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Posts Tagged ‘Income’

Sinking Ship

Oh wait. I meant INTERNSHIP. Same difference, eh?

It’s hard to find an internship. I’m on the young-ish side of applicants, still have a couple of years before I graduate, etc. Most companies look for students entering their senior year, and use the internship as a ten week tryout for full time hires. I found one position, had an interview that went well — and then actually learned about what it entailed, from other students and through some negative reviews online.

Selling insurance and financial products on commission? No thanks.

That just felt wrong to me. I don’t want my income to depend on pressuring someone’s grandma to buy mediocre products. While I like making money telling others what to do (why hello, consulting!) I felt like taking such a position could even look a bit “shady” on my resume down the road.

So I’m debating a crazy idea in my head. What if I worked for myself this summer? I think I could make a sizable sum through tutoring local students, selling things on eBay, setting up an etsy shop (!!), picking stocks, freelancing, and other creative activities. Oh, and I’d blog about it, so that it would be a well-documented project for curious future employers. I would be able to stay at home, and volunteer for either a senate or a governor political races, living in a “hot” 2010 state. (Campaigns are not what I want to do in the long run, but I’m genuinely interested in politics and have clear choices for both elections.)

Money’s not a huge deal for me.  My parents will feed me even if my income is on the teeny side. (I have enough shoes to last a good decade, too.) I have been working on setting long-term financial goals; I think that I could make a sizeable income with crazy-plan above, and probably come a lot closer to creating diversified and passive streams of income.

[Summer school is not covered under my current scholarship money; with 80+ credit hours under my belt, that’s not a very necessary or appealing proposition.]

This could be interesting. One great thing is that I have two 40-hr/week summer jobs from high school, in addition to tutoring and newest photography gig, so my work experience is there.  So far, my resume is fairly plump with leadership positions, volunteering, — hopefully taking the summer “off” from traditional activities wouldn’t stick out like a sore thumb.  I could probably also consider a school year position in marketing as a summer activity, too, tweeting and publishing away from the backyard patio.

Am I absolutely nuts… or might this hold some merit?!

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… for AT.

If he reads my list, it won’t come as a surprise — finance student that I am, most of my ideas for him to improve his money management are mentioned on a semi-daily basis. Don’t get me wrong — AT is a very smart and hardworking guy. His  school pays for the bulk of his educational expenses, and he makes a solid income working when not in school, at a job that will be very beneficial to his career.

The fact that he is a smart cookie makes it even more ridiculous that he lacks financial common sense; if anything drives me crazy, though, it’s his attitude towards money. For example,

Me: You’re ordering a third pair of speakers?

AT: Yep. Can I have them shipped to your house?

Me: Why on earth would you need a third pair? Now you have three!

AT: You’ll see when they come how much better they are!

In all fairness, he let me have pair #1 when buying the second set, which was a huge improvement over using the speakers built into my slowly-dying laptop. But then again, we have this conversation with a lot of purchases, especially things including “xbox” in the title and miscellaneous unnecessary purchases.

My suggestions for him in 2010:

  1. Make a maximum contribution to a Roth IRA. AT makes plenty of money to take care of living costs as a student and has enough left over to invest, yet is still in a very low tax bracket. There is no better time to start investing in a Roth IRA, since earnings can be withdrawn tax-free starting when he is 59.5 years old.
  2. Read. Go to the library and pick a financial advice and planning book. While he certainly isn’t planning to go into financial services, being a well educated consumer is wise. (I wonder if he’d appreciate a subscription to Money magazine for Valentines’ Day?)  AT would probably make better financial decisions if he learned about inflation, the big bite taxes take out of his income, and how much hidden costs like car insurance cost. AT always consults his dad before making financial decisions — good policy, but I’m afraid that it’s often to avoid making his own move and seeing reality.
  3. Save. I’m not too picky about how this is done as long as it does indeed get done. One of his current accounts  is at a credit union with a fairly high rate of interest, but hasn’t grown much since the initial deposit. Transferring money out of a checking account is smart — if you don’t see it, you don’t find ways to spend it. For his chosen field, he’ll spend 7 years in a grad program where he receives a stipend, then have a fairly low income for a few more years — making good decisions now could make his budget during those years go a lot more smoothly.
  4. Open a credit card. Credit cards are not inherently evil when used properly — amassing debt is the actual problem, at which point credit card companies wring money out of the users. AT’s a man who should be able to understand how much money he has — or doesn’t have — to spend, and he should probably start building a credit history. Earning reward points for purchases is an added bonus. One idea might be that he gets a card like my Citi Forward (5x points on books and entertainment), but only uses it for items like textbooks that he really needs.
  5. Keep track of the cost of entertainment. I think he’d be amazed to see how quickly each video game, meal out, and iTunes download adds up. Ideally, some conservative changes would be made — selling the used video games on eBay, putting CDs on hold at the library, trying to make more meals himself — but I’m not holding my breathe on this one.
  6. Take advantage of good deals. I’m always encouraging AT to shop through Ebates, get an opening bonus on an account, etc., but he rarely follows through. I’ve made a surprisingly large amount of money when small actions are taken into consideration, and he can do the same.

