What It Feels Like To Break Up With Your Best Friend

She and I met in middle school. She started taking one class a year because her parents wanted her to make friends in the local area (a difficult thing to do when you’re homeschooled and have been all your life). She came to school mid-year, and as most kids do with something shiny and new, we fled to her. She wore wild wigs & t-shirts under her spaghetti-strap dresses, and always had gum with her ready to hand out. I thought she was the coolest person I’d ever met. I was awkward, shy, and known as a wanna-be. So naturally, I hated her.

Despite my initial feelings, our friendship grew slowly as the school year was ending. The following year my parents decided to homeschool my brother and me moving forward, and it solidified our delicate new friendship.

Through high school we were inseparable. We were both aspiring musicians and writers, and spent our time creating and dreaming together. We did a lot of exploring, a lot of camping out on summer nights, and celebrated birthdays with shopping sprees and homemade gifts. We were obsessed with the Jonas Brothers, and I have a lot of fond memories of concerts, album releases, and dancing in our bedrooms. She and I also loved playing board games, and our favorite was LIFE where we got to create a pretend family and career. She always chose to go down the education part of the board first, whereas I always moved into the career part immediately.

Just like the board game we played as teenagers, our lives followed similar paths once high school ended. Things really got rocky for our friendship at that time - we were just interested in different things. She was very education-driven and was primarily absorbed in that. On the flip side, I was head over heels in an unhealthy relationship, unhealthy home life, and was motivated by my new career. We were exploring new friendships and adventures with people outside of the bubble we’d grown in together for so long, and a lot of jealous feelings that I don’t think we knew how to handle started to come up.

We broke up for the first time at that point after a fight we had. I wish I could say that I remember the details of the fight, but it’s probably better that I don’t.

Two years went by, and then I found out in the local newspaper that her dad was in a fatal accident a couple days before. I wish I had a better word to describe how horrified I was by the news - I’d basically grown up with their family and remembered her dad so fondly. Though we hadn’t seen each other or spoken in all that time, I wrote her a letter, expressing whatever condolences I could manage on a piece of paper. I never expected any sort of reply, positive or negative, but several months later she reached out.

Slowly we rebuilt our friendship, which is an interesting place to be after all that time together and all that time apart. You’re not starting from square one, but you’re not starting from solid ground, either.

A couple more years went by of trying to make our friendship work - I think we both really wanted it to work, but sometimes things, and people, just don’t.

Breaking up with your best friend feels like an enormous weight being lifted off your shoulders, while simultaneously being punched in the stomach. It feels like detoxing, and it feels lonely. It feels like you’ve been cheated when the band you both used to love so much gets back together and starts releasing music again and you can’t share that moment with her. It feels like nostalgia and resentment and heartache and hope.

It feels like growing pains.

People come and go, and I’ve accepted that she’s one that needed to go. We’ve followed the paths that we created for ourselves, and unfortunately, they don’t align with each other anymore. So no, we won’t have houses right next to each other one day, and our kids won’t explore or camp or dream together, but I’m ok with that. I really hope she’s happy.

5 Lessons I Learned Living Alone


I’m moving in with Zach…eek! I can’t express how excited and relieved I am that we are finally in a place where we can do this - it’s been such a long time coming. That said, my heart is a bit heavy leaving behind a home, and a life, that I’ve loved so much for so long. From the time I moved out of my parents’ nest until now, I have always lived alone. I built a life and a safety net for myself that I could call my own, and the thought of opening it up an sharing it with someone else is terrifying and exhilarating and messy (quite literally on that last one, we both have a lot of stuff to consolidate).

So since I’m embarking on this new and exciting journey, I thought I’d reflect on some of the finer life lessons I’ve learned during my precious years of solidarity.

Any Furniture Is Good Furniture

Being only 20 and having just spent almost my entire savings on a home and all of it’s upfront and costly repairs, I realized I had very little left to spend on the furnishings to actually fill the place. I spent weeks frantically scouring the internet for as much used, often mismatched, furniture and housewares I could find to complete my new little home. Coupled with hand-me-downs and Goodwill treasures, I piece-mealed each room into its own unique space.

