Finances and the Future

Each of us worry about the two ‘F’s – finances and the future.  Each of our stories are different that effect how we manage our finances and our goals for the future.

I grew up for the first 10 years of my life with a single mother who worked two jobs for many years.  We lived with our grandma to make ends meet.

Years later my mother was remarried and added a little boy to the family.  Things with the economy were bad in 2008-2009 which was commonly known as the ‘Great Recession’.  My parents were losing the house as I was heading off to college for my second year.  Shortly after that my mom and step dad divorced.  Per my family, financial and college circumstances I ended up moving to the metro area.

These simply explained life events molded me in how I viewe finances and my future.

I have almost always had two jobs and just like many other people – it hasn’t been easy to make ends meet.  At age 22 I took out a mortgage for a two bedroom townhouse.  I really did get a good price for it and since the value has gone up.  Although, my luck with work and finances has been a total nightmare since.  I have gone through unemployment for over 3 months to being forced to take jobs that didn’t pay me enough or allow me enough time to work a second job.  I was lucky to have a friend who has been renting out my second bedroom and now that Mike is home (I will explain in another post sometime) and working things are really looking up.

Even though things are looking more positive it is still hard to not be discouraged with the amount of student loans and debt that I have.  I know there are others worse off than I am, but this topic bothers me immensely.

This is extremely personal to me but I would still like to share my story and my continuing journey with you.

Here is a list of my debt as of today:

Left on Mortgage: about $70,000

Student Loans: just below $30,000

Previous Car Loan: $9,271

Personal Loans: $4,200

TOTAL: $113,471


How is someone like me going to pay this off while only making $21,500 a year and with other monthly bills to pay?

It’s crazy to think that someone can gather so much debt in such a short amount of time.  How can anyone get ahead?  And why does it seem that once you get a head things go south again – instantly?  It is super frusterating to me.  I hate seeing individuals who should be enjoying their retirment spend it working part-time to keep up with the bills because SS doesn’t cover their monthly needs.  This makes me sick.

I have read a few blogs and articles about how to save on daily expenses like making my own laundry detergent, shampoo & conditioner and cleaning supplies.  These sound like a wonderful way to go green and to save a few pennies.  Getting down to saving, and paying off debt is so much more though.  I had to look super hard at my fiances and face the hard facts that I needed to make changes.

When I was recently unemployed I had to go through a juggling act of paying my bills with what little income I had from unemployment.  This caused a BIG snowball in my debt to income ratio.  I felt so lost and helpless and sometimes still do.  A few people suggested that I file for bankruptcy.  I was like “NO way! My credit is bad enough”, but I later came to terms with my situation and am now in the process of filing.

Finances are a BIG anxiety and sometimes even depression trigger for me.  I don’t like to admit it but they are.  I hate the feeling of drowning and not being able to support myself.

Everyone likes to think they can fix the system or has the cookie cutter fix to finances.  In reality no one has an easy fix.  It takes brutal honesty, hard work and support from loved ones that will get anyone through a rough financial path.

I wish eveyone luck on their financial journey and I will keep you updated on mine!

Thanks for reading!



Earth Day – eClub at ARCC


Now that you have a small background on how I came to be apart of the Environmental Club at Anoka Ramsey Community College Cambridge Campus, I would now like to tell you a little more about the club itself.

*No names of past and present members will be currently used until I have permission*

Each year the club hosts two major events: the back to school dance held in October and the Earth Friendly Fair (aka EFF) in April around Earth Day.  Both events are planned and hosted by the club members who are students.  They take care of everything from budgeting to clean up.  The dance is for students of ARCC whereas EFF is open to the public/community.

I would like to talk a little more about EFF because it is Earth Day and it’s a unique event.

The Earth Friendly Fair is designed to bring community members together and educate individuals about environmentally friendly practices, products and services.  Local vendors and presenters take part in this event with the opportunity to speak with individuals about their work and mission.  Each year there is a different theme that is tied into an environmental issue/topic.  One of our major goals for EFF is to keep it family oriented with MANY kids activities including our annual egg hunt and reading corner.  We also provide entertainment such as a play and music.  Most recently for the past two years we have had a Thrift Shop Fashion Show.  This has been a fun aspect added to the event.  For EFF we also have door prizes and raffle tickets individuals can earn by attending the presenters and participating in events.  We have been very lucky to have a donated pair of Steger Mukluks as our grand prize for the past few years.

The club typically has about 10 members every year but also has past members who volunteer and take part in these two major events.  Just like any other campus club we have a Faculty Adviser, Student President, VP, Secretary and Treasurer.  These are the formal titles for the club.  For our informal titles we have added Technology Adviser and Public Relations Adviser due to the nature of our public events.

