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Creating a boy and girl shared room can be challenging, especially as kids get older. You don’t want things to be too girly or too masculine, but you also want it to be memorable and fun. I get it. I have four year old boy girl twins, and they’ve shared a room from the beginning.

The great news is that they both love their space and have never asked to have their own rooms. Over time, I’ve been able to create a cute boy and girl shared room without spending a ton of money.

Since we just updated their room with big kid beds, I wanted to share its most recent transformation with you. No longer do we have two cribs or two toddler beds. We have super tall four year olds who are sharing a very small room in a small house, and they didn’t last long in toddler beds.

This is where my first tip comes in. Find something in the room that can be your focal point, something fun and memorable. For us, that was their beds.

Make it Fun

Because our home is just over 1,000 square feet, there isn’t a lot of room for large furniture. In fact, we couldn’t find a way to fit two twin beds in their small room. So, enter the bunk beds stage right.

Now, I totally fell in love with the bunk bed at Pottery Barn that looks like a playhouse. It’s actually called the Tree House bunk bed, and it’s just so gorgeous, but also very expensive at $1,900. It’s just not a cost I could justify, so I started looking for something similar.

After searching for a few months, I came across these bunk beds. I almost clicked away from the image at first because the bunkbeds featured camouflage curtains that I knew the princess wouldn’t like.

However, once I read the description and realized the camouflage curtains were removable, I started to see the potential. In fact, with the curtains stripped away, it looked really similar to the Pottery Barn version, without the expensive price tag.

I kept an eye on the price, and right after Christmas I bought them when the price dropped under $600 (usually around $800.)

Here’s what the bunk beds look like in their room:

As you can see, these beds are really fun. It made the kids so excited for their big kid room. Having a large piece of furniture in a neutral color set the tone for the entire boy and girl shared room.

What I Love About Bunk Beds

What I love about the beds is that each kid gets to have their own space within the room. My daughter has the top bunk and calls it her “castle.” My son calls his bottom bunk his “cave.” They both think their space is super cool, and we’ve customized it for each one of them. We installed really simple Ikea floating shelves so they can put the books and trinkets they like near their beds.

The mattresses on the beds were generously provided by Tuft & Needle. I wanted to get them the Tuft & Needle twin mattresses because that’s the type of mattress my husband and I have.

My kids were decent sleepers as infants. We sleep trained them to be on the same nap schedule and same night schedule. But, as they got older, they started climbing out of their cribs, and transitioning to toddler beds was a nightmare. They kept ending up in our bed.

Eventually, I gave up and asked Tuft and Needle if they’d consider sending us a king mattress to try so we could have more space. They very generously agreed, but I waited a full year to let you know so I could make sure to give you an accurate review!

Initially, I was nervous to get the T&N mattress at first because I like soft mattresses. Some of the T&N mattress reviews said it was too firm, so I was worried I wouldn’t like it. But, it’s perfect. I’ve had ours for over a year now and the kids have had theirs for almost 6 months. So, I’m finally confident enough to say that we’re really happy with them. After a year of sleeping on it, I have no complaints, and the kids seem to sleep well on them too.

The great news is that once the twins got their bunk beds and their own Tuft & Needle twin mattresses,  they finally wanted to stay in their own beds! Now, don’t get me wrong, I still wake up and find one of them next to me from time to time. But, for the most part, getting them bigger mattresses and a cooler bed made them want to stay in their room. This means more and better sleep for everyone.

Create a Cohesive Look

If you’ve been reading from the beginning, you might remember that my twins had a travel themed nursery. Their nursery walls were grey, and this was before grey was cool, y’all. My mom and mother in law were horrified I was going to paint the walls grey. I did it anyway, though, and everyone eventually loved it.

Because we’ve lived abroad and love to travel, we filled their nursery with maps from all over the world. We also included pictures of us when we lived in the Caribbean, and lots of other fun mementos from friends who live in other countries. I hate to call it a “theme” because it might make people think of a tropical themed bathroom or a Mickey Mouse themed birthday party. So, let’s just call it a cohesive look.

It turns out, the travel photos and artwork were a great choice because all of that has carried over to now at age 4. This means I didn’t have to buy anything new to decorate their room, and I didn’t have to replace nursery art with big kid art.

One of my favorite parts of the room are these scratch off maps that my sister sent the kids for Christmas. You scratch off countries as you visit them. I hope they can scratch off all of them someday!

And here are just a few more pictures of the space:

Overall, I think it’s a room that will definitely grow with them. And, they really enjoyed the freedom to add their dolls and toys and books to their own individual bunk beds. This makes them feel like they get to have somewhat of a say in how their personal spaces are “decorated.”

Really, our only cost in this big kid room update was the bed. We already had their dressers, artwork, and IKEA floating shelves from their nursery. (And, we’ve brought all of it to three different states now!)

I’m hopeful that these two will keep sharing a room for a long time. I just love their bond and their friendship. And, if I can help facilitate that by making their shared room fun, I’m more than happy to do it.

Do you have a boy and girl shared room in your house? If so, how did you decorate it?

The post How to Create a Gorgeous Boy and Girl Shared Room appeared first on Catherine Alford.

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Getting engaged is such a fun time in a couple’s life. After all, you’ve found the one you love. You’re deep into planning your dream wedding. You’ve registered for all the necessities, the menu is set, and the DJ is booked and ready to give you an epic party during your reception.

You might think you know everything about the person you are about to marry and spend your life with, but do you really?

I’ve been married for over 8 years now, and I still find out new things about my husband. Just the other day, I found out he hates hard boiled eggs. I know, it was a thrilling new revelation.

I always tell new couples, though, that they need to talk about money more intimately before they get married. It’s not a secret that financial strain during a marriage can lead to marriage trouble, so before you tie the knot, sit down with your other half and talk about the ten questions below. I promise you won’t regret it!

1 – First things first, how much debt do you have and where is this debt? This is a big question and an important one. Student loans, car loans, credit card balances or any other debt needs to be out in the open for both of you. It’s good to be aware of debts in case one of you loses your job and one person has to take on all the bills.

2 – What is your credit score? If you decide to apply for an apartment or a loan together, it’s nice to know where you both stand with your credit scores. This can help to avoid any awkward conversations if you were to get declined for a loan because of bad credit.

3 – Would you rather spend money on experiences or a home? This is a great question to see where each other’s priorities are. Some people prefer to have a beautiful home and tangible items whereas others like to invest in traveling and experiences.

4 – Do you owe any family members or friends money? Getting financially involved with family and friends can cause an entirely unexpected set of issues. If you do owe money to friends or family, try to make it a priority to pay them back to avoid any tension and animosity.

