Funemployment: The Logistics

 

I'm currently on my second funemployment journey of my adult life. My first was spent drinking my way through Europe. My second is being spent doing whatever TF I want in the mountains. 

What is funemployment?

Funemployment is when your adult brain meets your child brain. Your adult brain knows you need to pay your bills and be insured. Your adult brain is responsible. Your child brain hates sitting in a cubicle and just wants to go play outside. Your child brain doesn't give a fuck. Funempoyment is when they meet in the middle. You responsibly hoard money and voluntarily quit your job to go play outside, or whatever it is you'd like to do. 

Why?

My reasoning for the first funemployment streak was my desire to travel. I had just graduated college and knew I probably wouldn’t ever get that opportunity again. So I took a month and a half and backpacked across 35 cities with 36 strangers. Reality show or my life? It’s fine.

The reasoning for this second funemployment streak is me wanting to move across the country. As many of you know, applying for jobs is an absolute nightmare. Companies want a resume, a humblebraggy cover letter, and a virgin sacrifice even to get a phone screen. Growing up in the same town I went to college in and then subsequently landed an entry-level position, it was time to move. But even as awful as applying to jobs in your own city is, it’s a million times worse from 1000 miles away.

Someone once told me “nothing says you’re committed to relocation like just showing up.”

I should probably be more careful who I take advice from, because I saved a shitload of money, quit my job, and moved here.

Your reasoning could be much different than mine. The important part is that you have a reason. You can’t just quit your job and lay around for a month. That’s actual unemployment and it’s frowned upon by everyone. Funemployment is much much different, it has purpose.

How?

Spreadsheets are the answer to everything. They are brutally honest and you can’t ignore the numbers. I’ve been tracking every single penny I’ve spent for a little over two years now. I know my spending and saving patterns. I know how much I normally spend on food, alcohol, clothing….everything.

I tracked every single fixed expense I have. This is the part where you need to be completely honest with yourself because fibbing will only hurt you in the end. Small things add up, trust me.

I made sure I had enough saved up to cover 8 months of these expenses. I could live bare minimum for 8 months without getting a job. You may need to be more or less conservative depending on your degree, skill set, work ethic, and demand for your position.

You know yourself better than anyone. I knew if I got even remotely tight on money, I wouldn’t be too proud to work retail or any other part-time job. Account for this as well. I have friends that wouldn’t set foot back into their college jobs, and others who don’t care what they do as long as they have an income.

You also know your stress habits. Do you need retail therapy? Will you need a gym membership to work off stress? Are you going to drink it away in a local bar? These are all fine, but don’t plan to trim these costs if you know you won’t end up doing so.

When?

This is up to you. If you want to travel, research weather and peak times. If you want to move, look how active the job market is and research housing options. There’s no point in quitting your job in December to spend the colder months backpacking, you’ll freeze to death. It’s more expensive to move in the summer months due to popularity. Moving trucks and apartment complexes will cost you an arm and a leg.

The most important thing to remember about funemployment is that you will still be living and spending, but paychecks will not be coming in. You’ll need to save ahead of time for any extras you plan on doing. Suffer now, thrive later. You may need to skip the weekly happy hours with your coworkers so that you can enjoy your normal lifestyle when you’re funemployed.

Funemployment definitely isn’t for everyone. It takes a lot of planning and saving, but definitely takes the stress off in the end. If you want to take a month and see the world or even move to a new part of the country, it might be in your best interest to entertain the idea. Plus, who doesn’t love the idea of a whole month work-free?

 

 

Predictably Irrational

So, what's the point of the suffering through the office coffee, not going out to lunch, and saving $10,000 in six months?

I know myself well enough to know that I don't always think through decisions. I’m impulsive with a wanderlust streak and it's definitely not a healthy habit for my bank account. So I made the conscious choice to cut back on smaller expenses  and essentially hoard money for travel and eventually...a cross country move.

Every antsy almost-grad knows how hard it is to apply for jobs locally, let alone in a different state. Each application takes 45 minutes, a small questionnaire, a perfectly humble cover letter, and a virgin sacrifice. It's awful and exhausting and the second they see your out-of-state address, you get the cookie cutter reject email.

