Time and Money

I have about a 3-4 month that I can keep living off my unemployment if everything goes well. I look at it as my grace period. Within that 3-4 months I need to be able to keep all my bills current. Renew my passport, and stand on my own 2 feet.

I think I will start investing money in the stock market even if it’s only a little bit at a time. I also decided to make all my credit cards current, and I think I can have 2 of them paid off before that time is out.

More importantly, I need to have my career almost set-up before that time is up. There’s so much to do! Now is not the time to be complacent.

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Dreaming and Strategizing

One of my lifegoals is to built my own house. For someone that was raised as a renter, owning a house has been a dream. I’m almost 30 and I’m still dreaming about it. Fortunately, since my other home is in a developing country, the cost of owning a land there is so cheap. So I turned that dream into a plan, by setting a rough estimate on how much it would cost me to build. Fortunately, my architectural background would enable me to build it on my own. I have ID background too so I can build my own furniture. But just for shits and giggles, I wanted to what kind of money it would take to just furnish a 1 bedroom/ 1 bath house. And my shopping list in Ikea is running about $6,000 at the moment. I can buy a small plot of land for about $3000 back home. If my built cost is the same as the larger number, I should be able to build my dream for about $15,000. That’s not even a downpayment for the United States City that I live in! So it sounds doable, but of course since I plan on building it myself, it means I’ll need to take some time off from working and just building my dream.

Considering, I’m still looking for a job, it feels unattainable at the moment. But it’s good to have a plan for it. Save $15,000 for my dream cabin/ tiny home. If I add another $5000 to turn whatever furniture I build for myself into a furniture line to sell, that means I just need to save $20,000. Easy peezy?

The first number for my goal seems set. Now I just need to figure out timing. How much time do I need to finish my dream cabin?

Savings Plan

I haven’t really set a budget, because I’m catching up on so many bills. But I know one thing for sure, is that in order for me to not be reactive, but instead proactive for my financial life, I need savings. I’ve read plenty of blogs about how to do this, and I do think that it’s something that should be designed for your lifestyle and goals.

My plan is slow and steady. For now, I’m going to deposit 10% of my weekly check to my Savings account the day after I get it. This way, Savings is the first thing I do with every check. I have a few things on collection, and few accounts that are not current to work on while I’m on this 10% plan. After I’ve paid the following things, I will up the percentage by 5% for my savings plan. And every time I’ve paid off something on collection, I will increase my savings budget by 1%. Until I have $3,000 in my Savings account. At which point, I’ll need to re-strategize my Savings goal. I think that’s a good number to have in my liquid savings minimum. After I have that amount, I’d like to re-examine what my debts are, and other savings goals and then re-strategize. It would still be important for me to keep contributing to savings in order to keep that habit, but I would like to have a more aggressive plan on saving for a real estate down payment/ retirement/ business capital/ travel/ wedding/ debt payment.

Plan:

  1. Pay off $500 debt to cousin.
  2. Have my Phone Bill current and no longer on ‘payment plan’
  3. Have my Power Bill current and no longer on ‘payment plan’
  4. Increase Savings Rate to 15% of income.
  5. Pay off Parking Ticket
  6. Pay off Ticket from a long time ago on [Collection]
  7. Pay off Credit One Card
  8. Pay off Capital One Card
  9. Check Credit Report and Re-strategize.

Off the top of my head these are my immediate needs. After all these are paid, I need to review and restrategize, I think this will be when I start tackling my student loans.

Barbara Corcoran

I didn’t think I could admire Barbara Corcoran more, until I finished listening to a podcast that interviewed her recently. It’s “How I Built This – Barbara Corcoran.” Things that I hope to remember the rest of my life:

1.Know how much time you have left based on the amount of $$$ in your bank account.

