It’s Free Money, Grab It

It's Free Money, Grab It | Sedruola Maruska

It’s free money and it took me a year to decide to grab it!

Have you ever contributed to a fundraiser when they’ve said your donation will be matched? That means, if you donate twenty dollars, someone else will donate twenty dollars on your behalf making your complete donation forty dollars. Those are the best times to donate because your money grows.

That’s why I don’t understand why of the 50% of us that have access to a 401K plan only 30% of us are using them. Why? But then I look at myself and I’ve had access to a 401K for over a year and I just joined. It took me a year to do something that is a no-brainer.

Reason’s Joining a 401K is a no-brainer

Why do I say its a no-brainer? Let’s consider these:

  • It’s free money! Your employer has said “I’ll help you with your retirement investment, but you have to do your part. Whatever you contribute up to ___% I will match. Your employer wants to give you extra money because you’re making an effort.
  • It’s easy money! You don’t have to think about your 401K contributions and when to sent them. All you need to do is start the process, pick your investments and live your life. It’s all done automatically with input from you once a year.
  • It’s smart! Having a 401K that grows in the background is a smart way to invest in your future automatically. In his book The Automatic Millionaire David Bach talks about how you have to pay yourself first automatically before you pay anyone else. It’s not about having tons of money, it’s about investing it automatically & regularly.
  • Tax Breaks! Investing in a 401K is a way to alleviate your tax burden because the money you invest is tax free. You’re only taxed when you take the money out, and that may mean you’re taxed at a lower rate later when you’re in a lower tax bracket.
    Right now, according to AnnuityDigest, 80% of these tax breaks goes to the top 20% of the population. . . let that sink in. . . a tax break that many can get, but only 7% goes to the bottom 60% of the population. The rich get richer because they continue to invest in themselves and get tax break associated with their investments. . . we can too!

It's Free Money, Grab It | Sedruola Maruska

Reasons we don’t join

With all this free money sitting around, why aren’t 100% of the people eligible for 401K programs, not taking advantage of the free money?

I can’t speak for everyone, but I can speak for myself:

  • It seems like a hassle. As silly as it sounds it seems like a hassle to have to think of one more thing to get done in your day, week or life.
  • Thinking about retirement is scary. We all like to think that we’re going to be young forever. Why do we need to think about retirement when we’ll live forever? As irrational as it seems, we all think it. We believe if we don’t think about it, we won’t get old. Think again.
  • I can’t afford it. Using the word “investing” always elicits a feeling of “oh my gosh, I don’t think I can afford to invest.” We think we don’t have the money to invest now, maybe next month, next week or next year. Right now we have too many bills to catch up on, we can’t send any to an investment.

There are other reason that aren’t mine but that I’ve heard or seen such as:

  • I’d rather give my money away
  • I’m making tons of money, I don’t need to worry about that
  • We’re rich, I don’t need to worry about that
  • I’m self-employed I don’t have access
  • I don’t want to lose money

There are counter arguments for all these scenarios which boil down to, “you can’t afford not to invest in your future while you can.”

Why I invested in my 401K

So I come to the place where I invested in my 401K this week because:

I’m young, but I’m also almost 50! I have two young kids and the free money is on the table but I’m letting it sit there. It’s not very smart or kind not to have some sort of safety net so your kids won’t have to support you in retirement.

The amount I would be investing I’d never see. I calculated that if I invested up to the amount my company will match (I wouldn’t go above that except to use another vehicle) it would amount to such a minimal amount we wouldn’t even feel it’s affects. Do you want to know how little it would be? Let’s take an example: You’re making $62K a year, your investment percentage is 5%, which is the maximum your company will match. That means you’re investing $3,100 a year ($6,200 with your company match). It breaks down to $258 a month. There are ways to adjust so the $258 won’t be missed.

If that seems like more than you can handle, here’s another way to do it. Start as soon as you can with 1% then allow your investments to grow by 1% a year. What happens then is any raises you get will offset the investment amount and you’ll never feel the pinch.

