Dating on a Budget

David Carlson, from Young Adult Money, and I have teamed up for a guest post swap! This week I wrote a guest post for Young Adult Money about Dating on a Budget. Next week, on Wednesday August 28th, I will feature a guest post from David on Ask the Young Professional! It was a great pleasure to work with David on this collaborative post swap. I hope readers from both sites enjoy a new perspective being features on the sites.

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Do you have a special someone in your life who is draining your funds? Or are single because you are afraid you can’t afford a relationship? Here are a few tips to save your love triangle between you, the special someone and your money.

Deals for Date Nights

There’s this great new thing where you can ask it anything and it will answer all your questions!  …It’s called the internet… The internet, especially Google, should be your wing man when looking for a deal on your next date night. I guarantee that you can find at least one coupon to a restaurant or event.

Don’t know where to start? Start by signing up for Groupon and Living Social. You will find deals to restaurants, wine tastings, movies; you can even find a romantic weekend get away!

For more Dating on a Budget tips read the full article at Young Adult Money here. I share more tips on Deals for Date Nights, Romancing for Free and Penny Pincher Presents.

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Personal Finance Advice for Young Professionals, from a Young Professional

Chris Bibey from Finance.Info recently asked if I could share some financial advice for young professionals. I loved the questions Chris asked me and would be really interested to see how other young professionals would answer them as well.

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Source: Katie Robinson is the mastermind behind the website, Ask the Young Professional. As a young professional herself, she shares top of the line information and advice on everything from budgeting to choosing a career.

The way you approach your personal finances as a young professional is not going to be the same as when you are in your 30’s, 40’s and beyond.

At this stage in the game, you are dealing with everything from student loan payments to getting your career off the ground and running. Later in life, things change. At that point, you may be more concerned about paying for your child’s college and how much money you need for retirement.

Financial Challenges: You are not Alone

It is easy to believe you are the only one facing a particular finance related challenge. However, this is not typically the case.

You are not the only person in your age group dealing with student loans. You are not the only person struggling to find a career you can sink your teeth into.

I have fallen in love with Robinson’s website, thanks to her targeted advice and easy to read writing style. I think you will find the following advice quite helpful:

To read “the following advice” you’re going to have to visit Fiance.Info for the full post. Click the full post and leave me your comments there!

The Importance of Family

Ever since we twentysomethings walked across that stage, received that piece of paper and tossed that cap we’ve been starting to create our own life. We’ve filled our our time with work, old and new friends, new places and dreams. Our days have been swallowed by our routine… wake up, shower, eat, work, eat, work, go home, try to work out or meet up with friends, eat, sleep, wake up, rinse and repeat. But what about our families, where are they supposed to fit in?

Creating a life for yourself is very overwhelming. You need to find a place to live, find a way to pay for it all and make sure you don’t drown in the waters of adulthood. Most likely we all promised ourselves to stay in touch with our friends from college, but I bet that most of us didn’t make that same promise about staying in touch with our families.

I was very lucky to grow up in a house hold with two parents, a dog, 3 siblings, and for a time my grandmother. I know not every family lives up to the American dream of a white picket fence with laughing, healthy 2.5 children, but even if you didn’t have that I bet you had a family that loved you even if that family wasn’t blood.

I don’t know your family story, so I’ll give you a glimpse into mine. I’ve the oldest of four; Nate, Kelly and Kaleigh. Nate and Kelly have their birthdays in August so they’ll be turning 20 and 16 respectfully. That’s about 4 years between each child and 14 years between me and the youngest. (I turned 24 a couple weeks ago on June 30th!)  If you didn’t catch it, that means my poor parents had to shuttle us to 4 different schools and balance 4 different schedules.

The Fam after my graduation ceremony in 2012.

The Fam after my graduation ceremony in 2012.

Now things are kind of slowing down at the Robinson household. I’m fully moved out of the house and live in New York, 4 hours away from home. Nate is going to college in Boston, he’ll be a sophomore in the fall. Kelly is currently taking her finals this week for her sophomore year in High School, so she will start looking at colleges in the fall. Kaleigh, she’s making the big move from 4th grade to 5th grade! …Or at least I’m pretty sure… It gets harder to keep track now that I’m out of the house. My dad works and my mom is home with the dog.

