Thinking women's money blog. Here on Femme Frugality you’ll find articles about specific things I’ve done to handle my finances as they pertain to each area of my life. Follow this site and get commentary on women's finance and current events in the financial world.
This post is in collaboration with The Mattress Factory.
In case you’re not down with long lines and waking up super early to take advantage of all the deals this weekend, I wanted to take a minute today to let my Pittsburgh fam know about a cool event going on this weekend in the Burgh.
It’s called Family Day, and it’s happening at the Mattress Factory–which is a place all Pittsburghers should check out if they haven’t already. It’s probably my favorite museum in the city.
Family Day is free with the price of admission (and don’t forget that admission is heavily discounted if you or someone in your party has an ACCESS card!) and will highlight some of the museums art programs for all ages. All the programs are going to be free with the price of admission.
Here’s the Mattress Factory’s description of this program, which typically runs from 10a-12p on the second and fourth Saturday of every month:
“Let your early learner’s creativity run wild, with art and play activities, designed specifically for children ages 3-5. From confetti cannons to turntable drawings, Mini-Factory activities emphasize experimentation and encourage children to explore ideas inspired by Mattress Factory Artists.”
Normally this program costs $5 per participating child, but this weekend you’ll be able to participate for free.
This program runs from 1p-4p on the first and third Saturday of each month, and is included in the price of your admission always. This is the program is more geared towards adults than the others, but anyone can participate:
“ARTLab is a hands-on, drop-in, interactive program designed for visitors of all ages. During ARTLab, participants are invited to explore, play and experiment with projects inspired by current exhibitions, artists and ideas. “
INSTALL: Afternoons @ The Factory
This free program runs every Wednesday from 4p-6p and is geared towards kids in third to fifth grade. While the program is free, you do have to register beforehand in order to participate:
“Spend your Wednesday afternoons hanging out with the fabulous folks at the Mattress Factory! Meet artists, explore the museum’s galleries and create your own art installations. Put your creativity helmets on and get ready for fun at the Mattress Factory!”
Teen Art Cooperative
This is a super structured program for teenagers–especially those who want to go into the arts professionally. It runs on a year long schedule between October and May, meets every Thursday and regular participation is a must:
“TEEN ART COOPERATIVE is a year-long program for teens focused on collaboration, creative practice and exploration. This program is for self-motivated students who are interested in learning about how a museum operates as well as how to sustain a life of creative practice [translation: be an ARTIST].
Teens are given the support and space they need to develop new ideas, experiment with new materials and collaborate with each other. They will work closely with local artists and museum staff to learn about contemporary art in a direct, hands-on way, developing new skills and exploring creative resources and careers.
Over the course of the year, Co-op members become artists in residence, guest curators, exhibition installers and event planners. Students utilize the resources of the museum and Pittsburgh’s creative community to culminate in a collaborative art event of their own design.”
Guess what? This program is 100% free. But since the time commitment is such a strong part of the program, it isn’t a bad idea to get out to Family Day this weekend to check it out and make sure it’s a good match for your teen.
Family Day at the Mattress Factory
Like we talked about above, all of these programs will be on display this Friday, November 23rd from 11a-4p. You will have to pay admission to the museum, and prices are as follows:
Regular Admission: $20
Seniors & Students (including K-12 students): $15
Children ages 6 and under: FREE
CMU, Pitt, Point Park & CCAC Students: FREE with a valid student ID
Northside Residents: Half-off regular admission if you live in one of the following zip codes: 15212, 15214 and 15233.
ACCESS Families: If anyone in your family has an ACCESS card, up to four people in your party get in for $1 per person.
This weekend is a big deal, but all the discount options make admission to the Mattress Factory worth it any time!
Have fun, friends! And if you go, tag me in your Twitter or Insta photos! I’m @femmefrugality on both.
I’ve been working as a freelancer since I was 19. There were definitely breaks in there of unemployment and W-2 employment, but it’s a business model I’ve been familiar with since a relatively young age.
I mean, you think you’re familiar with it. But then you find out a new “con” of switching to an LLC. Or realize you forgot to record expenses last month and now have to go back and pour over bank statements. Or you finally recognize that you’re worth more than you are charging.
Setting yourself up as a freelancer doesn’t have to be hard, but you should understand that you don’t know what you don’t know. You don’t always know the questions you should be asking, and you need someone to guide you through the process.
I feel like very few of us have had that mentor. Instead, we’ve just learned along the way.
Bravely Freelancer Guide
Bravely Freelancer Guide is that mentor. It was created by Kara Perez from Bravely who is making awesome things happen in the female money space, especially in her hometown of Austin, Texas.
The guide and accompanying educational videos go over oh, so many things you should know before you get started. That includes:
Deciding between an LLC and Sole Proprietorship.
