Have You Been Taking Advantage of Compound Interest in Your Thirties?

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“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world”

“The greatest invention of mankind is compound interest.”

Albert Einstein is attributed to have said some version of all of these quotes. Whether he did or did not actually say this remains to be determined, but the truth is that compound interest really is a force to be reckoned with.

Compound interest can cause your retirement fund to grow way more than what you could’ve contributed yourself, and you can end up living on what you never could have saved up in your wildest dreams. $5000 invested at the age of 18 in a Roth IRA and left alone can turn into half a million dollars by the age of 72 with an average 9% interest rate.

$5,000 + compound interest magic + time= $500,000 for you

Compound interest can also get you in tons of credit card debt- the kind of debt that you couldn’t imagine wracking up in your wildest dreams. $5000 of credit card debt at a 22% interest rate would become $44,235 in 10 years. 

$5000 + compound interest + time (not much) = $44,235 owed to your bank.

Now that you’re in your thirties, make sure you’re aware of this miraculous compounding power. You can make compound interest work for you, or you can let it wreak havoc on your financial life, but either way, you have to start now because compound interest compounds fast, and waits for no one.

If you learn one financial lesson in your thirties, let it be this one- use compound interest wisely and start now.

Here’s a chart of $5000 invested in an IRA at age 18, untouched until age 72, at various interest rates. If somehow you averaged a 13% interest rate, that $5000, without ever adding another penny, would become over 3.5 million dollars when you retire. Now that’s some powerful magic.

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Will You Own A Home in Your 30s?

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I’ve been thinking a lot about the markers that seem to differentiate people in their 30s. In our early to mid-20s, it seemed as though we were all on the same path – trying to find our careers and our own identities. There was always common ground on which to relate.

But now, two people in their 30s can be vastly different because of their choices on marriage, children, career and finances. Home owning is also one of those markers.

The average age for a first-time homeowner is between 31 and 34, depending on what study you’re looking at. I’ve even read some studies that put the age for first homeownership at 39. So it’s hard to say what’s exactly accurate.

One thing is for sure, though. People are waiting longer for first homeownership. Maybe that’s the economy or student loans or a host of other factors like people marrying later.

Personally, I’m not at all close to buying for two equally measured reasons. Firstly, I don’t have enough saved for a down payment. And secondly, I’m not sure where I would want to buy a place. I haven’t settled on my “heart home” or “forever home.”

How about you? Do you think you’ll own a home in your 30s, or do you already?

Here are some fun facts about first time home buyers:

Six Interesting Things About First Time Home Buyers

Love and Delight on the Holidays

We want to send so much love to you, our amazing readers, always and especially during the holiday season. We’re truly grateful that you’re reading, and for your thoughtful comments and stories and feedback.

We love you, are honored that you’re here, and hope you continue to grow with us.

I just started reading the book “Big Magic,” by Elizabeth Gilbert. Jane lent it to me saying that it was a must read, so I’m excited to keep going with it. In the first few pages, the author quotes a favorite poet of hers, Jack Gilbert, who says “We must risk delight. We must have the courage to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world.”

Those sentences moved me greatly. I want to have courage to risk my own delight, despite what may happen around me. Who knew it could be such a worthwhile risk?

I hope that you too get to risk your own delight this holiday season.

Have some fantastic holidays with your loved ones, and Merry Christmas!

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My living Christmas tree, Seneca, and I

 

The More Time and Less Time of Stopping

I recently went through a period where I had trouble feeling grateful for things. I wrote about some of my struggles in What Happens When You Start Feeling Empty – I came to a point where I realized I was having difficulties accessing any feelings at all, never mind grateful, peaceful ones.

I’ve started to come out of that funk, at least for awhile, and I think the return of some peace in my life has a lot to do with having gone through the emptiness in the first place, acknowledged it, and just stopped.

Stopped. Cold.

Instead of trying to push through the empty feeling and just get it out of my life by sheer force, I sat with it. I stopped what I was doing- the things I could stop anyway- the busyness and busy rituals that I felt I needed to do but actually didn’t. The emptiness was trying to tell me something and I needed to listen. Jane talks about sitting with feelings of sadness in her last post The Solstice and Acknowledging the Harder Parts of the Holidays. I think you can sit with any feeling, including an empty lack of feeling.

I turned the non-feelings over in my head. I wrote about them here. And then, slowly, painstakingly at first, the feelings changed. And I changed what I was doing. Tiny, experimental changes. I starting a new morning ritual instead of my beloved meditating. I exercised in a different way. I started seeing more friends and changed my work habits a bit. I read a different book.