Hearing Barbara budget her cost of business based on the salaries of her employees really resonated with me. This is something that I vaguely practice. I know what I have and whether or not I have enough money in my bank to survive another month etc… But something about the way I’m doing it, doesn’t push me enough, while something about how she does it makes me want to do it her way. I’m not sure what the difference is, maybe it’s my personal finance versus her business. It’s probably more of a push for her since she’s got her employees depending on her, while I only have to take care of myself. Because of this knowledge though, as I dive into “self-employment” I think I’m going to look at things this way too. How much time will each of my accounts payable buy my business?

2. Recruit based on potential and then empower your employees.

In the beginning her staff, are people she’s interacted with that she thought had the potential to be a real estate agent. It’s baristas, waitresses, flight attendants that she connected with and empowered to work for her. This is something I want to do. I want to recruit based on people, instead of resume. I think I will need to, in the future if what I’m trying to do is develop an economy where most people didn’t really go to school. I do believe training is a responsibility that good employers take on.

3. After a certain amount, numbers and values don’t seem to mean much.

She put her company in the market expecting 1 Million ish, she got a call from a broker saying somebody made an offer for $23 Million. She rebutted with, “don’t call me back until you get a $66 Million offer” simply because it’s her lucky number. My take away for this is that, after a certain point the value of something is really what you think it’s worth to you. Don’t be scared to negotiate.

Barbara is somebody that I’ve always looked up to, and it was really more because she’s kind but fierce in shark tank. But after listening to her podcast, I respect her so much more because her successes are truly because of her street smart, and her go-getter attitude which is something I always thought I had.

 

Retrospect – Week 1

I think I’ve had this blog for a week! And even with the small change of talking about my finances and lifestyle, already makes me feel like I’m starting to claw my way out of the ground. As I’m thinking about my situation, I have such a long list of goals, plans, ideas, budgets, strategies. But to be completely honest, I don’t think I can fulfill all of them if I tackle each of them at once. Remember how I said I’m going to focus?

So instead of changing my lifestyle drastically in order to keep a budget, I’m going to start with 1 small change each week.

Next week, 3 habits I’m going to build would be:

  1. Save on Mondays
  2. Spend on Fridays
  3. Track Expenses

I think these habits would lead up to being a prioritizing saving over other expenses. Keeping and maintaining a budget, and also knowing where my money goes. It’s steps I need to take to better strategize in the upcoming weeks.

Wish me luck! and keep me accountable guys!
-S

Today was a win!

My past employer was not a good place to work so I quit. I’m not one to use social services provided by my country, but this time I was left with no choice but to claim unemployment. And it was approved. Not only that, the letter actually said that my past job was doing illegal activities and therefore my reason for quitting was a valid one.

I feel bad for telling on them, but at the same time I was way too weak and complicit. I can’t be like that anymore. What was it they say? It’s easy for evil to win, if good guys do nothing? Also, their illegal activities – not paying employees on time – really affected my financial situation! So thank you government for the support. I won’t take advantage I swear. As soon as I have a new job or contract, I will stop my claims. It’s time to untangle that horrible knot that, is my financial life. Today was a win.

Life Lesson: If your employers don’t treat you well, quit. Because the government has your back, especially if it’s something as basic as not paying you on time.

On Self-Employment

I mentioned that I got laid-off/quit because my previous employer never paid me on time right?

That event is big… because I’m in debt and will turn 30 this year. But It’s great because it makes me feel so uncomfortable, I’m pushing myself to the edges. With that said, here’s some quick rants on what I’ve learned so far as I try to be self-employed.

Read your Contracts!
– So many companies use templates from the web, that they fail to change basic info such as location, names etc. This is of course a no-go.
– Negotiate the terms. I’ve been talking to a prospective client for over a month, it seems like it’s going somewhere, but I’ve never in detail told them basics of getting paid. In order to compromise. I’ve accepted the NET-30 payment terms they suggested, but reiterated that I need a deposit before I even start anything.

Big Lesson of the Day:
During the ‘dating phase’ of getting consulting work, make sure to be very clear about your payment terms. Put this in your project proposal! So that when it comes down to signing contracts, there will be less amendments.