Monthly Archives: June 2012
Whew, sorry guys, I realized I have to refrain from talking about my idea until it’s really developed. I have a tendency to jump the gun but I WILL do this one, so I need to focus on on action not daydreaming. I’ll give you guys an update in the coming two weeks!
Paying the Smallest Debt First
Last year, I decided to focus on paying my smallest debt first, which at that point was a 0% interest $2,100 Carecredit loan for my Lasik surgery. It seemed dumb, but I knew that I was having a hard time making any impact on my debt with five separate debts to pay each month, in addition to all the other normal expenses. So I redirected my efforts and got that debt paid in full on December 31, 2011.
My next goal was to pay my next smallest debt, which was my Discover card with a 15.99% APR. Technically, this is not my next smallest debt. My next smallest debt is my car, and it was in December as well, but at 4.9% APR and 4 years of paying it, I have paid the majority of the interest on the loan and am paying nearly all principal on that balance, which is now around $2,800. Even though it would be sweet not to have a $270 car payment, it will be over by next June anyways, which is my target goal of paying off all my debt (or at least credit card debt). The real killer has been my two credit cards, where I am paying over $200-250 per month in interest. My other credit card (with the high balance of over $18K) has an APR of 9.24%. So even though I am paying more interest on that card and I have not lowered the balance since starting this blog (in fact, the balance went up), I need to pay off the Discover first since it has the higher rate.
Here’s where I am on that credit card:
Starting Balance, 12/31/2011: $5,787
Debt Paid Off: $2,617
Current Balance: $3,170
Getting closer! I need to knock on wood. I feel very lucky that I’ve been able to pay off debt, but I also know that I have been working really hard to make this happen. But it’s always a combination of the two. So I just wanted to say I am grateful. I am grateful to have steady work and a boyfriend that’s my biggest supporter (even of my crazy ideas) and a family that I can go visit a couple hours south. I am also grateful to have friends around, and friends online (that’s you crazy people!) and the chance to meet new people. I am going to keep paying this debt, goddammit. Because for the first time in my life, I no longer feel frantic when I think about money. Money might be tight, but it’s no longer an insurmountable obstacle.
Reader Poll: Should I be paying my Discover card first at 15.99% and $3,170 balance, or my car loan at 4.9% and $2,800 balance? My argument for the car first would be that it would free up $270/month!
(Day 4: Oh my goodness. This is tough. I was dying to watch television yesterday after a long workday. But I didn’t and today is much easier. I think not watching TV, more than any other bad habit, will help me to be more aware and responsible for my daily actions. The next challenge will be a weekend of no television.)
(I know I’m not watching TV right now, but you can enjoy this Warren Buffet cameo for me!)
More than any other CEO, Warren Buffet’s shareholder letters are his signature: uniquely personal, incredibly insightful peeks into his world. He reflects on the company’s successes and failures of the past year, provides explanations to how he and Charlie Munger value companies and understand that particular business, its industry and expectations of growth, and often provides anecdotes and personal detail not found anywhere else. That sounds like a personal blog of a very successful business owner and investor! Some people have even made books just by compiling these shareholder letters, but why pay for something when you can get it for free?
( Day 3: The adventure continues. I am noticing just HOW MUCH I think about television. In the course of 3 hours today, I referenced when Larry David put a woman in his cell phone under “Wendy Wheelchair”, the MadTV Desert Classic, and the Jim and Pam wedding on The Office and that Chris Brown song that plays during it. I think I am ready for television to be less ingrained in my head.)
I’ve realized that I don’t need a traditional, professional office job to be happy. I’m not quitting my job. I still love what I do. But I also realized that I don’t need to have a job that requires me to be in an office or wear business attire to feel like I have a career. I don’t need a desk or an office or my own stapler, hole-puncher, stapler remover and a holder for all my pens to feel like I have a “real job”.
The reason why I love what I do so much is because construction is not about sitting behind a desk all day long. Sure, you have to sit at the desk sometimes, you have to keep your head down and power through lots of technical stuff, but you also have to go out to the project sites. You need to meet with all kinds of different people. You need to negotiate. You need to stay on top of 1,000 different items. You need to go to lunches, conferences, events, pre-bids, pre-con’s, board meetings, community meetings and so much more. But even more than that, I would be totally cool with a job that had ZERO office environment and didn’t need me in professional dress to do my job.
I know a lot of people, expecially women, can think that they do not have a career unless they have a ‘nice’ office job with a business casual dress code and a tame working environment. I think those mundane little things that make up a normal office job can be comforting, but it can lull you into a sense of security. We’re definitely getting paychecks around here, you think, we have AC and a kitchen and timesheet software! And that’s probably true, the professional firm is not going anywhere. But I am more interested in the slightly scruffier jobs with bigger potential.
There are plenty of non-office related jobs that pay well, are interesting and challenging and have huge potential to teach you business and operations skills you’d never learn in an office. One of my side businesses involves working in a warehouse. I can’t tell you how much I love being at the warehouse. I am fascinated by all the activity going on around me. I operated the forklift the other day (I just asked if I could try it out and nobody thought to say no). I had carne asada with homemade tortillas courtesy of the other workers. AND I am learning so many practical aspects of running a business that I don’t see in my professional job where most or all of the details are neatly handled for me behind the scenes: where someone else processes payroll, orders lunch, or deals with collecting accounts receivable. Of course, there are greater risks associated with work outside an office, especially physical risks when you work with machinery or in a hazardous environment.
I am interested in both owning businesses and being a professional. But professional to me doesn’t mean I’m wearing a suit and treating clients to a long lunch. I am not opposed to all that stuff (though it does get old), but I think being a professional in a field means taking yourself to the next level and to pushing yourself to be above and beyond what others are doing in your industry. And I just don’t think that’s going to happen in a neat little cubicle, with my files neatly arranged just so and my pens and highlighters waiting for me to mark-up the next document coming across my desk.
I prefer work that involves some kind of physical tasks. I want to use my brain, absolutely, but I think my ideal jobs require constant problem-solving, stuff like:
- On-Site construction manager (my job doesn’t include a lot of on-site work right now)
That kind of job may not be very aspirational, but I think it will get you a lot further than a job that looks and sounds good on paper, but does little to provide you with actual skills you can take to a new position, firm, industry or your own business. This isn’t exactly a Stiff vs. Suit debate, because the types of work I prefer are definitely more Suit than Stiff. Basically, I want to be a strategic operations person in a field that’s less traditional for women: construction, shipping, or my secret dream, waste management. Yes. It’s true. My dream jobs include working for Waste Management. Is that weird? I thought everyone wanted to work for waste management. It sounds so awesome!
What do you think? What makes a job interesting and rewarding to you? Do you like professional jobs where you need to be dressed up and refrain from cursing in front of clients? Or do you enjoy a job that Mike Rowe would feature on Dirty Jobs? I want to know!