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A Path to Retirement, For Those Far From It


I’m in my 20s and I’ve been really into saving for retirement since I was 18 when I opened up my own individual retirement account (IRA). This morning I read a New York Times article on saving 15% of your gross income just for retirement, then splitting it 33/33/33 percent into these accounts:

  • A US total stock market index fund
  • A international total stock market index fund
  • A US total bond market index fund

In If You Can: How Millennials Can Get Rich Slowly, it recommends doing it on your own. After using MarketRiders (try it and get $25!), I have a gist of what I should do (and what I’ve been doing for the last year) and I wholeheartedly think this is the best idea.

Since I use Fidelity, I use the FREE ETFs (exchange trade funds) that costs nothing to buy or sell (most costs $7.95 per trade at Fidelity). ETFs basically act as mutual funds but costs 0.10-0.30% vs 1-3% (so you keep more money! Woot). It’s a collection of companies in one ‘fund’ which is a great way to diversify. Often you don’t want to own just one company stock just in case it tanks.

Ok, so let’s say you really want to make this happen. Hypothetically, let’s say you have $3000 to invest. That means we will put $1000 into each major category. Here’s how I would break it down using the ETFs I recommend below.

  • A US total stock market index fund

US Stock ETF

I like the S&P 500 ETFs growth (IVW), blend (IVV), and value (IVE) because it follows the S&P 500, which on average over long term, it pulls in 10%. That means if you invested $5000, by the end of the year you’ll get back $500. That’s pretty good to me!

I also like the S&P small cap 600 growth (IJT) because it’s nice to invest in smaller companies. While there’s more ‘risk’ to it, it has a higher potential to bring more back to you.

Using a total of $1000 (as of 5/5/2014*; round up or down as you see fit):
IVW: $250. 1 stock = 100.15* so buy 2 stocks. ($250/$100.15 = 2.5)
IVV: $250. 1 stock = 189.21* so buy 1 stock. ($250/$189.21 = 1.3)
IVE: $250. 1 stock = 87.51* so buy 3 stocks. ($250/$87.51 = 2.9)
IJT: $250. 1 stock = 114.54* so buy 2 stocks ($250/$114.54 = 2.2)


  • A international total stock market index fund

International Stock ETF

I bought ACWI, but it’s hard to go wrong with one of the * ones which is a Core ETFs such as emerging markets (IEMG) or total international stock (IXUS).

Using a total of $1000 (as of 5/5/2014):
ACWI: $1000. 1 stock = 58.65 so buy 17 stocks. ($1000/$58.65 = 17)

  • A US total bond market index fund


I recommend the Core Total US Bond Market (AGG) and High Yield Corporate Bond (HYG).

Using a total of $1000 (as of 5/5/2014*):
AGG: $500. 1 stock = 108.58* so buy 5 stocks. ($500/$108.58 =4.6)
HYG: $500. 1 stock = 94.00* so buy 5 stock. ($500/$94 = 5.3)

Just keep in mind that as stocks go up, bonds go down and vice versa. Don’t worry about the daily emotions of a stock — think long term. It’s a good idea to look at the profiles of the ETFs or any stock you’re interested in. What is the return? What are the rankings? What companies are they invested in? Do you agree with those selections (ethical investing can come later)?

By the end of the day, your hypothetical $3000 portfolio looks like this:
IVW: $250. 1 stock = 100.15* so buy 2 stocks. ($250/$100.15 = 2.5)
IVV: $250. 1 stock = 189.21* so buy 1 stock. ($250/$189.21 = 1.3)
IVE: $250. 1 stock = 87.51* so buy 3 stocks. ($250/$87.51 = 2.9)
IJT: $250. 1 stock = 114.54* so buy 2 stocks ($250/$114.54 = 2.2)
ACWI: $1000. 1 stock = 58.65 so buy 17 stocks. ($1000/$58.65 = 17)
AGG: $500. 1 stock = 108.58* so buy 5 stocks. ($500/$108.58 =4.6)
HYG: $500. 1 stock = 94.00* so buy 5 stock. ($500/$94 = 5.3)

I hoped that helped.

If doing it on your own is a little scary, the New York Times published an article called Financial Advice for People Who Aren’t Rich comparing other Inexpensive Advice for Index-Fund Investments such as Betterment, WealthFront and more.

assetbuilder, betterment, folio investing, future advisor, hedge able, jemstep portfolio manager, market riders

assetbuilder, betterment, folio investing, future advisor, hedge able, jemstep portfolio manager, market riders

rebalance IRA, SigFig, Target-Date Mutual Funds, Vanguard, Wealthfront, WiseBanyan

rebalance IRA, SigFig, Target-Date Mutual Funds, Vanguard, Wealthfront, WiseBanyan


Let me know how it goes!

Is NYU Nursing worth it? How I paid off my student loan

Hi my lovely readers,

I’ve thought a lot about my impact on you, directly or indirectly. For me, one of my everyday joys is to view my blog stats and watch it grow every week. It’s the thing that cheers me up when I feel down, knowing that I’ve helped another soul gain insight into something that they didn’t know before. So thank you for reading my blog.

One of the most common questions I get through email is the following:

Is NYU Nursing worth it?

I think that by the time that you ask this question, you’ve already decided that a nursing career is for you. Now you’re deciding on which school to attend. Of course, with NYU as a top ranking school, you want to know if the tuition is worth it. Right now for the school year 2013-14, here is the tuition cost:

NYU Nursing Tuition

It’s about $21k for tuition. Plus fees and health insurance, it’ll cost about $24k per semester. As for a scholarship, I’ve heard they typically give students about $3-4k in “College of Nursing Scholarship” (that’s what I got). Let’s just say you have to pay about $20k for 4 semesters.