If you're anything like me, your field of study is broad and there are millions of opportunities. How do you even begin to pick an industry? Like, hello, I'm about to graduate and idk what you do, but plz hire me.

And then how do you pick a city to move to? What about the neighborhood? Or an apartment? Will you need a car? What about your health insurance?

Just a few of the moving pieces you need to strategically tack down in order for your move to run smoothly, right? It's enough stress and anxiety to drive anyone back to the comfort zone of cube life in their hometown.

So, after a few automatic reject emails, visits to cities I absolutely hated, and a downward spiral of pointless research; someone finally said something that clicked.

"Nothing says commitment like showing up."

Remember the impulsiveness? Everything inside of me wanted to quit my job, get in my car, and drive. Irrational, right? Not if you plan for it.

I decided if I could take out at least one of the moving pieces, it would make the process that much easier. But what are the logistics of moving across the country with no job lined up? How many months of expenses do you need to have saved up? How much will you spend on moving costs? What if you can't find a job? You need a safety net.

I track my transactions meticulously so it was easy enough to calculate my monthly fixed costs and whatever else it would cost me to live. This is the point where you need to be transparent with yourself.  If you normally spend $200 on alcohol a month, don't think you'll cut that expense just because you move to a different state. You refuse to give up your Hulu, Netflix, and Spotify? Fine, put it in the budget.

Grandma always said "Shit or get off the pot."

Wise woman, obviously we're both elegant with our words.

Pick a number that you would be comfortable with. You know your expenses, you know your habits. But when you hit that number, I advise you to dive head first into your dream. You can't just sit around and hoard money with no purpose; you'll end up with 85 cats and a lot of regrets.

As a few of you know, I hit my number and I am diving head first into Colorado with a murky plan and one hell of a parachute sitting in my bank account.

Is it irrational to move across the country with no job officially lined up? Yes. But if you want it bad enough, you'll find a way to make it work. Predict your irrational behavior.

 

 

How to Take an Affordable Beach Vacation

If you're a post-grad working in the corporate world, you know this feeling all too well. You sit very prim and proper in front of your desktop running reports and doing whatever bullshit entry-level tasks you need to complete on a daily basis. Your company owns you for 40 hours every week, give or take a few. But the weekend? It's yours.

“The weekend represents the 48 hours that you have to fuck up the life you have worked so hard for all week”

— Iliza Slesinger

Sure, you get 48 hours to yourself every single week. But lets take a look at the bigger picture here. Paid time off. It's hands-down the absolute best part of adulthood. I'll venture to say that you maybe get two weeks of PTO every year, three if you're lucky. Let's make the most of your time and money to ensure you have the vacation of a lifetime while also not going over-budget.

So when you only have two weeks instead of your college fall break, Christmas vacation, sprang break, and all of summer to fuck shit up, how do you fit in all the necessary douchebaggary? Also, how do you afford it? Vacations are muuuuch different now that you're footing the bill.

Make a list of things you want to do on vacay. Want to drink on the beach everyday? Cool. Absolutely need a cute insta with your new donut inflatable? Same. Insist on an all you-can-eat seafood buffet? Take me with you. All of these activities need to be planned for and in turn, budgeted for. It's totally fine if you want to spend a whole week on a jet ski, just make sure it fits in your budget. Don't worry, I'll help.

Surprise! I made a spreadsheet. I've broken down your vacation into categories. You may need more or less, depending on your situation. Want to know how to fuck shit up while also maintaining maximum financial responsibility? I thought so.

<img src="http://static1.squarespace.com/static/56d2098e356fb0092139a319/t/57a8bc14e58c620a00553291/1470675996345/" />

1. Lodging

This will most likely be your biggest expense. You'll need to factor in safety, distance to the beach, and convenience. You have three options: Stay with a friend, AirBnb, or book a hotel.

