6 Financial Tips for People in Their 20s

Your 20s are a time of discovery, identity, and formation. You’re learning about the real world outside your campus bubble; you’re a real, human adult. You’ve graduated, landed your first job, and are making a pretty decent living. Here are a few financial things to keep in mind while you’re still young (as it won’t last for eternity):

  1. Invest in Your Future (Old, Retired) Self
    • 401k: Often times, companies will match your investment by 3-5%. Take advantage of your company’s match, and start investing in your future now. Compound interest exponentially grows in time, so if you can afford it, make sure to get Father Time on your side. Invest when you’re young.
    • If your company doesn’t offer a 401K or something similar, invest in a Roth IRA. These accounts “enable you to save money into an account you have paid taxes on already, whereby you benefit from growth free of more tax implications. Moreover, when you withdraw your money at your retirement, you pay no taxes.”
    • Check out this link on the Best IRA Providers.
  2. Save 10-30% a Month
    • And yes, your retirement savings are included. This may be difficult with student loans, new Yeezys, and Apple Watches, but those who save tend to be those who accumulate the most wealth. Why? It’s pretty simple. Save money, and you don’t spend it on useless frivolities.
    • One way to do this is to stop your binge-watching and eating, and pick up a side gig. Whether it’s tutoring or getting gigs on Fiverr, get to work while you can! If you’re talented in makeup, nails, and have a decent personality, start a YouTube channel or blog and provide tutorials. Use your time wisely, especially in your youth.
  3. Keep an Emergency Fund
    • If it costs you roughly $3,000 a month to pay for rent, groceries, insurance, and that gym membership, make sure you have an emergency fund up to 3 times that amount. That’s approximately $9,000 of emergency funds, and the more the better. Life happens, and you never know what will happen tomorrow. Embrace the motto #YOLO, and save your $$$ to live a life that’s free of financial curve-balls.
  4. Get a Point-Earning Credit Card
    • During our wedding planning, my fiance and I made over $1,000 by, in essence, planning and spending for a wedding. It was ridiculous how opening up a credit card like the Chase Freedom or Sapphire could allow us to gain bonus points for travel, restaurants, and entertainment. It was definitely one of the smartest choices I’ve made in my 20s.
    • Another thing that I have is a Target Red Card. If you love shopping at Target, get 5% off every time you shop! And if you fill prescriptions on the regular, every 5 fills you get another 5% for a day. The Red Card in conjunction with Target’s Cartwheel can save you a pretty penny.
    • But always remember to pay off the balance for each of these! Don’t get yourself into (more) debt!
  5. Have a Budget
    • This doesn’t particularly work the best for me (as I am very much a sporadic and emotional buyer), but I’m working on it. I have an amount I save with my income, and I tend to spend the rest depending on my mood, hah. My husband has a set amount he uses for the week. He even breaks it up into days, calculating how much he should be spending on his lunches. He’s basically my math hero (since I studied English).
    • There are apps like Mint which can automatize payments and keep you on task of saving for that extra purchase. If you have a Chase account, there’s a free program called Chase Blue Print that helps you plan to pay down debts and gives you a clear picture of where you’re spending your money.
  6. Take Risks
    • If you have a consistent income, take risks with investments. One practical way to do this is through buying a home. Right now, it’s a buyer’s market. That means, you get more bang for your buck. Research all that you can, but in the end, you’re ultimately not in control. So take the risk. Try the more aggressive investment, buying that new place, or opening that business while you still can manage to fall, get back up, and try again. And for all the 90s kids, hum this song to yourself: Aaliyah – Try Again.
    • One thing you need to remember is that in actuality, you are still young. You still have room to learn, grow, and thrive. You’re in the process of meeting your potential, and at times, you’ll have to step outside your comfort zone to get there. You don’t have any real responsibilities like a child or helping with your parent’s retirement… so the possibilities are literally endless.

Hopefully those tips were helpful to the wary twenty-something year old. Which ones are you already doing? What else have you found helpful during this transitional time?

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5 Thoughts on the 2016 Grammys

  1. Make sure to bring an umbrella just in case the unforeseen glitter shower appears, courtesy of Taylor Swift.
  2. Stevie Wonder, I applaud you for your voice, life, and spirit. Amazing performance!
  3. Kendrick Lamar’s performance was the epitome of art and culture in one. Thank you for sharing your experience and telling it so vividly and unabashedly.
  4. Adele’s “All I Ask” featuring Justin Bieber is a clear demonstration of the power and necessity of the skilled sound engineer/producer. You guys are the heroes.
  5. Two words, Alabama Shakes. Yes.

