Random Life Update

I haven’t done a random life update in awhile, so I figured this was as good time as any. I’ve been blogging for about 15 months now and it’s crazy to think about how many changes my blog has gone through.

When I started this blog, it was mostly to document my adventures in side hustling and to get out of debt. Since then, I’ve paid off my credit card debt, quit my day job, moved across the country and started my own business. That’s a lot of changes!

Here are some random things happening!

Happy 12 year home anniversary to me

Can you believe I bought my first home when I was 22?! I can’t either. Looking back, I was such a baby! But I was super responsible, had great guidance, found a good starter home under budget and loved it. Instead of selling it, I’ve been renting it out for a while. It’s been the best way to pay off my mortgage and then some. 

I’m not a vegan but…

I decided to give up meat and seafood this year. I caved once (darn you Chik Fil A), but have otherwise been in the clear. I also gave up milk, but still eat cheese. I seriously don’t know how to give up cheese.

I don’t know if this will be indefinite (or if I can maintain it), but I’m exploring what this lifestyle is all about.

From a savings perspective, I’m not saving any money at all off my grocery bill. Instead, I am using the difference to buy more organic and higher quality ingredients.

I might be moving…again

Yeah, I’m crazy. I spent almost 2 years in Seattle, and six months ago I relocated from Seattle to Nashville.

But the closer I get to home (I’m from Florida), the more I get the itch to go back to my old life. It was a crazy experience leaving the South for the PNW, but I miss friends, family and everything familiar. Nashville is beyond amazing though and I would be sad to leave. Ugh, decisions!

Related reading:

A few financial reasons I want to move home

My car is dying a slow death

My car was a college graduation present and is turning twelve this year. While she is certainly not ancient, she’s had some issues. In the past year I’ve spent over $3,000 on things and now the transmission is a little wonky. My goal was to get her to 200,000 miles and we are hovering around 180,000. I totally understand car expenses, but I’m annoyed.

Sadly, I no longer trust her on any more long distance road trips for safety reasons. At what point do you say enough is enough, and make the decision to get a new (or new to me) car? If I moved, I could use some of my savings towards a new car.

Finish paying off my medical debt

Last year I got really sick and ended up in the ICU. Even with insurance, I owed nearly $10,000. Right now I have a payment plan that is 0% interest, pay $150 a month and it is not visible on my credit score. This is great, but I feel like I will be paying this off for the rest of my life.

Trust me, this debt is 100% worth it and I’m grateful to be alive. But I also really hate having this debt, even though it’s not affecting my credit score. I want to pay it off and be debt free. If I moved back home, I could pay this off more aggressively.

My living expenses 

If you read my blog from the very beginning, I used to write a monthly expense report. This included what I paid in rent, living expenses, groceries, etc. I stopped doing this report several months ago, but I thought I’d do an update.

After moving from Seattle to Nashville, my expenses definitely dropped. Can you believe I used to spend over $1,500 a month for a tiny, 530 square foot studio apartment? And over $400 a month in parking? Yeah, me neither. Since moving, my rent in Nashville has gone down to $900ish each month, my place is twice as big and my savings are amazing.

Of course, if I moved back into my house in Florida, my mortgage would be around $300ish a month (I have a really low mortgage payment with an awesome rate). That’s a lot of savings! Remind me again why I left home? 

FinCon is gonna be awesome

I am so excited to go to my first blogging conference ever this year! FinCon is this amazing personal finance blogging conference I have been reading about for a couple years and so many people go each year. I really want to meet everyone in person and totally love the PF community.

I’ve just finished getting my plane tickets, got a roomie (yay Chonce!) and my FinCon ticket. Is anyone else going?

I’ve been self employed for 5 months

Can you believe this? I (carefully planned) quit my job in October and have been on my own for over 5 months. I don’t know if I like the word freelancer though. It sounds so sporadic. I’ve managed to create my own Pinterest management business with my blog and it’s been a crazy ride.

I also freelance for a start up company on the West Coast, but don’t really mention it much on this blog since it’s unrelated.

At the end of the day, I am 100% on my own, so call it freelancing or what you want!

