LA
Liz Alterman
6 days ago

No 401(k)? No Problem: Retirement Savings Strategies for the Free Spirit

money
401k
If you’re one of the growing number of #bossladies working independently in a freelance, consultant, or entrepreneurial role, you are blessed with certain advantages: autonomy, pursuit of passion, and freedom from routine, to name a few.

But one benefit you’re missing? No 401(k).

Not familiar with this perk? It’s an empl...
If you’re one of the growing number of #bossladies working independently in a freelance, consultant, or entrepreneurial role, you are blessed with certain advantages: autonomy, pursuit of passion, and freedom from routine, to name a few.

But one benefit you’re missing? No 401(k).

Not familiar with this perk? It’s an employer-sponsored retirement account that allows employees to sock away pre-tax dollars, lowering their taxable income and building a nest egg at the same time.

If you find yourself without this option, you’re not alone.

In fact, about 53 million Americans—or 34 percent of the total U.S. workforce—are independent workers, and this number is expected to surge to 50 percent by 2020.

Having a plan for how you’ll fund your retirement is key—unless you want to work well into your golden years. Here’s what to do if you’re self-employed.

If you are your own boss…

You can contribute 25 percent of compensation—up to a maximum of $55,000 for 2018 — to a simplified employee pension plan.

Wondering where to begin? Set up an account with an investment firm, such as Fidelity, T. Rowe Price, or Vanguard.

You have until the due date of your tax return in April to open and fund an SEP.

Long-term benefit: Contributions to an SEP are tax-deductible and grow tax-deferred, which means whatever amount you contribute to this account is sheltered in a nice little bubble from income taxes until you withdraw it in retirement.

If you want to bank a bundle…

You can potentially set aside even more with a solo 401k because you act as both employee and employer.

As an “employee” (even though you’re self-employed), you can contribute up to $18,500, plus 25 percent of your compensation as a sole proprietor (business owner). Cha-ching!

Just keep in mind that combined contributions can’t exceed $55,000 for 2018.

Long-term benefit: Like with an SEP, contributions to a solo 401k are tax-deductible (so you can reduce the amount you have to pay to Uncle Sam come tax time). But unlike an SEP, this plan also allows you to contribute more at lower income levels because you can set aside a percentage of income and an “employee” contribution.

If you’re not keen on paying taxes now…

An individual retirement account (IRA) will let you defer paying income tax on as much as $5,500 annually (if you’re under 50, otherwise the limit is $6,500).

Why would you want to defer? Well, besides the obvious immediate savings, you may find yourself in a lower tax bracket by the time you go to withdraw the funds because you’re retired.

Long-term benefit: You might be thinking, How will I ever be able to retire by contributing just $5,500 per year? Look at it like this: If you put away $5,500 each year with an average annual return of 6 percent, within 20 years, you’ll have $214,460 in your IRA. (Only more of a reason to start now…)

If you want to get the taxes out of the way…

Open a Roth IRA.

With a traditional IRA, you don’t pay income tax until you withdraw from the account. With a Roth IRA, you’re putting away post-tax dollars.

That means you pay taxes on the money as you contribute to the account, and when you decide to withdraw the funds decades later, you’re getting the entire amount, no more taxes applied (so long as you've held the account for five years, and you’re at least 59½).

Long-term benefit: Roth IRAs let your money grow (and grow, and grow!) tax-free until you’re ready to withdraw.

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Hey Nav.igator, just so you know, we have financial advisors reviewing our content, but our articles are only meant to be educational. Consider this friendly information, not financial advice (talk to a professional for that!).

WH
Whitney Hansen
13 days ago

3 Tips to Save Money This Halloween

money
halloween
With Halloween right around the corner (it always seems to come out of nowhere), I want to share some tips that will help you save money this holiday. These will help you not break the bank and still keep you from sitting on the couch indulging in all the candy you bought for the trick-or-treaters.

By the time you buy a costume ($60+), candy for trick or treaters...
With Halloween right around the corner (it always seems to come out of nowhere), I want to share some tips that will help you save money this holiday. These will help you not break the bank and still keep you from sitting on the couch indulging in all the candy you bought for the trick-or-treaters.

By the time you buy a costume ($60+), candy for trick or treaters ($10), go downtown for drinks and dinner ($50+), and pay for an Uber ride home ($20), you might be feeling like you are living la vida broka.

There’s nothing worse than spending a lot of money on a costume just to go out for one night, wake up hung-over and feel like you wasted a ton of money. These tips will help you not do that. 

Borrow from your friends. 

