If You Make A Lot of Money In Your Thirties, You Don’t Have to Spend it All (or, Did You Hear How Much Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutchers’s Wedding Bands Cost??)

Now that you’re in your thirties, it’s possible that you’re making more money than you used to. Maybe you’re making a lot more money, or maybe just a bit, but hopefully you’re getting to enjoy that difference in pay.

When I used to listen to Suze Orman’s podcasts- alas, she sadly retired from the podcast/TV scene recently- there was a segment called “Can I Afford It?”. In this segment, people would call in and tell Suze about something they wanted to buy. Then they would ask her if they had the money to afford the item. Suze asked them all the same basic questions about their financial situation, the most important ones being what their monthly income and their monthly expenses were.

The answers people gave to these income versus expenses questions were always enlightening. Sometimes people would call in with an income of $11,000 a month, but had monthly expenses hovering around $10,950 a month! And then there were people who would report an income around $3000 a month, but their expenses averaged  only $2,000 a month. Who do you think was better able to afford what they wanted to buy? It was weird to see the juxtaposition between the two.

Of course, it’s not always like this. Sometimes you can make a lot of money or a good amount of money, and simply not spend it all. I read an article today about Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher’s wedding bands. In an interview with Conan O’Brien, Mila was talking about how she saw that the wedding bands at Tiffany’s were ridiculously expensive. So she went on Etsy and found a nice wedding band for $90 and bought it for herself. Then she found Ashton’s wedding band for $100. So their grand total wedding band expense was $190! I’d imagine that’s a huge savings from the average cost of wedding bands today! And this wedding band was for one of the top paid actresses in Hollywood, who can absolutely afford one that was way more expensive!

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But a more expensive wedding band wasn’t worth it to her. This is an extreme example of how just because you make money doesn’t mean you have to spend it all. It’s also an example of how people cut costs on their wedding when they didn’t even have to, simply because some of the costs weren’t worth it to them. Of course, you don’t have to be cheap and hoard all your money either- being insanely cheap isn’t fun, and Suze Orman approves lots of purchases. After all, life is to be enjoyed! However, you can pick and choose which items and experiences are really worth spending your hard earned money on. And when you only purchase things that are worth it to you, you’ll end up making your purchases more special and exciting- even the little ones!

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 Click here to see the Mila Kunis interview about her Etsy wedding bands

 

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The Sunk Cost Fallacy; Or Why It’s Never Too Late to Change Course

You know that psychological phenomenon called the sunk cost fallacy?  Basically it’s when you refuse to abandon something (a job, relationship, money investment, etc.) because you’ve already spent so much time or money on it.

As I head into my mid-30s (GULP), I talk to a lot of folks my age who are dissatisfied with their careers or certain aspects of their lives. But they’re hesitant to make a big change because they’re already invested on that path.

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And I get that. I mean, what if you’ve spent a decade being an expert in one field only to realize you really don’t enjoy working in that field? Do you just abandon all that? Or what if you’re in your early 30s and you’ve been in a relationship for six years but realize you’re unhappy but you desperately want kids and you feel the burden of your ticking clock. 

Well. I’m hear to give you permission to completely scrap something you’ve been with/at for years if it makes you unhappy or no longer calls to you. It’s OK. That’s the beauty of life. We are supposed to be constantly in flux.

And if you don’t leave something/someone that in your heart you know isn’t right for you, you’re simply wasting more time – because I guarantee – if your desire is strong and real enough, you will end up going a new direction towards that place anyway. It’s like psychological, subconscious magnetism. 

When I’ve made big decisions in my life – like moving to LA and committing to writing, I would remind myself of the quote “Fortune favors the bold.” And I’ve found it to be true. Moving here and deciding to go to graduate school was the best decision of my life. More opportunities have come my way than I ever could have imagined.

You’ve got to make moves (metaphorically, but literally in my case) to accomplish big things.

 

Can’t Wait to See This Movie

The other day my mom told me about a movie she thought I would love – “Don’t Think Twice.” It’s about an improv group, who are also best friends in their 30s, and what happens when one of them has commercial success.

