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Guys, it’s the return of Career Girl Chat!! It’s been a hot minute since I last interviewed and wrote an episode. The very last career girl we chatted was Jennie Yoon from Casetify and Kinn, and before that, it was Amanda Weiss from Poshmark. And speaking of Poshmark, I actually met today’s Career Girl, Paulina Mo at a local San Diego Poshmark in May of 2015.  Paulina, aka Lil bits of Chic, was one of the local OG fashion bloggers that Poshmark invited to the event, and I was a newbie Poshmarker that wanted to meet other Poshmarkers. We didn’t exactly connect at the event, but I started following Paulina on her Instagram account.

Related:
Career Girl Chat || From HR Intern to Director of Biz Dev at Casetify – How did she do it?!
Career Girl Chat || Work hard, stay humble, and be kind. Opportunities will follow

Fast forward to 2018, with me cranking up my blogging efforts and Paulina being on her maternity leave (Paulina and her husband recently welcomed this little bundle of joy into their world), we had the chance to catch up and I decided to learn more about her professional career in finance, and invited her to share her career experience with Cubicle Chic readers.

Rapid fire questions – what was your 1) college major, 2) your first job, and 3) how many resumes you sent out before you got your first & current job?

Paulina:  My college major was Management Science (Economics), my first job was a cashier at a water park, I only sent one resume to my old boss as a courtesy because she had already recruited me, and for my current job I sent one resume in to be considered for an open position and received a call back shortly thereafter.

When you first graduated from college, did you know that you’d end up where you are today, why or why not?

Paulina: When I first graduated, I knew that to be financially secure I would be doing some form of a job like the one I am in today- in the financial services industry, working with finance.

Are you happy with where you are in your career? If you were to name three things you have to have in your career/employment, what are they?

Paulina: I am satisfied where I am in my career, I also feel like starting a family has had me rethink my priorities and requirements in a job. Now I like flexibility (work-life balance), a good workplace culture and great benefits.

What’s your experience with mentorship like, who were your mentors and are you mentoring anyone now?

Paulina: Mentorship was vital to my success. I had great bosses and mentors who believed in me, but there was one who really invested in me. She recruited me as her assistant when I was a college student and had seen my work ethic when I worked in a bank branch. She mentored me, pushed me to get my securities licenses, went so far to sponsor me in them and opened my eyes to the career track I’m on. I’m currently not mentoring right now but it is definitely something I would like to pay forward in the future.

If you look back in the past 5-10 years, what were the most important experiences that propelled you to where you are today? These could be lessons you learned from failures, being part of a special project, or pursuing (or not pursuing) a passion you really have.

Paulina: I learned very important lessons from failures as they taught me not to repeat the same mistake, one of them being my relationship with credit cards or living outside of my means. Once I paid off every cent of my debt and student loans (which took me 3.5 years) I felt so unburdened and I vowed never to let that happen again. I live within my means, I have a good relationship with money and feel financially secure.

Now the dreaded “what do you want to be in 5/10 years” question…how do you typically answer questions like this?

Paulina: In 5 years, my son would be 5 years old, I would hopefully (God willing) have another child and be happy in my full-time career and blogging career. I’m sure blogging will have evolved by then but hope that I can continue utilizing it as a creative outlet.  Professionally, I would like to still be challenged and (for lack of better words) kicking butt!

If you have experience in interviewing/recruiting new employees, what do you look for in candidates for positions that don’t require years of experience?

Paulina: I look into their track record, or some sort of indication of their work ethic, either by checking on their references or if they were referred by a colleague. I think work ethic and attitude is essential especially in positions that don’t require years of experience because there is a lot of continuous learning so a go-getter attitude is better than an experienced whiny worker!

Lastly, what’s your go-to office outfit, and what is one piece of clothing you can’t live without?

Paulina: My go-to office outfit tends to be a fit and flare dress (that is not short of course) with a fitted blazer. I alternate between high heels and black flats. After working in Corporate America for so long I have discovered that this combination is a comfortable yet stylish option!

The post Career Girl Chat || A Finance Girl With a Fashion Blog appeared first on Cubicle Chic.

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Arbitrary or not, most would agree that the six-figure salary is a significant milestone. For many white-collar professionals, a 6-figure salary is something to strive for amongst getting a C suite title, having a corner office, managing a big team, etc.  In fact, in 2017, the average annual income of 25-to-34-year-old Americans was $40K, and the average 35-44 year-olds made $50K (CNBC Money). What is somewhat depressing is that after this age bracket, annual income basically stays the same until the retirement age of 65 and it plummets to $47K. So, the average group of Americans don’t ever make a 6-figure salary in their lifetime.

My Humble Beginning

When I began my marketing career back in late 2000’s, I had an annual salary in the $50K range. On average, that is a decent starting salary. But being in California, having just gotten my MBA and seeing where my classmates had landed salary-wise, it did not feel like a high salary in any way. Over the next few years, with a couple of job change and promotions, my salary slowly increased to the 60K rang.  Then the 70K range. And then it plateaued here for a few years.

And Then It Happened

I was OVER THE MOON when I received the job offer back in September 2016 that finally brought my salary into the 6-figure range. Imposter syndrome, self-doubt, and overall disbelief all aside, it was a yuuuuuge (lol) confidence boost. Additionally, my fiancé and I were planning a wedding at the time, so we knew the increase in my salary was going to be a big help. Yet amongst all things, I was really surprised at the thoughts that receiving this offer and having this $6000+ (after tax) a month salary trigged in me.  I never thought these were the things that would surface when I got a 6-figure salary offer.

The first thought that followed “I got the job” was “what am I going to buy myself as the reward?”

