Perfect is a Myth

Perfect is a Myth

Something’s been on my mind lately.

A lot of people, myself included, like to talk about all the changes they want to make in their life. Perhaps they want to get out of debt, start a new side-hustle, or even just dive into a new hobby. Or maybe there are more personal changes someone wants to make. Maybe they want to be more assertive, gossip less, or even just have a more positive outlook on life.

It’s easy to talk about the things you want to do, the qualities we want to acquire. It’s much harder to actually, you know, get up and do them.

Now, I’m not the perfect person to talk about this. I’ve been complacent about many things lately. And maybe that’s why I’m blogging about this.

perfect is a myth

I’ve noticed several things within my circle of people. Either they are constantly talking about what they want to do or they are actually putting in the work.

Now, the ones who are talking about what they want to achieve may actually have a lot of knowledge about this new endeavor. They’ve probably done the research, looked up tons of articles and books on the subject, and they’ve acquired a lot of book knowledge on The Perfect way to successfully accomplish these things. But usually, that’s where it ends. The actions of change? Nowhere to be found.

On the other hand, there are those who are taking clear, solid actions toward their goals. They are not on The Perfect path and they are far from where they want to be, but each day they are taking actions. Taking an hour a day to actually focus on some actions, perfect or not, is better than all the book knowledge on the subject. These people choose imperfect, yet consistent actions over The Perfect action and they learn as they fail. These are the people I want to be more like.

It’s one thing to know a lot about something, like weight loss or personal finance. But it’s another thing to actually live out what you know.

Personally, it bugs me whenever someone talks a lot about their knowledge of something but has nothing to show for it. When they constantly talk about The Perfect way to reach financial independence, or The Perfect method of losing weight but haven’t done a single thing towards their goals. Yeah, I get that you know a lot about weight loss/personal finance/starting a business, but what are you doing about it?

I guess what I’m trying to say is this – don’t get caught up in launching The Perfect business, diving into The Perfect healthy lifestyle, or being Perfect when starting a new hobby. Reading articles and books on these new things isn’t a bad thing, just don’t let it stop there! Strive for small changes each and every day. Experience is a far better teacher than articles/books are. Perfect is a myth that holds us back from real, tangible actions that lead to real change.

Don’t be afraid of the imperfect. Fail fast, learn faster.

What changes do you want to make in your life? What actions have you taken?

AMDG,
Lisa

 

Wedding Dress Shopping 101

Wedding Dress Shopping 101

This past weekend, I went wedding dress shopping.

In the days leading up to it, I was incredibly anxious. I know a lot of girls are excited to go wedding dress shopping, but I was not one of them. First of all, the pressure on what dress the bride will be wearing is ridiculously high. Secondly, even the experience of finding the dress and “saying yes” to it has been romanticized and has its own set of pressure. Finally, you can say I’ve had some really bad experiences when it comes to shopping with my mom and her honesty about how everything looks on me.

Needless to say, I was not looking forward to wedding dress shopping.

With that being said, I knew it had to be done. I wanted to make wedding dress shopping as efficient as possible, so I booked 3 appointments back to back all in one day. It was an extremely tiring day, but I had much more fun than I expected and I even found my dress at the end of it all!

Here are a few tips I’d like to share when it comes to wedding dress shopping:

wedding dress shopping

Who to Bring

Now, I’m sure we’ve all seen episodes of Say Yes to the Dress where the bride brings her mom, future mother-in-law, all her bridesmaids, and even just a bunch of friends. The salon is crowded with an audience and everyone has an opinion on every single detail.

As much as I’d like to think bringing my entire entourage would have been a good idea, I just had to be realistic. The more people you bring, the more opinions are going to be thrown at you. I don’t know about you, but I would get overwhelmed when many voices all have something to say about a dress that you, and only you, are going to wear.

I decided to keep it small – I brought my mom, my auntie, one of my maids of honor, and my bestie. When you think about who you should bring when you go wedding dress shopping, think about the ones who really know you best and will support you but will also tell you honestly how you look.

What to Wear

Be comfortable, but look nice. To be honest, when I rolled out of bed that morning, I wanted to wear sweats and a T-shirt. Heck, I wanted to be comfortable! But instead, I opted for a simple dress and some tights. Dresses are super easy to pull on and off, and the tights give you a sense of cover-up while some stranger helps you get into and out of dresses that you’re trying on.

Go easy on the makeup. Personally, I didn’t wear makeup at all, and I’m glad I did. As I was putting on the sample dresses, I would see smudged foundation on the insides of the dresses and it was kind of gross. I understand some girls just “need” to have their face on, but I urge you to hold back for this one day. It will get wiped off by the dresses, and if it doesn’t, it will melt because you’ll be sweating after standing under those lights for so long.

