life is what happens when…

by Krystal Bick
January 19, 2018

Let’s get personal.

I feel like this has been happening to me quite a bit lately, but this post started off much differently.

My original post (that’s still sitting in my WordPress draft folder screaming ‘publish me instead’) was a much more straightforward and informational essay on the state of my financial health as a small business owner. Now, before you yawn and get ready to swipe through this article, my intentions were this: One of the most frequently asked questions I get, is around how I decided to finally take the plunge to quit Google and to work on This Time Tomorrow full time — an answer that often gets condensed in conversation but in reality, there was a lot of number crunching, soul searching and, well, ugly spreadsheets.

Spreadsheets for tracking my overall growth. Spreadsheets for tracking projections. Spreadsheets for tracking my expenses to incomings. Spreadsheets for the spreadsheets! What was it all for? Financial peace of mind — something that wasn’t taught to me in any university class, but something that I spent a lot of time Googling and re-Googling, something that I listened to tons of Ted Talks about. In that original post, we were going to talk about financial peace of mind. How to get it. Why we (meaning millennials) seem to be lacking it. And why we don’t ever really talk about it with our family and loved ones. We all make money in different ways, whether it’s from our own companies, working for someone else, or even answering online surveys via Lifepoints but we rarely want to talk about our income with anyone which seems bizarre.

And to be clear, we’re still going to talk about those things. But that’s where this post takes a detour.

I’m currently writing this from a hospital back in my hometown of Reno, Nevada. It’s 6:05 am PST on Tuesday and my mom is currently recovering from a hip replacement surgery from the day before. The past 48 hours have been a blur of last minute flights, pre-op appointments and the dreaded waiting room dance, where you can’t decide if you get another cup of coffee or survey the food options in the caffeteria one more time, as if they’ve miraculously changed. It’s been nerve wracking — feeling both helpless and responsible at the same time — for someone like a parent, who is normally the one taking care of you.

To be clear, my mom is recovering quite well and is already walking around a bunch, with her doctor estimating she’ll be up and ready in no time. Today’s post isn’t looking for sympathy about this experience (although I’d love to write something longer about it specifically as perhaps we can all relate to times when roles are reversed with parents?), but it did get me thinking a lot about statistics that I’ve read recently. Consider the following:

  • The majority of Americans are worried that they would be financially crippled by a major life event, but aren’t actively preparing for it. Over half would not be able to come up with $400 for an emergency.
  • 50% of Americans have more credit card debt than they do savings. Building credit is something that many people struggle with so if you need some help or advice on the matter, it may be worth learning how to establish credit, particularly if you live in the U.S.
  • Only 15% of the population is on track to fund even one year of retirement.
  • Money is, quite unsurprisingly, the number one source of stress, yet 70% of Americans find it rude to discuss money in public settings.

The first and last points get me here, especially as I find myself in the position that I’m in, dealing with a major life event. Thankfully, there aren’t any hiccups to report — the surgery, while still major, is practically routine at this point, her doctor has been amazing and it’s thankfully all covered by insurance. I financially planned to take this trip, putting work and life on hold to a certain extent to help out as much as possible here back at home — a reality that may not always be the case for someone who perhaps doesn’t work independently/for themselves.

But what if any of the above weren’t true? What if I hadn’t put enough extra aside for this particular major life event? What if something complicates (God forbid) the recovery process? What if her insurance ultimately decides to file this differently than expected thereby covering less? They’re all things we would inevitably take in stride, but it does make you stop and think: how well prepared am I?

Now, I’m not someone who likes to sit at home worrying about every little thing that could go wrong. After all, life is a series of things that happens when you’re not looking, right? But it wasn’t until I sat down to write this post in collaboration with Intuit (the makers of Mint and Turbo Tax) for their financial health app Turbo, that I realized, I don’t know if I fully understand my financial state of the union, so to speak. Sure, I run my own business, and I like to think I’m doing all the “appropriate adult” things I should be doing for retirement, savings etc. but am I really?

For the past few weeks leading up to heading back home, I’ve been taking a good, hard look at my financial situation, my spending to saving ratio, my overhead expenses (both business and personal) — the whole works — via the Turbo app, which brings together your IRS-verified income, credit score (you may find this article helpful when looking for your credit report) and debt-to-income ratio to produce a holistic picture of your financial standing. In the past, I’ve viewed many of these things separately in silos, so the ability to assess the lay of the land all in one place has been eye-opening. If you do see that you have outstanding debts but they were taken out many years ago, you may want to ask yourself “can a debt collector collect after 10 years?” this could potentially decrease your debt total expenditure for the future.

