Sarang Ahuja | Finance

Leader, Financial Expert, Game Changer

Tag: personal finance (Page 1 of 2)

What I Did During My Summer Vacation—Sarang Ahuja

What I Did Over My Summer Vacation (Wasn’t An Internship)

If you’re a college student, then a paid internship is the holy grail of a summer vacation—a way to make money while also advancing career prospects. It’s a rite of passage for many students, and it can be devastating to see others land their ideal internships while you’re stuck with nothing to do over the summer.

Worry no more; if you’re a college student looking to advance your career over the summer, there are plenty of other avenues available to you that are guaranteed not to require getting other people coffee.

Find Odd Jobs

I don’t just mean mowing lawns or walking dogs (though that is an option). Look for temporary work in your area geared toward your interests. Even if it’s for a nonprofit group, doing work for their benefit can give you something to boost your resume. It’s also a great way to learn how the working environment functions, something that can be hard to gauge through college classes. Take the time to research specialty jobs that may be relevant to you; for instance, if you’re a writer, local papers may need assistance covering stories.

It’s also worth considering day long shadowing opportunities to get another good look at the workplace environment in your industry.

Volunteer

Speaking of nonprofits, pursuing volunteering experiences can be valuable for a resume even if it isn’t necessarily in your area of expertise. Not only that, but there are often leadership opportunities available through nonprofits. Consider spearheading a project and giving yourself something to be proud of.

Complete Summer Classes

Ease the burden of your college career by taking summer classes! Even if your college is far away, consider looking into knocking out a few requirements online or at your local community college. If your schedule is a bit hectic, it can cut down on your stress and even save money in many cases. For that matter, you can even use your extra time to complete an internship later on.

Research

Many colleges and universities offer undergraduate research opportunities over summers. For an individual considering grad school, research is a big standout come application season. Even outside of this, research offers an in-depth look at the working of industries even beyond math and science. Consider asking about grants that your school offers to help support you in these endeavors.

Start a Business

The growth of technology has allowed for the spread of ideas at an unprecedented rate. If you see an opportunity in a field you’re studying, or even just have a solid grasp of a particular skill, consider becoming an entrepreneur. From writing to design to building websites, there are many skills that you can hawk to those interested, all while earning money and learning.

Study Abroad

Not every life experience has to relate to work. By studying abroad for a summer, you demonstrate to employers your willingness to venture outside of your comfort zone and try new experiences. Plus, it gives you more opportunities to learn and work toward that sweet, sweet college credit. Consider some of the places you’ve always wanted to see, and form experiences that you’ll have for the rest of your life!

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.

Talking to your Kids about Finance—Sarang Ahuja

Talking to Your Kids About Finance

It can be tough to broach the subject of money with kids. After all, they likely haven’t had a real job or had to worry about their own finances early on in their lives. For children, adults appear to have their finances figured out, with magical credit cards that allow them to pay for everything and no knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes. Talks about the value of saving money are generally the baseline measure taken to help kids understand finance, but even then, the idea of spending and saving money may seem a world away to them.

I’d like to share a few of the ways that you can talk to your kids about money in a way that can prepare them for the future.

Explain how your finances work.

Children are renowned for their curiosity, and when speaking with them, it helps to treat them like people and not talk down to them. That said, it can be difficult to explain finances in terms that they would readily understand. But some of the basics—how a credit card must be paid back, how monthly expenses can define a budget—can be crucial in giving your children a sense of the effort that goes into managing money.

With the amount of automation that comes with managing finances, it can seem like an effortless process to an outsider, something that anybody can tell you is certainly not true. Dissect the accounts, payments, and taxes that go into every transaction with your children. You’ll likely find that they’ll have plenty of questions of their own.

Teach Shopping Habits.

Make your kids into smart shoppers by showing them the ways that you compare goods when shopping. Note to them the size and price, and experiment with different brands to spark a discussion about whether or not paying extra for a certain brand is worth it.

Work On Saving Goals.

Saving is one of the basic tenets of financial management, but to what end? Work with your children and encourage them to set saving goals, even if they’re relatively minor. Is there a new game that they want? Talk to them about the price and how long it will take to save up for it. If they get a regular allowance, help put in perspective how far their money goes. Start a savings account for your child, and teach them the value of setting funds aside for the future. Talk to them about setting aside things like birthday and holiday money in this account.

Set a Budget.

This one is more geared at older kids coming up on their teens, but breaking down monthly expenses and comparing them to income is a valuable lesson. As a child, it can be easy to forget about the transactions that keep an individual afloat, from rent to food to car payments. Create a somewhat simplified budget with them, giving them a better sense of how you allocate your finances each month, and give them the chance to plan one of their own.

Invest Wisely.

Once you’ve covered a lot of the basics, talk of stocks and investment can help kids understand the value inherent in businesses. Make it a family activity; have every individual track a stock and discuss the highs and lows that it goes through over the course of several weeks.

Teach Giving.

With all of the pressure to accumulate enough cash to balance a budget, it is still important to teach your children that, at the end of the day, there is still always someone less fortunate that is worth giving back to. Encourage them to research different charities, and perhaps even foster their own fundraising efforts for giving back to the cause of their choice.

After all, it’s not just about encouraging them to be better spenders, but encouraging them to be better people.

Tips and Tricks to make extra cash—Sarang Ahuja

Tips and Tricks to Make Extra Cash

Saving, despite its plentiful benefits, can sometimes only do so much. In every individual’s life, there is a point when they decide that it’s about time that they made more money. Maybe it was the first time they mowed neighborhood lawns, or took a paper route, or even fought for a raise. There’s a lesson to be learned here: there are always opportunities to make more money with a little creativity and determination. I already talked about the gig economy and some of the best side job options available, so if you’d like information on that, read this article.

However, there are other ways to provide yourself with an alternative income stream or even gain the skills necessary to secure a raise. I’d like to discuss some of them now.

Get a certificate.

You’d be surprised at the number of skills that have some kind of certification associated with them, that can be earned without too much of a time commitment online. In some cases, you may be able to just take an exam to prove your competency and shore up your resume.

There’s a certain level of research associated with doing this. For instance, you’ll want to make sure that you’re earning your certification from a credible website. Some can actually cost quite a bit of money, so you’ll have to weigh the cost with the impact that it’ll make. Still, if you earn enough money as a result, you can make your investment back and reach your career goals in the process.

Grow Your Portfolio.

The best kind of income is the kind you don’t have to put too much time into. Building a stock portfolio is a great way to generate passive income over time. The best investment portfolios are focused on long-term growth, and with a little research and monitoring, you can build a supplemental source of income. Lending firms are also an option if you’re particularly short on time, and are a good way to dip a toe into the waters of investment.

Gain a Following.

Starting a blog is an unlikely way to generate income! The first step is positioning yourself as an expert on a particular niche (like finance!). It can be tough to generate a regular readership, but you’ll never need a stringent schedule or anything outside of a computer and internet connection.

Once you’ve started providing something of value, you can expand to other, smaller services and find a way to offer more to your audience. This is a flexible approach, allowing you to commit as much or as little as you want.

Learn Niche Skills.

Every industry has its quirks, and in yours, it always pays to learn the little things. Consider the niches in your field, and consider becoming an expert in one of them, a font of knowledge that others around you can depend on.

Certifications can come in handy here; it’s never too late to learn, and you’re not starting from scratch. Even in a workplace, taking on extra responsibility in a specific area that is needed can lead to further raises and opportunities.

Financial Recovery (1)

Financial Recovery—Acknowledging Your Money Missteps

When it comes to personal finance, it can be easy to continue spending on something that offers you little to no value with a disproportionate level of attachment due to resources you’ve already expended. This is known as the sunk cost fallacy and can cause individuals to act against their best interests and spend more than necessary. When this happens, the best course of action is to ignore the amount already spent and move along, even if this is difficult. Similarly, if you’re caught up in another bad financial habit, the solution is always to acknowledge the issues with your behavior and adjust accordingly. With that in mind, here are a few financial mistakes that are easy to make, but also easy to recognize and fix.

Not planning for a major life change

When something major occurs in your life, you should attempt to anticipate and deal with it as soon as possible. Changing jobs and careers is perhaps the most jarring financial change to make, but the expenses and time associated with major events such as weddings and the birth of a new child can tax you more than you’d expect.

Take advantage of the time you have before the event occurs. When it comes jobs, don’t quit until you’re absolutely certain you’ll be able to support yourself between jobs. Setting up a new job is half the battle, but the other half can often involve pursuing other sources of income that can support you in the interim.

Not tracking online payments

When it comes to online payments, never assume that payments are being made automatically. Even with autopay on, make a list of websites that will be charging you and find time to check them after every payment is made. It can help save you from unexpected late fees and save you the hassle of having to call companies to talk about your payment.

And, as previously stated, never hesitate to let go of a recurring payment if you feel you are no longer gaining value from it.

Not having a budget

Building a budget may seem like a daunting prospect, but there are tried and true rules that can help you easily plan out where your money goes every month. One of the most prominent is the 50/20/30 rule, which states that you should allocate 50% of your monthly funds to necessities, 20% to retirement, savings, and debt payment, and 30% for lifestyle expenses, which involve everything else. You’ll need a way to track this budget, and some online services make it easy, but much of this can be done by writing down relevant information.

Not building additional sources of revenue

Sometimes, time limitations make this difficult, but securing or setting up alternate streams of income can give you more breathing room month to month. This can involve taking on freelance projects, securing a part time job, or even selling old items that you no longer need. Be flexible, and ensure that you have the time to properly dedicate to side projects.

Not having long term goals

Things like retirement can seem like ages away, but knowing the eventual outcomes you are trying to achieve go a long way toward your planning tactics. For that matter, it’s not enough to simply have a goal; you need to know the steps that you want to take to reach that goal, and do the proper research and preparation to ensure that you’ll be able to act on it when the time comes. This can involve managing your debt, creating an emergency fund, and putting serious thought into where you allocate your savings.

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.

The One Piece of Advice for all Millennials

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No matter whom you ask, a majority of the general public wants to feel financially secure. The only problem is that there are only a few individuals who are willing to do what is absolutely necessary to create it the necessary steps for a financially healthy future. For most case scenarios, it comes down to that mentality and overall strategy that helps shape not just a person’s professional trajectory, but also an individual’s personal finance. To put it in an even greater context, the lack of drive can be due to a strong ‘subconscious’ disconnect between desire and action. This generally happens because many people feel complacent or apathetic about their overall career or financial situation that they decide not to take action. Whatever is the case, make sure you do not allow this to happen to you. One thing you should always keep in mind is your future. What you do today can have a significant impact on your life tomorrow. To help you on your path, you need to take that action.

Now to take action, it usually requires a strong internal understanding of where you currently are and where you want to be. By creating these tangible goals, you will be able to establish the overarching steps and objectives necessary to keep you on track in the best possible way. Start doing this by evaluating your career. For many millennials, they make the mistake of thinking their first job is just a job. While I can never predict what is in store for your future, you should accumulate the necessary skills and business-oriented mentality to leverage for your next job or future promotion. By developing and fostering your own professional skills, you are paving a path that is essential for your financial success.

As you continue to grow, you want to make sure you are cognizant of the values and importance of money. One of the biggest mistakes millennials and young professionals make is that they lack the strong foundational understanding of saving. Like many millennials today, you probably doubt the idea that you can save, live, and breathe easy with student loan debt and bills piling every minute of the day. While it is true that student debt can restrain you from your financial goals, it does not mean that it is impossible. To start, begin figuring out how to divide your monthly income way. Remember, some things you need, others you want, and the few are just dreams. Know your limitations. That type of mentality will help prevent any chances of overspending on discretionary items or under-saving for important investment purchases. In addition, try to find opportunities where you can increase your savings. While it may be difficult to conceptualize this, especially with an entry-level salary, you need to understand that you will not be in that particular position forever. Knowing that will help you make specific decisions, even educational decisions like graduate school, on your journey for wealth.

Now to fully grasp control of your finances, it is imperative that you create a plan and establish auto payments for your debt and other expenses. In addition, try and utilize this with your savings itself. Having that type of plan will not only control your debt, but also reduce your temptation to spend an entire paycheck. For many young professionals, they have the tendency to spend on lavish and unnecessary items. Having these systems in place will control any urges and put you on the direct path in establishing your financial future.

While this may seem overwhelming, as it should be, try and educate yourself on the on-goings of personal finance. Read particular books or articles to keep you up to date on the various products out there. Try and even see if there is anyone at your company to speak about the particular financial options that are offered to you. Remember, knowledge is power. Today’s knowledge has the opportunities you are looking for. Control it and you will be able to gain more opportunities and advancement for your future.

The Millennial Complex of Personal Finance

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In today’s world, millennials are looked as the pioneers of their times. They are better educated than their predecessors, more ethnically diverse, and more economically active. But for many of these exceptional young professionals, they have a troubling grasp of reality and fantasy where ‘what their financial situations actually are’ completely differs to ‘where they want their lives to be.’ In the grand scheme of things, this type of mentality continues to cripple the financial savings of many of these millennial’s personal finance. In fact, with such economical uncertainties, such as under employment, underpay, student debt, this generation’s lack of concern with their financial future continues to higher their current financial health and economical aspirations and security each and everyday.

To examine this further, we of course have to evaluate their social, living, and career situations in order to have a full grasp of the problem that continues to plague young professionals. It is not a surprise that many college graduates want to live a more attractive cities such as San Francisco, New York City, Boston, or Miami. As desirable as these cities are, they, in themselves, are incredibly intangible for many millennials to live in. For many of these cities, the cost of living is astronomical. To just live comfortably, many young professionals will have to be making $65K or $70K annually. And with under employment still above 9 percent in 2015, as well as underpaid wages, this ‘lifestyle’ is clearly unrealistic.

And yet, many college graduates are still willing to risk their financial futures for the taste of the lifestyle. Even with student loans, high living expenses, and low wages, many millennials continue to believe that they are the outlier statistic that can beat the odds year after year. As optimistic as that sounds, we have to live in the world of facts. Today, good jobs are rare and the jobs that are out there are incredibly competitive to get. Even with a strong college degree from one of the best schools in the nation, you are still pinned up against another individual with a Master in Science or Masters in Business Administration with an even stronger work background.

Now these facts are not meant to be grim. Instead they are meant to shed a light on the world that we are living today. For example, with more poorly paid retail and hospitality jobs reporting employment for individuals with college degrees, there clearly needs to be a change in what millennials can and cannot do in these cities. In fact, beyond the wages and necessary debt, cities like New York City and San Francisco are clearly impractical for someone making $45K or lower to live in. Going beyond rent, each city has become more expensive. That is the reality. From food, happy hours, and other social activities, millennials and young professionals are continuously being blinded by what they should do (such as saving), than what they are actually doing (spending).

To help with this situation, make sure you have a strong grasp and understanding of your financial situation. Knowing your personal finances from your total net profit to even your future expenses can help salvage a strong economical future in just a few short months. While this may take some time, and potential sacrifice, it will be worth it in the end.

401k’s, Roth IRA, & the Ladder of Personal Finance

Ask-Ramit has provides a free ultimate guide to personal finance that can help cultivate the necessary foundation and knowledge in preparing your future each and everyday.

 

Financial Tips For Young Professionals

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The best way to prepare for one’s future is to start saving money early in life. Today’s millennials face several obstacles on their path to financial stability, including substantial college loans and an unsteady job market. In a recent study published on Forbes, it’s predicted that 30% of millennials would sell an organ to alleviate their debt for $30,000.

While many young people do not see financial planning as a feasible tool in their early careers, there are simple steps that making planning for the future manageable. Here are four tips that all millennials should consider implementing today.

1. Set Up A Savings Account (Or Two)

Whether you’re just starting out or are launching into your next career opportunity, the number one priority for achieving financial stability is creating an emergency fund. Savings accounts are critical to the health of your bank account and to all aspects of your life. They provide individuals with more flexibility, ease of mind, and most importantly, a nest egg of support for when life throws you a curveball. The easiest way to make this happen? Place a small amount of money from each paycheck directly into your bank account. In time, the fund will grow and offer a stronger net of support.

Once the safety fund is underway, millennials should consider opening up an IRA. This is a great way to prepare for long-term future.

2. Find Ways To Make Budgeting Fun

While creating a budget is not a novel idea; it will absolutely save you money each month. Tech-savvy millennials should capitalize on the inventive nature of online banking apps, like Mint. Mint make budgeting simple by linking the user’s bank account with their credit cards to provide a comprehensive outlook on their current financial state. The application also provides a wealth of tools to help users save money each month, like a free credit check and ways to achieve long-term savings goals. In addition, Mint users can set individual budgets for specific categories, like groceries or dining out. Once users exceed that budget, Mint will send them an alert. Online banking is a great way to stay on top of your money and budget more efficiently.

3. Invest In Yourself

Young millennials may feel under qualified to apply for jobs that offer a higher income, but by investing in themselves during their 20’s, they will be able to develop skills that will aid them in their future. Many local colleges or technical schools offer night or weekend classes or workshops. In addition, those looking to earn an additional income can look into secondary jobs. Bartending, babysitting, and freelancing are all excellent supplemental positions that offer flexibility and added income. These jobs may require long nights or weekend work, however, individuals will benefit from the added income and development of professional and creative skills.

4. Seek out Alternative Solutions

Finally, many young professionals crippled with student loans can often lessen their monthly payments or find alternative solutions to paying it off. Refinancing private loans may be a huge help in terms of monthly payments, and many startups are making the process easier and more attainable. Likewise, students with federal loans may also apply for restructuring their payments through the government. The internet offers a vast resource on ways to consolidate debt so young professionals can focus on saving and preparing for the future.

While saving and creating budgets may not be the most exciting activities for young professionals, these habits will offer benefits for years to come.

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