I said yasss 👰 #janenesbridalboutique #LisafoundtheJuan

A photo posted by Lisa E (@liseezy) on

How Much to Spend

Now, this is entirely up to you. When I used to watch Say Yes to the Dress religiously, I would think that their budgets were insane! $3,000 – $6,000 on a dress you’ll wear once??? Heck, I remember a girl spending over $10,000 on her dress and I almost fainted for her.

I knew that I did not want to spend that much on my dress and I was afraid that it would hold me back in terms of options. But I set my budget to under $1,500 and there was a ton of variety in the price range. Don’t be afraid to look at the “lower end”, because you might find something you love. I did!

But I will say – do your research before you go shopping. When searching for salons to go to, I would go on Yelp and only select places that were 1 or 2 dollar signs. I did not step foot into a place that was 3 dollar signs or over. You don’t want to get tempted to spend more than you want to.

My dress ended up costing about $1,100. We got a 10% discount thrown in, as well, which pretty much covered tax. But I’ll be honest with y’all – I spent $0 on my wedding dress. My mom graciously paid for my wedding dress. Now, I want to be clear – I did not ask her to pay for anything. I was fully prepared to pay for this expense myself. But she offered to pay for my wedding dress as her gift to me. I am so thankful!

Where to Start

If it’s your first time wedding dress shopping, I suggest you try on dresses in different silhouettes. Even though you saw a style of dress you like on Pinterest, it can look completely different on you than it does on the model. Trying on different silhouettes can really give you a feel for what looks good on your body type.

Going in to my appointments, I knew I didn’t want a ball gown because I actually already wore one on my cotillion day when I turned 18. But other than that, I was open to any shape.

I would also say to trust your wedding dress stylist. I thought I didn’t want a sweetheart neckline because I’m kind of busty and didn’t want to be all out there. But one of the stylists asked me to reconsider and pulled some nice dresses with a sweetheart neckline that actually looked great on me, as well as modest! You never know until you step out of you comfort zone.

Last but not least, I’d say know when to stop shopping. Honestly, I usually hate dress shopping, but if you get a really good stylist (I got two of them), they’ll keep pulling dresses that will look great on you and you’ll end up overwhelmed and not sure which dress to pick.

Each dress up until I found “the one” had me thinking “Oh, this looks great! But…” But when I tried on that last dress, there were no “buts”. I actually found the dress that I really pictured myself walking down the aisle to, so I stopped looking.

Wedding dress shopping ended up being so much fun! No, I didn’t cry when I found “the dress”. At the end of the day, it’s just a dress! Yes, I’m getting married in it. But the most important thing to me wasn’t what I was wearing as I walked down the aisle – it’s who I’m marrying after I’ve walked down the aisle.

What was your experience wedding dress shopping? How much did you spend?

AMDG,
Lisa

April 2015 Net Worth Update

April 2015 Net Worth Update

Disclaimer: this post contains a referral link.

After last quarter’s disappointing update, I was hoping this month would be much better. Here are the numbers:

April 2015 Net Worth Update

Net Worth as of April 30, 2015: $216,395

Overall, my net worth increased by $3,381 this month :)

Assets

Cash: $4,724 [up $1,818]

I hate to say it but… working overtime, although taxing, has its benefits. Of course, there are tradeoffs – more stress, low energy, etc. But at this stage in my life, I don’t mind putting in the hours since I’ve got a wedding to pay for and credit card debt!

Short Term Savings: $1,130 [up $22]

This includes:

Emergency fund: $1,002 (up $1)
Personal Escrow: $120 (up $20)

Although I no longer actively contribute to my emergency fund, the dollar increase is due to the little bit of interest I gain in my Capital One 360 account. As for my Personal Escrow account, the $20 contribution is standard every month.

Retirement Savings: $32,401 [up $1,762]

This includes:

Roth IRA: $19,790 (up $939)
Traditional IRA: $9,327 (up $398)
401k: $3,284 (up $425)

When all else seems to disappoint me, my retirement savings usually holds it down for me. For example – my Roth IRA – I’m up about $939. My actual contribution to my Roth is half this amount! The rest – all gains, baby! My Traditional IRA got a nice increase this month as well, due to a rollover from my old 401k. My current 401k is increasing nicely as well, thanks to my company match.

Est. Car Value: $15,970 [no change]

Since I’m not planning on selling my car anytime soon, I’m thinking of only updating this value once per quarter. No change this time around.

