• Welcome

    Welcome!

    Welcome to Face the Fear!

    We are Nicole Ellsworth and Kaitlyn Duchien, two motivated millennials on a journey to face the fear of our financial future.

    We created this safe space where we will dive into topics like retirement, budgeting, student loans, investing, insurance, financial terms, etc. We are passionate about educating ourselves and others in the process. Join us as we change the conversation around finances and approach our future with confidence.

    If you like us, follow us here, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and subscribe to our podcast: Face the Fear. (Social media links are on the top right of this page.)

    *Disclaimer: We are not here to give legal financial advice. We highly encourage you to bring the topics we discuss to a financial professional, who is qualified to address your specific financial goals.*

    It’s time for some real talk, and we are so excited that you are here to join us!

    Until next time – Face the Fear!

    Nicole and Kaitlyn

  • Budgeting

    5 Apps That Make Cents

    Let’s take a poll. Do you have an iPhone (or other smartphone if you’ve somehow survived without biting into the Apple)? Do you want to make more money? I hope you’ve answered yes to both of these questions. (If not, who are you and ARE YOU OKAY?) Here are 5 apps to help you make (and save) a few extra cents:

    1. Stash

    Stash is an app built for investing newbies. In fact, 86% of the app’s users are first-time investors. Stash is basically the Planet Fitness of investing platforms — a Judgement-Free Zone where users are provided basic investing education in an easy-to-understand way without some of the complexities of other robo-advising platforms. The app allows you to create an account and begin investing with as little as $5. Investment choices include individual stocks and ETFs, categorized by features like market capitalization or social responsibility. Currently, three different subscription plan options are available, based on your investing goals: Beginner, Growth, and Stash Plus. The Beginner Plan ($1/month) allows you to open your own taxable brokerage account, receive financial education, and use the Stash debit card with Stock-Back (earn stock as a reward for shopping at certain companies, like Amazon or Starbucks). The Growth Plan ($3/month) offers all previous benefits, plus tax-advantaged retirement accounts such as a Traditional or Roth IRA. Finally, the Stash Plus plan ($9/month) adds the features of a UTMA/UGMA accounts (savings for children), double Stock-Back rewards, and monthly market insight reports. (Disclaimer: Stash is an investing platform. If you choose to invest, you will be subject to market risk and could lose money. Also, Face The Fear is not sponsored by Stash. We just genuinely like the app and think you will, too).

    2. Achievement

    Ever find yourself binging Netflix with ice cream tub in hand, wondering when you lost your motivation to workout and where you’re going to find it again? Achievement is here to help. For some people (aka me), the idea of strutting my “beach body” next summer isn’t enough to get me off the couch. Achievement knows money is a big motivator for many people, so it rewards you in cash for being active. The app synchronizes with various fitness apps you may already have on your phone, such as Apple Health, My Fitness Pal, Fitbit, Garmin, and even Twitter. You’ll earn points by completing exercises, logging food, measuring your heart rate, tweeting about your health, and reading health-related articles. Once you reach 10,000 points, you can “cash in” your points for a $10 reward sent to your PayPal, personal bank account, or a charity of your choice. Good for your health. Good for your wallet.

    3. Drop

    You spend money. I spend money. We all spend money. That’s a fact of life. Why not earn cash back on the money you’re already spending? Add an extra “drop” or two to the savings bucket, per say? Meet Drop – the cash back app. Drop allows you to link your credit or debit cards to the app, then gives you cash back points on purchases you make everyday at retailers such as Target, Starbucks, Lyft, AT&T, Apple, and more. You can also shop at certain retailers through the app to receive additional discounts on purchases you make and earn “boosted” cash back points. Once you’ve collected at least 5,000 cash back points, you can redeem them for gift cards to restaurants, movie theaters, clothing stores, airlines, and more. It’s an easy way to put some money back in your pocket without even thinking about it. (P.S. Drop is my personal favorite cash back app, due to ease of use and retailer options. However, if Drop doesn’t tickle your fancy, here are a few other highly-rated cash back apps you might enjoy: Rakuten, Ibotta, and Dosh).

