First Class and Fire Escapes

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DSC04280Photo Credit: Noah Berg 

I was sitting in a St. Louis nail salon on a dreary day in March of 2010. I was in the middle of a pedicure when the call came through that jolted me so much that I ran out of the salon with bare, wet feet and escaped to my car so I was able to give every single ounce of my attention to the news I was about to receive. I also needed to be alone if said news wasn’t favorable and my dreams were crushed. I was about to learn whether I was hitting the job lottery or it was back to the job search,  applying for positions where I would work at a desk for an entire year in exchange for a week’s vacation.

On the line was the HR director from the company in which I had been interviewing, she informed me that….I. GOT. THE. JOB. I got the job. I GOT THE JOB. IGOTTHEJOB! This was not just any job, but a position that would take me around the world, twice, if I stuck around for a little while. I really had no idea what the role entailed, I only knew that I wanted it…badly.

The following month I went through two weeks of training at the company headquarters and on the final day I received my schedule, which I quickly learned that the first day of every month is a very big deal. On the first of each month, you wake up and find out where you’re heading the following month(s); destination, resort, and almost as important as destination, who you’re traveling with on these trips. It felt too good to be true. I couldn’t believe that I truly, after two weeks of office training, would be heading to London, St. Thomas, and Seoul (for weeks at a time), but it was very real and once I left that training room, I was only back in the office a few times per year to touch base with my manager for roughly thirty minutes at a time.

The next four years were a total blur and went by so quickly that, without photos, journals, and my blog,  I don’t think I would have retained half of the memories, as my life was a constant adrenaline rush and endorphine trip, full of international trips with new friends, client dinners at incredible restaurants, and countless complimentary spa treatments from hotels. Don’t let me fool you, the days were long, the travel exhausting, and sometimes the work, less than glamorous, but I’m a girl who can easily get lost in a daydream and I’ve learned to value balance,  because without it I would have had no appreciation and understanding of how lucky I truly was at that time and without Vegas, Orlando, and Dallas sprinkled in there, I would’t be where I am today, because I would have never left the road.

That was nine years ago and since then, I’ve had tons of people reach out to me by way of social media, asking what it is that allowed me to travel to incredible destinations and stay in top resorts around the world, at such a young age. Clearly, I was not an experienced professional at the ripe age of twenty five, yet I was flying in business class and experiencing the perks of a traveling executive. It was a dream and I want to share with you some inside information that will help you secure one of the most sought-after positions in a market and industry that most don’t even know exists.

How to Break into the Travel Industry

Yours in first class and fire escapes,

Brittany

 

One Hundred Guys, One Song

 

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I’m the type of girl who likes to be sad. I think it’s because I really don’t have much to be sad about, I’m slightly (very) dramatic, and…well, at times a little emotional. When I was ten years old I told my mother that when I died, which would be the result of something along the lines of a nationwide abduction/murder story, I wanted the women in my family to wear black mourning veils to my funeral and requested that Whitney Houston’s version of “I Will Always Love You”,  be played for all of my guests. I wrote this all down on paper and safely stored it in my desk, where it likely remains today. So…slightly…very…dramatic.

When I heard about the passing of Cranberries lead singer, Dolores O’Riordan, I decided to listen to a song that has carried me through many breakups with boyfriends and fake breakups with boys I wished were my boyfriends, and I can’t help but enjoy re-living the sadness and heavy emotion that “Linger” fills me with each time I listen.

I was on a trip last year with a man I met on Bumble, yes, I went on vacation with a man I had never met in person, but that story is for another day. While we were driving down the coast of southern California he asked me why all of my songs were so sad and I thought about it, and realized then, that yes, most of my music is really depressing, like seriously sad. It was something he asked me over the course of four days, “Why is she so sad in this song?”, “What happened to him?”, “Why is she so angry?”; he found my music to be terribly depressing, so we listened to Bruce Springsteen the second half of the trip. He was older.

A guy who I later ended up dating for many years, broke my heart the first go-round and I thought I would never love again. It wasn’t possible, my heart would never connect with another human on the same level. I listened to Linger so many times that a couple of years later when we spent NYE together in Colorado, we were in the kitchen with a group  of friends and he sorted my iTunes songs by the amount of times I listened to each song, Linger coming in at a shocking number 1, followed by Sheryl Crow’s, “My Favorite Mistake”. I was, first of all…MORTIFIED, and quickly dismissed it saying something like, “What? That’s bizarre. Who wants a shot?”.