Unfortunately Scotty couldn't come to the ceremony, but here he is in all his adorableness!

Unfortunately Scotty couldn’t come to the ceremony, but here he is in all his adorableness!

Soon enough poor momma hen and pappa rooster will be alone in the nest without any of her chicks. I know, you’d think after 24 years my parents would want a break and cherish a quiet house, but trust me they love the chaos! I really wouldn’t be surprised if my mom started a neighborhood day care just to keep the house some lively hood.

As each of us head out to create a life for ourselves we get closer and closer to what I’m going to call, THE DANGER ZONE! The danger zone is when you get to that period where children are starting to create a new life, with the risk of losing what they had. Family sometimes can be taken for granted. Family is family because they’ve always been there for you to fall back on. They’re not supposed to go anywhere, but you could be the one that leaves.

I think it is very crucial to keep in touch with our family. Just like we start creating good habits to become the adult we want to be, we should create the habit of calling home regularly. When I say regularly I mean more than the big holidays and birthdays.

For me, calling my mom was always the easiest because she’s my mom! When I’m in a bad mood or need advice she’s the one I call. I think that’s a reflex a lot of people have. Dad is the guy to call with the hard ball questions of adulthood. But what about calling when you don’t need something? Have you called home just to see how they’re doing?

I’ve made it one of my resolutions to text my siblings each week. Its small, but its the start of creating a good habit. Creating a communication line between us.  My siblings and I have talked before about wanting to be those cool aunts and uncles who come over and the cousins all get to play each other. When we have created that new life for ourselves with our own families, we want to unite all of them into one big family.

I’m sorry to say this but there are too many people who have regrets about not doing or saying enough before a loved one is lost. Maybe the family thing isn’t for you, but remember you only get one chance and one day that chance might be gone.

I know when I go home for my vacation and birthday I will make sure each member of my family knows I appreciate him/her by giving each of them a little bit of my time. Whether its going to the movies, playing basketball or as cheesy as going to play mini golf (mini gulf isn’t cheesy by the way, its awesome) I’ll give each of them an outing as my way to show them I can and want to stay in touch.

How do you stay in touch with your family?

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July!

I hope all you American Yo Pros are out there celebrating!

Surrounding yourself with family, friends and stuffing your face with hot dogs!

I’m home celebrating with my family and friends… and dog 🙂 

I’m home on vacation so Ask the Young Professional is going to take a little vacation as well.

Ask the Young Professional will be back in full force on Monday!

Until then enjoy this little banner I made when I was interning…

 

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Taxi Lessons from Losing a Laptop

Weird title, huh?

This weekend I’m sure you saw my wonderful babysitting pictures on Instagram. It was possibly the best babysitting gig I have ever had. They even gave me an extra $40 to take a taxi home since it was after midnight. I appreciated everything they did for me and I hope they ask me back soon!

I waited outside the apartment building for a little while; taxis aren’t as popular in this area but they do have yellow cabs which is a plus. When I finally jumped in a cab I told the cab driver the cross streets I live off of. He responded with stumbling confusion not knowing where that was, which is unfortunately normal for me because I live in Brooklyn. It’s usually difficult to find a cab driver who knows all 5 boroughs, which I don’t blame them that’s way too much to memorize! Still, I don’t understand why taxis don’t have GPS’s…

Anyways, I tried to explain where I live with the usual landmarks. I even pulled up the directions on my phone. He still insisted that he didn’t know where I lived and suggested I get another cab. Since I still consider myself a newbie to NY and I am kind of shy in these circumstances I got out of the cab. I was so focused on the problem at hand that I…

FORGOT MY LAPTOP IN THE BACK SEAT OF THE CAB!

Yes… I left my laptop in the back of a taxi cab. Of course I didn’t notice until the cab was out of sight. I was in such disbelief, I didn’t know what to do!

I was going to break down and cry but then I decided that wasn’t going to do me any good. So I went back into the apartment building to ask the doorman if there was anyone I could call. The doorman was really nice. He said there’s no big head quarters for taxis, but that there was a police station just around the corner. He gave me directions and I was on my way.

