Archive for the ‘money, honey’ Category

Mind Candy

Friday, March 27th, 2009

In the current economic climate, Working Girl admits to a bit of guilt over her (manic?) efforts to urge friends, acquaintances, Internet buddies, colleagues, family members, neighbors, old school mates, former friends, friends of friends, friends made yesterday, and random humans encountered on the street to Spend, not Save.

Spend, that is, fifteen bucks on her Book.

So it is with delight that she reports these terribly scientific findings from two recent NYT articles.  To wit:

  1. Oversaving is actually bad for you.  It’s even a disease with a name (hyperopia).  When you’re old and gray, you will regret not spending more than you will spending.  Hey, it’s science.
  2. Candy sales are on the rise, as people are seeking affordable comfort wherever they can find it.  This can not be good.  Buying the Book, on the other hand, is not only affordable it’s better for your waistline, not to mention teeth.

You want to spend (a little)?  You want affordable comfort?  You’ve come to the right place!  “The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl” will spare you from the heartbreak of hyperopia and is sweet as a Hershey’s kiss.  What more could you ask?

We now return to your regularly scheduled blog.

Job Offer: What's Your Bottom Line?

Monday, March 16th, 2009

Ah, our favorite topic: salary negotiation. Some good tips and links, from CareerAlley.

You’ve sent countless resumes, spoken with too many recruiters and have had your fair share of interviews. Now you have a job offer, but do you know what you’re worth and do you have a “bottom line”? You need to know both, what you are worth in the current job market (please see my post Are you paid what you’re worth?) as well as your “bottom line” (defined as the lowest salary, benefits and other perks at which you would accept an offer and not feel as if you are under selling yourself). Today’s post will cover some tools you can use to help evaluate a job offer.

Good luck in your search.

Article courtesy of the Recruiting Blogswap, a content exchange service sponsored by CollegeRecruiter.com, a leading site for college students looking for internships and recent graduates searching for entry level jobs and other career opportunities.

Some Good News About Money

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

Bet you didn’t think there was any good news about money nowadays.

But there is some–check out WG’s guest post over at What Would Dad Say.  And stick around.  Dad has some good stuff over there….

How To Feel More Powerful

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

So here we are in a brand new year.  It’s sort of a scary one, isn’t it.  Especially job/money-wise.  Is there anything you can do to make yourself feel safer, stronger, happpier?

Well, yes, there is.

If you have the energy for only one resolution this new year, try this one:  Choose a “menial” task that you normally pay someone else to do and learn to do it yourself.  If you normally pay to have your clothes mended, say, learn to sew on your own buttons and hem up your own pants.

Or choose a thing you normally buy and learn to make it yourself.  Bread-baking is really very easy and a homebaked loaf is not only tastier but hugely cheaper than the store-bought kind.

You’ll save some money.  But that’s not the point.  The point is that knowing how to bake, sew, or garden, being able to fix a leaky toilet, change your car’s oil, rewire an electrical outlet, clean your own gutters or trim your own hedges, stuff like that (stuff we all used to do ourselves!), makes you feel independent and resilient.  And, thus, powerful.

You don’t have to turn your life into an episode of The Waltons.  Pick one task, or two, that appeals to you. 

Fringe benefit: Once you master your new craft, you may find it soothing.  Especially if your job involves sitting in a fluorescent-lit cubicle staring at a computer screen all day. 

Working with your hands is good for your mood, your pocketbook, and your soul.     

Goodbye To All That

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

One more day.

One more day and 2008 is ovah!

It’s been an exciting year, in good and not-so-good ways.  The big news of the moment, of course, is the economy.  Working Girl wonders: What could possibly go wrong next? 

No one knows, and that’s why the banks are sitting on that $700 billion we so kindly “lent” them, the car companies are threatening doom if they don’t get a handout too, and so many ordinary people like you and WG have simply stopped spending.

But one good thing may come out of all this.  And that is a change to our whole attitude toward money.  You know what?  Our relationship with money has gotten really out of whack. 

We’ve been living in a society that constantly harps on us to consume.  We’ve been conditioned to believe that people who have a lot of money should be respected and admired, simply for the fact that they have a lot of money.  We don’t think there’s anything wrong with racking up debt to buy things we don’t need.  We don’t think it’s bad to not have any savings.  We don’t think it’s odd when people talk about “retail therapy” or refer to shopping as their “hobby.”

This really should change.  Money needs to be put in its place.  It’s a cliché but oh so true:  The old virtues are still the best.  Buy only what you can afford.  Pay off your credit card balance every month.  Put some money aside every week. 

But more important: Stop equating money, and the things money can buy, with happiness.

This will, weirdly, make you happier.

Is It A Good Time To Ask For A Raise?

Sunday, December 14th, 2008

Still major problems getting online here at Working Girl headquarters.  Argh.  Very annoying. 

But while it seems to be working, here’s a quicky post about everyone’s favorite subject, money:

Asking for a raise right now sounds like sort of a crazy idea, doesn’t it?  After all, aren’t we lucky to just have jobs?

Well, yes, we are lucky (and WG hopes you took her advice at Thanksgiving and thanked your boss). 

But that’s no reason not to continue to act in a professional manner and part of that is to ensure that you’re getting paid what you’re worth.  At least that’s what Mikelann Valterra, founder of the Women’s Earning Institute, said in this recent Seattle Time’s story.

Layoffs, as long as you’re not the one getting laid off, often mean heavier workloads for the “lucky” few who stay.  This means you’re worth more to your employer.  Your boss knows this.  By bringing up the possibility of a raise, you’re showing you know it, too.

In fact, now is a super time to do something at work that saves your company money or time.  Demonstrate your value.  Be a hero, and earn a little job security.

If you do think now might be a good time to talk money, research the fair market value of your work and approach your boss in a professional way, armed with specific & quantifiable proof of why you deserve more money.  Nervous?  Here’s a bit more advice from Forbes.  And even more from Small Biz Resource.

Even if the answer is no, you might learn something valuable–about yourself, your boss, and the situation your company is in. 

What, We Worry?

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

US World and News ReportsThe momentous presidential election is over (finally!), but that doesn’t mean we’re out of things to worry about.

In fact, without the drama of the election to distract us we may find that worries about possible job loss and bills seem even bigger and badder than before.

If that describes you, check out today’s post over at the U.S. News & World Report site: “How to Stop Worrying, Even in a Recession.”

(Or…..you could just go get hypnotized, as Mary Pilon discusses in today’s Wall St. Journal!)

A Little Fear Can Be Good For You

Monday, October 27th, 2008

Last week Working Girl visited Phoenix.  In her suitcase: socks, long-sleeved shirts, and a sweater.  Temperature in Phoenix: 90-ish.

Huh?

Why did WG pack Pacific Northwest duds for the desert?  Because her bedroom, where she was packing, was cold.  She couldn’t visualize the Phoenix heat & the need for sandals and sun dresses.

It’s the same with saving money.  When all is well–when we’ve got a job and our 401(k) is going up–we can’t visualize that the world might change, that there might come a time when money will be tight.

Saving money doesn’t come naturally to most humans because it’s so hard to visualize a world different from the one we’re in right now.   

In yesterday’s NYT magazine, David Leonhardt wrote a piece called “The Price of Optimism.”  Go and study the graph showing the U.S. savings rate since 1970.   It ain’t pretty.  And if you read the column all the way to the end, you’ll see this quote: “A little fear can often be a healthy thing.”

And this is true, if fear makes you intelligently cautious and rationally provident (as opposed to nutso and panicky). 

Along these same lines, and also in yesterday’s NYT, columnist Ben Stein relates this recent conversation (it’s so good that WG is retyping it here):

And, closer to home, a talented make-up artist who works with me almost daily in my TV appearances asked what happened to people in a recession.  (She is young.)  I said that fear and insomnia happened to most people but that a few million would actually lose their jobs and millions more would lose income.

“What do they do?” she asked, looking worried.

“They find other work or live off their savings,” I said.  “They certainly cut back on their spending.”

“What if they don’t have any savings?” she asked.  “I don’t have any savings,” she said.  “No one I know except you has any savings.” She looked extremely worried.

This is perhaps the main lesson of this whole experience.  It is basic but still unlearned: human beings must have savings.  This is not just a good idea.  It’s the difference between life and death, terror and calm.  So start saving right now, and don’t stop until you die.

Now there’s some really super advice.  (The whole column is here.)

P.S.  You don’t have savings?  Start now.  Even if only in an itty bitty way. 

Are Bad Times Good For You?

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

You’d think that rising prices, falling home values, higher unemployment, and general worry that we are all going to heck in a handbasket would take a toll on your physical health.

Not so, according to this NYT article from Tuesday.  Studies exist that show people actually get healthier during recessions.

Apparently, when the economy is booming you work more.  This leaves you less time to exercise, cook from scratch, and sleep.  Also, more money to spend on fatty restaurant meals and booze.  Ergo, your health suffers. 

Some studies even show that death rates fall during recessions.

Ain’t science wonderful?

Natch, other studies prove the exact opposite–that a crummy economy means you can’t afford health insurance, thus you don’t go to the doctor, thus you don’t get needed preventive care, thus…..well, you know.

What does this mean to you and Working Girl?  That bad times aren’t automatically bad for you healthwise.  The jury’s still out!  You are free to remain hale and hearty, if you are, and, if you aren’t, to take what steps you can to become haler and heartier.

Is WG the only one who finds this strangely liberating?

Hard times can bring out either the best or the worst in people.  For us, let it be the best.

Is Capitalism Dead? Are We?

Monday, September 29th, 2008

The sky is falling!  The sky is falling!

As you must know, the stock market dropped by 777 points today.  Biggest one-day drop ever.  Might go down more tomorrow.

Scary.  Depressing.  What does this mean to you and Working Girl?  How are we, average everyday working people, supposed to react?  You might be feeling helpless right now.  WG does.  So here’s a little big-picture perspective, courtesy of Mr. Working Girl:

1.  If you have a job with a 401(k), your same old contributions are now buying more stock than ever before.  Automatically!  When the economy picks up, which it is bound to do sooner or later (Mr. WG points to historical precedent here), then you’ll have a bigger portfolio.  So sit tight, sweet pea.

2.   All this brouhaha is controlling inflation, which has been high of late.  Yes, Mr. WG is quick to admit, some say that big bailouts are actually inflationery.  But, in general, he is equally quick to add, more prudent investing (see #4) combats inflation.  Let the economists fight it out.  It’s working now.  (You want low inflation so your hard-earned savings & investings [see #1] will actually be able to buy stuff in the future.)

3.  That $700 billion bailout sounds like a lot.  But it is still “only” 5% of our total GDP.  We’ll get some (maybe all?) of it back as the market improves (see #1).  As Mr. WG says, “It’s not a trivial amount but it’s not like we’re betting the whole country on it.”

4.  We may end up with a stronger economy.  This awful experience should make institutions smarter and more prudent.  It better!  Because a lot of institutions, as well as everyday people, were basing their financial decisions on the rather wacko premise that real estate and other markets would keep going up and up and up.  And up.  In the Working Girl household, we’ve often talked about how the day of reckoning was bound to come.  It did.

But we’ll get through it.