July 2011 archive
I kind of feel like I’m in limbo again. Waiting for various things to come together. In the meantime, life trucks along and I slowly get better at time management and juggling priorities.
How was your week?
Some ideas on streamlining your Twitter feed and cutting down on the noise.
Amber’s five tips to get moving for office workers.
Melissa faces the fear of taking the leap into full time freelancing.
Alex Varley-Winter explains how she got the job she wanted.
Kyla tells us how to balance a creative life with a day job.
Clare counts the pros and cons of government employment.
Been there, done that! Modern love: when he can’t get a job.
How to clean your washing machine on the cheap, via Totally Money.
Serendipity’s guide to looking good on a budget.
Krystal ponders the meaning of financial independence.
TeacHer shares her bargain queening tips.
Sarah Wilson on balancing different – often contradictory – parts of your life.
My Money, My Life shares her Sunday routine and talks about the importance of downtime.
Jess mulls over opening up the dating pool and minimum standards.
First Gen American on living in the moment and not letting life rush by in pursuit of bigger milestones.
A guest post by Annabelle on Serendipity’s Guide to Saving on balancing hobbies and passions.
An ode to female friendship, at Sound Bites
Iowa Girl’s cheesecake stuffed strawberries. How delicious do they look?
Chocolate and peanut butter balls. No baking. I’m sold, thanks Kyla!
You’ve probably already seen the 7 Links project on a few blogs. It’s all pretty self-explanatory, really. I get to look back over my writing and alternately cringe or smile; you get to hopefully read something awesome you missed first time around.
My most beautiful post
Oh dear, already so indecisive. Okay, I’m going with this: My first love was a practice run. This was one of those beauties that just flowed from my fingers – I was in the zone. It’s also one of my more honest posts; opening up online always makes me a teensy bit nervous as to how readers will react. An honourable mention goes to this one: On choices, mortality and nearly losing it all – a bit of prose that again came from a burst of nervous inspiration.
My most popular post
For some reason, my most viewed post is Loving my iPod: a potted history of my relationship with music. As to the one which elicited the most responses, I think my most commented-on post is the proposal post. But it’s mainly about Wellington. Seriously.
My most controversial post
The most polarising post to date has definitely got to be The job-you-wake-up-excited-for propaganda. So much of the rhetoric online is about burning with passion for your work, ditching the 9-5, and nomadic travel/lifestyle design. I don’t agree with all of that.
My most helpful post
I don’t really tend to do how-tos. Maybe my basic guide, How to get the most out of mystery shopping, would fit the bill.
A surprisingly successful post
Definitely one of my early ones, I’m not gonna try to be a superchef – among my top five most viewed. Also Demystifying the introvert from last month, which got Stumbled.
A post that didn’t get the attention it deserved
I did get quite a bit of reaction to That money mentality, but not as much as I anticipated. I think that’s because a) I don’t have a hardcore PF base and money is still taboo for polite discussions and b) probably not many can relate personally.
A post I’m proud of
I’m still sarcastic and prickly, but I’m no longer a total downer, as I detailed in this Reverb10 post on the best decision I ever made. I also have a soft spot for this little post, Dreams. It’s funny how they change.
Screw tagging. Do it if you want to, or not!
Our tropical getaway feels like so long ago. Lucky then, that I’ve only just got around to going through our holiday photos! I took a lot less than I anticipated. Firstly, I didn’t bring my SLR (too bulky, though the images would have been amazing; also, I bought it secondhand, so if anything went wrong insurance would probably be a real hassle to deal with). And neither my iPhone nor point-and-shoot could quite measure up. Secondly, I wanted to really enjoy being in the moment. Something that’s easier said than done for me.
It was Wellington-windy when we touched down at midnight. Also, a live performer, and an actual sniffer dog
I still can’t quite believe we left the country and made it back without any major hassles. I mean, the landing there was the worst thing I’ve ever experienced; my head felt like it was in a vice of pins and needles and about to explode for about 15 minutes straight. I was literally frozen in place, tears running down my face, praying for it to stop. And the time difference had me a bit bamboozled – we could well have missed our return flight, were it not for T. But all in all, there were no major hiccups.
Crab racing at the resort; Trader Jack's seafood platter, show at Te Vara Nui, the view from our garden room
Stepping off the plane, we were given bottled water and an ei (lei) of fresh flowers, before hopping onto the bus. My first thought was that surprisingly, the heat was comfortable – not oppressive! And that’s how it stayed for our entire trip. (Bear in mind I was born in the tropics, but I could never again live in 30-degree temperatures). It was bliss. I hate extreme weather, and I would really like to retire somewhere warm and mild; somewhere like Rarotonga, or at least Rarotonga in July. Actually, T and I talked a fair bit about that, but I think the plumbing and healthcare would be a bit of a concern.
