5 Lessons Learned From My First Year of Homeownership


I celebrated the day I closed on July 23rd, but because of the extensive renovations the house underwent last year, I wasn’t able to move in until September 15th, which is today!

Looking back, it’s been a weird, wild year… with the tail end of the renovation lumped into it (work wasn’t complete until November 6th of last year), and I’ve undertaken some projects myself as well. I’ve talked, written, praised and bitched about the house non-stop since I moved in. It’s become a big part of who I am and my journey on the site. Both for better and for worse sometimes.

My favorite quote from an older, wiser friend likened the first year of homeownership to the first year of being married: “You think you know what it’ll be like (because you’ve been renting…), but it’s completely different from what you knew before, and you’ll probably learn more than you ever thought in the process.” Cute, right?

I know I’ve learned more this year than I have than any other since I first went off to college, so that should tell you how much this house has taught me this year. I’ve since become the homeownership sherpa for a lot friends and people I know, which has been fun to use the experience to help others. So here are the five lessons I learned from my first year of homeownership.


When You Shouldn’t Regret Ditching Your Retirement Savings

investing and retirement blog posts


Late last week I had the opportunity to talk with a writer for CNNMoney. I responded to a HARO bite about millennial job hoppers who left significant retirement savings on the table. I fit this to a “T” and so I responded hoping to gain some exposure for the ol’ blog and enhance my stret cred as a source for other articles like this. Here is the article I’m talking about.

I’ve been going gangbusters on the press/media mentions this year, but this was the first time I was actually disappointed. I originally posted on Facebook that I had been misquoted, but that’s not true. Everything the author wrote is accurate, and is what I said, but without the color of my commentary,  my quotes were tailored to fit the tone of the article, which sounded like I regret making the choices I’ve made in the past because I missed out on significant retirement savings. This is not the case, and I wanted to elaborate a little bit more in my own space about how I felt about my own retirement situation.

While I can’t speak for all millennial job hoppers, THIS job-hopping millennial did, in fact, leave $10k in retirement savings behind when I moved from New York back to Alabama in 2012, and I do not regret it one bit. In fact, in your 20’s I don’t think retirement savings should factor into your career decisions at all. Here’s why:


I Just Impulsively Paid Off My Student Loan- Here’s Why


Last week I did something big. I paid off my student loan in one fell swoop.

The original amount of the loan was for $3800, which I took out in the Spring of 2008 to pay off my first two credit cards and put a deposit down on a house so I could escape the dorms at UAB. I don’t regret taking out the loan (I actually wrote about it here a few months ago…), but it feels like a huge weight off my shoulders. Especially since I was one of the lucky few to graduate without massive student loan burden, this loan consistently felt like a nagging nuisance…something I always put off for another day.  (more…)

Happy September!

Can you believe it is already September? I’ve always thought Labor Day signaled the “end” of the summer season, even though we still have 17-odd days left.

Thank You

I campaigned pretty hard last year to make the finals for the Plutus Awards. It wasn’t meant to be, but much to my pleasure and surprise I made the finals this year, thanks to your votes! LBMT made the finales for “Best Video Blog” and “Best Kept Secret.”

So, even though I shouted it from the rooftops yesterday via Facebook, I wanted to take a moment to formally thank you on the blog. (more…)

Amazing What A Can of Paint Can Do (Sunporch Makeover Part 1)

A few weeks ago I shared my inspiration for my big sunporch makeover. Before I left for the beach I painted, and painted, and painted like a mad man. It took longer than I thought and I barely got the room done before I left for my best friend’s wedding this weekend.

Here is what the room looked like before:

sunporch total room before

It was dark and damp, and no one spent any real time in there other than the dog.  (more…)

Final Summer Reading for Your Finances (and Soul)

power of now

I can’t believe it’s already Labor Day weekend. After what has been the longest, most painful summer of my life, I can easily say I’m ready for a nice, crisp, fall breeze to come through and whisk some of those bad memories away. One thing I will miss about summer? Summer reading!

Call it a holdover from my elementary school days, but I do way more “reading for pleasure” over Summer than I do at any other time. I love delving into a big stack of books and finishing them one by one as the summer goes by. This summer in particular, the books provided a great distraction for when I wanted to get my mind off things and completely immerse myself in another world for days on end :)

So here it is! My list of Summer Reads (and some great newsletter additions for the fall) to help you end the Summer on a high note.


Dear 20-something Women, Stop Being In Such a Rush to Get Married


Dear Women,

I’ve never been married, but I’m also one of the guilty: I’ve dreamed of getting married ever since I was young. Over the years as each of my beloved sorority sisters has wed, the feeling has only intensified. It didn’t matter if my career was going gangbusters, or I was finding new ways to make more money.. I wasn’t “in” the married club, and I was left disappointed and impatient. Until last summer when I got engaged, and I realized there are far worse things than being single (like marrying the wrong man or having an unhappy marriage for instance.)

I’ve been blogging for two years now, so I’ve had a strong interest in keeping good finances for awhile now. Still, after that traumatic experience I became obsessed with making sure I was the most financially stable and independent woman I could be. It’s been a private mission of mine for nearly a year now, but then I came across this article on a study that found that many women who marry in their 20’s and experience divorce end up even worse off financially than they would have had they remained single. Marrying the wrong guy or doing it for the wrong reasons could RUIN you financially. Here’s how: (more…)

I Need $300–> How I Hacked My Budget

how to cut spending


One of my very first posts on LBMT was about my need for a new car. (You can read it and see how far I’ve come!)Thankfully, I was spared that fate as my mother gave me her old car to drive around. It’s been a trusty vehicle for over 10 years now, but with 200,000 miles on her, the Aztek is not long for this world.

Can you believe I’m 27 and have never had to make a car payment? I consider this both a blessing and a miracle. Not having to make a car payment has saved me time and time again: when I was a starving actor right out of college, to when I was getting back on my feet after my house nearly bankrupted me. I don’t need a new car yet, but in order to prepare I wanted to hack my budget and see where a potential $3-400 car payment would fit in. (Just getting started budgeting? Before you hack see this post!) (more…)

Sunporch Dreamin’

If you follow me on Pinterest, my pinning activity is a dead giveaway for which part of the house I am going to tackle next. After nearly a YEAR of neglect, I’ve finally gotten around to tending to my dark, damp sunporch that sits on the back of the house off of the office.

Don’t scream…. but here is what I’m working with. This is the view into the sunporch from the office.

office window into sunroom before


Nominate Me for the Plutus Awards

photo (7)

I hate to come to you guys for another “ask,” especially on the heels of my reader survey (which, btw–THANK YOU to all who helped out with that) but here it is: I need your help to make the finals for the Plutus Awards.

What are the Plutus Awards?-- In short, they’re THE industry awards for financial bloggers. I’ve pleaded for votes every year, but this year is special because they are giving out an award for best video blog and I’d love it if Awkward Money Chat could be recognized.


What Do I Need from You?– Just click on this link, enter name and email, then scroll all the way to the bottom and hit submit, the form is already pre-populated with LBMT in the space for “Best Video/Multimedia” Production. You don’t even have to be a blogger to vote!

If I make the finals then a committee selects the winners, but I need as many votes as possible to get there.

Not in love with Awkward Money Chat? That’s Ok, I’d also love to be recognized for “Best Kept Secret” Finance blog, or “Best Designed Finance Blog” since LBMT recently got a snazzy new look. (Again, those links are pre-populated so knock yourselves out!)

Many, many, many thanks.

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