Tag Archives: twenty-something

FYI – You can have your financial cake and eat it, too

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A few days ago, a response to this article on Elite Daily was posted on one of my favorite blogs, The Financial Diet. After reading both pieces, I have to admit I was a little fired up too.

If you don’t feel like reading either (I do recommend you read them as they are both thought provoking) I’ll sum it up for you here. The Elite Daily article presents the idea that saving money in your 20s is stupid, you should spend and enjoy all your money and focus on landing yourself a $60k pay raise instead. It goes on to say that by focusing on saving, you apparently are accepting defeat and robbing yourself of potential.

The Financial Diet article firmly stands against this advice, stating that it is idiotic to follow, and more importantly that it is horrible advice to seek in light of the issues we are facing in our 20s – the fact that many of us have just thrown in the towel when it comes to finances (due to high levels of student loan debt and a crap economy) and made false assumptions that it’s okay to live it up now and just figure it out later.

What aggravates me the most about the Elite Daily article is that it presents life and finances in such a black and white manner. You can be wild and crazy and spend all your money having a supposed “fantastic” life, or you can be a non-career driven loser who saves all their money and never has fun. What? It’s unfair to take such a complex subject (finance) and present it in such an extreme manner.

If there’s one thing I have learned by starting to clean up my financial act, it’s that successful money management is all about BALANCE. It’s not about having one or the other, it’s about having both. Enjoying your life in the moment, while glancing towards the future every once in awhile to let your future self know you’ve got her back.

Listen – I am all for living it up in your 20s. I did it and it was a fun and wild time of my life, but in the past few years I’ve wisened up to the fact that there are things I want in life in addition to new clothes and nights out. There are certainly places in my life for those things, but my bigger goals are becoming equally, if not more, important as I get older. Among these: the freedom to pursue work that truly makes my heart sing, without having to worry primarily about money as a deciding factor, marriage, eventual retirement, more travel. All require – you guessed it – MONEY and in order to have money you have to both make it and save it to meet your goals.

Before I continue, I do have to say that there are a few points the article makes that I agree with. Making more money for more example. I admit to being afraid to ask for more, even when I know I’m worth it, or uncertain about setting up more income streams for myself even though deep down I know I could succeed. I’ve given away things for free without second thought. I’ve never negotiated pay. I’ve definitely undercut myself more than once.

I’m also fully on board with taking some risks while you’re young. At 23, I quit my job and moved 1,000 miles to live with my long distance boyfriend after 1 year together. I didn’t have a job lined up and had very very little money. But it worked, and 4 years later I’m still here and happier than even with my decision. I’ve also switched up my career multiple times and never looked back.

Your 20s are certainly a great time to make big changes and try new things. I wholeheartedly agree with not holding yourself back when it comes to making decisions that can potentially improve your life drastically. However, making more money and taking risks as your sole strategy fails to account for the numerous times in life in which it is necessary and wise to cut back, proceed with caution and save a bit. As with everything in life, balance is required in order to be successful.

In a way, I think our 20s are a lot like the earliest years of our lives. We’re born, and we get to have fun and generally worry about nothing while someone else takes care of us. But as we get older, we learn and grow, and eventually it’s time for us to stand on our own two feet. We learn to walk, we fall down, we get up again and try until we’ve got it right. And, eventually, we have to make a choice after high school pertaining to our general life direction. The choice we make after high school doesn’t necessarily have to be the only path we follow, but we care enough about our futures and understand that it’s important to at least give ourselves some sort of rough plan to follow.

Your 20s are a lot like this, just more grown up (read: confusing, frustrating, exciting) and completed in a shorter timespan. If you’re anything like me, your early 20s were spent bar hopping, meeting new people, living paycheck to paycheck, worrying about rent and bills, spending money like its hot, having credit card debt but not really understanding the full implications, and generally not wasting any time thinking about anything past the next few months. But give it five years or so (at least that’s how it happened for me) and it’s time to figure out what you actually want to do with your life, get your financial shit together, and start thinking about your future. Nobody said you can’t have fun and stay out til 2am drinking, or blow your tax return on a tropical vacation you’ll remember forever. But you’re also foolish if you can’t be bothered to look out for your future self at least a little bit.

Your 20s are a time to have fun and enjoy youth, travel and explore, but they’re also a time to start taking care of yourself. Look out for the future you just a little bit – she’ll be grateful for it. You don’t have to choose between being the fun crazy twenty something carefree girl or the smart saver with no social life or career goals – instead, you can choose to be the girl in between who knows the importance of both sides and chooses to plant her feet firmly in the middle.

Which girl would you rather be?

Take it from a twenty-something: You’re allowed to take a time out

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Regardless of my job or stress levels or personal workload, one thing I’ve always prioritized is my time away. As much as I enjoy working hard at things I love, I equally enjoy the restorative feeling of going to a new place, getting out of my comfort zone and forgetting about the things that worry me – even if only for a day or two. This thinking got me on a flight to Belize with 6 amazing women in my family, and it also got me to Siesta Key with my mom and boyfriend, John, for a few days over a holiday weekend.

Sitting on the beach at Siesta Key, sunset over the water and drink at hand, my worries were a world away. It reminded me of the importance of taking mini time-outs (for me, that means from work) to simply be.

Sometimes, I feel like I’m trying to hustle my way through my twenties simply because they feel uncertain and uncomfortable. I don’t like the feeling of not knowing where I’m going or if I’m doing the right thing. But taking the time away from all of that always reminds me that it is ok to just CHILL OUT and enjoy life for a minute.

Taking a time-out forces you to snap back into the here and now. It makes you realize that yes, while it is important to worry a little bit and push yourself, the world won’t stop turning if you want to press pause for a minute. Guess what? You’re allowed to say “I’ll be right back,” head to the nearest beach, grab a cocktail and forget the worry and comparison and oh-my-god-what-am-I-supposed-to-do-with-my-life feelings.