Would I have loved to decorate my house like my dreamiest Pinterest board right out of the gate? Of course. But when you live alone, and especially when you’re in your first place or two, you realize pretty quickly that those things don’t matter as much. There are bills to pay and food to buy and many more expenses you never even realized could occur, so settling for a $25 dining room table from Craigslist or living off a single frying pan for nearly 3 years becomes a welcomed accomplishment.

Prioritize Yourself

This lesson took me a while to really grasp. Sure I paid my bills on time and I made sure Daisy didn’t starve, but I certainly did a shit job of taking care of myself for a while. I would routinely go days without leaving the couch, even to sleep. I avoided the grocery store until it was absolutely necessary, and only ate until it was absolutely necessary. I neglected my hobbies and isolated myself a lot. And sometimes I would do the opposite and “friend binge” for weeks at a time, partying and doing as much as I could to avoid responsibilities and the thoughts in my own head.

While it took me some time to figure out I was depressed, it didn’t take me nearly as long to figure out how pull myself out of it. I started working part-time at a local coffeehouse to meet new people, I went on more hikes with Daisy and took trips by myself. I started making time for friends and family, and dedicated time for myself to re-charge and reflect. I realized that living alone, and being an adult in general, meant that I was responsible for my own well-being and happiness. No one was there to check up on me to make sure I got dressed in the morning or didn’t spend all day in front of the TV. I had to prioritize myself first so the rest could thrive.

Your Standards Will Change

For better or for worse, they will change. Living alone, you may find yourself not wearing pants (or any clothes at all, I’m not judging) around the house, or going days without doing dishes because no one else is around to nag you about them. Oppositely, you will realize that utilities are expensive, and come winter you might opt to throw on another layer instead of raise the thermostat.

My personal standards for how I keep myself and my house have changed drastically over the past few years, most of which has to do with me simply growing up a little. I don’t leave lights on like I used to, nor do I let the dishes pile up or the floors stay dirty for too long. I hate having clutter and waste, so these standards I’ve set are ones I can live with, but ultimately living alone gives you the freedom to set those standards, whatever they may be. And boy, that’s freedom at its finest.

Get Comfortable With DIY

When you live alone, and especially if you own your own home, mastering DIY projects can feel like an enormous challenge at first. You’re either faced with fumbling through it on your own or hiring someone, and both options suck when you’re inexperienced and broke. In my first couple years of living alone I navigated broken toilet handles, ripping up carpet, painting, leaky sinks, frozen pipes, landscaping, and more.

These sorts of necessary home projects aren’t always my favorite way to spend an afternoon, but I have become a lot less fearful of tackling them on my own…or at least trying to before calling a professional!

You’ll Love Yourself More

Living alone gives you ample quality time to get to know yourself better. You’ll learn new hobbies, pick up new friends along the way, and learn things about yourself that you otherwise might not have had the chance to explore if not for the solitude of your own space. Living alone gave me the chance to read more, write more, play music more, explore more, and enjoy more, and do it all on my own terms and on my own time.



7 Easy Ways To Save Money On Christmas Shopping


Oh yeah, I’m going there; Christmas is far too expensive. With all the new, ever more costly things that exist on the market nowadays, Christmas shopping and Christmas in general has become entirely too stressful. Who knows, maybe because I’m finally a real-ish adult this is just the reality that I have been blissfully sheltered from my whole life. If that’s the case, I’m making it my mission to challenge it. I fully believe Christmas, or whatever holiday you celebrate this time of year, can be equally enjoyable and affordable if you put in enough planning, effort, and time.

Here are 7 truly easy ways you can cut back on excessive spending this Christmas season, and help you enjoy he holiday without breaking the bank!


1. Make A List & Commit To It

Nope, not the naughty or nice list.

