Monthly Archives: January 2010

Young, Fabulous & Broke? Um, yes.

So last night I bought this book, The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke, by Suze Orman. Well, let’s back up, the reason I bought the book is because one of the things I want to work on in 2010 is taking better care of my finances. I am a horrible saver. Like, horrible. If I can see the money chilling in my savings account, I’m like, sweet, let’s go shopping. Not okay. And I spend money on stupid things all the time. I cannot go in Target without buying socks that I don’t need, a pack of pens and a drink. There goes another $10 down the drain on things that are just unnecessary. I know that eventually I will need a new car and want to buy a house and to do those things, I need to get in better financial shape. Enter Young, Fabulous, & Broke. (YF&B)

Basically, I think this book was written for me personally, after all I am young, clearly I’m fabulous, and most of the time I feel broke, which doesn’t make sense at all. Okay, probably not, but it was definitely written with my current life stage – young, new to the working world, in school debt, etc. – in mind. In the introduction, Orman describes what “broke” is — one of her scenarios was about getting nauseous every time you think about how long it will take you to pay off your student loans — that basically defines my life. YF&B covers FICO scores, savings, student loans, 401ks, home ownership — you know, all that stuff that people talk about but no one really feels like they truly understand. (Maybe you understand it, but if so, then you probably aren’t YF&B.)

I haven’t gotten into everything yet, but last night I read the chapter on FICO scores. Orman talked about what the score was, who uses it and why, and how to make yours better. She answered some reader questions/common scenarios and gave lots of examples. I felt like it was FICO for dummies, which I personally appreciated. Some of the info I already knew and some of it covered things I hadn’t thought about before.

The book also comes with access to the YF&B website which I checked out as well. You take about a 10 minute survey about your finances/current state of affairs and what your biggest financial worries are. Then Suze (and by Suze I mean the computer program) creates an Action Plan for you — Steps of what you need to do to conquer your financial world. So far, I’ve pledged to continue maxing my 401k match.

I’m excited to keep reading and figure out more things I can do to set my self up for a solid financial future. Right now I worry most about savings, my student loans, and planning for retirement. I love that someone out there is thinking about how big and scary and confusing it all is when you first start making your own money. It’s hard to know what to do with it all! And I really appreciated the fact that she didn’t say I needed to save 8 months of living expenses before I did anything else — that would take me like 5 years.

What financial issues overwhelm you? Do you worry about having adequate savings, planning for retirement and paying off your student loan debt?

PS – When I’m finished reading YF&B, I promise to post my overall thoughts on the book!

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You just don’t get it, do you?

So I spent the last few days out-of-town for the wedding of The Preppies. It went wonderfully! Mrs. Preppy was an absolutely gorgeous bride and Mr. Preppy had a blast showing off his wicked dance moves at the reception. They both looked absolutely elated and I am truly thrilled for them. All in all, everything was great and I had a really good time. But….

Of course, I knew the weekend would have some uncomfortable/awkward/sad moments for me. I was the only unmarried bridesmaid and the only person from our law school group who is single — everyone else is married or coupled. Most of Mr. & Mrs. Preppy’s other friends are married or coupled too. (Seriously, there were like 4 people on the dance floor for the bouquet toss…) I thought that I was mentally and emotionally prepared for this. I am used to being the 3rd, 5th, or 11th wheel. Under most circumstances, it doesn’t bother me. But there were several moments over the course of the weekend that were unbearably uncomfortable — further highlighting my singleness:

1) At the Bridemaids Luncheon, everyone wrote down a piece of advice about marriage for the bride and groom. Since I know next to nothing about marriage, I made something up, but I made light of the situation and it wasn’t that bad. After all, this was the first of many wedding events and the chip on my shoulder was still relatively small.

2) At the rehearsal dinner, the room was arranged in tables of 8. I sat with 3 couples and we used the extra chair for the Matron-of-Honor’s laptop to run the slide show. Not that bad…Still a little sad to sit there as the three couples mentioned things about their own nuptials.

3) When the DJ started playing the real dance music at the wedding, I hit the floor with the other b-maids and it was really fun, until their husbands joined us. Everyone paired off and I was clearly putting on a one-woman show. I tried to casually but quickly dance my way back to our table… and to my drink.

