Is Taking Care of Yourself the New Partying in Your Thirties?

Today I fainted on the subway platform. This isn’t like me at all.

I pride myself on having an “immune system of steel.” I have an uncanny ability to always stay well around sick people. I’m the anti-germaphobe- “a little dirt never hurt anyone”- that’s what I say. I travel on planes, trains, and buses (aka “boxes of germs”) more than half the year while getting away with barely a sniffle. I scoff at Purell. I roll my eyes at hypochondriacs (secretly).

However, today something happened and I went down. I started feeling weak when I left my apartment earlier in the day. It was a strange feeling because I’d had two cups of coffee before I left and had slept a full 8 hours the night before. I’d drank my green smoothie in the morning. I’d eaten a vegan burrito for lunch. I was doing all my healthy routines.

But the weakness came anyway. And then it went away just as quickly as it came and fooled me into thinking it was gone. So I continued my day. I met with a friend. I went to Whole Foods. I headed to the gym. But once the subway doors closed behind me, I was taken by the urge to fall to the floor. It was a crowded subway on a freezing day but I got hotter and hotter until I had to remove my hat and my scarf and unzip my coat. I barely made it to my stop. Strangers asked me if I was okay- I was swaying. I didn’t look good. I politely said I was fine, just not feeling so well. But once I got to my stop and took two steps, I realized I couldn’t go any further and fell hard. A stranger rushed up to me and asked if I was okay. He asked if I was pregnant (I am not). He offered to call 911. I couldn’t move, but I felt really embarrassed. Even though I stayed unmoving, I told him I’d be okay. I didn’t want to go anywhere but home. He nicely stayed with me. Bless the kindness of random subway strangers.

Once again, the weakness started to pass. The icy air shook my limbs out of their paralyzed state and I was able to get up and actually walk home. I’m now lying in bed writing this and praying I don’t have the flu. I feel okay right now. I’m hoping it’s maybe an iron deficiency or something. Who knows.

But you better believe I’m taking extra good care of myself. I canceled my trip to the gym. I canceled my fun late night plans. I made myself ginger tea. I took my emergency multivitamins (which I never take). My roommate gave me a shot of apple cider vinegar (“it cures!” she raved to me). I’m trying to stay calm. I had the flu once 6 years ago and it was the worst debilitating illness I’ve ever been through.

A friend of mine told me on the phone tonight, “I hate to say it, but we’re in our thirties now. Even though we may feel good and strong, our bodies are changing and they’re not the same as they were in our twenties. And we have to take extra good care of ourselves. I mean, listen, I just had to get reading glasses. And I’m only 33!”

Oh no! I don’t yet need reading glasses, it’s enough that I need regular glasses…eek.

This got me thinking about the possible shift from your twenties to your thirties regarding how you need to take care of yourself. Perhaps the metaphorical ‘party’ is over? Is there an ‘invincibility notion’ left over from the twenties that needs to fade down in my thirties? I mean, I already take pretty good care of myself (lots of vegetables, lots of exercise, lots of sleep (usually), lots of water) but perhaps there are still big changes coming my way. Changes that I previously thought I could avoid with my healthy behavior.

Maybe I’m not as invincible to the 30’s as I thought, no matter how healthy my lifestyle usually is.

Well, I better go to sleep and dream about strength and energy.

I want to leave you with two articles I found about how our bodies change in our 30s. Haha, first  puberty, now this…

For women- http://www.healthywomen.org/content/article/health-your-30s

For men- http://www.askmen.com/top_10/fitness/maintain-your-body-after-30.html

[Update- I wrote this article yesterday, and still feel weak today, but have not come down with the flu. Behold the power of taking care of yourself: tons of sleep, ginger tea, apple cider vinegar, and lots of love from (and to) friends and family!]

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Did You Get an “Hour” with People you Care About Today?

As you might have learned from this blog, I love learning about ways to life-hack. Specifically, facts and numbers about how to make my life better. As you can probably guess, I’m subscribed to way too many blogs/newsletters/fan pages of self-help/life-coach gurus and thinkers. I recently got an email with a link to an article by Deepak Chopra titled “Social Media and Your Personal Growth.” The article is worth a read; it’s basically about how to form more meaningful and deep connections when using social media. I was particularly interested in this:

“Psychologists point out that being connected in a positive way for at least one hour a day with people you care about is one key to happiness.”

Do you normally get your hour of this time? I have recently. Today I did, at least. I had a great phone conversation and I felt happy and connected. This “hour” doesn’t have to be in person – you can spend your hour on the phone, or engaged in a video chat, or perhaps just even gchatting online.

It’s fascinating to me that we’re constantly told by doctors and the media that we should exercise a certain amount each day, and eat 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables a day…But no one talks about setting an exact parameter about social connectivity. So I’d like to propose – get your hour with a close friend(s) a day!

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Technology Burnout In Your Thirties

Sometimes I find myself laughing silently while alone in my bedroom.