In fact, my experience tells me that taking a time-out is often the first step to working out those feelings anyway. When you give yourself permission to relax and loosen the reins, the answers often appear on their own. You can probably think of a million excuses not to take that breather (there’s too much to do, work is too busy right now, I’ll think about this crap later) but sooner or later it always catches up with you.

As cliche as it sounds, you really are only this young once and it’s up to you to make the most of it and make a commitment to spending time with yourself, figuring out what you like and learning about what truly makes you happy. If you need to take a break and travel the world to find that, or simply spend a weekend at home thinking and writing, it’s up to you to make that time and grant yourself permission to take it.

At 26, I know how it feels to think about where my life is headed far more than where it’s been (or is) and concentrate maybe a bit too hard about hustling my way through life when it comes to my finances, job and relationships. But sometimes slowing down and taking a break from it all is the best way to enjoy this very short decade of our lives. If you feel you need a time-out from it all for a day, a month, a year or more – take it – you’re allowed.

If you take one thing away from this – remember that nobody is keeping score. We are all in this together. Even if it seems like everyone’s life is perfect and running according to schedule, don’t forget we’re all also master editors of our own lives when it comes to what we show everyone else. Getting through your twenties is not a race and if you treat it like one, you’ll always feel behind no matter what level of happiness and greatness you achieve. So slow down, chill the heck out, and enjoy it.

Dorothy, we’re not in college anymore

roadtripIt was 2 1/2 years ago that my college years ended and my adult life began. I had to bid farewell to spring break (and fall break, and winter break, and summer break too), say goodbye to the local bar around the corner where I’d vent to friends about how stressful class was over cheap beer and cranberry vodka cocktails, and say hello to the thing I so very dreaded: figuring out how to grow up and be an adult. In those first few months after graduation when the bliss of realizing I never had to do any homework again in my life faded out and the reality of adulthood started creeping in, I couldn’t help but wish I was back in school slaving over the same essays and projects I’d just been complaining about months before. It’s days like today where I remember those feelings of uncertainty and fear (mixed with a bit of excitement) and wish I could go have a conversation with my 18 year old college graduate self to tell her to suck it up because there are a lot of awesome things in her future.

2 1/2 years ago, I never would have been able to foresee where I am now. I may not be working my dream career, but I’m working to get there, and along the way I’ve developed countless skills and even got a promotion to my first full time salaried position at work (yay!) I’ve already lived in 3 states yet it is in Florida with John that I finally feel I’ve found “home” (mom, if you’re reading, you know Columbus will always be my #1 home). Even better, I’ve finally found the courage to give my photography business a try and I’ve surprised myself with all of the confidence I’ve gained in myself as a result.

As I reflect on all of my major life accomplishments in the past 2 1/2 years alone, I realize how much time I wasted being upset and anxious about the future. And I think that’s one of our biggest struggles as twenty-somethings: somewhere along the way we get so caught up in the transition to adulthood that we forget what our twenties are for. They’re a time for growth, learning and personal development, yet we put tremendous pressure on ourselves to have things all figured out as soon as we get out of college. Instead of taking life day by day and celebrating the small stuff we accomplish along the way, we fixate on the future and get frustrated because we aren’t there yet.

So, I’m making a vow to myself to celebrate the small stuff from now on. As far as I’m concerned, baking a batch of cupcakes without burning them is just as much of a cause for celebration as that great promotion at work.

I want to hear your thoughts:
Have you ever found yourself frustrated or feeling like you aren’t where you want to be in life?
How do you deal with it and remind yourself to appreciate the small stuff?
What was your own transition from college grad to adult like?
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Image found here.

Life through my Lens #2

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The past few weeks have totally flown by, and I can’t believe it’s almost March already. I’ve had plenty of things to keep me busy, from seeing my favorite band Muse live in concert in Tampa, to having a romantic candlelit Valentine’s Day dinner at home. All of the moments captured in the pictures above are great reminders of how beautiful and wonderful life can be. Sometimes all it takes to put a smile on my face is some beautiful sunlight or a kiss on the cheek from the man I love so much. I’m learning to pick up on these things and appreciate them much more, especially when I’m having a rough day. I’m hoping that I can look back on these posts someday and remember all of the great things that were going on in my life at that time, both big and small.

What’s been going on in your corner of the world?
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Cottage Cheese Pancakes

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Yep – you heard that right – cottage cheese pancakes. And although I normally consider myself much more a waffle girl than a pancake girl, this recipe might be giving my beloved waffles a run for their money. John is a very healthy eater, so I’m always on the lookout for new recipes that are healthy and flavorful. Imagine my delight when I stumbled across this recipe on Pinterest (get the directions at The Fountain Avenue Kitchen) for low carb, high protein pancakes! The end result is moist, light, fluffy goodness that pairs great with some maple syrup. Looks like we’ll all be able to have our (pan)cakes and eat them, too!

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Ingredients (I halved the recipe, double this if you need to!)

  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup low fat cottage cheese
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • Optional: 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (I highly recommend this!)

Recipe instructions found here.
*Note: I used a blender to combine everything. Start by blending cream cheese until smooth, then add all the other ingredients and blend to combine. Add additional flour if needed to thicken the batter.

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John and I both agreed that we’ll be making these pancakes again very soon. With the added cinnamon they almost taste like french toast, which might be why I love them so much. Next time I’d love to top them with strawberries (ok, and some powdered sugar). Also, I tried out Courtney’s tip of using Crisco to grease the pan and it worked great. I definitely recommend giving it a try if you love the outside of your pancakes a little crisper.

What’s your favorite healthy breakfast dish?
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