Category Archives: Think

How Living Frugally Can Alter Your Mindset

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

The benefits of living frugally are numerous. So glad I checked out this list.

There comes a time in everyone’s life when they need to knuckle down and take the rocky path to financial success. Whether paying off debts or saving for a dream holiday, living frugally is a means to an end that can often be an unavoidable aspect of managing finances. We’ve all been there, hankering after a new car or simply just the feeling of being free from the shackles of monthly repayments. After all, who doesn’t want peace of mind when it comes to their finances?

Although it sounds easy enough, living frugally can be hard work. It is often tricky to stick to the plan when temptation kicks in or a bad day gets the better of good judgement. But, while frugal living is often a difficult way to achieve goals, there are plenty of painless money-saving tips for everyday life to get started. Once you’ve started with these smaller actions, you might start to feel a shift in the way that you think.

It’s the little things

When you start to pay attention to where each penny goes, a wonderful knock-on effect happens. You will start to notice things that you might have dismissed or overlooked previously. This is because practicing mindfulness with your money will inevitably lead to a more mindful approach in the rest of your life. If you are currently on a frugal financial plan, think about the deliberate actions you take with each penny and use that considered and deliberate approach with other aspects of day to day life, such as walking the dog or hanging the washing out.

Ready for action

Another great aspect of being careful with money is that it encourages a sense of being proactive and in control. This is incredibly empowering, particularly if you have been feeling out of control with your finances and letting them get the better of you. Spiraling debt repayments and escalating charges can have a negative effect on anyone’s mindset, so taking control of this and turning it into a positive outcome is a great way to correct your mindset.

live frugally

It will be worth it in the end.

Patience, patience

The thing about paying off your debts, or saving for the future, is that it doesn’t happen overnight. Sure, you could wish that you won the jackpot and all of your problems would be solved in one go, but life often doesn’t work like that. Living frugally teaches you to have patience and determination, even in those times when you would rather hide under the bedcovers.

Letting go

By making certain changes you can work towards a better lifestyle and bigger long-term goals. To do this its key to let go of unhelpful thinking patterns. This could be negative spending habits or irrational misconceptions and superstitions about money. Believe it or not, plenty of people think that eating lentils on New Year’s Eve will bring wealth, while others believe that you should always pay off your debts when the sun shines. If you have any unusual superstitions about money, now is the time to let them go. Think of it as a fresh start for your mind and your wallet.

Rational thinking

Finally, living frugally offers the chance to practice rational thinking, which many of us could use! Those times when you see something, and you simply must have it? Everyone gets them– it’s about making the distinction between whether you need it or want it. Understanding the difference between the two leads to rational thought processes which are super useful, not just when it comes to money. Having control over impulses and emotions is a great life skill that will benefit you in all aspects of your life, so make sure you really analyze your motives each time you find yourself impulsively buying something. Do you need it? Or do you just want it?

Remember, it’s not forever. And by the end of it, you will have a huge sense of achievement as well as plenty of new life skills!

 

The Year of Bravery

Loving this Mark Twain quote. And I might have to steal her annual theme--love how much being brave in 2018 has changed her life.

Hey, hey, everyone. It’s been a hot minute.

To be honest, life has been crazy around here. The new school year is starting soon–both for my kids and myself. I’m learning that promoting a book can be just as much work as writing one. Plus some other personal stuff has been going on that has nothing to do with money but has added to the insanity.

I’d say I’m overwhelmed, and that would be partially true. But the circumstances I’ve put myself in are of my own doing.

Despite all the craziness, all the self-imposed stress, I’m in this place right now because of a decision I made at the beginning of the year. Actually, it’s one I made in late 2017. But 2018 has been bearing the fruit of my decisiveness.

The Year of Bravery

I realized about 8-10 months ago that I wasn’t entirely happy with the way I was living my life. Yes, we all have challenges. And, yes, those outside influences can really take over.

But in my specific circumstances, there were things I could have been doing to make things better. Steps I knew I could take, and goals I could pursue.

But I wasn’t. Because of fear.

I don’t like living my life from a place of fear, but I felt I had been cornered. Adulthood and motherhood both come with so many responsibilities that sometimes you feel saddled down by it all, and lose yourself in the process.

I thought back to a quote I saw on my history teacher’s door in high school that really changed the way I have (mostly) handled challenges throughout my life:

If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.

I knew I had to make a shift. I knew it was time to get out of my frozen state and start taking action towards the things I wanted–no matter how scary or unrealistic taking those actions seemed to be.

I dubbed 2018 the Year of Bravery, and have tried to live my life over the past eight months in that mindset. I’m not going to lie. At moments it’s been hard. Really, really hard. But with the pain of change, there comes transformation. I can see my life and attitude morphing before my eyes, and I’m proud of what I’m becoming.

The Feminist Financial Handbook

Late last year, Mango Publishing contacted me to see if I’d be interested in writing a book on feminist finances. It wasn’t the first book offer I’ve received, but it was the first one with agreeable terms. Still, writing a book is a lot of work, and it would mean boldly attaching my name to my opinions–and then promoting it.

For most of my blogging life, I was anonymous. I’m not ashamed of my work, but I do prefer the work to stand on its own–its own merit, its own two legs. Fame and recognition is not only something I don’t seek, but is something I actively try to avoid.

I don’t think I’m going to get famous for writing a niche personal finance book. Haha. But I do know I’m going to have to shout my own name from the rooftops, which makes me extremely uncomfortable.

But I decided to do it anyways. This decision was made with encouragement from my friends and peers. It was made because a book like this needs to exist, period. And it was made because 2018 is the Year of Bravery.

This weekend, I got an email from my publisher notifying me that The Feminist Financial Handbook is officially an Amazon #1 New Release:

The Feminist Financial Handbook Amazon Number One New Release

 

It’s super exciting, and I’m humbled by all of you who have expressed interest and preordered. If you want to learn more about what’s inside, you can do so here. Or, if you’re already sold because feminism + money is where it’s at, you can preorder your copy here.

I took a risk by putting myself out there. And although I still feel some trepidation, I’m glad I did. Writing a book is something I’ve always wanted to do, and however this whole thing turns out, I can look back on my life without the, “What if?”

Traveling Across the World

pikachu japan

When I was a child, one of my best friends was Japanese. We only lived close to each other for a couple years, but our bond was deep. We kept touch even after she returned to Osaka and my family moved to Pittsburgh.

Right around the time I started blogging, she came to visit me. It was the first time we had seen each other since our tear-filled goodbyes, and brought me so much joy. I’ve always wanted to visit her in her home country, but it always seemed like an impossible dream.

I was sitting on a bunch of airline miles last year, and was waiting for a time when my whole family could go with me on this adventure. But I had been waiting for a while, and the more time wore on, the more apparent it became that there was going to be no perfect time when we could all go and have a good time. So I asked my sibling if they wanted to come with me.

They jumped at the invitation, and in Spring we finally got to visit our childhood friend and see her wonderful, amazing family for the first time in over twenty years. It was the most amazing trip of my life, but it’s one that almost didn’t happen. Because I took the plunge, despite the fears of regret that I might create by not bringing my children along, I had one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, and saw some of the most beautiful places on Earth.

Well, it was also because my friend and her family are amazing, generous people. Actually mostly because of that.

But you get the idea.

Returning to School

National program to get student loans forgiven

This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while. As the primary breadwinner, though, it seemed irresponsible to threaten my own time with more responsibilities as I’m already pressed for time enough.

But we make room in our lives for the things we value. And education is way up there for me. I’m excited to see the new paths this venture will lead me down, and all the new things I’m going to learn.

I start classes next week. I’m oddly nervous about my age even though I’ve never been a traditional student. I’m also worried about the time aspect.

But the last time I did this school thing, I did it while carrying and then birthing children. If I can handle that, I can definitely make this work.

So while I have some jitters, I’m also incredibly psyched to step back into the halls of scholarship.

If the Year of Bravery has taught me anything, it’s that I won’t regret this decision.

The Feminist Financial Handbook

This book is so needed! Excited to be one of the first to get my hands on The Feminist Financial Handbook. Fighting the patriarchy and kyriarchy while building my wealth.

I’ve mentioned in passing that I’m writing a book.

Well, I can now say that I’ve written a book.

That’s right, guys. It’s getting real up in here.

Now that the manuscript is done, I wanted to tell you guys a little bit more about the project, what it entailed and what comes next.

