Sarang Ahuja | Finance

Leader, Financial Expert, Game Changer

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How To Educate Employees on Personal Finance

How To Educate Employees On Personal Finance

Personal finance is one of the most important subjects to learn about. There are many who struggle to understand the different aspects of personal finance in their lives. Many companies are starting to invest in training resources for employees on this subject.

There are several studies that show employees who struggle with their personal finances are less productive at work. Looking at the situation from this viewpoint, it makes financial sense for companies to help employees with their finances.

Debt

Perhaps the biggest area of concern for many people is high levels of debt. The average student graduates with thousands of dollars in debt from college. Few people make a concerted effort to immediately pay this debt.

In addition, the average credit card balance is starting to increase again. This is a major warning sign for the overall economy. Teaching employees about the dangers of debt is a great way for them to take this problem seriously. The average person can pay down a lot of debt in a short period of time if they just get organized.

Employees should be taught to write all of their debt down with the amount next to it. From there, they can plan how to attack the debt to pay it off. Working an extra job is a great way to pay down debt quickly.

Investing

Few people are investing enough money to reach their financial goals. Investing is the best way to build wealth over a long period of time.

One of the biggest reasons that people do not invest is that they do not understand it. Few people want to risk their money in the stock market, and it is hard to read about investing theories if you have no background in the subject.

The good news is that investing is more simple than many people realize. Instead of risking money in speculative investments, employees can make a lot of progress simply by investing in a 401(k) option through work.

Getting Organized

There are many people who make enough money to reach their financial goals if they stay organized in this area.

However, without organization, it is hard to develop a plan for the future. Companies that invest in the education of employees will see a high return on investment. Not only will employees be more productive at work, but they will also have higher morale. This is a great way for companies to make a positive impact in the lives of employees.

Secret to Negotiating a Raise—Sarang Ahuja

The Secret to Negotiating a Raise

Talking about compensation with your boss can be a hard subject to broach. Because of this, many don’t know how to properly negotiate when it comes to talking about money, especially when the prospect of a raise is on the table. As yearly reviews come and go, many employees will consider entering into a conversation with their bosses about whether or not they deserve a raise, but most will not receive the compensation that they think they deserve.

The first step to working toward a raise is being realistic about your abilities and your contributions to the company. Look back at your recent efforts and be honest with yourself about what you deserve based on that. If you want a solid raise, you’ll need a good case for it. On average, slightly under 3% of company revenue goes toward raises, but the top percentage of employees are allocated more funds for raises than anyone else.

Nobody knows you better than you, so take the time to compile a list of your accomplishments. Have you gone above and beyond to help out a coworker, or stayed late to assist with a problem? If you’ve taken on recent responsibilities, be sure to highlight those as well. Use any quantitative data that you can find; solid figures of how a company has benefitted with your work are indisputable evidence of your prowess. Don’t wait until the opportunity for a raise comes up; start as soon as possible.

Think of this compilation as a portfolio, and include any documents that you think might be beneficial. Save emails from people that have praised your performance, and include copies of any certificates or degrees that you may have earned in that time. If you have projects that you can include, integrate them in as well. The more evidence you have on your side, the better.

Another way to prepare for a discussion about a raise is finding evidence of what people in your position with your tenure make. If you know exactly what you are theoretically worth, it gives you a starting point for negotiations. However, you should also account for the environment in which you live; if you’re from an area with a lower cost of living, the percentage that your income increases might be lower than in a larger city. Company size is also a determining factor in how much you can expect to make.

Once you’ve gathered the proper rationale for a raise, it then comes time to speak with your boss. The best, and most expected, time to ask is during a year review. If you ask outside of this period, acknowledge that this is an unusual case and that you’re asking for a specific reason tied to your recent actions.

When negotiating, be clear and factual. Tell your boss that you’re looking for a raise in compensation, and follow it up by hitting a couple of the broader points that you’ve come up with before delving into detail. Never make the subject of a raise personal; by stating that you need more capital for a wedding, baby, or something similar, you lose some of the credibility that you’ve built up. Instead, focus on what you’ve done for the company and why that warrants a change.

