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Brittany

6 Reasons Why You Should Attend Local Blogger Events

Blogging

I am an admin for a facebook group called Bloggers of the PNW. Through this group, I’ve met several amazing bloggers in my area. I’m also a member of another group for Seattle bloggers. These groups have made blogging feel less like a solo-hobby and more like a community based project. The members in each inspire and encourage me all the time, just by seeing what work they put out.

A couple of years ago, I met a handful of PNW bloggers at an event held on an Argosy cruise.

Jennifer, Susannah, Kusum, Me, Angie

After that cruise, we talked about a few of our struggles with blogging and life, including a couple of ladies saying they were struggling with getting pregnant. The connections made that day were real and strong. It was so nice to get to know the women behind the perfect blogs and perfect social media. We all have struggles of various kinds. It’s nice to know that the friends who “live in our computers” can totally understand how it feels. As of today, all of the women in that photo (except me, of course) have had a baby. It’s truly amazing and has been so wonderful to watch.

Bloggers, Babies & Bling Baby Shower

Kusum, Angie and Sarah had a joint baby shower a few months ago. It was held at the Kendra Scott location in Bellevue, Washington. It was gorgeous, and the ladies were stunning!

Why You Should Attend Local Blogger Events

Why You Should Attend Local Blogger Events

I got to meet Callie, a wedding and event planner in the Seattle/Tacoma area (Holcomb Weddings). We talked for like an hour about different wedding venues, considerations, guest lists and even more than I should be talking about with a wedding planner considering I’m not engaged… haha. She was so knowledgable and totally in tune with the hot spots in Pierce County, which seems rare (Seattle is in King County, and a more “popular” place to get married than down south).

Her event planning company helped put on the event, along with Missy who took photos and Tammy who designed the floral arrangements (First and Bloom). I learned that these three super talented ladies work together a lot so it was cool to get a mini-version of what that’s like.

Why You Should Attend Local Blogger Events

Please excuse my black shoes with a blue dress. The weather was really hit and miss around March and I didn’t have closed toed shoes that matched. Oops.

Why You Should Attend Local Blogger Events

It was so fun to get to get celebrate with these wonderful ladies. Angie and I had time to chat about how life has been, and also managing blogging with every day life/a baby on the way.

Plus, the Kendra Scott store was SO GORGEOUS! In our gift bags, we had a card for a free necklace or set of earrings. I went back last weekend and redeemed mine. I got a tassel necklace, personalized with the color bar. I’ll have to show you my new necklace the next time I wear it. I learned that each Kendra Scott store is designed like her own home. I wish I could visit there. I bet I couldn’t be trusted with a glass of red wine.

Why You Should Attend Local Blogger Events

I’d never been to a baby shower at a retail location before, and it was totally awesome. I loved getting to spend more time around other bloggers in the area, and hang out again with Kusum and Angie!

Photos by Missy Palacol Photography, shared with permission. You can follow her on Instagram @missy.palacol.

Bloggers’ Earth Day Closet Sale

On Earth Day, a group of bloggers got together at Fresh Tangerine for a closet sale. Fashion bloggers selling their clothes at a fraction of the price and helping the environment by buying slightly worn fashion with mimosas?! Count me in!

I drove up to Seattle on Earth Day and got to meet a few bloggers I’ve followed for awhile. Morrea Seal (who I met at Influence Conference in 2012 and won a pair of her earrings at the end of the conference), Jenn at Hello Rigby, Alyson of Circa 1988, Katrina at The Demure Muse, Lisa at Story of My Dress, Rebecca of Blogger Not Billionaire, and of course, Kim who owns Fresh Tangerine.

I always get a little awkward in these situations, so I left pretty soon after buying the clothes. I do regret that because I would have liked to talk to people more, but I’m still glad I went for the time that I did.

A post shared by Brittany (@brittany_wmsb) on

I bought this dual material sweater from Ann Taylor and a pineapple tank that I somehow don’t have a photo of yet. I already knew the tank would be perfect for the different camping and festival plans we have this summer. I was right! It was perfect on our Memorial Day Weekend trip. I’ll make sure to get a photo when I wear it at Watershed!

Then, I stopped in for Indian food called Mahajara Restaurant before heading back home. It was soooo good!

So let’s recap:
6 reasons why you should attend local blogging events

Why You Should Go to Local Blogging Events

  1. Get to know your favorite area bloggers face-to-face;
  2. Grow your community of support in your solo-hobby/business;
  3. Even if you have a terrible time (you won’t), there’s likely a swag bag or a mimosa;
  4. You can discuss your challenges with finding time to blog with people who actually understand it;
  5. You’ll meet new bloggers, small business owners and find new blogs you’d never read before; and
  6. Your friends who live in the computer will becomes your friends in real life!

