Young, Dumb and in Love

Young, Dumb, and in Love

Yesterday was the anniversary of our first date.

We met six years ago at, but our relationship truly blossomed on a little relic called (We were both too cheap to auto-renew for one more month at the time!)

After several weeks of emails, Kristin and I decided to meet face to face for the first time. As many online couples do, we chose our first encounter at a Starbucks. I was excited and nervous that day, as was she.

We talked about life after school, the rush and worry of existence that only a young person in their mid-20s could, and cell phones.

(For the record, six years ago I had the Palm Centro and Kristin was in love with the Blackberry Curve 8330 with a pink case)

We’re pretty nerdy, I know.

I had such a great time that day, thinking I could talk to this woman forever and not be bored. She was so much like me, had similar struggles and success like me, and we just clicked from day one.

Our first picture together

Ever the hipster, Kristin had blogs and took selfies way before most of the world knew these were even things. She was as smart as could be about stuff before it hit the mainstream, and so I even learned what a hipster was from her!

Kristin's selfie circa 2008

From an outsider’s perspective of our relationship, it was such a different dynamic, most people did indeed think we were crazy back then, but that was ok with us.

I think we were talking about rings within 2 weeks of meeting each other, and the great Cincinnati Wind Power Outage of 2008 ensured we made haste when moving in together.


This past weekend, for our six year dating anniversary, I took us both on a trip back down memory lane by compiling the 1st 30 days of our Gmail chats and making a scrapbook of them all. (thanks Google for wanting to know our entire lives, sometimes it actually comes in handy!) We read it at Starbucks.

Kristin and the Scrapbook

Coffee and Gchats

I had a complete blast doing this, and something really struck me as I read all of the late night messages, giddy conversations and talk of the future with the two of us together.

One singular statement really read true in all of these love letters.

We were idiots.

It turns out we were both not great with money. Messages abound of “spotting” each other tens of dollars in between waves of the feast and famine that was payday.

My favorite text in particular talks about not having enough money for both a loaf of bread from Panera and gas, and how we were actually choosing between the two:

gas or food

Gas won out if I recall. We didn’t have money for a loaf of bread, people.

As is often the case when no one has told you otherwise, we had no clue that we were living our lives in chaos in our mid-twenties.

As the relationship grew, we started facing our money fears head-on. I started working with a budget and telling Kristin how bad I really was with handling money. It was difficult, sure, but it saved us. We realized that we wanted more from our lives and struggling like this was not going to get us there.

Slowly but surely we began to turn our lives around. Not just with money but in all habits. The uphill battling together only made us stronger.

We started treating ourselves and others better. My life began improving because I admitted there was a problem. I started living a life of integrity and a sense of purpose that had somehow evaded me for so many years.

If you feel that you’re stuck and your life is not getting any better, or if you just can’t seem to move the needle enough on a project, know that we all start somewhere. For us, it was making plans to not want for so much and appreciate what we have.

If you struggle, know that there is always something better beyond today. Know that you can make those miracles happen.

If Kristin and I had not kept moving forward in our efforts with money, we would still be where we were at all those years ago. I can honestly say now that we are far better people, much happier in life and live with a renewed sense of gratitude.

We can’t wait to see what the next six years bring.

Surrounded by Screens

How many screens are within your view at this very moment?

Remember, it didn’t used to be like this. Not too many years ago, you were hard-pressed to find a smartphone user in a crowd.

Now, look at all of the screens available. It feels like everyone is looking at screens all the time. They are both bigger (70″ LED TV’s, Phablet screens) and smaller (Tablets, smartphones, Wearable technology) and just more prevalent overall.

This trend will not be stopping anytime soon, either. More average Americans use computers while at work, as well as when they get home. That means we are also spending more time looking at all of these new screens.

Here’s some advice from a recovering tech junkie:

Matrix Screens

Found at a house Kristin and I were looking to purchase.

Watch your Time

In Financial Peace University the Marketing lesson, Dave Ramsey talks about having your “shields up” when tackling debt because there are so many businesses out there trying to take your money.

The same is true today with Time.

Time has become our most precious commodity. In a world of “Freemium” business models, companies now want your time more than ever. The more screens you have, the more you need to be aware of what you’re doing while on them.

Time is Money. It’s another currency. Extra screens mean more potential for spending time. How often have you lost track of time on a screen?

Giving your time & attention to a screen is saying “This is what’s important to me right now” whether you realize it or not. Well, is it important? 

You need to be able to answer that question consciously, or your sub-conscious will answer for you.

Be intentional

Financial experts say to watch the little purchases, they add up to a significant portion of money. The same is true with time. Pay attention to those little time payments, they could turn into huge time-sucks.

Be conscious of what you’re doing and don’t let someone else dictate your actions.

I make it a point to do this while watching movies. The director did not intend for me to watch this movie with one eye on my phone or laptop, so I’ll make it a point to keep anything out of reach that I may be tempted with, in order to enjoy the movie.

Just like with money & getting sidetracked, it’s easy to Facebook-check yourself to death too.

Remember that you can only really look at one at a time, anyway.

Take a Break

If you feel like your eyeballs are going to pop out of your head, walk away. Look at an object that is 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Make sure you are blinking correctly & regularly. There are even special glasses for those who look at screens for extended periods during the day.

It’s easy to center your life around your devices. Even as someone who loves checking out the latest gadgetry, I try not to make these things the center of my life. That happens by having my “shields up” and making conscious decisions with my time.


How do you feel about the prevalence of additional devices everywhere? Has it changed the way you consume content?



3 Reasons You DON’T Deserve To Buy That!


I used to fantasize for objects with rapid regularly. After college, I had a Wish List totaling over $3,000, all while trying to figure out how to pay my bills.

I suffered from Stuff-itis. I’m sure you have at one time or another, too.

When I was broke and spending money I didn’t have, I thought I was just getting the things a newly independent person “needed”.

In reality, I was actually mortgaging my future, thinking I deserved fancy things without working really, really hard for them. 

For a long time, I didn’t even realize I had almost nothing, while living like I needed everything.

A change was neededa whole Paradigm Shift was needed…That shift came years later in the form of The Total Money Makeover with Dave Ramsey. 

I began to slowly make meaningful (often difficult) changes within me, and I realized that I was not the things I owned.

Throughout our debt-clearing process and getting the clutter out of our lives, I realized a lot of the stuff I thought I wanted in my life didn’t matter anymore. Stuff has a way of clouding judgement like that.

Here are 3 reasons you probably don’t deserve the things you’re thinking about buying:

1. You can’t tell your spouse

Around the time we got married, I remember checking my account for weeks to make sure I finally had enough money for a receiver & speakers. I never told Kristin I was buying them. 

I was already creating money tensions with my new bride. I was being dishonest with her to get what I wanted. I was disregarding her feelings when it came to mutual money decisions. You can’t do that and maintain a healthy relationship.

2. You finally have enough to make the monthly payments

A monthly payment mindset is tough to get out of, but it’s vital for true success.

Years ago, I needed a car, and we were going to have to finance it.

I was so ecstatic about qualifying for the loan that I never thought about what a reasonable purchase would be. I never felt the difference between the $18,000 car and the $26,000 car. Spoiler alert: It’s Eight Thousand Dollars.

It wasn’t all bad: That $475 monthly car bill came to be the fire in our bellies to do whatever it takes to get rid of that payment. Forever.

3. You’re not saving enough elsewhere

Maybe you’ve saved up and you know exactly how much you have for your thing. You’ve been setting that money aside for weeks, or months, and you finally have saved enough money. Good for you!

I’m asking you to double-check that you truly have enough.

An emergency fund should be there for a reason. Life insurance is sold for a reason. The government limits retirement contributions for a reason.

Build a rock-solid financial house and purchases become good experiences again.

Before you go out and get the latest and greatest, think to yourself: Am I mortgaging my future for my present?

The answer may surprise you.

The Secret to Having Whatever you Want is…

The Secret to Having Whatever You Want

We’ve talked a lot about our successes here.

We talk about living better than before by accomplishing the uncommon and seemingly impossible.

Kristin and I, our lives are wildly different than they used to be just a few years ago. We are now happening to our lives, not the other way around.

We’ve gotten comfortable with pain and delaying gratification.

Don’t think that things like debt repayment and weight loss are pain-free. They are not. It’s really hard to say “no” to fun with friends and family.

It’s really hard to work day in and day out to lose 2 pounds.

It’s really hard to go against the grain of societal norms by living with purpose and intention rather than apathy and excess.

