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Intro To…Being a Crime Victim May 2, 2014

Posted by doinglaundryinheels in 21st Century/Technology, Causes, How To, Intro To, Life Lessons/Growing Up, Real World, Traveling.
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Intro To…

What to do if you’re a victim of a crime?” the front of the pamphlet said. The police officer read off the different points to me.
“Nice”, I thought. “I’m someone who applies to the title of a pamphlet”.

I’ve had my stuff stolen three times. The first was my own stupidity and I deserved to learn the hard way. Lesson: do no set your bag down and walk away; near, far, or even take your eyes off it.

The second time was possibly the most traumatic. My cell phone and camera were swiftly whisked from me as I sat a mear 12 inches away from them, with Pascal at my side. So, what do you do when you realize your stuff is missing. First,  don’t jump to conclusions. Take a calm and thorough look around, empty your bag, check the floor, see if anyone around you saw anything. Next, talk to someone in charge – a bouncer,  a manager, a cop, a bartender, any staff.  See if someone turned it in. Next, call your phone (hopefully someone around you can call for you, don’t be embarrassed to ask a stranger). If it’s off, call your cell phone provider immediately, if it’s on, search for the ringtone or vibration. If you locate it, or someone answers, be calm. Explain that this is your phone, you would like it back, if they return it you will not press charges (they don’t know that you haven’t called the cops yet). Hopefully, you just misplaced it and the person who answers is ready to return it to you. If not, or if no one answers,  call your cellphone provider.  They will cancel the phone and instruct you on how to proceed/get a new phone. Always have A. Insurance on your device B. Your photos, contacts, etc. backup. The next step, file a police report and accept that it is gone. A police report is not going to get your phone back, they almost never find them, by if it is found on someone who is being arrested for another crime, their charges increase. Lesson: while not a pleasant experience,  a phone is an easy thing to replace.

The third time was the craziest and hardest to rectify: my wallet. I don’t know how, and I’m not sure where, we pinpointed when but the fact that -having my things stolen twice before – I am extra cautious about everything, I carry in my bag, I felt defeated and defenseless when it happened. First thing’s first, check everywhere! Make sure it didn’t just fall out of your bag, or you put it somewhere and forgot (and when I say everywhere, I mean even weird places like the fridge or your hamper). Next, check all your credit card statements, if there’s any activity whatsoever cancel them all asap. If there has yet to be a charge, back track, call the places you used it or had it last and see if someone found it. Next step, call the police see if anyone has turned it in. If the answer is still no, cancel your cards anyway. At this point, it’s probably laying on the ground somewhere, or in someone’s slimy hands. If you happen to find it, the worst case scenario is that you’ll have brand new card numbers. After everything is canceled, go to the station and file a police report.Lesson number 1: Cash, gift cards, business cards, mementoes, and your wallet itself, they’re gone. Yes, even if you had $100 dollars and $300 in gift cards, they’re gone, don’t worry about them and move on to the more important documents. The police are going to ask you to describe it, explain what happened, what was in it, try your best to be as accurate as possible. They’ll give you a police report to take with you. Don’t skip this step, you’ll find out why later. Call your state DMV and find out how to proceed. Your last issued license is the only one which is valid, so you need to get a new ID or license asap. If anything with your social happened to be in your wallet, you need to put a lock on your credit immediately. This will prevent anyone from applying for, or running your social without getting a password from you first. If you’re social wasn’t in there, it’s good to pay for credit monitoring for 6-12 months, just incase. Here’s a list of things you may have forgotten were in your wallet that you need to be mindful of: any keys – garage, home, safe deposit box, office; insurance card; membership cards – gym, frequent flier programs, points programs, library card; a flash drive or mini USB; jewelry you put there for safe keeping. They’re things you keep in there but have probably forgotten about. Sometimes retrieving or replacing these things will be easier with a police report i.e. I had to replace my safe deposit box lock and it was free because I had a report. Plus, if you ever track down the thief (from video or photo surveillance) you have the initial report. Lesson number 2: cancel – report; replace. 

Here’s the thing about your stuff getting stolen, you think it’s not a big deal and you play it off like that, but it is. You are a victim and that’s hard to accept sometimes. You were robbed; you were mugged; someone maliciously went after you. It’s okay to feel scared the days after and not trust anyone you don’t know. The days after I had my wallet stolen, it was incredibly hard for me to ride the train, even though it’s something I do everyday without thinking. It’s good to talk about it and accept that this bad thing happen to you, but it’s also healthy to move on and try to focus on the future. This wasn’t your fault (Unless you were #1 above) so you can’t learn from you mistakes, but you can apply it to the rest of your life and always ensure that your stuff is zipped up, put away, and accounted for.

– SK

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Intro To…Being Alone March 12, 2014

Posted by doinglaundryinheels in Health and Fitness, How To, Intro To, Life Lessons/Growing Up, Real World.
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Intro To…

As an only child, I like to think I’ve mastered a strange art, the art of being alone. While, at first, the title may seem strange, it’s actually something quite hard that I’ve become very good at over the years, while also learning to loathe. Being alone isn’t easy, perhaps this is the reason most people don’t like it, even when you’re good at it, You’re good at if by default: to cope, to exist, to get by, not necessarily because it’s something you enjoy.

