I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess the last time you said “let's talk about sex, baby,” to someone else, with a smile on your face, it was because Salt -N-Pepa was blaring in the background and you were a few cocktails in with your girlfriends. There was probably a dance floor involved.
Not a very long limb, eh? That's because for the majority of women (myself included), those are five words that--unless accompanied by the above circumstances--are closely related to the most awkward of conversations we can imagine having with a significant other. And unfortunately, there are more uncomfortable phrases where that came from. “What are we?” and anything with the word “money” can (and will, if you're anything like me) make you squirm right out of your mind just imagining the agonizing directions these conversations can go.
Enter Made Woman. We make no promises, but we strive to make you feel just a bit more secure as you conduct these conversations. Because, let's face it, unless you have “the talk,” there will surely be an expiration date on your relationship.
Sex… The Safe Kind
I've known many confident, beautiful women who crumble at the mere thought of this conversation for all the wrong, but very common, reasons: They feel embarrassed or ashamed, a loss of empowerment, or they worry about the other person leaving them.
What would happen if you entered the conversation with this mindset: This is my body, and I'll be the one who has to live with it even if he decides to leave. I am not my parents, or my grandparents, whose biggest risk to having unsafe sex was the possibility of pregnancy. I can’t hide my head in the sand in the age of genital warts, cervical cancer (a happy byproduct of HPV), HIV and AIDS. I have the power to protect myself against all of these, and he has the choice to work with me or hit the road. When all is said and done, if the conversation goes horribly wrong, it's in your power to eliminate the idiot who can’t see past a good time in bed. It’s not just about the act of sex, it’s about your health. Your wellbeing is not something to be timid about.
So yes, be empowered! But for God's sake, don't go into the talk anticipating that World War III lays ahead. And also, make sure you talk about this before any belts unbuckle -- bringing it up in the heat of the moment is bound to make it awkward and will definitely kill the mood. Start it off as casually as you can, during a relaxed moment between the two of you. Maybe tell him that you care about him, as well as both of you as a unit and that you want there to be a mutual understanding in your relationship. Then let the rest flow, as naturally as you can. You know your boundaries, what you're comfortable with and what you’re not comfortable with. Guess what? He may have been waiting for you to break the ice. Talk and listen with an open mind.
Who knows, you may find that talking about it actually turns you on, and once each person’s expectations are out in the open, you’ll be comfortable enough to finally have a good time. Safely. ;-)
Defining the Relationship
Let's start by not calling it the “Defining Our Relationship” talk in the first place. I'm not even a guy and my chest got tight just typing those words out. What about having a “Sell The Relationship” talk instead? You've got something that he will only get should he choose to become exclusive with you, right? (If you don't, I'll get to you in a second). What is it? Is it sex (or having it more often)? Is it your promise to stop giving your number to other guys who come your way during a girl's night out? Is it more sleepovers? Is it the opportunity to spend more quality time with wonderful you? These are all benefits to being with you. Use these bargaining chips to your advantage. Negotiate. Present him with the benefits, instead of putting him on the defense.
Okay, so what if you have already given up all your relationship goal before securing a title? Fine, it happens, we can lose our minds once in a while as we fall head over heels. There can still be a positive outcome for you if you realize two things: It will be harder, and you will need self-control. Tell him you have a desire for you both to be exclusive to each other, you're falling hard, and you wish to enhance your connection by becoming singular. a committed couple. Tell him you'd be hurt if you knew he was doing the same things with other people that he is doing with you. Remain calm as you tell him you understand if he's not on the same page, but you'll have to distance yourself from him should he not be. If his answer is not the one you're looking for, hold true to your statement and back the hell away. This is where the self-control comes in. Have respect for yourself –no one wants to be, or look like a lost puppy. Attractiveness goes hand in hand with confidence, and once he sees that you have the confidence to move on, the confidence to stick by your word and not call or text him... he might just remember it was that confidence that attracted him to you in the first place and come back around. Should he not? Like my mama always said: There's always, always more fish in the sea. Never settle for less than what you're asking for.
What's Mine is... Mine.
I've read it's estimated that money leads to 90% of divorces. This number does not seem out of control to me. Money means different things to different people: power, love, security, control, etc. What does it mean to you? What does it mean to him? You need to find out before walking down the aisle, as I'm sure you don't want to be the couple who adds any more decimals to that percentage of divorcees. As with the two subjects above, find a calm moment to broach the subject. Don't be afraid to kick the conversation off yourself by offering your own opinions about a financial issue. Maybe use an example of something you saw in the news, on TV, or in a friend's relationship and go on to say what you would have done in that same circumstance.
