Places I Plan To Travel To In 2018

When I was in my mid-twenties, I romanticised visiting New York City. Actually, it was traveling in general. At the time, I was living off of $900 a month and had only been to a few different places in my entire life. I know looking back now that I was extremely lucky to even have traveled the limited amount I had since others aren’t as lucky. But I still daydreamed about it a lot.

Fast forward to 2017, and I am quite a globetrotter. Okay, maybe I’m not spending weekends in Rome (yet) but I literally said out loud in November that I was so sick of traveling so much. I was frustrated because I wanted to take a class in person and couldn’t because it would have required me to be in the same state for more than three weeks at a time. As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I felt sincerely ungrateful. Such a first world problem to even have.

For 2018, I plan on still traveling because of a few reasons. One, I am in a long distance relationship with someone I love who lives across the country. I mean literally, we are both on different coasts and timezones. We will eventually be moving in together but see ourselves still spending at least this year apart. Second, I have a lot of people in my life I love and want to see. So while I will be spending a lot of time at home so I can work on my health and scale my business, I will still be popping around to say hi to a few people.

All The Weddings & Graduations!

I have a wedding to attend in February, a graduation in May and a possible wedding vow renewal in June.

In February, my roommate is getting married! She’s actually one of my good friends and we haven’t lived together in years but I don’t care. She will forever be my roommate, lol. I don’t have to leave per say but I am still adding it to this for my budget calculations. I need to get gifts, will be attending a bachelorette party, etc. But it’s so worth it because I’m so happy for her.

My niece is graduating in May from a high school that allowed her to take dual enrollment courses at the local community college. I am extremely proud of her and how well she is doing. She will probably be graduating from college when she is 20 and I can’t even imagine that. My best friend (her mom) currently lives in Las Vegas so I’ll be heading there for Memorial Day weekend. We decided to make a weekend of it since we live six hours apart and don’t see each other as often as we would like to.

In June, I might be heading to New Mexico to see one of my other best friend’s. Her husband and her are still currently deciding if they would like to do a vow renewal ceremony as once discussed or take a cruise since they weren’t able to have a honeymoon. Since it’s tentative, I’ll be playing it by ear.

Attend gay pride in Castro

After weddings and graduations, I’ll be hopping on an airplane to celebrate Gay Pride with a few friends at the end of June. I am excited to be in Castro, a neighborhood of San Francisco. Castro is very rich in LGBTQ history. Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man voted into a public office in California had his camera shop here. Last year I was lucky to be in the Castro District for the first day of Pride but not for the day of celebration on Sunday.

Attend National Seminar in New Orleans.

This trip is definitely a maybe but I am really excited about it. Every year my full-time employer has a national training seminar at different places around the country. Last year I had decided I had wanted to go before I even knew where the location would be. I’m really trying to bloom where I am planted and figured presenting at a national conference would be a great way to do it.

I will probably be here for a few days and while I’ll be attending workshops and dinners, I also want to sneak away and do some sightseeing in the French Quarter. I absolutely loved New Orleans when I went a few years ago so I’m hoping I get to check it out again. One of my other best friends has discussed stopping by to check out New Orelans with her husband so I hope they can make it.

Attend FinCon in September

FinCon is an annual financial blogger conference held every year in different areas of the country. I’ve been going every year since 2012 and I currently help with social media for the Plutus Awards, who recognizes the best of personal finance every year.

This year, FinCon will be held in September in Orlando, FL. I’ve been to Orlando a few times before for other conferences so I won’t be doing any sightseeing or anything but I am still excited to attend the conference. I have a ton of friends from this blogging niche so it’s like summer camp. I also love networking at this conference and I actually met my BF here so it will always have a special place in my heart.

Italy in October w/ H

YES! H and I will be going to Italy for not one but TWO weeks this October. What had happened was…

We were originally going to go to Hawaii next month to celebrate our four year anniversary. H doesn’t like crowds and I am obsessed with whale hunting, so we compromised on going to the island of Maui and then taking a ferry over to Lanai for a day. But… we waiting a little too long to plan our trip and the stars weren’t lining up without costing us both an arm and a leg. We compromised and decided to go for our five year anniversary instead.

Since we’ll be taking this trip next year, we decided for me to save my vacation time so we can spend two weeks in Italy instead of one. Fall works for both of us so we’ll be going then. So much to do and plan but we are so excited and we’re not going to be waiting until the last minute, lol. So far, the Vaitcan, Pompelli & drinking wine are on my list.

Christmas Family Vacation

My best friend and I will be going on our annual Christmas Family Vacation in December. This year, we will be going to Disneyland. I am excited to go as I haven’t been in almost two years. Disneyland is one of my happy places so even if the Star Wars side won’t be open (sniffle), I’ll still be quite content!

Closing Remarks

Since I cash flow the majority of my trips with my entertainment budget, I feel pretty good about all of these except with Italy and Disneyland, which will require a bit more saving and earning power. I’m also feeling good about not traveling as much as I have in previous years. I love traveling but this year my focus is on growth, in regards to my business and health. Both require me to be as home as much as possible so I have time to work on them.

Anyone have any fun trips planned?

