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The Ultimate Cost Saver in College: 4 steps

My father during his last semester of college told my mom, “Wait… I don’t want to major in business. I want to be a chef”.

Needless to say, he didn’t go to chef school. Many of us spend years bouncing around in majors of college and end up with all this needless classwork.

This is the key to saving both Time and Money in college.

Get the Right Major the First Time

This is easier than it sounds. First, you need a vision. If you don’t have one, use this nifty little template. (Jokes, that’s a link to my article about writing a vision statement)

But seriously, the most important thing in deciding your major is knowing who you REALLY are. Who are you? What makes you tick? Figure that out.

Here’s the process:

  1. Lists about you
  2. Interviews
  3. Comparison Charts
  4. Have 1 “figure-it-out” semester

This is the process I used to break into my major quickly. The reason it’s so good in saving you money is because of the time you spend going to college. Sure, earning a couple scholarships for $400 or $500 a piece is great, but if you can go to school for 2 semesters less because you didn’t change a major, then you just saved 2 semesters of tuition which is average about $9-10,000 dollars.

Here is, The Ultimate Cost Saver in College.

Step 1: Lists

List out 20 majors you’re interested in.

List out 20 Jobs you could enjoy doing.

It’s important to get to a larger number, so you really consider things you actually enjoy. Everyone is able to find 3 or 4 things they like, but can you get 20? Narrow it down to a top 5. Maybe a trusted friend, or therapist, or coach, or school counselor could help you narrow the list down a bit.

My Step 1: I was deciding what I wanted to do with my life after finishing a 2 year service mission in New Zealand.  The starting list included skills with dancing (I was a 4th place Titleist in Youth-American-Smooth at BYU Nationals in Ballroom in 2013), a love for computers, good conversational skills (I hope), loving people, loving group interactions, breaking ideas into pieces, loving competition and other factors. It was easy to identify event planning, financial services, and global supply chain management as 3 possible majors, among others.

Step 2: Interviews

Find people in each industry that you know (or don’t!) and interview them. This is cake. Ask people on social media, google companies that work in that industry, it’s not too hard to find someone. Most respectable people will give you 15 minutes to interview them.

You need good questions: Here is a basic list:

What makes your job worth it?

How did you end up working in this industry?

How much do people get paid working in your industry?

How do you help people?

What are the best certifications or skills to learn success?

What personality types work well in this industry?

How do you get into the industry running fast?

Is this a 40 hour a week job? How much time do you need to invest to achieve excellence?

Interviewing  5 people in each industry will give you a good way to benchmark what they enjoy, pros and cons, income levels, what they hate, skills they utilize frequently, career path and progression, and other little details you want to know.

My Step 2: After calling up a few old friends, and posting on Facebook about wanting to talk to professionals in these areas (in separate posts on different days. Posting a list of things on Facebook gets zero responses. and you want more than zero), I was able to interview a few event planners, financial planners, and a few supply chain management experts. The leader of my service mission (over 200+ of us missionaries) was a supply chain expert for UPS during his working days, my old dance partners father is a financial planner, and a man from my church back home is a very successful event planner. This grew into more interviews. My Girlfriend sent me to the finance guy for her company at a local Edward Jones branch. My interviews grew and grew and I really learned the good, the bad, and the ugly of each industry.

Step 3: Compare

If you’ve read many of my articles, you’ve probably seen that I often say “Ask your friend, boss, etc to shorten down this list with you.” or “Ask your friend if that’s really you”.

Same here! Ask people what they think, and maybe make a weighted list or pros and cons for each, then weight how important that is to you. Then you can almost make a weighted average of how important it is.

My Step 3: I didn’t make a weighted list for this (Such a Hypocrite, ae?) but I’ve done this with many projects. Deciding where to spend money, choosing to live at home or live on my own during college, If I should paint my room blue on the top half or blue on the bottom half, and other ‘very important’ decisions, or less important decisions.

 Step 4: It’s okay to have a “Figure-it-out” semester

Maybe it’d be good to take one semester and take 1 or 2 classes in each major you’ve picked. It’s also a great time to talk to counselors and teachers and continue working on clarifying step 3 (compare) and spend more time on step 2 (interviews).

Realize that rushing through college isn’t fun. There are scholarships you can get while in school, there are lots of governmental aid that you can get, and there is college life. Do you really want to be out of school in the big world at 21? Consider studying abroad, finding side hustle opportunities, start a business, do something epic during school time. Summer is the opportunity to work at a hotel in Alaska, work on a fishing boat on the sea, working in hospitality in Australia, or building up certifications, skills, and hobbies that can contribute to your overall balance in life.

