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March 01, 2009

Hmm... what could I do with $2,300?

March 1. Day 244.

I've updated my excel spreadsheet, where I keep track of the financial gains of this project, and here's the latest figure.
Since starting last July, I've saved or gained almost


That's the total of all the goods, services and cash I've either saved or received by asking. Free cookie? $2. A bookstore discount? $50. Free round-trip airfare? $500 or so.

I will let you in on a little secret... that's more than my monthly fellowship stipend check. So by asking, I have effectively given myself a 10 percent raise, secured a month off of work with pay, or set aside enough money for a car down payment.

What else could I do? I quickly checked online and found these options:

--Help pay off Hillary Clinton's campaign debt. (That's how much Obama gave her, fyi.)
--Rent an apartment for a month in LA's Miracle Mile.
--Purchase a 1989 Chevy mini-truck.
--Pepper myself and 9 friends with suede handbags.
--Endure five days of golf for 2 in Costa Rica.
--Sip a lifetime supply of caramel tea from Mariage Freres



If you've been following this project for some time, you've noticed, better than I perhaps, that the focus changes ever so often. Money, adventures, people, maximizing gains, minimizing losses, and so on. Sometimes I get reproaches -- "It's not about money anymore -- why?" or "Why are you so focused on finances?" To be frank, it's not like I get up in the morning and decide, "From now on I will seek Craigslist discounts," or "This week I will only ask about food." More like... my overall focus changes, my daily preoccupations change, and I ask accordingly.

As I approach the finish line, this project will be shifting yet again.

Yes, I'm closing in on the last 100 days of daily asking, which coincides with the end of grad school and the start of my job hunt. Even if I don't finish the dissertation by June (which is very likely, since even if I almost have a whole draft there's a lot left to do: revisions, front and back of the book stuff... proofing, checking... more revisions... ak), I already need to start sending out feelers for jobs. And resumes.

Coincidentally, I've received Ask for It, by the authors of Women Don't Ask, in the mail. This book has concrete strategies for better negotiation. I can't wait to dig in and test out the theories and suggestions -- and post the results here.

So from here on out, I'll probably be asking more about careers, contacts and opportunities, and less about freebies and shopportunities. It's also possible that on the contrary, I'll be so stressed and busy with finishing this dissertation that the only thing I'll ask for is a crazy break from it all. Free facial? Discounted vacation to Paris? Could I ride your llama?

The only way to find out is to stay tuned... ;)

As for what I asked today: I am hereby giving myself a break. One day out of 365. I am not asking. I'm not negotiating. I'm taking this day to enjoy where I've arrived, and figure out where I'm going. Hope you'll join me!

La Roxy
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