Would You Submit a Video Resume?

The other day an interesting article came across my email about the considerations of doing a video resume. I didn’t read past the title before I thought ”why have I never considered this before?”. In 2014 we’re emailing resumes and cover letters in hopes of gaining an interview so why not modernize the whole process a little?

When I was in high school a guy came in and talked about tips for resume and cover letter writing, tips I still apply today. One of the tips he offered to make your resume stand out, if you were so inclined, was to attach a photo of yourself. Since we as humans are very visual learners the interviewer is more likely to remember your resume if they can associate something (ie the picture) with it, gaining you a higher chance of getting the interview.

Your resume gets you an interview.

You get yourself the job.

Once you gain the interview you need to slay it and convince them why you need to get the job.

Video resumes make so much sense in some industries, others not so much. Personally, I am in a field where I could see it being beneficial. It could be edited in such a way where I could include clips of me interacting with patients (fake or real) for the interviewer to see how it is I do my job. I’m in an industry that relies on good patient interaction and rapport building skills. These are skills that though I can put them on paper don’t mean anything until they see it in practice.

Working interviews are popular in my line of work. Where, usually after a formal interview, you are asked to come back for a few hours to a full day (for pay) and work as you would if it was already your job so they can watch you and see how it is you work. Applying the words from your resume into practice so to speak. Though this draws the interview process out a little longer than usual there is, in my opinion, more of an insurance policy with this type of interview as the risk of hiring without seeing how they work is eliminated.

A video resume could, essentially, replace this entire step. Again, using my line of work as the example, if they went right from video interview to formal interview it could save time and money (by not having to pay someone to come in and work for working interview). Interviews are sometimes done via Skype, why not land that interview with a stellar video resume?

What do you think? Would you do a video resume? As someone who may be in a position to do the hiring, would you like video resumes?

The Cost of Dental Care Shouldn’t Keep You Away

wpid-img_20130830_100750.jpgOn Friday past, the Globe and Mail, one of Canada’s national leading newspapers, published a piece about the cost of dental care in Canada and how it is keeping patients away (read it here). There’s no way I was going to read this without addressing it.

First off, we’re spoiled in Nova Scotia with dental care essentially being taken care of (there are restrictions) until the age of 14 (with the intent of increasing coverage until age 16), also being covered if you’re on social assistance. Maybe we as a province are nuts spending our tax payers dollars this way, but in my opinion, if every province followed suit the overall cost of dentistry would dramatically decrease (Ontario, I’m looking at you and the insane rate of childhood caries and cost to fix them).

Prevention is the easiest and cheapest way to keep dental costs down. It starts at home. Brush effectively; floss, more than once every six months- your toothbrush is incapable of getting in between the contact of teeth; drink water and limit acidic drinks (coffee, wine, juice, energy drinks), have a good dental exam and cleaning at a minimum of every 12 months. Some people need more but if it comes down to money, once a year really is better than nothing. If good dental care is initiated early (don’t even try and give me any of the ”my kid hates brushing their teeth” crap), it will sustain their oral health throughout life.

Fact: there are very few congenital enamel deficiencies (ie. you did not ‘inherit’ soft teeth from your dad) which may lead to dental troubles and thus increased costs.

As for the cost involved, having your teeth ”cleaned” (a word I loath) at least once per year, will likely run you anywhere from $125-$225 depending on a few different factors. Paying the $125-$225 per year not only ensures you have a good chance and maintaining a good foundation of oral health, it will allow you to stay on top of any other issues that may arise. Dealing with something when it is small, especially in dentistry, is almost always a cheaper option. If you end up needed a filling or two every few years, dealing with them when they’re first diagnosed (within a 12 month period) it won’t cost you much more than $250 likely.

Fact: assume one cleaning per year and one filling every three years will cost approximately $300 per year or $25 per month, is that a little more doable Canada?

Want to avoid restorative dentistry entirely? I sure want you to. If you do your job, and I do my job, and you listen to me as your dental hygienist, we, as a team, can make it possible (outside of accidents) to never see a dentist. It is possible to never have a filling or other major work done but you still need to have your teeth checked and cleaned at least once per year.

We as an industry are not trying to gouge you. In Nova Scotia for example, a fee guide is issued by our provincial dental board. The prices are not just made up by your dentist. Our equipment and materials are very expensive. There are no Chinese-made instruments. Almost everything you see is made in Canada, USA or Europe, countries where we’re paying people at least a minimum wage to fabricate. Also, we as a team (dentist, their assistant and your hygienist) are all very well educated. I don’t think you’d question paying for a well educated and knowledgeable person vs. not.