Tips To Declutter In The New Year

From 2012 to 2013, I moved four different times. These moves included moving across cities and two different states. After moving into a brand new home with my then-fiancee, I had decided I wanted out. Most of my belongings were still in boxes and with the help of my best friend, I lugged them to her house. After a few months, I jumped into a relationship with my old boyfriend from high school. This prompted me to move to a different state three hundred miles away. And once that (shockingly) didn’t work out, I moved again. This time, another friend.

Moving so many times in less than two years was utterly exhausting but good for me. It was during this time that I actually learned to let go of stuff. Growing up, both of my parents were insane pack rats. We kept everything and anything, and it was hard to let stuff go.  After my mother’s traumatic death, I felt the need to keep whatever I could of that she owned. Even if I didn’t like it, I kept it.

By moving, again and again, I was able to ask myself tough questions and actually give stuff away. And now, I’d like to share some of my wisdom with you.

Block Off Time

Something I can’t suggest enough is finding the time to actually conquer your decluttering process. Depending on how many items you have or how big your space is, you might need a lot of time.  For instance, it took me months to do my first declutter because of how much stuff I had accumulated for years. I did daily challenges because time was so scarce and I had a hard time letting go. My last move into my apartment resulted in a decluttering session that only took an afternoon.

Pace yourself and give yourself time to actually declutter something. Block off a whole weekend if you can and buy yourself fun snacks. I would also allow yourself something easy for dinner, like a frozen pizza or take out. It’s best to keep your energy on your decluttering mission.

Figure Out Why You Are Keeping It

Ask yourself why you are actually keeping items you have been holding on to. Do you think you are going to need 20 pens? Maybe if you write a lot and don’t buy them. But if you’re picking up pens all of the time, and don’t write, there may be something else more at stake.

Some people keep items because it helps them feel better about something. I kept a lot of my mom’s belongings because it made me feel better. She was never coming back and I had a hard time realizing I would never get another gift from her. When I decided I was okay letting a few things go, it felt easier to let the rest go. Now, I’m happy I only hold on to the things of hers I actually like and associate with good memories. I’d rather cherish a few things than be weighed down by a ton.

When you are holding on to something, be honest about it. Why does hoarding something make you feel more secure? Does it really feel good to keep five pairs of pants or can you be okay with just one? Maybe you didn’t have a lot growing up and have a scarce mentality instead of an abundance one. Often, keeping things is emotional and these emotions may need to be addressed.

Sometimes we keep things because we haven’t had time to throw them away. That’s okay too. You have time now so toss it. When we give the universe space to attract something new in its place, it often gives us something better.

Instead of keeping 20 coffee mugs, maybe only keep the 5 that make you the happiest when you look at them. Keep the perfumes you use the most. And help your pets decide they don’t need five bones too!

Give Or Sell

When you finally decide on the items you are ready to part with, feel free to separate them into four piles. Each of these four piles has a purpose and that is to give, sell, donate and trash. I separated give and donate into two different piles because to me, a donation pile is just a catch-all for everything going to Goodwill. My giving pile is random items I offered up to my friends and they are going to be receiving them.  I don’t like giving my friends junk or knick-knacks but stuff that’s still nice and beneficial, which they appreciate. Just the other day, my friend and I exchanged a mattress pad for a set of drawers.

A sell pile is for items that have a use you can exchange for monetary value. Examples could be clothing & accessories, furniture that isn’t working out, household items that you no longer need and entertainment, such as books and DVDs.  Along with these items, I have even sold makeup I received for free at a charity event that I wasn’t going to use.

Check out websites such as Thredup which off you credit for clothes, Amazon,  eBay or listing items on Craigslist. I’ve sold textbooks on there, a sewing machine and a purse.

Donate Or Trash

All items you can’t sell or give away but are still in good condition can be donated to various non-profits and charities for a tax write off. Places such as Goodwill will accept donated items and then sell them in their stores to give back to the community with programs such as workplace development. Items they accept are home goods, toys and games, clothes and entertainment items such as books and DVDs. It’s important to not give broken items or things no one can use. These items need to be usable and in good condition to pass on.

If you have an item that is not usable, it’s time to trash it. Trash can be various receipts you don’t need, paperwork that needs shredding, clothes beyond mending and anything else no one could use or want. Sometimes we keep things thinking we’ll eventually fix them or work them out. Newsflash. If you haven’t fixed something in a year, chances are you won’t fix it the next. Clearing your space of this clutter will revitalize you instead of weighing you down.

Organize What You Have Left

Now comes the fun part! With what items you have decided to keep, see how you can incorporate it back into your space while being organized. Your home should be a space you like coming home to. It should be clean, welcoming and being utilized for your lifestyle. An important question to keep in mind is to ask yourself, how can I make this space work for me?

When I recently cleaned out my storage closet, I needed to figure out how I could make it work for all of the items I wanted in there, in a way that didn’t stress me out. One side is used for holiday decorations and the other is used for household items, such as medicine, a stockpile of hygiene products and toilet paper. After seeing what was available to me, I decided to utilize some random Target dollar baskets I was holding on to. One basked now holds my medicines, another my hygiene stockpile and so on. I also was able to utilize a bookshelf a friend gave me by storing items my cat Harrison may need.

