P.S.S. it’s not as scary as you think

It’s been quite some time since I’ve hunkered down to write a post, but legitimate reasons and life happenings have kept me graciously on my toes.

You see, within the last 6 months my husband and I have experienced rapid life changes and happenings quite consecutively.

In July we had our incredible wedding.

In October we purchased our first home. 

Also, in October – we found out our first baby (Baby Powell!) was on the way. 

The following 3 life happenings are fairly drastic changes that typically are spaced over spans of time. But, as we have all experienced at some point before – life happens! It also happens in the most beautiful and magical of ways (yes, I always have to sprinkle my pixie dust here & there when I get the opportunity).

Within the last few years of getting serious about personal finances, it was incredible how often I stumbled upon opinions and posts on home buying, weddings and kids that made me beyond nervous. I mean sweating bullets, palms sweaty (like Eminem in Lose Yourself) nervous. How financially these events take a toll, how expensive they all can be, the negative implications they have on your life, and how they have the potential to strip away your financial independence. Since I read so many pieces reflecting such opinions, I questioned all of the following and whether they were worth it over and over again.

But I had to take a step back and re-evaluate. I took a hiatus from this space. I went back to my true aspirations, roots, and shared conversations with my husband, family and friends.

Regardless of what our generation is spoon fed on the daily (‘Travel everywhere so you can finally discover yourself! and ‘Don’t follow the American Dream!’ or how about ‘Millennials will never have enough money for retirement!’) – I couldn’t help but wonder what if I actually want all the things they’re telling me not to do all along? What if I feel I can discover myself right where I live, in my community, in the comforts of my home? What if I feel financially responsible enough to spend while simultaneously saving for retirement? It’s as if most of these thought pieces and articles make you choose one or the other. You simply cannot have both. They are mutually exclusive.

I knew I wanted to have a wedding with the man of my dreams. I knew I wanted to purchase a home that could be filled with love and memories. I knew I wanted to have a kid (or kids).

Why do people keep saying these things are so wrong?!

That’s when doubt came in and I had to take a break. It was challenging to keep reading work that spoke so highly against what I have always dreamed while growing up. I understand the concepts of living your life by your own design, but sometimes that still includes some of the traditions of the past.

Maybe the idea of reaching financial independence at a young age isn’t exactly what I desire – but it surely doesn’t mean that I am being reckless with my finances either.

So I am here to share with you P.S.S. and that all of these wonderful life happenings: a wedding, a home, and a baby aren’t as a scary as you think. 

Do recognize this is my personal take on personal finances. I am thrilled if you prefer to make different decisions in life to reach your goals and aspirations, even if they aren’t parallel to mine. That’s the beauty of this all – what you choose is yours and yours alone. Don’t let anyone make you feel that what you want is wrong. 

I’ve learned an amazing amount about personal finances in the last 3 years, and there are certain foundations I have taken away to create a healthy financial balance with. One of the biggest foundations is P.S.S.:


P.lan

Even if your personality is not type A, planning is pivotal when it comes to personal finances. Plan to beef up that emergency fund, plan to take on a new venture or life happening with preparedness. Whether it’s jotting down goals, creating spreadsheets, tracking via an app, make sure to do something. If you do not have a plan getting from one point to the next will be an absolute cluster with no direction. The biggest aspect of planning is COMMUNICATION – with your partners, friends, significant others, and family. I cannot stress that one enough! Be open, transparent, and honest – or else you may end up in a completely different direction than intended. 

S.ave

We all know saving is of utmost importance, especially when most life events can be financially stretching. Now that you have a plan set in place, increasing your tool set (money, investments, etc.) will allow you to execute your plan as successfully as possible. Saving can be done in a variety of ways, and there is not one way that will work best for each and every person. Whether it’s setting up automatic transfers to your savings account, withdrawing cash to spend to allow you to save the rest, or monitoring your savings goal on an app tracker, establish great savings habits. 

S.pend

After the hard work is over, you’re now ready to spend. This becomes the most challenging part of P.S.S. at times. With hours of planning, and weeks, months, or even years of saving – it’s just plain hard to finally spend. This is the most important aspect of P.S.S. to get comfortable with. It took me awhile to be OK with spending. But once you get in the habitual cycle of P.S.S., your realize that it becomes a comfortable and natural flow of life. You find that you are never financially in a position that is uncomfortable. You plan accordingly, you save what you can, and you spend. Three things – that’s all I find it takes before stressing yourself out beyond measure. The biggest part of spending? If you have completed planning & saving – do not feel guilty about spending! That’s right, I’m giving you permission to not feel guilt about spending your money.


 

We planned and saved for our wedding by setting a budget and tracking on a spreadsheet and an app. We stuck to it and held ourselves accountable. We researched ways that we could decrease costs – whether it was DIY’ing decor, asking for help, searching Craigslist endlessly, or purchasing bulk roses from Costco. The ultimate goal was to have a day filled with love and family, and we accomplished that without going into debt.

We planned for our first home by saving up a significant down payment. We knew we would be ready and looking to buy when interest rates were incredibly low. We purchased a home that was less than HALF of what we were pre-approved for. We held steadfast to our goals and made sure to not even look at places that were out of reach. With shows on HGTV, Pinterest, and websites with beautiful homes – it’s a challenge to not get distracted. A plan helps you stick to what you can financially afford and realistically take on.

We planned and saved for our first baby by communicating (as heavily mentioned above). Both my husband and I had similar feelings on when we would be financially sound and ready to grow our family. We gathered information from friends, family, and from our workplaces on insurance, maternity / paternity leave policies, and overall advice. We also were prepared that timing isn’t always perfect – but being open to life with widespread arms allowed us to both feel confident and reassured.

Now that I have established the cycle of P.S.S., I revisit it often and confidently. Financially, I have never felt better – even with taking on some of the biggest decisions in life. I finally was able to overcome my fears of having a wedding, purchasing a home, and having a baby – and quite honestly, it just took establishing this 3 step process (yeah, I know – that sounds like one of those cheesy new year things). Now when it comes to money, there’s no worries or stress – it’s just P.S.S.

P.S.S. it’s not as scary as you think.

Advertisements

Limitless.

It’s not a surprise that throughout life we are taught in particular ways that could be deemed limiting. Categories, perceived roles and definitions allow us to separate confusion and chaos. Our upbringing, communities, relationships, and more can shape how we think, learn and grow.

Throughout my upbringing, limitations were present in a multitude of facets. For education, subject matter was contingent upon the schools and school districts I attended within the cities I lived. My friendships stemmed from family ties, neighborhoods and residences, the sports and clubs I participated in, and in the classroom. I trained in the art of dance, and choreography was taught in counts of 8 to memorize and practice our pieces for performances. For accomplishments (or everyday lifestyle happenings, like obtaining a drivers license or applying for a job), I filled in the blank accordingly for age, race, gender, GPA, and extra curricular activities. Media and entertainment observations depicted reoccurring themes: the jocks & preps were attractive and mainly played football, those who participated in theatre & arts were moody & misfits, and those who received straight A’s were valedictorians and received scholarships to prestigious universities & Ivy Leagues. As I am recounting these particular limitations of learnings in upbringing, I just happened to turn to the TV where the U.S. Olympic Games MINI USA #DefyLabels commercial played and concluded in front of my eyes. Even after 26 years of life there are still messages of how we are attempting to break the confines of labels and stereotypes. 

My upbringing was shaped by perpetual messages of what should be perceived as ‘right.’ Whether intentional, or not – it is important to address that these messages occurred. I do not necessarily perceive this in a negative manner, but sometimes it can be daunting to recognize how the following shaped pivotal years of growth.

Youth are impressionable. Those years prior to adulthood can shape your future incredibly. I was (and am) fortunate to have many family, mentors, teachers, and friends that allowed to me to challenge the status quo. Although, I wish that each day people could be surrounded by the optimism of Kid President – it’s not everyday that such rosiness surrounds you. In my youth, there were days that felt just outright, dang defeating. It felt that any time I attempted to change the mold beyond what people expected from me, I would feel almost an obligation to switch back to what was perceived as correct, proper, or successful to fit in.

I admit that I have felt limited to labels, roles and perceptions that others have seen of me. Even to this day I am challenged by what “success” actually truly means. 

In high school & college, I wanted desperately to reach independence and feel as if ‘I made it.’ I mean, that’s what it felt like I should do because I was exposed to that concept so often through multiple channels of communication in life. You make it, and you’re set for life.

I carried out the roles that were expected of me, because that’s just how life continued to flow without too much disruption. If I moved forward without upsetting the status quo then ‘the sky was the limit.’

There we go again. That word. Limit. Why has there been so much exposure to this concept of limitation? Why does even the sky have to be limit?

What if I want to bust through those clouds with mighty fists, shout from the galaxies, and STILL be able to fly high above while leaping through the cosmos? 

If the sky is the limit, then I cannot swirl and twirl in the beauty above.

So I am working on taking the concepts of limited and converting it to limitless. I am sidling up to breaking beyond the barriers of being limited to my labels.

Now don’t get me wrong – I am proud and feel empowered by (in no particular order) being a female, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, millennial, wife, writer, young professional, dancer, tech employee, etc. But what I am trying to convey is that if I am at the core and these identifications are stemming from me – these roles & labels are not limited to stopping at just that. I can take on a multitude of identifications beyond the standard perceptions. I can be a blog writer, and a craft beer lover. I can be an extrovert, who prefers to be introverted at particular moments. I can be on a career trajectory in one role that could make a 180 degree turn at any time. I can be a millennial that sometimes shares particular passions and hobbies as those from an older generation. I can be graceful and the biggest klutz you have ever known. All of my identifications can continue to radiate in varying degrees without being limited.  

A huge part of exercising the nature of limitless is turning within. I have come to understand the reflections of how people perceive me through my upbringing, but when I reflect upon myself – what do I see? How do I feel? Of course how people see me isn’t wrong, but I feel as if there are undiscovered jewels & truths within me that I need to uncover on my own. What’s glorious is that I can start now, and continue to do so for the rest of my years.

There is passion, creativity and qualities that are germinating within my heart and mind ready to be unearthed.

With each day I feel more capable than ever. It’s an empowering feeling to stay curious about what I have left to discover within. Knowing that life can be limitless allows for infinite room to continuously learn and grow.

I challenge you to take what you have felt limited by, and discover ways that those limitations can become limitless.

Have you ever felt limited by who you are, what your role is, or where you are at in life? How do you find ways to turn your identifications into becoming limitless? Let’s discuss in the comments below!