If you do need expensive work done look at other options. There are almost always options. Are there dental schools you can go to? Will your dentist do payment plans (a big reason it pays to build and maintain a good relationship with one provider)? Can you hold off of the work with a temporary solution until you come up with the money?

As a person who works in the dental industry I get really frustrated by ignorance and people who are quick to judge without getting the facts straight. So, if you’re one of the six million Canadians who are avoiding dental care, as reported to a ”blue ribbon panel” because of the cost, please don’t let it discourage you. There are solutions, this easiest being to prevent the issue from arising in the first place, a simple solution all too often ignored. A ”cleaning” is so much more than just removing stains and making your teeth feel smooth.

While I’m at it, quit the disgusting energy drinks which are quite literally acid washing your teeth, not to mention killing you and give up the cigarettes (just gross beyond medical and dental issues). Added bonus, you’ll have more money and one less excuse as to why you can’t afford dentistry.

/end rant.

It’s Been a Long Week

I don’t normally do this but I haven’t had time this week to finish any of the blog posts I’ve started! I haven’t been feeling 100% and just didn’t have the energy. I’ll be honest some of my blogging time has been consumed with me reading, a book, which I don’t make enough time for (kids will do that to you!). I’ll be back next week with finished posts, and hope to get some comments up on all your blogs (I’ve been reading just no interactions, sorry) until then have a great weekend! I’ll be stuffing my face with these insane things which are a total and complete waste of money but so weirdy good.wpid-img_20140910_182623.jpg

Can You Get a Graduate Degree Without Debt? It Is Possible

collegeStudent loan debt is a major topic these days. By some estimates, nearly 40 million Americans are carrying student loan debt, with the average balance around $23,000. A significant portion of that debt — about 40 percent — is from loans used to finance graduate and professional degrees, and almost 25 percent of borrowers owe $100,000 or more.
With numbers like those, many prospective graduate students hesitate to seek advanced degrees. Even though earning a master’s degree leads to increased opportunities and earning potential, the prospect of going into debt isn’t a pleasant one. However, it’s possible to earn a graduate degree without taking out massive student loans.

Save Money in Advance
A few fields, like law and medicine, require a graduate degree right off the bat. In most cases, though, it’s better to work for several years before going back to school. Not only does time “in the trenches” give you an idea of what you want to study and help you hone your goals, it always gives you time to squirrel away some funds to put towards graduate school.
Even saving a few hundred dollars per month for two or three years can leave you with a healthy fund to cover the cost of your education. Even if you don’t save the entire cost of your program, if you are lucky enough to work for a company that offers tuition assistance or you earn grants and scholarships, your savings will cover the difference.
Choose Your School Carefully
When it comes to financial aid, not all schools are created equally. Some schools simply do not have the funds available to offer graduate students. As you research schools, look at each program’s track record in terms of scholarships and grants in recent years. How has the school’s endowment performed over the last decade? Schools with healthier, well-managed funds that have weathered the economic struggles of the last few years are more likely to have money to offer promising students than those schools that haven’t fared as well.
Apply for Assistance Early
With so many people returning to school, it’s common for all merit-based aid to be awarded by mid-to-late spring. If you miss financial aid deadlines, you may not qualify for scholarships, fellowships, assistantships, or other programs that can significantly defray the cost of your degree.
At that point, loans or paying out of pocket may be your only options, so pay attention to deadlines, and apply for every source of funding for which you qualify.
Save Money on Prerequisites
While many graduate programs will accept applicants who do not have a background in their chosen field, some will require students to complete prerequisite courses before beginning coursework. In most cases, you can complete these classes through your graduate school, but you might pay a premium for them. If you do have to complete prerequisites, take those courses at your local community college or through a professional education program instead; just confirm that the credits will transfer before enrolling. In some cases, you can save several hundred dollars this way.
Learn By Teaching
Some graduate programs offer graduate teaching assistantships to promising students. In exchange for working up to 20 hours per week as a research or teaching assistant, you may receive a tuition waiver, a stipend, or both. Most of these programs have strict requirements — for example, some prohibit students from holding other employment — but you could conceivably earn a “free” graduate degree this way. You can also apply for fellowships, also known as grants, which will pay for all or some of our education. Some fellowships are conditional; for example, the highly competitive Truman Scholarship requires recipients to commit to a career in public service.
Cut Other Costs
Tuition is just one part of the equation when it comes to paying for graduate school. Not only do you have living expenses as well, but you’ll need to pay for books and fees. Reduce some of those costs via smart planning. For example, if you can, try renting your textbooks instead of purchasing them. Some graduate level textbooks, especially in business and the sciences, can run upwards of $300 each, where a semester-long rental is usually less than $100. Pay attention to fees as well. Some schools will waive fees for health services or student activities for online students, so read your bill carefully to confirm you’re not being charged hundreds of dollars in unnecessary fees.
In a perfect world, you could apply to grad school, get a full scholarship, and ride off into the sunset with a master’s degree and a bright future. Unfortunately, it’s not a perfect world, but you can get a degree without a mountain of debt if you do your homework and plan.

