Create Semi-Stable Financials

Personal finances is always tricky, and for a lot of us right now, it’s in trouble. I am not about to tell you how to pay off debt in 30 days. I haven’t done that. I feel like I fit in with a majority of millennials (no, we are not still going on Spring Break. We’re like 25-30 years old right now. Stop confusing us with Gen Z just to make headlines flashier): a lot of student debt, high cost of living. But I am also lucky to be married to a man with a pretty good job and we were able to save up to buy a house. This post is for those wanting a starting point in personal finance as I am just going to talk about the things I do.

The biggest thing is having and tracking a budget. If you can stick to it, then kudos, cause that’s where I struggle (especially in the grocery department). I use an excel document on One Drive online so I can update it on my phone if I need to. I have multiple tabs in this excel: Bank Account (used as a transaction register so I know how much cash I have and need for bills), House Budget (bills, food, income, etc), Personal Budget (any extra spending on things that do not fit into the House Budget categories. This includes books, clothing, hobby things, movies, all the fun stuff), Savings (keep track of the three savings accounts I have), Master Budget updated every 6 months, Vacation planning as needed, Loans to keep track of balances, and Christmas budget to keep track of how much I am spending on who. I try to keep this excel as up to date as possible to see where we need to work on. It’s helpful to see what you are using your money on to highlight patterns that may be problematic.

To help keep track of transactions, I use the Mint app by Intuit. You link your accounts to the app, and it will update and list all transactions. There is a budget aspect built into the app, but I found that it was not too user friendly as a lot of things are auto-categorized incorrectly. But, that may just be me. I mainly use this as a transaction checklist when updating my budget. It’s also nice to see all your balances in one place if you link everything.

I mentioned earlier I have three savings accounts. This is a personal choice, but I do recommend having more than one. We have an account for the following three areas: emergency, house, and vacation. I regularly contribute to the emergency and vacation funds, but when we decide on projects or moving, I will restart monthly contributions to the house account as well. Having separate accounts for each area may not be necessary, but I like having designated things for the money there, especially the vacation fund.

Most recently, my husband and I have started investing in stocks. If you have some extra disposable income, but not enough for most broker companies ($1K seems to be the most popular initial investment), use RobinHood. There is not a minimum investment, the app is user friendly, and you get a free stock when you sign up. And, if you can, right now is great to start as most companies are “discounted”. Even if it’s not much, it’s a start. Just don’t check it every day- things are roller coaster-y right now.

If you have any tips or tricks to create better personal finances, let me know in the comments!

Word of the Year

Hello lovelies. I know, I went quiet after passing the CPA exam. It’s been a hectic few weeks. My office moved locations (lots of packing and unpacking and trying to figure out computer cables) plus all the fun that Christmas and December birthdays bring. I baked at least 200 cookies over 2 weekends. I was tired.

But I gave myself this week off to chill before tax season starts next week. I have cleaned, read, shopped, and played video games with no regrets. I’m still tired, but mentally I feel good.

Anyway, I wanted to share my word of the year for 2019. In 2018 it was perseverance and I had a page in my planner dedicated to it:

And it worked!! I passed the exam and I felt motivated all year. Finding quotes was more difficult than I thought it would be, but I’m proud of the page.

This year the word is “renaissance.” The dictionary definition that does not involve the European era is a renewal of life, vigor, interest, etc; rebirth; revival. With the exam out of the way, I’m starting a new chapter of my life. We plan on buying a house this year and I hope to see a revival of old and new hobbies- I really want to learn quilting. 2019 is going to be a year of new beginnings.

Let’s just hope finding quotes is not impossible this time around.

Planner Things

Quick disclaimer: I am listening to Josh Groban’s new album Bridges as I write this and it is so freaking beautiful. If this post seems random, it’s because I am distracted by his angelic vocals.

