Today, I offered up to answer any financial question big or small as it might apply to designers or anyone who, for some reason or another, hasn’t had answered.
While I’m no financial expert, I do work for an independent financial research company. My views are my own and don’t represent them (so don’t sue them and get me fired). I did enlist the help of Jason Stipp, the senior site editor to make sure that I wasn’t misleading and answering your questions even though these are my personal viewpoints.
I want to be very explicit that these are simply strategies and personal opinions and I’m merely a graphic designer.
While we received a variety of questions, they do fall into certain categories and they all require more attention that a listicle article can cover.
I’ll be breaking out the answers into separate posts over the next couple of weeks. Here’s the overview:
MANAGING DEBT AGAINST SAVINGS I have $XXX,XXX in student loans, have $X,XXX in credit card debt, and make $XX,XXX a year. How can I save or invest? Should I pay down my debt first?
INTRODUCTION TO INVESTING How do I get started in investing? How do I invest when I only make $XX,XXX or my expenses are high?
BENCHMARKING/MEASURING FINANCIAL HEALTH I’m XX years old. What’s a healthy financial outlook for me? How do I know my finances are on track for me?
HOW DOES CREDIT WORK What’s the deal with credit scores? How do I build and maintain a healthy credit history? How is credit history used?
YOUR PROFESSIONAL WORTH How do I get better perks through my job? How can I convince my job to expense education? How do I negotiate a better salary?
As I finish up writing these segments, I’ll announce them on Twitter. I’ll be linking each bulleted item to each segment, so you can also just bookmark this post as an easy reference.
Depending on the response, this might become a regular thing for me.
Yup. I went there. It’s a scary topic. My friend Margot just wrote a nice post about financial habits as it applies to her concerns and life. If you’re reading my blog, then you can probably relate to her, too.
I’m not a financial expert, but I do work at Morningstar, Inc. which is a company specializing in independent financial research.** The big brokerages hire us for information that helps in their investment decisions. Think about that for a minute.
My specific job is to help redesign our main site, used by individual investors. Quite a bit of my user research and my daily tasks involve trying to solve for the very problems you face from paying down student loans, saving for retirement, and how to fix things when they’re bad.
We have a big whiteboard in our group room called the “Board of Doom” and it lists a seemingly endless script of how our economy and financial climate will play out—sadly.
Here’s the thing: it’s not that bleak. It’s definitely not out of your reach to reign in some control. We’re young enough that we can do something about it.
Let’s help each other and talk about it frankly. No gimmicks to get money from you. No bamboozling rants about how nobody should go to college. Just real talk and trying to help you in your specific situation.
So write me your story by 4PM CST 10/29/13, and ask me a question. You can do so anonymously here and I’ll give you the best advice I can:http://www.typodactyl.com/ask
Topics can be:
I have $XXX,XXX in loans, should I still save for retirement?
I have kids now. Should I prioritize their college savings?
What the fuck is an index fund and what do you mean PIMCO!?
How does investing for retirement work? Can’t I do that later?
Will social security exist?
*Edit - One of the senior writers here will be going over my answers to make sure I’m not making stuff up. My viewpoints and opinions don’t represent Morningstar, but we’ll be answering to the best of our abilities.
**The reason for emphasizing that these are my personal viewpoints is that Morningstar, Inc. employs financial and legal professionals who vet their content for integrity. They’re prepared to stand behind what they publish and that exists separately from what I publish.
I love my job. I love who I work with and possessing a high-level of respect and joy in the industry.
Unfortunately, the community is riff with privileged people who act in the most antagonistic way when their privilege is called out. The self-loathing women who pursue with passion to be “the one that gets” as they remark with great disdain how feminists are at fault for not taking responsibility for their own assaults with the support of only white men who continue to say without any self-awareness that “they fear for their jobs” if they speak up for men’s rights.
This happened: a woman was assaulted. She blogged about it because the man who did was an invited speaker to a conference. The people who witnessed and even stepped in knowing that it was wrong believe he should be forgiven and allowed to speak at conferences.
Her supporters are being attacked throughout Twitter for “ruining the man’s life”.
Just like the Adria Richards’ incident, the response is dramatically out of proportion. The fact there are so many people who believe that a violent criminal’s rights precede the safety of the community is disturbing.