Then begin to share more personal experiences about money issues. You might start with how you were raised to thinking about it, how your own family dealt with it, and how it's been dealt with in past relationships –and whether those memories are positive or negative for you. Be honest with yourself –If you earn more than your partner, would you feel resentment if he skimmed some of your funds for himself? Do you feel more secure with two separate accounts should you get married, or would you prefer one shared? How do you feel about debt? How do you feel about him taking care of you financially? (In this age of the independent woman, more and more have differing feelings on this issue). In money discussions, a game-changing moment where you both realize you are not on the same page with an issue could arise. Work to come to an agreement, but remember, just as in our “Selling The Relationship” talk –never, ever settle for something that makes you discontent.
If you are married (please, please be married before doing this) and decide to merge your accounts into one, make sure you each retain a credit card that is detached from everything else. Should divorce, death, or anything else unexpected and tragic occur, it will be extremely difficult for you to get a mortgage or loan without it.
Personally, my game-changer is credit card debt. I will never, every marry someone who has it (or who can't seem to pay it off before walking down the aisle), and I would never bring it into a marriage. No way around it. It's something I was raised believing and it's something I continue to believe now as an independent woman. What's your game-changer? Whether it's an issue of sex, what a relationship means to you, or money, figure it out before the time comes to sit down and talk about it. Don't let anyone take that away from you, and know that if you can’t reach an agreement with your man, there is someone else out there (we're not being corny, we're being honest here!) who will see eye-to-eye with you.
Ah, spring. The flowers, the sunshine, the cute shoes. But wait – springtime also conjures up a dreadful childhood memory: Spring cleaning. Fear not – you are a Made Woman! Not only does that mean you’re smart, independent and stylish, it means you know to keep your space clean. Well, hopefully. ;-)
Now I know cleaning is not first on everyone’s list of fave weekend activities, but let’s get real. Who wants to come home to or entertain in a place that isn’t tidy? Roll up your sleeves girls, because you have some cleaning to do.
Here is our fab five list of spring cleaning tips to get you started:
Bonus Tip: Before you invest 100 bucks in cleaning supplies, do a Google search on cleaning with vinegar. White vinegar is an old trick that the home-and-garden folk swear by. It gets things uber clean and it’s really cheap.
This is just a shortlist to get you started. There are more obvious cleaning items like cleaning blinds, cabinets, refrigerators, windows and the yard or garage, too, so make a list that works for your home and lifestyle. Turn on some tunes and get cleaning!
What other spring cleaning tips are there? Tell us in the comments below! Sharing is caring…
You have worked hard to establish a great career--no small feat during an economic recession--and now you are ready to put your money to work for you. But where to begin? Should you hire a financial broker, or become an independent investor? Play it safe with bonds, or play the stock market? Before you resort to stuffing cash under a mattress, take these five steps toward investing…straight to the bank.
1. Get Financially Literate. Some investment terms you should know include:
Stock/ Equities - If you own a stock, you own part of the company. A stock is evidenced by a paper certificate.
Securities - Includes stocks, bonds, and bank deposits.
Bond - A bond is a debt investment in which an investor loans money to a corporate or government entity that borrows the money for a defined period of time at a fixed interest rate. The main categories of bonds are corporate bonds, municipal bonds, and U.S. Treasury bonds.
Market Capitalization - Also known as “market cap.” It is calculated by multiplying the current price per share of a stock with the number of shares outstanding.
Mutual Fund - An investment company that combines the money from a large group of investors to buy stocks and other investments.
Dividends - A portion of a company's profits that is paid out to shareholders on a quarterly or annual basis.
These are the most commonly used terms in investment and knowing what they mean will help you understand stock roundups in The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo Finance and Dow Jones. When I first tried to calculate a company’s market cap it took me two hours, simply because I didn’t know what it meant. Now that I know the lingo, I can look at an analyst report and easily follow the progress of a stock. I’m no expert, but I know enough to play the game.
After brushing up on your fiscal vocabulary, read Lois P. Frankel’s Nice Girls Don’t Get Rich: 75 Avoidable Mistakes Women Make with Money. I love the advice she offers women about diving into investment and not waiting on “Prince Charming” to take care of their finances. Use the workbooks and self-evaluations in the book to establish and monitor your progress toward financial goals.
