Sometimes, when I’m hard on myself for not doing ‘more’ as stepmom, I remember that even as a pretty B+ stepmom I do more (and I’m held to a much higher standard) than many full time, bio dads: What ‘Good’ Dads Get Away With.
I talked about the link between money, happiness, habits, and education on the What I’m Unlearning podcast! Listen here.
DISCUSS: After men in Spain got paternity leave, they wanted fewer kids Farré and González think that spending more time with their children—or the prospect of having to do so—may have made men more acutely aware of the effort and costs associated with childrearing, and, as the researchers put it, “shifted their preferences from child quantity to quality.”
I loved this: Rob Walker’s Exercises for Noticing New Things Eat Somewhere Dubious. Have one meal at a restaurant that you didn’t find on Yelp or through any sort of recommendation and that doesn’t even look trendy or hip. First you’ll have fun keeping an eye out for it: “Is THAT our dubious restaurant?” Second, even if you have a mediocre meal, you’ll have an unpredictable experience! And this, by the way, is how the best food writers make discoveries and find the places that later get hot on Yelp. So maybe you’ll get lucky.
How was your week, friends? I lunched and coffee-d with friends, fussed with the yard (it is never-ending!!! will the grass grow this year?!) and devotedly wished that the weather would clear up.
I finished everything I need to work through Bank Boost with our new round of students. Class starts on Monday and – not to toot my own horn – but it’s an AWESOME program. People add hundreds and thousands of dollars to their bank accounts, strengthen their self-advocacy muscles, change their relationship with money, NBD. All to the tune of $57. Click here to join us!
Links for you:
It’s been a pretty tough week for current events. Reminder: 5calls.org has call scripts and phone numbers that make contacting your reps super easy.
Ahhhh! A must-read for anyone who’s been dumped and is trying to convince someone to take them back. (We’ve all been there, right?)
You could be absolutely perfect, you could become all the things your former partner specifically said would be exactly right for him, you could find the golden ratio of speaking up and staying silent about all the right things in exactly the right order, you could even send me a list of all your best private jokes and relationship touchstones and I could write you a dazzling, personalized speech that strikes a breathtaking balance between “maintaining a quiet dignity” and “being vulnerable and real…” …and he could still go, or rather, keep going, in the same direction he already went, i.e. already gone.
Somewhat related: The best $5,929.10 I ever spent: moving back to the Midwest On the subject of apartments: I’m paying $650 a month for a gorgeous studio with a view of the Cedar River and in-unit laundry. I’m the first tenant to occupy this apartment (and the first tenant to use its brand new appliances). Considering that my first Seattle apartment was a converted hotel room with no kitchen and a landlord who advised me to wash my dishes in a bus tub and dump the dishwater into the toilet — WHICH I DID, EVERY DAY — living in this apartment feels like living in another world.
Also: if you’re a stepmom, this is must-read I wish someone had told me about four years ago.
Why is this so cute?! Japanese Ambassador To Sweden Sees Pikachu As His Son “The first time I saw Pikachu, I felt that he was my son,” the tweet from yesterday reads. “When Pokémon Go came out in 2016, Pikachu and the other millions of figures got new friends around the world. Now I will gladly see the Detective Pikachu movie.”
Want to redefine your relationship with money? What luck! That’s exactly what I talked about on this podcast!
Sometime I feel like I’m the only person on the internet who’s not trying to create a multi-million dollar empire that sells self-paced business ecourses and has a team of 15 people. It’s just me and Paul Jarvis. I’m free from financial worry, as it doesn’t take much revenue to be profitable and expenses are quite low. I’m free from the stresses of always being busy or having to hustle constantly, because I know what enough is and don’t have to push myself beyond it. I’m free from the weight of typical “business growth” responsibility—I don’t have to manage others, I don’t have to answer to a board of directors or investors, and I don’t have to be on the hook for high office rent.
When I was 18, I packed my bags and moved to Germany for a month, fueled by visions of soft pretzels and hard cheeses.
I was taking part in an exchange program and – like all 18-year-olds – I already knew everything. Before I even boarded that Lufthansa flight, I knew what I’d learn from my time in Germany.
I was sure my trip would teach me:
How to speak German more fluently
How to pack light
Maybe how to finally understand soccer???
And did it? Yes, that trip improved my German and introduced me to one-suitcase travel. But more importantly, it taught me how to enjoy my own company and feel at home (almost) anywhere. I learned how to make friends across language and cultural barriers. I figured out how to take up space without apologizing.
All helpful, important things to learn! But since I was 18, I didn’t necessarily make the connection. I didn’t realize what I’d learned from my experience. I felt smug when I tested out of the second language requirement at college and that was about it.
Cut to ten years later and I’m heading to Wellington, New Zealand to get my M.A. in Applied Linguistics. And just like last time, I’m pretty sure I know how this is going to shake out.
What I expected to learn in graduate school:
Neural Plasticity and how it affects our learning
Plosives and fricatives
And yes, sure, I learned those things. I also learned how to share space with multiple roommates, how to manage my time so I didn’t have to pull all-nighters, how to navigate the New Zealand healthcare system, and that I’m not really suited to graduate-level courses that are taught exclusively online.
It only took me ten years and multiple epiphanies to realize that learning is multi-faceted and multi-layered. It only took me a decade to realize that
We think getting a dog will help us get outside more, not knowing that we’re going to learn about loyalty, responsibility, and why consistency really, really matters.
We think decluttering is about bringing things to Goodwill. But anyone who’s watched Tidying Up can tell you that releasing things that no longer fit our lives is a lesson in grace, intentionality, and self-awareness.
I see this a lot in my Bank Boost program. In Bank Boost we talk about a lot of nitty gritty money things: why you should pay for things with cash, how to rescue money that’s in places it shouldn’t be, how to use x tool to earn y amount of money.
But we also talk about making sure that your money is bringing you joy, that you’re squeezing every ounce of happiness out the money you spend. We talk about being willing to get uncomfortable – whether that looks like asking for a raise or telling your friend you need her to repay that money she borrowed.
When we do this – talk about happiness and discomfort and self-advocacy – something surprising happens. Yes, Bank Boosters add hundreds or thousands of dollars to their bank accounts.
Just as importantly they start getting braver in other areas of their lives. They have really tough conversations they’ve been putting off. They send a third follow up email. They stand up to the shitty landlord.
They take their awful ex to court. Here, shared anonymously and with permission, is one woman’s story:
“I took your advice on the “uncomfortable” strategy but probably not in the way you meant. I spent 33 years in an abusive relationship and I finally got my divorce in April.
My ex was supposed to be paying me support during the divorce and he owes me alimony now. But I was afraid and I let him get away without paying me. But you taught me that I deserve it so I took him to court!
The judge ordered him to pay me everything he owes me plus my legal fees. I ended up getting over $6000 and I was able to pay off all my credit cards.
(He also had to pay my lawyer over $10K in legal fee so I don’t have that hanging over my head anymore.) For me, this was HUGE.
Having the guts to stand up to him and demand my rights was something I never thought I would do. Thank you for giving me the courage to do that. Thank you so, so much!
Now I can start planning for MY future. I want to someday buy a house all by myself and now that it possible.”
What would happen if we opened ourselves up to learning what life was trying to teach us? How would our lives change if we made space for unintended lessons?
Another song with millions of views that I heard for the first time this week
How was your week, friends? I spent most of mine getting ready for the next round of Bank Boost (enrollment opens tomorrow!) Kenny spoke at UW Platteville on Thursday so we turned it into a long weekend away with cheese curds and House On The Rock.
I was also able to live out my extremely specific fantasy of living (read:renting an Airbnb) over a coffee shop in a cute, historical apartment that overlooks the main street of a quaint small town. This is where we stayed and here’s a $40 credit towards your first booking if you’ve never used Airbnb before!
You’ve probably heard me rail against premium pricing and traditional marketing methods before. I was pumped to take part in the Unconventional Marketing Summit!
What to say (and what NOT to say) to someone with a broken heart. “What’s something that would make your life just a tiny bit easier right now? Could I bring over some food? Wash your sheets and make your bed? Fill up your car with gas? Something else? I know you’ve got so much weighing on you right now, so I’d love to do something to make your day a little easier and calmer.”
Did you know you can follow hashtags on Instagram? I’m really enjoying the #hauteeclectic hashtag. It’s a nice break from white, minimalist, farm house decor 😉
If you live in MSP and are looking to add a dog to your family, make sure you follow my friend Leslie’s Adopt A Stray May! She’s a professional pet photographer so her photos are gorgeous and the dogs she features are amazing!
An old essay from David Sedaris that a) still makes me laugh b) is incredibly relatable Now I’m up to sixty thousand, which is twenty-five and a half miles. Walking that distance at the age of fifty-seven, with completely flat feet while lugging a heavy bag of garbage, takes close to nine hours—a big block of time, but hardly wasted. I listen to audiobooks, and podcasts. I talk to people. I learn things: the fact, for example, that, in the days of yore, peppercorns were sold individually and, because they were so valuable, to guard against theft the people who packed them had to have their pockets sewed shut.
This song has 12 million views but I only discovered it last week. Doesn’t it have a Dolly Parton vibe?
How was your week, friends? The weather was gooooorgeous here in Minneapolis and I spent it fussing with the yard, re-painting, and cleaning a million things – activities that I have INCREDIBLY soothing. ‘Improve something visually’ is literally an item on my Happy List! We also celebrated my oldest stepson’s 16th birthday, saw friends, and generally rejoiced that the snow is (hopefully!) finally gone.
I was on the podcast ‘That’s What She Said‘ talking about money and how “tapping on your temples and repeating mantras about manifesting abundance won’t help you stop buying throw pillows at Target.” 🙊 Click here to listen – and if you have a podcast, I’d love to be on it! Drop me a line at email@example.com and let’s get something scheduled!
Ten years after everyone else, I am reading this book and it is GREAT. A must-read if you, like me, care about climate change, food waste, or farmers.
Related: This week, our private Money & Happy Facebook group talked about moving in with partners just to save money, down-sizing, switching careers, and travel purses! Come join us – it’s free.
Somewhat related and I’m interested to hear what you think: what if individual choices aren’t responsible for climate change? A recent report found that just 100 companies are responsible for 71% of global emissions since 1988. Incredibly, a mere 25 corporations and state-owned entities were responsible for more than half of global industrial emissions in that same period.
I Wanted to Fall in Love With Men. I Also Wanted Men to Leave Me the Hell Alone Dating men, studying men, sleeping with men—it felt like lancing the blister. A mixture of pain and release. There was the polyamorous poet. The writer who told me I was overrated and insisted I listen to his vinyl collection. The very nice lawyer. The former white nationalist turned librarian whom I ghosted with no shame. The man who, when he saw a professional accomplishment of mine, told me it wasn’t as impressive as his dick. The politician who told me to tell people he had a big dick. (It was average.) The woke professor who talked a lot about feminism but refused to put on a condom and scared me when he grabbed my neck and kissed me, leaving bruises. There was the wedding hookup. The married novelist. The date I walked out on 10 minutes in, after he told me if I wanted to be with him, I would need to be a better cook. The sports editor who pulled out his phone and read Seinfeld plot summaries to me. I walked out on him too.
When I was 32, I celebrated one of the biggest accomplishments of my life with a plate of nachos, a vodka gimlet, and gathering of friends at my favorite neighborhood bar.
Over a plate of melted cheese, we cheers-ed my upcoming 11-month, nine-country trip. As the night wore on and more cocktails were consumed, one of my friends leaned across the table and said “Okay, I’m just gonna say what we’re all thinking. How are you paying for this?”
I laughed because of course Midwesterners have to get lightly drunk to talk about money.
After I was done laughing I spilled the beans. I told them how I managed to live sans-roommate in a nice neighborhood, pay my $375-a-month school loan, wear these cute leather riding boots, and save enough to finance this huge trip … on $34,000 a year non-profit salary.
Want to know how I did it?
(leans in close and stage whispers)
I lived within my means.
Well, that’s wildly unsexy, isn’t it? Whenever I share this not-particularly-exciting information, I can see people become a) skeptical b) disappointed. It’d be a lot more exciting if I shared a salacious investment tip or confessed that I had a trust fund or that I was just putting it all on a credit card and hoping for the best.
But that’s not what happened. I got to take my dream trip because I did things like:
Bring my lunch to work
Buy pretty much everything, ever secondhand
Host potluck dinner parties rather than eating out
Stay with friends when I traveled – or camped!
Split wifi with a neighbor
Go to matinee movies, used my library card, had picnics in the park, etc etc etc
When we talk about going after what we want, we usually talk about things like talent, luck, networking, and a tenacious work ethic. All those are important! And they will certainly help you get you closer to what you want – whatever that is.
But I’d like to posit that one of the most underrated skills necessary to chase your dreams is learning to live within your means.
What now? What does budgeting have to do with becoming an artist or a stay at home parent or opening a sanctuary for stray dogs or taking a round-the-world trip?
Now, I’m not saying we should stop making every non-essential purchase, ever. Of course not! I spend thousands of dollars every year on travel, pedicures, supper club dinners, and outfits for my dog. Dog outfit are not essential!
But it’s worth remembering that we pay for our choices with the lives that we lead and all those non-essential purchases? They lead to less money in our bank accounts > longer hours at work > less time, money, and energy for the stuff we’re really excited about.
What if you dialed in those non-essential purchases by just 10%? Totally doable, right? I bet it’d be pretty painless to wear the same outfit to multiple weddings or bring lunch to work once a week. It’s not hard to make a frozen pizza rather than having one delivered.
Reducing non-essential purchases by even just 10% could free up 36 hour this year. Imagine what you could do with that! You could practice your stand up set, launch your Etsy shop, work on your novel, or train for a marathon.
And buying less shit you don’t need might also mean you can drop the side hustle, the overtime, or the second job. Which means – I bet you can see where I’m going with this – you’d have more time and energy to pursue things that light you up.
Not everyone has the time to wander the aisles of Goodwill, digging through racks of cheap secondhand clothing. Some people live in food deserts and they can’t do a huge shopping trip and then meal prep + freeze seventeen healthy, affordable meals that break down to $3 per person, per meal.
However, many of us – I’d hazard a guess most of us – could make one or two different financial decisions that would free up hundreds or thousands of dollars a year. Which would free up the time and energy we put into earning that money. And we could put that time and energy into something we’re really excited about.
If you’re really honest with yourself, where you could you rein in spending to free up money, time, and energy to spend on things you’re excited about? Tell us in the comments to create public accountability!
P.S. If you want help reducing those non-essential purchases in a way that doesn’t feel like deprivation, my incredibly popular program Bank Boost opens for enrollment on May 6th. Last time I ran it, it sold out in four days so you might want to jump on the waitlist!