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    Thank You, Debt Free Community!

    I have to admit, when I started my financial journey I was gazelle intense! I was paying every extra penny towards my debt. Nothing could stand in my way! It’s funny how quickly things can change. I was recently let go from my job and I literally felt like the rug had been pulled from under my feet. It’s taken me a few weeks to get up the nerve to write this post. At first I was embarrassed. Then I felt lost. But today is different, today I feel BRAVE.

    Losing a job can be extremely difficult. Not just financially, but mentally too. Because I have struggled with accepting my current financial situation this was a huge blow to my self-esteem. I announced the news on my instagram account and couldn’t believe the amount of support I received from the debt free community.

    • eyeletcreative It’s always for the best! Put your heart and time into your business now!
    • veefrugalfox You’re going to be ok. I know it doesn’t seem like it now, but you’ll find your way. Let me know if I can do anything for you.
    • christinathenurse First let me say this: I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine the negative feelings that are going on in your world right now. Now let me say this: I was perusing Christine Caine’s IG page last night and saw this message and it just spoke to my heart. Perhaps your heart needs it today as well. Your next adventure is waiting just around the corner! Here’s what she said: “Sometimes God closes doors because it’s time to MOVE forward. He knows you won’t move unless your circumstances force you. Trust the transition. God’s got you!!” @christinecaine
    • new2budget @christinathenurse this is a true statement. I strongly believe when I was laid off from my job, it was God’s way of moving me because otherwise I would’ve never moved.
    • new2budget I am a testament that GOD WILL PROVIDE. I was laid off after being with my employer for 18 years in 2015. God has provided me with employment since then. I am currently working temporary but I am able to meet my financial obligations with God as my source providing a resource. Keep HIM first and I promise HE WILL MAKE A WAY! @thebudgetawakens
    • eatpraybudget I am so sorry @thebudgetawakens !! Your #debtfreecommunity is here to support you!!
    • kristylea_80 Oh @thebudgetawakens I’ve been there! Honestly, as awful as it was, I had not been happy at that job anyway and I ended up at a job I truly did enjoy. Dust off that resume, start applying and do some soul searching in meantime. Do your four walls, the rest can wait. ((Hugs!))
    • getrichquickish Best of luck!
    • the_soulful_savers Try to find clips of #daveramsey giving advice for someone in this situation I believe it will help. He makes it a positive thing! Best of luck! 🙏🏼😻🤓
    • minimisewithme I’m sure this is just the start of a new journey 😊
    • mariandaniells New step, new adventure. You got this!!!

    I mean, WOW!! If you haven’t joined our instagram community, I strongly suggest you visit some of the accounts listed above. Their words of encouragement helped me get back on my feet and continue moving forward. I truly believe everything happens for a reason and this job change will bring me closer to more fulfilling work.

    Be sure to leave your instagram username in the comments below so we can be friends!

    No Spend April and Adam Sandler Date Night

    This month I decided to tackle something I’ve never done before: A No Spend Month.

    I don’t think I was as mentally prepared as I should have been but I’m glad I’m doing it. I’m learning so much about my emotional triggers and how to let go of them. The first week started off great. I didn’t spend any money (aside from my grocery and gas budget). People were taking me out to eat and to the movies. I’m not sure if it was because they were inspired by my challenge or if they just wanted to spend time with me. I’ll just assume it was little of both 🙂

    The second week, I started to notice how strict of a lifestyle I’ve been living. I started really attacking my debt in January 2017. I was so motivated! Determined to do it right this time. But determination doesn’t have to mean restricting yourself ALL OF THE TIME. My boyfriend does so much for me and our relationship. And I was really feeling the need to give back to him in some way. We both love Adam Sandler and he was coming to Sugarland, TX (seriously, when does anyone come here?). I decided to surprise him with tickets and I’m so glad I did!! We had an amazing time and laughed so much! No, it wasn’t in my budget but I feel like it was an experience we’ll cherish forever. It’s important for me to allow space for giving back. I believe it strengthened our relationship and helped us to stay motivated with our usual cheap date nights.

    So I’m not 100% perfect but perfect isn’t real anyway.

    Back to no spending! Have you ever done a no spend month?

