Dirty Debt Secrets, Part 2- Conquering Debt

In Part 1 of Dirty Debt Secrets I shared my personal story of how I got in over my head with credit card debt. It’s never something we consciously set out to do, but without proper monitoring and having a budget in place it can easily get out of hand. Before we know it we’re drowning our sorrows in a bottle of wine on the couch wondering how we could have been so careless. I am very much still in the process of my debt payoff, but have noticed what key things helped me make some major progress. So put the bottle of wine down and log into your account because it’s time to tackle that outstanding balance! Yea it sucks, but you know what’s worse? Not doing anything about it.

How I’ve Been Conquering My Debt Payoff

Read this book, no seriously read it.

If you’re facing debt issues, both big and small, then Dave Ramsey’s “The Total Money Makeover” is a must-read for you. In this book he offers no-nonsense advice and strategies for how to manage and pay down your debt. Best of all, it’s packed full of success stories from people in WAY worse situations than you, so you can feel a little bit better about yourself along the way. One of my favorite strategies of his is the Snowball Method, which is especially effective when your debt is coming from a few different places and not just one source. Instead of tackling all outstanding debt sources equally, or focusing on the one with the highest interest rate first, Dave recommends putting your most efforts into the smallest amount of debt first. Pay that off, then move onto the next smallest, adding the amount of $ you were paying on first one now to the next source of debt. By starting with the lowest amount of debt first and working your way up it allows you to have mini wins along the way. Obviously keep paying ALL of your debt bills each month, but really focus in and pay in as MUCH as you can to that one with the smallest balance. I used this method since my non-student loan debt was located in a few different places and it really helped me to stay motivated. Nothing feels better than seeing that $0 outstanding balance, it only hypes you up to put as much as you can toward the next source so you can get that next win. Since starting the Snowball Method I completely paid off two different sources of debt, and I’m telling you, it’s addictive. I am now down to my one last area of non-student loan debt, and in the last 6 months have paid off 70% of it. It is actually exciting now to drop a few hundred $$ after a paycheck onto my credit card and see that balance jump down more and more.

Start Saying No and Decrease Your Social Spending

Remember in Part 1 when I mentioned how no one likes to be the cheap friend, the one who has to say no? Well it’s time for you to embrace your frugalness and the word no! If you want to make REAL progress in paying off your debt then you won’t be able to do all the things your friends do, wear the latest fashion trends, or drive a nice new car-  and you need to start being comfortable with that. Each time you stay in instead of going out, just order 1 drink instead of 4, or turn down an invite to a concert, that’s more money in your pocket to put towards getting rid of that debt. If your friends are true friends they will fully understand and support you. If they don’t understand and still pressure you then they suck. Kidding, but not really kidding. When I was still living in Atlanta one of my close friends and I loved just chilling on the couch on a Saturday night with a bottle of wine together. WAY cheaper than going out, we didn’t have to spend money on uber, and we got to be in our PJs.

Pretty much any night where you can get drunk with good company in your PJs and barely spend money is a fantastic night as you get older.

Decreasing my social spending also became a lot easier when I came back from Europe and was no longer living in the city. I was living with Stephen, about 35 min outside of Atlanta, and our days were usually made up of work, cooking at home and just spending time together. I would still get into town, see friends and have a social life- but it was less frequent and a hell of a lot easier to spend less when I wasn’t living so close to all the fun. I could no longer just uber from home for a night out, which meant I had to drive, which also meant I had to limit the amount of drinks I ordered. All of those factors together made saving money on social spending a much more doable task for me.

