November 22, 2017

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash
I did a recent Instagram poll that asked if you wanted to see more about my journey through paying down (and OFF) my debt. Many of you (100% of you actually) were on board and gave a resounding "YES", which was exhilarating and terrifying. See, I am a brand-new on this eliminate debt train. If anything, I was all aboard the sister train of the eliminate debt train, heading at blazing speed in the opposite direction called the "buy all I can and don't care about it" train. That train has since stopped running. Thank the heavens!

I thought I would give a little more insight into my situation and maybe inspire some of you to start your own financial wellness journey, because that's exactly what it is. Your financial wellness is just as important as your physical, spiritual, and emotional wellness. If my financial life is in ruins, you can bet other aspects of my life are going up in flames as well. Money connects us to everything, as much as I hate to admit that. It's true.

Growing up my parents did not budget. I never saw them sit down and look over the expenses for the month or have a detailed discussion on how they would pay for my cheer uniform or private tumbling lessons. When I was in high school I worked part time during my senior year. I would leave school at 11:30 and work between 5 and 9 hours a day at Chick-Fil-A.Truth be known, my check was cashed and two hours later, it was all spent. After all, I didn't pay for a car, or insurance, or cell phone bill.

Fast forward to college when I bought my own clothes, but my parent still supported me. My last year of college I took on my monthly car payment and car insurance. I still had no concept of a budget, or of needing to save money. If I needed something, I called my parents.

When I was married, it hit me pretty hard that I was now on my own. I obsessed over my bank account, my expenses, everything. The first couple of months we didn't have cable or internet. We just needed to find some footing before adding on other expenses. We were pretty frugal, but we still spent more than we should have. Still no savings and my 401k was just starting to build. As time went on, our income would become unsteady. Around the last year of our marriage, the credit cards started, and they didn't end. We put groceries, unexpected trips, gas, eating out, pretty much everything on credit cards. I had two credit cards, and after my divorce, paid them off. I now have several credit cards. A small bad decision led to bigger ones, and here I am today. I am not a finance blogger and while I've made some really good steps this year, I am nowhere near complete with this process.

Here are the steps I have taken that I will expand on in the next few months:

1. Opened a savings account for automated deposits.
2. Took on a part-time job that helps me earn between $150-$200 a week.
3. Set up a monthly budget with the EveryDollar app (created by Dave Ramsey).
4. Consolidated all credit card and personal loan debt into one monthly payment. This was done through Greenpath, and I can't recommend them enough. They work on your behalf to lower your payments and your interest rate so the payment is more manageable.
5. Temporarily ceased contribution to my 403b to save up an emergency fund. Ideally, this would be 3 months worth of expenses.
6. Stopped using credit for EVERYTHING and only use cash.
7. Pay all monthly bills at once with my monthly paycheck, and pay all weekly bills with weekly paycheck.
8. Started using Ebates to earn me cash back on purchases I would make anyway. Since I am without a credit card and can't redeem cash back, this is the next best thing! Click here to get $10 automatically by setting up an account with Ebates! **affiliate link

I will share more of my strategies in upcoming blog posts. Since this is taking up so much of my brain right now, I may share multiple times a week. I really would like to inspire and motivate others so we can be there for each other. This process is hard and it doesn't happen over night. Let's get some support going!


November 2, 2017

I was born and raised in Georgia and although I had a four year stint in Alabama, I didn't have to prepare in the same ways I did when moving to Nashville this year. Moving out of state can be stressful and the logistics can be quite overwhelming. I anticipated so much anxiety about my move, but I honestly have done really well considering. It's been a little over 8 months and I feel as though I am still learning so much about this new city.

I had only visited Nashville once before I applied to work at Belmont University. I remembered the city being full of hustle and bustle, but I was also on Broadway (eye roll). Trust me, there is WAY more to Nashville than the honky tonks and bars on Broadway. This city actually has a lot of culture and a lot of things to explore. Its a music hub, but also a hub for local art, culinary delights, and the great outdoors! Have I sold you, yet?

When I decided to relocate out of state I was concerned with two things. 1. Housing and 2. Cost. Obviously, these things are super important because if you are like me, your budget is very limited!

Here are 10 things I learned when moving out of state.

1. Housing is your primary concern, so make it your primary priority. 
If you are coming to a new place and literally have two weeks to find housing, you need to start in the obvious places. Google and Facebook! I ended up finding my first living situation via Facebook and it was a God send! It was a house with two other roommates, rent and utilities included, and a decent commute. I wouldn't have chosen that location on my own, but it definitely helped me in the beginning. Don't be totally sold on your first place. Even think about doing a short-term lease. Unless you've really lived there, you won't know how it will work for you. Also, Google apartments or houses in the area and see what pops up.

2. Be willing to be flexible. 
Again, you may not find your perfect apartment right away. You may even be able to do something as temporary as a hotel. For me, I needed all of my belongings up here and somewhere to put them.