Step 1: The first few hours of being alone are awesome, the world is your oyster. Whether you have the place to yourself for a night, a solo road trip, or you’ve come to work on a Saturday and everyone else is gone. This is lust. Do not confuse it for love. Being alone comes with a glass of freedom on the rocks, it’s a release, after all, you can do anything, say anything, be anyone, even dance in your underpants. 3-4 hours in, you’ll feel very different. Enjoy your new found freedom, but don’t be naive about it.

Step 2: plan. As previously mentioned, you’ll feel so free and relaxed you’ll be overwhelmed with the possibilities. What to do first, where to go, what to wear or make or buy, this will result in a weird chaos in your mind and in your actions and then what will occur is liquid time. Liquid time is the term used for time that is simply melting, rather than moving. You’ve gone through all the fun things you wanted to do and now you’re bored, or trying to think of the next fun thing and only a couple hours have gone by. Oops. Planning will spread out the activities over time and in an organized way so that you aren’t left staring at the clock wondering what to do.

Step 3: take a deep breath. Being alone isn’t easy, but it’s healthy. For some people, being alone comes very easy, for others, it’s more of a challenge. Some people grew up around other people so they like company, or contrary, they want to be alone. Others are the opposite, know that the way you react to being alone does not equal or compare to how someone else may feel about it. Enjoy your time alone, or learn to enjoy it. In the end, it will be an experience you value. 20140307-233004.jpg

Step 4: don’t let yourself get away with anything and everything. Being alone you are only accountable to you and for you. When others are around you are responsible for keeping yourself together and being organized. When no one is around it’s easy to stop cleaning, start wearing pajamas, stop doing things you know you should be doing and making excuses that TV is important right now because “you need your rest”. Make a list of things you have to do, for yourself and others, and switch between fun, easy tasks, and tasks you continue to put off…and off…and off.

***Insert giant asterisks here. Being alone can be many things and with many variations. No matter what kind of all you are, all the above apply. Ever meet a person who jumps from relationship to relationship, never being single for more than a week or so? The mom who is with her kids 24/7 and needs a spa day? The athlete who has been pushing themselves and working themselves, all for the team, and isn’t accustomed to spending the day practicing by themselves, or traveling without the group? Or maybe, it’s just you, you at home with a pile of dishes in the sink; you on a trip in a place you’ve never been and you’re just trying to find your way to the hotel; you, dancing on the dance floor all alone! Being alone is many things.

Step 5: don’t panic. Panic and them stop panicking. If you’re not one who enjoys being on their lonesome for some time, this is going to be hard. Even when you think you’re okay, you’re probably not, even when you think you’ve got it under control, suddenly, you won’t. If you need to scream or cry or just punch something, do so, and then pick yourself back up and tell yourself you will do this. Don’t panic.

Whatever you do, use this time as your own. Let your mind wander and think for yourself. Whether you like this time or resent it, you may not know when you’ll have it again.

– SK

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Intro To…Owning Your Own Business December 1, 2013

Posted by doinglaundryinheels in 21st Century/Technology, Around NYC, Education, Finances, Food/Dining, How To, Intro To, Jobs and Work, Real World.
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Intro To…

Starting your own business can be both the most exciting and the most stressful endeavor many people will ever pursue. Most will find themselves working longer hours than they had ever imagined. This is something that should not be taken lightly, and considering the great investment, be it time and/or money, required,, should be fully thought through before making the leap.

The first step is to make sure you’re doing something you enjoy. It will not be uncommon to work 16+ hour days so if you’re miserable from the start…you can expect a short-lived endeavor. At the same time, the satisfaction you’ll feel at the end of the week knowing all the work you put into growing your own business. This will become your child. It will supplant many relationships. It will have you tearing your hair out. You will ride the highs of landing the big contract. You will suffer the lows of balancing your bills until invoices come due. But succeed or fail, you will learn more about business, and more about yourself, than in any other undertaking you will attempt.

Build a business plan. I cannot stress enough the importance of a business plan. Your business plan is your bible. It tells you what demographics to target in your marketing. It gives your mission. It outlines your vision. It is the guide you reference to make sure you are staying true to the company. A basic business plan has an executive summary, company description, market analysis, management and organizational structure, product or service, marketing and sales plan, funding request, financial projections, and an appendix with financial statements, yelp reviews, whatever. If you want to start to get fancy with it, you can do a SWOT (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats) Analysis, investor exit strategy, and milestones. This business plan should, in essence, detail exactly how the company is going to conduct business. It should describe your product or service, what resources are needed to make business function, what your expenses will be through the first 3-5 years, how your staff will be made up, who your main demographic is that you’ll be targeting, what advertising mediums you’ll use. You should know how much revenue you’ll need every week/month/year to pay your expenses and keep the doors open. To complete your business plan, you must answer all of these questions and more. You can hire a professional to help you out (a quick google search returned one that starts at $395, but remember that you get what you pay for), or you can go at it yourself. There are tons of free resources online that you can use, and most cities have free private and government resources you can access as well. I would say this is especially important for the financial section. If you don’t have experience with financial statements, projections, etc., it can prove to be a quite daunting task. Luckily, however, a cheap option can be just reaching out to people at a local university that are in the finance program. While their model likely won’t be as comprehensive as a CPA’s or an Investment Banker’s, it will likely do the job for what you need it.