5 – Do you use credit cards? If so, do you pay them off every month? Some people use credit cards for all expenses to build up credit or earn points for rewards and pay them off right away. Does your future spouse use credit cards because they don’t have money in the bank? If so, that’s a different story so make sure to get on the same page as each other when it comes to credit card usage.

6 – How do you want to handle paying the bills? Will one person be in charge of handling all the expenses, or will it be a partnership? Who will be in charge of certain bills?

7 – Will you have a joint checking account or keep them separate? For the record, I’m a huge believer in a joint checking account and always have been.

8 – Are you a saver and do you have a saving account? Whatever your degree of savings is, you should discuss having a savings account. It’s important to have an emergency fund tucked away in case you need money for medical expenses, vet bills, car repairs, or home maintenance.

9 – Do you want children? This discussion has probably happened long before you got engaged, but it’s important to talk about the financial costs of having kids. Maybe you want one child and your spouse wants three. During this discussion, think about the costs of daycare versus one parent staying at home, whether you want to send them to private or public school, and if you want to pay for their college educations.

10 – Do you have life insurance? Maybe you both have life insurance through work, but that might not be adequate. You want to make sure your loved ones are protected from a financial disaster if you were to unexpectedly pass away. If you have anyone that depends on you financially, then you should have life insurance. Most financial experts, myself included, recommend term life insurance. The amount should be 10-12x your annual salary.

Because money is one of the biggest reasons for arguments between couples, it’s helpful to sit down and get it all out in the open. It may not be fun, but it will help to avoid many issues ahead of time. You’ll feel good to have that conversation behind you and then you can continue planning the wedding!

Did you discuss these things before marriage?

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The post 10 Financial Questions to Ask Before Marriage appeared first on Catherine Alford.

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Last week, my beautiful twins turned 4 years old. I remember the day I decided to share on my blog that I got the world’s greatest 2-for-1 deal. Oh man, I was not expecting that ultrasound tech to show me two babies on the monitor that day. I’ll never, ever forget how the hubs and I felt in that moment knowing that our lives would truly never be the same.

The early days of having them started out so exciting, but as both kids went to the NICU, it was bleak and dark. Even now, I try to stretch my mind to remember what it was like but my brain, protecting me from the truth, often comes up empty.

No one can prepare you for having your own kids, no matter how many siblings you have – no matter how many kids you babysat growing up. It’s just so different when they’re yours. The intensity of those early days rocked our world.

We moved across the country with them when they were 5 weeks old. We stopped at rest stops all the way from Louisiana to New Jersey with these teeny, tiny preemie babies. Our daughter was on a heart monitor that had to be plugged in and charged along the way. I’m sure everyone who saw us at those rest stops thought we were nuts.

Ruthlessly Pursuing Dreams

As I reflect back on the past four years with our twins, I know our lives could have been so much easier had we taken a different path. And yet, we have no regrets.

In 2011, the hubs moved to the Caribbean to start his medical school journey. Then, after three years there, we came back to the States for him to complete his final two years of medical school.

With all of his in-classrom work done, he still had two years of training inside of a hospital left. We knew we’d have to move to whatever hospital his school assigned him to after I had the twins, but we were hoping to have more time at home with our families in Louisiana.

Days after they were born, hubs got an e-mail that said he had to move to New Jersey in 17 days. I’ll never forget that – 17 days.

There we were in this pretty nursery I planned and decorated with these tiny, tiny babies and suddenly we knew we had just over 2 weeks to find a place to rent site unseen, pack up a house, and move – with newborn twins.

All the details are fuzzy, but I remember it was only a few days before we actually moved that we got an apartment and overnighted a check for $6,500 to pay for our deposit, first, and last month’s rent in New Jersey – a sum I painstakingly saved before the twins arrived.

Why did we go through all of that? It would have been so much easier to stay in Louisiana where our kids have 4 grandparents, tons of aunts and uncles, and a strong culture of food, fun, and faith that both of us grew up in.

And yet, sometimes in order to achieve great things, you have to do what is uncomfortable.

After finishing half of medical school, there was no option to quit – hard as it was to leave everyone and everything to move to a state neither one of us had ever been to.

So, we packed those little babies up, and we put them in the car. We drove for 3 days to get to New Jersey. We arrived on a Saturday night and that Monday morning the hubs started his 3rd year of medical school and I stayed home with the twins.

Being a Work-at-Home Mom

In those early days, I was trying so hard to survive. The hubs was gone long hours at the hospital and I had two tiny babies who needed me – a lot. I was working on my business, squeezing in blog posts while the twins napped. I stayed up late writing, woke up every few hours throughout the night to feed the twins, and it was all quite difficult and a blur.

In those early days, I questioned my choice to stay home. For years I’d worked on my business at night after work just so that I could stay home with my kids one day and still have a career.

When I was working towards that goal, I had no idea I was going to have twins. I had visions of me joyfully writing on a laptop with a sweet sleeping baby strapped to my chest. Obviously, that did not happen.

When they were three months old, I asked the hubs if I could go to Starbucks and write while he watched the twins. I only had an hour or two since the kids needed me to eat, but I went anyway.

I sat there in Starbucks with tears streaming down my face and wrote an article for The Huffington Post that went insanely viral.

Hundreds of thousands of people read what my first three months of motherhood was like. I even put on some makeup and did a video interview with the Huffington Post while two babysitters watched the kids in the other room. (Yes, I was so nervous to have a babysitter watch them without me that I asked two of them to be there.)

Still, even though I got everything I wanted, most importantly the ability to stay home and work while being with my kids, I battled severe post-partum depression.

I struggled hard with unwanted thoughts, terrible things that jumped in my brain in the early days. As a more experienced mom now, I now know this is actually quite common, and I’m not the only one who experienced it. Still, when you’re in the moment, you think something is extremely wrong with you.

I got the help I desperately needed, but it was a long road to get me back to who I wanted to be — longer than I expected. Even today, I have to start each day with a positive mindset, practice patience, and take the time for self-care. I know how dark things can be at the bottom, and I don’t want to go back there.

Moving to Michigan

When the twins were 2, hubs applied for residency positions — training necessary after medical school to become a fully licensed physician. Much like the time we got assigned to New Jersey when the kids were newborns, Hubs opened up an email that said we were moving to Michigan for the next four years for his residency position.

We had some time to prepare for that move, and after hubs finished medical school, we even took a month-long trip to Europe as a family with the kids which, for some reason, did not seem like it would be hard at the time (it was.)

Our time in Michigan has been good. My business grew a lot and I worked from home with the help of a babysitter, who came to my house 15 hours a week. She was a God send because among other things, she helped me potty train the twins, which was, like everything else, not an easy task.

I was able to work with top brands, got to fly back to New York city to shoot videos, and I even wrote two children’s books as part of a series called The Twins Go.

 The twins don’t know that they lived in 3 different states before they were 3. Most of their early memories will be here in this house in Michigan. They don’t know about all the times we moved and why we did it – to provide a better life for them. We’ll tell them, of course, as time goes on.

Mostly, I want them to know that if they have a goal or a dream, it’s worth pursuing, even when it would be so nice and cozy and comfortable to keep with the status quo.

Age 4 is Great

When I was in counseling after the twins were born, trying to break free of my depression, my counselor told me that not all moms like the newborn stage. Some do, but if you don’t, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom. She told me to just wait and see how much fun it would be once they started talking and interacting with me.

She was right. And, I could cry writing this with relief that she was right.

The twins as toddlers were just as tough as the newborn days, but once they hit age 3.5, the skies started to clear.

One day, a few months before she turned 4, my daughter helped herself to a piece of bread. She put jelly on it and then made one for her twin brother – just completely on her own without me asking.

Then, my son started to be able to open the car door on his own. He opens it for his twin sister, then runs around the car and opens his own door. They can both get their carseat straps on and close the first buckle.

My daughter picks out her outfit for the next day every evening. My son can zip up his own jacket. They can tell me when they’re hungry, when they’re hurt, and why.

They understand rewards and punishments, and I swear, 4 year old kids have to be the most hilarious people on the planet. They crack me up all day long. The things they say will make you double over with laughter.

Really, I’m cherishing our bond more than ever. I’m so grateful to start the day with them each day, and although the hubs and I discipline often and consistently and sometimes annoyingly, the lessons are starting to sink in. The please’s and thank you’s are coming without reminding. My son is holding open doors for ladies at the gym. They put their plates in the sink and rinse them off. They put their toys back in the playroom. Not all the time, but it’s getting more frequent.

Do they misbehave? Yes. Do they fight with each other? Plenty. But, they are able to reason so much more now and would rather stop bad behavior than lose a toy or get put in time out. It’s so much better than age 2 or 3, when there were a lot more tantrums and a lot less communicating.

I write all of this with such relief because I know they’re going to get more and more independent as time goes on. I write this with relief because on most days, I really, truly enjoy being a mom — and in the beginning, I was so worried that I never would.

These two little people, the Beans, are the absolute loves of our lives. I am filled with gratitude more than I’ve ever felt before when I see them together. I think about how lucky I am to have them and that they have each other.

It’s not always easy, and there are still a lot of ups and downs – especially with the intensity of the hubs’ schedule – but for now, the clouds have parted, and I am finally living out the dream I had for my family. I love these babies so much, and I’m so happy they’re mine. <3

How old were your kids when they started being much easier?!

P.S. You can follow along and see a ton of pictures of the twins on Instagram and also, please subscribe to my YouTube channel as I’m publishing a new video every week.

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The post Reflections on My Twins Turning 4 appeared first on Catherine Alford.

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At the end of last year, I shared on Facebook that I made over $100,000 from my business. I’ve made right around that number before, but for some reason, I felt like sharing it with the world instead of keeping it to myself.

Maybe it’s because we went through hell and back at the end last year. When you have a tough year emotionally and you’re an entrepreneur, it’s hard to know how that will affect income. When I am anxious, I don’t work well. So, maybe I shared my income because it’s a celebration of all that I was able to accomplish – even under duress.

I got a lot of positive feedback from my friends and readers after posting my income. Andy Hill invited me to share how I achieved my $100k milestone on his podcast, Marriage, Kids, and Money. When I talked to Andy, he asked me a lot of questions about how I got started in my business. That conversation took me back to my early days, and for the first time in a long time, I felt really proud of what I’ve accomplished here.

There are many bloggers in my circle who make double, triple, even 10x what I make. At times, it’s hard not to compare. Some bloggers are so successful that they make a $100,000 business like mine look like child’s play. Still, I’m making a point of congratulating myself, and here’s why:

I did this while taking care of my twins.

The most important job I have in my life is taking care of my twins. I spend more time with them than anyone else.

Between my husband’s commute, long hours at the hospital, and taking care of patients on some weekends, my husband is not here in the house for around 80 hours every week.

To compensate for this, I’ve utilized amazing babysitters, the daycare at my gym, and since the fall, pre-school a few mornings a week. For the most part though, I do almost everything that needs to be done for the kids and inside my house.

I organize my kids’ lives, buy them clothes, help them clean out the playroom, and make them apologize to each other when they hurt each other. I also make them every meal. I ask for forgiveness from them myself when I yell too much. I put the bubbles in the bath, know which books they want me to read, and introduce them to the wonders of watching the first Harry Potter movie on the TV.

I pack their lunches for pre-school and fill out all the forms. I make sure they have 42 pairs of mittens for school (or so it seems.) I take them to the mall solely because my son is obsessed with escalators. I let them wear a bathing suit inside every day during the winter because they invented a crazy game called “Pool” where they pretend to dive into the couch cushions as if it was water. Kids.

And, in the early morning when my alarm goes off before they wake up, I’m here at my computer, writing. Sometimes, I have to write while they’re awake and playing, which isn’t that productive. Sometimes, I can hardly keep my eyes open at night after they go to bed, and yet, I still have to write and edit and meet deadlines.

I admit, I miss deadlines sometimes and then have to deal with rude editors who have no clue what my life is like, nor do they care. Sometimes, I hire a babysitter to come so I can work, but I’m so tired I just lay in my bed instead.

Yet still, despite all of this madness, I still grossed $100,000 in 2017.

Where I Earned My Income

The largest portion of my income came from brand partnerships in 2017.

I completed a 5 month partnership with Quicken Loans where we filmed 10 videos, and I wrote 30 blog posts for them. They were an incredible team and amazing to work with. We are still waiting on the videos to come out, and I’ll share them when they do.

I also worked in partnership with Real Simple and Discover Personal Loans. They flew me to New York twice in May 2017 to film videos for them. Despite developing laryngitis right before filming the first video, I somehow kept it together and didn’t talk to anyone for about 24 hours so I could rest my voice and speak on film.

I also earned a portion of my income from speaking. I flew to Dallas in September and spoke to a group of women about how to create wealth.

Another large portion of my income comes from freelancing writing and always has. This is my bread and butter, my steadiest form of income.

In 2017, I also started doing blog management. This is where I run an entire blog for a client. I hire other freelance writers for them, edit blog posts, keep an editorial calendar, manage their social media, and more. I like blog management better than freelance writing in many ways because it’s more dynamic. I like being involved in the growth and results of a blog vs. just sending in a freelance article to them.

I also make money from my course sales. I have a very detailed 29 video course that teaches other people how to make an income from being a freelance writer for blogs.

