A fun, visual way to help you pay off your loans

An introduction to our 2-year goal to become debt free! Who wants to join me on the challenge?

Y’all, I’m not going to lie to you: money has been tight this year!

Between an unexpected job loss, a couple scary months of unemployment, finding a great new job (HALLELUJAH!), moving to a new city, and preparing for the birth of our second baby, it feels like we’ve been playing the catch-up game for MONTHS when it comes to our budget.

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The really cool thing is, God has stepped in and caught us in SO many mysterious ways, when our bank account was nearly $0. A few times it was through friends or family offering support when they didn’t even know it was needed, a couple times it was a paycheck that arrived a few days early right when a bill needed to be paid – all I know is, He’s provided through a really tough few months and for that I am insanely grateful and amazed!

Now that we’re finally getting back on top of our finances, we’re creating some long-term goals to set us up for financial success in the future.

A huge thing this entails is PAYING. OFF. LOANS.

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Our goal is to spend the next 1-2 years paying off as many of our debts as we possibly can, to allow us to then spend the next 1-2 years simply putting away money to buy a house.

And because I’m a super visual person, I decided to create some visual loan trackers to help!

(Not going to lie, it’s SCARY to share personal money information like this. Some people might shudder that I’m sharing real, actual dollar amounts from my real, actual life. BUT: I believe in honesty and transparency. The devil wants us to hold our secrets tight to our chest where they can turn into shame, regret, and anxiety. Well not today, Satan. If sharing my financial reality can encourage just ONE other person to take a step in a positive direction, then I’m here for it 100%). Okay, disclaimer over!

Here are the original designs, created using a free website called Canva:

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This is kind-of a cool story: Earlier this spring we applied for a Southwest credit card to use for car expenses. THEN came the unexpected job loss, unemployment, and new job/new city. Some people might see this as a curse (UGH I HAVE SO MUCH CREDIT CARD DEBT) but without this credit card, my husband wouldn’t have been able to pay for the hotel rooms in our new city, which allowed him to accept the new job immediately while we were still searching for a new apartment. Another way I feel like God was looking out for us!

 

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Yes, I owe my parents money. LAY OFF ME OKAY

 

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This is a hefty one: the bill from my miscarriage D&C from last summer. Had I known the bill would be so high (or that I had a choice at all), I would have opted to wait and let my body do its thing. But that’s a WHOLE different story for a WHOLE different blog post.

 

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Remember that one semester I went to Musical Theater school in Chicago and hated every second of it?! Me too! Especially when I get my student loan bill every month! YAY!!!

Long story short, each of these visuals is designed in a way that I can simply color in a letter (or half a letter) depending on how much of the loan I pay off that month.

We’ll start with our smallest loans, pay as much as we possibly can each month (while paying the minimum balances on the larger loans) – this way, we can start to gain momentum and confidence as we pay off loan after loan.

I decided to include the FULL amounts (even for loans that I had already paid partly), so that I could go ahead and color some letters in and feel better about myself (are you really surprised, coming from the same girl who retroactively adds things to her to-do list just so she can cross them off?).

Here are some pictures of the final product, attached to my office wall right by my desk:

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I used the website CanvaĀ to create my visual loan trackers. Simply:

  1. Add text in the name of your loan (go for a bold font)
  2. Toggle the text’s transparency to make it gray (so you can color it in, but still see what it says)
  3. Assign a dollar amount to each letter, corresponding to your total loan amount (want the fancy math? Total loan amount divided by the # of letters. That’s about how much $$$ each letter should be worth. Don’t worry too much about being a perfectionist – the whole point here is just to have a visual and show yourself you’re making progress!)
  4. Add fun art like arrows. Be sure to BOLD the total amount, so you know exactly what you’re working toward!
  5. aaaaand print. šŸ™‚

Keep in mind, there are a million ways to get creative with this! You could hand-draw something, make it simple like a thermometer you fill in $50 at a time, or even just squares representing different dollar amounts.

I, of course, had to get crazy with it. #noshameinmygame

Fellow indebted visual-types: let’s pay off our loans and take over the world!

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If you make something similar to this, I’d love to see the result. šŸ™‚ Scroll up and click “contact me,” or just comment below – I’d love to know if this method helps you!

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How to Make Scary Decisions

Alternatively titled: Take a Deep Breath, It’s All Going to be OKAY. I promise. Pinkie promise.

I did something scary this past weekend.

Scary, exciting, and bittersweet.

I quit my job as a Group Fitness Instructor.

Like, quit quit. Donezos. Bye bye. Arrivederci, mama!

