month five!!

september was my 'okay ashley, get a grip' month. i was putting too much pressure on myself-so, like jeffrey, i'm trying something else....moderation (which has never been my strong suit).

i'm in better shape from month 4. i was a bit of a disaster-but september helped me calm down, breathe, gather myself and make it happen. whatever it may be, at least i was making moves to do the best that i could.
a girl's gotta get some credit for that, right!
i spent a lot of the month (and a lot of the month's money) working out way more than any normal human should to look acceptable in the maid of honor dress i will be dawning in just two weeks from tomorrow! it's been hard work, and cost me a pretty penny (nice gym, protein shakes, a trainer, etc) but hopefully it'll all work out okay.

this month i had a couple big buys also-my 6 month car insurance premium was due, and i made the decision to go for renters insurance. ya know, just in case. a year of knowing all my things are protected against disaster is definitely worth the $159.00 annual premium. if you want to look into renters insurance of your own, go here or check out any renter policy-i even got a break on my car insurance for signing up. thanks geico, for that $9.75 deposit back in my account.
i had a couple of tails jobs this month which helped dig me out from august and the bachelorette party i threw in boulder. another fancy surprise came this month when my mom sent me some money for my flight home for christmas-so sweet of her!!
the good news: i'm back to zero on my credit cards!! i made a little extra payment on my loans and feel like i can start october with a clearer head as far as the lockdown goes!
total debt down: $778.95!
the cool thing about this month is i am now below $9,000 on my student loans and below $18,000 on my car! whoohoo! i can't wait to be done with my student loan! that'll be a really really exciting day.

you can check out my previous progress (and pitfalls) from month 1, month 2, month 3 and month 4.
i'm almost positive that in the month of october (unless something i haven't forseen comes up) i will move out of the red on my net worth-which would be...ah-maz-ing!
not bad for taking a break, ehhh.
xoxo ashleycolean



i decided to start getting a little more reading done over the past few weeks. i decided that if i'm going to slow down my efforts on the lockdown the least i could do is continue to educate myself on different philosophies and schools of thought so that when i jump back on this 'no debt' train i can have even more weapons in my arsenal.

i read '5 lessons a millionaire taught me' by richard evans. a quick, easy book with some good points for, not only money, but life in general.

here they are:
1. decide to be wealthy
2. take responsibility for your money
3. keep a portion of everything you earn
4. win in the margins
5. give back

'deciding to be wealthy' is just like anything-when you decide to do something it makes it much easier to do it. having a goal and striving for that goal is not only more fun, but more attainable. so no matter what you choose to decide, make it good!

'taking responsibility for your money' was a big one for me when i started the lockdown. this means know how much you have, know where it comes from, where it's going and what it's doing. having a firm grasp on your budget (or even having a budget to begin with) is half the battle. so many people say 'i just don't know where my money went.' honestly, there is no excuse for that. if you can earn money, you should have a basic understanding of money. balance your checkbook, make a realistic budget, stick to that budget, understand your accounts, the terms and conditions, the interest rates, etc. not having a decent understanding of your money (regardless of your financial goals-or lack there of) is really irresponsible, and no ones fault but your own.

'keep a portion of everything you earn' is not a new concept. it's easy. save a little, even if it's $50/month. the power of compounding interest is a beautiful thing and it is never too early to start saving for your future.

'win in the margins' is about being frugal. open the windows and turn off the A/C, ride a bike to work, buy generic groceries, etc. consider each expense, remember that financial freedom is much better than that $6.00 latte, and spending doesn't equal happiness. whatever you need to do to reach your financial goals, do it.

'give back' to others. bbe has always told me 'i believe that for every good thing you do it comes back to you ten fold.' i think she's right. i donate to kiva, adopt a family around the holiday, and donate blood every 8 weeks. if you don't have money to donate, give your time, if you don't have time, give your blood, if you can't donate blood....then i don't know what to tell ya. :)

if you want to check this book out i suggest popping over to the library, or getting it here.

wouldn't it be rad if we all became millionaires???!
xoxo ashleycolean


what is it?

