Top 5 Small Business Tools

I recently realized my favorite part about being a creative is starting small businesses. In the past few years, I have started multiple small businesses. This list includes a blog, a micro-bakery, and a dog-sitting business. In my ventures, I get the most excitement from beginnings. However, when I am doing the actual work on the daily, I get this negative feeling inside. Is it boredom? After some self-discovery, I realized that my favorite parts are in growing the business. Creating a business idea, creating websites, working on marketing, optimizing financials, and brainstorming for new ways to grow are my favorite things to do. Once business becomes stagnant, I lose interest. I see now that growth is my motivator in life, both in business and personal. With that in mind, I wanted to share with you my top 5 small business tools that will help a small business grow!

Top 5 Small Business Tools

  1. WordPress. A website is very important to growing your brand. Actually, even if you don’t own a small business, I think you should still have a website for yourself. As we progress into the digital space, each individual should embrace a brand that represents them in the professional world. No matter what that looks like, it should be expressed on a website that is easily found online. Like a resume, it should include a brief bio, your mission statement, and what you’ve been up to in the past few years. WordPress is a user-friendly platform that costs very little to start. You can use my referral link here to get $25 off your first purchase – this could cover your custom domain.
  2. Tailwind. Social media presence is crucial these days. It is not only a social platform, but a place to sell your products and services as well. Twitter sells your brand, Pinterest sells your site, Instagram sells your products and services. The most important thing about social media is consistency. Posting and engaging every day is important. If you don’t have someone managing your social media then you have to do it yourself. Tailwind helps streamline the process by scheduling future posts at ideal times. You can time-block your schedule and set aside one hour to schedule all the posts for the week. Everything from there runs on auto. You can try Tailwind for free at first to see how you like it, but eventually you’ll want to post often enough to do a subscription of some sort. It really changed my life and freed up my time and to-do list! I love time-blocking so this app really worked for me!
  3. Flodesk. Growing an email list is very important to your business. Your email list should consist of subscribers who are interested in your product or services. Engagement is key as that boosts interest. And emails help alert people when you release a new product or service. This will then increase conversion rates. Sending out emails even once a month makes a big difference! I used to use ConvertKit but switched to Flodesk recently. This post explains why I made the switch. Since moving to Flodesk, I have had more fun creating emails, and they’re a breeze too. I genuinely believe people can tell when you are having fun doing your work, because I have also seen an increase in subscribers! Flodesk is great for email marketing beginners. Sign up for a Flodesk account to start growing your mailing list today. There’s no time like the present!
  4. Moo. People may say business cards are a thing of the past, but I don’t think that’s true. When I was growing my bakery, people took my business cards at Farmer’s Markets and I left my business cards at restaurants and coffee shops where I dropped off bread samples. For the dog-sitting business, I left my business cards at the local coffee shop and about half of my clients are from there! People will be drawn to your business if you have great cards. That’s why I recommend Moo. They’ve got easy-to-use templates, great quality cards, made in modern prints and sizes. My most popular cards are those in a square shape with a gloss print.
  5. YouNeedABudget. I am always promoting YNAB for personal finance but it is useful for small businesses too. Proper accounting of your expenses and income will drive future growth with the business. You need to know what the profits are, and where you are bleeding money. Analyzing the finances of small businesses is really fun for me. It challenges me to find creative ways to save, as well as new ways to make more profit. If you have a small business just starting out, YNAB could be a good option for now. Eventually, you will grow to a point where you could outsource the accounting and taxes to a professional. I highly recommend Prescott Tax and Wealth Management for my local peeps. Until then, sign up for YNAB and try to do things on your own while starting out.

There are many business tools out there, but these happen to be my top 5 tools for small businesses.

Photo by Christopher Gower on Unsplash

Thoughts: On Work

Earlier this week, I came home from working a day of dentistry. It was Monday, which is a day I am usually off. I was covering for a friend who went on vacation to Korea for a month. I pulled into my driveway as my neighbor was putting away the groceries. She saw me wearing my Figs scrubs (the only brand I wear for work) and cocked her head to the side. “What else do you do besides taking care of dogs?” A funny question, as the dog business is my side-hustle. But here in my neighborhood, I’m known as a dog caretaker, not a dentist. So I told her I work as a dentist and she appeared even more confused. “But if you’re a dentist, why do you bother taking care of pets?” she asked.

