i’m so happy

If I could tell the me of two years ago how happy I would be right in this moment, she would be shocked but so relieved. You know you are happy when you drink rum and Black Cherry sparkling soda and you are overcome with gratefulness. I’m just sitting here staring at the empty space that will eventually be my living room. It needs furniture and wall hangings. It needs sweat and elbow grease. It needs color and warmth. It needs memories. It’s a work in progress, but I am so happy that it’s mine. Charlie is being annoying and needy, but we are in our home. He is literally putting his face in my coat to go outside (even though every time I take him out he stares at the yard like “this is not what I expected”).

–Also side note: I’m listening to Lonely Eyes by Chris Young on repeat, and for some reason, the chorus is just so uplifting that I’m not even thinking about lonely eyes. —

Tonight I looked at my loan payments and savings account. It’s so relieving to know that even though I’m not living an extravagant life, that I am paying my bills and getting ahead of my student loans. Even though I’ve change my lifestyle a little bit, I’m still okay.  I’ve been eating out a little too much, but I’m cutting back so I can focus on my student debt again. It’s crazy what a little raise can do. I’m so used to saving money and accounting for every penny that I think I can go a few more years putting all I have towards my student loans and have them paid off by 2020 just like I hoped. According to an online calculator, I actually should be able to pay them off in May of next year!

Honestly, at that point, I don’t even know what I would do with all that money  when it isn’t going toward the loans. Maybe I would roll the snowball into my mortgage. Maybe I would put new siding on my house. The possibilities are endless. Just a little while longer watching all my money pay down my degree. It’s so close; I can taste it.

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2017 is almost over…

life currently (2)

… and I haven’t written in awhile. I almost asked myself why even bother sharing my thoughts with the ether, but I know how much it positively affects my mental state. So I am back here.

I think the thing I miss most about logging on and putting my thoughts down in words is reflecting on my goals and weaknesses. I use a daily planner for every day To Do lists, but I don’t take the time to think about myself as much as I used to.

Part of that is because I’m not as worried about “making the right decisions” anymore. I know that life is not about making the right decisions but rather about finding your way day by day.

I had knee surgery. I had an accident with Charlie. I gained some weight. I went back to work and picked up another part-time shift.  I currently work 40 hours plus an additional 3 shifts at the Knights. I got a raise at my day job – the one I asked for a year ago. I’m going to close on a house soon.

Life is happening to me.

My most important goal was paying down my student loan debt, but then I started to like my job and started to hate my living situation. I recognize that I’m so lucky to have to home I have now with my sister. We just can’t live together and be happy. It never worked when we were little. It hasn’t been working now.

So, I got excited about the idea of having my own place, and my mom – with her newly earned real estate license – starting looking. My budget was small, and I know that means a lot of paint and a lot of patience until I have a home that is modern and mine. I found the house that I was looking for. I have plans for an office and a shop room and a guest bedroom with a screen projector for movie nights. I will have room for an additional freezer for the game I harvest. I will have a garage to put a canoe. I will have little view of the river. I will have my own bathroom!

I’m grateful. I’m grateful for my jobs. I’m grateful for my family. I know I’m single and 25 all alone in a house, but I have my doggo. I have my parents and grandparents within ten miles. I’m scared and worried and a little disappointed that I’m taking out more loans rather than paying them off, but mostly, I’m excited.

short-term money goals for 2017

I have been thinking about my short-term financial goals for a few weeks. I want to shake up my current plan of attack and I finally decided to write down these new goals. I loosely base my financial plan on the debt-snowball. I love Dave Ramsey’s “Baby Steps,” but there are a few reasons why I don’t follow his plan religiously. First of all, I don’t make a lot of “extra” money each month ( I refuse to say “I don’t make enough money” because that’s a lie – hashtag grateful). Additionally,  I successfully use a credit card and pay it off every month. I plan my splurges very carefully – I just swipe for them rewards. Even though I don’t follow his plan religiously, I had been taking his “throw everything at the loans” approach to the extreme. I pinch every dollar out of my pay check and end up leaving almost nothing in my regular account. This just doesn’t make sense for my situation. Since I just don’t generate copious amounts of income, it’s going to be a few years before I really beat down this debt.

