10 Ways to Avoid Lifestyle Inflation

Awhile not all lifestyle inflation is necessarily bad, it certainly can wreak havoc on a budget if you aren't careful. Here's how to prevent lifestyle inflation.You may have heard the term “lifestyle inflation,” but if you haven’t, lifestyle inflation is when you start buying more to support a more lavish lifestyle. This could happen as you get older or as your income increases.

Awhile not all lifestyle inflation is necessarily bad, it certainly can wreak havoc on a budget if you aren’t careful. Another danger of lifestyle inflation is that often time, people’s desired lifestyle costs more than what they make, resulting in credit card debt or other forms of debt.

These certainly aren’t rules, but rather guidelines on how to keep your lifestyle in check. So here are 10 ways to avoid lifestyle inflation.

1. Forget About the Joneses

Keeping up with the Joneses is dangerous to you and to your budget. We all have moments of impulse where we see what our friends and neighbors have an we want it. For me, when I look at my friends, I want to travel more, buy a house, and eat out more. But these are all things that, though I feel confident I can do someday, would bust my budget right now and honestly aren’t my top priority at the moment.

So ignore the Joneses and do what’s best for you. Make your money work for you and trust your gut with timing. You might not be able to afford everything your friends have right now, but you can make it a goal to work for it and save for it for the future.

2. Trust Your Budget

Your budget is in place for a reason. It’s because it works for you.

Many people consider budgets to be confining, but have you ever thought about how much freedom a budget actually allows you?

If you budget properly, you’ll have more money to spend how you want. If you can control “boring,” but necessary expenses, like the electric bill, rent, groceries, and debt, you’ll have more money left over at the end of the month. Then you can actually choose how to spend that money in a way you want.

3. Allow Yourself Limited Inflation

It can be challenging to keep living like a broke college student years after you graduated, and it’s okay to allow yourself a little inflation. But you have to decide what your priorities are.

For me, when I finally broke free of the “broke college grad” stage, I started purchasing much healthier and more wholesome foods, as well as buying a few minor decorations for my apartment. It didn’t cost a ton, but it helps me to keep going with my budget.

If your budget allows, give yourself some sort of small luxury. Maybe you will allow yourself to go to a movie once a month, or a night out with friends every so often, or a gym membership. Whatever it is, make sure it 1) still fits within your budget and 2) is something you truly value.

4. Have a Plan for All Extra Money

When you have extra, unexpected, income, what is your plan for it?

While you can’t expect to get a tax return, inheritance, or birthday money, it doesn’t hurt to commit to putting extra money towards savings or debt.

This also goes for making extra money. I committed to putting any extra money through blogging and freelance writing towards debt. I don’t allow myself to use this money to inflate my lifestyle because honestly, I work HARD for that extra money and I don’t have to do it. I would hate to see my hard work be wasted on frivolous purchases. I am buying my financial freedom with that money.

In addition, any extra money, like gifted money from the wedding, tax returns, or extra paychecks go to our debt. When you get a large chunk of unexpected money, it can be so tempting to spend it, so planning what you will do with that money ahead of time prevents lifestyle inflation.

5. Keep a Running List of Wants and Needs

Keeping a list of wants and needs helps you to prevent impulse purchases.

For example, you might really want to go on a vacation to France. With vigorous savings and planning, that could totally happen. But when your friends try to get you to go on a trip to Hawaii, you’ll have to make a choice between what you want and what your friends want.

And when you keep a list of your needs, you’ll be able to better prioritize your spending. You’ll find yourself often having to pick between wants and needs, which will keep your finances in check.

6. Sell Items Frequently

Look around your house. How much stuff laying around don’t you use?

Take the time to frequently audit your possessions will remind you how much you already had. It will promote a minimalist lifestyle and show you that, frankly, you likely already have everything you truly need.

Plus, selling your items is a nice way to earn a little cash to pad your emergency fund or pay off debt!

7. Decide if Luxuries or Convenience is More Important to You

There are different types of lifestyle inflation. You can buy more luxury items – like furniture, fancier clothes, vacations, or cars, or people tend to splurge more on convenience items, like eating out, time-saving apps, or delivery services. While I don’t allow myself many big “luxury” inflations, I have allowed myself to purchase some convenience items because my time, though it has become more important, is less.