 

 

Reflections of a Break Well Spent

I am bombarded each & every day with things that compete for my interest. When I embark on this list below, I could imagine you will have a mental checking system of which ones are also incorporated into your life:

text messages – email – Slack – social media – advertisements – traffic – tweets – likes – swirling thoughts – task pings – notifications – calendar reminders – hunger – thirst – sleepiness – body temperature change – red lights – podcasts – breaking news – green lights – sneezing – breathing – work out routines – talking – shouting – music – hand waves – high fives – cash registers – and on…and on…and on.

Yes, this may be a random list. But I look at this list and I feel…off balance. I started to recognize that I expend a lot of my energy in multiple facets of life, and some days I forget to reflect on just….myself. That’s craziness.

This blog was a way to capture that reflection of self. I could look back on the entries and recount the journey of where I started, the progress I made, and where I was headed in my future. Attempting to detract all of the thoughts from my head (trust me, it’s a confusing place at times) and placing them in a coherent post was an advanced exercise that challenged me. The mere idea that I could connect with someone that I had never met in life on the other side of the globe captivated me. The people I could connect with on a different level of conversation after they read my posts was incredible.

When there was a void of these writing exercises during my hiatus, I tended to find myself lost down the paths of everything else that competed for my interest. I left barely any room, time, or space in my schedule to myself.

Don’t get me wrong – I would still find ways to increase my personal, professional & physical self. But check this out: when I work out, I still need music or a podcast running in the background. When I read, it’s usually in an environment where all sound is not drowned out. When I listen to music, I’m typically having to focus on another task at hand whether it’s driving, or digging into a project.

The one place I found where I could reflect the most on myself was after reaching a summit of a hike (thank you, Spencers and Skinners Butte). At the summit, all is quiet. Still. Calm. The blanket of nature enveloping you, while a slight breeze tantalizes just the surface of your skin.

Yet even at a summit, it is difficult to find a time to hike within my schedule where I will be sharing these moments with several other people who have the same idea to hike. Once you reach the top there is still music, chatter, dogs barking, and the lot.

Writing continues to be my place when I exercise a reflection of self.

Then comes in another obstacle – the creation of pressure to write as much content as I can possibly manage to maintain a schedule. Since writing is such a sacred endeavor (yes, it’s that powerful to me at times) – I felt this force placing much more weight on my shoulders. Another line item of a task to define myself as being worthy and qualified.

I also thought a lot about this on my hiatus. While I was maintaining GenerationYRA, one minute I would say: “Oh, I left my phone at home – I don’t need that!” Then the next, I was going down the worm hole of pressing link, after link. Post, after post. Comment, after comment. Drawn into that virtual reality world on either a phone, or a computer. I had this push pull of how much time I should actually spend on my site.

Now that I am going down this path, I get lost in the tumultuous terrain of feeling worthy. I am not ashamed to admit this vulnerability.

Somehow there happened to be this creation of a picturesque life where likes, view counts, filters, resume qualifications, followers, internships, volunteerism efforts, re-tweets, career titles and accomplishments define who we are.

These are just things. Things that somehow place people into a trophy case where life creates a facade of a rose colored lens all of the dang time.

Sure, the positive things in life and external reinforcements can be good things.

But who really are you?

Because YOU are you for the rest of your life.

You are not compared to all of those around you as much as you think. Most of that is just a mental battle.

If you were to shed away all of the social media reinforcements and gold stars…who would you be? How would you describe yourself? What drives you internally without external reinforcements?

And what about our failures?

People fail all. of. the. time.

And I am not just speaking of the high profile figures in the lime light, the actors, or reality TV stars, and the professional athletes that we read about in the news.

Regular people fail, but they are ashamed. Ashamed of the guilt, the fear, the conversations that are to follow. But I want to know about these people. I want to learn about the ‘average joes‘ because I can relate to them on an immense amount of levels.

Every experience creates a foundation for your next happening in life.

That happening can be positive, or negative.

Let’s not just rely on the halo that was created by everything else around us.

Okay Alyssa, it’s been awhile (over 3 months!) and you got me here reading this – what does this even have to do with personal finance?

I’m going to be real with you here. Absolutely, I was so incredibly busy I could not even fathom generating content for GenerationYRA.com. I started a new job, was planning a wedding with my fiance (it’s in July!), worked with a steering committee to put on the first ever Eugene Young Professionals Summit, continued to volunteer locally, and kept up with my family & friends. When I had any breathing minutes, or seconds I was committing to my site – and not so much to myself.

But here is one of the more vulnerable and challenging points to admit, especially when I attempt to maintain a positive space.

I was consumed.

Consumed by all things personal finance. It was on my mind literally…all of the time. I needed books, podcasts, blog posts, content, everything I could grip my hands on or listen to with my ears. I couldn’t get enough. It was almost maddening. I poked & prodded and forced conversations because I felt like people needed to talk about personal finance more. Instead of an organic learning process, I created forceful amounts of efforts so that I could ensure I would not fail with money.

