Real Talk with Real Moms: Screen Time & Play

I’ve got exciting news for you today. After a bit of a hiatus in 2018, I’m thrilled to announce our Real Talk with Real Moms series is back! While I don’t talk about my tiny human around here that much – I find we can always talk about parenthood! And as I focus more and more on taking a very intentional approach to life, I feel like there’s no better time to trade as many tips and ideas as we can.

So over the course of 2019 I, along with a bevy of other powerhouse blogger mamas, will be diving back into topics that we suspect plague all you parents out there. Today we’re talking the ever-controversial screen time, but also play ideas.

Real Talk with Real Moms: Screen Time & Play on apartment 34

We actually tackled the technology topic about a year and a half ago. As we approach my kiddo’s fourth birthday (how is that possible???), I’m pleased to report we remain a screen-free household. Call me crazy, but I remain firmly against screen time for young kids. That means we still do zero TV,  no iPad games, no time playing with a phone. And I swear, it’s really not that hard.

Well ok, it’s a little hard. Plane flights aren’t my favorite. We don’t brave extended road trips. I have to do some major parental backflips to keep a pre-schooler engaged while trying to get dinner on the table. Yes, it is a bit harder on me. But I still firmly believe it is so much better for him.

Real Talk with Real Moms: Screen Time & Play on apartment 34

I talked about this previously, but in case you missed it, you should know that studies have proven that technology screws with our brains – but particularly the brains of children. There is article after article after terrifying article about tech’s detrimental effects. I’m sure you’ve read many of them. If not, click on one like this. Even tech executives are severely limiting or straight up eliminating their kids’ screen time.

Of course as my son has aged I’ve allowed the occasional exception to our zero-screen-time rule. A quick animal YouTube video here. Katelyn Ohashi’s perfect 10 floor routine there. Yes, we FaceTime with the grandparents. I’m not a barbarian. And don’t get me wrong. Of course I’m excited for him to experience Mr. Rogers. I can’t wait to have Friday family movie nights. But in due time.

The unintended consequence of limiting my son’s screen time has been the dramatic decrease in my own. Where TV used to be a big part of my world, I now only turn it on to binge the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. I recognize my own phone addiction and am doing more to mitigate it (do you check your usage stats?? They can be scary).

Real Talk with Real Moms: Screen Time & Play on apartment 34

Now onto play ideas. I wish I could say I have some magic tricks in my bag, but I’m not the Martha Stewart of playtime. A lot of construction gets played. Lots of trains. Lots of art time. We just started board games. We turn a lot of home maintenance into “projects” and give him the opportunity to use a drill, a hammer or a KitchenAide mixer. We go outside. A lot.

One thing I’ve found that really helps keep things fresh is cycling toys. Put things away for a while. A month at least and then suddenly bring those toys back out and it’s like a whole new thing again.

Never underestimate how much fun you can have with a ball.

And then there’s “What’s on My Butt.” I can’t take credit for this. I heard about it from the podcast The Longest Shortest Time. This for the end of the day, I’ve got 30 minutes left before bedtime and I’m running on fumes time. You literally lay on your stomach, have your kid grab a household item and place it on your butt and you have to guess what it is. Just make sure they have to put it back! Bonus points if you can play with glass of wine in hand.

If you have any favorite activities for the 3-4 year old set, I’d love love love to hear your favorite ideas. For the rest of the mamas’ takes, click the links below!

The Effortless Chic || Studio DIY || Natalie Borton || The Life Styled || A Daily Something

For the entire Real Talk, Real Moms archive, CLICK HERE. I hope you’re excited as we are it’s back.

images via anna truelsen, maison pomme frite and anna landstedt



The Budget Mom’s Secret: Managing Money Her Own Way

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in June 2019.

Kumiko Love is known online by the moniker The Budget Mom, but money management didn’t always come naturally to her.

Having a finance degree didn’t make her immune to money issues. Not long after graduating college in 2011, Love was staring down a mountain of over $100,000 of debt — a combination of student loans, credit card debt and medical bills. She had poor spending habits and couldn’t stick to a budget.

“I got really depressed over my finances,” says Love, a divorced mom of one. “Here I was a financial professional and I couldn’t even figure out how to manage my own income. And for me, that was not only embarrassing but it was really frustrating. I wanted to excel in my field and I felt like if I couldn’t do it with my own finances, how was I going to help other people?”

A Budgeting Journey Begins

Love’s money management struggles didn’t come from lack of trying. She experimented with a bunch of budgeting methods but continuously found herself giving up on each one.

Love felt disconnected from her money when she recorded transactions electronically with an Excel spreadsheet. Budgeting for an entire month at a time didn’t translate well to getting paid twice a month. Using cash envelopes for everything, including bills, was too much of a headache. Personal finance guru Dave Ramsey wanted her to save just $1,000 for emergencies and then funnel money toward debt, but that didn’t feel like enough of a safety net.

“Every single time, I felt like I was failing because I wasn’t reaching my financial goals the way I thought I should be,” Love says. “In fact, I got so frustrated and stressed out I just gave up.”

For about a year, she didn’t attempt to budget her money. Though she paid her bills on time, she wasn’t saving money or tackling debt.

Love eventually hit an “aha” moment when she learned about the psychology and emotions behind spending and money management while studying to earn her Accredited Financial Counselor designation.

“It really sparked a new positivity in me,” she says.

Instead of viewing her struggles as failures, Love flipped her perspective and started examining the ways she found small successes with each budgeting method she tried. She picked apart each strategy, focusing on which elements worked for her. From there, she was on her way.

Creating a Budgeting System on Her Terms

Love combined key elements of three budgeting methods — calendar budgeting, paycheck budgeting and the cash envelope system — to come up with a custom method she dubbed the budget-by-paycheck method.

She uses a calendar to stay on track of expected expenses and bills throughout the month and creates a budget each time she gets paid. The cash envelopes come in handy for variable expenses — categories like “food,” “fun” and “beauty.” Using cash makes her budget tangible and prevents her from overspending. Love also has envelopes set up as sinking funds to save for future expenses like travel, holidays and her son’s birthday.

Throughout the month, Love tracks her spending and saving, and she closes out her budget at the end of the month to analyze her progress.

As for that mountain of debt?

“I paid off all my debt, which is a huge, huge thing for me,” says Love, who quit her job in 2019 to work full-time on The Budget Mom. “I am now able to save for the things that I want.”

How Becoming ‘The Budget Mom’ Changed Her Life

Love came up with the budget-by-paycheck method in 2015. By 2016, she decided to share her story, blogging as The Budget Mom.

She started The Budget Mom because she felt like she never got the whole picture when she was looking for budgeting help online.

“I was getting thrown examples and step-by-step instructions, but the burning questions that I felt could really help me weren’t being discussed,” Love says. “When someone gave me an example about budgeting, the first question I always had [was], ‘Why?’”

Love not only strives to share the reasons behind her spending and saving strategies, but she’s very transparent about her finances on her blog, in YouTube videos and in Instagram posts.

“I didn’t want to just tell people how to budget,” she says. “I wanted to show them what it really looked like for a real person to use a real budget in their real life. I wanted them to not only see my numbers but be able to explain to them: I’m feeling this way, this is what I’m thinking, and this is why I’m making this financial decision.”

Love says she wants her audience to feel confidence, hope and inspiration when connecting with her platform.

I didn’t want to just tell people how to budget. I wanted to show them what it really looked like for a real person to use a real budget in their real life.

These days, Love’s life is very different from when she was a recently divorced mom trying to raise her little boy alone.

“I was struggling to even figure out how was I going to make my monthly payments to now running a successful 7-figure business, being debt free,” she says.

Love’s son, James, is the inspiration behind what she does. He’s the reason she won’t give up on budgeting again.

“When my son was born, something happened to me,” she says. “I discovered a love that I didn’t know existed … but on top of that I felt a whole bunch of pressure. Here I was, a struggling mom and now I have this itty bitty human that’s completely dependent on me and my decisions.”

James has had a front seat to his mom’s budgeting journey and has naturally picked up important lessons about money along the way — shaping him into a conscious spender.

“We went out to get ice cream and we went to the park and before we left the house he said, ‘Mom, how much money do we have in our fun envelope?’” Love recalls. “He knows that whether or not we go and get ice cream depends on how much is in mom’s fun envelope.”

Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.




How to Find Private Money for Real Estate Investments

private money lendersI have completed a lot of house flips and bought many rental properties. Over the years, I have established many private-money relationships. Some of the people who work with me are amazed at how much money people are willing to lend me! I was able to attract private-money lenders by being trustworthy, being transparent, and putting myself out in the public eye. I don’t have a fancy presentation or a secret list of lenders. I am myself and honest about everything I do. It is not easy to attract private money, especially when just starting out, but it can be a game changer if you are a real estate investor.

What is private money?

The first thing I want to talk about is what private money is. There is a lot of confusion about hard money and private money. The biggest problem is that hard-money lenders started calling themselves private-money lenders in order to get more business.

A hard-money lender is a company that lends money to real estate investors. They usually lend from 8 to 15%, and the terms are less than one year. The loans are meant for house flipping but can be used for rental properties that are refinanced quickly as well. Hard-money lenders usually require an appraisal, have loan fees, underwriting, and a loan approval process. Hard-money loans can be a pain. They have a lot of fees, and the lenders can change their minds at any time with no real repercussions.

Private money comes from a person who lends money to another person. When I borrow private money, it is not from a company that specializes in lending money—it is from someone I know. I have at least 6 people I borrow money from. Some are friends, some are family, some are investors I know, and some are strangers who found me online. Private-money lenders often have no fees, require no underwriting, and most likely do not need an appraisal or valuation.

When I get a private-money loan, I send a text or an email to my lender and ask them if they want to do this loan. With some of the lenders, I give the address and a few basic numbers like the purchase price, the repairs needed, and the ARV (after repaired value). With other lenders, I say, “Hey, you want to do a loan?”

I love private money because it is so easy to use and I know there will not be any issues once my lender says I can do the loan. I have had many problems with many different hard-money lenders.

Do not confuse hard money with private money!

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Avoid private-money scams!

You may want to get into the heart of how to find private-money lenders, but first a word of warning: do not fall for private-money scams! I personally can’t believe people fall for them, but it happens all the time.

How does the scam work?

Someone posts something on social media about having private-money loans from $50,000 to $5,000,000 at a 5% interest rate and no points, no credit needed, and no income verification. It sounds too good to be true, right? Well, that is because it is too good to be true!

The scammer will charge a small fee to get the application process started, and once they have that, you will never hear from them again. Private-money lenders are not looking to loan their money at rock bottom rates to strangers they find online. Don’t fall for it!