If you don’t have storage or organization items, check out places such as Target, the dollar store or Ikea. All of these options are budget-friendly and offer quality items if you pay attention and look. My old roommate completely built her dream closet with items from the dollar store. It can be done if you just look and keep an open mind.

Combat Clutter Creep

Now that your space is clean and organized, be sure to keep an eye out for clutter to keep it from creeping back in. I’m guilty of having a clean space and then by the end of the week, having to spend an hour putting back items I was too lazy to put away. Take 5-10 minutes a day doing a sweep of items that need to be put back in their homes.

I also keep a small box in my home. As I realize an item is no longer serving me, I put it in the box to deal with at a later time. Then, at the end of the month. I give, donate or sell. It’s a lot easier to deal with clutter once a month for a few minutes than once a year for days.

Closing Remarks

Keeping an organized and clutter-free environment doesn’t have to be hard. By following the right steps, you can get your place in tip top shape and make your space work for you.

 

 

 

How To Make Goals That Actually Stick

In 2014, I had a Legally Blonde moment. You remember, that scene where she is dressed up as a Playboy Bunny and everyone mocks her? She gets angry and then hones in on her goal that she really does belong at Harvard.

My moment wasn’t so dramatic. It consisted of me sitting on my boyfriend’s couch while my boss told me I wasn’t eligible for a position I applied for within our company. Even though at the time I have over ten years of experience in our field, I still couldn’t interview. I didn’t have a bachelor degree and it was required at our organization. After I cried, I vowed to get my bachelors from ASU within two years so I could never be denied an opportunity because of my education again.

Twenty months, hundreds of tears and $20,000 later, I was proud to hear my name called at a graduation ceremony in front of thousands of others. Although receiving my diploma was the happiest moment of my life, getting a promotion the next month didn’t hurt. If I hadn’t followed the steps below, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve this or some of other proudest moments. I wouldn’t be able to make goals actually stick.

Understand The Power Of Goal Setting

I am a firm believer in the power of goal setting. Anyone can have a vision or a dream they wish to accomplish but without actionable steps, it remains just that. A vision or dream.

I like to compare vision and goal setting to taking a road trip. You have an idea of where you eventually want to go and end up at (vision) but you need steps to get there (goal setting). If you want to go to Virgina and you live in Arizona, how would you get there? You could take random roads to see if something sticks. This may cause you to end up in Virgina, but certainly not the fastest route. And in the worst case scenario, you may not get there at all. In fact, you could be stuck somewhere you had never wanted to be in the first place.

This is why goal setting is so important when you have a vision or dream for yourself. It acts as a GPS system that will get you to your final destination, despite a few minor bumps in the road. You may have a setback or two, just like you would on a road trip, but you’ll eventually get there. You’ll also get there a lot faster than if you had just taken the side roads.

Know Your Why

Knowing your why is just as important as having a vision. Why do you want something for yourself? Is it truly for you or for others?

I’m a very codependent person. It took me years and a few failed relationships to understand what was truly going on with me. It also has taken time and a therapist to help me start breaking my flawed thinking pattern. I don’t think I’ll ever be really “healed” from codependency as it’s a coping mechanism. Some may even say it’s an addiction to people, just like some are addicted to drugs.

I share this about myself because for so long, I was doing things for other people. I had no “why” behind my goals or vision, it was more for others around me or to mold myself to fit into my surroundings. While I was successful in one aspect of my life, I wasn’t very successful in others until I started to fully take responsibility for my own happiness and success. I needed to find my “why.”

A great exercise is to make a list of things you would like to accomplish for yourself in the next year or even five. Then really think about the “why” behind them. Getting your finances together sounds great out loud but without the meaning or why behind it, it may be hard to achieve. If it’s because everyone else around you is buying a house, that’s probably not a great reason. But financial freedom and security for yourself? That sounds good. If you aren’t truly satisfied with your answers, see if your energy would be better suited towards another goal.

Is Your Goal S.M.A.R.T?

General ideas do not make very good goals. If I were to say, “I want to lose weight,” I am leaving a lot of room for imagination or comprehension about what my goal is or could be. Do I want to lose five pounds or twenty? Am I going to diet or just work out? Will I have to check in with someone else or just myself? It’s confusing, frustrating and a good way to set yourself up for failure.

SMART goals, as first described by Peter Drucker are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic & Time-bound. Using this formula, we can walk through what a “lose five pounds” example might look like in action:

  • Specific- I would like to lose five pounds.
  • Measurable- You can weigh yourself on a scale once a week.
  • Achievable- I can achieve a five-pound weight loss through healthy eating and working out as I have no known medical issues that prevent me from doing so.
  • Realistic- I can lose five pounds because it’s not one hundred and a pound a week isn’t unreasonable.
  • Time-bound- I will lose five pounds over five weeks.

You do not have control over if you lose five pounds over five weeks or not but you do have control of your actions to lose five pounds. When you actively participate in the steps to achieve your SMART goal, the outcomes are usually successful.

Is Your Environment Set Up To Help You Thrive Or Fail?

I hate the saying you are the five people you spend the most time with. I don’t think this is true for a lot of people. Someone close to me is a prime example. Despite their income level, they do not spend time with a lot of people who are also high earners. Instead, they spend their time with people who share their same passions, beliefs and common interests.

Despite saying this, I am still a firm believer in making sure your environment is set up to help you thrive. When I was in college and working full time, I had a terrific support system. According to the statement above, I should have surrounded myself with people also in my same predicament.

But instead, I surrounded myself with friends who would respect me if I said I couldn’t go somewhere or had to last minute cancel plans. My father, who only took a few classes when he was younger, made an effort to buy my textbooks one semester when I needed help. My boyfriend listened to me when I was having a bad day and never batted an eye when I had to do homework during our limited time together. And when I traveled to see my best friends, they never made me feel bad when I had to lock myself up in a room really quick to take a test.

Because of I surrounded myself with good-natured people who respected me, I was able to flourish in college and in life. I had a reliable support system and people who I loved and I respected just as much as they did me. The good support system I built for myself in school was also the support system that got me through my cancer treatment early last year.

Make sure your support system loves you, cares for you and respects you. You may not be able to binge watch Netflix with them and instead need to go for a run. You might not be able to go on that cruise because you are more interest in paying off your car. All of this is okay. It’s okay to spend time on your goals and no one should make you feel guilty about this.

Be Nice To Yourself

Above all else, be nice to yourself. It’s hard sometimes to treat yourself as good as you treat someone else. I’ve been guilty of this. I would never tell one of my friends they weren’t good enough or fat, yet I tell this to myself, sometimes often. It’s not true and I am my own worst critic.

It’s also especially hard when you aren’t achieving your goals as fast as you would like. If you aren’t achieving something fast enough, remember to be patient and just keep at it. Keep your head in and continue to work on your dream. Sometimes goals take longer to achieve and that is okay.

Treat yourself like you would treat your own best friend. Give yourself words of encouragement, make time for yourself and love yourself.

Closing Remarks

Goal setting doesn’t have to be difficult and neither does achieving them. By understanding the power of goal setting and knowing your why, you are laying down the roots of your foundation. By setting SMART Goals and getting your environment in order, you are setting yourself up for success. Being nice to yourself when you fall is going to allow you to get back up and keep going.

Goal setting doesn’t have to be hard and by following these steps, you can make goals that will actually stick.

New Year, New Goals

Another year in the books, another year to start fresh!

To say last year started off rough was an understatement. Being recently diagnosed with cancer, I had a lot of unknowns. Did it spread? How sick was I going to get? Would I ever get better? Even with having treatable cancer such as thyroid, it was still really hard on me. I was terrified, confused and just trying to be positive about the whole situation and life in general. Then, a close friend I worked with lost her fight with colon cancer in April.

Her death was very sobering for me. Having known her cancer was terminal when she was first diagnosed, she never gave up her fight. She did every treatment her doctors suggested to her, worked until she couldn’t any longer then happily volunteered at the school we both taught at and traveled a lot. She was feisty, fun and left an impression on everyone who knew her and the thousands of students she worked with throughout her career. Here I was, crying over something that hadn’t even spread and my friend had lost her life still doing what she loved until a month before.

In May, I made more of a conscious effort to get my life back on track. Travel became a priority again and so did spending time with friends. I dealt with some other health issues that had been looming over my head. My business started booming. Even when dealing with burnout in October, I can say that 2017 was good to me in regards to what I wanted to focus on, being health and wealth. I can’t complain and I can say right now in my life, while still dealing with unknowns, I’m happy.

For 2018, I will be going back to having actual concrete goals and not power words. I want to be able to measure my progress and give my actions the intention they need to move further on my journey and purpose. Moving forward, my primary focus will be on growing my business and my health. I’ll be allowing myself to have goals in other areas of my life and may have certain projects I’d like to do, but most of my time will be spent on the prior. By focusing on my business and health, I’ll be able to lose weight for some of my health issues and I’ll be able to achieve the financial goals I have set for the year.

2018 Goals

Business (And Professional)

  • Regularly post on Money Smart Latina to bring resources and opportunities to help young women live their best lives. (All year)
  • Match half of my day job income through my freelancing and blog. (All year)
  • Create three freebies & two products (one e-book, one on Teachable). (Both completed by 9/15/2018)
  • Grow social media channels and newsletter subscribers to 4,000. (All year)
  • Site redesign (Completed by June 2018)
  • Present at a national conference (Completed by July 2018).
  • Continue growing in my current role (All year).

Health

  • Run a 5K (Completed by April 2018).
  • Lose 40 lbs (10 lbs each by March 31st, June 30th, September 30th and December 31st).
  • Attend therapy 1x a week (All year).
  • Workout regularly 3x per week (All year).
  • Only drink alcohol on the weekends (All year).
  • Successfully work towards completing thyroid cancer treatment (All year).

Finances

  • Pay $3,600 towards my student loans.
  • Pay $6,000 of medical debt.
  • Save $3,000 for a downpayment on a new car.
  • Save $3,000 towards dental work.
  • Move up retirement contributions by 2%.

