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

 

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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