I found my way to the police station. …I’ve never walked into a police station before I didn’t know what to expect. When I opened the door there were two police men sitting at the front desk. They kindly greeted me and asked how they could help. I explained the story to them and said I didn’t know how they could help but that the doorman had directed me to them. They asked if I got the cab number or any information off the car. I said no. They asked if I paid with a receipt. I calmly explained that I didn’t pay for a ride because the driver didn’t take me anywhere. When they understood that part of the story the expression on their faces were just as surprised as I was when I realized my mistake. They were so kind and sympathetic.

The two police men explained to me that when a cab driver finds a lost item in their cab they are supposed to turn it into the closest precinct. Then they gave me a phone number for the closest precinct. I said thank you and left the station.

I was just going to go home, but instead I stopped to make the call.

I called the precinct. I dialed the extension for the switchboard operator and someone picked up the phone. After explaining the whole story again and why I didn’t get the cab number this person told me that no one had come by yet. He gave me another number for a different precinct and suggested I check back in an hour.

This time instead of calling this number I figured I should  try to get home as it was getting closer to 1am. I found a taxi and before I got in I asked if he knew where my cross streets were. He didn’t know exactly but he knew a different cross street that was close enough and would cut my travel time in half.

At some point during all this chaos I tried calling my parents and boyfriend, but obviously they weren’t available at that time of night. So I just sent them a text saying, “I lost my laptop” so they would know why I called.

The new taxi driver dropped me off at the subway station that I take into work every morning so the walk home really wasn’t bad. It was about $25 so I actually got to keep some extra money which was nice.

On my walk home I decided to call the precincts again. I called the first one again, then the second new one. Neither had seen a laptop come in. On this attempt I did learn that cab drivers usually drop off items at the end of their shift. The police man over the phone told me that since I spoke with the cab driver after midnight his shift would most likely be over at 8am. He also suggested I call 311. 311 is a phone number you call for New York government information and non-emergencies. Apparently there are 8 precincts in NY where a cab driver would turn in a lost item. The police man explained that by calling 311 I could get the phone numbers of those 8 precincts.

When I got home I settled down in my room to call 311. A nice man answered the phone and asked how he could help. I explained my situation and asked for the 8 precincts’ phone numbers. He gave them to me and also told me about 311 online. I could go to nyc.gov/311 to get similar information and fill out a report. After I got off the phone I decided it was time for bed. It was some time between 1:30 and 2:00am so I might as well get some sleep.

When I woke p the next morning it was after 9am so I knew that the cab driver’s shift was over. I called the 8 precincts… still no luck. I went online and filled out the report. It was really easy to fill out. I received a confirmation email where I could stay updated on the report’s progress. 

Since there’s no one big taxi headquarters I decided to look up the taxi garages in the neighborhood I was babysitting in. Turns out there were like 50 something. I didn’t want to count, I just started calling. Some people were nice, some were very short and other offices were closed because it was a Sunday.

There were two men who struck me the most. Both were very sympathetic. The first man was very upset that this happened to me and understood my effort to call as many places as I could. He told me that not all his cars had made it back yet so that I should call everyone I want to then make a second round of calls. The second man was also very upset this happened to me. He gave me some great advice saying I should never get out of a cab once I’m inside. It’s the taxi driver is obligated to drive me where I want. He encouraged me to use a GPS on my phone to direct the taxi driver. Now I know this sounds a little bit like what I had done in the first place, but I could have been more demanding. It was good to here that I wasn’t the one in the wrong here. Next time maybe I’ll be more confident and tell the cab driver what to do.

I don’t know how far I got down the list of taxi garages but I marked my spot to pick up later. I didn’t want to dwell on it too much so I got on with the rest of my day.

I haven’t found my laptop yet so I’m going to call places until Wednesday. My thought is that I gave it a shot and if it’s not in by Wednesday I need to leave it up to fate. I filed out a report so if it does get turned in they should notify me.

I’m not sharing these 1,300 something words with you to cry about my loss and ask you to pity me. I’ve pretty much excepted my faith and am weighing my options for my next purchase. I honestly didn’t really want to share this story. It was a silent lost I wanted to take, but after talking with my boyfriend on Sunday he convinced me this could be a helpful story for you fellow Yo Pros. He convinced me that if I shared my story it might encourage others to do as much as they can with a situation that seems impossible. Yes, the story would’ve been better if I had found my laptop, that would have really proved something, but he pointed out how much I had learned about the NY taxi and police system. Look at all the information I now know for the future:

  • Yellow taxi cabs each respond to their own taxi garage.
  • Know the number of the taxi you get in.
  • If the taxi driver doesn’t know your cross streets try asking if s/he knows how to a subway stop closest to you.
  • Lost items found in a taxi are turned into the closest precinct.
  • There are 8 precincts in NY that cover the 5 boroughs where lost items can be turned in.
  • The person answering the phone at the precinct rotates so if I call at a different time of the day I won’t be calling to the same person over and over again.
  • Taxi drivers work roughly an 8 hour shift.
  • There is a 311 phone number and website I can go to for non-emergency government help and information.
  • Always keep your laptop and other important items in a bag that you never take off while traveling/commuting.
  • You can rely on yourself. You don’t need the safety net of calling mom/dad/boyfriend in the middle of the night to find out what to do.

If you take one thing away from this post (I think it’s my longest post ever), I hope its a sense of perseverance. Perseverance may not get you what you wanted when you set out, but it can lead you to places and people where you’ll learn new things.

My Week Without Headphones

I spent this week challenging myself to not use headphones. Headphones can make you secluded from the world so I thought I would free myself from that seclusion to open myself to the world around me. Instead of being focused on my little world I wanted to embrace others.

I am going to be honest with you… I didn’t do all I said I would in my post, but I did learn a lot so I’m calling it a success. Here’s what I’ve learned….

When I pushed myself to break the silence I found myself genuinely more cheery.

The easiest time for me to speak up turned out to be in the elevator. At first I didn’t know what to say and I felt a bit insecure, but then I loosened up and started with small topics. I started out with just a simple hello or the typical “How about this weather” comment. A couple times I would compliment someone on their outfit. I truly did like what they were wearing, I wasn’t just looking for an excuse to say something. It was nice to break the silence and make the other person smile. Often a little comment would turn into a short little conversation and laughter. I realized after leaving the elevator that I was genuinely more cheery, which makes sense because instead of having a dull elevator ride I had added an innocent moment of joy for both me and the fellow elevator passenger. I left the elevator with a smile and I actually felt more energized. Happy people can get through a long day better than a day filled of solemn moments.

I noticed everyone around me looked miserable. 

Waiting for the subway or riding into the city I was able to notice people more. There were so many people not purposely ignoring each other, only thinking about themselves and so many faces glued to their device. People just seemed cranky. The only people with smiles on their faces were those who were traveling and chatting together. I thought to myself, why does a subway have to be so standoffish?

I remember a few months back when a foreigner who had just moved to New York for business. He just struck up a conversation with me on the subway. I felt kind of uncomfortable because I wasn’t used to that type of behavior, but honestly it was really nice to have a real conversation with someone. I have another friend who randomly met someone on the bus and is now friends with her. We just went to her roof top party last week and met so many more people!

It was hard to break the silence and embrace others around me because that wasn’t the norm.

I found myself needing to give myself a pep talk before coming up with something to say. Especially on the subway… All I could really manage was a polite smile and trying to be conscious of people around me so I wasn’t in their way or bothering them. Sometimes when I did sputter out words they were too soft to hear.

It is kind of sad that its so hard to say something.  Why does it have to be that way? We’re all just people. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could enjoy a light conversation with someone you just met? Maybe that’s why it’s so hard to meet people after college. Most people are stuck in their world doing what they need to get done, missing moments to connect with others.

Overall the week wasn’t as bad as I thought. I could actually hear my own thoughts and didn’t have as many songs stuck in my head all day. I think I’ll continue to use headphones less often. I don’t think I can totally rule them out, but there should be some moderation in my life. I think it will be good to be at peace with the silence and “courageous” to break the silence as well.

Will you take the challenge to put the headphones away? To be at peace with the silence and also be courageous enough to break it?