And oh, apparently Adele’s piano mics had fallen on the strings, but the Justin Bieber story is a better one 🙂

 

5 Reasons You Should Break Up

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Love can blind you, and often times, you can be so blind that you don’t know you’re hurting. When you’re dating, always listen to the honest opinions of close friends and family members who see the things you clearly can’t. When you get three or more negative confirmations from your accountability regarding the girl or guy you are dating, you have yourself a problem. So then what? Fix it (there’s a limit to this), or get out while you can.

Here are a few ways to reflect upon your relationship. Do you or your significant other feel any of these things?

  1. You Feel Unsafe
    • Either he’s verbally and emotionally abused you or taken a weapon and threatened you with it… get out now. Guys, this goes for you too with your girlfriends. If you feel anxious and worried about seeing her because of fear, don’t be with her. You, reader, are fearfully and wonderfully made, created to experience and taste the goodness of the world in which you live. Do not waste your time with someone who makes you believe otherwise. Don’t waste your worth on someone who can’t see you for who you truly are. Find help, reach out to a friend, teacher, pastor, or parents, and make the change you need to move on and heal.
  2. You Don’t Communicate
    • When there’s shallow communication or no real face-to-face conversations with your significant other, there’s a possibility that you two don’t understand one another nor do you intend to. Texting, messages, and email can be methods of conversation, but they shouldn’t be the basis of how you communicate.
    • Communication is a two way street, and the harder part is listening. If either you or your partner don’t do your part in listening to the other, it might be an unnecessary relationship.
    • There are also times when one side of the relationship is unable to speak honestly or openly with the other. This also leads to a break down in communication and ultimately the relationship. He or she may not be ready for a real relationship.
  3. You Can’t Trust Him/Her
    • Whether it’s because of infidelity, numerous partners, or incessant flirting, you can’t trust him/her. There is a healthy amount of “jealousy,” one that brings about desires of being with one person and one person alone. But if it’s to a point where you (or the bf/gf) have become overbearing, constantly texting, asking about whereabouts, or even stalking, you obviously don’t trust him/her.
    • Without trust, a relationship cannot stand. One person cannot build and hold up the relationship on his/her own. It takes two to tango, and if he/she cheats on you, bring your worth to someone who will cherish it.
  4. It’s an Unhealthy (Physical) Relationship
    • With recent trends of couples moving in together, living together before marriage, and sleeping together before committing to one another, the culture has set the tone for relationships to be unhealthy off the bat. Once you’ve crossed it, it’s nearly impossible to uncross it if you continue to be with him/her. The best way to heal is to take time off.
    • But when it comes to “Netflix and Chill,” and the guy/gal just can’t chill and keep his hands to himself, you need a reality check. Every time a physical act happens between a man and female, a part of him/herself is forever lost. That one moment of fiery passion can ruin your lifetime of true intimacy and marriage with your future beloved.
  5. You Can’t See a Future with Him/Her
    • If you can’t see yourself growing, loving, and committing to this person in the next ten years, you shouldn’t be together. Yes, there’s a period of time in which one should get to know someone, but if it’s been 3-5 years of “getting to know one another” aka being together without intent to get married, don’t waste your time.
    • People can say lofty things to get you to do things you don’t necessarily want, but have respect for yourself and just say no. Remember, it’s never official until there’s a ring,  and you’re going down the aisle.

If you have any thoughts on the topic of break ups, feel free to leave a comment. If you don’t find yourself agreeing with the 5 points on this post, perhaps you’ve found the one! Here’s my link to another post on 10 Reasons Why You Belong Together.

10 Reasons Why You Belong Together

 

Christina Cee Lee Photography
Christina Cee Lee Photography

With Valentine’s Day coming soon, one can’t help but walk through the aisles and aisles of chocolates and enormous stuffed teddy bears. (And I’ll admit to it, I always eye a grand hug from one of those fluffy monsters.) Flowers, cards, and candy aside, I want to dig into the deeper topic of love, marriage, and joy in companionship.

From experiences and stories of 25 years of single-hood, being “taken,” engaged, then happily married, I’ve compiled a list of why a couple should be together. If you have at least a few of these, you’re on the right track to finding “the one.”

