wonder-woman-cover

Wonder Woman: Soundtrack Review

I had the opportunity to finally see Wonder Woman and I must say that it was refreshing. Although the series is just getting started, I agree that it is the better of the few DC movies in this latest series of the superhero world. The plot took a different turn than what I assumed and her outfit was banging! However, this post is about the music. So let’s get to it.

Listen to the entire Wonder Woman Score Soundtrack on Spotify, Apple Music, Google Music, Amazon Music, or Youtube. My poison of choice…Spotify. So if you want to hear the pieces I reference, get you an account! It’s free (with commercials), but a student account is only $5/month and premium is $10. Hook up, check.

Disclaimer: I try to use vague language but there are somewhat spoilers in this post. Proceed at your own risk!

The Composer

Rupert Gregson-Williams is the lead composer listed for this film. I am familiar with his name but not too many of his works, frankly because, I was not interested in the movies such as Open Season, The Legend of Tarzan, and Winter’s Tale. However, I am very familiar with Harry Gregson-Williams and his work on the Chronicles of Narnia series. I absolutely loved his works so I had high hopes for Rupert and this film.

Wonder Woman’s Theme

My interest in Wonder Woman’s score was actually sparked in Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice when her theme was introduced in this film.

Frankly, it was the best music all film. Hans Zimmer scored this film, so I assume he developed the theme. The driving percussion and daring guitar melody depict her unexpected strength. At her official introduction in Batman vs. Superman, she swoops in to help the duo in their last fight. Her ultimate unveiling is ushered in by this spot on theme that kicks off the final battle.

I enjoyed the use of WW’s theme in this film. Rupert saves the main theme for the climax instead of weaving it between scenes via slight variations (my favorite approach). Throughout the film, we witness WW’s growth from young warrior to fully developed “god killer”. However, there is no real clear-cut, entry point into her “coming of age”. There were a few glimpses of her power but nothing came together until her battle at The Front.

wonder-womans-wrath

This re-introduction of the theme was a pleasant surprise. I forgot about it until this point and the song enhanced the scene. At this very moment, you knew that she finally met her destiny and came into full knowledge of all her duty, and blah blah blah. It was quite beautiful though.

Variations on the Theme

After realizing that WW’s theme was saved for the climactic battle, I had to go back and listen to all of the Soundtrack to find any other variations or common melodies that I might’ve missed. When listening to the soundtrack, I was reminded of the movie’s actual theme.

wonder-woman-history-lesson

Although very little variation, there is an enchanting theme that is introduced on the island in the beginning and repurposed throughout the film. The melody is so perfectly aligned with the movie setting that seamlessly complements the scenes. I felt bad for not noticing the music as I normally do. However, I came to the realization that it did its job. The music supported the story line and gave the slightest hint of the plot at certain times. Never did it over take the scenes, and that’s how it’s done right!

Cliché or Naw?

I’m not going to lie, I’m starting to get a little annoyed by the trumpet fanfare sound that appears in all superhero movies at some point. Of course, Wonder Woman is victim to that as well. I’d love to see a new sound emerge in this superhero movie era. I understand that Western music has developed the average musical ear to listen for cliche styles. I believe the ultimate satisfaction comes from doing the unexpected though. That’s what makes Moonlight Sonata such an enchanting piece, Beethoven did something unexpected with the chordal progressions. We need a refreshing take on our music today. It needs to be spot on though or there will be a train wreck. I’m looking forward to music from Black Panther for a new take on superhero music. (Yeah, I know these are two different comic universes)

My Overall Take

Wonder Woman was great. I still love her main theme and the new one created for this movie was enchanting. I hope that we will see her again in a sequel, and even if with the Justice League, I hope that she will continue to shine as a true contender in the superhero world of music.

budget worksheet and calculator

Budget 101: My Golden Rules

Happy payday (someone’s getting paid today)! Whether you’re paid bi-weekly, semi-monthly, monthly, quarterly, annually, etc. there is a routine that you should adopt in order to keep your finances organized. Each week of payday, I follow a routine that keeps me up to date with my bills and on track with my budget. Hopefully, my routine will motivate you to make some adjustments to your financial routine for the better.

Create and Revise Budget

make-that-budget

I always take the time to write out my budget before payday. If you are not salaried, a great way to track your hourly pay is through Paycheck City. I love using their tool because the expected taxed income is always accurate. With that, I list all of my bills and budget areas that I plan to cover that check. Most importantly, I compare my budget categories to plans I have coming up in that pay period. This way, I am prepared to cover any expenses associated with them well in advance. After the initial budget draft, I am always revising it until payday.

