Category Archives: Money Management

ABLE to Work Shelters More Money From Asset Tests

In honor of Autism Acceptance Month, Femme Frugality will be hosting a series of Wednesday articles that focus on the financial challenges and triumphs that Autistic poeple face and achieve. While this series is for Autism Acceptance Month, the following information applies to everyone with a disability diagnosed before age 26. Any dollar amounts referenced are for the 2020 tax year.

If you have a disability, the state often disallows you from doing things like building an emergency fund. They prevent you from doing so via asset tests.

Asset tests can prevent you from getting anything from SNAP benefits to Medicaid access.

Luckily, you can get around this asinine hindrance by keeping your money in an ABLE account — a 529 account which shelters your savings from asset tests. An ABLE account also allows your money to grow tax fee.

Qualified withdrawals from ABLE accounts are quite generous compared to a typical 529 account; you can pull money out for anything related to the disabled person’s life without penalty.

The amount you can save in an ABLE account annually is typically limited. But some employed adults can almost double these limits due to legislation called ABLE to Work.

How much can you normally save in an ABLE Account?

Typically, you can save $15,000/year in an ABLE account. Anyone can contribute towards this $15,000 max. It doesn’t matter if it’s you saving, or family and friends contributing towards your account.

How much extra can you save with ABLE to Work?

ABLE to Work is legislation that allows disabled adults with a job to stow away a little extra cash every year.

If you work a job and have an ABLE Account in your own name, you can save over the $15,000 limit with this legislation.

“The contribution limits for ABLE accounts and rules around ABLE accounts are determined by IRS codes,” explains Tricia Rosen of Access Financial Planning.

“The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 made significant changes to ABLE accounts. It’s important to keep in mind the provisions of TCJA are only effective through December 31, 2025 at this time.”

So just how much extra can you save with the temporary TCJA changes under ABLE to Work?

That depends on how much you bring in.

Technically, you can save up to the federal poverty line. Right now, that’s an additional $12,490 if you’re in the contiguous US. In Hawaii, the limit is $14,380. In Alaska, it’s $15,600.

If you don’t make that much per year through your job, you can’t put that much in. The max you’re allowed to put in is up to your total annual earnings — as long as those earnings are below the federal poverty line where you live.

What’s the catch?

Yes, there is a catch.

You can only save the extra ABLE to Work amount if you do not participate in an employee-sponsored retirement plan.

Technically, defined contribution plans disqualify you. You might have a defined contribution plan if:

  • The savings burden is put on you as an employee rather than guaranteed by your employer — even though the plan is offered by an employer.
  • The amount you will have to withdraw in retirement is dependent upon your individual savings within this retirement account — combined with market performance.

Some common examples of defined contribution plans that would disqualify you from saving more with ABLE to Work include:

  • 401(k)
  • SEP IRA
  • 403(b)
  • 457(b)

Pension plans don’t count.

However, if you have a defined benefit plan through your employer — such as a pension — you qualify. You will be allowed to save the additional sum every year through ABLE to Work.

At least through 2025.

What if I have an ABLE Account across state lines?

What happens if you live in North Dakota but open an ABLE account from the state of Alaska?

Or live in Hawaii but open an ABLE account from the state of Iowa?

The additional amount you’re allowed to save is entirely dependent on your state of residence — not the state that administers your ABLE account.

That means the North Dakota resident is only allowed to save an additional $12,490. Even if they have an ABLE account from Alaska.

The Hawaii resident, however, would be allowed to save up to an additional $14,380. Even though their plan comes from Iowa in the contiguous United States.

What is the total amount you can save with ABLE to Work?

In 2020, the max allowable contributions including ABLE to Work are:

  • Contiguous US: $27,490
  • Hawaii: $29,380
  • Alaska: $30,600

Remember that if you earn less than the federal poverty line in any given year, your max allowable contribution amount will be less than the maxes available under ABLE to Work.

Additional Tax Benefits of ABLE to Work Act

The ABLE to Work Act — embedded in the TCJA — also allows you to count your first $2,000 of savings in an ABLE account towards the Savers Credit. This credit is typically reserved only for select retirement accounts. But until 2025, ABLE accounts make the cut.

As an individual tax filer, the max credit you could get would be $1,000 if you saved at least $2,000 in an eligible account. The amount doubles if you’re married and your spouse is doing the same thing.

This credit — which can be up to $1,000 — is non-refundable.

Non-refundable credits mean that if you owe the government $0, you can’t cash out the rest of your credit. It can reduce your tax, but it won’t get you cash in your pocket in and of itself.

529 rollovers are temporarily allowed. Well, kind of.

Many families can now also rollover funds from 529 accounts into an ABLE account, but they do have to meet certain requirements.

The real buzzkill on the 529 rollover change is that when you roll the funds over, they count as contributions for the year. So if you rolled over $15,000, you’d be able to contribute $0 more to your child’s ABLE account that year.

ABLE vs SSI Requirements

When your ABLE account exceeds $100,000 in total assets, it will start counting towards SSI asset tests. The max amount you can save in your account total varies by state.

It’s also important to note that SSI requirements are different from ABLE account requirements. SSI runs off of rules set by the SSA while ABLE is in the domain of the IRS. There may be instances where maxing out your ABLE account is detrimental to SSI or other state-administered benefits.

Always be careful to protect your benefits.

ABLE accounts are a great tool and a step in the right direction, but they do not solve all of the systemic financial obstacles the disability community faces.

4 Ways to Fund Emergency Medical Expenses

This post is brought to you and contributed by an outside writer.

Life can be unpredictable and situations can arise that totally throw us off — even those of us who’ve planned for the unexpected.

If you’ve recently experienced an unexpected emergency medical situation that you now have to find a way to pay for, you might be wondering what your options are when it comes to covering the cost. Especially if you’ve recently used your emergency fund for something else.

Take a look at four ways you can fund unexpected emergency medical situations.

1. Earn Some Extra Cash

If you can, find a way to earn some extra cash to cover your emergency medical expenses. These days, there are tons of ways to make money without any experience, such as delivering fast food with Door Dash, Uber Eats, Grub Hub, or Post Mates. You could also deliver groceries with companies like Shipt or Instacart.

Note: During the pandemic, you may decide it makes more sense to take care of your health and not participate in these service-based hustle opportunities.

Or you could complete tasks from your laptop with sites like Task Rabbit, sell on Etsy, walk dogs with Rover, babysit with Care.com, become an online tutor, or rent out a spare bedroom on Airbnb.

Find something you’d be comfortable with to start earning the money you need to cover your medical expenses.

2. Take Out a Personal Loan

Taking out a personal loan is another way to go if you check all three of these boxes:

  • You’re unable to earn extra money.
  • You can’t ask a family member.
  • You’ve got a decent credit score.

Personal loans are not the same as payday loans, which you should avoid. Payday loans are considered predatory and come with jaw-droppingly higher interest rates than traditional personal loans.

Instead, if you must borrow money, turn to a personal loan from a trusted lender. It helps to compare rates (and other factors) from various lenders before you make a decision on where to get your loan funds. That way you know you’re getting the lowest rate possible.

3. Get an Emergency Credit Card

Using an emergency credit card can help you cover unforeseen medical expenses like emergency room visits or unexpected surgeries. If you don’t already have a credit card for emergencies, consider applying for one from a reputable company like USAA. With a USAA credit card, get 2 percent cashback on your first $3,000 you spend on groceries every year.

You’ll also get up to 1.5 percent unlimited cash back on all of your other purchases — including your medical bills. There’s also no annual fee and no penalty APR.

You will have to pay interest, though, as with any credit card. So think long and hard about using one to pay your medical bills. If you can’t afford to pay it off by the end of the month, you could end up paying more in interest than if you had just set up a payment plan with the hospital.

4. Ask for a Payment Plan

Emergency room costs can get as high as $20,000 or more, depending on what you’re being treated for. If you can’t use any of the above methods, consider asking your medical service provider if they can put you on a payment plan so that you can pay off your balance over time.

Ask about financial assistance programs, too, because nonprofit hospital systems are legally required to provide them under the ACA. The income limits may be higher than you think; you should always apply even if you don’t think you’re poor.

Considering Your Options

The above information can keep help you cover unforeseen emergency medical situations that might arise. Figure out which options work best for you and get the process started as soon as possible.

How to Negotiate Your Rent

There’s this super cute meme that makes rounds every once in a while.

It has a different woman looking all tough in the background every time it makes an appearance, but it has the same words almost verbatim every time:

You’re asking if I can negotiate my fees? Yeah, sure, honey, let me just go see if my landlord will negotiate my rent.

I get the point – on a month-to-month basis in the middle of a twelve-month contract, you can’t negotiate the rent with your landlord. And you need to pay your bills so you shouldn’t give discounts to everyone who asks for them when you’re a service-based business.

