Investing Professionally in 2017

Going back to work after a long break is hard.  Last week it felt especially hard.

I’m not ready to go back to work, and I’m really not ready to go back to all of the stress and anxiety that comes along with going back to a workplace that isn’t always the way I think it should be.  I know I’m not alone in this.  I mean, whose work place is always 100% ideal?  There are a few careers and workplaces I have idealized and fantasized about for far too long, but I’m sure even these places that are so picture-perfect in my mind aren’t as picture-perfect in real life.  So if 2017 is a year of investing, what does it look like for me to invest in a workplace and in a career, even when it’s really, really hard?

I could talk about all of the ideal ways I should be approaching my job and my career path, but before I jump straight into the way perfect Erin or perfect Ms. Green (both of those characters are fictitious, btw) would act in every stressful workplace situation, I want to first identify the things that I believe.  Just like I did when looking at investing financially, I want to start with the foundational beliefs.  So what is it that I believe about this area of my life?

  • I believe that I have a calling placed upon my life, and I know that right now, I am called to be inside a classroom full of fifth graders.
  • I believe that I have a higher calling, a forever calling, and that is to the Kingdom of God.  Any earthly calling that I pursue should be ultimately pointing me back towards Jesus and His forever redemption.

Until this forever calling is fulfilled, until I am at the gates of heaven, I believe that I am in my right now calling to point towards this forever calling.  I believe this means that:

  • I am called to do all things with patience, prayer, and love.  I believe that I am called to be a light in the midst of darkness.
  • I am called to do my job with excellence.
  • Jesus has uniquely gifted me with multiple passions and multiple facets in which I can pursue those passions.  I believe that I am called to steward each of these unique gifts that I have been given, and that I am called to listen to the direction the Lord calls me.

These are the things that I foundationally believe about my job and my career path.  These are the things that should transform the way that I approach each day at work.  The reality is, it is much easier to write these things out than it is to actually act accordingly.  Just like with my finances, it is much easier to say that my bank account belongs to Jesus.  Actually giving my money away and capping my taco purchases at El Chilito is much more challenging.

So how do I take a step past just believing theses things, and how do I wake up each morning and carry these beliefs into work with me?  Unfortunately, I haven’t found any super cool apps to make me be a kind and grateful teacher and coworker (I searched “be nice app” on the apple store, but all that came up were some selfie editing tools and a “call Santa” app.  The Santa one seems pretty cool).

If these are the things that I really believe, then here are some ways I think these beliefs should manifest at work and in my attitude towards work:

  • If I believe that I have a forever calling higher than my right now calling, then I can rest in the knowledge that my day or week or month at work is not the end-all-be-all of my life.  There is more.  I am not limited to living in the right here and right now.  If I do excellently at work, it’s for the Kingdom.  If I do poorly at work, it’s okay, because I know that in the end, it’s not about me, and there is someone greater who holds each of my students in the palm of His hand.
  • If I believe that I am called to be a light in the midst of darkness, then I am called to pray.  And if I really believe in Scripture truths, then I believe in the power of prayer, and prayer can transform everything.  What would it look like if I prayed for those students and coworkers who are the hardest for me to love?  Like, really prayed for them, instead of complaining about them?
  • If I believe that I am called to do my job with excellence, then I am free to pursue lines of continuing education and continuing opportunity for the sake of Christ and His calling, not just for my own personal, financial, or professional gain.
  • If I believe that I am uniquely gifted and called, then I can live in the confidence that my worth comes from Christ, that I am where I’m supposed to be, and that the path I’m on is the one He has set out for me.  I can live in the freedom of knowing that when it’s time for a change in setting or a change in career, that will be a calling that has been ordained by the One who is greater than I, and His plan is sovereign.  I am free to be used for the Kingdom in the capacity Jesus sets before me in each season.

