Category Archives: Quarter Life Crisis

Emo Post of the Week: She Sat on Her Therapist’s Couch Balling Her Eyes Out

It’s a good thing therapy costs so much, because otherwise I don’t know how my therapist would afford to replace her tissues after each one of my sessions. Depression is expensive for both therapist and thera-pee, and the costs just keep adding up. But therapy is a necessary evil right now. I’m teetering on almost suicidal, though not really, not quite. It’s one of those things I could never do. But I do want to get in a car, drive, change my identity, become a waitress in Santa Fe or something, and never be heard from again. I get myself into this negative thinking spiral down into oblivion and it takes a certified professional to dig me out.

I’ve realized that I get most depressed when I feel stuck. The older I get, the more stuck I feel. Once you get yourself on a professional path it’s hard to halt and change face. The thought of going from a six-figure income back to under $50k to build up a new career, or even spend $100k to get a graduate degree, makes me physically ill. And yet I know I want to shift directions and the only way to do this is to backtrack a bit before moving ahead. Now is the time to do that… BEFORE I get married and have kids. But do I really have it in me to make the change? How do I know that shifting direction won’t just have me walking off a different, distant cliff? Continue reading

10 Financial Commandments for Your 20s, Part 2

This is part 2 of a series inspired by Give Me Back My Five Bucks, based on a Kiplinger article of the 10 commandments for finances in your 20s… I’m grading myself on each one of the commandments. Read Part 1 here.

6. Establish credit. In order to qualify for the best interest rates on a credit card, auto loan or mortgage, you need to start building a solid credit history. In fact, a good history can also save you a bundle on your auto insurance or help you land an apartment or a job (see Why Your Credit Score Matters). Building a good credit history in your twenties will ensure it’s ready when you need to use it. If you didn’t have a credit card in college, one way of getting credit now is to apply for a secured card: You make a deposit — usually $300 to $500 — in a savings account as collateral, and you can get the money back after one year of using the card responsibly. You can also start building a credit history through www.prbc.com, an alternative credit bureau that gathers data on regular payments for rent, cable and other recurring expenses. (See Rent Your Way to Good Credit to learn more.)

Score C. I’ve never made a big purchase on a credit card and paid it off slowly, so my credit score is not as great as it could be. That said, I’m totally opposed to how you need to carry a balance in order to build credit. I do have a credit card (ok I have a lot of credit cards) but I don’t have a lot of recurring expenses. Continue reading

10 Financial Commandments for Your 20s: Part 1

The other day, I was reading Give Me Back My Five Bucks, one of my favorite personal finance blogs on the web, and came across a series on 10 Financial Commandments for Your 20s, based off a Kiplinger article written a few years back. As Krystal, author of GMBMYB, detailed how she’s doing with the commandments in a two-part series, I thought I’d do the same. If you’re in your 20s, you should too!

1. Plan ahead. To get where you want to go in life, you need goals and a plan to reach them. Having neither is like driving a car without a steering wheel — with your eyes closed.  Start by asking yourself what you want in your future. Think about the short term (five years or less), medium term (five to ten years) and long term (20-plus years). Now you’re driving with your eyes open. Then take hold of the steering wheel to reach your goals.

Score: C. My idea of planning ahead is trying to not spend all of my income for the month. Some months I succeed, some months I don’t. My planning is less itemized as it is general, ie “hit $150k in networth this year.” That isn’t a bad goal for someone who is 27, but when I look at the big-picture purchases/expenses (house, new car, retirement, etc) nothing seems possible without some big exit at my current company. While I have faith my company is going to be huge and feel very fortunate for the opportunity to be a part of it, nothing is certain, and I’m doing terrible at having a real plan for my 30s and beyond.

2. Live within your means. Can’t afford something? Don’t buy it. Sounds simple, but too many people have a heck of a time following this one and get in over their heads in debt. Borrow sparingly, and only for those things that have lasting value, such as a home or an education. Continue reading

Living in the Shadow of my Narcissistic Parents – Part 2

I’m not sure how many people actually read my blog these days, but if you’ve been following along you likely read my long rant yesterday about the dinner I had with my father, and how his narcissistic personality disorder tendencies gnaw at me every time I see him, or talk to him.

One commenter posed the question “are you sure he is the one who is a narcissist?” and I wanted to respond to that. Clearly, my post yesterday — and many of my posts — sound self absorbed and ungrateful. Shouldn’t I just be so thankful that my father (and mother) gave me lots of “stuff” in my life — clothes, nice furniture, a college education — beyond stuff, what does a girl really need?

How about love? I’d never argue that I had or have a hard life. I’m way more fortunate than a large percentage of people who live in this world. But I grew up in a love-less house. No one knew how to love themselves let alone anyone else. And, yes, I became a narcissist because it’s the only way to survive when both of your parents are narcissists. It’s a never-ending cycle. The only value I had to my parents was how my existence benefited them. And, as any kid, a big part of me wanted to make my parents happy. It was pretty clear that I couldn’t – that I’d never be the perfect kid they wanted – and I hated myself for it more and more as the years went by.

Continue reading

Not Even Money Can Buy My Happiness

Let me go on record by saying that I have no right to be depressed. There are thousands who have lost their houses or lives in Japan, civil wars killing people daily in Libya, the Ivory Coast, and around the world. Meanwhile, I have a job with pay that comfortably puts me in the upper middle class. I’m healthier than most, and all-in-all leading a good life.

But I still feel empty. My problem is largely cognitive. It is feeling both that I am completely out of control of my life, that time is flying by too fast, and too slow, and that I have no purpose, no place I’m headed towards, just lots of time to waste until I get older and eventually die.