  1. You Communicate Well
    • Texting, Facebook Messaging, and AIM Messaging (for the 90’s kids) can be tricky. Without tone being present within the means of electronic words (unless you’re using expressive emoticons in each message), many misunderstandings can loom under the surface of the relationship. Tone may not be as important to some men, but for ladies, in my experience, how you say something is more important than what you say.
    • Although it may feel particularly awkward for the technology-ridden generation, if you make sure the two of spend time together, face to face, you’re building the foundation for an open relationship. Messages like, “Hey, can you grab some popcorn before you come?” are reasonable through text and messages. Talks about “Hey, where are we headed as a couple?” or “I want to marry you, and here’s why,” should probably be done in person or at least through FaceTime or Skype (if you’re in a long distance relationship).
  2. You’re Committed to One Another
    • Google defines commitment as the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc. Its synonyms include dedication, devotion, allegiance, loyalty, and faithfulness. The questions one should ask in deciding whether or not you’re committed are, “How long have I been with this person?” and “Can I see myself with this person for the rest of my life?”
    • If the first question is answered by a somewhat inconsistent or conditional answer like,”On and off for one year,” or “We always break up during the difficult times and then get back together again,” you may want to consider whether the relationship is really worth the heartache and most importantly, your time.
    • If your answer to the second question is, “Yes, absolutely, yes! I cannot imagine life without them,” then you’ve got yourself a keeper.
    • It’s hard to imagine couples getting into a relationship then married within less than a year’s time. It’s very difficult because you may possibly be in the “honeymoon” phase of the relationship. You may be obsessed with one another, without real knowledge of how that person really is in times of struggle and trial.
  3. You Trust Each Other
    • For some, trust is easily gained and given. For others, trust is built through time, trial, and error.
    • If you’re okay with your lady/gentleman going to the mall without worrying about who she/he is going to meet, talk to, or end up sleeping with (yes that’s quite a jump), you’re in a good place.
    • It’s a great sign when both of you know everything about one another, and you still choose to love and spend time with each other. Infidelity, numerous partners, or even emotional attachments (yes, this is a form of cheating) to someone other than your significant other can create barriers between you. And at times, the barriers can be so high that it may be time for you to move on to heal. Trust takes time, but it’s one of the most rewarding foundations of being in a good relationship.
  4. You Enjoy Each Other’s Presence
    • If you’re watching a movie and wonder about what he/she thought about the line Leonardo DiCaprio said, then you probably enjoy spending time with your significant other.
    • If you look forward to seeing him or her at the end of day, and it’s one of your highlights, then you enjoy being with one another. That in it of itself is a good reason to be together. If he or she makes you happy, then go be with him/her!
  5. You Feel Safe With One Another
    • If you feel that the other protects, nurtures, and loves you in the best and worst of times, you’ve got a keeper. Whether it’s judgmental words, fits of frustration, or an admirer bothering you, you know that your boyfriend/girlfriend has got your back.
    • If either of you have been mentally, emotionally, or physically hurt or abused by the other, you should look into finding accountability or help. If the negative behavior persists, then you need to remove yourself from that person straight away. I do believe in second chances, but that person may need to find it by himself/herself.
  6. You Have Similar Interests and Goals
    • Although opposites attract, you need something to talk about and work towards together. Whether it’s avid video gaming, playing sports, reading, watching movies, or knitting, make sure you have something in common.
    • If one person is incredibly ambitious and type A and the other is not, it may be difficult to the two to survive together in the long run. Make sure you’re both willing to meet on common ground to be together.
  7. You Work Well as a Team
    • Go run a marathon, bowling, or play basketball together. Find out if the both of you can work as a team. Eventually, if things go right, you’ll be married and have kids. Raising kids is a team effort. Know how you both stand in the realm of teamwork and working things out together.
    • My husband and I would play in a band together, so we instantly knew we clicked. Find what makes you two peas in a pod.
  8. You Prioritize One Another
    • Time and money is usually spent on things of utmost priority and importance. If you’re going on regular dates, consistently talking, and conscious of how the other person is feeling, you’re prioritizing your significant other above other things.
    • If work, hobbies, or friends is always the absolute priority, you are not one of the most important things to him/her. Yes, there is reasonable amount of time to spend with each of these good things, but if you’re not being prioritized during the week, it may not be a good fit.
  9. You’re Attracted to Each Other
    • Attraction can be instantaneous, from the first vibes or impression that you get of that person. It can also take time, growing as you get to know one another. If you feel that after you’re married, you’ll still be attracted to this person and perhaps make some babies, then you’re good for one another.
    • If everything looks good on paper for you two to be together, but you’re just not feeling his personality, then you probably aren’t attracted to him. Fashion and hairstyles are things that can be changed in the long run, but if even over time (and with the changes) you can’t stand him/her, then they aren’t the one.
  10. You’ve Found a Best Friend
    • You finish each others sentences, and you can laugh and talk about nearly anything with him/her. You can’t imagine life without them. If you didn’t marry him, you’d probably ask him to be your maid of honor. That’s a little silly, but you get my drift. He’s your bestie, and you know it within your innermost being.
    • Ladies and gentleman, sometimes the person who’s stuck around in the friend zone for years on end can quite possibly be “the one.” Don’t write off those faithful friends who’ve been with you for 5+ years. He/she can be the one who’ll give you joy for the rest of your life. Have an open mind!

