Life has been all sorts of crazy this year - from a breakup to a huge move, another move, and a new relationship, here's what's been going on.

A Long Overdue (Major) Life Update

Life has been all sorts of crazy this year - from a breakup to a huge move, another move, and a new relationship, here's what's been going on.Over the past several months, writing a post has been on my mind, but I haven’t been quite sure where to start with it.

A lot has changed this year, and I wasn’t ready to write about many of those changes, especially as they were happening.

But I’ve always been me and I’ve always written about my life on here, so trying to get around that meant there were no words.

Recently, I’ve felt this itch to write something grow stronger, but then the obstacle was finding the time.

Of course, we can’t magically discover additional time and slide it into our day, so I’m forcing the time right now.

Better late than never, right?

I’m going to take a stab at writing down all the major, crazy changes I’ve experienced, and since this is a personal finance blog, I’ll also let you know how these changes have impacted my financial situation.

Let’s start off with a bang, shall we?

I Moved to Austin, Regretted it, and Moved Back to the East Coast

As some of you may remember, I had my eyes set on Austin, TX as my next destination after spending two years in Charlotte, NC.

Truth be told, while Charlotte is a cute little city, it wasn’t the city for me. At least, maybe not for the time in my life.

I moved there with nothing except a partner, my cats, and my parents living 3.5 hours away. No friends, no job, and a hefty emergency fund.

I became a freelancer and worked my way up from scratch, which caused a lot of stress. I tend to save money out of fear, and that fear was amplified when I wasn’t bringing in any money. (Imagine that!)

In reality, I was fine. My emergency fund could have sustained me for a year or more, and I had my partner’s income to rely on, but that didn’t sit well with me. So when I finally started making money, I wanted more. And more. And more.

I barely ever stopped working. I kept saying yes. I essentially threw my life out the window.

I never made any friends in Charlotte; it never felt like home.

I left for Austin with little other than what would fit in my 2-door car.

That didn’t include my cats. That didn’t include my partner. And my family was thousands of miles away.

I kept thinking if I could move, if I could start over, it would all be okay.

But that was foolish. A change of scenery doesn’t change who you are, and it certainly didn’t change me, as much as I wished it could.

So after a hot minute in Austin (okay, it was a few months), I left with my sights set on a location I never, ever, ever thought I would be in…

New Jersey.

(Look, I’m from NY, we grow up thinking NJ is dirty and smelly and that they suck.)

I’m still cat-less, but I have a dog. I’m in a new relationship with someone who understood me better than I understood myself after about a month of talking. And my family (sans parents) are now 2 hours away.

What the Hell Were You Thinking?

I refrained from sharing this for a while because I was afraid of judgment.

But that’s ridiculous. This is my blog – the little home on the internet I made for myself. If I can’t write about my life here, then what’s the point?

And if I can’t write about it in a way that’s real and authentic, there isn’t any point.

I came to this conclusion after renewing my hosting and domain a few months ago. That’s when I knew I had to stop caring, and just write.

With a dose of some brutal honesty.

So, what was I thinking? I can tell you I was overthinking just about everything this year. It has been a crazy ride with a lot of tears, doubt, and fear.

I was extremely unhappy in Charlotte, and I had no idea what was wrong.

I had everything to be thankful for. A good relationship, good clients, good money, being close to my parents, being able to travel to see the rest of my family … but something still wasn’t right.

I felt like a horrible person for thinking that. So I kept myself trapped, and as each month ended and time kept passing, I came back to the same question: Why am I unhappy?

Life doesn’t always make sense.

Some of the hardest decisions to make in the moment are the right ones.

hard-life-decisions

So I wrestled with feelings of guilt month-in-and-month-out until I finally put my foot down and said, Enough. It doesn’t matter why. It only matters that this feeling is real. And it’s destroying you.

With a very heavy heart, I said good bye to the two years I spent in Charlotte with nothing to show for it.

This was made more difficult by the fact that Austin was where my ex and I were “supposed” to go next. It had been our plan. But I was the one executing it – alone.

I might talk more about this in the future, especially because I felt alone going through it (and no one should feel alone in that situation). We were engaged – we were supposed to get married and have some happily ever after thing. But all I felt was guilt and shame.

Pulling the trigger and leaving was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, but I can’t say I’m not happier for it. It was the right thing for both of us, but it was also the thing neither of us wanted to face.

What About Joint Finances?

A while ago, I wrote about how we had combined finances, so how did we handle that after breaking up?

Put simply, there wasn’t much to manage. I opened a separate bank account for my business stuff after I wrote that post, and I’ve been using that as my primary account ever since.

