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Pittsburgh Roller Derby Stars Talk Financial Strategy

The Steel City Roller Derby organization is Pittsburgh’s only all-female roller derby league, and these ladies are tough as nails. In the game of roller derby there is pushing, shoving, jamming, whipping, and blocking. It is a game of not just mental strategy, but physical stamina as well!

However, even the toughest athletes face every day personal finance decisions and challenges. That is why we decided to ask 3 of the toughest roller derby players in the league (Ally McKill, Inga Knee'her, and River Kyx) how they like to score success when it comes to personal finance. Here is what we learned!

steel city roller derbyAlly McKill
1. What is one of your favorite ways to save money or suggestions to block debt?
To save money: find a way to do it that's easy for you. For example: when I was trying to save money for down payment on a home, I had an investment account that took money out of my paycheck automatically every month. I didn't have to think about it, and it went directly to my savings. I also use online banking to put money into savings, very easy and convenient for a busy person like me. To block debt: My stance is that a certain amount of debt, as long as you can manage it, isn't a bad thing. I've had student loan payments since graduating law school so it's something I'm prepared to live with. However, I did my homework and found the best loan consolidation rates, which has helped me save a lot of money in interest. So my advice would be, if you do have to take on debt, be prepared. Don't take on debt unless you have done your research and know you can manage it.

2. When managing your personal finances do you take a more offensive or defensive strategy? For example, do you see yourself as more of an aggressive investor or a conservative saver? Why?
I would say more defensive, only because I am fairly risk-averse (not what you expected from a roller derby player, right?). I like the ability to control where my money goes and not have to worry about something beyond my control wiping me out.

3. If you looked back at your early experiences with money would you give yourself a penalty or winning points? Why?
My early experiences with money are a bit of a mixed bag. The good: as a college student, I worked at keeping my expenses down and took part time jobs so I didn't have to take out extra student loans. The bad: credit cards! I think this is a trap a lot of young adults fall into. Luckily, I didn't go too overboard, and once I was out of school and had a full-time job, I was able to pay everything off eventually. But thinking of all the money I paid out in interest makes me cringe.


steel city roller derbyInga Knee’her
1. What is one of your favorite ways to save money or suggestions to block debt?
I hate dealing with money, so I do it as little as possible. I’ve automated everything I can; when my paycheck comes in, it automatically goes to retirement accounts, savings accounts, and a spending account. I don’t even have to think about it, so I can devote that energy to more important things!

As for blocking debt, I think the most important thing is to decide what’s important to you, and only spend on those things. For example, I’ll drop $500 on new skates, but I wouldn’t spend $500 on a new TV. The skates I would love, use constantly, and appreciate. The TV I couldn’t care less about – I don’t even have cable. My friends think it’s weird.

2. When managing your personal finances do you take a more offensive or defensive strategy? For example, do you see yourself as more of an aggressive investor or a conservative saver? Why?
As a blocker, I have to play offense and defense. When I’m on my best game, I can do both at the same time. I try to treat my finances this way, too. Since I have a long time until I plan to retire, I can afford to be more aggressive with less risk than someone who’s older. But on the other hand, I have short term goals too so it’s important to have diversity. You can’t play derby and expect to win if you only know one type of block.


3. If you looked back at your early experiences with money would you give yourself a penalty or winning points? Why?
I started working pretty young but I didn’t have a great understanding of money until I bought my first car on my own when I was in college. I had estimated my budget for a monthly payment based on how much I made at my part time jobs, but I was so clueless. It was so scary the first time I realized I might not have enough to make my payment. I didn’t want to mess up my parents credit and I wasn’t about to ask them for money, either. Instead, I just stopped spending money. I didn’t go out for drinks with my friends or buy anything that wasn’t absolutely essential. I worked as many hours as I could at my jobs. And guess what – I made my payment! Every time. That experience was so important because it made me realize how scary it was to be in debt, and that I wasn’t going to live my life that way. I give myself winning points for that.


steel city roller derbyRiver Kyx:
1. What is one of your favorite ways to save money or suggestions to block debt?
A super easy way – and probably the one I use the most – is to have your savings be automatic. Deposit a portion of your paycheck directly into a savings account or money market account. Sign up for your company’s retirement plan – often times the company will match your contributions and that’s “free money”. If you’re trying to pay down debt – set up an automatic payment for a little extra amount every month to pay it off.

