Graduated Learning: Life after College

I got my degree, I got a job…now what?

We skipped past the starter home June 27, 2018

Filed under: Boston,Personal Finance,Uncategorized — Stephanie @ 9:53 pm
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2016 was a big year for us.  We had our first child!  And then later that year, we bought our first house!  We’d been “seriously” house hunting for about a year. At the beginning of our search, we had a vague idea of what we wanted: something closer to work, in a good school district, with a garage, a yard, and enough rooms for a growing family. As we went to more and more open houses, we got a better idea of what we wanted. A family room right off the kitchen so we could entertain guests or have kids play nearby while we were in the kitchen. We also wanted a big enough kitchen to host my famous fondue parties 🙂 After an inspection of one house we almost bought that showed high levels of lead all over the place, we realized we also were only going to look at houses built in or after 1978 to avoid any lead paint issues.

Of course cost was a big factor as well. We were originally pre-qualified for a mortgage WAY more than we ever wanted to spend, just based on credit scores, income, etc. So we pared down choices to a more comfortable price range far below that amount. We had to keep in mind that our monthly payments would include the actual mortgage payment as well as money for escrow to cover property taxes and homeowners insurance.

We did consider first buying a “starter home” or a “fixer upper” but realized a few things: we are not super handy, and aren’t good at picturing a hypothetical home based on the current condition of a “fixer upper”. Plus we were already expecting our baby when we started seriously looking for a house, so trying to deal with renovations while pregnant/with a newborn was not something we wanted to do.  And most of the fixer uppers were still quite expensive as-is!  Also, we knew that if we went with a small home to start, we’d probably want to or need to move to a bigger house within a few years. And so a few factors related to buying a new house a few years down the line became clear:

1. The housing market in the Greater Boston Area is so hot that it’s hard to buy a house if you have any sort of contingencies. That could include getting a mortgage, wanting an inspection, or having to sell a house first. We were still renting, and so we were in a much better position than anyone else who might have to sell their house first. So the next time we’d buy a house would be while also already owning a house, which would make us less desirable to sellers.

2. Costs associated with selling/buying/moving are not negligible. And with every move, you inevitably have more stuff you’ll need to move, so it’s more expensive. Closing costs when we bought this house ended up being significant, so trying to sell a house only a few years later means you might lose money even if you sold it for more than you bought it for.

3.  Even with the recent boom in house prices, we had no guarantee that our house would go up in value enough that we’d make money on the sale.  And keeping in mind point #2, it’s possible we’d lose money on the whole deal.  Regardless of if you think a house is an investment or not, this would make a starter home for us a risky short-term investment.

So, we bought this house.  We like it a lot!  We plan on sticking around in this house for a while.  Sure, there are some small fixes our home inspector found that we’ve been working on, and we have plans this summer to upgrade our heat/hot water system (they’re at the end of their useful lives) and add a generator (after dealing with multiple power outages since we’ve moved in, due to various rain/wind/snow storms).  But we don’t have plans to do any major renovations any time soon.

I would have loved to have started with a smaller, cheaper house, but our needs and the housing market meant it didn’t make emotional or financial sense.

How did you decide if/when/what to buy? Or are you still renting (out of choice or necessity)?

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Go ahead, join a startup April 3, 2018

Filed under: Careers,Uncategorized — Stephanie @ 8:43 pm
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The other day, Desirae tweeted about an article she came across about whether or not you should join a startup company right after college.  The general gist of the article was that you shouldn’t join a startup right away, because even if the salary/benefits seem good, if/when the company goes belly up, it’s like you never worked there.

Um, what?

He says that after the company goes bankrupt, you’ll have nothing to put on your resume because no one will have heard of the company or be able to look it up.  Which is an odd thing to say on multiple fronts because you WILL have things to list on your resume (all of your experiences at the company) and even if the company doesn’t exist anymore, you still have fellow coworkers/bosses who can be contacted as references with other emails/phone numbers.

He also complains that all the work you’ll be doing is “grunt work” and therefore you wont have any “relevant experience” to show on your resume.  On the one hand I know that if you are entry-level person at ANY job, there’s going to be some starting work that’s not super exciting or stimulating. But you need to learn things, you can’t expect to be thrown onto a super important project your first day on the job.  You work your way up, regardless of the size/age of a company!

Of course, I’m basing my response to this article on my own experiences.  I worked at a startup for 2 years straight out of college.  And then I got laid off.  But my resume had plenty on there from all my useful experiences there, and a few months later I was able to get a new job.

And even at my new job, I started with the less glamorous work, but I’ve learned so much these past 10 years and worked my way up to gain more responsibilities.

What do you think of the article?  Is joining a startup a waste of time right out of college?  Or a worthwhile experience?  Did you join or start a startup?

 

Everything’s Different Now February 12, 2016

Filed under: Pregnancy,Uncategorized — Stephanie @ 8:52 pm
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I’ve been a bit MIA on the blog.  Partially because I didn’t feel like I had much to say.  But partially because I was nervous to blog about my pregnancy.

