Where Does Your Money Go?

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One of the best (and scariest) things I ever heard about living in New York was this – “You can’t walk out your front door without $40 leaving your pocket.” At first I laughed, then I cried, then I sighed in agreement. Living in New York (or any urban area) can be extremely expensive, and then add on trying to find entertainment and “live your life” as a young person enjoying the place you live, and you basically go for broke each month. At the end of last year I made myself an excel grid (helllooo type A!) to catalog exactly where my money was going, and boy, it was an eye opener. I got honest about what was really important to me to spend my money on and makes me happy (yes, that includes clothes), and decided to cut some of the fat. If you’re asking yourself “where the ?&*! did my money go?!” at the end of the month, the below might help you prioritize where your cash should go:

Rent – “House poor” is a common phrase used in NYC. It is something I have been before, and promised myself I would never do again. Make sure you can really afford your rent, even if that means living a few blocks away from your dream neighborhood or taking on a roommate. Rent should never be above 1/3 your income.

Food – I go back and forth on my priorities with food here, and I think honestly most girls would feel the same way. The truth is when you have a significant other, you spend much more money going out and ordering in food than you would when it’s just you. Sometimes I miss the “old days,” when I could just whip up quinoa and chicken and not have a man’s hunger to worry about, but then again I’m also experiencing much more of my neighborhood any city by going out. If you DO spend a lot of money going out during the week, try to cut back on the other food expenses you may have, mainly bringing lunch to work (left overs) and losing your sushi or Starbucks habit.

Fitness – Again, I’ve talked about this before on the site (exactly a year ago even!), but what you spend on fitness is really up to you. When I was in a teeny apartment with roommates, it was important to me to have an oasis to escape to, and it made sense to spend more on a gym with classes and beautiful showers. Now, I just need a treadmill for the winter and some weights, so my $10 Planet Fitness membership works fine for me. I do indulge in boutique classes now and then. My favorites right now are SoulCycle and Prana Yoga.

Clothes & Makeup – Don’t think you’re being vain here – truly admit to yourself if clothes and makeup are a priority to you. For me, I love styling clothes and playing with makeup. I always have – since I was a teenager and saved up my coffee house pay to go to the mall. To make room for my monthly shopping budget, I cut back on fitness, entertainment and travel. It’s all about balance!

Entertainment – This is another area I have cut WAY back on in the past year or so. While I love going to new places and seeing my town, I try to take advantage of fun/cheap things to do rather than extravagant nights out that end up costing hundreds of dollars. It also may be a sign of getting older, but apartment dinner parties or wine nights in are some of my favorite things to do, and I’m spending much less on alcohol and cabs – simply because I’d rather spend the money somewhere else!

Travel – I’m in a time in my life where the most travel I’m doing is a driving distance away, so I don’t save up much for travel. I’m lucky that my work sends me to some great places, so I do get to indulge in travel without paying for it myself. However, I do have several friends that love to travel and need to get out of the country at least twice a year. If that is your gig, be sure to cut back on clothes, entertainment, and going out so you can save. You can have it all, but not all at once!
Where do you think your money goes?

 

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From the Inbox: How Do I Find My Niche?

A & M,

Thank you for providing me with PR guidance and inspiration over the years. It is because of your blog that I took the PR route. I am forever grateful.

I try to take advantage of the many networking and professional development opportunities provided to me by my school and community. Detroit is thriving and I am proud to be a millennial in the Motor City.

With my last semester just around the corner, I understand it is important that I get the most experience whether that be internship or volunteer etc. What I am the most confused and flustered over is in which industry I want to work in. Do I want to work for one of the Big Three auto manufacturers? What about in an agency setting? Do I want to work with consumer brands? I have no clue!

Please help me find some ways to help me find my industry niche.

Thanks.

Finding Your Niche

Finding your niche isn’t always as easy as you think it would be. The good news is that you have plenty of time to find what interests you most so don’t get too flustered or worried. With your last semester, use it as an chance to take any opportunity you can. Whether it be in-house or at an agency. If you take an internship in-house at an automotive brand and don’t find yourself loving it, apply for agency positions after you graduate. Think about what interests you personally. Do you have a passion for automotive brands? Food brands? Maybe corporate PR interests you?

The major difference between working in-house versus an agency is the number of brands you will work on. Generally in-house, you’re focused on one brand. In an agency setting, you will likely work on multiple brands varying from tech to home to beauty depending on the agency. Follow your gut to begin with and use it as a test trial. After several months (sometimes it takes years), you will eventually find what you’re most passionate about and want to focus on.

Best of luck,
Xo A

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From the Inbox: Taking Editors to Lunch

Hi ladies,

Happy New Year! I might be too old to be asking for advice – but I’ve been reading your blog since the college days!

I recently signed on as an AE at well-known, mid-sized PR firm in NYC. Before this, I have always worked at smaller firms who stuck to traditional phone/ e-mail pitching with occasional trade show attendance. My firm just started putting more pressure on us to take editors out to lunch — and for some reason this is terrifying to me.

