4 Ways to Keep a Pay Raise from Stealing Your Joy

Salary increases are very important to self-esteem and motivation.  However, joy is much more important.  Often times, salary increases can steal your joy—making you wish you had your old salary back.  As a by-product of this bittersweet phenomenon myself, I have several tips that you and the folks you share this article with can use to maintain joy or increase joy throughout your careers.  (Please follow the chart below as a reference guide)

Job Happiness

(1) Seek Promotions or Lateral Moves Within Current Company

This tends to be easier at larger firms; however, smaller firms may give this opportunity as well.  In an ideal world, I would have done this at the first company that I worked for after college.  The company provided a large network for career paths at the location I was stationed as well as at other locations in the region.  In fact, this type of mobility and versatility was encouraged by management (to a point).  As stated in the title of this section, sometimes you do not necessarily need a pay increase or promotion to increase your joy, you just want a change of scenery. Staying with the same company makes that possibility quite easy—as long as you like the company you are with, of course.

(2) Keep Current Job and Develop a “Side Hustle”

What if you have very predictable working hours and lots of leisure time, but the pay is awful?  That’s how I felt within Firm B in 2012.  Nothing got on my nerves more than knowing that the peers I graduated with were making more money that I was.  However, instead of being smart, my pride got the best of me—I wanted employment elsewhere.  With the amount of leisure time that I had though, getting a new job should have been the last thing I wanted to do.  I should have sought a side hustle.  A side hustle is a miniature version of the DREAM CAREER that you want in the future.  If you work 40 hours per week or less, I highly recommend this option for increasing or maintaining joy.  Use your spare time to make your dreams come true—maximizing your joy and your checking account.

(3) Reduce Personal Debt and Give Yourself a Raise

Simply put, if you eliminate your debts (student loans, car loans, credit cards, etc), you will effectively have more recreational money and investment money—you have given yourself a raise!  Not only does this mean that you have more money to have fun with, but you also have more money to invest in yourself and your family (please revisit Step 2).  Reducing your debts is completely within your control as well.  So unlike landing a promotion or snagging a raise, you do not have to depend on luck—you can depend on faith and will-power! What’s not joyous about that?!

(4) Thoroughly Vet Opportunities for Advancement before Jumping Ship

The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.  You heard me earlier mention how I had almost laughably easy working hours.  I haven’t had that type of work/life balance in years.  And the stress is definitely wearing me down.  However, this could have all been avoided if I vetted the companies that I wanted to work for as thoroughly as possible.  Sometimes this isn’t easy, but it can be done.  Ask people who currently work at the firm that you wish to apply for.  If you end up getting an interview, ask to speak to an individual who has a similar job to the one you are applying for.  And lastly, if you get some unescorted time, look for the people who have the worst jobs within sight—they might be the most honest with you! If you get “bad vibes” after doing a proper vetting, then stay put and wait for another opportunity to arise—a pay increase isn’t worth sacrificing your joy for!

#CareerJoy What are some other ways to maintain joy while also increasing your income?

How My New Car Cost Me $1,000,000

“I Will Always Have a Car Loan”

The next time that you hear someone say this phrase, please sprinkle holy Evian on them immediately and then refer them to this blog. That phrase is not only false, but it will cost us MILLIONS of dollars over our lifetimes.  Millions? Yes, millions! Let’s break things down so we can get a clearer picture of what I mean.

The average brand new car in March 2014 was $32,086 with an average monthly car loan payment of $710 with the assumption of a 48 month loan term at 3% interest.   For the record, this example has already made our total loan repayment $34,068 before we really get too deep. Yes, we just lost $2000 before we even left the car dealership lot. But let’s move on to bigger fish.

Typically, cars lose 20% in depreciation in the first year, 15% in the second and third year, and then 10% in the fourth year. So in this example, this would mean that the car is worth $16,691.

The average age of cars on the road in the United States today is a little over 11 years old. Most automobiles are pretty dependable nowadays because of the advances in quality and technology—so 11 years is not a stretch at all. So given that information, we could have owned the same car for over 50% less money if we had just waited a few years and bought with cash. But, I’m still not done.

Let’s assume we repeat this “gotta have a new car” buying habit for 40 years. For simple math purposes, let’s assume each new car costs exactly as much as the first car did.

