Category Archives: Money Management

Investing in Good Cotton Bedding

I received product in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100% honest and my own.

Dang. This looks like such a comfortable bed to sleep in...

You guys know I’m not prone to spend inordinate amounts of money on everyday items. My value-based spending just doesn’t lend itself to the materialistic. I’ll spend on travel, even while finding ways to make it super cheap, because I know the memories and the expansion of my worldview are worth it to me.

On the other hand, I have been known to seriously skimp on things like clothes, shoes, toothbrushes, entertainment, etc. One time my frugality got so bad that I did something totally inappropriate that could have been solved with wrapping paper.

Not spending money is kind of my thing. But there is one area of home decor where I’m decidedly unfrugal. And that, my friends, is my bed sheets.

Heavenly Cotton

In the past, I’ve started my sheet shopping sojourns at the place all frugal shopping trips begin: Walmart. I begin my lament by asking why all the dang sheets are polyester. I scour the shelves to find the only Better Homes and Garden set that is actually 100% cotton.

I get it home and am proud of myself. No sweating in a pool of polyester nightmares. Just cotton goodness. I grab the same pillow I’ve been clinging to for years and drift off into dreamland.

Then a month later a kid is scooching onto or off of my bed and the fitted sheet rips. Or I’ll find the tear when I’m pulling it out of the dryer. And the whole process starts over again.

Enter Lofton Sheets by Saatva

300 thread count white cotton

I was recently approached by Saatva–a brand that does bedding well. The do mattresses, pillows and sheets. So when they asked if I’d like to try their 100% fair-trade cotton sheets, I of course said yes. Maybe this would be the solution to my problems!

So far it has been. I’ve been sleeping on my new ivory, 300-thread-count, organic cotton sheets for over a month now, and not only are they 5,000 times more luxurious than their thrifty predecessors, but they’re also not ripped. They’re high enough quality that I don’t anticipate that happening ever, which is a nice change of pace.

This is actually a purposeful act by Saatva. They make their sheets with long organic cotton fibers so they’re way more durable while remaining way more breathable.

I’m also loving how good I feel about using them. They’re fair-trade. Global Organic Textile Standard certified. So what I’m sleeping in isn’t just good for my comfort. It’s good for the environment and all the people who take part in making these sheets a reality.

I also have pillow problems.

When I had my last child, they sat on a nerve that made it really difficult to walk. When I first woke up in the mornings, I couldn’t move anything from my hips down for tens of minutes. It was too painful.

After my baby came into the world and I went through some serious physical therapy, I was mostly better. But if I sleep with anything but the pillow I’ve had for an embarrassing amount of years, my back still hurts in the morning. It’s enough to mess up my whole day.

Guys, that pillow is gross. It’s been time for an upgrade for a while, but every pillow I’ve tried has left me regretting it in the morning.

So when the good folks at Saatva said they’d send me pillows, too, I was more than keen on it. Maybe it would work. Maybe it wouldn’t. But it was worth a shot.

Then I slept on these new pillows and realized they were the best  ever. Better even than that one I should have gotten rid of  years ago. The loft is a bit higher than what I’m used to, so I was a little concerned the first night. But it molded to my head, and I woke up in the morning with zero pain.

Also, these pillows stay cold so you don’t even have to flip them.

supportive plush saatva pillow

Investing in Good Cotton Bedding

I’m not going to lie: The prices with Saatva are higher than those I found in the aisles of Walmart. But I don’t spend that much money on clothes, toothbrushes, concerts or even my beloved travel.

So I’m going to spend money on Saatva bedding guilt-free. As I need future pillows, I’ll dole out the cash for a good night’s sleep.

I’ll spend the extra money to ensure my sheets last more than a month, saving me money in the long-run.

I’m a huge believer in value-based spending, and as this millennial gets older, I value my sleep more and more.

 

 

The Road to Good Credit

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

When it comes to the two biggest financial commitments you’ll ever make in your life,
unless you have an absolute ton of cash to splash, your credit score is going to come into
play. Of course, I’m talking about buying a car and taking out a mortgage (not necessarily in that order).

