Does My Spending Align With My Values?

preparation is my financial empowerment

Last month when I sat down to read my copy of Jason Vitug’s “You Only Live Once,” I was left with some questions and pondering to do. This is great because I love books that make me think, yet I wondered if some of my pondering was due to recent changes in my own life. Parting with an old friend, my beloved fur child showing me that life is delicate and my accomplishments in my career that leaves me so rewarded at the end of the day emotionally, yet financially I’m just starting to get where I want to be.

I am grateful for everything in my life, above and beyond. I always feel reflective right before my birthday because this is when I tend to reevaluate where I am in my life, personally, professionally and in between. One thing I would like to back to is putting my financial house back in order. While my first year of going back to school was financially okay, I took a huge hit this past year. I’m not proud of it, but I can admit a few months I was living paycheck to paycheck because my emergency fund seemed it just wouldn’t rebuild itself. Once it was rebuilt, it came shattering down in less than three days and I am still paying off a vet bill. Although life financially has been everywhere, it could always be worse and I am thankful I have been kept in favor. It could always be worse and it pays to remember that.

Part of getting my financial house in order has to do with my spending. When kept in check, I’m able to save all the money and pay off my debts with wiggle room in the bank. When left to my old ways, I treat myself way more than necessary and let my laziness kick in. I’m extremely lazy and will happily eat out. I also have no problem drowning my night owl sorrows in the mornings with Starbucks. But, am I really spending on my values, as Jason’s book suggest? What are my values and does my spending reflect that?

My values change from time to time, but I can narrow it down to a primary few: education, health, people and security. My BF laughed and said everyone values these things but do they really? If you value feeling secure, do you have tons of savings for a rainy day? What about health? If you say you value health, do you really if you are eating cheeseburgers through the drive through?

Education is something I grew up with and is instilled in me to be important but even when I took time off on my own to discover what really mattered, education was always on the front burner. My mother and father both valued education although they only had some community college classes under their belt and not any formal degrees. My mom took a lot of law classes in her hopes to become a paralegal before she became chronically ill but had an insane passion for reading as did my father. His classes were more of a sales and business background but he always stayed busy reading the newspaper and watching CBS Nightly News with Dan Rather. Seriously, I was the only teenager who probably thought Dateline was cool. I think my father consistently consuming the news helped develop my love of true crime which I later turned into a criminology and criminal justice degree.

Health is something that has only become important to me as of the last few years so I have to backtrack to fix mistakes, although with time it’s getting better. I’ve always had chronic asthma and fought anxiety but my late twenties came with a slew of health concerns. I discovered I had severe scoliosis which answered my lifetime questioning about why my posture was so bad and  why my back actually hurt when I tried to stand up properly. I also have battled ongoing mental health issues which I know were always there but I can no longer hide like I used to. Paying for chiropractic care and a therapist is something that is always on going in my budget and neither is cheap.

I love people and animals, even though that wasn’t always the case when I was younger. The people part, not the animal part. I’ve always been a cat lady.  One of the reasons my career in the non-profit sector has been so successful is because I sincerely love helping people better themselves and their lives. I love finding resources people need and connecting the dots, especially youth. I love my friends because I don’t have a huge family and while I have reconnected with my dad, it’s hard sometimes because he is still trying to break bad habits and thought patterns. He’s only human after all. I love people so it’s hard for me to really give up on someone. I also love meeting new people and learning about their culture which is why I love traveling so much. I like seeing how other people live and what they have experienced because I know my way is not always the right one. And my cat brings me so much joy, on a daily basis, I can only continue to provide for him the best I can.

And, although this is the value I probably spend the least time thinking about, it’s the one I should spend the most on, security. Security is probably all the not so fun stuff goes under, such as car insurance and rent but it’s what puts a roof over my head and provides with the opportunity to provide an income to pursue my other values. I honestly sleep better at night knowing there is money in my checking account and I am able to provide for myself through multiple income streams that I have set up. But, security is the one that stresses me out the most. I need to save more for retirement, save a bigger emergency fund and just save more in general for other things that I put off but need to do.

Looking this over, I can say my spending is align to my values, just not all of the time. I wonder what it would take to get to where my spending was in line with my values 100% of the time or if that is even possible. While I’m not sure it’s possible, I would love to try to find out in the upcoming year.