Staying with a friend is obviously the most frugal option. Most people are happy to have visitors, but it never hurts to buy a dinner or a few drinks for your host. Yes, it is free for them as well but it's always aggravating to share your space with guests who aren't respectful or gracious.

AirBnb is personally my favorite option. Want to stay in a hippie bus in Charleston? Or maybe an affordable townhome in Fort Walton? Be sure to look at the map view so you can see how close you actually are to the beach. Also, read the house rules and fine print. Some listings have hefty cleaning fees upon checkout. Others have dogs on site. Message your host beforehand to see if the cleaning fees are negotiable and ask to see when the dog is available for beach Frisbee.

Hotels are normally more expensive but are directly on the beach, provide a free breakfast, and a nice lady brings you new towels each day. Sign up for all the loyalty programs you can for discounts and reward points. Call the front desk ahead of time to see which rooms are cheaper. You can still get the full effects of a beach vacation without a beach view from your window.

2. Gas

Be logical here. You don't need that much room for luggage; you'll be in swim suits all week anyway. You can survive 9 hours in a clown car if it means cutting your gas budget in half. I know the SUV with an extra row of seats may sound comfy for sleeping on the drive, but take a neck pillow and hope your backseat partner likes to cuddle.

Bonus Tip:

Offer to put all the gas on your credit card and have everyone pay you back at the end of the trip. You have a card with reward points, so you'll be getting FREE points.

3. Food

I consider this every time you go to a restaurant. I like to eat breakfast and lunch in and save my money for dinners out. You can use Yelp and Foursquare to research restaurants in the area depending on what you and the squad are hungry for. There's no point in driving aimlessly when you can Google the menu beforehand.

4. Groceries

Keep an eye out for a Publix or a Winn-Dixie. It's much more affordable to make your own turkey sandwich everyday rather than to venture to Subway or Jimmy Johns. Maybe splurge and get a bag of chips, your drunken self will thank you later. Please also pick up sunscreen while you're there. God knows that Florida sun will turn you into a lobster before you even have a chance to eat one.

5. Alcohol

Go to a liquor store instead of getting drinks out every day. $42 got me a fifth, a case of Yuengling, and a douchey plastic cup with built in koozie so I could drink on the beach.

Bonus Tip:

Most things are negotiable. That guy renting jet skis doesn't make anything if they just sit there. He would rather book it to you for a discount than not at all. Most rental stands will trade a review on their website or a picture of you having fun for a percentage off the total price.

Use your two weeks paid vacation to have the most fun possible, but don't blow your budget. Be frugal about your adventures and your wallet will thank you. Sun's out, guns out, and take a shot for me! 

How to Drink on a Budget

So you're hungover on a Sunday morning. You're still completely clothed and wearing last night's make up. You kind of fumble around for your phone only to find that you forgot to plug the charger into the wall...again. Plug it in, wash off your makeup, and get yourself a black coffee. After you decipher through a few texts that were definitely written with a little liquid courage and scroll through Instagram to find a picture that you definitely should have facetuned a little more, check your bank account.

There are two types of drunk people; the one who transfers their whole paycheck into their checking account and buys rounds for every living soul in the bar, and the one who knowingly befriends the first guy and clings to their tab. We've all been both, trust me.

Maybe in college you could ignore your bank app and just assume everything was okay, mom and dad could transfer money over when they saw you were running a little low. Totally fine. Except now you're an adult and I hope you have a bank account that isn't associated with your parents anymore. It's safe to guess that your employer doesn't really care that you spent your whole paycheck in one weekend, they aren't going to deposit any more money.

So you had a good night, you probably have a hangover from Hell if you're 23 or older. But now you have $4 left over unless you move money over from your savings account. But don't do that!

A few of us might be accustomed to the college life of drinking dollar wells Thursday-Sunday, but how possible is that with a 9-5 and two-day hangovers? Your bank account and liver are probably BEGGING you to slow down. So how do you keep your social life without sacrificing your health and your savings?

1. Pregame                                                                                

Get a few bottles of wine or a 12-pack and invite the girls over before you Uber to the bar. Chances are after a few glasses of Moscato, you won't need 6 cranberry vodkas to keep your feet numb enough to wear heels all night.

