4 Major Financial Risks I Took This Year That Were Worth It — & 3 That Weren’t
The thing I thought would save me money, wound up costing me the most in the end…
Although it’s cliche to start this listicle with an opening line about how 2020 has tried it, the following remains true: 2020 tried it. However, the year did give me what I’ve spent a decade in therapy trying to obtain: a “zero f*cks left” mentality.
Once we were a few months into quarantine, my anxiety and urge to prepare like a Doomsday member was replaced with a healthy amount of apathy and zero tolerance for bullsh*t when it came to big things. So I began to take more risks.
Here are the financial risks I would do all over again if I had the chance, and the four I would like to bury with 2020 itself.
The Risks That Were Worth It
Starting My Own Business — $6,000
Within the first six months of 2020, I left a high-paying role at my job to take a 10% pay cut and join an commerce retailer, only to go under a global lockdown and have my pay reduced by 15%. Ultimately I left the company on my 60th day once I realized it was going to be a poor fit, long-term.
When I quit, I didn’t have a plan, really, just a strange fury of hope and rage. In the star-studded movie version of my life, this would be the part where Tessa Thompson (hey, a girl can dream) goes home to her husband played by Domhnall Gleeson, and she tells him she quit and begins to cry, but she doesn’t know if they’re happy tears or sad tears yet. And a montage of her “figuring it out” over the next few months plays with Hoku or BBMak in the background. And during the IRL version of that montage, I created an LLC, started my Office Politics podcast* bought various tech supplies, and invested in online learning tools to figure it out.
I’ll admit I’ve made some poor financial investments, but we’ll get to those later. Despite some hiccups and expensive learning lessons, I feel that the last decade ultimately led me to this point. In a more traditional work setting, I felt more consumed by my imposter syndrome. I felt at-war with power dynamics and office politics, but my hard days feel purposeful as a solo entrepreneur.
*You can check out my episode with Chelsea of TFD here.
Taking a comedy and storytelling class — $500
I know most people fill their bucket lists with things like trips to Europe or adrenaline-junkie activities like skydiving, but I had seemingly smaller goals in mind. And for so long, one of my goals was to take improv classes at my (now closed permanently, RIP) local comedy house, Dallas Comedy House. I wanted to be a performer. In my off-hours anyway.
However, the comedy house required all students to take an 8-week storytelling class before graduating to improv. Over drinks one night in January, I convinced one of my funniest girlfriends to also pay nearly $500, and we enrolled as comedy students the next day. I was scared shitless. I was entertaining visions of an instructor with a handlebar mustache, pointing at me and commanding me to “be funny.” Thankfully, the class was far less intimidating than my imagination made it out to be.
Initially, I told coworkers and friends that I was doing it to improve my public speaking skills. That was a lie; I got an A in Public Speaking 101 my freshman year of college. I even went to school for broadcast journalism. I’m an Aries. If ever there was a person who likes to give an oral presentation, it was me. Truthfully, I wanted to take the class for one specific reason — I really am that ~*retable*~ girl who stands by dogs and talks about true crime at parties. Rather than be the “quirky girl” or the “really nice girl who brought cookies” at social gatherings, I wanted to be the funny girl. And I wondered if $500 was too steep a price for a seemingly vapid desire.
During those two months, I was taught how to construct a good story and engage with an audience. The classes introduced me to different concepts and ideologies in theater. Ultimately, I learned the key to a good story isn’t in the details; it’s in the journey you take a listener (or reader) on. Because of social distancing, I can’t update you on whether I’m the “funny girl” at parties now, but I have seen improvements in my writing and how I handle Zoom calls.
Also, the good news, the comedians have started their sketch comedy group, Comedy for the Internet. It’s brilliant and one of the best things to brighten my days while splitting my time between the bed and the couch.
Purchasing A Prius Cash— $12,000
When my husband and I first started dating, I drove a Honda CR-V, and he was pushing his champagne-colored 1998 Toyota Camry that he had bought for $1,000 when he was 16. Fast forward to 2020, and we were a one-car household, and the Camry was lovingly referred to as a ‘hooptie’ by our friends. It had dents, its fair share of mechanical issues, and was enough of an eyesore that a neighbor called the cops because he thought it was an abandoned automobile and/or owned by “sketchy characters.” Finally, we had the option to cough up the cash for a $1,500 repair or get a new car. Once the car was appraised for $300 (seriously…) it was time to go car shopping.
My husband, Jordan, is not a fan of debt of any kind. This likely stems from his relationship with money, but he wanted to pay for a new car in cash. After several weekends of car shopping, we purchased a 2014 Prius (hat I named Megan Thee Stallion because she’s got a little giddy-up to her!) Not even one week later, the city of Dallas was under a mandated lockdown. Our asses weren’t going anywhere and for a while.
