Hello dear ones,
I’ve started this newsletter so many times. Start and stop. Start and stop. What can I say to properly communicate what has occurred over the past year? Who cares about what I think anyway? What. Is. Communication. Even. Like. Now?
I don’t know how to encapsulate the messy journey of this last year so I’m giving myself permission not to try. As if someone could possibly attempt to tie this up with any kind of bow. If you have been through a particularly hard time, I just want to say that I am so sorry. I am sorry for those who have lost loved ones. I am sorry for those who had livelihoods ripped from under them. I am sorry for those who have had to watch their kids be traumatized by all this. I’m sorry for those who haven’t gone through those things and feel like they don’t have the right to their grief. I just want to give everyone a hug honestly.
For our family, this time has looked like constantly biting off more than we could chew and spitting it back out. It looked like accepting Daniel Tiger as legitimate child-care. It looked like reveling in a perfectly cooked dinner. It looked like…not cooking dinner. It looked like being buried in a foot of snow for a week, somehow keeping power and getting survivor’s guilt. It looked like finally giving myself permission to NOT do things I “should” be doing. It looked like lots of therapy. It looked like watching our amazingly cool toddler grow into a real kid. It’s been so hard, but with breaks of blinding beauty in between.
Somehow though, The Art of Finance has managed to remain a thriving business. We’ve been able to accomplish some really important things that I am genuinely excited to share with you.
- We rolled out our very first hourly financial planning offering. No more having to hire us for six months to a year. We can work in smaller, more concentrated chunks for an hour or two for people who just need a nudge in the right direction. It’s been very popular and Philip and I really enjoy the format.
- I (Julia) became an Accredited Financial Counselor® or AFC® for short. It took 1,000 hours of approved client work and a three hour test to make it so and I’m very proud of it. Now I get fancy letters by my name like Philip. Muahahaha!
- We hired an incredible fifth team member, Erin Galloway. I cannot possibly say enough lovely things about this Vermonter. She also got to celebrate passing the AFC® exam and is working toward completing her certification hours this summer.
- After all these years specializing in working with creative entrepreneurs, we’ve FINALLY rolled out hourly consulting and budgeting coaching specifically tailored for small businesses. Yaaaassssss!
- We’re rolling out a brand spanking new service this very week: low-cost financial counseling for those who are still struggling to break out of the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle. Up until now, we’ve required a full month’s worth of income in savings in order to become a client of any type. For the industry, that is a crazy low threshold. But we also know it’s cut us off from a large percentage of people. Erin’s specialty is working with folks at this stage so it is a serendipitous addition to our menu of services.
- We’ve transitioned to an all-digital model. Prior to Covid, we were actually conducting around 60% of our meetings via Zoom (that’s right, we were OG Zoomies) and now we’re at 100%, with plans to keep it that way for the next year or two. I was super hesitant about this move. Our ability to truly connect on an emotional level is an absolute necessity to our work. Thankfully that ability seems to remain unscathed and everyone seems to find the time as helpful as ever.
Thanks for letting me share all these things with you. Even though it feels like we’ve been stuck in a holding pattern for so long, it’s been encouraging to look back and see that progress has been made.
In fact, I’d like to challenge you to do that for yourself. Look back. I guarantee you will be surprised at how much you’ve actually accomplished. Didn’t throw a cast-iron skillet at your spouse? Accomplishment. Didn’t vandalize a politically-charged bumper sticker during the election? Here’s your trophy. Took a break from social media? A shiny self-care medal for you. Went for a walk instead of screaming at your kid? Parent of the year. In all seriousness though, the fact that you survived is an accomplishment worthy of celebration. Through all the things we lost, we still managed to win here and there.
Accept this digital hug for now as a raincheck for the real ones we will hopefully be reveling in soon.