Lastly, I earn money from affiliate income (recommending other products on this blog) and I earn a teeny tiny bit of income from selling the children’s books I wrote on Amazon.

I have a lot of income streams for a reason. I have to stay diversified to protect myself in case one branch of my business breaks.

To give you an idea of the roller coaster ride that is business income, my highest earning month in 2017 was over $22,000, but I couldn’t have a party and spend it because I also had a month in 2017 where I only earned $4,000.

To repeat, in 2017, one month I earned $4,000 and one month I earned $22,000.

See, entrepreneurship isn’t as glamorous as you might think. It’s very difficult to stay disciplined, and for me as the breadwinner, I do tend to panic when I have a slow month. I’m working on bettering my mindset and staying mentally strong when it comes to business income in 2018.

I know what I’m capable of and I know I can earn a lot. I just have to remind myself of that if I have a slow month.

Where I Spent My Money

This is something important I wanted to address. Again, I got a lot of positive responses when I shared that I made $100,000 last year. But, it would be a disservice of me to let everyone think that I have that amount solidly sitting in my bank account.

This is a business, and it costs a lot of money to run. I don’t net $100,000. I have to pay a lot of money to actually keep the (virtual) doors open.

In 2017, it cost me over $22,000 to run my business.

That means that my net income was roughly $78,000.

Then, there are taxes. Because I am both the employer and the employee in my one-person business, I have to pay what’s called self-employment tax.

I have to set aside about 25% of my net income for taxes, which (to keep the math simple) is around $20,000.

At the end of the day, that means I took home around $58,000.

Not bad for someone who didn’t work one 40 hour week but also pretty far off from $100,000.

It looks a little different when I put it like that, huh?

You might be wondering what types of expenses are common for a business like mine. Here are some examples:

  • 20% commission to my talent agent. I have a wonderful talent agent based in New York City who helps me negotiate brand partnerships. He earns 20% of whatever I earn, which equals thousands of dollars in commissions to him.
  • Legal fees. I trademarked the name of my children’s book series, The Twins Go. Not super expensive, but not cheap either.
  • Social media software. Many bloggers use schedulers to automate their social media. This year, in 2018, I’m paying for comprehensive social media management from The Blonde Spot, which will likely be one of my biggest expenses in 2018.
  • Travel and lodging for the financial blogger’s conference.
  • Website hosting, domain name renewals, monthly tech services from iMark Interactive.
  • E-mail service provider to maintain the blog’s email list is $100/month.
  • Etc. etc. etc.
Why I’m Sharing This

I get as many Facebook ads in my timeline as you do. I constantly see people trying to sell their services, their courses, and their coaching by showcasing how much money they made.

Right now, entrepreneurship is very glamorous in our society. People dream of leaving their corporate jobs and working for themselves. It just seems so much better than sitting in meetings all day. And yes, there are so many people, millennials especially, who do live laptop lifestyles.

However, very few of them net outrageous incomes. That’s not to say it’s not possible because I personally know several million dollar bloggers. It’s just that I don’t want you to think that entrepreneurship is the answer or the escape from your hectic 9-5 life.

In order to be an entrepreneur, you have to have a lot of grit. You have to take a lot of hits. I had 12 publishers turn down my book last year. Twelve. Every time my literary agent pitched the book I want to write, they just kept saying no. One after the other. It was brutal. I’m still waiting for the yes.

As an entrepreneur, you have to be so incredibly disciplined. You don’t have a boss telling you to turn something in. You don’t have a meeting to collaborate with your co-workers. In a business like mine, you’re mostly alone. If you’re a sensitive person like I am, sometimes being left alone to work with your thoughts isn’t always the best. It takes a lot of mental strength to overcome the roadblocks as you meet them.

That said, I have survived and thrived four years of self-employment now. My income grows every year, and I am proud of the work I put out in the world.

I wouldn’t say that I’m happier than many of my friends who have a 9-5 job though. My business brings me a lot of stress, and I’m trying to find better ways to manage it.

The one thing I am happy about is that I set out on my self-employment journey with one goal in mind: to be home with my kids. My plan was to make enough money so that I didn’t have to go back to work until they started school. My twins turn four years old in just a few days. In September, they’ll be headed off to Pre-K for a full 5 days a week.

These next few months will be the last bit of time that I have them at home. It’s bittersweet. In many ways, I am ready. In more ways, they are ready.

It’s time for them to go out into the world and start school, and it’s time for me to really think about what I want for my career moving forward.

Some ideas I have to include:

  • Applying to 9-5 jobs again starting in the fall.
  • Going to business school to get my MBA
  • Using my newfound free time while they’re in school this fall to grow my own business even more (and still be able to pick them up from school at 3 pm.)

No word yet on which way I’ll head. Right now, though, I am just chugging along. I am currently pitching new brands for partnerships. I am looking for one more content management client. I am enjoying making a lot more videos now, which you can see on my Facebook page as they come out. And, I haven’t given up on my book yet. I’m going to revisit my book proposal and edit it and then try to send it out to publishers again.

Ultimately, I’m letting go of the idea that I have to have all the answers now. And for once, my Type A planner self actually feels ok that the future is up in the air.

The post What My $100,000 a Year Business Actually Looks Like appeared first on Catherine Alford.

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I was walking out of the thrift store, arms bogged down with all my treasures (and a firetruck… and a filthy Scooby Doo vehicle… because that’s the only way I got my two toddlers to participate in my thrifting adventures.)

I let a nice, old man go in front of me in the checkout line because he had one item, and I had about a million.

He smiled, and he thanked me. Then he said, nodding at the kids, “Things will get better when they’re about 5.”

I was friendly and chirped, “Great! Good to know!” Big smile on my southern lady face, of course, because that’s what you’re supposed to do.

But, then I got in the car, and his words started to push into me.

First, they came through my ears, of course, as words tend to do. But then they made their way down, trickling through my neck like water that was just a bit too cold. Once the words got to their final destination in my chest, they started simmering, kind of pounding along…

Why did it irk me so much?

You see, my kids were really good in the store. I was considering it a bit of a mom-win, actually.

I let them each select a toy right when we walked in. Then, I used my favorite mom-threat of, “I will give your toys to the trash truck to eat (nom nom nom) if you don’t follow me around and be good.”

Expert level parenting, clearly.

You’re welcome.

All that to say, his comment sparked some self-reflection.

If they were good, did that mean that I wasn’t?

Did he overhear me snap at them in the store? I don’t recall doing it, but is that somehow my normal state now?

Or, did I just seem exhausted, eyes darkened from writing alone at my desk while everyone else slept the night before?

Or maybe I just seemed…off. Off in a way that I definitely feel and yet still cannot quite make it through the fog to really describe or articulate.