This one is a big tip because we all have that one friend that spends a crap ton on a costume just to get that perfect look for the night and then puts it back into their closet never to be touched again. In fact, we all have at least five of these friends. We just aren’t asking each other if we can dig into one another’s closets.

Borrow a costume from you friends. They are likely not going to be a sexy witch two years in a row, so you can sneak in on that one, and save yourself 

Get creative (and leave shame out of the equation).

Some of the best, most hilarious costumes I’ve ever seen were made on a tight budget. A little bit of creativity goes a long way. Face it: you can pretty much be a “zombie” anything with some makeup, a YouTube tutorial, and practice. 

Opt for ways to use existing clothes, makeup, and friend’s belongings (which takes us back to tip one!) to put together your costume. One of my favorite creative costumes was when my sister was grapes. Freakin’ two packs of $1 balloons safety pinned to a purple sweatsuit that she found at a thrift store ($5). And it was HILARIOUS! 

Go after that halloween costume contest, and walk away with a shiny prize and happy bank account.


Host a themed dinner with your friends.

Forget going downtown for drinks and dinner; most places are going to charge you more for the “holiday” specials anyways. That will cost you a ton of money. 

Instead invite your friends over for a costume-themed dinner party. Get your friends to bring their favorite dish, come up with a signature holiday cocktail, award the most creative costume (which only encourages people to go the homemade costume route), and you’ve got yourself a pretty solid Halloween plan that won’t empty your pockets.

Or even thriftier, spend the night with friends (or by yourself, if you’re not a scaredy cat like me) watching scary movies (or Halloweentown..just saying).  Indulge in some candy + popcorn. It’ll still be far cheaper than going out. 


RH
Rainbow Huff
20 days ago

Harnessing the Power of Money Mentorship

#women
money
Whether you consider yourself a smooth Navi.gator when it comes to your finances or you haven’t the slightest idea on how to manage them, a mentor can help you on your financial journey.

The thing is, many people don’t know where to start when it comes to finding someone to share the current state of your finances. Or worse: you’re not sure how ...
Whether you consider yourself a smooth Navi.gator when it comes to your finances or you haven’t the slightest idea on how to manage them, a mentor can help you on your financial journey.

The thing is, many people don’t know where to start when it comes to finding someone to share the current state of your finances. Or worse: you’re not sure how much to let people know what you don’t know. It’s hard being vulnerable when it comes to money. But it can also be rewarding to get an outsider’s perspective when they’ve encountered the same things you are currently going through (or will in due time). 

Here are our top tips for finding the right fit for your money mentorship.

Understand the role of a money mentor.

Remember: A money mentor is different than a certified professional you’d hire to perform a financial service.  Money mentors may be morally responsible for protecting your information, but they aren’t legally obligated to do so. Mentors provide coaching, offer guidance and share helpful experiences. Do you need tips on saving money? Advice on investing? It’s critical to select a money mentor with demonstrated success or expertise in your financial areas of focus.

Set clear goals.

Before identifying a mentor, you have to be clear on why you need one. What do you want them to teach you? How can they add value to your journey? Mentors want to know specifically how they can help you. Answering questions like these will enable you to clearly articulate your mentorship needs and set goals. You can’t crush your goals if you don’t set any! 

Get uncomfortable.

Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone when you request a mentor. Connect with someone from a different industry, background or (our favorite) another generation than your own. This will expose you to new perspectives,experiences, and a lot of things you’ve probably never heard before (and that’s the goal!). Be honest about your financial knowledge gaps and areas of weakness, even if it makes you slightly (or very) uncomfortable. This doesn’t mean that you have to share your private financial information or ask your money mentor to do so either. 

If you cling to what’s familiar, it may be hard to broaden your horizons and expand your breadth of knowledge. Be bold and embrace the awkward money talk!

Respect your mentor’s time.

Don’t show up late or unprepared for meetings. Create a list of questions and/or topics for discussion before you meet to maximize your time together. If you have recurring meetings scheduled but no new items to discuss, cancel. Before you waste your mentor’s time, give it back to them. 

Most importantly, take action on the feedback or suggestions they share. If you don’t agree with something or have a different view, that’s okay. The key is to share that with your mentor so that they know you’re hearing them and you appreciate their perspective.

Give thanks.

Show your appreciation. If you’re meeting your mentor out and about, treat them to coffee or lunch. If that’s not an option, mail them a handwritten note. Whatever you do, it’s important that you acknowledge the time and expertise your mentor shares. A simple “thank you” goes a long way! And even better, share with them how their solid advice has helped you get closer to reaching your financial goals. Your money mentor will enjoy seeing positive results.