That’s about $80k, or approximately your first year’s salary as a nurse.

What?! Really? Yes, it’s really that great. According to Forbes, NYU Nursing graduates ranked #3 for the College Diplomas with the highest salaries in 2013.

NYU Nursing BSN Salary

It’s quite possible that this is because many students stay in NYC area and the average starting salary as a brand new nurse is about $75k. Or graduates go back home to California and hot spots command an even higher salary (with a mandated lower patient-to-nurse ratio. That means less patients per nurse = more time with patients and less time running around making sure everyone’s safe. Because safety is always #1. That’s AMAZING!!).

This is even more than any business school. Only one engineering school and one computer science school beats NYU Nursing.

Just remember, sometimes it’s more about the LOCATION of the school rather than just the name. In NYC, private top hospitals command a higher salary compared to other locations.

Also remember that nurses run the hospitals. And yes, doctors go in and out, deciding on treatment plans, performing surgeries, etc. But a lot of time, nursing input is CRUCIAL and nurses are there 24/7 with the patients. So yes, while nurses do some ‘dirty work’, they are the ones performing much of the care. I remember during a code, a PA said that he knows WHAT to DO, but he needs to the nurse to DO it because he doesn’t know HOW. So I’m proud of that. And a lot of times nurses know what to do too… it’s just not ‘official’ until you have an order (that you may have suggested).

And as a nurse, from any school, you will be a vital part of the health care team.

But it still comes down to this. After you graduate from ANY nursing school, you will still have to pass the NCLEX and you will be a registered nurse.

A RN. And a RN is a RN.

On your badge, it’ll say that you are a RN. It doesn’t say which school. The only way for someone to know which school you went to is if you tell them. And yes, as a new nurse, a lot of people will ask you. Over and over again. And yes, patients will notice that you, as a new nurse, are just not as fast, or do things with grace, or seemed to be always crunched for time. But don’t worry. They will still appreciate what you do and you just keep going.

As for a pay differential, hospitals don’t look at which school you went to (or maybe they do unknowingly as do many companies, since they typically have feeder schools too). Hospitals nowadays do not hire new associate degree nurses. This happened because of many study that compared associate and bachelor of nursing graduates (ASN vs BSN) perform. It showed that patients were safer and had a lower mortality rate when taken care by BSN graduates. Anyway, there’s usually a BSN pay differential at hospitals because they want to ‘encourage’ those who were already hired as a ASN to get their BSN.

If you’re questioning if you should get a ASN or BSN, always go for the BSN, especially as a second degree student. You’d be in school for the same amount of time anyway and a BSN is standard now. Don’t waste your money and time on a ASN. I heard that most ASN are hired mostly by nursing homes now. And maybe that is the route you want to go but I say if you want to keep your nursing career options wide open, go for the BSN. Don’t limit yourself.

So let’s get back to the question:

Is NYU Nursing worth it?

There are two typical paths people take while going down the road of nursing.

If you wish to be a bedside nurse forever (and trust me, a lot of my colleagues have been. And they love what they do and they are amazing people!!!), then I think getting a BSN anywhere is ok.


If you wish to keep your options open, and you have that flaming desire to do more than bedside nursing such as management, informatics, research, global work, etc, then I think NYU Nursing is worth it.

Maybe it’s the characteristics of the students who go there have similar taste as you. Because they want the same things too. The same drive and ambition. The chances you take to learn something new and to overcome challenges. To not give up when it gets tough and to push forward. To help other coworkers and patients who aren’t assigned to you. To still have a smile on your face and still want more.

Maybe it’s the extra-edge of a ‘brand name’ school that gives you –or your future employer– the confidence. You’ll know you received a top level education and it doesn’t get much better than this (although as a student you’ll still think of ways to improve it because you can’t help it). You’ll know that whatever you don’t know, you’ll pick it up fast anyway and be able to perform at a top level.

Your future employer will know this school and not question its validity. Maybe not initially but down the road it becomes more significant. As you may or may not know, many of the top hospitals in NYC have Chief Nursing Officers (CNO) who are NYU Nursing graduates. Know that with pride.

Honestly though, you can still have all these desires to go on a winding nursing career and not go to NYU Nursing. It’s still an individual who decides her own path.

Here’s the second question:

How did I pay for my student loan?

Personally, I hate owing money. Especially at an interest rate of 6.8%. As soon as I started making money, I put everything I could into paying off my loan. Yes, you could pay the minimum payments for 10 years but I can’t do that.

For me, I had parents who were able to help me financially and I thank them for that.

I owed about $20k in student loans. After taxes, I received about $4k/month. Less than half went toward rent, transportation, and food. The other ‘more than half’ went to paying off the student loan as quickly as possible. In 6 months from December 2012 to May 2013, I paid out $15k, or about $2.5k per month.

In May 2013, I received a credit card offer for a balance transfer. Normally I ignored these but this one was offered at 1% fee. That meant instead of paying 6.8%, I could pay only 1% to borrow the money as long as I paid it off by the deadline of March 2014 (and also not use that credit card for regular purchases so credit card companies can’t confuse you with the different APR for balance transfer vs purchases).

I wrote the check to myself and cashed it at an ATM. I saw $5000 in my checking account. On the credit card, they deducted $5000 plus the 1% fee of $50. I paid off the rest of the student loan with that $5000 and that account was closed in May 2013. Then I spent the next 8 months from June 2013-February 2014 slowly paying it off about $650/month.

The good thing about this balance transfer is that I only had to pay $50 to borrow $5000. If I had left that amount in the student loan, then I would’ve had to pay $5000 * 6.8% = $340 to borrow that same amount.


Anyway, I hope this helped you. Please let me know if it did and if you have any additional questions, comment below or send me an email. Thanks.

And go team! 🙂