Friday, December 28, 2012

What Do I Want to Be When I Grow Up

For 2013, I'm going to get more active in a career path.  I'll admit it.  I haven't been that adamant about finding what it is I want to be when I grow up.  Even in college, I didn't have a clue.  I took useless classes that made me take the Meyers Briggs Type Indicator test, the Holland's Social Code, and I spent countless hours in the Career Development Center talking with advisors and looking through their library.  Then I thought I wanted to get into social media and marketing... but really, it isn't what suits my fancy.  I actually like having an office job not in advertising or marketing.

I have a great opportunity where I work.  It is a newly created position.  I'm the first.  Right now, I'm managing social media sites, assisting in sales and event planning, putting together flyers and going to bridal shows, managing a website, and helping create new menus and handbills.  I've even written radio advertisements and press releases.  However, there is no job description, so it can get overwhelming at times since we don't technically know what my duties are.  It's mostly administrative work, which is fine.  I'm grateful that I have a job, I love my coworkers, and I can say I enjoy what I'm doing.  What's even more great is that I have control over what this position really entails.  I could take my career in any direction I want.  But that's the question... what do I need to be doing?  What is it that I'm called to do?

I've debated about going back to college to pursue a Master's - but I'm not even sure what I want to do. I get a little jealous sometimes because I see people my age or younger than me who are moving forward in their careers.  I recently spoke to my family this past weekend.  Everyone said the same thing:  I'm holding myself back.

How am I holding myself back and why?
What am I holding back from?
What more could I be doing?
What do I need to be doing?
What do I even want to do?

I have no idea.  I wish someone could point me in the right direction.  I'm clueless.  I know what I want in regards to a job - but I don't know what fit.  I know I want to have benefits.  I know I want to have a salary job.  I work 20 hours one week and 60 hours the next.  I like that flexibility and know I'll still be able to pay my bills.  Plus, I don't like having to stop in the middle of something to prevent going into overtime.  I hate sales and really don't like commission jobs.  I know right now I need some supervision, just to make sure I'm on the right track.  I like working in groups.  I don't mind having to work my way up from the bottom.  I like knowing that there could be a promotion or a raise for my hard efforts.

So, I'm really interested in hearing how people came to the conclusion of what they were going to do.  When did you realize what you wanted to do?  How did you choose it?  How did you know that it would make you happy?  When you first entered the workforce after graduating, how did you know where to look?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Beautiful Surprise!

I just had to share!

Travis and I have gone a long time without wedding bands.  Originally, we had some.  But because we were seriously budgeted and didn't invest in... um... quality - they both broke.  We didn't bother with buying another set because we didn't see it as a necessity.

The ring doesn't make the marriage, obviously.  But it is nice to have that reminder on your hand that you are loved, that you are special, that you are important to someone in this world.  It's a message to those you meet - saying you are committed through marriage.  It's beautiful.  It doesn't matter how much someone spends on a ring, it's the symbolism that matters.  Some women love to have the bling - and more power to them!  Others are happy with any style.  And some women, like me, prefer to have something small and simple.  I have really small hands, so while I may oogle over the big, gorgeous rings out there, they would not look right on my finger.

The average size ring for women is a 7.  My itty bitty hands - which are my grandmother's hands - contain a petite size of 3.  Any ring I get has to be sized or pre-ordered.  A lot of rings in the case cannot be sized down so far without damaging the ring or loosening the stones.  We figured my ring would naturally cost a lot of money.

On a whim, Travis and I were running errands today.  On our way home to have dinner, Travis turned down a random street.  Confused, I asked, "where are you going?"  His response was, "Oh, shoot, I made a wrong turn."  And he drove, with a cheesy grin on his face, into the parking lot of Will Jewelers.  We were going window shopping.  We agreed that this year for Christmas, we would buy each other wedding bands.  Nothing too expensive, nothing super fancy.  Just wedding bands.  So I knew instantly why we were stopping.

We went inside and the awesome sales rep, Kelly, helped us.  Before I picked out rings that I liked, I told her my budget.  $200 - nothing more because that's what we agreed to.  She came out with catalogs for me to look at and even pulled out an iPad that took me to a website to choose styles I liked.  We had decided on a sterling silver with cubic zirconia stones.  She went to the back to get more input from other jewelers and sales reps.  She came out with more catalogs to look through.  I was happy with a sterling silver & cubic zirconia ring.  We weren't planning on buying anything today anyways.  I was just showing Travis what I liked and then he could choose.  He also had the opportunity to look at rings for himself and showed me what styles he liked in our budget.

Then one of the jewelers himself came out to show me a ring.  His hands were dirty from cleaning and designing rings in the back and he had a white apron on.  This ring was pretty.  He told us, "A guy just gave this ring to me.  I was cleaning it up.  But, with your budget, I'll gladly clean it up and resize it for you for less than $200."  I put the ring on.  He went on to say, "It's 10 karat white gold with 3 diamonds in it.  Better than a sterling silver ring."  Travis asked me if I liked it.  I could tell he was super stoked.  It looked like it just fit my hand.  So... needless to say....  WE BOUGHT IT!

This was the best picture I could get of it.  The stones represent the Past, Present & Future.  It is perfect.    The jeweler managed to clean it up and resize it just for me within 2 hours!  Talk about serendipity with this ring!  I'm definitely going back to them to get Travis's ring.  I never had any luck with jewelry stores before.  They were always so rude.  Will Jewelers were so helpful, kind, and totally respectful.  On top of that - they gave us a GREAT deal!  I'm thrilled beyond means.

For anyone in the Fort Wayne area looking to buy a ring or any jewelry for the holidays, I highly recommend going to their Facebook page and submitting your love story.  They are giving away a $200 gift certificate every week and you will have an opportunity to read your love story in their upcoming radio commercial!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Friends & Break Ups

Breaking up is hard to do.  It's especially bittersweet when you are friends with the couple.  These past couple of days, Travis and I have witnessed 2 couples that we are close to break up.  I get sad every time it happens to our friends.  I feel like I should have been there more or done something to prevent it from happening.  But it is their life, they can make their own adult decisions - and besides, it's really none of my business.  After all, I have no idea what happens between them behind closed doors.

Someone gave me this great advice.  It's ok to vent to family and friends when you need to about your significant other.  It can be a positive thing.  My mother always puts me in my place when I am wrong. I love her for that.  Just remember, whoever you expose these negative things to - make sure they hear about all the good stuff, too.  Otherwise, they may be offering the WRONG advice because they only know what you tell them.

If your friend came up to you and told you about all these awful arguments she is having with her husband, over time you will tell her to leave him.  If it never changes and it hurts her, it could potentially be an abusive relationship or more harming than it would be to be single.  As a friend, you protect her.  But what if that friend exposed to you that they handled their disagreements by talking - or they went out on a date and it made her feel special - wouldn't you be more inclined to give her husband the benefit of the doubt?  There are always two sides to a story.

I watched both couples break up.  One couple handled it in the most mature manner that I have ever seen.  The other, it's just like a dramatic, high school break up.  The mature couple has made this situation much more comfortable - not just for us as friends coming to visit them - but for themselves as well!  We all helped my friend move out of the house - and everyone talked and carried on like we did before the break up.  I almost cried since she is such a good friend and she's moving out of town - but I know I'll see her again.  And both individuals are completely cool with Travis and I hanging out with the other.  There is no animosity or attacking on either person's part.  I have much more respect for the two of them for how they handled the situation.  It shows just how strong and intelligent they each are - and they are able to see the positive from this break up.