I applauded myself for squandering away savings. I would sweat bullets any time I had to make a purchase at the cash register, or made my way to a check out page online. I gave myself literal headaches from stressing about every aspect of a future purchase. I frowned upon choices that were made because they were viewed as ‘reckless’ in terms of finances. I would toss and turn at night attempting to mentally calculate my accounts because I wasn’t checking them online, or through an app. I cried tears because after I would finally make a decision with money, I experienced regret because I felt I did the wrong thing. I spent countless minutes (maybe hours) checking my portfolios, personal finance apps, and mobile banking platform. I would purchase items in the most prudent manner, only to find that I ended up having to make repeat purchases because the quality was not there. I was incredibly focused on the future of my retirement, that I forgot what living in the present was truly supposed to feel like.

This is the ugly side of personal finance. The intense highs and lows of everything related to my money actions and thoughts were taking a toll on me.

Money can consume your thoughts even when you think you are making all the right decisions. Sometimes it can be a shock to the system when you focus on a particular thing for a positive change, that it inevitably ends up being a hinderance.

Of course, this is not the case or story for everyone. But I needed a break. I chose to focus on other areas of life, and slowly the stress began melting away.

And you know what happened during my hiatus?

All of my money decisions and habits remained the same. Except, instead of stressing about it all of the time – I let the positive habits take their course.

My automatic savings for investments continued to pull from my account bi-weekly. I still contributed to my future retirement accounts. I would still research purchases, but made decisions at a faster pace. I allowed myself to participate in more activities and events with my friends and family to celebrate the present – even if that meant higher dollar amounts than what I would normally intend to spend. If I actively made purchases in one area a bit higher, I automatically chose to decrease spending in another category.

My savings continued, my stressful thoughts decreased, and the positive personal finance habits I worked diligently to implement continued on auto-pilot.

I’d say that was one of the major highlights of my hiatus.

Because just like external reinforcements that sometimes prove our worthiness (likes, re-tweets, followers, etc.), money is also just that.

It’s an external reinforcement. It’s a tool. It is an extension to allow us to accomplish purchases, savings, basic human needs – but it is not a true extension of ourselves. (P.S. Jason Vitug does a wonderful job of explaining this in his book, You Only Live Once: The Roadmap to Financial Wellness and a Purposeful Life – I had to give him a plug, because the work he is doing is amazing).

Contrary to the previous depiction of the ‘American Dream’…people are becoming more intelligent to learn that tangible items, goods, and things do not make themselves as a person. Wealth & status will not always fulfill the void, create true happiness, or really define who you are. More and more people realize that even the most wealthy people will choose to drive a used car, live in a modest sized-house (or van!), and choose experiences over fancy items.

Money is a tool, and if someone were to strip it away from your possession – who are you as a person?

Who you were 10 years ago with either less, or more money does not change the true individual that you are today. Yeah, money may be able to allow you to take some trips, make some new purchases, increase your savings account – and I am not saying these are negative things…but if life was void of that, what could you say about yourself, the people, the experiences you have had if they were not influenced by money?

Be grateful. Stay humble. Smile with everything you’ve got. Invest in relationships.

These are things I love, and none of them have to do with money. The fact that I can exercise these four things with vivacious energy, and no cash/credit necessary truly makes me feel full of contentment.

I may have had to go to an extreme of taking a break from GenerationYRA to really discover these truths, but I think it was certainly for the best. At 26, I’ve got a lot of life to live, and a lot of wonderful people to share it with. I’ve got a lot of personal and professional development to experience, and growth that oftentimes comes from moments that do not require any form of monetization.

From now on, I will be using this space as a reflection of self on moments and life. I will still include elements of personal finance and money and how it intertwines with those experiences, but it will not be the sole focus of GenerationYRA. To start back up, I also will not have a regular posting schedule – this well help alleviate adding another item on the to-do list. It’s amazing how being on a break for 3 months makes me feel as if it’s going to take time to get back into this groove.

I understand this change may lose a certain portion of my readers & viewers – and that’s okay. You only have so many given minutes in the day and I encourage you to use them wisely. Invest in the places, the people & the content that you want to spend time on.

I just want to say a huge THANK YOU to every incredible individual that has been on this crazy journey with me (especially if you have been reading since the beginning!). To those I have had the gracious opportunity to meet in person, your conversations mean more than you know. Time, and time again I am blown away by the spatial areas of connections that the internet closes the gap on in the most positive of ways.

I’m still going to be around, don’t you worry! It just may look and sound a bit different around here. 🙂

Oh, and P.S. personal finance is still one of my jams. I will take you up on any conversation you would like to have either in the comments, via email, Skype, Twitter, Facebook, or any in-person conversation on any given day. I am still learning all the time, and that includes hearing from you!

It feels great to be back – thanks for reading, all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saying Hi to a Hiatus

Hey everyone, thanks for coming on by this week (despite the title you read and may be questioning).

I’m feeling a bit maxed out right now. Between a new job, planning a wedding, digging in with a steering committee to put on the first Young Professional Summit in Eugene before June, keeping up with family & friends, focusing on my health, and everything in between – there just comes a time you need to take a pause & breathe. 

Unfortunately, my energy needs to be put into particular aspects of my life that are happening soon with 100% focus and mental clarity. I have decided to say hi to a hiatus here at GenerationYRA.com.

I’ll be around on social media, so I’ll still be interacting! I just need to take some time from the blog before I run myself too thin. This is a balance I’ve been working to maintain since graduating from college. When I say “yes” to too many different things, I tend to lose balance within. 

I’ll be back soon – but ’till then, I’m going on a brief pause with content for the time being! 

Thank you all for your continued following & support – you all seriously rock. 