Est. Home Value: $469,836 [no change]

Same as above – I don’t plan on selling my house soon, so I don’t feel the need to update this value very often.

Liabilities

Credit Cards: $6,558 [up $1,175]

This includes:

Discover (15.99%): $3,605 (up $1,043)
Wells Fargo @ (0.00%): $2,820 (no change)
Target (22.99%): $132.12 (up $132.12)

These were the balances of my credit cards on 4/30. On 5/1, I paid off my Discover and Target cards completely, but I wanted to be truthful to what my actual net worth was for April.

A lot of deposits are coming up for the wedding and unfortunately, I can’t cash flow them right at this moment. Hopefully my raise will help, but right now the plan is to put most of it on these CCs and steadily pay them down in huge chunks each month.

Student Loans: $14,521 [down $130]

This includes:

A – Direct Subsidized (6.8%): $2,859 (down $14)
B – Direct Subsidized (6.0%): $3.636 (down $21)
C – Direct Subsidized (5.6%): $4,424 (down $25)
D – Direct Subsidized (4.5%): $2,181 (down $13)
E – Direct Unsubsidized (6.8%): $1,421 (down $53)

A solid decrease this month, pretty standard. Again, I’m paying the absolute minimum on these, rounded up to the nearest $100, for now. I am thinking about knocking out that Direct Unsubsidized loan right now, though.

Car Loan: $15,534 [down $335]

Just like all my other non-credit card debt, I’m putting the minimum on this loan until all the others (minus my mortgage) are clear.

Mortgage: $271,054 [down $490]

My mortgage is last on the list, so the minimum payment each month it is!

Overall, a great month except for the credit cards (what’s new…) With another wedding deposit coming up in May, I don’t see the credit cards getting any better, but I am trying my best to throw as much at it as I can.

How was your April?

AMDG,
Lisa

The Emergency Fund – The ONE THING Everyone Needs

The Emergency Fund – The ONE THING Everyone Needs

[Disclaimer: this post contains referral links.]

There were plenty of times within the last few months when I felt compelled to write this post. As I was involved in family issues and heard of friends’ transitional times, I felt the need to share this one thing.

The ONE THING everyone needs to have is an emergency fund.

Emergency Fund

Now, this isn’t news in the PF community. For those familiar with Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps, this is Baby Step Number 1! Having an emergency fund is a no-brainer for us PF nerds.

But this post isn’t for the personal finance blogosphere. This post is for those I know who claim that personal finance just doesn’t make sense to them. This post is for those who get caught up in the confusing lingo of 401k vs. Roth IRA vs. Traditional IRA, get overwhelmed, and simply give up. This post is for those who are worried about how their finances are and have absolutely no idea where to start.

I beg urge you all – do not let the overwhelming world of personal finance stop you from setting up your emergency fund.

The very first thing everyone needs to have in their finances is an emergency fund.

What is an Emergency Fund?

An emergency fund sounds just like what it is – funds set aside specifically for emergencies. This fund is there for you when little snags in our life plans happen – when your car breaks down, when an unexpected expense pops up, or even if you fall victim to an unfortunate layoff at work. When these things happen, you’re going to want to have a little cash to help you as you’re working through it.

***Note – an emergency fund is not there for you “just in case” there’s a really great sale at Macy’s.

Now, some may argue that they don’t need an emergency fund – they can use their credit cards for emergencies. Heck – I was in that same boat not too long ago! But I’ve since switched over to having cash as an emergency fund, not credit. Having a liquid (meaning: easy to get to) emergency fund is best for emergency situations. In general, when in an emergency, you won’t want to have to worry about how to pay for things, let alone paying interest on top of whatever you have to spend. Cash is king in this situation, my friends.

How Much Should I Have in My Emergency Fund?

There are a lot of factors that determine how much you should have in your emergency fund. But at the bare minimum, you need to have $1,000.00 set aside for emergencies. In fact, that’s what I have in my emergency fund as of right now!

For higher risk situations – freelancers, families, etc. –  you’re going to want to have a bigger emergency fund set aside. Many suggest having an emergency fund consisting of 3 to 6 months worth of expenses.

But those of us who are single and have no dependents, $1,000 is a great start. If you’re debt free – having 3 to 6 months worth of expenses is a great idea. If you’re still in debt, though (ahem like me), the bare minimum of $1,000 will do until you climb out of your debt.

Ultimately – you should at least have $1,000 in the bank. After that point is really up to you and your situation. The amount you have set aside for emergencies should help you sleep at night, not keep you up.

Where Should I Put My Emergency Fund?

You’re going to want to keep your emergency funds close so that the money is easily attainable when emergencies happen. But you don’t want your emergency fund too close in case you get the temptation to use the funds as something other than an emergency.

**Note – Do not put your emergency funds in time-restricted accounts such as CDs (Certificates of Deposit). CDs are really meant for investing, not for emergencies. Plus, there are penalties for withdrawing money early from CDs.

My emergency fund is at Capital One 360, but really you can have yours wherever you prefer. A good place to start is to see if the bank your current checking account is at offers savings accounts.

I have a separate savings account set up in my Capital One 360 account just for emergencies. It’s close enough that I can access the money without any penalties. I would still have to transfer the money from my savings account into my checking account to access it with my debit card. This transfer step, although very easy, allows me to really reflect on whether this is really an emergency or not.

I get that personal finance can be overwhelming. But please, please, please – take the time to set up your emergency fund! This is step one to financial peace. Once your emergency fund is in place, then we can start worrying about all the other stuff – debt repayment, retirement savings, etc.

AMDG,
Lisa

How to Get Promoted Sooner Than Expected

In my last personal update, I mentioned that I recently got a promotion!

As much as I would have loved to have this opportunity just fall into my lap, realistically it didn’t happen that way. In general – opportunities like this don’t happen out of no where. It’s a result of many things that I had control over.

Here’s what lead me to my promotion and how you can get promoted sooner than you expected, too!

get promoted

Efficiently Work Your @$$ Off

“Work your @$$ off” is a phrase used by many. It may even seem like a no-brainer, but it needs to be said. I’ve added the efficiency component for a reason, though.

In my opinion, there are two kinds of workers – 1) the ones who try to get away with doing their job with as little effort as possible and 2) the ones who know how to efficiently get their work done so they can productively work their @$$es off.

Lesson – Don’t be the first kind.

Yes – there’s a huge difference between an extremely efficient worker and a worker who tries to just get everything done as soon as possible without covering all their bases. The latter looks at all the tasks and duties they have to do and says, “How can I get away with doing just the minimum amount of work to get by?” while the former looks at the same exact list and says, “How can I get all of this done well and in a timely manner?”

Toot Your Own Horn

This year was the first year I ever had to do a self-performance review. I wasn’t too worried, though, because I was told from the beginning to keep a track record of all that I do. This “brag list” includes what I accomplish on a daily basis as well as projects and ad hoc assignments I’ve assisted in. When it came time to turn in my performance review, I pulled out the brag list and filled it out with ease.

Lesson – Put together your Brag List. What are your daily duties?  What projects have you accomplished for the company and how has your effort impacted the company? The Brag List does two things – 1) keeps you accountable with what you’ve done and 2) encourages you to keep accomplishing goals at the company so you can keep adding to your brag list! The more you record what you’ve done, the more confident you become in your work. Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn!

Know What You’re Worth

After I submitted my own performance review, I sat down with my immediate supervisors and managers to discuss my own review and, what we’ve all been waiting for, compensation. For the most part, they agreed with my performance review, but the compensation aspect of the review just didn’t match up, in my opinion.

My opinion was reinforced when I went to sites such as Salary.com and Payscale.com, plugged in my title and location, and saw that the number just didn’t add up. I saved these reports and ended up referring to them a lot in the future step.

Lesson – Do your research! Ask around, look it up, and put together a case for yourself. Of course, keep compensation and benefits in mind and also look at the job descriptions online since many companies’ job titles vary one from the other. Save your research, study the numbers, and know your worth!

Be Vocal to the Right People

After my disappointing performance review, and after all the salary research, I asked to sit down with my supervisors and managers again. I basically made my case – I’ve been doing this for the company, this is what I expect to be compensated, and this is not matching up with what you’re offering me. Immediate changes did not happen, which was fine. But being vocal to my higher ups was definitely what got the ball rolling in terms of my recent promotion.

Lesson – Speak up to the right people! It’s easy to be disappointed and to complain to your peers. Honestly, that’s what I did at first! But complaining to your peers, other than having something to talk about, ultimately does nothing. So instead of complaining, put your case together (your brag list + your compensation research), and talk to the right people. Nothing will be fixed if they don’t know anything is broken.

I was told that people at my company didn’t really get considered for a promotion until they’ve been there for 18 months. I’ve only been there for 14. Be consistent in your work, don’t be afraid to brag, know your worth, and speak up and you’ll be on the path to get promoted!

What do you need to work on to get promoted? Be honest.

Best,
Lisa
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