 

Jesus, thank you for my job, than you for a career that I am passionate about.  Thank you that my security comes from you, and not from how well I perform.  Lead me to invest my hands and my heart in the work you have set before me.  Let me listen to Your calling, and let me follow wherever you lead me.  Amen.

 


Investing Financially in 2017

Earlier this week, I reflected on 2016 and looked forward to what God might have in store for me in 2017.  As I looked forward, the word investment kept coming to mind.  I want 2017 to be a year of investment, the year that I invest in the things that I foundationally value.  I want the way that I invest my time and my money to match the things that I proclaim to believe.

In working through this idea of investment this morning, I decided to break it down into 5 categories of investing: investing spiritually, financially, relationally, personally, and professionally.  The things that I foundationally believe in all five of these categories should transform the way that I approach each of them.

Processing through each of these categories is a mighty task, and one that I will be tackling over the coming days and weeks.  Today, I want to take a look at what it looks like to invest financially, and I want take a minute to share a couple of my favorite financial tools as well.

In sorting through these 5 categories, the first question I’ve been asking myself is: what do I believe about this area of my life?

Financially, I believe that:

  • My money is not my own, it is a gift from Jesus.
  • I am called to be a good and responsible steward of the money I have been given.
  • I am called to be generous.
  • Money is an earthly tool, it is not eternal.  It can be used for good, and its value can also be dangerously distorted and used against us.  Scripture speaks all too clearly against coveting wealth.
  • No amount of earning, saving, or spending money will ever satisfy me.

“Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.” Ecclesiastes 5:10

 

So if these are my foundational beliefs about money, then my bank statements should reflect these beliefs.  Well, last month I looked to see if that was true.  I printed out just one month of spending, color coded the ish out of it, and looked at where I was really investing my money.

Surprise surprise, the ways that I was actually spending my money did not align with the things I really believe about money.  I think that in the midst of yielding a tool as powerful as a shiny new credit card or a stack of cold hard cash (more realistically a credit card, I don’t think I’ve ever held a stack of cold hard cash), satan tricks me into believing the exact opposite of what I really want to believe.  He whispers in my ear, “you worked hard for this money, you can spend it however you want to.  You should really spend this money on yourself because [XYandZ].  This purchase will satisfy you.”  And I take the bait, despite the truths that I really know, almost every single time.

So if I’m going to approach money differently this year, I need to equip myself to let the truths that I believe transform the way that I use my money.  Equipping ourselves, in every arena, starts with prayer.

Jesus, thank you for blessing me with a job and a salary. Thank you for provision.  I pray that you would walk beside me and guide me as I learn to use my money to glorify You and Your Kingdom.  I pray against satan and his lies, and I pray that you would take ahold of my heart and point it away towards you and away from greed and selfishness.  Amen.

Alright, let’s take a look at some logistical ways to be good stewards of the money we have been given.

Last year I started my first big girl job, set up a big girl budget, and then proceeded to ignore the budget and do whatever I wanted.  Responsible AF.

I think that I really did put a good foot forwards towards budgeting, I just didn’t have the discipline to sustain it, and I was paying way too much for my apartment.  Now in a different (much more affordable) living situation, and a year and a half of salary under my belt, I’m ready to re-evaluate my budgeting.

This is the blog post I wrote last year about budgeting.  I used Nicole Lapin’s Rich Bitch book to guide me, and I still think this book is the most amazing thing.  (If you’re looking for the DIYs on budgeting, start here.)  I reopened this blog post last week, and sat down to reevaluate my budget.  I set up my budget again with the new numbers, and made some changes in my bank accounts to follow.  My bank accounts have been set up as follows:

  • I have three bank accounts: one checking account for scheduled payments, one checking account for “extra” purchases, and one savings account.
  • My Venmo and Paypal accounts are linked to both of these checking accounts, so that I can take money out of the appropriate accounts and don’t have to remind myself to make transfers.
  • I have two credit cards, but I have very limited reasons to use these credit cards.  I think building a credit score is an important thing to do as an adult, but thoughtless spending on credit cards has been my demise.

