Tag Archive | "career"

Getting into a good MBA program takes at least 4 years

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Getting into a good MBA program takes at least 4 years


MBA School

I’m going to ignore everything that you can and should do before your third year of college that will help you get into a good MBA program and focus on everything after you start your third year. You can find more information on what you need to do during your ungrad to get a good job by reading Getting a job after college takes at least two years.

At the end, please let me and others know what helped you get into MBA school.

Preparing for and taking the GMAT

If you are serious about a top tier MBA program, then you cannot underestimate the value of a good GMAT prep course. I took Kaplan’s Advanced GMAT prep course. Review of the Kaplan GMAT course.

To give you an idea, I estimate that I spent around 105-110 hours studying for the GMAT. My wife felt like a single mother since I was gone every night after dinner at the library studying.

However, the time and commitment paid off. My score was not only goo enough to get me into the schools that I want to, but also earn me a scholarship.

I’m not saying this to boast, but to prove my point. Take the GMAT seriously and invest in the preparation. You will see good dividends.

Excel at your current job

Let me explain what I mean by excel. I don’t mean showing up at work every day. I don’t mean completing every task on time and on budget.

I’m talking about taking the opportunity to perform better than expected.

To go the extra mile beyond what’s required.

To leave your department, boss and company wondering how lucky they are to have you as part of the time.

Excelling results in extraordinary opportunities and experiences that will bolster your resume and enhance you during the interview. For each question, you will better be able to respond with a specific example of how you lead. And most good business schools are trying to determine what type of leader you are and will be.

You also need to excel in your current responsibilities because of the next point.

Obtain 2-3 good references

One has to be your boss.

What your manager has to say about you will go a long way in your application.

For example, if your boss gives a standard, “She’s an excellent and reliable employee who exceeds expectations,” then you aren’t getting anywhere. You don’t want to be generic or typical.

However, if your boss is able to say, “She has accomplished the following projects…that in turn grew the company in the following ways…and will be an asset to your community through…” then you have a much better chance of getting an interview.

With each of your references, please do the following.

  • Provide them with your resume and examples of your work
  • Provide your essays so they know how you are presenting yourself
  • Let them know exactly what to expect (is this an online form, a mailed letter, etc)
  • Be specific about any traits or qualities that you want them to mention

Your job is to make this as easy a process as possible for them.

Get to know the school’s staff and students

For example, one of your best friends during the application process will probably be a secretary. As you have questions, he or she will be a tremendous resource.

Also, meet the interviewers beforehand if you can. I visited the MBA school I’m going to months before I began the application. While there, I met students, office staff, teachers and the admissions officers. When I was interviewed months later, I was able to talk about my visit and they recalled me. I had instant rapport as a result of my earlier visit.

Some schools involve the students in the admissions process. If you can, reach out and connect with some of those students.

The more people that know you and know something about you before you apply, the better. You can’t have too many champions or advocates on your side.

Develop a unique story

I feel a little silly writing about developing a unique story.

The reality is that you already have a unique story. No one else has led your life or done what you have done.

The secret is to know how to present your story. Spend some time telling your story (what makes you who you are) in a way that makes it memorable. The admissions committee will have to deal with 1000s of applications. Telling your story in a unique way will make you stick out.

Be nice, prompt and grateful

The golden rule is a time tested truth – do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Be genuinely nice to each person that you interact with at the school. Be gracious and courteous.

Say thank you and then send thank you emails, cards, notes, etc. And do it just because it’s the nice thing to do.

What helped you get into the MBA school of your choice? And for more advice and information on finances and careers, follow Rabbit Funds on Twitter. Also, this post was featured in the Carnival of Personal Finance hosted at The Jenny Pincher.

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Getting a job after college takes at least two years

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Getting a job after college takes at least two years


One of the best professors that I ever had in college gave me on the first day of class some of the best advice I ever received. He told my class that getting a good job would take at least two years and that we needed to start immediately. I took that advice to heart.