Making a list of who to shop for helps set the stage for everything else (ie. how much to spend, what to buy, when to buy it, etc), and it will help you stay organized when shopping, ultimately saving you money. Start with your must-haves, the people you actually need to gift something to, usually immediate family and significant others. Then move on to friends, extended family, and co-workers. This is where it might get tricky, because this list might be a bit more lengthy. Remove anyone that you aren’t expecting a gift from, anyone who you don’t talk to or hang out with on a regular basis, and anyone who you otherwise wrote down because you felt obligated to. Pick your core group, and add them to your shopping list. Once you have your list of people, stick to it. Don’t deviate because a last-minute straggler popped up that you feel obligated to shop for, or because you found something that “they would totally love!”. While it’s incredibly thoughtful, it’s not good for your wallet.

Use this list as your road map during the holiday chaos. I usually use my list to keep track of my gift ideas, actual gifts purchased, budgets, and dates for gift exchanges. It’s the best way I’ve found to keep my priorities and my money on track.


2. Set A Budget

So while you’re diligently figuring out who to include on your shopping list, set each person with a budget. I personally like the person-by-person budgeting method because it gives me a clearer idea when I’m shopping what I can and can’t buy, otherwise I’d go overboard on everyone right out of the gate. Some people on my list are usually set a little higher, depending on what I’m either willing to spend or what I want to gift them, while some are set lower. You could also just set a spending cap for your shopping as a whole, which is an effective way to make sure you don’t get wrapped up in last-minute spending or unexpected expenses (like I always forget about gift wrapping…always).

Once you’ve decided on your budget, set that money aside, either literally with cash or figuratively by just keeping track of it through your bank account, and stick to it while shopping. It’ll make the whole process a lot less overwhelming and it’ll save you money in the long-run.


3. Start Early

Fellow procrastinators, here is my challenge to you. I challenge you to even just consider Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving and see how that feels. Scary? Maybe. Too soon, perhaps? Halloween just ended after all. But is it any less terrifying or overwhelming than ordering that last-minute scented candle for your aunt because you think you remember her saying once she liked the smell of cinnamon and you can’t think of anything else to get her and it’s 3 days before Christmas and you’re hoping that your AmazonPrime doesn’t fail you this time?

Yeah, start early. Get a game-plan (the list!), and don’t put it off. You’ll have time to really think about something meaningful to give, and you won’t feel rushed, which is where a lot of impulse, and expensive, purchases tend to to happen.


4. “Treat Yo’ Self” Less

The more you spend on yourself, the less you can spend on others, plain and simple. Do yourself, and your wallet, a favor and cut off big-ticket, splurge spending on yourself mid-to-late October. No shopping sprees, no additional spa days, and nothing off your wish-list. Take it a step further & limit your everyday non-essential spending, too. Maybe skip that 5th trip to Starbucks this week, or pack your lunch more often. A little here and there saved goes a long way, and it can really help boost your funds for Christmas gifts.

Does this mean you have to live off beans and rice the last 3 months of the year? Definitely not. But being conscious of your extra spending habits, especially during the holidays, will only help you better keep track of what you can and can’t spend on gifts. Not sure where to start? Read #6.


5. Get Crafty

If you really want to flex your DIY muscle this Christmas, handmade gifts are always an excellent option for anyone on your shopping list. Projects like handmade pottery, decorated glassware, or photo collages all are completely do-able (trust me, I’ve accomplished all of these and more, and my crafting skills are moderate at best). Not only will it show that you really put extra time and thought into your gift, but it’s also super effective in saving money, especially if you have a lot of people on your shopping list that are hard to shop for. Use inspiration from Pinterest, or browse crafty bloggers like Earnest Home Co. or Poppytalk.

Growing up, the tradition in my family became gift baskets. Each member in my immediate family would contribute one or two crafted items that they were responsible for to include in the basket. When this tradition started, we had a lot of extended family to shop for, so doing it this way cut down on time and costs because we did a lot of things in bulk (food items mostly), while saving dedicated time for the more personalized crafts. The tradition, happily enough, still continues to this day. This year, I have even taken the lead on my own gift basket to give to some on my shopping list. SOS.