So after 40 years, we have bought 10 cars and lost:

(a) a whopping $20,000 to car loan interest

(b) a monstrous $173,950 to depreciation

But it gets worse, you also lost:

(c) a life-changing $2.36 million dollars!

2MILLION DOLLARS

(Assumes we invested $404 per month in lost depreciation and car loan interest every month into a good mutual fund at 10% rate of return for 40 years)

CAN YOU AFFORD TO LOSE THIS MUCH MONEY?

For giggles, let’s assume we learned our lesson on the first car, but we still bought the first car anyway. In that scenario, let’s deposit $404 per month for just four years and then wait 40 years. After 40 years, you still lost the opportunity to:

(d) a still life-changing $760,000 dollars!

700K

CAN YOU AFFORD TO LOSE THIS MUCH MONEY?

Top 5 Faux Financial Emergencies

With Back-to-School season quickly on the horizon, shoppers all over America will soon reach maximum panic mode.  As hard as it is to believe, the vast majority of parents forget that their children start school every year in August (or September).  Obviously, I’m being exaggeratory.  However, many parents swear school shopping is an emergency and that they must use their “only for emergencies” credit card to get them through this unexpected situation.  Because I generally hate shenanigans, it is time for another great list—Top 5 Faux Financial Emergencies:

(1) School Shopping | While we are on the subject of school shopping, let’s park here a bit.  If something happens at the exact same time every single year, then it is not an emergency.  Emergencies by definition are unexpected, catastrophic, and costly.  College-ruled paper obviously does not fit this definition.

(2) Christmas Shopping & Other Gift Shopping | Christmas shopping and birthday shopping are in the same category as school shopping. These occasions happen at the exact same time every year but catch people by surprise way too often.  Even gifts for weddings and baby showers aren’t unexpected—unless you weren’t invited :-/

(3) Automobile Maintenance & Repairs | Not only are oil changes not surprises but there is usually a reminder sticker in your windshield telling you to change your oil after a given mileage or given date.  Other automobile repairs are a bit trickier but not exactly rocket science.  Tires eventually wear out.  So budget a little bit for a new tires every month until you need new tires.  Please use this same strategy for car batteries, brake pads, etc.  If your transmission goes out, then yes, that is an emergency.  Act appropriately.

(4) Brand New Minivan & Other Bad Car Choices | College students (usually with student loan debt) graduate from school and suddenly “need” a new car.  New parents (with student loan debt and maybe new debt now) suddenly “need” a new minivan because their paid-for sedan is too small and uncomfortable for their 8 pound baby.  Automobile purchases are a lot cheaper if you save up ahead of time and buy smart.  I know this.  You know this.  Yet, financing always seems to happen.

(5) Home Renovations | This tends to get the baby boomers more so than millennials, but it affects everyone.  You have a reached some sense of unhappiness and all of a sudden, your kitchen or bathroom just isn’t good enough anymore.  All of a sudden, getting a $50,000 home equity line of credit (HELOC) seems like the smartest thing ever.  It isn’t.

Can you name any faux emergencies that I didn’t mention?

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Never Leave Kids an Inheritance

Please let me clarify before you start calling me a cold-hearted jerk.  As long as children are still dependents, then I believe parents should do everything in their power to perpetually provide for their spouse and children from the grave—hefty term life insurance and thoughtful savings invested into a good mutual fund (an endowment per se).  Whether the children are 2 years old or 17 years old, that is my firm stance.

However! The average age of death is roughly 75 years old, and parents are typically 20-30 years older than their descendants.  So in this example, the “children” are between 45 to 55 years old.  Suffice it to say, it is fairly disingenuous to call someone who might have grandchildren a “child.”  For that very reason, I wouldn’t give my children anything if I make it into my twilight years.

Yep, I would leave my “children” absolutely nothing.  Zip.  Zilch.  Natta.  Zero.

But what are a few reasons why I would do this?

(1) Proverbs 22:6 | “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  As a result, I do not worry about my future adult children.  I trust them to do well (better than well) because that is what Baxters do—pray hard, love hard, and work hard.  Because of early guidance and early monetary investment, our children will be far more successful than we could have ever imagined them to be.

(2) Actual Children | The amount of actual young children, orphans especially, who could benefit from the death of an old geezer is almost endless.