Another great read is Douglas R. Andrew’s Millionaire by Thirty: The Quickest Path to Early Financial Independence. Andrew claims that young professionals can achieve financial independence at an early age by investing. He suggests alternatives to the traditional 401k to make the dream of early retirement a reality.
The Richest Man in Babylon uses parables and layman terms to deliver investment basics and emphasize the importance of growing your money. My dad gave it to me when I was only seven and I often revisit the principals outlined in this book. The common sense advice helps keep me in check when I’m tempted to splurge during a sale at H&M.
2. Do Your Research. Before you invest in anything, do your homework. Publicly traded companies want your money, so they make it easy to find pertinent information. Check out their websites to find earnings reports, mergers and acquisitions news and stock quotes. Knowing everything you can about a potential investment is crucial to making a wise decision. Supplement your research with facts from Hoover's Company Profiles. This is an invaluable web resource that offers additional material about company management and executive profiles.
3. Stay Connected. Once you have done your research and decided which companies you want to invest in, it is smart to stay in touch with an online financial community. Social media is a great tool for networking with investment pros and getting the inside scoop on smart buys. Try Stocktwit, a social networking platform where you can “share ideas and learn from passionate investors and traders.”
4. Don’t Invest What You Should be Saving. Investments should be a part of your overall financial strategy; however, it is important to establish good saving habits first. Create an emergency fund, open a retirement savings account and pay off outstanding credit card debt before playing the stock market. Pay yourself first and you should have extra money to invest in no time.
5. Diversify Your Portfolio. Once you have savings and understand your investment options, it is important not to place all your eggs in one basket. Diversification is the practice of spreading money among different investments to reduce risk. A well balanced portfolio of investments is more likely to withstand fluctuations in the volatile financial market. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission offers great advice on steps you can take to diversify your investments for maximum returns.
Investing is key to financial independence. You want the freedom to travel, buy a home or retire early, but savings alone won’t get you there. The average annual percentage gain for a high-yield savings account is one percent. Compare this to the average 10 percent earned on stocks. When you save, your money doesn’t work for you and you will only have as much money as you set aside from your salary. When you invest, your money grows by earning interest. So, determine your financial goals, study up and take your first steps toward a wealthy future.
Recently my husband and I purchased a home (!!) and embarked upon The Big Move.
I detest moving.
But knowing that everyone has to move, I saddled up and trudged through. Since this was my biggest move to date (moving the lives and belongings of two people instead of just one), I tried to be more organized and more prepared than normal. Here are a few tips and lessons I learned along the way.
Top Five General Moving Tips
• Label every box on one side and on the top with specific descriptions ("China, champagne glasses, serving platters" vs. "Glassware: Fragile" is more helpful when unpacking)
• Note the room where each box should go
• Pack items that should be grouped together
• Leave boxes unsealed if there is any room leftover. At the last minute there is always a stray knickknack or forgotten item that needs to be stashed somewhere
• Plan for everything to take more time than it needs to: It always does!
Top Five Tips for Preparation (3-6 weeks out)
• Save some cash a few months ahead of time for the cost of movers, packing materials and a shopping trip to Target or Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Moving always costs more than it should, and it's nice to be prepared.
• Purchase all your moving supplies before you begin packing (tape, boxes of varying sizes, packing paper, bubble wrap)
• Before packing ANYTHING, recycle or give away as much as possible. Stacks of already-read magazines and old movie tickets don’t need to move with you. Donate anything you haven't used or worn in a year or more to Goodwill.
• Pack items you don’t use often, first– holiday decorations, books, extra sheets and blankets.
• Let your groceries run out. Food is a pain to move, especially cold items. Just know that you’ll eat takeout or Lean Cuisines for a week as the pantry contents dwindle.
Top Five Tips for the Last Minute
• Pack a tote bag with essentials: a change of clothes, a tube of mascara, a clean pair of socks and undies, toothbrush, a nail file and lip balm. Keep the tote by your purse on moving day so you have the basics by your side.
• Have a designated container for phone chargers, laptops, TV cords etc. These items are easy to misplace, and we all know how aggravating it is when they’re missing.
• Pack COMPLETELY before movers arrive. My movers told me it’s frustrating when they show up and people are still packing – it slows them down and costs you more.
• Don’t forget to clean your freezer and fridge and check the washer and dryer. I left behind an entire load of clean towels in our apartment and will never see them again.
• Do one last-minute load of laundry so you have clean clothes and towels on hand. It's easier than having to do laundry at a new place before you know how the washer/dryer work or where they are.
And remember, breathe. It will all be over soon.
Did we forget anything? Let us know in the comments below! Also, you can print this list for easy reference!
Picture this: Your apartment turned into an elegant lounge… candles lit, wine flowing, flowers arranged, [insert you favorite musician] playing, your perfectly-set table overflowing with delicious food you have prepared. (Yes, you!) And best of all, all your friends and loved ones are there, having the time of their lives and admiring you: their amazing hostess (and following you into the kitchen to corner you for recipes.) This isn’t just a fabulous fantasy. With a little preparation and planning, you can throw your very own - grown up - dinner party.
On the difficulty scale, a dinner party falls somewhere between cooking dinner for two and a full-fledged party. It’s important to plan this dining experience a bit in advance. It’s always polite to give at least a week’s notice to guests, but do two weeks if you can. Since this is a smaller gathering of people, announcing your dinner early will really make a difference in who shows up and who doesn’t.
When you’re deciding who to invite, consider your guests carefully. About 10 people is enough for a dinner party. Remember, this needs to be a crowd that can sit down to dine together. You want people who will be good conversationalists, are not party animals, and will be able to contribute to the party by bringing a dish or a bottle of wine, if needed. Make sure you are aware of any special dietary needs before party planning commences, as it would be embarrassing to encounter such a problem at the table.
Once you have your guest-list down, it’s time to let everyone know about the party. The internet offers plenty of ways to invite people, so which way is the best way? You may want to consider Facebook first. Most people that you want to attend are probably already on the site and Facebook’s event posting feature will provide you with a constant tally of guests. There’s also a wall to write on, which makes it easy for people to share what they are contributing or ask you questions. If you’d rather not go the Facebook route, Evite is another great alternative with a wall-like feature for sharing. If the party you are hosting is especially fancy and you have more time to prepare, never underestimate the power of a hand crafted invitation.
Once you have your RSVPs, it’s time to start planning out the dinner and drinks. Courses are always a good idea, as they prolong the party and keep a classier tone. Apértifs and appetizers are great openers, allowing guests to mingle without holding bulky plates and glasses. When planning your menu, Allrecipes.com is a trusted favorite for ideas, listing dishes by ingredients, lifestyle, and course. I’m also a fan of yumsugar.com, which has recipes for savory beginnings as well as sweet endings.
For décor, you want to keep things in line with your party. If it’s a more elegant affair, make sure glassware and actual cutlery are available for guests. If there is a theme surrounding your party, don’t be afraid to get creative with novelty tableware and decorations. For example, I recently threw a Godfather themed dinner party. My boyfriend made pizza, guests were asked to bring Coppola wine, and all desserts and appetizers were Italian-themed. Plates and napkins were red, white and green paper (to match the Italian flag). In between courses, we watched the first two Godfather films. This is just one idea – what would be the most fun for you and your guests? Whatever you decide on, make sure everything is accessible so your guests feel as comfortable as possible. Bottom line: if everyone feels at home, they will be more likely to relax and have fun.
The Hostess With the Mostest
When the big day finally arrives, be sure to play hostess. Remember, it’s your idea, your party, and your space… you have the power to make this party a successful one. First, make sure you dress the part: be comfortable, but also set the bar for guests. In other words, no sweats! I also recommend wearing an apron. Whether you cooked or not, this gives the appearance that you prepared everything (which you did, right?!), and it will protect your clothes while pouring wine and serving, etc. Get dressed early. Nothing is less classy than your guests being more prepared to the party than you are.
Also, it’s up to you to keep the conversation and drinks flowing. When it comes to wine, I am really impressed with Francis Ford Coppola’s mix of classy and tasteful lines, such as Diamond, Director’s Cut, and my favorite: The Reserve Collection (franciscoppolawinery.com). A couple times a year Bev-Mo has their 5 cent sale, which is a great time to stock up (bevmo.com). One of my personal favorites from this sale is L’Attitude 39 (lattitudewines.com). For the perfect finish, there’s nothing as impressive as Korbel’s Port (store.korbel.com). This is a blend of port, zinfandel and brandy, so it’s not overwhelmingly sweet. If you really want to treat your guests with some premium wines, you might want to look into Lot18.com, which is like HauteLook for beverages.
Never let the party get out of control, out of swing, or dull. When guests arrive, be certain to make introductions. Don’t forget the lesson we learned from Bridget Jones’s Diary: it is important to introduce people not only with a name, but with a fact or interesting back story so that when left alone, guests can make conversation. Remember, nothing will ever go as planned, so being prepared to confront and work with the unexpected is a must. Coming with the territory of being a good hostess is being a bit of a caretaker as well. Always have room on the couch for at least one person, serve plenty of water, and offer to call a cab if necessary.
