of spending.  The remaining $500 was all in groceries, likely due to my proximity to Whole Foods and all the awesome meats in the butcher there.  I guess there is a reason they call it Whole Paycheck after all.

So expensive but so good.  Decisions decisions

So expensive but so good. Decisions decisions

2.  Travel

I spent almost $3K more on travel in 2013 than 2012.  This is another super frustrating area.  Even though I know that I got good discounts on rental cars, flights and hotels, it pains me to see how much money I spent here.  One of the things I’m vowing to do going forward is to never pay for a flight if I don’t have to.  I’ve been following an amazing website, milevalue.com, for a while now and it’s absolutely incredible.  This guy basically figures out the best way to get miles for airlines without having to actually pay too much for them.  I’ll write more about this someday but yeah, I’m never paying for a flight again.  In fact, the Fiance and I are traveling to Dallas next month and, lo and behold, we used miles for our trip.  I had to do a bit of finagling to make it work but our flights ended up costing us $10 total.  Since we’re saving for the wedding, I’m hoping I can keep this category down a couple grand next year.

3.  Shopping 

So it turns out that, without having bought all my Christmas gifts yet, I have spent $2k more out shopping.  Normally, I would think this is deplorable BUT $1500 of this came from the purchase of my new laptop after leaving my old job.  You see, I only had one laptop (a work laptop) and had to give it back.  I really enjoyed the Macbook Pro and decided to get one for myself.  I know it will last a while and I can amortize the cost over a great while.  Additionally, the money for it came out of the vacation time I was paid out.  I know these are just excuses but, still, I did need a computer.  Wouldn’t be able to do any of my consulting or other online work without it!  The other areas that grew, well, no justification.  It may be time to turn off one click purchase at Amazon.  That’s all I’m going to say about that!

These three areas all blew their budgets big time in 2013.  Next year, I will have to be even more diligent about how I spend my money.  No more trips to Hawaii, no rental cars if I can borrow one, no new laptops.  By just by cutting out the excess spent this year I can save almost $7k next year.  If I can attack the base, from 2012, I could maybe save a total of $10K next year.  That’s half of the budget of the wedding!  While this isn’t a new year’s resolution, this is definitely in the mix for being one.  Until next time!

What you don’t know about your debt

A former roommate of mine turned me on to an article recently that I found pretty interesting.  Apparently, an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement, Rolling Jubilee, has purchased just about $15 million of debt.  But they didn’t pay $15 million for it.  Not even close.  They paid just over $400 thousand to purchase $14.7 million of medical debt, which they immediately forgave, making some peoples lives much much better.  While the purchase price of the debt may sound crazy but is actually a fairly common practice in the finance and healthcare industries.  There are companies that exist solely to purchase charged off or way, way past due debt from banks and hospitals for pennies on the dollar.  They then go and collect.  When you’re in debt up to your eyeballs and the collectors are calling everyday, well, that’s these guys.

I wish I could come up with witty slogans that rhymed

I wish I could come up with witty slogans that rhymed

Ok, so, let me back up.  I may have rushed into the idea there.  Let’s start with the concept of medical bills and debt being sold from hospitals to parties otherwise unrelated to your medical procedures.  A hospital may do $100 million in business a year at their cost but, at the end of the day, is only able to take in $30 million in revenue.  The difference typically amounts to several areas: medicare and medicaid reimbursement rates, charity care, and bad debt provisions.  The $100 million is what the cost of the services for the hospital should be but, after they get reimbursed by everyone and deal with debts and self payers, they only ever see $30 million of the revenue.

This is where the collectors come in.  A typical hospital will see about 60% of its gross revenue being medicare or medicaid based.  The remaining 40% will be broken up between those with insurance and people the healthcare industry call “self payers.”  Basically, uninsured people or people who have hit their lifetime spending cap under their insurance.  A hospital wants to limit how many of these people it sees because, typically, they will immediately write off 95-97% of self payer revenue.  So if our example hospital has maybe 15% of its gross revenues tied up to self payers ($15 million), they can sell it to a collection agency for some immediate revenue.  Looking at the example given by Rolling Jubilee up top, the hospital can receive $400K when it believed it would never receive a thing.  It saves them the time and expense of trying to collect on it.  The collector, meanwhile, doesn’t have to get the $15 million to make a nice return. If they can turn their $400K investment into $3 million, they have made a good return after expenses.

