Were you jobless after graduation?

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Yesterday my colleagues and I were in our weekly team meeting and our boss announced she’s hiring a summer intern.  She said she’s happy to give a university student an opportunity to get real world work experience so she can find a full time job after graduation.  That’s nice.

Another member on my team said “That’s great because the average time a recent university graduate looks for a job after graduation is five years.”  I’m new to the team so I was in  no position to question what she said.  I have absolutely no source to back up this information, but doesn’t five years seem like a long time to go without a job?

It’s a different time from when I graduated

When I graduated from university back in 2005 job offers were pouring in.  Mind you I graduated in Economics, I was already working full time for an international bank and it was before the market crash.  I think the market crash of 2008 changed the world, not only the world of finance but for all people – students, graduates and experienced employees alike.  The job market is very different today.

I had my pick of jobs back then because having a university degree was an asset.  I couldn’t imagine graduating and having to move back to my parent’s house because I couldn’t find a job.  Doesn’t five years seem like a long time to go without a job? I think it’s a long time, not just for a recent grad but for anyone.

So what do you do if you can’t find a job after graduation?

I guess there are a few options if recent grads can’t find a job straight out of school they can go back to school or look for a job outside their field.  I didn’t know this but I guess the days of employers lining up outside a university graduation ceremony are over.

That didn’t happen at my university graduation, but it did happen on the day of my financial planning exam.  Recruiters from banks were waiting outside the classrooms, handing out their business cards to the 2007 class of new Certified Financial Planners.  Yes I guess the job world is very different today.

Pursue a higher education

I chose to continue studying after I graduated from university, but I did it as I was working full time not as an alternative to finding a job.  I think getting an MBA (or any type of post secondary education) is an asset because education is always a good thing, but is accumulating more debt if you just graduated with student loans a good idea?  I’m not sure.

Get a part time job

The five year statistic has me wondering if students today are just being too picky with their job searches.  I think it’s unrealistic for graduates to expect to find their dream job fresh out of school.  It probably won’t happen and who wants to peak in their career at 22 years old?

The concept of starting at the bottom and working your way up may be completely lost on today’s generation of young workers, but it shouldn’t be.  That’s how the world works and if recent grads need to take a job that’s below their expected standards then they should be open to do so.  After all a part time job is better than no job at all.

Did you get a job right after graduation?

Originally published on Blonde & Balanced

Photo from I’d Pin That

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I was audited!

Tax-on-lawsuit-damagesYes it’s true.  I just got a notice of assessment from the federal government, almost a year after I filed my 2013 taxes, and they’ve decided I owe them money.  There is nothing more I hate than owing people money or people owing me money.  When I go to sleep every night I like my balance sheet to be at $0 but right now it’s not – and that’s driving me crazy.

What happened

I came home from work yesterday and I had a letter from the Revenue Agency.  I thought maybe it was just another statement of account, but to my surprise it was a letter stating I forgot to claim some income on my 2013 taxes and forgot to declare some of my student loan repayments; therefore I now owe them $437.  WHAT!?  How does $200 in forgotten freelance income and less than $80 in student loan interest equal over $400 in tax fees?  I have no idea.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been audited.  Back in 2011 I was audited for the previous five years and for all that time I ended up only owing the federal government $318.  I wasn’t upset about that at all because I have a great accountant and in the grand scheme of things it’s a small amount of money for five years.  But over $400 for one year is unacceptable in my opinion – but the government disagrees.

Where I went wrong

My current accounting system consists of an Excel spreadsheet and two envelopes full of all my receipts.  I divide them into two categories: food and other business expenses.  I would like to say I add up my expenses each month, staple all receipts together and mark them into my Excel spreadsheet but that wouldn’t be true – although it was my intention last January.  I think it lasted about three months and when spring came around I just started shoving my receipts in the envelops.

In February I’ll spend a day or two sorting through my receipts and adding up all my income and expenses for the year so I can bring my papers to the accountant’s office in March.  Not the most efficient record keeping option, I know.

I would love to double check the federal government’s records because I’m one of those people who honestly believe I’m being screwed over all the time – especially when it comes to money.  I don’t trust anyone, but my accountant is probably going to charge me $200 to verify the government’s notice of assessment.  I don’t want to pay that amount on top of what I supposedly owe the government.

What I’m going to do differently in 2015

This year I am going to keep better track of my income and expenses.  I promise.  Why?  Because I have to.  Spending two days collecting receipts and trying to remember everything I did over the last year is not my idea of fun.  If I spent 30 minutes each month adding up all my income and expenses it would save me a lot of trouble during tax time.  So that’s what I’m going to do.

You’re probably thinking, why don’t you just get a book keeping service?  Because I’m not sure how they work, but I’m open to suggestions.  Does a bookkeeping service keep track of my income and expenses in both Canada and the United States?  Does it track payments received and sent via PayPal and my bank accounts?  All suggestions are welcome.

 

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Originally published on Dinks Finance

Photo from National Liberty Party

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Go green and save on your water bill

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BF and I have been in our new apartment just over two months and I’m still learning about how to save money on hydro without taking cold showers and living in the dark.  This is the first time in 34 years we’ve had to pay hydro; not only are we learning how to fit this variable payment into our monthly budget but we’re also learning to be more conscious about how much energy we consume.

We already received our first hydro bill.  It was $65 from October 1 to 16.  We moved in Oct 1 and I guess the cut off is mid month so that’s why we already received a bill.  This means our hydro bill, which includes electricity and hot water, should be around $130 each month.  I’m not sure if that’s good or bad but it seems like a lot since we haven’t even turned on our heat yet for the winter or our air conditioning for the summer.  Does that sound reasonable for an 1100 sq. ft. apartment?

4 ways we are trying to cut down our water bill:

Turn off the water.  I know this seems like common sense but it’s not as easy as it sounds.  I never noticed how much water I used to waste because I never had to pay attention to it.  I would turn on the shower and let the water run for a few minutes until it was hot and I am notorious for leaving the water running while I brush my teeth.  Let me tell you that all this has stopped, but old habits are hard to break.  I’m also trying not leave the water running while I’m cleaning because not only is it a waste of useful resources, it’s also letting money run down the drain – literally.

Make sure your appliances are full.  For six years we had to wash dishes by hand so having a brand new dishwasher is amazing, however it’s also a very expensive luxury.   We would love to run the dishwasher whenever we needed to use a dirty dish, but that’s just not smart.  BF and I tend to always eat the same things which means we always use the same dishes and cookware, but we don’t want to run our dishwasher until it’s absolutely full.  This means we still end up washing some dishes by hand but it’s better than wasting water and our money.

Wash in cold water.   This is probably the best money saver tip I can give.  Cold water is free so if you run the dishwasher and laundry machine on cold water it only costs electricity not electricity AND hot water.  That’s a great money saving tip.  Of course it doesn’t mean we should all start doing a load of laundry every time we need one pair of socks cleaned because that would be a waste.  Just be cautious with your water temperatures because it could save you a lot of money.  It also saves water because if you’re washing dishes by hand no one wants to linger their body parts in cold water.  I for one always wash faster when the water is cold.

How do you save money on your water bill?

Photo from Flickr