Not Quite Working As Expected

The past few months have been a bust financially for a few reasons:

  1. I decided to sign up for my next grad school class.  I am regretting the class not only financially but also for the time commitment.  I should have waited until later in the year when I had more debt paid down and more free time.  Now I am stressed out. My company will reimburse 80% of the course as long as I get a B. I will easily get the B, I just have added pressure on me to put as much time as I can into the course to get my return on investment. Even the 20% that I pay on the course is hefty!  I have decided to postpone the second course I planned to take this year until late Fall.  (Cost $1000+)
  2. We put our dog through obedience training.  Our lovable, big dog was getting hard for me to control and had started to nip at me.  We were recommended an obedience school by a coworker and we decided to put him through training last month. His behavior has improved 100%. We are able to take him through all of the basic commands.  Occasionally, he reverts back to his old ways but then we correct him.  Overall, I think it was money very well spent.  If we had the time to train him that would be the preferred approach but due to our travel in the past month and my course, it was easier although expensive to work with a professional. (Cost $1000+)
  3. I can’t stop traveling.  I mentioned in a previous post that my New Years Resolution the past few years has been to not travel.  Well, it turns out that is impossible for me.  We had two weddings in the past month that required flights, hotel, and food costs.  The second wedding involved the added costs of shoes, hair, and accessories which were purchases I had sworn to avoid.  The crazy thing is that I use points and miles for almost all of our flights yet associated travel costs take up such a significant portion of our budget. Beyond the weddings, we also booked a trip to South America in the Fall to attend a conference on wealth and happiness.  It’s totally up our alley and we planned on hitting our debt payoff goals and using this trip as a celebration.  If we don’t hit our goals, I’ll be embarrassed to be around the other participants who I perceive to be so much further along than we are now.  It’s motivation! (Cost $1000+)

 

My Debt Snapshot:

Type Balance Rate
Student Loan $1,177 4.25%
Auto $24,638 1.90%
Store Card $2,974 0.00%
Total $28,789.00

 

The above totals do not include my grad school tuition, the trip to South America, and the associated wedding expenses which I still have on my credit cards.  It stinks because we will have to work on eliminating that new debt before we hit any of the debt we had outlined in our goals for the year. I can’t complain though because we did this to ourselves. I stand behind our spending decisions, it’s just unfortunate that we put ourselves in a situation that will jeopardize our long term goals.

My plan is to payoff the credit card debt first, then attack the auto loan, then payoff the store card, then lastly payoff the student loan.  It seems weird to keep the student loan since its the smallest amount and the highest interest rate but I read somewhere that it can help your credit score to keep debt like that open.  The interest comes out to $4 a month. I’ll continue to research but for now, my plan is to attack my debt in that order.

I have not included Mr. Debt Albatross’s debt because he has not made much progress beyond the minimum payments in recent months.  We restructured our expenses (I am now paying more in utilities, food, and mortgage costs) to help him have extra money to pay towards his debt.  He is not spending very much money at all yet he doesn’t have any extra money to put towards his loans.  We’ll have to re-evaluate our spending and optimize our approach for the coming months.

Side Hustle Update

  1.  We Need More paying clients.  Mr Debt Albatross lost one of his paying personal fitness clients due to injury. We need to step up our marketing so he can get more clients. It seems easier for him right now to write programs for pay versus actual one-on-one coaching. We need to evaluate our options.
  2. We have roommates for now.  We secured two roommates in the past few weeks.  One was for two weeks, one was supposed to be for the entire summer.  The second roommate was offered a family friend’s home to stay for free for the summer which screws that plan up.  We do bring in a bit of income and its been entertaining to have people to talk with in the past week.  Truthfully, I’m relieved. We have a bunch of family and friends visiting this summer and it’s tough to share a house for a long time. We already were notified by our HOA because one of the roommates parked his car literally in the street versus pulling to the side of the road.
  3. We want a rental property.  Still looking for that ideal rental property.  Not finding the $20,000 gems that Paula Pant from Afford Anything seems to find in Atlanta.  We’re interested in a second vacation home rental property but can also see how that could be a bad idea. We’re also interested in multi-family properties as well.  Although we love our current home, I feel like we locked up too much equity in this house.  We should have went for a less expensive property and secured additional loans for rental properties.