Reevaluate Your Rent Choices

A huge influence on the success of my debt payoff came from giving up my apartment and no longer living on my own. Rent and all the bills that came with it were my biggest monthly expense followed by my student loan payments. Rent is usually most people’s biggest monthly payment, and if there is anything you can do to decrease it then definitely consider it. I had already gotten rid of all my furniture and 70% of my ‘stuff’ before traveling overseas, so when I returned it made staying with Stephen an easy transition for both of us. Stephen teases me now because when we first started dating I said I was NOT going to live with a boyfriend, it’s even more funny now that I live across the world with him. But in the long run it made sense to break one of my ‘rules’ in exchange for a long term financial advantage. I am not saying everyone should go move in together, seriously don’t even consider it if you can’t see this person as a lifelong partner, but sharing the burden of living expenses can help a lot so you can put more money towards debt. Another option is living with a family member, even if it’s just for 6 months or a year, so you can make those bigger payments. After Stephen moved back to Australia I lived with my mom for a few months until my move so I was able to continue with the higher debt payments. I couldn’t believe I was living with my mom again at almost 30 years old, even if it was only temporary. But sometimes you need to swallow your pride and get creative with options for cutting large costs. The year I spent not having my own place saved me over $12,000 which I was able to use elsewhere. Not too shabby. If these are not doable options for you then look at how to still decrease your living expenses- ditch the cable and just rock the Netflix, move a little bit out of town or get a smaller place where rent is cheaper, get a roommate instead of living by yourself. There are always ways to cut costs, you just have to be a little creative and get outside your comfort zone. It’ll be worth it in the long run.

 

Having an understanding and super supportive partner.

I could not have asked for a better support system than my boyfriend Stephen. I remember before I opened up about my debt situation with him, I felt like it was this major baggage I was embarrassed to ever mention. Have you seen the episode of ‘How I Met Your Mother’ where Lily doesn’t want to tell Marshall about all the CC debt she’s been hiding? Yep, that’s how I felt. I thought exposing this secret about myself would be a total turn off. I’m sure no one WANTS to date someone in debt (especially credit card debt), it’s way easier to be with someone with no money baggage. We talked about it a little, but later into our relationship we started to have open discussions about it- exactly how much it was and what to do about it. His influence, money outlook and support has been the #1 thing that’s helped me come this far. Stephen is the perfect example of someone living within their means. Like me, he didn’t have someone to pay for his education or support him during those young adult years, but the way he handles money is something I aspire to be like. I mean for crying out loud we’re talking about a guy who lived off of $1,200 total for 3 months while traveling around France and Spain surfing, living in his car. He doesn’t believe in spending money he doesn’t have, to the point where it’s slightly annoying sometimes. He does have credit cards now, but it is solely for gaining points to use for flight purchases and he only charges to the card if he has the money waiting in his checking/savings account. Definitely the way a credit card should be handled.

On a recent trip to Melbourne Stephen and I were talking about future vacations (I know right, talking about the next vacation while on vacation). He is also a travel addict and maintains a separate savings account just for traveling, because you know, he’s responsible and stuff. He said I should look at my budget and think about how much I could actually afford to set aside each month for future trips, no matter how small, so we could figure out finances together. I told him it really doesn’t make sense for me to put anything aside for traveling, at all, until my credit card debt was GONE. If in the next few months he wanted to go somewhere, he would just have to go alone. For me to say that was a huge step forward. He was really proud of me, and together we worked out a way for me to be 100% CC debt free by the end of 2017. The plan includes me completely cutting out ALL unnecessary spending- no shopping for the house, no buying clothes, getting my nails done, eating out, nothing until the debt was gone. All of my income right now is going toward regular bills (phone, student loans, health insurance, etc), setting aside just a tiny bit for necessities like gas, and then everything else goes towards the credit card. Seem pretty hardcore? Kind of, but the way I am looking at it is it’s short term pain for an amazing long term gain. Stephen is completely holding me accountable for this commitment, and having someone who knows my situation and who supports me without judging has been key for keeping me on track.

 

Get a Debt Gym Buddy

You know how they tell you having a gym buddy will make you go to the gym more often than if you were attempting to go all on your own? You have someone checking in, asking you to join them and holding you accountable. Make someone in your life your debt gym buddy. For me that person is Stephen for sure. Your partner is the perfect person to be your debt gym buddy since they are already such a big part of your life. If you haven’t already, open up to them about your situation and ask them to be there to cheer you on and support you when you’re feeling like giving up. If you’re living the single life consider confiding in a close friend or family member- let them know what you’re dealing with and that you want their support with making it happen. I also confided in a few close friends of mine when I decided to get really serious about my debt and it felt really good to be transparent. If you and your partner are both in similar debt situations, then you already have your debt gym buddy! Just make sure you are both staying accountable instead of going back down the rabbit hole together.

