Why Don’t More YouTube Channels Discuss Finance?

Money is an uncomfortable subject. Some of us are taught from a very young age that it’s like religion and politics: you just don’t talk about it. But the sad truth is, regardless of your discomfort with money and finance as a conversation topic, we all use it, so we all need it. Money is what the majority of the world uses in exchange for goods and services. Regardless of courtesy, I think it’s something we need to talk about, especially with regard to our spending habits, as well as social influence.

As you know, I love YouTube. I have my own channel, and I love watching the videos of other people too.

I spent a lot of time the other day wondering why people on YouTube don’t talk about money. And yes, maybe it’s because it’s a bit of a taboo topic. But there are other reasons as well, and many of them have to do with viewership.

Viewers are turned off by sponsored videos. When people share their lives or viewpoints on the Internet, it is the assumption of their viewers that they are getting authenticity on the creator’s part. When paid sponsorships get thrown into the mix, some viewers feel that the authenticity of the channel has been compromised. And when they feel like the channel or creator has become “fake,” they either stop watching or they make rude comments.

Viewers are turned off when a content creator promotes his or her side-projects. For the same reason I stated above, when a YouTuber promotes a side-project or side business, people get mean. And I think that’s really stupid and counter-productive; imagine you had a YouTube channel that had a decently-sized audience, and a side business that you were equally as proud of, if not more–why wouldn’t you promote a business you are proud of on your channel?

Viewers often believe that YouTubers make a lot more money than they actually do. Yes, AdSense gives creators an opportunity to monetize their videos. However, even with a large subscriber count, AdSense pays based on engagement with a video–usually by clicks. YouTubers don’t get rich based on ads alone, and this is a serious misconception on the part of people who don’t make videos. The amount of money someone can make on YouTube varies and is based on a multitude of factors.

Finance probably isn’t the most interesting subject to many viewers (or creators). I think many of us are interested in getting new stuff but not really how much it costs.  Many of us live in hyper-consumptive societies and as hyper-consumers, we like the gratification of getting something now–or if you watch YouTube, seeing someone talk about their new stuff. We’re not all that interested in whether or not a creator is putting money away for retirement or a college fund for their kids. We just want to see and hear about the new stuff (and maybe get some new stuff of our own).

It’s really none of our business. And it’s true: the amount of money my favorite YouTuber makes in a week, a month, a year, from AdSense, from sponsorships–whatever–is not my business. And it’s not your business either.

Is there anything you wish was discussed more on YouTube?
Take a shot every time you see me write the words “new stuff” and share your thoughts in the comments down below!

Next Steps

next_steps_illustration

About a month before I graduated from college, I panicked. I’d spent four years studying, going to class and work (3 jobs at once!), writing more papers than I could count, and then I realized–I don’t want to do this. I don’t have what it takes to succeed in this field. I don’t have the personality that potential employers are looking for in college grads.

Because I was panicking, I reached out–not to my parents, but to my adviser. Because I thought she’d have some insight. That she’d tell me what I needed to do–sad to say, but I don’t think that going to college taught me how to be a free thinker; it made me even more insecure and instilled in me a desire to be told what to do.

“I think you need more time,” she said.

She also said she didn’t think I’d be successful. In grad school, specifically, but maybe she meant in general. It felt like she meant in general. It’s hard to hear someone who you trust say that they don’t think you will be successful, whether it be academics, a professional career, or life at large.

I started crying in her office and I don’t think I’ve really stopped in the three and a half years since graduation. As I walked across the stage at the Breslin Center, I was handed a rolled-up proxy diploma. I was supposed to step up to a line, smile, and wave into the camera so all the people in attendance could see how happy I was to be a graduate of Michigan State University. I stepped up to the line, smiled quickly, then stared into the camera as my face fell. My family, with their cameras pointed at the jumbotron, laughed about it–typical Shelby.

I wasn’t happy to be graduating. People were going on and on about the world being our oyster, how the future was ours for the taking, and think now about what you can do for the world, #spartanswill. All I could think about was how I would literally be going back to my parents’ basement to look for jobs in a field I wasn’t sure I wanted to be in. I could go to graduate school, but for what? I had already devoted the majority of my life to school–and I had worked my ass off. And now I was facing an indeterminate amount of time before I could be gainfully employed and able to move on with my life.