Old (bad) habits die hard. This is how I’ve equated any success in my adult life to – the materialistic reward that I’d allow myself to indulge in afterward. It almost makes sense on some levels: “I make more now, I can buy more.” Right? It’s so scary that this was how my brain had been wired for years. When I have the financial means, the first place my thoughts went to was how I could spend my money on materialistic things, and not pay off debt, not increase retirement savings, not increase investments. In hindsight, after I’ve taken the journey to become a more financially responsible person, it’s frightening to face my old habits up close and personal.

I was actually able to shorten the pay-back plan of my car loan.

When I was in debt, I’d stare at my Mint account with the amount of debt I had and silently wish to myself “If only I win the lottery tomorrow or have some kind of windfall of money. That would wipe this all off and I can start anew!” This job offer with the 6-figure salary was exactly that. My car payment at the time was $680 a month. I can’t help but CRINGE at that figure now that car payments are out of my life for good. With the increase in salary, I was done with my car payment within 5 months. This 6-figure salary actually helped me pay off my car loan sooner than I’d thought!

It gave me the confidence I needed to progress in my career  

I generally don’t like talking about things like “imposter syndrome” because I think people (women) have the tendency to use it to legitimize or give more voice to their inner demons. But, there is a reason why this term is so popular these days and there’s some truth in its popularity. Having a nice 6-figure salary is one of the best weapons to battle imposter syndrome, at least in my experience. Nothing says “you are worth it” than your negotiation resulting in the salary you asked for. It’s empowering, validating, and a defining milestone. It also gave me more assurance when I negotiated other job offers & compensation packages later in life.

I was still the same person I was, with the same challenges, flaws, hard decisions to make in life.

This was the most sobering fact that dawned on me a few months after I started this job. Having the 6-figure salary I wanted was not some silver bullet. Getting paid this much didn’t change who I was or the problems I had. It boosted my confidence, sure, but it didn’t give me confidence that I didn’t have. I still had to commute to work, felt anxious before a presentation, had co-workers that were so annoying I wish I didn’t have to deal with them… my work life did not magically transform into something else better. And as naïve as that sounds, I used to hold on to the thought of “if only my salary was much higher” and then things would magically improve. This definitely didn’t happen.  

The satisfaction wears off fast. The mind latches onto new goals, and the hustle starts all over again.

It’s human nature. We set a goal, achieve it, feel overcome by a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction…then it fades. And we move onto the next thing we slave away to accomplish. This is a big concept in positive psychology called the hedonic adaptation. It describes the fact that “happiness doesn’t last”; you buy a new car, get a big promotion, win the lottery, etc. But after a while, the excitement and euphoria wear off and you’re back to your baseline of emotions. And you feel like you’re back at square one, with new goals to tackle in order to find that “high” again. On this front, I highly recommend three books to read on finding ways to create meaning and measure happiness in life: How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton Christenson, The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor, and Designing Your Life by Bill Burnette and Dave Evans.

What’s your salary story? How does your current salary make you feel and why?

The post I landed a 6-figure salary job by age 30. This is how my life changed. appeared first on Cubicle Chic.

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Horrible Bosses Are Everywhere

In the corporate world, there is one person that has the power to make your work experience a living paradise or living hell. This person is your manager or ze boss (cue weird foreign accent) as I’d like to say.  We’ve probably all heard horror stories involving a sadistic, lazy, incompetent and all the while demanding boss that ruined someone’s life at work, or their life period. We don’t nearly hear enough stories about the great bosses.  In fact, between 13-36% of American workers report that they have a dysfunctional (abusive, inept, malicious, etc) manager.  Honestly, I can probably write a book based on my own experiences and all my friends and families’ stories combined. But that wouldn’t be news to anyone, would it? The truth is, it’s easy to be a bad manager and very difficult to be a great boss. I sometimes think that perhaps by default, if we don’t try hard, we are all bad managers. After all, we all have what it takes to be a little self-centered, or insecure, or lazy, or just not giving a shit sometimes, amirite?

Great Bosses Are Rarely Talked About

This is what brings me to today’s post – let’s talk about the qualities that actually make a great boss! In my 10 years of corporate career, I’ve had my share of bad as well as great bosses. But almost every single one of my manager has qualities that I respected and appreciated. I reflected on my experience working with all these managers  (and perhaps wondered what they wished I’d known but they wouldn’t tell me…) and came up with 10 signs that indicate you actually have a great boss at work.

How many of these great boss qualities does your current manager have?

Disclaimer: I use the pronoun SHE because I like the way it sounds. In my career, I’ve had exactly 6 male and 6 female bosses so far but the ones that have impacted me most deeply happen to be female. That’s also why I am using the pronoun She. Some of these characteristics actually belonged to my male bosses.

1. She asks you for your opinion in your area of expertise and values your expertise

It’s an incredibly empowering thing when your manager defers to you in areas of your expertise.  This great boss of mine always managed to do this to give me opportunities to shine and to have the chance to make an impact instead of telling me what to do.

2. She expects a lot from you and trusts in your ability to complete things

It’s not that she is simply laisser-faire and doesn’t like to interfere with your day-to-day. A great boss actually expects a lot from you. She knows that you will put 100% into everything you do and that you will deliver on time. A great boss doesn’t need to constantly check in with you, ask if you’re making progress, or monitor how you’re doing things. She simply trusts you to deliver when the results are due.

3. She protects her people from outsider criticism but delivers it individually and tactically when needed

This is an important character in a manager if she wants a loyal team with members that trust her. She shields her team from others who have directly negative feedback or criticism to her team’s performance. But this protectiveness doesn’t’ mean she would never deliver criticism. A great boss will still let you know where you need to improve, but her feedback is delivered tactfully, purposefully, and with context.