(3) Other Elderly People | There are so many widows, widowers, and otherwise disabled elderly who could really use a leg-up from a person who knows (or knew) exactly how they feel.

(4) Worthwhile Charities | Do you know who usually leaves big gobs of money for shelters that take care of battered women? Usually old dead people.  What about animal shelters? Again, old dead people. How about full ride academic scholarships? Once again, old dead people.  With all that good going around, why wouldn’t I want to be an awesome dead person too?

What about you? In an ideal world, would you give all your money to your kids?

Retirement

PS: All of this assumes that I do not have a successful business that my children could potentially become owners of one day. In that case, a succession plan is necessary so that that transition is a smooth one and not a train wreck.  However, since successful businesses are statistically improbable, I am assuming I just have a regular job that I have retired from.

Do You Follow Teams, Players, or Storylines?

Being from the state of Alabama, I have grown up my whole life not really having a dog in the fight.  We do not have any major professional sports teams in our state.  Sure, there are fans of professional sports teams that live in Alabama, but their passion doesn’t match the passion that is exuded over college sports—particularly college football.  Literally, during bowl season, the Alabama television markets are by far the biggest watchers of even the most obscure bowl game.  However, this is an article about professional sports, so let’s get to the point so that we can begin discussion.

There are supposedly three (3) major sports leagues in the United States; though I’d argue that there are only two (2)—the NFL and the NBA.  Given that, people follow those sports for a variety of reasons.  Below of the three main reasons:

(1) Team | If you live in metros like Boston, San Antonio, or Denver, then you follow your particular teams because you live there and are immersed in the frenzy all year long.  Also, transplants of those types of metros tend to follow their favorite teams even while in another state or country.  Then of course, you have the random fans who follow teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers even though they aren’t even sure what state Pittsburgh is actually in (it is Pennsylvania, for the record).

(2) Player | Blame it on unrestricted free agency, fiery fantasy sports, or wholesome hometown pride, but individual players or sets of players are followed now more than ever.  Our favorite players connect directly to us through Facebook and Twitter—connectivity that fans from the 1980s and 90s could only imagine.  Heck, some of these athletes even have their own mobile apps!

This individual player fandom is probably most prevalent in the NBA, but it can exist in other sports too.

(3) Storylines | Do remember last year’s NFL season?  There were people who have hated Peyton Manning since his freshman year at the University of Tennessee who all of a sudden were pulling for Peyton Manning.  Why?  He had a great storyline.  He was trying to achieve the impossible—come back from a near career-ending neck surgery and win a Super Bowl in perhaps his final year in the league. All eyes were on the Denver Broncos.  So many eyes that even casual fans were paying attention.  Be careful though: fandom of this genre tends to have the briefest shelf life—once the amazing story is over, the fans disappear.

So what type of fan are you? Why? #teamfan #playerfan #storylinefan

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Top 3 Success Tips for the Unemployed

Unemployment—we have all been there for one reason or another.  Some of us complete high school or college only to realize we cannot get a job as fast as we had hoped.   Others of us have had solid jobs but are now in between jobs due to layoffs, injuries, etc.  The reasons are endless but the feeling we all share when unemployed is the same—anxiety!

I personally felt this anxiety during the 1st quarter of 2012. During December of the preceding year, I had willingly resigned from a major nuclear facility to relocate to be with my brand new wife.  The only problem with that is that the new city’s major industry was automotive—an industry that I knew very little about and had very few connections in.

While I applied for numerous jobs every day, visited every career fair in the area, and possibly overcompensated on domestic cooking and cleaning duties, I still made one mistake that I sorely regret—I left “easy money” on the table!  Here are my tips on how not to let much-needed “easy money” slip through your fingers while unemployed.

(1)  Don’t Be So Picky – Having worked for a Fortune 200 company as a student and as an engineer, I was very snobby about small insignificant issues with new jobs.  For instance, if it was a short-term contract job, I didn’t want to do it.  If it was a “teacher’s salary” permanent job, I didn’t want to do it.  Luckily, I grew out of this habit once debts and bills started being due.  And guess what? Once I started being humble and less of a brat, better job opportunities opened up that were previously unavailable.

