In the summer of 2011, I drove 10,000 miles with a group of friends. To answer the obvious questions: from Miami, Florida, to Washington state and back; we drove a minivan; got pulled over once; yes, we still speak to each other. It was an amazing experience, but I’m doing things differently next time. Let me help you learn from my mistakes.
Do plan ahead
Vacation is great, but it takes place in the middle of real life. Start researching destinations, transportation, and who you’re going with at least a few months in advance. Things like this can get complicated fast, especially when multiple opinions get involved, and you’ll want to have it figured out by the time you leave.
Do you have a jam-packed itinerary in front of you? Cut it by a third. Having to stick to a timetable is sometimes necessary, but the best parts of road trips happen when you least expect them. Make sure to leave time for exploring, getting lost, and driving aimlessly. The five-week trip I took should’ve taken three months. I had fun, but in retrospect I wish I’d slowed down a bit.
Do bring what you need
You will get hungry and tired. Stock up on prepackaged snacks that aren’t too terrible for you. Not only will you feel better eating granola bars and beef jerky than truck stop nachos and candy bars, but you’ll save money by buying in bulk (Pro Tip: stash ‘em in the trunk, that way they don’t vanish before you cross the state line). Trying to sleep in cramped positions and bright lights isn’t fun, so bring pillows, a bunch of light blankets, and even eyeshades to make sure you can rest.
Seriously reconsider bringing any large item if you don’t plan on using it every single day. You want to be comfortable, but cars fill up fast. If you need an everyday item while on the road, chances are that you’ll be able to pick it up for about the same price as you’d be able to get it at home. Any specialty items can be borrowed or rented temporarily. Trust me—you don’t have to cart around the boogie board because you might use it that one time you go to the beach.
Do make a budget
Know how much you have to spend before you leave, and get a ledger book to record every expense while on the road so you can watch where your money is going. If bills like gas and hotels are being split with friends, this is also a good way to maintain transparency so nobody feels cheated.
I scored huge discounts on an all-day whitewater rafting trip in Colorado and a local delicacy in California by signing up for daily deals emails for the cities I knew I’d be visiting. Sites like Groupon, Living Social, Scoutmob and AmazonLocal also offer coupons for practical things like hotels and restaurants, so a bit of advance planning can save a lot in the long run.
Do scrutinize your travel buddies
There’s a big difference between a good friend and a good driving partner. Close quarters, long hours, and short tempers can leave you wanting to push your closest friend out of the moving van. But on the other hand, late night talks that start as a way to stay awake can turn into deep, meaningful conversations that catch you by surprise. Put a group together carefully so you can minimize the former and maximize the latter.
Don't get cliquey
If you’re traveling with more than three people, make sure that everyone gets along with each other and that you can mix and match. It’s nice to be able to spend time with each member of the group, and make sure you get some alone time.
Most importantly, remember that this is a vacation! Try new things, eat local food, take lots of pictures, and do something reckless every now and then. Some of the best stories end with “I can’t believe I did that,” so make sure to step outside your comfort zone. Trips like this can be once-in-a-lifetime experiences, so take advantage.
A friend of mine, “Luke,” had a birthday outing this last weekend. After several rounds of pool, I ended up in multiple discussions about student loans, as most of us were college grads with an array of loans and not enough money to pay them off.
Someone mentioned the Income-Based Repayment Program (IBR) and the Promise of Forgiven Loans after 25 years. We ooohed and aaahed and praised the government for getting our backs, but, unfortunately, no one knew the specifics of the program or requirements, so the conversation fizzled.
Not one to give up, and with tens of thousands of dollars in loans, I’ve been researching the program, and it’s quite phenomenal. ibrinfo.org, a nonprofit source of info on forgiveness programs and federal loan repayment as well as part of The Project on Student Debt, has all the info you’d need to find out if you qualify for the programs, as well as a loan calculator, FAQs, U.S. Dept. of Education links on the programs, and a quick-hits video on what it’s about. Check it out. For realsies.
