Categories
Career

What to Consider Before Accepting a New Job

After analyzing 120 years of research and synthesizing 92 quantitative studies, Harvard Business Review has revealed that “the association between job satisfaction and salary is very weak.” More than a high salary, we want satisfying work. After all, work gives purpose. Being happy at work is really a matter of being happy with life. And even with those that are happy at their current job, a recent study from Fidelity Investments shows that 49 percent, nearly half, of millennial professionals are actively looking or open to a new opportunity.

When comparing a new job offer with an existing position, it is easy to simply compare salary. While salary is still an important consideration; it is not the most important. What are the other non-financial factors to consider before accepting a job?

1) Job Benefits

Before accepting a job, consider the benefits: medical, dental, vision, an employee stock purchase program and/or 401(k) match, etc. How much value do these carry for you? Will you use them? This job offer evaluator tool from Fidelity can help you make the decision as you compare the numbers.

For evaluating benefits, it’s important to think ahead. For instance, medical costs may not be expensive for you right now, but what about in the years ahead? Perhaps you’re paying back student loans now so the 401(k) is not your foremost thought. Consider how enticing a 401(k) match may be in the future. Consider the difference in benefits between the two jobs.

2) Company Culture

Company culture is another important consideration. Ask yourself, “Would I really like it here?” What are the people like as individuals? What are they like as a team? Will they help foster your growth? Or is the culture conceited? People enjoy working with others they enjoy. Just as in college, working with friends makes all the difference.

3) Work Environment

Consider the environment as well. Is the building a pleasant place to be? Would you have good hardware and software? How are the break rooms? How is the parking? If you have allergies or are otherwise sensitive, how is the air quality in the building? These aspects seem relatively small when interviewing. But they are things you’ll need to deal with on a day-to-day basis. It’s best to work in a pleasant environment. If the job is good but the environment is lacking, ask about telecommuting options now or in the future.

4) Future Career Moves

What about your career trajectory? You likely will not be satisfied staying in the same position for decades. So what will the future look like? Does this organization have a clear path for you to follow? It’s often helpful to ask what people who once held this job are currently doing. If you do not get a satisfactory answer, it’s okay to ask an interviewer about attrition rate. It’s not a good sign if past hires don’t last long. Additionally, if you choose a company that has a poor reputation or a reputation for poor hiring practices, you could get typecast negatively and regret it once it’s time to move on.

5) Level of Interest

When examining job specifics, how much do you actually enjoy the work? It’s easy to get so wrapped up in the ancillary considerations, we often forget to think about whether or not the work is exciting! Will you enjoy spending 40+ hours per week doing the work that is involved? If the potential employer hasn’t explained the job in enough detail, ask more questions. You may even inquire if it’s appropriate to shadow a current employee for a day. If you are not able to shadow, be sure to ask about the workload and shared responsibilities. The employer will then have the opportunity to tell you with honesty how many work hours are expected of employees. The same study from Fidelity shows that 58 percent of millennials say quality of work life is more important than financial benefits.

6) Time Spent Commuting

It’s also important to consider the new commute. Are you ready to commit to that each day? According to AAA, the average cost to drive is 60.8 cents per mile. Commuting can be expensive and stressful.

To cut back on the commute, consider living closer to work. How much will your cost of living decrease or increase as a result? Consider housing, utilities, property taxes, schools, nearby stores, etc.

7) Retirement Plan Options

If this isn’t your first job, remember your retirement plan from your past employer. What should you do with it? You have many options. You can cash out, though it’s rarely a wise idea. You’ll miss out on future tax savings and you’ll get hit with fees for cashing out. You can also leave the funds where they are in many cases. A third option is to roll the money over into the new retirement plan or roll it into your personal IRA.

As you can see, there’s more to choosing a job than simply the salary. Apply the above considerations to see if a new job is right for you. And may your new position bring you money, benefits, friendship and satisfaction.
If you do decide to take on the position, don’t be afraid to negotiate. Often, the first offer is a starting point and it is expected that you will at least counter with a higher number or better benefits. How do you know what to counter? Consider the factors above and use the job offer evaluator tool to get your suggested salary.

Need more guidance? Check out this post from Fidelity as you evaluate a job offer.

This post is sponsored by Fidelity Investments®. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Fidelity does not adopt, endorse or sponsor any other content on this website, including links to other third-party websites and is not responsible for any views expressed outside of this sponsored post.

Originally posted 2016-05-20 08:00:04.

