Me, Myself, and Miami

Recently, I had the chance to go to Miami for a conference. Obviously I jumped at this since I had never been to Miami before, and I hardly blinked when I learned I would effectively be alone. I had always wanted to travel by myself, and two days to explore Miami excited me.

I hit up a couple of friends who knew something about Miami and told myself I would read up more before I took off. Of course that didn't happen. I arrived in Miami with the two item bucket list of seeing Wynwood and South Beach.

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Absurd Ways I've (Attempted to) Make Money

For reasons that escape me, I always seem to pursue the most ridiculous methods of making money. Even the "normal" jobs I get seemingly turn into strange experiences.  In some sort of a particular order, here is a list of  jobs I have had and how it turned out for me: The "normal" jobs that could have been more normal:

My first job was at a bagel store, which would have been normal if upper management ever got itself together. By the end of my first year I was the second most senior person in the establishment at a ripe age of 17. Once when I came into work, there was some corporate people there that made me pose with sandwiches for a website. Within the week, some other corporate lady came in and had me cleaning out the inside of the trashcan in the back with a scrubber, and then proceeded to yell at me for not keeping an eye on the cash register and the customer standing at it (which was in a different room, where she happened to be, without her head in a trashcan).

I was a camp counselor for two summers. I would give this job the award for most normal, except for the time a six year tried climbing up onto my lap and then proceeded to try to motorboat me while yelling "BOOBIES!"

The jobs I took that I didn't expect to be normal, and weren't:

I then spent two summers interning at a theme park. I knew this was going to be an experience, but never did I think it would be THIS CRAZY! First off, people on vacations are insane and forget that those people working at a theme park are actual humans.  Beyond that, I lived at the housing unit for international students, so the crazy never subsided. The perks of living there was that the internationals thought I was a helpless undomesticated American that would eat frozen pizza and oatmeal everyday if left to their own devices (painfully true actually), so they'd make me a rice dinner at least 1-2 time a week. On the downside, it was expected that I drink Popov with them every night and would consider marrying at least one of them so they could have a green card.

I spent a summer of my life making political phone calls. As I am not politically active, and I can't honestly say which side I was supporting, but I was told to burn in hell by someone on my first night. It didn't really improve after that night, yet it was a $9.50 a hour job, which was more than I'd ever made anywhere else, so so what if I got death threats? I endured the entire summer.

The jobs that were just plain sketchy, in hindsight:

I sold windows too for a summer. Just on weekends, so it complimented my camp job well. I would go to fairs and such with this short, creepy man and stand next to this window and pretend to know anything about it.  Old men would come over to me, I would get them to sign up for a consultation, and then make a whole lot of money. I made a base of $10 an hour, plus $15 every time I got someone to sign up for a consultation. I would smile a lot and always wondered why I was so good at this job without knowing anything about construction. It was only recently when I talk about this job did I realize I was basically a window prostitute to all these old men who thought I would be the one coming to their house for the presentation.

I also thought donating plasma would be a good money maker. I ate a big meal, laid down to get my plasma sucked out, and vomited everywhere once the process started. The saline taste from whatever chemicals they were putting into my body with the blood they were returning to me clearly didn't suit me. I did get paid though, so my mother encouraged me, "Just try again. I bet they'll pay you even if you puke again." I did contemplate it because I puke for free most nights, but decided against it.

The jobs that are just funny:

My current endeavor of selling makeup. Enough said, especially if you already read From Tomboy to Tweezers.

My real full-time job of social media, which yes, is a real job, and yes, I do get paid for it.

My roommate also put up a pet care profile for me online yesterday. Here's the picture from my profile:

Posing with a puppy

If that doesn't instill in you a sense of security that I can handle your pets, I'm not sure what will.

Maybe one day I will get a job that isn't in some fashion funny, but I doubt it. I have accepted that normal isn't for everyone.

When the Life Plan Doesn't Happen

When I was growing up, I had my life entirely planned out. Now that I am at the threshold of my life that I was planning for, I have realized it is in no way what little me thought it would be.  While what I pictured for myself was pretty fantastic- depending on which version of now we are talking about- the "plan" I have for my life now is even better. When I was in elementary school, I had a plan that I was going to be married and be a meteorologist by now. I also envisioned living in a house similar to my Barbie's mansion, which was pretty cool. Needless to say, that version of my life didn't quite pan out.  While the Barbie mansion would be an upgrade, I must confess being unwed and not wrongly predicting weather is better than if this dream had come true.

In middle school, I thought by now I would be at NASA launching rockets into space. I'm not even kidding, I thought it was someone's sole responsibility to press the button to make the rocket go into space.  When I found out that those people are called "Rocket Scientists" and do excessively more than pressing a button, that dream died.

During my high school years, I did not have as much of a "plan" as before, but I did focus all of my energy on finding a way out of my town. I applied to no college within the state, except for my "safety" school. Then I proceeded to pick a college to go to based on how far away it was and how affordable it was.