6. Shop Sales

This one kind of feels like a no-brainer, but I feel it bares repeating. Sales. Are. Your. Best. Friend. I know the Black Friday sales and Cyber Monday sales and whatever other day of the week sales they come up with always seem very flashy and kind of unnecessary, but if you’re looking to save an extra buck, sales are the easiest way to do it. Take advantage of them as much as you can, even the ones in your inbox you ignore every other day of the year.

My one and only Black Friday experience (I’m sorry, but Cyber Monday exists now sooo…) I stumbled upon a dramatically cheap tablet that I gifted to my mom that year for Christmas. It was one of my better, more useful, gifts to her over the years, and I wouldn’t have even considered it at full retail price, so I’m extremely happy that I found it, and found it at the price that I did. (Mom, since you’re reading this, I’m sorry you had to find out this way.)

My point is, don’t let your pride get in the way of a good deal. A lot of retailers purposely discount and clearance items around the holidays and there’s no reason not to jump on it. When you go to a store, shop the clearance rack first. Hell, even hit up a Goodwill or another thrift store. Those places are gold mines if you look hard enough. It might take more time to do more diligent price comparisons and thrift shopping, but it’ll save you big bucks this Christmas.


7. Use Cash-Back Rewards & Price Comparison Apps

On the subject of price comparison, do yourself a favor and install Honey. This isn’t a paid plug, I just genuinely love this extension. Every time you shop Honey does all the heavy lifting for you as far as scouring the internet to find cheaper prices for whatever you’re buying, or finds relevant coupons for that store that you can automatically apply to your checkout. It even has a cash-back program, so after a while of online shopping (which, let’s face it, you’re going to do anyway), you can end up earning some of that back.

Cash-back rewards are also available on a lot of major credit cards, and that’s something that can definitely help save (or at least recover) costs during Christmas. It’s really simple; every time you buy something on your cash-back credit card, you’re expected to pay it back right away anyway, but as an added bonus your credit card rewards kick back an extra few dollars to you just for using the card in the first place. As long as you don’t spend yourself into more debt than you can reasonably pay off, this strategy can work really well.


tell me some of your favorite shopping hacks in the comments!

Things I Learned Growing Up On A Farm


When I was 10 my parents moved us from the suburbs of Columbus to Newark, Ohio, to a small stone house built upon itself over generations and nestled in a lush valley. In Columbus, we'd already kept a thriving garden, chickens, ducks, and even turkeys in our tiny fenced-in backyard, but all of a sudden we had 6 acres of wilderness to roam, play, and grow, and grow we did. 

I remember Dad telling us to not wear shoes in the tall grass so that our feet would toughen up, and I remember our first garden being plowed through the acres of unused land. I learned it was really important to make friends with the neighbors, especially the ones who had proper farm machinery, and I learned why you have to alternate corn and soybeans in fields. 

I remember us bringing home a little orange kitten that was for sale up at the corner store, and I remember when that kitten got eaten by a possum. There was a great deal of death on the farm, especially living on a busy, high-speed road, but there was even more life. There were chicks, calves, puppies, and kittens, nearly all of which we witnessed entering the world and leaving it. I learned how to properly kill, clean, and gut a chicken, and how to cook one.

I remember thinking the woods were magical, and I remember following the deer paths until I was thoroughly lost. I learned how to find my way home every time, and I learned who's property to not explore through. I learned that deer are territorial, fawns will hide in the underbrush, and vines are really fun to swing on. Dad built us a fort in the woods to hide in, and I learned boredom breeds imagination. 

I remember spending summers in the creek, and learning how to catch crawdads with my bare hands. My brother and I learned to build a shelter made of branches and leaves, and how to start a fire to cook said crawdads on (not good for eating). I learned that the creek bank changes with the seasons, as do some of the creatures who inhabit it. Snapping turtles are no joke (good for eating), and it was a good time to fish after a solid rain.

I remember Mom and Dad buying me a horse for Christmas when I was 14, and I remember wishing I could ride her bareback through the meadows like a country princess like I'd imagined I could be. I learned that dream was unrealistic, horses are expensive, and they take a lot more work and care than I was prepared for (despite the countless books I read). I also learned that if you offer a free horse on Craigslist, you'll make a lot of friends. 

