Beyond Words

Words, Wit and Wisdom for Today's Style and Decision Makers

A Cup of Savings to Go Please September 30, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 12:00 am


Happy National Coffee Day friends! No, this isn’t a blog about coffee; it’s a blog about money. But still, I love coffee so I’ll have a cup while writing about money.


When it comes to money, we spend a ton of it on coffee. In fact, if you buy two lattes a week, you’re spending $500 a year on just to-go coffee drinks! Five hundred dollars! And that doesn’t include the coffee you drink at home and most people who frequent coffee shops do so way more often than just twice a week. That’s a lot of dinero on java.


But, if you instead invested that money spent on coffee, in 10 years you’d have enough to take a great vacation. Save it for 20 years and you’d be able to pay for one year of college tuition. Yowza! Makes you think twice about coffee to go, doesn’t it?


As I said, I love coffee but I’m not a buyer of lattes or cappuccinos at Starbucks or anywhere else. For starters, I can’t stand the size names of Starbucks drinks! Why isn’t the “grande” the large anyway?!



Great advice but not the advice many Americans are heeding. According to CNBC, nearly 70 percent of American adults have less than $1,000 in their savings accounts and almost half of U.S. families have no retirement accounts savings at all. What gives?


In some cases it’s simply a matter of not being able to, other cases lean toward not knowing how or just not choosing to. In the case of the younger generation, the common thinking is “I’ll save more when I make more.” This is not the way to go about it though, because the younger you start saving, the better; even small amounts saved early on are better than no amount at all; and because it’s just often not the case according to Money Expert Kimmie Greene.


“Often times what happens is when people make more, they don’t save more, they spend more,” she told CNBC.


Money and numbers expert I am not. Far from it as a matter of fact. But it does make perfect sense even to me that the earlier you start saving, the smarter the plan is. When you’re young, it’s even more advantageous because of interest and compound interest in particular, which is basically interest on interest. It is the result of reinvesting interest, rather than paying it out, so that interest in the next period is then earned on the principal sum plus previously-accumulated interest.



“A penny saved is a penny earned.”

Benjamin Franklin


Saving doesn’t have to mean investing in stocks or working with a broker and saving large amounts of money. As Ben Franklin said, even if you save one penny, you’ve earned a penny!  Saving money for retirement is important, but so is saving for a host of different things such as major purchases like homes, college tuition, medical expenses, and other needs. It can also mean living within your means and knowing when enough is enough. As Mary Poppins so eloquently said, “Enough is as good as a feast!


But, how much should you be saving right now and how much should you have saved by now? Fidelity Investments says a good rule of thumb is to have the equivalent of your salary saved by age 30 and 10 times your final salary in savings if you want to retire by age 67. Greene’s shared her timeline with CNBC and it’s similar albeit more detailed. It’s still a pretty simple formula.


In your 20s have the goal of saving 25 percent of your overall gross pay and make sure your expenses don’t exceed 75 percent of that gross income.


By age 30 you should have the equivalent of your annual salary saved. This includes retirement contributions, company matching funds, cash, and investments.


After that you should have:

Twice your annual salary saved by age 35

Three times your annual salary saved by age 40

Four times your annual salary saved by age 45

Five times your annual salary saved by age 50

Six times your annual salary saved by age 55

Seven times your annual salary saved by age 60

Eight times your annual salary saved by age 65


I think you get the drill. What I like about this plan is that it’s not based on how much you should have saved, but is based on one’s annual salary. Someone making $50,000 a year until their 65-years-old should not be expected to have the same amount saved as someone making $500,000 a year all that time.



There’s no question it’s tough to do though. We live in a consumer-based society and are constantly fed the belief that not only is bigger better, but more is magnificent! Live like the Kardashians and buy $1,000 phones. Put it all on a credit card and pay a little at a time. Ugh.


Then there’s the school of thought studied by many that, “life is too short and I’m going to live for today.” Awesome and have fun doing so, I just hope if your life ends up being long, you’re financially prepared to make up for all that spending and the likelihood that Social Security may not be around to help you out. There’s also insurance costs and medical expenses. My friend’s daughter is a successfully employed woman in her 20s but recently had a medical issue cost her thousands of out-of-pocket dollars despite having decent health insurance. Good thing she had saved her money!