2. Check Facebook for Local Events

There's a Facebook event for everything these days. I'm sure you can find a Bierstube or concert nearby that will have cheap beer or is BYOB.

3. Local Wineries and Breweries

Most local business are just trying to get their name out there and get new customers in the door. Breweries and wineries often offer flights or tastings so you can experience their product without a huge financial commitment.

4. Clearance Alcohol

CVS and Wal-Mart are the best for this. Do I like SkinnyGirl Vodka? No. Will I buy it if it's half price? Absolutely.

5. Festivals

I can't tell you how many little plastic cups I've accumulated over the years from these. The tickets are usually reasonably priced and you can fill up your sample cup as many times as you want. Bonus points if you end up with a pretzel necklace.

What's the over under that you end up at your favorite watering hole anyway? It's the thought that counts though, right? I advise you keep a cold Gatorade in your fridge and stay away from your savings account, the rest is up to you.

The Dos and Don'ts of Buying a Car

Unless you live in a city where you rely on public transportation, at some point in your life you're going to have to look a car salesman in the eye and pretend like you know your shit. If you're anything like me, you don't know the difference between an oil filter and your gear shift.

It's extremely intimidating when a man in a suit is trying to sell you a $20,000 pile of metal that you're just not quite sure about. It's okay, Google and I will help you. Here's a few pointers to get yourself painlessly through the car buying process.

Do: Set a Price Range

Once all your finances are stable and the dust has settled from starting your first big boy job, you should know how much wiggle room you have for a car payment every month. A good rule of thumb is to put 20% down on the car right away, then no more than 10% of your monthly paycheck should go towards payments.

Do: Your Research

Search online, ask your friends, and read reviews. Kelley Blue Book is a great online tool for honest pricing. You should know the basics of what you do and don't want before you step foot on a car lot, especially when it comes to pricing. Don't be afraid to correct the salesman when he quotes you the wrong price on the fully loaded model. If you've done your research, you'll be confident in your purchase.

Don't: Be Married to a Color

Narrow it down to two or three, but don't be dead set. If you tell the salesman you definitely want red, he knows you'll be willing to pay more for the color you want. Being flexible on the color gives you some leeway when it comes to pricing. On the other hand, if you know the dealership only has a red model and you tell them you 100% want the black model, they will likely lower the price to compensate for you not getting your first preference.

Do: Have a Maximum Price in Mind

After you've done all your research, you should have a solid idea of the maximum price you should pay for the make and model you want. Keep this number in mind as you negotiate the price of your new car. Don't be afraid to argue and compromise with the account, no one pays sticker for a car. With that being said...

Don't: Be Afraid to Walk Away

You don't have to buy the car, no one is making you. If the accountant isn't willing to go as low as you'd like, leave. You're not offending anyone and you're not obligated to buy anything if you don't want to.

Do: Research the Dealership

This goes for any car lot or dealership. Some make commission and some simply have a quota. I prefer to buy cars from companies who give their employees a quota to sell. They tend to care less about the price you are paying and are willing to work with you more. They're goal is to sell you a car, not get the highest price out of you.

Don't: Be Afraid to Ask questions and Test Drive

The salesman is ultimately there to help you. It's his or her job to be the expert and answer any question you might have about the vehicle. Don't be afraid to utilize their expertise. You did your research online but they will likely be able to better explain any explanation you found.

Do: Be in Love with your Purchase

In The Blind Side, Sandra Bullock states "If you don't absolutely love it in the store, you won't wear it". I believe this is true in most situations. If you aren't absolutely in love with the car in the lot, you won't be in love with it when you get home.

Finally...

Don't: Rush into Anything

Buying a car is a large purchase and will most likely be your first large loan to help build your credit score. You shouldn't rush into anything and possibly regret your decision later on.

Follow my steps to make this process as painless as possible. Buying your first car should be an exciting experience and should leave you with a car to love for several years down the road. Think of this as both an investment and also a tool to further build your credit. Good Luck!!