6 Books I’ve Recently Read & Recommend!

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As much I love writing, I love reading – I fall in love with storytelling each time I pick up a new book. Often times, I read books people have recommended to me or ones that are highly regarded by well rounded individuals. I work full time and I’m still working on my master’s degree, but I make time for what’s important to me and that’s building up my knowledge in wide ranging subjects through books.

I’ve become dedicated to growing my compassion for others through active listening and learning as much as I can from other perspectives I’ve never lived. Some of the topics I am recommending are about starting the conversation about race, culture, gender inequity, business endeavors, and much more. All the books I am sharing are ones I’ve connected with, and I believe could benefit you, also.

1. I love Ted Talks, a lot, and the first book I’m sharing is one that is short, to the point, and covers a talk that was adapted from a TedxTalk. To start, I’m well aware there is a negative cogitation associated with the word: feminism. I am here to defy that in every way shape and form – I know there are extremes, but I just firmly believe that men and women (although there are differences between them) are equal. But if you believe that feminist or feminism is all about “man hating” or being superior to men / or even if you identify as a feminist yourself (like I do) or if you don’t know much about feminism,

Please read, We Should All Be Feminist by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

This so eloquently puts thoughts I’ve had in my own head into words about Feminism with insightful antidotes by sharing her own life experiences.

2. To keep on the empowerment train moving along, I also just recently bought a new hardcover book for my coffee table that I now get to see everyday to constantly be inspired. No matter what your affiliation is, it’s undeniable how inspiring these women are and how they are the shakers and movers of the past century. From Oprah to Michelle Obama to Ruth Bader Ginsburg to stars like Jane Fonda and Laverne Cox, I am proud that they have paved the way. Get it for your coffee table or nightstand too,

100 American Women Who Have Changed the World

3. Next, we see a lot of division with bipartisan and the unwillingness to actively listen to one another, to hear and listen when one shares their insights, pains, and realities. That needs to change – listen to listen, not just respond. When I went into Peace Corps over a year ago, and was confronted with a lot of my own demons and misunderstandings, I made a conscious effort to listen and to learn, which is especially relevant now. Although we can see a lot of hate at forefront, there is a lot of love, compassion, and effort taking place to confront one’s own shortcomings.

A book that helped shed light on race, realities, racism in America perspectives I’ve never lived, and my part in it all was: So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

It’s an Amazon #1 bestseller, and was highly recommended to become better informed, to learn how to start the conversation about race, and how to make your home, workplace, and environment more inclusive and free of bias.

4. I ALWAYS come back to this book – and for some reason, it sticks, like really impacts me in so many ways. It reminds me how capable I am, how I’m not alone, and how important it is for me to live in the present. It gives me space to be and reflect, but also to push myself, and I’ve read it several times, but when I am feeling low, it lifts me higher.

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

5. I can’t say this enough – but I love Brene Brown so much. My mom, who has been in the education sector for 15 years, has loved her also for as long as I can remember. I remember during my training in St. Lucia, where I was in a new environment and learning a plethora teaching techniques and ways of coping with new stresses. I came across Brene Brown’s TedTalk about vulnerability, and although I have always “worn my heart on my sleeve” I connected to it on the deepest level. First, I recommend listening to that, but I am more communicative about my struggles and the way I feel because by being vulnerable, I am giving other people permission to be vulnerable. On that note, anything by Brene is worth reading, but recently,

I read “I Thought It Was Just Me” and it was much needed. It reminded me that I will always be enough (that’s something I know I don’t struggle with alone).

6. I am currently reading: Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

So far, I find it insightful, interesting, and a push to make me more into a visionary, dreamer, and doer. It’s a global bestselling self-help sensation, and literally, everyone recommends it.

I would love to know what books you’ve currently read, and let’s share in some insightful discussions!!!

