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?

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Words can't describe how amazing FinCon15 was! I got to meet many more people than I did last year, have the experience working a booth, and party.

FinCon15 Experience: Amazing

Words can't describe how amazing FinCon15 was! I got to meet many more people than I did last year, have the experience working a booth, and party.This weekend was absolutely amazing. I’m going to tell you all right now, there are no words to properly describe the experience I had at this FinCon. I think that’s an accurate representation of how much things have changed for me since last year.

Why? Last year I had no idea what I was in for. I had quit my job to relocate to Charlotte only a few months beforehand. I was finding my footing as a freelancer, and felt insecure in this space. Sure, I had been blogging for over a year, but that was nothing compared to what most people had accomplished.

I also wasn’t sure what my purpose was at the conference. I knew I had to network and find opportunities, but being an introvert, I found it difficult to approach people and strike up a conversation.

Not this year. I took full advantage of the fact the conference was four days instead of three, and tried to meet all the people I wanted to. Being an exhibitor was also a huge change of pace, and it helped ease me into things as I kind of had to talk to people coming up to the booth.

I’ve been at a good place with the clients and work I have, so I wasn’t necessarily there to seek opportunities. I wanted to strengthen existing relationships and form new ones with people I admire and care about, and I think I was able to do that. I left last year with a few regrets, and I think it’s safe to say I don’t have any this year.

Doing FinCon as an Exhibitor

Working a booth is different from being a regular attendee, but it was really cool to be able to talk with so many different people about what they do and how we could possibly work together. Those that stopped by were mostly representatives of other companies – not bloggers – and the dynamic was completely different.

Wherewithal's Booth at Fincon15
Wherewithal’s Booth at Fincon15

That said, everyone that stopped by was really nice, and I’m happy most people were interested in the concept of being able to save money while shopping online (the cash back goes directly into your savings account). We’ll be looking for a group of people to test everything out once we’re closer to launching in a few months, so we’re focusing on outreach right now.

Wherewithal didn’t win the FinTech Startup Competition, but I think all the companies that competed had a unique offering that met the needs of consumers. I love seeing people working toward making personal finance easier or more accessible!

Winners of the FinCon15 Fintech Startup Competition
Winners of the FinCon15 Fintech Startup Competition

I Didn’t Go to Any Sessions

Yes, you read that correctly. I didn’t attend any of the sessions, unless you count Shannon’s live broadcast of Martinis and Your Money (which was awesome, of course) and a few keynotes. Between Thursday and Friday, I was in the Expo Hall at the booth, and Saturday and Sunday were just too crazy with meetups and events.

I wasn’t planning on going to many anyway, and you get a Virtual Pass which gives you access to all the panels that happened. I’m not trying to downplay the importance of learning – I just didn’t find the sessions fit the purpose of the conference for me. There are always amazing people sharing their knowledge and you should take advantage of that if you need it, but I find networking to be more worthwhile.

Martinis and Your Money - Live!
Martinis and Your Money – Live!

Talking Business and Money

There are two huge topics of discussion at FinCon – money and business. I got to talk strategy with so many people and I loved every second of it. I actually met up with a few people over lunch and we talked about saving, emergency funds, and how we spend our money. It was awesome.

I never felt like an outsider. Everyone “got” each other immediately. I think that was well-represented in Grant’s keynote at the end, as it spoke to a lot of us. There’s a certain energy around FinCon that can’t be replicated outside of it.

Carl Richards had a great opening keynote!
Carl Richards had a great opening keynote!

I looked forward to seeing “my people” every day and getting to bond over the most seemingly random things. There’s nothing quite like it, and I hate that we all have to wait until next year to experience it again.

The People

I can’t begin to name everyone I met this year. It was a huge improvement over last year. I got to meet all my clients, even if some meetings were a bit shorter than I would have liked. Each and every person I met was kind and welcoming, and I miss you all so much already!

Here are a few highlights I should mention:

I spent most of my downtime with my fellow “Cat classmates” – we all went through Cat’s freelance writing program and had planned on meeting up. Kayla (Shoeaholic No More), Kristi (Moderate Muse), Jessica (Settle Your Finances), Jenna, and Choncé (My Debt Epiphany) were a blast to be around and I can’t wait to see where these ladies will be next year. They’ve already had such success in a short amount of time and are hustling like crazy to make it work.

The ladies I spent the most time with at FinCon15
Cat is our mama duck =)

Also by chance, we ended up running into Steven (Even Steven Money) on Friday. For some reason, he came back to talk to us crazies on Saturday while we were getting our drink on. I have a feeling he and Will (First Quarter Finance) were just sticking around because of how entertaining and awesome we were. Just saying.

Saturday night was the Plutus Awards, and I was beyond excited to see so many of my friends take home well-deserved awards. Tonya, Shannon, Melanie, Natalie, Michelle, Carrie, Holly – all fantastic women I look up to who are kicking a lot of ass. Girl power. That’s all I have to say.

Winning ladies of the Plutus Awards
Some of the winning ladies!

Things wound down on Sunday, but I was able to hang with my girls for breakfast, go to the keynote, and then meet with some great people for pizza. I spent the rest of my day hanging with Michelle (Shop My Closet Project), who is just amazing. Seriously. Pretty sure she also convinced me I need to visit Denver.

Plutus Awards After Party
Being awesome at the Plutus Awards After Party

Overall, I left feeling really inspired because of everyone I got to meet. It’s safe to say most people in attendance were working toward a greater purpose or had huge ideas. As a collective, us money nerds don’t settle for less. We’re dreamers and planners who reach for greater heights and keep going. We don’t limit ourselves, and I love that.

I’m still trying to gather my thoughts in-between catching up on work, but I’ll be making a Being Grateful – FinCon Edition post this weekend. In the meantime, if I met you at FinCon, please feel free to shoot me an email or message on Twitter. (Or I’ll hunt you down.) There’s no reason to let the connections we made fade over the year as we wait for FinCon16 (which is in San Diego – and yes, I have my ticket already). I’m looking forward to a bunch of Skype/Google Hangout dates!

Love you all, and thank you for such a memorable weekend. ♥

How I Overcame an Unexpected Expense

How I Overcame an Unexpected Expense | Journey to Saving

Let me take you back to an incident that occurred last week.

R and I had been planning on taking a morning walk, but those plans died when we went outside.

We left our apartment and started walking down the breezeway. R was walking ahead of me, and paused to look the parking lot.

Oh no, I heard him mutter. That’s our car…

Wondering what in the world he could be talking about, I raced up next to him.

My car looked fine…wait, what was that on the ground next to it? I took a step back as my eyes traveled up to the gaping hole in my car’s window.

I blinked a few times, as though it were a dream. This wasn’t real.

“No!” I finally managed to squeak out, and I ran down the stairs, my heart beating a mile a minute. No was the only thing I could manage to keep saying.

I was gasping by the time I actually got to my car to survey the damage. I was pretty close to having an anxiety attack.

How could this happen?! I kept asking R.

Our car had been broken into. Or so we thought.

Emotions

There was a flood of emotions running through me at that moment. Nothing of mine had ever been stolen or violated. I didn’t know what to think. We had left our car alone the night before, coming home from a grocery trip. We went on a walk afterward. Everything had been fine.

How I Overcame an Unexpected Expense | Journey to SavingWe assumed this had occurred overnight – it was around 11:25am when we made the discovery.

I was too upset to look around, so R hopped in the car on the passenger side and determined that nothing had been stolen.

What?

Anger began to boil up inside of me.

You mean to tell me someone smashed my window in, for NO REASON? So now I’m left to pay for the damage they left behind? When I did absolutely nothing?

In my irrational moment, I kind of wished something had been stolen, so that there would at least be a reason for this random act.

I’ll mention here that I never leave anything out in plain sight in my car. There’s barely anything in my car. I always lock the doors. I am extremely paranoid about anything like this happening. We had an older GPS in the glove compartment, but again, it didn’t look like they even bothered with that. The doors were still locked.

Moving to a nice area was very high on our list of priorities, especially since I would be home alone the majority of the time. I didn’t want to worry about my safety.

We had so many questions, and no answers.

Investigating

R made the call to the police while I called my parents, sobbing into the phone, wondering why this had happened. A few neighbors had started to gather around, wondering what the commotion was about.

Unfortunately, only one person could tell us anything. They claimed that they had just gotten home from grocery shopping at 11:10, and that they hadn’t noticed anything.

Which means someone broke into my car in broad daylight. My car was parked in front of an apartment. Who would do that?! (For no reason!)

That also means it happened within maybe 15 minutes of us getting out there. Wouldn’t someone have heard something? The only thing I had heard was a car honking, but that’s common here considering people fight for spots.

None of it added up, and the officer was unable to offer any insight. He said he hadn’t seen anything like it in a while. I guess everyone is going around trying to open locks, rather than smash windows?

After everything being inconclusive, I decided to search online. Apparently, there are many cases of glass spontaneously exploding, but seeing as most of the glass was on the inside of my car, I’m not sure if that’s what happened. I kept looking for answers hoping to have some sort of closure, but that wasn’t happening.

Emergencies

We classified this as an emergency. My car was not drivable, as you can see from the picture. We didn’t have a vacuum strong enough to clean that up, but thankfully the clubhouse lent us a broom. Since R’s car isn’t exactly reliable, we both felt uneasy about it.

How I Overcame an Unexpected Expense | Journey to SavingNot to mention anyone could hop in my car at this point! It was a sitting duck, and my stomach was churning thinking about leaving it outside like that. We didn’t have a choice.

No glass repair shop was able to come out (it was a Sunday). We called a place that had great reviews on Google+ (Mobile Pro Auto Glass, for anyone in the area!), and they gave us a quote of $150, and said they could come out the next day.

So we took turns going outside to look and make sure everything was still good. R had taped up a garbage bag to the side, but that wasn’t much of a deterrent.

How I Ultimately Overcame an Unexpected Expense

I am very thankful it only came to $160 with tax, but the kicker was that we had been planning on visiting my parents that weekend. We were also planning on leaving earlier, but I hadn’t felt well. I kept thinking “If only we had…”

I was talking to my dad, and I think he said it best. “Sometimes, sh!t just happens.” It’s hard to accept, but that’s all you can do.

In the following days, I made peace with it. I really don’t like touching our savings; it’s there for that reason, yes, but that doesn’t mean I like to use it! However, I’ve come to terms with the fact that life will always find a way to be uncooperative, and that’s what our emergency fund is for.

I know $160 is a drop in the bucket for most people, and again, I’m glad it wasn’t more (and that nothing was taken). The main point is coming to terms overall with using your emergency fund for its intended purpose, especially where truly unexpected expenses are concerned. I think it’s reasonable to expect your car to need repairs at some point, for example. But no one really expects their property to get damaged (unless you live in a bad area, I guess).

So I’m letting go, because it was something we had absolutely no control over. On the bright side, it happened in the beginning of the month, allowing us to move some things around in the budget. We still have all month to make sure we keep our spending in check. And we got a mechanic recommendation out of it.

R has been working overtime and I think this might be one of my best months for freelancing yet! And if you happen to be looking for a virtual assistant or a writer, let me know. =)

Have you ever experienced something like this? How did you cope with it? Do you regret having to spend on things out of your control, or do you not mind touching your emergency fund?