If you are looking to save, what are some of the best ways? First off, spend less. Again, I’m no financial expert but finding a reputable financial advisor you trust is a good place to start if you’re looking to make investments and save large amounts. Which brings me to a burning question I’ve had forever: if brokers and investors are so good and so successful, why are they working? But I digress. If your funds aren’t quite on the “financial advisor level,” meet with banker at your local financial institute. A simple savings account may be the way to go. And don’t be afraid to toss spare change in a jar…they really do add up! Something else I read years ago is to save every $5 bill you get. You don’t get them all that often, stocking away $5 doesn’t seem as painful as $20, and take my word for it, they add up too!


So maybe the next time you pull up to order a drive-through venti non-fat soy latte, you might think about saving that $5 bill instead of spending it. It might just earn you a king’s ransom.


Shades of Fall September 25, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 1:40 pm

It gets confusing that fashion industry. We just had New York Fashion Week but don’t be fooled, what was shown on the fall runways is actually what will be worn and sold spring 2018. Think of collections as what will be in store and in stores next season. But, no worries; here’s what you need to know about what to wear this fall. At least color-wise.


I’m going by the Pantone Color Institute’s “Fashion Color Report,” which the paint and color experts compile after evaluating what colors were most prominent in fashion week collections. Every season Pantone creates a palette inspired by the hues fashion designers used on the runways and I couldn’t be more thrilled with what colors they advise we should be wearing this fall.


JCrew hair ties1

In a nutshell, it’s many of the colors that make up both my home décor and my closet racks: a little bit of red and whole lot of camel and gray. I like to think of my design color style as my spice rack: I love a mix of nutmeg, paprika, oregano, and a dash of saffron. Or, maybe it’s my ‘fridge with even amounts of lean beef, tomatoes, spinach, and parmesan! And it goes without saying that both my closet and home are chalk-full of classic blacks and whites.




The photo above is from JJill and I literally could own every piece and have a closet that could look very similar if I grouped my blacks, whites, and camels like they did.



RZoe Pre-fall 2017

Here you have some selections from Rachel Zoe’s pre-Fall 2017 collection and I love every single piece. The black and white. The red. The fringe. The glitter!


Pick and choose from both of them and voila; you have right now’s fashionable colors and the official shades of fall.


Pantone’s Leatrice Eisman says this palette is “Bookended by a dynamic Grenadine red and a tawny Autumn Maple and leans more to warmth.” I love it. Cue the awesomeness!


Let’s look at each of the colors:



Grenadine good group

Grenadine is described as a powerful, evocative, and dynamic red. It is a very vibrant tone of red; almost a orangey-red. It’s definitely not a color for the faint of heart but instead a confident color and a self-assured attention-getter.



Tawny port group good

Tawny Port takes those reds to new depths and is more elegant and sophisticated. Much like a good port wine, it looks and feels full-bodied and rich.



Ballet slipper group

Ballet Slipper can go almost bubble-gummy or more similar to recent “it” color, blush. I guess it depends on how broken in the ballerina’s toe shoes are! Pantone describes it as reminiscent of the rosy glow of health and you can consider it soft, safe, and subtle.



Butterrum group good

Butterum is a toasty shade evocative of drinking a glass of Butterum by a roaring fire. In my world, it’s a classic camel and one of my all-time favorites.



Navy Peony group

Navy Peony is basically your classic navy and is considered a dependable and anchoring shade. It also takes some of the load off of black as the go-to neutral. In fact, many are saying navy is the new black but even though I’ve surprised myself of late at how much navy I now have, it will never take the place of black in my closet. It just won’t.



Neutral gray group

Neutral gray, however, could. I love me a yummy gray and love that you can wear it as a muted pop of accent or as head-to-toe classiness. You can also easily glam it up by making it a more sparkly silver. When I picture the color I picture something fuzzy and warm like velvet, suede, or cashmere.



shaded spruce group

Shaded Spruce is a meshing of teal and emerald to me but Pantone says it’s designed to make you think of the forest and the protectiveness of evergreens. I’m not feeling the forest but do like the color as I like green in general and have always thought of it as “God’s color.” But be careful when pairing it with any of the above reds and don’t go 1980’s jewel tones on me.



