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Listen up ladies because this one’s for you.

My friends get tired of hearing me preach this but I won’t stop: You Need To Be Saving For Your Future. At the very least that means saving for retirement. “But Emily I’m only 24, I don’t need to worry about that yet” Yes, you definitely do pal. Remember back in high school math when you slept through the lesson on compound interest? Basically, it means that when you put money away it earns a return right? Well if you take that return and continue to re-invest it, year after year your money grows at an increasing rate. Waiting even five years to start saving WILL cost you many thousands of dollars – like minimum 50K – That’s a whole year earlier you could retire!  Check out this calculator.

And guess what? As a woman it’s even more critical. We make less money than men, we live longer, we often leave the workforce for a while as caregivers, changes in marital status tend to cost women more than men, and we don’t trust financial institutions. Oh, and millennials as a whole are extremely risk averse. With all these factors going against us, we need to be saving as soon as possible and as smart as possible. First, here’s how we should think about the word risk when it comes to investing: it’s unsafe but necessary. You need to remember that with something like a 401K you’re going to be investing with it for decades. Therefore, a little (or a lot) of risk when you’re younger is not only a good thing, but a necessary one. As you age, you should move your investments into safer, less volatile investment vehicles. The recession in 2008 was scary but those who left their investments alone during that period are now enjoying higher returns than before the economy fell!

525bcb8c8df1791d60d1ea8ca09592285378b89228019f26fcc7278f2c012329Second, most employers will match some of what you contribute to your 401K. That’s FREE money. For example, my employer matches 75% of what I contribute up to 8%. Did I mention that’s FREE money? Plus, your contributions are tax deductible! So here’s your action item for today: start putting money into your 401K. Experts say that ideally you should be saving 10-15% of your income for retirement. I’d suggest that if you’re just beginning, you contribute enough to take full advantage of the company match. If that’s not feasible right now then do as much as you feel comfortable, even if that’s just 1%. You can step up the amount by a percentage every time you get a raise and you won’t even be able to tell. And to those of  us with loans, that’s not an excuse! While paying off loans is important, so is saving for the future that you worked so hard taking out those loans for! Seriously, one percent, you won’t even miss it.

 

 

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Year 25

 

IMG_6416I think New Year’s resolutions are dumb for a myriad of reasons the top of which being that if society is pressuring you into making a goal it’s probably not very meaningful and you’re probably not going to keep it. Instead, I like to make resolutions on my birthday. For me, this is a good time to re-assess where I am and what I should be working on. I’m hopeful that if I share these resolutions with you all I will be held accountable to what I’m committing to here.

1. Say no

I am terrible at saying no. Nine times out of ten if I get asked to work an extra shift on a weekend, you’ll find me whipping mochas the Bou. This also happens in my personal life, so even though I enjoy spending time with my friends that sometimes means spending time and money on things I’m not exactly thrilled about. So, this year I resolve to be better about saying no to things, and being selfish with my time. (However, my fellow introverts, there’s a difference between being selfish with your time and being a Netflix binging shut-in)

 

  1. Reach out

I’m friends with a lot of people. Which is a blessing! But I’m also not a great friend to a lot of them. With only so many hours in a week, it’s difficult for me to prioritize certain people over others and I’ve definitely let some friendships fall to the wayside. This year I’m making a commitment to work harder to bring those friendships that have drifted back into my circle, and keeping them there.

 

  1. Be presentdownload

This is something that I think we can all work on. How many times have you been out to dinner and seen a whole table full of people staring at their phones? I’m guilty of it. If not scrolling Facebook, I’m often thinking about work or the errands I need to run when I’m spending time with others. This world has been getting increasingly crazy lately and I think now, more than ever it’s important that we actually listen to each other and COMPREHEND what others are going through. Since my intention this year is to only go to things that I truly want to be at, I better be present during them!

 

What do you think, folks? Anything else you think I should add to the list?

In the Zone

Top-Gun

Like most people, I really like spending time in my comfort zone. I wake up at the same time (even on the weekends dammit), eat at the same restaurants, go to trivia every Tuesday night. My friends and I even joke about our #NoNewFriends rule.

After completing multiple internships, I graduated from Drake University in 2015 with a degree in marketing and started my first role with a financial services company in a marketing capacity soon thereafter. I recently moved to a new role within my company as a Client Service Associate in DB Combo. Meaning – I’ll be servicing retirement plans that have both a 401K and Pension component. Not a marketing role. Now, as someone who hates the unknown and thrives on familiarity, why did I think it was a good idea to take a role that’s not even in the same zip code as my comfort zone?