We have a lot of things we’d like to do now and later in life. If we want to live our preferred lifestyle, we’ll need to have enough squirreled away to draw from. I’m not getting any younger (although I still feel 35) and I don’t want to look back with regrets.

It took me ten minutes to start the process of investing in my 401K plan. No hassle at all!

What to consider / Action Steps

It’s time! It’s time for you to get a handle on your financial situation and think about how the decisions you make now will affect your future. The future is formed in this moment.

  1. Find out about your companies 401K plan
  2. Start your investment right away
  3. Invest up to the amount your company will match (invest in other things with extra money)
  4. Be aware of the time it takes to be fully vested. That means, for the first year, if you are no longer working a the company, only the amount you put in will go to you, but if you stay for 5 years, both your investment and the companies investment will go with you if you leave.
  5. If you change jobs you can: 1) Rollover your current investment to your new company; 2) Rollover your investment to a private IRA account; 3) Liquidate your funds but get a hefty tax penalty.

It’s free money, start investing then do more research if you’d like. If you research you can find all kinds of reasons why you should or shouldn’t invest in your 401K. Decide what’s best for you, but in the meantime, start your investments then educate yourself. If you find it’s not for you, roll it over to an IRA and keep moving.

In the end it’s your money and it’s about getting into the habit of paying yourself first automatically. Start paying yourself on a regular basis. It’s important for you and your children.



Christian Doctor? Thanks, I’ll Pass

Christian Doctor? Thanks, I'll Pass | Sedruola Maruska

There was a time when I thought having a Christian doctor was beneficial. Growing up Christian I felt they were more likely to be kinder, gentler, more compassionate, understanding and in the favor of God. I’ve grown up.

I went to a small private Christian university in Michigan. Let me back up. I went to a small private Christian high school. I had many friends and no boyfriend. That transitioned to going to a small Christian university where I had many friends and no boyfriend.

Unlike some “Christian” girls I’ve read about who’ve made pacts to stay virgin, yet do everything else, I made no pact. By the time I graduated from college the most I’d done was kiss a boy. To be completely frank, I didn’t so much as get fondled. So, I was truly a virgin by the time I graduated college.

The Rash

In my sophomore year of college I developed a rash on my torso. I developed an itchy, burning, painful rash that makes you question your ability to stay sane through the discomfort. After a few days of dealing with the rash, I noticed it was spreading, I went to the campus doctor to find out what it was and what I could do.

“Well, have you been in cheap motels?”
“No.”
“It looks like scabies, are you sure you haven’t been in a cheap motel.”
“Yes.”
“I’ll prescribe some ‘kwell lotion’, but you should be more careful where you go.”

Remember when I told you I was a virgin? Well, I also would never stay in hotels because it wasn’t my norm. I had no money and in college you have friends to bunk with for vacations and weekends away. No hotels needed.

The implication was rude and a bit over my head. I didn’t understand why the assumption would be that I was in a cheap motel. . . until I looked up “Scabies”. My doctor was essentially implying that I was going to cheap motels to have sex and that I picked up this parasite in said motel. YUK!

Christian Doctor? Thanks, I'll Pass | Sedruola Maruska

No Help

The “kwell lotion” used to treat scabies & head lice made things worst. The rash exploded and became even more itchy. When I went back to report the results, the good “Christian” doctor dismissed me. You see, I must have been some kind of harlot getting what I deserved.

Let me pause here to say this, I was also a black female at a predominantly white Christian university. I was expected to be promiscuous . . . racially speaking (but that’s another post).

Fast forward to today and Christian doctors, the ones I thought would be filled with love, compassion and have a direct line to God, are refusing service to patients. They feel morally challenged if their patients are gay, in need of an abortion or they’re transgender. These so-called Christian doctors are taking people’s lives into their hands and playing judge and jury, when what they’re supposed to be are healers.

In Texas, Senate Bill 25 legally allows doctors to lie to their patients based on their “moral” convictions making it harder for parents to make an educated and vital decision about theirs and their baby’s future.