Did I end up with my dream job? Honestly, no I didn’t. But I did end up with a good job that has provided me with a lot of experience and a decent loving for my family. Further, the steps I took while earning my undergrand and the experience I’ve had since graduating has led me to being accepted to some top ranked MBA programs.

I’m going to walk through some of the important steps that you should be taking while an undergrad. I will also explain why each step matters as I go along. Also, if you have any advice, please leave it in the comments section.

Happy Employees

Very first – get to know the people in your career services center

Most undergraduate programs or universities offer career services. These individuals should be your best friends. They know when recruiters are coming to campus, what you need to do to apply and often have connections that otherwise would not be available to you.

Spend some time in your career services center learning about the process of getting a job in your industry. Ask lots of questions. As you progress through your undergrad, stop back by and make sure that you are on track to getting a good job.

Complete a summer internship between your junior and senior year

You may have multiple opportunities to complete internships (take them!). But at a minimum, you need to complete an internship during the summer before your senior year.

  • First, internships often lead to a job with the same company. I had the opportunity to intern at Kohl’s corporate office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Two days after completing the internship, I was offered a full time job starting upon graduation.
  • Apply early. If you wait to apply for internships, then you may miss the deadline to apply. Honestly, you should start looking at who will be recruiting at your university about week two of the Fall semester. Doing your research well in advance will also help you know what courses you may need to take to qualify for specific internships.
  • Apply to a lot of different companies. You never know where you will be accepted and you might be surprised at what you end up choosing/liking. When I first applied for the internship with Kohl’s, I did so because I had some friends that had enjoyed their internship there. During the application and interview process, I became very excited about the opportunity and placed Kohl’s at the top of my list. Also, the old adage, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” comes to mind.
  • Be willing to work for free. I know that you are an undergrad and that money is probably tight. But getting good experience on your resume will help you in getting a good job after graduation. Most companies won’t ask you to work for free, but some will. If the company or experience is good, then be willing to work for free.

I can’t say enough about preparing early, applying to multiple companies and completing a summer internship or two.

Third, excel in school

I skipped a lot of classes in high school. I was almost on a first name basis with everyone who worked at McDonald’s during my second hour class. That attitude all changed once I started college. I realized that I was now choosing and paying to be in school. So if I was going to be there, I might as well get everything I can out of it. I only missed 2-3 classes total each semester. I intentionally took hard classes and pushed myself. There were nights when I was cursing at the homework assignments because I just didn’t get it. But by the end, I was almost always at the top of my class. Developing a habit of hard work and dedication has served me both in getting what I want in life as well as keeping what I want.

Put the time in now for a few years and you will reap benefits for decades. I’m not saying to lock yourself up. I still socialized and dated quite a bit. I even got married and had a kid before I graduated. So if I could find the time to study and work hard, so can you.

Last, apply for jobs early and often

Very much like applying for internships, you need to start early. Here’s what I recommend.

  • Target specific companies two years before you graduate. Know who you want to work for and what it will take to get a job offer. And it’s okay to change your list as you learn more about your industry and those companies. The point is to have a plan of attack.
  • Use your network to get interviews. Upper-class men who have already had internships or have job offers can help you with everything from basic questions to getting interviews. Make friends with students that are older than you.
  • Don’t let rejection bother you. Let me be the first to tell you that you will be rejected, maybe a lot. That’s fine. Just keep working towards your goals. Where you end up may surprise you, but I bet you will be satisfied.

If you aren’t working hard towards a good job, your classmates who are will beat you out.

For more information about financial planning and careers, follow Rabbit Funds on Twitter. Also, this post was featured in the 340th edition of the Carnival of Personal Finance hosted at Young Adult Finances.

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5 Ways to use your talents to earn some extra money

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5 Ways to use your talents to earn some extra money


I recently wrote about how to start a home based business. The very first step is to come up with an idea for your business. I want to delve a little more into this phase and give some suggestions.