I’ll look up for a moment and realize that I’m sitting on my massage chair while watching TV while posting a status update to Facebook from my phone while holding my laptop open to a Twitter-linked article.

And I’ll just start laughing. But it’s the kind of laugh that could easily turn into a slow and honest cry.

Those of us in our late twenties through forties that have grown up without cellphones and laptops in our lives are now living in a world where we’re dependent on our portable devices.

What has become of alone time without social media connection? I sometimes find myself anxious over Facebook posts, or wondering if I haven’t been on Twitter enough, or whether I should be posting on LinkedIn more. I actually spend time wondering why Snapchat is so popular and how to get more into Instagram.

Graph-social-media

The moment I get up in the morning, I reach for my cellphone. What I see on that phone can influence my mood for the rest of the day. There’s so much going on and so little time. Then right after making some coffee, I’m immediately tempted to turn on my laptop. Once I do, I can get sucked into random article reading for hours on end.

Even in order to simply meditate, I have to open a meditation app on my phone or website on my laptop to access my music or guided meditations. How crazy is it that even to be alone with my thoughts I have to reach for a portable device???

However, when I take time off from social media, things change in my life. As much as I like social media and my laptop and my email, when I gain control and shut things down for awhile, I feel a kind of peace that is unreachable when technology’s buzzing around me at every moment.

My roommate actually disconnected from technology completely. Years before I met her, she gave away her smart phone. She sold her laptop. She has no TV. All she has is an emergency flip-phone and a radio. I can’t imagine myself doing what she’s doing, but she’s one of the most blissful, radiant people I know.

When I manage to disconnect from most technology, even for a few concentrated hours, I actually feel better (after the initial discomfort subsides). Time moves slower. Hot showers feel hotter. I find myself taking walks and feeling more connected to my body and my surroundings. I think harder about what I’m feeling and how it affects the way I breathe.

So I’m of two minds about the whole technology thing. I actually love technology and I do think it’s important and helpful. I’m extremely fascinated by the future of technology and I really want to learn HTML. My laptop is my favorite possession. My phone is my lifeline. Social Media is my way to connect the world. I love that so much information is at my fingertips at all times- I get how important it is to be able to find almost any answer to any question at any time.

Yet I also think it’s important not to get sucked into technology as a dependent habit- the same way it’s bad to get sucked into other dependent habits like smoking or nail biting. There are times when I can’t kick the urge to reach for my phone or check my email. I find it hard to simply be alone with my thoughts and no Facebook. This isn’t a healthy use of technology- it’s a crutch.

As I continue to walk the line between avoiding technology altogether (not gonna happen) and getting sucked in, I try to remember how good it feels to be without it for even just a little while. And even during those times when it feels anxiety-provoking to close the laptop and avoid checking my phone, I know that being able to live my life without technology, for even a short time, is extremely important.

Don’t be afraid to be alone with your thoughts.

 

 

Some Advice on Living Your 30s Well

So true confession. I’m PMS’ing this week. Which for me means that I’m a bit cranky and craving salty foods. And also, those hormones knock my self-esteem down a notch and lead me into funny (in hindsight!), internet rabbit holes. I do random google searching about how I feel, with the goal normally being for me to feel like I’m not alone – that other folks feel the same way I do.

Tonight I googled “thirties and feel lost.” After reading Laura’s post from yesterday, I started thinking about how someone once told me that the chances of my career choice (screenwriting) being successful was like “winning the lotto.” Thinking back on that, what a crappy and mean thing to say! In my low moments, I wonder if he was right. What if I can never monetize my writing? I’ve managed to make money copywriting and writing for corporations but that’s not my goal – I want to write for films and TV. So anyway, I started to think worst-case scenario, what would I do to make money? And that’s when I googled “thirties and feel lost” and this particular Metafilter thread came up, What Do You Wish You Did in Your 30s.

In the thread, lots of 40 and 50-somethings wrote in about the regrets of their 30s. And it was somewhat uplifting. and inspiring, so I thought I’d share some of the thoughts here.

One woman wrote:

I would have divorced my first husband sooner, because I would have somehow woken up to how I was riding a wave of denial through my own life.

I would have spent way more time creating stuff (writing, acting, making art), because even if it had been shit, I’d have been that much more practiced now in my 40s.

I would have spent more time seeking out new and maintaining my existing female friendships (I’m a woman), because that kind of bond is crucial to my well being.

I would have spent those 10 years exercising, instead of taking up weightlifting at age 39 and finally honing and actually feeling my own strength.

I would have cut the few truly toxic people out of my life sooner, including my own mother.