4. She respects her employee’s time

This is a big one for me, personally. A great boss is a good time manager and respects everyone’s time around her. She shows up to meetings on time, doesn’t set up excessively long meetings, and always has an agenda for her meetings. She also shields her team from outside projects that are time-sucks or with unclear/indefinite timelines.

5. You look forward to your 1:1 meetings

As an extension of sign #5 – a great boss makes sure your 1:1 meetings are productive and your time together it well utilized. This means when you have questions, she has solutions or at least suggestions. This means she is an insightful and intentional person and that she respects your time.

6. She makes it a point to always talk about your development & goals and how you are progressing toward them

If there is one quality that all of the great bosses have, it’s this one. At the end of the day, managers manage people, and people need the motivation to keep performing, improving, and evolving. A great boss works with her employees to craft ways to be motivated, i.e. set up development goals. Even when you’re not 100% clear on what your career goals are, a great boss would guide your thinking and help you find your goals.

7. She creates an environment such that the team can thrive in

A great boss creates a strong team. She knows how to provide social glue and bring people together. She brings people closer, not farther apart.

8. She always makes time for you and is there when you need her within a reasonable timeframe (this requires them to be a good time manager herself)

A great boss doesn’t push your meetings off indefinitely or tell you “I don’t have time” without hearing you first. A great boss is there for her employee in times of need whether be it a meeting or a simple phone call. This, however, requires that she is a good manager of her own time, to begin with.

9. She supports your career moves even if it means you move away from her team

This isn’t about being selfless, or caring and empathetic about others’ goals. A great boss knows that her ultimate job is to develop a person as a whole, and not just to develop a member of her team. Any person’s development, if it goes well, will surely extend beyond what her team’s function requires of any person on her team. If she sees this, she will be supportive and happy for you when you one day tell her that you have to pursue bigger or different goals or simply goals that don’t fall within her team.

10. She asks for a 30-60-90 day plan at the beginning of a new job

When you are starting a new job, the impact of a great boss is immeasurable. She has the power to set you up to have a thriving future at this new company. An average manager appreciates a 30-60-90 day plan, but a great manager asks for one. Either way, you should always be prepared to do one, but know that if your manager asks for one, it’s likely that she will turn into a great boss.

Does reading this list make you appreciate your current boss more? Did you just realize you have a pretty decent boss yourself? Tell me more below in the comments section!

All photography by Natalie Alvarado @ Stylenfuse

P.S. If you’re wondering why this bag looks so familiar, it’s because you saw it in my last post... except it was the pink side showing. This is a reversible, genuine leather bag! Palla Handbag is the company that makes this bag and has generously agreed to give me a unique discount code for Cubicle Chic readers “@cubicle_chic” – use it to get 15% off if you wind up purchasing one of the Palla bags.

Handbag: Palla A-Bag use my 15% off code “Cubicle_chic” (P.S. They’re also available on Amazon!)

The post 10 Signs That You Actually Have a Great Boss appeared first on Cubicle Chic.

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Thank you BrainGear for sponsoring this post. Discover Your Highest Gear!

A Typical Work Day Afternoon

It’s 2:30 in the afternoon. You step out of the last meeting you have in the day, yawn for the 5th time in the last hour as you’re reminded of the mountain of tasks you still need to get to before you leave. The idea of a mid-afternoon pick-me-up sounds not just perfect right now, but necessary. So, you go for the 3rd cup of coffee in the day.

Tell me this doesn’t give you all the feels. Coffee makes me feel like I can conquer the world!!

For a brief moment, the warmth of the cup in your hand and the hope of feeling 100% focused, energized, and alert gives you a fuzzy feeling. But as soon as you sit down in front of your computer, the bitterness of coffee and your to-do list and triple-digit email inbox brings you back to reality.

As you inhale the coffee (that’s what I do anyway) you yawn some more due to the tolerance you’ve up because your body is so used to high levels of coffee now. As you gulp down the cup, you wonder if it’s possible to OD on coffee.

My Stomach Ulcer Problem

I certainly haven’t heard of people ODing from coffee. What I have more personal experience with, however, is stomach ulcer. Yes, years of working in the corporate world has made me a seasoned marketer but also messed up my digestive system semi-permanently. You see, I got it by drinking coffee in the morning on an empty stomach for years. Probably since college days. I started having problems around late 2016 when things got pretty intense in my first job as a manager.  First, I thought I was having just acid reflux because after meals I would often feel like I am so full that if I bent over I would vomit. After about 2 months of feeling this way, I went to a gastroenterology. And I had an endoscopy. The imaging told us that I developed these micro-abrasions in my stomach lining and they were the results of having over active production of stomach acid.

I was instantly put on medication, a diet plan, and I had to stay off of coffee for at least 2 months. It was torturous and I had to switch to green tea which is total BS (LOL. Sorry, no offense to tea drinkers). But it worked. I also never drink coffee on an empty stomach anymore. Occasionally I’d still get a flare up. But with the right diet management and careful consumption of coffee, I’ve more or less kept stomach ulcers at bay.

An Ideal Coffee Alternative

When BrainGear contacted me, I was ready to jump on the project and try out this novel drink with their patented formula. I had been looking for something that would power me through during the mid-workday lull that we all go through! The drink tastes fruity, slightly sour, not very sweet (which I like!) and basically like vitamin water. So guys, here’s the verdict. I’ve been drinking BrainGear drink for the last 2 months (not consecutively like they recommend though, I will explain later) and I have to say that it really does promote my overall focus and attention at work! 

