Bye, Bye Secret Elitist Club for Boys!

I surprised myself and downloaded the Bloomberg news app a few months ago. In the past decade, I only paid real attention to money when I wanted to travel. I saved my mileage reimbursement checks from my job and I hacked credit cards as a means to an end. (Travel hacking tips and techniques coming soon. It’s no secret and not hard if you follow a few easy steps). I get caught up in the now and didn’t think I would live this long anyway.

I’ll admit it. Money conversations made me trail off until about two years ago. I don’t recall any financial literacy classes being held around the dinner table when I was growing up. Money was this elusive thing that men mostly had and controlled. 

How things have changed for the better. Saturday, this pops up on my phone from Bloomberg, “The Most Powerful Woman in Investing Gives a Rare Interview”. Click. Consumed like a freshly cooked marshmallow on a campfire.  The most powerful woman in investing. Let me type that again. The most powerful woman in investing. God, that felt good. Her name is Abigail Johnson and she is the CEO of Fidelity Investments. 

She and Kathleen Murphy gave the above-mentioned interview to Bloomberg Markets and discussed a few hot topics in investing right now, but what caught my attention was this absolute zinger. 

“We’re in the midst of a $22 trillion shift in assets to women, because of longevity, because they’ll outlive their spouse, because of divorce, whatever. Second, and related, 9 out of 10 women will be the sole decision-maker in their household on their finances at some point in their life, either due to the death of the spouse, divorce, or because they stayed single over the course of their career.
If 90 percent of women have to have some understanding of finances and feel confident about it, how can we help women investors get the confidence? We know women are absolutely just as good as men at investing when they actually take the step. We’ve proven that, and they’re actually slightly better.” – Kathleen Murphy, Bloomberg.com

You know what they did? This summer, they changed the game and offered the first two zero-fee index funds and became the first in the industry to eliminate all [investment] minimums and account fees; then the third thing, which is probably the most influential on the market, is the reduction [in the number of share classes] of all of their index funds.(paraphrased)

BOOM! They took away the barrier to investing and most importantly the mystery. There is a confidence gap in investing for women and robo-advisors are allowing women to do their research and plan their long term goals without having to sit across from some financial advisor in a room full of TV’s with tickers running full force at the bottom of the screens.

Ladies, investing isn’t for the privileged male anymore. It’s for all of us!  

Check out Fidelity and Vanguard’s personal investing robo-offerings. The digital experience is pushing the entire industry to make the whole investment experience easier. 

How exciting, huh?

Paige

Brush with the Dalai Lama

My younger self read a book called, “The Tibetan Book of the Dead”.  At the time, I was interested in reincarnation and death, (Whatever. Isn’t everyone curious about how we are going to exit?) so I hunted the book down and sat in my room and read it. It was a grueling slog of a read and I don’t think I understood most of it. What I did I get out of the book was an introduction to Tibetan Buddhism and the mystery of the Lamas. Seed planted. 

Many years later, my friend and I scored free tickets to see the Dalai Lama at Florida International University. We jumped at the chance.  As I watched him walk onto the stage, I was so excited I think I lost my breath for a second. His presence was “light”. He was not distracted. He was singularly focused on the moment. He was delightfully happy and giggled a lot. I was inspired and in disbelief to have been in his presence for a hour (while he made fun of the American educational system in front of all the fancy, Hogwart’s robed professors who sponsored his talk at the University. Damn, the balls there.) He was like the honey badger. He did not give a “shit”. 

So, here is the crux. My friend and I were walking back to the car, chattering animately about our experience of a lifetime. We were at a crosswalk and then a limo turns left not five feet in front of us. We look and there he is…waving like mad and smiling at us. We waved back and said, ” Hi, Dalai Lama!” My friend and I were the only ones at the corner. It’s not like we were a huge crowd waiting to see a glimpse of him as he left. We were two people and he gave us more love in that moment than I’ve ever received from a stranger. He shared his love as if we were family. 

That moment has been my place setting for who I want to be in my life ever since. Happy, present, authentic and smiling. As a result of this encounter the first thing I did was to begin detaching myself from the desire for material things.

That was 21 years ago. Now, I’m the opposite of a hoarder. 

Want to take a baby step into minimalism? Go into your closet. Pull out all the things you haven’t worn in the last year. Take them to the Goodwill or a domestic violence shelter. And level up the donation by not telling anyone.

Paige

Yeah, Ally! Thanks

I woke up to a notification that my online savings bank, Ally, increased their APY (Annual Percentage Yield) from 1.8% to 2.0%. Ya’ll, that’s good for a savings account. 

One key action to achieving financial independence is an emergency fund. If you are anything like me, you have a back up credit card sitting in a drawer somewhere that’s dedicated solely to emergencies. This is an OK idea, but only on one condition.

What’s the condition? You plan to use the emergency credit card as a placeholder only for one billing cycle. If you don’t plan to pay off the balance, then you can be subject to a double cascade of issues. The first being interest payments on the money and a credit utilization change to your credit report. Double whammy!

What’s the solution? Open up an online savings account and build your emergency fund. The general formula for a fat emergency fund is six months of expenses.

