How much does being ugly really cost?

Being ugly may not only be a detriment to your social life, but it could also greatly hinder your financial potential. There have been numerous studies indicating a correlation between beauty and professional success. And the verdict is…. hot people make more.

Don’t believe me? A study conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, found that hotties-with-naughty-bodies make 5% more per hour than their average looking colleagues. Even worse, “unattractive” people were found to be making 8% less than average looking persons.

Not only do the attractive people make more money, but they also have a higher statistical shot at landing the job in the first place. Here’s a quote from a CNN article on the study…

After variables like education and experience are factored out, Fed researchers said the “beauty premium” exists across all occupations, and that jobs requiring more interpersonal contact have higher percentages of above-average-looking employees.

And here’s another snippet from a published study in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences…

When someone is viewed as attractive, they are often assumed to have a number of positive social traits and greater intelligence.

That means beautiful people (like Justin Bieber) are not just gorgeous, but also perceived as smarter. Now I know why so many people think I’m a geenyus. Haha, get it… “Geenyus”. It’s funny ’cause I spelled it wrong. Man I’m unBIEBERlievable (yeah, I got the Bieber Fever).

Don’t worry though. Even if you are beat-up-from-the-feet-up or tore-up-from-the-floor-up, you still may have a chance at earning a decent wage. That is if you are tall. A study by two professors at the University of Florida found that “tall” people earn a substantially higher wage than their shorter counterparts, with each inch providing $789/year more in income. So, I guess it’s true… size matters 😉

Moral of the story kiddos. Don’t be ugly and don’t be short. Otherwise, it could cost you some major moolah. If you’re not attractive, don’t worry. There is always plastic surgery. I mean remember how good Michael looked after all his plastic surgery…

Have you ever witnessed some beauty biased in the work place? Can any level of “equal employment policies” prevent beauty from becoming a professional factor? Who are some exceptions to the “beauty” rule (think Bill Gates, Jack Black, Amy Winehouse)?

Think Twice: Crucial Considerations before You Make a Career Change Decision

You’re stuck in a career that does nothing for you, and you keep hearing that you’re supposed to do something that you love if you are to be successful. What do you do, though? A career coach may be able to show you the way, but it can help to put in some work yourself. The more you know about yourself, the more information you’ll be able to give the career coach to help you with.

Tread carefully when it comes to picking a new career 

You’re in luck if you do have a reasonable idea what you want to do. It can never do, however, to assume that your ideas are on the money. Plenty of people make poorly thought-out career switches simply because they’ve fallen in love with a trendy choice, or because they want to imitate someone they admire.

It’s important, before you actually make a move, to take a few classes for the career in question, or try a couple of unpaid internships. These attempts will help you see how your mind responds to the career choice.

Try multiple possibilities

It can be hard to know what talents you really possess, or what really makes you happy. It can be an excellent idea to narrow down your list to three different career options, and try your hand at each one of them. In many cases, it even make sense to try a new career in your own industry. It could help you take advantage of your industry experience.

You could even try a quick internship in a career path that you know you aren’t interested in. The experience will help solidify notions that you’ve always held, and it will lend new resolve to your search for a career that will truly make you happy.

Do you have other aims?

As wonderful as it can be to finally know what you want to do, you do need to know if your choice can work well with your other hopes, dreams and lifestyle choices. Do you live in your own home, and will moving require you to sell? It could be a sensible move to do so if you are willing. Career changes can be undermined by things as simple as the requirement in a new job to commute, or the need to work late. Pay, benefits, vacation, work stress and even exposure to economic uncertainties can all make an otherwise well-loved career difficult to put up with. It’s sensible to take a year for research.

There’s the transition problem

For far too many people hoping to switch to careers they love, the stumbling block turns out to be the transition. They need a plan for how to get by in the time that they take to earn their qualifications, enter the new career and advance to a level where they make a reasonable income. Do you have savings? How about relying on a partner? You need a definite plan for what you will do.

Do you have a fallback?

Even the best laid plans are known to fail. Taking risks can come easier when you don’t have a family to support. If you do have responsibilities, though, you won’t have the luxury of taking your time to find a new job or career path. You’ll need to plan a fallback before you make any irreversible moves away from your current career. Not only will this mean less tumult in your life, it will mean less anxiety, as well. It wouldn’t hurt, for example, to make sure that your old job is always open to you before you move out.

Mentally preparing yourself

When it comes to career changes, popular anecdotes show Americans going through as many as seven in a lifetime. While there isn’t much evidence in support of the number, it does show that career changes are common across the Atlantic.

Career changes are healthy, because they demonstrate a desire to take risks. Successful career changes on a resume can even look attractive to potential employers. Yet, Britain has some way to go here. With not many used to the idea of career switches, you could see resistance both among employers and friends and family. Yet, it’s important to not give up on the idea. The freedom to change careers can mentally free you up to go after a better life.

 

How quickly could you replace your income?

