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Brittany

The Complete Guide to What it was like to Refinance my Federal Student Loans

Debt Repayment, Law School, Lawyering

Hi, I’m Brittany. I went to law school and all I got was a LOT of student loan debt.

A Guide to How I Refinanced My Federal Student Loans

OK, maybe I also got a decent amount of scholarships, work-study, a law degree, and made a lot of friends too. I spent those three years wondering why the heck I decided I was going to be a lawyer when I was 10 years old. And I spent about 4 years after law school absolutely miserable with my decision to become a lawyer. (Is that you? I wrote a post about how I stopped hating my career, and I do enjoy being a lawyer these days. There’s hope, I promise.) None of that makes looking at my student loan balances any easier.

The Back Story

One thing I still hate is the fact that I accrue roughly $20 a day in interest. I graduated from law school in 2010, when the economy sucked, most of my classmates didn’t have jobs lined up at graduation, and I had to move to a town in the middle of nowhere for my clerkship. I have been on income based repayment since graduation, and until 2016 my payments didn’t cover all of the interest. At graduation, and if I switched between payment plans, the interest capitalized, and now my “principal” balance is about $20,000 more than the principal I took out for school. All told since the last time it capitalized, I have accrued 10,000 more in interest that prevents me from paying any principal until it’s paid off.

In 2014 I began aggressively paying off my debt using the snowball method. In 1 year and 10 months, I paid off about $11,000 in credit cards and about $12,000 on my car (not including the interest that accrued during that time). In September 2016, I switched my focus to my bar exam student loan, and paid the $8,997 left on that loan in 6 months. Then, I saw how long it was going to take me to make even a meaningful difference in my federal loans. It would be almost a year before I’d even make a dent in the accrued interest.

If you’re not haunted by your student loans, there’s no judgment here. I know many people who make the minimum payments on theirs and just aren’t worried about it. But I feel suffocated by mine. When I was making about half of what I make now, I would wake up worried about them. When I was paying off the maxed out credit cards that carried me through law school and the recession, I would sometimes cry about them. Honestly, I cried last September on the phone with my loan servicer. It was the first month of my increased income-based repayment, I’d just paid off all of my credit cards, and I thought for sure I’d make a principal payment with the $841 they took out of my checking account. Nope. The cycle of the last 7 years continued – I still felt like I’d never get out of debt.

When I first started paying off my debt, I made $25/month in extra payments because that’s all I had. When I increased my income, I gave myself one paycheck to replace some of my wardrobe and buy a flight home to see my family. Then, I immediately switched my snowball payment to $300 a paycheck. I’ve lived like I was broke for the last 2 1/2 years, just so that I could see the light at the end of the tunnel before I was in my mid-fifties.

You may wonder why am I telling you personal information that people may think is taboo to share? Because there aren’t a lot of resources out there. I wanted to share my experience in order to help any of you who might be considering refinancing your federal student loans or just wondering how to cope with debt and student loans.

I am a first generation college student, who had no real financial skills and definitely didn’t understand the impact of compounding interest. I knew I wanted to be a lawyer when I grew up, lawyers take out student loans, and lawyers make a lot of money so it isn’t hard to pay them back (HA! If only that last part were true!). I also had to do a ton of research on my own into what it meant to refinance, the risks and rewards, and what companies were reputable. I found help in podcasts, other websites, the FAQ section of bank websites, and asking my friends on Facebook if they’ve tried refinancing or what they did with large accrued interest balances; but online there were not many real, human stories from people like me. I hope to save other people the time and give an insight into what it’s like from a real person’s perspective.

I am not a financial planner of any kind, so make sure to take your own financial situation and needs into account when deciding whether or not to refinance your loans. It may be the right time for you to refinance, may be too early for you to refinance, or may not be in your best interest to refinance your federal student loans at all. Take the time you need to make sure you come to the decision that is truly right for you!

A Complete Guide to How I Refinanced My Federal Student Loans, from a human perspective.

Referral and affiliate links are used in this post. That means that if you click these links and make a purchase or close on a loan, WMSB or I receives a small commission or referral fee. You will not be charged anything more because of it. Your support helps keep this blog running, and makes my student loan balances happy!

If you’d like to see my student loan payoff progress reports, I’ve written about all of them here. I didn’t write through my credit card debt because I was too ashamed of it. Truly, it is terrifying to tell people about the student loans too, but it’s worth it to hold me accountable and hopefully help others. Here’s the complete guide to what it was like for me to refinance my federal law school student loans.

Should You Refinance Your Federal Loans?

Here are some questions I asked myself when I was debating whether or not to refinance:

  1. How is my credit?
  2. Do I have any hope of a qualifying non-profit/government/public interest/etc. job that will forgive my loans after 10 years of qualified employment and payments?
  3. How much interest will I pay over the remaining payments until I hit 25 years, when the loans will be forgiven? (Some plans are 20 years, depending on your payment plan selection and when you graduated.)
  4. What is my current interest rate?
  5. What is the current federal interest rate?
  6. Is my current job steady?
  7. What are the odds that I’ll need income based repayment in the future?
  8. What impact does income based repayment have on my minimum payment today?
  9. What programs does my school offer for loan assistance? Would refinancing cause me to lose the opportunity to participate?
  10. What protections do my federal loans offer that private loans don’t?
  11. What are the origination or other loan fees associated with private loan refinancing?
  12. What impact will continuing to pay my loans as they are now have on my future in 5 years? 10 years? 15 years? 25 years?
  13. What minimum payment can I afford today?
  14. What big changes do I expect to experience in the next 12 months and 5-10 years?

I put all of these questions into a printable so that you can work through them yourself. You may have additional questions that fit your experience or current needs. I left some lines blank to fill in your own questions or concerns.

A Complete Guide to How I Refinanced My Federal Student Loans, from a human perspective.

Click here to download the free PDF!

While I have qualifying public service loan forgiveness experience (clerking and as a public defender) and work in non-profit now, the particular type of law that I have practiced for the last couple of years is specifically exempt from public service loan forgiveness. I would need 8 more years of qualifying public service work to qualify for forgiveness. I really enjoy the type of law I do now and don’t intend to leave it. I also hope to pay off my loans in the next 10 years, so it would not make sense for me to keep my loans where they are, simply for the hope of forgiveness. Lastly, you need to remember that any balance forgiven under a non-PSLF repayment plan will impact your tax liability, and that liability wasn’t very appealing to me. Thanks, Kayla, for clarifying that Public Service Loan Forgiveness does NOT currently result in any tax liability on the part of the borrower.

If after you answer these questions, you see that refinancing provides little or no benefit to you, then you should not refinance. Things could change that will change your mind on this, but there’s no rush to refinance if its not in your absolute best interest. For example, when I did this analysis last year, it did not make sense for me to refinance. When I did this analysis this month, refinancing made perfect sense.

