How To Manage Your Professional Persona

Posted in self help by Steph Auteri on April 30, 2008
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business card.My resume winds through the wilds of publishing, including entries within the newspaper world, academic book publishing, new media, and even a brief stint volunteering at a print mag startup.

Now that I’m a full-time freelancer — more than willing to take on just about anything to make some extra cash — it’s proven even tougher to pin down a professional identity.

My business card reads: “Writer/Editor”

The reality is a bit more complex. At the moment, my responsibilities include proofreading, publicity, review collation, and blogging.

So I introduce myself as a freelancer, crossing my fingers that people don’t ask “a freelance what?”



How to Overcome An Obsession with Consumerism

Posted in self help by Steph Auteri on April 8, 2008
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My financial problems have been up and down ever since a college-age, part-time job working retail at Wet Seal.

While prowling the racks, straightening hangers and refolding skimpy tops, I concentrated less on selling product than on what I could try on once it was time for my lunch break. Things only escalated from there, with the acquisition of my first credit card, a move to Boston that ensured me a mere five-minute walk from Newbury Street, and a retail gig at a handmade crafts store, where I came to appreciate the inherent worth in things that were more expensive because they were art (I’ve been suffering from minor product-snobbery ever since).

I had to be bailed out of insurmountable credit card debt twice and, most recently, I was forced to switch my balance to a 0%-interest credit card. I am extremely ashamed of all of this, especially as my debt no longer affects just me, but it affects my husband as well.

Your Money Or Your Life rocked my world way back in October but, despite my excitement over its content, I was left conflicted: Most of the time, shopping makes me feel sick to my stomach, and overcome with guilt. Other times, though, I can rationalize my purchases. The $300 chair is a good investment, considering my new, freelance, work-from-home life. The decor makes our condo a by-god home, erasing temporarily the fact of its impermanence. The $250 toward 20 hoop classes and a practice hoop, along with an additional $75 for a travelhoop + bag, are all good things, as hooping is my one, regular, non-work extracurricular, and my only form of exercise.

Who could possibly find fault with that?

Perhaps I’m looking for help in all the wrong places. Your Money Or Your Life was an all-or-nothing sort of book, and my most recent read — The Ultimate Cheapskate’s Road Map to True Richesis no different. In fact, author Jeff Yeager admits to finding most of his inspiration in the former book, and the entire volume reads as a stand-up version of the very same lessons. Is there a more moderate financial self-help book I should be reading? Is my overenthusiastic idealism leading me to try things than I’m not prepared to succeed at?

Still, Yeager’s book does include some helpful tips.

Instead of keeping an itemized list of every payment and purchase, try conducting a regular “What Was I Thinking?” audit. This can easily be accomplished by printing out your monthly credit card statement, and highlighting the purchases that you’ve come to regret. A printout rife with highlights can really drive home the recklessness of your spending habits, leading you to be more careful with your spending.

Challenge yourself. Try to buy produce that is only in season. Or only purchase items that are on yourself. Or establish an under-$1-a-pound rule at the supermarket. The creativity you employ in succeeding at these self-imposed challenges may inspire you.

I think it’s about time I did a “What Was I Thinking?” audit myself. I’ve been especially challenged lately by my work with the new products blog I’m writing for, as I’m rarely satisfied with mere window shopping. Perhaps that $50 vase wasn’t entirely necessary.

I’m curious (if you’ve gotten this far): What areas of spending do you find most difficult to resist?

buzzdash poll.