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Long way to go
Old 09-22-2004, 05:11 PM   #1
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Long way to go

Hi All,

I've been a lurker on this board on-and-off for about a year or so, benefitting from all the great free advice.

I'm probably one of the younger people here-- only 25. When I entered the workforce about two years ago I figured I should invest some time right at the start of my career getting a grip on my finances and putting together a plan-- while I still have a lot of time as leverage.

I'm as software developer, but I don't make a lot of money despite being near the top of my class and really good at what I do-- I came out of school right into the worst job market my industry has ever seen, and it was six months before I could find _any_ kind of a job in my field while my friends who graduated two years earlier sent out 3 resumes, got two callbacks, and picked a job for 20% more than I make today.

As a result I have an extremely pessimistic view of my potential future earnings, fair market worth, career prospects, etc. My friends think I'm cheap, my family thinks I'm cheap, I think I'm cheap too--- but having no cash and no job and debt to pay in a depressed market is not a place I ever want to find myself again.

I get the impression that most of the people in my age bracket on this site have larger incomes. I'm only making about 45K CDN a year, and even at a savings rate of 25-30% of gross I have a long, long way to go.

Recycle my dryer sheets? Who can afford such luxuries in the first place?
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Re: Long way to go
Old 09-22-2004, 05:24 PM   #2
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Re: Long way to go

Send your resume to Microsoft. They *love* Canucks. They hire just about everybody Waterloo graduates, and they pay pretty well these days (since their stock options became worthless).
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Re: Long way to go
Old 09-22-2004, 05:25 PM   #3
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Re: Long way to go

My son is a programmer with his 5 years in, and he's not making much more than you. Entry level in any field is where you prove yourself, so when you're in your early 30's you can start earning big $$$$$'s. Where are you located? $45K Cdn. isn't bad for starters!
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Re: Long way to go
Old 09-22-2004, 06:04 PM   #4
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Re: Long way to go

Welcom GDH,

Well, I am an ER wannabe and I make even less than you. I'm 24 and I make 31K. It gets pretty depressing when I compare myself to others on this board However, for the first 18 years of my life my entire family, of 3-6 people in the household, lived off less than 20K. Compared to then, I'm living the high life right now It's all relative.

I currently save around 33% of my gross income. My roomate will most likely leave at the end of the school year, so that would hurt quite a bit. However, I have been getting a 10% raise each year. Don't know how long this will last. I intend to save as much of my raises as possible. I also might go to graduate school some time in the future to increase my earnings potential.

I figure, you gotta start somewhere. I want to retire before I turn 50, but I have no idea of what will happen during the next 26 years. I also know that at some point I might want to leave so bad that I have to just move to the country, live in a shack and grow my own food. I want to make as much progress as possible before I lose it.
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Re: Long way to go
Old 09-22-2004, 06:26 PM   #5
Confused about dryer sheets
 
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Re: Long way to go

I suppose it isn't bad for starters really... and now that I re-read my original post it seems gloomier than I had intended.

On the other hand, if I hadn't been hit with a good dose of hard-times and developed a bit of healthy pessimism right out of the gate, I'd probably by spending myself into an extra decade of the rat race right now.

Not feeling like I have money to spend is a major part of my savings plan. "The Millionaire Next Door" calls it artificial scarcity. Seems to work for me.

Gia: I didn't have any income at all until I was 24, just debt, so I know where your coming from (now I really feel bad about whining knowing there are people thinking the same thing about _my_ post). There was a post on this board a week or two back raving about how anyone can retire early just by saving $3000+ a month-- and I'm thinking: not even if I lived in a cardboard box and ate at soup kitchens.
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Re: Long way to go
Old 09-22-2004, 06:48 PM   #6
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Re: Long way to go

It's all relative...I'm 22 and I still feel like I have a long way to go! And I'm sure there are those with more who still think they have a long way to go...don't let it get you down. There is a end, and it is worth the journey to get there.
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Re: Long way to go
Old 09-22-2004, 10:05 PM   #7
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Re: Long way to go

Quote:
I'm probably one of the younger people here-- only 25.
Pfft, you wish

Gia: Could you share your secrets for saving such a high % of your gross at your income level? That is amazing.
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Re: Long way to go
Old 09-23-2004, 01:05 PM   #8
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Re: Long way to go

My husband is a software engineer, and just started in the industry about 5 1/2 years ago. He has done well and has had no shortage of job offers, despite the overall sucky prospects for the industry. I'd offer a couple of suggestions:

1) Be willing to relocate for a better job, even if it means living somewhere other than your ideal. You aren't committing to living there forever.

2) Think about if you want to specialize in some particular area or industry. (My husband, for instance, works in the games industry). I can't say for certain, but my instinct tells me that it's better to be a skilled fish in a smaller pond than one of many unspecialized fish in a gigantic pond.

3) Learn stuff on your own. I hear a lot from my husband on this end - not only does he do a lot on his own, but he's done a fair amount of interviewing job candidates and knows what makes them stand out. Read technical books, to get ideas about better ways to do your job (or to learn new skills that you're not learning at work). Participate in mailing lists or web forums related to your industry. Subscribe to relevant technical magazines. If possible, get your company to send you to conferences. Do projects on your own time, exploring things you're interested in learning about. Write articles and submit them to the magazines. It's this kind of thing that makes you stand out ahead of all the other smart guys who are just putting their heads down in the cubicle and coding away.
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Re: Long way to go
Old 09-23-2004, 06:17 PM   #9
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Re: Long way to go

Quote:
Gia: Could you share your secrets for saving such a high % of your gross at your income level? That is amazing.
My living situation is the biggest contributor. I live in a 1 bedroom apartment with a roomate. The living room is my bedroom. I only pay $400 in rent. It was supposed to be temporary, but I've been here for over 2.5 years now. My roomate usually isn't home, so I get the place to myself most of the time. However, privacy is becoming an issue. When I first moved in I was in "if I can't have my ex-boyfriend, I don't want anyone" mode. Now that has changed, so I don't know how much longer I will stay.

One of the reasons I stayed is because I found a job close by. Half a mile away to be exact. Thus, I walk to work on days when its not too hot. I buy gas about once every two months. I keep the car because I hope to find a better job some day, that will probably require me to commute. I usually come home for lunch. Hmmm...other than that, I don't own a cell phone, don't eat out too much, don't get cable, got a scholarship = no school loans, haven't bought any new clothing for over a year - not a big fan of shopping in general, bought my car with cash for $5K.

I spend on the things that matter to me. I buy organic food, I buy a lot of cds, exercise DVDs, and books (check the library first), occasionally go to the movies, occasionally go dancing. However, in the case of most material items, I get much more pleasure from watching my accounts grow.
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Re: Long way to go
Old 10-02-2004, 03:03 PM   #10
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Re: Long way to go

Quote:
My son is a programmer with his 5 years in, and he's not making much more than you. Entry level in any field is where you prove yourself, so when you're in your early 30's you can start earning big $$$$$'s. Where are you located? $45K Cdn. isn't bad for starters!
That was me... only in the last few years has my salary ramped up considerably, and this with the tech bust. (I'm 33.)

I agree with Holly that you have to be willing to relocate - I moved across the country, far from my family, but financially and professionally it was the best move.

In the beginning, take what you can get. Once that happens, you want to look for opportunities to learn something. It's not always intuitive - I ended up working on a lot of old, crusty code but it taught me excellent debugging skills, which is now getting me kudos from my bosses.
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