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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello Everyone,
I've been browsing these forums for a while but have never posted. I find a lot of good advice and opinions on here - though sometimes contradictory, it is always nice to see both sides to every coin.

I think I may be a unique case in terms of how frugal I have managed to be, let me explain why (sorry in advance for being long-winded, I'll try to keep it concise):

(wrapping in a Quote for aesthetic purposes)
Job & Savings
I work at a Call Center as a Team Manager (after being promoted a couple of times) and only make about 32K per year. I manage to save an average of $1,400.00 per month, and currently have a little over $35k in savings accumulated in the past 2 and a half years since returning from abroad (more on that in a moment). I genuinly enjoy saving more than spending, I like watching the numbers/graphs move upwards more than buying the latest and greatest of whatever. The exception being travel which I love, I will spend money like a rockstar if I travel.

Education
I am not proud of this, but I've never been to college/university. It's rather easy to justify sometimes though - My city's economy is horrible, and many of the call center agents on my team have BAs, MAs, and one gentleman even has a PhD. There are swaths of Engineers (mechanical, electrical, etc.) who for whatever reason work at the call center for an average wage of $10.75/hour. It does make one think hard about what to take in school and future directions in life.
Anyways, that's no excuse. I'd like to go back to school but I'm not sure what I'd want to major in.

Live Experience
After saving up money throughout highschool - about $28k - I went to Japan and lived there for a year, went to language school there, and learned Japanese to the point where I'm quite fluent in it. I'd already been studying it for about 4 years before I went, but easily learned more in that one year of immersion. I met a girl there, and that brings me to the next point:

I'm married
I live with my wife from Japan, and we live in a small but very nice (brand-new never-used fridge, stove, toilet and carpeting) bachelor apartment, rent: $495 including everything. I think her being Japanese helps this as it's a normal sized place over there.
She is probably as frugal as I am, and we enjoy weekly outings out of a bi-weekly food/expenses budget of $160 that gets split between groceries, bowling, restaurants, etc. It helps that my company gives out bonuses sometimes in the form of Subway restaurant gift cards and such.
I am looking for direction. I really enjoy my life right now, I have great friends, a wonderful spouse, and a little bit of world-experience under my belt to boot - so people who say that one cannot live a fulfilling life on a small salary are incorrect in my opinion. I do actually enjoy my Job quite a lot in it's current form - being a team manager offers me a lot of flexibility (like flex hours) and chances for creativity in limited spurts... but I don't want to be stuck in the rat-race forever. I don't even know what I'm saving for except in the vaguest sense of wanting to have a better future, and an impulsive drive to build wealth.

I know many people might say the best investment I could make right now is in furthering my education - and I might agree, except I'm not sure what I would like to study. I yearn for a career that allows me to design, build or be entrepreneurial or creative. I don't mind risks, I don't mind getting lost in unknown places. I like challenges, but I am quick to loose motivation or interest in things at times due to some sort of sense of apathy.

Does anyone have any tips for how to 'figure out' what you want to do with your life? I know this is maybe a strange question for this forum, but I am interested in the financial consequences of my actions perhaps more than anything.
 

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Being married to a Japanese girl is certainly a good thing.

If you are fluent in Japanese and you like to build, design, create and entrepreneurial would make you a good candidate to work in Vancouver I would think. So maybe you should take accounting, business, design courses and such to start with.
 

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Website translation pays very well and you don't even have to go to school just take English sites and convert to Japanese.If your wife is good with her English may be a good work from home job for her as well.I know this from experience as in past we have paid as much as $125 per page to get translated.

To be 25 years old and manage to save on your income level you should be very proud .If you love your job I would consider looking for other ways to supplement your existing job until you do decide what you want to study.look in Google and you will find many companies like this http://www.proz.com/japanese-translation-jobs .
 

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I think it's great you've been able to save up so much at such an early age. And you sound like you've got a good head on your shoulders, which is no small feat either.

It sounds like you're happy with where you're at now, but it's not necessarily where you want to be 10 years from now. At the same time, you don't know where you want to be 10 years from now, just not where you are. So in that respect, I wouldn't necessarily say you're happy so much as you're comfortable with where you're at right now, which is good. But I think you have to disrupt that comfort level to find what you're looking for.

