Monday, September 24, 2018

How To Build An Emergency Fund | Finance 101


Hello everyone! Welcome back to my financial journey. Previous I've shared how I manage my money and one of the steps was creating an emergency fund. I stated that I've already completed this goal - still true! Today I want to share what an emergency fund is, why it's important, how much you should keep in it, and how to save up one yourself. 

What is an emergency fund? An emergency fund is an account for funds set aside in case of the event of a personal financial dilemma, such as the loss of a job, a debilitating illness, or a major repair to your home [according to Investopedia].

Why is it important? Life throws unexpected financial surprises our way. It can not only keep your stress level down but also helps you avoid debt or making poor financial decisions [i.e. borrowing money and getting stuck with high interest rates]. 

How much should you keep in it? Initially you should save $1000-$2000. According to the Dave Ramsey baby steps, you should start with $1000, however, I just read Money Diaries and they recommended a minimum of $2000. You'll have to decide for yourself. This is the barebones for your emergency fund. Once you reach that, you should start paying off debt and save for other goals while continuing to add to your emergency fund. Ideally you want to end up with 3-6 months worth of expenses in case of job loss. For Joe and I, we are trying to save up $20,000 and maintain that account. That means if we have an emergency expense, such as an unexpected medical bill, then we can use some of our emergency fund then save up to maintain that $20,000 balance. 

How can you save up for an emergency fund? Saving for an emergency fund will look really different for everyone. I've personally hit my initial goal of $2000 to start my emergency fund and am focusing on my ultimate goal of $20,000. For me, this means designating a certain portion of the money I'm saving each week into this account. I use the Qapital app to work towards my financial goals. This is 100% not sponsored but we do each get $5 when you sign up and start saving! I've been using the app for over six months and love it. Joe and I can work on goals together and set up rules for transferring funds through the app. All the funds are FDIC insured and held in one of their partner banks so I feel confident saving my money here. If saving $1000 seems impossible, I challenge you to re-evaluate your finances. Take a look at how you've spent your money in the past month. Anything you can cut out or spend less on? If not, my favorite piece of advice for those barely managing to pay the bills - put 1% of your paycheck into an emergency fund. This means if your take-home pay is $1000 every two weeks, you would set aside $10 every paycheck. I promise you won't even notice it's gone. 

I hope this was helpful! 

Do you have an emergency fund? How did you save up for it?






Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Sick Day Self Care | Love Your Life


When I was trying to decide what to write about this week, it felt obvious: sick day self care. I got hit with a bug on Sunday and have needed to tap into some of my self care techniques for those under the weather days. 

Here is a short list of my sick day self care tips:

1. Shower: Showers always make me feel like a new person. When I have a bad cold, I swear the steam from the shower is the only thing that helps me breathe. Sometimes I'll bring some eucalyptus essential oil into the shower to sniff or put on my chest after the shower. 

2. Drink Tons of Fluids: This is pretty obvious but also very important. My mom always stressed pushing fluids to "flush out the sickness". I'll go for anything that soothes my throat but these are some of my favorites: Lemon Ginger Echinacea DrinkNingXia Red, and fresh orange juice.

3. Say No: When you're able to, say no! We want to fit so much in - work, school, social life, etc. Unfortunately when we're under the weather, the fastest way to heal is to have some serious downtime. 

4. Be Gentle With Yourself: You won't be in your regular routine and that's ok. We don't need to keep up with everything we regularly do. We don't need to have perfect, productive days every day [or ever!]. 

5. Disinfect Your Toothbrush: This may be the most crucial tip for getting better faster. My mom taught me this when I was growing up. I boil water and let my toothbrush head sit for 5-10 minutes. I make sure to disinfect after every use while I'm sick.

6. Make a Sick Day Kit: We always get sick at the least convenient times. It can be really helpful to keep a sick day kit on hand in your linen closet or pantry. For my kit, I'd include chicken noodle soup, crackers, daytime cold medicine, nighttime cold medicine, tissues, and cough drops.

What are your self-care go to's when you're sick?



Monday, September 17, 2018

Book Review: Refinery29's Money Diaries | Finance 101


Refinery29 recently came out with a book all about millennial finances. Naturally I was curious and wanted to see if this book would be helpful to me and possibly some of you. I purchased the book via Audible to listen to on my commute. I took away a lot from the book so I wanted to share my review in case you're interested in reading it as well!



What is the goal of this book? This book aims to teach millennials, specifically women, about their finances. The author wants to motivate you yet promises that this isn't a great rich quick scheme. Ideally you'll save some money while reading this book and learn how to better manage your finances. 

