We recently closed on the sale of our home. Selling a home is a tricky process. So many factors go into presenting your home to prospective buyers: Price, listings, open houses, dressing your home, getting the best real estate brokers, where the market is…I can go on! One aspect you can control is how your place is presented to buyers. One thing we noticed is many people don’t have good pictures of their homes online in their listings. I’m talking bad picture angles, terrible lighting, pictures of clutter, old dates showing on the pictures, blurry shots, you name it. And why? Many don’t understand the importance of dressing their home for sale and putting their best image out their to attract buyers.
When I was a teen I worked at a supermarket (I actually worked there a loong time). One day I ran into a friend’s dad woo had his own butcher business. We chatted and he asked me if I worked. I sheepishly told him I worked at a supermarket like maybe I was a little ashamed. With all seriousness he no, it’s not what you do but how you do it! As long as you put your all into your job then that’s all that mattered. This took me back. One, because I didn’t expect such a serious answer from a casual acquaintance; and two, because it really struck a note with me. He was right. So long as I knew I was doing my best and putting everything into my work then I had no reason to be ashamed of what I did and every reason to be proud of myself. I would go on to get many promotions at that supermarket and became a jack of all trades in the store. I worked as cashier, stock, unloading the truck, head cashier, bookkeeper for the store to bookkeeper for the chain writing out expenses and doing payroll (told ya I worked there a long time). I learned a lot from that supermarket job! From time to time I have to remind myself of that conversation but I still try to take the point to heart and do what I do to the best of my ability.
On the other hand, I’ve seen people look down on some jobs as though they aren’t good enough for them. Granted, if you have the skills and knowledge to do one thing then do it. But I’m talking about folks who are hurting financially and continually complain that they hate what they do and can’t make ends meet. They don’t have overly technical jobs that require a specific specialization. But they talk like doing something “common” is no good for them.
If you recall my wife has been working a few hours on the weekend doing test prep at a private school. She doesn’t get paid nearly what her qualifications should demand but the reality is we can use any extra cash we can get and she’s good at test prep. Some years ago I used to help out with a friend’s entertainment business where I learned to DJ. Many days were fun but many weekends were full of work! A four hour party could easily turn into 6-8 hours of work with travel and carrying and setting up the equipment. It was very different from the desk job I have but it was good money for weekend work (I might even try to jump back into it).
Know what? Those jobs until the wee hours of the morning paid off over time as they helped me afford my first car. My wife’s test prep work helps with some extra cash to pay for groceries and such. Some weeks we don’t have to dip into the ATM.
Point is, if you need the money no job is beneath you. Hard work is hard work no matter what you do. If it helps you make ends meet or put some extra cash in the bank that’s great! Sitting back and complaining about how hard things are will not help you. You need to go out there and do something about it. Life isn’t always ideal and sometimes you have to eat some humble pie and do something you don’t want to.
So if you need some extra dough go out and do something about it. Don’t worry about what others might say about you, just concern yourself with whether you are doing your best!
What do you think?
I recently brought up the question of whether we now need 8-12 months expenses saved rather than the old three to six months that used to be convention. I think in these economic times, where we are seeing unemployment hitting rates we haven’t seen in decades, that three to six months isn’t enough.
I received a lot of great comments on the article. Many agreed that 8-12 months expense savings is a good idea while others agreed that we need to re-evaluate how much we have saved but that 8-12 may be reaching. Some questioned if it was even possible or practical.
A big question that comes up: How does a person save up 8-12 months of expenses?!?
Let me first say I know it’s tough saving even 3-6 months of expenses. I wouldn’t be surprised if most families don’t have even 3 months expenses saved no less 8-12 (please prove me wrong!). But with unemployment rising it’s something we all have to think about.
I think it can be done!
The sooner you can put together your expense savings the better. But that doesn’t mean you have to do it right this minute. Don’t stress out completely because you can’t cover a year’s worth of expenses right now. But at the same time look at what you do have socked away and ask yourself if you could save more, even if it’s only a little bit. Work your way up. Do you have three months expenses saved up? No? Set that as your goal. If you do have three months work your way to six months expenses. Squirrel away until you reach your goal. If you never need it then great but should you have to use it you will be happy for everything you could save.