There are a few obvious reasons NOT to refinance your student loans:

  1. You’re on track to have your loans forgiven based on the type of work you do or some other factor.
  2. Your interest rate is lower than the current federal loan rate, or lower than the lowest rate offered by the student loan refinancing companies.
  3. You are on income based repayment and cannot afford more than you are paying now.
  4. You’re not on income based repayment and cannot afford more than you are paying now.
  5. Your current job is not stable or you are afraid you could be without income for a period of time in the future.
  6. Your credit is poor (although it doesn’t hurt to seek pre-approval with soft-hits to see if refinancing is a possibility).
  7. You actually don’t owe that much on your loans. Some companies will not refinance less than $5,000 or $10,000.

The Reasons I Decided to Refinance Were as Follows:

  1. I was not likely to qualify for public service loan forgiveness any time soon.
  2. I had paid off all of my other (non-house) debt and reevaluating my debt snowball allowed me to start saving while also still making meaningful debt payments.
  3. Because I’d paid off my other debt, my credit score had increased significantly.
  4. My current student loans are at 7.125% (after auto-pay discount), and I was pre-approved for a fixed rate range between 5.1% and 6.1% (after auto-pay discount) or variable rate range of even lower.
  5. I am focused on paying these off as soon as possible so that I can enjoy life without student loans, and therefore I am not interested in waiting 19 more years for the 25 year mark of balance forgiveness.
  6. I would pay roughly $100,000 more in interest waiting for the forgiveness date to come, while I would pay only about $32,000 more in interest if I paid my loans off in 10 years at the refinanced rate.
  7. When I looked at the amount of time it would take me to even start making principal payments on my loans, let alone pay them off, it made any payments I made on the federal loans at their current interest rate feel meaningless compared to how quickly I’d paid off my other debt. I do not want to lose momentum.
  8. And the second most important factor, after the numbers made sense, was that none of the student loan refinancing companies I applied with charge origination or other loan fees, and they all offer short term forbearance in the case of job loss or other income limiting event like serious injury.

Like I said above, when I considered the option of refinancing last year, it did not make sense. I still owed debt on credit cards and my bar exam loan. My credit rating was good, but it wasn’t excellent. I didn’t have a lot of wiggle room in my debt payoff amounts because based on the snowball method, all of my extra money was going other places. Some companies were still charging origination fees and as far as I knew at the time, none offered forbearance. I also was hoping that maybe the area of law I practiced would become qualified for PSLF, but with the changing of the political climate in 2017, I have now given up any hope of that happening. Today, it made sense to refinance, but it was still kind of scary. Over the last 10 years I’ve only ever heard that private loans were bad. So I also had to come to terms with what made the most sense for my financial situation vs. what the state of loans were back when I started law school.

I am a firm believer in making financial choices that make sense on paper, and feel OK emotionally. The first car I ever bought was a 2002 Jeep Liberty. I loved that car so much that I paid full sticker price, traded in my 30 MPG car for $800 (the Jeep got 14 MPG), and took on a 13% interest rate loan. I was 21, and thought I was going to throw up. I learned an important lesson that day and for the years until I traded it in (at a loss) and bought my more responsible, 37 MPG Ford Focus – if a financial decision makes me want to throw up because it feels bad, not because it feels exciting: don’t do it. Once I did all of the math on my student loans and figured out the answers for myself, the only thing that made me want to throw up was the in-my-face realization of exactly how much money law school was going to cost me if I DIDN’T refinance.

Companies that Refinance Student Loans

I began researching companies a few months ago, and of course had heard of the big name lender, SoFi, for years. I have been getting student loan refinance letters from various companies as well, but always threw those ones away.

I restarted the research into the variety of options of student loan refinance companies in March, and settled on three banks to apply for. I only chose three because I wanted to feel confident in the places I applied at, and I also didn’t want to wait for a bunch of applications to come back. Each bank did a soft pull on my credit to give a pre-approved rate. I did more research and learned that student loan refinance is like most other loan applications, if you apply at several places within a short period of time, it will only count as one hit on your credit.

The three banks I chose were: SoFi, Earnest and Darien Rowayton Bank (DRB). There are additional options out there, that might also work for you, and you may want to apply to more or less than three banks. Next, I’ll explain what I found important about choosing a company, and then details specific to these three companies.

There are a bunch of companies that refinance federal student loans now, so it’s important to know a few things.

First, most don’t charge an origination fee, and many now have forbearance in case of job or income loss. If the company charges an origination fee of any kind, or doesn’t offer forbearance, I wouldn’t suggest refinancing with that company.

Second, you can choose which loans to refinance. So if you have some undergrad loans with really low rates, and the rest of your loans meet the minimum balance at that lender, you don’t have to refi those ones. This is different than federal loan consolidation. When I consolidated my student loans with the Feds, they consolidated them all and then averaged the interest rate. I think this could be a big perk for refinancing for some people.

Third, waiting for your rates to come back may become suspenseful. Once I bit the bullet to refinance, I couldn’t wait! I refreshed my e-mail over and over, even when I knew my SoFi application updates would be texted to me.

Ultimate Guide to Real Life Refinancing Federal Student Loans

The Back Story on the Three Banks Where I Applied

SoFi has been around the longest, and has a great reputation. It also offers job hunting services and local happy hours. A friend of mine just refinanced her bar exam loan with SoFi, and sent me a snapchat this weekend that they sent her a ton of swag! I knew they offered swag, but didn’t realize you’d get some right away. Not only is there the fun perk of swag and happy hours, SoFi is also very focused on helping people maintain a high career standard and has a super high repayment rate, which it credits to its dedication to finding borrowers jobs if they lose one.

Earnest is definitely the coolest. It allows borrowers to change their payment plans every six months, so long as you’ve made six months of on-time payments. This includes switching between variable and fixed interest rates. You can also tell Earnest, down to the penny, how much you want to pay each month and it will adjust your term and interest rate accordingly. Also appealing is the ability to schedule bi-weekly payments instead of just monthly payments. That’s the main way I’ve paid off a ton of debt recently and it makes a huge difference in interest. My current servicer makes it terribly difficult to make multiple payments in one month, so this option was a huge selling point for me. I also know many people in real life and through blogging/social media who refinanced with Earnest and sing its praises all the time.

The problem with Earnest right now is that it’s too popular. As of April 2017, Earnest is 30-45 days out on applications. I ended up withdrawing my application because I couldn’t wait for the rate and risk losing the good rate I got from DRB, which was lower than the pre-approved Earnest rate. If you can wait the extra time for the application to process, I would recommend Earnest without hesitation.

Darien Rowayton Bank (DRB) is the bank I closed on in the end. If you’ve been around for awhile, you may know Alicia who is my financial accountability partner and shares some of her stories on the blog from time to time. She had an awesome experience with DRB and strongly recommended I check it out.