    My Debt Free Story

    I have a confession to make…. I didn’t learn the value of a dollar until my late twenties. I spent most of my life living off credit cards and loans. It all seemed so normal back then. My stepmom is a loan officer and even encouraged me to improve my credit score by using credit cards. The problem was, she didn’t realize I had no idea how to manage my money, let alone someone else’s money.

    I started working fulltime at the age of twenty and I was making more money than I had ever seen! Growing up we didn’t have much so when I started earning money on my own I was living it up! Music festivals throughout the year, you bet. Vacationing out of the country, all the time. It was so easy to borrow money to fuel my extravagant lifestyle. And because I had no problem paying minimum payments I didn’t realize what I was doing was wrong. My credit card debt added up quite quickly and reality eventually set it. I had dug myself into a giant hole. I had become a slave to my money.

    I discovered Dave Ramsey a couple years ago, and a light switch came on. Everything he talked about made so much sense and borrowing money became so unattractive to me. I did my best to cut back on concert tickets, travel and shopping but old habits die hard. Life happened and I continued to play the game of debt. It’s crazy how much a recent relationship influenced me to quit Dave Ramsey’s baby steps all together. I finally came to my senses and ended that relationship.

    So now here I am, twenty-eight years old and ready to breakup with debt once and for all! I have adopted a minimalist lifestyle. This has been extremely helpful in teaching me how to be content with less and truly loving the items I do own. If you want to change your spending habits, I encourage you to give minimalism a try. You can see my recent closet clean out video here. I love living on less than I made. This March I was able to put $1,500 towards paying off my debt! Minimalism and side hustles have become two major factor in speeding up my financial journey and I’m so excited to explore them even more!

    I don’t have a family yet but I would like to start one soon. In fact, one of the driving forces behind my goal of financial freedom is to be debt free before getting married and having kids. I want to be able to instill positive money management skills for my family from day one. I personally know how detrimental it can be to date someone that doesn’t share my values. This has become a major deal breaker for me. I believe having a partner that’s on the same page financially is essential to success. I am so thankful my boyfriend shares my values and supports my debt free journey. If you are searching for a support system, I recommend joining Instagram. There’s an amazing community of people encouraging each other to stay on track and reach our goals. It’s not always easy going against society’s norm but you are not alone! 🙂

    4 Ways to Make Easy, Extra Money

    Working full time doesn’t always leave me with a ton of free time to pick up a second job. I’d love to be able to work 2 jobs to help speed this debt snowball along. But the reality is, my schedule is pretty tight as is. This month I decided to get creative and look for new ways to make extra cash. Who doesn’t love an easy side hustle?

    Here are four ways I was able to add to my income this March:

    1. Poshmark – If you watched my closet clean out video you saw me eliminate almost half of my clothing. Since most of my clothes are still in fairly new condition I decided to list them on Poshmark. Poshmark is an app that allows you to sell used clothing. I love it because they provide the postage and all I have to do is pick up the free mailing envelopes from the post office. It’s cheap, it’s quick and it’s effective! March total: $101.05 (and counting).
      Sign up with code PKUQS to get $5 off your first order.

    2. Decluttr – Decluttr is an app that allows you to sell phones, CDs, DVDs, games, and books. I had a ton of dvds and books that weren’t being used so decided it was time to let them go. It’s a simple process of scanning each barcode to see how much money you can earn per item. This app also sends you the postage label. All you have to do, is find a box that will fit your order. March total: $44.91

    3. REI – Did you know REI has a 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed policy? I’ve been driving around with a tent and other camping equipment in the trunk of my car for a few months now. It was lightly used and because I want to eventually upgrade to something a bit larger, I decided to return it. The process was quick and easy! March total: $168.19

    4. Ebay – My boyfriend is helping me with this one so I don’t know much about the process. We listed a couple electronics and one has sold so far! March total: $69.00 (minus ebay fees)

    What is your favorite side hustle?

    I’m excited to look into more ways to earn in my spare time!

    Why I’m choosing to go against Dave Ramsey’s debt snowball rules.

