This post is written in collaboration with Nisolo. It contains affiliate links from which TheDebtist may receive a commission. Thank you for supporting companies who support this blog.
When it comes to holiday shopping, I favor stopping at ethical marketplaces over shopping malls. I first met Nisolo at an ethical marketplace in LA, and I am proud to say that they have since then created a place of their own, and virtually no less! Curated with goods from other companies that I support, including local PFCandleCo and KrochetKids, this marketplace is a perfect one-stop shop for people looking to spend their money intentionally.
It is important to be mindful of the companies we support. The way we spend our dollars is a vote towards the future we want to see. Our consumption will shape the way industries proceed in the future. And while it would be wrong to place all the weight on our shoulders (the companies themselves must be willing to put in the work), we are not completely helpless in steering tomorrow.
There is a saying that if you pull someone’s cuticle, the whole body will move.
In the same way, small actions can create larger impact.
Of course, I understand that ethical and sustainable shopping may not always be accessible to frugalists such as myself. As a way to promote their ethical marketplace, and Nisolo themselves, we are hosting a BOGO offer (that’s right, Buy One, Get One FREE) on select Nisolo styles and ethical market products. Enter code GoodTidings at checkout and receive an item of equal or lesser value from the approved list for free.
Below, a couple of gift pairings to serve as ideas.
For the casual type, this practical olive green James oxford, and a matching canvas tote.
There are times when I think about what people will think once this loan repayment journey is over. The most likely truth is that most of my journey will be forgotten. All of the middle ground where the suffering happened will be overshadowed by the end result. The happy ending will supersede all. As humans, it is natural to only remember the beginning and the end as we take away the life lesson but forget the mundane events of the everyday.
It makes me sad to think that they’ll look at what we’ve done in paying back $575k in student debt and immediately assume that the going was easy.
Explanations will arise, however inaccurate, that dismiss the difficulty of the task, as people say things such as, “Well, she was a dentist and made a lot of money. Of course it was doable.”
Excuses from colleagues about why it wouldn’t work for them will also ensue. “She had a husband who also made decent income”, “She was fortunate enough to have a bakery that took off”, and “She had her writing to help support such a hefty loan repayment.”
It makes me sad because if that were the case, if everyone forgot the effort, then this would be for naught. People will continue to believe that paying back debt is an unreachable goal. People will still avoid pursuing financial freedom, viewing it as attainable only to those who have luck on their side, or to those who have more than.
But none of that is true.
They say that it would be difficult to pay back debt if it is more than twice your income. Well, mine was almost quadruplemy income. But I still pushed myself to do it.
I want people to know that my success will not be a result of me making TONS of money relative to my loans.
It will be because of penny-pinching habits, mindfulness, diligence, and hard work.
I want people to know that any success I have will not be because of sheer luck.
It will be because of a constant refining of the self, a vigilant search for the essentials, and a questioning of the status quo.
I hope people remember that it wasn’t easy. I have days I never speak of, spent curled up in a ball on the floor, my hand in fists, my eyes flooding with tears. There were moments full of self-doubt around both my abilities and my choices. Days when I felt lonely because I worked so much. Days my back hurt from doing dentistry and my shoulders hurt lifting cast iron lodge pans. I have burn marks on my arms and bags under my eyes. It isn’t easy, but it’s a meaningful life, and I want people to remember that.
Maybe then, it would help push them through the tough times when they are most ready to quit.
I was ready to quit, too. Hundreds of times.
This story will never be told as widespread as other stories, because it is not an overnight success. The tabloids, the news, the audience … none of them want to hear about mundane action. But it is mundane action that will make ordinary people do extraordinary things. It’s a shame because, well, the non-telling of my story will mean that Regular Joe’s will never reach their potential to be super-heroes. Students will continue to carry debt. Society will continue on with their life-cycle.
But if my story gets shared once or twice, I have hope that it saves a handful of people.
