Friday, February 16, 2018

Starting a Conversation: Debt

Today I did something a bit revolutionary for me: I cut up my credit card.  I have never been a big credit card spender.  I tend to charge a little here, a little there, and almost always its on something I can live without.  Just looking at my purchase history on my credit card its exclusively comprised of clothes I didn't need, dinners I could have gone without and crap I can't even excuse (hair perfume from Sephora has and never will be a necessity).  But this big step for me is part of a bigger step that I really want to tackle: becoming completely debt free.
It's extremely disappointing to me that my generation never wants to talk about money but is so obsessed with making more of it and showing it off any chance they get.  Social media has made it very easy to compare what you don't have to what everyone else does.  It can be extremely depressing scrolling through Instagram, constantly wondering "How the fuck is she affording that?".  This comparison to others is an entirely different problem, but why don't we ever talk about how we are (or aren't) affording that?  Why is it still taboo to talk about money?  And why aren't we honest about our debts?
I recently watched a video by vlogger Aja Dang that I found incredibly refreshing.  I had watched Aja's video's in the past for an escape from my own reality.  She's smart, entertaining, beautiful, in great shape, and overall a great distraction from the dirty dishes in my kitchen sink.  So when she posted a video revealing her student loan debt, I was really taken aback.  I thought this girl was perfect--I mean none of these vlogger girls have any real problems right?  At least that's the narrative I would tell myself when I compared my life to theirs.  It was so damn refreshing to hear someone talking openly and honestly about money.  It gave me perspective on my own life (and my own debts), reminding me that I am not the only one with a little baggage.  Aja now vlogs her bi-monthly budget which she says keeps her accountable, but it also inspires the hell out of me!  
So here goes: I am not perfect.  I have some baggage.  Some financial baggage.  And that is OK.  What I have decided is not OK is sitting back and doing nothing about it.  Considering that I am getting married in a couple months, I can think of no better time than now to come up with a concrete plan of tackling my debts so that we can live with less anxiety and more freedom.  My fiance is truly the bees knees and I would never want to be a burden to our love.  Being that we struggle to fight about anything, I would hate it if money became a point of conflict.  In an effort to avoid any of that happening, and to hopefully inspire a few of you to have honest discussions about money, I am listing all my current debt below in the order I plan on paying it off.  Full transparency.  Because this kind of stuff only gets worse living in the shadows.  Considering that our generation is the first in American history that is projected to do worse financially than their parents, we need a bit more financial honesty!

Credit Card: $930.44 (Goal: payoff by March 31, 2018)
Auto Loan: $10,700 (Goal: payoff by January 31, 2019)
Graduate Student Loans: $98,000 (Goal: payoff by March 1, 2023)

This is a start (and a big step for me) but it will be something that I document here, sharing my process for tackling my debts and what works/doesn't work for me.  While this is all extremely scary, and a bit embarrassing to document, I think it could be extremely powerful in starting a conversation about money within our generation.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

27 to do before 28

Ah 28!  That's a scary thought.  Anyways, 27 has been a number that has always been very present and recurring in my life and while I tend not to look too deeply into things like that I do think this will be my best year ever!  Making this list a little late, but already it is a wonderful year..

1.  Run another half marathon
2.  Start training for a full marathon
3.  Visit a new country (Thailand plllllease!)
4.  Buy less things I don't need (this will probably be the hardest one)
5.  Save at least $6k by the end of the year
6.  Learn to ride a motorcycle
7.  Get stronger and stronger
8.  Complete a Spartan Race
9.  Meditate
10.  Get better at rowing
11.  Minimize/simplify my home
12.  Continue building strong female friendships
13.  Grow my hair long again
14.  Trying camping (I promise!)
15.  Cook more for people I love
16.  Travel more (locally and beyond)
17.  Be kinder and not take out life's frustrations on those I love
18.  Give more time to the man I love and adore
19.  Rest more (this has been difficult lately, sadly)
20.  Drink MORE coffee (goddamn right)
21.  Start my practicum for school and figure out exactly what I want to do with this adult life
22.  Cut out all the negativity
23.  Gossip less
24.  Get one more piercing (or maybe two)
25.  See Beyonce with the strong women I love and adore
26.  Take time in the summer to lay in the sun and do nothing (truly something I've never done for very long)
27.  Go see the California Poppies 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Final Update: 26 to do before 27

