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. 🙂

So get savvy, savers!

-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

How I’m Making Better Changes in 2016 (And You Should, Too)

I don’t know about you, but 2016 has been off to an interesting start. Not to go into too much detail, but 2015 ended with a not-so-great bang, and though I’ve enjoyed my 2016 so far (I got to explore Seattle and part of Portland with my adorable nephews!) I haven’t been too enthusiastic about it. BUT, I am determined! The past couple of years have been a bit of a wander for me; I’ve jumped head-first into a new city and industry that I knew nothing about ahead of time, and I’ve learned to make things work. But I’ve spent enough time simply letting things happen and “going with the flow” (Not that either of those things are bad; the first rule to being happy in life is learning that nothing is truly in your control). This year is about taking initiative and taking steps towards finding what goals matter most to me, and then reaching those goals. And maybe I can help you reach your goals, too.

How? Well, for starters, after reading my last post my good friend Joel sent me a great article about making goals and resolutions vs. making rules, and the success rate of each. Check out the article here, it makes some great points!

So I am making some rules for myself. I sat down this afternoon and wrote up a quick list of rules I want to implement into my daily routine over the course of the next couple of months, and then a wrote up a list of general goals for the year so that when I’m ready to create and implement new rules, I can go back to my list and stay focused on the things I most want to accomplish this year. I’m keeping all of this on my phone, as I’ve realized that as much as I love pen and paper, I feel very disorganized having random sheets and lists lying around my room, and eventually I lose them, anyways. I also didn’t want to type it up on my computer, as it would likely get lost in my documents folder and I would never look at it again. This way, with both my rule list and my goal list on my phone, I have them with me whenever I want to look at them, and they don’t take up space or make me feel cluttered or overwhelmed.

I also started off small, making a list of maybe 5-6 rules total for me to implement gradually over the course of the next month so as not to overwhelm myself. That’s also why I created a goal list; 5-6 simple rules will not get all of my goals completed, but as I successfully implement my rules, I can create more that will eventually help me reach my end goal.

I’m also changing my outlook this year. So often, I find that I fail at reaching the goals I create for myself because I expect to find success or completion before I’ve even begun. I don’t like the way I look in a sports bra and yoga pants while I’m working out, so I stop. I don’t have the knowledge or creativity to generate viral quality content, so I stop producing. I stop publishing. The first three pages of my current writing project suck, so I quit working on it. Etc. Etc.

This year, I’m looking at it as a work in progress. If this blog and its readership has taught me anything, it’s that working through the tough, embarrassing, often public mishaps that come with being new to something and learning as you go is the only way to find success at something. Rome wasn’t built in a day, Harry Potter was not the first story that J.K. Rowling wrote, and every successful business person has failed first. So you get the privilege of seeing this blog change before your eyes, and maybe seeing me change, too!

I want to hear about your goals for this year, and if you need help making rules of your own, give me a shout out. You know where to find me.

-tlc

A Blog Post: Thanksgiving Edition!

November has been a whirlwind month. Crazy things have happened. It’s as if I had my summer vacation in the fall (September and October) and November is my August wake-up call back into the heavy school-year grind that was my life for 20 years or so. With everything that has happened, I’ve got a lot to reflect on, and a lot to be thankful for, so in the spirit of the holiday, I thought I’d share some of those thoughts with you.

