Categories
Career

7 Must Have Skills for Any Job

The first thing I tend to look at when I’m job searching is the requirements, to see if I measure up at the bare minimum. While I’m checking things off mentally with “got that” and “I can do that in my sleep”, there are other skills that present themselves once I’m actually working. Here are 7 skills you’ll need for any job, even if it’s not listed as a requirement.

Communication

As millennials, we already get the short end of the stick when it comes to starting a new job. Often times, we’re the youngest coming in, and our new coworkers assume we’re arrogant know-it-alls who don’t take responsibility for ourselves and our actions. We can, however, disarm them with the appropriate communication skills. Don’t simply rely on spell check to get you through those reply-all emails. Brush up on those commonly misspelled words for those situations, and always maintain eye contact when talking to someone at the job. Speak up when necessary, and voice your concerns before something blows up, not after.

Research

One of the biggest assets I believe I have as an employee at my job is my research skills. I am a master at looking for as much information as possible as far as why an account is not performing as it should, or what things a client can do better. While the media swears we rely on Google for everything, you also have to know how to use Google correctly. Sometimes it’s not what you ask but how you ask it.

Microsoft Excel

You probably have it on your resume, but if your boss asked you how to do a Pivot Table, would you smile and go for it, or would you freak out as soon as they left your cubicle? I was lucky enough to have an Excel Wiz as a team lead, but I also knew how to navigate around it before I got my job. The most basic things you should know is how to sort, filter, and graph, especially if you’re dealing with data. You can grab some courses online, and of course, YouTube is an excellent teacher for specific tasks.

Still looking for a job? This guide is for you.

Social Network-ing

I’m not talking about Facebook and Twitter, but truly being able to build your network in social settings. Do you know how to act accordingly for an after-work Happy Hour? You may not be on the clock, but you’re still representing who you are as an employee. Always carry business cards, even if you have to make your own, and maintain your professional demeanor when you’re around your coworkers off site.

Stress Management

Chances are, you’re going to have days where the pressure is on and your stress is through the roof. Maybe it’s an irate customer taking their frustration out on you, or everybody seems to be on vacation and you’re expected to pick up the slack. Know how to manage your stress, take a breather, and consider picking up meditation. Counting sounds lame, but it really comes in handy when you’re being chewed out just for breathing it seems like.

Problem Solving

You thought you got away from word problems when you left school, didn’t you? In a work environment, just about every conversation is a word problem. Now how do you solve it? Your research skills are going to come in big for this one, but also remember to think outside the box. The customer presents a scenario you’re not familiar with. Do you know where to direct them, or can you diffuse the situation yourself? A good problem solver is an asset to any company.

Typing

This seems very entry level, and I take it for granted because I type 95 WPM with 100% accuracy (you may proceed to be jealous). While not everybody has to type like me, my goodness, please be able to type! I guess our generation is used to using our thumbs on our phones, but use all your fingers. I see a lot of job requirements talking about you should be able to type 40 WPM. That’s less than 1 word per second! That’s just unacceptable. If you want to get things done at work, take a typing class and a typing test to judge your speed. 65, in my opinion, is a good goal to shoot for. But you’ll wow your coworkers and your boss when they think you’re just keyboard smashing, and come to find out, you’ve typed an entire memo in 5 minutes.

What are some other skills you can think of that everybody needs, no matter what the job?

Originally posted 2015-02-06 06:00:00.

Categories
Budgeting & Saving

4 Ways To Rebuild Your Credit

One of my goals I’m setting for 2015 is to reduce my credit card debt by $3,000. Reducing by that much money is going to take hard work and discipline, and will also help me improve my score. Here are 4 methods I’m currently using to rebuild my credit.

1) I opted out of credit offers

For some reason, credit card companies like Discover and American Express and Capital One still send me offers in the mail. I can’t lie; while most of the time I just trash them without opening it, sometimes it’s too tempting, and I really consider applying. This past weekend, I decided to see how I could remove myself from these mailing lists so companies can stop taunting me with their credit card offers.

I found that it is possible to opt out of receiving these offers in the mail. If you visit optoutprescreen.com (yes, it’s a real site), enter your information and you can decide to either opt out for the next 5 years (which I chose), or permanently opt out of mail offers. It will take a while before you stop getting them, but your name and information will be removed from those lists, and keep temptation at bay.

