Retirement Guide for Recent Graduates

I don't know about you, but retirement is something I think about multiple times a day. Don't get me wrong, after 7 weeks of funemployment, I was more than ready to sit down at a desk and use my brain again. Serving a purpose in the workforce is something I enjoy…just not something I want to do forever. As the daughter of a banker, retirement was one of the many financial topics gleefully (and sometimes aggressively) discussed over family dinners.

As a recent post-grad, retirement may not be top of your list.  You probably dismiss it: it's not important yet, right?  I mean, you're still in your 20's! Wrong. Even saving a few thousand dollars each year could benefit you light years. If you invest wisely, your money grows…but you knew that, right? No one really gives a shit so here's a graph to prove how right I am.

 

There's three main accounts available to save for retirement, two that make the most sense for the 22-30 age group. You can choose one or the other or all.  Each are a bit different and have their pros and cons. There's a 401k and a Roth IRA. A Traditional IRA is also an option, but I see more benefits with a Roth. If you can afford to max out your 401k, open up an IRA…or start looking for a trophy wife.

401k
 

What it is: an employer-sponsored plan that you contribute a portion of your pre-tax income to.  This money is then invested and saved for you. If your employer offers any type of company match, you should absolutely have a 401k. Let's assume they do… Every company I've worked for has offered up a percentage of what I put in up to a certain maximum dollar amount. So, your company offers a 20% match up to $20,000. If you put in $200 each month, they'll put in $40. That's free money. The contribution your employer makes does not normally count towards your max. The 2016 max is $18,000 if you're under 50.

How it's taxed: Your contribution comes out of your gross salary, not net. So your money has not been taxed when it goes into this account, meaning you'll have to pay taxes as you withdraw once you reach retirement age. You'll need to remember this when you're looking at the balance of your account, it's reflected before it's taxed. You do not get any sort of tax credit/deduction when you file your annual taxes for contributing.

How it works: I had to phone a friend on this one…thanks, mom. My HR guy handed me a 40-page document that was basically in Chinese. Zita idiot proofed it for me. Basically, they gave me the option of 10 different funds and I chose one based one my age/my year of retirement. There was also a custom portfolio option and an option to split my contribution into different trades. I decided to take the easiest route and just throw my money into the most aggressive fund and be done with it. I suggest if you want to get more complicated, contact an advisor i.e. someone who has time to give a shit.

Roth IRA


What it is: An individual retirement account that has already been taxed. This is a better option for people who are years and years away from retirement because it assumes your tax bracket is smaller now than it will be in the future. Unlike a 401k, you can early withdraw from your Roth without penalty if you are buying your first home or paying for college.

How it's taxed: When I have leftover money each month, I wire it to my Roth. Since its already been taxed, your balance accurately reflects the amount you can eventually take out of the account. My favorite part of a Roth is the deduction you can claim on your annual taxes. Again, all about the free money. You can contribute up to $5,500 annually, your deduction is calculated based on your contribution.

How it works: TD Ameritrade is my Roth administrator, Fidelity is another reputable company. This account will be free to open and most companies have an app. You can either make the trades yourself, which is the most fun but you should also research and use caution. This isn't monopoly money and it's definitely not a casino. As your Roth grows, it might be a good idea to speak with/hire an advisor about how you're managing your money.

With the end of the fiscal year quickly approaching, I urge you to open a free Roth IRA account with your IRA administrator of choice and deposit all your Christmas money. You don't need another pair of new boots, your 65-year-old self with thank you. Ask your parents to help you research a few stable stocks to trade or target funds to invest in, or let me know if you need to borrow mine? Merry Christmas, happy trading, and even happier retirement!

3 Tactics to Land a Job in Another State

Applying for jobs is a full time job in itself. Companies get hundreds of resumes for each position and you're somehow supposed to make your cookie-cutter resume stick out. You most likely have the degree required, a somewhat related internship or three, and 90% of the required skill set...but so do all the other applicants. You can attempt to portray your probably average skill set in a cover letter, but do they even read those? Think this is enough of a headache, try throwing in an out-of-state address and try not instantly getting the reject email. 

