JAKWellness12 Week 6: Financial Wellness



Happy Monday friends. Still over here recovering from last night’s Pats loss, mainly because I usually go to bed at 9pm so I’m just really tired. And I I don’t want to admit this but I am sort of happy for the Eagles because I know how good it feels when your team wins (especially after they haven’t for a long time) so good on them. We are into our second month of the #JAKWellness12 and after the Instagram stories poll I did last week, the majority chose Money to focus on this month (Career will be next month). If I’m being honest I didn’t want money to win, which is probably a good indication that we should be talking about it. Financial wellness is SO important, and it wasn’t until a little over a year ago I actually got serious about it. Money is a difficult thing to talk about, and it can be an overwhelming and scary thing to navigate. They really don’t teach you this $hit in school, and they should! This month we’re going to discuss different aspects of financial wellness so we are all on a path to a better and more secure financial future. Don’t forget that every Monday you leave a comment with your progress (from the week before) you’re automatically entered into the monthly and year-end giveaways! I’ll be picking last month’s winner later today.
Jess Ann Kirby plans her finances at part of her 2018 resolutions at home in ripped jeans and a messy bun

February Wellness Dimension: Money

This week’s challenge: Understanding your financial situation.

This week is going to focus on getting a better understanding of your financial situation. Some of you may be further along than others, wherever you are is fine. This Wednesday I will be meeting with my financial advisor to ask him some questions from all of you. Any questions you have about financial wellness (savings, retirement, paying off debt, credit, etc.) leave them in the comments below before Wednesday morning! Next week I’ll share his answers and advice. To get you started this week, here are some suggestions:

-Get all of your debt in one place (a spreadsheet is helpful). Understand how much you owe (credit cards, car payments, student loans, etc.)

-Do the same for your savings and investments (put together a spreadsheet of your assets -it’s ok if you don’t have any, not that long ago, I didn’t).

-Create a spreadsheet of your monthly expenses (rent, groceries, gas, utilities, credit cards, phone, health insurance, clothing, student loans) literally everything you pay on a monthly basis.

-Write down your financial goals. What do you want to accomplish this month, in 6 months, this year, in 5 years? Think short and long term about your financial wellness and priorities.

What are your biggest financial questions? Leave them in the comments below!

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  1. Sam wrote:

    I’ve been using my farmaesthetics products and have been looking into updating my makeup to cleaner brands (I don’t really wear much makeup so this isn’t really a top priority of mine right now). I did however discover that my favorite lotion, Mountain Ocean Skin Trip coconut moisturizer is not a clean brand, which is really upsetting because they do lead you to believe that it is a clean brand.

    I’m really looking forward to this weeks challenge, I went to school for business and marketing and am really good with budgets and numbers so I’m constantly looking at ways to save money. I’m kind of an excel nerd and love making spreadsheets, so keeping track of my monthly spending is something I already do. My current money saving goal is to try to buy used when possible, that way not only will I be saving money, but it will help me create less waste.

    2.5.18 | Reply
  2. Christina wrote:

    Getting my finances in order was also a goal for me in 2018 – and I also really didn’t want money to win because it feels like such an overwhelming thing! Most of the reason it’s hard for me to think about is that I live in New York City and have student loans that I feel like I will be paying back for forever. It’s next to impossible to save after paying rent and those bills each month. I am really good about keeping spending under control, but it can still feel like you’re under water.

    My biggest question is whether or not those consolidation plans and new companies, like SoFi, are smart in the long run. I know they lower the interest rate, but it almost feels too good to be true. I’m told it doesn’t effect your credit score, but it seems scary to “sell” off the loan to a private lender when one of my current loans is through the government (I’m very lucky and have had nothing but positive experiences dealing with the lending company). It would just be extremely helpful to have the loan bills be slightly lower at least while I still live in NYC, so I’m super curious!

    The other question I have is what is the best way to create a budget when after bills (including things like the gym, internet, cable), you aren’t working with much. It’s tricky to think of putting X% directly into savings when you need to be realistic with cost of living.

    Thank you so much for your willingness to ask your financial advisor some questions for the good of the group – I’m really interested to see what they have to say!