Convenience purchases, to a point, can be a reinvestment back to yourself. I personally would so much rather spend money on something that saves me time or makes me feel better versus buying something luxurious just to have.

My most recent convenience purchase was an upgraded iPhone. As a blogger, I constantly rely on my phone to conduct business, and my old phone ran out of storage and no longer supported my needs. So this was a luxury that was worth the cost to me.

8. Know Your Bare-Bones Budget

While this hopefully isn’t the budget you have to rely on every day, I always keep a bare-bones budget in the back of my mind. This is the budget I would switch to if I ever lost my job or came down with a serious illness or emergency.

It’s important to keep this budget in mind because at some point in your life, you won’t be able to afford luxuries. So how can you keep your lifestyle in check?

Think about someone rich who lives lavishly. They could make a million dollars a year. But if they lost their job tomorrow, could they support their current lifestyle for very long? Probably not.

This is a case for not ever increasing your lifestyle too quickly. While you don’t need to be a cheapskate all the time, it’s important to limit your lifestyle to something you can afford no matter what life throws your way.

9. Advance Your Savings Goals

When you receive a raise or lump sum of income, how do you spend it? Do you automatically consider how you could increase your lifestyle?

I’m challenging you to instead, focus on increasing your savings. There is always a case for saving more money. It doesn’t make much sense to continually fund a more lavish lifestyle while you keep your saving goals the same.

Remember, as you earn more and your lifestyle increases, your savings goals must as well.

10. Remember, Personal Finance is Personal

Everyone has drastically different financial situations, and your money is yours. Don’t let anyone tell you how to spend it!

If you don’t care about buying a house ever, then don’t buy one. If you make $500,000 a year, but choose to invest all of it while not increasing your lifestyle at all, more power to you.

And that goes for me as well. These are all tips for avoiding lifestyle inflation, because I believe we all should live somewhat below our means. But don’t think I’m trying to tell you how to spend your money! Your situation, values, and needs are so different from mine or anyone else’s. So do what’s right for you, but also be mindful about how much you’re spending on creating a lifestyle for yourself. Because having a great life doesn’t need to cost a ton 🙂

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Have you ever been tempted to increase your lifestyle? Any other tips on how to avoid lifestyle inflation? Drop a comment below!

How to Make More Money At Your Full-Time Job

Do you feel stuck at your current salary? Here's exactly how to start earning more at your 9-5 job.Who doesn’t want to make more money at their 9-5 job? It’s common for people to feel like they aren’t being paid enough for what they do at work. Sometimes, though, instead of doing anything to try to earn a raise, people feel stuck with what they are making.

Clearly, companies are trying to get the most bang for their buck. If you’re okay with an annual 2-4% raise, your employer could continue that pattern every year. While you probably shouldn’t make a big stink and complain to your employer about your current salary, there is plenty that you can do to prove you deserve a raise and actually get one.

Here’s how to make more money at your 9-5.

1. Know Your Worth

It’s hard to know what you want your salary to be if you don’t know what is realistic. Salaries depend on many metrics, including years of experience, where you’re working, what industry you work in, job title, location, and education. A lot of people have a salary in their head of what they would like to be paid, but unfortunately, that is often unrealistic.

Continue reading “How to Make More Money At Your Full-Time Job”

10 Lessons I’ve Learned in my First Year of Blogging

So it’s sort of my blogging anniversary. This blog has been around for quite awhile, but it’s only been in the past year that I have devoted time and effort to post (mostly) consistently. It’s crazy that it’s already been so long! I have learned SO MUCH from blogging and I can’t wait to see how much more this little space can grow.

When I started this blog, I never would have imagined I could be someone who made money through blogging. I started a blog mostly as an experiment and to exercise my passion for finance and writing. It has grown so much more (and much more quickly) than I ever could have imagined. To think, after only a year and I am already making money from blogging!

If you’re interested in starting your own blog, read my free tutorial here!

Not only that, but my blog has lead to the opportunity to get paid to freelance write for other bloggers and companies. Honestly, it has been so amazing to get paid well for writing! I know I have a lot left to learn, but I have learned so much during this past year of blogging. Some were fun lessons to learn, but most were complete fails, so I hope you have a laugh and learn from my mistakes!

1. You Need to Create Content People Want to Read

A blog is your own personal space, and I definitely think you should share as much of your life on there as you want. However, if you’re serious about earning money while blogging and getting actual people to visit your blog, you need to write solid and engaging content that people want to read.