I didn’t make major changes. Just small ones that felt a bit better. And then I started to feel a bit better.

I didn’t have any more time in my life to sit with my thoughts or change my routines or stop what I was doing. But time is a funny thing. It’ll expand when something is important to you.

Even though the holidays are busy and stressful sometimes, give yourself the gift of your own time for awhile. Peace will come.

And isn’t that what the holidays are all about anyway?

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The Solstice and Acknowledging the Harder Parts of the Holidays

The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, and thus the darkest time of the year. In the United States, that day is either December 21st or 22nd of each year.

What I love about this Winter Solstice is this idea that it’s a time to reflect on our lives before we move into a new year. It’s a time of rebirth.

Many cultures/religions/spiritualities throughout history have celebrated the Winter Solstice. In Christianity, there’s actually services on December 21st called “Blue Christmas” or “Longest Night” services. They are services for those who aren’t feeling all the “joy” of the holidays – people who have experienced loss and trauma in the past year. Those who have dealt with a death, divorce, injury, or any kind of grief/loss may find relief in these services.

I love this idea – because so often, we’re force fed this concept of everything being immensely joyful during the holidays. But there’s great healing when you can also acknowledge the darker/sadder parts of life before you move on.

This reminds me of a quote my yoga teacher said years ago during class:  “What you resist, persists.” So, just because it’s the holidays, doesn’t mean you can’t let in a little sadness or melancholy. By allowing yourself to feel those feelings, you open yourself up to a fresh start in the New Year.

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What About Those Creative Projects In Your Thirties?

When I just got out of college, straight out of the drama program, I was hungry for creative work.

I had just gotten out of the directing/acting program at NYU and I wanted to work on plays- I didn’t feel like there was any other choice. I was buzzing with musical moments- I was inspired. I yearned to put my excited thoughts to work. Whenever a possible project came up, I jumped at the opportunity. The projects always felt like opportunities- maybe scary or difficult ones sometimes, but never a drag. I was reading plays all the time and in and out of long rehearsal processes- all of this felt like a hardcore part of my career.

Of course, there were bad moments where I felt like rehearsal processes took up all of my time- and would occasionally cause fights with my ex-boyfriend when he claimed every spare moment of my time was taken up by theater work- with not a second left for him. And that was a problem, but I kept working on theater projects anyway- they were just constantly popping up because I was surrounded by people in the industry, and connected to a lot of theater groups. I tried to find some balance, and I would apologize to my ex and to friends profusely when I was in tech week (AKA Hell Week, when your life is completely claimed by the theater and you eat, sleep, and breath a play yet still never have enough time before opening night).

Through it all, I felt like theater projects were extremely important. I didn’t question why. They just were.

Then, maybe four years ago, another ex-boyfriend of mine changed the way I felt about theater. He never understood my love of theater, and was never into the fact that I loved it. He didn’t come to some of my biggest and proudest productions, always claiming some excuse or another. When he did come to the plays, he always seemed upset for whatever reason and made me nervous.

He reminded me again and again that the audiences of most of my plays consisted solely of friends and families of the cast and of myself. This was basically true. It’s rare that strangers decide suddenly to attend an off-Broadway play unless there’s a celebrity in the cast. He said I wasn’t reaching the people I’d hoped to reach anyway. This was possibly also true. I was hoping to reach many people- and if the audiences only consisted of the same people who always got ‘dragged out’ to support me or my cast, then what was the point? I was making theater in a vacuum.

Even worse, once I believed that I was making theater in a vacuum, for no one, I couldn’t stomach the fact that I did it for almost no money. Most of my theater projects have been a labor of love, with minor stipends paid to me at the end, if that. Yet, as I said before, I still felt like the theater projects were very important, and still worth working on.

Once I felt like theater projects weren’t worth my time anymore, I went on an official ‘hiatus’ from theater. I stated that I had to pay off my student loan before I ever could do a full rehearsal process again. I haven’t yet finished paying my student loan, but that wasn’t the real reason I stopped working on theater- honestly, I felt artistically defeated. I felt cheated- like theater had lied to me. I wasn’t really helping anyone. I was giving my time away for free. Theater is one of the only industries where people are expected to give their time away for nothing- and even compete to be able to do so.

