The Reality Of Living In New York City In Your 20s

New York City Reality

As a 20-something living in NYC, I’m well aware of the financial challenges young adults face living in this city. Yes, it’s one of the most exciting places to live in the entire world. But it’s also one of the most unforgiving cities to live in.

I know many 20-somethings who dream of living in the Big Apple. We’re mesmerized by the bright lights, shiny buildings and fast pace. But behind all of that is a tough reality. It’s one thing to survive in this city but it’s a whole other thing to thrive. So what does it really take to live in New York City for a 20-something? Let’s take a look at the reality of it.

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Avoiding The Temptation of Lifestyle Inflation

6988181354_9384f994ebIt’s that time of the year! Yes, tax time but I’m talking about performance reviews at work.

While performance reviews can be a major pain in the you know what, I’m sure we all look forward to them for two reasons: 1) possible promotions and 2) yearly raises. I recently went over my performance review with my boss at work. Since I been in my current position for less than a year, I wasn’t expecting much of a raise and just like I expected, I didn’t get much (even though I got a pretty stellar review, yay!). I received just about a 2% raise, along with a bonus, which is pretty sub-par but again, I’ve been with the company less than a year.

This leads me to my topic of discussion today – when you get a raise, is it OK to increase your spending?

Lifestyle inflation is tricky. On one hand, you’ve worked so hard to earn that extra money, don’t you deserve to live a little? On the other hand, if you’re making more, shouldn’t you save more? Why do you need to “live better” just because you make more now?

In 2013, my income increased significantly. I accepted a position at a new company, with a better title, bigger responsibility, and more money…. considerably more money. I saw my income increase by 30%. While money wasn’t the only reason I decided to switch jobs, it was certainly a large factor. When I got my first paycheck, I couldn’t help by think “damn, what should I buy!?” Luckily, the frugal side of my brain kicked in before I could spend it.

Since then, I’ve inflated my lifestyle very minimally, which means I’m saving at a much faster rate. Here’s why:

I was already happy with the lifestyle I was living. Before I switched jobs, I was already happy with the lifestyle I was leading. I lived very comfortably in a decent apartment, spent quality time with family and friends, and was already out of debt. Spending more money wasn’t going to make my life any better. I stayed in the same apartment, continued to occasionally go out for drinks, and lived my life pretty much the same. I was still happy and my bank account even happier.

I have longer term, financial goals. One of the biggest reason I didn’t go out and splurge on fancy things was because I have longer terms goals. I had everything I wanted in the short term. My goal was to save up for the future. Things like longer term traveling and purchasing property were, and still is, important to me. I didn’t want to waste my pay raise on frivolous items like new clothes that would only make me happy for a very short period of time.

I can’t buy happiness. I truly believe that money can’t buy happiness. I think people get confused between true happiness and the illusion of it. Yes, it can make your life a whole lot easier and it’s a means to finding happy but it’s not the root cause of happiness (disagree with me if you want but I’m a firm believe in this!). I certainly was glad to be earning more but I don’t want to let that consume me. Money is important to me in the sense that it gives me security but my goal in life isn’t to swim in cash.

On the flip side, I hate when people say that you should act like nothing has changed if you get a pay raise. You’ve earned it and it’s OK to treat yourself a little. Just don’t go spending it all at once.

What are your thoughts on lifestyle inflation?

Side Hustlin’ : How I Make My Extra Income

writingIn October, when I had been side hustling for a couple months, I wrote a post about what I was doing to make some extra income. A few people asked me for a more detailed post and of course, I was more than happy to write it. Now that I’m actually sitting down to write this post, I feel a little bad since this is going to be pretty boring. I wish I had some great secret to tell you. But nevertheless, I hope this helps!

I started side hustling in September of last year but didn’t really get serious about it until October. I had read in the blogosphere about what other people were doing as side hustles and writing seemed like a good fit for me. I wouldn’t call myself a great writer but I can write or at least string a few words together so I thought I’d give it a try.

I started my search for freelance writing positions on Elance. If you’re not familar with it, its like a job site for freelancers of sorts. Initially, it was hard to get hired for anything since I didn’t have any reviews or feedback yet. I decided to take some really low paying jobs just to get me started. I was able to increase my rate steadily after I had a more complete profile on Elance and more samples to show them. I will say that the one thing that has helped me land jobs the most on Elance is this blog. If you have your own blog that you update regularly, it’s kind of like a live portfolio. Alot of people say that the jobs on Elance don’t pay enough and most of them don’t. But there are good jobs to be found there – you just have to look. I’ve actually found most of my freelance gigs there and have had some moderate success on Craigslist and ProBlogger. I haven’t ventured onto ODesk yet but maybe soon.