This was a huge shift in thinking for me. No one was going to find my blog if I only wrote about my own life and finances. I had to have an applicable takeaway. So I started thinking about blog post titles. If I was writing something that didn’t have a strong title, I knew it wouldn’t perform well.

I occasionally still do personal and financial updates, but I know that these won’t drive traffic to my blog, so I don’t spend time marketing them.

2. Consistency is Key

This is cliché, but it is so true. Once you build up any following, even if its tiny, you need to be there for your readers. They will expect a steady stream of blog posts!

This isn’t to say you need to post every single day. Lord knows I do not. But chose a time – maybe every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday or just once a week on Mondays. Post new content the same time every week.

3. Be Prepared to Make Income

I say this because I was totally not prepared to make any money. So all of the sudden, I had people reaching out to me wanting to partner with me or hire me and I had no idea what to do!

I suggest thinking about what kind of work you might do. Would you be open to affiliate partnerships? Different advertisers? Freelance writing opportunities?

Currently, I make money through all 3 channels, so I need to have material for any potential client to understand what services I offer. I created a media kit, which has been a literal lifesaver! I’ll have to do a post on media kits in the future, but essentially, a media kit is a snapshot of who you are, what you do, what services you offer, your stats, and your rates. It sounds like a lot, but my media kit is just a simple one-page document. I update it periodically when I change my rates. Now, when I reach out to a potential client or vice versa, I simply send this document to them. It helps me to always be prepared for new opportunities!

Once you start making money, I also HIGHLY suggest opening a separate bank account for your blogging income. I personally use Capital One 360 savings, and I can’t recommend it enough. It’s all online, which allows them to give me higher interest rates on my savings! If you’re interested and open an account today through my link, you’ll get $25 once you simply deposit just $250 into a new account.

4. Hard Work = More Pageviews = More Money

While this isn’t always true, I definitely see a correlation between my hard work and how much I make. When I slack a little on the blog, I don’t receive as many page views, which definitely leads to a decrease in blogging income.

Good things come to you when you work hard! Blogging is a lot of hard work, especially at first, but it’s fun if you’re passionate about it!

5. Back It Up

No, I won’t tell you to get low. But hear it from me. Back. Up. Your. Darn. WEBSITE!

There may have been a time when I first started blogging that I accidentally deleted my entire website *SHAME and EMBARRASSMENT*

Luckily, I didn’t have a ton of content, and I was able to recover all my content. I just used it as a good excuse to redo my blog layout and design,

6. Be True to Yourself

Remember, above all, that this is your blog. Look to other blogs for inspiration, but be YOU! The world doesn’t need two of the exact same blogs.

I struggled with this a lot at first. I would read blogs that were written in a much more professional and formal tone. I thought I was supposed to write like them! But I realized that it’s not who I am and it’s not what I want this blog to be about. I want this blog to be a fun place to learn about finances and such. So I won’t hide the fact anymore that 99% of the blogs I write are while I’m on my second glass of Cab and rewatching Greys.

Keep in mind, this also applies to choosing who you work with and represent. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some companies and brands I really truly love and would recommend. I’ve also had a lot of shady brands reach out to work with me. It can be hard to turn down money, but if it isn’t a brand you can 100% stand behind, it’s better to turn down an offer than to sacrifice your integrity.

I truly do believe that, so that’s why I try to be honest with you guys in that I do get paid for affiliate links and sponsored posts. But I don’t partner with any company, product, or service I wouldn’t 100% recommend.

7. Pinterest is Your Best Friend

Most of my traffic comes from Pinterest, and it has honestly been the best tool I’ve used so far when it comes to blogging.

Even though I LOVE Pinterest, there is no way I can be on it 24/7 and figure out the best times to pin and share my content. So I pay for two services that do it for me. I can’t decide which one I like better, so I still use both Boardbooster and Tailwind to schedule my Pinterest feed. They both have their pros and cons. I think Tailwind is easier to use, but I get better results from Boardbooster, so I continue to pay for the smallest plan on each.

8. Have a Flexible Attitude

You can read about blogging and learn as much as you can, but it really is something you have to just dive right in and take as it comes. No amount of preparation can really prepare you (I’m Type-A and can’t believe I’m saying skip the planning!)

Opportunities will arise. You’ll face rejection. You’ll have viral posts. You’ll also have months with very low traffic.

9. Focus on Collaboration, Not Competition

The personal finance blogging community has been so freaking supportive. There are a lot of money blogs out there, but I have never felt like they are my competition. Other PF bloggers have been encouraging and willing to share their wisdom. I’ve learned so much from other bloggers and they have helped me out a ton. I love getting emails from other bloggers and that I know I can reach out to a variety of different people if I need anything.

Personal finance bloggers are so collaborative that we even have our own website directory, created by a few bloggers! Check it out!

10. Have Fun with It!

Blogging is as fun or as stressful as you make it. Push yourself to do well and be consistent, but also enjoy the freedom to write about whatever you would like.

*Bonus! Learn How to Code!*

You don’t need a deep understanding of coding, but as I wrote this, I am so glad I learned a little CSS. WordPress blog themes generally make it easy to make this website look pretty, but sometimes I do have to go in and change the code to get it to look exactly how I want. Learning coding isn’t as difficult as it sounds! I highly recommend checking out Codeacademy.com (and it’s free!)

Are you a blogger? What lessons have you learned? If you’re not a blogger, do you have questions about blogging? Comment below!

How to Give Back by Doing Your Taxes

This post is sponsored by 1040 taxes, but all opinions are my own.

What time of year is it? Yes, it’s getting closer to spring. But you may be forgetting that it is tax season!

Maybe that’s a season only a personal finance blogger can get excited about. The reality is most of us don’t look forward to doing taxes. It can be complicated, messy, and time-consuming. But the good news is that there are ways to make filing taxes easier and simpler, and do some good for the world while you’re at it.

If you haven’t filed your taxes yet, I highly recommend looking at filing on 1040.com.

Continue reading “How to Give Back by Doing Your Taxes”

Life and Finances Update

It has been radio silent over here for a few weeks, and I’m sorry to have missed you!

As I have mentioned, my only “resolution” this year has been to be a little nicer and less hard on myself. So I actively chose to skip blogging for a few weeks.

Life is always crazy and busy, but honestly, these last few weeks have been very challenging for me.

As you may know, I am getting married at the beginning of March, which is coming up SO SOON. Wedding planning has been very time consuming. And other than that, life has been filled with a lot of travel. And some amazing things have been in the works for my freelancing business, so that has been even more consuming.

So here is a little update on where I have been.

Continue reading “Life and Finances Update”

Want to make money in the comfort of your own home and on your own time? A blog is the honest-to-goodness best way to start making money on your own terms. Here's a step-by-step tutorial on how to start your own blog today!

How to Start a Profitable Blog

When people find out that I make money through blogging, it never fails that they ask how to start a blog themselves. So today I will explain exactly how I set up my blog with Bluehost and give you step-by-step instructions.

If you start a blog using my link, you will receive a very low price on Bluehost hosting, AND you will receive a FREE domain name. It’s super easy to do, so let’s get started.

I’ve been blogging consistently for less than a year, and in that time, my blog has earned me significant money as well as given me the opportunity to earn even more money with freelance writing on the side. Never did I expect anyone to actually read this blog, and I definitely never thought I could actually make money.

I could go on and on (and on) about how much blogging has benefited me and why you should start one. But I will try to be brief! Blogging has allowed me to earn extra income on top of my 9-5 job. I’ve used that money to pay down my student loans and save for my wedding. I’ve had the opportunity to work with incredible brands, improve my writing skills, and meet some really incredible fellow bloggers.

It’s a lot of work, but so worth it to me. I love feeling like I have control over my income, and blogging has provided me extra security if either my fiance or I lost our jobs. Plus, the extra money is always nice to have (and all the freebies I get from blogging is a major perk, tbh!)

Big bloggers earn hundreds of thousands of dollars every MONTH. Yes, you read that right…many bloggers are making over a million dollars a year from working online.

Many people tell me they have thought about starting a blog, but feel like they should educate themselves and prepare before they start a blog. My biggest piece of advice is to just start a blog right now. You can try to prepare and understand, but blogging is one of those things you really just have to dive right in to learn. You cannot start making money until you start a blog, and blogs don’t have to be perfect to make money.

Many people start a blog through free blogging services like Wix, Blogger, or the free WordPress. Starting a blog on one of these free providers is a mistake. You soon will find that having a free blog will hinder you from working with sponsors and advertisers. You have little control over the free blogs, and you DO NOT own your actual website!