    4. Hopper

    Have you ever spent hours online trying to book a flight, searching for the cheapest option available, and finally purchased the tickets – only to find out prices decreased a few days or weeks later? Same. That’s when I found Hopper. Hopper is a free app designed to solve this problem and – from personal experience – it works wonders. The app allows you to choose a departure and destination location, as well as preferred dates for your travels. It then tracks those flights, analyzes travel trends, and tells you the best time to buy the tickets at the cheapest price possible. When I recently used Hopper to book a flight to Bogota, Colombia, it suggested that I wait to purchase the tickets, because it predicted a better price in the future. In the meantime, Hopper tracked the flight over several weeks, notifying me when the prices increased or decreased. However, even when there was a decrease in ticket price, Hopper would tell me if the prices were expected to continue decreasing in the coming weeks (so I should keep waiting) or if this is the lowest predicted price (so I should purchase the flights now). I followed Hopper’s advice and secured the cheapest tickets possible before they jumped up in price again. If you’re a frequent flyer, Hopper will easily save you hundreds of dollars (and hours of stress) a year.

    5. Mint

    If you’ve been a Face The Fear follower for a while, you KNOW how we feel about Mint. Budgeting is tough. Keeping track of every penny that leaves your wallet can be tedious and time consuming. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a little accountant living in your phone, keeping track of your budget for you, cheering you on when your credit score increases, and letting you know when you need to cool it on your spending habits? Say hello to Mint – the free budgeting app that keeps tabs on your cash money all in one place. Mint allows you to sync your accounts to the app – everything from your checking and savings, credit cards, 401(k) and HSA, internet service, car payment, investments, and more. By consolidating all of your assets (what you own) and liabilities (what you owe) in one place, it becomes much easier to assess your complete financial picture and determine if you are on track to reach your financial goals. You can create your own custom monthly budget, and Mint will let you know if you’re close to exceeding your budget in a particular category. It will also remind you when you have a bill due soon, and it will congratulate you when you’ve paid off debt. While Mint is really a one-stop-shop budgeting tool, it is most effective when credit/debit cards are your primary payment methods (vs. cash) and when you actually sync as many accounts as possible to provide a holistic financial picture. If you still frequently use cash for purchases or don’t want to bother connecting all of your accounts, Mint might not be the best fit for you. Overall, however, it’s an excellent resource to keep track of your finances in the palm of your hand (without becoming an Excel budgeting wizard – unless that’s your thing – then, you do you booboo).

    We hope you’ll find these 5 apps helpful to budget, save, and grow your cash money. Let us know your favorite money-saving or money-making apps in the comments below!

    Written By: Kaitlyn Duchien

  • Budgeting

    What Is High Yield Savings?

    Are you a person that has a traditional savings account with your current bank? You know, the typical savings account that is paired with your checking account? Are you a person without a savings account at all? If you answered yes to any of these questions, please read on. If you have never heard of one, I am here to tell you a little bit about high yield savings accounts. It is essentially a normal savings account, only you get a higher interest rate. What is an interest rate? It is a percentage of your money that a bank will pay you just for having your funds housed with them. Free money — who doesn’t want that? Traditional savings accounts usually have a very low interest rate. For example, my interest rate through Chase bank is 0.01%. This is a common rate based on studies from Credit Karma. On my high yield savings account though, I have a 2.15% interest rate. This is a difference of 2.14%. Now, I am not here to tell you to get a high yield savings account, but I do think you should do some research into the benefits of opening one. NerdWallet is a great resource to research as well as find a bank that you are interested.

    I know this might sound too good to be true, like what’s the catch?  And there are some potential downfalls of a high yield savings account if you do not research. One of the biggest is service fees. These can sneak up on you and really bite you from behind if you are not aware of them. You also want to make sure that if there are service fees, they do not outweigh the interest you are receiving. There are plenty of banks that do not have fees on their accounts, but you just have to make sure you find the right one. You can also run into banks that require high minimum amounts that you must start with and not go below. If you are just starting your journey in savings this may not be practical for you. Another potential issue with this account is the transfers between accounts. If you are opening an account in a separate bank from your normal everyday bank, and an emergency arises, there may be an issue with getting your money in time. These are all items that you can avoid if you are paying attention to what money you are holding where and the banks you are going through. Talking to a representative is a great way to find out any hidden potentials that may not fit into your goals.

    If you are still interested in one of these accounts, make sure before you open one you research, research, research. There are so many to choose from and they all may offer different incentives, fees, and options. Don’t just pick the one with the highest rate. I have had an amazing experience with one of these savings accounts, and it is potentially an easy step to make a huge difference in your long term financial goals.