And this is where the point of this whole thing comes in: everything is negotiable.  Right now, 60% of bankruptcies in the United States come from medical bills, meaning that somewhere in the process I mentioned above, ordinary people are losing control of their financial lives.  What no one ever told them is that debt, when it is traded on an open market, is negotiable.  If someone is accumulating debt related to medical procedures or anything done at a hospital, well, the price is far more negotiable than you think.  Just look at the above!  The hospital is going to sell your debt to someone for 3% of the full price that they want you to pay.  If you can’t pay the full amount but can pay 10%, offer it!

I know this may seem like a crazy person’s advice but I honestly mean this.  I see a lot of personal debt out there.  I review financials of companies and people.  I perform due diligence on hospitals and see them losing money as the self payer amounts rise and they continuously write the amounts off.  One of the big problems in the world of healthcare is the rising cost.  A part of the rising cost is the fact that many people have, for years, been unable to afford the healthcare.  Because they can’t afford it, the hospitals write off the amounts and pass the charges along by gradually, inexorably, raising the costs elsewhere.  As they do this, more people can’t afford the care, it gets written off, so on and so forth.  It’s a bit of a terrible spiral down.  The only people who win, in the end, are the collectors.  And let’s face it, we all hate collectors!

The next time you find yourself falling into debt, whether it is credit card or medical debt, and you’re getting to the point where you cannot pay anymore, take a deep breath and pick up the phone.  Your bank, your hospital and your credit card company will all work with you to make sure that you can pay.  In the end, they just want to be paid for services rendered and you just want to be out of debt.  Remember, in the world of finance, everything is negotiable.  Until next time everyone!

 

Photo courtesy of Aaron Bauer

The do’s and don’ts of resigning

A huge part of personal finance is the cultivation of your career.  While your goal may be to reach Financial Independence, you do still need to do something to get there.  Your career will undoubtably be the biggest area of earnings for a large portion of your life and will, for years, throw off more income than your investments will.  It’s because of this that I’m a firm believer that nurturing your career is absolutely essential to the personal finance mission.  Part of this is knowing when it’s time to grow out of your current job and company and move on to a new place.  It’s almost always going to be tough if you’ve spent years in the same place, with the same people.  They become your friends and family.  But they also become your comfort zone and your security blanket, allowing you to coast a bit.  Going hand in hand with that coasting is most likely less than you’d like raises.  Typically, in a career, the only time you get big raises are for big promotions and moving on to a new job.  If you stay in the same job, you’re likely to see standard 5% raises year after year, if you’re lucky.  Maybe a bonus here or there but overall, not too much.

While I know that much of the personal finance world focuses almost exclusively on getting out of the office and into your own world, doing what you want, neglecting how to best play the corporate game is, well, negligent.  As I said before, this is where you get started making money.  When you get out of college and get your first job, you will likely be making more money than you’ve ever made before.  And when it is time to move on, there are some definite rules to follow.  Over at the people2people blog (an awesome Australian recruiting company that a friend of mine happens to work for) wrote about the 15 rules to resignation the other day and, since I recently resigned from my job to accept a new one, I thought I’d weigh in on the matter. Here are what I believe to be the top 5 items to think about with resignation.

1.  Never burn bridges: I’ve talked to people who, for some reason, want to leave their job and just piss everyone off.  Don’t.  Never ever do this.  The best currency in your life is your reputation and if you burn bridges, it’s gone.  You may have heard that before but it’s true.  Always be amicable on your exit, give good notice, and never badmouth your previous employer.  That’s just bad taste.

2.  Don’t take anything with you: I don’t mean the stapler or some notebooks, I mean sensitive client information or other such documents.  They don’t belong to you, they belong to the company.  If you take them and they find out, not only will you also be violating rule number 1 above but you could end up being sued.  Not the best option, if you ask me.