"the buddah thought it was suffering; aristotle, happiness. freud concluded it was sex; woody allen, fear of death. four powerful drives, to be sure--all serious contenders for the title of the primal force, if there is such a thing. yet while the philosophers, artists, and shrinks debate what we really want, dollars snap, crackle, and pop, dominating our thoughts and directing the traffic of the human beehive. nothing consciously motivates us like money." marshall glickman


men and women

too funny
according to an article on the mintlife blog, women have more money issues than men. i automatically assumed this meant women aren't as smart with their money (ie. shopping sprees) than men, but mint had some interesting points.

here are a few money issues women face that men don't-

1. women live longer- on average 5-7 years longer than men
2. women earn less- despite big changes in the work environment women still only make about .77 cents on the dollar to men.
3. women spend an average of 11.5 fewer years in the paid workforce- opting out in order to raise children, care for elderly parents, etc.

these three things can mean big disparities with income. as mintlife puts it, a 'pretty toxic cocktail.'

uh yea, i'd say so.
xoxo ashleycolean



i found this amazing thing on the always amazing and then she saved the other day. so eye opening-even for me-and i feel like i have a decent grasp on reality...

i only lasted 11 days (then tried again and lasted 16).
click here to try it for yourself

nothing like a little perspective.
xoxo ashleycolean


good versus bad

debt is sticky. there's good debt and then there's bad debt.
good debt is that which is invested in a worthwhile asset. an example of good debt would be student loans, or a home loan.
bad debt is consumer debt. these are your credit cards.

when you sit down and look at your own financial situation evaluate your debt. what's good? what's bad? and what's the worst (highest interest rate)?
you want to categorize your debt and focus on the bad debt first.

likely, bad debt has higher interest rates and you don't really have anything to show for that debt-other than the killer leather jacket you got, or those boots you are afraid to wear outside of your apartment because you spent so much on them-not that i have ever done that :/...

your good debt will generally get you tax breaks as well. you will be able to write off the interest you paid on things like student loans-so keep track and keep your eye out for that statement around tax time for what you paid for the previous year in interest.

when i started the lockdown i had a little over $800 in credit cards, my car, and my student loan.
i decided to pay off that credit card debt (my bad debt) in the first month of the lockdown. it made the most sense. it had the highest interest rate and was my only bad debt.
in month two i focused on my student loan debt. i am putting all extra debt payments on my student loan until it is paid off because it's interest rate is significantly higher than my car loan interest rate-6ish% compared to 2.95% on my car.

once the student loans are gone i will concentrate all of the extra payments on my car loan until that bad boy is long gone as well. i'll likely sprinkle some of that 'extra money' into my savings as well.

i know us girls love the bad boys, but in this situation-they are just bad so get rid of em.
xoxo ashleycolean


run away with money


i was reading an article just the other day in runner's world, that said that runners are more 'financially conscious' than those who don't run. huh.
the article says that runners are 'mathmatically inclined' because they count calories, miles, paces, strides, etc. they also spend a good chunk of time alone. on average avid runners run for 12.5 hours per week-64 percent of the time they are alone. that's some serious time to reflect...on whatever you want.

the article also said that runners are also focused on a good return on investment for their workouts. running burns calories, fast-there is nothing like it. so, those who are time conscious, are likely also money conscious.

my one rebuttal as a past marathon runner-is that running can be a really pricey activity. the races, the shoes, the apparel, the gym, the supplements. trust me, it added up-pretty fast.

i think there is something here though. you have plenty of time to think about your finances, plan your pay checks and evaluate where you're going financially. i can see it.

to the treadmill!
xoxo ashleycolean



'money's powerful presence typically produces one of two reactions: either we become preoccupied with it, or we try to ignore it." the mindful money guide

here's to finding a happy medium.
xoxo ashleycolean


material girl

i've been going through a bit of a phase lately. i have this urge to get rid of everything. all i want to do is clear out virtually everything i own and live in a simple, plain, (preferably) white space. it's like a calling to minimalism. i've shaken it, of course, but in some ways i've started on the path to minimalism.