I’ve created a list of five businesses that you could start that I’ve seen be successful. Let me define successful, though, as bringing in extra income – not as replacing the primary source of income. That’s not to say that your business can’t or won’t become your primary source of income.

My strongest suggestion when deciding what to do is to make sure that you pick something about which you are passionate.

Baked Goods

Baked goods

Of all the suggestions for home based businesses on my list today, this is the only one that is goods based. Meaning, all of the other suggestions offer an intangible service. Baked goods are a physical product. And although you may end up on a Girl Scout hit list, baking goods generally exploits using the appliances and resources already in your kitchen. You just need to buy the ingredients.

Look to create something either unique and/or that makes life easier. For example, a simple but tasty dessert can be very unique and fun. Or consider making everyday meals that families can then just freeze. That way, they can just pull it out of the freezer and heat. Thus, saving time on shopping and food preparation.

If you plan to offer your baked goods online, then recognize that shipping costs can eat up a lot of your profit (especially if it has to ship cold or frozen). So define a geographic region that you can profitably serve. Conversely, you may end up creating something with so little demand that you have to offer it online just to get enough customers.

Please make sure you research all of the required licenses such as a Food Handlers permit.

Kids at Daycare

Daycare

Another service that you can offer out of your home. As long as you can tolerate several screaming children and have the space in your home, then daycare can be an excellent side income. Again, you will need to check your state’s laws and regulations to make sure that you can offer the service in your home. Also, you may be required to carry extra insurance.

One interesting regulation, at least in my state, for daycares is the adult to child ratio. Meaning, as you grow, you will have to hire additional staff since you are allowed to only watch so many kids per adult. Though, growth and needing more resources are usually good problems to have.

Face Painting

Face painting

Put that A- minus you got in your high school art class to good use. Face painting has very low overhead (meaning expenses to run the business) but you can make a lot of money on a per hour basis if you are fast.

If you offer the service at parties, then you can charge either a flat rate or a per child rate or a flat rate plus a per child rate. Though, if you are doing face painting at a fair or special event, then you will most likely pay for the space. I’m not saying to avoid doing it at fairs, but just be aware of the cost.

Another fantastic venue is outside of sporting events. Depending on your city’s ordinances, you may be able to set-up shop outside of the event for free. Every little kid walking by will want his or her face painted. And probably plenty of adults too.

If the demand is high enough, you can also get pretty cheap, temp labor from the local college or high school to help out at big events.

Ballet Lessons

Lessons

Pretty generic title I know. Make a list of all your hobbies, talents and skills. I’ll bet there is something on that list that you are pretty good at and that others would like to learn as well. For example, piano lessons, dance lessons, language skills, sports, etc.

My wife and I have a lot of experience in this area. We started teaching swimming lessons several years ago. My wife swam competitively and coached for many years before we got married. So she woke up one morning and announced, “We are going to start a swim school.” Three years later, we have more clients than we can serve, multiple employees, and several locations where we coach.

So if you are passionate about something and have the right skills, then investigate whether or not others would like to learn the same skill.

House Cleaning

House cleaning services

Being business owners, we find that during our peak season we fall behind in several day-to-day tasks such as cleaning our home. So frankly, we hire a house cleaner to take care of the dishes, laundry, sweeping, etc (lame I know). But it’s a life saver for us. So house cleaning is a great service to offer other business owners.

The trade off for us is obvious. My wife can spend two hours cleaning or two hours making money (and she makes more in those two hours working than we pay a house cleaner).

My point is that when starting a business, consider who can really benefit from your product or service. Many times, you’ll find that you are servicing another business in some way. And businesses are often more willing to pay than consumers. I wouldn’t get a house keeper just because, but if it helps make me more money, then dang straight I will.

What other side businesses have you seen be successful? Follow us on Twitter for more info and articles like this one.

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HOW TO: 6 Steps to starting a home business [Part 2]

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HOW TO: 6 Steps to starting a home business [Part 2]


In the first part of 6 Steps to starting a home business, I wrote about generating ideas, selecting your legal and taxable business structure, and creating a legal, taxable business entity. In this second part, I’ll cover the next three important steps.

