Starting Over, Again

Starting Over, Again

Starting Over, Again

Yes, I’m starting over.

It’s been almost a year since my last post.

I’ve taken hiatuses from this blog before but this time, I thought this was the end. My last post was a net worth update and I was crushin’ it! My credit card debt was almost gone, my savings were going up and up, everything was all good in the hood.

Then life happened. And now, I’m starting over.

In the midst of wedding planning, family stuff, and just life in general, this blog became a very low priority. Unfortunately, my finances went down the priority ladder along with it.

I was too embarrassed to come back and write about money when my money situation has totally veered off the path I wanted it to take. I feel like I’ve taken several hundred steps backwards in my financial journey and I didn’t want to tell anyone about it.

After all, how can someone who writes about financial independence and her hate of credit card debt have any credibility on a personal finance blog when she still has growing debt? Who in the world would listen to a girl who just keeps making mistake after mistake after mistake with her finances?

Well, I’m hoping you are listening. I’ve decided that I’m not writing for those who are already well on their way to financial freedom. I’m not writing for those who have completely tackled their debt and are free from those shackles.

No, I’m writing for someone like me. Someone who is early on in their financial journey. Someone who is just getting a grasp of what it means to want financial freedom. Someone who keeps making mistake after mistake. I’m writing for those who need to hear that starting over is okay and giving up isn’t.

No one is perfect. A lot of the blogs out there will show you a perfect plan that they followed step by step and how they’re completely crushing it with their finances. They are well on their way to millions in the bank, but I’m still here sitting in debt.

And that’ s okay. I’m writing for those who are starting over. Those who had a plan – heck, maybe several plans – and still feel like they’re 1,000 steps behind. Those who don’t even have a plan, who have no idea where to start.

If you don’t want to read about an imperfect person’s journey to financial freedom – cringe-worthy mistakes, stumbles, falls, and all – then I suggest that this is the last post you read of mine.

But if you want comfort in the fact that hey, not everyone in this world has got it all figured out yet, that at least one other person is starting over, then this is the place to be.

I hope you’ll stick around. Heck – I hope I’ll stick around 🙂


June 2015 Net Worth Update

Disclaimer: this post may contain referral links.

June 2015 Net Worth Update

What! It’s July already?!?! Seriously, life is just moving too fast, y’all.

June 2015 Net Worth Update

Overall, my net worth increased by $31,567 this month!

What! That’s insane!

Mind you, most of it is due to my updated house value number. But I’ve also made some great progess on my credit card debt and all other debts, in general.


Cash: $3,181 – up $487

Someone pointed out that my cash balance is enough to pay off my credit card debt altogether. Which is true, but this money is reserved for house bills (mortgage, electricity, gas, water) and a lot of these bills are paid either every other month or one a quarter. As much as I’d love to just pay my debt off immediately, I keep it in my bank accounts for future bills.

Short Term Savings: $2,251 – up $1,099

My savings buckets are all with Capital One 360. They make it easy to see all your savings at once! Here’s what mine mostly consists of this month:

Emergency: $1,001 – no change
Personal Escrow: $160 – up $20
Wedding: $1,083 – up $1,080

Wait, didn’t I say I stopped saving for my wedding? The funds in there actually aren’t from me. My mom graciously offered to help pay for the wedding, so she’s sending me money once in a while for safe keeping. However, since I’ve got a goal to be credit card debt free before the wedding, I’m thinking of throwing that money at my remaining credit card debt.

Retirement Savings: $32,109 – down $758

This consists of:

401k: $3,755 – down $61
Traditional IRA: $9,081 – down $228
Roth IRA: $19,273.25 – down $469

Yuck. Of course the market takes a little dive the month I decide to stop saving for retirement. I’m pretty far from retirement, though, so I’m not going to worry too much about this. I know that in the long run the market will pick up, so I’m not going to stress over this.

Estimated Car Value: $15,365 – down $605

I look up the value of my car on Kelley Blue Book every quarter and update my net worth as necessary. The car always goes down in value, without fail. That’s what you get for buying brand new.

