MONEY TALK: OUR FINANCIAL HISTORY

MONEY TALK: OUR FINANCIAL HISTORY - This Wild Home

I’ve wanted to do some kind of money talk on here for a while. I’ve said a few things here and there, but I want to get specific. I feel like it’s important to talk about money. Things that work, things that don’t, and what realistic expectations really look like.

There’s a lot of people who wait and talk about money when they’ve found the opportunity to actually change their financial situation and well, I’m one of them. I haven’t felt like I have a voice on financial responsibility and stability until recently because I really haven’t been extremely financially responsible until now.

Before I dive into our future and plans for our finances, I wanted to share a bit of our history. Our mindsets and general incomes throughout the last four years. I want to be able to relate back to our history when looking at our future because it’s important to remember what it’s like to live with less. It’s really important to remember that we made it through the tough times with food on our plates and a roof over our head to keep things in perspective as we move forward.

So I’ll start with the first year of our relationship and go from there.

OUR FINANCES THROUGH THE YEARS

YEAR ONE

The first year, we were doing pretty good actually. We just had no idea how to manage it. We were making over 30K a year, but we didn’t quite get our taxes figured out so we wound up owing a good amount at the end of the year.

Ian had a job at a church as the sound engineer while I worked at a coffee shop. We lived in an apartment well outside of our means because we hadn’t learned budgeting yet. We were living paycheck to paycheck, though I can guarantee that we didn’t need to.

We went into our relationship with about 40K in debt. Student loans, of course. Maybe a couple hundred here and there in credit card debt, but mostly student loans. It’s been our biggest struggle. Initially we deferred them again and again. We’ve put them off as much as possible cause guys, the monthly payments are almost enough to pay rent. And until recently, we honestly haven’t been able to afford the minimums on top of everything else people have to pay for in a month.

YEAR TWO + THREE

These two years were fairly similar to each other. We wound up getting new jobs. Mine have always been in the service industry. Mostly coffee, sometimes tacos. Ian has jumped around looking for a job that he could turn into a career. Starting with sound engineering, moving to the more industrial install aspects of the AV industry, and then to delivering food. (You’d be surprised that this is the one he’s turned into a career! You really never know what’s out there until you look.) So for these two years, we really weren’t making much at all.

We moved twice which we paid for with credit because we have (yes still have) no real savings, bringing our debt up a couple thousand. We continued living paycheck to paycheck, and while our less than 30K income warranted that, I still believe we could’ve found a way to have an extra $50-$100 a month, which in reality is not that much but could’ve made a real difference.

These two years especially were tough. We were both working opposite schedules. Year two, Ian had a job where he was over worked and under paid which left both of us emotionally exhausted. It’s true that people who say “money can’t buy happiness” already have money. Financial stability is a key pillar in a healthy marriage, and we’ve learned that first hand.

As the years have gone on, our loans came out of deferral one by one, each time putting more strain on our finances and relationship. I still to this day don’t know how we made it every month. We learned our lesson from the first year and have since made the choice to live in places we can truly afford, which definitely helped. We’ve very slowly implemented more meals at home into our routine which has also helped. But still, I have no idea how we made it those last 2 years.

YEAR FOUR

This was our turning point. This is when we started figuring stuff out. I think having a baby helped. Having to be responsible for someone besides ourselves definitely made us put our heads on straight and fight to find a way to grow.

That’s probably been our biggest fear all along: an inability to grow financially. Neither of us have degrees (though we did try, hence the student debt), but we’ve been doing our best to set ourselves up for some kind of growth. We’ve moved locations at least once a year since getting together (which has been a big part of our debt rising about 10k more). We’ve changed jobs to try and find something that can give us some amount of stability. I’ve pretty much always worked in coffee, but it can be a place that offers growth if you really put yourself out there. Ian has jumped all around from service jobs to skilled jobs to corporate jobs. I’ll tell ya, corporate may be the best bet so far.

So here we are, coming up on the end of our fourth year and we’re finally getting it.

