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…
(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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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.