Working at home

Step 4: Setting up bank accounts

It’s extremely important to keep you personal and business bank accounts separate. Besides easier accounting, it helps protest your personal assets in the event of a lawsuit. Often in lawsuits, the person suing will try to “pierce the corporate veil.” What that means is that they’ll try to prove that you should be personal held liable. If they are able to get to your personal assets, then that completely defeats one of the prime reasons for setting up a Limited Liability Company (which is designed to protect your personal assets).

So how do your bank accounts affect whether or not someone can pierce the corporate veil? If you deposit the business’ money directly into your personal account or make personal purchases from your business account, then you have “co-mingled” funds. Meaning, you have blurred the line between what is personal and business. The person or company suing will claim that since you blurred the line, the business entity is invalid and you should be held personally responsible.

Do not make this mistake. You should always keep your personal funds/purchases separate from your business funds/purchases. Speak with an accountant or tax attorney more about this.

To find a good bank, I recommend starting with the bank where you do your personal banking. If you like them for your personal accounts, then you will probably like them for your business accounts as well. Make sure to review all of the fees as many business checking and savings accounts carry fees that personal accounts don’t have.

Step 5: Keeping an accurate accounting of all your income and expenses

First, understand that accurate accounting is important. For example, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to write anything off. Second, tax preparation will be much easier and faster if you have good records.

I could write several posts just on accounting for small businesses. But I’m going to just keep it picking some accounting software. Here are a few options to consider.

Quickbooks: If you know a bit about accounting and are comfortable with figuring out a somewhat unintuitive program, then Intuit’s Quickbooks is a leader in accounting software. I personally use it and don’t love it, but it works pretty well. It offers a lot of functionality, though you often have to pay for the additional functionality. Quickbooks has both a desktop (one time purchase but is outdated after one year) and online version (always up-to-date but is a monthly subscription). Also, pretty much every accountant uses Quickbooks. So you can easily send your file to your accountant for taxes or other work.

Outright: If you are looking for something that is 100% online, cheaper than Quickbooks and more intuitive to use, then Outright.com may be a great option for you. It connects to thousands of banks to download your transactions and has a pretty easy to use interface.  The cost is $9.95 per month after a free 30 day trial. Though, the lower price means that you sacrifice some functionality. But, you may consider that an advantage if you don’t love diving into accounting.

AccountEdge: This is for all you Mac users. Although Quickbooks has a Mac edition, it was first and foremost designed for PCs. AccountEdge is premium accounting software designed for small businesses who use Macs. The feature list is pretty impressive. It is desktop software and although comparably priced with Quickbooks, it is actually cheaper since getting the same functionality (such as Payroll) requires paying more to Quickbooks. I strongly recommend considering AccountEdge.

Step 6: Marketing yourself

This is my favorite step. I’m a marketer by trade.

Notice that I titled this “Marketing yourself” and not “Marketing your business.” The number one thing you are selling, especially when starting out, is you – not your product or service. Your product or service is untested and unproven. So customers are buying you, not the product. So very first, be the type of person that you personally want to do business with. Correct all of the customer service issues that drive you insane when dealing with other companies.

If your business can benefit from online marketing (which is pretty much every business), then there is a lot that you can do from free or cheap. Here’s a list of free or cheap marketing resources for small businesses. Though, I specifically recommend checking out Inbound University (not an actual university or school), which teaches online marketing for free, and Hubspot’s Internet Marketing blog. They offer tons of free information about online marketing.

No matter how you decide to market yourself, understand that you need to create a very compelling story about your brand. Being the cheapest or best isn’t good enough anymore because there is always going to be someone cheaper or better just behind you (unless you are Wal-mart). Besides, people are willing to pay a premium for a brand that they feel connected to. Just consider Apple for a moment. Apple products are more expensive than its competitors’ products and yet they are the market leaders. Why? Because people worship love Apple. Here’s a case study about building an awesome, easy to share brand story.