What you are and aren’t allowed to do as far as banking goes.
How to price your services.
Why emergency funds are so crucial to freelancers–and how big they should be.
How to pitch potential clients.
Statements of Work.
Keeping Profit/Loss Sheets.
The exciting world of quarterly taxes.
How long to hold onto business documents.
I learned some new stuff from this guide that I’m going to start implementing. Like I found out there are probably some documents I’m still holding onto that I don’t need anymore. So I’ll clear out some room in my drawers. I’m even reevaluating my pricing structure for my services once again.
The Education You’ll Be Grateful For
Almost every last freelancer I’ve talked to about getting up and running has said two things:
“I just wish I had someone to teach me all this stuff at the beginning.”
“Why didn’t I take the plunge and do this earlier?!”
It’s not so much that there’s a lot to know when you start your freelancing journey–it’s moreso that you don’t know which questions you should be asking. But a lot of people get so intimidated by the unknown that they never get started.
Kara does a beautiful job of putting those questions and their answers together in a simple, easy-to-digest way. It will help you actually launch your freelancing business without experiencing that overwhelm. Highly recommend checking it out today.
Freelancers: What is one question you wish you had asked when you were getting started?
This post is brought to you and contributed by Susan Ranford.
There is a recent Harvard study that says that millionaires who made their own fortune (weren’t born or married into it) are happier than those who inherited their millions. The study went on to say that the happiest kind of millionaires are the ones that end up giving their fortunes away to charity.
As a struggling “thousandaire” trying to make it into the millionaire status, giving all your money away seems rather counterintuitive. Although that might be your viewpoint right now, things might very well change once you make that first million…ten million and so on. They say the first one is the hardest to make. Supposedly they just come pouring in once you have gotten over that first $1 million hurdle.
To help you get to that first million faster, here are some habits that will make you a millionaire.
Habits that Will Help Make You a Millionaire
Turns out, all millionaires have a few things in common. These include:
1. Passion and Dedication
You probably already know this; if you are not passionate about something, you won’t give it as much effort and time as you would to that which you love. Well, turns out millionaires have extreme levels of passion for the things that they do.
Of course, there are those who invest in things they think are wonderful business ideas and opportunities without necessarily being dedicated to and passionate about those things. What you need to remember is that these kinds of venture-capitalists are passionate about finding the right, undiscovered opportunities in which to stake their money.
2. Massive Dreams and Ambitions
No one ever made it big by just lying around without ambitions. Take Oprah for example: when she first tried getting into television, her producer told her she wouldn’t make it because she was too emotional. But instead of giving up, she was determined and built a brand off of her feelings–those things that connect to humanity’s core. Now she’s Oprah.
Bottom-line, you need to have massive dreams and impossible ambitions if you want to get anywhere in this life.
3. Evolve and Improve
You have to be constantly working at improving yourself. We are talking about all facets of your life. Whether it be:
Your health (by far the most important)
Your intellect (comes in handy when dealing with tricky situations that could lose you money)
Your network (always look to surround yourself with the right people)
Your habits (get rid of the old, negative ones and adopt new positive ones)
It is through the little things that you build an empire. If you are determined to build wealth through investing, then you should be doing something to improve your investing skill set every single day. It is just that simple. You become an expert at what you repeatedly do with a purpose.
4. Daily Goal-Setting Increments
Mark Twain said, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.” The idea is to develop excellent habits but with daily increments. If you have been doing things that earn you $100 a day, then your goal and ambition should be to increase on those things and start doing that which will earn you $150 a day. Then go to $200 and so on.
The underlying habit will remain intact (you will always be setting daily goals). The only difference is that the goals set will increase in quality and output.
5. Embrace and Learn from Mistakes
Most people are afraid to fail at something and as a result, never really get to try anything worthwhile. This is something that most millionaires have in common; they aren’t afraid to take calculated risks. They accept the fact that sometimes things might not go the way they plan them to at all.
In many cases, the likelihood of failure is much higher than that of success. They do not let this knowledge paralyze them or make them timid about trying out new money-making ventures. Instead, they embrace the fact that no matter how well thought out a plan can be, there is still a very good chance that it will fail at some point. The idea is to not let that notion stop you from trying but to embrace that fact and learn from those failures so you can better your chances of succeeding in the future.
In the entrepreneurial world, no one goes from zero to hero in one fell swoop. These things take time and there is a process. You have to:
Equip yourself with the right skills.
Constantly improve on those skills.
Be extremely resilient.
Have the big picture in mind at all times.
Most of all, you have to know that lady luck tends to smile most often on those who are prepared to take advantage of the opportunities she presents. After all, they do say that fortune favors the brave.