Ian has found an amazing company that has given us the opportunity to find a little stability while also giving me the chance to stay home and have and care for a bunch of babies. We have reached the point of maintaining the lifestyle we’ve always dreamed of. It’s truly incredible and I really never thought this would happen for us.

Still, this past year was a transition into that as Ian worked very hard to make his way into a position that gave us this chance. I worked for the first while of this year as we patiently waited for opportunities to present themselves but I have to give my husband lots of props. He started with his current company from the bottom and he has worked harder than anyone I’ve known to move forward one step at a time. He’s stayed humble and hard working every step of the way and you know, that is a really key part in finding your footing in the working world.

So now we are making enough to pay ALL of the student loan minimums (because they are all out of deferral at this point) and credit card minimums. Once all of our loans came out of deferral, we lost the couple hundred each month that was suppose to help us put extra money into different things. But we’re moving again for a new position that will officially put us in the financial position we need to actually tackle our debt, create savings, and set ourselves and our kids up to actually have a little stability in our lives and eventually give back where we can.

WHAT I’VE LEARNED SO FAR

IT’S REALLY HARD WHEN YOU DON’T MAKE ENOUGH

That is probably the hardest part when you’re starting out. You feel so irresponsible when your bank account balance hits $2 a week before your next paycheck. Yes, we did some irresponsible spending here and there and we weren’t the best with budgeting, but we tried very hard to use our money wisely. We just simply didn’t make enough.

You can’t argue numbers and when your income is as much (if not a little less at times) than your mandatory expenses, it’s hard to feel like you’ll be able to do anything besides work and struggle your whole life. And I know, if I were reading this somewhere else, I may be thinking, “well you didn’t have to go to school and get loans.” But you know the world we live in. You know the expectations that are put on us from day one about education. You know the promises made. And you know what it feels like to be in school, one that you took out a hefty loan for, and see people around you failing because a degree doesn’t necessarily get you as far as people say it will. Luckily, we stopped before our debt grew even more.

The point is, if you simply don’t make a lot and you’re not sure how to make more, I feel your pain.

I can honestly say that it may be impossible to feel growth when you’re not making as much as you need. I don’t have a lot of advice for that situation. I wish I did. I wish we found a way to make it work from the beginning, but honestly, even making slightly more than our mandatory expenses each month doesn’t add a lot of room for saving and paying off debt.

The best advice I have is to set realistic goals and make drastic changes in small increments.

Want to save for an emergency fund on a tight budget or need to pay down a little debt? Eat rice and beans for a month. Turn off your lights more. See if you can make a small batch of something to sell, like cookies at a farmers market. Sometimes, when finances are tight, it’s better to think in a very short term mindset with small goals to at least give yourself the ease of knowing you’re doing something.

EVALUATE AND REEVALUATE

I have an app that I use called Mint (but they also have a website). It has been a game changer for our budget. Basically, you link all your accounts from loans to cards to accounts to bills, what have you. Then, it tracks everything. You have different spending categories, you can set budgets, you can create goals. It’s an amazing tool for anyone trying to grow financially no matter what stage you’re in. It’s how I learned that we spent $700 on food last month (WHAT???) and now I can definitely trim that back because we’re only two and half people here.

Along with having months of sacrificing some basic first world “necessities” to meet goals, having a very good visual of where your money is going is important. Keeping track of spending and budgets while constantly evaluating where your money really needs to be going is one of the best ways to keep your mind on the right track.

JUST DO WHAT YOU CAN

I’m sure a financial advisor would shoot me in the foot for saying this, but you know what? People in the red need to hear this:

It’s okay to have priorities and put payments on the back burner sometimes.

Now, if it’s between paying a bill or buying a new car… I mean, come on. BUT if it’s between groceries and a student loan, the loan can wait. If you get an unexpected doctor bill but you have electricity and rent and gas to pay for, the doctor can wait.

You shouldn’t starve yourself or live without running water or electricity just to save your credit score. You’ll get to it when you get to it and if right now is impossible for you, don’t let it stress you. I know it’s hard, but just remember it’s okay to do what you can when you can. Just make sure you keep track of what you’ve put off and maybe pull a rice and beans month next month to catch up.