It took forever. For every twenty jobs I applied to, I only heard back from one, and fewer than one were actually requests for a phone or in-person interview. My self-esteem and self-worth crashed horribly during this period. I took what was supposed to be a temporary job at a restaurant just because I had to do something. I was there for over a year before I was hired as a secretary somewhere else.

Over this three-year period, starting about six months after I graduated, my parents–but mom especially–started bringing up graduate school. That I should think about applying. That maybe it will help me get a better job. Don’t worry about the money. If you want to go, go.

And the whole time that was going on, I was flip-flopping on the issue myself: I want to go. I won’t be successful. I miss school. What would I even study? I want to teach writing at a community college. A Master’s degree is going to overqualify me and then I really will struggle with finding a job. I’m going to prepare my writing samples this week! I’m worried about the money and the time.

I never did go. What it came down to was the money, the time, and the fact that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get a better-paying job with a graduate degree. My current employers are famous for never giving their employees a raise–how can I afford grad school? I’ve spent so much time in school already; can’t I just move on with my life?

And to be honest, I am still not sure that a Master’s degree will help me find a job that will pay me a good salary.

But I’m going.

I caved a few weeks ago and applied to a graduate program at the local business college. For a Master of Science in Finance. I got in. And furthermore, I found a program that works for me. I could have started taking classes immediately, but I decided that I will start in January.

This is my next step. I don’t know what it will bring–but just about anything is better than what I have going on in my life right now.

A Look Back at My First Cooking Challenge on YouTube

If you’re one of my 17 subscribers on YouTube, you might already know that during the month of October, in addition to my weekly video, I wanted to post a new cooking video every week, and every recipe had to feature pumpkin as a key ingredient.

Well, that’s over now and I thought I would share what I learned, both about making videos and cooking, and what I thought went well, what I want to improve on, and what’s next.

Part of my goal with creating this challenge was to create an upload schedule, and to stick to it. About that… I did not do that for my first two videos. The first week I had troubleshooting issues and the following week was the week from hell, schedule-wise. The good news is that I solved the troubleshooting problem with my voiceover, so I won’t run into that issue again… hopefully.

Furthermore, I cannot wait until Daylight Savings Time. It gets dark here so early, so I have to have every light in my kitchen on. And in my living room, there are no lights. Just a single lamp. So. Lighting at this time of year. It’s a concern for me.

What I learned:

  • Cooking videos are a lot of work. It’s one thing to have the camera pointing down towards the pot or bowl or whatever. Then you have to adjust the angle if you change the shot from tabletop to in front of the oven. And so on.

What I learned about cooking:

  • Read the recipe because sometimes you need 29 oz. of pumpkin puree and you don’t have enough because you just assumed 15 was enough
  • There are more than 2 peppers in the can

What I think went well:

  • Not to toot my own horn, but I already feel like I’ve come a long way already since starting my channel in April. With every few videos, I can see the strides I’ve made. THAT SAID, I know I still have a long way to go.
  • During my pumpkin cheesecake video, I found the best camera angle (I think) for the top of my kitchen table. It was so easy to see what I was doing and what I was mixing in the video. I used a similar angle for the videos after that.

What I want to improve on:

  • Inflection. I know I need it in my voiceovers–having a monotone is so inconvenient when you’re doing YouTube!

What’s next?

My next big project is Vlogmas, in which people on YouTube upload a video every day until Christmas. I’ve never done it before, but I want footage of at least 20 days in December and 10 videos.

I definitely want to do more cooking videos in the future, but I’m not sure when I will focus on a particular ingredient again. Expect some cooking and food-related content during Vlogmas, but I don’t have anything specific in mind.

Things I Love This Fall

fall_faves_1

You probably already know this, but my favorite kind of video to watch on YouTube–aside from daily vlogs–are the “favorites” videos beauty and lifestyle vloggers post on a monthly basis. I can’t get enough of them, and would gladly watch them over and over given the chance. I love that people can use them to make recommendations to others, and seriously–what’s so bad about sitting around and talking about the shit you like?