It is a smaller bank that does more than just student loans, so they don’t have the fancy student loan customer service. There aren’t any happy hours or swag bags, and there aren’t fancy payment options like Earnest. That wasn’t as important to me once I saw the difference that only a few tenths of a percentage in interest makes on six figures, plus considered the fact that I could just work with a recruiter if I wanted recruitment services, and I already schedule out my payments through my bank. I later learned that DRB either services the loan itself, or runs through MOHELA. I currently have MOHELA as my loan servicer and aside from the annoyance in payment frequency/ease targeted payments, it’s been the best servicer of my loans since 2010.

I did reach out to DRB’s customer service after the loan finalized, in order to make sure Alicia received her referral bonus. They were super helpful, prompt and kind. I figured that bodes well for the future. So far, my only complaint is the unfortunate acronym of its name, but maybe that will make some fun student loan repayment jokes in the future.

In order to keep track of all of the different information on the loan companies, I put together a really basic spreadsheet of what I learned about each company, and what pre-approved interest rate I was given. One thing I liked about DRB was that they gave the actual interest rate, not the one with the auto-pay discount. That seemed more transparent to me. By the time I’d gotten to DRB, I’d also decided that I would be doing a 15 year loan term. That’s why I didn’t list out additional information on their options, despite the fact that DRB also offers a variety of options. Likewise, I did not keep track of any of the longer term rates for 20-25 year payments because my goal was to pay off the loans sooner, not on the same time frame.

A Complete Guide to How I Refinanced My Federal Student Loans, from a human perspective.

You’ll notice that the longer term you select, the higher your interest rate will be. I am not sure what impact the loan amount has on this figure as well, but I would have to imagine I’d be less risky if I had less than 6 figures of debt.

What Happened After the Official Applications were Submitted

Each application required the standard information, like my personal details, proof of income, my driver’s license, etc. All companies allowed me to send the documents with a iPhone photo – no scanner required! They really couldn’t make it any easier. However, each company wants something slightly different as well. For example, Earnest requests links to all of your financial accounts. DRB wanted proof that I passed the bar exam.

DRB

The day after I submitted my DRB application, they followed up and requested information that I passed the bar in the state where I practice. I had submitted information for my Nevada bar license since it was the first one, but they wanted to see that I was licensed where I live too. That made sense after I thought about it.

The day after that, DRB approved my application. I was shocked that it was so quick! I also appreciated that I could choose my payment terms after approval. This way, I could see exactly what I’d be dealing with. At this point, I could chose a variable or fixed rate loan, and 5, 7, 10, 15 or more years to pay. DRB communicated entirely via e-mail.

SoFi

SoFi’s average response time right now is four days. It requires that you choose your term up front, so I selected a 15 year, fixed interest rate loan. A day or two after I applied, SoFi also needed additional information, although now I don’t remember what it was. SoFi communicates via e-mail and text, which was nice. It took 8 days for SoFi to supply a final approval on my loan. During that time I googled as many combinations of, “how long for SoFi to approve a student loan” that I could think of, with no real answer. Patience is not one of my virtues.

Earnest

A few days before the SoFi answer came back, I did a live chat with Earnest to see if it really was 30 days out on my application. Because I saw how much lower my official approved rate was with DRB compared to Earnest’s pre-approved rate, I knew that no matter how much I really wanted to refinance with Earnest, I couldn’t justify the time to wait for the application to come back (remember, my federal loans accrue interest at ~$20/day), or the cool payment features. I actually felt really bad about this for some reason. I’d heard so many amazing things about this company over the last year that it was disappointing to not be able to complete the process with Earnest.

Final Decision

After I received my SoFi rate quote, I contacted Earnest and withdrew my application. After the .25% autopay discount on interest, I ended up with a 15 year loan at DRB at 5.1%, and SoFi for 6.1%. These figures were almost exactly the same as my pre-approved rates, which impressed me. I could have selected a 10 year loan at DRB at 4.9%, or 7 years at even less, but I didn’t want to commit myself to a high payment just in case. I anticipate major personal life changes in the next few years and don’t want to overcommit myself to something I can afford now, but might prevent me from enjoying life in the future. I then rejected the paperwork with SoFi and requested they withdraw my application as well.

I knew it would take a little while for the loan to pay off my federal loans, and I did not want to waste any more time. I immediately finalized the DRB paperwork. Luckily, I had my laptop with me. I don’t know if you can finalize the paperwork on a mobile device. It was very similar to the paperwork I processed when I bought my house, and I e-signed all of that on my iPad, so I don’t see why you couldn’t. Finalizing the paperwork only took long enough to read a few pages of disclosures and hit the e-sign buttons.

What My Loans Looked Like After the Loan Funded and Closed

It was about two weeks between finalizing the paperwork and funding the loans. I originally had two separate loans, one Subsidized and one Unsubsidized. Now, the loans are combined as one total loan amount. The only real impact that I see from this is that now I’ll have to set my own mental milestones, vs. throwing my money at the smaller subsidized loan to continue in the spirit of the Snowball Method.

DRB funded my loan on the exact day they said they would. I received a detailed e-mail from them, letting me know I would find out in the next 7-10 days if my loan would be serviced by them, or MOHELA. The next morning, I woke up with an e-mail from MOHELA letting me know they’d be servicing the loan. I would have liked to see DRB’s loan dashboards, but I’m pleased with this because MOHELA has been servicing my loans for years and has provided wonderful customer service, prompt answers and kindness (see above, when I cried last year about my inability to make principal payments due to accrued interest discovery). The only issue I see, is when I was applying at DRB, I signed up for auto-pay. But MOHELA didn’t transfer that information. So if this happens to you, make sure to go to the alternate loan servicer and set up autopay so that you receive the discounted interest rate as soon as possible.

I will also send a letter directing the order of priority for my payments, and for MOHELA to not adjust my payment due date based on extra payments. But I will wait a month or two to do that, just to see how the default goes. For now, I’m just waiting for the payment from DRB to MOHELA to clear to pay off the balance of the federal loans. Because I refinanced really soon after getting the payoff letter, the amount should be fully covered. You’ll have to keep an eye on yours after refinancing because if the refi doesn’t cover the balance, you’ll be responsible to pay the rest of it. With daily interest, that’s possible!

So that’s it! From start to finish, that’s what it was like to refinance my law school federal student loans. Feel free to ask me any questions or leave any comments! For now, I’m really excited to see what it feels like to make a principal payment on this bad boy for the FIRST TIME EVER!

A Complete Guide to How I Refinanced My Federal Student Loans, from a human perspective.

I’m as excited as this unintentionally heart shaped firework from last fourth of July!

