Find Your Voice, Be a Sponge

Advice from a Middle-Aged, Former Over-Achiever

Next week I will be attending my very first personal finance conference.

This is important for two reasons. The first reason because I will be moving one step closer to my dream. I am getting my finances in order. Solidifying my future.

I am expanding my education by learning more about investing, saving and creating smart financial goals.

The second reason is that I will be taking this excursion entirely on my own. No friends or family to lean on. I will be navigating an airport, ground transportation, and an enormous resort hotel by myself.

To those of you who know me, your jaws have probably dropped to the floor by now. Because I barely leave the house, much less travel across the country.

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I’m a remote worker, faithful Amazon Prime member, and loyal Peapod grocery delivery service user. I prefer to have things come to me.

More importantly, I prefer not to go out in public. At least not very often.

The fact that I’m stepping out into the “real world” and leaning into my discomfort is astounding to those I know.

Everyone has been amazingly supportive of my pending adventure. Proud that I’m addressing some of my fears and putting myself out there.

And I also wonder if any of them think I won’t go through with it. Like I’m biting off more than I can chew and should start with smaller baby steps.

We shall see how it all turns out, though. Because at this point, there’s more at stake if I don’t keep it going.

The stage has been set. Back out now, and that leaves nothing but regrets.

And I’m determined not to let that happen.


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So What’s My Pitch?

When you go to one of these conferences, there are certain things you need to be prepared for.

Or so I’ve heard since I’ve never actually been to one.

But one of the things you should have is a short, polished introduction, or “elevator pitch”. You’ll be meeting so many people, at such a fast pace, that you need to have your introduction down to a science.

Who you are, what you do, what you offer your audience, and what makes you different from everyone else out there.

Do I have an elevator pitch? Well, no — not yet. I am still working on that one. I’ve still got a few more days, though. But I imagine it might go something like this:

Who am I?

I’m a middle-aged, average, “everyday” woman…

I juggle a career and a family. 

I’m educated and have lived a blessed life. 

I care and am cared for. 

I’m an animal lover and a little bit of a nerd. 

I like corny jokes and sometimes laugh so hard I start crying.

I also know what it’s like to live paycheck to paycheck.

To struggle with unexpected expenses and make stupid mistakes with money. And make even more foolish mistakes to correct those initial mistakes. Then, to vow never to find myself in those situations ever again and become better at budgeting and money management.

I’ve spent pretty much my entire life as a high performer — high school, college, and career path. Except in one area, of course — money. For some reason, my financial education never quite clicked.

And that’s how this journey got started.

What do I do, and how does it help my readers?

To put it plainly, I keep it real.

I’m not in the prime of my youth and am way past the millennial standard of hustling to pay off student loans.

I’m not living off the grid, trekking across the country, or selling my worldly possessions to enjoy a minimalist lifestyle.

And I’m not packing away my dollars so I can retire early by 37. That ship has most definitely sailed.

 

find your voice be a sponge ferry cruise ship

 

I am an everyday person who has responsibilities.

Maybe if I had been a bit more intentional with my money 20 years ago, that wouldn’t be the case. But I’m not using my current situation as an excuse because that’s just life. You make decisions, they have consequences, and you move on from there.

I don’t live a super-interesting life or have a dramatic backstory.

I’m just an ordinary person.

I am your neighbor, your coworker, the lady in front of you at the grocery store.

(But in the Express lane, so I can get in and out of there quickly )

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We might chat about the weather, the insane traffic on Route 6, probably not politics, but maybe about money.

How it’s a struggle and why it’s so hard to get a firm handle on it. How we wish we could do better.

That’s who I am and who I relate to.

Because while dollars and cents are clear-cut concepts, the way money makes us feel is not.

Money can make you feel like the queen of the world when you have it and the lowest of the lows when you don’t.

It can make you emotional, exuberant, agitated or even depressed. And how do you get through some of these feelings when you feel like you’re all alone? You talk to someone.

I have been there, who still is there, and who is determined to leave that vicinity as soon as possible. Therefore, there will be no judgment from my end—just understanding.

What makes me different?

Judging from the conference group listing, I’d say I’m quite a bit older than many other attendees. Not all of them, of course, because there are attendees in their 50’s and above.

But at 44, I’d venture to guess I’m the oldest attendee who has the highest debt and the least amount of savings.

So please — don’t consider me to be a financial role model. Because I’m not. My goal is to learn all that I can, to rehabilitate my life-long mistakes. To turn things around and improve.

Because that’s reality — no matter what you read on social media, or what lands in your email inbox. Being human means making mistakes. And learning from them.

I plan to attend these sessions on how to manage my money. And absorb the information.

Like a sponge.

 

Like a Sponge, Find Your Voice

 

Soaking it all up, so it seeps into my whole being. Creating new habits. Enforcing more of a financial security blanket.

Because retirement is a heck of a lot closer than it was twenty years ago, and I have a lot of catching up to do.

The Main Point Is …

Clearly, my “short and concise” elevator pitch has become anything but short and concise. But at least this can get me started, and I can get it down a bit — well, quite a bit.

The main point is that I understand where you are coming from.

I can’t tell you exactly how to fix it or just follow some 7-step plan on how to succeed with money.

If you’re looking for some sound money advice — I could tell you, “Do as I say, and not as I do”. (But I won’t, since I’m not a financial advisor.)

However, I will tell you this:

1) Find Your Voice. Answer your calling. Have faith in your abilities. Put it out there. Dare to dream.

2) Be a Sponge. Expand your knowledge. Seek out a teacher. Read up on whatever it is that lights your fire.

Because no one starts as an expert.

But above all else — Just start.

Thanks for reading, and if any of this resonates with you, please hit me up in the comments!

Robin

4 thoughts on “Find Your Voice, Be a Sponge”

  1. Oh, you & I have some stuff in common – late bloomers financially and in our 40’s. However, you’re an introvert and me an extrovert. It should make for a good friendship ;-).

    Are you married? Kids?

    • Yes, I can’t wait to meet you next week — I have a feeling we will get along swimmingly! 🙂
      I have a partner who has two kids, but they are both grown and in their 20’s. So not quite an empty nester, but way past the days of raising little ones.

  2. I think I have a little hang of the financially stuff but this applies to everything else in life. I like the simple advice of “find your voice, and be a sponge.” Something I need to keep working on. Great post and best of luck with your elevator pitch.

    • Thanks so much, Jude! Yes, I definitely think this is something that can be applied globally. And I appreciate your support! I’m sure I will have tons to share with you when I return!! (I also might run my pitch by you if I have time, to get your thoughts!)

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