Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Best Money Advice You Will Get for Your 20s

What’s crack-a-lackin’ everybody?  Today I have a seed of a post for you.  Seed is the perfect word to use, in fact, as the idea for it originated from a CCM blog reader with an excellent question.  I like getting emails with questions because it gives me insight of the outside…you know…what everyone else is thinking out there.  It’s also a “seed” of a post because the target audience is people in their 20’s…young seeds they are these economically challenged twenty-somethings!  I turned twenty at UC Santa Barbara—and good luck to my Alma matter’s baseball squad (Gauchos!) at the NCAA tourney in Lake Elsinore, CA.  I was a transfer student from San Jose City College, reppin’ the bay, the Dubs (Go Warriors!), and East Side San Jose.  These were the best years of my young adult life.  But enough about me, I want to share the question I received via email with you and begin answering it:

5/29/15: 5:17 AM PST
Your 20s are typically the perfect time to start planning for retirement, but sometimes life gets in the way. What did you do successfully in your 20s, or if you could go back in time, is there anything you would have done differently to ensure a better financial future sooner in life? In a post on Common Core Money, I would love to hear your thoughts on how you could've built your financial safety net in your 20s better--and how you can start it now if you haven't already. What would be your ideal retire at 65 plan?

This question was very timely.  I kid you not, I was thinking of writing a consolidated post about these two articles: 10 Money Moves You Need to Make in Your 20s and 10 Money Moves You Need to Make in Your 30s, both by Maryalene LaPonsie (what a unique name, no?) at Yahoo Finance, just two days ago when I discovered them.  I’m not going to fashion an interesting post about money moves in your 20s AND 30s now, electing instead to deeply focus on my reader’s question.  I’d like to start by engaging your mind with a little exercise.  From the question above, what are the money matters and issues this reader points out that you would highlight?

I would highlight…

planning for retirement (1)
...ensure a better financial future sooner in life (2)
built your financial safety net in your 20s better (3)
ideal retire at 65 plan (4)  

Were these some you highlighted as well?  

1 and 4 both deal with retirement planning and having a framework of action.  2 and 3 deal with decision making now, or at minimum as soon as possible, so that the big overall goal gets met.

I would love to be able to give you a cookie cutter response, and be done with it.  For example, I could just tell you to Google: “Money Moves to Make in Your 20s,” and send you on your way.  Or I could Google this, read as many of the first page (most popular) Google articles as possible, take notes, and paraphrase.  That is not me!  I was asked for my personal take on this, not someone else’s.  Now, what I’m about to share and suggest 20-year-olds do will not all be “money moves.”  Most twenty-year-olds I know are playing chess missing their queen and knights.  However, if they take heed of what I’m about to disclose, they may be able to one day marry or become a queen, and buy two noble knights.

Me in my 20s at Santa Ynez student housing.  No doubt full of myself.  Wasted hours at the UCSB recreation center gettin' buff.  Look at my right pocket…that's a pager, remember them?

The biggest financial mistake I made in my twenties, from the age of 20 to 25, was…

being financially illiterate.  I was a money ignoramus.  I thought I knew what I was doing, but boy was I ever stuck in The Matrix.  I was in college, earning a Bachelor’s of Science in Bio, and then a Masters in Ed, not investing a single dime during this time.  Graduating from the UCSB School of Education in 2001 made me feel on top of the world.  I would be set for life working as a teacher, I thought.  Stupid me!  Sometime around age 25, I realized that I didn’t have a complacency type of personality.  Mind you, by Mexican immigrant standards, having earned a B.S. in Bio, a Masters in Ed, and a science teaching credential at 24, no one would ever say I had underachieved!

It was this same exact immigrant success drive that kept putting a bug in my ear: it is not enough...there is so much more you can do…so, is this it for you?

I was at a Starbucks in downtown San Jose with my ex-wife in 2002, who was also a high school teacher by the way, when a young African-American man in his twenties approached us.  He was dressed very nicely, carrying a notebook, and a copy of Rich Dad/Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki.  He started to talk to us about joining his business.  My wife and I looked at each other, a bit embarrassed for this young man (though now it is I who am embarrassed to relate this story to you) for trying to pitch us what I had been programmed to call back then, “a pyramid scheme.”  We told this young man (a network marketer) that we were both teachers, as in, leave us alone already, and that we didn’t need whatever it was he was selling.  And the young man left, thanking us for our time.  I wish I could go back to the young man I was back then, and shake him.  Tell him: Carlos, even if you think all is gravy, listen intently to people you think are turkeys!  You never know when you may learn something new.  If it weren’t for my literary curiosity, I would never have picked-up a copy of Kiyosaki’s best-seller and realized one extremely important thing about myself: I am deep down a member of Camp Wealth, not Camp Rich.  Figure out who you are, Spartan or Roman, my Millennial friend!