Golden Lime group

Golden Lime is a yellow-green shade and that leans toward chartreuse. It’s never been a color I gravitate toward as I have olive skin. If I was a betting woman, I’d ante up that it will never make it to my closet. Just saying.



Marina group

Marina in the only true cool color in the palette and it brings with it a freshness and brightness. It’s very periwinkle to me and is utterly yowza! I love it! We all need a little “vitamin sea” in our lives and Marina is the color that will bring it.



Autumn Maple group good

Autumn Maple is a quintessential autumn color but the new version has a tawny, russet hue that keeps it fresh yet classic. Close your eyes and smell the maple syrup!


So there you have it: a brief roadmap on the colors you might be seeing a lot of right now and the ones you can confidently use to create a wardrobe. Be smart though, consider what looks good on you, your budget, and if you really and truly need any of it. Truth be told, I could easily not buy one new thing this fall and have the Fall 2017 color palette pretty much covered. It’s still fun to talk about it though, right? Which ones are your favorites?



The Old College Try September 19, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 1:30 pm

I’m one of those who if asked “would you go back to college today?” I answer not “yes,” but “hell yes!” What was not to love? You are learning, are living with friends, and have fun activities available 24-7. For me, college literally changed my life. I played hard but studied hard, had the time of my life and made life-long friends. To this day, I take a trip once-a-year with four college girlfriends. We’re on our 15th year now. With that being said, it naturally comes as no surprise to me that all things college are tres chic right now.



Ann Arbor

To prove this, look no further than Graduate Hotels, owned by former Auberge Resorts executive Ben Weprin. The 39-year-old entrepreneur’s AJ Capital Partners has launched the group of properties in college towns across America and they are not only trendy, they are trending.


Currently located in Ann Arbor, Michigan; Oxford, Mississippi; Athens, Georgia; Madison, Wisconsin; Tempe, Arizona; Berkeley, California; Charlottesville, Virginia; Lincoln, Nebraska; Richmond, Virginia; Bloomington, Indiana; and Minneapolis, each property is customized to be in sync with the local university’s vibe.


For example, in former home of author William Faulkner and current home of Ole Miss, Oxford’s Graduate Hotel’s room keys resemble Ole Miss ID cards and the concierge desk is a bookshelf. Weprin is currently a “big man on campus” in the hospitality industry and explained his school of thought to “Town and Country” magazine.


“Everyone goes back to their college and they’re proud of the place,” he says. “Why shouldn’t the visit to college be something memorable too?”


I concur, and to do this Weprin and his team scour local antique shops and flea markets to find items that inspire décor. Each site celebrates a youthful optimism and cultivates spirit and memory making. Best of all, they are affordable and yet they boast five-star touches.


These all remind me of hotels we stayed at when my daughter and friends did college tours during her junior year of high school. We stayed at small hotels, many of them right near campus and often owned and managed by the university. I particularly remember The Hotel at Auburn University and The Inn at Carnall Hall in Fayetteville. They were such treats to stay at and I highly recommend researching similar sites at any universities you may be touring in the future.



LSU lazy river

It’s probably only a matter of time before LSU, Clemson, Bama, Mizzou, and Texas Tech have Graduate Hotels in their cities, but until then, they can at least lay claim to some of the country’s only country-club-like amenities having to do with water.


All of them have actual floating rivers on campus. Yes, lazy rivers! Can you even imagine? Let’s see, go to class, go study, then go float the river. I’m in! At SMU in Dallas, students don’t have an actual floating river but they do have a tanning pool shallow enough to allow sitting in chairs and chaise lounges comfortably. If I’m the admissions director at those schools, these perks are front and center in all recruitment materials.



Founded by two Ivy League alums, Hillflint is right on top of the collegiate trend. The company is the place to go if old school knit sweaters are what you’re looking for. Crafted to remind customers of happy college memories, their product line is like taking a trip back in time. No trendy metallics, flashy bling, or catchy phrases, just simple block letters and striped arms.


The owners founded the company after graduating college, and are quick to admit they did so because they wanted to offer something to friends that would outlive souvenir tee-shirts and something more indelible, just like the memories of their college years were. Today 120 universities allow their logos and trademarks on Hillflint sweaters with styles ranging from Stadium to Tailgating and a host of others that definitely make the grade.