At first, we felt like absolute schmucks, having just paid $12,000 for a ton of parts that were going to be sitting idle in the garage for the foreseeable future. And that’s what happened for a long time. However, as the summer came to a close, we began to make cross-country trips to see our families. We’ve seen our parents more this year than we ever have. And going from Dallas to either Iowa or Florida, respectively, has been very cheap. We can often fill up our tank for under $15 and get oan average 50 miles per gallon. I don’t speak car, but Frugal Frank (my pet name for Jordan) seems to be very happy about that.
Pleasure, Intimacy, & Relationship Coach — (Private Rates)
One of my 2020 resolutions was to get in touch with my femininity and sexuality. I can find myself attractive, but I use humor as a defense mechanism most of the time; I’m the kind of wife who cracks jokes between foreplay to off-set my insecurity of not feeling “sexy enough.” And though my husband had no complaints about this, a part of me felt out of touch with my femininity and all the things I was excited to experience, as a woman. Essentially, I wanted to be the “funny girl” at parties, and the “sexy girl” at home.
I had been following sex and abundance coach Michaela Cowden on Instagram for a couple of years. Her radical self-love and proximity had attracted me to her. Her online wisdom alone helped me embrace parts of myself, like sexuality and inner child wounds that I had been previously suppressing. While her content is free on Instagram, she offers 1:1 coaching and courses. Toward the end of summer, she announced she had a few spots open for her 1:1 coaching, and I took the plunge despite being on a solo entrepreneurship salary (aka, making very little money).
I am still undergoing her coaching, but already the work of healing and acceptance has exceeded my expectations. The work, lessons, and exercises we work on together have helped me redefine my truth, explore and begin to heal broken inner wounds I didn’t know I had and strengthen my marriage to a place we hadn’t been in a long time.
My time with her is a considerable investment, but what I have received in return has paid me tenfold.
The investment in myself and my authentic truth is priceless.
The Risks That Weren’t Worth It
Teachable.com enrollment — $400
Time for the cringe moments. Starting with my Teachable.com membership and instructor fees. Long story short, I heard from business marketing influencers that the best passive income was in online courses and email marketing. So, yup, you guessed it — I poured a lot of money into email marketing courses, subscriptions, and a Teachable.com membership.
It’s not knocking the company at all! I love how creators can develop their institutions and cater to many different demographics and audience members. However, it was a poor investment for me as someone who was still developing her mission, professional brand and goals as a business person.
I hadn’t approached the opportunity with a level of strategy and care due to seeing success. From this experience, I heard a couple of lessons. First, what worked for one person may not work for you. Advice is not one size fits all. Second, when you are strapped for cash if it’s not a “f*ck yes,” it’s a no.
Fancy tech gear in the name of looking “more legit” — $1,000
What is so painful about this lesson: it’s not the first time I’m learning it. I’ve bought a nice camera or opted for a more expensive option, all in the name of feeling and looking legit to other people. For example, I purchased a new Canon camera and editing software right after the new year. I had these splashy plans of taking up photography and uploading more content to my YouTube channel. I still am in awe of my iPhone photos when I put them on portrait mode, and I think I uploaded three videos to YouTube this year, so….not exactly seeing a return on investment.
Downsizing — $$$
You read that right — downsizing to a smaller duplex was not the money-saver we thought it to be. In fact, we reckon that we spent more money in the end.
We went from a 2-bed, 2-bathroom duplex for $2,000 to a 1-bedroom, 1-bathroom duplex for $1600. We had decided on this for a couple of reasons. First, we both felt like a considerable amount of space wasn’t being used as much. We were both going into the office, and I felt like so much of the weekend was spent cleaning it. Next, I had a hunch that I would move on from the employer I was at in 2019 and knew a pay cut could be in our future (it was). $2,000 was the ceiling we felt comfortable paying for a rental, and I worried that should I take a significant pay cut, we would have to sacrifice financial goals and a sense of security. Finally, we lived next to a couple of recent grads who liked to party. Knowing that we wouldn’t share a unit with a frat house was a nice bonus.
We moved into a new abode one month before the global pandemic. Pretty quickly, our 1-bedroom felt incredibly small, and we spent hundreds of dollars on new desk furniture to accommodate our new WFH demands. We’ve had to buy and build more storage hacks like bookshelves and floating shelves to accommodate Jordan’s massive collection of books, and at the end of it, we were ultimately happier with the other duplex.
Though on the bright side, we adore our new neighbors, love that our block is a bit quieter, and take comfort in knowing that we never did have to worry about making our rent this year — something that is quite a privilege, especially in 2020.
Jazmine has been a contributing writer for The Financial Diet since 2015. While her spending habits have changed over the years, her advocacy work surrounding social change and mental health has not. She hopes her writing and activism can empower all women to occupy their space at work — and everywhere else. Outside of TFD, Jaz (as she likes to be called) is a career coach, full-time writer, and a plant + dog mom residing in Dallas, Texas. She spends her “fun money” on trips to Trader Joe’s, throw pillows, and white wine. You can follow her Target shopping adventures here, and learn more about her at JazmineReedClark.com.
Image via Unsplash