Money To Live

August 17, 2013

Create money to live

Hmmmmmm… I sat down to write this blog post at my usual schedule. Ideas popped in, but none flowed into writing. I willingly spent a few hours procrastinating. I reminded myself, as any writer knows, that you just have to do it.


Today’s blog message is simply this: to create money to live, you just have to create money to live. Do you know how to earn more money? Do you know how to save more money? Do you know how you can improve the quality of (the value you experience from) your money? Go create money to live!


July 6, 2012

The second paycheck

Filed under: career,family finances — by moneytolive @ 3:34 pm

Since having a baby, I changed the way we handle our paychecks. Before, everything went into our joint account and was then siphoned off to a savings account or used to pay bills. Now, though, my paychecks go into a separate account, at a different bank.

I keep my paycheck separate to make sure that I earn enough money to cover the costs of working – childcare, house cleaner, prepared meals, …

A few weeks ago, I talked about this with a friend. Her family was in a financial transition (big boost in income), and she decided to set up their finances the same way. Her partner’s paycheck would cover all expenses, and hers would go into a separate account.

Despite being reassured on a Friday that her job was safe, on the following Monday she was unexpectedly laid off. Amidst the unpleasant aspects of a layoff, she was very appreciative that she had already set up their day-to-day finances without depending on her income.

October 17, 2011

Financial planning – should you count on a raise?

Filed under: career,earn more — by moneytolive @ 3:00 pm

I’ve had two jobs with amazing raise/promotion potential. At one, I was told, "You’ll be making five times your current salary in 3 years." Three months later the company imploded. At the other, I was told, "You’ll get a $20k raise each year." Less than 6 months later, there were layoffs.

I’m skeptical about promised raises.

Several months ago my husband came home with information about his possible raises in fall 2011. His manager said he’d most likely be in a certain band, so we had a good idea of what type of raise/bonus he’d get. Should the projections be factored into future financial plans?

I did factor the raise and bonus into our finances, and what do you know … the bonus was cut in half. His manager’s prediction was right on target, but the bonus was reduced because R had only been on the job for half the year. The raise was exactly as predicted. I reread the raise/bonus information sheet, and sure enough, in tiny print at the end there was a statement that compensation increases may be prorated.

While R was a little disappointed by the smaller bonus, I was mostly amused. Once again, predictions of bonuses and raises do not pan out.

September 27, 2010

Costs associated with working full time

Filed under: career,cost analysis,spending — by moneytolive @ 5:00 am

There are extra costs involved in working outside the home — gasoline and clothing are two common examples.

For me, I would also need to find someone to walk my dog every day. To keep my sanity, I would get a grocery delivery service and a cleaning person. The cleaning costs could vary from $50-$100/ week, depending on how much we needed. I’m estimating at the higher end because in the summer we would have to pay someone to do the weeding and lawn care that I do. If I am honest with myself, I know that I won’t pack a lunch every day, and I’ll end up eating out more frequently.

I spend a non-trivial amount of time making sure that we don’t get ripped off — and it’s resulted in $2-3k of savings this year alone (disputing the purchase of flawed merchandise, holding credit card companies accountable for their advertised rewards, disputing false information on our insurance reports, …). I’ll lump that category into “extra fees” that we avoid by me having the time (and energy) to fight for the money.

To even consider taking full time work, I would need the salary to trump my current annual wages by $23k! Of course, there are some very real benefits of full-time work — employer match to retirement savings and health insurance, to name a few.

What do you think of these expenses — did I leave something out, or do you think this is ridiculous?

I’m earning $X now (where $X could swing +/- 10% in any given year), and I would really only consider working full time for $2X, which would more than cover the extra expenses. But is it worth it?

August 30, 2010

Vacations with and without full time jobs

Filed under: career,travel — by moneytolive @ 5:00 am

I am currently on my honeymoon. Scheduling our honeymoon was not easy. We sandwiched it in between some of my jobs, and we bought more expensive plane tickets in order to be back in time for me to start a new contract.

A few weeks before my wedding, a friend wrote this in an email:

I am working pretty hard at work this week because my boss went into a panic when he realized how soon it was before I went on vacation for two weeks.  Note: I originally told him about this vacation in May. He is worried that he is going to get a request for something while I am gone and not know how to use my tools to produce the requested results.  I have been offering to teach him and other people for months, but it hasn’t happened.  Now in addition to everything I have to finish before I leave, I also have to write a mini how-to for my toolkit in case they need to run something while I am gone. Hopefully, this paragraph will make you enjoy not having a regular job.

While there are many perks about not working full time, there are still many drawbacks. Right now, vacation seems to fall into the category of a drawback. While I don’t have to check in with a boss to take vacation, I do not get paid for any vacation time. I had to turn down a job that would have conflicted with my honeymoon, which would have made up a significant portion of my annual salary.

A benefit of not working full time is the flexibility in designing my workload. My friend does not have much of a choice — she has to work a ton before leaving for vacation, and there isn’t much she could have done about it before (except work long hours in the previous weeks).

So, which would you rather have — flexible workload but no pay on vacation or less flexible workload and vacation time?

(Yes, this is a false dichotomy. There is a lot of flexible, contract work that can be done from anywhere.)

October 3, 2008

Earn More: Streamlining

Filed under: career,earn more — by moneytolive @ 5:00 am
Tags: ,

In the October 2008 issue of Money Magazine, Traci Higgins tells how she expanded her personal chef business.

Traci started off bringing food to clients’ homes and cooking in their kitchens, which is a common way that peronal chefs start out in the business. She spent hours driving all over town and going to multiple grocery stores every day, just to repeat cooking many of the same dishes at different clients’ homes.

