Money and Millennials

I have two motivations for this post, and I’ll be fully upfront about them both:

1.       I want Millennials to understand their footprint when it comes to money.

2.       I want you to learn about EDGE.

Sometimes we Millennials forget our influence—to vote, to work, to serve, and to give. Money and Millennials. Believe it or not, those two carry quite influence.

By 2018, Millennials will have more spending power than any generation—surpassing the Baby Boomer generation.

In 2015, the expected spend of Millennials was $2.5 trillion.

Wow.

This group of young people carries influence with the money they spend every single day. If there was ever a time to be shaping our financial plans and goals, now is the time. We must see that the $2.5 trillion spent in 2015 determines more than just Apple’s marketing strategy for the future—this money determines the influence made upon communities of people. Churches. Organizations. Missions that have a vision for the future with success that hinges on Millennials.

Don’t each of us want to leave a legacy? 

I had the opportunity to give this talk last year on “Leaving a Legacy” which includes some of the information shared in this post:

https://vimeo.com/truthatwork/review/146639806/2a7fce6dd3

 A few practical applications based on this information for Millennials:

1.       Do we have a functioning budget that identifies areas of excess?

Budgets only work if we visit them on a regular basis—for some this is weekly or monthly. Several friends are huge fans of Mint, an app that allows you to set financial goals and track them according to your plugged in bank accounts, credit card(s), etc.

Let’s not make light of things like a “shopping problem”, eating out way too often, or splurges that throw off our entire month. The online shopping world makes this a terrible temptation, huh? Remember that building our legacies will not include the times that we stayed in a rut and continued overspending on something so minute.

2.       Do we have financial goals?

Set some financial goals for yourself and share them with the people that need to know. Paying off student loans by a specific month and year, doubling your annual giving to a specific organization, and purchasing a home by a certain time frame with 20% down are all great examples. Be specific when it comes to your timing; for me, this is the fire I need to stay on track and not deviate from the plan.

3.       Do we have a partner to achieve these goals?

I remember setting up an appointment with a financial planner after college graduation and accepting my first job. I felt utterly silly. What did I have in my name? A bachelors degree and a few cows. Seriously. But I am so glad that I made that contact and have built financial plans with this person. We all need a partner who is an expert in this space and is someone we can trust. Have someone on your team that is thinking for you in this area, deciphering all of the complicated financial lingo, and keeping you on track to achieve your goals.

4.       How do we think about leaving a legacy?

It is so tempting to avoid giving generously as a Millennial. We have college loans, vehicles to pay for, young families to support all while being in the early stages of our careers.

But think about our money’s impact both positive and negative. The more we grasp on to it tighter and tighter for self-interest, the more it takes over and consumes us. We may become excellent at budgeting and saving but have our identities wrapped up in $$$. On the other hand, becoming an excellent steward while giving generously becomes a healthy cycle and starts us on our path to leaving a legacy.

These words don’t come from someone who is acting as if she has this figured out, nailed down, and living out well. I’ve been fortunate enough to surround myself with excellent examples of stewards who give generously in their communities. These are their words of wisdom and the proof is in the pudding with those folks—years of consistency and years of leaving a legacy.

On to motivation number two:

I had the great opportunity last fall to participate in EDGEx (video shared earlier) at America’s Best Hope, and this was only possible because of an organization called EDGE. If we’ve spent more than ten minutes in conversation around personal and professional development, we’ve likely discussed EDGE, an organization I’ve been blessed to be a part of for almost four years.

EDGE mentoring is a faith-based organization focused on mentoring millennials by partnering emerging leaders who are hungry to grow with seasoned mentors who want to invest in the next generation.

If you are a young professional, man or woman, seeking mentorship that reflects this focus above, check out EDGE:

http://www.edgementoring.org/

Rain-X for the Ears

In Kentucky, we’ve had quite a bit of rainfall the past three weeks. For folks in agriculture, it has been a long three weeks of wanting to get back into the fields during a time of year meant for planting the crops and working hard.

This has been the common view out of my front windshield.

My husband, a safety specialist, insists on frequent application of his beloved Rain-X. I’m not opposed to the product—it’s just not my priority on Monday morning out the door.

