My time management used to suck when it came to my career and my personal life. 6pm would creep up and I would be so confused because I hadn’t finished any work I had set out to complete that morning. My weekends would swirl by with clothes still unwashed and errands still pending. Again, my time management sucked and once I noticed it was hindering my professional growth and leisure I actively looked for ways to change. Before I address ways to change let’s do a quick self-assessment to recognize if you may need to change the way you’re using your 24hrs.
At work do you find yourself?
1. Missing deadlines you initially thought you could meet
2. Always rushing to complete a task so you can move on to the next one
3. Being a ‘yes man’ to extra projects
At home/ on the weekends do you find yourself?
1. Consistently putting off what you said you would do
2. Always late to meet up with your girlfriends
3. Not taking on the task you feel you need to go to the next level in life
I was and for some still am guilty of these. Multiple aspects could cause you to do the actions above, they are frequent occurrences in everyday life unfortunately, but a key driver you can change is time. I realized that the common theme to time management is me management, in other words, coming to understand myself. I was in a rut, I felt stuck because my career was stagnate and I was feeling the same as I did the year before, so I picked up a book which helped ignite my epiphany. I will save those details for another post but in short within that process I realized my poor time management was one of the aspects of myself that was holding me back. After trying multiple methods, attending a few trainings, readings, speaking with my peers/mentors, I found the combination of actions below work for me. When I say ‘work’ I mean this list allows me to get what I need to get done on time, rarely rush, understand what I can handle, and move to my next level.
1. Account for every single hour of your day every day
This week I received my monthly CalCPA magazine which featured these gorgeous women making a footprint in their careers. Every month I scowl the mag for great career advice that I can share and happily I found a great read. The ladies, who are all in finance & accounting, share their insight into some common career focal points. Check out the quick read below to learn more about how these women thrive in the business world.
I pulled what I thought was the most notable career advice for any avenue:
While on your journey, work hard and be true to yourself. Strive every day to do your best and learn as much as you can.
Success doesn’t happen overnight, but with the right environment and the right work ethic anything is possible
The best mentors in my career have developed organically and naturally, through people I’ve met. You should seek out your mentors- people you admire and get along with.
I see the impact of the board of directors on an organization, so why not create your own personal board of directors?
Today, in many cases, women can set their expectations as high as they want and their success will depend upon their actions.
It’s hard to not be inspired by Sophia Amoruso, CEO/Founder of Nasty Gal, who is thee ultimate symbol of the Effortless Composition ‘personal style+personal career’ motto. I have not yet read her book #GirlBoss which details how she grew the online clothing shop into a multi-million dollar company, but I plan to soon.
This video came across my desk and really bumped it up on my to do list. Watching the clip reassured me that my dreams are worth pursuing, unconventional and all! The quick interview with the Wall Street Journal touches on being the CEO Nasty Gal and the work wardrobe. I had to share it with you ladies and I hope it gives you the inspiration you need to conquer the week.
“Get a mentor” “I met with my mentor” “My mentor told me” mentor this and that blah blah! You have probably heard these phrases from your co-workers or girlfriends; its a common theme among young women so I imagine you may have once pondered the thought of what having a mentor really means. Well, thats of course if your like me, a young woman who hasn’t actually had a true mentor before recently. I wasn’t privy to this type of support system growing up or even in college so it was a new concept for me up until a year ago.
So now that the research is done I figured I would share a important tidbit about mentoring: What Qualities you Should Be Looking for ?
“why haven’t i started saving?”
I have been out of college for about 3 years now and I just started contributing to my 401K retirement account. For 3 years I had the opportunity to begin contributing but I kept putting it off, mistakenly. For many reasons, some we may have in common, I just could not bring myself to let the money go. I was scared I would be broke, I figured I had a ton of time (i’m nowhere close to 50), scared I wouldn’t be able to shop, figured the little money wouldn’t make a difference in the long run, to scared to admit I didn’t fully understand the process, made excuses because my company didn’t match. Looking back all of the reasons appear small to me, based on the mindset of fear, a mindset that young powerful women like ourselves should not entertain. It’s funny because I am accountant and I heard this all the time, but it just sunk in for me when my new company automatically enrolled me in our 401K @ 1% of my pay.
So I realized today that I should share with you guys some good to know facts about 401K accounts and hopefully get you guys motivated to go enroll in a plan, learn more, or up your savings percentage……
First realize that people may say IRA (individual retirement account) or 401K interchangeably, but overall they refer to the same concept. Many different forms are out there but I will only discuss the Traditional IRA (401K) and the ROTH IRA.
- First find out if your company has a matching plan (FREE MONEY, take advantage)
- 403b refers to nonprofit/government retirement plans
- Roth contributions are after tax and traditional contributions are before tax
- Remember savings should not be withdrawn until you are 59 1/2
- Starting early is important, you should at least be contributing $50/month
- You get a tax benefit for contributing (potential refund increase or credit)
- A traditional 401K is usually a tax deductible plan which allows you to make pre-tax contributions.
