Category Archives: Life

Growing Up in a Low-Income Household

I grew up in a low income household. My parents immigrated to this country and worked blue collar jobs. I am the oldest child. I have a sibling who is seven years younger than me. I have always been a very aware kid. At six, I knew we were poor. While most kids prayed for toys, I prayed for my dad to be blessed with a job and for us to continue to have a roof over our head and food on the table. Even now, I pray to be blessed with more work, and for my dad to be blessed with jobs as well. When I talk to my family, I never complain about working long hours. Even if I was working 80 hours a week, my grandpa would say “more hours are great, pray for more.”

It’s a completely different mentality. My childhood experience has left some scars.

  1. Lack of money is stressful. My parents argued a lot about money while I was growing up. They argued over how much money was spent. My mom would get mad at my dad if he spent his lunch allowance too quickly. They would argue over giving money to family. I wish I could say my parents would not let us hear their arguments; unfortunately, I was present for many arguments. Maybe not all of them, but definitely a lot.
  2. I don’t want to be stressed over money. Especially not having enough money. Thus, my huge focus on growing my career and income.
  3. Every dollar has a purpose. My parents’ main problem was not earning enough. Every dollar was allocated. I’m not sure how my mom did it, but we never had utilities shut off and always had plenty to eat. She still manages her budget on very low income. While she never necessarily sat down and taught me how to budget, I learned to budget just because I didn’t want to run out of money.
  4. Control the finances. I have control over our finances. I pay the bills (although most bills are automated), set the budget, set savings goal, and set investments. It can be stressful to have so much responsibility in our marriage, but I think it would be more stressful to not have the responsibility. Sometimes I wonder, if I’m doing my husband a disservice. I try to get him involved in the finances, but he’s not the best student. (Sorry husband)
  5. Frugalness. I say frugalness because while we’re frugal, we’re not super frugal. My husband doesn’t really care about monthly budgets. There are times when I tell him, hey we need to stop spending money on X because that budget is gone, and it won’t matter. To be honest, I’m not great either. The budget is mostly a guideline. Some months we spend more, some less. We could save more money if we were tighter with money, but a lot of it has to do with our choices.
  6. Guilt with spending money. My husband says it’s weird, but I always feel guilty with big purchase items. It’s not because I feel judged. It’s just because I never grew up with such luxuries.
  7. One more thing. Personally, I don’t ever want to be financially dependent on anyone, including my husband. My mom was a stay at home mom and she had less options because she didn’t have an income source. There were a couple times were my mom wanted to divorce my dad, but she never went through with it because she couldn’t support the family financially.  Those phases probably coincided with the most stressful financial periods for my parents. And probably other reasons, but the financial aspect was always there. While there more factors than money, money was a very big deal. Having experienced the roller coaster of my parents’ marriage, I just never want to be in a situation where I can’t do something because I’m not independent enough to earn money. Maybe it’s not divorce. But what if my husband dies?  I need/want to be able to survive on my own.

Growing up in a low-income household where parents were stressed out was not a positive experience in my life. It did leave psychological scars and serves as the background to why I’m so financially minded.

Making Decisions at 27

This blog has always been about sharing the ups and downs of someone trying to manage all aspects of life: money, career, personal.

I always admire the people who have made it: Mr. Money Mustache, Root of Good, Retire by 40, and Mr. 1500 are just a few of the bloggers who inspire me. I started following them when I was 21, working on my master’s degree, and living paycheck to paycheck.

Last year, I received an opportunity to switch jobs and increase my salary. The upfront incentives were nice. It was a really hard decision to make. I was not actively looking for a new job, but was recruited through LinkedIn. I had a great boss and a really good team, but part of me wanted to grow and learn something new. I was ready for a new challenge. So, I accepted the offer. We moved across the country, my husband quit his job, took some time off, and then found a new job. So much change. So little time.

Things were going really great. I was nominated for top performer of the year, received great feedback from my manager. But then I moved to another team (I didn’t really have a choice). I was put in a very challenging role, and I was ready, and excited to tackle it. It took me a few weeks to realize my new manager is super green, micro manager, insecure, no idea what he’s doing. But I thought ok, I can do it, I can make it. Then, things started getting worse. The perfect storm. I can’t share a lot at this moment, but will write more when I can.

I had to quickly figure out what I was going to do. If I left the company for another position, I would have to pay back part of the incentives, and lose out on my employer 401K match. If I stayed, I’m not quite sure what would happen. Through the grapevine, I found out some things about the fate of the last team he managed two years ago. I started to lose faith.

I have a really strong support network. My husband is amazing. He moved across the country for me. I, also, have great friends. Great mentors.

