How do you compare with your retirement savings?

How do you compare with your retirement savings?

pretty pebbles

TD Ameritrade just came out with their “Road to Retirement” report, and it’s always fun to compare and see how we’re doing against others 😉

In this case, 2,000 others who are 40 and older with at least $25,000 or more in their accounts for some reason… Maybe since they’re still stuck on “traditional” retirement?

So if you’re millennial (or even better – a Gen Z’er!) and rank in any of these levels outside the first one, place your hand here as you’re already beating out a good portion of those in their 40s all the way up through their 70s – eek!

Here’s the breakdown from CNBC where I first caught this survey from:

How much Americans have saved for retirement at different ages

Age 40-49:

  • 41% have less than $50,000 saved
  • 18% have $50,000 to $99,000 saved
  • 27% have $100,000 to $500,000 saved
  • 7% have $500,000 to $999,000 saved <– Me
  • 7% have $1 million or more saved

Age 50-59:

  • 37% have less than $50,000 saved
  • 16% have $50,000 to $99,000 saved
  • 32% have $100,000 to $500,000 saved
  • 6% have $500,000 to $999,000 saved
  • 8% have $1 million or more saved

Age 60-69:

  • 28% have less than $50,000 saved
  • 10% have $50,000 to $99,000 saved
  • 36% have $100,000 to $500,000 saved
  • 14% have $500,000 to $999,000 saved
  • 12% have $1 million or more saved

Age 70-79:

  • 20% have less than $50,000 saved
  • 13% have $50,000 to $99,000 saved
  • 36% have $100,000 to $500,000 saved
  • 19% have $500,000 to $999,000 saved
  • 12% have $1 million or more saved

Find where you stand? How are you feeling about it?

Remember – these #’s are for *retirement funds* only, and not other assets or savings/investments people probably have (or hopefully have!). And of course, it doesn’t really matter where you land on this, just that you’re *happy* about it or at least working towards *improving* your situation if you’re not…

Sometimes it’s helpful to just have a frame of reference to wrap things around 🙂

Here were some other nuggets from the survey I found interesting as well:

  • Most Americans hope to retire by age 67, and more than half have a plan to do so. Or 47 if you’re a regular reader of Budgets Are Sexy! 😉
  • 1 in 10 of those in their 40s also say new political leaders influenced their retirement plan. Not here… Their antics affect things of course, but a majority of our well being is well within our control.
  • 81% are shifting their financial strategy to prepare for a longer lifespan. Probably smart as we’re all living longer!! A great problem to have! 🙂
  • 401(k)s are the most popular retirement vehicle, especially for younger groups. I believe it – that *matching* is no joke!! You could even go on to become a 401(k) Millionaire! (*gasp*)
  • Nearly half of those in their 40s have already withdrawn from their retirement accounts. Now that’s sad 😦 I hope hard it’s just a technicality of TRANSFERRING their money into another retirement vehicle like an IRA which is popular to do when leaving employers, but cashing them out just breaks my achy budgety heart… They better be for true emergencies!
  • Meanwhile, only 1 in 3 over 50+ are taking advantage of catch-up contribution. That actually surprises me, but in a good way! 1/3 is a pretty decent chunk!
  • A majority of Americans would give themselves a C grade or lower on their retirement savings. At least no one’s kidding themselves 😦
  • 28% of those who are retired say they felt pressure to retire (e.g., from employer, family or social norms) Ughh!!! Let everyone live their lives!! Everyone knows there’s only one way to truly retire anyways – the FIRE way!! Everyone else is WRONG….

    … WRONG, I say!

Here’s the full report if you want to nerd out more: Road to Retirement Survey (PDF)

Happy retiring,

j. money signature


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19 Things Future Multimillionaires Do…

19 Things Future Multimillionaires Do…


Stumbled across this listicle and wondered if we’re all on trajectory or not 😉

19 Things Future Multimillionaires Do in Their 20s via Inc.

How many of these can you confidently check off??

  1. They develop multiple income sources
  2. They take action (and sometimes, they fail)
  3. They make sure that they own their time
  4. They network, a lot. (And they do it both ways)
  5. They think strategically
  6. They shoot higher than seems reasonable
  7. They learn to sell
  8. They try to be good friends and colleagues
  9. They invest
  10. They watch their spending
  11. They learn to negotiate
  12. They find mentors
  13. They invest in education
  14. They refuse to become slaves
  15. They volunteer to do more
  16. They work their butts off
  17. They embrace entrepreneurship
  18. They have fun and adventures
  19. They believe they can do this

I didn’t turn on the FIRE until I hit my 30s, but I did at least get started around 27…

Here are the ones I can say I def. did, as well as those I most def. did NOT 😉

Time to go down memory lane!