When I was a freshman in college, I remember picking my major and knowing that by the time I graduated, I would have a job working for a huge public relations firm and in a serious relationship. I am 0-2 in that category.

However, working for a tiny social media company and selling makeup on the side (while not planned) actually perfectly fits me.  I have more leeway on creativity than if I was writing structured press releases all the time. I get to dapple in a bit more of everything because it is such as small company too, which keeps me from getting bored.  I am making less than I would elsewhere, but I get a whole lot more say in what we do, as well as more flexibility in what I am doing.

Despite having failed at every career and milestone goal I had planned out for my life thus far, I am glad none of my previous plans came into fruition. Sometimes you can't plan the life that you should have. It just happens and makes you happier than any other plan could have in ways that you couldn't have even imagined for yourself.

How to Afford the Real World

Disclaimer: I am not a finance person. I once took a personal finance class and sometimes did some of the homework for it. I grew up upper-middle class and went to college with an extremely generous backing from my parents. Essentially all I had to afford was shampoo and conditioner. So now that college is over, I am expected to be a self-sufficient person. Here's what I've learned so far in regards to transitioning off your parents budget onto your own:

Another Disclaimer: When I say "my own budget", that excludes my cell phone bill and car insurance, as well as a send-home traffic violation ticket, which my parents are still paying for.

Realize whose budget you're now on. When I was on my parents budget, I was used to going out to dinner and ordering whatever I wanted. Now I realize that that steak dinners are only for people that make real money.

Get in the right mindset. I constantly tell myself I am poor. If you remind yourself everyday that you don't have money, you'll end up saving A LOT of money. Even now, when my funds are not terrifyingly low, I still remind myself that I don't have a seemingly endless supply of money anymore.

Prioritize. This is the section that I take most seriously. Know what is worth spending your money on (think back to my earlier blog about being thoughtful with who to share your money with too). While I can tell you that giving priorities to your pennies is essential, I am giving out no advice on what those priorities should be, as mine are questionable. My priorities lie in consumption, fun, and being young. I spend no money on clothes or shoes because my priority is having money to go out rather than to have going out clothes without money to go out with.

Just don't buy things. This may seem obvious, but it's how I spent so little money when I moved out. I just didn't buy things. My headboard is from my parents. My mattress was a gift from my parents when they thought my free mattress was inhumane to make me sleep on. My bookshelf and cd rack is from the side of the road. And I haven't invested a penny past that for things that normal people may see as essential for a room, such as a dresser or night tables. One day, when the plastic containers and crates holding my clothes gets too tacky for me, then I might invest in real people furniture.

Coupons and happy hours (aka get a plan). I got myself a Kroger's card and now base all my purchasing decisions off of what Kroger puts on sale that week. My friends and I plan to go places where drinks are cheap at certain times on certain days. That way I can indulge, yet still remind myself that I am a young struggling professional now.

Enjoy it. Struggling isn't actually bad. We're all there, or have been. My roommates are in the same boat, and we paddle along with each other. We help each other when one is having a better week than the other and laugh about it when we're eating frozen pizza together. It's a bonding experience that reminds us we are independent young people making it work. It's fun to know I fund my own life and its exciting watching money going in and out of my account.

Life is exhilarating out here in the real world, even when it means your budget is the smallest it has ever been before.

Why don't you just think about yourself for once?

I took a personal finance class before graduating so I'd know how to function like a real adult. Sadly being an adult is hard, even with a class about how to function as an independent person. Yes I know how I'm supposed to budget, how I'm supposed to save, and how I'm supposed to invest, but knowing how to do things doesn't make the actions any easier. It's a tough world out here for twenty something's. I know that. I'm making a pitiful salary, eating canned soup like fruits and veggies cease to exist, and constantly wonder if ill be able to afford the bills. But beyond all that, the toughest part for me has been learning how to ration off my giving. Now is the part where I'd seem like a good person if I said I was giving to a charity, but no, I mean giving my money away to friends.

Again, I know what it feels like for bills to be tight, so when people come to me asking for a bit of help, I always say yes. $20 to a friend who is missing a bit of cash flow. Dinner for a friend because he can't afford it. Drinks for my other friend who seemed like they weren't enjoying themselves. Hell, I am about to invest in buying theme park tickets because I felt bad that the person said they needed the money desperately. Helping people is wonderful, but it all adds up.

So here's what I've learned as a young adult. Be generous, but watch for a return. I don't just mean returning money. I mean returning the favor down the line. If you're constantly picking up the tab, that's not right. If you're constantly paying and not hearing a genuinely grateful thank you, just stop. That's called being used. And that's a black hole that you will just keep throwing money into until the end of time.

Give money to people that will pay you back. Give money to people that return the favor occasionally. Cook dinner for your roommates that are super sharers with you. Or at least give your money and foodstuffs to people that care about you and would be there for you on a darker day. Just make sure your investing your money in people worth eating canned soup for.