Tag Archives: women

Checking in on Your 2009 Goals and $10 a Day

So it’s already February, and I have to ask:  how are those New Years’ Resolutions and 2009 goals going?  Most people fall off the wagon 6 weeks into the New Year.  Don’t let it be you!

 

Most of us (me included) set goals to get financially AND physically fit this year.  It’s not as easy as it seems, is it?!  Well, I’m here to be the annoying person who gives you your February “Reality Check” to help you stay on track. 

 

I was scanning my book shelf the other day to gather ideas for this post and came across Jean Chatzky’s book, “Pay it Down,” which I purchased at the peak of my over-spending days.  The book is based around the idea that you can get out of debt on $10 a day. 

 

I’m a huge believer that debt and overspending can be traced back to psychological factors and/or personal insecurities.  So before we get to the part where we find that $10 per day, I must ask: How did you get into debt in the first place?

 

For many women, the reason is simple: we needed to fill the gap of what we make and what we need to live.  For many others, we had inadequate savings to bail us out of an emergency.  Lastly, many women have a spending problem.  Although society constantly makes jokes out of shopping too much, i.e. the new movie “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” it is a serious problem for many.  Retail Therapy is a topic that deserves its own post, but in the meantime consider if you may be guilty of this “disease.”  Regardless of your reason, identify it so you can stop history from repeating itself in your life!

 

Did you follow my advice and get out ALL of those icky credit card statements at the end of 2008?  What did you see?  If you haven’t done this yet, you need to.  You should know exactly how much debt you have, and how much debt you’d like to end 2009 with.  Yes, a number is required here.  You aren’t allowed to say “I want to have less debt and more savings” because that is not a clear goal that you can work towards. 

 

Back to finding an extra $10 a day.  The obvious answer is to cut lattes and going out to lunch but for many American’s, this isn’t the answer.  We like to get out of the office and we have a Starbucks addiction, fair enough.  $10 a day is about $300 per month.  I took inventory of my own spending habits and wanted to share ways that I found an extra $300 per month to put towards debt or savings:

 

  • Going out.  My biggest spending weakness.  I’m not at ALL saying don’t go out.  Live it up, have fun but just keep an eye on it and maybe limit the # of nights you go to the bars if it’s cutting into your pay check too much.
  • Books.  I can’t stop buying books on amazon.com!  I suppose this is a healthy way to spend money, but I’ll admit sometimes I buy more books before I’ve even started reading books from my last order.  Perhaps I should consider going to the library for FREE…
  • Gym Membership.  Jean Chatzky says that if you use your gym 0-1 times per week, then it may be time to cancel it because you are wasting money.  This is a matter of personal values and choice.  For me, I can’t imagine life without my gym, but if you aren’t using yours consider cutting it.
  • Travel.  Don’t go unless you can pay for your ticket in full.
  • Hair.  Platinum blonde is super expensive.
  • Manicures/Pedicures.  Do you really need them every week?

 

You get my drift.  In order to reach goals, you will need to identify your weaknesses and hang up’s.  I don’t want you to start living like a pauper who wears ugly clothes, has roots and never goes out-gross!  I don’t think that is realistic.  Find out what you value, and maybe have less of it.  If you really can’t part with being blonde, for example, find a way to spend less on being blonde, or better yet find a way to make more money (yes, part time jobs are GREAT!) so that trips to the salon are no longer a burden you need to charge on your credit card.

 

I’d love to hear more of your ideas on how you can save $10 a day (or $300 per month) because I know there must be a thousand ways to do it.  I could use the advice just as much as any other girl could.  Please share your thoughts!

 

Leave the Drama at Home: Personal Issues and Your Day at the Office

369014983_153e8b24e6_mOne of the biggest challenges young career women face is leaving their personal lives away from the office. Up until your first job, it’s totally normal to vent to everyone around you about the breakup you are going through with your boyfriend, the fight you are in with your best friend, or how rough you are feeling from going out last night. Unfortunately this type of talk is not well suited for most work environments if you are hoping to be seen as a leader and a professional.

It is inevitable that we are all going to go through rough patches at home or in our personal lives. The challenge is not bringing it to the office. Going through some of these things for the first time in Corporate America myself was difficult and taught me some important lessons about balancing personal issues with your job.

First, there will be good days and bad days. The bad days are REALLY bad, and you may feel like you can barely function at work. This may mean catching up on filing or organizing to stay active. Make sure you aren’t doing something that requires tons of “brain power” or attention to detail if you are having a terrible day, because chances are you are distracted and will make some big mistakes, leading to more stress later.

Second, don’t recruit your co-workers to participate in conversation about your personal drama. Women often feel healing through talking about what is bothering them. Unfortunately, this is usually not ideal while at work. Not only do you look stupid, but it’s a waste of time and eventually everyone is going to get sick of hearing the latest update of what’s going on. Soon enough your co-workers will start avoiding you like the plague, consider you immature and unfocused.

Third, as tempting as it is to email your friends and family about how you are feeling all day, you are better off closing that personal email and focusing on work. Why? Because nothing is going to change by 5pm. Also, the more you start emailing, the more you get sucked in. Time will vanish; you will be behind on your work and worse off from where you started. Before you know it, your bosses and clients are upset with you for things you forgot to do thanks to your emailing spree, and you feel even more stressed out and upset then you did to begin with.

Lastly, do nice things for your self to get through the day. For me, this means getting a manicure at lunch, stopping at Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks on the way to work, or taking a walk at lunch. If you’re going through a breakup, remember to think about all the movies that feature girls who went through bad breakups and then ended up better off for it (Legally Blonde, The Holiday).

If you’re going through something personal, no one expects you to be perfect. It’s inevitable that people have bad days. Just try your best to put a smile on and stay as focused as you can. If things get really terrible, it may be best to take a day off to clear your head. The last thing you want is for your co-workers or superiors to think that you are incapable of doing a good job at what you were hired to do.

Chapter 1 of My Journey as an Entrepreneur

So rather than a career or personal finance lesson, today I’m going to share what being a budding entrepreneur has been like for me lately.  A few words that immediately come to mind: coffee, energy, passion, and time management.

3195538796_e83eb19d4f Let’s start with coffee.  Yes, I read and loved Skinny Bitch and I know coffee is not the best habit to hold. Yet without it, I’m not sure how I could manage to write blog posts, launch a new website site, maintain a partnership with “The Mindset of Wealth” in Washington D.C., in addition to working a full time job in Commercial Banking that I really enjoy, work out and sleep. I always swore I would never be a coffee drinker because my parents are completely hooked on it, and of course I never wanted to do what they did. Yet now that I’m older, I see how my Mom ran a successful company, played Mom to 3 kids, cooked fabulous dinners most nights and made sure we all had what we needed. Thank God coffee is a legal substance, because to me it is a wonder drug that helps you make the most of your day.

Caffeine isn’t enough to start the engine of an entrepreneur though. For me it has taken an incredible amount of mental energy. Energy is important for me when I don’t feel like getting on conference call number 5 over my lunch break, waking up at 6am to run before work because I know I can’t do it after, coming up with new ideas, or focusing 100% on my job while I am there. Perhaps a better word for this energy is discipline. Sometimes it’s hard to make myself connect with others to market what I’m doing, or focus on developing a project I’m working on. Yet somehow I love what I’m doing so much that my mental energy carries me through.

That leads us to passion. It hasn’t taken me long to figure out that you must be completely obsessed and in love with your entrepreneurial venture. Why? Because you will breathe, think and dream it constantly and live every moment of your day thinking about it. If you’re like me, you will talk about it while socializing at a bar with new people, you will talk about it the minute you get home from work and sometimes get up in the middle of the night to jot down a fleeting idea. Perhaps that sounds a bit crazy to some, but for me it has been crucial in getting things done.

I learned in one of my Ladies Who Launch workshops that female entrepreneurs are especially known to think of their business as their “baby.” Or even as an extension of themselves which they identify with. This is absolutely true for me. As I develop the new and improved version of this blog (which will soon be called “Ms. Career Girl”) and make it into an interactive site for women, I see my personality and things I need help with being brought to life through the new site. In addition to the blog posts, there will be tools, job postings, networking events, more personal finance information, “ask a professional career girl”, recommended reading and more.

The eight year old girl in me who talked to her friends and family about being a business woman when she grew up is coming to486569058_9b91ccc458_m life. Now I see why I played office instead of house, and preferred riding my pink BMX boys bike to playing with dolls. I see why coming downtown Chicago to visit my aunt while she was in law school excited me so much. I see why I’ve always been obsessed with Oprah and what she has done for so many women around the world. I feel less strange for wanting to read books any extra minute I get, because I see that the information I get from these books can be used to help and inspire others. It’s so weird how all my little personality traits have come together and can be reflected through my entrepreneurial venture.

Lastly, time management. I think we’ve gone over how I manage my time enough, but I do want to share something quick that I learned this weekend at another one of my Ladies Who Launch workshops. As my leader Megan McKenzie says, “time management is a myth because you can’t create time.” Therefore here’s a trick to make the most out of what you DO have.

Take a 3 x 5 index card and look at it vertically. At the top write today’s date. Under that, write your top 4 items you want to get done that day. One of those items must be for you. Draw a line beneath those four items. Any items below that line are tasks that can be pushed to tomorrow. I started using this little time management tool this week and it’s crazy how much more focus I have had. I’ve accomplished more this week than usual. Try it!

So, that’s what I’ve been up to lately. As things get off of the ground, I’ll be sure to write Chapter 2 of my journey as I know it will be an evolving experience with many lessons. In the meantime, it’s coffee time for me! Ciao!

Tales of “Woe” from Girls Who Date Bankers

My sister sent me a link to a New York Times article which I found as oddly addicting and bizarre as an issue of US Weekly. The article is called, “It’s The Economy, Girlfriend.”
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The article highlights a group of twentysomething aged women in New York City who started a support group called “Dating a Banker Anonymous” and a blog. The women who started DABA noticed their romantic relationships with investment bankers and traders tanked with the economy. The women said that as the economy went down, the stock market shed points, and jobs were being cut on Wall Street their sex lives, gifts and date nights were cut as well.

Their blog is totally funny and addicting. Women write in to tell their dating stories and misfortunes of having their trips to foreign countries cut, their bottle service being eliminated and how sad it is that someone would want to move to the Midwest for a more affordable lifestyle. There is even a story that mirrors a segment that aired on Good Morning America yesterday which tells the story of a 24 year old girl who is dating a married millionaire who enjoys trips and designer gifts from her “sugar daddy.” When he is faced with having to eliminate 20 people at work, all of which have children to support, she whines that he isn’t getting her enough stuff anymore.

Although the stories are fun to read, they definitely make me question what was significant enough about these stories of “misfortune” and high expectations to make the New York Times?  While most of America is losing their job, their home and their retirement accounts, the New York Times is highlighting a tiny group of twentysomething ladies who are no longer receiving Louis Vuitton bags, bottle service, Manolo Blahniks and trips to Italy from their boyfriends. Seems out of balance. Apparently the public is ready for an escape from reality though, which might explain why these girls already got a book deal.

The concept that the DABA girls created is absolutely entertaining. Unfortunately, I don’t think it promotes financially savvy and independent women. Then again, the girls’ experiences of dating rich men was enough to get them a book deal and perhaps they can start buying their own Louis Vuittons now!

Nicole’s Review of Suze Orman’s “Women and Money”

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As featured on justthrive.com!

Only Suze Orman could talk about two topics as sensitive as Women and Money so honestly and accurately. In her eighth book, Women and Money, Suze uncovers the mysterious stumbling blocks that so many women face when it comes to their finances, “It doesn’t matter if I am in a room full of business executives or stay-at-home moms, I find the core problem to be universal: When it comes to making decisions with money, you refuse to own your power, to act in your best interest.”

Women are typically the givers of the world: they are always putting others before themselves, nurturing their families, and sacrificing for others. Suze is NOT suggesting women replace “nurturer with narcissist.” She says, “I simply want you to give TO yourself as much as you give OF yourself. By taking care of yourself financially, you will truly be able to take care of those you love.” She asks why women don’t show their money the same attention they show every other relationship in their lives and claims it is because women have a dysfunctional relationship with money.

It is this dysfunctional relationship that has intrigued me personally to start a business to help educate women about their finances. My belief is that it is not intelligence or information that women lack, it is a mental “block” that is holding women back. Suze points out that so many women feel they must be all things to all people, “mother, wife, dutiful daughter, supportive friend, school volunteer, cheerleader at home and at work.” With the demands of life, it’s easy to keep denying the importance of learning new things that may be uncomfortable or hard to face. It is much easier to deny that money exists, say you are just “too busy” or blame others for your financial shortcomings.

My favorite chapter of Women and Money is called “The 8 Qualities of a Wealthy Woman.” I like it because it sheds light on what many women are not doing and clarifies how changing our thoughts and behaviors will improve our relationship with money.

For example, numbers 1 and 2 are harmony and balance. When you are in harmony, what you think, say and do are aligned. How many women do you know who say, “Oh I’m fine!” or “Ok daughter, you can have that new ___” even when they don’t feel that way or can’t afford it. That leads us to quality 3: courage. Courage gives you the ability to make sure your thoughts, feelings, and actions are aligned. So many women fear that if they say no, they may hurt someone else or not be loved as much. Suze points out, “It’s so much easier to hurt yourself than to hurt someone else, isn’t it?” When you think logically about that statement it is so true, yet women do it several times a day.

I believe that courage is important because it allows women to set boundaries with quality number 4: generosity. Women are known for being too generous with their time, support, love and money. Suze points out that the act of generosity must benefit the giver as much as the receiver, or it is not true generosity.

Quality 5 and 6 are happiness and wisdom. Quality 7 is cleanliness, which is really just another word for organization. And lastly, number 8 is beauty, which is a combination of the other 7 qualities.

Notice I haven’t gone into any detail about the technical side of money in my review. Suze Orman and I could sit here all day and tell you about the importance of saving, investing, and organizing your finances but if you don’t have a relationship with money first, you will never stick to making good decisions with your money. Just like losing weight, we have to get to the bottom of what is really causing that “stumbling block” in order to conquer it.

Women and Money: Thoughts?

I have read Suze Orman’s popular book Women and Money and thought it had some great points.  Check out this video clip and let me know what you think.  Are women putting their needs last?  Are we putting ourselves “on the sales rack?”  Are we undervaluing what we do, therefore making the world view us as less valuable?