P.S. If you’re a young professional (ages 20-40) in the Eugene area, definitely consider coming to the first ever Young Professional Summit! A full day event set to inform, inspire, and get you involved. Check out www.eugeneypsummit.com, or find us on facebook, twitter, and instagram. I’ll be looking forward to seeing you there! 


 

10 Innovative Personal Finance Tips

We see articles often about the most innovative companies, the most innovative technology, the most innovative fitness routines…why not the most innovative money tips?


One thing I really dig about personal finance is consistency. There are many teachings & rules that were true in the past that are still applicable today. You really can’t doubt him when Warren Buffet states:

“Do not save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after saving.”

Buffet is now 85 years old and is worth $61.8 billion dollars. Whoa. 

I had to take a minute to let that sink in again…

When you start to read & learn more about personal finance, you start to recognize patterns. Lot’s of them. This is great though! Repetition really allows you to learn about a subject that may seem like completely unfamiliar terrain. Unfortunately, if we are not exposed to personal finance teachings in our youth we have to play an immense amount of catch-up in our adulthood.

Since personal finance is personal, someone’s exact way of earning, saving, spending, etc. will vary from what is applicable to my lifestyle & situation. What I enjoy doing is pulling methods, tips & tricks from several sources – then from there applying them to my personal finances to discover what works best for me (I’ll take this tip from Buffet, this method from the So Money podcast, this power tool from this career maven, this quote from this literary novel). I like this approach, because it allows me to tweak & experiment. It also allows me to re-evaluate different options and determine whether they will work best for me now, or in the future.

As you could imagine, pulling from various sources creates some pretty unconventional ways to approach personal finance. I like to lend this to the idea that people are becoming seriously creative when approaching their money matters (thank you, internet for the information sharing age). Sometimes we seek different, unique, fresh tips that aren’t quite the usual that we can pull from books that have been published in 1949 (i.e. The Intelligent Investor). Don’t get me wrong, I love the tried & true – but let’s peep some 10 innovative personal finance tips:

1. Trade in all your school index cards for index funds

Still have some leftover index cards you made in school either to study for that one midterm, or practice for that speech you needed to do for intro to public speaking? Trade them on in for investing in index funds! For long term investment strategy, this is the way to go. Now there’s actually an excuse to be passive with your money, rather than when you had to be aggressive with your studying. 😉

2. If you invest online through a platform, don’t even download the app to your phone 

It’s no surprise that mobile usage has surpassed that of desktop internet use. With the market going haywire, you’re going to be severely tempted to check how your portfolios are doing. Why not make it that much harder to check them by not even resorting to checking them through an app on your phone. You probably spend less time with your desktop/laptop at home than you do with your phone. Save yourself the sanity & stick to your long term investment strategy by spending less time panicking.

2. Create a vision board of what your life in retirement will look like

People find it challenging to save for something that is so far in the future, why not just give in to instant gratification? Try to put the future into reality. Whether you want to go to pencil & paper, or create a virtual Pinterest board – use your creativity to develop what you would like your retirement to hold. Some questions to consider to develop this board: What will you look like? Who will you be spending your time with? What will you be doing? Where will you be traveling to? This exercise will allow you to turn the illusion of retirement to reality, and encourage you to save now for the later. 

3. Be so busy, you unintentionally have no-spend days/weeks

Okay, this one’s awesome. Usually when it comes to exercising no-spend days/weeks you have to focus very hard. I mean, so hard, that your concentration breaks and you just end up binge spending (then you feel guilty, and start the cycle again on your 2nd/3rd/4th attempt). This is where you get involved, be active, stay busy, get outside, just be – that you don’t have time to give in to that email that states “HEY SITE-WIDE SALE,” or are alone and feel susceptible to the whims of making expensive impulse purchases. Connect with yourself & connect with other people, and spending money just slips on the priority list.

4. Treat bear markets like they’re the biggest sale event ever

Forget black friday! When it’s a bear market, think of it like it’s one of the greatest sale events ever. You now have access to purchasing high quality stocks at affordable prices. No more wasting money on unnecessary items that you will more than likely lose interest in a few months down the road. Now, I’m certainly not one to chase hot stocks & gains – but if you haven’t gotten into the market, this would be a great time to do so.

5. High five your friend, partner, family member, neighbor when you hear something awesome about personal finance

Whether they told you they just saved enough money for a goal they’ve been working on, increased their credit score, chose not to give in to a crazy purchase, or learned about a new thing in terms of personal finance – give them a high five!! The more positive we can be about personal finance, the more encouraged people will become to make smart money decisions. It’s not often that someone wants to turn down a high five…(and if they do, well that’s just a bummer).

6. A Netflix binge isn’t the worst thing in the world

I can’t help it. Sometimes I can’t believe I’ve seen that screen “Are you still watching ____(insert show title here)____?” more than a few times on a Friday night. But you know what, staying in with some friends or a significant other isn’t really all that bad when it prevents you from exceeding your dining out budget for the month, spending way too much on a tab at the bar, or blowing cash on surged Uber prices. Every now & again, a night in really hits the spot. Not to mention, you can purchase a 6-pack of craft beer, make an incredible dinner at home, and even have some dessert all for less than half than the activities out mentioned above.

