balance · finance · money

Libre/Libra.

libra 8 17 17At the start of the year, I participated in a weekend-long “intention setting” meditation retreat with a few friends.  One of the major themes of the work was about sussing out our own optimal balance between our masculine and feminine aspects (according the “traditional” meanings of such, as in yin/yang, active/receptive, etc.).  Through some of this work, I got to see that my “masculine” or active-in-the-world self was much less developed than it needed to be if I were going to step into fuller power in my life.

In fact, both aspects of myself were going to have to grow precipitously to reflect who I really intend to be in the world, but as you might imagine from knowing me, my “feminine” side—my soft, emotional, reflective side—tends to take the reigns, so my masculine, active, forging side would have to be just a bit larger to keep things in the proper balance for me.  At least, at this time.

When I was talking with my mentor on Friday, regaling her with my pure and epic delight over all my new financial discoveries and activities, she said that the first “hit” she got on this change was that I was engaging my masculine side.  The “finance” side of things has historically, traditionally, stereotypically been the man’s world, and, indeed, there’s a voice within me (faint though it is) that says all this writing about finance is not what people (my readers) want to read.

That’s Class-A bullshit, but it’s there.

Whatever it is that “my readers” (all 12 of them!) want to read, they’ll vote with their clicks—toward or away from my blog, but it’s my job here, as always, to relate the truth of what’s happening in my spiritual and physical realm.

And presently, that’s the burgeoning, riveting, catalyzing world of personal finance.

J. joked that my bookshelf walls will be one self-help and the other personal finance.  Because, yes, much of the non-fiction I’ve read in the last few years is women-authored “get bigger” books.  Well, isn’t part of that bigger world one that includes shares and percentages?  It is.  And it feels perfectly aligned with the trajectory of my books, thoughts, progress to be stepping into this new realm of money.

No, it doesn’t feel “feminine” — but maybe part of my growth is to show that a lady can play, too.

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excitement · finance · learning

“You know nothing, Jon Snow.”

4.13.18

On Wednesday, I read an article online about investing and the author suggested a book title.  I went to Amazon, found the book, but poked around the “Other Suggested Titles” section and saw one by Tony Robbins — yes, motivational speaker Tony Robbins wrote a finance book, two in fact!

There was something about this intersection of financial and personal growth that appeals/appealed to me much more than a dry, or avid, or Greek-speak, or “for dummies” book on money.  This is ALL NEW TO ME, and along the way, it would be nice to have someone who’s enthusiastic about the information, but also espouses values that align with mine: personal development, gratitude, giving.

So on Wednesday, I used my Audible “credit” (as in, you paid $15/mo for this) to buy the audio book of Money: Mastering the Game, and started listening.

On Thursday, I bought the hard copy, now at my bedside!

I am LOVING this.  I am loving all the new information, trying to understand how these things are working, feeling excited to open the door to a world that not only felt closed off to me, but that I didn’t even know was there.

I’m brushing the mean and meager concepts at this point, reading a bit, asking J the difference between a mutual fund and an index fund, reading more.  I love Robbins’ way of writing/speaking in his book: he curses(!), yet he also doesn’t presume that I, the reader, know anything about personal finance and doesn’t write his explanations in a righteous, pedantic manner.

This. Feels. Accessible.

And what he stresses again and again is that the “game” has been somewhat written to be overcomplex so that you rely on people to do it for you who take a huge chunk of your earnings.  He’s not anti-Wall Street, and explicitly says so in the book, but I’m in the “debunking the financial myths” section, so he’s certainly focused right now on not giving away your power because it’s all too much to follow.

He’s psyched by what he’s saying.  He’s psyched by the possibilities for the reader.  Which is to say, he’s psyched for me.

And, damnit, so am I.

(NOTE: when googling Tony Robbins just now, up come articles that say he’s embroiled in MeToo controversy.  I just want to acknowledge I’ve seen that.)

awareness · finance · money

Cashing In.

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In a series of exceedingly sexy tasks during my Spring Break last week, I took my car in for its 100K service, went to the dentist, and, later in the week, went to the periodontist (gum guy).  (I also got a hair cut, a wax, and a pedicure, so, you know, sexy.)