The Truth About Buying a House With Your Boyfriend

The Fun Part: Writing Up The Wish List

The first stage of buying a house with your boyfriend is the most fun! You have decided to purchase a home and are now spending hours on Zillow, drooling over what’s available. You have created a wishlist that includes must-haves such as a large kitchen, an updated master bath, and hardwood floors. You may be pinning away on Pinterest and have your favorite HGTV shows on repeat.

I’ve been there.  While we both are very happy with our home, there are a few questions that I wish we discussed further in this stage before buying our home.

  • Is this our forever home?
  • How long are we realistically planning to live in this home?
  • Will we have kids in this home?
  • Is this the best location for us right now?
  • Do we see ourselves at the same jobs five years from now?
  • If we changed jobs at any time, would this location no longer be ideal?

If your answer to the first question is no, then cut your wish-list in half.  Someday, I want to live in a beautiful neighborhood with mature trees, a nice view, and a good sized lot. There was no reason for us to pay a premium to buy a home that fits that description now – but we did.

Similarly, if you are only planning on living in the home for a few years, you might want to re-evaluate your location strategy.  Perhaps you can buy a home in an up-and-coming area and flip the house or rent it out after a few years. We luckily picked a stable area in terms of home value but we didn’t pick a desirable area. If we sell our house in the next few years, we will need to work some major magic to make any profit on the sale after paying closing costs and commission.

If you aren’t planning on having kids in the next few years, maybe you don’t need that three bedroom. We have filled up all of our extra bedrooms with friends and family visiting, and we have roommates, but I do sometimes regret paying extra for bedrooms that we don’t really need.

Location is key. Although we saved money by buying a house in the ‘burbs, and probably save money daily by avoiding bars and restaurants,  we end up spending money on other things (commuting, buying furniture to fill up the rooms, etc).  Additionally, we had put entertaining space as a must-have on our list but now realize that we live too far out from our friends to entertain regularly.

Even if you are 100% committed to your jobs, you should play out where you would want to live if either of you changed jobs in the next few years. We work in two different cities so we chose a home somewhere near the middle of the two. Little did we consider the effect the commute would have on me, the job opportunities that would pop up in other locations for both of us, or the fact that I would remain super happy with my job while my significant other would grow less and less happy with his job.

The Important Part: How Much House Should You Buy

We were shocked by the amount for which we were pre-approved. We ended up buying a home for considerably less than that pre-approved amount, but we still should have bought for even less that we did.

We justified going with a move-in ready home since we thought we didn’t have the extra cash after the down payment for a renovation. This home was priced significantly higher than the other houses we viewed with our realtor since we didn’t really have a set budget. I recommend keeping all of the houses you view within a similar price range so you can realistically compare between them all and to avoid the psychological trap we fell into – of course the higher price home will look better!

We didn’t anticipate the costs of utilities, furniture, and home repairs. We also didn’t anticipate that I would find MrMoneyMustache and would want to become financially independent in the next decade. Some of the money we are paying towards the mortgage I would rather be throwing at our debt or into investments that could help our future. We are not in a bad situation because of the house (we could afford this price) but I can concretely say that we would be in a better financial situation if we had targeted a less expensive house.

Lastly, many experts argue that its fair for each party to pay their percentage towards household income toward the mortgage. We use this approach since we chose a house that we knew going in we could not split the mortgage 50/50.  As the higher earner, I was aware that I would pay a much higher portion of the mortgage and that was fine. I wanted the nicer home that we could afford with my higher contribution. Although not married, we were committed to each other long term, had been living together for 2 years, and I knew that even if things didn’t work out, I wouldn’t regret the extra contribution.

I don’t think all non-married couples would be able to manage this approach everyday. Admittedly, even we have times where we feel weird about it.  My recommendation for non-married couples is to buy a home where you both can afford to contribute 50/50, buy separately, or rent.  Save the remaining money towards your future.

