What does affordable actually mean?

Affordable is a tricky word.  If you look at it simply enough, when an item is affordable then you can spare the money to buy it.  But I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately.  I’ve had discussions with various friends about this, largely stemming over the potential large purchases in life (cars, houses, engagement rings) or the month to month costs that we regularly incur (iPhones, iPhones, iPhones).  What I’ve realized is that most people have very different beliefs over what affordable means and when certain things are affordable.  So everyone is on the same page, I think we have to define the term for pretty much all purposes going forward.

So many iPhones, it's just...wait what the hell is that big thing??

So many iPhones, it’s just…wait what the hell is that big thing??

Defining what is affordable and what is not has to be a fluid state.  What’s affordable for someone making $20k a year will probably be significantly different than for someone that is making $100K a year.  That can get even more skewed if the person making $20k a year is actually just collecting that in dividends from their $1Million in mutual funds.  So let’s just try to set some base rules.  We’re talking major purchases and everyday recurring transactions.

1.  Homes: The rule of thumb that you will hear from bankers and mortgage brokers is that your monthly home payment shouldn’t be more than 30% of your gross income(income before taxes) for that month.  There is actually a decent amount of debate here in the personal finance community, mostly because frugality is constantly desired.  A modest home can achieve just as much love and happiness as an expensive home can, while saving you a huge chunk of cash.  Let’s look at the numbers here if you’re on a budget with a $50k a year gross income.  That means your take home gross is $4,166.67 a month, before taxes.  This means that your home payment can be as high as $1,250 a month.  That doesn’t sound bad until you realize that your take home, after tax income is only about $1,450 each pay period (semi-monthly pay).  So on the first of every month you pay your mortgage and than have only $200 until your next paycheck to cover your expenses.  In the interest of keeping our budgets in check and maximizing savings, I think that 20% is probably the actual best number for someone to pay for their home.  Realistically, this should be for both a rental and for a home (yes, I know that with property tax deduction you can do more for a mortgage but hey, we’re trying to simplify!).  Verdict: no more than 20% of gross income

2.  Cars: This is a simple one.  We’ve mentioned it in the past and I’ve stolen it straight from the Financial Samurai himself.  Never purchase a car that costs more than 10% of your gross annual income.  If you make $50K a year, then you better find a good and reliable $5K car to purchase.  I know that I’m guilty of not following this rule myself but, in my defense, I hadn’t started trying to turn my financial world around at that point.  And I wouldn’t do it again.  The truth here is that by using a disciplined approach on this big purchase, you don’t have to suffer the opportunity cost of money lost on car payments when they could have been spent on investments.  If you’re serious about getting your finances in shape, it’s essential to follow this rule.  Verdict: no more than 10% of gross income

3.  Cell Phones: Everyone has one.  Everyone.  And pretty much everyone out there has an iPhone or an amazing Android.  However, the plans from the big providers can cost you well over $100.  I don’t pay for my plan (company phone) but I know that the cost is somewhere around $125 a month.  Now, it’s ok for my company to expense it but for me, that’s a steep price to pay.  There are other, better plans, from some carriers out there that will run you less than $50 a month.  T-Mobile offers some extremely competitive plans in this area with unlimited data.  Another great plan is Republic Wireless.  On their network you pay $19 a month, get a pretty good phone and end up with unlimited talking, data, and texting.  You have to hook it up to your wifi network at home but I’d say it’s worth the cost.  If I didn’t have a work phone, I’d probably go with this.  Verdict: No need to ever spend more than $50 here

4.  Discretionary items:  A lot of every day items tend to be things that people think they can afford.  I’m talking about clothing, a night out, or an expensive dinner.  While I don’t think we should restrict ourselves completely (it’s ok to buy yourself something nice every once in a while), we all have to stick to our budgets and live within our means.  If someone has a goal of saving 30% of their salary a month and has 30% tied up in their car and home payments, well, they only have 40% left to split up amongst utilities, gas, groceries, and taxes.  Those items can take up to 30% of one’s income.  That means that only 10% is left for the fun discretionary things.  If you make 50K a year, you’re not going to have much more than that 10% to really spend on the extravagant things in life.  Verdict: 10% of your income is discretionary, no more!