Having said all this, I don’t have any regrets. I only look forward.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 2:22 PM on February 18, 2014 [8 favorites]

I liked this one a lot:

Choose the happier choice instead of the, seemingly, right choice.
posted by jennstra at 4:59 PM on February 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Many people talked about saving money. I’m sure Laura would appreciate that 🙂

If you haven’t done it already, make sure you get on top of your retirement savings (getting any matching funds you’re entitled to in your 401k, maxing out a Roth IRA, etc). It’s hard to make up for the loss of compound interest the longer you wait to get your accounts in order.
posted by bcwinters at 1:54 PM on February 18, 2014 [9 favorites]

Can You Monetize It?

My background is in theater. I was a drama major in college who started out as an actor and quickly discovered that I also loved to direct.

After I graduated, I went in search of lots of theater to work on. I quickly found myself directing friends’ plays and also acting in plays for theater festivals and readings all over the city. I was proud of my efforts, even when they took up all my time and didn’t pay anything. Sometimes I would get what’s called a ‘stipend,’ which is a small amount of honorary money for my time and effort. Usually, no money would be involved at all- other than the money I spent out of my own pocket on the production.  I balanced my paying job (working tradeshows) with working on as much theater as I could fit into the crevices of my time off.

Sometimes I would turn down paid tradeshow work because I was in the middle of rehearsals for a production I was directing. The irony of this is that I could sometimes make the equivalent of my entire directors stipend in one day of work at my ‘real job.’

But I found it hard to prioritize tradeshows because theater was my ‘true passion’ and what I ‘really did’…tradeshow work was just a filler job. Theater became this magical universe where being paid a decent rate for your time became something of a joke, and everyone just moaned ‘there’s no money in theater, we need donations’ and continued on.

n the dressing room before a show..I'm not exactly sure what we were doing here.

In the dressing room before a show..I’m not exactly sure what we’re doing here, but bananas were definitely involved.

Then there came a time a few years ago where I reached my breaking point. I needed to put more money towards my student loans and stop turning down paid work. I couldn’t work for free anymore. So I took a hiatus from theater. The hiatus has been going on for about 2 years now…in fact, I’m still on that hiatus.

Amazingly, I’ve been pretty happy during this time off. I still co-run a theater company, so I keep a bit of theater in my life, and I’ve been able to work as much as I can and not double book paid jobs with unpaid rehearsals. I really enjoy my career in tradeshows, so I’m happily going through my days. Things are good, but I sometimes wonder about my real passion.

Now that I’m thirty, I’ve been thinking a lot about paid ‘filler’ work versus unpaid passions. There are so many options here. I kind of turned my ‘filler’ work into my main work, but I could have attempted to monetize my passion. Contrary to what I might have you believe from this post, there are people making some money from theater or theatrical work. And there are lots of people who work on all sorts of passion projects that can be monetized, but haven’t been monetarily figured out yet.

Then there are other friends of mine who know there’s very little money in their passion projects, but are okay with that. When I asked my friend how he replies to people who question his choice to be a playwright even though there’s just about no money in it, he inspired me. He said, “I tell them that I’ve worked lots of jobs that paid me tons of money and none of them made me as happy as I am writing plays. Not everything is about money.”

There’s a lot to think about here.

Do You Journal? The Surprising Health Benefits

I’ll admit it – I always thought ‘journaling’ was kind of cheesy and ineffective. I imagined that if I did journal regularly, I’d have lots of entries beginning with “Dear Diary…” and going on to detail boring day-to-day exploits including the pizza I consumed and which Netflix show I watched that night.  I have journaled occasionally, and I have several books filled with my entries dating back to junior high school. Most of these entries are about boys – the boys I liked, the boys I dated and why those boys I dated were being so damn hard-to-decipher. Since I’ve been in a serious long-term relationship, I haven’t journaled as much. In fact, the current notebook I use has entries that date back to 2008, so clearly I haven’t been journaling much. But I do experience a lot of day-to-day anxiety about things in my life: my career, friendships, moving to a new city – all good subjects to journal about.

After reading this article, Writing Your Way to Happiness, in the NY Times, I really felt like it was time I journaled more. The article was the “most emailed article” on the NY Times website for about a week, so clearly people are excited about this research. Basically, the gist of the study is that if you write about your problems, you can more easily tackle them, which leads to better overall health. Essentially, the study is saying that if you write about your problems, you can more easily “edit” the problems in your life.

Here’s a quote from the article that encapsulates the study well:

Much of the work on expressive writing has been led by James Pennebaker, a psychology professor at the University of Texas. In one of his experiments, college students were asked to write for 15 minutes a day about an important personal issue or superficial topics. Afterward, the students who wrote about personal issues had fewer illnesses and visits to the student health center.

“The idea here is getting people to come to terms with who they are, where they want to go,” said Dr. Pennebaker. “I think of expressive writing as a life course correction.” – Tara Parker-Pope

Maybe there’s something about purging your thoughts onto paper that helps. Like a mental detox. Or maybe it’s being able to get a new perspective on your problems that helps you make more effective choices.

What If I Lived Nowhere?

