Monthly Archives: March 2017

Employee Stock Options: Do I Invest With A 10% Discount

In other words, this would mean that you have an attractive piece of cake placed right I front of you. It is laden with all the sweetness, you ever wanted have. However, the catch is, one piece of that and you can forget the rest of the dinner because your hunger can only take in that much.

The same analogy goes in for investments. You start investing in stocks and end up putting too many eggs in one basket, the risk automatically rises. Going by the current trend among organizations is to provide a discount to employees who buy their stocks. Now understandably this is done to make things more attractive for the buyer. However, there is a certain thing one needs to keep in mind before indulging in that cake. Even before that let me tell how this thing actually works.

A set amount is of your monthly income is debited off and put into an escrow account. Twice a year, and this may vary from company to company, the money set aside in that escrow account, will be used to buy stocks, either at their lowest prices at buy in or during close, whichever is deemed cheaper. Add to it the employee discount that can vary from 10% to 15%.

Now, you can go ahead and immediately sell it if you want to and earn a 15% bonus, but again these numbers do keep changing.

Now, the thing which you need to keep in mind regarding stock options and the way to hold it. The first one, which we discussed, is for immediate selling and is called an ESOP (Employee Stock Options) and the other one is called RSP (Restricted Stock Purchase). Now what happens in the latter is akin to what one will do to the usual stock and shares i.e. hold on to it for a period in time. Now, chances are that the value of your stock may fall below your discounted price and that you may be facing a loss. If you are willing to sell it within a year, then you do act a short term investor, which may always be a bright idea, especially with company stocks. You may want to hold on to it for a longer period, which again has its risks, but has benefits too. The idea is to keep on checking the prices and the profits you would make.

As for starting a dinner with a cake and missing out on the rest of the food, investment to needs to be diversified. Having a little of most is a much better idea than stuffing oneself with only very few.

How Beneficial Is Working Significant Overtime

Are you working more than 80 hours a week? Is over time working leading to happiness? Are you able to balance your life? Working significantly overtime does not always mean more earning or more happiness.

Many end up working overtime because of the greed of earning more. Stop for a minute and analyses, are working overtime consistently landing to increase in happiness quotient?

Research states that consistent working of significantly overtime is because of any one of this

  • Badly defined job role: Maybe you have accepted a job that is poorly structured, which doesn’t have clear job boundaries. So many times, you end up doing every one job.
  • Your skill and Job description doesn’t match: Have you ended up being in the wrong job? One of another major reason anyone spends loads of overtime because the lack of skill to job smartly.
  • Bad time management: Another reason in this connected world is bad time management, at the office do office work, at home be at home. If you are consistently doing overtime may check your time priorities and allocation. Maybe you are not able to finish job within allocated time due to multi-tasking like doing online shopping, Facebook during work which is breaking your theme of work and every time you break your flow you need to restart to gain speed.
  • You are “YES” person: Saying NO is an art. Don’t accept jobs if you are already loaded with work and if you think. It is right to say No with right reason. Otherwise, you end up accepting everything and spending overtime consistently at work.

 

However, stating all the above, there are some cases where you are working overtime for the period, which does not qualify for consistently working overtime. For example, a lot of accounting jobs need to put extra hours during financial year ends due to business needs and the way business conducted. That is not because of your time management or lack of skill. This kind of overtime happens for short period with correct business reason.  Another such example you are working on your start-up project, where you end up spending loads of time until your idea becomes reality. This is a clear example of passion driving overtime. However, be aware you are a human being you get stressed, you need to revitalize for better thinking and being ultra-productive.

So Working significant overtime consistently surely leads to stress, fatigue making you less productive and innovative. This creates a loop of overtime and stress. Get out of it. Get refreshed, do what makes you happy, spend time on health. A good mind can do wonders in minutes. Be active and alive.

Over The Cliff With A 401(K)

To begin discussing this subject let us be aware of all the facts we know about a 401(k).

What is a 401(k)?

A 401(k) is nothing but a retirement savings plan sponsored or paid by the employer. The employer lets the employee save and invest a certain percentage of their pay before it is taxed. Point to remember in a 401(k) is that you will only be taxed when the money is withdrawn and not when it is deposited.

So would it be worthwhile to contribute to 401(k) with a 3-year cliff?

Your question to me could be what exactly is a cliff? Is it the edge of a mountain or the end to nowhere? A cliff is nothing but vesting. A cliff vesting is when an employee becomes completely vested in a specified period in time. So for example, you have fully vested in a company sponsored pension plan only after 5 years of full service.