  1. Finding my way in LA
    • I’m not going to say that I have LA figured out, nor am I going to say that I’ve successfully infiltrated the entertainment industry, because if there is only one thing I’ve learned in my year and a half of being out here, it’s that this town and this industry is one crazy roller coaster full of ups and downs and failures and small successes. I will say though that so far I have never felt like my time being out here has been a waste. I’ve learned so much about the human condition, relating to people, subcultures and pop culture and the fight for social equality and the American mindset vs. international POVs and these are all things that a little Dorothy like myself couldn’t have learned if I’d stayed back in Kansas.
  2. Being Employed
    • I normally don’t talk about my own personal views on politics or religion here because I want this place to feel as inclusive as possible, and I often find that once a person knows your stance on something, they peg you with 1,001 misconceptions and stereotypes that they hold against whatever that view point is, whether it is actually true to your own person or not. I’m sure I’m even guilty of doing it–it’s almost second nature for people to do this; we love placing people and things into categories. However, on this one thing I must say that I do believe in God, and–though I won’t say that I somehow magically am awarded jobs because of this (because that’s ridiculous)–I do wholeheartedly believe that my trust in something greater than myself has kept me sane and financially afloat. Whether you are religious or not, I do believe that life has a tendency to work itself out, if you are patient, discerning, and don’t panic. I am very thankful for that.
  3. Midwest Roots
    • There are a lot of things I find wrong about the conservative mindset that you find all across the Midwest and into the South. But if there is something I’m very grateful for, it’s being raised surrounded by Midwesterners. Though the world is small in the heart of America, the heart of America is as big as the world. These people are the kindest, most generous, and most open that I have ever come across. Being raised with what I like to call, ‘Midwest Manners,’ is one of the greatest assets I have, and I’m very, very thankful for it.
  4. Friends
    • Okay, so everyone gives this almost expected answer at the Thanksgiving dinner table. Sometimes I roll my eyes because it’s so generic. But this year, after moving out to a huge city where I knew practically no one, I truly do have to say that I am so grateful for the friends that I have met and clung to. They have made living in LA durable and worth it. They have taught me the valuable lesson that it is always, always about the relationships you have in your life, not the material items or status or career. You could literally be living in the absolute most beautiful and perfect city ever, and if you had no friends there you would still be miserable. Life fact.
  5. Family
    • The other generic eye-roll answer, but I love them so much and am so grateful for my parents, siblings, and nephews. Everyone needs unconditional love in their life, and I have a lot of it. So very very thankful for that.
  6. You, Dear Reader
    • Last, but certainly not least, I am thankful for YOU! Though most of you probably also fall into one of the two bullets above, it means a lot to me that you take the time to read these posts every week. Though it may not always seem like it, I put a lot of thought and time into what I write and share with you, and I hope that you enjoy reading this blog as much as I enjoy making it.

Happy and most delightful belated Thanksgiving, y’all.

-tlc

Celebrity Sightings

As I was getting ready to go on a hike this morning, I remembered that I had forgotten to plan yet another post. You would think with all this extra free time on my hands that I would get these things done, but I think I am one of those people that just works better under a routine. Guess I should start making one of those for writing these posts.

Anyways, since I don’t really have time to write to you anything of substance, here is a list of all* of the celebrities that I have seen/met/spoken with, or any combination of those three things, since moving to LA (minus the cast of Instant Mom, since I worked with them and I feel that it’s kind of a cheat to include them).

*That I can remember off the top of my head.

Joanne Froggatt

Dermot Mulroney

Dennis Quaid

Sylvester Stallone

Brittany Snow

Chelsea Peretti

Jane Lynch

Lisa Kudrow

Martin Sheen

Jane Fonda

Angie Harmon

Jerry Seinfeld

Blythe Danner

Annasophia Robb

Nick Jonas

Justin Bieber

Tim Tebow

Ashley Benson

Kate Micucci

Brian Baumgartner

Lea Thompson

The cast of Mike & Molly (mainly Melissa McCarthy)

And now you know.

That’s everyone that I can think of off the top of my head, and I’m actually kind of surprised the list is that long. And I’m sure it’s actually not the full list, but apparently I’ve seen so many that at this point it’s hard to recall everyone. Crazy, right? That’s LA for you.

-tlc

 

Freelancing

Several times since graduating, I’ve entertained the idea of staying at home, working remotely as a freelancer. And granted, I do freelance work already, as a social media manager and copywriter. But since finishing up on my last production job, the idillic dream bubble of a flexible freelance schedule that would allow me to work in my pajamas everyday has been burst. I am so stir crazy it’s not even funny. And when it comes to maintaining a productive schedule for my own writing and pushing my career forward (as well as applying for jobs) I’m terrible. It’s not that I’m unmotivated or disorganized, it’s simply that I’m me, and when I don’t have an endpoint, a visible or viable purpose, I don’t worry too much about impressing me, because I can’t fire myself.