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My national Group Fitness Certification was set to expire on July 31st, and instead of doing all the online quizzes necessary to re-certify, I just…

…didn’t.

Now, let me pop a little disclaimer in here:

I have nothing against the group fitness industry. I think group fitness people are awesome, fun, positive, and wonderful! And I have been SO thankful for my time at the YMCA and LifeTime Fitness!

Thankful, because I learned a few things about myself:

  1. I’m an introvert, with social anxiety.
  2. Introverts with social anxiety have a hard time standing in front of a room of people, especially as “me” instead of a character in a show (totally different ball game than theater!).
  3. I love the fitness industry – but that particular niche isn’t very rewarding for me! It leaves me feeling drained, and not in the good way – in the “Okay, I’m going to crawl in a hole and recover for the rest of the day” way.

And then, Jolie’s like:

MjAxMi1jNTg2MjI1YWI5YjNkOGVmIt’s just one of those things, where I thought about quitting for literally MONTHS. I ended up taking the avoidance route – dropping a class here and there, hoping that maybe nobody would notice if I disappeared from the schedule entirely.

But, guess what?

This coaching thing came along. And I thought, “Hey. That sounds like something an introvert with social anxiety could do!” (you know, because it’s computer-based).

And as it turns out… it IS something an introvert with social anxiety can do!

It’s something an introvert with social anxiety can do WELL!

My first week as a coach, I matched my group fitness income (roughly $65).

It grew from there, and last weekend while making this decision, I checked my bank account and realized:

I have more than TRIPLED my group fitness income with coaching.

All that driving around town, wrestlingĀ a screaming Jolie into her car seat, walking away from a bawling Jolie to teach my class, re-wrestling that same screaming Jolie BACK into her car seat to go home… THAT, 6+ times per week, and I TRIPLED that income by working an hour a day from my LAPTOP?!

Okay.

Hold the phone here.

WHY DIDN’T SOMEONE TELL ME ABOUT COACHING SOONER?!

So, long story short, the group fitnessĀ chapter of my life is over, and I’m okay with it.

I’m thankful for it, and I’m thankful that I have chosen to say “No” to a good thing, in order to have more time to say “Yes” to better things.

Because I truly believe there aren’t bad decisions and good decisions – there are decisions made with love and confidence, and decisions made with fear and regret – and it’s a CHOICE, PEOPLE.

I heard the best quote yesterday, while listening to a speech by my CEO, Carl Daikeler:

When racecar drivers are learningĀ how to go around a tight bend, their trainers tell them one thing: Look at the ROAD, not the wall. If you look at the wall, you’ll hit the wall. If you look at the road, you’ll stick to it.

There are people in this world who live in fear and regret, and it’s not because they just suck at making decisions.

It’s not like decisions are forks in the road, and one leads to a grassy field of dancing flower children while the other leads to a dark forest of angry pitchfork babies.

People live in fear and regret because they are looking at the wall instead of the road! As they make a decision, they’re thinking “But what if I fail? But what if I end up missing this? But what if someday I regret this?”

And guess what? They do. Because that’s where their focus is.

So let it be known:

I feel confident in my decision. I KNOW that everything will be okay, because I will choose to see the positives and seek them out. I create my reality, and I know that now, I have more time for family dinners, creativity, movie nights, and relaxation.

Now, enough about me: let’s talk about YOU.

What decision are you struggling with? Are you stuck in a dead-end job, seeking MORE? Are you in a relationship that just doesn’t feel right? Are you on the fence about coaching, but scared to take the leap?

Here are 3 tips to help you make Hairy, Scary Decisions:

  1. Sit in a quiet, comfortable spot (but don’t fall asleep!). Imagine yourself having said “no” to whatever it is you’re thinking about. How do you feel? Are you relieved? Do you feel expanded, or contracted? Do you have a pit in your stomach? Now, imagine yourself saying “yes.” Same thing here – how the heck do you feel? Bold? Brave? Scared-but-in-a-good-way? Quick tip: Choose the one that makes you feel expanded, brave, scared-in-a-good-way. That’s always the right decision – not because the other decision is BAD (I don’t really believe in “good decisions vs. bad decisions”), but because this decision is outside your comfort zone – AND LIFE STARTS OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE.
  2. Instead of thinking about what you’re saying “no” to, think about what that “no” would allow you to say “yes” to. So, let’s say you’re trying to decide about the relationship you’re in. It’s SCARY AS BUTTS to say “no,” and walk away into the unknown, alone. But think of all the “yes” this would open up to float into your life! The RIGHT person! They’re not going to find you if you’re stuck in a negative, soul-sucking relationship. I can guarantee you that! Say no to good, in order to say YES to BEST. Sit down. Make a list of all the things you could spend your time on, instead of doing that thing you don’t really want to be doing. Then, when you say “no” to that thing, ACTUALLY DO THOSE THINGS. (This is key!)
  3. Calm down. Remember: Decisions aren’t split into “good” and “bad.” Ultimately, whatever choice you make will be fine, as long as you move into it confidently, with a positive mindset. So, you want to stay at your current job even though it’s maybe not “100% ideal?”? Awesome! I’m proud of you! You rock! Or, you want to quit your job and find a new one? Awesome! I’m proud of you! You rock!

