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Finances Job hunting Technology

Why the career change?

I recently posted on LinkedIn that I had been in software testing for 8-9 years and was thinking of a career change. Maybe financial advice could be an interesting path?

Now this isn’t me starting a career change just yet, but I’m looking into the process.

Where can I go in my current role?

I see atleast two ways foward if I remain on the software tester path. Either focus on technical mobile automation skills; becoming a principal software engineer in test so to say or try to move towards leadership. I’m not super keen for any of these paths. I could move into consulting but I feel like there’s a lot of competition in this space already. Software testing is a hard sell.

I’d like to run my own business

I’ve always felt like a bit of a misfit culturally speaking to some degree in most of my roles. My behaviour and values haven’t always aligned in a corporate sense. I’ve always had a desire to create my own culture, it’s hard to not fit in when it’s your own doing.

Growing up poor

My family background has influenced me towards wanting to run my own business. My dad use to work in a sawmill earning minimum wage, after a sawmill accident and a workers compensation payout he started his own business doing garden and home maintenance. He’s an aussie success story. I’ve felt like working for yourself can give you more success and satisfation with your career.

Why the finance direction?

Eventually I’d like to build out digital focused experiences to help people navigate things like pensions. Many of the products on the market aren’t easy to navigate. However building up a base of clients in the mean time could be a way to get there and earn a living. I’ve recently started blogging more about finance too.

What about other paths?

I’ve considered data science as a path, I’ve applied for an internal data analyst role with my current company because I’ve recently enjoyed building out a mobile app analytics dashboard for my team. I’m going to keep my eyes open to trying new things within my current situation before completely jumping ship.

Marketing and sales has been great fun to learn about, a masters in business administration could be interesting. I had considered applying for technical Sales Engineers roles if my current job had fallen through.

I do have an app I’m trying to build and I’d like to use it to help teach people better ways of doing software and quality. I could focus on creating workshops and consulting around it more too. However education and training is also a hard sell.

This is all still 2-3 years off

I currently have some credit card debt left to pay off and I’m opting for a stable job that I know how to do in the meantime until my debts are paid off. A diploma in financial advice will take 2 years part time to complete and I haven’t event started it yet. I might look into starting it next year if it’s still an appealing option by then.

This is not my first career change

I worked in supermarkets for 7 years during highschool and university. Mostly in the deli area but I did the occaisional check out chic role too. If money wasn’t a driving factor I would still be working in a supermarket; I was hardly bored, enjoyed serving customers and felt more engaged compared to most of my tech roles.

I got into tech because I wanted something that was a bit more related to my degree compared to the supermarket work. A part time testing gig during uni was the first tech role I got. I’ve generally stuck with software testing since.

Have you ever made a career change?

What was your thought process? Did you go for education first or did you jump straight into a new role? How did you decide the new career path was something you wanted to try?

Wait but why has this awesome blog post on finding a career that fits you.

Categories
Finances

Retirement Funds from around the World

Here’s some super fun facts about retirement funds from around the world for you [Yes, that super pun was intended 😉]

On average, Australia has $72,823 saved per person for retirement in our superannuation plan. This is the largest private pension per person in the world.

This is from a wikipedia article here (which probably isn’t a complete picture because another wikipedia article says we are the 4th largest holder of pension fund assets in the world.)

Here is a table breaking down the average funds per person based on country and population (roughly sorted by funds under management):

CountryAssets US$
(in billions)
Population
( in millions)
Average funds
per person
 United States5662331 $17,105.74
 Australia185725.5 $72,823.53
 Norway10465.42 $192,988.93
 Japan1103126 $8,753.97
 Canada79237.7 $21,007.96
 South Korea46251.3 $9,005.85
 Netherlands38817.1 $22,690.06
 China2511439 $174.43
 Singapore2085.85 $35,555.56
 Malaysia18532.4 $5,709.88
 Netherlands18317.1 $10,701.75
 Chile16019.1 $8,376.96
 India1281380 $92.75
 France12665.3 $1,929.56
 Russia125146 $856.16
 Denmark1195.79 $20,552.68
 South Africa11259.3 $1,888.70
 Brazil80212.6 $376.29
 Ireland304.94 $6,072.87

Wow, look at Norway

Norway has the most saved per person, but their fund is publicly owned and was formed when Norway made lots of money in oil and is now invested in ethically run companies. Individuals don’t contribute to it and the government can only access 3% of the funds each year. You can watch this youtube video to find out why Norway is so rich.

A few other countries of note

The US has the most funds under management, but due to wealth distribution the average per person is lower. Pensions in the UK seems to be a confusing affair and it’s up to the employer to set up a pension plan and to make contributions on your behalf. 

Singapore once had employer contributions set as high as 25% before their recession in the 80’s.

In New Zealand, the pension is called superannuation. It’s a lot simpler than our system and isn’t means tested. Here is an interesting article comparing them.

Why is Australia so wealthy?

The main reason why we have so much saved is because of the compulsory employer contributions; which is currently 9.5% on top of your salary goes towards retirement savings. This was established in the 90’s by the Keating government at the time. Here is a youtube video of Keating ranting about super.

The average working Australian

I’ve told my brother, who’s 22 and works in a supermarket as a fruit and veg manager, that he’ll likely have 400k in super when he retires, even if he does nothing with it. You can use money smarts super calculator to play around with some numbers.

The average supermarket employee makes around 50k a year (plus or minus around 5k). 400k in savings feels like an insane amount of potential wealth for someone in my family (a previously low socio economic but still very bogan family, we are now upper middle bogans 😉)

Categories
Agile Design Finances Mobile Testing Software Testing Technology

Metrics and Quality

The superannuation and investment mobile app I’ve been working on over the last year has finally been released. It’s been on the app store for just over a month now* and this blog is about how we are using metrics to help keep tabs on the quality of our app.

*You can download the app via google play or the apple app store, you can also create an account here.

Average app store rating

The average app store rating is one useful metric to keep track of. We are aiming to keep it above 4 stars and we are also monitoring the feedback raised for future feature enhancement ideas. I did an analysis of the average app store reviews of other superannuation apps here to get a baseline of what the industry average is. If we are better than the industry average, we have a good app.

Analytics in mobile apps

We are using Adobe Analytics for tracking page views and interactions for our web and mobile app. On previous mobile app teams I’ve used mParticle and mixpanel. The framework here doesn’t matter, I’ve found adobe workspace to be a great tool for insights, once you know how to use it. Also Adobe has tons of online web tutorials for building out your own dashboards.

App versions over time

Here’s our app usage over time broken down by app version:

We have version 1.1 on the app store and released 1.0 nearly 2 months ago. We did an internal beta release with version 0.5.0. If anyone on the old versions tries to log in they’ll see a forced update view.

Crash Rates

Crashes are a fact of life with any mobile app team, there are so many different variables that go into app crashes. However keeping track of them and aiming for low rates is a good thing to measure.

With version 1.1 we improved our crash rates on android from 2.77% to 0.11%. You can use a UI exerciser that is called monkey from the command line in your android emulator to try and find more crashes too. With the following command I can send a 1000 random UI events to the emulator:

adb shell monkey -p {mobile_app_package_name} -v 1000

Crashes in App Centre

We can dive a bit deeper into crashes in app centre (a Microsoft based platform that integrates with our team city continuous integration pipeline for managing all of our test builds).

When exploring stack traces you want to look for lines that reference your app (instead of getting lost in all of the framework code), look for lines that start with your apps package name.

App Centre gives reports based on device and operating system break down:

With analytics set up, you can even dig into an individual report and get the page views that happened before that crash occurred.

What’s a good crash rate?

That depends on the context of your app, ideally zero is the best but perfect software is a myth we keep trying to obtain. As long as it’s trending downwards you are making progress towards improving it. Here’s a good follow up blog post if you are interested in reading more.

Error Tracking

I can also keep on eye on how many error messages are seen. The spike in the android app error messages was me throwing the chaos monkey at out production build for a bit. However when there is both a spike in android and iOS, I know I can ask, “was there something wrong with our backend that day?”

Test Vs Prod – page views

If every page has one event being tracked, we can compare our upcoming release candidate against production; say we see that 75 page views were triggered on the test build and we compare this to the 100 page views we can see in production. We can then say we’ve tested 75% of the app and haven’t seen any issues so far.

This is great for measuring the effectiveness of bug bashes/exploratory testing sessions. If you want an answer to, “how much testing did you/the team do?”.

Hang on, why 75%?

There’s no need to aim for 100% coverage, our unit tests do cover every screen but because they run on the internal CI network those events are never sent to adobe. We have over 500 unit/UI tests on both android and iOS (not that number of tests is a good metric, it’s an awful one by the way).

But if you’ve tested the main flows through your app and that’s gotten you 50% or 75% coverage you are now approaching diminishing returns. What’s the chances in finding a new bug? Or a new bug that someone cares about?

You could spend that extra hour or two getting to 90-95% but you could also be doing more useful stuff with your time. You should read my risk based framework if you are interested in finding out more.

Measuring Usability

If you are working on a new feature or flow of your app, you can measure how many people actually complete the task. E.g. first time log in, how many people actually log in successfully? How many people lock their accounts? If you are trying to improve this process you can track to see if the rates improve or decline.

You could also measure satisfaction after a task is completed and ask for feedback, a quick out of 5 score along the lines of, “did this help you? was it easy to achieve?”. You can put a feedback section somewhere in your app.

The tip of the iceberg

These metrics and insights I’ve shared with you are just a small subset of everything we are tracking. And is a small part of our overall test strategy. Adobe has been useful for digging down into mobile device’s and operating systems breakdowns too. There’s many ways you can cut the data to provide useful information.

What metrics have you found useful for your team and getting a gauge on quality? What metrics didn’t work as well as you had hoped?

This is not financial advice and the views expressed in this blog are my own. They are not reflective of my employers views

Categories
Finances

Investing in stocks during a crisis

This is not financial advice, this a story about my adventures in learning about investments and stock markets.

So when I got my tax return last year, I decided to learn how the stock market worked by investing $1000 in shares.

note; this is generally considered a bad thing for me to do financially because I have some credit card debt that I’m paying off and I should put spare money towards that first. You can read more about my debt here.

However, I wanted to learn so I thought it was worth putting aside the money into stocks instead of paying off debts. I Bought $500 worth of Westpac shares (they’re share price had just dropped because of the money laundering scandal) and $500 worth of prospa shares because they had just had a drop after a market re-evaluation. I had bought them around $25.25 and 2.25 per share respectively.

Screenshot 10th of January 2020

I also purchased a few ETF’s via Commsec Pocket (around $250 worth). I’m using both CommSec and CommSec Pocket which have a minimum investment of $500 and $50 respectively to learn about investments and stock markets.

Then came the market crash

All of a sudden, those shares I had bought dropped by nearly 40% in value. Instead of selling out, I bought more shares. I found out that a market crash is often called a bear market. Bear markets can often happen before a recession.

This video offers a good explainer of how investing during a bear market can help even out losses:

I had wanted to buy some Tyro shares (I previously had worked for Tyro and they had a recent successful ASX launch). I bought $500 worth of Tyro shares at a price of $2.7 a share around the 13th of March.

Screenshot 13th of March 2020

However, the market still had more crashing to do. The Tyro share price bottomed out at 0.97 a share on the 19th of March. If only I had waited a few more days. I could have bought a two to three times more shares for my $500 worth. Oh well. In times of high volatility it’s really hard to know what’s going to happen.

Well shit, this now felt like pissing $ against the wall. I had lost 50% in value and this felt terrible. Even my ETF’s had lost 20%.

Screenshot 18th of March 2020

Buying MORE shares

After the dust had settled a little. I bought $500 worth of CBA shares (I work for commbank) and my mum gave my an extra $500 for some CBA shares too (we paid roughly $60 per share). And they had increased quite quickly after that point.

Oh gees, look at those losses on those Prospa shares, -$400 yikes…

Screenshot 31st of March 2020

Evening out losses

I noticed the Prospa share price had fallen down to about 0.50 cents per share, I had just gotten paid and I decided to even out my losses. I increased my 230 shares to 1000 shares.

I reason I might as well buy a few more Prospa shares while they are cheap, I reckon that eventually small businesses will need loans again soon.

I had also purchased a few more EFT’s. I had now invested nearly $670 in EFT’s.

Screenshot 11th of April 2020

This was a few days before the government had announced a stimulus package to help companies like Prospa lend more money to small businesses. Prospa shares skyrocketed to $1.05 per share. All of a sudden, my biggest loss was holding up my entire portfolio and my portfolio now actually had a positive value of 2.2% .

Woohoo. That’s the first time I’ve seen green on my portfolio in a long time.

Screenshot 15h of April 2020

There’s been a few ups and downs

My portfolio has still gone a bit up and down since then. Today I’m still at a loss of 5.58%, Those PGL shares are still at a small loss but it’s no where near that -$400 value. Those westpac shares are now my biggest loss. I might even them out in a few weeks but I’m no rush to do so.