4) After the Preppies cut the cake, the best man and MOH gave their toasts. I was sitting at our table, you know, the one with the 3 couples and me. After each speech, the couples would turn and clink glasses with their spouses. I uncomfortably raised my glass by itself and then asked one of the bmaids, who was facing completely way from me, to turn around and toast me so I didn’t look like a loser. She gave me a you-are-being-so-ridiculous look.

5) Lastly, the bouquet toss. I hit the dance floor with the 3 (that’s right 3) other single ladies and the 2 elementary school aged flower girls…. Going out there so that everyone can see that no one wants me is humiliating enough and to add insult to injury, I didn’t even catch the damn thing. The girl who caught it wanted it though — bad.

Okay, so I’m sure reading these little moments individually, the don’t sound so bad. But add to each moment alcohol, sleep deprivation, disliking your appearance (I had some serious hair issues and an eye infection) and feeling like you have to smile endlessly, and maybe you’ll understand why it made for a long and some what painful weekend. To be completely honest, after the bridesmaid gave me the you-are-so-ridiculous look, I thought about going to the bathroom and crying. How pathetic is that?

Don’t get me wrong, I really did have a great time at the wedding and I am really happy for the Preppies, but I was also sad and jealous and lonely. It’s overwhelming to feel so many contradictory emotions at the same time. And let me tell you, SOME people who are coupled/married just don’t get it, i.e. you-are-so-ridiculous bridesmaid. At one point she said to me (when I was really in the throes of my personal pity party, which for the record only lasted 10 minutes) “Weddings just aren’t your thing, like at all, are they?” WHAT?! Weddings are SO my thing! Feeling left out/lonely isn’t my thing. She really, genuinely did not understand where I was coming from at all. Or she didn’t want to.

So to the coupled/married people out there, please, for the love of god, have some compassion. Try to think back to your single days…Believe me when I tell you, they weren’t quite as glorious as you remember them to be. (I’m sure you’ll be quick to tell me that being married isn’t as amazing as I have imagined it to be either, to which I say, fair enough) Remember what it felt like when all of your friends were dating/married and you weren’t or how silly you felt trying to catch that bouquet/garter or how embarrassing it was to ask a friend to help you find a date for a date party. And after you remember all that, include us. Take some time to turn away from your spouse and talk to the single girl at your table who is trying her darndest to keep her chin up, a smile on her face and the conversation going. She’s busting her ass to look single and fabulous even when she doesn’t feel it so give her a little support.

And to all the coupled/married people out there who are considerate of their single friends, thank you. Thank you for not thinking we’re ridiculous and for having your husbands open doors for us and letting your wives come out to play for girls night out. Thank you for making us feel like it’s okay to be where we are — not like we are pariahs.

After all, single isn’t a lifestyle choice or a disease, it’s just who I am right now.

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The Decade of Weddings

DISCLAIMER TO BRIDES–CURRENT, FORMER AND FUTURE: Please don’t be offended by my musings and for the love of god, do not take them personally. I love you. I loved your wedding. I loved getting to be in your wedding. I loved carefully and meticulously wrapping the gifts I selected from your registries for you — this is something I both agonized over and relished. I promise, I really did. This post is about me and how attending your weddings collectively has made me feel, not about your individual ceremonies at all. Please, I beg you, don’t take this the wrong way…

One of my favorite people, Miss Preppy, is getting married this Saturday — Congrats to the lovely bride and groom-to-be! I have the absolute honor and privilege of being a bridesmaid. Miss Preppy has been one of the most relaxed, easy-going brides I’ve ever met! (Snaps for Miss Preppy) As I thought about what I would be wearing for all the various wedding events and what friends I would get to see, I also thought about the fact that I will be going to yet another wedding alone… Lovely. I also wondered how many weddings I’d been to in my life, or at least in the last five years, so I made a list. Since I turned 20, I have attended/been invited to…..[drum roll please!]…..

30 Weddings!

Of the 30, I actually attended 21 and of those 21, I have been a member of the bridal party in 5. At first 30 seemed like a lot, and then thinking back through them, maybe it wasn’t so many. Then again, 30 weddings in 5 years might as well be a million! But like I said, I didn’t attend them all. The scariest part? My 20s aren’t over and I still have plenty of single friends. There will be no lack of weddings in my future.