Categories
Budgeting & Saving

Combined Finances: To Merge, or Not to Merge?

This post was created in partnership with Credit Sesame.

Whether you have married, moved in with a partner, or are considering the next step in a relationship, one common question couples ask themselves is whether to open up a joint bank account.

A joint account is beneficial if you wish to share expenses like the monthly bills, but a large percentage of couples choose not to go that route. Many couples also find that keeping a separate account along with a joint account helps them keep finances straight. Before taking the plunge on a joint account, consider the good, the bad, and how to make the final decision.

Joint account overview

A joint bank account is a financial account that gives two or more people access to the same funds. These partners can make deposits, withdraw funds, and write checks. Examples of common joint bank account owners are married couples, partners living together and housemates that share bills.

The good

Joint accounts offer several advantages:

Long-term saving is easier. If you and your partner have a long-term purchase in your sights, a joint account is a great way to save for it. You can both deposit funds, and you can both see progress.

Budgeting is simpler. When all of your payments come from account, it’s easier to track money that you spend. Two incomes might also make overdrafts less likely to occur.

Spending patterns are clear. Each person with access to the account can see where the money goes. Some people like the accountability a joint account provides. Knowing that their partner can see the transactions makes them less likely to make unnecessary purchases.

More comfort in finances. If one person prefers not to take the financial reins, the other can lead.

The savvier person can teach. Even though the person with more financial comfort is leading, a joint account can be an ongoing learning opportunity for the partner who is less hands-on with money. Learning and growing together allows a deeper connection in the relationship.

The bad

Opening a bank account with a partner carries some disadvantages, too:

Vulnerabilities are inherent. A joint account allows an irresponsible person to cause credit and financial damage for his or her partner.

Transparency may breed conflict. One partner may become critical of the spending patterns of the other.

Privacy is limited. Your partner knows all of the purchases you make and vice-versa.

Financial management may fall to one partner. The partner holding the reins may resent that the other person doesn’t manage the account. Even the simplest of accounts require review and balancing.

Miscommunications can occur. Overdrawing the account due to miscommunication is possible. On a joint account, each partner must know how much money is in the account and what expenses the money is headed for.

The demise of the relationship can lead to financial confusion. If the relationship ends, there might be issues dividing the funds, or one person may deplete the funds without the other’s permission.

Financial entanglement can lead to financial liability. If one partner has a large debt – a tax lien or child support arrears, for example – the funds may be at risk for seizure.

Learn more: Tax Best Practices for 2016

How to decide

You and your partner must consider all of the advantages and disadvantages and come to an agreement on whether or not it is the best decision for your situation. You have options

You can open a joint account that for day-to-day expenses and keep your own separate savings accounts. This could help you avoid conflict.

A joint savings account is an ideal option if you and your partner want to save for a large purchase together like a vehicle or home. With your own individual separate checking accounts, you can still pay the routine expenses at whatever ratio you’ve agreed upon.

You can skip the joint accounts all together and only share expenses. This is for couples or partners who prefer total financial independence. Each person maintains total control over his or her money.

Your final option is keeping all of your finances divided. You and your partner can take turns paying bills and buying dinner. Having separate accounts doesn’t mean you have to keep all assets separate, but you could do that as well.

Before deciding to merge finances, complete transparency is key. Share your credit history, debt picture and financial goals with one another. You can start the conversation with a free credit report from Credit Sesame and analyze them together.

This goes without saying, but before you open a joint account, be sure you absolutely trust your partner.

 

About Credit Sesame

It’s our mission to be the credit and loan expert and advisor—finding the best way for you to manage your credit and loans to save money and build wealth. Get your credit score, and more from Credit Sesame.

Originally posted 2016-04-13 10:00:49.

Categories
Budgeting & Saving

How Filing Taxes On Your Own Can Make You Smarter

This partner post is part of the TaxAct #DIYtaxes blog tour which empowers you to take ownership of your finances by doing your own taxes. TaxAct provides the tools and guidance to help you confidently file your taxes easy and fast. Do your own taxes today at TaxAct.com. You got this. 

 

Do you do your own taxes? If not, maybe you should start. Filing taxes on your own can make you smarter. You’ll learn new skills and gain a better understanding about your personal financial situation than you ever thought possible. Trust me! I’ve definitely learned a lot about both tax rules and regulations, as well as my own money management style by doing my own taxes in the past.