Now we can turn to Maryalene LaPonsie’s article (20s) and analyze her 10 moves as either in support of Camp Rich or Camp Wealthy:

Suggested Money Move
Camp Rich or Camp Wealthy?
Start a Retirement Account, Pronto!

Invest Your Money Aggressively

Write down short-term, midterm, and long-term goals

Plan to Pay cash for Everything

Create a Budget that Supports Your Goals

Save an Emergency Fund

Pay off Your Debt

Skip Insurance You Don’t Need

Don’t Spend Your Money on Stuff you don’t Need or that Won’t Last

Forget everything society tells you a grown-up should do

 Answers: 1) CR, 2) CR & CW, 3) CR & CW, 4) CR (use of available leverage is an acceptable CW move, 5) CR, 6) CR (CW’s are funneling every available dollar to their entrepreneurial ventures), 7) CR (same as #6), 8) CR & CW, 9) CR & CW, & 10) CR & CW

Do you see now that in order to make your 20s have impact, you need to before anything else, figure out who you are?  It makes absolutely no sense to give you cookie cutter advice because whether you like it or not, your future from here on out depends on what you want to see in the mirror at age 65, and smile back at!

This is a lot to digest.  It’s a huge epiphany of sorts.  And it is scary.  You may be in college now reading this.  Along from having to declare a major, now I’m telling you that what’s even more important is you doing everything in your power to assess your money personality and pick a side.  Sure, no one says you can’t switch camps in the future.  But because time is of the essence, it is best to discover whether you’re a CR (Spartan) or a CW (Roman) as soon as possible.

I discovered I was a Roman at 25 one year into my teaching career, from a chance encounter, and I wish I’d known sooner.

I’m going to let you meditate on this and come back to the money moves I should’ve made in my 20s on a later post.  Let me summarize the money mindset moves I shared with you using experiential story-telling, in case you missed them.

  1. Become financially literate.  Read books on securities investing, entrepreneurship, business, real estate, e-commerce, and if you’re really green, on how credit and financing work.  Read this stuff like you’re in prison and have nothing else to do.
  2. Listen.  Stop your yapping and listen!  I talked way too much in my early 20s and didn’t listen enough to people.  Don’t be afraid to be pitched or prospected by business builders.  Even if you don’t think it is for you, you can learn sales techniques, oration, and what is out there that is being offered, from business builders.
  3. Be reflective about your money personality.  Are you in college and have realized you are really a Camp Wealthy member?  Oh boy!  Is Camp Rich more like you?  Either team is okay; just choose quickly whether you want to battle life holding a spear (Spartan) or a sword (Roman).

Do yourself a favor! Learn from the master:

Friday, May 29, 2015

How to Tell If You Want To Be Rich or Wealthy

Would you rather travel by water or land?

What’s shakin’ everyone?  Today I have a battle of epic proportions for you.  I’m paving a road that splits in two directions, and you have to decide once and for all, which path to take.  I made my decision a long time ago, at 25, one year into my teaching career.  Thirteen years later, I’m convinced I made the right choice, even though I’ve yet not accomplished my ultimate goal.  What is my ultimate goal?—to have enough passive income coming in to replace my salary ($5,500) and leave the rat race.  Because the cost of living goes up, inflation and all, I figure I will need around $8,500/month in passive income to live comfortably through retirement as I am doing now.  The quest for more income producing assets continues…

In a world where the poor are plentiful and the self-made millionaires get to preach, there are seemingly endless paths to take toward a financial goal.  I’m here to tell you that despite all of the noise being made by droves of financial columnists, bloggers, gurus, etc., there are really only two paths you can take with respect to money: Toward being Rich or toward being Wealthy.  

People mistakenly use rich when meaning wealthy, and wealthy when meaning rich.  In, 22 Money Secrets Your Millionaire Neighbor Won't Tell You, I shared a link that explained the difference between the two.  Why I’m focusing on it again is quite simple.  I want you to stop wasting time reading the wrong type of article or following the wrong money General.   
Speaking of money General, to make my point clear to you that there are really only two camps, Camp Rich or Camp Wealthy, go Team Edward!...I’ve always liked vampires over werewolves…I am going to showcase two champions of either camp, cause, call it what you will.
In the red corner, we have Mr. Money Mustache:

Peter Adeney (I had to Google: “What is Mr. Money Mustache’s name?” to get his name as I did not know it) is a personal finance blogger many of you may follow.  He refers to his soldiers as “mustachians,” and he’s a Spartan.  By Spartan I mean that Mr. Money Mustache, no sense in calling him Peter as his branding is not in the name, follows the ancient Spartan lifestyle of minimalism and simplicity.  The Spartans were much more than an elite warrior society!  In, Why should I be frugal, when I'm so rich?, MMM communicates his personal philosophy, and as can be seen from the headline, it is no mystery that his cause is You joining Him at Camp Rich.  Before I go any further in my analysis of MMM and others like him, I want to present to you Camp Wealthy’s champ.