The younger a person hears a story about personal finance, the easier it is to reach financial freedom. In much the same way, the sooner a person with student debt is convinced of their ability to pay it back, the more money they save. Every day that they wait to refinance is a day wasted and a few dollars lost in interest. Every day a person debates about whether they can dig out of debt, they dig themselves a bigger ditch.
I write to empower people in small ways, which over time lead to big results. After two years of writing this post, I stilldo not believe in the word negligible.
A water carves its way into solid rock, and over-time, forms the rock into an easier pathway.
This is how I want to transform people.
I am no SuperWoman.
I am so very ordinary.
If there is one thing people remember about me and my story, I hope it is that.
It was around this time last year that I got serious about turning this blog from something entirely personal to something more helpful to the general public. I would say that it was this exact weekend that I implemented a number of changes and additions that eventually led me to publishing TWO courses this past year (How to Create a Budgeting Tool That Works and Mastering a Budget). While there are other cyber Monday deals out there that you can spend your hard-earned dollars on, here are a few that actually gives back in terms of profit, making it more like an investment rather than a purchase.
Teachable – the platform I used to create both my online courses
If there’s anything I know, it is that you have valuable skills, experiences, and expertise in something. Every one of us, including you, has something to share with the world — something that others would love to learn.
And while creating an online course is one of the fastest ways to leverage on your time and increase your earning ceiling — it’s also one of the best ways to help more people.
When you create an online course, you’re able to change your student’s lives.
So my question for you is: who’s going to be grateful for you this year when you create your course and share your knowledge with the world?
Yes, you can earn a side-income from your course. Maybe even a full-time income from your course eventually. But there are so many other benefits to creating your course and sharing what you know with the world.
A surprising number of people have found that having their own online course becomes an amazing creative outlet. You get to share your passions and knowledge with the world!
And best of all, you get to do it on your own terms. You get to be your own boss, and you can pursue your biggest, craziest ideas without anyone saying that you can’t. When was the last time you had that kind of creative freedom? On top of that, you’ll find it’s a real joy to interact with your students.
Whether you have a course on parenting, or building a vegetable garden…watercolor painting…or even playing the guitar… (yes, these are all real courses on Teachable).
You’ll find yourself losing track of time. You’ll be fully immersed in the course creation process, and you’ll get to talk all about a subject you love. (With people who love to listen!)
You don’t need to be a big recognized expert to make a big impact on the world.
We’ve seen it time after time. Newbie course creators will start off filled with self doubt, but then they take the plunge and share something.
They have zero expectations at first. But all of a sudden, one person enrolls…then ten more…and eventually hundreds, or even thousands. These course creators are thrilled beyond belief. They never thought “lil’ old them” could be in demand like that.
The bottom line is this: You have hidden talents that the world needs you to share.
You deserve to feel great about doing work you love.
You can be the one who helps other people reach their goals.
Not only do you have a chance to get annual access to Teachable for just $299 (saving $169), but in a couple of months, when you put in the effort, you’ll be able to ask yourself, “Who’s grateful for me?” And there will be a whole bunch of students excited to raise their hands. (And hey, you can be earning a pretty nice side-income as well.)
So if the idea of creating an online course excites you—if you’ve even thought about it for a second—you gotta check this deal out.
ConvertKit –the platform I use to build an email following
It helps to have an email following. Subscribers are people who have a genuine interest in hearing what you have to say. They are a great group of people to connect to and if you are hoping to teach a particular topic to an audience, there is no better collection than your squad of subscribers.
My followers are amazing, supportive, interactive, and optimistic. They ask a lot of questions about budgeting, paying down student debt, and living a simple lifestyle. It is very gratifying to be able to help this community, and it is because of them that I continue to write.
Having an email following is also useful if you want to reach out to people en masse, or if you have something to share with like-minded folks. Convert Kit has an easy way of organizing people by category, so that those interested in simple living will not get emails about budgeting.