What do you value and how does your spending align with it?

August Goals


It’s August, the most special time of the year! When I was younger, I was always Jonesing to go back to school shopping and to celebrate my birthday. My mom made a really big deal out of both since I was an only child so August was usually full of magic. Now that I’m older, I have friends who partake in birthday month shenanigans with me and this is the first year in awhile I don’t have to buy school supplies. Huzzah!

Along with H coming out for a visit, I have tons of birthday month plans. A girls night, Suicide Squad viewing with friends and a Guns & Roses concert, my birthday month is gonna be off the hook! I still have goals though gotta stay motivated and take care of business during the work week. 😉

  • Lay out a business plan for Money Smart Latina for the rest of the year. After finishing my bachelors degree, getting a promotion at work and taking some time off, I’ve decided it’s time to focus on Money Smart Latina. I have tons of great ideas that I would like to see come into fruition and I am the only one holding myself back. My goal is to really get a handle on everything by the time I attend FinCon. Anyone else attending?
  • Take care of myself. I really under estimate how much rest I need and crash out on the weekends. Along with chronic asthma and BPD which is quite exhausting, I also suffer from a chronic pain condition in my back. Along with getting rest, I need to see my primary doctor to get refills, eat plenty of fresh veggies and fruits, take my supplements and take time to actually decompress.
  • Finish funding my emergency fund. I’m half way to my emergency fund getting topped off before I work on some other financial goals and I really hope I can do it this month. I was a little spendy this past weekend but I need to reign it in.

That’s it. I’m being super social this month so I don’t want to put too much on my plate. Bonus goal would be to declutter half my apartment since I feel like I have too much stuff again. I haven’t done a deep cleaning since last summer so that would be nice but I will be spending a lot of time with one of my clients so we will see what I have time for.

What do you have planner for this month?


July Goals Recap

Pshew! Although July started off rocky, and has had it’s ups and downs, I’m pretty happy with my progress and how the month turned out. I was able to save a decent amount of money besides having some expenses and spent 75% of the month traveling when I had originally expected 50%. Not only did I get to enjoy Disney World paid for a work conference, I also got to enjoy two new to me Arizona cities, Jerome and Tucson. I’ll be spending a lot more time in Tucson as part of my role as a manager. Besides transitioning into my new work role, I also won two national awards this year for my work in my community and data. So humbled. On to the goals!

  • Enjoy time with H. (With our crazy schedules, we gotta sneak time in when we can.) PASS H and I have insane schedules so while half of the time was spent doing previous commitments, we still squeezed in a road trip complete with truck stop meals. Along with new adventures, we had a few dates included fancy dinners, massages and an outdoor movie at Grounds For Sculpture, one of my favorite places on the east coast.
  • Enjoy and meet five new people at my work conference. ( New management position + newly created program means new opportunities for me, my team and my organization.) PASS 
  • Help the transition with my old position to the new person. ( Want to set them up for success!) PASS I will say pass even though this didn’t happen, due to no fault of my own. I am currently filling in until we hire the right person which may take all month.
  • Get one more freelance client. ( With my new position, I am nolonger able to do one of my side hustles so I am working on additional income streams and growing my business.) FAIL. I exchanged emails with a person who was interested in services but nothing came of it. I didn’t seek any other opportunities but have had a possible change of heart with my time and where it’s allotted.
  • Clean out and reorganize my kitchen. ( Want to do a full declutter on my tiny apartment and I am starting here.) FAIL. I was gone the whole month so I didn’t get a chance to do this. Oops.

That’s it for July. I’ll be sharing on Wednesday my new goals for August. I’ll actually be turning 31 this year- eep!

How was your month?


Money Smart Latina Reviews… You Only Live Once

All progress takes place outside the comfort zone (1)

I met Jason Vitug a few years ago during FinCon13. Actually, another blogger had mentioned that he would be there and I was friends with her so she mentioned to both of us we should connect. We happened to bump into each other on the dance floor of a party I was throwing.

