What Financial Health Means to Me – Fincon 2016

Gentle Readers,
I want to travel to FinCon this year, but it will be hard on my budget. I live on the East Coast. I’ve never even been to California at all. You know that I am working my behind off to get out of debt. My goal is to end my credit card debt by November. A cross-country flight and a few days in a hotel would definitely impact that goal negatively.  I’m trying to win my way to FinCon instead.
The brilliant planners at FinCon partnered with The Center for Financial Services Innovation for an essay contest and some lucky bloggers will receive support for traveling to San Diego if their piece on Financial Health is excellent. #FinHealthMatters!

For me, financial health is the freedom to pursue empathy and curiosity in equal measures.

I believe that radical empathy is one of the greatest traits available to humans. It increases resilience and takes you down unplanned paths. It is incredible. Even if you only ever get to the point where you can practice radical empathy on yourself, you will have gained the world.

Empathy teaches you. It grows you. It allows you to make peace and joy with the previous versions of yourself. It allows you room to grow into many new selves as you change in time with new data and situations.

Having empathy for others means that you can learn from them, too. You do not have to contain all knowledge, nor do you have to make all mistakes in order to learn and grow. Empathy for others will reveal what choices, financial and otherwise, are better for the world. Empathy will have you shoveling your elderly neighbor’s sidewalk and sit down for tea and conversation as payment. Empathy will give you a glimpse into other sides of your community. Empathy will reveal whole new worlds to you.

My other favorite character trait is curiosity. Curiosity will give you so many opportunities. You will open and walk through so many doors that you cannot imagine right now. Curiosity unbounded taught Galileo realms of science that had not yet been discovered. Curiosity led Elon Musk to create the Tesla because he wanted an option that did not require fossil fuels. Curiosity led Picasso to deconstruct the lines of the body to see deeper into color and meaning than most artists before him. Curiosity told e.e. cummings to destroy syntax to create some of the most moving poetry in the English language.

When I’m truly financially healthy, I have the time and energy to grow both of these traits. I am able to understand other perspectives and add to my knowledge and wholeness. I am able to create things that the world has never seen before. Financial health allows my mind to play and frees me to create new solutions to old problems. When I’m financially healthy, I can afford the time and money to support other people with my time and money. We all grow more whole as a result.

What does financial health mean to you?


Net Worth Week 11 – Brexit Begins Edition

Gentle Reader,

This week has seen a lot of change. Some hopeful for progressives, and some not.  Brexit definitely impacted my retirement accounts. I’m personally on the right track, but am worried for the world in the next few years.

My gig told us that our project is now expected to last an additional four months at least. This stability will make it far easier to meet some goals I have for my money. This should keep me on track to pay off my credit card debt by late October, which will free up my money to save for a down payment. I will do a happy dance.

I still love Earnest and credit them with my ability to conquer some of this debt.

Date 6/3/16 6/10/2016 6/17/2016 6/25/2016
Joy 1098 1098 1098  1098
Travel 322 323 323 323
Down Payment  19 19 19 19
retirement  21 21 21 21
health  45 45 45 45
Moving  31 31 31 31
EF  2597 2597 2597 2597
Business  1 1 1 1
Bed  .29 0.29 0.29 0.29
Life  2344 1729 1839  1140
IRA  8378 8516 8285  8765
Brokerage  224 226 221  315
CC (largest)  0 0 0 0
CC (longest)  0 0 0 0
Rewards Card  -4481 -5434 -5300  -5347
SL 1  -102360  -102120 -102268 -102384
SL 2  -45095  -44971 -45017 -45067
Earnest  -9247 -9258 -9286 -9306
-$146101 -$147176 -$147390 -$147748
  -1.0% change -1.0% change -1.0% change  -.24% change

How are you feeling about your financial progress?

My IRA and Brexit: Part 2

Gentle Readers,

As I posted last night, Brexit is upon us and the world is already different.

As of 1 AM EST on Friday, June 24, 2016

  • My IRA : $9064
  • My Taxable Brokerage: $327

After the close of trading on Friday

  • My IRA: $8765
  • My Taxable Brokerage: $315

A sizable percentage drop already.

I worry that volatility will result in dramatic harm to people and industries. I worry about the jobs that will disappear. I worry about the anger at the economy that will be displaced onto whichever group is the cause du jour. I worry about the infrastructure that won’t be maintained.

I worry especially about the fate of people with disabilities in Britain who already had their supports dramatically reduced in 2013. People will die. He’s already reneged on his promise that $350 million would go to the NIH rather than the EU.

How did your life and investments fair in the first day of Brexit? Am I too pessimistic?