Instead of the theater defeat wearing off once my former boyfriend and I broke up, it grew stronger. I still didn’t want to work on a full rehearsal process- I couldn’t shake the ‘what’s the point of it all if there’s no money in it’ feeling.’ I blamed my ex. But then I blamed myself. How could I lose such an integral part of myself? How do I get it back? What do I do if I still kinda believe that I’m not reaching people with this medium, or that theater is a dying art form that barely pays and is only attended by foreign tourists and the friends and family of the production team?

I still don’t know exactly what to do with these beliefs that continue to cling on. I wish I could press a button and feel like theater is important and worth it again.

Two summers ago, right after the breakup with that same ex, half in protest towards my ex’s dislike of theater, I’d started writing a play. For a moment, in my thoughts of protest towards his beliefs that summer, the passion returned. My anger fueled me and a character came out onto paper. Musical thoughts started to flow through my fingers. The eager audience in my head returned to cheer me on. I felt a bit crazy- a bit wild. Then life got in the way. I slowed down on the script and my project screeched to a halt. The passion was gone.

The other day, when I was feeling empty, I randomly took out the script again for the first time in over a year. It felt distant and removed from my life now, hard to relate to, which cause me some stress.

Would I ever get those passionate, wild theatrical feelings back? I started reconfiguring the script, rewriting and reworking. I manually stuck with it for awhile. Some ideas came to my head- they were shadowy and new, but for a second they felt musical and raw and wild.

And you know what, who cares if no one sees my creative projects but maybe friends and family? Who cares if my creative side work will never make me any money? This kind of work has made me feel more alive than I’ve ever felt without it. So maybe there’s something to it after all.

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Happy Holidays! And Where Is Your ‘Heart Home’?

Happy Holidays, wherever you are! Hope you’re staying in festive spirits and spending time with family and friends.

I’ve just arrived back home in NYC after two airplane flights and two bus rides. And I have to say, there’s something about traveling for me – as in, the actual act of commuting, that puts me in a hyper reflective state of mind. Do you feel that way, too?

In the past few years, plane rides have become evaluation periods – time to look back on how I feel about my life. And today, perhaps because it was the holidays, I was thinking about the idea of home. I felt a weird sense of not knowing if home was LA or if home was NY. I’ve lived in LA now for almost two and a half years, and while it’s increasingly feeling like “my city,” it’s still foreign to me. And yet, I don’t feel as though NY is my home either. People I love are here, but there’s no professional tie for me.

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In my travels today, I started wondering the percentage of people who live where they grew up. And thanks to the power of Google and diligent researchers around the world, we can find that information pretty easily.

Apparently, according to a Pew Social trends report (from 2008), 37% of American adults have never left their hometown.

I was very surprised by this. And I got a small swell of pride for having the courage to try living in a new place.

But, this was even more shocking to me: 57% of Americans have not lived out of the current home state in the US. 

I also loved this part of the study: the idea of a “heart home;” a place where you feel most deeply connected. According to their research, more than one-in-five-U.S.-born adults say they don’t feel they are currently living in their “heart home.”

Are you?

Personally, I’m really not sure. But maybe I can have two “heart homes.” Or do you have to be monogamous to a place for it to be your “heart home”?

Interesting food for thought.

Wherever you find yourself this holiday season, “heart home” or not, try and appreciate whatever ways, however small, that it feels like home to you.

What Happens When You Start Feeling Empty?

I guess it can happen when you least expect it.

At the end of a very productive week, after sweeping through almost everything on my to do list and checking it all off, and getting a crazy amount accomplished and even feeling quite together and on top of things, I started to feel empty inside.

I wouldn’t usually write about things like this, because I don’t know if hearing about emptiness is helpful to people. Also, I’m usually an extremely positive and driven person, so it’s kind of hard to talk about feeling suddenly empty in the middle of an upswing for no determinable reason.

However, I was thinking that if I’m feeling this way now, I’m sure there are others who are feeling this way too, and maybe it’ll help to talk about it.

Emptiness is a weird feeling, and completely annoying, because when you try to shake it, it only clings on harder. It came upon me this week after meditating almost every day, and feeling pretty good about things, so it was pretty random seeming. I guess it can come from anywhere at any time. It just felt hard to feel, if that makes any sense. It was hard to feel grateful and hard to feel peaceful for sure.

