Thursday, July 20, 2017

Camping for our Family Vacation

If we end up going on a family vacation this year, we plan to make it a camping trip.
I was/am a bit nervous about camping with a toddler plus having the additional challenge of being in my third trimester with kid #2, but there are a lot of reasons this is actually a better idea than a couple of days exploring a big city or taking a typical vacation.
My child doesn't like to sit still very long. She doesn't appreciate museums or expensive outings. But she loves being outside.
Here are some reasons we plan to camp this year for a family vacation:
-It will give us a lot of time to disconnect from the city life and connect with each other.

-We won't have to constantly be telling our daughter to sit still, be quiet, or stay close by.

-It gives us an opportunity to be very active in the outdoors.

-It's extremely inexpensive -- a state campsite is typically less than $30/night and sometimes even less than $15/night. You bring your own food and gear from home so not many expenses here that you would not ordinarily have if you were at home.

-It gives us a chance to explore the great outdoors with our daughter and make a lot of memories.

Do you ever go camping as a family? What do you like to do while camping?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Value Proposition Success Story

As an alumni of the Praxis program, I continue to be actively involved in the community. There has been a push from the Praxis leadership to focus on presenting value propositions or pitch decks when looking for a job. These should be customized to the company and position so as to show the person hiring that you know about them and their mission, you know how to do the job with minimal training, and you are a good fit for the company culture. They can take the shape of an email, a power point, a video, or any other project/form of communication that will get their attention.

Companies don't hire people just for charity. They want to know you can do the job and produce the output they need. A value proposition shows that.

I currently work for a major corporation which values both years of service to the company and higher education. Those are two ways they weed out applicants when looking to promote somebody. I have run into road blocks when it comes to even just getting interviewed for other positions due to this sorting mechanism. They hired me without my Bachelors degree but now I am struggling to move within the company without either that BA or several more years at the company.

Recently a position came open that looked like a perfect fit for the skills I have been developing all my life. I wanted this position or at least the chance for an interview. I put in my resume and letter of interest... but I was not chosen to move forward in the process. Another person who was also not chosen does not have their BA either. We imagined that they weeded us out largely based on that lack of credential as it did state "BA preferred" on the job description.

I had already created a short power point of seven simple but professional slides which was my value proposition for this job. In addition, I know that the person who gets the position will have to send out a monthly newsletter to about 1,000 people so I created my own sample newsletter. I sent my value proposition power point and the newsletter to my supervisor and manager and asked if they would consider passing it along to the person hiring for the position.

They did, and I got the interview.

Simply by taking some time to show the hiring manager that I have experience and value that I can bring to the position outside of my degree or years of service she scheduled a time to talk to me. She didn't have to do that -- she had already interviewed several people and has a few more people in her queue to interview. But I went above and beyond what most people will do to get a position. She mentioned in my interview that she wished she had seen my power point and sample newsletter when I first applied for the job but that adding supplemental information was not a normal procedure at the company. She was glad my manager sent her the documents and said I had given her a lot of information to review.

It will be weeks before I know if I will be offered the position, but just getting that interview is a success story that I can attribute to the value proposition I created. Without catching her attention in that way, I would have been passed up for another interview. It's a super simple idea and not that difficult to execute but speaks volumes when competing against others for the same position. It shows the person hiring that you are serious about your work and yourself. That signals more than just having BA after your name.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

How to Learn What You're Passionate About

Want to learn what you are passionate about?

Start writing every day.


It's that simple.

And don't forget to include tags.

You kind of know what you love to talk about, research, and explore. But when you start blogging every single day, you see the same themes come up again and again.

For me it's parenting and childbirth, personal finances, writing/blogging/podcasting, a little bit of government/current events, business and entrepreneurship, travel, college/education, whatever somewhat unique experiences I think I have had, nutrition, and the occasional movie review.

If I continue blogging, my interests will likely change and I will certainly have more experiences to write about. My blog will become like a time capsule to remind me of what I was interested in at a given time, what I was watching, what I was reading, what I was learning, and what I was experiencing.

Try it.

Monday, July 17, 2017

What value do I bring outside of formal education and years of service?

I went from working at a company of less than 10 regular employees/contractors to a company that had thousands of employees at multiple locations but it only felt like we had one location to working for a Fortune 100 company with 400,000+ employees worldwide. As I have kept moving up in company size I have noticed how difficult it can be to navigate the corporate world.