I’ve met editors in person before at trade shows, so it’s not the meeting and chatting that makes me nervous. I know this is standard practice in PR but is there a way to do the whole editor outing thing without being too forceful and keeping things natural? While also slipping in some client chatter?

Any tips would be welcome – this is totally new to me!

Thanks.

Let's Do Lunch

This is a great question and something I can totally relate to. While it can seem nerve-wracking to have a one on one sit down with an editor, the most important part of it all is to keep the conversation flowing and personal. When I take editors out, 95% of the conversation is personal…the remaining 5% is related to business. Ask about where they went to school, where they live, how they got started in media, etc. Give some details on your personal life as well. Just as if it were a first date.

Sometimes the easiest way to ease into client talk is to start asking them more about their position and what they cover. If they say they cover something related to your client, it’s a natural way to bring up your work with your brands. For example, if the editor mentions he/she works on food coverage and is always looking for recipes, mention that your food client works with chefs and is constantly creating recipes and that you’d be happy to send through following the meeting. If nothing relates to your direct clients, bring them up casually (don’t go into too much details) and mention some of your general agency clients as well.

The point of taking editors out is to get to know them better on a personal level. If you hammer your clients onto them, it will make them feel comfortable. Before you take any reporters out on your own, ask if you can come along to one of your colleagues lunches. I enjoy bringing colleagues with me… it helps break the ice more.

Sit downs with editors like this help you form great relationships that will last you your entire PR career. Once you hit it off with an editor, you’ll feel more comfortable giving them a call to run something by them and most likely see more coverage from them in the future. Continue to check-in with them and take them out time and time again. Benefits of the relationship work both ways.

Best of luck!
Xo, A

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Add Balance to Your Resolutions

I’m a New Year’s Resolutions type of girl. Always have been. I love the idea of starting fresh and gaining a new perspective. However I can also understand those who shy away from resolutions or think they’re silly, especially if you’ve been in the habit of making resolutions only to give up on them after week 1.

But here is the thing. Week 1 of the new year is hard. Week 1 is confusing and jolting, and you’re not in your sweatpants at your mom’s house polishing off the last of the sugar cookies while she does your laundry. So add in some restrictive “resolutions” and it can begin to feel like self-inflicted torture.

That’s why I always try to add pleasant resolutions along with my more “healthy” or hard-working goals. Below I’ve added some of the most popular resolutions I’ve heard so far this year, and how you can help yourself out:

“I want to be more organized” – This is my first resolution at the start of every year. It’s easiest to break this down into smaller goals, or something in particular that you haven’t conquered yet. For me, it was my work space and office. It was a complete mess and not a place I liked to chill out. So in addition to cleaning out garbage, giving away product I don’t need and making room for new things, I also added decor elements and bought some fun prints on Etsy. You can also do something similar when organizing your closet, beauty supplies or even finances. Add a little of the super cute with the shredder.

“I want to cook more” – Without realizing it, all my girlfriends and I made this same resolution this year. It’s especially easy in New York to forget what your kitchen is for, and during the holidays you are barely home in your apartment to use it. There is no need to drop your paycheck at Whole Foods and Bed Bath and Beyond while you try to become a chef this week. There are lots of cheats to this one. Buy a Crockpot and pin some of your favorite recipes that can cook while you’re at work. I signed up for Blue Apron, a site that will literally send you everything you need to cook 3 delicious recipes a week without you lifting a finger. Or, you can enlist the help of a kitchen-friendly pal (or Mom) who can help you set up your kitchen with the basics, and give you easy recipe ideas.

“I want to lose weight” – The worst of the resolutions, in my opinion. I hate the way this one is phrased. I’d rather we all start saying “I want to treat my body better.” When I start looking at weight loss and health as a holistic approach vs. one sided or one minded (and I’ve slipped up more than once), I always feel better than when I hit the treadmill with all I’ve got so I can’t move the next day. Think of ways you take care of yourself that make you feel happy – a spin class, watching a motivational speech, or even a massage. After you do those things, don’t you feel enthusiastic and inspired to put better things in your body? So then the goal is to do more of those things that you need to feel in a great place to take care of yourself! I frequently do things that may seem “indulgent,” like have an afternoon at the spa or go to a boutique gym class, because I know it will have amazing effects on how I take care of myself for the rest of the week.

“I want to do something that scares me” – This is a new one I’m trying this year. I’ve always been intimidated by yoga. As much as I can try to practice at home on my own, I know I need to suck it up and go to a studio where I can better my practice. In order to tackle this intimidation, I need to look at it like an accomplishable challenge, so i have a list of studios in my area where I will try a new studio each week. But some work best when they do something scary with a friend. I know when it comes to going to new places or meeting new people, I almost always need to have Adrianna by my side : )

What are your new years resolutions this year?

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