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!

5 Easy Steps To Starting A Personal Blog

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It can seem intimidating at first to start, but you’ll be so happy that you did. Your voice has value and deserves to be heard and shared, so that’s why I’m sharing my insights on getting the wheels up on you starting your own personal blog. I started my first blog 5 years ago and then created Thoughtful Blonde three years ago, and I have loved every second of it. Boy have I learned a lot and I’m excited to share. 

Step 1: Figure Out What You Want To Share

What do you want to write about? 

What are your passions?

How are you adding value to your future audience?

There are so many niches (your specific interest) to write about, so what do you know a lot about? I personally share a lot of introspective pieces that also tie in recommendations and travel insights. Other people have fashion, cooking, health, fitness, makeup, etc blogs, so take some time to journal down what kind of content you’d want to create.

Step 2: Find the Right Platform For You

Do you have website design experience? Are you not too tech savy?

Here’s my perspective on that — when I first started, I used Wix because that was more popular to the newbie with no experience and does not require any coding. However, it allows you to do a lot of customizing when it comes to designing which can be both fun and time consuming. I switched over to WordPress 3 years ago because I wanted a simple, cohesive design that allowed me to focus more on my content creation than on maintaining a website. There are other platforms, like Medium, that are very popular for primarily for creating and sharing instead of having your own domain. Do your own research and get comfortable with your choice.

Step 3: Sign Up, Register, and Play Around

Don’t take it too seriously the minute you choose a platform because it can be frustrating at times. It’s extremely helpful to just play around, click different tabs, and see what you like and dislike. After a day or two, you’ll know if that’s the right platform for you. The two platforms, Wix and WordPress, are free for their most basic package that has ads and does not include a domain without their platform name in it, but that’s okay for just getting started. That way you don’t have a big commitment or financial obligation; this should be fun. It’s exciting to start something new. 

Step 4: BRAND YOURSELF

Branding is my absolute favorite thing, and over the years, I have loved building Thoughtful Blonde. 

So now it’s time for you to come up with:

  • Name of blog (ex: thoughtful blonde)

  • Slogan (authentic living & travel)

  • Topics You Want To Cover (Travel Recs, Books Recs, Makeup Tutorials)

When creating and promoting, do your best to be consistent and loyal to yourself and your values. A personal blog is a beautiful thing that can be a great way to connect and it’s an outlet to share. Don’t let the pressure to be more or different persuade you to be something or someone other than who truly are; your perspectives are special enough. 

Step 5: Begin Creating, Publishing, and Collaborating

This is the super fun part. Whether it’s making videos or writing blogs, you can start up loading to your site and sharing away. Come up with interesting things you’d want to share and go for it. A personal blog is a great place for videos, blog posts, and pictures, and every post will keep getting better and better. I look back at my first blogs from 5 years ago and giggle to myself, but I am proud of myself for starting and improving so much over the years. You’ll watch yourself grow in tremendous ways while having a personal blog, and I wish you the best of luck. 

Send me emails if you have questions or need coaching!

We are in this together, and stay safe during the pandemic, my friends

 

No Thank You, I’ll Buy My Own Drink

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Another night out with my girlfriends and I find myself analyzing every social interaction, despite how impaired I may be do to a few too many Rum Runners. The music blares and our laughter radiates throughout the bar, our current scene— I am having the time of my life, dancing away in the blur the flashing lights. New faces and old ones surround me, and some are getting closer than others, wanting to know my name they’ll forget by morning and where I’m from, so they may have a slim chance to make a hometown connection.

Maybe it could be chalked up to liquid courage, but they so freely touch my waist or push my hair behind my ear, as if I am a doll to be played with.

Some are hitting it off, some are barely conscious, and then there is me, and I’m sure many of you— overwhelmed. I love meeting new people, and sparking new conversations and listening to their stories, making new connections with faces I may never see again. The moments are fleeting, but freeing.

Then all a sudden, as the night goes on, I am hitting it off with someone, who then starts moving in too close, getting way too comfortable tracing over my curves, wanting to buy me drinks, wanting to bound me up in obligation.