So build a brand that people are willing to pay more for because they feel connected to it on some emotional level. For more info on building brands, read Seth Godin.

Other considerations

These two posts are just a very basic outline on how to get you up and running. A few things not covered here that you need to consider are: what’s your business plan? where is funding going to come from? what’s your exit strategy if things going poorly? what’s your exit strategy if things going really well? what is the demand for your service (really)?

Watch for a post in the coming weeks with some specific businesses that you might want to start. Also, add your thoughts below on what you think are crucial steps in starting a home based business.

Don’t forget to follow Rabbit Funds on Twitter for more articles like this one!

Also, this article was featured in the Carnival of Personal Finance #321.

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HOW TO: 6 Steps to starting a home business [Part 1]

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HOW TO: 6 Steps to starting a home business [Part 1]


My wife woke-up one morning, about three years ago, and announced, “I’m going to start a home business.” And sure enough, she did. Since its simple inception, our swim school has been able to generate more demand than we can handle. We now have a team of coaches and multiple locations where we teach.

Swimming

I’m not saying any of this to brag, but to show that starting a home based business is much easier today than it’s ever been before. The Internet not only provides access to information, but it also gives you access to customers. The billions of searches on Google represent consumers looking for products and services.

The purpose of this post is to give you a basic overview of how to go about starting a home business.

Step 1: Generating ideas

Start by making a list of your hobbies and passions. You’ll find that business is much easier when you love what you are doing. Let me give you an example.

A neighbor of ours, Candice, tried to sell Mary Kay cosmetics and skincare. However, Candice doesn’t wear make-up or really care about make-up for that matter. Her only purpose in doing Mary Kay was to just earn extra money. The result – she failed. A few months later, Candice decided to open a business selling cake bites. The difference? She loves baking. Her husband has often complained that his spare tire around the waist is the result of always having baked goods in the house. This time, her business is going much better because she enjoys what she does. She’d make cake bites regardless of the business.

Once you’ve made a list of your hobbies, passions and interests, narrow the list down to some options where you think you can offer a unique advantage. Part of our success with swim lessons is because we are able to offer services not otherwise available in our area. There was a whole in the market and we have stepped in to fill it. So spend some time on Google and see what’s offered and not offered in your area or online.

Keep in mind that being competitive doesn’t necessarily mean offering something that no one else offers. But rather, a competitive advantage can be offering a product or service in a better way than anyone else or at a lower cost.

Step 2: Selecting your legal and taxable business type

Once you’ve decided what to do, you need to put a legal structure around your business. There are several options: sole proprietor, single member LLC, multi-member LLC, Limited Partnership,  S-Corp and C-Corp. Most home businesses are setup as LLCs. LegalZoom offers a brief comparison between LLCs and Corporations.

This is where you want to talk to a tax attorney or accountant. There are several factors that will affect the structure you choose, such as how much money you expect to make, how many people own the company, what are you planning to offer, etc. Spending a little money to set things up correctly from the beginning is worth the money.

The point is that you want to protect yourself and assets from lawsuits.

Step 3: Creating a legal, taxable business entity

There are basically three steps to creating a new legal, taxable business entity.

  1. What’s in a name?
    First, you need a name. More importantly, you need a name that is available in your state. Or in other words, a name that hasn’t been registered by another entity. You can check your state’s Business Entity Search to see what is available.
  2. Let the Feds know
    Second, you need to file for a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN or EIN). You can quickly and easily file online on the IRS’ website. You will need your FEIN before proceeding to the next step or setting up bank accounts.
  3. File with your state
    Each state’s process is a little different. Though you will be required to create your Articles of Incorporation, which are the rules that govern the management of your company. There are some standard clauses, such as who are the managing members and what is your business address, but you can create business rules or articles that cover just about anything you want (as long as it’s legal). For example, if you are going into business with friends or family, then an article describing dissolution (what happens to the money and assets if your company goes under) is a very good idea.