To reduce the driving and the repeated effort of making the same dish in different homes, Traci rented a 600-sq-foot kitchen for a six month trial. She cooked a small number of dishes centrally and turned her business into a meal delivery business. The business took off, with revenue over $700,000 in 2007.

I really like how Traci gave herself a trial period for the central kitchen. She decided to try for six months and would re-evaluate the plan.

September 23, 2008

Business trips

Filed under: career,travel — by moneytolive @ 5:00 am
Tags: ,

Today is the start of my first business trip. I’ll be gone the rest of the week, returning home on Saturday.

In training, we were told a few things about business trips:

  • Business travel should be cost neutral. All meals and reasonable expenses (i.e., taxis) will be reimbursed. I appreciate this because if it were on my dime, I might walk a mile to the metro station to take the metro into DC to catch a train; since I can expense it, though, I will be more comfortable taking a taxi to the train station.
  • Expenses should pass the “red face” test. If my face turns read telling my manager about a business expense, I should just pay for it myself. I guess that means no mani/pedi on the expense account.
  • Carry cash, and do not count on management to pay for cabs.

One rule of thumb for carrying cash when traveling is to take $1 for every mile away from home. On this trip, I will be 450 miles from home. $450 seems like a lot of money to carry!

To figure out how much cash to carry, I estimate my expenses:

Taxis: $200-$300
I will be traveling with three other people, so we might take turns paying for cabs. But, I would hate to run short and will budget for paying for all of the taxis myself.

Meals: $70
For the most part, meals can be paid for with a credit card, and I can put the tip on the credit card. If I buy something small or from a street vendor, it may be easier to use cash. If we go out to a bar, I will pay for drinks with cash because I am hesitant to open a tab with a credit card.

Hotels: $0-30

Hotel arrangements have already been made, and the only cash hotel expense I foresee could be tipping.

Everything else that I can think of I can pay for with credit card (and I have a separate credit card for business expenses).

That puts my cash expenses at $300-400, which is not too far off the $450 estimate based on miles-from-home.

September 3, 2008

My first day of work

Filed under: career — by moneytolive @ 5:00 am

I miss the first day of school. I used to love picking out new pens and pencils, selecting an outfit for the first day of school, and, in college, making a schedule before classes start.

Today is another first day, for my first full time job (is 26 too old for for a first job?).

Since my employer sent me a computer bag as a welcoming gift, I did not buy a new backpack. I did pick out my outfits for the first week of work. Building a “business casual” wardrobe was initially more difficult than picking out clothing for school ever was.

I hope my new colleagues like me, and I hope I like them. I hope I learn something interesting today.

Wish me luck!

August 15, 2008

Earn More: Outperform your predecessor

Filed under: career,earn more — by moneytolive @ 5:00 am
Tags: ,

A friend of mine, who I’ll call Sydney, recently got a raise and a promotion. I asked her how she got it,
especially since she just returned from maternity leave.

Sydney’s job has a lot of flexibility. She is paid by a large grant from a private company, but she does not interact with them on a daily basis. Her predecessors took advantage of this flexibility and worked on personal projects, instead of in the interests of the company.

Coming onto the job, Sydney heard that her predecessors had not actually done the job, and she wondered if the job would be very boring and that is why they had not been involved in the project. That was not the case; she likes what she is doing, and it fits with her long-term career goals.

This might be one of the easiest ways to impress a new boss — take over a job that your predecessor did poorly. The flip side is to find out what your predecessor did well and be sure to keep up the same quality of work.

August 9, 2008

Review: Grindhopping

Filed under: career,review — by moneytolive @ 5:00 am
Tags: ,

Grindhopping: Building a Rewarding Career Without Paying Your Dues by Laura Vanderkam

Students at top universities frequently take high-paying entry-level jobs, and they are not passionate about their day-to-day work. Maybe in 5-10 years of “paying your dues,” those who stick it out will get their hands dirty with the fun and interesting work.

Instead of building a career the standard way, Vanderkam says to hop over the grind and build your career around your passions. Her main point to identify your passion and get someone to pay you for doing it. She writes great case studies of young people who do what they love in spite of opposition from family and big risks from starting a new business. She gives useful suggestions (“always be your own boss” and “think projects, not jobs”) and insight into common concerns (how to get health insurance). She gives advice on how to get by financially in the early years of a new business (the words “ramen noodles” are used a lot).

One of the most interesting parts of the book is about advanced degrees and the use of adjuncts in higher education. Vanderkam says not to pursue an advanced degree unless it is necessary (i.e., M.D. and J.D.). An adjunct is hired by a university to teach one or a few classes at a time. It is a temporary position with no formal guarantee of work from semester to semester.

Universities boast of the high percentage (some even boast 100%) of classes taught by faculty, but the truth is that lots of universities hire a lot of adjuncts (REFERENCE). To someone on the academic job market (a lot of the people I know), this is bad news. It is cheaper for a university to hire adjuncts than create another tenure-track position. Some might call it as outsourcing within the United States. What Vanderkam says, though, is that this is good news for everyone without a Ph. D. Ever wanted to teach at a university but did not want to spend 5 to 10+ years in school earning what might qualify you for food stamps? You might be able to teach as an adjunct.

I interpret her advice more about business school than a research based graduate program. Without a Ph. D. in biology, it is difficult to get lab space to run experiments about your passion, such as finding a vaccine for HIV. During the two years it would take to complete business school, though, you could start your own business and learn hands-on from its failures and successes.

I left Grindhopping feeling a little disappointed because I do not have just one passion. My passions include personal finance, reading, practicing yoga, and math. Now I am reading Marci Alboher’s One Person/Multiple Careers: A New Model for Work/Life Success to learn what it means to be a “slash.”

Note: I considered a “thumps up, thumbs down” rating system for book reviews. This would never work because I would give 95% of the books a thumbs up. I am too nice.

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