But oh boy, have I learnt a thing or two about stock markets since I started investing 6 months ago. I think it was money well invested based on that outcome alone.

Screenshot 30th of April 2020

Have you had any hard financial lessons learned from this crisis? You might also enjoy reading this blog post on how the coronavirus has impacted my superannuation.

The views expressed in this blog post are mine alone and do not reflect my employers views.

Categories
Finances

Superannuation Mobile Apps Analyst

I’ve created a few superannuation accounts to compare many of the mobile app experiences out there. It seems that many super providers are joining the digital revolution and publishing apps. But are these apps any good? it would seem the average rating on the app stores leaves a bit to be desired.

Average App store Ratings

Superannuation Ease of Signup
(out of 5)
Android
no. of Downloads
Android
no. of Reviews
Android
Average Rating
iOS
no. of Reviews
iOS
Average Rating
Rest5100k+8704.1 5.68K4.6
First State
510K+
923.71163.8
AMP450k+4633.41412.7
AusSuper3100K+8813.42413.2
Spaceship5100K+7624.02.07K4.5
SunSuper5100K+2073.41862.5
Grow Super45K+423.3153.9
CareSuper45K+621.5481.5
Hesta410K+1601.51331.4
ANZ2



Colonial First State3



ANZ isn’t really a superannuation app, but you can check your super balance in their banking app.

Rest is currently the most reviewed super app on the market (they are number #4 in Apple’s best finance app category):

However, their app UI feels a bit dated, the animations aren’t smooth and one of the main complaints on the app store is the biometric/pin login stops working (which is something I’ve experienced).

Best Onboarding Experience

My best on-boarding experience has been; 5 minute online account creation with the ability to log in immediately. It was then very easy to find “how to make a BPAY contribution”, and I was able to see a $5 account creation contribution in the account on the next business day. Rest, First State and Sunsuper all had this type of experience.

I also really like First State’s Marketing. Here’s their farewell email when I closed my account:

Conclusion

Most people are complaining about log in issues; either biometrics/logins stop working or new phones/updates break something.

You can also do this type of analyst if you want to compare similar features across competitors. For example, what apps give you a balance over time? Biometric log in? View Statements? Or adjust investment options in app? I will do this analyst myself in a follow up blog post.

Other notes

This is not financial advice, I like to use Canstar to compare super products and they have this handy filter based on smart phone app feature too:

Also Canstar has this handy list of independent financial advisors if you do feel like chatting to an expert. SuperGuide is another cool platform for learning more about super.

If you’d like to read more about my own super, I have this blog on how the coronavirus has impacted my super.

Disclaimer; I work on the Colonial First State mobile app team as a software tester, hence my fascination with super and mobile apps. This blog is my views only and NOT reflected by my employer

Categories
Finances

Coronavirus and superannuation

This is not financial advice, this blog is a reflection on how unit prices and stock markets impact superannuation (Australian retirement funds), all prices listed are in AUD.

At the end of last week I rolled over my superannuation from Verve to Sunsuper because I wanted more flexibility over my investment allocations. Verve had 1 balanced investment option and Sunsuper has a few more to choose from. My super money was “in transit” for 3 days while the markets crashed around the world. My back of the envelope calculations show my super balance to be $2300 better off and this blog I’m going to walk through that maths with you.

Closing Balance

When I rolled over from Verve my super balance was around $57K. It was at $60K a few weeks ago before the market started to take a nose dive. Verve calculated my closing balance as of Friday the 6th of March. Sunsuper processed my rollover transaction on Wednesday the 11th of March. My super balance is now valued at $55K as of Thursday the 12th of March.

Unit prices

Each investment option in superannuation generally uses a unit price to track investment growth. If the current unit price is $2 and I invest $100, I have just bought 50 units (100 / 2). If the market improves and that unit price increase to $2.20 my investment is now worth $110 (50 * 2.2) and my investment has grown 10 percent (((2.20 – 2) / 2) * 100). Unit prices are usually calculated at the end of every business day and are reflected on your super balance 1-2 business days after stock markets change.

Two Investment Options

I have my investment with Sunsuper split over 2 investment options, 80% growth and 20% socially conscious balanced. I have ~13,800 units in growth and ~3,800 units in balanced.

Unit Prices over time

The growth unit prices have gone from 3.4963 on Friday to 3.20653 on Wednesday. A downturn of 8.3%.

