Author Topic: Advice Looking Forward  (Read 1106 times)

MustRetireEarly

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Advice Looking Forward
« on: July 30, 2017, 10:45:03 PM »

The Problem: I currently believe that my biggest issue is my income. And probably the car insurance cost, but apparently that will go down in a few months, then again in a few years.

My Goal: Retire with 800K + a house.
Current savings: About 3K.
Debt: None right now.

Education:
I received a bachelor's degree in accounting with 121 hours. I didn't want to stay in school any longer, so I didn't even think to take the CPA exam. Had I known about early retirement, things may have been radically different.

Salary: My take home pay is currently 15K per year. Gross is 19K. My job title is Accounting Specialist and I work for the government. I plan to stay for a year to see how things go. There's plenty of opportunity for growth here, but even at its peak, it seems to be less than what everyone else seems to make in this forum, even at the start.

Expenses: See bottom of post. To summarize, I hope to spend no more than 6K this year and am on track.

401K: I don't know much about the 401K, but I believe I am contributing at an annual rate of 1.5K right now.

How did you find your higher paying job?

What should I do? Go back to college and become a CPA, incurring debt, but hoping my job situation gets better so I can pay it off? Find a better job after getting a year of experience? Stay at the location? Got any advice for saving more as well? Go ahead and offer it! I want to retire so much sooner than I would at this rate!



Why aren't you making more?
Long story short, I was lazy. This is why I get mad every time I see someone else's income after college. Like I said in my opening post, I am mad at myself, not the people. I guess the way I wrote my post led people to believe that I think I deserve better. No, I deserved what I got pay-wise. I just know that if I worked harder, I could have done much better.

Actual story: I decided to take it easy for about 3 months before I moved to a different state, away from my parents and other relatives, to look for a job. Being really naive at the time, I thought I'd get a job pretty easily since almost all of my roommates were already working there and a position was available. I was wrong, so I spent a few months passively trying to find a job (about 2 or 3 applications per week), getting more and more desperate with each passing week (somewhere around 20 per week, I guess?). It didn't work out in the end, so I was forced to move back home where I continued to apply for more and more jobs (was getting to maybe 30 or 40 per week) until I found the one I have now. It took 8 months. At that point, I didn't care about how much money I would earn or where the job was. I just needed something.
Do I hate the job? No, actually. I think it's a pretty good place to work. It's just the pay is awful.
Could I have tried harder or done more things? Yes. That's why I'm here asking for advice moving forward from where I am now.


Hello. First post here and I am mad. Perhaps I shouldn't be, but I can't help it.

Why? Well, it's because I'm comparing myself to the first page of posts for the case study. I didn't look at them all, but they made me feel ill (Disclaimer: It has nothing to do with any of them so much as myself).

First of all, I turned 23 a few months ago. Found out about MMM two weeks into my job during my free time rotting away at a desk with nothing to do. I always hated the idea of work even as a child. To me, it was 100% negative thanks to all of the stories I heard from my parents and other relatives. My life in contrast before I started working was one of utter bliss. Put simply, I didn't work at all and simply lived most of my days at school or at home. I had a lot of free time and just enjoyed myself messing around with random hobbies (mostly video games) and enjoying time with friends. I guess that makes the following easier to guess, but I live in a middle class income home. Still do, in fact, which is saving me thousands.

So anyway, why am I mad? Because everyone seems to be making at least twice the amount of money I am right now. To be fair, this is my first full time job.

Expenses: Car insurance at over $190 per month (this is just liability coverage). I think gas will cost about $800 per year judging by my current rate. I could probably bike, but my parents are REALLY against me doing this. They're afraid I'll die. I buy things at supermarkets occasionally, staying within a $14 per week budget. Very rarely do I even spend more than $6 on random weeks or more than $10 on weeks I meet with friends (I usually don't buy food even then). Everything else would go to hobbies, gifts for family, and random expenses that I wish I never incurred such as a new battery for my car just after it was given to me. If things go as planned, I hope to spend less than 3K. Doing well so far.