business-plan-cartoonI’m a big fan of shows like Kitchen Nightmares, or Bar Rescue, and it kills me when I see an owner that has no clue what his expenses are. I studied finance in college so I might be a bit biased, but I view it as the base of every company. If you don’t know what your expenses are, how can you track your trends, see if you’re spending too much this month? How do you know if you’re actually making money? How to you plan for the future? As soon as you start working on a business, you need to start tracking your money. You should know where every last penny went. The easiest way to do this is to hire an accountant/bookkeeper, but we’re going to assume you’re like me and can’t afford one at first. The next best option is to purchase a program like Quickbooks or Peachtree Accounting. While I believe Peachtree is the better software, Quickbooks is the more popular one so it will be easier to get help when you have issues. There will be more message boards, more references, etc. But either way, these softwares are made with small business owners in mind. They are very intuitive and really make your life easier. Then, at the end of the year, your accountant has a well-organized presentation to work off. You will also be able to generate charts and reports that can help you maximize your profit. I would suggest taking a couple of classes if numbers, and more specifically bookkeeping/accounting, are foreign to you, but the hardest part tends to be putting things in the right accounts. Just fight through this process, and in the future, when you can afford someone on staff, you will be able to look over their work with a knowledgeable eye.

If you’re opening a business it should be because you have a talent that you can leverage as the owner. Maybe you knit well, are a chef, studied music, managed retail stores, read a lot and want to sell books, love being outside and want to landscape, or have any other skill that you think can turn into a business. No matter your skill, it is important to realize your limitations. If you are a great cook at home and want to start a restaurant, fine, but realize that your lack of experience will likely end in ruin if you don’t plan accordingly. Hire people around you that fill in the spaces you’re lacking. Hire a co-chef who has substantial experience under his belt. Bring in an experienced manager for you jewelry shop who has retail experience and can understand the daily workings of a shop. Just because you’re the boss doesn’t mean you need to run everything. Do what you do best, and allow everyone else to do their jobs as well. You will, ultimately, have to oversee everything, but if you hire quality employees you can at least know they have the experience to carry over their previous business practices that proved efficient in the past.

Trekking out on your own can be a scary experience, especially for someone who has worked for other people their whole life, but it can be one of the most rewarding as well. There is no shortcut to success in this world, it takes hard work, careful planning, and a little bit of luck, but anyone can do it. If you’re really interested, make sure to do your research and get ready for the ride.

So, how do I know all this? Well, some of it was part of my major, B.A. in Business Administration – Finance from Morehouse College, but most was a learning experience. I’ve worked with multiple start-ups and early stage companies in sectors ranging from financial services to international luxury goods. Today, I stand before you as a Senior Consultant for Philippe Consulting, a boutique small business consulting firm, and a partner in Seasoned Vegan, the first full-service vegan restaurant in Harlem, NY. Look out for both, on DLIH and the business stage of the world!

– Pascal

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Intro To…Making Friends October 31, 2013

Posted by doinglaundryinheels in Friendships, How To, Intro To, Life Lessons/Growing Up, Relationships.
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Intro To…

This you: “I am going to make new friends! Let’s do this, self!”

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This is what really happens: “Please….be my friend?”

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Making friends is the worst! There are people out there who can’t handle a job interview, or the pressure of a difficult class, most people are afraid of heights or asking someone out, I get anxiety over making friends…do you? Here’s the deal, comrades, I really enjoy talking to people and usually once I meet someone at a bar or party or work, we make a pretty good connection, but what happens after that? Have you ever gotten the “Oh my gosh, we’ve got to hang out! Friend me on Facebook and let me know when you’re free!”. Not to sound like a girl on the phone with her bestie, but what does that really mean? Does it mean that you’re sincere and really want to hang out with me, or does it just mean that you’re being polite…or maybe it was just you, in the moment, wanting to hangout and then later realizing I wasn’t that cool. Have you ever done that, actually tried to make plans with the person to no avail? Usually they mean no harm, they’re just really busy or forget to reply. Then you just feel like someone who got stood up on a date, “stupid! stupid! stupid! I actually thought she liked me!”

I guess there’s a misconception about me because of the way I look, that I have loads of friends and I’m totally confident that everyone I meet is just smitten with my movie star smile, but anyone can have trouble making friends, even the people who are the friendliest and can strike up a conversation with anyone.

So, what happens when you’ve just gotten a new job or relocated or started your first day of grad school and you’re thinking “I don’t know a soul?”. You could be that weirdo who walks right up to someone with a firm handshake, practically squealing as you introduce yourself and cry “It’s so nice to meet you!!!!”. Sure, you could do that, and make no friends EVER. Then there’s the laid back approach, the “I’m going to just sit here and be super cool, so cool that people are going to wonder who I am, this cool, cool person, and come up to me”. That works wonders too…arrogant, stuck-up wonders. Finally, there’s the awkward girl in the elevator technique. The one where someone makes a funny joke, and instead of laughing with the rest of the crowd, you hesitate in an effort to not assume you’re part of the crowd, but quickly realize how stupid that makes you look and laugh after the fact, only making people stare at you like the plague. Nice work. So clearly, making friends isn’t as easy as it seems.