If you’re interested in watching how real life student loan repayment looks with over six figures of debt, I encourage you to return for my student loan payoff progress reports, which post around the 10th of each month! You can also sign up to receive every WMSB post in your in-box using the form below.

I am not a financial planner of any kind, so make sure to take your own financial situation and needs into account when deciding whether or not to refinance your loans. It may be the right time for you to refinance, may be too early for you to refinance, or may not be in your best interest to refinance your federal student loans at all. Take the time you need to make sure you come to the decision that is truly right for you!

If you’ve refinanced your student loans, I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments. How did it go? Were you glad you did it? Are you unhappy you did? Did you pay off your loans earlier than expected because of it? Tell us all about it!

The One Homeownership Task I Completely Forgot About

Diary of a First Time Home Owner, How-To

I’ve been a homeowner for about a year and a half. Before this, I lived in apartments from 2004 to 2015. I give this context so that maybe you’ll understand the story I’m about to tell you…

How often do you need to change your air filters? Don't forget this important homeownership task!

Here is a real conversation that happened between J and I on Tuesday night.

Scene: J is adjusting something with the air filter in his house, while I am watching the Mariner’s game on his comfortable couch and TV that has cable.

Me: What are you doing?

Him: Adding air freshener to the air filter

Me: How often do you do that?

Him: (Says something I wasn’t totally listening to because I was watching the game, but then I also hear something like) when you change the filter.

Me: How often are you supposed to change those filters, anyway?

Him: (look of shock) Every three months.

Me: (silence)

Him: (look of shock now mixed with disgust) How often have you changed yours?

Me: … Never.

Him and his roommate: (Dual looks of disgust.)

The expressions were something like this, but without Neah Bay/Cape Flattery in the background.

You guys. I swear I am not a slob. I’ve just literally never had to change the air filter before. I’ve only ever lived in apartments in Washington that didn’t have central air or heat, or in Nevada where they put a note on your door to remind you it was time to change the filter, and someone came and changed it! Of course, when I lived with my parents as a child, they handled that sort of thing when it was necessary.

How to Change the Air Filter in Your House

On Wednesday night, I figured out what air filter size I needed. It’s written on the edge of your filter. I didn’t have to remove anything to see it through the grates. It will be three numbers, mine was 12 x 24 x 1.

On Thursday after work, I went to Home Depot and bought the air filter. Just so you guys know, they’re significantly more expensive than I expected! I figured it would be like $3.00. It’s just some paper and fabric or foam or something, right? Wrong. Anyway, it was $18.

There were four different “ratings.” Each rating has different protections ranging from dust to mold to allegedly killing germs in the air or preventing them from recirculating. I say allegedly because it doesn’t make sense to me that a filter can do that, but what do I know? I didn’t even know when to change it! The options were a 4, 7, 9 or 10 rating. I chose a 9.

How often do you need to change your air filters?

I came home, nervous about how to install it, read the directions, and literally like 60 seconds later the process was done. There’s a place you can write when to change it on the filter, I elected not to do that, but it’s a helpful option. That would have added like 15 seconds to the process.

So, change your air filters, folks. It doesn’t take long, it’s good for your air system and your lungs, and if none of that convinces you that it’s worth the $18, here’s a comparison photo to get your attention.

How often do you need to change your air filters?

Gross. I assure you that three months from now, I’ll be replacing this with a new one.

Also, please excuse the iPhone photos. I wasn’t putting my DSLR anywhere near that.

My Favorite 5 Instagram Accounts by Real People

Blogging

I don’t know about you, but I am super annoyed with inauthentic Instagram accounts. In my opinion, commenting and following bots ruin everything. It makes me suspicious of everyone who follows me or comments on one of my photos. I miss the days when Instagram was still pretty, but people actually shared real content, and engaged with other real content.

5 Authentic and Engaged Instagram Accounts, Run by Real People

For that reason, I decided to share with you my favorite 5 Instagram accounts by real people. None of these accounts, as far as I can tell, have left an obviously irrelevant and bot generated comment on any of my photos, and I see that they engage with the people who engage with them in their comments. Plus, their photos are interesting, gorgeous, and value driven.

You can follow these awesome instagrammers by clicking the header or the screen shot of their account. Check them out, and let me know about any other accounts you enjoy (even your own) in the comments!

@chasingmyhalo

Angie of Chasing My Halo is a Seattle blogger who I got to meet at the Bloggers of the PNW meet up in 2016. We recently got together for her joint baby shower, themed Bloggers, Babies and Bling. Her pregnancy story is a wonderful miracle that I’m sure you’ll enjoy.

5 Authentic and Engaged Instagram Accounts, Run by Real People

@nbellediaries

Lisette of Northern Belle Diaries is a FL based blogger whose Instagram account is a perfect blend of day to day life and what’s on her blog.

5 Authentic and Engaged Instagram Accounts, Run by Real People

@wongexposure

Joshua Wong is a professional photographer in Seattle, WA who is truly engaged with the people who comment on his photos and the people he follows, plus he takes incredible shots! That’s a win-win, if you ask me! Also, check out his other account Fruits in the Wild when you get to his profile. It’s awesome.

5 Authentic and Engaged Instagram Accounts, Run by Real People

@sprinklemepinkblog

Shelby of Sprinkle Me Pink Blog is a New England based blogger whose Instagram account is the epitome of cheerful, peppy and gorgeously pink photos. They aren’t the little kid, bubble gum type of pink photos. No way. They’re artistic, inspiring and totally yummy looking. Someone get me one of those strawberry cocktails, ASAP!

5 Authentic and Engaged Instagram Accounts, Run by Real People

@michellelocke6

Michelle of Writing Between Pauses is an Oregon based blogger who shares her great style, beautiful pictures and encouraging phrases. Her account reminds me of what you’d talk about if you went to coffee with a girlfriend.

5 Authentic and Engaged Instagram Accounts, Run by Real People

Honorable mentions (aka Bloggers I talk about all the time so you probably already know they’re awesome): @neelykins from It Starts with Coffee who shows what it’s like behind the scenes of being a full time blogger, and @michelleschro from Making Sense of Cents who Instagrams all of her adventures living in an RV.

What do you look for in an Instagram account? Do you disagree with me about bots? 

I wrote this post before it was published today. When I woke up, I read that Instagress, one of the companies that runs bot comments among other services, is being shut down by the request of Instagram. While I wish success for people who start businesses, perhaps this means there is hope that Instagram will return to its authentic story roots!

The 3 Settings You Need on Your iPhone For a More Relaxed Life

How-To, Lawyering

I have 3 iPhone settings that I have put into place over the last few years while I try to maintain work-life balance. I know how these work on iPhones, but I’ve never had an Android and the last time I had a Blackberry, it wasn’t really a smart phone. There might be similar settings on your phone, and if so, I’d love if you told me about it in the comments! For now, here are 3 settings you need on your iPhone for a more relaxed life!