(2)  Be Entrepreneurial – Although it may take a few lucky bounces to land a permanent job with benefits, you do not need luck if you start your own small business.  You may not know this but many people in your town need their kids watched, their dogs walked, their leaves racked, and their houses cleaned.  If you visit websites like CARE.com, you will see tons of opportunities to make the equivalent of $20-$30 per hour!

The best thing about those jobs is that they do not take up all of your day or all of your week.  This will still give you plenty of time to apply for full-time jobs and to interview for full-time jobs.

(3)  Knock on Doors – Fun fact. You cannot find jobs online.  Well, at least not at the same rate as you would if employers have a personal connection with a living, breathing person.  Online job hunting only has a 1-2% success rate. I don’t know about you, but that’s a horrible success rate.  So my advice now and forever is to visit employers in person, ask for tours, and attend career fairs.  Those are sure fire ways to get your name out there, especially if you do not know anyone at the very beginning of your job search process.

Also, do not be afraid to get a head hunter or a recruiter—they are monetarily incentivized to look for great opportunities for you.  The more money you make, the more money they make too.  So take advantage of this relationship.  Recruiters know way more employers than you will ever know.

Can you think of other tips? Do you disagree with these tips? #unemploymenthustle

Hustle

Which In-Laws Should You Live Closest To?

This was a big hump to get over when my wife and I were engaged and getting married.  And I’m sure this discussion has caused a lot of heartburn for other couples as well—new relationships or old reliables.  Although you are not extrinsically valuing one set of in-laws over the other (or one spouse’s career over the other), intrinsically it tends to feel that way during the heat of battle… I mean… discussion.  But maybe this decision can get easier!

A few years ago, National Institutes of Health performed a 26-year longitudinal study that showed when a husband reported having a close relationship with his wife’s parents, the couple’s risk of divorce decreased by 20%.  Conversely, when a wife reported having a close relationship with her husband’s parents, the couple’s risk of divorce increased by 20%.

I’m not a marriage expert by any means, but if I wanted to statistically safeguard a friend’s marriage, I would automatically tell him to submit and figure out a way to live near his wife’s parents.  There is a lot of benefit from a husband modeling what humbleness and submission looks like.

This will not solve all your marriage problems (you’ll have plenty).  But maybe it will help a little.

Do you agree? Should you live near your wife’s parents as a rule of thumb?

In-Laws

Unhappy People Shouldn’t Buy Houses

As you may know, I’m a big proponent of mobility—especially when we are young and ESPECIALLY if we are unhappy or unsatisfied with where we currently are.  So if you hate the current city that you live in or if you despise the current job that you have, then please DO NOT buy a house!  And do not over-leverage yourself (e.g. getting in too much debt)!

Nothing is more gut-wrenching than being stuck in a house that we really didn’t want… in a city that we really don’t like… in a job that we really want to quit!

If you are unhappy, please keep your options open—you never know what lies around the corner!

For instance, many companies do not offer relocation packages.  So even if you are perfect for a new job, if you’re upside down in a house 300 miles away from the dream job, then you’re pretty much STUCK where you are!

Likewise, if you’re deep in debt, you’re also STUCK.  How many times have you admired a great city, but your expectant income in that city is much lower than what you’re used to in the current city that you hate? Sallie Mae and Master Card are keeping you from living in your dream city, and that is shame!

What are some ways that you have kept your OPTIONS OPEN? #becomingyourtrueself

Mover Rates 2013

8 Dangerous Acts People Do Despite Knowing Better

In wake of the Georgia Toddler Carseat trial, there have been millions of people coming out of the woodwork as perfect human beings similar to Jesus Christ, Chuck Norris, and USA Goalkeeper Tim Howard.  But as someone who recognizes his own fallibility, I wanted to help bring reality back into the forefront.  So without further ado, here is the 8 Dangerous Acts People Do Despite Knowing Better.

1. Not Buckling Themselves or Their Children – Sure I could easily start a debate on the misguided love of rushing to put a baby into a forward-facing carseat, but I wanted to focus on something even more mind-blowingly crazy.

  • According to the CDC, 33% of children who died in a crash in 2011 were NOT BUCKLED UP at all! But I cannot blame the children…
  • Restraint use among young children often depends upon the driver’s seat belt use. Almost 40% of children riding with unbelted drivers were themselves unrestrained.