Be intentional and flexible.

Mentorship is no different than any other relationship; if it doesn’t add value or serve a purpose, you shouldn’t try to force it to do so. Be intentional about evaluating the relationship with your money mentor and don’t be afraid to move on if needed. They might decide that they’ve reached their capacity to help you and choose to move on as well. 

On the flip side, you may be prepared to start having discussions with a financial professional and only need to connect with your money mentor during “let’s catch up” sessions. You’ll need different types of financial advice and support throughout the various stages of Navi.gating your finances. Be flexible with the transitions that will inevitably occur along the way.


ET
English Taylor
about 1 month ago

Should You Work for Free? Knowing Your Worth as a Freelancer

freelance
money
When I first became a full-time freelance writer, I worked a few gigs at minimum wage, and even some for free. I said yes to everything. After all, I had no clients and a bank account that would dip below zero after next month’s rent was due. 

While many of these clients are now paying customers, some of them took advantage of me o...
When I first became a full-time freelance writer, I worked a few gigs at minimum wage, and even some for free. I said yes to everything. After all, I had no clients and a bank account that would dip below zero after next month’s rent was due. 

While many of these clients are now paying customers, some of them took advantage of me or the opportunity led nowhere. Even now, after years of experience, I still get asked if I’ll contribute for nothing in return. While the answer is usually a hard no, sometimes I oblige. Here’s why. 

I work for free to build credibility and learn. 


Right after I quit my corporate job, I offered to help a yoga teacher friend with her weekly newsletter. As I continued to pitch my services to other clients, I was able to list her as a reference and use the newsletter as an example of my work. 

Since I only had a few published articles, I agreed to contribute to websites and blogs for free in the early stages of my business. After doing this for a month or two, I had a long list of URLs to send to potential clients. I felt more comfortable asking to get paid when I could point to tangible examples of my value. 

Working for free when I was just starting out was also educational. I learned how to pitch, how to work with editors remotely, and how the digital content world generally works for freelance writers. 

But only until I find and establish my way.


Eventually, I had the credibility and confidence to start talking money and walking away with contracts. But I made the mistake of letting some of those free gigs linger for far too long.

Exhibit A: I offered to edit a kayaking website for free for five hours per week during the first four months of growing my business. But around month two, I had already secured paying gigs. Aside from the fact that I’ve never even been in a kayak, I could have spent these hours actually making money. (Honestly, the only perk that came from this experience was impressing my partner’s stepdad with my knowledge on the difference between a forward stroke and a forward sweep stroke.)

It can open doors to other business opportunities. 


Remember the yoga teacher? When a student inquired about her newsletter and asked for content marketing tips, she pointed him my way. Turns out, he was starting his own company and looking for help with email marketing. Fast-forward two years later: He’s my longest-standing client. Working for free when a client is particularly well-connected or when my articles will gain a lot of exposure often ends up helping me grow my business. And this isn’t just a tip for writers. 

“I often give jewelry to close friends or donate pieces to charity auctions,” says Los Angeles-based designer Lindsey Jacobs who has been in business for three years. “Ultimately, the press is worth it. A woman who won a pair of earrings at an auction reached out for 10 bridesmaids gifts a few months later. When my friend was wearing my necklace out shopping, a boutique owner asked her where she bought it. I now sell at that boutique!” 

Evaluate whether the brand or individual is well-known. When a prominent women’s health publication told me my first article would be a trial run, and I wouldn’t be paid, I still decided to contribute. When the piece was published, I had a top brand to add to my portfolio. This legitimizes my work and helps me sell other clients. 


WH
Whitney Hansen
about 1 month ago

How to Calculate Your Net Worth and Why it Matters

money
adulting
Net worth is this concept that a lot of people seem to forget is important. I see far more attention on credit scores than I do on net worth. And I understand why. A sizable net worth takes years to accumulate.

While I’m a big fan of tracking your net worth, keep in mind, your net worth is not your self worth. You are an incredible human and jus...
Net worth is this concept that a lot of people seem to forget is important. I see far more attention on credit scores than I do on net worth. And I understand why. A sizable net worth takes years to accumulate.

While I’m a big fan of tracking your net worth, keep in mind, your net worth is not your self worth. You are an incredible human and just because you’re net worth isn’t where you want it to be, does not mean you are a crappy person. Don’t ever forget that! 

We all have very different journeys and the important piece is to use your past experiences (and the stories of other Nav.igators) as fuel for your bright future.

What is your net worth?