The Ultimate Travel Guide for Boulder, Colorado

Ponies, Palm Trees, and Wineries in Bradenton, FL The Travel Brats

Making plans after a crazy week can seem intimidating, and exhausting. You just got done with a wicked work schedule – how do you still have energy to be adventurous this weekend? If you are in the South Florida area, I have a solution for you. Making a game plan and itinerary will make your day an absolute breeze to allow for some relaxation coupled with unforgettable fun. Let’s begin – pick which day suits you best and go from there. Right before you go over the bridge into Anna Maria Island, Cponies is stationed and ready to give you an experience of a lifetime. CPonies is really what it sounds like – we went horseback riding in the water for about an hour. Basically, you jump up on the saddle of the horse, get into the water with a group of around 10 people and 2 guides, and they coach you through how to stay safe while having an experience unlike any other. Even for the most novice rider, this was doable and short enough to keep the risk minimal. It was absolutely amazing to see the horses’ personalities shine through, as each one had been rescued from abusers. Now, they have jobs of playing in the water with people who genuinely enjoy them. How wonderful. To read more about CPonies story and to book, click HERE.The pictures were some for the books. But let me mentally prepare you, while being in the water with the horses, you will be passing floating feces because horses have to go, they go. Also, if you are more of a nervous or extremely anxious person, this might not be for you! When going horseback riding with CPonies, I recommend you purchase the photo package for $25 and wear long pants and gym shoes that you don’t mind getting wet. After that, bring a change of clothes and find a public restroom to change and wash off your legs and feet. You may feel a little gross and sore. Once you’re changed and good to go, drive a few miles into Anna Maria Island. This quaint beach town has quite the reputation for low key settings, immaculate views, and friendly folks, so you can take advantage of the photo opportunities and time with great company. There were many highly regarded restaurants to stop at – we were deciding between Beach House Restaurant and The Kokonut Hut. We chose Kokonut for the tiki hut outdoor vibes as it was perfectly situated on the white sand beach. The views were unmatched, and gave the allure of being on a faraway tropical vacation, even if just for a lunch break.The main strip is pleasantly infused with tiny shops, mom and pop eats, and hidden gems, so you can take an hour to walk the beach and enjoy an environment that’s so far removed from the hustle and bustle. Once you’re calling the beach town quits and done with the beating sun, begin making your way back towards 75 and hit the back country roads. This is where the unexpected lies. Believe it or not, there’s a lot of Circus energy and hidden places in Bradenton, FL. YES, Circus like elephants and shows and the unimaginable. The Ringling Museum is very near in Sarasota and the Ringling brothers own quite a bit of land in the Bradenton area. On your bizarre exploration, you will head to Hunsaders Farm who are known for their pumpkin patch festivities and sunflowers. Although it wasn’t sunflower season, they had an excellent farm market with to-die-for pickles and U-pick wild flowers. It was extremely slow when I went in September, but on our way there, something caught our eyes.Did we just see a winery in Florida? A rarity, but yes we did. Unannounced, we arrived at FioRelli winery and vineyard. After talking with the workers for a few moments, we got to do a wine tasting where they showcased their favorite blends and delicious dessert wines. Their intimate courtyard was so quaint as this vineyard only employed a few people and their wines aren’t even sold in stores. So when I was say a true hidden gem, I mean it. It was much more simplistic than other wine tastings I’ve done, but it peaked my interest in learning more about wineries in Florida and nearby. My favorite was the FioRelli Blueberry wine!To wrap up the evening at FioRelli’s, there was an incredible, most watering BBQ food truck called Southern Smoked by JP on their property. They unquestionably have changed my benchmark for BBQ food. From Mac n Cheese to their Brisket dinner, I am still dreaming about that meal now. We weren’t hungry at the moment we ordered, so we got their family meal to go and ate once we got home from our 2 hour drive. We started our day early and ended up getting home around 5pm to get prepared for the next week to come. Some spontaneity and calculated adventuring is exactly what you need to feel renewed and revitalized. 
  1. Ponies, Palm Trees, and Wineries in Bradenton, FL
  2. SWFL Food Junkie Celebrates Hidden Gems and Supreme Eats From Fort Myers to Naples
  3. Taking You On The Perfect Colorado Weekend Getaway
  4. Packing, Planning, and Safety Tips for Your South American Travels
  5. An Exploor Guide to Peru and the Modern World Wonder, Machu Picchu
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As many of you know, that I co-created the “Who Wear There” Podcast with my wonderful friend, Sofia. I love to share these resources with my followers on Thoughtful Blonde, so here’s the run down – In episode 33, The Travel Brats interview the lovely and well-rounded, Suzi, who is well versed in all things Boulder, Colorado, skiing, adventuring, breweries, and yummy places to eat. In this episode, Suzi shares her insight about making the most out of your Colorado trip by showcasing the best local eateries, CU Campus, biking and skiing hot spots, and must dos.

Travel Brats asked: “Where are we talking about today?”

Suzi said:

“Boulder is a city at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, in northern Colorado. To the west, are the Flatirons which are craggy rock formations overlooking the city. Downtown’s is the pedestrian Pearl Street Mall which includes art galleries, cafes, restaurants and boutiques. To the north, about 45 minutes away is Rocky Mountain National Park and to the south/southeast is Golden and Denver.Fantastic skiing exits 90 minutes away with half a dozen world class ski resorts nearby.

