Frugal Beautiful

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Steve Jobs - Limited TimeLife an unconventional life.  Follow your instinct and know it won’t make sense as you go through it, but filling your days with little things that bring you joy and fulfillment will eventually lead to a gorgeous story of your life when all is said and done.  Failure can be freeing.

You have to find what you love- do what you believe is great, no matter what that is.  You will know when you find it- don’t settle.


This is one of the most famous commencement speeches ever given- it has over 3 million Youtube hits and for good reason.  Steve Jobs is an American Icon, but he isn’t simply gloating about his success- he details his meanderings, his failings, his admonitions to love and follow that love.

15 minutes is all you need!

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The famous line “People first, then money, then things,” comes from financial guru Suze Orman.  I adore Suze- I am watching her show right now on Itunes.  Fabulous stuff!  While her other advice is great- “people first,” is really something I’ve been focusing on.  I’m currently on the 30-Day-No-Shopping Challenge and I realized that time not spent shopping needs to be filled with something else in order to succeed.

Filling your life with people, not things is a way to free up your money for greater opportunity: retirement, starting a business, going on vacation, cutting your work hours and living comfortably…or how about this:  not bursting into tears when the credit bill comes each month?  That sounds pretty darn good.

 

Shopping keeps us busy.  It also gives us a sense that we’re building something- a more beautiful home, a more savvy wardrobe to spur more confidence,  a repertoire of things to make life better, faster, more efficient.  But what it all boils down to is people.  We want a nicer home to invite friends over and gadgets to entertain them with, a wardrobe that inspires awe and praise from people at work,  a birthday gift that shows our appreciation.  While things can be useful- it’s a distraction from the sometimes intimidating work of making personal connections with people and building community based on our own personalities and effort.

I recently had some friends over for drinks after hitting up a discount pizza place for their Monday night specials.  Honestly, I was embarrassed to have them over- my new apartment was sparsely furnished- we didn’t even have enough chairs for everyone.  I found myself fretting over the appearance of my apartment, but of course- as you can imagine, nobody cared.  Everyone was just happy I opened my home and we had cheap beer and wine and sat around and talked.  They were happy to get together, and in the end, I was happy to have done it.  Relying on personal connections and not things can be scary-  but often the experience is more genuine.

To ensure the success of my No-Shopping Challenge, I’m filling my life with EVENTS and not stuff.  I’m going to knitting meetups and attending health workshops.  I walk my dog each day and finally tackle projects that have been nagging at me.

 

Shopping has been a distraction for far too long.  It makes you feel accomplished, productive and successful when you can buy something new- especially when you’ve hunted down a good deal, but the activity of shopping usually distracts from other activity.

What are you using shopping to hide from? How are “things” holding you back from genuine experiences and connections with people?  Does debt keep you in a constant state of stress or does shopping hide the fact that you haven’t explored what really makes you happy?  Do you feel you don’t have the right “things” to start your goals?  (Trust me, having a cute pair of Nikes will not really encourage you to go to the gym).

People first– the money will sort itself out and the the things will matter less and less.  You will have exactly what you need.

 

 

Stupid 30-Day-No-Shopping Challenge!   I love Etsy though, if you want to splurge- (meaning, you can unlike myself) do so with an amazing small-business owner that crafts her own goods.  I truly believe that a few treats once in awhile will help your frugality goals in the long run.  All work and no play is not good- but at the very least, enjoy some Etsylicious eye-candy 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dainty shaped soaps and guest towels are no longer for Grandma’s guest room.  These colorful soapy confections are great for a new generation.

Get yours @SatinandBirch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Donuts are the new cupcakes.  Find this and other retro-delicious designs @ CollisionWare

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I ❤ Pugs!  Find an adorable item with your breed @ MauStudio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh laudy- isn’t this just gaudy (in a really, really good way)  Totally perfect for spring.  Made by ThreeWildnCrazyLadie

 

 

 

 

 

Customizable for your favorite breed- but you know, “pug” is probably the best bet 😉  @ KeepCalmShop

Brand Yourself: Your Degree is Not Enough

 

Graduates are grumbling- their degree didn’t get them what they’d hoped.  No longer will a degree guarantee a shiny lucrative career with enough income to pay off those precarious student loans.