Now Pay Attention to This
  1. BrainGear is really transparent with their ingredients. Even though the formula is patented,  you can actually see everything that goes in this bottle. So you won’t need to worry about unknown or secret ingredients that you can’t read up on!
  2. I don’t drink it on an empty stomach like they recommend on the label. Everyone’s digestive system is different, and like I said, mine is of the delicate sort. So I don’t drink anything sour or acidic on an empty stomach out of principle.
  3. When I tried BrainGear the first time, I drank just 1/2 of a bottle. I did not drink any coffee that day or anything else that would change my energy level – and I had very slight jitters. They went away relatively soon (within an hour) and it gave me the effect I was looking for. I would recommend anyone who’s trying it for the first time to start small in terms of quantity. Slowly ease your way into the recommended level of consumption to the one label which is one bottle per day (4.5oz).
How I Make It & Drink It

1. Prep orange slices at home. Freeze them overnight and bring them to work in a tupperware!

2. Find an adult sippy cup (OK fine tumbler!)  like this one you see in the photos, make sure the bottle is glass so it’s see-through and the fruit slices on the inside will show! If you’re like me, beautiful things tend to help good habit stick better. So if your goal is to drink more water throughout the day, which it’s definitely one of my goals, you should get a bottle that supports that habit!

3. If you choose to, find a filler like La Croix sparkling water. Or you can just use water. My addiction with La Croix is serious, guys. It satisfies my soda cravings and has zero calories, like what? How did you not win a Nobel Food Prize?? OK. Right. It doesn’t exist…

4. Pour BrainGear into the bottle and leave it in the fridge for about an hour. Fun fact: BrainGear tastes better when it’s cold! Then, it’s ready for you to drink!

That’s it guys- if you ever do try BrainGear, can you tell me how you like it and how you drink it? I’ll let you in on a secret: I actually started carrying the small bottle with me in my purse. LOL. It almost feels like a flask. When I’m too lazy to make the fancy drink, I’ll just carry the bottle with me take a little sip here and there throughout the day.  I love it!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

The post How to Stay Engaged & Focused At Work Without Coffee appeared first on Cubicle Chic.

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Top: Equipment Alma Silk Top, size S // Handbag: Palla A-Bag use my 15% off code “Cubicle_chic” (P.S. They’re also available on Amazon!)

To a lot of my newer friends, I probably seem like I have it together when it comes to personal finance. However, what I’m sharing today about the untold realities of living a financially responsible life will introduce you to a different side of me. Oh and in case you’re interested about more personal finance articles I’ve written as a fashion blogger, here’s the 9 ways fashion blogging ruined my finances.

Hello, My Name Is Jessica. I Am A Shopaholic.  (This is where you say “Hi, Jessica.”)

Do you know someone who you’re pretty sure has a shopping addiction? If you knew me before 2016, you’d probably think that I was one of them. Perhaps the word addiction is a bit of a hyperbole, and I certainly never received a clinical diagnosis. But the impulsivity, utter disorganization, and unending appetite that I shopped with indicated something was, at the very least, behaviorally wrong with me on the personal finance front. And yes, something was indeed wrong – I had no idea what I was doing wrong!

An Incarnation Ago

I knew all the common knowledge – you need to save, and you shouldn’t spend more than you make, start investing in retirement early, etc. But I was still shopping the way I did anyway because I worked hard. I was living a privileged life, sure – I lived in my parents’ house and they were kind enough to not charge me rent, I didn’t have a student loan to deal with also thanks to my parents, and didn’t have anyone that I was responsible for financially. But I also worked hard at my budding marketing career, putting in all the hours and oftentimes overtime work too. So, I spent pretty much all my hard-earned money on fun – eating out, traveling, and of course, shopping. And I’m talking about designer shopping – $600 a pair of shoes and $2000 handbags kind of shopping. I think my record year was $30K spent on online shopping. Over a period of 3 years of having a full-time job, I had no savings, retirement or cash, and racked up about $5000 in credit card debt along the way.

The Change

2015 was a transformative year for me. It was the year that I moved in with my then boyfriend (husband now) and we started merging our finances together. I attribute most of my transformative progress in becoming a financially responsible person to my husband. He patintly showed me the way and shouldered our expenses together as I paid off my debt in 2016.  Another positive influence came from personal finance expert Dave Ramsey and his $100, 9-week course Financial Peace University which my husband and I took together. We often tell people it was our version of pre-marital counseling sessions. It was a difficult year to say the least, filled with many trials and tribulations and a lot of growing pains. I had to change my problematic shopping behavior and tendencies and most importantly of all, my money mindset. I can write a book on this process. Leave me a comment if you’re curious!

Top: Equipment Alma Silk Top, size S // Handbag: Palla A-Bag use my 15% off code “Cubicle_chic” (P.S. They’re also available on Amazon!)

Fast Forward To The Present, 2018

A wedding, a new house, and 2 new jobs later, we are living a married life that I couldn’t possibly have imagined before. We have a budget we share and hold each other accountable for. We have a mortgage but are on a 10-year track to pay it off. We are a one-car household (that’s a rarity in California) but we make it work. I sometimes wonder how would the 2014-Jessica view my current life, if she could travel ahead in time and peer into it now? I think she would be puzzled, confused, and overall questioning how it works. So that leads me to what I’m here to write about today…

Top: Equipment Alma Silk Top, size S // Handbag: Palla A-Bag use my 15% off code “Cubicle_chic” (P.S. They’re also available on Amazon!)

The Realities of Living a Financially Responsible Life

There’s the good and, of course, there’s the bad. What I would say is that all the bad is completely worth the good. And in the end, the bad isn’t so bad when you accept it as a way of life.