I know a ton of bloggers who started out on these free services, only to realize they soon needed to self-host. They had to go through a major mess of trying to transition everything from their old blog to their new, self-hosted blog. It cost a lot of time and money for them, so I hope you do not make the same mistake!

The good news is that starting a professional blog with Bluehost is easy and VERY affordable. My fiance jokes that my blog was the cheapest hobby to start and the most (or only?) hobby that proves to be profitable!

I chose to start my blog with Bluehost because, after doing a lot of research, I found that most bloggers I knew used them and recommended them. I continue to use Bluehost and have had a great experience with them. They are easy to work with, cheap, and efficient.

And they were easy! I’m not a technical person at all. My fiance is an IT guy, but I set up my blog (and continue to run it) all by myself. Please don’t be intimidated by the term “self-hosted.” If I can do it, I promise you can.

When you register through my link, you get a reduced plan rate at just $3.95 per month (!) and a FREE domain name!

Other advantages to Bluehost is the 24/7 tech support, the ability to have a professional self-hosted blog, and a 30-day money back guarantee. So if you have even been thinking about starting a blog, I would suggest starting one today.

Click here to get the discounted price for Bluehost and your free domain name, and then continue reading the rest of the tutorial for how to set up your very own website.

Once you’ve signed up for your very own website here, follow the simple instructions below.

  1. Choose Your Hosting Plan

Once you’ve signed up for your discounted Bluehost account, you’ll be shown a few different hosting packages and options. Save your money and go with the cheapest “basic” package (shown on the far left). When you’re just starting out blogging, you won’t need anything fancy or huge. Even with thousands of visitors a month, I’m still on the starter package with Bluehost and have had no complaints, plus you can always upgrade at any point.

Bluehost

Remember that Bluehost is very affordable, but it also comes with a money-back guarantee. If you start blogging and decide it isn’t for you, you can always cancel and get a prorated refund for any months you have left on your plan.

2. Choose Your Blog and Domain Name

A domain is just the name of your blog or website, which you get for free when you sign up with Bluehost!

Think about what you want your blog name to be. You want it to be clear, easy to read and understand, and not confusing to spell or type out. You also want it to relate to whatever you’re blogging about.

I named my blog The Latte Budget because I knew the idea of “the latte factor,” or the idea that coffee or other small, convenient purchases ruin budgets, gets Googled frequently.

You can really name your blog whatever you want! I would, however, highly suggest that you make sure your blog name ends in “.com” and not “.me,” “.net,” or any other suffix. In the world today, “.com” is most popular and it causes confusion for those trying to find your website if it isn’t a .com!

Once you choose your domain name, type it in the “new domain” box in Bluehost. This will tell you if it is already taken or not.

A lot of times, your domain name, plus the .com, will already be taken. Don’t get too frustrated! Just get creative with what you want to name your blog. Your blog name is important, but whats even more important is content. No matter what you name your blog, if you have good content, it will be read!

Once you enter in your free domain name, continue to follow through to register your new website. The last screen will list a bunch of extras you can add on, as shown below. Honestly, you don’t really need at this point. I don’t pay for any extras, so I suggest saving your money!

And then, congrats, you officially have your own blog! 🙂

3. Install WordPress into Your Blog

Now you’re not quite done, but you’re getting so close! The next step is to install WordPress onto your blog. WordPress is the actual platform your blog runs on.

Once you’ve completed the prior steps, log into your new Bluehost account. You will see a blue bar at the top of the page. Press “hosting” and then look at the white bar underneath that. You will see the option of “cpanel,” so click that.

When you’re on this page, go under website (not shown in the picture, but it is another box like where it says “marketing,” or “email.” Just keep scrolling down.) Once you’re in the website box, you will see a button that says “Install WordPress.” Click that.

After clicking the “InstallWordPress” icon, follow the directions and click install. You will install WordPress to the new domain you just created. Then go through and create your login info.

Now you are completely set! You can officially enter into your website by opening a new tab. Type in your website, plus /login to the end of the domain. (for example…www.thelattebudget.com/login). Now enter in your username and password and viola! You’re all done!

Really, if you have any questions about how to start your own blog with Bluehost, please let me know! Blogging has honestly provided me with so many opportunities and I want you to see for yourself what a blog can do for you. Please email me with any questions you may have (thelattebudget[at]gmail.com). I am so happy to help!

