Amanda Page http://amanda-page.com Mon, 11 Sep 2017 12:23:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.6 It’s Time to Take a Blogging Break http://amanda-page.com/time-take-blogging-break/ http://amanda-page.com/time-take-blogging-break/#comments Mon, 11 Sep 2017 12:23:23 +0000 http://amanda-page.com/?p=2911 I’ve been blogging for almost three years now. For the first 14 months, I blogged with real focus and efficiency. I knew my purpose: pay off debt and pursue my dreams. Even after paying the debt, I continued to blog, because I was still pursuing my dreams. In 2.5 years, I did both. I mean,... Read more

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I’ve been blogging for almost three years now. For the first 14 months, I blogged with real focus and efficiency. I knew my purpose: pay off debt and pursue my dreams. Even after paying the debt, I continued to blog, because I was still pursuing my dreams. In 2.5 years, I did both. I mean, I paid off the debt, and I managed to achieve many of the dreams on the list I’d prepared when I first started “dreaming beyond debt.”

As I approach the end of my third year blogging, I’m feeling lost in the endeavor. I can’t quite seem to grasp my message now. My priorities have changed. I did, for a brief moment, think that I was going to turn the blog into a real business. I wanted to teach people how to get out of debt. But, to monetize that, I had to sell things and services…to people already in debt. That doesn’t seem quite right, either.

Instead of force a message or an answer, I have decided to let it simmer while I focus on other things. I believe in the practice of ruthless prioritization, and if I’m honest with myself, I think I may have been using the blog and its possible business applications as a distraction from the last thing on that list of dreams to get accomplished: write a book.

It’s the only item that has not seen progress. And, in a bevy of conversations I’ve had over the last week, when I think about what I want in my life, or how I want my obituary to read, I want to leave a literary legacy of some type. I want “author” to be present in my list of life accomplishments. I realize that it might come from my ego, but it also comes from a long-standing sense of my own identity. It also comes from a well within me where a narrative voice has been trapped for too long.

And, because you can’t do everything at once, I need to make space for what I really find important.

This blog is important to me, though, because of the community it provides. I depend on the personal finance community for support, encouragement, and a sense of direction. So just know that I’m not abandoning the blog forever. I’m simply taking a break. I’m going to FinCon this year with the hope of getting clarity around the blog’s purpose and message. In the month and a half between now and then, I will focus on my literary endeavors.

I could focus on making more money. I could focus on paying down the mortgage. I could focus on getting to financial independence ASAP. But, those seem like “someday” goals. If I postpone pursuing some of these dreams until after I reach financial independence, then my life is going to be unfulfilled and empty at times. Also, those goals are good goals, but they don’t set me on fire like paying off my student loan did.

But the book goal…finally feels red hot.

So, while I’m actively not blogging, I will be sure to touch four things every day: my teaching, my project for a local arts organization, my Welsh language studies, and my creative writing. I will continue to be frugal and read personal finance blogs. I just won’t be producing new content for a while.

And I want to say one more thing: I know I could have just quietly not posted for a few months. But, I wanted to make an announcement because I am doing this in the service of ruthless prioritization and the pursuit of a life’s dream. And isn’t that what personal finance is really about? Spending your money in the service of your life’s dream?

I’ll miss you guys, but I’ll see you at FinCon. Until then, dioch a hwyl. (That’s Welsh for thanks and bye.)

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The Importance of Looking at How Far You’ve Come http://amanda-page.com/importance-looking-far-youve-come/ http://amanda-page.com/importance-looking-far-youve-come/#comments Wed, 30 Aug 2017 16:51:26 +0000 http://amanda-page.com/?p=2881 If someone told me in December 2014 that this would be my life in August 2017, I would have laughed in their face. In December 2014, I was a struggling adjunct instructor. I was working between three different schools. I was bankrupt, and I still had $48,000 of student loan debt to pay off. I... Read more

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If someone told me in December 2014 that this would be my life in August 2017, I would have laughed in their face.

In December 2014, I was a struggling adjunct instructor. I was working between three different schools. I was bankrupt, and I still had $48,000 of student loan debt to pay off. I took a temporary office job over the holidays to make some extra money. I also started to write down what I really wanted in my life.

I wanted more freedom. I wanted a real career. I wanted a home of my own. I wanted travel and adventure.

As I sat at the desk of my temporary gig, I could see what I wanted, and it looked very, very far away.

Lately, in August 2017, I have been experiencing a longing. I am living in the question of what to do next.

I am perplexed by what’s next, because everything that seemed so far away in December 2014 is now my reality. I have arrived.

Once you arrive, it is important to enjoy the destination. I am struggling to do so. I do feel grateful for the ease and freedom of my academic schedule. I am grateful for my full-time teaching job, my academic career, and my current surge of creative writing. I am grateful that I started blogging. I like my little house. I am hyperaware of the scope of my recent travels.

