Change. Change is an inevitable experience that we all have gone, are going, and will go through. The change may be small, perhaps a new haircut or a change in lifestyle. Or, the change can be large and significant, such as the loss of a loved one, a career switch, or a move.
My most recent change is from college to career. I went from being a student at Clarke University to a financial marketer at Heartland Financial USA, Inc. I also went from living in the dorms (and home for the holidays) to my own one-bedroom apartment in downtown Dubuque. I went from having a roommate who is — and forever will be — my best friend to living alone with a deafening silence. At first, the change did not seem significant. It felt like I was working for the summer then going back to school this fall. But, it hit me today that I wouldn’t return to my second home and favorite place in the world. I am no longer a current Clarkie but instead an alumnus. And, while I still go to Clarke to workout and see my people, it just isn’t the same anymore. It’s all changed.
Instead of fighting change, we must embrace it — all of it. Fighting the inevitable will not stop it from happening; rather, it’ll make the transition harder. I am embracing my change. It’s tough, yes, because Clarke means more to me than people realize. It was where I found my family, my passions, my self. It was my life for four years and counting.
To my senior and junior friends at Clarke: Don’t wish the final moments at Clarke away. Yes, the stress sucks, the course load is overwhelming, and you “just want to graduate and do what you love.” But, don’t forget about the good times — the home athletic games, chatting with Mary Ellen, sitting in your dorm/apartment/place with your friends that have become your family. Take the good with the bad and embrace it all for your final year(s).
Along with the theme of Scotty McCreery’s song “Five More Minutes”: I wish I had just five more minutes as a current Clarkie. Trust me, you’ll feel the same way too, once you settle into the next phase of your life. As cliche as this whole post is, this just adds to it, but I really couldn’t care less because it’s the truth… and I embrace that I’m very cliche. In all, don’t let change get you down or instill fear in you. Change is good. Change allows you to grow into the person you’re meant to be.
With a price tag of $95, as well as $15 for shipping, the Asket Sweatshirt may seem like a preposterous purchase for many people. But, for some, this $110 sweatshirt is well worth it because of the quality, comfort, fit, and versatility.
I wanted the Asket Sweatshirt for two years, ever since I accidentally came across lifestyle bloggers and Instagram influencers sporting such a minimal yet extraordinary piece of clothing. But, with being in college and saving the little money I had, I just couldn’t bring myself to make the purchase. “When you graduate and get a full-time, well-paying job, then you can get it” I promised myself every time I found myself on asket.com looking at the sweatshirt.
Finally, after two years, I made the purchase at the end of June. I literally couldn’t wait another moment; I ordered it while laying on the couch… at 11:30 p.m…. minutes after my direct deposit hit. I slept well that night, knowing I would have this sweatshirt within days.
With only owning the sweatshirt for a little over a month, I’ve worn it more than I care to admit. With the many times I’ve worn it, I’ve made note of the top qualities I love about this sweatshirt. The first thing is the quality. The yarn is 100% Egyptian cotton, which gives the sweatshirt its softness and superior quality, among other things. This sweatshirt is made to last. It isn’t a fast-fashion piece of clothing made to last a year (if that); rather, it’ll stand the test of time for years to come. So, a $110 investment on a six- to seven-year return? I’ll take it. It’s warm, cozy, and makes for a perfect lazy day or up-and-at-em, non-stop-running day. I wear this sweatshirt on Sundays when I lounge around on the couch, as well as when I’m running errands around town.
The next thing that I cannot help but appreciate is the fit. It’s tailored yet relaxed. It provides a great silhouette and doesn’t have bulkiness around the hips and back, but it also doesn’t hug the body in an unflattering way. Asket has a unique fit system, of which there are fifteen sizes in total ranging from XS-XL for size and Short to Long for length. Mine is a Large-Short, but I think a Medium-Long would work just as well. The reasoning behind this: Are you a medium size-wise but need the length of a large? Then a Medium-Long would fit. Or, are you an XL in size but need a shorter length piece of clothing? An XL-Short would work! It’s not generic sizes in which you must pray they fit, but they really fit the clothing to you!
