Yesterday was my 35th birthday and while I don’t hate getting older, I still feel like I’m 25. Sometimes I look at little six-month-old Henry and think, “whose baby is this? I’m surely not old enough to have one of these.”

I keep waiting for an adult to show up and take over.

But when I think back over the last 10 years, I can’t believe how much life has changed. And how much it has changed in ways I never expected. I remember being 23 and feeling the urge to have my entire life and career mapped out by the time I turned 25 (I’m a recovering control freak). I wanted to be living in a certain size home, making a certain salary, and living life a certain way. I didn’t expect life to look anything like it does now.

  • I didn’t think I’d have kids.
  • I definitely wasn’t planning to get my MBA and I couldn’t have told you what state Duke was in.
  • I wanted to live in Europe but I had no idea how that would happen.
  • And if someone would have told me that I’d make my living writing about money on the internet, I would have told them they were crazy.

These past 10 years have not gone according to plan and it has been the best adventure. There have been a lot of ups, plenty of downs, and so many lessons learned along the way. The 25-year-old me would have hated how unpredictable my life seems now, but the 35-year-old me is embracing the adventure and is excited for tomorrow.

All while still being extremely financially responsible, naturally.


we’ve got you covered

This is 35. I’m not a big birthday person, but turning 35 kind of feels like a milestone birthday. And while life looks nothing like what I expected, I honestly couldn’t be happier. I feel like it’s only natural to do a little reflection when your birthday comes around, so this year I thought of all the money advice I’d give to my younger self. I honestly wish I had learned these lessons sooner.

Just say no. There are a lot of things you should do with your money. But what about things that you shouldn’t? Here are 5 things that you should avoid doing — and what you should do instead. And it includes the worst advice I’ve ever heard, straight from a financial “expert”.

Make Me Smart

smart-ish reads from around the internet

It’s on FIRE. If you have spent any time perusing the personal finance blogs, you’ve likely come across the idea of FIRE: financial independence, retire early. The NY Times did an article and then a complete follow-up article to answer questions. While I love the FI part of the equation, I don’t find the idea of retiring right now alluring. I do love the focus on breaking our habit of consumerism and living below our means. And sure, there are times I’d rather blow off a client deadline, but my idea of financial independence is to do more of the work that I really love (like this!).

When I came across an article on medium about how this HR professional defined being financially free, I found her perspective really refreshing. She doesn’t want to leave her job, but as she explains, “I never want to place my entire family’s lives and well-being in the hands of another person or company.” This is how she’s created her own financial freedom.

PS, if your goal is FIRE or you just want to learn more about it, read the first NY Times piece and the Q&A follow up. Great information in there even if your ultimate goal isn’t FIRE (like tips on finding healthcare when you’re unemployed and what has happened to these early retirees when a recession has hit).

It’s not cheating if you just look…right? One of my favorite managers, when I worked at P&G, reminded us to regularly look for new jobs. Sounds crazy, right? Nope. He wanted all of his employees to stay because they wanted to, not because they felt like they had to. And checking in with recruiters every six months or so helped me keep tabs on my market value and what skills were in demand. This HBR article breaks down why it’s important to look for other jobs regularly and how it benefits both the employee and the company.

I’m a to-do list addict. And I love a good goal setting session. But this week, in an effort to do things a little differently I set an intention for the week, which I reminded myself of multiple times per day. I loved it. Here’s why setting a daily intention is better than just setting a goal and how to start setting yours.

Make It Good

because life is about more than money

Just keep moving. Jordan, Henry, and I have been on vacation in California for the last 1.5 weeks (1 more week left!), and the theme of this trip? Eating everything in sight. While British food is actually delicious and gets a bad rap, there are things that just taste better in California. Like guacamole made from avocado trees in your backyard. To counter-act the gluttony, we’ve been walking. And apparently, that’s the best exercise there is.

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Erica Gellerman, CPA

Erica Gellerman Bio The Worth Project

Erica Gellerman is a CPA, MBA, personal finance writer, and founder of The Worth Project: a weekly money newsletter you actually want to read. Her work has been featured on Forbes, Money, Business Insider, The Everygirl, The Everymom, and Lifehacker. When she's not writing about personal finance you can find Erica exploring Europe from her temporary home base in London.

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