Boulder is home to the main campus of the University of Colorado, the state’s largest university. The city frequently receives high rankings in art, health, well-being, quality of life, and education.

Boulder was a popular hippie town in the 1960s and re-invented itself as an affluent outdoorsy town, but it’s still very rooted in its hippie traditions.” 

Travel Brats asked: “Who lives there? What’s the environment like?”

Today, there’s lots of organic, natural items, as well as a number of breweries, and lots of great restaurants. “I like to say all the hippies had to grow up and wanted education and outdoor recreation for their children.

Additionally, there are world class road cyclists, skiers, and climbers that call Boulder home. Both NOAA and NIST have sites in Boulder and most recently, many tech companies have moved to Boulder and even Google has a large campus in town.”

Travel Brats asked: “What are the best things to do there?”

Suzi said: 

  • Lots of road biking – anywhere on the Front Range as well as climbing into the mountains.
  • Lots of mountain biking – generally one must go up and then come down. Single track and dirt roads.
  • Lots of climbers – seek out Boulder to climb year round
  • Lots of hiking – can be either flat or up the mountain. Lots of trails from Golden to Lyons. 
  • Climbing the Flatirons from Chautauqua http://www.protrails.com/trail/138/boulder-denver-golden-fort-collins-lyons-flatiron-1 is a favorite tourist To Do.

Travel Brats asked “ What are more things to do along with the best hikes in Boulder?

Suzi said: 

Suzi continued on to say:

“What you find in Boulder is that everybody does everything meaning most folks do hike, bike, ski, climb, and anything else outdoors. The Pearl Street Mall https://www.pearlstreetmall.com/ is a pedestrian mall that has lots of restaurants and shop. Both locals and tourists alike will be on “the mall”. The “hill” is a subsection of Boulder where the CU Boulder students congregate or hang out. Generally, most locals stay away from the “hill” since that area of town borders the CU campus.”

Travel Brats then asked the infamous question — “Where should you eat there?” 

Suzi said: 

“Favorite Breakfast Spots:

Walnut Cafe – on 30th – known for great pie https://www.walnutcafe.com/

The Buff – great coffee & skillets https://www.buffrestaurant.com/

Dougs Diner – awesome breakfast bowls https://www.dougsdiner.com/

Snooze – nice casual & healthy https://www.snoozeeatery.com/branches/1733/snooze-boulder/

Village Inn – typical counter diner https://www.villageinn.com

Dot’s Diner – good diner https://www.dotsdinerboulder.com

Tangerine – a bit upscale with local food http://www.tangerineeats.com

Lots of Coffee shops – 

Ozo Coffee – https://ozocoffee.com

Amante – http://www.amantecoffee.com

Sole – https://www.facebook.com/caffe.sole.1/

Red Rocks – https://www.bouldercoloradousa.com/listings/red-rock-coffeehouse/2124/

Laughing Goat – https://www.thelaughinggoat.com

Tune Up in Full Cycle (Bike shop) – https://www.fullcyclebikes.com/about/the-tune-up-pg148.htm

Favorite Lunch Spots:

Le French Cafe – great lunch (crepe & salad) as well as breakfast. https://www.lefrenchcafeboulder.com

Snarf’s – great deli https://www.eatsnarfs.com

Backcountry Pizza and Taphouse – good happy hour https://www.facebook.com/Backcountrytaphouse/

Verde – Upscale Mexica https://www.verdeeatdrink.com/boulder

Favorite Dinner Spots:

Frasca – Foodie people – creative local food – Italian influence https://www.frascafoodandwine.com

Carelli’s – near Will Vill (dorm on campus) excellent traditional Italian with lots go great fish; awesome garlic toast https://carellis.com

Audrey Jane’s Pizza – carryout – to die for! Just on Diners & Drive in. https://www.thepizzagarage.com

The Kitchen & Kitchen Upstairs & Next Door – real food (Boulder, Denver, Chicago) https://www.thekitchenbistros.com/location/boulder-colorado/

Sushi: Zanmai or Japengo – Both on Pearl Street https://boulderdowntown.com/go/sushi-zanmaihttps://boulderjapango.com

Jax – Oyster Bar – a few in other CO cities https://www.jaxfishhouse.com/boulder/

The Cork – Old school steak house; great happy hour https://bouldercork.com

Favorite Breweries:

Avery Brewery – https://www.averybrewing.com

Gunbarrel – https://www.gunbarrelcenter.com

Upslope – both in town – snacks only – empanadas & soft pretzels https://www.upslopebrewing.com

Southern Sun and Mountain Sun – great beer, burgers, salads, buritto, nachos, & wings. Love the Colorado Kind (AMERICAN E.S.B 6.2% ABV) http://www.mountainsunpub.com/contact.htm

Twisted Pine – good appetizers  – pizza https://twistedpinebrewing.com

Oskar Blues Taproom – on Pearl Street. Solid! https://www.oskarblues.com/location/boulder-co-oskar-blues-taproom/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI5K3JsImC7AIVieDICh3XrAuNEAAYASAAEgIuAfD_BwE

For more information on Boulder, listen to our podcast! Enjoy

https://www.instagram.com/thetravelbrats/

How My Belief System Impacts My Everyday Life

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Over the years, I’ve watched myself transform into someone who is more loving, caring, and compassionate. I’ve watched myself learn and heal, ask questions and defy norms, and truly love and forgive. This journey is not linear growth and it’s taken a long time to build the belief system and conviction I have today. Somedays, I let my emotions run away from me and other times, I say things out of spite and then there are other days, I show deep love and gratitude and feel light in my connections.

My belief system is built on the basis of love and connection— love for myself, love for others, and love for this life. 

It’s so important for me to share my belief system because it has pulled me out of some dark holes and helped me overcome circumstances that could have eaten away at me. I believe that this life has meaning and purpose, and by doing the best you can everyday to show up, to be present, and to put your best foot forward, life is brighter and fuller. This is our life in the now, and I make decisions everyday to go for it and to mindfully create a life I love. That means I am constantly feeding my hope instead of my fears, investing in friends and family who add so much light to my world, and going out of my way to explore more and go into uncharted territory. 

I made the decision a long time ago that I don’t want to wake up one morning and say “I wish I would have….”

I’m that way with everything I do —

I’ve taken jobs that pushed my limits.

I’ve moved across the country in high school.

I’ve moved to another country to pursue my dream of volunteering in the Peace Corps. 

I’ve put my heart on the line and said, “I love you” first. 

Not everything works out exactly the way I envision it and plan, but it works out exactly way it was suppose. With choosing yes and taking the leaps of faith with love and passion in my heart, I’ll never have to wonder if I tried harder or said more because I did try my best and said what I felt. I’ve followed my intuition and that’s why I am here today; your intuition is your gut telling you “hey this feels right” or “hell no, back that tractor trailer up and pivot”

My belief system is not controlled by circumstances or excuses for things outside of my control.

By that, I mean, I’ve had girls not want to be my friends, rumors started, boys who turned me down, parents who got divorced, and the list goes on, but when I reflect on it all, I had very little hate in my heart for the people who lacked compassion for me. My belief system of loving the life I live forced me to look past the surface, and to know, most people’s thoughts, opinions, and even hate had nothing to do with me. Their opinions of me didn’t belittle who I was or take away from how loved I was, and that wasn’t going to change how I acted, cared, or showed up. 

There’s going to be times in life when you feel small, when you want to hide, or when you’ve made decisions that didn’t highlight your best character, but that’s when you have to own who you are, own your mistakes, and own the responsibility of how you created the situation. In order to move forward from hardships, breakups, disputes, and so on, it takes a lot of consciousness to take own ownership of the role you played. You can call that other girl a mean girl or say anything you want, but one thing that has always stuck with me is the quote “hurt people hurt people.” I’m by no means perfect, but when I can, I choose kindness.

I don’t believe in an eye for an eye, or revenge. When you ask yourself when making decisions, is this action taken with love, I hope you can always answer yes. 

I hope you build your belief system with love in your heart, faith in the plan, and promise in yourself and others.

7 Motivational Videos to Inspire Your Day

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I’ve always been big into learning from inspiring, insightful, and wholehearted individuals, and have found immense motivation from actively listening and reading wonderful people like Brene Brown, Tony Robbins, David Essel, Les Brown, Oprah, Eckhart Tolle, and so many more who deserve to make the list. I am constantly inspired by people’s willingness and courage to share and to be vulnerable in order to connect, collaborate, and inspire. Over the last two months, I have been religiously listening to at least 30 minutes of motivational speeches, books, or videos to start my morning, and I wanted to share some of my very favorite. 

