Savvy Saturdays: Why Saving Now Is Important

It doesn’t take a lot of common sense to understand that the more money you save, the better off you’ll be financially. But saving can be hard. In fact, when you live some where like Los Angeles or New York where the cost of living is through the roof, it can seem damn near impossible.

When you’re living paycheck to paycheck, it can be hard to see beyond next week’s bills.

But know this: it’s not impossible to start saving now. Sometimes, all you need is a little mental motivation.

Think about it this way: if you’re living paycheck to paycheck right now, relying on the hope/idea that at some point you’ll snag that job or promotion that will elevate you to a spending status where you can afford to buy a new car or house, you might never get there. But if you start being savvy with your money now, you might not need to snag that pay bump to afford the things you dream of.

Why?

Because saving is a mindset.

Here’s another point to ponder: if you’re living paycheck to paycheck right now, and its not because rent takes up 75% of your income and the other 25% goes to groceries and debt, it means that you’re spending any leftover money you have every month on things that aren’t a necessity. Often, even in a 75/25 situation involving debt payments, there are still ways you can cut your costs. So if you haven’t already gotten out of the habit of spending every dime you own, what makes you think that having a fatter paycheck will remedy your excessive expenditures? Take a lesson from Kanye and realize that having millions (or billions!) doesn’t necessarily guarantee your financial security.

Instead, get into the saving mindset: always strive to live one step below your means.

Simply put, this means that if you live on an income where you can afford to go out twice a week, live with the mindset that you can only afford to go out once a week, pocketing the cash you save not spending an extra night out each week. If you want to save more money faster, you can get more drastic. Currently, I tell everyone I’m too poor to pay for valet parking, go out more than once every two weeks, and spend full price on a movie ticket more than once or twice a year. I’m not going to tell you how much I could afford, because honestly, I don’t even want to know. As long as I live in this mindset, I’m saving money. The second I “let” myself afford more, I don’t.

So if you’re not already in this line of thinking, start training your brain to think this way now. Why? Because you’d be amazed how much you can save up by saying no to a $5 coffee here, and a $20 movie there. You might discover that in a few years’ time, you have enough to pay for a new (or new to you) car, cash up front! Or, if you’re a big dreamer like me, a down payment on a house. ūüôā

So get savvy, savers!

-tlc

 

Making Personal Growth

I was speaking with my cousin today – a totally awesome dreamer and creative who is my same age and yet has accomplished so much more than I probably ever will – and we were discussing the pros and cons of work that is creatively satisfying (if not quite what you want to be doing) vs. work that is mundane yet stable. The conversation brought up a lot of insight as to what is most important: your immediate happiness, or your ability to satisfy your personal creative and financial needs while working towards eventually meeting your career goals.

The answer: It’s a toss-up, really. Both hold merits, and it likely just comes down to individual needs and specific job opportunities. But what the conversation really reinforced for me was the idea of personal growth.

No matter what you’re doing, make sure you’re doing it for you.

The obvious consensus here is that you should always be taking into account what you want to be doing with your life. Meaning, not just creative and career goals, but things you want to achieve for yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally. Hence, your personal growth. Any job you have or decide to take should lend itself in someway to helping you reach these goals, whether that’s through immediate exposure (i.e. being an assistant to someone who is doing what you want to do and who will mentor you), or through stable flexibility (i.e. a job that isn’t really what you want to do, but that allows you the flexibility to work on what you want to do in your downtime OR gives you enough of your week that you can focus on your passion as a sort-of side job).

And herein lies the dilemma and heartache, because which do you choose? There are risks to both; the first, which might be more creatively satisfying in the moment, may have you spending much of your creative energies focusing on that which does not directly help your own goals. The second will allow you to spend your creative energies how you wish, but without the guarantee that you will find a direct way toward meeting your career goals. Both provide risks and benefits. Perhaps the decision will not be up to you; perhaps you will only come across the opportunity for one or the other.

You will have the opportunity to choose one thing: to pursue your own work, always. Meaning that while there are plenty of stable jobs out there that you could pursue, you have the ability to¬†choose one that lends you the flexibility or opportunities you need to create the career you want. This might not be easy to find, but it’s worth the work and search.