Your net worth is a snapshot of your personal situation at a moment in time. It might fluctuate, but the important thing is the overall number should be increasing over time. Net worth is composed of two categories: assets (things you own) and liabilities (things you owe).

Some people don’t consider a home an asset and some people do. Frankly, I don’t care if you do or don’t as long as you are consistent in your tracking. For example, if you own a home, the value of your home is considered an asset, but the loan amount needs to be a liability. Make sense?

Let’s break down some common assets.

The assets that most people come across are:
  • Homes
  • Cars
  • Cash in the bank
  • Investments
  • 401k, 403b, IRAs
  • Raw land
  • Rental Properties
  • Valuables around the house (any antiques, jewelry, equipment that is worth some cash, etc)
In a nutshell, it’s anything you own that is convertible to hard cash. Make sure you use market value or blue book value for items. 

For example, if you aren’t sure what your house is worth, you can have it appraised, look at comps, or use the value listed on your latest tax assessment. For your car, use Kelly Blue Book or Edmunds to see how much your car is truly worth. Investments provide you with monthly statements, so that should be fairly easy to locate.

The goal here is to be as definitive as you can by using the best numbers you can find. If your car is worth between $5,000-$7,500, use $5,000 for tracking purposes.

Let’s break down liabilities.

Liabilities are super easy for people to understand. It’s basically anything you owe money on.
Common liabilities that you might come across:
  • Student loan
  • Car loan
  • House loan
  • Credit card debt
  • Money you owe to your mom or dad
  • IRS debt

Any type of loan or anyone that is expecting payment from you should be included in your liabilities.

How to calculate your net worth.

Now that you have a better understanding of what numbers are included in your net worth, it’s time to figure out what your net worth is. You can get real nerdy and use a spreadsheet (my preferred method) or just jot down your assets and liabilities on a piece of paper.

Once you have everything written down, subtract your liabilities from your assets. That number is your net worth.

Let’s say you get into the numbers and your assets are $100,000 with liabilities of $150,000. Your net worth would be -$50,000. And for a lot of people just getting to net worth of zero is a really big deal.

Remember how I mentioned earlier your net worth is a snapshot in time and the overall trend line should be moving upward? For a lot of people calculating their net worth is a really important way to see if you are progressing.

I highly recommend updating your net worth on a monthly basis and looking at the trend line over the course of a year. Once a year, reassess the value of your assets and adjust as needed. Cars tend to depreciate fairly quickly, so the market value of your car will likely decrease each year. Just make sure you have that reflected in your calculations.

How do you know if you’re on track?

This is such a great question, and one that I hear all the time. While I don’t think you should compare yourself to other people, there are certain formulas that help you understand if you are financially where someone of your age and income ideally should be. Everyone starts at a different place, but this will give you a bit of context.

NET WORTH = [YOUR AGE – 25] X [GROSS INCOME/5]

If you are 28 years old making $55,000 before taxes then your target net worth at this stage is $33,000. (28-25=3) x ($55,000/5= $11,000).

This number might be way more than you have right now or way less than you have, but it’s a good target to see how you are doing.

If you want to increase your net worth.

It’s a two-sided equation and working on both sides makes a big difference. If you are feeling the pinch of having too much debt, then paying off your debt will directly impact your net worth in a positive way.

Additionally at some point, once you are debt-free, you have to start boosting your assets to grow your net worth. For example, I personally only have a mortgage on my liabilities, so each month that I make a house payment, I’m directly seeing this net worth amount grow. It’s super exciting! 

But I’m also at a point where boosting my assets makes a lot more sense. So I do my best to contribute more into my investments each month and am considering investing in rental property as soon as I save up enough money to do so.


BT
By the Nav.it Team
about 1 month ago

The Magic of Compound Interest

money
compound interest
Compound interest is sort of like taking your vitamins. You don’t really see the benefits right away but in the long run, it’s doing all kinds of wondrous things like making you stronger (financially, in the case of interest) and full of life (hello, extra funds to travel with come the golden years). 

Ready to get your vitamin CI (compound ...
Compound interest is sort of like taking your vitamins. You don’t really see the benefits right away but in the long run, it’s doing all kinds of wondrous things like making you stronger (financially, in the case of interest) and full of life (hello, extra funds to travel with come the golden years). 

Ready to get your vitamin CI (compound interest)? 

Get rich(ish) quick

Compound interest is interest-on-interest. For example if you have $100, and the interest rate is 5 percent per month, you would earn $5 in interest and a total of $105 in your account. In the next month, you would earn 5 percent on the $105 for a new total of $110.25, and so on and so forth, earning interest on the new balance each month. 