The less-than-glamorous side of living a financially responsible life:

1. It’s not just about the budget anymore. 

It’s about sticking to the budget, and checking and re-checking, aligning and re-aligning month after month. It does not stop. The only time when the budget feels like it’s not there anymore is when you and your budget are so in-synch, you don’t need to rely on it to know when to spend or when not to spend. But then life throws curve-balls at you. A flat tire. A leaky water heater. A friend who you haven’t seen decided to visit you last minute. Any of these things might put you in front of your budget again. I had to learn to be good friends with my budget and know that it means well so I don’t get sick of seeing it again and again.

2. The impromptu Target cosmetic-aisle shopping-spree is no longer.

This used to be my cure-it-all whenever I was having a bad day or just feeling down. The fluorescent lighting, plethora of new cosmetic and skincare products, and the HOPE of perfect skin almost always lifted my mood when I was down. But it was nevertheless a temporary solution. After the novelty and excitement wore off, the neon-orange shopping bag (when the remedy was the Ulta sort instead of Target) would scream at me and remind me how and irresponsible I was with my money. Then I’d feel worse. Not to mention, I only have a $250 shopping budget now. If I walked out of Target with $150 in purchases…. I’d only have $100 left!!

3. Designer things are a dream-like, remote possibility.

OK, guys, please don’t judge me or hate me for this fact. But I have a confession to make. I have 5 Chanel, 4 Louis Vuitton, 3 Gucci and 1 Proenza Schouler purses/handbags. Some of them came as gifts, but most of them I bought. I no longer owe any debt on any of them, but a few of them I did put on credit card when I bought them at the time. I have a weakness for luxury goods, obvi. But the last designer bag I purchased was in 2016. Ever since I went through the personal finance transformation, it’s become clear that designer goods purchase cannot be a frequent occurrence in my life anymore. It’s questionable whether there would be an occurrence at all. Unless I find another job where I make 6 figure again, I need to eliminate this reality from my life. No more designer bag purchases in the near future.

4. I have learned to either say NO, or wait patiently to save up for what I want which is not within my budget.

Saying no to things I want is hard. But it’s even harder to say no to things that feel like they are a need.  For example, my hair. You see my long & super grown-out roots? They’re so grown out they’re barely roots anymore. But I have been waiting for a time when I have $200-$300 so I can fix it. I am also contemplating going black again. Because that perfectly ashy brown color? VERY expensive to maintain. Another example is our unfurnished master bedroom. We just completed a $25K master bedroom renovation in December. We went over budget. The next thing on the list to do was to furnish our bedroom (the only thing in it now is a queen-sized bed on a box spring and nothing else) but since we went over budget, we decided to wait a few months to replenish our cash reserve before shopping for our master bedroom furniture.

Top: Equipment Alma Silk Top, size S // Handbag: Palla A-Bag use my 15% off code “Cubicle_chic” (P.S. They’re also available on Amazon!)

The unexpected UPSIDE of a living a financially responsible life:

1. I appreciate things now for what they are, and not what they represent.

I still enjoy designer products, but they don’t mean the same thing to me anymore. When it comes to the things that I use in my daily life now, I am much much more about quality than the brand. For example, this pink little handbag I am carrying in the photos in this post – it’s made by a company called Palla. This is the A-bag and it’s made of natural leather and is the most versatile bag I’ve had for as long as I’ve had this blog. It can be worn crossbody, on the shoulder, it’s got a little point pouch attached, and it’s reversible so it can be pink or it can be gray. Palla has generously agreed to give me a unique discount code for Cubicle Chic readers “@cubicle_chic” – use it to get 15% off if you wind up purchasing one of the Palla bags. And if you do, can you do me a favor and tell me about what you think??

2. I am living life fuller than ever now because owning material things is no longer an excuse I can use to feel like I am living well. 

Like I mentioned above, a shopping spree at Target or Ulta is no longer a viable option as a pick-me-up when I feel uninspired or just down. So, I started going to the library. Cleaning the house. Picking a playlist on Spotify and have a one-person dance party. Binging on an oldie-but-goodie favorite audiobook like When Breath Becomes Air. Calling and talking to a friend who I haven’t spoken to in a long time. Reading a book that’s been sitting on my desk for months. I started LIVING more.

3. Financial peace is a real thing and it’s awesome.

One of my cats was diagnosed with cancer in October last year. She is 14-years old and to say she is the love of my life would be an understatement. Sometimes I even question how much I’d love my future kids because it doesn’t feel like it’s possible to love anything else more in this world. And when she was diagnosed with cancer, we actually caught it early and were lucky to have a few treatment options available. We decided to go for the treatments even though it costs about $500 a month. But even before we decided to move forward with the treatment plan, we’d already spent a couple of thousands just in the test we ran to get the right diagnoses. If it wasn’t for the cash reserve we built up in our emergency fund, this sure was going to put us in panic mode, needing to scrounge up this kind of cash. It was enough of an emotional roller coaster to go through the process of finding out the love of my life has cancer. We really appreciated not having to worry about the financial aspect of putting her through the treatment.

4. We are able to be more generous.

My husband and I love having friends and family over. We LOVE hosting parties. We love preparing delicious food and entertaining our guests. We both derive a lot of joy and pleasure out of ensuring our guests have a good time in our home. For example, we threw a Friendsmas party this Christmas and we had the most fun having 12 grown-ups and 5 kids over – it was such a blast! But hosting people comes with some real financial commitment. And having a budget with flexibility within it so we can be generous in providing hospitality when we want to – is a real joy.

Conclusion…

So, now that I’ve shared my life story with you… it’s your turn! Tell me: where are you on your personal finance journey? What’s your biggest obstacle right now, budgeting, saving, making more income, or something else? If you can travel through a time machine and ask your future-have-it-together-self, what would you ask him/her?