My IRA and Brexit: Part 1

Gentle Readers,

Brexit is upon us. My short post is just to mark the differences between where I will start the day and where I will end it.

As of 1 AM EST on Friday, June 24, 2016

  • My IRA : $9064
  • My Taxable Brokerage: $327

After the close of trading on Friday (Japan halted their markets after the 8% drop),  I’ll report again. I have no idea how much my portfolio will be worth when the NYSE closes today.  Signs indicate much lower.

We’ll see. In a few hours.

And for some time to come.

I’ll keep contributing as I had planned. But I think more than volatility is ahead.




My Frugal DIY Face Routine

Gentle Readers,

Part of my path to financial freedom involves keeping my product-game frugal. For the past two years I have experimented with making my own face wash, pomade, no-poo and ACV conditioner, and recently added face masks.

I make my own products partially because they are cheaper than the store-bought versions, but I also like that there is less plastic in the world due to my beauty regime. I use a few base products to make everything I need. It has also allowed me to have my products individually tailored to my skin, and I’ve never looked better. Vanity gains are happy in my book.

I’ve been very happy with the Oil Cleanse Method of face washing that I found all over the internet. I personally mix castor oil and either olive or almond depending on what I have closest to my hand at the time. I put it in a small bottle and pump once in the shower. I spread it all over my face with my fingers. Then, I wipe it off with a hot rag. This process has eliminated the need for moisturizer. My skin is clear and soft.

I still have the same bottles of castor and almond oil I began with, because it takes an incredible amount of time to go through these products even though I use them for other frugal beauty purposes. I keep some almond oil in a tiny spray bottle and use it for extra moisture in a spot or to remove makeup. 

In the winter, I use avocado oil on my face at night to decrease headaches from my skin drying out in the winter heat. I don’t need such a thick oil in the summer at my age and with my skin type, which I would not have learned without playing around.

Recently, I tried a mask that my girlfriend had and wondered if I could make one of those as well. Per usual, I asked my friends what they are doing in their diy-mask routines. Many of my friends suggested a bentonite clay mask with apple cider vinegar. I had some leftover Aztec Clay from previous pomade endeavors and keep ACV around as part of my hair conditioning routine. So I was ready to go!

It’s really simple. You combine the two ingredients in a plastic dish until it is your desired consistency, and then you apply it to your face. You let it dry for thirty minutes before using a hot rag to wipe it off. Simple. Cheap. I was willing to try.

On a recent Saturday evening, I gathered my ingredients and did what I was told. I used my finger to mix the clay with the ACV, because the internet is convinced that using metal will ruin everything. I have no idea about the science of the thing, but I love having one last thing to clean and my fingers were going to apply the mask to my actual face anyway.

I put the first of the mask on my face.

My eyes burned with rage.

They were not fans of having the ACV so near them. They were fearful of the assault on their senses. Thankfully they calmed down after 5 minutes, but I had 25 minutes to go after applying all of the goo to my face. I went to my room and read until the timer called me back.

I entered my bathroom with a new, clean washcloth and gently removed the mask from my face.

ALARMINGLY my face was red and hot. It was fine when the clay was still on, but the removal caused it great distress. I consulted my friends and they said it was normal. Just wait, girl.

I waited.

It took thirty minutes for my face to calm down. I was not pleased. I don’t believe that beauty should hurt. This was confusing.

And, then, something magical happened.

My face was so soft. They promised me radiance, but they did not think to promise me the only thing I want in my face – SOFTNESS.

Armed with this knowledge, I performed the same routine a week later. My eyes were less than civil with the NEARNESS of the ACV, but everything else went well.

And my face grew softer again.

I have found the ultimate my face routine for me. Home-made face wash calibrated to my skin type and a homemade mask all for less than the cost of the average store-made face wash. And I am as soft as I want to be. It’s been a wonderful learning curve.

Have you tried to make any personal products? How did it go?


Net Worth Week 10 – Grief Edition

Gentle Reader,

My heart still aches for my LGBT Family in Orlando. I focused this week on time with other LGBT people and in LGBT spaces. I allowed myself to overspend on food to be near people I was grieving with. I knew I was doing it and it was the right thing for my heart. I’m also still operating from a much smaller than average paycheck. It will be a few more weeks of loss. Thankfully small.

I am so encouraged at how many allies and people not directly impacted this time are trying to make us safer. Thank you. I don’t know if you know how much succor it gives us. Only one of my many relatives has checked on me at all, and that is a good summation of what it is like to be a lesbian. We’ve never felt safe in this world, and this has made it worse, but the response of so many people who are taking this as a call to action is so encouraging. Thank you a million times.

