Money, New Year’s Resolutions, and Financial Freedom

I know a lot of people are making finance-related new year’s resolutions this week, so I thought I would share some of the savings/investment tools that have really made a difference for me in the past year. And if you’re reading this after the new year–well hey, it’s never too late to make moves toward financial freedom!
My newest favorite (as of April 2017) is Wealthsimple, which is where I hold my Roth IRA. They let you invest in socially responsible companies and they manage your first $5,000 free. In addition, if you sign up through someone else’s referral, you each get an additional $10,000 managed free for another year. My  link is here: Wealthsimple-Smart Investing.
Update: since Digit is going to start charging $2.99/month for their services starting in July, I’ve decided to stop using them by that time. That may be okay for some people…but I’m cheap enough that that was a deal-breaker for me. =) Just leaving this here for the sake of information.
I started using the (free) Digit savings app in the middle of 2016 (while making very little extra money at the time, by the way) and was able to save about an extra $1000 just through the app. Basically, it transfers very small amounts of money that you won’t miss from your checking account into a savings account. You can withdraw it whenever, but it’s a really great way to save for a large purchase or trip, to finance an emergency fund, pay down debt at a faster rate, etc.
 
I also started using Acorns, which is a lot like Digit but for investments. If you want to invest in a diversified portfolio but don’t have lots of extra money or extra time (or if you just aren’t a seasoned investor), this is a great way to go. It lets you invest amounts as small as $5 at a time and takes the “round-ups” from all of your purchases and turns them into investments. I’m super nerdy about it, but I check the app pretty much every day to see how much I’ve “made” as of that day/month/quarter/etc. I’m still always excited to see the dividends added to my account, even though it’s still a bit surreal to me that I can make money from investing such small amounts at a time.
For those of you who are interested, using my link starts you off with a free $10 in your account ($10 through April and on several other months; otherwise, it starts you with a free $5 instead). Acorns also recently became completely free for college students, so I highly recommend this to those of you still in school. For everyone else, it’s a dollar per month (unless you’ve invested like $50K in which case it’s more like 0.25% or so). My referral link: Acorns.
For people more interested in just cutting daily expenses, I also use Ibotta for grocery savings, which thus far is my favorite of all of the grocery apps I’ve used. I’m pretty frugal anyway, but I was still able to get a couple hundred dollars in grocery rebates back from Ibotta. If you’re interested in signing up, this link will start you with $10 after you claim your first rebate: Ibotta Grocery Coupons.
As someone who grew up stressing about where every penny went and devising ways to make money or cut costs as far back as I can remember, it has honestly been life-changing to have a healthy emergency fund, no credit card debt, and to have started saving for retirement already. I don’t think people really understand the difference unless they have personally been through legitimate financial hardship, but every aspect of life is so, so, so much easier when you are financially stable.

And just like that

You were gone,

Much like the wave of

Emotion your now-distant

Memory succinctly evokes.

Sometimes, it can be a blessing to have the “one that got away” only a text message away. He, who broke my heart several short years ago, was suddenly my lifeline when Seyi turned out to be a legitimately shitty person. Even now, we are in tune enough for that; still finishing each other’s sentences after all this time. I told him I’d never forgive him if he made me fall for him again…but perhaps I’ve finally (hopefully!!!) learned what Ms. Maya admonished long ago: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

I’m not sure if it’s from being sick, or perhaps the days I end up working 9:30-8:30, but I’ve just been really tired lately. And very frustrated tonight… I stayed for the remainder of open gym and I just couldn’t/wouldn’t (the issue is mental, not a physical inability) tumble except for throwing tucks on one specific mat. -__- I’m so, so fucking tired of dealing with mental blocks. Tired of not having my life where I want it in general, I guess. But that takes time. I know it will work out, so I’ve just got to keep chugging along.