All photography by Natalie Alvarado @ Stylenfuse

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Hearts of Gold Blog | Simply Classy | Rose Gold Lining | Ruthie Ridley Blog

Coming Up Roses | Well and Worthy Life | Cubicle Chic | SheShe Show | Lizzie in Lace

Kiss Me Darling | by Brittani Lauren | Heart of Chic | The Blue Hydrangeas | Alicia Tenise

To Thine Own Style Be True | Uptown Fashion by Jess | Lauren Mazzei Blog | The Steele Maiden

Lifestyles By Lauren | Life Lutzurious | Kate Loves Makeup | Kelly Towart Blog | Blush and Blooms

Pretty In Pink Megan | Belle by Laurelle | cute & little | Street Style Squad |

L. Avenue | With Love Lily Rose | The-Middle Page

This $500 Nordstrom Gift Card giveaway is brought to you by the amazing bloggers above. Enter by performing the actions below in the Rafflecopter for a chance to win a shopping spree that will kick your 2018 wardrobe into high gear!

Make sure to do the actions in the Rafflecopter before marking they are done! Marking done doesn’t automatically perform the action.

(We do verify entries!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway runs from Jan 16, 2018 to Jan 30, 2018 (concludes at 12:00 AM on the last day). Open to the US, UK and CAN. Winner will be announced within 10 days of the conclusion of the giveaway and entries will be verified by the hosts. Thanks for participating, I can’t wait for you to go check out these bloggers pages!

The post The Untold Realities of Living a Financially Responsible Life || *$500 Nordstrom Giveaway* appeared first on Cubicle Chic.

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Happy 2018! How’s your new year going so far? Are you hitting the gym, reading a lot, knocking stuff off of your to-do list every day, like I wish I was but definitely am not? LOL. In the first week of 2018, I hit a productivity lull. Maybe December was too productive for me (I wrote 8 blog posts, EIGHT!!). Or, maybe the holiday eating and slothing around finally took a toll on the creative part of my brain and it went into a food coma… But today, I’m here with a new giveaway, a 2018 planner review, and to talk about things that I’m going to do differently on this blog in 2018. Because Cubicle Chic is constantly evolving and so am I. Oh, and because Albert Einstein said this:

One of the biggest themes in 2018 on Cubicle Chic is: how can I better serve you?

Host More Giveaways

The few giveaway I did toward the end of 2017 allowed me to get to know more of my readers and really got the chance to give back & thank you for caring about the content I create on Cubicle Chic. I plan on doing more of this in the future. Today’s post is definitely one of them! Scroll to the bottom of the post to find out how to win one of the 3 planners!

Offer Free Career Counseling Service

I launched a free service on Cubicle Chic last month called What Would Cubicle Chic Do. This is your chance to ask me any question career related – career rut, job search stagnation, inter-personal conflicts/issues at work… anything! Click on the tab below (it’s also hosted on the home page of this blog) and you can expect a personal answer from me within 2-3 days!

Post at Least 6 Times a Month

This is my promise to you, but also a challenge to me. I promise will not just create more content, but create more content that is useful, relevant, interesting and insightful.

Share More Raw, Behind the Scene Content

As a blogger, one of the dilemmas I always have is… am I creating an illusion of false reality for my readers and followers? On the one hand, I know for a fact that no one wants to see mine in PJ’s with bed hair going about my morning routine. But at the same time, if I’m wearing a full face of makeup when I do a “just got out of bed” post, that’s creating a reality that doesn’t exist, and I’m not willing to go there. So, in the spirit of being raw, here’s a funny photo from a recent shoot that was a total blooper. LOL.

Now, onto the 2018 planner review!

I found three 2018 planners from Amazon all under $20. I picked them based on popularity in reviews, aesthetics, and size. I don’t believe in the huge & bulky planners and think mobility is a very important factor in selecting a planner. So without further ado, here’s my 2018 planner review of 3 planners all under $20:

Orange Circle Studio 2018 Do It All Planner $17.99

Pros:

  • The aesthetic design of this planner is SO pretty.
  • The front cover doubles as a little pocket and the back cover has 3 slots as card holders!
  • Comes with stickers for decoration and personalization

Cons:

  • The bulkiest of the three
  • The interior pages are not as colorful as the exterior

Day Designer for Blue Sky 2018 Weekly & Monthly Planner, $14.99

Pros:

  • The aesthetic design of this planner is ON POINT inside and out!
  • The most compact one of the three
  • It feels very sturdy and durable

Cons

  • No pockets or folders to contain loose paper/documents
  • Doesn’t offer any customization option

Bloom Daily Planner 2018 Calendar $15.95

Pros:

  • Guys… marble for life, right?
  • Front and back cover both double as pockets

Cons:

  • The design of the writing pages is a little bland
  • The front and back covers are made of paper. Good quality paper. But the paper material may not sustain wear and tear as well as the plastic ones.

Now, I am giving all three planners away in this post!

Read the instruction below on how to enter… the giveaway ends at the end of the day on Friday 1/12/18.

2018 Planner Giveaway

The post What I’m Doing Differently This Year || 2018 Planner Review (x3) & Giveaway appeared first on Cubicle Chic.

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Outfit details: Jumpsuit: c/o London Times // Heels: Missguided // Purse: Louis Vuitton Montaigne BB

December is everyone’s favorite month for many reasons. For me, the festivities and getting together with friends and family, amongst all, is definitely the biggest reason! Side note: I am hosting our first ever Friendsmas party in San Diego a week before Christmas this year. I will be sharing some decor, invite, and recipe prep details next week! But back on the original topic – for many of us working in the corporate 9-5 environment, it also means there might be a company holiday party coming up soon.