7. Pick a dance move. Now, do it (physically, or in your head) every time you did something awesome with your money

This tip is definitely inspired by all the *virtual dance parties* I’ve shared with Our Next Life, Goodnight Debt, Maggie at Northern Expenditure, and so many others. By picking a dance move, you can reinforce positive money habits that you create for yourself. Some examples of when I dance: when I up my savings rate, when I see my credit score increase, when I rack up more points for using my credit card responsibly, when I find a killer deal by doing research on a purchase before I buy. Now…LET’S DANCE!

8. I-n-d-e-p-e-n-d-e-n-t, do you know what means?

I am blown away, because there are so many ways to determine independence now in life – and finances are no exception. We’ve got independent finances, shared finances,  co-mingled but also separate finances, you name it. Yet when it comes to all of these forms, they can all mean independence to different people. Determine what independence means to you – and find a way to make yourself financially free. That way, you aren’t just relying on one income source to pull you through. (P.s. points for whoever just go that song reference). 

9. Hack your way to a better deal

There are so many ways to research & determine how you can get a better deal on all the future purchases you need to make. Get to the point where it becomes second nature to hack your way to a better deal. Craigslist, buying slightly-used, garage sales, coupon/promo websites, recognizing the cycles of when particular items are deeply discounted – once you have all these down, getting the deal you want when you make a purchase will be as simple as a *snap, snap.*

10. Listen up. 

You may not think this tip is innovative – but hear me out (ha, get it? – OK moving on..). The art of listening is becoming tricky nowadays. More often than not we are distracted by advertisements, updates, text messages, apps, overflowing email inboxes, alerts, etc. When you take some time away from the following and really tune into your environments, you will learn several golden nuggets. When it comes to personal finance, a lot of it is applicable to the place you live, the people you surround yourself with, and the environments you choose to spend time in. Listen up – because everyone around you has something to teach and you may miss those golden opportunities to learn.


What innovative tips do you have for personal finance? Have you tried any of the above? Only stick to the tried & true rules?

The $5 Million Dollar Ponder

Oh yes, Super Bowl 50 is now over & done (at the point you are reading this)…and at this given point in time (Saturday evening, February 6th) I have not the slightest idea whether the Broncos, or the Panthers have taken the win. Quite frankly, I am more of a college sports gal – but it’s fun to watch the Super Bowl with the other 114.4 million viewers out there in the U.S. (based of the statistics from last year here)….


The year is 2016 – and guess how much the price was for a 30 second Super Bowl ad?

$5 MILLION DOLLARS.

Let’s just let that sink in for a bit (and check out this article here if you were wondering where this fact came from). I mean c’mon, that’s 5 times the amount that Dr. Evil said with dramatic effect in Austin Powers (but if we’re getting technical, significantly less than his “$100 billion dollars” shout out…).

Some of us may not even see/acquire that much money in a lifetime. Yet, here we’ve got companies able to just drop $5 mill. for 30 seconds of America’s time. Thank goodness most people have enough of an attention span to last that given amount of time?

For most of us, Super Bowl commercials come & go. We may review them in our Marketing lectures in college. It used to be I was straight up entertained by any & all Super Bowl commercials. When I think back on it, one of the only commercials that really sticks out in my mind is when a young boy dressed like Darth Vader using ‘the force’ turns on a new Volkswagen Jetta that’s sitting in the driveway (when secretly, his Dad is turning on the car from inside the house – if you don’t remember this commercial, check it out here). It’s incredible to me that this commercial aired in 2011, that was 5 years ago! Did it make me want to buy a Jetta? Nope, not one bit. Yet the cleverness, the targeted audience of Star Wars lovers, and the emotional appeal behind the commercial was very captivating.

Now, ads are just…interesting.

By the way, thanks Mountain Dew…for spending $5 million (?) to get “Puppy Monkey Baby” stuck in my head for all of eternity (insert straight faced emoji here because I’ve already laughed enough at the initial shock of watching the creepiness of the ad).

Instead of gluing my eyes to the TV during commercial breaks, I’m typically getting up to refill my plate of delicious snacks, grabbing a new refreshment, or any other random act that makes me turn/walk away. But then it struck me…the $5 million dollar ponder:

If I had a 30 second ad that I paid $5 million dollars for, what would I show to the 114.4 million viewers out there?

  • Would it be for a fancy new gadget, or a brand new blender that can miraculously chop up anything you put into it?
  • Would it be for a brand new delicious craft beer I took a liking to, or a piece of technology that enhanced my quality of life?
  • Would it show me grabbing the keys to a new house, or a vacation of a lifetime?
  • Would it be for a brand new exercise that’s changed my life, or a new lotion that has all the anti-aging ingredients that you could possibly put into one bottle?

No. None of those things at all. But I could imagine that you could rattle off thousands of commercials that feature the following.

You know what I would show in those 30 seconds?

An elapsed timeline of all the hugs & smiles I’ve ever shared with people in my lifetime.

Now before you hit the “X” in the top right corner because you’re thinking “Man this girl is crazy...” hear me out. All of the hugs & smiles I’ve shared in my lifetime are worth every bit of those $5 million dollars. In fact, they would be worth even more than $1 billion dollars.

Now, I know I am only one viewer/consumer – but when it comes to advertisements the one’s that capture me are the ones that have emotional appeal. You show me a story completely unrelated to your product but that pulls at my heart strings, you’ve captured my attention. Also, think about how many of these emotional appeal advertisements are captivating to a universal audience?