The hut boats at Captain Tama's Lagoon Cruizes, and views from our resort
Unbelievably, I was sitting on the beach with a cocktail on my birthday, followed by a languid swim. I could get used to summer born days. And a couple of days later, we were snorkelling in the bluest waters I’ve ever seen in my life. (Note to self: follow T in the future, because he always finds cool things that I don’t. Like blue starfish, and poo-ing sea cucumbers). Also, did you know squid ink looks like blood?
One of our hilarious tour guides in action, plus the view from the boat
The Captain Tama’s crew also double as the local entertainment; we first saw the band at the Whatever bar, and they serenaded us again before we set out to the marine reserve…
Sweet sweet music, and the sparkling waters of Muri
THEN they whipped up the most delicious BBQ lunch of fish, fried bananas, fresh fruit and coconut, plus some potato salad, before demonstrating how to scale a coconut tree (upside down, no less).
The little Muri island, firing up the cooker, and our intrepid tree-climber
Oh, the food! So fresh, so light. I had a tiny appetite while over there; I think letting go and not having my brain on full tilt for 8-10 hours a day was responsible for that. Instead, I did a pretty good job of embracing island time. Like everyone else, we hooned around on scooters, taking in the sights. We bought a beautiful ukulele from the prison craft shop (the place to go for ukes, we’re told) and saw countless amazing gravestones (it seems family members tend to be placed to rest out in the yard rather than a cemetery as we know it).
Leaving was definitely bittersweet, and it’s lucky we got out on time. People, check your dates and times carefully! I was so paranoid about making our flight out I didn’t think much about our return flight; luckily T got antsy about the time difference and upon digging out out itinerary I realised we had a full day less than I thought.
I prefer not to think too much about how boring waiting in airports is (travelling consultants, how do you do it?) or the surprisingly high departure tax (again, complacent about the NZ end, I didn’t think about leaving Raro) or how many forms there are to fill out (note to self, bring many pens when flying in future).
Instead, I’ll recall sitting in the outdoors restaurant watching the sun set, sipping on mocktails – we cut a bit loose that evening – and slowly savouring our last island dinner.
Tags: holidays, travel
I really don’t have a lot to preface this with, except…WHY DOES MY IPHONE KEEP SAYING THAT THE ACCESSORY IS NOT OPTIMISED FOR THIS IPHONE? And there is NOTHING plugged into it at all. I don’t know what it’s talking about.
At Prolific Living, the secrets to staying motivated in a corporate job.
Accountant By Day asks if your side hustle is interfering with your day gig.
The importance of playing to your strengths, at Get Rich Slowly.
Jasmine on the lessons she’s learned about work and career to date.
Thousandaire explains what to do when you hate your job.
Having just returned from a trip, Yes and Yes’ profile of a flight attendant really intrigued me.
When do you stop working for free? Rachel Hills chimes in.
Some resume-writing tips, courtesy of Publishing Trendsetter.
Ever heard of negative budgeting? Via Get Rich Slowly.
Young and Thrifty explains how to avoid frugal fatigue.
Finding time for fitting in all your hobbies, via Peace and Projects.
Amber shares some milestones on her quest to find balance.
Financial Samurai on increasing motivation and the will to succeed.
Stephany offers some tips on downsizing your living space.
Interesting post on the gay man-straight man friendship, via Blue Milk.
Some love isn’t meant to last forever, says NYC Love Addict.
Little Miss Moneybags talks wardrobe building.
Zen Habits writes about effortless decision-making.
Hilarious and true: Good Wife Bad Wife, by Newlyweds on a Budget.
Two gorgeous and separate dinner bowls, at Dinner: A Love Story.
One of my fave recipes for asparagus parallels this bean recipe from Just a Titch.
Closet Cooking’s version of butter chicken.
Gosh, how is it already the end of July?! Somehow I never got around to our June roundup. It’s spendy, I warn you, and July’s won’t be looking much better.
** Click here for more info on my monthly spending roundups.**
Bus: Right on track. I’ve only just realised it’s actually two stages to work (ridiculous!) not one. Occasionally T picks me up, or I get a lift home from coworkers going my way. And I try to walk there once a week or so if it’s fine outside. If I could be more organised in the morning, I could walk partway and cut that down – but if I’m going to do that, I figure I may as well walk the whole way. I will probably start driving once T replaces his motorbike – I think it will work out cheaper, and I’ll likely have to leave the office for various appointments from time to time as I settle in further.