The Real Part: Surviving Post-Purchase

As I mentioned above, we never anticipated the utilities,  the cost of furniture, and home repairs.  We managed to put furniture in each room (with 0% interest credit cards) but barely have any decorations.  (The Pinterest designs I had dreamed of  just never came to life – way too expensive and not what we want to spend our money on right now).

We’ve had a few real adult issues (Carbon Monoxide false alarm, broken furnace, and a pipe leak) that made us freak out and taught us something new about home ownership and upkeep.

We have also made great memories in the home. We love to have our coffee in the morning looking out at the beautiful trees, we’ve invited friends and family to visit, and we’ve started cooking more regularly in our kitchen.  Truly, we love living here.  We love the location – and we are pretty happy in our jobs too. Except when sometimes we hate the location and we hate our jobs.  🙂 hehe

It’s hard to explain but important to know that purchases like a home come with much happiness and much regret.  I think it’s hard to find one without the other. Non-married couples must consider all their choices carefully before making such a large purchase.

Pros and Cons of Summer Roommates

Spring is coming to a close and summer is quickly approaching ~ although the snowstorm that hit this weekend makes me think otherwise! Second year in a row that we have had a Mother’s Day snowstorm.  What is up with this weather?!

Mother's Day Snowstorm

A Trip Down Roommate Memory Lane

It’s time for Mr. Debt Albatross and I to determine if we want summer roommates. We have hosted two roommates prior and had two completely different experiences.  Our first roommate experience was great.  Roommate 1 was all of the things you look for in a roommate. He was clean, respectful, pleasant to interact with, timely with payments plus much, much more.  He was well-traveled, a great cook, down-to-earth, helped out, and the type of guy who you would want to have a beer with and would leave the conversation knowing more than you had before. He was a bonus to our bank account and to our lives. The second roommate, while also a nice guy, did not connect with us the same way as the first roommate and he also struggled a bit on the tidiness front. (In short, Mr. Debt Albatross was not pleased with the way he left the kitchen almost every single night. It created an awkward, tense environment that was not worth the rental income). We were a bit spoiled with our first experience and now a bit jaded after our second.

We took the Spring off from roommates and now have an opportunity to host roommates again for the summer.  The expected rental income would be around $1875 total.  Not a fortune but certainly helpful to our debt payoff goals.

I’m painting a rosy picture of the first roommate situation and it wasn’t all rosy. Roommates are roommates.  You can’t eliminate the inconveniences of having a stranger in your house, the lack of privacy, the hopefully occasional times where they don’t treat your stuff exactly as you treat your stuff because you own it, the fact that they never seem to buy shared goods such as toilet paper, dryer sheets, or paper towels, or the house guests they invite over – hopefully planned guests but the chance of unplanned overnight guests as well.

Remembering It’s Paid Work

Hosting roommates (and I’m using the word hosting instead of having on purpose) takes work.  Home owners need to provide them with a nice place to live in exchange for a check each month. It’s a two way street. Some of the up-front work includes setting up the room and bathroom with furniture, bedding, sheets, towels, soap, shower curtain, a hamper, etc.  The long-term maintenance includes some basic cleaning, provision of the shared goods as mentioned above, addressing any issues that come up, and the continuous work to make living in the home a good place for them. That last item includes pleasant conversation in shared spaces, respect of their space and belongings, and the creation of a neutral or at best pleasant living environment.

Anytime we got frustrated with Roommate 2, I had to remind myself that he is paying us. We’ve all experienced landlords that think it’s a privilege to live in their home and seem to forget the fact that the renters are paying their mortgage. You’ll hear statements like “we just redid the floors, aren’t you lucky?” or the landlord will deduct money from the security deposit because they have different definitions of normal wear and tear than the law. (I had a landlord in college take hundreds of dollars from our security deposit for couch cleaning even though we kept the couches spotless and barely sat on them in the two and a half months we were there.  I had another landlord send us an angry letter that included a rant about not vacuuming the curtains before we left. Dusty curtains are careless but not unforgivable).