Just some thoughts. Good luck on whatever your career endeavor may be.

-tlc

An Open Letter To My Family About My Current Boyfriend, Netflix

Dear Mom and Dad,

I’ve met someone.

Yes, I know, he’s a rather – unconventional – boyfriend, but he’s nice and he’s always there for me. In fact, I like him so much I spend almost every evening with him! In a totally family-friendly way that I’m not embarrassed to tell you about. Don’t raise your eyebrows at me, mom. Get your mind out of the gutter.

Continue reading “An Open Letter To My Family About My Current Boyfriend, Netflix”

Musing Mondays: Why Now Is As Good A Time As Any

Start doing the things you dream about today. Yes, Googling “How to do [insert whatever it is you want to do]” counts as working towards your dream. Reward yourself.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my future lately, and what I want to do in that future. And though thinking about all of this has left me more questions than answers, I have figured out a couple of things: 1) The office 9-5pm (or for entertainment 9-6/7pm) is just not my scene, and 2) I want to travel and experience the world.

Okay, so I didn’t really really¬†just realize I hate working in an office and my desire to travel, but thinking about my future made me realize that these are things I should be pursuing now.

Why? Because why not? Why is now not as good a time as any other? As I get older, (hopefully) establish a stable career, (hopefully) start a family, I’ll only have more and more commitments. Down the road, when I get sick of renting (HA, already happened) and want to look into buying a home, I won’t have the freedom to spend (what little money I have) on travel that I do now. So why not? Sure, it means untangling a lot of logistical knots, sure it means trying to figure out an end plan for what to do/where to go when I get back stateside, but isn’t that worth it?

And I came to nearly the same conclusion about quitting the office lifestyle and going remote/freelance: Isn’t it worth buckling down now, building up work as a freelancer now, so that I can have the flexibility I need to focus on writing? Because the end goal is getting paid to write and stay home anyways, right? So why occupy all of my time at an office doing a job that won’t set me on the trajectory I’m looking for, when I can find work from home, and devote more time to writing. Sure, it means giving up a steady, stable, moderately cushy (for the likes of me) paycheck, but it also means the possibility of a more rewarding, bigger payout much sooner than possible when devoting my week days to an office.

This isn’t my big, public “I’m quitting my job” announcement post; I have starting formulating a short-term trajectory and plan to fulfill my travel dreams, and eventually transition to a remote work lifestyle. For now, I’m continuing to work and save up as much as I can. But I tell you all of this to say one thing:

Stop telling yourself no.

There will always be bumps, always be commitments that seem too important to set aside. As someone who grew up in the Midwest, raised under the mentality that a stable job and income was more important that pursuing a passion, I understand that it’s downright terrifying to give up the comfort of home, the safety of a close-knit family, and the familiarity of friends and a certain lifestyle to accomplish the things you’ve dreamt about doing. But you should do it anyways. Not because putting in the effort necessarily means you’ll be successful or accomplish what you set out to do, but because trying and failing is still more of a success than never trying at all. Don’t live your life in regret and full of wondering what might have been. Go out and do. You’ll be surprised where life will take you, and what you wind up doing might turn out to be something you had never even thought of, but that you love even more than your original dream.

Don’t put up walls–I don’t want to hear any excuses about why you can’t do something you want to do! Figure out how to make it possible! I’d love to know what you want to do, share it in the comments, and if I know of any resources that might be helpful, I’ll share them with you!

-tlc

5 Things To Get Going With Your Goals

I came back to Los Angeles last week a little bit overwhelmed with the possibilities and potential trajectories of my life in the upcoming year. There are a lot of places I’d like to go, things I’d like to do, and accomplishments I’d like to achieve. It was all a giant blurry mess inside my head, and trying to sort out what was priority and what was fluffy back-burner pipeline dreams threw me into a lot of gray area. I started questioning what my true career goals were and what I really needed in order to be happy and enjoy my life on the daily. I realized something about myself that I had never really considered or allowed myself to fully embrace: I have some burning entrepreneurial ambition that I’ve never truly explored. And I also realized that what I really want is not a specific career title, but rather a career lifestyle. It kind of blew my mind when I came to this realization.¬†Once I knew this, I suddenly had a new-found energy to face the bumpy, unknown road ahead. I created my list of goals and rules for myself, and I’ve started tackling them with a zest I didn’t know I had. You’ve probably seen some of my posts on Instagram about the healthy lifestyle change I’m making through ID Life, but that’s not even the half of it.

