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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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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.

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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)

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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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Money and Happiness: Experiences VS “Plastic Crap”

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Artist: Crystal Johnson

Have you ever had the thought, “I wish I had something to look forward to!”? When that thought occurs, what are you really wishing for? Are you hoping for a fun experience, or are you hoping for a new toy?

A Trait of Happy People

Happy people buy experiences, not objects. “[A] wandering mind is an unhappy mind.”[1] Throughout your life, people will say anything to get you to buy their product. They try to lure you in by telling you their product is the latest trend, or the item most worth your money. When these thoughts come, remember that your money is your tool to living the life that you want to live.

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Experiencing Dinosaurs: I’m the Kid in the Blue Soccer Jersey

Some Professional Opinions

“If you’re a materialistic individual and life suddenly takes a wrong turn you’re going to have a tougher time recovering from that setback.”[2] Materialistic people who turn to shopping or other types of spending are “likely to [experience] even greater stress and lower well-being.”[3]

Individuals who focus their life on financial success are more likely to have problems adjusting to life and also are likely to have lower well-being.

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Klondike: Bobsled Competition for Boy Scouting
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Experiencing Canoes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most Importantly, it affects our satisfaction with life. Ed Diener, Happiness expert and psychology professor at the University of Illinois said that “[materialism] is open-ended and goes on forever—we can always want more, which is usually not true of other goals such as friendship”.[4]

Basically, Spend your money where it counts. Material things are a necessity, but moderation can help you to live a more fulfilling life.

Need, Want, Luxury.

There is a simple scale called: Need, Want, Luxury. You need transportation to and from work. You want to drive a car. A luxury  for me might be to drive a 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage (okay, weak sauce, but that’s the car I want to drive. That baby gets like 42 MPG!) (Okay, it may not be a luxury topping out at about $8,000).

You may be able to fulfill your need with public transportation to work, maybe you live close enough to school or work that a bicycle will do. The Important part is that your basic needs are fulfilled.

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My Needs Are Filled: Everything Extra is Icing. Don’t Let Icing Distract You From The Cake

After that, your money is Discretionary. Carl Richards, of Behaviour Gap, asks if we really do connect what is important to us and how we spend our money.[5] What is most important to you? Why do you spend the way you do? Do your spending habits come from your community, your parents, or others? That’s probably a strong source of where your money discontentment comes from. How will you change that?

Spend money on things you value, but also on experiences. Valuable experiences can often seem to be counter-intuitive when considering the cost. I recently got a gym membership. I have a free gym at my school, It’s just as nice or nicer than the gym my membership is at. Why would I pay when I have a free gym? It’s worth paying for that membership because of the experience it is with my two childhood friends. The three of us go and have a good laugh, some good lifting, and a friendship that pays me not in money, but in physical health and friendship.

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Volunteering with Hot Air Balloons

 

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   Competitive Ballroom Dance

Science and Money-Happiness

You will be happier if you spend money on things you can experience, but people “still choose to spend their money on material items because they think they’re of greater value.”[6]

Experiences have the power to make us happier. According to researcher Mr. Killingsworth,

“Minds tend to wander to dark, not whimsical, places. Unless that mind has something exciting to anticipate or sweet to remember.” Doctoral Candidate Amit Kumar’s research showed “when you can’t live in a moment, they say, it’s best to live in anticipation of an experience. Experiential purchases like trips, concerts, movies, et cetera, tend to trump material purchases because the utility of buying anything really starts accruing before you buy it.”[7]

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Boat! (Or Getting Stuck)
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 Touring New York
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Pyramid On Top of a Mountain
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Visiting an Indian Reservation
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Removing 400 Cubic Yards of a Forest at a Women’s Shelter in Gore, New Zealand

My Story

I remember being on the beach in New Zealand, standing with my Samoan friend as we watched an airplane fly directly over our head, yet again. Old bricks from houses built during the Great War scattered the seashore. This was the happiest moment of my life. My time, my effort, and my money were devoted to the experiences I wanted to create. I had decided to participate in a ministry for two years. I was a volunteer, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I met with other ministers to try to grow religious involvement in communities, taught lessons and scripture classes with groups and in the homes of families, and actively participated in service projects – vandalism clean up, fence and trail repair, service in soup kitchens, and horseback riding lessons for the disabled were among the many service projects I participated in.

Aside from a green-stone necklace from a dear friend, a few lavalavas, and some Weetabix All Blacks collector cards, I’m not sure I have any tangible souvenirs from that experience; my memories of sitting on a beach with my Samoan friend and watching countless airplanes fly directly overhead offer me some of the greatest and happiest memories of my life.

If you’re going to devote your time, effort and money toward something, wouldn’t you rather it be an experience that may bring anticipation, excitement, and prolonged joyful remembrance? Consider that next time you’re about to buy what I call “plastic crap” or non-essential material things.

Next week I’ll talk about some techniques for crafting your own personal vision so you can start aligning your values and money and avoid the “plastic crap” mind-set.

Jacob Johnson
-Jacob is a fidget-er who is always changing things, He spends his time making vision boards, experiencing things, and perusing business cards from years ago. If you want to add to his business card collection, send him one!

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Articles:

Experiences Vs Crap Design by Crystal Johnson.

[1] Hamblin, James. “Buy Experiences, Not Things.” The Atlantic, 7 Oct. 2014, www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/10/buy-experiences/381132/

[2] Ruvio, A., Somer, E. & Rindfleisch, A. J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2014) 42: 90. doi:10.1007/s11747-013-0345-6,
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/02/materialism-health-effects_n_4344056.html

[3] Ruvio, A., Somer, E. & Rindfleisch, A. J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2014) 42: 90. doi:10.1007/s11747-013-0345-6
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/02/materialism-health-effects_n_4344056.html

[4] Diener, Ed. “6 Reasons Why People – Not Things – Will Make You Happier.” The Huffington Post, 2 December 2013, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/02/materialism-health-effects_n_4344056.html

[5] Richards, Carl. “Do Your Values Align with Your Money & Time?” Behavior Gap, 22 April, 2015, www.behaviorgap.com/do-your-values-align-with-your-money-time/

[6] “Proof That Life Experiences — Not Things — Make You Happier.” The Huffington Post, 3 April 2014, www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/03/life-experiences-happier-material-things_n_5072591.html

[7] Hamblin, James. “Buy Experiences, Not Things.” The Atlantic, 7 Oct. 2014, www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/10/buy-experiences/381132/

 

Here are A Bunch of other Experiences!