Category Archives: Careers

Be Intentional

I recently attended a leadership training seminar at a local college.  This seminar was about managing the multi-generational workforce.  The facilitator covered many topics and I am not going to get into any of those details in this post.  He said many interesting things, but the one statement that made me think was that he said that we should always be intentional.

Everything we do should be with intent.  Our actions should have an intended outcome.  Our words should have an intended message.  Even our thoughts should be focused and have a purpose.

The purpose of this training was meant for workforce development.  The message can easily be applied into everyday life.  It is ideal for managing money.

Too many people just coast in life.  They walk around making noise and bumping into things.  By not having a plan, they will just land at a random destination.  What could possibly go wrong with that approach?

To be successful in all your affairs, practice being more intentional.  A great place to start is with how you manage your personal finances.  You should know the why behind everything that you do.

Savings

Do you know what your savings rate is?  You should be able to answer this question without giving it any thought.  Is it 10%, 20%, or more than 30%?  Your savings rate is the most important factor that will determine if you will reach financial independence or not.  It is also one of the rare aspects that you have control over.  Nobody can control what the S&P 500 will return this year, what direction interest rates are headed, or if there will be a spike inflation.  Everyone, however, can control what their saving rate is.

Spending

Your savings rate is directly impacted by your spending.  Do you just spend money without thinking?  Do you go to the mall, outlets, or online and buy things that you do not need?  If you want to change this trend, become intentional with your spending.  Before you buy something, ask yourself if you need it or truly want it?  If you must spend the money, did you shop around for the best price?  Is there a low-cost alternative to making the purchase?  Even if there isn’t a better alternative, at least you did your due diligence and gave thought to the purchase.

Debt

Does your credit card bill arrive, and you cringe when you look at your balance due?  Do you make late payments or just pay the minimum balance on your credit cards?  Do you know what your credit score is?  Do you know what your debt-to-income ratio is and what a healthy ratio should be?  Do you know how to calculate your debt-to-income ratio?  If you want to improve how you manage debt, take a more intentional approach.  Learn what your credit score is, identify if you have too much debt for what your income is, and ultimately establish a plan to get out of debt.

Earnings

I bet you know what your annual salary or hourly wage is?  You get a paycheck every week or bi-weekly, so you are reminded frequently about that rate.  Do you feel that you are underpaid?  Doesn’t everyone?  Maybe you are underpaid or maybe you are overpaid.  Before you ask for a meeting with your supervisor demanding a raise, you should do your homework.  Be intentional and research what the market rate for your position is based on your location and level of experience.  If you are under market rate, you might have a case.  If you are over market rate, but not satisfied, you might need to develop more skills or ask for a more challenging assignment.

Investing

If someone asked you what type of investor you are, could you answer them?  Are you a market timer?  Do you buy and hold equities?  Are you a passive investor who invests in a few different mutual funds?  Do you simply try to capture what the market returns with a total stock market fund?  Do you use value tilts?  Do you buy dividend stocks?  Are you trying to get rich by investing in Bitcoin?  You are free to decide how you invest your money, but you should know the why behind your plan.  Your approach to investing should be intentional.  Nobody knows what the future market returns will be, but you should at least know what you are intending to accomplish with your asset allocation.

Financial Independence

Do you know how much money you need to have in savings to reach financial independence?  To declare financial independence, the general rule is to have 25 years worth of living expenses in savings.  That is based on a 4% withdrawal rate that most financial professionals consider to be acceptable.  Do you know if you have obtained this milestone or how close you are?  Most people who reach financial independence do not get there by accident.  They live intentionally for many years.

Early Retirement

Do you have a target-date as to when you want to retire?  It might be next week, or it might be in 10 years.  If you have an established early retirement date, what are you doing to make that goal a reality?  Are you doing everything you can to maximize your salary and taking on side gigs?  Are you saving until it hurts?  Do you have the right mix of investments to both reach your goal and sleep comfortably at night?  If you do, you are acting in an intentional way.

Conclusion

The nice thing about being intentional is that you can start this process now.  Start by reviewing your current financial situation.  Can you answer why for all your financial decisions?

If you have a financial plan, use it as a guide.  If you do not have a written plan, write one.  That is a good starting point if you want to become intentional.  Review your plan for areas of your financial situation that might need to be amended.

