Savvy Saturdays: Why Saving Now Is Important

It doesn’t take a lot of common sense to understand that the more money you save, the better off you’ll be financially. But saving can be hard. In fact, when you live some where like Los Angeles or New York where the cost of living is through the roof, it can seem damn near impossible.

When you’re living paycheck to paycheck, it can be hard to see beyond next week’s bills.

But know this: it’s not impossible to start saving now. Sometimes, all you need is a little mental motivation.

Think about it this way: if you’re living paycheck to paycheck right now, relying on the hope/idea that at some point you’ll snag that job or promotion that will elevate you to a spending status where you can afford to buy a new car or house, you might never get there. But if you start being savvy with your money now, you might not need to snag that pay bump to afford the things you dream of.

Why?

Because saving is a mindset.

Here’s another point to ponder: if you’re living paycheck to paycheck right now, and its not because rent takes up 75% of your income and the other 25% goes to groceries and debt, it means that you’re spending any leftover money you have every month on things that aren’t a necessity. Often, even in a 75/25 situation involving debt payments, there are still ways you can cut your costs. So if you haven’t already gotten out of the habit of spending every dime you own, what makes you think that having a fatter paycheck will remedy your excessive expenditures? Take a lesson from Kanye and realize that having millions (or billions!) doesn’t necessarily guarantee your financial security.

Instead, get into the saving mindset: always strive to live one step below your means.

Simply put, this means that if you live on an income where you can afford to go out twice a week, live with the mindset that you can only afford to go out once a week, pocketing the cash you save not spending an extra night out each week. If you want to save more money faster, you can get more drastic. Currently, I tell everyone I’m too poor to pay for valet parking, go out more than once every two weeks, and spend full price on a movie ticket more than once or twice a year. I’m not going to tell you how much I could afford, because honestly, I don’t even want to know. As long as I live in this mindset, I’m saving money. The second I “let” myself afford more, I don’t.

So if you’re not already in this line of thinking, start training your brain to think this way now. Why? Because you’d be amazed how much you can save up by saying no to a $5 coffee here, and a $20 movie there. You might discover that in a few years’ time, you have enough to pay for a new (or new to you) car, cash up front! Or, if you’re a big dreamer like me, a down payment on a house. ūüôā

So get savvy, savers!

-tlc

 

Making Personal Growth

I was speaking with my cousin today – a totally awesome dreamer and creative who is my same age and yet has accomplished so much more than I probably ever will – and we were discussing the pros and cons of work that is creatively satisfying (if not quite what you want to be doing) vs. work that is mundane yet stable. The conversation brought up a lot of insight as to what is most important: your immediate happiness, or your ability to satisfy your personal creative and financial needs while working towards eventually meeting your career goals.

The answer: It’s a toss-up, really. Both hold merits, and it likely just comes down to individual needs and specific job opportunities. But what the conversation really reinforced for me was the idea of personal growth.

No matter what you’re doing, make sure you’re doing it for you.

The obvious consensus here is that you should always be taking into account what you want to be doing with your life. Meaning, not just creative and career goals, but things you want to achieve for yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally. Hence, your personal growth. Any job you have or decide to take should lend itself in someway to helping you reach these goals, whether that’s through immediate exposure (i.e. being an assistant to someone who is doing what you want to do and who will mentor you), or through stable flexibility (i.e. a job that isn’t really what you want to do, but that allows you the flexibility to work on what you want to do in your downtime OR gives you enough of your week that you can focus on your passion as a sort-of side job).

And herein lies the dilemma and heartache, because which do you choose? There are risks to both; the first, which might be more creatively satisfying in the moment, may have you spending much of your creative energies focusing on that which does not directly help your own goals. The second will allow you to spend your creative energies how you wish, but without the guarantee that you will find a direct way toward meeting your career goals. Both provide risks and benefits. Perhaps the decision will not be up to you; perhaps you will only come across the opportunity for one or the other.

You will have the opportunity to choose one thing: to pursue your own work, always. Meaning that while there are plenty of stable jobs out there that you could pursue, you have the ability to¬†choose one that lends you the flexibility or opportunities you need to create the career you want. This might not be easy to find, but it’s worth the work and search.