  1. Think like a Billionaire by Tony Robbins
  2. One of the Best Speeches Ever – Jim Rohn
  3. Oprah interviewing Maya Angelou
  4. Coping when Life Sucks – David Essel (Join his David Essel minutes)
  5. Brene Brown – Power of Vulnerability (honorable mentions for shorter episodes of empathy, shame, and blame)
  6. The Habits to Have in Life – Tony Robbins, Les Brown, and Mel Robbins
  7. Now is Your Time – Tony Robbins & Gary Vee

Let’s share resources and inspiration. I am currently working on an inspirational podcast list and books worth reading!

Questions To Ask Before Picking Your Travel Partner

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Recently, I went on a weekend getaway with my boyfriend, and although we’ve been together for 6 months, COVID-19 and quarantine put traveling on a hold for us for awhile. Finally, we wanted to take the precautions necessary, but still continue making memories and fulfilling our adventurous hearts. Traveling allows you to explore a new avenue of your relationship, whether that’s with a significant other, a family member, or a new friend. So traveling with a new partner had me thinking about tips and preliminary questions to ask and talk about before planning a trip together. 

Very first question, how do you like to travel? 

That’s very important question to ask yourself and to ask the person you are going to be traveling with. Are you a fly by the seat of your pants type of person or do you like to plan out an entire itinerary? Are you a deal traveler or do you like to splurge on fancy dinners and things to do when you’re out? Are you someone who likes to stay in the center of the action or are you more inclined to choose a quieter place? 

These are important to know about yourself and about your travel partner, so you can COLLABORATE to make the most of our trip. 

I can become anxious at times, if I leave too much room for spontaneity. I like to have a rough idea of the things I want to do, the places I want to see, different food places I want to try, and I like to stay in the center of the action so transportation is minimal. I know these things about me, but it can vary from place to place, which leads into the next question. 

Where are we going and WHY? 

When my friend, Sofia, and I were becoming close, we chose to take a trip together and we covered these questions. We planned to go to New Orleans and then drive over to a quaint town in Fairhope. We chose NOLA for two nights, so we could let loose, drink, explore, and have very late nights. I also communicated that 2 nights was my max there because my body can not handle three days of a non-stop party. So we did the party scene, and then spent the rest of our trip in a cute town in Alabama. That part of the trip was to relax, bike around town, visit antique shops, and try out local cafes. We did that for a couple days, and then we were on our way. By communicating what our whys for each location, we understood what we were both expected to get out of the travels and what we needed. 

What do you like to do when you travel? 

I’m not a night owl at all, and I promptly wake up at 7am every morning. So it’s important who I’m traveling with is either on the same page as me or we have a larger group to be able to disperse and do what we want to do. I would ask about sleeping and eating schedules and preferences. Are you traveling with someone who snores? (Maybe get an Airbnb with two rooms instead) Are you traveling with a vegetarian or someone with a restrictive diet? Food matters when you are out and about, so talk about it before hand to avoid pinch points. 

Ask about INTERESTS

I am a history junkie and can spend hours at museums. My mom and best friend, Samantha, have left me to wander through museums by myself before, so that wasn’t exactly their cup of tea. So do things that peak your interest, but also do things that you can do together. Do you like finding random things on Groupon? Are you a more outdoorsy person who likes zoos and boats and luaus? Are you into pub crawls and hole in the wall bars? Are you into shows and entertainment? Are you a beach or mountain person? Do you hike? Don’t assume they’ll like what you’re doing because after a few days of traveling together, the nicety can ware off. 

My advice is to communicate openly, don’t take things too seriously, and enjoy every moment of the newness of traveling. Traveling with someone makes your heart grow fonder, and reminds you how special creating memories is. 

For more travel related content, follow Traveling with Ash on IG & Listen to our Podcast!

Ironically, I Co-Created a Travel Podcast Right Before A Global Pandemic

For so long, I had wanted to create a podcast to pursue two of my greatest passions— travel and human connection. That’s why almost 4 years ago, I created Thoughtful Blonde as a platform to share, connect, collaborate, grow, and build community. When I got home from my time in Grenada, I knew it was time to take the leap and build a travel podcast that could serve as a new avenue to explore, create, and connect with more people than ever before, and let me tell you, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. 

So, I started to talking with one of my very best friends, Sofia, about the possibilities and opportunities of building something together because we all know two minds is greater than one. I again knew this would be the push I needed to put the plan into action, and so we did. We spent hours coming up with our goals, our mission, our vision, our name, new ideas, and who we’d want to have on our show. We both loved traveling and wanted that to be our sole purpose, to create a podcast that was informative, entertaining, and inspired others to travel further and wider. We wanted to talk in a way that was inclusive, and invites others to join in on the adventurous conversation. 

