Our student loan debt is literally keeping me up at night. 

Ever since Danny graduated, we have been feeling the crippling weight of our student loans. I feel the greatest effects late at night, usually around 2:00 or 3:00 am. I guess that is technically the morning. I toss and I turn and then I toss and turn some more. I cannot stop seeing the number $599,464. I cannot hide from it, not even behind the safety of closed eye lids and my fluffy down comforter.

It bleeds over into our family relationship. Stress encourages us to be more curt with each other and with little M. We zone out into our TV shows or phones, or whatever, to not have to deal with it or talk about it.

And I don’t think these feelings of stress are limited to us. According to Forbes, there is plenty of research that backs up the link between stress and depression with student loan debt. Student loan debt stress is robbing many young adults from enjoying their prime of life.

This is not healthy.

As such, it has gotten me thinking. We need coping mechanisms to deal with the crushing weight of our debt. 

Stress from student loan debt just feels different than other stress we have felt. Maybe it is because we know that the only escape from it is based on our own efforts. It is up to us to earn enough to pay it off. There is no discharging student loan debt. There is no filing bankruptcy. Even if we  had chosen “loan forgiveness” we would still be paying the amount we took out over time, plus we would be taxed on the forgiven portion.

But all is not lost. Eventually we will pay this off, hopefully sooner than later.

In the mean time, I have compiled a list of strategies that I have used when dealing with all different kinds of stress and have found that they are working just as well for managing our student loan debt stress.

6 WAYS TO COPE WITH STUDENT LOAN DEBT STRESS (or any other kind of stress for that matter). 

  1. Create a plan

The first step to managing stress from student loan debt is to create a plan to get rid of your debt. This will help you gain control over your situation. Feeling in control helps us feel less stressed. If you need ideas for how you will take control of your debt, check out our master plan HERE, or feel free to click through our student loan help menu.

Your plan might be to pay off the debt as quickly as possible. Honestly, if the stress of your student loans is keeping you up at night, that is probably the best choice for you for your own mental health. This will likely include refinancing your student loans at a lower interest rate.

You might choose an income based repayment plan. You will need to come up with a strategy to be able to pay the hefty amount you will be taxed the year it will be forgiven.

If your interest rates and debt load are not too high, it might make more sense to choose a standard repayment plan and make the minimum payments on it for ten years, while investing in your own retirement.

Sit down and choose a plan that seems right for you. You will be surprised how much stress this will relieve!

  1. Review and follow your plan.

There will be people who will question your pay off strategy. There will be temptations to spend money or do things that do not fit within your goals. This will inevitably add stress into your life. So frequently review your plan, and stick to it. Be honest with and good to yourself, and don’t worry too much about what other people are doing. You chose your plan for a reason. Remind yourself of that reason and stick to it.

  1. Exercise, eat right, and sleep.

There is a reason we have heard this advice 500 million times in various contexts throughout all of time. That reason is because these principles work.

According to the ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America), physical activity is well known to reduce stress. Do some yoga, go on a run, pump some iron at the gym. You will feel  better.

There is plenty of research that also backs up eating healthy to reduce stress. This one feels counter intuitive for me. I always think that stuffing my face with the whole pan of brownies will help me feel less stressed. It never works. In fact, it makes my body feel more stressed. So do yourself a favor, and grab an apple next time.

Finally, just go to sleep. I can attest, this is easier said than done. Huffington Post has an excellent list of 15 things you can do to help yourself fall asleep and stay asleep.

  1. Do not add more debt.

Now is not the time to buy a fancy new car. It is not likely the time to go on an extravagant vacation or buy a whole new wardrobe. Save those things for when you are out of debt. That day is coming. Spending more money is not going to make you feel better. But it is going to make you feel worse, so don’t do it.

  1. Practice breathing techniques

I first started practicing breathing techniques when I was preparing for M’s birth using Hypnobabies. I was feeling a lot of stress at the time being pregnant and in my third year of law school, applying for jobs and trying to keep my grade point average up. This technique alleviated so much stress in my pregnancy. In fact, people often commented about how calm I was about everything. Feelings of peace and calm permeated my life because of this technique.

Then, when I was at the police academy almost a year later, I was reminded of these breathing techniques to manage stress in high pressure situations. That’s right. You learn how to breathe at the police academy. This is not baloney. It really works. Plus its free ok? So just try it. (But seriously, it decreases your heart rate and blood pressure, and helps your muscles relax).

Start by:

  • Sitting or lying down if you can. Standing works too. Allow yourself to feel like you are sinking into the floor.
  • Inhale. Allow your breath to go as deep into your stomach as possible. Breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth.
  • Count steadily from one to five as you inhale. You may not be able to reach five at first.
  • Then, without pausing or holding your breath, let it flow out gently, counting from one to five again.
  • Repeat for 3-5 minutes.
  1. Confide in someone else.

Talking to someone about the stress you are feeling is one of the most efficient ways to manage stress. “Expressing what you’re going through can be very cathartic, even if there’s nothing you can do to alter the stressful situation.” In fact, it is the feeling of safety when we express ourselves that  helps alleviate our stress. Your nervous system perceives that safety, and as a result, your feelings of stress decrease. Build relationships with the people around you, so that you can confide in each other.

Want our full stress management list? Subscribe to our FREE newsletter to gain access to six more techniques we are using. Plus you will get all the juicy details of our budget, and money saving hacks.

Do you feel stress over your student loan debt? How do you cope with it?


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Thirteen years ago, times were much more simple. Donald Trump had just landed his first reality tv gig with The Apprentice (his second being his presidential campaign, ’cause did you see the most recent Presidential debate?) America was still united in the aftermath of 9/11. I had just started the eleventh grade. I lived with my parents who paid for my food and the roof over my head. Why didn’t I understand how sweet life was at this age? Meanwhile Danny was just getting settled into his college dorm as a freshmen, the remnants of the blonde tips in his hair and a puka shell necklace tucked safely away in his desk drawer.

Like I said, times were simple. We had no idea where we would be just a quick decade later, happily married, but drowning in nearly $600k in student loan debt.

When it comes to student loans, there are many things we wish we understood as we started down our paths that led us not only to each other (we met in college) but to becoming a dentist (Danny) and a lawyer (Amber). As such, it has behooved us to compile a list of things we wish we had known about student loans, so that it might benefit you, dear reader.

Here are some things we just flat out did not understand before our journey commenced.

1) How will I pay for school? 

Ideally this is a question that should be answered long before one embarks on the trip that is higher education. But it can  be reviewed and you can carefully reconstruct your situation for the better while you are still in school, and even afterwards, if you took out student loans.

  • Get lucky and have someone else pay for it.

Obviously, this will be entirely out of your control. There are a fortunate set of people whose parents/relatives  were able to save enough so that their kids could go to college. Danny was one of these lucky ones during his undergraduate years. It really is a huge help if you have someone financing your education. Be grateful and be gracious. If you are a lucky soul who has parents or a person close to you that has offered to pay for school, take them up on it! Do, however, understand that nothing in life is free. What I mean is, they might feel entitled to inquire about your classes, major, grades and anything else tangentially related to school. They are likely right in doing so, after all, you are their investment and they want to make sure they are getting their money’s worth.

  • Get a job AND create a plan so that you can pay for it.

Work before you start college, during college, and during summers in between semesters. We both started working in high school, after school and in the summers. While working is good, we both went wrong by not setting a budget. I think we both vaguely thought we were working so that we could save for higher education. Neither of us had a real plan about how much money we should be saving per month so that we could actually accomplish that goal. I have always loved saving money, and I did a pretty good job given that I had no plan or budget. But I also exercised almost no restraint in using my hard earned dollars, mostly on entertainment and new clothes. I was proud of myself for being so young (14) and being able to pay for things myself. I should have created a plan to target how I was going to pay for school. I probably could have budgeted enough to use for both entertainment and college savings, because I had time on my side then.

If you have already gone through school, all is not lost. Sit down and set some goals. Do you want to pay your loans off quickly? Do you want to save for retirement? Do you want to invest in real estate? Create a plan so that your money is targeted. Our good ole’ boy Dave Ramsey said it best in The Total Money Makeover, control your money or it will control you!

  • Earn a scholarship.

The best thing you can do with your time in school is focus on your academics and/or a sport that will earn you a scholarship. If I had chosen to apply myself harder at school instead of focusing on my job, there is a  good chance I could have qualified for a scholarship. I could have worked in the summers for extra money, but while I was in school, I should have focused on school. I wish I’d had someone explain that to me at the time because I flat out just did not think of it that way then.

  • Search for grants.

This is another very underutilized mechanism to pay for school. Find out if you qualify for a grant, like a  a pell grant. USA Today reported that a whopping $2.9 billion of federal grant money was unclaimed last year. Insane. Grant money is money that you don’t ever have to pay back. The U.S. federal government offers:

There are also hundreds of other grants you can find online, starting with websites like which lists more than 100 kinds of grants. Look into it, its well worth your time.

  • Take out student loans. 

If all else fails, you can always take out student loans. The best way to do it is to take out all the federal loans that you can first, and then if you still need more, take out private loans. Federal loans provide more options and protections than private loans. For example, you may qualify for subsidized federal loans, meaning the federal government will not start charging you interest on your loans until six months after you graduate. Private loans generally start charging interest as soon as you receive the loan. You may notice that some private loan companies will actually charge less interest than a federal loan. That is understandably appealing. The best approach would be to take out federal student loans, and then after you have secured a job and understand where your finances are when you are done with school, you can refinance your student loans with a private company (like SoFi or CommonBond— p.s. earn $100 towards your loans using this link).

This begs the next question,

2) There are a million different kinds of student loans. How do I know which ones are best for me? 

There really aren’t a million different kinds of loans, even though it feels that way. People call the same loans a million different things and that makes it confusing. There are two kinds– federal student loans and private student loans. Federal loans are divided into direct subsidized loans, direct unsubsized loans, plus loans, and perkins loans. Private loans are simply private loans.

Direct subsidized loans: are available for undergraduate students who have demonstrated financial need. They usually have a low interest rate (less than 5%) and you are usually not charged interest until the end of your “grace period” (6 months after you end school). The United States Department of Education is your lender, and they usually contract out your loan to a private company, who will service the loan for you (but all of the terms of your loan remain the same, and its still considered a federal loan after this happens).

Direct unsubsidized loans: are available for BOTH undergraduate and graduate students. The two biggest differences between subsidized and unsubsidized loans is that 1) interest begins accruing as soon as the loan is dispersed to you, and 2) graduate students are typically charged a higher interest rate. You do not have to demonstrate a financial need to qualify for this kind of loan. (That makes sense because you are not receiving an interest subsidy). The best thing you can do for yourself is try to pay this interest while you are still in school.

Direct Plus loans: these can be called “grad plus” or “parent” loans. If you are a graduate student, you do not need a parent, and your loan is considered a grad plus loan. If you are seeking a parent loan, your parent will have to cosign in order for you to qualify and he or she must not have an adverse credit history. If you are seeking a grad plus loan, you must not have an adverse credit history.

Interest on a plus loan will be the highest you can pay among the federal student loan options, so it is definitely a loan to take out only if you are maxed out and do not have any more direct federal loan options.

Federal Perkins loans: a Perkins loan is a federal loan that has a 5% fixed interest rate. It is offered to students who demonstrate exceptional financial need. The school you attend is the lender of this loan, instead of the U.S. Department of Education. Only about 1800 schools participate in this kind of loan.

Private loan: a private loan will be issued by a private lender, such as Wellsfargo, SoFi, CommonBond, etc etc. Generally, interest on these loans begins accruing as soon as the loan is dispersed. Some companies will allow you a deferment period (though interest is usually still accruing) if you fall on hard times. Obviously, you lose a lot of the protections and options that you have under the federal loans (like income based repayment, etc). Most often, these loans offer competitive interest rates.

But what about…

Sallie Mae: the simple version is this– a Sallie Mae loan is just a kind of private loan. That is really all you need to know, even if you end up taking one out.

Is Sallie Mae different than  Fannie Mae? Are they friends? Actually.. they kind of are friends! We won’t get into it. Fannie Mae has to do with mortgages so don’t worry about that for now.

3) But what loans should I take out first? 

If you are an undergraduate student, take out everything you can using direct subsidized loans. (P.S. Did you know federal loan interest rates are currently at historic lows? According to anyway. So take advantage of that!)

Then if you still need more money, take out direct unsubsidized loans. If you still need more, take out direct PLUS loans. If you are still in a jam, you can take out private loans in addition to those. Do your best not to take out more than you need, interest is awfully beautiful. Awful if she is working against you and beautiful if she is working for you.

4) So…how do student loans work, generally? 

First, to apply for federal student loans you must fill out a FAFSA. After you fill out a FASFA, your school will notify you of the loans you qualify for, and will offer you a breakdown of those loans. You will choose which loans you want to accept. You will also specify how much of each loan you want to accept. You do NOT have to accept the full amounts of the loans offered to you. You should only accept whatever amount you need. (Create and stick to a budget– that is how you will know what you need!) You will be required to participate in entrance and exit interviews when you accept student loans. Overall, its frighteningly easy to get student loans.

5) How does student loan interest work? 

Interest is the price you pay in order to borrow money. Interest is a beautiful thing, if you are on the right side of it. Obviously, if you are taking out student loans, you are not on the right side of it. But, aspire to be on the other side of the interest equation some day.

For federal student loans Congress sets an arbitrary (in my opinion) number that becomes your interest rate on student loans each year. (Ok, they look at the financial market and set interest according to that. I am trying to be less snarky, and am withholding a snarky remark here, since our interest rate is 7.9% on some of our loans and I am bitter). This is compound interest, meaning, the interest is compounded onto the principal of your loan. Interest accrues daily.

So, lets break that down for my fellow non-mathematics majors. Say you take out a $30,000 unsubsidized federal loan with an interest rate of 5%. That 5% interest will be divided by the days of the year (365). Then multiplied by the amount of the loan ($30,000) to come up with your daily interest rate.

So, 5%/365 = 0.0001369 x $30,000 = $4.10(ish) in interest per day. (and seriously, please, if you are good at math, double check me and make sure I did it right)

Like I said, interest is an awfully beautiful thing, depending on which side of it you are on. Here it is just awful. also has a pretty good breakdown of this HERE.

6) When does interest begin to accrue?

If you have federal loans that are direct subsidized loans, interest does not begin accruing until six months after you graduate. If you have unsubsidized federal loans, or student loans with a private lender, interest begins accruing as soon as your loan is dispersed.

Be aware of capitalization. Interest accruing now means that in the end you are going to be paying more than what you took out over the life of your loan. This is one reason some people like to pay off their loans as quickly as possible, and also the reason that people often recommend making payments on your loans while you are still in school. It makes the interest gods happy, and your life after graduation happier.

7) What is the best approach to start making payments on my student loans? 

There are a million different strategies you could use to manage your student loans. It depends on a lot of factors, such as, how big your loans are (are they 6+ figures?), what your income is, what your projected income is, whether you have a job now, whether you are working in public service, the list goes on. We will dedicate a post of its own to several different strategies you might consider. If you are looking for help for your specific situation, we recommend Travis at Student Loan Planner. He created an AMAZING custom plan for us and ran a ton of different figures and outcomes for our unique situation.


What things do you wish you had known about student loans before you started school?


P.S. Know someone starting college or graduate school? Copy this link: What I Wish I Had Known About Student Loans to share this post with them!

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You’ve got a big brain chock-full of ideas, practically bursting at the seems, but the thought of actually running a blog is a little intimidating.

We felt the same way less than a year ago, before we started RED TWO GREEN. Since we started blogging, some of our friends have asked about setting up a blog, and expressed feeling too intimidated to try since they don’t speak computer. I get that. I don’t speak computer either.

Fear not friends! Setting up a blog is EASY.

We personally use BLUEHOST to host our website. When we first set up our blog, even being technologically illiterate, it took LESS THAN 10 MINUTES. I am convinced that if you are computer savvy enough to use basic social media, you are savvy enough to start and keep up with a blog. We’ve set out how you can get started in 5 easy steps: 

STEP 1: Click this banner below.

Then click “get started now” and choose your plan. They offer 3 plans: Starter, Plus, and Pro. For us, the starter plan was perfectly fine for starting out. You will likely need to upgrade as your blog grows (and it will!), so its up to you whether you want to take care of that now or later.


STEP 2: CHOOSE A DOMAIN NAME. Now its time to choose your domain name. This is something you might want to take a minute and choose wisely. Of course, you can always change it later, but a good domain name is necessary to make a good blog. You will also fill out some personal information at this point, but its quite easy and user friendly.

You can check the availability of your domain name here:


Then, you will choose a hosting package and other add-ons.

The more months you are willing to pay for your site upfront, the cheaper your blog will be.

Enter your billing info and congrats! You are now the owner of your domain name. I wish home ownership was so simple.


Now, you will install WordPress. Go directly to “hosting” on your account page and then click on “cpanel.” [Quick aside, your cpanel will be your go-to place while you are getting things set up and when you later need other things installed. So note that as you’ll need that later.] Scroll all the way down until you see “mojo marketplace” and then click on “one-click installs.” WordPress should be one of the top installs listed there. Click on “WordPress.” You will then be asked which domain you want to install– choose your name.

A new page will appear indicating that “you are almost there!”– under “Advanced Options” go ahead and type in the name of your site and set up your username, password, and email, then click “install now.”


Once WordPress is installed, you’ll be able to start posting. You can play around with whatever theme you want to use (you’ll be able to choose whether to purchase one or use a free one), play around with posting, how you want things to look, etc. Get after it so you can get your ideas out there and eventually start making money!

Honestly, BLUEHOST is so user friendly, I think you will find that you don’t even need this tutorial. It really walks you through it every step of the way.

What is setting you back from starting your blog or business?

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6 Ways We Save Money at the Grocery Store


  1. Check the clearance rack first.

The clearance rack at my local supermarket is off the hook. I routinely find name brand items marked HALF OFF. This week’s favorite find was diapers (Pamper’s and Huggies) that were half off. Combine that with a coupon and a Checkout51 offer and the savings are top notch.

Grocery stores tend to put the clearance rack near the check out, so you might not otherwise notice it until you are checking out. There have been several times where I have finished my regular grocery shopping, started to check out, and then I noticed something on the clearance rack that I was about to pay full price for. Since then, I have learned, always check the clearance rack first!

      2. Combine store sales with store coupons and manufacturer coupons.

There are PLENTY of extreme couponing blogs out there that will explain how to do a good job of maximizing your coupons. I started by using Southern Savers. It gives an excellent explanation of how to start couponing. The short version is this– you check your local ads for what sales are going on in your area that week. You find store coupons that match the items that are on sale. (For example, Walgreens has its own coupons in addition to manufacturer coupons. Walgreens has M&Ms on sale for $2.50. Walgreens also has its own store coupon $0.50 off of M&Ms. There is also a manufacturer coupon that is $1 off M&Ms. You take advantage of all three). Then, you go and find in your newspaper, or print off manufacturer coupons that also match the items on sale. So you are getting triple savings! (The store sale + store coupon + manufacturer coupon = triple savings). This will dramatically decrease your grocery bill if you are not already doing this. In fact, when we were in Miami and I learned how to coupon, it cut our grocery bill by about 66%!

      3. Calculate cents, not dollars.

Calculate the price per unit, not the price per item. The unit price is typically listed in the upper left hand corner of the item’s for sale price, like so:



Compare THAT number to other products’ unit prices, and you will know that you are getting the most bang for your buck. I have found that bulk is definitely NOT always better. Sometimes the unit price is actually cheaper for a smaller quantity. This becomes especially true if you are also shopping with coupons since you will be able to use a coupon on each (of the same) item. So, be leery of “family size” or other bulk sized items. Make sure the unit price makes sense first.

      4. Shop sales and stock up.

Only shop store sales (and price match where you can!). It is also a good idea to stock up on items during the sale.

Don’t assume that a budget store like Walmart or Aldi will be the cheapest. While budget stores can certainly be the cheapest option and they are certainly convenient, they rarely have sales. Other stores, on the other hand, routinely have sales at rates far cheaper than budget stores. And the same products repeat their sale typically about every six weeks. That means to score the best savings, you should purchase (stock up on) however much of the product that you will use within those six weeks. This will also help you only purchase items on your list, which in turn, saves you more money.

      5. Waste less.

Stop throwing away food after meals. Even if it is a TINY bit of left overs, save it. Freeze it. Save up the food over the course of a week or more, and you will have a full meal on your hands. It might not all go together. That is OK. Growing up, my friends mom would occasionally have a “multi-course” dinner, as she would call it. For each course, everyone got a few bites of some left over meal. That would go on and on until everyone was full or left overs were gone. She even did fun things like add a chocolate chip here or there for one of the courses to spice things up. Brilliant.

      6. Plan meals (and shop for ingredients that overlap). 

A quick browse of your local store ads (or a quick browse of someone else’s couponing blog who has already done the work for you) will show you what is on sale that week. Plan your menu according to what is on sale. For example, this week ground turkey was on sale at my local store. I cooked twice as much as I needed, and used it for two meals (picadillo and taco salad). Avocados, roma tomatoes, and tortilla chips were all on sale, so I paired them with one or both meals. Shopping this way will save  you both money and time… and time is money.

Happy shopping!

What hacks have you found for saving money at the grocery store?


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To you working moms out there, I feel for you.

To you stay at home moms, I feel for you.

Whatever situation you are in, whether you don’t have kids, chose to stay home, chose to work, or have to work based on circumstances, I hope you are happy. I hope you don’t feel judged.

The thing about motherhood is that we tend to project our own experiences, and what is right for us, onto other people.

I got pregnant with my first (and only) baby my third year of law school. The reactions I got from friends, family, and strangers were across the board. People offered support, excitement, condolences, said things like “oops,” but probably the most common reaction was this: BUT WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO???” 

Allow me to educate you on pregnant women, in case you were not aware. They do not need your comments on how huge they are. They do not need every horror story you have ever heard about birth complications especially involving the death of mother or baby. They do not need the pregnancy police monitoring every ounce of food of which they partake. Finally, and relevant to our discussion here, they do not need you to add more stress into their lives.

So with that framework, being asked what I was going to do every five seconds made me want to punch everyone in the face, all the time.

I just thought it was a dumb question. What do you think I am going to? I am going to push this baby out.

And then I’ll have a baby.

I will be a lawyer with a baby.

This is not the first time in history that it has happened.

Now that I am not pregnant and my hormones make me less psychotic, I can see that most people asking this question were coming from a good place– they were concerned. They wondered what they would do in the situation. They felt for me, for how hard the situation could be. And the truth is, it is a tough issue. It is one that I personally go back and forth on ALL THE TIME. Daily. Do I work? Do I stay home? I am told to both LEAN IN and RECLINE and it is confusing and all I know is that I want off the couch.

These are precious years of my son’s life that I will never get back. There is a level of love and understanding that I have for him that I do not believe someone who is not his mother will have for him. I cannot put a financial value on that.

But at the same time, we are burdened with debt. Not only that, but I feel like I would not be reaching my full potential if I missed out on my career. I know that is not true for everyone. Some mommas can reach their full potential and are wonderful at staying home. They have talents that thrive with the stay at home life. I find myself being jealous of these women– these are not my natural talents. By not working, I feel like I’m not fully developing the talents that I do have.

I, personally, have never been a “home-body.” In fact, I have a distinct distaste for being stuck at home. On days when I am not working, we are out doing things– running errands, playing at the park, picking out books at the library, etc. Indeed, you could say that one of my biggest fears in life (truly) is being bored. And for me, staying home full time just flat out seems boring. I feel guilty for admitting that. I am not bothered by anyone who finds joy in staying home. I understand that we were all born different, with different interests, and that is a good thing.

On the other hand, it grieves me to think of missing out on snuggles before nap time, soccer games, kissing boo-boos, watching his reaction when he goes to the aquarium for the first time, meeting up with friends for play dates, and all of the other things that working moms miss out on. I cringe at the thought of day care and all the germs and bad behaviors he will likely absorb there. I know he won’t get the attention he deserves, no matter how good the day care is. Because no one else will do as good of a job of it as me. It is just a fact.

I have toyed with the idea of staying home for a few years while my babies are young. I have not ruled this out. But its hard to imagine what I will be missing out on career wise if I have such a leave of absence.

I remember listening to an attorney who spoke at my law school during my first year. She was a mother, and she was a partner in a big law firm. Someone asked her about how she made her choice of whether or not to stay home, and her answer has played over in my mind a thousand times. She said Well, you are going to have to choose your tears. You are going to cry over missing out on a career and the people you could help, or you are going to cry over missing out on staying at home. So choose your tears.” And that is really how I have felt every day since becoming a mother. I have never been torn between two choices the way I am with motherhood and a career.

And here is another fact– I feel like a better mom when I work. I miss my son ALL DAY. Every chance I have I am looking at pictures of him, watching videos of him, reading articles on how to be a better mom. I don’t do that when I stay home. I don’t cherish it as much. I know that is not true for everyone. It is just my experience.

I took a “Sociology of Occupation” class during my undergraduate course work. The only thing I remember from that class was a study (I found a similar one HERE) that tended to show that the quantity of time parents spend with their kids did not result  in more positive outcomes for kids. What mattered was the quality of time that parents spent with their kids. (Quality time meaning doing things like reading with your child or otherwise engaging with the child one on one). That has given me a lot of comfort as I worked full time this last year. When I’m home, I am home. I give him my full attention.

In the end, I have to believe that these two things are not mutually exclusive.  I can be a good mother and a good attorney. I will have to make sacrifices in both areas. There may come a day when I miss a soccer game, or when I show up late to court because I was up with a sick child all night. But I will keep trying and keep fighting.

For me, for now, I will work. I will work because I get satisfaction out of helping people and solving problems. I will work because we are in a financial crisis with the amount of debt we have. I will work because it makes me appreciate my son and my husband more. I will work because it is part of who I am.

I feel strongly that I will be able to find jobs with flexible hours so that I can be there for my family. I can create a job like that.

And of course, this could all change at any given moment. Maybe tomorrow I will want to stay home. For now, I am going to go stare at my  son while he sleeps and soak in this time that is so fleeting.



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How We Made $3000 Selling Things Around the House

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Have you read the KonMari method of decluttering your home? (Get a copy here –> The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing)
The idea is simple. You go through your things, and for each thing, ask yourself, does it bring me joy? If not, you get rid of it. I love this idea in theory. In my real practical life, I can’t tell myself that I love M’s sippy cups, or pacifiers, or bottles, or many other baby things that fill up my house. They don’t really bring me joy. But I have to keep them. Because I have a toddler. Who does bring me joy. So I won’t get rid of him, or his things, Even though I hate most of his things.

Anyway, even though I can’t get rid of everything that doesn’t bring me joy, there is plenty of stuff that I found that I could get rid of! And the best part is, I didn’t just get rid of it. I sold it using our online local classifieds. (though if you don’t have classifieds online where you are, CraigslistAmazon, or eBay are all good options.) I like selling locally because I hate paying shipping, and for whatever reason, it seems impossible for me to get to USPS, FedEx, or whoever. Even though it should be easy. Hm.

We did not want to U-haul anything unnecessary when we moved. We still have a few things for sale that we had to cart here with us, but overall I’m pleased with our purging of goods.

5 Items we have recently sold:

  1. DSLR Camera: $375.00
  2. A small fraction of Danny’s dental school equipment: $1950.00
  3. An inflatable raft that technically belonged to Danny’s family: $200
  4. A multi purpose heat tool: $10
  5. A TV stand: $25 (we bought it used in our local classifieds for $10. We cleaned it up, used it for 4 years, and then sold it for $25!)


We actually still have a ton of stuff we are still in the process of selling. These things can take time, you know. When we started packing up to move, I really didn’t think we had much stuff we could sale– wrong-oh! We made nearly $3000 from stuff that was literally just sitting on our shelves! Granted, most people won’t have expensive dental equipment just hanging around, but I’d wager that you’d still be surprised what some of the things just sitting around your place are worth. So, I thought I’d share a couple of our tips for parting with your goods here.


  1. Create high quality images of your products, and take shots from several angles.
  2. Be honest. If there is anything (even a teeny tiny scratch!) wrong with your product, say so in your listing. Take a photo of it. This will build your credibility so people will trust you and be willing to buy your product.
  3. Be flexible. Be willing to wiggle a little on your price (the tv stand we sold above we had listed for $30. The lady drove to my neighborhood to pick it up. I wanted the sucker gone. I honestly would have given it to her for free. So when she wanted to negotiate on price, I was willing to come down a little. Be willing to meet people (if you are selling locally)– this is also a good safety measure so you don’t have strangers coming to your house.
  4. If you are using an online service, ask for ratings/reviews from your customers.
  5. If you are using an online service, SHIP YOUR ITEMS AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE.

What things have YOU sold online? Any tips for selling your things? Drop us a line!


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The Cost of Moving


Woo wee. Pardon our absence while we have been moving across the country and trying to get settled into our new (to us) place. The past week has been a whirlwind. We were really sad to leave our friends and family in Utah. It was harder than I imagined.

Moreover, it is more hot and humid in Tulsa than anticipated. I have described contractions during labor as feeling like the cruciatus curse. I now take that back, and describe having to run errands in the afternoon in Tulsa in 100 degrees with 100 percent humidity as the cruciatus curse. Despite the weather, we love our location where we are living. We are a stones throw away from a river with fun parks and biking trails, Trader Joe’s, and tons of fun cafes, restaurants, and shops.

Hey moving with a toddler is no joke it turns out. M is just as excited to throw things out of drawers and closets as I am excited to put them in. Both of his grandmas have spoiled him to death with lots of attention this past week. Danny’s mom flew M out here to Tulsa so he did not have to endure the 18 hour road trip which meant he got to spend a couple extra days at her house. My mom has been soaking up her time with M while we unpack. We are lucky. My feels go out to you moms and dads who do not have family nearby and somehow survive each day.

We calculated the cost of our move, including the cost of furnishing our new place. We quickly learned that stores like Home Depot and Lowes are giant time and money pits to be avoided:


Uhaul plus car towing dolly thing: -$967.00

Gas: -$264.94

Hotels: -$173.59

Furniture/stuff for house: $1070. This included items such as shelves, toy storage, j-hooks and other weird screws, a new doorbell, and blinds.

Total cost of moving (so far): -$2533.94

One thing we negotiated before deciding to accept Danny’s job was a small moving stipend. It was small, but it sure came in handy:


Our total out of pocket has been: $1533.94. (so far).

That could have been a nice trip back to Hawaii. But on the bright side, we did move far away from the mountains, lakes, and family to live in the middle of nowhere so there’s that. Hehe just kidding. Tulsa has actually been pretty rad. The people are SO nice and we love our little house. I guess if we had to offer some advice for moving it would be first– negotiate negotiate negotiate a moving package with your employer. Many bigger businesses offer these but often you have to ask! They won’t always be advertising their moving packages. Second– another big way we saved money was by being careful with eating out. On our whole drive, we just packed snacks to have in the car so that we didn’t stop for any fast food. Eating out can really blow up your budget quickly. And third– buy second hand home goods (like furniture, trinkets, etc) or shop at budget friendly stores.

Back to unpacking. Three cheers to hoping you and yours won’t have to move anytime soon! xo


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30 Jobs/Side Hustles We’ve Had


We loved GET RICH QUICK-ISH’s list of side hustles that he has done in his life so much that we made our own, since we have both had some pretty rad jobs over the years. In no particular order, here are 30 ways we have made money: (We’ll leave you to guess who did what)

  1. Car Washer. On two separate occasions in my life and at two separate businesses, I have been a car washer. One of those jobs paid more than I made as pharmacy technician. Which brings me to my next point,
  2. Pharmacy Technician. I literally counted pills for a living. My bffs in high school also worked there so it was more like giggling in a pharmacy box for 8 hours a day.
  3. Dish Washer. The best of the best. My parents did a brief stint selling Saladmaster dishware and would pay me to tag a long in high school to wash their dishes while they worked. I still despise washing Saladmaster. Why the heck do they make those things so dang hard to clean?
  4. Hamburger Flipper. And shake maker. And bus boy. Got paid to take shots of ice cream.
  5. Cashier At the ripe age of 14 I started working as a cashier in a pharmacy.
  6. Life guard. All through my summers in high school and college I worked at our tiny neighborhood pool. Since there were rarely people there, many days were spent laying out with my friends in the kiddie pool, watching movies and eating pizza in the lifeguard room, and launching water balloons over the pool fence. I’m a much better employee these days. But I still say this is the best job I’ve had.
  7. Luau waitress. I was the only blonde haired, blue eyed ambassador server (at the time) at the Polynesian Cultural Center
  8. Swim instructor. Most real swimmers I talk to are horrified that I taught swim lessons since I’ve never been on a swim team. I took the class needed to become a swim instructor. So I learned to swim so I could teach it. Good thing my clients were all like under 5. I can think of one who could swim better than me.
  9. Photographer. Currently doing this as a side hustle. Wish we could afford to do this full time. Hit us up if you need photos taken! Family, engagements, wedding, etc etc
  10. Sandwich Seller. I have a new passionate disregard for specific deli meats. And the smell of sandwich shops, generally.
  11. This blog(P.S. Start your own blog with our tutorial HERE.
  12. Pool Boy.
  13. Teaching Assistant. 
  14. Academic mentor. Got paid to help other law students not have mental break downs in law school. Very gratifying actually.
  15. Lawyer.
  16. Bailiff. I (Amber) went to 6 weeks of police training. Jealous. I’m still traumatized.
  17. Project manager. As a college student, I got paid to go around to different organizations at our university and point out what they were doing wrong. Nothing like earning money for fault finding! Its Stanley from the Office’s dream job come true.
  18. Research Assistant in Uganda. Traveled around Uganda interviewing a pygmy tribe (the Batwa) regarding their experience getting kicked off of their land by the government to create a national forest.
  19. English Teacher in China. Taught ages k-12 and loved every second. Didn’t speak a lick of Chinese at the time. Still ill from 80% of the things we ate there.
  20. Dentist. Finally.
  21. Babysitter. 
  22. Extreme Couponer. Maybe this doesn’t count as a job, but its certainly a side hustle. We started couponing when we lived in Miami since groceries were KILLING our budget. We have slashed our grocery costs in half by couponing.
  23. After school Counselor. I got paid to play games, go to the beach, eat snacks, and talk to kids about their problems.
  24. Telemarketer
  25. Refrigerator Stock-er. 7 hours a day of putting stuff on shelves in a frigid room with a bff.
  26. Gym Membership sales person. For about 30 days I sold gym memberships until I realized that I wanted to punch almost every guy that worked there in the face. At least I got a free gym membership! Worth it.
  27. Door to door sales (Don’t judge us. Also, don’t buy anything at your door, ever.) Probably 30% of the law suits I see in the district court I work in result from door to door sales since there are some prevalent companies that base out of Utah. We quit this job early because the sales tactics were so horrifying to us. So I say don’t judge us, but I guess I’m judging other people for doing it. What can I say, its my dream to be a judge.
  28. Mystery shopper. One of my favorite side hustles! We get paid to have our oil changed, go out to eat, etc etc. More details HERE if you are interested in getting started.
  29. Survey Taker. This will likely take its own post sometime. I’ll share my favorite companies to do surveys for.
  30. Janitor. Got paid to clean the gym after college basketball games. I lasted a solid 2 weeks.

What jobs have YOU had? We’d love to  hear from you!


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We are rethinking our REPAYE(ment) plan (see  HERE)

What we are doing now:

  1. First, we are going to forego our “grace” period and sign up for RE-PAYE.
  2. Then, when we can. we are refinancing with a private lender ASAP (which for us, might not be for 1-2 years until we pay more debt and have proof of income).

And here is why:

Not long ago we were contacted by Travis at Millennial Moola. He offered to crunch our numbers and make sure that we were choosing the right plan for us. We were stoked that his analysis was fairly consistent with what we had come up with on our own-ish (using Google and chatting with similarly situated friends). It took us roughly 6 months of considering what we would do. We talked with school counselors and Danny’s lender (the entity that his federal loans were sent to).  While the school counselors and the folks at his lending company are all likely well meaning, none of them seemed to know as much as we knew. And we don’t really know that much. That was concerning. Their advice was frankly inconsistent with what we learned on our own. That did not make us feel confident since they should be the “experts.” Enter Travis: he’s a former bond trader and debt hater. He asked us some personal questions and ran our numbers and explained why we should be doing what we are doing. You can view the analysis HERE. If you want him to crunch your numbers, he totally will. It is well worth your time (and small fee) as it could save you literally hundreds of thousand$.

Why we chose to sign up for REPAYE instead of PAYE: since our loans are graduate loans, we don’t qualify for the interest subsidy offered under PAYE. Under REPAYE, we get a 50% interest subsidy (aka negative amortization). REPAYE would be a terrible option (read most expensive option) for us if we were planning to stay on REPAYE for the life of our loan. We are not. We will get the heck out of it as soon as we are able to refinance at a good rate. When we called to talk to our loan servicer, they pushed us hard to choose PAYE and to stay in it. We already knew there was basically not a chance we were willing to stick out an income based repayment plan since you are taxed on the remaining balance of your loan the year it is forgiven. For us, that would mean the government would basically add $650,000 to our earnings the year our loan was forgiven. We’d likely be taxed in the 50% tax bracket that year. Travis said it best:

With the PAYE plan that they recommended, you’d have a $650,000 one time income boost in 2036 that you’d owe about 50% in taxes on. If 62% of Americans don’t have $500 in emergency savings, they sure as heck don’t have $325,000. – Travis @ Millennial Moola.

So that is where we are at. We are planning to start knocking out our loans and want to get them paid off as quickly as we can. We have a goal of paying them off within 5 years after Danny graduates. We occasionally feel overwhelmed by that goal, especially since I currently earn $40,000 annually and Danny does not start working until the end of August. Our plan includes increasing my income (either getting a job with a private firm in Tulsa (aka not government work) or finding a better government job, side hustling, and having Danny start his career as a dentist. Hopefully by 2017 we will be able to start chipping away at this debt in a more significant way.

What is YOUR plan for paying of your student loans? Are you choosing an income based repayment plan? Are you choosing a standard plan? Do you have a plan?


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