Archive | September 2012

Retirement for the Millenial Generation

It’s never too early to begin thinking about, planning, and investing for retirement. Not even for 20-somethings like myself. Actually, it may be more crucial right now for my generation to do this than for any other generation to do so. I’m not making light of the retirement crisis many Baby Boomers are staring in the face. That’s very real, and the need for them to ensure they do retire is very real also. What I’m saying is that their options are limited. Once you’re closing in on retirement, the most important factor in investing for retirement is gone: time. All you can do is invest (much) more and hope you picked your investments wisely.

That’s not where I and the other Millennials stand right now. We’re at the beginning of our working lives, and time is still on our side. But it won’t be forever. Therefore it is absolutely essential that we get engaged, right now, in making the right financial decisions.

Here’s some perspective for my fellow Millennials:

A $50,000 a year income is a comfortable standard of living for a married couple right now, in 2012 dollars. So, to get that each year, you need to invest $500,000 at a 10% average rate of return. But let’s fast forward, say…forty years? Welcome to retirement, my fellow Millennials. It’s 2052 and crunch time is here. (Oh, and forget about Social Security. In their history classes, our grandkids are studying why that program collapsed thirty years ago.)

Let’s say the average yearly inflation was 3% over these last forty years. In order to retire with a standard of living comparable to the $50,000/year in 2012, you need to have $1.6 million invested at that same 10% average interest rate. That $50,000 worth of goods now costs roughly $163,000.

Inflation sucks, doesn’t it? Here’s the bottom line, my fellow Millennials: We can’t consider millionaire status to be something out of reach. If we do, we’ll probably die relatively poor and miserable. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not do that. So change that attitude. Millionaire status is out there for the taking- now it’s up to you to go out over these next forty years and kill it so you can drag it home for dinner. Sic ’em!

Thanks for reading,

-Taylor

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Little Bets: Creativity in Business

Image from http://petersims.comI’ve recently finished reading Little Bets, by Peter Sims. The book, which is excellent, can be summed up with two main points:

  • The best way to innovate is often to make a “little bet” that’s not financially burdensome in order to discover if an idea will be successful.
  • Success or failure of an idea shouldn’t necessarily be black and white. Failure can point to success, especially if one takes Thomas Edison’s view of finding “…a thousand ways not to make a lightbulb.”

The author details examples ranging from Pixar under Steve Jobs to General McMaster’s innovative techniques for pacifying the insurgent-riddled city of Tal Afar in Iraq. What really struck me, though, was Sims’s take on education: namely, that the U.S. system is out of date and out of touch with a business world that now values creativity over rote memorization.

Wow. What a challenge to what we might typically think…to the ways we typically are taught to think. I agree with him. In today’s world, having an engaged and actively creative workforce is a competitive advantage all its own.

What does that look like? As Sims lays it out, it’s all about failure. Yep. Failure. Just as Thomas Edison learned a lot of ways not to build a lightbulb, we as business professionals need to learn to not take failure so personally. Find a hundred ways not to run a CPA firm or a thousand ways to screw up running a retail store. That’s fine. Just use little bets to do it with- experiments small enough to not hurt too much when almost all of them fail. If you want to out-compete, be willing to fail more often than anyone.

Thanks for reading,

-Taylor

How Well are You “LinkedIn”?

Networking will be remembered as possibly the definitive buzz-word of the current decade- and for good reason. Simply put, it works. The more people you know and who’ve been impressed by you the more likely you are to find a job or other business opportunity by referral. It’s a big trend in business right now, and there are opportunities in it for everyone. In fact, just a few hours ago I spent over an hour talking to a friend who’s considering making a career of it: being the middle-man who puts people and opportunities together. More power to him! My current job is a result of networking, so if he can monetize the networking process I think he’ll do very well.

The article I’ve linked below contains some really excellent tips on how to avoid common mistakes in one of the fastest growing networking areas: LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a social network created for working professionals. I think it’s also a huge resource for students like myself. Simply put, it’s an online resume. You can list your work experience, skills, volunteer history, and much more. The basic key, though, is to be professional. So if you’re on the job hunt right now, check it out. It can’t hurt to have your name out there in a few more places.

(Note: Apologies for the bad link formatting. I’m still trying to develop my understanding of the blog’s mechanics, and that particular one seems to be pretty poor.)

To access LinkedIn: LinkedIn

The article itself: Yahoo Article

Thanks for reading,

-Taylor