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Old 09-01-2007, 01:33 AM   #21
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Alex - There are many perks with working for my firm (as well as many of the clients). We have no telephone bills as Blackberry's are supplied and paid for (I don't think anyone has a landline); internet service at home is expensible and aircards are provided with our laptops. We have kitchens stacked with food and snacks (oatmeal, cereal, milk, fruit, granola bars, chips, etc.), and fridges are stacked with pop/soda, juices, etc., as well as coffee machines, tea bags, etc. Lunch and dinner is provided by the firm (ordered via Internet and delivered). When you work late (i.e., later than usual), than the cab ride is expensed. On weekends, we can drive in to work and expense the parking, and food and drinks are covered. We also have mass transit discounts in place where it's tax deductable (I think this is more of a standard corporate perk).Basically, I don't pay for food and drinks.

Also, most of us leave the office with a few Gatorades/Vitamin Waters from the fridge and a couple of snacks to hold us over late at night or for the future. Rent and utlities are the only expenses that I have and I keep those to a minimum by living out in the burbs (whereas others splurge on cars, clothes, high cost of living rent, etc.). I have no credit card debt, nor student loan debt, and my car is paid off. I have liability as my insurance on an older car. I do have a gym membership, but that is low.

I do go out every now and then, but I train (run, bike, swim, lift) and study (CFA & soon to be GMAT) so I don't have much time because I do value some shut-eye. My expenses are extremely low.

cho oyu - The training has worked to my favor, especially over this past summer. When in the office, I usually try to run from the loop to a Metra station that's further from the center of the city (about 7 miles) when going home (depends on how late I'm in the office though). I train with my boss and a couple of others who are marathoners/triathletes in the office, so they do vouch for me to those who don't work-out regulalry.

I do eat & drink healthy (solely water and green tea - rarely pop/soda or alcohol; food I try to keep healthy as well).

Goonie - Great post. My girlfriend from high school was far different from my girlfriend in college. My college girlfriend and I broke up after graduation (neither here, nor there), and I've dated, but haven't found the right person yet (it's tougher with less time to do so, and less opportunity with being removed from a school setting).

I too was like you; I overlooked major compatibility items (finances, religion, etc.) when I was younger - it simply didn't 'matter' when you are younger. If you found each other attractive and it worked, then that's all that mattered. Maybe more importantly, you don't really know who are truly are, or haven't accepted it yet. What I looked for changed as I matured (i.e., looks mattered more when I was younger). As I got older, I now look for the key compatibility factors in someone and it's tougher to find than you'd expect. I don't need someone to be like me with respect to finances, but I don't want a big spender. I find someone who's not a big spender but maybe they are already commited, or it's another key compatibility item which is off, etc.

I'm not worried by any means; I believe that my time will come, but it just hasn't happened yet.

citrine - Out do each other...that's what most of it seems to me. I am comfortable in my own skin. I'm not perfect, my interests don't always gel with others, my choice of music may vary, etc., but I am okay with me.

The culture at my firm can be described as more of a clique, and honestly, I got over that during high school. I was friends with each of the 'groups' from the jocks to the nerds to the skaters. I don't like being lumped into a category as I'm more of an individual and 'friends' with everyone. I'm good friends with security and the cleaning crew at my building (they are people too, and I don't think that I'm better than them), but I've been looked at funny by colleagues because I speak with them.

The clique part is tough; you are either in or your out. It's tougher to navigate as a 'hey, we're cool and we're friends, but I'm going to go and do this now...' I think it is doable, but I need to be more political with it, meaning, devote some more social time to them, but I don't think I would need to do it all the time.

Phew! You guys are great. So many responses in such a small period of time. I feel great (eventhough I just made it home from work), and it was the pick-me up that I needed.

Above all, it seems that I shouldn't worry about it, but, I should invest a little more time to socializing with them. This will be a career and 'office happiness' investment. I'll admit that I'm not too eager to do it though, but it would be beneficial for the long run.
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Old 09-01-2007, 01:46 AM   #22
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All -

You guys are wonderful! Extremely refreshing to see so many responses so quickly. It's nice how a 'newbie' doesn't just get tossed around here; I'll try to respond back to each of you as there have been so many good comments and questions...

bright eyed - I was describing the culture as a whole, apologies if I seem to have caused any confusion. The social aspect IS very much a part of the high life. I'm sure there are many professions like this, but the world of high finance is extremely tight knit.

That being said, I have met many cool people. Oddly, most are all older. I think much of this might be a 'young' thing. I'm not sure how old you are, but what were you doing in your early and mid 20s? What are most people in there early to mid 20s doing?

P.S. I don't want to just hook up anymore (believe it or not). I started hooking up when I was gosh, who knows, middle school probably? I've far too many girls by the time I hit 25. I've been looking for Mrs. Right since then. This isn't about looks or the whole package; it's tough to find the right person when the net is cast across a very wide range (i.e., major city) and time constraints apply.

...
Yes, spending time w/ the older folks will definitely benefit you in many ways - you'll learn what you want/ need etc...however, shutting out the youngsters isn't good so you should at least keep a friendly toe in that pond...lest people think you're just sucking up to the management?

Aaaaw, you know any boy who talks about looking for ms. right gets bonus points...good luck to you! hee hee hee

i've always worked in the non-profit world so i had probably the opposite problem, we were scraping by on 20k/year, and all wearing clothes from the 2nd hand store... which worked for a while, until you got too far away from graduation...
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Old 09-01-2007, 02:12 AM   #23
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Yes, spending time w/ the older folks will definitely benefit you in many ways - you'll learn what you want/ need etc...however, shutting out the youngsters isn't good so you should at least keep a friendly toe in that pond...lest people think you're just sucking up to the management?

Aaaaw, you know any boy who talks about looking for ms. right gets bonus points...good luck to you! hee hee hee

i've always worked in the non-profit world so i had probably the opposite problem, we were scraping by on 20k/year, and all wearing clothes from the 2nd hand store... which worked for a while, until you got too far away from graduation...
Since high school I looked up to my 'elders.' Not my parents specifically (still did), but I learned that I benefited from having mentors in my life. Afterall, you guys have aleady been there, done that, and lived through it. So much knowledge and wisdom gets passed down, and I had go to people for school advice, work advice, life advice, etc.

With that though, I have found it slightly tougher to mix with peers, but you're right - I don't want to isolate myself from them. It's odd as I relate better with those that are older now. Maybe it's a maturity thing? I'm not sure...

Now you're making me blush with the ms. right comments. Honestly though, I've done enough of the hooking up and want to find the right person, date for a while, and eventually marry. I'm sure it will happen in time. Thanks for the comment.

I can see the distinction with non-profit. Before this job, my jobs were plain old jobs while in high school and college - a bagger, a stock boy, worked at a hospital for a bit, worked retail, and tutored students. These were decent jobs, but the pay was 'average.' I got lucky with this job, but I'm not used to making this kind of money, so I'm doing the wise thing which is save and invest. I don't know where I'll be at in a year, or 5 years, or 10, so creating a cushion and beginning to build a nest won't hurt right?
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Old 09-01-2007, 08:58 AM   #24
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Let me guess ! You work in New York City ! Outside of certain urban areas this would never be a problem . Just do your job .Show up to socialize occasionally and ignore the pressure to spend .
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Old 09-01-2007, 09:49 PM   #25
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Dunno what to tell you, Pavo. I work in the same world, but in a very small shop, and I have little client contact. The partners at work are worth mega-bucks, but they don't get into competitive spending games after seeing enough market crashes where everything can go away very quickly. Nobody seems to make too big a deal of my less than spendy car, home, etc.

I think that basically you just need to start marching to the beat of your own drummer and don't let the peer pressure get to you. You will be in your current job for, what?, another couple of years before the next gig or business school. Don't worry too much about what transient people in your life think of you.
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Old 09-01-2007, 10:22 PM   #26
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Girl that are high maintenance (not sure what my excuse is LOL) aren't that hard to find, the board has a bunch of them.
Do you mean this ER board? To me we have the absolute most down to earth females I have ever heard of right here on this board- unless they are all lying which I doubt.

Ha
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Old 09-01-2007, 10:28 PM   #27
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What I looked for changed as I matured.
Me too! Before I turned 65 I only liked those nice big rounded booties, but now I also like the skinny Asian look. Though I think big and rounded is still ahead by a nose.

Ha
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Old 09-02-2007, 04:42 PM   #28
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Do you mean this ER board? To me we have the absolute most down to earth females I have ever heard of right here on this board- unless they are all lying which I doubt.

Ha
Does that include the 16Yo chick in Missoula known as Uncle Mick?
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Old 09-02-2007, 05:02 PM   #29
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Pavo, you're my new hero! By sharing your philosophy and spending habits, DH and I were able to retire at 52 with no pensions and after never making more than a below average salary. Stick to your guns! Maybe socialize just a little, but don't make it a regular habit. So what if you get known as the office eccentric!
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Old 09-02-2007, 05:33 PM   #30
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Our NYC HQ office is like that, which is why I never want to work there. Thanks for reminding me

Our local office is nice, low key and I have a boss who wants to retire early too.
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Old 09-02-2007, 05:51 PM   #31
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Hi -

You guys are a riot on here

Do you hold some sort of annual ER Forums board convention where I can stop by for some BBQ and beer as we trade stories?

brewer12345 - Transience...good point. Besides FIRE, there is another light at the end of the tunnel, and that is my next step in life, whatever that may be. The few good friends that I have from work I will keep in contact with. I guess it's similar to high school and college. I had many friends from both, but when submitting my high school reunion info. prior to graduation, my Dean of Students refused to accept it. She told me, "Pavo, you don't want to know what happens to people after high school." Naive and baffled, I asked why, to which she replied "you will keep contact with the people who mean something to you, and the rest..."

I'm still young so I have a lot more to learn than someone who is older than me.

I think it is much simpler with smaller shops. I used to travel quite a bit to Nebraska and Michigan to visit certain shops. Besides a couple of shops in suburban Detroit, they were very low key, and the people were very easy to work with. They didn't care what kind of suit I was wearing as long as I looked professional. I think with the larger shops it matters - people size you up, and sadly, how successful or important you are is determined by how well you dress, carry yourself, etc. How well you mingle with the higher ups can determine placement and promotions, etc. I think this happens everywhere, but when the stakes are a little higher, it just stinks to play this game.

tangomonster - Thanks for the kind words, and congrats to you and DH (I don't know what 'DH' stands for...designated husband?) I think it's too late to call me an eccentric, but I will stick with my guns. As brewer mentioned, transience...

haha - May you find the love of your life in your young age of 65, and I hope you guys live happily ever after, be she a skinny asian or big and rounded. Perhaps you'll find both in the same person...

P.S. I highly doubt that this forum has any high maintenance women. I'm not taking about emotions, or wanting to spend time together, or anything along those lines. I'm referring to women who are beyond girly girls: 1-2 hours for make-up before going out (and not just out on the town - sometimes just to the grocery store), designer labels or bust, nice ride, nice this, nice that, etc. They are the antithesis of down to earth.
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Old 09-03-2007, 04:33 PM   #32
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Hi -

I think with the larger shops it matters - people size you up, and sadly, how successful or important you are is determined by how well you dress, carry yourself, etc. How well you mingle with the higher ups can determine placement and promotions, etc. I think this happens everywhere, but when the stakes are a little higher, it just stinks to play this game.
I've seen people in the industry look at each other's watches to size the other person up. Its like dogs sniffing each other's butts. Luckil, we have our front man in the form of the head partner, and the rest of us are bus casual. Until they instituted a dress code this year, I routinely showed up in jeans, a three day beard, t shirt and sneakers unless we had someone coming in.
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Old 09-03-2007, 05:30 PM   #33
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The business attire at our workplace is very causal. However, the dress code is very formal in our world headquarters which is only 5 miles away. Our department is planning to move into the world headquarters within two years. I am not looking forward for such a move.
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Old 09-03-2007, 06:11 PM   #34
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How is it possible to save over 80% of gross?

Unless you make $19k and put $15.5k in 401k (or have insane Co. match), I'm not sure how to do this while still paying income taxes.
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Old 09-04-2007, 08:55 AM   #35
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I've seen people in the industry look at each other's watches to size the other person up. Its like dogs sniffing each other's butts.
brewer12345 - I know exactly what you mean. People size up everything - your entire outfit, consisting of shoes, slacks, shirts, ties, suits, watches, haircut, etc. I had my old manager, who is a male, give me the eye scan a number of times when I walked in, going from head to toe and then back to head. I felt like he was checking me out, but he was just making sure () that I looked okay.

Some people are lax with it all, but many of them are too concerned with stuff which doesn't matter in my opinion. In a way, it is a relief when I leave work on some days as I get to mix in with the rest of society and feel at ease - I can care less if someone on the street cares about my clothes or my watch, but it's tougher to not care when there are people at work doing this.

Spanky - Interesting. My office is a remote, but our headquarters are more lax than most of our remote offices. The regional managers/lead VPs tend to run them as if they are their own company. Our numbers are always great, so HQ leaves us alone. When they run them as their own company, well, sometimes they have unwritten rules in place or instill their own culture. A number of people have gone to HR to complain in the past about this. I think in most cases that HQ is tougher than a remote, but ours is different due to the aforementioned items. Best of luck to you when the move takes place.

kjpliny - Hmmm, you are correct that I must be off (I shot out an estimated number in my original post). I don't have my spreadsheet file (my baby) with me at the moment, but I will post later on to clarify.
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Old 09-04-2007, 05:29 PM   #36
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Pavo, I can relate to your comments on attending baseball games with the gang from work; I remember commenting to a counter-culture-type-co-worker that it was the fifth inning and I hadn't seen a complete play yet-- he clued me in that that is the way it's supposed to be. Many people I’ve worked with over the years complain about this stuff; once after a ferry boat ride with the work group, my office mate said, I’d really like to do that with friends rather than co-workers. Some people have one club soda with co-workers before heading off to volunteer activities like maybe taking your "little brother" from the big brother/little brother program to a ball game.
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Old 09-15-2007, 04:14 PM   #37
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Pavo,

I know I'm late this thread, but felt compelled to post anyhow. I've spent over 20 years in precisely the same type of "high finance" work culture you described. And like yourself, I have not entirely subscribed to the over-the-top drinking, golfing, socializing, conspicuous consumption that seems to go hand-in-hand with the career. Of course, my wife, who is a genuine, died in the wool LBYMer would probably disagree with the part about me not engaging in over the top behavior. But, I often have had to explain to her that what she sees me doing is the tip of the iceberg compared to my peers.

At any rate, coming from a poverty background in many ways made me something of a cultural outsider. I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth, didn't have parents who could pay for college and then buy me an apt in Manhattan for a graduation gift. I didn't grow up learning to play golf and tennis at country clubs and skiing at my parents Aspen condo. Anyhow, I know you get the picture. For the uninitiated, many of the people who get into these high-flying jobs come from extraordinarily priviledged backgrounds already. Gucci, Prada, Bergdorf's, etc., they grew up on that stuff the way I grew up on grits and catfish for dinner. Sure, I got exposed to it as the 1st person in my family to ever go to an Ivy League college. But, when it came down to the work social thing, the differences seemed even more pronounced.

At any rate, I dealt with it through a combo of being my own person on the inside, while putting some effort into assimilating. I adopted a strategy of image management. This is not to say that I would suggest any fundamental personal changes, nor would I suggest trying to be somebody you're not. But, I am saying that you have to acknowledge that the workplace is a political jungle and that no man is an island. Networking among your peers is going to be a key success factor. You don't have to pretend to be like them in order to do some socializing outside the workplace. Just be careful about how you pick the time and place to interact. Also, play down the things that you know they just won't understand and play up the things they can grasp. Don't lie, just only reveal those things that put you in the best light. Also don't participate in things that highlight the differences. For example, I avoid golf like the plague, but I'm more than happy to take money off my "friends" in a game of billiards.

People, especially cliqish people, need to feel like they understand you, otherwise they fear and loath you. You don't want to be the office "geek". You need to connect with them enough for them to at least see you as a neutral (like Switzerland) in their social heirarchy. And I'm guessing the quality of your work makes you a favorate of the higher ups, which means your peers will eventually come to respect you as at least someone they shouldn't offend and might actually want to include in their playtime.

All of this is going to sound absolutely disgusting to a lot of "what you see is what you get types" - people who have vowed to never play the game regardless of the cost. But, let's face reality here: Unless you are an indispenible genius at what you do, mega-corp, high finance career success is going to be a lot about how you play the game. Without acknowledging this, you will not achieve your financial potential. That said, in the long run, your willingness to go against the herd, will probably serve you well down the road, so long as you can manage the social/networking aspects of your career to at least minimize the adverse issues.

One last thing. As to your objectives to FIRE. I'm sure you'll reach them. But, don't ever let on that this is your real objective. Sure, people constantly talk about the "number". But, that's just water cooler blather. On the Street, if you're not committed for life, you're nobody.
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Old 09-15-2007, 05:08 PM   #38
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As someone who lives in Chicago, in your general age group, and has spent time with many of these people I can understand the frustration. Do you like sailing at all? A great way to spend some time without blowing money but still staying in that general high-flying group is to get out on the water and sail. The season is pretty much ending for this year, but in Chicago it is easy to volunteer as crew to race sailboats. Wed night beer-cans, racing fleets on the weekends, etc. If you don't own a boat, it's a fairly cheap way to spend time in an environment that swims in money but doesn't require you to lay out much if any. The parties are great, but you won't be looked down upon for not drinking much, and depending on which harbor you sail out of, it is a nice short run from downtown. It obviously depends on whether you enjoy it at all, but it may be a good solution to spending time with the sort of people that your business requires you to be around without compromising your future. If people give you crap about being cheap tell them that you are saving because you are considering buying a boat. Everyone on the water will respect that.
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Old 09-16-2007, 04:06 PM   #39
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kjpliny - A 'fatal' error on my part. I save over 80% of net, not gross. Good catch, and thank you for correcting me. No, I don't have an insane company match, in fact, ours is on the lower end of the 'average' spectrum.

Gekko - Great post. In many ways I am similar to you. I came from a blue collar background, and I was the first in the family to go to college. My parents enriched my life as a child as best they could, but golf, tennis, and french lessons were not a part of it. 'Summering' as a family was about going to an amusement park or camping.

I have some brains, and I have the work ethic . I'm known as 'the machine' in the office for my work. I'm not a superstar, but I have created some good inputs on models and such. I am appreciated by my boss, as well as others, but, I am dispensible if I don't play the game. Financial services is very...odd. You can easily be let go of simply because someone doesn't like you. They'll find a way to make the termination look appropriate.

Image management is a great way to put it. That's really what much of it is about. I've been getting better at it, but it's tough. I'm great with the older folks, but it's tough among my peer group. And I really like this:

Quote:
On the Street, if you're not committed for life, you're nobody.
These people breath, drink, eat, play, sleep, and urinate by this motto.

Maybe I'm just in the wrong place of work? I enjoy the responsibilities and the work that I do, I enjoy the pay, but I don't enjoy many of the unwritten rules that come with it. Transience...

seabourne - Thanks for your input. We have a couple of guys who sail here, and one who knows quite a few guys down at the yacht club. They've invited me out a few times, but I have yet to take them up on their offer. I have gotten involved in some ways such as running with some co-workers and cycling, but maybe next summer I'll try out the sailing bit.
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