    Article Contributed By: Dakota Otis

    Contact Us: facethefearfw@gmail.com

  • Videos

    Estate Planning: Put To The Test

    Does financial planning really work? Abby Sullivan, Guest Contributor and Associate Account Executive at Allego, puts Estate Planning to the test! Inspired by our Face The Fear podcast about Estate Planning with Matt Erpelding, Abby decides to apply our content to her own life. Abby describes the process of creating a will, choosing a health care proxy, and designating a power of attorney. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

    Contact Us: facethefearfw@gmail.com

  • Podcast,  Real Estate

    Face The Fear Podcast – Real Estate Mavens: Leslie Ferguson, Heather Regan, and Tiffany McIntosh

    To Rent or To Buy? Millennials wrestle with this decision more than any past generation, especially as student loans and stagnant wages have delayed the home-buying process substantially. In this episode, we tackle this question and many others with the help of three Real Estate Mavens: Leslie Ferguson, Heather Regan, and Tiffany McIntosh.

    • What differences have you seen between Millennials looking for housing vs. Gen X or Baby Boomers looking for housing when they were in their 20s-30s? How has the housing market changed over time?
    • How does your credit score play into the home buying or apartment renting process?
    • Where should a Millennial start when it comes to purchasing a home? What are a few key first steps and pitfalls to avoid?
    • How do taxes factor in to owning a home? 
    • What are hidden costs/fees that a first-time home buyer might not know about?
    • What questions should someone ask a real estate agent to make sure they’ll be a good fit?

    Don’t forget to subscribe and leave a review! XOXO

    Face The Fear Website: https://www.facethefearfw.com

    Contact Us: facethefearfw@gmail.com

    Our Guests:

    LESLIE FERGUSON
    REALTOR®
    260.312.8294
    leslieferguson@kw.com

    HEATHER REGAN
    REALTOR®
    260.615.2570
    heatherregan@kw.com

    reganfergusongroup.com

    TIFFANY MCINTOSH
    Mortage Loan Officer 
    260.497.8685

    Tiffany.McIntosh@53.com

    https://secure.53.com/mlo/app/mlosite/tiffanymcintosh

  • Insurance,  Podcast

    Face The Fear Podcast – Tim Kukieza, Disability Insurance Expert

    What is disability insurance, how does it work, and when do you need it? Tim Kukieza, Disability Insurance Expert, answers these questions and many more on this podcast episode – all while cracking a few jokes along the way. Listen in to find out:

    • If someone is young and healthy, why do they need disability insurance now?
    • If someone already has disability insurance through their employer, is there any reason why they may need to buy additional coverage?
    • What exactly does Disability Insurance cover? Will it replace my entire income?
    • How much does DI typically cost for a Millennial?

    Don’t forget to subscribe and leave a review! XOXO

    Face The Fear Website: https://www.facethefearfw.com

    Contact Us: facethefearfw@gmail.com

  • Credit Cards

    Credit Cards: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

    Credit cards. A number of different images may flash through your head when you hear those two little words. Do you picture yourself freezing your card in a block of ice? Putting it through a shredder? Lighting it on fire?

    Or do you see yourself casually strolling out of a store, shopping bags in hand, feeling elated about all the fabulous things you just bought and didn’t have to pay for…(yet)?

    Either way, credit cards are a polarizing topic that seems to divide people faster than Donald Trump’s tweets. Some people equate credit cards with financial disaster and endless debt. Others view them as a way to build credit and save money through cash back and perks. Personally, I fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. Here’s a few of my own pros and cons of credit cards that will (hopefully) help you decide if owning a credit card is a good financial decision for you.

    Let’s start with the bad news first.

                Con #1: CREDIT CARDS CHARGE INTEREST – LOTS OF IT!

                You’re probably thinking, “DUH.” But, let’s just say it like it is. The #1 reason why credit cards have a bad reputation is the high interest charged on unpaid balances. Even though most people know credit cards can charge high interest, many overlook the details. For example, exactly how much interest is your credit card charging? When does interest begin to accrue? On what amount does the interest apply? Does your credit card offer a grace period? All of these details can be found in the fine print, usually in confusing legalese than can make you feel like a chimpanzee trying to do calculus. In summary, the best way to avoid interest altogether is pay your full credit card balance on time every month. If you don’t, you’ll be that chimpanzee trying to do calculus to figure out how in the world your $200 new TV (it was such a great deal!) ended up costing you $500 (OUCH). 

    (Also, side note, there is a myth floating around out there that you need to carry a balance on your credit card and pay interest in order to earn good credit. This is absolutely false. Carrying a balance may hurt you, not help you. That’s all. Carry on).