How did I find my private lenders?

When I was flipping houses in the beginning, I did not use private money. I worked with my father, and almost all the money we used was from the bank. This was also before the housing crash when it was much easier to get money from banks for flipping houses. We had a large credit line that we could use for whatever property we wanted.

After the housing crash happened, those lines of credit dried up, and we had to find new financing. We found banks who would lend to us, but we had to put 25% down and finance all of the repairs. We could handle that because we had been in the business for a long time and had a lot of working capital.

Over time, I took over the business and was flipping houses on my own. I was still using bank money, but a couple of people approached me about lending me private money. One was an investor who used to be one of our main competitors in the house flipping business. He had stopped flipping houses but was interested in lending me money when I flipped houses.

I was not sure what to make of the offer since the interest rate he wanted was much higher than the bank’s interest rate. He was also offering to finance 100% of the purchase price. That was intriguing to me because it meant I could flip many more houses. I wouldn’t have to come up with nearly as much cash for each deal. I did one deal with him and then another, and then he became my main source of financing.

I have also borrowed money from family members who saw what I was doing and knew that I could give them decent returns that were safer than other high-risk investments.

Another investor saw my YouTube videos and my blog and wanted to become an investor! I am at a point now where there is no way I can use all the money I have available to me. At the same time, the lenders are not dependent on me to make them money, so there is no pressure to use the private money all the time.

loans for house flips

How are my private-money deals set up?

I very rarely partner with anyone. I almost always set up my loans as a pure interest rate deal. The private-money lender gives me money, and I pay them interest and points. Points are like an origination fee and are based on a percentage of the loan. If I pay 2 points on a $100k loan, I pay $2,000. My lenders charge from 1 to 2 points on the loans. Hard-money lenders charge from 1 to 5 points on loans.

Some investors will share the equity with the lenders, or as I like to call it partners if it is an equity share. They will do all the work, find the deal, and sell the property, while the lender will put up all of the money. Often, the two partners will split the profit 50/50. I hate giving up equity, and I also hate paying people based on the profit I make. There can be a lot of doubt and suspicion about the actual profits, the actual costs, and how the money is being handled on those deals. When I borrow money based on the interest rate, there is no confusion, and it gives me a sense of urgency to get things done so it doesn’t cost me as much money!

When I borrow money for a house flip, I will create a Deed of Trust and a Note for the lender. I sign both documents that describe the interest rate, payments, late fees, etc. and record the Deed of Trust and return the note to the lender. If I can’t repay the loan for any reason, the lenders have the property as collateral. It is not an easy process, but they could foreclose on the property and take the house back if they wanted to after I stop making payments or violate any of the terms of the loan.

I also have some deals set up with family where I borrow money all year round, not on a per-deal basis. These loans also have Deeds of Trusts on rental properties I own. The lender has collateral and a way to get their money back if things go south. Their investment is secured by a real asset.

Why do my lenders trust me?

One thing that surprises many people that work with me (I have no idea why) is how many people want to lend me money! The other day, I mentioned on Instagram that I was starting an opportunity fund. I was starting this fund with my own money, and I was not looking for any investor money. I had multiple people ask how they could invest in my fund. I had no idea who these people were!

I have people ask to invest with me all the time, and the reason is they trust me. Why do they trust me? I think it is because I am very open about what I do, I show the numbers on my deals, I show videos of my properties, and they can verify everything I say. I have also done well for myself and have a few nice cars like my Lamborghini.

Over the years, I have created a blog (what you are reading now), a YouTube channel, an Instagram page, a Facebook page, etc. I have not been afraid to talk about what I do and share what I do. This transparency has been a huge reason why people trust me and want to invest with me.

Not only do I talk about my successes, but I talk about my failures as well. I do not make money on every single deal I do. I think being honest and admitting my mistakes also plays a big part in why people trust me. I think it also helps that I have a credit score over 800, and I have never missed a payment in my life.

How can you find private money?

I have talked about how I was able to find private money, but that might not relate well to people who are just starting out or do not have a public presence. How can the average real estate investor find those private lenders?

The first thing I tell everyone is you cannot be afraid to ask! Many people say they are afraid to ask their family for one because they do not want to lose it. Does that mean it is okay to lose a stranger’s money? Do you intend to lose this money? If you are not confident in your investing and 100% sure you will be able to pay back the money you are borrowing, you may not be ready to borrow it. Sure things happen, but if you are looking to borrow private money simply because you are not prepared enough to get bank money, you may need to do more prep work.

Your family is the first place to state, and it should be mutually beneficial. You are providing them with a superior return, and you are making money using their money in the real estate business. You should not be begging for a favor but providing them with an opportunity.

You can do the same thing with friends, co-workers, or any other contact you have. Remember, that it is an opportunity for them to make a high return with an asset-backed investment.

If you know no one with money, which is very rare (most people know people with money, they are just afraid to ask them), you can start searching for people with money.

  • Look up public records to see who is buying houses without loans. Those are investors with cash, and they may want to lend money as well as invest.
  • Immerse yourself in the real estate world and find the investors who have money but don’t have the desire to hustle as hard anymore.
  • Put yourself out in the public eye. Write a blog, post on social media, start a YouTube channel. No one will find you if you don’t make it easy for them!
  • Attend real estate investor clubs. These clubs often have a lot of newbies, but there can be some experiences investors there as well.

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Private money can be a wonderful tool to help your real estate investing business. However, you must be prepared and know what you are doing if you think private investors will give you money. You have to show how their investment is safe, and you must show that you are trustworthy. If you try to BS people into giving you money, it will be a long and hard battle that will not end well.


Idea to Steal: A Mini Gallery Wall

We all know gallery walls are a consistent style winner. They’re certainly instagram gold as this recent post illustrates. But they’re also a touch ubiquitous. Search gallery wall on Pinterest and you get a litany of pics, many of them virtually, if not exactly, the same.

So what if we swapped things up a bit? I’m not saying nix the gallery wall entirely. But what if we went with a mini gallery wall instead?

Idea to Steal: A Mini Gallery Wall on apartment 34

Specifically, I fell in love with the 3-piece gallery when I visited the Nomad Hotel in Los Angeles in the fall. Our entire room was decorated in nothing but little groupings of art, all combined in threes – as shown below. I was obsessed.

Idea to Steal: A Mini Gallery Wall on apartment 34

In my current quest to whittle our homes down to their essence, I’m really feeling the idea of limiting your art wall to just three pieces.

It makes sense that the look feels so good. Three is a magic number when it comes to styling as it offers variation but also balance. When styling a coffee table, bookshelf or console, the golden rule is to group things in threes. So it only makes sense that this rule should apply to our walls too.

Idea to Steal: A Mini Gallery Wall on apartment 34

Technically the vignette above does feature four pieces but I think it would look so much better if you took one away.

Idea to Steal: A Mini Gallery Wall on apartment 34

And while you can group like with like, using similar themes, color palettes or frames, I actually think you should introduce as much eclecticism into a mini art grouping as you can. Play with scale, feature different subject matter, different techniques and a variety of frames. Make a guest want to walk up and look more closely.

Idea to Steal: A Mini Gallery Wall on apartment 34

So rather than scramble to find a million art prints, why not select just a few extra special favorites and give them their time in the sun? You can even swap your art in and out – a quick and easy way to update your space without having to buy something new.

What say you? Are you ready to take down the giant gallery wall and give the mini gallery wall a go instead?

For more Ideas to Steal, CLICK HERE.

images via brady tolbert  / apartment 34sfgirlbybay & sfgirlbybay / avenue lifestyle 



This Advisor Has 6 Pieces of Financial Advice For Women

Molly Ward is a Texas mother, wife and certified financial planner. With nearly three decades of financial planning experience, she focuses her practice on helping women achieve financial independence and live up to their financial potential.

An advisor with Equitable Advisors in Houston, Texas, Ward’s been helping her clients navigate their way through the COVID-19 crisis. She’s got some solid advice for how to lower your financial stress level.

Here are six questions that we’ve gotten from women who read The Penny Hoarder — and Molly Ward’s answers.

1. How Can I Prepare for Life’s Difficulties?

Q: Life has its inevitable derailments and obstacles: We take care of our aging parents; we have health concerns; deaths in the family; experience disabilities and often, women live longer than men. How can we prepare, financially?

A: “I have seen so many brilliant businesswomen and hardworking moms unnecessarily suffer when they experience life’s inevitable difficult seasons,” Ward says. “If a woman is proactive and thoughtfully and thoroughly prepared, she can change the course of her life and her family’s.”

Ward notes that women typically take more time out of careers to take care of loved ones — kids, husbands, aging parents. Also, women tend to live longer than men. Due to longevity and fewer earning years, a woman must:

  • Save more.
  • Acquire insurance on herself and possibly her spouse, and perhaps long-term care insurance on her parents.

Here at The Penny Hoarder, we recommend a life insurance company called Bestow. You could leave your family up to $1 million, and we hear people are paying as little as $16 a month for insurance policies. (But every year you wait, this gets more expensive.)

It takes just minutes to get a free quote and see how much life insurance you can leave your loved ones.

2. How Do I Invest?

Q: My husband recently passed away, and he took care of all the investing. What do I do? 

A: “Start with a realization that investing comes after planning,” Ward says. “Investing without a plan is like driving on a trip without a map.”

She recommends talking to a financial planner. When it comes to investing, Ward stresses long-term planning and logic versus focusing on the hot stock of the day or the political climate. Those will pass.

If you’re new to investing, you can start small. Investing doesn’t require you throwing thousands of dollars at full shares of stocks. In fact, you can get started with as little as $1.*

The Penny Hoarder likes Stash, because it lets you choose from hundreds of stocks and funds to build your own investment portfolio. But it makes it simple by breaking them down into categories based on your personal goals. Want to invest conservatively right now? Totally get it! Want to dip in with moderate or aggressive risk? Do what’s best for you.

If you sign up now (it takes two minutes), Stash will give you $5 after you add $5 to your investment account. Subscription plans start at $1 a month.**

3. Why Do I Feel Out of Control?

Q: Why do I feel out of control with my money? 

A: “Taking control of your finances should be a priority,” Ward says. “You wouldn’t knowingly leave your child’s college decision, or even your next summer vacation to chance. So why would you leave your financial future up in the air?

“Managing your own personal finances and investments requires a completely different emotional muscle, one that is often paralyzed by any number of experiences that can cause you to make easily avoidable mistakes — including the biggest mistake: Doing nothing at all.”