(note*** i mean minimalism in the most broad form ever. i would never be an actual minimalist. it's not in my blood. more power to you if you are-but for the purposes of this post i literally just mean declutter and rid myself of everything that isn't obviously useful to me.)

i spent two days recently cleaning out my 2 closets and 4 dressers of clothes. no one human needs as much clothing as i had. it's a bit absurd really. the fact that i was living in that space (with all that shit) and still couldn't ever find anything to wear. it was outrageous. so i cleaned. with my mom's help we threw out 1 bag of stuff they couldn't even get use out of at the homeless shelter-then SEVEN additional hefty bags of clothes got donated. i also sold about 6 items to buffalo exchange in boulder for $36.00.

now i'm trying to focus on using what i have, keeping my space cleaned and organized, and staying away from anything that i don't need....especially in the clothing arena.

when you are thinking of making a frivolous or unnecessary purchase-no matter what it may be think about 3 things:
1. all the good stuff you already have!
2. you're always going to want more-it's just the way we're built.
3. it's for your own benefit to pass.

how does materialism have such a crazy firm grasp on us?? especially, if deep down, we know that true wealth is much more related to things-other than money-like love, family, friends, happiness.

focus on what's really important.
xoxo ashleycolean



they say that growth starts when you remove yourself from your comfort zone. well, i did that the other day. of course, like all awkward things, it was by total accident.

i have been trying to get to the gym on a much more regular basis lately. it's funny how the idea of going to the gym after work (or in the morning-which i have also been doing lately {thank you very much}) makes me want to die-but not going makes me miserable.

here's the thing: for a fairly confident, competent person the gym totally intimidates me. i feel like every single human there (except for the woman who wears jean spandex and puts her shih tzu in a baby carrier to ride the recumbent bike) knows way more about what they are doing than i do.
not true. but, it's all about getting out of my own head.

so last week i talked my cousin, jb, into coming with me to my first ever hot yoga class. i mentally prepared all day to be in a room of mirrors around dozens of people who truly are a million times better than me. i was pumped up. i was ready.

we got there early to guarantee a spot in the back. we set up our mats, got all situated, we were ready.

until people continued to filter in. i suddenly looked up and saw that all the really yogaish folks in their tiny spandex shorts and sports bras were surrounding us. a light bulb went off....this was not the back row. oh no, this was the front row. here we were, two newbies front and center.

i wanted to die. but i didn't. i pushed through the miserable level of discomfort and self consciousness and finished the 75 minute class.

moral of the story-push past your boundaries. you'll be happy you did.

and if you need me from now on you can find me in the back of the room, doin' my thing.
xoxo ashleycolean


two arms, tight grip, 10 seconds each


i realized the other day that i don't get enough hugs. they say you need between 4 and 10 hugs a day! 4 to ten hugs! that's a lot of hugs for a single girl who doesn't see her mom a lot. i mean, four hugs??! and that is just for survival.

according to a family therapist you technically need 4 for survival, 8 for maintenance and TWELVE for growth. TWELVE. no wonder i've been stuck in a rut. my mom told me monkey's die without enough hugs because she wants me to move home and buy a house so she can decorate it. oh, and she probably wants to hug me everyday, too. well if monkey's die, i just might too.

so i'm takin' em where i can get em. i'm going to become a hugaholic. i'm just going to walk down the street with my arms open. that oughta illicit some awkward moments, but maybe a hug or two also.

watch out world, i'm hug hungry.
xoxo ashleycolean


thank you

it's not a hard thing to do, make people feel appreciated. but, more often than not, people forget to do it. why is that? is it because they get sucked in to their own lives? or honestly don't care about whatever you gave, or did for them?
i don't know why. all i know, is that appreciation is a dying art.
sit down, take 5 minutes, and send a thank you note. even if it's for the most random thing or to the most random person. thank you's have become underrated. need help finding some? go here.
i'm bringing 'thank you' back!
xoxo ashleycolean



i know i am on hiatus from the lockdown in it's entirety, but that doesn't mean that i don't still spend some serious time with my spreadsheets, numbers and goals surrounding the plan.

today i was wondering where i am, with my progress. i mean, i obviously have a serious number of spreadsheets laying out all the details of what i've done so far, but i mean by percentage of completion. where exactly am i?

i have good news people.

despite the shittiest month in the history of the lockdown (only paying down minimums) i am actually not in bad shape. i have paid off more than 20% of my total debt in 4 months!

of my original debt of $34,114.73- 20% would be $6,822.95 and my total debt down may-august is already $7063.91-which is 20.7%!

my next exciting goal will be 25% which i should technically reach by halloween because that would be exactly 6 months into my two year GET OUTTA DEBT plan! 25% of my total original debt is $8,529.68!

which means, i need to pay a total of $1,465.77 between september and october. doable, i think. especially since my combined minimum for two months is $990.60. so, you see, i only need to scrounge up an additional $475.17 in two months.

so if you are feeling totally overwhelmed with your debt try breaking it out into segments, like percentage of total debt like i did here, small goals along the way, or average monthly payment to reach your goal.

you can do it! and what's the worst that can happen!? you pay off $1,245 dollars in a month instead of $1,250.00!?? well damn girl, you still paid $1,245! i'm attempting to start looking on the bright side.

so this is me, looking on the bright side.
xoxo ashleycolean


what i learned this week

in may i went to the eye doctor. he told me that i needed to swtich contacts, that the prescription in my glasses was seriously outdated, and basically cost me a small fortune. i started hunting for deals and came up in pretty great shape.
discounted (and rebated) contacts, found warby parker, and got a refund from the hot eye doc because he felt my copay was overly expensive for the amount of time i was in the office.

anyway, the rebate for a years worth of contacts (about $450) was $80!! not to mention i got a huge discount just from googling 'vision direct online discount.' so they said to expect 2 months for the rebate to be fully processed and sent to you. i was patient, but on monday i'd had enough. i called them and they didn't have any of my information, it was 'lost.' i flipped out. i spent the time and energy to send it in and now this. knowing i didnt make copies of most of the info i freaked out.

but there was light at the end of the tunnel. i categorize all of my emails. i have a 'receipts and invoices' folder that has every correspondence from any companies that i've bought goods/services, paid bills, etc. i found enough of what i needed for her to update my profile and send me a rebate (within 5-7 business days). i was shocked it worked out. i always have a bad taste in my mouth about rebates. there are so many rules, exceptions, and issues i thought for sure it was a lost cause.
in short, keep everything! emails, receipts, copies of all the rebate requirements, etc. having all of this stuff should something go wrong, will streamline the process of getting what you're owed.

$80 bucks, is $80 bucks!
xoxo ashleycolean


twenty under $25-six

i know i owe ya'll a bachelorette post. i think it was pretty impressive. everyone had a blast and i did my best to keep it affordable for everyone-no matter their budget!

one thing we did was a great (but tough) hike in boulder. royal arch is my go to hike. it is tough, and ends with an absolutely beautiful view and a great sense of accomplishment!

i like to finish up a morning hike with the farmers market!

what i spent:
parking $0.00 -parking at chautauqua is free
hike $0.00 -and brought my own water in my camelbak
farmers market $5.25 -for lunch at, quite possibly, the best tamale stand EVER. tamale, pintos, quinoa and green chili...yum!!

total: $5.25




wouldnt it be amazing to hang for a day. just hang. or lay. or curl up. something about this appeals to me way more than it should. perhaps this means i need a vacation??

here's to hangin' this weekend. just hanging.
xoxo ashleycolean


no matter what your goals are...

i think this rings true. whether it's saving money, going to the gym, painting your bedroom, training for a marathon-whatever. the longer you wait, the further you put off your success. so, start now!! you'll be so happy you did!

good luck!
xoxo ashleycolean


make today...

lately i am sure my extreme stress and general sense of 'overwhelmedness' (ac word) has come through in my posts-and or lack there of. every once in a while i get ten shades of overwhelmed, and since i am not a black belt at handling stress it always tends to snowball.
i become paralyzed by my stress and do nothing to change the circumstances causing the problems. it's not my best strength.
so when it was time for my mom to visit i was hoping she would be able to solve (or at least help solve) a number of the problems i was having....and SHE DID!! moms have a funny way of making you feel better about things.