Friendship is like shoe shopping; sometimes you try on one pair and you’re good to go but other times it takes a couple of stores and a truck load of boxes to find the pair that’s comfortable and looks good. Meeting new people can introduce you to other new people who will become your friends, don’t try to jump the gun by being best friends with the first person you talk to, friendship takes times. Find what you have in common with others – your personality, your hobbies, where you went to school, where you grew up. Don’t focus on hanging out with people who have material things in common with you like great taste, a fat wallet, or an upscale car brand. Those things are facades to who people really are and what high school friendships are made of.

Don’t be afraid to get personal, keep your guard up and filter the information you share but don’t be a piece of cardboard. Telling people you got plastered at a work party and tried to hit on your boss is probably information that shouldn’t be shared until months or even years of friendship have gone by, but if you’re a little down about just being dumped, talk about it…it makes you human, and relatable. People want to make friends with people who they have an empathetic connection to, not a wall.

There’s no rule that says this is how you make friends, or that is what you should do, but if you follow the rules of your mother, and the mother’s that came before us and “Just be yourself” (with a little bit of risk, of course!) You’ll be meeting great people in no time.

– SK

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Intro To…Facebook Mis-posts August 6, 2013

Posted by doinglaundryinheels in 21st Century/Technology, Friendships, Intro To, Life Lessons/Growing Up, Real World, Relationships.
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Intro To…

Rather recently, I logged onto Facebook expecting to find what I usually do – a couple photos, some less than interesting status updates and a link or two. What my eyes met was a little more than I had bargained for. While scrolling through my feed I came upon a friend’s status that clearly, without out right saying it, was purposefully excluding me. Let me elaborate so our readers can get a clear understanding of what I saw; [there are several versions of the same thought that can be said, or typed, in various ways to make them not at all hurtful or very hurtful. “Excited for next week” is the perfect way to say something where no one gets hurt. “Excited for the big dinner next week!” also acceptable. “Excited for dinner with Pascal next week, but bummed Someone-Who-Is-Not-Pascal can’t make it!”, thirdly and also adequately appropriate. What’s not ok? “Next week is going to be a blast! Can’t wait Pascal!”.]  It seemed like a real slap in the face, and even though no one else on Facebook would even know, or probably care, it was hurtful to see someone I considered a friend post something without the thought that it might come off wrong or hurt.

Now, why did I say that she did it on purpose? After all, I have no way of knowing this. Ask your mom. Yes, ask your mom, or your dad or you aunt Millie, because I guarantee you that growing up someone on this planet told you to think before you speak. When you don’t stop to wonder how your actions, or a post, might affect someone, or may blow something small out of proportion, then you’re making a judgement call that your thoughts and feels are more important than those around you. In my book, that’s intentional…or a total lack of self control, in which case, you need professional help. So…maybe we’ve been there and maybe we haven’t, but chances are everyone has felt slighted or simply aggravated by something that was directed towards them on the web.1328238365125_7107303_large

How do we deal? Your initial response is to do the same back, passive aggressively blast them, call them out, call your best friend and tell him or her what a piece of you-know-what this person is. Don’t do that. Don’t do that and I’ll tell you why. You’re going to be the crazy person freaking out over Facebook. Blow off some steam and then take a step back and evaluate: This is a meaningless piece of social media, internet, garbage that we’re all addicted to. It in no way, shape, or form affects your life with the small exception of staying in touch with people who might be far away from you. It’s an entertainment tool we’ve bought into. That goes for any other similar site, Twitter, Instrgram, you name it. Just because your friend has extremely poor judgement and can’t seem to control their thought process, AND feels the need to blast his or her every thought throughout the webosphere, should not be a reason that you lose your cool. If someone punches you in a bar, that’s a reason to lose your cool. See the difference?

Now that we’re cool, calm and collected, who is this person your friends with? Have they done this before to other people? Is this a first offense? Is this something that you know is part of their personality, and if so, are they just a bad person to be friends with? Seriously, ask yourself this. You’re obviously bent out of shape about it, so why? Have you lost some kind of trust or respect for this person, now that they’ve said something or failed to say something about you on Facbeook and if so, is it worth it? Is losing a friendship over this worth it? If you’re collectively screaming “No!” out there, then stop. There is no right answer. For some people, this may be the last straw. If your friend is okay blasting about you on social media there’s a chance they’re talking about you with other people, and who wants that?

You also have to understand what you’re going to do about this. Don’t make rash decisions but also make the ones you feel are the best, even if they aren’t the easiest. My advice, from personal experience, is to ignore it. You’re going to make a pool of grape slushy out of a little snow (I wasn’t feeling mountain out of a mole hill). However, if you can’t, you’ve got to ask this person what’s up, and NOT by replying to their post. Actually text them or email them or even confront them face to face and tell them that what they said kind of hurt, and you wanted to know if they really felt that way or if it was just tone? Ask them to maybe not post about things that involve you because it makes you feel uncomfortable, or you’re worried it might one day end the friendship. A good friend will apologize, a friend that doesn’t, well, see paragraph 4, line 7.

