student debt, be gone!

This is a post I originally wrote in June of 2015. I just felt like I should add to it + republish as it is still relevant today! 

My husband Wade is back in school, but we are trying extremely hard not to take any student loans out. 

As I sat and typed the words below I felt so proud (and still do). Living debt free is something I take very seriously. Being a semi-control freak, the thought of owing someone thousands of dollars gives me major anxiety. I also feel like living within your means is so important. It's something that our society doesn't talk much about. It's all about what life you are portraying and let's be real, the living off one salary, husband in school, driving the same car since you were 16 life isn't all that grand. 

I feel like I need to document this time in my life before it slips through my fingers and it's only a fleeting memory. A few weeks ago I paid all of my student debt. I know to some people that's no big deal, but to me, it's a huge deal. A weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I'm not going to sugar coat it - it was tough. Here is what my experience with student debt looked like. 

I graduated from Texas A&M University in December of 2011. In June of 2012 I was required to start paying back my debt. I consolidated all my loans and had a total of $36,000. This quickly grew within the first few months because of consolidated interest (whatever that is). I was rapidly up to the 40k mark. I was living at home with my rents at the time with a random handful of jobs. No really, I was a sub at the school I grew up in, I designed wedding stationery for brides, worked at a wedding venue coordinating events, you name it I probably did it. It's safe to say I was not, by any means, making good money. They originally told me my monthly pay was going to be around $450. I almost fell over. There was no way I could be living on my own paying that, so I guess it was a good thing I had decided to stay with my parents for a while. Then I decided I should do a graduated payment plan and got the payments down to $235 dollars a month - much more reasonable for a freelancer with hardly any steady income. 

A bit later that year I took my first salaried job and moved to Dallas. I knew that I would eventually have to start making more than the minimum payment or I would never get those suckers down. Whenever I would look at my monthly bill I would get so depressed because I was literally only paying on the interest. The numbers were not shrinking. I decided then and there I was going to have to get serious about it. 

"Last month, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported that student loan balances rose to $1.16 trillion and that 11.3 percent of that is in delinquency – that is, not being paid back. The New York Fed is worried that this debt is preventing students from becoming self-sufficient adults who can live on their own." -

After a job change I was making a decent paycheck each month and starting saving a good amount of money to put towards my loans. I had consolidated 11 loans total in the beginning and my plan was to knock them out individually (even though they were consolidated). I would save up enough money until i could pay off a loan in it's entirety. I had loans ranging from anywhere from 6k to 2k (they were always in flex due to interest). I slowly but surely started knocking them out - targeted the ones with the higher interest rates first. I would say on average I was putting aside at least $1,500 a month to my loans. It seems like a lot, but it was worth it. I ended up paying my loans off May 18, 2015. After doing the math I figured I paid a little over $40,000 in the span of just over two years. That is crazy to think about. 

I know this isn't possible for everyone - like I said, I was blessed with a decent paying job, no car payment, and relatively low living expenses. 

It is such a good feeling. I sit here writing 100% debt free. woo-hoo.

what's your jam?

Everyone has those albums that just get them motivated, like put your head down and work for hours, motivated. Here are a few of my all time favorite jams to work to. *Warning: a lot of these (actually all of them) are high school jams and I just can't seem to cut the cord.  

I'm pretty well known as one of those "song-skippers." I can't usually listen to an entire song, much less an entire album. Not with these guys, though. They are the tried & true. All of them bring back all of the high school feelings. I love it. 

I'd love to hear what music really gets you pumped. Share your working jams with me! 

I cried over where to eat lunch.

Sometimes life is overwhelming. Sometimes I cry when I don't know what else to do. It was a rainy day and my fella and I were headed to eat lunch before he left to go home. Lately I've been much better about keeping my anxiety in check, but it was rearing it's ugly head this particular day and there wasn't much I could do about it. 

We drove around for a bit and I was getting so irritated over nothing. Literally nothing. He was trying to be sweet and let me have a say in where we ate lunch, but for some reason this particular decision was exhausting me. 

After a bit of driving around, we pulled into a shopping center. He dropped me off at this new place we had been wanting to try. I stood there for a few minutes and watched as everyone watched me. No one came up to greet me. After a few minutes I waltzed myself over to table and grabbed a menu to check out. My poor fella joined me and still no one came up to greet us. That was that - we were definitely not eating there. 

I walked out of the restaurant and started crying. Really though, I stood there crying in the rain over where to eat lunch. 

All of that to say, life is hard sometimes. Just remember no one is perfect (even if their instagram looks like it). Life will be okay, even if it's not at that exact moment. It will be, He told me so.  After all, It's only lunch. 

transitions + circles co.

There's a lot of transitioning happening in my life right now. I left my nice marketing job and I feel semi-guilty about it. It was all packaged so nicely, tied with ribbons of health insurance and a 401k plan, but I just wasn't creatively fulfilled. I didn't wake up each morning chomping at the bit to get to work. Don't get me wrong, the people are great, such an amazing group of architects, but that alone cannot fill one's creative soul.

Something needed to change. I needed the change, desperately.

As of today, I am working with Circles Co. full-time and pursuing my career as a freelance designer. I have toyed with both of these ideas for quite some time now. It's a scary, yet totally satisfying, transition.

Here's to new & exciting things! 

the war of art.

"Resistance cannot be seen, touched, heard, or smelled. But it can be felt. We experience it as an energy field radiating from a work-in-potential. It's a repelling force. It's negative. Its aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work."

"The war of art - break through the blocks and win your inner creative battles"  by Steven Pressfield

That is how I feel about a lot of things in my life. For example, I've worked and reworked my website ten thousand times and it never seems just right. I know what I want it to look like and what I want it to accomplish, but that resistance kills me every stinkin' time. I struggle with thoughts of insecurity that my blog won't be as cool as some of my favorite bloggers out there. (like this one, this one, or this one)

So, I went online and bought this Emily McDowell print because, well, that is what I do. Plus, it describes my thoughts for the last few months.

Sometimes I let my insecurities completely paralyze me. I subconsciously think if I don't do anything at all it is better than trying and failing. I read blog after blog about how to blog and how to make your presence on the web a good one, etc. but when is enough enough? When is it time to just do it? (Also, isn't it crazy that reading a blog about blogging is even a thing?)

That time is now. right now. This is the real deal. I've promised myself not to sugarcoat things or stage thoughts/places/feelings that aren't real. If my desk looks like WWII, well that is what I will show you. I'm like every other creative out there, I have my ups and my downs. I have days that I simply don't want to freelance and stare at my screen at all, then I have days I power through hours of design time. The struggle is real, y'all and we are all in this together, right?