Month: September 2016
We were joined by Dan Shea from Fidelity Investments to learn more about budgeting and financial planning!
Financial planning with Fidelity Investments
Topics to be discussed:
- Track your expenses.
- Know what is a discretionary vs essential spending.
- Monitor your spending behavior.
- Tough to save if you don’t know what you’re saving for!!
- Health care
- Cable TV
- If you have credit cards with an 8-9% interest rate it’s bad, so try to pay them as soon as possible.
- Create a budget.
- Avoid getting a high interest now because it compounds – you end up paying more in the future.
- If you have more than one credit card with a high-interest rate, you can consolidate them but then make sure they get paid during the timeline that was determined for it.
- Example: if you have a credit card with a 10% interest rate versus a card with a 15% interest rate then pay the one with the 15% interest rate first!
- Key to your credit report is how long you’ve had your credit cards.
- Doesn’t matter how much you use the credit card, as long as you pay them. Try to pay them off each month.
- Use only 16% of what’s available of your credit. For example: if you have a $10,000 dollar credit you don’t want to have more than $1,600 in balance.
- Too many cards could hurt your credit.
- Monitor your savings!
- “Don’t keep all your eggs in one basket” – particularly important with investments.
- Good tools:
- In the Fidelity Investments website to keep track of your accounts (free to set up!) – you can buy stocks through that tool.
- Google Wallet
- Some other tools charge $20/month to use.
- Good tools:
- Money for essentials, unplanned emergencies and goals.
- 50% of your take home income should go to essential spending.
- ~50% of take-home pay.
- Save 15% of pre-tax (not take-home) income.
- Lowers your taxable income. The younger you are and the lower your bracket is, the more sense it makes to have a Roth-IRA.
- Save 5% of your income.
- “Because the unexpected happens”.
- Should save 3-6 months of essential expenses!
- Maybe start a separate bank of money account and put in a certain amount every month ($20 or so) after you’ve paid your bad debt and covered your essential expenses.
- Start saving for retirement as soon as possible! Up to 8% pre-tax income every month.
- You don’t want to compromise your retirement savings. Compounding is key!
- 403(b) retirement plan – can you merge your 403(b) from your old institution into a new one like Tufts? Yes (Rollover)!
- If you take out a loan on your retirement plan, you have to pay taxes on it.
- Fidelity Investments is in campus twice a month on campus.
- October is booked, but for after October is cool – financial advice for free!!
- Paying debt in full saves you a lot of interest.
- The benefit of paying your debt:
- The higher your FICO score the lower your APR is.
- Student loans can actually help your score, but whether you’re good at making payments to your loan every month is what influences your standing.
- Good debt: i.e. mortgage
- Bad debt: credit cards
- Housing payment should be no more than 28% of your gross income.
- The City of Boston offers a class on home owning for $25.
- Saving for emergency expenses
- Saving for retirement
- Pay/pay-off high-interest cards
- Pay student loans
- He works at the bench everyday as he used to do as a postdoc, but he enjoys not having to worry about funding and getting materials/reagents.
- Set up a LinkedIn account and realized it was about building connections. He also went to networking events and started making connections within Merrimack. So start making connections now!
- Make connections now. Do not expect to connect with people now and then ask for help or a job the following day. Having a vaccine background helped her (microbiologist by training).
- She loves the speed/demands of her job. She felt like making a change after several years and she likes doing sales, so she made the move and started thinking about previous experiences that translate to sales so that she could use them to get the job.
- After publishing in a high impact journal paper, nothing happens. What was conflicting for her was that all that work led to a high impact journal paper would not progress much beyond that. Thus, she wanted to do something about it and started a company.
- She came from a large, well-funded research group, so she says she had resources. She also did studies toward a MBA. Postdoc’d at day and hustled at night.
- Her postdoc did not prepare her for any of this! The learning curve was very steep. When starting a company you do wear 5 hats 40 hours a week. The postdoc prepared her for the science part (to sell the idea to investors), but not the business side of it. She didn’t know how to incorporate a company, how to pay her employees, how to provide them with benefits… People management is a whole different subject to deal with when setting up a company.
- Realized didn’t want to do research 3 or so years into the PhD, but he pushed through. He went to the tech transfer office and asked if they had an intern position. He now wears 3 hats at his job.
- No need to be an attorney to become a patent agent.
- Soft skills from the postdoc to apply for a job: the dealing with people, wearing twelve different hats.
- Sought out what other options are there. He found other postdocs who started a small consulting group and he joined them. That helped him stand out among a pool of job applicants when he finished his postdoc. Think outside the box!
- Took a different path: he did graduate school in molecular biology but as he progressed through grad school he realized that he didn’t want to necessarily do that.
