Archive | April 2012

May goals

Hope everyone is having a great start to their weekend! I sure am. I just attended a fantastic Red Hot Chili Peppers concert here in Toronto. If anyone is able to see them on their tour this year, you’re in for a real treat! This concert actually got me thinking about a few things I would like to do over the next few weeks.

Rediscover the music I love

This one stems directly from the concert. As the band played songs I knew and loved, I realized just how little I actually take the time to listen to music. Even on the subway I usually opt for a book or the Economist. Growing up I loved listening to Led Zeppelin, Radiohead, Fleetwood Mac and of course RHCP to name a few. Under the Bridge still moves me every time. Led Zeppelin IV is still my favourite album and it’s sadly collecting dust in my room.

Tweet more

When I say tweet more, I mean from my blog account. I’ve noticed that tweeting is a great way to engage with other bloggers/readers and it still isn’t something I’ve put into practice. With that I urge you, kind readers, to take a look at that Twitter sidebar riiight to the right of your screen and please follow me 🙂 I’m attempting to tweet more but with all of two followers (thanks Modest Money!) I’m doing the equivalent of having a conversation with myself. Please follow me before I become that crazy lady babbling to herself on the street!

Set a real budget

I have a blog-fession to make. I haven’t been following any sort of real budget this year *gasp*. It has worked out okay and I’ve (almost) reached my target debt payoff date but now that all my money will be mine again, it is more crucial than ever that I keep on track with new savings goals.

Sidenote: YAY I finally get to start saving!

Read more

Right now I’m reading the second Hunger Games book and I’m sorry Hunger Games lovers who may love all the book, but I kind of despise this one. Why has Katniss become so tortured and annoying? When did this become Twilight? I’m only about a third of the way through so I am hoping it gets better. I would like to read two more novels this month as well.

There you have it. Simple and perfectly attainable goals, no?

What are your goals for May? What are your thoughts on the second Hunger Games book? What are you doing this weekend? Share share share!

Spending habits that make me say ‘waaa?’

There are a few things that people spend money on that make me scratch my head. Also, I like lists.

Top spending habits that make me say ‘wtf?’

Bottled water

People, it comes from a tap. Abundantly. For free.

Okay okay, perhaps you come from somewhere that doesn’t have great tap water but here in TO and I’m sure where you’re from, it’s pretty decent.

Waxing

Boys, you can scroll down (or prepare to cringe) riiight around now. Paying astronomical amounts to rip hair off myself is absolutely silly to me because I can go to the drugstore, pick up a bottle of Nad’s or Alexandria and do it myself in all of 10 minutes. I remember my roommate getting a horrible wax job at a fancy salon back in university. I ended up busting out my bottle of wax and giving her a live tutorial of how to do it yourself.

High-end mascara

Out of curiosity, I’ve paid about $30 for Diorshow mascara. I thought it was great but I’m pretty sure if you gave me a bottle of Maybelline and slapped a Dior sticker on it, I’d think it was pretty great too (read: psychological!). A ton of people swear by the Maybelline stuff and its something like $8. There is no way any mascara is going to actually lengthen or miraculously twirl your lashes so grab the cheap stuff and go!

Tea

I love tea as much as the next uppity tea drinker. But unless I’m having a ‘coffee date’ (I don’t drink coffee so I grab tea), I don’t see the point of buying a tea when I can drop a bag into water. Water, bag, insert. Tea!

Designer clothing

Uhhh, enough said. I’ve been a sucker for this in the past but no more. NO MORE.

So, that’s my piece. What say you about things that are a total waste of money? Please share!

Wedding are expensive

I love weddings. I love ALMOST everything about weddings. I love dressing up, I love the food, I love the open bar (!), and of course the whole wedded bliss thing. What I don’t love? The cost associate with weddings. This year I have three weddings to attend, one in which I am part of the wedding party. Here are a few things I’ve been contemplating lately when it comes to these weddings.