At the visit with the periodontist, I told him that my last dentist referred me to one, whom I’d seen about 2 years ago, and he was extremely intent that I needed near-immediate gum surgery to restore/delay (slight) gum recession on my two lower teeth.

Well, gum guy, how much will this run me?  Well, with your dental insurance, it will cost about $2,400.  Ah huh.  Okay, well, thanks for the intel, I’ll start saving up and when I have that amount, I’ll come on back.

And so it’s been.  I began saving a little a month toward that surgery in a Capital One savings account until I paused last Fall when I changed jobs.  I didn’t know what my new benefits would cover, and now I had an FSA account through work, so let’s just keep that $1,100 in savings and wait til I’m ready.

In December, I figured I was, called up that periodontist to schedule the surgery… and then had one of my financial ladies monthly meetings.  I told them about the upcoming surgery and how I was going to split the 2 teeth over the change of the calendar year so that my dental benefits would cover more.

No! one declared, eyes wide.  She’d had that surgery and it was an incredible amount of recovery time, there’s no way I could do it on a Friday and go up to the mountains on Saturday for New Year’s.

Ugh, really?  Yeah, it’s best to do them both at once.

Okay, so I cancelled that appointment (had a great time in Tahoe), and considered that I would do the surgery over my summer break.

Well, I switched dentists and saw this one for the first time last week.  With her fingers in my mouth, she was saying that their periodontist was great and that the gum surgery wasn’t traumatic.

Not traumatic? I replied, aghast. They tear a chunk out of the roof of your mouth and staple it to your gums!

No, no, she said.  We don’t really do that anymore.  Our guy has different techniques now.  You should see him.  And so I did, last Friday.

This guy agreed that the old way was barbaric and awful to heal, so they have a new procedure (using cadaver tissue…) that is much less invasive and much easier to heal.  He also said that, yeah, I could do the surgery, but it certainly wasn’t imminent and we will do a “watch and wait” and I’ll come back in the Fall.

Hm… okay, well, how much would this one cost anyway?  About the same.

Okay, so my FSA this school-calendar year all went to therapy (oy), so I’ll have to wait for it to re-up in August, so it won’t be until next summer when I do the surgery if I do it at all.

So… what do I do with this $1,100 that’s been sitting in savings?

WELL (and here’s my whole point!), in a blog post or many to come, I will describe to you the mind-altering/shattering revelation of J’s explaining “inflation” to me last Saturday.  It has exPLOded my brain to realize that the happy-joy-joy I receive from adding $.07 to my Dental Savings each month is a growth-rate that is FAR BELOW INFLATION, so that what looks like $1100 today will go way less far next Summer.

HOLY. SHIT.

So, in an effort to end this blog quickly and get off to work, I will say this summary:

I did a BLIZZARD of research in the last 4 days, discovered what a CD is, and have moved that dental money into a 12-month CD.  This means that I can’t touch it for a year, but I don’t want or need to, and that my money will make a LEEETLE bit more in interest than in the Capital One account, though it still won’t match inflation.

There’s a lot to come here about all the mind-blowing info I feel like I’m just opening up, but the general idea is this:

I have been saving $$ diligently for years.  I have been so STOKED about those seven cent increases each month.  I have felt adult and pleased and competent.  AND I HAVE BEEN MISSING OUT.

I’m so f’ing excited by this, I have to tell you.  I have opened more accounts in the last 4 days than I have in the last 10 years, and there is more (way more) to come.

Money, work for me better while I sleep, while I drive to work, while I dig plaque from receding gums.

I am f’ing psyched.

 

goals · music · procrastination

O|M

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About a decade ago, I worked for a Jewish non-profit in San Francisco.  I was a program assistant, so I got to sit in on the Professional Development seminars that I bought the bagels for.  One of these PDs was on program development: there are a hundred ways to do anything, but what is your goal?  Thus, the facilitator introduced the O|M method.

O|M stands for Outcome|Method, and also appeals to the hippie-dippy present in all Jews–well, maybe the Bay Area ones!  On a sheet of paper, draw a T chart with Outcome on one side and Method on the other.  Chances are for each goal you want to accomplish, there’s only one outcome, maybe two, you’d like to achieve.  Once you’ve written that down, go at it! on the right side.