The Feminist Financial Handbook

Even before I was blogging about money, I was interested in personal finances. I’d read book after book on how to make my money better. There were some crazy great hacks. Like opening CDs before the Recession. Or investing your money starting young so you could take full advantage of the power of compound interest.

And I was all, “I can’t wait until I can do this stuff!”

I wrote out goals and future budgets, but something was missing. That missing thing was an income which met more than just my baic needs so I could do things like save and invest. I was great at money management; I just didn’t have enough green to do all the responsible things I wanted to do.

I now recognize that there were some systemic road blocks in my way at that point in my life. I also recognize that there are women out there who face far larger and more frequent road blocks than myself.

And that’s the piece of financial advice that seems to always be missing: When you’re motivated, disciplined and hard-working,  yet you can’t seem to get around these massive obstacles, what do you do next?

That’s what The Feminist Financial Handbook is about. It’s about recognizing oppression and its  effects on our day-to-day personal economies. Without minimizing these struggles, it looks at ways you may be able to get a leg up so you can do all those fun things like watch your wealth explode over a period of 30-40 working years through diligent investing.

It’s about being real about the real-life situations so many of us struggle with every single day, and finding ways to take action despite them.

Defining Wealth

The first part of the book looks at how we define wealth. Does money actually  make us happier? I don’t want to spoil too much, but the answer is sometimes.

In this part of the book, we also take a deep dive into the things that actually can make us feel more content, and counting them holistically in our personal wealth equations. Because while money scarcity is no good, a relentless pursuit of cash isn’t healthy, either.

Earn More

It’s no secret that women tend to earn less than men. The gender wage gap is real. But I tend to think the commonly cited reasons behind it are sexist and fictitious. Some of these arguments include:

  • Women gravitate towards lower-paying fields.
  • Women don’t negotiate.
  • Women carry babies in their wombs.

These are all poor justifications for paying women less, and some are straight up untrue. in the book, we tackle each one of them.

Gender is not the only reason for lower pay, though. Whether you’re a single mother, disabled, a woman of color, transgender, gay, or bi, society is going to punish you economically. It’s not right. But there are some workarounds for financial success, even within a system that would have you believe you’re worth less.

You’re not worth less, by the way. And this whole section of the book outlines why that is and what we can collectively and individually do about it.

Save More

Not only is there a wage gap, but there is also a gender-centric investing gap. This gap starts young, and can result in poverty in old age. We take a look at some of the basics of financial planning and how to become more aware of any internalized sexism that may be affecting your investing decisions.

We also look at how you or your child can go to college for free–or sometimes even get paid to go back to school. I promise this is real. These strategies have worked for me in real life, and are backed by a professional in the higher education industry.

And, of course, we look at budgeting. Not just budgeting, but judgement-free budgeting. Just because you’re a woman doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to spend the money you earn, or that you can’t stash it all away in pursuit of financial independence. But to do either one of these things, you’re going to need a budget.

When One Thing Affects Everything

Ladies, we put up with some intense experiences in our lives. Because of the normalization of sexism and other -isms, we suffer much higher rates of mental illness and domestic violence. Both of these areas have real, long-term affects not just on our mental health, but on our finances.

We also tend to make less money than our male counterparts when a child is diagnosed with an illness or is pronounced differently abled. And that’s on top of the gender pay gap.

This final section of the book looks at all of these things, offering up solutions for living a wealthy life in spite of the effects oppression can take on our bodies, minds and finances.

Pre-Order The Feminist Financial Handbook

Believe it or not, these are just some of the topics covered in the book. The pages take a deep dive into so many issues–issues not typically discussed in the personal finance sphere. Because they’re hard issues to tackle, and there aren’t always easy solutions.

But at the heart of the matter is hope. Hope that we can fight the system to build a successful career for ourselves as women in business or a fat e-fund as homemakers. Hope that you can build a wealthy life even when the system would stunt your cash flow. It affirms that you are worth it and capable no matter what society tells you, because there is no “right” way to be a successful woman with motivation.

Now that we’re getting ready to launch, you can pre-order today from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

I’d be so grateful if you could hop on board and join the waitlist so you can be one of the first to get your hands on a copy!

