Friday, February 8, 2008

Alright you Blog Stalkers Now's Your Chance to Comment and Win

I'm a huge blog stalker, I'll visit several blogs but rarely comment and I think/hope that's what's happening on this blog since I check my sitemeter reading and see lots of visits but very few comments.

One of my big motivations for starting this blog was that I wanted feedback from readers, otherwise I can think my thoughts on my own with out posting them, so in an effort encourage more comments I'm borrowing an idea from some of the blogs I read and offering a contest to readers who respond. For the next two weeks anyone who comments on any post will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win one of my favorite financial books The Millionaire Next Door. The more comments the more chances to win.

Happy commenting!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

My Mid-Year Performance Review is Tuesday

One of my financial goals for 2008 is to obtain a promotion. To me a promotion equates to this equation promotion = more money = more savings = closer to financial freedom

My career goal was two years after my college graduation to obtain a promotion and by the end of this year it will have been two years. (And I will have worked for the company for over 6 years! – wow saying that makes me feel old even thought I’m not). To date I’ve only received one promotion and the event that prompted this promotion was graduating college since I had been verbally given a promotion a year before then contingent upon graduating college. Because of the company bureaucracy, I understood that I could not be “officially” promoted due to a lack of degree even thought I was very deserving of promotion based upon my contributions to the company. (I think there could have been a way around this but I was willing to follow the rules for the time being, since bucking the system would have meant possibility not having as much flexibility in my job like telecommuting two days a week so I could attend some classes only offered at specific times.)

In my company, promotions are typically given out in September following our end of fiscal year evaluations. Our mid-year evaluations are now in full swing, mine happens to be schedule for this coming Tuesday. The company norm for length between promotions for those of us lower on the corporate ladder occur between 2-3 years for each position, of course dependent upon an individual’s performance. People mid-ladder pole 4-5 years, and then upper ladder it really depends some are 1-2 years, while others peak out and it takes 10 years to move up. I’m still currently on the lower end so a promotion by the end of the year would be with in the norm.

Okay, enough background of my status and the company, I think I’ve sufficiently proven that a promotion is realistic with in the parameters of the corporate bureaucracy and I won’t get into all the money and client contacts above the norm I’ve made on deals for the company or the outstanding job I’ve been doing because I’ll save all that for my review on Tuesday (plus this post is already getting really long). The real meat/intent of my post is that I’ve long sense done my homework for researching how to achieve a promotion since my last one I didn’t have to strategize to obtain (and maybe this one I don’t really need to either but I’d rather be proactive). I stumbled across an article about the key steps to achieving a promotion - I wish for the life of me I knew where I got it as I’d like to give them credit and also revisit this article for my use (if you know the article I’m referring to please let me know where its from). The only remnants I have of this article are my notes on a post-it stuck to my bulletin board above my computer.

Here’s what my notes say:

  1. Determine Expectations --- research HR for specific tasks/abilities, talk to Debbie about this
  2. Perform a Gap Analysis between current duties and next level --- per HR’s def – ask G if there’s specific form already created, also ask about at Mid-year and request to come up with a list together to achieve the difference
  3. Schedule meeting with list of skills and responsibilities, goal is next level, find project etc that will help achieve promotion --- also do together at Mid-year PPM
  4. Prioritize and document assignments --- also success and stats from completed projects especially the pharmacy and $$$ made
  5. Cash in chips – show documentation that achieved --- start list today of accomplishments with stats

I’ve done a real good job of following this advice over the last couple of months. I have figured out the expectations according to the corporate info established and will find out my boss’s expectations on Tuesday, I preformed my gap analysis and have already put the bug in my boss’s ear about wanting to do this as well as create a list of skills and responsibilities during the review, and I’ve clearly documented success of projects and tasks completed. So I’m hoping all goes well.

My question is what else should I do to a) prep for my mid-year, in past years I’ve already been ready with a jot list of success and my goals, but I’ve never been actively seeking promotions and b) beyond what I’m doing what should I do to position myself to be promoted in September?

Alright you seasoned professionals with several promotions under your belt…any other good tips for me?

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

New Favortie Blog - Fabulous Financials by Single Ma

I've just found an amazing new to me financial blog that I am adding to my favorite blogs its Fabulous Financials by Single Ma. According to her About profile she's a 30-something single mom who's long term financial goals include having a net worth of $1M+. Her blog is about her journey to financial freedom. Even though I'm not a Ma, I think we share some similar goals.

Single Ma is witty, well in formed, down to earth, on top of her financial future, and she's a blast to read with her colloquial talk about her friends and family.

I hope you'll enjoy her blog as much as I did.

(Graphic from Single Ma's Profile)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Judging The Jones’ Money Moves

I dropped off my car today to get detailed for the very first time ever. (I have owned the car since 2004). I am most excited about this and have been looking forward to it for months. In fact I’ve been wanting to do it for quite a while but always felt it was too expense, so in November I decided what the heck its worth it because in a way its also a form of car maintenance and started saving for it. Since then I’ve saved more than enough to have my car detailed.

When my car was picked up at the jobsite today to get detailed one of the guys I work with made the joked that apparently I’m getting paid too much to be able to afford these luxuries. He went on and on about how broke he is and how much he would like to be able to afford the same luxuries.