Every and any method you can think of to accomplish this goal, write it down!  Don’t be shy about outlandish ideas; that’s what this process is here to help facilitate: think outside your own box, beyond your preconceptions and doubts and judgments.

However.

Once you’ve generated this list, you need to choose a Method.  And this idea pivots my thoughts today to the “SMART” choices acronym that has been cropping up in my sphere–first Deepak, then financial articles.  Although there is some debate about the wording, here’s my approximation of what Deepak said:

S: Stretch more than I can reach

M: Make everything Measurable

A: Agreement with my inner self and those around me

R: Record my progress!

T: Time limits for acting and getting a result.

It does not matter if my Outcome is to play “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” on the piano by Christmas.  It does not matter if my Method is to practice 3 times a week.

If I do not have a Measurement for smaller actions or a Time limit for taking such actions, I will procrastinate… and I will achieve nothing.  Except self-derision.

Someone said recently, Goals without Action are Wishes.  (And to quote a dear friend, “If wishes were horses, then hobos would ride”!)

I do have this goal.  But I do not have a method that has yet been actionable.  I haven’t had a plan — I haven’t had a method.  So what I think I’ll do is to open my brain to the right column, brainstorm, write down any ideas realistic or un- and help myself overcome just even the very first hurdle.

 

Because surely, if you’re like me, that first one is the highest.

 

shakespeare · TEACHING · uncertainty

V is for…

4.10.18

When I was 16 years old, my girl friend Tracey and I went to the midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  Neither of us were too familiar with the movie—it was my first time seeing it ever—but we knew it was a little odd, like us, and a little verbotten.

When we arrived at the theater, the ticket taker outside took ours in hand and gave us a long, hard look.  He then announced to the hearing of all in the vicinity: You’re virgins, aren’t you?

We. Almost. Died.

Firstly, how on earth could he tell that from looking at us?  Omigod is that something people can SEE??  Secondly, what on earth does that have to do with seeing a cult film??

“Um… what?”

It’s your first time here, isn’t it?

“Ohhh… well, yes.”

I thought so, he concluded.  And proceeded to take a blue face-paint pastel and DRAW GIANT V’S ON OUR FOREHEADS  !!!  so that everyone else would also know we were “virgins.”  Immediately as we stepped into the dim of the theater, my friend and I vigorously scrubbed the V from our faces, bathed in darkness to hide the vicious red creeping upon them.

Yesterday was my first time teaching Shakespeare.

While the opening of my first Macbeth lesson plan—my “Vegas Moment” to quote Teach like a Champion—went wonderfully, as we came to the actual reading of the text, that “out of my depth” feeling suddenly swelled.  Oh god, their eyes are glazing. Quick! What do I do?

Well, first off, it was the end of that class period.  So I get to reapproach it all today.  And secondly, it is my first time.  I am inexperienced, awkward, Shakespeare’s elbow’s on my hair.

I’m stoked that my opening Vegas moment went so well (we created “fortune teller/cootie catchers” to illustrate the role of prophesy in all decisions if we knew what was going to come of us), and my students were engaged, curious, creative, and laughing.  They got the point of the exercise, and its relationship to the play.

But lord have mercy, today I go at it again.

I’ve taken enough Shakespeare survey classes to know how to read it at a college level, to read it independently, to sneak peaks at the modern English just to check anyway, because hello, Shakespeare.  But I do not know how to teach a 14-year old how to read it or how to translate it so that an 8th grader will actually care.

Yet.

I know I’ll go at it again.  I’ll walk into the classroom with blue smudges across my forehead, feeling a little gangly, a little uncertain of what parts feel good and what don’t.

But today, I’ll do it just a step to the right…;)

 

action · goals · real estate

One Foot, Two Foot

4.9.18

On Saturday, I attended the First-Time Home Buyer’s workshop put on by the San Francisco housing department.  It’s one of the 2 pre-requisites to becoming eligible for their Below-Market Rate (BMR) units, and in the workshop I learned a number of tools, was dizzied by “math in public,” and was familiar with a number of concepts.  But the most important thing I learned was: I do not want to buy a house! . . .

What I realized sitting in that workshop was that buying a BMR (or winning their lottery once I’m in the pool) would keep me in a relatively small box.  I’d be required to live in that unit… forever.  Or if don’t want forever, then I sell but I won’t make a profit because it’s kept at a BMR rate for the next person.