That’s where smiles & hugs come in. 

A vast majority of people can relate to the following two categories. Think about all the bear hugs, embraces, radiating smiles, sheepish grins, etc. that you’ve experienced in your lifetime. They are absolutely priceless (Ok, so maybe this seems more like a Mastercard ad…), but I am not trying to sell a credit card here. I’m just trying to evoke a feeling. The feeling that comes bursting at the seams, or should I say the experience of “all the feels” when we give/receive a hug, or smile. Recall all of the special connections and people in your life that you’ve shared these particular moments in life with. In the future, it would be amazing to see that type of highlight reel.

That to me, is beyond worth $5 million dollars…even if it is just for 30 seconds.


If you paid $5 million for a 30 second Super Bowl ad, what would you share? I can’t wait to hear in the comments below!

Hello, From The Investing Side

Today I’m writing  a rendition of Adele’s “Hello” to highlight the craziness of the stock market at the start of 2016, and how sticking to a long-term investment strategy will pay off in the long run. 

tune out, invest on (1)

P.S. If you’re looking for additional content posts on investing, check out these great ones from the archives at the links below:

Overcoming The Fear of Investing

Rockin’ With Robinhood

I Triple Dog Dare You To Not Touch Your Tax Refund

So We Did It…We Met With An Investment Advisor

Thank You Very Much, Mr. Robo-Advisor


Hello stock market, it’s me

I was wondering if after these years of investing you’d like to keep

Going over every fee

They say that time in the market’s supposed to heal ya

But I ain’t seeing much in the green

Hello, stock market can you hear me?

I’m lying on the couch dreaming about my retirement, you see

When I’m older and living free

I’ve forgotten how it felt to invest before my dollars began to leak

There’s such a difference between last year

And thousands of dollars…

Hello from the investing side

I must have deposited a thousand times

To tell you I’m ready to gain an average return

But when I look at my portfolio it doesn’t seem to have grown

Hello from the investing side

At least I’m going to keep on trying

To tell you I’m not stopping from investing in you

What matters is I continue even if you aren’t making returns, like before

Hello, how’s oil?

It’s so typical to hear this all over the news, I’m sorry

I hope that you start to do swell

Will you ever make it out of the red where no-one feels like retirement can happen?

And it’s no secret that the both of us

Know that time is on our side

So hello from the investing side

I must have deposited a thousand times

To tell you I’m ready to gain an average return

But when I look at my portfolio it doesn’t seem to have grown

Hello from the investing side

At least I’m going to keep on trying

To tell you I’m not stopping from investing in you

What matters is I continue even if you aren’t making returns, like before

Like before…


Alright, everyone – you’ve got this! We’re in it for the long term. Even though the start of 2016 has been pretty rough for the stock market, try to turn away & tune out the madness. An average return of 8% over the long term is much better than allowing your cash to sit idle underneath the mattress (where inflation takes away the value of your hard earned dollars). Diversify your portfolios, hold to your strategy, and remember that time is your biggest asset. 

What are you doing to keep calm, and invest on? Does it involve rewriting silly lyrics to well-known songs? Let me know your strategies below!

 

Financially Audacious Series: Alexander at Cash Flow Diaries

I don’t know about you, but 2016 has already been pretty incredible so far. Are you feeling it, too?! I could imagine you’ve all been enjoying time with family & friends, have been receiving some great R&R, and happen to be kick-starting the New Year just as you anticipated.

Financially Audacious Alexander

I’m so excited to give you the first Financially Audacious installment for the year 2016 featuring Alexander from Cash Flow Diaries! First, a little about Alexander:

Alexander created his blog Cash Flow Diaries to track this journey to financial freedom.  His primary investment vehicle to reach this independence is through investing in real estate rental properties.   Currently averaging about $2,000 in monthly passive income he hopes to at least quadruple that figure so that he can one day surpass his W-2 Income.

You can follow Alexander and his Cash Flow Diaries here:

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/CashFlowDiaries

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/cashflowdiaries

Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/cashflowdiaries/

LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/cashflowdiaries

Check out Alexander’s answers to his Financially Audacious interview & engage in the comments below!


Tell us about where you’re from. What’s it like, do you want to stay there, how does where you live affect your personal finances?

Hi Alyssa,  First of all I would like to say thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to be interviewed as part of the Financially Audacious Interview series.  It’s a great idea and view point to see how other financially savvy investors are building the dream to retire early and reach financial independence.

I am originally from the east coast (Washington DC metro area) where i grew up and lived the majority of my life however for the past 12 years I have been living in Austin, TX.  Austin is a super cool, vibrant and hip city and moving here was definitely one of the best decisions I have made in my life. When I first moved here, the city was not nearly as vibrant as it is today and more importantly, the real estate market was cheap and very affordable. Opposite of what it is today in fact. I was able to purchase my first primary house at the age of 24 and have since bought 2 more houses in this area. To date I own 3 properties in the Austin, TX area and they have proven to be the foundation to my investment strategy. After realizing that money and more importantly, “cash flow” could be made from investing in these properties I decided to concentrate the majority of my efforts building a mini real estate empire.