As I know the ins and outs of going to bars, clubs, interesting scenes, there is no such thing as a free drink(s); there is always something tied to it— it may be simple like entertaining their company long after it becomes appealing, but some like to think that buying you drinks entails them to a right of passage.

So with that in mind, I say, “no thank you, I’ve got it” because I can’t accept a nice gesture without feeling as though they think I owe them, and it saddens me that too many women know this to be true all too well.

I know not all men think like this, I know there are exceptions, I know there are some genuine guys just doing something nice.

Yet, I want to reiterate to women everywhere—

You don’t owe anyone anything.

You are not obligated to anyone or anything.

You can go out and have fun with your friends without getting yourself into a question situation, out of fear of obligation.

So for the meantime, until this entitlement phase passes, I’ll be saying, “No thank you, I can buy my own drinks” and end up cuddled up with my girlfriends after a fun-filled night out.

Enjoy your time, and be safe ladies.

When Your Best Shot Doesn’t Feel Good Enough

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You hear it all the time, and usually in a joking sense, but somehow the saying “shoot your shot” prompts you to take five steps out of your comfort zone because the reality is known that if you shoot your shot, the worst thing that can happen is…….. you miss. In most situations, you can only enhance what you already have or gain in some sorts.

“You have nothing to lose,” they said.

But what happens when you keep shooting again and again, and every shot is an airball, like continuous epic fails?

It’s easy to fall into a slump, especially in college when you are enduring so much pressure to do more, to be more, to beef up that resume while still trying to make new friends, keep old ones, and find Mr. Right. My head spins thinking about all I have to accomplish within a 24 hour span while trying to plan for the foreseeable future and the long-run.

Well, I’m here to say: failure is all part of the process that I’m desperately trying to trust.

After another failed attempt at something I wanted so badly, I felt slightly broken and far from good enough, but a comforting voice of reason in my life reminded me, some of the most successful people in the world have heard the word NO more than anyone else. In my economic’s class, Moral Foundation and Capitalism, we discussed that a NO/ rejection is a way of saying you and your time would be more valuable elsewhere and that with due time, you will find your place in this rocky world.

It’s all about risk and reward, especially in our society. Stepping out of your comfort zone and exposing yourself in a vulnerable way with everything you’ve got is risk in and of itself, but the reward that could potentially follow is monumental. Although the rejection (or like I said airball) may sting, don’t let it force you into questioning your worth and ability because that’s not the case at all; every no is one step closer to the right yes, where you will be valuable and blossom to new heights. You just have to keep trying, and never give up because if I stopped after every rejection or let down I’ve endured, I wouldn’t have used those lessons to achieve more and be where I am in this moment.

Some Inspiration When Applying for Internships and Jobs

Is there a science to getting your dream job or internship? The answer is sadly NO, and life would be too easy if that were the case. I read articles on Linedkin and blogs from business professionals, who do the hiring and what they look for, (one of my favorites is: Intern Queen )which is extremely helpful, but sometimes, all I can think is, ‘I’m applying online, with a resume I have spent two years revising, updating, and altering and get to answer a few mediocre questions about different things I’ve accomplished or done in my collegiate years, but my accomplishments and job history don’t exactly signify who I am, my level of dedication, or others qualities that may pull me ahead of all the competition.’

Well, I am here to say, don’t get discouraged and aim small.

You are going to get a lot of NO’s,

I’ve had my fair share of emails that say, “Thank you for your interest, but unfortunately……” Plenty, and I continuously do, but here’s the thing: I am shooting my shot, and applying for things that interest me, and I could see myself benefiting from, and as cliche as it sounds, every no is one step closer to that YES.

When applying for jobs and internships, you can’t forget that you want a position that is a good fit for you, too.

Not only do you want to be an asset for a company, but you also want to be in a spot to obtain new knowledge, grow, and benefit from your time there. It needs to be mutually beneficial, so don’t sell yourself short and take a job that doesn’t feel right for you.

Although my intentions are to work for myself when I graduate, I don’t have all the information necessary, just from my marketing 101, intermediate price theory class, etc.