To assess your finances, Ward recommends making a list of all your assets and investments, along with any recurring payments or debts.

Take it from The Penny Hoarder: Credit card debt is the worst! Your credit card company is just getting rich by ripping you off with high interest rates. Take control with a website called AmOne, which will match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off your balances.

The benefit? You’ll be left with one bill to pay each month. And because personal loans have lower interest rates (AmOne rates start at 3.99% APR), you’ll get out of debt that much faster.

It takes two minutes to see if you qualify for up to $50,000 online.

4. How Else Can I Take Control?

Q: What else can I do to take control of my finances? 

A: “Goal-setting may sound trite, but it’s an excellent starting point toward gaining control of your finances and your future,” Ward says. “Discussing and stating your short- or long-term plans for your life help you understand what financial goals you should set.”

“Financial assessment, goal setting and budgeting should become something you do out of habit — like brushing your teeth, giving your dog his flea medicine, scrolling through Instagram. Making these steps part of your monthly routine will bring a sense of control and order to your life.”

Here at The Penny Hoarder, we recommend taking control of your credit score. It’s important because the higher your score, the better deal you’ll get on a mortgage, a car loan, a credit card, or even a deposit on a car rental or an apartment.

Try using a free website called Credit Sesame. Within two minutes, you’ll get access to your credit score, any debt-carrying accounts and a handful of personalized tips to improve your score. You’ll even be able to spot any errors holding you back (one in five reports have one).

5. How Should I Leave an Inheritance?

Q: I’m going to be leaving an inheritance to my children. How do I make sure there is peace amongst them after I die?

A: “When it comes to passing down wealth and last wishes, I’ve witnessed success and sadly, on the other hand, I’ve seen feuds and litigation,” Ward says. “The negative outcomes tend to happen when there is either too much complication or at the other extreme, complete lack of planning. An internet legal document is not sufficient!

“Sometimes there is a ‘problem asset’ — for example, a piece of property that has emotional attachment. Along with poor planning, such as an unclear title or problems with a deed, emotions are high following the death of the guiding force of a parent. Feelings can get hurt, which can create a hotbed of controversy and fighting among the children.

“Thoughtful communication, in which the parent’s important values are discussed is key. Estate planning should be completed and regularly reviewed. Sometimes, hiring a trust company to be named executor or trustee of the estate can help keep the peace. When given to a family member, the executor or trustee role can often be a thankless job that comes with liability and creates unnecessary turmoil in the family.”

6. Why Do My Spouse and I Disagree About Money?

Q: My spouse and I disagree about money. Why? 

A: “It might have something to do with your embedded money scripts,” Ward says. “Your money memories — those embedded in you by parents and or grandparents — highly influence your financial success or struggles.”

“In fact, many experts believe our habits and views surrounding money were formed as children watching our parents and other adults with it. After you learn what yours are, have a peaceful discussion with him/her about money scripts to see where each other are coming from.”

“Also, planning when you are in love and things are going well is a great time to talk about your incomes, assets and debts. Truthful conversations about money at the beginning will serve you well later!”

Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. 




6 Artists I Found on Instagram

As I attempt to call my house done, one key detail has continued to elude. Art! It can feel really challenging to find something you love. There are plenty an art site that offer good place holders, but I’m attempting to move beyond the cheap print everyone already has phase. Enter Instagram. I recently fell down the artist-on-Instagram rabbit hole and WOW. There are so many talented people out there just killing it! I seriously want to buy multiple pieces from all the artists listed below. Their work is beautiful, so if you have some bare walls in your life, definitely look to these folks to serve up some major inspiration.

6 Artists I Found on Instagram

First up is The Poster Club. This isn’t specifically one artist, but it’s a Copenhagen-based online store offering a unique curated selection of high-quality posters and art prints from both upcoming and established artists. I am obsessed with their website and pretty much every piece of art. These are prints rather than originals, but price point is so affordable, there’s really no excuse for not having cool piece in your life. They also ship worldwide, so I’m not sure what we’re all waiting for?

6 Artists I Found on Instagram

I’m convinced Bobby Clark is my long lost Scottish soul sister or something. I would do a gallery wall of her work in every room of my house if it wouldn’t be considered weird. You know all the cool sculptural knock off art you’re seeing in department stores? They’re copying Bobby’s work. She’s the legit OG. And the price to snag a print is honestly not bad at all!

6 Artists I Found on Instagram

When I think of soft colors in a Scandinavian inspired space, Saar Manche’s art immediately comes to mind. I mean, one look at her Instagram feed and I instantly feel calmer. Her work is muted with soft edges and one of her faceless portraits would fit perfectly in my home.

6 Artists I Found on Instagram

Next, we have the works of Amelie Hegardt. She is regarded as a fashion illustrator, but as you can see from her Instagram, her work goes far beyond that. The silhouettes and lines of her pieces fascinate me and I’d love love love to snag an original.

6 Artists I Found on Instagram

It shouldn’t surprise you that another Denmark-based artist made this list. His name is Carsten Nielsen of Bycdesign studio. You can actually buy his work through The Poster Club, but I highly recommend following him on Instagram for daily looks at his pieces. It says on his site he’s inspired by geometry and shapes and combines them with his affinity for color and form. All I know is whatever he’s doing, it is absolutely working.