Some fixes are quick, and others require time to implement change.  Moving forward, wherever money is concerned, ask yourself why before you make a final decision.  If you cannot answer why you are doing something, give it some thought and find out what your true intentions are.

This is just another example of how to improve your financial situation.  It provides a pause before you act.  Sometimes giving a decision an additional few seconds of thought can turn a bad decision into a good decision or a good decision into a better decision.

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Joining a Board of Directors

Have you ever thought about joining a board of directors for an organization that you are interested in serving?  I recently was invited to join the board of directors for a local non-profit organization.  It was flattering to be invited.  Of course, I jumped at this opportunity to be of service.

My wife has always been involved in community and church service.  Slowly, her good nature has rubbed off on me.  Over the past few years, I have volunteered to help the clients at the local chapter of The ARC to prepare for job interviews.  It is such a rewarding experience.  When I finish with a lesion, I feel that I receive back more in gratitude than they receive in development.

By joining this board, I see it as an opportunity to give back more to the community.  The board that I joined is for The Mature Workers Program that is part of the National Council on Aging.  It was a good fit for me since I work in HR for a not-for-profit healthcare organization.

There are many benefits of joining a board of directors:

Career

Joining a board of directors is a smart move for your career.  It looks great on your LinkedIn profile.  It shows that you are service orientated.  By being on a board of directors, it reflects that you are a well-respected individual by people of influence.  It shows that you see the big picture.  When a potential employer sees that you volunteer as an advisor, they interrupt it as that you want to contribute to something that is bigger than yourself.  Those are all great characteristics that might not normally stand out on a standard chronological resume.

People of Influence

Many boards attract people of influence.  It is common for boards to be made up of lawyers, executives, community leaders, business owners, and other financially independent people who are passionate about an organization or cause.  It is an opportunity to meet and interact with these folks.  It is a chance to partner with them and work to improve the organization that you now help to oversee.  It is a networking opportunity that is not readily available to everyone.  By closely interacting with these individuals, there is the potential to develop close relationships with them because you share a common bond.  Work to foster those relationships.  You never know how or when those connections can be helpful in the future.

Community Pride

Do you care about the area where you live, an organization, or a cause?  By joining a board of directors, you are able to have input.  Today, everyone has an opinion, but by being on a board of directors, you have an option that matters.  It is an opportunity to become a community leader and to develop an abundance mindset.  Even if it is on a small level, it is still a trusted role.  It is a position where people care what you have to say.  Everyone might not agree with you, but you still have a voice and a vote when it comes to the management of the organization that you serve.  It is truly a position of respect.

Leadership Skills

Being on a board of directors will help to develop you into a leader.  You will have to review and approve of budgets.  You will have input when it comes to shaping policy.  You will be presented with the goals of the organization and how management is working to reach these goals.  As the member of a board of directors, you are responsible to lead and to present input that shapes the best practices of the organization.  Your negotiation skills will be sharpened.  You will learn true team building skills as you work with other board members to shape the future direction of the organization.

How to Join

In most cases, you must be invited or elected to join a board of directors.  There are organizations, however, that are looking for people to join.  First, do research on organizations that you are interested in.  Try to identify organizations that have a mission, vision, and values that you feel strongly about.  Do some deeper digging and find out if you have any connections to the organization.  Use LinkedIn to identify possible connections.  Share your interest in the organization and look for ways to volunteer.  After you learn if the organization is a fit, make a formal request to join the board or to be nominated if the selection is based on an election.

Conclusion

The organization that I am now on the board of directors for wants to increase the number of clients that they serve.  They have an adequate marketing budget.  They run television ads, radio ads, and attend most community events where people over the age of 55 might attend.

At my first meeting, I suggested that they allocate some of the marketing money towards social media and brought up the idea of creating a blog.  The suggestion went over well.  It is going to be added as a topic for debate and to be voted upon at a future board meeting.

I have truly enjoyed my short experience serving as a board member.  It feels good to be able to give back.  It has been a privilege to volunteer my time.  I am looking forward to future board meetings and for the opportunity to be of service.

Have you ever served on a board of directors?

If yes, please share your experience.

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Know Your Competition

We start competing the moment we are born.  Competition is everywhere.  Completion is natural.  It is the cycle of life.  Eat or be eaten.  We must compete every day.  Only the strong survive.