Here’s my quick summary:
Federal student loans (Direct or FFEL) qualify if you’d have to pay “more than 15% of whatever you earn above 150% of poverty level to pay off your loans” with a standard 10-year repayment plan. Your new IBR payments will likely be no more than 10% of your income, and after 25 years of payments, any remaining debt is forgiven.
This program, separate from IBR, is for those working in public service–for the “gubment,” or 501c3 nonprofits. After 10 years of making loan payments while working at the qualifying job (IBR can be used during those 10 years also), any remaining loans are forgiven.
Again, that’s a brief retelling, but check out the IBRinfo site for everything you need to know. In homage to the immortal words of Ice Cube, check yourself before you wreck your bank account payin’ those things off.
Inflation isn’t one of those things that only affects “grown ups” with 401(k)s and serious money plans. It affects everyone.
According to the BBC, “Inflation is the rate of change of prices for goods and services.” Basically, that means it’s how quickly prices change over time. For example, when a brand-new book costs $15.99 in 2011 and the same brand-new book costs $16.99 in 2012. But this isn’t necessary bad: as Jens stated in this article about inflation and deflation, “steady, controlled inflation stimulates economic growth.” So there’s a silver lining in there.
One way inflation affects twentysomethings like us is that increased inflation will make stuff cost more year after year (hopefully, this includes our paychecks). That means groceries, rent, gas, etc., are going to be more expensive. You can use this great inflation calculator from the Bureau of Labor Statistics when budgeting for next year’s purchases.
But inflation’s biggest effect is for retirement planning. This may seem like something that doesn’t concern us, but it should—if you have a paycheck now, you should be stashing some of it away for when you’re retired! The Simple Dollar explains it perfectly:
Let’s say you make $40,000 a year and you’re thirty years from retirement. Using a quick rule of thumb, you figure you’ll need $1 million in your retirement account to retire. Not so fast. You’re actually figuring that million dollars without thinking about inflation. The truth is that with 4% annual inflation, you’re going to need $3.24 million in thirty years to equal what $1 million is worth today.
Inflation is going to be an ever-present factor in our financial lives—from the food we buy to the houses we live in to how much money we have to live on after we retire. All it takes is a little extra planning to make sure we don’t get bitten by the inflation bug years down the road.
For the upcoming November issue of our parent publication brass magazine, I got to chat with some incredibly creative and talented hair and makeup artists on what it takes to break into the beauty industry. Here, we have the good fortune of publishing the extended interview outtakes that we couldn’t squeeze into the article. Read on for tips on networking, polishing your craft, and getting your foot in the door.
Beth Schneider, barber
Beth is a barber at Birds Barbershop in Austin, TX, which has been named one of the best salons in the country by Elle magazine
How did you get into barbering?
I have been cutting hair since I was a teenager. I was a punk kid and used to give everyone cool cuts. Barber school seemed much more my style than cosmetology school. I am much more attracted to the relaxed, family-style environment at barber shops than the sometimes dramatic environment salons can have.
Barbering is a true trade passed down from generation to generation. While things go in and out of fashion, being a skilled barber never does.
What training did you undergo?
I learned every type of men’s cut there is, from tight fades to military cuts. I also learned how to do straight razor shaves. The training has much less of an emphasis on women’s cut and color.
What tips would you give for being successful as a barber?
Practice, practice, practice. Finding a job can be hard, of course, but it is all about putting yourself out there. Make yourself available, work hard and offer to cut hair for everyone you meet. Network as much as possible and get your foot in the door somewhere.
Rubi Jones, hairstylist
Rubi is a Paris-based freelance hairstylist. She has styled hair behind the scenes for runway shows including Chanel, Valentino, and Jason Wu.
What inspired you to pursue a career in fashion?
While in college I did a semester abroad in Paris. I remember seeing the tents in the Tuileries during fashion week and so badly wanting to be a part of that world. After my study abroad, I spontaneously enrolled in beauty school, and absolutely loved it from day one. A few weeks into it, I learned that I could do hair for fashion shows and magazines and began to pursue this part of the hair industry.