I’m moving next month. I certainly have mixed feelings about that, since there’s so much more I wanted to be able to do for my parents before I moved, but with my sister moving back home it’s just a better idea for me to go. Plot twist: I’m moving in with the “other woman” (or one of them, anyway); hereafter, I’ll just refer to her as “F,” my roommate-to-be. As she and I have laughed about, Seyi may have been a shitty person but he sure did have good taste in women. 😉 We’d wanted to meet each other for a while, and it turns out we have a whole lot in common. I’m excited about this new chapter in my life even as I am already missed evenings with my parents and worrying about the financial aspects.

I hope things will feel better in the morning. It was just a rough day, but things will get better soon. Maybe I just need a hug, a long set of sprints, and a margarita.

Self-confidence Sunday #8

It feels like a lot of things have fallen apart in about the last 24-48 hours, so I could really use this dose of positivity today. Sometimes I have these days where it seems like I’ve wasted a lot of time in my life (making the choice to go to graduate school feels naive and misguided at times, for example), as though I’m not where I “should” be, and like I’m not as good at anything as I should be by this point.

Today, I have added some images that remind me how very happy cheering and coaching make me, how strong and determined I feel when faced with implicit challenges therein. I am reminded of the above statement: “You grow and thrive by doing what excites you and what scares you every day, not by trying to find your passion.” This week, I am determined not to overlook the day-to-day things that fascinate me and instead commit to doing things that scare me a little bit.

Coed Cheer Partner Stunt Cupie Awesome Handstand Splits Wedge Mat Gymnastics Vanderbilt Cheerleader Smile Tennessee Football

Mizzou, Racism, and Social Justice: On-Par with My MU Experience

Though it is unusual for me to do so, I have largely kept my silence about the recent events at Mizzou in favor of sorting out my own unresolved feelings. It has been intriguing watching from the sidelines, and an altogether exhausting and anger-inducing experience reflecting on my time as a graduate student at Mizzou, a coach in and resident of Columbia, and an advocate in an atmosphere that is altogether hostile of any person who dares critique the status quo. It was—and still is—incomprehensible to me that so many people are unwilling to even entertain the idea that racial inequality is a problem in Columbia and at the University. Let’s talk for a second about comfortability.

I am angry that white male students at Mizzou were comfortable enough to make racial remarks, quite audibly, when I was walking with black male classmates on campus. I am angry that people were comfortable enough to make discriminatory remarks toward black cheer teams (read: at CHILDREN) at cheerleading competitions to the tune of, “Just wait til we beat them and send their ass back to the ghetto.” I am angry that it didn’t even surprise me to hear a couple other coaches in Missouri discuss, quite calmly and matter-of-factly, “why Mexicans don’t take care of their families” (……… hard ellipsis here, for reasons that should be obvious). I am angry that residents were comfortable enough to voice the fact that they don’t believe in interracial marriage because it’s “too hard for the kids” (btw: if people in the city weren’t racist, it probably wouldn’t be so hard for the kids). I am angry that I was informed by a resident that the area I was living in was dangerous because of who I was living near, but that he knew a couple marines who walked their German shepherds in that area so that “they” would leave them alone; the hard part of this one is that I know the man was truly concerned for my well-being and was very surprised that his statement was upsetting to me. My neighbors had always been very nice to me. I am angry that a student felt comfortable enough, convicted enough in hateful rhetoric, to draw a swastika in human feces on a dormitory wall. I am angry that certain residents wouldn’t hear a word against their cops…but there was a Columbia cop who was comfortable enough to tell me (during a conversation on my undergraduate specialty in clinical neuroscience) that he wasn’t sure white people and black people even had identical brain structures. But those things–in addition to some of the more graphic stories I prefer not to post online at this time–are just isolated incidents, right? That’s still just me being “closed-minded” because I hate white people (or at least, that’s what the consensus was last year); my bad.