This gives me pause. I look at it and I understand what happened way back then in college, and at times along the way. My eyes are open to the piety.

I’m more likely to trust a doctor who isn’t “Christian” rather than one who is. The one who believes himself to be morally “better” may cause me harm for the “good” of . . . ?  I’d rather trust a doctor who sticks to science, facts and integrity to treat me and mine.

Oh, remember that rash? Turns out it was a physical manifestation of the stress I was under that year. One of my best friends lost her sister that year. We were roommates, I was the closest person to her, so I bore the brunt of her pain. I understood her challenge, I bore her pain, which in turn manifested in a rash.

How do I know? Because as I went to counseling to deal with the pain and hurt I was feeling the symptoms subsided. To this day, when I’m in a situation where I feel unable to vent my feelings, the rash reminds me to release my angst.

The guilt and shame I was made to feel because of my “lacking morality” distracted the doctor from finding out the root cause of my discomfort. Instead of judging me, he should have taken me as a young patient, in school struggling with a very painful situation. He never took the time to talk to me. He didn’t care to distract himself with my case.  I was left to fend for myself and figure it out.

My sophomore year in college was the year I realized  “Christian” doctors did not extend the love and grace of God, they sat in moral judgement of those they treated. I don’t look for Christian doctors. I look for compassionate doctors. I look for doctors who’ll treat me as a human rather than a “woman” or even a “black woman” and give me the respect, compassion and understanding due all humans. To me, that’s not found in a “Christian” doctor, but in a compassionate human.

Let me be clear, I do not believe all Christian doctors are pious, I do, however, believe that they are more likely to treat me from a place of moral piety. When I meet a doctor, if he comes off as “too Godly” I move on, I have no time for that kind of judgement upon my life.


Beach Body Madness, Do you have it?

Beach Body Madness | Sedruola Maruska

This post was moved from my other blog to this one because it’s more appropriate here. Beach Body Madness is something we all go through.

It may mean something different to you, but it represents the same thing: feeling that we’re not good enough for the things we want because of someone else’s idea of what that should be.

Where beach body madness begins:

Me: I’m gonna get into a bikini next year
Hubby: Okay
Me: I need to lose this belly first
Hubby: Okay
Me: Ugh, that means I need to workout hard, I hate working out.
Hubby: Okay

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had this conversation with my husband. I’m going on and on about how I need to whip my body into shape so I can fit into my desired bathing suit and he’s going along for the ride.

He knows better than to jump in with commentary because there is never a right thing to say. He’s a smart guy.

My hubby thinks I’m beautiful. He told me so. He’s not worried about my baby pouch, he had a part in putting it there.

He wants me to be happy and comfortable in whatever I put on so he’s going along for the ride.

I’m pretty sure he also thinks I’m a maniac . . . he hasn’t told me that, I’m guessing (smart guy).

But the other day I was getting dressed for work and I stood in front of my full length mirror, again, thinking how I wanted to get into a bikini and what needed to happen first.

Then I stopped.

Really? Something needs to happen before I can be happy to wear what I want to wear? Why?

Why do I think anything needs to happen before I do something that is clearly going to make me happy?

I’m a beautiful, strong & intelligent woman and yet, someone else’s idea of what my body ‘should’ look like in a bikini is holding me back from putting one on.

It’s beach body madness!

Beach Body Madness, Do you have it? | Sedruola Maruska

 

If you have a body, and you’re on the beach, wearing what makes you happy. . . hot dog, you have a beach body!

Sometimes I feel resentment toward those who constantly lament their bodies, and yet, here I am, in the comfort of my walk-in closet, my safe place, lamenting the few inches on my belly that mean absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of life.

And yet, how many times have we not “worn the bikini”, whatever that means to you, because of a story we’re constantly telling ourselves?

Did you miss the party because your makeup wasn’t “just right”? Did you opt out of date night, again, because you were too afraid to spend time alone with your love because that would lead to nakedness? Did you leave that awesome dress at the store because it wasn’t “made for your body?”

