Category Archives: Motivation

December Net Worth = Early Holiday Gift

After a small decline in net worth in November, I’ve made a very strong comeback in December … thanks to stronger stock market returns and a decision to pay off almost half of my college debt.

On to the numbers …

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Daily Dimes 10/2/09

I try to avoid this most times, but today I think it’s important to take a (quick) look at the macroeconomics of it all.

The American economy brushed another 263,000 jobs off its shoulder in September, raising our unemployment rate to 9.8 percent. While the 263,000 is much less than the 700,000 jobs per month our economy was eliminating earlier this year, the fact that unemployment continues to rise means we’re kind of in between a rock and a hard place: We’re probably out of the worst part of the recession, but times aren’t so great yet that businesses are willing to hire for new positions.

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Daily Dimes 9/30/09

Sometimes, we allow our personal finances to take over our lives a tad too much. Especially today, we are constantly bombarded with news about layoffs, economic indicators, bulls, bears, and other animals used to describe our economy. Consequently, we forget that there are other more important things to which we should be attending.

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My Golden Parachute

We haven’t heard much about it lately in the media, but the idea of a golden parachute came from the tremendous severance packages chief executive officers of large companies would get upon leaving their respective companies. We’re talking about millions of dollars in cash, stock options, and anything else of any real value that they could throw at them.

When we had our major financial collapse last year, there was intense scrutiny on these CEOs who were being removed from their posts for, well, failing to do their jobs. But, they still got crazy packages, golden parachutes if you will.

Today, we’re not going to be talking about millions of dollars worth of stock options or an eight-digit lump sum of cash. We’re going to talk about how to utilize any substantial monetary gift you receive from family, friends, or circumstance for the betterment of your financial health.

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Daily Dimes 9/21/09

Ca-ching! Hear that? It’s the sound of America’s total net worth actually increasing for the first time since 2007. I kid you not. According to this post on Consumerism Commentary, the increase in the past quarter was $2 trillion, bringing our total net worth to $53 trillion. That’s the most it’s been since the end of 2007, when Americans were collectively worth a cool $65 trillion. While this is a positive sign amidst news of rising unemployment and a shrinking job market, the article cautions readers to look at their increases with a wary eye. The stock market has rebounded much quicker than many thought, and since that can be a large part of many people’s net worth calculations, it could be a temporary rally. It also wasn’t immediately clear from this post if the increase took into account inflation between 2007 and now. I agree with the assessment, though with all of the doom-and-gloom stories lately, this is definitely nice to hear.

Now, if the term net worth makes you scratch your head and wonder, check out my post on budgeting basics. I believe that knowing your net worth (a basic equation of assets minus liabilities) is a staple, a must. It is imperative to calculate yours before creating any personal financial plan of value. If you don’t know what you’re literally working with, how can you create any worthwhile goals for yourself to work toward?

Speaking of planning and looking ahead, a couple in this blog post are looking at all of the different calculations, expenses, and possibilities they will have to plan for once their child is born. Having a baby seems to be tough enough — I don’t have any real-world experience there — but managing that along with the couple’s goal to pay down debt (which is highlighted on the left-hand side of the post’s page) can be downright nerve-wracking. I won’t go into the specifics of what exactly the writer was assessing in the post — what is really cool to me here is the long-term planning and practical, short-term legwork the couple has been undertaking during this hectic time.

This follows several of the commandments I put forth when I launched this site — particularly the one about having a disciplined plan, but having the wherewithal to be flexible when necessary. Having a baby, taking leave from work, and figuring out how to juggle all of those changing expenses while maintaining your debt-reduction goals is definitely a good time to reassess.

Last, President Barack Obama is going to ask the G20 this week in Pittsburgh to discuss rethinking and reshaping the global economy as a response to what Reuters deemed as “the deepest financial crisis in decades.” (On a personal note, as a journalist, I appreciate creative ways of trying to avoid the words and phrases including “recession”, “downturn”, and “worst economic period since the Great Depression”. “The deepest financial crisis in decades” is a good one.) According to the article, one of the biggest points of emphasis is going to be a “rebalancing” of the import/export relationship the top countries have been engaging in for awhile now. You know, trade surpluses, deficits, currency reserves, all of those things that people like you and me think about deeply every day. Psht.

Let the bigwigs try to hash things out. You ever hear of the phrase, “If I don’t look out for me, who will?” I’m not trying to say Obama is or isn’t looking out for us; I’ll leave that to you to decide. I choose to only look at these types of stories on a high level and focus on my own personal finances. Why? To ensure I am still in a good situation despite what goes on in the macroeconomics world.

I strongly urge you all to do the same. Take the information I give about my own financial journey, the tips and tricks I share here, and start getting smarter with your money today.

What type of topics would you like to see here, and among the tips and tricks I continue to share with you all?

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Recession Got You Down? Get Creative.

There is a plethora of information about how bad the job market is — now more than ever. Workplace suicides have hit an all-time record in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2008, workplace suicides rose 28 percent to 251 from 196.

U.S. hiring outlook also took a dive, as employers plan to hire fewer workers in the last three months of this year according to a study from Manpower Inc. Furthermore, the study says two-thirds of U.S. Employers are not planning a change to staffing, which reportedly is a higher proportion than normal. California’s unemployment rate just reached 12 percent.

The job market is so bad right now in the U.S. that older workers are too scared to retire. New reports say that they are putting off retirement in order to rebuild savings they lost when the market crashed last year. Sixty-three percent of those between the ages of 50 and 61 say they will put off their departure from the workforce.

Consequently, younger Americans (namely twentysomethings) are feeling the pinch. Whether it is entirely qualified college graduates not able to even get an interview or the ones that do have jobs are being forced to do more without any positive change in pay, we are feeling it. (I recently had a friend I grew up with my entire life call this a no-motion. I can’t agree more.)

It’s tough out there — no doubt about it. Whether you’re unemployed or underemployed, if you continue to focus on the negative it will just throw you off your game. There are plenty of stories out there about recently laid-off individuals who began businesses or started ventures they never would have thought of doing if they had kept their jobs. I have several friends who have started their own public relations firms, decided to freelance, taken sabbaticals to finish their graduate degrees, and also taken on the graveyard shift at jobs so they can spend standard office hours searching for jobs and working on side projects.

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Weekly Roundup

It was a busy week in the world of finance. We saw the one year anniversary of Lehman Brothers forcing our economy off a cliff, plenty of stories about simple budgeting plans, and the realization that prejudice is still prevalent in the employment chase. In this edition of Weekly Roundup, we’ll take a look at the good, the bad, and the downright ugly.

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