When I was a boy, our dog had a litter of puppies.  They too were competing from their earliest days.  They would compete to get to the bottom of their basket to stay warm.  The puppies would compete with their brothers and sisters to get closer to mom to eat.  When I would watch and care for this litter, it did not take long to establish who the alpha of the litter was.  He always ate first and would not roll over when playing with the other pups.  How could such a young and tiny dog have established such will?

You might not see yourself as an alpha or even a competitive person.  If you are working on reaching financial independence, odds are you are more completive than you might think.  I would guess that you are very competitive.

Before I really gave it much thought, I never saw myself as a competitive person.  For the most part, I am a laid-back guy.  Growing up, I played baseball but was not very good.  The only football that I have ever enjoyed playing was when I played Madden.  The chess club or the debating team were also not for me.  I always saw myself as a Type B personality.

The first time that I realized how competitive I truly was when I read about capitalism.  I realized that I was competitive when I read that capitalism as an economic system where trade and industry are controlled by private owners who compete for profit.  I have been competing for a buck since I started earning a paycheck.

Even though I have only won a few trophies and awards in my life, I am hyper-competitive.  My whole adult life has been focused on competing.  I am not referring to being in competition with my neighbors.  What they have is not my concern.  The type of competition I am referring to is competition with myself and society to reach my goal.

I set a lofty goal.  My goal was to become financially independent.  For anyone to reach financial independence, there will be a great deal of competition.  On the road to that level of success, a person will have to face off against and defeat internal and external competing forces.

Postponing gratification is a form of competition.  The ability to save money is always at odds with the desire to spend money.  It is like there is an angel on one shoulder saying to save as much as possible.  On the other shoulder, there is the temptation to spend and waste money.  Temptation says if you want to be happy, buy that new car, house, or boat. You can afford it and you deserve it.

It is easy to give in to temptation.  Who wants to work hard and sacrifice to get ahead?  How can anyone sacrifice for decades to become financially independent?

Spending and having a good time is much easier than saving and investing for the future.  Internal competition is fierce.  At times, It is an internal fist fight.  It certainly felt that way for me.  As the saying goes, it is harder to conquer yourself than to conquer a city.  in order to conquer self, a person needs to develop emotional intelligence.

While it might be harder to conquer yourself, the external competition is also not exactly easy.  Most resources are limited.  Everyone is fighting to get ahead.

If you own a business, you are competing with other businesses and market forces to be successful.  Even if it is a side gig, there is still competition.  To survive, a business owner must provide the best products or services at the lowest price.

While it might appear that being an employee is easier than being an entrepreneur.  Being an employee is far from being easy.  An employee must compete to land a job.  There is competition to keep the position.  There is competition with peers to advance in the organization.  If your boss is a jerk, dealing with them brings on a level of competition.

The competition does not end after you earn the money.  There are competing forces who want to take your money.  Marketers are out to sell you stuff that you do not need.  They don’t care if you land in debt.  They are just competing to sell you something and to take your money.

You might have to compete at home to keep your money.  You might have your emotions under control, but your family has their own needs and desires that need to be considered.  It is not easy to keep a family on a budget.  It takes creativity to keep a family satisfied and not bored.

They might be the most difficult completion that you have to face.  You should not play a zero-sum game at home unless you want to have your family resent you.  It is wise to approach this level of competition with good faith and to negotiate.

Competition truly is all around us.  We face competition daily.  It does not mean that you are not competitive just because you were not the captain of the basketball team in high school.  For some people, it takes longer for their competitive drive to develop.

If you have decided that you want to be successful in this world, that thought alone requires a competitive nature.  If you are taking the required steps to get ahead in life, you are more competitive than you give yourself credit for.  If you are working on reaching financial independence by paying off debt, saving, sacrificing, and investing, you are extremely competitive.

Do you see yourself as being competitive?

Please share in the comment section below.

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2017: Year in Review

2017 is in the books.  2017 was a year to remember.  It was full of surprises.  You never know what is around the corner.  At the start of 2017, creating a blog was not on my list of things to do.  The Financial Journeyman blog is now almost 9 months old.  That is just the result of being present and taking advantage of what life has to offer.  I have even greater expectations for 2018.  Below are some of the major highlights from the past 12 months:

Career

2017 started off on a high note.  My boss called me the first week of January and told me that I was getting a promotion. With the promotion came an 11% raise and a $1,000 bonus for a project that I completed in the fall of 2016.  I was excited and did not know that this promotion was coming.