Social media is a marketing and entertainment tool to stay connected. It’s not real life. I suggest, if you’re having issues, get of the inter-webs, and if this is a one time thing, let it go. Chances are, whatever was said wasn’t really meant the way you thought and if you’re worried the person you’re dealing may not be the kind of friend you thought they were, then that’ll shine through in the real world. Finally, take a lesson from your less than common sense thinking friends, and think before you post.

– SK

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Intro To…Moving and Staying Sane July 2, 2013

Posted by doinglaundryinheels in Apartment Life, Finances, Friendships, How To, Intro To, Life Lessons/Growing Up, Real World, Relationships.
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Intro To…

Last week, I moved out of, what I consider, my first true apartment in New York. When I first left home, at 18, I thought I’d find a cute place and maybe move once or twice but it’s hard to escape the curse of the yearly move. Since then, I’ve lived in eight apartments, moved over ten times, and had four different roommates. You could say I’ve become an expert of sorts, but unlike my better half, who’s faced much of the same, I never got used to moving. Now I’m leaving the first place that was ever mine.

When you live in New York, and you work paycheck to paycheck no one’s going to give you an apartment with a lease and a management company. However, once you finally have your finances in order and a healthy credit line, the door to renting suddenly pops open. I remember the feeling when I found, paid for, and signed my very first real lease. I wasn’t subletting, I wasn’t paying a friend, this place was mine! I was 23. I told everyone I wouldn’t leave this place until something life changing happened and now I am and I didn’t realize that until I got through the packing and sat down in my small city if boxes and bubble wrap.

dont do

Don’t do this!

For me, moving is the epitome of a nightmare, probably because I’ve had so many horrendous experiences with it but at some point, you learn to grow up and deal with it, and along the way you even meet people who are willing to help you out. Part of my moving anxiety was that every time I had to do it, everyone said they’d be there, and then they weren’t. Everyone always had some excuse “I have to work”, “I didn’t realize it was today”, “My mom needs help”, “I have to babysit”, even when I asked them weeks and weeks in advance. The result was me shelling out hundreds of dollars to get movers who wrecked my anxiety even more as I, not so silently, sat and watched them wrap my stuff up. When you decide you’re going to move, everything seems fun and positive but when you start packing your first few boxes and you look around and realize that 90% of your stuff still isn’t packed and you’re already tired…moving can seem like the last thing you ever want to do again.

There’s also the after…you’ve moved, your stuff is in the new place and then you look around and you FREAK! Nothing has a place that’s its own, there is no right or wrong and while to some that’s refreshing, to me, it’s torturous as someone who liked tidiness and order and rarely redecorates because “everything already has a home”. Unpacking seems to take a lifetime and even when it’s all done, you still forget where you put things. I must be the most Negative Nancy when it comes to moving but it’s only because I’ve had it so rough that last eight times. Today, I get to stand on a podium and do my happy dance because in the month of moving activities, packing and paying for it all I freaked out NOT ONCE! You can do it too!

Move #1 to #2 was probably the worst I ever remember. All of my friends refused to help and my apartments were on opposite sides of town. After work, I started two suitcases at a time. I took a bus and subway to and from both places three times. I was lucky to not have any furniture. It was the worst but I did it. Not all experiences are good ones but you have to take a deep breath and know that you can handle it. A few years later, when I was moving for the 6th or 7th time I had furniture….lots of it. I called a few places and got relatively cheap quotes. The quality of the movers wasn’t amazing but you do what you have to do. Bottom line – moving is a big job and you shouldn’t have to do it alone. People like me can’t handle doing it alone, and we freak out, so do the best you can but also know that what you’re feeling isn’t wrong.

Moving gets expensive quickly, a decent roll of bubble wrap can cost $20 easy so keep yourself financially organized. Dip into your savings or a credit card and then make a plan to replace that money over time. Keep a list of everything you paid for or owe so when it’s all over and done with you can see where you are.

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Do this!

Start packing way before you need to. The things you don’t use often or don’t need to use should go in boxes asap. Things like paper towel holders, salt shakers, or winter clothes. Label boxes in case you do need something. You think you have enough time but it creeps up on you. Add one week to whatever you think a good time frame is.

Don’t be stingy about things you need. If it’s something you don’t care for or don’t really use sell it. There’s no point in moving excess. Also if you can get a good price for things it’ll help alleviate cost but don’t make that the priority. Price things to move if you can.

Lists of priorities can be helpful. They make sure you don’t miss anything but also keep you sane. If you have a checklist app those can work wonders for keeping it all organized. Have a schedule of when you’re packing what, even if it’s loose, it makes sure you’re not left with hours worth at the very end.

If you can, have a three-day end schedule. On day three, the day before you move, prep as much as possible to just go out the door. Stack boxes and furniture so it’s an easy system. Get rid of any groceries or bathroom products you won’t need as well as anything you’re not taking. Day two is your moving day, the only thing you’re worried about today is point A to point B. Day one is the last day of your residence in your old place. It’s for cleaning, grabbing small stuff and making sure you’ve done everything. I recommend taking time stamped pictures before you leave, so you have documentation of how you left the space (just incase!).