Oh Please....  ::eye roll::
The other couple are fighting over items in the apartment.  Mom got involved in the parking lot in front of the apartment.  A friend that doesn't even know one of the individuals got involved.  The two are texting each other mean comments simply just to hurt each other's feelings and belittle the other person.  One is on Facebook posting snarky things or stupid memes saying what defines a real relationship.  Each are playing the blame game.  It's not pretty.  They are even fighting over who gets to have the dog or who gets to have the dishes in the cabinet.  They are equally discrediting each other's feelings.  And in all honesty, one of those individuals we will possibly never speak to again simply because this person is being incredibly immature about us remaining friends with the other.  When do adults tell their friends who they can and cannot be friends with someone outside of their own circle?

It has made me view my own relationship with Travis in a different light.  I'm much more thankful that I have him.  If I vent to anyone about Travis for... I don't know... not doing a load of laundry, then I hope that person can stand up and say, "why can't you do it?" or "Was he busy doing something else?" I want that person I confide in to honestly give me a different perspective when I need it.  I trust their input - otherwise I would have never said anything.  I wouldn't want someone bashing on Travis just because I got frustrated.  I want that person to be honest and level my head so I don't blow up over something that doesn't really matter.

I hope that Travis has a friend to confide in whenever I upset him.  Instead of blowing up into a huge raging fight, I would want Travis to vent to someone who could give him a new perspective.  This friend could help him word things so that he can openly talk to me without saying the wrong thing.

Photo by Zoe
As the old saying goes, "it takes a village to raise a child" - sometimes, it takes friends/family to keep a relationship strong.  When a couple gets married, the audience is witnessing two individuals living a lifetime together through all the good and bad, the easy times and the hard times, through sickness and in health.  In many wedding traditions, it is common to hear a line directed at the congregation that is similar to this:  You are the witnesses to these vows now being made.  Will you do all in your power to support and uphold this marriage?  The congregation usually responds with "We Will."  Some ceremonies expand farther with this:

Celebrant:     You all have come here today not just to witness [Bride] & [Groom]'s love and devotion to each other, but to show your own love and support for them.  Our couple has asked that you join them in this wonderful moment in their lives, by taking your own vows.  If you agree, please answer with WE WILL!
Will you support [Bride] & [Groom] in their marriage?  

Guests:     We will.  

Celebrant:    If needed, will you listen and offer counsel in times of hardship?  

Guests:    We will.  

Celebrant:    Will you celebrate with them, encourage them, and remind them of this day?  

Guests:    We will.

There's a reason for this.  There is no shame in sharing with your friends and family the things that are troubling you in your relationship.  By all means, it's not ok to jump on Twitter or Facebook and expose your dirty laundry.  But it is ok to confide in someone, and as a member of that congregation, that someone has promised to offer you counsel and encouragement in your relationship.

I went on a little tangent, I know.  But these break ups have made me question how I represent Travis to others.  It's made me view our relationship differently.  And if things were to turn sour, I pray and hope that we could handle it like the mature couple simply out of respect of our relationship and out of respect for ourselves.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Discovering Our Roots

Ancient Gaelic Proverb

This post is going to be a little different than the previous ones.  Something I am very passionate about is genealogy.  I love discovering a part of who I am, where my family came from, how their lives crossed paths, and learning that I am not so different than my ancestors.  I love hearing stories about them.  I love the mystery.  And most of all, I love seeing my older relatives light up when talking about their childhood.  I could sit there all day and just absorb every word they say.

My very own
classic family photos
to come in this post!
I am pleased with my family.  My dad's side of the family has always kept great records of the family.  We can date back before my ancestors immigrated here.  My family even published a genealogical/historical book about my ancestors because they were so interesting.  One of my many great grandmothers was even written about in Jesse James's journal.  She treated runaways from war and crimes.  She had a talent for healing.  The deal was that they could stay in the barn until they healed, but then they had to leave.  She saved a lot of lives in that old barn out west.

My mother's side of the family have been known to save pictures, pass on photographs from the past, and even pass along many items from our ancestors down to younger generations.  My mom currently has a trunk FULL of cool stuff handed down to her by my grandmother.  Plus, many cousins, my aunt, and my mom have been very adamant about getting our genealogy.  It's been a real pleasure sharing with my family what we've all discovered.  Family reunions are all about sharing photographs of new ancestors we've discovered, sharing stories about our distant relatives we've found, and clarifying questions we all have about certain relatives.

Travis's side of the family has had some difficulty in tracing their family history.  Not going to lie, it's kind of like searching for a needle in a haystack.  Travis's grandmother was adopted, so it's not easy finding records of her mother and father.  Travis's grandfather on his father's side is getting older.  There are no other relatives his age still alive.  And when I talk to him about the family, he gets confused or lost in conversation sometimes.  Genealogy isn't always linear, so it's easy to get lost when talking.

My beautiful Greats.

Something I've always wanted to create are genealogical books about my family.  I want my children to know where they come from.  I'm proud of our ancestors.  And the more I learn about them, the more I wish I had known them because I grow to love them.  It's like falling in love with a character in a book, except this time, you know the character was once a living, breathing human being in this world in a another timeframe and that they are a part of you.

I haven't found the right albums yet to use.  I'm kind of picky because I want these suckers to last decades.  It'd be like scrapbooks that I can pass on to my children, they can pass on to their children, and so on.  I also thought about making a website for my family tree to help me keep track of information I find at the genealogical library, in microfilms, or from online forums.  That way, I can easily share this information with any of my family members.

My great-aunt Wanda with her brothers (my great-uncles).
I love this picture so much!
People tell me that's what is for - but to be honest, isn't 100% reliable.  People connect, share, and end up "barking up the wrong tree" as most genealogists would say.  Being a shared network is great because it opens up opportunities to connect with distance relatives and get more pictures and information about your ancestors than you would have ever gotten in books or research.  But there's a problem with this shared site.... People don't really know how to use it for appropriate genealogical research.  Say someone is looking for a man named Andrew Foster that was in the Civil War.  Can you guess how many men during that time were named Andrew Foster?  A LOT!  Just because you get a leaf about a person does not mean that is the person you are searching for.  PLUS, you get a lot of people writing LNU - meaning Last Name Unknown.  If you type that in for someone named Sylvia LNU - you are going to get a TON of Sylvia's that don't have a last name connected to them.  People get excited about that green leaf and accept every single thing listed for that person they think found for them - but then they find out that the person was married 4 times - once 10 years before they were born and another 3 years after they died; and they had 18 children, and 3 of those kids were born when the person was only 5 years old or not even born yet!  People don't always pay attention to those details, so it's easy to go "barking up the wrong tree" because it can be incredibly unorganized.  And I cannot tell you how many people I know are related to royalty through the King of France back in the 1400's and the woman that they stem from was his concubine.  I highly doubt that every person on is related to the EXACT same people.....  And the worst part is that this site isn't cheap - and there isn't anyone regulating genealogical research to help people find their true roots.  If you want that advice, you have to pay additional for it.  As someone that paid for the service, it really isn't that helpful.  They sell to you sometimes - trying to convince you to hire them to do the research for you.

The woman sitting down at the front right is Rebecca.
She is the Native American I was searching for.
My family found more information about her
through long distant cousins, older relatives,
a Native American chief and family friends
 than I ever found on
For example, I used this help option and paid for it because I wanted to find out more about my Native American great grandmother, Rebecca.  There is no information about her that I can find.  I was told by the "expert" that all Native American records are housed in Utah.  I had to go there to do research.  However, since I live in Indiana, I could just pay the expert so much money to do so many hours of research for me.  I think I'll save that money and head out to Utah myself where I can speak to genealogical experts there in person for free. isn't all that bad actually.  I found a long distant cousin that way.  However, don't believe everything you see.  Cross your T's and dot your i's.  Make sure it's the same person you are looking for.  The best way to get the right person is to work your way backwards.

Say you know the name of your grandfather's dad.  Start with his name and find out where the man is buried.  Grandpa more than likely knows!  You will get his birth date and death date from the headstone and if he was in the military forces, what type he was in.

Start with the death date and look for census records that co-orelate with your grandfather and the man you are searching for.  This will tell you where the man lived while your grandfather lived with him, who else lived with him and how old he was at the time of the census.