I remember incredibly hot, humid, non-air-conditioned summers, and learned that before sunrise and after sunset were the best times to get work done. The creek was the only place to find relief, and I learned that rain, no matter the season, was a good thing. In winter, I learned that ice could knock out power but it was really fun to skate on.

I remember taking produce to the local Farmer's Market early every Saturday morning during the summer and fall, and how excited I was to get my cut from the daily earnings. I learned how to accurately count back money, talk to adults properly, and make a damn good salsa. 

I remember wanting to leave home really, really badly, and that the city lights seemed more enchanting than the lightning bugs on summer nights. I've taken for granted the things I learned and experienced growing up on that little farm, and how those lessons shaped the adult I am today. I've learned to equally love walking through the woods as much as I do the sidewalks of a city, but more importantly, I've learned to make my own way, brush the dirt off if I fall down, and always be home for Sunday dinner. 

6 Productivity-Killing Activities You're Wasting Time On

When's the last time you evaluated how you spend your time? Everyone has the same 24 hours to work with, yet remedying some very crucial time-wasters could help you unlock your full potential and ultimately reach your goals. Here are 6 easily-identifiable and sometimes silent productivity-killers that you should stop wasting time on right now.

1. Multitasking

The human brain was not meant for multi-tasking (as a woman who convinced myself otherwise, I'm deeply troubled). The mental juggling act that most of us do during the day often times costs us more time in the long run than we realize. Especially when it comes to more complex tasks and projects, taking a minute to jump over to your email, for example, can completely derail your focus, making it that much harder to come back to it. Schedule email and social breaks when possible and acceptable, and try working on just one task at a time to maximize your efficiency and focus. 

2. Dwelling On Mistakes

Think back to the last time you made a mistake. If you're like all human beings everywhere ever, it probably wasn't that long ago (hell, I can count 3 of my own just today). Even the best and the brightest of us make mistakes, and while it's not awesome to fail at something, it's also a huge opportunity to learn and grow, which will prevent the mistake from happening again, therefore, saving time on re-hashing the same problem. You become more productive and overall more successful in your professional and personal life when you stop wasting energy on the failure and focus instead on correcting it moving forward. Acknowledge, correct, take notes, move on, repeat. 

3. Watching TV

The average American watches up to 5 hours of TV a day, which adds up to about 35 hours a week spent not being productive. How much more could you get done if you limited yourself to 2 hours a day or less? How much more time could you have to create, read, learn, write, exercise, cook, play, and spend time with loved ones? And that's not to say taking time to wind-down after a long day is a bad thing (trust me, I'm all for binge-watching my favorite shows at the end of a workday), but if you have goals and you're willingly spending your precious free time on TV or other media, you're not doing yourself any favors. 

4. Spending Too Much Time On Social Media

Just like with TV, we as Americans spend an astonishing amount of time on social media. Even though it's often times used as an effective tool used for businesses to reach and engage with their audience, it can also become a very dark hole to get sucked into if not moderated. I'll be honest, I'm guilty of spending far too much time scrolling through my Instagram and Facebook feeds aimlessly, especially in the evenings when I am winding down. The trouble is that all too often 5 minutes becomes an hour and before you know it you've creeped through 6 different profiles to find out where your ex-boyfriends' brothers' friends' sister works because you're pretty sure you saw her at that restaurant the other day and you just need to know (don't lie to yourself we've all been there). Bottom line, don't waste time scrolling here when it could be spent living life out there. 

5. Being Unorganized

Even if you feel like you have a "method to the madness", most likely your "madness" is actually costing more time overall that could be spent more effectively. Being unorganized in your personal and professional life will make you less efficient, more stressed, and cause you to miss important deadlines. If you've ever missed a utility payment or an event invite in the pile of junk mail on your kitchen table then you know exactly what I mean. Set auto-payments, schedule calendar reminders, color-code notes, plan your meals weekly, or start your day with a small to-do list - whatever it takes to keep shit together. Because let's be honest, being an adult is hard and there's a lot to remember. 

6. Putting Others' Needs Above Yours

If you haven't taken the time to figure out what matters to you and what your goals are, you'll end up spending a lot of time worrying about other people's goals and to-do's. It might feel at the time that you're doing the right thing by being a good friend and showing up to the millionth brunch your friends have planned and invited you to, but if that Sunday morning you'd rather go to yoga because you told yourself you would, read a book because you haven't finished it yet, take your dog for a walk because she's hyper and you need fresh air, or otherwise do anything at all except brunch, then by all means, you do you. It feels selfish, because it is, and my point is that sometimes it's ok to be selfish with your time and energy. Holding onto your goals and values tightly will make them take center stage when it comes your decision-making on an every-day level, and you'll waste less of your time on others' priorities when those priorities become overwhelming and emotionally draining. 


What Could You Do With Extra Time In Your Day?

7 Ways Spring Clean Your Life

April is nearly over and if you're in the Midwest/Northeast like me, you understand the legitimate struggle that has been this spring season. Nonetheless, spring is here as is the season to refresh, clean out, and reflect. Time to shake off the snow (even if it means just metaphorically for some of us) and in the spirit of all things refreshing and clean, I have some tried and true tips on how to go about a little spring cleaning for your life. Since it's not my goal to add more to your to-do list, I narrowed this list to only 7 "cleaning" hacks I've found most helpful. Bonus: you'll get some on-going tricks to help you turn these actions into habits! 

If these don't leave you feeling as fresh as a daisy, I don't know what will.


1. Purge Your Closet

This is honestly one of my favorite ways to get that super satisfied, "I'm in control of my life" feeling. Have a hard time letting go of your stuff? Ask yourself these questions: "Have I worn this item within the year?", "Is it something I feel really good in?", "Would I trade this for that other item I've been eyeing?" Answer honestly! Once you've made your purge pile, decide what's worth selling (I love Poshmark & thredUP!), and what can be donated.

On-going habits: every few months scan your closet for items you're willing to sell/donate. This will keep you from having to do one big purge every year, and allow space for new items you buy throughout the season. Win-win!

2. Clean Up Your Inbox & Phone Apps

Photos, apps, emails, oh my! Boy, they pile up, don't they? I, for one, cannot stand getting those pesky reminders that my storage is full or filtering through the 5 million promotional emails in my inbox daily. First, unsubscribe to emails that you no longer open or care to see. Since this can often be a tedious process, use a service like Unroll to cut down on the hassle. Next, set up a digital storage system for your photos and other files you might have stored on your phone/computer. If you're an Apple user, iCloud automatically does this for you, but you probably want to check up on how much storage is available since it can be limited. Personally, I like Google Drive and Google Photos because I can access them anywhere and easily share albums with family members who lack Apple devices. Finally, take a look at the apps on your phone. When is the last time you actually played Candy Crush? Seriously, just delete the apps you're not using. If you need them again, you can always re-download them.

On-going habits: set limits on how many apps or photos you'll keep on your phone at a time, and create monthly reminders for yourself to back-up your phone. Get in the habit of unsubscribing to retailers you're not actively using, or create a new folder in your inbox specifically for promotional-type emails that clog your inbox from the important stuff.

3. Refine Your Relationships

This is probably one of the most difficult but most necessary evaluations you'll do for your spring/life cleaning. It's easy enough to identify - if someone leaves you feeling uncomfortable, unworthy, shameful, or otherwise bad, it's time to cut that toxicity out. Really take some time to narrow down who is a part of your life and what purpose they're serving. Feel confident and worthy enough in yourself to allow only people in your life that bring you joy, fulfillment, and comfort. Though the process may not be easy nor quick, those who no longer fit into your life will gently find the exit on their own over time.

On-going habits: do regular check-ins with yourself to evaluate how you feel about the relationships in your life. Getting into the habit of identifying whether you're feeling drained or fulfilled will help you prevent toxic relationships from forming in the first place. Set standards for yourself and stick to them. You're worth it!

4. Practice Gratitude

Often when we're feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or simply hustling hard, we sometimes forget to take necessary pauses for reflection. I'll be the first to admit I am guilty of this. One of the most effective ways I've found to ground myself in moments of anxiety, pressure, and chaos is to quickly list (whether verbally or written) the top 10 things I'm grateful for. Often they surround loved ones and the little moments of joy I find during the day. It centers me, grounds me, and reminds me why I'm working so hard. 

On-going habits: There's a lot of psychological and physical benefits to practicing gratitude routinely. Grab a journal and start making lists of the good things that happened today, what you're thankful for, or what makes you happy whenever it feels right. Challenge yourself to do this every week or even every day! 

5. Refresh Your Fitness Routine

Maybe you're fully committed to your gym schedule as it stands, or perhaps you're not quite sure where to start in the fitness world. Either way, switching up your schedule and creating new, positive habits can have a drastic effect on your health overall. You'll get into shape and feel actual achievement for your efforts. For example, never tried yoga? Pick up a yoga mat (or just grab a blanket) and test some at-home YouTube options! How about a spin class? Sign up for a trial class with a friend - it'll keep you both accountable and you can share your successes (or misery) with each other. Maybe you're hitting the gym 2 times a week already, so challenge yourself to go 3 or 4!

On-going habits: feeling burnt out in your fitness routine, especially if you're doing it alone, is easy to do. Go with a friend, share your successes online, or simply update your regime every couple months to help you stay feeling fresh and energized to reach your goals.

6. Set a Budget

If you're not budgeting already, you need to start now. No matter your status financially, you should know how much money is coming in and how much is going out each month. It's sometimes a hard habit to pick up - I personally struggled for years to find a method that worked for me (Mint is a great option to get you started!). Eventually, I worked out a simple daily checks and balances system that breaks down what extra spending money I can use for things like social outings, clothes, and traveling by month, week, and even down to the day.

As with most large tasks, start small. Start with notating your daily spending - everything from parking meters to dinner. Write down every time you buy something and how much you spent (pro tip: use the notes section of your phone for easy access). Do that every day for a week, then compare that to what you earned that week. Did you overspend? Figure out where you could've skipped that extra latte or perhaps waited to purchase the ever-growing shopping cart on Amazon and challenge yourself to cut down your spending by 1 or 2 non-necessary items next week. 

On-going habits: starting these habits that feel tedious now will make them so much simpler down the road, and you'll be amazed at how easily you'll start saving money for things you never thought you could afford. Adjust your budget as necessary - monthly expenses change, as will your goals. Allow yourself an every-once-in-a-while #treatyoself moment, too! 

7. Reevaluate Your Career Goals

This is so important. Checking in on your career goals will help you not only stay focused for the long-haul, but also will help to get through that daily grind and face the day. If you're like most people, your career path has been messy up to this point and probably will continue to be. Meaning, it hasn't gone in the linear projection you'd expected upon exiting school. You might not even be in the field you originally wanted. But hey, a girl's gotta pay the bills, right? (I, for one, have a very hungry dog to feed). So maybe the job you're in now isn't your dream job, and that's ok. But remember to stop and ask yourself these questions: "Am I fulfilled with what I'm doing?", "Am I learning something that will serve me in future roles?", "Are the opportunities here worth my time?". No to any of those? It might be time to reevaluate the job you're in, and perhaps the career path you're on. I left a well-paying, secure job in an industry I actually enjoyed (and still do) because I genuinely answered "no" to all of those questions. I discovered the world of marketing and rediscovered my love for writing shortly thereafter, and it's propelled me back into the creative atmosphere I'd forgotten I crave. 

On-going habits: make it a point to try new things, meet new people, and read new books. Do things that challenge you, educate you, and expand your horizons. There's a quote by Charlie Jones that I love that is, "You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read." Take the time to invest in yourself, and keep your mind open to the possibility of new opportunities as they arise. 

Happy cleaning, friends!

What are your favorite ways to feel refreshed & renewed? What are some on-going habits you've developed that you find most helpful?