WHERE WE’RE HEADED

Okay, so we’ve reached the point of making enough to start tackling our debt and create a real savings safety net. I can’t tell you how much a relief it is to have made it here. I can truly say I never thought we would. We never imagined we’d feel capable of climbing our debt mountain.

So here is what money talk is all about: It’s about our finances and how we manage them. It’s about learning from our past to conquer our future and set ourselves up to find peace and security in our bank accounts.

Money may not be able to buy happiness, but responsible budgeting and living wages can certainly give you the opportunity to find it.

MY TATTOOS + PLANS FOR FUTURE INK

Tattoos have always been an interesting concept to me. They are permanent. Once you get one, it’s very hard to get rid of it. It really is a big commitment. But for me, I’ve never taken mine too seriously.

None of them were planned in any particular way. I had ideas that I knew I’d get one day, but for the most part I’ve never felt a lot of pressure with my tattoos. I don’t have a rule that they all have to significant. Honestly, some of them I 100% went into or will go into knowing that I’m getting it because it’s ridiculous or simply just because it looks cool.

MY TATTOOS

MY TATTOOS + PLANS FOR FUTURE INK - This wild Home
MY TATTOOS + PLANS FOR FUTURE INK - This wild Home
MY TATTOOS + PLANS FOR FUTURE INK - This Wild Home
MY TATTOOS + PLANS FOR FUTURE INK - This Wild Home
  1. My very first tattoo. The one I got a few days after turning 18. I had a plan for what I wanted, and then I was making change at my first coffee shop job and saw the little eye at the top of the pyramid on the dollar bill and thought it looked really cool. I didn’t look into what it meant or what it stood for. To this day, this has become one of my favorites simply because of the conversations it’s started. So many people have their own interpretation for what it means. Some ask if I’m in the illuminati to which I promptly reply, “Yes, and now I have to kill you.” Some think it’s the eye of God while others are convinced I’m a Satan worshiper before they say a single word to me.

    I think I like it so much because it taught me a very valuable lesson in a period of my life where I was learning how to be myself. It taught me that no matter what you do to attempt to put a message into the world, people will always see what they want to see. This little, silly set of lines means something significant to some people while for me, it really is just a set of lines that I thought looked cool when I was 18.

  2. The second one I got was another imagery rebellion, though this one was intentional.

    I hadn’t heard the story of St. Peter until my grandma was talking about it sometime between my 18th and 19th birthday. It was then that I discovered the origin of the upside-down cross. This thing that I had grown up thinking was an anti-Christ symbol was really a symbol for believing in something unashamedly and sticking to those beliefs until the very end.

    While I’m not religious at all, I got the cross of St. Peter with a rose inside as a reminder of my grandma and the values that she and my grandpa have passed down to my parents and ultimately to me. My grandma LOVES Jesus and God and the Catholic Church just as much as she loves all of us. She always smells like roses and she has always been a solid support for me in everything I’ve done, whether she agreed with it or not (:

    The two of us are one in the same and that bond will always be a very special one for me. We both have a strong will and stick to our beliefs while still being respectful when our beliefs don’t align.

  3. The third tattoo I got because it looks cool. I could say it’s a link to my adolescence, and in a way it is… But that’s not why I got it.

    I got it because my friend (and unofficial wedding photographer), Mary Robinson, grew up taking photos of her friends and being one of those friends, we did a shoot one day where she drew a little infinity sign on the back of my neck and took this photo. I thought it looked cool and decided that I’d get it when I turned 18.

    This was actually suppose to be my first tattoo, but then I got distracted by the other two and got this one a few months after my second one.

  4. This is another that I got cause I thought it would look cool (have you noticed the trend?). I’ve always been drawn to phases of the moon photos. Moon calendars and all. I love it. I have no real connection to the moon. Again, this could be a homage to my adolescent days of nighttime walks (that I wasn’t technically suppose to be doing but boy were they peaceful) and all the moments I’ve spent enjoying the calm of a quiet summer night.