 

Get a Side Hustle

Side hustles have become a growing trend these days. So many people have them and it’s a fantastic way to earn extra cash when your salary is limited by one employer. All those years I was working full-time for one company I almost always had some sort of side hustle to increase my overall income. Over the years I’ve had side jobs for graphic design, social media, marketing-  I even went back to waiting tables at some point for a couple nights a week. It can get exhausting, commuting, working an 8 hour day, and then having to work more at night or on the weekends… but it’s worth it in the end. You can choose to either use that side income only for debt payoff, or use the extra money for your regular spending so you can put almost all your main income toward debt. I’ve kind of flip flopped over the years how I’ve structured it, usually in the past the extra income was used for traveling or something I didn’t actually need. My first international trip to Costa Rica with Under30Experiences was paid for by side projects. Since I left the 9-5 and started working for myself the side hustles and main income kind of all got mixed into one- my business. But I still have my main regular clients which support all of my living expenses, student loan payments and credit card payments. But now the little, not-so-regular projects are all going straight toward, you guessed it, the credit card!

 

Hitting $0 and Moving Forward

This coming New Years will be a milestone for me because it will be the first time in many years I’ll be starting a year with no credit card debt. That goal alone is what makes shutting down any little spending thoughts that creep into my head so much easier. I am dying to decorate my new home office, to get a few more lamps and pieces for the house, and OMG my nails look like sh!t and need a professional makeover. But it’s these small choices to say no and put my money elsewhere that is making it possible for me to be done with the CC debt at the end of this year. Once that balance hits zero and my next paycheck comes in you better believe I’ll be at the nail salon and buying some damn throw pillows. But after this year my debt journey is still not over unfortunately. Next up is the student loan debt, which I will tackle full force. Okay, so I probably won’t be quite as hardcore about cutting spending as I’ve been lately, but my goal is to double my monthly payments to speed things up. And when that day comes when I am completely, 100% debt free, O what an indescribable feeling it will be.

Shutting Out the Noise and Trusting Your Gut

Anytime you make a big life decision you are bound to encounter the “gray area”. Not all decisions are black and white, and usually you will have to take the leap in one direction knowing there are pros and cons to both sides. You wonder if you’re making the right choice- what if it doesn’t turn out how you thought? What will others think? Will you have regrets? There is constantly so much noise happening inside our heads about decisions we make and which way we should take our lives. How do you turn down the noise and know what’s ultimately right for you? I dealt with this noise a lot when making the decision to move with my boyfriend across the world to Australia. I am so happy to say I am past the confusion and into the “all-in, never looking back, don’t give a damn what you think phase”. I must say, it’s the best place to be. So what was my noise all about with this decision? Where do I start…

NOISE #1- Where is this relationship going?

Stephen and I had to start having more discussions about how we saw our future, our expectations, timelines and what we want for ourselves. It is so important to know what you want for YOU before completely compromising everything for someone else. We both come from divorced families so a happy ending is a goal we take very seriously (not THAT kind of happy ending you perv). I already knew our relationship was wonderful and he makes me smile and laugh on a daily basis, but we couldn’t be naive to deeper topics. I won’t go into every little personal detail, but before I was able to consider this move we had to check our boxes and know our foundation and goals were solid.

NOISE #2- Wow that’s like, really far away and a really long flight.

This was pretty much the reaction from 75% of people when I began talking about moving. I understand it’s a normal and valid reaction! But oftentimes people react to the idea of something by thinking about themselves first- not you. They start to think “how would I feel doing that, would I ever choose to do such a thing”. I had to remind myself that we are all different- we have different interests, goals, priorities, and ultimately a different idea of what life should be. Don’t get stuck on the opinions of others without remembering that what works or doesn’t work for them won’t be the same for you, and that’s okay. Many of my friends or family members would never consider moving so far- but that doesn’t mean I can’t.

Other people’s opinions are not your own. The worst thing you could do is to make an important life decision based on the consensus of those around you, only to look back later and never have followed your heart.