                Con #2: Credit Cards Can Be The Gateway Into A Deep Dark Debt Hole

                Credit cards can be the gateway drug into a seriously dangerous debt problem. Why? Because they are so easy to obtain and so easy to use. Here’s a personal example for you. When I started my first job out of college as a social worker, I was making about $32,000 per year. I signed up for my first credit card and was given a credit limit of $4,000. Wow – $4,000! That’s a lot of cash! My credit card company must think I’m really responsible…

    HOLD UP. Let’s do some math: Say my hypothetical take-home pay (after tax) was $28,000 annually. $28,000 / 12 months = $2,333 net monthly income. With a credit card limit of $4,000, I could choose to max out the credit card in the first month, buying a $4,000 all-inclusive vacation to Hawaii. Aloha to me!

    The problem is, in order to pay the balance off, I would have to use my entire $2,333 paycheck over the next few months to pay off the full credit card balance. This is nearly impossible, because I would have no extra cash left over to pay for rent, food, transportation, clothes, or anything else for that matter. As a result, that remaining unpaid balance gets carried over from month to month – and is charged interest in the meantime. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why credit cards can be a gateway drug. Easy to obtain. Easy to use. Easy to spiral out of control.

                Thankfully, I didn’t fall into this debt trap. I never used more than 25% of my credit limit and made sure I could pay the balance in full at the end of every month. Ironically, because I was using my credit responsibly, I received about five credit card offers in the mail every week and was offered a credit limit increase. All of this is great until too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing. It can be easy to become addicted to borrowing money – even if you are responsible with paying it back. Having $10,000 in debt and a great credit score is still not as good as having no debt at all. 

                Con #3: Credit Cards Aren’t Necessary

                That’s right. You don’t need ‘em. In today’s culture, having a credit card is equivalent to having a cell phone. If you don’t have one, you’re living in the dark ages. But in reality, you really don’t need a credit card – especially if you’re able to build up credit through other sources, like student loan payments. Side note: credit cards + social media = disaster waiting to happen. Why? When we constantly see posts of people taking luxurious vacations, buying a new home, getting their dream car, or wearing designer clothes, we often (even subconsciously) feel like we’re missing out. In order to “keep up with the Jones’,” we swipe our credit cards to pay for a lifestyle we can’t afford. Guess what. A lot of people who appear to have it all on social media may actually be drowning in debt to keep up with the image they want to portray. Don’t fall into that trap. (Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox now. Thank you for coming to my TedTalk). 

    And now for the good news:

    Pro #1: Credit Cards Help Build a Good Credit Score

                This is true – IF (and that’s a big IF) you diligently pay your full balance each pay period. And, as stated in Con #3, you really don’t need a credit card to build up your credit score. Other methods of building credit include paying off student loans, getting a secured loan or secured credit card (backed by your own pre-deposited money), or becoming an authorized user on someone else’s credit card (ideally someone with good credit history). In fact, I would argue that building credit through one of these methods is a much safer option than diving head first into an unsecured credit card. 

                As a disclaimer, here is my personal story. I graduated college without any student loans, and I will remain eternally grateful to my parents for their sacrifice to make that happen. As a result, I vowed to never put myself into unnecessary debt, since my family worked so hard to keep me out of it. But, this also meant I had no credit to my name. I started with one universal credit card with no annual fee and some small perks. I only used this card for a few designated expenses, like rent and gas, so my spending wouldn’t get out of hand. Over the next couple years, I paid this card on time each month and also added a couple store cards as well. I was able to build a solid credit score in a relatively short period by consistently paying the full balance, using different lines of credit, and keeping my credit limit usage under 25% at all times. BUT, this is my personal story. It is not the universal solution to building credit. Find a method that works best for your personal financial situation. 

                Pro #2: Credit Cards Provide Points and Perks

                If I’m being honest, this Pro could also be a Con. Here’s why: while most credit cards offer some incentive for use (like cash back or airline miles), the benefits may not outweigh the expenses. For example, if you have an airline credit card with a $100 annual fee, but you only take 2 flights per year to earn $50 in airline miles, then you really lost money by using the card (especially if you were charged interest on unpaid balances from month to month). Make sure if you’re purchasing a card with an annual fee, you calculate whether or not the annual fee will produce enough benefits to justify the cost.

    NerdWallet has an excellent credit card comparison tool to help narrow down which credit card will be the best fit for your lifestyle. (#NotSponsored). In fact, I used this tool to find my first two credit cards, based on my spending habits, credit score, and desired benefits. One of the cards I decided upon is the Amazon Prime Visa card (Again, #NotSponsored. But, Amazon, if you wanna slide in my DMs…)

     I already buy the majority of my essentials on Amazon, everything from dish soap, to cat food, to breakfast bars. By using the Amazon Prime credit card to make these purchases, I also earn 5% cash back on these transactions and 1% back on everything else. What makes this really valuable is, nearly every time I go to order some of these essentials Amazon, I have anywhere from $5-$25 cash back to use toward my purchase. Again, this is what works best for me, but it may not be the best fit for you. Try out the NerdWallet calculator to find your best credit card fit. 