Remember,

Lists, Interviews, Comparison tables, and Take a semester to figure it out.

Jacob Johnson

The Financial Ginger

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Get The Job. 3 Sure-Fire Ways to Impress (Before You Ask For The Job)

Before you can make smart financial decisions, you need to have money. Why not explain how to get the job?

My Friend, Larry, asked me the other day if I knew anything about resumes. I told him SURE! Let me get you a good template and some other fun things. I helped him and reviewed his resume. He got a job interview. He got the job. Here are 3 tips to getting that job.

Three Things: Resume, Elevator Speech, Good Knowledge

Resume

First, you need your resume to look desirable. A Good Resume has the following information
1) Your contact information
2) Your Purpose Statement
3) A Skills/Qualifications list
4) Your Work Experience
5) Your Education Experience

They need to each be relevant and overall your Resume should never ever ever ever eeevveeerr be longer than 1 page. This is why.

“When I hired at JCPennys and Home Depot, I’d receive hundreds of applications for a single job opening. Anything over 1 page I threw away.” -Dana Johnson, Store Manager

Employers have no time for your lack of brevity and concision. Heck, If this was more than 800 words long, you probably wouldn’t read this article! You probably thought “It’s 3 things to get hired. I can do three things”. Click-Bait at its finest. (You can join my click-bait mailing list here. #ShamelessAdvertising)

Elevator Speech

The elevator speech: “Hello, My name is Jacob Johnson and I’m a student of Personal Financial Planning at Utah Valley University. I get excited about connecting people to their finances. I study tax planning, insurance risk, and retirement planning so that I can help others to see their big financial picture. As a Counselor and President at the Money Management Resource Center, a free services for students, I help individuals and couples with student loans, debt management, budgeting, and general financial questions.

Would you stop by our office in the Woodbury Business building to see how we can help you feel more at peace with your finances?”

The good elevator speech has 3 important factors:

The Introduction– Which is why I’m here
“I get excited about connecting people to their finances. I study tax planning, insurance risk, and retirement planning so that I can help others to see their big financial picture.”
The Explanation– What you’re doing about your dream
“As a Counselor and President at the Money Management Resource Center, a free services for students, I help individuals and couples with student loans, debt management, budgeting, and general financial questions.”
The Invitation– Tell them what you want them to do (Often times, this is in the form of a question or request)
“Would you stop by our office in the Woodbury Business building to see how we can help you feel more at peace with your finances”

Now your invitation could be different: it could be a request for an interview, requirements about the internship, or consideration to hire you or give you an internship.

Research Them

Last, you need to know the company! You should know some history about them, where they started, their mission statement, and maybe a little bit about where you want to be in their company.

I’d recommend also getting some good questions to ask. How do you get business, How do people climb the ladder, What are the requirements to move up, How frequently do you hire… Just make sure that you’re asking good questions that demonstrate your excitement and knowledge about working in that industry. This will make it easy and natural to talk to them regardless of path; email, phone call, in person, etc.

“You sound a thousand times more intelligent when you have prepared intelligent and meaningful (but not overly complicated) questions… when I was assistant manager…I got to sit in and help interview people. And let me tell you, you seem significantly more prepared, intelligent and eager for the job when you prepare a few questions.” – Flia

What are some of your best moves to make sure you get the job? Share it below!

Join the Facebook group to tag along with the community!

-Jacob Johnson
The Financial Ginger

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The Financial BlabberMouth
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Visions Part 3: Brain to Paper – 3 Places to Start

“How about… idea streaming? Like when you have this massive goal in mind but no idea how to get there. How to break it down into achievable components.” – Athena M.

Idea Streaming: From Brain to Paper

Thanks Athena!

Some of you have emailed me telling you that you don’t even know where to start with getting your ideas from mind to paper. We need that vision statement! You have sent me so many wonderful visions. Here are 3 ideas that I’ve personally used to write my vision statement.

1) Personal Relationships!

A good place to start is with those who you know well, whom you trust, and family members. Try to ask them these types of questions:

“What are some things I’ve always been good at?”
“What careers do you see me working in?”
“How do I communicate with people?”
“What is my biggest strength?”
“What’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever seen me do?”
“Why can’t I become a professional Oreo eater?”

And why not ask yourself some questions, nothing is more personal than yourself.