Even though my initial omg-we-just-moved emergency fund deposit went into our joint account, I had more than enough for myself, and I didn’t want to be greedy. He had supported me when I wasn’t earning much and there was no reason to be a jerk about it.

R and I parted on good terms and I left him everything we originally moved with because I didn’t want to pay for or drive a moving truck.

I don’t regret that we combined money because it made things easier for us, and I trusted that we would handle it fine if it came to that.

I’m well-aware that some people do 180’s after a break up and become asses, so I’m not advocating for it, but in my situation I felt comfortable with it.

Downsizing to a 400 sq. ft. House

Let’s fast-forward a bit. For the sake of brevity (hahaha this post is going to be anything but short), I’ll just let you know that in between moving to Austin, I connected with a friend I made a year ago. That connection very unexpectedly turned into something equally unexpected, which is why I’m in NJ.

I’ve been through long-distance relationships before, and this time around, it wasn’t for me. My partner leads an extremely busy life and I wanted to be part of that life.

I could have stayed in Austin for a year until my lease ended and spent my time up here anyway, but after creating a spreadsheet and breaking down all the costs (as normal people totally do), it wasn’t worth it.

I spent a month and a half in NJ during the spring and dreaded going back, but we had our yearly convention to attend, and it’s in Austin, so it made sense to stay until after.

on-the-road-moving-again

Once again, my car was packed to the brim, and we set out on a three-day moving journey. To a house. That my partner owns.

Some of you might recall I’m staunchly against home ownership. It’s just not for me. I’m fine with renting. So this is quite a new experience…especially as the house is smaller than any apartment I’ve rented.

But I like small and cozy, and we’ve adapted well. I’ll most likely write a post about what we did to create more space, and my “adventures” with being in a house, in the future.

I’ll say it’s a good thing I only moved with what could fit in my car, and living in a smaller space really makes owning less shit more important.

Impact on finances: Just fine! I pay $500 per month for my share of stuff, which beats the hell out of the $1,100+ I was paying in Austin. I’m also a few blocks away from the beach, a crazy long bike trail, and an amazing bakery. Moving didn’t cost much without a truck, and my partner covered the nights we slept in hotels.

I want to point out that I realize how lucky I am to have the flexibility to move on a whim. If I had been at a regular job, I would have had much more to worry about.

Filling a Void – Pets

As I mentioned, I parted ways with my cats when I moved.

One of my cats lives with my parents. They always babysat when needed, and we noticed how much happier she was there than at the apartment.

Even though it hurt to leave her, she was our family cat first, and she keeps my parents company. She loves being outside in their enclosed porch, and I get to see her via Skype and when I visit, so it’s not all that bad.

R kept our other cat because I couldn’t fathom bringing her along on my 24+ hour journey to Austin. My future was uncertain – I wasn’t sure what my travel plans were, and stability was better for her.

My partner (now dubbed “C,” even though he doesn’t care if I put his name on here), is a dog person, through-and-through. Getting a cat was not a priority. And since I’ve wanted a dog for a few years, we agreed to get one.

Meet our dog, who goes by “B” – literally, call him any name that starts with a “B” and he’ll answer to it. I usually call him Boo.

b-dog

He is blind, but you’d never guess because he’s amazing at navigating around the house. He does it better than me (I’m super clumsy, okay?). He’s 5 years old and a mush.

He’s also a pit-mix. I don’t care what people say – most pit bulls are friendly and adorable. If they’re bred to be jerks, they will be, and that goes for any dog.

He’s had his dog moments, but he can usually be found snoozing on the couch or at the foot of our bed, being adorable. He’s very low-energy, which is perfect, and he loves food.

However… even though I love dogs, I’ve had cats for the last 10 years of my life, and I honestly don’t feel like the house is complete without one. After seeing how “attached” I’ve become to our friends’ cats, C agreed we could get one if B reacts well, so here’s hoping!

Impact on finances: I was already used to buying litter and feeding two cats, so the impact was minimal. We split the costs, and I have a savings fund dedicated to pets in case anything goes wrong.

Where do I go from Here?

Man, we’re coming up on 2,000 words here, and I feel like I haven’t said much.

I know, that’s ridiculous. I’m sorry for being all over the place – posts from here on out will be much more structured! I just had to clear the air, for my own sake, before continuing on, without my usual perfectionist streak from blocking me.

I guess I should reiterate that I consider my blog my home, and I invite others in both to learn from my experiences and to share their own so I can learn from them.

where-do-i-go-from-here

That said, you might notice some changes in my writing style. It’s very difficult to showcase personality through text sometimes, doubly so if you’re sarcastic, but I’m going to try my best.

I’m done being stifled because people need to be “PC.” I like to make jokes, I like to curse (fun fact: my first word was shit, even though my mom denies it), and if you don’t like it, that’s perfectly fine. My writing isn’t for you.

If it’s one thing I’ve learned from writing and “being on the internet,” it’s that you cannot make everyone happy; it’s a waste of energy.

You also need to create content you’re happy creating. I want to create content I enjoy, and that means opening up more and being myself.

If You See me at FinCon, Say Hi!

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to write this prior to FinCon so I could at least resurface and say hi to all of you first. I miss my blog friends, I miss writing, I miss connecting with awesome people in this community, and I know FinCon will have what I need to kick it into gear again.
purple-hair

You’ll be hard-pressed to miss me there because I now have purple hair. I’ll also be volunteering at registration on Wednesday because I don’t know what it’s like to attend a conference and not volunteer anymore, and registration is where you get to see everyone!

But if you’re not at FinCon, I’m still writing over at Young Adult Money, and still podcasting with Kayla and Chonce on Financial Conversation. In fact, we’re doing a live episode at FinCon, which we’re super excited about!!

Thank You

If you made it this far, thank you for reading. Thank you for being part of this little creative outlet that has given me so many opportunities these last few years.

I hope I can make up for lost time in the upcoming months, and I hope you’re as excited as I am to give Journey to Saving a bit of a reboot.

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The reasons I have for being grateful this week, including family visits, winter travel deals, and being inspired.

Being Grateful: Eighty-Third Edition

The reasons I have for being grateful this week, including family visits, winter travel deals, and being inspired.It seems as though I completely underestimated how crazy the first week of 2016 would be!

So a bit of a belated Happy New Year to you all – I hope it’s off to a great (and less hectic) start for you!

A few exciting things are happening for me work-wise, family-wise, and growth-wise.

These are all things I’m grateful for as I start the year with a clean slate.

If you’re interested in the goals I set for 2016, you can look at my last post which details what I was grateful for in 2015, and what I hope 2016 holds.

The biggest goal is getting my student loans paid off! I can’t wait to be debt free.

A Brand-Spanking-New Podcast

As you might have noticed on my sidebar, the Financial Conversation podcast is up and running! I’m so happy to be a part of this awesome project along with Kayla, Chonce, and Kristi.

If you read my FinCon recap, you’ll recall that we hung out a bunch during the four days of the con and had a great time. We thought it made sense to continue that with a podcast!

Kayla happened to have the domain and during FinCon, she realized it would make the perfect site for a podcast. Inspired by Shannon’s Martinis and Your Money, we decided to give it a try.

It has been a huge learning curve, but we’re so happy and grateful to have it out there. Our hope is that we’ll reach a wider audience than we can with blogging.

We’ve got a lot of interesting things planned for future episodes (a new one is launching this week), so stay tuned!

If you have a free moment, please give the first episode a listen. It’s 37 minutes long and we discuss what our goals for the year are and how we plan to achieve them.

Family Visits!

My grandma had been going back and forth the last few months on whether or not she was going to make a trip down here during the winter. She wanted to take a month (or two month) long trip, but things didn’t work out as she had hoped.

Being that my grandma is 84 and doesn’t necessarily enjoy traveling alone, I couldn’t blame her if she didn’t make it down here, but that doesn’t mean I’d be any less upset!

Thankfully, my aunt was watching for deals, and we were able to snag her tickets for a total of $100 round-trip.

Of course, that’s on Spirit *shudders* so I’m really hoping she doesn’t experience any problems. After the last time I flew with them, I swore I’d never fly with them again.

She’ll be down here later in the month and is leaving in early February, and has already promised to do some baking while she’s here.

Her cookies are pretty much what made my childhood Christmases, so I’ll be noming away when they appear as I’ve been going through withdrawals.

Winter Travel Deals

I had resolved to fly back home if my grandma wasn’t able to make it down, mostly because she’ll be celebrating her 85th birthday later in February. I would have felt guilty for missing it and not seeing her.

While we could throw her an early birthday party here, it’s not the same. And even though I saw my family and friends back in October, it already feels like it happened ages ago.

I flew back to NY in February last year because, similar to the deal my grandma got, Spirit was offering one-way flights for something like $60. It was a no-brainer (besides getting stuck at the airport every time I go to fly back!).