Simply sitting back and hoping to win the lottery might work for some people, but it does not work for the vast majority of humanity. The odds are just too slim. The best thing to do is come up with a tangible and plausible plan on how you are going to make your money and then get to work immediately. It is never too late to start.
We talk a lot about retirement on personal finance blogs. We talk about how important saving is from a young age. We talk about what FIRE looks like for those with high incomes early in their careers.
But what we don’t often talk about is what traditional retirement looks like. For those who have to or choose to work their whole lives, who may not want to move away from their grandchildren in order to lower their cost of living. This is where the vast majority of people will end up.
I’m not going to lie: if you don’t save and/or are unable to save because of income restraints, retirement can look a lot like poverty. Many times, they’re one in the same.
But I don’t want to go down that dark path today. Today, I want to show you what traditional retirement can look like if you save money throughout your career. I want to show you beautiful surroundings, vibrant social lives and what it looks like to progressively add more healthcare to your wellness regimen.
This fall, I had the opportunity to tour Providence Point here in Western Pennsylvania. As I drove through the gate, I was immediately impressed. Initially, it just looks like a really nice neighborhood with single-floor, patio home condos. The grounds are well kept. The sidewalks meander across relatively flat roads (which is a big deal for us here in Appalachia.)
First, I got to tour one of these condos. Appropriately, it was number 412. For those of you not from Western PA, one of our major area codes in this region is 412.
It was absolutely gorgeous. It’s probably a bit bigger than the place I currently rent, and it had two bedrooms, high ceilings, a massive garage, first-floor washer/dryer and walk-in closets. Honestly, I love the place I’m living now, but if housing was the only thing Providence Point offered, I’d be making a step up if I moved there.
As you age, you can opt to move into a smaller apartment closer to the main hub of Providence Point, or even into special areas of the retirement complex where they have more medical care.
There was so much to do here! While I was there I got to see the chapel, the state-of-the-art gym and pool where personal trainers work 1:1 with residents, the billiards room, a fun lounge bar, the bank, the art studio, the wood shop, a mini movie theater, the library and several of the five dining experiences on campus.
On top of living here–with all these social activities on campus everyday–the community also plans outings on a regular basis.
I remember one time when I was a little younger, my aunt was complaining about the cost of attending so many of her friends’ weddings. Everyone was getting married.
In the book we talk about how important it is to have meaningful work in our lives. I got to witness some of it shown here at Providence Point.
“When you get to be my age, everyone’s having funerals,” my grandma said, looking off into the distance with her arms folded.
She’s old world low-key. All my grandparents were.
The point is that these social experiences are important. As you get older, there’s less people of your own generation. It can get become difficult to find people to connect with. When those social connections are missing, our health literally suffers. Those necessary social experiences are abundant at retirement communities like Providence Point.
Aging Into Care
We all like to think we’ll be completely independent forever, but the reality is that we age. Our health declines. Our bodies start failing us.
At Providence Point, they explained their process to me–you live independently in the patio house condo as long as you can, but when you need more long-term healthcare, they have the facilities and professionals available to help you get the care you need without having to go through the stress of locating a nursing home, moving to said nursing home, potentially selling your house, etc.
Everything’s taken care of–including you.
Of course, staying in a nice place like Providence Point costs money. That’s why all us personal finance bloggers are so gun-ho about starting to save early on. Yes, it’s super nice if you can retire in your 30s and travel the world, but even if you work a normal-length career, you’re going to need money to facilitate quality accommodations and care as you age.
That money can help you stay close to your grandchildren. It can help you not be a burden on your adult children. It can help put a roof over your head in a nice community with other people who truly “get” your life experiences. It can get you healthcare and entertainment.
So how much is it to get into Providence Point?
First, you need to know how it works. You sign over your retirement savings to the community. Then, that money will be drawn upon to pay your monthly bill. There are different levels of plans, some of which allow you to get 50% of your money refunded, some which allow you to get 90% of your money refunded, and some which allow for no refunds at all.
The minimum initial amount you’ll need to get in to Providence Point is $250,000. Though the place I viewed–412–required a $750,000 deposit. From there, monthly rates vary. If you opt for an apartment, potential monthly bills start at $2,386, while the patio home condos start at $5,387.
That number might seem crazy high, but it’s not just rent. That number includes all your utilities, cable, meals, landscaping, every-other-week housekeeping, local transport through a community-based bus system, access to all the amenities, spa services, underground parking for those who opt for an apartment, and healthcare services.
That’s pretty much everything you need for $64,644/year if you get a patio home like 412. It’s the services you need at each stage in the aging process. It’s access to social connections which may be difficult to find elsewhere. It’s having the ability to hold onto your independence as long as you can, and then avoiding a whole lot of stress when you finally do need more help.
TLDR: Start saving for retirement. For a lot of people, places like Providence Point may seem like an unobtainable goal. But it’s within your reach if you start saving early and often.
