Guest Post: What Would Gail Do?

 Hello! My name is Vanessa and I write a little about everything at Random Thoughts & Acronyms. I’ve just finished my major requirements in Economics at McGill and am working on my minor in Urbanism. Coupling my BA with a technical degree and experience as an immigration paralegal and I will be qualified to get a job as… hmmm, not much… when I graduate in December. I am an English Québécoise and adore personal finance, TV and cooking. I try to live as simply and as minimally as possible with the hopes that one day I’ll get an amazing job that will require me to immediately leave Montreal and never return.

I’ve been watching Gail do her stuff for years now – first on ‘Til Debt Do Us Part and now on Princess. I love her in-your-face attitude towards money and my exposure to her advice at such a young age definitely shaped me into the financially responsible person that I am today.

Throughout my teens and early twenties ask myself, “What Would Gail Do?” (WWGD) mantra – Should I buy new shoes? No, I should save this money. Can I afford to go on vacation? Nope, I don’t have enough saved up yet.

So recently, when I thought about quitting my job, I did my WWGD mantra. When you first look at the facts, I sound really flaky – “My job is boring”, “I don’t like my boss”, “I have better things to do” and for many weeks I continued to go to work based solely on Gail’s voice in my head saying “You think you’re better than this? Do you think that you’re special and don’t have to work?”

Recently I got accepted into Canada’s Explore program and I will be studying French in Winnipeg for five weeks in July. My boss told me, in no uncertain terms, that I will not be able to use my vacation time to go and that my only option would be to quit. I accepted this and resounded myself to being unemployed come June 30th.

After this conversation with my boss, things at work went from bad to worse. I began to feel sick just thinking about going into work and began to miss more and more days of work. Throughout all of this, I still had Gail’s voice in my head that was telling me to get back to work and deal with the problems. I began to come home every night in tears, complaining to my boyfriend about how horrible my boss had been to me that evening.

Finally my boyfriend suggested that I quit my job. I confessed to him that I didn’t feel comfortable doing so as I had bills to pay and I was already planning to not work for the months of July and August – what was I supposed to do, tap into my savings? Gail would not approve.

Fortunately, new episodes of Princess were online and, as I was watching these spoiled GTA girls get their comeuppance, I had a realization – savings are 100% for cases like mine – I wasn’t being princess-y at all! I discussed it with my boyfriend (who incidentally, thinks I’m absolutely nuts) we decided that the answer to “WWGD” in a situation where I’m six weeks out of quitting my job anyways and coming home every day in tears but, oh yeah, have a large cash reserve, is “quit your damn job”.

And so, one day last week when my boss slammed his office door in my face as I was telling him that there was a mistake in the schedule (I was scheduled to work a position I’m not trained for on a day that I’m not available), I waited until he calmed down and politely told him that I would no longer be working at that company. Thankfully, WWGD-ing all these years has allowed me to save enough to not be forced to work at a horrible job just to pay my bills.

Guest Post: Balancing Personal Finance & Family Obligations

Hello! I am SavvyFinancialLatina! I write about learning how to manage career, life, and money in a savvy way. I am 21 and about to graduate with my Master’s in Supply Chain Management. I recently started writing about my personal experiences and have quickly fallen in love with the personal finance world. Bridget has given me the great opportunity and honor to write a guest post this week. 

I got married this past August with the love of my life. He is a college senior, and I am about to finish my Master’s in May. We are the same age by the way! :) We have been living on a very student budget this year. Our inflow of cash consists of his paycheck ($1,000 per month) and my scholarship stipend. In addition, we have some money saved up for those perky emergencies like the $615 we had to pay for car maintenance early this month. I manage the budget, and try to stretch our dollars as far as possible. Now, this doesn’t mean we don’t eat out or splurge here and there, but it’s definitely not as frequent as we’d like! We know that as soon as we graduate and get jobs we will have a little bit more money coming in. I am so looking forward to that by the way!

