Budgets & Cats- Finding Wiggle Room In The Budget

Budgets & Cats- Because You’re Going To Die Alone Anyways, is a new budget series found exclusively on Money Smart Latina. Since a man isn’t a retirement plan around these cat lady parts, we need an ample amount of savings and personal finance knowledge. And if our cat decides to let someone else share the bed, it’s all gravy anyway. Hope you enjoy! 


Two years ago I came home to a house full of cat vomit. Fellow cat ladies, you know what I’m talking about. It’s all fun and games until the cat eats too much and pukes on the carpet. Except, Harrison had never thrown up before. Sure, a random hairball every few months (is he supposed to have more?!) but not actually throw up. Concerned, I decided to keep an eye on him which only lasted for a few minutes because then he threw up again. So off to the vet we went.

$1,300 later (thank you emergency fund!), we had a new diagnosis of FIV, a cool cone to keep us company and a prescription for an anti-viral. Oh yes, I now had a new expense I needed to make room for. He is also susceptible to a variety of secondary infections that have us in the vet now quite a few times a year.

If this has ever happened to you (unexpected expenses, not FIV), fear not fellow cat ladies. I got the tips and tricks to keep you covered!

Do A Budget Analysis

The first thing I would recommend to anyone who is looking to find extra room in their budget is to complete a budget analysis. A budget analysis is when you compare where you think your money is going to where it’s actually going after you’ve tracked your spending. Most people recommend doing this for a month to get the most accurate picture. I would second that a month would be most accurate but have been able to notice spending habits sooner. For myself, I can notice in as early as two weeks.

Tracking your spending can be as easy or as hard as you want to be but I suggest grouping similar items into a budget category and using a free tool when just getting started. There are so many free tools such as software like Mint or Personal Capital, spreadsheets such as Google sheets or just a regular pen and piece of paper. Find what works for you and track everything you can for at least a month to see where your money is really going. For myself, I know I eat out a lot but it’s always more shocking when I see the grand total of what I really spend versus what I think I spend.

See What Can Go

Once you have seen where your money is actually going, see what exactly can go out of your monthly budget. Stuff that can often go for me in my budget is any subscription boxes I have signed up for. In the past, I have participated in subscription boxes like Birchbox and Hunt A Killer. I loved getting treats in the mail as well as trying something new. But eventually, with Birchbox, I started getting junk instead of items I would actually use. I never received junk with Hunt A Killer but I ended up not having enough time as I thought I did to keep up with the monthly tasks.

Along with subscription boxes, see if there are any memberships you aren’t taking advantage of such as one to a gym, class or food co-op, but no longer need. Other memberships or subscriptions you may not be using could be something entertainment related such as Netflix, Spotify, Pandora, etc. Really look at your budget to see where your money is going and if you are paying to use something that is no longer bringing you joy or just collecting dust. But don’t worry, you can keep Catster magazine, I give you full permission.

Chop Chop Chop

After you have weeded at any subscriptions, memberships or bills you have decided you no longer need, it’s time to start trying to make the bills you do have lower.

Gather all bills and start analyzing what exactly it is you are paying for. For instance, are you paying a fee for insurance on a credit card? Or something like a new internet modem you never received anyways? It’s important to make sure all fees and expenses you are being billed for are not only accurate but correct as well. You could be paying a significant amount in fees without even realizing it.

Next, see if there is anything you can call and negotiate for a lower rate with your provider. I have my cable company on speed dial and know that I need to call the loyalty department once a year to ask for a promo code that I am entitled to. I’m also currently stacking a few discounts on my cell phone bill that I was eligible for by doing research, such as looking into my ADP employer portal. Discounts and lower rates are everywhere so don’t be afraid to do research and ask.

And if you are in a desperate time calling for a desperate measure, don’t be afraid to walk away from a current provider and seek an alternative one who’s cheaper. It may be harder in a smaller town but in a major city, there are always alternative providers to the one you currently have. In Phoenix, for instance, we can pick between at least two providers for any type of service, including utilities. Anything is up for grabs, even rent if you are renewing your lease!

Figure Out The Cheapest Way To Buy Something You Need

One of the best pieces of financial advice I’ve ever heard was from my boyfriend. We were talking about spending or rather lack thereof, on certain things. To be honest, I was probably willing to spend more than him on something because I’m the one that usually thinks I’m a baller, not him. He simply replied, “Just because you have money, you don’t have to spend it.” This motto has been seriously part of my MO while shopping and looking for the most frugal ways to do something, especially when creating wiggle room in my budget.