HOWEVER… I live in a one-bedroom apartment by myself. I have very little space to be bringing in new products to review every month. So I’m going to be making a video and writing a blog post about these things every three months instead.

Here are the things I especially loved from August to October:

Smart Mom, Rich Mom by Kimberly Palmer — You might notice this and say, “Wait… do you even have kids, Shelby?” And no. No, I do not. But one day I might. Since moving out on my own, my interest in finance has increased, and I was intrigued when I read an article about this book in the Detroit News. What caught my eye is that it is specifically written for women AND about building wealth, whereas most financial books and magazines are written for men. It really didn’t disappoint, despite the author’s annoying overuse of the terms “mama” and “mama bear.” I like that it’s about managing and building wealth and establishing good financial habits rather than having a coupon for everything. (I even applied what I read to my own life, which I wrote about here and here!)

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie — I’ve had this book recommended to me on more than one occasion, and I never wanted to read it. Ever. But something changed in August–a Barnes and Noble trip on a rainy afternoon after I cried my eyes out in an academic adviser’s office at the community college–and I wanted to read it suddenly.  I followed the guidelines that come in the book, which say that to get the most out of the book, you should read each chapter twice before moving on to the next: once just reading, once with a pencil or highlighter in hand. I hate to say it, but–this book CHANGED MY LIFE. Like, holy shit. I’ve never not liked people, but I never realized how much I knew about dealing with them before reading this book–without applying that knowledge to my everyday life. Good work, Dale Carnegie!

Bible-Hi-Glider ACCU-Gel Highlighters — Let me start by saying that my PaperMate Flair pens are my favorite writing utensil EVER–but these come very, very close. I actually ended up reading every chapter of How to Win Friends and Influence People three times–once just reading, once with a pencil so I could make marks in the margins, and the final time with these babies. I got a set of three on Amazon for $8, and I’m so happy I did it. They’re safe for highlighting the thin pages of a Bible, but they also don’t bleed through on newsprint, which is why I bought them. They’re perfect.

fall_faves3

Best Fiends — I’m so embarrassed to admit this, but at the same time, #sorrynotsorry. This app was making its rounds on YouTube earlier this year–I want to say I saw it being most heavily promoted in April? but I was still seeing sponsored videos for it in  August?–and to be honest, I downloaded it because Tanya Burr was playing it in one of her videos. It makes me sad that so many of the paid-for advertisements for the game that I saw seem so half-assed, because I think it’s a great game. I don’t do game apps normally–never have I ever played Candy Crush–but this one is entertaining, and when I’m having a shit day, playing it somehow calms me down. I 100% am loving and playing this game every day.

Clash of Kings — Yet another game on my phone! How do I describe this game and my feelings towards it? Can I start by admitting that, as a big fan of George R.R. Martin, I was drawn in by the name? Also, my friends didn’t want to hang out this summer, and loneliness drove me to play it after I ran out of lives on Best Fiends. If you don’t know what the game is, you’re basically the lord of your own castle, and you can build your city around it up, attack monsters like griffins and centaurs, and even wage war against other lords and alliances. My alliance had its issues during its early days, but we got over that and started working more as a team. What did you do today? I attacked a Lava Giant, Level 15…. and won. Finally.

Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme Mask — This mask though. First of all, I don’t care for the smell. Yes, it smells like pumpkin pie, but I don’t like sweet smells. If you like pumpkin pie though, you’ll love the smell–just don’t eat it. I use it once a week. It’s a very nice mask for the end of the day–just apply it to clean skin, gently massage it in, let sit for five to ten minutes, and wash it off! It’s great for exfoliating. Just be careful–don’t get overzealous with your face massage, because it will hurt after.

fall_faves_2

Biore Pore Penetrating Charcoal Bar — Charcoal soap is my favorite thing to wash my face with, and it seems like every brand has their own charcoal soap these days. I saw this product at Target and was fascinated by the shape of the bar, which is why I got it–I like things that look like smooth stones, okay? It has stayed pretty rock-shaped since I first started using it, and I’ve been using it every day since I bought it in early August. Be careful though, because the texture definitely gets rougher as you use more and more of it.