The only major change the occurred was that I now had one employee to manage.  I did not see it as a challenge.  My new employee Jill is a super smart and motivated Millennial who has overcome some major hurdles in her life.

Over the past 12-months, it has been a pleasure to help my assistant develop.  Jill is on the right path.  She is contributing to her 403B account, just completed a Graduate Leadership Training course at Binghamton University, and is consistently asking me to be a part of projects that I am working on.  It is my goal to help her transition into a management role in the future.

Meeting the Bogleheads

In February, I attended my first local chapter meeting of the Bogleheads in Philadelphia, Pa.  I have read the Boglehead’s two books and browsed the forum for many years.  To break-up the boredom of winter, I decided to attend a local chapter meeting.

It was great to meet and spend time with this group of people who are working to reach financial independence by following the teachings of Jack Bogle.  If you are interested in passive investing and using low-cost index funds, I suggest you visit Bogleheads.org and check out a local chapter meeting.  I am looking forward to attending the February meeting in Philadelphia.

The Financial Journeyman

On April 8th, The Financial Journeyman was created.  It has been quite an experience.  As a result of creating this blog, I have been able to interact with so many great people.  I am meeting new people every week.  The purpose of this blog was to share my journey toward financial independence with the world and to try to help others who are on a similar journey.  This blog has become so much more than I expected.  I look forward to what the new year has in store for this blog.

Reaching $1,000,000 Net Worth

I was not sure if I was going to share this milestone.  After much thought, I have decided to share it because my blog is anonymous.  The purpose of sharing this milestone was to inspire others what is possible if you live below your means, limit debt, save as much as you can, and invest your money wisely.  It felt great to reach a $1,000,000 net worth at age 40.  I am grateful to have this financial foundation as my wife and I continue to work on our ultimate goal of early retirement.

10th Wedding Anniversary

In August, my wife and I celebrated 10 years of marriage.  It is crazy that 10 years went by so fast.  It has been a productive decade.  It has been the best decade of my life.  I feel blessed to have Lori as my wife.  She is my best friend.  There will always be ups and downs in life.  While I have experienced more ups, it is great to share all of it with my wife.  I truly believe the best is yet to come.

London & Paris

To celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary, we traveled to Europe for a week-long vacation.  It was our first trip to Europe. We had an amazing time visiting both London and Paris.  We got lucky with the most favorable exchange rates between the Dollar to Pound in recent history.  If you like to explore new cities and enjoy history, take a trip to London.  You will not regret it.  Just be prepared to spend some money because it is expensive.

Rockstar Finance

I have been a fan of J. Money for a few years.  When I created my blog, I had the goal of writing a post that would be good enough to be featured on Rockstarfinance.com.  It took me about 10 weeks to write and edit How the Mob Influenced My Asset Allocation.  It felt great to see my post shared there.  I now feel like a legitimate personal finance blogger.  I am proud of the “As Featured on Rock Star Finance” tag on my blog.

If that was not exciting enough, I had a second post Keep Your Hands Off My 401K featured as well.  My audience has grown tremendously as a result of the exposure that I received from Rockstar Finance.  The personal finance bloggers who hang out on the Rockstar Finance Forum are a great group of people who work to help everybody in the personal finance space succeed.

ESI Money

ESIMoney.com is one of my favorite personal finance blogs.  Some people build wealth by way of entrepreneurship and others do it by working for someone else.  ESI Money is focused on building wealth by climbing the corporate ladder.  That has been the approach that I have followed up to this point in my career.  Along with providing comprehensive investment advice, ESI Money has a cool motivational series that features interviews with millionaires.  I was featured as M25 in this series.  The interview received a great response.  In case you have not heard, John from ESI Money now owns Rockstar Finance.

New York Personal Finance Meet Up

I was not able to attend FinCon 2017.  I did, however, attend the next best event for personal finance bloggers.  That event was the New York Personal Finance meet Up.  The New York Personal Finance Meet Up was an informal meeting of more than 20 personal finance bloggers and internet entrepreneurs.  It was great to meet and chat with some of the financial independence bloggers who I often read.  It was also an opportunity to meet new people who are working, saving, and investing with the goal of reaching financial independence.