So, the good news is:  I had a baby!

My husband and I are overjoyed!  And also exhausted.

The pregnancy definitely had ups and downs, including a few moments when doctors thought things might be wrong with my baby.  But in the end, we have a healthy baby and couldn’t be happier!

In the words of Mabel from Gravity Falls:  Everything’s different now.

I’ve been unsure about blogging my birth story because a) I’m not sure anyone would actually care to read it and b) maybe it’s just a bit too much oversharing.  Let me know if you’re interested in reading it (or think I should skip it).

I’m not sure how much I will continue blogging.  There are bound to be things to write about (we’re still house-hunting, and of course there are lots of money things to discuss when it comes to raising a child) but I’ll look to you guys for feedback and thoughts on what I write.  As always, you can see my thoughts about baby farts and naps by following me on twitter.

 

 

Where should you open your IRA account? April 9, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Stephanie @ 9:47 pm
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This blog post is more of a survey for my readers and a reminder (to open/fund their IRA) than advice.  But I hope everyone who comments has some great insight!

Here’s the deal.  I’ve been obsessed with personal finance since I graduated college in 2006.  I opened a Roth IRA in 2007 and have fully funded it every year.  My fiance and I have also been together since 2007, and he’s read all of my posts about IRAs (Opening an IRA:  No excuses, Should Everyone Contribute to a Roth IRA? and even How often should I contribute to my Roth IRA?).  But he never opened one.  And until we were engaged, I thought “well, that’s none of my concern” and barely nagged him about it.  But now that we’re in this for the long haul, I realized I need to amp up my nagging and get him to open and fund an IRA before the April 15th deadline for 2013 (yes, that’s right, you can fund last year’s IRA up until this year’s Tax Day).  As a note, for 2013 and 2014, the contribution limits for IRAs is $5,500 (or $6,500 if you’re 50 or older).

I thought he had all the information he needed.  But he came back with one more question:

Where should I open my IRA?

It’s a valid question.  There are lots of companies out there.  Most banks, credit unions, and discount brokerages offer an IRA.  But they all have different fee structures and funding options.  Some will waive fees if you set up automatic contributions.

Unfortunately, I don’t actually have the answer for what company to go with.  I opened my IRA at Fidelity mostly because it was a company I had seen my parents using in the past, and it was a well-recognized name.  It later worked out that my new (current) job runs their 401(k) through Fidelity, which proved to be convenient for a number of reasons:  only one login to remember, and I could analyze my entire portfolio in one place.

I put out a quick tweet to seek advice for where to open an IRA.  From DQYDJ, I heard Fidelity, Scottrade, T. Rowe Price, and Tradeking.  Jeff Rose seconded the advice for Scottrade. (Then Scottrade chimed in with a link to an incentive to open an IRA with them).  My (real life!) friend Brian says he has his IRA with USAA, holding Vanguard funds (I agree with the Vanguard funds, I’ve heard really good things about their low-cost index funds).  Then the Debt Free Guys said they like their Schwab account.

So, I don’t know if that helps at all.  Unfortunately, my best advice is to shop around at different companies and see what sort of fees they have, what kind of funds they offer and what (if any) minimum investment requirements there are!  Some funds have very high minimum requirements, though the minimums may be waived if you sign up to auto-contribute to your account.

Lastly, check out the comments as they (hopefully) come in.  I’m always looking to friends for advice, and this is no exception!  Tell me what companies you like (and don’t like) for retirement accounts!  And share your insight for what else to look for in a company!

 

Next step on the personal finance path October 27, 2010

Filed under: Personal Finance,Uncategorized — Stephanie @ 11:31 pm
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So, now that I’ve paid off my car loan, it’s time to re-examine my personal finance goals.

First, a fun fact:  When you pay off your car loan they send you the title to your car.  So I got my title in the mail last Thursday!  Even funner fact:  my roommate got her title in the mail the same day!  What are the odds?

My next debt to tackle:  Student loans.

Changes I plan on making to my finances:

Every month, I had paid my car loan with an automatic transfer from my ING checking account.  I’d also transfer a slightly higher amount into that ING checking account every month.  So I’d be slowly stashing a little bit of extra money into savings.  Now that my loan is paid off, I’m going to set the monthly transfer to go to my Down Payment Fund instead.  This means I earn a little bit extra interest-wise.  Plus I’m still keeping the money out of my main spending account.

As is customary in personal finance, I’m now going to pay the amount I paid on my loan each month towards my student loans.

Overall, this means that a different account gets my monthly savings transfer, and a different account gets my monthly loan payment.

Technically, all the money will be leaving my main checking account now (just the way things are in my current system).  But this means I’m still putting money towards a down payment, while paying extra towards my student loans.

Is this the wrong approach?  Should I be working harder to just eliminate my student debt instead of saving for a house?

 

 
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