At FinCon, people don’t really discuss their dance skills but rather their projects, passions and purpose. Jason was filled with all of the above and since meeting him all those years ago, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know him along with working on projects with him. I’ve spent time staff writing for him as well as meeting up with him on his famous grassroots mission, The Road To Financial Wellness. One of Jason’s passions is to make talk of finances less taboo and really get dialogue started to help you think about the life you want to live. 

Jason recently released a book after coming off his award winning collaboration on the road and before going out for his second tour, You Only Live Once. He’s taken the YOLO acronym millennials are so fond of using and instead of using to make it rain at Starbucks, he’s implied it in a purposeful way to help you think about creating the life you want. And maybe I’m the one who makes it rain at Starbucks but I digress. 

You Only Live Once is different from the usual finance book in the way that it actually can be broken up into a self help book as well. I know some people groan at the word self help but I find that since becoming a self help groupie a few years ago, my mindset on life and what I can accomplish has changed. Sure, I was taking care of my finances but I’d always find myself back at square one with just about everything and that’s because my mindset never changed. 

Mindset is a big part of keeping your finances on the right course and aiding in your road trip to a purposeful life, which is discussed in this book. It doesn’t necessarily tell you about The Secret or staying positive, but it discusses personal core values. Quite easily, people are able to say certain things matter but don’t spend time or invest in it financially. If you don’t invest time or money into something, like a goal of traveling, it’s easy to get caught up in just talk and not action. 

Along with speaking of our core values, it also discusses the notion of time. What do we really spend our time on? Is it something mindless like TV watching or FB scrolling or is it something making our lives more productive, such as reading a book or spending time with a loved one? Both things that people say they value but don’t necessarily make time for, then get upset they aren’t living a life of purpose. 

When making the choice to go back to school as an adult working full-time, I convinced my roommate to actively cut our cable. I had found myself wasting hours on consumption on the TV in the living room set and knew I needed to limit as many distractions as possible in preparation of getting an education. To this day, I pride myself on not watching TV. I watch four shows and refuse to get sucked into any new ones. I own a TV but I usually forget I have it since it was a gift from my dad when I got my own apartment. As a matter of fact, it collected dust in my living room for three months before I hooked it up and then it was another month before I watched an episode of AHS on it.

Jason’s book is filled with real life examples and stories like the one I provided above as well as financial advice for beginners. Along with the great credit avalanche/ snowball debate, he also talks about budgeting, investing and spending on your core values. After making a list of my values, which I’ll be sharing next week, I realized some of my spending aligns but not all. With a recent promotion and my birthday within a month, it was a great time to sit back and think about the upcoming year. 

I highly reconnect You Only Live Once and I can’t wait to see what else Jason has in store!

July Goals

Only being a month into summer this year and it’s already been a doozy on two different fronts. Between my cat getting dangerously ill to learning the hard way and having to adult, it’s been insanely expensive. This summer I was really hoping to save money but it’s been, eh, a little rough so far. However, it’s not all stormy clouds! I’m traveling for half of the month,  I picked up a new social media gig I am insanely excited about and the biggest news of the year besides graduating, I GOT A PROMOTION! Yup, just call me Mr. Manager cause that’s what I am.

Since I’m away from home for exactly half the month, I want to keep my goals short and sweet.

  • Enjoy time with H. (With our crazy schedules, we gotta sneak time in when we can.)
  • Enjoy and meet five new people at my work conference.  ( New management position + newly created program means new opportunities for me, my team and my organization.)
  • Help the transition with my old position to the new person. ( Want to set them up for success!)
  • Get one more freelance client. ( With my new position, I am nolonger able to do one of my side hustles so I am working on additional income streams and growing my business.)
  • Clean out and reorganize my kitchen. ( Want to do a full declutter on my tiny apartment and I am starting here.)

Short and sweet, just like I like it. Positive vibes and thoughts.


Want To Demolish Your Emergency Fund? Get A Cat!

The culprit in fluffier, more frugal times.

The culprit in fluffier, more frugal times.

Two weeks before I closed on my apartment last year, I went running with my friend Monica. Well, maybe she was running and I was walking around trying to look productive. After our run, she told me excitedly, “I found you a cat.” She had known that I was debating whether to get a furry friend once I moved in to my new place and had already found me one. “He’s a rescue,” she explained, “Look at his toes.” Curiously, I looked at the ad she showed me from her neighborhood news letter and fell in love. He had all the criteria I had wanted in a cat, adult and only cat child needs, plus adorable thumbs from a polydactyl gene. Polydactyl cats are lovingly referred to as Hemingway cats since he collected them and I was ready to take my new friend home.