Dinner parties are no longer conventions of the 1950s. They allow you to interact and converse with your favorite people without using Facebook, Twitter or texting. Imagine that! This is the perfect opportunity to bust out those recipes you have always wanted to try. And if you are still apprehensive about cooking, you can always buy premade meals from the store and add your own twist. Don’t take yourself too seriously; this is a party, after all. And if there’s one thing we can all use more of in this life, it’s a reason to celebrate. Bon Appetit!
Relationships can be hard enough to manage without the added stress of the almighty dollar. So, what do you do when someone you care about owes you money? Siblings drift apart, best friends become enemies and working relationships become hostile if borrowing money isn’t handled properly. Here we examine three ways to talk to your friends, family, and even coworkers about cash in a respectful way.
Scenario: Your Little Sister Becomes a Big Freeloader
Most of us have either lent or borrowed money from a family member before. It’s natural to want to help those who are closest to us, but when does loaning money go from being helpful to harmful to your relationship? For example, there’s nothing wrong with loaning your little sister who’s in college some cash to buy books for next semester. But what happens when she’s hitting you up when she wants a new dress for homecoming, a plane ticket for spring break, or for you to pay her phone bill?
How to deal:
In situations like this, loaning out money is actually harmful…to your sister. Instead of learning to manage her funds wisely--which is part of becoming a responsible adult--little sis’ is being careless with her money and expecting you to foot the bill. It’s best to have a frank conversation that goes something like, “I love you and I don’t mind helping you with the occasional school expense. However, I want you to be independent and learn how to manage your money responsibly. Why don’t we sit down next week and create a budget that works for you?”
This lets her know that you care about her and want to help, but that you are drawing boundaries in your relationship. She’ll thank you for it in the long run and you eliminate an unhealthy pattern of co-dependence that can lead to resentment in the future.
Scenario: Your B.F.F. thinks you are a B.A.N.K.
It’s easy to lose track of money with friends in a social setting. Spotting someone at the movies and picking up the tab at dinner are part of reciprocally altruistic relationships. But what happens when you always pay for dinner, buy the concert tickets, and loan cash without ever being paid back? How do you approach the situation without coming off as a penny pinching miser?
How to deal:
I’ve found one of the best ways to deal with this situation is to establish boundaries in a fun way. One option is to take turns treating each other when you go out. That way there’s no awkward conversation about who owes who money. So the next time your mooching friend asks you to pick up the tab, try saying, “Sure. This one’s on me. Next time, it’s your treat.” If you keep it light and smile, you’ll establish a boundary without embarrassing your friend, who might not even realize she’s taking you for granted.
Scenario: Mixing Business with Money
The same approach can also work well in a professional situation as well. However, it’s best to avoid borrowing and lending cash to co-workers altogether. You don’t want to go from being best buddies with Becky in accounting to thinking, “B*&%! better have my money!” every time you pass her desk. If you can’t afford to give it without them paying you back, then you really can’t afford to help.
“Bank of You” User Agreement
When someone hits you up for some cash, it’s best to talk about it, set boundaries, and avoid large sums. My experience has taught me that it’s best to avoid lending money altogether, but if you must here are a few tips I recommend to keep your relationship intact:
1. Make sure you can afford it! If you can give the loan from extra money you have saved up, that would be best. The last thing you want to do is go into debt trying to help someone else.
2. Evaluate the relationship. Make sure that you—and your relationship with this person—will be just fine if you are never repaid one penny.
3. Make it legal. For only $8, you can download a promissory note from Nolo.com and have your friend or relative agree to sign a simple loan document. It should detail the amount borrowed, when repayment will start, and the interest you will be paid.
True friends will understand and respect your financial boundaries. If not, then they probably are not great friends to begin with. #LoanDenied
You're a Made Woman. So chances are, you like to have at least a loose plan in place. Get married by 30, go back for your master's within the next couple years, launch your dream business by next summer. Plans are great, right? Right. But at times it can seem like life is laughing at (and then promptly sh*tting on) these seemingly perfect plans. If you're anything like me, you've had many a wrench thrown your way. Sometimes it feels like as soon as you start to gain momentum, yet another issue rears its ugly little head. Maybe you didn't get that promotion you had your eye on. Maybe you made a costly error at work or in your business. Maybe you're going through a tough break up, or even suffered a family tragedy. Whatever the case may be, it's first necessary to realize this: you're not alone! You WILL get past this, and you will be stronger for it. I know from personal experience that your mindset is everything when it comes to overcoming setbacks. Wondering how I get my mind right? Read on.