2. Driving While InTEXTicated – Did you know that texting while driving makes crashes 23 times more likely than if you were driving undistracted? But did you also know this?

  • 77% of young adults are very or somewhat confident that they can safely text while driving.  And 55% say that it is easy to text while driving.  But they come by it honest…
  • 48% of CHILDREN have been in a car while the ADULT DRIVER WAS TEXTING.

3. Self-Inflicted Workplace Accidents – Research shows that over 99% of all accidents are preventable.  Most accidents are because of hubris, impatience, and negligence.  I could not sum it better than this quote from Brad Miles:

  • “We don’t work in a dangerous environment. We work in a hazardous environment that we make dangerous by not following safe work procedures and wearing our PPE.”

4. Pre-marital Sex,  STIs, and Pregnancy – It is no secret that pre-marital sex is the overwhelming cause for sharing harmful Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) such as gonorrhea, herpes, and HIV.  It is also the leading cause of out-of-wedlock pregnancies (“virgin births” is the other cause).

  • According to the CDC, there are 20 MILLION new cases of STIs in the United States each year, costing the American healthcare system nearly $16 BILLION in unnecessary preventable direct medical costs.  But we cannot blame this on current young adults, they come by it honest…
  • Among women born between 1950 and 1978, at least 91% had had premarital sex by age 30.  Currently, 95% of men and women have had pre-marital sex by age 30.  This isn’t surprising as the median age of first marriage has risen to approximately 30 years old.
  • CDC data indicates that 40.7% of all 2012 births were out-of-wedlock.  This prevalency is much higher in people groups that are struggling economically, educationally, and criminally.  Common knowledge also says these unwanted pregnancies lead to abo…

5. Illegal Drug Use  – Almost 10% of individuals 12 years old or older are using illegal drugs (CDC 2012).  This is done despite the high health risks and despite the lowered chances of receiving/maintaining employment.

6. Consumer Debt “Playing with Fire” – The majority of Americans are weighed down by consumer debt (i.e. student loans, credit cards, car loans, etc).  Yet laughably, people will walk right into a lion’s den and believe they can outsmart the world-class businesses  and lending institutions trained to prey on consumers.  For example, you WILL spend more if you use credit cards.  Businesses know this.  As a result, even by paying the debt bills on time, you ARE NOT beating the system!  The system is beating you!

7.  Ignoring Infant Sleep Safety – Despite the existence of compelling research and statistics about the importance of safe sleep in reducing our nation’s high rate of infant mortality, the number of babies who die in adult beds and other unsafe sleep environments is on the rise.

  • There are 4500 sudden, unexpected infant deaths each year.  Statistics show that as many as 80-90% are the result of unsafe sleep practices. These are preventable deaths.
  • For example, bumpers pads and pillows should not be used in cribs. There is no evidence that these extra items prevent injuries, and there is a potential risk of suffocation, strangulation or entrapment.

8.  Dropping Out of High School – Dropping out of high school is a choice.  A choice that anyone with half a brain knows is negative and dangerous.  Want proof? In the United States, high school dropouts commit about 75% of crimes.  Using deductive reasoning, you can probably guess that this means that the majority of men and women actually in prison are high school dropouts too.  But these aren’t the only bad things…

  • A high school dropout will earn $200,000 less than a high school graduate over his lifetime.
  • The death rate for those with fewer than 12 years of education is 2.5 times higher than the rate of those with 13 or more years of education.

What do you think? Can you name other boneheaded acts that could be added to this list?

Safety

Ditch Your Honeymoon?

Recently, College Humor made an hilarious video about the mythical tradition of engagement rings (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5kWu1ifBGU).  Similarly, since this is the height wedding season, I wanted to focus on the necessity of honeymoons.

As the median student loan balance for a recent graduate approaches $30,000, it really does make you wonder if newly married couples can even afford to go on an expensive honeymoon.  Although weddings are very expensive as well, parents on average still do take on a vast load of that monetary workload; however, the honeymoon is usually left up to the couple (usually the groom).

Given the large student loan debt (or other accrued debts like car loans), should couples still go on expensive honeymoons right after they get married?  Or should there be a grace period for the honeymoon?

And if you are married, what did you do in this situation?

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