Placeholders/favours at a friend's wedding

How much should a bridal shower gift cost? 

The reason I ask this is that I’ve normally spent around $30, but for a wedding coming up in June, my friends wanted to go splitsies on a gift (as we often do) but they wanted to spend $50 on a gift. I had to politely decline my inclusion as I am just not comfortable spending that much. I felt like the ‘cheap friend’ doing this but I knew I would end up a Bitter Betty if I simply complied. Now, the thing that bugged me about this was that my friend’s reasoning for spending so much was the fact that the bride often spends a lot on our gifts for different occasions. Although I agree she may spend more than some people, she is fairly wealthy while I’m in a place where I need to frantically pinch my pennies. I don’t think that it is a fair comparison.

Now that I’m very obviously not a part of this ‘group gift’, I feel like I need to make my gift count. I need it to be thoughtful, tasteful, and yes cost effective. I don’t want to be the girl that got the spatula because it was the cheapest thing on the registry. I’ve decided to put together a scrapbook with wedding advice from friends, quotes, articles, recipes, and basically anything else I can think of. I think it will be great and I think I can do this for under $30. Will keep you guys posted on this project and eventually write a second post with specifics in case you want to try this as a gift too.

Cake please!

Wedding gifts + 1

The bf will be accompanying me to all three weddings. Last year we attended a few weddings, with about half being his friends and half being mine. As such, I paid the full gift for my friends and he paid the full gift for his. This year, all three weddings are my friends. Bf has more money than me (read: bf has money) but I don’t feel right forcing him to pay up for each wedding. As a result, I may be dropping a good chunk of cash myself. Does this make sense? Or should I make him pay up? As an alternative, I do owe him about $100 from various trips (yes, we split trips exactly down the middle!) so I’m thinking I will request debt-forgiveness due to all my wedding-gifting. Brilliant, I know.

S'mores table at a wedding last summer

Parties, parties, parties

As a maid of honour, I will be hosting a few parties. I know from past experience that this can get expensive. In order to mitigate the worry, I really have to start putting aside a bit of money for this each month. Since my debt is almost completely abolished, this is feasible. Yay! I don’t have long to do this but I can certainly start in May.

So, do you have a lot of weddings to attend this summer? Do you have general rules for amounts to gift for showers/engagement parties/weddings?

Get me a coffee please! (LF on internships)

It was only after I graduated from my postgraduate program last year that I had to face the dreaded word: internships. Up until that point, I had never considered doing one because I worked full-time out of university. Fast forward one year and I’m completing my second one.

Please pay me...

Internships are a funny thing. You’re the lowest rung of the corporate ladder and you’re sometimes unpaid or at least poorly paid. Having worked full-time for almost two years beforehand, I had to swallow a LOT of pride to take on an internship. Unfortunately in my new field, it is a rarity to get a job straight out of school without having to take on at least one. I’ve decided to talk about them today because going from a full-time job (dental plan!) to an intern job can be difficult. Now that I have several months of experience with them, there are a few tricks I’ve learned along the way that I wish I knew when I started.

Swallow your pride

Like I said, this was a huge one for me. You may be used to being the Queen/King Bee at school, at previous jobs or amongst your friends but here, you are at the very bottom. I mean, the office hamster probably has more seniority than you. This doesn’t mean you aren’t worth something, but it does mean you have to work hard to prove yourself even if it means motoring through some tedious tasks. Stay positive because this is simply a stepping stone.

Mr. McHamperston, Senior Manager

Take initiative

It’s important for your boss to see that you are enthusiastic and willing to take on new challenges. People won’t always give you challenging tasks voluntarily, but if you start proving that you can take on more than what is given to you, you’ll start getting noticed.

Start with goals

Goal-setting is always important and in this case, it isn’t a bad idea to go into your internship with specific things that you want to get out of it. Speak to your boss about your goals and ensure that you keep them in the loop. Not only will they be impressed that you have a plan but they’ll try to throw opportunities your way that will fulfil your learning objectives. My boss is great this way and always tries to throw me tasks that I might find interesting and challenging.

