I’m here chilling out with an iced mocha while a flourish of rainbow-clad pride festival-goers orders coffee and sweets on their way to a day-time street dance. This is my home for a week, a tiny island I’ve retreated to, where it’s easier to find an honour-system produce stand on the side of the road than a phone signal.

It’s quiet, it’s peaceful, it’s a good place to press “publish” on Own Up Grown-Up.

I’m jacked-up on the divine combination of caffeine and chocolate, and of finally launching this thing that has been brewing in my head for years. But first, let me tell you when this abstract philosophy finally became concrete.

It happened in a pool of hot, steamy liquid.

Is it safe to sit in a hot spring during a thunderstorm?

Half-blind from chlorine steam and on high alert as lightning and subsequent thunder boomed overhead, a thought happened. It happened in my head.

It was like Nature was yelling at me to finally pull all my scattered ideas together, threatening to electrocute me if I didn’t acquiesce. Grow up!

“What if I start a project where I commit to getting out of debt and figuring out my finances so we can buy a house in the mountains in a year…then write a book about it?”

My poor husband…this isn’t the first overly-ambitious idea that he’s been asked to provide an opinion on without any notice. Between cautious glances at the sky overhead, we started brainstorming what this kind of radical self-management would require.

And then somehow we ended up at, “what if this is about more than just money?”

A typical rabbit hole you fall down when you turn 30…

What the F am I doing with my life?

If you’re in your 20s or 30s, variations of this phrase make their way to you daily, either from a friend or in your own head.

“I’m a colossal F-up.”

“My parents were married with two kids, a house, and a boat when they were my age.”

“Good thing I got that college degree. It came in really handy when I applied for that customer service job.”

“I’m spending too much money on hangovers that just get worse and worse.”

Why can’t we get it together, Millennials?

The first time I set a clear intention

I wish I could say it happened when I was 18 years old, and that I raced off to college to become the cancer-curing doctor I clearly am today.

Nope. The first time I set a clear intention, I did it unintentionally and I was 25 and finally attending my first day of university.

I wrote in my online profile that I wanted to learn skills that would allow me to be a ski bum that could afford the lifestyle made popular in flashy winter sports magazines. Deep.

While I’ve filled in the meaning behind that utopian ideal, the end goal hasn’t really changed. What I didn’t realize was that when I unintentionally set that intention, I bent my will on figuring out how to achieve it.

Each and every step I’ve taken in the past 5 years has brought me closer to that goal. Now, I’m faced with the most difficult step: getting real with my money situation.

The thing is that it’s not really about money

It’s about success, and to some of us that doesn’t mean having financial freedom and a healthy retirement savings plan. But, to a lot of us, it does.

Money’s tied to our feelings of self-worth, and we confuse it with wealth. We squander it when we need “retail-therapy”, we dream about marrying rich men, and we feel like garbage when we tell people how long we’ve gone without a raise at work.

My journey isn’t really about money. Money is just a tool. This is a game.

It’s also a game that many of us don’t take seriously enough until it’s too late. Will you have your $2 million nest egg saved by the time you retire?

Before you throw up in your mouth and start pouring a taller glass of wine, remember it’s not about money. It’s about living it up when you don’t have to work any more. Would you rather be traveling the world with your partner and wearing matching track suits, or begging your kids or nieces for grocery money?

I suck at money, but here’s what I’m really good at

I’m an information-junkie, and I know how to get the good stuff. If nothing else, that’s what my liberal arts degree has earned me.

I’m also a ridiculously good goal-setter, strategist, and action-taker (when I’m not wobbling home after an extended happy hour). Solving problems is kinda my thing.

This whole lost-in-life thing has got to stop, and that’s why OUGU exists.

Should we say it like ooo-goo or ow-goo?

Either way, my Millennial compadres, I’ve got your back and you and me, we’re gonna figure this life thing out together until there is nothing to figure out anymore.

It’s not going to be easy, and I expect there will be many tough-love moments. But, let’s face it — together we’re better.

Ready? OK, it’s time for your first assignment. Tell me what you want to know by submitting an idea. And then hold on to your skinny jeans, because this is going to be a wild ride.


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