Now, we live close to his family who is only about 35 minutes away, so we see them more often. But, my parents and little brother live farther away (about 6 -7 hours roundtrip). I have been feeling a lot of pressure from my parents to come visit them more often. I understand my family misses me, but there are two reasons we don’t frequent them as much. First, because we are pretty busy with school, and second, because we spend about $200-$300 per visit. Gas, dinners, and little gifts add up quickly. When I mention this to my mom, I just get a respond that money should not matter and should not keep me away from family. Plus, if we really need money, they could give me some. I don’t want my parents to give me money. I think that we are doing okay surviving on our own. Not to mention that my dad is currently between jobs, and my mom is working more hours. I just don’t know how to breach the subject with her. Every time I mention money, she turns it around on me, and makes it seem like all I care about is money and not family. I am also facing pressure from my family in Mexico to come visit them. Now that visit will be $1,000 (airplane + other expenses) just for me. I have mentioned to my grandparents that right now we are not in a position to spend, and we need to wait until we are more secure. My grandparents, who come from humble roots, also have offered to pay for me.

Some of you are probably wondering why I don’t take the money from my parents and grandparents. After all, we are only 21. But, I want us to be independent. How else are we supposed to grow up, unless we realize how to take care of ourselves?

It’s definitely a dilemma I will be dealing with the rest of my life. My parents want me to be independent, but they expect a behavior of a person who’s not smart with their money. It’s funny too, because my parents are always criticizing their relatives who financially support their older children. I have married cousins who have kids, and still live under the same roof as my uncle and aunts.

I have spoken to several people about what to do, but I am still at a loss. We are going to visit my parents this weekend, even though honestly we can’t afford it. We have already dipped into our savings this month! So, at what point is it okay to ignore the budget for family? Do you have any personal experience you could share?

If you want to keep up with me, you can follow me on Twitter @SavvyFinLatina! Thank you for reading! Or check out my blog http://savvyfinanciallatina.wordpress.com/

Guest Post: I’m Not A Bitch, It’s Just That You’re Ripping Me Off

The following is a guest post from TeacHer Finance! She teaches high school in D.C. and like the rest of us, is seeking a balance between saving for the future and savouring the present. She writes a candid finance blog about being broke in a good way and even gives insight to what Sigmund Freud probably thought about personal finance. Enjoy!

There is strong evidence to suggest that I’m a bitch. 

Consider the following:

  • When I’m driving and people cut me off, I give those people the finger. A lot. (Come on guys, you’re on the road in D.C. – you know what you signed up for!)
  • My response to stupid questions is a long stare. I make no effort to be nice to people who ask questions like, “Wait, what state is Washington, D.C. in?”
  • I will point it out when someone is being rude. Like the person in front of me in line who said to the cashier, “could I talk to someone who speaks English?!” got a, “Hey, that was rude!” from the person behind him. The person behind him was me.

So yeah, I might be a bitch.

But ladies, this bitch has something important to remind you! Speaking up about your money does not make you a bitch. So many of us worry that others will think we’re being “aggressive,” “pushy,” or, yes, “bitchy” if we speak up about getting ripped off. So we keep quiet, play nice…and stay one financial step behind our male co-workers and friends who weren’t afraid of speaking up.

Which is not to say that it’s good idea to go stomping into your boss’s office, take her hostage, and demand a raise. In other words, we can strike a balance between being doormats and shooting off like a canon at the smallest slight.  I have a hunch that what most women want is a way to be assertive without seeming hostile or unreasonable. So I’ve compiled a list of un-bitchy – yet still effective – conversation starters and come-backs to help you get what you deserve without putting people off:

“Your salary offer is lower than the figure I was expecting; I’m hoping we can compromise.”

“I’m writing in response to your ad on Craig’s list. I LOVE the red leather chair. Will you accept $75 for it?”

“I’m calling about the used car you’re advertising on your site. To be honest, $20,000 is high for that model. Are there special features you didn’t mention or are you wiling to negotiate?”

“No, thanks. I don’t buy extended warranties. Yes, I’m sure.”

“Actually, no, $150 isn’t much better than $175. What other promotions are you running right now?”

Try one out today!

