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?  

 

 

 

Joining the Yakezie Challenge

Gentle Readers,

I read about the Yakezie Challenge before I started this blog, but I worried that I would not be serious enough to commit to what it requires. Luckily, I love blogging and have many ideas for posts. While past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results, I am comfortable in saying that I am officially joining the Yakezie Challenge.

If you are a fan of Call Your Girlfriend, it is similar to Shine Theory. When your friends do well, you do well. Their shine rubs off on you. I love interacting with people who are fascinated by anything. Maybe you learn about esoteric topics from them, or maybe they let you know about an unpublished event that would be amazing to sit in on. You never know what will happen when you are open to interesting people.

Fascinating people make great friends. They inspire you to do and be better. It is a joy to be friends with people who are living their dreams.

I have always been a fan of promoting others and encouraging them on their journeys – no matter where they are going. Outside of my blog life, I help connect people with the jobs and relationships and books they desire. I love learning what sparks my friends’ joy. A joyful person is wonderful to see.

The details

The Yakezie Challenge is the brain-child of Sam of FinancialSamurai and he describes it in this post. Of course, I’m going to to bring out his relevant information below.

To join the Yakezie Challenge :

1) Install the Alexa toolbar if not already and comment what your current Alexa ranking is. (Done.)

2) Write consistently 2-4 times a week on your own site and consider guest posting around the community including on Yakezie.com to raise your profile. (In process)

3) Install the Yakezie Challenger Badge. (Done)

4) Announce on your blog that you have joined the Yakezie Challenge. (Here we are)

5) Selflessly promote others and build relationships. (In all of life)

6) Stay committed and consistent over the next 6 months!  (In process)

7) Introduce yourself on the Yakezie Challengers Forum and get to know your fellow Challengers and Members. (I’m not clear if this is still being updated)

8) After you’ve completed the 6-month challenge, let everyone know how it worked for you. If you’ve done it as intended, you could be invited to become an official Yakezie member. (See you on December 6, 2016!)

Persistence in relationship building is the key. You must show up for people. This is an online version of that. I like it a lot.

As of today, June 6, 2016, my Alexa ranking is 14,000,562 internationally and 1,489,921 nationally.

December 6, 2016 is six months from now.

Before December 6, 2016, I need to:

  1. Complete 27 weeks of 2-4 posts a week.  Or 54-108 posts.
  2. Get to 200,000 on Alexa. That is a 13,800,563 (international) or 1,289,920 (national) difference. This is definitely the hardest portion of the goal. ZJ Thorne is my first experience of blogging. I don’t know tricks. I just want to share my story and my learning. Hopefully that content will appeal to other people, but that remains to be seen.
  3. Support other bloggers in their goals. A delight.

Do you think the Yakezie Challenge is still achievable in light of how many blogs there are in 2016?

Net Worth Week 8 – Two Months of Progress to Celebrate Pride

Gentle Readers,

A week of no gig means that my net worth to begin Pride Month won’t have the same triumphant tenor as last week’s major gains.  I cannot grow accustomed to 2.95% gains, but I can look back at two month’s worth of progress and be happy with my path of financial and personal growth.

The freedom of no work has allowed me to perform many errands and do some important work at my LLC. The LLC work should pay off fairly soon, and leave one less client matter over my head.  After using my days off to visit with friends, I switched to using my day’s off to help friends. One friend needed help cleaning their apartment, and another needed help unpacking. We all needed human interaction, too. It was lovely and I was glad to help my friends with my extra time. I know that I am in a better emotional space when I get to see my friends more often – especially in their homes away from the noise and crowd.

The gig is continuing to suggest that I will start soon. I’m still not applying for other gigs, because this one is at the 25% higher pay-rate and has more stability. Most likely it will begin next week.  I’m fortunate that I can go a few weeks without earning money and still be fine. It’s a little frustrating because these weeks were going to be dedicated to beginning my Down Payment Fund, but that will just have to wait.

Two months of tracking net worth has been incredibly informative. I began with ~$151,164 as my baseline. I’m now making progress and am at $146,101. That’s a 3.349% difference and $5,063 gain. 