Health insurance sucks

By far, having to get my own health insurance plan has been the toughest part about being self employed. If anything, it’s been a battle. In just five months, I’m on my third insurance plan. My first plan was discontinued after a month, the second plan was bait-and-switch, so now I’m on my third plan.

Even though I pay a ridiculous amount each month, it sucks. I can’t find any doctors who will accept my insurance in my area (my plan is through healthcare.gov). My monthly medication went from $80 to $530 and I had a total breakdown at the Target pharmacy when I learned of my new payment. I seriously don’t know what to do. How can I pay so much and get so little?

Nashville is awesome

Growing up, everyone who graduated college knew if they wanted to move to a “big city” in the South, it was Atlanta. How has Nashville never been on the radar?

This city is amazing and I love it here. I have some family here and there is no other place in the US that has genuinely nicer people. Whether or not you are into country music, this city has something for everyone. 

I wrote a book…and a course!

So much excitement has happened in the past six months. My blog has been a launching pad to help me grow.

I wrote a book about all the side hustles I have done to earn extra money. Each side hustle is legit and I love being able to share how I make money!

In a totally unrelated category, I went from 1,000 monthly page views to 160,000 page views thanks to Pinterest. I have had so many inquiries about how other bloggers and businesses can duplicate this that I started offering services and consultations. Because I can’t help everyone – and a lot of people want tips – I created a Pinterest course.

Without this blog, these opportunities never would have been available.

What are you up to? What goals are you working on?

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  1. Hi Kristin! My son has Hashimoto’s disease which is an autoimmune thyroid disease. We went onto the autoimmune paleo protocol diet to heal his leaky gut. I had not idea he was gluten intolerant because he never had any stomach issues? We got IgG food sensitive testing done through Red River Health and Wellness Clinic. He had a headache that would not go away (for months!) and his doctors could not find out what was wrong with him. I accidentally left off “not” in my last sentence. We are not totally Paleo now. We mostly eat Paleo, but we do sometimes eat white rice and sometimes we’ll have cheese, or gluten free pizza as a splurge. He’s doing great now! My daughter had IBS so I had her tested too and she was also gluten intolerant. She gave it up and her stomach issues went away! I didn’t get tested but I do feel better eating a primarily paleo diet. I used to get pain in my shoulder all the time from a car accident we had in 2008. When I stopped eating gluten, it completely went away. I sleep better and I’m less anxious too. Going gluten free has been the best thing we’ve done for our health. It was hard, at first, but now, it’s our new normal. I never would have guessed that gluten does so much harm to your body that you don’t even realize. I would suggest you try the Whole30 (they have a web site) and see how you feel after that and if your health improves. It’s amazing how just by eating whole foods your body can heal itself, even if you didn’t think your health issues were related to diet! Sorry, I’m sort of on the anti-gluten band wagon here. Good luck!

    1. Hi Sharon,

      That’s so crazy all the benefits to not eating gluten! I am def going to look into it! I’ve heard of Whole30 but worry about doing it since I’m not eating any meat or fish. My main health issue was related to when I collapsed last year- I was sick with pneumonia and stopped breathing. It was totally random as I rarely get sick πŸ™‚

  2. Hey Kristin! Love your blog and I’m so excited that you’ve been so successful. Sorry to hear about your health issues, and yes, private insurance does suck! I’m self employed so I feel your pain! I know you said you gave up meat and seafood, and I don’t know the extent of your health issues, but my son got diagnosed with an autoimmune disease last year. Little did I know that he was gluten intolerant which lead to him getting a leaky gut and autoimmunity! I also found out that my daughter was also gluten intolerant. We actually went the Paleo route to get his gut healed. He is doing much, much, better now so…just something you might want to look into. It was a big adjustment at first, but it’s actually a super healthy way to eat. We are totally Paleo now, but I strive to feed us really healthy, whole foods and we never, ever have anything with gluten. Best of luck!

    1. Hi Sharon! Eek, I should have clarified my health issues were not related to my diet, even though it makes sense to think they were related. I gave up certain foods for ethics issues ( I feel like if I can’t kill it myself I shouldn’t be eating it – I know, I’m weird) although I am probably going to probably start eating fish soon πŸ™‚ How do you like Paleo? Has your health changed since going gluten free?