My IRA and brokerage accounts took hits this week, in addition to missing a month’s worth of funding that I had previously planned.

I still love Earnest and credit them with my ability to conquer some of this debt.

Date 5/27/16 6/3/2016 6/10/2016 6/17/2016
Joy 1098 1098 1098  1098
Travel 322 322 323 323
Down Payment  18 19 19 19
retirement  21 21 21 21
health  45 45 45 45
Moving  31 31 31 31
EF  2597 2597 2597 2597
Business  1 1 1 1
Bed  .29 0.29 0.29 0.29
Life  2765 2344 1729  1839
IRA  8359 8378 8516  8285
Brokerage  222 224 226  221
CC (largest)  0 0 0 0
CC (longest)  0 0 0 0
Rewards Card  -3998 -4481 -5434  -5300
SL 1  -102245  -102360 -102120 -102268
SL 2  -45059  -45095 -44971 -45017
Earnest  -9696 -9247 -9258 -9286
-$145518 -$146101 -$147176 -$147390
  2.95% change -1.0% change -1.0% change  -1.0% change

Has tragedy ever drastically changed your spending patterns?

Ways To Be An Ally

Gentle Readers,

You know that the LGBT community has suffered an incredible loss in the past week. We are grieving. Each in our way. We know that other people are grieving, too, but that some allies are afraid they’ll somehow mourn incorrectly. You can not mourn human life incorrectly unless you harm someone. I was asked to write what allies can do. This is my attempt.

There are many correlations between LGBT communities and the Financial Freedom community. We are all non-conformists who question everything. I hope that more FIRE folks can question things outside of financial decisions.

Be careful with your words. 

To me, this is the most important advice in all realms. If we are mindful with our language and thoughts, we’ll have been careful with other peoples’ hearts and lives. We will make fewer assumptions.

  1. Stop assuming that people are straight and cisgender. There are so many ways to be and you assuming otherwise often means that your friends do not feel comfortable telling you about their real life. One easy fix is changing your check-in language to “Are you seeing anyone? What are they like?” No gender was assumed. And you just might find out about his hot new boyfriend.
  2. Believe LGBTQ people when we tell you what our worlds are like. Especially when our world sounds alien to you. If we tell you that we have a gender outside of the binary, use google to look up the definitions. Here’s a primer available for free. Don’t ask us to explain the intersections of our lives to you. Learn from other allies and google. There are numerous nonprofits and university sources available for free online happy to explain things. It can be exhausting for us to explain the terms to you, because you have so many levels of learning to do. Do that with non-impacted folks.
  3. Ask us how we are doing during this trying time. So many of our families have rejected us, and maybe we need to know that you are thinking of us. We may not feel like talking, but your support will be appreciated.
  4. Stop insulting men by comparing them to women. So much of homophobia is wrapped up in idea that gay men are insufficiently masculine and gay women are insufficiently feminine. So much of homophobia is rooted in a hatred of things deemed feminine. I read a piece recently where a blogger said that the worst thing that could happen would be a for a girl to beat him in a race. Imagine what it is like for girls to know that men feel this way. Do better. Consider women to be people – worthy of being in competition with.
  5. Stop telling children to “man up.” Allow all children the freedom to express the full range of human emotions. Don’t tell them that crying is for girls or sissies. Crying is for humans. Joy is for humans.
  6. Stop devaluing femininity.
  7. Stop worrying about who is in the bathroom stall near you. People just want to pee. Get the hell over it.
  8. Learn about “toxic masculinity.” So much of violence in our society is rooted in the ideas about what a man is owed, whether respect, access to sex, access to money, or something else. You know before the headline is finished that the killer is a man 98% of the time. This statistic has stayed the same throughout most of history. This is revelatory. Something about how we raise and treat men causes some men to be very bad in ways that very few women are. We must begin to understand this. We must begin to change this.
  9. Learn about the link between toxic masculinity and domestic violence, and domestic terrorism, and mass shootings.
  10. Read female writers.  Read queer writers. Read “Exile & Pride.” Read writers who are different from you. Try to begin learning what assumptions underlie your life.
  11. Learn about other communities in the US.
    1. Stop mocking the South. All of the US has issues and it is lazy thinking to scape-goat an area of the country. Stop.
    2. Stop referring to “Fly over” states. Learn their names. Learn their value to the US. Learn their cultures.
    3. Stop assuming that LGBT people are safe in cities or safe in gay meccas. We are not. 75% of hate crimes in most cities are against LGBT people.
    4. Learn about other people’s religions.
    5. Learn about other people’s sexualities and gender identities.
  12. Know that you cannot remove queers from the world. We have been part of the environment since the dawn of man. Learn to live with us.
  13. Stop accepting hateful rhetoric against queer folk. Literally, stop listening when someone is telling lies about us. Tell them why you are stopping. Be “rude” in confronting them. Stand up against your people so that maybe they do not kill my people, maybe they’ll stop writing laws against my people, and maybe they’ll let us live.
  14. Don’t take personal offense if an LGBTQ person does not want your prayer – so many of your religions have been used to bludgeon us. At times, to death. If you are praying to comfort us, you may want to consider our actual experiences with people using praying as a weapon to “pray the gay away” and how it would make you feel if strangers prayed about the way you experienced sex and intimacy.
  15. Stop attending homophobic movies and churches. Seriously. Don’t support things with your time and heart and money that tear other groups down.
  16. Learn about LGBTQ history. Learn about the cases that told us that we were perverted. Read about Alan Turing and all the other queer inventors and historical figures who were tortured by their countries. Learn about how the US government responded to HIV when it was a “gay disease” – they literally left us to die. Learn about laws that precluded us from adopting children. Learn that even today 40% of homeless youth are homeless because their straight parents rejected them for being LGBT.
  17. Fight back against the rhetoric rising against Latinx folks in this country. It is significant that this US citizen attacked an LGBT club on Latin night. Rhetoric leads to hatred. Hatred with access to guns can lead to mass-murder. Demonizing a group of people will not help you, and can lead to their deaths and suffering.
  18. Stop assuming that your choices are natural. Your choices are constrained by your assumptions. Every human feels normal. Every human chooses differently. It is not normal to be straight, it is just common.
  19. Please call your governors and representatives and tell them that you believe in worker protections for LGBT people – we can literally be fired just for being gay in over half of these United States.

