I’ll Tell You All About It When I See You Again: An Open Letter

This week, I’m getting a bit more personal on Generation YRA. Not that I want to make anyone feel incredibly uncomfortable (please, the only squirming I want you to do in your seat is if you’re trying a new dance move) – I just want to bring to light two generally taboo spoken of topics in society:

finances & grief. 

Before you grimace & choose to type in a new hyperlink into your browser to escape the discomfort, I encourage you to read on. You see, blogging is a journey that allows people to grow – from the writers, to the viewers. Most of the time when you read a blog, you’re reading something that resembles a living, breathing & potentially bleeding heart that someone had the courage to project to the internet (a never-ending sphere). I started Generation YRA because I wanted to encourage peers in my generation (and others beyond that too!) to get in tune with their finances, feel empowered by their money, and secure a strong financial present & future. But sometimes there is more to the picture of the one theme portrayed from a website/blog you visit. I’m about to display something that only certain people in my life have been able to get a glimpse of. I want to encourage people to not feel discouraged to hide how they feel about finances & grief. 

As some of you may know, my father passed from pancreatic cancer 5 years ago. It has been an incredibly arduous journey where I certainly have experienced the 5 stages of loss & grief.

I was visiting home for winter break during my sophomore year of college when my father passed. I woke up the following morning staring at the ceiling. An outpour of love & support bombarded my phone. Somehow I found the strength to respond, but really I couldn’t even tell you how I mustered up the energy to do so. All I could think was this isn’t real a million times over in my head. If I kept staring at the white ceiling and closed my eyes, I would wake up and he would still be there. I still feel that to this day sometimes.

I told myself and my family I didn’t want to go back to school. I would stay and find work somewhere. I would try to find a way to super glue the pieces of my family back together again. But everyone encouraged me to go back, because if I didn’t my dad would be kicking himself in the shins (he was a huge proponent for education). So I mustered up the courage to go back.

I will not go into further detail about the rest of my college experience. In short summation, it was a whirlwind of mourning, stretching myself too thin, but also preparing for the real world. I tried my hardest to put on a smile each and every day which sometimes felt like a mask to cover my grief. I can’t say flat out that I never felt happy during my college years, because that simply isn’t true. There were definitely moments where I felt like I could conquer the world because I knew he was always there with me. I also had (and still have) an incredible network of family & friends that I couldn’t even begin to list that allowed me to experience what I needed to feel with unwavering support. Even in my hardest moments finishing my undergrad, I was surrounded by my dad’s love. It added to my perseverance & determination to succeed. I wanted to succeed for him & my family.

I am going to put a disclaimer: this post is not to make anyone feel sorry for me in any shape or form, but only to provide an educational lesson & aspect of me that has led me to a place of equilibrium in life. I am feeling wholesome & healthy and that is why I am writing this open letter. 

Here is where I am now…

Dear Dad, 

I mentally communicate to you often, but I felt the urge to write this letter for you. There are so many things I want to tell you, to sit down & share a coffee or midnight bowl of cereal with, but I know I will tell you all about it when I see you again.

I want you to know that I am not sad anymore.

When I cry, it’s typically because there are an infinite amount of fond memories that I am reminded of. Or, I get to recount a story to someone who may have never met you. After you passed, I felt so much regret. Why didn’t I spend more time with you? How come I was so selfish in my teenage years? Why was I more adamant to increase my social status by spending time with my friends, than hunkering down on the couch with my family?

But I remember all the times we sat in my car when you sat passenger side while I was learning to drive. You were incredibly brave to sit in a car with a skittish, sometimes “non-defensive” driver like me. I remember the countless miles we journeyed, and the talks about life that stretched along with them. I recall the time I accidentally pressed my foot on the gas in a parking spot while in ‘drive’ rather than ‘reverse’ and nailed that huge, sturdy tree (and provided humorous entertainment for the people across the street observing the whole scene – of course it wasn’t so humorous when mom discovered there was huge dent in her bumper because of it). I felt shame. That I couldn’t drive any more because of such a stunt. You told me to get right back in that drivers seat and encouraged me to have confidence. Something that speaks volumes in many experiences in my life to this day.

I want you to know that I am healthier than I’ve ever been.

In college, I didn’t just gain the freshman 15 because of that ridiculous combination of pizza & beer. I put on weight because of stress & thought I could seek comfort in food. To this day, yes I do indulge (because restricting myself from any form of chocolate or craft beer from time to time would be disgraceful) – but I have more of conscious approach to what I eat. I scrutinize nutrition labels. Not for calorie count, but because I would much rather be able to comprehend/pronounce what ingredients are in my food. I’ve also tried gardening vegetables for the first time, and have grown delicious spinach, romaine, & tomatoes! I also exercise regularly. I don’t dance quite as often as I used to (of course I still break it down while at home), but I have taken on a new fitness challenge. Remember when I “couldn’t run” because I thought dancers didn’t have the lung capacity for it? I will now be completing my second half marathon on May 10th. Running has provided me a new sense of vitality & a way to really focus on getting in touch with you.

I want you to know that everyone is doing well.

We miss you like crazy, but so much of the legacy you left inspires us to keep moving forward with strength & gusto. Mom is able to laugh wholeheartedly again & has taken on a new career, Chris is an incredible father & brother, Megan is one of the best sister-in-law’s I could ever ask for, and Addison…gosh, you should see her. She is growing up fast & absolutely beautiful.

I want you to know that I found a keeper.

Andrew and I’s wedding date is set for 2016. I knew I picked a keeper when I followed a trail of 12 laid out pennies to his apartment after the most grueling 12+ hour work day I have ever experienced, to come home to a home cooked meal and copious amounts of love & comfort. In the beginning stages of us dating, I drove over to Andrew’s apartment. I brought over the hand-written journals that I wrote in for every moment of pain, sorrow & joy I experienced after you passed. I told him to read the journals to encounter pieces of me I couldn’t always convey through words & that if he was scared, or couldn’t handle it we could end things If need be. He responded with a letter written to me after he read the journals. A letter with so much support & unconditional love that I knew from that moment on that he was the one. You would love him and be very proud of him, dad. If only you both could play 18 holes together. Andrew & I visit the driving range together on your Birthday.

I want you to know that I’m not afraid to cry in public, at all.

This has come with my strengthening during the grief process. Just recently, I was at a concert. Tyrone Wells was singing a soulful, acoustic ballad written for his daughter, “Always Love You.” The theatre was silent, but I burst outright into tears just like a ridiculously leaky faucet. Poor Andrew, crying in public can come at any moment from me. But he wiped away my tears, kissed me on the temple & told me he loved me. Moments like this I have no fear or shame any longer. I feel like the times I cry in public are typically when I feel like I experience messages from you even when you are not here.

I want you to know that I’ve kept all the pennies.

All the pennies that have been left for me that I know cannot be a coincidence. From finding one sitting on my car seat on the first day of my post-graduate career, to a shelf in the fridge of all places, to discovering one on my most challenging days, the back seat of Andrew’s parents’ car, and after wonderfully meaningful conversations with friends. A gracious friend of mine gave me the gift called a “My Angels’ Pennies” jar. It sits upon our fireplace mantle with all the shiny pennies smiling at us. I haven’t counted how many I’ve collected, but I know there have to a be a couple hundred at the very least. Keep leaving those pennies behind, they bring so much joy to my day.

I want you to know I’ve taken a lot of care to strengthen my finances.

All of those pennies you have left have really inspired me. Society likes to portray that people of my age are poor savers, will not be prepared for retirement, and have ridiculous spending habits. I beg to differ. If this is the truth, then I would like to remain the minority. Wish we could go back to those long rides in the car to discuss my asset allocation in my 401(k) plan through work. I’ve been learning a lot through reading & others that care about their financial health as well.

I want you to know that there is so much to say…

I could honestly write you a letter that expands beyond 20 pages. But I’ll spare the brevity, because I know I am always attempting to connect with you in one way, or another. I love you, miss you, and always will with every part of me.


Thank you for reading a more personal side from me that may be out of the ordinary. I am here to tell you to not ever be afraid to talk about finances, or grief. Every conversation is a way to transcend beyond what you are capable of. Its an opportunity to develop and to grow in all facets of your life. 

All my best,




Rockin’ With Robinhood

That’s right. It’s time for those of us that aren’t typically recognized as investors to get our skin in the game with buying & selling stocks. I’m talking about having the ability to invest in stocks and experience $0 trade fees.

