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Chloe is also super excited to finally have tricker treaters this year

14 Oct

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Big news!

14 Oct

So I bought a house.
I had been thinking about buying a house for about a year. I spent all summer looking online for houses, cruising through many neighborhoods, and checking out open houses. About two months ago, I made an offer on one that seemed to be promising and I had convinced myself was the one for me. That one fell through. I was a little bummed and had told myself maybe it was time to take a break from trying to find a house and that maybe the time wasn’t right. Just two days after I had decided this, one of the neighboring properties (from the one that fell through) was listed. It was perfect! A charming one story house with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, a garage, a big backyard, and a fireplace. I already knew the neighborhood was a good one, I was thrilled. I wanted this house, badly.

After a little negotiation between both realtors, the offer was accepted. I knew what amount I was going to put towards my down payment but I had no idea how expensive everything else would be! I felt pretty lost throughout the process but was lucky that my realtor and the loan officer were both very supportive and answered all the questions that I had.

Here are some tips for any other young professionals that are thinking about purchasing a home:

1. Save, save, save. Seriously even if you think you have estimated everything and budgeted correctly, save more. Closing costs are always higher than anticipated. There is also the cost of moving, turning on new utilities, and any other renovations you want to do.

2. Use your network. Ask the people you know for referrals for painters, gardeners, movers. It’s easier than searching online and saves you tons of time trying to find someone “legit.

3. Think long term. Unless you plan on living there forever, don’t make major changes to the house. Customize it to your liking of course but also keep in mind that not everyone likes the things you like and in the event that you want to sell that house in the future, it will be easier to resell something that isn’t totally custom to you.

4. Don’t worry too much about the “look” inside. Walls can always be painted and floors can always be redone. Focus on the stuff that can’t be changed (at least not in a cheap way), pay attention to the foundation, the roof, the basic floor plan .

Hope this helps!

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So fitting for this week

22 Nov

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Austin, Texas: the most beautiful city

17 Nov

18 boxes, 1 bed, 2 dressers, 1 dinner table : the sum of my life. This will be my 13th move in the last 7 years (since I move to the US). I’ve learned a little bit about myself every time I’ve moved..

This particular move is a hard one on me. Professionally speaking, I am thrilled, the move to Houston is coming at a time where I felt I had reached as far as I could go. I am ecstatic for new ventures, new job responsibilities, the excitement of being surrounded by more people, and the hustle and bustle of the corporate office.

Personally, I am depressed. I honestly feel like I am patting ways with a boyfriend. This boyfriends name is Austin. I have only lived here for a year and a half but already the city of Austin has captured my heart. I remember the very first time I experienced Austin, I was an 18 year old freshman in college (in San Antonio). My girlfriends and I had taken an overnight trip to the city that was notorious for crazy fun college kids. My first thought when we arrived was “I need to live here”. Five years later I took a job that had the “possibility” of leading to branch manager of the Austin office.

In my year and a half in Austin, I have experienced it to its fullest. I’ve partied on 6th street, shopped at whole foods downtown, swam at Barton springs pool, kayaked on lady bird lake, and called myself an austinite. I remain in denial that I am leaving and I promise my friends “I will be here all the time”. I can’t imagine not going to see the zilker tree or walking through trail of lights. I also can’t imagine myself in the quite, serene space that is the Austin office.

Here is a cheers to new opportunities and also to romances and old friends!

And Austin, texas, it’s been real!

Until next time,

The IRA Diva

32 Signs You Are a Questie

14 Oct

1. You’ve experienced inappropriate comments

2. You’ve been locked inside the classroom without a key to get outphoto

3. You’ve racked up a ridiculous bill at coaches

4. You know the quest 15 is real

5. You’ve come to work hungover

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6. You have wrecked your car after a work event

7. You know the fish philosophy by heart in the right order (though no true order exist)

8. You’ve caught yourself laughing at IRA jokes

9. You know what Steak day means

10. Your hands are covered in paper cuts from year end statement mailouts

11. Your significant other is sick of hearing about work

12. You thought 60 hours a week was a regular work week.

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13. Fright night success is rated by hangovers the next day

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14. You stay away from Nathan when he is sick and/or hungry

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15. You don’t ask Quincy questions because you will get so much more than what you asked for (but never get the answer)

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16. You know Amanda is queen B

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17. Transactions doesn’t function unless the refrigerator is fully loaded with redbulls (sugar free is a plus)

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18. You will go days without an access card because you know you will have to face Amber if you admit you lost yours

19. Sams run means stock your desk drawer

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20. You’ve been told to take something off your Facebook/Instagram/LinkedIn


21. You have no idea how our health benefits work

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22. You are sick of transfer/rollover training

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23. You negotiate favors based on who will complete your compliance


24. Popeyes opening next to the office just means quest 15 will now be quest 30


25. The guys at discount tire know you by your first name

26. You’ve heard about the man in the brown shoes

27. Days off are Urban Legends you tell your grandchildren about

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28. You can’t remember a time when Bri wasn’t pregnant

29. Staff when getting kicked out of TNET

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But the auditors face:

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30. And calling sick the day after a holiday is a mortal sin 🙂

31. IT guy is also the AC repair/Picture hanger/ muscles/ Fixer/ Handyman

 

32. But despite the drama and the problems, you are proud to call yourself a QUESTIE!

25 things young professionals must know before 25

10 Oct

Last month, I turned 24, but since 25 sounds better, we will stick to that number. Since becoming gainfully employed, I’ve made a lot of professional mistakes—and learned a few things, along the way. Here are 25 of them. Let me know if you agree, or what you would add to this list.

By 25, you should know how to:

1. Take rejection with poise.

By now you should’ve faced some sort of professional rejection. My favorite was having my résumé handed back to me after a job interview.

2. Do your own bitch work.

Empathy is an important trait for all managers. Knowing what it’s like to do the grunt work makes you appreciate those who have to do it after you. Assuming that you are not above anything will help you soar in your career.

3. Craft an appropriate LinkedIn connection invite request.

I don’t mind getting LinkedIn connection requests from random people, but it irritates me when they don’t have a tailored message and instead use the standard LinkedIn invite line. Here’s an idea for something that could work: “Hi Jenny, I noticed we both work in the Austin Real Estate scene and wanted to connect with you. Maybe I could buy you a cup of coffee/tea in the near future to learn more about what you do?”

4. Ask for a raise. 

When you’re worth more than you earn, you need to know how to ask for more. After being out of school for three years, learn how to broach the topic.

5. Delegate work.

Delegating responsibility is underrated. By 25, you should know when it’s appropriate to delegate and how to do it. For example, if someone asks me to perform a task that is within my power, but I don’t have the time for it, I look for the colleague it makes most sense to perform that task regularly, and ask him or her to do it.

6. Pick your battles.

Not every battle is worth fighting; you should know which are worth your time and energy. Getting upset with the way someone sends incessant emails takes a backseat to someone who fails to communicate important pieces of information.

7. Unplug.

Once you answer that work email at 11 p.m., you set a precedent that you’re available 24/7. Unless it’s an emergency, try not to check your work email (or mark it unread and deal with it when you get to the office).

8. Put in your two-weeks’ notice.

If you’re lucky enough to have loved your first job out of college and are still there by 25, bravo! But you should know how to tactfully put in your two weeks’ notice, if you make a career move. This requires a written resignation.

9. Tactfully give your business card at a networking event.

No one likes the business card ninja who swoops in, throws his or her card at you, and leaves you stunned. First, have a conversation with someone. Find out stuff you have in common. Then offer your card as a way to stay in touch.

10. Avoid getting sloppy at a networking event.

An open bar doesn’t give you permission to act like you did at college frat parties. Have a few drinks to loosen up, but keep it professional.

11. Prioritize your time.

For example, tackle your bigger work issues toward the beginning of the day and save your smaller, less important tasks for the end of the day when you’re winding down. Remember: There’s always tomorrow.

12. Set professional goals.

You want accomplishments on your résumé, not just finished tasks. Setting annual professional goals will set you on track to advance your career. Meeting mentors in your industry through networking events and LinkedIn will help you realize what goals you need to prioritize.

13. Send an SOS.

Chances are you’ve felt overwhelmed by your workload at least once in your career. Knowing when and how to send a help signal to your manager and or co-workers is essential to preventing burnout.

14. Conduct an interview.

Knowing how to interview someone is an important skill. Not only does it teach you how to ask the right questions, but also it teaches you what skill set and personality you value in yourself and your potential co-workers.

15. Communicate.

Communication, when done well, sets you apart from other young professionals. Good communication is a strong asset, so learn it while you’re in the beginning stages of your career. For example, when emailing project specs, I copy as many people I think will benefit from the discussion. Bringing someone in during the later stages of development could mean painful—and unnecessary—back-peddling.

16. Handle being caught venting about co-workers.

It happens to the best of us. Your co-worker commits a major faux pas, and you need to vent about it to another co-worker. Then you get caught. Knowing how to turn it into a dialogue with constructive criticism—or knowing how to avoid it all together—is important.

