The Top 10 LBMT Posts of 2014

Strap Yourselves In folks, It’s about to get funky. I’m time warping through the 125 posts I wrote this year to bring you the top 10 of 2014. I got this little idea from former staff writer Michelle, and thought it was so cute I had to get in on the fun!

The Lifestyle Section

#10 – The New Rules for Wedding Gift Etiquette – You can’t see them now since I switched to a new comments plugin, but I got A LOT of comments on this piece. Seems like everyone has an opinion on what is/isn’t acceptable when it comes to gifting come wedding season. I broke down what I have/haven’t heard and what I PERSONALLY feel is acceptable. Check it out!

#9 – The LBMT 2nd Blog Birthday (or as I like to call it- my “blogversary”) – The infographic showing my blog’s growth since year one makes me happy.  (more…)

The LBMT Fuss Free Holiday Guide

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Ah. The holidays. They’ll creep up on you if you don’t watch out. Last year I had the stomach flu on Thanksgiving, and the actual flu on Christmas Eve and Day, and just generally felt like poo because I’d called off my engagement. Thankfully, I’ve had a bit more emotional bandwidth this year and was able to prepare, so,  I love the holidays and this year I’m back with a vengeance.

But for me, holiday merriment is always a low key affair. I can see how people get swept up in it, but don’t understand why they allow themselves to do so. It’s meant to be a season of togetherness, and I try to bear this in mind with most of what I do. So here’s what I do to keep my holidays frugal and fuss free.

Mail Holiday Cards

Hands down this is my favorite part of the season. I love sending and receiving snail-mail all throughout the year (it’s a lost art, really..) but Christmas is the one time where everyone seems to love it just as much as I do. Every day I come home to either a Christmas package on the front stoop (more on that later), or a lovely holiday card from friends and family in the mail. (more…)

Holiday Giving Spotlight: National Ugly Christmas Sweater day

L Bee Note: In the spirit of the Season, I’d like to focus on giving back. So when Brent from NationalUglyChristmasSweaterDay.org (Say that five times fast, huh?) asked if he could guest post to raise awareness, I lifted my ban on guest posts for just today. I never knew there was a movement behind ugly christmas sweaters..I thought it was just something cute Greeks did at Christmastime, but I’m glad to know they are using the idea to raise awareness. Let’s hope this catches on like the ice bucket challenge. Check back tomorrow for my weekly post and my fuss free holiday guide. Happy Monday!

The holiday season is fast approaching, and with it comes an incredible amount of spending—between presents, decorations, and holiday feasting, you might find your savings starting to take a bit of a hit. Hopefully, you’ve got enough in your money cushion to both cover these expenses and participate in a growing trend among those who happily embrace the bright, cheerful side of the holiday season—National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day. On the second Friday of every December, people across the country leave their stiff work suits in the closet, instead exchanging them for those gaudy knit sweaters that always scream “holiday spirit.” This December 12, you can “Make The World Better With A Sweater” by donating to Save the Children in honor of this day.

ugly sweater

Participating in Ugly Christmas Sweater Day is as easy as pulling Grandma’s decaying sweater out of its dusty corner in your dresser. If you can’t seem to find it, you can always order one. Of course, if you’d love to see the world bedecked in their tackiest Christmas garb, you can organize a larger gathering of your fellow sweater lovers. This can be an office party organized around the day, or you can throw an Ugly Sweater Party at your house. Any ugly-sweater-wearers can chip something into a fund for Save the Children, which has been working for over 80 years to improve the lives of kids the world over. They have achieved some truly impressive results in their mission to provide food, education, and clothing for the most destitute children in the world, and they are working hard to care for children affected by the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa.

Even if there is little room in your personal budget for charity, you can always team up with those in your community to help the people most in need. If you get to wear a gloriously tacky sweater in the mix, well that’s the icing on the cake. Probably that awesome red velvet cake someone always makes at Christmas.

Brent Foreman is an ugly Christmas sweater advocate behind the National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day holiday. When he’s not sporting an ugly Christmas sweater, he’s a marketing communications specialist and enjoys beach volleyball.

5 Things You Don’t Have To Think About When You Rent An Apartment

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When I worked in NYC, we got ridiculous Christmas bonuses at the hedge fund where I was employed. RIDICULOUS. So large, in fact, that we joked about how everyone started shopping to buy new, bigger, apartments in January because of the yearly Christmas cash influx.

My colleague Jen, (who is a now a famous author, mentor and friend) thought the idea of owning a home is ridiculous. I was slowly warming to the idea and she strongly discouraged me against it.

“Lauren, houses have roofs that leak, and heaters that break.” She’d say.

“But renting is so expensive!” I countered.

“Yes, but you pay for the luxury of not having to worry about those things.”

And you know what? It turns out she was right. I don’t regret purchasing my home, but there are little incidentals that will blind side you if you’re used to living in an apartment. After a year of owning a home, here are the things I’ve had to do that I never had to worry about when I was “just renting.” (more…)

Wonderful Wednesday-“Links I Love”

I’m being lazy this week with the holiday and instead of posting something new, throwing up a few of my favorite links. I hope all of you have a safe and love filled Holiday. Matt Hobbs and I are headed to my parents for the feast early tomorrow morning.

