Enter: Amie Gottschalk
Have you watched your parents struggle with money, especially lately? Are you worried about whether you will have financial security in your future? Most people graduate from college worried about whether they’ll get the right return on their investment and be able to begin a lucrative career where they don’t have to panic over finances. But not panicking over finances is about a lot more than just your career. Times are changing. Over 2 million recent college grads moved back in with their parents in 2011, and the number is expected to have risen in 2012. Whether that’s happened to you, or whether you want to avoid it, the trick is to start planning for the next 20 years right now. What are the most important things to think about?
1. Choosing Your Job
Okay, it’s not always that much of a choice, especially if you’re new to your field and don’t have a wealth of experience to bring to the table. You might be happy to just find a stable job in this economy. But no matter where you end up working, you should ask yourself what kind of financial security your company offers. Is there room for advancement? Will you be making the same salary in a decade as you are right now? By your second or third year in your company, you should be ready to assess the situation. If you’re not in a job where you feel you can excel, you should be planning your next move and looking for opportunities as they come along.
2. Buying a Home
Many young people wonder what the right age is for them to think about purchasing their first house. The truth is that it entirely depends on where you are in life - your career, your savings, and your credit, as well as your plans to settle down. If you’re single, you still want the chance to travel, or you’re just not sure where you want to end up, you can still think about buying property and renting it out. It can be a smart investment at any age. And buying a home in this market, with historically low interest rates, could be an opportunity that doesn’t come along again. If you have the means, you should do it. Just don’t take the leap before you know you’re ready for the cost and responsibility. Buying a house is important, but holding onto your house for years to come matters just as much.
3. Buying a Car
The number of young people buying new cars has risen in 2012 for the first time in 5 years. Young buyers have definitely returned to the automobile market, but does that mean you should buy a new vehicle? Not necessarily. You want to invest in a vehicle that meets your needs, whether it be new or used, and you don’t want to get over your head with a payment that absorbs way too much of your monthly income. Used cars are typically about 12 percent cheaper than their new versions, but you want to make sure when you’re shopping for one that you don’t invest in anything that has had serious mechanical damage or may cost a lot to repair in the future. And factoring in promotional deals and discounts, especially in today’s market, sometimes a new car actually turns out to be less expensive. It’s worth thinking long term when you’re shopping around.
4. Handling Debt
Virtually all of the major purchases you’re going to want to make depend on your credit history, but this is not the sole reason to face your debt now. College leaves most people in a financial sinkhole, not only because of accumulating student loans, but also because of the increase in credit card debt among students. Graduates have an average of 4.6 credit cards and $4,000 in debt, and even though it doesn’t seem like it, this has the potential to grow much higher when you factor in the cost of a home, bills, insurance premiums, and everything else you will be juggling in your adult life. It may be impossible to just pay it all off, but you can consolidate it. Cut down on the number of cards and make reducing your debt an active part of your life before you have a family to think about.
If you’ve ever seen your parents worry about bills when you were growing up, you know that balancing money issues for your household can be difficult. That’s why it’s important to develop good financial habits early on. With a few major decisions, you can control how your finances shape up for years to come. It’s all about having the power to make your future a little brighter.
Amie Gottschalk is an avid blogger who writes often for several educational sites. You can follow her on Twitter @amiegottschalk.
Enter: Amie Gottschalk
Everyone knows what it’s like to think about what you want to be when you grow up, and when you’re a kid, your ideas are usually a little less than practical. It’s only when you get to be around college-age that you have a strong enough sense of your skills and interests, not to mention your need for financial security, to make bigger decisions about your future. How do you balance doing something you love with doing something that can give you the life you want? Choosing a career is not all that different from choosing a spouse. The number one rule you learn as you get older is that life is fluid, and that your needs, priorities, and interests constantly change. It’s important to have a job that can change with you - hopefully, for the better.
1. Looking for Diversity in Job Opportunities
Whether you’re interested in working in business, public administration, or the medical field, most people find their greatest chance for success lies in an area where their skills apply to lots of different jobs. In most industries, many of the careers are interdependent. You might enter your field with one career and find that another related career is much more interesting to you. Also, the jobs which are the most in demand can easily change and you might need to transition to a career where there are greater opportunities. Some industry positions are becoming more obsolete due to advances in technology, especially if you work in IT or web design. And in fields like healthcare, the high demand for new kinds of care creates new positions to be filled all the time.