The basics of Rain-X: you apply a coating to your windshield so when rain, sleet, or snow comes a falling, it acts as a barrier between your glass and those rain drops slide right off leaving your view more clear thus making the drive safer. Results show visibility improves by a full second or more—Safety Hubby loves this one.

Coating. Rain drops just glide right off. Safer, clear vision.

Here’s where we’re going.

Anyone on social media these days?

There are lots and lots of articles titled something like this:

What NOT to say to ________________________ (specific group of people)

An example of this would be this hilarious, yet so good video on behalf of adoptive families:

https://vimeo.com/92651492

I can’t say I understand these comments but I’m assuming adoptive families are so appreciative of this video. While it takes a comical route, I’m sure these comments have been said and are so frustrating.

Honestly, though, I can’t keep up with all of the “What NOT to say” articles, videos, and such that exist. Popular among millenials, everyone has seemed to create a “what NOT to say” for their peeps.

And while many of these bring light to insensitivities that exist and provide an understanding of what it’s like to be among a group of people that feel midunderstood, is anyone else afraid to say anything to anyone for fear of violating one of the ten or fifteen “not to’s”?

Maybe we need a little Rain-X for the ears?

An intentional barrier that allows those comments, when insensitive or rude, to slide right on off.

“Oh and let them continue being ignorant?”, you may add? Not exactly.

Think about the description of Rain-X: Coating. Rain drops just glide right off. Safer, clear vision.

When we don’t get offended at every comment made that violates the article specific to our people group and the ten things “not to say” to us, we then have the opportunity to engage with a clear vision.

1.       Assume the best:

Assume that this individual really isn’t sure what to say or didn’t mean to be hurtful. Sometimes we can be frustrated that this person hasn’t engaged with your type of people that often or ever at all. Instead of marking it as “ignorant”, assuming the best about their intentions can really help us individually be in a better spot as the conversation continues.  I get it, sometimes you just KNOW that person wasn’t coming from the best spot. But by doing this, you’re ready for the next step.

2.       Engage:

Correction is ok but tone, word choice, and facials are extremely important. Ah-ha… now the responsibility also falls in our court with the conversation!

I’m not the mastermind of this, example once being a nursing mom who works outside of the home. I'll share a real life example of a work trip from last year. 

Comment when trying to get into the nursing mom’s room during a work trip and finding a young, male adult napping with the room locked (note: did not take place at my company’s HQ):

Me: “Were you aware of what this room is used for?” (wrinkled forehead, harsh tone, red in face)

Him: “Yeah, I just didn’t think it was being used so I took a nap.”

Me: Shakes head, crosses arms, waits for him to exit the room. Ignorant was the word said to self.

Ok, so not a great model of this, huh?

Each opportunity is one to engage. I find this very often with the work that my company does in agriculture biotechnology. Sometimes we need to come off our high horse, stop being offended, and use the moment to engage with someone who may not have been exposed to what we do and who we are.

3.       Move on:

Even if the conversation didn’t end with a lightbulb moment for the other person, move on! No need for a Facebook rant, although if you’re really worked up a text conversation with a good friend could be beneficial, especially someone who knows what you’re going through.

Rain-X for the ears… apply the coating and watch it work wonders!

The weekend before Mother's Day

Churches, schools, offices, and more will be celebrating their mothers this next week. As we should! I can easily look to my own Mom—a farmer’s wife, full time employee with essentially 3 full time jobs (wife/mother, banking, farm bookkeeping and farm work). And I think of my mother-in-law—a woman who worked full time and for many years raised two boys as a single mom and served in many leadership capacities for her community.

My Mom and I: no caption does her justice! She is the most selfless person I know. 

My Mom and I: no caption does her justice! She is the most selfless person I know. 

Let’s celebrate these moms-- And moms with different stories all day long!

My MIL Sharon and I: so thankful she was the one who raised my husband into the man he is today!

My MIL Sharon and I: so thankful she was the one who raised my husband into the man he is today!

But we’ve got a week now and need to tap into our hearts. We need to celebrate our moms, as well as several other women in our lives:

A)     Women who mother

My EDGE mentor Valerie and her daughter came to visit Cora and I shortly after she was born. She is a woman who mothers so many other young women, along with her own children. 

