Thursday, April 30, 2009

Balancing Acts.

Here are the balls I'm juggling...

*2 jobs = between 55-75 hours per week total.
*2 charities that I volunteer for - both in event related positions
*Searching for a condo
*Maintaining my current house (w/a roommate)
*Book Club (one must be cultured, right?)
*Social networking - let's be honest between 2 blogs, facebook, myspace, & now twitter this totally counts as a ball I juggle daily.
*Working out
*Church - including Sunday mornings, bible study on Wednesday night, and a creative team for the Middle School Group I just agreed to be a contributor for.

Ok that will do for now though you can assume that like you I maintain a household including keeping up with bills, bank accounts, cleaning, shopping, cooking, groceries, bday cards, etc. all the normal day-to-day things that I'm going to give items on the list but we all face. I think they should be counted at least mentally.

So as we all juggle our own balls, or priorities, we have to stop occasionally to evaluate how we are doing at these things. Am I maintaining my house at the level I need too? Am I putting the right amount of time and effort into my family? My friends? Is my work suffering in the name of my other interests and commitments by my level of energy and mental capacity I'm left with when I get there? And so on.

This is a process I learned to live by growing up with my Dad. As a Coach he is always evaluating and re-evaluating systems for achieving goals. He taught me to face life in much the same way. I was challenging myself over the last week to consider this.

As I spent time pouring over my calender for the rest of 2009 (no lie, I really did look at all of it) I had to ask myself if I was spending my time in a way that lines up with the priorities I have set. To use another famous Clyde-ism I am now doing some tweaking which includes:

- Booking a flight & a long weekend to see both my sister & brother-in-law as well as my wonderful, loyal guy friends the Johnson's (Travis, Phillip, and Bennett ...and family!). The boys have made 2 trips to see me since I moved to Florida a year ago, it's my turn to show them some love in their home state of North Carolina. Rachel (my sister) and I were the best of friends all growing up but have done a less than exemplary job of keeping up with each others lives these last few years.
-I up'd my phone time this week - using my time in the car to it's full potential and checking up on my friends for no specific reasons, without an agenda. Just asking them how life is going.
- I left my phone in the car every day at the gym this week and read my book. Knowledge is power friends - use your time wisely.
- I thought about my relationships and friendship the way I think about my closet when I clean it out. And I took the necessary steps towards some revamping. If you think that sounds harsh - do some soul searching. Better to be honest.
- I made the decision to use my PTO wisely - planning a trip to see my parents & baby sis, a trip to see my older sis and family friends, and to work a charity event in Indy for APD.

Next up...facing the facts as I consider whether my finances are reflecting the priorities I claim. I'm getting real, first with myself and then you with dear readers. Buckle up & join me.


Sunday, April 26, 2009

But when?

My sister got married nearly 2 years ago now and as a result I find myself answering the question, "so, when are you getting married?" more and more often.  Let's talk "when", shall we?  Statistically, women are choosing to get married later and later as it becomes both more acceptable and expected for women to pursue careers.  Stay-at-home-moms are fewer and farther between and 30 is the new 20 when it comes to starting a family.

So, I've considered where I stand in this picture.  My gut feeling is I will be slow (and maybe late) to settle down.  I do want to be married someday, though kids are still a toss up in my mind at this point.  I LOVE kids but I could love being Aunt Becca to my darling sisters' kids someday (they don't have any yet) and be content.  I'm not closed off to the idea of having some youngsters of my own someday, just leaving my options open.

What I know for sure is that I have a mental list of that which I hope to accomplish before I tie the knot.  Buying my first home is the one I am tackling currently.  The search has more than begun, it's about 60% done I'd say.  I want to travel.  I want to explore my gifts and interests. I want to give of my time and talents to people, to charity, to making the world a better place.

If you're thinking I sound a little saintly, don't.  I just wish to live a life of my own and then I wish to rediscover the beauty in life all over again with my soulmate.

If you're a 20-something and people keep asking you when you're going to get married - I suggest you think for yourself - when DO you want to get married?  Or is the answer never?  It sure makes it easier to answer that question when it arises.  Know where you stand on important issues and know how to voice your feelings - this will get you far in life and perhaps in love.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Endless Possibilities

This is to encourage all 20-somethings to go for it, whatever "it" may be....

