Money Ish.

Steps I take to do something when I feel stuck

Sometimes I wake up stressed about money.

For the record, I want to say: I am not a fan of money. I don’t like its energy. It’s dense and noisy. Money as a currency carries with it a weight of intense energy. Because it was not created in love, but rather in desperation and greed, it’s vibration is so disturbing to my spirit.

A good friend said the other day, “Yea. But we need money to survive.”

And I thought, “Actually, no. We don’t need money to survive. We need money to thrive in society,”… which at its very core has taught us everything we don’t need to survive. 

Money is a distraction from what matters. To survive, we need hydration and sunlight. Because we’re basically complicated flowers. Even food is not necessarily a need; if your body has water, fresh air, and sun, you can actually receive nourishment from nature. But that’s a whole other post.

When I wake up stressed about money, it’s usually because something unexpected has popped up on the radar of responsibilities. 

Instead of wallowing in the moment, I usually spend about 2 to 3 minutes down the rabbit hole of anxiety. And then, I need to clean.

I get to cleaning or throwing stuff out. It’s the worst if you live with me, because I tend to throw away important things that (at the moment) aren’t all that important… haha until the very near future.

Purging is my way of coping with stress. Decluttering somehow frees up mental space for me to deal with what is attacking my peace.

If I can’t get rid of anything, I clean and organize. But, since my place is always clean, I have to find something to straighten or clear out or enhance. Usually, I just wind up shuffling things around to a different position.

Then, somewhere in the process, I get ideas about what I can do.

The ideas don’t come when I’m racking my brain. They don’t come when I’m frustrated and bothered. 

They come when I’ve distracted myself from the situation, and busied my hands doing something that brings me peace.

It’s like how it is when you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep. When you try to force yourself to sleep, it won’t happen. The more sheep you count with the sole expectation of drifting to sleep, the more thoughts of what needs to be done or what you didn’t do come floating on in. 

Now, as I sit here at my laptop with a newly cleaned floor, I’m feeling positive and ready to be productive, not anxious like I was when I awoke.

Time to write some articles and get paid.

‘Cause problems don’t solve themselves in your head. Gotta get up and do something.

via GIPHY

You Not Gon’ Take my House! (and)… My First 30 Days as a Wag Walker

Hey Hey!

So, by now you can probably tell I’m a Southerner. And I’m proud of it. My flair, my flava, my lingo – all dutty South. But I’m also educated. Don’t come at me sideways LOL I got wit! So, yes. My southernness will also be sprinkled in my words. Can’t help it.

Anyway, Heeyyyyyy y’all. So, on to today’s post. I want to be a little vulnerable. Being vulnerable is hard for me. Not because I think anything I’m doing is top secret, but I do think some level of privacy is essential for sanity. Especially these days when everyone’s whole lives from the moment they open their eyes to the first thing they put in their mouth and what’s going on in their day to when they’re going to bed are documented and publicized – voluntarily! It’s just tew much.

So, here goes.

(I actually took a break in between the last sentence and this one to breathe, because just thinking about it has me emotional again)

Years ago I made a decision I wouldn’t open mail when I got home from work. It’s an easy habit to fall into: You get home, you have mail, you open it.

Years ago I made a decision I wouldn’t open mail when I got home from work. It’s a natural habit to fall into: You get home, you have mail, you open it.

But what if it’s not-so-good news, and you need to talk to someone’s customer service, but they’re home now just like you are? You spend the rest of the evening deliberating over said not-so-good news and thinking about how soon you can call customer service in the morning.

I’m an Aries. I don’t need more reasons to think than I already do.

I’ve spent many a sleepless night stressing over unanswered questions, possible situations I’d conjured in my head, and every scenario I could think of only to get me nowhere but sleepless, worrying over what I can’t control, and grumpy in the morning.

So I decided I will only open mail at work, or at least during business hours. Just in case in case I need to call someone and get some answers. Problem solved — no more sleepless nights. Well, at least not because of mail.

Years ago I made a decision I wouldn’t open mail when I got home from work. It’s an easy habit to fall into: You get home, you have mail, you open it.

But what if it’s not-so-good news, and you need to talk to someone’s customer service, but they’re home now just like you are? You spend the rest of the evening deliberating over said not-so-good news and thinking about how soon you can call customer service in the morning.

I’m an Aries. I don’t need more reasons to think than I already do.

I’ve spent many a sleepless night stressing over unanswered questions, possible situations I’d conjured in my head, and every scenario I could think of only to get me nowhere but sleepless, worrying over what I can’t control, and grumpy in the morning.

So I decided I will only open mail at work, or at least during business hours. Just in case I need to call someone and get some answers right away. Problem solved — no more sleepless nights. Well, at least not because of mail.