But I don’t think I’ve told you guys yet about how I actually got to Japan. At least not in detail.
I flew myself and my sibling from my home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Tokyo for free. And not free as in, ‘I only paid fees!’ I mean free as in I didn’t have to pay for those, either.
How We Flew to Japan for Free
This was a long process that took place over many years. I was saving up miles for emergency situations, but also I had this trip in the back of my mind. The way I did it was I picked one specific airline, opened up credit cards which awarded me with miles for that airline, and then earned the bonuses. Whenever I travelled for business or took a trip just for fun, I made sure to use that same airline, and doubled my miles by using one of their branded cards to pay.
That resulted in a large stockpile of miles, which I then used to book a flight to Tokyo. I really wanted to fly first or business class because after our initial layover, it was a thirteen-hour flight. But when I went to book, they didn’t have any awards seats available in business class for the dates I wanted to travel.
It turned out okay. Because I was the one “paying,” my sibling took the middle seat on all the flights. I got a neck pillow which was the best $20 investment ever. And even in economy seating, the number of free movies and games to play on the seatback kept me entertained during the periods when I wasn’t trying to awkwardly position my laptop.
Would business class have been better?
But economy wasn’t as big of a nightmare as I thought it would be, and now I still have a ton of miles leftover for whatever my next sojourn may be.
When I booked my flight, I used my miles, but I used a different credit card to pay the fees. This card allows me to use each point as a penny when I redeem against travel purchases. I earn two points for every dollar spent. I had enough points built up to completely cancel out the $100 in fees for the two tickets.
How You Can Get Started on Your Next Free Flight
When I first started my travel hacking journey, I chose to hone in on one airline. It worked out fine, but I did have a little trouble finding flight availability. I’ve actually thought about taking this trip prior to the cherry blossom season of 2018, but I guess it’s a popular route and my travel dates weren’t flexible enough.
If you want more flexibility with your travel dates and rewards redemption, you’re probably going to want to look at a credit card that accrues points which are redeemable against travel purchases—regardless of the airline. A great one that just recently came out is the PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express Card.
A lot of rewards cards will waive the annual fee for the first twelve months, but then you have to pay a fee every year after that just to keep the card open. With the cards I have, that fee has been anywhere between $79-$95, but it can be much higher.
The Pathfinder card doesn’t have an annual fee. At all. Even after the first year.
When you sign up for the card, you have three months to spend $2,500. If you meet this minimum spend, you will be rewarded with 25,000 bonus points.
You earn 1.5 points on every purchase, and 3 points on all travel-related purchases. If you’re a member of the military or have a PenFed Access America Checking Account, you’ll earn 4 points on all travel-related expenses.
Let’s say in those first three months you don’t spend any money on travel, but you do meet that $2,500 minimum spend right on the nose. You’d earn 1.5 points for each dollar spent, giving you 3,750. Add in the 25,000 point signup bonus, and you have 28,750 within three, short months.
You must redeem your points within the PenFed rewards portal. However, within the portal you can book with your choice of eleven different airlines:
Delta Air Lines
The Points Guy estimates that each point earned is worth 0.85 to 0.90 cents when you redeem for airline travel. That means your 28,750 points are potentially worth $258.75 towards your next flight. Not a bad start!
Like I said, this was a trip years in the making, but I’m glad I got started with rewards points and miles when I did. The timing ended up being perfect as we visited Japan at one of the most beautiful times of year during one of the years when I needed to see beauty most.
Have you ever used rewards points to book a free flight? Tell us your story in the comments!
The first performance I want to highlight is Aga-Boom, which looks like an insanely fun show. Coming through town on November 9th an 10th, it’s a physical comedy act featuring three former Moscow Circus clowns that has audience participation as a centerpiece of the performance. Check out all the fun they had when they came through Shanghai!
Aga-boom in China. - YouTube
Here’s the official description of the show coming through Pittsburgh:
“Jump headfirst into a chain reaction of absolute silliness and a blizzard of laughter with three former stars of the Moscow Circus. This lovable trio extracts endless delight from everyday cleaning supplies, a towering punch-away paper wall and some brave audience members. Rooted in theatrical clowning, AGA-BOOM brings together the best traditions of circus arts, physical comedy and European avant-garde. Get ready for a live-action cartoon, exploding with sophisticated slapstick, outlandish chases and the most chaotic finale ever. Sure to inspire many a belly laugh for both young and not so young.”
Now the part you’ve all been waiting for–the ticket giveaway! Use the widget below to enter for your chance to win four (4) tickets to see Aga-Boom in Pittsburgh. You pick the day. You pick the time.
This giveaway is a bit of a shorter one–it only runs through 11/7–so make sure to start logging your entries today! Best of luck to all!