Nov 9: Best from the blogosphereNovember 9, 2015
By Sheryl Smolkin
A traditional job trajectory has been for young people to finish school, get a job and then trudge up the corporate ladder, one step at a time. But some young people who have seen family members laid off and struggle to get new positions are taking a more entrepreneurial approach to career development.
In Why I Quit My High-Paying Job During a Recession To Work For You, Bridget Eastgaard explains why she recently resigned as a consultant to early-stage start-ups to grow her blog Money After Graduation and develop revenue from online courses, speaking engagements and brand partnerships. Watch for a podcast on savewithspp.com in early January where Bridget answers questions about her past and future career decisions.
For several years Sean Cooper has blogged extensively in various forums about his goal to be mortgage-free in just over three years by age 30. Well he did it! In a blog on MillionDollarJourney, he explains how at age 31 he has a net worth of $667,064. His income includes $55,000 (day job for pension consulting firm); $18,600 (rental income from first floor of his house); $40,000 (approximate freelance income). To celebrate, he had a mortgage burning party, bought a new wardrobe and he’s planning to travel more. But he doesn’t plan to fall victim to increasing his lifestyle to replace mortgage payments.
Tim Stobbs figures he’s about two years away from Freedom 45 and recently he wrote about The Plan for Getting Out. He says it’s not practical for his employer to keep him on for less than 80% or 90% of a full work week. Therefore he plans to keep his current 90% schedule and use his existing flexible benefit equal to 3% of his pay, to fund a further reduction of his working hours starting in 2016. He calculates that he actually has a pretty good deal because with the holidays and leave programs available to him next year, he will only work 182.3 days.
Cait Flanders, the Blonde on a Budget recently opened some fan mail and a cheque for $100 left her speechless. The reader who sent the cheque said Cait had a profound influence on her life. This made her realize that she does not want her writing to simply document her personal journey to a debt free and minimalist lifestyle. She says, “There are more free resources I want to create, social media campaigns I want to launch and topics I want to discuss. Despite enjoying ‘life with less,’ I want to do more here.”
And finally, if you are shopping for an engagement ring so you can pop the question at Christmas time, Kyle Prevost and Justin Bouchard at Young and Thrifty suggest you Have the Money Talk Before the Marriage Talk . They report that Business Insider has a great primer on how to have the talk about money with your future partner. Part of this money before marriage talk includes asking about your partner’s money philosophy, assets (and debts), and whether both of you should get a pre-nuptual agreement.
Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information with us on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.
BOOK REVIEW: More money for beer and textbooksSeptember 4, 2014
By Sheryl Smolkin
“More Money for Beer and Textbooks” by Kyle Prevost and Justin Bouchard is 200 easy-to-read and digest pages of down-to-earth advice about how to finance a post-secondary education without going into massive debt. And the authors do not advocate living an austere party-free existence.
Both are in their mid-twenties and graduated from the University of Manitoba. Kyle is a high school teacher and Justin is the Dean of Residence at St. John’s College on the University of Manitoba Campus. They also blog at myuniversitymoney.com and youngandthrifty.ca.
They recognize how difficult it is to get a high school or university student to sit down and read a book that won’t be on a final exam — particularly a personal finance book!
That’s why instead of counselling extreme frugality, they look at post-secondary education from the perspective of two guys who wish they knew then, what they know now. They figure they would each be at least $5,000 richer if they had taken their own advice.
They start off by comparing the cost of four years of school living away from home (about $80,000) to living at home (about $34,000). They also run the numbers for a two year college degree ($30,000 vs. $11,000). Nevertheless, they conclude that higher education is and will continue to be an excellent investment in an information-based economy.
When evaluating whether going away to school is a worthwhile investment, they weigh the pros and cons of on and off campus living for students.
One interesting living option proposed is for parents with more than one child attending the same school to consider buying a house with additional bedrooms for renters to help defray the mortgage costs. Prohibitive housing costs in cities like Vancouver or Toronto may make this idea impractical, but it could be a workable solution in smaller college towns.
For kids or their parents who think Canada and provincial student loans are the answer, the comprehensive section on applying and qualifying for student loans and paying them back is an eye opener.
The application process is so complex, the book gives a checklist of 16 types of information to have available before even beginning to complete the online form. And depending on parental income, it is assumed that the Bank of Mom & Dad will make a major contribution to school costs.
Repayment of student loans doesn’t start until six months after the end of university, but interest starts accruing at the end of the final semester. Former students can opt for a variable interest rate of prime plus 2.5% or a fixed interest rate of prime plus 5%. A bankruptcy will not wipe the slate clean but a Repayment Assistance Plan is available in limited circumstances.
The chapter on scholarships and bursaries reveals the surprising fact that every year in Canada about $7-million in free money earmarked for post-secondary education goes unclaimed. There are lots of great suggestions about where to find scholarships and12 scholarship tips anyone can use.
For example, the authors say don’t just Google “scholarships” and apply for the top three like everyone else. The people who really succeed in the realm of scholarships are those who apply EVERYWHERE.
Too much trouble?
Most scholarship applications are similar and once a student has applied to several, he/she can cut and paste the rest with a little creative tweaking. And if the application process is really complicated, the odds are the applicant won’t have much competition.
There are also lots of good illustrations of how scholarship applicants can market themselves. For example, a former McDonald’s employee can emphasize the positive by describing the experience as “building practical business and communications skills in an entry-level position while learning how to contribute positively to building a team atmosphere.”
Providing references with a summary of activities and attributes they may not be fully aware of is another great suggestion that could result in detailed and glowing letters of support for scholarship applications.
Trying to keep costs down while still having a good time?
Kyle and Justin suggest students drink at home instead of in a bar to improve their “booze-to-dollar” ratio. They can also score free soft drinks and save money each time they offer to be the designated driver. For those with the space and inclination, they even suggest making homemade beer or wine can as another way to minimize cash spent on alcohol!
Other chapters deal with summer jobs, student tax returns, credit cards, budgeting basics and the importance of choosing an “in demand” career.
As both educators and recent graduates, the authors are able to strike the right balance between a breezy presentation and delivering lots of useful information. This book can be the catalyst for important discussions between parents and their college-bound offspring.
More Money for Beer and Textbooks can be purchased for $14.40 online at Chapters.