The Next Time You Fill Up Your Tank

11 06 2008

…Think about how many miles per gallon you get out of your coffee.

Your 87 Octane Gas costs about $4.00 a gallon, that “tall” Starbucks coffee in your hand costs about $18.00 per gallon.  Your mocha?… Closer to $30 a gallon.

Think About It.





Finding Opportunity in Disaster

29 05 2008

I am the luckiest guy in the world, I’m married to my high school sweetheart, today I turn 23, and yesterday I closed on my house an hour after I found out about a leak that flooded the front bedroom. 

Why do I consider myself lucky after closing on something that most people would have not closed on?  I consider myself lucky for two reasons.  The first is because I’m much luckier to have it happen before I move in, than to have it happen later, ruin furniture, and interrupt my life.  The second reason is because it allowed both sides to come back to the negotiation table. 

I wrote last week about how once the builder had my earnest money, I had no negotiating power.  This leak allowed me to get more.  Mary and I maintained a calm demeanor, we expected random issues like this (in fact almost this exact thing happened to my cousin’s new house after they moved in).  We decided what we wanted and went back to the table.  By no means were we greedy, but we decided that we wanted an extended warranty on the house and a guarantee for when everything would be fixed.  We got both, and closed.

If it had happened in two weeks I’d still consider myself lucky, because I have a fully funded emergency fund, a home warranty, and insurance for occasions like this.





Why Corporate Camo Is Necessary For Gen-Y

22 05 2008

It’s no wonder that many boomers and gen-xers think we are the worst generation.   We’ve had our helicopter parents swoop in and save us when we’ve gotten into rough situations, we’ve been told our whole lives that we should dream big and that we have the power to change the world (and we believe it!), and most of us have never seen our parents struggle so we “don’t know what it takes.”

Our elders look at those of our generation who decided to take “a year off” to travel, are still jobless because they haven’t found the right fit, on the 5-6 year plan, or moved home to live with their parents after graduation and they tell us that we have “failed to launch.”

I am not defending my generation in this regard.  I’m almost 23 (next week!), I have a wife, two dogs, and I’m buying a house.  At times I’m disgusted by my own maturity, but at other times I’m disgusted by the lack of maturity that many of my peers show.  I have made my decisions, and I am happy, others have made their decisions and I hope they are happy, but in order to change the world like we have been told and taught that we will do; some of us need to camouflage ourselves.

There are some great companies who realize that they need to adapt and appeal to us in order to thrive, you know who they are because you most likely researched them as a place you want to work.  But when the reality of being a college grad steps in and you don’t get your dream job, you’ll learn that at most companies it will be a struggle to make the company more gen-y compatible.  It will be a struggle that will last until we are in positions of power and can effectively fight for what we believe.  Until then we must fall into line, we must play the game, we must appeal to Gen-X and the Boomers.  We need to act more mature than we are and we will climb the ladder.  Then, when the time is right, we can grab the reigns and make the changes that are needed.

What this entails:

  • Do not allow your parents to involve themselves in your workplace.
  • Dress up.  If your dress code is business casual, wear dressy casual.
  • Stay clean cut.  Shave and get a haircut, long hair is not boomer compatible.
  • Imitate.  Older people love younger people that remind them of themselves.
  • Go out of your way to impress them.

I know this goes against much that we believe to be true and what many people try tell us about ourselves, but unless you work for one of the few companies that is truly gen-y compatible this cammo will be necessary to make the changes we want.  Our fault as a generation is thinking that we can have our dreams now, but we must realize that in order to achieve our dreams and the changes we wish to see we need to plot out a realistic path and work towards acheiving them.





Buying A House and Maintaining An Emergency Fund

20 05 2008

In 8 short days I will make the biggest purchase I am ever likely to make, I will be purchasing a new house.  And the closer we come to closing, the harder it is for me to practice what I preach.

Everywhere I look small “upgrades” are popping up that I know I can find cheaper elsewhere, or that I can do myself without having to pay the builders up charge for, and it pains me every time I give the go ahead for them to do something else when I know I’m being ripped off.  I can’t haggle with them, I’m not in a position to.  I already signed the contract to build the house and put down earnest money, so I’m at my builders mercy.

Why would I voluntarily get ripped off you might ask?  Because as I plan ahead for all of our upcoming expenses like drapes, blinds, rugs, random furniture (although we have most), deposits on utilities, moving costs… It’s easier to lump it all in and finance it so that I’m not out anymore cash after I seemingly drain my accounts at closing, because I will not allow us to dip into our emergency fund for these items.  Really the only thing we aren’t having them do that they can is hang our drapes and install our doggy door ($350 for something I can do myself in a hour is too much for me to bare).

At the end of the day, and especially as our country is testing the waters of economic uncertainty, emergency funds are too important to tap into for non emergencies.  And I’m proud to say that even though we may be paying an up charge on these items, our emergency fund will remain in tact and actually grow a bit due to the rolling in of some of our closing costs, so in the case of an actual financial emergency we will have money to keep us afloat.





Good Idea? Bad Idea?

16 05 2008

Last week I wrote a post about why you should share your ideas, with the bottom line being “If you’re scared you’re going to get screwed, you’re never going to get laid.”  In the comments Young and Frugal, and Brazen Careerist reader JRandom prompted me with a great question, which I will answer to the best of my ability.

So what happens after your ideas get a good listen and are rejected? Do you keep pushing them? Do you modify them in light of skeptical criticism? Do you take them elsewhere? Or what?