I want you to find your own zest, too! Maybe you’re rethinking your own goals, or wanting to renew your efforts on some old goals, or maybe you don’t even have any goals yet–that’s fine. It’s important to accept where you are and know that the only way to fail is if you don’t let yourself try. Here are five things that I’ve been doing that have really helped me start off with a bang and stay on track:

  1. Write Everything Down–I’ve noticed over the past few months that not only is it immensely helpful to clear the mind of overwhelmingly cluttered thought by writing everything that is distracting me down, but that actually hand-writing these things is very therapeutic. When I’m working on a writing project, I always start with pen and paper now. The only exception I’ve made for this is my list of goals, rules, and general thoughts on my short-term life plans. Those I keep in a typed document on my phone, where I can reference them any time and they don’t take up physical space, which always makes me feel clutter if I feel that it’s something I can’t lose and can’t file away. BUT, before you can make such a document for yourself, it’s best to brainstorm, word-vomit (whatever you need to do to get those thoughts out of your brain), etc, on a sheet of paper, first!
  2. Mantras–Okay, I was definitely one of those people who thought mantras were super cheesy and weird. Even in yoga class, when the instructor would have us do the “Omm” I would feel so silly. But I’ve been doing a home practice for a while now and have started incorporating phrases into my daily routine. When I give myself permission to say these mantras and really think about how they can apply to my day,¬†and how I can incorporate them into my actions, I find I go about the rest of my day with more vigor, and I often do just what I tell myself in my mantra, sometimes without even realizing it.
  3. Perspective–Often, new years resolutions fail because people come at them with negativity. I.e. “I’m going to lose 30lbs,” “I’m going to quit smoking,” “I’m going to read more because I don’t read enough,” etc, etc. It’s great to have a desire for self improvement, but when you come at it from the angle that where you are right now is a problem that needs to be fixed, you set yourself up for failure. This is because you already view your current state of self as a failure, so when the results you’re looking for don’t come when you expect them, when you get impatient that things aren’t happening more quickly, you’ll view your unchanged¬†status as a failure, and not a success for simply taking the effort to make a change. Instead, approach it as a transformation: you are building upon yourself. Reading more is an investment in your mind, getting in shape or beating your addiction is an investment in your health, etc. Seeing your lifestyle changes this way will allow you to give yourself recognition every time you make an effort towards achieving that change.
  4. Prioritize–There are some things that are always going to need done in your life: cooking, cleaning, paying the bills, etc., and there are some things that always wind up on the back burner because of this, usually the things you actually want to do. Obviously you can’t ignore your bills or stop eating, so instead, find a way to streamline these things that works for you. Maybe that means you put your bills on autopay, or take two hours out of one day each week to plan out and/or cook your meals for the coming week. Maybe you do one chore a day so that the dirt and grime doesn’t build up and you don’t wind up spending precious free time turning housework into a weekend event. This might not solve the time needs for all of the adult responsibilities you have. But find a way to streamline the most important things (the ones that will cause a shitstorm if they don’t get done) and shrug off the rest. You’ll be dusting for the rest of your life. You need to travel, write, build, research, learn–whatever it is you want to do–now.
  5. Relieve–Even after you’ve written down all of your mind clutter, given yourself a positive mantra, allowed yourself to accept where you are, and prioritized your responsibilities, you’ll probably be feeling overwhelmed or anxious at the impending changes to your routine. It’s a lot to keep track of, even if its something as simple as adding 30 minutes of exercise to your day. You need to remember to give yourself breathing room; find a place or a time each week (maybe each day if you need it) to get out of your routine bubble and just let yourself be. Maybe that’s meditating in your room, maybe its a stroll around the block or in a nearby park; my personal weekly relief is church. This is some place or activity that you don’t view as a commitment or obligation. It’s a reward that you freely give to yourself because you know you need it. Even if you don’t feel like you deserve it, don’t feel like you’ve done enough this week to give up the time for it, allow yourself time for relief. It will help refresh your energy and renew your determination to achieve your dreams!

I would love to hear about what you’ve done to achieve your goals. Share in the comments if you have any great things to add to this list! Let’s conquer 2016 and be the best we can be.

-tlc

How I’m Making Better Changes in 2016 (And You Should, Too)

I don’t know about you, but 2016 has been off to an interesting start. Not to go into too much detail, but 2015 ended with a not-so-great bang, and though I’ve enjoyed my 2016 so far (I got to explore Seattle and part of Portland with my adorable nephews!) I haven’t been too enthusiastic about it. BUT, I am determined! The past couple of years have been a bit of a wander for me; I’ve jumped head-first into a new city and industry that I knew nothing about ahead of time, and I’ve learned to make things work. But I’ve spent enough time simply letting things happen and “going with the flow” (Not that either of those things are bad; the first rule to being happy in life is learning that nothing is truly in your control). This year is about taking initiative and taking steps towards finding what goals matter most to me, and then reaching those goals. And maybe I can help you reach your goals, too.

How? Well, for starters, after reading my last post my good friend Joel sent me a great article about making goals and resolutions vs. making rules, and the success rate of each. Check out the article here, it makes some great points!

So I am making some rules for myself. I sat down this afternoon and wrote up a quick list of rules I want to implement into my daily routine over the course of the next couple of months, and then a wrote up a list of general goals for the year so that when I’m ready to create and implement new rules, I can go back to my list and stay focused on the things I most want to accomplish this year. I’m keeping all of this on my phone, as I’ve realized that as much as I love pen and paper, I feel very disorganized having random sheets and lists lying around my room, and eventually I lose them, anyways. I also didn’t want to type it up on my computer, as it would likely get lost in my documents folder and I would never look at it again. This way, with both my rule list and my goal list on my phone, I have them with me whenever I want to look at them, and they don’t take up space or make me feel cluttered or overwhelmed.

I also started off small, making a list of maybe 5-6 rules total for me to implement gradually over the course of the next month so as not to overwhelm myself. That’s also why I created a goal list; 5-6 simple rules will not get all of my goals completed, but as I successfully implement my rules, I can create more that will eventually help me reach my end goal.

I’m also changing my outlook this year. So often, I find that I fail at reaching the goals I create for myself because I expect to find success or completion before I’ve even begun. I don’t like the way I look in a sports bra and yoga pants while I’m working out, so I stop. I don’t have the knowledge or creativity to generate viral quality content, so I stop producing. I stop publishing. The first three pages of my current writing project suck, so I quit working on it. Etc. Etc.

This year, I’m looking at it as a work in progress. If this blog and its readership has taught me anything, it’s that working through the tough, embarrassing, often public mishaps that come with being new to something and learning as you go is the only way to find success at something. Rome wasn’t built in a day, Harry Potter was not the first story that J.K. Rowling wrote, and every successful business person has failed first. So you get the privilege of seeing this blog change before your eyes, and maybe seeing me change, too!

I want to hear about your goals for this year, and if you need help making rules of your own, give me a shout out. You know where to find me.

-tlc

2016

I don’t like New Years Resolutions. They always lead to disappointment.

But every year I make them anyways.

This year, though, I want to call them goals. Because they aren’t things that I want to jump into head-on and overwhelm myself, they are things I want to carry out steadily until they become second nature; part of my routine; a lifestyle.

But I don’t want to tell you about my personal “goals” for the year. I want to tell you about what I want to do with this blog!

Last year, I made a commitment to post every week, and I stuck to it (for the most part), missing only seven posts over the course of the year. To me, that’s HUGE! If you’re interested, check out the exact statistics and how much posting on a weekly schedule really boost my readership here.

So, here are some goals that you, as a reader, can look forward to on this blog in the upcoming year:

A solid theme. When I really started focusing on this blog, it started out as a sudo-advice column for college students transitioning from school into the real world. Since then, it’s slowly turned into simply a personal blog with almost a diary-type feel to it. This is going to change. In the upcoming weeks I will be looking towards focusing more on things I love to do, i.e. writing and crafting! Expect more how-to’s and useful lists.