The fashion industry has of course taken note of the current “college is cool” trend. Or did they set the trend? Either way, cardigans were all over runways, including those of Gucci, Altuzarra, Chloe, and Miu Miu, which means retailers coast-to-coast will be stocking them this fall and winter.


A fashion favorite for years, the cardigan was created by none other than Coco Chanel. In 1925, the style maven was frustrated with how crew neck sweaters ruined her hair and felt tight, so she revamped them and designed the first timeless cardigan. I wonder if the buttons were pearls.


So as you enjoy a good college football game this weekend, whether in a stadium seat or a living room chair, know that all things college are too cool for school right now. Boomer!


That’s a Wrap: Emmy Fashion September 18, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 7:49 pm

It’s called TV’s biggest night but this year, I wouldn’t know.  Truth be told I didn’t watch a second of last night’s Emmy Awards, but a girl loves her some fashion so I did check out Red Carpet wrap-ups. Funny thing happened on the way to my voting though: I didn’t know half the people mentioned in article after article, blog after blog. Tessa Thompson? No idea. Issa Rae? Not a clue. Natalie Dyer? Dying to know who the girl in the gorgeous green gown was. But know or not know, here are my no’s and my say yes to that Emmy dress. 


Natalie Dyer in oh-so-flattering high-neck green Vera Wang. Those pleats! The simplicity! the train! Per-fection.




Also in Vera Wang and a winner in my eyes was Issa Rae. Her asymmetrical tomato red Wang had just enough flash to make it interesting but simple enough to stay classy. Beautiful dress. Beautiful lady.




Some hated Tessa Thompson’s multi-colored Rosie Assoulin halter dress, but she kinda crushed it and I kinda liked it.




Some also didn’t give a round of applause to the short Stella McCartney blue blazer dress Reese Witherspoon chose, but I thought it was a classy yet edgy choice. Loved the matching suede pumps too and if I had those legs I’d choose short too! I might have pulled her hair back into a pony though.




No idea who she is but Kiernan Shipka looked flowy, airy, and a tad Greecian in a speckled Miu Miu. Up close, the detail and fabric were dreamy.




Two names forever on any of my “favorite” lists: Mandy Moore and Carolina Herrera and they didn’t disappoint. Moore was pure awesomeness in her black and white tiered Herrera and her hair and make-up were on point.



Claire Foy served fashion notice in her off-the-shoulder black Oscar de la Renta jumpsuit and I loved everything about it except the rope embellishment. “The Queen” would have been perfectly royal without it. I would have liked a smile too rather than that stiff upper lip.



Feathers are rarely a fashion favorite of mine, but something about Zoe Kravitz’ colorful feathery Dior Haute Couture stole my heart.




Nothing “little” about Julie Bowen’s side-ruffled Albert Ferretti black dress. The cap sleeves were so flattering and her hair and jewelry were beyond perfect. This funny girl consistently kills it fashion-wise. Love her style and loved last night’s look thank you very much.




And a big shout out to Sterling K. Brown who won Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his moving and amazing role in “This Is Us.” Not only does he win my best actor award, he also wins my “best dress male” award for keeping it traditional and classy. Nothing tops a man in a simple tux. And BTW, if you want to hear something touching, Google the part of his acceptance speech that didn’t make the telecast. The guy is a class act. Hands down.


And finally, my worst dressed. No pictures needed.


So many raved about Jessica Beal’s look but it did nothing for me. She’s always just one of those who I think is gorgeous but never quite cuts it on a Red Carpet. I guess when you have JT on your arm, who cares, right?


Debra Messing may be coming back as the beloved Grace in “Will and Grace,” but her eggplant dress last night was just a mess and anything but graceful.


Sofia Vergara looked stunning in her white Mark Zunino, but it felt a bit bridal to me and do we really need to see Vergara in yet another mermaid gown?


Robin Wright was just a no. No to the saggy-boobs dress and no to the hair. Claire Underwood would be appalled.


I don’t know who Ariel Winter is but I do know she tried too hard to be sexy and to be noticed. So did Evan Rachel Wood in her “too many details” white menswear look.


Did I miss anyone? Do you agree or disagree? Please do tell!