Ms ZiYou Smile and Conquer

Sarah – Smile & Conquer – Hockey and Houses – #financialfeminist

Ms ZiYou Lets meet financial feministsIt’s Friday, so time for Let’s meet Financial Feminists. This week I have the pleasure of introducing Sarah from Smile & Conquer.

I love Sarah’s dedication to her team and how she blogs so openly and honestly. And I love getting the Canadian perspective.

Handing over to Sarah

Please introduce yourself and your blog

My name is Sarah and I blog over at Smile & Conquer. I’ve been working in the world of finance for the past decade and thought blogging would be a fun creative outlet to share what I was learning on the job. I enjoy writing about all things finance but also incorporate some real-life struggles.

Sometimes it feels like my whole life revolves around personal finance but that’s not at all the case. I have a wonderful partner who I’ve been with for thirteen years (and no, we’re not married) and we have two dogs and two cats who keep us busy.

How would you describe your current stage of life?

I’m in the building stage of my life. I’ve got a career I love and plan on staying in long-term, but everything else is a work in progress.

My partner and I recently moved into a new to us home. It’s actually a hundred-year-old charmer, but it has a long list of projects we’d like to accomplish. That means a lot of our short-term savings will be redirected into the house instead of for things like vacations.

Other than house expenses, we are setting money aside each month for retirement. That still feels like a long way off but it has to be done!

What are your personal values?

Let’s talk money values first since I am a personal finance blogger and all. I’m all about trying to strike a balance between what I want today and what I will need for the future. I don’t have any plans to retire significantly early so it’s not as important for me to save every possible penny. Instead, I like to allow myself to spend money on things that bring me happiness. Usually, that’s travel, concerts, dinners out and season tickets to our hockey team.

Outside of that, I value honesty and loyalty and appreciate people who don’t take themselves too seriously. We are living in challenging times and I think it’s important for us to be vocal and stand up for our rights, but at the same time know when you need to take a second for yourself.

What are your dreams and plans for the future?

Honestly, I just want to keep on doing what I’m doing. I want to continue growing in my career, building my assets, and feeling more comfortable in my skin.

Easier said than done but not impossible. I’m happy with where I’m at in my life and if I can keep that slow upward trend going then life will be a-ok.

This is usually the point in the conversation where people will ask if the boyfriend and I have plans to get married or have children. My answers? Probably one day, and no. Marriage isn’t a big deal to me either way. I’m sure we’ll eventually bite the bullet (mainly for the party!) but right now there’s no rush. As for kids, I always thought I’d have a family, but the older I get the less I want that. That maternal desire has never quite kicked in for me.

Feminism & Society

What is your brand of feminism?

I need this to be a multiple choice question as I have no idea! I want equality. I want women to stop getting screwed over, abused, and downtrodden by crappy dudes. I also think there are a lot of really amazing men out there and I wish they used their power to stand up for us more often.

Some days it feels like we’re breaking down barriers, but other days (and there’s more of those lately) it feels like we’re moving backwards.

I’ve always had a feisty attitude and never shied away from voicing my opinions, so feminism has always felt natural to me. Much of that comes from my white, middle-class upbringing, but I’m not sure I’ve ever heard my mom speak the word feminism. To me, it was something I became more aware of in university. It felt so obvious. Of course, I’m a feminist! But it still surprises me that putting a name on equality can be so divisive.

Do you have feminist in your twitter bio?

I don’t. I’ve never really thought of it, but maybe I should?

Is the patriarchy real?

Alive and thriving, unfortunately. I feel lucky to be sheltered from a lot of it because of where I work. It’s a really small office and my boss is a woman, but when I look outside my bubble it’s a different world.

Please recommend us some good feminist books

I love reading, but I lean hard towards fiction so I’m not well versed in books specifically about feminism.

I have read ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ by Chimamanda Ngoze Adichie, and that should be required reading for everyone.

I do make a point of reading female authors, many of whom tackle feminist themes in their writing. I’m a big fan of pretty much anything by Margaret Atwood. A few of my top reads from this year are Educated by Tara Westover, Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu, and The Power by Naomi Alderman.