What would you say separates hairstylists who do fashion and editorial work from those who don’t?
I think it’s a matter of goals, ambition and talent, in that order. When I moved to NYC, I knew other hairstylists who wanted to do the same but didn’t for whatever reason. I think everyone who wants to do something can do it and in my case, I sold pretty much everything I had and moved across the country because I felt like I needed to live in NYC for my career. Once in NYC I worked at a very prestigious salon that was extremely cutthroat. The hairstylists who weren’t talented enough or didn’t have tough enough skin for the environment didn’t last longer than one year in the salon.
How do you find freelance jobs?
All of my jobs are through people that I know in the industry, mostly word of mouth and from emailing agencies that represent hairstylists. I constantly email agencies that represent hairstylists I want to work with.
What do you love most about what you do?
I love that my jobs are never longer than one week long. I love that I am constantly surrounded by creative people and I especially love that I literally get to play dress up for work.
Lazarus Jean-Baptiste, makeup artist
Lazarus’ work has been featured in magazines including Glamour and Vogue Germany, and his clients past and present range from 50 Cent to Camilla Alves to his favorite author, Anne Rice.
How did you transition from working at a makeup counter to the fashion and editorial work you do now?
I wanted to build a book, so I started to do testing with photographers. After hearing for a year that I should be in New York, I had a chance of being an editorial artist–-so I quit my job and started working in editorial in New York and building a portfolio. I started assisting, and I eventually got an upstart agency to give me a try.
How can makeup artists get assisting gigs?
Contact every agency in your area. Send out an email to an agency, say hi, and be specific–say, “My name is so and so, I’m a new makeup artist, I’m starting to work on my portfolio book, and I would love the opportunity to assist one of the artists at your agency. I particularly like the work of so and so, so and so, and so and so.” That way you’re giving the agent some guidance as to who you’d like to be paired with, whose style you like.
A lot of times you’ll be volunteering, sometimes it’ll be paid, but you have to kind of pay your dues–a lot of times the assistant will get little to nothing. What you’re there for is to learn. You’re going to learn different techniques from the person you’re assisting; you’re going to learn protocol on set. It’s subtle things like that that you learn–those little nuances of the business.
What seems to hold new makeup artists back the most?
The most difficult thing, I think, is that people get disillusioned with their idea of what the business is. I think that people think it’s easier to make it than it is, and when they find out how difficult it is to sustain a living as a makeup artist, they walk away.
I would say speak to and spend as much time with makeup artists as possible to get a realistic concept of what it is to be a makeup artist. And stay committed to it if this is REALLY what you want to do. Sometimes people just think, “I’m gonna pick up a brush and start doing models….and I’m gonna be doing Vogue. And I’ll give myself two years for this to happen.” That’s not realistic. It CAN happen, and it has happened, but you need a horseshoe for that, you know. People don’t set out for medical school and think they’re gonna be the chief of surgery in two years. You have to set realistic goals and find a way to support yourself doing it–whether it’s doing weddings, working in a department store, or working in a salon.
How should makeup artists network?
Some people can be aggressive, as in they want something from every person they meet. They’re not bringing anything to the table, but they expect you to be their contact. You can smell a person like that a mile away. People will be like, “Can you connect me with them?” And I’m like, “Are you serious?! I just met you dude!” Most professionals stay away from those people. It’s more important to establish your skill, and show yourself to be a nice person.
The biggest thing is to know how to market and brand yourself, because in our day and time, you’re a brand. Everything from how you look, to how you speak matters in the amount of work you get. How you present yourself, the way your website looks will determine how much work you get. If you have poor hygiene, bad breath, body odor, I don’t care how beautiful your makeup work is–people are not gonna want you within 10 feet of them! You’re in somebody’s personal space! I know it sounds kind of basic, but you’ve gotta tell people stuff.
Mark Hopkins, makeup artist
Mark’s resume includes years of experience in the corporate world for Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, and as a senior makeup artist for the brand.