Bam, then came, the Who Wear There Podcast. 

We planned, and began learning all the Podcasting things we could before recording our first episode. So, we reached out to our network and had great support from our friends and peers, which was so immensely appreciated to get where we are now.

We recorded our very first episode on Valentines Day 2020 and a month later when we were only 4 episodes in, a global pandemic took over our everyday. We couldn’t leave our houses, let alone travel like we had planned, but we improvised and created something more beautiful and rewarding than we could have imagined. 

This travel podcast, although traveling this past 6 months has been minuscule, has reminded us why we love to explore, why we love to travel, and why we thrive off of human connection. Since then, we have published 30 episodes, hosted 20 guests, and created useful resources to connect the lovers of travel. We had to get creative because we no longer had a recording studio or the symplicity of gatherings, so we used Facetimes to plan, our phones to record, and got innovative to still feel the rush of the newness even from inside our own homes. 

If you are truly passionate about something, nothing stands in the way of creating and building, and we look forward to continuing to expand and explore. If you have traveled somewhere exciting or interesting or just want to chat about your travel insights or know someone who would be an excellent guest on our show, reach out to whowearthere@gmail.com or find us at: https://www.instagram.com/thetravelbrats/

Listen to our Podcast on Apple!

10 Things I Learned While Buying A Home at 23

1. It’s going to be stressful but you can’t let it consume you.

I had the longest to-do lists, but I stayed true to my vision and kept reminding myself of what was coming. Instead of dreading the things I needed to accomplish, I started to take it day by day and enjoy the journey.

2. Take care of things the minute it needs to be taken care of, DON”T AVOID.

At times, I can struggle with this, but when there is a time table and a contract in play, being proactive changed everything for me. When I was unsure, I had to ask. When I was confused, I had to ask again for direction. When I got anxiety about following up or asking for what I need, I reminded myself of what was coming and how this is what I want and that I’m willing to take the steps to make it happen.

3. Don’t use white out if you messed up the form which you will re-print the form and REDO IT.

When trying to get my mortgage application accepted, I miss interpreted a form and wrote the wrong information. Instead of printing out the form again and refilling it out, I used white out (and poorly may I add), and it put the entire application on hold for a second because the information had to be verified again. On forms asking for a lot of money, DON’T USE WHITE OUT BECAUSE IT LOOKS FRAUDULENT. Sounds like common sense, but after a million forms and documents, I didn’t think it’d be a big deal. It was, lol.

4. Make the investment; it can be easier to rent but then you’re just throwing your money away.

Whether I choose to live here indefinitely or until 2020 is over, my place is perfect to be rent out and it is a long term investment for me. I was able to get an interest rate of 3.25% and after the appraisal vs. what I paid, I had made an excellent investment. I poured my money into property that will have a great return for years to come. My entire collegiate experience, I rented, and looking back, none of those places truly felt like home. It was half assed, and barely decorated, and didn’t represent who I was. Making this investment, not only diversified my portfolio and opened my eyes to so many possibilities, but it gave me pride in my space and my new home.

5. Look at your budget and factor in for all the other expenses that you’ll have:

X-finity for Deals on internet & cable but instead of renting a modem & router for internet to pay each month, I purchased a combo one for about a $100 on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/NETGEAR-Cable-Modem-Router-Combo/dp/B0787TRNMH/ref=asc_df_B0787TRNMH/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=309833041189&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=12873259657437992409&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9053055&hvtargid=pla-520880843004&th=1

Your Electric – FPL: https://www.fpl.com/ I downloaded their App and set up automatic Bill Pay, which will make my life so much easier.

For me, my water is included in my HOA (Home Owner Association) costs, so make sure you know when those quarterly expenses are due.

6. Things will go wrong and you will cry but it’s not the end of the world and you will fix it.

I closed on July 24, 2020 and could move in, but my place was in no condition to move in quite yet. My family and I spent a month working every single day after our full time jobs to completely renovate my place. Every room was modified into my vision, and let tell you, things rocked the boat and made me question a lot. When we went into my laundry room to put up new drywall, there was a flood and I had to handle setting up everything with a plumber and the property management company through my Home Owners Association. It was so overwhelming, but I had to breathe and believe that by taking action, we’d get this resolved. There were a lot of things that broke, didn’t fit, or we didn’t have, but I overcame many obstacles to create something I’m so proud of.

7. It’s very rewarding renovating your house. It’s a lot of work, but the end result is amazing and feels so good.

#7 is my favorite because there were many times, I wanted to just stop, to settle, and accept my place as is. After being covered in paint and sleepless nights and an aching body, I was unsure if I could keep moving at this pace. We did so much in a month — new backsplash in the kitchen, shiplap in my bedroom, mirrored doors, new bedroom set from https://www.ashleyfurniture.com/?mrkgadid=1&mrkgen=gtext&mrkgbflag=1&mrkgcat=core&&acctid=21700000001497894&dskeywordid=43700042405836245&lid=43700042405836245&ds_s_kwgid=58700004901897377&device=c&network=g&matchtype=e&locationid=9053055&creative=433648592136&targetid=aud-562661048811:kwd-44671362&campaignid=1739983859&adgroupid=70005358058&gclid=Cj0KCQjw1qL6BRCmARIsADV9JtYJnOeHGIHraxxmicRpnfr5oYy5CQG41mOrSsmYeinG_19RuFK1xnkaAoqJEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds, new baseboards, painted the ENTIRE house, countless touch ups, new bathroom accents, built a larger closet, and so much more.

We got a lot of our supplies at https://www.homedepot.com/personalized-homepage/content?s_tnt=128146:1:0&adobe_mc_sdid=SDID%3D4CCE863BFA645A71-1BD4F76FFD66F261%7CMCORGID%3DF6421253512D2C100A490D45%2540AdobeOrg%7CTS%3D1598618059 for the shiplap and wood accents.

My mirrored doors were from https://www.lowes.com/?cm_mmc=src-_-c-_-brd-_-mdv-_-google-_-brand_core-_-Brand-Core_Exact-_-lowes-_-0-_-0&gclid=Cj0KCQjw1qL6BRCmARIsADV9JtZ2SmDZRKKX_L8bRJ1E-yg5XGBuKaADdpi9MZttVZ543f_CDicoxjUaAkBCEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

8. Find a mortgage broker that you like and can work with you and also when you’re a new home buyer it’s important that they explain different steps and make sure it’s a good fit.

My stepdad recommended https://www.hgfloans.com/branch-locations/ and we used Christopher Goodman. I was very, very happy with everything I learned from him and his team, and even with COVID-19 obstacles, it was (somewhat) smooth sailing. Every email with updates came with a video explaining the process of the loan underwriting, escrow, and so forth, and I was glad we chose to go with Hamilton Group Funding.

9. It’s more than just paying your mortgage payment when buying the house. There are other expenses.

I had to pay 10% down on my house, which can feel overwhelming, but it’ll come back in ten folds.

Then you have to find home owner’s insurance. After shopping around, I went with https://www.geico.com/homeowners-insurance/ Make sure you know how much dwelling coverage you need in order to meet the requirement of your contract + Escrow. I had to pay my premium at my closing, so be aware of that and take care of that information from the beginning.

My mortgage company set up the Home Appraisal and that had a nice price tag on it, so budget for that. Following that, I had to get a home inspection and we went with A Handy Home Inspector: https://www.ahandyhi.com/ who was timely and professional.

Just a heads up because these were things I did not know.

10. Lastly, let people support you and share in this time.

Thank you so much to everyone involved in this process. Thank you to Mom and Mark for all the hours of work, Thanks to my dad for the support, Thanks to my boyfriend for his handiness, and all my friends for cheering me on. This has been a lively experience and the start of something special.

If you have any specific questions, feel free to reach out to me and ask away!

August’s Top Picks at Mint Motors

It’s been a busy month at Mint Motors.

I’ve been working endlessly at the office, on the lot, and always completing a renovation in my new house. So basically, Busy is an understatement. It’s a great time to release my top picks currently being sold at Mint Motors. We sell a ton of makes and models, but I wanted to share my favorite from each.. so we’ve got trucks, SUVS, cars (of course), and even Vans. Whether you’re in the market to purchase another car or sell your car, Mint Motors handles that, too. You can get your car appraised here.

Joining this team has been fun, and has called for a revamping of the technology used on the daily. With implementing COVID-19 protection procedures, we’ve welcomed new virtual practices. Here’s what we are doing with every vehicle! If you don’t want to come in to shop, FACETIME WITH US!

Here are the top picks from August with a few honorable mentions.

