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.

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