For me, this whole distance thing is all about perspective. Okay I know it is a long flight from Atlanta to Australia – so I’ll figure out a flying routine to make it easier and deal with it on that one day instead of making that small fact my focus. Also those flights can be pretty pricey too. Well that’s just more motivation to keep building my business and increasing my revenue. **cough** business expense to come see clients **cough **. Thank you tax write offs! Stephen has always told me “you can be anywhere in the world within a day”, and he’s right. Why would I let one day stop me from experiencing the other side of the world and being with someone who has become such an important part of my life? I asked Stephen recently if he was nervous- it could get complicated in the future with our families being on opposite sides of the world. He said it’s not scary- it’s exciting! It’s all about perspective and that is just one of the things I love about him. It’s so refreshing to be with someone with an open mind to possibilities without limits.

NOISE #3- You’re moving that far without a ring on your finger?

Wouldn’t it just be such a lovely little story to share on facebook- we get engaged and then run off to Australia together. Well life is not about fairy tale endings or a facebook reveal (even though they’re fun sometimes). This topic was one where I felt the most pressure from others, and one I had to really sift through the noise to find out how I really felt. I felt that I SHOULD be saying I couldn’t make that big of a move without that commitment and it would look bad if I didn’t. Stephen and I had very open talks about this and neither of us believe in taking that leap just because of a situation if we weren’t ready. He felt it was really important I go and experience what I would be committing to first… I just felt confused.

For a while I couldn’t quiet the noise in my head. I knew how a lot of people would react, and I knew I would have to defend my reasoning if I chose to go. Then I realized- why should I ever have to defend this serious of a decision to anyone? Marriage is a huge decision- its bigger than Australia, its bigger than the judgement from others. I also started to realize a lot of the people who did really feel I should be engaged first haven’t first-hand experienced divorce in their life. I would never wish that on anyone, and especially wouldn’t want that for my future (WAY future) children. When you’ve dealt with divorce it can leave you extra cautious and slightly jaded. Friends of mine who have experienced divorce first-hand were all on board with me making sure this is what I really want for myself first. Once I let go of that external pressure and noise from others a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.

Go for it. Make moves and take risks. You have to at least try.

I think I knew immediately deep down I would end up moving with Stephen when he told me he had to move back, but I still remember the moment I officially let myself say YES, I am 100% in. Most days Stephen and I chat on the phone on our way home from work. That particular day while we were talking I remember saying “I have to at least try, how could I not even try?”. From that moment on the noise was gone and I was all in. This reaction can apply to so many decisions in our lives. Earning a degree, finding a more fulfilling job, going for that promotion, starting to date again, telling someone how you feel, traveling more, turning your dreams into reality… you have to at least try.

You know how the saying goes- with great risk comes great reward. My great reward just happens to come with kangaroos and a sexy surfer.

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What Living in a Van Taught Me About My Relationship

This month my boyfriend and I flew across the country to San Francisco, rented a camper van and set out to explore the area for 10 days from Santa Cruz, Monterrey, Big Sur and Yosemite National Park. By camper van I don’t mean a camper. I mean a van… that you live in. It’s funny how friends of mine had such different reactions to the idea. Some were like “OMG I could never!”, the concept of the van or even camping for that long was incomprehensible. Other friends reacted completely opposite and thought it was such a fun, economical and cool idea. I’m glad I happen to be in the group whose up for an adventure. I grew up taking camping trips across the country with my family in our pop up camper, so when Stephen threw the idea out there I was in.

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Now let’s get into the relationship part. Traveling is a great way to learn a lot about the person you’re dating- you’re both in an unfamiliar place and at some point are bound to be faced with unexpected situations. This brings out the good, the bad and all the in between sides of your partner, and I find it actually to be very helpful in seeing if the relationship is a strong one. What better way to test your relationship than living in a van, just the two of you, for 10 days. Not that I went into this testing ours! We had traveled many times before this in the US and out of the country. But the van aspect definitely added an extra quirky twist to this trip, and along the way some observations and thoughts crossed my mind.

#HIGHFIVE FOR PROBLEM SOLVING

The first night of our trip we were rearranging the inside of the van to make our bed after dark. The camper van is set up so the main seat bench and table reconfigure to make a surprisingly comfortable queen size bed. We had left Atlanta at 5:30am to catch our flight so needless to say after a long day of traveling we were exhausted. During the bed making process we were both outside and shut the doors… and were locked out. Somehow we locked the van with the keys… and our phones… inside.