BUT

I always walk away from that meme asking myself,

How do people not know they can negotiate their rent?

Because here’s the thing: Rent is totally negotiable.

You just have to know when and how to do it.

Know Your Landlord

The type of landlord you have determines what kind of negotiations you can expect to be successful. Whether you’re negotiating one-on-one with a landlord who owns a couple properties or with a large complex, there are ways to pursue the biggest bang for your buck through negotiation.

You can usually negotiate directly with individual landlords or property managers.

Negotiating your rent is going to be easiest with an individual landlord. Though you may also have success with a property manager who takes care of the rental for an individual landlord.

In these negotiations, you’re most likely to be able to reduce the dollars you pay in rent every month.

You can ask for discounts and insights from office staff at larger rental complexes.

If you are dealing with a landlord at a larger rental complex, it doesn’t hurt to try to negotiate the actual rent. But you are less likely to have success.

Instead, talk to someone in the main office. See if there are any discounts available. For example, a certain credit score might get your security deposit reduced. If you move in during a specific month you might get your first month for free. If you have a larger blended family and they want you in the door, maybe you could get more guests added to your pool pass.

You’re more likely to be able to negotiate perks and amenities with larger complexes than the actual rent. It’s going to be more about making friends at the front office and getting them to let you in on the discounts and hacks that already exist within the system they have established for their new tenants.

By all means attempt to respectfully negotiate rent. Especially if you’re negotiating at your lease renewal. But do expect a lower ratio of success than if you try to negotiate monthly payments with an individual landlord.

Know What You Can Afford

Before you go into negotiations, you need to know how much you can afford. Traditionally, it is recommended that your rent and housing expenses take up no more than 25%-30% of your monthly budget.

However, given the housing crisis which continues to afflict this country and the stagnation of wages in America over the past several decades, there’s rarely a way for the average American household to stay within the 25%-30% range and still have safe and healthy housing – especially in urban areas.

Because traditional advice is so broken and incongruent with our lived realities, you’re going to have to figure out what you can afford on your own. If you don’t yet have a budget, you can get a free month of budgeting software for an assist.

You’re probably going to have a hard time sticking within the 25%-30% rule, but you do need to figure out the absolute max you can afford to pay every month and still keep on top of your other bills.

You need this number because when you begin rent negotiations, you need to know where your ceiling is.

When you find it, you’ll need to walk away.

Know What You Want

What you can afford and what you want will be two different things. You want to pay less than you can afford, because that gives you more wiggle room in your budget. Believe it or not, this can actually make you a better tenant because you won’t be stressing as hard about making rent every month. If you manage your money right, it can make you more financially stable.

Maybe you can afford to pay $50 less per month than the asking price, but ideally you’d want to pay $100 less per month. If this is the case, you’d want to ask for more than $100 off per month as you start the negotiations, then work your way to your goal. Maybe you can afford $50 less per month, but they offer you $75 because you started with the goal of $100.

If the landlord refuses to take at least $50 off per month by the end of your negotiations, you can’t move in. Full-stop. You can’t afford it, and if you pretend you can, it’s not going to end well for you or the landlord.

Know why the landlord should negotiate with you.

You do need some leverage in order to be successful in negotiations. Here are some things that will make it easier to successfully negotiate your rent:

  • Are you a good tenant? If you are negotiating with a new landlord, your credit score or history may be important. Landlords want to see you regularly pay the bills on time – including your rent. If you have recommendations from past landlords, this can help you, too.
  • Do you have somewhere else to go? If this is the apartment that’s going to keep you from being homeless, you inherently have less room to negotiate. You can still delicately try, but the inability to walk away means the power dynamics are not in your favor.
  • Time of year. It’s easier to find tenants in the summer. Tenants negotiating winter leases have more leverage. Usually a landlord would rather have someone in the property paying a little less than their asking price every month than have the property sit empty for months at a time.
  • State laws. State laws can affect negotiations, too. For example, if you’re moving in March, but are trying to get a lower rate on your rent, you may offer to extend your lease to 15 months instead of 12 so that your renewal will be in the more desirable summer months for your landlord. However, maximum lease length varies depending on your state’s laws.

Don’t forget the amenities!

