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Tag Archives: Women

Money: 10 things every woman should know

imageRecently a new college grad asked me if I had any advice on “getting rich”.

First thought, getting rich, seriously?  What does “rich” even mean anymore?

Second thought, getting rich has never been a goal of mine.  My goal has been to be financially secure enough that I can make life choices based on my values.

Then I thought, there are many things wise women have shared with me that changed my view of money and forever changed my life for the better.  So I will change the question and answer…

What should every woman know about money:

1. Money is a tool (it is not inherently good or bad).

2. Know yourself and make choices based on your values.

3. Every loan or credit card purchase has to be paid back, ensure you only borrow for investments in your future (useful degree, affordable house, etc. not  clothing-vacations-cars).

4. Live below your means (starting out this might even mean roommates, a bike instead of car, used furniture, learning to cook cheaply).

5. Let others pay the retail price (ebay, consignment, craigslist are your friends, even today my designer wardrobe is mostly ebay.  I will not pay $500 for my DVF dresses when I can buy them with no sign of wear on Ebay for $100).

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6. Save first.  From my first paycheck out of school I maxed my 401k contribution.  I also set up direct deposit for my savings (which is how I bought my first house at 22).  The trick is, if you never see the money, you can’t spend it.  My budget (house payment, car choice, entertainment budget) is based on the post-savings income.

7. Don’t waste money on taxes.  Max your401k, look into a Roth IRA, Flex Spending Account (FSA), donate items and keep the receipt.

8. Read the fine print. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is, always read the fine print before signing something with a financial component.

9. Don’t procrastinate.  Too often procrastination costs us money.  Read the fine print, know the deadlines and take action well ahead of time (to allow for errors and delays).  Keeping one calendar and to-do list helps.

10. Don’t rely on someone else to meet your financial goals.  You need to know your financial picture whether on your own, married, or with billionaire parents.   There is no knight in shining armor to rush in and save you financially.        Knowing what is happening with your finances and making decisions puts you in position to use money as tool and not be caught surprised down the road.

So none of my advice is flashy or ground-breaking.  It doesn’t have to be, money is in reality pretty simple and I love simple.

 

Being Grateful in Every Moment

imageI was once a full-on hippie, living from my car, camping my way across this North American continent.  Barely 18 and driving myself from the Midwest to Alaska. I rejected family, commitment, and mostly, responsibility.  I sought truth, the wild, beauty, and answers to the purpose of this life.

My life today is different.  I live in a lovely home, work a professional job, have a husband, children and daily commitments.  I have to carve time for adventures into the wild, and usually I bring my children with me.


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Yet the truth seeker, the beauty seeker, the wild seeker, she has not left.

So when I recently overheard someone telling a group to “stop seeking the answers of life for as soon as you find the answer, the questions will change” I was shocked.

Isn’t that the very point?  Follow with me for a moment.  As a child I was obsessed with reading historical literature (the whole living a thousand lives through books).  Then I became obsessed with religion and spirituality.  That transitioned into a questioning of the status quo and American Dream, which lead me to Alaska and exploring true wilderness (while learning to do so safely).  From there I delved into science, which lead me to a rewarding career.  The professional life and subsequent financial planning led to questioning my values and purpose in life.  Thanks to all the previous questioning (and answering) it was easy to  know my/my partner’s values and uproot our lives to better align with those values.  Now that we have children, all of those previous cycles of questioning and answering have culminated in the responsibility of raising people who will go out into the world and make their own way (a bonus of the Alaska years is knowing how to safely take them into the wild).

The constantly changing questions in my life have fueled my evolution.  

So, what does ring true to me?  I no longer reject commitment, responsibility, even tradition.  What I have come to believe wholeheartedly is:

The purpose of life is to be grateful in every moment.  

I used to read that line and scoff, how can I be grateful in the face of loss, tragedy?  Now I live these words, for the worst in my life has prepared me for the best.

And the commitments I used to flee, now I am thankful. Every commitment in my life, shows how my life is interconnected to those I love.

As I wrote that last line, I received a message from a beloved friend.  Her eldest is in the hospital with a newly-diagnosed, serious disease.  He is three.  Her third child is in her womb, past her due date.

My heart races to her, yet she is across the country and I cannot immediately be there. I am trying to get there.  Once there, I could help, sure, but I cannot take the challenging roles she must play out.  I cannot birth her baby for her, as much as I wish.  She has been up at night for weeks taking care of her son, waiting for some cure, diagnosis and she is exhausted.  I could sit at her son’s bedside but it is her that he wants and her that needs to be there.  In times like this it is so clear how strong we must be (in this instance, as mothers) and how deep our commitments must run.

It is moments like these that the biggest lesson I have learned comes heavily to me.

My life is to love.  My life’s work is to act on that love, to be strong for those who need strength, to be present for those who need me.  

It’s why the outcome of the mountaintop retreat is for me to give up my career in the next 8 months.  I have the answers to the questions that particular career gave me, and my focus has shifted again.  My role has changed and being at work, no matter how rewarding at one time, is no longer my focus, nor deepest commitment.

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“Be true to yourself.”

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A wise woman, who knows me well, told me, “Be true to yourself, share what you have learned”.

These words stopped my thought patterns and focused me on the big picture.  When am I true to myself?

When I am helping others, sharing what I have learned from great books and wise people.  

Given that a new season is upon us, the time of rebirth and change- this is my focus.  Be true to myself.  In all ways, at all times, in all things.

This woman lived life according to her own terms.  Abandoned by her husband at the start of the Great Depression, she was left to raise her daughter and  niece, alone.  She was strong, I don’t know if she began life that way or if she became that way through life’s lessons.

What I do know is she found solid work, supported her family, raised those girls and lived an elegant life centered around her loves.  Namely, the piano, family, an orderly self and home, red lipstick and beautiful hair (perfectly coiffed until the very end of her 90 years). She taught me discipline, appreciation for the arts, and how to play the piano.

She taught me another thing that stands out now, no excuses.  Life will throw at you what it will. All you control is your reaction to life.

I wish she had written, so I could learn from her thoughts on life instead of relying on the memories of how she conducted herself.  That is why today, I am writing.  There is no need for each of us to go through all of the lessons in life.  We can share what we have gathered and learn from one another.

What do you feel called to share today?

The Imagining Process: Part 1

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With the budget firmly in place and the financial plan running pretty much on auto-pilot, I am shifting gears to a series on the first tenet of this blog: imagining the life one wants to live.  There is nothing so personal.  No one can create this for you and no two people have exactly the same vision. It is the result of a lifetime of self-exploration and discovery.  That said, there are steps and tools that have aided myself and many others to visualize a self-directed path through life.

I like to begin this process by creating a Life Manifestation Board.  This is similar in process to the money manifestation board.  Creating this physical representation of what matters most to you in life, makes life change easier and decision-making much clearer:

  1. Start with a pen, paper, scissors and any flat surface (poster board or wrapping paper will work fine). *( If you would like to start the process now and don’t have the supplies on hand, simply create these categories on your phone, computer or a piece of paper.  You can always recreate the physical board at a later time.)
  2. Cut approximately 30 cards large enough to write a word or two
  3. Write 2-5 “Core” values each on a separate card.  These are the essential beliefs/needs you have in life.  For example, these might be health, spirituality, passion, love, beauty, etc.
  4. Then list the Manifestations of the Core, the ways the Core are expressed or shown in life.  Examples include family, exploring, creating, children, work.
  5. Then list the Actions that carry out the Core and Manifestations in your life. Examples include, helping others, eating healthfully, exercise, gardening, etc.
  6. Tape or glue the cards onto the board.  Keep the Core at the top, Manifestations in the middle and Actions at the bottom.
  7.  Spend time looking at what you have created.  Is there anything missing?  Are there things in your life now that occupy a lot of your time and energy but to not fulfill your imagined life?  What can you cut out of your life today?  What can you add?
  8. Place the board either in view or somewhere you can easily access when in need of focusing on your personal map for how you want to live your life.
  9. Refresh your Life Manifestation Board over time.  You will learn and grow and this map of your path should change with you.

 

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