So my new savings goals are:

1. Keeping at least the amount of one paycheck in my regular account
I’d like to automate my bills again and in order to do that, I will have to have enough green in my account. It will take some time to get use to this system. I might have to rework how I budget each paycheck since it won’t act like a zero-base in my account, but I truly believe it will relieve a lot of stress.

2. Maintaining a flex spending account of $1000 for recreation
This goal really torments my inner debt killer who says that I can’t have fun until I pay off my debt. “HANNAH YOU ARE IN DEBT AND DON’T DESERVE HAPPINESS.” It’s 2017 and I have been killing debt for 2.5 years. Shut up you debt murderer. I really value experiences over material objects and want to travel and visit friends and family. They don’t have to be elaborate trips, anything will help me de-clutter and unwind. So I’m officially saying that I am willing to let the debt linger just a little longer, if that means that I can have a few more experiences this year.

3. Bumping my emergency fund up to $2000
I know that Dave Ramsey says that I don’t need more than $1000.00 in my emergency fund, buuuuuuuut I don’t purchase pet insurance even though I have a very large dog who occasionally needs things for his greater health and wellness. Furthermore… my car needs a few more repairs before it will be in better running condition. These are things that I know are going to pop up in emergency-like fashion. I prefer to get ahead of my emergencies.

4. Keeping a little cash “savings” at home for special occasions
This one is a new strategy that I read about recently. The author of an article I was reading said she kept cash in her bedroom as a little bonus money. When I get bonus money, I usually put it towards one of my bigger goals like debt or Christmas or I use it to buy something I have been eyeing online. I still think those are good options, but I want to see what happens if the piggy bank piles up to $100 or $200. I’m thinking it might be good if something like a candle party pops up or if a sibling has a fundraiser or if I want to go out to eat with my friends without worrying about my budget or my savings goals. This one may not work for me, but I want to experiment.

3 Ways to Find Peace

After a while, I start to wonder if the things I think and write down are redundant. It’s like Groundhog Day or 50 First Dates, every day I come to the same realization and that gets me to the next day. Then I wake up and have to convince myself it’s okay all over again.

Not much changes. I mean I’ve had a few minor revelations over the past few months. I’ve learned some things about how to be a better friend and how to communicate better. I’ve been able to see the flaws in others but still care for their needs.

But, my car still has the same problems it had three months ago, and my weight loss plateaued again. I still hang out in the same places with the same people without meeting anyone new.

When I say I have to reassure myself everyday that this is just one phase of my life, I’m not exaggerating. I lay down at night and say to myself, “It will not always be this way” when in reality, it – life- is never the same. From first grade, to second, from freshman year volleyball to junior year softball to college sophomore fall semester to spring rugby to final semester of college to driving an hour to work for ten months to working in back in town for a year. Life’s path is not unchanging.

It sure does feel like it, though, when the bills are due, and you have just enough to get through the next two weeks; the progress you’ve made in behavioral training seems to have evaporated out of your dog’s head; the repairs for your car keep getting pushed back even though your inspection’s up, and on top of all that cops are being killed, priests are being killed, children are being sold as sex laves, and the only people the U.S. can come up with to be the face of the free world are Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton.

What gives, Mortal Existence? What do I do with all this?

There really aren’t very many good answers here on earth other than practicing love. I balance the negative thoughts with the good and always try to fall asleep feeling at peace.

So here I am again, trying to answer my own questions. I’m trying to write the advice I need to read. The best answer I have for overcoming a lack of peace is yoga and prayer and children.

  • Let your worries go and play with kids. I’ve always been one for embarking on small adventures. Having small children around who get excited to go take a hike or play in the river with you brings youthfulness back into your heart.
  • Surrendering your physical presence in some form of activity: yoga, biking, swimming, whatever distracts you from your mind and focuses on being. An evening bike ride in the dark makes me feel like a million bucks.
  • When your chest feels weighed down and you can’t breathe or think straight, you have to give it all up. I give it up to God, but if you need to give it up to the universe or the earth, you go ahead and do that. Give up your thoughts and emotions in prayer. Today, I prayed out loud for the first time in awhile. I asked for peace and then I cried. I felt pretty darn good after that.

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one of those days

I’m having one of those days where I stare at my loan balances and think, “I’ve done so little.” The problem with paying off the smallest loan first is that the biggest one doesn’t budge much. The interest on those loans does its damage. The truth of the matter is that I’m making huge progress on my smallest loan. I must be proud of myself for that and not wish away the days until my next paycheck.