The thing is, despite the fact that your credit score is very important, it’s not something
you’re often taught about at school which is surprising. Naturally, understanding what your
credit profile is and how it’s influenced is a pretty important life skill. Having a good score
will open you up to the best deals and interest rates the next time you want that mortgage or new car, so it can make life’s challenges that little bit easier. Really, it’s not unusual to feel a little lost when it comes to your personal credit circumstances.

Credit reference agencies keep a record of your credit history on file and this information is
accessed by lenders whenever you apply for finance. Your report will contain your score,
address and any details of missed payments. In terms of the score itself, there’s no universal
number as it changes depending on the company you use. For example, Experian scores out
of 999. If you have a history of missed payments then this will work against you as lenders
will view you as more of a risk. This increased risk will usually result in a higher interest rate.
However, bad credit doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t get finance. You can read a little
more on the subject of bad credit by checking out the following bad credit car finance guide.

Understanding what makes a good credit score, and taking steps to improve it if required
will put you in a good position financially. Even simple things such as registering on the Electoral Roll and meeting your payments on time will help.

Check out the infographic below for a visual representation and stay on the road to good credit in the UK.

Here's how to up your credit.

What Traditional Retirement Can Look Like

This post is brought to you by Providence Point.

traditional retirement

We talk a lot about retirement on personal finance blogs. We talk about how important saving is from a young age. We talk about what FIRE looks like for those with high incomes early in their careers.

But what we don’t often talk about is what traditional retirement looks like. For those who have to or choose to work their whole lives, who may not want to move away from their grandchildren in order to lower their cost of living. This is where the vast majority of people will end up.

I’m not going to lie: if you don’t save and/or are unable to save because of income restraints, retirement can look a lot like poverty. Many times, they’re one in the same.

But I don’t want to go down that dark path today. Today, I want to show you what traditional retirement can look like if you save money throughout your career. I want to show you beautiful surroundings, vibrant social lives and what it looks like to progressively add more healthcare to your wellness regimen.

Providence Point

This fall, I had the opportunity to tour Providence Point here in Western Pennsylvania. As I drove through the gate, I was immediately impressed. Initially, it just looks like a really nice neighborhood with single-floor, patio home condos. The grounds are well kept. The sidewalks meander across relatively flat roads (which is a big deal for us here in Appalachia.)

First, I got to tour one of these condos. Appropriately, it was number 412. For those of you not from Western PA, one of our major area codes in this region is 412.

providence point

It was absolutely gorgeous. It’s probably a bit bigger than the place I currently rent, and it had two bedrooms, high ceilings, a massive garage, first-floor washer/dryer and walk-in closets. Honestly, I love the place I’m living now, but if housing was the only thing Providence Point offered, I’d be making a step up if I moved there.

As you age, you can opt to move into a smaller apartment closer to the main hub of Providence Point, or even into special areas of the retirement complex where they have more medical care.

Social Life

There was so much to do here! While I was there I got to see the chapel, the state-of-the-art gym and pool where personal trainers work 1:1 with residents, the billiards room, a fun lounge bar, the bank, the art studio, the wood shop, a mini movie theater, the library and several of the five dining experiences on campus.

On top of living here–with all these social activities on campus everyday–the community also plans outings on a regular basis.

I remember one time when I was a little younger, my aunt was complaining about the cost of attending so many of her friends’ weddings. Everyone was getting married.

walk for alzheimers

In the book we talk about how important it is to have meaningful work in our lives. I got to witness some of it shown here at Providence Point.

“When you get to be my age, everyone’s having funerals,” my grandma said, looking off into the distance with her arms folded.

She’s old world low-key. All my grandparents were.

The point is that these social experiences are important. As you get older, there’s less people of your own generation. It can get become difficult to find people to connect with. When those social connections are missing, our health literally suffers. Those necessary social experiences are abundant at retirement communities like Providence Point.

Aging Into Care

We all like to think we’ll be completely independent forever, but the reality is that we age. Our health declines. Our bodies start failing us.

At Providence Point, they explained their process to me–you live independently in the patio house condo as long as you can, but when you need more long-term healthcare, they have the facilities and professionals available to help you get the care you need without having to go through the stress of locating a nursing home, moving to said nursing home, potentially selling your house, etc.