So I’m assuming the majority of PDITF readers operate their lives around some type of budget. Maybe you are a budget nazi….

or perhaps you prefer the informal budget…

It doesn’t really matter HOW you track your money, but simply that you ARE tracking your money. How you budget is up to you, but one thing everyone should do is at least have some type of plan. This means planning for unlikely events too.

So today I thought we could do just that and play the “What if” game. Are you in?

What would you do if you walked in to your office today and were told to go home because you were fired/laid off?

On the surface, the question may not appear that interesting, but when I started thinking about it more, I realized I’d be up a creek without a paddle. Sure my E-fund will help temper the financial strain for a few months, but eventually I’d have to start making some money.

Unfortunately, this is the major dilemma. To be perfectly honest, I highly doubt I’d be able to gain employment at a salary comparable to what I’m currently making. In fact, I don’t even know if I could find a job that paid me $10k or $20K a year less.

I suppose if I was an engineer or the like, I’d be able to rest easy knowing there are a billion different companies with engineering positions, but last time I checked “Special Agent experience” wasn’t a prerequisite on too many job descriptions.

Fortunately, my position is relatively secure so I shouldn’t have to worry about being let go, but I couldn’t help but think about how royally screwed I’d be if I was. Honestly, I’d probably be applying to entry level positions in the $35k-$40k/yr range and try and work my way up the corporate ladder. And if six months down the road, I was still unemployed, you better believe I’d be at the drive-thru asking you “Do you want fries with that?”

How ’bout you? Honestly think about your skillset and the job market in your area. If you were to be fired today, do you think you could find a comparable salary elsewhere reasonably fast? How long do you think it would take? If you answered yes, what field are you in? If you answered no, like me, how much of an income cut do you think you’d be looking at taking?

Hopefully we never find ourselves in this situation, but it never hurts to prepare for the worst.

Great Opportunity, Crappy Timing

A little over a year ago, I blogged about receiving a conditional offer of employment for a once in a lifetime opportunity. Getting that conditional offers was one of the best feelings ever. Getting the final offer, however, was one of the worst.  Let me take you on a journey back through this crazy hiring process.

February 2009:

I applied to said dream job thinking there was ZERO chance of actually getting an offer. I don’t say “zero chance” for dramatic effect. I literally didn’t think there was any way I would be deemed qualified for this position. But, I followed my own advice, and applied anyways.

June 2009:

After five months of silence, I for sure thought my application had been thrown in the “What the heck was this guy thinkin’ when he applied here” pile. But instead, received a conditional offer. The letter stated I had to jump through a number of hoops in order to receive a final offer. The letter also stated the vast majority of applicants are disqualified at some point in the hiring process…aka don’t expect to make it through the process.

August 2009 through January 2010:

About every three to four weeks their was “another step” in the hiring process I had to complete. I can’t share them all, but here’s a glimpse of what I went through: multiple drug tests, physical fitness/agility test, polygraph, psychological evaluation, medical evaluation, and a bunch of other crazy things.

May 2010:

Fifteen months after I apply, I’m told that my application went in for final review and I had been approved for hire. I am to expect to go to the academy in early 2011.

July 21st 2010:

I wake up to an email that says I have been selected to attend the academy  from September ’10 to January ’11. I call Girl Ninja and freak out because I don’t know what to do. This means I’d be leaving four months earlier than we planned. We talk on the phone for an hour or so and realize we have to make a really difficult decision. Do I accept the offer? Or turn it down?

So that is the background on the application process. Now I’ll share a little bit about why this decision is so hard. The first, and only reason, being the timing of the offer. There are a number of reasons why it would be terribly inconvenient to leave for academy just a few weeks after getting married. I couldn’t imagine spending the first four months of my marriage away from GN. Is it doable? Yes. Is it ideal. Hell no. Now I know you might be thinking “Can’t Girl Ninja just go with you?” No. She can’t.

So this left us with a major dilemma. Do we accept the offer and face a less than ideal first year of marriage? Or do we turn it down so we could be together? I hate having to make decisions without adequately getting to think about how each decision will effect me/us. I had three days to respond.

Fortunately, after speaking with some HR folks. I was able to be removed from the September class and will be considered for a class sometime in 2011. This “hiccup” has been a great learning experience for both Girl Ninja and I, as we’ve truly had to learn how to communicate our desires with one another. We had different opinions on how to handle the situation and through some long conversations, and a few tears, we were able to make a decision that we were both content with.

It’s nerve racking not knowing what the future holds, but I’m glad I get to figure out these difficult things with Girl Ninja 🙂 Sorry if I came across as a drama queen. You probably thought someone died or something, and you’re probably thinking “This was what he was freakin’ out about?” but hey, for us it was a big deal, and the first “married couple” decision we have had to make. 

p.s. you can read this article for a few more details about the job.

Short term loss for long term gain

It’s been a while since I  have updated you all on the dream job. I applied for a job back in February and over the last 11 months have been slowly moving through the exhaustive hiring process. Thus far, I have peed in a cup (twice), completed a medical screening, passed an extensive physical fitness test, survived a three person hiring panel, passed a written test, completed a 700 question psychological exam, and undergone psychaiatric evaluation, oh, and I’m still not done with all of the hiring steps.