I didn’t know that the couple I had adopted him from fostered cats regularly and I not only had to have a phone interview but an in person one as well to see how the cat reacted to me and my boyfriend. My boyfriend H, doesn’t even live with me or live by me for that matter, but they needed to make sure we were good people, which I admired. He had been named Harrison by his foster parents, which bummed me out because I had wanted to name him Hemingway and felt he was probably already used to his name since they had had him for a few months. H joked that I could call him Harrison George, a swap of my favorite Beatles name, and it was sealed.

After bringing him home, I realized what had been missing in my life in my new furry friend. I was so fortunate that I ended up with such a good cat. He has only broken two things ( oops!), has never clawed any furniture or had an accident. He eats dry food, goes in his liter box and lounges in bed watching Netflix when I need him too. We have rituals and I am THAT person on Facebook who posts tons of cat photos. I was even going to to write a post on how frugal a pet he was until it happened. What happened?

CatGate 2016.

harrison sick

It had started out innocently enough, I suppose. I came home from work after a long day back after a three day weekend. Harrison, who usually greets me at the door sauntered in and looked at me expectantly glanced nervously around the room. I picked him and walked over to the couch to cuddle with him only to be hit in the face by the stench of cat vomit on my new rug. I looked at him then looked at the rug and cooed at him for being sick. Poor thing, I thought. Maybe he meant to choke up a hair ball. But then, I noticed more vomit around the room. and less than 15 minutes later, he threw up again. What was going on?

After calling the vet, I packed him up in his kitty crate and whisked him off to the vet. Throwing up was completely new to us and it made have a sick feeling in my gut. After spending what seemed like forever at the vet, I noticed he was getting worse. He seemed in pain and couldn’t get comfortable. He had stopped throwing up but it was replaced with him smacking his lips, a sign that shows dehydration in felines. After signing off on $300 worth of tests, he was diagnosed with gastroenteritis and a swollen bladder. Since swollen bladders in felines is serious, I left him there to be observed over night with a vet. I felt they could keep a better eye on the bladder issue than I could sleeping so I went home without him but feeling overly optimistic.

It didn’t last long though. The next day while getting ready for a meeting, I called to check on him and found out that he actually had come down with a severe fever. I didn’t even know cats could get fevers but here he was, with a severe fever, swollen bladder and refusing to eat or drink anything. After my meeting I opted to work home for the rest of the day and spent my breaks checking on him until the vet could provide me with some answers. An IV drop was set up in his cage and just like a little human, he had tape running around his wrist to keep the needle in. He seemed medicated out of his mind on pain pills and an anti-inflammatory and still hadn’t eaten or used the rest room yet. He was also sitting on ice packs to help bring the temperature down.

Before I went to bed, I had called again to check on him and heard good news. He was using the restroom! And not only that but his fever had broken. I could definitely take him home the next day. Feeling relieved, I fell asleep. I was already a basket because he wasn’t home but hearing he could come home the next day helped me relax. It changed though. I received a phone call in the morning telling me he had went back to a fever again and was getting more fluids. He obviously had an infection somewhere in his colon but they couldn’t figure out why he was so sick since he was an indoor cat and why his immune system wasn’t responding. Still positive, I went to a work retreat and agreed to additional testing to help him, even though the financial costs was now rising.

During my lunch break, I heard bad news. Harrison, although testing negative at the time of adoption from his foster parents, had tested positive for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus or FIV. Yes, it’s the cat version of HIV. And yes, he was having a severe flare up which left his immune system struggling. After crying and getting through a rough day at work unrelated to my cat, I rushed to the vet who had started him on a strong antibiotic and more fluids. He was given a appetite stimulant, new medicines for his immune system, vitamins and an antibiotic. FIV is no longer a death sentence for cats, just like it once was for humans. I never realized how similar immune systems were except cats spread the disease through biting during cat fights or mating.