I need to have real life experience— where I can figure out what my strengths and weaknesses are, so I can become well-rounded, and a generalist, with some wonderful specializations to be competitive and insightful.

I look at myself as a brand, and I continuously ask myself, “What do I bring to the table?” You find that out at internships, it’s great.

About a year ago, I took an internship with the Boston Red Sox and 47’ Brand, and I was honest, genuine, and real throughout the interview process, and luckily, it was one of my favorite YESes to date. My boss took me under her wing, and in the process of being a merchandising intern, I learned everything from buying, processing, inventory, accountability, time management, handling money, and visuals. I lived in the moment with this internship, taking it all in and aware that I did not know it all, and wanted to learn all there was. One internship turned into the next and I spent the summer in Boston, seeing the large scaled operations, and loved it. I added to my resume and skillset, and again this spring, I will be working for them.

With that little short account of my internships, I want to say it’s important to trust your gut and do what you think will add value to your life and skillset. I had never expected to do something in merchandising, but things work out exactly the way it’s meant to. So you too will have a company take a chance on you, and that’s where you need to shine.

So in the process of finding who you are and what you want, keep advising that resume, taking leadership roles on campus, raising that GPA, and applying for things that seem to be out of your league because it will all pay off soon enough.

You’ve got this, and you will get there soon!

xo,

Thoughtful Blonde

5 Ways To De-stress From Your Chaotic Life

 

Creating a balance isn’t always ideal— especially when work or school or family life is overwhelming and prominent. We can’t always control our circumstances, but we can control our stress levels with some life hacks to put some ease back into our normal, filled day. Being a college student, who works and has a full class load with extracurriculars, I don’t have an overabundance of time for some R&R, so here are some of the tricks I use to destress whenever I’m about to lose my marbles.

 

  1. About a year ago, I started to try something new whenever I had a rough day or needed a pick-me-up and that was Meditation, eventually it just became part of my everyday routine. It leaves me feeling at peace and uplifted, no matter my situation. To get a great meditation app, download the Deepak and Oprah 21-Day Meditation Experience or if you are in Fort Myers/Naples area, there are Drop-In Meditation classes  but once you make this part of your everyday, the “big” stressers don’t seem so big and bad.
  2.  Yoga. Hear me out, yoga is by no means easy, but you don’t have to be good, flexible, or athletic to enjoy it. I started going to yoga on Fort Myers Beach, and loved the environment and relaxation I got from it. So even though I can’t make to the beach every Saturday morning for yoga, I find time to do it at home with my yoga mat from T.J.Maxx.  Some great apps I use are– Yoga Studio and Daily Yoga and also if you want more information on the best Yoga apps, Healthline is a great resource.
  3. Making time to focus on your health and being active is so important. When I work out, everything else is put on hold and I get to focus on me and where I’m at. If you don’t have time for a gym, download The Handstand App for fitness plans and workouts. If you can join a gym, I go to LA Fitness and really enjoy the equipment and classes, and I’m also a fan of Crunch Gym. However, I do want to start going to my University’s gym FGCU more to workout, so see if your school has one so you can swing by after studying or class!
  4. Cooking isn’t always my speciality, but it’s something I’m working on. I’m always finding recipes I want to make and I get most inspired from foodie blogs. Anyways, as basic as it sounds, I google yummy food that is also healthy and started making some of those: Healthy Yummy Food and one of my favorite Food Blogger’s site called Daily Dose of Pepper   or you can be like me, and like to bake. In that case, I love Baking with Blondie  and anything chocolate, so of course, here’s some delicious recipes to take your mind off of anything else: Chocolate Heaven
  5. Lastly, when I’m stressed or having a less than fabulous day, I try to find some distraction. Something that isn’t work or tedious or overwhelming, so what’s better than online shopping….. not much. I like to keep a budget, so I don’t recommend doing this everyday, but here are some of my favorites to bring you a little bit of happiness. For jewelry: Gem and Company For clothing: Thirty One Boutique and Henri Girl.

Let’s continue to be GirlBosses, who find peace in the midsts of all the chaos. You’ve got this and you are capable!

xo, Ash