It's a difficult thing, trying to figure out what to be when you grow up. I'm not even sure I know the answer to that question and I'm much older :p For younger generations, I think we feel afraid of making the wrong choice. By not making a choice, all options are open. But as soon as you walk down one path, you close off many others. Go to school for engineering for two years? You probably won't be able to afford switching to medical school. So maybe you study something that can be used in many different ways like business. But maybe you'll hate that and wish you did law. Or maybe you have a soul so you can't study law (I kid).

I don't know the perfect answer here. But I do think you need to step outside of your current life somehow. What are your passions in life? Can you develop those? Are there other job options out there for you that would give you different experiences and potentially more pay? I think you're at the age where you should float and see and try different things out, and a big mistake won't cripple your career. And if you find something, it's never too late to go back to school. Some might argue going to school to find yourself, and I see that happen sometimes too, though it's quite an expensive lesson.

But I think you need to find a way to stretch the status quo a bit. There's more to life than just comfort.
 

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Direction

Only save enough for a reasonable cushion. Your number one goal should be to buy a house or condo and get it paid for as quick as possible. Don't play the keepin up with the Jonezz, stay away from the Home Depot, just buy something cheap, cheap taxes, and cheap to heat, and get it paid for.

In my experience, most investment products which are the most common offer poor performance and charge huge commissions.

If/when you have kids, being mortgage free is priceless.

If your handy, consider flipping houses.
But the bottom line is you must own property and get it paid for.

And school is over rated. I would suggest taking some online project management courses though.
 

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I've struggled with some of the same issues you have recently. To make a long story short, I struggle between taking a good job or taking a year off to travel and discover myself.

The good news for you is that you have a savings cushion. Having money makes just about every problem a little easier to bear, imo.

I'd say don't go back to school until you're sure you know what you want to take. There are all sorts of courses that you can take that you can do while you continue to work. Don't just rush off to school because society makes you feel pressured to do so.

Talk to your wife too. What does she want to do? Is she happy here in Canada? Your wife's opinion is definitely more important than mine.

Looking back on what I just typed, I'm not sure I answered any of your questions. I guess you should just ask yourself what you'd do if you didn't have any need to earn a living. Whatever that is, do it.
 

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Captian Handsome did you take the job or travel? you can have both believe it or not :) and trust me the whole "travel to self discover" is overrated ;)
 

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Captian Handsome did you take the job or travel? you can have both believe it or not :) and trust me the whole "travel to self discover" is overrated ;)
That is just your opinion. My experience has been that travel has boosted my confidence and challenged me in ways I would have never been challenged if I would not have gone overseas.

Just to be clear, REAL travel isn't going to Mexico and getting drunk on the beach. Real travel is getting lost in the streets of Darjeeling, India.
 

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kalebo, you should take some couRses that teach you how to Invest your funds, and with what you are currently paying for rent, do not get into RE yet, you can make more in the market.

My Son is in Shen zhen, 15 years, and he will stay there indefinitly, were He to come back , I think ESL would be a natural(He has a Degree).

You are entrepreneurial, you don't mind risk, you might enjoy the world of Trading and Investing, get some Post Grad, does not necessarily have to be a degree, take Night School at a Community College.

Sales might be your arena, certainly can make a good livng there, just depends on your interests.

Good Luck, and as an aside, ou r youngest is about seven years older, time and compounding, He now has slightly over $200,000 which he is Investing conservativly, and will continue to rent as you cannot get good value in downtown TO.
 

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Interesting thread.

I've always been aimless, so I'm not sure I can offer any advice on finding a direction in life as I haven't been able to do that and I'm 6 years older than you - lol. I just came back from a month long trip in South America that was probably the best time I've ever had, so I can relate to your love of traveling, but it hasn't really helped in figuring out a "life plan". In fact, it's made me even more restless and unsatisfied, daydreaming of going back to Brazil and living there permanently, as I see there are a million ways to live life but I just can't choose. Now I'm back to my regular boring life in Canada. I'm an Engineer but engineering is definitely not a passion, just something I work at to pay the bills. Financial noob was right on in their comments about feeling "afraid of making the wrong choice" but I'm at a point even further back than that where I can't even figure out what the choices and narrow them down. It's tough.