Now it was my turn to get a quizzical look on my face. This happens a lot in my life. A sort of disconnect between myself and others who follow the formulaic status quo. I could tell right away that she didn’t understand the point of working if it wasn’t for pay. It was also obvious that she viewed work as a job that one must do, whereas I viewed work as fun things I like to do. She is a stay-at-home mom and might be proud of the fact that she didn’t have to work. It’s also possible she was insinuating the question, “Do you not make enough as a dentist that you have to do more side-hustles?”

So I answered her as truthfully as I can.

“I take care of pets because I like to. It’s fun for me, and I fall in love with them and treat them like my kids. I started out watching just one or two here and there, but now I get requests all the time. Since I have a lot of time on my hands, I accommodate as many as I can. This way, our neighbors can go on their vacations with peaceful minds, knowing who is taking care of their pet family members.

I actually do a lot of things! They are all fun for me and give me joy. On top of taking care of pets, I am helping a bakery grow and I write a blog to help new grads, moms, and people in debt live minimalist lives in order to get closer to financial freedom. I also volunteer at the farm down the street. You should join me sometime!”

Her son came out of the house at that point. A saving grace for both of us. ‘Ah, okay’ as she backed away. I hope I didn’t freak her out. But it’s true. I can’t say at what point during the pandemic I actually became financially free – in the sense that I am not tied to my money, and I stopped working for pay alone.

Perhaps it was when I had enough FU money to quit the job that I hated. More likely it was the healing time period when I learned that I could create any position for myself. Or maybe it was after people reached out to me to help them. Did you know that I never asked to work at either of the two dental offices I currently work at? Actually, I was expecting to never work in dentistry again! I also did not apply to be a wholesale director of the bakery. In all three cases, they came to me and asked if I could help at times when they had no one.

I do my work because it entails helping others. That’s what I like to do. Not because of the money anymore. If my jobs were taken away from me today, I wouldn’t be sad, mad, upset, or worried. I would probably just shrug my shoulders and keep contributing myself to this life, keep showing up for people I’ve gotten to know. Not much would change, except maybe a pivotal shift on where I spend my energy most.

When I think about work, I don’t think of it in the traditional sense of a job. I just think of it as another day where I go and help a few people out. That’s all. I am not dependent on a specific company or career. I am only dependent on myself. I’ve focused on building myself up rather than building a career. (That’s advice I would give any college student!)

My neighbor was probably thinking to herself, “Poor gal. She has to work so hard to be able to live.” I’m over here thinking, “How do I get this neighbor out of her box to join me in this thing called life?” Hopefully we become fast friends. Bringing over banana bread might do it.

Do what you love, and call it work. Some say it can’t be done, but I’m trying my darndest to prove them wrong.

The Easiest Healthy Chicken Recipe

It seems to always come up when speaking with young people that there is a struggle with cooking good chicken. I find that unfortunate, as chicken is one of the healthy, staple ingredients in our home. But then again, I was in their shoes once. I remember being 22 years old and serving my husband (then boyfriend) and his best friend homemade Parmesan chicken. I followed the recipe online, and the house smelled gloriously of cheese. To my mortification and deathly embarrassment, the chicken was still raw when we started eating. Not pink raw, but sinewy raw. My sweet friend still kept trying to eat it as I wholeheartedly tried my best to stop him from putting my pride back together. Since then, I have learned how to make chicken consistently cooked-through, and delicious too. Not only that, but I have learned to make it efficiently, in terms of both money and time. I want to share with you the easiest healthy chicken recipe. We use this recipe almost weekly and I hope you do, too!

You can get really fancy with chicken, but today we will learn the basics. A few words before the recipe.

  • Get good quality chicken. I recommend splurging for ones found in Sprouts of Whole Foods, instead of the extremely pink or extremely pale plastic-wrapped breasts at cheaper grocery stores. Good quality chicken will shine through, regardless of what you season it with.
  • Season it with something. Even if it’s just salt and pepper.
  • Time the whole process as described in the instructions.
  • If you are unsure, stick a thermometer in there and make sure the internal temperature is 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

And now, on with the recipe!

