My Debt Pay-Off Journey | Fourth Quarter Report

Before we dig into the financial failure that was 2017, let me be honest with you. The last half of this year was difficult for me. I fell into a pattern of buying things I had gone without for a long time.

All those times of telling myself no to save money had its long-term effects on my personal belongings and emotions. When I finally felt in control of my money (after separating my finances from my ex-husband), the desire to buy nice things for myself rekindled. My divorce made me feel free and alive again, and I wanted to capitalize on that desire.

#debt report | Rose Colored Water #personalfinance #money #debtfreedom

It started with new clothes. I didn’t go crazy, but it would be an understatement to say that my wardrobe was depressing. I hadn’t bought jeans in 5 to 10 years. New tops were few and far between, and thanks to all my purging, I had rid myself of a lot of cheap, ugly garments. Every piece I have purchased over the last six months has been intentional and high-quality. The long wool coat I always wanted? Purchased. New sweaters and wraps? Done. Fresh underwear and pjs? Yep.

But I didn’t stop there. I bought new bedding to transform my once “married” space. My laptop of three years was beginning to fail, so I splurged on a Samsung Chromebook (I can’t sing its praises enough and it was still cheaper than the laptop).

I have stayed on top of my spending, sitting at a plateau of paying off everything I purchased, but never decreasing the overall amount. For the past two years, I have eliminated my debt, slowly but surely. At the end of 2017, I can say that my debt is finally under the $60,000 mark.

Even though I have spent a lot of money this year, I am forgiving myself. I understand what this year has done to me and meant for my life. All I can do is move forward.

I am tired of spending money. I am done with school, and I have everything I could need or want now, so there should be no more big expenditures for a while. I feel no more desire to spend impulsively or selfishly. I have big plans for 2018. Failure is not an option.

A Look at the Numbers

In my 2017 third quarter debt report, I owed $61,636. As mentioned above, I spent a lot of money on myself and family (Christmas gifts), making it nearly impossible to decrease my debt. As of today, I owe $59,787.

Highlights

  • My credit card usage went up. I take responsibility for this. It won’t happen again.
  • I paid my car loan down nearly $2,000.
  • Student loans are officially under $30,000.

4th Quarter Debt Report 2017 | Rose Colored Water

100 Day Spending Fast

Progress will be made. Beginning on January 1st, I am starting a 100 day spending fast. It won’t be perfect because there are a lot of things happening in the first three-four months of the new year. By April 10th, I plan on paying off $5000 in debt. That’s an aggressive goal considering the reduction in my income (from losing a dependent). However, my tax return combined with the spending fast should allow me to reach that goal.

Because a lot of things are happening in the first part of the year, it won’t be a super-strict spending fast like the one I completed in September. I will stop eating out and buying clothes. There will be no splurges. However, there will be some gifts I need to buy and some vet expenses for Motley. I will be budgeting for these things, but they will have an impact on my fast.

Overall, I feel good about 2017, but I’m even more excited for 2018. There is a lot of potential for the new year and I can’t wait to see how much debt I can pay off. How were your finances in 2017? Did you reach your financial goals?

A Final Review of 2017’s Resolutions

Woo boy… 2017 was a real humdinger. Let’s talk a little bit about my original goals set back in January 2017. I had such big plans, but it all went crazy when I had to move and got divorced, etc. My entire life transformed into something I never expected. A majority of my 2017 resolutions weren’t relevant after May.

That meant adjusting and tackling the changes head on.

Quarterly Review #4 | Rose Colored Water

1. Pay off the cars.

This did not happen. My financial life somewhat fell apart in the latter part of this year. I won’t recap the whole situation, but you can read about the third quarter to learn how my finances went crazy after the divorce. I have moved a lot of debt around to pay the least amount of interest possible. This is working well, and I have a positive outlook for 2018.

My big financial goal for 2018 is to pay off the Terrain and my USAA credit card. I wasn’t able to pay the Terrain down to $11000, but it is under the $14000 mark. I know I can pay it off in 2018.

2. Buy a house.

The house is a no-go. The housing market is out of control here and I am glad we didn’t buy. That would have made the divorce a lot more complicated.

3. Finish my CCAF.

Got it! I finished the HR course at Community College of Aurora, and as soon as the credits transfer, it will be official. I am really excited to have it out of the way.

4. Earn A’s in my nursing pre-reqs.

Yassssss! I am finished with my nursing prerequisites and I earned A’s in all of them!

5. Complete my 2017 reading list.

FAIL. However, I did make some great progress on my list over the Christmas break. You can read all my book reviews here.  I have big plans for 2018. I’m setting the highest goal yet, plus trying to catch up on all the years I failed (hello 2016 and 2017 leftovers). I think my time for reading will increase, especially if I don’t get into the NECP.