I dedicate this post to everyone still at the office today. Get yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy reading these while you pretend to work! :)

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The Real Reason We Need Financial Literacy

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Well…November came and went, didn’t it? In case you weren’t in the know, November is Financial Literacy month. Isn’t that fantastic? A whole month dedicated to taking charge of your finances, coincidentally just in time for the spending sieve known as the holidays. Seriously, soak up all the financial literature you can in November, forget all of it in the rush of the holiday season, and then recall it when January rolls in..ok?

Jokes aside, financial literacy is important, and I’m not just saying that because I write about financial related topics for a living. There is a big misconception that knowing how to manage money is only for folks who make plenty of money. This is not true. Think about it: only a very select few are born wealthy. Most individuals have to work for their money, and this is something that grows and accumulates over time. Sure, you may win the lottery, but there are just as many horror stories about broke and bankrupt lottery winners as there are “get rich quick” schemes. Whether you make 20k or 200k, you have to learn how to manage money at some point, the earlier the better. (more…)

How I Bought a House in my 20’s.

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It never ceases to amaze me how surprised people can be when I tell them that I’m unmarried and I own my home. I was car shopping this past weekend, filling out the requisite paper work and the sales guy was helping me fill out the forms.

“You rent your home, right?”

“No, I own it.”

“Oh.” He said with a look of surprise and checked off the “Own” box on the credit application.

This isn’t the first time this has happened (and since I was shopping with my brother, he was OK to assume that I wasn’t married.)

I’d argue that nowadays (especially with the dearth of millennial related real-estate articles on the internet) many millennials are forgoing home ownership until marriage, because at that point, they probably have a better idea of where they want to live, stability in the workplace, etc. My feelings on that particular point are enough to fill up another post for another day, but since I get the question a lot, I thought I’d finally lay it all out how I managed to buy my own home at 26, while–get this—making less than $40k a year.

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Financially Preparing for the End of the Year

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I know, I know. It is after all, only November, but with the holidays fast approaching I’m getting the jump start on my financially planning for 2015. I know everyone approaches their planning differently (I track my financial progress on a quarterly and yearly basis), so today I wanted to share a few of the tasks I am doing to starting thinking about where I want to be (financially) next year.

Tweaking My Budget

Every month I go into my Learnvest Money Center and see how much I spent that month on each of my categories. Then I put those amounts in a spreadsheet so I can track how much I spent on a certain thing, such as travel or groceries, over the course of the entire year. (more…)

How One Moment Can Change Your Career Forever

For many in life, one moment can change everything. Your entire outlook. Your entire life, even. None more so than when it comes to your career. For me, that was moving to New York and landing a job on Wall Street. For many others it could be a new job, a move, a child, a personal victory – anything that can inspire us to something great.

There are hundreds of incredible women who have allowed a single moment to inspire them to be something special. To me, they are incredible women who encourage me to always strive to be better, and to continue to achieve.
And they can inspire you too. Let’s take a look at four amazing women and their journeys to the top…

Katherine Darndstadt – Architecture & Design

Katherine Darndstadt

 

As a young and newly licensed architect, Katherine Darndstadt was laid off. That was the moment of truth for her: did she want to practice architecture or not? She chose the former and has since become an inspiration to many young architects.
Setting up Latent Design, she built a project that brought together a series of individuals with projects focusing on social, economic, and environmental impacts rather than simply building design. In just four short years she’s become recognized as a leader in the profession and last year won the American Institute of Architects Young Architects Honor Award.

Vanessa Rousso – Poker

Vanessa Russo

Think poker and you may think about men sitting around a table, beer in hand, and quite possibly a mouth full of wings. I know I did. That was until I came across PokerStars Pro Vanessa Rousso. The 30-year-old French-American beauty has made around $3.5 million at the poker tables, shooting to fame in 2006 when she made the final table at a World Poker Tour Championship event in which she bested some of the world’s top pros, picking up $250k. Not surprising for a girl who studied game theory at Duke University.
While that was Rousso’s breakthrough performance, she has gone on to become one of poker’s most respected and well-recognized players, proving that poker is no longer just a man’s world.

Rita Goldberg – Swimming Schools

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Although, big moments in sports might not necessarily come from victories, but instead by simply having the passion.
Rita Goldberg earned $2.2 million in sales last year from her British Swim School business, but it was only when the swimming enthusiast was accompanying her friend’s child at a swimming class that she realized that was what she wanted to do with the rest of her life.
Now in the business for over 30 years, Goldberg has hundreds of pupils and is fulfilling her passions well into her 60s, proving to me it’s never too late to do something you truly love.

Renée Maloney and Cathy Deano – Art Classes

Art Classes
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina ripped through New Orleans and the state of Louisiana. It left communities in a state of devastation that many are still coming to terms with it to this day.
I can’t help but look at the story of Renee Maloney and Cathy Deano and feel a strong sense of admiration, not just for their entrepreneurial spirit, but also the community spirit they helped to rebuild through Painting With A Twist.

Pairing art with friends, wine, and a lively instructor, they helped the people of Mandeville forget about the troubles of Katrina and brought back a fun and enthusiastic atmosphere to the city. Now franchised out across the country, the pair are earning over $1 million per year and growing. What an amazing story for a business that made the most out of tragedy.

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