I know that some of these items seem fairly harsh but we all know that we spend too much money. Without sitting down and really quantifying what affordable truly means in dollars, we will never really know.  Use these amounts as guidelines or maybe you have some of your own.  I’m sure that there might be a category or two out there that I’ve missed!

 

Picture courtesy of Nobuyuki Hayashi

Working from home

With my new job, I have a new office.  It’s a tiny corner of the apartment with a decent view of the outside.  I have a nice desk, a printer, and a pretty great monitor setup.  You see, for my new job I’m working remotely.  I’ve mentioned it before but now that I’ve been doing it for more than a month, I have a much better idea about what it truly entails.  And while I definitely am loving the flexibility with regards to my sleep schedule, it’s definitely lacking something that you just get when you work in the office.  There are, specifically, four things that people have warned me about:

1. Decreased productivity

2. Loss of creativity

3. Complete loss of interpersonal skills

4. A slow, creeping madness

When we get right down to it, there is some truth to this.  With regards to number 1, I’m actually absurdly productive, it’s just different.  For example, working at home has led to me doing a tremendous amount of work over a 2 hour period followed by a relaxing 20 minutes of watching, say, Community.  Then I’m right back to work, pushing paper and making finance stuff make sense!  The problem here is that sometimes, if you don’t feel like working, you have to move mountains to get your normal workload done.  Seriously, mountains.

For number 2, a loss of creativity, I’m not exactly having a problem there.  For starters, I was never that creative to begin with.  Can’t lose it if you don’t got it.  But still, the threat is there.  Luckily I have a couple of interesting projects going on that require me to use what little creativity I have.  Like this site or my wedding.  Between those two and a couple of other items, I’m not at a loss for creative outlets.  But what I can see happening is number 3, losing the ability to actually communicate with people.

Losing my ability to talk to people, reason with them, etc, is a HUGE fear I have with regards to working from home.  See, one part of my job that most people don’t realize is that I spend large portions of my day on the phone working out deals.  So I have to interact with people every day.  My job literally depends on it.  So the only way I’m able to keep that ability is to start getting out there and meeting and interacting with more people.  So, I joined a kickball team (Saved by the balls) and am making a point to go out more often.  Now, I’m not spending a lot of money when I go out but it’s definitely been a lot of fun and has kept me reasonably sharp for work.

Now, number four isn’t a real fear for me.  I have an amazing fiance here to keep me from really losing my mind.  But if I do, you, the reader, will likely be the first to really notice.  So, uh, yeah keep an eye out for that.  Thanks!

When it comes down to it, working from home has been great.  I don’t have to commute, I can sleep in if I want and I am eating WAY healthier.  It also gives me a bit more time to work on the site, which I love.  I think it’s one thing that everyone needs to try at least once in their careers.  It’s giving me the possibility to move to a less expensive city and potentially own a house!  It opens up possibilities that being locked to a desk just doesn’t quite allow.  Until next time folks.

The first four rules of investing

So some of you out there might think that the stock market is the key to your growing fortune.  And while you’re mostly right, especially if you have a 401k or use index funds to grow your wealth, you’re also kind of wrong.  Not by much, mind you, just a tiny bit.  The reason here is that more fortunes are lost on Wall Street than won.  This isn’t exclusive to just stocks but extends to private placements, forex trading, futures trading, the commodities market, and even bonds.  The reason here is that many people, quite simply, don’t understand the way the market works.  So here are four rules for investing in individual companies, just to start, to help keep you safe, grow your wealth and keep your mind at ease.

1.  Neither give advice on what stocks to buy nor take advice blindly from people, whether they are brokers, investment bankers or simple some blogger writing about stuff.  Let’s face it, if you don’t know a company inside and out, know their growth record, profitability, when their debt is coming due, etc, you probably don’t know the company well enough to invest in them.  Some people, mainly technical traders who work off trends in the market, might argue that you don’t need to know anything about a company to profit off this.  While this may be true for traders who make millions of dollars a year, it is rarely true for the individual investor putting a couple hundred dollars into the market.

