Sound career and financial advice is hard to come by. But as we’ve touched upon here at JobTalk, seeing a measure of success in one is tied very closely to the other. So when you find advice that provides valuable guidance, the resource becomes golden. And sometimes that valuable guidance might not go the way of conventional wisdom.
Recently, I had the chance to meet blogger and New York Times-bestselling author Ramit Sethi. I’ve been following Ramit’s blog since 2007, so it was a thrill to meet him and many other diehard-loyal, I’ll-try-anything-you-suggest readers at a few meetups that he organized for us in NYC. And yes, there are also skeptics, people who read his blog but aren’t quite sold on his concepts, who show up to the event. Consider the name of Ramit’s blog and book: I will teach you to be rich.
Ramit’s advice is as direct (and at times snarky) as that title would suggest. His blog has evolved from one mainly giving financial tips to one that covers everything from money automation to building a freelance business to talking about finances with a partner.
But is his advice any good? That’s what people want to know when I tell them that I value his blog so much that I wanted to meet him and his readers in person. If you’re looking for easy fix-it tips, Ramit’s blog is NOT for you. This guy definitely gives unconventional advice, and here are some of the most interesting and helpful things I’ve learned:
Negotiation isn’t just for flea market haggling. Career-wise, your starting salary at a new job is the benchmark for all future raises, and it’s something you should always negotiate. And as a whole, women continue to struggle with asking for raises. Ramit takes it a step further because instead of just advocating job-related negotiating, he has tips on negotiating bank rates, bills, and any consumer debt. I’ve taken this advice to heart and begun to haggle for anything within reason – I even attempted to negotiate down my rent when I moved to New York! (I was not successful.) The worst that can happen is that someone says no, and you’ve got that much more arsenal to draw upon for the big guns.
Rethink Purchasing a House: It’s not necessarily a “good investment”
If the housing bubble has taught us anything, it’s that fortunes staked on a national market can turn instantly. But even if you’re in the financial position to wait out the number of years necessary to see a return on your investment, are you REALLY certain about where you’re putting down your roots, or that you don’t want to make a big career change down the road? As someone in my late twenties, I’ve almost gone down the home-buying route several times, and I’m so relieved that I didn’t. There’s no way I could have moved to New York with a mortgage obligation, and I wouldn’t have wanted the stress of selling or finding renters.
Decide to Earning More Rather than Cutting Costs
I’m a WHIZ at cutting down costs if I have to, but there’s only so much room to do so. Ramit loves to tear down the famous “give up your daily latte”-type advice. It makes a lot more sense to focus on things that can affect our finances exponentially, like getting a raise or finding side income, than to sacrifice something you enjoy every single day. He calls this focusing on “Big Wins.” I’ve definitely taken this advice to heart, and penny-pinching is no longer a long-term strategy.
Ugh, networking. While I still cringe at the very word, I no longer think of it as walking into a crowded venue with a huge stack of business cards and an elevator pitch at the ready. Instead, I think about getting to know interesting people, ones who may be employed in a completely unrelated field, and building relationships over time. I may or may not benefit career-wise from some connections I make. Thinking of it as a “natural” endeavor has been a simple shift that has changed how I approach “networking” events such as the blog meetups I attended. Networking does not have to feel like the sleazy, throw-business-cards-at-everyone-you-meet variety. As he says, “Top performers build their network BEFORE they need it.”
Have you read Ramit Sethi’s blog? What are some of the best nonconventional tips that have helped you? Please share!