6. Be smarter with my time.

The last six months were not great for time management. Still, I think 2017 as a whole was successful. I tried to live with intention and purge unnecessary items.

7. Take one big vacation with Mike.

Mike and I took a trip for our anniversary in May, but it was in the midst of me wanting a divorce, so it wasn’t great.

Check out my review of Roswell and the International UFO Museum and Research Center.

8. Purge more junk.

I’m about purged out. There’s little else I can purge. I’ve actually been addressing my wardrobe situation and making a point to buy high quality, classic pieces. It’s been a healthy transition.

9. Get a 90 on my PT test.

I got a 94.7! Now I do not have to test again until next October!

10. Spend more time outdoors.

This was a win. I spent a lot of time outdoors this year, and it was great.

That was my year. 2017 is a wrap. Soon, I’ll be making my goals for 2018 and I can’t wait to share them with you! How was your year?

Air Force NECP AY 2018 Requirements + What I’ve Been Doing

Air Force NECP requirements 2018 | Rose Colored Water

You guys… It’s finally here. The time to apply to the NECP is upon us! I have been talking about this for almost two years, and it’s finally happening. I haven’t been around much because the last two years were spent preparing for this.

Air Force NECP requirements 2018 | Rose Colored Water

Changes to the NECP Application

First, let me spin you up on some recent NECP changes. This was the first time in more than five years that AFPC looked at the requirements, deciding an overhaul was needed. Unfortunately, some of the things I hoped to see change didn’t, but some limiting factors were removed. The two biggest changes were the removal of prerequisites from the NECP application and the addition of a video interview.

For example, the NECP once required you to complete certain courses that most nursing schools required. If you were accepted to a nursing school that didn’t require a course required by the NECP, you had to get a waiver and have an academic advisor submit a letter stating it was not required for the program. Now, whatever the school requires is fine with the NECP, as long as the school fulfills all other requirements (AFROTC, under $15k/year, CCNE or ACEN accreditation, under 24 month completion).

Previously, a 250 word essay was required with the application. A 2-minute video interview has replaced that. Thankfully, you have the questions prior to doing the interview, and it will be submitted with the package. It is NOT a live interview. I can only assume they have added this to see if their applicants are professional and look the part that they will be playing (a.k.a. officers).

Schools I Applied For

Over the last four months, I have been applying to numerous colleges and taking the steps needed to gain regular admission to them. I plan on applying to five schools because I don’t want my chances at the NECP to be ruined because I didn’t get into a nursing program.

1. University of West Florida | Pensacola, FL

Everyone I know applies to UWF because they know all about the NECP and set aside slots specifically for military students. They are super military friendly and require more than just a great GPA. I had to take the ATI TEAS Nursing Exam for entrance into this school, and the minimum score to apply is 75%. I made a 77%. I will be taking the TEAS again in January after some much needed studying of anatomy and physiology. UWF also has some additional things you can do to increase your chances of admission, like volunteering and taking additional courses. To ensure the odds are ever in my favor, I will begin volunteering in the emergency services department at a local hospital at the end of December.

2. University of South Florida | Tampa, FL

South Florida is another school that everyone trying for the NECP applies to. This is for the same reason they apply to UWF — they know about the NECP and are very military friendly. USF only requires a high cumulative and prerequisite GPA, plus an in-person interview. I would love to get into USF because I have a friend down there (who met me via my Air Force posts) and because I love the ocean. I wish there was more I could do to increase my chances of acceptance here.

3. University of Memphis | Memphis, TN

I consider University of Memphis my safety school. I wouldn’t mind going there because they have an accelerated program for students that already have Bachelor’s degrees. Admission into accelerated programs is tough, but it has a smaller applicant pool than traditional nursing programs. Memphis is closer to home as well, so that’s a plus. Fewer people apply to this school. They are not as familiar with the NECP, though they do know of it.

4. New Mexico State University | Las Cruces, NM

Believe it or not, NMSU is another school I would love to get into, but also has some steeper requirements. They require the HESI nursing exam, and you must score a minimum of 75% on all components to apply. This makes me nervous based on how I did with the ATI TEAS, because my science score was LOW. Still, I am studying hard and will be taking the HESI in January. I have a bit of an infatuation with New Mexico after my road trip in May. It truly is the Land of Enchantment!