Think of your Core being:
What is your purpose?
How will you find peace in life?
What are things that really amaze and inspire you?
What do you always enjoy, even when you’re tired?
What do you believe is possible for you?
What is your biggest limiting belief?
If you left tomorrow forever, what what you have wanted to do today?
Here are a few question lists to get you thinking:

Get To Know Yourself: 29 Questions to Discover the Real You

20 Questions to Know Yourself Better and Unlock the Immense Potential Within

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/08/06/5-ways-to-get-to-know-yourself-better/

http://tinybuddha.com/blog/getting-to-know-yourself-what-you-like-and-what-you-want-in-life/

2) Think Categories and Goals

This is my favorite way to do things.
I organize things into 5 categories

1) Physical (Food/Exercise)
2) Emotional (Relationships/Feelings)
3) Spiritual
4) Educational (Learning/ Occupational)
5) Financial

If you consider these 5 categories and where you want to be with each one, or where you can improve, or skills you already have in that area, you can learn alot.

3) Tests!

Okay, So maybe I lied. This is my favorite. I’ve taken sooooo many personality tests. I loved the ones in 8th grade that would say, “You could be a great Accountant or Firefighter.”

Here are some of my FAVORITE personality tests:

Myers&Briggs Test: I’m an ENFP (Extrovert, Intuition, Feeling, Perceiving), But I score really close to a Thinker (instead of a Feeler). I’m basically 100% on Extrovert.

ColorCode Test: I’m a Yellow: I inject shots of enthusiasm and optimism. I’m charismatic, spontaneous, and sociable. (Pretty much everyone loves me. It’s a fact: look it up)

Strengths Finder 2.0: see your top skills: I’m an Includer (Involve EVERYONE), Maximizer (Make pieces better), “Woo” (I want people to like me), Ideation (breaking down ideas into pieces), Communication (I tell people things). You can see this influence my vision statement. This test also comes with 3 sections: 1) awareness, 2) Application: with 10 action items for each, 3) Achievement: Quotes and what success sounds like for each of your top skills.

HowToFascinate: This is a great test that gives you some adjectives that describe you along with  a primary and secondary “Advantage”. I’m a Trendsetter: Innovation and Prestige are my “Advantages”. Cutting edge, Elite, Progressive, Imaginative, Edgy. This test, for a price, can give you pages of data about power words, how to explain yourself, and ways to utilize that in a business sense.

Culture Index (INC): I don’t know where to find this test, but I took one when I applied for a job and was emailed a printout of it. It gave me an ABCD score, an EU score, and an LI score which I have no idea what is. This test talks about how you work with individuals and companies. “Self-Reliant, Initiator, Effective with Setting my own priorities, quick paced and likes to handle problems right when they arise even if it means multitasking…” and other valuable information.
My favorite gem is this: “Prefers to delegate the completion of tasks to others, but is capable of limited attention to detail.” This is true! I start 100 things and finish 12 of them… and get my little sister to finish 4 of them, my brother to do 3, and my roomate to do 6 more. The rest are forgotten and eventually dumped into the pit, like in the movie “Inside Out”.

DISC: I’m an Influencer- I like to collaborate and dislike being ignored in teams and groups. There are four types: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, Conscientiousness. This provides insights in how you work with team.

These tests are vital in crafting out information about yourself. Did I miss any? Let me know if there are others you like, and I’ll update this list.

Last Thoughts

An online place to organize your thoughts like Mindmeister or another website could be great for organizing or laying out your thoughts. It’s a difficult task, but is worth it. then, make that vision board, write that personal vision statement, and utilize them daily to accomplish you.

why?

Because knowing yourself and your goals is the first step in getting your money to work properly. It’s also they key to happiness. When your Money and your Dreams align, you will be happy.

Please feel free to share your thoughts, your vision board, your vision statement, or your test results for any of these tests! Maybe I’ll feature you on my website or in an article (with permission of course).

Happy Financing!

-Jacob Brad Johnson
The Financial Ginger

OnACouch
Drive a couch down the street! #GoalAccomplished
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Personal Vision: Part 2 – Vision Boards

Your Vision is in hand, but now what do you do with it? This is how to take your vision from paper, to action items.

Money is important. But your “why” behind your money is almost more important. Infact, It is more important.

I want money for a few reasons, I want to provide for a family I hope to have, I intend to use money to create a foundation to increase financial literacy in Utah, I want to be involved in Scouting and christian missionary work. There are reasons to the money. “Money for the Sake of Money” isn’t happiness. As I talked about in an earlier article, Experiences bring happiness, not “Plastic Crap”.

Many friends of mine have come to me asking, “How do you figure out what you want to do?”