I woke up in the middle of the night last night with the empty feeling slathered all over me, like an unsettling grey cloud. It led to almost immediate fear thoughts about how even when I’m on top of things and feeling quite good, I can still feel this horrible lack. Just writing about this now kind of brings the fear thoughts back. Since I don’t exactly know the answer to how to proceed with feelings like this, I will only state some theories I have:

  • Feelings of emptiness come and go. There’s probably something I should pay attention to, instead of just pushing the feelings away.
  • Although I’m afraid of the feeling of emptiness, or not being able to feel peace and gratefulness, I think I’m afraid because I feel like no matter how hard I work, my feelings might not always be peaceful, and I can’t accept that.
  • I need to accept that my feelings won’t always be peaceful, and that sometimes I will feel empty and afraid. I won’t always feel this way, but it doesn’t help to pretend that I never feel this way.
  • The empty feelings and fear feelings that pass through me don’t define who I am.
  • Those same “bad” feelings (which I’m going to take the “bad” label away from now) can be present even while I forge ahead with my life. Their presence doesn’t need to set me back, though I always feel that if I feel empty and fearful, it must mean I’ve backtracked.

This has a lot to do with what I wrote about in the post It Hurts, So What? Sometimes I’m afraid to do something because I know it will hurt. For example, in that post I talked about being afraid to speak up because I knew the outcome probably would be painful anyway…but I needed to speak up. And I did, and it was very painful..but that was okay. Because so what? Sometimes things will be painful. It’s uncomfortable but it’s alright.

So perhaps I’m relearning the lesson of ‘It hurts. So what?” again and again. It’s okay to be afraid of the empty feeling, at the same time that it’s okay to be afraid of being afraid. It’s not a about being ‘beyond’ those feelings. It’s about letting them happen..because so what? Those feelings aren’t who I am.

Here are some articles I read about the empty feeling that made me feel a bit better and a bit less alone:

The Real Cause of Inner Emptiness (And What to Do About It- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/margaret-paul-phd/inner-emptiness_b_869421.html

‘I Feel Empty’: How to Overcome Feelings of Emptiness- http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/i-feel-empty-how-to-overcome-feelings-of-emptiness-1112145

Allowing things to

arise: http://www.buddhanet.net/4noble19.htm

Hope this helps someone out there. Remember, feel free to reach out to us if you feel sad or empty. You’re not alone!

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How Many Hours a Week Do You Work?

When Laura was visiting me in LA, we had periods of time that we designated as our “working” time. I had to finish up a screenplay for class, and Laura was working on a few career related tasks. Together, we used the Pomodoro method so we could be as efficient as possible. Do you know about the Pomodoro method? If you don’t, you should.

Here’s the sweet and simple explanation, direct from the Pomodoro Technique website, http://pomodorotechnique.com/get-started/.

But in a quick summary, you basically work in intense 25 minute intervals with 5 minute breaks in between. During the 25 minutes in which you work, you don’t check your text messages, pick up calls, deviate from the task at hand, eat snacks, etc. It’s deep, focused work on whatever task needs getting done.

And man, it’s effective. I’ve been using it for years to help with my writing, and Laura just got on board while she was in town. She’s now a convert.

You do as many Pomodoros as you, but I normally average at 4 per day for writing.

It’s named the Pomodoro method after the tomato shaped kitchen timer that they suggest using.

I thought a lot about the Pomodoro method after reading this killer article about Japan’s 105-hour workweek. Yup, you read that right. 105 hours. Jeez.

The author worked at one of Japan’s elite law firms, and wrote about his experiences, which included a daily schedule of working 10am to 3am.

In practice it’s common for lawyers to block out a period of a few hours for some personal time and designate that as their weekend. Japanese lawyers work an average of 300-plus hours per month. Annually, they take less than ten days of leave. – Peter Bungate

Say what?! Man, do I feel lazy. It’s a cultural thing apparently, and it’s about making sure every task is completed perfectly in the best way possibly. While that’s incredibly admirable, you can imagine the havoc those hours inflict on people’s personal lives.

This was an interesting to tidbit from the article:

The consequences of overwork stretch into retirement. A well-known anecdote is called the “Narita Divorce,” named after Tokyo’s main international airport. Upon retirement the company will pay for a round-the-world airfare for the retiree and his wife in recognition of a lifetime of service. Being sometimes the only lengthy period spent together during the husband’s working career, the couple comes to the realization that they are incompatible and, immediately upon returning to Narita airport, decide to separate rather than spend their retirement years together. – Peter Bungate

How crazy is that?

So the question remains. How many hours a week do you really work? I probably work around 35 (including my temp job and my writing.) While that sounds meager, I’m not including reading and corresponding with professional contacts “work.”

How do we even measure hours at work anyway, especially when we’re self-employed or pursuing a more artistic path?