Scheduled payments from my first checking account include tithing, rent, bills, my car payment, insurance, etc.  There is also cushion in this account for spontaneous giving.  Tithing is first on my list intentionally.  If my money is not my own, if I truly believe that it belongs to Jesus, then giving is uncompromisingly the first thing I should be doing.  The amount that I give and the ways that I give should result in bending my heart towards Jesus and away from myself.

The second bank account is the one that I’m free to use for groceries, gas, and any additional things that I want to spend my money on.  All purchases, with a few exceptions, are being made with the debit card linked to this account.  My credit cards will be used for store specific purchases, and money will immediately be transferred over to cover the charge.

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except for the continuing debt to love one another.”  Romans 13:8

I’ve found some really great apps that I’ve set up to help keep me on track (I am all bout apps rn):

unnamed-1Echo keeps track of prayer requests and sends you reminders to pray at designated times.  Financial giving should be rooted in prayer, and should spur us on towards continued prayer.  I’ve set up reminders in Echo, so that each month when scheduled donations are sent, my phone also reminds me to pray for that specific ministry.  I think that this has the potential to change the way that my heart approaches giving, and will allow me to invest spiritually as well as financially.

intuit_mint_logo_detailMint is a budgeting app that you may already be familiar with.  I’ve had it for a long time, but it was pretty meaningless to me.  Last week, though, I went back into my account, set up the Mint budgets according to my own budgets I should be following, and have been diligent about opening the app and making sure that purchases and charges are being filed under the correct categories.  If used well, this app is bomb.

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Credit Karma gives you free access to your credit scores and gives you insight into why your scores are what they are.  It also shows you all of the balances on your lines of credit.  I’ve learned a lot from it.

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Stash is an investment app that makes it easy to invest your money.  It helps you to set up an investment strategy that’s right for you, and then makes it super easy to sustain.  I’ll be honest, this is a chapter of Rich Bitch that I need to revisit to understand the ins and outs of stocks and mutual funds, but if you’re looking to invest, this is a cool place to start.  If you click this link, you’ll get a free $5 to get started.

These apps have been very helpful so far, and I’m excited to continue using them for as long as they are tools that will lead me towards being a better steward of the gifts I have been given.  If these apps are opened too frequently, or start to sway my heart words the idolatry of earning, saving, or spending money, then they will be gone.

 

As excited as I am for the fresh start of a new year and new ways to invest my money, what I am looking forward to most is this: I want my financial investments to be a springboard for investing my heart.  I am thrilled to be investing in my church, and in the ministries of my friends, and those investments should be propelling me towards thanksgiving and prayer.  Jesus tells us, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” and I want for my treasure to be invested in and to guide my heart towards good, Kingdom worthy, freedom proclaiming things.

 


Chillin’ out, Maxin’, Relaxin’ all Cool

Summertime is a glorious time.  For students and teachers alike, it’s the most beautiful two or three months of the year.  By this time every summer for the past few years, I have already booked it out of town and headed to the mountains.  This year, though, due to two beautiful friends and their upcoming wedding🎊, I’m sticking around Austin a few weeks longer than usual.

These three weeks mark not only my first teacher summer, but the longest span of summertime I have spent in Austin in years.  It’s a unique period of time.  After my tour of high school graduation parties, (hooray and congratulations to my beautiful McCallum graduates!), my best friends heading to Colorado, some permanently and some temporarily 😫, I have been left with a couple weeks full of time to myself.  So what else is a single girl left to do but make a killer batch of sangria and lay poolside for 10 days straight?  To all my single ladies, all my teacher friends, and all those with sunny weather time to fill, here’s the recipe to a good time.🍹

First, I signed up for VBS, which is, for those of you who didn’t grow up in the glory of the Bible belt, Vacation Bible School.   I finally joined a church this year, and needed a both an opportunity to get involved as well as a reason to wake up and shower every morning, so VBS sounded like an answer to this summer girl’s prayers.  So every morning, I wake up, spend three hours with 14 third graders (who, despite my impeccable teacher skills, I have 0 control over), and then I come home to lay poolside.