Something else resonated with me. Stacking Cash wrote a comment on one of my posts in July. “Be and feel empowered with yourself, it will go a long ways in your life.”

I’m not sure if I’m making the right decisions. I hope I’m making the right decisions.

Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 12.58.23 PM

We are not at a point where I don’t need my job. Not FI yet. Maybe in five to ten years we will be there. But at this point, not quite there for me to just say I’m not going to have a job. But this is why FI is so important for me.

When things like this happen, and you’re faced with a situation where you don’t know what to do internally. I think the best everyone can do, especially women, is to be empowered.

Life Update: Sept 2017

My 2018’s resolutions will have to include publishing more posts. I have been MIA the past couple of months…well maybe more than a year to be honest. Once you stop writing, it’s hard to start writing again. It feels a bit weird starting to share again. But honestly, it’s very much like running. Once I finish running, I feel great. Writing is therapeutic.

About a year ago, we relocated to the MidWest for my job. It has been a year of transition. The new company has been an adjustment. Honestly, I can’t believe how much I used to complain about my old company and now, there are days where I miss my old company so much. There is something to be said about being comfortable where you are in life and how hard it is to change.

It’s been an adjustment to live in a new city and make new friends. In Dallas, we had a circle of friends, and a network to support us. In this new city, we are starting from scratch.

The allure of more money enticed me to accept my current job, but there are days where I wonder if more money was/is worth it. I increased my salary, but work more hours. Not sure. I do have to say that you get used to the increased income. We haven’t increased our lifestyle, but it’s nice to be able to save a bit more money.

Honestly, I’m looking at other options. At 27, I feel so young and old at the same time. When I was 20, I had so many dreams. I don’t feel settled at 27. Maybe it comes when I turn 30?

My anxious self often has me second guessing myself. I just have to hope that I’m making the right decisions for my career and life.

The Benefits of No Commute

When we relocated for my job this summer, we had to find a new place to live pretty quickly.Having only been in the city for twenty four hours during my final interview, the search for a place was a bit overwhelming. Since we were packing up our house, saying our goodbyes, dealing with family, and work, we had no time to go and search for a new place. Most people would be scared. Most people would choose to rent a hotel, or find another temporary assignment. But I’m not most people. 

It took me about a week to find our apartment. I asked for recommendations from several people. These people included the company’s recruiter and hiring human resources manager. We, also, lucked out when a family member recommended we get in touch with their friend in the area. We received some tips as to what neighborhoods were safe.

Then, the search began in the targeted neighborhoods. I had a budget. Our budget for housing was no more than $1,000. Ideally, we would get a 2 bedroom apartment or house.

I ended up finding an 2 bed, 1.5 bath for $965 per month. Under budget and within five minutes to work. So now, unto the benefits of no commute.

1.       More time in your day. I took part of my day back. Granted I still work long hours, but at least I can squeeze in some gym time without getting home super late.

2.       Minimize gas expenses. I fill up my gas tank max once a month. I walk to work every day and use my car to run errands.

3.       Less Miles. Since I’m driving less, my car will last longer. I have a 2007 Honda Civic, 2 door with 93,000 miles. Since Hondas are highly dependable cars, my car should last for many more years. Hopefully, well into my 30s.

 On a final note, we really like living in our neighborhood. It’s very walkable. There are many restaurants, bars, and a farmer’s market on the weekend. We do live in the city, so have to go to the suburbs to get more affordable groceries. 

Go Vote

When we were in Belize last year, our last day there was completely a day off for everyone. It was Belize’s voting day for prime minister. Stores, offices, buses were shut down. The entire country was focused on getting people from their homes to the polling places.

Do your civic duty and vote tomorrow. There are so many places where people don’t get to say. Don’t let people tell you America isn’t great. It is. Most people are very blessed in this country. We just forget to pay it forward. We have to remember to be humans and to treat others with respect.

I texted my brother this morning to remind him to vote. He had already early voted. I’m glad at 19, he is being a responsible citizen!

This will be an election I will remember for years.

Burnout at 26?

I have avoided writing this post for a long time. Why? Well, for many reasons. I feel incredibly lucky and grateful to be where I am today at 26. I did not come from a well off family. My childhood was difficult and honestly my life today is what I imagined it to be when I was young. I wanted to be a career woman and happy. I am happy. My husband is my best friend and companion, and I have found an incredible set of friends. Even though currently they are still in Texas. My relationship with my parents has been improving…slowly, very slowly. But I can’t fight off this feeling and I want to put it all out there.