6 Artists I Found on Instagram

If you’re looking for something a bit more abstract with colorful flair, look no further than Maureen Meyer. With a previous career as a graphic designer, Maureen’s work is mixed media, so she incorporates a lot of paper and excess print materials into her pieces. It’s very multidimensional, which in my opinion is a very welcome breath of fresh air.

You can buy from these artists or not, but there’s no doubt they will, at the very least, spice up your Insta feed. That I can promise!

For more of my favorite Instagram finds, CLICK HERE.



Here’s How 3 Vintage Clothing Businesses Built Their Brands

It’s tempting to think that selling your old clothes on sites like Poshmark or ThredUp will immediately generate passive income that supports your brunch habit and annual rent increase.

But if you want long-term success and a recognizable brand that people return to, running a vintage resale business is anything but easy. It takes work, say small business owners who have done it. But it is possible.

We talked with three vintage clothing business owners about how they got their start, crafted their aesthetic and built their brand.

3 Sellers Making a Go in the Vintage Clothing Business

Sara DiNatale of Lucky 727 Vintage

Sara DiNatale has always loved secondhand clothing, so it makes sense that she spent a lot of time in thrift stores.

At first, she shopped for herself and bought items tailored to her tastes. But over time, she started to recognize what items were popular and trendy, even if she didn’t like them, like a Harley Davidson T-shirt.

“Maybe it wasn’t my aesthetic, but I knew that someone would totally die for this,” said DiNatale, who lives in St. Petersburg, Fla. “I did it enough times that I was like: ‘Why don’t I try this?’”

One of her first sales was a Dooney & Bourke vintage belt that she purchased on a bidding website for herself. When it arrived, she discovered that it didn’t fit. She resold the piece for more than double what she paid.

That was a teaching moment for DiNatale: She realized that there was money to be made in vintage. So she took the profits and invested them back into more vintage purchases that she would then sell.

For those starting out, she says, don’t take money straight out of your pocket. Either sell what you already own or invest what you’ve already earned into something else.

DiNatale partnered with a friend when she decided to officially start a vintage side-hustle. They chose clothing resale app Depop to start because DiNatale felt she knew their market and had a similar style.

A woman wearing vintage coveralls shows off other vintage items she sells on Depop and Etsy. The second photo is vintage shoes.
DiNatale loves secondhand clothing, so she started a side business selling vintage pieces with a friend in January 2020. Her biggest piece of advice: Know what sells. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

If she could do it over, she might not make the same choice. Depop’s audience skews young, she says, and doesn’t always see the value of spending a high price on an item, even if it’s a high-quality vintage piece. On Etsy, DiNatale has found she has a better chance at getting a buyer who understands the quality of the garment, but there is also more work involved with the platform.

DiNatale’s colleague came up with the name Lucky 727 Vintage, a play off of St. Petersburg’s area code. She and her partner chose to make a business name, partially because Depop requires it and partially because they wanted to interact online with customers as a single entity. They also made an Instagram page at Depop’s suggestion, although the Instagram account ended up working out as a separate revenue stream for local customers.

The vintage business is what you make of it, DiNatale said. Since starting in January 2020, Lucky 727 Vintage has sold 200 items, about evenly split between the two co-owners. On average, DiNatale makes about $100 a month in profit, although some months it comes out to much more than that.

DiNatale has learned some tricks:

  • First, make sure your product descriptions have appropriate information, like measurements and garment details. If someone has to message you to ask a question, they may no longer be interested by the time you respond.
  • Keep apprised of any changes to Depop’s interface through a sub-Reddit and watch for algorithm changes that could affect how your merchandise is promoted.
  • Most importantly: Know what sells. DiNatale is an avid Dr. Martens fan, and she knows that vintage Docs go quick and at a high cost. They are the rare item she will shell out for in advance, because she knows she’ll make a return.

Jenna Wu of Nanena Vintage

Jenna Wu didn’t always appreciate her love of thrifting. In fact, as a child, she was ashamed that she had to shop at thrift stores, a necessity in her low-income family.

It wasn’t until she got older that she realized thrifting could be cool. She was inspired by a friend who had an unconventional style but always looked amazing, and almost all of her clothes were thrifted. That turned Wu’s thinking, at the same time she started to look into the dangers of fast fashion and waste.

Now, Wu has come full circle. She runs a full-time business based in Portland, Ore., called Nanena Vintage, a play on her nickname of “Nena.” The perks of running a vintage clothing business are the flexibility — you set your own schedule — and the creativity of presenting and packaging the clothes to make them look as desirable as possible.

When Wu started thrifting for money, she was working in customer service and felt drained by her 9-to-5. Running a thrifting business was an artistic outlet that she actually enjoyed. Her partner encouraged her to pursue it full-time.

Jenna Wu, a vintage clothing entrepreneur, shows off some of her vintage clothing on a rack.
In 2019, Wu’s entire income from vintage was $5,000. It has increased since then, but she’s still unable to live independently off the money she makes from Nanena Vintage. Photo courtesy of Jenna Wu

Wu’s style gravitates toward feminine and classic pieces, but she tries to intersperse styles that are popular and trendy as well. She’s always keeping an eye on what people want to buy, but she’s also focused on the quality of the material and the uniqueness of the design. And there’s one thing she absolutely doesn’t do — streetwear.

When pricing, she takes into consideration how much time it takes to find what she calls a “gem” in a sea of mediocre items. All that time spent goes into the price a reseller will charge for a garment.