Network

This is a topic that has probably been beaten to death but there’s a reason for that! Networking is key and when you’re an intern, you have the opportunity to meet a range of people in your chosen field. Try to get to know as many people as possible because even if you don’t end up staying on, you never know where your next opportunity will come from.

Show interest

You may work somewhere and you may be doing a terrific job, but if you boss doesn’t know that you would love to work there, you may be passed up for opportunities that arise. It’s important to connect with your boss on a regular basis and let him or her know that you are very interested in an opportunity to stay on. If you see specific opportunities open up that match your skill set, let your boss know immediately before they even start looking at other candidates!

Seek out learning opportunities

For instance, I know that in my field, media relations is a skill that often shows up in postings. I’m fortunate enough to work somewhere that offers this service so I make a point of connecting with the media relations manager and trying to learn as much from him as possible. If you have an interest in planning events, see who in your organization is running an event and try to assist with the logistics. People are generally willing to lend a helping hand.

Pay me please! Oh wait, I'm already filthy rich.

Finally, of course there is the issue of salary. As much as I despise unpaid internships and believe its completely unethical and exploitative, opportunities often come in unpaid packages. I initially refused to take an unpaid internship but eventually had to succumb to one that paid a grossly low monthly stipend. The thing is, some of the people in my program refused to do it because they couldn’t afford to but ended up not working for months anyway. In the meantime, I had an internship under my belt and made extra money by working a side job.

It’s easy to get down on yourself when you’re an intern but like I said in my last post, everything is what you make it. You could think of yourself as a low-paid, unappreciated intern or you could think of yourself as a bright, enthusiastic individual who is taking the perfect beginning steps to the career of their dreams. I choose the latter.

Have you ever done an internship? If so, how was your experience? Would love to hear! 

Negativity killed the cat

Warning: Philosophical rant ahead.

This post can best be embodied by the following quote:

Of course on the show How I Met Your Mother this is meant to be whimsical, but I really believe there is some much truth to it. Oftentimes in our everyday lives, we let things get to us. Whether it be our jobs, our love lives or our money situation. I say this because it is something I’ve caught myself doing lately during my job hunt even though every ounce of me knows I should stay positive.

I always think back to a quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet:

There is nothing either good or bad , but thinking makes it so.

It’s true, right? Everything just is what it is and we assign emotions to it. Example: Stepping into a puddle and ruining your shoes. In the right mind frame you shrug and move on. At least it gives you an excuse to buy new shoes! In the wrong mind frame this is quite possibly the most catastrophic thing that has ever happened to you, why do you have the worst luck, your week is ruined, yadda yadda. One simple event can be viewed on opposite ends of the spectrum.

What’s my point?

When you’re down and out, convince yourself to be happy. Just do it. Here are some of the ways I’ve been trying to alter my perspective based on various circumstances:

Gloom and doom: I get paid next to nothing and I’ve been on contract for a year. I can’t find a full time job. My life suck. Why won’t someone cut me a break?

Snap out of it: I’ve maintained employment all year meaning no gaps in my resume and I’m building new skills! I may not have a permanent position secured just yet but the perfect job may be just around the corner. I’m excited about this prospect.

Gloom and doom: I’m broke and I have debt coming out my ears. This is so stressful, how will I ever get out of it?

Snap out of it: Being in the hole has built character. I’m learning great money habits that will stay with me long past the end of my debt. In a weird, twisted sort of way, the whole getting out of debt challenge is kind of fun – especially when you have a great blogging community to connect with.

Everyone has rough patches and it’s our internal reaction that makes the difference between sinking and swimming. Why not turn a failure into an opportunity? When things aren’t going our way, why not be excited about what may be in store tomorrow?

Scarlett says it best. Now I just have to start practicing what I preach…

LF