3 Settings you need on your iPhone for a more relaxed life

1) Do Not Disturb

I keep mine on from 10 p.m. to 11 a.m. I chose this setting back in 2013/2014 when I was still in private practice and building that business while also maintaining this blog, being very active on social media, kept later hours with my friends who could text any time of night, and totally addicted to checking my e-mail. I was in a twitter chat where we were talking about how to balance life, a day job and a blog. Someone shared that they used Do Not Disturb to keep them from working when they should be resting or blogging, and keep them from blogging when they should be working.

That’s why mine goes so late in the day. Before I turned off notifications completely, I would do my normal morning routine of waking up and blogging, but then I’d have a ton of notifications from all of the social media I was sharing. The mornings are key times at work to get the worst project done and out of the way. It was so hard to not just reply to a quick tweet or e-mail, and end up thrown off of what had been a really productive roll. I was also trying to fix my sleep schedule so that I would go to bed and wake up at normal times. It was hard to do that when people were texting me at 1 a.m. I decided to give Do Not Disturb a try, and I haven’t gone back.

If you need to be available for important phone calls during that time, you can mark a contact as a “favorite.” Your phone still won’t buzz if there’s a text, but it will if that person calls. This would be good if you have kids with cell phones. I also have certain family members and work people on my favorites list. For example, my mom, dad, grandma, great grandma and little sister are all on that list. I’m not a morning person, and we had strict a “no phone calls after 9 pm” rule until my senior year of high school, when it changed to 10 p.m. So I know if they’re calling late at night or early in the morning, then there’s an important reason for it.

I also have my boss’ cell phone numbers as favorites. I don’t have our office phone number as a favorite, because that does not necessarily denote an emergency in the mornings. It could just be that I stepped out of my office to grab a cup of coffee in the break room, and they just called my cell when I was in my office.

Lastly, I have my boyfriend as a favorite (of course), and then I keep it set to allow repeated calls to ring. If someone is calling me more than once in a 3 minute period, it may also be an emergency. Although, usually it’s just someone who is confused about why my phone went to voicemail at 9 in the morning.

Find it: Settings –> Do Not Disturb –> Toggle on Scheduled and choose the time that makes the most sense to you.

If you want to allow certain people to get through the setting, select “Allow Calls From” –> “Favorites.”

If you want it to ring through if someone calls more than once in a three minute period, toggle on “Repeated Calls.”

Then choose when you want it to be silenced. I have it only silenced when the phone is locked. That means that if I am playing a game on my phone, on the other line, or already have it out texting someone, it will vibrate. If you don’t want it to ever make noise during that time, just select “Always.” Because I use this setting to prevent me from being interrupted when I’m sleeping or focusing on the beginning of my day, I am already being distracted by my phone and it doesn’t bother me if it makes noise.

2) Night Shift

Is this a real thing? I have no idea, I’m a lawyer not a scientist. What I do know is that when I’m playing my crossword puzzle before bed, there isn’t a bright light shining right into my eye balls.

Find it: Settings –> Display & Brightness –> Night Shift –> Toggle on Scheduled, which will give you the option of Sunset to Sunrise or your own custom time.

3) Turn off Notifications

All of them. ESPECIALLY your e-mail, but definitely all of them. You don’t need your phone telling you that you got an e-mail from J. Crew, when it’s time to check Facebook or respond to a tweet, or someone liked your photo on Instagram. Just turn them all off.

3 Settings you need on your iPhone for a more relaxed life

Here are the apps that I allow pop-up notifications for: Text messages and calls (I don’t think these count); Calendar (so I don’t miss a meeting); My bank account I use for home purchases/savings (I don’t use this account often so it helps me keep an eye on it); the Headspace app (it sends me a reminder to meditate and two helpful phrases throughout each day); and the Yahoo Fantasy Baseball app (because I have no idea how to play, keep forgetting how to play, and can’t stand to be embarrassed by forgetting to set my line-up again).

Some other programs send me text messages so then I do get notifications that way. For example, my regular checking account texts me when I spend over a certain amount, get a direct deposit, or when my account balance is lower than a certain threshold. Because of the way I budget (I pay everything the day after my paycheck clears and send the extra to savings), I want to be alerted when my balance is low. I also get texts when certain bills are paid or updates from certain places. If you don’t need an alert every time something changes in an app, see if you can set it to just text you when important events happen.

If you’re skeptical, Maggie and Jacey are totally on my side.

Find it: Settings –> Notifications –> “Allow Notifications” then just toggle them all off. Keep badges on so that you can see something new happened, but that won’t interrupt your day unless you open your phone and see there’s a new number by an app.

How do you keep your cell phone from dictating your life? 

LAW SCHOOL STUDENT LOAN PAYOFF PROGRESS REPORT: MONTH 8: -114,659

Debt Repayment

Month 8: -$114,659.31

I have two super exciting announcements in this post! I’m not going to take much time here, so that you can read about them below without me spilling the beans!

If you want more detailed information, check out November’s payoff report.

Remember, calling this “Month 8” is a misnomer. This is year 5 & Month 8 of payoff. And guess what? For the first 5 years of my student loan payoff I paid NONE of the principal balance on the Subsidized and Unsubsidized student loans, which makes up almost all of that balance. The remainder was my private bar exam loan. Since paying off my car and credit cards, I’ve focused all of my attention on my bar exam loan!

Law School Student Loan Payoff Progress - Month 8: -$114,659

Extra Income This Month

Affiliate links are used in this post, and most posts here on WMSB. If you click on a link and make a purchase, WMSB receives a small commission. You don’t get charged a penny more for this, but it keeps WMSB running, and makes my debt repayment happy.

Amazon Affiliate: $0.00

SiteGround Affiliate: $0.00

Day Designer Affiliate: $0.00

Sponsored Posts: $85.00

Side Hustles: None. This project should start again next month.

Expected/Unexpected Reimbursements: None – Waiting on my refund from Century Link which seems to be taking forever.

Where My Payments Went

March was a three pay period month for me. I budget by pay check so I didn’t totally notice the difference in income, but my debt did! Because guess what?! I paid off my bar exam loan!!! I did cheat a little bit by taking money out of savings, because the suspense was killing me. But I repaid over half of it with my next pay check.

Law School Student Loan Payoff Progress - Month 8: -$114,659

I also got to go to Washington DC for work. I’ll tell you more about that trip later this month, hopefully.

Bar Exam Loan: $470 (Paycheck #2) + $3 (Because I wanted to see the balance below $1,000 and after my $470 payment it was $1,000.23) +$999.35 (Paycheck #1/Savings)= $1,472.35

Unsubsidized Loan: $236.00 (minimum) = $236

Subsidized Loan: $604.58 (minimum) = $604.58

Extra Blogging Expenses: $80 (Sponsored Post Supplies)

Discover Card at 0% Interest from Household Projects: $150.00

Total Payments: $2,542.93

Current Law School Student Loans Balances

I can’t even tell you guys how fun it is to update these charts. I even go into Numbers in between updates here to plug new numbers in and see what happens. Paying off six figures of student loan debt feels like a bottomless pit. But seeing the progress in a graph and chart form helps to see that there really is progress.