Lastly, cut yourself some slack! What you’re taking on is a big project that spans a chunk of weeks. It’s ok to be a little stressed or overwhelmed. You’re not superman.

– SK

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Intro To…Your Horrible Boss May 28, 2013

Posted by doinglaundryinheels in Intro To, Jobs and Work, Life Lessons/Growing Up, Real World, Relationships.
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Intro To…

You end up with an amazing job that contains a not so amazing slave driver? How do you deal with? and how long do you put up with it before you 2-week-notice their butts? Speaking from personal experience, I can give you the tools to make work just that much less gruesome.

First and foremost, know that you have rights; and I don’t just mean respect. There are laws in place against discrimination and harassment, for equal pay, work hours and conditions. They’re made to protect you and any violation of these laws is illegal. Everyone says “I hate my boss”, but there are cases out there where employers have actually been fined or jailed due to not following hiring and employment standards. If your seriously concerned that what your boss is doing is illegal, check with the Department of Labor, or your HR department to see what’s up. Don’t be confused or afraid, even the smallest thing, like asking you to work on a Saturday without time and a half can be illegal.
horrible-bossesNow, for the rest of us that are only getting bashed over the head metaphorically, here’s how you can avoid verbally accosting the hand that feeds you. Try to have a sit-down with your boss, sometimes people need assistants, directors, employees to see the things they can’t see. It’s your job to bring it to their attention and if they don’t want to listen, guess whose problem that isn’t…yours. Explain how you’ve been feeling in the most PC way and always come in with a suggestion or game plan of how to change things. Bosses love anything on paper, spreadsheets and documents to outline it. Don’t make it too fancy, so it looks like you haven’t been doing your work but make it clear enough that they can understand it at first glance. Propose a new schedule, a new pay raise based on increased responsibilities or maybe a reorganization of your role so that they can be more hands-off.

That’s another thing, bosses love it when you do things in their favor. Let’s say your boss is an extreme micro-manager, strategize how you can become more of an “office manager” and not just their assistant, set up a weekly reporting system where you meet with them to discuss others progress, work, or financial matters. Perhaps your boss has children, showcase how your pay raise might involve taking over some of their tasks so they can be with the kiddos.

Many times, your horrible boss won’t even listen, they’re so narcissistic that they’re beyond help. In this case, deal. Sometimes, it can help you to make it clear to others in your department that you don’t necessarily agree with all the choices made from above, but that this is your job, and you have to do what you boss asks of you. Do this quietly, and carefully so your boss doesn’t catch wind of any betrayal. Always make your boss feel like their right; The copy machine needs new ink [when it doesn’t] – alright! I’ll get right on that; Mary needs to be reprimanded for being late [because her car broke down] – yes, I’ll speak with her. We must be able to find a desk for less than $45 [from a store where the price point begins at $100] – I’ll give them a call, see what I can do. Once again, when it’s time to deliver the bad news, come in with alternatives, but when your boss is bashing you, don’t let them get away with it, stand up for yourself.

In a personal incident, my employer called myself and my superior into his office and proceeded to tell me how he didn’t trust me, felt I was awful at my job, showed no authority or responsibility and told me that if I needed to work until 1am, without extra payment, it was my job to do so. After holding this particular position for three years, and my superior sitting next to me, not standing up for me, it was my time to shine. I politely told him that I disagreed and while I liked my job very much, I had a full to-do list each and every day and I apologized for not being able to get him the report by 4pm (when he asked me to do it at 1pm) but I did say that I could have it to him next business day, and felt that this was a pretty speedy execution time. To that I got “Well, she (pointing to my superior) thinks you’re good at this job…and I don’t think you can hack it.” Again, I politely disagreed. I was later informed, by “she”, that this was his way of motivating me…too bad he didn’t publicly strip me of my integrity, then I’d have enough motivation to run for president! Moments like this are not okay when you’ve done nothing but a good job, and it’s not okay to fly off the handle, but it is okay to politely disagree and state your case.

Many employers are all talk, sometimes; simply threatening to leave will wrap them around your little pinky. Tell them you’re considering an offer with more money at another place, even if it’s total whoopdioo, you’ll be surprised how replacing you might suddenly seem like a worse alternative than just paying you more.People who feel the need to be horrible bosses all have one thing in common, the thing that sets you apart from them- they’re unhappy, insecure people. So, if nothing else, relish the fact that you are better than that and learn from their behavior so as to not repeat it when it’s your time to be the boss.