Guest Post: How To Have A Thrifty French Valentine’s Day (whether you hate it or not)

The following is a guest post from Annabelle! She is a librarian and nail polish addict living on the frigid Canadian prairies (this involves a lot of fun tights and glasses). She’s been trying to balance her shopaholic-ism with frugality and French fashion for the past year. Follow her progress on www.shoppingdetox.com

So, I think we can agree on two things first off: Paris is the most romantic city ever and people either love or hate Valentine’s Day. No matter how you feel about it, you can celebrate it in more or less the same way – watch a film, eat some food, and drink some wine.

 

Part 1: Watch a movie
- These days, watching a movie at home is ridiculously thrifty. It also allows you to stay away from the movie theatres full of couples watching films, which can be annoying whether you’re a V-Day fan or not.
So, lots of people subscribe to Netflix or other streaming services, and even though video stores are closing all over the place, your local public library should have most of these in stock as well. If you’re coupled up, snuggle up with one or all of your lovers to watch these; if you’re flying solo, cuddle up with your cat and/or some popcorn, a box of wine, and enjoy!

Movies for Valentine’s Day lovers:

- The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1960s French movie musical about love and loss, all while Catherine Deneuve flits about in amazing outfits and hair accessories)
- Paris Je T’Aime (recent short-film collection about various stylish people falling in and out of love in Paris – including the always gorgeous Rachel Bilson)
- Funny Face (Audrey Hepburn does an update on the Ugly Duckling story, going from geeky bookstore employee to glamorous fashion model, falling in love with Fred Astaire along the way.)
- An American in Paris (Gene Kelly plays an artist who, for reasons unexplained, also likes to dance a lot. He falls for the gorgeous Leslie Caron, and who can blame him? Lots of dancing along the Champs-Elysees)
- Before Sunset (the sequel to the Vienna-set Before Sunrise sees Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy reconnecting in the City of Love)
- Amelie (the gorgeous, socially awkward Audrey Tautou sets out to do random acts of kindness for other people, meanwhile not noticing that she’s kinda fallling in love herself)
- Ratatouille (you may just remember the whole rat-cook thing, but the chef guy falls in love with the Janeane Garofolo character, plus it’s cute to snuggle up to a Pixar film any day of the year)
- Julie & Julia (if you ignore the Amy Adams bits, it’s actually a very sweet love story about Meryl Street and Stanley Tucci playing Julia Child and her husband. In France.)

Movies for Valentine’s Day haters:

- Charade (OK, so Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant have witty repartee and kiss once or twice, but they’re too busy running for their lives and being stylish to worry much about love)
- Chocolat (yes, there’s a bit of a love story in this one, but it also has Johnny Depp and it’s all about making CHOCOLATE! Altogether enjoyable)
- Nikita (1990) (this is the original version of the story of a gorgeous woman trained to become a kick-ass female spy. This one’s in Paris!)
- Le Samourai (this is a moody 1960s film about a French assassin who dresses impeccably and takes on one job he maybe shouldn’t have.)
- Diva (1981) (This 1980s French movie is so surreal and weird, you won’t have time to think about Valentine’s Day while you try and keep all the various conspiracies straight.)
- District 13 (2006) (this features stunt men in the lead roles of kick-ass French parkour experts living in a futuristic France.)
- Before or after the movie-watching portion of your Valentine’s Day, I recommend making a delicious French meal for yourself and/or your lover/lovers. Some easy, thrifty ideas include an omelette (all you need are eggs, cheese, and some random veggies), leek soup (super-easy, but you need to remember to brush your teeth after to get rid of the oniony smell if you plan to kiss anybody), and of course, fancy cheese.

- Wine. Whether you’re on your own or not, toasting Valentine’s Day with a good glass of wine is always in fashion. I also think wine is one of the things where you get what you pay for, so if you’re a superfan of Valentine’s, then it’s worth the splurge to get something delicious. If you’re up for it, I’d recommend a bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne. So delicious. So fancy. And then you can keep the bottle for decoration afterwards!
See, it’s super-easy to have a Valentine’s Day celebration in a thrifty French style, whether you’re a fan or not!