In my opinion, Renters aren’t going to treat a home the same way that an owner would – and that’s just the way it is.  Renters don’t have any long term skin in the game. It’s something that landlords needs to accept and consider in their pricing.

Now there is a certain level of acceptableness that is expected from renters. Roommate 2 who would explode food in our oven and microwave without cleaning it up, left the gas burner in the grill on all night then told us the next day we needed to buy a new one, spilled and left trail mix in the couch cushions of our new couch, left food in the sink instead of rinsing it down the garbage disposal every night, among other transgressions – that crossed the line.  The occasional transgression though should be expected and factored into the pricing.

 Figuring Out Pricing and Making It Worth It

We priced on the low side for Roommate 1 for a few reasons. First, we knew what the competition was pricing and we wanted to beat it. Second, we didn’t know any better.  Since then, we upped the rent $15 per month for Roommate 2 and $70 per month more than that for this summer’s roommates. We told ourselves that the reason we were upping the price for Roommate 2 was cable but we’ve realized recently it’s much more than just cable.  We had to pick a price that accounted for the financial and emotional costs of having a roommate (the toilet paper, utilities, the inconvenience, etc).  All in all, we are expecting to make around $20/day on the summer roommate(s) less any expenses.

When I first did the math and saw the extra income came out to around $20/day I was kind of disappointed.  I used to spend that amount each day on coffee and lunch at work. It seems so small! I bring my coffee and lunch to work now but the math is a simple reminder of how important it is to keep doing so. If we’re going to go through the inconvenience of a roommate, we need to make it worth it by spending less.

We ultimately decided to go for it and will be securing the summer roommate(s) later today.  I can only hope we have a situation closer to Roommate 1 but beggars can’t be choosers!

Why I Didn’t Take the Promotion

In the post How to Get Promoted Quickly, I mentioned that I was approached recently with two internal job opportunities.  These opportunities came with increased pay, the opportunity to move to a lower cost of living area, and a greater title. I had posted in the Month 3 Update this past weekend that I was ready to accept one of the jobs.  Well after much reflection and a sleepless night last night,  I rejected the offer. My decision may seem crazy to some folks but it makes total sense to me. There are a few key factors that led me to this decision.

Loyalty is a Lost Art

Millennials are known job hoppers.  Heck, I am a job hopper. I worked at 4 different companies my first two years out of college.  In the age of LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Indeed, employees are inundated with opportunities to jump ship and reminded daily of how much money they can make elsewhere.  (I get an email from LinkedIn every day that tells me “Employers X, Y, Z are looking for candidates like me!”).  It’s clear that the market has improved significantly since 2009 and that employees in key fields are well sought after by employers.

Even though the market is so good right now, there is something to be said about loyalty. My current boss gave me the opportunity to lead a team, much earlier than the average person at my company. My boss prior gave me the opportunity to work in one of the hottest and highest paying fields, despite the fact that I had no experience in the field or degree in the subject.  I am forever grateful to both of them for taking a chance on me and came to realize that it’s wrong to jump ship on the department so soon. I haven’t even been in my current role a year and a half!

I’m dealing with the “grass is always greener” issue with some of my employees right now.  Some of the more junior employees, many of which came into the role straight out of college, are now tempted to leave to chase down better opportunities.  Our department invested time training them to the point that they add value and now that they have marketable skills, they are ready to go. The money and title increase that they can get elsewhere is too enticing.

Well, last night I held up a mirror and realized that by taking the promotion I was just like them. I was chasing money, a higher title, and was abandoning my team way too early.

There’s Still More to Learn

In my current position, I am still learning each and every day.  So junior to my career, I want to make sure that I learn the core business and the basics prior to moving up. Now, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be successful if I moved up right now. I have the confidence that I would.  It just means that when that opportunity does come my way again (which it will) I will perform even better when I get to that next level.