                Pro #3: Credit Cards Teach Financial Discipline

                Just because you could eat a whole box of donuts in one sitting doesn’t necessarily mean you should.

    Similarly, just because you could spend your full credit limit in one month doesn’t mean you should. Using credit cards effectively requires discipline and discernment. Many people get themselves in deep debt trouble when they begin to disassociate their actual cash money from the motion of swiping their credit card. In other words, it’s easy to forget about the pain of paying for purchases when you have the ability to enjoy something instantly without paying a single penny upfront. Credit cards themselves are not the enemy. It’s the emotional and psychological response of purchase without pain that gets us in trouble. The good news is, we have the ability to acknowledge the mental pitfalls of credit card usage and shift our mindset to avoid them. Here’s a rule I personally follow to keep my finances in perspective: I never make a credit card purchase if I don’t have enough money in my checking account to cover it immediately. Credit cards make it easy to spend money we don’t have, but they don’t need to lead to financial ruin. A shift in mindset and a healthy dose of discipline is all you need to make sure your credit cards are working for you, not against you.

    **P.S. If you read this and thought, “Well, shitake mushrooms. I’m already up to my eyeballs in credit card debt. Now what?” No fear! We will be tackling debt reduction planning in our future content very soon!

    Written By: Kaitlyn Duchien

    Contact Us: facethefearfw@gmail.com

  • Podcast

    Face The Fear Podcast – John Redmaster, CFP – Where should Millennials put their money first?

    John Redmaster, Certified Financial Planner and fellow Millennial, joins us to break down where Millennials should focus their money first. Should we pay down student loans or credit card debt? Save for a home? Invest in a 401(k)? Build up an emergency fund? John helps us find answers to these questions and more on this week’s episode:

    • What tips would you give to Millennials who just graduated college (or are several years into the workforce) who feel like their student loan debt is unmanageable?
    • Since you have the CFP designation, can you explain a little bit about what exactly that designation means and why it may be important to consider when seeking a financial advisor?
    • What can Millennials do TODAY to get their finances on track?

    Financial Focus Website:
    https://www.financialfocusonline.com/

    Don’t forget to subscribe and leave a review! XOXO

    Face The Fear Website: https://www.facethefearfw.com

    Contact Us: facethefearfw@gmail.com

    YouTube: Face The Fear

    Instagram: Face.The.Fear

    Facebook: Facebook.com/FaceTheFearFW

    Twitter: Face_The_Fear

    Advisory Services offered through Investment Advisors, a Registered Investment Advisor and Division of ProEquities, Inc. Securities offered through ProEquities, Inc., a registered Broker/Dealer and member FINRA/SIPC.  Financial Focus is independent of ProEquities, Inc. Ash Brokerage and its affiliates are not associated with ProEquities.

  • Insurance,  Retirement Planning,  The Market: 101

    CFP – Certified Financial Planner

    On an upcoming podcast, to be released on Friday, July 19th, we will cover a few new terms! In preparation for this podcast, we wanted to link a quick article that explains what a CFP, or Certified Financial Professional is. You’ll hear our guest, John Redmaster, explain why it’s important to work with a CFP in planning out your long-term goals.

    Click here to go to Investopedia’s definition of a CFP!

    Here is a link for you to check out a CFP that you are considering working with: CFP Verification

    Happy reading and don’t forget to tune in on Friday, July 19th for a new podcast!

  • Podcast

    Face The Fear Podcast – Guest: Jordan Bell – The Good People Podcast

    On this podcast episode we sit down with Jordan Bell from The Good People Podcast. We have a heart-to-heart about millennials, finances, life experiences and what Jordan’s podcast is all about. Join us for a fun conversation and get to know us a bit more! PS – Hi Jordan’s mom! 🙂 

    Don’t forget to subscribe and leave a review! XOXO

    Face The Fear Website: https://www.facethefearfw.com

    Contact Us: facethefearfw@gmail.com

    YouTube: Face The Fear

    Instagram: @Face.The.Fear

    Facebook: Facebook.com/FaceTheFearFW

    Twitter: @Face_The_Fear

    Link to Jordan’s Podcast:
    https://soundcloud.com/thegoodpeoplepodcast