I hope these 10 reasons are helpful in taking the next step with your loved one. Let me know in the comments if you agree or think something else should be added. Thanks!

10 Tips to Plan Well for Your Substitute Teacher

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I’ve been subbing for the past four months, and here’s what I’ve learned so far. I like teachers who are detail-oriented, organized, and (overwhelmingly) over-prepared. Teachers, imagine being put into your sub’s shoes. Can you imagine being thrown into a den of 25+ hormonal adolescents who act as wolves in sight of prey?

For those teachers in need of a sub, here’s how to avoid a mess and retain your subs for all future sick, professional development, or “teacher ditch” days:

  1. Lesson Plan & Attendance
    • I love lesson plans. I love organization. Most teachers cannot survive without either. Classroom instructors have had the whole year to figure out what their students are like and how to teach them effectively. Subs have exactly 45-50 minutes to do that. Be nice; leave a lesson plan for your substitute.
    • I also appreciate it when classroom teachers leave general knowledge and tips on fire drills, tornado warnings, and with the recent turn of events, school shootings and lock downs. It doesn’t have to be incredibly detailed, but make sure you put emergency instructions it in your general sub folder so your admin knows you’re prepared for all situations.
    • Make sure you address student attendance! How can the students learn if they’re not in class? Prepare printed rosters for the sub to deliver to the attendance office or give detailed explanations for how to do it online.
  2. Expectations for the Students
    • Once upon a time, there was a teacher who left a set of expectations and objectives for me, and it nearly made the substitute cry tears of joy. She gave her clear communication for what the classroom guidelines were and her expectations for the sub as the adult in the room. The students knew what was expected from them, and it made it easier to know how the classroom teacher usually runs the classroom.
  3. Seating Chart
    • Every time I sub in a new classroom, I get asked, “How do you know all of our names?” And to that I respond, “I just know.” But realistically, I only know because great teachers leave a seating chart or create “name tents” (tri-folded piece of paper with student’s name) for me to read. I usually take notes about talkative students and those focused on being quiet and doing their work so having the names are helpful to connect, even though you may only see them for 45 minutes. The thought goes a long way.
  4. Student Helpers, Troublemakers, and Helpful Teachers
    • Some teachers leave a list of good and bad apples of the classroom. This allows for your sub to be attentive to those who have a tendency to break trust and integrity while their usual classroom guardian isn’t around. Taking a lesson from Santa Claus and having a list of naughty and nice informs subs to know who to trust and know when the student may be taking advantage of the sub.
    • A short list of 2 to 3 teachers and their locations can also be helpful, especially when it’s the sub’s first time in the school. This allows the substitute to build some camaraderie with teachers, build rapport, and not screw up your lunch duty/supervisory/advisory periods.
  5. Schedule
    • Teachers, leave your class schedule with times and endings to each of the school periods. This is self explanatory, so substitutes don’t need to keep asking their students when the period ends.
    • It can also be helpful to leave a heading in your lesson plan regarding times and subject matter. (Examples below)
      • Period 1: Advisory: 9:00am-9:45am
      • Period 8: 8th Grade Language Arts: 2:00pm-2:45pm
  6. Extra Copies
    • Does your copy room have a code to get in and make copies? Your sub probably doesn’t know that code. Make sure you leave enough copies for each of your classes. Include extras for absentees who didn’t attend school, otherwise, you sub may be scrambling to find where they can get those assignments.
  7. Create a Key
    • Sometimes students need a little guidance on how to to each problem. You as the classroom teacher know this. Leaving a key and allowing the sub to have the answers gives them room to be a teacher like yourself. When I’ve been given answer keys, it’s easy for me to walk around and inform students when they’re on the right track. It also gives me room to correct and help them get the correct answer.
  8. The Just in Case Assignment
    • Sometimes the students are incredibly focused and quiet, and they finish quickly. In preparation for those times, make sure that you leave an additional assignment, worksheet, or set of instructions to lead and facilitate the remaining 10-15 minutes. If you don’t want to leave your kids to have 15 minutes of unorganized, free time, plan ahead.
  9. Rewards or Hard Candy
    • In addition to expectations, you can also leave rewards. Let the substitute know that you’ll reward your students for doing what’s expected of them the following day, or leave tangible rewards for the sub. Some classrooms have team names and points, fake money, or candy to give as rewards. This gives substitute teachers something else to work with.
  10. Be Positive
    • Leave a positive note just to make your substitute feel prepared for the day. Let them know you think they’re going to do great, or say something about having a great schedule. Your substitute is never a robot, rather a person with feelings, principles, and a life. Never forget the common ground on which we meet as humanity.

What are some other tips you’d give teachers as subs or yourself as a teacher? How do you plan for your absence? Let me know in the comments below!