    2.5.18 | Reply
  3. Rachel wrote:

    I like this challenge!
    I’m always looking for was to save money and any tips and tricks others have for being better at this!
    This is one of those things that I go through periods when I’ve very disciplined and limit my extra spending and other times I live in a “YOLO” mindset.
    Around the holidays it’s usually the “YOLO” mindset but so far this year I’ve been back on track and hope to be somewhat disciplined until the summer when I’ll want some new clothes and a few weekend getaways (not to mention patio drinks)
    Looking forward to following along this month!

    2.5.18 | Reply
  4. Jackie wrote:

    This a great but scary topic! Lol. Finances are such an overwhelming topic especially when you have to take a hard look at what is coming in and what is going out…

    Looking forward to any advice and tips on how to be more financially responsible.

    2.5.18 | Reply
  5. Mahi wrote:

    thank you for sharing very good post, keep it up.

    2.5.18 | Reply
  6. Jherell Drain wrote:

    Admittedly, I did better with clean eating but not-so-good with incorporating clean beauty into my skincare routine last week. But I do plan on looking into a DIY face mask this week!

    This week’s challenge is another good one! I’m entering my mid-20s, so I’m a newbie when it comes to investing. But I want to dive into it ASAP. Where should I begin?

    2.5.18 | Reply
  7. Caitlin wrote:

    The natural skincare is a bit hard for me. I know it’s definitely something I need to start doing though. You insta stories was definitely helpful yesterday (saw it this morning). I was able to learn about new (to me) brands that I’m interested in trying. My mascara is almost up so I think I may start there!

    Budgeting is something I’m super excited for. My fiancé and I get married in May and we are looking to buy a house soon after so I am super excited for this week’s challenge!

    2.5.18 | Reply
  8. Cristy wrote:

    Budgeting is something my husband and I have unsuccessfully tried to tackle several times in the past. Though we live a pretty modest life and aren’t big spenders, we have been blessed (and worked really hard to) have enough income that we can just put most of our payments on automatic “pay-in-full” and not have to even look at what we’re spending monthly. That said, this method doesn’t help us when it comes to saving or investing. We live in a pretty expensive city (Miami) and once our bills are paid, we don’t have a ton left to save. I’d like to be more intentional about creating a budget that allocates part of our earnings to savings and investment, and identifies what we need to cut back on in order to do that (definitely eating out and take-out). I feel like once we get over the hurdle of organizing our monthly expenses into a spreadsheet and really understanding what we’re spending on, budgeting and saving would be much easier to do. I’d love it if you could ask your advisor for any good resources with pre-arranged spreadsheets that we could just plug our numbers into. Plus how to deal with fluctuating monthly expenses (gas, parking, and tolls are a big variable for us, as well as non-recurring expenses like repairs and travel). Also, any good tips for where to start on investing/saving. Really looking forward to hearing his responses to everyone’s questions.

    2.5.18 | Reply
  9. Isabel wrote:

    I’m currently a student, so my financial wellness leaves a lot to be desired. I work on campus, so pretty much all the money I make there goes towards paying rent, and buying groceries. I do try my best to save what I can in preparation for the future.

    My question would be, what is a good first step to building up credit as a young person? And, what are the best credit cards for responsible students?

    Thank you!

    2.5.18 | Reply
  10. Mary wrote:

    What are some savings and retirement planning advice for self-employed individuals? Right now it looks like that will be my main financial avenue for the unforeseeable future and I’d look some ideas on what to aim for (because I have no clue!). I have health issues and can’t really work a normal job, but I have no clue what long-term goals to set beyond having 3-6 months savings set aside.


    2.5.18 | Reply
  11. Megann wrote:

    FInding a financial planner seems so scary and I feel like many end up trying to sell you rather than look out for your personal interests.
    Question 1: how to identify a financial planner?
    2. How to help someone with credit card debt, a sibling has credit card debt and doesn’t really want to talk about it. How do you confront and help them manage their debt?
    3. Budget and financial apps to make finances easier?
    4. How not to spend all my $$ on my pets? Haha

    2.5.18 | Reply
  12. katy wrote:

    I’m looking forward to reading what you learn from your advisor, I feel like we get slammed with all kinds of conflicting information – how to pay student loans back, what kinds of debt are bad debt, etc.