The movie explores what it means to be in your 30s and trying to succeed as an artist.

Here’s the trailer:

There’s a great interview with Mike Birbiglia, the filmmaker, Variety. One of the questions was particularly relevant to being in your 30s. 

Were you interested in depicting how your life changes from your twenties to your thirties? That’s a big shift, and it’s not one that’s often depicted on film. 
Definitely. There’s no way I would have written this in my twenties. I feel like in my twenties, I was chasing this dream of having a sitcom. At a certain point, I realized it wasn’t even my dream. It was everybody else’s dream except for me. I had a sitcom pilot at CBS like eight years ago and when it didn’t get picked up to air, I was left with all this free time. I put my head down and worked on these three one-person shows Off-Broadway and I directed these two feature films, and I feel so lucky that happened. At the time I was crushed. I felt like it was the biggest failure of my life and in retrospect I think it’s the luckiest thing that ever happened to me.

There’s a cultural idea of success in America. Usually people view it as exposure or visibility. You know, being known. In my thirties, I came to realize that success is connecting with people. Helping people. And contributing in some way. It can be for millions of people in TV or in movies, or it could be for twenty people in an improv theater in Minneapolis.

The Anti-Budget Budget In Your Thirties

Although Jane and I both very recently wrote articles about how we’ve been tracking every dollar we spend lately, (check out Jane’s Budgeting article Saving Money Like You’re In the Depression Era and my budgeting article How Tracking Money is Like Weighing Yourself), I want to write here about a way to possibly not track your money at all.

This is kind of the method I was unofficially using before I started tracking every dollar this past month using the Goodbudget app. The method involves taking a savings percentage off the top of your income before you spend any of your money on anything else. The word “savings” is general and can include any of the below:

Contributions to an Emergency Fund

-Contributions to any savings account

-Contributions to a retirement account – such as a 401K, an IRA, or a Roth IRA.

-Paying down any debt- such as a student loan, a credit card, or accelerating your mortgage payments.

-Contributions to your child’s college fund- such as a 529 Plan.

So here’s how to live the anti-budget life:

  1. The second you get paid, decide on a percentage of your income to contribute towards savings.

2. If you never save anything, you can start with as little as 1% to save. The way to figure this out is to simply knock 2 zeros off the amount. So if you get paid $2000 biweekly, contribute $20 every time you get paid. Make $1000 biweekly, contribute $10 every time you get paid.

3. If you’ve been saving already, for retirement, for a house, to pay down credit card debt, to have a good emergency fund- saving for anything really- then you can easily incorporate this tactic to make saving money even easier. Whenever you make any money, save a certain percentage towards any and all of your goals. I usually do it this way- the second I get paid, I put 10 percent towards my emergency fund, 10 percent towards retirement, and 10 percent towards throwing extra money at my student loans.

With this tactic, you can then try not budgeting the rest but instead spend it comfortably knowing that you’ve already saved what you needed to.

Of course, you’ll need to make sure your bills, like rent and utilities, are paid before you spend the rest freely, but you will still be able to spend without budgeting every  dollar.

Check out another anti-budget budget article by the awesome finance blogger and podcaster Paula Pant of Afford Anything- she lives by this strategy and goes into immense detail about it in The Easiest Budget to Follow- Shockingly Simple.

Give this strategy a try, especially if you hate budgets, and let us know how it works for you! It’s nice and simple!

 

When Things Feel Uncomfortable or A Shock of Cold Water in Your Thirties

Yesterday I was at the beach for the first time this year. It was a beautiful day and the sun and sand were both feeling glorious on my skin.

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My friend Zach and I went to Brighton Beach in Brooklyn for the day. Zach loves both swimming and cold water so one of the first things he wanted to do was go into the ocean. At first I didn’t want to follow him- I’ve been to this beach before but hate cold water and am not a big city ocean swimmer. And the New York City waters are not known for their tropical climates.