I can’t wait to hear what you think. It’s been a huge effort to produce, and I hope it opens up a lot of conversation about what we can do to make the economic plight of women better, whether we’re talking about society as a whole or ourselves as individual females.

This book was very much a collaborative effort. Because I cannot speak with experience to all the different issues women face, it largely features the experiences of others. These are the amazing women who gave so much of their time and heart to the effort:

 

Adventures in Lawn Mowing

A few months ago, I moved into my own place. I had to buy a step stool to reach things like the blinds and my cabinets, but other than that I’m fairly self-sufficient. I built a bed frame by myself when Ikea told me I’d need at least two people to get the job done. I fixed the hinge on the door to the laundry. I’ve killed bugs that in the past would have made me cry out of pure fear.

Okay, I might still cry. But I kill them by myself anyways. Push through the tears.

Also, I have a lawn. Which is pretty exciting after living in the city for nearly a decade. The only problem is that I have to mow it.

That’s not really a problem in and of itself. When I was growing up, I had to mow our nearly-an-acre, hilly plot. I would load up my walkman with my favorite Rx Bandits CD and got the job done.

But to relive the days of my youth, I had to first get a lawnmower. Getting and storing gasoline in a container freaks me out, and I’m trying to save the planet. So gas mowers were out. I looked at electric ones, but they were too expensive.

Then, my friend recommended this gem.

orange push mower

It’s a great push mower. But I wouldn’t have told you that the first time I tried to mow my lawn. It was super hot out. My neighbor had been doing my side of the lawn for me for a couple weeks while I tried to get the mower situation figured out. So I needed to pay it back and mow his.

There were innumerable sticks in the yard. Those could be removed, but there were also tree roots, which couldn’t be. There was a massive hill on his side, which was no fun to take care of. And because I had taken so long to get this done, the grass was super thick.

After about an hour of exerting more energy than anyone would ever want to, I went inside to get a drink or five of water. While I was in there, I heard a gas engine rev up. My neighbor was remowing the lawn. That’s how terrible of a job I had done. Taking pity on me, he also did the part I hadn’t started yet.

I was pretty discouraged, and gave up on my frugality. I set up services with multiple landscapers, all of whom flaked out on me. My neighbor moved out, and I had to figure out what the heck I was going to do.

The other day, I tried it again. I got out the push mower I had given up on. I set out to do my half of the lawn. And you know what?

It wasn’t bad.

Yes, I sweat, but that wasn’t something I had been afraid of. I don’t really know why it was so much easier this time. Maybe the grass was shorter. Maybe it wasn’t as humid out. Maybe I had gotten stronger Maybe my side of the lawn has less tree roots than his did.

Regardless, I’m glad I tried again. I’m glad I proved to myself I could take care of my own self. And I’m super glad I was able to do it without using gasoline, without paying someone else to do it for me, and without spending money on a more powerful electric lawn mower.

If at first you don’t succeed, try again. You might still be able to save money. And assert that you are the one with the power–you don’t need a machine or any other human being to exert that power for you.

Why The Founding Fathers Were Broke

Why the founding fathers were broke, and why in the grand scheme of time and humanity, it doesn't matter.

It’s so interesting to me how many versions there are of the founding fathers.  From politics to religion, many different people associate many different ideals with each one, sometimes correctly, sometime erroneously, and sometimes both.  These were men founding a democratic republic in a world where Western society was still largely ruled by monarchies.   They had a lot of ideas.  They said a lot of things.  Over the courses of their lives, they sometimes contradicted themselves.

Their situations changed from birth until death, too.  They were born British citizens, and died founders of a new country that not too many people wanted to do business with.  Many of them were, in fact, broke after the birth of America.

George Washington

Washington had some rich parents.  His dad made his living farming, and he inherited his estate (Mount Vernon.)   Washington himself made some money as a soldier, rising to the rank of Major during the French and Indian War, but gave up the whole military thing for a while to go back to his farm and marry into some more money.

He then led American rebels against British forces to win the American Revolution.  He lost more battles than he won, but he also won the war.  Post-war, America’s trade was limited as most of its ships had been destroyed and Britain cut off any economic ties not only with England itself, but also the British part of the Caribbean.  We had taken on massive amounts of debt to fund the war.  Inflation was out of control.  To top it off, we had defeated Britain, but didn’t really have a replacement government ready to go.  At least not one everyone agreed on.  So fixing the economy took some time.

What that meant was that while Washington owned a lot of land, the people he leased it out to weren’t necessarily paying him what they owed.  It was a huge class issue, and the government at the time slightly took the side of the tenants, lightening burdens for debtors (who, at that time, could face prison.)

It’s pretty common knowledge that Washington was reluctant to take positions of power.  He wouldn’t have take command of American rebel forces if it hadn’t been for idealism and honor.  But he mostly took the presidency because he was broke.  When he was president, he was very generous with funding programs and guests, putting everything on his tab while waving away a salary.  When he checked out, Congress paid him back everything he had billed, but the money had lost most of its value to inflation.

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson was also born to a wealthy, land-owning family.  (It should be noted that both families utilized slave labor.)  He also married a wealthy widow.

I don’t mean to assert that either marriage was loveless, but it’s worth noting that neither of these men married someone of a different economic status than themselves. Though Sally Hemings did bear his children after his first wife passed away, there was definitely a massive imbalance of power in that instance–that’s not love either.

Essentially the same thing happened to Jefferson as it did to Washington.  During the war, he had racked up some personal and business debts.  After the war, when he tried to pay with American money; the Brits that he owed to flat out turned it down, saying it wasn’t real currency.  He was in trouble.  And then his father-in-law died, passing his debts on to Jefferson.

Jefferson still lived a life of high society, though.  He outspent what he earned.  He served as an Ambassador to France, and the President, keeping up appearances all the while. He kept on racking up debt.  He lived long enough to see another period of economic turmoil in 1819, which didn’t help.  And he cosigned on a pretty big loan with a friend.  The friend died a year later.

He made some bad decisions, and could not catch a break.

Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine was not a president, or a great military leader, but was a shining example of the pen fortifying the sword.  His pamphlet, Common Sense, rallied the American people to the cause of independence.

He was born solidly middle class, and married a house servant purely for love (which was abnormal at the time.)  She passed away in childbirth, and then he married a teacher.  He tried his hand at many trades, but was pretty much broke all the time.  At the worst of it, he and the teacher split.

He came to America, and found his calling as a writer for a magazine.  As things heated up between the American colonists and the British, he firmly chose a side and wrote his epic pamphlet.  It tipped the colonists’ feeling of trepidation in confronting the crown towards outrage and a willingness to fight back.  It was the unifying force behind colonial political opinion.

During the war, he served as a military secretary.  While he was serving under Washington, he wrote a series of pamphlets called American Crisis that kept the troops’ morale up.

After the war, he was broke again.  He went to Congress to try to get payment for all he had done to help win the war.  They gave him land (we can all guess how that turned out, based on the previous two landowners,) and $3k reimbursement for money he had spent on war-related efforts.

Paine was fiery, which was what the colonists needed at the time.  But as a result, he wasn’t very tactful, and made a lot enemies.  He lived in France during their own Revolution, and was imprisoned by the Jacobins.  They meant to execute him, but by some lucky miracle the guy who was supposed to get him out of his cell forgot.  Before anyone could notice the error, Robespierre had been beheaded.

He wrote more pamphlets,  hung out with Napoleon, came back to America, and convinced Jefferson to make the Louisiana Purchase.  But he never really had any serious money.  He died penniless.  I’m not sure if he didn’t manage his money well, or he got into a career that didn’t pay well.  It was probably a combination of both.

They weren’t all broke.  And why does it matter?

Then there were men like Benjamin Franklin.  A rags to riches story.  A man who was not only constantly curious, but also invested in and expanded businesses he knew inside and out.  Maybe not the best family man.  Sound familiar?

The point is this: as we make our journeys through life, money can make us comfortable.  It can make some things easier.  It can be a powerful tool.  But it does not dictate the legacy we leave behind.  Today, does it matter that Washington struggled financially?  Not a bit.  In fact, if he hadn’t, he probably wouldn’t have been our first president. The fact that Paine was essentially penniless for most of his life didn’t stop him from uniting a people to revolution.

We are important.  No matter who we are.  No matter how much money we have or don’t have.  We can make positive changes in the world around us, because the most important currency doesn’t lie with dollars and cents; it lies with inspiration and ideas.