I’m thinking about starting my Masters degree classes again.  I took a hiatus from classes due to the cost but maybe it’s worth pursuing, especially since my company offers partial tuition reimbursement.

Life is Too Short

This last one is super important.  As a young go-getter, I would often put work before my health.  I used to be an athlete and last year I rarely worked out. I avoided scheduling doctors and dentists appointments because I didn’t want to ask my boss if I can come in late.  I came home stressed out after a long day at the office and didn’t feel like doing anything but watch television. Even worse, I was grumpy and sometimes took it out on my significant other. Over the past few months, I realized that health, happiness, family, and friends are so much more important than work. Through my debt payoff challenge, my latest outdoors kick, and my ability to set limits for myself in my current role, I have taken measures to improve my well being.

When I compared the jobs I was offered versus the job I had, I realized the job I had was better for my happiness.  I feel energized by my department, my peers, my boss, and my team.  I knew these other departments were struggling and I would be walking into a stressful situation.  I also know my current manager shares similar views and supports the work-life balance I also believe in.  The exposure I had to the managers in these other roles led me to believe that I would spend my weekends and nights responding to their emails and stressing out about the upcoming week.  I’ve seen tragedy happen to friends and family lately which made me realize that life is too short to be anything but happy.

Sorry, Sheryl

Now Sheryl Sandberg told us all to Lean In, and maybe this decision would be perceived as not leaning in,  but I don’t see it that way.  I think I am devoting myself to my team and exhibiting confidence in my future self.  The money and title will come to me eventually, I know it.

Month 3 – Spending Outta Control

Well, we fell off the bandwagon.

monthly spending update

We didn’t make much progress this month due to a few factors:

  • A trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, FL  (Great trip, huge nerds)
  • Booking hotels for friends weddings on Priceline ($600)
  • Car Insurance for the next 6 months ($750)
  • Excessive Food & Dining Spending due to travel/weekend activities

Oops.  It’s just a major bummer since last month we were *ahead* of our goals. Now, we put ourselves in a situation where we need to payoff nearly $9000 in debt next month to stay on track – yikes!

My New Years Resolution – No Travel

The biggest obstacle to our debt payoff goal this month was travel. We always try to save money when we travel.  We use miles and points for 90% of our flights and hotels. We use coupon codes, Priceline, and shop around for discounts when we can’t use points.  For our latest trip to Universal Studios, we even received discounted tickets to the park since we were going with our friend who is an NBC employee.  Despite all of our attempts to save money on travel, we still ended up spending major moolah due to eating out and other costs.

In 2012, I received the Southwest Companion Pass which allowed Mr. Debt Albatross to travel with me on any Southwest flight for free for two years.  I learned travel hacking skills on blogs such as boardingarea.com and even attended Frequent Traveler University to learn tips. I learned about gift card churning, manufactured spending, mattress running, credit card bonuses, online shopping and cash back portals. With a little bit of effort, we earned hundreds of thousands of airline miles and hotel points in a very short time frame. Thus, we traveled almost every few months during those two years (with points and miles) but still spent more money that we needed to spend between eating out, resort fees, airport parking, rental cars, etc.

While I don’t regret those trips, I know that avoiding travel is best for my wallet in the short term. For this reason, my New Years’ Resolution for the past two years has been to NOT Travel. I made it decently far this year – late March – but then I got the itch and the Orlando trip happened.

We have some weddings coming up where we need to travel but besides those occasions, we are not traveling.  Let’s hope I stay strong in this goal – this is a hard one for me.

Month 3 Spending Struggles

As mentioned above, it wasn’t a great month for our spending.

Category Spending
Home $2,673
Food & Dining $1,233
Travel $774
Auto & Transport $1,494
Bills & Utilities $627
Pets $315
Uncategorized $257
Health & Fitness $158
Education (Loans) $369
Gifts & Donations $75
Total $7,974

On the Bright Side – Our Income is Increasing

My annual raise kicked in April 15th which was nice. I also received a verbal job offer for an internal promotion!  This promotion would mean greater responsibility, more money, and the possibility to relocate to an area with a lower cost of living. I took a lesson from Sheryl Sandberg and am now waiting to hear back tomorrow on my negotiated offer.  Don’t be afraid to #Ask4More, Ladies!