3. Embrace homesickness and loneliness. 
I tried like heck to feel all the emotions that comes with leaving a familiar place, job, friends, and family. I didn't isolate myself, but I didn't hit the town running either. I wanted to feel all of those things so I could move on and get on with my new life as quickly as possible.

4. Do some exploring.
Always find out about your surroundings and do a little aimless driving. You never know what you may come across.

5. Budget, budget, and budget. 
Always determine what you can spend on moving expenses before you hammer down an apartment. I ended up having my dad move everything for me, and I was fortunate he could make the drive in one day. If you're moving across country, you may not have that luxury. Sell all you can, downsize if you need to, and donate unused or unnecessary items. It's always easier to move less!

6. Ask around. 
When I got to my new job, I asked all of my co-workers about everything. I asked about food, cleaners, auto mechanics, doctors, etc. Chances are they will know a lot and be willing to help you out since they are your amazing new co-workers.

7. Find a church or social club. 
I am still working on this one, but it's always good to surround yourself with like-minded people. Find a church or try, or other social organizations. You may find your new bestie!

8. Keep in touch. 
Once I moved away I had to find time and ways to keep connected with my friends from back home. We FaceTime, get on House Party, and text as much as we can. It helps me to feel like I am in a familiar place and gives me that sense of comfort!

9. Get a city guide. 
I am fortunate to have the Nashville Guide whenever I need it. There's everything from restaurants to parks to coffee shops to bars in there and it helps me to find some footing when I want to explore and go somewhere new. See if your new city has something similar!

10. Always include local flare. 
Once you're beginning to feel settled do and buy things to support your town and local businesses. Nashville has so many things that I could literally fill up my entire apartment with art, coffee mugs, posters, etc. Even if you are moving out into the abyss, find something that will help you appreciate your new surroundings!

Any other advice I missed?? Leave a comment below!


October 30, 2017

I have to say that more often than not I get envious of others as I scroll through my Instagram and Facebook feed. Especially lately, its been one pregnancy announcement after another, and I am thinking maybe there's a club I am not aware of. If anyone knows about this club where couples gather and decide when to all get pregnant, let me know, low key.

I am in a unique place in my life where I am single, but independent, and really working hard to get in a better place mentally, emotionally, financially, and physically. I can work on myself when others are seemingly working on their growing their families, their marriages, their business, etc. I am in a place where I've made decisions in my life that didn't pan out, but I am also taking risks. Not a lot of married couples or parents can take these kinds of risks. I am also in a new city with a small support system, and no family closer than two and a half hours. I have learned to become very self-sufficient. I have learned to lean a little less on others and more on myself and God (that's a whole other blog post though).

I am also in a place where I see so many people tackling their dreams with all they have and I am kind of sitting wondering, "What next"? I have already moved to a new state and rent my own apartment. I have already earned my Master's degree, and purchased my own car, and been in relationships, and been through a divorce (not a dream of mine, but hang on). I say all that to say, I have already been through so much and done so much, and I guess I am more-so sitting here wondering, "What can I possibly do that I haven't already done"? I know you're probably thinking there's plenty more I could accomplish, but again, I am in a unique place.

I'd love to drop everything and become a travel blogger or work remotely while changing the world. I'd love to start my own business and open up the most beautiful and warm coffee shop known to man. I'd love to pay off all of my debts and just travel somewhere new every month not worrying about cost or expense because I am hella frugal and smart with my money.

The truth is, all of those things seem nice, but none of them make my heart go pitter-patter. It sounds really crazy, but the thing that keeps me up at night and makes my heart skip is the thought of becoming a wife and mother. It's again what I see in all of my Instagram stories and blog posts and Facebook news. The two things I want to be, and guess what, I have no control over either of them. I never thought I'd get back to this place where my heart longs to love another, but here I am. The only two things I haven't accomplished yet. People will give me understanding looks and tell me I'll look back and appreciate this time, but right now all I keep thinking about is the shrinking amount of time I'll get to be with them, my husband, and children someday. All of the days I could have been preparing a meal for them, or all of the nights I was longing to meet them, when I could have been feeding them, or rocking them back to sleep. The trips I may one day take with my family, but not the one I call my own. I could open 100 coffee shops and not feel any fuller in my heart.

I want to be happy for those who've finally found what they're looking for, but a part of me just wants to cry...again. I feel this sadness and this pain that doesn't seem to go away. I know that a husband and family can't fulfill everything, but what if that's my heart beat and my deepest desire? What if it doesn't go away so that I don't get jaded or forget why I am here? I can't fill it with other #girlboss dreams, because truth be known, I am more of a #girlwife or a #girlmom than a #girlboss anyway...And guess what? That doesn't make me any less strong, or fierce, or independent. It just means I haven't found my dream yet.

We're all dreaming, right?