Monthly Archives: December 2016

How Did You Select Your College and Major?

Must be a coincidence, but lately I have been hearing about a lot of people that are going back to school in their 20’s and 30’s to get additional degrees in an effort to increase their income. Those college majors people picked when they were 17, 18, or 19 apparently aren’t bringing home the bacon or maybe their career’s earning potential isn’t in line with their goals such as getting married and buying a house, and maybe having a couple kids.

It’s pretty crazy to think that many of us make decisions at age 17 that greatly impact the rest of our careers. Unfortunately, I don’t remember high school teachers stressing picking a major that will pay the bills or going to the state school to save money.

Personally, I began thinking about college seriously as a sophomore in high school. I always did well in math and science and knew if I wanted to do well in college I should probably pick a major which encompasses one of those subjects. As I got more serious about the college hunt in my junior year, something took over my thought process – money.

I knew that I would receive some family support for college but, more likely than not, I would have to foot a majority of the bill. I purchased college guides which ranked schools by major, location, cost, projected income, and other categories to perform my analysis. I was pretty disappointed with the average wages the college guides noted for many majors. My father was a blue collar worker and never stepped foot in a college and I knew his salary was higher than a lot of the majors that my book was projecting. That made me realize that if I was going to spend four years attending college and paying for it, I would need to get a major that would make it worth it financially.

After I conducted all my research I knew it would be a good fit for me to major in a business or engineering field. Both had a math component, and both had good earning potential. I realized I enjoyed the stock market and reading about businesses a lot more than I enjoyed learning how to code (I dropped that awful class in high school) or physics. Eventually during my freshman year of college I settled on an accounting major. It was pretty evident that making six figures by age 30 or sooner was definitely doable, especially with a CPA designation. I had always done well with standardized testing, so I figured this would be a good route to take. Without ruining the surprise, majoring in accounting has been a great move for me, and I’m glad I considered the potential earning power of my degree when I was a teenager.

For those who want their college majors to pay off for them, I would select a major that does two things. First, find a major that you like (not love). Second, find a major that has a six figure earning potential within 10 years of graduating. Now if you can find a major that leads to a career you love and are passionate about, AND earns six figures, well then that is a no-brainer to go after. The last thing you want is a major that leads to a career that doesn’t pay more than a career you could have gotten without the degree, especially if you aren’t passionate about it.

How did you select your college major? Did the degree’s earning potential get factored into your decision? Did you ever go back to school because your first degree didn’t bring home the bacon?

2016 Year in Review & 2017 Goals

2016 is drawing to a close. It has been an extremely busy, yet great year. I moved to the Midwest to live with my girlfriend. I purchased a bicycle that I use all the time (until recently when the weather decided to snow everyday and not break 30 degrees). I traveled a little too much for work and weddings. And I kicked butt financially.

First let’s recap what my 2016 financial goals were when I set them last December:

  1. Max out pre-tax 401kPASS – I planned on doing this by September but actually got there in July.
  2. Max out Roth IRAPASS
  3. Max out my HSAPASS
  4. Pay off my student loansPASS – I’m debt free!
  5. Save 100% of my raise and bonusPASS – This has been going directly to my brokerage account.
  6. Contribute to my after-tax brokerage account as much as possible – PASS

As you can see I batted 1.000 financially in 2016. Moving out of Manhattan to the Midwest definitely helped me on the expense side, while busting my ass at work lead to a pretty decent increase in income. The US equity market has also been on a tear in 2016 which was icing on the cake.

The GF started cutting my hair as well and the $60 clippers I purchased paid for themselves in three haircuts. This will be a $300+ run-rate cost savings for me. Also if you want to test your relationship to see if it is cut out for the long haul, this is one way to test that REAL quick. Luckily we are still together.

Here were my 2016 non-financial goals:

  1. Get to the gym 4x per week and hit a 315# squat, 225# bench, and 405# deadliftFAIL – If I work a “normal” 40 hour week I definitely get to the gym four times in a week. But if we are traveling to visit family and friends, or going on vacation, or I’m traveling for work, this definitely doesn’t happen. Also I have been battling a little knee injury which I am just starting to get over, so my numbers aren’t near where I’d like them to be.
  2. Try and negotiate a remote work arrangement for at least six monthsPASS – I’m at seven months and going strong!
  3. Read more books in 2016Half-PASS – I have definitely read more in 2016 than any other year, but still nowhere near where I want to be. Need to prioritize this more.
  4. Travel – Half-PASS – We went on a cruise in February, but then the rest of my travel was mostly work or wedding related. While I definitely enjoy traveling to see friends and family, the weddings get in the way of the time we have to travel for pleasure. I have also realized too much personal travel is stressful for me, at least while working full-time. I think I need to tone down the travel ambition, at least while I’m working. Maybe this will change down the line once I pull the plug from working for a paycheck.

2017 financial goals:

My 2017 financial goals will remain the same as 2016, with the exception of paying off my student loans since they are gone, and include maxing out all tax advantaged accounts I have at my disposal and investing what is left into my after-tax brokerage account.

2017 non-financial goals:

  1. Get to the gym 4x per week and hit a 315# squat, 225# bench, and 405# deadlift – let’s try this again.
  2. Remain in my remote work arrangement – As long as I can keep up with my current stressful/demanding career, I know I want to do it remotely. I have no plans of moving back to metro NYC to trudging to the office everyday.
  3. Pass the Series 65 – I have been thinking about a second career a lot lately. I’ve been giving financial advice for years to family, friends, and coworkers for free and have enjoyed helping others tremendously. The Series 65 is an exam you need to pass before you can give investment advice for money.
  4. Read more – Self explanatory. I like non-fiction.
  5. Buy a mountain bike – I like my hybrid bike so much I’m going to get a mountain bike as well. There are some nice trails near me that I want shred.

Currently I’m looking forward to two weeks off of work coming up and our trip to Cancun (if anyone is going to be in Cancun the first week of January – let me know!). I hope you all had a great 2016 as well and were able to crush all your goals, financial and not. Thanks for reading in 2016 and happy holidays!

How was your 2016? What does 2017 have in store for you?