    I did get degrees in Finance and Economics in school (and currently work as a corporate Financial Analyst) so I feel like I should be really good at it. I guess because I’m doing it as a job, it feels like WORK in my personal life. One of our financial goals is to purchase a house so 2018 is the year my husband and I are working to take it more seriously! We started with the goal of wanting to have $XX in savings by the end of the year and worked backwards from there! We made sure to include shopping, movies, eating out, and gifts throughout the year to make sure it was realistic AND we could reward ourselves! It’s only been a month, but we are comparing our actual spend with our plan and it’s exciting to see where we did really well and where we can improve.

    2.5.18 | Reply
  13. Katie G wrote:

    I was really excited to see your IG story yesterday about True Botanicals and W3ll People, they are 2 brands I have been wanting to try for a while, and now I will! I am also try to use up what I currently have before getting anything else. (#tinybathroomproblems)

    This weeks topic is one I am eager to dive into, because so many of my 2018 goals are effected by money. I love this weeks challenge, and ironically I started making spreadsheets this last night, budgeting out each category and seeing exactly where my money goes. I am glad we are starting this challenge so early in the year, because it will help me set this tracking system up right early, and not have to go back months in and edit.

    I think my biggest questions if for the fellow entrepreneurs and freelances out there. My income is not a consistent pay check week to week, and I never really know how much I am going to make in a month. I seem to have an average that I do hit, but it also can take 4-6 weeks for invoices to come in. What suggestions does your financial advisor have for the not so steady paycheck? Is there a recommendation for how much to automatically set aside from each paycheck?

    Also, I set up a Roth IRA this year and have automatic monthly contributions, I am wondering if this is enough or if there is anything else I should be contributing to for the future?

    xx Thanks Jess!

    2.5.18 | Reply
  14. Corrie wrote:

    Ugh this week’s challenge is something I’ve had hanging over me for six months! I need to take control of my finances but I keep putting it off because it feels so overwhelming. I’m a writer and, while my creative brain is useful (some of the time), it’s the WORST when it comes to numbers. Seriously, I don’t even know how to use a spreadsheet. I’d love to know if there are any helpful apps/tools to help number-illiterate people like me. Thank you!

    My current February goal is to refrain from buying anything ‘unnecessary’ for myself. It’s going to be a l-o-n-g month.

    2.5.18 | Reply
  15. Lisa wrote:

    I’ve been fortunate in avoiding debt and in keeping up with my (and now our) financial wellbeing from a young age. I don’t make a lot right now, as I’m in graduate school, but I feel comfortable talking about our goals and budget. If I had a financial advisor, I would want to ask her about donor advised funds for charitable giving, as well as other options to make the best use of our philanthropic dollars.

    2.5.18 | Reply
  16. Amanda G wrote:

    For the challenge last week I checked my everyday makeup and skin care out in the Think Dirty app and was surprised by some of the results. I am definitely going to look into the well people makeup you talked about on instastories.

    Finances have been on my mind since summer of last year. I stopped teaching at the end of the school year and started my own tutoring business (its just me right now). I really have had to look at my spending (and savings) as I build the business and get to my goal income. My question for your financial advisor would be when starting out a new business, and income isn’t consistent week to week or month to month, should I still be saving the same amount (to savings and retirement) or should I take a percentage?

    I look forward to reading the questions and answers in a later post!

    2.5.18 | Reply
  17. Andrea wrote:

    Thanks for covering this important topic! After years of living paycheck to paycheck, I would consider myself to be in a decent financial place now. I just broke six figures in my retirement accounts. I don’t have much debt. I’m a pretty good saver (but also love to shop). But I just feel like, after years of scrambling, I’m probably a little behind where I should be for my age (41).

    My question would be: what SHOULD I be putting away in terms of savings/retirement? I feel like I see conflicting advice like save 10%, save 20%, max out your 401k contributions. I feel like I could be doing better, but I’m not sure where to start. Is there a standard guideline? Should I really have three times my salary in my retirement accounts? Who has that kind of money?!

    2.5.18 | Reply
  18. Becca wrote:

    What are the pros and cons of combining bank accounts after marriage? Especially if one partner makes much more money than the other.