Everything’s taken care of–including you.

Cost

Of course, staying in a nice place like Providence Point costs money. That’s why all us personal finance bloggers are so gun-ho about starting to save early on. Yes, it’s super nice if you can retire in your 30s and travel the world, but even if you work a normal-length career, you’re going to need money to facilitate quality accommodations and care as you age.

That money can help you stay close to your grandchildren. It can help you not be a burden on your adult children. It can help put a roof over your head in a nice community with other people who truly “get” your life experiences. It can get you healthcare and entertainment.

So how much is it to get into Providence Point?

couches

First, you need to know how it works. You start by proving your are financially stable by providing information about your assets.

The minimum initial amount you’ll need to get in to Providence Point is $250,000. Though the place I viewed–412–required a $750,000 deposit. From there, monthly rates vary. If you opt for an apartment, potential monthly bills start at $2,386, while the patio home condos start at $5,387.

That number might seem crazy high, but it’s not just rent. That number includes all your utilities, cable, meals, landscaping, every-other-week housekeeping, local transport through a community-based bus system, access to all the amenities, spa services, underground parking for those who opt for an apartment, and healthcare services.

There are different levels of plans, some of which allow you to get 50% of your money refunded, some which allow you to get 90% of your money refunded, and some which allow for no refunds at all.

That’s pretty much everything you need for $64,644/year if you get a patio home like 412. It’s the services you need at each stage in the aging process. It’s access to social connections which may be difficult to find elsewhere. It’s having the ability to hold onto your independence as long as you can, and then avoiding a whole lot of stress when you finally do need more help.

TLDR: Start saving for retirement. For a lot of people, places like Providence Point may seem like an unobtainable goal. But it’s within your reach if you start saving early and often.

 

 

Applying for Health Insurance as Domestic Violence Survivor

Note: This post may contain triggers for those who have been in abusive relationships or been through sexual assault.

The month of October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. To highlight the issues that victims face physically, emotionally and economically, Femme Frugality will be discussing the issue every Friday. Except this Friday, I got the post up late. My apologies.

We will explore these issues through a mix of stories, conversations and factual articles. To help raise awareness, please use the hashtag #DVAM when sharing these articles.

I didn't know domestic violence qualified you for a special enrollment period! So glad so many states have expanded Medicaid Expansion for exactly this reason.

There’s a lot of financial rebuilding to do after you’ve escaped an abusive relationship. Just some of the things you may have to worry about are:

  • Repairing your credit report.
  • Finding employment.
  • Building savings.
  • Paying for any necessary occupational education.
  • Applying for benefits which may help you get reestablished.

All of these things are important, and necessity may dictate that you handle them all immediately.

However, you’re also going to be dealing with some other pretty serious stuff after you leave. First, you’ll need to work with a professional to make sure you are safe.

But even after you have that basic need covered, you’ll likely be battling the after effects of psychological, emotional and/or verbal abuse, which can escalate as far as PTSD and can prevent you from doing seemingly simple things like paying the bills, filling out the welfare application or holding down a job even if you’re extremely well-qualified for your position.

For this reason, it’s important to make sure you have mental healthcare services. Healthcare itself can be cost-prohibitive, though, so today we’re going to look at some ways you can get your hands on health insurance as a first step to getting your financial life back on track.

Getting Health Insurance after Escaping Domestic Violence

In the States, you are required to carry health insurance. If you don’t, you’ll have to pay a tax penalty–though that penalty is eliminated starting in the 2019 tax year.

But you don’t want to dodge a tax penalty. You actually want healthcare services. Usually, you can only apply for health insurance through the marketplace during open enrollment, which is November 1 through December 15 this year.

However, when you leave a domestic violence situation you qualify for an exemption, and can apply for coverage right away even if it’s the day after open enrollment closed.

You may have lost your health insurance when you left your abuser. You may not have had it in the first place, or you may have had to leave the employer who provided you with your insurance thanks to the abuse.