Where I live has definitely impacted my strategy because as the city (Austin) and real estate market grew, I could no longer find cash flowing properties to invest in. This problem caused me to switch my strategy which now involves purchasing rental properties out of state where the real estate markets are still very affordable and where there are great cash flow opportunities to be made. The last 4 houses I have purchased have been in the mid western united states, Indianapolis and Kansas City.  I find these cities to be great for finding cash flowing properties at very affordable prices. They both have steadily increasing populations, vibrant economies and overall seem to be a great place to live.

I have however fallen in love with Austin so I do not see myself leaving here in the foreseeable future. I really love the music scene and the activities/events that the city has. It’s a never ending supply of entertainment and fun!

Financial freedom is what you’re working towards. Tell us about what financial freedom means to you.

Financial freedom is definitely one of the most important priorities in my life right now outside of building a family and living a great life.  To me, financial freedom is about having the means to live my current lifestyle without having the obligation to work a normal job. My dream is to eventually quit my day job and live off of passive income streams. Imagine being able to do whatever you want, whenever you want and where ever you want? Sounds pretty awesome doesn’t it? I think I can pull this off if I continue my path and I look forward to the day I reach my goal. When this will happen I do not know however the sooner the better!!

What are the ways you plan on reaching your financial freedom?

My main strategy to reach financial freedom will be to generate anywhere from $8,000 to $10,000 in monthly passive income streams. For now, rental properties seem to give me the most bang for my buck and ultimately I would like to own anywhere between 12 and 15 houses. However if I find other means of generating income or cash flow then I will surely take advantage of that. I have recently been keeping my eye on wall street around what is going on in the precious metals (gold, silver) sector. These metals are currently trading at 5 year lows and on a 30 year chart, they appear to be at or nearing a bottom peak. This is very interesting to me because at some point which I believe will be in 2016 sometime, there will be a bull market rally on this sector in which it will payoff nicely for investors who buy during these peak lows. Buying at peak lows like this and selling at peak highs is what has made people millionaires playing the stock market. Risky yes, but I feel that it is a calculated risk with huge potential. With that being said, I may find myself dabbling in this sector in the near future hoping for big payouts in the years to come. Sounds kind of crazy right? Its definitely a speculation and appreciation play for the not so faint of heart.

But knowing me, I like to think of myself as a bit on the wild side and willing to be risky for high rewards! I would not recommend this to anyone reading this as something you should do to plan for your financial freedom.

Are you on track with your mapped out plan, and what accomplishments have you already made towards your financial freedom goals?

I would say that I am definitely on track with my mapped out plan as I currently have 6 investment properties all generating income for me. In November alone I was able to make $2400 in income from these properties and that is no small feat! One cool thing about my strategy though is that I pretend that money is not even there, I only live off of my day job income and put away all my investment income. Any income received is being used to put right back into my strategy of investment properties whether its using the money to cover vacancies, repairs and any other expenses that may arise from owning rentals. By doing this, it puts me on an aggressive timeline to build as fast as possible and I love the idea of reaching financial freedom as fast as possible. I even save money from my day job to invest which gives it an added boost!

How do you stay motivated to continue towards financial freedom?

Honestly, I created Cash Flow Diaries to keep me motivated and it has been working for me. I publicly disclose all my finances, net worth, rent income and all my accounts on my blog for the world to see. By doing this, it is definitely keeping me motivated to stay on the right track and continue growing. I think its super cool to track it online and see my progress. Before the blog, I was never really keeping track of my finances.

Another huge motivator for me is just the fact that I like to consider myself a free spirit. I have always been one to want to do whatever I want and not have to rely or adhere to anyone. It boggles my mind that the majority of the world has succumbed to living like rats wandering through a never ending maze that leads to no where. Ha! Okay that is a little extreme but Im sure you are well aware of the “rat race” and how most of us are living like this. Waking up at the same time every single day, driving to the same place and doing the same thing over and over again for a lifetime is a nightmare life to me and I want nothing more to get out of this. 🙂   Obviously this can not be achieved unless your finances are in order. Which is where I believe passive income is the way out!

Who have been your biggest supporters/mentors along this journey?

Sadly, I had no one show me the ropes on what I am doing. I started out a scared little boy buying real estate without having a clue what I was doing and got lucky on my first deal. Since then, it has been a matter of just reading and reading and reading on every aspect of real estate investing I could find. As of the past few years though, my lovely girlfriend has been very supportive of what I am doing and she is very happy for me. I have big plans with her for 2016 which could change a few things up regarding my investing strategy. In a good way of course! 😉

Let us in on some of your tips that could help with financial goals.

Ahh, don’t we all love tips!  Tips are great and my advice to you would be to stick with it, learn and read everything you possibly can on the endeavor you are looking to get into and then jump in head first! Its a little daunting sometimes when you are just starting out but I can tell you that sitting on the sidelines is not going to let you reach financial freedom.   Nothing will be handed to you and you need to go out and grab what you want.

Give us one quote/song lyric/anecdote that you like to live by.

A great quote that sticks out to me is by Dorothy Thompson and it goes:

“Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.”

It is a great quote because I was afraid to get into real estate investing and sat on the sidelines for a few years before I ever decided to pull the trigger. Now I only wish I jumped on it sooner. Fear is a powerful emotion that could prevent you from falling in love, reaching new heights and even prevent you from personal growth. Don’t let fear hold you down!!


Thanks, Alexander for stopping by! Head on over to Cash Flow Diaries to check out more of Alexander’s story & how he’s accomplishing his financial goals.

Have any questions for Alexander? Ask  away in the comments below!