If you can’t get the landlord to come down on rent, see if you can negotiate additional amenities. Here are some of the top areas to consider for negotiation:

  • Pet policies. If the property is pet-friendly but you don’t have a pet, see if you can get a discount on your security deposit. Your risk for damage is lower than what they’ve built into their pricing structure, and they may be willing to work with you.
  • Laundry credit. If you’re running on coin-op laundry offered by the landlord, see if you can negotiate a laundry credit into your contract.
  • Storage. If extra storage is a need, can you secure an extra or larger storage unit than what they’re already offering with the property?
  • Parking. You may be able to negotiate any parking fees that are associated with the property. Even if one free spot comes with the property, is there a way to get an additional pass for guests?
  • Upgrades. In larger complexes, renovations usually happen in phases. If the unit you’re looking at isn’t up to the same standards as others going for the same price, you may be able to negotiate lower monthly rent payments or demand those upgrades are made to your apartment before you move in.

Know When You’ll Walk Away

Before you start negotiations, you need to know when you’ll walk away. If you can only afford the rent with a $50/month deduction, be prepared to walk away if they come at you with a rent deduction of only $25/month.

If you cannot walk away, that’s good information to know walking into negotiations, too. It gives you a lot less leverage. But lying to yourself about the power dynamics is not going to make the situation better.

Know When to Make Your Ask

Calling up your landlord to negotiate rent when you’re already under contract is not going to work.

There are two times when you should consider negotiating your rent, though: Before you move in and when your lease expires.

Before you move in.

This is when you have the most leverage – depending on how many other people are showing serious interest in the property.

Before you move in, you’re going to have the most success negotiating a deduction in rent – especially with individual landlords. This is also the time when you’ll be able to negotiate the most amenities and perks into your contract.

This initial contract is likely to be the best deal you get from your landlord. Everything else moving forward will be negotiated with it in mind.

When your lease expires.

If you are a good tenant who has had few to zero complaints and has made on-time rent payments every month, you will have leverage when your lease expires. The negotiations will likely happen in the months before the expiration as your landlord either offers you a lease for the upcoming year – or doesn’t.

If they do and the terms are the same, you might not want to nickel-and-dime them to pay less.

Right or wrong, there’s a general expectation that property values go up over time – especially as safe and healthy housing becomes a scarcer resource. There’s also a general expectation that the landlord will raise the rent, even if the property value and/or taxes haven’t actually increased.

I know.

Fun.

But it’s also the reality we live in.

If your landlord does up the rent or the cost of other amenities like laundry, tenants with a good history may want to negotiate.

Bear in mind that you have a little less leverage than when you moved in. Moving takes kinetic energy, and moving is the only real bargaining chip you have to force the landlord’s hand. If you threaten to walk away at the rent increase, you have to be prepared to actually do it.

Consider what’s currently on the market before you walk away.

You’ll also want to bear in mind what’s currently available on the market. I once lived in an apartment for almost a decade. By the time I moved out, rent had exploded in the market around me, almost doubling. I chose to stay in the same property for many years even though the rent nudged up higher as time went on.

Not because I was completely happy.

But because I could no longer afford to move and stay in the same area of the city where my family had built a life.

However, if you are willing and able to move at the expiration of your lease, you do have a lot of power. A good tenant can be hard to find, and the prospect of not finding any tenant can be scary for a landlord. In these situations, you may be able to negotiate rent increases to a minimum, especially if you’re already paying close to market value.

And remember: After you’ve made a deal, make sure to get every last thing in writing.

Contextualizing Trauma in Personal Finance Content

Hi, I love you all and hope you are holding up okay. Just a note before today’s post to remind you that I’m not a psychologist, psychiatrist or any other type of mental health professional. Also, a trigger warning that this post deals with themes that are congruent with other types of trauma outside of or concurrent with the effects of the current pandemic.

We are all grappling with what’s happening around us. It’s been traumatic. While it’s definitely been harder for some more than others, this pandemic is something that has affected us all.

I really liked this analogy from Brittany Packnett Cunningham, that we’re all in the same storm, but we are NOT all in the same boat.

This type of trauma is difficult. It’s persistent. Inescapable. You learn to live in it without fully getting the chance to step out of it and recover.

In the midst of all this, we’re all more irritable. Our buttons are easier to push than ever, with stress maxing out our tolerance for bullshit.

In the midst of all this trauma, I want to contextualize the personal economic discussions you’re sure to see flying around the web right now, especially on personal blogs like this one.

These are my interpretations of what I see happening around me in my community — and honestly within my own content. My interpretation may differ from your own, and I welcome respectful discussion in the comments.