I’m talking about…

rockin’ with Robinhood.

(A big shout out to Sam at Frugaling.org for providing me with a sign-up code before Robinhood was offered to the public! Thanks again!)

Now I get it. When you think stocks you may think of yelling people, flailing arms, or a raging Leonardo DiCaprio (Wolf of Wallstreet style, definitely not Titanic). But times are changing. One of the best ways to increase wealth and outpace inflation is to invest in the market in one way, or another.

If the idea of investing leaves you panic stricken let me tell you this…

Investing will make that hard earned money that you worked for, suddenly start working for you.

Because sticking your cash under the mattress, or letting it rest in a checking account/standard savings account will cause that money to lose it’s value in the future (think inflation). Figuring out ways to increase your money’s current value will help with that.

(P.S. if you have debt that you are trying to drive down, or major financial goals you are trying to obtain – I do not recommend investing money in the stock market to accomplish such tasks. People may have a different argument, but I suggest conquering those financial goals first before trying different measures to increase your wealth. If you have money to spare in those ventures without detracting from your goals, then I’d say go for it!).

So here’s my game plan. I’ve got my money systems in place (check out my post automate to alleviate on how I set them up, and how you can too!), I’m investing with Betterment, and I’m contributing to a 401(k) and IRA. I wanted to get involved with more of a single selection stock method. Try out something that I believe I have no expertise on. I can be pretty vivacious when it comes to learning something new then throwing myself out there – sink, or swim kind of stuff. Experiential learning.

To be quite honest, I’m a bit nervous.

But I wanted to be realistic with this journey, so I’m definitely not just throwing in hundreds or thousands of dollars. I understand investing in stocks entails risk. I may even experience some losses. If there is one thing I’ve learned so far it is to not let the emotional factor get the best of you. I’m starting with a small dollar amount for now, and may not even put in much more than the figure I choose. The reason for this impetus to invest & how I chose a dollar amount? I decided to forgo a typical Short Term Reward for this month (Short Term Rewards are things/experiences I set aside money for per month to create a bit of fun & flexibility in my budget – for example, purchasing tickets to a concert) and kick start my experience with Robinhood – because who wouldn’t want in on the ‘future of trading?’ (I’m really feeling that vibe). For me, learning about investing, stocks, and the market is enticing. I get a thrill when I think about pouring over books about investing (who is this girl?!).

Here are a few declarations that may debunk some myths for you:

1. I’m a Millennial who is not afraid of the stock market

2. I’m a female who has taken an interest to investing

3. Personal finance is on the radar for me & many others in my generation


That’s right, I wanted to give a bit of a shock & awe factor. Maybe you find the following 3 declarations to be unbelievable, but I can guarantee that each point is true (if you found yourself here at Generation YRA in the first place, it is probably fairly apparent)! I recognize there is going to be an almost ridiculous amount to learn in this adventure while I’m rockin’ with Robinhood. Heck, I may even be absolutely clueless right now and you may be wondering why I’m even going to be doing this. But I want to show that at the age of 25 with no formal learning of the market & investing, you too can find ways to increase your wealth and net worth. Learning beyond institutional education is a powerful thing. Get out there and challenge yourself to learn something you never thought you were ever capable of doing. That’s what I’ll be doing for the rest of 2015.

Have you tried out Robinhood? Do you invest in stocks? How do you build wealth? Leave your feedback in the comments below!

Stay tuned for more rockin’ with Robinhood posts & updates…

All my best,



Take Action: Unexpected Cash Flow

Here’s the play by play: I’m sitting at the computer about to write my next blog entry when I hear my fiancé Andrew yell out loud from the kitchen:

“We’ve got 11 tortillas in our package instead of 10, I thought I was going crazy!”

Now, why was this phrase so momentous? You’re about to find out how 1 additional tortilla from a 10 count package applies to personal finance (did a tortilla really just inspire me to write)?

Life can surprise us with a multitude of unexpected opportunities that lead us to choices (a free ticket to an event as a gift, an unsuspected parking ticket, a random act of gratitude or kindness passed on by a stranger…). Finding an additional 11th tortilla in your 10 count package is surely one of those experiences. What are some choices that we have for that surprise 11th tortilla?! There are a several things we could do:

A. Give to someone who is more in need of food to suppress their hunger for the evening (and hopefully more than just that tortilla)

B. Place that additional tortilla in the freezer and thaw when a last minute meal situation calls

C. Cut out random shapes in the tortilla (like a homemade DIY paper snowflake) to create a mask (hello, Jim Carey)

D. Pretend like there were never 11 tortillas in the 10 count bag

E. Insert choice here: __________

Now, what does this have to do with money? I was unaware your blog turned into a foodie blog…

Here is my point:

Life can also surprise us with unexpected cash flow that provides us with a series of choices.

Just like discovering that 11th tortilla in our 10 count bag…

i.e.: You just received a raise at work and/or landed a new client for your business with great compensation (congratulations!), you just won the lottery (are you one of those people who has won not just once, but twice?!), you were unexpectedly reimbursed for a time you over paid for an appointment co-pay (“honey, we just received a $5.00 check in the mail from the doctor…”), you were notified via mail that a class action lawsuit was filed against a local gas station for debit card transaction fees between a certain time frame and you will be reimbursed in the future (could be a hoax until you realize your colleagues got the same notice, too), or a cost you prepared for was actually less than what you anticipated and you now have additional cash $$$ (what do I do?!).

Let’s take the first, less ridiculous & potentially more realistic example:

You just received a raise at work and/or landed a new client for your business with great compensation.

Here are options complementing stated options for discovering 11th tortilla in 10 count bag above:

A. Donate to charity, local organization you support, or non-profit that helps those in need

B. Place additional income in emergency fund, or pay down debt

C. Create artwork with dollar bills such as origami swans

D. Pretend like you never received a raise or additional income, and do nothing

E. TAKE ACTION – Insert choice here:__________

As you can see, unexpected cash flow can lead us to a plethora of ideas bombarding & competing in our mind (options that can even seem just a little bit ridiculous). With an incredible amount of options, we may be left in a stand-still to not even do anything. The thing is, the longer you wait and let the unexpected cash flow sit in your standard checking account – the less time it has to increase it’s value (i.e. through investing), or the more temptation that wells up inside you to spend it. One of the most important options I can nudge you to do is to take action. Any action that you feel applicable to your personal finance circumstance. Whether it’s reaching a financial goal, investing it, or beefing up that emergency fund, you’re putting that additional cash flow to use.

Don’t take the reactive approach (option D)…

Take action & reach your financial goals. 


What would you choose if you suddenly received unexpected cash flow? How would you take action? Let me know in the comments below!

Giving you analogies from daily life to help you reach financial independence one post at a time…

All my best,


Hero’s Journey: Money Edition

Can you recall a lesson, lecture, class, course or seminar you attended that struck you to the core? I was always searching for such profound moments through my educational years, and can recollect many times a teacher/professor ignited my thought processes. The type that makes your brain work full speed ahead on all cylinders. One particular course I took entitled Myth in Film did just the trick. It just so happened I got to sit on on my professor’s last lecture before he embarked on his journey in retirement…

This course was created & centralized around Joseph Campbell’s: The Hero’s Journey (also referred to as The Mythic Journey, or Monomyth). We would watch films such as Shawshank Redemption, The Game, and Full Metal Jacket. Throughout the film (or in a mad dash after), you would have to take a quiz featuring extensive questions requiring answers that cross-compared the film to that of Hero’s Journey. This was definitely not just a course you could snooze through the movie and expect to ace (which was actually quite tough since it was a 3 hour evening lecture…definitely heard a few snores from time to time). The professor’s expectations required deep, thought provoking analogies & detailed examples for the outcome of a decent grade. The argument was that every (or close to every) film we have been exposed to (even outside of the U.S. film industry) contains the Hero’s Journey in some shape, or form. That society refers to the framework of Hero’s Journey to comprehend, analyze, create & potentially dictate their lives – just as main protagonists do in a film (for pictured/storyboard examples of this, click here).

