Do you ever look around and think “How do they afford things?”

When I was little I heard my parents talk about how much things cost and what they could afford.  I always thought you make money, buy what you need to live and save the rest for luxuries.  I didn’t understand loans, buying items with credit cards and investing money.  I just thought you get a paycheck and you buy what you can with that money.  Throughout my life I’ve seen people with good jobs have really nice things and wondered: how are they paying for it?  I guess I was very naïve and careful with my money.

I’m still conservative when it comes to spending money, but I feel like I have a better understanding of how you buy and pay for what you want in life.  I’ve learned that a lot of people in this country buy items, pay with multiple credit cards and live in debt.  I’m surprised how many credit cards a person can acquire and how much debt they can ring up without many consequences.  Others finance items like cars, furniture and home improvements.  On the other hand, my mom reminds me about how people inherit money, invest well or just know how to pinch a penny.  It’s very true.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of people out there that work their tails off and have good paying jobs and make money to afford things.  I’m just amazed sometimes when I know how much my family brings in and how much we spend and I see that there isn’t always a lot left for luxuries.  That being said, my husband and I like to pay all of our bills on time and don’t have a lot of debt.  I also realize that the amount we paid in school loans could have been spent on other things.  Maybe some people don’t have school loans to pay.

When pondering these things I think: 1) what does that person or family do for a living 2) how do they spend the money they earn (food, clothing, housing, car, travel and possessions) 3) do they have a lot of debt, and 4) are they responsible with their money or do they spend frivolously?  There are lots of reasons why people are able to afford the finer things in life, but don’t you still wonder sometimes how your next door neighbor can afford their nice updated house, two beautiful cars, and a great vacation every year?  I know I do.  I’d like to be a fly on the wall when people make decisions about their money and what they buy.  So tell me how you afford things in life!!!!

What is your idea of a perfect vacation?

A couple of times a year I stop and think about taking a vacation.  I ponder where I would like to go this year and what trips I’d like to take in the future.  I’m not one of those people that thinks of it often and wishes they could fly off to get away from their life, but I do like to plan at least one long trip every year: ideally somewhere warm.  It wasn’t until I was an adult though that I realized this isn’t an ideal vacation for everyone.  Some people hate the heat and sand and would rather go to a cold location.  Other people want to see as many sites as possible in their lifetime.  So what makes a perfect vacation for you?

I myself like warm and sunny places where you can walk a lot.  I like seeing the sights and laying on the beach or lounging poolside.  I need a break from doing the dishes and making meals.  Great food, shopping, and entertainment is a plus and I prefer to rent a house rather than staying in a hotel room for a week.  The most important factor though is not rushing around.  I don’t want to get up early and rush out the door.  Sleep is nice on vacation, but I’m ok without it if I’m having fun and there’s a Starbucks nearby.  Sunsets are beautiful but I have yet to see a sunrise over the ocean.  And finally I like eating in bed when I can. Never leaving a comfortable bed is such a luxury on vacation!

I’ve been to various cities in South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, West Virginia, New Hampshire, Maine, Michigan, Nevada and California.  I’ve also traveled through Canada and enjoyed Aruba and Puerto Rico.  My favorite vacation spot so far is California.  I spent my honeymoon there and I loved every minute of it.  The weather is warm, the beaches are great, you can walk, shop and swim in their fabulous pools.  Someday I’d like to buy a second home near the beach in California so we can vacation there every year!

So basically I want a break from reality when I’m on vacation.  I don’t want to cook or clean or do laundry.  I don’t want to run errands or chauffer kids around.  And I definitely don’t want to freeze my ass off!  I want to relax and listen to the ocean and be outside as much as possible. But this isn’t always what my family sees in their perfect vacation.

My husband likes to get a lot of sleep and rest on the beach.  He enjoys swimming and trying new foods. Shopping and walking isn’t high on his list but thankfully he likes going somewhere warm.  My kids want to swim and eat in bed but they don’t like to walk or shop.  Growing up my dad never liked warm places or the beach.  He thinks Disney World is awful.  Too many people and too hot, he says. He’d rather travel through Europe or take an Alaskan cruise. New England is one of his favorite places. My mom loves renting a house, hanging out at the beach and eating out every night.  She wants to shop until you drop and explore new places.  This is obviously where I get my vacation tendencies from.

So what makes a perfect vacation for you?

Did your bad job launch or stunt your career?

Here’s a topic almost all of us can relate to: bad jobs. Most of us at some point in our lives have had a bad job or two or three. Looking back on them we can laugh (usually) and figure out how it made us stronger in some strange way. Let me share with you some of my gems and how they helped me.

Picture this, I’m a naïve college student who wants a summer job in the legal field. This internship entails a lot of administrative work: filing, answering phones, reviewing cases, etc. The exciting part of the job was when my boss would take me to the county jail and hearings in court. However, this was also the downside of things.

So here I am 19 years old and heading to the local lock up. I would’ve gotten off easy with just catcalls. I’ll let your imagination wander here for a second. My first solo interview in the jail was with a middle aged man who was accused of raping a young woman. Awkward! Despite my fears, the conversation went really well.

The craziest part of this job was the sexual harassment claim that I should’ve filed against one of the attorneys in the office. He would call me daily on one of the four phone lines that I answered and proposition me. That was the easiest part to handle. He brought his “A” game when he saw me in person. One time I was filing in a lower file cabinet and I was on my knees. He told me what I could do while I was down there.

After my legal experiences I decided against law school. No the internship didn’t turn me off; the work did. This decision saved me from spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a career I didn’t want. But it did help me become a stronger person; one who can stand up to “bad guys” in jail and to a disgusting attorney who preys on young women.

So I dabbled with a few things and spent a lot of my time as a nanny. This made the sexual harassment situation seem like a joke. Kids and their parents can be nightmares. Speaking of nightmares, there was this child that spent half of his time in the bathroom cleaning his genitals in the sink. At first I thought it was because this child was clean. My family and friends told me otherwise. Other kids tried to pull a fast one on me. They would try to sneak candy or go to friends’ houses without telling me. Classic kid stuff. The parents are worse than the kids though. My favorite story was this highly educated dad who constantly did stupid things with his babies. For instance, he put his 1 year olds to bed with their birthday balloons tied around their waists. He also let his infant son roll off his lap into a body of water. Who does that?

Dealing with difficult kids and adults has taught me how to have patience and handle challenging situations. I discovered that if I could love children that weren’t even mine, I would cherish my own children and make a pretty good mother. I’m also one hell of a multi-tasker!

I have to say, these are mostly good stories. But there were a few doozies. Like the dirty office I worked in with mostly men who had horrible bathroom hygiene. Seriously, how do you get feces on the back of the toilet? Or the fact that my second child puked on me multiple times a day for almost a year due to her acid reflux. But all of these wild, dirty and painstaking jobs got me to where I am today. I found my career path in human resources and motherhood. I’m a hardworking, detail oriented, organized and determined person. I have a wonderful husband and two amazing children that I spend most of my time with enjoying life. I take pride in all that I do and am quite a perfectionist. Now, my family would tell you this is also what’s so annoying about me, but it’s brought me great success in life.

How have your past job experiences shaped your career?