« Last Edit: August 01, 2017, 05:24:11 PM by MustRetireEarly »

2Cent

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Re: Advice Looking Forward
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2017, 11:47:40 PM »
Probably investing in getting a better job, either through education or on the job learning is your best bet. Especially since you hate your job and seemed to love your student years. To put some numbers to it you could calculate how many years you should work on your current salary(with maybe a 5% average salary growth) and how long with an average salary for someone who has a CPA, and some student loans. I think the number will probably work greatly in favor of going back to school over a job that pays the same as McDonalds.

Or you could look if there are any better jobs to be had, or if it's possible to get promoted real soon in your current job, or at least get some job experience that will help you at least double or maybe triple your income.

"Beginning Salaries. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, accountants with bachelor's degrees earned an average starting salary of $48,993 in 2009. Accountants with master's degrees started at an average salary of $49,786. The lowest-paid tier of accountants earned $36,720 or less."

Seems you should be able to do better.

MustRetireEarly

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Re: Advice Looking Forward
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2017, 05:30:14 AM »
Okay. Then I'll add this question to my post: "How did people find their higher paying jobs?" Maybe this is where things went wrong in that area.

As for the CPA exam, apparently I need a full year of accounting experience to get the license anyway. That gives me plenty of time to prepare for it.

Feivel2000

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Re: Advice Looking Forward
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2017, 05:55:26 AM »
There is a lot of data missing... But the positive things:
0 dept
able to live on $15.000

Your current income seems very, very, very low. Shouldn't you be able to make more than $15.000 if you are working at  a gas station??

If your current job is stress free, use the time to prepare for the CPA exam, do it and then get a real job.


MommyCake

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Re: Advice Looking Forward
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2017, 06:06:59 AM »
What is your gross pay and job title? 

Do you have your employer taking the proper taxes out?  Single-1?  Unless your parents can claim you as a dependent, then you'd be better off claiming single-0.  Are you an accounting clerk or accountant?

As a federal employee myself, I always suggest people look for jobs in government.  The pay may be more than you're earning now and you'll also have benefits such as a pension.  A quick search on usajobs turned up almost 1,000 positions available in the country with a keyword of accounting. 

KungfuRabbit

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Re: Advice Looking Forward
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2017, 06:56:35 AM »
I don't understand how someone who got a free ride to college and an accounting degree makes $15k / year. You need to explain that further, because the top side of accounting is pretty damn high (my friends dad is a bachelors degree accountant, makes about $800k as a CFO).

Also, your mom being illogically worrysome about you being killed biking  has no place here.  Your gas + car insurance is 20% of your pay. 20%! 

I'm glad the life of living in moms basement and playing video games makes you happy and I'm sorry you don't like working. O wait, no I'm not. Tough shit. Wake up to the real world.

Laura33

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Re: Advice Looking Forward
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2017, 08:03:46 AM »
How did you end up making $15K/yr with a Bachelor's in a financial field?  That makes no sense.  Did you limit your job search to a small area so you could live at home? 

The best advice I can give you is patience.  I came out of school making more than you, and I *still* was frustrated, because I was surrounded by people who made a lot more than I did!  No matter what size the totem pole is, you still need to start at the bottom of it, and getting angry about that just comes across as entitled.  In fact, being at the bottom of the pile is good, because "don't compare yourself to other people" is a key life lesson. 

IME, the people who get ahead are the people who bust their asses and work hard and look for ways to either make or save money for their employer. Some people do this because they care passionately about their work; others do it because they care passionately about NOT working and so want to maximize their own value and experience to make the most money possible in the shortest time.  For you, right now, your brainpower and skills and work ethic are your most important assets.  So if you want to get ahead quickly, you need to throw yourself into growing those as much as possible -- work your ass off, seek out new challenges, ask for more responsibility, etc. -- not because you care about the job, but because making your employer think that you care about doing an awesome job is going to get you to FIRE most quickly.  If you're sitting at your desk at work with enough time to read MMM, you're wasting an opportunity. 