The percent change for this week was less exciting, but when you are not actively working, it is expected. Next week will not be any better, since I will have no paycheck. I am still grateful for Earnest changing my ability to conquer my debt. I count them

Date 4/1/16 5/20/2016 5/27/2016 6/3/2016
Joy 1097 1098 1098  1098
Travel 752 322 322 323
Down Payment  284 18 18 19
retirement  221 21 21 21
health  45 45 45 45
Moving  31 31 31 31
EF  9 9 2597 2597
Business  1 1 1 1
Bed  .29 0.29 0.29 0.29
Life  471 1716 2765  2344
IRA  6928 7295 8359  8378
Brokerage  220 218 222  224
CC (largest)  -11883 0 0 0
CC (longest)  -567 0 0 0
Rewards Card  -2762 -3890 -3998  -4481
SL 1  –  -102130 -102245 -102360
SL 2  –  -45024 -45059 -45095
Earnest  -10000 -9673 -9696 -9247
-$151164 -$149942 -$145518 -$146101
  BASELINE -1.0% change 2.95% change  -1.0% change

When is the first time you saw that slow and steady was really winning the race?

Immediate Rewards are Rare in Finance and Activism

Gentle Readers,

I used some of my time off to go through old writings, and I was surprised at how many are still pertinent to my life and ideas. I know that I’ve grown, but the same core ideas matter to me. So much that has applied to my activism directly relates to my finances. I will be sharing the interesting ones.

Clearly this is in the past, before marriage equality was the law of the land.

Today, I was collecting signatures in support of the End Racial Profiling Act with my former job. One of the women I spoke with had a sign saying she was from Oklahoma and to ask her why she came. I asked.

“Because I have grandchildren. I want them to have breathable air. I want them to be employed. I want them to marry whomever they please.”

I asked this grandmother for a hug and thanked her.

These are simple things to want.

It is rare to experience immediate rewards in activism, but if you look around, the reward may already be visible. We never got ERPA passed, but community was built. Hearts were lifted. Hugs were given. These moments stay with us. We now have nationwide marriage equality, but there are more steps to take towards equity.

I don’t have financial freedom yet, but I know that I am on the journey. When I look around at my current situation and how it has changed because I’m on a journey to freedom, I can see the rewards. I can see my comfort and resilience grow. I can see that my inclination to put up with nonsense diminishes as my ability to support myself increases.

Have you noticed the tiny rewards on the way to freedom?

 

Financial Freedom Sneaks Into Every Conversation

Gentle Readers,

Once you start noticing an idea, you’re going to see it everywhere. My recent trips to visit family included many conversations about retirement planning that I was not anticipating. I’m glad that folks are thinking about this. I’m still planning on engaging in stealth wealth, but I am happy for the tides of knowledge to lift all of our ships.

I spent one night in the woods at my aunt’s house. We touched on all sorts of topics and enjoyed the serenity of no cell-service. The transformer blew out 10 minutes before we arrived; we really got the middle of nowhere feel. Before I left in the morning to visit the hospital again, my uncle turned to me and began asking if I have a retirement account or savings. I’m so glad that my answer to that question is now in the affirmative. He was happy that I do, even though I did not start it until I was 31. I still have time. He is almost unreasonably proud of me, and I will take it. Encouragement from a good man is always appreciated.

The more interesting conversation happened with my 21-year-old relative, Bill. Bill does not have parents. Bill has chosen to wait for college until he can get better scholarship options. Bill is living way beneath his means and saving most of his earnings. Bill did not learn this from his parents. Bill figured this out on his own.

Bill is a good man to emulate.

Bill brought up that he wants to retire to Mexico by the time he is 40. Naturally, that got me asking questions. Do you have an IRA? Are you considering starting a business? What do you envision this retirement looking like?

He does not have an IRA yet, but wants to start one. I told him about mine, and the minimums my company requires to open the one I preferred. His savings is not quite there yet, but I told him I would do a little research to see if he had good options available.

Of course he does.

Schwab is my personal preferred vehicle, but Vanguard is also wonderful. They both have options that do not require a $5000 opening balance.

At Schwab, the minimum is $1000, but you can only access that if you enroll in auto-transfer of $100 each month. Vanguard has similar limited selections for people who cannot make the higher minimum.

I do not know if Bill is able to afford a $100 autopay each month, but I am going to tell him about it. That extra decade of returns will matter so much.

I’m impressed that he is working so hard and saving everything. His parents were not good examples, and he is doing right by himself anyway. He also brought up on his own that he wants to retire by 40. I did not put that idea in his head. We have many interesting conversations to look forward to. I must keep researching so that I can keep ahead of his knowledge. We’ll both benefit.

I told Bill that I would send him the presents I bought for the other relative’s graduation. Bill is far more likely to read them and implement the ideas that appeal to his personal choices. Each one teach one.

Were you ever surprised by a family member’s insight into retirement planning?

Net Worth Week 7 – Huge Wins Edition

Gentle Readers,

This week was full of surprises, but I ended up way ahead for the time being. Nearly 3% change in my negative net worth – in the right direction!