Ingredients:

  • Chicken breasts (as many as you want)
  • Evermill Blend
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

The Process:

  1. Heat up olive oil on a cooking pan with a matching lid on medium high heat. This is my favorite recommendation.
  2. Meanwhile, rub Evermill blend on both sides of the chicken breasts. I recently wrote a review on the Evermill spice rack and I truly believe it is the best investment any young person hoping to learn the ways of the kitchen can make. It really leveled up my cooking, and I am not a novice. Out of all the spices on there, the Evermill blend is something you can only get at Evermill, and it is delicious with chicken. If anything, just buy the spice on its own. A side-note: When I was young, I failed to be generous with spices. Definitely rub on more than you think you will need. Make sure the surface area of the chicken is well-coated, and then some. If you don’t have the Evermill blend, then skip to step three.
  3. Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of the chicken. Once again, be liberal. The first three steps should take no longer than a minute.
  4. Once the olive oil is hot, place the chicken in the pan. Do not put on the lid. Let the chicken cook on medium-heat for one minute. It should fry one side to a brown color. Do time this process moving forward.
  5. After one minute, flip the chicken onto the other side. Lower the heat to medium-low and put on the lid so that no steam escapes. Cook for 8 minutes. At this point, I literally turn on a timer and walk away from the stove. Or I prep dishes to eat with the chicken. This recipe really doesn’t take a lot of time at all!
  6. After the timer goes off, turn off the flame and keep the lid on. Do not let steam out. Let sit on the stovetop for another 8 minutes. Don’t forget about that timer.
  7. And voila! By now, your chicken should be cooked to perfection.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

10 Things I Do to Overcome Overwhelm

It’s 2022 and I am more open to admitting that I suffer from anxiety. I always have, but was never fully aware of it. My anxiety usually left me overwhelmed, a symptom that I learned how to overcome. As a kid, I was surrounded by an excess of stimuli. I grew up with a big family and a culture that loves to express joy in laughter, music, and chatter and more negative emotions openly. I spent much of my childhood with a book or fast asleep. Frequently, I was highly irritable, frustrated, or crying. I couldn’t understand my anger until I was in my thirties. The realization that I felt really calm when I had a lot of space, time, and quiet changed my life. Since then, I have learned what to do when I feel overwhelmed. Today, I want to share 10 things I do to overcome overwhelm.

But before we get into that, you may also like to read the following similar posts!