We both just looked at each other for a second- damnit. We were in the woods with no keys, no phones and no way to get to any of our things. Immediately we both went into problem solving mode. I walked over to the campers next to us who were hanging out at their site, asked to borrow one of their phones, and began looking up the roadside assistance number I remember the camper van rental company mentioning. Stephen right away asked one of them for a tent stake to try to basically break into the van. Less than 5 minutes later I hear “we’re in!”. Somehow they managed to get into the van with the tent stake and save the night.

What was important to me about this was neither of us blamed the other, was mad or upset… by nature we both immediately thought of the best ways to fix the problem, stress-free. #Highfive for problem solving.

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WE DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY, AND THAT’S OKAY

Everyone has their own way of going about their day and everyday tasks. The first day we stopped at the grocery store to stock up before going to our first campsite. After loading up the cart we got to the van to unload the bags. Seems like a completely normal thing, what could go wrong right? Well… we had an issue. Stephen wanted to completely unload and organize all the groceries where they belonged in the van, right there in the parking lot. His very efficient stance on the situation was “why do things twice, let’s put it all where it goes the first time”.  My view was “why spend any more time in the grocery store parking lot than we have to? Let’s throw the bags in, get to the campsite and take our time organizing there”. There was a small, *calm* disagreement that afternoon in the parking lot of the SaveWay in Aptos, California.

Was one of us right? No… we simply just go about certain things differently. It doesn’t make sense trying to argue who is right and who is wrong when in the end it doesn’t even matter. We compromised, put away the cold things in the fridge, and organized the rest later at the campsite.

PATIENCE NEVER FAILS

If you’re spending 10 days straight together there are times you are bound to annoy the other person. We had the most amazing time and are extremely compatible, but our trip wasn’t without its moments on both sides. I remember Stephen trying to park the van on this very particular angle I wanted so it would be the most ideal setup with one of our campsites. Since the backside of the van opens up with the whole cooking area its important it’s placed so it flows with the site layout (at least to me that stuff is important!). I know I can be very picky, so there was a lot of moving the van this way, then that way, and then back this way. I could tell I was getting on his nerves, but he really remained patient with me and we got it set up perfect. I was happy with our space, and he was happy it was over so he could build a fire and relax with a beer.

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Another time he wanted to stop and take pictures at this well known surf spot in Santa Cruz called Steamer Lane. That day is was extra chilly and windy, and I didn’t have a warm jacket on. I wasn’t in the mood to walk up and down cliff’s edge taking pictures of waves and surfers, and more waves and surfers… and waiting for the next set of waves hoping a surfer would catch an epic one. But I sucked it up, put on a happy face and paced along the water’s edge with him as he snapped away. He was excited about it, it made him happy, so I remained patient until he was ready to go.

Being patient with the other person is extremely important to a happy relationship. You won’t always want to do the same things, and you will get frustrated with each other at times. Don’t let those emotions boil over and ruin the moment.

No relationship is flawless. There will always be things you don’t agree and everything won’t always be picture perfect- even if you do end up with some pretty perfect pictures. I would do our whole 10 days in a van all over again anytime, Stephen jokes with me that it was just a warm up for a MUCH longer trip in the future. We will see if that ever comes to fruition, but I am confident we will be able to tackle whatever comes our way.

Have you ever experienced similar situations while traveling with your partner? Share your stories in the comments below!

 

 

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The Best View of Barcelona- Mount Tibidabo

I’m a good view addict. I think it’s fair to say my traveling pattern is constantly searching for the best view, and Barcelona was no exception. Over the 3 weeks in Barcelona leading up to this point I was always eyeing this huge church on top of the mountain behind the city. While strolling around the streets I would keep getting glimpses of it and told myself I had to get up there before I left.

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The church is called the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (or the Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor) and it sits on top of Mount Tibidabo. There is an amusement park at the base of the church, and everywhere you go has breathtaking views. I was surprised more people I talked to hadn’t been there or even knew about it. Maybe people think it’s out of the way, but it’s actually very easy to get to and completely worth the time to get there.

Easiest way to get to the top of Mount Tibidabo and to the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus from Barcelona: Take the T2A bus from Plaça de Catalunya. It takes you directly there in about 30 minutes and costs 2.95 euros each way. *Very Important- the T2 bus only operates during the summer months when the amusement park is open. If you’re traveling outside of the summer months here are some other options to get to the top.