I feel the burn out. I read posts from a couple years ago and there is a stark difference in overall excitement and motivation. Even thinking about going on vacation is met with thoughts about how much planning I have to do, traveling, etc. It would be just so easy to stay at home and relax.

I think the burnout really started to creep in last year. And this year with all the new changes and job, I just try to do my best to keep myself going. We haven’t taken a vacation this year, so I’m missing out on the rejuvenation from vacation. But see paragraph 2 again. And now that we have moved away further from family, we have to do crazy traveling. There are many times where I just wish we could stay at home and enjoy the downtime. But we would be labeled selfish by both sets of the family. Most people enjoy being with family. Me? It’s fun, but also a lot of work. I don’t know how the people in Friends got away with not spending holidays with family.

I, also, think my perception of my closest family is changing. You know when a couple starts having kids, and their nuclear family is their kids and themselves? I know for sure my parents see us this way. When my mom thinks of her family being together it means having her kids (my brother and I) with her. It doesn’t necessarily mean being with her family (her parents), although that would be a plus. I remember talking to my mom on this last mother’s day. She was very sad because she wasn’t going to spend mother’s day with my brother or I. But then I mentioned to her, she was actually going to spend mother’s day with my grandmother (her mom), and that my grandmother would be happy to be with her. It wasn’t the same thing, she said.

As you read this, it might not seem like a big deal. But in Mexican culture, family is very big. And so by deviating from the nuclear concept of family, I’m not only deviating from my culture, but I’m also in turn being very selfish (catholic guilt).

My husband is tackling this as well. His parents seem very liberal in their concept of spending time with family, but really are not. His mom also has a very strong concept of family.

But we all grow up. I’m growing up and my nuclear family has become my companion, my spouse. How do you translate this to your family? How do your parents begin to understand their needs are not necessarily your needs? And how do you communicate the deviation? It’s not an easy answer, especially when you care about your family and when your family is very strongly opinionated (nicest way to put it here).

Don’t get me wrong. Family is family. I still feel very strong towards them, but when you are so tired…sometimes it’s hard to balance everything.

Now to the job aspect. My last job was stressful. Tons of work, very demanding stakeholders, etc. This new job is stressful in different ways. I’m drinking from a fire hydrant and learning the politics around here. The competition is very fierce. It’s a very competitive team environment. In in front of my desk by 7 am. I often don’t leave till 6 or later. Now some might say, well just quit your job or find a way to retire early and not have a job. I don’t know if either one is the solution. Plus, it’s not the solution any time soon.

There is a reason I stepped away from monetizing and growing this blog a while ago. I need a creative outlet where I didn’t have KPIs or deadlines or have to think about others’ perception of me. I, also, don’t want to be pressured to write about how my life is very rosy and beige. It’s not black, but it’s not peachy either. I’m tackling challenges left and right. I’m battling burnout and somehow trying to figure out how to stay motivated. I’m exhausted. So exhausted. I probably wrote about this through my latest blog posts, but I never really addressed the issue as a case of burnout.

Plus, it sucks to acknowledge burn out when you have so many bloggers that are early retired. But they are just at a different point in life. I’m 26. This is what it’s like to be 26. I feel both old and young at the same time. Maybe this is why you see so many people take off and do an MBA around this age? Quitting for two years is not an option for me. One, I already have an MBA. Two, I don’t feel like being stressed out over money because I don’t have a job will help my mental state.

There is no clear answer, so I will just keep chipping away at the mountain. Tomorrow will be another day!

**Again, not depressed. Just tired. I need an entire two weeks of just sleeping, going to a spa, etc.

*** I feel for the parents that have kids. I don’t know how people fit everything in a day.Feel so much respect for parents.

Doctor’s Appointments

I hate going to the doctor. You always have to wait. Then doctors see you for five minutes. Then you wait more. Then you leave.

Time, so much time wasted.

Well, I’m new to the city, it makes it worse.

I made an appointment for today, Friday at 3 PM. I planned to leave work between 215 and 230 because it’s a 30 minute drive to the doctor’s office.

I have a meeting with a VP at 130. VP doesn’t show up till 150. Meeting runs over. Leave at 235 in a rush. Get stuck in traffic. Call to say I’m going to be a few minutes late, get told I only get a 10 minute grace period.

Get there at 314ish. Get told I need to reschedule because I was suppose to actually be there at 230. New patients must get there 30 minutes beforehand. OMG!!!

I was so MAD. UPSET! ANGRY! I took off work to go to my annual appointment.

So now, I have a middle of the day appointment next week. It’s at 11 AM. But I need to be there at 1030.