Ingredients for the best poolside experience of your life:

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  1. Pool float.  Have you seen all of the trendy girls laying out on pizza and donut pool floats?  Pretty cute.  You could go that direction, or you could be a #thriftygirl instead of a #trendygirl, save $30,  and get this $8 pool float from Amazon.  🤔
  2. Cute cup with a straw.  This way, you don’t have to exert your stomach muscles to sit up to take a sip of sangria. And, you look cute. 🤗  Check the dollar section at Target.
  3. Sangria.  Do I drink this by myself?  Yes.  Should I be ashamed of solo day drinking?  No.  I spent the morning at VBS, remember?

 

BA Poolside Sangria:

Really, this sangria consists of what I already had in my kitchen.  It’s a beautiful concoction.

The following ingredients are not measured, and may be poured in varying amounts depending on your current needs.

  1. orange juice (you could also use concentrate)bottle_ruby
  2. Cupcake Cabernet Sauvignon
  3. Deep Eddy Ruby Red Vodka
  4. grapefruit La Croix (substitute with champagne if you’re really tryna #turnup)
  5. fresh limes, juiced and sliced
  6. frozen strawberries, or any other fruit you have
  7. I added a splash of pomegranate juice

 

Combine.  Stir.  Shake.  Etc.  Drink responsibly.

Lather up in suntan oil, grab a good book, (here’s what I’m reading), convince your dog that swimming is fun, and lay poolside until your healthy glows starts to feel not so healthy.  Sleep.  Repeat.

 

 

 


Books to Get Your Sh*t Together

ADULTHOOD.  Ugh.  I simultaneously love and hate it.  This year has been a crazy transition and has had extreme ups and downs.  From bursting into tears the second students leave my classroom to leaping with joy at all of the exciting new things adulthood brings (a salary, a dog, more wine, etc.), this year has been one to remember.  In the midst of this transition, I feel like the theme of the whole year has been getting my sh*t together, in so many different arenas.  You really don’t realize how much of your sh*t you need to get together until you are the only one responsible for all of it.  Like, for example, health insurance.

I have never in my life spent more than 30 seconds thinking about health insurance, because my parents paid for my health insurance and just handed me a little card to put in my wallet.  But this year no one handed me a card to put into my wallet, so now I don’t have one.  This is an area of sh*t that I have yet to pull together.  I’m pretty sure I pay for health insurance and I just need to email someone, honestly.  But I haven’t sent that email, and have instead employed the tactic of hoping I don’t get sick or injured.  So far it has worked out for me.  I’ll get this sh*t together later.

This year I have read quite a few books about getting different arenas of sh*t together.  So instead of continuing to write about all of the sh*t that I don’t have together, I figured I could share these books with you.  I’m also thinking about unlinking this blog to my classroom blog, because I am saying sh*t too much.  Hm.  Here are the books.

 

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The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo

I am a things person, I always have been.  From earrings to stationary to dog toys, I have always loved things.  I’m a sucker for subscription services (that’s another blog post waiting to happen), and I buy every book that catches my eye.  I just love pretty things.

My love for things makes moving a nightmare.  In the past five years, I have moved all of my things seven times.  SEVEN TIMES.  This stage of life is miserable in terms of moving.  It drives me crazy.  Each year gets worse with the more things I accumulate. This year, moving into my own one-bedroom apartment, where there is room for all of the things I have been hoarding at my parents’  house, was the most eye opening of all.

I read this book while I was babysitting a few weeks ago, and I realized how many things I actually have and how ridiculous it is that I have all of these things.  So I followed (almost) all of Marie’s advice, and got rid of so much.  I’m talking, four trips to Goodwill, 4 bags of clothes shipped off to Schoola, a big trip to Half Price Books, and countless trash bags full of junk.