When looking to buy items you need, ask yourself how you can get them for as cheap as possible. A lot of household items you may need can be purchased at the dollar store for, you guessed it, a dollar. You can also purchase snacks, spices, and a few other items there like trash bags or Ziplocs. You can even get cheap supplies for your cats, such as toys, bowls, and bedding!

Groceries can easily be saved on by purchasing whats in season, using coupons and buying items when on sale. You can even get gift cards and promo codes at Target as well as using in-store coupon apps. By building this frugality muscle, you can even use these habits to save even more without thinking about it. And for cat supplies, such as meds and cat litter, I have found Amazon to be surprisingly cost effective.

Look For Alternatives

I believe challenges, such as Whole 30 and No-Spend Months can really help us jumpstart our goals, in terms of fitness and finance. I’m also a firm believe that moderation is key to having long-term results and maintenance.

When cutting something out of your budget to make room for something new, make sure it’s sustainable and that you have a backup plan in place. For instance, I am a caffeine freak. There is no way cutting Starbucks out of my budget was going to allow me to also give up coffee nor did I want to. Instead, I now drink coffee mostly at the office when I get in and now on days I’m in the field or having meetings, I remember to pack my thermos. But by allowing Starbucks to be a treat, I am no longer spending $30 a week there like I was. $25 of that is now being redirected towards something else.

If there is an item you like or prefer, take time to see if you can get it cheaper at a different store or utilize a friend’s warehouse discount. If you are giving up Netflix or cable, see what you can find at the library for cheap. Consider a movie night in with friends instead of going out to the bar. There are a ton of frugal alternatives to things you already do, you just have to be creative.

Keep The End Goal In Mind

One of the things that help me when cutting back on my spending, and trying to find extra wiggle room in the budget, is to remember why I am doing this in the first place.

Being a social butterfly and living in a big city makes it very easy for me to always find something to do. As much as I love hanging out with my cat reading a book from the library, I also love going to concerts and trying new restaurants and bars. And I love everyone in my life. So, it’s hard for me to not want to go out and spend money with the best of them.

Remembering why I’m doing this in the first place is what really helps as well as trying to find the bright side. When you remember why you are cutting back for that wiggle room and spending less will help you when the times get tough. Sure, you could go out to eat three times a week or you could save like you had planned to go skiing instead. Or maybe it’s medication you really need to prioritize and self-care, like me. Whatever it is, it’s important to remind yourself this is your why.

Practicing gratitude is also a great way to remember your why. You, like many other people, may have more than you really need. That’s great that you have been so blessed! So it may be a great time to remind yourself of what you already have and what you don’t need to pay for. Maybe you have some crafting items collecting dust or books that you’ve been meaning to read. Give thanks for the stuff you already have and keep yourself busy at home. Your cat will also be grateful that you’ll be home more.

Closing Remarks

Finding wiggle room in the budget may be hard at first. Even figuring out items you can cut and do without is really a privilege on its own since others are not so lucky. But if you are, it’s good practice to see what you can do without so that you can free up some extra money for whatever the next step in your life may be. For you and your cat!

The Latina’s Guide To Long Distance Love

Long distance love. As much as I wish this didn’t describe my current relationship sometimes, it does. H & I met at a personal finance blogger conference in 2012 but started dating towards the end of 2013-beginning of 2014. A perk of meeting at a blogger conference? Someone with similar interests as you! You have things to talk about and know a lot of the same people. Cool! Not so perk? They probably live in a different state than you, as was my experience.

H currently resides on the East Coast while I am in the Southwest. We actually live 3,000+ miles apart if anyone is counting. While we didn’t intend to be in a long distance relationship, you can’t help who you fall in love with sometimes. And I wouldn’t change a thing. After being together four years, we have been pretty successful when navigating the long-distance hiccups. So while we can’t wait until we are eventually under the same roof, we’re happy.

A lot of people will discourage you from trying to be in a long-distance relationship. I have found many of these people don’t do so out of spite, but perhaps out of concern. Maybe their friends or family members haven’t been so successful in a long distance relationship department. Or maybe they themselves have had doubts, which led to them not pursuing a relationship, long distance or otherwise. This doesn’t mean that you can’t be. If you happen to find yourself in a similar relationship Latinas, I have a few pointers for you when the times get rough.