When I first started doing my taxes, I was using the easy phone system. Because I was eligible for the 1040-EZ filing, all I had to do was call, report my income, confirm, and my refund was in the mail shortly after. As technology improved, I continued to file the 1040-EZ but I started to do so online. Then, I started a business and my taxes got a little more complicated. But I simply used an online filing service that walked me through the questions that I needed to make filing easy. And I learned a lot about credits, deductions, and where to go on IRS.gov to get more information.

Here are some ways that filing your own taxes can make you smarter.

Filing taxes on your own allows you to…

1) Learn About Tax Filing Deductions

As mentioned, one of the benefits of doing your own taxes is learning more about tax rules, regulations, and best of all, deductions. When you walk through doing your own taxes, you may find places to save money that you have never used before. This is especially true if you use a tax software that takes you through several question and answer prompts about events that may have taken place in the last tax year. Once you learn about these deductions and savings tools, you’ll be able to use them for years to come, as long as the tax code doesn’t change in the meantime.

2) Become Aware of Income and Expenses

It’s easy to get caught up on how much money you are bringing home every two weeks when you get paid and forget about the bigger picture of how much you are really earning each year in terms of both salary before taxes and other withholdings for retirement, health insurance, etc. But when you complete your own tax return, you’ll get a chance to see what your earnings and expenses really are.

3) Complete a Financial Check-Up

Again, doing your own taxes means you have to gather up all of your documents for the year, including earnings statements, expenses, etc. It’s also a good time to review the other aspects of your personal finances, like your debt obligations, investment accounts, insurance, and more. While you have all of that out and in front of you anyway, it’s a good idea to also give your budget a once-over to make sure you are saving as much money as you can. You may find that you can put more money toward your savings goals, or that you could lower some of your monthly bills with a little negotiation or leg work.

4) Make Last Minute Adjustments

By doing my own taxes, I’ve also been able to make some last minute adjustments to help my overall financial picture. As an example, you have until April 15th to make retirement contributions for the prior calendar year, which may help you cut down on the amount of income tax you owe to the government. Doing your own taxes means you have the ability to look at your tax status and decide if adding more money to your retirement savings is a good idea to help lower your taxable income.

5) Review and Adjust Withholdings

When you get ready to sign the bottom line, don’t think you are finished just yet. Once you’ve determine how much you owe to the IRS, or how much of a refund you’ll be getting back, you should take the time to adjust your withholding rate too. Although getting a large tax refund may seem like a good idea, it’s actually better to receive more money on every paycheck throughout the year instead. If you consistently receive a large tax refund, it may be time to lower you withholdings so you can receive more of your money throughout the year instead of getting a lump sum during tax time.

Likewise, if you ended up owing a lot of money into the IRS you can adjust your withholdings the other direction to have more withheld from your paychecks to get your estimate as close to $0 as possible for the new year.

Doing your own taxes doesn’t have to be daunting. In fact, it’s easier than ever thanks to many online tax programs that allow you answer simple questions and quickly fill out a few fill-in-the-blank forms. Plus doing your own taxes is a great way to learn new skills and be aware of your own personal financial situation.

Are you doing your own taxes?

 

Beating the tax deadline doesn’t have to be stressful. With TaxAct, everything you need to confidently prepare and e-file your taxes is right at your fingertips. You got this. File your simple federal and state return FREE today with TaxAct. 

Originally posted 2016-04-07 06:00:01.

Categories
Homeownership

4 Proven Ways to Save Money as a Renter

This post is sponsored by Fidelity Investments®. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Fidelity does not adopt, endorse or sponsor any other content on this website, including links to other third-party websites and is not responsible for any views expressed outside of this sponsored post.

Renting an apartment can be both an exciting and slightly stressful experience. Having a place of your own will grant you freedom but many financial responsibilities will be added to your plate as well.

Given the high market rent rates throughout the country, along with expenses like utilities, food, parking fees and a security deposit, many first time apartment renters are searching for a way to cut back on costs so they can avoid struggling financially.

Consider some of these money saving tips before looking for your next place.

Choose an Affordable Area

Location is very important when you’re trying to get more bang for your buck. The area that you choose to live in can significantly affect your rent. Most of the time, housing in a large city is going to be more expensive than in a small suburb.

But apartments closer to shopping malls, tourist attractions, and popular high-traffic areas of a city or suburb are going to cost more. The idea is that people who choose to live near these conveniences are willing to pay more.

Skip All the Amenities

Apartment complexes that have a gym, pool and clubhouse are nice, but if you’re trying to save money on rent, they may not be the best option. The apartments with the most amenities and luxury features will have higher rent because the tenants are expected to help pay for the extra add-ons.

If you leased an apartment at a complex that has a private gym and a hot tub, you may be paying an extra $100 in rent for luxuries you don’t often use. If you think your car will be safe parked outside of your apartment year-’round, then opt out of spending the extra $20 or $30 per month for a parking space.

It’s nice to have these things nearby but by choosing a basic apartment that has everything you need and little extras can really help you knock $200+ off your monthly rent. That will help you save $2,400 a year or more. That extra cash can go toward debt repayment or even help boost your savings.

When it comes down to it, you have to ask yourself what you value more and choose an apartment that fits your expectations in value, quality and affordability.

Get a Roommate

Living with a roommate can significantly lighten the financial burden that comes along with renting your own place for the first time. When you split the costs of rent and other bills, you’ll both save some money and you won’t be expected to pay for everything yourself.

If you choose to get a roommate, you’ll have to be okay with sharing your living space. Make sure you pick someone you can get along with and who has similar goals and values as you. Drafting up a brief agreement would be a good idea to lay out ground rules and make sure you and your roommate are on the same page. You’ll also want to make sure that both of your names are on the lease so you’ll both be equally responsible for paying the rent each month and maintaining the apartment.

Lower Your Utilities and Bills

As a renter, your landlord may cover some of the utilities like garbage and water and make a few repairs here and there, but you will likely be responsible for paying your own way as well covering your electricity, internet, gas and so on.

It’s very rare that a landlord will pay your electric bill because this utility can vary a lot based on your usage and it’s usually the most expensive bill you’ll have. Therefore, it’s important to do a quick sweep through the house before you leave for the day to make sure everything is turned off and if you have programmable thermostat, set it to automatically reduce heat or air at certain times during the day or night.

Budget

Delay turning your heat on for as long as you can during the fall and do the same with your air conditioning in the spring. Be very conscious of how often you use certain things in your home and try to conserve energy, water usage etc. You can also reduce your cable expense by opting for the most basic cable package. You can track your spending and saving using a tool like Cinch from Fidelity. With Cinch you can see your spending in one place and create a customized savings target. I can think of several times that I missed a payment because I didn’t pay attention to all of my spending. Cinch helps with this.

Living on your own for the first time is full of financial challenges making it crucial that you prioritize your spending and cut expenses however you can.

Figured out the renting thing and looking to take the next step? Use this helpful tool from Fidelity to see if you should rent or buy.

Learn more about MyMoney, a website created by Fidelity Investments® to help you make sense of your personal finances. Fidelity Brokerage Services Member NYSE, SIPC.

Originally posted 2016-03-14 09:00:34.

Categories
Budgeting & Saving

3 Simple Ways to Travel on a Budget

At some point in your life the travel bug hits you. For some people it happens earlier than for others. I remember always wanting to travel. So much so that my career ambition was to be a travel agent. After speaking with my guidance counselor, I learned that my career of choice was not as viable as I had hoped. So I decided to travel for fun instead. I traveled out of the country for the first time while attending college.

In college I signed up for a study abroad program. If you are still in college I highly recommend this way of travel as a first timer out of the country. It’s an easy way to get acquainted with the whole process of leaving the country. Spending time outside of your natural habitat and in unfamiliar surroundings really helps you grow as a person. But travel can be expensive and as a college student or recent graduate, you have to watch every penny. So here are some tips to travel on a budget.

Plan Your Travel Budget

If you are a recent college graduate, then you may not have the money to blow on a five-star vacation to Dubai. But if travel is important to you then you should at the very least have a travel budget. I have a separate ‘savings’ account that is specifically for my spontaneous travel and each month I put aside 25 dollars. This process is as simple as setting an automatic transfer and at 25 dollars it doesn’t affect my normal budget significantly. If there is not enough in my normal discretionary spending for a plane ticket, I can tap my travel savings account. I also try to deposit extra money in that account when I have it. This is savings in addition to my 401k and emergency account savings so I feel absolutely no guilt about emptying it every few months. I recently went to the Bahamas for my birthday and I emptied my travel account to enjoy a dolphin encounter. It was amazing! And I am already beginning to save for my next trip.

I want to make two important notes here. Nothing should trump your normal savings plan and you shouldn’t ‘dip’ into normal savings for a trip. Secondly, it’s OK to enjoy what you’ve worked so hard for! Just don’t let it put you off track of your ultimate goal. But traveling doesn’t have to be expensive and I’m going to tell you exactly how to budget for travel.