My EDGE mentor Valerie and her daughter came to visit Cora and I shortly after she was born. She is a woman who mothers so many other young women, along with her own children. 

I’m not talking about your “Mom-Mom”. But let’s think about the other women in our lives who mother us with selflessness and sacrifice. Do you have a professional mentor? A teacher?  A Bible study leader? A neighbor? A peer?  Think about it. Write their names down and let them know those motherly attributes that mean so much to you and others.

B)      Women who are struggling with infertility

This is a really tough week/weekend for women who have struggled with infertility. I'm so thankful to see that this past week has been National Infertility Awareness Week and has been lifted up by men and women. Let us not be so quick to forget many women in our lives who desire to become mothers but have not yet. What’s her love language? A small gift, a card with sweet words, quality time together, or a big hug—think about it and follow through.

C)      Our friends who are mothers

I struggled to pick just one mom-friend photo because there so many wonderful ones in my life! But I just had to pick this gal- my best friend since we were babies. Betsy is a mom to TWO TWIN GIRLS who also works in our hometown's school system mothering other children along with supporting her husband's business. She has watched Cora for us during our move to KY and we share texts on diaper rashes and such. I admire her work ethic so much, along with her ability to be flexible (I guess you have to be with twins, huh?). 

I struggled to pick just one mom-friend photo because there so many wonderful ones in my life! But I just had to pick this gal- my best friend since we were babies. Betsy is a mom to TWO TWIN GIRLS who also works in our hometown's school system mothering other children along with supporting her husband's business. She has watched Cora for us during our move to KY and we share texts on diaper rashes and such. I admire her work ethic so much, along with her ability to be flexible (I guess you have to be with twins, huh?). 

I don’t know about you but the sweetest moments happen when another woman stops me in Wal-Mart and says—“Hey, you’re doing a great job there, Mom.” Or just the other day, my dear friend Katy was so encouraging to me regarding being a mom—and it was DAY. MADE. Katy is not a mother herself and I have no clue about the woman in Wal-Mart, but there’s something about that thoughtfulness from another lady that means so much. So if you’re a mother or if you are not, think about some friends who you can encourage because your words will be a sweet as honey.

All three of us girls: I feel such a privilege to be a mother to little girls that, I pray, become strong women. 

All three of us girls: I feel such a privilege to be a mother to little girls that, I pray, become strong women. 

Neighbor Well

Help me out (and yourself) by going along with this quick exercise. Will you pass the test? Less than 1% of people will. Now that's encouragement, huh? 

Use this diagram to get started.

 

Another option is to use a blank piece of paper and write down numbers 1-8. Under each number write A,B, C.

1. Let's start by writing down the names of the 8 people/households who live closest to you in each block or under numbers 1-8 on your paper. If you live in a neighborhood- the 8 closest homes going left and right (or however your homes are laid out). If you live in the country, the 8 homes closest to you. If you live in an apartment, the 8 closest apartments. You get it. 

2. Next- under each of the 8 names, complete the following:

A: Write the names of the people who live in those homes. Last names are great but not necessary.

B: Write down relevant information about each household- information you would know based on speaking to them. IE Volunteers at the Nursing Home vs. Drives a white truck (because you can just observe that from afar).

C: Write down in-depth information (at least one blurb) about each household: what motivates them, what concerns them, what are their spiritual beliefs or practices, etc.

Feeling a bit crappy? Yeah, me too.

About 10% of people can complete all 1-8 of Section A with their neighbors’ names.

About 3% can fill out line B for each home.

Less than 1% can fill out line C for each home.

In today’s culture of online connectivity and busyness, we have become a culture that does a very poor job of being good neighbors. We leave our homes, go to work or school or you name it, then come back home and stay within the walls of our homes. If we do go out, it’s because of OUR schedules and on OUR time to accomplish OUR needs and wants. I’m guilty of all of the above so replace all the “we’s” above with “I’s”.

I share this because I’d like to go down the road of 'Neighboring Well' here in this space: ideas and inspiration for Millennials to start a new wave of community. How do we neighbor so well that we create a culture change in our own neighborhoods? A range of recipes, acts of service, stories, and testaments to good neighboring will be shared.