So this guy, we’ll call “Big Spender”, continues to rant on and on about how its not fair that I can get my car detailed. Well I know “Big Spender” makes more money than I do because I do the GC’s and cost analysis every month so I know roughly what his costs ( salary and benefits) to the project are per month. But despite making what in my opinion is a pretty nice salary, he always talks about how broken and in debt he is. And I can’t help but feel sorry for him, especially when he talks about how he “can’t” save for retirement because his bills are so high and that retirement is a luxury for people with money. I don’t feel sorry for him that he “can’t” save, what I feel sorry about is that he doesn’t get it, he refuses to change his spending habits. And in my humble opinion retirement isn’t a luxury for people with money, it’s a comfort for people who allocate their resources effectively and prioritize their future over their present over-spending. And while “Big Spender” doesn’t spring for “luxuries” like getting his car detailed once in 4 years and savings for retirement like I do, he does blow money like crazy on random knick-knacks, high dollar electronics, DVD’s, and credit card interest. For super bowl weekend he sprung for a brand new High-Def LDC TV, and I know that bad boy had to have been at least 40, that’s right four-zero, times more expensive than detailing a car. If you ask me he’s making a choice and that choice is that he doesn’t value the same “luxuries” that I do.

Choices --- that’s what life and personal finance come down --- priorities and choosing what’s important to you.

Well I’m off to enjoy my newly cleaned car.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Monday's Money Funny - The Current Economy

I've started a feature on my blog called "Monday's Money Funny" which are humorous (or at least humorous to me) articles/jokes/just about anything (real or satire) that I've discovered over the weekend when I catch up on all my on line reading that spark a need for knowledge. For example last week's a "satire" (at least I sincerely hope its a satire) about why not to invest in a 401k which promoted a search for information regarding reasons to invest in a 401k or other retirement savings account. This week's is a satire on the government's plans to spark the struggling economy.

I hope you enjoy the fourth of the series from The Onion.

Below is the article:

Congress To Raise Alpacas To Aid Struggling Economy

January 30, 2008

WASHINGTON—Members of Congress assured Americans that they have a definitive plan for reviving the slumping economy when they unveiled on Monday a bold new fiscal stimulus package that calls for the purchase of a pair of alpacas

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said the proposal, which is expected to solve the sub-prime mortgage crisis, boost consumer confidence, and pump much-needed liquid capital into the market, will be put into motion as soon as the first issue of Alpaca World magazine arrives and Congress has a chance to go through the catalog and select the perfect mating pair.

Congress Announcement

Proponents of the new economic stimulus package show off the comfort and versatility of alpaca fleece.

"We're confident that breeding alpacas will jump-start the economy and lift this nation out of debt once we get the start-up money," said McConnell, who insists the exotic livestock require very little maintenance and are of a gentler temperament than their cousin the llama. "All you need is a fertile male and a female in heat, and nature takes it course. Before you know it, the money is rolling in and there's alpacas everywhere."

After weeks of debate, a bipartisan commission finally chose the alpaca initiative over a number of other proposals, including handcrafting turquoise jewelry, an extensive job-training program in the nation's most impoverished regions, and opening a U.S. Congress seller's account on Ebay. McConnell said the group was swayed toward the idea of mating alpacas and also shearing them for their valuable fleece because it required the fewest resources and was a "super-easy" way to rake in cash.

"It is time to stop bickering and take real steps to revive the U.S. dollar—which is why we're sending a fact-finding delegation out to the alpaca farm in Hagerstown [MD] next weekend," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said. "Senator Chuck Hagel's brother-in-law said we could borrow his truck to pick up the alpacas from the National Zoological Society on Saturday."


An alpaca

"I can't believe we ever wasted our time with tariffs, raising interest rates, and tax hikes," Pelosi added. "This is such a no-brainer."

Under the new proposal, a Senate subcommittee will be formed to attend to the day-to-day care of the alpacas, providing food and water, cleaning up their communal dung pile, and securing the animals in their pen inside the Senate chamber at night. In addition, Congressman Robert Andrews (D-NJ) made his office available for storing buckets and shovels, saying the space is usually empty anyway since he prefers to work from home.

A Senate majority has already voted to name the alpacas Jefferson and Bongo.

Advocates also claimed that using the alpacas' fleece for knitted and woven items would energize the textile industry and eliminate the nation's dependence on foreign- produced ponchos.

"If we are truly committed and learn to spin our own fibers, we can cut out the middleman and sell socks, hats, and gloves directly to the American public," Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said. "People don't realize how much softer alpaca wool is because they've never had a chance to try it. Once they do, though—let's just say this war could be paid for in no time."

While initial reaction has been positive, critics of the plan have pointed out that Congress has still not paid back the money it borrowed from the American public to start that silk-screen T-shirt business it was so excited about in 2004, and many were concerned that this will just be a repeat of the Bedazzling the Economy Act of 2000.

The bill's sponsors, however, claimed that they had thought it all through, and that this economic stimulus package "can't miss."

Alpaca Farm

A special committee was sent to a nearby alpaca farm to scout mating pairs and pet some alpacas.

"If for some reason it doesn't work out—which it will—we can always allocate some additional spending for a goat and convert the venture into an executive petting zoo," Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) said. "Those other projects required too much overhead. With alpacas, it's just grass, and we already have the whole National Mall right across the street."

Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL), a well-known fiscal conservative, remained one of the sole voices against the proposal.

"This harebrained scheme is shortsighted, ill conceived, and an absolute waste of time and effort," Martinez said. "Which is why from the beginning I said, let's raise emus. Not only do you have meat and eggs, but you can probably get some money for those feathers too."

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Monday called the new plan "intriguing," but stressed that the nation's economic policy should continue to center around Sen. Robert Byrd's (R-WV) practice of selling soda and candy bars out of his office, which accounted for almost 30 percent of last year's gross domestic product.

This crazy idea to me seems about as successful as the stimulus package's $300, $600, and $1200 tax rebates. One author at CNN's Money even thinks the tax rebates would head straight to China rather than have an impact on the US's economy.

Stay tuned for next week's Monday's Money Funny. Also if you run across any Monday Funnies please email them to me at and if I use them I will give you credit and link to your blog.

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