Realize It’s Going To Be Hard

I’m a blunt person so I will be getting first things first out of the way. If you are going to be pursuing a long distance relationship with someone, for whatever reason, realize it’s going to be hard AF. Yes, I went there and it’s better to know now so you can prepare yourself. It’s not impossible, which some may lead you to believe, but it is hard.

Dating someone who lives in town is one thing, but dating someone who lives hours away, by car or airplane, is another. You can’t see each other as often as you’d like or do random things like catch a movie just because you felt like it. You may feel insecure because you aren’t a regular part of their life or meet all of the people in it. Isolation Island might feel like a real place.

It’s okay to feel like this. If you didn’t experience feelings of doubt and loneliness at least once in awhile, you aren’t human in my opinion. As humans, we are social creatures by nature and spend a lot of time with others. The same goes for relationships of the romantic pursuit. When you can’t see the one you love on a regular basis, it’s hard. But knowing this going in will help save you from frustration when the going gets tough.

Communication Is Everything

Just like any other relationship, communication is key Latinas. It might even be more important in a long distance relationship since you can’t physically see each other.

Believe it or not, I wasn’t always a great communicator. Sure, I’m a great talker but not a communicator. I still don’t fully believe I am but I am definitely more self-aware than I used to be. Often, I assumed my partner would know what I was thinking and why I would get so upset over certain things. He’s my partner, right? Doesn’t he know me?!?! Not only was my way of thinking flawed, it didn’t help that my boyfriend is a whole generation older than me. Being older doesn’t always equate to being more mature but he definitely is in this situation. We also communicate more efficiently through different mediums, such as by phone or text.

Take time to really learn each others communication style and if it’s different than yours, be flexible. My partner hates texting but will text me because he knows it means a lot to me. I assume he knows what I am thinking and will often run with something but now I know I need to slow down. And when my feelings get hurt, I know I need to take a timeout to really assess what is bothering me before I call him and lose it. Even if you are about to lose it, or you’re lonely, talk about these feelings with your partner so you can make it through.

Meet Each Other Half Way

No relationship is 50/50 and this is especially true when in long distance love. Because you don’t live by each other or see each other often, it’s easy to get caught up in trying to gather whatever breadcrumbs you can to make it work. You may think your partner should talk to you for a certain amount of time every day because you do. Or insert 25 other things you think your partner should be doing just because, especially if you are in a long-distance relationship.

I’m not saying you should do all of the heavy lifting in a relationship or make all of the effort, but it’s a great idea to meet your partner halfway. Discuss strengths and weaknesses with each other and figure out a way to play off of them. My partner hates doing things he feels are minute but still important, such as picking out a gift or planning a vacay. However, my partner can afford to travel more frequently to me than I can to him, so I happily make the tradeoff.

Think Outside The Box When Traveling

Since you are usually traveling somewhere anyways, try to think outside of the box!

Instead of always visiting each other in our cities, we will pick out a different one to try instead. When we had first started dating, we spent almost an entire week in Boston and it’s still one of my favorite trips to this date. When you are both in a new city for the first time, you get to enjoy each other’s company in a new light. Nothing makes relationships grow Latinas such as trying new and different things to make memories later on.

Decide what new city you would like to explore and plan a trip there instead of your honey’s town. Since you’ll be paying for traveling expenses anyways, save up a little bit more to help with accommodations when you arrive at your destination. Plan a fun new activity such as a cooking class and make sure to remember downtime, such as relaxing in the hot tub. Take time to explore a new city with the one you love. And if an expensive trip isn’t in the picture, try a small day trip to someplace new, even if it’s just a drive for a change of scenery.

Utilize Technology

Twenty years ago, people probably assumed we’d be in flying cars by now. We’re not quite there yet, (I’m looking at you self-driving cars), but technology has still come a long way. Pretty much everyone has access to a smartphone or a laptop with a video & camera option. The point is, our options for communicating aren’t limited to what they used to be.

Utilize technology to your advantage in a long distance relationship. Try to Skype or Facetime your loved one at least once a week to see their face and check in with them. Text each other cute photos throughout the day to share your life or send funny memes to let them know you are thinking of them. Send quick emails or share links to articles you think they would enjoy. One way I love utilizing technology is by sending my BF something quick off of Amazon for special events or surprising him with some groceries. My BF’s love language is a toss up between touch and acts of service, so anytime he doesn’t have to step into a grocery store, it’s appreciated.

Take Time To Do You

Chances are, you will not be in a long distance relationship forever. Some people are in one for a year or two while others, like myself, are in them for much longer. There is no right or wrong timeline, just like in any other relationship even though it might feel like it due to distance. But, instead of waiting around for the “future” to start when you are both in the same place, try your best living your life in the now.

It’s tempting to save all the new experiences in your life for your partner, even if you see them frequently. While it might make sense in nature, it’s not healthy. You and your partner are not the same person and will have different interests and preferences. Plus, putting a lot of pressure on someone to make your happy in all areas of your life is a great way to become single or develop some unhealthy relationship beliefs.

Instead of waiting for that prince or princess to visit, take advantage of all that time you may have and channel it into something productive. Put in those extra hours at work or learn a new skill. Run a marathon. Read all of the books that have been piling up on your bookshelf. Take a cooking class. And then share your full life with someone you love.

Closing Remarks

Relationships can be hard and at times, long distance relationships can be even harder. I can’t tell you how many times someone has mentioned that I’m the only person they know who has actually been successful at long distance dating. Although it makes me sad, I’m not surprised. Relationships take time, effort and remembering why you are doing this in the first place, no matter where your partner lives.

But long-distance love is not impossible. I hope by sharing the tips above and what has worked for me will inspire you to give it a go. By utilizing technology and practicing open communication you can maximize the time you spend, both with and without each other. Because who wants to spend the weekend arguing when you could be cuddling instead?

No One Is Going To Save You… Except You

Did you know that 1 in 3 women live below the poverty line? This is article is part of the #WomenRockMoney Movement collaboration. The #WomenRockMoney movement is to help inspire women, just like you, to own your power. For more badass women and money tips, click here

After setting down my last box, my ex-boyfriend looked me in the eye then shook his head. I sighed. I didn’t ask him to help move me out of his apartment. Nor did I ask him for a free bed he insisted I take because “it was collecting dust,” in his parent’s garage. And I really didn’t ask him for his opinion on what was going on with me.

All I knew was that I had just found myself in the same position I was a year prior. A different man, a different state. Definitely the same story though. “When will this end?” I asked myself as I set about unpacking my bedding. When will I find a man who loves me no matter what and will be there when I need him? I’m there for everyone else and they just don’t love me, I thought bitterly as I stuffed my pillows into their cases.

What Was I Doing Wrong?

A few months later, I was in my groove. I was working out every day, I finally felt confident in the classroom as a first-year teacher, and was just accepted into Arizona State University for the fall semester. I was the healthiest I’ve ever been, was traveling and met a great guy. Who cared if he lived across the country? I moved in with my boyfriends anyways. And I set about my business.

My cloud nine lasted about three months. Due to my unhealthy coping mechanisms and thoughts about how relationships would be, my relationship with my significant other, and myself, wasn’t always the way it should be. My partner was, and still continues to be, great but I didn’t know at the time how destructive my way of thinking was until I found myself in therapy a few years later. I was desperate to find out why I kept repeating the same old patterns, in all areas of my life. After a particularly rough time, I remember bawling at my dad’s ranch disappointed and miserable. Why can I just be normal I wondered?

I Finally Get An Answer

Thanks to a great therapist, and okay, myself for going, I realized I was codependent. Codependency can be described in a variety of different ways and situations but in laments term, it’s when you sacrifice yourself in hopes that someone will recognize you and love you. It basically when you have a martyr complex so you can manipulate others and control the situation in hopes that they won’t leave you. It sounds harsh and it is when you first hear it, but it’s true. And it’s no wonder you repeat the same patterns with different people, hoping that one day they will stay.

Codependency is not the same for everyone and can be expressed in a variety of different ways, with different relationships you may have. For me, being codependent means if I sacrifice myself enough for someone, they will never leave me. And what I really thought was a man would one day love me so much, he would save me. Only then, would I have the life I wanted. I just needed to live with him so I could feel secure enough to get started.