– SK

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Intro To…The Dreaded Wedding Speech May 6, 2013

Posted by doinglaundryinheels in Family, Friendships, How To, Humor, Intro To, Relationships.
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Intro To…

Last summer my sister asked me to give a congratulatory speech at her wedding. It was a request that I honestly forgot about until the day before was, at the same time, honored and feared. When I was going through the process I wanted to stay true to myself so I tried to keep the mood light. The majority of the development took place in my head; I had no interest in altering a speech from the internet. If you’re really busy, like I was, having trouble figuring out where to start,  those databases are the easy way out a good way to see what other people have done, what their tone was, etcetera. Just don’t forget that the couple wants to hear from you, if they wanted to hear from someone else, they would have asked someone else. Remember, though, this doesn’t have to be the Gettysburg Address. I tried to think of how my sister had changed now that she was getting married. Her entire life she had just been my mean older sister. I thought of how all of a sudden she was happy all the time. Over time, I realized these were aspects I could draw 2012-01-09-1c2e3ee 2from. This perspective would be a bit deprecating to my sister (that’s expected from her little brother, right?), but would show how her wife had made her a happier person. It would allow me to toss a couple jokes into the mix, as I am known to do, and would strike home with everyone that knew my sister when she was younger. Remembering how she used to be, everyone could then think about their own personal moment. That time when my sister made them chuckle. When she made them shake their head, or when she made them break down on the floor in fits of laughter. That time she got drunk and smacked the mailing list out of the girl’s hand at that concert. I wanted to tie in her life as it was – into her life as it is, and will be.

This was where I began to speak of my relationship with my sister-in-law. This was more-so spoken to her than to everyone else. A couple of days the day before heading 2012-01-09-1c2e3ee 3upstate to start wedding activities, I took out a pad and began to put my thoughts on paper. I tried to think as if I was just talking to a couple of friends about why I was excited to see my sister getting married. Hell, I had been gushing about it for months anyway, I was an old pro at it by now. I ended up tossing a couple of iterations before coming up with something I liked. It was light, excited, and short. I hate long-winded speeches when I’m waiting to get drunk congratulate the newlyweds. I made sure to remind people why we were there and ended it with an invitation to drink. A few laughs, the clinking of glass, and a walk back to my seat and it was over.

In all, it ended up being successful because I spoke from my heart and tried to stay true to who I was. And I kept it short. There’s nothing worse than having to pretend to like someone’s boring speech as they drone on for 10 minutes.

– Pascal

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Intro To…Your Annual Tax Returns February 15, 2013

Posted by doinglaundryinheels in Finances, How To, Intro To, Jobs and Work, Life Lessons/Growing Up, Review.
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Intro To…

Five years ago, my employer handed me a W2. A what? When I found out that I had to do my own taxes, I started having heart palpitations. As a minor, or dependent, it never even occurred to me that this could, one day, be my responsibility. My dad went through all his bills, found his receipts and took a bunch of envelopes to some guy who he then paid for a service. Now, it was my turn to do it all…and I had no idea how. So, now that I’ve becomes a seasoned tax filer, I figured it was time to lend that helping hand.
The first thing you need to understand, are these basic questions:

How much do you need to make to file tax returns? Ever year the IRS releases a minimum amount, in different criteria, that you’ll need to report to the IRS. However, it’s very rare that at a job, even part-time, you’ll make less than the minimum. If you fill out a W9 or W4 or other tax form, you should be on the lookout for something in January. There is also a “no income” tax report that is generally recommended to file if you paid taxes in a different country or did not make an income. There are several reasons to file and not to file at no income, many recommend it just to keep a good record incase you’re ever audited. The IRS or your accountant can give you more information on “no income” or “self-employeed” forms.

When do I get my tax documents? All jobs, employers, schools and etc. need to have their tax papers out to you by January 31st. If you haven’t received everything by the first few days of February, start making phone calls and following up. Sometimes, they may just have your address wrong.

What documents do I get? If you filled out a W4 when you started a job, this means you were considered an employee and taxes were taken out of your paycheck. For this, you’ll receive a W2. If you were a contractor or did freelance work on the books, where taxes weren’t taken out, you probably filled out a W9, for this you’ll receive a 1099. Be aware! You’ll need to pay those taxes when you file so if you haven’t saved up money, or taken taxes out yourself, be prepared to owe. If you get a different type of form, consult a CPA or the IRS website. A W4 and W2 are the two most common tax information forms.

When will I get my refund? Every tax preparer is different and they’ll let you know when and how you can expect your refund. For e-file, which is the most preferred and fastest method, you can get your refund directly deposited into your bank account, in as little as two weeks, but it can take much longer as well.

Now that you’ve got some of the lingo down…there are a couple of hefty details that will help you determine what kind of method you use to file. If you can’t qualify as a dependent, you’re going to need to do this yourself, but that doesn’t mean people can’t help you. Ask friends for recommendations, help with things you might not understand, or even to just sit with you while you do it all, for moral support. Starting out, I did all three.

SudokuTaxFormsUsing TurboTax, or other similar websites. If you work between one and four jobs, don’t have a lot of stock, assets, are single, didn’t make too many large charitable donations and basically are more or less an average 20ish something year old, this’ll probably work for you. They’ve dumbed it down so that a seven year old can do it but they also explain every step of the way, so that you are never confused. Many sites like TurboTax can actually upload your tax documents to help you eliminate typos or mistakes of finding the right box. TurboTax also lets you save your work, so if you don’t have a lot of time or if you want a friend or relative to look over everything before you submit, you can save and go back. It also saves your info and past returns from year to year if you need to refer to them.

