Less Money, More Problems

Hi There Everyone,

Sorry for the long pause between posts. I have taken some time for myself to enjoy my family and friends and relax a little during the holiday season. I hope you have all been able to do the same and are now ready to finish off 2017 strong and ring in 2018 on a high note.

So without further ado let me get back to giving you my solicited advice…




Dear Stephanie,

I’ve been working at a small privately owned company for about 3 years now and I have been compensated well thus far. I recently had my yearly review and felt it didn’t do justice to how my year actually went. This past year, I worked even harder and more hours than my previous years, because the company is growing and I’ve had to take on more roles than normal. Everyone in the company gets a generous bonus; but I felt my actual yearly wage increase was extremely low, and was not even close to what I got the previous year percentage wise.

I’m extremely disappointed and know I deserve more, but I’m scared to bring it up to my boss because I don’t want to be a complainer and seem ungrateful.

What should I do?

Thanks,

Overworked Under Paid


Dear Overworked ,

Thank you for writing in. This is a tricky one for me because I know in the same scenario I would be unsure of what I wanted to do and how to proceed in a professional manner but still look out for myself.

However,  my gut reaction when reading your question is that you know your worth and what you bring to the company so you should speak up and ask to meet with your boss on why you deserve a larger raise and why you were expecting one. I think that there will be two outcomes, and both positive.

  1. The best and ideal scenario – You get a bigger raise. Woohoo!!
  2. The good and positive scenario –  A constructive and informative conversation where you learn more in depth on why your review when the way it did and why you were compensated as such.

I would say the trick to achieving either of these outcomes is to go into the conversation leaving you’re feelings at the door. You need to come into the meeting prepared with facts and numbers. By that I don’t mean the number of hours you are working, but instead the quantitative results of your work in those hours. For example, you came up with and implemented a new procedure within the company that saved them X amount of dollars or you developed and brought to completion a  new product/ ad campaign/ service that brought in the company in X amount of dollars.

Do you see what I am getting at? You need as many of these relevant examples as possible to make a strong case on why you deserve X% raise over the percentage that they already offered you.

If the dollars are not available for a further increase in salary, be strong and continue to ask how you can further improve as an employee and what is needed and expected from you in order to get the raise you are looking for. Sometimes, no matter how hard we are working it is not quite the exact way your company needs you to work. Creating an open dialog in this conversation will insure you’re moving in the direction the company is going and needs you to move with them in order to get to both their and your end goals.

Now go forth an pick the right time for this conversation, when you and your boss do not have urgent matters to attend to but sometime in the near future so it is still relevant.

I would be surprised if your boss would find you ungrateful. Instead I am sure they will be impressed that you are brave enough and believe in yourself enough to get the compensation and answers you deserve.

We are all rooting for you!!

With Love,

Stephanie

SocialPost_4539412_facebook

Stealing Time, Not Christmas

Dear Stephanie,

There is one thing I procrastinate on until it is just TOO late, and that is holiday gift giving. It is already too late, and I am only asking you this now! I always end up looking too late, buying things I am not the most happy with, and usually overspending. It isn’t that I dislike gift-giving, but I NEVER prepare early enough to feel like I am getting the best gifts that I could be. Any advice on how to better plan this? How to start earlier? How to feel less rushed at the last minute?

Thank you,

The Grinch


Dear Grinch,

I think this might be me writing in from the future, because I struggle with this every year without fail. I am sure I will for the foreseeable future as more people are added to my list. Adulthood! Yay! (I actually love being an adult and gift giving is the best. I’ll have to tell you sometime about the best gift I ever gave. I made not 1 but 4 people cry. 2 of the 4 criers did not even receive this awesome gift. That’s how good it was.)  So, I am not sure I can tell you how to get better at this, other than starting before Thanksgiving but who does that? I can however, tell you how to deal with it now. You have to start with an urgent plan of action.

Make a List and Check it Twice

First, make a list if you haven’t already, of all the people you need to shop for. If you know what you want to get them, note that next to the person. If you don’t know, list a few things you know they like for some inspiration. Knowing what to get someone is half the battle. Once you have this outline, you will have a day or two to think about what to get for the people you are unsure of.