The whole premise of the book is this that the reason we are constantly cleaning and tidying up is because we are holding on to far too many things.  The two primary reasons we hold on to a ridiculous amount of things are, 1) a fear of the future, and 2) an inability to let go of the past.  i.e., “what if I want to wear that [ridiculous bridesmaid] dress again?” or, “I really loved that wedding, and I have such great memories in that dress!”  Both reasons are poor reasons to keep the dress.  We should only hold on to things that bring us joy, and by holding on to things that don’t, we are actually causing more stress in our lives.  Marie says it much more beautifully than I do:

“…when we delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future. … It’s important to understand your ownership pattern because it is an expression of the values that guide your life.  The question of what you own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.  Attachment to the past and fears concerning the future not only govern the way you select the things you own but also represent the criteria by which you make choices in every aspect of your life, including your relationships with people and your job.”

She then goes through her process of sorting through everything you own and choosing what to get rid of.  It really was incredible for me to read and to realize how much I hold on to because of fear.  After getting rid of so many things, I feel more free to invest time and energy into worthwhile endeavors.  I think this book has changed the way I live and hold onto things forever.

 

618-NKA0yTL._SX401_BO1,204,203,200_ The Stash Plan, Laura Prepon & Elizabeth Troy

I bought this book because I’m really into meal prep right now (which, by the way, is going great.  I am saving money and feeling better about my body).  What I didn’t know, was this book is about far more than meal prep.  I ended up reading about how scary GMOs are and how many crazy things we put into our bodies.  We are constantly eating foods that our body can’t even recognize, much less get nutrients from.

So I read all about GMOs and have since then started removing harmful chemicals from my kitchen and my diet.  So far, I am loving it.  It’s more expensive, but at some point in adulthood, we need to ask ourselves how much our health is worth (especially if we haven’t figured out the whole health insurance game 😁)

Apart from all of the info about GMOs and such, there are some great recipes that I am in the midst of trying out.  There’s also a lot of theory in this book that I’m not completely sold on, and I probably won’t be following the book 100%, as I can’t afford to go to the extremes that celebrities do.

 

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Rich Bitch, Nicole Lapin

Still a favorite.  I wrote about this book earlier this year, and still follow Lapin’s advice and reference it constantly.  This is one of those books that will always stay in my collection, even after the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  Everyone should read this book, especially all my fellow single, independent, badass ladies.

 

 

So there you go.  My top three get your sh*t together books.  The beauty in all of it, though, is even though I will never actually have all of my sh*t together, at the foot of Jesus, none of it matters.  The Gospel, the only glue that will ever truly hold our lives together, says that we will never have it all together and that’s okay.

So, in the end, whether I feel like I have it all together or I don’t, there is always peace, rest, and hope in knowing that it’s already been taken care of.  Thank you, Jesus, that my rest and my worth is found in you and nothing else.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11: 28-30

Adulting Part II

I know what you’re thinking…adulting part II?  But where is adulting part I?!  Erin, teach me how to be an adult!  Well, awhile ago I told you about budgeting, and while I did’t title it “Adulting Part I,” it definitely was.  Balancing my budget has been one of the most adult-ish things I’ve done in my life.  The second, as you’re about to read, is cooking and meal prep.

A couple of months ago, I decided that if I wanted to be a real grown up, I needed to start eating like one.  My struggling budget was admittedly also part of the motivation.  😓  So for the past couple of months, I’ve been spending a good portion of my Sundays prepping food for the whole week.  It might be the OCD in me talking, but there is something so beautiful about a fridge loaded up with a week’s worth of healthy, packed meals.  Okay, definitely the OCD in me.  😳

One of the biggest reasons I have stayed away from cooking for so long is because of the time commitment.  Really, who has time to come home and cook every day?!  That is something that will take me many years to comprehend.  Meal prep, however, has been the exact opposite: an incredibly time efficient, money efficient, and, like I said, satisfying new endeavor.  I cook, (well, most of the time, crockpot) on Sundays, and my meals are done for the whole week.  What a beautiful thing.