I had quite a few unanticipated expenses (a hotel and uber trips to the hospital and paying for Lifelock because of shenanigans at work). The Lifelock has now been reimbursed. The biggest unanticipated boon was finally receiving my tax refunds. One was dedicated to stocking my Emergency Fund. The other paid into my IRA.

My gig finally ended, which meant that I only worked 2 days this week for a W2 employer. It appears that I have a gig next week, but you cannot count chickens before they hatch. I have not applied to work at other gigs yet, which means I feel secure.

I’ve enjoyed my days off. I visited with friends and their baby. Ran some errands. Visited with an out-of-town friend. Worked on developing the skill to double my income. Lastly, I also worked at my LLC and enjoyed rest. It was a great position to be in. I could enjoy the time off and not worry about covering my bills. This would have been true without the tax refunds. I’m starting to get the hang of my finances and it feels wonderful.

The percent change was very different due to the tax refund. It felt great to stock up my Emergency Fund again!

Date 5/6/16 5/13/2016 5/20/2016 5/27/2016
Joy 1098 1098 1098  1098
Travel 322 322 322 322
Down Payment  18 18 18 18
retirement  21 21 21 21
health  45 45 45 45
Moving  31 31 31 31
EF  9 9 9 2597
Business  1 1 1 1
Bed  .29 0.29 0.29 0.29
Life  1526 2004 1716  2765
IRA  7346 7315 7295  8359
Brokerage  218 219 218  222
CC (largest)  0 0 0 0
CC (longest)  0 0 0 0
Rewards Card  -3426 -3718 -3890  -3998
SL 1  -102222  -102014 -102130 -102245
SL 2  -45102  -44988 -45024 -45059
Earnest  -9632 -9653 -9673 -9696
–$149746 -$149289 -$149942 -$145518
  .99% change .99% change -1.0% change  2.95% change

Do you remember the first time you had a big percentage change in your net worth?

Treat Your Employees Well – The Easiest Investment

Gentle Readers,

My full-time gig has been up to some shenanigans lately, and that is directly impacting me. They’ve compounded their errors. They’ve made themselves bad employers. They will lose a good employee.

I filed my taxes on May 17th. I run a small business and have investments in a friend’s small business, and an IRA, but the problem came from one of my 3 W2 employers last year.

Agency X never sent my W2 to me. I informed them as soon as it was reasonable. I gave them time for mailing. They ignored my email. I emailed every week until May 17th to force them to fix their error.

In the middle of last year I had moved jurisdictions and they never updated. They mailed my Personally Identifiable Information to a stranger. Then ignored me. They took my taxes out for the wrong jurisdiction, and ignored my emails.

I had to file for an extension when they finally believed me that they were in error. I had to repeatedly ask them how they were going to handle the breach of my security. Finally, after the filing deadline, they agreed that I could pay for Lifelock and they would reimburse me.

No apologies for messing up my taxes. No apologies for ignoring me. And now I have to wait for their accounts payable to handle my receipt.

Then, last week their contractor informed me that I needed to perform work tasks for no pay. I asked my Agency how this could be legal. They ignored me.

They continue to ignore me. I decided to wait to see how the family emergency went before telling my agency to take me off this project. Honestly, I expected them to acknowledge my email informing them that I did not know when I would return due to the nature of the emergency.

Nada. Zilch. Nothing.

A simple, standard, “I hope you are ok, and let us know when you’ll return,” would have made an enormous difference.

It is now Monday, and I have heard nothing. I sent them the Lifelock bill. I’ll show up to work tomorrow, but I will not do work for which I am not paid. I am not currently planning on sending another email to let them know that I do not perform work for free. I will just continue performing the work for which I am paid until they tell me to stop.

There are other gigs. There are gigs that treat you decently. I am a good worker. I take my jobs seriously. It will be difficult to consider working for this agency ever again. This is just too many errors. The biggest error being the failure to communicate.

They will waste a month getting someone to replace me. A bad choice, when paying me the 2 or 3 hours to perform the work would ensure that they can finish their project on time.

Have you ever waited to be fired after having done everything right?

Having Savings Makes Emergencies Manageable

Gentle Readers,

What was supposed to be a vacation to celebrate a graduation turned into a Family Medical emergency  and it is ongoing. Thankfully, my savings has made this fraught time easier to navigate.

I did not quit as planned before I left for the airport, but I am even more concerned about my employer’s behavior. I informed them of the emergency and let them know that my return is up in the air. I have heard nothing. Not even the standard, “I hope you are well.” I still have heard nothing about being told to work for no pay. I still am refusing to donate my time to this corporation. They have not fired me. Nor have I quit. We’ll see what develops.

Meanwhile, I am currently at a hotel. Not an expense I anticipated when originally planning this trip, but I found something near the hospital that allows me to Uber to it. This gives me some more freedom in this state that does not believe in public transportation or non-car-based-infrastructure. This expense won’t really harm me, even if I lose my job, because I have enough cushion right now. This expense allows me to be near my loved-one so that I can advocate on his behalf. This expense allows me to know what is going on.

Today I do not know if I need to stay in this place. Today I do not know if my job will be there when I return, but my savings is working for me. I am not stressed about money. This is freeing.

Tomorrow, we contact the lawyer to make sure the Power of Attorney exists with the person we think it does. Tomorrow, we see that the directive includes information about what level of assisted living is desired. Tomorrow, we find out what next steps are inevitable. Tomorrow, we’ll show up for the people we love and do the things they need.

Net Worth Week 6

Gentle Readers,

I’m on a small vacation again, but this time for my graduating relative. Work was ridiculous, and the result is indeterminate, because a family medical emergency was discovered as a result of my travel. I do not know when I will return to work at this point.

The market has taken some value out of my IRA, but volatility is just fierce when you are at a 92% stock allocation.

My family is an interesting bunch, and showing up physically is a thing I’m striving to improve within my own terms. It is not easy for me. I do not drive and some of them live in a place that requires a car. This makes traveling to them difficult. They also are not necessarily the best communicators, which involves extra emotional labor on my part. I want my young relatives to know that they have me in their lives and I want them to have memories with me. Showing up helps with that. If I buy a place that they can visit easily, there could be improvement that way, too. This is even more important after discovering the newest medical emergency.

The percent change returned to -1.0%, but I knew that I worked less last week and spent money on vacation. Not a huge loss.

Date 4/29/16 5/6/2016 5/13/2016 5/13/2016
Joy 1097 1098 1098  1098
Travel 322 322 322 322
Down Payment  18 18 18 18
retirement  21 21 21 21
health  45 45 45 45
Moving  31 31 31 31
EF  9 9 9 9
Business  1 1 1 1
Bed  .29 0.29 0.29 0.29
Life  1097 1526 2004  1716
IRA  7045 7346 7315  7295
Brokerage  219 218 219  218
CC (largest)  0 0 0 0
CC (longest)  0 0 0 0
Rewards Card  -3558 -3426 -3718  -3890
SL 1  -102123  -102222 -102014 -102130
SL 2  -45072  -45102 -44988 -45024
Earnest  -10078 -9632 -9653 -9673
–$150,079 -$149746 -$149289 -$149942
  .99% change .99% change .99% change  -1.0% change

Are you investing in your family time?

It’s Not Work If You Don’t Pay Me

Gentle Readers,

You may have seen my twitter rant. The W2 job is engaged in shenanigans that may require my departure.

I work a full-time gig in a professional capacity. This gig is one in a series of gigs that have supported me since 2012. They come and go. They largely treat us as the highly expendable contingent workers we are. It is not unusual to learn that you are unemployed by a phone call after hours telling you to not come in the next day. It is stressful, but you know this, and should prepare yourself for this as much as you can.

Current gig is with an agency I liked. The past tense is key. The contractor who asked my agency to provide them with workers is a highly dysfunctional work environment. The dysfunction usually does not directly impact me outside of my side-eyeing their behavior and wondering how these workers get through their lives.

This week was different. I was given 3 days to perform a task for work outside of work hours. I said no. In part, because my hours outside of work are fully occupied this week, but mainly because they do not intend to pay me for this work.

They are telling me that I must work for no money. I said no.

I checked in with my agency, because, surely this cannot be a reasonable request. So far, my agency has gotten me an extension to complete the contractor’s request command.

This is not enough.

I asked my agency again how I could possibly be required to complete work tasks for no money. They’ve not yet responded. The contractor has let me know that I will be fired if I do not complete their command since it is a requirement for continued employment.

If I don’t hear from my agency by noon tomorrow, I will let them know that I am prepared to leave my keys at my desk as I leave for my flight on Friday if the command to work without pay is still on the table.

My agency is not going to expect this. We are contingent workers and we are not unionized. We rarely push back against the excesses imposed upon us.

BUT

I have an emotional fuck-off fund. I have my LLC. I have concrete steps I am taking to increase my pay rate for the contingency work. I have enough savings to wait for a new gig. I do not volunteer for corporations.

I do not want to quit this gig. It pays better than many gigs on the market. But even one hour of work without pay is unacceptable.  This agency has engaged in different shenanigans I will write about later, but this egregious act required its own post, in my opinion.

Has an employer ever stolen your hours and money in this way?