Generation YRA & Mavenly + Co. Podcast Series Collaboration

I am so incredibly thrilled that I received the opportunity to record a three part money podcast series with Mavenly + Co.’s founder, Kate Gremillion.

If you have never visited Mavenly + Co., I highly recommend you head on over there as soon as you can! To all the incredible ladies out there, I’m speaking out to you (fellas – there’s some killer content over there that can be relatable on all levels).

Check out Mavenly + Co.’s mission:

“A digital community having honest conversations about work and life with real women to help you create a life by your own design.”

Mavenly + Co. provides a community I really just can’t get enough of. Whether it’s work, life, relationships, health, finances! – you name it, they’ve got it covered.


What better way to ring in the New Year than to get started on all your personal finance goals?! Okay, so yes I’m pretty pumped about it – and if it’s not quite something on your list for 2016, I highly encourage to include at least one! I have a feeling you want to if you’re making your way over here to Generation YRA. 😉

A major, major THANK YOU is in order for Kate Gremillion (also, to my friend Carly Stiles for connecting us)! You ladies are certainly incredible role models that I look up to!

So tune in on your commute, hang out with us during your morning routine, or unwind to this series before you head to bed. Let’s get you started/on track to crush all of your 2016 financial goals. I am pleased to present the three installments of this podcast series…

The Generation YRA & Mavenly + Co. Podcast Series


Here’s to an amazing 2016 to you & yours from Generation YRA!

May you take on all of your 2016 goals (finance & more) with confidence.

Get ready for the best year yet.

Have you participated in a podcast recording before? What are some of your favorite podcasts to listen to? Let me know in the comments below!

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The Eugene Elf

This past weekend, my hometown received a little holiday magic visit from The Eugene Elf!

Inspired by Maggie at Northern Expenditure’s “The Experience Based Christmas,” taking on Tawcan’s “A Reader’s Challenge – Christmas Giving” and perpetuating the use of a Flexible Philanthropy Fund I explained in a past post – my fiance & I set out on an adventure to give back this holiday season in a spontaneous way. I think we may have created a new tradition!


While spending a glorious Saturday morning watching Christmas movies & wrapping our Secret Santa gifts for our family exchange, we were brainstorming different ways to give back more during this holiday season.

Both of us agreed while Savoring Your Bonus is Not Erroneous, we wanted to put half towards our savings goals (specifically, the home down payment fund) and give the other portion to others. Then my mind kicked into full on idea generating mode (thank you, coffee).

I pulled out my stationary storage box (okay, I’m not even kidding about the saved part – I have leftover graduation announcement envelopes back from 2012 I still use). There were 10 leftover holiday cards equipped with red envelopes I specifically remember snatching up from the Target Dollar Spot last year (incredibly festive, and they are holiday neutral – the red envelope was my favorite part as shown in the header image above)! We decided to take $20 to fill each envelope, and include this little handwritten note (there was also a generic message the card featured as well):

“Holiday magic is all around you! Please take, save, share, give, spend.

Happy Holidays!

-The Eugene Elf”

eugene elf

eugene elf 2


The question was: how could we hide these envelopes around town to surprise people with this holiday magic? 

We thought of sliding underneath apartment doors, leaving on car windshields. Handing off to passerby pedestrians downtown,or leaving in city flower pots. We contemplated placing in newspaper, or randomly picked residential mailboxes.

The trickiness was that we wanted to be left anonymous & hope the location of the envelopes would allow them to not get rained on (its been raining like crazy as of late)! Not to mention, a bright red envelop in a random location has this sort of ominous vibe (but it is the holidays?).

Then we circled back to one of our most favorite places in the city…

The Public Library.

YES!!!

It’s inside, allows for anyone in the city to visit, and the envelopes would either be discovered soon – or in the future for when that certain book gets checked out. My fiance & I both couldn’t count the number of times we’ve been reading a library book and all of the sudden a previous persons’ bookmark, receipt, postcard, sticky note, etc. slipped out of the book and onto our laps. Why not have a holiday cheer card from The Eugene Elf to slip out while you are reading? 🙂

We entered the library & divvied up the cards. We went our separate ways & strategically selected books to place the red holiday cheer envelopes in. After we both finished, we checked out more books that were on our lists to read (can’t get enough!) and reported back on which books we selected & why. We giggled, smiled & couldn’t believe how “stealth” we felt entering the rows of books to slip in these red envelope surprises. (You know, kind of like the E.L.F. squad in The Santa Clause – but not really your worst nightmare, or with attitude ha).