Look at Your Options

There are so many places and ways to shop. As a millennial, I personally prefer shopping online. You might think that is a risky move, with shipping times and what not, but fear not. Most websites have guaranteed Christmas delivery right up to the 20th!!  You can also visit more stores in an hour online that you can in a day in person, and you will need that kind of mobility in a time like this.

My personal favorite way to shop is Amazon Prime, free 2 day shipping and the world at your finger tips. This is great for all the gifts you can buy right now. If you order today, you’ll have all your gifts by Friday. What could be better?

Get Creative

Half of the fun of gift giving is the chance to be creative. The hard part is being creative in a pinch. A creative gift option that I love is subscription boxes. There are boxes for everything from practical to exotic, and it keeps giving for as long as you choose. — Is your boyfriend is always running out of razors or never has shaving cream? Get him a subscription box. You mom loves to experience new cultures but hates to fly? Get her a subscription box. Your sister is beauty obsessed? Get her a subscription box. Your dad loves salami? Get him a subscription box.

See what I am getting at? There is a box for everyone and all of their interests. This is also a good gift if you procrastinate even further, because it can be explained better as to why it’s not there on time like “Oh, they only send at the end/beginning of the month, sooo you just wait!” As a along as you have little something for them to open you can get away with not having the “real” gift.

Anther, creative option I love in a pinch is getting people experiences. Like tickets to their favorite concert, or to something they would not normally do, like go to the rodeo or treat them to a spa day. They will love it and all you would have to do is print out the tickets or voucher. Quick and easy but a great gift you would be proud of giving.

No matter what, the old saying “It’s the thought that counts” rings true more then ever during the holiday season. Happy Holidays and Good Luck!

With Love,

Stephanie

dSC_XMAS_201709_Gifting

New Girl, Old Guidelines

Dear Stephanie,

I’m going to meet my boyfriend’s parents for the first time at their house. Should I bring something? We’ve been dating a few months now and I really like him.

Sincerely,

The New Girl in Town

50s-woman-party-planning


Dear New Girl,

Thanks for writing in! I remember the stress of meeting my boyfriend’s parents for the the first time. The harder question here is not if you should bring something, because of course you should bring something, but instead what should you bring?

Flowers are nice and always beautiful. However, I think there are more cons than pros when it comes to flowers. Someone could be allergic, they die quickly, they leave a mess of petals and pollen and there is always a slightly awkward fuss in finding the right place and vase or container to put them in. Personally, I have always appreciated the gesture of someone getting me flowers more than the flowers themselves.

In my opinion the perfect gift or “something to bring” is something that can be appreciated as much or  more than the gesture you are trying to make. That is why I think food or drink is always the best. It’s never in the way, the mess is relatively contained, someone could be allergic, but you could use that to your advantage (let me explain below), it can become a memorable part of the experience, and there is always an easy place to put it — counter, fridge, oven, stove, freezer etc..  I am just going to assume that during your visit with them you will share at least one meal. So, not only does food and drink have the potential to be all the great things I mentioned above, it will also be relevant — and when things are relevant people remember.

Now, that you know you should be getting something and that something should be edible, lets decide on what to bring. If you’re in a rush wine is always a good option. If you are looking for a red wine to bring to dinner, below are my two favorite. Maybe you will introduce someone to their next new favorite?

If you’re looking for a crisp and delicious white wine, any Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand will be a crowd pleaser. My personal favorite is Matua. Besides it being delicious it is also fairly economical, so your wallet will also be thankful.

If you would rather bring food or his family doesn’t drink, ask if anyone if your boyfriend’s family has a food allergy or dietary restrictions. If they do, obviously avoid anything with those ingredients, but go a step further and find a delicious substitute. Say, your boyfriend’s sister recently developed a dairy allergy and now all she want’s is a giant slice of cheese cake, like the good old days. This is your time to shine. Do your homework, and find the best dairy free (maybe vegan) cheesecake in your neighborhood or city to bring with you. It might take a lot of effort but it is actually a genuinely kind and thoughtful gift. His family would not forget that anytime soon and I’m sure they would be so happy that their son is with someone so kind. Lastly, it is also something the whole family can enjoy and providing a little bit of joy is the best way to make a good and lasting impression.