The Detroit Auto Show is going well…I’m more than halfway through working it. When I return from the show, I’ll have 2 days off in New York and then will leave again for a 10 day show in Philadelphia. When I return from that, I’ll leave again for a 10+ day show in Chicago…and so on and so forth.

I travel a lot for work. I work as a professional speaker and product specialist at tradeshows, conventions and auto shows. I used to think I’d simply book work in New York, and then that expanded to simply booking work in the Northeast, then the East coast, then the entirety of America, and then I even began to occasionally book international work.

The blog I used to write before this one was a blog about travel. I enjoyed traveling for work and sharing tips and tricks about how to travel easier, smoother, and cheaper. Travel is so innately built into my life- I can’t really do my job without it- that it has also accidentally become a major part of my identity.

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So after my ex-boyfriend and I broke up last summer, I thought about living nowhere. It seemed like the absolute right thing for me to do at the absolute right time. It seemed to fit perfectly with who I am. I’m away from home so much anyway that it seemed pointless to pay rent every month. And I even considered blogging about my future nomadic living experience. I actually see a lot of travel bloggers of all ages living nowhere- they put their stuff in storage and just travel for a year or more. Sometimes it’s simply cheaper for them to travel the world than to stay in their city and pay the exorbitant rent prices (cough NYC cough SF cough).

Since I’m thirty, it seemed a bit late to start such a major lifestyle change (complete nomad seemed more of a twenties thing to do), but I was ready for some major changes. It seemed like the right time to live nowhere if I was going to live nowhere.

A few of my coworkers at tradeshows/auto shows were already living the nomadic lifestyle and just traveled from show to show without having any kind of home base. They would occasionally crash on friends’ couches and/or with their parents between shows. Or they’d use their numerous hotel points to practically live at the Hilton or the Marriott. It sounded like a fascinating, yet exhausting, life.

Yet after careful consideration, the exhausting part of it led me in search of a nice, peaceful apartment in New York to call home. Some soul searching lead me to the realization that the glamour of living nowhere didn’t hold a candle to a space that’s all mine.

And I thought about something one of my friends said as I had been weighing my options: “you call living nowhere the ‘nomadic lifestyle’ but some just call it ‘homeless.”

Touché.

I love my new little Queens apartment and cannot be happier. Even though I have to pay rent for it every month. Even though I’m not there right now. Just knowing I have a place to call home lends weight to my otherwise very up in the air lifestyle.

Sometimes something may seem like the absolute right thing to do at the absolute right time. But it may not actually be the right thing at all.

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Did You Have a 30th Birthday Bucket List?

Did you ever tell yourself, “By the time I turn thirty, I’m going to have _____” and fill in the blank? I didn’t officially make a list, but I do remember wanting to have had a “serious, healthy relationship” and “have a play reviewed in the NY Times” by the time I was thirty. So, one of those things happened. And it wasn’t the play being reviewed in the Times.

There seems to be this idea of accomplishing specific milestones by the time you’re thirty that’s echoed in the media. Check out the below two articles my friend recently sent me:

Things to Do Before You’re Thirty

30 Things Every Woman Needs to Get Out of Her System Before She Turns 30 

Considering I’m nearly three years out of turning 30, I guess I should think about my 40th year milestones. I want to have a child, own property, and have a solid writing career established. I’m trying to imagine my 40-year-old self reading this now, and it makes me smile.

Do you set big-birthday milestones for yourself? Want to share some here?

Throw Money at the Problem

Right now I’m working an auto show in Detroit.

The day I left to fly to Detroit, I woke up later than I’d wanted to. I’d packed the night before and was mildly exhausted.  After I’d already walked 3 blocks away from my apartment towards the bus to the airport, dragging two heavy suitcases behind me, I realized I’d forgotten my Global Entry card and had to drag the suitcases all the way back home. I live a 15 minute bus ride away from LaGuardia airport, but because of all my delays, I ended up just getting an Uber (these are cabs called from an app, in case you’re unfamiliar with Uber in your city).

I felt sort of guilty about spending $17 on an Uber cab instead of $2.50 on a bus, but the cost of being late and missing the flight would have been much much more. The time, stress, and possibly money spent on a new flight would have been much costlier than just throwing money at the lateness problem.

A much as I love saving money, I’m a big fan of picking your battles and using money when you need to. We have money in order to make our lives easier. Sometimes you need to take that hard earned money and throw it at problems that’ll quickly go away when hit.

Don’t get me wrong- I’m not at all rich…not yet 🙂 If you read some of my other articles you’d know I’m still paying off my student loan debt and definitely am not swimming in money. But a little bit of saving goes a long way toward solving some small problems. Now that I’m thirty, I’ve had a few good years of not desperately eating ramen noodles every day…and I have a slight bit more money to put into my ‘throw money at the problem’ account…which is basically my normal checking account.