How to Get Promoted Quickly

I have not written about what I do for a living on the blog but it’s important to how Mr. Debt Albatross and I will be able to achieve our goal of paying off $97k of debt this year.

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to land a great job, in a well compensated field, and working for a large company – all important ingredients in the recipe for career growth.  I worked at smaller companies prior and while I found my jobs interesting, I did not see growth potential nor competitive compensation. This recipe for growth (large company, hot field) is not for everyone and is not the only way to success, but has worked for me.

This past week I received my second opportunity for promotion in two years.  I have been promoted years earlier than my peers at the company and I am now at the same level as employees that have 20+ years of experience on me. The recipe for growth laid the ideal foundation for my success but it was up to me to get noticed and climb the ladder. The following is what I have learned to be the key to getting promoted quickly:

For individual contributors:

  1. Get Noticed 

    There are three main components to this one.  The first, get up out of your desk and walk around the office. If you make a habit to talk face to face when you can, you will get issues resolved more efficiently and you will get noticed in the process. Secondly, speak up and don’t be afraid to ask questions.  And when you’re in meetings with the big boss – make sure you contribute.  I have tee’d up direct reports to showcase their talents in front of our leaders in meetings and a few of them blew it – by clamming up and sitting silently in those meetings out of intimidation.  It’s definitely scary to be in that situation, especially the first few times you experience it, but it’s also a huge opportunity to further your career. Lastly, don’t be afraid to promote yourself.  I love when the employees I manage let me know when they’ve done something well.  There is a way to go about it that’s not bragging and can seriously pay off.  I make sure to share my successes with my boss and believe this practice has been fundamental to my growth in the company.

  2. Demonstrate Reliability

    Managers will be more likely to delegate important assignments to you if they trust you. I have a few direct reports that have told me they didn’t do something because of obstacles such as the hotel wifi not working. While their obstacles were real and not just excuses, I really appreciate the direct reports who would have sat on the phone with the help desk even if it took an hour or who would have went to a nearby Starbucks in order to get something done. Showing reliability with little assignments can go a long way to landing the bigger ones.

  3. Present Solutions

    This third item differentiates the average employees from the winners. Many employees go to their bosses with problems but few come to their bosses with three potential solutions and a recommendation.  A can-do attitude is the key.  I have dealt with a employees that spend more time explaining why something shouldn’t or can’t be done and I have a few go-to employees that I know can get anything done.

  4. Stay Above the Fray

    This one is difficult since it can make you happier to have friends in the office but it can also hurt you to be too close to others.  First, avoid commiserating with others about what you hate about the office or specific people.  It will just make you dwell on the negative and feel worse. Second, realize everyone is talking about everyone  – even you – so if you hear something bad said about you, just let it go. If the talk is something related to your performance, it’s best to acknowledge the perception that is out there and then do something to change that perception – even if it’s incorrect.  Maybe 20% of that feedback is right but 100% of feedback is helpful. Lastly, keep your cool in stressful situations. Even if another employee is wrong, tries to engage you in a conflict, or goes off on you – keep your cool and you will come out on top.  And when the situation is over, don’t hold a grudge against the employee.  You’re going to have to work with them again so it’s best for you although difficult to just let it go.

  5. Work for a Good Manager

    A manager who delegates important assignments to you, gives you great coaching, and puts your name out there for stretch opportunities is key.  Next time you are in an interview, evaluate your potential manager at the same time they are evaluating you. My current boss is fantastic – he gives great feedback, delegates effectively, and recommends me for stretch opportunities – the most recent of which is leading to a promotion.

  6. Know the Business 

    Knowing the financials, how your work connects to the overall company objectives, and being able to see and communicate the big picture is key to moving up.  Don’t get caught up in the little things that don’t matter as much to the business and deliver on all of the big things that add value $$$ to the company.

For people managers:

In my experience, all of the items for individual contributors apply to managers with the addition of these important things.