What’s the best community event you’ve gone to lately? Do you have any experience going to local blogger events?

Student Loan Payoff Progress Report – Month 10: -$114,996

Debt Repayment

Month 10: -$114,996.45

I’ve added a savings section to these reports. I also changed the format of some of the graphs to make them more clear. Every month that I update this, it motivates me to conquer debt and improve my future! I hope it helps you as well.

If you want more detailed information, check out November’s payoff report. Remember, calling this “Month 10” is a misnomer. This is year 5 & Month 10 of payoff. Last month I made my first ever principal payment on these loans, thanks to refinancing them. I’m so excited!

Law School Student Loan Payoff, Progress Report Month 10: -114,996

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: $12.52

SiteGround Affiliate: $0.00

Day Designer Affiliate: $8.85

Ebates Cash Back: $0.00 sent quarterly (If you sign up using this link, you’ll receive $10!)

Sponsored Posts: $90.00

Side Hustles: I’ve earned the money, but it won’t be paid for awhile. I’m cutting back on tutoring this year to focus on work and this blog, but I do enjoy it. In the past, I’ve made $1,000+ per season. This year, I don’t think I’ll come anywhere close to that and am going to try to make it up with blogging or other opportunities.

Expected/Unexpected Reimbursements: $28 reimbursement for a 5k I ran; $224 visa gift card from Century Link/DirecTV, FINALLY.

I immediately called my car insurance and paid the rest of the balance with that card. I still have about $40 left on it, so I’m trying to decide what to do with that.

Where My Payments Went

Bar Exam Loan: $0.00!!!!! I’m just leaving this here because it makes me really happy haha

Law School Refinanced Loan: $932.05

Extra Blogging Expenses: Some props/items for sponsored posts, but I don’t have the receipts handy. $6.77 for a Facebook ad.

Discover Card at 0% Interest: $282.25

Car Repair: $198.00 Ouch. This included the diagnostic fee and oil change. Luckily, J is a car genius and is saving me like $600 by helping me fix the results of the diagnostic on our own.

Total Payments: ~$1,965.07

We went on our annual camping trip to central Washington this Memorial Day, so some extra funds went to that instead of debt. Totally worth it.  I’m adding a savings section to this post based on your feedback, and in hopes that it will motivate me to save when it’s not nearly as fun as paying off debt or shopping.

SAVINGS

You guys. Contributing to my 401k is killing me. It’s so hard to save instead of watching debt balances plummet! It doesn’t feel like the same kind of game as debt repayment. Also, I made a mistake when I sent mine up and accidentally set it to increase contributions super quickly after I started. I readjusted my contributions last month, but I’m still waiting for it to be reflected on my paycheck. In case you’re wondering, going from not contributing to a 401k, to contributing $340 a paycheck to your 401k, is REALLY noticeable in your budget. Last last year, I put some things on a 0% interest credit card to redo my house and for some spring/summer travel. I could have paid it all off immediately, but instead made smaller payments and focused my attention on my 7.75% interest bar exam loan. This was absolutely the right financial choice because as soon as I paid that off, I could easily pay off the credit card in under two months, before the 0% promo went away.

I couldn’t figure out why this wasn’t working as I had planned, until last week when I was checking my account balances and saw that I have as much in my 401k now as I owe on that card. I would have absolutely had a $0.00 balance right now with my snowball payments, if my payments weren’t mostly going into my 401k now. As it turns out, money doesn’t fall from the sky just because I started being more responsible about my retirement. /sarcasm.

I am probably being a little hard on myself because I do have pensions and an IRA that either I or my employer contribute to. So it’s not that I’ve been a total dunce about retirement. I just got super inspired and decided to start contributing to my 401k as well, without actually doing the math on what I could afford while still meeting other goals. Retirement is a priority, but paying off this dang credit card, that I “responsibly” charged on, is a huge priority right now and I’m annoyed with myself that I screwed that up. The only bonus is that this is a short term annoyance, while future-Brittany will be super happy about all of the compound interest that I earned from this “mistake.”

Also, in case you were curious, things like this are why I don’t suggest people who have had credit card issues, get cards just because of the points or cash back they’ll earn. That “pay off the balance every month” thing can work, but it takes a lot of diligence and planning. It is easy to be thrown off track.

Anyway, enough woe-is-me over my own actions. The point of these posts is to inspire those suffering through debt while also holding me accountable. I’m accountable. Let’s move on and fix things going forward.