Search for Deals to Fit Your Travel Budget

While saving money for travel is beneficial, it’s important to stretch that travel dollar as far as it will go. Searching for deals on flights and hotels can help you save even more money. Try Kayak.com to find flight deals leaving from your city. You can also set an alert to track the flight prices as they fluctuate. I search for flights with Kayak and watch the confidence meter. It estimates whether the price of a flight will increase or drop over the next seven days. And snagging a good deal while it’s hot is a great method to stretch your travel dollar.

BONUS: Maximize Your Travel Budget

One of the best ways to travel on a regular basis is by using points or Miles that you earn with everyday purchases. For example, with the Discover it® Miles card, you can earn 1.5X Miles on every dollar spent. The card also allows you to fly any airline at any time. And you can also redeem your Miles for a variety of travel purchases including hotels or rental cars! As a new cardmember, Discover will automatically double all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year on your Miles card. Now you can travel even more.

Traveling as a college student or recent college grad does not have to be expensive. If you take the time to search for travel deals and put money aside into a travel fund, you can travel more often this year. And by using a card like the Discover it Miles card, you can even maximize your travel budget.

This post was created in partnership with Discover.

Originally posted 2016-01-27 16:58:57.

Categories
Investing

How to Create an Automatic Investing Plan

This post is sponsored by Fidelity Investments. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Fidelity does not adopt, endorse or sponsor any other content on this website, including links to other third-party websites and is not responsible for any views expressed outside of this sponsored post.

Let’s face it, learning to invest can be scary. The thought of investing can often seem like giving away your money with no idea when that money will return. On the other extreme, it could feel exciting, like you are on the verge of earning a large payday. While it’s natural to be apprehensive when you’re just learning to invest, letting your emotions get the best of you could cause you to withdraw your money from the markets before you have a chance to earn anything. On the flip side, becoming overly-excited or confident could cause you to make irrational decisions as well. As a general rule, it’s best to leave emotions out of the equation when it comes to investing. One way to do it involves a strategy called automatic investing.

Automatic Investing Like an Intelligent Investor

A few years ago, I read a book and it has shaped the way that I invest ever since. In the book, the author Benjamin Graham, recommends a diligent, steady approach to investing. For example, income investors diligently consider future dividends when looking for dividend paying stocks. Choosing to automate your investment plan following a diligent, steady approach can help to remove emotions from your investment strategy, and help you become a more intelligent investor.

How To Invest on a Regular Schedule

Investing on a regular schedule makes the process of investing an automatic activity. As measured by the S&P 500, over the last ten years, the broad market index has returned 6.8% on an annual basis, including dividends. While past performance is no indicator of future results, and all investing involves risk of loss, this example can help paint the picture. An investor that chooses to buy and sell based on concern and excitement, might see investment returns different from the broad market index; especially since the market has seen some significant highs and lows over the last ten years. Let’s take a look at how a monthly deposit could change things.

Depositing on a Regular Basis

Depositing just $100 per month on a consistent basis is better than sporadic deposits. Here’s why. Automatic investing removes the human element. The easiest way to create a monthly deposit plan is to use the percentage system. With this system, you portion out your necessary expenses, rent, utilities, etc, and then you take a percentage of the remaining income for goals. If you have $500 per month remaining after your bills are covered, then a twenty percent investing goal would allow you to put $100 away each month for investing.

Take Advantage of Free Money

Your employer can also help you invest on a regular basis. If your employer offers a retirement plan such as a 401(k), check to determine if they also offer a matching contribution. A matching contribution works like this: when you choose to put away a portion of your salary into an employer sponsored 401(k) plan, the employer will choose to contribute as well. The “match” depends on the specifics of the plan. Some employers will contribute dollar for dollar while others may contribute 50 cents for each dollar you contribute. Then, check to see what funds are offered as options in that 401(k). Each time you receive a paycheck, your choice of contribution percentage is automatically deducted from your paycheck and allocated to the funds that you choose. And if your employer matches your contribution, then you are getting additional free money towards your retirement fund.

Emotions can cause you to make irrational decisions when it comes to money. But learning to invest without those emotions is possible. An automatic investment plan can help you begin building your confidence and a nest egg as well.

Learn more about MyMoney, a website created by Fidelity Investments to help you make sense of your personal finances. Fidelity Brokerage Services Member NYSE, SIPC.

Originally posted 2015-12-16 10:00:02.