Financial advice from my mama

 

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“The more you make, the more you spend.”

These are the words my mom continues to throw at me every time I want more. More money. More power. A better job. A promotion. etc. etc.

You’d think that my inner overachiever would be a good thing right? A trait that would make any mama proud. And you’re right. Of course my mom is proud. She is more than proud. She is my biggest fan. I’m her everything. I am her “life” she tells me.

It’s not that my mom doesn’t want me to be the best, because she does. She just wants to make sure that I don’t lose perspective. That I don’t get so caught up in hedonistic cravings (a nicer car, a swankier apartment, a fancier wedding) and lose sight of what’s important in life – family, love, friends.

Because late nights at the office or in the classroom might be lost nights with my fiancé, or a home cooked meal with my parents, or a night just for me.

For this reason, my mama always reminds me to stay grounded and to live within my means. To remember that if I lose myself in always wanting more, I’m going to miss out on what I already have, one of which is a pretty awesome mother.

So, here’s to all of the amazing mothers out there – Happy Mother’s Day! The world’s a better place because you’re in it.

And here’s to you, mama. A sea of “thank you’s” would never be enough. xoxoxxo

 

The Bets are ON…Women

Hey ya’ll! Just wanted to share a super-cool article from the Washington Post. A nutshell summary is below, but if you’d like to learn more, please click “here.”

Ellevate Network - a women’s professional group – has teamed up with the Pax World Management investment firm to create an index fund which primarily invests in companies with high ratios of women in senior management or the BOD. For some time now, research has suggested that companies with greater diversity at the top are less prone to market volatility and produce higher returns as compared to their “vanilla” counterparts. Ellevate network is committed to applying research to practice…and this new fund aims at doing just that.

Can anyone say girl power?

John Legend & The Key to Success


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{Left: The Legend himself; Top Right: Penn Grads; Bottom Right: Me and Ben Franklin, duh}

With a seat at the top of the music scene, nine Grammy Awards, and a chart topping single (All of Me), John Legend knows a thing or two about success. On a sunny Monday in Philadelphia – the city of brotherly love – Mr. Legend was tasked with delivering his secrets to success to a sea of eager grads at the commencement ceremony for the University of Pennsylvania, his alma mater. (I was lucky enough to attend to support an old friend.)

Legend attributed his success to one thing. And no, it’s not his Ivy League education (except, how much more do you love him for it?!) It’s not hard work either. It’s not even that his wifey, Chrissy Teigen, was just on the cover of the swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated (basically making the duo the less ostentatious version of KimYe).

It’s Love.

In a raw and inspiring monologue, Legend bestowed his thoughts on life and love to the hopeful grads who, like the rest of the audience, were dangling on his every word. His speech (which was just as smooth and suave as his music) went a little something like this:

“We’re taught when we’re young that the opposite of love is hate, but it’s not. Hate is a byproduct. Hate is a result. Being a hater isn’t cool. Nobody wants that. But hate comes from one thing: fear. Fear is the opposite of love…fear is what blinds us. Fear makes us hold back…it whispers to us and tells us that we’ll fail. Fear locks us in place. It starts fights, it causes wars…and fear keeps us from loving.”

“Even though we’re made to love, we’re often afraid to love. We’re afraid of being hurt…of feeling pain. But you’re never going to really love something or someone unless you put those fears aside. Dont hold back. Love causes you to open your eyes, to seek, to search, to wonder. Love is all-consuming. It infiltrates your body and allows you to experience bliss, joy and true friendship. You’ll be more disappointed when something goes wrong. You might fall harder. But the only way you’ll reach any height in life and in love is by taking that chance that you might fall.”

“So love yourself. Love your work. Love the people around you. Dare to love those who are different from you no matter where they’re from, what they look like, or who they love. Pursue this life of love with focus and passion, ambition and courage. Give it your all. The key to success, the key to happiness, is opening your mind and your heart to love.”

“Love changes the world.”

So go. Fall in love.

With work, with someone, with something. No matter who, no matter what, no matter where, no matter when. Just go and love. And maybe, just maybe, the world will love you back.

St. Bart’s: Oh you fancy huh?

Photo-9Ahh St. Barts…it’s where you go to see and be seen. Catering to the likes of the hottest celebs including Ellen (LOVE her!), Rachel Zoe, Jay Z and [Queen] Bey, this little gem is the fanciest island in the Caribbean, and not to mention the most exclusive (read: expensive!).