2. When managing your personal finances do you take a more offensive or defensive strategy? For example, do you see yourself as more of an aggressive investor or a conservative saver? Why?
Honestly, I’m more in the middle of offense and defense. I do have my savings set up to be automatic but my husband and I also have a small portion of our household finances put into an investment account that we “play the market” with; which is a more aggressive strategy.

3. If you looked back at your early experiences with money would you give yourself a penalty or winning points? Why?
When I was younger I definitely was not as smart with my finances. I’d probably consider it a minor penalty, not great but not bad enough to send me off the track. Using the automatic savings/debt payment strategy has definitely improved my household finances.


More about the players.

Name: Ally McKill (Jamie Fargo)
Team affiliation: Steel Hurtin' – Captain 2011 & 2012
Position(s): Pivot and Blocker. Primarily pivot, occasionally Blocker 2 or 3
Committee Involvement: Recruitment (Head), Rules and Training & Skills (member). I have been a WFTDA rep since 2008 currently serving as a mentor to WFTDA apprentice leagues. I handle all WFTDA voting on behalf of our league. Secretary on the BOD from 2008-2011.
Awards Received/Nominated for: Nominated for Most Feared, Most Penalties, Hardest Hitter, Busy Beaver, and Winner MVP Pivot Steel Hurtin' 2011
Athletic Background: Roller derby is my first foray into organized team sports, though as a child and teen I competed in individual sports. I was an avid gymnast and dancer growing up and in high school I played tennis and skied recreationally. I was also a cheerleader through grade and high school which has, oddly enough, come in handy since the Steel Hurtin' does quite a bit of pyramid building!
Origin of Skater Name: I picked the name Ally McKill because I wanted something representative of my legal background. I didn't really watch Ally McBeal but there aren't a whole lot of famous lawyers out there so I figured it was as good a choice as any!


Name: Inga Knee’her (Gale Hauck)
Team Affiliation: Steel Hurtin’
Position(s): Blocker and Jammer
Committee Involvement: Practice Coordination and Recruitment
Awards Received/Nominated for: Won the “Grade A” award for most promising fresh meat. On behalf of all the meat, she’d like to thank every skater that taught us, encouraged us, befriended us, or otherwise helped us in pursuing our derby dreams!
Athletic Background: I spent nearly two decades of my life as a figure skater, and often dreamed wistfully of playing roller derby. I took a decade-long hiatus from skating before discovering roller derby in Pittsburgh in 2010 and joining the league.
Origin of Skater Name: I am an engineer. Part of the name is making fun of how some people pronounce engineer, but the other part is a reference to my heritage, since Inga is a traditional Swedish name. :)
Hobbies: Sewing, Minor Construction, and World Travel


Name: River Kyx (Maria O’Brien)
Team Affiliation: Co-Captain B-Unit
Position(s): Jammer
Committee Involvement: Financial Management, Merchandise
Athletic Background: As a kid, I was much more a band geek than an athlete. My only organized team sport was in synchronized swimming in high school and my freshman year in college. Until I found roller derby I was constantly signing up for long road races to force myself to run for exercise. Roller derby has helped tremendously in that now I have something to work out for – so my interest in training has gone way up.
Origin of Skater Name: It actually comes from several different sources. I’m a water rat and loved the idea of incorporating that into my name. Greek/Roman mythology helped with the play on words and I’m an avid fan of the short-lived television series Firefly. My number pays tribute to 3 rivers of Pittsburgh.
Day Job: Accountant
Favorite Foods: Mashed Potatoes
Hobbies: You mean other than this one? If I have time, hiking and white water rafting
Weird Quirks: Despite the fact that I grew up as the computer age was starting to take over and have a SmartPhone, I still insist on keeping my calendar in an old-fashioned planner
Special Talents: I’m pretty good at remembering dates and numbers
Favorite Quote: I have way too many of these to list one as my favorite. One that I like right now is “Every artist was first an amateur.” by Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

 

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