I am doing something I almost never do today: planning the next two weeks at once in my Plum Paper Planner. I usually do the upcoming week on the weekends as one of my relaxing routines, but since I am going on vacation the first week of October, I am breaking that habit and doing that week as well (and the October monthly pages).

I technically have three planners including the one LA Fitness gave me for my personal training. My main day to day one is a Plum Paper horizontal planner, and then I have the Happy Planner mini fitness to keep track of steps, exercise, meals, etc. They make up my life, and I really could not function without them.

And when I said decorate earlier, I meant it. My planners are full of stickers from Etsy shops. Checklists, boxes for events, savings trackers, non-functional decorating stickers… You name it, I have a sticker for it. It’s wonderful.

While it is mainly relaxing for me, I use planning to stay focused during the week. I can keep track of goals I have and what I still need to do at work and at home. Checking things off a list makes me feel like I’m on track, like I’m accomplishing something. It may sound weird, but that’s just who I am.

Anyone else a planner? What do you use?

Disney College Program- Just Do It!

It’s August which means schools are starting and the traffic is terrible again. However, there is a magical silver lining: applications for the Spring Disney College Program are about to open.

Don’t know what the DCP is? Well, let me tell you a fairy tale:

Once upon a time there was a college sophomore doing her thing. She had just changed from an English major to a Management major and was mostly content with her university life. Then, one day, she heard about the Disney College Program where students from all over the world came together at either Walt Disney World or Disneyland and became part of the magic. The girl applied instantly for there was no question that this is what she wanted to do.

A couple days passed, and she got chosen for a computer based interview. She answered the pretty basic job interview questions of not stealing and always being positive. She put down her top choices for roles within the parks, and then she hit submit. A couple of weeks later she was talking to a recruiter on the phone. They had a fun conversation about Walt Disney World and her favorite parks and activities (she was so nervous, it’s a miracle she was able to speak at all). It was over in five minutes.

Then she waited.

And waited.

Until that fateful day in September when she got the email saying “Congratulations! You’re going to make magic!” (Not an exact quote, this fairy tale is almost six years old) She called her mom and her boyfriend and probably cried for the next 24 hours. She was going to work at Walt Disney World. She was going to LIVE at Walt Disney World. This was a 20 year old dream come true.

I’m going to fast forward a bit to that January. The sophomore had registered for classes that would count as credit at her university and had received her role: Quick Service Food and Beverage. That was all she knew on the drive down to Orlando. She would meet her roommates and get more information the next morning, but she honestly couldn’t care.

Of course, being the magical place that it was, she got assigned to her favorite park: Hollywood Studios (gosh, I miss that hat and Great Movie Ride and the entire back half of the park that is being turned into Star Wars land as I type this). She was going to sell ice cream and pretzels and work some nights at the Fantasmic show. On her days off she could go to the parks with her new friends and enjoy being there without planning every moment of the day.

The girl in this fairy tale won’t lie: it was difficult. The days were long and living with five other people is never going to be perfect. She missed her family (though loved texting them whenever she was about to ride Rockin’ Roller Coaster…. again) and her boyfriend, and they did come down to visit her when they could. She learned a lot and got a lot of sunburns in the process. But she would do everything all over again for the experience, the friends, and the magic. It was the best semester of her college life.

The moral of the fairy tale: APPLY FOR THE DISNEY COLLEGE PROGRAM. Do it. Even if you don’t like Disney. The experience you get from it is unparalleled. You get to create magic for so many other people on a daily basis, and your own magic does not get diminished. Apply. And if you don’t make it, apply again in January for the fall semester. Everyone should do the DCP. There are no bad roles unless you go into it with a villainous attitude. Just be prepared for the constant homesickness that will plague you once your program is done. That never goes away.

Does Hogwarts Teach Accounting?