Keep Thrifty

The last highlight of the year was to be interviewed on Keep Thrifty.  Keepthrifty.com was one of the first personal finance blogs that I started to read after I created The Financial Journeyman.  Chris and Jaime write excellent content about paying down debt, saving, taking a mini-retirement, and raising a family.  It was a pleasure to work with Jaime to write and edit this interview.  She did a good job of getting me to share more about myself than I have in any previous post.  Please check out the interview if you would like to learn more about the beginning of my journey to financial independence.

Conclusion

2017 was a great year.  There were many pleasant surprises.  While I had high hopes for a productive year, I did not expect it to be as good as it ended up.  Moving forward, I am simply planning on continuing to do what has worked in the past and keep my eyes open for new opportunities.  My goals for the upcoming year are:

  • Continue to save at least 50% of our total gross income
  • Become proficient in Travel Hacking (Travel to Ireland for free)
  • Publish 5 blog posts per month
  • Continue to grow blog traffic
  • Attend FinCon 2018

Please keep an eye out for the fourth quarter blog performance metrics from The Financial Journeyman in early January 2018.

WARNING: The Holiday Party Can Kill Your Career

It is that time of year again.  The Holidays are upon us.  With the holidays, comes holiday office parties.  Companies like to have these events to celebrate this festive season with its employees.  These events are to be enjoyed, but you also should be on your best behavior.  I have witnessed holiday parties kill many careers.  The purpose of this post is to coach you on how to prepare for these seemingly harmless events and to avoid career-ending landmines.

An Interview

Treat your company holiday party like it is a job interview for a promotion and not a wedding.  It does not matter if you are a new employee or have been with the company for many years.  People are watching you.  HR is documenting poor behavior.

Do not treat this event like it is an evening out with your friends.  It is not happy hour.  It is a work event.  It is no different than your monthly staff meeting.

Prior to attending, find out who is going to be at the event.  Prepare in advance who you want to chat with.  It is the perfect opportunity to get on the radar of senior leadership.  Don’t mess it up.

Alcohol

Many holiday parties serve alcohol.  Do yourself a favor and do not drink.  If you must drink, limit yourself to one cocktail.  Even if there is an open bar, use caution.  This is not the place to demonstrate your tolerance for alcohol.  Even if your co-workers or boss is drinking, focus on yourself.

My suggestion is to Abstain from drinking for the evening.  This is about your career and future with the organization.  Alcohol is a social lubricant and you do not want to get too comfortable and look foolish in any way.  Your reputation is on the line.

The holiday party is only a few hours long.  You can manage to not drink that evening.  When the event is over, you are free to go to the bar with your friends and relax.

Dancing

If there is dancing, participate if you like.  It is fine to slow dance with your guest.  It is also acceptable to have fun.  Just do not overdo it.  It is not wise to show off your dancing abilities and to draw attention to yourself.  If the option is between dancing or not dancing, it is better to be a wallflower and not be noticed.

I once worked with a woman who was on the fast-track to becoming an Office Director and supervise 120 employees.  She was smart and talented.  Clients and employees liked her.  Her advancement track ended when she showed up at the holiday party wearing an inappropriate outfit, drank too much, and made the CEO’s wife dance with her.

Corporate employees were there from many different states.  Many took photos and videos of her dancing.  She was acting like nobody was watching.  Unfortunately for her, everyone was watching.  As unflattering as it sounds, she was given the nickname “The Dancing Bear”.  Her advancement up the corporate ladder ended.  She was passed over twice for two promotions.  Her career advancement stalled and she left the organization.

Your Guest

If you bring a guest, be sure that they are on their best behavior.  Warn them that this is your career and that they are not allowed to drink alcohol.  If they do not agree, it is better to not bring them.  Their behavior is a reflection of you and your decision-making skills.

At my previous employer, my Director, and her husband showed up late and intoxicated to the corporate holiday party.  While we were in the serving line at the buffet, her husband was loud, using vulgar language, and criticizing the quality of food.  My Director was unaware, but the owner of the company was four positions behind them in the serving line.  That following Monday, she was called by the Regional Director and was severely reprimanded.  She was later punished by being transferred to a poor performing region with the goal of making that office profitable.  She was unable to do so, was put on performance review, and ultimately separated from the company.