Whether this is true about The Hero’s Journey, or not is up to interpretation (and the study of Joseph Campbell’s work). But I do know one thing that most people can relate to: personal finances can be tedious, challenging & off-putting. Without groundwork, it can be difficult to understand where to even begin. Despite hardship, with a little education, mentorship & practice – you will be able to take on your finances with complete confidence. So here is my summarized account of The Hero’s Journey: Money Edition. Some of us may just be starting (The Call to Adventure – welcome first time readers, glad you came!), others of us might be reaping Rewards (my net worth is off the charts!)- but this is the key takeaway after reading this post:

Regardless of where you are during Hero’s Journey: Money Edition, recognize you are not alone. 

(Also, the fact that you’re here is pretty dang cool – thanks for allowing Generation YRA to be a part of your journey)!


So check it out, my take on Hero’s Journey: Money Edition…


Heck yeah, this can be defined in various ways of how we’re living our daily lives. My ordinary world consists of working for an awesome family owned company, spending time with loved ones, running & dancing to stay fit, and enjoying ice cold pints of cold brew coffee, craft beer, or kombucha – preferably accompanied by a book (in print because I like to feel the pages). Day to day lifestyle choices require dollars & cash money to be prepared for emergencies, prep for retirement, and occasionally treat myself. What’s your ordinary world looking like?


Alright, so either A) you just accepted a full time, real-world job, B) you just graduated from college, or even C) insert situation here. Things are starting to get real. I can’t quite juggle all that the real world is throwing at me (insurance, 401(k), raises, charitable donations, mortgages, medical bills, student loans, life events…). In order to not get into a situation I do not want to be in, my mind is calling me to take action on getting my personal finances in order. It’s time to get serious (no more splurging, binging, or pretending like bills are only a temporary thing).


But….YOLO??* I’m shaking my dang head. I want to live in the moment. I don’t want to think about the real world because I’m still young. If I’ve got the money, might as well spend it am I right?!

*(I’ve never actually used that term before, so that felt pretty weird).


Insert voice of reason at just the right time. This person can be a part of your family, a friend, confidant, blogger, financial advisor, colleague…you name it. This person will guide you along your Hero’s Journey: Money Edition. They’ve got what it takes to show you how you can accomplish your financial goals. They will provide with the right insight, tools, and knowledge to make you financially fierce (*rawr*).


In order to get to that financially fit point that you want, there’s no turning back now (mu-ha-ha?!). I mean, of course you can turn back…but quite honestly, once you start strengthening your financial game plan it’s pretty inspiring. You just want to develop more great habits, it’s a ripple effect. How can I invest more, how can I save more, how can I ensure the financial security freedom of myself and my loved ones, what are ways to build wealth?


Ahhh yes, well it just wouldn’t quite be a journey without these folks right? So here’s a few examples of some of these people: the haters & nay-sayers (shake em’ off), the cheerleaders (just upped your IRA contribution, right on!!), and potentially the skeptics that just ask so many questions that make you feel like a rock in a hard place (why can’t you go out, why can’t you go on this trip, why the heck are you putting away money that you can’t touch till you’re 60?!). Along your Hero’s Journey: Money Edition you will encounter these people. Choose wisely who to surround yourself with. If it is uncontrollable who appears during your journey, at least know how to handle each one.


With all your knock-your-socks off financial literacy & knowledge you’ve grown through this journey, you are gearing up for anything that could potentially be a financial “challenge.” Even with objection, with your preparation – what typically may seem like a money challenge to most will not even phase you!


What in the?! Dangitttttt……..

(Insert financial situation here that is definitely not friendly to your bank account i.e.: unexpected veterinarian bills, car breakdowns, graduations/weddings/baby showers/life events requiring travel costs all in one month, house appliance needs replacement…you get the drill). 


But you my friend, you’re coming out on top! On this Hero’s Journey: Money Edition, you’ve learned to plan ahead and set aside money for an emergency fund (safety net fund, silly me fund, whatever you may call it). No need to withdraw from retirement savings, no way you need to drain your checking account, no sense in taking away from your short term savings goals…you’ve got a money making machine of a system in place that when life creates financial tests, you actually reap rewards of financial security through smart money management.


Okay, so you were feeling confident. Yet sometimes even certain financial hardships can give a bit of a shake-up, even if you are prepared for them in every which way. Turn to your allies – they may have been through it before, or they have observed you overcome such obstacles. The road back on this journey isn’t always just like following the yellow brick road to Emerald City…


But you’ve come back and you’re ready to continue on this journey. You’ve got that reward of feeling fulfilled and financially secure. You’re feeling prepared to share your wealth of knowledge to those around you whether it’s through conversation, writing, teaching, etc.