Here is my answer.

How I Chose Financial Planning

I went to a small school, graduated from high school with an associate’s degree, then moved to Brigham Young University (BYU) studying Computer Science. I thought it was what I loved. My whole family works in computers, Dad, Brother, Little Brother. I’m different. During 2 years as a service missionary and proselyting minister for Jesus Christ to the wonderful people of New Zealand, I learned a thing or two about myself. This insight is a blessing. Jacob Johnson is a people man, he loves working with people, helping them, teaching them, breaking down their big ideas into pieces, which he then builds up into good points. Ideation, Maximzation, Includer, Communication, “Woo”-factor. When I jumped back into school, the answer wasn’t computer science. Quick talks with people sent me to try global supply chain management, marketing, and financial planning. Marketing people I interviewed all hated what they did, unless they were in charge of their work or ran their own firm. Supply chain was awesome except I don’t want to travel 6-10 months a year, not in the ropes for having a family. My old ballroom dance partner’s father was a financial guy. He loved his job. Dude from my girlfriends work did finances. Loved his job. Everyone I talked to that worked in financials loved what they did. Private firm, big company, RIA, Broker/Dealer, Insurance agents, 9 co-workers, 1 co-worker, 80 co-workers. They each loved it. They also did what I thought was great. They taught, they did technical work, they moved around, they left the office to visit and help, they weren’t stagnant, they were involved in the community, they were happy fun loving people; the people around them were happy.
The signs were enough. I knew where I belonged. So, I packed up from BYU and moved over to Utah Valley University (UVU) where tuition was $20 more expensive and the Financial Planning program has topped the charts since it’s been around with three times as many students as any other program in the U.S. only 400.

Gainz
This Should Be On Every Vision Board

How a Vision Board Got Me There

I’ll be honest, My vision was in pieces on my phone, in my wallet, papers on my desk, notes in other odd places, bits of my memory. AKA it was a disaster. I finally straightened out my vision board.

Purpose of a Vision Board

Vision boards connect actions with goals. Sometimes we are doing the right things, but it’s getting us no-where because it isn’t connected to our vision. Sometimes we have a vision, but no actions connected. The vision board is the intersection. It’s a logically and conveniently placed object that contains our current dreams and goals.

Daily as you consider the actions you will take, consider your board. Do they align with your goal? If not, 1) remove it from your to-do list, 2) add a new goal to your vision board, 3) do it anyways and wonder why you’re still where you’re at.

Nightly as you review what you’ve done. Consider your progress on your vision. Did your actions connect? Do you need to adjust any of your dreams?

Basically, the vision board removes waste, and focuses your efforts. Efficiency.

Creating A Vision board

Remember your vision statement you made in A Personal Vision? Whip that bad boy out, and read it. I’d recommend making reading your final vision statement daily as part of your confidence building routine. That should be a good base to start off. What is written on that that ties to things you want to achieve. Is a degree part of that? Is starting a company, changing industries, going to the gym, starting a blog, selling to 20 new clients, getting 3 computer monitors, etc on that?

Consider 5 areas:

  1. Financial – Where is my money going, how will I make it, how will I manage it.
  2. Physical – Fitness, eating, outdoor activities
  3. Social – Friendships, spouses, old friends, building a business network
  4. Emotional –
  5. Intellectual – reading books, developing your business skills, utilizing your brain, how do you waste time on your phone.

Also, Consider your Big Rocks. What are your responsibilities and titles? Parent, CEO, Small Business Consultant, Teacher, Brother, Minister, Soccer Coach, Student, ETC. What are the big visions you have for them?

Where to put it

It goes wherever you will see it the absolute most. Mine is right by my bed. Blue tape boarder, with pictures taped inside it. Maybe it needs to be in the kitchen on the fridge, or by your front door (though it can be hard to make it personal there)

Vision Board - Draft #1
An Early Version of My vision boards – Painters Tape and Photos

Areas of My Board – Money Gets Everywhere!

Now you might say, Jacob. This isn’t financial. YES IT IS. If you don’t have mastery of your vision and actions, you will never have control of your finances. It doesn’t make a difference if you make $25,000, or $250,000. I know people in both who are millionaires, I know people in both who still live paycheck to paycheck.

Every single task I do that makes me money is somehow connected to my vision board. That’s how simple it is.

Control your actions, create your vision. Utilize it daily. Happiness will ensue.