Are You Still A Good Friend In Your Thirties?

I just got back from visiting Jane in LA and it was fantastic. I’d been working in LA for two weeks, so I took the opportunity to extend my stay for 7 days at Jane’s apartment in Santa Monica. It was the best decision I could’ve made.

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Jane and I managed to spend 7 days with almost every hour together, and we still felt like we could’ve easily used more time. We went to all kinds of delicious restaurants, from brunch cafes to vegetarian taco places to incredible italian (we’re ridiculously happy foodies), while also managing to find a mac and cheese festival (9 different mac and cheeses in 2 hours), and quite a few great drink deals and happy hours.

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We also managed to both get quite a bit of work done together- between writing and blogging and marketing and other job-related things. We also got in quite a few physical activities such as biking for quite a few hours and running and walking all over the place. We met up with friends and coworkers and I even got to go to her weekly writers workshop.

In short, it was a successful trip. However, one of the things we talked about and have had quite a few serious discussions about in the past is maintaining our friendship even when we’re in relationships.

We’ve both found that it can be easier to maintain friendships when single. I’ve seen this happen time and time again with acquaintances who fall off the face of the earth when they find a significant other.

I know it has happened to me in the past, especially in my early 20s, where I expected all my friends to understand that I didn’t have as much time to spend hanging out with them. Some of my friends then drifted away- probably angry at me for being so stupidly unaware that I was pushing them away. Luckily, I realized what I’d done and now heavily prioritize spending time with my friends and family.

I feel terrible even thinking about those days, but I think you have to go through the relationship/friendship vortex to understand. At first, when you’re in a relationship, it can just seem like you don’t have nearly as much time to hang out with your friends. However, if you let that feeling lead you, and you stop appreciating and tending to your awesome friendships, you’ll pay a heavy price.

You don’t want your significant other to be your only friend. Even if you’re married, I think it’s a very bad idea to only hang out with your significant other, or only give minor thought to your friends. Worst case scenario, you break up or get divorced, and then you realize your good friends are gone because you’ve been pushing them away for years.

Jane and I always promise each other that we’ll tend to our friendship no matter what, and I think that’s one of the biggest reasons we’ve been friends for so long. During this trip we made a point to talk once again about prioritizing our friendship whether or not we’re in relationships. It’s actually a manual thing- you need to put friends right up there with career and relationships, especially during the busy, hectic years of your thirties. Good friends are strengthening and amazing- never take them for granted.

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What Big Changes Did You Make In Your 30s?

Transitioning out of your 20s into your 30s feels somewhat like a spring cleaning. You identify habits that aren’t working for you and you actively work on changing them.

Here some of the changes I’ve made in my own life as I moved into being a thirtysomething.

Ditch the Energy Vampires 

You know those people who, after you spend time with them, make you feel exhausted or unhappy? In my twenties, I had a few people in my life who made me feel like that. That was because I… A) Kept making excuses for reasons why they were in my life, B) Was afraid to be alone and felt like I wouldn’t make other, new friends who were better fits for me. Once I realized that my time was better spent with people who made me feel excited about the world, I slowly moved on from the other people who didn’t. It doesn’t mean they were bad people, but their energy just wasn’t the right fit for me. You will find your tribe if you keep looking for them. And being alone can often be incredibly satisfying.

“It is better to be alone than in bad company.”
-George Washington

Take At Least One Step Each Day Towards Achieving Your Dream

Yes, most of us have day jobs and aren’t actually pursuing our life dreams for 8 hours a day. We’re in jobs that pay the bills but don’t make us incredibly happy and fulfilled. So we have to use our ‘down time’ wisely. Even 10 minutes a day spent going after your dream is something, that time is better than doing nothing at all. It starts the momentum going.

For me, that can be as small a step as writing for a half hour or submitting my work to a screenplay contest.

Invest in Yourself 

And I mean, literally. As in, spend some of your earned income on your education and self-improvement. I started graduated school when I was thirty-one years old and it was one of the the best decisions I’ve ever made.

I read somewhere that you should invest 3% of your income in your self-improvement. Whether that means a graphic design or photoshop class, or investing in an online continuing education class – there’s always something you can do to increase your knowledge and your hire-ability.

Once you have identified a passion, invest in yourself. Figure out what you need to know, what kind of experience and expertise you need to develop to do the things that you feel in your heart you will enjoy, and that will sustain you both mentally and economically.                              –Martha Stewart

What habits/mindsets did you change in your 30s?

 

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