Monthly Archives: September 2012

For the Love of the Game

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I am going to start this post out by making myself perfectly clear: I love football. There’s just something about watching it on a crisp, autumn day, with the windows open just a crack in the family room, enough to let the sound of rustling leaves and the smell of the cool yet comfortable breeze drift through the opening. And fantasy football has made it all the more entertaining. Not only do I watch Steelers game religiously every week to see how my beloved team fares against its rivals, but I pay close attention to other games that leave my week’s stats hanging in the balance. But I have to say, all of this interim referee bashing and NFL-hating slander has ruined the experience for me this season.

Now before anyone starts pointing a finger, I’m not a Green Bay Packers hater. I’m sure some of you jumped directly to that conclusion, especially after the team beat the Steelers in the 2011 Superbowl. I have respect for the green and gold ( I mean hey, I watched Donald Driver on Dancing with the Stars– who wouldn’t?!) No but seriously, it’s not about that. And it’s defintiely not about being a Seahawks lover. Seattle is one of those teams I always feel bad for, because I don’t feel like it has any fans. But that’s about as far as my empathy goes.

So why am I exceptionally riled up and less than thrilled about all of this referee nonsense? Let’s see… there’s a presidential election coming up in a little more than 30 days, one that will stand to change all of our lives in one aspect or another, there are people dying for our country each and every day, the nation’s debt is at an all-time high, and people just can’t seem to keep up with their bills. Must I go on?

I can’t tell you how frustrated I was when I woke up Tuesday morning and was bombarded with Facebook status updates, news headlines, and tweets, 95 percent of which were originated to relay their utmost disgust and disappointment with what is now being badged as one of the worst calls in professional sports history. Maybe it’s just me, but I think our priorities are a bit skewed.

To be honest, this all started for me Sunday evening, prior to the “call heard around the world” even happening. I just arrived at the Financial Peace Unviersity class I’m helping to coordinate, and I ran into a woman I know. I hadn’t seen in her quite sometime, so we got chatting about the class and how I was so excited to see her there. She proceeded to introduce me to her husband, who stared blankly at me and looked extremely irritated. It was wildly obvious that he did not want to be there. The woman then went on to tell me that she and her husband didn’t know the class was nine weeks, and was freaking out because it’s at 7 p.m. on Sunday nights during football season. At that point, I had to graciously walk away and distract myself by starting another conversation with the couple behind them.

So let’s recap… yes, of course I’m glad they’re in the class and  they’ve made the commitment to be there each week, albeit extremely heartwrenching for the husband (cry me a river.) But how is this the way priorities are set? How is it that your bank account and your retirement future can be in dire straits, but you’re fine with sitting and watching football to your heart’s content on a flat screen that was probably not in your budget and put on credit?

If I’m describing you, I don’t want you to think I don’t like you, or that I’m mad at you, I’m just trying to put things into perspective. Let’s reevalute and readjust today. Forget the flat screen– five or ten years down the road you can buy season tickets for your favorite team and even travel around the country for the away games! Who needs instant replay when you’re in the stands, watching plays like the one Monday night, right before your eyes?

-Ambitioussoul

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Change of Seasons, Change of Heart

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The building may be pretty, but think about the bill!

I just received the dreaded phone call from my sister who started her first year of college only a month ago. When I saw her call come in and hit “accept,” I could sense the unsureness and panic in her voice. She didn’t waste any time telling me what was bothering her. The statement “I think I want to change my major” was hurriedly followed by the reasons why she wasn’t being fulfilled in her classes and how she came to this conclusion.

For all of us who have been through college, these times of “finding ourselves” seem so far off in the distant past that we probably read this and shrug it off, thinking it’s not that big of a deal. After all, how many of us even have jobs or careers in what we studied in college? I know I don’t. But before I spewed out my advice, I tried to not only think about the thoughts that were most likely swirling through my sister’s brain, but also about what I went through as a college student, the mistakes I made, and how to have her avoid them.

Do I think where you go to school means everything? No. After all, I went to a small, rural school for two years and transferred to a large university almost quadruple the first one’s size. It wasn’t because of the dorm rooms with their own private bathrooms, or the fact that they had my favorite cereal (Cinnamon Toast Crunch if any of you are taking notes), or even that the people wore UGG boots and carried Herve Chapelier bags.  It was hard to explain then, and it’s just as hard now. It just wasn’t… “it” for me. Little did I know, it was because the college didn’t fit over my hips! Say what?!

To me, college is like buying  a wedding dress. You know, the second you begin to slip it on, you start to tear up and say to yourself, “This is it… this is the one.” When you step onto the college campus you belong at, you suddenly feel at home. You have no reservations, no worries, no stress. It’s a pretty incredible feeling. And once you’ve found the perfect college ambiance, all your problems seem to fall to the wayside, right?