Now, remember: decision-making is all. about. your. mindset.

So whatever you decide – frame it this way:

“I’m going to do this thing, it’s going to be great, and I’m going to MAKE it work for me,”

instead of this way:

“Um, I thiiiiiiink I’m going to do this thing, and I’m super unsure about it, and I don’t know if it’s right for me, maybe I’ll just dip my toes in, ummm…”

I promise you, the universe will thank you for being bold, brave, and true to yourself.

Friendly reminder: This is your life. You only get one. Whatever you do – do it with kindness, love, and self-respect.

Love,

kelsieesther

*Disclaimer that I’m required to include: Beachbody doesn’t guarantee any level of success or income: it’s all about how hard you work! ā¤

 

3 Ways to Brighten Up a Dark Week

Are you having a sh*tty week? It’s okay, me too. It’s normal. No, you’re not crazy. Yes, your boss is total bonkers. No, you shouldn’t quit and move to Zambia.

Guys, I’m not going to lie…

It’s been a rough week for me.

I’m one of those people who, when faced with something hard (i.e. my husband going to basic training and then officer training and being gone for FIVE MONTHS), I’m all: “Omg it’s totally going to be fine. It’s going to be GREAT! I’m going to focus on ME! Everything is going to be TOTALLY TOTALLY FINE I KNOW IT!”

Then, about two weeks later, I’m all: “Everything sucks. Why does everything suck? Oh yeah, because I minimized my feelings instead of actually FEELING THEM.”

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So this week, I’ve been hit by a freaking TIDAL WAVE TSUNAMIĀ of emotions.
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Up until now, I’ve been “keeping busy” (i.e. doing a bunch of crazy stuff like reorganizing our storage closet, making random time-consuming crafts, and basically anything that doesn’t involve sitting still and listening to my own thoughts).

But, lemme tell ya.

That just doesn’t work.

My body is FED UP with it. My body’s all: “Hey girl. I’m gonna give you stomach cramps, acne, and headaches UNTIL YOU LEARN TO HANDLE YOUR SH*T LIKE AN ADULT.”

So, fine… fine. Here I am.

Today has been better, because I have done these three things.

3 Ways to Brighten Up a Dark Week

#1: Cry.

Just cry. Cry like a baby. Cry like Kim Kardashian realizing her diamond earrings fell off the yacht and into the ocean. Cry like Kanye would cry if Kanye were trapped in a room with no mirrors. CRY, PEOPLE. JUST LET IT OUT. I promise, you’ll feel much better.

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#2: Journal.

Or blog… if that’s your style. Doesn’t matter if it’s personal or if you’re going to share it. Maybe you just want to tweet 1,000 really sad tweets and then delete them all. WHATEVER. The important thing is getting those negative thoughts out of your head and onto paper (or, you know, the internet). BUT WAIT THIS IS IMPORTANT: Finish off with a list of 5 things you’re grateful for. And yes, Earth, Wind, & Fire can count as three things even if you’re just talking about the band.

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#3: Do something for somebody else.

Get out of your own head, you selfish sack of beanbag beans! (Just kidding, but actually that’s a compliment because EVERYBODY LOVES BEANBAG CHAIRS). What I’m saying here is – it feels good to help others. Write somebody a letter. Take a selfie, print it out, write a sonnet on the back, and send it to somebody you barely know. Plant a tree. Adopt a kitten. Surprise your loved one with a latte or maybe jump out from behind a tree to show your affection? On second thought, don’t do that. Colson did that to me once and I almost accidentally-murdered him.

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Don’t do this either, for the record. šŸ˜‰

NOW GET OUT THERE AND TURN A CRAPPY WEEK INTO A GOOD ONE, because frankly, life is too dang short to be mumbly and mehhhhhh.

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Have a GREAT weekend, lovelies!

kelsieesther