Career Progression

iStock_000004301781XSmall-300x199Since graduating school (the first time around) about 6 years ago, I’ve been fairly focused on my career and been agressive at learning new skills to move forward. I’ve always done pretty well in terms of job and pay, but for the last year or so its been a bit stagnant. I’ve explored the idea of jumping ship, and watched job boards, but stated to realize that even though I felt a bit ‘stuck’, I had it pretty good.

It seems the hard work hasn’t go un-noticed, and several changes happened at work over the past few weeks. I’ll be picking up a few new direct reports under me, along with a couple new programs, wider control over the bigger picture of these programs, and a new title. From a career advancement point of view, its a solid move up for me, and rumor has it — though still being confirmed — it will come with a bit of a pay increase too.

Add on top of that, I’m in the early stages of running a project I’ve been waiting a solid 4 years for… and it looks like its going to come to life in no time.

The paradigm shift for me now is, going from doing work, to managing people to do the work. As a type-A control freak, this is going to be an interesting change. But I figure its something I have to learn to move ahead. And for the career path I’m on, being able to understand and manage it, is much more important then physically executing it myself. It puts me in a postion where I can lead strategy, rather than execute tactically. (which, looks to be much more financially lucrative too over time).

I’m not one to really freak out, but this does push me out of my comfort zone a bit. Having the responsibility of people, not only in terms of assigning work, but helping them with their career growth too is a big step for me. But, I think I’ve learned enough over the years to at least give some wisdom now and again.

With this change, it helps me re-focus my resume around having solid management experience, along with overseeing some pretty sizeable projects. This advancement has given me what I need to stick around for another year or two at work… and continue to build up my resume even further, making me much more competitive when it comes to competing for the ‘next level’ of jobs elsewhere.

Until then… its a welcome change, and we’ll see in time how it works out. But I’m fairly optimistic on this one, as I think it’s going to work out really well.

Market Tank!

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The stock market, over the past few days, have basically taken a turn for a worse. The good news is… I liquidated a lot of my positions back in July, and just sat on the money! The bad news is, the stuff I didn’t liquidate… is tanking.

While I hate to see the economy go into a free fall (we saw this waaaaay to recently just 2 years ago), I do like the opportunity to buy a bunch of stock again, at a low, and watch it climb over the following year.

As Warren Buffett said, “”Be Fearful When Others Are Greedy and Greedy When Others Are Fearful.”

Anyone have any game plan for the current financial situation? Hold onto existing? Liquidate? Invest for the first time?

Opportunity

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I mentioned the other day about the stock market tanking… well, it got slightly worse, with S&P downgrading the USA’s credit rating yesterday. But, being a 20-something, I can see the bigger picture. I’m no where near retirement, so any money I lose in the short run, I can make up over the long term.

Which brings me to the power of this opportunity. I can now buy stocks, at a discount and then wait for them to recover to make a return.

Add onto that, one thing a couple people I respect keep saying, is its time to fully run with this opportunity. And by that, the suggestion has been to get an investment line of credit, and put that into the market as well. So I play with even more money, and see bigger returns over time. Plus, interest rates are so low on a line of credit, that the return I’d have to make back to make it worth its wild is quite minimal.

Risky? Yes — afterall, the stock market is basically legalized gambling.

But, being young, from a financial perspective, its an interesting idea to ponder. I have a bank student loan with a $25k limit on it, where my interest rate it prime +1% (which is almost nothing). The loan is almost paid off… but I have access to it still, and can pull out the entire $25k and put it into the market. This would make my monthly payments about $150, which I can easily afford.

Now, the goal wouldn’t be to keep this 25k loan in the market for years, but rather, until the market recovers again. Would probably be a year in total. In which time, I’d cash out, and pay off the student loan all together.

I’d also go for fairly blue-chip stocks and mutual funds, and at most do $5k in any given company, as well as diversify.

I’ve been kicking myself in the last recession, that I didn’t jump on the chance aggressively enough. Now, it seems I have at least a bit of a do-over.

Is this smart, or is this too much risk to do?

Starting the Journey of Home Ownership

iStock_000000449579XSmall-300x199I’ve been kicking around the idea of buying a condo for the last few years, and am now really starting to look into it. While I don’t expect to buy a condo this year, I’m solidly down the path of being financially where I need to be. Over the remainder of the year, I’m going to do more research into the local market, and start educating myself on all things homeownership-ish.

What held me back over the last year was school — aside from the financial impact, the stress of home ownership on top of a full time course load, on top of a full time job, would have probably been too much. But, with school now done — its time to start getting more serious about it.

I’ve been talking with friends who have mortgages, and it looks like for my downpayment (about 40k at this time), and my income, I should be able to get around $300k in total for a home. Now, this sounds like a lot… But, with me wanting to live downtown (and I mean downtown, as in a few blocks from office buildings), it will buy just barley a 1 bedroom condo.

I could always go outside of downtown, but that means more commuting, and a bit of a shift in lifestyle. I’ve spent the last four years living downtown, and love it — the proximity to everything is amazing, there is always something to do, and the lifestyle in itself is great.  This is something I don’t want to give up… at least, not at this point.

I figure over the next few months I’ll start attending open houses, and start watching the MLS a bit closer. All of this, will be small steps towards owning my own place. Also at the same time, I’ll redouble my effort in saving money — so far, I’m doing pretty well, but I could do better.

Until then, I’ll keep contributing to my RSP’s and savings account, for when I’m ready to pull the trigger.

The last thing running around my head, is career wise and if I’m ready to jump ship to something else. I have a pretty solid job right now, but I’m going to have to make a move sooner or later, and I’d prefer to do so without a mortgage looming over my head.

Has anyone gone down the home-ownership route? Share your tips and suggestions in the comments below.

I love Tax Time

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Its that time of year, where everyone’s submitting their tax returns (hopefully) on time. I did mine the other day, and am quite pleased with the outcome.

First, I realized I made a bit more money in 2010 than I expected (yay), that I maxed out my RSP contributions (as expected), and had even more education deductions than planned (what I thought was ‘part time’ hours, was actually seen as ‘full time’ meaning higher deductions)

All in all, after all the info was entered, I came away with a $4,400 tax return. Its slightly less than last year, as I made more RSP contributions then (because of unused room), but its $4,400 to add to my financial plans. The money should be in my hands in the coming weeks.

(On a side note, I use ufile.ca to do my taxes online — no software, and its pretty straight forward. I highly recommend it. And, if you’re a student, you can find a student discount code somewhere)

Part of it, is already spent — one of the big purchases this year I was planning on doing, was replacing my laptop with a new MacBook — well, a couple weeks ago the new line came out, so I bought one. Now, I just need to sell the old one, for about ~$700.

The rest of the money, will be going into my RSP account. However, I’m still (really) tempted to dump it on my student loan.

How did you do this tax season? Better or worse than last year?