How is the book structured? The book is a combination of general financial topics, assignments, and money diaries [who someone with a particular salary in a certain location spends his or her money over the course of a week]. With each assignment, the author encourages you to save a certain amount of money after completing the task; the goal is to save $528 by the time you've finished the book. 

What did I learn from the book? I learned a lot of best practices and general tips. Some of my big takeaways were how often to check various accounts (i.e. check your credit score four times each year and evaluate your expenses one to four times each year). I also got a better idea of how to break down my expenses - the author discussed the 50/30/20 plan. This is the breakdown of how you should allocate your taxed income. I also learned about some of the extra costs associated with buying a home. Before I'd solely focused on saving money for a down payment but I really need to account for extra expenses such as appraisal, attorney fees, and escrow fees. 

What did I like about the book? I loved the specific details in the book - it was a good point of reference for what to do in my financial life. I liked that the book was clear that this will look different for everyone, depending on job, salary, location, etc. I liked that there was variety in the book - it was a mixture of explaining financial topics, money diaries, and assignments. The Amazon reviews are pretty mixed - I noticed some people really didn't like the structure but I found it more digestible this way. 

What didn't I like about the book? My main issue was my own fault - I got the audiobook and listened to it on 1.5X speed. I wanted to listen to the book during my commute over one week. The book is really meant to be paced over a month or so. The goal is to save $528, which is a lofty goal for one week [depending on your financial situation of course]. The book was also harder to process as an audiobook. From the best of my knowledge, there were no worksheets or notes to accompany the book. I found myself popping into my notes too regularly to write down numbers. If I'd known, I would have purchased the hard copy. I also felt the majority of the money diaries were from women who live in major cities. I currently live by and work in New York City so this is relevant to me but I won't be living here forever and I would like to see more types of lifestyles.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Yes, I would absolutely recommend this book! This book is not only helpful for those just starting out but also those concerning bigger purchases in life. I strongly encourage women to read this book. As women still make 80 cents/dollar compared to men [64 cents for black women and 52 cents for Hispanic women] - it is crucial that we speak more freely about managing our finances. I'm sure everyone will take something meaningful away from this book.

Have you read this book? If not, are you considering reading it now?








Wednesday, September 12, 2018

What I'm Adding To My Morning Routine | Love Your Life


I've always wanted to have a solid morning routine. There are a million videos on YouTube showcasing morning routines. I've never had a consistent schedule until six months ago. I have a quick and structured routine for my mornings prior to my commute. I wanted to add a couple things into my day to accomplish when I first get to the office. 

Last week, I implemented two new things into my mornings. When I get into the office, I briefly check e-mail [I eventually want to wait on the e-mails but baby steps!] then grab a notebook, pen, headphones, and my phone. I find a quiet spot facing a window and start these new morning rituals. 

What I'm Adding To My Morning Routine

1. Stream of Consciousness Writing: I've started doing three pages of stream of consciousness writing. What does this mean? I grab a notebook and write three pages of whatever comes to mind. I tend to wake up with tons of thoughts and a full list of to dos. This journaling has really helped me dump my thoughts and clear my mind for the day.
2. Meditation: I purchased the year subscription to Headspace a few months but have barely used it. I've started adding in one meditation after my journaling. I like that I can choose anything from one minute to twenty. They offer tons of categories - everything from specific situations (travel or interviews) to general anxiety. 

Maybe, in the future, I'll add more structure to my morning routine to set myself up for a happy and productive day. For now, I'm content with these small additions. They are becoming the best part of my mornings!

What is the best part of your morning?









Monday, September 10, 2018

Luxuries I Won't Ditch | Finance 101


While I am focusing on saving money, I still want a good quality of life. It is important to enjoy the present moment, as long as you stay within your means. I have a few monthly expenses that I choose to keep even though they would save me some money for my savings account. 

Before jumping into these, I do want to mention: if any of these became out of my means, I would definitely drop them right away. Fortunately, I can make these work in my current budget and am still able to save an amount I'm comfortable with.

Here are the luxuries I can't give up:

Massage Envy: For the past four or five years, I've had a membership to Massage Envy. Each month I'm charged for one 60-minute massage, which never expires. Sometimes I skip a month and get a 90-minute massage the next month [luckily you can split up massages]. I find that knowing I have a massage available every month forces me to take some much-needed time for myself. Overall I've had a good experience. 