 

The Story of How I Almost Bought $30 Mascara

So the other week, I was at a party at my friend’s house. Wine was involved (I mean, hello, this is me we are talking about).

As the night went on, all of us girls ended up in my friend’s bathroom. Side note: IDK why girls always end up in a bathroom together. So many life convos. Anyway. My friend happens to be a distributor for a certain higher end makeup brand. So we were all in there trying on her makeup.

Let’s be clear. I honestly am not much of a makeup girl. But I am too frugal to pay someone to do my makeup for my wedding, so I have been experimenting with doing my own. So I was open to my friend and her products.

I tried on some of the mascara. It was that kind with 752 steps. And I put it on and holy sh*t! My eyes were huge! Gorgeous! I needed this! Everyone agreed!!

As I’m batting my eyelashes at myself, someone asked the price of the mascara. $30. Ouch. A far cry from my usual $4 mascara I get from Target with a coupon.

Even with all the pressure, I walked away from buying this mascara. I know it doesn’t seem like much of an achievement, but can you think of times you were seriously tempted to buy something you didn’t really need?

I was proud I walked away from an impulse purchase. And here are some tips to help you walk away, too.

Don’t sip and shop

Had I had one more glass of wine, I would have bought a tube of that mascara. Had I had more, I would have bought 197 tubes of it. In short – we make some stupid choices with alcohol. It causes us to be impulsive and do things we wouldn’t normally do.

Be aware of this and don’t let it blow your finances! If you need to, ask a friend to hold you accountable. You don’t want to wake up with that sort of regret.

Thou shalt feel no guilt

We all have that friend who sells something. And we all love her and support her. But that doesn’t mean that we need to pretend we need whatever she is selling.

I love my friend, and I am thankful that she wasn’t pressuring me into buying her product. If I had $30 for mascara, I would buy it. But the truth is, I don’t have a makeup budget. And, though her product was nice, I really didn’t need it.

It’s so easy for women to feel guilty about not buying a product from a friend. But truthfully, if that friend is making you feel guilty or pressuring you into buying something, maybe she isn’t that great of a friend.

The only thing this does not apply for is Girl Scout cookies. If you know a chick selling those, you better order up and put her on speed dial.

Know your values

If makeup is your thing and you have $30 in your budget for it, go for it, girl. There is no shaming here. But like I said, makeup is NOT my thing and it isn’t a high priority for me. I would rather spend that money in other ways.

Personal finance is just that – it’s personal. So know your values and make the right, well -thought out decision for you.

You’re better than peer pressure

It isn’t easy. When all your friends are blowing a ton of money, you want to, too. You don’t want to look like the broke girl or the one who isn’t having any fun.

My girlfriends were telling me how good that mascara looked and how I NEEDED to buy it. And while I wasn’t offended by that, I just didn’t let it get to me. Because that mascara was not the right thing for me to buy.

Know how to brush it off and say no. Trust me. If you spend your life succumbing to peer pressure, you will be broke and unhappy. It’s all about making the right decisions for you.


Remember that it is called personal finance for a reason. Don’t let anyone tell you what you should and should not spend money on. Take ownership of your financial situation and commit to only making well thought out and planned purchases.

It’s 2017!

Happy New Years my friends! I hope you all enjoyed yourself this season.

One of my goals this year is to be a little easier on myself. So that meant no writing while on Christmas vacation, so no post from me today! But don’t worry, I’ll be back with some great content (and a story!) next Monday.

If you’re really missing me, check out some of these recent posts!

How to Make 2017 Your Best Year Yet

How to Start Your Own Profitable Freelance Writing Business

7 Productivity Hacks to Combat Procrastination

See you next week!

 

As I reflect on this past year, I realized something And it is...holy sh*t, I've learned a ton! Here are my 10 biggest financial lessons I learned in 2016.

10 Biggest Financial Lessons I Learned in 2016

As I reflect on this past year, I realized one thing. And it is…holy sh*t, I’ve learned a ton!

It’s refreshing to look back and see how far you’ve come and what all you have learned! So here are my 10 biggest financial lessons I learned in 2016.

1. Cost of living matters

I used to live in rural Iowa, where I could rent a 4 bedroom house for $500 a month. I moved to Charleston, South Carolina in 2014 and every single year, the cost of living increases astonishes me.