The balanced unit prices have gone from 3.15565 on Friday to 2.91942 on Wednesday. A downturn of 7.5%.

My super is now $2.3K better off

If I had invested $57K on the Friday instead of the Wednesday I would have bought ~13,200 Growth Units and ~3,700 Balanced Units respectively. By Thursday the 12th of March that would have come out to a balance of $53K (1*). That’s a difference of $2,300 compared to my actual balance (2*).

1* ((13196.2864 * 3.20653) + (3655.20384 * 2.91942))

2* (55341.77 – 52985.36)

Caveats- market downturns aren’t bad

There’s nothing inherently bad with markets taking a downturn, this is what markets do. Expecting the economy to always grow infinitely isn’t exactly what happens. Also this money doesn’t mean anything until it’s used/exchanged. Right now all of these stock prices and values are ones and zeros in a computer somewhere.

I have a test account with Colonial First State that I use for checking our software in production. I have this one asset allocation that achieve nearly 6% returns since it’s inception and that includes the global financial crisis of 2008:

* I work for Colonial First State

Super is a long term investment

I’m not concerned with this market down turn. I consider my retirement fund to be imaginary until I actually get to use it. And who knows what will happen between now and then? This has been as fun exercise in understanding unit prices. If you’d like to read more about my financial situation, I have this blog post on turning 30.

How has the Coronavirus outbreak impacted your investments?

Categories
Finances mental health Sustainability Weight Loss

2020 goal setting

2019. What a year it’s been. There’s been a few ups and downs and I didn’t achieve as much as I had set out to when I did my last bout of goal setting. I didn’t write a book or release an app. I did however get a part time job with YOW! Conference, settle into a fufilling role (even though there was drama there), and spoke at 3 conferences.

One thing I realise, is I’m always trying to do too much. The theme for next years Mardi Gras is what matters. So, what matters to me? In terms of my personal well being I tend to view it accross 5 elements:

Health

Being healthy is the foundation to all elements of my well being. If I’m not looking after myself here, how can I grow in any other part of my well being? For me, this is physical health, mental health and sexual health.

Physical Health

The biggest thing I need to focus on for next year is beating the overweight category. I’ve beaten the obesity label once before but I’ve slipped back a little and I need to get on top of this. For my height, I need to be less than 65kg to beat the over weight label.

Mental Health

Next year will see me go through Schema Therapy. Here’s hoping it helps me correct an unhealthy mindset I have about myself.

Sexual Health

I’ve always been reluctant to put sexual content on my blog, hoping to keep it professional. However I’d be lying to myself if I didn’t acknowledge it wasn’t an important part of my well being. I’m getting back into the kink scene by attending a few munches. This also helps build up a sense of community. The kink community was the first community I turned to when I first moved to Sydney 6 years ago.

Community

This is one of my personal values too. This also covers family. Nearly everything I do is driven by some sense of community. Next year I’ll be focusing on more board games, the kink community and professional networking. My biggest goal here will be focusing on building and engaging an online community through twitch and podcasting.

Career

I still want to release that app and write a book, however these goals are a bit further down the priority list and I don’t mind if I don’t achieve the book next year. The app is going to help me grow as a software engineer and is more important for growing my side business.

Financial

I’m making progress here. I aim to pay off half my credit card debt by the end of the year. I’ll continue to chip away at it at least.

Spiritual

I’ve tried giving myself spirtual goals before (say establish a daily meditation habit), but that’s always felt more of a mental health thing. I think next year I’m going to explore pagan/magic/druidary by practicing atleast 4 ceremonies that align with each 3 month interval of the year. I read a book yesterday on Australian Druidary and it’s inspired me to try it next year.

Summary

So in summary; I have 5 goals that touch all 5 elements of my well being:

  1. Beat the overweight label
  2. Release a mobile app
  3. Start a podcast
  4. Pay off half of my credit card debt
  5. Practice 4 magic ceremonies

2020 should be a year of focus and vision (haha, get it?). What matters to you for the next year?

Categories
Finances

Turning 30

I’m turning 30 next week and I’m actually looking forward to it. A lot of people say, “life is all downhill after 21” but I reckon the next decade of my life is going to be pretty awesome.

Age is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s a measure of how many revolutions around the sun you’ve survived on this planet since exploding out of your mother’s womb. And you haven’t died yet. Now that’s worth celebrating.