Corporations (or at least the one I work for) tend to value years of service and formal education. It is their way of weeding people out. You have to put in your time -- both at formal learning institutions and at their business -- to be considered for new positions.

It has been a test of patience for this impatient woman. But it has also forced me to get creative and really consider what value I am bringing to my company outside of years of service and formal education. If I feel I should be considered for different positions despite my lack of formal education and years of service, why? What makes me special?

These are questions I should be constantly asking myself about any company and any position. Why am I here? What value am I bringing? Why should I continue to be on the payroll?

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Why do I struggle to cook?

Short post today as we have been moving to our new home all weekend.

Just a question I have been asking myself recently: why do I struggle to cook?

I have the tools.

I have the meal plans.

I have the kitchen gadgets.

I can order my groceries from the store and pick them up. The way things are going, I will likely soon be able to have them delivered to my door!

So why is it so hard?

Time... energy... will... discipline?

Whatever the excuses may be, it is time to get over them.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

How to Stay Broke:

  • Never save
  • Avoid putting anything into retirement
  • Never plan for any emergencies to happen
  • Take on as many payments as you can! The more money you have promised to other people the better! Here are some places to start:
    • Car
    • House
    • Boat
    • Furniture
    • Appliances
    • Credit Card
    • Student loans
    • Personal line of credit
    • Borrow from family
    • Expensive vacations you already took
    • Just sign up for the payment option instead of buying outright anytime this is an option!
  • Spend way more than you make
  • Go out to eat for as many meals as possible/avoid cooking
  • Drive vehicles that require a lot of gasoline and maintenance 
  • Go back to school for a Masters degree you can't pay for
  • Shop for new clothes at least every week
  • Manicures/Pedicures on the regular
  • Don't forget about your hair
  • Starbucks/fancy coffee daily
  • New iPhone every year
  • Extravagant birthday and Christmas gifts for all your loved ones (but let the birthday/holiday "sneak up" on you so that you forget to put aside any money ahead of time; this gives you a chance to use your credit card)
  • Never take on an extra job or freelance work
  • Listen to the advice of your broke friends
  • Pay full price for every purchase/never shop around

This is just a starter list. What else can you add? There are endless ways to stay broke! 

Friday, July 14, 2017

It's Hard to Downgrade Lifestyles

I love to blog about clutter/decluttering. My progress on the Kon Mari method is not going as fast as I would like, but that is in part due to the fact that I was holding off until our move. Well, this is the weekend. We are going to double our square footage and I am super pumped. Instead of one bedroom and bathroom, we will now have two of each. We have no separate dining nook and now we will have a spacious one. Our living room and kitchen are much bigger and we will go from no garage to a one car.

But like I wrote in the past, if we feel just as cluttered in the new place in a year or two as we do now in our 525 square foot apartment, it's probably not an issue of capacity but rather our human nature to fill up whatever space we have with more luxuries.

It's hard to "downgrade" one's life. Once you get used to a certain space or a certain luxury, it sucks to go back. For example, my husband and I survived the first 7+ months of our marriage without a washer and dryer. We would go over to my parents house to do laundry or they would sometimes do it for us if we left it there a day or two (this second option was pretty darn sweet even without them folding it). But now that we have a washer and dryer, it is even more amazing. If we have messes or spills, we can just throw the stuff in the washer right away, no need to wait or go anywhere.

Another luxury I love is the Bluetooth speaker in my car which I use daily to listen to podcasts on my commute. When I have to drive a different car on occasion, I miss this extra feature. Speaking of luxuries, talk about smart phones. As much as people love to hate them, they make social media and information accessible with a click or two. Going to a flip phone would be a huge step backward in my quality of life.

But why does it matter if I get used to more space, more luxuries, and more stuff?

The more I have and the more I rely on/get used to, the more fragile I become. This means that during a tough time, I have more to lose than gain. Conversely, those that are anti-fragile become stronger through volatility.

The Art of Manliness blog has some ideas about how to become more anti-fragile. Becoming anti-fragile does not mean we reduce our lifestyle to our top 17 items. It means purposefully injecting stress in your life sometimes so that if you ever did lose your job and have to reduce your life down to 17 items you wouldn't just give up on life. You would get stronger.

Are you fragile or anti-fragile?