Here is the death certificate of my great-great grandmother Burzilla.
She is almost impossible to find because of her unique name.
Notice, her death certificate doesn't even provide her correct name.
Continue reading...

If you know his wife's name, which is probably on your grandfather's birth certificate, find the marriage certificate.

If there are any markings on the headstone for being in the military forces, find his military records.
My great-great-great grandpa "Andy" Foster was involved in the Civil War
but in a guerilla gang with the legendary Champ Ferguson.
Here is a copy of his military prison record.  He was a Confederate soldier.

Now that you have important documents to verify who it is you are searching for, search for a census record for every year the man was alive.  Start with the year he died and work your way backwards until he was born.  You will find his parents' names as well as his siblings, their ages, and where they lived.

The farther back you date your family, the harder it will be to find this information.  The headstone may not exist anymore.  If one does, you might not be able to read it (which is why you bring a paper and pencil to trace over the headstone).  If you still cannot read it, or no dates are listed on it, then you can resort to church records to find this information.  And don't forget, family friends are a resource!  We've met complete strangers that remembered our ancestors and told us stories and shared pictures of our own relatives.  It's amazing what family friends can provide about your own family.

Here is my great-great grandfather with his son (not my great grandfather).
This photo was given to me by this son's family line.

Another not-so-helpful tip - back in the day, not many people could read and write.  So names could possibly be spelled differently or entirely incorrect.  For example, my grandmother's name is Oleda.  It's spelled Oleta, Olida, and Oleda.  The one with the d is actually correct, but I research all spellings.  Another example is my great-great grandmother - whose headstone reads "Sylvia."  However, her name was Zilpha.  My family didn't have the money to change her headstone with the correct name.  With a deep southern accent, Zilpha sounded like Sylvia - and her nickname Zilph sounded like Jeff.  Totally confusing - but always be open to unique spellings of names and talk to family and friends about these individuals to find the correct names.  Remember, family knows best.  In the case of remembering those who have passed - your family will know who you should be researching.
Here is a great picture that my great-aunt Wanda gave to my mother
who then passed on a copy to me.  This is one of my favorite pictures
of my great-aunt Juanita with her husband, my great-uncle Keith
from when they were my age currently.
It's time consuming, but you will know first hand that the people you are tracing are your own flesh and blood.  Not someone who happens to have the same name....

If anyone has any questions about researching genealogy, feel free to ask me.  I love it - and I'll love to help in any way I can.  I don't know everything about genealogical research, but I know who to ask and where to go to help find that information.

For my birthday, people bought me gifts that would contribute to my genealogical albums.  I cannot tell you how excited I am.  It's going to take some time because I have about 1000 or more photographs to scan to put into these albums.  Then I have to organize all of my information into a legible book/scrapbook/documentation about each individual with photographs.  It's not going to be easy - but it will be so much fun!  I can't wait to get crackin'.

P.S.  If someone shares with you a professional picture - you cannot get a copy made at CVS, Wal-Mart or any other photo lab.  They require documentation from the photographer saying it is ok for you to make copies of the picture.  I know, it's ridiculous when you have a professional picture from 1880, but it's the rules to prevent copyright and to protect photographers.  As my mother put it when they denied her access to copy photos, she asked, "What do you want me to do?  Go dig him up?"  Haha - sorry mom, it's the rules.  You'll have to scan those and print them out at home.

This photo of one of my greats could not be printed
through a photo lab without permission
from the original photographer.

I'll end this post there as I could go on forever talking about my family history.  I am so excited to start putting my "Family Volumes" together.  It's going to take a while before it will be "perfect" enough to share with all of you.  Please be patient with me.  EEKK!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Why Did My Credit Score Drop?

I have been doing very well with my budget.  My bills are being paid on time with a little extra.  Our debt is gradually dropping.  I checked my credit score, and I was shocked by what I saw... My credit score DROPPED!

Immediately, I began searching for any bills that I had not paid.  I couldn't figure it out.  Why did my credit score drop?  I found nothing!  I felt like crying.  All that hard work for absolutely nothing positive!  Travis had no idea what happened.  Let's just say, I freaked out.  I began thinking that nothing good is going to happen for us.  I began thinking that we'll never own a home.  I began thinking what's the point in even trying to pay off my debt - it won't help me anyways.

A few friends of mine know a lot about credit scores, mortgages, loans, and business-y stuff.  One night, while we were all hanging out having a few drinks, I brought it up to them.  I asked them, "How do people do it anymore?  Why is it my credit score drops when I do everything right?"  They started asking me a few really smart questions that I would have never thought of.

The greatest debt I have is student loans.  The credit cards are really nothing.  When I confessed to my friends how much I owe each month to student loans, it was roughly 60% of our net income.  Yup, that's right.  We pay 60% of our take home pay to student loans.  Because our credit card debt is so low, it's actually not a negative thing since we pay it off each month with a little bit of roll-over.

Your credit score is actually affected by your income to debt ratio.  I did not know that!  While we sat here thinking that if we paid off my student loans within 10 years, it would be better for us and that my credit score would improve.  Nope, it sure doesn't.  Your debt needs to be AT THE MOST 40% of your net income.  To qualify for better interest rates, your debt needs to be about 30% of your net income.  If your debt is over 40% of your net income, it reflects negatively on your credit score.  So even though we are paying off my student loans at the lowest current rates they offer for a 10-year repayment plan and paying off the principle, it doesn't increase my credit score.  Sure, we'd be saving more money in the long run... but it isn't helping us now get our footing in the real world.

If I increase my repayment plan to 20 or 30 years, it will boost my credit score and give us lower monthly payments.  It could possibly boost my credit score enough to qualify for a mortgage.  I brought up consolidating my loans... is that a good thing or a bad thing?  In my situation, it would be bad.

Because I am pretty well organized with my student loans, consolidating would not do me any justice.  It would negatively affect my credit score.  I have a variety of different student loans - some at low interest rates and some at high interest rates.  Consolidating would give me a higher interest rate than majority of my student loans.  The best decision for me is to keep them separate, pay the minimum balance, and then use what I have left to pay off the principle on my highest interest rate loans.  Consolidating would cause me to pay about the same or significantly more than if I just keep them separate and first pay off the higher interest rates in comparison to the principle balance for each.

So there you have it.  To help your credit score and prevent it from dropping, you must keep your debt at or below 40% of your net income.  If that means pushing my student loans off to a 20 or 30 year plan, then so be it.  It will definitely benefit us more than paying off the student loans right away.  After all, we still have our 10 year plan to paying them off - it just shows on paper that we plan to have it paid off in 20-30 years, showing that we are more financially responsible and trustworthy with our credit.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Feeling Down: Update

Due to our low income and lack of health insurance, I went to the local Neighborhood Health Clinic yesterday morning.  I was very pleased with my visit.  My nurse practitioner knew exactly what I was talking about.  Why that is such a relief, I don't know.  Normally, when asked why am I being seen, I have to explain that I have two birth defects.  When I say Intestinal Malrotation, I get confused looks and am asked, "what is that?"  It's not very comforting to hear medical providers have to ask ME - the patient - what is Intestinal Malrotation.  It's actually scary and makes me worried that I'm not going to get appropriate care.  I've seen doctors answer my questions with shrugs and "I don't know".

First, when I went in, the Medical Assistant was new.  I'm totally cool with working with new people.  They have to start somewhere, and I'm very patient with them because I understand what that's like.  She was very sweet.  Her biggest obstacle was the computer to enter information into - and the program looked complex so I can't blame her for taking a while.  Hey, at least she wasn't poking me with a needle!  In Bloomington, I had a new EMT practice putting an IV in my arm....  about 45 minutes to an hour of agonizing pain in my left arm!!  But hey, they gotta learn some time to save another person's life!  I'll be a guinea pig.

This nurse practitioner asked ME the questions.  When I told her where my pain was, she began asking me the important questions.  When I told her where the pain was located, she began asking me if I had other conditions that could be causing the pain - such as kidneys, pancreas, appendix, or my right ovary.  She asked me if I had acid reflux, and when I said yes and told her what I took for it (Gaviscon for those who are interested in awesome heartburn and acid reflux relief - it's great!  I recommend it!) - she was able to explain to me what she thought was happening.  I felt relieved that someone at least had a hypothesis!

***Warning: Gross, TMI part!  Details are important, but if you are sensitive to gross details, skip this part***

My nurse practitioner asked me some important questions that I think others who experience Intestinal Malrotation pain should know.  So I am going to share those with you.  First, she asked if I was constipated.  I said yes.  She asked how long had I been constipated.  I told her it ranges, probably on and off for 3-4 days, sometimes more, sometimes less.  This had her concerned.  She asked if my stools were hard.  I said, no they are soft.  She explained that constipation usually involves stools being hard.  Since mine were not, she asked about the size of my stools.  I told her they are very thin.

The nurse practitioner then asked if the pain I have been experiencing felt like burning.  I said no.  It feels like something is stuck.  It feels full.  And she asked if I had pain after eating.  Immediately, I said yes.  My husband was with me simply because I was in so much pain I couldn't drive well.  He and I have witnessed everything together, so we are totally cool with discussing such details with each other.  And because of my condition, he'll ask me occassionally about these details if he notices anything abnormal.  There have been times when I've been in the hospital that I was seriously drugged up on pain meds that he's had to speak on my behalf, or I've been unconscious from pain that he's had to speak on my behalf.  Anyways, this is when he stepped in and said that when I eat, my stomach automatically swells while I'm eating.  By the time I've finished eating, I look 3-4 months pregnant (and we know because I was at one point in time!).  I told my NP that I get extremely tired after eating.

She asked me about nausea, and I said yes.  I always feel like I'm going to vomit.  Because I have not, my NP said that my bowels have not twisted, but they could be positioned awkwardly.  My NP said that if the pain persists and I do vomit, I should go to the ER immediately. However, she said that something is causing a small block, and that's making it painful.

She asked me about gas - have I been passing gas more frequently or burping more frequently.  I said yes.  She thinks that my Intestinal Malrotation and my acid reflux are working against each other and creating more pain.  She believes that I could be experiencing a common side effect with Intestinal Malrotation relating to Intestinal Peristalsis - meaning that something could be preventing my digested food from moving through my intestines.

Because of my symptoms and history, the NP prescribed me Docusate to help with constipation.  So far, I have been taking 2 a day as prescribed - and while I am passing stools - it feels like my freaking miscarriage.  It hurts so much, I can't even work or sleep.  Not going to lie, I've been back and forth to the bathroom, crying every time.  I'll be in there for over an hour with little or no luck.  Who gets laxatives and still can't poop?  I guess, people like me....

***OK, we've passed the gross part.  YOU CAN READ NOW!***

Because my pain is in the upper abdomen and along the right side of my abdomen, it can be difficult or time consuming to find exactly what is causing the pain.  So many important organs fall along the right side of the body, and with patients that have Intestinal Malrotation, their intestines are included on that right side.  The Neighborhood Health Clinic cannot do x-rays on the spot.  So I have to wait until Thursday to get abdominal x-rays.  It takes about a week for her to receive the x-rays, so I have another appointment with her that following Thursday.  She's going to collect my medical records and review what procedures I have had done already, and see what tests and procedures I should do now after she reviews my x-rays.

I'm very lucky I have a job that is flexible with me.  I've still managed to pop into work once in a while.  I worked half a day yesterday, even though I was in pain.  Everyone told me not to bother working today.  My father-in-law has been very sweet about it.  He's been making sure I'm still OK, checking on me once in a while.  He brought me icecream last night, but I was in such pain I couldn't eat.

Travis has been my rock - as always.  I love him so much.  He's been taking care of me every second he can.  I don't know what I'd do without him.  Last night, I cried for so long.  Here I have a degree, but with my condition I can't have a career.  I can barely work with this kind of pain.  Here, I have so much in student loans to pay back, but I can't even use my degree.  Hell, I can't even find a good job with my degree.  And I told Travis I feel guilty.  I've put us in debt to have a degree.  I was the reason we were in medical debt.  And here I am... I can't even offer a good paying job to help cover expenses and give us a quality life - a normal life.  All I want is to be content and normal.  With my condition, how on Earth will I be able to have kids?  I can't just take a day, two days, or a week off of being a mother.  He can't do it all alone.  I feel so completely responsible for the stress we are under and the debt we currently have.

I do have hope.  Today, I was able to finally purchase health insurance for 6 months.  I researched health insurance for pre-existing conditions and I found one through MultiPlan.  My plan is only $117 a month.  I have no lifetime limit.  For pre-existing conditions, anything that costs $0-$10,000 is covered up to 70%, with the maximum that I would be required to pay is $3,000.  Between $10,000 - $15,000, it is covered 80/20, with the maximum that I would be required to pay at $4,000.  From $15,000 to $2 million, it is covered 100%.  For anything that is not pre-existing, I have a $50 co-pay, and for health and sickness visits, I get 3 for 6 months.  My health insurance is covered through STAR Financial.  On top of that, most hospitals, doctors and specialists in Fort Wayne will accept this plan.  No procedures or treatments will be denied coverage.  However, I was required to get life insurance, which is included in my $117/month plan.  My life insurance is through Fidelity.  Can't say I won't need it... after all, Travis and I combined almost died 4 times during our relationship - so who knows! lol It couldn't hurt.

If you have a pre-existing condition and are looking for a plan similar to mine, I would recommend calling 1-866-421-7010 to get a quote.  The individuals I spoke to are Chuck and Yvonne.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Feeling Down

Recently, a couple of people I know personally told me that they loved reading my blogs.  WHO KNEW?  I didn't think anyone really read them, so I stopped blogging back in August.

This is my confession.  I'm lazy.  Let's just be honest here.  If I don't have to do it, I won't do it.  Unfortunately, such a vice is more hazardous than enjoyable.  It's definitely my biggest sin... SLOTH.  It sounds terrible.  It's not an attractive trait at all.  And I've realized it's a habit that's making me unhappy with life.

I think what happened to me was that I settled in my disappointments about my life.  I focused on the negative.  I look at our bills every month and look at our income, and I cry.  I think of the amazing apartment we had in Bloomington, the joys of being free to roam, and seeing my friends and family randomly at my door every single day.  I loved it.  We had our furniture, whether it was hand-me-downs or purchased, and we were happy.  We had our privacy.  We had our alone times.  Travis and I really loved being just the two of us.  And then I look at where we are today...

I love our family.  They have been incredibly supportive.  We'd be homeless if it weren't for our generous and loving family.  I've been blessed.  But it breaks my heart every day to see our income is less than it was before moving to Fort Wayne, our monthly bills are the exact same amount as when we lived in Bloomington, we've sold a good portion of our furniture, and we pretty much live in a bedroom at my father-in-law's and my grandfather-in-law's home with the rest of our items stored in a friend's warehouse.  This is not where I expected to be 10 months after moving to Fort Wayne to pursue our life together.

Being a recent graduate, I'm scared.  I'm scared that Travis and I will never afford a home of our own.  I'm scared that I'll never have the career to support my family.  I get frightened when applying for jobs - as silly as it is - because I'm afraid I don't know what I'm doing or how to sell myself to a potential employer.  After all, what experience do I have to offer?  I'm intimidated by the amazing talent that my fellow peers have.  And most of all, I'm scared about my health.

Ok, ok, I know, tons of people have heard the story.  I have birth defects.  Intestinal Malrotation (IM) and Bicornuate Uterus (BU).  With no health insurance, I don't go to a doctor like I should... like I need to.  We just cannot afford it right now to go as often as I need to and to pay for the medications and treatments I need.  What makes it worse is the pain.  It hits me out of the blue.  And when it does, I cannot do anything.  It's paralyzing.  If I had the money to afford medications and regular treatment, I wouldn't be in such pain.  We've tried applying for MedicAid, but I have to be disabled or pregnant.  We've tried applying for the Healthy Indiana Plan, but we were told it'd be 2 years before I could receive insurance since the waitlist is so long.  Previously, when I applied for insurance on my own, I was given a quote, then told I was denied.  Fingers crossed, Travis may have a job at a local popcorn factory that would give us insurance.  If he gets the job (which I'm confident he will), we'd have a 90 day period to wait before we can finally have insurance through his job.  I'm counting down the days....

These past 24 hours have been pretty agonizing.  My IM and GERD have been giving me a lot of pain and issues.  I noticed something wasn't right last month.  When I called the local Neighborhood Clinic to schedule an appointment, they said there wasn't any openings for over a week.  When the receptionist asked for the reason behind my visit, I told her I had no idea if it was my IM or GERD giving me such terrible pain.  I don't know what's going on.  She scheduled an appointment for me for tomorrow morning.  We're taking money out of our emergency fund for my visit tomorrow.  I can't wait any longer to find out what's happening.  We will see what's going on with my innards tomorrow.  I'll keep my followers posted.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Boosting Credit

I've basically come to the conclusion that I should not take credit advice from anyone that does not handle credit on a daily basis.  We had been struggling to boost our credit for a long time.  See, the reason why we chose to seek out a professional to review our credit report is because we didn't know a single thing about how credit actually works.  Because everyone's credit is different, rules change.  What would boost my credit may not boost your credit... in fact, it could potentially hurt it.  However, something I do that hurts my credit score could be exactly what you could use to boost yours.  Plus, there are a million grey areas when it comes to credit scores.  How much does getting an Old Navy credit card actually affect your credit?  When applying for a job that asks to see your credit report, does it affect your credit positively, negatively, or does it stay stagnant?  Does a Victoria's Secret credit card affect your credit score more than a mortgage?  If you pay off your debt entirely, is that actually going to boost your score?  The answers are always different depending on your own credit history.

For example, I was trying to figure out how to quickly boost my credit score.  I was at a mid-500 range.  I couldn't figure out why it was not going up when I was paying my bills on time!  A friend suggested I get a small retail credit card to boost my score.  Sure enough, when I applied for a credit card at NY & Co., I got denied.  AND it didn't help my credit score at all!

I decided to get a free trial through Score Sense.  For one week, I gave the online credit checker a try!  And to my surprise, I really liked it.  Score Sense shows you how your credit score changes over time on a very simple and easy to read graph.

It sends you an e-mail when there is a new alert  -  which is great for preventing identity theft.  It tells you the moment there are any changes on your credit report.  My first alert was on August 1st.  It told me that my credit score improved because I paid off medical debt.  It also told me that out of the three credit agencies (TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax), TransUnion was the one to update this first.

There is a ScoreCast, which allows you to see how your current score will be affected.  For example, if I paid off all of my credit cards completely, my credit will increase dramatically.  However, if I paid off my student loans completely, my credit score will increase the same amount as if I paid off my credit card debt entirely.  It helps you prioritize what areas you need to focus on to improve your credit score.

And there is a Dispute Center which helps you dispute errors on your credit report.

To top it off, Score Sense has a help line that you can call to ask questions about things you do not understand on your credit report.

As a couple striving to own a home some day, Travis and I are really thankful to have total access 24/7 to our credit report and credit score.  I highly recommend it.

I still believed that I needed assistance in understanding and monitoring my credit score.  Travis and I want a home of our own.  I turned to Kari Peters, who is a mortgage loan originator here in town.  She knows her stuff.  She has given us so many tips and constructive advice that has helped Travis and I boost our credit score in hopes of owning a home.  She is the person helping us get to a point where we can actually buy a house.  Did you know that there are free forms that you can fill out and mail that WILL boost your credit score?  I didn't either!  Kari started a new blog just to offer tips, crack credit report myths, and give advice to anyone needing home-buying/home-owning advice.  Check out her blog for exclusive tips and tricks to boost your credit, too!  Her blog is Ft. Wayne's Mortgage Minder.

I hope these resources help you just as much as they have helped me!  If you have any other sources that you use that have helped you understand and boost your credit score, feel free to share them in the comments!  I'd love to know where these hidden gems are!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Bumps in the Road

Trying to become established in this kind of job market and economy has really proven to me to be a vicious circle.  I feel so stuck sometimes.  Here I am, working full time for no benefits - but with a chance to move up in the company.  I don't really have any idea where this is going to take me and for how long I will have to work before I get advanced.  I know two women in the company have been waiting to retire, but they have been so short-staffed and overworked, that the possibility to retire is not available to them.... That is until I arrived.  So I am being trained for their jobs.  But with my previous work experience and with my degree, I have no idea where I am going since other opportunities are arriving every day.  I'd hate to say it because I love everyone I work with, but all of my coworkers have told me this regularly:  I'm over-qualified for all the jobs in this company.  I have to agree.  However, I'll do whatever I need to in this economy to build my experience for a better future for my family.

Travis is working hard in school.  He finished his math class 2 weeks early, which is no surprise to me. He loves math.  It's his Art History class that he can't seem to grasp.  I guess that is the engineer in him. Luckily, his fall semester is mostly math and science.  Travis also got a manager position part-time to work around his school schedule at a place that specializes in kayaking, boating, hiking, and extreme sports (mostly water sports).  Throughout the summer, they have a variety of sporting events.  I know Travis will love this.

I cannot lie and say that I'm extremely happy with where we are.  My student loans are going to get more expensive and I am not sure we can afford it.  Paying off the credit cards has become an endless feat.  We still have one more medical bill to pay off, granted it is only $500.  Some people may think we are careless with money because my credit isn't that great.  My credit has been hit multiple times for multiple reasons.  First, when I was sick, the medical debt almost destroyed my 680 credit score.  I have only had 1 credit card my entire life, and the max amount on it was $500.  I had to use it to pay rent one month, so it maxed out.  I tried to get another credit card to use only for gas so that I could increase my credit... but I was denied.  Travis only has one credit card, and it's debt is only $200.  When Travis and I were seeing opportunities with his company and he was promised a promotion, we began house hunting because Travis's credit score was great.  Due to my student loans and our limited income, we qualified for $70,000.  Not long after that, Travis was laid off.  So, needless to say, we didn't buy a house.  When I graduated, we moved in with family in Fort Wayne.  As I job searched, majority of companies were hitting my credit score even more.  It seemed like every time I applied for a job, I had to agree to a credit check.  When asked if I could print off a copy as to not hit my credit score, I was told no.  We wanted to get an apartment or a house or some place to live, but out of fear for being denied based on our credit scores, we don't want to risk more hits to our credit.  I've heard many people say that bad credit is better than no credit.  While that may be true, having bad or no credit still feels impossible to get established.  It looks like our goals of buying a home this year are not going to happen.  Next year, when my student loan payments rise, I'm afraid that we still are not going to be able to buy a house, especially with the income we both produce.  And to look for a new job, I'm afraid my credit will only get beaten up more just for applying.

But on a brighter note, Travis was able to sell his old car!  It only sold for $350, but it sure helped.  We hadn't gone on a date, so we used the money for a nice dinner, movie, and because I absolutely love fairs and festivals, we spent about $20 towards a day at the Three Rivers Festival.  At the festival, Travis gave me a brilliant idea!  I should start a blog about sweet stuff.  I love sweets!  I have a horrible sweet tooth.  So I am going to give it a try.  When I put the blog together, I will definitely post a link when it is ready for its debut.  So keep a look out for the Sweetest Blog on the Block!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Keeping My Options Open

Ever feel like you could be doing something more?  Ever feel like you are more valuable?  Well, luckily, that's how I have been feeling.