If your boss turns down your request for a raise, turn it into an opportunity. Be honest with them and ask about what you’d need to do to secure the raise that you’re looking for. It can also make a good impression if you ask about the possibility of taking on more responsibilities in the future. Regardless, keep your responses measured and don’t burn any bridges. In the event of repeated rejection despite outstanding job performance, it may be time to consider other employment options.

No matter what you do, it’s still a tough subject to approach and negotiate. But, as with anything else in business, good preparation and presentation of facts is the best way to sway a potentially difficult audience to your cause.

A Little Something on the Side

A Little Something on the Side: Getting Started with a Side Job

The dynamic of labor in the United States has changed over the past decade. The long-held institution of the 9-5 job is crumbling in the face of a difficult job market and the increasing interconnectedness of technology. Because of this, individuals are opting to take on smaller part time jobs, sometimes to supplement an existing source of income, and sometimes because of difficulty in securing full time employment. Either way, working a side job can be a valuable asset and resume booster, providing the individual with an alternate cash flow that may not be as consistent or time consuming as a 9-5.

So, if you’re an individual that needs some extra cash, regardless of your reasons for doing so, there are a multitude of avenues you can take. I’d like to discuss some of the options available on the part-time job market.

Driving

Uber and Lyft have effectively disrupted the public transportation industry with crowdsourced drivers and a easy-to-use apps. Known in the industry as rideshare apps, an increasing number of people are becoming Uber and Lyft drivers to earn money on nights and weekends. Though becoming a rideshare driver is not as intensive as becoming a certified taxi driver, there are certain barriers to entry that applicants need to abide by.

Drivers need to submit to a background check in addition to possessing a valid driver’s license, a smartphone, and a car with four exterior doors and five seatbelts. Additionally, some cities may not allow rideshare services to operate, so be sure to know if your area can participate! Still, on a busy weekend night, rideshare drivers can accumulate quite the haul.

Babysitting

Despite being one of the stereotypical jobs for teenagers, a good caregiver can alleviate pressure from parents and make a positive impact on a child’s life. Previously relegated to word of mouth, technology has also made it easier to find babysitting and care gigs. Care.com is one example of a website looking to match babysitters with families in need, and payment is easy to receive through the site.

Depending on when you’re available, you can expect to make anywhere from $12 to $25 an hour babysitting. The high end of the scale is generally seen among night sitters, who assist tired parents with children, particularly babies and newborns.

Writing

Writing freelance blogs and articles has a huge market on the Internet. There are plenty out there if you go looking—but be warned, the pay can often be low. Research is important when writing online; you’ll want to know the regulations of the sites that you’re pitching to, as well as having a solid understanding of the topics that you’re writing about.

Still, nothing beats the flexibility of writing for an online outlet and working wherever you’d like! Find a site that fits your schedule, interests, and needs and have a great time producing quality content.

Design

While it requires a bit of a background to do well, with a bit of artistic know-how, you can create beautiful graphics or design for the web. For doing this, it helps to have a collection of your previous work somewhere on the web; bonus points if you can make your own online portfolio from scratch.

Upwork is an online resource for the errant designer, offering potential leads and jobs to community members. Plus, if you start to gain momentum, the amount of money you can make will increase over time.

Personal Finance for Children

Kids and MoneyIt has long been discussed at what age people should start learning how to manage personal finance. It was only recently that some high schools began to require personal finance courses for graduation. Also, of course, there is the ever-popular list circulating the internet stating ‘Things I Never Learned in High School,’ most of which is related to personal finance. High schoolers, college students, and recent graduates are almost demanding that some personal finance that will be pertinent to the future is taught in school, yet the question of how early to start teaching it still remains. A new report suggests that the ideal time to start teaching personal finance may be earlier than anyone has thought before.