    Last week, as I was preparing to make my first payment in Baby Step 2, I received this email:

    You got hit with a finance charge! $78.35 APR 22.99%

    I immediately panicked! Am I making the right choice by paying off my smallest balance first? Do I really have to pay off a 2% interest loan – before a 22.99% interest credit card?!

    Sorry Dave but there is just NO WAY that I can rationalize that. I understand the reasoning behind small wins helping us to stay motivated but I feel so sick and tired of this debt game that I’m determined to reach financial freedom! and SOON! So, I’m going against the grain and altering my payoff plan… I’m going to eliminate my credit cards before my low interest rate loans. It’s the only way I can sleep at night.

    I know some of you may not agree with me (Dave definitely wouldn’t) but I’m convinced I can pull this off! Thanks for following my journey and helping me to stay accountable 🙂

    Balance:               $4,370.50
    Payment:            –$1,432.55

    New Balance:     $2,937.95

     

    How about you – Do you follow The Baby Steps perfectly?

    THE #GIVINGCARDS PROJECT

    I was so excited to partner with Rockstar Finance and their Giving Card Project! From the moment my card arrived I was contemplating ways to give back in my work environment. I work for a cleaning and restoration company and our guys do some of the dirtiest cleanups! And they’re usually in homes with no AC, in the scorching Texas heat! I admire our mission because we help others in times of disaster: flooding, fires and storm recovery. When I mentioned the idea of a company lunch my coworkers were quick to pitch in. So much so, that we were able to offer lunch to our employees as well as customers stopping by for supplies.

    Thank you Rockstars for brightening everyone’s day and reminding us to pay it forward!

    International Day of Happiness Q&A

    Today I was featured on The Pursuit of Happiness celebrating International Day of Happiness! I really enjoyed this Q&A and decided to document it here so I can look back on it a year from now. Thank you Wes, for allowing me to be a part of the Happiness Chronicles 🙂

    Q&A | The Budget Awakens

    Happiness means different things to different people, what does Happiness mean to you?

    To me, happiness is the level of gratitude I feel for my life, health, loved ones and nature. I believe we all can tap into an abundance of joy if we simply change the way we view our situations.

    Do you believe happiness is an emotion or more of a state of mind?

    Both! Happiness is a state of mind that generates positive emotions. To be happy is to live a life of joy, love, gratitude and inspiration. One of my favorite quotes is, “You cannot be grateful and unhappy at the same time.”

    Do you consider being happy important to you? Why?

    It seems like happiness is what we are all striving for. But coming from a feeling of lack, that we need to achieve this state of mind, opens us to failure. I believe happiness is already available to us all. Right here, right now! I struggled with depression when I was younger and know how tormenting negative self-talk can be. Today, I make a conscious decision to be happy with whatever life throws my way. I look at setbacks as opportunities for growth. My life has become one big classroom and I show up every day ready to learn!

    What do you consider a fundamental barrier to Happiness in your life?

    Perfectionism. I used to put off so many of my goals and dreams because I wanted to have all the best tools and knowledge beforehand. Starting a blog, my clothing company and even youtube channel would have never happened if I waited for the perfect opportunity. Perfect doesn’t exist! And to be honest, I learn the most through action. Mistakes and embarrassment aren’t fun but they’re essential in becoming better than we were before.

    How important is wealth and money to your own happiness?

    Well, the reason I am on a financial journey is because I used to believe money bought happiness. I used to buy clothes, records, concert tickets and vacations by borrowing money that wasn’t mine. I didn’t know any better back then. Today, I am just as happy digging myself out of this hole as I was swiping credit cards.

    My purpose and desire to become debt free is so fulfilling! Connecting with this community and encouraging others on their journeys helps me stay focused and motivated. I’m excited to build wealth for my future family and housing goals. So technically I don’t have wealth in dollars yet but I am rich in love, family, friends and health. It will only get better from here 🙂

    How important is health and wellness to happiness?

    Health is incredibly important to me! I eat a plant-based, organic diet and do my best to avoid sugars. I started doing this because of digestion problems and quickly noticed the benefits it had on my mental health. I no longer get headaches or panic attacks and emotional outbursts became a thing of the past. Things like meditation are just as important as physical exercise!

    What has been the happiest moment in your life?