Our hurts are deep and complicated. The most important thing to remember is that we can treat one another with dignity. There is enough dignity to go around.

Pulse was created by a sister who loved her brother and wanted to honor him after his death from HIV. That is radical love. She took her sorrow and served a community in love out of it. Use your sorrow for good when you can.

There is a gofundme to help the victims of this horrific attack, if you can, please join me in supporting them monetarily. https://www.gofundme.com/pulsevictimsfund

In solidarity,


Stonewall Reverberates at Pulse

Gentle Readers,

Today we mourn the 50+ lives taken senselessly. They were our brothers and sisters. They were queer, transgender, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and so many other things. They were predominantly people of color. They were celebrating Pride. This is terrifying and heartbreaking. If you have queer people in your family, please check in on them today and this week. Encourage them to talk to grief counselors, even if they were not in the zone of danger this time. Our hearts are broken. We know it could be us next.

The Stonewall Riots are why we celebrate Pride in June. The history of persecuting queers who were visible is long and violent in our country and throughout the world. There were laws prohibiting homosexuality in public in most of the United States. Folks were subjected to mental and physical torture to “cure’ them. People were murdered. People were harassed by law enforcement and the law for being “deviant.” Deviance included women not wearing enough “feminine” articles of clothing. They were harassed for being different and not conforming to that era’s strict constraint of appropriate gendered behavior. Business that catered to LGBT folks were routinely raided and the people subjected to violence of all natures at the hands of the state and ordinary citizens. The laws were part of the problem. Beatings and sexual assaults at the hands of police were common. There are differing accounts of what precisely occurred on the night of Judy Garland’s funeral. Law enforcement raided the Stonewall Inn, again. And someone struck back. Some accounts credit a transgender woman with throwing the first punch or bottle. Some accounts credit a butch woman. Other accounts credit a drag queen.

But someone who refused to live according to dominant culture’s ideas for them struck. And others joined. The riot involved violence, but also group unity in public. There had been secret societies before – don’t think the LGBT liberation movement started at the end of the 1960s. They shouted about gay liberation. They faced their persecutors. The cops eventually sought refuge in the Stonewall Inn. The riot cops came. The queers did not leave. They stood and fought as a group. This happened over multiple days. They sought liberation from police brutality, unjust laws, and a strict society that told them to conform to ridiculous notions of what it means to be a human. What it means to have worth. We are still working on liberation.

We’ve had marriage equality for a year now, but have seen a growth of anti-transgender laws in particular. We are not free. There are other freedoms we seek. We do not have workplace protections in many states. We do not have the privilege of peeing safely in many places. We still have queer kids being abandoned by their families. We still struggle for gender non-conforming people to have the dignity inherent in their bodies protected. We still struggle to not be murdered for our very existence.