    2.5.18 | Reply
  19. Stacy wrote:

    I’m excited for the financial challenges! The last two years I focused on getting debt paid off and getting money smart, and was feeling really good about it. Unfortunately some unexpected life changes threw my finances completely toward the end of last year, so I’m buckling down again to get things sorted out. It’s so hard to talk about money (there can be so much shame around it) but it’s so important!

    2.5.18 | Reply
  20. mackey wrote:

    Thank you for taking on the challenge. It is so hard to talk about. I really would love any tips or tricks to help save. While I’m in graduate school.

    2.5.18 | Reply
  21. Ishani Patel wrote:

    This topic gives me so much anxiety, because I know just how important it is. Like honestly W H Y don’t they teach us about this in school/college?

    I’m currently in my second year of adulting (graduated college in 2016) and I found this past year so difficult in terms of the jump from the college bubble to all of a sudden having some really important fiscal responsibilities.

    I think my biggest question would be how to save for retirement? What does that look like?

    All these acronyms are thrown around and I feel pretty lost. I keep hearing the advice that you should start saving for retirement from when you start working, but as someone who knows nothing about that/investing(?!)/financial planning, it feels really overwhelming.

    Can’t wait to read the advice you share from your meeting Jess, and also any advice/tips about money management and saving from you all in the community! 🙂

    2.5.18 | Reply
  22. Melissa wrote:

    Finances terrify me and I let it paralyze me, which I know is horrible but there it is. So thanks for giving me a to do list.

    I guess my biggest question is how on earth can anyone ever afford to retire??? It seems insurmountable to me, and even if I start saving and planning now, I just don’t see it realistically being possible.

    2.5.18 | Reply
  23. KAM wrote:

    Where did you find your FA?

    No one wants to go to a dark and stodgy office to discuss their finances. So, what modern ways can we find and connect w FAs? Apps, etc.

    This might not be an FA question, maybe more for an accountant … but how do you make the tax process, easier…please! I’m always so overwhelmed with running a small consulting co.

    So overall I’m seeking suggestions to which apps or programs will help make the process easier, so I can get back to doing what I do best which is creative! Thanks

    2.5.18 | Reply
  24. Kayla wrote:

    I am thrilled to see that you got a package of well people! I have used their bronzer on and off for almost a year now-I love the creamy easy to use stick it comes in-which for me, makes contouring that much easier. I’ve been on the journey to transitioning to using Tom’s deodorant. I used it consistently for almost a year and then found I needed something stronger once I moved to a warmer location. Any other good aluminum free deodorants out there?

    I will have to say this month is going to be a struggle for me. I would say I know the complete absolute basics when it comes to financial planning. My parents have always instilled in me to save save save! Which I would say I have done a pretty good job at. I didn’t get a credit card until I was 23. Heres to hoping I am not totally failing when it comes to financial planning/saving for my life!

    2.6.18 | Reply
  25. Lisa wrote:

    Hi Jess – I absolutely love this week’s wellness challenge. I guess, my question is a basic one. Why did you start working with a financial advisor? Was it because you started to accrue more wealth and wanted the money to grow faster? My husband and I don’t have much going on financially as in, we don’t have any investments, just lots and lots of school loans. However, I’m curious if working with a financial advisor will help me to reduce my debt faster and help me grow my money faster. Thank you!

    2.6.18 | Reply
  26. What are the best ways to make investments in your late 20s, aren’t married and don’t have kids? I have a little money I’m sitting on and want to invest it instead of it making zero percent interest in my savings account.

    2.6.18 | Reply
  27. Bitsy wrote:

    Ugh…did not want this topic either. Maybe I’ll do my taxes this weekend and use that to get my finances in order. I’d be curious to learn more about actively saving money. What the best way to do it?

    I’ve been using clean beauty products for awhile and have been loving coco kind products lately. Last week was not the week for me to eat clean but am on it this week. Dabbling with the idea of an elimination diet but not quite ready yet.

    2.6.18 | Reply
  28. Jill B wrote:

    Really excited for this week. I have been trying to figure out how to pay down debt while also saving for a house. Any tips for this and budgeting. Thanks!

    2.6.18 | Reply
  29. Meg wrote:

    I did well with clean beauty. My makeup-makeup isn’t all (or even mostly) clean, but I hardly wear any on a day-to-day basis, so I’ve been more focused on cleaning up my skincare and body products.

