Friday, March 24, 2017

Lin, Hamilton, NY!

This makes me so happy! Lin-Manuel Miranda talked to Morgan Stanley about personal finance!!
Not only that, Seth Stewart (from the original Broadway casts of both In The Heights and Hamilton) did an interview for MarketWatch about money, too!!

I love Lin's answer about why this topic is so important. He covers almost everything on what that freedom can mean for almost anyone:

Why is building a financial foundation critical for pursuing your passions?
To educate yourself about personal finance is to empower yourself with the resources and tools needed to help you achieve your goals: whether it be owning your own home, starting a business, making a living off of your passions, providing for a family, having a healthy relationship with money, or paying it forward.

I like that Seth's first answer focuses on balance; he skimps in some areas to splurge in others:

MarketWatch: What are you a cheapskate about? What do you splurge on?
Seth Stewart: I’m a cheapskate on my rent because I’m an actor. I splurge on food and vacations. I am living further out in Queens [New York] so that if I don’t have a job for a year, I’m not stressed about my rent. Every actor’s had a dry season because of what we do. Our work is never guaranteed. I’m saving my money. But I make sure I go out and eat all the time. I love really expensive meals. I feel like that’s what life’s about: Good food and good conversation.
I love that artists are talking about money in this way. Back in my day [she croaks], money was still a fairly taboo topic with those in my little arts community. Some nights after shows, we spent way too much in fancy restaurants (but hey, I got to shake Bernadette Peters' hand once). I never minded working for free in theatre, but I did mind that I paid for that by working 11 pm - 7 am, proofreading at a law firm. We would sigh and curse money, but we never had fruitful conversations on how to manage money.

I also think it negatively impacted my ability to support myself in the field. I was too desperate for jobs to get them. I wanted them for the wrong reasons. Then, my life took some weird turns and I put that dream behind me.

Of course, there's no way of knowing what could've been, but I am hoping my girls will have more friends like Lin and Seth than I did. I'm doing what I can, but the more people talk about this, the better chance they all have of succeeding.

We're very good at talking about hard work, but not so good about talking about how to really make those hard-earned dollars work for us. The concepts are not so complex, but it's still difficult to practice them until they become a natural part of daily life.

Part of that difficulty stems from the discomfort that arises from telling friends "no" to get-togethers or walking into an audition or job interview, feeling desperate instead of confident.

I have found that it gets much easier to say "no" with practice. I remember one time, really agonizing about how to say that I couldn't contribute as much as others were to a particular gift. It was through text and after a few starts, I finally ended up just saying, "that's not in my budget. I can contribute $x." I got a quick reply that that was no problem, no one made me feel guilty or questioned it and it was done. Now, I only really think twice about it if it's something I really want to do and if so, I look for other areas in my budget where I can skimp or sacrifice to make it happen. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't. Just going through the process of looking helps me decide how important it really is to me.

A year ago, I wasn't even thinking of going to New York. Vacations were not a high priority for me. But in June, I got an email from Hamilton, offering me tickets for early 2017. I clicked on the link, thinking this will be for nothing. The tickets will be $900 and I'll close the window, delete the email and move on. Except that when I clicked the link, there were tickets in the mezzanine for $200. Well, that's downright doable, I thought!

I called my friend Nancy. Within minutes, we decided to go for it. We picked a day in March 2017, and we bought 4 tickets to see Hamilton on Broadway!  From that moment on, my vacation budget become a huge priority!

We got back from that trip just a couple of weeks ago, and I'm still smiling! Everything went beautifully, and I even stayed under budget! I wasn't even really trying; we went to a couple of fancy restaurants, but we also ate pizza for $1. When it was too cold or we were running late, we took Lyfts, but we bought a week pass for the subway and got around mostly that way. I bought souvenirs, but didn't buy a couple that I just thought were way too overpriced.  I didn't ever feel like I was sacrificing, but I didn't feel like I was wasting money, either. We thoroughly enjoyed it!

And now I'm back to real life, back to saving money for a car - and a few droplets in the Vacation category, too.

Okay, I have strayed very far from the original intent of this post. Bottom lines:

  1. Encourage financial conversations with friends. Real conversations, not just moaning about money, but "let's brainstorm on how we improve our financial lives now." And bonus: if you and your friends are all committed to saving money, you may find new ways to have fun together that don't involve spending it!
  2. Remain open for new opportunities. Obviously, our trip to NY wasn't what everyone would consider an "opportunity," but it was for me. It was like a dream come true that I didn't even know I was having until it became a reality. And it reminded me that I really love NY and want to go there more often that once a decade!

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