So I need to leave at 10 AM. Get there at 1030. Be check in at 11. The appointment will take at least an hour because I will wait for the nurse, doctor, etc. Then head back to work. So at least 2 hours shot next week. Wonderful. NOT.

AND you see why I hate doctors’ appointments and only go when I have to.

  • Dermatologist once a year appointment to get acne prescriptions
  • Annual
  • Physical (which can happen at the same time as my annual)
  • Dentist 2x a year
  • Urologist 1 a year to check on my kidneys (medical condition)

And that’s a lot of appointments. Growing up, I didn’t have insurance, so would only go to the doctor once a year (urologist – medical condition since 7 years).

Now that I have insurance through work, I only go 6 times. Even when i get sick, I don’t go.

Because it’s an inconvenience. The only reason I go get an annual is because I need birth control.

Pardon, not pardon, the incorrect grammar, punctuation, etc. At this point, I’ve decided this blog is to express my thoughts. So yeah, those are my thoughts. 

 

Sept 2016 Update

I’m sitting down to write a post after a very long break. I feel like my writing hobby took a backseat as I took care of other items in my list. My job role expanded with more responsibilities, the house DIY endeavors, Toastmaster officer’s responsibilities, and a couple other volunteer endeavors diverted time from my writing hobby. Nevertheless, I did keep up with my favorite blogs.

Then, out of nowhere I got a job offer and I relocated to the mid west (this probably requires a more in-depth post). Let’s just say this past summer has been the ultimate adventure. Our finances have been tested and we are settling into a new phase in our life. I’m hoping October will be our first month with regular bills. Well, before the holidays hit!

I’m learning so much at my new company, so definitely more to come on this phase.

I honestly can’t believe it’s halfway through September. The end of the year will be here before I know it. I want to get on the wagon with the hobbies that bring me happiness including working out on a daily basis and writing on my blog.

I didn’t disappear. I was just taking a break. Living life.

Corporate Fog

Well, hello again. I can’t believe it’s April. Where does time go?

I’m stuck in the corporate fog. Day in and day out. Weeks pass. Weekends come and go. So time is flying. I’m not really sure how to stop it. It is what it is.

I joined a new team in January. Well, my team merged with another team, which in turn got gobbled up by another organization. “Corporate restructuring to improve efficiencies.” My new manager is wonderful and remote. Actually our entire team is all over the world. A few of us sit in the USA and others, sit elsewhere. It’s interesting being part of a true, global team. Our manager sits in his own location and rarely sees any one of us face to face.

There is a lot of pressure to increase profit margins. Every day, the work piles on, and it seems like not enough gets accomplished. But I suppose it’s better than not having a job. The company has been laying off left and right. But it’s all part of corporate strategy now. If margins are not high enough according to Wall Street, heads will fly.

All fun! Tis’ the life of a corporate slave!

 

 

What happened to 2015?

2015

I can’t believe it’s the end of the year. Shortly, the majority of everyone around the world will be celebrating the start of a new year. I feel like 2015 was a blink in time.

I didn’t write a lot in 2015. I had a rough start dealing with some personal issues, and work became even more demanding than usual. There were a lot of days when I came home and passed out. This pattern continued through the weekend. Repeating itself over and over again. It definitely felt like groundhog day. The exhaustion left little room for any kind of creative activity. It felt that if I were to write a post, it would just be depressing. I would want rant about how exhausted I was, how miserable I was, yada, yada, yada.

I turned 25. Golly I’m 25, closer to 26 actually. I can’t believe that I’m getting older. But I don’t mind it. I feel with every year that passes by I become more confident and I begin to understand what makes me happy.

Even though I work a lot, life is easy. I like work, I like keeping my mind occupied, and well it doesn’t hurt to make some money too, right? Plus, I am in a good relationship. My husband and I, despite those days where we annoy the heck out of each other, are partners in life.

Writing this post, reminds me so much about why I enjoy writing. It is just nice to get words on paper (hah in this case, it’s online paper).

I didn’t accomplish all the financial goals I expected to in 2015, but then again, I always set goals that are bit hard to reach. You can check out my 2015 goals if you’re interested in seeing my progress. I did set some good financial habits like automating finances. Every month, contributions get transferred from our checking account to savings account. And now, there is an automatic monthly contribution to a taxable brokerage account. I am putting investment contributions on automatic. I don’t have time to keep track of when stocks go down. I just don’t have time to time the market. So I’m just going to average it out. Just like my 401K.

I’m just trying to be more patient and nicer. Being positive is better for my life, so I need to embrace positivity 200%.

Bye 2015, it’s time to embrace 2016 :)

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