In a previous post, I talked about how absolutely impossible it is to apply for jobs in a state that you do not currently reside in. Most companies wouldn't dream of flying you out for an interview, it's too expensive and they have a handful of identical applicants within a reasonable distance. Maybe you can talk them into a Skype interview, but even then you'll have to be brought on site for HR purposes before signing an offer letter. Sound like enough of a nightmare? Trust me, I know. 

You have two options. You can save a shit ton of money like I did and just move to where you want to be. I found this to be the smallest headache possible and am always up for funemployment. The other option is to apply like crazy and hope that someone is willing to take a chance on you. From my experience, when you send an out of state application, it goes straight into the reject pile. The three tactics below gave my somewhat average resume an actual shot at employment. 

1. Employee Referral

Most companies have some sort of referral bonus for current employees if they recommend a candidate and they get hired on. In other words, free money. Look through your Linked In connections, ask that girl you sat next to in stats, message that boy who just updated his occupation on Facebook. Most people don't mind to send your resume straight to their HR department if it means a few hundred extra for them. 

This should seem like a no-brainer, but definitely ask the person before you use them as reference. I once had a guy use my name without me knowing. When HR emailed to ask about my past work experience with him, I couldn't lie. It ended with him not being hired due to my knowledge of him being a less than stellar employee when we previously interned together. You wouldn't want your name and reputation attached to someone who will make you look bad in the workplace. 

Also, some companies have policies that the candidate's resume must come first from the current employee. This proves that you actually know the employee and have a relationship rather than just slapping their name on your application in hopes of sticking out. As greedy as it sounds, an employee is more likely to help you if the referral bonus is still in play. 

2. Staffing Agencies

I'm not sure why I never learned about this amazing concept in college? After I quit my job, I updated my address on Monster. Having a degree and a little bit of experience, I expected a few calls. No. I got anywhere from 10-20 per day for a week or two. Some were just random positions and didn't deserve a call back. But the staffing agencies...always call them back. 

Basically these people are paid by your future employer to get you hired. You send them your most updated resume and they will send you job descriptions that they think fit your skill set best. You give them the okay and they go do some sort of black magic and apply, set up interviews, and prep you. You don't do the cover letter, altering the resume to the job description, or awkward back and forth with in house recruiters. You just sit back and let the agency do all the leg work. The best part? The agency gets a percentage of your first years' annual salary from the company. This means they want to negotiate your salary as high as they can so they can get a bigger cut. You don't pay the percentage, your future employer does. I'm still convinced that these people are straight from heaven and deserve the world. 

3. Use Your Network

You know how I found a place to live in Denver? My ex boyfriends', best friends', ex girlfriends', friend had a room opening up. People are willing to help you get where you want to be, you just have to be brave enough to ask. Your uncle may have an old roommate who works in your desired field and can pass your resume along. Your old boss may have a connection that she wouldn't mind you using. You build a network for a reason, don't be afraid to use them!

Keep your head up and don't get discouraged. If you're determined, you'll find a way to make it happen. I pinky promise there's a light at the end of a tunnel, especially with staffing agencies, your network, and your already employed friends. 

Your Instant Gratification is Bullshit

Saving money is not fun. There's nothing attractive about turning down plans and pinching pennies. Trust me, I would love to spend my entire paycheck on traveling, middle shelf merlots, and whatever weird shit you're buying because you're 23 and you can.

At age 12, you downloaded songs (and hella viruses) off LimeWire and on to your parents’ expensive Stone Age computer. You had to wait 36 hours for 2 songs, but that didn't stop you.

In high school, you handed in a hard copy of your essay or whatever busy work paper your teacher made you write. You waited until she had time to grade it properly and handed it back to learn that you failed it.

When you started college, you had to drink your shitty vodka and actually go to a party to hit on girls before bringing them back to check out the new fish tank in your dorm room. You couldn't just swipe your way into a hookup.

Delayed gratification.

If you wanted something, you used to have to actually put effort in. So, what happened?

Now we swipe away on Tinder in the hopes that a 10 will just fall into our laps (read: beds). We stream literally everything. We even get fussy when the drive thru line takes more than a few minutes. Do you realize how sad that sounds? Millennials are notorious for wanting everything at our fucking fingertips. We don't want to work for it and we definitely don't want to wait for it.