    But no, it’s just the phases of the moon (or the process of eating an Oreo, as my mom would say) in a little infinity swirl because that was the idea the tattoo artist had when I came in and said I wanted a tattoo of the phases of the moon.

  5. This one may have been my most planned and most meaningful of them all so far. It is my maiden name, Villaume. The name I had for the first 21 years of my life. The link I have to my family. The name I dropped completely when I got married because Isabel Villaume Jones just didn’t sound as good as Isabel Rae Jones.

    Despite all the ups and down that come with being part of a family, I love them all very much. I love what I’ve become because of them and no matter what my name is, I’ll always be a Villaume.

PLANS FOR FUTURE INK

I don’t have any of them drawn out specifically, but I’ve included a few inspiration photos along with the descriptions of what I’m thinking exactly.

  • This is one I’ve been thinking about for a very long time, but I know it’ll be my most expensive and time consuming so I’ve put a pin in it for the time being. It’s the only one that I’m going to get in color and it’s going to be a bright, sailor jerry style tattoo in the classic shoulder location.

    Only here's where it gets super dumb and I love it - and I’m partly getting it because I feel like a ridiculous tattoo is something I need in my life because I like a little ridiculousness in my life. - It’s going to be a bright red crawfish (my FAVORITE food) immerging from the water with a big blue wave behind it. On the classic gold banner it will say “Ragin’ Cajun” and it will be beautiful and I cannot wait to have this amazing work on my body.

MY TATTOOS + PLANS FOR FUTURE INK - This Wild Home
  • A little piece of our wedding to go along side the name I left behind.

    We really only used baby’s breath as the flowers for our wedding and I feel like it’s the perfect flower to represent the bond Ian and I have created. Baby’s breath stands for everlasting and undying love. It’s perfect because I’ve pretty much planned our afterlives for ever scenario of what could happen to humans after they pass to ensure we will truly be together for ever. Don’t judge. I know I’m creepy. Ian’s okay with it.

    This will go along with a little emblem that was drawn for us by an old friend that turned out perfectly.

  • My last planned tattoo is for our children, of course. Once we’re pretty confident we’re done having kids, I plan to get a little wildflower bouquet drawn too look like it’s loosely tied in a little paper wrapper.

    So far I’ll for sure have some Larkspur (for Oliver) and a Daffodil (for Charlie). I’ll have at least one more flower in that arrangement if everything goes according to plan. But who knows how many flowers I’ll get in there!

And there you have it! All my current and future tattoos for the time being. I like all my tattoos and tattoo plans. They add an extra element to my style and story that I’ve enjoyed over the years.

What are some of your tattoos or tattoo plans?

A GIFT GUIDE FOR CLEAN BEAUTY

A GIFT GUIDE FOR CLEAN BEAUTY - This Wild Home

As the years have gone on, I’ve come to appreciate clean beauty for all of the healing wonders it offers. For this holiday season, after going back and forth about whether or not I wanted to do any adult gift guides, I felt a very strong urge to make this one. Cleansers and soaps can feel like a silly gift. Like something you could get for anyone. Not personal enough. But I’ve come to appreciate the gift that you’re actually giving when you give someone a high quality, all natural beauty and skincare product.

Ultimately, you’re giving the gift of self care. You’re giving a reminder that it’s important to take a break and have some time all for yourself. Along with all the clean beauty lovers in your life, I think these are great gifts for the busy body. For the person who always forgets themselves and forgets the importance in taking a break and giving yourself some love.

THE GUIDE

Clean Beauty Gift Guide - This Wild Home.png

*Links are in the titles

  1. SPA KIT

    Primally Pure has natural products with minimal design which makes it fit right into any decor. This spa kit includes all the essentials for a refreshing bath time that results in clean, smooth skin. The body brush is a perfect addition to any routine for exfoliating skin. The sea soak and flower bath help to detox and sooth while the body oil moisturizes leaving your skin silky smooth. It really is the ultimate in skincare and self care all in one.