Since 2010, I have helped direct the marketing and public relations section of the club for their events.  This is something I continue to do even though I am not a student on campus anymore.  I enjoy every minute of it and grow in my knowledge of how to reach out to others for this important event.

Besides working on our two big events, we also go up to the Steger Wilderness Center to volunteer.  Due to our faculty adviser taking his classes up there each semester, the club members also attend the service learning weekends to help guide and direct the work.  Many of the eClub members started out by taking one of the courses and going to the Center and wanted to return. Some of the members even go on to become summer interns at the center.  It is a great learning opportunity for students and club members alike.  It is something I personally look forward to each semester and will for years to come.

I have come super close with these members.  They are like a second family to me.  We have been able to work as a team to reach out to others about environmental issues.  We have learned so much about each other, ourselves and what we can do to help future generations.

It may seem odd to write about about Earth Day as a personal experience but I think that each of us needs to take a look as to what Earth Day means.  What does it mean to you individually, your family, community and globally?  Earth Day is a reminder to me that our work – my work – is not done.  Changes in how we treat our planet need to be done.  I know my story isn’t touching, serious or funny but it’s my story.  This club is important to me and to our community.  I hope it has inspired you in some way.

Even if you aren’t in Minnesota check out our Facebook page and follow us!

Once again – thanks for reading!


Earth Day – My Story Part 1


This is a very big topic for me and I am super excited to be blogging about it!  A good question is – where to begin?  The beginning is always good I guess…

I graduated from High School back in 2009 and started my first year of college at a local school that fall (Anoka Ramsey Community College Cambridge Campus).  I was super nervous and yet excited to be trying something new.

One of my courses that first year was Environmental Ethics.  The first day of class, I was shocked and very uneasy about how hard the course was going to be.  The professor even stated that the reading material would not be light reading and had a strict grading system.  Being the visual learner that I am and someone who is not good with theory, the course was definitely a challenge.  My first few reading quiz’s were pretty bad but I figured out how to study the reading material better.  Once I thought things were going well, one of my papers was ripped apart.  Even to this day I am surprised I was brave enough to make an appointment to speak with my professor about the paper.  I put a lot of work into it but the paper wasn’t my greatest work.

*Note – I am still not a professional writer and not a very good one at that.  But hey, this isn’t school.  This is for fun!*

My professor was kind enough to help educate me on my writing mistakes and give me a chance to rewrite the section I did the worst in.  I took this as a great learning opportunity.  After speaking with the professor, we spoke for a while getting to know each other. Once I left his office I was much more confident and kind of liked the guy as a person not just as a professor.

With things going better in the course I really began to like the class, despite the difficulty and grew to enjoy the professors personality.  Towards the final weeks of the class we learned about Global Warming / Climate Change, as well as a major (local) advocate to educate others about it.

For an assignment we had to write a research paper on Will Steger before we completed a service learning project over a 3 day weekend up near Ely, Minnesota.  After doing some research about him I was talking to my mother about the weekend I would be gone (I lived at home the first year of college).  When I mentioned Steger – she instantly became excited.  Confused, I listened to her say things like – “He’s famous” and “I remember learning about him my senior year in High School and watching his progress on the news”.  For my mom, she said she was jealous but excited that I would get to meet him.

I turned in my paper with pride and looked forward to the weekend of service learning (providing manual labor up on the property).  Being born and raised in Minnesota, heading into the deep woods was normal and fun for me.  The layout of the area we were at was beautiful, quite, peaceful and one of a kind.  I knew right away that it was something special.  Even though the work was hard, I rather enjoyed it as well as getting to know my peers and just being outside.  Meeting Will, asking him questions, hearing his stories and receiving a tour of the Center (aka The Castle) was eye-opening.

The following week of class after being at the center I felt a shift in myself.  I had become super curious about the topic of global warming / climate change, what I could do to educate myself and others.  So, when our professor mentioned starting up a college club that focused on the environment.  I was excited and interested but had decided to transfer to a college in the Twin Cities and would not be on ARCC campus anymore.  I offered any help with the getting the group started but fell out of the loop over the summer months before my transfer.

And once my grades came in for the semester I thought for sure that I would receive a ‘C’ but walked away with an “A”.  I was so excited and proud of myself for my hard work and honesty with my professor.

Fast forward to spring semester of 2010.  After a fall semester at a large 4 year university I went back to ARCC.  I made sure that one of the courses I needed was taught by my former Environmental Ethics professor.  The first day of class he went through getting to know everyone’s names and remembered me from his class the previous year – which was cool.  After that first day of class I asked him about the environmental club and if it ever took off.  When he said that it did I was super excited.  He gave me the day, time and where the first meeting would be and I made sure to show up.