    The happiest moment of my life was in 2005 when my niece was born. She has taught me so much about unconditional love. I believe children are our greatest teachers and I’m so excited to have a family of my own.

    Do you have any specific goals or resolutions for 2017? If so, would you share your top two that directly relate to your own Pursuit of Happiness?

    My goal for 2017 is to reach financial freedom! Money has always weighed me down emotionally. To be free of that burden will be a dream come true! I also have a goal of posting a year of youtube videos. I am incredibly shy and this challenge has already improved my shyness. I’m hoping with more practice I will gain confidence and improve my communication skills.

    Do you consider giving to others or charity work an important part of your own Pursuit and why?

    Volunteering has always been a huge part of my life. I believe it’s important to help others less fortunate. One of the charities I help with provides shoes to low income children. It’s humbling to see the joy we bring them by gifting such a common item. Some of the children are wearing the same pair of shoes we gifted them the year before. Torn and falling apart. What’s common to us is scares in the eyes of others.

    What 2 things have you learned in your own pursuit that you would like to share with others?

    Minimalism! I became a minimalist over the last few years after learning more about how others live with less. I gave up mindless purchases and a HUGE weight was lifted from my shoulders. I am always looking for ways to reduce and donate.

    I have also learned the power of self-love. After my depression diagnosis, I had to retrain my thoughts. Things like self-doubt and negative self-talk kept me a prisoner in my own mind. I spent almost two years doing mirror work and writing love letters to myself. It was an insane process but I am an entirely different person now. I am AWAKE and living life to its fullest!

    If you could recommend only three books to anyone reading this, what would they be, and why?

    You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay – This book was extremely helpful in my recovery. I still revisit it often to remember to be kind to myself. The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle – I love rereading this book! It keeps me aware and living in the present moment. I recommend this guide to everyone interested in simplifying and releasing unnecessary stress. As far as business, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill introduced me to the idea of owning my own company. We all have so much to offer and deserve to share our passions with the world.

    What is your blog/website address and theme (if you want to share) for 2017?

    I created the Budget Awakens to document my financial journey and share tips and lessons I’ve learned about minimalism and living with less. I believe having a budget will not only help you to build wealth but it will AWAKEN your lifestyle! As it did mine. Plus, I’m a big Star Wars fan and writing with a Star Wars theme is so much fun!! Thanks for the opportunity to share and I wish you all so much joy and laughter you don’t know what to do with it! 🙂

    MINIMALISM: MAJOR CLOSET CLEAN OUT

    I have considered myself a minimalist for a few years now. But the other day I noticed my closet was beginning to overflow. I took a moment to scan what was actually in there and realized a good amount of clothing had somehow sneaked its way into my wardrobe when I wasn’t looking. There were multiple items I had been gifted and outfits I purchased for events, such as weddings. I also found a few things I picked up while traveling the Pacific Coast last year.

    So even though I considered myself a minimalist… I wasn’t truly living the values of minimalism. When I made the switch to second hand shopping, I almost never said no to a cheap deal. “It’s on sale, why not?” That was the shopaholic inside of me, still clawing its way out. It takes time to change old habits and I guess I’m still working on mine.

    I recently did my first MAJOR CLOSET CLEAN OUT and filmed it here. I had no idea it would be so difficult. I clinged to some of the items, contemplating ways to rationalize keeping them. After much consideration, This is what I kept:

    5 workout tops
    4 workout pants
    7 work tops
    7 everyday tops
    7 t-shirts (I love sleeping in these!)
    7 dresses
    4 skirts
    3 work pants / 2 jeans / 1 pair of sweat pants

    It still seems like quite a lot of clothing but I’m going to monitor how often I wear what was kept and see if I can reduce even MORE! Decluttering is such an amazing feeling! There’s a sense of freedom in letting go of material possessions!

    I hope the clothes I sell and donate make their way to people in need who will truly find joy in wearing them. I believe in loving every item I own and being more mindful when making ALL purchases. Where we spend our money shows us what we value in life.

    How many items do you have in your closet?

    HOW TO START A BLOG

    This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.