They estimate 40 people are moving to Charleston every single day, so the housing costs, in particular, is skyrocketing. Every year, our rent is being raised, so every year, we have moved to a new apartment complex.

I forever find myself wondering what our finances would look like if we could even save $500 a month on our living expenses, but for now, we both have jobs that pay us well enough that the high cost of living is nothing more than an annoyance. We couldn’t be paid as well in an area of lower cost of living, so we are trying to adjust to seeing our rent cost.

2. My current money situation is because of me

This is a hard lesson to learn. I have student loan debt because I didn’t pay for school as I went or apply to enough scholarships. I earned a degree that wouldn’t have paid well (and required a ton of hours). So there was a period of time I wasn’t able to put hardly anything towards debt. Now that I have switched careers and have also started freelance writing on the side, I earn more, but man, I have had to work my butt off to make what I do (not to complain…I love my job and writing!)

I can’t point fingers at my school for being too expensive or blame people for not educating me. Because I should have taught myself. I was just plain stupid.

You might find yourself in a similar situation. Once you claim responsibility for your current situation, you’re setting yourself on the right path to achieve financial freedom. And the good news is that even if you got yourself into a bad situation, you are the ONLY one who can get yourself out of that situation. It’s empowering. So go kick butt.

3. Weddings are NOT cheap

I try. I knew having a wedding in Charleston would be ridiculously expensive, but it was something we wanted to do anyway. I’m fighting tooth and nail to keep the cost of this wedding as low as possible, but man. It ain’t easy!

I knew going in that it would be expensive, so I would have to lower my standards. There are so many creative ways to save! I haven’t been afraid to break tradition, so I think that helps!

4. I can make more money

This year, I was able to start making money off my blog and by freelance writing. Honestly, I didn’t really think it would be possible for me. It took a lot of hard work, but I love earning more money!

Making money on the side has been extremely empowering. It’s comforting to know if I ever lost my job or had a financial emergency that I have another source of income. And I feel proud of the little business I have built!

5. Budgets will never be perfect

No matter how much you try, your budget will never be perfect. Every day, week, and month are different, and that’s why I am fairly flexible with my budgeting.

If a super strict budget works for you, go for it! It just doesn’t really work for me. In the near future, I will be writing a post all about my flexible budgeting.

6. I’m capable of a hell of a lot more than I thought

Okay, so this might not be a direct financial realization, but taking ownership of my finances this year has shown me a lot. I had debt to pay off and a wedding to save for. I had major goals, and I realized I needed to make even more money to make it possible.

So I started earning money freelance writing and putting that towards my financial goals. I also worked extremely hard at my full-time job to earn a raise. I made it my mission to provide value and then demand to be paid for my value.

It hasn’t been easy AT ALL. Planning a wedding by myself while my fiancé is in a grueling grad school program has not been easy. Plus freelance writing, blogging, working, and studying for a certification has been tough but so worth it. Yes, there have been meltdowns on my part and times I wanted to quit everything, but I am proud of what I have done to meet my long-term goals.

I don’t say this to humble brag, but I hope you can realize that you can achieve more than you ever thought. If you aren’t relentlessly pursuing your goals, then they aren’t big enough. I didn’t learn that until I realized my student loan debt would be the biggest barrier to my goals of going to further my education, so I am thankful to have learned this lesson.

7. You can’t be “average” with your money

I talk to a lot of people about money, and I have to laugh at how many times people tell me they are just “okay” at dealing with their own money. Though I admit I do tend to see things in black and white, this just doesn’t make sense to me.

If you are just “okay” or “average” with your money, that means you don’t have as much control as you should have. While everyone has room for improvement with finances, there are some very black and white things. Debt is bad. Savings is good. If you have debt but are telling me you’re working your butt off to pay it back, I would assume that you are recovering from being bad with your money.

These are more my thoughts, so feel free to agree or disagree. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

8. Comparison is stupid

Everyone, especially women, are guilty of comparison on a regular basis. I am terrible at it! I find myself getting so jealous of other people. I compare myself to others, when I have no idea what their personal situation or feelings are.

Comparison is definitely something I want to work on in the new year. Because it’s a huge time waster! I’m excited to see what I can achieve when I put my blinders on and keep the focus on myself instead of comparing myself to others.

9. Emergency funds are a life-saver

I can’t emphasize emergency funds enough. You. Need. One.

