- I’m Catholic and go to church regularly.
- Because of a Pi contest in high school (and extra credit), I can still recite Pi to the 50th decimal.
- Cooking to me means nuking a Lean Cuisine.
- I’ve traveled to 27 states and 32 countries.
- I’m obsessed with In-n-Out cheeseburgers animal style.
- I had my mom measure me recently and I am 4’11” which means I’ve grown! For most of my life, I was 4’10”.
- I’m allergic to eggplant, chlorine, chemical sunscreen, and extended exposure to the sun.
- Ever since I got pregnant, I have not worn thong underwear. I love me some granny panties!
- I don’t wear makeup.
- I don’t exercise.
- My idea of relaxation is sitting in the steam room.
- I have been blogging since 2005.
- I am the product of Philippine immigrants.
- If I could meet anyone in the world, I would want to meet Pope Francis or Hillary Clinton.
- I’m an above average singer and dancer.
- I have a fear of open water because of two incidents when I almost drowned.
- Because I used to play the piano growing up, to this day, I cut my nails as short as possible.
- If I could go anywhere in the world I have not been, I would pick Greece.
- If I could go anywhere in the world that I have already been, I would pick the Galapagos.
- I have lived in the San Francisco Bay Area and Chicago. Go Cubs!
- My first name is Maria Catherine.
- I had a nose ring in college which resulted in my mom not speaking to me for a while.
- I have horrible hand-eye coordination.
- I was voted most likely to succeed in high school.
- I’m a fierce Scrabble competitor.
OMG my work life is nutzo. I promised myself I’d take a vacation day to recuperate, yet I don’t even have time to go to the bathroom. Even then, I’m reading and responding to emails while I’m on the potty. Can mama get a sticker?
Insanity. Anything non-work-related, I shrug and say, “Sorry I can’t deal right now.”
When Franco sees me, he waves good-bye and says, “Mama go work.”
Onto the blog. Let’s talk about money!
Here’s how I maximize my finances.
I do all the sensible things:
- Pay off our credit cards in full.
- Max out our 401ks.
- Ensure we’re properly insured.
- Refinance whenever possible and if it makes sense.
Recently I moved our savings into the Capital One 360 Money Market paying 1% for balances above $10k, and 0.60% for balances below $10k. You won’t find that rate anywhere. You’re welcome.
My go-to card is the Citi Double Cash Card. No annual fee. You get 2% cash back for everything that you can put on the card and I put everything I possibly can on it. If I could put my mortgage on this card, I would!
I also do the bulk of our shopping on Amazon, which calls for the Amazon Store Prime Card offering 5% cash back on purchases.
What am I missing? Do you have any slam-dunk financial advice?
How do you stay informed with news and current events?
Here’s what I do not use
- TV: I am not a TV person. In fact, I despise TV. It’s my personal opinion, but I think TV makes people unproductive and less creative.
- Radio: I’m not a radio person either. Often times casual carpool cars will play NPR which I respect. I prefer news over music. Music is so personal and it’s strange starting your day by listening to someone’s selection of hip hop or country or gospel.
- Social media: Contrary to my use and following, I do not use social media to stay current.
Here’s what I do use
- Yahoo News Digest: Download this award-winning app and design winner. With a morning and evening edition, the app provides headlines on topics covering the U.S., world, politics, health, sports, technology, entertainment, etc. Then you can click on the headline to drill down for further background with quotes, photos, a link to wikipedia, and relevant tweets. I start and end my day with this app.
- igHome: This is my homepage and desktop news aggregator which can be customized with news, stock quotes, weather, and People Magazine which is how I get my celebrity trash fix.
- News digests via email. Here are my favorites:
- Need 2 Know: Headlines and only a few sentences at the most. I appreciate the brevity.
- Next Draft: A little more involved with a multitude of links, written in a sarcastic style.
- NYTimes.com: Hands down, the NYTimes is my favorite site for comprehensive news coverage. Hence the daily email. They also have a California Today edition.