What kind of personality traits does it take to be successful as a makeup artist?
I think personality can help or hinder, and you find all different types. My personality is a little bit softer spoken. I listen to what clients are saying, because that’s the most important thing–listening, and honing in on the client. As a makeup artist, it’s not really about you being this huge personality and coming in and wowing everybody. It’s really through your brush that you show what you can do. But, there has to be something about you that makes people want to see what you can do, as well–-whether it’s the way you look or the way you dress, or just your personality, your confidence. You can be really quiet and subdued and still exude confidence.
What is most challenging about the industry?
The industry can be kind of fickle, and fashion can be fickle, and you just have to learn to step with the personalities that you encounter. That’s probably the biggest stress. And working under pressure, working while a hairstylist may be yankin’ on your model’s head, while you’re trying to do eyeliner on her, and literally you have to get it done. You have no choice. It’s having that perseverance, and that “Can-do” attitude. If she’s not done, and she can’t hit the runway because you didn’t get her makeup on, then it’s your fault.
What do you love most about what you do?
I find that as long as I have a brush in my hand and someone to paint, I’m happy. It’s the times when you’re trying to figure out what to do or who to work for next that are tough. Working with people and making people pretty, and knowing that you did something to make someone feel good about themselves is always rewarding.
If you’ve recently been laid off or are in the middle of a job search that seems to be going nowhere, the term “funemployment” probably sounds annoying.
But the And then We Saved blog has a great series on one woman, Stephanie Morillo, who’s making the most of her unemployment. The posts cover everything from the personal (making a list of what’s important to her) and the practical (filing for unemployment and budgeting). You can read parts 1-3 here.
Ed. Note: Don’t forget to participate in our Giving Challenge for a chance to win money for a charity or cause of your choosing.
When I was a seven-year-old towhead living in Shaqlawa, Iraq while my parents worked for a humanitarian organization after the Gulf War, it was the soccer ball my three-year-old brother and I kicked out on the brick street under the ancient mulberry tree in front of our house that transcended the language and cultural barrier and integrated us with the neighborhood kids.
Kids the world over love playing soccer. Giving soccer balls to kids in dire situations is one awesome way to bring a little joy. Problem is, the majority of kids playing soccer aren’t playing on grass. Most soccer balls are manufactured for well-manicured pitches and flawless artificial turf. Dirt swaths hacked out of the mountain rain forests in Thailand, rock-strewn hard-pan in Mexico, or uneven and cracked sidewalks in Brazil’s favelas are hard on soccer balls.
Most of the balls gifted by well-meaning individuals or donated in bulk by humanitarian organizations end up popped, deflated, and destroyed in a matter of days due to the sharp and uneven surfaces. If they survive the popping, they eventually go flat anyway. Without a pump, they’re as useful as a screen door on a submarine.
Entrepreneur Tim Jahnigen (hat-tip to The New York Times for bringing his story to my attention) decided to improve the gifts’ impact by improving their construction. With backing from Sting (the singer, not this bro), he developed the One World Futbol. It’s made out of Crocs-like foam material and is virtually indestructible. Giving has the most impact when you match the gift to the context it will be used in, and One World balls are now being kicked around in harsh environments in 137 countries. For $25 bucks you can donate a ball, or get one for yourself and give one for $39.50.
It’s great to give, but it’s even better to give in the most-effective way possible. Don’t just look for the quickest and easiest way to temporarily fill the need, but figure out the best way to make a long-term impact.
I’m getting ready to head to Thailand in a couple of days to partner with a local church on a building project that’s providing homes for children in the rural mountain regions. It’s a locally run project with 20 years of sustained success at keeping kids in school and off the streets of Thailand’s major cities. I was planning on packing some regular deflated soccer balls and a pump to kick around with the kids. Now I’m going to order some One World Futbols.
Shaking the nickel bush is the act of making money with your own ingenuity, skills, and luck. The phrase comes from Ralph Moody’s excellent book of the same name. Here’s how we’ve shaken the nickel bush.