2. Why Promotions Matter
The ability to transition between career paths is important in your industry, but so is ability to climb the ladder. There are many obvious reasons for this, and the first is money. There should be room for advancement in any job, even if you don’t consider yourself an ambitious future CEO. If you’re working in some of the fastest-growing fields in the United States, you will probably find that an increase in the number of jobs means competition for the high-paying leadership positions becomes even stiffer. It’s never too late for further education, more training, or whatever you need to plan for your future.
3. The Importance of Career Flexibility
Studies show that both men and women increasingly prefer jobs with flexibility even over jobs with higher pay. Many people underestimate the importance of avoiding a 9-to-5 desk job until they’re working one. Flexible schedules are great for younger workers looking to start a family, or for employees who are pursuing side interests or further education while they work. More flexible jobs can mean an easier chance for transitioning or getting promoted. You can work behind the desk in a hospital while searching for online mph programs, or you can work as a paralegal and still have time to shadow a lawyer in the courtroom. It’s clear that some jobs are more flexible than others by nature, but how much freedom you get in your own schedule can depend on finding a company that is willing to work with you.
4. Knowing Your Priorities
Everyone wants achieve a good balance between work and life, but the things you value in life should be incorporated into your work as much as possible. After all, you will spend an average of 15 percent of your life at your job. If travel is really important to you, you will be drawn to careers that let you travel. Many people are inspired by working with and helping others, and if this is a priority for you, you shouldn’t be stuck in an office every day. You might not live your impractical childhood dreams, but just as some of your career requirements become much more specific, others can become broader. No matter how much money you make, you will never be truly happy in your career unless you’re doing something you are passionate about. And it’s okay if what you’re passionate about changes, even if it changes a lot.
The question of what you want to be when you grow up often has more than one answer, and the answers might not always stay the same. When you become an adult, you realize that this is normal. Some people are lucky enough to find their calling early in life, but for many more, it will keep evolving. You should expect to need room to grow, change, and improve, and if the company or organization you’re working for values your contribution, they will let you. It’s never too late to acquire new skills to make your personal and professional life brighter.
Amie Gottschalk is an avid blogger who writes often for several educational sites. You can follow her on Twitter @amiegottschalk.
Enter: Amie Gottschalk
When you were younger, chances are that adults asked you about what you wanted to be when you grew up as frequently as they questioned you about your name or age. People get inspiration about their career paths in all types of ways. A young person who watches the famous Kentucky Derby horse race on TV when they’re in kindergarten might soon feel that spark of yearning that could someday transform into a marketable career as a jockey. Unfortunately though, as we get older, that initial fervor about a seemingly glamorous career often fizzles out to become a mere glimmer of hope. Usually, this isn’t because of a lack of interest, but rather a knee-jerk reaction to the pressures of life closing in. Priorities shift, and suddenly the fight to secure gainful employment and avoid an existence that’s dominated by packages of instant ramen noodles and living in your parents’ basement outweighs the desire to do something daring.
Is Adaptability the Key to Happiness?
One of the beautiful things about being young is that we still believe that anything is within our grasp. However, adulthood is no excuse to make that boundless enthusiasm take a back seat. It’s just necessary to think creatively and be willing to adapt.
A recent survey published on Forbes.com showed that less than twenty percent of respondents considered themselves happy with their current job. It’s often said that life’s too short to plod through tasks that rob a person of any hint of vigor, and the same is true with careers. The secret to doing what you love and staying afloat too may just lie in a willingness to be flexible.
Whenever you answered the question about what you want to be when you grew up, so many years ago, it probably seemed like your response was potentially life-altering. Fortunately, technology and expanded learning methods mean that there’s no reason to commit to just one career path for your entire life. Now, it’s possible to expand your education and work towards earning graduate degrees by logging onto the Internet or participating in a satellite program at local community college. These kinds of efforts could equip you for the challenges of switching careers so that you don’t feel stuck.
Do yourself a favor and try to rekindle some of that hopefulness that drove your decisions when you were young. With the right attitude, you’ll probably discover that some of your current skills or interests could make you a strong candidate for in-demand jobs that’ll challenge and excite you.