Now, I can’t quite say which books we hid them in (it keeps the holiday magic a surprise!) – but I can give you hints –

My List of Books Chosen:

  1. A book that changed my perception on personal finance.

  2. A book written by a powerful writer that allowed me to challenge the status quo norms.

  3. A book that relates to my Dad’s heritage.

My Fiance’s List of Books Chosen:

  1. A book that relates to his passion and line of work.

  2. A book in a series that is a very popular, hit TV show.

  3. A book that is written by one of the most gripping suspense writers of all time.

  4. A book that incorporates a percentage in the title.

*If you’re taking note that there are only 7 cards listed here – you’re absolutely right! 2 cards we did place on cars located in the parking garage on the driver’s window. The 3rd card (and first one I gave out) I attempted to pass on to a barista to choose a customer at random to give at a local coffee shop…but he was very skeptical (I don’t blame him – hey, random girl that’s passing off a sealed red envelope that could be filled with something other than holiday cheer & cash). I felt a bit awkward (I should have thought my presentation through better), and decided to open the card in front of him, showed him the message, and just asked that he put the $20 in the tip jar to be allotted to each employee. This is nothing against this employee & coffee shop, I understand that safety is of top priority!


My fiance & I plan to check back on the books we selected in a year to see if the red envelopes filled with holiday magic have been discovered, or not. Thank you again to Maggie at Northern ExpenditureTawcan (& several other personal finance bloggers!) for sharing your holiday magic and inspiring others to do so.

I want to wish all of you an incredibly wonderful holiday season!

May it be filled with spontaneity, magic & all those you love. 

Can It Be True: 10 Things I Hate About You

The following post was created for Sarah’s #pfmessages (personal finance messages) series presented over at The Yachtless! Sarah posed the question:

“What types of messages about wealth and personal finance do you see hidden in literature and popular culture?”

I was thrilled to take on this question. It reminded me of the topics/challenges that I had to expand upon in college. So come take this journey as I respond to this prompt below!

P.S. If you’re interested in also generating content for #pfmessages, Sarah has invited anyone & everyone to contribute by December 27th. Head on over to her post “Widening The Circle” to find out more details!


For Sarah’s #pfmessages exercise I am going to evaluate a movie – one that was pretty prevalent in terms of popular culture through my youth. I was completely enthralled with this movie because it was a modern day interpretation of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.

That’s right! If you haven’t quite guessed it yet, the movie I’m going to  break down is:

10 Things I Hate About You

Oh all the glory, the angst, high school parties, beautiful Seattle/Pacific NW scenery, and excellent Walter Stratford lines such as :“I’m down, I’ve got the 411, and you are not going out and getting jiggy with some guy I don’t care how dope his ride is.” (I think I could probably recite a ridiculous amount of lines from this movie)…

I’m going to provide an analysis on the main characters in terms of wealth and personal finance. My analysis of each character is not what is actually true to real life, but just so happens to be depicted through characters fairly consistently in popular culture. While reading each analysis of the characters, also think about other films/pieces of literature where you can insert the same depiction and qualities.

To me, a lot of what movies, television shows, and books provide are opportunities to relate to characters on a personal level as they develop throughout the duration of the story. Whether you feel in tune with their traits/personalities, or absolute disgust with their actions, we can critically evaluate and dissect whether we are similar to, different from each character. Not to mention, it also allows us to categorize other people’s personalities/characteristics we may have met, interact with, or have encountered in life.

Let’s begin the breakdown & analysis!

(Please note: for length purposes, each breakdown & analysis is quite condensed and only limited to 4 characters from the film. I know there is much deeper analysis beyond what I depict & much more to be said)!


Kat/Katarina Stratford 

Breakdown – The ‘meanest’ girl in school and against conformity due to people and their “meaningless consumer driven lives.” (now that’s deep)! Sister of Bianca and daughter to the infamous Walter Stratford. Is lured unknowingly into dating Patrick Verona after there is a scheme set into place so that her sister Bianca can date (which involves exchange of money set up between Joey Donner, Cameron James & his friend Michael).