I absolutely adore my job at the zoo.  I'm just an intern.  I don't get paid to work from 8 AM to 5 PM every day I am there (which is 3 days a week).  But I wake up early and look forward to going to work there.  I love the people I work with.  I love being around animals, even the creepy, crawling ones.  I love the work I am doing.  I cannot think of any negative thing about the job - except that it will end when April ends.  I love this place so much, I do not want to leave.  Tuesday, I cut my eye pretty bad.  It's ok.  It's just taking time to heal.  But, yesterday, when the doctor told me to stay home and rest my eye - I still went into the office at the zoo to talk to everyone.  Right after I left the doctor's office, I went straight to the zoo because I didn't want them worrying about me and I wanted to fill them in on everything.  I didn't get to stay and work, and that made me sad.  I hated not being there.

Don't get me wrong, I love my actual job.  I work for an auction company with really great people.  However, I feel like there is more I could be doing.  And I know when we renegotiate my salary, I might not get the wage I am looking for.  I could be doing more and getting paid more.  I'll definitely hang out there for a while, but I feel like this is holding me back from what I could be doing.

For months, a financial advising company that is well known in Fort Wayne has been contacting me.  At first, they wanted me to apply for the recruiting coordinator position.  I applied, but didn't get the position.  However, one of the leading partners for the company still contacted me relentlessly.  He asked me to apply for a new position the company has created.  It is Marketing & Client Relations - and I will be working alongside the partner of the company.  From the job description, it sounds like something that is up my alley.  Literally, it sounds like they looked at my resume and created this position tailored to me.  So I sent in my updated resume and I have an interview this week.  This company has been rated in the top 20 companies to work for in Fort Wayne, and they are offering a "lucrative" salary with benefits. Can't beat that, huh?

Well, before I injured my eye on Tuesday, the education department had their weekly meeting at the zoo.  That is the department I intern for, so I attend the meetings as well.  At the meeting, we were gathering dates for everyone's vacation, holidays, etc.  The PR and Communications Director asked when my internship ends.  I shrugged at looked at my supervisor - the Volunteer Coordinator - and I asked her.  She joked saying, "you never put in a day, so we're just going to keep you all summer."  In response, I said, "good, I don't want to leave."  Then, the Education Coordinator, my buddy, Kristin says, "Hey, why don't you apply for Rebecca's job?"

No joke, this feels like serendipity.  What is Rebecca's job?  She is the Development Assistant at the zoo.  Her job requires client relations between the zoo's education department and sponsors and donors, she manages budgets for events and programs, and she does the more detailed office work of what I currently do at the zoo.  I'm a PR and event planning intern.  I just create all the fun stuff and implement it.  Her job is managing the funds and detailed paperwork of the events.  She does this for all education programs.  On the plus side, I could continue making videos for the zoo.

After Kristin's brilliant idea, everyone in the room was saying, "Do it!"  I didn't know Rebecca was offered another job elsewhere that was closer to home and paid a little bit more.  She didn't want to leave the zoo, however she wasn't going to turn down a great opportunity.  After the meeting, I walked up to Rebecca and I asked her if she would mind me job shadowing her for a day.  She's an absolute sweetheart, so of course she said, "sure!"  I sat there beside her and she showed me a little bit of what she was working on.  She had put together a detailed packet on how to do everything at the job so that the next person who came wouldn't be lost.  Rebecca filled me in on what she does and she said to me, "I know what you do for your internship, and you are very good at it.  You would be great at this position."  They are looking for someone to start right away - thinking the first week of May.  Um... hello - perfect timing?!  I went ahead and applied for the position.

Kristin and the volunteer coordinator were saying that if I get the job, I have to join them 2 nights a week with the rest of the "Zumba Zoo Crew" for Zumba nights.  Fine by me!  For the rest of the day after I had talked to Rebecca, Kristin and Susie (another sweet lady at the office) seemed really excited.  They filled me in on everything.  They said, "don't take the job if it isn't something you want to do.  But this is what the zoo offers in benefits...."  I told the girls that it would really come down to the dollar signs - but my heart automatically leans towards the zoo.  I have to keep my options open and think of Travis and I. So I will continue putting out my resume to different places, go to interviews, and see if I get any offers.  Travis and I will discuss each job that is offered to me, and I'll choose which place is the best decision.

I did tell the volunteer coordinator that if I don't get the job, I would like to volunteer.  She seemed super happy about that. :)

Monday, March 12, 2012

So Close, I Can Taste It!

I am super excited!  We've already accomplish Baby Step #1 by creating a $1000 emergency fund.  Baby Step #2 (other than student loans) will be complete this summer!  I can actually see ourselves getting established.  Travis has decided, after working a factory job that was detrimental to his health, he is going back to college.  He has a strong interest in figuring out how things work, why they work, and he's super good at working with electrical stuff.  Travis is pursuing a B.S. in Electrical Engineering Technology.  I couldn't be more proud of him.

What have I been up to?  Well, I got a nice job doing a variety of things!  Right now, I am finishing up my internship at the zoo in Public Relations/Marketing/Event Planning.  I'm busy making training videos, putting together activity packets, planning the Earth Day event, and I get to help out the PR/Director of Communications with any projects she needs done.  Not long ago, I had to take pictures of a leopard getting a dental.  I even got my picture with the furry guy!  (Sorry, I can't post pics on here.  It's against policy.)  The internship ends April 27th.  I told my bosses I am not leaving.  One will have to take my arms and the other will have to take my legs and drag me out crying.  I love it there.  I'll never forget it.

I graduate on May 5, 2012 at 3 PM!  I already ordered my cap and gown.  I plan on making my own graduation invitations using the pictures my friend Kylee took.  I will post pictures of them when I am done!

I landed a great job with an auction company.  I enjoy the people I work with.  I have my own desk all set up.  I just need to add some personal touches - like family photos and quotes.  I have a good system down already, so now I'm not struggling to get things done on time.  They work around my internship, which is fantastic.  I only work 2 or 3 days a week (sometimes I have to pick up a Saturday to stay on top of things, but that's only happened twice).  I love dressing up for work, so I thoroughly enjoy that.  The two guys who are my bosses are super cool.  They have a part-time administrative assistant, and she's such a bubbly, friendly lady.  I look forward to the days that she is there.  They also have a lot of staff that comes and goes.  The head maintenance guy comes around and jokes with everyone.  He's a hoot.  His wife works with my bosses on properties and payroll/finances.  She's a sweet lady too.  Every once in a while, I see a cute elderly man named Larry.  His desk is in the cubicle across from mine.  BTW: the cubicles are not the typical cubicle.  These are freaking fancy and large.  Anyways, Larry has become my buddy.  Right now, I just put together ads, brochures, post cards, and manage the ad budgets.  I don't have time to do much else since I'm not there full-time.  In April, we are going to sit down and re-negotiate my salary.  They casually mentioned something about getting me a Mac computer for my desk!!  AHH!  I'm so excited!  They are hooking me up nicely.  Anyways, they have full intentions on keeping me full-time, so that is why we will negotiate a salary.  Once I am full-time, I will manage all social networking sites for the company, create videos for the company and properties we will be auctioning, and I will be putting together more promotional things for the company that can be used on an iPad.  That way, when they go to speak with prospective clientele, they can show them a nice looking "powerpoint" (but more professional and fancy) of all the different types of auctions we do.  Can I just say... I love my job.  And to think when I applied, I didn't think I would get it.  Out of 155 applicants, I was the lucky one.