I’ll give us some credit, this is not always bad. We’re more accustomed to a fast-paced work environment, making us more productive than our more seasoned co-workers. We’re entrepreneurial AF, we don’t like taking “no” as an answer, and we go after what we want. Recipe for success, right? Eh, sometimes.

I’ll be the first to tell you that I absolutely hate hearing the word “no”. I like doing what I want, when I want to do it. Of course I have my moments where I literally cannot even and have to make a purchase. Its fine, in moderation.

Everyone has that one friend who seems to always be doing something. The friend that always has tickets to concerts and festivals, never wears the same outfit twice, and never misses a night out at the bar. So, how? This all looks peachy from the outside. Their Instagram game is flawless, but what does their bank account look like?

They are a victim of instant gratification. They see something and instead of thinking it through and saving up, they just buy a ticket or the new shoes or whatever. This will be the same friend who will be balls deep in credit card debt  5 years down the road. They don’t have the ability to step back and ask if they really need to be swiping their card for a burrito bowl or yet another vodka soda.

You can’t have it allBalance and moderation are key. I’m not advising you to save every single penny you earn and I’m definitely not advising you to spend it.

I’m asking you to take a step back and think about your financial situation before you blindly swipe your card. You may have the money in your account now. But what if an emergency comes up? What if something better comes along? Will you be able to pay for those as well?

Every purchase you make is your own adult choice. If you want to go to that festival next summer, give up your $3 cup of Starbucks coffee every morning for 3 months. Cut down on your lunches out so you can take a real vacation. Maybe you don’t need 5 different colors of the same shoe, put it towards your student loan instead.

Give delayed gratification a try. Remember, good things come to those who wait.

8 Things you Should be Budgeting For

No matter how much you don't want to pay for that $100 toaster your sister has on her wedding registry or your cats' $300 vet bill, some expenses are unavoidable. Its part of adulthood. Trust me, I'd rather take a nap with my blankie and have my mom make me dinner too. As an adult, it's easier to plan and budget for these bills and unforeseen events rather than sacrifice your fun money. I promise, you'll face much less emotional and financial trauma if you account for these expenses rather than let them sneak up and steal your wallet out of your back pocket. 

1. Car Repair

Eventually you're going to need new tires, and brake pads, and then a transmission. Trust me, no one likes dipping into their savings account for an oil change. Put aside $20 a month so when your mechanic tells you it's finally time for a pricey repair you won't cringe and shed a tear reaching for your wallet. 

2. Weddings

We're at the age where more and more of our friends send us an invite for an open bar and expect a gift in return. Trust me, when it's your turn, you'll want the Ninja blender or an envelope full of cash. You'll feel a lot better about forking over $75 for a new set of silverware you'll never use if you've included it in your budget. 

Bonus tip: RSVP for the prime rib and make good use of the open bar, you deserve it.  

3. Pets

Take one look into your dog’s eyes and tell me that he wouldn't save for your unforeseen medical expenses if he could. Don't be a monster, save up for shots, vet visits, and future unexpected occurrences. Adopting a pet into your life is a large expense but has an even better payoff. Make sure you know the financial obligation before you take your girlfriend into the humane society and she falls in love with a furbaby that you cannot afford.

4. Donations

Don't be that asshole that refuses to sponsor a kid at Christmas or throw $10 into the food bank collection box just because you didn't budget for it. Keep your change in a jar and hit up a Coin star when it comes time to donate. This way you're saving without feeling like you're sacrificing anything. You'll feel like a hero when you're able to give $20 worth of pocket change this year instead of your usual lint covered nickel.

5. Grooming

You need to get haircuts. I know they're expensive. I know it sucks paying $30 for a lady to talk your ear off for 20 minutes while your hair gets 1/8th of a centimeter shorter. No one is going to take you seriously with your split ends hanging in your face. Save up for these. Just go.

6. Birthday Gifts

Eventually you’re going to forget someone’s birthday and scramble to find an acceptable gift. As selfish as it sounds, you don't want to pull from your vacation fund or beer money to buy a gift you won’t ever be able to use.  