On a side note, consider other legal requirements, such as a food handler’s permit, that you may be required to file. For example, a Sales Tax Id if you intend to resale goods. Again, this is where a good accountant or attorney can help you make sure that you are filing everything you need to.

In Part 2 of starting a home business, I will cover the next three steps, which are setting up bank accounts, keeping your accounting records, and marketing yourself.

For more money saving advice, follow Rabbit Funds on Twitter.

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5 Life lessons that taking the GMAT taught me

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5 Life lessons that taking the GMAT taught me


As anyone that has taken the GMAT can tell you, earning a high score is a lot of work. Scoring above a 700 (on a scale of 200-800) usually entails about 100 hours of study time. Of course, then there’s the actual test day. Basically, the test is four hours of just you, your brain, scratch paper, and the computer in front of you. You have no help or resources.

GMAT Prep BooksOut of this experience, I’ve learned several lessons that I believe are applicable throughout life in many different scenarios.

1) One failure is just that if you let be

I decided to take Kaplan’s Advanced Prep Course to help me prepare. As part of the course, I was able to take seven practice GMATs. On about test five, my score suddenly dropped. I found myself staring at a number that, in my mind, was not only unacceptable but a huge blow to my ego.

I began rationalizing the score as the result of my cold and a bad night’s sleep. Though within a few hours, doubts and fears began to creep into my mind. I found myself thinking, “Maybe you just can’t do it.”

Basically, I was forced to face a very real fear for me – the thought that I’m not good enough. Forty-eight hours later, I had to go back to class and keep learning. That moment was a pivotal moment for me. I had to answer questions like: Just how dedicated am I going to be? Can I achieve my goals? Will this test define me and my future?

I came to one simple conclusion – one failure is just that if I let it be that. Meaning, I could continue my defeatist internal rant and continue to underperform or I could let that one failure go, having learned from it, and move on.

Life is often this way. We have setbacks. In our mind’s eye, we watch a chain of events play out that leads to failure, pain, or disappointment. We then act on those fears and our subsequent actions are masochistic and detrimental. It’s at that moment that we have to decide how we will respond. Steven R. Covey preaches that we are responsible or “response able.” We have the right and power to decide how we will respond.

I choose to let one failure be just that.

2) Don’t let anxiety and fear change your method

As I prepared to take the GMAT, I learned techniques and methods to help guide my thinking so that I could efficiently determine the correct answer. With only four questions left on the whole test, my heart began to race. I realized that within just a few minutes, I would see my score. Months of preparation and countless hours of studying were culminating in this one moment.

I began to freak out.

I read the question and frantically looked at the answers trying to guess which one was right. Suddenly, I thought to myself, “What are you doing?! You have a method. Stick to the method. Don’t let the anxiety change your approach and cause you to guess when you can get the right answer by following the method.”

I calmed down a bit and followed my method. With each of the remaining questions, the anxiety remained. But I stuck to my method and confidently selected the answer choice that I felt was correct. And it worked. I earned a good score.

Again, life poses challenges. Some of them are horrific or emotionally devastating. But find your method and stick to it. Don’t let fear and anxiety change how you approach decisions and actions. Realize and accept that you are upset, afraid, or angry, and then consciously choose your course of action based on your method.

3) When it matters, it’s just you, your brain, and what’s in front of you

As I mentioned earlier, the only resource that you have during the test is your own brain. No calculators, no watches, no notes, not even gum. You have to face each question with the knowledge that you already possess. So preparation matters.

When faced with adversity and temptations in life, you may be able to call on others to help, but the ultimate decision and subsequent action is up to you. No one else can make it through this life for you. You have to stand up and be counted for yourself. But the weapon you have in your arsenal is preparation.

For example, I decided at a very young age that I would not drink or smoke. I have had more than one opportunity to do so in my life, but have never done it. The reason is that I had made the decision long before I was ever faced with the opportunity. So when a friend said, “Want a drink?” I didn’t have to decide what to do. I already had. So saying, “No,” was easy.