  3. Talk to your doctor about your vegan diet. You may end up anemic and trust me, that is not fun.

    1. Eek! Thanks for the tip Cheryl!

  4. I eat mostly fish and veggies, but I can’t give up cheese either. I just love it! I just moved back to LA, where I’m from, and I’m SO HAPPY! Do what feels right for you.

    1. Oh yay!! I didn’t know you were from LA – my lil bro lives there πŸ™‚ I think the hardest part about moving is just doing it. So excited for you!

  5. Jenny Sathre says:

    Hello Kristen!!
    This is my first time reading your blog so all of your life ranting was wonderful for me to see! I have a better grasp of where you’ve been and what you’ve accomplished as well as your heart to help others!! Thank you!! I’m interested in the Pinterest course and will go look at the cost and add it to my budget!
    I am self employed also and always looking for new ways to make a little extra cash and how to do what I do better! I have tinkered with the idea of a blog and will most likely get more serious with it in the near future!
    Welcome back to the southern end of the states!! We are originally from MN but moved to Lousianna 3 yrs ago after snow birding for a few yes prior. We love it!!
    The insurance issue is tough! I totally agree with you in the cost! It’s crazy for so many! Iam very blessed to have coverage though my husbands military service! And I so know it! Have you tried those free RX cards that are out there? It depends on the medication you take but I know folks that have saved 100.00 plus dollars on their mess! Also try bargaining with your pharmacy to stay with them! You could possibly get gift cards for the store! Just let them know you are looking around for the best deal for you and your giving them the opportunity to keep your business! The worst they will say is no and you may find a better deal!
    Ok long enough reply. All this to say thank you! You are a truly inspiring!
    Jenny Sathre

    1. Hi Jenny!

      Thanks for all your tips. My pharmacy was able to find me a coupon so I could get one of my meds for free for a month, yippee! There isn’t a generic drug for what I need (that my pharmacy could recommend) so I’ve been advised to find a new specialist in my area and see if we can try something else. I’m struggling to get in to see any doctor with my “silver” plan from Cigna via Healthcare.gov’s website. I really need a new plan, but have no idea how to find one!

  6. Health insurance does stink! My hubby has a great job but we still pay $1500 out of pocket for family coverage.

    It sounds like Florida is calling your name! It will be fun to watch your move!

    1. Holy cannoli, are you serious?! Ok, I’ll stop complaining now πŸ™‚

  7. Kristin,

    I can totally relate on the cost of living issue. I moved from the DC area to the Midwest and saved $400 per month just on rent. It sounds like leaving Nashville might be kind of tough, especially with family there.

    I’m sure this was a tough post for you (this introvert is raising her hand slowly), but I’m so glad you did. You’ve accomplished so much in a little time and you’ve got a lot to be proud of.

    I’m looking forward to your Pinterest course. I’ve put it in my April budget. πŸ™‚


    1. Thanks Regina! If I go back to FL, the majority of my family and all my friends are there, so it would be lovely πŸ™‚ How do you like the midwest? That’s a nice chunk of money to save each month!

      1. I absolutely love the midwest – friendly folks, family values, lower cost of living. Moving was the best decision I could have made.

  8. The $300 house payment is cool. That is my current big Financial goal. It will probably take me 2 years to get there. My plan is to buy a duplex, 2 bedrooms each side. I’d like to live in one and rent the other. I’ve found a few possibilities that would make my rent $300 when the other side was rented. I would love to have a few years of stashin cash!

    ~ Christie

    1. Super smart idea! I’ve thought about this as well – renting out half and live in half. I always had a roomie at my house, so it pretty much paid for my rent. It’s always nice when someone else pays the bills πŸ™‚

  9. Wow so many updates! This was really cool to read and get to know you a little better. This will be my first FinCon as well and I really look forward to meeting you in person!