10 Things I Do When I Feel Overwhelmed

  • I make lists. You’ve probably noticed that my blog posts have recently taken on a list format. This is not a recent infatuation. I have always written to-do lists. My husband once joked when we were still dating that he had to write ‘breathe’ on my list, in case I forgot to do things outside of my list. List making organizes my mind, and organization makes me feel more in control of my life. A lot of my anxiety arises when I perceive a lack of control. That’s why lists work so well!
  • I tidy the home. More accurately, I do a deep clean of my spaces. This goes back to organizing so that I feel in control of my environment. This is especially useful when my anxiety leads to stress. The physical act of cleaning releases endorphins. I like to ‘sweat out the stress’. Meanwhile, tidying minimizes the clutter in my environment which reduces the ambient noise. Not only do I feel more in control, but I feel calmer too.
  • I empty the calendar. My overwhelm is sometimes caused by me not acting in alignment with my values. It’s when I say yes to things or do things that do not give me joy. Overwhelm can also happen when I do too much. That’s why I write about slow, intentional living. Emptying the calendar helps a ton! I always have a planner wherein I make long lists of things I want to do. I go through my lists and cross off anything that isn’t pertinent, necessary, or joyful. I usually am able to cross of 50% of the things I wrote down. It’s a great reminder, too, that busy is not the same as productive.
  • I sleep. My parents still tell stories about me as an infant, falling asleep everywhere. At restaurants my head would dunk into the plate in front of me. Once, I nearly fell out of a high-chair. I am known to take up the whole couch in someone’s house during parties. No one could sit down because of me. In college, I used to sleep in my car in between classes. I also sleep in my car on my lunch breaks. Sleeping is kind of my super power and I am quite proud of it. Anytime I feel especially anxious or overwhelmed, I take a power nap in the middle of the day or call it quits by 8pm. I wake up refreshed and ready to tackle whatever was ailing me before.
  • I write. Reflective writing is my form of therapy. Only recently did I realize that my anxiety is born from a perceived reality created in my mind. It helps to separate the facts from my interpretations. I realize that a lot of my overwhelm comes from the way I internalize things. When I feel like I cannot control a situation, I start to get that pitter patter in my chest. The good thing about writing is it forces me to sit down, and reassess my thoughts and emotions. It’s almost like mentally finding a way out of a situation. Writing works best when I jot down my thoughts by hand. Tactile tracing of letters is like drawing out a path from point A to point B. Either way, seeing the letters on paper and knowing that I put them there in a controlled manner is calming too.
  • I chug a glass of water. I get an illogical feeling of calmness after chugging water. I absolutely LOVE water! It just makes me feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and hydrated. I wonder if it’s akin to pets when they get stressed or anxious. They tend to pant a lot, and maybe humans have a version of that subconsciously happening. It’s not like I hyperventilate or something when I am anxious. But I do feel parched when I am overwhelmed. Stopping to drink a glass of water gives me pause as well as shows myself a bit of self-care. That, itself, is enough.
  • I get a good workout in. Recently, I have been turning to sweating out the stress. If it’s really bad, I will go for a run in our neighborhood. I know I’m really anxious when I start to do mini-sprints. For milder cases of overwhelm, I will do a forearm plank, or pick up some free-weights and start doing arm exercises. If I have the time, I will roll out the yoga mat and tune in to Yoga with Adriene. Oddly, working out calms me down. Plus, it preps me for a good nap (woo-hoo!).
  • I go outdoors. There are a few things that really work for me. First, simply getting in the sun helps a ton. If all I can do is lay out on our balcony and soak in some rays, I will do that. A better option is to couple the sun with a bit of water time. Getting in the pool to swim laps, or in the ocean to jump in some waves is great therapy for me. In the winter time, I would also use the jacuzzi a few times a week. And if the week is especially tiresome, I plan ahead for long hikes with my husband. 10 to 14 miles of hiking in the mountains does the trick! These days, I run a dog-sitting business and it has been the perfect antithesis to dentistry. Having dogs at my house forces me to go on walks early in the morning and after a long day of work. I never cheat the dogs. They will always get a 30 minute to one hour walk with me, but in reality, they are doing me the favor and improving my mental health! I am so grateful to be a dog-sitter and I think many people can benefit from this side-hustle. That’s why I wrote a mini-course to guide others who want to get into dog-sitting.
  • I schedule a hangout with a friend or family member. I have to admit that I usually try to do alone-things first, such as clear the schedule, write, sleep or work out. The reason is probably because I am a natural introvert. I also treat others the way I want to be treated and I would hate to be a burden to someone else. It would make me feel guilty to call someone up and just dump all my problems on their lap. But now I realize that hanging out with friends and family is a two way street. I can also listen to their suffering and perhaps together, we could uplift each other’s spirits through the commonality of our suffering. It’s a give and take. We can offload our stresses and then take on their stresses. While it may sound like this would add to the anxiety, the opposite is quite true. As we realize that others are also doing the best they can in life, we have more grace for ourselves and our perceived shortcomings. Hanging out with people reminds me that doing my best is enough.
  • I ask for help. On that last note, I have become better at asking for help. I used to hate doing that. I thought asking for help meant I wasn’t good enough. But I now know that asking for help means I am already doing my best. When I get overwhelmed, I reach out to people around me and delegate some of the tasks that I cannot handle.
    • I ask my husband to help with household chores.
    • I ask my assistants to do more of the prep work.
    • I ask my front-desk to block out the schedule.
    • I request a vacation from my boss.
    • I ask my siblings to help with my parents.
    • I ask my parents to help with the cat.
    • I ask myself to let things go.

Side note: The trick to efficiently asking for help is to be very specific about your needs. Instead of asking my husband to help with the household chores, I say, “Today, can you please do one load of laundry and clean the kitchen.” I tell my brother and sister, “For Mother’s Day, can you (brother) make the reservation and (sister) help pay for lunch.” Being specific helps others help me. At the same time, it helps me determine how important those tasks really are. Are they worth asking others to work on it? If they aren’t, then I simply delete those tasks from my to-do list and that’s a relief, too!