To get noticed you must stand out. Your degree is nothing more than a piece of paper that states you’ve done the BARE MINIMUM to make yourself marketable to employers or graduate schools.   Don’t wait out the economy- the fact is, the job market and academia has changed- your degree is unremarkable.  You must be remarkable.

 

Even if the economy rebounded immediately- the fact remains the same, a degree does not have the clout it used to.  The answer to this isn’t to get a “higher degree,”  you’ll have the same problem applying for grad schools as you will applying for jobs.   Thousands of students are graduating each semester, and thousands more are enrolling in higher degree programs to wait out this bad economy- while a degree is essential for many careers, is it enough? Short answer: No.

The fact is, competition is fierce. Truth be told, hiring agents cannot see past the piece of paper- to the hours you labored over a tough chemistry exam, the the fact that you’re a first generation college student, or the blood/sweat/tears that you put forth above and beyond that of your peers to graduate with honors (or to graduate at all).  That piece of paper tells them nothing except that you at least meet the minimum qualifications for their position.   What will make you noticeable in a pile of degree-holding applicants is what is the papers of your resume, your cover letter and the impression you make on your interview.  Sadly though, these areas are rarely fully developed in the coursework required for today’s average baccalaureate degree.

Speaking from experience, I have seen plenty of qualified, recent graduates get rejected or just ignored for relying on their degree- even when that degree is from a prestigious university.  You owe it to yourself to stand out from the crowd, you cannot afford to blend in.

 

 

Market Yourself as More Than a Piece of Paper:

-Work for Free. The youth of previous generations had to work hard for years to reach levels of respectable status and income- your degree does not mean you get to expedite that process.  You will probably have to work just as much as they did, but you just did 4-6 years in a classroom first.   Intern at a company you’d like to work for, or at least get some experience volunteering at a company that’d look good on your resume.  You may not be getting paid, but you will be getting a line on your resume- which looks far better on paper than post-graduate unemployment.


-Research and Network. Somewhere, out there- is someone doing what you want to do.  Living the life you want to live.  Find these people, even if it’s just by reading their blog, watching their interviews on YouTube or reading their memoir.  Smart people have already written just about everything you need to know to get your dream job- I assure you, there is a probably a “Guide for Dummies,” on your given industry or topic.  Find people doing what you want to do and seek out their wisdom.

 

-Grow. Sadly, most universities today produce cookie-cutter degrees with cookie-cutter graduates.  You need to discover ways to differentiate from the pack.   Start filling your life with inspiration and experience that you didn’t get in the classroom.  Read books about people that have lead phenomenal lives, participate in the community and start doing things you’ve always wanted to do- travel, explore, question.  This is the time.  If you’re feeling downtrodden from the job hunt, you need to recharge your batteries, or perhaps explore a new way of approaching the search.

 

-Brand Yourself. The term “branding” is usually used for marketing- but increasingly it is used to market people.  Using social media and blogs to market yourself is a relatively new phenomena but has been hugely successful if done correctly.  Barack Obama comes to mind as someone who pioneered social media to get “hired,” as the United States President, but similarly, you can use blogging or social media to get yourself known and build credibility within your niche or industry.  Improving your contacts, writing skills and computer know-how can only boost your hireability.

 

More on Branding:

How to Brand Yourself in a Competitive Job Market– Q&A @MarketingProfs

How to Brand Yourself @RuckMakers

7 Secrets to Getting Your Next Job Using Social Media @Mashable

Suze Orman is known for her financial advice- especially her emphasis on living within your means and saving for the future.

I chose her commencement address at University of Illinois because she speaks about her life journey.  The fact that she had no idea what she wanted to do, and ended up dropping out of U of I resonates with a lot of us who are trying to figure out our life’s path.  She was a major in Social Work and ended up being one of our generation’s major financial gurus, and it happened through her mistakes, miscalculations and of course- tenacity.

“Your degree does not make you- you make your life.” Her story will leave us with plenty of useful lessons learned.

“You are to go for anything and everything you want.  You are to give 100% to everything you do…the hardest thing in life is to jump a chasm…it doesn’t matter what you jump into.  All I ask of you is to jump into it with 100%, with every single thing you have.”

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