26 was the best year EVER even if I didn't reach all my goals...but I know 27 will be my best year yet, back to the drawing board!
1.  Read 1 book a month: 12 total/year Textbooks count too, right?
2.  Run a half marathon I ran 2!
3.  Visit a new country4.  Save enough money to buy a new car
5.  Do Salvation Mountain
6.  Start grad school
7.  Go to New Orleans, LA
8.  Take a salsa dancing class
9.  Attempt camping at least one more time
10.  Make more plants for friends/family
11.  Do volunteer work
12.  Continue the healthy kick I've been on
13.  Learn to relax and accept the things I have no control over
14.  Learn to cook at least 10 new dishes
15.  Finally go see the Antelope Valley poppy reserve in the Spring
16.  Take a break from technology more
17.  Get back to writing again, whether it just be for me or otherwise
18.  Get better at Pilates
19.  Love more, be aggravated less
20.  Hike Pine Ridge Trail in Big Sur
21.  Sleep in a yurt because c'mon why not?
22.  Get more organized in my work
23.  Learn to ride a motorcycle, even if it gives my parents a heart attack
24.  Read up on transcendental meditation
25.  Get back into reading/writing in French so that I am competent enough to pen a letter in the language
26.  Take more polaroids

Friday, January 9, 2015

26 to do before 27

Oh 26, so far so great.  Let's make it an accomplished year!

1.  
Read 1 book a month: 12 total/year
2.  Run a half marathon
3.  Visit a new country
4.  Save enough money to buy a new car
5.  Do Salvation Mountain
6.  Start grad school
7.  Go to New Orleans, LA
8.  Take a salsa dancing class
9.  Attempt camping at least one more time
10.  Make more plants for friends/family
11.  Do volunteer work
12.  Continue the healthy kick I've been on
13.  Learn to relax and accept the things I have no control over
14.  Learn to cook at least 10 new dishes
15.  Finally go see the Antelope Valley poppy reserve in the Spring
16.  Take a break from technology more
17.  Get back to writing again, whether it just be for me or otherwise
18.  Get better at Pilates
19.  Love more, be aggravated less
20.  Hike Pine Ridge Trail in Big Sur
21.  Sleep in a yurt because c'mon why not?
22.  Get more organized in my work
23.  Learn to ride a motorcycle, even if it gives my parents a heart attack
24.  Read up on transcendental meditation
25.  Get back into reading/writing in French so that I am competent enough to pen a letter in the language
26.  Take more polaroids

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Final Update: 25 to do before 26

Well haven't I been just the worst at keeping up with this thing?  2014 was a tough year, but I definitely grew.  I grew stronger, smarter and into a better version of myself.  So with my 26th birthday just days away, let me recap the goals I have accomplished/neglected.

1.  Visit a new country
2.  Start saving more
3.  Open a retirement account (yikes!)
4.  Take my GRE Exam and apply to grad school
5.  Do more with my hair and get out of the habit of boring looks
6.  Keep up with my fitness and continue to work out four days a week  I work out 6 days a week now!
7.  Drop 5 lbs Dropped 10lbs!
8.  Take a break from technology more often
9.  Take a trip to Big Sur
10.  Do volunteer work
11.  Take more pictures of friends and loved ones, because I know I will treasure every photo as the years pass by
12.  More long walks and activities after work (i.e. don't allow myself to get so tired after work!)
13. Send letters to friends abroad MORE!
14.  Read 10 books
15.  Be the kindest I can be to others and work on my temper (especially while driving)
16.  Go on more hikes (because Los Angeles is beautiful)
17.  Drive much, much less
18.  Consume less celebrity gossip (sorry, it's my weakness)
19.  Get strong enough to do 10 pull ups (sounds easy but soooo is not)
20.  Go make-up free more
21.  Become better at time management (I'm pretty good with this already, but I know there are minutes that add up to hours that I am wasting!)
22.  Get a couple more holes in my ears
23.  Cook more veggie meals
24.  Do Angel's Flight in DTLA
25.  Drink more wine (because I don't do it enough and it makes me happy!)