But I decided to at least put my feet in and followed Zach into the surf. Right away, the frigid cold stung my feet, and I didn’t go any further. “It’s freezing!!!” I screamed, but he assured me that I’d get used to it. I didn’t believe him, but I wanted to continue our previous conversation, so I stayed with my feet in the water. Before long, the water felt body temperature and then downright warm on my feet. I was sure I had teleported to Miami. Soon I was stomach deep in the water and happily frolicking around.

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Now, I’m convinced the water was two different temperatures from the start to the finish. How did something so unbearable transform into something so great? And I’m thinking this happens in life all the time.. when you’re at the beginning of something new, even a new feeling, it can sting and feel completely uncomfortable, even intolerable. So you leave before you experience a change.

But sometimes the gentle reassurance of a friend or a family member invites us to stick with something that at first feels unwelcome or too hard. Occasionally the distraction of good company can take us away from our old habits enough to welcome change. How many times have we instinctually run from something that might have turned out to be lovely?

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Does Getting Older Make You Like Romantic Comedies Less?

I saw Notting Hill a few days ago for the first time and I didn’t like it. To be fair, I was working on something on my computer at the same time so wasn’t giving it my absolute undivided attention, but I figured with a romantic comedy like Notting Hill, I probably wouldn’t need to. But maybe I actually did need to.

When I went through the online lists of everyone’s favorite romantic comedies, Notting Hill was on every list. I used to love romantic comedies but hadn’t watched many in awhile so I thought I’d get caught up this summer. Yet, everything about Notting Hill bothered me.

In a nutshell, Notting Hill is about an extremely famous actress played by Julia Roberts who walks into a bookstore in -gasp!- in Notting Hill and ends up meeting the owner of the store- a shy, very bookish (of course) and very single beta male played by Hugh Grant. They would have had a brief encounter and then would have never met again except that Hugh Grant’s character- by insane coincidence- literally runs into Julia’s character the next day and spills orange juice on her blouse, forcing her to go to his apt to change shirts. Thus begins their love story, with a first surprise kiss at his apt.

I don’t know why I found this whole tale so hard to swallow, or at least why it annoyed me so much. Many things about the movie bothered me that I don’t think would’ve bothered me in the past. The biggest issue I had was this:

Julia Roberts’ famous actress character pursued Hugh Grant’ character almost THE ENTIRE TIME. That’s why I called Hugh Grant’s character a beta male earlier- he never really took initiative to pursue her until the absolute very end. First of all, I don’t really believe this- the famous actress goes completely out of her way to pursue the bookish bookstore owner who doesn’t seem that into her? Also, I just can’t see this working in real life- is Julia going to mainly pursue him the entire relationship? Is Hugh ever going to take action? Especially if he couldn’t even take action most of the movie when a famous and funny and beautiful actress makes it ridiculously clear how into him she is. She even says one of the most famous lines in movie history to him:

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“I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her”…Swoon…

But Hugh still rejects Julia! To be fair, he’s hot. Maybe you get a pass if you’re hot. I guess he can meet anyone he wants even though he doesn’t seem to want to date and seems to prefer reading books to getting on Tinder. And it’s 1999 so he doesn’t have access to Tinder, to be fair.

But Julia is hot too. And famous. She can also presumably have anyone she wants. Maybe she only wants what she can’t have? Okay I guess I can understand that. Dammit, the ultimate quandary of women everywhere- wanting what we can’t have. Don’t we all, Julia. Don’t we all.

Also, another annoying moment occurs where Hugh’s sister suddenly announces to her family and friends that she’s getting married- even though she’s single and hasn’t been dating anybody. Everyone is shocked and no one can figure out what’s going on. But then the sister leans over and whispers to Hugh’s roommate (who has otherwise been shown in the movie as an annoying drunk nutcase who wanders outside in his underwear) that she has picked him to marry. He bravely says okay. This could be cute if it didn’t seem like the relationship would end so badly in the long run. It would start off as another case of the woman taking complete initiative and then would more than likely be that way the entire marriage…which might not last that long at that rate. Because in this case the future groom doesn’t have the ability to take care of himself never mind the ability to be in a long term relationship with another person.