Share with me a picture of your vision board, or a copy of your vision statement and I’ll feature it in an article! Email me on my contact page or Here

-Jacob Johnson

Jacob is a crazy Vision Board wielder who also dabbles with small business review software, and financial counseling at UVU. He is an avid supporter of financial education and loves to work with event groups to get finances incorporated. Want me to speak or teach a class? Ask me Here

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Saving, not owning, up to yourself

One of my friends who is now a “gym-rat” was telling me about how his brother tagged along with him to invigorate his body with some work outs.

My friend has been at it hard for several years now, and I’d say though he’s definitely not Arnold Schwarzenegger, his bod is mod. He was expounding how his brother was quite upset after a few weeks. I can imagine the conversation going like this.

“Ugh. Why do you lift so much more than me!” the newcomer said.

The response, from my practical and no-need-to-hide-truth friend to his brother: “I’ve been at this for two years. How can you expect to be as strong as me after two weeks?

How can you expect to have as much savings as your friend who dragged you along to visit their CFP® counsellor. How can I expect to have as much experience and knowledge as the man who hired me as an intern for the summer? He has 40 years of experience. The principles of finance are the same as weight lifting. Judge yourself based on where you are now. The best place to start, is where you are currently standing.

Resisting the impulse to compare yourself to others is a difficult one, and one that requires a ton of practice, patience, and of course failure from time to time. It’s like learning to ride a bike; you start with training wheels and, if you’re me, still end up falling off the monsterous thing and splitting your chin open on that random rock that’s in your driveway (I’m still bitter about that if you can’t tell).

Speaking of bitter, you can’t hold past mistakes against yourself either. You made a bad choice in taking out that auto-loan. Fine! You’ve never had credit in your life and can’t even pass a check to get an auto-loan. Fine! You’ve tried four fad diets and *shocker* none of them worked.  Fine!

Here is where you start: Stop comparing yourself to others! Start comparing you to yourself and others who are at the point where you are.
Example: In my financial counselling class, where am I compared to these other kids with similar experience?
Bad Example: Walking into a room of M.D’s, where am I compared to these professionals with 30 years of brain surgery under their belt about identifying which nerve may or may not completely paralyze the patient permanently?

Let’s compare this to our financial selves. You’ve heard a thousand times that you need to start saving for yourself… I wrote down 10 of them when writing and then deleted them; you don’t need to hear it again. Why? Because you don’t need to own up to anyone else except you for your actions.

Napoleon Hill said it best,

“The right sort of actions require no embellishment of words. One of the most common mistakes is making excuses to explain why we do not succeed. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people in the world —those who do not succeed — are excuse-makers. They try to explain their action, or inaction, with words. When you succeed, accept the congratulations of others with good grace; when you fail, take responsibility for your actions, learn from your mistakes, and move on to more constructive things. When your actions are appropriate in every circumstance, you will never feel the need to explain them with words. Your actions will say all that needs to be said.” -Napoleon Hill (NapHill.org)

If you are doing the best you can, no explanation is needed. But just like building a credit score, it is time to start building your financial experience. You choose how you are going to start saving, then start doing it!

Remember, the best time for change is when things change for you.

New college student: I’m going to build my credit score by dropping $50 on a secured credit card so I can have revolving credit go on my record.

Go out of state for a summer internship: Start working on them biceps and fat legs with that special Planet Fitness $1 down $10 a month deal you saw. (This isn’t much to do with finance, but it’s so true for me right now)

New job after graduation: I’m going to open a second bank account and put 10% of my wages into that so I’m saving.

Job change: I’m going to do better by maxing out my company 401(k) contributions  that they match.

Moved across the country with your three children: We are going to start putting aside that $400 a month we’re saving on rent and save it for our children’s tuition in a 529 Savings Plan.

Shia LaBeouf proclaimed it best,

Don’t let your dreams be dreams
Yesterday you said tomorrow
So just do it
Make your dreams come true
Just do it

Some people dream of success
While you’re gonna wake up and work hard at it
Nothing is impossible

You should get to the point
Where anyone else would quit
And you’re not going to stop there
No, what are you waiting for?

Just Do It

Start saving, Just Do It. Start dancing, Just Do It. Step toward your goal and feel alive, Just Do It.

When you make a choice, don’t explain it to anyone. Don’t own up to anyone.

Own up to yourself.

 

 

-Jacob Johnson

Student of Financial Planning at Utah Valley University
Member of UVU’s student chapter of the FPA Association
Intern with Searcy Financial Services

  • Guest editing and creative writing advice from my good friend Rebekah White! Look forward to more of her powerful skills in making writing legible! Maybe next time I’ll even put some of her contact information in here.