I'm so happy that things are falling into place.  Everyone asks me if Travis is working.  But you know, I don't mind him not working.  He's still getting a lot of things done and taken care of.  Plus, he's looking for an easy part-time job so that he can finish school.  When I was in school, I worked part-time.  I tried focusing solely on schoolwork.  I want him to do the same.  This man busted his ass off for 3 years.  He worked like a dog just so that we could keep a roof over our heads.  He's taken such good care of me... it's time I do the same for him.  It is his turn to focus on getting an education and pursuing a career.  It is my turn to buck up, take on more responsibilities, and keep our heads afloat.  After all, if it wasn't for Travis's hard work, I would have never finished this degree and landed this job.  Besides, he is going to be making the big bucks when he's done! :)  Behind every great man is a great woman - and I tend to keep that reputation strong.  He's such a great husband - I need to be his great wife.  I cannot explain how proud I am of him and what we've accomplished as a team.  We're a force to be reckoned with.

Once we pay off these credit cards and polish off that medical debt (yeah, there was a debt for $500 that somehow got lost.  We're not done yet.  ::headdesk::), we are buying my husband a car.  This summer, we are hoping to get a starter home.  It won't be our forever home, but it will turn a great profit when we re-sell it in 5 years time.  We are thinking after getting a car, we should be set with a down deposit plus fees by fall.  Who knows, maybe next year we'll buy a house and have a little bit more saved up.  But it's still fun to look at our options.

I'm not going to lie.  We did break our habit of saving.  This Sunday, Travis and I went on a shopping spree.  I found heels that I could wear to work on clearance!  I got a black pair and a tan pair.  Then I found really cute tops and tanks to wear underneath my suits for work for real cheap!  Then I found two blazers that fit perfectly!  I had looked at Travis and said, "watch, this is going to be too big."  I put it on and it fit!  I about shat myself!  So I got 2 - one is white with a gold button; the other is a black boyfriend blazer.  I also found some nice jewelry on sale that would go with any outfit.  So now I have 4 necklaces and a pair of earring to wear to work!  Since I splurged on work stuff, I told Travis that he should have some fun.  So he bought a new XBox controller (his was broken) and he pre-ordered the new Resident Evil game.  While splurging like that is a terrible idea, we don't do it often.  We rarely, if ever, buy anything for ourselves.  So my first paycheck went towards treating ourselves.  But that's it.  No more frivolous spending until we get another car.

In my very rare amounts of down time, I've been socializing with friends and talking with family members.  I've also been putting together the Woenker Recipe Book.  When I am done, I will post free printables on here just for fun.  Just don't hold your breath.  It'll be a while!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Enjoying a Bit of House Hunting

Ok, so we aren't officially looking to buy a home.  Well... maybe.  That is, if all goes well and according to plan.  Currently, we live in a really nice neighborhood with my husband's dad and grandfather.  I wouldn't mind staying in this neighborhood.  After all, it is a sought after area of town.  Houses don't really go up for sale often, which means people move in and stay.  When a house does go up for sale, let's just say, they don't last long on the market.

Today, Travis went off to work.  I was bored, so I took a drive around in this part of town.  I saw quite a few "For Sale" signs.  I grabbed a piece of paper, a pen, and I started jotting down the addresses and who was the realtor.  I came home and jumped onto my laptop.  I looked up each house.  Only 1 out of the 5 houses was not in our original budget.

A while back, Travis and I thought that we were going to buy a house in Bloomington.  Good thing we didn't.  We were racking up some serious medical debt, and our credit was far under par.  However, a good friend of mine is a broker in Bloomington.  She found out that we qualified for $70,000.  Yeah, that's not much - but we are first-time home buyers AND our credit was out of wack at the time.  Since then, we've used $70,000 as our budget for when we do decide to buy a home - regardless if we qualify for more.  It's good to have a number in mind, even if it isn't the actual number now.  Besides, we don't have to take out a loan for more than what we really should.  We're being frugal here.

So, $70,000 was my budget.  Only 1 was over that (and that was $99,900 - and trust me, the outside of the house didn't look like it was worth $99,900).  The other 4 houses were jaw droppers.  I was surprised how much they were after looking at them in person.  Granted, I'm sure they are going to be fix uppers.  But with a family of construction workers and DIY'ers, I'm not too worried about some fixing up.  I'd rather fix it up just the way I want it anyways.  All four houses were LESS that $70,000.  And here's why:

Most houses in this neighborhood were built in the 50's and 60's.  The families that built these homes stayed in them until they passed or moved into an elderly home.  Families don't leave this area.  But when a person passes away or moves into an elderly home - the children are desperate to get rid of the house.  Yes, the homes have some wear and tear on them - but they are very nice family homes.  They are great starter homes.  And after having friends move into this area previously, we can see that most homes are not money pits.  This area of town has a great reputation.  The prices on these homes drop quickly because the family members cannot afford to keep a second home that their parents' owned.

Here I am getting all excited.  Travis asked me the other day how I felt about buying a home instead of renting.  That's a huge step to take - and honestly, I'm scared because I don't know a thing about home buying.  But believe me, I would love to have a home to call our own - to have a place where we can settle ourselves down and live for years.  In this upcoming year, we made a promise to get established before the year ends.  We made a promise that living with family members is temporary.  In 2012, Travis and I will be getting careers.  Travis already has a pretty decent job.  I'm getting interviews.  Maybe buying a home is a step in the right direction.  I'm not talking about buying a home tomorrow or next week or next month.  But after I get a career and we establish ourselves with a decent income, maybe it wouldn't hurt to keep our eyes open for a home.  Maybe it wouldn't hurt to go to a broker and look around.  We can take our time.  We don't need to jump the gun.  But maybe now is the time to take that first step towards home buying.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Saying No

The hardest part of our journey to getting out of debt and back on our feet is saying "no" to family and friends.  We want to spend time with everyone, but it's hard to say, "no, we can't go out and eat at that nice restaurant tonight" or saying, "no, we can't come visit this month."  It's so difficult.  It breaks my heart to tell those I love that we cannot go out and do fun things.  It hurts even worse to tell them I cannot see them.

When you are trying to get out of debt, and your biggest feat is a lack of income, you have to prioritize your time and money.  Soon, we'll be paying back my student loan debt.  We've just established Baby Step #1 in building a $1000 emergency fund.  Yes, we will have income coming in soon.  But we still have bills to pay and a savings to build up for a home.  We have to put money into maintenance on our car.  We have been very lucky that my parents have paid for the car insurance.  We would like that to end.  We also need to save up money so that we can have health insurance.  Gas is super expensive - so traveling is just not in the hand we've been dealt right now.

I know family and friends are not in our shoes, so they don't see it like we do.  I know they don't mean any harm.  But there comes a point in time where they get tired of hearing "sorry, no."  We've tried to balance everything the best we can.  It's just hard to please everyone.  I wish that people would give us a little more time.  It isn't like we don't appreciate our family and friends.  We want to spend as much time as possible with each and every one of them.  But we just cannot afford it.  Everyone else is established in their lives.  We've cut back drastically.  This year is dedicated to getting on our feet.  I know many people don't understand it completely.  I try to stay in touch through e-mails, Facebook, and phone calls. I try to explain that it isn't because I don't like them or that I'm not upset with them.  But here is the time where that brick wall hits.  They think we don't want them in our lives because we cannot afford to travel.  They think we don't want to spend time with them because we never go out with them.  And it's always the same reason:  we cannot afford it right now.  When that time comes, it's hard on everyone.  Others see this as an excuse.  We say will come see them as soon as we can afford it - but it comes across like broken, empty promises - even though it is genuine.  After all, how many times does it take before you get tired of hearing the same excuse?

I'm not upset with anyone because I understand how they feel.  At times, I'm at a loss for what to say.  Some individuals have been pretty harsh towards us.  Some have created a huge fiasco over it that I have officially pulled myself away.  It makes me feel bad when they refuse to see things from my point of view.  It isn't like debt is going to go away overnight.  It isn't like we'll have extra money to spend in a snap.  But here's a great perspective that I have....

My father once told me, "it's more convenient to see everyone else than it is for them to see you."  This is a sarcastic comment.  It means that some people expect YOU to go out of your way to see THEM.  Not once does it cross their minds to say, "I know they've hit a rough patch financially.  Maybe I'll go see them and we can do something that doesn't cost money."

Dave Ramsey talked about this on one of his talk shows.  He said that there comes a time where you have to start saying no if you want to get out of debt.  You have to learn how to say no to people.  It is easy to rack up debt and blow money when you go out with the people you enjoy being around.  Think about it.  A couple of close friends ask you to go out one night.  What happens?  You are more inclined to spend money you cannot risk spending.  You might buy an adult beverage to be social.  You might go to a nice restaurant and spend $12-15 on your meal.  You might feel more inclined to go out to see a movie.  That money adds up - especially when you have an "income problem."

Not everyone is going to understand.  It's a hard road to travel.  But you have to keep telling yourself, "this will all be worth it in the end."  Don't fall back into old habits.  Now is the time to keep pressing forward.  Later on, those who truly care will see where you have been and what you accomplished.  There will be a day where you won't have to worry about gas for traveling.  When that day comes, everyone will see it.  You won't have to say anything.  For those that don't get it when that day arrives... well, you can decide where the relationship will go from there.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Baby Step #1: Accomplished.

After quite a hectic run around with my financial aid, I finally received my grant refund.  With that money, the Hubster and I put $1000 directly into our Emergency Fund.  That fulfills Baby Step #1 from Dave Ramsey's Seven Baby Steps.  We are now working towards paying off our credit card debt.  Our credit card debt is very small.  It isn't even $1000, which is why we decided to pay these off.   That shouldn't take long at all!

After we pay off the credit cards, we need to get another car.  Some may say that is a ridiculous idea, but we cannot keep juggling one car.  Having that single car run constantly between the both of us is adding miles to the car and wearing down on it.  Already, we need to put some maintenance into it just to keep it running so much.  So, with the remaining amount after paying bills is going straight into fixing the car.  It's a great car.  It's been amazing.  But the poor car has been working way more than it should be.  And it's showing.

WOO HOO!  We made it through Baby Step #1!  On to Baby Step #2....

Monday, February 6, 2012

Oh My Golly Gee Wiz!

I must say that I really do love 2012!  Travis got the job he applied for, so right now, he is finishing up the mandatory tests, background check, la di da.  I had a bit of a run-in with my financial aid.  It still hasn't shown up in the mail yet, which is super frustrating.  In order to keep my financial aid, I had to register for 6 credit hours instead of only 4.  That means I would have to complete 300 hours at my internship.  I asked my supervisor, and she said that worked great for her!  I'm super happy it all worked out.  Plus, I freaking LOVE my job at the zoo.  Right now, I'm making training videos.  It is super fun because I get to see all the animals up close.  Sorry, I cannot post pictures.  It's against the policy.  But let me tell you, I've pretty much gotten over my fear of snakes. haha!

This has become a fantastic month as well.  Previously, I applied to 1 job here in town.  I was not expecting to get a call back.  Last week, I was offered an interview.  I just came back from it.  The job sounds great.  I know I would enjoy it.  I don't know if it is something I really want to do, but hey, it's a job!  I'd be an administrative/marketing assistant that helps with their social media sites.  Definitely a job that is in my niche.  The great thing about it was that out of 155 applicants, they only chose the top ten applicants they liked for an interview.  Yup, that's right kiddos.  I was one of them!  My interview blunder:  I totally under-sold myself.  They asked what I would expect in compensation on an hourly basis.  Uh... I probably should have thought about that.  I'm so used to being told how much I make.  I didn't take into consideration how much I expect to get paid hourly.  I figured for salary, maybe $30-$40,000.  Yeah.... ::cringes:: I said $10-$13/hour, but I would have to think about it more depending on the amount of work I would be doing.  YIKES!   I sold myself short by $10!  ::facepalm::  I feel like crawling under a rock.  But who knows, maybe they'll see that I am genuine.  Maybe they'll pay me a decent wage for my work if they hire me, not the low-ball price I said.  And who knows, maybe everyone else was asking for a much higher wage and the interviewers tuned them out.  I still cannot believe I did that.  I have to keep reminding myself... this is a big kid job!  Not some side, part-time gig to make ends meet.  GAH, I'm worth more than that!

However, I did get offered a job that might pay more.  I was invited to an interview with one of the top ten companies to work for in Fort Wayne, IN.  The position is a Recruiting Coordinator/Client Support position.  They found me through  We'll see where the wind takes me.  It would be nice to have options available.  Besides, I'm really blessed.  Two offers for an interview when I wasn't really trying to look for a job... that's pure blessings.  So many people out there are struggling to find a job.  My heart goes out to them.  It's such a scary position to be in.  Even if I do not get either of these jobs, I still remember to count my blessings.  I was offered TWO interviews.  Let's just say that I'm worth more than I originally thought I was.  That, my friends, makes all the difference.

So, to make me feel a little better, anyone want to share their greatest interview blunders? :P

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Here's to a New Beginning!

We are officially starting over!  I think 2012 is going to be our year!  I finished my classes at Indiana University and now I am finishing up 200 hours of an internship before graduation.  I will be graduating in May 2012!  I can't believe it is finally here!  Travis and I packed up our things, and we moved in with my father-in-law and grandfather-in-law.  They are fantastic.  We have lived here almost 2 weeks.  Mornings are spent talking to grandpa and enjoying a nice cup of coffee with some danishes.  In the evenings, we sometimes lounge in the living room with dad and watch TV shows.  Once in a while, we visit with friends and family.  I'm slowly figuring my way around Fort Wayne.  It's a little confusing, but I'll get the hang of it soon enough.

Today was a great day.  I found out that I begin working next week at the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo as an intern in Public Relations and Social Media.  It was meant to be.  They were looking for someone to help with the social media and communications department - and that is what I do best!  Since the internship won't be every day, I'm looking for a part-time job to fill in some of the gaps.  Travis just received a phone call about a job he applied for on Friday.  They really liked his experience and quickness with math.  He has an interview this Friday, so fingers are crossed!  I am also getting a chance to really put my talents to work.  I am putting together multiple websites for different companies and organizations voluntarily.  Right now, I am finishing up a website for Merle Norman Luxe Spa & Salon in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  Then I will be working on an interactive website for an awareness/support group for Intestinal Malrotation.  I think the hardest part about web design is the color scheme.  That's what I'm playing around with right now for the awareness/support group's website.

We still have the apartment in Bloomington.  It is available if anyone is interested.  Right now, we need to pay next month's rent, and it will automatically be put on the market as vacant.  We have to pay the rent and electricity until someone decides to take the lease.  Then, our lease is no longer in existence.  Our apartment complex is a great area, and they currently have no vacancies.  People have been looking for a one-bedroom apartment, and after our luck with trying to find a sublessor - the complex decided to help us with the process so that they can advertise an available apartment for the demand they have been receiving.

We only have one medical bill left to pay.  Then we have about $1000 in credit cards to pay off.  We still only have one car, but it'll work just fine.  My internship is in walking distance, and family members have offered to drop me off or pick me up whenever I need a ride.  Once Travis is working, he'll more than likely use the car more than me.  And my internship isn't every day of the week, so I will be able to pick him up and drop him off whenever I have errands to run and he needs to work.  Right now, Travis and I have developed a goal list.

1.  Re-establish $1000 in our savings fund (we had to use the money to move)
2.  Pay off remaining medical bill.
3.  Pay off credit cards.
4.  Buy a second car.
5.  Save up for an apartment (or possibly a house).

Things are really starting to look up for us.  All I can say is: it's about time!  Travis and I made some New Year's resolutions, and the number 1 resolution is "Always stay positive."  So far, it's been working.  Positivity goes a long way! :)

I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays and are off to a great start to the new year!  Just for fun, what are your goals for this upcoming new year as you build your nest?