2) I’m making more than the minimum payment

For my most recent card with only a $300 credit limit, I decided to utilize no more than 30% of the limit (which isn’t hard if I’m just using it to get gas), and paying off the balance in full. I was so used to just paying the minimum amount due, mostly because it was all I could afford. Using this strategy for this card shows that I’m responsible with my money.

For the cards where my balances are much higher, I am working on paying more than the minimum, even if it’s only $10 more. This gesture shows good faith to the credit card companies, and reduces the amount you pay in interest overtime.

3) I decided to not go further into debt

This sounds like an obvious one, but if I had made this decision before, I wouldn’t be in this situation today. I decided that I would not go further into consumer debt. While my student loans will continue to go up since I have one more year of school left, I will not increase my balances anymore. If I’m buying something, I will only be buying it with cash or my debit card. This keeps me grounded, especially in the budgeting department, and decreases my debt to income ratio every month.

4) I’m making more money on the side

I did quite a few things this year that will help me with paying off debt, and one of those was the decision to do some side hustling. I’m a freelance writer, and write content for others’ websites. It’s something I can do fairly easily, and I can name my price and accept or reject different topics. This money on the side goes toward my debt, on top of my regular payments. Again, the more money you pay when your bill is due, the less you pay in interest.

My credit didn’t take a hit overnight, and it won’t be rebuilt overnight either. I have to be patient and continue to show my credit-worthiness to my creditors. However, using these methods, I will continue to improve my credit score along the way.

The first time I saw my credit score, it was a pretty good number. I was about to turn 20, and the score was in the mid 700s. My parents had preached the importance of good credit to me, but didn’t really elaborate past “pay your bills on time”, which I had done at that point. I had a couple of credit cards, paid the minimum or a little bit more, and didn’t have any bad marks.

Fast forward 4 years, and that’s a completely different story now. My credit score today is considered “poor” on numerous scales. I have more than one negative remark due to, simply, my poor decision making. Maxed out credit cards, late payments, and collections have sent my credit down the toilet. And it doesn’t make me feel good.

I can blame my credit problems on my long term job loss. I can blame it on my lack of preparation for real world personal finance. But I really can’t. I was a freelance writer for multiple personal finance blogs. I knew what all went into calculating your credit score. I knew how to live within my means and how to set up payments. I just didn’t take heed.

And now I’m suffering the consequences.

Because I’ve been in the personal finance world for a few years, I have seen stories of the heavy hitters. The big names in our field have had debt four times bigger than mine, but I don’t know what their credit score looked like. They were able to get out of debt, and live life freely. I yearn for that. I also know it comes with sacrifices and changes.

Lifestyle change is the biggest one.

Declaring to not take on any more debt while I’m trying to get out of it. Committing to paying more than the minimum on my bills. Try my best to work with creditors to see if there’s a mutual agreement we can come to (hey, a closed mouth won’t get fed).

And the biggest change of all: I’m moving back home.

I’m moving back in with my family for a couple reasons, but a big one is to get back on my feet financially. I’ve been living on my own and paying rent for over a year, and it’s been hard honestly. That’s money I can not only be saving, but applying toward my debt. While it won’t eliminate the negative remarks on my credit report, it will help me reach financial freedom a lot sooner.

Looking at my credit score actually depresses me. Seeing how I rank on a scale of “credit worthiness” stings a bit. Getting rejected by creditors or not being able to rent from a property management company is a blow to the ego. But even with these consequences of not taking care of my credit, I confess that I am not my credit score.

Your credit score is used for a lot of different things, including renting or buying a home, purchasing a car, sometimes even getting a job. It’s crazy that a younger me who was less educated about credit in general would be considered more “credit worthy” than a older me who understands how a credit score is calculated. But it’s a learning experience.

Curious to know what you credit score is? Get it for free here.

Originally, I was going to be able to get out of my consumer debt (not counting my student loan debt) in 3 years. My goal now, since I’m moving back home, is less than 2. There’s no way to tell how much more score will improve in that time, but if I show a good track record by paying off my credit cards and loans, I can see it going back to where it was when I checked it for the first time. But even when it improves, I still will not let that number define me.

Many young adults find themselves in debt for one reason or another. They receive credit card offers in the mail, they sign up for store cards, they get personal loans, etc.

