Tag Archives: workplace

Ballin’ on a Budget–Ditch the Coffee Shop Habit

Today, I’d like to continue a new series on the blog! One that highlights easy strategies for BALLIN’ ON A BUDGET. Each month, I’m going to propose something for all of us to ditch in order to free up some line items on our budgets with values that can go to more practical expenditures like paying down on debt and saving for special occasions. (You can catch up on last month’s suggestions HERE.) Whether you’re actively pinching pennies or simply want to re-direct some of those pennies to better serve you, this series is for you! So, let’s get started…

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Listen, I’ve been there. You’re on your way to work and swing by Starbucks for a quick jolt of caffeine. The afternoon doldrums sink in so you scamper out to the street and into the warm glow of the closest Dunkin’ Donuts. A major deadline is looming and rather than sit in your house for one. more. second. you decide to save your sanity, pack up your laptop and head to your favorite independent cafe.

But all those iced coffees and caramel macchiatos can add up. Before you know it you’re having more conversations with your barista than  your own mother. So, the next elimination you can make in your journey towards getting financially fit is to ditch the coffee shop habit. I am by no means proposing cutting coffee (or caffeine. or even your super specific bougie drink of choice). I myself LOVE coffee…and frankly don’t want to live in a world without it. But I WOULD encourage you to have a quick perusal of your bank accounts to see how much of your hard-earned cash you’re parting with at coffee shops. Often just for the sake of convenience or a need to break up your day or free wi-fi.

Here are four easy steps you can take over the next four weeks to help you kick this habit to the curb…

Week 1. Invest in some equipment. 

Now I know it feels counter-intuitive to SPEND money when you’re trying to stay on the money saving path. But trust me on this one. I once went a whole year without owning a coffee pot. I convinced myself that I didn’t have the money for one and that my office brewed up a big pot every morning anyways. Unfortunately my trade-off didn’t account for those mornings I didn’t go in until later, days when our secretary was sick (and the coffee equipment stayed locked up in her office), and…well….THE WEEKENDS. *slaps forehead* Suffice it to say I ended up going out for coffee way more than I anticipated. If you want to start saving, take this week to go purchase some coffee shop equipment. If you don’t already have one, buy a coffee maker. If you always find yourself picking up coffee on the go because you’re running late in the morning, buy a coffee maker you can set the night before. More of an espresso drinker? You can get an espresso maker for cheaper than you might think. If you’re more tempted by tea at coffee shops, pick yourself up an electric kettle. Any of the above can be purchased to live in your office or break room at work if that’s more your speed and your work doesn’t supply them. Looking for some convenience factor? Order your favorite coffee through Amazon and subscribe to have it sent monthly. Basically, there’s tons of stuff out there to help you re-create coffee shop faves. Need a milk frother, an espresso stovetop version, or a pourover? Invest now and save money later.

Week 2. Learn to barista with the best of ’em. 

This is the week for recipe and how-to researching. My favorite!!! Hop on Pinterest, do a little Googling, and ask all your former-barista besties how to make a great cup of joe. My coffee shop guilty pleasure is definitely iced coffee. Are you the same? Learn how to whip up enough for the whole week. I also love caramel frapuccinos, iced caramel macchiatos, vanilla iced lattes,  and my other all time favorite behind plain ol’ iced coffee….dirty chai lattes. Whatever you fancy, you can bet your bottom dollar someone on the internet has a tutorial about how to make it.

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Week 3. Schedule breaks throughout your day and STICK TO THEM. 

One big reason folks fall into the coffee shop habit is because it’s a great excuse to stop working, stretch your legs, and take a bit of a break. Suddenly you realize you’ve been plowing away at some task for the past 5 hours and the afternoon slump hits HARD. For me, this can be curbed by scheduling small breaks throughout my day. This week, keep notes on when the coffee shop urge arises. This is probably a pretty clear indicator of one such time you need to schedule a break. And I don’t mean an “open a new tab and scroll through Twitter” break, I mean a complete change of scenery break. They might pop up at different times every day but are so important for your self-care and productivity…and they won’t cost you! I try to make time for at least 2 during my work day (not counting lunch).

Example of a work break I love: Take a walk around the block. Come back inside and put an electric kettle on to boil. Munch on a few almonds while waiting for the water to boil. Reply to a text or two. Pour tea. Do some neck and upper back stretches while it steeps. Return to desk.

Figure out what works for you and REPEAT.

Week 4. Organize a coffee club!

Maybe your coffee shop visits are more about being social! I think we can address that as well. If you meet up with friends for chats at coffee shops, perhaps you can take turns meeting at each other’s homes instead. You could try to recreate new drinks each time! Perhaps you can set up a workplace coffee club and alternate who brings and brews the coffee. Maybe once the pot is ready you can dole out warm cups and all head outside for a quick breather.

Or you can schedule and budget for special trips to the coffee shop with your crew once a month. In moderation, your coffee shop visits aren’t a habit. They’re a celebration!

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Bonus Tip: When people ask for hints about what to get you for Christmas or birthdays, let them know you love coffee (or tea)! Asking for consumables you actually love and will use is a great way to save money.

Do you have your own tips or resources for kicking the coffee shop habit? Is this an area of your “spending diet” that you struggle with? Do you think following these weekly steps could help? Let’s chat in the comments below!