Photo by Patrick Schneider on Unsplash

Dear College Kid: Pursue Learning Over Your Passion

Dear College Kid is a series I write to my younger self. I would send them too, if I could somehow teleport myself via time machine to my late teens and early twenties. I hope other college kids find these letters, and garner some foresight that I myself had lacked. It’s not finance advice by any means, but rather, personal anecdote. Still. I hope it changes lives.

Dear College Kid,

Sometimes, pursuing your passion is bad advice. Not because you shouldn’t pursue them, but because it may be too soon to start. When you’re young, you won’t a clear sense of your passions just yet. Perhaps you have a good idea, but there are nuances that you can only realize from experience. Instead, you should pursue learning.

For example, I entered a field of dentistry that I told people was my passion. Turns out, it wasn’t quite honed in enough to what gives me joy. You see, I love taking care of people, working with my hands and interacting with patients. But I don’t love the stresses of dentistry. I don’t love seeing people in pain. I don’t enjoy feeling helpless when I can’t do anything to fix a situation. It feels awful to give my patients a quote for a treatment they can’t afford. It pains my perfectionist self to do sub-ideal work, but sometimes I have to because of financial constraints or time constraints on the patient’s end. As a people-pleaser, it hurts to have patient’s introduce themselves and then tell me they hate the dentist’s office. They scurry out of the dental chair and as much as I understand it, it doesn’t feel great.

Now, I see that my passions of taking care of people, working with my hands, and socializing would have been better in the hospitality field. Professions like baking and coffee are more aligned with my soft self. Creative spaces such as wedding venues, or crafts such as pottery would have been better suited to me. The painful parts of dentistry is an emotional and mental toll and it makes my job stressful. I’ve learned to create a dental space where I reduce the negative parts, but I can’t get rid of it altogether. That’s why I only work half of the week as a dentist. Because I only like half the aspects of the profession.

Here is advice I wish I received when I was in my 20’s. Instead of pursuing your passions, pursue learning, personal discipline and growth. Focus on improving yourself. That’s what I did in my late 20’s and early 30’s. I decluttered everything in my life first because I realized outside influences could have shaped what I thought I wanted. I read many self-improvement books (or books in general). You can view my reading list on GoodReads here. I built stellar habits and really stuck to them. For example, I write, read, and exercise every day. I reflected each night through gratitude journaling. I wrote down how to improve the next day, looked back on my struggles, and asked ‘Why?’ A LOT.

On top of that, I sought out connections with people across the planet. I traveled to 10 countries and 10 states. I talked to different people through my blog. It was a gift to share my story and listen to others. I spread myself across different professions.

For example, I took ceramics classes, did yoga, boxing, swimming, pilates, and weight-lifting, volunteered to help at a bakery and eventually opened my own, started dog-sitting, volunteered at a national barista championship, started helping with wholesale and learned about sales and accounting, and of course, I studied blogs. I learned about email marketing, SEO, and how to write courses. In all of these endeavors, I talked to people. I also probe my patients’ brains. Not only do I ask what they do for a living, but also how they like it or don’t like it, and how it’s applicable to dentistry. I make an effort to make one connection between each person that I meet and myself.

Let me tell you that it’s okay to support someone else’s dream for a while. Know that while you are doing so, you are building yourself. The relationships and knowledge that you earn is valuable too. It isn’t all about you. (Actually, making life about others is good advice in general. I would jot that one down.)

And honestly, I have seen time and time again, young people pursuing their passions too soon and burning out. I see them failing at their endeavor and entirely giving up. I see them get lost, because their path isn’t super clear. They aren’t intentional enough, and then they blame the rest of the world for their failures. But it takes work and time.

I promise you, one day, you’ll wake up, and there will be a very strong whispering in your ear saying, “This is it. This is your passion.”

Have patience with yourself until then.