Law School Student Loan Payoff, Progress Report Month 10: -114,996

Current Law School Student Loans Balances

Look at that principal payment, baby!!! WAHOO!!!! For the first time ever, I made a principal payment on my subsidized/unsubsidized federal student loans. It feels GOOD! I couldn’t have done it without refinancing. My monthly payment went up by $100 (I was on income based repayment before), but the impact it’s going to make in reducing my debt is astounding. Paying off six figures of student loan debt feels like a bottomless pit. But seeing the numbers in a graph and chart form helps to see that there really is progress.

Law School Student Loan Payoff, Progress Report Month 10: -114,996

I’m interested to watch the interest per day go down as I start to pay off principal so I’ll keep track of that here as well.

Before Refi Per-Day Interest: $20.34

Last Month’s Per-Day Interest: $16.19 (This included days where the .25% autopay discount hadn’t kicked in yet)

Current Per-Day Interest: $15.62 (Savings of $146.12 this month in interest alone compared to pre-refi)

I refinanced with Darien Rowayton Bank. I wrote all about it in the Complete Guide to What it was Like to Refinance My Student Loans. The interest reflects the overpayment made on my federal loans.  DRB is rebranding their student loan branch into “Laurel Road.” So if you hear me talking about Laurel Road in the future, that’s why. Perhaps they heard my point that DRB is a really unfortunate acronym for a bank.

The reason the balance is higher than April is the payoff amount I received from my lender did not account for the monthly payment I would make, and the refinance happened a few days after my monthly payment of $841 was due. So it over paid by $901. I’m still waiting for that to be credited. It will all immediately reduce the principal, so once it’s sent back to DRB, the numbers will look normal again compared to April, before I refinanced.

To create this chart, you can see in red that I combined the total of my bar exam, subsidized and unsubsidized loans, so that the progress can still be tracked over time and it doesn’t look like I’m starting over. In my opinion, keeping momentum in debt repayment (and being kind to yourself if you get off track) is key to long term success.

Financial Goals Now:

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.

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. As I discussed above, I started also contributing to my 401k, which has really thrown a (good, but confusing) wrench into my budget.

5) Tackle the accrued interest from my income based repayment plan. CHANGE OF PLANS! Refinance my Student Loans. Now that I don’t have two loans to track and send snowball payments to, I’m adjusting my goals to be in increments. It’s very strange to no longer have a snowball loan to attack!

6) Reduce Student Loan Balance by $10,000 to $104,500. I’m coming for you, law school student loans!

7) Reduce Student Loan Balance to less than $100,000. When I hit that $99,999.99 mark, I think we should celebrate!

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 Report Month 10: -114,996

Enjoying your life while paying off debt is really important. I couldn’t imagine not having fun for the next 10-15 years until these were paid off. So responsible boating/camping was totally awesome!

Common Questions: 

There are some new links this month. Here are answers or insight into a few common questions that have come up during this process:

7 Things I Can’t Live Without & a Giveaway!

Giveaway, How-To, shopping

Affiliate links are used in this post. That means that if you click some of these links and make a purchase, WMSB will receive a small commission. You will not be charged a penny more. Your support helps keep WMSB running and makes my student loans happy.

When I put together my budget, I keep certain expenses in mind. Those expenses are recurring products that I use on a daily basis and need to be replenished. (This excludes things like my gorgeous couch or my bible. BTW I’ve ordered the She Reads Truth bible and can’t wait to receive it! Does anyone else have it yet?!) In fact, I am such a firm believer in these items, I’m giving away a few of them. You can enter to win until June 12! (USA only due to shipping costs, sorry.)

Tell me, what are the things you use daily and can’t live without??

7 personal items I include in every budget because I can't live without them

1. Neutrogena Makeup Remover Wipes

These are so convenient and do a great job at removing even the most determined eye liner or mascara. In order to save money, I tear them in half (or sometimes thirds, if I’m not wearing much makeup at all). Sometimes I buy the generic version, but that often burns my eyes or feels rough. Neutrogena has the formula and texture down to a science. Luckily, J also loves the way they smell so receiving a compliment about how nice I smell is an added perk if we’re together when I take my makeup off.

2. Quality Water bottles

Yes, that’s plural. I invested in two 40 oz Hydroflasks about two years ago that are still going strong. Then, Contigo came out with AUTOSEAL Chill water bottles, and I have two of those, too. I drink water all day, every day, and without water bottles I either waste a lot of money on bottled water, or I take in less water and start to feel irritable.

3. Chap Stick brand Chapstick

I know this is really boring, but it’s the best! I’ve tried a variety of other chapstick brands from the trendy to the medicinal. Chap Stick lasts the longest, goes on the smoothest, is the best under lipstick or lipgloss and is tasteless. My favorite is the blue wrapper, which is the moisturizer one.

