Archive for the ‘Howdy Do It’ Category

On Financial Habits

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Why bother with any financial planning when you don’t have any funds to… plan? While this line of logic isn’t entirely sound, I understand it entirely. It’s easy to see how it becomes reality if someone is stuck in debt quicksand, or has negligible savings or an unsustainable income. Toss in a couple of kids, maybe an illness, or a layoff, and forget it. Exhaustion usually wins out at that point.

It’s a relatable fact of life for many. Education was the “way out” in our house, valued above any other type of investment. Because there was no other option. I listened and put myself through school, graduating with 60k in student loans. Then I moved to Chicago with two suitcases, and $500 dollars to my name. No job lined up, no parental safety net. I shared a lilliputian studio apartment with a friend, sleeping on the floor because there wasn’t a couch to make a bed. At one point around this time, someone gave me Suze Orman’s Money Book for the Young Fabulous and Broke, which I read but didn’t manage to retain a lot of it. The entry-level design job I’d found by that point was paying me $12/hr, so I glossed over the non-applicable sections on 401ks (ha), buying a car (as if) or a house (not a chance). Suze’s mask-like perma-grin and aggressively popped collars didn’t help either.

Later, I did manage to set up 401k at another design agency job that offered a more respectable benefits package. However, it was for precisely 6 months. 2008 happened and it seemed like half the city got laid off, taking me with, and launching me into this life I have now. 6 months wasn’t long enough for the company to match the savings, so the modest sum was dispatched back to me and I had to pay taxes on it as income. Less than a return on investment.

These days though, after 5 years of self-employment as Pitch Design Union, it’s way more complicated than I could have expected. Still, every year gets a little better. Experience is everything, as is a good accountant. I still have debt, but it’s in a manageable place. There’s still so much more I need to be doing though, and I’ve been looking for ways to speed up this process. Lo and behold, the internet in all it’s wide and baffling awesomeness has many answers. (Spoiler alert.) At this point one of the tools that’s helping the most is NPR’s Marketplace Money show. Hearing people call in with questions is great because it makes me think of what my questions are. There’s always something new to think about that never would have occurred to me alone.

When I feel like reading the Billfold is my next step followed by Mr. Money Moustache. The Billfold’s series “How Do Other People Do Money” is great. It’s tag is simply: DOING MONEY which makes me laugh because all-caps blundering is pretty much what it feels like.  Mr.Money definitely seems cheesy at first, but I swallowed that reaction when I saw that this guy was able to save enough money to retire at 30. Yes, he is a lunatic financial magician, but clearly this is a person who knows a thing or two about improving saving habits. Still looking for more, always. The Design Sponge Biz Ladies column might have some ideas, but not in their recent posts nor the first few search results. And since it’s 1 am I’m not about to click through years of archives. I’ve also found a number of resources that have a distinct bro-y vibe, or sound like a used car salesman. It’s hard to trust what they have to say. Have you found anything good lately? Send ‘em my way & I will put them in my newsletter. (If you’re new here, you can sign up here.)

What do I carry?

Photo for Janine Toro’s blog, What Do You Carry, which is a place for creative people to show off the contents of their bags. Such an interesting idea, and a great way to get a solid sense of how a person’s life works. Me for example, I’m kind of a pack mule when it comes to the amount of crap I carry on any given day. Between my desk at home, my desk at my co-working space, client meetings and art projects I’m often shlepping around more than just a laptop. Not to mention I ride my bike nearly every day (yes, winter too, unless the roads are too snowy or icy) (yes, I wear a helmet) so everything has to fit on my back. This photo was shot on January 12th, which was a pretty average day in terms of stuff if I recall correctly. All the gory details are spelled out on What Do You Carry.

Thanks for having me, Janine!

Friday Links

Here’s basically everything I meant to post about this week in one dispatch.

+ Beginners is the sweetest movie I’ve seen in a long time. By artist/designer/director Mike Mills, who’s work I adore, it’s based on his own life. Mostly about the complexities of family love & relationships, the film has a non-linear, collage-like narrative that’s especially memorable.

+ Ellie’s on a Howdy Do It roll this week, with posts on SEO and tips for starting a new business.

+ Bet you’ve never seen a water filter as purty as these ones before!

+ On setting the scene for a productive day.

+ I just discovered Doodle! A handy tool for scheduling events w/ groups of people that will eliminate the email back-and-forth. Free.

I’m working on a contract at an agency for the next week or so, that plus my own clients = 14-hour days so…that’s pretty much ALL I’m doing at the moment. HOWEVER. It is Friday and that is enough said, amiright!? I know it’s lame to talk about how busy one is offline, but at least you know that it’s not for lack of trying! A for effort. And with that, enter, the weekend.

Why We Have Fewer Women Leaders

I’m no stranger to TED talks, but this one is by far the most incredible one I’ve seen. Given by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, it goes hand-in-hand with a similarly incredible piece on her in the New Yorker. It’s the best and most honest view of women’s roles in the home and workplace that I’ve seen so far in our recent gender discussions. Better still, she has ingenious insights on what to do about it all. I feel like I can do anything. Sheryl, girlfriend, you are awesome.

Ladies, my hand is up. Is yours?