2010 Cadillac SRX Premium Collection

2010 INFINITI G37 Convertible

2008 Honda CR-V LX

2010 Cadillac Escalade ESV Premium

2015 Ford F-150 XL

Honorable Mentions

To view our entire inventory

Check out our Google Reviews!

Enjoy my top picks, and comment and let me know what your favorite is. Give us a call if we can help with your car buying or selling!

5 Ways To Budget and Optimize Your Money Every Month

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Since graduating college, coming home from Peace Corps, starting my Master’s, accepting a full-time job, and buying a house, I’ve really started to think about the tips I use to not only save my money, but also optimize it. I’m sure you have a ton on your plate too, so here are some ideas to enhance your financial stability. With the right financial strategy, we can all strive!

I’m not a financial advisor or any sort of guru,, but I have an undergraduate degree in Economics and managing money has always been a hobby of mine (nerd alert). So take this with a grain of salt, if you will.  Also, I’ve always been a saver, but I wanted to learn ways to get more for my money and be able to travel and afford adventures, so this is what I do in my everyday life to maximize my money. 

1) Take out your entertainment money/budget out in CASH!

  •  I budget in cash, especially for variable costs. Each month, it can vary how much you spend going out to eat or weekend trips or clothes shopping. So what I do is… if I want to go buy an outfit, I’ll grab a $50 and tell myself, once the $50 is spent, the money is gone, I can’t use my card. I set boundaries with myself, knowing I have other things I want to buy later on. 
  • I was listening to a podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/something-you-should-know/id1150124880 and it was talking about how psychologically you are going to spend less when you have cash vs. a credit card, and you are less likely to spend NEW, BIG bills. So they recommended: going to the bank, and taking out your budgeted money in crisp $50 bills. 

2) Use Credit Cards like Debit Cards & …. Pay it off every month! 

  • When I turned 18, my mom and stepdad helped me open up 3 credit cards in my name so I could start building up credit and that was the BEST thing they could have done for me. I didn’t use them to buy anything crazy, which is important; every month, I’d use it to buy my gas and then pay it off. Over the years, I have built my credit to be able to get a car loan at 20 and a mortgage at 23. 
  • I get FREE money every month from points I’ve earned buying things I normally buy anyways. I pay off my card every month, and have never paid interest. So the cards I use daily are: Discover (if you’re a student) https://www.discover.com/credit-cards/student/chrome-card.html There’s no annual fees and you get 2% cash back at restaurants and for gas. For anything, not gas or restaurants, I use https://www.citi.com/credit-cards/compare/view-all-credit-cards to get 1% cash back on all my purchases.  I know a lot of people who have Southwest and JetBlue cards, so they can save money on FLIGHTS!

3) Make an Amazon Wishlist instead of clicking BUY everytime

  • This is a new trick of mine, but I wish I started doing this sooner. First off, create a list on amazon (https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201936670) i.e. home wishlist, christmas gifts
  • So what I do……. instead of putting the items into my cart, I put them on a wishlist and buy an items or two every paycheck. It’s so easy to spend money online and have it shipped to your house, but when you make a list, you can compare items and prioritize what you actually need and when. It’s a great way to budget, and plan.

4) Keep an excel file with how much you make and then INCLUDE fixed expenses you have every month. If you need a template, reach out to me.

  • This is big for me. I like to use Excel to keep track of what expenses I have every month, and how much I have coming in. I know every month I have money being taken out of my account for my Roth IRA, my mortgage expenses, electric, etc, and those are things I need to ALWAYS take care of. 
  • When I can visually see how much I am making and how many expenses I have, it helps me budget, save, and prioritize. I love traveling, so I’m big into putting money away every month for travels. So if you want to put $100 aside every pay check, I’d recommend making another savings account.

5) Go through your account and make sure expenses aren’t being taken out of your account every month without you realizing.

This is what I do, and it works for me, but I’m constantly learning and growing, so if you have any tips, leave them in the comments!

July’s Top Lot Picks from Mint Motors

It’s been a busy month filled with lots of projects and car deals. I’m really getting into my role at Mint Motors and love creating content every month covering my favorite cars on the lot! Check out our entire inventory here.


2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited


2017 Dodge Challenger


2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited


2010 Cadillac SRX Premium Collection


2007 Mazda MX-5 Miata

These are my personal favorites, but we have something for everyone. So some honorable mentions are our Hyundai Santa Fe , 2002 Chevrolet Corvette, and 2007 Volkswagen Eos 2.0 T !!!

We also buy cars and take trade ins, so if you’re looking to get your car appraised, click here.