Analysis – Against consumerism, Kat’s non-conformity is heightened to an extreme level where she is recognized as cold, scathing and even a “mutant” (as her sister exclaims). Her sister, Bianca and classmates view her behavior as ridiculous & rude (wait, people are seen as weird when they go against typical norms?). Kat is completely floored when she discovers she was used while dating Patrick Verona, simply to allow her sister to date. In the end, admits to loving Patrick (through an exceptional poem presentation in English class) and accepts his gracious gift of a new guitar to pursue music.

Bianca Stratford

Breakdown – The most popular, pretty girl in school. At the beginning, is swept away by Joey Donner’s looks, fancy car and affluence. Eventually learns his ridiculousness, and once Kat begins dating, decides she wants to date Cameron James the new guy in school instead (which abides by the rules of her dad where the daughters can only date if both choose to do so: not either or). Bianca learns to separate their differences and is able to mend her relationship with her sister Kat. Ends up with Cameron in the end, and not the wealthy Joey.

Analysis – The classic plot line of pretty girl in school pairs with popular good-looking rich guy, because that just makes the most sense…right? After learning true qualities & characteristics of Joey (who she is expected to date), ends up falling for the good new guy Cameron because nice guys don’t have to finish last. Ironically, her relationship with her sister is  fixed after she learns that Kat used to be like her (in the popular crowd dating Joey Donner) – wait, what?

Patrick Verona

Breakdown – The wild rebel in school who allegedly ate a live duck once. Is presented with an opportunity by Joey Donner to get paid to take non-conformist Kat out on a date, that way Joey can date his sister Bianca (to follow their dad’s rules). Initially, refuses his offer (go, Patrick)! Once he is posed with a higher dollar offer, ends up giving in and accepting the money to take Kat out. Ends up actually falling for Kat. Messes up & upsets Kat when she learns she was a bet. He says his iconic line: “I didn’t care about the money! I cared about you!” In the end, takes all the money that Joey had given him to buy a brand new, shiny guitar to gift to Kat so she can pursue her music passions.

Analysis – Sometimes against better judgment, people will go against character for extreme offers (i.e. once Patrick accepted the money Joey offered him to date Kat it was bound to be a doomed situation). Although completely generous that Patrick did not use the money received from Joey, he poured it into a gift for Kat that was one heavy spend endeavor (a guitar). Ironically, she accepts it (despite her anti-consumerism messages provided in the beginning of the movie). Patrick’s feelings for Kat when he professes his care for her shows that relationships truly should trump money.

Joey Donner

Breakdown – Rich, stuck-up, ‘handsome,’ suit wearing, model, fancy car driving Joey. Donner. Believes he deserves everything he wants – including the prettiest girl in school, Bianca (even though his personality is awful). Has enough money to bribe Patrick Verona into dating Kat Stratford. Feels the urge to use foul & vulgar language whenever someone acts out of line (like when Kat damages his sports car while trying to leave the music store because he so rudely parks in her way).

Analysis – Wealth = attractiveness, power & popularity. You can only be the following as long as you have wealth. Wealth also allows you all the control to get what you want & with force if need be. Also if you’re wealthy & popular, you have to be paired with someone else who is wealthy & popular. At some point or another, everyone will begin to see through your awful character and wealth will not be the only thing that saves you.


As you can see, a lot of the character breakdowns & analysis mentioned above can actually be quite true to real life. Can you think of anyone you know/have had encounters with that may be like Kat, Bianca, Patrick, or Joey (maybe not just entirely, but certain traits)? These roles are depicted time and time again through literature and popular culture. The question is, has popular culture caused people to develop into such roles whether intentionally, or unintentionally?

Characters in movies provide us an opportunity to relate, empathize, or even stray away from what is depicted. The challenge is that in our youth, we are developing. Learning. Finding our way in the world. Unfortunately, we may be completely impressionable and begin to believe the trends of particular characters utilized often in movies are absolute truths, even in real life.

When we approach adulthood, we are more equipped with real life experiences, lessons and formal education that allow us to challenge even entertainment and popular culture “norms.” We have the opportunity to separate fiction from reality. 

So can it be true…

…that people may begin to emulate character traits like those shown in 10 Things I Hate About You, or can we break away from the personal finance cultural messages we are continuously bombarded with in popular culture?


What other messages related to wealth and personal finance do you think are a part of 10 Things I Hate About You? Do you hear Barenaked Ladies’ song “One Week” also play in your head when you think about this movie? How do you break away from cultural messages that are prevalent in popular culture? Let’s begin the discussion!

