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All I Needed was an Inspiration (and a Free Gift to You)

November 30, 2017

I Didn’t See Myself Being a Good Teacher/Coach

I’m what some people might call a Type A, perfectionist, or over-achiever. I have high standards for myself. Growing up and while in school, unlike many other Asian parents, mine didn’t pressure me to receive certain grades or go into a certain profession. I was always the one that was self-driven and put lots of pressure on myself.

Knowing that about myself, I didn’t pursue a career in teaching, despite having contemplated becoming a teacher during my freshmen year in college. Yet, somehow, being in academia attracted me (and the over-achiever in me) and I went on pursuing a doctoral degree. While finishing up my advanced degree, I was a teacher’s assistant for two semesters. I did not enjoy that experience. I lacked the patience. Being a mother has been a trying experience for me every day. I’m very thankful to have an extremely patient partner along my side.

inspiration financial coaching

Several months ago, when my husband suggested to me to consider doing financial coaching with him, specifically to work with couples, I immediately closed the conversation. It was not that I lacked interest. Everything I do and share on this blog stems from my strong desire to inspire, encourage and promote smart and savvy financial skills. I just didn’t see myself being a good coach. I lacked the confidence.

Self-doubts were casting all over my head. To give you an example:

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Money Psychology, On Investing, Women and Financial Literacy

My First Stock Purchases (at the Bottom of the Great Recession)

February 17, 2017

For those of you who are familiar with the stock market, do you remember the time when you first got introduced to it? What were some of your early associations with the stock market? At the time, were you anxious to get into it? Was the market something you swore to avoid?

first stock purchases

My Dad’s Warning Message (to me) on the Stock Market

My first impression of the stock market occurred right at the start of the Great Recession. One day, in November 2008, I was having dinner with my family. The news was on the television. I recall my dad telling my brother and I to never ever “gamble” in the stock market.

Yes, to him, participating in the stock market was a form of gamble, not a form of investment. This was coming from someone who had very limited exposure to the stock market other than what he saw and heard on television. However, not knowing any more of the stock market than my dad did at the time, I took his words to heart. The stock market was something to avoid.  

In the following weeks, the messages and images that kept showing up on mass media (covering the beginning of the Great Recession) just confirmed my dad’s belief of the stock market. Seeing and hearing stories of people jumping off buildings, losing their marriages, going into jail, becoming depressed and/or losing their children’s college savings and/or their own retirement savings—all due to steep drops in the stock market—just “proved” the evil side of “gambling”. Yes, the stock market was evil, I concluded.

The Man I was About to Meet and What He Taught Me About the Stock Market

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Financial Empowerment, Financial Freedom, Financial Journey, Money Psychology, Purchase Decisions, Women and Financial Literacy

My Financial Transformations

January 27, 2017

Financial Independence Mindset

It’s been six months since I learned about financial independence (FI) and this way of life. What does financial freedom look like? How would you structure your life when you no longer have to answer to an employer and/or manager? You can read about this lifestyle in an earlier article I wrote here.

In this article, I’m sharing six financial transformations I have gone through since I became aware of FI. These observations and self-reflections surprised and fascinated me. I used to think I was stuck in a certain way and that was how I was going to be. Nowadays, I believe in the transformative power of adapting a financial independence mindset and the psychological freedom that comes from living life this way.

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Six Financial Transformations

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Financial Empowerment, Financial Independence, Women and Financial Literacy

Putting Women’s Financial Independence at the Forefront of Advocacy and Philanthropic Work

October 11, 2016

women financial independence financial security self-reliant

 

Running this blog is a passion that’s second nature to me. If my resume is an indicator of what I value and what I’m passionate about, it would say that I’ve been a strong proponent of advocacy work. I’m grateful for all the leaders who are volunteering their time, energy and money working tirelessly turning their visions into realities. It’s no surprise then that once I created a Twitter account, I followed @MelindaGates and @LeanInOrg. I enjoy being part of this inspirational and uplifting community. As for myself, even though Ms. Financial Literacy blog is a small platform now, I feel like I’m spreading an important message here while sharing practical and valuable contents.