Perhaps there’s another explanation:

  1. I was just being typical way-overthinking-things-Cat
  2. Maybe he was just trying to be nice.
  3. Maybe he’s right.
  4. Maybe he just tells this to all moms of small kids who seem to have ants in their pants in the checkout line because they are so very very very excited to be getting a $1 firetruck and $1 filthy Scooby Doo van.

Or, maybe it’s the phrase “It’ll get better.”

God I’m starting to really hate that phrase.

It’s a phrase I used to cling to back in the early days of having infant twins.

I would have clawed my way up a mountain with my bare hands just to reach for and touch those sweet words all strung together like beautiful twinkle lights… It gets better.

But now,  I’ve realized there is really isn’t anything better about the future than there is about today.

Each section of life, each season, each hour, each heartbeat, all comes with its own flavor.

Plus, I think I’ve made myself pretty unhappy lately reaching for the idea that something better is on the horizon. When I look forward too much, it puts me in endurance mode. If it’s going to get better sometime, someday, then I just need to fight my way through the tough parts so they’ll hurry up and be the past.

By Monica Allen

I guess I’m wondering if there is a better way.

What if, instead of telling each other, “It’ll get better,” we tried something else?

What if we just let ourselves feel whatever moment or emotion is there and really examined it… kind of soaked in it a bit… maybe let it burn if necessary and stopped trying to ignore it?

I’ve learned that sometimes when you try to ignore the hard things in life they start knocking on your door. You can put whatever music or podcast in your ears to pretend it’s not there, but the banging will get louder and louder and louder until you address it.

I think those of us who parent young kids spend a lot of time waiting for it to get better. When they’re infants, you’re waiting for them to sleep through the night. When they’re a little older, you’re waiting for them to be potty trained. Then, you want them to be in school. And then you’re tired of driving them to practice and rehearsals and you can’t wait for them to get their own car. And then… they’re gone.

They will be gone someday.

So, this is why I’m going to strive to change this mindset.

The it-gets-better mindset has gotten me into a bad pattern. It’s put me in a habit of using my strong work ethic to power through some hard days. It makes me ignore things instead of addressing them.

Please notice I’m not saying I’m going to cherish every moment or soak in all the beauty of their childhood.

I’m just going to acknowledge whatever is happening in the present and try to photograph it in my mind and hold it there tight for a moment.

Because they weren’t bad in the store today. They were sweet. They were happy. They were thrilled to be getting a toy. They were bursting with joy so much they could hardly keep still.

It was me who looked like I needed to hear it gets better. 

It was me.

And I’d like to change that.

The post I’m Changing My Parenting Mindset – No More “It Gets Better” appeared first on Catherine Alford.

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I was in my usual spot at the gym, not working out – of course – but working. I bring my laptop to the gym almost every day. I mooch off of their free coffee, and my kids play in the gym daycare. I use their high-speed internet, sip my coffee, and write.

But that day was different because as I got all settled in to write, I got the phone call. You know, that kind you hear about but don’t think it’s ever going to be you?

It was the hubs, and he very calmly said, “Catherine, don’t freak out. I was in a car accident. I am ok.”

Grenada, West Indies by Michelle Greer

So, obviously, when someone tells me not to freak out, I go ahead and freak out.

Although I was upset, somewhere internally, deep in my bones, I knew he was okay because he was calling me. He wasn’t in an ambulance or a hospital bed somewhere. I didn’t get a call from a stranger telling me about the accident. It was him, which meant, this wasn’t the end.

Still, he felt so far away. Like I wasn’t connected to him. Like I didn’t even know this person on the other end of the line. My mind was on autopilot. I saw the whole conversation play out in front of me like colorful letters flashing in front of my face. My mind was alert, but my body was frozen. I thought to myself:

He’s telling me he’s fine and doesn’t need to go to the ER. I am telling him he is not fine and he absolutely needs to go to the ER. Back and forth. I’m convincing his co-worker to take him to the ER. I can’t get to him. He’s hurt, and I’m being aggressive and downright rude, demanding that he get every test available. I should be nicer to him. He just got in a car accident. Get the MRI. CT. Whatever they have. He is fine. He will be fine.

Physically, I felt like I was somewhere else, even though I was rooted in my everyday gym cafe universe. I didn’t know what the next steps should be. The hubs told me I didn’t need to drop everything and grab the kids and drive 40 minutes to the hospital. He insisted he was fine. He said our 3-year-old twins didn’t need to be in a germ-infested ER. He promised to get the tests I want him to get. He said he’d be home soon.

But I kept thinking, I’m his wife. I should be there. People’s wives go to the hospital when they get in car accidents. But I didn’t go. He said to stay put, and I listened.

Grenada, West Indies by Michelle Greer

There’s a reason he felt so far away, so disconnected. Before the call, I hadn’t talked to the hubs much at all in the days and weeks prior. He was on night shift, driving into work at the hospital at night while I was on perpetual mom shift, the kind of days and nights that feel like they will go on forever.

My daughter sobbing at the door every single night begging her dad not to go to work. 

The never-ending toddler terrorist demands.

The editors who write in all caps and make me hate my job. HATE my job.

The distance from family.

The pile of laundry that will one day eventually suffocate me. If I ever go missing, I’m in the basement, underneath the dirty clothes.

Paris, France by Localers

I traveled to the Financial Bloggers Conference right before the accident, something I go to every year.

Many of my friends and colleagues asked about the hubs. They knew I’d been quiet. I hadn’t posted on my blog in months…. many, many months. I’d been backing away, burrowing. Cocoon-ing.

I told them the truth when they asked. The hubs hasn’t been great. And neither have I. I put on a good show, but the truth is, nothing could have ever prepared me for this season of my life – of how much hubs being a doctor in residency would test me – of how much the three-year-old twins would test me – of how much this job I created for myself would test me.

The accident, instead of putting my life and my marriage in sharp focus and making us throw ourselves into each other’s arms, instead felt like another elephant to go on top of all the other elephants on our backs.

The hubs, who literally believed he could not take on one more thing suddenly had a broken hand/wrist. His future as a surgeon was suddenly uncertain. All of this work, this effort. Would it be for nothing?

Both of us moving to another country for medical school. Both of us driving our preemie babies across the country so he could start his medical school clerkship. The money we spent on his education. The money we saved so he could fly all around the country doing residency interviews. The nights he hasn’t been home. The moments he missed with the kids. The holiday parties he couldn’t attend. The grass I cut because he wasn’t there to cut it. And the trash I took out. And the snow I shoveled. Every time I had to put a kid in time out, every time I lost my temper with them because I hadn’t had a break. Every time he was about to leave the hospital to come home when an emergency rolled in and kept him there for hours more —- all of a sudden, it seemed like we had spent a decade working towards this life together and it could be gone.