A new website! This one might take a while. Running a blog, even one as simple as this, takes a LOT of work. I’ve put hours upon hours into this thing, and I don’t get paid to do it. Not even Google pays me. That’s how much of a passion project this thing is. I’ve been looking for a way to transition towards a multi-page site that allows me to have more than one fluid posting page. Currently, I can have multiple pages, however every page except this one is stagnant, meaning I cannot publish individual posts to individual pages. If I want to edit something on another page, I have to go in and reformat that page manually. It also means that on other pages, you can’t call up certain posts according to tags or publish dates. This makes for a serious lack of organization and optimization that I hate.

Posting changes. Fridays are great, but I’m currently debating between a Saturday or Monday morning post time. This will give me more time to get posts perfected and to you without missing my deadline.

That’s all. I’m keeping it realistic, and trying not to overwhelm myself with too many to-dos. After all, like I said, I don’t get paid for this. And I’ve already got my work cut out for me.

I would love to hear your opinions on these goals as well. If you have a suggestion or something you enjoy reading on my blog, let me know in the comments. Your input is much appreciated!

-tlc

Self Value

So my birthday was this week. A lot of people say having a birthday around the holidays is bad because people are busy and people try to short you presents, but I’ve always loved my birthday. I think having a December birthday is the best time to have a birthday. First of all, everyone is already in a festive mood and the season is bright and cheery. Secondly, I’ve never had a problem with people making time for my birthday, but maybe that’s more because I’m pretty low-key when it comes to these kinds of things.

This year though, there was one thing that my birthday gave me that I hadn’t realized I needed: a reminder of my self-worth.

See, it always tends to happen that as the days grow closer to my birthday, things get busier and everyone gets stressed. In college my birthday always fell on the weekend before finals week, and now in big-kid world, my birthday tends to fall on the week before the last week of work before the holiday break (aka the busy week when everyone realizes they need to hustle because they also have to do Christmas shopping and pack for winter travels).

This particular year, I had a very stressful encounter with someone that I have to see on pretty much a daily basis, just a few days before my birthday. Though I was eventually able to mediate the situation and clear things up, the volatile–and rather intensely negative–reaction I received from the person before I was able to set things straight really had me in a foul mood. I just couldn’t understand how a person could have such a lack of respect for another human being that they had no problem spouting off vile things as if another¬†person had no value. Without realizing it, I had let it affect the way I view myself, as if anyone’s negative opinion of me somehow made me less valuable as a person. Even after the situation was resolved, I was still harboring these feelings.

And then my birthday came, and with it, calls and well-wishes from my very-much-loved friends and family. And though the gesture was small on each of their parts, knowing that these people had made an effort to remember my birthday and then took time out of each of their days to call me reminded me just how valuable I am to each of them. But more importantly, I realized that I had been holding on to these negative feelings and needed to let go of them. Because it’s stupid to hold someone else’s opinion of yourself higher than¬†your own opinion. Especially when that person cannot respect someone enough to show them decency through their own emotional turmoil.

So value yourself. Because you mean a lot to someone, and you have a lot of value to bring to this world, even if you can’t see it at this moment, and even if someone else can’t see it, either. And also remember, even when you’re angry with someone, that they are human too, and give them the respect and value that is demanded of that fact. Don’t curse someone out just because you need someone to spew your emotions on to.

-tlc

Terrible Days

I just want to shout-out for a second to all of those times when we are just grumpy for absolutely zero reason. Take this past Sunday for me. I was coming off of a four-and-a-half day weekend, I’d gone to freaking Disneyland (it was magical) and I watched Mockingjay Pt. 2 that morning and was going to a Christmas parade that evening. It was an awesome Thanksgiving holiday. And for some unexplainable reason, I was in a terrible mood. It was so bad, I think I passed it on to my roommates and we were all grumpy.

I don’t know why I wanted to talk about this, but I’m just rolling with it at this point. I’ve kind of thrown all¬†conformity to a theme out the window and am just writing about whatever comes to mind. But I think it’s good to acknowledge that we all have bad days. I write a lot on here about treating others with kindness and loving yourself and putting good will and open minds out there into the world, but some days you just really need to kick something, hard.

