Q&A with Diania Merriam, Founder at EconoMe LLC

Diania Merriam, Founder at EconoMe LLC, is an ambitious marketing professional with a passion for building brand longevity through strategic licensing partnerships and brand extensions. She like to earn through licensing and has become very enthusiastic about how she manages that money.

Personal finance is a very personal thing, and so exposing yourself to various viewpoints on different money matters is the best way to come to your own conclusions.


MEDIA 7: EconoMe 2021, all set to be held on November 13th and 14th at The University of Cincinnati, explores the concept of reclaiming the American Dream. What inspired you to create EconoMe LLC which shares the idea of financial independence with your audience?
DIANIA MERRIAM:
The EconoMe Conference is the first large-scale event rooted in the FIRE movement (financial independence, retire early). I created this event because the discovery of the FIRE movement completely changed my life over the last 6 years: I got out of $30k of debt in 11 months, started saving/investing 60% of my income, bought a house, was able to take a 2-month sabbatical from work to walk the Camino de Santiago (a 500-mile trek across Spain), and self-fund my business. EconoMe originated from me asking myself the question, “What would I do with my time if I no longer needed to work for money?”. I decided I wanted to create a party about money!  This was something I thought I would do once I reached financial independence, but I got so excited about it that I couldn’t wait. I’m a huge fan of in-person events, and often when I attend an inspirational event, I leave feeling like my life is so full of possibility. I wanted to create something that would allow other people to feel that way about their money.

The EconoMe Conference is not a stuffy financial workshop, we strive to be as entertaining as we are informed. We have an incredible lineup of mainstage speakers that address tactical topics like how to address student loan debt, the cost of healthcare, and side hustles.  We also have more inspirational speakers that share their personal experiences of reaching financial independence.  But what really sets us apart is that we recognize the power of community, physically being together, and connecting with others who are willing to discuss the taboo topic of money. There are a ton of resources online that can help you learn what you need to know about personal finance. And there are also a ton of online communities where you can digitally connect with others. I’ve seen in my own life that nothing can replace the magic that happens when you meet in person. This is why it’s more fun to watch a movie with a big crowd vs. watching it alone at home. The energy in the room can make it a totally different experience. And that’s what we’re striving for at EconoMe… it’s a VIBE… down to every detail: the music, the lighting, the space, the activities, and the endless opportunities to connect with others.


M7: The EconoMe conference aspires to help people claim their right to a new American Dream. Can you tell us more about this vision and how it is different from the concept we have been familiar with?
DM:
The American Dream originated as an idea where every person has the right to pursue his or her own unique version of happiness.  But over time, it devolved into a set of societal expectations rooted in consumerism and upheld by the lack of autonomy that occurs when you work a typical 9 to 5 until you are 65.  The financial independence community recognizes that money can buy time and freedom from the rat race just as much as it can buy stuff.  We believe happiness comes from freedom, creativity, and community.  We want more self-directed time, more mental space, and more connection with the people we love.  At EconoMe, we come together to question our assumptions about happiness, freedom, and prosperity through the lens of personal finance.  And we recognize that building wealth is one of the best ways to reclaim autonomy over our time.


I believe it all starts with awareness: get a clear understanding of where you are now financially so that you can come up with a plan to save and invest more.



M7: Can you please briefly tell us about the FIRE movement and its growing importance today?
DM:
The FIRE movement is a lifestyle movement with the goal of financial freedom.  I think what sets FIRE apart from general personal finance is the aggressiveness in which it applies basic principles, it’s like financial literacy on steroids. For example, a pillar of good money management is to spend less than you earn.  Proponents of FIRE will discuss endless ways to increase income and reduce expenses in order to make the funds available for saving and investing as high as possible.  While most financial advisors will recommend saving 10-20% of income for retirement, those pursuing FIRE will typically save/invest 50% or more.  What sets FIRE followers apart is not the type of investments: many are DIY investors in low fee total market index funds or real estate.

The key differentiator between those pursuing financial independence and early retirement vs. anyone who ever wants to retire is the savings rate.  The pursuit of FI is a worthy endeavor even for people who have no interest in retiring early, because it’s the intentional process of separating your finances from your work.  Financial stability not tied to employment is a powerful safety net that creates many options: early retirement is just one of them.


M7: In your podcast ‘Optimal Finance Daily’, you bring to your readers inspirational and relevant information on a variety of topics like personal development, finance and more. How do you choose topics that are most informative for your listeners?
DM:
Optimal Finance Daily is a narration-style podcast where I read from some of the best personal finance blogs on the planet, sometimes a little too enthusiastically, in 10 minutes or less every single day. We cover a broad range of topics from money mindset, saving, getting out of debt, frugality, investing, and so much more. It’s as if all these brilliant bloggers wrote these great songs, and I get to perform the covers!  The show is perfect for people who want to get broad exposure to personal finance topics but don’t want to keep up with the hundreds of blogs that are available. Personal finance is a very personal thing, and so exposing yourself to various viewpoints on different money matters is the best way to come to your own conclusions.  For example, some personal finance experts believe renting is throwing away money while others believe that home ownership is not a good investment.  Depending on specific circumstances and context, they both could be right!


Financial stability not tied to employment is a powerful safety net that creates many options: early retirement is just one of them.



M7: According to you, how should an average person begin their journey to financial independence?
DM:
I believe it all starts with awareness: get a clear understanding of where you are now financially so that you can come up with a plan to save and invest more.  I began by running a credit report on myself and fully understanding my collective debt. I then began tracking all my spending and looking at ways I could easily reduce my expenses without it feeling like deprivation.  From there, I developed a realistic budget that I could track against and fine-tune. Once I got a handle on where my money was going (rather than wondering where it went), I could see that I wasn’t getting a lot of value out of my mindless spending.  I reallocated that money by aggressively throwing it at my debt. I used a debt reduction calculator to plan out how I would attack my debt by focusing on the highest interest rate debt first.  After digging out of debt and building a comfortable emergency fund, I started investing aggressively and focused first on fully funding my tax-advantaged retirement vehicles (401k, Roth IRA, and HSA).


