This post is sponsored by Northwestern Mutual

Cheddar, coins, paper, loot, scratch, dough, moolah or just money. It doesn’t matter what you call it. We all use it, and whether we like to admit it or not, we need it. Money pays for the things we want and lust over, but mostly, it pays for what we need. This is why we all work so hard to get it then work even harder to keep it – and that’s the problem. I have been working for as long as I can remember, from my babysitting, to the grocery store job, to the movie theater, to the beauty supply store to the pharmacy gig (when I thought I wanted to be a pharmacist) and to all the things in between that have led me here – I have been working to make and keep money.

For most of that time, I have not thought about what money represents in my life, and I have not thought about how to make my money work for me and maximize every red cent. So, that’s why I am talking about money now: because so many of us have too few conversations about the pieces of paper that can help make possible so much in our lives. I’m not sure if this is a saying or just common sense, but the truth is: “You don’t know what you don’t know.”

It’s funny how for every other thing I don’t know about – whether it’s my health, my hair, my home – I turn to professionals to help me understand my options and to develop strategies. And quite literally, as I am having all these thoughts about money and trying to figure out what I need to do, I received an email from Northwestern Mutual. There is no way the email could have been timelier. It was just after-tax season, and with both a traditional and a business income, there was so much I needed to figure out. I had spoken to an accountant once before, but I knew I needed more targeted and specific advice on the best path forward. I was now an entrepreneur and I had to think bigger and smarter.

Bloggers have an interesting relationship with money. There is money to be made, but if you aren’t careful, there is also a lot of money that could be spent. The nature of being a blogger/ influencer hinges often on certain experiences and exposure to places and fashion that, if not properly managed, can lead to financial deficits instead of financial gain. Living in an expensive city like NYC doesn’t make it any easier. There’s always some new place to check out, a new show to see, a new restaurant to eat at, new designers opening cute boutiques and so much more. It can be so easy to lose track and to get lost in the excitement and fun of it all. Because blogging often seems unlike any other business, some people forget to treat it as one, and I was not going to do that.

So, spreadsheets in hand, I scheduled my first chat with Northwestern Mutual Financial Advisor Rogel Spencer. I prepped by looking over my receipts and invoices and looking at my spreadsheet – I felt like it was going to be a test, and I needed to pass. I was relieved to find out it wasn’t a test or an exam at all. Rogel was so calming from the very beginning, which set me at ease. I was so scared that there would be all this judgment and I would have to make excuses for not saving more, for not having more sophisticated tools. I thought it would be like a dentist visit, when they check your gums and shake their heads at you for not flossing nearly enough. This was anything but that.

First, there was a warm introduction, and I shared a little about myself, like what I had accomplished financially so far (my assets and debt). I shared my financial goals and challenges. It was like a much-needed money therapy session. Sometimes, it’s not until you start talking that you realize you have all these things you need to get off your chest, that you have financial worries you didn’t want to admit to yourself and all the questions and doubt that come with it. Am I doing enough? Am I doing the right thing? Am I prepared for a worst-case scenario situation?

So, we talked about all of the money-related anxieties, and more importantly, I let myself admit my true financial goals – I was not going to undersell my dreams. I needed to put it out there, so I could work toward making them real.

Dreams/goals shared, financial reality shared and financial habits shared. I had to be honest with myself and with my advisor on how I spend and why I spend – all of it matters. Just when I worried that I would not be able to keep track of it all, I found out about the Northwestern Mutual app. I’m sure you’ve heard about other tools that aim to help you become savvier about your financial health and to track and pull reports of your savings versus expense habits. The Northwestern Mutual app is all those things and some. The online tool not only tracks your income and savings, but it also projects out to see how you’re doing with both short term and long-term goals. This integrated approach means you look at the financial big picture and not just a slice of it.

Much like that dentist trip – you dread it, but you know you should go and you feel so much better when it’s all said and done. I felt lighter after talking with Rogel because I could see it all so clearly. I had better awareness of what I could spend, which means I was less stressed. I knew I now had a personalized budget supported by my identified priorities as well as a short-term and a long-term income strategy. My new strategy was part savings, part investment, part insurance and All Me. By doing the necessary work upfront, I could relax and truly live in the moment. You have no idea how good that feels.

For more information about planning your financial future visit, NorthwesternMutual.com; find your local advisor here to schedule a consultation.

The testimonials presented may not be representative of the experience of other clients and are not a guarantee of future performance or success.


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