My emergency fund gives me so much peace of mind and security. That $600 car repair bill earlier this year? I had cash for it. Without my emergency fund, my budget would have been blown for months!

10. Communication is ABSOLUTELY the key to healthy finances

Perhaps the most important lesson I learned this year is about communicating with my fiance about our finances. We have always been very open and honest about our own financial situations, and now that we are in the process of combining our finances, we really have to talk about it.

We don’t really have money fights because we have worked out our agreement. We each get some cash every month to spend at our own discretion. It’s been a huge learning opportunity this year, and I’m excited to see how our finances look when they are all officially combined (I know…nerdy to be excited about this!)


These are a few of my lessons learned this year! What are your biggest financial lessons learned in 2016? Comment below!

How to make 2017 your best year yet

How to Make 2017 Your Best Year Yet

Did you set a ton of resolutions at the beginning of 2016, only to find another year flew by without achieving all of your goals?

It happens to all of us. Our resolutions slip through the cracks and we give up when we lose motivation.

And you know what? It’s okay. We can be so hard on ourselves sometimes that the moment we mess up, we give up entirely.

Stand with me and promise to make 2017 your best year ever. Here is how I am planning to make the new year count.

Have financial goals

If you haven’t already made financial goals this year, now is the time to start.

There is so much you can do to improve your finances this year. You can start a budget, pay off debt, and start saving for an emergency. Decide what your goals are and go for it!

Find a way to progress at work

Ever wonder how some people work the same job for years and years and never move up?

Those people never pushed themselves at a young age. They never did more than what was asked, and they never took advantage of the opportunity in front of them.

We all know those people! I know I do not want to be one of them!

Being stagnant at work is a dangerous place to be. You lose motivation to get anything done and you lose passion for the job. And your boss probably will notice.

Find a way to keep your career moving forward, whether it means asking for more responsibility at your current job, going for a promotion, taking advantage of educational and training opportunities, or looking for a new job.

The people at work who you admire are constantly learning and keeping their skills fresh. They refuse to become stagnant and content. Keep pushing yourself. Find opportunity, even if it doesn’t look like there is any.

Start making money on the side

Making money on the side is an excellent way to help you achieve both your financial goals and your professional goals.

Think about what you would do with an extra $500 a month. You could pay off an extra $6,000 in debt in 2017 with that! You could build a $6,000 savings account, or travel the world….twice.

And making extra money every month is not difficult. You could get a second job, start a blog, build a freelance writing career from home, dog sit, nanny, or shovel snow. The possibilities are endless!

Another bonus of working on the side is that it keeps you motivated to do more. Think about what you currently spend your time outside of work doing. Are you fulfilled with that?

For me, freelance writing and blogging on the side has taught me so much about running my own business and how to build a website. These are skills that look good in my professional life, too!

Make time for your hobbies

Working a full-time job and a side hustle can be stressful. No matter where you are in life, it’s important to make time for your hobbies and spend time doing what you truly enjoy!

No matter what your hobby is, it’s important to invest time in it. If it makes you feel at peace, it is worth it. By spending time on your hobbies, you’ll be able to focus more on your professional and business life.

Workout

Working out. Ugh. It isn’t always fun but it is so worth it!

If you’re like me, you might find yourself sitting all day long. When I don’t workout, I feel so terrible and weak. My energy is at a low point and I feel terrible.

No matter how busy you are, make time for working out and eating healthy. It pays off. You’ll have more energy throughout the day as well as have a better attention span.

And those are just the immediate benefits of working out! You are setting yourself up for a long, healthy, and successful life when you workout.

Wake up earlier

You start your year with big goals. But you often find that you don’t have time to do them all. Especially those personal goals.

Waking up is exactly how to accomplish all your goals. Think about all the early risers you know. Would you consider them mostly to be very productive people?

I personally started waking up earlier last year. Some days, I get up 2 hours than earlier and some mornings, it is only 15 minutes earlier. But, no matter what, I am able to accomplish way more in the morning than I  could accomplish at night.

Get involved in the community

This year, make it a goal to find a way to get more involved with the community. You’ll be surprised how much you gain from further involvement!

Not only will you benefit those in your community, but you’ll gain professional skills and have a ton of opportunity to network.


The new year is the perfect time to implement some new, tangible goals. Push yourself and strive for balance to make 2017 the best year ever!