I’m a 20-something year old blogging her way through her financial journey, which involves student loan debt, freelancing/self-employment, life lessons learned the hard way, value-based spending, and a healthy dose of sarcasm.
However, Charlotte wasn’t the city I was looking for, so I ventured to Austin, TX for a bit before deciding to return to the East Coast. I currently reside in central NJ (the state all NYers hate, I know – I resisted, trust me).
I live in a 400 sq. ft. house that my boyfriend owns and pay $500/month in rent which beats the basement apartment. It doesn’t hurt that the beach is just a five-minute walk away, and there are tons of amazing, scenic trails around that are perfect for bike riding and walking – two frugal activities I enjoy.
Here’s a look at my financial journey thus far, so you know where I’m coming from:
I graduated college at the beginning of the year, and I started my first full-time job a few weeks later.
My grace period for my student loans ended in June, and I was faced with a monthly payment of $212. At first, I was content paying this amount. I figured there was no rush to pay them off. After all, student loans are normal, right? Instead, I saved as much of my paycheck as possible.
While this sounded like a good idea in my head at the time, I later realized it would have been much more beneficial to make extra payments to my student loans from the beginning. Interest is nasty.
While I created a nice emergency fund by living with my parents until mid-2013, I wasn’t making much of a dent in my $18,000 student loan debt.
I did my best to make my college education as inexpensive as possible, but it was time to face the facts. Under the standard repayment plan, student loans take 10 years to pay back.
That didn’t sit well with me. I’m pretty protective of my money, and it seemed silly not to pay extra to get out of paying so much in interest. This is what sparked me to become part of the personal finance community.
I then started blogging in May to keep myself accountable for my loans, to take part in an awesome community, and to help others. There are so many bloggers I have to thank for inspiring me to accelerate my payments and rid myself of debt.
After being overworked and underpaid, I made the decision to take a lower-paying, less stressful job toward the end of 2013 (sometimes, money isn’t everything). In April, I said my goodbyes, and I was on my way to cheaper living in NC.
I had been planning on moving for a while so I prepared ahead of time and had a huge savings buffer in place as I wouldn’t have a job waiting for me.
Having saved so much saved allowed me the freedom to make a living as a freelance writer. I was very thankful for that as I was able to focus solely on freelancing. There was never a point where I had to look for “real” work outside the home because I had my savings and my then-boyfriend’s income to live off of.
Toward the end of the year, after attending FinCon (a conference for financial bloggers), my business grew exponentially. I began offering virtual assistant services in addition to writing, and I was consistently earning at least $1,000 per month.
I’m proud to say I finished off 2014 strong and started 2015 the same way. I’ve had so many opportunities come up this year, and I’m grateful beyond words. It still amazes me I’m self-employed after a year, and I’ve managed to double what I was earning at my former day job.
I wasn’t as shy. I was able to tell people I was a freelancer without hesitating. I got to meet with some of my clients for the first time. I even had some people come up to me and tell me I had inspired them (which continues to blow me away).
Now that I’m in charge of my career, my views on money have also changed. I’ve become more mindful of my spending as I’ve narrowed down my priorities. I spend on what’s important and say “no” to the rest. I still pay extra toward my student loans, but I’ve begun traveling more as I want to take advantage of my location independence.
Prioritizing my happiness and spending in line with my values has made me feel less guilty about spending overall – something I’ve struggled with for a long time. I no longer limit myself to a budget, though I wouldn’t recommend that for everyone.
2016 has been a wild year of crazy changes, and you can read all about it in a recap here.
Other Random Facts About Me
Want to know more about me? I’m not that fascinating, but if you insist…
- I’ve been speaking sarcasm since I was born
my first word may or may not have been a curse word(thanks, mom)
- I love video games, specifically RPGs. The first game I remember playing through and finishing is Ocarina of Time (thanks, dad)
- I also enjoy cracking myself up with how horrible I am at Halo and GTA
- The cause of my initial interest in personal finance was watching my parents struggle with credit card debt and unemployment. I vowed to never end up in that position and so far, so good
- My favorite colors are blue and purple (so much so my hair is purple), but I have specific shades I like of each. I dislike orange, yellow, and green for no particular reason
- I was captivated by Photoshop around age 12 and continue to “play around” in it – any image you see on this site was created by me (though I don’t take the photos themselves)
- I used to enjoy CSS and customizing my LiveJournal in my teens (we’ve all been there, right?), but have since lost my coding-mojo
- I majored in Criminal Justice with a minor in Business and Psychology. I wanted to be a forensic psychologist, then figured I was crazy enough already and that it was probably a bad idea (mostly kidding)
- I like baseball and hockey, and I’ll watch football to laugh at everyone getting tackled. The only one I care enough about to have a team for is baseball, and that team would be the Yankees
- I’m Type A and slightly neurotic when it comes to planning things, overthinking things, and proofreading (which serves me well as a writer)
- I love cats and dogs, possibly more than I love humans (should I be admitting that?)
- I met my best friend online through a MMORPG 10 years ago. We enjoy reminiscing about our younger, carefree days
and awful jokes we somehow rememberand calling each other old. Oh, the power of the internet
- I love reading, but I sadly haven’t made books a priority in recent years. That needs to change. I’m a huge fan of Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson, Brent Weeks, Harlan Coben, and plenty of other mystery/fantasy writers (if you have recommendations, let me know!)
- As if you didn’t think I was nerdy enough, I also enjoy watching D&D (Dungeons & Dragons) and am hoping to join a campaign soon so I can live my dream of being a wizard. If you’re interested, I recommend Acquisitions Incorporated
- I like making people smile =)