I also start talking about myself as if I’m a separate entity, because clearly, staying at home has made me go crazy.

I went to lunch today with another Hollywood assistant, one a little more seasoned both in his career and life, and he made a lot of great points and had a lot of good insights about working in this industry and building a career out here. It was awesome listening to him talk about his goals and how he got to his current job, as well as about his cats. (People out here can be so quirky and I love it.) But he mentioned something in passing that really stuck with me. He said, “If  you can see yourself anywhere else, if there’s anything else you think you might want to do, go do that, but if this is what you want, if you can’t see yourself doing anything else, then you’ll do whatever it takes to get where you want to go.” Kind of a sharky thing to say, don’t you think?

He was addressing my concern at not having the thick skin required for working at an agency out here, or being an executive assistant on the development side of the industry. He made a good point; it’s not really about having a thick skin at all. It’s about choosing to have a thick skin when you need one. Hence, the above quote.

I’d like to dive into this topic more in a separate post, since I really do think it deserves its own meditation, especially coupled with the revelation my roommate once revealed to me that we each control our own emotions, ergo, no one can make you feel anything that you, yourself don’t choose to feel. But for this post, I’ll stick to the quote.

It’s funny, because a few months ago, when I was working on Instant Mom, if you had asked me if I could see myself doing anything else, I would have probably told you no, hands down, without question. After a couple months sitting at home, though, you start to forget what it feels like to have a weekly obligation. To go into a job every day and serve a purpose other than for your own individual needs. You forget what it feels like to be a part of the magic of production.

And now? I don’t know. I’m not sure what I feel. I still want to write, don’t get me wrong. But it’s hard to want something that doesn’t want you back. And maybe I’m feeling mopey, because I’ve spent too much time in the house, watching Netflix. But it’s a tough world out there. And it’s hard to navigate a life that doesn’t come with guidelines. It’s hard to find answers when you don’t even know the question.

Even if you don’t work in the entertainment industry, I’m sure many of you have crossed this bridge before. I have, and I’m really not that surprised that I somehow find myself having to cross it again. But I guess when we look back on things, this is really what makes life interesting, isn’t it? It’s the unknowns that teach us the most, and really take us to places we didn’t realize we wanted to go. If you’re going through something similar, I hope that in the meantime, you can find creative ways to keep yourself financially secure.

I know that financially and physically I’ll be okay. Emotionally and mentally are more difficult when you’re going stir crazy. I guess it’s a good thing that I live so close to theme parks and beaches. If you don’t, I highly recommend taking up knitting. It’s a life saver.

-tlc

Mac’N’Cheese…With Friends!

I’m sitting in my good friend Joel’s apartment, which used to be my cousin Willie’s and my good friend Joel’s apartment, as I try to come up with an idea for this week’s blog post. The living room seems wider now, since the big squishy couch my cousin owned isn’t here anymore. I’m sitting at a standing desk that’s operating as a dining room table, finding the rhythm of the swaying table top as both Joel and I type away at our laptops. It is truly a low-key night, and I love that.

I know, it sounds boring and uneventful. But nights such as this really floor me. Let me explain; A little over a year ago I moved out to LA, not knowing anyone–not even my cousin! And in that whirlwind of a year I have met so many people and experienced so many things, and it really pleases me to no end that I have made friends that I know well enough to literally drive over to their place, ask for their WiFi password, and then not talk to them for hours at a time.

True friendship, everybody.

I think everyone needs nights like this sometimes. I know I really needed it, having just flew back into LA yesterday from an extended vacation home, and having no current job to go to for social interaction. In what can be a really lonely city, it’s wonderful to be reminded that you aren’t alone.

It’s strange, because–even though leaving Kansas was just as hard as it always is–I no longer feel like a fish out of water here. I am finding a sense of place and belonging in this city that I haven’t experienced up to this point. Kansas has begun to feel a little foreign, with the sleepy drivers and long miles of endless prairie grass. The city sirens and the tiny Mexican man who pushes a grocery cart full of plastic bottles down my street everyday feel normal. They fit into this idea of what my neighborhood is, and it has a quiet feel of home, which is comforting.