August 2014 Debt Repayment Update

1958003_10100445146355879_7304944815605772689_nI’m always a little late with these updates but better late than never I guess! Part of the reason I don’t write these posts for the first of the month is because I often don’t make any final extra debt payments for the month until the last day of the month or the first day of the upcoming month. I still consider these funds to be apart of August debt repayment though since the payment is coming from funds earned in August even if I don’t make the payment until September 01.

August was a better month than July. I was able to put a little back in the ER fund as well as a chunk of change onto debt. All this on top of enjoying a little summer fun which included a weekend away as well as a few other little day trips and visiting. Our minimum debt payments is larger then some mortgages so though we were able to put $1,979 towards debt this month, we have to remember that our minimum monthly payment for these debts is $1,451 which means we threw an extra $528 towards debt this month, a number I’m happy with especially considering we had such an expense-filled month.

I still think a lot about the order in which we want to tackle our debts. Given that we we’ve had a few vehicle worries lately (issues that we think are resolved but don’t know for sure), I really want to get the vehicle loan paid off soon even though it’s one of the lowest interest rates of all our debts. I just want the peace of mind or knowing if something big does happen to it we won’t be screwed with not having it paid off. The vehicle is only three years old so we shouldn’t encounter too many issues though (fingers and toes crossed).

How was everyone’s August endeavors, debt repayment or not?

Our Financial Checklist

We still have, realistically, three years until we’re (non-mortgage) debt free. While three years seems like a long time to me right now, as I look at my two year old standing in front of me I know just how fast time can go and I try to remind myself that though we want this debt gone, to not simply wish the next few years away.

In the next few years while we’re paying our remaining debt off, first tackling a $14,000 loan which we hope to pay off before November of 2015, we need to prep for our debt-free life by making sure we have checked off a few items from our financial check-list. It has taken a long time to get into the groove of living on a budget and paying debt off, now that we’re on track I want to prep myself as much as I can for our new debt free life so we don’t waste any time.

Life Insurance

First up for us to do is get life insurance. We have small policies through our work and in addition, I have malpractice insurance which I pay into with my annual licensing fee. We also have our individual large debts (mortgage and large student loans) individually insured in case something were to happen to us but now that we have a child we need to get real and get a proper term life insurance plan. I can’t imagine burdening our young child or family with financial issues if something were to happen to us. I will sleep much better once this is taken care of.

Figure Out Our Next Move

We won’t be in this house much beyond our debt getting paid off. We still don’t know if we want to build or move into an established neighbourhood. We have a lot of homework to do about what’s involved with possibly building and the entire process that goes with it. I don’t know for sure, but I assume mortgages that are associated with new builds would be different from the standard home purchase, stuff like that I’m unsure of.

More Kids?

My husband’s best friend is his sister and I’m close to mine as well, we can’t imagine our daughter not having that same opportunity as well and within the next few years we’ll likely have another kid. Given that our daughter has already celebrated her second birthday and I have no immediate plans to become pregnant, there will certainly be a bit of a gap between our children. We will be much more prepared financially before this happens and we need to figure out when the most ideal time might be (ie close to or being debt free).

Education

Once this debt is paid off we need to start investing like crazy to make up for a little bit of lost time and I’m hardly the type to hand cash over if I don’t know exactly what it’s doing for me. I have a lot to learn about this aspect of money and how, if and when we’ll retire.

We have a lot of homework to take care of in the next two to three years that’s for sure, all of this on top of earning as much as possible to get this debt paid off as soon as possible!

Students, Just Because You’re Given a Discount Doesn’t Mean You Have to Use It!

I had a rare extended lunch break at work earlier this week and seized the opportunity to get some fresh air and go for a walk around my work, which happens to be on one of the busiest streets in the country. There was something clearly obvious, school was back in. In a city of multiple universities and collages on top of the normal elementary and secondary schools, when school is back, it is incredibly obvious.