I would highly recommend Convert Kit to any online writer who wants to build a community.
There is a 30 day free trial for Convert Kit for those who are unsure about Convert Kit, but one thing is definite: do not wait to create an email following! It is something that I wish I did early on. It has brought me closer to my readers and has made my writing more meaningful, both to me and others.
After a year of trying it out, I have finally switched from a month-to-month subscription to an annual subscription today, thus saving me $86.
PicMonkey – the site I use to create banners for the blog and Pinterest
PicMonkey is an easy-to-use website for creatives using visual aids to accompany their work. It is especially useful for Pinterest if you want visually captivating banners. Most people who go to Pinterest are in search of something in particular. The ability to catch their attention and redirect them to what they are searching for is key.
Many bloggers underestimate Pinterest as a social media platform, but it is actually the most useful platform to bloggers. Imagery makes it easy to catch the attention of users who are searching for something, and the linking can redirect them to a specific blog post or page.
Off course, PicMonkey has other uses. I specifically use it to create banners for my website, or to create imagery that promotes my courses.
I will even use PicMonkey for personal things, such as invitations to parties or holiday cards. It’s as easy as Paint, but with more functions.
You can try PicMonkey for FREE for 7 days, and then decide if it’s useful to you.
Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing – the course I took that taught me how to monetize a blog
All subscribers and followers will receive a discount code in their inbox tomorrow that will give them 75% OFF of the course. This is my way of saying Thank You to all my followers. I couldn’t be here without you.
Also, I would like to open the conversation up to those who wish to see something different or new in 2020. Reach out to me below, or just say “Hi!”
I once wrote about the blackest of Fridays in dreary fashion, and reminisced on Black Fridays past, moments I could not take back. I wanted to write, this year, of bright Fridays ahead, away from all the frenzy. For the past three years, Black Fridays have been spent at dental offices helping Turkey-eating-sufferers and kids who are taking a break from school. But if it wasn’t spent here, I have many images of what it would be like.
Waking up late in a wooden cabin, sitting fireside with a cup of tea, for there would be no need for coffee. A book by the side table, ignored for now, to allow thoughts to passively wander in one ear and out the other. An occasional getting up for a bar of chocolate, but invited back into the loveseat by a cozy tabby. Wireless, eventless, motionless, all things timeless. Stockinged feet, and blanketed messes. We’ll let the candle burn out, let the windows frost, let the soup simmer a little too long. It snowed on the Grapevine only a few days ago, so is it too much to imagine snow?
Can we call them White Fridays?
I know this doesn’t send shivers down everyone’s spine. Most people will not be excited by nothing-ness. Some may even be itching to get to the end of this post to hear the deals. For those who are, I suppose there is value for this day. It gives us the opportunity to shop small, support local, and consume ethically. On this day, I’d like to support those small business owners who support this blog throughout the year. In the name of gratitude, here’s to you.
A guide to shopping slow, small, and sustainably this Black Friday.
This post is sponsored by Artifact Uprising, a paper company celebrating memories for paper people.
When it comes to gift receiving, I err on the side of sentimental, favoring things such as freshly baked goods and home-made candles over easily store-bought trinkets. The more effort to make or find an item, the more value I place on it. This, of course, is my own bias, one that requires a bit more patience and generosity from those who are kind enough to tolerate my tendencies.
For those who have like-minded acquaintances but who wish to ease the holiday gift shopping, might I suggest a material gift worth buying that is equal in thoughtfulness?
These Artifact Uprising books are my most cherished books. Despite the dust that hovers over the cover from infrequent use, they are books that consistently bring a smile to my face when opened. Their ephemeral practicality is offset by their long-lasting insinuation of good vibes only. Apart from these books, I keep a small handful of physical photos that reside in a wooden box, most of which were, too, taken from the night we wed. These books are a collection of snapshot moments from that happy time.