Whatever the case may be, you have to pay this money back, because you’re borrowing the money. Temptation of buying something now and paying for it later can be hard to resist.

The next thing you know, you find yourself in debt.

But there’s a few things you should know about paying off debt.

1) Avoid the Minimum Payments Trap

Let’s say you took yourself on a bit of a shopping spree, and spent $500 on your credit card that has a limit of $750.

You receive your bill with a minimum of $25. It’s easy to pay $25/month, but you’re forgetting something: interest rates.

In the long run, paying your $25/month would have you paying more in the long run because your credit card has interest rates.

It’s better to pay the full balance, which in this case, could save you hundreds of dollars overall. Also, paying the full balance rather than the minimum has a better impact on your score.

2) Pay Attention to Interest Rates

When you got your credit card, you probably had a deal where you paid no interest for the first 6 months to a year.

Great!

But, after that term is up, you often have to pay the interest that accumulated over that time.

Don’t fall for that trick; pay your balances off as soon as possible to avoid this. Also, know your interest rates for purchases.

That $100 charge can actually end up costing you $115 if you have a 15% interest rate, and that’s just if you pay it off immediately.

3) Keep an Eye on Your Credit Report

Revolving accounts such as credit cards will stay on your credit report while the account is still open and paid as agreed.

If you close the account and it’s still in good standing, the information will stay on your report for 10 years.

However, negative accounts, if you missed a payment or it was sent to collections, it will remain for 7 years and 180 days from the first date of delinquency.

Remember, negative accounts greatly influence your credit score.

Debt is never fun, but it doesn’t have to be difficult to get out of if you have a plan.

Pay your bills on time, pay more than the minimum, and be mindful of your interest rates.

When possible, pay off your balance.

A good rule of thumb when you’re tempted to buy something on credit: don’t buy something with your credit card that you don’t have the cash to pay for.

 

How did you make a plan to pay off debt?

Originally posted 2015-01-19 06:00:00.

Categories
Young Finances

4 Ways I’m Investing in My Future

Investing has never been an easy subject for me to understand. It took me one time to go on the E*Trade website, and I was so lost, I just closed the browser window. I knew that investing money was important, but I had no idea where to begin, and no real interest in doing so. Even with me being surrounded by people who knew their stuff in personal finance, I just figured investing would have to come at another time.

However, there are other ways to invest in my future besides trying to become the next Wolf of Wall Street. Here are 4 ways I’m investing in my future without getting caught up in the stock market:

I Read Regularly

Readers are leaders, or haven’t you heard? I am always reading a book, and some of my favorite genres include business and self-help. I’ve read biographies of leaders, company profiles, memoirs of regular people, and personal development books. I attribute reading to my growth as a person, because I’m always learning something from the books I read. I have over 300 books on my Kindle, over 100 audiobooks on Audible, and who knows how many “real books” at home. Every book I buy expands my view on a subject, and allows me to be a better me for the future.

I Attend Conferences

Have you ever been a conference? For one, it’s a great place to learn information on different topics, depending on the field or niche it’s in. It’s also a great way to network and meet new people with similar interests. My first blogging conference was the first annual Financial Bloggers Conference in Illinois, and it was so much fun. I’m going to 2 more conferences in the next two weeks, but they’re not free. In many cases, some of the bigger, well known conferences can cost you a pretty penny. But it’s an investment in your future because of the people you meet and the content you learn. Setting up a conference fund is on my to-do list, so I can always ensure I have the money to cover my ticket, airfare, and accommodations.

I Contribute to my 401(k)

One of the first things I learned in the personal finance world is that I need a retirement plan. While I’m still not 100% confident that I know the intricate details of a 401(k) vs. an IRA, I do contribute to my job’s plan. 3% of my income goes to my 401(k) account, and the balance goes up or down depending on how my “shares” do in my mutual fund. Again, stuff I don’t fully understand, but there is an adviser who makes those investment decisions for me. The money comes out automatically, so it’s set it and forget it. This is a literal investment in my future, as I’ll be living off that money when I retire.

I’m Finishing School

I went to college immediately after high school, and dropped out two years later. I was burned out and was conflicted about just how much a college degree would help me. Now, though, I know a BA is about equivalent to what a high school diploma was, so I have one more year until I get my undergraduate degree. This investment is hefty, with a 5 figure price tag. I do regret not finishing school straight through, because I wouldn’t have gone into debt. However, these are the breaks, and an investment I still think will pay off in the end.