Being comfortable is one of the scariest places you can be because you stop taking risks and challenging yourself. I firmly believe that it’s impossible to grow from a place of comfort. You need to purposely put yourself in those situations that raise your stress level, give you some anxiety and push you a little bit.  I work hard to be a yes woman and try new things that will stretch me: I don’t play golf but I’m planning a charity tournament and recently I signed up for a workgroup with a bunch of IT people to learn about information security.

This new role is uncomfortable for me now, but I’m learning something new every day and being challenged constantly. It’s hard to leave what you’re used to but ultimately, you’ll be better off by choosing to step headlong into that discomfort. Who knows where it will take you!

Trying new things is difficult. If it weren’t, breaking out of your comfort zone would be easy and we’d do it all the time. I challenge you to get out of your comfort zone today. Sign up for that after work networking event, speak up in a meeting, apply for that job you’re not 100% qualified for… take a risk and put yourself out there!

What now?

I cried today. Never did I think I would cry over the results of an election. Maybe that’s because I so wrongly assumed that America would never elect someone like Donald Trump. Everyone says oh don’t worry there’s three branches of government; he’ll never get anything done. But it’s so much more than that. With the results last night, Americans showed each other and the world that we don’t value women’s rights or LGBT rights or immigrant’s rights or the rights of pretty much anyone who’s not a rich white man. I woke up this morning fearing for my future. It’s not lost on me that as a white woman, I am so privileged to have never felt this fear before.

I’m incredibly disappointed that instead of taking a giant leap forward as a society and electing the first female president last night, we elected a misogynistic, xenophobic, homophobic, zero political experience business man who also doesn’t believe in climate change. We learned that you can be the most qualified person for a job [ever] and still lose because you’re a woman. I’m not saying that Hillary was a perfect candidate, far from it actually but I do firmly believe that her emails pale in comparison to all the terrible things Trump has done. (Think: “Grab her by the p**sy”)

So what do we do now? I don’t love Donald Trump, I don’t even like him. But I love America. I love that I have just as many white friends as I do non-white, I love that the Pride Parade in Chicago is one of the biggest events of the year, and I love that last week when two police officers in my community were killed thousands of people came together to lift each other up. Now, we need to come together and help him succeed. If Donald Trump doesn’t succeed, America doesn’t succeed. We must unite as a nation and show him what we expect him to do. Write letters, call your senators, send Trump a tweet, and make your voice heard. Now is the time to double down on America and make sure the rights we’ve fought so hard to achieve hold strong – that the values we hold so dearly ring true. It brings me hope that last night Minnesota elected the first Somali-American to a legislature. Even in the midst of the most divisive election ever we were still able to make some good change and advance hope.

I truly believe that love can and will always be able to topple hate. In the next four years be extra moral. Extra kind. Extra understanding. Extra optimistic. Try to understand your neighbor before you decide that because they voted for Trump their opinions are garbage. It’s ok to cry today, and feel hopeless – to mourn what could have been our future. Tomorrow the work begins.

Goals?

When I was in elementary school my goal was to be the four-square Queen by the time I hit 5th grade. In middle school I made it my mission to be on the 8th grade A team in softball. In high school I wanted to achieve a great score on the ACT and get into my top college choices. In college the goal was to come out of those four years with a job. My life has always been about accomplishing one goal so I could get to the next one – an endless string of checking boxes through 18 years of academia.

Well, I did it. I graduated and less than two weeks later was offered and accepted my job here at Principal. But now what? All of my goals in life have led up to this point. What kind of goals am I supposed to set now?

I went to a networking event recently that asked us to list out three goals we can accomplish by the end of 2015. The first thought that came to my mind when I saw the question was that I didn’t have any goals. The second was: does wanting to finish Gilmore Girls on Netflix count?

This event was a great excuse to sit down and think about setting some new goals for my postgrad life. I have a long term goal of owning my own business someday. Thus, an easy way to get started on some short term goals is to build off of that. For instance, I can take on projects and positions that will help me develop the skills necessary for owning a business. As for a short-term goal to accomplish in the next two months, I want to network more and get involved with things at work that force me outside of my comfort zone and allow me to both develop and help the business outside of my desk job. While the latter goal doesn’t necessarily follow the SMART Goals guidelines (measurable) it’s at least a start right?

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Open Letter to Congress

I haven’t written anything all summer because I haven’t felt like I had anything important or interesting to say. That changed around 8:00 this morning when I learned about the shooting in Virginia. All day I struggled to get work done as I grappled with wrapping my head around yet another senseless shooting.

I wrote this letter which I am planning on sending to my three representatives in Congress. If you feel the same, I would encourage you to send this to your representatives as well! If you think I’m a crazy liberal who wants to take away your rights, that’s cool too, bring on the comments.