Law School Student Loan Payoff Progress - Month 8: -$114,000

The interest rates on these loans are what make my payments look almost meaningless on the subsidized and unsubsidized loans.

Bar Exam Student Loan: 7.75% Interest – Went up .25% in December & caused me to attack this more than ever – Screw you, Wells Fargo.

Subsidized Student Loan: 7.125% Interest, Accruing $5.71 Per Day

Unsubsidized Student Loan: 7.125% Interest, Accruing $14.63 Per Day

I am surprised to see that I’ve paid $1,000 toward the Unsubsidized loan. When I say that, though, it’s really toward the accrued interest that built up while I was on income based repayment. I’m still on income based repayment, but for the first time, it actually pays off more than what accrues that month. Before I can pay ANY of the $104,490 of capitalized principal (the principal at graduation, before any interest capitalization, was $82,000), I have to pay off what is now $10,169 of interest. It makes it feel impossible to overcome. So I’m surprised to see that I’ve made any progress at all on the big Federal loans.

Law School Student Loan Payoff Progress - Month 8: -$114,000

What is a Bar Exam Loan?

The bar exam loan was to pay for the cost of BarBri, the only bar exam preparation course in Nevada in 2010 (roughly $4,000), the video iPod I had to buy to take my classes remotely because I took a clerkship in the middle of nowhere and back then there wasn’t reliable online streaming (roughly $200 I think?), the cost of applying for the bar exam (roughly $1,000), the cost of moving to a different state in the middle of nowhere (roughly $1,000), my apartment deposit and first month’s rent (roughly $1,200), oh and my two best law school friends got married during bar prep/the week after the bar exam and I flew to both their weddings/stayed in hotels/etc (roughly $800 – totally worth it), and then the cost of living for 2.5 months while I studied for the exam.

I worked part time while I took the bar exam. I don’t recommend this, but remember, the economy sucked and I had to take the job I was offered. That job required me to start three days after graduation. At the end of the exam period, I had a little bit of money left over, and I used it to pay a super high interest rate credit card I’d gotten to buy furniture in my 1L year.

Law School Student Loan Payoff Progress - Month 8: -$114,000

AND NOW!

YOU GUYS!!!!!!!!

THE BALANCE IS ZERO DOLLARS!!!!!!!!!!

Law School Student Loan Payoff Progress - Month 8: -$114,659

Paying off my bar exam loan makes me even happier than this photo!

I PAID OFF THE BAR EXAM LOAN!!!!

There are still things to accomplish, and goals to achieve that I’ll discuss below. But we definitely need to take the time to celebrate the wins we achieve throughout the payoff process. If we don’t, we will burn out or get discouraged. I’m speaking from experience here. I have the urge to run through the streets and cheer. Maybe I will! haha But I know for a fact I couldn’t have gotten here if you all weren’t holding me accountable each month! And I can tell you for certain now, that this feels way better than buying that $180 fit bit I wanted last month! (Btw, I still want it, but this is better.)

My Debt Repayment Goals

1) Pay off my car.

2) Pay off my credit cards.

3) Pay off the Bar Exam Student Loan.

I stuck with the snowball method, to pay off the bar exam loan, and it totally worked!

4) Re-evaluate my savings and retirement plan.

I did this a little early, because I got my annual wage increase and figured it was best to start contributing more money before I got used to the increase. I set up my office 401k to remove 8% of my pay toward retirement. Because it reduces my income before taxes are taken, and I did it when I got a raise, it only changes my take home pay by about $100, despite contributing over $200.00 a pay check toward my future. Watching that account grow makes me wish I had that money to spend, but I know that I’ll be very happy I did this when I’m ready to retire!

I’ve also re-budgeted to adjust some of my snowball payments to go toward savings for big life events. You’ll see the impact of that next month when I lay out how I plan to pay off that dang $114,659.31 left between me and freedom!

5) Tackle the accrued interest from my income based repayment plan. CHANGE OF PLANS! Big Announcement #2 is this goal: Refinance my Student Loans.

Because I have been on an income based repayment plan, without making a ton of income, my monthly payments did not cover all of the interest on my student loans. I cannot make principal payments on the loans until I pay the accrued interest.

I am also paying the really stupid interest rate of 7.125% (that’s after a graduation and auto-pay rate discount). Why the government is surprised that our generation struggles more than our parents and grandparents did is beyond me. Anyway, in the last few years, multiple companies have come out to help refinance student loans. They were very appealing to me, but I have some credit in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, and I wasn’t sure that it was worth taking my loans out of the 20-25 year forgiveness we get no matter what area of practice we go into. (Spoiler: You have to pay income tax on whatever is forgiven at the end of your payments, after already paying a shit ton of interest. It’s not free money.)

After hearing the experience of so many of you in the comments (I’m looking at you, Sarah! :) ), and taking an informal poll of my friends on Facebook, I really started crunching the numbers and realized that if I take my loan through the entire 20 year term remaining on them, I’ll have paid $101,000 in interest. ONE HUNDRED AND ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS! That’s 19,000 more than what it cost to go to law school, in interest alone!!! And that number doesn’t include the $32,000 that has already accrued in interest.

So, I started the process of refinancing this week! I have received three pre-approval rate quotes, and heard back on one application. That officially approved interest rate is 2% lower than what I’m paying now, and changes that $101,000 interest to about $32,000 if I only paid the minimum. That’s a savings of $70,000 in interest, and I’d pay it off in 10-15 years, vs 20-25 years. It only increases my monthly payment by $90, and as you can see from my snowball payments above, I can definitely pay more than even the increased minimum if I remain even minimally focused. Now I’m just waiting to hear back on the other applications before I make a decision. I’m hoping to hear back tomorrow, because now that I’ve decided to refinance, I want it nnnooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwww!

I am going to write an entire post (maybe 2?) about the process, how it went and what I thought, so I’ll stop talking about it here. But thanks for all of your support and encouragement!

6) Attack those Federal Student Loans!!

I’m coming for you, law school student loans!

Thanks for coming alongside me during this journey. I’ve loved hearing your stories too. You can leave it in the comments, or tell me about it on Facebook or Twitter!

