Plan Adjustment Needed

If you would have told me that my entire set of 2020 goals would need to be re-evaluated and potentially re-written a month in to the new year, I would have told you you were crazy! But yet….here I am.

The potential upcoming work changes have really thrown a wrench in my plans.  So much for being ready, right?  I’m chuckling because it’s so ridiculous but yet it’s where I am, and I can either be immobilized or move forward.  Let’s just say I’m a bit of both right now.

So what changes have I temporarily made?

Shop Profits

I have really delved in to meeting and surpassing my monthly sales goal.  I’ve done this by becoming more vigilant in several of the crafting and planner facebook pages and instagram acounts. I am engaging with folks looking for specific items and documenting items to potentially add to the shop.  Any time I have a few minutes, I just take a quick peek in social media.  I do think it’s help drive some consistent traffic to the shop.

Thankfully, it looks like my hyper focus has really helped increase traffic and sales, and I am happy to share that I have surpassed my sales metric for the month!

I’ve also taken a big leap and placed an order for enamel pins that I custom designed. Eek! Several friends encouraged me to proceed with the order even though I was scared about not making back what I spent at a time when I don’t want to take too many risks. However, I think the pins will do well, so fingers crossed they arrive in time for the Chicago Planner Conference next month.

Student Loans

Last year, I made a conscious decision to really throw any extra funds to my students loans to reach a $10K debt reduction in 2019. I did this by throwing any Etsy sales to my loan balance and by paying 4x my minimum balance each month. Because I’m not sure what will happen over the next month, I need to be smarter financially (temporarily).  So rather than paying 4x the minimum, I went down to 2x my minimum. I’m hoping to pay just enough to cover the month’s interest.

I’m also now saving any Etsy deposits to my checking account. The goal would be to throw them back to my student loan balance once I’m feeling more secure. For now, we’ll just hold on to any funds for living expenses.

Reading Goal

Probably the only goal I can control – ha! I finished a book I started last year and am about half way through my second.  Instead of streaming something while I print and cut shop orders, I sometimes just read.  Makes me happy because reaching a goal metric feels good!

Fitness Goal

Well, this one has taken a pause due to the prep needed for the Chicago Planner Conference so that’s temporary.  I’m eating out less and trying to make better choices overall.  I’m not eating perfectly but the eats have been so much healthier than they have in quite some time.  I just need to be better about the water consumption – I’m still living off caffeine.

How I’m feeling

Truthfully, I’m starting to get a little anxious, but I’m trying to be proactive and positive about what will come next.  I don’t want to jump the gun at work just yet because I really have learned so much here, but I have to be prepared in case there isn’t a spot for my skill set with the new company.  So I’m peeking around at LinkedIn and networking where I can.  No leaps yet but there are some interesting roles that have sparked some interest in me.  Change is hard…change is not fun…but change can be amazing.  So I’m embracing it as best I can and pushing forward with my goals!

 

2020 Goal #1: Double My Shop Profits

Job update: no change in employment status yet and no update from our new owner.  I’m in a holding pattern per say but know that I need to start updating the resume and really sending out job applications as a just in case. Some of my current thoughts include:

  1. I really have enjoyed this new field and would like to continue growing in my role and understanding of the insurance world.
  2. I really like the people I work with but know that there is no guarantee that I would work with any of them once the plans are finalized for the acquisition.
  3. I’d really like the opportunity to learn from this much larger Health Plan.  My current agency only serves the Medicaid population but the new organization is much larger and a more comprehensive plan (meaning it includes several lines of business like Medicare).  I know there would be so much to learn quickly and that excites my nerdy brain.
  4. Change is hard and scary.  I don’t want things to change but know that they will regardless of where I am so I need to get past the nerves.

I can’t predict what’s about to happen. I can only predict how I will respond and plan for calm transitions either way!

In the meantime (while I continue semi-ignoring the possible layoff), I’ll share some of my strategy for achieving my 2020 goals.  My first goal is around my Etsy shop.  It’s ironic that I listed this first on January 6th’s blog post not knowing what was coming later that day at my day job.  I had fun designing and vending last year, and I feel like I’m finally starting to understand what people want and anticipating trends while simultaneously carving out a little niche for my style of design.  The sticker making market is pretty saturated, but I’ve seen some of the gaps and am hopefully hitting the target when I try to tackle one of those gaps.

Because of this, I wanted to make my 2020 goal the year where I step out of my comfort zone marketing wise and adding financial goals to my shop.  Having a day job, I wanted to be realistic about what I thought I could achieve, so I have initially set my mark at doubling my 2019 profits and taking a leap to participate in the largest planner conference in Chicago as a vendor.

Now, this number isn’t huge by any stretch of the imagination, but it does mean that I need specific sales goals for each month of the year.  Something I have never had before.  20 days in to January, and I can happily state that I’m almost at that goal (which is blowing my mind).  I don’t feel like I’ve done that much more than I did in 2019, but I guess I have been much more intentional about sharing my items in specific Facebook communities while also starting to be more inclusive of the various planner sizes out there.

writer's workplace - wooden desk with typewriter

Up until now, I had focused on planning for me and the types of planners I used.  I told myself I needed to be able to use my stickers first (which is still true for the most part), but I had to realize that what I want and use may not be what’s in most demand.  So I needed to listen.  I’ve interacted more with customers in Etsy and via Instagram. I’ve started designing based on “wish lists” that people post in various groups – posts where people we say “I wish someone had a sticker for x y z.” These minor steps have proven to be successful.  In fact, my most sold item currently is my Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge that I decided to post in a planner group geared to people who plan reading goals.  Yes…entire planners filled with reading goals.  I’m in awe of the number of books these individuals read in a year and the variety of reading challenges out there.  Some are so much fun and I aspire to read as voraciously as some of the members in the group one day.  Right now, I’m lucky if I ready a book every other month!

I’ve also posted a public calendar so that my customers can know when to come back and see what’s been listed in the shop.  I have’t been totally on schedule but it is keeping me focused on intentional posting and designing.  It’s really helped me interact more regularly which is good for staying on people’s radar.

While I didn’t expect to go all in on the shop this year to really push it, the universe may have other plans for me professionally.  As terrifying as that is financially, I’m at least having fun using the creative side of my brain more.  Adding some sales metrics and marketing goals will help my analytic brain stay fresh and focused, and I’m even considering setting higher targets based on my day-job scenario in case the worst comes true!

But first things first…let’s continue adding to the savings nest for now…until we know more.

 

Here we go again….

Well, if you would have told me that my week would have panned out the way it did last week (my birthday week no less), I wouldn’t have believed you!

Last Monday, I shared my first post in three years. It felt great to get back on here, reflect on my journey, and start planning for 2020.  So you can only imagine my surprise when I walked in to work to learn that our company had been acquired by a larger company.  My first corporate merger – oy!

What does this mean for me? Well, realistically this probably means that I will be out of work soon-ish.  This new company is much larger than my current one but my department is not a revenue generating component that would require additional team members when the company grows.  Compliance departments tend to be small teams in most companies – so I need to prepare for the worst case scenario.

What I can say is that how I react to losing my job (if that happens) will be very different this time around.  I’ve spent the last three years really focusing on reducing my debt and increasing my net worth.  I’m not happy at the prospect of being unemployed again but at least I don’t feel sucker punched like I did last time.

I wanted to use this post to share some of my action plans to achieving some of my 2020 goals but I have a little revising to do already – ha!

Am I panicked? Not really.

Am I nervous? Of course.

What will I focus on next?

  1. Updating my resume and LinkedIn profile
  2. Curbing any unnecessary spending
  3. Putting some monthly number goals to the shop as my target to put any profits in to savings

Any other advice out there?  Any job leads for me? Send them my way!  Kidding (but not really – ha!).

I’m READY

Well…isn’t this terribly embarrassing?!  I knew I hadn’t posted in awhile but I didn’t expect it to be over 3 years ago!

So much has happened since my last post so here’s the mini recap – the good and ugly of it all.  I found my next career path in 2017 – a major switch from my 15 year career in the nonprofit sector to the world of health insurance.  It’s been a steep learning curve, but it was the intellectual push I needed.  I’ve learned so much and secured a professional certification last year to help me continue growing in the Corporate Compliance sector. Compliance has helped me marry my love for planning and organizing standardized work flows and procedures.  Yes…I thrive on rule following and training.  Ha!