I’d love to hear what you’re loving this fall, so please comment below to tell me!

Experiments in Pennypinching: Using What I Have Already

freezer_inventory1

In my first post of this series, I talked about making breakfast food in bulk and bringing it to work rather than giving in to my bad habit of stopping at Tim Horton’s. This post features another way I’ve tried to change my spending habits and save a little bit of money.

My mother calls me a hoarder; I prefer to think of myself as a forward thinker.

I have a hard time letting go of things. Not because I am particularly sentimental about them, but because I always think “Well, what if I need that later on?” before getting rid of something.

The same thought process affects my spending habits. I’ll be at the grocery store and see that roasts are on sale, and will think, “Oh! I’ll need that when I make pot roast!” So I’ll buy it, but I won’t make that pot roast for three months. I’ll see that chicken thighs are on sale, and I’ll buy them, even though I still have a package that I bought the previous week. And if they’re cheap again the following week, I’ll probably buy more. I’ll need them for something. Eventually.

I also do this with books. I’ll get bored with a book and put it off “for later,” and then I’ll buy a different one–and potentially get bored with that one, too!

I don’t like to think of this as a waste of money, because eventually I do get around to using what I buy. But it is a waste of space. My freezer isn’t tiny, but it is by no means big. And it’s full of things I have half-forgotten about since purchasing them.

Sales are by no means a bad thing, but it’s not like roasts won’t be on sale again. I didn’t need to buy that roast if I wasn’t planning on making it any time in the near future.

So I’m trying to establish a new habit in which I use what I already have rather than stocking up.

I started by taking everything out of my freezer. I pitched the freezer-burnt items and tossed the frozen soups I made last winter (I washed and kept the containers the soups were in though because what if I need them later on?).

As I was putting everything back into the freezer, I took inventory. I wrote down all of what I have and how much. Then, I took a sheet of graph paper, wrote down the items, and then drew a bar to correspond with how much I have. It’s now taped to my refrigerator, and when I take something out, I fill in one square of that bar. I’ve used up a fair bit already, but as I’ve made or bought more, the list has expanded.

freezer_inventory2

Is there anything in particular you are bad about using before buying more? Comment below and tell me what that thing is!

Experiments in Pennypinching: Bringing Breakfast from Home

20160919_091318

Summer is the peak time of year for me at work; I put in about 50 hours a week, but sometimes more if that’s what my boss needs. It’s very nice for the overtime, as it gives me both extra savings and spending money. I might complain about feeling overworked, but the extra wiggle room in my budget is admittedly nice (especially because my energy bill is at its highest this time of year).

Then fall starts and my overtime goes away. And while I live within my means year-round, I always feel a little shocked and stressed financially when that happens. I have to give up the bad habits of summer and go back to more disciplined money habits.

Since I started saving for retirement, I’ve really been trying to become more financially savvy. I’m reading up on finance and investing, watching the Nightly Business Report on PBS, checking the stock market, and talking to the people in my life about money. Currently, I’m reading a book by Kimberly Palmer called Smart Mom, Rich Mom, because even though I don’t have kids, there’s nothing wrong with planning ahead.

You’re reading this and probably thinking, GET TO THE DAMN POINT, SHELBY.

Smart Mom, Rich Mom is about building wealth while you raise a family. It discusses savings and investment plans, and so on. It isn’t a book about extreme couponing and pinching your pennies.

However, it does talk about establishing good financial habits and cutting costs where you can.

timmys_ho

Where I’m cutting costs: Tim Horton’s. I spend a lot of money during the week on breakfast food and coffee. I am one of Timmy’s Hos. It is a guilty pleasure to the point that I’m feeling a little too guilty, to be honest.

Let me elaborate: My average purchase from Tim Horton’s costs between $4 and $6, and sometimes I go there 5 days a week. I’m spending between $20 and $30 a week on breakfast.

And with the peak season at work rapidly coming to a close, I need to cut my Timmy’s habit–by 75%, at least. One day a week, every other week is my goal.

