Upgrade Skills?

During the last few weeks, I have been debating if I should upgrade my skills at my current position at work by taking some extra classes during the evenings with the possibility of gaining a certificate in my field. Currently, I am having a hard time figuring out  if the extra money invested in education will be worth it in the long run in terms of my overall financial health.

The position I am currently in doesn’t have the most room for growth available without furthering my eductation as the industry I work for is very specific. I currently enjoy the field I work in but it will not be something I would want to do until retiremement. This has nothing to do with the job I am currently working for as it is more myself and the need to be free from work eventually. Since I am expecting higher pay by upgrading my skills, I am hoping this will result in more money saved and a faster road to financial freedom.

After viewing all of my options, I have broken them down to the following:

Option 1: Upgrade my Skills by furthering my eductation

This requires the most money from the 3 choices but can prove to be the most beneficial in the long run. I can realistically expect at least a slight increase in pay and more opportunities of getting a better job in the future if all doesn’t go well at my current employer.

Option 2: Look for a higher paying job

I tend to find this a little risky since the job I am currently in has been tolerable for the most part compared to jobs I had in the past. However, there is always something better out there and I might find some luck if I look hard enough.

Option 3: Wait it out

I work for a pretty big company so there is bound to be some form of opportunity in the future. I just feel that I have more potential in terms of responsibilities and income and feel the need to act now in investing in my career by upgrading my skills.

With classes starting in September, I have some serious thinking to do in order to come to the conclusion that I feel comfortable with and feel that will truly help me financially. Here’s hoping that I make that right choice!

Life Expectancy and Our Retirement

A big issue that is gaining a great deal of attention is the life expectancy of an average human being and how it has been slowly increasing in today’s age. With modern health practices, medicine and the latest in technological developments, the average adult life leading towards the ripe old age of 100 is becoming quite possible.

While this is great news, it can be quite worrisome when you throw retirement into the mix. 65 is the age most people aim to retire and many more are planning to retire at 60 and earlier. I for one am aiming to retire somewhere in my early 50’s and hopefully even leave the workforce much sooner if I can get a viable business up and running whatever it may be. One thing I am cautious about is the possibility of living 40+ years without an income from a job. It seems that us future retirees will have to be more strategic in the coming years!

If you, like me, are interested in receiving a calculated estimate on how long you will be alive, I would suggest you visit the Living to 100 life expectancy calculator. The questionnaire takes roughly 10 minutes to complete and it is free.

As our life expectancy continues to increase, I do not want to spend more of my time in the workforce then I have to. I value my time and I am looking forward to becoming financially independent while still being relatively young. I believe that sound investing at an early age is a great way to be prepared for life after work as well as being content with what you already have. Also, take advantage of employee matching to your retirement fund while you are employed as this is free money. Free money is always a good thing! If you consider your self in being far from financially savvy, I would suggest an investment in index funds. Index funds are a low cost alternative in investing and almost always out preform mutual funds. A great article from Financial Self Starter on index funds and can be found here.

While it is a smart idea to prepare living for the long haul and have as much saved as possible to enjoy your life, try not to stress too much about it. Besides, stress decreases our lifespan!

Remaining Debt

After I paid off the remaining balance on my car loan a few weeks ago, I enjoyed the luxury of a greatly reduced debt load and am highly motivated and focused on paying the remaining balance on my line of credit from a major bank and my MasterCard.

I created a chart below detailing the remaining debt that I have to pay off. Luckily, I only have two forms of debt remaining with one of them being a really low balance. I am aiming to be completely debt free in the next 3 months if possible.

 

Debt

As you can see, I owe just a little over $2,000 and I will be using the following method in eliminating the remaining debt:

  • Entirely pay off the remaining balance on my MasterCard and put about $100 towards the balance on my line of credit.
  • Once the credit card debt is eliminated, I will put all free money used to pay off the MasterCard on a monthly basis onto my line of credit.
  • Stop adding money to my high interest savings account (usually around $150/monthy) and add this amount to repaying my line of credit
  • All money remaining from my bi-weekly budget will go to debt repayment. This varies all the time depending on what part of the month I am as I tend to  pay more in expenses early in the month and barely any during the second half.

Once I receive some extra money from my budget or by any other means, I usually transfer the funds from my chequing account to my line of credit on-line. This eliminates any hassle of travelling to pay off debt and tackles the problem as quickly as possible.

If all goes according to plan, I should be debt free by the end of November! Excited is something that barely describes what I am feeling.  It is extremely hard to mimic the feeling you receive of being debt free. I know it has been a long road for me and I must say I am enjoying the journey but am much looking forward to the benefits of reduced stress financially by seeing a big fat 0 on my debt column.

However, with my wedding less than 14 months away and the pursuit of home ownership hopefully not in the too distant future, staying out of debt will be tough. Having a mortgage is debt I am willing to take on but  my fiance and I are trying extremely hard to pay for the wedding in cash rather than credit. Getting into debt for one night (even though its a great one!) is not something we are willing to do.

For the time being, I am going to focus on what I can control, and that is eliminating the last remnants of my debt.

The Stress From Work

stress-during-work_64

The last few days have been very stressful for me at work. I am in the process of learning new procedures that are taking place in my company and in the near future, I will be the “go to guy” for all these new processes. I am going to work earlier and going home later trying to learn as much as possible and trying not to fall behind on my existing priorities. Overall, not a good week for me at all.

Stress!

After quitting my second job, I thought my work related stress was going to be reduced significantly.  That has not been the case so far.

For a person such as myself who doesn’t really enjoy working to begin with, the added stress caused by extra work, annoying co-workers or just living through the daily grind of Monday to Friday is something I do not want to do for the rest of my life.

In the mean time, I must find ways to reduce stress at all costs as it poses a  really serious health risk in the future. In times like this, I try anything possible to limit the amount of work related stress by doing the following:

Take Breaks

Taking a breather every now and then helps cool me down. Doing something as simple as walking around the office or taking a quick stroll around your building quickly makes you regain control of your nerves. I have done this and never heard any complaints from anyone.

Eat Lunch Outside the Workplace

I am not suggesting going out and spend money on food. What I do sometimes, if the weather permits, is go outside to a park close by and eat my lunch there. It is really peaceful as you have nature surrounding you and it literally feels like you escaped work for a while as the scenery and environment are so different.

Enjoy Personal Time After Work

Very simple yet so many people do not follow this rule. I for one am also at fault here sometimes as stress from work does get to me. I would suggest trying to do activities that you enjoy and do not give you time to reflect on your day at work. Playing sports is great for occupying your mind as well as activities such as reading a book, hanging out with friends, loved ones and pets.

Have Goals

A great stress relief, in my opinion is planning for an escape. Even if your plan for escape is a while away, planning makes you feel like you are heading in the right direction. Maybe your dream is to start your own business? If that is the case, why not take some continuing education courses to set you on your path? Want to be a writer? Start up a blog! The world wide web is an excellent place to write about  your hopes and dreams and you might even be profitable from  it.

Nothing can completely relieve you from work related stress but doing things you love is always beneficial in the long run. You might even be one of the lucky ones and actually enjoy your job. If that is the case, good for you! Sadly, a large percentage of people in North America are unhappy at the workforce.

For now, I am going to continue to pursue my goals and try to live each day as it comes. This is never an easy task, but nothing really is in life. If life were easy, we wouldn’t have to work to begin with. 🙂

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