For once, I don’t hate LA. I hope that this feeling lasts, and only continues to grow.

-tlc

Oops, I Did It Again

Can you guess where this is going? No, it has nothing to do with relationships, and no, I didn’t meet Britney Spears over the weekend.

I missed a post, AGAIN.

I’m sorry guys, but when it rains, it pours. (Unless you live in LA, and then when it rains, it’s just a few sprinkles.)

Actually, I have a very good excuse for last week’s oversight. I was on the road to South Dakota, for a last-minute, unplanned visit to see my grandmother, who has been sick and in the hospital. I even extended my trip home (I was supposed to be back in LA two days ago, but then life happened) because I wasn’t sure what the outcome of this week was going to be. But for now, it looks as though nothing is going to change, including the number of living grandparents I have.

That week sitting in the hospital got me thinking, though. How many of us actually think about death, or near-death illness at our age? It’s not an easy topic to think about. It’s heavy. Sure, we see it on TV and in the news all the time. We’re desensitized to fictional death and death on screen. I’ll admit, I’m still not sure I’ve fully aged out of the phase of feeling invincible.

But dwelling on our own, eventual, (hopefully) far-off deaths doesn’t really do us any good. Sure, there’s that well-used concept of living like you’re dying, but no one in their right mind would fully dive into that idea, when the hope is that you have several decades of future life to plan for.

**I would like to take a moment here to side-note that at this point in typing this post I had a sneezing fit, which has never happened to me before, convincing me that I am indeed allergic to death**

Instead, I spent most of the week thinking about my mother and how she dropped everything and ran to my grandmother’s bedside when my grandmother needed her most, without a second thought or care to her job, prior commitments, or responsibilities (she’s got a classroom full of animals and she instructed my dad on how to feed/take care of them after she was already on the road). This isn’t to condemn anyone who, for whatever reason, can’t do that. Even my mother acknowledged how lucky she is to have a job that will not only give her the paid time off, but also guarantee her job for up to two years, if something would keep her from going back for that long (not that they would pay her for those two years, but that’s besides the point).

But while my mom sat in there, with a real job and responsibilities on the side burner, I was the one feeling strangely anxious. I say strangely because while I’ve been between production jobs, I’ve been freelancing remotely to pay the bills. This means that as long as I have wifi, it really doesn’t matter where I am–I could do my job in Siberia if I needed/wanted to. Yet, instead of giving my full, undivided concern and attention to my loved ones sitting with me, I was anxious about the strange pull I felt towards LA, as though I needed to hurry back. Which is ridiculous. Why was I worrying about rushing back to nothing, when my grandmother was sick and needed my love right in front of me?

I think the real question we should be asking ourselves about death lies in that scenario right there. Where are our priorities, and why? If your loved one was on their deathbed tomorrow, would you drop everything–your job, your apartment, your pets–to go be with them? If it was going to take days, weeks, months, maybe years, would you stand by their side and help them through illness and/or death? Or is there something holding you back? Do you care more about your job and career than you do your loved ones? Concerned more for the health of your dog than your mom, dad, sibling, etc?

Why is that? Why do we care more about materialistic things than our families, relationships, and friendships? In Hollywood, it’s very easy to see the successful people at the top who have pushed away everyone they’ve ever loved, or who has ever loved them. And it’s even easier to see how miserable they are. And the saddest part? I see the super wealthy people in their later years and think, why? What’s the point of having all of that money when you certainly only have maybe a decade–two at most–left to live?

So, no matter where you go or what you do in life, I hope you find success. But I hope you also realize, as I did this week, that’s it’s more important to find people. So I also hope that no matter how much success you find, that you’re able to drop everything to be with your loved ones, should they ever need you.

Because money can’t buy you happiness when you’re dead.

