smart spending

Time is money -- so is patience

What matters most is your ability to be happy and successful in a job, so you don't end up looking for a new gig in six months.

"In these economic times, people can feel a little more desperate, so they may not negotiate what they really need to succeed," says Kolb. You should consider things like staff size, timing flexibility and equipment you may need to do a quality job. Make sure you state your case for those things before saying yes.

You should also exercise patience by learning about the company's situation when negotiating, Kolb says.

"You need to know why they're picking you for the job -- why you, why now?" she says. "Do you have specific skills? Do they have other people who could take the job?" If so, or if you're a new college grad in this shaky economy, you may decide to move more quickly. In those cases, "I'd be inclined to say yes sooner, but I'd also like to talk about what happens when things turn around or if I succeed," says Kolb. "Will there be a salary readjustment or a bonus?"

While economic uncertainty generally puts job seekers in less powerful positions, it's not true for everybody -- not people with deep expertise, she says. And remember, a weak economy usually doesn't last forever.

One situation where patience matters is when there's an "invisible third person" involved, says Mary B. Simon, author of "Negotiate Your Job Offer: A Step-by-Step Guide to a Win-Win Situation." That's when the person you're negotiating with isn't the one with the power to make a final decision.

Going back and forth with an "invisible" decision-maker can spell delays. Recognize that it's just the process and not how that company feels about you.

Of course, patience matters substantially when you need to create a path to the job through significant networking, Simon says. Your network-cultivation fest "might yield a dividend today, but more likely in six months, or 12 months, or 18 months," she says.

The patient networker is the profitable networker.

Patience in investing

With millions of people smarting from investment losses, the old wisdom of buying a good company and holding on has been taking a beating in many quarters.

But Charles Carlson, editor of The DRIP Investor newsletter, which covers dividend reinvestment plans, and author of "The Smart Investor's Survival Guide," says the term "buy and hold" is often misunderstood.

"I've always thought that the term 'buy and hold' is bastardized," he says. "It does not mean never sell. It means you are buying with the intent of being long-term."

It means you have an investment process: You do your research while remembering things can change. Knowing exactly why you purchased will help you sell -- or curb the urge to sell.

"If you do your work on the front end, on the buy side; if you know exactly why you bought a stock, and if the reasons are no longer valid, then you can sell," says Carlson. "Unfortunately, people buy on reasons like stocks are going up or my friend told me about this."

A jumpy, impatient attitude can hurt you with increased trading fees and, potentially, more tax liabilities, Carlson says.

Then there's the huge cost of potentially missing a big winner. "When you look at most portfolios, most people tend to make their money off two to three stocks that have really gone gangbusters over a long period of time," he says.

"It's the 80-20 rule," he says. "Eighty percent of gains can come from 20 percent of holdings. The stocks that will truly make you rich are the ones you hold for a long period of time, and the reasons you have them are still valid."

Carlson advises against reaching drastic conclusions because of a disastrous year. "To rewrite your playbook because of a year where nothing has worked is a huge mistake," he says. "If patience has worked for you in the past, it will work for you in the future."

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