7. Insurance

Every six months, my car insurance automatically withdrawals from my checking account. Most companies will offer you a hefty discount to pay a lump sum such as an annual or semiannual rather than a monthly fee.  For example, Progressive offers this discount anywhere from $75-$120 every six months. Just for paying six months at a time? Yes. Save up. Do this. It'll save you thousands over the years.  

8. Technology

That laptop you bought before your freshman year of college? It’s probably pretty close to its last good years. Instead of treating yourself to that new shirt or buying that last drink at the bar, save that money and put it towards a new computer. You won't feel as guilty spending $1500 on that new MacBook if you've been planning and saving up for it. 

Long story short, if you save up for these events in advance, you won't be surprised and scrambling when they occur. It will be much easier on your wallet and your personal funds if you set a little aside each month to prepare.

Invest in Yourself

I was scrolling through my Instagram feed this weekend and came across a photo of thirteen women holding their passports in a circle. The caption was something along the lines of "One Month. No hair and nail appointments. No frivolous spending. Why? Instead, invest in a passport. See the world." It was a stock photo posted by one of those annoying robot accounts with no original content. Normally I would just scroll through, but this one caught my eye.

"Invest in a passport."

These women realized that you really can't have it all, but you can set a goal for yourself and do everything you can to reach it. They saw traveling as a goal and in turn, an investment. They chose to make sacrifices to save up for a small paper book that could literally give them the world. I promise, when you are at the top of the Eifel Tower with a flute of champagne looking out over all of Paris, you won't care that you missed a few nail appointments. You won't be thinking twice about how your highlights need to be touched up as you sip Chianti in a Tuscan vineyard. And I guarantee you couldn't care less about all the fast food you gave up as you sit in a thermal bath in Budapest.

You can keep scrolling through your Instagram feed and be jealous of Megan with the brand new goldendoodle that just graduated freshman K-9 classes. Or Tyler who is spending the next six months backpacking across Europe. Or even Ashley who just paid for a brand new Jeep Wrangler in cash. But can you really be that jealous or feel that sorry for yourself if you aren't actively trying to set and reach your own goals?

Whether it be a passport, a new car, or that designer puppy you've been eyeing, choose to invest in something you love. Set a goal for yourself and make small steps to ensure you reach it. Don't view your saving as sacrificing going out to lunch everyday or letting your hair and nails suffer. View it as investing in yourself.

14 Ways to Boost your Income Using the Sharing Economy

Sometimes the bi-weekly paycheck from your 9-5 just isn't enough. Trust me; we could all use a little extra spending money these days. I've compiled a list of apps and websites that make it simple and easy to earn extra income while barely lifting a finger.

1. AirBnB

If you're not using AirBnB to travel, check it out. It's a much cheaper alternative to a hotel and much cleaner and cozier than a motel. Individuals put a spare bedroom, apartment, house, or even a couch on the site and open their calendar for bookings.

If you have hotels in your area, there is a market for Airbnb. Think about putting your couch up for rent or even your room if you're going out of town. You might have a low upfront cost such as sheets or nicer guest towels, but let's be honest; you could probably use those anyway.

2. Bookscouter

If you’re anything like me, your bookcase is your trophy case. But maybe you don’t need 40 old novels and self-help books collecting dust. Someone will definite enjoy your hand me down 50 Shades book just as much as you did. Scan the barcodes into this app and wait for an offer. Once someone places a bid, fill in your payment info and ship.

3. Foap

Remember last week at brunch when you took that oh-so-candid shot of your BFF blurred behind an order of eggs benny with the perfectly positioned carafe of mimos? Or that perfectly casual shot of your perfectly painted toes hanging out of a hammock watching the sunset? Upload them to this site and people will pay you for the rights to your photos. You've been instagramming for years. Put all those likes and filters to good use and make a little extra money.

4. Getaround

Have you ever tried to rent a car? It’s expensive, a hassle, and the attendant gets annoyed if you don’t purchase the extra insurance. No one wants to pay $100+ a day. Put your car up for rent while you’re on vacation or taking a long weekend by using this app. They take care of all the payment processing and insurance.

