Category Archives: Think

Why Being a P.I.T.A is a Good Thing!

I meet some of my favorite people in the most random and beautiful ways. In 2017, I was fortunate enough to meet Shanah Bell at a surprisingly emotional and wonderful dinner. I love talking to Shanah. In a world where I often feel like I’m walking a different path than everyone else around me–especially those my own age–her words make me want to celebrate this fact and all the rich experiences that come with it rather than allowing myself to feel isolated.

Today I want to share her words with you! Shanah recently released a great book called The Art of Being a PITA, which addresses the financials of living a nontraditional life. It’s super rad and you should pick a copy up today!

Without further ado, here’s Shanah to give you a little background on her own story.

Most people might consider being a P.I.T.A (pain in the ass!) a negative quality. In reality, that isn’t necessarily the case.

My mother gave me this nickname when I was growing up because I refused to do anything the traditional way. I am stubborn! And things haven’t really changed so much for me — I still fit into that category today! So, I suppose, if you want to call me a P.I.T.A for not always going with the flow, then so be it. I am a P.I.T.A.

But being one only means that I do things my own way, instead of how most people think I should do them. This primarily relates to how I have carved out my work-life and my career, going the non-traditional route and dumping the corporate 9-5 ideology. And actually, if anything, it has only aided me in being as successful as I am.

P.I.T.A Youth

When I was growing up, I was told that success equated to getting a good, corporate job, and that was the ONLY way to experience life-long stability.

This never felt right to me, though. I felt that there had to be a better way, because corporate jobs just don’t suit every personality. This is especially true of us P.I.T.A’s! We like to buck the system and think outside the box, which does not typically translate well into a corporate environment.

Even so, there were a few times that I tried to make it work. Oh, how I tried! I wanted to be considered stable and successful, and more than anything I wanted to make my family proud. But I never felt at home in a corporate job. I felt like those jobs sucked the life right out of me.

Why I Left Corporate Jobs Forever

Whenever I worked at a corporate job (and I’ve had a few!), I spent a decent portion of the day not doing anything productive because I had already completed my tasks. I really HATE being bored, sitting around and doing nothing, even if I am getting paid for it. I would much rather be busy, working my butt off the whole time than sitting around, twiddling my thumbs, trying to find things to do, or waiting for new opportunities to crop up.

To me, that is just ridiculous!

Then, after spending most of the day doing nothing, I would have to go sit in afternoon traffic for another hour, and once I was home it was time to decompress, which took at least another hour, if not all night.

For me, working a corporate job meant I was on someone else’s clock for close to 12 hours a day, yet only getting paid for 8. And the 8 hours I was getting paid, I wasn’t being nearly as productive as I could be on my own.

It became clear to me that leaving corporate jobs for good could not only free up my own personal time, but also potentially increase my income! I am much more productive overall when left to my own devices than I ever was when I was restricted by the constraints of a corporate job.

Tips to Being a Successful P.I.T.A

As a life-long P.I.T.A, I have learned quite a few tips, tricks, and lessons about success along the way. Some of these are:

  • Think outside of the box
  • Increase your problem-solving skills
  • Apply skills from previous jobs to new and unrelated fields
  • Never stop learning
  • Bust your ass at every job to prove that you can do anything
  • Keep lines of communication open with old co-workers, because you never know what future opportunities may lie there
  • Live your successful life — it’s different for everyone, so don’t let someone else determine what success looks like for you
  • Keep a budget and check it weekly
  • Don’t forget to save a little bit each week and put it into a high yield savings or retirement account

In Summary

Because I chose to live my life authentically, on my own terms, and in a way that I can be proud of, my income has the potential to be limitless. Every hour that I work is productive.

Therefore, I am able to work less hours and enjoy my life, while still continuing to learn and grow and increase my income. What a win-win! To me, this is the only way that I can live my life successfully. It took me a while to learn, but now there is no going back.

While being a P.I.T.A takes work, creativity, drive, and critical problem-solving skills, it is the only way that I get to live my life happily and successfully.

In what ways have you found being a P.I.T.A a good thing?

Read Across the Spectrum: Books by Autistic Authors

Great reads for parents of autistic kids! Books about autism by acutally Austistic authors.

It’s Friday, so it’s time for another edition of our Friday series for Autism Acceptance month! Acceptance means that not only are you aware of autism, but you appreciate all the beauty Autistic individuals bring to this world. You not only make yourself aware of the needless systemic obstacles Autistic people face because of the systems we have in place–you actively work to change those systems.

The awesome thing about this is that you don’t have to–nor should you–take my word for it. Instead, you can turn to people who are Autistic themselves. These talented writers and authors will show you the world through their lenses, across nonfiction, self-help and sci-fi literature.

Non-Fiction

The ABCs of Autism AcceptanceThe ABCs of Autism Acceptance

by Sparrow Rose Jones
Get it here.

“Sparrow Rose Jones is probably best known for their blog, Unstrange Mind: Remapping My World, and their previous book, No You Don’t: Essays from an Unstrange Mind, both of which deftly narrate their examination of themself, their identity as an Autistic person, and the  changing state of access and civil rights for Autistic people. Their essays have covered everything from famous civil rights and criminal cases in the media to sexuality and relationships, life skills, coping mechanisms, and personal introspection.

In The ABCs of Autism Acceptance, Sparrow takes us through a guided tour of the topics most central to changing the way that autism is perceived, to remove systemic barriers to access that have traditionally been barriers to Autistic participation in some sectors of society.

They also take us through the basics of Autistic culture, discussing many of its major features and recent developments with a sense of history and making the current state of the conversation around this form of neurodivergence clear to those who are new to it, whether they are Autistic themselves or a friend/family member looking for resources to help themselves support the Autistic people in their lives more fully. While it is impossible to capture the full scope and diversity of Autistic communities—and there are many of them out there—this book does serve as an important conversation starter, a primer, and a humble guide to the world.

In these 26 short essays, you will find most of the topics most often blogged about by Actually Autistic authors, including footnotes, resources, and references to other writers whose works continue the conversations that start here.”

The Real Experts: Readings for Parents of Autistic Children

The Real Experts: Readings for Parents of Autistic ChildrenEdited by Michelle Sutton
Get a copy here.

“How do I help my child to thrive? To be healthy and happy, to fulfill his or her positive potentials, and to grow up to lead a good life? Every parent of an autistic child struggles daily with this question. Just trying to understand an autistic child’s actions, feelings, and needs can seem like an overwhelming challenge. It doesn’t help that professional “experts” and the mass media bombard us with all sorts of harmful and terrifying misinformation about autism.

Fortunately, more and more parents are discovering an essential source of insight into autism: the writings of autistic adults. Who better to help us understand autistic children and their needs, than the people who have actually been autistic children?

Listening to the insights and experiences shared by autistic bloggers has helped Michelle Sutton to help her two autistic children to thrive. In The Real Experts , Michelle has collected writings from a dozen autistic authors, containing “insider” wisdom on autism that has been invaluable to her family. The result is an extraordinary resource for families with autistic children, and also for educators, therapists, and other professionals.”

Loud Hands: Autistic People, Speaking


Loud Hands: Autistic People, Speaking
by Julia Bascom

Get it here.

“Loud Hands: Autistic People, Speaking is a collection of essays written by and for Autistic people. Spanning from the dawn of the Neurodiversity movement to the blog posts of today, Loud Hands: Autistic People, Speaking catalogues the experiences and ethos of the Autistic community and preserves both diverse personal experiences and the community’s foundational documents together side by side.”

Authoring Autism: On Rhetoric and Neurological Queerness

Authoring Autism: On Rhetoric and Neurological Queerness

by Melanie Yergeau
Get it here.