Just some thoughts. Good luck on whatever your career endeavor may be.

-tlc

Why I’m Boycotting The Oscars This Year

In front of the screen, Hollywood seems¬†progressive, with its sexy TV shows and growing number of strong female leads. But if you truly dissect what your eyes are consuming, you’d find that things are a bit more problematic. Hollywood is years behind cultural standards in terms of social progression. And it’s even worse behind the screen, with many of the leadership roles, both on set and off, still predominantly filled by white men.

I’m not normally one to take a public stance on these issues. I usually don’t speak my mind in this way because I feel that I often don’t have the right perspective to do so – I do not face the same discriminations that¬†others do, and therefore don’t feel that it’s right that I assert my own opinions about struggles I know nothing about.

But now I feel I must say – and do – something. Even something as minuscule as not bothering to watch The Oscars this weekend. Why, when I’m not some Hollywood celebrity, when my viewership pretty much holds no weight? Because I do not wish to support a system that is, at its core, broken and refuses to acknowledge that it is so.

This extends beyond issues of racism, and my investment in the issue extends beyond that of the outspoken bystander. Though women get their fair half of Academy Award categories, sexism is rampant in Hollywood, and the issue of race in The Oscars points to an even more problematic Hollywood: one that still lives in social standards dripping with old school world views. While my single viewership might not count for anything, I do not wish to support a system that turns a blind eye to the fact that, in the year 2016, our stories of the world around us still abide by false depictions of white-washed life, of trope-filled minorities and female characters whose personalities are more determined by curves and surrounding men than by legitimate challenges and relatable struggles.

I’ve been lucky. My personal experience working in this industry has only brought me within solar rotation of some of the horribly sexist and/or racist people making their marks in Hollywood. I’ve worked for the good eggs, the rare nice guys you sometimes hear about in faint outlier stories. But I’ve heard horrific things, shocking things from friends – women who couldn’t get hired as set PAs because they weren’t “strong enough,” whose bosses made increasingly sexual remarks about their actions, or clothing, until finally, passes were made, etc. And these stories don’t even scrape the tip of the ice berg when you open the discussion to issues of race, sexuality, diversity, and inclusion behind the screen. Even when a show is led by a promisingly diverse cast, the writer’s room and production crew may not be so.

So my boycotting The Oscars is only a small step in raising my voice against a predominantly straight-white-male institution. Hollywood is first and foremost a financial pursuit and business endeavor, a creative machine second. I’m not sure if it will ever treat issues of race and minority as more than trendy subject matters unless more people – those with power, and consumers, like myself – step up and demand change. We need to get to a point where the Reys and the Finns are not some novel Disney dream, but a natural result of good writing and enthusiastic casting. We need to get to a point where the Academy hires Chris Rock to host The Oscars because he’s an awesome, funny guy, and not questionably because The Oscars would otherwise be “Too White”. We need to get to a point where LGBTQ creatives are equally represented in all fields.¬†We need to get to a place where it’s natural and easy to staff a writers room with more than one or two people of color and/or women.

The change won’t come while we continue to quietly consume – and subsequently support – a broken Hollywood. We need to speak out. We need to demand change. We need to put actions to our words to make it happen.

Check out this awesome NYTimes article about really cool people discussing their own experiences with broken Hollywood.

-tlc

An Open Letter To My Family About My Current Boyfriend, Netflix

Dear Mom and Dad,

I’ve met someone.

Yes, I know, he’s a rather – unconventional – boyfriend, but he’s nice and he’s always there for me. In fact, I like him so much I spend almost every evening with him! In a totally family-friendly way that I’m not embarrassed to tell you about. Don’t raise your eyebrows at me, mom. Get your mind out of the gutter.

Continue reading “An Open Letter To My Family About My Current Boyfriend, Netflix”

Musing Mondays: Why Now Is As Good A Time As Any

Start doing the things you dream about today. Yes, Googling “How to do [insert whatever it is you want to do]” counts as working towards your dream. Reward yourself.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my future lately, and what I want to do in that future. And though thinking about all of this has left me more questions than answers, I have figured out a couple of things: 1) The office 9-5pm (or for entertainment 9-6/7pm) is just not my scene, and 2) I want to travel and experience the world.