If you’re low-income or living at 138% of the Federal Poverty Line, you will qualify for free Medicaid coverage free of premiums or deductibles in most states which have adopted Medicaid Expansion. A handful of these states have wonky Medicaid Expansion laws which may prevent you from qualifying for Medicaid thanks to adjusted income limitations or may require you to pay small premiums or deductibles.

Some states have not expanded Medicaid at all, though, so you may not qualify for this free or close-to-free coverage even if you are living below the poverty line. Instead, you’ll have to pay for an ACA Marketplace plan which will be subsidized based on your income level. States that have not adopted Medicaid Expansion are:

  • Texas
  • Oklahoma
  • Kansas
  • Wyoming
  • South Dakota
  • Wisconsin
  • Missouri
  • Tennessee
  • Alabama
  • Georgia
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Florida

Virginia’s Medicaid Expansion will kick in on January 1, 2019, and Maine was supposed to have expanded by now, but the governor has been illegally blocking implementation.

What if I don’t qualify?

If you don’t qualify for Medicaid, you should still apply for it through the marketplace anyways. This will allow you to purchase a marketplace plan.

If you really, truly feel like you can’t afford your health insurance off the marketplace–even with subsidies–there are a couple of other options.

First, you could forgo health insurance and seek mental health care elsewhere. Your local domestic violence shelter is a good place to seek out these services. You may not be able to get a bed as many of these shelters are frequently full, but many times they can connect you with mental health care.

I don’t like the idea of you forgoing health insurance. Even though the tax penalty is going away, it’s still a risky gamble to go without it. You may find yourself needing healthcare outside of mental health services, and if you’re caught without health insurance, that could mean financial ruin via medical debt.

Another option is to go through a Healthcare Sharing Ministry. You pay a smaller monthly fee, and then the group will use the pooled fees to cover your medical expenses when needed. There are a few problems with this method:

  • These groups are religious, and I’ve only seen them among Christians. So you’ll either have to be a believer or feel okay lying about your faith or lack thereof. Not a problem for many in this country, but it is an obstacle for some.
  • Many of these groups do not want you to have a preexisting condition. If you do, you may not qualify for membership. As a survivor, your mental health care needs are likely to be considered a preexisting condition. (Hooray if you find a group who lets you in, though!)
  • You are not guaranteed coverage. Some groups are really great about covering everything, but not all health care situations will be covered depending on the group’s bylaws. You still might run into the same problem as filing claims with an insurance company, except these ministries are not as highly regulated.

Access to Care

Getting access to quality health insurance in the United States is still a difficult task, though it has gotten easier in the years since the ACA passed. The good news is that because you are a domestic violence survivor, you will actually have an easier time getting a policy thanks to the open enrollment exemption. That doesn’t guarantee you’ll be able to get coverage, but it does mean  you should have a slightly easier time than the general population as a whole.

You may want to call around to different therapists who will accept your insurance at the same time as you are applying for it. In many parts of the country, mental health is understaffed. It’s not unheard of to end up on a wait list. The sooner you can get on that list, the better.

 

Related Domestic Abuse Content

To learn more about domestic violence or abuse, or to find more ways to get help, check out other articles in this series:

The Feminist Financial Handbook: Get it Today

This is truly a unique personal finance book. I feel like she's writing just for me. Definitely learned a lot!

Today is the day, guys! The Feminist Financial Handbook  officially launched this morning, and I’m so excited.

Writing this book took a lot of hours. I knew it would be a big effort before I took it on, but I never could have anticipated how rewarding the process would be.

The Women Who Shared Their Stories

First, I got to sit down and interview a bunch of amazing women who helped this book come to life with their lived experience and expertise. Check them out:

financial adventure

Story from Joyce

Praise for The Feminist Financial Handbook

As a part of the publishing process, I had to get some reviews on the work once the manuscript was together. Honestly, there’s a reason I started this blog anonymously, and as I sent the manuscript out, I was wishing I could have published it anonymously, too.

It’s not that I wasn’t proud of the work. I just wish the work could stand on its own. I always feel so weird marketing myself.