    Today, you will learn how to create a WordPress blog for just a few dollars a month! Blogging has been a passion of mine since I was a young girl. It has allowed me to share my personal journey with so many amazing people around the globe! Below, I have included discounted pricing with Bluehost so that you can begin your blogging adventure on a budget! You will also receive a free website domain with my link. I’m not sure how long these low prices will last so be sure to act quick!

    Click here to start a WordPress blog on a budget. Bluehost is a great web host and I personally have had an excellent experience with them. Anyone can make money with a blog. I was able to make back the money I paid for blog hosting fairly quickly. It was well worth the investment and I’m sure you will be able to make your money back as well.

    Bluehost is one of the top web hosting companies in 2016 and you can start your own blog with them for as low as $3.95 a month (this low price is through my link only)! Also, if you sign up using my link, you will receive your domain for free. I highly recommend signing up for the 12 month hosting plan with Bluehost. It’s affordable and you can save a lot of money by choosing the 12 month plan. Plus, there are no contracts and you can get a refund anytime!

    COMING SOON: FREE Email Course How To Start A Blog  and  earn your first income. Join now!

    The reason I am such a big fan of Bluehost is because I have tried so many blog platforms over the year with little success. If you are interested in ever making money from your blog or turning it into a business, then paying for your hosting is a MUST. With Bluehost you can run all of your own advertisements and affiliate links. These are features free platforms do not allow. This makes it very difficult to earn money. Most advertisers and companies prefer working with self-hosted WordPress sites. I was contacted by marketers very early in The Budget Awakens first few months. Learn how to setup your blog for sponsors to find you quickly and easily here.

    Bluehost web hosting offers technical support and they are extremely helpful! I had so many questions when first starting and they explained everything to me in detail. My domain was registered elsewhere and they helped me to transfer it smoothly without interruption.

    Bluehost is one of the best web hosting companies out there. I’m so glad I chose Bluehost to host my WordPress blog. The professional appearance and ease of setup saved me so much time and energy. Their tech support truly made me feel like I was guided the entire way.

    Click here to start the process.

    If you plan on using Bluehost to create your blog and have any questions about setting it up, choosing a plan or pricing, feel free to send me an email. I happily help you out.

     

    How to start a WordPress blog on Bluehost

    1. Register your domain name.

    Click here to purchase a domain name and create a blog.

    The first thing you will need to do is choose a domain name. Deciding on a domain name can be tricky. I would give some serious thought to this. I came up with mine by combining my love of Star Wars with my currently financial journey. I love having a Star Wars theme because it makes writing about finances fun for me. A subject I normally would shy away from.

    2. Buy hosting for your blog.

    You will have a few plans to choose from with Bluehost. The basic plan is the cheapest and has worked great for me so far. Avoid month to month if possible. It’s so much easier, and cost effective to sign up for 12 months of service. Plus you will receive your domain for free with my exclusive link.

    Follow the steps below to buy hosting for your blog.

    1. Go to Bluehost and click the “Get Started Now” button.
    2. Click on the package you are interested in.
    3. Enter your domain name you registered with earlier.
    4. Enter your personal and payment information.
    5. Next you will be asked to enter a password. Make sure it’s secure as this information is very important.

    If you already own a domain you can transfer it to Bluehost.

    3.. Install WordPress!

    Congratulations! You are on your way to creating a life changing/ money making machine.

    May the funds be with you.

    How Do You Cope With Being Unable To Attend Events With Friends?

    The last time I attempted Dave Ramsey’s baby steps I was single and my best friend lived out of town. There was little temptation to go out because my desire to become debt free was strong and in charge! This time around I’m doing my best to keep a healthy balance between work, side hustles, my boyfriend, family and seeing my best friend more than once a month.

    Today, I found myself at a loss of words. I couldn’t bring myself to tell a friend that meeting her for dinner simply wasn’t in my budget. The heaviness of shame crippling my ability to be honest. I know my financial goals are going to improve my lifestyle tremendously! I’m truly excited to tackle this pile of debt and finally gain financial freedom!

    But my ego is lurking in the shadows telling me that what I’m doing is not normal. Each time I have to turn down an outing or miss a concert/show I have to remind myself of the bigger picture. I guess I’m writing this in hopes of receiving support…

    How do you guys deal with not being able to go on normal outings with friends and family? What free alternatives do you suggest doing instead?