The wise job seeker understands the link between money and his or her career. Unfortunately, there are many people who never understand the connection and spend most of their career struggling. You might think I am talking about salary and yes, money and salary are connected, obviously.
How are money and your career linked?
What I am really talking about is understanding how to make sure you continually invest in your career and are in a position to do so.
Let’s take a little quiz, do you:
Know your credit score?
Check your credit often?
Have a $1000 emergency reserve fund in savings?
Grow a 3 to 6 month reserve fund in saving?
Plan for retirement early in your career?
Create a monthly budget?
Build an annual budget?
Know exactly how much you owe — your total liabilities?
Run comparisons of income and expenses regularly through the year?
Ensure you understand money and economics
Whether you are making $35,000 or $120,000 or much more, it doesn’t matter how much you earn if you don’t have control of the 9 points above. I wish I understood what I do now 30+ years ago. If you are in the lower age ranges, you need to make sure you understand money.
As a professional resume writer, I worked with 1000s of people. My fees are dramatically different from what they were 30 years ago but so are my skills and talents. Yours will be too. Your value goes up with your experience. This is my concern about the misunderstanding of money:
If you continually overspend your salary and don’t understand the value of money, you never earn enough in your career.
Build plan for every project and a budget so that you don’t get surprised in the end.
Prioritize purchases to make sure you spend the money wisely.
At least, buy a financial book by one of the experts (and read it!)
If you work on building your understanding of economics, you better understand how to interpret what is happening in the world and its impact on you. You are more resilient and prepared if you do need to make a change in your career.
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Yesterday, I learned someone was going to lose their apartment this week. I chatted more to try to help come up with solutions. In their case, they had been struggling financially for awhile but the husband had only been out of work for one month.
Many people in the last five or six years have faced the same challenges. Whether it is an rent on an apartment or the mortgage on your house, if losing one month of income could put you in trouble, you need to start working from a goal-centric plan.
New start = goal-setting time
Believe me, I am not being critical here. I know how hard it is to get ahead. I just talked about my personal challenges here. Now that I am entering a new year of my life, I find every new start an opportunity to set more goals. Some people only set goals on New Years. I set them all the time. Sometimes those goals mean that there will be a change to normal traditions to get the ball rolling and reach those goals.
My Facebook birthday party was incredible. The number of people who took time to say happy birthday surprised me and made my day. Rob Poindexter, from Career Trend, asked if I got lots of cool stuff and I had to tell him no. But Rob understands goal-setting. He was also featured in my You’ve got to Start to Finish post awhile back.
Focus on the budget
We aren’t really a big gift-giving family. At Christmas, there are presents but otherwise, we mostly focus on the budget and any money gifts are supposed to keep us on track. Budget, savings… what’s that? Budget means that you give up some things to reach your goals.
Though this blog focuses on helping job seekers and career changers reach their goals, I believe that sound financial management is key to success in life in general. The upheaval we have suffered and the current financial stress on most Americans is due to the lack of balance between earnings, savings, and letting debt be the plan for financing our goals.
If you are running your life without a budget, you need to stop. You need to take time to track every penny you spend and put it in a spreadsheet, QuickBooks, or perhaps an online application. We are half-way through the year right now. Do you have a budget?
What are my goals?
We’ve been on a debt-pay down plan forever but we have really taken it to heart in the past three years. If we stay on track all credit cards, medical debt, and family loans will be goal in April 2016 leaving only the mortgage. And if we continue to stay on track, the mortgage will be gone in October 2021, roughly 18 years ahead of the bank’s plan.
At the same time, we hope to build a solid base of emergency savings starting with the baby step of $1000 which has already been tapped more than we would like. Then we would like to expand that to an emergency fund with 6 months of income minimal since as a self-employed person, there is no regular paycheck. Therefore, we need to budget in serious savings.
My big goal that I still hope to pull off soon is a remodel of the kitchen that needed remodeling when we moved in on March 2, 1992. A kitchen is always the biggest expense. We can internalize the labor but still need to save and plan for the material budget.
But before that, the little goals of new technology have to come. I had huge problems with the laptop I run Design Resumes on last summer but thanks to Jon at Integratech, we managed to reformat and keep the system running for another year but I think that as hard as I drive a computer, we need to plan and budget for new technology yet this year.
Down the road, I need to get a car again. Living on top of a hill, as much as I like walking for exercise, it doesn’t work most of the year when ice and snow make walking perilous or in the summer when days like today with heat indexes of 106 F. I need to be able to have something to get me from point A to point B. But that too needs both savings and a budget plan.
You see how it works, you set a goal and you get a plan. You don’t jump ahead of yourself. Fund the basics first and set up at least that $1000 of reserves in savings. Most of the reason the United States itself is in trouble is that we forgot Benjamin Franklin’s advice, a penny saved is a penny earned. You can start by making budgeting and savings part of your new goal-centric plan.
Julie Walraven can help you achieve results through using a personalized job search and resume writing strategy to take the mystery out of the process. To find out how, simply click here!
Yesterday’s post was “You have to START to finish!” I promised to continue the theme of starting to finish. If this is a blog written by a professional resume writer, why then is my first topic about finances and not job search or resume writing or career planning?
Money and finances are such a core of why we work that addressing the topic of finances first will help with other areas of planning and goal setting as we go on in other posts to talk about “starting to finish”. Many people go through life with a blurry-eyed way of dealing with their financial picture and fail to understand the implications of their financial choices.