- Skills: Learning does not often solely happen in the class room. You learn valuable skills at your work place. Rarely the person who knows more in the lab is not the PI (not in terms of the everyday requirements). It’s usually the lab manager/technician.
- He looks for people with passion and knowledge. Doesn’t care about people coming from top schools alone.
- A major skill is to ask the right questions! In his case: what does a specific sector need? How can he become an asset to their organization? Utility-centered approach. Take initiative. Know where you want to go. Be honest to yourself about not knowing. Get it out of your system.
- Much easier to teach PhDs about management than management people learning how to do science!
- Started by writing for the student magazine at Berkeley. Went to a bio-hacking talk and was intrigued by it. Moved to Boston and acquired teaching experience at Harvard, then found out about space open to do science at Somerville. Science classes open to all backgrounds (a lot of them are engineers interested in learning biotechnology!)
- Events during the weekends and a forum this Monday 9/26/16 at LabCentral.
- She is also a visiting scientist at the Broad Institute.
- In the future she wants to do the community lab (BosLabs) full-time.
- She thinks the biggest problems in the world can be addressed by science. Knew she wanted to be a geneticist when she was 13 (wanted to feed the world).
- Incredible compulsion to solve problems.
- When in Harvard she realized that many labs had a surplus of or were wasting equipment that could be used further, so she started Seeding Labs 5 years even before she officially started Seeding Labs.
- Got funding for Seeding Labs even before she started writing her thesis.
- Started doing networking events and met people that helped her learn about finances and management.
- She had to learn about 7 different languages she would not have learned when in academia to run the labs.
- You will never be prepared for the next step! You make it as you go along.
We were joined by Gary McDowell, Executive Director of Future of Research (and the second Tufts PDA president!) who discussed what The Future of Research is and the changing landscape of research and postdoctoral issues, including the FLSA act.
-Future of Research was formed after a desire to contribute the thoughts of junior researchers on the state of research and how to better sustain research in the future.
– Came out of the fledgling Boston Postdoctoral Association
– 1st FoR, which took place in 2014, was a collaborative discussion effort
1. Junior scientists should be better connected together between the different experience and location levels
2. More funding opportunities for scientists and better advocacy for increased conditions, salary etc.
3. Transparency: better clarity on the career outcomes and options for postdocs. Where do people go? Transparency on salaries and benefits at each individual institution.
Mission: To represent junior scientists, through grassroots advocacy, to promote systemic change to the way we do science.
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and postdoc salaries:
FLSA: guarantee of a minimum wage and overtime pay within a 40 hr workweek.
July 6 2015: Minimum exemption salary (for no overtime) was $23,660 – proposal of new FLSA act was to increase this to $50,440 with updates every 3 years.
May 18 2016: Exemption salary set as $47,476 with implementation date as Dec 1, 2016.
How postdocs fit in:
– Many Higher Ed institutions (such as CUPA-HR and AAMC) pushed for postdocs to be exempt from the new standards and suggested lower salary caps.
– Postdocs pushed back via individual submissions, group letters coordinated by postdoc groups and by unions representing postdocs.
The Outcome: Postdocs were NOT exempt and were explicitly included in the act. The only exemption was where the primary role of the postdoc is teaching. All international postdocs, regardless of status, visa or funding source are included. Adjuncts are not included and are exempt.
Some higher ed institutions have lobbied to have the decision reversed, however it is unlikely this will occur.
So what does this mean?
– To raise salaries or track hours?
– Consensus view within the community is to increase salaries to $50,000 minimum which should be adjusted to inflation and regional living costs.
– NRSA levels:
– 51% of institutions set their minimum with the NIH
– 7% of institutions do not enforce their minimum
– 11% of institutions do not have a set minimum.
Over 50% of salaries will be affected … whether people will actually see their salaries increased or they will be let go… time will tell.
Why Gary thinks no-one will track hours:
1. The burden of proof in violating the overtime ruling is on the institution, thus it is easy for he employee to win.
2. The administrative burden to track the hours will further stress administrators who have high workloads.
Postdocs are federally recognized as both employees and trainees.
Thus, they are not just cheap temporary staff scientists and experiments, writing papers, reading papers, career development, activities, conferences and even outreach (tweeting!) are all activities that fall under the job description of a postdoc.
What will be the effects?
– Smaller institutions more affected?
– Dip in new hires as y0/1 postdocs will be more expensive?
– Will junior faculty bear the brunt?
– Postdocs let go?
– Shift postdocs to NRSA/training fellowships then from research grants?
– More grad students? Someone has to do the work…
– Will there be fewer postdocs? This may be a good thing…
[Job Listings] Associate Project Manager opening at Bracket Global