I think it's good that you at least have a wife to talk to about these things. You're in it together. I'm in a relationship too, but that too I can't even commit to, and she's beginning to become worried about my lack of a "life plan" lol

Figuring out what you'd do if you didn't have any need to earn a living is nice if you can make it work for you and if you already know the answer to the question.

Anyway, good luck. Sorry I am no help.
 

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If you aren't making a mistake, you are not learning anything.

The Investment that lets you sleep tonight may not let you sleep twenty years from now.

If money is not your servant, it is your Master.
 

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I work in management for a financial services company. One of the things that always fascinates me is the level of knowledge call centre managers (and sometimes really good agents) have with the business and how insightful they can be, approaching problems in different and often more straightforward ways than people like myself. I believe this comes from constant exposure to information from customers.

So...I am not sure what business your call centre is in, but if you find it interesting, I would at least consider applying for a role in the head office, even if it's entry level. Some companies that generally require a university degree may be willing to overlook it based on the street cred you've earned by managing their call centre.

Sometimes you don't have to look too far to find a great opportunity.

RG
 

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Captian Handsome did you take the job or travel? you can have both believe it or not :) and trust me the whole "travel to self discover" is overrated ;)
Still deciding. The job is probably coming sometime soon, when a co-worker retires. The job isn't guaranteed, but I figure I have a 90% chance of getting it. I like my job, I don't want to give it up for a long vacation. On the other hand, I may regret it forever if I don't scratch this travel itch.

I have no interest in going to India and getting lost in the streets. I want to travel around the U.S. and watch baseball. It's not so much about finding myself, it's about doing that life altering experience before I settle down. Sure, it might be a waste of time, but I already waste a lot of time. :)
 

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Call Centre Career

Welcome to the forum!

First of all good job on saving so much in relation to your salary. You're well ahead of a lot of us from a discipline perspective.

As per life direction, I can give you a few ideas to get you started. I spent some time in call centres early in my life & have a close friend who did quite well in the call centre world. Since you're in call centres and seem to enjoy what you do, why don't you consider a career in call centres.

From a call centre 'manager' salary perspective you're on the lower end which means you're most likely working for a vendor that runs call centres for other companies. This type of company is a good company to build up your skills in and move from position to position. Work hard and figure out what it takes for you to move to the next level. Talk to your manager and ask them for guidance and coaching on what you can do to move to the next level. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Avoid getting caught up in the group that spends their whole day complaining about how much their job sucks and why the company is wronging them.

In the call centre world there is money in two places; Operations & Sales. I wouldn't reccomend sales unless this is something that you're particularly good at. You are in operations right now. In order to make money in operations, you need to find a way to demonstrate that you can significantly out deliver your peers.

You said you like to travel, there are a LOT of companies looking for north american managers to do contracts offshore in the Phillipines & India. These are good gigs that usually pay well and look out for all your living/eating expenses while you travel. You're not tied to a mortgage so take a year contract and go live there for a while. You'll save money you're paing on rent and will most likely save up a lot more based on the cost of living in these countries.

Upgrade your skills. Two things call centres seem to get excited about are Six Sigma & Project Management. These are both courses you can complete in a relatively short period of time. Both these disciplines are very useful regardless which career you go into. A lot of people like to go into cal centre capacity planning, training or quality. You should know enough about these three areas to build a call centre career, but my reccomendation is not to make this your goal. Money is always tight in these positions. Even if you're good at what you do, at the end of the day you're a grunt worker and the majority of your job can be outsourced for relaively less money.

Your ultimate goal in your current position should be to move into a larger organization that has an employee centric culture. Call centres are usually managed as cost centres and operate on razor thin margins and as you mentioned many qualifeid individuals are readily available to take calls. Stop comparing yourself to people you manage. You should look up at those people that manage you. What are their qualifiecations and what are they doing to move up in the world.

One other quick note, when you do make a jump from one organization to another remember it's not as easy to move from position to position within a larger organization or inhouse call centre. Meaning don't just jump jobs for an extra 5k. Take enough promotions in your existing company so that you are at the point where if you leave the organization you're willing to sign up for a long term role. In your existing role, you should not be in one position for more than 1 year unless it's bringing you value as an individual (ie you're learning new skills).