Could my analysis of this movie be way too harsh? Am I just more into fairness in relationships now that I’m older? Am I cynical because of all my past relationships? Am I too aware of red flags..so now seeing them, even in romantic comedies, causes me to squirm? (and not in a good way)? Could these be the main issues I’m having with Notting Hill? …None of this actually being the fault of the movie?

Come to think of it, while I was writing this blogpost, I actually felt tempted to rewatch Notting Hill, even though I just saw it a few days ago. I remember some of the funnier moments now that most of my annoyance and cynicism is out of my system. Notting Hill has been growing on me with time and a bit of distance- and I think some distance and possibly a healthy love of escapism are what’s needed for movies like this to work. You see, I really do like romantic comedies.

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Le sigh

 

 

Social Media and sometimes FOMO in your Thirties

I have a love/dislike (hate is too strong a word) relationship with Social Media. There are many reasons for this, some simply to do with concentrating on better ways to spend my time. But the biggest reason for my discomfort with social media is that it can occasionally make me feel really bad about myself.

The badness I feel from social media is a strange type of vexation- it comes and goes. When I go through social media ‘feel good’ periods, I can actually remain in a peaceful fun stretch for quite awhile. I understand the points of connection and sharing that are at the core of Facebook or Snapchat. I even feel connected. I feel looped in. I enjoy sharing. I enjoy commenting. I feel like An Important Part of Something Big. And I actually really like social media at these times.

But then there are the FOMO periods. These periods can happen at two very opposite times for me: 1.During times when I’m using social media a lot. 2. During times when I’m using social media not a lot ..but am thinking about it.

FOMO, for those of you who haven’t heard of it, stands for Fear of Missing Out, and I think social media taps into this inner fear more than anything else I’ve ever known. FOMO occurs from social media because people are sharing the polished, highlight reels of their lives and not necessarily what’s actually happening- so everything looks pretty good from an outsiders view. People rarely share worries about their relationships, career fears, family drama, fallouts with friends, financial struggles and the like. Social Media is full of platitudes, photos of cute kids, congratulations on new jobs, sunny visits to the beach, diamond engagement rings, delicious food with friends, and more happy times.

Honestly, that’s okay. That’s what social media is here to do for the most part- enable people to share great parts of their lives. Super depressing happenings usually come off as weird on a news feed and people understand that. I don’t necessarily want to read about tons of negative happenings either.

Yet, even being aware of the highlight reel nature of the beast can’t stop FOMO from coming. There’s a certain discouragement I can feel when scrolling a Facebook feed, especially if I’m already feeling not so great. I can get extra down on myself. Why am I not as happy as I can be right now? My friends seem so happy. Everyone is so busy doing social things- they’re all together- am I being antisocial? Oh god, I don’t use Snapchat enough. Everyone is having fun. Why can’t I get into Instagram? Why don’t I have 6 pack abs? I need to take gym selfies or no one will know I went to the gym! I need to use social media or no one will know I exist!! IF I DONT WRITE ABOUT IT ON SOCIAL MEDIA, DID IT EVEN REALLY HAPPEN??

Even though my mind knows most of these thoughts are extremely silly, the feelings come anyway. I’m bombarded with feels as I’m bombarded with feeds. Some of these thoughts are a mild exaggeration, but you may recognize others in yourself.

Some people don’t go through FOMO at all- I have a few extremely extroverted friends who remain in love with their Snapchat stories and Facebook feeds, and never seem jealous or sad about the whole thing. But this post is for the people who do have this kind of anxiety, or even occasionally do. You’re not alone. And you’re not missing out either.

I don’t have an answer for social media induced FOMO except to take breaks from the newsfeed and stories from time to time. But in my moments of greatest clarity I know that the only fear of missing out I should have is of the present moment. And the most important place to be, no matter what others are up to, is always where I am now.

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The Worthiness of Sleep

Lately I’ve been averaging around 8.5 hours of sleep a night and it’s been pretty glorious. This much sleep mainly happens because things slow down for me in the summer and I’m able to adapt my schedule to the way my natural rhythms are- I love to go to sleep around 1:30am and wake up around 10. I actually enjoy having a more leisurely morning and then really getting going on work later in the day and into the night. That works great for me. However, this schedule doesn’t go well with the structure of society today.

Not only is our society not for night owls, it’s also not for sleeping ‘extra’ hours. Today, you’re considered a ‘hero’ for sleeping less and working more. You can brag to all your ‘lazier’ friends about being so busy you had no time to sleep. Workaholism is an esteemed trait nowadays. Yet, I wonder if we might be able to do better work and bring better creations to the world if we’re better rested.

Lately, more and more awareness about the value of sleep seems to be coming to light. Arianna Huffington recently wrote about our sleep deprivation culture in her book The Sleep Revolution. I have not yet read it but I really want to. Just the other day, a blogger and thought leader that I really like, Marie Forleo, sent an email newsletter about the book including an interview with Arianna Huffington. Then, a bit later, a friend of mine forwarded me that same newsletter- so the importance of sleep has been a recurring theme lately.

Here’s a quote from the summary of the book on Amazon:

“In The Sleep Revolution, Arianna shows how our cultural dismissal of sleep as time wasted compromises our health and our decision-making and undermines our work lives, our personal lives — and even our sex lives. She explores all the latest science on what exactly is going on while we sleep and dream.  She takes on the dangerous sleeping pill industry, and all the ways our addiction to technology disrupts our sleep. She also offers a range of recommendations and tips from leading scientists on how we can get better and more restorative sleep, and harness its incredible power.”

I’ll write more reminders on the importance of sleep in future blogposts because I know that our busy world can get in the way of us ever prioritizing  having a long, restful night. When you can, try to congratulate yourself when you get more sleep and not yell at yourself for it. You’re benefitting everything else you do by sleeping more! And of course, don’t beat yourself up if you’re at a time in your life when you can’t get the amount of sleep you desire. After all, it’s not worth losing sleep over!

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Sage Words of Wisdom

This past weekend, I went on a weekend ‘retreat’ with my writer’s group in a small town a little bit inward from the SoCal coast. It was a group of seven of us, and we all know each other from our MFA graduate school writing program. They are my core friends here in Los Angeles, a city which can feel very isolating, so I am very grateful for them.

We had no set goals for our retreat, but I think the hope was that we would write a bit on our personal projects but also socialize and enjoy each other’s company.

We ended up getting no writing done, but it was well worth it. We played Cards Against Humanity, watched cheesy movies on VHS (like the classic Kevin Costner gem ‘Message in a Bottle’), drank wine, and told ghost stories. Basically it was a sleepover for adults.

One of the best activities was organized by my friend (who shall remain nameless in case she wants to stay humble about her amazingness), but basically, we took thirty minutes and each filled out a set of questions about everyone else in the writer’s group. They were questions like “What are this writer’s greatest strengths?” “If this writer was down, what would you say to him/her?” and “Which literary/film/TV character does this writer most remind you of?.” Suffice to say, it was awesome. Imagine getting feedback like that from 7 of your peers who truly care about you and are genuinely filling out these papers in a spirit of love. It’s great and fills your heart bucket.

It was such a cool exercise that not only brought us together, but helped us compare how we saw ourselves with how our friends viewed us.

The same friend who organized the activity told me something that has resonated strongly with me ever since the retreat. She said, “Bloom where you are planted.”

How beautiful is that?

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It was the perfect time for me to hear that. Because lately, I’ve been wondering how I got to where I am. I am working a job that doesn’t utilize my skill sets or passion, and I sometimes find myself wondering if I should be further along by now. When I see pictures of friends’ babies and growing families on Facebook and Instagram, I can’t help but feel a tinge of fear. Perhaps I won’t be lucky enough to have a family of my own, when it’s something I so desperately want.

But I remind myself that you must work to love the life you have. So I guess the gist of this all is – we may not be where we want to be in our 30s. But I believe we’re always exactly where need to be to absorb whatever lesson we are meant to learn. So why not learn to be the flower that blooms out of hardscrabble soil?

 

How Tracking Money Is Like Weighing Yourself

Recently, I’ve gotten in the habit of tracking every single dollar I spend. Jane, in her last money post, Saving Money Like You’re In the Depression Era, just wrote about tracking all of her money, bit by bit. As we’ve always suspected, Jane and I must have a psychic connection because I had just started doing the same thing with my money.

The reason it’s amazing that we both started tracking money at the same time is because we have been adamant about NOT tracking money in the past. It made both of us extremely nervous to track money- we always felt like we were frugal enough and that tracking every dollar stopped us from enjoying the tiny indulgences in life.

I began tracking money because I realized that my dollars were disappearing faster than I’d like. I’m an extremely frugal person, so money mysteriously disappearing irritated me greatly. Since I don’t make a budget from month to month, I rely on my frugality alone to keep me in check. Since that didn’t seem to be working anymore, I went over my credit card statements and was amazed to see that so many little tiny $4.00 or $6.00 purchases had added up. In some cases tiny purchases had added up to hundreds of dollars!

I had attempted to track my spending a few times in the past (giving up after maybe 2 days) and those times I’d used pen and paper to write down whenever I bought something. That wasn’t the best option for me because I’d lose the paper I wrote the expenditures on, so this time I downloaded two money tracking apps- things are easier to keep control of electronically. After playing with both apps, I really started using and enjoying this one called Goodbudget. It’s free in the App Store (and probably the Android Google Play store too). The app is great because it’s simple and it allows me to make categories of spending so I can see where I’m spending the bulk of my money. Whenever I buy something that doesn’t fit into my previous categories, I simply add a new category.

With my trusty new money tracking app, Goodbudget, I’ve succeeded in tracking every dollar of my money for a few weeks now. That’s a record for me! And what’s really interesting is that I spend less money because I’m more aware of my money being spent..and it kind of bothers me to see the amount of money I’m spending go up uncomfortably high right in front of my face. So I question some tiny purchases (a latte here or there, a new shirt, however affordable), that I would’ve otherwise barely thought twice about if I hadn’t been keeping my monthly expenditure right in front of me. Now I know how quickly small costs can add up.

I always hated weighing myself too, because the scale made me nervous and anxious in the past, but I’ve found that it really does help me to have a number in front of my face to keep me accountable.

If you haven’t tried budgeting apps- even if just to write down all your purchases the way I have- I recommend giving one of them (such as Goodbudget) a try. Even if you’re frugal, you may be spending more money than you realize. And when you stop spending money mindlessly on things, you’ll have more of it to spend on the tiny luxuries you actually love.

 

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Your Thirties and the Issue with Alcohol Tolerance

Remember those college days where you were able to drink at least 10 different drinks until 3 in the morning, fall asleep (pass out), and then wake up in the morning (or afternoon) feeling refreshed? And even those nights in your 20’s when you could have 6 or 7 beers and then wake up and go to work the next day?

Maybe some of you can still do these things relatively unscathed, but for me and many people I know, those kinds of pay-no-penalty nights are gone.

A lot of my friends have been bringing this up lately- the alcohol topic just seems to keep repeating. At first I thought it was just me who was waking up 5 hours after a night of drinking with a quickly beating heart and a strange sense of dread. But then I started hearing the same thing every time I went out with a friend: “I can’t drink as much as I used to.” Or “my tolerance has decreased,” or even “my tolerance has increased and I don’t get drunk anymore- I just get majorly hungover.” Or simply “I now know my limits more..and they’re lower than they used to be.

At first I was convinced that this was all psychosomatic. So many people convince themselves that they feel old because they’re getting older number-wise- but it doesn’t have to be this way. Hell, that’s one of the big reasons we started this blog. But I looked up this drinking in your thirties issue, and almost every article I read said that the lowered tolerance was a real thing.

Here’s a funny one: http://distractify.com/humor/2016/01/27/harris-says-no-more-keg-stands

And here’s one saying how it can get even worse in your 40s: http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304439804579205913000870266

And there are a lot more if you look up “drinking tolerance in your thirties.”

So, okay, maybe less alcohol drinking will have to happen in our thirties. But that doesn’t mean cutting alcohol out entirely if you don’t want to. It just means prioritizing feeling good over a bender of a night. It means knowing yourself better and knowing your limits better. And knowing that having a glass or two of wine from time to time (if you like that) probably won’t hurt you. Just own the way your body works in your thirties- take care of yourself and enjoy a more sophisticated life. After all, you’re an adult now.

Crazy, right?

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Saving Money By Living Like You’re in the Depression Era

Growing up, my parents were pretty amazing at saving money. Just to name a few of things they did to save money, they brown-bagged their lunch to work, compared grocery store circulars from several markets before purchasing anything, organized food plans for the week depending on what was on sale, and joined our buildings’ co-op board so that they could be watchdogs on how the building was spending money, which would ultimately affect their maintenance costs and property values.

They instilled a lot of wisdom in me, but more than anything, the idea that has stayed with me the most is: it’s not how much money you make, it’s how much money you save. 

The thirties are a time for building your nest egg, creating a solid financial foundation for yourself and potentially your family. And since I don’t make a lot of money (right now…), I take this adage to heart.

Lately, I’ve been really contemplating every single purchase I make. I try to be mindful about each dollar leaving my wallet. From the smallest items (gum, a bottle of diet coke, etc.) to larger purchases like clothing or new shoes.

This reminds me of a quote my parents used to repeat to me whenever I wanted to buy something new (well, not always, but often enough that I remember it.)

They would say,

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”

Until today, I didn’t realize this was a common household aphorism during the Great Depression. But it works and always. Especially in light of the whole Marie Kondo organizing movement of keeping only items that “spark joy” and also of a surge of people adopting a more minimalist lifestyle. Check out this woman’s blog, Make It Do. She decided to not buy anything for a full year except what she used up or wore out.

For me, I’m not going to be as extreme, but I do want to be mindful about every dollar I spend, in much the same way that I try to be mindful about everything I eat.

Would you adopt a spending diet? What’s your relationship to money?

The Happy And Maybe Sad of Independence

Happy Indepence Day to all Americans reading this! And I hope everyone else reading still enjoyed a nice summer Monday today.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Independence lately- what it means and what to do with it. As I get older, and more summers go by, the realization of how independence works gets clearer. As kids, we had to live in a certain place, and eat certain things, and be around certain people. We had to do our homework and study very particular things and choose from a specific assortment of extracurricular activities. Now, in our thirties, we are truly not held back by anything. Our liberation is a strange realization to process at first because we tell ourselves that we have only a few choices when in fact we have many, many more.

Summer is the time I really think about my choices and options because I have more time to process. My job is less structured in the summer and I don’t travel for work again until fall. I could spend my summer solely watching tv, or spend it working on a new project. I could travel in the summer, or spend my time staycationing in NYC. I can say ‘I’m bored’ and do nothing at home or I can learn to sing again from YouTube videos, or sit and paint. There are so many options.

But these are only the simple options. I can also question why I live in New York (I can live anywhere in the country as my work is all travel based). I can also question my job itself- I can choose to apply for other jobs. I can go into a completely different line of work. I can dye my hair purple. I can get a dog. I can get on a plane to India. I can party all night. I can eat Cheetos day and night. I can never exercise again. I can exercise all day long. Some options seem insane, but they’re still options nonetheless.

There are just so many options- and it’s great but it can also be scary. Sometimes when there’s lots of open time ahead, I get scared because I want to use the time well. This fear can lead to sadness- I’ve felt bad in the past when there’s empty time, because time leads to options and options lead to dealing with choices. And it can be scary to realize how much independence I actually have.

However, when the reins are grabbed, and I seize the wonderful power of independence and options, there’s nothing more incredible. When I can enjoy my time, own my choices, and make my days truly mine, my joy is unmatchable. All the ‘busyness’ that’s used as a coverup for being afraid of facing ownership of my life can’t match independence.

So enjoy the summer and any time off. Allow yourself to own your time and don’t hide behind ‘being so busy’ with bs time- stealing tasks. Don’t just sit around being bored. If you have time to relax, own the relaxation. Make your own choices and bask in the joy of them. Celebrate! You are independent!

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