Earlier this week we discussed style faux-pas to avoid when it comes to what to wear to a company holiday party. Today, I have yet another classic piece to share with you that’s perfect to wear to a company holiday party by London Times. But on top of just outfits, I also rounded up some useful tips to make you enjoy the holiday party with coworkers more.

Outfit details: Jumpsuit: c/o London Times // Heels: Missguided // Purse: Louis Vuitton Montaigne BB

Jumpers make for great #girlboss outfits

Less feminine and conservative than dresses, jumpsuits by nature convey a bit more power and confidence. It’s modern, unconventional, and just a little different. I always feel like a big girl when I wear one. So if you’re in management, and wearing a skirt isn’t your thing, a jumpsuit might be just the outfit for you!

Outfit details: Jumpsuit: c/o London Times // Heels: Missguided // Purse: Louis Vuitton Montaigne BB

Outfit details: Jumpsuit: c/o London Times // Heels: Missguided // Purse: Louis Vuitton Montaigne BB

Here are a few other jumpsuit selections that will be perfect to wear to a company holiday parties.

Outfit details: Jumpsuit: c/o London Times // Heels: Missguided // Purse: Louis Vuitton Montaigne BB

Now that we have your outfit selection squared away, let’s talk about mentally preparing you for the company holiday party. We all know that the company holiday party basically a networking event. So, it means on top of socializing, you should probably watch how much you’re drinking and avoid topics like politics, money, and overly personal topics. But what CAN you talk about?

Be curious about the other person, and limit talking about yourself

A simple tip in having any good conversation is to ask about the person’s life whom you’re talking to. Get the other person to talk about himself /herself. Be curious about the person you’re speaking to if you’re starting a conversation. Reciprocate with your own stories but keep that to a minimal. The rule of thumb to keep talking about yourself under 20 seconds (according to the 20-second rule) and listen more than you talk.

Keep your cell phone out of sight

We all know the signal that you send when you decide to bury your face in your phone and not look up at people – “don’t talk to me” is what it is. But did you know that even having the phone near you even when it’s turned off, it’s still distracting enough to impair people’s decision making and problem-solving skills? Don’t succumb to the temptation of looking up the latest tweet or what your favorite Instagram star is doing. Stay in the present and enjoy – there’s a reason why it’s the “present”!

Prep your talking points

Always have topics ready in your back pockets. For this time of the year, you can ask “Are you done with all the Christmas shopping?” or “Planning any fun trips anytime soon?” One question that worked really well for me in the last few years is to ask for marriage advice since I just got married this year. This one really gets people talking. Of course, be careful who you ask. Make sure you know a little bit about their marital status. You don’t want to spring this question on a recent divorcee. Here are 48 other topics for you to consider in case you want to expand your list.

All photography by Natalie Alvarado @ Stylenfuse

The post What to Wear to A Company Holiday Party & Easy Small Talk Tips appeared first on Cubicle Chic.

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Outfit details: Dress: Eliza J // Heels: Louise et Cie // Choker: Madewell

Guys, It’s December!! Where did the last 11 months go in 2017!? With Thanksgiving just in our rear-view window, Christmas is hovering around the corner. Which means you’ve been getting invitations for Christmas parties from friends and families! But not all holiday parties are created equal, and especially not the Company/Employer-hosted kind. The age-old “what to wear” question takes on an entirely different meaning and so much more is at stake if you were to wear the wrong thing. Still thinking about what to wear to your company holiday party this coming weekend or the next? I got you covered!

Outfit details: Dress: Eliza J // Heels: Louise et Cie // Choker: Madewell

Product details:Outfit details: Dress: Eliza J // Heels: Louise et Cie // Choker: Madewell

Product details: Outfit details: Dress: Eliza J // Heels: Louise et Cie // Choker: Madewell

Outfit details: Outfit details: Dress: Eliza J // Heels: Louise et Cie // Choker: Madewell

Eliza J is My Go-To Brand for All Special Occasion Dresses

Let me just preface this by saying this is not sponsored in any way shape or form! If you’ve been following me for a while you know how many times I’ve blogged about their dresses. It’s A Cubicle Chic tradition! I blogged about it in 2015, 2016, and this Christmas is no exception!I have a few outfit ideas to share with you this week.  In particular, this Eliza J  floral lace dress has these cute flare sleeves and is INCREDIBLY FLATTERING. If you are looking for a dress that will cover a food baby bump, this is it!!

You can find this exact Eliza J fit and flare dress from a variety of sources – compare & contrast before you buy. Some of them are actually discounted right now!! Eliza Eliza J dresses are almost always form-fitting enough and still flattering no matter your figure. If you like the style above but aren’t into this color or the sleeves, here are a bunch other choices that are pretty similar, ALSO made by Eliza J!

So now that we got the outfit selection out of the way, let’s talk other fashion-related etiquette for the event. I’m calling these faux-pas because I’ve seen them happened in the handful of company hosted holiday party myself. Some are embarrassing while others are downright tragic.

Avoid Cotton Dresses unless You’re a Boho Goddess

There may be a very flattering and company party appropriate cotton dress out there, I just personally have never seen one. The problem with cotton dresses is that they wrinkle easily, don’t normally flatter you (at least not the party dresses), and usually make you look very casual. Casual is the codeword for sloppy at a company holiday party. So avoid it at all costs.

Got a Big Butt and Want to Flaunt it? Don’t.

This is simply not the right occasion. I know you work out. I know you’re very proud of it. Heck, I wish I had your butt. But no. If you want to be respected for your professional competency, don’t let the impression of your nice butt tamper with people’s image of you. They say men are visual animals… I say people are visual animals. Especially when it comes to a woman’s figure. I think the line needs to be drawn at what do you want people to remember you of.