4) Do you have enough information to make a decision?

One of the question types in the math section of the GMAT is called Data Sufficiency. This special type of question tests whether or not you can determine if you have enough information to get a single, correct answer. So you don’t have to actually solve the problem. You just have to be able to say, “Yes, I could solve the problem with the information provided,” or “No, I need more information to solve the problem.”

How often do we pass judgments or make preliminary decisions based on insufficient information? Maybe you observe Coworker 1 lashing out at Coworker 2. Do you know what led up to the event? Maybe Coworker 2,  the “apparent” victim, was actually sexually harassing Coworker 1. But if you immediately reprimand Coworker 1 for lashing out, then you just made the wrong decision.

So have a checkpoint in your decision making process that says, “Do I have enough information to make a sound decision?”

5) Be proud of what you have accomplished

I’m a bit of a perfectionist. My GMAT score was 10 points shy of the target score that I set out to achieve. But my score is still good (90th percentile good). I was happy but still had disappointment in the back of my mind.

Fortunately, I have a loving wife and family and great friends. As I shared the results with them, they each congratulated me and helped me realize what I had accomplished. Now, don’t confuse what I’m saying with justifying pride or getting a big head over what you’ve done. But if you’ve put in the effort and stuck to your method, then be happy.

Preparing for and taking the GMAT was a great experience in my life. I learned a lot, not only about math and reasoning, but how to manage a situation. Hopefully, the life lessons that I discussed above can also help you.

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“Generation Earn” just released by US News editor Kimberly Palmer

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“Generation Earn” just released by US News editor Kimberly Palmer


Targeting young professionals, blogger and author Kimberly Palmer has just released her new book titled Genereation Earn. Palmer is the creative mind behind the Alpha Consumer blog at US News & World Report. Her new book addresses issues such as spending, investing, and giving back.

Kimberly Palmer

There are obviously a wealth of books and authors telling us how to live, work, earn, and save. Palmer’s unique approach to addressing recent college graduates caught my attention though. Her optimism is contagious and advice sound.

Some praise for Palmer

Jim Wang over at Bargaineering.com says:

“Kimberly Palmer’s blog, Alpha Consumer, has an uncanny way of explaining many of the intricacies of personal finance in a way that everyone can understand. It’s one of my favorite places to go for money advice and commentary.”

And Will Chen of Wise Bread added:

“Kimberly’s book is the ultimate financial guide for a new generation. Bursting with savvy tips, this incredibly well-researched book will guide you through every important financial decision in your life–from picking the right life insurance to getting the best deals on major purchases. A must-read for anyone looking to master their finances.”

A few comments from Palmer based on Generation Earn

Many newscasters and pundits would have Americans believe that young professionals have ever spent and are living off credit card debt, or so says Palmer. She asserts that they actually have great earning power, advanced degrees, and “a more holistic outlook on financial success.”

Her book offers tips and suggestions for young professionals to secure their financial future, including: saving one-third of all income, cultivating their most ambitious dreams, not waiting to invest until you have “extra money,” and donating. One tip that I found particularly interesting is – Don’t scrimp on career-related investments. On the topic, Palmer writes:

“There’s one area where it’s okay to be a spendaholic, and that’s when it comes to investing in your future earning power. The category includes not only education expenses, but also voice lessons for an aspiring podcaster, how-to books for those with potentially lucrative hobbies, and even a new wardrobe for office workers who need to impress the higher-ups. Even hiring a maid service is an investment in your future if you use the time it creates to work on your writing, or website.”