Wu started by selling her items on Depop and found success. She was selling at least one item a day. But a year in, she saw her sales drop off. She wasn’t sure why — had the algorithm changed? As sales continued to dwindle, she decided to switch to Instagram.

It was a learning curve at first.

“You just have to keep at it and keep going and then eventually people will find you,” she said.

Wu has a money-saving tip for anyone starting out: Create your own shipping labels rather than going to the post office.

And if you do want to go out on your own and make vintage a full-time business, be prepared for it to take time before becoming financially viable. When Wu first started, in 2019, her entire income from vintage for the year was $5,000. It has increased since then, but she’s still unable to live independently off the money she makes from Nanena Vintage. In December 2020, she made $1,200 in profit.

Lesson learned: If you want to transform your vintage clothing business from your side hustle to a full-time gig, save up in advance.

Esmeralda Castañeda of Esme Vintage Shop

For Esmeralda Castañeda, selling vintage clothes was initially a way to make money while in graduate school.

She learned the tricks of the trade by watching Youtube videos from longtime vintage sellers who had gotten their start on eBay. But she wanted to sell on a more aesthetic-driven forum — that’s why she initially chose Depop.

Like DiNatale, Castañeda recommends starting with selling your own clothes rather than buying clothes to sell. The first six months of her business were a lot of experimentation with where to shoot photos, how to style them and what backgrounds were best. But it’s harder to experiment if you’re depending on a return from your investment.

Castañeda doesn’t take her vintage reselling lightly — she recommends looking into when things were made and what to expect in material and fit based on the decade, because fakes do happen. Understanding the history behind the clothing helps to make your products better.

Castañeda doesn’t really have a defined style for the clothes she sells — instead, she tries to do a little bit of everything. Her website has designations for mod fashion, minimalist, romantic and classic. She says she skews more toward the romantic and minimalist side, but that’s largely because of what she finds in her local Indio, Calif., thrift stores.

“That’s the thing with vintage,” she says. “You really can’t dictate too much unless you are going to be exclusive. You’re not going to find enough to make a really good income. You really need to have a broader reach.”

Although Castañeda got her start on Depop, where she has almost 10,000 followers, she’s actually seen more of what she calls “influence” on Instagram. For those starting out, Castañeda recommends starting on Instagram and building a brand there. If you’re not finding success, Depop is a good way to have a built-in audience, but she finds Instagram better for building something long-term.

All three vintage business owners agree that making money with your vintage clothing business is totally dependent on how much you work. Some months, Castañeda says, she brings in as little as $500, while others can be as high as $3,000.

“A lot of people assume for some reason that this is passive income, but it’s not,” she says. “You do have to do something to get the income going.”

Elizabeth Djinis is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.




Six Independent Home D̩cor Labels For Your Next Shopping Haul РELLE India

Whether you have a penchant for minimalism or like to go all out with baubles and accents, the sky is the limit when it comes to redecorating your space. From edgy, geometrical centre table pieces to decorative trays that don’t spell cliché, trust this edit of homegrown home décor labels to help you bring your aesthetic to life.

1. TerraVida Goa

Love ceramic? Look no further than the Goa-based home décor studio, Terra Vida. A contemporary interpretation of rustic Portuguese elements comes to life in each piece as local artisans set stories in stone. Take your pick from understated teapots, stunning flower vases, decorative trays, crockery and more.

What We Love: TerraVida’s studio is home to 12 skilled, local artisans from around Goa. They together create pieces for your abode, which are hand-made and limited-edition.

2. Cyahi

Finding the right piece to add some character to a plain, solid-coloured wall can seem daunting. You can turn to Cyahi for help. The label has a lot to offer, from floral prints that exude major spring vibes to an abstract take on wall hangings.

What We Love: This home décor brand is entirely sustainable. Also, it tries to work with partners who ensure ethical workplaces.

3. Mason Home

If minimal, gold-gilded furniture is your vibe, then here’s your cue. Mason Home was established back in 1974 and delivers pan India. The best part about the brand? Each creation delivers sophistication at its best which can amp up every nook of your home instantly.

What We Love: The wide variety of product offerings! From bedspreads, planters, candle and cutlery holders, trays and baskets, tableware to bathroom décor, consider this brand as your ultimate destination to spruce up your space.

4. Opaque Studio

As the long-forgotten cane gradually makes a comeback, here’s a label to pick the right fit from. Trust Opaque Studio for colourful, cane cabinets and storage areas to fill up the negative space. Also, expect the right mix of colour play, functionality and practicality.

What We Love: The quintessential amalgamation of traditional, Indian handicrafts with contemporary, modish features.

5. Suite Number Eight

If you harbour an inclination towards crockery that’s equal part useful and makes for a beautiful showpiece, then count on Suite Number Eight. The tableware is unconventional and filled with whimsical patterns which will charm, soothe and delight your soul.

What We Love: Each piece is individually kneaded, shaped, moulded, engraved, gilded and painted by the finest artisans in India, with the highest quality materials.

6. Objectory

Drifting away from conventional décor pieces, Objectory helms pieces that are off-beat and profoundly geometric. The product and furniture design studio based in New Delhi is a paradise in disguise for every abstract art lover.

What We Love: Just four words. The brand’s creative vision!

Photographs: Instagram, Unsplash


11 Steps to Avoid Burnout When Paying off Debt

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more information.

The key to avoiding burnout while paying off debt is to reinvigorate your motivation. Here are 11 ways you can stay motivated and energized to avoid burnout when paying off debt.