A matching (they’re both broken) washer and dryer set have been sitting in my garage for a while now. The washer’s tub cracked so it leaks water all over the floor, and the dryer’s heating element is barely functional, meaning that all clothes are dried on low heat regardless of dial setting. These appliances have been cluttering up my workspace, because I didn’t want to pay the $46 fee to dispose of them at the dump, and they aren’t worth fixing.
With the spirit of simplification wafting around the office, I felt inspired to look for other options for my old appliances. An ad campaign for local scrap-metal recycling business Burcham’s Metals has been playing on radio stations lately, so I checked it out. Turns out, there’s a legal way to launder money. I’m always into shaking the nickel bush, so I loaded up a borrowed trailer with my busted washer and dryer and headed out there.
The washer and dryer are made out of tin and Burcham’s is paying out $0.08 per pound. Their combined 241 pounds netted me $19.28. That’s a heck of a lot better than paying the dump $46. Even better, the tin will be processed and turned back into new goods rather than sitting in a landfill for the next millennium or whatever it takes to break down.
Before you trash something, check around to see if there’s a way to cash out on it.
I admit that I’m a beauty product junkie. If it promises to plump, lashify, de-wrinkle, and de-puff in all the right places, I’m on it.
Thanks to this vulnerability to shiny tubes and bottles, I’ve accumulated a mega collection of makeup, products, and product samples over the years–from worthless snake oils to stuff that really does work like a charm. You probably wouldn’t suspect this if you just met me, though, because I go rather au natural in the makeup department. I don’t like to spend more than 30 seconds in the morning swiping on mascara as I run out the door.
Somehow this puts no damper, however, on my desire to own twenty shades of eyeshadow, half a dozen tubes of foundation and concealer, and an arsenal of lip color.
This summer I had a change of heart. After spending nearly 8 straight weekends out of town visiting family, I got so sick of packing every weekend, that I ended up living off a rotation of clothes and a toiletries bag that I kept ready to go at all times. The toiletries were really basic. Shampoo, conditioner, mini bottles of one to two hair products, toothpaste, moisturizer, and makeup: powder foundation, bronzer, a little eye makeup, an eyelash curler, chapstick, and maybe a wildcard lip color.
Once I got used to traveling around with the bare minimum all the time, I discovered how refreshing it was not to have to mess with so many different products and options.
It turns out I’m actually more into the idea of products than actually using products. And that’s been taking up a lot of space in my life.
At the end of the summer, I decided to go through my makeup and products and commit to a massive overhaul. The result is a much more pared-down collection that makes a lot more sense for my personality and lifestyle.
- The old, crusty stuff. I don’t really follow those “replace your foundation every 6 months” rules, because c’mon, if I throw down 32 bucks on a product, I’m going to get every last drop out of it. But I had some stuff that was embarrassingly geriatric in makeup years–I’m talkin’ pots of goo going on 5+ years old. Gross. (This included a massive jar of Lancome body cream I got for free for being a product tester for Allure magazine….in 2004.)
- Nice products that just don’t work on me. I had an extensive collection of department store makeup counter lipsticks, lip glosses and lip stains in colors that I either no longer liked or weren’t that great on me to begin with. Some my mom had bought me, and others I’d shelled out for, but the point was: they were expensive. I think looking at that nice stuff every time I opened my makeup drawer was kind of comforting to me–like, “Ooh, fancy lipstick, I guess I’m a fancy lady.” But I finally got to the point that I just didn’t want it cluttering up my life any more.
- Cheap products that suck. You don’t have to pay tons of money to get quality makeup products, but sometimes the cheap drug store stuff just doesn’t work well, no matter how many layers of crumbly eyeshadow you try to brush on. I finally kicked some of the cheap stuff out that was causing more hassle than help.
- Empty tubes and bottles. Yep, I’d held onto some empty bottles just because I wanted to remember the product names. Now I have a page in a notebook with all the info I need for the next time I shop.
What I kept:
- The everyday basics I actually wear. This now fills up just a small makeup bag.
