Category Archives: Personal Development

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.

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.