Instead Of A Man Saving Me, I Needed To Save Myself

When you have a breakthrough in therapy, you realize a lot. And sometimes, what you realize is how much you depend on other people to make you feel good about yourself and how much time you’ve wasted doing that. While I’ve always somewhat maintained a sense of identity in my relationships, I didn’t really know how to focus if I didn’t have someone around 24/7 to make me feel better and tell me what to do. I had never lived on my own, did things by myself, cared about my environment or focused on my future and providing for myself. For the first time, I asked myself, what if I actually end up alone? What if, at the end of the day, it really is just me? It was then I realized, I needed to save myself.

No man was going to come and love me so hard all my broken pieces were going to magically go back together, despite what a meme on Facebook told me. No man was going to make me forget about my tumultuous teenage past and no man was ever going to replace what I felt was really missing in my life. I needed to get my shit together on my own.

The Force Awakens

After Operation Get My Shit Together On My Own commenced, I started to make some moves. I figured out how living on my own worked and got my first apartment by myself. Staying true to my personal finance blogger peeps, I found an apartment with all utilities included for around 30% of my net income in a cute neighborhood in Phoenix. Sure, Phoenix Metro is always looking for someone in the middle of the night in their helicopter, and my living walls are three different types, but hey, who’s keeping score? I’m a hop and skip from downtown without paying for the zip code.

I started my own family by myself with the adoption of my fur baby Harrison. He’s a polydactyl feline who ended up being FIV positive. But that’s okay. His expensive hospital bill helped me prove to myself I could live on my own, establish an emergency fund, use it, and be okay. Don’t get too crazy universe though, I still have to eat.

My first son!

I went back to school and finally finished my bachelor’s degree, something I had always wanted to do for myself. Lots of tears went into that piece of paper but the saying is right. No one will ever take that away from me. Along with getting my fancy piece of paper, I also got a pay raise, which now lets me contribute regularly to retirement and an FSA which I really needed when being diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Oh yeah, I beat that too.

It’s Just Me, My Cat & I

As women, there is so much hubbub about relationships and what purpose they serve in your life. When all you want is to be loved, or saved, there is certainly a movie, a song or a meme that will lead you to believe this is definitely possible. Which is sad because some of us wait for these men, who may or may not come, for our lives to truly start. I was one of those women and I still have to fight myself sometimes not to be.

We need to stop doing this. As feminists throughout the years, and now, have fought for our rights, we need to act on them and quit waiting for a man to save us. We need to save ourselves!

Live on your own. Get the cat. Fund your retirement. Take that trip. Stack that cash. Dabble in all of those hobbies. And attract the best possible partner to support you when times get rough, but only if you want to. After all, you can save yourself.


2018 Goals Check In Pt 1

Happy Friday! I can’t believe we are already done with the first month in 2018! I wanted to report back on my goals for the year and keep myself accountable for my progress. Here’s the first of many updates!

Business (And Professional)

  • Regularly post on Money Smart Latina to bring resources and opportunities to help young women live their best lives. (All year) (Needs work. 0/12)
  • Match half of my day job income through my freelancing and blog. (All year) (Needs work but will still give credit. 1/12)
  • Create three freebies & two products (one e-book, one on Teachable). (Both completed by 9/15/2018) (Needs work 0/12)
  • Grow social media channels and newsletter subscribers to 4,000. (All year) (Needs work 0/12) Site redesign (Completed by June 2018) (N/A)
  • Present at a national conference (Completed by July 2018). (N/A)
  • Continue growing in my current role (All year). (Yes! 1/12)


  • Run a 5K (Completed by April 2018). (N/A)
  • Lose 40 lbs (10 lbs each by March 31st, June 30th, September 30th and December 31st). (1/4 done!)
  • Attend therapy 1x a week (All year). (Yes! 1/12)
  • Workout regularly 3x per week (All year). (Needs work 0/12)
  • Only drink alcohol on the weekends (All year). (Yes! 1/12)
  • Successfully work towards completing thyroid cancer treatment (All year). (YES, Done 1/31/2018)
  • Pray every day. (All year) (Yes! 1/12)


  • Pay $3,600 towards my student loans. (1/12)
  • Pay $6,000 of medical debt. (2/12)
  • Save $3,000 for a downpayment on a new car. (Needs work 0/12)
  • Save $3,000 towards dental work. (Needs work 0/12)
  • Move up retirement contributions by 2%. (Needs work 0/12)

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) (canceled)
  • Attend National Seminar in New Orleans. (Completed by July 2018)
  • Attend FinCon in September.
  • Italy in October w/ H. (canceled)
  • Christmas Family Vacation (Completed by December 2018).
  • Read 36 books. (Ahead of schedule! 2/12)

Business & Professional Summary

This area needs a lot of work. Quite honestly, I haven’t practiced good time management this month. I was zoning out a lot for the first half of it when I wasn’t freelancing and wasted a lot of time. Most of it was spent mindlessly scrolling through social media on my phone in bed. It’s okay every once in awhile to check out mentally, but I can do it for hours, which isn’t a good thing.

However, the second half of the month was much better. I got all of my freelancing done on time, invoiced before the end of the month, attended a webinar my friend Latisha put on and worked on some accountability goals. But, after rounding up my spending, I really need to focus on my business so I can grow my income to help with some of my financial goals. Even if I drastically cut my spending, I still wouldn’t be able to make some of them. Time to hustle!


Health is going pretty well! I’ve been regularly attending yoga, going to the chiropractor and I’ve lost 10lbs. I wasn’t expecting to lose 10lbs until at least March so I will take it as a win! I also made all of my checkups this month which will explain why my health category was so damn high, in regards to spending.

The biggest win this month was that my endocrinologist called and told me that THERE ARE NO CANCER MARKERS IN MY BLOOD. This means that I am now testing negative for cancer in my bloodwork, which is great news! I am not cancer free but I do not have to go back to the endocrinologist until 6-12mths. Such a blessing. God is good!

Although I’ve had such good progress on a few goals, I have stalled in some. I get carried away and don’t practice balance. So while my eating has been great, I’ve been slacking off on taking my supplements and working out. I need to figure out a consistent way to balance it all.


Finance is an area that definitely needs some work. This is the first time I have tracked my spending for a full month in probably years. Now I know I definitely need to get back to it. What gets tracked gets measured, eh? My spending is in percentages as followed. This doesn’t include any money I have in my emergency fund, put towards retirement or other benefits through work.

  • Rent/ Utilities 28.29%
  • Health 20.23%
  • Debt 15%
  • Groceries 7.73%
  • Transportation 6.70%
  • Entertainment 6.80%
  • Resturants 6.18%
  • Harrison 3.78%
  • Business 1.71%
  • Beauty/ Hygiene 1.58%
  • Home .72%
  • Travel .69%

I honestly thought being home this month would free up room in my budget and I now know that was a lie. As a natural spender and extrovert, I always want to go out and do fun things with my friends. And since I have a lot of friends, it’s not hard finding someone to go out with.  I stay home on Fridays too!

I also spent a ton of money on my health this month. Checkups, prescriptions and ongoing management add up. But, I need to be proactive now so my health stays steady and does not get worse. Once you have one autoimmune disorder, they start racking up so it’s important to be as proactive as possible.

My goal next month was to try to cut my spending by at least 10% but my body laughed at me. It could definitely be worse though and I’ll get into that in next months update. I’m happy my living expenses are still under 30% despite my rent increase and I was able to pay 15% of my take-home pay towards debt!

Fun & Relationships

As indicated above, I am having a grand ole time in this department.

This month, I’ve gone to a Backstreet Boys vs N’Sync Dance Off Party, attended my friends roller-derby game (she’s a beast), checked out a new bar by my house I always wanted to and got together for dinner with a few others. Everyone probably says this, but I am truly blessed with the support system that I have. What I lack in family, God has given me in friends and I recognize that is a significant blessing. It’s been nice to finally be in town for a longer than a week and catch up with so many.

I’ve also been taking time to catch up on my reading. So far this year, I’ve read six books.

  • The Fall (The Strain Trilogy #2) by Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan
  • The Night Eternal (The Strain Trilogy #3) by Guillmero Del Toro & Chuck Hogan
  • Make Every Man Want You by Marie Forleo
  • In Full Color by Rachel Dolezal
  • Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King & Owen King
  • A Sick Life by Tionne “T-Boz” Wakins

A few years ago, I became a huge fan of the TV show “The Strain.” I don’t watch TV very often but I do have a few shows I enjoy. Although the TV show was based on a trilogy, I had never picked it up until this past Christmas. I immediate became hooked and finished the trilogy in a matter of days. If you are a fan of horror and advance vampire scenarios, I highly recommend it. The writing was done beautifully and actually left me spooked. H’s pipes were making a sound and I made him investigate because I was certain someone was in a wall, LOL. Another but less spooky book I finally read was Sleeping Beauties. Not as gory as other Stephen King books but will still keep you on your toes.

The rest of the books I read were memoirs and one self-help book. Rachel Dolezal is very interesting and I won’t really say a lot on her book or her actions of cultural appropriation but I enjoyed to see how she rationalized her actions. I also enjoyed “A Sick Life.” I’ve always been a huge TLC fan and it was interesting to see her take on her chronic illness. As someone in her early thirties, it can be really discouraging to have so many autoimmune disorders but this book reminded me I’m not alone in my fight.

And as for travel, a few of my trips I planned to take this year have been canceled. Timing was for a few of them and one was the political climate. This is not a politics blog but travel for Americans isn’t what it used to be. But then again, was it ever?

Closing Remarks

I’m happy with this month’s progress. I feel really good about some areas in my life and recognize I need more balance so I can spend some time on others. I am considering make changes in my schedule so I can spend more time on my business and will be hopefully reporting back next month on a positive note.

How did your month go?

The Latina’s Guide To Traveling

As I have mentioned before, I used to dream of traveling. Being so broke in my 20s didn’t allow me a lot of extras. After a canceled trip with friends,  I decided to finally make my dream into a reality in 2013 by booking a plane ticket to New York City. I had a friend who (still) lives in Brooklyn, so she not only hosted me but also played tour guide (thanks, Leslie!).  I unlocked a love that I had no idea even existed and ran with it. Soon after, I broke up with my ex-boyfriend and started renting a room from a friend. Renting a room, and now being smart with my current apartment setup, has allowed me the flexibility, both financially and physically, to travel.

Even though I have an insane passion for traveling, I have decided to scale back my trips this year to work on my goals, mainly my business and health. It’s hard for me to fully commit to these two things if I am not in a consistent environment. But even with scaling back, I’ll still be spending time in the friendly skies. And I want to share my travel tips to help you can enjoy your vacation too!

Set The Intent For Your Trip

As much as I love a good plan, I’ve realized you need to be honest with yourself. So, before you plan any trip, ask yourself two questions:

  • What is the purpose of my trip?
  • What kind of traveler do I want to be?

Over the years, I’ve realized no two trips are the same, even if it’s the same destination. I’ve been to Orlando twice for work and each time I had a different experience, because of what traveler I had decided to be. One trip felt frazzled because I insisted on cramming everything in and one trip felt relaxing because I stayed in more, ate on site and got more quality sleep.

By asking yourself the questions above, you can be more precise about how you would like to plan your trip. If your trip is to sightsee and you want to be relaxed, maybe only schedule one thing a day instead of cramming five. There is no right or wrong way to travel; it’s about following the intent you set and having fun.

Do your research

Once you have set your intent for your trip, start doing some research! Look up your destination on your phone and see what there is to do. Make a list of everything that seems excited, then look further into logistics and pricing. Once you have a list of possible sights, start stacking them up against the intent of your trip and timeline.

It’s important to note hours of location and days it will be closed. Check to see if it’s accessible via your mode of transportation and if they take cash or credit. It’s assumed that everyone accepts a card these days, but that’s not always the case. In fact, plenty of vendors do not want to pay a transaction fee so they will happily accept only cash or provide an onsite ATM that charges you even more money.

It’s also essential to research possible admission and wait times. Last year when I went to San Francisco, Alcatraz Island was sold out for weeks in advance. Alcatraz Island is also very time consuming and if I hadn’t known that in advance, I would have attempted to squeeze in another activity.

Save Adequately

After you’ve set the intent for your trip and a general plan, be sure to save adequately. I can’t stress this enough for so many reasons. Stuff happens in life so you can expect it to happen when traveling.

While traveling, I’ve needed medical care, lost items that needed to be replaced, broken things by accident and have had to figure out alternative transportation. I’ve also decided that I was going to have that extra Malibu & Pineapple drink, eat that dessert or buy that cute trinket I didn’t need.

It’s important to not only save for what you plan on doing but to save a bit extra just in case. Nobody likes to feel stressed out when traveling. Money doesn’t make you a happier person but it can definitely make things easier.  A good rule of thumb I follow is to save an additional fifty dollars per day I’m away. I almost always bring home extra cash that just goes towards my next adventure!

Keep a bag of essentials on you when traveling

While I pack as much as I can in the suitcase I check (I have a bad back), there are some items I refuse to part with when traveling and keep them in my backpack at all times. Think about it. Are there some items that you would have a hard time replacing or are irreplaceable? Yeah, don’t check them. While the worst thing that happened to me was someone had gone through my luggage at the Philadelphia Airport baggage claim, I consider myself lucky. I’ve heard worse experiences such as people’s items get stolen or their entire bag goes missing. Someone in my study abroad program didn’t have his suitcase for five days.

My carry on consists of everything I need to keep me going for a few days in case something happened to my luggage. Any electronics with their respectable chargers are kept in my bag along with headphones, a book and any other source of entertainment. I also keep my makeup bag with a few toiletries and all of my prescription meds on hand. Where you are traveling to may not have your pharmacy, or your copays may just be outrageous like mine. As a bonus, I keep a sweater, snacks, an eye mask and earplugs for some additional comforts. I can’t nap very often on planes anymore, but I do enjoy resting while listening to a podcast. And snacks ensure I am never hungry when traveling due to being a Celiac.

Be realistic & safe

Traveling is exciting and is also full of unknowns. No one expects to be caught in an uncomfortable situation or get sick. But things happen, and it’s better to be safe than sorry, especially as female travelers.

If you are traveling alone or with a group of friends, make sure someone knows of your location at all times. Human trafficking is real and so is rape. To help prevent this, do not leave your drink unattended for any amount of time. If someone offers to buy you a drink, ask the bartender if you can watch them make it. Do not get into a strangers car if they offer you a ride or offer to go to their hotel room if you have just met them. I know I probably sound like a buzz kill if you are intent on having fun, but I’m okay with that. As a criminal justice major, and social justice warrior, I’ve heard horror stories, especially involving women of color.

It’s also important when traveling to have emergency contact information ready to go in case something happens to you or you get sick. When studying abroad in Israel, the stomach flu ran through our class like wildfire. Two people were hospitalized and one didn’t have any emergency contact information. You may not get the flu but there are other accidents and ailments that could harm you. Make sure your emergency contacts are accessible and ready to go. If you have a serious health condition, it may be worth it to invest in a medical I.D bracelet.

Enjoy The Present

The last piece of advice I’ll share is to try to enjoy the present. In today’s world, it’s so easy to be glued to your phone checking in everywhere and taking photos. I am so guilty of this myself! I now try to make a conscious effort to put my phone away and enjoy my experience. I’m not perfect, and my phone comes out way more than it should, but I’m trying.

Two things I’ve done to help me enjoy the present is to journal at night for a few minutes and accept that my day will not 100% go as planned. By journaling, I’m taking time to write things down that  I would like to remember as well as time to reflect. I love visiting museums when I’m traveling, and sometimes, the material is deep. Journaling helps me process any residual feelings I may have.

Accepting my day for what it is has helped me be in the present by relieving frustration. I have a lot of health issues and I get frustrated when I can’t do any activity It’s usually because I need to rest or my body just can’t physically handle it. When I feel anguish, my coping mechanism is to usually cry. Now, I try to be kind to myself and instead, look for things to be grateful for. Last December, my back went out while visiting my boyfriend.  I literally laid on his bed and cried.

But being kind allowed me to not dwell on this setback and instead, be grateful. The previous day I walked all over New York City and even saw Hamilton on Broadway with absolutely no pain. Yes, I was currently in a lot of pain but I could take this time to just be. And because I didn’t stress and make my back worse, I felt ready to go the next day!

Closing Remarks

Traveling as a Latina, or anyone can be a lot of fun! Every time I travel, I am filled with excitement and wonder. Even if it’s someplace I’ve been to a dozen times, like New York City, there is always something that makes me happy to be there.

I hope by sharing my tips above, I have inspired you to go on your own journey. By setting an intention for your trip and doing your research, you will be able to save adequately. Having a great flight can help you feel refreshed when you arrive at your destination and ready to go when you land. Have fun Latinas!

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).


  • 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).


  • 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.


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.


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?