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State of the Learning Guy Address #1 – Where it Begins

in Assets, Debt, Learning, Passion and Happiness, Personal Finance, Salary

State of the Learning Guy Address

Hello to all of you studious individuals and subscribers to The Cult of Learning! I am here today for the very first unveiling of my finances, as being transparent with this site is one of the major underpinnings of what will make it tick. After all, I know how distrustful all of you interwebs strangers are, and having some honesty out there is always a positive to build the relationship of trust. In light of this trust building relationship (I swear I am not a hippie), please see the following formatted table for an overview of my finances at their most basic level:

Financial ItemDollar Value (USD)
Income - Salary, Job62,000.00
Income - Other2595.00
Long-Term Debt-43267.05
Short-Term Debt-810.28
Total Assets14,918.37
Current Monthly Budget2294.00

Before I delve into anything on there, I’d like to point out to all of you guys and gals at home, I currently live with my fiancee (we’ll call her That Learning Gal!). We don’t share accounts or anything of that nature, and we aren’t currently paying down each other’s debt. So, I’ve excluded her salary, debt, assets, etc., as I feel it would be slightly misleading. Until we begin using our money for dual purposes, I won’t be posting anything related to her finances, until it all becomes our (gettin’ hitched in June, y’all) finances. Well…I guess I did pay for the honeymoon with the money leftover from my relocation package…and I paid for the entirety of the engagement ring already…well, we’ll just count those little expenses as gifts (and in all seriousness, as they should be). So, enough of the shenanigans regarding That Learning Gal! Let’s get moving to what everyone wants to talk and hear about. That Learning Guy’s finances.

As you can see above, my current salary is 62k. I started working as an engineer approximately 1 year and 5 months ago. I began my wayward career as a lowly contractor working at a major staffing company for another company (confusing, I know) in Michigan. I was not getting paid what I – in theory – was worth, at least according to my degree. After all, who wants to hire a contractor with no experience? Uhhh, asshats that know they can do it on the cheap. That’s who. So, I started my career ignorantly thinking I was making decent money (when relative to a majority in this country, I was). After discovering I had been hoodwinked into providing myself a disservice (by communicating with several other contractors with similar experience), I promptly tried to remedy the situation. I gained some amount of restitution. I was given an additional $2.50, which I originally scoffed at.

My life sucks and I hate everyone and everything!

My life sucks and I hate everyone and everything!

How can this be?? I asked myself. My colleagues are still making so much more than me? It was almost as if my honor had been insulted. It enough to cause daydreams of challenging my handlers at the staffing company to a duel to the death. So, I said screw it! I started searching for a new position back in my home state of Indiana. Now, when I look back and do the math, that was over a 10% increase in my hourly rate. A pretty large increase for one year on the job.

Karma taketh and karma giveth, I thought, for lo and behold! The third position I applied for, I was given an offer. The deal was for 62k. Another increase of about 12.5% from 55k! Now, my equivalent position in most companies would be a manufacturing engineer. My new employer kind of put me on the spot when they asked for a salary. So, I gave them what I thought would be a good salary range. I start to eventually wonder, and look up the average for employees with my experience level in my field and industry. The average salary is 64k…I hope by now you can see where this is going. I was feeling shafted again, even though I had a total salary increase of about 26% from my original salary just over a year ago. I have tried to leave that envious side behind because once my student loans are paid off, I’ll have more than enough. Obviously I’ll continue to work hard and try to increase my salary so I can march towards independence, but I’ll be doing it for the right reasons now, and not the wrong ones.

Sorry about the salary rant there, but I had to get that off my chest. Now that I’m not trying to keep up with the current salary stats all the time and wishing I made more constantly, I can definitely be a little happier! Now, onto the asset portion of the portfolio.

My assets right now can be dwindled down to a couple of things, my 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, my 401k, my Roth IRA, my cash, and my…well, that’s about it for right now. My cash holdings are my largest asset class right now. Gotta keep that emergency fund game strong, my friends (that will be a great post for a different time)! The cash is followed by my car, my Roth IRA, and then my 401k. Hopefully I’ll be able to grow the latter two quickly, and add a new group of assets that aren’t specifically for retirement over 55!

Finally, we move on to the debt. If you haven’t figured it out by now, most of my debt is in the form of student loans, and boy do I regret how some of that turned out. I’ll try to make the long story as short as possible. Throughout school, I probably took out approximately 5-6k in loans that was unnecessary. I was a foolish, moronic, jackass who flaunted and wasted scholarship money freshman (impressing people), sophomore (alcohol, hookah bars, and other stupid, hedonistic pastimes), and junior year (see: sophomore year). I began to wise up – and grow more so – over time. I had to retake three classes in college (12 credits = $3600 down the drain). I then had to go an extra year, decided to double major in economics alongside my biomedical engineering degree (costed by a whole years worth of loans at approx. 22k the majority of my debt), and only worked a minimum wage job about ten hours a week. I now realize I could have avoided a lot of heartache, but from great mistakes comes the possibility of great redemption. Boys and girls, I plan on redeeming the hell out of myself. So, I hope this has been a helpful State of the Learning Guy Address. I feel it has been more of a history and moral lesson than a complete breakdown of all of my expenses, spending, etc. I promise I will get into nitty-gritty details a little more next time. I want to these addresses twice a year, but I believe I will perform a breakdown every quarter to showcase my expenses, and hopefully the progress of financial conservatism will accompany them. Feel free to share regarding any struggles you’ve had with yourself or anything else financial in the past. Learning about – and from – other people’s experiences makes us all stronger!

Thanks for tuning in once again, my friends, and learn something new.

-That Learning Guy

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