The importance of intersectionality – discuss

I think us straight, white, able-bodied women need to be better. Feminism needs to be more inclusive and I think the lack of inclusivity weakens the entire movement. I’m not sure how to fix that, but promoting diverse voices is a step we can all take.

How do you feel about privilege

I’m not sure how anyone can deny privilege. Obviously, people do all the time, but I think the public’s privilege radar is becoming stronger.

I have no doubt that my privilege has been a significant factor in where I am today. And saying that does not diminish the work I’ve put in. I grew up with two white parents who earned good money, lived in a suburban neighbourhood where I attended a good school. My parents were also able to help me pay my way through university and were always there if I needed to fall back on them for support. Those are all huge benefits I had that a lot of people don’t.

What is the role of men in feminism?

Men need to speak the heck up! The more men who stick up for women and call their male friends out when they’re being shitty the better.

Do you consider yourself an activist?

I don’t. I’ve written quite a bit about women’s issues and how to fight against the patriarchy, but I’ve never been the person out marching for rights. It’s something I want to be better at and have a stronger voice, but I get overwhelmed by taking that sort of stand.


How do you get your news?

Twitter isn’t a good answer, but it’s the most honest. I spend a lot (too much) time on social media so it’s usually the first place I hear about news stories. That’s not ideal as I’ve hand selected the people I follow and I think it’s important to get viewpoints that aren’t always the same as your own.

Outside of social media, I subscribe to theSkimm daily newsletter, watch our local news station when I’m getting ready in the morning and often listen to The Big Story podcast on my way to work. It’s a Canadian daily news podcast.

What are your thoughts on the mainstream media?

I think it’s a necessary evil. People need and have a right to know what’s going on in the world. However, media has changed so fast in the past few years and I’m not sure we’re quite capable of dealing with that. Now a news story can spread around the world seconds after it happens and that wreaks havoc with false information getting out and creating way too much drama.

Please share your top 10 blogs you follow with us.

Bitches Get Riches, The Dumpster Dog Blog, Half Banked, Mixed Up Money, The Luxe Strategist, Our Next Life, Tread Lightly Retire Early, Tiny Ambitions, She Picks Up Pennies, and Apartment Therapy (because house stuff is my life right now).

Is talking about money feminist?

Absolutely! I would argue that one of the best ways for women to raise their position is to improve their financial literacy. Money is power!

Having your own money is empowering, especially for women. It gives you the freedom to make the right choices and never feel like you have to stay in a bad situation because you can’t afford to leave it. I’m a strong supporter of women getting equal pay and closing the investing gap.

Some media spin that’s upset you lately – please share your rant

Trump overwhelms the global news cycle, but here in Alberta we’re not exactly standing on solid political ground either. I’m so just incredibly sick of racist, homophobic, misogynistic politicians making headlines day in and day out. And the fact that they are actually getting traction makes me really worry what kind of world we live in. When did people get so downright nasty?!

And some media that has galvanised you

As depressing as the news can be, it can also be equally uplighting. At least once a day I see a story pop up on Twitter that shows the good side of people and it makes me smile. Sometimes it’s as simple as someone sharing a cute picture of their dog, but those good things are what keeps me around.

Parting Words

What is one awesome thing in your life now?

I have to go back to our new home. I’m really excited about it! We’ve known for a few years that our previous place wouldn’t be forever so we hadn’t been working to improve it. Now we have a place we can DIY and make it our own, and I love that crap!

We else should I interview for this series?

I mentioned a couple of times in the interview about the importance of men speaking out, so I would love to see you speak to a few men who preach feminism. The ones that come to mind are Josh Overmeyer, Matt Lane, and Done By Forty.

How can people connect with you?

I’m on Twitter a lot @SmileandConquer but you can also find me on Instagram @SmileConquer for non-blog related pictures of puppies and life and of course on the blog.

And a huge thanks to Ms ZiYou for putting together this series and letting me be a part of it!

Ms ZiYou Back here

Thanks for taking the time to contribute Sarah. I totally agree on the role of men in feminism – and I’m already looking up your book recommendations!

Finally, if you identify as a feminist – female or male – and would like to be featured on Let’s meet Financial Feminists – please get in contact.

Thank you for reading – please leave a comment below and join in the conversation. You can also connect on Twitter or contact me privately.

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