1.30.2013

The Herd Mentality

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I've been wanting to talk about something that's been on my mind for quite awhile now. You all hear about the "rat race" we're in right? If you've read Rich Dad, Poor Dad, you know what I mean. We're all in this rat race and just trying to get ahead, but to me I honestly think it's more like a herd effect, and I was recently hit with the herd mentality. Yep, that's what I'm coining it.

Prior to law school, I've always yearned to be different. I never wanted to follow the crowd. I wanted to do my own things, follow my own career path, and just be unique. For some reason, law school was turning me into someone else I didn't like, someone who was getting sucked into the herd mentality.

I've analyzed it a lot and had to pinch myself really hard (figuratively, but maybe I should have done it for real) just to get out of it, and I'm still trying to convince myself sometimes that I need not follow the herd to be successful. When I think about it, this way of thinking really applies itself to everything else, especially personal finance.

Let me explain...

I felt like I was just another sheep in the herd, but I'm now convinced that it's okay and possibly even better to be the dog (in the picture I posted above, it doesn't make sense if you don't look at that picture).

Last semester, everyone in my class section (roughly 80 students) all started at the same place. We learned the same subjects together, tried to keep up with each other, studied together, and just generally just meshed into one big group because we have all of our classes together. Like one big dysfunctional family. When one person would stress out, we'd all stress out. It was (is?) a nightmare.

This semester, we're starting fresh, and I'm realizing that I don't need to compare myself to others. I'm not going to all of the lunchtime meetings and after-school networking events. I'm doing what I believe is right for me, and really - this is what life is all about, being yourself and doing what works for you at the pace you feel most comfortable with. When the semester first started, everyone and their moms signed up and participated in a moot court competition. You get a week to write a brief and then move on to 4 rounds of oral arguments if you are selected. I went back and forth on participating. In the end, I decided not to because the only reason why I wanted to do it was because everyone else was doing it. Not so much a valid reason.

While a lot of people were stressing, losing sleep, missing classes, and avoiding homework, I got so much accomplished that better fit my needs and my career path:
  • I was able to meet with my legal writing professor to edit my cover letters and resume and I applied to several summer internships.
  • I had a mock interview with the public defender of our County and the tips I received were priceless, and he now remembers me as "the girl who thinks he looks like Rick from The Walking Dead," which he totally did! 
  • I kept a steady pace of my readings and I was also able to secure 2 volunteering positions for this semester!
  • The first volunteering position is something I am SO interested in -  relating to landlord/tenant law (is that a thing?) and it gives me the opportunity to practice my oral skills as well as working with translators. I'll be giving 2-hour long presentations at community workshops at local organizations focusing on tenants' rights. It's so me right?
  • The other volunteering position is at an organization that helps the underprivileged community with legal services relating to civil rights, domestic violence, immigration issues, etc. 
I've always been into helping out the community and I can't think of a better way to get immersed into the law this semester. This is what I came to law school to do. I'm lucky that I got selected as only a handful of law students were able to get it. If I was doing moot court, I would probably not have even noticed these opportunities. I've already put these 2 positions on my resume and I think it will give me that competitive edge I need! As you can tell, I'm really excited and I am already less stressed out.

So as I started thinking this way about law school activities, I also applied it to career path and personal finance. 

You know what else? I can always do moot court next year. I am happy for those that did  moot court because it's something that they can put on their resume and they also gain valuable experience from it as well. It's all about priorities and what you want to do. You don't have to get stuck in the herd and have the mentality...for example, just because everyone else is saving for a down payment, you don't have to too. Just because everyone else is budgeting, you don't have to do it the same way. You don't have to use Mint.com to be on top of your finances (though I think it's a pretty sweet site).

Instead, think of a way to get out of it and to be yourself. I feel like the only way to really succeed and to flourish in whatever you do is to personalize it and tailor it to your personality, to your hobbies, your schedule, and your lifestyle :)

Have you gotten stuck in the herd mentality? In what ways? How did you get out of it?

1.15.2013

Time to Buy New Shoes

I know I promised that my next post would be my 2013 goals but I'm honestly still thinking about them. I've also just started classes again yesterday and getting back into the groove with my new schedule, new and old classes, and settling back in again at home. I got all of my grades back finally, and I'm happy to say that I passed all of my classes! I'm not too disappointed with them, especially with the mandatory curve and all, but I take comfort in knowing that I tried my darned hardest and studied my butt off and I have zero regrets. This semester, I'll take into account everything that worked and learn from mistakes, plan early, and just enjoy myself more by stressing out less.

BF's New Job

Today I just really needed to blog about a life-changing event because it's something that I thought would never happen, or that I thought might happen in the future but definitely didn't think it would happen any time soon. The boyfriend and I have always been realists. We've prepared and expected for the worst. We know how much debt he has from student loans and we know how much I'm adding to that pile (and trust me, it's a lot). We save a lot, barely go out, barely eat out, don't travel (unless it's to see family close-by), and we just have a very frugal mindset. We're not unhappy though, it's just the lifestyle we choose to adopt because we've always shared a goal of being debt-free one day. Today, we were blessed with some amazing news.

He's going to get an almost 50% pay increase in salary for a job that he loves!