Needless to say, it has taken a good chunk of time, as well as a lot of work, to make it this far in the process. As a potential final job offer nears (fingers crossed), I need to begin to plan my life accordingly. One of the interesting things about this dream job; my starting salary could possibly be $20,000/yr less than what I currently make. That’s a whole lot of dinero to give up.

I’ve explained before the government pay system, but one thing I did not hit on was the consequences of switching positions. Come February, I will be a GS-11, which means I will be making $62,000/yr. The position I applied for starts at a GS-7 ($42,000/yr) but progresses to a salary much higher than my current positions maximum salary (the most I can make in my current position is $90k/yr, the dream jobs max salary is $143,000).

So here is the dilemma. If I am offered (and I accept) said dream job, then my income will immediately drop $20,000/yr. At approximately two years, I would be making equal money to what I’d be making in my current position. And from the third year on I would be making increasingly more money each year. It would be a short term loss of income, for a long term gain.

I know what most of you are probably thinking. “Take the pay cut while you are young and not really dependent on a large income”, that is definitely good advice, but it is not that simple. Reducing my income for the next two years would severely hinder my goals to pay off my student loan, to fully contribute to my Roth IRA while I am young, and to save for a large down payment. Not to mention, that if I ended up not liking the dream job, I would have taken a huge income hit for nothing. I have weighed the pros and cons of both options and made a decision, but before I share that, I’d like to see what you all had to say.

Could you afford to give up a large portion of your income, for a long term gain? Did you ever start a job you thought you’d love, only to realize it was absolute misery? Have you ever done anything like this? Was it scary? Did it work out like you thought? Is taking an initially lower paying position considered “taking a step backwards” in my career? I’m in a pickle and I would love some help 🙂

I’m willing to bet…

…very few of you PDITF readers work in the financial sector. I sure as heck don’t! People often think that I must have some type of financial credentials (business degree, work in financial sector, etc) to write about money. In reality, all of my “financial wisdom” (or lack thereof) comes from observation and personal finance books/blogs.

Wanna know a little secret? I began college an accounting major, and after taking my first economics course, realized I would be absolutely miserable being a business man (no offense to you business minded folks). If you’ve been following me for a while, you know my degree is in Psychology, which last time I checked, was not at all related to finances in any way, shape, or form.

Not only does my degree have NOTHING to do with finances, but my work is also far from it. People often ask if I have any desire to become a financial adviser. Wanna know the truth? Hell to the No. There is a difference between a hobby and a career. I’m a Special Agent by day, blogger by night 🙂

Yes, I do enjoy learning about personal finances. Heck, I even enjoy sharing with other people (you included) my opinions on how financial success can best be achieved. But let me be clear… I have ABSOLUTELY no desire to earn an income by managing people’s money for them.

I’m a huge advocate of personal responsibility. I like to encourage people, and remind them that they can manage their money on their own, often without third party help. In fact, I like to pretend my lack of financial education or career, motivates people like you to get your money issues worked out. I’m hoping you can relate to my story and become equally motivated!

So I took a gamble and bet the majority of you have no “expertise” in a financially related field. Am I wrong? What is your degree in and what field do you work in? Why do you come to my site and read my stuff knowing I have no credentials? Is it for my crazy drawings, or do you actually learn something every now and again?

Most jobs have their price

Screen shot 2009-11-23 at Nov 23, 2009, 8.39.56 PM

Dude, I would totally work just about any job if the money was right. You name it, manual labor, pedicurist, port-o-potty cleaner, pay me enough and I’ll submit my application. Does this make me a “sellout”? Possibly. After all, I would be working for “the money” and not “the passion”. Well guess what ya’ll. I’m a freakin’ sellout.

The inspiration for this post came from a conversation I had with my roommate the other day. It went a little like this….

Him: Would you work a job you didn’t enjoy if it paid a lot?

Me: Yes.

Him: Really? You don’t think you would end up unhappy in the end?

Me: No

Him: Care to explain.

Me: Not really, but I’m gonna go eat a twinkie.

Okay, well that’s not exactly how the conversation went. I basically told him, that no matter how miserable the job, I think money can help make things less miserable. That’s not to say that money can buy happiness, but it can definitely help.

My dreaded career would be anything involving history (I hate history). I would despise having to read old books, about old people, who did things a really long time ago. No offense to any historians out there, it’s just not my thing. But if you pay me $200,000/yr to read about Mesopotamia, you’ll get yourself one historically educated ninja ready for work.

Although money wouldn’t change the type of work I was doing, it would definitely change my attitude. And even though I may sacrifice a little bit of my happiness from 9 to 5, I’d totally be able to make up for it during my time off. Work might suck, but I still imagine my overall quality of life would be pretty epic.

Sure I would “sell my soul” for most positions, but I do have ONE exception to that rule. You are gonna have to come back tomorrow though to see what that exception is. So how bout it? Would you be willing to do some “less than desirable” work for a RIDICULOUSLY higher pay? And for those that totally disagree….care to share what jobs you would never do, no matter what the pay?