And if that hard work doesn't pay off here, so what?  At a minimum, it will give you a much better resume (and probably some glowing references) that you can use to get a better job.
Laugh while you can, monkey-boy

2Birds1Stone

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Re: Advice Looking Forward
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2017, 08:18:06 AM »
I don't understand.

Even a retail assistant manager or manager at big box or small box retailers earns $30-60k depending on company/location.

I went from $12-15/hr to $54k/yr in 2 years working in retail, no college education.
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plog

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Re: Advice Looking Forward
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2017, 08:36:01 AM »
1. Annual Fulltime employment (2080 hours/year) * minimum wage ($7.25/hour) = $15,080

2.  Don't externalize your situation.  Good news/bad news: You accepted your current position and pay.  While you have no reason to be mad at what you are paid in relation to others, it also means you can also choose to not work there for that amount any more. 

3. What would have been radically different with your education had you know about FIRE prior to earning your education?  Also, as I mentioned in #2--you have the power to change things in your life.  Whatever choice you would have made with your education is still a possibility.  They let non-18 year olds get degrees or learn trades all the time.

4. Focus on your income.  Riding a bike is good and all, cutting out eating out is fine, but in the grand scheme of your situation it doesn't make a dimple much less a dent with the income you have.  Make a plan to make more money.  Whether that's more education, a better paying job or another job in addition to your current one.  Your problem is income. 

jwright

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Re: Advice Looking Forward
« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2017, 09:06:15 AM »
Are you currently working in public accounting?  Most firms will pay for continuing education which could include some of the additional classes you need to sit for the CPA exam.

I'm a CPA and I do not have a master's degree.  I just took enough additional classes at the Bachelor level to meet the education requirement.  I'm sure you could fit in one or two a semester plus summer terms to get the education finished in 18 months without having to leave your job.  Then you'd have the license and a couple of years of experience, probably on your way to senior designation as well. 


czr

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Re: Advice Looking Forward
« Reply #10 on: July 31, 2017, 09:42:11 AM »
Two weeks into your first job and you are already sick of it and you are mad. Use your anger and make it work for you. Take 2 classes on evenings until you finish your 5th year accounting classes and then pass the CPA and at the same time look for a better job because you are severely underpaid.

MustRetireEarly

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Re: Advice Looking Forward
« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2017, 05:18:48 PM »
Wow. I apologize for the way I worded my post. I didn't realize how it could be interpreted. Let me just resolve that by responding to everyone.

For the recurring "Why aren't you making more?" question:
Long story short, I was lazy. This is why I get mad every time I see someone else's income after college. Like I said in my opening post, I am mad at myself, not the people. I guess the way I wrote my post led people to believe that I think I deserve better. No, I deserved what I got pay-wise. I just know that if I worked harder, I could have done much better.

Actual story: I decided to take it easy for about 3 months before I moved to a different state, away from my parents and other relatives, to look for a job. Being really naive at the time, I thought I'd get a job pretty easily since almost all of my roommates were already working there and a position was available. I was wrong, so I spent a few months passively trying to find a job (about 2 or 3 applications per week), getting more and more desperate with each passing week (somewhere around 20 per week, I guess?). It didn't work out in the end, so I was forced to move back home where I continued to apply for more and more jobs (was getting to maybe 30 or 40 per week) until I found the one I have now. It took 8 months. At that point, I didn't care about how much money I would earn or where the job was. I just needed something.
Do I hate the job? No, actually. I think it's a pretty good place to work. It's just the pay is awful.
Could I have tried harder or done more things? Yes. That's why I'm here asking for advice moving forward from where I am now.