It claims to last 8 hours which is probably inaccurate if you’re drinking a beverage. I usually have to put it on 2-3 times at work, although sometimes I think it’s just habit to put it on when I sit down to talk to people (I have a standing desk). It’s perfect for summertime because it also has 12 SPF on it. I know I’m guilty of forgetting sunblock in the beginning of the summer, but I never have to worry about my lips being unprotected because I have a tube of Chap Stick chapstick in my purse, gym bag, desk, bathroom, beside my bed and in all of my travel makeup bags. It’s also super affordable, which makes buying it guilt free and keeping it everywhere totally justifiable!

7 personal items I include in every budget because I can't live without them

4. 6′ Long iPhone Charger

How anyone functions with a 3′ long phone charger is beyond me. What if you want to sit on the other side of the couch or roll over in bed while you’re playing township? A 6′ long phone cord is a must-have in my book.

5. Himalayan Salt Lamp

I wasn’t sure about the actual benefit of Himalayan Salt Lamps, but I figured I’d give them a shot. I bought one for my house and one for my office. I’m a total believer now, and have even bought them as gifts for a few people. I really believe they have helped me get through this year’s record setting, absolutely dreary PNW winter.

7 personal items I include in every budget because I can't live without them

6. Pilot G-2 Pens, in Purple

The G-2 pens are my absolute favorite pens of all time. I love the purple color and use it for notes and research at work. Don’t worry, I keep blue and black pens on hand for the legal documents. :) The pens can be expensive, so I buy refills either online or in store. Sometimes you can find purple refills in stores, but usually you can’t. I make sure to buy a lot if I do find them, or if they go on sale at Amazon.

7. Folgers Coffee

I know what some of you are thinking. This is blasphemy and I am an embarrassment to the Pacific Northwest. But I’m telling you, I love Folgers and as long as I don’t get distracted when I’m prepping my coffee pot at night before bed, its absolutely delicious. My favorite is the Colombian Roast. #noshame

As a celebration of the fact that I like you guys, I am giving away a few of these things to one lucky reader! Use the Rafflecopter below to enter to win a gift pack valued at over $40 of my favorite things pictured below: A Himalayan salt lamp, a pack of Folgers coffee, Neutrogena makeup remover wipes, my favorite Extra gum, moisturizing chapstick and the best purple pens I’ve used!

7 personal items I include in every budget because I can't live without them

a Rafflecopter giveaway

How to Recover From a 5k

Fitness, How-To

I have received information and materials from ©Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. 2017. The opinions stated are my own. This is a sponsored post. #ForWhatMattersMost #CollectiveBias

Last month I ran my first 5k of the season. While I’ve stayed in shape and active all winter, the weather in the PNW has made running outdoors for long distances very difficult. I felt totally awesome after finishing the 5k, I started paying the price only a few hours later. Then, the next day I was SO sore!!!

How to Recover from a 5k Race: 5 Tips to Feel Less Sore Tomorrow

When I first started running races, I noticed that are a lot of posts about how to recover from marathons and other super intense competitions, but there aren’t many tips about 5ks. If you’ve never run a 5k, or if you haven’t gotten your first race in for the season, here are 5 tips on how to recover from a 5k.

1) Stay Very Hydrated

Your hydration doesn’t end when the 5k ends. Make sure after you finish your run, that you keep drinking water. You probably started your Saturday or Sunday morning off by losing a lot more sweat than normal. You will still need your normal water intake for the day, and it’s a good idea to drink a little more. I also suggest drinking a beverage that has added electrolytes.

A lot of people talk about hydrating before and during a run, but don’t forget to keep hydrating for the rest of the day!

2) Stretch that Day

Stretching is important both before and after a run. I noticed during the run I did last month, that my muscles immediately felt tight and achey as soon as I crossed the finish line. It’s important to do a cool down “lap” outside of the race path, and stretch right after a run to keep your muscles loose to help prevent injury. You should also stretch a few hours later or before bed. Being kind to your body will help it be kind to you!

How to Recover from a 5k Race: 5 Tips to Feel Less Sore Tomorrow

This was the start and finish line of my last 5k. Isn’t it so much easier to run on a gorgeous route? If you look closely enough, you can barely see Mt. Rainier in the distance!

After this race, I walked in circles around the green play pad while I ate the race-provided banana. I hate bananas, but I know how good they are right after a run. The walking while I ate it helped distract me from the taste.

3) Take TYLENOL® 8 HR Muscle Aches & Pain

Taking TYLENOL® 8 HR Muscle Aches & Pain will help temporarily relieve muscle aches and pains. Taking TYLENOL® after my run helped my muscles be less sore. The 8 hour feature is key so that we can continue with the rest of the chores our weekends hold. It’s not only good for post-run-soreness, but also to support you after any activity where you feel muscle aches and soreness, like yard work, a game of flag football with your friends, or that boot camp class at the gym that you avoid during the week because you’re too tired after work!