5. Eastern Kentucky University | Richmond, KY

EKU is military friendly and understands the NECP requirements, however, I just decided to apply here a few days ago. Their application process is rigorous, involving a resume, essay, three letters of reference, and a high GPA. I didn’t want to deal with all that and all my end of semester projects, but then I realized that the applicant pool for this program is also smaller. They have an accelerated program that I believe I have a great shot getting into if I can gather the proper materials in time. Plus, Kentucky is beautiful and also close to home. This will take a little extra work, but I believe it will be worth it.

Other Stuff

I submitted my “Intent to Apply” email this week. The rest of the application is due in March 2018. If I do get accepted to the program, I will find out in May 2018 and PCS around July to whichever school I was accepted to. If I don’t get into a nursing school, all is lost for this year’s application.

I can handle the blow of not getting into the NECP my first time, but I cannot handle not getting into nursing school. However, I will absolutely apply to nursing school and the NECP again next year if not accepted.

I also plan on reenlisting for another four years if I am not accepted within the next two. I want to give myself several chances to commission, as I will have many opportunities to try for the NECP in the upcoming years.

In just a few days, my final semester of prerequisites will be complete and I can spend the rest of the year studying for those two vital nursing exams. Then, while focusing on applying to the NECP, I will also begin studying for Staff Sergeant. If I don’t get into the NECP, I definitely want to make the next rank. I will be sewing on Senior Airman in late January, making the cut-off for Staff Sergeant eligibility by the hairs of my chin.

That is the gist of what’s going on so far. While school is ending, there is little time for me to relax. Things just keep moving forward, and I am very excited to see where 2018 takes me. For better or worse, I am staying optimistic.

Anything exciting going on with you?

There is Still Time to Rock 2017!

It can be hard not to blame ourselves for the things that go wrong or the ways we're let down.Who knows if C.S. Lewis actually said this, but I found it on Pinterest and fell in love. Happy November, friends. One of my favorite people — yes, she’s a blogger — wrote a post recently about finishing the year strong, and it absolutely inspired me.

2017 is almost over.

As Chelsea said… Whether this was or was not your year, you can still finish strong. Dust off those new year resolutions and make something – anything – happen!

I can say that 2017 has offered me some of the best and worst times in my life. Yes, I moved to a new location that I’m not totally in love with and got a divorce, but I also learned so much about life and found deeper meaning in my relationships. I became a better friend and tackled issues I never dreamed would be presented to me.

2017 has been a year of questioning and busyness, but I’m not giving up yet. There have been failures and successes. And though we only have 45 days left, there will be more failures and successes – which is more than okay. Life isn’t always about #winning.

I wanted to blog more this year, and it didn’t happen. I had huge hopes for my blog. I wanted to start affiliate marketing. I bought Michelle’s Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course. That was not a cheap course to purchase, and I’ve made no money with affiliate marketing because I haven’t been doing it. That’s okay though. I have next year to attack my blog goals and start fresh.

The Year of the NECP

This has been the year for career goals and furthering my education. I’ve talked about my desire to commission as a nurse in the Air Force and how things have gone up to this point. I have been busy. There has been time for nothing but applying to nursing schools and finishing up my prerequisites. Everything else has fallen to the side.

Of course I wanted to DO MORE. SEE MORE. BE MORE. But sometimes, sacrifices have to be made.

I’m Still Trying New Things

2017 is almost gone, but I am still trying new things. I’ve started bullet journaling – more on that in another post. I tried Stitch Fix! – more on that in another post too. I’m listening to audio books and going out with friends more than ever before. I am challenging my relationships. It has been an eye-opening year. I have accomplished things I never thought possible. Honestly, I have become the me I always hoped to be after graduating college — and I’m not even using my degree. Sure, I wear a super manly uniform to work every day and NEVER carry a briefcase, but people count on me. I plan. I lead. I conquer.

Even if I don’t make it into the NECP this year, there are so many other opportunities to focus on while waiting for the next application cycle. That is what I love about the Air Force. The opportunities never end.

You Can Still Kill 2017.

Science says you need 66 days to form and keep a new habit. Wouldn’t it be awesome to start something new right now and then make a 2018 resolution for it? By the end of January, you would be successful because you would only need 21 days (just 3 weeks) to lock that habit down. Is getting a head start on your 2018 resolutions cheating? I don’t think so. It’s called kicking butt and taking names.

Yes. 2017 may suck. It may have been the most disappointing year you have ever had. But you have 45 days left to change it all. You CAN change it. Forget about everyone else and their pessimistic ways. For heck’s sake, forget about me and my pessimistic ways. This is a time for encouragement. This is a time for conquering the beasts you never got to slay.

I have three more weeks in my semester. Will I get anything extra done in that time? Probably not. But you can bet on December 9, I am going to plan out my blog content for the rest of the year. I am going to read five books. I am going to study for more nursing exams. I am going to drink and be merry! What can I say? I work better under pressure.