Ugh, I’m tired of not walking my path, but sidestepping it to please someone else.

I’m not there yet, but I’m on a journey to wearing that bikini this summer. No, I’m not working out like a fiend or starving myself. I’m shopping for a bikini that I will love and that will love me back!

I’m looking at my body in the mirror every day and saying “look how beautiful you are!” Because I can’t expect it to come from anyone else but me. My husband loves me, but if he told me every day that he thought I was beautiful, I’d have him committed, or I’d commit myself since it would drive me nuts!

Bottom line is, I need to love myself enough to accept or gently change what doesn’t make me happy. But . . . BIG BUT . . . that doesn’t mean I’m mean to myself and chastising myself at every turn hoping for change or to suddenly fall in love.

Perspective

I’ve got a designer body! I’ve had two babies. One at 38, the other at 42. I’m pushing 50, and I look HOT!

I can and will always take care of myself so I can be here for my babies and grandbabies, but I’m not going to beat myself into submission because someone else says I need to look a certain way to have what I want.

I’m going to love myself enough to love my body and be proud that I’ve had the privilege of having babies. That I have a baby pouch that was created in love.

I’m going to love my body, and not judge myself so harshly that I can’t wear what makes me happy.

Beach body madness be damned! I’m getting and wearing that bikini this summer. . . We all have many “bikini” issues, this just happens to be one of my many. Thankfully, that mirror was kind and I was ready to listen.

Beach Body Madness, Do you have it? | Sedruola Maruska
Me in my new bikini Feb ’17

Please ponder the thought: What’s your “Bikini” issue? How will you work to move through it? What lesson do you think it will teach you?

Beach Bodies are figments of our imagination . . . let’s start living in the worlds we actually inhabit.

UPDATE: I bought and wore my new bikini when we went on vacation this past February. . . I LOVE it and it felt so incredibly great!


War on Your Intellect

War on Your Intellect | Sedruola Maruska

The war on your intellect is getting crazy!

You know what I’m talking about. The feeling of guilt you get when you talk about a topic intelligently and someone looks at you as if you’re speaking Greek.

The war that’s being waged on those who think by those who simply react. That intellect war.

Don’t cower! Never relent! Being smart and thinking with your analytical brain as well as your creative brain is important. You have knowledge for a reason. Don’t let anyone take that away from you because they’re not willing to get to where you are.

Pretending that you’re less smart than you actually are doesn’t do anyone any favors. We need thinking people around. We need creative people around. We need your intellect around.

I actually think I can do a better job verbally so here’s a video from the Left Thinking channel to help you grasp what I’m saying.

Be bold, be strong and be proud!

 


 

Old White Men in Wheelchairs Scare Me

Old White Men in Wheelchairs Scare Me | Sedruola Maruska

I’ve never told anyone that old white men in wheelchairs scare me . . . until now.

We moved back to New York City, after living in Salt Lake City for two years, when I was ten going on eleven. It was culturally shocking. . . but that’s another post.

I was in the sixth grade and everything was new. Instead of riding a school bus I rode the city bus. I needed a bus pass and I walked to and from the bus stop every day on my own. I was a big girl.

We lived with my grandfather while we were looking for our own home, so everyday on my walk I passed this beautiful house with a lovely manicured yard. I used to imagine what it would look like on the inside or what the people were like.

This was the first time I was living in a neighborhood with houses so I was really in awe. Some days I would see people around, but most days I would walk the quiet streets home and meet my grandfather waiting at home.

It wasn’t long before I started seeing an old white man in a wheelchair passing by in the streets. At first he rode by silently. Then he began to say hello. We’d moved from a predominantly white city so white men in wheelchairs were just like every other white man I’d ever met. It never crossed my mind that this man’s presence was odd or that I needed to be concerned.

One day on my walk home this man rolled up to me:

Man: Can you help me with something?
Me: Yes.
Man: I need to get to the door of that house (pointing to my dream house) but I can’t reach the doorbell, can you help me?
Me: Sure (excited to finally meet the people who lived in that beautiful house)

We went over to the house where I started to go to the front door

Man: No, we need to go to the back door, it’s easier for me

So we moved to the back door (which was really a side door) and I rang the doorbell. I stood waiting for an answer with this man right behind me.