Okay, so I didn’t really really¬†just realize I hate working in an office and my desire to travel, but thinking about my future made me realize that these are things I should be pursuing now.

Why? Because why not? Why is now not as good a time as any other? As I get older, (hopefully) establish a stable career, (hopefully) start a family, I’ll only have more and more commitments. Down the road, when I get sick of renting (HA, already happened) and want to look into buying a home, I won’t have the freedom to spend (what little money I have) on travel that I do now. So why not? Sure, it means untangling a lot of logistical knots, sure it means trying to figure out an end plan for what to do/where to go when I get back stateside, but isn’t that worth it?

And I came to nearly the same conclusion about quitting the office lifestyle and going remote/freelance: Isn’t it worth buckling down now, building up work as a freelancer now, so that I can have the flexibility I need to focus on writing? Because the end goal is getting paid to write and stay home anyways, right? So why occupy all of my time at an office doing a job that won’t set me on the trajectory I’m looking for, when I can find work from home, and devote more time to writing. Sure, it means giving up a steady, stable, moderately cushy (for the likes of me) paycheck, but it also means the possibility of a more rewarding, bigger payout much sooner than possible when devoting my week days to an office.

This isn’t my big, public “I’m quitting my job” announcement post; I have starting formulating a short-term trajectory and plan to fulfill my travel dreams, and eventually transition to a remote work lifestyle. For now, I’m continuing to work and save up as much as I can. But I tell you all of this to say one thing:

Stop telling yourself no.

There will always be bumps, always be commitments that seem too important to set aside. As someone who grew up in the Midwest, raised under the mentality that a stable job and income was more important that pursuing a passion, I understand that it’s downright terrifying to give up the comfort of home, the safety of a close-knit family, and the familiarity of friends and a certain lifestyle to accomplish the things you’ve dreamt about doing. But you should do it anyways. Not because putting in the effort necessarily means you’ll be successful or accomplish what you set out to do, but because trying and failing is still more of a success than never trying at all. Don’t live your life in regret and full of wondering what might have been. Go out and do. You’ll be surprised where life will take you, and what you wind up doing might turn out to be something you had never even thought of, but that you love even more than your original dream.

Don’t put up walls–I don’t want to hear any excuses about why you can’t do something you want to do! Figure out how to make it possible! I’d love to know what you want to do, share it in the comments, and if I know of any resources that might be helpful, I’ll share them with you!

-tlc

Musing Mondays: Make America “Great” Again

In light of Trump missing the latest GOP debate, and because I recently watched the most terrifying video clip from CNN interviewing three adorably naive 18 year olds about why they’re voting for Trump, I thought I’d get a little political with you for a minute.

Normally, I try to avoid overtly political posts here, because this isn’t a blog that has a liberal or conservative agenda. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely have strong opinions about a lot of things, including politics, but this blog isn’t about politics. And frankly, I don’t take the time to keep up with every idiot who decides to run for president to really have a justifiably strong opinion to share with you. What I can tell you is this: Trump’s motto, his whole campaign platform, ‘Make America Great Again’ is wrong.

But Tasha, how can a campaign slogan, that states no facts, be wrong?

Well, let’s break it down here: ‘Make America Great Again’ has two connotations. First, it implies that America is not great. Okay, well you have me there. This is a completely unmeasurable assumption¬†based on opinion that can neither be confirmed nor denied. It is entirely possible that America is, in fact, not great.¬†However, ‘Make America Great Again’ also implies that there was, at one point, a time in which America was great. While this, too, is an entirely unmeasurable assumption with no solidified dates to point us to a time in which we can say, “Ahh, yes, I remember [insert designated date], America was great then,” we can break this down a little bit further.

Let’s start first by asking what we mean by ‘great’. What is great? When we say¬†America is great, to what are we referring? Are we discussing America’s financial success? The morale of the American population? America’s standard of living? America’s military dominance? Any combination of those things? As you can see, we’re already running into problems because there is simply no way to know what it is exactly that Trump’s campaign slogan is referring to. But, just for kicks, let’s try and ride this logic train all the way through to the station.