Good luck and feel free to reach out to me for any questions. This is an industry I know well.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Hey Everyone, thank you so much for all of the great replies. Reading through them has given me some ideas - and also more things to chew on a bit. I am not in any position to suddenly proclaim 'I've made a decision', and I'm not in a rush to get to that place just yet, and as many of you pointed out I probably shouldn't be in a rush... I decided to write some replies to most of you directly here:

@loggedout - Aside from you having a lot more earning potential than me (lol), I basically think we're in the same boat bud. If money was no object I'd be back in Japan (and yes even after post tsunami/fukushima disaster, I still miss it and want to go back - plus where I lived was far from all of that) as I day-dream about it all the time. Even if you were only in Brazil for a month, if you fell in love with the place I know what you're feeling being "stuck in boring Canada" and perhaps even more confused about what you want to do in life. In the long term that feeling led to me writing a post on a forum spilling my guts to the internet, and here we find ourselves.. hehe.

@Top_Spin - You really brought a lot to the table with your post, thanks :) .. I believe our center is involved with Six Sigma as I've seen posters around the office about it, but I don't recall doing any training regarding it so it might just be certain departments, or something. Yes we are an outsource provider. My particular center has 500+ agents and we do Tier 1 Technical Support for AT&T U-Verse - so it's already one of the bigger campaigns. Before coming to this program I was in a much more 'employee centric' hybrid 'tech support+sales' campaign that had a fantastic incentive program (10% commission + performance bonuses + a good choice of a shift with lots of down time vs. a shift that's busy [vs. now which is constantly call-after-call and has no incentives which is why I'm very happy to be off of inbound call-taking]).
You definitely have a lot of insight into the industry, thanks for giving me so much to think about!

@dogcomm - thanks for the schooling ideas, if I do decide to go back to school I'll definitely consider keeping my options open if I don't have a 'eureka moment' and figure out what I really want to major in.

@marina628 - Love the idea of doing stuff on the side to supplement my income, and although I can speak Japanese rather fluently, reading and writing it is at an elementary level (one thing I'd like to do sooner than later is upgrade my Japanese to a level where I can read a newspaper, and perhaps take the JLPT). In the meantime, I do teach Japanese lessons as a sort of side hobby/business, both locally and over Skype.

@financialnoob - You touched on a couple of things that became recurring issues in this thread like 'finding a passion and doing that as a job', and definitely gave some more food for thought. Reading your reply got me really thinking about how relatively 'free' and un-tied-down I still am. I feel a bit inspired now.

@Doug2000 - You sound like the self-made handyman type which is awesome, but it's not me (I'm more of a computer geek than a grease-monkey).

@financialuproar - It sounds like you face the same dilema many people face. If the offer is for a really good job then it is definitely a hard choice, but if it's just an 'ok' or 'pretty good' job I'd say take the year and travel, you never know what kind of contacts you'll make (who knows, you may even come out on top and get an even better career prospect out of it, or maybe you'll discover the next big thing and start a business after seeing some ideas from around the world) in my opinion the experiences and horizon-widening that travel offers is totally priceless. Thanks for reminding me to ask the wife, though she seems pretty content with how things are now, she does want to go back to Japan someday so part of my concern about schooling is the prospect of seeking employment in Japan (which is more of a meritocracy regarding education-viza-employment than Canada)

@bmckay - I second your opinion. If you actually live, eat, and breathe a new culture then, it's far from over-rated.

@I'm Howard - I wish I had more mentors in my life in regards to this type of stuff. I don't know enough about Real Estate or Investing. I do have a brokerage account and some of my holdings are in equities of some pretty decent companies (I own some ARMH which has performed rather nicely). I know some people who 'flip houses' or others who are building portfolios of rental properties but I just don't know where to start with that. I know there's a lot more to investing than I've been doing (playing with options, short selling, etc.) I should perhaps take your advice and explore the financial world a bit further regardless of what else I decide to do, thanks for the tip.

@rglempera - Unfortunately I'm not a call center Manager but a Team Manager within the call center - basically 2 levels up from Agent, I do the direct agent-coaching that goes on and I help to role-out new processes etc. We do tech support for AT&T but we're a third-party BPO. Not a lot of vertical room in this company in regards to Salary. The next level up from me is Salaried and to be honest, with the OT hours I put in basically every week I end up making more than them. I like you're idea about going somewhere with Head Office, except that head office with this company is in New York State and I think I have some years to go before being able to try to move up there.
 