Check Bank Account 

The morning of each payday, I check my account. I know this seems very thirsty, but there’s a method to my madness. I’ve had a few occasions where payroll was not setup properly for my direct deposit. Consequently, my paycheck was not deposited into my account. Also, with paydays being on Friday, I could not expect any money into my account until Monday morning. You can believe I paid a visit to my job for an asap manual check, whether I was off or not.

So, the first step is to verify that the money is there! I also check my paycheck stub to make sure the numbers match. Especially in my job where I earned commissions, I wanted to see where extra funds came from. Once these things are verified, I take a final glance at my budget and adjust accordingly. One great financial tip that I try to stick to is making sure all my funds are accounted for. Allocating all of your funds discourages any deviation from the budget in fear of overdraft.

Allocating all of your funds discourages any deviation from the planned budget. #chicadvice #bchicu Click To Tweet

Manually Post Payments

After verifying my funds and solidifying my budget, it’s time to pay off these bills! Despite the conveniences, I opt out of automatic payments for a few reasons.

  1. There are fluctuations in my monthly bills.
  2. Varying pay dates each month are too inconsistent to safely automate.
  3. I want to closely track money in and out of my account.

Manually posting bills gives me complete control over the bill pay process. I still receive paperless bills and complete the same steps online. However, I avoid all automation. The only automatic bills I have are small subscriptions and I keep them on my credit card. I keep these separate because the bill amount is consistent each month and I know what to expect.

Set Aside Savings

save-that-money

Savings is such a crucial part of financial health, not to mention all the things it provides for long-term planning and security. I try to save around 10% of my income per check, but the key is saving something. There are times I’ll cut back but still put money away. I made a point to make this its own step because I am learning the true benefits of saving. Being able to take trips, buy a car, and move between states within a few short months were all possible due to my saving habits (and good timing). I place my savings into a separate account and make sure to track this before allocating any spending money to myself.

Set Aside Spending

Lastly, I set aside my spending money. As I said earlier, all money is accounted for in the budget. So at this point, I should balance out to $0 in my account (not including the carry over personal money that I did not spend from last month). I track my frivolous spending weekly to ensure I am within budget. Sometimes, I adjust my budget further to make sense of the money I have left (including that extra from the last paycheck). The goal is to stay within budget.

Track Payments

Since most of my bills are paid on Friday, none of the payments show up in my checking account until Monday or Tuesday of the next week. Again, in an attempt to prevent fraudulent activity and to track my own activity, I check my account once on Monday and Tuesday mornings for the automatic withdraws. These payments were made manually, but on the bank’s end, they are still considered automatic.

Another reason to double check deposits and withdraws are to double check your own errors. I have had instances in which I set the wrong payment date. This threw off my budget and more specifically, my spending money. Sometimes checking for that human error will save a headache in the future.

Check the Budget Again

With all necessities covered, I am able to look ahead. I tend to forget there is a whole two-week time span between pay periods and I be living this lavish life over the weekend after payday. Then I remember I have gas, food and events/activities the next week that I need to hold money onto for. So at the beginning of the next week, I will estimate how much spending money to allocate for the following week. By further itemizing my money, there is less likeliness that I will overspend in one week and fall into the vicious “living paycheck to paycheck” cycle.

Start Again

and-repeat-budget

Going into the second week, I begin to plan my next budget and we start all over! I have found these small details to be helpful and really keep me on track with my budget, keeping up with bills and maintaining a decent balance in my account at all times. Other things I do to stay organized are keeping folders in my email for all statements and payment confirmations, periodic debt tracker worksheets to get a snapshot of my bills, use the Qapital to boost my savings and use the Mint budget app to monitor my credit score.

Let me know if any of these tips help you out. I sure hope so!

job-hunt-strategies-title-photo

Job Hunting Strategies

In my last job hunting post, we discussed surefire strategies in developing the perfect resume, cover letter, and interview presentation. Now it’s time to delve deep into the actual job hunt. Looking for a new career these days can be exhausting. I remember hearing horror stories about needing to apply to 50 positions in order to hear back from 10…and most of those 10 are interview declinations! However, this process can be a lot less stressful with a bit of organization. In today’s post, we’ll go over those key strategies. And I promise they’re simple.

job-hunting-strategies

Identify your niche

The most important factors in my own job search were the type of position and company. Of course, I wanted a job, but I wanted to best fit, a good potential long-term career move. With that in mind, I narrowed down my location, company types and position title keywords.

