Tag Archives: Financial Literacy

Twists and Turns – My Journey

Copyright 2015 – Sweet Doll Designs
Copyright 2015 – Sweet Doll Designs

I read a wonderful article today by Kate Northrop.  It’s all about how life might not turn out the way you expect.  I could identify with life throwing some twists and turns my way.  Read the article and see if it rings true for you, too: http://www.katenorthrup.com/its-not-going-to-turn-out-the-way-you-thought/

I especially love the hopeful ending to the article, suggesting that anything is possible if you keep putting one foot in front of the other toward your dreams.  Even though it may seem scary, go ahead and follow life’s twists and turns.  This new direction may not have been in your 29 point life plan, but that doesn’t make it a bad thing.  It could be a completely awesome thing!

Dare to dream, my friends, and enjoy the ride! =)

In the spirit of this article, I thought it might be interesting to share with you how I began writing these posts.  See if you can spot the twists and turns.

I studied at Colgate University and earned my BA in Astrogeophysics with a minor in Geology.  While I was in school, I thought I wanted to be a planetary volcanologist.  But once I graduated, I thought – holy cow, what do I do now?!  I didn’t want to be a professor, I didn’t want to work out in the field, and I didn’t want to work in the lab.  Where did that leave me?  I knew I would need further education, but since I wasn’t clear on my life’s direction, I elected to take some time off to decide what to do.

I stayed at Colgate for six months after I graduated to work full time as the gallery assistant in the art gallery on campus.  I enjoyed that so much that I considered museum studies, but decided that wasn’t quite right, so I kept searching.  A friend from college told me she needed a roommate and asked me if I’d consider moving.  So I picked up and took off for a city six hours from where I grew up where I knew no one and, after interviewing for all sorts of jobs (including one as a ballroom dance instructor), I got a summer internship at the American Association of Museums and a part time job as a bookkeeper.

After that summer, I went full time at my bookkeeping job and I realized I really liked it.  It may seem like a stretch from my degree, but if you think about it, math was a big part of my undergraduate studies and math is a big part of the finance world, too.

I eventually changed companies and met an amazing boss.  She recognized my talent, but told me that if I wanted to get anywhere in the field, I would need to get a degree, and probably even earn my CPA.  Since I did very much enjoy working with numbers, I took her advice to heart and enrolled in evening classes at University of Virginia.  After four years, I earned my Accounting degree.  Now I’m studying for my CPA.

Along the way, I interviewed at a company where I really wanted to work.  I had done a bunch of research before the interview and found they had a financial literacy program.  I had never heard of financial literacy, but it sounded interesting.  I mentioned it in my interview, only to find out that they were phasing out the program.

I didn’t get that job and it broke my heart at the time.  However, that one idea lit a fire inside me – a passion for financial literacy.  I dream of one day teaching kids of all ages about financial literacy.  I want to help the next generation start off on the right foot, financially speaking.

This blog is my first step toward achieving that dream!  I’d like to take this moment and thank each of you for reading my blog and for all your support.  It means so much to me and helps keep me going.

I hope you enjoy Kate’s article and my own personal journey of how the twists and turns in my own life brought this blog post to your computer, tablet, phone…or maybe even your watch?!

Remember, dare to dream and enjoy the twists and turns that make the ride better than you imagined!

I’d love to hear about some of your life twists and turns in the comments below!

Happy Decoding!

Fun fact for today: All 50 states are listed above the Lincoln Memorial on the back of a $5 bill (Source: http://www.cracked.com/photoplasty_498_23-mind-blowing-true-facts-about-money_p3/)

Author’s note: This post is dedicated in loving memory of my Grandpa, Stan (January 26, 1927 – October 18, 2014).  He was one of my biggest supporters.  He was kind, funny, smart, and a great listener.  He had an incredible interest in life and would talk to me for hours about my experiences and adventures and share his own.  He gave amazing advice and even better hugs.  On a particularly beautiful day, he would remark at the wonderful show Mother Nature was putting on for us.  He encouraged me to always seek learning opportunities, maintain an awe and wonder in the world around me, talk to people everywhere I go, and have fun!  He was graceful, distinguished, and thoughtful.  He was proud of his wife, my Nanny, for her financial skills which she passed along to her children and me.  He was my dance partner at many family weddings, thankfully also including my own.  He was all the things that make up a perfect Grandpa and more.  I am so grateful to have had this much time with him on this Earth.  I love you bunches, Grandpa! xoxo

Dancing with Grandpa at my wedding Photo credit: Axente Productions Copyright 2015 – Sweet Doll Designs
Dancing with Grandpa at my wedding
Photo credit: Axente Productions
Copyright 2015 – Sweet Doll Designs

Anatomy of a Check

This is an important post for me.  Not only is it my first one, but this topic is part of what sparked my passion for Financial Literacy.

I distinctly remember in the 6th grade, my teacher brought in an overhead image of a blank check, much like the one pictured below, and taught us how to properly fill it out.  We each got our own copy of the check so that we could practice by ourselves.  At the time, my parents had already opened a checking account for me – I remember writing out the check for my calculator at the beginning of 6th grade.

Thinking back on these experiences now, I wonder how much of a money education kids are getting in school.  I don’t think money basics like this are taught in class, leaving it up to parents to educate their kids about money.  However, what if the parents don’t feel as though they know enough or they were never taught about money – how can they be expected to teach their kids something they’re not sure about?!

Then came my thought – I love finances, taking care of my money, and watching it grow.  I love learning new savings techniques and talking to people about money.

I even enjoy paying my bills!

With this blog, I am endeavoring to share my passion for learning about money with everyone.  So here we go, my version of Anatomy of a Check:


When filling out a check, all you need to do is write:

1)      Today’s date

2)      The person or company to whom you wish to give the funds

3)      The amount of the check written in numbers

4)      The amount of the check written in words, putting the cents in terms of 100 (ex: 00/100 for no cents, or 50/100 for 50 cents), and drawing a line after the “100” to the word “Dollars” (this is to prevent unscrupulous people from having enough room to tamper with your check)

5)      A memo (for your records, or sometimes the recipient will request you note your account number)

6)      Your signature

Be sure you write legibly so that the bank can read the check correctly!

When you order your checks from a check printing company, your name and address will be pre-printed on your checks (7), as will your bank name (8), routing number (the first group of numbers – before the colon) (9), account number (the second group of numbers – after the colon) (10), check number (11), and the basic format of the check.


A few interesting notes: when you write the amount to be paid in words, if that amount is different from the amount written in numbers, the bank will honor the amount written in words.  That amount is legally binding!  So, take your time when filling out checks and be sure you are doing it correctly!

Also, it is never a good idea to have your social security number pre-printed on your check – this is a very important number and private!  Finally, it is best not to get your phone number pre-printed on your checks.  If a company needs that information, you can always hand-write it on the check.

As you can see, it is not difficult to fill out a check, but if you’ve never done it before, it might take a bit of practice.  Try it a few times on the sample check below and have fun with it!

Happy Decoding!

Fun fact for today – on April 2, 1792, Congress passed the Coinage Act which created the US Mint, and the first one opened in Philadelphia.  Happy Birthday US Mint!  (Source: http://www.reference.com)