-tlc

A Visit Home

There is nothing better than taking a break from a LA-centered life and visiting home. It’s always amazing to me to experience the juxtaposition between busy, overfilled LA and quiet, casual KC. It’s kind of terrifying at the same time, though, because all of the beauty and peace that comes with quaint KC also comes with this jarring sense of isolation. I mean, don’t get me wrong, internet works just as well here in KC (better, actually, thanks to Google Fiber) but for some reason, even the opportunities to be accessed via internet feel very far away when I am in KC, which is a strange change compared to LA’s smog-covered dumpiness and endless opportunity.

I don’t know what it is about Kansas and KC. Perhaps the physical distance between places here translates into a more psychological sense of boundaries or barriers imposed by distance? Maybe it’s simply the take-it-easy attitude with which the people in this city tend to take their lives. The heartache, the struggle, and subsequently the achievement are quieter here, somehow subdued. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

It makes me wonder every time I am in this city whether or not I would prefer it over LA. The people here certainly seem to be less self-absorbed, but then again, everyone tends to have their fickle moments. The traffic is way better, but the distance you have to drive to get from place to place means you’re on the road just as long. The people in LA are, on average, better looking (as many of them are aspiring actors/actresses) but the people in KC have a better idea of who they are and where they’re headed at a much younger age. Not to mention people out here are nicer (Midwest Manners are a real thing).

But really, the only thing I truly miss (besides my nephews) is fall. I miss the change in weather, the change of leaves, and your basic pumpkin-flavored everything as the Christmas season slowly edges closer and closer to those of us patiently waiting for Christmas music. And suddenly, when the whole choice whittles down to weather, I know that, for some unknown reason, I made the right decision in moving out to LA. I’m not sure how long that choice will be right, but it’s right for right now and I’m glad.

I sure do miss fall, though. And free parking that’s easy to find everywhere you go is nuts. This is great.

-tlc

Taking A Moment

So last Thursday was my last day (for now!) as a PA at Instant Mom. In the midst of coming to terms with that and looking ahead at an open schedule, I totally forgot to post a blog. It was the first Friday that I didn’t publish a post all year. Oops. There goes my perfect record. I imagine this is how kids who have perfect attendance feel when they come down with the flu.

Okay, on to actually making a point.

I use this blog a lot to talk about change and dealing with that, especially at a volatile stage in life, like post-graduation. The funny thing is, every time I think I’ve come to terms with change, I am actually faced with that change and learn something new about the difficulties in letting go, and the dangers of nostalgia. Yes, I said dangers of nostalgia, and if you don’t believe me that nostalgia can be dangerous, just look at the slate of blockbuster films lined up for the next five years. Nostalgia, folks: killing creativity one multi-million dollar franchise at a time. (Mr. Columbus, if you’re reading this, I would happily renounce everything I’ve ever said to be a part of the Goonies sequel.)

Overall, I think it’s good to be happy, even when you know change is coming, and coming shortly–I mean, that’s the point, right? Why even bother if you’re not happy with the way things are (change them!). But my newest worry is that such a nomadic lifestyle career will make longer term commitments more difficult. I don’t know why, I just find things to worry about. It’s who I am. But it’s a valid point, if you’re used to constant change, how do you learn to trust something more stagnant or stationary? How do you continue to find excitement, year after year? Will this affect my relationships and friendships?

It’s a weird idea to cross my mind, because my career trajectory at this point (even if I never work another PA gig) is not going to find me in the bowels of an office building, typing away at a computer screen all day (the hope is to do that from home, eventually!). But it’s a valid question I have to ask myself, because how do I go from here, in LA, to something smaller, quieter, and more quaint, should the need ever arise?

Well, the truth is, I don’t know. But honestly? I know I’ll be fine because this past year has taught me to have confidence in my ability to find happiness. And I know that whatever comes next, no matter how far from what I’ve imagined, I’ll make the most of it, and it will be great, because this last year has taken me far, far out of the realm of who I thought I was, and really made me exam my fears, my goals, and what I really want out of life. Do I have answers for any of those things? Good lord, no. Do I have a sense of who I am in relation to those things? I’d like to think so. I guess we’ll both just have to wait and see.

Until next week (I won’t forget again I promise).

-tlc