Now, coming back quickly to the intended subject, the money that you invest in a 401(k) is all yours. So for example, you work for 5 years and leave your job, there will not be any effect on the investment that you had made in a 401(k). The only thing that changes is the contribution of the employer because that depends on the vesting period. It is a good plan with good benefits. However, it is not something that is quickly recommended to young professionals.

To begin with, a 401(k) is ideally to be kept as a secondary hold. The idea is to maximize other resources and then fall back on this vehicle. My advice would be to begin investing in the Roth IRA and contribute to it till you do not reach the maximum limit. Once you have touched the limit, look towards the 401(k). This has a great advantage, the first and foremost being diversification.

There is a different school of thought who might suggest that given the pretax nature of 401(k), you will have more money to start with and then go ahead with your contributions to the Roth IRA.

Remember, most successful finances are largely behavioral. So a 401(k) being an automated process, really makes you keep aside a certain amount of investment, which otherwise would have been spent elsewhere. It actually is dependent on how you see yourself in 10 years time.

$10 For A 40 Hour A Week, Do I Still Travel?

Let me begin by asking a very simple yet a pertinent question? How much is time really worth to you? Or what is the value of your time?

The answer to the first question will, of course, be similar for most of us. Time is really worth for all us. It is because of its finite self and the limited shelf life we all come with. And that quickly takes me to the second question. What is its value?

Can time be quantified?

The subject for this article will answer it best or perhaps it will give it its best.

Let’s begin with some math first.

A 1-hour commute can roughly translate into 60 miles one way. That would mean 120 miles two ways for a $10 an hour job. So supposedly while traveling let us assume you will burning roughly 7 gallons of gas at $2.5 per gallon. That is $17.5 of gas every day. Now, that figure can vary from $17.5 to $20. And I am talking every day. For an $80 a day earning you will spend almost $20 on gas does not add up to a good career move.

Traveling times are a sheer wastage of limited resources. I do agree, left with no other choice one has to travel great distances or risk the effects of unemployment. However, even if a minimum wage job is available at a distance which is quite comfortable, my advice would be to go for it. Unless that travel time is compensated by an extraordinary rise in pay or a career defining move, it really is not worth wasting so much time.

Instead, save that two and a half hours, which ideally would have been spent in transportation, and use it to diversify. Make use of that time to learn a new skill, add something new to your resume, probably exercise and rest, the list is endless.

So can time be quantified?

Yes, it surely can. Depends on whether you do want to make an attempt to use it wisely. The return you get in terms of financials, knowledge or even emotionally does it make it a worthwhile effort.

For centuries, mankind has been in the grips of the time versus money dilemma. Do I save two hours on a direct flight or $90 while taking a direct flight? It is not an easy question to answer primarily because we are yet to ascertain the priorities at hand. Set it first and then automatically you will be able to judge it.

A Perfect House And A Long Commute

This is a dilemma most home buyers have to face. On one hand, they have their dream property right in front of their eyes and on the other; they have the ignominy of a long commute. But before discussing the long and short of this, what defines a long commute. Is it a 30 minutes drive, a 45 minutes exercise, an hour and a half gruel? The time needs to be factored in. Also, if one is commuting for that long, you need to calculate the returns you are getting while doing so. The ideal question should have been, is it worthwhile?

Now, money is and will forever be a finite instrument. Just like life and time.  So how much of it would you be spending in the car, stuck in traffic and not being happy about it at all? Perhaps nothing at all. However, let’s look at the other possibilities. Your workplace, even though at a great distance from your new home, pays you well. It pays you to afford a great house, bills that you need to pay each month, education for your child et al. If that is the kind of job you are currently in, the journey is worth the while. Also, the title did mention a perfect house. Now that would mean, it did fit your budget more admirably than the other ones which you had checked out. The advice would be stick to it. Both your job and your perfect house matter and what links both of them is the paycheck you receive every month. Of course, if either one is suspect, then you have to start looking for newer possibilities. If it is not and I presume it surely is not, a commute should not be the deciding factor. Certain other things to look out for. Is the new house, which seems perfect to you, in a good school district, provided you are a couple. Even if you are not, the future needs to be factored in.

Statistics show that while the average commuting time has remained unchanged at 25.5 minutes those traveling for more than an hour rose to 11.1 million in 2012. Now that is a rise of 300000 from 2011.

Hence, idea is to strike a balance and it greatly boils down to priorities and find the perfect mix.