Oct 172018
 

Last week I lost nearly $20,000 in net worth. 🙁 Parts of the stock market slipped into correction territory. My Amazon shares lost up to 6.2% on a single day, the worst performance since 2016. The market has recovered a bit this week, but I am still in the red for the month. The recent volatility is a stoic reminder that the market can be fickle, and doesn’t care about how much we pray or like it on Facebook.

Stocks and bond funds move up and down without our control. But the one investment that can not be taken away from us is personal development.  When it comes to building wealth, human capital is more valuable than money in the long run. 🙂

Developing useful knowledge and skills is the best way to maintain a prosperous life. Ideally you want to become so valuable that the company can’t afford to give you the pink slip. 🙂 But even the most stable careers are susceptible to a labor shake-up or restructuring. I was employed by the same company for about 10 years. My position certainly felt safe, until I was suddenly let go earlier this year without any warning.  :/

If anyone is nervous about potentially being laid off, below are 8 suggestions to help you prepare for the unexpected.

  • Keep your LinkedIn profile and resume up to date. Recruiters often use online tools to help them look for potential new hires. 🙂
  • Save up your vacation time and treat it like an insurance policy. Any unused vacation days must be paid out if a worker is laid off in my city. I always try to keep at least 10 working days of vacation stored up. This amounts to 2 weeks worth of extra termination pay. That’s a pretty good parting gift. Yay!
  • Build up some cash liquidity or savings to give yourself time to look for other opportunities. Many experts believe saving enough to withstand 6 months of living expenses is enough. I personally prefer longer. According to my stress test calculations (under the employment risk category) I currently have 36 months.
  • Collect work achievements. I have been periodically saving projects throughout my career to demonstrate my thought process and problem solving skills. I keep these files at home with permission so I can update my resume and show off my skills to future employers.
  • Don’t burn bridges. Be nice to everyone because you never know who can help you get your next job. One coworkers who was laid off the same day I was received a call from the same company a few days later. Apparently they wanted to hire him back. He even got to keep his termination package lol. 🙂 #bonusmoney
  • Practice solving problems. Our productivity is correlated with how many problems we can solve. If we are good at finding solutions to big problems then more people will want to employ us for our skills.
  • Explore new careers options. I worked at an Amazon warehouse making about $14.50 per hour, which is less than half of what I was making at my old job. The experience made me appreciate my old desk job a lot more. I also developed more respect for physical laborers.
  • Create a side income. My part time job kept food on the table while I was looking for another full time job. Other side hustle ideas include giving music lessons, selling t-shirts online, or building up a dividend stock portfolio.

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May 302016
 

Always have a Plan B, because you never know when the condom might break. Of course having a backup plan for one’s career or business is also a good idea. I recently read an article by James Altucher on the importance of having a plan B. There’s nothing wrong with having a single job or a main goal to focus on. But most people these days will not be working for the same company for 40 years and then retire into a comfortable pension program. So what we need to do is to figure out a plan B, just in case our initial career choice doesn’t work out the way we want it to.

Maybe we think our job is secure because the boss likes us. 🙂 But maybe he only likes us as long as we’re providing him with a great value or service. But if our work performance suffers in the future due to some unforeseen reason then we could be in trouble. The company needs to have a plan B in case we decide to quit or retire early. 🙂 That’s why we need to have a plan B as well, in case they no longer require our services. Just last week it was reported that Foxconn, the manufacturer of the iPhone has replaced 60,000 of its workers with robots. As technology becomes faster and smarter, more companies will look into automating their services. A former executive from McDonald’s mentioned “it’s cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who is inefficient, making $15/hr bagging French fries.”

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If the fate of our plan A lies in the hands of just one company’s decision then it is only a matter of time before our plan fails. This is because companies have to change and improve in order to stay competitive and profitable, and some of those changes are not up to us. So if we have a plan B, at least we can have something else to fall back on in case our career doesn’t work out.

Resorting to plan B doesn’t mean we have failed. On the contrary, having multiple plans will only make us stronger, more experienced, and better prepared to deal with changing life circumstances. But we don’t have to stop at just plan B. We can make a plan C, D, E, and so on. If our plan A doesn’t work, at least we have 25 other letters of the alphabet to work with. 😀 In fact, financially savvy individuals have put in place multiple plans all running at the same time.

“The average multi-millionaire has at least 7 different sources of income. You can’t have 7 full time jobs. A “source of income” takes up much less time than a boss paying you to sit in a chair. So, do the opposite of focus. Try to help people in many different ways. Then many different types of payment will come your way.” ~ James A.

I think that’s true. One way to create a backup plan is to discover ways you can help someone else. If you are able to provide even $1 worth of value to others, and offer that to a million people, then you will make 1 million dollars! 😀 I only have 5 income sources right now so if I lose my 9 to 5 job I can at least rely on 4 other means of income to sustain my lifestyle. One day I will build up my income streams so that I will have 7 different sources of income, just like the average multi-millionaire. 🙂

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Random Useless Fact:

16-05-women-eating-watermelon-is-a-vegetable

 

May 162016
 

The Enemy of Success is Delusion

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Author and public speaker Steve Siebold has helped many people with their careers. His clients include Fortune 500 companies and his books are considered by many to be the gold standard in the field of psychological performance training. One important distinction that Steve notices between the middle class and the wealthy is in how they think.