Although I am bummed Harrison might have a shorter life because of his disease, I am happy that I had an emergency fund to help him get the treatment he needed and deserved. He is everything to me and I sincerely look forward to going home to him everyday. Almost losing him also reminded me that I am not alone, I actually have a furry friend that thinks the world of me 24/7. This situation has also inspired me to save even more in my emergency fund since my cat wiped it out in two days. I’ve always maintained a $1,000 but I think pet ownership requires an even bigger one. My new goal is going to be bookmarked for $3,000 which aligns with what I had envisioned earlier in the year before life happened.

So, if you want companionship, a roommate with attitude and an occasional snuggle, cat ownership may be right for you. But only if you are willing to wipe our your emergency fund.

Any pet emergencies break your efund?

Friday Wrap Up- Transitioning, Life with FIV and Friends

If I had to sum up the past few weeks of my life, I would have to say it’s in a period of transition.

While I used to be terrified of change and hated it, as I’ve gotten older I’ve become slightly more open to it. I dig the self help articles that tell me and everyone else how important change is and how it gives us the opportunity to grow, blah blah blah. I think it’s more so that I don’t dig change so much as the self help articles. I really dig self help articles. Anyways, since graduating with my bachelors, it’s opened up a few doors for me and while I don’t want to jinx anything, I should know more and have good news later this month ( or next!). While I wait, because I can’t really do anything else, I prepare myself for transition of responsibilities and the tying of any loose holes.


Speaking of transition, the school year is finally over! All of my students got to graduate and we held our annual teacher gathering after the last day of school. As you can see, we look swell after teaching for a year. It’s good thing teachers get to recover during the summer! One of our good friends S is moving to Washington D.C so we held a small get together after at my apartment and swam while singing 80’s songs at the top of our lungs.

I also can not not ( is that proper grammar?) talk about transition lately unless I mention Harrison!

harrison sick

Don’t be fooled, this cone of shame costed me $1,300. Although he does look adorably pitiful in it. A few weeks ago I came home to a house covered in cat vomit and a lethargic cat. I was instantly alarmed since he never throws up and immediately loaded him up into his cat carrier and took him to the vet. I will be writing more about this incident on Monday, but he was recently diagnosed with FIV and was suffering from a flare up. He had tested negative when I adopted him but the virus was dormant, just like humans. Also, just like humans, he has to take a HIV cocktail for the rest of his life so we’ve been transitioning into a new routine and adjusting what our new FIV positive kitty life looks like. He is, however, feeling much better. Good enough to supervise my work obviously!


Besides transitioning and a weekend spent with friends, I spent sometime in bookstores this past week! One of my blogging besties ( and IRL friends!) Jana of Jana Says came out for a few days and along with taking her to my hip local spots ( ha, I just called myself hip!), we toured a local bookstore that is filled with books, kitch, and authors like Joe Hill and Chuck Palahniuk who regularly drop by and do book signings. I found this gem and while I did not end up buying it, still seemed pretty legit.

cat kill

I also found my friend Jason’s book! You may know Jason from the Road To Financial Wellness Tour he organizes and now he is also a published author. Found his book at Barnes & Noble, which I will be doing a review of soon!


Spending all this time in bookstores reminded me I currently own 47 books at home that I haven’t picked up so it’s time to hop back on my reading challenge I do every year on Goodreads. Despite being in school half of the year, I vowed to read 52 books in 52 weeks and I’m a little behind. Picked this up Amazon after hearing so much about on The People Vs. O.J Simpson so I’ve bee working on it. Cat not included.


This weekend, my grand plans are being a hermit. Since I’m not entertaining this weekend ( my dad will have to get his card in the mail!), I plan on being holed up in the apartment during the heatwave we are supposed to get slammed with. I’m okay though since OITNB is coming out today!

Any fun weekend plans?

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Preparation Is My Financial Empowerment

The following blog post is part of The Road to Financial Wellness blog tour. The Road to Financial Wellness is a three-month, grassroots campaign promoting financial empowerment on a national level and encourages people to pursue their dream lifestyle. Find out more about local events near you

preparation is my financial empowerment

Since embarking on my personal finance journey, I always credited two events as my rock bottom. One I actually learned from and that was not being able to pay for a semester of school at a community college. My FAFSA wouldn’t go through and it was less than a month to the starting of school. It was $900, I worked part-time and had maybe $50 to my name. I was 23 years old.

Since starting my financial journey, and blogging in some shape or form over the years, I’ve had highs and lows. I’ve had thousands stashed away and sometimes, I was living paycheck to paycheck. Although I think I have a grasp on things now, I feel like I never know what’s around the corner, and that is me being brutally honest with you. At any time, you could lose your job, get in a car crash or have a close family member die unexpectedly. And I can tell you these things happen because they have all happened to me and set me back financially, emotionally and physically.

But, what I can also tell you is that you can try to prepare, like I am doing now. Actually, my twenties have felt like a whole lot of preparation and it’s the times I stop that things go south. When I take time to actually budget my paycheck, I usually have an amount leftover for my goals versus not knowing where my money went. When I take time to prepare my day the night before, I’m usually not so rushed and grouchy the next day. And when I made the financial decision to go back to school, I knew two years of hard work was going to prepare me for the next step of my entrance in the workforce and in my life.

Preparation is the way I’ve been able to financially empower myself and it comes from within. I can’t stop bad things from happening to me but I can prepare and empower myself in whatever way I can. I can work on having a healthy savings account and remind myself why it’s imperative when I would much rather go out to eat and not warm up leftovers. I can go back to school and work on my skill set when I would rather just be comfortable. And, I can let myself feel my feelings when I would rather go shopping as most recovering spenders would and talk to my therapist instead.

Financial empowerment is about finding something inside you that empowers you to financially take on the world. Preparation is mine. What’s yours?


Latina Money Hack- Head To The Dollar Store!

Since making the decision to live on my own, I’ve had to work and rework my budget numerous times. Your budget is a living, breathing document that is supposed to be flexible to accommodate your life on your terms. So, it makes sense that I would work and rework to help me create the life I want to live.

One of the ways I’ve saved is by creating money hacks, which is a new series I’m happy to start sharing with you. And our first Latina Money Hack is… The Dollar Store!

Latina Money SaVing hack- Dollar store.

Why the dollar store? 
I myself used to be a snob and not realize the ultimate wonderfulness of the dollar store. I was always quick to run to Target instead to buy everyday items I needed until I decided to get my first apartment. My friend Briana told me to stop by the dollar store to stock up on cleaning items for my new pad and once I was there, I was amazed at what you were actually able to buy. Besides going to the dollar store for quick party items, needless to say, I wasn’t really taking advantage of all the things I could be buying to get my casa in shape!

Cleaning, Household and Kitchen Items
You can get anything at the dollar store but I really like stopping by now for stuff for my casa. Here, I can snap up garbage bags, comet powder, comet bathroom spray and sponges for less than big box store prices, because everything is a dollar. I can also grab random stuff for my kitchen like wooden spoons, a spatula, measuring cups and spoons, along with serving size Tupperware for packing my lunch. Since I also don’t print pictures all the time, when I do happen to have a special picture I can just grab one individually. The dollar store even has some pretty cute home decor items and kitchen towels and mats for, you guessed it, a dollar.

My Girl Likes Party Items All The Time
Anyone who knows me knows the importance I give when throwing or celebrating a special event. Since my current position at a non-profit enables me to throw celebrations but needs me to stay on a budget, I love hitting up the dollar store for this. Along with seasonal decorations that coordinate to a holiday, you can also find graduation swag along with fun items for Mardi Gras and weddings. I also enjoy stocking up on balloon weights which look cute as centerpieces along with fun items to decorate tables with, such as bubbles or confetti and dinner mints. And for gift giving, you can’t beat the gift bag selection, tissue paper and cards for a buck as well.

Dollar Stores Are Great For Random Personal Items
Do you ever feel when your buying something, say at Target, that you could be getting it somewhere else for cheaper? That’s probably true and it’s probably at the dollar store. I started buying cotton pads that I use for facial toner and nail polish remover because it’s cheaper. I’ve also gotten band aids, hydrogen peroxide and other items for a first aid kit here. Last but not least, I’ve snagged some office supplies from here along with a candle or two for someone as a small thank you gift. I’m telling you, if you give someone a small thank you gift or even a card, it goes a long way with appreciation.

What do you snag at the dollar store of awesomeness?