2.  Take your profits when you do and don’t worry about missed profits.  Sometimes you buy a company, sell it for a profit and then watch it keep going up.  Yeah, that sucks.  But you still made money.  Don’t get greedy!  When you invest, it’s the little things that matter.  Making a sure profit is better than taking a loss.

a.  There is of course a minor side note to this rule.  If you’re investing in the market, don’t day trade and make 30 or 40 trades a day! Be selective, find a good investment and hold onto it for the long term. You’ll lower your tax costs on the transaction by turning it into a long term capital gain and you’ll weather ups and downs more easily.

3.  Profits will come and go from day to day.  Some days you’ll be up 3 or 4% while others you may be down 10%.  Don’t let the bastards get you down.  You need to be patient, trust yourself and the decisions you made.  You may have to adjust your stocks over time to account for material adverse changes in some investments but overall, be patient.  It’ll take you much further than panic and fear will.

I think this guy has it down pretty good

I think this guy has it down pretty good

4.  You can’t survive the market without capital, patience, and an understanding of risk.  It doesn’t matter what you’re trying to invest in, eventually you’re going to run into rumors and ghosts.  You’ll hear people telling you to bet big on this one opportunity, that you can make a fortune shorting this penny stock while going long on porkbellies and trying to corner the orange concentrate market.  You’ll need to be patient in your actions, never push your risk beyond what is safe and don’t jump into any market if you don’t have the capital to survive it.

There are two running themes through all four of these rules.  They all have to do with patience and the psychological strength one may possess.  Ultimately, these are going to be two of the most important aspects of any part of your life.  If you’re investing, you need to be patient but also able to walk away from a loss without letting it break your stride.  You need to be patient while paying your debts in life and never be afraid that your plan won’t work.

You may recognize this philosophy a little bit from Mr. Money Mustache and from Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  It has a lot to do with how we run our lives and how we handle investing.  The basis here is that there are only so many things that we can control in our lives but we concern ourselves with many things we have no influence over.  Investing falls firmly into this.  We can’t control where the market goes, which company will be profitable and which company will fail.  Concerns like this are not things we can control.  What we can control is when we buy and sell stocks.  We can control how much profit or loss we will incur.  This is the psychological strength we need in our day to day lives.  It allows us to be patient and strong during market ups and downs and allows us to recognize what we can and cannot control in our day.  

So stop worrying about the market, the debt limit, etc.  You can’t control those things.  If this whole debt limit showdown gets to you, then vote for someone else next time or run for office yourself, because that’s the limit of your control here.  If you’re going to start investing beyond index funds, follow the rules above.  You can’t control how the market will function but you can control your actions on the market.

Fear, Patience, and Faith in the Process

I was checking out an article the other day about Facebook.  The article basically scolds the people who panic-sold Facebook when it was in the $20’s for being impatient and letting fear rule the day.  This got me thinking about the whole process of investing and how it is connected to what we do in our everyday lives.  I don’t just mean the products we buy but I meant the way we choose to act on a daily basis, both internally and externally.

Let me start at the beginning here.  If you know me, and I think most of you do to some extent, you know that I have a tremendous amount of faith in the process.  What I mean by this is the process that occurs during our lives when we embark upon a normal, everyday commitment.  This can mean getting hired out of college to an entry level position, working your ass off for promotions and better paying jobs, hustling for connections, and then one day, ending up with a job that pays well and that you’re content with.  Or maybe you’re out of shape and decide to go to the gym, eat healthy and put in the effort rid yourself of flub.  Eventually, you’re in shape because you put in the work.  I’m saying is that in life there is rarely a roadmap but there is a direction for us to move in so we can accomplish our goals, whether we know them or not. There will undoubtably be ups and there will most certainly be downs.  Life is a process and it’s constantly evolving. We have to trust in the process, stay humble and patient, and one day our efforts are rewarded. 

 

Just keep going up that hill...