Being a grown-up doesn’t mean you have to feel like you’re stuck in a hamster wheel whenever you start the workday. Actually, it gives you the freedom to take initiative and remind yourself that the question of “What do you want to be when you grow up?” might have any number of answers. A report by Net Impact showed that over half of today’s workers want to use their job to make a positive difference. Why not take a step towards loving your job by researching a career change today? Then, at least you can start by making a worthwhile impact on your own outlook.
Amie Gottschalk is an avid blogger. You can follow her on Twitter @amiegottschalk.
Enter: Kelly Dunning
I’ll be honest; a few years ago I really didn’t want to grow up.
Before I left Canada to go on a working holiday in New Zealand when I was 22, I really struggled with transitioning into adulthood. I was not looking forward to becoming an “adult” as everything that I had heard about it really didn’t sound that great.
Luckily, my amazing experiences around the world made me realize that I had been lied to. Guess what? Adulthood is not as bad as everyone wants to make it seem. All of those big scary myths about what will happen to you when you face the “real world” are just not true. At least, they don’t have to be if you don’t want them to be.
I got a New Zealand visa and worked there for six months, which is where I met my English boyfriend. Instead of going back home, I followed him to England and spent 14 months living and working in his home town in Lancashire. During that time I built up an online income as a freelance writer and now we are “digital nomads”, working while we constantly travel the world, including Europe, North America and Southeast Asia.
“Your Only Chance to Travel Is When You Are Young”
When I told older people that I was going on a working holiday to New Zealand, they all said the same thing to me, “Oh that’s great. Do it while you are young because when you get older and settle down you won’t be able to.”
I couldn’t help but be a little bit shocked by this statement. Are you telling me that there is only a small time window in my life when I am allowed to do the thing that I love the most and if I ever have a family I will be deprived of it forever? Somehow that doesn’t seem right.
After nearly two years of traveling the world and meeting travelers of all ages, I realized that the truth is not that you “won’t be able to” travel when you get older, it’s simply that most people choose not to.
If you are past your 30s and you start having kids, it’s fine to want to focus your energy on your family life and your career. However, recognize that this doesn’t mean you still can’t travel the world if you want to. Where people get it wrong is when they confuse priorities with restrictions. You are in one place because you choose to be, but not because you have to be.
Instead of buying that second car you could spend the same amount backpacking around Southeast Asia for a few months with your kids. Just Google “family travel blog” and you will find hundreds of examples of families who are traveling the world together. Not only are they enjoying their passion, but the children are having priceless learning experiences in different cultures around the world that they could never have in a classroom.
I’m not dreading getting old and settling down anymore, because I know that I will always make travel a priority in my life. I will just have to be creative and figure out different ways to do it which work best for my family.
“You Should Have a Plan for the Future”
Why is there this myth that adults have to have their life planned out in five year increments from now until retirement? Why is there so much pressure on young people to know where they will be 5 years from now?
What I learned from working abroad is that having a plan for the future is actually impossible, because you never know what is going to happen. I thought that I was going to go on a working holiday in New Zealand for six months and then return to Canada. I had no idea that I would fall in love with an English guy, move to England for a year on a UK work permit, become a freelance writer and end up working online while traveling the world. How in the world would I have planned for that?
In fact, I think having too strict of a plan for your life makes you like a horse with blinders on, missing out on all of the paths that you could take along the way. I’ve learned not to worry too much about a plan and simply do what makes the most sense to me at the time.
“Having Your Dream Career is Unrealistic”
Hey adults, why do we tell children that they can follow their dream and do anything they want with their lives, while in the same breath complaining about the fact that we have to go back to the job we hate on Monday? Why do we create this myth for ourselves that our dream lifestyle is unattainable and we have to settle for something less?
After my working abroad adventure I asked myself what I wanted to do with my life, and the answer was to make a living as a writer and travel the world. Right now I am writing to you from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia after having been a full time freelance writer for over a year and a half while backpacking across Europe, Canada, the USA and Southeast Asia. It is my dream job and I wouldn’t change a thing.
Why do I so rarely meet other people who can describe what they are doing as their “dream job”?
Yes, it is hard, I won’t deny that. To design your ideal lifestyle takes guts, imagination, commitment and hard work. I slogged away at crappy low paying writing gigs in the evenings and weekends alongside my full time “day job” while working abroad in England in order to set myself up for the 4 hour days on tropical beaches that I have now.
But I think that the disappointment of committing for the rest of my life to a job that didn’t fulfill me would have been much worse. I don’t think that’s growing up, I think that’s giving up.
The years I spent working abroad helped me to shatter the big myths that were making me so scared to grow up. I realized that adulthood doesn’t have to be anything other than what I want it to be. I’m not going to give up and swallow these myths, but rather continue to design the life I choose.
To me, that’s what growing up is all about.
Kelly Dunning is a writer for Global Visas, the world’s leading authority on immigration and working visas. Contact them to learn more about obtaining the right visa to work abroad in another country.
Enter: Amie Gottschalk
When you were 11, did you wish you were 12? When you hit 13, did you start looking forward to 16? Chances are that when you were 18, you couldn’t wait to make it to the legal drinking age. Now that you’re an adult, do you wonder why you ever wanted to grow up? Being an adult is chalk full of responsibility, and most of that responsibility costs money. Here are just five of the high costs of being an adult:
When you were squatting at your parents’ house, it’s a pretty safe bet that you weren’t paying a lick of rent. If you moved out of your parents’ house and into a dorm room, you probably weren’t paying for that either. Once you decide to move into your own apartment, you should know that the average cost of rent in America is just under $700 per month. Mind you that this is only rent; it doesn’t include any utility bills that you’ll be forced to pay. You may actually be better off buying a starter home. Then again, coming up with a ten percent down payment can be fairly difficult for someone just starting out.
2. Car Payments
Did your parents buy you a car when you got your driver’s license? Maybe you saved up all of your birthday money and bought a clunker to tool around town in. As an adult, are you going to be happy driving a rust bucket through the city? Other adults aren’t going to be impressed with you simply because you have your own car unlike your 16 year old friends were. If you want to buy a car that you’ll be proud to own, expect to plunk down about $2,000 for a down payment. Once you’ve given your life savings to the car dealer, you can expect to pay anywhere from $350 to $500 a month for your new vehicle thank to your lack of credit history.
Are you aware of what types of insurance coverage your parents were paying for when you lived at home? You’re going to quickly figure it out once you start living on your own. You’ll be paying for health, life, auto and renters’ or home insurance at a minimum. If you’re lucky enough to be able to pay for health insurance through your employer, your premiums can be fairly inexpensive. If you’re forced to pay for a private health insurance policy, you’ll be paying through the nose. Of course, you can always skip paying for insurance. Doing so will only cost you your car and possibly your health and possessions.
Remember being at Mom and Dad’s and opening the cupboard door whenever you were hungry? If you were like most kids in America, you didn’t want for at least a can of soup and your mom or dad probably had dinner on the table every night. Now that you’re on your own, you’ll quickly find out just how much it costs to keep the fridge stocked and the cupboards from looking too bare. While you could realistically live on a diet of Ramen Noodles, do you really want to? Even if you very carefully stick to a shopping list, you can easily spend $200 a month on food. Think that you feel like going out to eat because you’re too lazy to cook? Plan on spending at least $10 per meal.
When you were 16, it was easy to bat your eyes or hold your hand out and get Dad to pull $20 out of his wallet so you could go on a date or out with your friends. Unless you plan on sitting at home every night of the week, you’ll need to budget for entertainment. Cable can easily run you $100 a month if you throw the Internet in with it, a night out at the movies will cost you $20 if you buy snacks and you’ll be paying for your own dates from now on. Think you want to go to the bar and have a good time with your friends? $5 for a drink isn’t unheard of. Once you start paying for your own entertainment, you may consider writing your parents a thank you note for all those times they footed the bill.
There’s no doubt that being an adult comes with its perks; unfortunately, it also comes with a hefty price tag. Once you start carrying your own weight, you may wonder why 11-year old you ever wanted to grow up in the first place. Not only will you have to pay for the five things above, but you’ll also have to start saving for retirement, asking yourself things like “are immediate fixed annuities a good idea?” What’s that old saying about being careful what you wish for?