Let’s assume that ‘Make America Great Again’ is referring to America’s financial greatness. Seems logical enough, given that Trump is a business man who has made his fortune playing the capitalist game in corporate America. This assumption is further supported by the fact that much of Trump’s campaign has played into his successes in the private sector, distinguishing his experience running businesses from your average politician who only has experience, you know, running parts of the government.

So, when has America been financial great? Economics is a horridly depressing subject and way too complicated for me to understand and put into layman’s terms here, but for the sake of being simple, let’s guess. Are we talking about 1980’s during the era of Reaganomics, which are still highly esteemed by many conservatives but ultimately proved to be short-sighted and short-lived as the market fell in the 2000’s? ¬†Could we be discussing the Boomer economy of the 1950’s, which rode the money wave out of an era of war and accelerated invention into an era of blue collar jobs? How about the Roaring ’20’s–we all know how that ended. Some earlier time perhaps, not in the twentieth or twenty-first centuries? FUN FACT: America as a country has always been in debt, ever since the revolution. Google it. Thanks, Obama.

Okay, so if we’re not talking about America’s greatness as a fiscally responsible country, are we talking about America’s military dominance? Does that really make us great? Certainly it was great that we were able to help Europe (which had already done most of the work by the time we got there, fyi) beat Hitler. Phew, that certainly was a close one! But does it make us “great” that we’ve been single-handedly responsible for the military intervention and disruption of several governing states’ autonomies? America was universally founded upon one belief: We don’t like other people ordering us around and generally being all up in our business. I mean, we freak out the second we think our “secure” borders are at risk, to the point where we’re willing to look the other way while we let our president listen in on all of our phone calls. (I bet Bush has some pretty juicy secrets to share from it, too.) Are we great for being big whopping hypocrites? Most of these military interventions wind up blowing up in our faces, anyways. (Research Vietnam, or just watch the end of Charlie Wilson’s War.)

So if not military dominance, then what makes us great? I could go around and around discussing how every historical aspect of a specific period of time in America’s history is both good and bad, but I don’t want to bore you with too many generalizations*. Instead, I’ll let you in on a secret about a fallacy that many of us (including myself) have fallen prey to: There has never been a “Golden Era” of time in which America–or the world in general, for that matter–has been “great”. Every century, every decade, every year has its ups and downs, its different problems faced.

So don’t be victim to the naive–and frankly, prejudiced–view of the world that Donald Trump, and every politician tries to paint for you. And the end of the day, they’re all just salesmen trying to sell you different products in the same ways. Take the time to wade through all of the bullshit.

*I realize I have not provided you with any facts here to back up my claims. The truth is, I didn’t want to take the time. This isn’t a scholarly article. I’m just trying to get to a singular point here. But if you’re really dying for some facts, feel free to Google anything and everything that I’ve talked about here. You’ll be much smarter than me by the time you’re through, and definitely a more well-informed voter come the next election. And if you find any glaringly wrong generalizations, comment below. I’d love to be more informed, myself.

-tlc

5 Things To Get Going With Your Goals

I came back to Los Angeles last week a little bit overwhelmed with the possibilities and potential trajectories of my life in the upcoming year. There are a lot of places I’d like to go, things I’d like to do, and accomplishments I’d like to achieve. It was all a giant blurry mess inside my head, and trying to sort out what was priority and what was fluffy back-burner pipeline dreams threw me into a lot of gray area. I started questioning what my true career goals were and what I really needed in order to be happy and enjoy my life on the daily. I realized something about myself that I had never really considered or allowed myself to fully embrace: I have some burning entrepreneurial ambition that I’ve never truly explored. And I also realized that what I really want is not a specific career title, but rather a career lifestyle. It kind of blew my mind when I came to this realization.¬†Once I knew this, I suddenly had a new-found energy to face the bumpy, unknown road ahead. I created my list of goals and rules for myself, and I’ve started tackling them with a zest I didn’t know I had. You’ve probably seen some of my posts on Instagram about the healthy lifestyle change I’m making through ID Life, but that’s not even the half of it.