Just keep going up that hill…

There are two aspects of the process that I see most people struggling with..  First and foremost, people have trouble recognizing that there is even a process to many aspects of life.  They get trapped in the drudgery and bogged down by the nonsense without ever seeing which levers they need to pull to make their lives move forward.  I’ve spoken about this before and I’d have to equate it to the concept of unconscious incompetence: if you don’t see a problem then obviously you won’t think one might exist.  You may be unhappy but just not know why.  Unfortunately, there are way too many people out there like this.  You probably know someone like this.  It’s someone who thinks the system is out to get them or keeps getting in their own way through self-destructive habits but wonders why they are behind all their friends.  If you can’t recognize that there is a process to the many aspects of life, you won’t be able to effectively move forward in the process.  It require reflection on yourself in a way that many people are unable or unwilling to do, because of the hard truths it may reveal.

The second problem I’ve seen is patience.  We ALL have this problem at one time or another about one thing or another.  This is the part of the process that the author of the article on Facebook mentioned above (see, I’m tying it all together!) and is a problem that many of us struggle with every day.  Many of us get impatient in our careers and want to end up in high level roles much sooner than we’re ready.  We get impatient and want to graduate college sooner.  We want to buy a house before we’re ready, an expensive car, etc.  We’re impatient and we know it.  In the article mentioned above, the individuals who took part in the Facebook IPO and then lost money selling their shares suffered from a slightly different type of impatience.  Fear of financial loss led to impatience which eventually caused them to sell their shares, incurring an actual loss.  They lost faith in the process, grew impatient, and let fear drive their decisions.  The moment you allow fear to guide you, you will make mistakes and it will cost you dearly.

No matter your career path, you can’t let fear be a driver of decisions.  If your goal is financial Independence and you begin investing, understand that you will likely lose money at some point.  Life is a process. It’s going to keep going, so trust it, be patient and don’t let fear make the decisions for you.

 

I’d like to thank Allison from Any Afternoon and my Fiancé from Petite Gourmande for helping to review this post and keeping me from going crazy.  Thanks guys!

Things to know by the time you’re 25

Communication

I found an article the other day on the Huffington Post that really resonated with me.  It was an article by Danny Rubin entitled 25 Things every young professional should know by age 25.  Considering I’m only 26, I took a look and honestly loved the list.  By this point in our lives, we’ve figured out a couple things.  Or at least, I’d like to think I’ve figured out a couple of things here and there.  The problem is, I think that some of these things might not be as evident to everyone as they should be.  Take, for example, number 24:

24. Read an apartment lease before you sign. All of it.”

By the time you’re 25, it’s my hope that you’ve moved out and rented an apartment.  But you know what?  No on reads the lease documents.  I mean, I do but only because I learned the hard way that you’ve got to.  But other people?  It isn’t as evident and most people wouldn’t think twice.  They’d see the rental amount and sign on the dotted line.  Still, I like this one.  But to me, it applies to everything.  Read the damn contract!  Buying a car?  Renting a car?  Read the contract!  Try to understand it and if you don’t, ask questions.  It may seem embarrassing but unless if you went to law school or paralegal school, chances are you don’t know what some of the stuff means.  So ask.

Then there are two that I love, numbers 20 and 2:

20. The days of a college syllabus are long gone. If you’re waiting for someone to give you direction, have a seat. You’ll be there a while.”

2. The only failure in your 20s is inaction. Everything else is trial and error.”

These two go hand in hand for me.  You spend 16 years getting educated, always getting told what to do, where to go, where to sit, line up walk here blah blah blah.  Now, you’re free.  You need to make your own life choices about the career you have, where to live, who to love even.  Taken along with number 2 and you see that this decade is where we’re supposed to screw up because we’ve got time to rally back.  And it’s the truth.  If you look at life from a personal finance standpoint, if you’re going to screw up now is the time.  You’ll still have time to fix things and make huge life changes without having to force the kids to changes schools or sell that house for a loss.  You’ve still got time.

The thing I really took away from this list is that, while the first half of this decade was tough, the second half is going to be just as difficult.  We’ll still all have to fight for recognition and accolades at our jobs, we’ll still have to work our way from minion to senior minion.  But in the long run, it’s worth it.  And we learn from it.  And that’s the big thing, isn’t it?  Never stop learning.

Cover Letters and Resumes

Well, I’ve decided to begin searching for a new job.  This is a thought I’ve had for a few months now and it’s been dragging on me heavily as I go to work.  I feel a sense of loyalty to my current job.  They took a chance on me out of college and gave me the opportunity to develop into the role I currently hold.  However, I’m on my fourth year, already a manager and my growth has kind of gone stagnant.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been spending my time networking and building contacts in other cities (Boston! New York, Chicago, Dallas, etc) and trying to find jobs that I’m actually interested in.  What I’ve learned is that it’s damn hard to get back into the market after several years off.  Although a huge part of my job is actually networking and building interest in my company and what we do, the jobs I’ve been looking at and the people I talk to tend to be outside of the leasing industry.

Granted, I knew this would come eventually.  Leasing is not really my cup of tea and although I’ve learned a great deal about corporate financing, structuring and other items that will help me as I continue my career in finance, I’m ultimately not as happy as I could be doing what I’m doing (partially leading to me starting this site).  In the end, I’d rather be working in an M&A department or at a private equity firm, sourcing and structuring deals.

At this point, I’m working on cover letters most days, trying my best to be confident in myself and my abilities and express that on paper.  While that might come easily to some people, I’ve never been terribly good at it.  So this is something a little bit new to me.  I’m hopeful that over the next few months, I’ll have some good experiences to write about here.  Experiences that I learned from and hopefully lead to me pursuing a new career path.

Hopefully this week is lighter and I will be able to write more here.  Unfortunately, I can’t say for sure that I will but, just in case, keep checking into this space.  I should have something else up soon that has more to do with personal finance!

Money doesn’t equal happiness

I feel like this should be obvious but let’s just get it out there: Money does not equal happiness.  Happiness is attained.  It’s a state of mind. Money is simply a tool that we use to help us attain happiness but even then, it’s not necessary.

I mean, I wouldn't be mad if someone handed me this bankroll, it just wouldn't solve everything going on

I mean, I wouldn’t be mad if someone handed me this bankroll, it just wouldn’t solve everything going on

You don’t need Financial Independence to be happy.  Yes, becoming financially independent will be amazing and it will be fantastic to not have to go in to a 9-5 everyday but if you’re not happy before you get there, then you probably won’t happen once you arrive at your destination.  You’ll probably be excited for a little bit but then that will wear off and you’ll be left just wondering what the hell to do.

Take a lottery winner for example.  We all know that they have a higher tendency to go bankrupt than a normal person but are they really happier?  I doubt it.  Before they had money, often, they were slogging through their day to day lives, waiting to hit that retirement boat at the end of the journey, the one they most likely hadn’t saved up for.  When they won the lottery, they attempted to use the money to buy themselves happiness.  They buy fancy cars, big houses, and go on spending sprees.  After about 5 to 8 years, all the money is gone because they didn’t know how to take care of it in the first place.  And they still aren’t happy.

My point is that, like I said above, money is simply a tool to help us in our journey for Financial Independence and, ultimately, some sense of happiness and contentment.  It’s not going to simply provide it for us.  Just as we have to work on our budgets and investments, we have to work on being happy.  We have to put ourselves in positions where we know we can be happy.  Are you happier if you’re working out?  Join a running group or a crossfit and be a part of a team.

I think the biggest thing any of us can do is to make sure that every day we do something to make us happy.  Otherwise, we’re wasting our own time!  If you’re scrimping and saving and investing wisely, all to reach financial independence, then you better be happy.  If you haven’t reached some measure of general happiness with yourself, money will not suffice as a substitute.  It will only treat the symptom and not the disease.  Take some time and think about what has been dragging you down lately.  Think long and hard and try to see if this is something you can change.  Chances are, you’ll find that it’s within your power to fix.

 

Image courtesy of 401(k) 2013

Stop Wasting Time

We all know that each of us has only a limited amount of time in each day, week, year, or lifetime.  We’ve talked before about attaining a work-life balance but now I’m thinking most of us (including me) waste too much time.  I miss deadlines for this site sometimes.  I’m not proud of it but it happens.  Sometimes it’s because I didn’t plan ahead and ran out of time and sometimes it’s because I just couldn’t think of anything.  Both come down to my own preparation and my severe procrastination.

Yikes, big ass clock

Yikes, big ass clock

Fortunately, in the office, I don’t act this way.  I get things done when I’m there because I’m able to focus and build a game plan for each day.  But we all waste time in some ways.  Let’s go over a few of the problems:

1.  Constantly checking and responding to emails:  Sure, you want to be prompt but you can’t constantly be answering emails or you’ll never get anything done.  If you continuously stop and restart your mental process on the project you’re doing just to answer an email, you’re wasting your time!  You can still be prompt without answering emails immediately.  Block out certain time where you’ll answer emails and questions.  I like to do first thing in the morning, after lunch, and right before I leave work.  This way I tend to take care of everything during the day and night.

2.  Putting out every small fire that comes your way: no one likes fire drills at work.  They take you away from whatever it was you were working on and screw with your process and your day.  Now, I’m not saying that you don’t jump up and fix the big problems.  What I am saying is don’t get dragged down by the little problems.  More often than not, they’re being blown out of proportion by someone and will put themselves out.  If you’re the boss, you can’t bother with these things.  If it’s your personal life, don’t let it bring you down!  Just keep moving and focusing on the goals you’ve set.  Everything else is going to align up over time.  It’s all a process!

3.  Cracked.com: Normally I wouldn’t include something as simple as a single website but let’s face it, Cracked is a gateway website.  You start off reading about badasses surviving in the wilderness, click a wikipedia link and come out of an internet binge four hours later on the wikipedia page for ceramics tiles made for Justinian I.  If you’re at work, block Cracked.  If you’re home, just try not to get sucked in.  Maybe reserve it for the weekends.  Just don’t let it take you.

4.  No goals, strategy, or focus:  Make a damn list!  You can’t live every day by the seat of your pants.  If you don’t have goals or a routine, you’re letting what happens in your life drive for you.  You need to take back control and focus.  Creating a list, however mundane it may seem, will help.  Crossing things off your list as you go is immensely satisfying and you’ll find you get much more work done when you plan ahead.  Professionally, it’ll look good to the bosses.  In your personal life, well, you’ll never be without toilet paper again.  Wouldn’t want this to happen to you…

If you can enact some simple changes in your life, you can save yourself so much time.  It’ll make your more efficient at your job and it’ll make your personal significantly easier.  The more time you waste, the further away you get from Financial Independence.  If you’re here, chances are that’s a goal you want to attain.  So stop wasting your time, start planning ahead and saving some time for yourself.  You’ll thank yourself for it.

 

Image courtesy of ToniVC

My Car was Impounded

Well, at least it wasn't stolen...

The past week has not been my best week.  I was in Chicago for a few days on business and wasn’t able to get away to visit any of my friends or family that live there.  All in all, I only got about six or seven hours of sleep while I was in Chicago.  Needless to say, when I got back I was brutally exhausted.  At some point, during all my traveling, I lost my lucky coin (yes, I’ve got a lucky coin.  It’s a 1924 Silver Dollar).  I try to not be a superstitious person but old habits die hard.

Saturday night, my friend was having a going away party and the girlfriend and I went.  It was at a really great little Mexican bar/restaurant in Hollywood, a place I’ve legitimately been to maybe twice since I moved to LA.  It’s also a place where every parking lot costs $10 or so.  Now, I’m not cheap but to me, the metered parking on the street was a better option.  Plus, it was after 8!  That meant it was free!  So, we drove around for ten minutes or so until we found some street parking close to the bar.  We double checked to make sure it wasn’t a red zone and went on in for a night of fun.

When we left to the bar a few hours later, we noticed that there weren’t too many cars parked in the street anymore.  Odd, but it was after midnight.  We both assumed people had just been leaving.  Then we got to the spot where my car was supposed to be.  It was gone.  So was every other car that had been parked on the street (at least 10 or 15 cars).  After talking to some of the valets that were in the area, we learned that about five minutes after we parked, the parking enforcement guys came, ticketed and towed everyone.  After 8PM, rather than becoming a free parking area the street became a no parking area.  Not quite what I’m used to but ok, I didn’t do a good job reading the signs.

Well, at least it wasn't stolen...

Well, at least it wasn’t stolen…

At this point, I’m having a bit of a freak out.  No one is picking up with the city to tell me where my car is.  Worse, I can’t even remember my plate number.  I give up and we take a cab back to our apartment ($60 cab ride, yuck) and I call it a night.  At 1:30 in the morning, there is only so much one can do.

The next day, I found out where my car was and what the approximate cost was (well, my friend did all the legwork).  If you’ve never had your car towed, let me tell you, there are a LOT of fees.  They charge you for the tow, a mileage charge, a storage fee, an insurance fee, etc etc.  All these fees don’t even include the fine that I have to pay the city.  The girlfriend drove me over, I checked my car out (no damage luckily) and got it home as soon as I could.

All in all, the fees for the car added up to $272.  The fine for the city was $73 and the cab ride was $60.  $405 in total, all because I refused to pay $10 to park in a parking lot.  This was definitely a time when my frugal and cheap side got the better of me and ultimately cost me money.  I feel like this sort of thing will be rare in the long run but damn, this was just the worst!  I’ll always double check the parking signage going forward a bit closer.  No way I’m ever letting this happen.  Now I just hope this $405 hit doesn’t kill my budget this month.  The last thing I need is another month of my cash dropping!!

 

Image courtesy of: Travis S.

Don’t let your job kill you

Too many computers - Courtesy of windsordi

Chances are, if you’re reading this and live in the United States, you’re working too much.  Even more so, you probably aren’t happy with your job.  Yet, you still work long hours.  You might even call yourself a workaholic.

Stop.

We all know that in order to get ahead in life, you need to work hard.  The problem is that we work TOO hard.  As a society, the United States works more hours per year than any other country on the planet.  And we’re number four in GDP per hour.  But when you break it down to a per capita per hour basis, we just don’t get that much out of each person per hour.  The reason we’re so high on the charts for productivity relates directly to how many hours we work.

Now, working hard isn’t the worst thing in the world.  We love the athlete that works hard and eventually becomes a starter, an all star, all pro simply through hard work.  It’s a huge part of the American dream.  But, alas, we’re not athletes.  Many of us are office workers who sit for eight to ten hours out of the day.  Worse, we’re stressed.  We have deadlines to meet, sales to close and customers to appease.  All that stress, all that sitting around, that’s what’s killing us.

You see, it’s not really the work itself that does us in.  It’s how we manage it and make it work for us.  It’s pretty well known that stress can influence the onset of coronary heart disease.  It’s also well known that sitting around all day makes you fat.  But stress and burnout as a cause of disease and sickness is even worse than you think.  A study in Psychosomatic Medicine showed that burnout and stress increased the likelihood of getting coronary heart disease by more than 40%.  Even worse, if you were in the top 20%, aka the person that just can’t get out of bed in the morning to get to work, struggles throughout the day and needs a break after being there for only 20 minutes, well, you have a 79% increase in the likelihood of coronary heart disease.

Yikes.  A 79% increase is no joke.  It’s horrible.  This is literally something that could kill you.  So how do we deal with this?  What sort of preventative measures can be taken?

First off, stop letting people get to you.  Yes it’s your job and you might not yet have eff you money but still, don’t let it get to you.  When you leave the office, leave work there!  Don’t bring it home if it’s bumming you out.  I know that’s tough for a lot of people but it’s the truth.  You absolutely need to do it.

Secondly, you need to work out and eat better.  Let’s face it, just trying to roll with the punches and not let things get to you can only get so far.  You need to actually take care of your body if you want to enjoy your early retirement some day.  Just going on walks every day can help.  Eating more fruits and vegetables and less processed cheese could also help.  I know it’s delicious but it’s just not worth it.

If you’re so stressed that you read this post and the article above and just nodded the entire time, well, you need a vacation and a serious life change.  I know that normally this sit is about personal finance but this is an important topic to me as well.  Making and keeping money is only worth it if you’re healthy enough to enjoy it.  If you’re burned out by your job, maybe you need a new job or a new industry to work in.  Maybe you just need more rest.  Ultimately, you need to do what’s right for you and take better care of yourself.  So relax, don’t let the little things get to you, and go for a run!  Your brain  could use it.

 

Image courtesy of windsordi