P.S.S. it’s not as scary as you think

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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.

The $5 Million Dollar Ponder

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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!

Malleable Money Mindset

Malleable Money Mindset

At age 5…

I didn’t quite know that money was even real. Life consisted of hanging out at the playground on the monkey bars during recess & learning to share brightly colored Crayola crayons with my classmates. Life just happened, and innocence carried all of us youngins’ along.

At age 10…

I surpassed the years of experiencing that it’s ‘great to be 8,’ and it’s ‘fine to be 9.’ Those years didn’t quite phase me anymore because I reached the big ol’ double digit ages. I couldn’t wait to become a teenager with a beeper on my hip, and take on a J-O-B. I completed chores around the house to earn an allowance from my parents. Most purchases were trinkets, toys, and posters to decorate my room (because boy bands were sooo dreamy).

At age 15

I landed my first job in high school. Wait, scratch that – two jobs! I finally hit that high responsibility phase I dreamed of when I was younger. I was earning my own money & learning the fundamental basics of how to utilize my checking & savings account. No credit cards yet, just a single debit card. Most of my money went to gas (to get to and from my jobs, as well as school) and well, let’s face it…shopping with my girl friends (especially on pay days).

At age 20... 

So this is what it’s like to live on a tight budget. Forget the fact that just one college credit was pretty much the cost of $150+. I had about $20 left in my account from my internship stipend that could help me go out to dinner with my friends! Savings…yeah, that just wasn’t an option. I was just coasting. Money responsibility was potentially the last thing on my mind next to studying, passing classes, internships/jobs, and participation in organizations.

At age 25

Time to kick it into high gear financially, and the main person who is going to make that change is me. For the first time ever I have a real world job with a salary offering more money than I have ever seen before. I’m experiencing what benefits are and what it’s like to start funding a retirement plan. After I paid off my student loans, I started jumping into the world of investing. There is so. much. to learn regarding finances it can be overwhelming, but I’m ready to build a strong foundation for the rest of my life, my family’s lives, my loved one’s lives, and even stranger’s lives.


The following five year increments throughout my life so far depict my evolving thoughts around money. A great deal may have happened in between, but the principals between each step of life continued to change. I was never stagnant, or stuck with the way I viewed my financial situation. I may have witnessed hard times (2008 recession), or glorious ones (the opportunity to work two jobs simultaneously)…

but the one element that was constant regarding my view on money was change. 

Each one of us can foster a malleable money mindset. Our mindsets can be pliable, without facing the threat of being broken. They are flexible and ever-changing. When doubt settles in because debt feels as if it is swallowing us whole, or we’ve experienced a job loss, endured a life changing event, received an unexpected windfall, or maybe even won the lottery…we have the ability to restructure our money mindset. How we view money now can indefinitely change and be refocused.

Life will not be painful forever. Times may not always be glorious. How we take on life situations with grace and certainty will allow us to progress to each new phase building upon our money mindset. So how would you like your money money mindset to be?

Is it a positive one where you can tackle all of your financial goals, and lead a life of financial independence?

Is it a strong one where you can provide for those around you because putting others before yourself does not phase you one bit?

Is it a peaceful one where solace allows you to accomplish your passions without stress? 

Whatever, or however you choose for your money mindset to be…just know it is a malleable one. Regardless of where you have been, or where you are going it can feasibly change. Begin now. Allow yourself to have a malleable money mindset that will allow you to accomplish your life goals and aid those around you.

What is your money mindset like? How has it evolved over time? How do you think your money mindset will change in the future?