“In Authoring Autism Melanie Yergeau defines neurodivergence as an identity—neuroqueerness—rather than an impairment. Using a queer theory framework, Yergeau notes the stereotypes that deny autistic people their humanity and the chance to define themselves while also challenging cognitive studies scholarship and its reification of the neurological passivity of autistics. She also critiques early intensive behavioral interventions—which have much in common with gay conversion therapy—and questions the ableist privileging of intentionality and diplomacy in rhetorical traditions.

Using storying as her method, she presents an alternative view of autistic rhetoricity by foregrounding the cunning rhetorical abilities of autistics and by framing autism as a narrative condition wherein autistics are the best-equipped people to define their experience. Contending that autism represents a queer way of being that simultaneously embraces and rejects the rhetorical, Yergeau shows how autistic people queer the lines of rhetoric, humanity, and agency. In so doing, she demonstrates how an autistic rhetoric requires the reconceptualization of rhetoric’s very essence.”

Fiction

Monsters in My Mind

Monsters in My Mindby Ada Hoffmann
Get it here.

“Ada Hoffmann’s MONSTERS IN MY MIND anthologizes 49 pieces of the author’s speculative fiction and poetry published between 2010 and 2017, including ten new, never-before-seen pieces. The author’s range is on full display in this collection: the 49 works alternate among traditional short stories, flash fiction, microfiction, poetry, and prose poems, creating a rhythm and flow to the collection as a whole and uniting stories with otherwise multitudinous and divergent content. Much of the work is suitable for readers of all ages, although it is worth noting that several stories deal frankly with issues of gender, queerness, sexuality, grief, and loss. Every piece in the collection constructs an immediate and effortless world whose rules are self-evident, although rarely explicit, plunging the reader again and again into an ever-expanding literary multiverse.

When it comes to themes, MONSTERS IN MY MIND spans the speculative fiction universe, demonstrating that the genre itself is bound only by the limits of the human imagination, and that its “raw materials” continually reemerge, shift, act, and process in ways few can articulate. The collection is not merely “weird,” as so much speculative fiction is; it is weird in the best ways, weird in the service of, and underscoring the true expansive potential of, the human. By exploring deeply human experiences like loss, grief, duty, love, courage, and loneliness within the context of parallel universes, fantasy quests, reimagined fairytales, near-sentient AI, velociraptors, and the occasional cephalopod, the collection creates a form of access for the reader: a way to approach, understand, and even befriend the monsters in one’s own mind through the exploration of worlds that are vividly different, yet achingly familiar.

The collection is essential reading for anyone interested in speculative fiction, the shifting boundaries of more “traditional” science fiction and fantasy genres, queer theory, or monster studies.”

All the Weight of Our Dreams All the Weight of Our Dreams: On Living Racialized Autism

by Autism Women’s Network
Get it here.

“Delve into poetry, essays, short fiction, photography, paintings, and drawings in the first-ever anthology entirely by autistic people of color, featuring 61 writers and artists from seven countries. The work here represents the lives, politics, and artistic expressions of Black, Brown, Latinx, Indigenous, Mixed-Race, and other racialized and people of color from many autistic communities, often speaking out sharply on issues of marginality, intersectionality, and liberation.”

This Other World

This Other Worldby A.C. Buchanan
Get it here.

“When her son reached adulthood, Vonika made the decision to emigrate to Kami, settling in the nation of Temia. In the years since, she’s married a Temian woman, established a distinguished career in architecture, and found the sense of belonging that she, as an autistic woman, struggled to find on Earth.

But the approach of old age brings decisions that Vonika knows she can’t avoid forever. And as Temia teeters on the edge of war, Vonika finds herself a reluctant emissary for peace.”

Want more from Autistic authors?

Check out this Actually Autistic Book List on GoodReads!

#InternationalWomensDay2019 PF Blog Tour

Hey, guys! March 8th is International Women’s Day. To celebrate, I got together with some fab personal finance bloggers to arrange a blog tour. Each one of us answered the question, “Why is financial independence important to you as a woman?”