In the blue corner, we have another money General I have repeatedly written about at CCM blog.  It is none other than Mr. I will teach you to be rich, Ramit Sethi.

It's interesting that Mr. Sethi chose the word “rich” to be part of his site's name because when you watch videos, or read his emails or articles, becoming rich per se is not really what he preaches.  In fact, he was criticized and called a snob for switching teams, so to speak, early in his branding career.  Although Mr. Sethi wants you to make a ton of money, he is NOT a minimalist, and “simplicity” is only what he believes the task of becoming wealthy can be if you become his soldier.  Mr. Sethi is a modern day Roman…a visionary who believes in carving out an empire.  Just read his about Ramit page and you will understand why he’s a Roman and not a Spartan as is MMM.

For every Roman, there are at least 10 Spartans.  And what I’m basically saying here is that Camp Rich is densely populated, and promoted much more than is Camp Wealthy.  Why is that?  You may decipher from the comparison below:    

Battle at Common Core Money Blog Circa. 2015

Belligerents: Spartans vs Romans
Generals: Mr. Money Mustache (Sparta) and Ramit Sethi (Rome)

Which side do you fall on?  If nowhere, who will you join?

Camp Rich
Camp Wealthy
Save for Retirement
Save to buy or start a business
Invest in stocks and bonds to grow a nest egg
Invest in stocks to make more money to buy passive income producing assets like real estate
Stay Diversified
Concentrate on a few stocks that will result in the most gains, sell, and repeat
Live within their means, philosophy of frugal living
Live within their means so long as it doesn’t compromise their empire building
Are realists
Are dreamers
Believe in education
Formal education is not necessary
Make safe and prudent choices with money; avoid risk if possible
Make and take calculated risks; taking risks comes with the territory
Drive four door economy sedans until it is more expensive to fix than to buy a new one
Drive any vehicle in working condition until they “make it,” and once they do, they don’t buy a four door economy sedan
Don’t mind the rat race provided they are socking away or growing their money
Hate and loathe the rat race!  It sickens them to have to be part of it
Have to work doing something even if it isn’t a conventional job.  Substituted a rat race job for another, must keep up or ultimately starve, undertaking
Don’t have to work anymore; they have enough passive income coming in such that if they maintain their lifestyle, they will be just fine
Start early and utilize compound interest
Never too late to start
Hard, consistent work for 30+ years
Extremely hard work for less than a decade; move onto something else if it doesn’t work
Side-hustle using someone else’s platform
Create their own hustle, are entrepreneurial
Financial security and freedom
Financial Independence
Love by giving ongoing help and support/coddle you
Love by being brutally honest and tough/shake you
Celebrated for their rich aspirations
Vilified for their wealth aspirations

There are certainly more contrasting characteristics than what I have listed above, but I think these are enough to provide a lucid depiction of Camp Rich and Camp Wealthy.

Whether you feel it happening or not, there really is a battle going on between Camp Rich of Sparta and Camp Wealthy of Rome.  The various Generals of each faction are after your hearts, minds, time, and attention.  My analysis is to help you see when you are being pitched a Camp Rich or a Camp Wealthy philosophy.  Don’t waste time reading from an opposing camp’s war journal unless you want to see the other side’s battle tactics.  

I, myself, belong to Camp Wealth though this blog is more of a hybrid, albeit weighted more toward Camp Wealth (70:30, I’d say).

You may have already decided the philosophy of money most suitable to your personality.  If it isn’t making you happy or keeping you satisfied, there is nothing wrong with switching camps.  Both camps have outstanding Generals, and so the choice of path to stay on or take is up to you.  The worst you can do is look out at the diverging road and stay put out of fear.  Spear or sword?  Grab a weapon!