Law School Student Loan Payoff Progress - Month 8: -$114,659

Common Questions:

I’ve written a few posts about finances and being a lawyer already. Here are the links if you’re interested:

Why I Love Barre Workouts

Fitness, Lawyering

It has been almost two years since my first barre class, and I’m still a firm believer in the workout. I still have an unlimited monthly membership, and aside from a few periods here and there where my professional or personal life threw me off course, I’ve attended classes consistently enough to make the unlimited class worth it. Now that I’ve saved money through paying off debt, I’ve bought a yoga punch card. I used my Christmas money from my Dad and bought 10 classes without the overwhelming guilt of spending money on hot yoga when I already have barre. Trying a new class every week or two has been great. But it inspired me to think about all of the reasons that I truly love barre workouts.

Affiliate links are used in this post. That means on certain links, if you click through and make a purchase, WMSB will receive a small commission. It will not cost you a penny extra, and this site + my student loans appreciate it!

Why I Love Barre Workouts & Have Stayed Consisted for Two Years

I did dance as a child, pre-teen and teen, but you don’t have to be a ballerina to enjoy barre classes. Likewise, you don’t have to be a girl. If you’re thinking about giving barre a try, I really encourage you to do so. Then, please come back here and tell me what you thought! I’d love to hear about it!

1) I can’t leave when I’m feeling lazy.

Have you ever started a workout, felt over-it before you got to the gym or even began your run? Then, have you ever gone home after like 15-30 minutes because you’re just not in the mood? Yea, me too.

Have you ever tried walking out of a group fitness class for the same reason? Yea, I didn’t think so.

2) I notice results really quickly.

I will start with the disclaimer that I was blessed with amazing metabolism, and have never had to try to lose weight. But I promise this isn’t my experience alone. I hear all of the girls who start going consistently noticing that they’re seeing fast results! Personally, I love when I can see my shoulder muscles, and when my abs start to get some definition. While I’ve always been rather skinny, I never had a shape until barre.

Why I Love Barre Workouts

When my sister saw this photo of my Grandma and me, she texted to comment on how toned my arms are! It was the first time anyone ever had!

When I first started, I noticed results within a couple of weeks, and if my workout schedule gets screwed up and I don’t go consistently for a few weeks, it only takes about 1-2 consistent weeks (3-4 times a week) before I see the muscles and definition come back!

3) I feel the good kind of sore the next day.

Walking up the stairs doesn’t necessarily feel fun, but knowing I’m sore because I worked super hard the night before and I EARNED that soreness, feels really good.

To combat soreness, I use this arnica gel. It’s also good for other types of pain, like shoulders if you work at a computer all day.

4) I have made new friends.

I’m kind of shy around new people, but when you get on a consistent workout pattern with a stranger, you eventually start saying hi to each other when you come in, and “great job!” to each other when you leave.

When I first started going, there were a few ladies that talked to each other a lot. I later learned two were a mother-daughter duo. As I went more frequently, I got to know a little about them. After one class, a girl asked to exchange phone numbers to save each other’s spot and grab each other weights if we get stuck at work a few minutes late. I texted J, “I MADE A FRIEND!” I was so excited and he was super proud of me.

There’s something about being worked to your limit for an hour that makes you bond with the people around you!

5) It makes me feel powerful.

If you ever feel like you’re incapable of accomplishing things, try doing like 200 squats in one hour to Britney Spears or Destiny’s Child. You’ll feel like you can take on the WORLD!

Just me giving a quick barre lesson to my Canadian friends @daislim and @nadinewouldsay on the streets of Seattle.

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When I was really struggling with anxiety last year, I felt weak. Then I would see myself in the mirror lifting 60+ reps of 5-8 pound weights (it doesn’t sound like much, but try a barre class and tell me what you think then!), or doing several minutes of wall-sits, or”ballet burpees,” and my confidence began to build again. If my body is powerful enough to do all of those amazing things, my mind can release anxiety!

6) It helps me create a barrier between work and personal life so I have more balance.

I stop thinking about work by the time I go home from my barre workouts! I used to hate being a lawyer. Then at a CLE once there was an ethics session about burnout. Everyone went because ethics credits are really hard to get, and we have to get a certain number every year or three years depending on the state I’m reporting for. During this session, the speaker asked who enjoyed being a lawyer. Some people raised their hands. Then she asked who worked out. Almost every single one of the people who enjoyed being a lawyer, also raised their hands.

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I have a couple of yoga mats, but this is my favorite yoga mat. I also bought this towel that reminds me of space and the stars. I can’t wait for it to arrive! Powerful workout supplies and accessories really help my motivation!

I figured it wouldn’t hurt to give it a shot and see if it helped, so I joined the YMCA. A couple of years later, I started barre. The YMCA helped a ton, but barre helped even more because I had to be consistent to 1) justify the cost, and 2) comply with the RSVP system my studio has. Running and other workouts help me as well, but since the internal will-power to stay at the gym longer than I want to is taken out of the equation (see #1), I have a whole hour to work through the stress and tension of the day. By the end of class, I’m only thinking about taking a shower and eating dinner! Because of this I sleep better and go to work more relaxed. It’s really nice.

Have you ever gone to a barre class? What did you think?? Did you like it? Why or why not?

Are you interested in trying a barre class, but not sure what to expect? Check out this post on what to bring to your first barre class!

Track Your Way to Saving Money, Paying off Debt & Staying Hydrated

Adventures, Debt Repayment, Fitness, Goals, How-To, Lawyering, Sponsored

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #StopSpills #OnTheGoWithContigo #CollectiveBias

We are all so busy and have so many goals in life, thwarted sometimes by the demands that life throws at us. How can we stay on track with what’s important to us, while juggling the balls of everything else? Today I’m sharing with you the real life way I track my goals to save money, pay off debt, stay hydrated and take care of myself so I can conquer each day.

to Saving Money, Paying off Debt & Staying Hydrated

Save Money

You may remember that I did a no-spend month a couple of years ago. It was a fantastic way to re-set my spending and learn about why and how I was tempted to spend money that I could have been saving. I also save money by bringing my lunch to work. Last week I got too busy and didn’t prep anything at all for lunch. I went out to eat 4 days. One of those days I had a meeting out of the office, so it doesn’t TOTALLY count… but the only reason I didn’t go out to eat on the 5th day is because I was eating leftovers.

Not only was that super expensive, it was also unhealthy. I feel so much better when I prep my meals, so I spent a couple of hours on Sunday meal planning, shopping and then prepping lunches and a dinner. By planning ahead, I also avoid extra trips to the grocery store. Only going once per week saves a ton of money all on its own.

Pay off Debt

I am obsessed with debt payoff these days. I have multiple spreadsheets on my computer that outline how I’m doing with my goal to pay off my law school student loans, as well as different formulas that (kind of) show me what would happen if I added $100 more here, or there, to my debt payoff plan. I say “kind of” because my student loans are so huge that some spreadsheets just don’t go far enough to show me what the final payoff would look like, but even looking at the next two years or so is enough to motivate me to see the big picture, and throw that $25 I saved somewhere, or the $12 reimbursement check I didn’t expect to receive in the mail, toward my loans instead of toward going out to eat when I brought my lunch to work.

