Monday, May 26, 2008

The Stigma of Success

While not directly related to personal finance, it does touch on the personal side of our lives that help us obtain said finances.

When did being successful or accomplishing things in your life become such a bad thing? I'm reflecting on this point as I recently made contact with a few high school aquaintances via Facebook. After the initial back and forth messages, eventually the questions were raised from both parties about what I've been up to. I take this as a query into the past 8 years of my life. Therefore I summarized my accomplishments and what I have done to get them up to speed. The list was as follows: I referred to myself as a school junkie: went to UPEI and obtained a BSc in Physics, met my fiance, moved to BC where I spent an amazing two years and obtained an MSc in astronomy, drove back to PEI, started substitute teaching and really enjoyed it, enrolled in the education program at UPEI of which I just finished my first year.

Does the above come off as arrogant or bragging? I am aware that it might given the non-emotional context of electronic communication. I ask because in both cases after sending the above and asking what those people have been up to, I have not heard back from them. Did I just come off as a prick or are they jealous because they don't think they have met with the same level of success?

It ties with something I've read recently that education in the eyes of others = success/accomplishment and is one of the biggest things. However, people don't see the downside to education at least in the short term. I can think of 3 big ones right away:

1. Opportunity cost: the 8 years I've been in post-secondary education could have been doing some job and earning income that could have been invested.

2. Debt: in the majority of cases, people continuing post-secondary studies take on a massive amount of debt that takes years to pay off. I've been blessed with very little debt accumulation during my education as I had a full-tuition scholarship during my undergraduate degree and the benefit of dual-incomes during my Masters and my current degree. However, many people are not as fortunate and put alot of their dreams on hold to pay back the burden of debt. Which leads to...

3. Non-education aspects of life become secondary: this won't apply to everyone, but it definately applies to me. I focus singularly on education tasks such as assignments ans such, often pushing other personal issues in my life to the wayside. It has caused problems in the past and is something I am constantly trying to improve on.

The three effects listed above are some of the downsides to education. What are some others?

On the flip side, those two people have situations in their lives that I would consider significant accomplishments/goals. One for sure is married right now, which is something we're still working on and the other is aspiring to enter the RCMP, a very noble profession.

The point is that we should all learn that success is not measured comparitively with others. You should only compare where you are now with where you were in the past. If you've made decisions that have made you happier now than you were or made poor decisions and learned from them, then that's a pretty successful life in my eyes.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Net Worth Update April 2008

Let's see if I reached my goals I set for this month, shall we:

Assets - Down 2.6%
Goal set: +2.0% increase

A reversal of numbers here. Again, as I mentioned last time around, I didn't make as much income in April because of practice teaching and I think I underestimated exactly how much that would effect things. Next time I know of something like that, a more detailed look at the numbers should be in order. As well, we took advantage of a furniture sale at Dow's furniture here in Charlottetown and upgraded to a nicer bed and boxspring which depleted most of our "big-item" fund. This was an unplanned purchase, but we saw it as a good opportunity to get rid of the ole' spring poker. On the plus side, we sold the old mattress and boxspring combo for $75 dollars.

Goal for next month: We'll keep things simple at a 3.0% increase in assets while the income streams come back under control. I will hopefully get around to selling some stuff on EBay, but this bump might not show up until June's update.

Debt - Up 1.3%
Goal set: 2.0% decrease

I didn't quite make that as I didn't pay off the credit card balance in full prior to the end of the month, which I usually do.

Goal for next month: Keeping things modest here too, a 2.0% decrease should prove doable, but if things took place that should have, a significant drop will be shown here next month. The details of that will be the focus of another post.

Overall Net Worth - Down 3.4%

Since we are in this for the long haul, months where there is a slight dip in net worth is really worrying as the general trend is onwards and upwards!