But I held my breath and sent it out, anyways. I was overwhelmed by the positive feedback. If you’re wondering if this book is for you, check out these reviews to get a better idea:

“You can always find books geared toward helping women to improve their financial lives. Some are condescending mansplanations of finance, couched as an important help to us little ladies and our emotional lady-brains. Some offer pink-jacketed rah-rah enthusiasm claiming to help the modern woman have it all! Some are deep dives into the real financial difficulties and challenges facing specific groups of women. But none of them look at finance from an intersectional feminist perspective―until now.

In every chapter, Brynne offers both actionable steps and hope for individual women who want to make their lives and their finances better. She offers suggestions for how to fight the unfair system while also working within the system. That means everyone who reads this book will put it down knowing ways to work for both a better world as a whole and a better life as an individual.”

-Emily Guy Birken, bestselling author of End Financial Stress Now

It’s so different–money is a piece, but there are so many other important topics being discussed that aren’t normally talked about.”

-Candice, owner of Young Yet Wise

“The Feminist Financial Handbook is a unicorn among finance books – one that endeavors to recontextualize sensible financial basics within an acknowledgment of the myriad forms of oppression within our society. I wholeheartedly applaud Brynne Conroy in her efforts to transform both the role of the finance information world as it exists and the inequalities of the world. Brava!”

– Becca Anderson, author of The Book of Awesome Women

“Great job describing the challenges faced by marginalized folks in our society. I learned quite a bit, which isn’t common for your more ‘typical’ money book.”

“In The Feminist Financial Handbook, Brynne Conroy provides women with a comprehensive guide to living a wealthier life that contains actionable advice while not sugarcoating real issues that impact women such as the gender pay gap and the impact of divorce. This book is a valuable read.”

-David Carlson author of Hustle Away Debt-

“One of the leading voices in personal finance, Brynne Conroy perfectly sums up what it means to be a woman in the 21st century. Money affects every part of our lives ― from the way we dress to how we can support ourselves and our families ― and Conroy does a perfect job of highlighting how the pay gap, discrimination, and the motherhood penalty affect women’s money differently. This is the perfect book for the modern woman looking to understand her finances on a societal level (and how to fight back.)”

-Tori Dunlap, Editor at Tomorrow Ideas

“Too often, we forget that women have very unique financial needs. The Feminist Financial Handbook remedies this problem nicely by tackling issues modern women face when planning for a secure financial future. If you’re a woman struggling with the reality of money in the patriarchy, this book can help you break free and live your best financial life.”

Miranda Marquit, money expert, financial journalist, and political activist-

“Conroy has done her research and given a platform to the rich and diverse experiences of womanhood and our relationship to money. This truly is the feminist financial handbook for the new wave of intersectional feminism.”

-Erin Lowry, author of Broke Millennial: Stop Scraping By and Get Your Financial Life Together

“Conroy goes beyond blanket, modern-day notions of #girlboss to not only explore, but redefine what financial well-being means to different people. Meticulously researched and forward thinking, contemporary feminism, which includes ableism and non-traditional populations, The Feminist Financial Handbook not only serves as a practical guide, but as a platform of empowerment to the oppressed and underserved. ”

-Jackie Lam, owner of Hey Freelancer

womens personal finance women at work

Story from a Her Money Matters listener

In the past week, this book has been featured on HuffPost LIFE, in a Her Money Matters podcast interview, and as a top pick for finance books for beginners.

Now it’s your turn.

Of course, I’m so thrilled to hear my peers enjoyed the read. But now it’s your turn.

This book has a chance (though hardly a guarantee) of becoming an Amazon Bestseller. If you’re thinking about buying it, I’d urge you to do so today. It gives the book a better chance of reaching that elite status.

If you’re into it, leave a review on Amazon as that’s one of the biggest factors in getting this important information out to a wider audience. I know there’s stuff in this book that can help other people, so I’d like to get it in front of as many of them as possible.

If you read it and there’s anything you’d like to discuss with me, please leave a comment here on the blog or shoot me an email! I wrote this booking hoping it would spark discussion. As long as your thoughts are made known respectfully, I’m excited to start having those discussions. Thank you to all who made this tome possible.

Get the book here.

number one amazon new release womens money