Stuff I did in my 20’s:

  • They develop multiple income sources (Yup! blogs, hustles, 9-5)
  • They take action (and sometimes, they fail) (I think trying 37 different jobs should qualify ;))
  • They network, a lot. (And they do it both ways) (Not sure what “both ways” is, but I def. made it a point to chat with as many awesome people in the community as I could. And still do to this day, really. Technology allows for even the most shy of people to connect easily these days!)
  • They think strategically (more so in the *financial* aspect than the business one, but yes.)
  • They try to be good friends and colleagues (ALWAYS. Biz/life/money no fun if you don’t have anyone to share it with!)
  • They invest (100%. It’s honestly the foundation of our entire wealth! Got in the habit of maxing  out 401(ks)s/IRAs in our 20s and its been one of the best things we ever did for our money (and much harder to TAKE OUT AND SPEND too! Haha… Probably the reason it stuck! :)))
  • They watch their spending (Down to every penny there in the beginning! You have to know what you’re dealing with before you can strategize!)
  • They learn to negotiate (only at yard sales ;))
  • They find mentors (Never “official” ones, but I def. found those I wished to be more like and built relationships with them so I can ask them millions of questions 🙂 Which they were gracious enough to answer – thank you, everyone!!)
  • They invest in education (You have to!! Not necessarily “traditional” education, but always smart to keep yourself abreast of your industry/interests/skills you want to one day have)
  • They volunteer to do more (Most blogs are all volunteer work 😂😂😂)
  • They work their butts off (Totes)
  • They embrace entrepreneurship (Double totes. (TWOtes?))
  • They have fun and adventures (If you’re not enjoying your life the money/career doesn’t matter)
  • They believe they can do this (Or at least can *pretend* enough until you pull it off! :))

So what’s that? 15 out of the 19?! That’s not bad!

Here were the ones I DIDN’T learn to do in my 20s, and only half of which I’ve since fixed:

  • They make sure that they own their time (Back in the day the Work and Money owned me!! Even if you’re “successful” with stuff, you’re still a slave to it if it’s all you think about.)
  • They shoot higher than seems reasonable (I’ve never been really good at “shooting for the moon” though I see the power in it. I tend to just do what seems *fun* at the moment and then see how far I can take it…)
  • They learn to sell (Oh hell no, haha.. much to the demise of both my wallet and my projects! :))
  • They refuse to become slaves (see bullet point #1 up there)

Of course, things like how you were raised, where you were raised, and a myriad of other factors not in our control also play a large part here, but still a fun list to go down and see how you fare…

And even more so – how you’re faring NOW if you’re well past your 20s!! All these points are still very valid whether you’re 27 or 67! The important part is that you’re aware and *working towards it* today. It’s not a race to see who can reach financial freedom first…

So what did you future multimillionaires score?! 🙂


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TAKE me BACK to JUPITER! An arcade game played by humans and houseflies

TAKE me BACK to JUPITER!, Drew Thornton‘s master project in Biological Arts at SymbioticA, is an immersive virtual reality console for flies. During the exhibition of the work, human and insect participants ally to fight the invasion of dangerous aliens.

Drew Thornton, TAKE me BACK to JUPITER!, 2019

The arcade-style video game is both a tongue-in-cheek interactive biological art installation and an interdisciplinary project grounded in scientific research about houseflies behaviour. As the artist explains in the video below “things don’t have to be logical to be meaningful.” The experiment has several goals: to “entertain” all players, to invite to a reflection on non-human consciousness but also to offer an opportunity to rethink the way we view “annoying insects” at a time when insects numbers are plummeting across the globe, threatening a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”.

Interview with Drew Thornton by Weilin Chi (Science Communication student at the University of Western Australia).

I caught up with the artist as he was putting the finishing touches on the installation:

Hi Drew! Let’s start with your background! You worked as an illustrator so what brought you to biological art? 

In actual fact, my education has always been in both art and science, and I for most of my life I imagined I would end up in a field related to the biological sciences. Illustration has mostly been something I did for my own enjoyment, as a creative outlet.

I love learning about the world around us, and particularly I love the intricacies and surprises found within biological systems. However, I also think that creative expression is how I come to grips with my (and our) place in the world, and without this outlet I was struggling to to make my studies feel meaningful.

It was great to discover a field where I can bring all of my skills to bear, rather than always feel like I’m always leaving half of myself on the sidelines. Also, I still found an opportunity to include some of my own artwork in the project, putting together an illustrated game manual to accompany the game.