Little did I know – how much this group would change me for the better.

If you would like more information about Steger Wilderness Center and The Will Steger Foundation please click the links below:

Also, feel free to check out his Facebook page:

*Professors name has not been provided due to awaiting approval*

Thanks for reading!



Dear Readers,

I apologize for my absence this past month.  My computer has been out of commission and blogging from my phone is not ideal.  There has been so much that has taken place in the last month I think I will have a few posts this week to catch you up.  I was worried about not having my computer that I would lose my grove to keeping up with this blog – but nope!  It’s honestly a big thing I was thinking about the whole time.

Thank you to my readers and new online friends for being patient with me.  I look forward to catching up on my blog as well as reading others.

Here are a few things you get to look forward to:

Earth Day

Future and Finances

Health Challenge – the Road of Bariatric Surgery

Thanks for reading!


#WorldDoulaWeek – Part 2: Reducing the Fear

Ina May Gaskin

I first heard about Ina May Gaskin from the documentary film The Business of Being Born (2008).  I would consider Ina May as one of the leading role models of the midwifery and natural birth movement.

FYI: The term “Midwifery movement” isn’t something I have heard from others– but I believe it’s a movement in its own right. 

I have been captivated by her knowledge, her feminism and friendly personality.  I have watched a few online videos of her speaking at conferences and being interviewed but I have yet to read any of her books.  I am super excited to read her books and learn even more of what she knows and has experienced.  I have visited her website and there is so much to read and watch – so I encourage others to check it out.

You can read a biography here: , because any summary I give will not do her justice!

So why bring up Ina May?

Well, there are many reasons but in honor of World Doula Week, Ina has some insight as to what a doula does and why it is important.

First, what is a doula?

“The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves” and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.

Studies have shown that when doulas attend birth, labors are shorter with fewer complications, babies are healthier and they breastfeed more easily.”

(DONA International )

Now that you have a basic idea of what a doula is, watch this 16 minute video of Ina speaking about reducing the fear of birth…. She has some great information about doulas and natural birth –

Reducing Fear of Birth in U.S. culture: Ina May Gaskin at TEDxSacramento

All this information is important.  Why?  Because in the United States, we have been conditioned to fear birth and that birth is ‘more often than not’ – dangerous.  I think Ina made a very good point about the ‘fear’ aspect.  Women should not be telling other pregnant woman the horror stories of previous births – “that’s for a therapist”, like Ina state.  Hospitals are for emergencies.  Yes, doctors are needed in emergencies and for surgeries.  But, unless there is a complication with the pregnancy why does everyone need a doctor?

Now, let’s think about this for a minute…. What are two major industries that will never go away?  If you answered – Birth and Death – you would be correct.  And, of course being in America, what is everyone after?  That’s right, money.  Yes, even hospitals are tied up into this crazy large corporation concept like big pharmaceutical companies.

Think of the hospitals, insurance and birth like a wheel – hospitals make money from insurance by the amount of services they provide to someone that is in their care.  Now, the best way to increase the flow of income is to get these individuals in and out as soon as possible, with a large amount of services provided.  Come in, have your baby and get out for the next person.  Still with me?  Good.

So, if you are having a vaginal birth they are going to try to give you drugs to move your labor along as fast as possible which is going to increase the intensity of the pain.  In turn, most women will want more drugs to dull the pain – but it then slows down the labor and then doctors give you MORE medication to speed things up.  It’s a terrible cycle that causes the baby to go into distress, puts the mother in danger, and then there is a need of an emergency C-section (which again, increases your hospital bill).  I think what most women don’t realize is that labor is typically 12-18 hours WITHOUT drugs.  Don’t get me wrong, I am sure there are women who have labored longer or even less naturally but each individual is different.  What I am trying to say is that – are bodies don’t labor in 2 hours before delivery.  Messing with this cycle is causing problems.

I have a very good friend who is a registered nurse in the medical field (a guy mind you) and during his time at the maternity ward for clinicals, he witnessed this terrible cycle.  The woman was constantly being bothered by nurses, doctors and training nurses on how she was doing.  They continued to pester her about receiving medication to help her with pain and to speed things up.  She was ultimately pressured into a C-section.  It is a major surgery and it can take months to heal from it.  My good friend is all for a natural home birth experience for women and their families.

This is how the fear was created.  This is how we were conditioned to think the birth was ALWAYS dangerous and scary.  In reality it’s not.  If you take a low risk woman during her pregnancy the statistics show that she can have a very safe and positive birth.  That’s what doulas are for!   If you don’t believe me take a look at the statistics from Ina May’s The Farm website.

So I will let some of this sink in….

Thanks for reading!