For the record, I love weddings. (See my About page) I love the dresses and the vows and the flowers and all the little details that you think no one notices – I notice them. That being said, I feel as though I have devoted a significant portion of the first half of my 20s to other people’s nuptials. I have helped with dress selections and cake tasting and envelope stuffing. I have thrown (and attended) my fair share of showers and bachelorette parties (all with pretty fabulous themes I might add!) My mom always says that I should feel really great about this — she was a never a bridesmaid for anyone and I should feel honored that so many people consider me a good friend. (2 points for Mom) I do feel special and fortunate and blessed to participate in such important parts of my friends’ lives. And I do love to do it all – the planning, the addressing, the gifts — it’s all really fun. But is it all too much?

If went back and added the amount of money I’ve spent on wedding-related items (dresses, travel, gifts, showers, etc.) I would probably have enough to throw my own wedding! Or at least a really rockin’ birthday bash. Honestly, it isn’t about the money though. I think my irksome feelings are really about feeling like I’m too young for this, I’m out of step with the people around me because I’m not getting married and I’m more focused on being married than I should be because of the sheer volume of weddings I’ve attended. (In the summer time, Miss H, Miss PoliSci and I can’t even seen our glorious David Beckham poster on the fridge because every inch of it is covered in wedding and wedding related invitations!)

I’m only 25, right? I have plenty of time to meet someone. I have plenty of time to get married. But it never feels that way when I watch another one of my gorgeous friends walk down the aisle to her perfect mate and I couldn’t even scrounge up a guy friend to play my pretend date for the reception, if I was allowed to bring a plus-one at all. I know my time will come, he’s out there, blah, blah. But I can’t help but wonder as I pack my bridesmaid bag yet again, will it ever be my turn? And perhaps a better question, has all the hoopla (and champagne) clouded my judgment and made me think that I should be on a marriage path right now, even if that isn’t necessarily what’s right for me?

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Part II: More Success = Less Marriage?

I realize that in my previous post I didn’t actually offer any opinions on the barrage of questions I presented so shame on me. My personal thoughts:

1. Some people assume that because I am an attorney I am a highly motivated career-oriented individual. Clearly, these people haven’t actually met me.

2. SOME men are threatened by “successful” or “professional” women. (I’m not suggesting that I am either of these things, but there is a common misperception about my profession. See #1)

3. I think , the more highly educated you are, the more of an intellectual snob you are. I am insanely guilty of this. I’m not saying that I don’t associate with people who spent less time in school than I did — these people are my very smart friends who did not waste thousands of dollars on degrees that aren’t necessarily worth it — I am saying that I am more interested in, for mating purposes ONLY, well-educated, intellectual men. I know, ridiculous. I feel bad actually saying it out loud.

So when you add #1, 2, and 3, where does that leave me? Super single! Partially my fault, partially theirs. So is there a man out there who is smart, well-educated and okay with the fact that I am too? Man, I really hope so.

As for being the breadwinner, obviously that’s not really something I can control. You love who you love and sometimes that means traditional roles are reversed in terms of who is bringing home the bacon. My mom has always been the breadwinner in my family and my dad has always had more flexible working hours, which was a huge benefit to us all growing up. It seems to work for them so who is to say it won’t work for me some day? On the other hand, my sister is fortunate enough to stay home with my awesome nephew and that seems like it would be a pretty amazing experience too. Plus, I’m not the most financially disciplined person so being in charge of the family’s dime scares me to death! Really, this isn’t something I can plan for anyway, so I guess there’s really no point it worrying about it now! I think I need to get back to step one: find a mate! Haha.

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More Success = Less Marriage?

I saw a piece this morning on Good Morning America (legitimate or not, it is my favorite news source) about marriage.  According to GMA, less people are getting married in the United States over all than 30 years ago and 1 in 5 women makes more money than her husband (Woot woot! — not that I think men shouldn’t make money, but I think this stat suggests that we are making some strides on the equal pay for equal work front). One of the women interviewed suggested that African American marriages are down (like 40% down) because more African American women are getting college educations, owning their own businesses, and generally having more success in the professional world so there are less men who for them to date.

You can check out the GMA piece at:

http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory?id=9598134

So, of course, this got me thinking about the relationship between professional/financial success and marriage. Men with great jobs and big bank accounts are always winners in my book. (No, I’m not a gold digger. But I appreciate any person who has it together and is on a successful path) But are women who are equally successful at a disadvantage? Did we handicap ourselves on the marriage front because we spent more time in school or we work more than 40 hours a week? Are men threatened by professionally successful women?

The short answer: I have no freakin’ clue. But I have thought about this and discussed it with friends, especially Miss Agnes, who is fantastically bright and works her tail off because she wants to be the best attorney she can be. Miss Agnes and I often ponder how we will find our intellectual/professional equals for mates, especially when we’re trapped behind our desks for far too many hours a week. (Okay, to be fair, she works a lot more than I do.)

I was once at a party with Miss Dubs while I was still in law school. A cute, eligible, hunk of a man (Seriously, I feel like hunk was the best word choice to describe him) struck up a conversation with me and it was going well, until he asked what I did. I said I was in grad school. He of course asked what I was studying. I mumbled, between large swigs of my adult beverage, “law.” Long pause. “So you’re in law school?” I shrugged, “Yeah.” Another pause. His response: “I’m gonna go get a drink.” And that was the end of that. Later, I told Miss Dubs that I was never telling anyone I was in law school again. But seriously, does the fact that I’m an attorney push men away? Do I sound scary or intense? Do they think that I’m too successful? (Clearly, they’re confused if that’s what the impression is!) And is it about all professional/career-driven women? Or do people just think that lawyers are just plain scary in general?

Furthermore, the statistic about 1 in 5 women being breadwinners seems like a step in the right direction for the feminist movement, but (I feel incredibly guilty saying this) maybe I don’t want to be the breadwinner. It seems like a lot of pressure. And I want the option to stay home with my hypothetical children at some point. I feel like if I were the breadwinner, I would have to go back to work. I mean, technically, even if I’m not the breadwinner, I will still very likely have to go back to work. Is it anti-feminist of me to not want to make more money than my hypothetical husband?

I could probably talk about this for days and days… Thoughts? Feelings?

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Background Check.

So here’s what you need to know about me…Okay, more like here’s what I’m willing to tell you at this point in our very new virtual relationship.

1. I’m in my mid-twenties.

2. I’m an attorney. (Insert gasp, lawyer jokes, grimaces, etc. here)

3. I hail from the great state of Oklahoma. (No, that is not sarcasm in my voice.) I love the smell of waving wheat, the wind that sweeps down the plains, and the Oklahoma State University Cowboys.

4. I am super single; by this I mean, I am single and not talking to/dating/casually boning/or even crushing on anyone. I may be more single now than I have ever been in my life.

5. I have been a bridesmaid five (5) times. My knowledge of all things weddings is rather immense for someone who has never actually planned her own. I read the blogs. I buy the magazines. I am a self-professed Wedding Addict. I’m sure one day this will pay off, but right now, I just look as crazy as Monica did on Friends when she whipped out her giant wedding scrapbook the day she got engaged. I will so be that girl. And no, I am not proud of it.

6. I consider myself an avid reader and am currently involved in two book clubs — one online and one in real life. Both are new adventures for me and I’m looking forward to seeing whether they are actually fun or they just sound fun in theory.

7. I go to church. I love Jesus. I struggle daily with my spiritual desires and worldly desires because they are frequently at odds.

8. I am in a constant battle to lose weight. I love food. And surprisingly I love exercise. My two loves have been fighting an epic battle since I was about 16… More on that later…

9. My parents have been married for 30+ years. I have a brother, a sister, a brother-in-law, a fantastic nephew, and a neice/nephew on the way. I blame these people for most of my neuroses and all of my success.

10. I also have a bevy of diverse (I mean in terms of personality, sadly not ethnicity) friends who both keep me sane and drive me crazy on a regular basis. I’m sure you will become very familiar with their quirks and antics as our virtual relationship progresses….

So here’s to our budding, virtual relationship, to the blogoshpere, and to all the misadventures to come, which I hope will entertain you, probably make you feel better about your own crazy life, and maybe shed some light on the harsh realities of our twenties. You know, the ones no one ever prepared us for.

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