    Two weeks ago today I officially became a vegetarian, after a few months of trying to limit my intake of meat and honestly probably 5+ years of being conflicted about it. My last meal was Bdubs and I will miss it, but I feel great about my decision. I would love to go vegan but it’s way tougher than being vegetarian. I figured if I make the switch to vegetarian I can ease into becoming vegan. It’s pretty great seeing more alternatives pop up. You should google the herbivorous butcher sometime. They recently opened in Minneapolis, their first location, and they are absolutely killing it. The place is always busy. I think they are sitting on a billion dollar business in the making.

    I think it’s so great that you have your Pinterest service. I honestly don’t know anyone else who offers Pinterest Management nor who has a solid track record like you. I’m so happy to have you managing mine!

    Also wanted to briefly echo your frustration with health insurance. I do work for a health insurance company but everything I say is my own opinion and not theirs. I personally think Obamacare has created a huge issue because the plans simply aren’t affordable. It may have increased coverage but not affordability. It’s a really tough situation as I really don’t see a good alternative. Going backwards and not guaranteeing coverage to everyone wouldn’t be good, but but subsidizing it further would just put us deeper in debt. I think we need to take a hard look at our nation’s spending priorities and right-size them. Of course none of this policy stuff matters on a micro level, so I’m sorry to hear how expensive it is for you : /

    1. Thanks! I like to keep my real life off limits from the blog, so Instagram is about as far as I’ll usually go to maybe get personal. This was a tough post for me, ha!

      Thanks for the tip about the herbivorous butcher. This meat and fish free lifestyle is definitely opening my eyes to what else I can add into my diet. So much to learn!

      I didn’t know you worked in health insurance! I thought Obamacare would have been a great step, but it’s definitely not helping me and seems like a big mess!

  10. I’m loving this update!! I cannot wait to see you at FinCon! It is going to be amazing! Congratulations on your success this year – you are killing it!

    1. Oh yay, glad you are going! I really can’t wait to see everyone!

  11. I have just found your blog, and I have to say I am enjoying it very much! πŸ™‚

    Like you, I bought my first apartment at the age of 21 and I have that same feeling when I look back… 21 sounds like such a young age! My mortgage payments are extremely low too. I currently rent the place out along with my other rental property which is not mortgaged. I’ve been really lucky with my investements in real estate, and it looks like you have too!

    Congrats on writing a book and a course, it sure sounds exciting and such a great achievement! πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks Eva! Wow, great job with the investment properties. Making big life decisions at such a young age is crazy – I am so much more cautious now!

  12. Oh wow $300/month?!? I can’t blame you for wanting to move back. I hope you’ll at least be there when I visit in Sept. I’ve heard such great things about the city. Could I live there? Not sure. I’m do love the WC. Sorry about the heath insurance. I agree it’s one of the huge pain in the butts about freelancing. Keep these life updates coming!

    1. Ooh, I don’t think you could live here after living in Seattle and Cali. Totally different. But you will have A LOT of fun when you visit here in the fall!

  13. It sounds like Nashville is amazing but that low mortgage payment would probably tempt me to move back too. I’ve been trying to eat less beef and pork this year but I could never give up fish, chicken, or cheese. I know what you mean about the health insurance and I’m a little nervous about that too when I become self employed because I have a hard time finding people to accept Liberty HealthShare already. Hopefully you find something better that works!

    I’m so excited for FInCon as well!! I’ve been meaning to email you this past week to make sure you were able to book the room and everything okay but it sounds like that was a success πŸ™‚

    1. I totally get now why people work crap jobs just so they can have a good insurance plan. None of it makes sense to me!

  14. That’s great that you were able to drastically lower your monthly expenses by moving to a less expensive area. I currently live right outside of Washington, DC and pay a ton for rent. I always think about how much more I could be saving if I moved to a lower COL area. I justify it by thinking that my salary makes up for the difference.

    Also, congratulations on going to FinCon this year! I am a new blogger in the PF world and would love to go to FinCon myself. Still haven’t decided if it makes financial sense at this point though.

    1. Hey Aliyyah! It’s true – when I lived in Seattle I had a higher salary, so rent was higher. I am really excited to go to FinCon, mostly to meet everyone. I worry about sitting in on the actual conferences though as I get antsy. I’m hoping next year it is on the east coast or in the south to make it more affordable!

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