Just remember that no matter what you bring, your boyfriend’s parents will probably like you regardless, because you are good to and for their son and making him happy. From what I hear, that’s way more important than any thing you could bring. ; )

With Love,

Stephanie

Dating in the Digital Age: Online Dating in 3 Steps

Dear Stephanie,

I’ve never gone out with someone I’ve met online and I am going to take the plunge. What’s the best way to go about it? I’m not really new to dating but am new to blind (sorta) dates.

Sincerely,

A Novice Swiper


Dear Novice Swiper,

I am so glad that you wrote into me with this question, because I can relate. I actually met my own wonderful and amazing boyfriend who I love very much on Tinder, of all places!! Prior to meeting him, I went on my fair share of “blind” dates ranging from really bad to really great. Online dating sometimes still seems weird and mysterious, but when you break it down it is actually just 3 simple steps.

Step 1: Picking the Right App or Website

The first step is to pick a website or app that “aligns” with what you are looking for. As I mentioned above, I used Tinder, and while it worked for me in the long run it was not the very best place to find a serious relationship, in the sense that it is regarded as a hookup app. Because of the app’s reputation and the way people were using it, I ended up meeting a lot of people who were looking for much different things than I was; and as a result I went on some pretty bad dates and wasted a lot of my time. However, when I did eventually swipe across my beloved, he really stood out to me because he was clearly looking for the same thing I was. So all that to say, in the spirit of saving time, pick an app or website that approaches dating and meeting people in a way that you relate with. No matter what you choose, I am a firm believer in “what will be, will be” and I think you will meet your person eventually and no matter what app or website you use.

Some apps and websites to see what works for you:

Step 2: Building your Profile

We all have a photo from a few years ago that we love because we look so damn cute in it!! You might think that is the BEST photo to put in your profile, but you are wrong. Even if you look largely the same, you will still look a little different. AND nothing starts a blind date off on the wrong foot like meeting someone who doesn’t look like what you expect. Unless you somehow now look better…That may sound shallow but it’s true. Everyone deserves to be attracted to their partner. The problem with dating apps and websites IS that is largely based on physical interest first. Then the more important parts of attraction and relationships follow. When you arrive at a date excited and expecting to meet one person and then you meet an older, balder and heavier version its hard not to feel a little deceived. There is nothing wrong with being older, balder or heavier just be who you are now not who you were a few years ago. So extend the same curtesy to your future dates and upload honest and real photos of yourself. I can guarantee your dates will be more fun and foster more meaningful connections, because it is already starting out truthful and there is a mutual attraction.

As for the photos you do post, be sure to show your who you are. We live in such a visual time ( which is why blogging is so hard) and people absorb so much information from photos. In your photo selection pick the photos that make you feel confident and show who you are: your personality, interests, favorite past times, sense of humor and what your idea of fun is. You are trying to paint a whole picture of who you are.

As for your bio, I went for a minimalistic approach and I had a lot of luck posting a John Belushi quote that I thought was funny and that I related to. I believe it gave anyone who came past my profile an idea of what my sense of humor is like, which was something I wanted to convey. Others like a more verbose profile where they go into detail on what they are looking for and all their likes and dislikes. That’s not a bad thing, but when I was using an app I rarely read a whole profile if it was super long. (Because we are so visual or was I just lazy?) I would just rather match and talk to the person to learn those things about them. If I were you, I would think about how much or how little I would want to read about each potential match, then base the length of your own profile on that.

Also, there are a few good apps mentioned above, that have you answer some questions and then they post the answers as your profile making it super user friendly and concise. Hinge is one of them. Check it out.

Step 3: Date Night

Look at you! You matched with someone, they seem nice, interesting and funny!! You also find them to be attractive and they appear to not be serial killers. Bonus!! So you’re excited and a little nervous about the drink you’re getting with them. Don’t be! They are in the same boat as you and certainly feel the same way. It’s human nature.  Just be yourself and try remember that while you want to make a good impression, that this is JUST a drink, or coffee or whatever. It might turn in to something or it might not. Go in with low expectations and a sense of humor because no matter what, you’ll have a story to tell, good or bad. Also, your sense of humor will help you deal with the annoying parts of dating.

Now, be prepared to repeat step 3 a few times. That’s ok and part of the process. Enjoy! Being single can be just as fun and exciting as it is to be in love and in a serious relationship. Embrace this stage of your life.

With Love,

Stephanie

IMG_5753
Me and My Dude. Sometimes we time travel.