Kristin and I went through some of the most painful and difficult situations of our marriage in the first 12 months. We moved out of a lovely home in a great neighborhood. I started working two jobs. We took Kristin’s brother into our new cramped home. We sold many, many things. Every day was a new physical and mental struggle.

Why did we put ourselves through all of this? Because we both knew what we wanted took hard work. 

We knew that better things awaited us on the other side of all of that.

I love this speech by Eric Thomas. It’s a short 2 minute powerhouse about change. It perfectly represents what it’s like to go through Pain. It was set to video and shot, edited and directed by: Franco Ciola for Elite U. I hope it inspires you as much as it has inspired me.

Work hard, and you can have whatever it is you want.

What is the pain in your life?

What is one thing that you want so much that you’re willing to make a change for?

It starts with You. You are the secret weapon. 

Why Is Television Glorifying Debt?



As a family who doesn’t have cable, we aren’t ones who regularly keep up with reality TV. On vacation, however, we were spoiled with cable for two weeks. With cable TV comes commercials. With commercials come promos for the latest reality shows.

Amongst them was a show called “Chrisley Knows Best.” To be perfectly honest, the promo came and went, and all I thought was, “well they seem obnoxious” and that was that. I didn’t plan on putting much more thought into The Chrisley’s. But a few days later, who’s mug do I see on The Today Show? Todd Chrisley.


image via


He was promoting his new reality show, and the scene they chose to show was Todd boasting about his “excellent” parenting skills. He had chosen to teach his young son a lesson by putting a boot on his RANGE ROVER SUV. Yes, his teenage son has a Range Rover. So I decided to do a bit of googling to find out about this Chrisley family. What I found was honestly horrifying.

The first thing I came across was a article entitled Chrisley Knows Best: Inside Todd Chrisley’s $45 Million Bankruptcy Case. Hang on….. $45 Million?? Bankruptcy? What is going on with this family?!

The very first quote in this article is Todd Chrisley boasting,

In a year, we sometimes spend $300,000 or more, just on clothing

Well then. Surely that was before their bankruptcy. But no, the Chrisleys’ bankruptcy was in August 2012, and this interview was a recent quote from show promos. In details of the Chrisley’s bankruptcy case, the family’s assets were listed at 4.2 million. But the kicker? His debts were listed at 49.4 MILLION. Yes, you read that right. The USA Network gave a reality show with the title “KNOWS BEST” to a family that is 45 million dollars in debt.  And I’m just wondering, what exactly does Todd Chrisley know best?

Unfortunately, USA Network is not the only network promoting excessive amounts of debt.  A show on HGTV called “Flip or Flop” intro’s the show with the starring couple boasting about how they maxed out all of their credit cards and even borrowed money from family. I just can’t bring myself to celebrate that.

I recently heard the sad news that the star of this show recently got a cancer diagnosis. I can’t help but wonder if they regret all of that credit card debt now that they are more than likely riddled with hospital bills. I don’t know this family, and they very well may have come out on top, made enough money to pay off their maxed out credit card debt, and made some money flipping houses. But I’d wager to say that’s not the common outcome of similar situations.

And we can’t forget the infamous Theresa Giudici, start of The Real Housewives of New Jersey. She, along with her husband, are facing serious jail time due to their shady financial ways. Fraud and massive amounts of debt are glorified like crazy with this family.


Their debt rang up to 11 Million. Yet we saw them on tv each week throwing extravagant parties, remodeling their home, and taking their kids on massive shopping sprees. It’s not the best values to be teaching your children.


On the opposite end of the money spectrum, we have shows like Extreme Cheapskates, which focuses on the strangeness of people that love to save. Rather than show off lavish parties and shopping sprees, the people on these shows have to “come clean” to a friend about their money saving ways. So tell me this- Why don’t the stars of the lavish reality shows have to “come clean” about their massive debt amounts? Sure, the stars of “Extreme Cheapskates” may go a little overboard. And we might be a little bit shocked by someone who refuses to buy toilet paper. Yes, it is extreme. But so is millions and millions in debt. Why are we not calling these people “extreme?”

All in all, it is clear that network TV has made a killing on these families who are living a supposed “lavish” lifestyle. But in REAL reality, it seems as though they are just causing more and more families to put themselves in grave financial danger trying to live up to the lifestyle they see on TV.

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