I don’t know why we sometimes wake up on the wrong side of the bed. It just happens. Usually during¬†the most inexplicable time when you know full well you have absolutely no reason or right to be mad about anything. I hope you don’t take it out on those around you, but I know sometimes it happens, whether you want it to or not. And hopefully you apologize right away when that happens, but I know sometimes that doesn’t happen, either. ¬†And then you wake up the next day and it’s as though the sun decided to shine a few degrees brighter, and you somehow feel so much better, for no reason as well.

This will be a short post. We have feelings, and sometimes they are overwhelming and sometimes they suck. And sometimes they change unexpectedly or inexplicably. It happens. I guess this is always a nice reminder that the world will keep turning, and that time does change things.

-tlc

A Blog Post: Thanksgiving Edition!

November has been a whirlwind month. Crazy things have happened. It’s as if I had my summer vacation in the fall (September and October) and November is my August wake-up call back into the heavy school-year grind that was my life for 20 years or so. With everything that has happened, I’ve got a lot to reflect on, and a lot to be thankful for, so in the spirit of the holiday, I thought I’d share some of those thoughts with you.

  1. Finding my way in LA
    • I’m not going to say that I have LA figured out, nor am I going to say that I’ve successfully infiltrated the entertainment industry, because if there is only one thing I’ve learned in my year and a half of being out here, it’s that this town and this industry is one crazy roller coaster full of ups and downs and failures and small successes. I will say though that so far I have never felt like my time being out here has been a waste. I’ve learned so much about the human condition, relating to people, subcultures and pop culture and the fight for social equality and the American mindset vs. international POVs and these are all things that a little Dorothy like myself couldn’t have learned if I’d stayed back in Kansas.
  2. Being Employed
    • I normally don’t talk about my own personal views on politics or religion here because I want this place to feel as inclusive as possible, and I often find that once a person knows your stance on something, they peg you with 1,001 misconceptions and stereotypes that they hold against whatever that view point is, whether it is actually true to your own person or not. I’m sure I’m even guilty of doing it–it’s almost second nature for people to do this; we love placing people and things into categories. However, on this one thing I must say that I do believe in God, and–though I won’t say that I somehow magically am awarded jobs because of this (because that’s ridiculous)–I do wholeheartedly believe that my trust in something greater than myself has kept me sane and financially afloat. Whether you are religious or not, I do believe that life has a tendency to work itself out, if you are patient,¬†discerning, and don’t panic. I am very thankful for that.
  3. Midwest Roots
    • There are a lot of things I find wrong about the conservative mindset that you find all across the Midwest and into the South. But if there is something I’m very grateful for, it’s being raised surrounded by Midwesterners. Though the world is small in the heart of America, the heart of America is as big as the world. These people are the kindest, most generous, and most open that I have ever come across. Being raised with what I like to call, ‘Midwest Manners,’ is one of the greatest assets I have, and I’m very, very thankful for it.
  4. Friends
    • Okay, so everyone gives this almost expected answer at the Thanksgiving dinner table. Sometimes I roll my eyes because it’s so generic. But this year, after moving out to a huge city where I knew practically no one, I truly do have to say that I am so grateful for the friends that I have met and clung to. They have made living in LA durable and worth it. They have taught me the valuable lesson that it is always, always about the relationships you have in your life, not the material items or status or career. You could literally be living in the absolute most beautiful and perfect city ever, and if you had no friends there you would still be miserable. Life fact.
  5. Family
    • The other generic eye-roll answer, but I love them so much and am so grateful for my parents, siblings, and nephews. Everyone needs unconditional love in their life, and I have a lot of it. So very very thankful for that.
  6. You, Dear Reader
    • Last, but certainly not least, I am thankful for YOU! Though most of you probably also fall into one of the two bullets above, it means a lot to me that you take the time to read these posts every week. Though it may not always seem like it, I put a lot of thought and time into what I write and share with you, and I hope that you enjoy reading this blog as much as I enjoy making it.

Happy and most delightful belated Thanksgiving, y’all.

-tlc