There have been a few recipes that I have become obsessed with, so I thought I would share the good news with my mom and whoever else still reads this blog.

All pictures I am about to share are not my own.  They are the beautiful creations of those who have come before me/have more talent and photographic drive than me.

slow cooker chicken enchilada quinoaa 2Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Quinoa, by Bobbi’s Kozy Kitchen

This is my absolute favorite.  It’s easy, healthy, and delicious.  I’ve been buying double of all of the ingredients when I go shopping, because I know I’m going to want to make it again.  It’s been taking me about an hour to prep the chicken and vegetables and to put it all into the crockpot, and then it’s done and ready to go in three hours.  Seriously, if you only take one recipe from this post, this is the one.  The only edits I’ve made to this recipe is that I just cook it with the green onions and cilantro in it, since I’m prepping for the whole week and not just one meal.

 

Healthy Tuna Stuffed Avocado 1Tuna Stuffed Avocado, by The Stay at Home Chef

This isn’t a crockpot recipe, but it’s easy and delicious.  I ate in for lunch every day for a week and never got sick of it.  It also didn’t smell super tuna-y, which was very nice for everyone sitting near me.  One day I cut up the avocado, added it to the salad, and ate it as a wrap.  Yum.

 

 

34Pineapple Chicken Salad Wraps, by Skinny Mom

These are also a new favorite.  I have made batches of this chicken salad twice now, and have not regretted a bite of it.  To make it a little more healthy (not that it’s unhealthy the way it is), you can increase the ratio of Greek yogurt to light mayo.  You could probably even ditch the mayo all together and just use yogurt, but I haven’t been so bold yet.  This salad is also great on its own, but the wrap just makes it even better.  I added avocado half of the time, which I seem to do to every recipe.  I’ve also started saving the chicken broth after cooking the chicken, and reusing that broth to make chicken tortilla soup.  Am I brilliant or what?

 

8af064f4-817e-43ee-a046-ba0a7591b9ad.1024x768_q85_cropTurkey and Quinoa Meatball Lettuce Wraps, by Gathered Table

I’ve only made these once, but they are sure to become a staple, as last week I was more then happy to eat these wraps for dinner 4 out of 5 nights.  They are delicious and very healthy, meeting my basic two requirements.  The only improvement I would add to the recipe is to use more salt.  I also smothered them in ketchup inside my lettuce wraps. 😋  Gathered Table is also a really great resource in general.  If you’re willing to pay the small subscription fee, you can create a whole calendar of meals and menus and it will create organized grocery lists for you.  I don’t need any of these features right now, seeing as I only cook 1 or 2 recipes a week, but it could be super helpful for anyone who cooks more often.

 

minisMini Frittata Breakfast Sandwiches, adapted recipe

I pulled a little bit from a couple of different recipes to start out, and now I just throw whatever veggies and cheese I have on hand into these delicious breakfast sandwiches.  The most recent recipe includes:

  • egg whites
  • kale
  • cherry tomatoes
  • provolone cheese
  • salt, pepper, & good ol’ Tony C’s

I throw all my ingredients into a muffin tin, bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, let cool, stick each one into the middle of an English muffin, and freeze in foil and ziplocks.  It takes about 2 minutes to heat them up in the morning.  Delicious.  I’ve also used avocado (of course), turkey bacon, and feta cheese.  So far, everything has worked well, although my recent recipe has been my favorite.  The two recipes I pulled from were Oh Sweet Day (also their picture being used), and Food Addict and Fitness Fanatic.

 

There are a handful of other recipes I have made as well, but these have been the favorites and the ones I will most definitely turn to again and again!  Anyone else out there a huge fan of meal prep?