Part of why I have a Timmy’s problem is because I really drag my feet in the morning. I like to get ready and just go to work. Usually I pack my lunch the night before, but I’m not very big on breakfast. Preparing breakfast food in the morning makes me feel ill. I can just throw a packet of instant oatmeal in my purse, and I have. But lately, I’ve just been like, Ugh, oatmeal. It’s taken me all month to even get half through the box on my counter.

But I need to cut Timmy’s out.

So I decided to make things in bulk so all I have to do is grab it from the refrigerator and leave.

I may share the recipes later on, but I was up until 1 a.m. the other day (no wonder I drag my feet in the morning!) making quinoa-and-egg muffins and mini quiche. And on top of that, I made enough to last at least a week. I let them cool off, popped them into ZipLoc bags, and threw most of it into the freezer.

It might not be much but I feel good about it. We all have to start somewhere, right?

20160919_091253

Where do you think you can cut costs? Comment below!

Strong Female Characters: What Do We Really Need?

sfc_cover_image

I’ve been sitting on this post for a while, but lately I’ve been talking to Rosa, my brain twin, and the more we talk about it, the more she and I both want to write about feminism, storytelling, and the characters we love.

There have been several posts written already about this, but I wanted to add my own voice to the numerous ongoing conversations. I don’t expect that my voice will necessarily be heard over the din, but I talk about it a lot: to Rosa, to my friend Toni, to myself (yup), and really just to anybody who is even pretending to listen. The hazard of talking about something that lots of people are already talking about is that opinions have been shaped and decisions have been made and people don’t necessarily feel like listening, even if they agree with you. However, here I am, talking about it.

I’m here to discuss the Strong Female Character.

Generally whenever there is a demand for strong female characters, particularly in film and on television, I roll my eyes. There are two reasons for this:

  1. I find that the results of making such demands set us back more than we realize.
  2. I find that “strong” is 100% the wrong word to describe what it is that we want and need.

When I say that demanding strong female characters sets us back, what I mean is that the result usually lets us down in one way or the other. A lot of shows that have a so-called feminist edge can be hurtful overall to feminism and how far we have come. And it’s not completely the fault of the show itself, but also partly due to the audiences watching.

Agent Carter is an example. Not to trash the show, as I do watch and enjoy it, but when it first aired, I was annoyed by the overall response to the show, which I will summarize thusly:

Yeahhhhhh, Agent Carter! Girls can do anything that boys can!

Hayley-Atwell-in-Agent-Carter

I don’t want to sound like an asshole but I really recall this being a response to the show. And to some degree I get it. Women may have had the right to vote post-WWII*, but their lives were still very different from our lives now. The men who work with Peggy Carter don’t view her as an equal, even though she too is an agent of the SSR (that’s Strategic Scientific Reserve, if you don’t watch the show). What she does matters very little to them because in their eyes, her status as female makes her less-than.

sfc_talk_1

However: this is the twenty-first century. “Girls can do anything that boys can” is no longer an appropriate response. For fuck’s sake, guys. Wasn’t that the same message that audiences got from Mulan? And even in 1998, the concept of girls being capable of the same things as boys was by no means a revolutionary idea.

Having this response, in my opinion, sets us back. It’s part of what I call “Hollywood feminism.” The male execs running the show(s) decide to acquiesce to the request for female stars and storylines, in hopes that getting those female characters and storylines will distract us enough that we won’t ask for something else.

If you think I’m just making it up, you’re right. This is a conspiracy theory that I haven’t really backed up. But in some cases I feel that it is at least half-true, and that is how I felt about the response to Agent Carter.

Moving on to my second point, “strong” is not the correct word to describe what we want.

There are many Strong Female Characters in books and movies and on television. I’ll name some: Michonne, Lagertha, Brienne, Mulan, Lexa from The 100, and so on.