Given that the average villa rate is about one million dollars per night (joking, duh!), the future-hubs and I decided to only go for the day…and what a day it was! First things first though, we were on the hunt for coffee (because like, how can you start your day without it?!) Luckily, immediately upon our debarkation, we stumbled upon the cutest french pastry shop and found the most delicious cup o’ joe. Despite the “They must be Americans” stares we received from the locals, we cheerfully frolicked out of the shop, coffee in tow, and ready to explore.

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Since we only had one day, we opted for an island tour. BUT, let me tell you, this was not your stereotypical, obnoxious-microphone-double-decker-bus, island tour. No, it was just the two of us and our chauffeur, and his Porsche. (Internal happy dance commence!) To make the current situation even sweeter, our chauffeur informed me that Cameron Diaz sat in my exact same seat just one week earlier. Yes – I know! My ass is basically famous!

Anywho, thanks to our fancy ride, we were no longer “The Americans” in St. Bart’s; we were now celebrities in St. Barthelemy (say this like Pepe Le Pew). You can just call us KimYe from here on out.

After treating our eyPhotoes to the most breathtaking panoramas on the planet, our chauffeur dropped us off at Nikki Beach – the most posh, ritzy beach bar in the French West Indies world. [Stacy Keibler was JUST there. Swearskies – just check her insta!) With bellinis in hand and fresh calamari at our fingertips, life was just delicious.

After our well-deserved dosage of opulence, we wrapped up our day by meandering around the cobblestone streets and perusing the boutiques. (Luckily for my fiancé, at the time, I wasn’t in the mood to add to my Hermés collection…mostly because, well, it is non-existent…womp womp.) With just minutes left to spare, our chauffeur whisked us away to our catamaran and we were headed back to reality.

St. Bart’s – I just love ya, and if you’re good enough for Bey, you are sure as hell good enough for me.

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The Honeymoon Fund

As part of our engagement prezies, my very best friend, and MOH (duh!) gave us the most unique gift: a mason jar. Yes, I know, mason jars have taken over Pinterest like the Kardashians on E!, but you might be wondering why exactly these trendy receptacles could also serve as an engagement present. Right?

Well, I should probs mention that said receptacle was filled with some dollas and adorned with the cutest ever heart pendant that read: “Honeymoon Fund.”

This is where you say “Awww…how sweet!”

Yes, I know, so sweet! My very thoughtful, and Martha Stewart-esque bestie presented us with one of our favorite-est gifts thus far, and it’s one that my future hubs and I have committed ourselves to using. Scouts honor, every time we want to eat out, we’re going to eat in, and put the money we would have spent into our new fund; unless of course its birthday dinners, or date night, or brunch with the girls (because, well, who doesn’t love mimosas?!) You get the picture.

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Birchbox & Benjis

It’s like Christmas, except that its once a month, every month, and it comes in a cardboard box. It’s Birchbox, of course, and for the last 3.5 years, it has made its way into about 800,000 homes, mine included. What is it you ask? It’s a monthly supply of sample size beauty products that runs for about 1/10th of a benji per box. (That’s $10 for all you of you old-schoolers out there. Duh!)

The Company was founded by beauty brazens and Harvard b-school grads, Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna in 2010. With about $12 million in seed and Series A funding, the girls set out to establish one of the prettiest start-ups in New York. A few years later, Birchbox has once again sealed the deal for capital, this time ringing to the tune of about 600,000 benjis worth of Series B funding, which translates to approximately $60 Million. Sugar daddies Venture capitalists include Viking Global Investors among others. The Company plans to use the new capital for hiring, geographic expansion and marketing purposes, among other things, according to co-CEO, Beauchamp. Can anyone say girl power?

The Humble Investor: John Bogle

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Yesterday I had the great pleasure of meeting John Bogle. Also known as Jack. He’s been named one of the world’s most influential people by Time magazine; he’s been regarded as one of the investment industry’s four “Giants of the 20th Century” by Fortune; he’s also one hell of a nice guy. Witty, too. Oh, and he also founded Vanguard.

Just in case you didn’t know, Vanguard is the largest mutual fund company in the world, managing approximately $2.4 trillion in assets.