I’ve also found a couple virtual assistant jobs on Elance but I tend to stay from those since it gets pretty boring. I’d rather write. I’ve also done some consumer surveys through sites like eRewards. They don’t pay a whole lot and you only get gift cards but its something (I signed up for eRewards years ago. I believe you have to be invited to get an account).

I’ve also had luck on my side. A couple of the clients I have worked with referred me to other people so I gained some new jobs that way.

And there you have it! That is how I side hustle. I now make around $1000 a month through my side hustles. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll make enough for writing to be my main hustle. But for now, its a nice chunk of extra change to have every month. Like I said, I wish I had something amazing to share but I don’t. In the beginning, it can be a lot of work for not much in return. But stick to it! You be a side hustling pro in no time.

Job Hunting For Millennials

ID-100108364I’m a millennial – a member of a generation that often gets a bad rep. I’ve heard it all – we’re dependent, we’re needy, we’re entitled, etc. I can’t say I disagree with any of those statements but I’d like to think we have some redeeming qualities. If nothing else, we’re hungry. Since many of us graduated from college during a time of economic crisis, being creative about job hunting is key. Don’t you ever feel like your resume goes into a black hole when you apply online? Thinking outside of the box sets you apart. Here are some way that millennials are job searching:

1. Social Media – We put our entire lives on social media sometimes so why not job search on there too? While I’ve never done this myself, I’ve known a few people who have tweeted recruiters and hiring managers….and ended up getting interviews. It’s crazy how you can connect to literally anyone through social media. I would warn though that whoever you’re tweeting will either think that you’re bold or that you’re completely annoying…but hey, it’s worth a shot.

2. Craigslist – I always hear people say how it’s not worth looking on Craiglist for jobs because there are never any good ones. Well, they are wrong. You might not find big name companies posting on Craiglist but there are plenty of great jobs to find there. I actually found my first job right out of college on Craiglist. It was at an internet start-up and after a few months there, they were acquired by one of the biggest ecommerce companies in the world – which meant I was all of a sudden working for a big name company, had a nifty stock package, and a more impressive resume. You never know what an opportunity might lead to!

3. At A Bar – Ok so I don’t necessarily mean at a bar, though I do know someone who met someone at a bar, who introduced him to someone else, who hired him for a job. What I mean is network – anywhere you can, literally. That guy you see every morning at Starbucks getting a tall skinny vanilla latte? Yep, he might be the president of a fortune 500 company. Sadly, these days, it’s about who you know, not what you know. Get your name out there. As you grow your circle of acquaintances, chances are someone you know knows someone who can help you land your dream job.

But in any job search and at any age, persistence and a little bit of patience is important. Don’t give up because you haven’t found a job right for you. It’s out there somewhere so go find it and don’t settle.

What are some creative ways you have found jobs?

5 Questions to Ask At Every Job Interview

interview6­­We’ve all been there: the dreaded job interview. No matter how prepared or confident you are, it’s hard not to feel at least a little nervous. When the time comes, you sit there, plaster a smile on your face, and try to answer the questions as best you can. Then the interviewer says “I think that’s all the questions I have for you, do you have any questions for me?” – at that moment, you think it’s over and feel a sigh of relief.

Well, not quite yet.

At that point, only half the interview is done. It’s now time for you to become the interviewer. We all heard this before and it’s true – the worst thing you can do at a job interview is not ask any questions. One, it shows that you’re not interested. You didn’t take the time to do any research about the job, the company, or the industry. Second, you should have questions- an interview is just as much about you finding the right job as it is about the company finding the right person.

Here are a few simple questions that I always ask at a job interview:

  1. What are the day to day responsibilities of this position? The interviewer may only discuss the job at a top level. It’s important for you to understand what a typical day on the job look like.
  2. I’d love to learn more about you- could you talk a little bit about your career and what brought you to this company? I find that interviewers love to talk about themselves so give them the opportunity. This question is also a great way to learn more about your potential boss and their career path – because one day, it might be you!
  3. Where do you see the company in 5 years? 10 years? It’s important (for me at least) to see a long term future with the company. It’s important to ask about their goals and how they want to grow. It’ll give you a better understanding of the role you will play.
  4. How would you describe the company culture? This is one question I’ve failed to ask in the past and it’s come back to haunt me. The culture and politics of the company will play a big part at any level of the company.
  5. I recently read that the company did XYZ, I’d love to hear more about it. Ok, so this isn’t the exact question that you should ask but my point is that you should ask something specific about the company you’re interviewing for. Do your research, find any recent news articles, etc. It can be anything big or small, just something to show you took your time to look into this company. And of course, keep it positive. You don’t want to ask the interviewer why sales were down X% last year…

Be sure to prepare a long list of questions because chances are, you will already cover some during the interview. And even if you don’t have anything you want to ask, make something up! A dumb question is better than no question (well, most of the time…).

What is a question you think should be asked at every interview?

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