1. Work With Purpose

The first step to any journey is identifying the destination. It’s no different in becoming debt free. But debt freedom isn’t the destination. It’s an essential stop along the way, but understanding that there’s life after debt is imperative to making it out of debt and staying there.

What’s your purpose for getting out of debt? Ours is to have career and lifestyle freedom. We want to be able to quit or be let go from our jobs and have savings to hold us over until we find something else or create our own career.

When the struggle is real it’s this purpose that will grab you from your whiney tower and pull you back down to reality.

2. Use Time Management Hacks

Do you feel like you need more hours in the day? Maybe you just need better management of those hours.

There are productivity methods you can use to be more efficient and avoid burnout. I’ve been really interested in the Pomodoro method of breaking tasks into 25-minute chunks with 5-minute breaks. Lots of freelancers swear by it.

Start with the tasks you have, do those more efficiently and see if extra time to rest doesn’t pop up right when you need it.

3. Eliminate Tasks

Maybe with the best productivity hacks, you still can’t fit it all in. Between multiple jobs, family, friends, errands, keeping a semi-clean house, cooking, etc, etc, etc; you can’t do everything.

If your time is worth more working than doing simple tasks then you can afford to delegate rather than work less. You can hire someone to clean your house, have your groceries delivered, or buy the precut veggies.

Prioritize the tasks that get you closer to your goal and eliminate the ones that don’t.

4. Give

Giving time or money can feel like you’re connecting to the world even in your gazelle-intense bubble. We do it by volunteering and giving to our church but there’s no shortage of options for you to sacrifice a little to make a big difference in others lives.

I also think giving of your experience is helpful. It’s cathartic, reminds me what I’ve accomplished and helps others learn how to live through my story. You can do it through Facebook, Instagram, or by starting a blog.

I’m obviously an advocate for sharing stories through a blog. The number of people you can reach is huge. It’s also a way to pad your income and lay a foundation for establishing career freedom. You can read my how-to on starting and monetizing a blog here.

5. Exercise

I use exercise to break up the monotony of my day. When I was working three very inactive jobs exercising was the outlet where I could make the stank face I wanted to make all day and no one would ask me what was wrong.

And I don’t need to remind you of the physical benefits exercising has on improving energy, sleep, and motivation — but clearly I will.

I pay big bucks for Crossfit because the community and direction are invaluable to me. But there are plenty of ways to work out for free or cheap if it’s not as high on your priority list.

6. Celebrate Wins

Every time we pay off a loan we have a little celebration. Sometimes it’s as small as texting a ton of emojis back and forth and sometimes it’s having a meal out.

More than once my disdain for cooking has motivated me to put a little extra on a loan to clear it up and go out for dinner. Having fun times to look forward to keeps us motivated and has ultimately helped us get where we are quicker.

7. Stop Being a Perfectionist

Perfectionism is the enemy of progress. Relinquish the need to have a perfect budget, perfect income, or perfect life circumstances.

Emergencies will come up, weaknesses will win, and income may fluctuate but if you drive yourself crazy over every setback you’ll never win!

Embrace the mistakes and “Murphies” and you’ll have a much better time getting through this thing.

8. Track Progress

In our apartment we had a thermometer we’d color in when whenever we made a payment. It got lost in our recent move (RIP thermometer).

People have come up with really cool ways to visually track their debt progress. You can check them out here where I also have a downloadable thermometer pdf you can print off and color yourself!

9. Share Your Successes

I have a friend living 1200 miles away from me who texts me whenever she pays off a debt or makes a substantially good money decision. It allows me to encourage her by telling her how proud I am of her, how great she’s doing and I send lots of bitmojis.

Travis and I do this too. When we do well with money we lift each other up and encourage each other in our strengths.

Hearing from someone else that you’re doing well isn’t fishing for compliments, it’s reassurance that you’re making it! Find someone you can share with. This is really easy with a spouse but a supportive friend works just as well.

10. Keep Good Company

Having friends that are also paying off debt or are supportive of you doing it is clutch. Saying no to spending money can be isolating. Having friends who want to hang out at home or at parks instead of bars and restaurants make the weekends much easier.

Some people don’t care about their financial future right now. It doesn’t make them bad people or even irresponsible.

I repeat: It doesn’t make them bad people or irresponsible.

But you’re in a different place than they are and you need to keep company that’s on the same page or you’ll keep spending and spending because saying no every week is near impossible.

11. Be Real

Don’t be fakin it. If you’re behind on your debt snowball don’t pretend you’re doing fine.

The more you lie about your progress the more backed up you’ll feel which could lead to giving up. When you’re honest with yourself and the people around you, you’ll stay committed to the process and help more people with your story.

I hope these steps will help you avoid burnout and stay committed to this process, because it is worth every sacrifice and every no that comes out of your mouth. And I’ll be here every step of the way to see you through it.

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Tips to help you payoff a ton of debt without burning out. Tips and tricks from a woman who paid off over $78,000 in under 2 years on average salaries. #debtpayofftips #debtpayoffmotivation #budgetingtips #budgetinghacks #moneytipsformillennials

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Jen Smith is a personal finance expert, founder of Modern Frugality and co-host of the Frugal Friends Podcast. Her work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Lifehacker, Money Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, Business Insider, and more. She’s passionate about helping people gain control of their spending.