Many people resort to using (and paying for) an accountant. Accountants, or CPA’s rather, are much more expensive than using an online type service, which isn’t usually more than $40-$70, but have many advantages. People often use a CPA simply for peace of mind. One small typo or incorrect number and your taxes could turn into a dangerously drawn out adventure you don’t want to embark on. If you aren’t in need of a large return or aren’t worried about spending the cash, this is always a convenient option. People who own businesses, are married, have children or dependents or have special circumstances like assets or stocks may also opt to use an actual person to handle their taxes, as life goes on, taxes become more and more complicated and you’ll want an expert to look into all the nooks and crannies. Lastly, an accountant will work to find you the largest refund, give you the proper credits and probably be able to get you the most money back.

Now, you always have the option to do them yourself….but unless you’re a CPA, studied accounting and got your degree, or are living in a fantasy world, most people probably aren’t suited for this kind of challenge.

Credits and deductions; These can be your heaven and your hell, only credit what’s true and what you can prove. I.E. don’t claim an education credit if you’re not currently enrolled in school, “planning” to go to school doesn’t count. These can get you a lot of money back but they can also get you audited if you’re not careful. When it comes to personal or work credits, add in anything you can prove within reason; movie ticket stubs as “education” because you’re trying to be an actor may not fly if your return comes up under spotlight. Be smart, and if you don’t know, ask for help.

Tips or under the table wages are required to be claimed…do we do it?…no…so it’s your call, but a wise word of advice would be to claim some of it. You want to secure yourself and ensure your credibility incase your “under the table” boss suddenly gets audited and needs to prove where that $300 a month went. Most people who make tips, chose not to report them, because they can’t be tracked but if you simply made additional cash and there are e-mails, or other documents to prove it, I would suggest adding it in. Remember that checks don’t count, a check can easily be tracked, so you should report it.

Watch how your taxes are taken out. On a scary March evening in 2010, SK filed her tax return and owed over 1200 dollars. It turns out her job was not taking out enough taxes to cover government requirements and throughout twelve months, it adds up! Make sure your taxes are being taken out correctly when you fill out your W4 and W9 and withhold if necessary. There are calculators that can help you figure it all out.

It seems like a lot to take in, but it’s really not as complicated as it first appears. Luckily, you’ve got options! Here are some more helpful websites that can answer questions and help you find more information. The main rule about doing your taxes is this, keep calm..and of course, have them done before April 15th!

Choosing the right preparer
W-2 Forms
1099 Forms
No income taxes
Tax Audits

– SK

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*Doing Laundry in Heels and it’s contributors are not tax experts or certified to make any recommendations regarding annual tax returns. Information in this post is based solely on research and experience. When doing your taxes, it’s advised to consult a professional.

Intro To…The Super Bowl Party January 29, 2013

Posted by doinglaundryinheels in Holidays, How To, Intro To, Sports, Tips and Tricks, Weekend with DLIH.
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Intro To…

Super Bowl Sunday, this year, will be on February 3rd.  32 teams tried, and 30 teams failed, to get to this last game of the season. After a 93 regular game season, we’re left with the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers, both damn good teams and we should be in for a treat. For many, Super Bowl is an annual tradition but if you’re not really sure how to conduct yourself at a Super Bowl party, I have a few tips for you.

LeonardGoSports-590x442Don’t ever stand in front of the TV.  Ever.  If you have to walk in front of it to get somewhere, hasten your pace and try to position yourself in an uncomfortable, Quasimodo-esque, hunched position to show that the last thing you want to do is make people miss the commercial.  Keep in mind, I say commercial because if you try to walk in front of the screen when the game is on, you’re liable to get shot.

Speaking of commercials, if you somehow don’t already know, the Super Bowl is as much for the game as it is for the advertising.  This year, the average cost for a 30-second commercial slot went for $4 Million.  Compare this to $1 Million for an Olympics slot, $500k for the same slot on Sunday Night Football and $142k overall on average.  It was here that all the best commercials of the last 20 years have been debuted.  Remember the “Bud”-“Weise”-“Errrr” frogs?  Super Bowl.  Tiny-Vader uses the force to start dad’s car?  Super Bowl.  1984 styled Apple Computer commercial?  Super Bowl.  So, don’t go out of your way trying to see them all, but it’s ok to sit and watch, they can be pretty good.

Now, you’re there to watch the game, of course, so the best way to do this is by rooting for one of the teams.  It doesn’t matter how you choose who to root for.  You can root for the team everyone is going for, or the one nobody is going for.  Pick the uniform you like the most, but by picking a team you will find yourself more engrossed in the game.  It will also get you interacting with everyone else.  You can rib the other team’s fans and celebrate with yours.

Bring something to the party.  Generally, a 6-pack will suffice, but everyone loves when the one guy with the amazing guac shows up.  If you have a great recipe for a casserole, or artichoke dip, this is an ideal time to bring it out.  One year, my buddy’s girlfriend brought peanut butter brownies…I need to find out where she is these days.

Most importantly, though, is pace yourself.  Some parties start around noon but the game doesn’t even start until 6:30.  If you start taking shots at 1:30 you might find yourself under the table and dreaming by kickoff.  Try to stick to beer, if you can, and spread your drinks out with water/juice/food.  It always sucks when you don’t even remember what happened in the game, so stay classy, San Diego, and remember that you have work the next day.

Lastly, If your team wins the big game and you end up at the celebration parade, don’t be this chick…

– Pascal

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