The Ever-Growing List of Things I’ve Done to Get Out of Student Debt

I graduated from dental school at 26 years old with $575,000 of student debt. That fact alone was mind-blowing enough to land me a podcast interview on Choose FI back in 2018. I then became the first interview with Travis Hornsby on Student Loan Planner Podcast. Since then, I have partnered with Student Loan Planner and Student Loan Advice to help young grads tackle their debt. Because the shocking reality is that big debt exists for almost every new-grad out there. Which is why this blog was originally born. I wanted to share my path towards financial freedom in the hopes of helping others maneuver past their student loans. I really hope it has helped thus far. Today, I decided to write a round-up post on everything I have done to get out of student debt. I’m sorry it has taken this long.

But before we get to it, you might be interested in The Ever-Growing List of Ways to Earn Extra Income, The Ever Growing List of Things I’ve Given Up in the Name of Frugality, and The Ever-Growing List of Things I Have Given Up in the Name of Creating Less Waste. You may also want to read my interviews with other bloggers. The UnOrthoDoc shares how I am paying back my student debt in 7 years. I talk about the effects of our heritage on personal finance in an interview for the series Blood Debts. And Making Sense of Cents shared how I used side-hustles to catapult debt repayment.

The Ever-Growing List of Things I Have Done to Get Out of Student Debt

  • I worked three jobs during under-grad to support myself financially and to take as little debt as possible. This work ethic is what got me to start side-hustling my way to financial freedom. Check out these posts for ideas: 15 Early Morning Jobs To Jump-Start Your Day and 3 Early Morning Jobs I’ve Done to Earn Extra Money.
  • I chose a college that I could commute to for Undergrad. Even though I got into more prestigious schools, staying local was an intentional choice. I lived at home with my parents in order to save money on rent and food.
  • I finished Undergrad in 3 years. I was able to do this by taking more than 10 AP classes in high-school. These credited as college credits. My college classmates suggested I stay the fourth year to ‘get the full college experience’. I chose to graduate in three years so I could save on tuition and work full-time in my ‘fourth year’.
  • I moved in with my then-boyfriend, now-husband and two guy friends in order to save on rent during dental school. I lived near campus the first two years and was paying $1200 per month in rent. I asked to live with the boys in a city 30 minutes away to save money. My rent went down to $375 per month. After calculating in the gas, I ended up saving $600 per month the last two years of dental school. This equated to over $14,000!
  • I hired a financial planner who ended up saving my life. I spent my first paycheck to pay for his services. He listened to my needs and wants, and made a plan that worked for my goals. I owe all of my financial success to him. I always recommend interviewing a few options before choosing the planner that’s right for you. A few options are Travis Hornsby’s Team from the Student Loan Planner or Andrew Paulson’s team from Student Loan Advice backed by White Coat Investor.
  • We mastered our budget. I think budgeting is the most important life skill for financial well-being. It doesn’t matter how much you make, if you don’t know how to control spending. That’s why I wrote a Free Course on Mastering a Budget. We use You Need a Budget (YNAB) for our budgeting tool. It is my absolute favorite. I call YNAB our secret weapon. I recommend people create a budgeting tool that works for their needs. You can always try YNAB for free for 34 days.
  • I paid off all credit card debt within six months of graduating from dental school. If you have trouble paying off your credit card debts, you can always try The Credit Pros. They will help identify the most damaging and most helpful credit items, as well as provide advice and educational tools.
  • My husband and I got a roommate for the first five years of our marriage. Getting a roommate is the best way to save money on rent. In California, housing expenses are very high. By getting a roommate, we were able to save money to buy a home. Learn more about co-housing here.
  • We bought a home which gained equity. We then sold the home in 2021 to buy a better home. We took the equity and saved it for loan repayment. Find out How We Made Our Home Cash Flow Positive and How Home Ownership Sped Up My $575,000 Student Loan Repayment.
  • We travel-hack in order to see the world. One of our top life priorities is to travel. We spent the first five years of our marriage traveling to 10 countries and over 10 states. We did that without paying for air-fare. Learn how to TRAVEL FOR FREE in this post.
  • I worked midnight shifts as an early morning baker. It eventually led me to open my own bakery. When that shut-down in 2020, I became the wholesale director of the previous bakery. I had no experience as a baker, shop owner, or salesperson. But I ended up doing those things simply because I asked to learn.
  • I opened a dog-sitting business. I now earn over $1.5k a month taking care of other people’s pets. If you want to set up a dog-business, sign up below to receive my guide in your inbox. It walks you through the steps I took in order to set up my business and thrive within 6 months!
  • We placed all of our savings in a High Yield Savings Account with Marcus. A HYSA gives a higher interest rate than a savings account at a bank. When the pandemic caused a pause in student loan repayment, we held on to our money ‘in case of emergencies’ and stored it in a HYSA. It has grown with interest while the student loans are at 0% interest. It really catapulted our loan repayment journey forward! Sign up with my referral link to receive an additional 1.0% APY bump on the current listed APY for the first three months.
  • We invested money in I Bonds in order to beat inflation. On top of putting our savings in Marcus, we recently invested the maximum amount possible in I Bonds. Due to high inflation rates, I Bonds are currently at 9.6% APY until October 2022. This rate of return is unbeatable especially at a time when stocks are down. I really recommend I Bonds as a hedge against inflation. Learn more about it in this free email course.