This has been Camp Wealth General, C. Osvaldo Gomez, reporting from the battlefield. If you liked what you just read, I can dispatch more battle tactics your way when you subscribe to this war journal. Carlos, out!
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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

9 Highest Paying 2-Year Degree Jobs Ranked with Openings And Growth

What's uppers everybody?  Last Thursday I shared some well-received information on the top 25 paying jobs with the most openings and I fancied it with charts and ranks.  I'm bringing another useful enhancement of an article I caught today: 9 Highest Paying Jobs With A 2 Year Degree.  Articles like these are perfect to string people along, one click at a time, wasting everyone's time.  And they're always so wordy, aren't they?  I looked for two things when I clicked on each page, 1) The job title and 2) The salary amount, skipping all the other stuff.  It wasn't career day in my brain so I didn't much care about the job descriptions, though this may be useful to others, especially after reading this post here.

Five Careers that Only Require an Associate's Degree | The Touro ...

I took the liberty once again as I did last Thursday of gathering the most salient input from the 9 pages and creating something visual that's easy to comprehend: A chart!  I started by ranking the 9 jobs by median salary.  Here you go:

RankJobMedian Salary $
1Air Traffic Controller122,000
2Radiation Therapist77,000
3Nuclear Technician73,000
4Dental Hygienist72,000
5Funeral Service Director66,000
6Registered Nurse65,000
6Magnetic Resonance Imaging Tech65,000
7Web Developer62,500
8Electronics Drafter56,000

Air Traffic Controller tops the chart at a whopping $122K!  That is incredible pay…so much that it makes you ask, Why are employers willing to pay so much to Air Traffic Controllers?  Is it simple economics, i.e., not enough supply out there to keep airport control towers staffed, resulting in jacked-up pay to force create a market?  This Yahoo answer string starts to shed some light: Why do air traffic controllers make bank?

Taking a page out of's article, I wanted to find out how many openings there are for each job.  I used the job search site, Indeed, to look for current job openings (nationwide) as if I were seeking employment today.  I also refined my searches so that the exact title of the job came up each time.  When searches weren't clear enough, I clicked on the employer ad and made sure the offering was for the job type I was looking for, not some other one lumped in the category.  Here are the 9 jobs ranked by openings found today:

RankJobOpenings as of 5/26/15
9Air Traffic Controller23
8Magnetic Resonance Imaging Tech98
7Radiation Therapist134
6Funeral Service Director148
5Electronics Drafter440**
4Nuclear Technician940*
3Web Developer1,677
2Dental Hygienist2,799
1Registered Nurse10,725
* = The job did not come up in search as titled at or other top job search sites.  This is a best guess from a query at  **Search was inconclusive at, used

The highest paying job, Air Traffic Controller, has the fewest job openings nationwide.  There were so few of them, I clicked on the listings and found that most of them were being offered out of Houston, TX.  This wouldn't bode well for someone acquiring an associates degree in air traffic controlling who didn't live in Texas, and wanted no part of the Lone Star state.  "All my Ex's live in Texas!"  Speaking of Houston…let's pray that raining stops and people are okay.

I wanted to depict one last data point: Growth outlook for these careers.  Not everyone is going to be done with a two-year degree in these fields come this month.  Some people may just be starting out.  For this data, I went back to the BLS site.  According to the BLS, the average growth rate for ALL occupations is +11%.  In "Job Outlook, 2012-22," the BLS projects the percent change in employment for ten years.  Here are the results:

RankJobJob Outlook, 2012-22
9Air Traffic Controller1%
8Electronics Drafter2%*
7Funeral Service Director12%
6Nuclear Technician15%
5Registered Nurse19%
4Web Developer20%
3Magnetic Resonance Imaging Tech21%
2Radiation Therapist24%
1Dental Hygienist33%
*Was N/A at the BLS site.  Used: Drafter.

The job outlook for air traffic controller for the next seven years looks dismal.  Meanwhile, if you want to be in a career that will boom, Dental Hygiene is the path to take.  Now let's consolidate.  I will show you one last chart where I average the ranks of each career to give you the pound-for-pound best highest paying two year degree job.  Here you go:

1Dental Hygienist42170.26
2Radiation Therapist272110.41
3Registered Nurse615120.44
4Nuclear Technician346130.48
5Web Developer734140.52
6Funeral Service Director566170.63
7Magnetic Resonance Imaging Tech683170.63
8Air Traffic Controller199190.7
9Electronics Drafter858210.78

The clear winner, and decisively at that, is Dental Hygienist.  If you don't mind the single most disgusting thing in the world, the human mouth, then being a DH is for you!  You'll be cleaning teeth all day, but at least you won't be debt ridden from having undertaken a full Bachelor's degree course.  You'll make excellent pay, and you will find jobs easily for the next decade almost.  Teeth aren't going anywhere.

And with that…I'm off.  I hope you have enjoyed dissecting the best two-year careers currently available just as much as I have.  To continuously get great informative financial literacy posts, please subscribe to my blog (top left sidebar).  Thanks for reading! Peace out!  Carlos.