How to Recover from a 5k Race: 5 Tips to Feel Less Sore Tomorrow

TYLENOL® can be purchased at Target, near the Pharmacy. Remember, TYLENOL® 8 HR Muscle Aches & Pain is only for adults and children 12 years old and older. Take it only as directed and check with your doctor if you have any conditions. I don’t have children, but if you do, make sure to keep it out of their reach!

5 Tips to Recover from a 5k

Thanks to the work you’ve done to recover after you conquer the 5k first thing in the morning, you can take back your day!

4) Take an Epsom Salt Bath

I have found that epsom salt baths make a huge difference in my recovery. Simply add a cup or two of epsom salt to a warm bath, grab a book and relax!

It may be hard to take this step because you feel like you have a lot of things on your to-do list today. But remember, you just kicked butt and finished a race! You deserve to treat yourself to a few moments of quiet relaxation.

5) Work out the Next Day

It may be really hard to motivate yourself to work out on the day after a run, but it will make a huge difference in your recovery. Your muscles will really appreciate the extra attention. You don’t have to do another workout that is hard on your body. Instead, you can try a yoga or swim class.

A post shared by Brittany (@brittany_wmsb) on

Mixing things up in your workout routine not only helps your body get fit and toned in different areas, but it also prevents boredom. Win-win! What do you do to reduce muscle aches and pains after a hard workout or satisfying race??

DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical expert, and this post is not medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. ©Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. 2017. The third party trademarks used herein are trademarks of their respective owners.

The Top 5 Things for a New Hiker to Bring on a Hike

Adventures
Are you new to hiking? I just started hiking when I moved to Western, WA. My friends Meghan and Paul were going on a hike and invited me to join them. I’d never been on a hike before and didn’t really know what to expect. When I arrived, Meghan said, “I’ve never seen someone wear jeans on a hike.” … I had no idea!

Here are 5 items I’ve learned are essential to bring with you on a hike. If you’re going on more advanced hikes, or camping overnight, the list gets larger. But if you’re a beginner, this should do. Adjust how much water and how many snacks you’re bringing based on the length of your hike.

The Top 5 Things for a New Hiker to Bring on a Hike || What do I bring on my first hike?

Affiliate links are used in this post. That means that if you click a link and make a purchase, WMSB may receive a small commission. This keeps WMSB running and makes my student loans happy. You will not be charged a penny more!

1. Water

Make sure to have ample water for your hike. If you’re in the PNW it can be sort of deceiving because a lot of hikes are covered by trees, and the trails may be cooler out of direct sunlight. But you still need to protect your body and stay hydrated! Start hydrating in the days before you go on your hike, and leave some water in the car for when you return.

2. Snacks

We will often stop somewhere along the way to our hike and eat in the car. I carry granola bars, fruit snacks and beef jerky on me as well. Snacks are key to keep your energy up, and also in case you get lost or delayed for some reason.

3. An Emergency Alert Tool

I ran this one by J, to see if he had any specific wisdom to share. He’s been going on outdoor adventures for his whole life, and is in the military. So I figured he’d be way more knowledgable. He was. He told me about a variety of options. A whistle is the easiest, in my opinion. They’re light, inexpensive, and powerful. If you get lost on the trail, or injured somehow, people will have a much easier time finding you if you have the whistle. Blowing on a whistle will be much louder than trying to yell over and over.

You can also bring bells, or a horn. These items can also come in handy if you encounter wildlife that you want to scare away. Make sure to read up on any potential large wildlife in your area, and how to protect yourself. For example, I know some people around here carry bear spray. If I encounter a bear on a trail, that may be the last trail I ever walk on in my life…. haha

4. Skin Protectant

Bug spray and sun screen (this is my favorite sun screen) are MUST HAVES. If you’re not going to be on your hike for very long, then you can probably leave the sun screen in the car. But the bug spray is worth keeping on you. J and I went on a gorgeous hike one day, and in the middle was a massive swarm of mosquitos. We had to put our heads down and truck it up the hill to be bitten as little as possible. When I stopped to catch my breath, I was like a magnet. I added bug spray then, as well as right before we went back down the trail after enjoying the view. People at the top were sharing bug spray with friends and strangers because it was so bad. Now I take it every time we go on an outdoor adventure.

5. A Lightweight Backpack

As you can see, you’ll have quite a few items that won’t fit into your pockets or a small cross-body purse. A lightweight backpack is key. I received one of those drawstring backpacks from my alumni association. They’re not my style, so you’d never see me wearing it around town, but it’s perfect for hiking and even camping supplies.