The most striking thing about Mr. Bogle was his modesty. Going into the event, I was expecting someone along the likes of Carl Icahn or Donald Trump; dressed in a fine Italian suit, shrewd and slightly pompous. WRONG. He was more like Mr. Rogers. You know, the gentle old man from the kid show Mister Roger’s Neighborhood who always wore the cardigan and came in singing “Won’t you be my neighbor?”

Mr. Bogle quietly entered the room wearing a forest green sweater, and a sand colored blazer. If he wasn’t formally introduced, I would’ve thought he was just someone’s grandpa. [Side note, he is someone’s grandpa, 12 times over in fact.] Anyway, Bogle was asked to speak to his career in front of a small gathering of students and faculty. His words were not so much career advice as they were life advice. Here goes:

Read: “Read, read, read and write, because writing makes you think. Or at least it makes me think”. [Note: Bogle’s book suggestion? The Bible.]

Be yourself: “If you can’t be yourself, fake it. Don’t fake it ‘till you make it, fake it until you become it.” Bogle borrowed these words by an alumni publication issued by his alma mater, Princeton University. One of the many that he reads.

Be a contrarian: “If one more person tells me it won’t work, I’m going to start it myself. So then I did. I started the index fund.” Did you catch that? Mr. Bogle started the world’s first ever index fund, and he did it against all odds.

Hire Nice People: Vanguard’s first ever Human Resource department was comprised of just one woman, a former secretary in the Company. When Mr. Bogle called her to his office to take on the role, the secretary gladly accepted. While leaving his office she said to him: “I’ll do whatever it is you want me to do Mr. Bogle, but what is it exactly that you want me to do?”. At first the man didn’t even know himself. But then it hit him, and he advised her to do just this: “Hire nice people, and tell them to hire nice people too”.

Walk the talk: When I asked Mr. Bogle how he established the culture at Vanguard, he said this: “You work at it. You walk the talk. People have called me many mean things in my life, but they’ve never called me a phony”.

Don’t watch the stupid market: “Bologna is the name of the business in which I find myself”. Wait, what? When someone asked one of the world’s most highly regarded financiers about investing he said “don’t watch the stupid market” and then he mentioned bologna? Yes. That’s right. He also said that the market was just a “giant distraction to investing” and “it creates no value; corporations create all the value”. You know what, Mr. Bogle is right. The market is solely a means of transacting…it’s a simple concept but yet we can’t seem to grasp it. Instead of trying to understand the true essence of corporations, modern day investors are more concerned with trying to attain some sort of clairvoyance in predicting what the market will do next. It’s a waste of time. If you want to start investing, Mr. Bogle suggests you buy into an index fund and let it ride.

Be a good person: ”Never think you are better than anyone…be kind. As you rise in your career, don’t forget to be nice!” Mr. Bogle himself admits that most executives at his level lose sight of what it means to be nice. It seems so simple, but it can take you so far. Mr. Bogle said that he often enjoyed talking to the people that came in at nights to clean as opposed to those that were in the suits.

Never settle: When a student asked Mr. Bogle when he finally realized the point at which he reached success he responded with this: “Not yet”. I have no words. Okay lies. I have one word, and its WOW.

Don’t forget about the rainbows: Mr. Bogle was fired from his first job and at the time, he had 6 kids. However, it was one of his greatest blessings, because it inspired him to start Vanguard. With that, Mr. Bogle noted that life’s most cataclysmic events can turn out to be the best ones. So why did I mention rainbows again? Oh, because they do in fact come after the rain.

The above are just a few of the snippets of advice I was able to garner from this financial sage. The man is truly brilliant, but he’s so much more. He’s modest, he’s humble, and he’s just really, really nice. At several points throughout his speech he downplayed his genius by insisting that anyone of us could’ve done his job and that he was just lucky. [Err..huh? Even me?] Then, at the end of his speech, he apologized for taking up so much of our time. Really? Here’s the guy that basically put the mutual fund on the map, and he’s apologizing for taking too much of my time? How’s that for thoughtful?

Mr. Bogle is a true inspiration, and the world is lucky to have a leader like him. His advice is sought after by presidents, economists, and investors all over the world, and I feel so lucky to have met him. He’s a rarity. Not because he’s a gazillionaire and insanely smart. Not even because he invented the index fund and founded Vanguard. But because he is probably one of the few people in the world that doesn’t think he’s better than anyone else. Now THAT my friend, is special.

Oh, and you want to know the best thing about good ol’ Jack? He’s from Jersey.