Recently, @MelindaGates and her supporters have been doing lots of work and running campaigns empowering more women and girls to become technology innovators. I absolutely believe in and support this cause. In the same spirit, in this post I am sharing why I believe empowering and supporting women to be financially independent is good for the world, too. Knowing what I know now about the freedom and sense of fulfillment that comes with being financially independent, I have this vision of my own–that our world would be a much better and sustainable place to live in when (1) we aren’t constantly worried about money and we can take care of ourselves and follow our hearts and passions while making a contribution in the world; (2) we are able to build meaningful relationships with those we truly love and care about and (3) we are thinking about our planet as we align our behaviors with our core values.

 

Recommended reading: Your Money or Your Life and Money, A Love Story

 

#1) Focusing on Personal Growth and Your Contributions in the World

As women across the globe join high ranking/high paying job sectors, we need the tools and skills to help us become financially secure and stay self-reliant. Having a high income is not the whole story to a woman’s financial independence (FI), but supporting a woman to have a FI mindset and live her life according to FI principles and values is a step closer.

The first step in the process is becoming aware of what lies ahead once FI is achieved, which is freedom and self-satisfaction. The process also requires us to reexamine our values and identify what makes us feel fulfilled. If staying in the “rat race” is not a priority, then we need to come up with an exit plan in order to pursue what truly matters to us. That is, view the high ranking/high paying job as a means to FI (having high income certainly helps speed up the process), but always keep in mind the end goal. Once one decides that FI is what’s desired, then there is a need to make conscious choices to live life a certain way and be okay with that (e.g., minimizing spending, minimizing waste, having a long-term view of money invested today). From my own experience, working toward financial independence takes discipline and hard work, however, I believe that all the hard work is absolutely worth it. True individual freedom cannot exist without financial security and freedom from all money woes.

Once FI is achieved, we can begin to lead a life without financial constraints, where we can take care of ourselves financially, be free from owing others and free to do as we choose. With FI, we can finally sleep well at night and take care of our health. And we can finally summon back the life and creative energy that our money worries once sucked away from us and begin putting this energy toward pursuing our passions and building our dreams. From hereon, when we choose to do something, it’s because we want to and not because we feel obligated to do so. And when we do something, all the big and small decisions we make will be in accordance with our values and our own terms. In other words, financial freedom allows us to focus on personal growth. We now have the time to work on improving our health, pursue hobbies and learning of our choice, and do meaningful work. Yes, knowing that we no longer owe anybody anything puts us more in control of our lives, and as a result, we feel empowered and become more confident. This sense of empowerment and confidence is not of the same kind that one would derive from having a high status and/or high paying job.

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Investment, Personal Finance, Women and Financial Literacy

Women Can Participate in the Stock Market with Confidence, Too

October 7, 2016

women participate in the stock market

Polls and surveys consistently showed women tend to worry more about making investment mistakes than our male counterparts do and get bogged down in all the financial jargons and end up completely confused. We’re also more likely to think the stock market is too risky. All this boils down to women’s lack of confidence and lack of knowledge when it comes to investing. In this post, I share a simple strategy that helped me make sense of the stock market. Despite the strategy’s simplified approach, it gave me the motivation and confidence I needed to get into the stock market. I hope you’ll find my story inspiring, and I encourage you to give the stock market a(nother) chance. I also challenge you to rethink some of your misconceptions about men and women. This is especially important when many women believe that men are more knowledgeable when it comes to making investment decisions, more assertive and more risk-tolerant.

When I Shop

For years, I’ve been using the unit price comparison strategy when I shop. This was something my mother taught me when we were still living in China. During my first couple years in the U.S., navigating through the grocery market was overwhelming. However, understanding numbers and being able to do simple arithmetic helped tremendously. I had no problem figuring out how much an item costs per pound, ounce or gram, square foot or meter, etc. As my English vocabulary grew, I found myself comparing unit prices while keeping in mind the ingredients list. It made sense to me that a product has almonds listed as the first ingredient charges a higher price than another product that listed almonds as the third ingredient. Once I mastered this strategy, look-alike products (and of various sizes) on rows and rows of shelves no longer intimidate me.

Women as Shoppers

As a gender, women are being praised for being good shoppers. And for many of us, we know that’s true and we own this identity. We instinctively know that $3 off a $6 sandwich is a great deal. When the math gets a little complicated, we use the trusty calculator on our phones for assistance. The calculator also makes doing price comparisons easy when unit prices aren’t readily displayed. In general, it’s safe to say that we, women, carry an air of confidence with us while shopping for groceries, household items, clothing or services. So, why do so many women feel intimidated when it comes to shopping in the stock market? Buying stocks is just another form of purchase, right?

Making Sense of the Stock Market

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