  • I decluttered all my stuff and embraced minimalism in order to reduce spending. Here is a list of 100 things to declutter if you want to get started!
  • I try my best to resist the attention economy. I try to avoid a consumerist lifestyle. Instead, I engage in free activities that bring me joy and vitality.
  • I started this blog! I learned a lot about blogging and how to turn my writing hobby into a side-hustle. It all started with taking the course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. I learned how to make passive income through my writing. I really love this course and have taken it over and over again. It’s a one time fee for life-time access. It is the most life-changing course I have ever taken and definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to start a blog.
  • I’ve done everything on this list to save as much money as possible. All the money I saved, I put towards my student loans!
  • I’ve done everything on this list to make money. Saving only gets one so far, so making money is also key.
  • I invest in personal growth and learning. I read at least two books a month. There is variety in the topics I choose. I never assume I know everything about a topic. Plus I have embraced fiction as a way to learn more about the self. You can check out the recent books I have read on GoodReads.

Photo by Adam Bartoszewicz on Unsplash

Why I Switched My Email Marketing from ConvertKit to Flodesk

This summer, I switched my email platform for the blog from ConvertKit to Flodesk. I have been loving creating emails ever since! What once was a chore is now a fun activity for me. I look forward to creating pretty emails for my readers, without the stresses or hassle of complicated platforms. There are many pros to switching to Flodesk, and today I will share with you why I ultimately made the switch! I did it, and personally, I never want to go back.

But before we jump into email automation systems, perhaps you are just starting out your blog? Or you are considering whether blogging is for you? If that’s the case, check out these popular posts on my blog.

Flodesk Made Emails EASY

I am not a techy person and I did not get a degree in marketing. To be honest, when I started to create emails, I signed up for ConvertKit because it was recommended by another blogger. But I never got around to creating content. The ConvertKit platform was too technical for me. It was boring, designed mostly with code, and had complicated automation workflows that had me feeling lost. I spent a ton of time trying to figure it out, and never getting anywhere.

This year, I came across Flodesk. After being frustrated with my email experience, I decided to take a chance on Flodesk. I now love it! Flodesk took out the complicated stuff and made email creation easy. Pre-designed templates provide me with inspiring ideas. Customization is as easy as swapping out text and photographs. And making emails from scratch is also a breeze with the blocks that Flodesk provide.

Workflows Are Clear

Flodesk is a very visual platform. Workflows are clearly outlined by trigger labels. Each subscriber can be automatically assigned to an existing workflow. At the end of the series, they can then be subscribed to the next workflow. Automation is wonderful. All I have to do is select the number of days between each email drop. And on Flodesk, you can see the flow easily! In ConvertKit, I was always wondering where my subscribers were going and how to get them to the next email. Now I can focus on the CONTENT and send out beautiful emails without the headache of figuring out automation systems and workflows.

Flodesk is Cheaper

At the end of the day, Flodesk saved me money. To subscribe to Flodesk is only $39 a month (although it is $19 a month with my affiliate link here!) Unlike other platforms, Flodesk does not charge based on the number of subscribers you have. You can have an unlimited number of subscribers and still be charged the same fee. While ConvertKit is only $9 a month for a Creator Subscription, they charge $25 a month once you hit 1,000 subscribers. And the price only goes up from there.