Feivel2000
You said I'm missing a lot of information. Let me know what you need to know.

MommyCake
Gross pay is about 19K. Job title is Accounting Specialist, which means I'm more of a clerk than an actual Accountant.
Yes, taxes are being taken out. I'm not sure if the amount is accurate, judging solely by calculations I ran using the tax bracket. However, it is close.
It is a government job, but I think it's more state than federal. The benefits are nice and so are the environment and people. I'm definitely fortunate on that end.

KungfuRabbit
I think we have different definitions of a free ride. The college I went to was affordable and a walking distance from home. The scholarships I received to pay for it were earned through working hard in high school (though I admit I could have worked harder). My parents didn't give me a penny during my four years of attendance, but I did get free food, shelter, and transportation (they wouldn't let me walk home at night because they think it's dangerous). It was free, but only because I put in the effort to make it free.

My mom is probably worried because where I live is in the top 5 for most dangerous biking states in the country and the easiest street out of my neighborhood is known for having wrecks (we moved to a different city half a year or so after college was over for me).

The real world comment is one of those things I heard as a child that made me not want to work. I can't really comment about whether or not I've experienced it or if I'm in it right now, but I feel like your perspective could be valuable. Please pm me if you feel like ranting about some real world issues I've been avoiding. I'd be happy to learn from it.

Laura33
I limited my job search to places within 40 minutes from home, thinking it was worth driving that distance. That covers a lot of cities and locations, but maybe using online job application sites was my biggest mistake. If you have any suggestions for looking for jobs more effectively, please let me know.

Thanks for the advice.

2Birds1Stone
Nice. Are all of the jobs in your area like that (in other words, is that normal where you live)? Here, I'd say that is unbelievable. About what my parents make together per year if I had to guess.

plog
1. 15K is my take home. I earn 19K per year.
2. Okay.
3. Before I learned about early retirement, I had no motivation to work. I thought I didn't need money for anything besides my hobbies, which could easily be paid for with a part time job. (Indeed, my highest expense right now is my car, which I use almost exclusively to get to work). I also thought that once I started, I'd have to work for the rest of my life as my parents seem to be doing. Had I known about early retirement, I would have cared more about earning more money so I could retire sooner, help my mom get out of her student loan debt ( debt in general was another thing I knew nothing about until I discovered early retirement, ironically enough) and live a life of luxury by my standards (30-40K per year). Why didn't I research it sooner? I was so afraid of the idea of working that I didn't even want to research things related to it. All due to word of mouth.
As for being able to change things, you could say that's why I'm here asking for help.
4. I'm glad you agree and thanks.

jwright
Working for government.
Trying to find another place that'll help me become a CPA sounds like a great idea. Hopefully with a year of experience, they might be more willing to hire me.
Thanks.

czr
No, I'm not sick of it. What I meant by rotting away at work wasn't that I hated the job. It was that the job wasn't giving me any work to do at the time, so I started finding practical ways to pass the time.
My job has been getting more and more exciting each week and my coworkers seem to enjoy my company. I imagine that by the time I ever find a better job, it'll be hard to go.

However, I really need more money like you said. Thanks for the advice.

2Cent

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Re: Advice Looking Forward
« Reply #12 on: July 31, 2017, 11:31:09 PM »
Well, that seems to be more reasonable. Indeed it is better to have a low paying job than a year gap on your resume. Just think of it as a well paid internship before your really start to work.

Some tips. If you like video games, browsing the web, or watching TV, stop all those things at once and use your time to either build your skills or network or qualifications. It's not forever, but those time suckers will cost you more that you can imagine. This is a critical time that you should use to set your trajectory for life. Use the money that you manage to save to go to courses, conferences, job interviews far away etc.
If you can manage this for a year or so you'll probably be able to get a much better job and benefit for life. Also, working is much more fun when you are good at it. I always thought accounting was boring, until I talked to a guy who was deciding 100 million dollar valuations during a merger. So even accounting can be a challenging high stakes profession if you get to a higher level.
Last tip, don't just focus on accounting skills. Also train your communication skills, job interview skills and networking skills. These will determine your income much more than anything else.