Estimated Home Value – $497,668 – up $27,832

Aw baby! I check Zillow when I want to see the value of my home. As awesome as this looks, I’m not planning on selling soon, so this value doesn’t necessarily mean anything to me right now. But those gains look damn good!


Credit Cards: $1,554 – down $2,552

This consists of:

Discover @ 15.99%: $20 – down $1,323
Wells Fargo @ 0.00%: $1,534 – down $1,228

Despite the huge $31k jump in net worth, I am most excited about this one! I am so close to being credit card debt free, I can taste it! I really buckled down last month and threw whatever I could at this debt and it shows! Hopefully by next month, this will be a nice fat $0!

Student Loans: $14,264 – down $131

This consists of:

Direct Subsidized @ 6.8%: $2,830 – down $15
Direct Subsidized @ 6.0%: $3,597 – down $20
Direct Subsidized @ 5.6%: $4,374 – down $25
Direct Subsidized @ 4.5%: $2,153 – down $14
Direct Unsubsidized @ 6.8%: $1,311 – down $5

Another solid month for the student loans. Can’t complain!

Car Loan: $14,865 – down $336

The minimum is all I’m throwing at this loan right now. Slow and steady is the motto.

Mortgage: $270,069 – down $493

Same with the car loan – slow and steady with this one.

Overall, my June 2015 net worth update had it’s ups and downs. Mostly ups! Can’t wait to tackle some more debt this month.

How was your June financials? Did you stay on track with your goals?


Financial Empowerment – Why and How #TheRoad

The following blog post is part of The Road to Financial Wellness Blog Tour. Over a period of 30 days, the Phroogal team will go to 30 locations to raise awareness about financial empowerment. Today they will be in San Francisco! Our goal is to help people learn about money by starting the conversation. We understand that local conversations can help bring about national awareness.

Financial Empowerment – Why and How

Why Seek Financial Empowerment

Don’t get me wrong. I love my parents.

But as a child in a household with two parents who always disagreed about money, I grew up with a confused outlook on personal finance.

While one parent would say we needed to stop spending and start saving money, the other would come home with multiple bags full of goodies from today’s impromptu retail therapy session.

That same parent who went shopping the other day would then tell us that money was tight and that we could barely afford anything, and, almost immediately afterward, the other would literally hand us a bunch of cash.

It wasn’t like one parent was a saver and the other was a spender. They both were spenders who never agreed on anything when it came to money. While my mom would come home with multiple bags full of clothes from Ross or Macy’s, my dad would come home with a Mercedes Benz or two. True story. At least they were used.

You can probably see why I grew up confused about money.

It wasn’t until I got my first job after high school (R.I.P. Anchor Blue) that I really knew the value of a dollar. I finally realized how not-so-easy it was to earn, yet so-damn-easy to spend. My closet was filling up, but my bank account stayed empty. I thought retail therapy would make me feel better, but it only made me feel worse, especially when I saw how much money was in my wallet. (Read: none)

My money confusion from my childhood had a lot to do with how I handled money now as a working adult. I was just like my mom – coming home with tons of clothes and no money to spare. I was just like my dad – splurging on status symbols that cost more than my paycheck.

Once I identified that my actions were almost mirroring my parents, I knew that I had to take control of my money and I had to start now. Here are the steps I took to gain financial empowerment and how you can, too.

How to Achieve Financial Empowerment

Stop Spending More Than You Earn

A couple of years ago, I went on a Spending Fast. I didn’t do it for long, probably only 3 months, but it really helped me in several ways. First of all, my credit card debt didn’t grow as fast since I wasn’t swiping anymore plus I had more money to throw at it. Secondly, the fast really challenged my thoughts on my needs versus wants.

The Spending Fast also made me realize that the act of swiping really does give a temporary high – key word being TEMPORARY. Shopping and getting new things is fun, but after that initial high fades away, you’ll want to do it all again. You’re never completely satisfied. Going on a spending fast will really help you monetarily and even mentally.

Set Up Automatic Savings

The next thing I did was set up an automatic savings transfer from my checking into my savings goals (at the time, it was funding my emergency fund). Now, I still save for my personal escrow account and whenever I have travel coming up. I quickly learned to live without that $100 or so that was automatically being transferred out of my checking account each month.

Most banks offer free transfers between your accounts. If you want to save, automation is the way to go. Not only will it happen without you thinking about it, but automating actually trains you to live on just a little bit less. After the first few months, you won’t even miss that money! And it’s not like that money is simply disappearing, it’s actually going to work for you!

Take Care of Your Future Self

Compound interest is talked about a lot when you go to school to get a business degree. So I knew that, even though I’m young, I needed to start saving for retirement. So, right when I graduated from college, I opened up a Roth IRA and socked money away every single month via automatic transfer.

I knew I didn’t want to be 60 years old and stressing out about whether I had enough money in my retirement. I want to make sure Future Lisa is financially empowered, too!

Check In Regularly

I’ve made it a habit to look at my bank account balances almost everyday. It gives me an idea of how much money I can spend that day. If everything is all good, I might treat myself to a nice lunch. If it’s not looking too good, I’ll pass.

Checking your balances regularly keeps you aware of your financial situation at all times. You can’t hide from the hard numbers. At first, checking in regularly can be daunting and discouraging. But once you really start taking control of your money, this regular balance check is just making sure you’re on the right path.

Ultimately, I think this is what financial empowerment is all about – reevaluating your spending, saving up for splurges, taking care of yourself, and being aware and in control of your money choices.

What caused you to seek financial empowerment? What steps do you take toward financial empowerment? 



June 2015 Favorites

This post may contain affiliate links.

June 2015 Favorites

Instead of doing a weekly Links Lisa Likes, I’m going to start doing a monthly favorites where I share not only my favorite posts of the month, but also my favorite things. This can be books, movies, podcasts, clothing, whatever!

June went by super fast for me! The Fiance and I got a bunch of wedding planning done, which is always good. Other than that, work has been picking up and I’m keeping up as much as I can. Nothing I can’t handle, though!

Favorite Things

June 2015 Favorites

one – I’ve been wearing these Aviator sunglasses almost everyday! I love huge sunglasses and these fit the bill. I didn’t know these were men’s until today when I looked it up online but who cares – I still really like them!

two – This Contigo water bottle goes with me everywhere I go. Mine is actually bright orange, so it’s hard to lose and quickly brightens my day just looking at it. Staying hydrated is incredibly important, even while we’re in a drought!

three – When I saw these Marley Smile Jamaica In-Ear Headphones at Target, I was obsessed. I love the wooden design paired with the bright teal details. I use these every single day when I’m listening to podcasts on the way to work! The only thing I’d complain about, though, is that they don’t have volume control buttons on them. But that’s not really a big deal to me.

Favorite Posts Around the Web

Saving Money Isn’t About Deprivation – It’s About Freedom – [The Financial Diet]
This ^ is what it’s all about, people.

Start Now, Your Goals and Dreams Will Take Time – [The Shop My Closet Project]
Overnight success is rare. Hard work and time aren’t sexy, but they’re necessary.

You Truly Cannot Plan for Everything… But Plan Anyways – [Fit is the New Poor]
Just because you cannot prevent/plan for everything doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared.

Favorite Posts on LvtL

Still Shaken Up…
Honestly, I’m still trying to figure out what to do next after this scare. I’ve been reflecting on my life a lot lately and whether or not I’m really living up to my potential.

What the Golden State Warriors Can Teach Us About Humility
We ended up taking the championship home! Here’s the #1 reason why I think we were successful and how we can be more humble in our own lives.

What the Golden State Warriors Can Teach Us About Personal Growth
Another post in this series. Stop caring what others think about you and get to work instead.

Favorite Movie

Inside Out

June 2015 Favorites - Favorite Movie - Inside OutImage from Pixar Post

Pixar does it again! As a young girl, I always tried to fight off my emotions. This movie addresses the importance of all of our emotions and it does it in a very entertaining way. Pixar is great at creating movies that are truly family friendly – everyone from the kids to the grandparents will enjoy it!

My favorite character was Sadness. I’m weird like that 😛 But all the other emotions/characters were awesome in their own way. Anger was pretty hilarious – I saw a lot of myself in him and Sadness!

Favorite Podcast


To Do’s Before I Do


As an engaged bride, I’ve been devouring almost everything wedding related, especially when it comes to being organized and saving money.

So when I stumbled upon To Do’s Before I Do – I binge-listened to all the episodes in one day! Shaina is incredibly easy to listen to and the episodes are relatively short so it doesn’t take up too much of your time. The podcast is full of real advice for the organized bride who strives to be a Bride-Chilla, not a Bride-Zilla.

How was your June? Any new favorites pop up in your world?


My Advice for College Graduates

My Advice for College Graduates

My friends over at TheLadders reached out to me to share some tips for new graduates who are getting ready to enter the work force.

I thought this would be perfect for this time of year! We are just starting to wrap up graduation season over here and I’m sure there are a lot of graduates getting asked the dreaded question, “So, what now?”

I remember what it felt like, having just finished school and not having a job lined up like some of my peers. It’s overwhelming and exciting at the exact same time! Here’s my advice for college graduates.

My Advice to College Graduates

Take Time to Celebrate and Enjoy This Time

Hey, finishing up a degree is not easy! And you did it! Don’t forget to take time to celebrate what you’ve done. I’m not saying you should splurge on a vacation that you can’t afford or anything like that. I’m saying take some time to really enjoy and appreciate your accomplishments.

Have fun at your graduation party. Take this time to finally read that book you’ve been putting off because you were studying. Go on a hike or have a beach day with your friends. The first few weeks of the after-grad life are perfect for moments like this. Yes, the job search is important. But don’t let it completely take over your life right now. Let yourself enjoy this time. When you do find your first job, you’ll miss this free time.

Define Your Must-Haves and Decide What You Can Compromise

The job search can get pretty overwhelming, so I say you should start with defining what you want and what you can live without. What location do you want to work in, or does location even matter to you? What kind of company do you want to work for – big, small, public, private – or do you just want to work for any company? How does your degree tie into all this?

For example, when I was searching for my job, I knew I wanted to stay in the San Francisco Bay Area, but I didn’t have to stay specifically in the city. I was open to the East and North Bay as well. As far as what kind of company, I didn’t have any particular wants – I was open to whatever company would have me at that point! When it came to how it tied in with my degree (I got a bachelor’s in Accounting), I knew that I wanted to try my hand at accounting, but I was also open to finding any position within business in general.

I ended up getting a job as an Administrative Assistant at a small company in San Francisco. While I was more of an office assistant, I also helped both the accounting and finance departments. This position was perfect as my first job because I gained accounting experience, but I learned that finance was more my cup of tea.

Learn as Much as Possible

Being a new grad, you’re probably really proud of all that you’ve learned. However, when you start a new job, I would say refrain from being a show off and instead soak in all the real life knowledge you can. Sure, you may have gained a lot of skills and knowledge in school, but your first priority in your first job isn’t to completely change up everything and make your mark. It really is to learn the ins and outs of your new duties and company.

When I was a fresh new grad, I was excited to show off my Accounting Skillz and how much I knew about Excel. Then I quickly learned that in fact, I had much more to learn about Excel and a lot of other things. Although you’re no longer a student, keep the student mentality.

Take Your Time and Trust the Struggle

Don’t feel like you have to change everything once you get there, at least not for your first job. Take the first month or so to really study how everything works. Became a master at your position first before you take on new things.

I’m not proud of this, but I used to say that a lot of my first job was “b*tch” work. But now, I look back and see that it wasn’t. Sure, some things like making coffee, making copies, and opening the mail can be tedious and boring. But when you become a master at it, people will notice and will eventually trust you with other things.

I hate saying cliche things like this type of work “builds character”, but it really does! Show them how good you are at the mundane things and they can’t help but trust you with bigger things as your career progresses.

So there you have it – my advice for college graduates!

Did I miss anything? What would your advice be for a new graduate?