Flexible Philanthropy Fund

Philanthropy.

Long word. Kind of funny sounding. Incredibly profound effects.

So what exactly is philanthropy? 

According to dictionary.com:

“altruistic concern for human welfare and advancement, usually manifested by donations of money, property, or work to needy persons, by endowment of institutions of learning and hospitals, and by generosity to other socially useful purposes.”

In other words: the dollars you donated to the local animal shelter, those moments you volunteered in your child’s classroom, that 5K you ran down Greek row to raise awareness for CARDV, or the times you spent serving hot meals at The Salvation Army…those are all acts of philanthropy.

I condone philanthropy on a regular basis & maintain practicing acts of philanthropy as often as I can – but it is especially prevalent around the holidays. During the winter when the weather gets colder, warm thoughts & kind actions towards others from all walks of life are especially important.

I know that you often hear a designated percentage of your budget should be allocated towards philanthropy & charity – whether it be 10%, 15%, you name it. Yet, I could never fully comprehend why you would want to limit yourself from giving (whether monetary value, or volunteer hours) and hit a point where you say: Oh, I donated my $100/2 hours of volunteer time this month to this charity and now I’ve met my quota.

Now I completely understand…sometimes there are just too many foundations, funds, shelters, people, social causes, and the like out there to give to all. Sometimes it’s a matter of taking care of your family, your friends & yourself first because life happens before you can give to others. It’s all about balance. I could understand that is why people like the consistency of allocating a certain percentage to charitable & philanthropic causes in a month.

But then I got to finishing the book All The Money in the World by Laura Vanderkam. Here is one of the biggest themes/paragraphs that just sang straight to my heart:

Give yourself some philanthropy fun money. Concentrate the bulk of your giving on a few organizations, but leave about 20 percent of your total charitable budget unrestricted, so you can dole it out to things that strike your fancy. In the context of buying happiness, I can think of little more fun than going through life with the mind-set of always looking for ways to make the world better for $5-$20. And not just via nonprofits. Spending money on other people qualifies as pro-social spending whether there’s a tax deduction involved or not” (181).

 Vanderkam then lists out several ways that you can exercise utilizing your philanthropy fun money. Bingo. Enter in a Flexible Philanthropy Fund. You may not be able to write out $100,000 checks at this point in time to your charity of choice (although, I hope on my financial journey at one point in my life I can pass such an amount on). But having a portion of money that you can use at your discretion to make positive changes can have a large scale effect on others. Even better? The flexibility aspect of giving when you can and not stressing about what the dollar value has to be.

To get started with this fund take $5, $10, or $20 this month (could be cash, or a designated amount in your checking account). Use this amount in any way, or fashion that would promote some form of philanthropy in your hometown. Want to kick start using the amount of money you set aside? The next person you encounter in your hometown who is raising money/bell-ringing/giving awareness to a cause – give that total amount that you have set aside for your fund, no questions asked!

Want a couple more ideas for a Flexible Philanthropy Fund? Inspired by Vanderkam, I put together a list of 10 ways you can put this fund to use:

  1. Give money to the kids at the car wash fundraising for their sports team (even if your car doesn’t need a washing)
  2. Cover the cab/Uber fare for all your friends on your outing
  3. Head over to CharityWatch.org, click the “Top Rated Charities” link, donate to a charity that’s listed under the starting letter of your first name
  4. Write random notes with positive messages and leave them on campus/around town to put a smile on someone’s face
  5. Overfill the parking meter (even if you only need about 10 minutes in that parking space) that way the next person does not have to pay
  6. Help friends reach their entrepreneurial goals by providing tools or time to their business
  7. Take a moment to pick up a lost item to give back to it’s rightful owner
  8. Spend just a little longer talking to that stranger who has a lot to say at the grocery store
  9. Find a local non-profit or charity you are most passionate about and volunteer your time to their efforts
  10. Purchase a coffee, snack, or meal in advanced for the customer in line behind you

Of course this is a limited list, and there are an incredible amount of ways you can utilize a Flexible Philanthropy Fund. Whether large, or small a Flexible Philanthropy Fund when put to use with no boundaries can create an immense amount of joy to others. Jot down ways you would use such a fund, and encourage friends & family during this holiday season to participate in all the ideas you wrote down. You never know – one random act of kindness can ignite the passion in another to pass it on. 


What would you add to the list above with a Flexible Philanthropy Fund? Are there any special things you’ve done for philanthropy? Let me know, I would love to hear your experiences!

The Inverted U-Curve of Personal Finance

Okay…so before you ditch out on me because I mentioned “inverted U-curve” in my title – hang on just a quick second! This is going to be much more straight forward than what you may be expecting. You see, I picked up a haul of books from the library this fine fall evening (seriously, I scored on some great reads) and happened to get my hands on a copy of David & Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell. Now, I know inverted U-curves did not just stem from Gladwell’s book – but his chapter depicting the inverted U-curve (to classroom size & family wealth) got me thinking…what is the optimal point for thinking about personal finance on the inverted U-curve?


For those of you who may not have read David & Goliath, or cannot even remember the last time you discussed an inverted U-curve (possibly even Kuznets Curve) – no worries! Here’s a short breakdown:

An inverted U-curve can depict any concept – where on the left hand, vertical axis are benefits ranging from none to most. On the right hand, horizontal axis is a theme/concept/idea ranging from none, to some, to too much.

After looking & following along the graph, this is what you will discover: too little of something can be considered a bad thing. Too much of something can be considered a bad thing. But when you discover that middle ground, or the right balance – you’ve found your optimal point.

The inverted U-curve can be used for a wide variety of things in life. For example: too little of exercise can be detrimental to your health – too much exercise can actually lead you to injuries – but discovering the right amount of exercise and fitness for you leads to the most optimal health for your body.


Alright, so let’s actually talk about the inverted U-curve & what this means in terms of personal finance….

You know, what this post is actually supposed to be about?

Right!

I digressed a bit, but thanks for sticking out with me in that quick intro/lesson. Check this out…

You see, the inverted U-curve of time spent thinking about personal finance is something that each one of us can relate to at one time, or another.

With the horizontal axis relating to the amount of time we think about personal finance (on the spectrum of none, to some and ultimately too much), we experience the benefits of little – to some – to the most.


 

When the amount of time we think about personal finance is NONE:

  • We don’t track what we make & spend
  • We have no clear depiction or plan of what our money goals are
  • We do not have  any ambitions to even save money
  • We cannot provide encouragement to others for their financial goals
  • We potentially believe the falsehood that money grows on trees
  • Etc.

When the amount of time we think about personal finance is TOO MUCH:

  • We obsess on whether we are keeping up with all of our financial goals
  • We do not feel the amount we are saving and our plans are “enough”
  • We consistently question any and every purchasing decision
  • When practicing money extremes (from frugality to hyper-consumerism) we lose sight of what we value
  • We forgo opportunities to invest in ourselves because we are afraid there will be no pay off in the future
  • Etc. 

When the amount of time we think about money matters is SOME and at its OPTIMAL POINT:

  • We free up time to spend on things we value with the people we love
  • We have an ease of mind because we know we have an emergency fund in place & the right amount of insurance coverage
  • We are confident in all of our purchasing & saving habits
  • We smile & share encouraging words with others that reached a financial milestone
  • We have more headspace to strengthen any and all areas of life other than just our personal finances
  • Etc.

I cannot say that I am always perfect and consistently spend the optimal level of time in regards to personal finance. I am far from that. What’s important to me is the recognition of this inverted U-curve. If I am thinking too little to none, my goals & finances definitely derail. If I tip over to the too much thinking on personal finance, I fall to the insecurities and scrutiny of my own goals (not even ones that someone made up for me)! C’mon..what’s up with that?

Determining when the scales are tipped allows me to get right back to that balance of the ‘perfect’ amount of time to think about my finances. I recognize, that sometimes my optimal point can also be in flux. It takes time to recognize what is too scarce, and what is too extreme. Yet when I discover which trend makes me feel most comfortable and on track to spend in save in accordance with my values – I know I’ve hit my optimal point.

So whether your optimal point of personal finance thoughts means having a consistent “money-minute” check-up every day, only a monthly budget overview, sharing an in-depth conversation with a partner for a few hours on financial goals, chatting with friends in passing about a 401(k), or even doing the “20 minute end of the year money tune up” – so be it! Each and every one of us will have a different optimal point of time spent on personal finance in terms of the inverted U-curve. The question is: what is your optimal time spent thinking about your personal finances that works best for you?


What is your optimal amount of time spent thinking about personal finance? How can we discover we are thinking too little, or too much in terms of personal finance? Let me know in the comments below!