Graduation is supposed to be the time when you feel like your "life" is starting. You know the job you want to have and if you're lucky, you get it. What no one tells you is that you will change your mind. People tell us that you might not stay on the path on which you foresee yourself, but they fail to tell you that it's inevitable to change course, no matter how many plans you make. You can do all the planning you'll ever need to do and STILL end up in an entirely different place from where you thought you'd be. This seems like common sense, doesn't it?

You think it's common sense until it comes at you full-speed and smacks you in the forehead.

This post will be short and sweet and simply words of encouragement. If you feel like you're drawn to something entirely different from what you're doing right now, explore that. Even if it seems crazy. Even if everyone around you tells you it's insanity, that you'll never be able to do it, that'll it could be the hardest thing you'll ever do. If there's enough drive, you'll pursue the new direction because there's a yearning to find out where it will take you. As 20-somethings, let's take a vow to make like NIKE and just do it. Someone very wise once told me that fear and nervousness are the things that move us. She's a fellow 20-something, and she's right. If it's outside the proverbial box, take a chance and leap out of your comfort zone. It's pretty exciting anticipating where you'll land.


Friday, April 17, 2009

Love: small word, big feeling

Not even 3 years ago, I thought I'd be happily married. Now I'm here and the fella that once was is no more. (This is actually for the better, so no worries). I thought I'd be one of the many young ladies around me getting engaged, having the bridal shower, doing the bachelorette party, then walking down the aisle to my happily-ever-after.

Now I don't know what the hell I want.

I've been trying this whole "dating" thing. And it's fun for the most part. I've met some cool guys who are good-looking and treat me nicely, but that "thing" is missing. You know, the magical feeling you get whenever you even think about that person. I enjoy my time with these people and I always want to hang out with them again, but it still feels like something is missing. I'm not the romantic-type, either. I gag whenever I hear about couples in love. I've been trying to do that less and less for fear that I'm closing myself off...and maybe I am.

Maybe jaded feelings really can stay with you, even when you're 'over' a serious relationship. That "thing" was definitely present in the relationship I thought I'd end up in. And those feelings haven't returned for anyone else. Is it because they're really not there? Or could it be that I'm choosing to ignore those feelings for fear of what happened the last time?

I'd like to think it's a combination of both, but honestly I think it's because I'm trying so hard to not allow myself to feel those fuzzy feelings again. I feel like I'm too busy and important to be burdened by falling in love, even if it were staring me in the face. And by ignoring my feelings toward someone, I could be pushing away the chance of a lifetime. I was so afraid to take a step forward into dating when a great friend told me, "yes, it's scary. But you just might end up being happy."

When put that way, I think we can all allow ourselves to be happy. That doesn't mean you have to be in a relationship to be happy, of course. But if being in a healthy, loving relationship brings us happiness, then why would we even consider walking away just to be a little bit selfish? Instead of thinking twice before making a decision, maybe I should see how I feel in my heart first. More than likely, the answer will be pretty obvious. Maybe even Love.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Say 'uncle'....

While in your 20-somethings it sometimes seems to be impossibly hard to know what you should be able to do and what you will need help with. We want to learn it all and prove to ourselves, our families, our friends, maybe even our significant others that we can tackle all the tasks life throws our way. Along with taking on many new tasks it's important to know when to say 'uncle' and get some help.

For me this became clear when trying to file a partial year residency state tax form for Indiana. I moved in May so I worked Jan-May in Indiana before making Florida my new home. This caused a series of issues when it came to my taxes as there is state tax in IN but none in FL, etc. After making 3 somewhat unsuccessful attempts myself (I didn't submit them because I knew they were wrong) I decided to say 'uncle'.

While in Carmel visiting my parents I decided to seek professional help and I made myself an appointment with H&R block. I have HAD to learn a great many things in the last year but this didn't really seem as though it needed to be one. Here's what I learned from the experience...

There is a reason that people go to school for finances. There are a great many things they need to know that the average person does not. Similar to social work (my profession) there are many faucets that people do not even know they don't know about. Ha! This was crystal clear to me as he continued to say, "Did you claim this?" and I continued to have no idea it was claimable or even a "this" (for example apparently Purdue was considered in the Midwest disaster area for 2008 and so I get more money back).