My experience at Mizzou showed me that there are a whole lot of people out there who are more concerned with being called racist than they are with actual racism. Racism itself was part of the culture, fine as long as you don’t speak about it openly, it doesn’t make them uncomfortable, and you don’t point fingers at white people for being racist. My stance about Ferguson resulted in a cheer parent, who I previously had a good relationship with, making a public status on her Facebook page–in full view of my former athletes–declaring that she had finally unfriended me, ranting about my lack of character, and proposing that I was possibly even mentally unstable. This, of course, was the perfect opportunity for several other parents and a coworker to jump in and cosign those statements rather than sitting down and having a conversation with me like a human being. That incident, though it was ugly and certainly upsetting to me, is nothing compared to what students of color experience at Mizzou and in Columbia on a constant basis. It’s nothing compared to the backlash ConcernedStudent1950 (and, you know, any student who isn’t white) is currently experiencing, the terroristic threats, the vandalism of the BCC last night…and so on. To all of my friends and classmates on the front lines of the movement at Mizzou: I am so proud of you. I am proud to know you, to have sat beside you in classes, to have met and heard you speak at demonstrations, to call you friends. You all are in my thoughts; please stay safe as you work to make needed changes to the very core of this institution.

P.S. Any statements along the lines of “but not all white people” (we all know that; it’s a diversionary remark) warrant the ghost of my late cat haunting you for the next three weeks. Just don’t.

Seven Wonders

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Seven Wonders.”

Khalil Gibran once said that people will never understand one another unless language is reduced to seven words. What would your seven words be?

  • Love
  • Sorry
  • Forgive
  • Joy
  • Help
  • Sorrow
  • Together

What about you, readers? These were mostly my first instincts, but I had to think more the farther I got down the list. What would your seven words be, and why?

Fave Foto Friday-Window Cat

Window CatOkay, so I might be a (tiny) bit biased, but this little guy is pretty handsome, if I do say so myself. On a day when it feels like I’ve got 348992857 things to do and no time in which to get them done, he reminds me of the importance of slowing down, enjoying the moment, and making time for an occasional cuddle or two (and for opening a can of tuna fish for some spoiled pet who shall remain nameless, but that’s a story for another time).

Inspiration thanks to: Scribbles and Musings: Favorite Foto Friday .

Mission: Failure–Challenge Accepted

Nothing Will Ruin Your 20sAs I ponder how to approach the current crossroads in my life, which includes milestones such as completing graduate school, moving back to my home state for the first time since high school (yes, I’m “one of those obnoxious Texans”), and breaking into a new industry, I have begun to focus on what fulfillment means for me personally: What gives meaning to my life? When am I happiest? What do I value most? Which hobbies and lines of work lead to late nights and early mornings, all for the sake of passion about the pursuit? Who do I want to be in five and fifteen years, and how will I want to have made a difference? What do I wish I’d done differently in life thus far, and how will I avoid making similar choices in the future?

A Vanderbilt grad, and perfectionist as far back as I can remember (which–in my ripe old age–I no longer necessarily consider a functional approach to life), I previously spent most of my time doing, achieving, leading, overcoming, winning, learning (fast!), persevering, accomplishing, practicing, competing, drinking a whole lot of coffee during an equal number of sleepless nights…and not nearly enough time celebrating my strengths, traveling, discovering new passions, creating and appreciating quiet moments and (gasp!) spare time, or most importantly: failing. On the contrary, I can recall a number of occasions on which my fear of failure prevented me from trying something new, performing something “old” and well within my ability, or enjoying an experience in its own right rather than approaching it as I would an evaluation–and let’s be real: everything was an evaluation.

If there is anything this blog can and should be about at its core, I hope that it will serve to document my journey toward making peace with the inevitability–and importance–of failure as I work toward building a life filled with meaning and purpose. Only through being willing to fall on my face (literally and figuratively), look a little (or a lot) foolish, risk rejection, and be just plain old fashioned bad at something, will I be able to face my fears, explore what life has to offer, and discover more about myself and my potential than I likely even imagine possible at this moment in time. Thank you, dear readers, for virtually embarking on this journey with me. Enjoy the ride, and keep the wine glass handy: things are sure to get a little bumpy along the way!