Larsg

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Re: Advice Looking Forward
« Reply #13 on: August 01, 2017, 12:06:08 AM »
First - I agree w/all that Laura33 said. Great advice. you have to start somewhere. At the same time, for those just coming out of school, there is so much you don't know so this is all good and necessary learning.

As to more effective ways to apply for jobs online: Do some research and think about the companies you would like to work at or where you would like to live. Each year, Fortune Magazine publishes the http://fortune.com/best-companies/ the best companies to work for. Take a look, check out the company websites and see if any of these spark your interest. Also, you could think about combining your skill with areas of interest - so accounting combined with creating or improving products looks like working at Intuit - creator of Turbo Tax and Quickbooks. Great firm. Bay area is expensive but they also have a presence in Tucson AZ. Big Corps pay for relocation so don't let location inhibit your search. Or working for a company the creates Gaming looks like applying for accounting jobs at Microsoft in the Home and Entertainment Unit.

Have fun exploring where you would like to work and live. Go to Linkedin and make sure your profile is up to date if not, search in people for accountants and also look up your colleagues you respect the most :) at work and get some examples how they are presenting themselves and update. Then from your list, pull up each company and do a search for accounting jobs. Apply for all those that look interesting to you. Some will direct you to the company website and just go thru the process no matter how cumbersome. Sign up for company alerts on their websites and respond to every recruiter. For each interview, even if it does not advance, thank them with a nice letter to keep you in mind for the future and add them to your linked in network. Start building your network and these people can help you for years to come.

Before getting hung up on worring about what you have not done or wish you knew or what the other guy is making, remember this..you are young - what so many of us wouldn't give for that gold. Take a step back, explore, let a corporation pay for you to learn and see the world...that is what i did. I just discovered M's in my late 40's but do not regret for one moment all the learning I have had through the years. You now get to explore plus have all the knowledge of the possibilities from this forum - how cool is that.

Two final points: Always max out your 401K. Even in lean years, never give up the company match. That is total free money so take it. And, being willing to relocate has always been a fast path to more money in my career. It also allows you to test out different environments so then you will get a sense of exactly where you want to be when you FIRE.

Best of luck and keep us posted.




« Last Edit: August 01, 2017, 12:12:08 AM by Larsg »

MommyCake

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Re: Advice Looking Forward
« Reply #14 on: August 01, 2017, 04:51:59 AM »
I think it's great you've already got your foot in the door at a government job.  In my state, NJ, once you're in it's relatively easy to transfer/change positions.  There's also usually a pretty defined path for advancement.  If you like your work environment, I would encourage you to talk to your boss about how to get promoted and increase your income.  Is overtime available?  Will you be eligible for a step or grade increase automatically?  If not, to be competitive for promotion  you may have to take more classes in the evenings, and you may have to be willing to change locations.  Talk to your boss and let him or her know you're very interested in moving up quickly.

fluffmuffin

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Re: Advice Looking Forward
« Reply #15 on: August 01, 2017, 10:37:44 AM »
MustRetireEarly, remember that this is a starting point--it's not your end point. It's going to be so much easier for you to get your next job, now that you have this one on your resume and aren't a fresh grad anymore. It seems like you're being really hard on yourself right now, but please take a step back and try to frame your choices as, "I was making the best choices that I could with the information that I had available." Well, now that you have the benefit of experience and exposure to MMM, you know better, and you know what would want to do differently moving forward. So do it!

FWIW, I started out making a similar salary to you: $20k gross my first year out of school, $21k the year after that, and less the next two years because of grad school. I don't regret having taken that job--I had to learn how to manage money, and it gave me very valuable professional experience. I make solid money for my area now, with even better benefits.