The whirlwind of events all started last Thursday when BF got a suspicious email from a hiring recruiter in the military (BF's not in the military btw). Apparently it was for a job he applied for a few weeks ago. We were apprehensive at first and actually thought it was spam mail. He ended up filling out a bunch of paperwork and then everything just happened so quickly. On Friday, the recruiter scheduled a phone interview with someone in Afghanistan, and on Monday he received salary information. Today he received an offer letter!

We honestly thought this would never happen to us, and I'm so shocked and excited and proud that he's accomplishing his dreams. He'll be getting back to cost estimating for National Security (military training and tracking systems and other stuff like that) and it just makes me really excited that he's happy and doing what he wants to do. This burden has been sitting on his shoulders for the past 5 years. Ever since he graduated he's struggled to find a job that he liked and that paid him even decently. He couldn't even move out of his parents house since the salary he was always making wasn't even enough to live off of with all of his student loans. He made the decision to stay at home and save as much as he could instead of moving out and spending all of his money on rent and putting more on credit cards just to get by.

I'm a firm believer in things happening for a reason. There were so many times when I listened to him and his struggles at work, all of the times he went unappreciated, treated badly, outcasted, treated like dirt by upper management, racially harassed, being forced into unethical situations (a huge reason why he left his last job was because he didn't want to be part of it). He's had such bad luck with his previous jobs and I thought he would never catch a break. There were lots of times when I saw him frustrated because he had to stay at his job for money reasons, because of the loans, and because he was tied down. This fierce passion to do better in life came from these experiences and I think he grew into a more humble and hard-working person because of it. He became more financially savvy by saving as much as he could because he wanted to own property even though he wasn't making a lot. He never bought expensive items, heck, he never shopped for himself. I think in the past 5 years he's only purchased 1 cheap suit, 5 pairs of pants at Wal-Mart, and basic necessities like underwear and socks.

The first thing he said when he got the offer letter was, "I can finally buy new shoes." He's been holding off on buying dress shoes for so long. I swear he's worn the same pair that he's had since high school, which was over 13 years ago haha! I still can't believe that this is all happening in such a bad economy, and when there are hardly any jobs available, especially for his industry and the specific job he was looking for that catered to his background. He's been rejected so many times within these past 5 years from several "dream jobs" but he finally found the job he's been looking and waiting for.

The job is located in San Diego so we'll still be doing long-distance, but I'm just honestly so happy for him. I can't remember the last time I saw him this happy, it affects me so much. He was just talking about how worried he was because his savings was running low. It just goes to show that you should never, ever give up on chasing your dreams...even when things seem like they are just getting worse. Oh, and always keep saving for a rainy day...you seriously never know when you'll need it. If the BF didn't have savings, he wouldn't have been able to quit his job a few months ago. He would have been stressed out and would have had to take the first job he could find, one not related to his career path or interests, and one that did not pay him for what he's worth.

He seriously inspires me and I hope his story inspired some of you!

1.07.2013

Raising Money Using Your Old Clothes

Raising Money Using Your Old Clothes

One of the quickest ways to generate some extra cash is to sell your old stuff. When most people think about raising money using this method, they look around for something big and valuable to sell, for example an expensive gadget, a piece of jewellery or an antique. Understandably, they believe that they have to sell something that costs them a lot to buy to generate a significant amount of cash. In reality, this is not necessary.

There is demand for all sorts of things,and if you sell enough small items, you will still generate a significant amount of cash. The good thing is that demand is growing. People are more careful with money, so many prefer to buy used goods rather than spend a lot on new items.

This means that people want to buy a wider range of goods second hand. Today it is just as viable to sell your old clothes for cash as it is to sell your old phones, games consoles and unwanted jewelery.

The Type of Clothes You Can Sell

However, when people hear that they can sell their old clothes many still assume that it is not an option for them. They know that antique or designer clothes can be sold for cash, but because they do not own these kinds of clothes, they tend to assume nothing in their wardrobe has any second hand value.

Until fairly recently they would have been right. However, recently, things have really changed. Today, it is now possible to be paid for all kinds of clothes. You will struggle to sell your old High Street branded clothes at a boot sale, but can now sell them to a textile dealer instead. Today, virtually every garment has a value, even when it is past its best. Naturally, antique or retro clothing still has the highest value, but it is possible to make a significant amount of money from selling ordinary clothes you bought from High Street stores.

Why Old Clothes are Now in Demand?

There are several reasons for this change. The biggest reason old clothes are now so valuable is that virtually all kinds of fabrics can now be recycled. The textile recycling industry is growing all the time, so demand for old clothes is strong. This new demand has been caused by the fact that the cost of producing raw materials like cotton have soared. There is also a growing market for cheap clothes coming from people who are finding it harder to make ends meet in today’s tough economic climate. In developing countries demand for used clothes, which are more affordable than new clothes, is also growing.

Advances in re-cycling technology have also helped. New techniques have made it possible to re-cycle a far wider range of materials and do so at a much lower cost. Today, large scale textile re-cycling is an economically viable business.

So, why not dig out your old clothes, go online and sell them. You will de-clutter, help the planet and others as well as generate some spare cash for yourself.
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