Flodesk is a fairly new company, so of course, they are still growing and figuring a few kinks out. It is not as advanced as a more established platform such as ConvertKit, but to be honest, that’s what I like about it! It is simple and easy to use. Those with more experience may find Flodesk to be too elementary, and that’s totally okay! As always, I recommend choosing what works for you.

Personally, I have been enjoying using Flodesk, and I just wanted to share it with others who may be hoping to start a blog or an email list for their small business or company. I seriously think that Flodesk is the best email marketing platform for beginner bloggers who don’t know much about the technical side of marketing. You can always do a free trial to see how you like it.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I only share about companies that I truly believe in.

Photo by Corinne Kutz on Unsplash

5 Habits I Do Every Single Day To Grow

I’ve built a life structured around daily habits. Habits help remove the challenges that I would otherwise face to reach my goals. I like to imagine my goals as being on the other side of a wall. Habits are steps that I stack on top of each other, which eventually become tall enough to allow me to climb over that wall and get to the other side. I have multiple habits that I do every single day to reach my goals. One of my main goals, though, is progress. I want to continually grow, learn, and become my future self. Here are the top five habits I do every single day in order to grow.

5 Habits I Do Every Single Day to Grow

  1. I prioritize the top 2-3 tasks for that day. Every morning, I wake up and sit down with my planner and morning coffee. I write down specifically the top essential tasks that would catapult me forward the most. I used to write down a whole to-do list (to be honest, I still do) but I focus on the top few that would have the most impact on what I am trying to achieve. I like to tackle these tasks early in the day when I have the most energy. All other tasks get pushed back to make way for these things. The key is to be mindful about how many to choose. If I know I will have a busy day at work, I will only write down 2 things. It makes it way more doable!
  2. I write for 30 minutes, usually in the morning. Writing is important because it’s the way I organize my thoughts. I do my best thinking, reflecting, and organizing when I write. It is crucial for my personal growth and learning! Finding time to write used to be difficult for me, until I realized that I needed to create the time. I also have difficulty writing when there are distractions around. Even the drop of a needle can cause me to lose focus, which makes it complicated since my husband has been working from home these last two years. I finally realized that what worked for me is waking up insanely early, at the cat’s first meow. Typically, I force myself out of bed around 5:45am, before my husband gets up for work. The coffee helps! The real secret, though, is having a game plan for success. I make it easy on myself by prepping my coffee the night before. I charge my laptop and set it on the table. I go to sleep early. I give myself a time to wake up by (5:45am) and a place to be (at the dining table). I create a routine so my body just goes through the motions. I make it EASY for myself. I now dedicate 30 minutes every day to write.
  3. I read for 20 minutes. It shocked me to learn that most adults stop reading books after graduating from college. To this day, I still say that reading is my number one super-power. I not only learn from non-fiction, but I also understand people and the world better through fiction. I read self-help books, science books about health and the environment, life-style books about slow-living, autobiographies of famous people, you name it. I never miss my reading. I challenge myself to read at least 24 books a year, but end up reading around 30 books a year.
  4. I initiate a positive interaction with someone. I have a tendency to focus inward on myself and my goals. Even though I consider myself a giving person, I sometimes find that I have blinders on. When I am focused, I ignore what’s around me. In the past, I have even ignored my own health and body! As I got older, I realized the importance of focusing outward, keeping relationships, and helping others before myself. Every day, I initiate a positive interaction with someone, via text, email, phone call or in person. If it weren’t for the people around me, I would never have gotten to where I am today. I recognize that investing outwards is an important way of investing in myself.
  5. I reflect on what went well today and what can improve tomorrow. I gratitude journal by writing down three things that went well that day. Then I think about what I struggled with and why. I can either choose to improve tomorrow on what I struggled on, or to improve further on something that went well. It is not the experiences that make us wiser, but the take-away we get from our experiences. Therefore, reflections is a key part to growth!

Of course, the key to creating good habits is setting yourself up for them. I like to choose a planner or journal that would trigger my good habits. One of my favorites is Monk Manual. This planner really outlines an intentional lifestyle. I highly recommend it! And if you liked this post, you may want to check out what I do to become 1% better every day. I have multiple goals and personal growth is just one of them.