This Building Blocks Report, by the Consumer Financial Protection Board, makes the assertion that personal finance should start being taught at age 3. That’s right; preschoolers should be encouraged to practice make-believe play in order to develop their executive functioning. Executive functioning is, in part, learning control and how to plan, which is very helpful in budgeting. It gives people the willpower to maintain control over their actions, so, the sooner it is developed the better. Some make-believe activities that may help children to develop this section of mental processes are setting up a pretend supermarket in your home, playing accountant, and giving children calculators.

Of course, preschoolers will not be able to understand more complicated personal finance lessons, but they will understand basic concepts. Some things that should be impressed upon them include exchanging money for goods and saving money to get something better later. Remember that this is only the first phase of personal finance lessons.

Once children reach their pre-teenager stage, allowance can be used to further teach about personal finance. For example, requiring those receiving the allowance to save a portion of it each time it is given will teach how beneficial saving can be. It can also instill in them the sense that impulse buys, while fun at the time, are not always the best choice. When kids reach their teenage years, purchasing decisions can really start being discussed. At this age, it is recommended to discuss spending habits in all family activities, from filling up on gas to eating at a restaurant. Teenagers should be helping the family make spending decisions, which will ultimately prepare them for making spending decisions with their own finances in the future.

While it is great that some high schools are making personal finance courses standard, it is clear from the above report that personal finance learning should begin even soon. For more information, check out this Forbes article.

Failure, Life’s Greatest Lessons

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The road to success can be long and arduous. As a young professional, you will face a variety of different obstacles. But the one biggest obstacle that we will all face in life is the lesson of failure.

When it comes to failure, these moments often carry a negative connotation with them. And why wouldn’t they? In most cases, you are often found at your lowest, nursing a bruised ego to move on from the frustration, disappointment, and demoralization of a situation. As much as it may seem hopeless right now, you have to look at these disappointing moments as windows of opportunity. Many people have even gone as far as to say that failure is really the greatest teacher of them all. While it may be hard now, understanding, internalizing, and accepting these situations for something greater than what they are will allow you to grow both personally and professionally in the best way possible.

Now to do this, you need to see these disappointing moments as life lessons. As difficult as it may be, framing these incidences in this manner will allow you to learn and uncover those hidden teachable moments so that you can not just move on, but also grow in a bigger and better way. To help you deduce what exactly those lessons are and how they can help improve your chances of future success, I have provided various guidelines so that you can understand, plan, evaluate, and execute later on down the road.

Evaluate the Situation

Every young professional needs to understand that success can only come from failure. Much like any inopportune situation, failures and downfalls set our expectation for success. It is through those situations where you are able to evolve personally and professionally within your trade. To help alleviate the pains of failure, you need to see failure as it is. Start by evaluating the situation. Ask yourself those overarching questions. What happened? What did you do? What could you have done to prevent this? By analyzing the moment in this holistic manner, you will be able to figure out the various weaknesses and flaws that you can improve upon within the future. Utilize those low situations as experiences or opportunities for change. This will allow you to expand your knowledge and embrace the situation in a more positive manner.

Assume Responsibility

Like it or not, the blame game will always persist. No one likes to truly admit fault, especially if it is a big one. But in order to grow, you need to accept the moment and assume responsibilities for your failure. Once you have assumed the responsibilities of your mistakes, you will be able to leverage your negatives as an asset and tool in how to improve your day-to-day operations within your job. That reflective portion of analyzing and accepting said-particular mishaps can provide you the necessary steps in preventing the failure from happening again. As stated before, you want to utilize this as a learning experience. If you were brave enough to risk it in the first place, you should be confident enough to accept the mistake as it stands.

Create a Plan

Once you have understood and accepted your failure, you want to make sure you are moving in a progressively better way. In order to professionally develop and grow from your failure, you want to create a plan. For novice young professionals, the first failure will always be the most painful and regrettable. The process makes you not only question your vision and goals for your company, but also question your abilities as a person. When this happens, you need to accept, plan, and move on. When planning, think of specific overarching goals that you want to accomplish. These goals will allow you to create specific tangible steps that can help you set your sights on success.

