When Hard Knocks Change Your Life…to Make it Better

A few days ago, I reviewed my expectations for 2015 and it reminded me how blessed I am. Over the past few years, I’ve experienced hardship after hardship that would probably lead a normal person into a state of depression. But it’s drawn me closer to Christ. When I walk hand in hand with Him, I feel more centered and experience a level of peace that I can’t explain. Actually, the word JOY comes to mind, which in my opinion, is far greater than happiness.

I am no longer focused on the circumstances or what I believe has gone wrong. My thoughts are not consumed with how to fix my problems or the next goal that needs to be accomplished. I read His word, pray about what’s on my heart, and trust that He will lead me. I am learning that life is truly a journey and I don’t need to define every single step. I still have a vision for what I’d like to experience in my lifetime, but it’s more of an outline, not a detailed turn by turn master plan. I don’t know if this change in perspective is a result of life’s lessons, maturity, or spiritual growth – maybe all three – but I like it. :-)

Since this post was inspired by a review of my 2015 plans, here’s a quick update…

Extensive dental work. All of my medically necessary dental work is complete (ouch!). Now I’m super obsessed with my dental hygiene and floss randomly throughout the day…just because. The cosmetic work is in process and my pockets are a little lot lighter, but it’s worth it.

Invest 50% of my gross income. I invest a little over 45% of my income and my net worth has increased almost 6%. To be honest, I have everything is on auto-pilot and haven’t paid much attention to my money lately. It actually feels like my spending has been out of control, but payroll allotments keep me on track until I’m ready to make more active decisions again.

Travel. I started the year with a list of what I’d consider bucket list travel dreams but thought only 2 were really possible. Since then, I’ve been swimming with dolphins, held a baby alligator, and embraced my big kid excitement in Downtown Disney. It. was. so. much. fun!

IMG_4022

I also plan to visit a friend in GA (milestone birthday), a friend in CA (new baby), and booked a flight for another dream vacation to Kenya (I love Africa). Whew, and it’s only May! While awaiting those trips, I’ve also discovered new travel and cultural adventures in my own back yard at the Around the World Embassy Tour and the Funk Parade. I love living in DC!

IMG_4026

Change my hair. I’ve straightened my hair several times this year and colored it too. I’m not a fan of straight hair so it never stays straight for long, but the color is growing on me. I think.

Study the word of God. I haven’t been studying as much as I should, but I do it with intention and more often than I used to. Not only do I study His word, but I also make a conscious effort to apply what I learn. Through the trials, God is changing my life. I think I am more considerate, patient, relaxed, and well…as much as you can expect from a Type A personality. LOL!

How do you balance your goals/desires with unfortunate life events out of your control?

Personal Finance Question

If you had over $100,000 sitting in a regular savings account – what would you do with it and why? Also, how much would you leave in savings (if any) and why? Real or hypothetical, assume you don’t have any (non-mortgage or profitable business) debt.

Question inspired by these two articles from Ninja at Punch Debt in the Face.

*taps mic* Is This Thing On?

Is it really March already? I can’t believe Q1 is almost over. Where has the time gone? Some people are probably wondering where I’ve been and what’s been going on with me. Well, I can tell you what is NOT going on. A vacation! My calm, quiet, peaceful life has taken a complete 180 and I’m long overdue for a vacation. Like yesterday. So far, I only have one confirmed getaway, but it’ll be another 1.5 months before I can partake in white sand, blue water, and colorful libations. *daydreaming* Until then, regular life continues…

My finances are good. Met a major goal and I’ve successfully adapted my lifestyle to save/invest 50% of my income. Man listen…that was no easy task. But it worked out. Oh yea, I had a brain fart last month. I was so distracted by the issues I’m juggling right now, I forgot to pay my mortgage. When I received the late notice, I paid it immediately and asked for forgiveness. They waived the late fee and didn’t report to the credit bureaus. Thank goodness for that.

My dental work is progressing well. All medically necessary things are done, except one, but that will be complete in two weeks. So far, I’ve spent over $2k in my mouth – after insurance! O_O I have a few more things I need want done, but my insurance won’t cover the cosmetic work. Boo! I need to research options to minimize out of pocket costs. Worst case, I’m probably looking at another $5k which is why I haven’t taken a vacation yet. But to be honest, I’ve been wanting to do this for years and kept putting it off so it’s worth every dime.

Work is good. Still in the same position, good salary, awesome work/life balance, great bosses, average challenges, minimal stress. Seems perfect, right? Yea, but I was starting to get bored and considered exploring my options. I made some moves to get the ball rolling, but God had other plans and dropped a big elephant in my lap. So now, I’m thankful for my job again because the balance allows me to focus on more pressing issues in my personal life.

I’m still healing from the surgery. I did some stupid things that caused a setback. Doc had to refer me to a unique specialist who did extensive tests to diagnose the real problem. It took a while, but she finally identified the issue and put me on a very effective treatment plan. I’m making progress. Doc thinks I’ll be good to go in about 6 weeks. I feel MUCH better already, so I think it’ll be sooner than that. But I promised to be a good patient (this time).

Hmm…what else is new? Oh, can someone come get Old Man Winter? He’s overstayed his welcome and I’m ready for spring now. K’thanx’bai!

What’s in Store for My 2015?

welcome 2015

So what’s in store for my 2015? I have no idea. I stopped creating new year’s goals and vision boards a few years ago. Now I just do what I say I’m going to do at any given time during the year and remain open to God’s will for my life. 2014 was pretty awesome, if I do say so myself. But the same as last year, I have no expectations or resolutions for 2015. Life is good. I roll with the punches. And keep my eyes on Christ. My theme for the year will be: Travel, Pray, Love.

A few things I plan to do this year:

Extensive dental work. I have a truck load of stuff that I want done, some medically necessary, some cosmetic. I added supplemental dental coverage to my basic coverage for the year and my first appointment is in 2 weeks. When I’m done, my pockets will be dry, but my smile will be flawless. Yaasss hunty!

Invest 50% of my gross income. As usual, my allotments are already set up to maximize my 401k ($18,000) and IRA ($5,500) contributions for the year. But most of my financial focus will be on growing my non-retirement investments and overall net worth. I’ve never tried to invest 50% of my income before, but it may be possible. If not, 40% is definitely feasible.

My travel bucket list is a mile long, but there are a few things on my short list (within 5 years) that I’d like to visit, see, or do. Some of them include: Mardi Gras in Nawlins, Carnival in Trinidad, ride a camel to the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, climb the Great Wall of China, relax at a renowned spa resort in Arizona, rent a beach house with my girls in the Hamptons, visit the USVIs, swim with dolphins in Florida, and do all the touristy stuff in LA. Considering the cost of my dental work, only 2 or 3 of these things are likely. Anything extra will be a bonus.

I might change my hair (straighten, cut, and/or color). This is the look I want. I’ve been saying this for years and still haven’t done it. Not sure when I’ll do it this year, but we’ll see.

Continue to study and apply the word of God in my life. I consistently ask God to purify my heart. I strive to be more compassionate, patient, and forgiving towards others. And make it a priority to be a better friend and supporter to my personal board of directors. ❤️

If I fall short or accomplish something extraordinary, it’s all good. God’s plan for my life far exceeds anything I could ever imagine for myself. So I will rely on Him to direct my steps. If He says move, I’ll move. And if He says be still, I’m ok with that too. I pray that the desires of my heart are aligned with His will and I am content with the way He chooses to bless me.

Here’s to a fantabulous 2015! Happy New Year! 🎉💃😀