Aside from the extra 35,000 people descending on the city and increase in foot traffic during my walk, the other obvious sign that students were back in? Student discount offers in every. single. window. Seriously from the electronics store, to the utilities store to the pizza store, all of them were throwing discounts at students and not just suggesting but demanding they use their student discount at their location, as a non student it was overwhelming, I can’t imagine how a student might feel. I can see clearly how it is so easy to spend more money then they need to while pursuing post secondary studies.

Most all of our debt is from my post secondary education, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I spend more than I needed to on offers just like this. The temptation is real and I’m here to tell every student out there, just because you have a student discount, doesn’t mean you have to use it!

Student discounts aren’t always a burden, some of the offers have the potential to save students thousands of dollars throughout their studies. If you use any service at all, from insurance and banking to eating pizza, always ask if they offer a student discount! Just because they don’t publicize one doesn’t mean they don’t offer. At my work, a dental office, though we don’t have a true student discount we would never turn a student away for lack of money and would always offer a discounted price if they asked. It doesn’t hurt to ask, in fact I suggest you call all the services you normally use and capitalize on it.

Where student discounts get detrimental is when you start using it on products or services you don’t need or use. Especially if it encourages you to sign up to a long-term service such as cable. I never had time for TV while I was in school and if I did I’d almost always watch the online version the day after, in between study sessions. You don’t need that student discounted price of $95/month, it is not saving you anything, in fact you’ll end up wasting over $3,000 in the course of a four year degree (with an eight month school year) if you do get that deal that is ”too good to pass up”.

Being a student was one of the best times of my life. I loved the lifestyle, the social life and the fact that, at the time, I could live like the rest of the world didn’t exist simply because I was enthralled with my studies. Life and post secondary finances will get back to you. Use your money wisely, don’t be afraid to not spend your money when friends are and be aware that just because someone else is telling you it is a good deal, doesn’t mean it is.

Would You Rather Spend All Your Money While Alive or Leave It For After You Die?

wpid-img_20140804_194830.jpgGrowing up a friend of mine found out his grandfather was terminally ill at a fairly young age. He was in pretty good health (otherwise) but knew he’d be dead likely within the year. The grandfather sat the family down and explained the situation with the family. He wanted to take the stigma out of talking about death and money and wanted to make sure he appropriated his money the way he wanted to spend it. He didn’t want to leave a bunch of cash for the family to deal with after the fact.

He took the entire immediate family (eight total including him) on a vacation for two weeks in Europe, a trip most of the family members would never have been able to afford. He explained that he wanted to see his family enjoy a trip of a lifetime while he was living rather than him looking down and feeling like he missed out.

I have to be honest, given that we’re on hardcore debt repayment mode, we’re not quite yet thinking about retirement let alone estate planning. I do know however that I have zero intention of building a retirement fund that includes any ”leftovers” for my children though. I’m in the school of thought that would rather help them (or others) while alive. I want to be the one seeing the enjoyment while alive rather than after I’m gone.

Some people, for example, may choose to give their children money for a downpayment on their first home (I have varying thoughts about this) but this may be a way for someone to spend their money before death. If this is what the parents want to do (rather than leaving a decent chunk of change after death) then who are we to judge?

A little different but we already have intentions of paying for most, if not all our daughters post secondary education. This is a massive ticket item in my mind. Money we’re giving to her to she can start her adult life out on the right foot (ideally debt free) and money that we are not investing in ourselves. The fact is that if we didn’t have a child, or we chose not investing in her post secondary education, it would be more money in our pocket/retirement accounts but I would rather spend this money on her than have that much more in retirement at the end of the day.

Everyone is different, my grandparents passed away with a very large estate, even if they hadn’t died at a young age they still would have had a significant amount of money. This just won’t be me. You better believe if I find myself to be a 85-year-old woman, and still have a bunch of money left to my name, God willing you’ll find me flying around the world looking to eat the rest of my money at the best restaurants around, enjoying every last penny, after all I earned it and I want to enjoy it.

Are you planning on spending it all or saving some for future generations (or donate to charity/give it all away/anything)?

6 Ways Improving Your Credit Score Can Save You Money

Working your way out of debt is never easy but by now you should know just how important it is. While credit improvement tips are often discussed, the benefits to a higher score are often left unmentioned. These benefits can end up saving you a ton of money every single year.