The final most notable quality is the versatility. This can be dressed down with some sweats and a baseball cap, dressed up with a dress shirt underneath and some nice chinos, or in-between with a baseball cap and chinos. The third is my go-to almost every day, but I literally rock all three every week. This all comes back to the minimalistic design: a simple gray sweatshirt. It doesn’t need to look extravagant or have a flashy brand to be great; no, it can be a simple gray sweatshirt, and it’ll be a staple in your wardrobe.
Care to check out Asket and even make a purchase of your own? They sell much more than a sweatshirt, including Oxfords and socks. Go to asket.com and welcome timelessness and minimalism into your lifestyle.
(I’m no way affiliated with Asket. They’re just a brand I advocate for. Not only for their clothing but their business and personal ethics.)
Money. The power behind this word is remarkable. Everything that happens in the world all comes back to money, and that is bizarre to think about. Everyone’s lives are controlled by how much money they have. For example, it determines if you can make that trip to Europe, afford an apartment, or replace your worn-down clothing. People make their business decisions — legal and illegal — based on the profitability. Some people even choose their college major and career based on how much they will earn. Hell, it even determines if people eat for the first time in days.
I have become more conscientious about finance and my own spending since kick-starting my career in Finacial Marketing. This all started a few months back after I landed my first big-boy job; moved into my own place; and started getting a steady income, as well as bills to pay. I began by comparing my bills, student loans payments, food budget, and miscellaneous purchases to my income. The plan was simple: Ensure I had more money coming in than going out. Luckily, and thankfully, I understand budgeting to the degree that my income trumps my spending.
A quick little background on me as to why finance is something I am interested in, why I am writing about it right now, and why I started a career in the financial sector. I was unfortunate — but also fortunate — enough to not come from money. My family and I had financial issues, but we managed to make ends meet. I even began my first job at 12 years old so I could help in any way to pay for food, bills, gas, etc. I didn’t get the luxuries other kids my age were getting. We never went on vacation or got most of what we wanted. But, we had a roof over our heads, food in our kitchen, and a healthy amount of love for one another. We were not rich in wealth, but we were rich in other ways. (The fact we even own a home, cars, clothes, and food does make us more wealthy than half the world, I know.)
Now, don’t confuse the above paragraph with me complaining about how I was raised. I am beyond thankful growing up with just enough money to survive because it forced me to develop an impeccable work ethic, allowed me to value other things beyond money, and showed me how to be wise with my wealth so that I could live comfortably. My experience without money allows me to appreciate my current life with (some) money.
And, this leads me to what this blog is about. People don’t recognize they are developing or have bad spending habits that will cripple them in the long-run. All too often I hear people mention how they have no money to even buy groceries or a snack from the convenient store. How they are living paycheck to paycheck, praying they make it through the month. And, it saddens me because I know they’re not truly living or experiencing life to the fullest. They’re forced to allow their financial situation to control their lives.
No one should live a life in which the lack of money forces them to make sacrifices… no matter how big or small the sacrifice is. Money should be part of our lives and used to enhance it, not ruin it. Now, hold up, before I go any further, I just want to say that I am no money guru who has it all figured out. I don’t have a degree in finance or some crazy knowledge of money management. However, I think I have a solid grasp on my finances and am consciousness and aware of my spending, which allowed me to create a strong financial foundation at 22. I have a solid saving, can and am making all my bill payments, already have my 401(k) started, and have enough left over to splurge time and again. I would say I am financially stable. Also, I want to state that I am not bashing or shaming others who are struggling financially. Life is tough and money will be slim at times. We all have been or will be there.
The whole intent behind this post, as all-over-the-place it seems right now, is to get you to think about your financial situation, as well as to contemplate if there are things you can do differently to improve your financial stability. For those who are well-off and flourishing financially, I tip my hat to you. But, you can still be part of the conversation. You can shed some light on the topic and perhaps offer your own advice to those who need it. Because, even if no one will admit it, people would love the advice. I know I am ALL ears to ways in which I can improve my situation further than it is, even though I would say I am doing a good job currently. There are others who are older, wiser, and more financially experienced than me that could offer guidance.