Sexual Harassment

This is a serious issue.  Even if your holiday party is held at a hotel or convention hall, the same work rules apply.  If you are in a management position, be aware of the sexual harassment employment laws.   Study what constitutes quid pro quo and hostile workforce sexual harassment.  Do not touch your co-works or make any comments that might be offensive.  Think before you say or do anything.  This also applies to people who are not in management positions.  There is zero tolerance for this type of lewd behavior in the modern workplace.

Conclusion

At my current employer, we have decided to do away with the traditional holiday party that was normally held on a Saturday evening in early December.  We now have a 2-hour party at the Corporate Office on the Friday before Christmas.  The event is catered, but we do not serve alcohol anymore.  Some people complain, but it is better this way.

I strongly suggest that you attend the holiday party.  It is a good move for your career.  If you are not there, it will be noticed.

If you do attend, make the most of the event.  Enjoy the dinner.  Be cordial, work the room, and mingle with everyone.  Use it as an opportunity to show off that you have class.  It is the perfect event to display that you are a good representative of the organization.

Have you ever witnessed someone ruin their career at an office event?

If you have, please share your experience in the comment section.

Planning on working until age 70?

Should you plan on working until age 70?  This suggestion has been surfacing in the mainstream financial media.  It is perfectly fine to work until age 70 or beyond.  It should not, however, be the age that your retirement planning is based upon.

Some people like to work.  It gives them purpose.  Work adds structure to the day.  For many people, it is their identity.  Their job is who they are.

Even if you truly enjoy your job, it is practical to have exit strategy in place.  Life happens, and changes occur on many different levels.  It is prudent to have a plan that enables you to exit the workforce sooner rather than later.

There are many reasons why a person should not set their target retirement age to 70.  Planning on working at such an advanced age is difficult because there are too many variables.  Below are some of the concerns that I have with planning on working until such an advanced age:

Financial Planning

If you set your target retirement date for your 70th birthday, it will have a negative impact on how you manage your finances.  It might even prevent you from creating a financial plan.  Savings will not be a priority.  Without an ambitious goal of retiring at a young age, the temptation to spend most of your money will win out every time.   The motivation to save a large percentage of your earnings for retirement will not be a priority while you are working.  It can easily lead to the mindset of thinking that retirement will never occur, you only live once, enjoy it while you are young, and other poor money management theories.

This mindset can easily lead to a financial disaster.  It would also be much easier to take on debt.  Spending leads to more spending.  If you must work forever, you might as well have a nice car, house, and other stuff to show for it.  You will be stressed from all that work, so two or three expensive vacations would provide just enough rest and relaxation to keep you motivated.

Health

Unless there is a major medical discovery, our time on this planet is finite.  Nothing lasts forever and that includes our ability to work.  As time goes by, we break down.  Everybody is different, but it happens to the best of us.  If you have a physical job like a construction worker, your ability to perform your job is shorter than if you have an office job.

Even though Office work is not physically demanding, it is not healthy.  Some say that sitting in front of a computer all day is as bad for your health as smoking.  In other words, sitting also breaks down the body from lack of exercise.  Along with our bodies, our minds are not able to manage stress and deadlines the way it did when we were young.  Our egos might not like to accept these facts, but it is just part of being human.

Family

As life goes on, our family obligations change.  Parents age and require more of our attention.  They might even require us to become their primary caregiver.

Children require attention past the age of 18.  Grandchildren are born and need to be cared for.  Daycare is expensive.  Your children might ask you to watch their children, so they can go to work and earn a living.  There are many family situations that could require a person to have to stop working much sooner than age 70.

Job Loss

What will you do if you get laid off in your 50’s, but your financial situation requires you to work until a much later age?  Recessions occur about every 10 years as part of the business cycle.  Some companies go out of business.  Some companies survive by cutting labor expenses to remain profitable.

Unless you have a tenured position, in many cases, the first employees to get laid-off are middle managers or older employees.  Loyalty is a thing of the past.  Just because you were loyal to an employer, it does not mean that they will be loyal to you.  Just because you want to retain your position, it does not mean that they will retain you.

Age Discrimination

Age discrimination is a real issue.  Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an employer cannot discriminate based on age.  The protected age under Title VII is 40 and older.

Even though it is illegal to discriminate based on age, unfortunately, it occurs.  I have had to coach hiring managers and executives many times about this law and practice.  They do not set out discriminate.  They just tend to see younger prospects as being more budget-friendly and motivated than mature workers.