Senator Grassley,

When is enough going to be enough?

America has become a place where children aren’t safe in schools, Christians aren’t safe in churches and reporters in small town Virginia aren’t safe interviewing with the local Chamber of Commerce. With the frequency that senseless shootings occur in this country, I consider myself lucky that I don’t know anyone who’s been killed in a tragedy like today’s. The Sandy Hook massacre shook the nation two years ago, forcing a national conversation about guns, yet the politics of gun control have barely changed.

Gun control may not be the only answer, but I firmly believe it is the place to start. America has six times as many firearm homicides as Canada, and 15 times as many as Germany. The United States has the highest gun ownership rate in the world – an average of 88 per 100 people. That puts us first in the world for gun ownership. Socioeconomic and other crime statistics aside, research consistently shows that more guns in a community lead to more homicides in a community. It’s as simple as that: more guns mean more deaths.

While there is no piece of legislation that can end all violence in this country, there are some common sense things that only Congress can do that can have a real impact on reducing gun violence in this country, while not infringing upon Second Amendment rights. I urge you to sponsor a bill making it harder for people to get access to guns. The only time someone has to go through a background check when purchasing a firearm is when they do it at a store. Even then, denials are rare, occurring less than 1% of the time. Dylann Roof bought his .45-caliber Glock at a gun store in Charleston, where he would have been required to pass a background check. Though he had been arrested earlier this year for trespassing and drug possession, he apparently met the legal criteria. Gun buyers who make a purchase at a gun show don’t even have to go through a background check.

Today’s shooting gave citizens a chilling, up-close look at what gun violence looks like. It shouldn’t take video footage or a certain number of people killed or shot to realize that America has a problem with guns. Again, as your constituent, I urge you to sponsor legislation making it harder for people to obtain guns in this country. We can’t guarantee strict gun control laws will keep guns out of the hands of people like Bryce Williams. But it would help. Shouldn’t that be enough?

Unpaid Internship Pays Dividends

logoI just finished up working an unpaid internship this semester with the Des Moines Menace, a minor league soccer team. It has been an incredibly rewarding experience. Prior to this I worked three other paid internships during my time in college. I decided I wanted one more internship, just to cap off senior year and broaden my marketing experiences that much more.

Here’s the kicker: I didn’t know the Menace internship was unpaid until the interview when I was offered the gig. It was 100 percent my fault that I didn’t know. I had interviewed for a full-time paid internship with them the summer before so I assumed that the internships during the school year were paid as well. I saw the job posting, knew that I had a history with the organization and liked my would-be boss (Adam) so I hit the button to apply. I wanted to work with the organization but I could not afford to take a 15-20 hour a week unpaid position. We talked it out, I took the weekend to think about it and we decided that since I already had my Fridays free for a potential internship I would work a full day on Fridays and they would hire another intern and split all the work between us.

On the first day I was extremely apprehensive. The summer after my freshman year I had accepted an unpaid internship with a minor league sports team in St. Paul. It was an awful experience and I ended up quitting after two weeks because the amount of time and travel required was not worth it. The first day with the Menace though, was awesome. Adam and I sat down and we mapped out a plan for my internship. We discussed specific things I wanted to learn about, specific projects I could complete for them that would be portfolio pieces for me, and short-term/long-term goals for the internship. For the Menace it was as much about me getting what I need out of an internship as it was getting done the work that they need completed.

The Menace only has a full-time staff of three people. The team depends on interns in order to simply function. Part of the reason I liked working there was that I was given real responsibilities that would not be completed if I was not there to do them. In addition to working on their social media and websites, my one main project was to create the 2015 Media Guide. This is a 40 page document that I created largely from scratch. In the process of creating the Media Guide I had to reformat excel spreadsheets upon excel spreadsheets of game results and season histories, turning them into documents that can be used to keep records for years to come.

While I’m incredibly proud of the work that I did for the Menace, the relationship that I developed with Adam was what really made the internship more valuable that I could have ever anticipated. He knew what a sacrifice it was for me to take an unpaid internship and did everything he could to make it worth my while. In addition to thanking me for being there every opportunity he got, he has become a mentor to me and someone I will continue to keep in contact with for years to come. We had many meetings where we would just sit and talk about my job search and strategies/tactics surrounding that. He tolerated me pestering him with questions about getting jobs via email at all hours of the day and provided a much needed sounding board. Most importantly, he challenged me and gave me needed shoves in the right professional direction. Just developing that professional relationship made the entire experience more than worthwhile for me and I am so thankful for it.