In a couple of months, I’ll be going to an event to encourage more young women to take on STEM careers. Sadly, I feel like we should include self-defense training and complimentary bottles of pepper spray, because until we can really do something about it, rape-culture and tech-culture is synonymous.
If you want to learn more, click on that link and read the accounts at the bottom. If you have tech skills, go ahead and add your name to the list.
If you have Twitter, the co-signers of the petition are all being attacked by MRAs and in very violent and antagonistic threats.
The last comment on Justine’s post? Joe (her assaulter) for president!
There’s a myth that when someone says something racist or sexist that it’s offensive; it’s not. Those words are just violent and aggressive so it hurts—deeply. People who choose to aggressively attack attempts to right and remove pain from the world, by that choice are violent and self-centered. Empathy is something I would prefer they had, and wish existed in abundance.
The importance of safety for women within the tech community is pressing. So much of our ability to communicate what happens like rape, violence, oppression, discrimination, systematic problems like racism or homophobia; so much of the success of those stories being shared is dependent on the tech community.
When are stories are erased and silenced, it’s because there are privileged white, hetero, men behind these technologies. Working to make the tech community safer for women is making it possible for us to continue our work to be a better community for women and men.
I’ll be adding my name to the pledge and why I’m no Ruby, Python, or deep developer, what goes on in the tech community affects me deeply as a digital designer.
As a sponsored-article, it’s clear they want to engage the reader in why their services would be valuable, and hopefully in an educational way. In various industries, companies provide whitepaper research offering up findings to further and improve their industries. I don’t have a beef with sponsored-articles or private research.
Clearly, they have trouble getting great reviews from within the industry. Wordpress, Tumblr, Google Sites, and a plethora of other free sitehosts that can double-time as content management systems (CMSes), have no problem accumulating users without having to pay for sponsored-articles. While it’s normal for people to pay for advertising and often a business necessity, it’s a red flag when it has to be thinly-veiled as a third-party review.
The reviews online are pretty bad. With 2.6 million users (their words, not mine), I couldn’t find many positive reviews that sounded genuine. The negative reviews echo the negatives people often have with freemium services: lagging or non-existent customer service, poor quality, shoddy consistency, etc.
They’re freemium. You get what you pay for, and websites aren’t any different. Not only are they an ad for your company, but often they’re a transactional hub and a heavy representation of your company. A website that looks and works badly makes your company look bad. As Webstarts pointed out, it’ll cost your business immeasurably. If web strategy isn’t your strength, hire someone who is good at it. Plumbing isn’t my strength, so I don’t mess with my toilet. A lot goes into a successful website, and there’s plenty of reading material that supports this idea. Freemium is a euphemism for shortcutting the methods, strategy, and actions that go into a good website.
They’re open to lying. Their article is riff with lies, actual and by omission. They fail to mention that a person can pause their Google Ad Campaign (thus stifling the 5-figure loss in ads), they imply that web security is the designer’s responsibility instead of yours, and omit the important detail of working with a designer who is legally liable for their failings (as a registered business or by contact). Their Twitter account is riff with the tell-tale fake accounts following them.
I would strongly encourage anyone who needs a good website to spend the time researching what goes into it from reputable sources (Mashable, Technorati, WebTuts, A List Apart, etc.) or hire someone who is proven to be good at what they do.
Google search web designer, developer, or web agency and there’s sure to be someone local. Ask for client references. The easiest thing to research for getting your website up is the current quality of a designer, developer, or agency’s craftsmanship because you can view it from your own computer.
No designer, developer, or agency involved in web is unheard of online. Between Twitter, Facebook, and independent consumer review sites, you should be wary of anyone without a positive presence. Webstarts clearly lacks a standing in the community.
I’m not advocating that you always hire someone, but I’m urging anyone who wants a great website to avoid Webstarts.
PS. Can you really trust a company that paid for a sponsored-article without spellcheck or proofreading for grammatical errors? That’s just weird.
“This is about bravery, it’s not about learning how to use Linux. The courage, the moral and ethical components of it, are far more important than the technology. An extremely moral person would have trouble just following orders. In the long tail of history just following orders is wrong. That’s the key thing that really matters.”—Jacob Appelbaum, developer for The Tor Project, with an explanation on "Why Nerds Become Leakers"