Reflecting on my 20’s

My 20’s were a tumultuous time of my life. There was uni, going on exchange to Sweden, moving in with a partner, getting kicked out of home, partially failing uni & falling into bout of chronic depression. Scrapping through uni, moving to Sydney and struggling to find a community. Not to mention credit card debt, weight loss surgery and a broken ankle. My 20’s saw me go through 1 bout of chronic depression, 4 bouts of minor depression, 4 relationships, 12 jobs and moving 18 times. That’s a lot of change and disruption.

Finances (All balances in AUD)

My finances aren’t great but at least they are moving in a good direction. In the spirit of being transparent; it’s all here bear for you:

Super balance: 47k

My super (retirement fund) is growing nicely. I’m lucky to have had the one superfund since I was 14 and it’s over twice that compared to the average male’s super my age (reference). I’m with Verve Super, I transitioned from TasPlan Super who I had been with for 15 years. Verve are a super fund run by women for women and only invest in ethically run companies that have some diversity on their boards. They are a new kid on the block and I’d highly recommend checking them out.

Debt

Credit card debt: 30k; I paid for my weigh loss surgery on the credit card and a few other things (like a holiday and moving). I’m not proud of this but I feel like it’s a pretty common thing for people my age to go through. I’ve blogged about my struggles with credit card debt before.

HECS Debt (University fee’s): 39k

Salary

Salary (annual): 120k + super; I’m super proud of myself and how I’ve been able to grow my career & salary. When I started work at 14, I was on $7.42 an hour, that had doubled by the time I was 18. When I moved to Sydney 5.5 years ago, my graduate salary was 55k. I’ve now seen my salary double again since then and I’ve now been a software tester for 7 years. This salary also doesn’t include the extra 10-15k I can make in a year with the part time side business stuff I do, though I’m planning on investing most of this side cash in growing my business.

I currently spend a minimum of $1050 a month on debts (the credit card debt + a motorbike loan), I only have 1 year left before I finish paying off the motorbike.

Rent

$210 per week. I recently moved into my own 2 bedroom apartment in Crows Nest. The total rent is $460 per week and I’ve got a house mate in the big room that I charge $250 per week for. I recently spent a total of 4k furnishing the apartment (mostly second hand furniture) and I’m proud of my interior decorating skills: Here’s the Shared Photo Album if you want to check it out.

Summary

Why would I expect my 30’s to be worse? I don’t plan on changing anything about my existing job, relationship or living arrangements for the foreseeable future.

I’m looking forward to more stability in life, getting on top of my credit card debt, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and having less depression. What isn’t there to look forward to?

Categories
Conferences Craft Beer Finances mental health Technology Weight Loss

Goal setting for 2019

I’m starting my goal setting early. I wrote this blog for goal setting for 2018. On reflection; I haven’t slipped back into obesity at least, which I was super concerned about as I spent the first six months of 2018 recovering from a broken ankle. Here’s my thinking behind my goal setting for 2019 and why I’m starting early.

Brainstorm everything I want to do

As an exercise, I listed everything I want to do and then asked myself, What do I have time to do? What is more important? What aligns the most with my personal values? I’ve had to eliminate a lot of extra curricular ideas and I still feel like I have a lot on my plate 🙁 .

This is a handwritten note of me brainstorming everything I want to do. I have things like learning Australian sign language, Japanese, podcasting, a masters in statistics and live testing as things I'd love to do but don't have the time for.
I don’t have enough time to do all the things I’d like to do

I then came up with the following list of things that are really important to me. They are themed around personal, career, family and financial goals:

  • Beat the overweight label (personal)
  • Maintain a daily meditation practice
  • Write a book (career)
  • Teach my Nan digital marketing (career and family)
  • Launch an app
  • Pay off half of my credit card debt (financial)
  • Speak at one international conference and take my Mum
  • Brew two whole grain beers
  • Keep Sydney Testers going
  • Create enough content to run a 3 day workshop

Why start the goal setting early?

I’m going to focus on developing my morning habit for the rest of this year. I’m going to get up early, meditate and write before heading off to work. If I can do this for the rest of the year, I’ll be in a good place to expand it come 2019. The green in the following table is this minimum commitment:

My ideal morning starts at 5:30, followed by exercise from 6 for up to hour. Next will be a twenty minute meditation from 7 flowwed by half an hour of writing from 7:30. I'll have breakfast at some point and be ready for work from 8:30 AM

I’ve put together an idea of what my ideal morning and ideal week looks like. If I do not put aside time to do things that are important to me, it’ll never get done. I reflected on what I could squeeze in. Unfortunately things like studying Japanese just don’t fit in financially and time wise. So here’s my ideal week to work towards in 2019:

My ideal week taken from a screenshot of a spreadsheet, please excuse the lack of transcribing here as I think the main information here is also covered in my external accountability section

There are some goals that I haven’t put aside any weekly or morning time for but they can’t easily be chipped away with a daily/weekly habit.

Keep goals measurable but hard to achieve

Everyone seems to be talking about Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) for goal setting these days. One of the important things with OKRs is that they are hard to achieve. When you reflect back on your goals you should be able to say you hit up to 80% of your objective. If you hit 100% you actually set your goals to easy. For example, I’m going to work towards beating the overweight label but I’m not going to consider myself a failure if I only get halfway there. By listing up my ideal morning/week it gives me an ideal to work towards but by highlighting my minimum commitments I won’t beat myself up if I have a bad week or two.

External Accountability

There’s no point in setting vague goals that you don’t tell anyone about. To ensure external accountability with my goals I’m going to;

  • Pay for a personal trainer for a twice a week weight lifting session
  • Go climbing with my partner every Wednesday and Saturday
  • Pay for a publisher’s time to help keep me focused on writing

How will you go about goal setting for next year? What measures will you take to ensure accountability? Please let me know.

Categories
Finances Meetup Software Testing

Sydney Testers and Money

We have a Sydney Testers evening with James Bach coming up soon and you might be curious to know why we are charging $5 for it when it seems we have a sponsor for the event (Campaign Monitor). There are actually a few reasons to try this model that I will explain in detail.

Ongoing costs

prices from meetup

Meetup charges US$14.99/month for any big meetup and the organizing committee often foots the bill for this. There were times we were buying name badges and accessories for events. There’s been a few occasions when the organizing committee have footed the bill for food (I paid for the pizza for Michael Bolton’s talk expecting to be able to claim it back later but couldn’t). Sometimes we have sponsorship for food scrape through at the last minute. For example our bug bounty discussion panel at Prospa, Prospa did an awesome job of hosting us but didn’t have the budget for food and drinks. We had Bug Crowd confirm the day before the event that they were able to sponsor food and drinks. It would be nice to have some buffer of money/sponsorship so these moments aren’t as stressful. Our average meetup generally costs our sponsors anywhere from $200 to $500.

Meetup’s view of the money portal

Turn out rates

The meetup average drop out rate is around 50%, plus or minus 10% depending on things like the weather and location of the event. This can have an impact on food budgeting and moral. With a paid event the drop out rate is expected to be around the 20-30%. It makes it easier on organizers who are catering food to organize if the RSVP numbers match up to reality. We also get a better vibe. Imagine expecting to turn up to an event where 100 people RSVP’d and only 40 people turned up. You’d feel a little disappointment with the turn out. As an organizer it would suck your motivation for running future events too.

Lost funds

The previous committee had a paypal account set up and linked to Meetup but when the organizer left, the paypal account left with them and that means any previous funds we had raised (like when Michael Bolton came to Sydney and we charged $10 per person for) we actually never saw that. Which is a sucky situation to come to terms with but it’s the current situation. That’s why we haven’t charged for anything since then because we wanted to try and sort it out. This time we’ve just started from scratch with a write off for the previous balance.

Paypal setup

Paypal takes a 4.4% cut out of every transaction so for every $5 ticket sold we get $4.57. Currently I re-jigged an old business account I had set up for my tutoring services. The account has been shared with the committee so if one person leaves existing members still have access. You might see Sam’s Tutoring on your receipts until we update the details.

please don't be concerned if you see my details on the receipt
Example PayPal receipt

Free events

We will continue to run free events that benefit members, if you want to help organize any or have ideas for events that you’d like to attend hit us up. We are always open for ideas. The CV clinics we’ve been running this month came about from discussions in the pub. So please, suggest your ideas, we’d also appreciate if you helped with an event or two.

Any profits will be donated to charities

For James Bach event, Campaign Monitor has selected the drought appeal where profits will be contributed. You don’t need to worry about me profiteering from this event.

Investing in your education

Isn’t it worth spending a few dollars to support the community, your education and the drought appeal? These are just our first steps towards managing this meetup just a little better. We are always open to suggestions.