Fun & Relationships

  • Attend all the weddings and graduations (Wedding 1- Feb, Graduation- May, Wedding 2- June)
  • Attend gay pride in Castro. (Completed by June 2018) (Stretch Goal)
  • Attend National Seminar in New Orleans. (Completed by July 2018)
  • Attend FinCon in September.
  • Italy in October w/ H.
  • Christmas Family Vacation (Completed by December 2018).
  • Read 36 books.

Business (And Professional) Summary

Like I said earlier, my main focus for next year will be really buckling down on my business and growing my income. That’s why so many goals are focused more on moving my brand forward and not gaining more clients. I currently have three clients I love so I am hoping to help them grow their brand in the upcoming year as well.

Professionally, I am growing in my career in the non-profit sector so I would like to just continue to build on my strengths and learn from my managers. I’d also like to go to our national training seminar next year and do a workshop presentation for professional development. There’s a difference between letting yourself be complacent than to grow in the space you are currently in.

Health

For 2018, I am going to try to get back into working out regularly and cutting back on alcohol. Since my hormone levels (knock on wood) seem to be leveled out, I have energy again so I would like to be more active. I don’t eat crappy but I am very sedentary at work and I do love to socially drink with friends. Mainly, I need to lose weight to relieve pressure in my spine. My spine is 200% better than it used to be but to prevent future wear and tear, I need to be more serious about doing my part to prolong my osteoarthritis from getting to the next stage.

Finances

Cleaning up my medical debt is the main priority for the year so I can fully move on from this time in my life. Along with cleaning up my medical debt, I am also going to be putting money aside for dental work and (gulp), a new car. My 2007 Hyundai Accent has been a true champ for the past several years and I do NOT want a new car but I’ve spent over $3,000 in repairs since last December and at this point, if it keeps up, the money might be better suited towards a down payment on something new. I hate saying that because I love not having a car payment and I love my car but I am trying to be realistic.

Fun & Relationships

I love celebrating my family and friends so I enjoy putting my entertainment budget and bonuses towards fun trips. By cash flowing my trips, I can save efficiently for them while still focusing on paying down debt. While I have an amount of money in mind that is estimated for each trip, I do not want to assign an exact dollar amount on for two reasons. One, I am not fully committed to half of these trips. My financial health comes first and if I can cash flow it, great. Two, if I say I have a certain amount of money to spend, I’ll spend it. I’d rather put money aside a few weeks closer to the trip date once plans have been solidified than just save to spend.

With all of the plans I have wonderfully drawn out, life is still full of unknowns. The saying “We make plans and God laughs,” is a very popular one forthat reason. A car could be needed sooner than later and cancel a lot of trips I have planned. My partner could get sick and I would (happily) drop everything to go take care of him the way he did for me. Or, I could get sick again. But, I don’t want to not accomplish anything and I don’t want to just float around waiting for life to happen to me. I want to happen to it.

Nov Goals Recap/ Dec Goals

It’s already the last month of the year, how did this happen? I swear, it’s like yesterday I was in Tucson with H for New Year’s Eve and now we are planning what to do with this one. Hint: We’ll be on the east coast, probably somewhere in NJ. The rest has yet to be decided.

This month was full of ups and downs, as most of life is, and my goals reflect that. As a lot of you know, I suffer from mental health issues that stem from trauma when I was in high school. I finally got a proper diagnosis this summer and my team of doctors has been working to ensure that I am on the right meds. With my autoimmune conditions such as Celiacs and thyroid cancer plus others, it’s been trial and error.

I had an episode this month which I’d been dealing for two weeks and when it was clear at work it wasn’t going away, I called my doctor and went in. I have another appointment in three weeks so I hope I’ll have some good news to share and overall, feel better. The holidays are a very hard time for me both emotionally and mentally so while I may, in general, feel better, I may still be sad and moody.

My life wasn’t all gloom though. I started working with a fabulous new client who I really enjoy and I’ve already learned so much from her. I spent a lot of time with friends which included three birthday parties, learning more about myself and a quick weekend trip to go see one of my best friends & check out a haunted museum we’ve been dying to go to. I’m an extrovert so my cup runneth over.

Spooky fun w/ friends!

Onto the goals!

  • Participate in my accountability health group. FAIL. While I did participate, I didn’t really do anything besides eat small regular meals and go to yoga. I am looking at a three lb loss which is nothing to snuff at but my weight has been fluctuating over the same ten lbs for the past six months.
  • Figure out my Money Smart Latina schedule, both for clients and myself. PASSI have a fairly regular schedule now but I’m still not putting my all into MSL.
  • Pay $500 towards debt. FAIL I was so disorganized financially that I need to really sit down and see what is going on. For both client work and my day job, I have reimbursements and invoices due. This will definitely be a goal of mine for next month.
  • Read 3 books. PASSI read American Babe, Role Models and a book about Winnie Ruth Judd. I already have two books picked out for December but we’ll see what the third one ends up being.
  • Do the work. FAIL Yeah, I didn’t do any work.
  • BONUS: Do a deep clean and decorate for Christmas. PASS I hosted my friends for a dinner & movie night so my apartment got all of the love it needed and deserved. However, I decided I wasn’t really feeling the need to decorate for Christmas. I am gone for so much of this month that I am okay not setting up.

What does December look like? Glad you asked!