From where the bus drops you off it’s about a 10 minute walk up the hill to the church. You can then choose to see the view from the first 2 levels of the church, or pay 3 euros to ride the elevator to it’s highest points. Obviously I chose the best views 🙂 What’s even better is you get a 360 degree view of the entire area of Barcelona- from the ocean, to the inner city and then out to the rolling green hills of Spain.

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After you’re finished soaking in the views from the church you can walk down and enjoy more views from the amusement park! If you have kids they’ll have fun playing on the rides, but the park it’s just for families. I got myself a refreshing glass of Cava and enjoyed every last view from the mountain.

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This day was one of my last spent in Barcelona and I am so glad I fit in this trip to Mount Tibidabo before leaving. Later that night I went on a wine and tapas tour in the city, another thing I HIGHLY recommend! I’ll have all the details coming in the next post along with pictures and links so you can sign-up for this tour on your next visit.

Eurotripping & Down Under

I was hoping to share these plans sooner but the past month has been a whirlwind of out-of-town weekends, selling and giving away most of my things, packing up the important ones, saying goodbye to the first apartment I’ve rented on my own without a roommate, and becoming homeless. O, not to mention I’ve officially started my own business during this crazy time so needless to say… I’ve been a little slow getting back to the blog! I am SO excited to share with you my rough itinerary for the next few months, and even more excited to be leaving for Europe in less than 60 days. Is this real life?!

JUNE– Barcelona, Spain- entire month

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JUNE– Lisbon, Portugalweekend away

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JULY– Biarritz, France- week long vaca (with a real cute Aussie)

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JULY– London, England- week long stay

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JULY– Amsterdam, Netherlands- week long stay

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AUGUST– Rome, Italy- entire month

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AUGUST– Venice, Italy- weekend away

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AUGUST– Split, Croatia- weekend away

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SEPTEMBER– Australia– 2 weeks

So I have something to admit… I do in fact have a return ticket. I know I know… last blog post I mentioned not having one, but now I do and couldn’t be more happy about it. Turns out this Aussie guy is taking me home with him to Australia in September, so I will be returning to the States for maybe a week before flying to the completely other side of the globe. Goal #1- explore this beautiful place my boyfriend is from and meet some pretty important people in his life. Goal #2- See a baby Joey in a pouch.

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OCTOBER– Undecided

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NOVEMBERUndecided

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I need your help!

After Australia I will be back in Europe for 2 months to wrap up 2016, and I need your help deciding where to go! Do I want to soak up the culture of my O’Grady side in Ireland, sip wine in cafes in France, or wander the streets of Prague? The possibilities are endless and I’d love to hear about some of your favorite place around Europe.

Leave a comment and let’s figure this out!

 

I’m Outta Here

Well, it’s official. I have my first month booked living in Barcelona, Spain and I will be leaving in June! I can’t believe it’s around the corner, but even more so I can’t believe I’ve decided to leave the security of a full-time job, sell most of my things, and travel around the world on my own, open-endedly. Friends of mine have called it adventurous, I’m sure others think I’m totally insane… but either way this lady is heading to Europe in less than 3 months without a return plane ticket. I’m sure you’re wondering how in the world I ended up here, so let’s do a little recap!

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I have always dreamt of traveling anywhere and everywhere, soaking up the different cultures and scenary. To me, that is a huge part of what life is all about. The world is way too vast to stay in this western hemisphere bubble and not go experience all the places I’ve heard about and seen pictures of. Unfortunately this thing we call REAL LIFE has gotten in the way of those dreams for far too long– putting myself through college, never taking more than maybe 4 days in a row off work since I was 16, and you know… pretending I actually have a savings account for years. I’ve spent most of my adult life just trying to hold it all together on my own, and the idea of spending thousands of dollars (plus taking extended vacation time away from work) to travel abroad simply wasn’t a realistic thing in my mind to do. I’ve taken a decent amount of long weekend getaways back to California, NYC, Colorado, other places around the US and then Costa Rica last December in an attempt to fulfill my wanderlust, but that little travel bug inside me just wasn’t quite satisfied.

I know so many of us feel this same way, but few actually do something about it. We get stuck in the day-to-day routine and before we know it, years have flown by.