One way I pay off debt is by bringing coffee from home. I know I say this all the time, but if I ever relapse into my gourmet coffee addiction, my bank account balance plummets faster than you can say “16 ounce, hot, white chocolate mocha, yes I want whip cream.”


Having a quality coffee mug is important, and I’ve been obsessed with the Contigo AUTOSEAL travel cups for hot beverages for a couple of years now. Luckily for me, they just came out with a cold water bottle that helps me accomplish another goal that’s super important – staying hydrated!

Stay Hydrated

I drink water aaallllllll day. I’ve actually noticed that on days where I’m feeling grouchy or irritable, there’s a pretty good chance that I forgot to bring my water bottle to a morning meeting, or forgot it in the car, or didn’t fill it up, and I’m just behind in my normal water intake.

Because of this, I’m always on the look out for a good water bottle. I learned about Contigo’s AUTOSEAL Chill line on Monday of last week and I went straight to Target to buy one (*ahem* two). Then I got super busy and forgot them in my trunk on Tuesday. On Wednesday morning I washed the Iced Aqua one out, added some ice cubes and have literally used it and the Target exclusive color, Matte Black & Iced Aqua, every day since! The other Target exclusive colors are the Stainless Steel with Monaco (second row, second from the right) and Very Berry (third and fourth rows, to the left).

Track your way to saving money, paying off debt and staying hydrated!

I had a doctor’s appointment Wednesday morning. I was really nervous because I was getting stitches removed and the results of a biopsy. Water always makes me feel better when I’m nervous, so I brought my Contigo AUTOSEAL Chill with me. (Stitches removal was mostly painless and the biopsy results were great!)

Track your way to saving money, paying off debt and staying hydrated!

Then I went to work and worked for two hours until it was lunch time. At lunch I went on a walk. I can’t tell you if my morning water was still cold by then, because I’d already drank all 24 ounces and refilled it. *Matching shirt not intentional.*

Track your way to saving money, paying off debt and staying hydrated!

A few hours later, I refilled it again, just in time for my barre workout at 5:30 p.m.

Track your way to saving money, paying off debt and staying hydrated!

My new water bottle and I had such a good thing going, that I decided to use it by my bed too. When I woke up in the morning, get this, it was still cold! I love it! It’s so much easier to stay hydrated when it’s easy to access your water and it’s the right temperature.

To get more hydration inspiration, check out Contigo on Instagram and Facebook!

Stay Fit

My barre studio has an RSVP system, where you must RSVP for class ahead of time, and if you don’t show up, you lose a credit. Not only that, you could be the jerk who kept someone who WANTED to go class out of the room because they were told the class was full.

On Saturday I headed to a late morning barre class that I did NOT feel like attending, alas I had RSVP’d, and brought Contigo’s Matte Black & Iced Aqua AUTOSEAL Chill. The matte black version was likewise effective! I also felt GREAT after the class and was really glad I went.

Track your way to saving money, paying off debt and staying hydrated!

I hadn’t thought very much about what these are made out of, until I dropped it the first time. Regardless of the color, they’re all stainless steel! Bonus: You couldn’t even tell I’d dropped it, the first or the second time. I’m a bit clumsy so keeping my workout routine (eventually having a strong core will make me less clumsy, right? Right!?), with a water bottle that can withstand an all-day schedule and being dropped a few times is essential! Plus, with the autoseal technology, I never have to worry about spilling water all over the place when I inevitably knock it over on my desk or my yoga mat.

to Saving Money, Paying off Debt & Staying Hydrated

At home, my office is also the guest room. I love working on a crisp, white desk, except when I spill on it…

To get your recommended about of water intake, you only need to drink about 2 1/2 Contigo AUTOSEAL Chills! If you’re doing hot yoga, add at least one more refill. That’s so manageable that I’m positive you can do it!

Keep the Right Focus

I have shared my morning routine with you guys a few times. That routine helps me keep my focus on the right things instead of being caught up in my to-do list. Achieving your goals is super important, but you have to stay healthy about it, otherwise you’ll just burn out.

Track your way to saving money, paying off debt and staying hydrated!

I intend to spend time every morning setting my focus and intention for the day. It doesn’t always happen, but it makes a big difference to think of my “why,” and reminds me that my value isn’t measured by how busy I am. Knowing the reason “why” I am trying to live better each day makes achieving my goals and going from activity to activity way more manageable.

Free Printable

I haven’t done my monthly goal series this year because I’m already doing my monthly series on student loan repayment. That means I have to track my goals somewhere else or they won’t be accomplished. I have been using this goal tracker for years. I pin it up somewhere that I will see it super frequently. The first year I used it, I kept it right above my coffee pot. In my new house, there are cabinets there and I can’t bring myself to tape anything to them, so I have been keeping track of my goals in my planner. For this quarter, I’m going to pin this chart up by my computer at work so that I see it all the time again, and not just when I open my planner.

I wanted to share this chart with you because I know it’s highly effective and can be completely personalized. Download it by simply clicking the link below, no e-mail necessary, I promise.

Track your way to saving money, paying off debt and staying hydrated!

Click Here to Download Your 2017 Goal Sheets

All of the actions we take in life build together to either keep us on the right track, or take us (even a tiny bit) off course. Bringing a water bottle to work saves me a ton of money on beverages, makes me feel better, and helps me to stay focused on getting tasks done at work, rather than distracted by wondering if there are any sodas or other expensive sugary options someone nearby. I also bring a travel coffee mug to work, which saves me the $4-5 on a White Chocolate Mocha and keeps me from being tempted to order a blue berry scone (another $2-3 and a ton of sugar!).  The money saved ties right into my goal to pay off my law school student loans.

Track your way to saving money, paying off debt and staying hydrated!

I work a full time job, like many of you, and go from activity to activity, starting first with my morning routine, which includes writing here. If I’m not working out after work, then I’m headed to bible study, book club, happy hour with my girlfriends or a date with my boyfriend. A reliable water bottle is key to staying hydrated, happy and healthy, and starts my day off on the right track so I’m not irritated because I’m thirsty, or extra sore after a workout because I sweated out the little hydration I had when I showed up to Barre or Yoga. The Contigo AUTOSEAL Chill is perfect for my life on the go, and the goals tracking chart keeps my eye on the prize in baby steps.

Track your way to saving money, paying off debt and staying hydrated!

Here’s my own personal goal chart for April. I will print it out soon and cross dates off instead of highlighting them. You can see that I blocked off the weekends for my goal that is week days only. Also…. don’t tell my dentist about how I’m doing with that flossing plan…

Track your way to saving money, paying off debt and staying hydrated!

Tell me, what goal are you going to write on your monthly goals tracker?