You want to do the same when identifying how to go about your job search. Identify your location, company types (think industry), and 5-10 keywords that would appear in the position. This does not include words like a manager, coordinator, assistant, etc. You want to use words that relate to your skills such as marketing, digital, counseling, etc.

Choose Your Search Engines

Find just a handful of trustworthy job searching sites and create accounts with them, as well as signing up for email notifications. You will become inundated with tons of emails but these will do some of the heavy lifting for you. The key part is that you only use about 3-5 sites. I’ve found in my own research that many sites have the same listings and other not so reputable ones will spam your email with less desirable positions. I recommend using LinkedIn Premium (use the trial and then cancel), Glassdoor, and Indeed. There are also local listing sites. I used milwaukeejobs.com for my job search in Milwaukee, WI of course.

Consistency is Key

The most effective way to gather postings of your liking will be to check in on a consistent basis. I did an active search weekly. This allows you to be consistent with your job search, enough time for new postings to populate, and time to tweak your resume. The goal is to find at least 5 promising positions, per week, and tailor your resume and cover letter to each. This takes quite some time, so a week should do. Keep track of all of your findings and notes in this Job Tracker form.

Details Matter

With every application that you submit, there must be special attention paid to the details. Your cover letter must be specific to the position, and so should your resume. Contrary to popular belief, your resume should always be tweaked and tailored to where you apply. Hiring managers are looking for key characteristics and buzz words that match their open position. If you think that you’re a match but the details in your resume do not line up, you need to go back to the drawing board. Present yourself in every document that you submit as the perfect candidate for that job! This step takes time, so that’s why you have the whole week to complete your applications.

Follow Up

In a few cases, I decided to follow up with the hiring manager/job posting contact regarding their selection process. However, this should not be considered common place. This is only for instances in which you’ve been in contact with them before or a posting that you are very very interested in and you have received no correspondence (including a simple confirmation email) for weeks. I found that jobs can wait up to 4 weeks (!) just to get back to you for an interview (and even a generic declination). However, if you do receive positive responses, feel free to follow up weekly in between responses to keep the process moving.

Trust the Process

Landing an interview, finding a job, and starting a new career is a stressful and tedious process. It can take weeks and even months to land a solid job. However, keeping track of your progress and efforts will assist you in the process as you await those coveted responses. Follow the advice from this post if you want to be more strategic and intentional about landing a good job. Stay tuned for my next post about key skills to have at your new job!

Goals and milestones featured photo

Set Goals, Crush Milestones Part II: Plans Change

This post was originally published on Columbia College Chicago’s Graduate Blog, Marginalia.


Things never go as planned. Somehow, things still pan out how they are supposed to. I don’t think I achieved a single goal that I discussed in my first blog post on Marginalia (and on B Chic), and I do not feel bad about it. I’ve gained so many valuable experiences in this last year at Columbia College Chicago that would replace every plan I had. You’ll see that all of my achievements reflect an experience that relates to my goal even if it did not help me achieve it specifically.

Goals and milestones featured photo

Continue reading “Set Goals, Crush Milestones Part II: Plans Change”

Leaving a Legacy: Successful Leadership Tranisiton

Leaving A Legacy: Successful Leadership Transition

I graduated this weekend with my Masters in Arts Management from Columbia College Chicago. I’m still letting that sink in. What an exciting time to be at a crossroads, going from full-time student to full-time employee. Not everything went as planned, but plans unfold the way they do for a reason and in its own season. One thing I did have control over though, was my legacy. Before leaving Columbia, I saw the need for my contirbutions and impact to continue past my graduation. How does one do that? How can you make this work for your own legacy, at school or on the job?

Leaving A Legacy Title Photo

Build Relationships

The most productive way to ensure long-term impact is by developing meaningful relationships. No, I’m not asking you to cross the workplace relationship line, but showing a general interest in someone can go a long way.

Communication is….you guessed it…key! Probably one of the hardest parts when it comes to working with a group, yet most productive when done correctly. Most people (including me) want to be heard but hardly wants to listen. Everyone takes a look at the world from their perspective but hardly takes the time to view it from other’s eyes. When you’re able to see what others do and identify their strengths, you can work more effectively together.

Relationships = Legacy Building

How does this all tie into leaving a legacy? The best way to impact change is by impacting people. I love the quote, “Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.” Developing strong relationships with others, while bringing out their best, will resonate with them forever.

The best way to impact change is by impacting people. Click To Tweet

Here are a few practical implications for ensuring a smooth transition. Although making connections is key, there are key logistical things you can do to ensure seamless communication from you to the next person. The advice is applicable for job positions, organization leadership, or general group transition where you would like your ideas to be carried on.

Leave Great Notes

In my first organization position as secretary, I developed a leadership guide. I was the first to provide this and it was literally detailed notes of everything I did in my role. By simply providing contact information, general timelines, and our roster the next year kicked off without a hitch. Passing along notes can make the biggest difference in the world. For early organizations that are still establishing processes, this is a great first step.

Establish A Shared Drive

As an executive board member of my sorority at the collegiate level, I had the opportunity to operate within an organization that followed Roberts Rules of Order. Through that organization, I understood the importance of proper note taking and organizing documents in a shared file. We used Yahoo Files at the time, but that system is a bit dated. I recommend any project management system such as Google Drive, Asana, Trello, Slack, Basecamp, etc. Providing a “home base” for files that can be accessed by varying people throughout the years can be invaluable. I was able to access files for reference in 2013 from members who transitioned in 2010. If you operate in a role or team that naturally manages lots of membership turnover, this is the best option.

Create A Constitution & Bylaws

Certain organizations just need a general structure of procedures outlined. The new leadership will reference it to run general activities in their own way. Through Student Government at Lewis University, I was able to develop a Constitution and Bylaws that served as guiding documents for the next group. Although these vague and hyper-generalized, it provides a framework for the next person taking over your responsibilities. For groups that face many external factors that may change general operations drastically (such as an external overseeing body), broad guiding documents such as these will be applicable.

Provide An Implementation Guide

Lastly, at Columbia College Chicago, my team developed an Implementation Guide for the upcoming leadership team of Startup Weekend Chicago Creative. We saw the need to share our best practices, contacts, and general timeline information to assist the next team. Something like this with more detail and guidance is perfect for a group taking on a complex project as newcomers.

Do This Too!

Lastly, here are a few applicable points for all of these scenarios:

  • Have a meeting or remote conference call to officially transfer responsibilities and answer questions
  • Provide open communication for a set time after the transition has happened to answer any other questions
  • Keep in touch as a professional contact, you never know what your relationship can offer down the line.

Want more information on organizing leadership transition or leaving a legacy in your position? Check out our webinars page.

Do you have any helpful tips on transitioning roles? Leaving a legacy? Post it in the comments!

tax refund planning

5 Smart Ways to Spend (Save) Your Tax Refund

Congratulations! You’ve finished your tax return and you’re now patiently waiting for the tax refund to hit your bank account or mailbox. What are you going to do with that money? Do you already have plans on impulse spending most of it? If so, please stop. Like, really. Read this post and consider a few more responsible options. I want to help you make the best decision for your long-term financial health.

To keep things simple, I’ve devised a list of just five alternatives to spending your tax refund. Those are saving (duh), diversification (the non-investment type), loan interest payments, continued education and investing.

tax refund title photo

Tax Refund Option #1: Savings

I know this isn’t the sexiest option but savings come in handy. Whether you’re at a “struggling college student” state or have a pretty cushioned job with steady cash flow coming in, savings can and will come in handy when you least and most expect it.

Side story: A few months ago I requested a weekend off from work and also got sick another day within the same week. Mind you, I was only part-time when this happened, so no PTO for me. My plans were thrown way off and the following check was soooo sad. I had to dip into my savings for monthly expenditures, but I was ABLE to dip into my savings because I had it. Therefore, I was prepared for this unexpected moment and didn’t miss a beat with my finances.

But also, there are tons of dreams that we all have that savings can help us reach. I grabbed this info from the Forbes Level Up e-newsletter and I found it very enlightening…

“Escaping debt and saving money are key, so commit to setting aside cash whenever possible: $35,329 for getting married, $45,000 for buying a home, $233,610 for raising a child, $35,000 for grad school or $30,000 for starting a business.”

That’s a lot of money right? A windfall from something like your tax refund will put you on the right path to reaching these hefty spending goals others.

Tax Refund Option #2: Diversification

This is my favorite option because you still get to have a little fun with your money spending wise. I’m definitely a proponent for spending. It stimulates the economy right? And we don’t want another recession right? As long as it’s not “on credit”, you’re good. However, there still needs to be an element of long-term financial health within your decision. Think of your rent or mortgage payment as an example. You’re not going to pay just half of it at the beginning of the month with the expectation of that being good for the whole month, right? You will make the full investment in return for the security that you’re housing is set for the entire month.

This is a very simple and juvenile example but that’s how essential you should look at your immediate and far-off financial future. If there are family trips, annual vacations, big ticket wishlist items all on your “money to-do list”, you have to make the investment TODAY to get things rolling.

With that being said, this option is more flexible for those who have many financial goals that need a head start. Consider the following:

  • 20% spending
  • 50% savings
  • 30% towards big ticket wishlist items

Tax Refund Option #3: (Student) Loan Interest Payment

Most of us, unfortunately, have to worry about good ole’ Sallie Mae and returning to her what helped us earn our degrees. One thing that most of us forget is the interest that accumulated over those years! This raises your loan debt significantly and draws out your repayments as well. If this is of big concern to you and you want to pay down your student loan debt ASAP, apply part or all of your tax refund to the loan interest. Even better, if you are already making post-graduation payments, you can make payments on the principal. By making additional payments to your principal loan, your overall money due and added interest will be lower as well. You’re welcome.

Tax Refund Option #4: Continued Education

I know that more school is the last thing you want to hear about, but hear me out! Obtaining an additional degree, certification or program/software proficiency can have positive effects on your career growth. Want to make yourself indispensable at work? Or maybe even earn a salary increase by December? Level up your skillset! This can be done through classes at your local community college, joining a concentration on Coursera, completing a full skills course on Lynda, or simply Youtubing a topic all day. This sometimes takes a fiscal commitment, especially if you want something more formal and reputable than Youtube. What better way to put your tax refund to good use by investing in your career?

Tax Refund Option #5: Invest

These are both topics that are not too popular with 20-somethings and even millennials as a whole, and it should be! I’m sure you know, but the earlier you start saving and investing, the larger the payout will come at retirement. I don’t know about you, but I plan on chilling come like 50! That’s only possible if I hardcore invest and save starting now! The key to growing your hard earned small paychecks is by turning around and investing it. This provides the largest return in today’s economy.

Investing can be such an abstract topic but there are groups out there dedicated to making it simple and worthwhile for anyone! I really like Acorns and Ellevest. Acorns allow you to invest small amounts from everyday spending and Ellevest helps women outline an investing portfolio based on savings goals. They both also have awesome blogs with financial advice.

Tax Refund Bonus Option: New Business Idea

I am also a big fan of entrepreneurialism and supporting it. If you have a cool idea that you’d like to pursue, using your tax refund as an initial investment may be that small push you need. It can be daunting to look at startup costs even for a small, online business. However, having the extra funds to take that step may pay off in the long run once you start making money from it!

Tax Refunds Are For Investing

A theme you can probably trace throughout the blog post is to invest into your future with your tax refund. It may seem more glamorous for 2.5 seconds to spend it all on things you’ve been drooling over, but the investment is well worth it. Who knows, maybe when next year’s tax refund comes in, you won’t be in dire need of spending it, but it’ll add to your long-term investment all the more!

So now that you have these skills I challenge you! Create your ideal budget for your tax refund and determine how it will contribute to your long-term financial health. If you’ve received it already and made your decisions, double back and see how successful you were. Are there other ways you can improve your long-term financial health? Tweet me your new goals once you’re done!

Checklist, You Saved My Sanity


March 14, 2017, I had a mental breakdown. I was slouched over in the office of my professor stressing out about an upcoming large-scale event on campus. I’m usually calm and collected, the one organized person during the craziest time of the semester. However, this time, I was hours away from jetting off to SXSW from Chicago and nowhere near prepared to leave all of my responsibilities behind. This was the result of very poor planning. So how did I overcome it? It was very simple and I have to share it with you! This will help you get your life together…for real this time!

Continue reading “Checklist, You Saved My Sanity”

From Resume to Interview: Landing A Job Post Graduation

Open up your resume file, polish off your business suit, and let’s get to it! It’s that inevitable time of year again, the time where graduating students must polish their resumes and prepare for job interviews after graduation. The May/June date is looming and no one wants to boast a degree along with unemployment. This post is designed to hopefully ease your nerves and offer up a few resources on nailing the application/interview process that lies ahead.

Continue reading “From Resume to Interview: Landing A Job Post Graduation”

New York Offers Free 4-Year Tuition

This past week, the state of New York has managed to pass a new budget in favor of offering free tuition for in-state, full-time students. That sounds like sweet music to the ears for all of us knee-deep-in-debt college students. But what are the tradeoffs? If this is a great offer, how many other states are sure to follow?

Continue reading “New York Offers Free 4-Year Tuition”

College Class Registration: The Semi-Annual Draft

In the spirit of college classes registration, I wanted to share some of my thoughts on registering for the next semester. Each semester there is the onset of anxiety to get into the college classes we desire. The fear is very much so justified. Classes fill up fast, certain people have priority access and darn those required classes!

Continue reading “College Class Registration: The Semi-Annual Draft”