All this to say, I’d be locked in to the life that I have now, when I have no idea what my life may be later.  That condo on Lake Street that brought me into this whole process altogether?  Well, it’s a 1 bedroom.  If I marry and have 2 kids, as I do intend to do, well, that won’t work at all.  In fact, it’s against the program’s rules to have more than 2 people living in it.

It’s a great option if my life were to stay the same size for 30 years.  But my hope and intention is that it will become much, much bigger.  And so this option is likely not the right one for me.  I don’t mind paying the $900/month rent that I have right now (yes, that’s insanely cheap for Bay Area standards, yet perhaps insanely costly by others’) and continuing to save up my money.

Because what I realized is that while I don’t want to buy a BMR, and I don’t want to buy a single-family home, I do want to buy income-producing properties.  I want to own a unit I can rent out, I want someone else to pay down my mortgage, I want to amass some land, some wealth, and realistically I cannot do that if I put every penny of my savings into the “American Dream.”

Forgive me if this blog is dry to you (don’t worry, there’s a HEAP of emo, relationship, back-in-an-“it’s complicated”-phase update to be written), but I do think it’s important to honor that my vision is changing.  My intentions are changing.  I’m honing in more specifically on what I want in life, and how on earth all the hard work I do every day can support that.

I do not want to blindly go through life, aimless, without goals or actions to support them.  I want my days to support my life, not drip from it.  In order to achieve that, I must learn, I must sit in 6-hour workshops and understand what a “cap rate” is.  I must invent my path.  And part of that is sharing with you the minutiae of real estate acquisition;)

 

family · prosperity · travel

Suicide Bird.

4.4.18

This is the fictional band name my mom used to describe the musical acts she doesn’t like on the Colbert show.  (HA!)  We were on the phone yesterday and again today about my summer plans and particularly how they might overlap with hers… as we’ve attempted for many years to no avail.

We’ve made some small trips together—to Sedona, and many times her visiting me in San Francisco or me her in NYC—but over the last few years, particularly as I have summers off now, we’ve tried to formulate a plan to go abroad together.  Neither of us have been to “The Continent” (though she’s been to the British Isles twice).

About 2 years ago, we tried to make a plan to go on this trip throughout Italy, but my job wasn’t pleased about my taking days off near the beginning of the school year, so we had to drop it.  Then last summer, I was switching schools and didn’t have the travel funds.  Which brings us to this year: Now that I’ve confirmed my summer job/professional development, I have some “extra” funds — and Molly Wanna Vacation.

When we spoke yesterday, she was very hesitant about confirming anything.  Which felt very typical.  I began to feel a little despairing of ever getting to go on a “real” vacation with her.  She’s turning 70 this year, I just had 5 years cancer-free—it felt like a momentous year for us to do something fabulous.

But, I’m learning, not everybody has the money to do something fabulous.  Or at least, a) what I consider fabulous, and b) when I want to do it.

It feels a little snobby to realize that things I want to do in life are out of reach for some people I love (especially when for so long I was the decliner); but it also feels like a wake-up call, or at least a vibrating phone alarm.  It’s not snobby to want nice things (fabulous things), and my feelings aren’t borne out of judgment (believe me, I’ve pushed into my feelings to root out that truth) — my feelings are just simple acknowledgement of the reality of my current situation and of others’.  And sometimes, those do not align.

Sometimes those with whom I’d love to adventure with aren’t available.  Sometimes that’s due to limitations of time, sometimes money, sometimes interest.  And so I’m left with the open question of “Who’s Next?”

Who are the people I’ll need to meet who can join me in adventures that are feasible AND of interest to us both?  (As clearly not every person will want to accompany me to SF Opera’s CarTUNE afternoon where they’ll screen old Looney Tunes that have an opera reference.  “Kill the Wabbit” anyone?!)

My mom and I spoke again this morning after she had some time to process, and it’s starting to seem that a “real” vacation to Europe is possible for her, for which I’m exceedingly grateful (it’s the rare 70-year old who will readily come up with “Suicide Bird”!).

But there will be times when I can’t have my cake and eat it, too — sometime soon, I may have to take my cake to go.