Put into Action

To fully move on, it is imperative that you create action out of this entire process. Thinking is easy. Acting is difficult. It is the ability to put your thoughts, your concepts, and your dreams into something incredible. Use your failures to motivate you. Use them to spark innovation. Whatever is the case; use those moments to create action.

Leadership and Management, Two Sides of the Same Coin

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Leadership is encapsulated in both an individual’s talent and energy. Through their knowledge, their skill-set, their experience, and their reservation on the job, these strong and talent individuals can inspire and ignite the necessary passion needed to cultivate a rich and efficient working environment. But what happens when you do not have that vibrant personality to spark ingenuity and passion? What happens when you do not have that organizational skill-set to manage the various logistics within the day-to-day? No matter how you slice it, leadership and management will always be necessary for success.

In the business world, leadership and management go hand in hand. As much as they differ qualities and objectives, they are, essentially, two sides of the same coin. In the grand scheme of things, they are necessarily linked. As much as they stand separate, they continue to complement each other by solving problems and strategizing new and creative ideas for success. Put it in this perspective; management administers, while leadership innovates.

But what makes these two characteristics out? Is one trait better than the other?

Perhaps there was a time when the calling of the manager and that of the leader could be separate. In fact, today, one of the most commonly used buzzer words within the corporate sector has been, and will continue to be, ‘leadership.’ But with the way business works, any successful business owner will tell you that if you want to run your business right, you need to have both a strong leader and an efficient manager to get your team on board. Having both skill sets will allow you to direct your team to your company vision in the most effective way possible.

So what is leadership? While it has become widely popular term, we cannot overlook the power that this characteristic has for a person. For leadership, we are talking about the ability to communicate, inform, and inspire action. That idea to believe in a goal is something that is incredibly difficult to cultivate, especially in the workplace. To do this effectively, many great leaders are incredibly transparent and honest with their employees. That, in turn, builds a sense of integrity and trust that continues to inspire your employees on the journey that you are taking them on. In addition to honesty, many great leaders are long-term thinkers. The ability to create strong, tangible, and viable goals is something that will constantly play a role in a leader’s success within the future. But the most important skill set of a leader is their ability to communicate. Communicating across a variety of departments will always be a sought out ability by every business firm and organization. The reason why is that a strong line of communication can handle any task given to them.

Now, as great as it is having those qualities and traits as a leader, none of it can be possible without strong and effective management. With management, it is more about administering task and making sure the day-to-day operations and logistics are happening, as they should. In order to be a strong, effective, and consistent manager, you need to be able to execute your goals. While it is great, as a leader, to have these overarching goals, all of it would be for nothing if you did not have a clear and strategic roadmap to follow and complete for your employees. In addition to strong and strategic planning, a strong manager needs to have the ability to direct. During the day-to-day, things will pop up. Your job will be to handle those tasks, review resources when needed, and anticipate future problems or hurdles for you and your employees. Much of this will require strong organizational skills, effective communication, and focused and processed management. Without these skillsets, a dream will continue to be a dream.

So, if you are looking to take things to the next level, make sure you find that game changer that has both the attributes of a manager and the vision and mentality of a leader. By framing your process in this way, your hunt for your next supervisor, director, or senior partner will be that much easier and beneficial for the success of your business.

The Brilliance of a Summer Intern

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‘They hopefully arrive without battle scars, judgmental opinions, negativity, sarcasm or jadedness. The glass for each of them is not only half full, it is overflowing with optimism and excitement about the future.”

Starting this summer, many private sector businesses and nonprofit organizations will have a new crop of interns beginning their summer internship programs. As new as these novices maybe to the overall business world, their excitement and energy is something that incredibly admired by managers, supervisors, and CEOs alike.

For starters, these youthful go-getters are of course the brightest among their peers. But what make them stand out are not simply their resumes. Instead, it is their overarching professional goals that set them a part from the crowd. This, in turn, personifies their optimism and willingness to learn each and everyday as an intern during these next ten-to-fifteen weeks.

Now for these particular internships, these young professionals view this as the very beginning of a long and successful career. They see every task, every conversation, and every interaction and experience as a window of opportunity to grow and develop both personally and professionally. But what truly set them apart are the three statements below:

  1. They listen eagerly.
  2. They take risk.
  3. They build and instill confidence for the future.

For many businesses and companies, finding this type of high-level caliber is not just a challenge, but also a constant battle each and everyday. The reason why is that having the ability to listen actively, take risk, and personify confidence in every task that you do can be a daunting experience. But for these remarkable interns, this is simply second nature.

When it comes to listening, they are not just there to hear the on-going operations of the day-to-day. Instead, they actively listen to learn the tricks of the trade in order to build up their own professional skills later down the line. By absorbing various advice and tips from other professionals, especially those higher up in the hierarchy, they will be able to refine various steps in reaching their professional goals.

But listening is not just the only key factor. Instead, taking a risk and putting your knowledge into action is what can define who you will be after graduation. At many of these internships, these individuals are not looked at as children. Instead, they are seen as the future of the company. Because of their value, various supervisors and managers want to make sure they are cultivating a strong foundation for them to return in the future. By taking a risk and assuming more responsibilities, these neophytes can build both a stronger relationship and work experience each and everyday. But that type of execution cannot be done without the confidence and belief in themselves. At many of these roles such as a summer analyst or a summer associate, many of these individuals will be asked to go beyond their comfort zone and perform task that surpass their job description. While some may falter at the idea, many of these interns flourish with confidence in learning and executing to the best of their abilities.

With that said, summer will always be an exciting time for many big businesses, especially those within the financial sector. In football, you have the college season and the draft. For businesses, we have the summer and fall applications. The only question you can ask you is this: What can you do to cultivate this type of talent?

Ask yourself these Questions before you go to Graduate School

 

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For many young professionals, especially those in the private sector, attaining a Master of Business Administration or Masters in Finance degree may seem as the only viable option to help bolster and proliferate their career opportunities up within professional hierarchy. While some millennials will make the jump because it seems like the only option, I would advise you to spend an ample amount of time and research to reflect and internalize your decision before making any type of commitment moving forward. At the end of the day, applying to a graduate program takes a lot of effort. In fact, many of these one to two year programs require a large investment of your time, your work experience, and of course your money. Because of this, it is important that you ask yourself a variety of questions to help narrow and clarify your professional trajectory when you graduate your program. Having these tangible and concrete overarching long-term goals will allow you to pick the right program that will best benefit and shape your professional career.

To start, you want to ask the holy grail of questions that you will be consistently asked throughout your application, essays, and interviews: Why do you want to go to graduate school? While this question may seem simple in it’s phrasing, the overall answer should be complex and lengthy.  If you find that you are just reaching for particular facts or you are looking into these programs because they are your only option, I would advise you to stop and ask yourself what you would like to accomplish in the next five to ten years. For many of these elite programs, they are expecting you to have a very well thought answer that is personal and relatable to these specific programs. Yes, job security and networking can be reasons why you are intrigued in an MBA or Masters in Finance, but at the end of the day, the admissions team is looking for you to go beyond the standard and personify a journey of what led you to their perspective program.

Once you are able to relate your own personal and professional goals to why you want to enter said-program, you then want to have a clear yet hypothetical understanding of what you would like to do post-program. For many candidates in MBA or Masters in Finance programs, they have already had a diverse and successful career. In fact many people would question why they would leave their secure and prolific jobs to go to graduate school. To help answer this, your response should once again be personal. At the end of the day, your decision to continue your educational career with a master in business or finance is rooted deep within your goals. To further shape it, try thinking of various organizations, firms, or careers you could potentially see yourself in. This will once again narrow the scope to particular schools that can fit your personal preferences both personally and professional. Take for example the company Coca Cola. Because the infamous drink company has deep roots with Emory, you may want to consider their programs than schools in California. In addition, if you find that you want to be living in South Florida or New York City, you may cut out or add new schools that have a direct network that can feed you into these cities. Whatever is the case, having a strong understanding of where and what you want to do five years, ten years, or twenty years down the line can help populate or narrow your list in the best possible way.

From there, you want to of course understand your own personal and professional strengths and weaknesses. Ask yourself what were your greatest professional successes and what were your biggest weaknesses within the working sector. For these programs, they are not just looking for any type of individual. Instead, they are looking for someone who is a leader and a game changer that can handle any obstacle life throws at them. By having a more internal understanding of your professional strengths and weaknesses, you will be able to find a particular program that can help shape your development after you graduate.

The last thing you need to ask yourself is of course: What are the requirements needed to get into these programs. For some they may require the GMATs. For others they may require the GREs. Make sure you give yourself an ample amount of study time to prepare yourself for these standardize test. Remember, these are not just exams. They are the first key to your dream school. In addition, look at various deadline dates, references, and essays you will need to submit for each application. The worst thing you can do for yourself is to rush your application. Make sure you have a strong understanding of application process. If not, you may be risking your chances at submitting a weak application that can possibly deter the top programs from picking you.

Now, while there are other questions to of course consider before applying, start off these. These quick overarching questions will help you understand what graduate programs can best aid you before you decide to commit to the entire process.

Warren Buffett’s Best Advice on Successful Investing

Noted businessman, investor and philanthropist Warren Buffett joined Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan in Gaston Hall at Georgetown. During this talk, Warren Buffett discusses his background, work experience, and various insights in the wonders out investing.

The Guide to Investing: Part 2

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When it comes to money, investing can oftentimes be a scary thing. The main thing you can do to best benefit your financial future is to understand, prepare, and strategize various ways to optimize and leverage your financial portfolio each and every month.

In my last article, I went over some of the red flags novice investors do when building up their financial portfolio. As much as we want to focus on the do-not, you also want to make sure you are focusing on the dos, or action plan, when planning your financial investment.

As stated in my previous article, I cannot stress the importance of learning. No matter what the situation is, knowledge is power. The most important thing you can do for your financial portfolio is to never stop learning. Assume the mentality of a student and constantly absorb the information and news around you. When it comes to investing, it can be a long winded and complicated process. That is why I recommend doing your homework and researching the ins-and-outs of every financial opportunity. If there is at any point where you do not understand a particular step, stop and research until you understand it. The biggest risk you can take in compromising your savings is by not understanding what you are getting into.

Once you are able to understand the foundational background of investing, try putting that knowledge into real life situations. This will require you to pick your own personal investments and manage your campaign yourself. While you pick your investments, make sure you are strategic and consistent with your financial plan. The simpler your plan is, the better. The most important thing with your plan comes down to your financial goals. Any miss-targeted-dates, whether it is weekly or monthly, can compromise your long-term goal. To help alleviate this problem, try setting up an automatic investment plan. This will allow you to stay consistent with your savings each and every month.

Now, while investments may take you on a roller coaster of a ride, make sure you stick with it. Yes, this can be stressful, but continuing with your plan in the long run will prevent any unfavorable consequences. For any short-term drops or short-term changes with your financial plan, this can require a large buy-out fee and penalty fees that can set your financial goals back a couple months, or worse, a couple of years. Just be confident in your decision and continuously update yourself with any relevant information that can prove that your investments are safe and secured.

If, however, you are uneasy about how things are going, you can always turn to a professional. Contacting a financial advisor can only benefit than hurt. At some points in our portfolio, we are unsure how to best optimize our campaigns in the most fruitful and lucrative manner. That is when a financial advisor can help you allocate necessary funds for your best interest. Before committing to a financial advisor, be sure to do your homework. Ask a lot of question and research their educational and financial background. To learn more about how to find the best financial advisor for your particular situation, research the qualities here.

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