In it lies all the hope of a future ahead, roads unpaved and in our control, challenges accepted which we did not yet know, triumph from overcoming hurdles which taught us we can and trust in what forever is supposed to bring.
Custom photo books from Artifact Uprising are nothing short of gorgeous. Their layflat album is made from premium linen and comes in 12 color options and 5 album sizes. The wedding variety includes foil stamped text, preset or of your own design, in either gold, copper, silver, or white. There is an option to include a protective wooden box to house your book and keep it safe. It’s similar to my own wooden box that keeps my prints and memory sticks.
Multiple book options are available as well. I personally chose a simple hardcover book with a sleeve depicting my most favorite photo. I like the simplicity of uploading and re-arranging that digital scrap-booking has to offer these days. Less fuss, for an equally fine finished product. The books are just as beautiful with or without the cover.
However, if you prefer a more creative or tangible collection of memories, there is a scrapbook that you can physically put together, old-school style. The book comes as a binder, which makes the addition and removal of pages simple. There are envelopes for those who are inclined to pick up sea shells or fallen leaves as commemoration of stolen moments in time. Each scrapbook comes with a credit of up to ten free prints, as well as pen, note cards, picture corners, and adhesive. The option to provide the supplies makes it easy to gift to those acquaintances with whom you share very little or no photos, or who you know have a particular way of doing things … thinking only of myself here. I never said I was easy to love.
All Artifact Uprising products are made with utmost consideration for our environment. They use Mohawk Options Paper which contains 100% post-consumer fiber. All of the electricity used to manufacture the paper is matched with renewable wind generated electricity.
“Occasionally you’ll find a storied spec of this paper’s past from the recycled fiber within—we see these as beauty marks of a better choice for the environment.”
For their wooden products, they use reclaimed wood from already fallen pine rather than source from completely healthy trees. 250,000 feet of fallen pine has been reclaimed from the Rocky Mountain forests as AU works to harness wasted resources into products that accompany life’s best experiences.
Photo books aside, if you are looking for other sentimental holiday gift ideas, here are a few.
If you are gifting Artifact Uprising for the holidays, products must be ordered by December 15 with USPS shipping in order to arrive in time for December 24. Orders placed between December 16 and December 22 will need to be shipped using FedEx shipping for arrival by December 24.
This post is sponsored by Artifact Uprising, a paper company celebrating memories for paper people. TheDebtist may receive a small commission on the goods purchased from this post’s affiliate links. My utmost thanks for supporting brands that support this blog.
This post is in partnership with East Fork Pottery, a company slinging hand-thrown, timeless pottery in Oregon using regionally-sourced stoneware clay. Their beautiful food-safe glazes are made in house and lend their pieces character, but in an unfussy and classic manner. The collection is, truly, a treasure trove.
It’s been a bit quiet here for the past week, which should be indicative of the fact that I’ve been restless in real life, struggling with a personal decision that’s difficult to make. Usually that’s how it is. Cyber silence equates to a madness that requires its own space and time. But I wanted to put thought to digital paper for a moment, as an observance of this period of growth.
Last week, I was presented with an alternative job opportunity that, when on paper, holds better weight than my current position. However, there are some non-practical reasons why I want to keep my current position. Ultimately, it came down to production limited by the number of days, or production limited by fees. I had to consider adding a 1.5 hr round-trip daily commute to my currently non-existent one in exchange for much easier work. I had to decide whether having newer and better materials that made my job easier was more important than sweeter and easier patients who made my job easier. I was pulled between something new and something familiar. It was a week full of angst, emotion, and pressure to make a decision. I sat by the window sill staring into space, deep in thought, reflection, and sometimes just straight up brooding. Tears were involved.
If I took the easier job that is farther away which has more difficult patients but newer materials, I would only work 2.5-3 days a week, and still make the same amount of production at 4 days a week. But when you add the hours of commute and subtract the amount of money spent on gas, those 3 days really equate to 3.6 days, and is that difference worth it. The physical work will be easier due to newer materials, but demanding patients increase the mental and emotional energy required to work. The gratitude will be centered around the ease of work, rather than meaningful work. Both cups are half-full. Which would you choose?