I’ve been monitoring deals and it seems like I could get a round-trip flight for $140 from American Airlines or JetBlue. I know that’s not very frugal of me, but my sanity is worth the extra money.

It’s either that, or I’ll likely be making my way to Austin to scout out areas for the move. If any of you know anything about the city, or know someone there, I’d appreciate any knowledge/connections you can pass along!

As always, I’m grateful that I have the flexibility to coordinate getting the cheapest flights (I saw some $300s mixed in with the $140s), and for the savings to afford these trips.

Need a reminder to practice gratitude? Here's what you're looking for: Click To Tweet

Grateful for Inspiration

I have always said that one of the best parts of the personal finance community is how inspirational everyone is. From amazing stories of debt payoff, to incomes being tripled, and all the people making a living off of doing things they love, there’s no shortage of it.

That’s one of the reasons why I love FinCon so much; you can feel the energy buzzing in the air.

If it hasn’t been obvious (as I’ve stated it before), I’ve been lost at sea for the better part of a year with blogging and where I want to go. There have been ideas, but none I felt strongly about.

There has been a lot of rebranding going on with bloggers I look up to, and I’m always amazed by what is possible with “just a blog.” We all started from nothing and had to build our audience, and it’s so exciting to see where people have ended up.

That gives me the hope and inspiration I need to keep going. I love writing, and likely always will. I also love talking about money in hopes of empowering others to make good financial decisions.

But for some reason, there’s been a disconnect, hence this post being the only one I typically publish.

Being Grateful for…Brain Dumps?

I specifically selected “Journey to Saving” because it can involve anything I experience. It’s my journey that I’m sharing with everyone, and the top reason I chose to share it was to inspire others.

However, I feel like I’ve fallen short there for a number of reasons:

  • My journey looks nothing like I thought it would when I started blogging (of course, that’s life, duh Erin)
  • I also started blogging anonymously (anyone remember those days?) and the tone of the blog has changed as I’ve grown and found my voice.

I remember reflecting on this last year, and it led to me change the theme I use for the blog. While I like it, I’m not in love with it, and I don’t think the solution is as simple as that. It’s a bandaid for a bigger issue.

Those of you on Twitter might have noticed I changed my handle to @erinmcreates. I truly felt like @journeytosaving didn’t fit with all I wanted to share/express on there.

I know that sounds absolutely silly, being that I rarely use Twitter in the first place (I’ve been working on that!), but it felt freeing when I changed it.

I’ve been wondering if the same thing is in order for the site, but we’ll see. I just like to keep you all in the loop on my ramblings. ;)

Anyway, let me stop there for this week. Please check out the podcast if you have time (it’s perfect for a commute!), send feedback, and let me know if you have any inside knowledge of Austin. =)

What are you being grateful for this week? How has the new year treated you so far? Do you take advantage of traveling inexpensively during certain seasons?

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I'm wrapping up the year and reflecting on being grateful for 2015 as a whole. So much has happened in such a little time, and I'm looking forward to 2016!

Being Grateful for 2015

I'm wrapping up the year and reflecting on being grateful for 2015 as a whole. So much has happened in such a little time, and I'm looking forward to 2016!We have less than two weeks left in December and I’m stubbornly in denial about where the hell 2015 went. (What else is new?)

I’m sure most of you will agree, but when I think back to 2014, I definitely didn’t know what amazing things 2015 would hold. There’s a lot I have to be grateful for, and I wanted to do a year-end wrap up of it all.

Plus, it’s always nice to take a moment and appreciate all that has happened to get me to where I am today. Especially when the year has gone by so fast! I encourage you all to do the same.

Being Grateful for Opportunity

I received so many different opportunities in 2015! My business was just taking off at the very end of 2014, and it has continued to skyrocket upward.

I’ve had to be pickier than ever with the work I take on, which both surprises me and saddens me. I hate telling people no, but I’ve learned that, at this point, I need to put my sanity first.

Having so many opportunities available to me has been a learning opportunity in and of itself as I figure out what I want to focus on and where I want to go next. I’m grateful for every opportunity I’ve had, whether it has worked out or not, because you can’t know if it’s right unless you try.

While I began freelance writing, I added VA work into the mix shortly after to expand my services. VA work isn’t linear at all, and I’ve learned it requires a lot of experimenting to figure out where your strengths and weaknesses are. Thankfully, I’ve gained a bit of clarity this year.

Being Grateful for Community

I say this all the time, but the PF community is truly wonderful to be a part of. I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t began blogging, and I only started because of the inspiring individuals I’ve been honored to get to know.

FinCon, despite being a crazy whirlwind weekend, was so much fun, and I’m so glad I got to meet new friends and reconnect with old ones. It inspired me to focus on strengthening existing relationships and forming new ones. It has been a rewarding experience, to say the least.

Not that any other community should steal the light, but as some of you may remember, I was privileged to volunteer at a huge convention back in August for a company I love. But the company isn’t the best thing, it’s the community surrounding it.

I am so lucky to be part of not one, but TWO kickass groups of people. I have a tendency to lose faith in humanity fairly quickly (all it takes is turning the news on or driving), but if it ever needs to be restored, I know where to look.

I’m very grateful to have been surrounded by kindness and selflessness this past year, and I think it has also made me a better (and more positive) person. So thank you all!

Being Grateful for the Little Things

I say this a lot, but if you’re having a horrible day, chances are, you can find something to be grateful for, even if it’s just the fact that you’re still breathing.

This year hasn’t been an easy one, emotionally-speaking. It has felt like a roller coaster more often than not.

There are days I wake up and I want nothing more than to close my eyes and go back to sleep. There are times I want to throw a blanket over myself and hide. There have been other days where I’ve cried for no reason at all.

Don’t let anyone tell you self-employment is a piece of cake. A lot of entrepreneurs like to paint a pretty image of their lives, especially on social media. And maybe some of them do have “perfect” days, but no success story is based on perfection.

I’ve learned to come to terms with that. I don’t think any job is ever perfect. Our perspective isn’t always going to be 100% positive. We’re human and that means we have bad days and good days.

The important thing to do is to:

  • Focus on the good when there’s a lot of bad
  • Stop and appreciate how good you have it when things are great
  • Remember that every day is a new start
  • Realize you’re in control of your thoughts and empower yourself to make the situation better
  • Comfort yourself with the fact that without the bad days, you wouldn’t grow as much as a person
  • Forgive yourself, plain and simple
  • Always remain grateful for something, whether it’s your loved ones (that includes pets), health, shelter, food – any basic necessities you have that others may not

Always hold onto the little things.

Being grateful for the little things in 2015

What Does 2016 Hold?

Well gee, I wish I had a crystal ball so I could tell you! Seriously though, while I’m not huge on setting a million goals for myself, there are a few things I want to make happen next year.

Paying Off my Student Loans

Melanie just recently kicked her loans to the curb and I couldn’t be happier for her! She has made such amazing progress and I feel like I need to up my game.

I’ve made a few large (for me) payments toward mine, and they currently sit at $6,300. My larger loan is $4,999 (that was intentional), and my smaller one is at $1,300.

I want them gone. I wanted to pay them off this year, but with barely earning anything in 2014, I took this year to catch up on savings. I did manage to make some big payments toward my loans, but not enough. 2016 is the year I will be debt free, dammit. Please feel free to hold me to that.

Saying Goodbye to Charlotte

Charlotte is a great little city, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not my city. I never felt like I was at home here.

While I don’t want to say goodbye to my parents, I can’t hold myself back, either. I’m 99% sure I’ll be heading to Austin (along with like a thousand other people). The lease is up in April, so I need to get a move on figuring out the logistics.

More Travel

I had a lot of fun visiting my family and friends the three times I went back to NY this year, and I don’t see a reason to stop doing that.

Beyond that, I want to take advantage of the freedom I have and travel to see friends. I’ve already got a trip to San Diego planned thanks to FinCon, and if I somehow don’t move to Austin, I’ll be making it back there for the convention again in July.

If I can somehow score a great deal, I’d love to go overseas for the first time, maybe in celebration of paying off my loans? =) I just have to get a passport…

Prioritizing Self Care and Development

That was one of my goals for this year, and I failed. Completely. In the sense that I fell flat on my face and never got the hell up.

I have put everything ahead of myself this year and that was a mistake. I’ve been riddled with stress, I wake up with headaches 80% of the time, and I get hit with another one at some point in the day. I feel tired and uninspired and just blah.

I need to recharge, and that means not apologizing for putting myself first and actually following through on it. I need to find a way to balance this around work, and I want to incorporate more creative outlets into my life. Expect more on this soon.

Thank you all for such a wonderful and crazy 2015! This will be my last post of the year as I take some time to reflect on where I want to go. Wishing all of you a Happy Holiday/Merry Christmas/Happy New Year/JUST CELEBRATE OKAY?!? *party poppers*

What are you being grateful for as the year comes to an end? What are you hoping for in 2016? Have any major plans you can share? Let me know so I can cheer you on!

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