Whew! I made it to NYC this past weekend for the Lola Retreat despite being terrified to meet new people. What gave me butterflies ended up giving me a bunch of new ladies I would consider new friends, and many new ideas for how I want to go forward financially, personally, and professionally. I’m super thankful for the scholarship I received to attend the Lola Retreat and I love what Melanie and Shannon had put together for the weekend. Well done ladies!
Welcome Reception, The Ainsworth
Chris and I arrived in NYC on Friday night, just in time to attend the evening reception at The Ainsworth in Chelsea. I was extremely nervous to go into the roped off area, but instantly a few people were kind enough to say, “hello” and start up a conversation. For over two hours, I moved around the room and got to know a ton of ladies.
Then, after the evening reception, we hung around a little while to grab a bite to eat and we shook hands with Michael Strahan who just happened to stop in to watch the draft or any number of games that were on. I’d say shaking Strahan’s hand was a nice birthday present for Chris! I planned it all along…
At The Ainsworth, I met this amazing lady right here who reads my blog! Hey my girl T! Comment here and email me, okay??
The Lola Retreat was held at The Financial Gym, which I had heard about from JD Roth previously. I mentioned this to Shannon and found out he was an early investor in starting The Financial Gym. I knew I was surrounded by my kind of ladies, especially when you talk about GRS, MMM, and Frugalwoods and you don’t get odd looks!
The Financial Gym
The Financial Gym is an awesome place, the inside was beautiful, comfortable, and spacious. They offer so much support for women in finance, I look forward to learning more about them after this experience.
They even have a Money Bar that includes snacks, drinks, and other fun stuff when you come in to discuss your finances with a trainer.
Session One: Erin Lowry, Broke Millenial
I had previously purchased this book for my students to borrow from the library as they head off to college and consider taking on student loans or other debts. It came highly recommended. I haven’t had a chance to read her book, because it’s always checked out! Now that I have my own signed copy, I’ll be digesting it this summer.
Erin is very approachable and was great to talk to after her session. While the information in her session was what was already aware of, I appreciated her spreading the good message of learning about bank fees, savings, and building those habits!
We have a lot in common in our experiences; I may about ten years her senior. We both worked in late night television after college and shifted our directions shortly thereafter. Her, David Letterman. I, Conan O’Brien. How funny is that?
Session Two: Kristin Wong, Get Money
The next session was “Power Up Your Money,” presented by Kristin Wong who wrote Get Money: Live the Life You Want, Not Just the Life You Can Afford.
Kristin talked about using SMART Goals to Get Money! As well as figuring out your money script and suggesting a few good apps to use when you want to auto-save a few dollars.
One of the cool things in her presentation was about the different money personality types. It was an interesting perspective on the intersection of personality and financial decisions.
She was sweet to talk to after her session and sign a copy of her book for me as well. I look forward to reading that over the summer, too!
Lunch was superb. They meant it when they said they were going to be able to handle most, if not all, food allergies/sensitivities. I was thrilled when I saw corn tacos and all the makings of Mexican food for lunch. I knew for sure I would not get sick or have to be limited to a salad as I am most places. Thank you, Lola!
Session Three: Kristin Sutton, Debt Free Black Girl
After lunch, we dived into “How to Demolish Debt Like a Bo$$,” presented by Kristin Sutton of Debt Free Black Girl.
Kristin touched on the Debt Snowball and Avalanche methods of which I’m fond of when it comes to repaying one’s debts. We succeeded using the snowball method less than a decade ago grappling with over $100,000 in student loan and auto loan debt. It works!
She had a lot of energy to encourage you to create wins, drop the shame, put on your game face and commit to getting out of debt.
Session Four: Paulette Perhach, F*** Off Fund
The next session was probably one of my favorite titles, “Writing the Story of Your F*** Off Fund,” presented by Paulette Perhach.
Paulette talked about figuring out the answers to the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How of any situation in life to encourage a fund where you can walk away. You never want to be in a position where you have to stay and endure discomfort because of money. Fabulous message and another thing to think about when building up savings accounts.
Session Five: Moderator Ashtin Berry, Panel Discussion
The last session attended the first day was, “The Importance of “F*** Off Funds” in the #MeToo Era” panel discussion, which included Paulette Perhach, Diane Harris, Ashley Ford, and was moderated by Ashtin Berry.
Oh man, Ashtin is a force to be reckoned with. Ashtin, will you be my friend? She’s got such spunk, tenacity, and is an amazing storyteller. I could not have imagined anyone else moderating a panel on this discussion. She had amazing insight on “cleansing money” that comes from a triggering experience, as well as providing a “care front” to anyone around you who is nervous. Let’s support each other, as “empowerment is had from empowering others.”
The panel was amazing as well, it included previous presenters and Diane Harris of Money Magazine. The conversation was great, included some tears at times, and really was inspiring to listen to these women share their ideas and stories. I feel as though Diane and I have a lot in common with our marriages and how we handle our own finances.
The Melt Shop
At that point in the day, I was exhausted and overwhelmed with ideas, information and my head cold. The next session was related to getting a raise, which currently in my situation is not an option unless I seek work elsewhere. I’m happy where I am, so I didn’t want to feel frustration amidst all of the positive vibes I was having from the day.
Chris and I met up to go to a grilled cheese shop, The Melt Shop, in Chelsea. They had the most wonderful Nutella milkshake.
And boy was my grilled cheese delicious. I am still thinking about it today. I can taste that gooey mix of American and NY Cheddar! Plus, they offered gluten free bread from a local Brooklyn Bakery, Free Bread. I was overjoyed that I could eat without getting sick!
Walk in the Park
After dinner, we wandered around Madison park for about an hour before heading to our next exciting adventure.
The weather was beautiful, the sun was setting, and the flowers were delightful in the park. We talked about plans to possibly live a year in NYC when our children graduate high school just to enjoy the experience of big city living.
Love and Money
The Lola Retreat helped me feel even more appreciative of my husband and his support throughout our 10 years of marriage. He’s always encouraging me out of my comfort zone but is always ready to get on the same page financially and reach our goals (or any wacky goal I set for us!).
Gotham Comedy Club, Josh Wolf!
We finished off the night with a stop at the Gotham Comedy Club to see Josh Wolf’s show. We had never heard of him, but while I wanted to head up to Broadway, Chris wanted to go out for comedy. Since it was his birthday weekend of sorts, I obliged and I am glad I did.
Josh Wolf was hilarious! We both highly recommend going to see him if you can. He is a masterful storyteller, isn’t political in any way, and just makes you remember what life is all about: having fun. He’s a practical joker and made me laugh out loud so much my smiling hurt. You can ask Chris, I rarely laugh out loud at anything these days, it takes a lot. Josh had me giggling the entire time.
Plus, the guy is so sweet he does not sell merchandise and instead asks you to tip your wait staff more than you planned to. And he said, “I’ll meet everyone on the street for a photo.” Who does that anymore? Sweet guy, funny, and kind.
Loved that those two ladies in the background were photobombing every selfie Josh took. Made for some fun after the fact.
The first day was impressive, exhausting, overwhelming, and inspiring. I was not sure I was even going to go to the retreat, because I was afraid to step out of my comfort zone, but I’m glad Chris nudged me in the right direction. I hope to keep the conversations about money going with those around me, and with all of these wonderful women.
Tomorrow, day two of the Lola Retreat!