Which leads to my closing. I want to offer my own advice to those who need it. While they are simple, they make an impact and can really help steer you in the right direction. My first piece of advice: Budget like no other. All my financial successes and stability are because I budget. A few weeks ago I downloaded this nifty app called Mint. Mint is a free budgeting app which allows you to link your bank account(s), utilities, and other services so that they are all in the same place. It will show you your spending week by week; let you know when you have an upcoming payment/deposit and how much that’ll be; notify you when you are over-budget on food, gas, going out to eat, clothing, etc.; and much more. It is such a valuable asset I think everyone should utilize. There are many other apps out there, but I personally like Mint.
Another piece of advice I have is to follow the 30-Day Rule. This rule is simple and allows you to combat impulse spending. Whenever you feel the urge to make a purchase (not including necessities like food, gas, toiletries) avoid making the purchase for 30 days. This allows you to sit with the thought of purchasing it, which lets you think about why you want it, if you need it, what are the pros and cons of getting it. Is this something you actually want or just an impulse buy? After 30 days of thinking about it, you make the decision. If you still want it and can afford it, get it. But, odds are you don’t want it anymore. You can read the full-flesh explanation about this rule here. It really is something to try. It has helped me save SO much money, especially when I go into Target or TJ Maxx. Nine out of 10 times, I don’t want the item.
The final piece of advice: be open to criticism, knowledge, and growth. Like I mentioned earlier, there are SO many others who have a better grasp on this subject than me, and I always listen to their advice or criticism with full ears. Yes, my initial reaction may be to get defensive. “Oh, this is BS. They don’t know what they are talking about” becomes “Well, they had an excellent point” real quick. Also, I absorb as much as I can on finance. Whether it is a book, an article, or even a TV show, I suck it all in and allow it to digest. Every little thing helps me grow my financial wisdom and understanding. And, just for funsies, here are three finance books I plan to read: The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsay, I Will Teach You to be Rich by Ramit Sethi, and Unshakable by Tony Robins. These are books that helped a YouTuber/photographer/podcaster I follow to pay off his $97,000 student loans in four years. Check out his video here. In all, I know I have much to learn and kinks in the armor to fix. I will get there with constant guidance and criticism and growth.
In the words of Robert J. Shiller, “Finance is not merely about making money. It’s about achieving our deep goals and protecting the fruits of our labor. It’s about stewardship and, therefore, about achieving the good society.”
I have become a full-fledged adult since my last blog post. I have a college degree; my own apartment; and a full-time, big-boy job. Since I have been quiet lately, I thought for those who 1) read these and 2) care what I write about would be interested in knowing where I am in life.
And, I have been approached by several people telling me how much they love my blog and read every single one. Some of these people I haven’t seen in years or barely know. Honestly, it is humbling to hear these comments from people, and it definitely reminds me why I do this. I wanted to get back into blogging officially and permanently because of those people.
Moving beyond the sappiness above, here is an update on Kyle Majerus’s life.
I FINALLY GRADUATED COLLEGE. After four long years of intense stress and rigorous work, I graduated from Clarke University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and a minor in business administration. I will be honest, there was a three-week period in March in which I didn’t think I was going to pass my English capstone (senior thesis and presentation) because I had to re-write my paper three times (20-25 pages each time, mind you…).
BUT, I DID IT. I graduated magna cum laude, as well as with the highest honor bestowed upon a Clarke graduating senior, the Francis J. O’Connor Memorial Award.
Now, I am taking a break from school for a few years. However, I have full intentions of returning for a Master of Business Administration in either marketing or entrepreneurship.
I know, I know, for over a year I wrote how I was moving to Chicago right away upon graduation. I even went so far as to interview for a manager position out there. However, after speaking with professors who lived there for years and friends from there, I knew I couldn’t support myself with an entry-level job. Making ~$40,000 a year does not cover paying rent for a 300 sq. ft. studio apartment that costs ~$800/month, utilities, various bills, and student loans. I was honest with myself and told myself that once I get a few years of experience under my belt, I can get an upper-level job and support myself while living in that beautiful city.