The problem here is that strength is more often portrayed and perceived as a physical quality than an emotional one, although a sort of emotional strength is displayed by many female characters. I like a lot of the characters I have named, but it has nothing to do with their strength, physical or emotional. The issue isn’t a quality of the character; it’s the quality of the creator. A good creator is going to treat their characters well: they will have a backstory, a personality that reflects that backstory in addition to whatever outlook they have on life, they will have goals and the capacity within themselves to change (for better or for worse) and most importantly, the creator will be consistent in all of these.

melisandre

Here I’m going to use a character who may not be physically strong, but is incredibly written**, and her name is Melisandre. Many readers, and especially people who only watch the show, do not like her. She is easily one of the most hated characters, and Dick & Douche (the producers/writers) have made it so. However, George R.R. Martin has made the comment that she is the most misunderstood character, and has also stated:

Melisandre has gone to Stannis entirely on her own, and has her own agenda.

Part of what I love so much about GRRM in addition to his incredible worldbuilding skills (not just in ASOIAF, but also his 1000 Worlds universe) is how much work he puts into his characters. Each one of his characters, regardless of gender, brings to the table their own strengths, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities. He gives them backstories and has these backstories influence their outlooks on life and personalities in some way. Most importantly, and this is what sells GRRM for me forever and ever and always, is the fact that they all have a) goals and b) the capacity for change.

Part of why Melisandre is so misunderstood is due to how mysterious she truly is. We don’t know a whole lot about her past; she claims to be from Asshai and to have been a slave named Melony. We know that she is a priestess of R’hllor (the Red God) and that she believes that Azor Ahai has or will be reborn. Her hobbies appear to be burning people alive as sacrifices and giving birth to shadowbabies. She also is not impervious to compassion, although we don’t always see this.

However, we don’t know, for example, who her parents are. We don’t know how old she is. We don’t know what her endgame is, although many have guessed. And I am positive that GRRM knows exactly what he is doing with her. While she may not be physically strong and her motivations are dubious, Melisandre is an incredible character who is lucky to have had a very skilled creator who does right by her.

Saying we want “Strong Female Characters” sets us up for failure, due to the perception of the word “strong.” The people in charge would rather take that word literally than put in the work to give us fully-developed characters. I’d say we need “Good Female Characters” but “goodness” is also a quality of character that doesn’t mean what I want it to mean. “Well-Written Female Characters” is a little more on the mark, but when you talk about film and TV, things start to get dicey because of all the people involved with the project who aren’t writers, such as directors and actresses.

Strong Female Characters are problematic for more than one reason, and I’ve listed two of them here. Should we change our perception of the meanings of words or should we change the language we use to describe the characters we love and hate?

What do you think of Strong Female Characters? Do you like or dislike the terminology? Comment below with your thoughts!

*this sentence sounds so clumsy… what I mean here is that women have had the right to vote in the US since the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920, so by the time WWII happened, they’d had the right to vote for a while.

**as far as Melisandre goes, GRRM has written an amazing character, and Dan and Dave have done her show counterpart an incredible disservice. Also, Carice van Houten is phenomenal in the role.

A Look Back: My First Vlogust and What I Learned From It

If you follow me on YouTube, you’ll know that I decided to participate in Vlogust, in which people post a video a day through the month of August. Some post subject-specific videos to their channels; my friend Toni posted videos about making pinback buttons and running an online business. Other choose to do daily vlogs, in which they record bits and pieces of their everyday lives. I opted to do this, because daily vlogs are my absolute favorite kind of video.

However, I don’t do very much, and I knew this going into it. Also taking into account how new I am at making videos, I decided that my goal would be to do at least 10 days for Vlogust.

I made it–barely. The fact that I don’t do much made me a little self-conscious to vlog. Spending time with my family and friends (save Toni) also made me a little self-conscious. But that said, I did end up getting 10 videos and recording more than 10 days of footage.

What I think went well:

  • I’m happy with the way my intro card turned out (the footage of Boone jumping into my parents’ pool) and think the music paired well with it
  • Considering my car broke down on the first day of Vlogust, I think I started out pretty strong where content is concerned
  • In my last video I discuss my plans with Toni (who did a video every day on her own channel, here) for future videos and how we think Vlogust went; it wasn’t planned but I enjoyed it

What I’d do differently next time:

  • Being that it’s summer I want to do more outside of the house, so maybe by this time next year I’ll be more comfortable with vlogging in public
  • I’d just prefer to do more in general next time, like going to the beach or something at least once
  • I’d like to be more consistent with doing my “Hello and welcome to Vlogust Day [number]!” next time. I plan to do this during Vlogmas for sure!