This accelerates your earnings over time as the interest-on-interest grows.

There are two things that affect the rate at which you earn compound interest: time and interest rate. The longer you can invest for and the higher the interest rate you earn, the more benefits you will reap from compound interest. 

Start investing yesterday

The sooner you invest, the sooner you reap the benefits of compound interest, and the longer too. Take a look at this example. Two people are investing: one starts at 20, and the other at 35. Notice the difference in total saved by the time of retirement is huge.  
The highlighted values show the totals you will have in your account assuming a 10 percent compounding interest rate. Check out how much higher it is than the total you invested (that’s free money).

More importantly, check out how much of a difference there is between the Suzy saver who started putting away funds when she was 20 versus the average person who starts saving when they are about 35 (that’s probably when good sense kicks in and we stop putting so much money toward Friday night ragers). 

The difference in actual investment is only $37,500 but the compounded effect is over $1.5 million…that’s magical. But it’s also very real. Start saving now.

When compound interest bites us…

It’s great to get compound interest in the form of savings but compound interest isn’t so great when we have to pay it. You’ll notice that if you don’t pay your credit card bills for a month, you’ll have to pay interest. And the next month you don’t pay, you’ll pay interest on your total plus the previous month’s interest as well. That’s the negative effect of compound interest (womp womp).  

Retirement is a long way away for most of us, and saving for it might seem like something you can put off until you find your first few gray hairs. But you’ll be missing out on the huge benefits of compound interest. Invest early, even if you can’t invest a lot right now. 


RH
Rainbow Huff
19 days ago

Follow these 11 Black Female Entrepreneurs and Financial Gurus

money
black women
Getting our financial lives in order is one of the most empowering things we can do as women.  But if you don’t feel confident about how to manage your money, it can be intimidating and something you get anxious about while avoiding altogether.  

Luckily for you, we’ve found an all-star line-...
Getting our financial lives in order is one of the most empowering things we can do as women.  But if you don’t feel confident about how to manage your money, it can be intimidating and something you get anxious about while avoiding altogether.  

Luckily for you, we’ve found an all-star line-up of black female entrepreneurs who are financial gurus, all of whom can help you get up to speed on your personal finances and get you closer to your happiness goals. Get to know these Nav.igators and explore the wealth (pun intended) of knowledge and expertise they bring to the table.

Tarra Jackson

Twitter: @msmadammoney
Tarra Jackson, aka Madam Money, is the founder of the #WomensWealth movement where she offers online classes and hosts the nationwide B.O.S.S. (Business Owner Success Strategies) Brunch Tour.  She is the author of the best-selling book, “Financial Fornication,” and is known for encouraging her audience to create pleasurable and enjoyable relationships with their finances. Tarra also hosts a podcast, Financial Fornicating with Madam Money and Friends, where she shares major keys to financial success.

Talaat and Tai McNeely 

Twitter: @hisandhermoney
This financial power couple is living their best debt-free life and teaching others how to do the same.  Talaat and Tai are both money and marriage experts who teach strategies for building wealth for your family, managing money better and working on your relationship in their Power Couples University program. This dynamic duo can help you get your financial and love lives in order.

Patrice Washington 

Twitter: @seekwisdompcw

Patrice Washington, aka Money Maven, is the host of Redefining Wealth TV and podcast.  She started a real estate business at 22, became debt free at 25, grew her business to seven figures-- and lost all in 2008. She then bounced back wiser and stronger.  Patrice is the best-selling author of the “Real Money Answers” series and is known for encouraging others to chase purpose, not money.

Samantha Ealy

Twitter: @genwealthy
Samantha Ealy is the founder of Generational Wealthy, which focuses on empowering teens and young adults to invest in their financial futures. Generation Wealthy offers a variety of free online resources to teach personal finances and start the money conversation early, so that the next generation can make well-informed financial decisions.Officially incorporated as a 501 © (3) nonprofit in 2016, Generation Wealthy takes pride in the fact that is fully volunteer led by a group of millennials.

Tonya Rapley 

Twitter: @myfabfinance

Tonya Rapley is the Millennial Money Expert. She is the author of “The Money Manual” and is best known for helping millennials break the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck.  Her blog MyFabFinance offers  tips on  choosing the right credit card, having financial conversations with children, knowing the difference between linear and passive income, and so much more.

Tiffany Aliche

Twitter: @thebudgetnista
Tiffany Aliche, aka The Budgetnista, is the best-selling author of the “Live Richer Challenge” series and is the founder of online school Live Richer Academy. Former teacher turned personal finance guru, she is now on a mission to empower women with resources and tools to create richer lives for themselves and their families. To date, Tiffany’s global financial movement has helped over 800,000 women eliminate $75 million worth of debt and save more than $100 million.