Medical School in Grenada, West Indies

The accident was 8ish weeks ago.

Hubs had surgery to repair the broken hand/wrist. I took him by myself to the hospital and cried most of the time he was back there. I felt so alone in the waiting room. There were so many other families huddled together, chatting, and then there was me with my stupid laptop trying to stay busy.

He was in a cast and then a split and now, nothing. He’s in intense physical therapy. He performed his first minor surgery on a patient yesterday with an attending, a teacher, right next to him to make sure things went ok (they did.)

And, for what it’s worth, I know it could have been worse.

The car was completely totaled. All the airbags deployed. But, he stepped out of the car and walked away. And the driver who hit him? He walked away unscathed.

I have to ask myself, what would have happened if he had died? Furthermore, what would have happened if he died with me feeling so far apart from him, so disconnected? Would I have even been able to remember my last conversation with him? The last words I spoke to him? When was the last time the kids saw him or played with him? With his schedule like it is, I honestly would have had to dig deep to remember.

All that to say, any physician who is currently training in a surgical residency program is going through an experience unimaginable to outsiders. There is literally nothing I can write to explain what it is like for all the surgical residents across the country who go to work every day. Even I don’t fully understand what goes on at his work, but I know that it has changed the hubs. And it’s changed us. And because of that, I do resent it often.

Michigan by Monica Allen

Still, we’re not quitters.

And I’m going to show my kids that even when things are bleak… like really bleak… you don’t quit when you’ve committed to something. We made a commitment to each other, to our families, to our kids, and even to the hubs’ residency program. We honor our commitments and we stick to them, even when every instinct and fiber and molecule and speck of air is screaming at us to run.

This whole thing – you know, the car accident thing – isn’t over.

Hubs is still very early in his recovery. The mental recovery from something like this is stickier and slower than the physical recovery. Physical recovery can be measured by doctors and physical therapists. It can be measured by muscle tone in his hand, the angle that his wrist can flex, the grip his hand can hold.

But mental recovery? It’s kind of like thick, gooey swamp marsh, the kind I used to run around in as a child growing up in Louisiana.

Sometimes you can run across the marsh with ease and sometimes you put your foot down in the mud, and it’s deeper than you thought. Sometimes you get a little stuck and things get messy. The mental impact of this accident was unexpected. Because residency has already taken someone who was mentally strong and wore him down, he was not prepared for this event. Trying to be back at work while trying to recover is kind of like someone aiming a firehose right at his face but also asking him to hold another firehose with a hand that’s still getting its grip back.

Grenada

As for me?

Well, I’m a little tired of cocoon-ing.

I’m tired of burrowing.

And, I’m tired of hiding.

Consider me back here – at this blog – chronicling our lives, the good and the bad, just as I always intended to.

The post When Your Husband Gets Into a Major Car Accident appeared first on Catherine Alford.

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Well, we are officially in back to school season. Kids where I’m from in Louisiana have already started back, and my own kids here in Michigan will start preschool in just a few weeks. (I know; it seems like they were just born.)

Anyway, today I wanted to talk about an experience I had with my kids a few weeks ago, one that caused me to reevaluate a few things.

Considering Summer Camp Withdrawal

Over the summer, my kids had their first experience with summer camp. They went to two different camps, did a ton of crafts, took swimming lessons, tennis lessons, and more.

They were having a great time until my daughter came home from camp one day and told me that someone named “Ms. Melody” hit her on the leg. She seemed adamant about it and was really upset, so I called the camp director.

Unfortunately, there was no one working there by the name Melody, nor was there a child with that name at the camp. There wasn’t even someone with a name similar to that. So, it was really hard to get concrete answers.

Thus far, our kids haven’t made up stories, but once we talked extensively with everyone at the camp, we couldn’t pinpoint exactly what happened. My husband even stayed awake after being on an overnight shift at the hospital to come with me to camp the next day to talk to the staff there.

Anyway, it’s hard with 3-year-olds because they can talk but don’t really have the depth of language to fully explain things. To me, it was very unusual for her to say that out of the blue, but at the same time, she couldn’t point out a “Miss Melody” when her Dad and I walked into camp with her.

We selected this camp for a particular reason because of their stellar reputation, and when we walked into camp to try to figure out the situation, they bent over backward to make sure my daughter was ok. In the end, we decided to keep sending her to camp because she didn’t seem to have any anxiety once we talked about the situation.

She and her twin brother finished out camp happy and with lots of crafts and stories about nature walks etc. to bring home. Still, the whole experience kind of rocked my world for that week.

Had I pulled my daughter out of camp, though, I would have lost around $100-$200 since the camp fee was nonrefundable. Clearly, her safety is paramount, and I would have taken her out of camp in one second had I felt she was in danger. But, she did seem okay in the end, and although I’ll never know exactly what happened, she does still talk about the camp in a positive way.

The Financial Impact of Withdrawing from College

Considering taking my daughter out of camp and potentially losing money made me think about kids who have to withdraw from school on a larger scale – like college.

Lots of people focus on student loans as one of the bigger problems facing college students today, but there’s a quieter problem that people are finally starting to discuss.

This problem is that there are many college students who are overwhelmed, stressed, and suffer from anxiety. Sometimes, this gets so bad that they have to withdraw from school.

In fact, The National Alliance on Mental Illness did a survey of students who dropped out of school, and of them, 64% of respondents said they were no longer in school due to a mental health related reason.

In related news, the folks at Allianz Tuition Insurance recently released the Allianz Tuition Insurance College Confidence Index which indicates that nearly half of America’s college age students anticipate the need to withdrawal.

That’s not only a lot of people but a lot of tuition money that could be lost if families don’t understand their institution’s refund policy. In fact, 85 percent of parents agree that the financial implications of college withdrawal could be severe, thus impacting their daily life and their child’s ability to one day return to school.

Then, there are other reasons kids withdraw from school, like to take care of a sick family member or to go home if they have a serious illness of their own. Sometimes, they determine that a particular program or school just wasn’t the right choice for them.

It’s disappointing to think of the financial repercussions that can accompany a withdrawal on this scale. Our twins’ safety will always come first, but my husband and I were hesitant to lose a few hundred dollars and we can’t imagine being out thousands.

How to Prevent Expensive School Withdrawals

Obviously, you can’t prevent your child getting sick, but I think we can reduce some of the other reasons for school withdrawals by having a lot more open conversations with our kids.

I know my kids are little, and I am far from a parenting expert. However, I just got the first taste of some of the stress parents can experience when they send their kids off to school (or in my case, camp.)

So, I wanted to list out a few ways parents can talk to their kids before the school year begins to help keep the lines of communication open whether you have a kid in grammar school, high school, or college.

  • Set your expectations: It’s good to have high expectations of your kids but not so much that they wake up stressed every day. Tell them you expect them to attend class and try their best. Tell them to let you know if they are having trouble with a particular class. Sometimes kids get stressed and don’t want to talk to their parents about their problems for fear of disappointing them. How you handle their setbacks will determine how much they will confide in you in the future.
  • Stay in their business: Once your child is in college, they are technically adults. However, they don’t have the full responsibilities that adulthood brings. So, stay in their business. Ask what they’re doing. Ask who they are spending time with. The more you know about them, the easier it will be to tell if they are withdrawn, ill, unhappy, or uncertain about their choices.
  • Protect your investment: If you do have a student heading off to college right now, consider buying tuition insurance. This protects you financially in the event your child does have to withdraw from school.

Ultimately, my experience with my kids this summer only gave me a small taste of the type of stress that comes with having school age children. My kids have a long way to go before they head off to college, but I know I’ll be working hard to ensure that they are safe, happy, and adjusted in every school they attend from now until then.

Have you ever had to take your kid out of a particular school, camp, or extracurricular activity? What was your experience like, and why did you do it? Did you suffer a financial loss because of it?

FTC Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Allianz Global Assistance (AGA Service Company), and I received financial compensation for it. All opinions and stories mentioned here are my own.

The post Student Loans Aren’t The Only Problem Hitting College Students Today appeared first on Catherine Alford.

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Adulting: it’s hard. I’m now 30 years old, and I’m still overwhelmed by the days I have to #adult with the best of them.

Back when I started college, there were so many things about life and money I didn’t know. In fact, it’s hard to believe it’s been about 8 years since I finished college.

I’ve grown so much since that time, and it’s become my goal over the years to help those younger than I am make intelligent and thoughtful decisions about their finances.

I should note it’s important to know these things now rather than later. The younger you are when you get your financial act together, the longer you’ll get to experience fulfillment and independence throughout the rest of your life.

So, this particular post is for those of you out there who are looking forward to starting college this fall or those who know someone who is.

In many ways, college is a time to test out the adult waters before you really have to navigate them all on your own. So, while you’re there, try a few of the money tips below.

1. Make Your Own Money

Even if your parents give you spending money for college, you should absolutely make your own money in school.

Making your own money equates to freedom and independence. When I was in college, my parents put $100-$200 a month on a prepaid card for food and other expenses, but I had numerous jobs in college too.

My first job with an actual paycheck in college was working at the special collections library. I made a whopping $5.40 an hour, and I will never forget it. Eventually, they gave me a raise to $6.40 per hour, and I felt like I made the big leagues.

I also worked at a scrapbook store, taught dance to 3 year olds, and tutored on the weekends. I used my extra money for travel, for fun, and to eat out. Having extra money is great because you don’t have to ask for the things you want, and it gives you a sense of pride and ownership.

2. Know What You Spend

It seems simple, but knowing what you spend is probably one of the simplest habits to start but one of the hardest to maintain.

Much like exercising or dieting, tracking your expenses is great at first when the goal is fresh. Then, it gets tedious over time. However, if you use a free app like Personal Capital, you can link all your accounts and see your spending in one place.

I check my Personal Capital account every day. I always know where my money is going, and it’s helped me to learn what my weak points are (I’m looking at you, Starbucks.)

If you can get this money habit down as a college student, though, you’ll be far ahead of the rest of your peers in terms of money management.

3. Plan for Emergencies

When you’re young, you feel invincible. However, there are a variety of emergencies and unexpected events that can pop up while you’re in college.

You might have a sick family member you need to take care of, or you might get sick yourself. It’s also more common than you think to struggle with stress and depression during college and feel like you need to drop out of school for the time being.

In fact, according to recent Allianz Tuition Insurance research, 43% of college students said they agree or strongly agree with the statement that they’ve thought about withdrawing from their college program. On average families estimate the financial loss from withdrawal to be between $9,000-11,000.

Think about what $10,000 could buy. To protect your tuition money if you have to leave school, you or your parents should consider getting tuition insurance. For relatively little cost, it will give you financial security and peace of mind if you have to leave school. When you save your tuition money you help make sure you have the option to return to school later.

4. Know the Rules of Credit Cards

For many people, credit cards can be a great tool for convenience. However, when you’re young and just starting out your financial life, it’s important to learn as much as you can about getting a credit card and the responsibility that implies.

Since 2009, credit card companies are not legally allowed to market to college students within 1,000 feet of a college campus. This law, also called the Credit Card Act, is meant to protect college students.

Before this law passed, credit card companies marketed heavily to college students, often offering free t-shirts and other items in exchange for filling out credit card applications. This often led to poor credit card practices, credit card debt, and more, especially for college students who weren’t educated on the topic.

So, before you head off to school, talk to your parents about how to build your credit responsibly, what to do when you get credit card offers in the mail, and how to talk to credit card marketers who might approach you while you’re out and about off campus.

5. Only Take Out The Loans That You Need

When I was in college, I just accepted the student loans my school offered me. When I graduated, I didn’t even know how to find out how much I owed. I had to call my school’s financial aid office, and they had to walk me through the process of how to figure out what my debt numbers would be.

That’s hard to admit now, but it’s true. So, now when I talk to college students as a financial expert today, I encourage them to be very proactive right from the start. Know exactly how much you’re taking out in student loans, and only take out what you will need.

Add up your loans as you go through school, apply to as many scholarships as possible using apps like Scholly, and try not to borrow more money in total than you will make in your first year out of school.

6. Don’t Beat Yourself Up Over Money Mistakes

As mentioned above, I made my own fair share of money mistakes when I was younger. While I wish I hadn’t made many of them, each one taught me valuable financial lessons.

Don’t expect to go through college without making mistakes; that’s part of becoming an adult. However, do try to avoid the really big money mistakes like getting into too much credit card debt, taking out extraordinary amounts of student loans, or signing contracts (like lease agreements) without carefully reading the terms (been there, done that.)

The point is that you can absolutely have a successful financial life if you start saving, tracking and protecting your finances now when you’re young, but don’t feel like you have to be perfect when it comes to your money.

For college students, this is going to be the first time many of you have responsibilities like paying rent or managing a budget. This might even be when some of you will get your first paycheck, file your taxes for the first time, and even experience your first share of hardship or a health emergency.

So, in order to get through the ups and downs of college life and managing money, try to consider the tips I mentioned before. Trust me, your future self will thank you.

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Allianz Global Assistance (AGA Service Company) and my business, www.CatherineAlford.com, received financial compensation for it. All opinions and money mistakes mentioned above are all from yours truly.

The post 6 Things Every College Student Should Know About Money and Adulting appeared first on Catherine Alford.

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Every now and then on the blog, I like to do what I call an entrepreneur spotlight. I love talking to other entrepreneurs, especially women entrepreneurs, and learning how they overcame obstacles to build their businesses.

Today, I’m sharing an interview I did with Shannon McLay, a financial expert who hosts an award winning podcast called Martinis and Your Money. Shannon has expanded her business to include a brick and mortar location. Read on about how she’s changing the money landscape in New York City.

I met Shannon McLay a few years ago, first online through our blogs and then in person. I wrote on my blog that I was moving all the way from Louisiana to New Jersey, and she reached out to find out where.

Coincidentally, I moved only 40 minutes from her house, so she came over to my apartment armed with casseroles and delicious smelling candles to help me ease into my new life as a mom of twins who just moved across the country.

From the first time I met Shannon, she told me about her idea for The Financial Gym, a place where the average person could go to get money advice without worrying about having a gazillion dollars to invest.

I watched The Financial Gym go from just a concept to an actual reality. A few weeks ago I walked down 5th Avenue in New York City and passed by her first brick and mortar location.

It took a lot of time and hustle, but The Financial Gym is now a real living and breathing company in one of the biggest cities in the world.

Below is Shannon’s story on how she made this dream become a reality. I hope you enjoy my interview with her and that you find some inspiration from it.

Hi Shannon! First, could you please tell me a little bit about your background as a financial expert? What types of jobs have you held in the financial sector?

I worked for 13 years in various areas of the financial services industry including investment banking, institutional fixed income sales, hedge fund sales and management, and financial advisory.

Three years ago I left the traditional financial services world and started my company, The Financial Gym, which provides financial planning and guidance for people of all ages and financial types.

Working for large financial companies is undoubtably a lucrative career choice, especially as you advance over the years. What made you want to quit working in corporate finance and start your own company?

When you work for a large financial services company, you ultimately end up in a box; and over time it becomes increasingly more difficult to break free of your box and try a new box on for size.

For example, I worked in the commercial bank at Bank of America and helped mid to large sized companies manage their cash investments. I was paid well for the job that I did, but I didn’t have the opportunity in the bank to do something different.

There are so many specialized jobs like this within a large organization, and many people spend their whole careers working in them. I didn’t want to have a career stuck in a box, especially because there was always the possibility that the bank could get rid of the box at any time, and I would not be prepared for another job.

Despite not wanting to be stuck in one spot with a large organization, I also saw a need for a different kind of financial services, and my passion for helping others moved me to make the leap and start my own company.

How did the idea for the Financial Gym come about?

While I was working as a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch, I met a number of people who didn’t have $250,000 in assets, but wanted to pay for personalized help from a person and not a website or an app.

I didn’t have a means to assist them while I was at Merrill, but I put together plans for them on the side. After one meeting where I presented a basic financial plan to one of these pro-bono clients, she looked me in the eyes and said “You know you’re saving my life right?” In that moment, I knew that I needed to leave Merrill Lynch and start a company for people like her.

Every financial services company wants to work with people with wealth; however, no one wants to help people who are starting out and trying to build wealth and pay down debts. Around this same time, I had just recently lost 50 pounds between dieting and working out, and I remember thinking that there were plenty of places for me to go to get physically healthy, but if I wanted to get financially healthy, my options were severely limited.

I had the vision of the financial gym as the place that people could go to get financially healthy, and I always imagined financial gyms across the country where people could go no matter what their financial body type looks like.

It took you a few years before you opened up your first physical location for the Financial Gym. What hurdles did you encounter going from idea conception to brick and mortar business?

In the financial services startup world, 100% of venture capital money goes to fintech companies. Actually a large majority of early seed start up funds are focused on technology solutions; therefore, I had to get creative with my fundraising and really dig deep into my network to find people who believed in the concept and my vision.

Even today as we are planning the next round of growth, it’s difficult to find the right investors given the fact that our business model is completely unique. Venture capital investors love to follow patterns (look how many apps there are out there) and very few like to help companies create new patterns.

In addition to my unique business model, I am also a female founder and only 7% of female founded businesses actually receive venture capital funding. Despite these headwinds, our business continues to grow and we are changing the financial lives of hundreds of people everyday. One day, the VC’s will catch up.

Who is the Financial Gym for? What can people expect to learn when they visit the gym?

The Financial Gym is for anyone looking for personalized help with their money. Our typical clients have all tried the apps like Mint.com, YNAB, Betterment and realized that they only solved part of the problem and that they needed someone to look at the whole picture and put the pieces together for them.

Not only that, but they also need the accountability to stay on track to achieve their financial goals. When people visit the financial gym, they can expect a comfortable and friendly environment where they can feel free to share their money stories and know that a financial trainer will not only help them, but will also care about their journey.

Traditional gyms have barbells and treadmills, and we have kleenex and wine.

We understand that personal finance is personal and dealing with money is often emotional and creates great anxiety. We don’t want our clients to stress about their money; we want to empower them and help them achieve the goals they never dreamed possible. We see it every day at the gym.

What do you think is the biggest struggle for the average person when it comes to their personal finances? Or, what seems to be the most common problem you encounter with your gym clients?

I think the biggest struggle most people have with money is mindfulness. A frequent comment from most gym members when they start out is, “I have no idea where my money is going.”

We have a tracking system like Mint.com, and we help our clients not only figure out where their money is going, but also how they can successfully prevent it from leaving or at least not wasting it on expenses that are not important to their overall goals.

What advice would you give to an entrepreneur who is trying to make their business goals a reality? What are some of the problems they should watch out for in their entrepreneurial journeys?

I think that before you pursue an entrepreneurial endeavor, you need to make sure that you are filled with not only passion but as many financial resources as you can secure.

Even the greatest ideas will take time to develop, and the financial resources will help sustain you on that journey and your passion will fuel you through all of the rejection you will face because it’s inevitable that not everyone will love your vision. As long as you have the passion and the funds, though, you will get your business to the place you want it to go.

What are your plans for the future of the Financial Gym?

This year we plan to hire new financial trainers, invest in marketing, and expand to other locations. My vision is to have financial gyms across the country and to-date we are just located in New York City and work with people remotely. Soon people will be able to walk into a financial gym in their neighborhood.

Where can people learn more about the Financial Gym?

People can find out more about the financial gym at our website. They can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram under the Financial Gym and hear more about it on my podcast, Martinis and Your Money on iTunes.

Thank you, Shannon, for your time! I am rooting for your success!

The post How One Entrepreneur Left High Finance to Help the Little Guys Win With Money appeared first on Catherine Alford.

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