And tune in next month when we tackle BARE CUPBOARDS AND EMPTY REFRIGERATORS!

P.S. Buying coffee? Make it Fair Trade!



5 Tips for Writing Killer Emails

5 tips for writing killer emails

There’s a fair few things I’ve learned over the years out in the rough real world. Nobody seems to have a working knowledge of basic traffic laws the moment they have a license in hand. After a certain age, going without specific foods can be considered a hobby. And, generally speaking, people are really bad at writing emails. Like, painfully bad. Over the years, I’ve witnessed some doozies. From over zealous “Reply All” users to simple task management turning into a tome rivaling Moby Dick. Not to mention the spelling errors, grammatical nightmares, and misinformation. Thinking this would be a fairly easy way to stand out at any job, I took it upon myself a few years back to take email writing seriously. Here’s the method to my madness…

1. Make the subject line work for the reader. I would wager a guess that most email recipients treat their inboxes pretty similarly. After receiving an email you either deal with it’s contents immediately OR you read/skim and let it hang out in your inbox until the stars align and you feel like responding and/or performing the tasks requested therein. I would say most of us treat our incoming messages as a sort of “To Do” list. So, keep this in mind when typing that dreaded subject line. If an email titled Hey there is hanging out in your boss’ inbox, chances are every time they glance over the days messages they won’t associate a response or action with this item. However, a message called Mockups needed for next step will alert them to what you are after AND that it’s time sensitive.

These more specific subject lines will also come in handy if the reader sorts their messages into folders after responding/completing. They will be super easy to locate after the fact!

There may be instances where you need to send a cold email. Subject lines are still important for these first impression correspondences! Here are a few possibilities I’ve found successful…

a. Question concerning [name of their company/business/blog/etc]

b. Trying to connect

c. Quick request

d. Introduction: [Your Name and Company]

2. Keep the message organized, concise, and free from errors. One of the first things we learn about writing is that any good piece should have a beginning, middle, and end. So, why does this go out the window when we log in to Gmail? There are certainly instances where it’s appropriate to shoot off a quick sentence but the majority of the time, your emails should consist of three parts…

BeginningThis is where you provide a greeting and offer some pleasantries. I know you may think this step is a waste of your time but offering a quick “It was so good to see you at the softball game last weekend,” is a great reminder to your reader that you’re a human and not just an annoying pop-up that’s going to add a bullet to their “To do” list. We’re way more likely to extend favors gladly to a friendly, ACTUAL person. This is also where you can set up the nature of your email and provide some context.

MiddleThe real point to your message comes here. Make sure, no matter the nature, that you’re providing your recipient with all the information they are going to need to respond, carry out a task, or follow through with a favor. If the message is just a decision provide ample reasoning, if it’s informational provide plenty of context.

End Here’s where you can clarify next steps and any action items. Provide any important dates or deadlines. Finish everything off with a bit of thanks and, of course, a signature.

Now, don’t get it twisted. Just because your email has three parts doesn’t mean it needs to be super long. As with subject lines, put yourself in the reader’s shoes. Have you ever opened a particularly lengthy email and felt immediately annoyed, even before you started reading? Don’t be that guy. Just get to the point. And then, before you hit send, for the love of GOD read what you’ve written. It will only take a few seconds and you’ll save yourself the embarrassment of any errors.

3. Be conspicuous. Beating around the bush is annoying. Don’t leave it to the person opening up your email to figure out what it is you want or why you need their help. If you’re sending a cold email because you want to pick the brain’s of someone successful in your dream field, tell them why you admire them! Don’t be shy with flattery. They won’t know why the meeting is important to you unless you tell them!! If you’re sending a request for a favor or asking for anything at ALL….just come right out and ask for it. Of course there are times when asking for someone’s help (or money or expertise) can be nerve wracking. But the VERY worst that can happen is they’ll say no. (And then you can move on. And ask the next person.)

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4. Include a clear timeline. Dates, times, deadlines, and time-frames are important pieces of info. Your hope is that they’ll get added to the reader’s diary, planner or Google calendar. Double check for accuracy and set them apart where need be. Safeguard yourself against email skimmers and BOLD if you feel it necessary. There’s no shame in the bold game, my friends. We’re visual people. And it’s definitely no more obnoxious than your co-worker who includes smiley emojis after every sentence.

5. Know when to respond. Finally, for the sanity of all you work with, think twice before responding. If you find yourself in the midst of a mass email which turns into an email THREAD, ask yourself who needs to actually READ your response. Let’s turn to an example. If you, and your entire company, receive an email from a co-worker about an upcoming meeting, and you want to respond–

“Thanks for organizing this meeting!”

Only the original sender needs to read that message. If you want to respond–

“I’ll be administering a short survey at this meeting so please come prepared to answer a few questions on staff communication practices.”

Go ahead…you can hit REPLY ALL! BUT if you want to write the following to your beloved work bestie–

“These meetings are the literal worst!!!! What a waste of time!!!! I HATE THIS JOB!”

You better TRIPLE check that “Send To” box.

Now, enjoy this hilarious video about what our workplace emails would look like if they were, in fact, real life. Let’s try to do better, shall we?

What tips do YOU have for professional emails? What irks you the most? Would you be more likely to respond to or help a person who followed the guidelines above? Let me know in the comments below!