AMC Stubs A-List: This is one of the newest additions to my monthly treats. Joe and I used to have MoviePass [sadly a sinking ship]. We loved having access to tons of movies each month for one set price. We jumped on AMC Stubs A-List when MoviePass when downhill. We pay $20/month [plus tax] for up to three movies each week. We can reserve through their app in advance. We get points and discounts at concessions. We can also see any movie, on any screen, however many times we want.

Spotify Premium: After a cheap trial, I was hooked. I love being able to download songs, skip songs, and have access to tons of new music. It's part of my commute and work day now.

ClassPass: I used to get the 10 classes/month but fortunately, I have a gym in my office now - otherwise I would have stuck with that plan! I love the options ClassPass has to offer - especially in New York. While my membership is on "hold", I still get one class a month. I love trying out the fun boutique studios that I could never normally afford.

Pedicure/Manicure: Once a month I splurge on a powder dip manicure and regular pedicure. These aren't necessities and I normally break these services up between two visits but they mean a lot to me.  I like to treat myself to these small luxuries and feel pampered.

What are the luxuries you won't give up?





Wednesday, September 5, 2018

How To Declutter Your Digital Life | Love Your Life


While we tend to focus on organizing our physical space, our digital lives are just as important. We spend a large portion of our time online, especially if we work in an office. Over the years I've found a few effective ways to declutter my digital space and I hope these tips can help you too!

Desktop: Clearing up your desktop is crucial. Sorting your files into folders can make your space more visually appealing and easier to navigate. This will make you more efficient and less stressed.

E-mail: Organizing your e-mail depends on your personal style. I'm personally an inbox zero type of person. I use my inbox as my to do list. When I've dealt with whatever an e-mail pertains to, I either achieve it or add it to a folder. I also use filters and labels to help me manage my inbox. I have tons of filters set up on my work e-mail and it makes a huge difference! With my personal e-mail, I've subscribed to far too many newsletters and websites over the years so I use the Unroll.Me app to unsubscribe in bulk. It's really helpful!

Phone: My phone gets so easily cluttered. I try to clean it out on a regular basis. My major trouble areas are my photos, my notes, and my apps. For photos, I like to go through the screenshots folder and clear it out regularly. I tend to take a ton of screenshots of random funny things to send to friends! Those are easy to clear out quickly. For the rest of my photos, I transfer them to an external hard drive. My apps were a struggle for a while - I had a lot. I found a great organization method on The Home Edit and it's worked wonders for staying organized. 

Take a look:


How I Organize My Phone

1. Set a neutral background - you want to be able to see your apps
2. Sort apps into folders based on color. You can choose the primary color if an app has more than one color. 
3. Arrange the folders into rainbow order. Optional but fun!
4. Label folders with an emoji of the same color. This is a cute and quick way to find apps.

I found that sorting my apps forced me to pair down to the apps I really use. I also always want my apps on the first page of the folder so they are all visible. I keep my apps to one page. This makes everything more efficient. 

I hope this was helpful!

Do you have any great tips for decluttering your digital space?




Monday, September 3, 2018

My Goals | Finance 101


I've been thinking about my financial goals a lot recently. Although my parents were always cautious with money, I always struggled with how to budget and manage my own money. During college, my parents used to sit down with me and help me create a budget each month. Month after month I could never manage to stick to the budget. It felt like unexpected expenses were constantly coming up. Over the years I've figured out what works for me. I have learned that if I set aside a certain amount of money into savings each week, I can spend the rest, if I want to. 

I use an app called Qapital [not sponsored but would very interested in a collaboration ;) ]. This app allows me to set up goals and specific rules to help me save money. I've created small goals [$150 for a Broadway ticket] and larger goals [$100,000 for a home down payment]. I love that you can set up goals with other people - Joe and I are both working on our home fund and emergency fund. My strategy is to transfer a certain amount of money into each goal every single week. I've set up rules, through the app, and money is transferred into my goals each week. I can pause the rules at any time and I can transfer the money out at any time. Currently I transfer money into my emergency fund, home fund, and Europe travel fund each week. 

I've been figuring out what events to save for and how much to aim for. Without further ado, here are my financial goals:
Note: these amounts cover both Joe and I.

Emergency Fund: $20,000
Home Fund: $100,000 [this may need to go up; we still don't know where we want to buy a house but we know we want to put 20% down]
General Travel: $5,000 
Europe: $10,000
Retirement: Variable - we ideally want to start putting 15% of salaries into Roth IRAs and pre-taxed savings bonds

Is there anything else you think I should be saving for? I'd love the feedback in the comments below!




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