Also, I realized it was worthwhile to pay someone a little over $150 bucks because after letting him do my state taxes and file an amended federal tax he got me $400 more than I had gotten myself which more than paid for him (and helped supply a job), put more money in my pocket, and kept the IRS from keeping more of my money (I feel they already get their fair share).

I said 'uncle' and I'm proud of it...and a little richer for the experience.


Friday, April 10, 2009


You know the ladies who contribute to this blog fall into the "20-something" category. We are on our way to great things. We have the whole world at our fingertips. We are working together to help ourselves financially. And now, one of us needs to start taking care of herself physically. 246 is my cholesterol number.

Normal cholesterol falls under 200, so mine is on the verge of being out of control. My triglycerides are also amazingly high, 80 points higher than normal. I like eating healthy. I like working out. Yet, I haven't done either. Because I'm young and invincible...right?

Wrong. When I got these tests back, I was dumbfounded. I didn't think it would be great; in fact I figured there may be some things that I could work on just like anyone else. What I didn't expect was getting a letter with "ABNORMAL - SEE DOCTOR" in bright red ink. No one hopes for that. But, it happened. So now what?

It's time to get real. I eat out more than I think I do. I order the fun and fried. I order the fruity, sugary, alcoholic bevs. What does this equal? A liver that is too tired to do anything else with the extra calories, so it turns them into goo for my arteries.

The moral of the story is that no one is immune to early signs of heart disease. If this 20-something has the potential to be on Lipitor, anyone can. I'm taking the steps to be smart with my money, so why shouldn't I be taking the steps to make sure I can live long enough to enjoy the wealth I acquire?

Over the next few months, I'll be limiting all fried, sugared, and alcoholic fun. Wait, not fun: bad habits. I'll also be working out daily because 1. I actually enjoy it, and 2. it's something that could save my life. I'll be posting updates periodically about my progress (with some more fun things in between, of course). In the meantime, please think about what you're doing to your own body.


Monday, April 6, 2009


I'm giving both myself and you dear reader permission to cut yourself some slack today. As a 20-something it's easy to set out to conquer the world and forget that Rome wasn't built in a day. It takes time, patience, hard work, and yes even a few mistakes to get ahead in life. So here's your get-out-of-jail-free card of the week. I'm telling you, it's ok to cut yourself some slack.

This entry is inspired by my own self-hatred at tapping into my savings this Monday morning. Now, before I get out of control with my slack cutting let me explain. I recently made a plan (with the help of my much more financially advanced Dad's help) to pay off my car in 3 months. That would put me at paying the last penny of my car (and warranty) off at my 2 years mark of owning it. Something I think is fairly rare for a 23 year old fresh out of school. So, in order to do this I made a promise not to use my savings to pay off the car BUT that if I needed to tap into it here and there to make ends meet, I would do so...knowing that once my car is paid off it will be far easier to replenish the funds and move forward into better financial security.

In the words of my wise friend Meredith, "It's better to have no debt and less savings, right?". Indeed. That was my goal, and I'm meeting it. One month left to go and I will be debt free and still have a savings account that I think it worth being proud of.

So why the self-hatred you might ask? Well, while I made it 2 months farther into this process than I thought I could without using some of that savings - I got so use to working enough extra that I wasn't using that resource that when I realized this week I'd stretched as far as I could, I felt disappointed in myself. But the truth is, I'm doing great. In 11 months I have completely changed the way I handle finances and I have given myself a great jump start in the right direction.

But as is typical of me I get ahead of myself. I dream big and I want to succeed in so many ways - that often I forget that there are steps that must be taken to get there. When I whine about this to my Dad he reminds me, "Bekes, I've been working for 40 years to get to where I're not going to make it here in a year". How right he is...

So if your frustrated that you can't solved the world's (or your own) problems in a day, week, or even year...than take a deep breath and celebrate how far you HAVE gotten and the steps your taking to get to where you want to be. The 20's can be frustrating as it's sometimes slow moving to get ahead. So in the name of practicing what I preach here's my celebrations...

In the last 11 months I HAVE...
- made my first savings account of note
- lived on a budget
- provided for myself
- tackled debt
- made financial goals
- filed my own taxes
- learned about the types of credit, morgages, savings accounts, and investments
- And soaked up 3 books about finances to help me in my journe
- Kept all my credit cards paid off but used them to build credit and rewards
- Learned about Fico scores (and learned that mine is excellent)

So cheers friends, to being 20-something and learning as we go!