The point is… I am going to kill it. You are going to kill it. We are going to KILL it! Because that’s the real #winning in life. Take these last few weeks and do the things you never thought you could.

Books I Read | October 2017

Books I read in October 2017 | Rose Colored Water #readingchallenge

It has been several months since I posted about the books I have read this year. I blame summertime, my divorce, and college coursework. Therefore, I am recapping everything I have read/listened to since June 2017. Unfortunately, very little of what I have read is related to my 2017 reading list.

Still, I’ve read more books this year than I have in years past, and I feel very excited about that. I hope to catch up on several of the tangible books I have in December when everything calms down. As for now, everything is audiobook. I probably don’t need to remind you how much I love my library and Hoopla! It really has opened my world to so many other book options.

Books I read in October 2017 | Rose Colored Water #readingchallenge

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson

I had no idea this was a memoir when I put it on my list and wish I had looked into more before adding it to my reading list. It was dreadful. I hated it and skimmed through most of it, all the while thinking how ridiculous the author sounded. I guess it wasn’t her fault. She grew up in an unloving home and then realized she was gay. Everything seemed difficult for her, and though I tried to relate, I just couldn’t get behind it. I think it’s because I had completely different expectations for the book and they were greatly disappointed.

The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking

I saw this at Target, and then found it on Hoopla in the e-book version, so I checked it out. It is such a cute book in real life. It has delightful cartoonish pictures and is separated into easy bite-sized chunks. I have heard so much about Hygge on Pinterest and the internet, but I could never really find a good explanation.

If you are like me and have been wondering what the heck Hygge is, this is a great introduction book. The author literally studies happiness for a living in Denmark where Hygge originated. He knows his stuff. While I may not completely jump on the Hygge decor train right now, I would like to slowly switch out my possessions to create a more Hygge environment in my apartment. As for lifestyle, I am Hygge to the core, and have been living as such for years.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
by Mark Manson

Despite the name, this book is not as rough as it tries to be. We are told to care about every aspect of life. Every time something comes up, we are expected to give our whole being to it, even if we don’t care about it. Mark Manson says it is time to stop. Stop giving an F*** about things you don’t care about and focus on the things you do.

For some, this could be life-changing. For me, I felt as though I had met a long-lost friend. I have lived this way for some time, and it is satisfying. If you’re a people pleaser and can’t say no – Manson’s ideas will free you. If you already know how to not give a F*** and would like validation, you might also enjoy this read.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Have you ever seen the original Anne of Green Gables television mini-series? It is one of my favorite series, yet I had never read the actual books. When I found the whole series (and more) on audiobook on Hoopla, I decided to start listening, and then I was on a roll!

Anne Shirley is a little orphan sent to a brother and sister who never thought they needed or wanted her. Anne is a fiery, red-headed girl with a knack for getting into trouble, but she soon wins the hearts of everyone in Avonlea. Set in Prince Edward Island, Anne of Green Gables will make you dream about the little Canadian island.

Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery

The second book of the Anne of Green Gables series, Anne has grown into a young woman and is headed to Queens to learn how to teach. There is plenty of trouble for Anne to get into, and she does, but not without taking a special place in everyone’s hearts.

Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery

Anne Shirley heads to college, off the island, and continues to mature into a smart, young woman. One thing I love about these books is how Montgomery makes Anne grow slowly and maturely, just a young girl would. It has been easy to see her growth from the first book, and everything feels natural. This particular book is where much of reader’s wishes come true. I won’t spoil it if you’ve never read the series, but it’s definitely one of the best books in the series!

Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery

Anne has graduated from college with a B.A., and in a series of letters, with a few narrative passages, Anne recounts her time as a principal at Summerside School in Windy Poplars. Anne’s beautiful spirit is tested when she finds that a prominent family never wanted her to have the position and will do anything to make her quit. Per the usual, she impacts everyone she meets and leaves Windy Poplars a much lovelier place than it was before.

Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery

It is amazing how much Anne has grown throughout the series. In Anne’s little house of dreams, she is married and living with her husband outside a town called Four Winds. She meets several interesting people, and Montgomery touches on some very sensitive topics. I would say this is one of my favorite Anne books because I finally feel like I can relate to this fiery red-headed girl.

If you begin tiring of the Anne books, I do recommend you try to make it to this one. It really is a breath of fresh air.

I can already tell that November will be a month of little reading. I am so busy with no time to listen to audiobooks, let alone sit down and read actual text. Have you read any of the books above? I would love to hear your thoughts!