Your first thought might be to close all of your blinds, hit up your boys Ben & Jerry, and treat yourself to a good old fashioned pity party. But I'm guessing that won't do much to lift your spirits (or your ass). My advice? Let off some steam! Face the situation head on. Don't be ashamed to cry if you need to, write an angry letter to your boss (and immediately shred and/or burn it) or go to a kickboxing class. A walk on the beach or somewhere else in nature can also do the trick. Do whatever it takes to get that messed up energy out of your system and get in the frame of mind to move past it.
Once you've acknowledged the situation, take a look around. Think about how blessed you are to be where you are at this very moment. Chances are, at least a handful of people would gladly trade places with you, tear-stained face and all. Think about all of the once (seemingly) insurmountable hurdles you've left far, far behind you. Remind yourself of your strength, your strong will, your ability to come up with creative solutions to problems. It was you that persevered through a recession and landed your dream job. It was you that mustered up the strength to walk away from that toxic relationship you were in. It was you that cared for a loved-one when he had nobody to turn to. Don't ever forget where you've been, and how those experiences have shaped you. Use these memories to help you re-evaluate where you are and what your next steps will be.
Then, it's simply a matter of moving forward. Take that first step. You may not know where it will lead, but forward motion is always better than being stagnant. I don't know the details on your particular setback, so I can't tell you whether you need to keep working toward that promotion or start looking at other job opportunities. Nor can I tell you if you should start dating again, or just give it some time. I definitely can't give you a step-by-step guide to overcoming a personal loss. But I can tell you this: keep going. Keep working. Keep appreciating the people and the little things around you. Before you know it, the clouds will part and you'll be able to make some sense of it all. And you'll be able to appreciate the sun that much more.
This post was part of our series "30 Days of Made: Love Yourself." Each day we released updates of videos, poetry, images, and original content, all based on the theme of loving yourself. Click the link to read more!
There's so much anxiety that surrounds a first date. Will I like him? Will he like me? Will he be The One? At the very least, you hope you don’t end up stuck in awkward silence hell for three hours. Although you never know how a date will ultimately turn out, there are some crucial preparations before--and necessary actions during--your date to turn it into a successful mission. Take notes, Soldier:
Make sure your pedicure is on point. I made this number one for the pre-date to do list, but a Made Woman should always strive for pedi perfection. This is extra important before a date because if your feet look crazy, guys take it as some kind of direct reflection on the type of girl you are. So get them together! If your feet are beyond saving, wear closed toe shoes and pray that you don’t end up in any situations that require you to remove them.
Google him. Google him, Facebook him, find him on Twitter. With the technology we have now, there’s no reason to go into any situation blindly. Find out what college he went to, what kind of work he does (being a “YouTube rapper/comedian” isn’t going to cut it), and if he is posting any creepy pictures of himself dressed like an animal. *UnFriend*
Shave/wax . . . everywhere. You never know what will happen on a first date! You may not think that his hand is going to mistakenly graze your leg when he’s speaking to you, and you may not plan to let him walk you inside your apartment after the date. . . .but these things happen! Better to be safe than sorry, I say.
Don’t experiment. Now is not the time to try the new shade of lipstick you received as a gift at the MAC counter. On a first date, stick with your foolproof look. If you're debating between a natural look and a "va va voom" look, I vote for natural. Less is more, and it’s important for you to feel comfortable and confident, as well as sexy.
Think of at least three topics of conversation. If you don't know your date well, you may not know how much you will or will not have in common. No one wants to sit on an uncomfortable date, in silence, watching the cell phone minutes tick away, willing someone…anyone to call with an emergency. If you have at least three interesting topics of conversation on hand, you can buy yourself at least a half hour of time in the unfortunate event that your date is boring/quiet/weird/all of the above.
Avoid ex talk. This goes hand in hand with point #5. Prepare better conversation starters than how your ex was a no good ____ (insert expletive). If your date asks about your prior relationships then address them (you don’t want him to think something shady is going on if you dodge the question). But, in my opinion, bringing up exes on the first date gives the impression that there are still unresolved feelings. First date conversation should be fun and light, and ex talk is neither of those.
Put your phone away. Answering texts, even if they are just from your mom, may give your date the impression that you aren’t interested or that you're texting other guys. Leave your phone in your purse; the messages will still be there when the date is over.
Don't order a side as your main course. I’m not a subscriber to the notion that you should tailor what you eat on a date. I don’t think it’s particularly attractive to curtail your appetite to try to impress a man. I've also heard from many guys that they are more comfortable on a date when the woman orders a normal sized meal than when she orders something ridiculous like a side salad. Besides, if you end up dating the guy long-term he'll find out at some point if your appetite is out of control.
Monitor your drinking. If things are going well and you decide this guy is someone you'll want to see again, cap yourself at two drinks so you can have a real conversation and will remember the entire date the next day. You don’t want your dream date remembering you as a sloppy mess.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is rife with unknowns. He may be way less cute than his profile pic, he may only speak in gamer, (i.e.: “So, what’s your World of Warcraft avatar look like?”), or he may be worth a second date. The only way to find out is to bring your A-game. Use these tips and your mission will be a success. Good luck!
It's not an easy thing to do – pack up your bags and move your entire life away from the only place you've ever known. But when you find yourself thinking over and over, “there's gotta be more out there than this,” finding that courage and motivation to move away can change the course of the rest of your life.
Maybe you've never left your hometown in your entire life and the thought of starting over elsewhere is appealing, yet soul crushingly terrifying. Too enormous a task to handle. Maybe you hate where you live with every fiber of your being, but your family is there and you can't bear the thought of leaving them. Maybe you aren't really scared of the concept of moving, but just can't find the motivation to get your shit together and just DO it already. How does one even begin? Well, I did it. And I can tell you that not one bit of it was easy. It was scary, I had no idea what I was doing and I had no clue what to expect at all. But was it worth it? Absofreakinglutely. Am I grateful I did it? HELL YES. Did it make me a stronger person? Duh. I can tell you that if there's a piece of you longing to move at all, you really should sit down and explore your options. The time is now. I'm here to share with you my story and hope that it can help motivate you to make a change in your life, if that's what you're looking for.
I grew up in Albany, NY and I always knew it was not the place for me. I hated the cold, I always felt like there was nothing to do, when I went out on the town I was constantly surrounded by college kids and felt like the oldest person there at the ripe old age of 23. All throughout college I knew it was only a matter of time until I got the hell out of there. I didn't know where – but I knew I wanted it to be warm and full of new opportunities. I constantly talked about it with my roommates and tried to encourage them to join me. After all, moving away alone to a place where I didn’t know anyone sounded terrifying – especially for an introverted person like me. They'd always agree that they wanted to get out, but it was obvious that the fire wasn't in their belly for it. So I asked myself, are you going to wait for someone else to change your life or are you going to go and do it yourself? The answer was obvious. I knew if I didn't make a change I'd grow up and still be sitting in Albany, wondering what would have happened if I just grew a pair and got out when I was younger, responsibility-free and able to. That was enough for me. So how did I do it?
Pick A Location
After visiting people in Los Angeles a few times, I realized I could see myself there. Beautiful, sunny weather year-round, a big city, tons of people, and the entertainment industry offered a lot of possibilities job-wise. I knew I wanted to do it, but this wasn't even on the same coast as where I was from. Moving across the country when I had never lived anywhere else sounded like an impossible challenge to tackle alone. But I wanted it so bad I knew I had to figure out a way. So I set things in motion.
Do Some Research
I knew I had to research companies I might be able to work for and reach out to my network to see if anyone knew people out there that I could talk to. I knew I had to research good places to live. This was all work that I did in my free time. Wikipedia is a good resource for information on a city, and you can also check out Craigslist to see what rent is generally like. I found a roommate through roommates.com, which charges a small fee for its services but I found it to be well worth it. Rent.com is also a legit site to apartment hunt. Salary.com is a great free service that can give you a general idea of what you should expect to make in your new city. Get ready to Google your heart out for awhile - but you definitely want to be prepared for what you’ll be getting yourself into.
I began waitressing on top of my 9 to 5 and stockpiled money. All my financial decisions were based around the fact that I needed to save every spare penny. No, I'm not going to go to 3 happy hours this week...I need to save that money. No, I don't REALLY need that $60 dress...that money could be going toward my moving fund. Having a decent-sized savings account can help get you started in a new city - you’re going to need enough for rent and a security deposit, plus enough to buy stuff for your apartment and get you by until you land a job.
Make a Timeline & Commit To Your Plan
I set a date and stuck with it. I told everyone I knew I was moving in a year. I knew keeping it to myself would give me an out if I got cold feet – telling everyone and then backing out would be harder to do. I was determined to make this change in my life. I had it in my mind that this was going to be a struggle, so I was prepared for it to be HARD when I first moved out there. Nothing this huge and life-altering was going to be a piece of cake. When I finally piled everything into my car and set on that cross-country drive, I was terrified. But I was full of hope, too! There were endless opportunities out there for me, and I was actually doing something about it.
I'm going to give it to you straight. The first couple years were very difficult. Making new friends in a new city is not easy, no matter how much of a social butterfly you are. It's going to take a while. Getting to know a new city, find a new job, find new hangouts, figure out the best places to shop, etc. etc. etc... all that stuff takes time. Unfortunately, there's no fast forward button for the obligatory adjustment period. If you're thinking about moving, don't do it if you aren't prepared to deal with some huge hurdles. If you do it thinking it's all going to be a breeze, you're going to pack your suitcase and go home with your tail between your legs in a week. But if you are truly determined and you have a game plan, have some money saved up, and are ready to confront challenges head on – you may be on the right course to change your life for the better. And ya know what, if after a couple years you decide this new city isn't for you, there's no law out there saying you can't go home. Even if you do, you can always say you tried – you did something for yourself, you had a new experience, you did something completely independently.
I promise you that no matter how it works out, you'll be a stronger, wiser person and have learned a lot about yourself and ...well, life itself, from doing it. You only live once, and you owe it to yourself to make this life as interesting and fulfilling as humanly possible. If not now, when?!
In five years I will be 30. That thought alone is enough to bring on utter panic. Factor in all the unknowns: Where will I be living? When am I going to have kids? Will I still be on the same career path?...and alas, I now have a full-blown crisis. So I decided to jot down some plans to help me manage and prioritize my way through the next few years. Hopefully--please, God--having a plan will make the next five years a little easier. And they say you can't plan life...
Throughout this planning process, it's smart to place things in order of importance. What ambitions do you have that you will absolutely kick yourself over if they are not met by age 30? Personally, I'm in a place right now that my career comes first. So my first entries look like this:
1. Advance my career with a position that values my talents and where my fabulous taste in fashion is put to good use.
2. Work in an environment that promotes my well-being.
3. Write the book I've always wanted to write.
By knowing what I'm looking for in an employer and what I have to offer as an employee, I will be able to market myself accordingly. Also, the book will help me hone my writing skills--a professional goal--while exploring hobbies that are personally fulfilling.
Next, think about things like health, lifestyle management and finances. Some may want to go back to school, buy a home, or eat eight servings of vegetables a day....you get the idea. Keep in mind that once you have the basic plan, you can work out the specifics later. Mine are something like this:
4. Run a marathon. (Must begin training now. Ok, tomorrow.)
5. Adopt more green habits.
6. Save more money.
7. Take charge of my finances and pay my credit cards off.
Remember Rachel on Friends? She had to get out the scissors and make the cut (literally) before she could mentally tackle her financial situation. Taking control of your personal habits now will only enhance your quality of life and prevent future financial burdens or health risks.
Okay, this is where it gets deep. Planning for marriage and family can be a little tricky, because a lot of it is out of our control. But it does make sense to decide on the timing of things, and what comes first. Since my career is my priority at the moment, my entry in this section is simple:
8. Date a British man. (I have big plans for him.)
You, on the other hand, may dream of dating a man from each continent, or being married with four kids in five years. Whatever works for you! This is your plan.
The fun stuff.
After all is taken seriously, it's time to make room for the whipped cream--the extras in life. If you want to go on a trip to the Bahamas or backpack across Europe, this will require preparation. But the good thing about life's little luxuries is that sometimes our stress dissipates when we know there is break from the routine in sight. My list:
9. Travel to another country, or New York. Item numbers six and seven will determine the success of this plan.
10. Buy a pair of Miu Miu shoes from the actual store.
11. See Chelsea Handler perform. Ideally, by the time I'm 30 we will already be best friends though.
Life's not only about hard work. It will do you some good to think of the fun extras that are within reach IF you plan successfully. This part of the planning process might also reveal those items that are not realistic nor in your best interest. So take caution and keep in mind that necessities come first and indulgences later.
Just remember, these plans are subject to change as you never know what life truly has in store. So while you may not know exactly where you'll end up in five years, don't hit the panic button. The route to 30 may become a lot more clear with a simple plan.