So, after seeing my failing score yesterday, I cried. I cried a few times, both at the office and at home. But then I got pissed off. And I started thinking how to better my study habits and my time. I put on Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix for some good angst fuel, and I made a thing in Word Online:

Oh, yes. Harry Potter themed tracking and notes. I am actually super proud of this, even if the color printer at work is not working so I’m stuck with a black and white copy for now. It actually took a few hours to format the way I wanted it, mostly because I started making it on a tablet that did not want to cooperate the way I wanted it to. But the end result is beautiful.

The goal is to make studying more fun. Now I can pretend that I am studying for an auror’s exam rather than the C.P.A. exam. I just need to channel my inner Hermione Granger and pass this thing.

Since I do have it in Word, I can customize this to fit any exam/ school setting. I am more than willing to share this with anyone who wants it. It is a two page document, so you’ll need to make copies as you need them. Students, teachers, whoever. Just let me know if you want a copy and I will send it to you.

Obligatory Ice Breaker

Thanks for joining me! My name is Karissa, and this is that awkward first post to introduce myself. Much like those annoying first day of school activities where the teacher makes you tell everyone what’s weird about you.

I am an accountant working in one of the major cities of the United States. I am in my mid-twenties, been at my current job for a three and a half years, and am on my fifth go on the C.P.A. exam. You will probably see a lot of posts complaining about the exam. I technically only have one section to pass, but I am waiting on my score for a section I had previously passed and lost the credit on. Yeah, the C.P.A. exam is timed and conditional. If you don’t pass all four four-hour sections within 18 months, you start losing your passing scores. And if that expiration falls within tax season, you’re pretty much guaranteed to lose that score. Studying and tax season do not mix well. At all.

Back when I had free time, which was when I was in college and not working, I loved to write. I mainly stuck to fantasy and fan-fiction, and I am a pro at failing NaNoWriMo. I did win in 2013, but I never finished that book. So, half victory there. I still write when I can, mostly one-shots of my various characters from role-plays that I have with my cousin. A lot of those characters have been with me for over a decade, so I tend to use them when I need to get some emotions out.

I read the same stuff I write: fantasy. Lately I’ve been in a Star Wars extended universe kick, but I do take breaks with other stuff. Harry Potter and Wheel of Time are my favorite series, and I love anything to do with mythology. I have dabbed in the Stephen King world with non-sleeping results, and classic novels like Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice are a couple of my go-to titles when I need an escape. Yes, I read Game of Thrones. Yes, I am mad that we still do not have Winds of Winter.

Nerd confessions: I wish I had time to cosplay. I have a sewing machine with no time to make anything. Video games bore me before I finish them. I have only completed the Batman: Arkham games and Dishonored. I want to re-try Kingdom Hearts before the third one is released, but I know I won’t. If it is Disney or Broadway related, odds are I know it. I used to work at Disney World as part of the Disney College Program, and I just really freaking love theater. I cannot sing or dance, but I will rap Hamilton like the white girl I am. Marvel movies are better than DC, but I am a Batman girl when it comes down to it. He has the best villains (I don’t care it’s cliche, the Joker is the best).

I have been married two years come October and have been with my husband for seven years this month. We have two adorable cats who are assholes, and we will probably get more cats when we finally move into a house. I am very type A whereas he is type B, but we love each other and he gives me plenty of heads up when plans change (HAHAHAHAHAHAHA I wish). He’s teaching me about soccer and Warhammer, and I’m trying to teach him baseball and there’s more books than Warhammer in the world. I must preclude that last bit with the fact we started our relationship with him letting me borrow the Wheel of Time series. I like to tell people it was a con to keep me around. It’s a fourteen book long series. It took up the first three years of our relationship. Now, he’s just really picky when it comes to books because nothing lives up to WoT. I get it, but I don’t at the same time.

OH! I have two planners: one for daily life and one for fitness tracking. They are covered in stickers and I have spent way too much money on Etsy getting things to decorate them with. I also have three different sets of colored pens, but I need more. This kind of goes with the whole “I am type A” thing. Planning is one of the ways I relax. I love it. It soothes me.

Um, I guess that’s a good start for now. Let’s do this thing.