Just because you want to keep working, there is no guarantee that the type of work that you performed during the prime of your career will be available.  You might think that you can still perform at a high level.  The hard part is convincing an employer that you still can do it.

It is Not Fun Anymore

Even though you enjoy your job today, it might not always be that way.  Your assignment might change.  That great boss who supports your development takes on a new assignment and your new boss is a jerk.  The co-worker who you are friends with gets a new position.  The demands change.  The company is bought by a competitor.  There are countless things that can occur that can turn a good job into a terrible job.

What Age Should People Plan on Retiring

It is prudent to plan on being able to retire much earlier than age 70.  I would suggest setting a goal of having the option to retire by age 55 or younger.  That does not mean that you must retire at that age.  It simply means that you have the means to step away from work if you must.  By being financially independent, you simply have more flexibility for whatever life has in store for you.

By setting a younger retirement age, you will manage your finances more wisely.  It forces you to start saving a large percentage of your earnings as soon as you enter the workforce.  It will force you to spend less and avoid wasting money on stuff that you do not need.  It will also help you to avoid consumer debt like credit cards or auto loans.  It will force you to live and spend smarter.

If work is your passion, don’t give it up.  I hope that you can work until you are able to call it quits on your terms.  Never the less, life does not always work that way.  Plan for the worst and hope for the best.  That is why planning to work until age 70 is not a good plan.

Become a Nurse

 

If you want a meaningful career that pays well and offers stability, consider becoming a nurse.  No matter if you are a traditional student or an adult learner who is planning on going back to college, becoming a nurse is an excellent career to consider.  Nursing is a growing field.  One great benefit of this field is that it allows you to earn while you learn.

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

To become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), most programs are only 18 months long.  These degrees can be obtained at a vocational school or community college.  In most states, after a nursing student finishes the Intro to Nursing or Nursing 101 class, they can sit for their states Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) License.  This allows a nursing student to work as a CNA while they are still in nursing school.  Working as CNA will allow you to earn a wage that is higher than what other unskilled jobs pay.  It also allows you to gain experience and develop your bedside manner as a caregiver.

Once you become an LPN, there are many job opportunities.  Many hospitals don’t hire LPNs anymore. Never the less, there are many job opportunities in home health care, long-term care, school districts, and in primary care offices.  The average wage for an LPN is more than $22 per hour.

REGISTERED NURSE (RN)

While you are working as an LPN, it is a smart career move to become a Registered Nurse.  To become an RN, only an Associate’s Degree is required.  This degree can be earned at most community or Junior Colleges. Becoming an RN will give you the opportunity to work in a hospital.  There are a vast amount of different nursing positions including ICU, Med-Surge, ER, and Pediatrics.  The average wage for an RN is almost $32 per hour.

BACHELORS OF SKILLED NURSING (BSN)

If you are interested in a Bachelors Degree in Nursing (BSN), most hospitals will provide tuition reimbursement or assistance towards the degree.  Earning a BSN allows a nurse to advance into a specialist or management position.  With a BSN, a nurse can work as a Facility Educator, Case Manager, or become an Administrator. The average salary for those positions range from $72K to well over $100K.

MASTERS OF SKILLED NURSING (MSN)

There are also advanced degrees in nursing.  A nurse can go to graduate school for a Masters in Skilled Nursing (MSN) or even a Ph.D. program.  An advanced degree gives a nurse the credentials to teach at a university.  An advanced degree is also required to become a Nurse Anesthetist or a Nurse Practitioner.  Both of those positions have an average annual salary of over $104K.

CAREER OPTIONS

Another benefit of becoming a nurse is the stability and variety of career options that it offers.  Due to the aging Baby Boomer population, the demand for nurses is more than almost any other profession.  The demand is projected to grow by 16% annually up to 2024.  Also, if you are not interested in working in a hospital setting, you can work for a law office auditing files, the government conducting surveys of facilities, in healthcare marketing, or in the insurance industry.

It does, however, take a special person to become a nurse.  A person must have compassion for others. There is little room for error, so one must provide excellent care.  Also, you must be reliable because patients are counting on you.  If you feel that you meet those qualifications, consider becoming a nurse.  It is rewarding on many levels.

Locus of Control

“A man who conquers himself is greater than one who conquers a thousand men in battle”.

– Buddha

As of late, I have come across the topic of locus of control a couple times.  During a strategic planning meeting at work, the Vice President of HR mentioned that we need leaders who have an internal locus of control as part of the committee that will be implementing our new strategic plan for our health care centers to comply with The Triple Aim.  I have also recently come across the topic at a leadership training seminar at Binghamton University.

So, what is Locus of Control and how is it relevant to your personal finances?

Locus of Control is a concept by Julian Rotter that became popular in the 1960’s.  It is based on the degree of how much power people have over situations in their lives.  People who have an internal locus of control think that they can influence events in their lives.  People who have an external locus of control blame others or outside forces for everything that happens to them.

People who have an internal locus of control tend to be self-aware.  They are empathic towards others.  They are good at self-regulating their emotions, thoughts, and perceptions.  People who have an internal locus of control normally are good at delaying gratification in spite of having an abundance mindset.

Those who have an external locus of control are more likely to be the bellwether.  They are a good indicator of trends or predictions of a group.  They value feedback, believe in fairness, and focus on the actions of others.

Locus of Control can play a role in how successful you are in the long-term.  If you have an internal locus of control you are more likely to believe that it is up to you to take charge of your life and take the required actions to succeed.  For those who fall into the external locus of control group, it does not mean that you will not be successful, it just means that you put more stock into luck vs will.

Saving Money

A person with an internal locus of control is very likely to be committed to saving money.  They feel the need to be self-reliant.  They want to make sure that they have enough resources to take care of any situation that might occur.

A person who has an external locus of control is less likely to worry about saving money.  They are likely to feel that the system is rigged and saving is impossible because everything is so expensive nowadays.  Even if they tried to save more, they believe that something would happen and they would have to spend the money anyway.

Debt

Those who have an internal locus of control are less likely to have excessive debt.  That is because they can display more control over their financial situations.  It is ultimately their responsibility to manage their financial situation and do not want to error and fall behind to a creditor.

For those who have an external locus of control, debt is an easy solution to a financial situation.  Since they do not have enough saved or feel that they are not paid enough, they can justify the debt.  They will fall into the mindset of “it will get paid” or “hopefully, I will come across a windfall to pay it off”.

Investing

People who have an internal locus of control are more likely to be savers.  Since they feel like they have the mastery over their life, they are going to invest their money to improve their financial situation and work towards reaching financial independence.  They are willing to invest in a business, education, or stocks to put themselves in a better financial situation.

People who fall into the external locus of control group do not tend to be investors.  They are less likely to invest in stocks because they are too risky.  If they do invest and lose money, they feel that it was fate and they should not be putting their money at risk in the first place.

Careers

Employees who have an internal locus of control start their career by being prepared for the job interview.  They assume responsibility for failures and look for ways to improve their performance.  They credit their success on effort and preparation.

Employees who have an external locus of control feel that jobs are awarded to people based on politics or nepotism.  When something goes wrong, they do not assume responsibility, but rather blame others.  If there is a positive outcome, it is viewed as just being lucky.

Do you have a high Internal or External Locus of Control? 

Are you curious to see if you have a strong internal or external locus of control?  Please see this article on the locus of control at mindtool.com.  It has a 22-answer test to determine if you have an internal or external locus of control.

What can be done about the Locus of Control

In my K.I.S.S. approach to Financial Independence, I have stated that this blog is about being positive and honest with yourself.

With that being written, what can you do if you want to shift your external locus of control more towards the center?

You can start by being more mindful.  Start by being more aware of how you are feeling and responding to situations.  For example, if someone at work gets a promotion and you feel the promotion was awarded due to favoritism, stop and identify that thought as being linked to your external locus of control.  Change the narrative in your mind to “they worked hard for the promotion and if I work hard, positive events will come to pass for me too”.

Take a mental inventory of each situation you face.  How are you responding to situations?  The solution is based on adjusting how you think about external situations.

Conclusion

If you find that you have a high external locus of control, stop being a victim to this state of mind.  Take charge of your life and destiny by changing how you are mentally framing situations that occur in your life.  If you do, great things are sure to happen.

Changing your locus of control is not easy.  It is, however, possible if you are willing to be vigilant.  Take a personal inventory every day and follow it up with positive action.