Monday, July 28, 2008

Etiquette and Money Cash

Topic: Adult etiquette - adventures in ... dressing up for big events, interacting with other adults, etc.

My Answer:
Wearing black is always safe. I would rather be overdressed than under dressed, but it's okay to ask what the attire is. Casual, business casual, business attire, church attire, pin attire, semi-formal, formal just to name a few. If you don't know what one of those types is, ask for clarification. It's better to be safe than sorry. Also just at work in general it's better to be dressier (is that a word) at first and then notice office norms in terms of what to wear. Plus dress codes can change based on the time of the year or day of the week (i.e. casual Fridays).

At work functions or other events in general I try to tone my exuberant personality down and also not talk about all my college drinking least right off the bat haha. I tend to take in the tone of the event or group and work from there. I don't want to be known as the 25 year old yankee ego maniac - which might be true - but that's not always the best first impression. In a new group of people it's important to not be afraid to start conversations or say hi, but you don't wanna to be overly extroverted right off the bat. I'd say it usually takes 2 or 3 months for people to fully come into their own full personality at work. It's important to gauge where you work, who you work with and who you work for. Clearly we all want to be ourselves, but a part of my personality is that I curse pretty frequently in my "private life" yet I am not going to do that a work, it's not appropriate. And again I may share drinking stories in my personal life, but talking about your hangover from this weekend is not also a very work friendly topic. I think there is for sure a struggle between colleagues, work friends, friends. It's important not to blur certain lines, which can be one of the hardest lessons new professionals can learn.

Topic: Money matters - getting started in the right foot, interesting stories about college debt, BUDGETING for college grads

My Answer:
Don't ask me about money. I don't balance my check book. I thank the banking gods for overdraft protection. Your guess is as good as mine when it comes to my checking account balance, but I also believe that you can't take your money with you so spend it while you can enjoy it. I'm not saying I support working yourself into debt because I don't, but I do support spending the money you have to spend - therefore I guess you can say I don;t support savings accounts.

I have debt - college loans, car loans, a credit card - nothing major. I think last time I checked my credit score was fair, but I am working at raising my credit score to the next bracket. (Sidenote: It's important to keep an eye on your credit score it affects more things than you know...there are plenty of free credit score sites...well they claim to be "free" but they enroll you in something and you have to call to cancel your enrollment. I didn't mind taking the time to cancel enrollment because it did technically get my credit score for free). I learned I could raise my score by just closing out credit card accounts at stores. I think I used my Old Navy credit card once - when I opened the account to get a discount, then paid it off and never thought about it again. In fact I cut the card up, but I learned that those open account do affect your credit score even if you aren't using them. So I am in the process of (well it's on my to do list) closing 2 open, but inactive accounts. I also just last week paid off my credit card debt entirely. I actually do have some money in my savings that I inherited and as much as I like seeing it on my account balance it wasn't worth paying interest on my credit card debt. For the record this is the 3rd time I've paid off my credit card debt entirely. The first time after college with graduation money - most of that debt was from text books. The second time was after grad school with graduation money - again most debt was from credit cards. Now this third time after my first job - but that debt was from when I was first making a real paycheck, but needed to pay for moving expenses, setting up utilities, buying a couch, bed etc all those things I had never done before. So it feels good to be credit card debt free..let's hope I can keep it up.

I don't mind paying my college loans back because I loved every second of college and I kiss my loan check every month because it was money well spent! Same thing about my car payment - was it smart to buy a brand new car right after grad school, maybe not- but I drove the same 1994 jeep for 6 years and I figured I paid my dues. A note about
cars - it is SO easy to haggle, don't be shy about it. Car salesmen want to make a sale, right then and there. You need to play coy and hard to get (something I happen to be an expert at). They will make price cuts and adjustments just to make sales. I also heard that like Monday/Tuesday are good days to buy card because lots are pretty quite. Another time I've heard is days with bad weather rain or snow are good days to car shop because they want a to make a sale.


I wanted to also mention as a side note in terms of "what denomination are we sporting this weekend?" as asked by my friend Kelly. I went to a Methodist Church yesterday. I'm glad I decided to wear a skirt for the 11am service because a lot of people were dressed up, more so that the church last week. This service has A LOT of singing - there was in a full blown choir on the altar. There was only one reading and it was directly from the bible - there were some bibles in the pews, but a lot of folks BYOB (bring your own Bible). Along with the church program an outline of the sermon was included and people were actively taking notes and references their Bibles which was interesting. At this service there was no sign of peace and no communion. I wasn't completely surprised about no communion because I read how a few denominations only do it monthly or so. Next week I'll be home in NY and will most likely go to the Catholic Church I went to in my youth, although it would be interesting to go to synagogue - not that I plan on being Jewish, but I think it would be fascinating.

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