Personal finances: This is where I begin

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I’ve wanted to write about this for a while because it’s a huge part of my life, but I just haven’t had the courage to put it all down. I really enjoy reading and learning from other people’s personal finance journeys, so I wanted to start sharing my own in the hopes of accountability and inspiration for others in a similar situation.

My personal finances are, let’s say, less than desirable. I’ve always worked two jobs and paid all my bills, but I’ve never been someone who saves and I just now, as in less than a year ago, started to contribute to my 401K. I also have a lot of debt, both student loans and credit cards. I’ve basically spent my 20s living paycheck to paycheck and charging things when I ran out of money.

I know a lot of people my age (I’m nearing the end of my 20s) are in the same boat. Some people are much better off than I am and some are much worse off, but I think a lot of us millenials have found ourselves somewhere in the middle. We aren’t quite destitute, but we definitely aren’t thriving. I think the statistic is something like most Americans don’t even have enough money saved for a $1,000 emergency.

I graduated from college in 2010 with about $30,000 in student loans. I paid diligently on my loans for three years until I decided to go back to graduate school in 2013. Then they went into deferment for the next two years while I was racking up another $30,000 in loans for graduate school.

Clearly, not the best laid out plan, but I was determined to go to graduate school and move to a bigger city. You can read more on my graduate school journey here. I can’t say it was all for nothing because I got a job that literally doubled my salary after going to grad school. I also plan to use my advanced degree to teach down the line.

And as always, hindsight is 20/20. Would’ve, could’ve, should’ve doesn’t really do much for me now, which brings me to this post.

There’s no sense in looking back and wishing things would have been done differently. What’s done is done. Now, I’m just focused on getting out of debt and to financial freedom.

So, this is where I begin. It seems impossible some days, but other days I’m so motivated to just commit to paying it off. I’m following a modified version of Dave Ramsey’s debt snowball method as well as taking some advice from a few other personal finances books.

Thanks for following along!

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My winter skin care favorites

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My skin this time of year is a disaster. The cold winter weather and the constant heat indoors just suck every drop of moisture out of it. My face gets so dry that my skin is literally flaking off. It seems like no amount of exfoliating and moisturizing ever fully gets rid of it, but I have found a few products over the past year that make a big improvement.

I went to Sephora and bought a value set with three Ole Henriksen products a couple of months ago. It had a cleanser, a serum and a moisturizer. I also bought an Ole Henriksen exfoliator, too.

I wanted to share them with you in case you might be looking for some relief, too. I’ve found that higher-end skin care is worth it and that’s reflected in my recommendations here. I can make drugstore makeup work and often times it is just as good, but skin care products are something I’m willing to spend a little extra on to get better results.

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Cleansers

Clarisonic Mia: This was a gift to me from my sister. I’d always wanted one, but was hesitant to pay the roughly $130 price tag. This is honestly a game-changer when it comes to cleansing. My skin feels so great after using it and you can really tell a difference if you use it daily. They make all kinds of brush heads from sensitive to deep cleansing.

Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser: I use this cleanser every morning. It’s gentle and doesn’t strip the skin. Nothing fancy, no artificial scents and is ideal for normal to oily skin.

Ole Henriksen Face the Truth Gel Cleanser: I love the smell of this cleanser. All of the Ole Henriksen products I got smell citrusy. This is a great cleanser that I usually use at night. It’s a great precursor to the other two products for overnight moisture.

Boscia Makeup Breakup Cool Cleansing Oil: I love using a cleansing oil to remove makeup in the winter. They’re gentle, hydrating and work so well and loosening tough eye makeup. I’ve also used the L’Occitane Shea Cleansing Oil and it works great, too.

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Exfoliators

For me, exfoliation is key in my winter skin care routine. Unless I buff off all that flaking then no moisturizer will ever be able to fully do its job.

Kate Somerville ExfoliKate: This product is ridiculously expensive, but I’ve had it once as a free sample and then I received a full size in my last Fab Fit Fun box. I love a really gritty exfoliator and this one is just that. It’s a physical and enzyme exfoliating treatment, so it really gets the job done.  You leave it on for two minutes while it works its magic and then scrub to remove.

Ole Henriksen Moment of Truth 2-in-1 Polishing Sugar Mask: This is another mask and treatment, but you leave this one on for 10 minutes and it uses sugar as the exfoliating agent.

Moisturizers

Moisturizers

Ole Henriksen The Truth Serum: I use this serum as the first layer of moisture in the morning and evening after cleansing and exfoliating, but before any cream moisturizer.

Ole Henriksen the truth advanced moisturizing crème: I use this as my night time moisturizer. This combined with the serum leave me skin so supple. It isn’t dry when I wake up and makes my skin look glowing. I’m not exaggerating when I say that.

Origins GinZing Eye Cream: This eye cream is the best. It has brightening properties that makes my eyes look so much more awake. I use it at night and sometimes in the morning if I really need a boost or I’m not going to wear makeup. This little pot will last forever because you only need the tiniest bit.

 

Saying goodbye to 2017

It’s been a while since I’ve written a post and I never know how to jump back into it after such a long silence. Even though we’re into the second week of the year already, I still wanted to put up a couple 2017 round-up posts. They’re such a nice way to look back on everything. Going back through my posts I noticed I never did one for 2016, so I wanted to make sure I did one for 2017. It seems the years are just flying by faster and faster and I can’t keep up.

So, here are a few highlights from 2017:

Getting Married

This was hands down the best day of my life so far. I’ve never had a day so full of love, excitement, anticipation and pure joy. Everything went perfectly and I have wanted to relive it again and again since it ended. We loved it so much we’re already talking vow renewal in a few years. See wedding recaps and tops of photos here, here and here.

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Honeymooning in Niagara Falls

Neither of us had ever been to Niagara Falls and it was the perfect honeymoon spot. It’s hard to find a place where neither of us has been, so it was fun to experience everything there for the first time. We definitely want to go back. See a full post here.

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Seeing Chris Stapleton live

This was one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. He sounded amazing and just like his record. Even though it rained and soaked us within the first 5 minutes of getting there, it stopped when he took the stage and ended up being an awesome night.concert

Visiting Las Vegas for the first time

I have wanted to go to Las Vegas since—no joke—I was a child. I used to play blackjack with my dad when I was in elementary school. My grandpa once brought me back a used deck of cards from the Golden Nugget and I cherished them like they were made of actual gold. So, needless to say, getting to experience Vegas was a dream come true. We visited all the big casinos and hotels, played a million slot machines, saw an Elvis impersonator, saw Thunder from Down Under and saw Arcade Fire in concert.

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On top of our hotel (the Stratosphere)

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Totally freaking out about eating at a Gordon Ramsay restaurant (The Pub & Grill inside Caesar’s Palace) and drinking his favorite beer, Innis and Gunn

Vegas 3Heading out to Thunder from Down Under

Favorite fall & winter lip colors

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I love a good vampy lip color once the air gets crisp. Something about throwing on a sweater, some boots and a dark lip just feels so right once October rolls around. I wanted to share some of my favorites with you in case you might be looking for a new lip color for fall. Hopefully you’ll find some inspiration for your own fall makeup lineup.

The colors are listed in order from left to right in the photo and swatches.

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Maybelline Matte Lipstick in the shade “Divine Wine.” This is the perfect deep burgundy shade. I discovered this color about two years ago on a whim. The best part is it’s totally affordable and has really great staying power.

Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in the shade “Cherries in the Snow.” This is a great pinky red. It’s definitely the brightest of my favorites, but sometimes you need that pop of color once the gray days hit in January. I also LOVE the formula of these lipsticks. They are so easy to apply and the colors are opaque.

Too Faced Melted Matte Liquid Lipstick in the shade “Lady Balls.” This is the best classic red color I’ve ever found. And the matte formula of these lipsticks stays put all day. It’s on the pricier side at around $24, but it’s worth it.

Too Face Melted Liquid Lipstick in the shade “Fig.” This is my favorite true plum shade. It’s got a beautiful blue undertone and shows up a great purple color. This formula stays put pretty well (not as well as its matte counterpart), but can bleed and slide around a little if you are eating/drinking.

NYX Epic Ink Lip Dye in the shade “Heartbreaker.” I actually wore this shade on my wedding day, mixed with liner and gloss. It’s a great lip stain. Stains can be tricky to apply, but if you do some research and perfect your technique, they can be the best long-wearing lip color. This shade in a particular is a great magenta color.

What lip formulas and brands are your favorites this season? I’m always looking for suggestions. I hope your fall days are filled with apple cider, pumpkins and cozy sweaters!

 

 

Wedding Photos: Ceremony & details

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I love that our photographer got some great shots of the little details of the day. From the handkerchief that was carried by my mom, grandmother and great-grandmother to the special perfume I chose (Miss Dior Absolutely Blooming) to the handmade signs.

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Our ceremony is such a blur in my mind. I was so nervous/excited/happy/trying not to cry that the entire thing feels so foggy. Eric said he feels the same way. We were on our honeymoon and we both admitted we can’t remember all of what was said during the ceremony because we were so nervous.

The bridesmaids and flower girl walked down the aisle to Cannon D and I walked down to the traditional bridal march. Everything went so smoothly. My four-year-old niece rocked it as the flower girl. The whole ceremony probably last about 20 minutes or so. We just did the traditional wedding vows instead of writing our own. Although our pastor was Christian, we had a mostly non-religious and non-denominational ceremony.

Since everything was done in the same venue, we walked out to the bridal recessional and the bridal party took their seats. Then we waited for the pastor to announce us as husband and wife and we walked in and immediately went into our first dance. We chose the song “Sanctuary” from the show Nashville.

It was perfect and I finally shed a few tears of joy and relief that all the pressure was off and we were finally married.

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The final chapter of the wedding recap, the reception, is up next.