Keep scrolling to read Robin’s piece. It’s deep, and will definitely leave you thinking about money on another level.

Want to check out other posts in this blog tour? You can do so here:

As an Asian immigrant woman, I have to survive on my own and have learned not to use my background to lower my ambition.”

Elise on brokeGIRLrich

“When we were fighting over where to live, he ended the fight one day by just going out and buying a condo.”

Mel on Mastering the Side Jam

 

“You’re forced into poverty. You learn to get by on what little you have. There is no pathway to financial independence. And that’s not okay.”

Femme Frugality on A Dime Saved

“Women have worked so hard for the rights that were begrudgingly given to us. Let us not relinquish them. Even in our minds.”

Robyn on Little Seeds of Wealth

And now, without further ado, I introduce you to Robin from Mastering the Side Jam:

Why Financial Independence is Important to Me as a Gen X Woman

In honor of International Women’s Day, a group of female writers were asked to share why financial independence is important to them as women. I decided to participate, knowing my story might be a bit different than others in my age range. I’m located squarely within the Generation X era, generally considered to be middle-aged.

Far enough from youth that one would assume I’d have a fair amount of knowledge and wisdom. And while I won’t exactly dispute that, I will say I’ve worn my share of blinders over the years.

But also, I love having opportunities like this, as it provides a venue to experience and share many unique perspectives. Because every story is different. Every scenario weighted and affected by millions of decision points. Not one person has a life, or background, or “why” precisely the same as someone else’s. We are a product of our genetics, upbringing, influences, experiences, actions, choices, and challenges.

So why is financial independence important to me specifically?

I think it essentially comes down to how complicated life can sometimes become. Because for all the planning, and education, and best-laid plans …. well, you’ve probably heard the end of that phrase. No matter how much time you’ve spent in painstaking preparation, things don’t always go the way you expect them to.

Family Structures

Case in point: I am in a long-term, committed relationship. However, I am not married. Our relationship has lasted a lot longer than the marriages of some friends and peers. But just the same, we have no legal document saying we are responsible for, or indebted to, one another.

In addition, I’ve been the parent of two children who are not my own. I chose to raise them, provide for them, support them emotionally and financially. That was my decision. Do they owe me anything? No, of course not. I am not their mother. I love them like the children I never actually had (and never will.) But they technically don’t owe me a thing.

As I grow old and gray, there’s no guarantee I will have anyone to care for me in my later years. There’s no reason to assume they will provide assistance, like one might expect children to care for their aging parents. While I do give them the benefit of the doubt, since they’re amazing young men — it’s not a position I prefer to even put them in.

In my early 20’s, I willingly entered into a relationship with a single father of two children. Their “real” mother had hightailed it out of there, for reasons no one will ever know. But I knew what I was getting into. I was fully aware of what I might be giving up. How they would always come first, since they were his flesh and blood. I was just the person who cooked, cleaned, paid bills, packed lunches, attended school conferences and baseball games.

Putting the needs of all others above my own, because that’s what a mother does. (Even though I’m not a mother.)

Three women wearing pink and white khimars standing looking out at a blurred vista underneath a flowering, pink/purple plum tree. Underneath, pink and black words on a white field read "International Women's Day Personal Finance Blog Tour"

They’re grown. What next?

Twenty years later, they have sprung into adulthood. They’re self-sufficient, and I am nothing but proud of all they’ve become. But as they get older, their lives will begin to evolve as well.

They’ll fall in love, get an apartment or a house, begin a family. Do I want to remain a part of their lives? Absolutely! But that’s not an ironclad promise. Because their “real” mother may enter back into the picture. They may begin to feel nostalgic, and forgive all of her transgressions.

And if their father and I part ways someday? There’s a chance I may be cut out of the fold. After all, he is true family, and I’m not. What loyalties do they have for me, over him? When push comes to shove, if they’re forced to take a side, I know it would be him. It would have to be, since he’s their father.