M7: When you are not working, what are you seen doing? Would you like to share your hobbies with us?
DM:
Most weekends I can be found doing some long-distance hiking at the many trails around Cincinnati.  I also cook almost every meal I eat, host dinner parties often, and love to read.  My 80 lb lab shepard mix named Buddy is always at my side!

ABOUT ECONOME LLC

EconoMe LLC was formed to launch The EconoMe Conference, a two-day event at the University of Cincinnati. The EconoMe Conference has roots in the FIRE movement (Financial Independence, Retire Early) which is a lifestyle movement with the goal of financial freedom. Diania Merriam, the founder of EconoMe LLC, was motivated to start a conference after the pursuit of FIRE changed her life.  EconoMe produces content and events to inspire and educate people on the path to financial independence.

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Synechron | February 02, 2024

Synechron, Inc., a leading global digital transformation consulting firm focused on financial services and technology organizations, announces the launch of its Synechron Nexus suite of nine Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions that are ready to be deployed within weeks. This array of generative AI-led solutions was designed to span the nexus between human expertise and AI, while enabling users to automate manually intensive tasks, increase project speed, drive operational efficiencies, and reduce costs across various key business tasks. Each solution, divided among three value streams, allows Synechron clients to improve their operations, reduce friction in their processes and boost productivity. Business Growth: Practical, innovative applications that enhance business capabilities Synechron Amplifai is a GenAI-powered market research solution. Its automated research capability saves significant time in a wide range of use-cases, reducing the tedium of gathering, analyzing and reporting market news, trends and strategies. Synechron Clarifai is a tool for summarizing and analyzing call-center transcripts. Conversations are flagged for non-compliance and further human review/actions. Synechron Simplifai centralizes project portfolio data and metrics for streamlined executive decision-making, informing effortless, data-backed decisions for executive and steering committee groups. Operational Efficiency: Advanced solutions to streamline processes and elevate internal operations Synechron Nexus Chat is built on a conversational AI model, understands and engages in a comprehensive range of scenarios and supports plug-ins for real-time data and integration, while delivering human-like conversational responses and text, safely and securely. Synechron Replai is an AI-driven, RFP and proposals tool, streamlining proposal creation with high-quality, insightful responses, with the ability to search the internal knowledge repository for fast access and content re-use. Synechron Unifai is an AI-driven HR solution, designed to simplify interactions between company HR functions and employees, such as policy information and employee-specific payroll details. Synechron Identifai collects comprehensive online market intelligence and provides an in-depth understanding of business, emerging technology trends, or any research topic. Developer Productivity: Toolkit to optimize timelines, minimize costs, and automate practices across the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) Synechron Codifai is an SDLC productivity improvement tool, using automation in code generation, unit test case generation, legacy code migration, code optimizations, and automatic code documentation. It works closely with Synechron Verifai which addresses software testing aspects. Synechron Verifai is a GenAI tool for SDLC productivity, using automation in code generation with a focus on QA test case generation, automated test script generation, synthetic test data generation, and bug detection and bug fixing. It works closely with Synechron Codifai which addresses software development efficiency. This new Synechron Nexus AI suite of real-world, practical business solutions, combined with the five formalized RiskTech.AI Accelerators (launched in October 2023), leverages Synechron's AI Practice expertise globally. The creation of AI-led business solutions has been a passion of Synechron's for over a decade, and the firm's commitment to innovative excellence has won the firm eight prestigious AI industry awards to date. Faisal Husain, Synechron's Co-founder and CEO, said of the launch of the Synechron Nexus AI Suite of solutions, "We are proud to be releasing this extensive array of AI-enhanced solutions that go beyond the hype, and provide significant, tangible benefits to business operations. AI and GenAI-rich tools are not just ideas we offer to our clients, but key process accelerators that we ourselves at Synechron are deploying across our company, as we offer ways to integrate the benefits of this technology with human expertise." Ryan Cox, Co-head of Synechron's AI Practice in the UK, added, "Our team has developed, tested, and successfully integrated these advanced AI solutions. Our approach is to strategically guide our clients to integrate AI effectively within their business processes. We identify the key areas where AI can bring the most impact, aligning our solutions to their unique business needs. This targeted approach ensures significant value creation with maximum benefit." Prabhakar Srinivasan, Co-head of Synechron's AI Practice in Bangalore, India, commented, "Artificial Intelligence has proven to be a wonderful force for driving business enhancements by quickly synthesizing extraordinarily large data sets. The Large Language Models used learn over short span of time on how to optimize each firm's proprietary information, thereby boosting productivity and allowing businesses to realize time and cost savings as they optimize tasks." About Synechron At Synechron, we believe in the power of digital to transform businesses for the better. Our global consulting firm combines creativity and innovative technology to deliver industry-leading digital solutions. Synechron's progressive technologies and optimization strategies span end-to-end Artificial Intelligence, Consulting, Digital, Cloud & DevOps, Data, and Software Engineering, servicing an array of noteworthy financial services and technology firms. Through research and development initiatives in our FinLabs we develop solutions for modernization, from Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain to Data Science models, Digital Underwriting, mobile-first applications and more. Over the last 20+ years, our company has been honored with multiple employer awards, recognizing our commitment to our talented teams. With top clients to boast about, Synechron has a global workforce of 15,000+, and has 48 offices in 19 countries within key global markets.

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