“The average person believes they are far more competent at what they do for a living than they actually are. Many people believe they are overworked and underpaid, but this is rarely true. In a free market economy we are normally getting paid very close to what we’re worth.” ~Steve

I happen to agree. An employer probably wont pay someone $30/hour if the labor is only worth $20/hour. Workers are replaceable. If a company consistently overpays its employees then it won’t stay in business for very long, assuming all other market conditions being equal. The employee can make the same choice. If a pharmacist is being paid $20/hour but believes he is worth $30/hour then he is free to offer his professional services to another company. Since the labor market is based on supply and demand, it’s important to consider both sides when thinking about compensation.

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Sep 222014
 

Have you ever wondered which university degrees provide the best opportunities for financial success? Well a study by the wealth consultancy WealthInsight may have the answer. A ranking was produced by gathering together the academic histories of millionaires around the world. The top field of study is Engineering.

  • 1. Engineering
  • 2. MBA
  • 3. Economics
  • 4. Law
  • 5. (Bachelor’s) Business Administration (BBA)
  • 6. Commerce
  • 7. Accounting
  • 8. Computer Science
  • 9. Finance
  • 10. Politics

Note: This list contains both graduate and undergraduate degrees.

I happen to work with some engineers and I can say most of them are in fact doing quite well financially. Petroleum engineers can easily make six-figures a year straight out of university if they’re willing to work in the oil fields. Software, materials, and industrial engineers, all make above average incomes too.

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The personal finance blogging community also shows categorical evidence that engineers are indeed a financially savvy bunch 😉 Tim from Canadian Dream is in his 30s and reveals he makes six-figures a year working as an engineer for a crown corporation. 34 year old Frugal Trader from Million Dollar Journey recently reached a household net worth of a million dollars. Both him and his wife are full time engineers. And Phil, one of the most knowledgeable commentators who read my blog, met his wife in their engineering class at university. He retired in his 40s after reaching millionaire status and is now doing lots of volunteering work.

Of course at the end of the day it takes more than just a degree to become a millionaire. Having certain soft skills and personality traits are important as well. This means we should be efficient, personable, seize opportunities when they arise, and know when to take risks (both professionally and financially.) The point of a degree, above anything else, is about showing an ability and willingness to learn.

Here are what random denizens of the internet had to say about the wealth study.

“Most millionaires I know drive around in old Ford trucks and have jeans with holes in them; not sitting in a park wearing a tux with a top hat.”

“The only real way to become truly wealthy is to engage in something with substantial risk, though often you can substitute some of that risk by exploiting people. And even so, your chances are pretty good that you will lose your pants instead.”

“One of my best friends growing up got kicked out of high school during his junior year. He worked as a plumber’s helper and now owns three plumbing companies and retired eight years ago at age 45.”

Although there are many ways to become a millionaire and retire early, earning a degree in engineering, MBA, or economics seems to be a popular way to do it! However I have tried to go down that path and failed miserably, so it’s not the right strategy for everyone.

 

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Random Useless Fact:

Dilemma is a difficult choice between just 2 options. Trilemma, quadrilemma, and so forth exist for more options.

May 242012
 

A recent study about youths was released by the government, and it states that last year 13% of all Canadians between the ages of 15 and 29 weren’t attending school or working. That represents more than 900,000 people. Seems like a big number, but it’s still the lowest percentage of all G7 nations.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with not going to school or work, and just spending some time enjoying life and learning about oneself. When I was 19 years old I spent several months not working or studying. I had all the time to think about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. The choices I made thereafter have been some of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It’s nice to relax and live with family for awhile before deciding which direction to go in life, as long as you don’t get accustomed to being lazy indefinitely.

 

image credit: imgfave.com

The study also says men aged 15 to 24 had the hardest time finding work compared to women in the same age group. Also single young adults like myself are more likely to be unemployed than married young adults. Given these statistics I would say I am very lucky to have been consistently employed since 2008. If you are between 15 and 29 and are looking for work, don’t give up. I had 5 different interviews before I landed my first job so it’s somewhat of a numbers game. Going into an industry in demand like nursing, engineering, IT, or maybe even a trade, will also help you out.

Our unemployment rate for youths aged 15 to 29 not in school is 11.8%. The study says that among young adults who are not working, 1 out of 5 said they wanted a job, despite the fact that they weren’t looking for one, (~o~). C’mon guys, we can’t expect a job to just fall into our laps in today’s labor market. I’m pretty comfortable overall with the results of this study. It means to me that if someone really wants to work, they will find a job eventually. At least we don’t have it as bad as the Europeans where the youth unemployment rate in Italy is around 30%, and in Spain it’s over 50% (゜o゜)

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G7 – An international finance group consisting of 7 industrialzed nations: France, US, UK, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada.