I turn 50 this year (!) and with aging comes certain benefits. In July, I’ll be eligible for AARP membership. You laugh, but Denny’s gives a 15% discount for AARP members. Check out this resource for dozens of businesses that give these types of discounts for 50-year-olds.
Even more of a benefit to hitting a half century, perhaps, is the change in maximum 401k contribution allowed, from $19,500 to $26,000 per year. You don’t have to wait for your birthday, so I sent a message to my HR person in January to bump my contribution to the new max.
I know $26,000 is more than some people’s entire annual pay, but with careful budgeting and discipline, we can swing it. I didn’t save enough early in my career, so the extra dollars now are a blessing. And it’s hard to pass up a 25% employer match, up to 4% of pay.
Vaccine Hunting Is a F/T Job
Since I work for an “essential manufacturer,” I’ve been technically eligible to get a COVID vaccine in Maryland since late January as part of their Phase 1C.
But I don’t feel very essential since I’m working from home practically full time, so I waited until mid-March to hunt for one. That’s when I heard that the state would be moving on to the next phase, and that eligibility expansion would soon cause a new crush of seekers.
It took three days to get an appointment, and then I got two: one in Waldorf, Md., which is forever away, and then one at M&T Bank Stadium (now you’re talking). So then I canceled the Waldorf one. I spent more frustrating hours on this quest than you would imagine.
Why can’t Maryland have a single sign-up list like some other states? Good question. Governor Larry Hogan called a single list a potential “single point of failure,” but I suppose that’s only if they screw it up. Former President Trump pioneered the “pass all responsibility to the states and blame them for any problems” model, so I guess Hogan had that in mind, but at a lower level.
And honestly, I usually expect the government to bungle big programs. But when I went for my first shot, I was super impressed by how smoothly everything went. Maybe the state can reflect on its success and can design its next public health program efficiently from top to bottom. Makes me almost look forward to the next pandemic.
Summer Earnings…and Adventure
Is your older teen looking for a summer job…and adventure? I recently sent this CoolWorks link to my kids, college-age Pippa and high school senior Grey. CoolWorks post jobs, many of them seasonal, in fun locations like national parks.
When I was in college, I spent one summer on Mount Rainier in Washington state. I started looking for park ranger jobs in Yellowstone (natch), but nothing was available, so I reduced my expectations a wee bit. Which is how I secured a full-time summer job washing dishes in the kitchen of the Paradise Inn.
It was a dream job. Not the dishes, although that was fine. It was like being at a gorgeous college but without the homework. I lived in a dorm with roommates, was fed every meal, and hiked, bouldered, swam, and climbed in my free time. I also took day trips to Mount St. Helens and Seattle. Most of the other employees were also college-age, so the social scene was awesome.
And so were the promotion opportunities. Show a little initiative, and say goodbye to those dish hands. After a couple weeks in the kitchen, I was promoted to night “security guard,” then hotel front desk clerk. By the end of the summer, I was the front desk manager. There wasn’t much dough to be raked, but my expenses were miniscule, so it all worked out.
I’ve told Pippa and Grey they should aim to get three job offers by summer. If it were me, this would be one of them.
Scooping Ice Cream & Cash
Speaking of jobs for teens, Grey recently interviewed at an ice cream shop for a part-time job. He has a car and thus lots of expenses.
He doesn’t have much interviewing experience, so I offered to role play with him.
Me: Tell me Grey, why do you want this job?
Grey: Ummmmmm, I like ice cream?
Me: That’s good, what else?
More awkward pauses and shoe-staring, then I say, “It’s OK to say you want to earn money. Employers like workers who are money-motivated.”
“Really?” says Grey. “That’s the opposite of what you told me before!”
Turns out, he does read things I send him. Good to know.
A couple weeks prior, I had sent him a link to this Fast Company article that says you can ruin your job prospects if you ask about pay and benefits during the interview.
With the link, I had sent this comment:
No one really tells you this, but I have found this to be true. Pay discussions come up, but always at the end and it should be brought up by the employer.
Once I understood his confusion, we talked about the difference between asking pay/perks questions, and a simple expression of interest in making money.
Fortunately, as a teenager, there often isn’t a lot of mystery around what you’ll be earning, so the urge to bring it up isn’t as fierce. In Maryland, minimum wage is $10.10 an hour.
Ten bucks an hour and some free ice cream – that’s good enough for most teens. Doesn’t sound too bad to me either.