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Photo: Sauvignon Blue Instagram

I came across a travel group that selects 75 people to travel around the world together working remotely. You spend a month in each of the 12 countries throughout Europe, Asia and South America, totaling a whole year of travel. You are required to have your own remote job to support yourself, the program does not provide this for you, but given that I’m in the design/marketing field I knew somehow there was a way I could make that happen. Without hesitation I applied, not thinking anything would come of it. About a month later I had made it through to the final round Skype interview. At this point I was fully picturing myself gallivanting around the world, immersing myself in the different cultures and making new connections. Then in February of this year I received the news… I was accepted as one of the 75 people to leave in June, out of over 50,000 applicants!

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Photo: Style Me Pretty

I was ecstatic and almost couldn’t believe I was about to be going on this adventure. I was given 2 weeks to make my decision and give my down payment to hold my place for the trip. After making a budget and lists of everything I needed to cover before the trip (huge down payment, travel insurance, plane ticket to first location, visas, passport renewal, etc) plus the monthly dues paid to the group to cover all our transportation and accommodations, I was feeling totally overwhelmed with the overall costs compared to the reality of my finances. Not to mention I hadn’t fully secured my 100% remote work income yet. What if after a few months the remote job wasn’t working out and I had to leave the trip? All of these fears were flying through my head while under pressure to make a decision by my deadline. I wanted to be smart with my money and use it wisely, instead of completely draining myself and going into more debt.

Guess what? I declined the offer… but for something WAY better.

I started researching how much it would cost for me to do a similar idea totally on my own- the cost to stay an entire month in some countries through airbnb, transportation costs between countries, etc. I found I could literally pay for 3 months of Europe travel with just the down payment money alone this group was asking for. Not only would I be able to travel abroad while working remotely on my own for less than HALF the monthly cost of going with that program, but I would be able to select the countries I really wanted instead of having to stick with their itinerary. The choice was quite obvious to me, and the next day I officially declined the offer and set out to plan my own world travel adventures.

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I’ve decided to focus on Europe for the remainder of 2016 and begin my solo travels in Barcelona, Spain. There are SO many places on my list to explore in Europe, and there is no way I will ever make it to all of them this year! Be sure to check back for future blog posts about other locations I’ve chosen and more travel plan details. Not only will June be the start of this crazy experience, but I am also utilizing this time to jumpstart this blog, Sauvignon Blue, into a travel focused blog. You’ll be able to keep up with me through the ups and downs of life on the road- being on my own in places I don’t speak the language or know a single person. I’m fortunate enough to have some friends and connections around the globe to meet up with along the way, but this journey is not only about discovering new places but new people too. And of course you know there will be countless pictures included 🙂 Be sure to follow me on Instagram @SauvignonBlue for daily snapshots, and let the journey begin!

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Bright Bedding Update

Giving your bedroom a mini makeover doesn’t have to be expensive! It can be as simple as changing your duvet cover. I am constantly updating my home by finding little things to tweak, but doing things on a budget is always key.

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Recently while doing the usual weekend straightening up around the house, I removed my awesome/crazy duvet cover to throw it in the wash. Of course I still love my indian inspired pattern duvet, but I realized I actually felt more relaxed and clear minded with the plain white down comforter. The room felt brighter and more airy so I decided it was time to shake things up a bit.

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S.B. Life & Things to Come

How do we balance it all? A full-time job, side projects, family, friends, dating/relationships, errands, cleaning, cooking, and heaven forbid…. sneaking in some lazy couch time. No matter what’s going on in your unique life, we all have trouble making it ALL happen, while still looking decent in public (I think I’m slowly mastering the “technically I’m almost in PJs but I can totally pull this off at work” move).

The past few months have been a total whirl wind for me, but I’m finally taking control of certain passions of mine that have been on the back burner…. this blog being one of them. There are lots of updates to come and endless stories for the future… but here is a little sneak peak on the S.B. life lately!

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RAW Artists Atlanta Show

It’s show time in Atlanta! Back in April I was chosen to exhibit my artwork at the RAW Natural Born Artist Exhibition. Although I spent the 48 hours before the show running around, glueing, assembling, hammering, painting, power drilling, all the hard work was totally worth it!

This was my first time showing my artwork around town, and it was such a great feeling to share it with everyone and all my amazing family and friends who came out to give support. More exciting things to come!

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