This year, one of my biggest personal goals is to better understand my true financial health, starting first with debunking this idea we shouldn’t talk about money. I’ve found sometimes the things that give us the most anxiety or fear, tend to be the things we shy away from sharing with anyone — making for feelings of isolation or embarrassment that we’re doing something wrong. Perhaps its the effect of this hospital or the onset of my 30s talking here, but I find that to be a terrible waste of time. And perhaps you do, too?

So let’s start that now. What are some of your financial goals — big or small — this year? And how are you working toward them?

This post was in collaboration with Turbo. As always, all opinions and styling are my own. Thank you for supporting all This Time Tomorrow collaborations!

13 thoughts on “life is what happens when…

  1. Interesting post with in fact many different subjects in it … to me when I read it the first big thing is the difference between life in Europe and America … ok I’m on the other side of the ocean, system is totally different and probably no one is better than the other, the best is in between 😉 But I’ve learned to be prepared for the “if”s so when something happens I’m prepared, I can react quickly and I don’t need to take risky decision under stress or pressure. It helps a lot and to me it’s called maturity. Ok I have the chance to have good job, no health problems and so on but personal management is to keep that state for as long as possible 😉

    Nice look by the way and I hope your mom will quickly fully recover 😉

  2. I’m glad to hear that your mom is recovering well.

    I have a number in mind to get to in both my 401K and savings this year. I was able to accomplish them in 2017 so I’ve upped up the number considerably and looking forward to getting there by the end of this year 🙂

    Such a great post!

  3. Glad to hear your mom is recovering well! Hope you are okay. I know going through this as a caregiver can be hard. Overall, my financial health has been my #1 ever since I graduated from college (eek I can’t believe it is almost 10 years ago!). I specially saved everything because of emergencies. I am glad I did, because with my major health it has helped me reduce the stress of money. Glad you are opening the dialogue on this.

  4. I loved so many things about this post! Talking about money and financial health makes so many people uncomfortable and I think that’s crazy! It’s something we all have in common and for the most part can relate to each other on. I am very thankful my parents taught me about finances growing up. And one of the best things I did was go to a financial planner/adviser. He has taught me so much about investing and planning for the future. My goals this year are to max out my RRSP and TFSA contributions (basically Canadian versions of retirement savings) and position myself to have my mortgage paid off by 2020.

    I would also love to hear your experience on role reversal with parents. My Dad got sick when I was 17 and it was such a strange shift to navigate emotionally.

  5. Love that you’re opening up the discussion on money and financial health. It really is so shocking that it is such an important concept and yet no one talks about it. If it is so important, we should be talking about it ALL THE TIME! I am in a better position than most since I am an accountant and my husband is in finance, but even still we don’t know that much, so I worry about people who know even less. We should be changing the conversation so that this is something empowering and enlightening so more people are in a state of comfort knowing their financial situation!

    If you haven’t already, you should listen to the How I Built This podcast episode with the creator of LearnVest. She basically talks about all this and how she created a company to help empower people with their finances – it was really fascinating!

    xo Mary-Katherine

  6. Thank goodness I have job security—touch wood, right? I have good health insurance and my employer pays for my housing, kids’ education, and my annual leave. I have to remember to take all of these benefits into my salary. I don’t actually make that much, but because of the other perks of being an international educator I feel like I live very well. I travel the world, I live in an amazing apartment that overlooks the sea, and I don’t want for much. I live really well. If I told you I made under $100K a year, you would hardly believe me because of my lifestyle—and that is most likely why for for the last 20 years I’ve been teaching overseas. The perks are amazing. I don’t know how teachers back home do it. I realise I could be coming across as very spoiled sounding, but rather I feel very privileged and equally lucky that my husband and I stumbled upon this career back in 1997.

    I won’t say all the traveling I’ve done in the past year—you could go see it on my blog. I will say that when my husband and I professed our love to one another in a kazoo on a rooftop in Greece back in 1993, we hardly expected to make those dreams our reality!

    Krystal, I had a hip a replacement a year and a half ago (at 44!). Your mom is going to feel so much better. The relief is instant. It’s quite surreal actually. I am so happy you are able to be there for her. What a blessing you are to her. Here’s to a speedy recovery for your mum.

  7. This was a great post! I’ve been thinking a lot about this too. I’ve been reading Ramit Sethi’s “I Will Teach You to Be Rich” with my boyfriend, and we’ve talked a lot last year about investing, saving, and how to start getting more serious about our financial situations without needing to put living our lives on hold. This year, one of my financial goals is to finally hit a certain threshold in my savings and transfer that balance to a High Yield Savings Account (once I pick the right one)!

  8. This is a GREAT start of the conversation, Krystal!! You really should have a series of these posts, with details on how to get into saving, picking good credit cards, checking your credit score, setting up 401K, maybe even dabbling in some low-risk investments (e.g. mutual funds, etc.).

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