Amie Gottschalk is an avid tech blogger. You can follow her on Twitter @amiegottschalk.
Enter: Pete Kontakos
Many studies, such as the one conducted in 2001 by the Harvard School of Public Health, have proven what many of us intuitively know: a positive outlook is a key component to a longer, healthier, and more satisfying life. While these studies have not been able to conclusively prove exactly why this is so, the results are hard to argue. Positivity, or a lack thereof, impacts each of us both physically and mentally and those effects can bleed over into just about all areas of life, including family relationships and careers.
What is Positivity?
Positivity is simply a predisposition to choosing to look on the good side of things rather than the bad. Positive people often report being satisfied and happy with what they have instead of lamenting what they lack, regardless of socioeconomic status. In fact, accumulating more wealth and material goods often has little bearing on happiness and can sometimes create unhappiness. Positive people maintain a focus on the good things in life and believe that they have the ability to make themselves happy. There’s also an element of control: positive people not only believe that good outweighs bad, but that they can bring about good things through their own efforts.
Impact on Physical and Mental Health
People with an optimistic attitude appear to endure the effects of aging better, have reduced incidents of disease, and recover more easily or more fully from illness. Other health benefits that are linked to positive thinking include increased life span, lower levels of stress, reduced rates of depression, and greater resistance to colds and other common illnesses. A positive outlook is also linked to a general feeling of physical and psychological well-being and improved ability to cope with hardships.
Impact on Career
Negative thoughts can create negative feelings about your career in general or your job in particular, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy that prevents you from being successful. In the same manner, positive thinking can set you up for success. A positive outlook accounts for a significant proportion of professional success, particularly in careers that focus on interpersonal communication, such as sales or management. Positive thinking also fosters self-confidence, which is a powerful tool for professional success. In addition, people enjoy being around positive people and generally try to avoid being around negative people. Being someone that other people enjoy working with will also benefit your career prospects and overall job satisfaction.
How Can You Be More Positive?
With so many benefits stemming from having a positive attitude, it only makes sense to approach life with as positive an outlook as possible. But what about those who aren’t naturally positive? The good news is that being a positive or negative person is largely due to habit. This means that you can actually train your mind to think more positively.
Below are steps to breaking the habit of negative thinking and developing a healthier habit of positivity.
- Focus on looking for possibilities, not obstacles, when faced with new tasks.
- When confronted with a new experience, reframe fear and anxiety by looking at things as an adventure.
- Engage in positive self-talk, especially when you anticipate stressful situations.
- Fake it until you make it – even if you don’t feel happy, calm, or self-confident at the moment, by acting as if you are, over time you will actually start to feel that way.
- Surround yourself with positive people and allow their energy to rub off on you.
- Focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want. For example, focus on becoming financially independent, not on your lack of money or your debt.
- Break the habit of complaining. If you catch yourself complaining, try to stop and reframe your thoughts or remarks in a positive way. •
- Avoid negative phrases, like “I can’t” or “this will never work”. These phrases condition your mind to look for negative outcomes to prove that you were right.
- In conversations with negative people, try to counter their negative comments with positive comments.
By taking a few steps to become more positive, you can make real and lasting changes in your life and in your overall feelings of contentment and satisfaction.
Pete Kontakos is a contributor that writes about Leadership Training and Online Education.
Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are entering the workplace in record numbers. They are idealistic, diverse, digitally-enabled, social and perhaps most importantly, ambitious. While these are all traits that can make a positive impact on your organization, it is a tall task to retain and motivate millennials for a variety of reasons. Their attitudes toward work and careers differ from previous generations as evidenced by the following:
- In a recent survey, millennials prioritized “meaningful work” over high pay.
- 1 in 3 millennials said “social media freedom” is a higher priority than salary.
- 70% of millennials are planning to change jobs once the economy improves.
Change can be daunting, but these factors are not difficult to embrace and can ultimately improve your company culture.
Here are some things you can do to maximize your leadership of millennials:
Empower the entrepreneurial spirit
- 92% of surveyed 21-24 year-olds said entrepreneurship education was vital in the new economy
- 30% started a business in college
Provide quality feedback
- 80% of millennials said they would prefer feedback in real time rather than via traditional performance reviews Let them grow
- 65% of millennials said personal development was the most influential factor in their current job
“As for your fears, remember this: they aren’t true.”
I wrote this to a student who is currently in the same graduate school program I completed a few years ago when she contacted me for advice on her career after graduation.
I often receive emails from potential students asking questions about the program, the faculty, and career opportunities so they can decide if they should enroll or not. This particular student was different though because she was only a few months away from graduation and she really opened up to me about the overwhelming stress she was feeling.
She was afraid. Afraid of not being recognized by big companies. Afraid of not being an attractive candidate. Afraid of not being seen at all through the sea of resumes that inundate companies every day.
She had a great resume, great experience, and great education. But she was still scared. Everything around her was moving so quickly and changing so rapidly that her normal relaxed mentality disappeared to let fear and anxiety take its place.
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Enter: Erin Palmer
In the workplace, you have to fight hard to end up on top. Through the course of your career you will be faced with adversity time and time again. You will have to make tough decisions and suffer through losses. The workplace might not be a fight to the death in a post-apocalyptic world like “The Hunger Games,” but Katniss Everdeen can still teach you a lot about how to achieve career success.
Show off your strengths the right away
When Katniss is training to go to the arena, she demonstrated both her nerve and her talent with a bow and arrow. Showing off her prowess got the attention of her peers and the leaders of the Games. One bold move immediately established her as a person to watch.
Don’t hesitate to use this approach in the workplace. Whether you are a new hire or a seasoned employee, make sure to demonstrate your capabilities. If you are new to a team, exhibiting what you are capable of early on can allow you to jump right into projects rather than starting in the background. A strong first impression can help you kick off your career path with respect from your co-workers and plenty of momentum.
If you have been with your company for a while, try showcasing skills that you haven’t gotten the chance to use yet. Create an opportunity to show the abilities that you don’t get to use in your day to day job. Ask to be put on a new project or to work with another department on something that can show off your talents. Your superiors won’t know what you can accomplish if you do not show them.
Don’t waste time feeling sorry for yourself
Having to fight to the death against twenty-three others was a terrifying notion to Katniss. She was scared and overwhelmed at times. Though she was not happy to be put in such a dire circumstance, she chose to focus on what she could do about it.
It is inevitable that you will have to face setbacks at work. Your idea might get rejected. You might be passed up for a promotion. You could even become victim of a layoff. Unfortunate as it may be, sometimes things will not go your way. How you deal with problems will have a major impact on your career trajectory.
Feeling sorry for yourself is a waste of time. It won’t make you feel better or improve the situation. Worse, whining and complaining around the office will tarnish your credibility. Your peers won’t want to work with you if you are always negative. Your boss will not be impressed either. Instead of pouting, be proactive. Think of what you can do to make things better. A plan of action is far better than a bad attitude.
Learn how to thrive while working with others
Though the Hunger Games was an individual competition, many people helped shape Katniss into such a powerful force. Her friend Gale improved her hunting and tracking skills. Her stylist Cinna taught her the importance of image. Her mentor Haymitch taught her survival. She even had help from other players in the Games. Katniss did not like all of these people, but she learned from them.
It isn’t enough to work well with others. Anyone can be polite and agreeable at work. You should take advantage of how your colleagues, bosses and mentors can increase your skill set. Even the coworker that you aren’t fond of could help you improve.
Obviously, your peers can teach you new skills and abilities. However, the person in the cubicle next to you might have more to offer than showing you how to use a program. Discover how you can bring out the best in yourself through others. If your peer always meets deadlines with ease, ask questions about his or her organizational style. Pay attention to the traits that you covet and the ones you want to avoid. Figure out ways to incorporate what you learn into your career.
Katniss Everdeen might be a fictional 16 year old, but she is impressive nonetheless. Emulating her can help you achieve workplace success. Building influence at work will help the odds be ever in your favor.
Erin Palmer is a contributor to U.S. News University Directory an education portal designed to help students and working professionals locate hundreds of business degrees online, distance learning MBA’s and professional certification courses from top colleges and universities, as well as, a growing collection of education articles and career videos. For more information please visit http://www.usnewsuniversitydirectory.com.