This is potentially a controversial stance to take on this topic. If you disagree with me, what are your thoughts?

Pick the right color of dress for YOU

This is a tough one. Everyone’s complexion is different, so there is not a one-color-fits-all solution here. There are general principles out there like warm skin tone is complimented by warm colors and cool skin tone is complimented by cool colors. Also, there are simply psychological associations that we unconsciously form when seeing different colors. Honestly, if I was ever to give ONE fashion advice to everyone who wants to know out there, it’s find the right color that compliments you. For me, I stick with feminine colors (white, gray, blush/light pink) and for the right occasion, I will rock bold colors like royal blue, dark green, or bright red. This is a general rule of thumb but I think everyone should have colors they always stick with!

That’s a wrap! I have another outfit coming your way later this week so stay tuned. In the mean time, if you want to find inspiration on what to wear to a company holiday party, here are all the other posts I’ve done over the years:

2015: Outfit featuring Dailylook faux-fur and jumpsuit

2015: Outfit featuring Eliza J two pieces dress 

2015: Outfit featuring Dailylook Juliette Dress

2016: Outfit featuring Morning Lavender Dress

2016: Outfit featuring Maison Jules 

Let me know which dress you picked to wear to your company holiday party!

All photography by Natalie Alvarado  @ Stylenfuse 

The post What to Wear to a Company Holiday Party & Style Faux Pas to Avoid appeared first on Cubicle Chic.

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Coming up with outfits for work can be fun sometimes. I mean, I do have a blog called Cubicle Chic. But there are also times when I have to be at work for 7 am meetings, or if I’ve pulled a late-night working session the day before when outfits are the last thing I want to think about. So, I’m all about simple accessories that transform and elevate a work outfit to look like another. This way, you can repeat an outfit without anyone noticing!

Style a Scarf

One of the easiest tricks is using a scarf. Pick a scarf that’s big enough to be wrapped around the collar of your blouse/blazer. Also, pick a color that’s bright and attention-grabbing, so you steer people’s attention away from what may be a second-day outfit underneath! This Yellowcake Shop Triangle Scarf needs a special shoutout because it’s not like any scarf I’ve ever seen! It’s got two tassels attached to two of its corners, creating a necklace-like kind of look. Any outfit paired with this scarf looks instantly chic!

Discount code provided by Yellowcake Shop: Use exclusive code “CHICYC” to get 15% off your first order!

A Simple Trick to Elevate an Everyday Work Outfit featuring Yellowcake Shop Triangle Scarf - YouTube

Change Up Your Hairstyle

I sometimes think of my hair as an attached accessory I don’t have to remove. When I get my hair curled, I instantly transform my work outfit. So, whether this means you go from an up-do to letting your hair down, or simply adding some overnight curls, it’s a quick and easy way to change up your everyday look and work outfit. Have you tried the Sleep Stylers Hair Rollers that debuted on Shark Tank a few months ago? Let me know if you have… I’m curious what the verdict is out there!

Own Your Most Trusted Pieces In Multiple Colors

I always get a “you’re crazy” look from people when I say I own something in multiple colors. But it’s my way of reserving brain power when it comes to creating new work outfits! If you found a blouse that fits well and is comfortable, get it in all the colors they make! If you found a pair of shoes that are comfortable and go with your everyday outfit, get it in all the colors they make! Need I say more?

Incorporate A Long-Line Sleeveless Trench Coat

These babies are probably my favorite pieces to own because they are so versatile and always elevate an outfit with a little je-ne-sais-quoi. All my various blog posts featuring long-line trench coats speak to my love for this tried-and-true item of clothing! Get it in a few different colors, and they’re sure to transform your outfit into a new one!

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Yellowcake Shop and I was supplied with the triangle scarf free of cost to review it. All opinion and suggestion are mine!

All photography by Natalie Alvarado @ Stylenfuse 

The post Simple Tricks to Elevate Your Everyday Work Outfit appeared first on Cubicle Chic.

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I hope you’re all having a wonderful Christmas Day! I don’t want to keep you long on this day when you should be giving your family and loved ones your undivided attention… if you want, save this post (bookmark, or if you’re on Bloglovin, you have the option to save it too!) and browse it later! I wanted to share a few outfit options today with you for any upcoming New Year’s Eve Party. Scroll down to see where I got this cute little number from!

Holiday Colors

I love to wear white, red, gold, and other variations of these colors during the holiday time and into the New Year. Maybe it’s my Chinese heritage or maybe they just fully embody the holiday spirit for me… I think white and red is the perfect color combination for a New Year’s Eve party!

My Fail-safe Outfit Choice for All Occasion

One of these days, I’m going to run out of things to say about Eliza J dresses because there is always a perfect Eliza J dress for any occasion.  I wore one for my husband’s company holiday party earlier this month,  I wore it during our wedding rehearsal dinner back in March, and another one for another company holiday party 2 years ago. Need I say more?

Product Details: Marc Bale Watch c/o  The Peach Box

Outfit details: c/o The Peach Box Audrey Swing Pearl Crystal Earrings – Rose Gold

Outfit details: c/o The Peach Box Audrey Swing Pearl Crystal Earrings – Rose Gold

Whatever you wear, make sure to put away your phone when you’re ringing the New Year in, have great conversations, really TALK to your loved ones and not just having superficial conversations. To me, that’s what the holiday season is really about. See you in 2018!!

All photography by Natalie Alvarado @ Stylenfuse

The post New Year’s Eve Party Outfit || Eliza J Fit & Flare Dress appeared first on Cubicle Chic.

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