- Mini samples of my favorite products. I love my sample-sized products and use them for travel and backup if I run out of the real deal. I corralled all my minis together and stored them in one place so they don’t clutter up my main makeup stash, but I have them just in case.
- Some extras in case I need to get legitimately done-up. I held on to one or two extra lipsticks and some liquid eyeliner in case I have a wedding or holiday party to attend.
- One or two funky items just for kicks. I might need that saturated palette of bright blue eye shadows for a Halloween costume, right? I kept it. I also held onto my set of individual false eyelashes, even though I wanted to rip out my own lashes the last time I tried to apply the falsies. Maybe I can get a friend to help me out.
My makeup collection has gone from giant and grungy to easy, breezy and I couldn’t be happier.
I’m no expert in writing resumes, cover letters, or letters of interest to prospective employers. Granted, I’ve written a few and I even worked at my university’s writing center as a college estudiante, but when it comes to real-world practice, I’m constantly changing the way I put together my resume—we’re talking tone, style, and word choice just as much as format and font.
Somewhere inside the Internet I once read an article about making yourself stand out (old hat, I know) in the application process. This article went on to postulate that the best way to do this was to have a unique style in your cover letter and resume—both in deviation from the template provided by your ‘puter and the information with which you stuff it. I thought this to be a load of horsefeathers, since I always imagined a horde of bespectacled sexagenarians blanching as they reviewed my uncouth resume before their shaking hands swept it into the nearest trash can (sexagenarians generally hate recycling).
I unconsciously maintained this mindset until sharing some asparagus and steak with a roommate (let’s call him “Dan”) I had had in college. During our conversation, in which he was tootin’ off about his new suave job, “Dan” told me he had decided to take a risk in the application process.
“I wanted to make myself stand out from every other graphic designer out there,” he told me. Leaning back, he breathed through his nose, opened his eyes wide, and fanned all ten of his fingers flat on the table. “Under objective, I said I wanted a job that paid enough that I could buy a sports car, snag a trophy wife, then drive around maniacally before falling asleep on a pile of money.” He blinked, then smiled. “And it worked. The interviewers said they absolutely had to talk to me after seeing my resume.” “Dan” landed the job with ease, and said that in the interview, his soon-to-be boss again commented on the ability of the unorthodox resume to grab her—and others’—attention.
Now, I haven’t had to interview for a job since I had this discussion, so who knows how well this tactic might work in any other situation. However, in an employment environment such as this one, taking such a risk as a tongue-in-cheek objective statement might be your ticket to Destination Payday.
I clean out my closet once every six months and consign whatever possible. Because consignment stores split the profits from their sale with the consignee, it’s a win-win situation: I get rid of clothes and I make some cash!
Here’s how to consign your clothes:
- What can you sell? Shirts, pants, shoes, jewelry, handbags, outerwear, scarves… Most consignment stores will accept both men’s and women’s clothing and accessories. This goes without saying, but don’t try to consign torn or stained clothing or your underwear.
- Wash and iron the items you want to consign. If an item smells funky or looks dingy, the shop may not accept it.
- Research your local consignment shops. Check out their websites or call them to figure out what types of items they accept, when you can drop off clothing, their consignment rates, and reimbursement methods. Many stores will wait for your items to sell before they cut you a check. They may also offer higher in-store credit (for example, you could get 20% of your sale in cash or 40% in credit for shopping at the store).
- What happens to your clothes if they don’t sell? Many stores automatically donate items after their retail period is up (stores like to stock in-season items, so they won’t need your cashmere sweater after winter). Talk to your consignment shop and see if you can pick up your items if they don’t sell.
- Choose the store for you and set a reminder for when your items may be picked up if they don’t sell. If you’re game, you may be able to make a few extra bucks taking items that don’t sell at one store and consigning them at another, provided they’re still in-season. But this won’t work at a consignment store that cuts you a check outright when you drop off your items.
I’ve never made boatloads of cash consigning, but $20 here or $30 there is perfect to help out a little with date night.