The paradox of choice is real. Both options are starkly different, but both are also good. My husband pointed out that I couldn’t go wrong either way. It’s a fantastic position to be in. But the fear of choosing wrong is what cripples. If the opportunity didn’t present itself, it wouldn’t be hard for me to continue what I was doing. There would be a distant nagging of the things I could improve if the practice were my own, but I wouldn’t be restless like I am now. When there is an alternative, it is much harder to ignore what could be.
Equally crippling is the feeling that a choice needs to be made. If I am going to leave the first office, it would be best to tell them as soon as possible. Meanwhile, the office of opportunity is waiting on the sideline, seeing if I would take their job offer. I think it’s hard to be in-between. The pressure prevents any real growth.
In my life, I‘ve tried to reduce choice in order to increase bliss. In general, it has worked very well. While I don’t like choicelessness, I like having reduced options. But I know making choices is the hard part of growth. So choices need to be made.
I have an evasive tactic that I turn to when faced with difficult decisions. I just pick one -the one that intuitively seems most appealing – and then I move on with my life. I do that because I know I can always pivot. I do that because I know that there are worse things to choose from, and that outcomes in general are not bad in the grand scheme of things. But I also know that I do it to alleviate the guilt, stress, and responsibility of that choice. I am only ever choosing one real thing – to run a way from my own discomfort.
This has led me to even deeper consideration for things beyond the job itself. The job, it’s just a stage in my life. In the end, neither choice is perfect, but neither is also wrong. Both are transient, not one being the end point. But I’ve thought about my tendency to run when things get difficult. My wish to reduce, in order to ease. My need to asphyxiate in hopes of control. My obsession with doing, instead of just being.
I can say I’ve been much better the past two years. Slow living has been a great mentor in that. But this is one of those moments where I need to tell myself, “Wait“. Instead of searching for clarity, wait for the fog of emotions to roll out and clear. Instead of wishing to tell people about it, wait for them to ask you of your thoughts. Instead of trying to get every answer imaginable, wait for that inner knowing to surface from within. Stay to see what happens, instead of going to see where the river runs.
“Do not fast-forward into something you are not ready for, or allow yourself to shrink back into what’s comfortable. Growth lives in the uneasiness. The in-between. The unfinished sentence. You are a season of becoming.”
Becoming is a hard thing. But it’s also necessary. So much of the time, we do, and therefore we are. But we never just “be”. How do we ever expect to become?
The espresso cups in soapstone are perfect for tiny hands, mid-afternoon espresso shots, as well as after dinner green tea. For the bold, sake shots and other libations fit well within this tiny vessel. We are very much in love with this cups and can only speak highly of the quality and the beauty of these products. They are not placed in cabinets with the other dinnerware but are on display on open shelving. Today only, East Fork will be having a Seconds Sale. A discount of 30% will be applied to a handful of clay goods that did not quite make the cut. Although with slight blemishes, these pieces are still functional and beautiful. I urge people who have been hankering for dinnerware to consider salvaging these pieces and including them in your home. I appreciate East Fork for their zero waste attempt. Seconds sale begins at 12pm EST, and pieces will go fast (or so I hope). This post contains affiliate links and TheDebtist may receive a commission if you so choose to purchase.
I am starting a series called My Favorite Things, to showcase a few things a week that have brought joy. And while it focuses on things (sometimes), I hope that the posts translate to how joy can come from a handful of objects, and that fewer is, truly, better. It is also valuable to me that not all things are my own, neither are they all new. Lastly, not all things are physical, such as good mid-day lighting, or the first frosty morning. While it was originally created as a personal project aimed at de-cluttering my camera, always devoid of memory, it is also meant to be a weekly public reflection of my most gratifying moments. Without further adieu, here are this week’s favorites.