- Quartz Daily Brief: Of all the news digests, this one has the best international coverage. They also tend to have interesting random tidbits that I sometimes tweet.
- theSkimm: This one has gained a large following. The style is comedic which I have less of an appreciation for, but a lot of people love it.
How do you get your news? Would love to know if I’m missing anything good out there.
One year into motherhood, I was struggling. I divulged my grievances to a therapist and described how hard it was to be a sleepless mother, to run to catch the bus in the morning, and to work full-time. She responded casually, as if it were the easiest thing in the world, “Why don’t you work from home?” I told her my group didn’t have work-from-home privileges and that she couldn’t possibly understand my work barriers. To which she said, again very matter-of-factly, “Have you even asked?”
Her lack of empathy did not strike me as good therapy (I never saw her again, damn Kaiser therapists), but she did give me the courage to ask about the possibility of telecommuting.
Here are the steps I took to successfully ask to work from home.
Conduct due diligence.
I started with Human Resources who told me that the decision is at the manager’s discretion. I started to interview other group managers to find out what their policy was (almost all allowed flex time). I spoke to mothers with young children at my company and discovered that across the board, they worked from home at least two days a week. Obviously the more senior the hiring managers and mothers, the better your case will be. Through internet research, I found what I considered to be my ace in the hole: the Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance which gives San Francisco employees with care responsibilities the right to request a flexible work arrangement.
List the benefits to your employer.
- Elimination of commute.
- More time to be productive and effective.
- Less distraction from loud or social colleagues.
- Reduction in overhead office expense.
- Reduced tension in the work place due to balance between work and personal time.
- Higher engagement.
- Loyalty and retention.
- Fewer sick days.
Identify and address potential concerns.
I addressed my manager’s concerns before he had a chance to bring them up.
- Busy work periods or when face-time was crucial: Of course I would come into the office.
- Colleagues jumping on the bandwagon and requesting flexible schedules: I could point to the Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance whereas others could not.
- Suggest a trial run as a last resort.
Formulate the plan.
Be specific on what you are requesting (i.e., flexible hours, working from home, working part-time, compressed work week, etc.) and how you will have a seamless transition.
Practice the conversation.
I ran my talking points through two HR representatives and hired a career coach to grill me for an hour as if she were my boss. After which, I felt completely confident and prepared.
Here’s the thing. Proving yourself should be done well in advance of the request. I’m a dedicated, high performer. I’m the first to volunteer to work late at night or on weekends. I respond to all communications quickly, whether it’s during the work day or even on weekends.
Has anyone had to request work from home privileges before? How did it go?
Everyone processes grief differently. Many think about their own mortality: how death forces us to live in the present moment.
For me, when someone dies, I think about the people in my life who are no longer here. I often think about my friend GR when I pass by restaurants or bars we used to go to, or when someone mentions his name. Sometimes I laugh. Sometimes I cry. It’s been over a year, but I realize now that love and friendships endure even death.
I told my mom once (I still feel this way) that I would be ok if death came knocking. I feel very fulfilled with what I have accomplished in my lifetime. I have traveled around the world, had amazing school, work, and life experiences, and cherish all the wonderful people I’ve encountered. Mark Twain said, “The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”
My mom admonished me, asking how I could think that way especially with Franco. Obviously leaving my son behind would be tragic. I want to be there for him. But I’m also religious, so sometimes I think I can protect my loved ones from heaven above. If say Franco was a teenager on the verge of driving after drinking heavily, I’d plead, “God, give that car a flat tire. Now please!”
If I died, I’d want people to take Franco for ice-cream or a glass of wine (depending on his age!) and regale him with stories of how I used to live off Nutter Butters at Burning Man or how I vacuumed in the middle of the night because that’s what I had to do at that very moment or how I’d ask waiters, “I want the most caloric thing on your menu. Which one is that?”
What is enduring?