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

recent realizations

1.  The city of Los Angeles give you no incentive to abide by the law.  Dealing with my awful hit & run accident from October has shown me that despite having video & photos of the incident and basically all the information you could need to catch a person, people suffer no consequences for the actions.  Where is the justice?!
2.  Beyonce can do everything we normals cant.  Case in point:  hats with ears
3.  Aquafor is better than all else.  Don't even bring that burts bees mess in my vicinity.
4.  Sushi burritos exist and they are EVERYTHING
5.  People who constantly talk about sex/boys on social media are most definitely terrible at life

Friday, January 31, 2014

how a promotion helped me swim again

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I have never, ever been the kind of person who looks to their job for gratification or some fulfillment of happiness. Sure, days are easier when you like your job--but when it comes to happiness the last place I'm looking is my professional life.  A job is a job is a job.  Whether its your dream job or a job for the now, it should be what you do not who you are  At least that is my perspective--life, friends and family is where I find my happiness.  Even still, the last year had been very tough on me.  I had been in a job I didn't really like very much because I wasn't challenged and undervalued.  
I constantly felt bored, having an hour every day between tasks to troll Etsy for things I didn't need and would never buy.  And even though I was very good at my job and always got verbal praise, the financial praise never came.  No one ever seemed interested in giving me more work, even though it seemed like I was begging for it at times; whenever a position in my department opened up with room for growth I was constantly told that in time that would be appropriate for me, but for now I needed to grow more.  Grow?  I felt like I was bursting at the seems waiting to be challenged, to be engaged, to do more!  
The straw that broke the camels back came last May. It started with management asking to me to help on some administrative stuff on the submission of a multi-million dollar grant.  You know, no big deal just stuff like numbering pages, changing headers.  Essentially looking for consistency.  But after a few days I started to feel like things were really started being dumped on me.  I was being asked to do research, change budget number, collect signatures on contracts, and a whole slew of things that went beyond my pay grade.  All I kept thinking was how these things were so not my job, and I would be open to doing these things except there actually is someone who is paid to do these things.  There is someone who was given this job because they were classified as competent.  And oddly enough, this person had no clue what they were doing and shuffled through papers whenever someone pointed out this incompetence.  Yet here I am, the dummy of all dummies, doing work that someone else is getting paid for while simultaneous being told that I am not at the level I need to be in order to have a position like that.  
When all was said and done, I found myself having racked up 15hrs in overtime in one week, working at my cubicle through the weekend, and being only one of two people helping with the submission that came down to the wire.  And what was my thank you?  A bonus? A promotion? Ahhh you all are just dreamers!  I came to work on Monday morning to find a $10 Starbucks gift card sitting on my keyboard.  In that moment the rage boiled over to the point where I took the gift card straight to the shredder and let that baby die.  
From that day I knew I had enough and it was time to move on.  The thing about not being valued is that it begins to take a real toll on how you view yourself.  At first I thought maybe I wasn't working hard enough which was why I wasn't being recognized for my work.  Then as I worked harder I thought maybe I wasn't showing how I could go above and beyond.  Then when I went above and beyond and beyond and to infinity and beyond and still got no recognition, I thought there really just must be something wrong with me.  I must be doing something wrong that people don't see my effort.  These feelings never took a toll on my work ethic, but rather on my self worth.  I am someone who has worked since I was 13 yeas old.  I was always told how good I was at my various jobs and often promoted or praised for my efforts.  What was I doing wrong this time?
After months of these feelings I knew I had to do something to get the ball rolling for things to change.  Finally I took a leap (after much encouragement from my boyfriend and family) and applied for a job that, in my head, was way out of my league.  To my surprise I got an interview, and to my even greater surprise I got the job two hours after I walked out of the interview.  Glowing with happiness and excitement, I locked myself in the office next to my cubicle and did a dance and leap for this fresh start that at times felt like would never come  The following Monday I informed my superior that I got a promotion and would be leaving the department.  And rather than experiencing happiness and showing support for me moving on to bigger and better things, the reaction was less than I expected.  
The strange thing was, every one of my peers was so happy for me but every one of my superiors met me with the same reaction.  "Oh, you're leaving us?  Oh my god.  Um okay.  Well I guess congratulations.  That's good for you.  It's going to be so tough to figure everything out before you leave."  Words that I so desperately needed to hear.  Because in that moment I realized exactly why I wasn't getting anywhere even with all my hard work.  It was in that moment that I realized that people are willing to hold you back so that they can keep you and not have to search for someone to fill the very big shoes you have created.  The old cliche that people will hold you back so that they can get ahead wasn't applicable in this situation.  People were holding me back so that I wouldn't realize my full potential and to make feel as though my only option was to swim in place. 
Two weeks into my new job and I couldn't be happier.  I have pushed away all that negativity and harbored resentment that I held for so long and feel this flush of positive energy.  Everyone around me seems genuinely happy to have me here and finally, after three years of it sinking to the bottom, my confidence in my abilities and work have swam to the surface again.