He and I have never married, which I suppose makes it both better and worse. Better, because we legally don’t owe each other a thing. Worse, because it would almost be too easy for one of us to make that decision, take that leap. No messy divorce red tape to cut through, because we are just “dating.” (For twenty years.)

Because of that, he also does not owe me anything. All I did was raise his children, keep house, act as disciplinarian, and give up a huge chunk of my youth and child-bearing years. But that was my choice. I know that, and have no regrets.

Raising those boys has been the absolute best part of my life, and I truly believe it was my purpose. But also, acknowledging there is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. “Why bother changing now? We’ve made it this far — and marriage is just a piece of paper.”

And now that I’m a bit older, wondering where my life has gone — there’s a renewed frenzy to start getting my financial house in order. Because back then, I was needed. Whether appreciated or not, I was a staple in the household. They couldn’t get by without me. And now they can.

So the years of putting others’ needs ahead of my own are finally beginning to gnaw at me. A lack of savings, inadequate retirement plan, barely perceptible emergency fund. Those are things I’m in the process of building, because no one else is going to do it for me.

I have to learn how to be self sufficient, financially independent, if need be. To have a handle on where the next phase of my life is headed.

I know plenty of middle-aged single women, who have been operating on their own for many years. And I know just as many middle-aged married women, who have the inferred safety of leaning on another for financial worries. And I’m not sure where I might fit in with these groups.

Because although I’ve been part of a family unit for an extended amount of time, I’m still essentially on my own. When it all comes down to it, no one is going to take care of me, except me. And that is my goal in pursuing financial independence.

I’m the odd woman out. Or am I?

So why is it important for me to be financially independent? Because there’s that possibility I may have to fend for myself one day. No one else has an obligation to care for me — which is a scary realization.

And while my circumstances may be a bit unique, I’m pretty sure there are women out there who may be in a similar situation. Putting too many eggs into one basket. Betting on something that is far too risky to gamble.

After years and years of giving pieces of yourself, be careful you haven’t given away too much. Make sure you have something else to fall back on, just in case you need it. And if you don’t — well, then that’s the best possible insurance policy for you to hold on to.

Don’t Let Millennial Anxiety Ruin Your Money

African-American woman with dreads dyed green and pulled up in a pony tail on top of her head sitting on a chair in front of a Home Depot or like store. She is wearing a white shirt, silver necklace and yellow and black patterned pants as she sits in a chair, holding her head in concern. Below this is white space and then bold black lettering reading, "don't let millennial anxiety ruin your money femmefrugality.com"

Millennial anxiety.

It’s a real thing. If you were given participation trophies and told you could do anything you wanted when you grew up if you just worked hard enough, your parents’ self-confidence-inducing plans may have backfired.

It has been well established that millennials are the most anxious generation, especially in the realms of health, safety and personal finances. This is a PF site, so we’re going to focus on the latter today.

But before we delve into all this, let’s talk about who you’ll actually find in the millennial generation.

Who are millennials?

The millennial generation spans births from the years 1981-1996. The oldest of us grew up with Saturday morning cartoons back when you couldn’t watch whatever you wanted whenever you wanted, before the internet was a big thing, before most people had PCs, even before AOL and Juno.

We remember these things because they unfolded before us in our conscious lives. We grew up knocking on our neighborhood friends’ doors to see if they could come out to play, but by the time we graduated high school a lot of us had cell phones or used AIM on our PCs to get in touch with our friends. That PC was too heavy for one person to pick up safely, and was usually kept in the basement or guest room next to the only dial-up line in the house.

But we’d still pick up and call each other for the most part.

Facetime wasn’t a thing for most of us in high school, though the younger portion of the generation may disagree on that point. Neither were smartphones until the vast majority of us had already entered our 20s.

Millennial Young Adulthood

My middle-of-the-Millennial-pack class in particular was slated to graduate college at the height of the Great Recession.