You can also bring a small bag within your backpack for trash, so make sure you don’t leave anything behind by accident.

6. Bonus: A camera

If you have a nice smart phone, then it will probably take fine photos. However, if you can carry it, bringing a higher quality camera will really pay off. There are so many gorgeous sights on a hike, you’ll love looking back on the details later. With a nicer camera, you can also take photos worthy of hanging on your walls at home. I haven’t been able to bring my Nikon onto the trails in Washington, but I can’t wait for our first hike of the year to test it out! This view in particular would be wonderful to revisit with my DSLR!

I went on a hike to Red Rocks in Denver last week. It was gorgeous! I took my DSLR all the way to Colorado, but then didn’t bring it with me on the hike because of all the warnings about how much harder it would be with the elevation. I wish I would have had it to truly capture the gorgeous colors and intricacies of the surroundings!

How to Relax on a Weeknight (without spending a ton of money)

How-To, Lawyering, Sponsored

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

Happy Monday! It’s a new week and therefore a fresh opportunity to get a ton of things done and start on a productive streak! Mondays can be a total bummer, but with the right mindset, they can also be the key to a great week.

I don’t know about you, but even if I had a great day, it can be really hard to relax after work. There are times I think wistfully to the days that other new lawyers and I would go out to happy hour and talk about what it was like to be an associate. But then I remember how quickly a bill for glass of wine and a happy hour appetizer can add up, especially if you go more than once a week. Or in college we’d go see a movie after class to celebrate being done with a big assignment or just because it sounded more fun than than doing more homework. Of course, this was before movies were $12-15/person!

5 Budget Friendly Ways to Relax on a Weeknight

Even though I love happy hours with friends, I assume I’m not the only person who wonders how I can relax after a long day at work without breaking the bank. Here’s my budget friendly routine to chill out after a productive Monday, either right after work, or right after I finish my barre workout. I’d love to hear your weekday relaxation techniques in the comments!

1. Cook an easy dinner

No Pinterest perfect recipe is required here! I love the challenge and satisfaction of cooking a meal that not only has that “flavor profile” they always talk about on TV, but also satisfies all of the recommended food groups for good nutrition. But because I’m not married, I still make quite a few meals that are only eaten by me. Sometimes I (accidentally) eat chips and salsa for dinner, but I really don’t recommend that.

5 Budget Friendly Ways to Relax on a Weeknight

On the nights that I want to just get home and relax, and am being more intentional than chips and salsa (I hear some of my friends love popcorn and wine, or just a bowl of cereal), I choose one of these quick and easy go-to meal ideas:

  • Spaghetti with meat sauce & a salad – I only use 1/2 pound of ground beef in my spaghetti to save money
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich & a salad – These are still totally delicious when you’re a grown-up
  • Tikka Masala or Butter Chicken using a jarred sauce & rice – try a few different brands to find the one you like the best
  • Hot dogs & chips or an apple – But never more than 2. One night I ate 3 because I was out of side dishes and I felt so gross. There are some things we ate as kids that are not totally delicious as a grown-up

2. Eat dinner (or a snack) on the couch

Don’t tell my mom, but eating dinner on the couch is one of my guilty pleasures. I bought my couch a couple of years ago, and I still loooooove it. I get tons of compliments on the fact that not only is it pretty, it’s also comfortable.

5 Budget Friendly Ways to Relax on a Weeknight

Because I want to protect my investment, and I’m a little too klutzy to eat dinner on my couch without spilling, I use Scotchgard™ Fabric & Upholstery Protector. You can buy Scotchgard™’s Fabric & Upholstery Protector at Target, but it’s a little difficult to locate, so I took these photos to walk you through. (PS. Get your $1.00 off coupon before you go!)

The top left corner shows what the aisle will look like from the main aisle, the top right corner shows you what the aisle will look like from the back wall of that department. I found it in between the all purpose & mopping and specialty floor sections next to the pet-mess cleaners, despite the fact that I thought it would make more sense if it were in a laundry aisle.

5 Budget Friendly Ways to Relax on a Weeknight

Thankfully, with Scotchgard™, there’s no need to worry about spilling a bit of dinner on the couch! The process of applying it to my gorgeous couch was super easy, and its invisible so it didn’t change the color of my couch at all.

Step-by-Step:

1. Try to not spray on other areas of your home. I avoided overspray by laying the cushions on a plastic trash bag I’d cut open. If you happen to get it on your floors or another hard surface, wipe it up quickly and it will be OK.