WRONG! What about your course selection? What about your college loans? What about the community that surrounds the campus? Back to my wedding dress analogy, it’s not just about satin versus chiffon, or tulle versus lace. There are so many other things to think about above and beyond the beautiful budding tulips peppering each and every green space and the large greystone buildings that tower over you at every turn. But this is what college has been marketed as; this is what all-knowing 18-year-olds look for (can you sense my sarcasm?)

It’s sad to say, but in my mind, this economy and the price gauging colleges and universities get away with year after year has led people to treat choosing a college like a business decision. What education can I buy for the least amount of money and risk? I know, this doesn’t make the decision sound sexy or even fun, but it’s the truth! It shouldn’t be about where you want to go, but what you can afford. Why try on a $10,000 dress when you can only afford one for $3,000?

So many people believe that where you go to school has something to do with your success. I would say yes in only about 3 % of cases. Why? Because the Division I football team’s success or the new off-campus housing the school built have nothing to do with your capabilities and skills once you enter the job market. It’s the practical experience you gain via internships and part-time positions that differentiate you from the other 50 million college students graduating at the same time as you (okay, that may be an extreme exaggeration.)

And I digress… the second variable should be what you’d like to study. In my sister’s case, she knew what she was interested in (as many post-high schoolers do,) but she wasn’t exactly sure how to classify it. As shown in my intiial story, she’s realizing she missed the mark and needs to go back to the drawing board, but better now than three years down the road with unrecoverable time, money, and effort invested. But let’s be honest– there’s alot of wiggle room when it comes to majors in college. Look at me: I was a broadcast journalism major, and I’m in marketing. Relateable? Not really. But I’m doing it. If I would have gone to my advisor 3/4 of the way through my college education and shared my thoughts on switching gears, she would have talked me into changing my major and spending another three years in college to the tune of $45K per year. No thanks…

I give my sister alot of credit. Between going to a state school solely because of cost and following her heart, knowing quickly she had chosen the wrong path, I know she’s headed in the right direction. Although she’s not at her “dream school,” in her “dream city,” she’s making it work… in her real life.

-Ambitioussoul

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Everyone Needs a Special Day

Who would pay thousands of dollars for this dog? This girl.

September 16 is only eight days away! I have been counting down the days until next Sunday for the past several weeks. No, it’s not my birthday, or my anniversary, or the start of an exotic vacation. But because of my genuine and unstoppable excitement, I’ve done everything short of create a paper chain to symbolize the arrival of this special day. I know, I know, the suspense is killing you. So what IS September 16?

Well my friends, September 16 marks the day that I will embark on a journey, along with 20 or so strangers, to change their financial mindsets, practicalities, and futures. Yes, that’s right, I will be leading one of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University classes, showing them what it’s like to live like no one else, so later they can live like no one else (I just HAD to insert Dave’s famous tagline in here somewhere.)

As if you couldn’t tell by now, I’m ECSTATIC about this opportunity. But as I sat in my family room, leafing through the pages of the course book, I began to get anxious. I started to remember how I felt when I sat in those same seats. Hopeful, nervous, guilty, and most of all embarrassed. I’m sure these emotions, along with dozens of others, will flood the classroom each and every week. Of course as the class progresses, each week people will get more and more comfortable talking about their own personal anecdotes; their past financial mistakes, their current budgeting plan, their future investing goals. And I in turn am expected to share all of the same details. Two years ago, I would have been like a seagull, burying my head in the sand. Today, I’m that same seagull, only soaring above the ocean, feeling more free than ever before.

I’ve learned to not be ashamed of the rabid spending habits that haunt my past. Sure I get a little red in the face when I tell people I bought a $2,300 dog and charged it on the way to the gym (and yes, that’s a true story– she was on sale!,) but I remind myself that I should be proud of the fact that I can now laugh at that story, instead of pretending like it never happened. Whether financial mistakes come in the form of a $100 pair of Nike sneakers or a $40,000 Mercedes CLK, we all need to remember these lapses in judgement are how we learn and grow. It’s just like when reminiscing about a regrettable night of heavy drinking or a relationship that had gone stale weeks, months or even years before you actually ended it.

The hard truth is we can’t change the past. It’s over. It’s done. It’s gone. Thank God. So look ahead. Straight ahead. And when you happen upon an awakening in your personal, professional, or financial life, celebrate it. Mark it on the calendar. Pop a bottle of champagne. And quickly reflect, only to recognize and appreciate you’ve changed your mindset and are NEVER willing to go back to being simply content, or in my case, simply broke.

-Ambitioussoul

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