I want you to find your own zest, too! Maybe you’re rethinking your own goals, or wanting to renew your efforts on some old goals, or maybe you don’t even have any goals yet–that’s fine. It’s important to accept where you are and know that the only way to fail is if you don’t let yourself try. Here are five things that I’ve been doing that have really helped me start off with a bang and stay on track:

  1. Write Everything Down–I’ve noticed over the past few months that not only is it immensely helpful to clear the mind of overwhelmingly cluttered thought by writing everything that is distracting me down, but that actually hand-writing these things is very therapeutic. When I’m working on a writing project, I always start with pen and paper now. The only exception I’ve made for this is my list of goals, rules, and general thoughts on my short-term life plans. Those I keep in a typed document on my phone, where I can reference them any time and they don’t take up physical space, which always makes me feel clutter if I feel that it’s something I can’t lose and can’t file away. BUT, before you can make such a document for yourself, it’s best to brainstorm, word-vomit (whatever you need to do to get those thoughts out of your brain), etc, on a sheet of paper, first!
  2. Mantras–Okay, I was definitely one of those people who thought mantras were super cheesy and weird. Even in yoga class, when the instructor would have us do the “Omm” I would feel so silly. But I’ve been doing a home practice for a while now and have started incorporating phrases into my daily routine. When I give myself permission to say these mantras and really think about how they can apply to my day,¬†and how I can incorporate them into my actions, I find I go about the rest of my day with more vigor, and I often do just what I tell myself in my mantra, sometimes without even realizing it.
  3. Perspective–Often, new years resolutions fail because people come at them with negativity. I.e. “I’m going to lose 30lbs,” “I’m going to quit smoking,” “I’m going to read more because I don’t read enough,” etc, etc. It’s great to have a desire for self improvement, but when you come at it from the angle that where you are right now is a problem that needs to be fixed, you set yourself up for failure. This is because you already view your current state of self as a failure, so when the results you’re looking for don’t come when you expect them, when you get impatient that things aren’t happening more quickly, you’ll view your unchanged¬†status as a failure, and not a success for simply taking the effort to make a change. Instead, approach it as a transformation: you are building upon yourself. Reading more is an investment in your mind, getting in shape or beating your addiction is an investment in your health, etc. Seeing your lifestyle changes this way will allow you to give yourself recognition every time you make an effort towards achieving that change.
  4. Prioritize–There are some things that are always going to need done in your life: cooking, cleaning, paying the bills, etc., and there are some things that always wind up on the back burner because of this, usually the things you actually want to do. Obviously you can’t ignore your bills or stop eating, so instead, find a way to streamline these things that works for you. Maybe that means you put your bills on autopay, or take two hours out of one day each week to plan out and/or cook your meals for the coming week. Maybe you do one chore a day so that the dirt and grime doesn’t build up and you don’t wind up spending precious free time turning housework into a weekend event. This might not solve the time needs for all of the adult responsibilities you have. But find a way to streamline the most important things (the ones that will cause a shitstorm if they don’t get done) and shrug off the rest. You’ll be dusting for the rest of your life. You need to travel, write, build, research, learn–whatever it is you want to do–now.
  5. Relieve–Even after you’ve written down all of your mind clutter, given yourself a positive mantra, allowed yourself to accept where you are, and prioritized your responsibilities, you’ll probably be feeling overwhelmed or anxious at the impending changes to your routine. It’s a lot to keep track of, even if its something as simple as adding 30 minutes of exercise to your day. You need to remember to give yourself breathing room; find a place or a time each week (maybe each day if you need it) to get out of your routine bubble and just let yourself be. Maybe that’s meditating in your room, maybe its a stroll around the block or in a nearby park; my personal weekly relief is church. This is some place or activity that you don’t view as a commitment or obligation. It’s a reward that you freely give to yourself because you know you need it. Even if you don’t feel like you deserve it, don’t feel like you’ve done enough this week to give up the time for it, allow yourself time for relief. It will help refresh your energy and renew your determination to achieve your dreams!

I would love to hear about what you’ve done to achieve your goals. Share in the comments if you have any great things to add to this list! Let’s conquer 2016 and be the best we can be.

-tlc