First of all, THANK YOU for reading! This is my first ever blog post, so I appreciate your willingness to give my ramblings a shot.
To start, a little about me and my motivations behind this attempt at a blog. My name is Autumn, I am 26 years old, and I live in South Dakota. My full-time job is in state government but I also have a few part-time gigs (more on those later). I hold a Bachelor of Science in Homeland Security and a Master of Public Administration. I am currently on a journey towards financial independence and have been inspired by so many fantastic personal finance blogs authored by young, working professionals (most of them females). Their triumphs, struggles, and day-to-day lives are incredibly relatable and I appreciate their openness, which has led me to try a similar venture.
This is a trial run to see if I enjoy blogging as much as I think I will. I have always enjoyed writing and have found myself to be a much stronger writer than orator. Writing can truly be therapeutic and documenting my financial independence/self-improvement journey publicly is a way to keep myself accountable and track my progress. If I can help someone else in the process or provide some advice that another person finds useful, even better! While this is primarily intended to be a personal finance blog, I may also occasionally mix in posts about my travels and my weight loss journey. These are two other areas I am particularly passionate about and these aspects of my life affect one another. At this point, I fear this blog will be a jumbled mix of random thoughts, but it may work.
Earlier I mentioned how I have a few part-time jobs. This semester, I began an online position as an adjunct faculty member with my undergraduate alma mater. I am currently facilitating an Introduction to Homeland Security online course (this university utilizes facilitators once a class enrollment reaches 25 or more students). I am loving it so far because I have always loved academia and have missed the college atmosphere, although that atmosphere certainly was not conducive to a positive financial situation. This job has had a bit of a learning curve but I enjoy it, and of course the extra income does not hurt. I also wait tables an average of two nights per week at a local restaurant. This is certainly not an ideal position but on busy nights, I can easily make just as much (if not more) per hour as my full-time job. I am a firm believer that waiting tables is one of the best jobs to get you the most bang for your buck in a short period of time (my shifts are usually four, sometimes five hours long). It is sometimes rewarding but often frustrating, and I have a whole new respect and appreciation for servers when I am a restaurant patron now. I could write a book about it, but Steve Dublanica did a fantastic job with “Waiter Rant,” so for now I will live vicariously through him. I really do buy into the often-heard phrase that everyone should be a server at some point in their life. Finally, I also do some nannying/house sitting on occasion, so I stay busy. I had one other seasonal side gig for the past two years, but I think that is entertaining enough that I could do an entire blog post on it, so I’ll save that one for later.
Diversifying my income sources is important because none of these side gigs are guaranteed income – classes must have a certain number of students to necessitate a facilitator, relying on tip money is always a gamble regardless of the level of service you provide, and I only nanny/house sit when both parents from this family are out of town. The income from my full-time job is more than enough to cover my monthly expenses, but increasing my income allows me to reach my financial goals that much faster.
Speaking of financial goals, I recently (as in within the past month) paid off nearly $22,000 in student loan debt from my graduate degree. It took me about 18 months to do so, which I found impressive since I do not have a huge income. Even just a couple of years ago I never would have thought I could put that much money towards a debt. It is amazing how you manage to “find” money once you finally decide to hold yourself accountable and track your spending. I remember in college how paying a $200 car repair bill was a crisis, yet regularly dropping $50 on Whiskey Wednesday at the bar was a standard “necessity.” As we mature, so should our outlook on finances, so I’m excited to document my growth and progress here. My goal is to publish a new post once a week. I hope that isn’t an overly ambitious goal! My plan for posts in the near future include an overview of how I paid off my student loan debt in 18 months, the presence of parents in one’s financial independence journey, my weight loss journey and its relationship to my finances, and the feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop and how just when you think life is going great, an unexpected roadblock presents itself (and it’s usually one that forces you to dig out your wallet!).
Again, I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to read my very first post (hopefully the first of many), and I am open to any feedback you may have. If you’re interested in following along with me on social media, you can find me on Twitter and Instagram.