Debt: T paid that nasty bill to clear his record. Goodbye, savings. Hopefully sis does set up an AP to repay him. Poor money management = cash disappears almost immediately.
Dining out: Kinda blew the budget there, but I don’t regret it – had some great catchups with friends and tried a few new eateries I’d been dying to visit but just couldn’t with our previously opposite schedules…
Groceries: Is high, and I can’t remember why we went to the supermarket twice in the first week. Argh, so long ago.
Holidays: Booked flights to Wellington next month (I loved our first visit so much) and hotel.
Home expenses: Bought new bedsheets and a food processor. It was half price, plus I had some Westfield vouchers which I used to reduce the cost even more.
Insurance: Car insurance for the year.
Medical: Contact lenses, etc.
T fun: Mostly his iPhone.
Vehicle: Five weeks of petrol. Nearly $2.10 a litre *cries*
I also netted an extra 40 in tutoring, and was reimbursed $75 for a mystery shopping assignment. Free meals and drinks FTW. As for savings, that was high as I was paid out my leave from my old job, bringing me so close to my first $10k travel goal.
I now get paid on the 20th of every month, so I’m not quite sure how I’m going to calculate my savings for the calendar month. Any ideas?
Tags: money, spending
Image by Randy Weiner Photography via Flickr
The secret to making a living out of writing does not lie in job boards and content mills.
You gotta HUSTLE.
Maybe you don’t know anything about the journalism industry. That’s fine. But you do need good ideas, to put yourself out there, and pitch. To magazines. To big blogs. To corporates whose websites need a revamp. Whatever. It’s not enough to be creative; you need to get business savvy. In other words, targeting better-paying markets. Real markets. Scary, I know.
Writing is a profession. If you want to make a living from it, treat it as such. Professionals take their business very seriously. They cultivate and maintain relationships with editors. They spend a lot of time on marketing as well as admin (invoicing is probably half a job in itself), and they’re organised enough to juggle multiple projects, multiple deadlines and multiple clients. They carve out niches for themselves; while a broad base is important, specialising is often where the bucks are.
You can bet they wouldn’t waste time writing for eHow.
Tags: career, work, writing
SO glad this week was over. I resorted to a half glass of wine on Friday. Yeah, you know that shiz is serious when I’m dipping into the vino (luckily there was chard available, which I can almost stomach).
On the bright side, I managed to get Foo Fighters tickets (YEAH! Now I just need the Chilis to come back and I’ll die happy), made my first designer purchase (an everything under $150 sale – was a little intimidating in there, but I got in and got out and spent $60 on a dress instead of the original $149), and yep, we splashed out and bought Guitar Hero. One pack was $149, the other a mere $29. STEAL. Not that I really need another reason to procrastinate from picking up my actual guitar, or the mostly-for-decoration ukulele we bought in Raro. (I cannot figure out the tuning; it sounds basically like the EADG guitar tuning rather than the standard uke tuning most sites throw up. What gives?)
Speaking of work-appropriate clothing, is there any such attire that DOES NOT require handwashing – or worse, drycleaning? GAH.
Opposites attract: Geek in Heels is in basically the same relationship as me! She also tackles parenting and the thorny topic of physical discipline.
“One of my biggest struggles has always been reconciling who I am with who I want to be.” Always love Clare at Never Niche.
“Here’s to resilience, to the power of choice, and to making the most of every precious moment we’re given.” Ditto Emily Jane.
Ambition is a double-edged sword, says Krystal.
Manda gets stuck into the patriarchal aspect of Chinese culture.
Give yourself permission to relax, via Nicole is Better.
And a few tips for flathunting, at Totally Money.
Great title! When the overdraft is overrated, at Minting Nickels.
Walking in Heels says sometimes it pays to focus on the big picture to enjoy small pleasures.
Financial Samurai reviews his midyear goals.
A Lotta Lettuce shares the story of how she landed her first job.
There are costs involved with almost any job – quite a lot if you’re a teacher, as Ninja’s wife writes.
Some thoughts by Nicole and Maggie on being a woman in the workforce.
Marian explains everything you’d ever need to know about using Help a Reporter Out.
Kyla Roma whips up leeks, blue cheese and bruschetta on toast.
Hungry and Frozen tackles a chocolate fudge pie.
Lastly, a raspberry coffee cake courtesy of The Joy of Caking.
Sorry for treating you to the most amazing, relaxing week, one of sun and sparkling sand and splashing in the sea just steps from your room on your birthday, and coming back to the most hectic week ever.
Sorry for feeding you the lightest, freshest fruit and seafood, and coming home to winter fare; a country in capsicum and cauliflower crisis ($4 a piece?!).
Sorry that swapping shifts for a regular schedule has left you feeling sluggish (it was much easier to fit in runs before work in the old days – but at least we’re occasionally walking to the office now).
Sorry that things which are good for you (today’s brief tennis game) led to bad things (sinus meltdown).
Let’s get in sync.
Image by notsogoodphotography via Flickr
Gem’s comment on my post Turning 23 > turning 13, in which I recalled some of the things I wanted most in the world 10 years ago, got me thinking.
“Perhaps it seems ridiculous because you now have a boy. Those are clearly desires of a single woman and ones that I held my entire life. Up until I got a boy. Then I scoffed at how ridiculous I used to be. Until I lost the boy. And then my desires went right back to my 13 year old desires….”
True, that’s one way to look at it. But for me, it really boiled down to general insecurity. All through my youth I wanted so desperately to be cool. It wasn’t impossible to be smart and popular but it certainly wasn’t easy and there was no way I would ever manage it. I didn’t have the looks, I didn’t have the personality, I didn’t have the money and I didn’t have the (parental) freedom.
I wanted the kind of charmed life depicted in Cleo and Dolly and the books I read. Summer romances. Lounging at the beach in bikinis, tossing my long, streaked curly hair, a bra I didn’t need to stuff, cute freckles instead of moles and sunspots. Friends who were as close as family, popping in for dinner, shopping together, sleepovers, doing each other’s nails. Instead I was stuck with glasses, my “weird” parents, unfashionable clothes (thank goodness for uniforms), pale skin that never tanned, and later on bad acne.
And of course, a lot of my angst also stemmed from unhappiness with how I looked. (Shock horror.) My body image issues weren’t about weight, but they certainly were about almost everything else. And I was just as concerned with female judgement, I think, as I was with my attractiveness to the opposite sex. I had this warped sense of reality, in hindsight. Thankfully, lot of the things I cared about then are no longer important to me. So I don’t have straight teeth. Perfect skin. Curly eyelashes. Ridiculous things I was at the time convinced would radically alter my life in their own right. Ah, adolescent delusions. Even if I was single, I now know they wouldn’t have. Even if I was single, the 23-year-old me is infinitely more comfortable in her own skin and far less concerned with fitting in. Nor do I have time to spend hours staring into a mirror and obsessing over my physical flaws. Bless you, real world. (And if I really believed my straight lashes were holding me back, I’d go out and buy mascara, but it’s far too much trouble for me to bother with whether it’s a glasses or contacts day.)
That said…it amazed me how getting a boyfriend actually changed everything. This is sad to say and sad to admit, but it was a good thing. I didn’t expect being in a relationship to boost my confidence so much, but it really proved to me once and for all that I really could be liked for me. That even in my ugly duckling youth I wasn’t completely repellent. And that was something I could carry with me forever, from then on.
So…while there are things that were great about adolescence, like our carefree camps out in the Lynfield bush, the rope swing over the edge of that cliff, $2 bus rides into town for an afternoon of mucking around, time to read as many books as I wanted…no way would I want to relive teenagehood and the microcosm of high school.
Tags: life, reflections
Image by FatMandy via Flickr
Tons of you urged us to pretend to T’s family that we are equally broke following the latest saga with them. I love this in theory and believe me, it’s crossed my mind many times – but it’s impossible.
For one, T is pathologically honest. Also, he sees his family a lot. As in, pretty much every week, often more than once (I don’t understand it either, seeing as visits are often short and IMO kind of pointless. But I guess that’s the kind of family they are, where facetime and frequency are important). Moving away isn’t something either of us want to do, either! Possibly for a couple of years, but this is our city and where we see ourselves longterm.
For another, it’s simply not logistically viable. We have a car. We go on the odd holiday (in fact, just returned from our first trip abroad together). We have gadgets (Xbox, smartphones, digital cameras). We even go to concerts from time to time. This is all pretty obvious. If we’re not a total mess, then we are already miles ahead. Trust me when I say the bell curve in this case is rather low.
And while I’m not flashy, he likes his toys, and he likes to show them off. Thinking back to when he had his motorbike, for example; hiding that would have meant not talking at all about the single biggest most exciting thing in his life and not riding it over to visit his mother/sister/nieces etc.
So while we definitely live modestly – within our means rather than beyond - meaning they don’t know the extent of our financial situation, there’s just no way to pretend that we are as broke as any of them. So if we can’t hide it, what to do? I suppose we’re fortunate in that it’s mainly only one family member who tends to need bailing out, and that T now says enough is enough. I honestly do think this is enough for more than just a brief reprieve, but I’m not under the illusion that this will be the end of it.
Have any of you successfully – and completely – concealed your financial status from relatives?
Tags: family, money, personal finance