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Welcome to the forum. I think it's great at your age your such a saver, that's 1/3 of the equation. The other 2/3 are your career (income generating ability), and investion (your asset building ability).

If you're look for life and career advice, here's my random thoughts
- you need (along with your wife) to discuss really kind of life you two envison having. From a financial standpoint but also an over balance standpoint. I also refer to the triple constraint (time, money, quality). It's difficult if not impossible to have it all at the same time, so you have come up with an order. Usually you have to sacrifice one for the other. If you want a lot of money, you may have to give up some things in the beginning. You also need to have an exit strategy for when the priorities shift (like when you have kids). For us, having financial security was very important, but not at the expense of everything. Here's an example of someone we know well. They said they wanted to be ultra rich (8 figure net worth or more), who doesn't right? Because that they were willing to scarfice almost ANYTHING to get it. They agreed to postpone having kids, rented a really inexpensive place, both worked about 90+ hours a week each (they both had cots in the office because they would stay over night there, they hardly saw each other and no one else. The point was, huge sacrifices would be made. They also discussed that if by 33 if they get to where they wanted to be, they would choose to reprioritize and balance their life, and go for a more 'normal' life balanced life and have kids, a more stable income etc. They busted their butts off right out of school, and just short of their 30th bdays, sold their first company for $38Mil (US). The key thing was they determined what kind of life they were aiming for and set some measurable goals with a time frame.

My spouse and I had a smiliar discussion when we first got out university, and discussed if we wanted to make the same scarfices. We didn't think that type sacrifice was what we wanted, nor in our personalities. So we decided that we would aim for a 7 figure net worth by 40, and outlined what our life plans were.

Once you and your wife decide what is realistic based on your personal goals, and personality, then it's time to figure out what you want to do to get there. If it's not much, then you're probably fine based on your savings. If you're not sure, the best career planning book I have read is "What's Next" by Barbara Moses. It has worksheets to help articulate what things you enjoy, and where you might be suited. It's for all levels of careers.

In terms of your actual work, there are many possibilities, and you really need to think outside of the box. At your age, and without kids, this is the time to do something. When you're older, with mortgages, kids, and other responsibilities, its much harder to leave a higher salary when you have mouths to feed. I have always looked at jobs as what skills can I transfer to somewhere else, and where I can go with them. Advice I have been given is, always look at least two positions that are higher or will give me more experience. Don't worry about the money.

I was also a team lead at a call centre (more of an helpdesk). It was a great place to determine where I wanted to go next because you do get to see everything. I knew I was going to be a manager, but made sure I strategically got to understand the business. The other thing I knew what I never wanted to be 'trapped' at any company, so made the decision that I would be more in 'supporting' functions which are more transferable, then the main operations. I think you should be looking at what else you can learn right now. Six Sigma is a great area (quality, process improvement), and so is LEAN. You may want to look into LEAN as it's closely related to Six Sigma, and it comes from Japan. I'm looking at ways to get my next level in the certification right now, so am pretty passionate about it.

There are many many skills that you gain from being a call centre lead that are transferable. Customer focus, problem solving, analytical thinking, management, etc, you just need to think of it in more general terms.

For school, decide what you want to go in, and see if the company will pay for it. Also, don't take too long. I hummed and hahed for my MBA, and then by the time I decided that I should get one, life has gotten in the way kids, etc.

Good luck
 

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Hi:

You have a job you like. You have a wife you love. You have $35K in the bank and save $1400/month on an annual salary of $32K.

Don't be in too much of a hurry to screw this up. Relax and let life reveal to you the direction.

Did you ever consider the travel industry? Customer sevice based like your existing job, plus someone will pay for you to take trips. Maybe specialize in Japanese tours. You might even find a way to live in Japan and do guided tours or something.

hboy43
 

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Life is very amazing. Life if very mysterious yet complicated in some aspects but we still want to live it. How to would depend on us. Sometimes to be spontaneous works just fine. Though that mostly works for the free-spirited ones. Planning is for the 'wanted to be sure' and carefree to the adventurous. So take your time, and think which you really believe you are. That is a start.
 
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