- e.g. – if you make 50K/year and contribute 1% you will end up contributing $500 by the end of the year to your retirement savings account. That approximately 19 bucks from every pay check.
- Upon withdrawal traditional 401k’s are taxed as ordinary income with no special reduced tax rate.
- If you take money from your traditional 401k before the specified age you will incur a 10% penalty unless you did things like:
- bought your 1st home within 120 days
- used money for medical insurance
- used money for education
- A ton of hypothetical calculations can be made but typically, waiting just 5 years to contribute can cause you to miss out on at least $40,000 ( PT $50 contribution,match, with good rate of return)
- A ROTH 401k is a non tax deductible plan which allows you to make after-tax contribution.
- e.g.- similar to the scenario above but after your job takes the takes out your gross pay.
- With ROTH accounts you can pay now and withdraw later without having to pay taxes (restrictions apply)
- The yearly max contribution to a ROTH is currently 5500, but changes every year with tax laws.
- Traditional accounts can rollover to a ROTH account
SOOO now that you have all those confusing basics, how much and which one? hmm again all relative. At least 50 bucks a month should be your minimum. As far as which one without going into governmental what ifs, the thought is later in life you will more than likely be in a higher tax bracket so now is the time to invest in your ROTH to take advantage of your low tax rate. I don’t yet, I would recommend taking complete advantage of your company match if available by doing the traditional 401k . But, IT ALL DEPENDS on your tax bracket and your argument, but the final question is when do you want to pay tax?
I have a ton of scenarios which you can email me for if your interested in knowing more about 401ks. Please invest now!
As a young woman with so many things to worry about it’s easy to put managing your finances on the back burner. 401K? Savings? Investments? Student Loans? Car Payments? Credit Cards? etc. who has time for all of this!?!? I know what your thinking cause i’ve been there, and I actually work in finance! Its hard, its overwhelming, its stressful and at the end of the day I would rather buy clothes. But, we all know now is the time to stop being scared to look at your balances and take control. That clothing purchase would e better appreciated if it wasn’t bought with your last, if you weren’t going into debt, and you knew in the back of your mind you could afford it. Those new shoes may just look better if you skipped out on a few other shoes you wanted to set up a emergency fund. Looking good is just as important as feeling good, and having a good handle on your finances just feels GOOD! A good starting point to try is MINT.COM, a blessing in disguise :-). Read my tips below to find out more about MINT and how it can help you!
Mint is FREE software that allows you to
- Track your current balances for bank accounts, credit cards, students loans, personal loans, etc.
- Set up Budgets to monitor how much you may be spending on things like shopping!
- Monitor you Debt-Ratio
- Stay on top of upcoming bills
Mint helps because
- You can get email alerts just as a friendly reminder
- It allows you to have all of your financial avenues in one spot
- On the go access to your finances when you need to make a decision (THERE IS AN APP FOR THAT)
Tips to get the best out of your Mint account
- Download the app on your phone!
- Spend some time setting up a realistic budget- this will be useful when you need a quick reference or reality check
- Don’t be scared- Mint is a secured site owned by Intuit and your social security number is not required. Real the security documents before you put your information in to ensure your comfortable!
Come back next week for more tips on how to own your finances and career choices as a young professional.
If you have had a chance to wonder over to my ‘About Me’ page you probably (hopefully) got my message that I want Effortless Composition to about Style and Young Professionals. I hope all of my readers can find great use of the information I have to share.
So, the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Exam, where do I begin with this love/hate relationship. The best and the worst thing I have ever accomplished was passing these exams, kind of like getting over an ex-significant other. It drove me crazy as hell trying to get through it but the beneficial aftermath is indescribable. To give you a little more information if you are unfamiliar with this career path CPA’s are typically your auditors, tax preparers, CPA firm partners, and other industry personnel in finance/accounting. It’s a four-part test, 2-4 hours per test, which you have a year and a half to pass. The benefit of this certification is like any other, better career opportunities and you feel great. If you are planning to or in the process of taking your exams I salute you! It will be a wild ride but well worth it; here goes my two cents…
1. Use Flash Cards
- I overlooked how beneficial these were when I first began the exams. Pick up or create a stack that you can look over for the two weeks before the exam to get those key topics jammed in your memory. Also try creating your own mnemonic’s.
2. Take a Look at the Schedule
- I failed the REG section once before I passed, I got a 74, and I cried like a baby at work. After talking to my career counselors I realized how important it is to consider when other CPA exam candidates are taking their exams. I took my REG exam right after the TAX busy season (ever tax person takes this test right after because they just learned it) which tends to affect the curve of the exam (remember you are ranked in accordance with your peers).