A job loss example
When individuals or families are hit with challenges like job loss, the financial picture is the one that suddenly comes to the forefront. Panic sets in! I can remember a couple coming in together to hire me to write the husband’s resume.
I struggle to remember their names today because it was so long ago but I remember the wife breaking down in tears. “We will lose the house!” she sobbed. Now, the husband had only lost his job a few weeks earlier and he did qualify for unemployment. He lost his job during a good economic period, unlike our past three years of global economic crisis, but the wife was still terrified.
The outcome? After I wrote the resume and coached the husband on how to look for a job successfully, within 3 weeks, he was working again in a new position. No losing the house, no reason to panic. But panic she did.
What can be done to prepare for financial challenges?
COMMUNICATE: Most people hate talking about finances and it is the core of much financial strife. Typically, in a marriage or relationship, one partner has stronger financial skills than the other. In my marriage, my husband abhors talking about budgets, finances, tracking checking accounts, or anything else in that topic.
I started my career working for a savings and loan for three years. This, coupled with my own desire to understand finances, put me in charge of our finances. However, it also left me alone to review accounts, think about budgets, and plan for the future. Now (after 30 years of marriage) I am finally getting Bill to look at QuickBooks accounts and spreadsheets. He still hates it but it is starting to make a little sense to him.
Take some time to talk about your finances with someone you trust. If you are single, find a family member, good friend, or better yet, financial expert to talk with and develop plans.
USE FINANCIAL TOOLS and SOFTWARE: Today there are so many options. Personally, I use QuickBooks to track both my personal accounts and spending as well as Design Resumes finances. For 20 years, my husband was a remodeling contractor and so we had another QuickBooks account for his business.
I also have a massive spreadsheet that I started in 1996 to pull together monthly expenses from all sides. The Excel spreadsheet listed all the expenses for each month and organized it by due dates so I had one source to make sure all the payments were made. This spreadsheet also gives me a way to easily track where I am in my full financial picture. I can see at a glance what my total debt is and I update it regularly.
PUT MONEY IN SAVINGS: You’ve heard of saving for a rainy day. Despite working for a financial institution in my early years, I never followed the first rule of financial planning. Put some money in a savings account every month. What will that do? You will then have a plan if you do lose a job or something unexpected happens to your car or house. It is easy to live paycheck to paycheck but that’s what really hurts when life hands you challenges.
REDUCE YOUR DEBT: This for me is a little like the pot calling the kettle black. 2010 was such a year of investment into Design Resumes for me that I have much ground to cover to get back into control with my debt load. I remodeled the office, traveled to conferences to meet colleagues and gain career industry education, I invested in sound advice in marketing, and I also did some other home improvements like a new furnace.
What will I do different in 2011? I will work at paying down debt and building savings. I will make sure that any new expenses are absolutely necessary. My ultimate goal is to be debt-free because that will give me the freedom to live my life under my own control.
STAY ON TOP OF YOUR FINANCES: Even though I have all of these tools available, I haven’t been using them to their full capacity and I often get buried in other things. Yesterday, I updated my spreadsheet for December and it took me about 3 hours. Why? because I let it get out of control. Updating it every few days or even daily would have gotten me on track and saved me a ton of time.
If you follow these suggestions, I think 2011 will be a year that you can remember fondly as one that you built a foundation for the future.
Lately, I have been hearing the same things from my clients, both the very new ones and the ones who have already achieved their goals. Here’s a couple of notes from my clients:
A year or so ago I was fired and came to you to do a resume for me, not only did you do an awesome resume but you gave me a glimmer of hope that all was not lost. It was so much more than just a resume to me. Recently I was hired at XYZ full time! With better pay and hours than I previously had at my old job, things really do happen for a reason!!
She had been at her old position for 16 years and it hit her very hard. I am smiling so much rereading this note. But when I first received her e-mail, I had tears streaming down my face. I know her struggle and it is so much fun to see the victory.
I recently started working with a young man who had left his chosen field, taken a job he hated just for income, and quit looking for something in his field. This is what he said after we wrote his resume:
I think the resume is coming out really really well.. Just in the past 2 days rewriting my resume has created a confidence or what I like to call a “swagger”. I can walk with my head upright knowing that just because I’m not doing what I want to right now, I really have a nice future ahead of me if I position myself correctly.
I just wrote about this in my most recent post, I see possibilities, but I wanted to share this with you. These two clients are not the exception. I have heard back from so many of the people I worked with this year.
Someone else chatted with me on Skype yesterday morning. He had decided not to move forward with his job search after we completed his resume but a company he really wants to work with found him on LinkedIn and he told me he is in his third round of interviews. He also told me that someone else we both know has had lots of leads generated from the LinkedIn profile we wrote for her.
I’m not the only resume writer / career marketing strategist with clients experiencing success. I see reports on Facebook and Twitter all the time and I hear it in phone conversations with colleagues. Not only that, many of us who are using social networking and blogging for our businesses have experienced an upsurge in business that we haven’t seen in the last few years. My own December career marketing income is currently up more than 480% when the month isn’t complete yet.
What does this mean?
For me, it tells me that job seekers are realizing the benefit of working with professionals and because we are hearing so many success stories of clients landing in new positions, I think it means that the economy is starting to recover. For all of us who have lived through these very tough times, we can breathe a sigh of relief.
For me, it also makes me excited to go into 2011. I have so many plans and goals.