  • Post 2x per week to Money Smart Latina & provide great content for you. I have a lot of articles I’m preparing and getting my first free download ready for next month! I’ll be announcing sign-ups for my newsletter soon, as it will have resources and tips to help anyone live a money-smart life.
  • Organize my finances. I am allllll over the place and I wanted to say something because this blogger is all about transparency. As much as I’ve blogged and written about personal finance all over the internet, I fall off the wagon just like anybody else. This goal includes submitting reimbursements, invoices, cashing checks I have sitting around (I KNOW), fixing my budget & submitting all of my health receipts to my FSA provider.
  • Read 3 books. Self-explanatory. Should be doable as I have a 4-hour plane ride in my future. I’ll be bringing noise canceling headphones because the last two times I’ve tried to read on planes, people were insanely loud.
  • Get ahead in client work. I’m trying my hardest to take some time off the last week of December to really soak up time with my BF. I know there will be some time to work because he always has stuff to do but I want to enjoy our time together since we don’t have very much of it being long distance.
  • Stick to my accountability health group! BF and I have officially decided to go to Hawaii in February and while I think I look cute, I would still like to lose some weight for both this trip and my back. I NEED to lose weight for my back, so I’ll be trying to really make an effort.

Pshew, so much to do, so little time. What do you guys have planned for this month?

October Goals Recap/ November Goals

October was very busy for me. Between San Diego, Mexico, and Dallas, I had very little time at home it felt like because it was true. The next two months don’t show too much slowing down since I already have three trips planned and may have a fourth in the works but starting in January, I am making a conscious effort to slow down.

Inspired by Michelle from Michelle Is Money Hungry, I want to take time to really focus on growing my business, plus give myself a break. This doesn’t mean I am not traveling at all, in fact, I already have six trips planned. But I am making a conscious effort to not plan anything else. I say make a conscious effort because things do come up and I am in a long distance relationship with a great guy. But I will be making an effort to stay home.

So, how did I do?

October Goals 

  • $1,000 in extra income. PASS!
  • $885 towards debt. FAIL.
  • Spending cleanse. PASS!
  • Read 3 books. PASS!
  • Have fun in Mexico & Dallas. PASS!
  • Work my blog strategy. FAIL.
  • Lose 5 lbs. FAIL. 

So, 4/7 isn’t too shabby. My extra income moving forward for the next few months may take a hit as I shift around my freelance work but hopefully, this won’t be too long and affect my progress towards paying off my debt. And speaking of debt, I honestly didn’t pay as much as I had hoped, just because I was really unorganized this month. My blog and weight goals also took a hit because of being unorganized but I think things will be better moving forward.

November Goals 

  • Participate in my accountability health group. I joined an accountability group with a few other bloggers who have similar weight and fitness goals recently. We just launched yesterday and set our goals for the month so I think weekly check-ins will be helping me.
  • Figure out my Money Smart Latina schedule, both for clients and myself. Last month, I dealt with major burnout, both in business and life. I felt sick and slept a million hours so I took time to really reflect on everything I have to do and things I don’t need to do. This month, I would really like to focus my efforts on my schedule and making sure it’s working for me, not against me.
  • Pay $500 towards debt. Self-explanatory.
  • Read 3 books. I am slowly coming to terms that I no longer can read a book a week. Although I don’t really watch TV, I still need time to focus on my business, friends and keeping up my home. Plus, I’ve been reading a lot of Stephen King lately and his books are often anywhere between 4-800 pages. 36 books a year isn’t too shabby.
  • Do the work. This is in regards to my business more than anything. I have great ideas and I want to prioritize them.
  • BONUS: Do a deep clean and decorate for Christmas. 

Do you have anything fun planned for November?

Athena

4 Ways I’ve Simplified My Life

When I was growing up, my favorite band, besides The Beatles was Weezer. I was obsessed with the lead singer Rivers Cuomo and devoured everything I could find about him on the Internet. It was stated in the late 90’s he gave away a lot of his possessions and zoned out in an apartment by himself with the bare minimum he needed to get by. Since my family was full of people who loved their stuff, I couldn’t imagine doing that and it haunted me.

Now that I am at least twice the age I was when first reading that article, I can say that I am aware I have a love/hate relationship with stuff, mainly my own. Moving four times in less than two years will do that to a person. While I think decluttering your life is an ongoing practice, I have made some strides to simplify my life. I’m not perfect by any means, and nowhere near a minimalist like some, but I’ll take these small wins when I can get them.

I Donated Half Of My Closet

Last spring, I had a series of misfortunate events, which really weighed on me. I felt I couldn’t catch a break and was convinced I had bad luck. One of the things that happened to me was that I had to pack up my entire apartment in plastic trash bags so it could be exterminated, due to no fault of my own. I slowly started unpacking everything once it was safe but realized two months later I still had tons and tons of clothes in trash bags on my bedroom floor. Oops.

It took a week but I ended up donating half of my closet. I had a lot of clothes I wasn’t wearing and were just taking up space, both physically and mentally. Now I can get ready easier, I know where everything is when I need it and I have less laundry to do. I can still go weeks without doing laundry so I still have some curating to do but all in due time.

