Change.

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.

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Financial Stability: Being Wise with your Wealth

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.”

 

 

Reviews.com’s Smartwatch Review

Hello, everyone!

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.)

Best,

Kyle Majerus

Sorry…! I’ve Been Busy!

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.

– Kyle Majerus

 

End of Summer…

Well, the time has come… the end of summer, which officially ends for me on August 21st because of training for CONNECT and CONNECT itself. While this summer did fly by faster than I could have imagined, I can wholeheartedly say that it was an extraordinary and spectacular time filled with work experiences, internships, travel, developing close friendships, knocking things off my bucket list, and finding myself.

As a lay in my bed and stare at the raindrops sliding down my window, I cannot help but reflect on my summer and how much happened in such a short four months. It really is remarkable how much you can do in a mere few months.

First off, I have become the most healthy I have been in my entire life. Not only am I eating ridiculously well and keeping track on my calories, but I also hit the weight room hard this summer and made some serious strides there (still can’t tell, though). Mentally, I feel I am in a very fine place. I have conquered my anxiety (to an extent) and am so, so, so freaking happy with who I have become. I cannot help but smile every day because I am who I am. And, spiritually, I have come closer to God this summer and learned to put my full faith in Him! He has seriously made His presence known to me over the past two months, and for that, I thank Him.

Secondly, as I stated above, I love who I have become. Although it is damn near impossible to explain who I am in words, I think I can just classify myself as a “sophisticated hipster”? If that is even a thing? For those who know me personally, I think they would agree completely. I love artsy stuff, photography (if anyone has any camera recommendations, let me know. I am looking for one!), writing, journaling, brewing coffee, drinking craft beer, etcetera, etcetera.

 

Third, I was able to check JUST about everything off of my summer bucket list! I’ve eaten probably five — yep, that sounds about right — acai bowls at Charlotte’s, and they are literally everything I thought they would be. Also, I saw a Cubs’ win inside Wrigley Field, tried the phenomenal pizza pot pie (OH, MY LORD. IT WAS TO DIE FOR.), and visited the Art Institute of Chicago. The only thing I was not able to do was finish reading The Historian. I will be honest, I read like nine pages of it… haha. I just had so much more going on that I never got around to it. Oh well, there is always next summer.

 

Fourth, I have had some serious luck lately. In just two weeks, I won my JuneHouse backpack,  my Marcel Floruss safari-inspired collection, and found a $25 gift card. All I can really say is do good in this world and it will do good back.

Finally, I have decided to try something new: grow my beard out. Every year I try this once, but every year I either keep it to a stubble or shave it all off within two weeks. I can proudly say that I am going on 60 days right now with NO intentions on getting rid of it or trimming it; it suits me rather well!

(Photos are taken one week a part from each other beginning in July… Sorry for the last one just think it shows it better… haha.)

Well, Summer 2017, we have had our ups and downs, but I will miss you sincerely. You have blessed me with the best summer I have ever had, but it is time to get back into the school mindset and finish strong. Next summer at this time, I will have my Bachelor’s degree, moved to Chicago, have a big boy job, and adulting (Yikes!).

Until next time, summer.

– Kyle Majerus

What to Pack for a Weekend Trip

As this blog goes live, I am in Chicago for a three-day weekend to visit my buddy, Matt, and work on content for my internship. It will be quite an active and fun-filled weekend; I am exploring downtown, finally trying the pizza pot pie I’ve wanted for over a year, shopping (of course), enjoying one too many beverages, and taking many photos around the city. It is important to pack accordingly for such a busy weekend getaway because you don’t want too many or too few items. When going away for a weekend, only pack the essentials for the trip. It will save you a lot of space in your bag and energy to keep track of everything. Below I give you the top items one should bring on a short or long weekend trip.

  1. Two pairs of chinos

    Everyone should bring a pair or two of chinos because they are such a diverse piece of clothing; they are lightweight pants that are designed to be worn in all seasons, and they can be dressed up for a fancy dinner or dressed down for a night at the club or exploring the city. They are just that stinking diverse, everyone!!

    Especially since it is summer, I will advocate for chinos over jeans on a weekend trip because you can wear them even if it is boiling hot outside or extra windy and cool. Since I will be in the Windy City at the beginning of August, I do not know what to expect. Will it be stupidly hot or rather breezy? I have no idea, so I packed both my navy and gray J.Crew chinos. It can be pretty warm outside or a bit windy, and I will be dressed accordingly either way.

  2. One long-sleeve t-shirt

    You can NEVER go wrong with a white long-sleeve t-shirt. They are aesthetically pleasing, minimal, and fashionable. Just like with the chinos, you can wear this shirt in any weather and for many occasions. Is it chilly outside? Perfect, this shirt is long-sleeved. But, is the sun beating down, too? Excellent. This shirt is white so the sun will not be attracted to it. Without a doubt, I packed my J.Crew white long-sleeve t-shirt to wear downtown one of the days.

  3. A belt

    One of my biggest pet peeves is people not wearing a damn belt. They have two important uses: one, they hold up your pants/jeans/shorts, which, you know, is crazy important and convenient. And, two, they are the perfect accessory to finish a look or give your outfit some extra color. Personally, I am a huge fan of light brown belts, and I definitely will be wearing my favorite belt all weekend.

  4. Basketball shorts

    Instead of wearing pajama pants to bed and waking up sweating like crazy, I advise bringing a pair of comfy and breathable basketball shorts to sleep in. Also, you never know when you’re going to the gym, so why not have them just in case? (Sorry, I am a “gym rat” who sure doesn’t look like it…)

  5. Underwear and socks

    Kinda obvious…

  6. Comfortable shoes

    If you know you will be moving about or walking a lot, please, please, please bring a sturdy and comfortable pair of shoes/boots. Do your feet and yourself a favor and make sure you pack shoes/boots that won’t destroy your feet or back. For this trip, I decided to bring my Aldo brown dress boots that have high-quality Dr. Scholl’s in soles inside them. They are soooo comfortable and great for walking (surprisingly!).

    Seriously, I cannot convey how important good walking shoes are. Take it from someone with a fused tailbone from an injury whose ribs pop out of place and hips and ankles get out of alignment. Wearing shoes that support your back and feet are a life saver.

  7. Grooming/Bathroom essentials

    It is necessary to take care of your personal hygiene at all times. Whether you are home, on vacation, or just away for the weekend, bring what you need for proper grooming and hygiene. For this weekend away, I brought body wash, my beard oil, a comb and a brush, deodorant, my toothbrush and toothpaste, Q-tips, lotion, floss, and my beard trimmer. You know, the essentials. I take my personal grooming and hygiene very seriously…

  8. Your Everyday Carry Items

    These will be the items you cannot go a day or even an hour without. You can read about my ECI and what I brought with me to the city here.

  9. Sturdy Backpack

    While some people prefer actual luggage bags, I fancy a comfortable and high-quality backpack. I like backpacks over luggage bags for several reasons. One, it doesn’t feel like you actually have to carry it; rather, you can sling it over your shoulders and go about your day. Two, they are smaller than luggage bags, so you do not risk over-packing for a trip. Instead, you bring what you know you need and will use. Again, less is more! Three, they are pretty dang fashionable. Rocking a fashion backpack will never go out of style. You all already know that I brought everything in my JuneHouse Rose Red Backpack.

    This backpack is amazing. It is very fashionable, high-quality, super comfortable, and goes great with my style. I love to rock very minimal and three-color outfits. So, the pop of rose red from this backpack gives my looks the perfect touch. Just look at how great the combination below works. (Review coming next week.)

    IMG_2668

There you have it, folks. What I advise you should bring on a nice weekend trip. Just remember to pack the essentials because you don’t want to have an abundant amount of clothing, shoes, or items wasting space in your backpack/luggage. Also, you want to leave space in your backpack/luggage in case you buy something and need to store it! And, the Lord knows I will come back with quite a few things and will need the space…

– Kyle Majerus

Why I Blog 

Just over a year ago, I took the initiative to create my own blog site. This was something I have always wanted to do, but I just never had the courage to go through with it until last year.

In all honesty, I did not know why I wanted to do it; but, deep down inside I had this odd urge to become a blogger. After a year, I think I finally discovered why I blog/became a blogger.

I became a blogger to express myself and my passions. Some people express themselves through artwork. Others, through poetry or music. Me? I do it through writing. It is a wonderful way to get all my thoughts and feelings out of my head and into the world. Sometimes, I just word vomit all that comes to my mind, and it actually makes enough sense to those who read it, and they get a look inside my always-racing mind. When I cannot convey my inner thoughts orally, I do it through writing.

I became a blogger to gain experience and build a portfolio. Thankfully, I started this blog long before I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to be a psychologist, then a teacher, and then a Public Relations Specialist. Now, I finally discovered my dream job: Copywriter. In order to set myself apart from others who want to enter the copywriting world, I must have a diverse and impressive portfolio. Even though this is a side hobby of mine (for now.), it still is an excellent addition to my portfolio. It shows that I not only have technical writing skills but creative writing skills as well. In addition, it displays that I am a frequent and consistent writer. Finally, it allows those who read my blog to understand my personal voice and how I write.

Finally, I became a blogger because deep down I somehow knew I wanted to pursue a life in writing. I always loved writing. In elementary, middle, and high school I never had an issue with essays or research papers; on the contrary, I always loved the “challenge” of completing them. Now that I look back, I am amazed I did not realize my love for writing until my sophomore year of college. I would probably be a far better writer if I dedicated my high school days to developing my personal voice and actually paying attention to grammatical rules. Oh well, you live and you learn.

Some may see blogging as a side hobby or a “thing to do for fun.” But, to others (like me), blogging is a part of who we are. It is an extension of our inner selves. I could not be more proud to say I am a blogger, and this is something I will never give up on.

– Kyle Majerus