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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…)
Underwear and socks
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.
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…
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.
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.)
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…
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.
I don’t know what it is about this week, but I really feel like blogging lists. On Tuesday, I posted a list of 21 things I learned since I turned 21. It is quite interesting if I do say so myself.
And then for today, I had a serious urge to list out the ten things that I am unable to live without. Some of the things in this list are quite reasonable, others, not so much. I present to you, ten things I am unable to live without (in no particular order).
My iPhone 6 plays a crucial role in my daily life. It is how I stay connected with friends and family, where I turn to in awkward situations in which I need to appear like I am “distracted,” it is my daily planner, it is how I stay ahead on my never-ending work emails, and the device I check all my social media on. I honestly and truly could not live without my iPhone 6. It either is always near me, or I am on it.
Another Apple product I would die without is my MacBook Pro. This is my lifeline. I write my blog posts on it; use it for every single one of my classes — homework, presentations, and papers; and the device I use to write and edit copy for both of my internships. Sure, I use it for fun, like YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, and Netflix, but that is beside the point.
Series 1 Apple Watch
The final Apple product I can not live without is my Apple Watch. It is so convenient to use for my calendar, reply to text messages, clock my workout, and respond to emails. Also, I can pair it with literally any outfit combination. I am very dependant on this bad boy. You may read more about my love for my Apple Watch here and here.
I value family above all else. I do not know what I would do or where I would be without my grandparents, siblings, aunts/uncles, cousins, and, of course, my mother. I am thankful for the family I have been given. I would never trade them for the world. I know it will be tough to leave them all next year, but I know I will come back to visit.
I also highly value my friends. Just like my family, I have no clue where I would be without my friends. I have old friends, like my high school classmates, but also new(ish) friends, which are my college friends. I love the former to death and miss them all, but I know we all have gone our own ways and are living our own lives. The latter will forever be my “squad.” We all have been there for each other during our highs and lows of college. I will miss them greatly after this upcoming school year ends, but I know a few who are moving to Chicago, too. That city is not ready for us.
I’m not being a smart a**. Sure, I do need food to survive, but that is not why I put food on this list. I included it because I am obsessed with food; I literally plan my day around my meals, not my meals around my day. I cook delicious and nutritious meals that make me cherish every bite. Damn, I love food.
Fun fact for y’all: When I was in 7th grade, I fell off a slide and cracked my tailbone; however, I never went to the doctor to get it looked at. Not one year later — on the SAME day and SAME slide — I fell off and re-cracked my tailbone. Again, I never went to the doctor… Well, now I have such a bad back that every week my rib pops out of place, my hips fall out of alignment, and my right ankle gets dislocated. I am a chiropractor’s dream… Anyway, now every time I lift legs, I must wear a squat/deadlift belt otherwise my back gets utterly destroyed.
Sure, I have only had this backpack for a week, but I am in love. The sole reason I want for school to start up is so I can use this backpack every day. As for now, I just use it to carry my MacBook, chargers, and glasses to work every day. It will also be my go-to backpack next year to carry all my essentials through the day.
I. cannot. live. without. lists. I mean, my last two blog posts are lists for crying out loud. I have so much going on in one day that I must list out absolutely everything — my to-do lists, shopping lists, grocery lists, lifting exercise lists, homework list, you name it, and I list it out. Without lists, I would have failed my junior year of college. Not joking. They saved me on more than one occasion because my mind is so clustered from all I have to do.
Whether they are tangible or intangible, I cannot live without every item on the above list. They either give me support and love — like my family and friends, or they make my life more convenient — like all my Apple products and squat/deadlift belt.