The longing is for even MORE freedom. More travel. More writing. Yet, I feel trapped. My monthly mortgage payment just increased again. My annual savings rate is low, and my savings are thin. I cannot see the next destination because I’m not sure what it is. I’m afraid to see it, because once I know, I’m fearful I won’t have the resources (and savings) to pursue it.

In this time of longing, I am feeling desperate to make something happen. I felt very much like I was stagnating.

Then, I looked back.

I thought of December 2014 and how impossible debt freedom seemed. A real academic career seemed impossible, too. I didn’t have the income or savings then to think that I could make my dreams a reality. That’s where I started.

And here I am. Debt free (except for the mortgage.) A homeowner. A full-time professor. A traveler, again. A storyteller. An arts advocate. An essayist. A blogger. A grateful participant in a magnificent life.

I don’t have to know what the next destination is. I do have to keep moving forward. I will continue to save. I will continue to write because it is part of my dream. I will let the next adventure reveal itself.

I think it has, and it is terrifying. In the best way.

I would not believe I could do it if I didn’t look at how far I’ve come. If I can turn December 2014 into the life of August 2017, then I can do it.

I am looking back to gain confidence in moving forward.

I’ve come a long way, which means I can go further.

You can, too.

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How Is Your Debt Holding You Back? http://amanda-page.com/debt-holding-back/ http://amanda-page.com/debt-holding-back/#comments Wed, 23 Aug 2017 18:18:12 +0000 http://amanda-page.com/?p=2879 My debt held me back for over a decade. It held me back, because I believed it was holding me back. I truly believed that my debt was keeping me from living a meaningful life. It was an obstacle I kept failing to overcome. My belief that debt was holding me back from living a... Read more

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My debt held me back for over a decade. It held me back, because I believed it was holding me back. I truly believed that my debt was keeping me from living a meaningful life. It was an obstacle I kept failing to overcome.

My belief that debt was holding me back from living a meaningful life was true, because I believed it was true. I also didn’t have a clear picture of what I meant by “meaningful life.” I just knew that the debt was keeping me from it.

In truth, paying off the debt became meaningful. Talking to people about mindset and money became meaningful.

But before that, defining “meaningful life” for myself was essential. In order to live a meaningful life, I’d have to know what that looked like.

I defined my dream. It was truly step one in paying off my $48,000 of student loan debt.

It wasn’t easy. There are so many paths in the world. There are so many stories that sound good. There are so many ways to stay comfortable.

It is hard to choose your own adventure. It is hard to stay quiet and listen to what you really want.

It is hard not to judge it. You may want a 9 to 5 job and a house. You may think that sounds boring, even if you want it. But we want what we want. If we can feel it, we cannot dismiss it.

I wanted a feeling of freedom. I wanted a home base and the freedom to travel. I wanted work that made an impact. I wanted the space to create the important work of my life.

Debt was holding me back because I believed it was. That belief made me WANT to get out of debt.

You start by wanting something. Kurt Vonnegut used to start his writing classes by telling students, “Make your characters WANT something.” He asked them to have characters want something right away. In the first paragraph. Because characters need motivation.

You are a character and you need motivation.

What do you want?

Once you know, you can see clearly how the debt in your life affects your ability to have what you want.

What is debt keeping you from?

How bad do you want that thing?

Want it. Pay off the debt.

Then get busy living the most meaningful life you can live for yourself.

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The Small Still Voice Within http://amanda-page.com/small-still-voice-within/ http://amanda-page.com/small-still-voice-within/#comments Wed, 09 Aug 2017 12:09:58 +0000 http://amanda-page.com/?p=2854 It said, “Go to FinCon.” I’m in a strange place with my writing, my blog, my life. With my blog, I’m treading water. I’m not sure what my message is. When I was writing at Dream Beyond Debt, the message was simple: pay off debt. I was fueled by a deep desire to be rid... Read more

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It said, “Go to FinCon.”

I’m in a strange place with my writing, my blog, my life. With my blog, I’m treading water. I’m not sure what my message is. When I was writing at Dream Beyond Debt, the message was simple: pay off debt. I was fueled by a deep desire to be rid of the debt.

I’m not feeling that same desire for anything right now. I’m minding my money and living my life. I’m essentially in a maintenance phase right now. I just have to keep everything going until I recognize the clues that lead me on my next adventure.

Those clues don’t always appear before us. Sometimes, they appear within us.

Much like the voice that said, “Start a blog,” two years ago, I heard my mind say, “Go go to FinCon.” I immediately checked to see what a flight would cost, and it was less than $300. I looked for rentals on Airbnb, and found one for all four nights for $171. I asked Twitter if anyone was selling an early bird ticket, and Twitter delivered.

Last year, I cancelled my trip to FinCon because it seemed so expensive. I had a reservation at the hotel and I bought my plane ticket with miles and cash and I think I still paid $300. Also, I didn’t know what I was going for except to maybe run into people.

This year, I know why I’m going and it is to spend time with people. I’m connecting BEFORE I get there so I’m not loosely floating around the conference, although I’ll do some of that, too. I’ll be looking for clues. For my blog message. For my next adventure.

I’ve been thinking about turning my blog into a business. I’ve been thinking about writing a book proposal about my money story. I’ve been thinking a lot. Nothing has felt definitive. I haven’t heard the small, still voice within.

You know, intuition.

But it told me, loud and clear, to go to FinCon. Not because I’m certain that questions will be answered. It’s because I’m certain they MIGHT be.

I’m not concerned if they’re not, because my focus is on supporting the bloggers I know who are speaking. I want to hang with my friends who DO know their message. They DO know their next adventure.

I kinda just want to bask in their awesomeness.

I want to walk around the conference, eyes full of wonder. No plan. No pressure. I don’t have to sell anyone anything. I wouldn’t know what I’m selling! I’ve got nothing to prove.

It’s a good place to go if you’re looking clarity. Apparently. At least, that’s what my intuition told me.

Are you going to FinCon in Dallas? Let’s connect! Leave a comment or Tweet at me @amandadashpage

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Do It Despite the Statistics http://amanda-page.com/do-it-despite-the-statistics/ http://amanda-page.com/do-it-despite-the-statistics/#comments Wed, 02 Aug 2017 14:08:48 +0000 http://amanda-page.com/?p=2840 If I paid attention to the some of the studies and statistics about women over the age of 35, I would have crawled in a hole after the age of 39 because my earning power was over, my dating prospects died forever, and I’d never have another adventure ever again. Luckily, I didn’t listen. Actually, luck... Read more

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If I paid attention to the some of the studies and statistics about women over the age of 35, I would have crawled in a hole after the age of 39 because my earning power was over, my dating prospects died forever, and I’d never have another adventure ever again.

Luckily, I didn’t listen.

Actually, luck has nothing to do with it. I’ve read the studies. I know that my earning power supposedly wanes in my 40s. But I DELIBERATELY do not listen. It’s not because I’m arrogant that I’ll be the exception. It’s because I’m not convinced those numbers are true.

And if they are, then I’m CONFIDENT that I’ll be an exception.

I mean, seriously. I was 39 when I got serious about paying off my student loans. I was in my LATE 30s when I FINALLY decided I’d had enough of the struggle and it was time to do something about my financial situation.

Until the age of 37, I still had never really committed to a career, except, in my mind, writing. I was an aspiring writer. At 37! Because you can STILL BE ASPIRING AT ANY AGE. Every job I took was a possible story, not a stepping stone on one defined career path.

Then, I spent one entire summer weighting my options while temping in office gigs and writing some freelance articles. My options? Take an office job in marketing or something, continue life as an adjunct writing professor, or leave the state to pursue a master’s degree in historic preservation. I would have graduated with a second master’s degree and entered into a whole new career at 39.

I would have been the new kid on the block at 39.

I was okay with that.

I’ve never been great about staying in my age range. Maybe it started when I attended a branch campus instead of going away to college as a freshman. All of my early college friends were retired steel workers or first generation college students who were trying to change their own lives in their 40s and 50s.

The odds were against them. But what’s the alternative?

Instead of a second master’s degree, I happened upon an opportunity to teach that paid more than I’d ever made. I took a long, hard look at my life and answered the very important question, “What do I want?”

It was the first time in my life that I didn’t think about what anyone else wanted for me. I didn’t factor in my age or my sex or my marital status. I got very clear.

The first thing that came to mind? I wanted rid of my student loan debt.

At 39, I was the new kid on the block in the personal finance blogosphere. I started a blog to track my progress in paying off $48,000 of student loan debt as quickly as possible. I had no idea HOW I was going to do it. But I was determined.

It took 14 months. In that time, I accepted a full-time teaching job. At 40, I finally felt stability, both financially and in my career.

A woman’s earning power supposedly starts to wane in her 40s. According to Christine Hennessey, in her article in The Billfold:

“Women tend to rack up raises in their 30s and then, at the end of that decade, stall out. We’ll receive cost of living adjustments and occasional bumps in pay, but nothing that would rocket us into the next tax bracket.”

I’m 41 and I want my spot in the next tax bracket.

I’m 41 and I’ve yet to publish a book. I always thought that would be part of my career trajectory, but I was always too busy trying to survive. I was somehow busy chasing stories instead of writing them down. Or, maybe I just didn’t make it a priority.

I can now. It’s part of my plan for earning more in my 40s. It’s part of my plan for financial independence.

I might be older but I’m not over.

I expect to earn a lot more money in the coming months because I’m hustling. I’m mindful and I mean it.

You can earn as much as you want at whatever age you want. You make the decision and you make it happen.

Statistics are helpful in a lot of situations. Privilege and poverty are real. The wage gap is real. I’m fortunate and I know it. But I still have to pay attention to when I’m succumbing to those stats. I won’t let them make me a victim. When it comes to being a single woman in her 40s, I won’t be controlled by them.

I’m pursuing financial independence. I’m making more money.

I’m doing it despite the statistics.

You can, too.

What studies or statistics have you read that made you feel stuck? 

Disease Called Debt

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