I am most embarrassed to write that I let me fitness journey stop and basically eliminated all my hard work.  Losing my job unexpectedly and panicking about how long it would take me to find my next role, made me deep dive in sending out resumes and eating the cheapest possible which often translated in to the worst possible options.  Top that with then making a major career shift at a time when you had to catch up quickly and go through a major audit and ALL WORKOUTS were cancelled.  I’m not proud of myself but am allowing myself some grace to learn about how I reacted unconsciously so that I don’t make that mistake again when faced with challenging situations.

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I launched an Etsy shop in 2018 dedicated to my decorative planner interests.  I didn’t really make any income in 2018 from it, but I’m happy to say that 2019 saw enough sales to finally make a small profit.  I’ve been participating in some larger marketing opportunities (like conference sponsorship), and I’m really excited about the confirmed plans for 2020.  I’m nervous about how big some of my plans are for 2020, but it’s time to keep pushing the creative side of me.

Lastly, I launched a YouTube channel.  I had this crazy notion that I could get monetized quickly and post frequently.  The goal was to use any funds received to pay down my student loans quicker (my only current debt). Boy was I wrong!  Not only are YouTube monetization parameters very hard to achieve, editing and filming is also much more work than I expected.  I tried to do everything at once and YouTube eventually fell off the priority list.  I’m hoping to use that platform more consistently this year to increase awareness of the shop and to do something else that I love – teach others how to craft from the comfort of their own home.  So stay tuned for videos!

So let’s just say that 2017-2019 can be better known as my rebranding years and 2020 is my relaunch.

Because you know what?  This year, I’m READY for it all!  It’s time to commit to my health, to my financial wellness and to my creative happiness.  Rather than waiting for things to be perfectly planned out or to be fully cushioned financially, I’m going to take the leap and have faith that I have prepared enough and just have fun with it all.  READY is my 2020 Word of the Year – my motto. Whenever in doubt, I will remind myself that I’m READY.

So what am I READY to do this year?  Sooooooooooooooo much!

  1. At minimum, double my shop’s 2019 profits in 2020
  2. Pay off $15K of my student loans
  3. Read 20 books (one of my smaller 20 for 2020 goals)
  4. Lose 50 pounds

There are so many other little things I want to do, but these are the four biggies I will track and report about.  These four will help me stay creatively happy, create more room for fun (like travel) and get me physically stronger to achieve more and more!

What’s your plan or motto for 2020?

 

My 401K Investment and the Ugly Truth

Well, this isn’t how I wanted to start the new year, but it’s looking like I’ll have to make a withdrawal on my 401K to hold me over until I secure my next position. Thankfully, I’m feeling pretty confident that I’ll have something lined up next month, but that doesn’t change my current financial scenario.  Plus, what if my gut is wrong?!

Sure, I could ask a few friends for a loan, but I hate borrowing money from people – especially when I have it available to me in my investments. I’ll need to take a hit on my taxes, but I think this is going to be a good lesson for me as I prepare to enter what I equate with TRUE adulthood (my forties).

Lesson 1: I need to truly create an emergency fund.

I need to be better prepared for things like losing a job, getting ill, suffering an injury, needing a major car repair, etc. I’ve never been good at this, and this past year has been a major eye opener.  Sure there was a severance package and there’s unemployment benefits, but if I had ALSO had an emergency fund, I would not need to consider a 401K withdrawal and could probably have been fine until I accepted a new position.

save

Lesson 2: I need to get serious about retirement.

In the past, I’ve used my 401K to pay off my credit cards and car loans. I need to get to a point where it really doesn’t get touched. If I end up not having a life partner to share expenses with in my future, then I need to really take some time to fully understand how to maximize the returns on my investments and how to get myself to a point where I don’t freely borrow from it.

Lesson 3: Evaluate my spending.

I’ve gotten much better at not spending foolishly, but there is always room for improvement. My health journey has helped me spend less on food – much less eating out – so that was a huge step for me these past 6 months financially (health benefits were a bonus). However, I still have a second bedroom full of craft supplies that are collecting dust because I keep buying more!  It’s time to go on some crafty no-spend months and start to donate and/or use some of my stash.

Lesson 4: Create a passive income stream.

When it comes to crafty ideas, my head is full of them! I need to find a way to put those ideas to use and preferably to create a passive income stream with them so that I’m not working myself to death in my free time. I also need to actually set up a shop with a some pre-designed items. I love the act of crafting, but then I’ll just let my creations sit in my house or give them away. I’ve had way too many people ask me to set up a “shop” so they can make purchases, so I just need to move forward and see if their interest translates in to actual sales. This papercutting nerd needs to get to work!

Lesson 5: Being a grown up is a hard.

I don’t think I would have ever imagined myself talking about investments and passive income streams…which is just a sign that I’m more of a grown-up than I care to admit (ha!). I may be young at heart and spirit, but it’s time to listen to the logical side of my brain and start planning. And yes, this plan will include a plan to reinvest the money borrowed!

Happy New Year!

Fit Latina in the Making – New Blog

For those of you that first came upon my blog to get crafting ideas…I want to apologize. My health goals clearly took over my life (and they needed to) which means that they took over this blog.

I’m nowhere near finished on that journey, so I have decided to separate that content in to a new blog so that I can expand what I write about.  I would love to have you join me there too!  And let me know if there are things you would like me to post about…I’m happily taking suggestions!

Fit Latina In The Making Blog

Fit Latina in the Making: So I Took a Break

I know this post is long overdue. I imagined coming back and celebrating the achievement of my election goal while talking about the progress since I last wrote. Well, unfortunately there has been no progress to celebrate, and I got a much needed scolding by Ray last night.

You see, my break turned in to a month long “vacation” of doing nothing.

Thankfully, I have not put on the weight I lost during this break but it’s not for lack of trying. Because when I say break, I mean a total break. I haven’t really watched what I’ve been eating, and I’ve definitely only been on my elliptical a handful of times since November 2nd. Sure, maybe I’ve already trained my body to make better choices overall which is why I haven’t gained weight, but I definitely indulged far more than I should this past month.

But why did I take this break? We all deserve a moment to relax and enjoy success, right? After reaching my goal weight and winning my election bet, I treated myself to a piece of delicious pie at my favorite local bakery. I had earned the right to indulge a bit so I did.

But then I just stopped completely.

Was I injured, no?

Was I busy?  Unfortunately not as I had been laid off a month before.

Was I frantically interviewing?  Not really…as the holidays impacted interview time availability.

The only explanation I have for the total stop is that I probably was a little more bummed than I care to admit over being laid off. You see, I don’t have the type of personality that stresses about things for too long. I’m very rational, and I take all moments in life as learning opportunities and/or fate. Being laid off sucks (especially when you loved what you were doing), but I told myself that it must be a sign that I got too comfortable and needed to push myself more.  I thought I really believed that, but I think my subconscious needed more time to wallow than I allowed….so I think I just stopped lots of things. My house became a disaster zone, and I stopped participating in the one thing that I was so very proud of for finally achieving.

The funny thing is that I’m actually having a really great week personally (and potentially professionally), so I had already started to feel energized and was in the process of getting my shit in order (at home) when Ray checked in. The minute I saw it was him, I cringed because I knew I was going to have to tell him that I had done nothing and it would disappoint him. I made a promise to him and myself that I would never lie, so my stomach sank.

And then it happened…I had to tell him the truth.

Tears rolling down my face as I responded. I know how much he has invested in me, and I know this is a shared experience. I had earned his trust to work out on my own ages ago, and now that I was feeling like myself again, I was afraid I had lost it. We had a tough but good conversation. He hasn’t given up on me nor has he lost trust in me….we just needed a plan.

I know that I need to hold myself more accountable and that posting about my journey really helps. I’m still down 40 pounds but I still have a long way to go. It’s time to remind myself that there is always a day one. The key is to not stop fighting for that day one to help you begin again so let’s get back to this journey!

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