I Don’t Keep Up With The Joneses

When I was twenty-one years old, I had the bright idea to move to Las Vegas. My small town life wasn’t cutting it anymore and so I called my ex-fiancee to come pick me up. I didn’t have a job or a car, I was a real hot mess. I found a job working at Macy’s doing makeup on call for a few months until I found something more permanent but it was too late. While I was at Macy’s, I fell into a real trap of wanting nice things, specifically name brands. I fantasized about being one of my customers and spending until my heart’s content.

I had everything at my fingertips and rarely did I have the money for it. But do you think that stopped me? No. I bought designer purses when I could along with sunglasses and jewelry because it made me feel better about myself instead of addressing my real issues. My ex-bought me the same crap and obviously, we didn’t live happily ever after.

Now, I rarely spend money on that kind of stuff or anything else new or fancy. I’ve had the same car since 2011 when I bought it off my friend’s grandparents. When I purchased an iPhone last year so I could run my business from anywhere, I made sure to not buy the newest model and instead, what would work for the next few years for my needs. I didn’t need an iPhone per say, but I enjoy having a smartphone with a reliable network since I travel so much. You can buy quality items to last, it’s just a waste when you constantly feel the need to replace them.

I Mainstreamed My Beauty Routine

Gone are the days of $125 cut and colors. Yes, I did spend this much on my hair when I was younger and no, that wasn’t including the tip. My hair was three colors for the longest time and in order to get it to be two of those, I had to bleach the crap out of it. I was also obsessed with beauty products from Sephora, anything I thought would make me prettier. Do you see a theme here? Boy, was I insecure.

Now, I wear my hair long and get it cut twice a year. I went back to my natural hair color almost five years ago and don’t see myself going back. I also no longer wear makeup on a regular basis and instead, just wear it on special occasions, both professionally and personally. While I’m still not as confident as I would like to be, I know I do not need to layer this stuff on in order to feel better about myself.  I love taking care of my skin and don’t skimp but I also no longer need an hour in the bathroom.

I Meal Plan

When I was twenty-three, I began meal planning. The frugal bug had bitten me and I decided groceries were the easiest thing I could cut back on at that time. Meal planning saved me money, taught me to be resourceful and l learned how to actually cook. Years later, I still meal plan as a way to save extra costs and time.

Every Sunday morning, I scan my Pinterest app to see what I feel like making for the week. After checking my kitchen for supplies, I make a list and head to one of three different stores, depending on what my needs are for the week. Sometimes, I prefer shopping at Target while at other times, a different store. When I get home, I make sure I prep my snacks and cook a big batch of meals to get me started. It helps ensure I eat healthy as well as save time and money. The more prepared I am, the less likely I’ll stop for take out on the way home!

These are just some of the ways I’ve simplified my life as well. When you don’t spend money or energy on things that don’t make you happy or you don’t need, you start to find that you have more of it for things you enjoy and bring your life value.

What are some ways you’ve simplified?

The Importance Of A Spending Fast

For much of my life, I have not wanted to deal with my feelings. Growing up as an only child, I really didn’t have to. While my dad balanced two jobs most of the time (he used to be a workaholic), my mom stayed at home due to her ailing health. I had my mom all to myself and she was my best friend. Whenever I had an issue or a problem or was just being a jerk, my mom was there to listen and fix it. It’s no wonder that after her death I found myself so lost.

I’m not a special snowflake but I feel things more than the general population due to a few mental health disorders I battle on a daily basis. For most of my life, up until recent years, I wasn’t medicated or in therapy. I dealt with things on my own or rather, didn’t. I became codependent, wanting to be obsessed with my partner. I gained weight because I loved food or more like I ate until I was numb. And I gave in to a shopping addiction because stuff was gonna make me a better person. I remember threatening to leave in a fight with my ex-fiancee and he threatened to take away my Tiffany & Co jewelry because he knew it would make me stay. Yeah, I’m embarrassed too.

I’m happy to report that while I can still be codependent, I am now in a loving and healthy relationship with a man I adore and who adores me too. While I gained an excessive amount of weight due to a thyroid issue, I don’t eat my feelings anymore. And while I still enjoy nice jewelry and things, I would never stay in a situation because of them. But lately, I keep wanting more.

Revalation

I want to buy all the things lately. It started with a shopping bender at Bath & Body Works. Next, I added a bunch of Halloween decorations to my cart that I didn’t need.  Then, I bought a ton of Stephen King books. Granted, I never pay full price for a book but did I really need so many? Fast food started showing up on my bank statement and so did extra pounds on the scale. I stocked up on snacks like they were going out of style. Last but not least, I caught myself trying to dress up my office wardrobe. I could use a few new things, mainly black flats and black cigarette pants, but I didn’t need all of the items I was ready to buy. It was until last week that I realized I was miserable.

I can’t get into all of the details about my revelation but maybe one day I can. All I know is that I was spending money and buying things to make me happy when that wasn’t going to do the trick. Isn’t that why a lot of us buy crap we don’t need or even necessarily want? Because one day it’s going to magically make us happy? All I ever want is to be happy and healthy and that really means dealing with what’s bothering me.

Am I Spending On My Happy?