Insurance Premiums

Believe it or not, your credit score helps determine your insurance premiums – both for car insurance and homeowner’s insurance. Your driving history isn’t the only thing insurance companies consider when providing you with a quote. You’re rated on a scale of 150 to 950 to determine your insurance rate. Based on collected client history, insurance companies have determined that individuals with a low credit score are more likely to file a claim, so to offset this risk, they increase your insurance premium. Your ability to pay your credit cards on time will not only improve your credit score but it can make your bills cheaper.

Interest Rate

This one seems like a no-brainer. Individuals with higher credit scores are more likely to have lower interest rates which can spell out to a huge amount of savings. A 30-year mortgage for $250,000 can be the difference of about $221,000 in interest paid for someone with a credit score of 630 (poor) or about $139,000 for someone with a score of 850 (highest). The difference is an outstanding $82,000 paid over the 30-year life of the loan. The same concepts apply to car loans and credit cards which collect interest every month.

Credit Limit

Your credit usage determines 30 percent of your credit score, but unless you have a high score, your credit limit will remain low. This could mean that even a small charge on your credit card is using a big portion of your overall available credit. Lexington Law recommends a 50 percent utilization cap on each card to improve your score, but the less credit you use, the better your score will be.

Rental Approval

When it comes to rental approval, property owners typically look to your credit history to determine your likelihood to pay. Most often, property owners won’t look at your overall score, so much as they will your payment history to ensure they won’t find themselves in an undesired predicament. A better credit history means you’re more likely to end up in that dream rental you’ve had your eye on.

No Security Deposit 

Some companies, like cell phone providers, require a security deposit on goods or services, to protect themselves should someone default on the bill. However, if you show credible payment history, many companies will waive these deposit fees, saving you money and hassle.

Added Benefits

Good credit comes with additional perks. When your credit score is low, many credit card companies restrict their selection to secured cards or no frill cards. These are the ones that come with no added benefits, like cash back, reward points, free gifts, or low to no introductory APR rates. These bonuses can be used to purchase plane tickets for a vacation or other items you may have already intended to purchase, resulting in an additional savings. By improving your score, you can earn extras bonuses on all of your purchases.

Each individual’s savings will vary on their needs and spending habits, but improving your credit score can make a huge difference in your pocketbook. Each little change you make to improve your score, will land you with more ways to save money.

Brits Are Saving More

picApparently, people in the UK are now saving significantly more than they have been in previous years according to a new report by HSBC.

You can click here to find out more but the reports that shows the average savings total has now risen to almost £21,000. This is up by 15 per cent from 2013 according to the report.

Just over half of all the UK’s savers added more to their total savings over the last year than they’ve withdrawn from their savings, up from 39 per cent in 2013. In fact, less than a quarter of people drew out more than the amount they saved over the last 12 months – down from 34 per cent from the equivalent figure last year.

This perhaps shows that more and more people in the UK are beginning to wake up to the realities of debt. It may be that people are more fearful of the consequences of debt and, if that is the driver, this has to be welcomed. Being free from debt and refusing to buy into the consumer “must-have” mentality can bring people enormous personal freedom. Hopefully, this is an indicator that more people are becoming savvier with their finances and concentrating more on the things in life that truly do matter.

The report also shows that the UK’s savings habits are now more regular. Forty-three per cent of Britons are now making regular contributions to their savings compared with an equivalent figure of 40 per cent this time last year. Nevertheless, over half of all people are still adding to their savings accounts on more of an ad-hoc basis.

The amounts involved are quite significant too, with around three quarters of all UK savers putting away £100 or more each month.

If you’ve made your way to this website, you’ll probably regard this as good news and will be sympathetic towards those who are determined to free themselves from debt and to put their lives on the other side of the debt “equation” by having savings and investments rather than net debts. The way to achieve this is to gradually earn more than you spend – though this is easier said than done for many people, and particularly those looking after very old, very young or infirm family members etc.

The first step towards freedom is to take a long hard and candid look at your finances and where the money is going and/or how you may be able to earn more.

For some people this is unmanageable and legal processes like debt management plans or even bankruptcy is the only way to go. But for the vast majority of people, getting out of debt is perfectly manageable by looking carefully at all items of expenditure and cutting their coat according to their cloth. This may all sound a bit miserable but once you get into it – you can actually get to quite enjoy the process itself. There’s lots of advice on this website and elsewhere about ways to save money – and you can probably think of your own ways of earning a little more. Often, because many people are close to the tipping point of balancing the books and getting into the black each month, the little things can make an enormous difference as many Britons are clearly finding out.

Photo by  401(K) 2013