Jane touched upon this in her post How Much of Your Life Do You Outsource? She was mentioning how much she hated doing laundry at a laundromat when she had to carry heavy bags. Before I lived in a building that had washers and dryers, I used to pay extra for drop off service at the laundromat a few blocks away. I’d just have the people who worked there clean and fold it. I hated having to go back and forth multiple times to the laundromat…I just wanted to drop my laundry off and pick it up all finished. I used this laundry drop off solution for years- it was worth it to me. I saved money elsewhere…like on taking buses to and from airports mostly. I spent my extra money on laundry problems. And I had no regrets.

Recently, I used another paid service Jane mentioned in her same post– this service is a food delivery program called Blue Apron. Blue Apron basically delivers 3 meals a week to your doorstep- only it doesn’t deliver them cooked and put together. The meals are in the form of ingredients and recipes and you cook the meals yourself. Blue Apron is pretty brilliant in a lot of ways. For one, it basically teaches you how to cook. Secondly, the time consuming act of buying ingredients is out of the picture. Thirdly, you know exactly what’s going into your (fancy) meals.

photo 2 (4)I actually managed to finagle a week of Blue Apron for free. A friend of mine ordered it for herself and loved it. She invited me to try a week of it as a free trial (a special promotion Blue Apron offers which I recommend you look around for 🙂 ). Everyone I know who’s tried Blue Apron loves it. In fact, all the married and engaged couples I met at a BBQ I mentioned in my How To Be A Third Wheel  post were buzzing about using it to cook for their significant others instead of ordering out all the time.

photo 1 (4)

I enjoyed the 3 meals I received from Blue Apron, and was super impressed with their beautiful delivery and presentation. I learned how to cook three new dishes, and the ingredients were delicious and fresh. However, the cost of 3 meals a week (with 2 servings each) would be $60 a week, which was a bit steep for my tastes. So I canceled the service before I had to pay for it. For me, cooking dinner every night is a problem I’d rather solve with time than money. I know I can cook 3 dinners a week for way less money than $60 and didn’t need to pay for Blue Apron’s services. Still, I think Blue Apron is a great and worthwhile service for certain types of people, the same way laundromat drop off was a great and worthwhile service for me.

Sometimes you just need to throw money at a problem….and sometimes you don’t. Know yourself and your budget. Then choose wisely which one it’ll be.

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Expectations Vs. Reality

Over a TV show brainstorming session with my friend and classmate tonight, I came to the realization that the struggles of the thirty-something decade (for me, so far) seem to be revolving around the internal battle of expectations vs. reality. Most of the angst I experience now revolves around thoughts like “Am I where I should be for my age?” “Am I behind?” “Should I start planning for children now? “Is it weird that I’m not feeling an intense need for children now?” “Will I ever accomplish my dreams?” “Am I going to have to settle down and get a corporate job?”

Of course, it’s a decade that’s about striving for certain goals, but it’s also a decade about accepting imperfections and appreciating what we have. Learning to “want” the reality we already have. But man oh man, is it tough.

When I used to do yoga at a particular studio in Manhattan, the teacher used to say, “Expectations reduce joy.” It’s a such beautiful statement and it’s applicable to almost every aspect of life. Even relationships. Expecting people to act or treat us a certain way is like asking to be disappointed.

I wanted to share some beautiful quotes about releasing expectations.

“Would you like to know your future? If your answer is yes, think again. Not knowing is the greatest life motivator. So enjoy, endure, survive each moment as it comes to you in its proper sequence — a surprise.” – Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

“Know that everything is in perfect order whether you understand it or not.”
― Valery Satterwhite

“I hope you do not let anyone else’s expectations direct the course of your life.”
― Julianne Donaldson, Edenbrooke

“Before her marriage she had thought that she had love within her grasp; but since the happiness which she had expected this love to bring her hadn’t come, she supposed she must have been mistaken. And Emma tried to imagine just what was meant, in life, by the words “bliss,” “passion,” and “rapture” – words that had seemed so beautiful to her in books.”
― Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary

What To Do With A 401K From Your Old Job

Since you’re in your thirties, or almost there, I’m going to take a guess and say that you’ve probably changed jobs at least once.

In fact, it’s likely that  you’ve changed jobs multiple times.

So what did you do with the 401ks from your old jobs? Did you even have one then?

When I was looking into this (because I’ve gotten this 401k question a lot), I noticed that not only did many people not know what to do with their old 401ks, many of them didn’t know how to FIND them..or they didn’t know whether they had a 401k with their former job in the first place. 

So first things first: let’s start with what to do with a 401k at an old job when you know where it is and that it exists. Basically, there are 4 options:

1. Leave the 401k where it is (with the old job.)

2. Roll the money into your current job’s 401k

3. Roll the money into an IRA

4. Take the money and run.

I’m going to start with a warning: please don’t do the last one! DO NOT take the money and run!!! It’s a really bad idea, and will cost you a ton of money to do so! If you pull the money out of an old 401k before age 55 (retirement age for 401ks), two things will happen: 1. You’ll be hit with a 10% penalty!! 2. You’ll have to pay taxes on all the money as if it was regular income (which it is)! Just don’t do it! My research found that 25% of people choose this option…don’t be one of them! Anyway, that’s my two cents on that choice.

