Stop Putting it Off… Get Financially and Physically Fit

Cartoon courtesy of davewalkercartoons.com

Cartoon courtesy of davewalkercartoons.com

Readers, I’ve got an ugly admission to make to you today. It’s finally time for me to come clean about a little vice of mine. I love to procrastinate. I really do. There’s nothing like not doing what you should be. I relish my lazy moments of nothingness, and although I’m not exactly proud of this character flaw, it’s been a part of me for years.

It started years ago, with me putting off writing papers in high school. My skill at procrastinating only improved in college, and at this point, I’d consider myself a master of the art. However, there’s one thing that I’m making a concerted effort not to procrastinate these days: working out.

Hitting the gym is easily my favorite adult activity to procrastinate. It’s so easy to sit on the couch, especially with the excuse of blogging, instead of walking down the street to the gym for a workout.

Strangely, through the years I’ve learned that the more I work out, the more I’m in control of my personal budget, finances, and life in general. It’s an unusual relationship, but there is balance in my life between my bank accounts and my commitment to the gym. Going to the gym gives me the motivation and confidence to deal with my life, especially financially.  When I take responsibility for my health, I do so in every aspect of my life, from the physical to the financial and beyond.  As a result, the more in shape I am, the more in shape my money situation is. The less in shape I am… well, you get the idea.

Knowing this, I’ve committed to my personal and financial fitness. I’ve been hitting the gym at least 3 times per week consistently and dealing with financial challenges immediately, instead of putting them off. Hopefully I’ll reap two excellent results of this habit: it will this increase my bikini-readiness for the spring/summer, and will also help keep me motivated to stay on my personal path to financial freedom.

What do you think readers? Do you find that working out helps motivate you to take charge of your money? Do you think there is a connection between the two or is a bunch of malarky? 

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Chickvesting Inspiration

I’ve had some inquiries from readers about the title of this blog. Why Chickvestor? Why not Dudevestor? Or maybe the completely politically correct Personvestor? Does it have to be sexist? Why target women over men?

My response is simple: experience.

Growing up, I watched my parents struggle with their finances. I knew there was something they were missing that I needed to know, so I began educating myself at a young age. By the time I was in middle school I had subscribed to Motley Fool and began tracking the stock market. I even asked my parents for stock to start my portfolio for my fourteenth birthday.

Once I entered my twenties, and I started trying to have conversations about money with friends. I noticed immediately that my male friends were far more willing to engage in conversations about money and to talk about their challenges and successes. They were more open about their salaries and financial goals, and had more financial knowledge. Meanwhile, my female friends seemed far more guarded, and avoided talking about money as if it was impolite or taboo. On the occasions when I managed to engage them in conversation, I often learned that they were in debt, or having trouble managing their money. I even found that some of my friends didn’t have basic budgeting skills or financial knowledge (“What’s a 401k?”), and in extreme cases didn’t even know how much money they were making! I found it troubling, and I knew that there had to be a way to reach these women and help them pave their own financial road. I had the knowledge, but I was missing the necessary platform to reach my audience. I decided that I had to create a safe, friendly place where anyone could access financial advice that was interesting, entertaining and informative to help empower people through knowledge.

Hence, The Chickvestor was born.

As a side note, I know we are all on our own life and financial paths, and that we all have varying degrees of expertise, knowledge, and experience. To all the financially savvy women and men out there, please know that I support you and appreciate your support! You are awesome just the way you are the title of this blog isn’t intended to discriminate or make any assumption about you. Rather, it’s meant to inspire you and help you through the financial journey you are taking each and every day. No matter where you are on your journey, if you need help, have questions, or would like to read a post on a specific topic, please comment and I’ll be sure to get back to you with the information that you need!

P.S. Thanks to Ali Rosenblum for the inspiration to write this post!

College: The Aftermath

"College"

I remember a lot about college. Where to begin; the parties? The classes? The dating scene? It may not have been quite as wild as portrayed in “Animal House,” but I still remember it like it was yesterday. The one thing I don’t remember is accumulating all of my student debt. Sure, I had an academic scholarship and a job, but I still managed to accumulate nearly $20,000 in student loan debt from my undergraduate degree. Luckily, I wised up before I began grad school, and accepted a fully subsidized fellowship for my masters degree. Nonetheless, I’ve managed to pay down my student loan debt, and plan to have a $0 balance by the time I turn 30.

How did I manage it you ask? The truth is that it hasn’t been easy. I committed myself to pay more than the minimum each month, no matter what. I also made it a point to take overtime work, and committed at least part, if not all, of my extra income to my student loans. Most importantly, no matter what was happening, I stuck to my plan!

This is not to say I neglected my other responsibilities. I still saved, contributed to my retirement, paid my bills, paid off credit cards, bought a home, made some investments, and even did a bit of traveling. I made this all work out by creating a balanced budget and sticking to it, even when times got tough. You can do it too. Create a plan, commit yourself, and make it happen!

New Year, New You!

2013-010

Photograph: http://www.alamy.com

It’s a new year, and that means a new you! It is certainly a time for new beginnings, and you may have set some goals for yourself this year aside from the totally predictable (and forgettable) “work out regularly.” While I’m an avid fan of getting my sweat on, I like to make sure my finances are also in good shape. So I’ve made up my own to-do list for 2013:

  1. Align bills to all be due around the same time. This way, they can all be paid at once, saving time.
  2. If you haven’t already, set up your bank account online and pay your bills digitally. This will save the following: time managing paperwork, money spent on stamps and envelopes, trips to the post office, etc.
  3. Compare shop insurance companies and utilities. Maybe I’m paying $150 for cable, internet and phone to Company A, but I can switch to Company B and receive the same service for $100. Maybe I can’t. But I’ll never know unless I ask.
  4. Haggle. Sure, this isn’t possible at say… a department store. But I bet you can talk down the quote the salesman gave you on that new refrigerator. Women are notorious for being too intimidated to haggle. Compare shop, educate yourself, and do it!
  5. Save. It can be as simple as a starting with $1 this week.  This 52 Week Money Challenge , brought to my attention by a reader (thanks Ali!), is trending for the new year.
  6. Invest in yourself. Take class (or a few) to improve your skills and improve your workplace marketability. Update your resume. Join a professional or hobby-related association. Network with other like minded individuals. Get new business cards. Market yourself!
  7. DIY. Yes, I said it. Do it yourself. My fellow HGTV fans may likely already embrace this concept. There’s nothing like the feeling of completing a project you know how to do, instead of delegating it out and paying someone else to do it. Case in point: I just finished painting my living room. Could I have hired someone to do it? Sure. Was it a little bit of a pain in the butt? Yes. But did I feel amazing at a job well done when it was finished? You bet.
  8. Buy what you need. Purchasing random items that catch your eye can leave your wallet feeling light at the end of the month. Try to skip the impulse buys and use those dollars for something else.
  9. Cook. Yes, you’re tired and it’s just so easy to order in or head out to eat. But remember all that those nights out to eat can put more of a dent in your budget than you realize.

What’s on your to-do list for 2013? Leave a comment below to share your ideas with the rest of the Chickvesting community!