My name is Kate, and I use credit cards. It feels great to get that off my chest. In all seriousness, I didn’t think much about “personal finance” for most of my 20’s. I grew up with the mindset that everyone had debt, and as long as it was “manageable,” there was no harm in spending outside of your means. I was very fortunate to land a decent job right out of college, and I received several promotions over the years that gave me a great salary. But as my salary increased so did my spending habits. I went on the most wonderful trip to Europe, lived in expensive apartments, and my idea of a budget meant not going into the red in my bank account – seriously. The goal was to stay positive even if it meant I had $20 to my name the day before payday. I didn’t think too much about saving – I contributed to my 401K and thought that was enough.

In June of 2016, I bought my first townhouse. I was so proud of my accomplishment but didn’t put much thought into things like down payments or monthly mortgage costs or HOA fees. The minute we moved in, I filled all three levels with furniture using, you guessed it, credit cards. It wasn’t until July of 2017, when my fiancĂ© asked me to marry him, that I knew enough was enough. We are currently planning our dream wedding and paying for that wedding mostly on our own (my parents paid for the majority of my college expenses and basically anything I ever needed for 22+years – they have done enough.). So now we’re faced with the dilemma of paying off debt AND saving for a wedding. Not the most ideal of situations.

We’ve still got a long way to go, but I’ve made little changes to help us manage our expenses better. First off, I created a real budget and debt chart. I also created a list of everything under the sun that we will need to buy for the wedding. The list is a tad overwhelming, but also helps me to manage it all in my head so I know exactly what needs to be purchased before August 10th. I stopped using my credit cards for things like groceries and other miscellaneous items – if we can’t pay for it in cash, we don’t buy it (I miss you, Target. And steak.). Our current goal is to not increase our debt, pay the minimums and put any extra money towards the wedding so that we can pay for things like invitations and the DJ in cash. I’m a part time realtor, so I work every weeknight and weekend attempting to grow my business. I’m also a freelance writer, and I wake up in the early hours of the morning every day to write (this post was started at 5:45am on a Saturday).

Here’s the thing, “Dreams don’t work unless you do.” This quote by John C Maxwell has been repeating over and over in my head daily for about 7 months now. I work just about every day of the week in some capacity, and I know I’m not alone. So many of us are out there putting in our time hoping for the payoff to come our way. And it will. So keep on trekking towards that goal, that dream you have, and I’ll do the same, and let’s give each other some help and encouragement along the way. We’ve got this!