Kara Stevens 

Twitter: @frugalfeminista

Kara Stevens likes to think of herself as a financial friend – one who teaches, coaches and guides others in money matters. She is a finance blogger, coach and creator of The Happy Finances Challenge, a free 42-day online program focused on radically transforming how women “do” finances and life fundamentally. Kara is passionate about enabling black women to heal, deepen and strengthen their relationships with money.  

Danielle Desir

Twitter: @thethoughtcard
Danielle Desir is a travel writer and financial expert who teaches others how to travel with financial savvy, eliminate debt and build wealth.  She paid off a whopping $63,000 worth of student loan debt in four years, while traveling the world (#lifegoals). You can learn how to afford making travel a priority by checking out her award-winning travel finance blog and podcast, The Thought Card.

Jamila Souffrant

Twitter: @journeytolaunch
Jamila Souffrant offers her financial wisdom on her blog and podcast, Journey to Launch.  She and her husband saved $85,000 in just 12 months and she tells you how she did it (so you can too!) in her free wealth-building course, Your Way to $85k.  Jamila offers resources and tips relative to saving money, eliminating debt and managing finances.

Sahirenys Pierce 

Twitter: @poisedfinancelifestyle


Sahirenys Pierce is the creator of the “High 5 Banking Method” and The Poised Lifestyle blog.  The High 5 Banking Method offers a simple formula of using two checking and three savings accounts to enable financial organization and money management.  Sahirenys’s blog is full of tools, resources and tips designed to simplify money for millennials.  

Naseema McElroy

Twitter: @financiallyintentional
Naseema McElroy is a nurse and financial blogger who paid off $1 million in debt, and grew a six-figure business in just three short years. Her blog, Financially Intentional, is full of resources, services and tools that help others take control of their finances, once and for all! She offers simple, yet actionable tools to empower others to shift their mindset about money, and harness consistency and intentionality to build and manage wealth.  



ET
English Taylor
about 1 month ago

How I Learned to Manage My Financial Anxiety

money
stress
It’s 7:15 a.m. and my alarm is blaring. Like any good millennial, the first thing I do is roll over and grab my phone, but as soon as my thumb scrolls over the balance alert from my bank, my heart begins to race. How many times did I eat out this month? Did my rent payment go through? Wait, did I send it?

It’s 7:19 a.m. and I’m already ...
It’s 7:15 a.m. and my alarm is blaring. Like any good millennial, the first thing I do is roll over and grab my phone, but as soon as my thumb scrolls over the balance alert from my bank, my heart begins to race. How many times did I eat out this month? Did my rent payment go through? Wait, did I send it?

It’s 7:19 a.m. and I’m already anxious.

When my partner asks if I’m okay, I force a smile and nod. I’m too embarrassed to tell him that I may not be able to cover my portion of this month’s rent. At dinner, I spend an absurd amount of time squinting at the menu, calculating the cheapest possible option, then beating myself up for caring more about the check than genuinely connecting with my friends. 

Sick of the vicious cycle, I sat down with Alicia Eggen, a licensed therapist, to learn how to conquer what I (and so many others) suffer from—financial anxiety.

What does financial anxiety look and feel like?

Let’s face it—change is scary, and life is always changing. People who experience financial anxiety may have a fear of the future or the unknown, and worry about having enough money to provide for themselves and their family. It’s natural to feel uneasy around things you can’t control, like [changes] in the stock market, job loss, or sudden illness. But you may [also] have difficulty developing a plan around things you actually can control, like budgeting and retirement. 

How do I cope with financial anxiety?

Worrying about things outside of your control just wastes your mental and emotional resources. Instead, focus on creating a budget. 

How can I stop seeing my finances as a reflection of my worth? 

Live out your values. I find that we often experience anxiety when we’re doing things that contradict our values. Write down the three things in life you value most, perhaps family or travel, and let these inform your goals about your finances.

What about all the shame and negativity?

When things feel overwhelming, it’s natural to focus on the negative. But in order to see the whole picture, remember the positive things you’re doing as well. Writing these down as well can be a helpful reminder of what’s actually going right. 

This can even be something along the lines of spending in accordance with your values, as we just discussed. Reminding yourself that you’re spending money on what’s truly important to you can be reassuring and empowering. 

Putting advice into practice.

I started by coming up with a list of what I truly value in life, leading with my heart instead of my wallet. Exercise, nutrition, and mental health were the top three. I realized that I rarely beat myself up over spending money on my weekly therapy session, because deep down I know this type of self-improvement and discovery is incredibly important to me.

On the other hand, I always feel guilty when I spend money on food and alcohol. That’s probably because the food I make at home is healthier than what I eat when I’m out (shocker). 

For the next week, I tested out using these values as a lens to inform my purchasing decisions. By Thursday, I didn’t feel any FOMO turning down that happy hour invitation from former coworkers. I knew I would have gone to the bar, spent $12 on a glass of wine, drank only half of it, and chastised myself for it afterwards. 

Instead, I asked if they’d want to grab coffee and go for a walk over the weekend—two activities I felt genuinely excited about (and one of which was free). 

Celebrating what I’m doing right. 

Per Alicia’s advice, I also tried writing down a few things that were going well for me financially. To be honest, it was challenging. I practically forced myself to jot down: I have a budget (and restrained myself from adding in parentheses: that I struggle to follow). 

Surprisingly though, that first bit of positivity opened up a wave of other realizations. After a moment, I wrote: I hired an accountant to help me with taxes. Next came: I spent $20 on yoga class, which supports my values of exercise and mental health. Within the next few minutes, I had a list of four positives. But more importantly, I felt better—grateful and in control. In my clear-headedness, I even set a calendar reminder for next month’s healthcare bill. 

Alicia’s exercise showed me that no matter how many things I may be doing right, the negatives muscle in and take center stage. I’m too focused on my debt to pat myself on the back when I resolutely chip away at it each month. 

The truth is, the road to financial security is more like a stair master. There are about a billion tiny steps, but recognizing each small, proactive behavior is a boost to your mental and financial benefit. 
LG
Lauren Green
about 2 months ago

How to Get Your Money Back for Lost and Damaged Luggage

travel
money
After a very long and very depressing recent flight from Paris back to the U.S. (who ever wants to leave Paris?), I waited for my luggage in a haze at the bag drop-off in San Antonio, Texas. The first few minutes were filled with the typical baggage pick-up thoughts: I should’ve had one more glass of wine on that flight. Who cares if the flight attendant would’ve ju...
After a very long and very depressing recent flight from Paris back to the U.S. (who ever wants to leave Paris?), I waited for my luggage in a haze at the bag drop-off in San Antonio, Texas. The first few minutes were filled with the typical baggage pick-up thoughts: I should’ve had one more glass of wine on that flight. Who cares if the flight attendant would’ve judged me? I am really really ready to be in my bed. 

But after the next ten minutes, panic began to set in. Okay, where is it? I’m freaking out. I’M FREAKING OUT. A loud buzzer blared and the red light at the top of the baggage carousel flashed, signaling the end of the drop-off, and the beginning of an arduous hunt to get my suitcase back. Little did I know that, once I finally did get it, it would come back broken and damaged. 

Acceptance is the first step (but it’s not as bad as you think).

If you’re a frequent traveler, you may have already dealt with this before, or can expect to. This was the second time that an airline had lost my luggage—it’s bound to happen when you’re packing and unpacking multiple times a year. 

The good news is, you can almost be sure that the airline will find your luggage and get it back to you in a few days (granted, a few days can be an eternity without clean underwear or hair products, but it's doable). Airline companies know that they could end up owing you thousands of dollars in precious cargo, and have people whose only job is to track down your suitcase. 

Trust me, I was on the phone crying to an American Airlines baggage control agent who assured me of this fact, and I begrudgingly believed her. Shout out to Sandra.

Save EVERYTHING.

The key to getting your suitcase back (and recording if it comes back damaged) is to save everything. You need to be ready—I’m talking Elle Woods preparing for her first case after Warner broke up with her ready.

Step One: Before you leave the airport, immediately go to lost baggage control and file a claim. Once you’re there, they will ask for your flight details and baggage numbers (this is a good time to mention that you should always keep your baggage information—it’s usually on the sticker they paste onto the back of your passport). 

Unfortunately, even once you give them every shred of information you have, they’re still going to send you home and make you wait. Yes, you will feel defeated, but that’s okay. Patience, grasshopper.

Bust open the filing cabinet.

After three days, my suitcase finally made it to my front door. Only problem was, it was missing a wheel and had cracks running through it. Umm….WTF?

Step 2: Take pictures of everything and be sure to keep the delivery notice that came with the suitcase. By now, your detective folder should have: flight tickets, baggage numbers, the claim with the file reference number made at your arrival airport, the delivery notice, and pictures of the luggage. 

Airlines do not want to pay you for their mistakes, so be hot on your pursuit for reparation. Typically you have up to 45 days.
Send it off with a prayer.
This is where you’re actually going to have to use those organizational skills you bragged about on your resume. 

Step 3: Fill out a reimbursement form. Along with all the info mentioned above, it’s crucial to have this document filled out correctly, otherwise you run the risk of not getting a full reimbursement. You can find it on the airline website. Fill it out digitally or print and send it off by mail or fax with all your other docs. 

If you had any missing or damaged items, be sure to list those as well. You can even file for living costs for the days without your toiletries (yes, seriously). And, if you’re a total packrat and just so happen to have saved your suitcase’s receipt from when you bought it, you can apply to have its full cost compensated. 

If not, don’t expect the airline to reimburse you more than $150. It’s enough to get you a new suitcase (and a drink for the emotional distress).


NN
Nav.it
about 2 months ago

Spread Your Wings, Nav.igators—These Are the Cheapest Days to Fly

travel
money
If you’ve ever traveled anywhere, you know that just being in the airport is hassle enough. Waiting in line to check a bag, going through security, and herding in front of the gate like a bunch of cows isn’t exactly the best part about taking a trip. 

Then you remember how much you spent on the flight to get to your destin...
If you’ve ever traveled anywhere, you know that just being in the airport is hassle enough. Waiting in line to check a bag, going through security, and herding in front of the gate like a bunch of cows isn’t exactly the best part about taking a trip. 

Then you remember how much you spent on the flight to get to your destination, and it nearly ruins the entire vacation.

You could sulk about it, or you could actively find ways to save on your flight. Here’s how.

The cheapest day to fly is Wednesday.


Whether you’re escaping for a long weekend or heading out for weeks overseas, there seems to be one universal understanding when it comes to flights: leave on a Wednesday.

CheapAir reports that mid-week flights are the least expensive, with Wednesdays clocking in at nearly $60 less than Sunday ones. This goes for returning flights, too.

But not everyone has the luxury of taking time off of work to fly on a Wednesday, so if you can’t, consider your other, almost-as-cheap options. According to CheapAir, traveling on Tuesdays and Thursdays will save you almost $50.

Cheap flights depend on the time of year.


Sometimes flights just aren’t going to be cheap. Most of the time, summer travel will be pricey.

Investopedia suggests avoiding travel for most of the summer. But if this is your only time to get away, shoot for very early summer. As in, still May. Flights during the first two weeks of the month are 20 percent cheaper than those between Memorial and Labor Day.

There are also exceptions during the holiday season. Wednesdays are typically the cheapest day to fly, but the day before Thanksgiving is going to be packed and pricey. In general, Thanksgiving travel from Tuesday through Sunday is the most expensive. 

Try to leave with enough days for padding that you won’t be stuck in crowded airports or end up paying an entire week’s paycheck for the flight.

Non-holiday travel is actually dirt-cheap.


Flying during the holidays will always be expensive, but it all depends on where you go. Domestic travel will probably cost you more if you hit up snow-hater escapes like Florida and Hawaii, or snow-lover resorts in the mountains. But heading to non-touristy areas might offer better rates. 

For example, Europe in the winter is a great time to jump on cheap flights. Post-holiday flying (January through March) usually offers discounted rates because not a lot of people are traveling there during the winter. 

Sure, the cold might turn others away, but it’s a dream if you’re trying to avoid the hordes of tourists you’ll encounter during the warm season. Just pack layers.

Swipe to stay on top of dropping prices.


If you’ve got a destination in mind, sign up for alerts from your favorite flight apps or websites, like:

  • Hopper: This app will tell you when prices for your destination have dropped. You’ll also get alerts on the best time to buy and when to avoid getting tickets.
  • Airfarewatchdog: This site compares dozens of other flight sites, so you can get the cheapest flight without price-checking every place yourself.
  • Scott’s Cheap Flights: If you’re serious about optimizing your travel deals, this service is worth the $39 a year. You’ll get alerts for every deal available on international flights, including mistakenly discounted fares (which means you’re paying a fraction of the cost!).

Yes, you need a backup plan.


Not everyone can squeeze in leaving on a Wednesday to save a decent chunk of change. Whether it’s work or family obligations, sometimes you need to leave later in the week.

If that’s your sitch, Saturdays are still doable, especially for return flights. Many people want to optimize their time away and try to come back Sunday evenings, but traveling on a Saturday morning will save you a few extra dollars (the earlier the better), and you’ll give yourself a built-in recovery day.


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