What’s next?

To be honest, I don’t  100% know all of what I’ll be doing next. I have a million interests and I don’t think of myself as an expert at anything, so I’m kind of viewing my channel as a creative outlet where I can post whatever I want. I know that in October I will be having a Fall Favorites video to do (I am doing my favorites videos every 3 months instead of every month). Because I like cooking videos, I also want to post a new cooking video once a month; however, in October I’m challenging myself to make a new cooking video featuring pumpkin as a key ingredient every week. I have a few more ideas that will involve writing a script, but those are of a more personal nature and I think I want to hold off on that.

Making a Dream Come True (I Joined YouTube)

Hello!

It’s been a while, I know.

As a blogger, I generally feel like I have one identity crisis after another. While I identify as a geek girl, I don’t always enjoy writing about the things I geek out over, like general pop culture or history or even books. While I identify as a feminist, I don’t always like reading or writing blog posts about feminism or social justice issues. While I identify as an enthusiastic and voracious reader, I hardly ever want to write about the books I’ve read, partly because the genres I read don’t seem to resonate with other people. A lot of the people whose blogs I read seem to prefer YA or graphic novels, and these are, of course, great genres with great stories to tell, but there isn’t a huge interest in literary fiction or nonfiction.

So, long story short: I never quite know what to write about. And a lack of ideas means no blog posts.

This April, however, I had a moment. I told myself to shit or get off the pot. For years I had wanted to do something, and had even talked about it very seriously at one point recently, and never did it. And in April, it happened. I decided to just go and do it.

I started a YouTube channel. It was a simple video; I happened to be dogsitting for my parents while they were in Florida and pulled out my phone to record Boone and I playing fetch.

And then I made another one. And another. It’s not much, but I now have 5 videos up and I plan on having more up soon.

I thought I would share that first video of Boone and I in the yard. And since I’m excited about this change, maybe I’ll be back with more content for you all soon!

Saving for the Future

money

 

When I was 16, I got my first job. It wasn’t much; I was working the cash register at a local hardware store, and in between customers I would carry out tasks like answering the phone and vacuuming. I had to learn how to count back change, and I had to learn how to interact with customers, but the hardest thing was having to balance my work schedule with school.

At the age of 16, I became a workaholic. I. Was. Addicted. To. Working. I loved it. Absolutely loved it. I looked forward so much to summer, when I could get more hours (one week I got 39, and they told me I couldn’t get more than 35). I felt so grown up and responsible, and was so excited to see my bank account grow every week.

Then one day I thought, “What am I going to do with my money?”

I don’t remember how I got there, but eventually I decided I should set up a 401(k) for myself. And I was so excited by this decision, and I was excited to tell my parents my plan.

They laughed at me.

tl;dr: I didn’t set up that 401(k).

Fast forward to nearly a decade later, and I didn’t regret not doing it, but I found myself in a position that probably many other people my age were also in: I wasn’t putting anything away for retirement. My workplace offered a 401(k) program, and even though it didn’t match, I did want to set something up. However, HR took their sweet time sending someone over to help me get started.

Even though I anticipated it being 40 years before I retired, I didn’t want to wait any longer! So I did a little bit of research, and one day while visiting my parents, I asked, “Should I set up a Roth IRA?” This time, they didn’t laugh at me. Instead, I was told, “Absolutely!”

There are two things you need to know about investing for your future. The first: it is never too late. Second: you have a lot of options. You can go through your bank or a financial service like Merrill Lynch. Some banks work with services like Merrill Lynch. You can set up a 401(k), a Roth IRA, or a traditional IRA. You can do all three. And so on. On top of that, all of your options come with their own benefits and pitfalls. In addition to talking to family and friends, I recommend talking to someone who works in finance.

Saving for your future might seem impossible, but you can 100% do it in a way that works for you. Taking that first step might be daunting, but remember that there is no time like the present.