And now, you’re just kickin’ it. Feeling financially groovy. All money systems in place, automatic deposits are set, and you keep saving for all your financial goals. The journey continues, but you continue to grow along the way. And so does your net worth & bank accounts!


What stage are you at during Hero’s Journey: Money Edition? What would you add to each stage of this journey? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

All my best,


Shake Your Money Mentors

Today begins an excellent opportunity that I’d say is a huge win. I will be volunteering with an organization that is geared towards empowering youth for economic success in grades K-12. I have been assigned to a 5th grade classroom comprised of 27 students. I have one of my colleagues to thank for introducing me to this organization, because without that I am unsure if I would have ever discovered this opportunity. To say that I am starting to volunteer for this program at the beginning of National Financial Literacy Month is a another win. The best part? There is no monetary expense for my volunteering. The only expense is my time (any non-monetary expense to take on an opportunity that could potentially enrich your life is amazing – no questions). I’d now say this is a Win-Win-Win situation (with no conflict included). I feel incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to serve as a money mentor for these students (also, fortunate that my job & boss allow me the flexibility to do so – even if it means coming back a couple minutes late from my lunch break to volunteer).

Enter in anxiety…

Here’s the catch…I am beyond nervous to enter into that classroom tomorrow (gosh, I commend the fantastic school teachers for their line of work and commitment to teaching). It’s actually pretty ironic. I am a Speech Comm. major who in the past had a job that required speaking in front of large audiences ranging from 20-1000+ people. I’ve led group meetings and tackled solo speeches on podiums without missing a beat. I’ve emcee’d for campus events & have performed on stages at nation wide dance competitions. Yet for one of the first times I am feeling nervous, vulnerable and anxious. The idea of 27 sets of innocent eyes on me speaking of money, entrepreneurship & the economy makes me want to melt (just like Olaf without his snow cloud). Their knowledge almost seems fragile to me and what I contribute to their learning could have a pretty profound effect on them.

So why do you feel this way?

I’ve been questioning that in my mind & I believe I’ve finally landed on the reason. I will be giving lessons to these 5th grade students and may be providing one of their very first introductions to money. Yes, these students may have learned from their parents and/or guardians, but I will be added as another money mentor in their mind. Am I ready to take this on? I have been reading personal finance books and articles, pouring over blogs, listening to podcasts/audiobooks, participating in tweetchats, and writing to promote & ensure the financial success of myself and others that visit GenerationYRA. It’s feasible to apply to my own life and grow with trial & error, as well as share my experiences to those in my generation and older…but to teach to 5th graders? To break down concepts into reasonable analogies, gain a connection of understanding, commit to making the learning fun – I feel like toast (yeah, toast!).

The glorious resolution:

You know what? I’m not toast. I am ready! I am thrilled to become a money mentor for this classroom. The idea that these economic lessons will be incorporated into their regular school day is phenomenal. To provide interactive, hands-on learning for the students to exercise these concepts is even more wonderful. I am a huge advocate for speaking transparently about finances (as many of you who read this are, as well)! How can we learn and apply financial topics, if there aren’t even opportunities to do so? This organization allows that, and I cannot wait to provide these students with lessons that will have a lasting impact for (hopefully) the rest of their lives. The other dynamic part of this opportunity is that I am sure that I will learn a ton from the perspective of these 5th graders. I think back to elementary & middle school days when I went through programs like D.A.R.E, STARS, and TATU. I remember looking up to the high school students and volunteers who led these programs thinking they were so cool. I admired them. They were taking the time to teach us young-ins to stay away from drugs, tobacco and the like. Now, it’s my turn to provide that positive influence & mentorship for students and I’m going to own it.

I will promote money mentorship & transparency of financial conversations for years to come. Harboring financial matters independently is difficult. Alleviate some worries by conversing, learning, educating yourself about financial concepts from professionals and those around you – shake your money mentors! Don’t be afraid to ask questions, because each one of us had to start somewhere. Money does not have to dictate your life, but it sure will always be present. Let’s get us to a point where we feel empowered to reach our financial goals.

Providing a space for financial matters and $$$ to be less scary & more transparent one post at a time…

All my best,