If you would like to get more information about Ina and her work visit her Facebook Pages and websites!

For those of you who are unfamiliar about The Farm – it is the birthing center Ina and other started back in the 70’s.  Take a look at their statistics compared to the national average!

Photo of Ina May Provided by her Facebook Page

Lost in Choices – Quarter life crisis

Hello there!

Okay, so as some of you may know I am currently 24 and will be 25 this next January.  I read an article not too long ago about Quarter Life Crisis (yes, I guess it’s a real thing).  And I think it’s a very important topic to talk about – for me it’s something I need to figure out.

So, what is a Quarter Life Crisis (QLC)?


1. a crisis that may be experienced in one’s twenties, involving anxiety over the direction and quality of one’s life”


Well, to be honest I don’t know if it’s totally hit me yet. But it might be starting.  Recently I have felt a little lost in all of these life choices.  Anxiety, mild depression, constant changes… many things going on.

Within the last year I have been put on prescription medications to treat anxiety I have had.  Only a few people have known but I have been struggling anxiety for almost two years.

When I was 22 years old I took out a mortgage (on my own) for Mike and I to have a small two bedroom town home.  I was a ball a nerves and excited all at the same time.  Many individual and somewhat small factors played a role in my anxiety regardless of the proud fact that I was able to take a mortgage out on my own.  Even though I worked hard and have always been very good with money – lately I have not.

My finances have been a major trigger to my anxiety and stress.  It constantly feels like I cannot catch a break.  When something positive happens, I feel as if 3 bad things happen to set me back.  I’m about ready to give up on all of it and live off the grid and rough it.

Maybe it’s just shitty luck?  I don’t know.  But it sucks.

I’m not usually a negative person but it has been so extremely frustrating.  And I know I’m not alone in this struggle.

Besides financial issues, my relationships have been tested with Mike, my friends and my family.  At one point I wanted to just drop everything and go overseas – be daring and do something crazy.

Life choices such as where and how to live have been put into question.  Career/job options have never been easy for me and my ideas are constantly changing.  It’s amazing that I have even made it this far with this blog.  I have been looking into becoming a Certified Wedding Planner (takes 90-180 with a self pace online course).  As well as doing research on achieving my 200 hour Yoga Instructor certification (which can get expensive).

Now, I’m not saying all of these thoughts of options are bad or negative but it is very difficult not knowing what to do.  Or even, what I want.

I think this QLC crept up on me.  Now as I write this, I realize I am in the middle of it.

So…now the real question is how does someone deal with a Quarter Life Crisis?

According to The Guardian there are four phases someone goes through.

“Four phases of a quarterlife crisis

Phase 1, defined by feeling “locked in” to a job or relationship, or both. “It’s an illusory sense of being trapped,” said Robinson. “You can leave but you feel you can’t.”

Phase 2 is typified by a growing sense that change is possible. “This mental and physical separation from previous commitments leads to all sorts of emotional upheavals. It allows exploration of new possibilities with a closer link to interests, preferences and sense of self.

Up until then you may be driving fast down a road you don’t want to be going down. A minority of participants described getting caught in a loop, but the majority reflected on a difficult time which was a catalyst for important positive change.

Phase 3 is a period of rebuilding a new life.

Phase 4 is the cementing of fresh commitments that reflect the young person’s new interests, aspirations and values.”

I am clearly in Phase One but almost in Phase Two.  Mike has been a great support on this.  He does his best to help me keep my anxiety down and our communication has improved.  I’m very thankful for this aspect of it.

I will keep you posted on my progress but tell me what you think or what you have experienced.

Thanks for reading!

Continuing this week: #WorldDoulaWeek 

Money Saving Question…

So I know this a random blog post but I have a general question for the readers…

What has been the best TV service for you? And why?

The reason I ask this question is because I currently have DirecTV  with the $77.99 package (well, I’m supposed to pay that much each month but I currently owe $135.80).  They charge you for every little thing like the receiver, the boxes, administrative fees, taxes, taxes and “other” fees.  This is ridiculous.

I really enjoy a verity of TV shows like, The Walking Dead, Salem, Teen Mom & Teen Mom 2, Vikings, Mob Wives and Born in the Wild.

These are shows I watch religiously (especially TWD).  For me TV is a way for me to relax – and I have always loved a good story.  I will fully admit that I watch too much TV at times but I love great plot lines and wonderful acting.  BUT the bill is not necessary and gets expensive!

I feel extremely torn as to what to do with my TV/TV Bill.  Keep it, change it or let it completely go?

Any advice or tips would be greatly appreciated!  I am trying to focus on my finances and improve them.  I will be writing more about this in upcoming posts – so stay tuned!

I look forward to conversing with you.

Thank you,

Amanda ❤