It can be scary (who am I reaching out to?), awkward (well, that person seemed to think us asking them over for dinner was nuts!), and daunting (I’m not sure how to make the time or initiate the right way). But the hope is that a few ideas will stick and provide an easy way to love on the people around us.

Ready to get started?  

I pulled this exercise and the information following from a book called “The Art of Neighboring” by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon. (Thanks Matt for sharing!) If you'd like to share this with a group of people, here is the link for a PDF: http://www.artofneighboring.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/blockmap-1.pdf

Game Faces

The plan is always as follows:

With my game face on-- show up prepared and energized, ready to ask good questions, listen, work hard, and create positive change.

Every time. Game face on. That’s the goal.

As a young professional, we should go into each day with a game plan in order to give our people the best version of ourselves. Game faces are a good thing, hear me on this.

But the past few weeks my game face has gone from an attempt at the above description to two words: morning sickness. Shall I clarify: morning, afternoon, evening sickness. This time of year in my line of work is planting season and for me specifically, plot time! In short, I work with farmer cooperators to plant the newest genetics across my territory to get local data and observations so we have the best information for positioning our products for the year. It’s a crazy season for everyone in agriculture!

The orange stakes are used to mark a different product in the field. Certainly no selfies were taken this year during plots! 

The orange stakes are used to mark a different product in the field. Certainly no selfies were taken this year during plots! 

So plot time—game face should be on because it’s the farmers’ time at stake. And taking extra time that’s unnecessary is frustrating for all involved. You never know when the next rain shower is coming or when something is going to break—so it’s best to keep folks moving right along.

Then it hits: morning sickness. {or afternoon or evening} And the game face is long gone. People waiting for you, watching helplessly because it can’t be fixed like a planter or tractor. And while the empathy displayed is appreciated, I’m truly just ticked because I can’t keep it together long enough to get through one plot.

Anyone else nodding along? Young professionals that have something come along that wrecks their game face? All the prep and planning and then wah-lah. Oh, hello sickness in the middle of a corn field.

But then the magic happened and my mind was blown.

Conversations took place that would have never otherwise. Stories of the day their first child was born and the scare/joy/etc. Stories are shared about how someone's wife had the same struggles. We discuss things like adoption and the beauty of this. Highs and lows of life—this would have never happened with the game face on. Stepping back after plots are wrapping up, I can appreciate this more than ever.

And while, as young professionals, it is important to come equipped and ready to work, there are moments in life that change the gear. So stop, breathe, and remind yourself of how human you are—and the people around you. And maybe, true relationship building could take place as someone sees you struggle.  

On etiquette, crockpot recipes, and passions

The blogging process for me has been about as complicated as a teenage relationship. 

"Yes, I'm ready to make it official!" 

Throws out first blog called "How to be a Lady" on modern day etiquette but doesn't have enough tips and tricks to keep it going. A good sign I'm not the one for that topic! 

"Well, kinda ready. So let's do this blogging thing but low-key."

Blog #2 "Fried Green Tomatoes" makes its debut on topics such as home decor and cooking. Shortly thereafter it is discovered that cooking and home decorating are not my passions. Who knew?

"Let's just keep this thing private. No one needs to know. Cool?"

Time frame where I knew I loved to write, except on topics for young professionals and millennial "stuff"

But I'm young and the experienced folks are the ones that need to speak into these areas. They have the years, I just have the yearning to learn more. 

That was the thought. To live out my calling but never talk about it. Well that makes perfect sense, huh? 

So I bolstered down in the fall of 2015 to discover what the value really was in blogging. 

Why not create a space for young professionals to learn together? Write about the topics you love discussing, not with years of experience but with a heart set on growing and learning. And do this as a peer among peers. Feel the freedom? I did. We're all in the same boat here. 

And this became the result. No more recipes for the crockpot (although I'd love yours), ideas for painting your the interior of your home (again, I'd love your recommendations!)-- now I enter into an area that is my jam and butter on a biscuit. 

Round Three: Let's try this again. Let's learn together and make an impact on our communities all the while.