  1. Hire Top Talent

    I didn’t phrase this as hire good people for a reason because good just isn’t good enough.  Hire the best people you possibly can – absolute rockstars.  When I first started hiring my team, I would look for experience in specific areas, would hire someone who I felt could do the job well, and I wouldn’t necessarily wait to find someone who wowed me.  I quickly learned that you are only as good as your people. If you accept nothing less than the best into the company – and you can answer yes to the question “could this person be my next star?” to every person you hire, then you are golden.  Experience with a specific tool or process does not beat out the personal characteristics of a perpetual high-achiever.  If you hire a real go-getter, a quick learner, and someone with polish – that person will outpace the average person very soon into the job.  If your recruiters are not giving you rockstars – work with them to find what you want.  Maybe they need to switch up their approach – headhunting on Linkedin, campus recruiting, etc.

  2. Let Your People do the Work

    Hoarding is a common trait amongst managers but it’s a big mistake. The power of a team is much better than the power of one.  Good managers delegate important assignments to their people, put them in situations that will help them grow, and don’t hog all of the spotlight for themselves. When your people get recognition and praise, it’s a reflection of you.

  3. Don’t be Afraid of Attrition

    If you’re really good at hiring top talent, you shouldn’t be afraid of attrition – the right kind of attrition.  You want to be deathly afraid of losing your stars (outside of the company – helping them find higher positions within the company is a good thing for you and them).  You should not be afraid at all of losing your under-performers.  In fact, you want them out. It can feel really awful to give someone a bad performance review, no raise or bonus, but it’s worse for you and them if you let under-performers coast by without letting them know they are not meeting your expectations. It’s not good to be emotionless in management – you want to connect with your people and let them know you care – but its also not good to let too many emotions blind good decision making – such as keeping under-performers because you feel bad doing anything about it.

I hope this list is not taken as hubris. I received much help, coaching, and a little luck to get where I am today but I thought sharing this knowledge I have acquired might help others looking to get to the next step in their careers.

I am especially passionate about women in business issues and hope that this advice will help other young, female professionals get ahead.

 

Outdoor Living Promotes Happiness

I came to a realization this past weekend as I was staring out at the beautiful mountain views. I need to get outside more often. I spend Monday through Friday in a cubicle, in a car, or on my couch. I spend weekends lounging around the house, recovering from the week. I’m completely missing out on everything that nature has to offer and I can feel it in my mood. I hiked Friday, Saturday, and Sunday last weekend and came out of that weekend a completely changed woman.  It’s late morning as I write this post and I already feel the clock ticking for the day. I want to be outside – now.

 

I think for many twenty somethings, social life starts after dark.  Friends typically want go to to restaurants, bars, and clubs at night. I luckily swapped out bars for breweries a few years ago, but I still was caught up in that type of schedule.  Lounge during the day, hang out with friends at night.  This weekend made me realize that enjoying a craft beverage with friends from a thermos overlooking a gorgeous mountain view is 100 times better than enjoying that same beverage in a bar or brewery after dark.

 

This whole process of Debt Albatross has changed me. I had a friend in town this past weekend and on Sunday she suggested we spend a few hours shopping.  The old me would have absolutely wanted to do that.  The new me tried to hide my distaste for the activity. I don’t see the point of spending a beautiful sunny afternoon walking in well lit stores thinking about buying things I don’t need. I don’t need more clothes. I don’t need anything. I have more than enough stuff from my years of consumerism to hold me over for awhile.

 

We decided to go hiking instead and we both were grateful for it. We took my pup who was extremely well behaved (thanks to the Gentle Leader Leash – one purchase from this past weekend I will never regret). The pup was happier, I was happier, and I think my friend was inspired to start taking up more outdoor activities as well.

Happy pup hiking

Mr. Debt Albatross and I have talked about putting together an outdoors bucket list – a list of activities that we want to do and scenic places we want to see in the coming months. It’s funny because our lists used to be dominated by things we wanted to buy. It’s a major shift for us and it feels great.