I knew I needed to participate in a spending fast like Anna from And Then We Saved talks about on her blog because I needed to plug some money leaks. While plugging a money leak is like a band-aid, it gives me time to figure out what is really going on with the plumbing and why I am leaking in the first place.

This is why evaluating your spending is so important. Every time you swipe your debit card, you are voting with your dollars what matters to you. Is it living in a nice safe place? Or driving an expensive car? Does eating out help you feel better? Or does shopping at Target every week?

I am not saying spending money is a bad thing. Instead, I am a firm believer that you should put your money where your happy is like Sarah from Yes & Yes (one of the best blogs ever) preaches. But if you are spending money because you don’t want to deal with something, you won’t truly be happy. And if you aren’t truly happy, what’s the point of just spending money on stuff?

Sangria with the boyfriend makes me happy.

I’ll be continuing on my spending fast until the end of the month and then I’ll re-evaluate to see how I feel about my money leaks. So far, so good, but I know this weekend will be rough. My friends are all going to a taco festival and I’ll probably suffer from a slight case of FOMO (fear of missing out). Instead of wallowing, I plan on cleaning my house, decorating for Halloween and just taking it easy. I won’t be home the next two weekends so I plan on taking it easy while I can!

How do you determine what your spending leaks are? Have you ever participated in a spending fast?

Athena

 

September Goals Recap/ October Goals

It’s that time of the month again! Time to check in on my September Goals and see what I have planned for the next month!

September Goals Recap 

  • Continue working on my health. Fail. I went to yoga twice and then did my doctor appointments but I really didn’t prioritize this. 
  • Deep clean my apartment. Pass! My house was so pretty and clean. Need to work on a plan to keep it clean though. 
  • Enjoy time with my family and boyfriend. Pass! I had a really bad arthritis flare up this month and I am still recovering. Because of this flare-up, I ended up not being able to go home and was struggling during the visit to San Diego. My boyfriend and I both slept a lot and just took it easy the whole time but still got to see his mom. 
  • Read two books. Fail. I suck at reading yet keep buying an insane amount of books. Hmm. 
  • Track all spending. Pass! I spent way too much money but at least I accounted for it. 

October Goals 

  • $1,000 in extra income. Should totally be doable, next month may be another story. :/
  • $885 towards debt. May take some strategy but I’m hoping to get it done. This summer I decided that I now HATE DEBT. Only took a few years, hahaha. Oh, and a cancer treatment. 🙁
  • Spending cleanse. I realized how out of control my spending has gotten again and I am attempting to do a spending cleanse this month. The exceptions will be my two trips I have planned (food & alcohol only, one souvenir per trip). For the rest of the month, I will be hanging out at home since I have enough to keep busy.
  • Read 3 books. I plan on being gone two weekends this month but one weekend involves five hours of flying and a few hours of airport time. I should be able to accomplish this. I also need to read some of the books I have bought.
  • Have fun in Mexico & Dallas. I’ve never been to either before so I am excited to explore some new sights and try new foods.
  • Work my blog strategy. I brainstormed with my boyfriend who not only runs a successful blog now but has sold one in the past for my business strategy this week. I’ve had a lot of things pop up in my business the past two months and while freelancing will still be a part of it, I am looking to branch out and diversify what I am doing. I also spent time talking to a friend I admire and she gave me some great suggestions as well. I have planned out my new strategy so be on the lookout for new things soon! If there is anything you would especially like to read or learn about, please let me know.
  • Lose 5 lbs. I need to get back to working out and losing weight, my back is killing me and I need this extra weight to come off now that my thyroid hormones are seemingly right.

Anything fun planned for you?

Athena

Taking Care Of Yourself Is Not Selfish

This blog post is part of the Suicide Prevention Awareness Month blog tour in partnership with Debt Drop. If you are feeling suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741.

There have been numerous times in my life I have felt like I hit rock bottom. Or had really shitty years. One of my coping mechanisms in my life, when I am overwhelmed, is to self-destruct. And believe me, I am really good at self-destructing. I have lost jobs, romantic relationships, friendships and money. Lots of money.

But, I have also seemingly kept it together for the most part. I was able to graduate twice from college with a double major in criminology and criminal justice, a minor in LGBT studies and a study abroad program in Israel studying counter-terrorism. I’ve been promoted several times at work in the past four years. I’ve built a successful online business. I have my own apartment with my cat in a hip and fun neighborhood. And I travel. A lot.

But no one sees the days I struggle getting out of bed. The nights I mindlessly hit refresh on my Facebook app because I can’t be bothered to deal with anything else. Days when I’ve only had three hours of sleep. How dirty my house gets. My anxiety attacks when I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and what I feel is my failing health. The constant worry of being abandoned. Or how trying to find the silver lining in shitty situations is what gets me through them.

Mental illness looks different on everyone. Just because someone seems like they are functioning doesn’t mean they are. And it’s not weak to admit you need help. I couldn’t do what I do without my amazing team of doctors who work with me to help me find balance and relief. I couldn’t do it without friends that are loving and understanding, even when I have faults. And I couldn’t do it without my amazing partner of four years who has seen me at my worst and still holds my hand.

If you need help, don’t be afraid to reach out. I’m here to cheer you on. And so are others.