If you can, please donate https://www.gofundme.com/pulsevictimsfund. Over fifty families will need help with their grief at this tragedy. 

In solidarity,


Net Worth Week 9 – Small Setbacks Edition

Gentle Readers,

I finally have a gig again, but was negatively impacted by 2.5 weeks of no work. Being a contingent worker is really hard for planning your money. There will be a few weeks of negative change in my net worth because of it. Thankfully, I know that I’m happy with slow and steady.

I was prepared for the lack of work and had stashed money in my Life account. I enjoyed the freedom to live as I wanted. I had hoped the lack of work would only last a week based on their promises, but that was not to be. That’s the nature of this industry. I’m still sad I won’t be able to buy the next pair shoes in my future fabulous-shoe arsenal, but I want freedom more.

My LLC had some progress and more potential clients are coming around. I’m feeling pretty good in this arena.

My IRA had a pretty nice week, but I’m missing a scheduled payment due to the lack of work. I’m slightly off-track, but I am at least still on the course going forward.

I still love Earnest and credit them with my ability to conquer some of this debt.

Date 5/20/16 5/27/2016 6/3/2016 6/10/2016
Joy 1098 1098 1098  1098
Travel 322 322 323 323
Down Payment  18 18 19 19
retirement  21 21 21 21
health  45 45 45 45
Moving  31 31 31 31
EF  9 2597 2597 2597
Business  1 1 1 1
Bed  .29 0.29 0.29 0.29
Life  1716 2765 2344  1729
IRA  7295 8359 8378  8516
Brokerage  218 222 224  226
CC (largest)  0 0 0 0
CC (longest)  0 0 0 0
Rewards Card  -3890 -3998 -4481  -5434
SL 1  -102130  -102245 -102360 -102120
SL 2  -45024  -45059 -45095 -44971
Earnest  -9673 -9696 -9247 -9258
-$149942 -$145518 -$146101 -$147176
  -1.0% change 2.95% change -1.0% change  -1.01% change

When did small setbacks begin to truly feel small to you?

Expensive Shoes Can Be A Frugal Investment

Gentle Readers,

I love shoes.  As a lesbian who refuses to allow fashion to hurt me, I have some problems finding appropriate shoes for my professional work environment that follow my personal aesthetic. This problem is compounded by my walker’s lifestyle.

I am on a mission to have 5 pair of amazing shoes that I can wear for work and play. I want one pair per day of the work week.  Dressing in a manner I like is important to me. I perform my gender, and my shoes are a huge part of that. I also know that good shoes need a day or two to breath between wearings to extend their life. I am at 3 pair of amazing shoes. I’m on the lookout for 2 more.

I buy (or am gifted) expensive shoes because I prefer quality construction that is meant to last. I want shoes that I will be wearing for decades. I want shoes that do not harm my feet. Not all expensive shoes are expensive because they are good. You must be careful. I focus on quality construction and classic styles. I don’t trust brands.

You’ll notice that I do not wear heels, but I like a fancy look as I am a fancy lady. Finding shoes that work well with dresses at fancy events is a mean-feat if you ignore heels, but it is doable.

I have a further problem in that I have smallish feet. I adore men’s dress shoes, but most do not come in my size. I’m excited about Tomboy Toes, but I cannot personally recommend them yet as I have not worn any. If I hadn’t had work shenanigans impacting my finances, maybe I would have tried them this summer. Sigh.

These shoes, the Lita, from BedStu are my go-tos. I have them in a color they no longer sell. But they have been my main-stays for two years. I paid nearly $200 for them, and get them re-soled every year for ~$60. Absolutely worth it. I can walk in them day after day and never have foot pain from them. Most women can tell you how incredible that is.

I also appreciate Fleuvog’s Tuxedo Flats. Unfortunately, they are not available any more, but these are close.  They are beautiful and narrow. Perfect for fancier events, and do not cause me pain from standing. Sadly, they do not include much by way of arch support so they can not be for daily wear. My feet just won’t allow it.

These are the most beautiful shoes I own. I feel like I can take down any enemy when I wear them. I wear them like armor. I wear them when I anticipate a client is going to be tough. I still need to take them to the cobbler to stretch the toe-box a tiny-bit, but holy cow are they beautiful!

A good cobbler will lengthen the life of your shoes by many years. Especially if you are like me and do not drive, but walk and use public transportation for all your needs. My shoes and feet need this pampering so that they will both last me many decades. Men can expect this in their dress shoes, and I think all genders should be allowed this non-luxury.

Where do you find your professional shoes?