Responses to Trauma

There are three basic responses to trauma with which I’m familiar enough to reference. None of these responses are right or wrong. They’re defense mechanisms your body is using to try to survive. To get through to that next moment when danger is no longer imminent.

Fight

One response to trauma is to try to fight your way out.

This might manifest in your personal finances with a newfound hyper-vigilance over your budgeting spreadsheet.

It might make you side hustle super hard.

You might also find yourself fighting for the health and safety of those around you above economic impact.

Whether that’s begging your mom not to go to work or working on a larger scale to assist those most exposed to the virus get the equipment, care or social programming they need.

Because this economic hardship and all the trauma that comes along with it is likely to last for a long time — though I do not yet believe it will last forever — a sustained fight response is also likely to lead to burn out. Maybe even crash-and-burn-style burnout.

Flight

If your response is flight, right now things are complicated.

If you’ve been on social media lately, you’ve seen that vlogger who tried to escape to Hawaii. And another blogger who packed her family in an RV to escape the NYC area.

Both situations were met with much ridicule, and understandably so. No links because this is not about shaming these people. Their responses are anecdotally relevant here, though.

In normal times, flight is an okay thing to do. These are not normal times. Exercising flight in traditional ways can be dangerous to the health of others around you, if not to your own.

Diet & Exercise are just like Personal Finance!

Exercising as a way to express flight is a thing — especially right now as we’re metaphorically running from a temporally inescapable problem.

So if you’re really annoyed by everyone pretending they’re a marathon runner or feel like simply scrolling through your feed right now is akin to ritual shaming, know that it’s not about you.

Also, remember you got that mute button. 😉

A lot of people are dealing with the stress this way. It’s normal. For some people, it’s even super healthy.

You’re probably going to see a lot of blog posts about how diet and exercise are just like personal finance.

If it doesn’t resonate with you, that’s okay. You can go read something else, perhaps even noting that this content may be helping others who are dealing with all this trauma in a different way than you are.

If you’re creating this content, it would also be cool if you could be conscientious that flight is not the only way of dealing with all the stress. That you can take things too far with diet and exercise. And that if someone comes out of this thing without a six-pack or $100k net worth, it definitely doesn’t make them an inferior human being.

But like also don’t touch that 401(k).

The market looks scary right now.

But rocky times in the economy should already be accounted for your long-term plan. Pulling out of the market feels like the right thing to do thanks to the flight response, but depending on how you’ve invested, it’s likely to be detrimental to your own long-term financial goals.

Even if you’re not able to contribute to your retirement account, try to do everything you can to avoid touching your retirement savings.

Know that in so many cases, even in bankruptcy, creditors cannot touch most tax-advantaged retirement account savings.

That being said, the complications of living with a bankruptcy on your record can be dire in the best of times. Make the best decisions you can based on your own, individual circumstances. You may even be able to consult with a pro bono lawyer to get personalized legal guidance when considering bankruptcy vs. pulling from your retirement savings.

Also beware long-term that those who have endured trauma tend to be unnecessarily and sometimes detrimentally conservative with their investments.

Freeze

Freezing is another perfectly valid response to stress. Traditionally, your body might shut down or shield you from pain responses to help you survive the initial impact of physical trauma. You might feel the need to cut yourself off from others virtually, even when we are separated physically already.

In response to economic trauma, you might need this time to rest. To not hustle super hard. To gather your energy for what comes next. Emotionally recover from all the freedom and personal power you have lost in the past month.

That’s okay, too. Just know it’s going to be helpful long-term to generally keep on top of your finances as much as possible, even if you can’t give them the boost they may need right now. None of this is your fault.

There are no right or wrong reactions.

In response to trauma, there are no right or wrong reactions as far as which response manifests. I think as we each pull through this thing in our own way, we need to remember that we’re all going to respond differently.

Because this experience is sustained, we might even cycle through different reactions. That’s actually supposed to be healthier than habituating one of them, even though habituation is likely to happen in cases of sustained trauma.

That means not every article is going to speak to our individual experience. That’s okay. In fact, that same article that doesn’t speak to you today could end up being really motivating or reassuring a few weeks or even days down the line.

Take as little offense as possible if you’re not reacting the way a certain writer proposes you should be. It’s just going to add to your stress. In many cases, it’s an unnecessary burden in this time of sheer overwhelm.

If you’re creating content, it’s helpful to remember this, too. To not insult those who are dealing with the stress differently in any given moment in an attempt to inspire.