So now you have three choices left. All of these choices are pretty good- it really depends on what you want.

Two of the choices may not be an option:

1. You may not even be able to roll your money into your current employer’s 401k plan. You’ll have to check with them and see.

2. If you have less than $5000 in an old 401k, your old employer may not let you keep the money there anyway.

So, if you’re looking to have all your accounts in one place and less hassle with paperwork, I’d recommend either rolling your old 401k account into your new 401k account (if your new job allows you to do that), or consolidating everything into a rollover IRA.

But if you’re looking for the best possible investment options and don’t care about the hassle of paperwork from multiple accounts, you’ll have to do a little research. Here’s what you should be thinking about: 

a)Sometimes the 401k at your old job has some special investment options (like company stock) that you can’t get in an IRA.

b) A 401k offers slightly more protection from creditors in certain states.

c) You can withdraw from a 401k penalty free at age 55, but you can’t withdraw from an IRA until age 59.5 without a fee.

So if you have great old company stock or are really worried about creditors or really want to retire by 55, you may want to leave your money alone in the old 401k or roll into the new one (if possible).

But generally, rolling your old 401k into a Rollover IRA is the simplest and most cost-effective way to go. 

Here’s how to set up and roll your old 401k into a Rollover IRA and get started at Vanguard. 

Here’s how to set up and roll your old 401k into a Rollover IRA and get started at Fidelity.

Now, if your 401k is lost or you aren’t sure whether you even have old 401ks lying around from old jobs, see the awesome 401k helpcenter I found!

Hope this helps! I know that’s a lot of info if you’re unfamiliar with IRAs and 401Ks so, as always, let me know if you have any questions or anything to add! Thanks!

Do not take the money and run. You won't be able to hide...the IRS will find you and tax you on it...and take away 10% of it...

Do not take the money and run. You won’t be able to hide…the IRS will find you. And tax you…

How Much Of Your Life Do You Outsource?

I spent some of my Saturday night at the coin laundromat two miles from my apartment. I actually find doing laundry to be relaxing, but not when I have to travel a long distance with heavy bags to get to the laundromat. Like tonight. Also, when you’re doing laundry alongside clearly high, strung-out homeless folks, it can be a bit depressing…especially on a Saturday night.

I kept thinking, “Oy! Why didn’t I use just that coupon Washio sent me for $10 off my first order?” Have you heard about Washio? It’s a start-up for laundry. They literally come to your apartment/house, pick-up your laundry and return it in 24 hours. On top of that, they bring you a HOT cookie. And here’s the thing – it’s not that much more expensive that laundry drop-off places. It’s $1.60 a pound for laundry. Many drop off places near me are $1.50. But Washio pick-ups and delivers! To me, $1.60 a pound seems worth it.

I haven’t tried Washio yet, because as a grad student, I can’t yet justify the expense, but I love the idea of it. More and more though, I’ve been contemplating paying the money for the service. I can spend more time writing, more time reading and investing in my education.

I started to think about all these other cool services available in our saturated start-up world. There’s Blue Apron, which brings the ingredients for planned meals to you. Then, there’s a service that picks you up at home and brings you to the gym or your SoulCycle or Pilates class. For more on that crazy trend, check out this NY Times article, “For The Door to Treadmill Service.

If I had unlimited financial resources, I might take advantage of more of these services.  Right now I’ll stick to Uber and Lyft…But I think Washio is close behind on my list.

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Things I Should Own As a 32-Year Old (Or, How I Should Upgrade My Look)

I was inspired by Laura’s post yesterday about mastering specific little skills by her 30s. I thought about how I feel like I don’t dress appropriate to my age. Obviously, it’s subjective, but the way I dress makes me feel younger than I am, and maybe that in turn makes me act younger than I am. Who knows.

The point is though, I feel like I haven’t “mastered” the art of dressing polished and together. I wear ratty black converse nearly every day and most of my shirts are cotton t-shirts from the Gap, with some variation of a horizontal strip pattern. And on top of that, I wear a backpack. I’m comfortable in this clothing, but it doesn’t make me feel confident and strong.

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But when I put myself together in a more thoughtful way, like I did yesterday, when I wore a sweater dress and some nice flats (which is rare, maybe 3 times a month), I FELT better. I felt like a woman, a woman who could be teaching a class at UCLA, which I am. So one of my goals for 2015 is to dress a little better. To dress my age. What does that mean? Well, you tell me! I know there’s a lot of beauty and fashion bloggers out there who read the blog, so I’m open to ideas. I would love to know what clothing items make you feel like an empowered thirty something woman.

For me, I guess I imagine that it would mean having a nice handbag (why does that word make me feel like a grandma?) and wearing more than just Converse everyday. More shirts with nice fabrics like silk. Overall, I guess it means dressing like I’m okay with growing up…and if I’m getting into therapy mode – like I deserve to wear ‘adult’ clothing.

The Little Things You Know How to Accomplish by 30

Today I went to steam some broccoli for lunch. I’ve gotten very good at steaming broccoli- and not because it’s easy. I actually used to find it very difficult. My main problem was that I didn’t own a steamer.

I used to microwave just about all my vegetables. I was too lazy to bother purchasing a steamer. Even when I found out that steaming broccoli was healthier than microwaving it, I always thought “one day I’ll go out and buy a steamer.” But I didn’t.

It was only when I was at a 99 cent store purchasing lightbulbs that a little steaming basket crossed my path. It was quite cheap, and quite cute, so I bought it. But I never used it. I continued microwaving my broccoli this whole time since the microwave was familiar and the steamer was not. Path of least resistance.

My former roommate found the steaming basket I’d bought and enjoyed it thoroughly until she finally broke it after a few years- it was from the 99 cent store, after all. I watched her use it and promised myself I’d get around to using it too. But I did not.

Then one day I saw an even better steaming basket in Bed Bath & Beyond and decided that I was going to try again. This time I went home and actually took the steamer out of the box. I was going to put it on a shelf, but without thinking, I quickly threw some broccoli in it. The first time, I burned the broccoli, the steamer, and my pot. But I got familiar with how steaming worked.

After that, steaming wasn’t too bad except that I always had trouble finding a glass lid that went with the pot I was using. In my old apartment, all the lids for every pot were thrown behind the kitchen appliances. So I steamed with the wrong size lid all the time. It was the easiest way to get broccoli steamed quickly without a lid search. Most of the time, I was too lazy to search around for the right size lid. This worked okay, but was annoying enough to deter me from steaming too much. So I still used the microwave half the time.

When I moved to my new apartment, I put all my glass lids together in their own drawer, with nothing else. Suddenly, all my steaming obstacles had been removed.

Today the process of steaming broccoli was seamless. I grabbed the steamer, the nearest pot, and its easy to reach lid. I put the broccoli in. I steamed. I ate.

Sometimes getting things done can take 30 years to perfect.

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What little things have you not bothered doing because you haven’t made them habits yet?

On Friendship: Louis CK and Marc Maron

Have you ever listened to the WTF with Marc Maron podcast? If you haven’t yet, you should, because it’s pretty awesome. In a nutshell, Marc Maron is a stand-up comic who interviews other comedians. But that would be an unfair and reductive way to describe it. It’s so much more than that – Maron talks to his guests about deep stuff – there’s a lot of talk about anxiety and depression, and the harder parts of life that we don’t often acknowledge.

One of his episodes is an interview with comedian Louis CK. Slate recently rated this episode the BEST PODCAST EPISODE OF ALL TIME. And with all the crazy hubbub surrounding Serial, this is quite the honor. The episode deals with their 20-something year friendship and the rocky patches it went through – how they fell away from each other for a long stretch of time. Resentments built and tensions formed, miscommunications happened – all the stuff of everyday friendship.

I think the reason the episode resonants with people is that it just feels so true.  That’s the best way I can describe it. Over the course of the 2 hour interview, they take a look at their joint past and begin to re-build their friendship.

Maron had a lot of really insightful words on friendship that I wanted I’d share here. As we’re moving into our thirties, we’re growing as people and so are our friends. As easy as it is to assume we’re the only ones who are changing, our friends are changing too. It’s a never ending evolution, and the advice I tell myself is that we should constantly try to see our friends in a fresh light; to constantly try and almost listen to them like they’re a new friend. Does that make sense?

Here are some quotes from the kick-ass episode that I thought were worth sharing:

“Sometimes when you don’t see someone a lot, you just sort of hold them to who they were when you did know them really well. Like oh that guy must be the same guy.”

Similar sentiment, expressed a bit differently:

“A lot of times, in friendships, you tend the hold the person you’re friends with to the standard of what your friendship was originally.”

“Allowing each other to grow in a friendship is tricky, because there’s part of you that wants to be what you were when you were first friends, there’s part of you that’s wants that, because that’s an innocent place, that’s where the emotion started.”

You can download the episode here.

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When I’m Married, Does My Spouse Get My Assets?

My head is spinning right now after researching this question. It’s quite a doozy. And I don’t use the word ‘doozy’ very often.

Writing the opposite article about whether you’re liable for your spouse’s debt was a much easier undertaking. The answers were wayyy simpler. I had no idea what I was getting into with this one. But I feel like it’s very important for those of us in our thirties, since many people I know are getting married or about to get married around this time.

So here goes: I’m going to use my very best simplification skills in order to make this as understandable as possible.