Ok, so if that’s the way I think, no wonder I’m depressed. I really want to change my thoughts — to be grateful for all I have, the priceless moments, unexpected, that make it worth living another day. This is not to say I’m suicidal — I’m not. I’m just wondering how to take my life from watching the days go by to making the days matter.

Continue reading

20-Something Life in The City vs. The Burbs

It’s Sunday morning, and I roll out of bed after a much-needed full night of rest and stare out my window. One roommate is up, clanking around the kitchen, but otherwise, there is just a slight breeze that can be heard through the windows and silence.

It’s all too tempting to remain in my bed another hour longer as there really isn’t anything to jump out of bed to do. In order to get anywhere, I have to drive at least 10 minutes away. To get to the city, it’s an hour drive give or take. So, while I’d love to head to Golden Gate Park for a run, instead, I lie in bed, and imagine what it would be like to live in the city.

When I moved out to the Bay Area in 2005, I always assumed I’d end up in San Francisco. But, instead, I’ve managed to live just about everywhere within an hour radius around the city and never in it.

There’s a part of me that feels like I need to experience city life now, before I get “old” and have a family and a reason to trap myself in the ‘burbs. Right now, there’s a piece of satisfaction with life I’m missing, and I think that has a large part to do with not living in the city. I want to be able to go to a figure drawing open session on Tuesday night… or Thurs night. And make new friends that are my age who like to go out and do… things.

Right now, I’m in a coffee shop in San Francisco near the Lower Haight, and the energy here is so city Sunday. Soft music plays, people are talking, reading, enjoying the day. Through the glass in front of me are four women, probably in their early 30s, enjoying a relaxing lunch, the SF version of Sex & the City (more hoodies, ponytails, but probably similar conversation.) And I want that… I want a life outside of work and watching reruns at my boyfriend’s house.

July 1 I have the opportunity to move… I can either stay close to work, or… maybe it’s the right time to make the move to the city. It would mean an hour-long commute to work, and more expensive rent, but it could also mean finding the missing link between my life today and my happiness.

What do you think? Do you live in a city or suburbs? Does living in a city help one be happy and feel more connected in her 20s/30s?

Fortune Mag Asks “Are Unpaid Jobs the New Normal?”

It may not be legal, but for the millions of Americans unemployed today, working for “free” in hopes of paid work in the future may be better than sitting at home and waiting for the phone to ring. The whole concept of minimum wage doesn’t apply when a college graduate is worth a job that deserves to be paid higher than minimum wage but, instead, isn’t paying a penny.

Kelly Fallis, who has used 50 unpaid workers at her small company, probably shouldn’t be admitting to her illegal slave labor practices in Fortune magazine

“People who work for free are far hungrier than anybody who has a salary, so they’re going to outperform, they’re going to try to please, they’re going to be creative,” says Kelly Fallis, chief executive of Remote Stylist, a Toronto and New York-based startup that provides Web-based interior design services. “From a cost savings perspective, to get something off the ground, it’s huge. Especially if you’re a small business.”

The fact of the matter is there lies a fine line between “internship” and “taking advantage of someone,” and some days I’m not convinced that line exists. I’ve long questioned the concept of the “unpaid internship” in college, as not only is the work unpaid, but it requires college credit that you actually have to pay for (seems twisted, doesn’t it?) But this isn’t an article about college internships, it’s about adults who have graduated and can’t find work accepting unpaid “work” to keep themselves busy. Continue reading

At 27, I Purchased My First “Anti-Wrinkle Cream”

“What are those… those… red creases in my forehead?,” I silently scream to myself as I study my aging face in the mirror, reflexively squeezing my forehead flesh in a worried expression making the thin lines even more pronounced. “Since when did I have wrinkles?” I’m 27 and my face shows it. I’m not sure how a 27 year old face is supposed to look, but I do know that my friends who are in their 30s look older in a way that makes them look like actual adults, and that suddenly people in their 40s don’t seem all that much older than people in their 30s to me. Meanwhile, my 27-year-old face is, well, it’s changing. It’s slowly but surely turning 30.

I remember about five years ago when I had caught my reflection in the bathroom at some random party after drinking one too many glasses of wine, and I didn’t recognize myself. I’ve spent far too many hours of my life looking in the mirror, either slathering my face with makeup or watching tears fall down my cheeks during a depressive outburst, so it was terrifying not to recognize my face. I look old, I thought. And then I was maybe 20 or 21…

There was a time when I thought it was silly to spend money on anything to keep yourself looking youthful, but I’m beginning to understand the trend. In a report by iData Research, a leading authority in pharmaceutical market research, the market for Botox injections is expected grow to an estimated $543 million by 2017. Clearly, those pharma companies know how to prick us in our sore spots.

While I’m not quite ready for botox, the other day I did find myself, for the first time in my life, staring at the aisle of overpriced wrinkle reduction creams and products designed to make you look youthful on my latest trip to the drugstore. Every skincare line offers some retinol product that promises “RESULTS.” After staring at the selection for a good half an hour, I went with a Neutrogena wrinkle cream product that set me back $23, more because I trust the brand (go marketing) than the label that said “100% of women noticed results in one week.”

From a personal finance perspective, this has me worried. Surely I can let my face age naturally, I can stay out of the sun from this point on (though the damage has, to a large extend, already been done) and just accept that I’m getting older… or, I can do what many other women do, and spend somewhere between too much and a ridiculous amount of money on attempting to look young forever.

My mother, who is in her late 50s, complains how she doesn’t have the money to spend on Botox… $600+ for a few small areas, twice a year, but she still spends (likely) nearly that much in various creams and sessions with her dermatologist, even without the overpriced muscle-freezing injections. Damn, it’s expensive being a woman. It seems the options are to either marry rich and look young forever, or just accept that one day you will look in the mirror, and you will have to look a lot deeper into your eyes to see any evidence the girl you once were.