So while the stock market isn’t a big deal to me, I do still make investments that will end up paying off in my future. I’m excited about reaping the benefits of all of these, and I hope you consider doing them too.

What ways do you invest in your future?

Originally posted 2014-11-21 06:00:38.

Categories
Budgeting & Saving

5 Essential Money Habits for Financial Success

It seems like personal finance doesn’t become a priority to some people until something bad has happened. This can be because you don’t necessarily grow up with personal finance lessons, or maybe you don’t have the best examples to follow. Before things get out of hand, or if you’re in the process of building goals to reach financial independence, following these 5 good money habits will have you in great shape:

Keep Cash on Hand

One thing my family and friends know and can’t stand about me is that I almost never have cash on hand. I take for granted that most places accept debit or credit, so I don’t see a reason to carry cash. Aside from being prepared for those rare moments when an establishment is cash only (or if the parking meter only takes coins and not plastic), you should keep cash on hand for emergency situations, as well as a way to budget better. I’ve noticed that when I have cash on me, I’m more wise about my spending decisions. With my debit card being linked to my checking account, I don’t “see” the money, so it disappears a lot easier as well. Start keeping a set amount of cash in your wallet, even if you get paid via direct deposit.

Check Your Banking Activity Daily

It’s no secret that big companies are not exempt from being hit by hackers. Some of the biggest breaches lately have been Target and Home Depot, where consumers who used their debit or credit cards had their information vulnerable to thieves. While some were safe, just inconvenienced by having to get a new card issued, some people had fraudulent charges on their card, and lost a lot of money. They didn’t realize it because they weren’t monitoring their banking activity. Daily sounds a bit excessive, but it takes less than 5 minutes to check your recent activity in online banking. If you notice a charge that is unfamiliar to you, notify your bank immediately.

Check Your Credit Monthly

This is important, especially when you’re building or repairing your credit. There are 5 major factors that determine your credit score, but you should also keep watch of the things that appear on your credit report. Identity theft happens to many people, and is not found right away because the person either doesn’t have credit monitoring set up, or they don’t manually look over their report themselves. You are entitled to a free credit report from all three bureaus once a year, but it would be a good idea to invest in credit monitoring so that you may keep track of your accounts and your score.

Go to AnnualCreditReport.com to get your no strings attached free credit report. For credit monitoring, try Score Watch from MyFICO.com.

Set Up Automatic Savings Contributions

Saving money is hard to do when you have to remember to do it. To alleviate that pain, you should set up automatic contributions to your savings account. This has been proven to increase savings balances, because it’s set it and forget it. It doesn’t have to be a large amount of money as long as it’s consistent. I have $50 automatically deposited into my Capital One 360 account every payday, and it’s nice to see that account grow without me having to think about it.

Review Your Budget

Your budget this month might not be the same 6 months from now. You should review your budget with new responsibilities or lifestyle changes. See how much money you have leftover after bills have been paid. Can you spend less in one category? Eliminate one altogether? Is one bill set to increase soon? Reviewing your budget and adjusting accordingly will close those opportunities for money to go into the abyss, and can help you save more money in the long run.

Need help creating a budget? Get a budgeting template and tools for financial success in the Young Finances Toolkit.

What are some other money habits you suggest? Do you follow the ones above?

Originally posted 2014-11-12 06:00:27.

Categories
Earn Extra Income

5 Businesses to Start in Your Dorm Room

When you’re in college, money can be extremely tight. Between paying for tuition, room & board, and your food, your cash flow can be in need of some tender love and care. While it may be a little difficult to find a job on or around campus, you can always start a business right there in your dorm room.

You don’t have to become the next Zuckerberg to get a few extra dollars in your pocket.

Resume Writing Service

I used to help my friends spruce up their resumes all the time, and I wish I would’ve charged for it! While the career center is there on campus, sometimes it’s easier to send it over to a friend.

Offer to organize someone’s resume for them, but make sure you maintain your integrity and encourage them to only put the truth on the document. Employers will always find out if the job candidate is lying. Your service can include resume creation, editing, or even submitting based on the type of jobs your clients are looking for.

Charge a reasonable price, as your clients are probably in the same boat as you cash wise.