First, I want to preface strongly that I’m not a Financial Advisor, so this is a vast simplification. If you are truly worried about your assets being shared with your spouse, please contact a Certified Financial Planner. Here’s a website that will help you find one.

Second, Okay, so let’s repeat the question in its simplest state:

If I have an inheritance, a savings account, monetary gifts from my dear Aunt Myrna (all of these things are known as ASSETS) does my spouse automatically get half (or any of it) when I get married?

When I started researching this, almost every article I came across was actually about divorce. I couldn’t figure it out at first, and then it hit me: none of this asset stuff is really relevant legally unless you get divorced.

This actually means: Other than if you get divorced (and hopefully you will not), you won’t ever legally be forced to share your savings, retirement accounts and inheritance with your spouse. Not really. You will probably want to share some (or most) of it, but that’s between the two of you. 

Think about it: If you don’t want to share your savings or inheritance with your husband or wife, there’s no lawyer/judge/policeman/masked villain who’s going to suddenly barge into your house and FORCE you to share your savings with your spouse…I mean, unless your spouse sues you or something (and honestly, that’s the road to divorce right there), sharing money within a marriage is kind of a private matter…a verbal agreement between two spouses. I mean, you guys can fight it out amongst yourselves (a civil conversation is also an option), but no one from the legal system will get involved. Of course, you two are building a life together so you may want to commingle (share) money (The word ‘commingling’ is actually an important one. I will come back to the whole commingling money issue in just a bit, as it will soon take centerstage in answering our question).

Once you get divorced (again, fingers crossed against this), all the legal issues/headaches/major problems come into play. 

I mentioned in my last article about debt in a marriage that there are two types of states: Common Law states and Community Property States. I’ll review the Community Property states, since there are fewer of them. They are: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, the territory of Puerto Rico….and Alaska allows married couples to opt in to community-property status.

Basically, if you’re in a Community Property State (see above),AND YOU GET DIVORCED, almost all of your assets that you accumulated DURING THE MARRIAGE are divided completely in half. Even your own 401k, private savings account, or pension from YOUR job becomes half your spouse’s! Of course, there are exceptions, such as if you have a prenup where you’ve written down that you will NOT divide your assets equally, or you two agree to amicably divide the assets unequally (in which case, you’ll have to talk to your divorce attorneys and there will be a lot of writing to do.)

Two major exceptions to this rule are INHERITANCES and GIFTS. If you received a personal inheritance or personal gift, your spouse doesn’t necessarily get any of it in a divorce, unless you COMMINGLED THE FUNDS. Commingling means you used some of the funds to pay for a marital expense- this can get super tricky and involves lots of record-keeping and paperwork, so I’m not going to go into it here. My advice is: if you have an inheritance or personal gifts, try NOT to commingle those funds…yep, that might be hard. Once inheritance or gift funds that were specifically yours get commingled with marriage funds, you’ve made them fair game to be seized by your spouse during divorce proceedings. Eek.

If you’re in a COMMON LAW STATE (all the ones NOT listed above) and you get divorced, your assets won’t be divided strictly 50/50, but they will be divided in a “fair” way (read: complex). This will involve a lot of “if I take this, then you can have that” type of discussions. If discussions don’t happen, the courts will step in. It can get quite messy, especially if the whole ‘commingling of funds’ mentioned above has taken place.

Unfortunately, the main fact I came across in my research is: don’t trust your ex to tell you what you’re entitled to. They will possibly lie to your face…or they’ll honestly have no idea and make things up. If you’re getting divorced, DO YOUR RESEARCH. I know, it sounds harsh. I love to believe that people are good at heart too. But…the divorce experts who wrote the articles I read recently seem to believe more in greed than goodness. Sad face.

So that’s a lot. And not the happiest stuff I’ve ever written. If you’re still game for more, I’m attaching links to my research below for further reading. If your head is spinning, let’s review the absolute basics:

  • When you get married, you won’t be FORCED BY LAW to share your assets. You will probably want to share some or all of them.

  • When you get divorced, THEN you will likely be forced to share your assets.

  • After a divorce, Community Property states will divide most of your assets 50/50, with the possible exception of inheritance and gifts, unless the inheritance and gifts were commingled with marital money.

  • After a divorce, Common Law states wont divide everything 50/50, but they will divide things in what is deemed a ‘fair’ manner…and this can be very complex.

  • It is this very complex division of assets issue that solidifies the possible extreme importance of prenups. 

Oh man. That was a lot for a blog about the thirties. I swear, my next post will be about ice cream or something. Or maybe I’m just thinking about pints of Haagen Daaz because this was depressing.

Please let me know any questions or comments this brings up…or if you have more insight into this. Thanks for reading to the end!

References:

Managing Marital Property DO’s and Don’ts

401K division after divorce (this is complicated so I didn’t go into it here- these guys do it better.)

More retirement plan division after divorce

People hiding assets during divorce proceedings– eek!

Some good info on commingling

Sheltering inheritance

More sheltering inheritance

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