i thought my mom handed me some pretty great questions to get to the middle of my stress, anxiety and overall bad attitude about changing all of the above, and i think they would relate to just about everyone.
1. what is causing you stress?
2. when do you think about it the most?
3. what would make your stress go away?
4. what is the number one thing you would change about your current situation that would make you happier?

my number 4 thing was not 'get out of debt.' so she said (paraphrased) i am putting too much stress on myself in an area that is not my number one focus. how silly, right!
so, i am going to keep this up-the whole paying down the debt thing-but i'm going to go on a bit of a hiatus. i need to take some time for me to get solid on some other areas of the ol' life space. if that means simultaneously paying down some debt-great. if it doesn't-that's okay too. i'm still working toward the goal, and i'm not planning to undo any of what i've done. i'm not going to run to the mall and buy 15 things at anthropologie, or start going out for drinks every night. the happiness and relief that has come from my financial lockdown thus far is worth more to me than to give in again.

ultimately, i'm aiming for some other goals over the 'pay off your debt' goal. for a bit, anyway.

here's to happiness.
xoxo ashleycolean


on the money

i read an interesting article in women's health the other day sweating it out on the treadmill. i was surprised they did an article on finance, but i was happy about it.

so here are a few stats for you to chew on and see where you land...

number of women who admit to being splurgers: 5 in 12
(yes, i'd be one of these women)

percentage of women who have expensed something that wasn't job related: 18%
(never. i could never scam my boss, or my company.)

number who would marry a hot, broke guy over a rich, chubby one: 5 in 8
(i like how this says nothing about the type of guy he is. i'd have an easier time with the chubby guy because his wealth likely reflects that he is put together, motivated, has drive, etc which are more important to me than a hot guy. plus, he could always hire a trainer ;) )

who the average woman turns to when she needs money: parents
(i haven't ever had to go to my parents and wouldn't unless it was a serious emergency.)

percentage who won't lend cash to friends: 42%
(i have a post coming up about this very thing. don't do it. it ruins relationships.)

if she won the lotto the first thing she'd do after putting a chunk into savings: give some to mom and dad

percentage who earn more than their man: 24%
(not applicable)

percentage who say it puts strain on their relationship: 12%
(i can imagine (especially long term) this could cause tensions to be high in a relationship. look for a post on this soon also).

the big thing she's saving for: 1.vacay 2.house 3.car
(i hope these fools saving for vacations are out of debt.)

the average woman's biggest money worries: 1.not having enough in a crisis 2.paying off debt 3.saving for retirement
(emergency funds will solve number 1. i feel ya on number 2, but you have to think about it as a challenge and a relief watching that number go down each month not a burden. number 3 doesn't cause me too much stress yet, but my advice-start now or else!)

number who have had trouble paying bills after an out of control shopping spree: 2 in 7
(yep-been there, done that! thank god for return policies.)

the most the average woman has spent on a pair of shoes: $200
(that's pretty accurate-IF you don't count boots.)

number one thing she would never do, no matter how strapped for cash: stop eating out
(this is a tough one, but doable.)

number of women who would return money to someone if they saw them drop it: 9 in 10.

where do you fit in these stats? more importantly, what do you worry most about financially?? i'd love to get some insight.

xoxo ashleycolean


labor of love

the weekend is coming! the weekend is coming!!

i am so excited to have a nice long weekend.

this weekend has been a while in the making. like, 6 months to be exact.  i planned a (hopefully) fantastic weekend for one of my best friends for her bachelorette/birthday weekend. we are shacking up at one of my favorite spots-the st julien hotel and spa for a celebration of erin, fun in the sun, a spa treatment or two, and a cocktail or three as well!

i hope everything goes well. i'm sure it will. great city, great weather, great people. what more could you ask for?!

xoxo ashleycolean


after yesterday

after yesterday's (somewhat) discouraging post, i thought i'd share something i found...
happy thursday friends.
xoxo ashleycolean