Dinner Delivery

If you have a car on campus, you suddenly become the popular friend for those who don’t have one. You can be your campus’ Eat24 by offering a service to pick up and deliver food for people at your school.

It’s probably not going to make you rich, and you will have to take into account gas prices, but you can definitely make some extra money during midterms or finals when people are in desperate need of food and caffeine, but don’t want to leave that special spot in the library.

Website Designer

Hand in hand with the resume writing service, your school mates should be securing their online real estate by buying TheirName.com. Some people don’t know what to put on these sites, though, and that’s where you come in.

Even if you have just a bit of experience in content management systems like WordPress, you can set up a quick landing page with a copy of their resume and a brief bio. You can also expand your clientele by reaching out to local businesses around your school, and offering your services to them (especially if their website is in desperate need of improving).

Personal Trainer

You’ll have to step out the dorm room for this one, but if you have a passion for fitness and health, you can make some good money being the go-to personal trainer on campus.

The campus gym facilities may be free to students, but not everyone knows how to use the equipment, or has the motivation to go on a regular basis. You can charge per session, offer boot camp classes, meal planning sheets, and more.

It’s a good way to stay in shape yourself, and an excellent option for those who are studying kinesiology or another related major.

Tutoring

This is probably a no-brainer, but if you’re excelling in a subject that your classmates are struggling in, offer to tutor them. You can charge by the hour, and help them understand the material before the big test comes.

Students are always looking for some extra help, even outside of their professors’ office hours, and you can be the one to help them save their grade.

What are some other small businesses you can start on campus?

Originally posted 2014-10-17 06:00:07.

Categories
Career

How to Negotiate Your Salary

When you first start working full time, it can be very exciting. You successfully passed the interview, and you were extended a job offer with a salary! But before you accept out of pure excitement, you should negotiate your salary.

The majority of people don’t negotiate their salary because they’re afraid, including adults twice your age. According to Salary.com, 32% of people they polled were scared of losing the job offer if they gave any push back to the pay. You’re focused on getting the job, and not always thinking of getting paid what you’re worth.

Don’t be afraid of “scaring off” the company by asking for more money. You’re not being greedy.

What Salary Should I Ask For?

So how do you go about negotiating your salary? The work starts before the job offer. When you’re doing your research for the position and the company before the interview, you should take a look at the average salary is for that position.

You can look for what the pay is in your area, as well as compare it to other areas in the country. Set a goal for what your compensation should be, but also be realistic in regards to your level of experience. Many companies’ job listings will list that salary is DOE, or depending on experience. If you’re toward the lower end of the experience spectrum, expect to be on the lower end of the salary range for that job.

Next, when the job offer is extended to you, be gracious. Of course you’re excited that you got the job, as you should be. However, now is not the time to be arrogant. Of course you want to be paid what you’re worth, but you should never come off entitled during this stage. You want to be humble, yet firm.

How Should I Position My Counteroffer?

When the salary is mentioned, you have a right to counter. Throw your number out there, and explain that you’ve done research and emphasize how this is beneficial to the company. What are you bringing to the table? How will they benefit from having you on the team? Don’t throw out a number because it sounds good. Have a legitimate reason why you deserve $Y as opposed to $X.

Now is also the time to ask about additional compensation with the company, in the form of benefits. Does the company offer medical, dental, vision, and life insurance? Are you able to invest in the company’s retirement program after a certain amount of time? Is there a tuition assistance program you can enroll in?

While these things don’t necessarily add to your paycheck, they are other ways the company is investing in and paying you. A benefit package can make a job offer more feasible, because these are things you don’t have to pay for, and if so, you don’t have to pay as much as you would if you purchased it on your own.

What If They Say No?

If, by chance, they say a hard and firm no, that usually means “not right now”. This should not be the last time you negotiate. You may have more supporting evidence in the next 6 months, such as your superb performance and contribution to the company. This information will add to your case, and numbers are hard for people to ignore. They want to retain top talent, and if you’re a proven top performer, they will work with you to keep you there.

Now is the time to negotiate. You don’t want to simply accept the offer with the pay the company gave you, if you had the chance to make more money. A $5,000 bump in the offered salary is an extra $416 every month, and can translate into big money years down the line. So in the excitement and nervousness, don’t forget to have a dialogue about your compensation, rather than having a company dictate it for you.

Originally posted 2014-09-11 06:00:54.