Dispelling myths

Palmer has high hopes for young professionals and believes that we are more capable than maybe we even give ourselves credit for. Backed by studies, Palmer outlines a number of myths that exist about Gen-Yers. For example, she states:

“It’s true, we’ve had it rough: We’ve experienced two recessions before we’ve even hit our career strides (first from the dot-com bust, then from the real estate implosion) and unemployment is highest among young adults – an astounding 37 percent of people between the ages of 18 to 29 are unemployed or out of the workforce. But we still manage to stay upbeat about our futures, an essential skill if we’re going to ride out these challenges. According to the Pew Research Center, only three in ten young people say they earn enough money to lead “the kind of life they want,” while nine in ten say they believe they will be able to do so in the future. Only 76 percent of Gen Xers and 46 percent of Baby Boomers say the same thing.”

On sale today. You can buy Generation Earn probably at your local bookstore or online at Amazon or Barnes & Noble. I’m a Borders guy myself, but Amazon and B&N have it cheaper. Or for more information about the book, check out GenerationEarn.com.

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Is your “Go to Hell” fund fully funded?

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Is your “Go to Hell” fund fully funded?


One of my colleagues up and quit this week. He found himself in a situation where he felt that he could not advance within the company. So he decided to go to law school.

I Hate This JobFortunately for him, he has enough money in the bank to just quit his job and live off of savings until law school next Fall or until he finds a temporary job. Either way, he was able to walk away from work because he had a “Go to Hell” (GTH) fund.

Basically, a GTH fund is sufficient money in the bank to tell your boss where to go and how to get there and not leave your family destitute. I’m certainly not advocating that you readily quit your job, but having the security that you can walk away if your sanity is being challenged makes life and work a little less stressful.

Is a Go to Hell fund the same as an Emergency Fund?

There are two ways you can create a GTH fund.

  1. Use your Emergency Fund – If you are smart, then you already have or are in the process of getting an Emergency Fund that is the equivalent of six months worth of expenses. A fully funded Emergency Fund can act as a GTH fund if need be.
  2. Setup a dedicated GTH Fund – Alternatively, you can setup a savings or money market account that is specifically for quitting your job. If you take this route, then you don’t have to touch your Emergency Fund. Although this approach will take longer, it offers additional financial security. Similar to the Emergency Fund, you should have six months worth of expenses saved up.

Quitting your job in style

In the past several months, the media has covered several individuals who sporadically decided to quit. Two of my favorites are: Girl quits job on dry erase board and JetBlue flight attendant goes AWOL. Hopefully, both of these now unemployed individuals had a GTH fund ready to go. If not, these admittedly funny events may turn tragic.

A few tips on quitting your job

Please understand that I use the phrase “Go to Hell” fund a bit tongue in cheek. Meaning, I actually do not recommend that you ever tell your boss that (unless it’s a case of sexual harassment or something similarly egregious). Rather, leave on good terms. When you have had enough, simply hand over a cordial letter of resignation giving the company two weeks notice that you’ll be quitting. Then, work hard and leave with a clear conscious and an unburned bridge.

Leaving on poor terms or with much fanfare, can come back to haunt you. For example, when you apply for your next job, a new potential employer is likely to call your old company/boss and ask about you. The last thing you want is for former boss to give you a negative review.

Also, keep your resume and a cover letter up-to-date. If you decide to leave your employment with short notice, then you’ll want to have your resume in tip-top shape in order to begin job hunting.

Last, take every opportunity to network within your industry. Many times, you will not be switching industries rather just companies. Having a rolodex of friends and colleagues that you can call will help you find a new job or even strike out on your own.

My own situation

I hesitate to disclose too much information, though I think it fair to give some personal background. While I’m not looking to tell my boss to “shove it,” I am interested in pursuing some of my interests on my own. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough in the bank to walk away and dedicate all of my time to my true passions. So we are forced to compromise. I will be spending my evenings for the next several months preparing for and taking the GMAT, writing personal statements, and applying to MBA schools. Once applications are, my evenings will be dedicated to pursuing some side business that will hopefully fund, in part, MBA school.

It’s moments like these that I wish I could dedicate all of my time to my goals and ambitions rather than a minority of my time. Had we created a GTH fund and fully funded it, then like my friend, I could walk away.

What has your boss or company done that made you wish you had a Go to Hell fund?

(Photo credit: Y)

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