Because while there’s not one, right reaction to the trauma we’ve all experienced, we also need to remember that there are multiple ways of dealing with this experience.

Just because we haven’t experienced a reaction personally doesn’t mean it’s not valuable.

And just because we have experienced a reaction personally doesn’t mean it’s superior to the response of others.

Harnessing our reactions for the better.

If you find yourself in fight mode, by all means use that energy to send those personal finances into to hyperdrive. That’s how this blog was born.

It’s also why I can tell you first-hand that when you’re in fight mode, the risk of burnout is real. Be cognizant of it, and try real hard to do all that mindfulness stuff to bring yourself back to center. Force yourself to take breaks, even if they initially feel uncomfortable.

If you find yourself in flight mode, be cognizant that the very natural reaction to want to pull out of all financial institutions in a moment like this is real.

But it’s against all traditional financial advice, even and perhaps especially the stuff written for turbulent times like these.

If you find yourself frozen, that’s okay, too. You’re going to have more energy after everyone else has jogged and side hustled their way through this first period of the downturn. Take care of your mental health first and foremost.

If you really just can’t get going again, seek help via a telehealth service like www.betterhelp.com. As much as stalling out is sometimes the only thing you can do, your bills don’t see things the same way I do.

There are programs out there to help right now. The first Pennsylvanian unemployment check with that $600/week boost just went out. Some assistance is coming, even if we’re slow to see the money manifest in our pocketbooks.

No matter what your response, before your money, you want to address your mental health. Just because you’re not frozen doesn’t mean it’s not a problem.

Support Autistic Artists

In honor of Autism Acceptance Month, Femme Frugality will be hosting a series of Wednesday articles that focus on the financial challenges and triumphs those on the spectrum face and achieve.

Today, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to #StandWithSmall business owners, I wanted to bring back this post. All of the featured pieces sold, so the features have been updated to reflect the freshest of what’s out there.

I wrote it a couple years ago before moving into my new place. It’s frivolous if you’re facing economic turmoil right now.

But if you do have some money to spend and are looking to use it in support of others during this crisis, check out these amazing Autistic artists.

Wow, there's some great artists on this list--a lot of them working for Autism Acceptance! Headed to Etsy...

I’m getting ready to move in the very near future here. It’s the first time in my life that I’ll have complete control over how my place is decorated, and I’m pretty psyched about that part.

In my mind’s eye, I can already see a couple blank spaces on the wall that I want to fill. While I’m not sure I will — because budget — that didn’t stop me from engaging in my guilty pleasure: browsing Etsy.

Because it’s Autism Acceptance Month, I decided to check out autistic artists on the platform. Last year, I got a pair of earrings that really spoke to me (words I never thought I’d say) from an autistic artist who communicates primarily through visuals. As April snuck up again this year, I realized I should be doing this more than one month out of the year.

Here are some of the artists I’ve found, and pieces of their work that I love.

RoryDoyleArt

I’m in love with so many things in Rory Doyle’s Etsy Shop. This one is the Rise of the Jellyfish.

This autistic artist has many pieces featuring wildlife, landscapes and abstract designs.

Retrophiliac

If you love cats, you will love Margaux Wosk’s shop: Retrophiliac.

I mean, kittens in teacups, ski bum kitties, Picaso cats — the list goes on, and all of it is delightful.

CadenceInspirations

Cadence is an 11-year-old Australian girl who has produced a fair amount of art and writing for her age. Some of her work has focused on autism and spreading acceptance.

I love this painting from her Etsy shop, but you can view even more of her work on her website.

HeAndSheSullivan

Gah, I had such a hard time picking just one from this shop! Sarah Neat-Sullivan has a lot of work up on Etsy. Some of it’s related to autism. Some of it isn’t. She has jewelry, paintings, and art made from felt or stitching.

It’s all pretty amazing, but the one I chose to show you is called The Slow Breathing of a Hill.

Those Blank Spaces

My budget may restrict me from filling those blank spaces right now, but when that’s no longer the case, I’m excited to turn to one of these artists to fill the void.

In recent years I’ve moved from the mindset of simply spending the least amount of money possible to holding off on the purchase if possible (it’s not, always) until I am able to make a purchase that supports people or companies doing good things.

Would you open up the Amazon app and get the $10 poster delivered to your door tomorrow because you pay extra for the extra-fast delivery service?

Or would you save up for meaningful art, letting the void just sit till your budget’s ready — forget aesthetics?