17. Not sweat the small stuff (you’re not curing cancer).

Unless, of course, you are curing cancer. Then disregard. Ask yourself, “Will this matter a year from now?” If not, don’t sweat it. Acknowledge your mistake and learn from it.

18. Invest in your 401(k)—or at least think about it.

The numbers don’t lie. Someone who starts saving before the age of 25 accrues more interest than someone who starts saving at 30. Not sure how much to invest?

19. Be a team player.

No one likes a selfish co-worker. Learn this healthy habit early in your career to get ahead of those who didn’t. You can operate under the “CYA” (cover your ass) mentality, just make sure it doesn’t turn into a “TUB” (throw under the bus) one.

20. Talk to the CEO of your company.

Get sweaty palms talking to authority figures? Nix those nerves now.

21. Lead a meeting.

You’ll need to learn how eventually, why not get it out of the way before you turn 25? Have a meeting agenda, and make sure you open it for discussion as often as you can so you’re not the only one talking. Also, you can take it one step further by following up with action items and decisions made during the meeting.

22. Ask for time off without feeling guilty.

You earn your time off, so it’s important to take it with a clean conscience. If you’re planning on having a “Treat yo self” day, look into local brewery tours, daytime trapeze classes, or some simple retail therapy.

23. Put together a visual report.

Putting information into a strong visual report speaks volumes more than just throwing the numbers onto a spreadsheet and clicking send. About 60 percent of people are visual learners, so it’s important to make your information pop with charts and graphs.

24. Give your elevator pitch.

Since I work for a small company, the question I get asked the most is, “What’s Quest?” It took some practice, but I finally got my company’s elevator pitch down a few months after joining the team. Not sure what yours is? Listen to what your co-workers say.

25. Be a mentor.

By the time you’re three years out of college, you will have had at least one younger person ask you for career advice. Understanding the impact you have as a mentor is powerful, and the relationships you have with mentees can be some of the most rewarding ones you’ll have in your mid-20s.

 

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Traditional vs Roth

8 Oct

Quote 31 Aug

“The hardest period in life is one’s twenties. It’s a shame because you’re your most gorgeous, and you’re physically in peak condition. But it’s actually when you’re most insecure and full of self-doubt. When you don’t know what’s going to happen, it’s frightening.”
— Helen Mirren, quoted in Esquire’s “What I’ve Learned” (via thelimestoneandtheivy)

This is why you are my best friend

20 Aug

We’re best friends because you get it. I’m not sure what that means (it’s all so vague) but whatever it is, you have it. I don’t need to explain anything to you or worry if you’ll get the joke. You already got it and are on your way to making the next one. Thanks, babe! You really make socializing a lot easier for me.

We’re best friends because you love me even when I’m terrible. It’s easy to love someone when they’re doing well, it’s easy when there’s nothing but happiness and good vibes. The real challenge comes when everything is crap. You’re not a fun person to be around, people are screening your number and you’re a damn social pariah. But you don’t care. Even at my most Carrie Bradshaw, you’re still down to get brunch with me and talk about stuff.

We’re best friends because I can take you anywhere and you’ll adapt. Whether it’s the chicest party or some insufferable work gathering, you’ll deal with it like a champ. I don’t have to worry about leaving you alone or keeping you entertained. You go do your thing. I do mine. Let’s meet back at the bar in an hour.

We’re best friends because you never make me uncomfortable. I think about most of my friends and realize that they’ve made me feel weird at some point in our friendship. Whether it’s from an awkward silence or an off-color remark, I’ve felt unsure about them. Not you though. I always know that you make sense and that this makes sense.

We’re best friends because we can go for long stretches of time without talking and it won’t damage the relationship. We always pick up where we left off. Surfaces changes mean nothing to us. You could become a vegan who goes by Moonshadow and attends Burning Man, and I would still feel closer to you than anyone else. We don’t need common interests in order to connect. We don’t need a mutual love of music or sports or whatever to keep us together.

We’re best friends because you don’t get resentful or jealous if I get into a relationship or land an amazing job. I mean, maybe you are and that’s fine. The important thing is that you keep it to yourself like a best friend should.

You’re my best friend because you’re not afraid to call me out on my crap or disagree with me. I can’t get away with anything when I’m with you. You’ll tell me things that I need to hear but everyone else is too afraid to tell me. Your honesty is so damn refreshing albeit a bitter pill to swallow sometimes.

We’re best friends because you make feel less alone in this psycho, flaky world. It’s amazing how often you can feel disconnected from people. It’s amazing how many people can betray you, or fail to understand the words that are coming out of your mouth. When I see you, it’s a burst of reassurance that I’m not the only who looks at the world this way. There’s someone else. And that someone is you.