Drew Thornton, TAKE me BACK to JUPITER!, 2019

You are interested in how we perceive consciousness in non-human intelligence. Do you think that this topic is not adequately addressed by the scientific community and/or understood by the public? 

I think that beneath our everyday use of the term, consciousness is a bit of a vague notion, and ultimately unhelpful. The thing about consciousness is that we can’t perceive it—it seems to be too closely coupled to the act of perception itself to be directly observed. Of course, we experience consciousness within ourselves (or think we do), but we can’t step outside of consciousness in order to quantitatively describe it.

Honestly, trying to explain even human consciousness risks talking yourself in endless circles, and outside of humans it only gets trickier. That’s where art can be valuable, as it’s more interested in the real experiencing of things than in the illusion of understanding.

Why did you think that gaming is a good medium to explore consciousness in flies (or any other animal)? 

Acts of play are a great way of actively engaging an audience, and can create good will and the sense of presence and immersion in players. It’s a way of building and troubling interrelationships in a controlled environment. The digital medium is a tool to connect the subjective worlds of disparate participants (human and animal) through a simulated and translated experience.

Alright, so maybe that all sounds like techno-babble. What I really think is that to explore consciousness, you need to actually step outside of your own mind and interact with others. Gaming is a great way to facilitate that kind of interaction.

And i guess this is a stupid question but why flies? Wouldn’t have been easier to work with pigs which are notoriously smart and social creatures for example? Besides, pigs are cute and flies perhaps a bit less….

Ahaha, no! This is the most important question to ask. The glib answer is that I relish a challenge. Pigs and especially dogs are animals most of us already feel like we can relate to; sure it would be fun to take your dog to the arcade, but doing so doesn’t really tell us anything new or surprising about dogs or the way we perceive them.

On the other hand, flies are animals that we have all encountered, but likely haven’t given much thought to their psychology. I wanted to push myself creatively, theoretically and technically and challenge the audience to relate to something outside of their normal comfort zone.

I think there’s value in that, too: ecologically, insects are important, and currently imperilled. Something needs to change in the way we relate to them—individually and culturally—if we are to successfully cohabitate on this planet.

Also I just think insects are cool. Flies can be cute, I promise!

TAKE me BACK to JUPITER! is an immersive VR gaming closure in which humans can engage in an arcade game with flies. Could you describe the game? What do humans and flies have to do? 

Okay so first, I need to offer a small point of clarification for readers: the console’s virtual reality enclosure is only for the flies; I just couldn’t make controllers small enough for their tiny hands, ahaha. The enclosure is a glass cube with a row of LED lights along the front, and a motion-tracking camera placed at the bottom. This gives the fly visual targets to react to, and allows its actions to effect the game environment.

In the game, the human and fly player work together to fend off incoming aliens. You, the human, illuminate targets for the fly by shining your spaceship’s spotlight on columns of aliens (think Space Invaders, but with extra teamwork). All the fly has to do is fly towards the light, which—if it’s quick enough— eliminates the corresponding alien on your screen.

Drew Thornton, TAKE me BACK to JUPITER!, 2019

Drew Thornton, TAKE me BACK to JUPITER!, 2019

How did you design the game to ensure that flies would actually react and play or look as if they were playing with the human audience? 

I wanted this project to be grounded in the actual behaviour of flies; rather than trying to produce new fly behaviours catered towards a human gaming experience, the aim was to design for an existent point of commonality. This involved first understanding how flies perceive and experience the world, then creating a game environment where fly behaviour is aligned with human experience (and vice versa), and finally the technical design and build of a console to facilitate this kind of play experience.

Male houseflies have a territorial pursuit behaviour, which can be reproduced in response to flashing lights or suspended targets (which to a fly’s vision look like other flies). Not only is this something I thought I could accommodate in a digital environment, it’s also an appropriate game activity—flying around in chase of enemies could be made into something both insect and human could enjoy*.

Did you test the game with an audience? How did it go and what did you and other players learn from the experience? 

The game prototype was presented to an audience at a “launch” event in October, hosted by game museum The Nostalgia Box (a great venue, worth a visit) in Northbridge, Perth.

Unfortunately, I was unable to exhibit a fully operational version of the game console—the timeline for my build was blown clear out of the water by a computer communications protocol issue, and as a result I didn’t quite manage to troubleshoot the whole system. On the night it basically came down to a faulty light-switch!

Even so, I was really taken with the audience response. While they didn’t get to play the game, I think even the promise of it was enough to make people view the fly as a teammate rather than adversary. So even if the project was a technical failure, it felt like a conceptual and artistic success.

The title of your work is quite intriguing. Why did you call it TAKE me BACK to JUPITER!?

I wanted to attribute some of the grandeur and mystery of the gas giant to organisms that seem humble and lowly in our eyes.

Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system, dwarfing Earth, and its gravitational effects contribute to the relatively sheltered and stable orbits of the inner planets (we haven’t had an extinction-level impact in over 65 million years!) This seemed comparable to the role of insects in Earth ecosystems, where

It’s also a dual title, reflecting the recurrent apposition of perspectives in the project: in the animated title sequence, “TAKE me BACK to JUPITER!” becomes “TAKE BACK JUPITER!”. The allusions in the game manual are similarly vague about the nature of the alien conflict. When we return to Jupiter, will it be as prodigal children, or cruel invaders?

Any upcoming work, event or field of research you could share with us? 

So I have a few projects ticking over, including a book chapter hopefully being published late 2020/early 2021. The topic is “sexy fish monsters in fantasy and myth”, which I assure you is academically very rigorous. I’ll also be giving a special Valentine’s Day lecture on the subject in February, as part of the SymbioticA Friday Seminar series. 

I pushed myself pretty hard with this project, so I’m taking it a little more relaxed at the moment, and I’d like to revisit TAKE my BACK to JUPITER! at the start of next year for a more finessed exhibition. Meanwhile, I’d like to get my website up and running properly (it’s a real mess right now), and I’ll probably keep uploading little doodles to my page whenever I feel like it.

Thanks Drew!

*I know that using “enjoy” to describe a fly’s experience might feel incredulous, but whether flies’ behaviour is motivated by an internal feeling of gratification or not, they do it all the same so I think it’s a forgivable stretch.

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The time will pass anyway

The time will pass anyway

rainbow face

A quick reminder today:

Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway. – Earl Nightingale

The next week, month, year is going to come no matter what we do – might as well go after what we really want in life!!

Take one small step towards it this weekend and get the ball rolling…

  • Make a phone call
  • Do a Google search
  • Sketch a game plan
  • Pay off a debt
  • Make an investment
  • Clean your room
  • Find a mentor
  • Write your first paragraph
  • Ask someone out
  • End a relationship!
  • Buy a domain name
  • Put down the bottle
  • Book a flight
  • Call your mother

Just do something this weekend…

Maybe the timing won’t line up, maybe it will?, but you won’t know for certain until you START.

Make one bold move this weekend and see where it takes you.

The time will pass anyway!


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3 Tricks I Do That Helps Me Be More Charitable

3 Tricks I Do That Helps Me Be More Charitable

white heart

You know what really impresses me? Unicorns.

You know what impresses me 10x more?

People who naturally think of others before themselves 🙂

Unfortunately for me I’m closer to being a unicorn than I am someone who thinks of others first, haha, but over the years I have learned that you can trick yourself into being a better person just by incorporating a few daily habits 😉

Here are three things I now do that have massively improved my charitable giving:

1) I say “yes” anytime I’m asked for money* . Whether from people on the streets, friends putting on fundraisers, or even when asked if I’d “round up for charity” at certain stores. This trick alone makes me feel 80% better about myself, and instantly overrides that automatic “no” that pops into my head along with its millions of excuses on why I can’t give when I 100% can.

2) I give more than I want to so it HURTS. I’m not sure who I learned this from, but this is the latest challenge I’ve started taking on, and let me tell you – IT’S HARD!! But completely worth it once you get into the rhythm 😉 Instead of dishing out my normal $1.00 or $2.00 as I tend to do in order to “check off” my YES rule, I now look for the biggest bill I have in my wallet and try giving out that one instead. It stings temporarily, but the impact on the person receiving it is exponentially greater.

3) I sign up to donate *monthly* as soon as I come across an organization that moves me. This way a) I don’t forget about it and then convince myself not to give later!, and b) I force myself to give over and over and over again without having to  lift a finger. And let me tell you – similar to saving money or investing, you really don’t feel it in the end! But the money keeps compounding! Only in this case to supporting those projects that mean the most to you. I’m currently at 10 or 11 places I’m now donating $20/mo too ($20 seems to be my magic number), and my goal is to ultimately hit 100 places so I’m literally donating to organizations every single day 🙂

In fact, I literally just added a new one yesterday when I heard my friend Revanche was looking for support! And since I don’t have any “causes” I’m personally super passionate about, the next best thing is helping OTHERS advance theirs 🙂 You can learn more about what she’s doing here if interested: 2020: A Lakota families update and focus on charitable giving. She helps raise money to bring food + warm clothing to families of the Lakota Native American tribe, as well as resources to libraries in more rural counties that don’t have the funds to keep things fully stocked.

Her love of books is legit:

“I devoured library books as a child and was wretchedly grateful for every single book I could borrow because our family was too poor to buy books… I used to stare at other people’s bookshelves like I was starving. We’d visit family and the people would simply disappear from my vision – all I could see was their books.”