Throughout my entire senior year in college I poured my heart and soul into a business plan with three other people.  We knew our concept was amazing, and we all still believe it to be amazing.  I’ll even give you a three word pitch on it right now: Healthy Fast Food. 

We entered this plan into a few nationwide business plan competitions and everyone loved it, but we never won.  There are many valid reasons why we didn’t win, after all who wants to invest in a restaurant concept, with low margins, run by four college kids with no experience?  These flaws aside, the biggest thing I learned from this experience is that ideas (business plans in particular) are living, breathing, and growing things; they need constant attention and you can’t get ahead of yourself.  We met with investors and executives daily to pitch and pick their brains on our concept, which would lead to us re-writing our 30 page plan and reworking our powerpoint many many times.

For us, putting the plan aside was a matter of time and money.  We didn’t have the money to put into it, all of us would be jobless upon graduation, and 2 of us were getting married a month after graduation (my wife was on the team).

At the end of the day it all depends on how you feel about your idea.  Deep down, I think we all know whether our ideas are good or if they are crap.  The key is how much thought you have put into it’s execution.  How many people you have talked to about it, talking with other people gives you different perspectives.  Someone may find a fatal flaw in your plan, but if you have the passion for your concept you can work to find a solution. 

The bottom line is that we don’t possess our good ideas, they possess us.  Once you are possessed you have true passion to keep trying, when you are knocked down, you get up you take your passion to someone else to try again.

Howard Schultz was possessed by Starbucks.  He was possessed enough to pester them until they found a place for him in their company.  He was possessed enough to move from New York to Seattle.  And when he had the opportunity to buy and grow Starbucks, he was passionate enough to spend a year trying to raise $1.25 Million.  And it was his passion for his vision that led him to pitch the concept to potential investors 242 times, just to have 217 say no.  But in the end it didn’t matter that 217 said no, it mattered that about 30 said yes.  (Source)

What happens if you are possessed by a bad idea?  I don’t know, and sometimes people do just need to learn to give up, but next time you are in a plane, reach in the seatback in front of you and read the SkyMall magazine.  It’s full of them, and it goes to show that even some bad ideas can still make some money (assuming that people buy anything out of there).





Why You Shouldn’t Be Scared To Share Ideas

8 05 2008

 

A key trait of millennials is that we love to be entrepreneurial, we love to take on new tasks, but most of all, we need to know that our ideas are appreciated or at least given the time of day. Being a millennial, these traits are some of the main reasons why I started this blog.Jumping into the workforce where all of my co-workers and bosses are Gen-X and Boomers has been challenging. On one hand it really hasn’t been difficult to impress them, but on the other hand there is no free-flow of ideas. All the people around me seem to think that good ideas can’t come from the bottom of the corporation, and that they always come from the top. Needless to say, it has been a frustrating environment for a millennial to work in.

A couple weeks ago I had a Jerry McGuire moment at work and wrote somewhat of a manifesto for the company, and I must say that it felt great. And it felt even better when I shared it with my boss and I wasn’t fired, in fact he agreed with me! He then proceeded to fall into my generalization that good ideas only come from the top.

Never forget that the free-flow of ideas is something that millennials thrive on. We can build on each other, we can help each other, and maybe some people will start to listen!

All of this takes me back to a phrase that my entrepreneurship professor taught me (one that is impossible to forget):

If you’re scared you’re going to get screwed, you’re never going to get laid.

Vulgar, yes, but it’s also memorable and true. Say you have a business idea, but you’re too scared to share it with people. Then nothing will ever happen (unless you know every aspect…marketing, development, financing…). But say you start sharing it with people, maybe a rich old guy at Starbucks wants to invest, maybe your friend knows a few people who can help you out, or maybe someone helps you build on the idea. Either way, you’re ahead!

But what if someone steals my good idea? Why do you care if someone steals your idea? If it’s your idea I hope that you will have more passion for it than someone else. Sure, greed is a motivator for some, but businesses that are looking to cash in from the start rarely do well. Remember, you can’t fake passion. Entrepreneurs with a passion and a vision are the one’s that surpass expectations. What do Google, Yahoo, Craigslist, Dell, and Starbucks have in common? They all started out with passion and visions, and all are still run by the people that put them on the map. Did other people try to steal their ideas? Yes, absolutely they did, but the people who conceptualized from the beginning have done better. Also, remember that imitation is just another form of flattery. Note: Howard Schultz was not the founder of Starbucks, but it was his vision that grew it from a few stores to what it is today.

 

 





Live On Last Years Salary

6 05 2008

My wife and I have essentially been living as if we were making mortgage payments on our new house for the last 6 months, but instead of paying a mortgage (and taxes and insurance and Homeowners Association) it’s all been going into savings for our down payment.

We admit that we are stretching ourselves to buy our first house (I think that’s something that most people do), but as we are re-evaluating our budget (less than a month until we move in!) we have found ourselves looking forward to our raises in the fall (even if it just equates to a cost of living raise) because let’s face it…as much as budgeting is important, no one likes sticking to a strict budget, so we look towards the future at what we will be making and what we can spend (or save) at that point in time

I think our problem is that we are always looking to acquire more. We want more and don’t want to make sacrifices to get more.

As Mary and I caught ourselves looking forward at what we will be earning and what will increase in our budget I thought to myself, why not look backwards?

Why not live on last years salary? Say your salary was X last year and it increased to Y this year. If you live on last years salary and budget you inadvertently save Y-X all year. Then when your salary increases to Z you can live on Y and save Z-Y.

This concept allows you to save more and forces you to permanently (ideally) live below your means. It’s simple, but a great and easy way to save!