2. Shake the can really well

3. Test it on a small area first. Just like you’d never slather a whole bottle of tanning lotion on your skin before testing to make sure it looked OK, don’t willy-nilly start spraying all of the fabrics in your home with Scotchgard™. To make sure Scotchgard™ is appropriate for your fabric, test it in a small area and then rub it with a white absorbing cloth. If the white color wears off on that spot, then don’t use Scotchgard™ on that item. The good news is that you can use Scotchgard™ on all kinds of things so it will still be a good purchase if it’s not ideal for the first piece of furniture or clothing you spray it on.

5 Budget Friendly Ways to Relax on a Weeknight

4. Then start spraying the item. I held the can upright and about 6 inches away from the cushions. You’ll want to overlap the lines and spray pretty slowly. It doesn’t take long, so don’t try to rush the process by spraying a super heavy coat on top. It’s better to have two light coats.

5 Budget Friendly Ways to Relax on a Weeknight

5. Let the items dry after the first coat, before applying the second. Let the item dry completely before you let kids or pets in the room, if you have those.

5 Budget Friendly Ways to Relax on a Weeknight

After 3-6 months, depending on your level of use, reapply for ultimate protection. Because I don’t have kids, I’m sure I’ll be fine to re-apply after 6 months. I’ll probably have to buy a new can though, because I can already feel the itch to go Scotchgard™-crazy on my winter fabrics the next time I’m not having a lazy night at home.

Now that my couch is protected from my chips and salsa spills, I have one less thing to worry about when I get home from work and just want to relax.

3. Pick out a fun toe nail polish

It’s getting warm outside, slowly but surely. It’s time to finally unveil those toes that have been crammed into heels or rain boots all winter. You won’t believe what mine looked like before I started painting them tonight. Just like Scotchgard™, let the first coat of your nail polish kind of dry before applying the second one for the longest lasting at-home-pedicure.

My favorite toe nail colors this season: Mint, hot pink, purple, and per usual, red.

5 Budget Friendly Ways to Relax on a Weeknight

… While we’re at it, let’s not tell my mom I paint my toes while sitting on the couch either.

4. Find a great TV show with an On-Demand service

Cable-Schmable! There are more than enough options to find good television these days, even if you’ve cut the cord.

5 Budget Friendly Ways to Relax on a Weeknight

I am totally addicted to One Tree Hill, but sometimes that show is way too intense for me when I just get home from work. A few other options that I really enjoy are New Girl, Friends, The Mind of a Chef, The Great British Baking Show or Modern Family. Some of these I watch on an on-demand service, and some I can pick up with my antenna.

You know what else helps me relax? Remembering that I’m not spending $80/month on cable!

5 Budget Friendly Ways to Relax on a Weeknight

5. Pour a good glass of wine

A “good” glass of wine is totally relative. I have a wine club membership to a winery in Woodinville, WA. I also am a big fan of the $5.99 bottles of twist-top wine you can find at Target. I wouldn’t recommend living on the edge and spilling red-wine on your newly protected fabric, but now that my couch repels liquids, I can breathe a little easier when I start cracking up during one of those TV shows and splash a tiny bit of wine on my couch.

5 Budget Friendly Ways to Relax on a Weeknight

These are my tips for a weekday relaxation routine that doesn’t break the bank! What are yours?

If you want to read about more ways Scotchgard™ can improve your every day life, check out these other ideas to stay worry free and mess free!

Law School Student Loan Payoff Progress Report: Month 9 -$115,448.73

Debt Repayment

Month 9: -$115,448.73

This number may look higher than you expect, and that’s because it’s falsely inflated right now.

If you want more detailed information, check out November’s payoff report. Remember, calling this “Month 9” is a misnomer. This is year 5 & Month 9 of payoff. Last month I paid off my bar exam loan, leaving only the big federal loans to conquer! I was facing $10,000 of accrued interest that I would have to pay off before I started paying the principal balance (which accrued interest at 7.125% AFTER interest rate discounts), until this month when I refinanced my loans. Let’s get into the rest of the details before I get too far ahead of myself!

Law School Student Loan Payoff Progress - Month 9: -$115,448

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: $50.00

Day Designer Affiliate: $0.00

Ebates Cash Back: $12.72 (If you sign up using this link, you’ll receive $10!)

Sponsored Posts: $300.00

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

Expected/Unexpected Reimbursements: None – I’m still waiting on my refund from Century Link which seems to be taking forever. I called them last night and they claimed there was a glitch that caused it not to send, and it’s been resubmitted to be sent. uh huh… Once I receive that, I plan to use it to pay my car insurance for the rest of the term, if they’ll let me use a visa gift card for that.

Where My Payments Went

I am still super excited about paying off my bar exam loan. It doesn’t feel real. It has freed up $940/month in snowball payments that now I am in the process of repurposing into savings or additional debt payments. The 0% interest rate on my discover card is coming to an end soon, so I will need to pay that off. I could have paid it off along the way without a problem, but didn’t think it made sense to pay that when I had a 7.75% loan accruing daily interest. Now I’m annoyed about the discover card, but it did work well to remodel my bathroom before refinancing my house, purchase our trip to Vegas last month, and Watershed over the summer. So at least it wasn’t like my old credit cards where it was unplanned spending on useless things/food/clothes/gas.

J and I visiting with my great grandma while we were in Vegas

Bar Exam Loan: $0.00!!!!!

Unsubsidized Loan: $236.00 (minimum) = $236

Subsidized Loan: $604.58 (minimum) = $604.58

Extra Blogging Expenses: None, somehow.

Discover Card at 0% Interest: $150.00

Total Payments: $990.58

This was the smallest debt repayment month I’ve experienced since starting this process in November 2014. I suppose that makes sense now that I’m down to only one debt, and went on a vacation last month. But it’s still crazy. This doesn’t reflect any of the money I put into savings or toward my retirement accounts. Is that something you guys would like to see? I’m thinking about doing that, but also not sure how because I don’t want to share account balances for savings/401k accounts, etc. Feel free to leave any suggestions below!

I also went totally off course on my budget this month, unintentionally, because I forgot that I’d started contributing to my 401k. I’ve kept a solid budget for the last couple of years and by now I have a pretty good feeling about how much money I can spend on different things. By forgetting that several hundred dollars of my paycheck went to my 401k, I found myself in a really tight spot for about a week before it was pay day again. I’ve readjusted how much I put toward my 401k, and actually kind of appreciate the shock to get me back on track. Now, I am motivated to see WHERE my money has been going and reset a budget that hopefully finds some extra-money I’ve started wasting on going out for lunch or shopping on Amazon just because I’d gotten comfortable in my budget.

Current Law School Student Loans Balances

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 9: -$115,448

The interest rates on these loans are what made my previous payments look almost meaningless on the subsidized (7.125% interest, accruing $5.71 Per Day) and unsubsidized (7.125% interest, accruing $14.63 Per Day) loans.

Before I could pay ANY of the $104,490 of capitalized principal (the principal at graduation, before any interest capitalization, was $82,000), I would have to pay off what is now $10,169 of interest. It made it feel impossible to overcome. So I was surprised last month to see that I made any progress at all on the big Federal loans. The “progress made” that you see there was only toward the accrued interest, and never toward the principal, which would continue to accrue at ~$20/day + the $10,169 I already owed.

After doing the math, I determined that it was time to refinance my student loans. I refinanced with Darien Rowayton Bank, now known as Laurel Road. I wrote all about it in the Complete Guide to What it was Like to Refinance My Student Loans.

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

The reason the balance is higher than last month is the payoff amount I received from my lender did not account for the monthly payment I would make, and the refinance happened a few days after my monthly payment of $841 was due. So it over paid by $901. The good thing is that I didn’t owe anything on the prior loan. The bad thing is that it apparently can take 45-60 days for that $901 to be sent to my new loans and taken off of that principal. For now, the balance is higher than I’d prefer, but it’s worth the 2% reduction in interest over the long term! The refinanced loan accrued about $16.19/day. This includes the first few days before the .25% autopay discount kicked in. I’m interested to watch the interest per day go down as I start to pay off principal.

Law School Student Loan Payoff Progress - Month 9: -$115,448

To create this chart, I combined the total of my subsidized and unsubsidized loans, so that the progress can still be tracked over time and it doesn’t look like I’m starting over. Keeping momentum in debt repayment (and being kind to yourself if you get off track) is key to long term success. I will make my first official payment on the refinanced loan in late May. I may make a snowball payment before then if I choose to send it there instead of Discover, out of excitement. But I shouldn’t.

Financial Goals Now:

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.

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 keep meaning to list out what I’ve done here, but as you read above I just haven’t figured out the sweet spot of what % works and what doesn’t, so I haven’t felt ready to write about it.

5) Tackle the accrued interest from my income based repayment plan. CHANGE OF PLANS! Refinance my Student Loans. I refinanced my student loans with Laurel Road. Now that I don’t have two loans to track and send snowball payments to, I’m adjusting my goals to be in increments. It’s very strange to no longer have a snowball loan to attack!

6) Reduce Student Loan Balance by $10,000 to $104,500. I’m coming for you, law school student loans!

7) Reduce Student Loan Balance to less than $100,000. When I hit that $99,999 mark, I think we should celebrate!

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!

A Guide to How I Refinanced My Federal Student Loans

Common Questions: 

There are some new links this month. Here are answers or insight into a few common questions that have come up during this process: