february 2022 recap

Hey ladies and gents (the entire 2 of you boys who probably read this blog. Lol).


I dropped the ball on blogging for February. I normally would be profusely apologizing for this, saying it won't happen again, saying I'm recommitting to being the best blogger version of myself . . . but I won't. It probably will happen again. And I'm honestly not sorry. Though February was stressful and busy and I didn't feel like myself at all for the first half of it, so many incredible things happened. The wins are largely in three categories: finances, community, and nesting.


Finances


I apologize in advance for some of this deep-divey personal-finance-junky content. I recently have become very invested in my own financial freedom, and I'm working toward it daily. I also am very transparent about some of my financial realities in the next few paragraphs, to the point where I know I'll get some eyebrow raises for sharing things like my credit score and financial victories. If that all doesn't sit well with you, that's fine. You can stop reading. But I wish that more people were transparent with me about what the heck personal finance looks like as a broke law student.


February was a big finance win month for me. I paid off the last bits of my credit card debt. Back when I was between law school and taking the bar, I wasn't working, and this was putting a huge financial strain on my bank accounts. I was relying on my parents to make ends meet, I was physically hoarding cash for when my accounts went red, and I was stressed about money CONSTANTLY. This is something many people don't talk about with law school. Sure, you're supposed to have the ability to make the big bucks, but you have an entire period of months after graduating where you can't work because you have to study. Some people make both work; I decided it wasn't worth it for me. Some of you also know that I lost my job due to Covid a mere month after graduating. That sucked. I had planned on becoming a full-time attorney at my firm post-bar, but they had to tell me it wasn't in their budget anymore and my plan - both for my career and my finances - went down the drain all in one fell swoop. This resulted in me putting way more than I should have on credit cards during the 3 month period.

So, to finally be free of that financial and mental burden . . . priceless.


I also filed my own taxes for the first time (with the help of a trusted and far more tax-savvy friend). I got pretty hefty refunds from both federal and state, which is what I used to pay a majority of the credit debt off. The rest went toward paying my parents back for the down payment on my car that they helped me out with in October. Then, some of the leftover went to opening my first retirement account, a Roth IRA. Opening a Roth IRA was one of my financial goals for this year, and it feels SO good to be checking on of those boxes off so early into 2022.


On the less exciting side of things, I found after researching my credit score that I had an outstanding balance on an old X-ray that I thought was covered by insurance. That balance had been charged after I was in a car accident in 2017 (not me driving!). I broke two ribs and had to go get them checked out. Point being, the balance had been there for awhile and I'd had no idea, since only ONE out of the three big-wig credit bureaus reported it. It was negatively impacting my credit score for no reason and had gained a stupid amount of interest, considering the original charge was only about $120. I owed a little over $200 by now, and they'd referred the debt to collections. Guess what? Credit bureaus are NOT fans of collections accounts. My score reflected it. I was able to call the agency, negotiate a partial payoff in exchange for expunging the record from my credit report, and voila.


All of the debt payoff (both in credit card and collections forms) led me to a credit score that got increased by over 100 points in February. I now have a credit score that's about 760, which is insane. My score's never been above 700 before a few weeks ago, and I was on top of the world. Now armed with a good credit score, I did two things: applying for a credit card I've wanted for years, and requesting a credit line increase on my smallest card.


I was instantly approved for the credit card, which was crazy. I've never before had that happen to me and the credit line was three times the rest of my credit lines combined. Ridiculous. I also got automatically improved for the credit line increase request. Both of those resulted in my credit score going up even more since my credit utilization went down, and that makes up about 30% of credit scores.


All in all . . . February was GREEN in the finance department.


Community


Along with my words of vision, consistency, and vibrance (which we discussed in my last post), I really wanted to make more friends and become more connected this year. One way that I knew I wanted to do that was by getting involved in my church. I've loosely gone to the same church for the last four years, but due to things like midterms, work, and the global pandemic, I've always felt too busy to be really plugged in. Although my life doesn't look much different now than it did a few months ago, I made the commitment to push the play button on church involvement even though I knew it would result in me having less lazy Netflix evenings. The trade off has been SO worth it.


First, I've started going to a weekly bible study with our young professionals group. I didn't realize how I missed simply talking to groups of people until I actually started doing it. No matter what mood I'm in, I am so encouraged, uplifted, and filled up spiritually and emotionally every time I go to a bible study. I really didn't know if I'd like it when I first went, but I told myself to get through a week just to check off the "I tried" box. I'm so glad I did.


Second, I started volunteering with kids ministry. I'm with the second and third graders and they're an absolute blast. They're so fun, and full of life and love and giggles. I love getting to live life through their eyes for the two hours or so that I'm with them. Everything is goofy and light.


Nesting


These next two may sound a bit stupid, but my quality of life has gone up tremendously because I've finally been able to put some effort into my spaces that's made them feel so much more me. First, I hung up some framed city maps of important places to me in my office. I've had my eye on these prints from Mapiful for MONTHS, and my refund money helped me finally pull the trigger. I'll post photos soon for you guys. I was holding out for awhile because I tend to get trigger happy with online purchases and while they're not breaking the bank, they were fairly expensive for prints. I still had to buy the frames and everything on top of it. I figured if I waited for a few months and still wanted them, I could justify getting them. And I am so glad that I waited!! Experiencing the joy of purchasing quality pieces that you know you'll love FOREVER vastly outweighs the impulse shopping that I historically have done.


I also bought this lamp for my bedroom that is not very fancy and not very exciting, but it's made my room so much cozier and more inviting. It's just a baby $25 Target lamp that I saw for sale on an end cap.


I absolutely love snuggling up in bed and reading in there right when I wake up and right before I sleep now. It's a little slice of heaven.


So that's where I'll wrap up my slightly-longer-than-necessary deep dive into last month. It's not an apology for missing blog posts, but a celebration of the life I lived off-screen. I usually am not that excited about March as a month, but I think the optimism of a fresh start is really kicking me into gear.


The 1st of every month is when I typically review my financials, and that seems like it's going to be a party this go around.


Until next week!

- H