Man: Wow, you have a lot of dirt on the back of your skirt (as he proceeds to wipe it off)
Me: Really? (trying to look back)
Man: Ring again I don’t think they heard

I turn to ring again. A hand goes on my skirt again, but this time to lift it

Man: How did you get this dirt on you, it’s on your panties too
Me: I don’t have any dirt on me
Man: Yes, you do (preparing to pull down my panties)
Me: No I don’t! I don’t think anyone’s home (moving to go)
Man: Oh, I’m sorry, I guess they aren’t here, thank you

As I walked quickly back to the sidewalk he followed. When I got to the sidewalk and began walking home, my grandfather came out of the house looking for me. I was a few minutes late and he wanted to make sure I was okay. He saw me with this man on my heels.

Grandpa: Hello Sedie, are you okay (looking at the man behind me)
Me: Yes, I’m fine
Grandpa: Who is that man, are you okay?
Me: He needed help, I’m fine

That was the last time I saw that pedophile. That was the last time I ever spoke about that pedophile. That wasn’t the last time an old white man in a wheelchair made me nervous.

From a very young age I learned to take responsibility for my actions. Doing that meant I took responsibility for what happened. I could have walked away and ignored the old white man in the wheelchair. . . As a good and respectful girl, that wasn’t an option.

Good and respectful girls don’t walk away when someone who is clearly your elder and needs your help asks you to help. You help.

I’m realizing how we as women are programmed to do the right thing and “boys will be boys”. Because of that many women repress feelings. We walk around with wounds and scars thinking we deserve them instead of seeing that they were inflicted without our consent. I wasn’t responsible for that pedophile’s actions, and yet I felt responsible.

Never seeing that man again doesn’t change the fact that for a long time I had a reaction to any old white man in a wheelchair that came in my vicinity, never a young man, never a man of any other race.

So when people take lightly assaults that happen and are brought to light I cringe. If what happened to me took years to reconcile, and I never uttered a word of it, how much bravery does it take to come forth after a sexual assault, harassment or rape happens? How devastating must it be to get shrugged off or to watch your assailant get a lenient sentence, no sentence at all or a pat on the back because “boys will be boys”?

We need to give our girls permission to be strong warrior women. We need to let them be loud, rambunctious, unruly and obnoxious just as we allow our boys. Using the phrase “boys will be boys” while restraining our girls does them a disservice. Girls need be assertive in their purpose.

Listening when they speak and acting on what they say gives them the power they need to be strong. Not shrugging them off as “too emotional” or “girls”. Don’t overfeed the caretaker within ignoring the warrior. Let’s appropriately feed both the caretaker and the warrior. They are not mutually exclusive. They co-exist within her, society kills the warrior.

“Let girls be girls” should be said often and mean the same as it does for boys. Let girls own their bodies so they can choose to experience pleasure and report pain. Don’t push them into uncomfortable situations so they look “polite”, respect their feelings. Believe them when they say they’ve been hurt, don’t shrug off tears. Stop fearing the power within but allow that power to grow.

Throw out the double standard used in raising girls and empower them to know their feelings are valid. A woman’s natural instincts will always come into play but to be whole she needs to listen to the inner voice that says “yes” and the one that says “no”. We need to understand that those instincts are for her protection and should always be honored.

In my marriage, what makes me powerful is what makes my husband powerful. Mutual love, respect and the belief that the other is capable.

We need to let our girls know, too, that we love, respect and believe in their capabilities instead of molding them to play out parts imposed by society. Only then will there be true strength in society. Only then will the scales be balanced when it comes to our views about assault. Only then will we freely voice our opinions, show our feelings and build something remarkable together.

I’ve grown since I was ten. I’ve allowed myself the opportunity to be who I am and so have those who truly love me. Old white men in wheelchairs no longer scare me. . .