Besides, I seriously love Dubuque. And, for those who haven’t visited or been here in a while, the downtown area is seriously stepping it up. The main street has unique shops; the library is outstanding; the Millwork District is breath-taking with shops, aesthetics, architecture, and apartments; the farmers’ market is incredible and quite large; and many other factors make Dubuque downtown an outstanding location. My apartment is in downtown Dubuque, but not in the Millwork District, sadly. That would have cost $1,200/month… yeah, I am good. I totally would have if I had a roommate, but there are only three people I would live with — two live in Chicago and one refused, haha.
But, I love my one-bedroom apartment. It is so cozy and screams “Kyle!” I won’t describe it to you; rather, I prefer the old saying “A picture is worth 1,000 words.” Well, here are 7,000 words.
P.S. My plant is named Vincent.
P.P.S. My apartment is not complete yet. I still have a few more pieces of furniture to get. So, updates to follow in the future!
P.P.P.S. The natural light is AMAZING in this apartment when the blinds are open. Oh, my Lord, it is my favorite things about this apartment.
I got the opportunity for a unique experience at Heartland Financial USA Inc. here in Dubuque. I am going through a marketing management trainee program, which they call their marketing academy. I am a full-time employee, not an intern, FYI. I will work in the marketing department as a whole, such as digital marketing, analytics, product development, and sales support. The intention of this program is to 1) make me a well-rounded marketer and 2) train me to become a marketing manager. Instead of working in one specific area, like copywriting, I get to experience the full range of marketing! I am on week three, and I absolutely love it. The work I do is empowering and important.
Oh, and I am a living testament that 1) Liberal Arts degrees are extremely useful in the “real world” and 2) Liberal Arts graduates can work in the business world. For those who are worried about their major and if they are employable: yes, you are. It goes beyond the degree you have. It is about the skills, experiences, and grit that you have. So, make sure you are interning and getting involved in professional development any way you can!
Finally, I can live my life the way I want to again. College impeded me because I was always bombarded with schoolwork, extracurriculars, and work. Presently, I work, and once I get off, my life is my life. I can do the things I love to do again.
Beyond what I do with my life, I decided to go deeper with how I live my life and commit even more to the minimalist lifestyle. As you can tell from my apartment photos, I really do not have much beyond the basics. And, that was my intention. I don’t need much to be happy, so I simply want what I need. After graduation, I went through everything I owned, and I think I threw away over 75% of my stuff. They just did not bring me happiness or have a use anymore. I desire quality over quantity. Yes, this means I may spend double on a pair on chinos, a sweater, etc. But, these items will last, at least, three times as long, if not longer than the cheaper options.
For example, for the past two years, I wanted this simple gray sweater from Asket. (Yes, for two years I have contemplated buying it.) Yes, it comes with a high price tag, but the quality is worth it. And, I know it’ll last for several years. So, would I rather have a $30 H&M or Target sweater that lasts one year or the $95 Asket sweater that lasts five? Yeah, in the grand scheme of things, the latter is the best option. I think I am going to finally pull the trigger on this sweater next week, I think after two years of contemplating it, I should get it.
Trying to move beyond the materialistic lifestyle is something I am still working on. I still want things I don’t need, surely. But, I will force myself to think about the item(s) for a minimum of two weeks before I make the purchase. And, after weighing the decision and if the desire is still strong, then I know it (they) is (are) something I really do want and need.
Am I or will I become an extreme minimalist? Goodness, no. That is going too far and a bit ridiculous. I will be minimal in most areas of my life, but I still will own some things I do not need or have a bit too much of. I am human.
In all, life is good, everyone. All the pieces have fallen into place nicely. Will this be my life forever? No. Will I move around, move up in the professional world, and change aspects of my lifestyle? Yes. Because that is what growing as a person does.
I hope life has been treating you as well as it has been treating me. (I will pass my last semester of courses, so I graduate college mid-May with my Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and minor in business administration!!! And, I have job interviews coming up! Life is just going great, okay?)
Anyway, I have a different type of blog for you all today. This blog post is actually a review of a review. A member of reviews.com reached out to me to write a post about their smartwatch review post — which you may read here. They read my review about my Apple Watch, and they thought I could provide my thoughts on their smartwatch review post.
It is pretty cool to have others want your opinion on their work because they value your opinion and enjoy your blog. It was pretty empowering, and it reminded me why I love to blog so much.
In terms of their post, I loved it. They provide a fully fleshed out review about the Apple Watch Series 3 GPS, the Samsung Gear Sport, and the Fossil Q Venture. They discuss the watches’ features, design, navigability, and switchable bands. They get into the specifics about every detail, down to the time it takes each watch to notify you about a phone call.
Even though they focus on these three watches, they do discuss several other watches they tested to write this review. They discuss where these other watches fell short compared to the Apple Watch Series 3 GPS, the Samsung Gear Sport, and the Fossil Q Venture. In fact, they kind of call out these other companies about their watches; and, it is pretty funny to me. I pushed a burst of air out of my nose several times because of them. (For those who do not get the joke, it is the millennials’ version of laughing at stuff online.) But, even though they discuss these other watches’ downfalls, they do highlight where they excel and offer readers alternatives to the core three watches.
While they may poke fun at these companies and point out their watches’ flaws, the writers are very objective in this review. They neither praise one watch over the others nor completely bash one watch or company. I liked this. Some “reviews” are just subjective posts in which the writer(s) praise one specific thing and bash the others. Good job, reviews.com, you have quite an objective post.
I think I loved the chart at the end of this review the most. The writers provide an in-depth but easy to understand chart that highlights specifics about the watches they reviewed, such as the costs, battery life, charging style, and storage. This provides readers the opportunity to compare and contrast each smartwatch easily and quickly.
Overall, reviews.com did an excellent job. I urge you all to give them a chance and read their reviews. After reading their smartwatch review, I know I will return to see what else they post because, honestly, they provide you with all the information you need to make an educated decision about buying or doing something.
(On an entirely unrelated note, because I graduate college soon, I will have the time to return to my blog and post more content. A lot of new exciting stuff to come in terms of post-graduate life, such as getting my first apartment, starting my career, etc. Be on the lookout, all.)
Why, hello, hello. It sure has been quite some time, hasn’t it? Let’s see… like six months? Damn, feels like last week I was busting out two blogs a week. But, that was back when I had all the time in the world!
Now — well, not right NOW because I am on Christmas break — I am bombarded with college, two internships, my personal self, and student government. Please don’t think I am making excuses for not blogging! I am just stating a simple fact: I have no time to blog during the school year. I take on full credit-load semesters, work for Clarke University and Nicolosi | Galluzzo, LLP as a copywriter intern, and act as the school’s student body president. I am lucky I get time to eat and workout every day. (Honestly, it is a blessing I have time for these.)
But, as I stated, I am on Christmas break right now (for only a few more weeks). So, as I lay here in my bed watching my 40th movie or so, I thought I would fill everyone in on why I have not blogged. Yes, I could have blogged all Christmas break, but when you read, write, and mentally destroy yourself for 16 weeks straight, you kind of want to do nothing during the break. So, really, I have just slept, watched movies, lifted, and played Xbox for three weeks straight… and, I am not mad at all.
Anywho, I am glad you all have asked me where my blogs were at; honestly, it means a lot that people are interested in my writing. I am going to be 100% with you all. I most likely will not blog again after this break until I graduate. This semester will be ridiculously hectic. I have my English capstone, three other courses, I am applying for jobs in Chicago and apartment hunting, acting as the student body president, tying up loose ends before I graduate and move, and working on myself to create the best version of myself… On top of having a social life, working out, and just trying to enjoy last semester. I love blogging and will never give it up. But, I just do not have time right now, and I will start it back up after I settle in and start my career.
So, stay tuned… big things are coming… fashion, lifestyle, and everyday talk.