I’m not trying to create radical change, but instead try to promote a more realistic attitude towards AT’s (and my, by proxy!) financial future. Do you think I am being reasonable?

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That’s something my mom and I often debate when I tell her that I’ve started ____ to save or earn money.

To test this, my trusty 2009 Excel spreadsheets showed —

Money earned —

  • $126 from selling 4 items through Ebay, Facebook Marketplace, and Half.com.
    I sold some software I never used, an XBOX 360 video game and college football tickets that I won, and a book that I purchased for a sociology class. I have a few more books listed that will hopefully be bought at the beginning of next semester. While the money earned is nice, I think this is mainly just a good way to get rid of stuff that has little value to me.
  • $100 opening bonus on my Citi Forward card. (I think I’ve spend under $400 on the card, total, ever. All of which is paid off monthly, of course.)
  • $60 in Amazon.com gift cards from Swagbucks.
  • $53 dollars in photo contest prizes.
    Much credit goes to the model (my parents’ yorkshire terrier), although I did spend a couple of hours preparing the entry..
  • $10 in Amazon.com gift cards from a post-purchase survey about rain boots I bought.

(I think all of this money-stuff was done from July–now.)

Works in Progress —

  • 1259 1289 MyCokeRewards (mycokerewards.com) points that I should really spend. I want to figure out which prize has the highest value to points ratio, first, though.
    Diet coke is my favorite — while soda is a waste of money, I figure that I might as well get as many rewards as possible out of it. (The points in my account have been accumulating for a couple years, with a lot of  help from AT who is also quite the diet coke drinker. I’ve also been known to take the 2L caps home to enter the codes after a party, too…)
  • ~3500 points on mypoints (enough for a $25 gift certificate, although I may wait until I have enough points for a $50 gift cert since the points-per-dollar ratio is lower. The lowest points per dollar giftcard is $50 to Macy’s, but their items have higher prices to begin with than other retailers so it may not be the best deal.)
  • 1200 frequent flyer miles on United. I just spent 1600 frequent flyer miles on two magazines.  The magazines probably aren’t a great deal  miles per cent wise, but I don’t plan on flying much anytime soon, and miles are notoriously difficult to use. Also, most of my trips are for business purposes and are free (to me, at least!)

Rebates

  • $441.23 $449.47 total, assuming nothing gets rejected. Remember to always keep photocopies of your slips, forms, UPCs just in case a problem arises.

While no where close to a full-time income, this isn’t too bad for here-and-there activities!

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Selling Stuff

I just listed another book from the past semester on Half.com. I think it took about 5 minutes this time, as opposed to about an hour the first time while figuring everything out.

I’ve gotten a lot of textbooks from sites like eBay — this is coming from someone who’s pretty picky about smells/looks/whatnot. I like a good price, but even spending a dollar on something unsatisfactory is wasteful.

Things that I mention in the listing (based on what I normally ask a seller if I’m buying)–

  • No smoking, food stains, or mold
  • Pages are not dog-eared, cover is not torn
  • No scribbling, in ink, pencil, highlighter, or otherwise.
  • Are there notes in the book? (Usually a no for me, although I did have a few sociology books crying out for annotations last semester.)
  • How well I am going to pack the book to ensure that USPS doesn’t trample it (free USPS flat rate shipping supplies?)

Honesty is the best policy of course. I’d also recommend delivery confirmation to prevent funny business, just in case. ;)

I try to schedule listings to end on an evening between Sunday – Thursday, on the assumption that people are more likely to go out on Friday or Saturday.

Keeping seasonality in mind is a good idea, too. I sold a video game at the beginning of December since it was more likely to fetch a high price as a Christmas present (greater demand, higher price — law of supply and demand.)

Similarly, my mom got a great deal on a Christmas crystal ornament the day after Christmas. She really loves the collectible line and will continue to enjoy the purchase for years to come, but less enthusiastic people would probably forget about the listing, being busy with the holidays and no longer being able to give the item as a gift.

Working on a new header, folks. This overly-introspective misty-bridge business has already gotten old.  As soon as I get up and build a new light box, Penny Couture will have it’s first unique theme!

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