But does it have to be 8-12 months saved?
You need to look at your own situation. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- What will happen if I lose my job?
- Realistically how long would it take to find a new job at the same salary?
- How much more will I need if I have to take a pay-cut?
- How long can I support myself while looking for work?
- How has my industry been affected by the economy? Are whole companies going out of business or is it growing?
- How is your company doing? Are they hiring or letting people go?
- What is the likelihood that I could get laid off (tough one to answer but be honest with this one. Most people think a company can’t do without them but in most cases they are probably wrong).
- What savings do I already have?
- What would I get in unemployment benefits?
- Are there any other money sources you could tap if needed (Stocks, bonds)?
- Would or could you work part-time until you find full-time work?
And here are some items to think about when figuring out your expenses:
- What must get paid every month (mortgage, car payment, electricity, phone bill, water)?
- What do you spend on food every month?
- What will health care cost?
- What costs will there be in finding a new job (transportation, resumes, dry cleaning, clothes, fax, phone calls).
- What other expenses will you have (car maintenance, home maintenance)?
- What do you actually spend every month?
- What can you cut back should you lose your job (cable, eating out, vacations, etc…)?
- How many mouths does your income support?
Be honest with yourself. You may find that you don’t need 8-12 expenses. But you’ll be better served to save a bit more than a bit less.
What do you think?
Murphy’s Law – If anything can go wrong, it will.
How many times at work have you had a Murphy’s Law experience? Just when it’s important that things go right something goes wrong. Here are some of my workplace Murphy’s Law observations:
- When you don’t check your email – That will be the time when the VP needs a report from you ASAP!
- The day you don’t dress your best is the day you have a surprise meeting first thing in the morning.
- And those meetings that start the day? You’re going to be late for one through no fault of your own. When you walk in everyone will stop for a second and look at you like you’ve missed the birth of your child.
- That one time you “trust” a subordinate with a project and don’t go over it with a fine-tooth comb it ends up being wrong. And your bosses see it.
- You make sure to do any web surfing during your lunch hour because your boss is a stickler for that. The one time you don’t? Your boss sneaks up behind you asking what you’re working on (or your boss’ boss sees you and tells your boss and you don’t even realize you got caught until you’re sitting in your boss’ office getting reamed).
- That project that’s making you tear your hair out that you just can’t get your head around comes right before your performance review.
- And that project that you absolutely aced; getting it done before the deadline and making your boss look great? Right after your performance review.
- Your child’s recital? Same day as your huge presentation at work that you cannot miss.
- The one time you click on that link that your buddy sent in an email? Crash and burn! You whole computer starts whacking out and less-than-appropriate sites start popping up on your screen (bonus is when your speakers are turned on).
- The great vacation deal you found that’s only good for one week (or the family function you need to travel to) ends up being the same week your boss already planned to take off but didn’t mention to the staff.
- Those personal copies you made or that fax you sent? You left a few pages behind incriminating you. Of course it was sensitive material like tax info or medical documents (or worse that resume you’ve been sending out).
So what do you do about it?
First – Accept that there will be a Murphy’s Law moment. It’s inevitable. Something will go wrong when you need it to go right. When it does happen, regardless of the situation, look at it in a positive light. Don’t throw around blame. See if you can take the situation in a positive direction. I once had a situation at work where a big screwup blew up and involved VP’s yelling at each other. Rather than taking sides, my stance was to say “It’s great that this happened. It exposed a big hole that we didn’t know was there. We can now put a process into place so this doesn’t happen again.” That attitude helped ease things over.
Second – The ‘ole Boy Scout Motto: Be Prepared. If something important is coming up, run through your head all of the things that can go wrong. Trying to understand what can go wrong can help you build contingencies should Murphy’s Law strike.
How do you handle Murphy’s Law at work? What’s happened to you?
photo by Yo Spiff