  2. RESTORE RITUAL FACE KIT/Clarify Ritual Face Kit

    Apoterra has become essential in my skincare routine. Their products are so high quality and crafted for specific skincare needs to really heal and revitalize effectively. The Restore Ritual is full of their dreamy rose products created for dry and irritated skin to soothe it back to health, while the Clarify Ritual is created with the power of charcoal for more oily and acne prone skin. Regardless of the ritual, having these top quality routines as part of your day adds a little bit of luxury that we all deserve. (Don’t know which skin type you’re gifting for? They have tons of sample sizes so you can make your own little mixture to give!)

  3. GLOW KIT

    This is a product created by the family and ladies of Treasure & Travels. After a cancer diagnosis in the family, they wanted to reduce the amount of toxic chemicals they were putting on their body while spreading the word to all of us about the benefits of truly natural products. They started by making these multi-purpose glow sticks that can be used to brighten up your cheeks, add a little color to your lips, and even some shadow to the eyes! If you know anyone like me who likes to keep things quick and easy, this kit is an awesome way to have a lot of color options for a simple and natural beauty solution!

  4. SUPER GLOW HYDRATION DUO

    I think there’s definitely a trend in beauty right now. We all just want to look refreshed and natural. The thing about natural beauty lovers is, we understand that it starts with care. It starts will getting enough rest and loving your face back to health. The big myth a lot of us hear is that our faces need products that dry them out and then add in artificial hydration to get that, I-get-15-hours-of-sleep-and-have-no-stress, look. But the reality is, we need products that will work with our natural oils and add nutrients that nourish our skin. This is why I love this duo. It isn’t meant to attack your face. It’s simply a way to give your face an extra boost of nutrition to keep it looking happy!

  5. BATH BOMB GIFT BOX

    Because who doesn’t have a long day that requires a hot bath full of nothing but quiet and pretty bath bombs that put on a little show? This gift box comes with 9 bath bombs that are all crafted to look beautiful as they fizzle lots of good stuff into your bath. Beyond the fact that they have a sense of magic with glitter and gold and all the colors of the rainbow, they add so much natural goodness that it feels like you’re in a land of wonderful relaxation time.

  6. JADE FACIAL ROLLER

    Herbivore Botanicals is a staple in lux skincare. They have really been pioneers in creating all natural products and anything from them would make a perfect gift. I’m bringing attention to the jade roller specifically because it has become an essential in skincare. Not only does it force you to take an extra second for yourself, but it’s a handy little device that give you a mini face massage while helping your skin to soak in products that you’ve used and get your blood flowing to keep you looking healthier and younger.

  7. EVERYDAY MAGIC

    Luna + Quartz mix the healing power of natural oils with crystals to give you maximum peace throughout your day. Whether you’re a firm believer in the healing power of crystals or you just really love the look, it never hurts to add a little magic to your everyday. This everyday body oil can be used from head to toe. Anywhere you need a boost.

  8. REUSABLE COTTONG & BAMBOO MAKEUP PADS

    This is a natural AND zero waste gift! Whether you use cotton pads for make up or just general product application or removal, it’s nice to save a few bucks with reusable pads. These are especially good because they’re made with organic fibers to keep them soft on your skin.

  9. ROSE AND LEATHER | INTENTION CANDLE

    I couldn’t resist putting Luna + Quartz on the list twice. This candle not only has a unique scent that would make any moment feel a little more zen, but it includes crystals in the candle to add that extra boost of healing power. Most beauty lovers are also a lover of little moments of luxury. Candles are a perfect addition to any morning routine, nighttime routine, bath time, or downtime to make it that much more special and intentional.

  10. ENCHANTED EROSION ROSE AND KAOLIN FACIAL MASK

    Clay has become a key player in natural skincare. It’s been known to detox and exfoliate skin like nothing else. Combined with all the other ingredients like Vitamin E, Aloe Vera, Coconut Oil, Argan Oil, Witch Hazel, and Lavender; this mask is basically a super food for your face. It’s perfect for giving your skin an extra refresh during the week and gives you a moment of calm no matter how busy you get.

A few other brands to check out: