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Knowing when to live fully

 

First things first, happy Mother’s Day to all of you mothers out there! I hope to be a mom one day too but this year I am not. Mothers do so much for their children, keep them alive, let them grow, watch out for them, nurture their dreams, and are our biggest fans throughout our entire life. My mother has done so much for me and still is. She gave up a lot for my sister and I, and pushed through many challenges to give us the best life possible.

Of course, ever since I’ve been married I also now have a mother-in-law! She’s the one who brought up my hubs to be the way he is and taught him so much. This morning we went to her house to make her a sushi lunch to celebrate today. My mother lives across the country so I couldn’t do as much but made sure to give her a phone call. Also sent some spa items but they didn’t arrive in time.

The biggest common thing between my mom and mother-in-law? They’re both super super frugal, yet generous when it’s meaningful. They save everything to the point where I wonder if they are borderline hoarders (or hoarders), but it’s these habits that have allowed them to save money to reach their goals. Goals that included giving their children the best life possible. Both of them are retired and have started taking more vacations! Road trips across the country, cruises, and sometimes vacations out of the country on fun tours.

As for me, it’s sometimes hard to be frugal yet take the time to enjoy life. I constantly have to remind myself that it’s not about hoarding money, it’s about hoarding it for goals I want to achieve. All the same, I wouldn’t want to only enjoy life only when I’m retired. I would like to enjoy it now also. With some family medical issues that have happened in the last year, this has become even more important to me.

The fun part is that the older generation (my parents) are more of a frugal mindset where even on vacations they can just eat peanut and butter sandwiches day in and day out. I’m not saying they enjoy it, but they worked so hard all their lives to save money that it’s just second nature to them! As they get older though their views are changing and instead of telling me to save money, they’re starting to tell me to not worry about it so much and enjoy life. They’re the ones who taught me to be frugal and gave me a good base for starting! Now as they let loose in their retirement they’re telling me different things.

Even my infinitely wise self is telling me to listen. That’s sarcasm there.

So now the question is, how do I balance saving for the future with living life now? I’m not going to spend all my money on whatever I want, guess I’ll have to save smartly and use that money when I think it’s worth it:P

What’s your frugal life philosophy?

 

I want to be a millionaire! 5 years later…

 

I stumbled across my very first post from this blog about wanting to become a millionaire. It was five years ago that I did that and it was fun to see how far I’ve come from there. I’ve written one post 2 years after that for a quick update. I wanted to see how I’ve stacked up since then and see how far I’ve come from there!

2013
Retirement accounts-goal to contribute 15%
Investments-goal to start investing with Betterment
Real Estate-saving up for the 20% down payment
Savings-Save tons of money

2015
Retirement accounts-maxed out my contributions for the first time
Investments-opened an account with Betterment and started putting 10% in
Real Estate-bought a house and put extra payments in each month
Savings-save tons of money

Today
Retirement accounts
Maxed out my contributions each year since 2015!

Investments
Continued investing with Betterment, and finally seeing it start growing and piling up! We’re going to pay off our car this next month so I’m thinking we could funnel that extra $416 every month into investments…a conversation to have with the hubs.

Real Estate
Bought a house and put extra payments in each month, we’re knocking down that principal. We’ve also done a lot of renovations to up the value of this house. We’re saving up for our next house downpayment to possibly relocate. We don’t currently want to move yet, but when we do we’ll have that down payment already! Ou house has also steadily risen in value even without taking into consideration our renovations. Just by comps alone our house has added a lot to our net worth.

Savings
Created mini goals for savings including one for a Tesla model 3 and the next downpayment on a new house! The interest rate on online savings accounts is also creeping up slowly. Yeah!

Millionaire status
Not there yet but getting there! All the habits I’ve set 5 years ago are still going strong and the money is starting to add up slowly. I’m always evaluating to see where we can do more and what else we can do to save money. It’s definitely a big give and take in my marriage as we have differing views, but we talk it out and see what works for us. There’s also all the earth-friendly things I’m trying to do to save the earth. Some of them end up costing more, while others save money.

Five years ago my husband and I were in intense, very intense, money saving mode. I learned to cut his hair to save $25 a month, we ate out only once a week (even though we love eating out), and many many other things we did to try to save up money. 2013 was the year we got married, bought a new car, and then bought a house! It was a crazy year where we were very frugal. Since then we’ve relaxed off that unsustainable pace but we’re still keeping our spending down.

We’ve also had some change in the way we think about money. I’ve always tended to be more the saver kind of person and my husband more so to save but enjoy life. With our goals set in place and steadily clicking along, plus some family medical issues we’ve had along the way, we’ve definitely re-evaluated what money means to us. We’ve taken some lavish (lavish to us) vacations and not felt guilty over any of it! Last year we went to Japan and this year to Hawaii and spent a good chunk of cash. This year we might get a Tesla model 3!

No matter what the future is pretty exciting. We’ve set up our finances well for the years to come and it’s moving along! How’s your financial journey coming along?

 

 

Busting through the pay gap in 2018

Will the next generation get equal pay regardless of gender and race?

My day job is being a Senior Art Director in the advertising industry. An industry run mostly by white males and filled with stereotypes, overt bias, and hidden bias, that have made my career not boring to say the least. It’s been a tough 10+ plus years working to bust through to the top and to retain my self of sense. Sadly enough, my industry isn’t the only place where this happens. This happens worldwide! All across America, and even worse across other countries that are still punishing women by death. Trying to achieve my goal of being financially independent and to become a millionaire, is hard enough already, but made even harder by the fact that there is an unequal pay gap between women and men. To add even more hurdles in my way, I am also Chinese. Minority women are even further behind in the unequal pay gap. How is it in 2018 that women get paid less than a man for doing the same job?

The 3% Movement
https://www.3percentmovement.com
Last week I was so fortunate to be able to attend the 3% Minicon held here in Los Angeles. What is it you say? When the 3% Movement started only 3% of the creative directors in the industry were women, with less being minorities. Since then the numbers have risen to 11% but they won’t stop until it’s at 50%! Their mission is to bring inclusion for all genders and all races. I spent an entire day listening to speakers from top positions from well known agencies speak up. There was even a 13 year old girl there who spoke so eloquently about the issues and was extremely passionate! All of us, or a majority of us, definitely were so inspired by the next generation. We’re fighting for us now, but we’re also fighting to make the future brighter for generations after us. The minicon was overrun with women with a sprinkling of men everywhere. I would have liked to see more men there too!

From the company I work at, 8 women attended. I very much would have liked a few men to attend as they also need to know these issues. It’s harder for people to know what the issues are if they are not confronted with it day by day. Doesn’t mean they aren’t part of the solution, but hearing the speakers inspired us all so greatly. Our next steps are to consolidate our learnings and action steps together so that we can share it with the rest of our company. From there we can take our next steps and push the movement forward!

The facts
Women are half the population is this world and we’re hampering our entire world by limiting that growth. Women live longer than men, yet have less in their retirement funds due to unequal pay gaps. Women also tend to invest into their children and community on a higher rate. Women minorities are even more likely to earn less for the same job. Maternity and paternity pay, as well as family leave, aren’t as widespread as it should be in the US, and mostly hampers women as they take time to take care of their families.

Look at the CEO’s of the biggest companies in the country and they are most likely men. Look at our government, how many white males are there vs women?

My dreams vs my reality
It would be great to be evaluated based on what I can do and what I know. Regardless of my gender or skin color. That everyone start on equal ground.

My reality is that I am judged every single day by how I look. I am a petite Chinese woman who looks young for my age. On first sight people assume I am much much younger than I am and don’t realize my age until they talk to me. The smarter people take that time to know me before making a judgement. The not so smart people judge instantly and think that I am in a lower position and don’t know much. I remember these people.

Not just diversity, inclusion
No more tokens! No more including one of each type of person for diversity purposes. It’s not a checkbox that you have one female in the group, one black person, one asian person, and one male. Not only do we need to have all types of gender and races together, but we all need to give them the power to have an equal voice. In my industry it’ll make our work more powerful to have all voices together than just from one view. Our world could use that same power.

 

So what can we do about it? Not just for people in my industry but everywhere.

Become a mentor
I am forever grateful to the women and men who have stepped up throughout my life and career to take the time to help me. These people weren’t officially labeled my mentors, but they took my under their wing for a short time to teach me. They took time out of their day to help someone along. They’ve taught me so much and gave me a great example to follow. It takes time to be a good mentor (notice I included good) but it’s well worth it. Not only do you help someone grow, you yourself as a person grows too and gain a new perspective.

Stand up for what’s right
If you see something happening that is wrong, correct it. No matter who you are. Doing nothing is also a choice you make. It is allowing the status quo to keep on as is.

Challenge your inner bias 
Everyone has bias already. I know I do and I’m constantly trying to adjust to stamp it out as much as possible.

Know your worth – negotiate your pay
There are plenty of sites that post salaries. Look it up and see what your worth and ask for it and more! This goes for everyone.

Equal pay studies
See if your company has an equal pay study or a pledge for one. Some companies have already done those studies and have implemented policies to change unequal pay. Others may have done it but not published it.

Paid maternity, paternity and family leave
Push for maternity, paternity and family leave. My company doesn’t currently have policies in place but I’ve been pushing for it and will continue to do so. My husband has 3 weeks paternity leave. Which is great since men also need leave for their children.

Let our voices be heard
Don’t interrupt women when speaking. Studies have shown that women are more interrupted than men when in a group setting. Our voices are literally being spoken over! If you see it happening, say something. Don’t do it, and bring the issue to light. Most people most likely aren’t doing it on purpose. Also support the person interrupted by bringing the conversation back round to them. Allow their voice to be heard.

It’ll take everyone to step up, women, men, everyone, to change things
Yes everyone, absolutely everyone, will need to step up in order for things to change. Women, men, the people in power, the people not in power banding together to create one large voice, it will take everyone to change. This is everyone’s problem. Everyone has a mother, a friend, an acquaintance that is a woman. Possibly a daughter, a niece, cousins who are women. Even if you think it doesn’t affect you yourself, it’s affecting someone close to you.

 

This is obviously something very close to me as I just wrote a long article about this. I could’ve written even more! I’m doing my best to fix this in my industry and in the world. Let’s do it together!

Happy Earth Day 2018!

Another year, another earth day! There are most likely holidays for every single day of the year, many made up and pretty much unknown of, but earth day is a good one for me to remember. It reminds me to consider what I’m doing in life to be more earth friendly and if there is more I could be doing. Here’s 3 things I’m evaluating now that I can start doing!

 

1 – Get my electricity from renewable sources

A like-minded coworker told me about Arcadia Power, a company that let’s you use renewable power without high costs. Two months ago I signed up for their basic plan that gives me 50% of my electricity from wind. I’m still getting my power directly from my local utility provider, but Arcadia is able to buy certificates for wind power putting it into the power grid.

Now I just upgraded to getting 100% of my power through wind! With the basic plan I didn’t see any increase in my bills, with 100% I’m supposed to see a small increase of a few dollars. More to come later on how it goes!

My referral link is below for anyone who wants to sign up. Might as well get the referral bonuses for me and you!

Arcadia Power referral link

 

2 – Walk instead of drive

I was pleasantly surprised to find a number of places within walking distance from my home. I have two grocery stores I walk to regularly already, but when it comes to eating out I generally hop into the car. Yesterday night I walked to get some conveyer belt sushi. A bit nippy at night but I made sure to pack a windbreaker so I was fine. Today for lunch I’ll also do the same. If walking isn’t an option then choosing a location where you can get to as many places as possible (say a large plaza with everything you need) is another great option. Just park somewhere and walk to where you need to go!

 

3 – The straw issue

Oof, this just happened last night where I asked for water but forgot to ask for it without a straw. I’m trying to not use straws at all but it’s so easy to forget to ask for no straw! It’s used so regularly almost everywhere we go! Some places have switched to no straws at all or paper straws. The paper straws get pummeled pretty easily though and turn into mush pretty quickly. I just need to remember when asking for water. No straw please!

 

How are you spending your earth day? What’s your latest earth friendly trick?

Inspirational Spotlight – Ryan’s Recycling Company

Photo from Ryan's Recycling Company
Photo from Ryan’s Recycling Company

 

Every now and then I run across people/businesses/stories that are just so inspiration it helps keep me going and makes me want to share it with everyone! Well, what better place than a blog right? I’ve shared other businesses before but this post will be all about one little seven year old boy’s recycling business!

Starting at the very old ripe age of 3.5 years Ryan began recycling cans and bottles. I can definitely imagine a little boy having tons of fun putting in the cans and bottles into the recycling machine and getting some mule for his efforts. Fast forward 3.5 years later and Ryan has started his own company and has even been on the Ellen show! His company has also been featured in several publications and to date he’s made over $10,000 recycling cans and bottles alone!!! What an incredible story. Ryan’s goal is to buy a garbage truck for his business but his parentals are thinking it’s more for a college fund.

He’s already accomplished so much by the age of 7!

If you live in Orange County, California you can schedule Ryan to pick your cans and bottles! Either way check out his website below.
Ryan’s Recycling Company

Another thing you can do to help out is to buy a Ryan’s Recycling t-shirt with proceeds going towards the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach, California.
Ryan’s Recycling T-shirt for women
Ryan’s Recycling T-shirt for guys

It’s pretty rare to hear about someone so young doing something so big! If a seven year old can do this to make the world better, what’s stopping us?