Maybe you can relate? 🙂

So that’s what I do to try to be more charitable! Other years I’ll *start projects* to harness my connections and raise money for people (anyone around from the Love Drop or Rockstar Community Fund days?), but on a more daily level these 3 tricks have really transformed my giving.

I’m no Mother Teresa up in here, but I’m learning you can change your ways if something’s really important to you! We can all train ourselves to be better, whether in charity or our personal finances.

Any good tricks that have worked well for you? Anyone else naturally sucky at this?

Pass this around to anyone you think could be helped by it – thank you! 🙏🙏

(This was for you, Sarah P. :))

*Excludes scammers or those who will invariably ask me for money as soon as they hear I  have to say “yes” 😉 Though if there really is an organization/project that fills up your heart, please do pass it over so I can see if it affects me the same way!


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Socially Engaged Art in Contemporary China. Voices from Below

Socially Engaged Art in Contemporary China. Voices from Below, by Meiqin Wang, Professor in the Department of Art at California State University, Northridge.

Publisher Routledge writes: This book provides an in-depth and thematic analysis of socially engaged art in Mainland China, exploring its critical responses to and creative interventions in China’s top-down, pro-urban, and profit-oriented socioeconomic transformations. It focuses on the socially conscious practices of eight art professionals who assume the role of artist, critic, curator, educator, cultural entrepreneur and social activist, among others, as they strive to expose the injustice and inequality many Chinese people have suffered, raise public awareness of pressing social and environmental problems, and invent new ways and infrastructures to support various underprivileged social groups.

In her book, Meiqin Wang reflects on a growing movement of soft cultural activism spearheaded by artists, curators and art critics who believe that art has a responsibility to engage directly with Chinese social reality. These art professionals have developed various strategies to address a series of pressing social and environmental issues. They set up schools, art centres and libraries in neglected rural areas, collaborate with disenfranchised social groups, revitalize urban neighborhoods, document unbridled waste accumulation in order to stir the government into cleaning up polluted areas, curate exhibitions that lay bare the ills of a society driven by a culture of economic growth, etc.

Zuo Jing and Ou Ning, Bishan project: villagers help set up an installation at Yixian International photo festival, 2012. Photograph: Sun Yunfan/pr

Zuo Jing and Ou Ning, Bishan project: reading event with villagers at Bishan bookstore, 2014. Photograph: Sun Tao/pr

As diversified as they might seem, these community-anchored artistic interventions have several characteristics in common. First, they challenge the cultural and sociopolitical perceptions about life promoted by authorities and mainstream media while avoiding direct confrontation with the state. Second, they operate on a small scale and often with the assistance of the communities concerned. Last but not least, they echo China’s growing grassroot desire for a society that is fairer and more respectful of its heritage and environment.

Hu Jianqiang, People’s Kindergarten in Yebu, a large village in Gansu province

I’d wholeheartedly recommend you check out Socially Engaged Art in Contemporary China. Voices from Below. By featuring artworks that don’t always get the international recognition they deserve, the book confirms that -as much as i admire his work- there’s more to Chinese socially-engaged art than Ai Weiwei. The book should also surprise anyone who views China as a solid, one-dimensional country. China, as Wang demonstrates, is far more nuanced, interesting and rebellious place for artists to explore.

Quick overview of some of the artists, curators and artistic interventions i discovered in this publication:

Qu Yan, Power Space. Wuzhuang Village Head Office, Tushan Town, Jiangshu Province, 2005. Photo: Faurschou Gallery

Wang Nanming is one of the artistic figures whose work Meiqin Wang’s book explores. The art critic, curator and artist champions the kind of art that boldly engages with the actual Chinese situations they live in.

“The Space of Power: The Photographic Exhibition of Qu Yan” is one of the exhibitions Wang curated in 2007. In this series photographer Qu Yan investigates the office space of government officials or executives of state-owned corporations in developed and underdeveloped regions. His images show urban-based offices equipped with expensive pieces of furniture that suggest a material abundance brought about by economic development. Public offices of minor officials in remote rural regions, on the other hand, are usually poorly furnished but they display a stronger sense of publicness of the space, with posters and other political symbols propagating official policies. The contrasts between urban and rural offices hints at the abuse of state power.

The many social problems generated by the relentless speed of urban transformation is one of the recurrent themes of the book. Like Qu Yan, most of the artists whose work is presented in Socially Engaged Art in Contemporary China attempt to address and in some cases alleviate the problems encountered by the communities whose livelihood and cultural identity are being threatened by rampant economic development.

Wang Jiuliang, Beijing Besieged by Waste

Wang Jiuliang, Weicheng laji (Beijing Besieged by Waste), 2011. Trailer

Artist Wang Jiuliang has been working since 2008 to raise public awareness around China’s escalating consumerism and rapid urban expansion. Beijing Besieged by Waste casts a disheartening glance at the vast landfills surrounding Beijing and the impact their toxicity and pestilence have on the environment and the people who lived nearby.

Following widespread media reports on Wang Jiuliang’s extensive photographic documentation of waste mismanagement in the capital, the municipal government designed a plan to clean up and regulate about 1000 dumpsites surrounding the city. Wang’s next work, Plastic China, didn’t meet with the same governmental forbearance. The documentary film exposed the social, ecological and economic cost generated the plastic waste imported in the country for recycling. This time Wang’s efforts were promptly censored. The film and all associated reviews and comments disappeared from websites in China. In spite of the censorship, the central government actually took in the information presented in Plastic China and acted upon it. Besides, widespread online support of Wang’s work suggests a growing civic environmentalism among citizens.

Wen Fang, Terracotta Migrant Laborers of People’s Republic, 2008

Wen Fang’s work gives a voice and a visibility to marginalised communities. Her installation Terracotta Migrant Laborers of People’s Republic consists of 300 cement bricks printed with head portraits of migrant workers. A direct homage to a relentlessly overlooked social group, the work acknowledges a community whose existence is often rendered invisible in a society that seems to accept that socioeconomic inequality is an unavoidable price to pay in exchange for China’s rise to a global economic power.

Wen Fang, Arts For Crafts Sake-Ningxia Women 1, 2010

Wen went further in her efforts to engage with the life of marginalized populations. She traveled to Xihaigu in Ningxia Province where local women have no independent income and domestic violence is becoming a serious problem. As part of her Art Poverty Alleviation project, the artist helped these women create a series of modern artworks. The works were inspired by local crafts and traditional techniques. 50% of sales profits were passed on to the cooperatives as health, education and development funds.

Wen’s Arts for Crafts’ Sake project was considered by many as a successful experiment in poverty alleviation through art. However, in late 2012, she had to put an end to the project, mostly because of the hostility she encountered from local government officials and some locals in Yuwang town towards her activities in the countryside of Ningxia.

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Giveaway: “The Richest Man in Babylon” and “Small Is the New Big” by Seth Godin

Giveaway: “The Richest Man in Babylon” and “Small Is the New Big” by Seth Godin

2 books to give away

Found two new books at the thrift store if anyone wants them 🙂

  1. The Richest Man in Babylon” by George S. Clason
  2.  “Small Is The New Big” by Seth Godin

A classic money one belonging in all PF nerds’ home libraries!, and a businessy/entrepreneurship one for all those who land on the “love” side of people’s “love/hate” relationship with Seth’s work 😉 I admittedly couldn’t get through this one myself, but I am typically a fan of his…

If you want one of these, let me know which in the comments below or via email and you’ll be entered to win! Then be sure to pass it forward! 🙂


“The Richest Man in Babylon”

richest man in babylon

Here’s a clip from the first time I read it:

What I liked most about The Richest Man in Babylon is that the whole thing is based on fables! Every chapter is a whole new short story that tells another aspect of managing money. It’s freakin’ great. Sometimes the chapters are connected, and others not, but it’s seriously the best financial book for those with A.D.D.

And it fits wonderfully in your back pocket! Haha… So if you take the metro/train every day like me, it’s super easy to store and read on the go 🙂

The entire book can be read in a few hours (it’s only 140 pages long) and it discusses everything from saving 10% of your paychecks, to investing it wisely to knocking off all debt. The craziest thing of all is that it takes place thousands and thousands of years ago, yet the advice is STILL relevant in today’s times! It really is a good read for anyone of us out there needing some more motivation – and even more so if you’re *just* getting into personal finance. It’s a PERFECT book for recent grads and/or untrained adults 🙂

You can see my full review of it here: New favorite book: “The Richest Man in Babylon”
And then learn more/pick it up at Amazon here: The Richest Man in Babylon


“Small Is The New Big:
and 183 Other Riffs, Rants, and Remarkable Business Ideas”

small is the new big

Summary from Amazon:

As one of today’s most influential business thinkers, Seth Godin helps his army of fans stay focused, stay connected, and stay dissatisfied with the status quo, the ordinary, the boring. His books, blog posts, magazine articles, and speeches have inspired countless entrepreneurs, marketing people, innovators, and managers around the world.

Now, for the first time, Godin has collected the most provocative short pieces from his pioneering blog—ranked #70 by Feedster (out of millions published) in worldwide readership. This book also includes his most popular columns from Fast Company magazine, and several of the short e-books he has written in the last few years.

If you’re not familiar with Seth’s work, you can get a good sense of it on his blog:
And then here’s more about the book from Amazon: Small Is The New Big


Want one of these?

Just tell me which in the comments below or via email (*one* only please!), and you’ll be automatically entered to win… U.S. residents only for this one, as shipping costs more than the actual books 😉

We’ll draw the winners randomly this upcoming Monday morning (1/27/20) and then announce them shortly there after…

good luck pikachu gif

Amazon links above are affiliate links


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6 Different Wealth Levels and How They Affect Your Decisions

6 Different Wealth Levels and How They Affect Your Decisions

ladder sunset

A friend passed me this article thinking I’d enjoy it, and she was dead right so I now pass it onto you!

Climbing the Wealth Ladder by Nick Maggiulli

If you’re wondering why you treat money differently now than you did back in the day, this is the article for you 🙂 Especially those who have gone UP the ladder over the years!

From Nick:

If I gave you $100, would that change your life? What about $100,000? How about $100 million? Your answer will depend on many things including age, family situation, and your current net worth. More importantly though, how you change your behavior after receiving such money can tell you a lot about your current financial standing.

He breaks down 6 different levels of wealth and how your habits might have changed going up them, while referencing some classic Jay-Z lyrics for good measure (“What’s fifty grand to a mother****er like me? Can you please remind me?”)

Can you pinpoint where you stand?

  • Level 1: Paycheck-to-paycheck — where you’re conscious of every dollar you spend, especially when holding crippling debt

This was me up until my mid-20s when I found personal finance blogs and started getting my act together. Was never in crippling debt, thankfully, but def. living paycheck to paycheck while trying to live The Good Life 😉

  • Level 2: Grocery freedom — when specific grocery item costs don’t impact your finances as much anymore

Reached this level around the $300k-$400k net worth mark (2013), when I started feeling more secure and not paying attention to every last penny anymore… Even though ironically that was what GOT US to this point to begin with, haha… (gotta live a little though, right? :))

  • Level 3: Restaurant freedom — when you can eat what you want at restaurants without caring about the costs!

A few years later we hit this level (right around the $500k mark), and it’s exactly where we still are today 🙂 I don’t know if we’ll ever make it to Levels 4-6, but then again I never imagined being at this point either so who knows?! All I can say is that ordering what you want based on your tummy vs your bank account is one of the best perks money can buy you… And if that’s the last one I ever get I am perfectly fine with that!!

  • Level 4: Travel freedom — when you can travel how, when, and where you want

I’m not sure what your net worth would have to be to get to this point, but it sure would take a lot to beat out the frugalness in most of us 😉 The most damage you can do at a restaurant is a couple of hundred, but for travel we’re talking thousands depending on how large your family is! Seems like a big jump from Level 4 that I don’t anticipate hitting anytime soon… (or ever)

  • Level 5: House freedom — when you can afford your dream home

Another nicety if you can manage to pull it off! I wouldn’t need too much in this department as my dream home is based more on *location* than *size* ($1 MIL would prob do the trick), but similar to the travel level I don’t know if I’d be able to stomach it even if I tried… Though I don’t mind finding out one day 😉

  • Level 6: Philanthropic freedom — when you can give away money that has a profound impact on others

The ultimate level! Where people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett lie! Of course, even a few dollars can make a difference in some people’s lives (which is why I challenge myself to still give as often as I can!), but to affect large swaths of people like that it really takes some serious dough… (and smarts). If one of you ever make it this far I hope you’ll tell me so I can quote you for a testimonial on this blog 😉

What does this all mean at the end of the day, though?! Nothing much, grand scheme-wise, but it does help you make more sense of things when you catch yourself spending differently than you did back in the day…

Nick goes on to pinpoint the marginal impact (and price points) of decisions based on the level you’re at, and it’s an interesting thing to consider as you move along the chain here…

  • Level 1. Paycheck-to-paycheck: $0-$0.99 per decision
  • Level 2. Grocery freedom: $1-$9 per decision
  • Level 3. Restaurant freedom: $10-$99 per decision
  • Level 4. Travel freedom: $100-$999 per decision
  • Level 5. House freedom: $1,000-$9,999 per decision
  • Level 6. Philanthropic freedom: $10,000+ per decision.

Here’s the article again that goes into it all much more eloquently than I do 🙂

Climbing the Wealth Ladder

Thanks for putting it out there, Nick!

Anyone else relate to some of these levels? Anyone hit the epic 4-6 range?!


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Saving up for something? Buy the stock first!

Saving up for something? Buy the stock first!

stock market

Today’s a quickie but goodie for you 😉

I’ve heard of buying stocks from places you love and use every day (in fact, I did this myself back in the day!), but never thought of buying the stocks *instead* of the product before. Or at least while you’re saving up for it…

From Chandrashekhar on our post about controversial finance beliefs:

If you’re planning a large expense, buy shares worth that expense in that industry/company before making the spend.

For instance, if you’re looking to buy the latest iPhone, buy Apple shares worth that phone and see if you still want to buy the phone… That way, you tend to reduce unnecessary expenses while building a decent portfolio to rely on.

Love it! Not only does this make you WAIT and SAVE UP for the purchase first – a good thing to do on its own – but it also gets you into the habit of INVESTING more and probably holding onto the stocks at the end of the day as it’s never fun cashing out of stuff like that.

Now this wouldn’t work on things like cars or houses or other major purchases unless you’re a baller, but every day stuff $1,000-$2,000 or less? Sure! Most people don’t have that just laying around, so “saving up” by investing along the way would make for a great way to motivate yourself whether you end up pulling the trigger or not.

Delayed gratification is a great thing! And perhaps you even end up with both the product AND some extra stock by the time you have enough?

As my friend Mabel likes to say – “if you can afford the product, you can afford the stock!” Something to consider the next time you go to whip out that credit card 🙂

j. money signature


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Did you know you have to pay taxes on all winnings?!

Did you know you have to pay taxes on all winnings?!

you get a meme - oprah

It’s true…

Winnings are considered “income” and you can get in some serious doo-doo if you try to hide it. Though reputable places will at least remind you of it when they send you a nice tax doc at the end of the year informing you they’re reporting it to the IRS 🙂

And it’s not only applicable to things like winning the lottery or hitting it big on slots either. Free *stuff* and giveaways also count! And can put a damper on your party like my boy Joshua is now finding out:

Hey Jay!

My wife recently had the incredible opportunity to go on a [POPULAR GAME SHOW] and she ended up winning a ton of gifts and a killer trip! We feel sooooo lucky, but…. Of course we found a way to stress about it.

The “fair market value” of what she won is ~$1,500, so we’re going to have to foot a $700 tax bill now. Thing is… it’s hard to enjoy the gifts when you realize you actually had to pay $700 for the stuff, especially when we were not planning on buying a bunch of things for $700. It’s basically like getting to buy everything at your marginal tax rate.

Being conservative you think, “would I have bought all this stuff for 60% off?” (Assuming you have to pay 40% of fair market value in tax)… Sure it’s a great deal, but I don’t think we would have still gone out and bought it all.

So even though we got all these great gifts we found a way to stress about it. Then I realized… Is this $700 going to significantly matter when we’re financially independent? No!!! So we might as well just enjoy the gifts we were sooooooo lucky to receive!

Going to just enjoy it all now 🙂

[This note was in response to our post on life when you’re financially free, and he’s absolutely right! While it sucks to “lose” money, it’s not going to matter a whole helluva lot once they FIRE. And plus you can still go and sell it all if you really wanted to or even re-gift them to others 😉 Which ironically does not trigger any tax implications, at least up to a certain point…]

Remember that time Oprah gave out all those “free” cars to people 15 years ago??! Tax ding, Tax ding, Tax ding!! Haha…

“While General Motors handled the state sales tax on each of the new cars (around $1,800 per car), plus licensing fees, audience members were tasked with paying federal and state income taxes on the value of their new vehicle. To keep things simple, for reporting purposes, General Motors issued forms 1099-MISC to the recipients. While actual taxes payable varied based on individual tax brackets, estimates settled around $7,000 per car.” – Forbes, A Look Back At Oprah’s Ultimate Car Giveaway

Now you can always decline gifts, of course, if you’re not willing or in a position to pay the taxes, but most people never think about that in the heat of the moment (or know about it) and just see FREE FREE FREE!! OMG GIMME GIMME GIMME!!! Haha…

So 1) here’s your notice so you now know!

And 2) never go on game shows or ever get anything free in life 😉

Okay I’m just kidding, but do your best to set aside some $$$ so you avoid any nasty surprises later that can wipe away all that experiential joy…

And for the love of all things holy, do not win stuff on national TV and then IGNORE THE IRS!! They have literally seen you win millions of dollars as well as half of the rest of the world! If you’re gonna hide it, do it on the low or change your identity, jeesh! 😉

So that’s my negative nugget for you today, haha… In more positive news, there’s still time to max out that Roth IRA for the year if you’re looking to up your game! That’s a gift that’ll end up paying you the more times you participate in it – no luck required!

j. money signature


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from Finance