5. HomeDine

Speaking from experience, cooking for one is extremely difficult. I always have way too many leftovers and end up eating the same thing for a week. Put your leftover meals on here for people to enjoy a home cooked meal while either traveling or just having a busy day. This is a perfect alternative for throwing away food that goes bad or you get tired of. Make it a goal to fund your grocery list solely from profits if you live in a bigger city.

6. Ibotta

Take your receipts from your grocery shopping each week and scan them in. Certain items are featured each week and will earn you anywhere from a few cents to a dollar. I won’t lie, this gets a little tedious. Ibotta offers great gift cards that make it worth it. Spending $25 at Target or Starbucks feels less guilty if it’s technically free money.  

7. Just Park

If you live in a city where you own or rent a parking space, put it up for rent when you aren’t using it by using this app. Time increments are as low as a half hour, so you can utilize the extra income even when you’re our running errands for a few hours. This is an absolutely effortless way to pad your paycheck.  

8. Poshmark

Everyone knows a girl who never wears the same thing twice. How does she afford always having new clothes? What does she do with them afterwards? Use Poshmark to sell your gently used clothing items. Post grads are constantly looking for a way to make their dollar to stretch farther. This is the perfect way to sell your clothes to make a little extra money or even to browse for some great discounts.

9. Receipt Hog

This app is similar to Ibotta, but they accept all receipts. You can shop anywhere and earn points for your purchases. However it takes longer to earn a gift card since the point values aren’t as high. Either way, free money.  

10. Rover

Sign up to pet sit, dog walk, and even do in house visits. Pet owners will view your profile and request whichever pet services you are able to offer. This is a perfect way to cure your puppy fever without having the full responsibility and commitment of a dog.

11. Spinlister

Sports rental companies charge an arm and a leg for a few hours of bike, ski, or even surfboard rentals. This app allows you to rent out your equipment at a lower rate instead of letting it collect dust in your garage. A new bicycle could pay for itself tenfold by renting your old one out.

12. Uber/Lyft

Everyone has had a drunken night and responsibly turned to their favorite transportation app. But have you thought of becoming a driver? You make your own schedule, retain about 80% of each ride, and are essentially your own boss. Everyone has been forced to DD before; you might as well get paid for it.

13. Udemy

Again, everyone has something they’re good at. That could be anything from Microsoft Excel, cooking, resume building, or even how to play a sport. Udemy allows anyone to upload online courses to their site for customers to purchase. This is completely passive income that allows you to teach a skill that you are already passionate about and familiar with.

14. Zaarly

This app allows you to create your own online store. You can sell anything from baked goods, financial services, delivery services, or even home repairs. Everyone is good at something. Put your skills to good use and earn extra money by advertising your specialties.

Now there’s no excuse as to why you aren’t putting your infamous dog walking skills or grandmothers apple pie recipe to good use. These 14 apps will help you pad your checking account and make ordering that third bloody mary guilt free. Each app is easy to use and will earn you extra income without you lifting a finger.

Fuck You Money

On Wednesdays, we blog.

See what I did there?

Has anyone ever told you that you should have six months of living expenses saved up at all times? Just in case your car breaks down, you get fired, or have a medical emergency? If so, give yourself a pat on the back. If not, this is me telling you now.

Have you ever had a bad day at work? A day that not even the happiest of happy hours could reverse? A day so shitty that you begin to fantasize over the idea of flipping your desk and telling your boss to go fuck himself? Welcome to entry-level employment.

This is where the fuck you fund comes in. Remember all the times you brought your lunch and suffered through the office coffee? This is where it all pays off.

I'll explain.

When I was 18, I was taking my '93 Dodge Intrepid (RIP) to the shop at least once a month to be fixed. On New Year’s Eve, I was driving it home from the Godsend of a body shop that I was now on a first name basis with, and it broke down again. With love, I said "fuck you" to my Intrepid and walked across the street to the dealership. A few hours later I emerged with a brand new Nissan and a sense of relief.

It was totaled eight months later.

That's not the point. I made an adult decision, the car loan helped build up my credit score, and I was financially independent AF.

Fast forward to a month before my college graduation. I was having a rough day at the internship. You know, copying shit and being someone's bitch. I pulled another "Fuck You" and bought a month long backpacking trip through Europe. My mother was annoyed that I made her take off work to shuttle me to the airport and my father sipped a stiff drink in silence. My employer was pissed that I pushed my start date back. You know what? Who cares, it was my money and my vacation.

All of these rash decisions were brought to you by my "Fuck You" fund.

Hindsight being 20/20, Could I probably have made better decisions? Yes. Did I make a few mistakes? Yes, but I have learned from them. Would I change anything if I could go back? Nope.

 

My parents like to call this an "Emergency Fund". Clever, I know. My more affluent friends like to call this a "Fuck You Fund".

I'm absolutely not advising you to quit your job and definitely not encouraging you to curse at your boss, ever. We're not here to burn bridges, we're here to build new ones.

Having a bank account you routinely set aside money in, not only allows you to make large purchases regret-free, it also protects you if you ever are in an actual emergency. I know you've seen the commercials with the debt collectors and the people hiding from their landlines. The commercial may be dramatized, but the situation is very real. It only takes one unforeseen medical bill, a broken down car, or forgotten student loan payment to create a domino effect into debt.

I know six months of expenses may sound like a lot. But a few life changes are 100% worth the peace of mind. Take a minute and write down every payment you make monthly, it might be less than you think.

Rent. Utilities. Water. Car expenses, gas, and insurance. Student loans, I know you have them. What else?

I'm not saying this is something you can form overnight, saving takes time. That's why you'll feel badass when you finally have enough saved up that you can blow a portion of it on your dream car or the vacation you've been waiting for.

A coworker of mine brings a PB&J for lunch. Every. Single. Day. He also drives a Corvette that he paid for in full. Another friend of mine works at least 60, sometimes 80 hours a week. He pockets the over time and doesn't owe a single dime on his home.

 Me? I drink the shitty office coffee religiously just so I can vacation how and when I want. The money has to come from somewhere, what are you willing to give up now to benefit in the long run?

Start with what you can. Most banks don't charge extra for opening a new account, especially savings. Most of the time you can even do it online. Try putting $20 a week into this bank account. Remember last week when I asked you to sacrifice your coffee and bring your lunch? Is it making more sense? $20 a week for 52 weeks is $1040.

If your parents hand you a wad of cash for Christmas or your birthday, try putting it in this account. The same can be said for your bonuses or overtime at work. Is it easier to spend this extra cash on bottomless mimosas at brunch or on that new Express sweater that you just happen to have a coupon for? Sure. But won't it feel a hell of a lot better if you don't have to pay $400 a month on a car because you could actually afford a down payment? Yes.

Try to stray away from the instant gratification lifestyle that is so popular among our generation. I promise you can put away $20 a week and your lifestyle will not suffer. This is the first step into the wonderful world of financial independence.

Why TF Should I Budget?

I'm stuck in the middle of a blizzard with only my laptop, a large amount of craft beer, and a bag of BBQ Lays.

So...I write this with love, a slight buzz, and an overwhelming feeling of hangry.

I opened up an IRA last week and went to my father for advice for what specifically to invest in. He asked me a series of questions that I would compare with being unsuspectingly shot by a paintball gun several times over.

"What year do you plan to retire?" My response was a blank stare.

"2055?" Holy shit, what? NO.

Unless you are in love with the cubicle you sit in, the boss man you answer to, and the barely there paychecks you are receiving, you NEED to budget. The financial decisions you are making now could cut your #cubelife in half. Do you think you could give up that daily starbs run for something homebrewed, or even a budget friendly KCup? Do you think you could bring your lunch a few times a week and exponentially decrease your lunch tabs?

I think you can.

No one wants to sit in a fucking cubicle for 30+ years. I'm sorry, but that sounds like a special version of Hell.

Let's start out small and see where your mind takes you.

If you buy a cup of coffee three days a week, for $3 per cup, that's $9 per week. Seems small, right? Let's be conservative and say you only do this 48 weeks out of the year. That's $432 you have spent on coffee. Maybe that still seems small?

You should double check my math. Craft beer, you know?

Say you like going out to lunch. Same, love lunch. Let's estimate you go out to lunch twice a week. Maybe $15 per trip if you're getting an entrée and a diet coke (we're all watching our figures here). That's $30 a week. Again, let's estimate this at 48 weeks, that's $1440 per year.

Let that sink in.

Again, I am not here to take away your social life or your eggs benny. I am here to help you make miniscule changes in your life that will help you spend less and save more.

I've offered a few scenarios and I feel as though I owe you a few solutions.

1. Suck it up and drink the free coffee in your office. I am aware that it sucks. I am also aware that it is free. Save your money for happy hour later or even a new car down the road. You'll live, I promise.

2. Buy a Keurig or a coffee maker. Again, you'll live. Get a cute reusable thermos. You will look just as cool retiring at 50 as you do now with a $4 venti skinny non- fat whatever in your hand. I promise.

3. Eat your lunch at your desk and use your lunch hour to go on a walk with a coworker. I do this every single day. None of my coworkers even flinch at the idea anymore. You still get to keep your social life while also not starving. I promise you that no one will cease to be your friend because you suggest some sunshine and exercise.

Okay. So we're in this together, right? We can get matching reusable mugs and fill them with shitty office coffee #totesadorbs.

Let's Get Naked.

Take off all your clothes and stand in front of a mirror.

It's uncomfortable, right? Every flaw is staring back at you reminding you of the pint of Ben & Jerry's you finished after a long day at the office and the workout you traded out for brunch with the girls. The mirror won't lie to you.

It's uncomfortable and raw and vulnerable. No one likes the absolute truth but how long can you keep telling yourself little white lies?

So, get naked. Physically or hypothetically, no judgment from me. You need to be transparent for this to work.

Where is your money actually going? Are you saving enough? Planning for retirement at all? What expenses do you have and may have in the future? Where is this girl trying to go with this? Hold on a sec, I'll explain.

I dated a guy in college who was financially dependent on his parents, which is fine. We can call him Will for the sake of the story. This guy only ever ate fast food or at sit-down restaurants. His dad blindly paid the credit card bill every month and Will never had a clue what his bill added up to. This worked just fine while he was in school, which was their agreement. Approaching graduation, his dad sat him down and had Will look at how all his purchases added up from previous months. Will had to stare at himself naked in the mirror for the first time.

Each purchase was anywhere from $7-$12, seemingly not much at all. But even a first-grade math student could tell you how fast small purchases can add up. His bill averaged $2,000 every month. It was a huge honest wake up call. 

It's easy enough to blindly swipe a plastic card and subsequently blindly pay a balance off. It's also just as easy to look in the mirror and lie about where your money is going. Have you ever tried to solve a problem? I'm not talking about a small relationship spat you threw a Band-Aid at or that half-assed apology you accepted with a shit-eating grin. I'm talking about sitting down, getting raw and uncomfortable, and actually figuring out what the real fucking problem is before you blindly attempt to patch it. 

That's what we're going to do here. We’re going to get naked, uncomfortable, and be transparent with ourselves. We are going to get to the true root of the problem before we even begin to look at solutions. You can't attempt to budget until you honestly know where your money is going. I need you to track each and every purchase you make. Start a notebook, formulate a spreadsheet. Whatever works. Don't write down that your morning coffee costs $2. Look yourself in the mirror and admit that it's actually $2.75. 

Why is this girl getting all worked up about 75 cents?

It adds up. Every single cent needs to be accounted for if you're trying to reach your goals. I know it sounds tedious and mundane, but I promise you this works. Spreadsheets are just as honest and unforgiving as mirrors. When I first started this, it was a huge slap in the face where my money was going. $500 on alcohol in one month? Okay Amanda, definitely time to reevaluate. I know you’re sitting there with a judgmental ass look on your face calling me an alcoholic, but would you like to add up your number and get back to me? Cool.

The point is, I got uncomfortable and looked my financial situation in the eye. I know exactly where every single penny of my money goes. I got to the root of my issues, Sportsman’s cheese balls and all. I identified the problem AND THEN found a solution.

Get naked, get uncomfortable. Start tracking all your purchases. Transparency is key. Look at all your financial flaws as there are, and then we can create a solution together.