For example, say you are a party of “2” and your combined monthly expenses are $2,500.00.  A reliable emergency fund amount (in case your car blows up or you lose your job) is $15,000.00.

“What?,” you might declare, “$15,000.00 is a shit load of money.” Yes, it is.  Agreed, (but doesn’t having $15,000.00 in savings sounds deliciously comfortable?)  Start. Ally Bank has auto-transfer, so you can set that up and the cash magically moves into your savings account without you having to touch it. 

Ally Bank has a good track record of APY increases and this year has increased their rates 10 times. 

So, THANKS, ALLY for helping my money make money. (isn’t that why we are here?)

Paige

Marrying Myself

November 15, 2018 (maybe the 16th…it’s late or early)

“You complete me” are three powerful words that countless people hang their hopes on. And it couldn’t be more off-base in regards to relationship/partnership.

Nothing external will make me whole or complete. No partner, no marriage, no work and no material things. It took me decades to understand this.

I meet myself where I am. For better or for worse. I already am whole and in a committed relationship with myself.

I agree to stay with me, no matter what and I forgive myself for my mistakes. The authentic me.

I am re-learning how to sit with myself and how to enjoy my time with me. I will love myself the way I would want someone else to love me.

My job is to light up my little corner of the world. I am my own soulmate.

Big day tomorrow! Slow and steady. Slow and steady path to freedom.

Paige

In-Between

The “In-Between” ~ An Explanation of how so many people ages 38-55 don’t have enough money saved for retirement
Baby Boomer  <HERE IS WHERE WE ARE> Millennial

I’m not a baby boomer with a defined, livable pension fund and I’m not a millennial forced to become close friends with “necessity is the mother of invention” and a solvable problem.

My retirement roadmap shifted like a tectonic plate through the years with no clear definition of where it was going to settle. My age group didn’t know there was a problem.  Someone was switching the stage sets while we weren’t looking.

Historical Aside (if you’re interested)

When I  graduated from the kid’s table, the adults said, “Pension!”

And then this happened ~

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Phase Out

Then this happened ~

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The rise of the 401k

The hard and fast rules of retirement planning incrementally changed during my mid-20’s to mid-30’s. By my late 30’s, I realized I was way behind in the retirement game.

And all the while, this ~

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College tuition skyrocketed

And this happened~

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Are you relating to this scenario? I bet you are. Too many people are.

If you are between the ages of 38-55, this blog is for you.

 

Better off than I thought

November 13, 2018

Jees, after researching the percentage of women who are financially devastated after divorce and shuffling through some case studies, I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I’m not doing so bad after all.

According to a report by a group of sociologists from Bowling Green, “27% of divorced, older women live in poverty, compared to 11% of divorced men in that age group.”

That’s a staggering number and I’m not surprised either. Our violent anti-female societal structure almost ensures women will languish without a male partner.

After I read that depressing nugget of info, I checked the federal poverty levels to assess if I live in poverty and I got even more depressed. Not because of my take home income (which sucks), but because there are people who live at or below these appalling levels.

An individual is considered in poverty if their income is $16,460. In my work, I see too many women barely getting to the next day. The hustle is real.

After completing the nauseating comparisons, I’m happy to report that my financial future is not bleak and is on a sunny trajectory to success. I hope. I think. I don’t want to jinx myself.

How did I begin positioning myself as a single, female with the goal of financial independence?

Well, I have a story for you.

Paige

(Check back tomorrow)

Shades of Eat, Pray, Love

November 12, 2018

Today, I feel like Elizabeth Gilbert in the novel, “Eat, Pray, Love”  and I’m about to embark on an exciting, new life chapter.

If you haven’t read “Eat, Pray, Love” then perhaps open a new tab and quickly wiki  to catch up with me or be a maverick and roll with context clues. (When did wiki become a verb?)

There are similarities in our stories, but mostly a divergence.

Let’s see how things line up.

EAT (Italy)
I don’t eat Italian food because A: I have no metabolism on deck anymore. She (my metabolism) said, “I’m leaving you – permanently.” and B. Gluten intolerance. Italy isn’t going to make the cut food-wise.

PRAY (India)
I don’t pray and I don’t remember how the connection between India and praying played out in the book. Meditating maybe, but praying? I think the “Pray” part is misleading. I do meditate using a mobile app. Is that meditative cheating? I could meditate and do yoga in India. Definitely doable.

LOVE (Bali)
I am walking a similar path as the author with a broken marriage, yes, but she didn’t mention anything about a broken bank account.  Instead of finding solace, healing and love in a foreign setting; I intend to do this a little differently. I will love and honor myself through meditation and yoga with the occasional swipe through a dating app. Bali was on my list, but it dropped off when I saw the hordes of instagrammers in Bali faking pics and fooling followers. Desire lost.

FIRE (Financially Independent Retiring Existentially) Gen-X style.

Join me as I money, meditate  and meander my way to authenticity and financial independence (and share my toolbox with you along the way).

Eat, Pray, Love subtly transforms to money, meditate and meander.

The 3 M’s.

Paige