When we entered college and picked our majors, we assumed the world would go on just the way it had been as our parents raised us: With jobs that paid us enough to comfortably pay back our student loans, a country that raised us in apparent peace during the 90s–though there was a lot going on behind the scenes–and with strong military force after we saw the Twin Towers fall in college, high school or even middle or elementary school for some of the younger amongst us, and with a relatively stable economy which was largely able to bounce back from what we previously viewed as disasters–examples include the crash after 9/11 and the dot com boom and subsequent bust.

So while some of us are younger, really we’re the last generation to remember a time before the tech boom. Before we socialized digitally. And before there was such uncertainty about America’s future.

Why do millennials have anxiety?

Science isn’t 100% on this yet, though UC Berkley is currently conducting a study looking into it. I do want to get into some of the potential reasons, though, noting that without data, it’s all speculation.

Career-induced anxiety

First, let’s look at the big thing we touched on in the last section: The Recession.

It came at a real bad time for us Millennials. Just as we were starting out our careers, jobs were scarce and experience was valued. Without experience, it was hard to hop on the employment train.

When people started hiring again, they didn’t want people in their mid to late twenties with no experience as their new hires. They wanted college students. While some of the younger millennials may have been spared the worst of this, for many, that jolt at the beginning of our careers would leave its mark. Our career paths were uncertain, and that was something our parents hadn’t readily prepared us for as a whole.

Recession-induced anxiety

We also got scared off from the stock market. It seemed like a risky thing to young people. We watched it go down as our parents’ generation freaked out over their retirement savings or even just keeping their home. We watched jobs dry up. We watched opportunities shrink and doors shut. Our childhood was based upon a relative stability that was irrevocably breached. And we remember.

Student Loan-induced anxiety

We also have taken on a massive amount of student loans. This is in part due to the rising cost of college, which was only accelerated through state budget austerity policies after the Recession. Those of us who were lucky enough to dodge the student loan bullet often do so at the expense of our own education and often our salaries–especially if you never returned to school.

Of course, there were some mommies and daddies paying for college, but far less than you may assume.

Millennials don’t feel secure. And maybe they shouldn’t.

Because loyalty isn’t as imperative of a quality in employees anymore, nor can it be expected from employers, we job hop more than any other generation. We’re also starting out or hitting the highest earning points in our careers with the growing gig economy, which is really just a way for companies to get around workers rights and sometimes even paying a fair wage.

No wonder we have a lot of financial anxiety. With rising prices, stagnant wages and a disappearing middle class, our worries are well justified.

Other sources of anxiety.

A lot of us grew up in religious households, but abandoned those religions as we grew up. Millennials are still into community; just not dogma. Ironically enough, we struggle to find that community as adults, even when it was the part of the religious experience we valued.

Instead, we put a lot of faith in our public institutions. Then things like 9/11 happen and the world changes. The economy crashes. We have a president who fixes it. And then he leaves because we used to have presidents who followed decorum, and then Trump is elected president.

The very things we tend to put our faith in have been shaking under our feet since adolescence.

Another problem is that when you’re told you can grow up to do anything you want, you feel like a letdown if you don’t reach your goals. With a lot of barriers placed in our paths early on in our careers, some realized they couldn’t achieve their potential.

Many more continue fighting a battle which feels like it’s in vain. We have more aspirations towards individual success than any other generation, and the fact that we can’t always achieve makes us feel like failures. Like we’re not working hard enough. Even though wages have stayed relatively stagnant while workforce productivity has gone up since we joined in the game.

The ironic thing is that when anxiety gets bad enough, it can affect how much you can work or the efficiency of that work. So let’s look at some solutions to common millennial anxiety problems.

Financial solutions to millennial anxiety.

NUMBER ONE: Seek mental health care. If you can get your brain worked out everything–including money–will be so much easier.

Career

Be kind to yourself. Cut yourself a break. You don’t have to have a job you love that fulfills your soul. Your parents likely didn’t. Their generation was largely able to expect steady work at one or two companies over the course of their career, and that was a good thing. Meaning be damned.

If you can find a position you love, awesome. But if you can’t, know that there are many other ways to find meaning in life as we talk about in The Feminist Financial Handbook. Your work can be something you do to pay the bills and save for retirement. You can find meaning outside the realm of dollars and cents.

Also, try to get comfortable with freelancing. Overall, the rise of freelancing is a negative cultural trend for American workers, but if you can run your business right, it can supply a varied source of income so that if one stream of revenue dries up, you’ve still got other clients to rely on. Having a thick emergency fund can be a huge sanity saver when you’re freelancing, too.

Invest

The stock market can be a scary thing, until you read JL Collins’ stock series.

If you get all TLDR on me, let me give you the main take away: Invest in index funds as preached by Bogle. Collins also wrote a book on getting started with investing which I highly recommend: The Simple Path to Wealth.

If you think investing is just for rich people, allow me to prove you wrong in a happy-for-all-of-us way:

With the advent of FinTech, or financial technology, you don’t need a big chunk of change to get invested in the market anymore. There are tons of roboadvisors out there who allow you to get started with $20-$25 minimums, and do all the asset allocation for you. Make sure you find one who is charging low fees by doing comparison shopping before committing to any one robo advisor.

You might not be able to do the index fund thing right off the bat if you use some of these roboadvisors. But it will get you started with the habit of investing, as you build up your nest egg until you meet that minimum opening balance requirement on a Vanguard or like account.

If you like the idea of investing, but are broke af and kind of need to know the money will be accessible if you need it, look into Roth IRAs as a potentially viable option outside of those traditionally offered by employers. You can’t withdraw interest you earn without incurring fees and tax penalties, but you can withdraw the money you contributed.

Take time off work

You know those vacation days you’ve been piling up in an effort to look like a dedicated employee?

Stop that. First of all, even if you have an employer who pays you to cash in days at the end of the year or end of your tenure, the payout pales in comparison to the value you gave to the company for free.

Secondly, taking breaks isn’t just good for you as a human being. It also makes you a more creative, focused and efficient employee.

Remember that this is true even if you’re a freelancer or business owner. That time that you invest in yourself, away from work and email and everything, is time you’re really investing in the efficiency of your business.

If you don’t have vacation days and you want them, you can try to negotiate them into your compensation package, or you can find ways to go back to school for cheap or even free so that you are able to find a job with benefits or gain the connections you’ll need to build your business.

Make sure you’re on the right student loan plan

Several years ago, we had a reader and fellow blogger contribute a piece on the proper way to pay off your loans if you wanted to qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). Essentially, if you want the government to actually forgive your loans because you entered the field of public service like they promised to in 2007, you had to make sure you had the right type of loans AND that you were on right type of repayment plan.

Most people weren’t familiar with the intricacies of the rules, and the government for its part did not make the process easy to navigate.

This resulted in suspiciously low forgiveness numbers in 2017–the first year the first applicants qualified for forgiveness. Many were turned away because they did not have the right loan or repayment plan for either a portion or the entirety of their loan.

Talk about questioning your career choices.

Budget for Convenience Spending

This is a tip I’m taking from Abigail Perry, who wrote the great book Frugality for Depressives. She recommends this method for those suffering from depression because some days you just can’t.

And to ignore that fact is to fail your budget from Day 1.

If you’re highly anxious or stressed out, odds are you’re going to have those “just can’t” days, too. Pretending it won’t happen is fiscal folly.

As we talked about a couple of weeks ago via Hasan Minhaj, millennials will pay for convenience, many times even if it means compromising on their values.

Automate your bills

When you can’t even, you’re probably going to have a hard time remembering to pay the bills. Automate them as much as possible so things will be taken care of even if you forget. You can do this with many bills, like utilities, health insurance, credit card bills, retirement savings and more.

Separately, you can set up an automatic transfer from your checking to savings account every payday to make sure you’re saving as much as you’d like to be for your emergency fund, vacation or whatever other goal you may have on the horizon. This makes the savings process a whole lot less painful and your goals more likely to become a reality.

Redefine Success

Millennials are very concerned with individualistic over familial success. This is often reflected via our careers or our perception of how much money we make or save as individuals.

If you can manage your money, great. It’ll help you achieve your goals that much easier.

But money is just a tool. It is not the end in and of itself. Your money story is not likely to be a straight line. Learn to embrace failure, and to recognize each step as a journey unto itself. When you start defining life more by the things that are important to you and your values rather than using monetary measurements, you’ll gain more peace than dollars and cents could alone confer.

Know you’re not alone.

We are Generation Anxiety. There are a lot of other people out there going through the same thing as you, wondering why it’s so hard to make plans when you have a rolodex of thousands of “friends” on social media. Wondering why despite all your hard work, you’re reaching a mental breaking point without achieving the success you had been aspiring towards.

Reach out. Budget for reality without scolding yourself for your lack of discipline. And know that we’re all messed up. You are not alone.

 

Valentine’s DNA

Modern woman split-screened with a photograph of her ancestory featured on a field of red hearts. "What will you discover?" "Start here" "ancestrydna" "femmefrugality.com"

With Valentine’s Day coming up, I’ve been wanting to do a new, holiday-centric piece. I wasn’t exactly sure where to take it this year, though. I wasn’t feeling incredibly sappy, so I instead went incredibly nerdy.

I started thinking of all the DNA we all carry in each one of our cells. How that DNA contains a history of countless couples mating in some way. And how the end result of all of that history and all of those lives is you.

And that in and of itself is pretty amazing, whether you have another set of DNA cuddling next to you on the couch or not.

If you don’t feel like waiting until the end to see how this pertains to money, Ancestry is having a super sale on AncestryDNA for Valentine’s Day. I usually only write  about the sales on this product for Black Friday as that’s the biggest one they have all year, but this one is dramatic enough that it’s worth shouting from the rooftops.

You have a lot of ancestors. And they might not have been human.

If you trace back just 30 generations, or about 1,000 years back, you have over 1 trillion direct ancestors. Homo sapiens are 200k-300k years old. I don’t know how to pronounce the number of ancestors you could potentially have, friend.

Except you don’t have as many ancestors as basic math would imply. Humans have inbred over their history, and not everyone has had kids. There are significant bottlenecks in the DNA story of each one of us.

Our ancestors were mostly human. Some but not all people will have some Neanderthals and Denisovans in their direct line, too, though.

Eve is real. Kind of.

Mitochodrial DNA is passed on from your mother’s side. Always. What that means is if we all trace back far enough in our mitochondrial DNA, we should be able to find our initial mothers.

Except that we all have one mitochondrial mother, aptly named Eve. Eve wasn’t the only female around at her time, but her mitochondrial DNA was the only one to survive. That doesn’t mean you’re not related to another contemporary of Eve’s on your father’s side, say, or even your mother’s side through her father.

But it does mean that the mother-to-child mitochondrial DNA chain was broken for all of her contemporary females, but not Eve. We all call the same common anscestor, “Mom,” though she was not necessarily the very first human mother.

Valentine’s Day isn’t the biggest DNA fest.

When we look at birth months in the US, there is a significant drop in October and November, right when you’d expect Valentine’s Day babies to be born. Instead, the most popular times to exchange DNA appear to be November and December, according to the CDC’s birth numbers. This assumes all babies will be born on their due date, which is a noteworthy asterisk.

I love this nurse midwife’s insight into the whole thing. Like she talks about Polar Vortex babies: Because when no one can or wants to leave the house, they apparently get together more. Then nine months later, she’s crazy busy at work.

Cold weather = Less crime and more babies.

There’s a sale. Learn more about your DNA for less.

This year for Valentine’s Day, Ancestry is lowering the price of their AncestryDNA kit from $99 to $59–that’s 40% off! It’s not too often that they have sales this big, but when they do, AncestryDNA is a reader favorite.