3.  Don’t ask for a counter if you don’t mean it: They mention this on the people2people blog and I 100% agree with it.  If you’re head is fully out of there, just go.  When you give your resignation to your boss, let him or her know that they don’t need to make a counter offer.  Making a counter offer actually takes a lot of work (conference calls with other bosses, taking money from the budget, maybe reducing future headcount somewhere else to keep you on) and it’s honestly not fair to put your boss through it if you won’t be staying.  On the other hand…

4. If you do want a counter, give them more than 24 hours: Like I said above, it takes time to put this together.  As a boss, you have to consult a lot of people, budgets, etc.  It’ll take time and honestly, your boss deserves a few days.  You did just tell them you may be leaving!  Which brings us to number 5.

5.  Say thank you and goodbye: people2people also mentioned this and once again, they’re spot on the mark.  You’ve spent years with these people.  Thank your mentors and give them your new contact info.  Just because you’re not there anymore doesn’t mean they won’t still help you.  If you’ve built up a good relationship, they will likely stick with you for the rest of your career.  Also, say goodbye to everyone you can but tastefully.  Never boast.  One of the things I hated most about leaving my previous job was that one of my favorite coworkers had gone on maternity leave and I wasn’t able to do it in person.  To this day, big sad face over here.

Leaving your comfort zone and moving to a new company can be a tough change, especially if you’ve been in the same place for a while.  But it may also be the change you’re looking for in your life, whether it is culturally, location, or financially.  Just remember, never burn bridges and always be a polite and courteous person when you’re leaving.  It always helps.  Until next time!

 

 

Finding extra cash in our every day lives

If there is one thing which we call all agree upon, it is this: we all have too much stuff.  Over the years we buy stuff, replace it with more stuff and eventually all of our stuff ends up in the closet together.  New stuff with old stuff hanging with the weird stuff no one wants to talk about.  The point here is that when you’re trying to rehabilitate your financial life, all this stuff is gold.  Especially when it actually is!  Where I’m going with this is that we all have movies, books, clothes, or jewelry that we don’t use or need.  And every single one of these items, although used, is worth something.  That means it’s something we can use.

We going to the pawn shop

We going to the pawn shop

When you’re looking at your financial life and you want to turn things around, you need to have a completely new way of looking at things.  If you have credit card debt but lots of shiny things, it may be time to have less shiny things.  The point is that nothing is off limits when financial freedom is the goal.  For example, I have an ungodly amount of dvds.  Near my old, scary apartment was this used dvd store that was always running a “buy two get one free” special.  In those days I didn’t have the internet in my apartment or a tv.  In fact, I didn’t even have a computer.  I watched my dvd’s on an old portable dvd player.  Dark times.  So, anyway, I’d go the store and buy three movies, paying may $7 total.  This was roughly a weekly thing (I’d get pizza once a week and it was next to the pizza place) and was a terrible use of my money.  Now, four years later, I have a massive dvd collection of terrible, awful movies.  And I need to get rid of them.  Doing some quick research, I find that there is a website (http://www.musicmagpie.com/) where you can sell old dvds and cds.  Perfect!  Just by selling half of my dvd collection, I’ll make an easy $100.  Not a ton of money but still, it’s money and it’s now in my bank.

Other people may be able to make much more money than me.  Maybe you have some really nice clothing or jewelry that can fetch a decent amount.  What we all need to do periodically is take an inventory of all the stuff we have in our lives.  Some of it may be stuff that we have no practical use for anymore but could help us pay off some debt or build our savings.  Doing this twice a year will help build an efficiency in your life, allowing you to be more aware of what stuff you use and don’t use.  In turn, this will help you to refine your spending habits further.  When you feel the need to buy something, you’ll think back to the last time you cleaned everything out and sold the exact same sweater.  There are only so many things in life we need (beer, friends, a roof) which means that there are numerous things which we can sell and eliminate from our lives entirely.  The real question here is how many of you, my readers, are willing to actually go through your things and find something, anything, you don’t use anymore and can sell for a little bit of extra cash.  Until next time!

 

Photo courtesy of  El Negro Magnifico