Songs are personal. I HATE when I’m on a flight and people can see what I’m listening to, because lets be honest, the chances of me listening to Kendrick Lamar are much slimmer than the chances of me listening to Michael Bolton. There, I said it. Hair aside, Michael Bolton is an insanely talented singer and very good looking. Close your eyes and listen to, “Said I Loved You…But I Lied”, don’t think about some black and white music video from the nineties, with his hair blowing in the wind, just listen to his voice, the words. I digress.

Without further ado, I share with you, a compilation of my recent sad songs. Enjoy the heartache, drama queens:

The Saddest Playlist (in no particular order) 

Something-Julien Baker

Not Gonna Let You Walk Away-Lolo

Wicked Game-James Vincent McMorrow

Hold-Vera Blue

Coming Down- Dum Dum Girls

Carry You-TOMI

Never Be Like You-Flume, Kai

Small Infinity-Whim

Bad at Love-Halsey

Oh Sarah-Sturgill Simpson

Only (RX Y)-Shashi Pratap Singh

The Days That Are to Come-John Vincent III

I’ll Let You Go-Jessica Allossery

Yellow Bird-Ben Stevenson

I Fall Apart-Post Malone

You Say-Dori Freeman

Slow Dancing in a Burning Room-John Mayer

Angela-The Lumineers

I Feel Cool-Lauren Ruth Ward

This Feeling-Alabama Shakes

Strong-London Grammar

Jolene-Ray LaMontagne

Oceans-Seafret

Skinny Love-Bon Iver

Slow It Down-The Lumineers

Wonderwall-Ryan Adams

 

Diamonds are Forever. So are Words​

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The holidays have passed and you’re getting back to life as you knew it, except for one little thing….you’re ENGAGED! There’s nothing more exciting than the engagement time leading up to your wedding. There are beautiful parties, countless toasts and speeches in your honor, and don’t forget endless excuses to spend a little (lot) on exciting additions to your wardrobe during this period, because, HELLO…you’re GETTING MARRIED; however, with all of the celebrating and fun, lets face it, there’s real work to be done. That work starts with your announcement, setting a date, choosing a destination and venue, creating your guest list, planning the details, and of course, getting into the best shape of your LIFE, and that doesn’t even include the wedding events (oye!). In addition to event planning, coordination, and execution, I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve added creative writing to my list of professional services. From engagement announcements to website content, printed materials, and thoughtful notes, I work with my clients to ensure we are telling a story that expresses their thoughts and captures their voice in a concise, cohesive, and clear manner. Your wedding communication will likely be the most important written material you’ll ever share with your friends and family (and the curious public!), so why not take the extra step to ensure your words set the proper tone when making your introduction, as a couple, to the world?

Creative services can be offered to clients based anywhere in the world. 

For information on creative services, please email: brittany@RusticandRefinedEvents.com

 

Bumble B: Dating in a Tech Savvy World

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Photography: Holly Estrow

After a recent breakup that left my heart with a hole the size of Texas, I realized it was time to get back in the saddle. A very wise girlfriend of mine reminded me of the saying that sometimes the best way to get over someone, is to get under someone else. Don’t worry, I would never do that, not on the first date anyway. Dad, I’m kidding.

After the official, official, finally official end (we had a hard time pulling the plug) it was back to the swiping board AKA dating applications. Lonely week nights that used to be filled with homemade dinners and Dateline, were spent swiping literally hundreds of faces of strangers, exploring conversations with five percent of said strangers, sending clever GIFS, and once even a full blown argument before we somehow still decided to meet for a drink and let me tell you, it was a doozy of a date.

For those of you who have never dated by way of cell phone, it’s bizarre. It’s human shopping, literally window shopping for a boyfriend, but if you’re like me and you work remotely all day and find it depressing to be at bars after dark, then you better put your shopping pants on…actually you don’t need pants, or a shirt for that matter, for this kind of dating, but the perks of dating from bed end right there.

You guys, dating by way of mobile applications is simply exhausting, let me tell you why:

Human Shopping

Swiping is similar to a running a marathon; you start slow and steady, carefully considering each and every profile, looking at pictures, making mental notes, reading each profile, maybe even going to their Instagram account to try to get a peek into their life and gauging whether or not you’d see yourself camping in Montana with he and his college friends or brunching with his visiting sister and her husband. After a while, you start getting tired, you lose steam and enthusiasm, and instead of slowing down, you speed up, and suddenly every face starts looking the same and you are completely overwhelmed, and you are swiping left as fast as you can without even glancing at who you are rejecting. You no longer care about a single person out there. Left to each and every one of you l.o.s.e.r.s. —> INSTAGRAM. FACEBOOK. OLD PHOTOS WITH EX. BACK TO BUMBLE WITH NEW HOPE AND FRESH DESIRE. This pattern typically happens two or three times per night.

It’s a Match!

Matching with people should be really exciting, it means you swiped right for him and he swiped right for you, but the truth is, instead of feeling excited, I often find that I match with someone and then look at their profile again, wonder why I even swiped right in the first place, and then I un-match. It’s okay, people do it to me too. It’s like when you’re at HomeGoods and you see something and you aren’t sure if you really even want it, but it might disappear, so you grab it before anyone else takes it and then you get home and you realize it doesn’t even match the credenza and so you quickly add it to the return pile in the office. Sigh.

Clever Conversation

If you think chemistry can be most easily detected when making out, you’re totally wrong, it’s texting. Online messaging is the ABSOLUTE fire extinguisher of any and all things chemistry and romance, which is great, because it would be a huge waste of time and makeup to meet up with a guy who lacks a fun personality. Boring people cannot, I repeat, cannot avoid detection online. If you have ever found yourself on a date with someone who lacks personality, it’s your own fault. Don’t go out with people who aren’t lighthearted, easy to talk to, and have an ability to display a personality online, chemistry now starts with a click. As I write this, I wonder if it’s possible that I’ve passed on some great guys simply because they aren’t good at expressing themselves via text. Damn it.

Hot (and obvious to every single person in the establishment) Date

It’s rare for me to ever get to this stage, partially because I can be lazy about getting ready for a stranger and partially because I feel I have an acute sense of chemistry and match potential, even online. You arrive at the restaurant and, luckily, you know exactly who it is because you’ve looked at multiple photos on the app as well as cyber-stalked their Instagram, FB, Linked in, and Black Tie Event photos, but there is absolutely no escaping the awkward in-person introduction, especially when the rest of the bar knows exactly what is going on, especially the bartenders. I typically speak a little too loudly, as though I am greeting an old best guy-friend, and then talk too much because apparently I’d rather ramble about nothing in particular than allow a single moment of silence. This is me: “Hiiiiiiiiiii, howwww areeeeee yewwwwwwww?! Oh my goshhhh, parking was a NIGHTMARE. UGH! Wow, this place is suuuuuper cute, the bar is always packkkkked. Did you hear about that restaurant around the corner going in? Oh my gosh, it’s supposed to be insane. SO! How are you?!”. Ugh.

Bumble Boyfriend

If it’s rare to go on an actual date, Bumble to boyfriend is like finding a Balenciaga clutch on the street and has only happened to me once (the beau, not the bag). TBH, I have only met up with six guys total, including my ex but not including the guy I met up with after I placed an add on Craigslist (platonic section, you judgers!) while spending seven lonely weeks working in London seven years ago, but I do know, based on feedback from friends that while you might get a couple of dates and makeouts in, not many lead to full blown, monogamous relationship status situations, more time killers until the real deal comes along.

Husband/Baby Daddy

TBD, but this did happen to the owner of my Bar Method studio and she and her man are tucking for life.

Bottom line, dating apps are strange, but they’re here and they introduce you to a whole new world of guys from the comfort of your cozy bed. If you approach the process casually, as though you’re seeking a friendship and not a fiancé, it’s a lot more fun and it eliminates the pressure of finding your soulmate. And who doesn’t love shopping from bed?

Yours in Guys and GIFS,

Brittany

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No Gift? No Problem.

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PC: @southern.detour

I love Christmas. I love cooking. I love the lights. I love entertaining. I love the tree. I love mulled wine. I love spending time with my family. I love celebrating with friends. I love the mistletoe. I love faux fur and opaque tights. I love any opportunity to celebrate with food, and drink, and loved ones. I love it all…all but the shopping. I really, really dislike the shopping. Sure it’s fun to watch someone open a gift you know they will absolutely love, a gift that you would have purchased regardless of the holiday because it’s just so…. perfect for that person. Sadly, five percent of the gifts I purchase are that special…maybe less. Most gifts from moi are purchased just days before the holiday and therefore typically involve a parking garage argument, messy store shelves, lengthy lines, a gift selected with more thought on GTHO (getting the hell out) and less on the recipient, oh and general misery. MISERY.

  So here we are, five days, one hundred and twenty hours, and seven thousand, two hundred minutes away from Christmas and I have zero gifts purchased. ZERO.

So what’s a girl or guy to do just days from the holiday and gift-less?  Let me enlighten you:

The Mall: Whatever you do, do NOT cave and go to the mall out of desperation. It’s a trap and feels like a good solution, but DON’T DO IT. The mall is a terrible idea and will ruin you for three days…honestly, you may never fully recover at this point so best to avoid it all-together.

Theme: Choose a theme or gift and get everyone the SAME thing, last year was the year of the Swell Bottle for my family and the year prior, lululemon. Find an single item or at least a single store where you can go online and make all of your purchases at once. Last year my nephew was only one, but some day he will use that lulu yoga mat I purchased for him. Whatever. DONE. Pass the eggnog.

Unique: Try to choose something that the recipient wouldn’t necessarily purchase for themselves or something they may not know about yet. I love receiving presents that I wouldn’t typically buy for myself or spend money on, for example; these Anthropology canapé plates…I probably wouldn’t buy them on my own since they don’t match the rest of my serveware and they’ll go out of style in a couple of years, but I would totally love and appreciate getting them as a gift, in fact I would fight dirty for these in a game of Rob Your Neighbor. Wait….I think I just figured out RYN…you buy a gift YOU want so you have a shot at really having it. Is that what everyone does??

 So what is this special gift that can be purchased for both men and women, the young and the old, is unique, inexpensive, and can be purchased online so you don’t have to step foot in a terrible, awful, crowded, messy mall next week? Well call me your Christmas angel because I’m here to tell you about the gift of twenty sixteen, the Wood Watch.

I had been looking for a new watch and wanted something that contrasted nicely with all of my silver, gold, dainty, feminine bracelets, something with a masculine undertone that wouldn’t make me look like a total fuss with bangles and jewels running up my arm. My watch arrived in the mail in a beautiful (and very heavy!) wooden case that made receiving it all the more special.

 For all of you who still need gifts, THIS IS IT. These watches are unique and quite frankly, blowing up, so may not be at this price point for very long. BTW: These watches, look amazing on men so if you like them on me, imagine a tan and toned, leathered, hairy armed man wearing this wood. Too much? Who cares.

Men’s Shop

Women’s Shop

Brittany’s Shop (aka my watch)

 As I said, call me your Christmas angel. Oh and don’t forget to place your purchase using one of the THREE links right above and you’ll be my Christmas angel.

JORD is offering FREE EXPRESS holiday shipping if you place your order by Wednesday at noon.

Merry Christmas Bunnies,

Brittany

This post was sponsored by JORD Wood Watches

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PC: @jessicarevill
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PC: @houseofsmilla
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PC: @bylookorbybook
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PC: @lavenderandlaundry


Watch Gift Ideas
//www.woodwatches.com/widget-article/vodkaandbirthdaycake/468/60

Happy Thirty First to My Uterus

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Photography: Noah Berg

I was a happy girl. Happily thirty one years old. Happy in my existing relationship. Happy to be selfishly focused on myself. Happy to live in my tiny overpriced apartment in Denver. Happy to have money to spend on expensive products and weekend trips with friends. Happy to be a proud auntie. Happy to be on my schedule. My. Own. Schedule. I didn’t even own a pet.

You know how in your early twenties you always assumed that by the time you were thirty you’d be married and have children? I know, I did too. I think that happens because thirty seems sooooo far away and marriage and children seem so…well a natural part of life. Thirty to a twenty year old is basically forty to a thirty year old and when I’m forty I fully intend to have three kids, a Range Rover, a country club membership, a professional grade kitchen in my home…and I’ll be even thinner than I am today, after those three children. God, I can’t wait until I’m forty.

Last summer after a four year relationship ended I found myself in Denver…in Denver as a single lady with a lot of married friends. And so I got on Tinder. Now, hold your horses, Nelly…I wasn’t getting on Tinder seeking love or even lust…I was simply seeking a platonic relationship with a guy who I could text early on a Saturday morning, “Wake up loser, we’re going to the farmers market”. All my guy friends in Denver were married to all my girlfriends and sometimes a girl needs a little less girl-talk and an ice cold beer. I was looking for a casual, laid back guy who would let me hit his world like a hurricane and wouldn’t be heartbroken when I finally met my financier, country clubbin’, three kid baby daddy. A friend. Who was a guy. Casual. Easy.

I was heading to Europe for about two weeks when I felt it was an appropriate time for me to start scouting out some guys, in fact, I was en route to Denver International Airport when I swiped for the first time, RIGHT. Fast forward 18 hours later, I landed in Rome and after a hot shower and three cups of Italian coffee, opened up the app and found that overnight I had several matches, ohhhweee. Over the next two weeks I had friendly conversations with guys in Denver and attempted  the same with guys in Italy, lost in translation is a real thing and sometimes its best just to be drunk in a nightclub making out when you literally can’t exchange words (speaking not of my time in Rome), I digress…

I’ll save my Tinder approach and several other stories of love, pre-date arguments, and GIFs for another post.

So I matched with a guy with whom I found easy to converse, totally boss-able, and a little sarcastic . He also had photos of himself fly fishing in Alaska which initially peaked my interest after I had previously found out that a guided fishing trip is upwards of $400 per day (bonus). The conversation started with, “Brett, how strong of a fisherman are you?”. After a while we played, “Name Your Pizza Toppings”, and found that we were truly compatible (pepperoni and mushroom), we set a date upon my arrival home from Europe; we met 24 hours later for oysters, prosecco, and pizza and the rest (sixteen months) is history. He was the perfect out-of-a-serious-relationship relationship. Forty one, never been married, no kids, owned his own company, chopped his own wood, smelled like whiskey, hand rolled cigarettes, and body odor, he was tough man with a gentle and thoughtful heart. Oh and he bought me waders on our first fishing trip in Vail and the friend zone ended right there.

About a week into knowing one another he invited me to his house to make me dinner and mid-steak grilling confessed nervously that he had something to share with me…he had a vasectomy. At the time I wasn’t sure how I felt so ended up brushing it off due to the fact that I couldn’t figure out why he felt the need to tell me something so personal when we weren’t even dating (I was friend-zoning him for a while, a very short while). He also opened the door that night without a shirt on. WITHOUT A SHIRT ON. I mean we had not even kissed at this point and the guy so brazenly receives me in his home with a bare chest? I think I said something along the lines of, “Oh, where’s your shirt?”, so although he quickly covered himself, things were progressing…rapidly.

Fast forward six months and I was in my annual at the gyno and casually talking to my nurse practitioner. My nurse practitioner, God, I wish we were friends…she’s just the coolest. I think she’s probably my mom’s age and I always look forward to that one time of year I get to see her, or maybe another UTI visit or something in-between, but a couple times a year. I always want to ask for her number, but realize everyone probably feels that way and I doubt Marsha wants to hang out with me so I keep it professional.

So Marsha and I are chatting and here is how our conversation unfolds:

Marsha: Soooooo, you still dating that one guy? With the vasectomy right?

Brittany: Oh yeah! Yeahhhhhh, we’re still dating…..

Marsha: How’s that going? That vasectomy is convenient, right?

Brittany: Oh my goshhhhhhh, tooootally…I KNOW.

Marsha: So do you think you want to have any kids?

Brittany: Welllllll….you know it’s SO funny you ask, Marsha, I was just talking to my best friend about this….you know how when you are younger you always just assume you’ll have kids and then now I am like at that AGE and I just don’t have the desire or see it today…it’s so weird.

Marsha: Ohhhhh yeah, well you do NOT have to have kids to have a fulfilling or purposeful life.

Brittany: Yeah…. THANK YOU. Totally…(in thought about if life really would be fulfilling and purposeful as an AFL, auntie for life)

Marsha: BUT Brittany, if there’s ANY chance you even THINK you might want a kid…you need to know by 33 and you MUST make up your mind by 35.

Brittany: Oh…really?

Marsha: Have you seen a fertility specialist yet?

Brittany: Pardon?

Marsha: You should book an appointment to talk about your options for freezing your eggs. I’ll give you a referral.

Marsha is a total bitch.

I was set up. I was made to feel comfortable, and accepted, and I didn’t deserve for my very own GIRLFRIEND (nurse practitioner) to throw my age in my FACE and treat me like I wasn’t twenty three years old, plus eight years. Like what was she trying to pull in there? The only thing I had ever thought about freezing was a bottle of Tito’s and Girl Scout Cookies.

Upon my departure from the doctor’s office I called my girlfriend and told her my horrifying story of my pregnancy firing squad and you guys…she told me it had JUST happened to her a month prior. I mean, granted she is one year older than me, but still…STILL. It just wasn’t the time for that conversation.

It didn’t take that long before I realized that although Marsha was being totally dramatic,  I guess it’s real thing that we have to think about and decide on, which is completely ridiculous. What if I simply don’t want to have a family for another twelve years? I don’t wake up and want to be married yet. I don’t wake up and want kids yet. I still feel like I am twenty three, okay twenty five, and although I’m so thankful to not feel stressed about marriage and family, I am starting to really stress over the fact that I am not stressing over marriage and family. Am I supposed to just have babies with someone who will simply suffice in the meantime if I even remotely think I want to have children? I don’t want that….it’s not the fairy-tale I envisioned. Is life not a fairy-tale?

W. T. F.

Yours in Sleeping In and Selfish Desires,

Brittany

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Growing (champ)Pains

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Photo Credit: Noah Berg Photography 

We all have our wild moments, some more than others. Some a lot more than others. I was somewhere in the middle leaning towards the “lot more than others” end of the spectrum. I’ve been like that since I was two. Just a little bit of a bad girl. Loving, but bad and then good once I got in trouble, and then bad again. Bad can be good if you have a heart of gold, which I do…sometimes.

They say children who misbehave often become successful later in life; my future was bright. When I was eighteen, Paris Hilton and Juicy Couture emerged on the scene, highlighting a life of glamour, excess, and leisure and it was then that I knew what I was meant to do in life, I wanted to be an heiress. What can I say? I was ambitious.

At twenty three and a half my dad stopped paying my rent, and he took away my credit card, and I very, very quickly realized that my income didn’t quite match my lifestyle, by a lot. My self centered mindset actually blamed my parents for providing me a wonderful childhood, to then to rip it all away from me?? How dare them! My life was nothing more than a tease! I finally understood what guys meant by the term blue balls. My parents blue balled me in life?!

I was frustrated and felt totally betrayed, and because of my immaturity, couldn’t see that my dad (it was really my mom) was thinking bigger picture and long term benefits, while my picture didn’t surpass the next music festival I was attending. Clearly, they wanted me on the streets.

I struggled for a few months (years), and by struggle I mean I was shopping at Nordstrom BP instead of Anthropology and went to happy hour three times per week instead of four, but struggle is relative, and deciding between rent and a handbag although obvious, were very difficult decisions for a young lady of twenty four.

And then I moved from a total perk, penny paying job, to another total perk, but better paying job, and I worked hard, I remained focused, I took myself and my work seriously, and before I knew it, I had my very first savings account, and my own money to travel, and making decisions around whether to spend my money on rent OR a handbag weren’t decisions I made, because when you have to choose between housing and a bag, you probably shouldn’t be paying for either…unless it’s a Celine Phantom and maybe then I would choose the handbag, but actually I wouldn’t and so my dreams of a boyfriend gifting it to me still play on at night (brett, click right here to buy this bag).

There are things I wish I had known, such as the importance of “rainy day” savings and an early start on a 401(k), but for the most part, what I learned and how I grew to respect and balance money came from having it, and then not having it, and then figuring out how to have it and hold onto it. Don’t let this post fool you, I’m still a twenty three year old, irresponsible, over living my means girl at heart, I just make more (not all) financial related decisions with my brain instead of my heart. Guys? Well I still haven’t mastered the art of those decisions just yet.

-Yours in Self Growth and Handbags

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