    My finances are not awesome, however, so…this’ll be a good month to focus on that!

    2.6.18 | Reply
  30. Virginia wrote:

    I’m excited for this topic. I already have a goal set in place to pay off debt. What are some tips for paying off debt? And any financial advice for prepairing to buy a house?

    2.6.18 | Reply
  31. Erin wrote:

    I recently finished Wellness Project by Phoebe Lapine and was really inspired to start using more green beauty products. This challenge was a fun reminder for me to keep the goodness going! I got a lip & cheek tint from RMS Beauty which I am excited to try out. I also switched to natural deodorant a few months back and am so glad I did. Feels good to not only put good things IN my body, but ON my body as well.

    2.6.18 | Reply
  32. Desiree Catalina Warren wrote:

    For last weeks challenge, I did meal prep on the weekend for lots of healthy clean eating. It’s so much easier to resist eating out if your fridge is full of heathy, homemade goodness! I made veggie bean soup, chicken apple walnut salads, salmon with romanesco broccoli and shitake with tahini dressing, and some peanut butter millet protein bars for sweet tooth.

    For the clean beauty routine, I tried drunk elephants b vitamin moisture gel and kora (Miranda kir skinline). Both are lovely. I love the face oil especially it’s much lighter than Argan oil which I appreciate.

    Excited to focus on finances this week. A challenging but essential endeavor!

    2.8.18 | Reply
  33. Beeta wrote:

    One of my goals for the year is to keep up with your wellness challenge and I’m not giving up!

    I’ve been cooking a few meals a week that are from clean ingredients and I love it! My schedule is still a bit nuts with work and school, but I feel better about at least having some clean meals in there 🙂

    I’m really excited for this week’s challenge! Thank you for getting the answers to many popular questions!!

    2.8.18 | Reply
  34. Brooke Seder wrote:

    I love this idea! I have a suggestion that has been working really well for me over the last few months. This is more about your budget specifically rather than overall financial goals but thought I’d share.

    I have tried all different kinds of apps and spreadsheets but always feel SO overwhelmed by it. The idea of having to determine how much I can/will spend per month broken down by category (food, entertainment, rent, etc.) is just not realistic for me. It varies so much!

    Enter…Daily Budget. It is a free app (though I have since upgraded to the paid version) and you enter your income and all your fixed expenses and it breaks all those down to a per-day cost. You can also add in what % of your income you’d like to save and any big savings goals, like a trip or something, and again it breaks it down by day. What this leaves you with is your “play money” anything you have left over after all your fixed expenses, savings, etc. is then also broken down per day.

    The app has a super intuitive interface that I love. You go in and it shows you the exact amount of money you have to spend that day and a + and – button. Enter + for any additional money you made or maybe something you returned and got money back for. Enter – for any expenditures and assign them a category (the paid version has lots more categories but you can totally get by with the free one just fine). Whatever you didn’t spend today gets piled on to the next day’s budget. It is so great. I thought I would never be able to budget but here I am, absolutely obsessed with this app.

    2.8.18 | Reply
  35. Nancy wrote:

    Farmaesthetics all the way!!! I’m so obsessed with their brand and I use them every day. The midnight honey, the herbal cleanser, the rose polish, they are all AMAZING!!! Love, love, love

    This financial challenge could not come at a better time. I am so ready to get myself on track with a workable budget. I think one of my biggest struggles is finding a way to save when I have so many expenses. That is something that would be helpful to learn more about!

    2.8.18 | Reply
  36. Brittany wrote:

    Great topic! As a CPA I even get lax about handling my own finances. I feel like I’m off to a great start in 2018.

    My question would be emergency savings – a lot of people suggest 6 months living expenses but others day 3 months. What’s a good benchmark.

    Since we own a house we don’t have many MAJOR savings goals, other than great vacations and a new car in the near future.

    Love your wellness features!

    2.9.18 | Reply
  37. Christine wrote:

    Hi! I clicked over to this via your 2020 goals post from today. I’m wondering, where can I find your financial advisor’s answers to the questions? Not able to locate via search function, maybe I’m using the wrong search terms! 🙂

    1.2.20 | Reply
    • Jess wrote:

      Oops I’m so sorry, here is the blog post with the Q&A.

      1.3.20 | Reply

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