Wednesday, August 31, 2011

a small (and scary) step towards independence

I reached an important milestone in my journey to adulthood yesterday: I purchased my first car completely on my own.

After much research and deliberation, I settled on a 2011 Honda CR-V. I’m in love. It’s a great little buggy with 4wd and a sunroof. In a perfect world I would have gotten leather, but I couldn’t justify the extra $2,000. Plus, having to peal my thighs from the seat after a 10-minute test drive wasn’t all that appealing. I’ll take cloth, please.

It was an exciting day, of course. But it was also very stressful. My mom calls it “good stressful.” Maybe when I’m halfway through the payments it will be “good stressful.” For now, it’s just stressful.

The new payments won’t put that much strain on my finances. I live at home rent-free, I have minimal student loans, and I’m pretty responsible with money. Ideally, though, I’ll move out before I’m 30 (if you’re reading this, mom and dad, I can’t promise anything).

And lets be honest, rent is not cheap. The thought of paying rent actually makes me nauseous – mostly because it’s money thrown away. There’s no investment there. At least I’ll own my CR-V some very far away day, so I can justify the $400 monthly payment. But I also can’t justify an hour-each-way commute. I do it now and it’s hell. So if I end up working in Boston, I won’t have much of an option when it comes to renting.

Anyways, it’s not so much the new car payment that stresses me out, but the thought of having a car payment on top of rent and whatever other bills come my way in the next 5 years. I’ve come to accept that I probably won’t be making the big bucks as a journalist, so $1500 (give or take) a month on living and transportation alone is kind of a lot.

How do people do it AND save? It seems impossible. And I don’t buy that it has anything to do with my generation and our poor work ethic and/or obsession with materialistic things. The cost of living and education has grown dramatically while wages have stayed relatively the same.

Think about it.

A $400 car payment for a very modest vehicle (I’m not driving a BMW people) is a lot for someone who makes approximately $500 a week. That’s basically a quarter of my income. Imagine is if I had $400 in student loans and $800 in rent to pay on top of that each month? I’d be left with $400 for food, gas, other necessities and fun.

Maybe I will be at home till I’m 30, at least.

Friday, August 12, 2011

One Unsolicited Lesson for The Job Search

The job search has been on my mind a lot lately as summer quickly comes to a close. The thought of finding a real, full-time job does elicit a sense of anticipation and excitement from time to time, but more than often it causes pure anxiety. Where to even begin?

I undoubtedly have the experience, and I think I've built a nice little network along the way through my internships and graduate studies. But I always have a lingering concern that I could be doing more. So my worrywart self naturally had the job hunt on the brain once again today.

I was browsing through the Letters to the Editor on Boston.com, and I stumbled across one from a Brandeis graduate titled “It was just one unsolicited email, and she read it.” The author explained that during his first year in law school he sent Myra Kraft an email seeking advice for breaking into the business of sports and entertainment law. Some time later the student received an e-mail from a senior attorney working for the Krafts regarding their office and legal internship program. Not only had Kraft read the email, but she had taken the time to help the young man out as well.

The author’s story perfectly exemplified the type of woman Myra Kraft was: genuinely kind and thoughtful. He wrote to illustrate just that, and he did so successfully.

But the letter did more than that for me. It showed the importance of having a go-getter attitude. The author was pleasantly surprised when he received a response. He obviously wasn't expecting one. But he sent the email anyway; what was there to lose? Nothing. Just a whole lot to gain, and he got lucky.

Good for him. Closed mouths don’t get fed.

Moral of the story: Be kind, but also take risks when it comes to looking for work, regardless of how far-fetched it may seem. Got it.