But this past weekend was a holiday weekend. So it was a lonnnng weekend. And when I got home from work this past Friday there was a letter from the Tax Commissioner. I told myself, “Definitely don’t open that til Monday!” and I put that thing in the open-at-work pile.

I’m so serious.

My peace… is my responsibility.

I decided not to take off Monday. I could have, but it just seemed like a waste of vacation hours because I knew it would be quiet and we’d go home early anyway.

So, come Monday morning, I made my morning smoothie, as usual, grabbed my purse and grabbed the stack of mail from the open-at-work pile and stuffed it in my bag.

When I got to work, I’d forgotten all about the mail, until I went looking for some lip gloss.

Oh yea! The tax letters. Lemme see what they talmbout. It’s too soon for my annual statement, but whatevs.

I open what feels like an unusually stuffed envelope for my annual tax assessment documents. But I proceed anyway.

What I find is a letter that says (paraphrasing because if I go get it I’ll get emotional, again), “According to records, you do not reside in the home mentioned above so your homestead exemption is denied, which means we haven’t been charging you enough taxes, and you have about a month and a half to pay us for the last 3 years’ worth of unpaid taxes in the amount of …oh, about $2500.”

W.   T.    F.

I read that letter at least 3 times. Then I looked at the included 3 blue documents behind it. One for each of the corresponding years I’ve been renting out my home.

It all felt like a bad dream.

And on July 4th weekend?! Dis-re-damn-spectful.

But it was actually dated May 25, 2017 – the letter was forwarded from my last address. (Sidebar here: People, always, always, always forward your address! A guy who lived at my home previously is still getting mail here, and some look verrrry important)

Ok.

Let me pause for a moment to say this: I’m an honest person. I may not have always been, I’ll admit it. But over the most recent years of my life (say, about the last 3-4 for certain), I’ve come to appreciate the value in honesty. I used to lie. Often. Led a life of lies, easily. But now, maybe it’s maturity or it could be apathy, but I just don’t have time to lie. I don’t have time or the energy to remember my lies.

I won’t say I want to do something I don’t want to. I won’t say I like you if I don’t. I won’t wear something that makes me uncomfortable and say “Aww! I love it!”  And I’m a vegan now so I won’t even eat anything that compromises my values. Cause, for why!

Now, back to this. Yes, I did file for homestead exemption, which, for those who are unaware, is a property tax discount given to homeowners, but it must be your primary residence. Yes, I filed when I was a homeowner,  because I took all the discounts I could get. But I, in all my (almost 10) years of homeownership never even thought to or knew where to begin to remove the exemption when I decided to rent my home out.

My home is my pride and joy. Besides my three degrees, it is the hardest and most rewarding challenge I’ve ever accomplished. I worked my BUTT off to get my home. I researched, I had an outstanding mortgage guy who I still communicate with to this day and took ever piece of advice he gave, I forfeited many temporary pleasures to save, and one of my best friend’s mom found my house after countless views and searches and offers that went no where.

When I bought my home at 23, it meant Everything to me. The only outside assistance I received was a $700 loan from my stepfather toward the final closing costs, whom I paid back within 3 months. All other funds came from saving, budgeting, and one cool ass house party attendees donated toward my closing cost funds. It was a longer road than expected filled with many ups and downs, surprises and detours. When I signed those papers and got my keys, to tell you tears of joy came from me would be an understatement.

Fastforward five years: I’m always in the city. I work in the city, I party in the city, the guy I dated was in the city. The house was a lot of space. It was just me and my baby Champ, but it was a lot of house. A three bedroom, 2.5 bath, fully-fenced backyard, 2-car garage house for a single female and her 5 year old Boxer dog was just a lot. I wanted less maintenance. I wanted more culture and diversity. I wanted city life.

I decided to rent it out. Selling crossed my mind, but we hadn’t quite recovered from the recession, and my home would have been under water. A home just up the street from mine had sold for half of what I’d bought it for just months earlier. I was hot. Selling was not an option. I needed equity. That wasn’t there. And likely wouldn’t be for a very long time.

Fastforward again: I’m a city-dweller! I found a property manager I could trust, tenants I could depend on, and a lovely condo smack in the middle of downtown. It was everything I wanted. I survived my first year as a landlord – which was no walk in the park – and when time came to renew their lease I happily said Yes!

So, here I am in 2017. I’ve had my address updated everywhere important since I moved. Mortgage, student loans, credit cards, post office, HR, you name it. If I was trying to hide my official residence I would have been doing a terrible job at it!

These letters came completely out of nowhere. I had no freakin idea I was still claiming an exemption I wasn’t due! Companies have no problem at all informing you at the worst possible time that you owe them money and expecting you to pay up like you just had said funds lying around, just waiting for the day they’d finally come after you for payout.

My first reaction: disbelief. No! This can’t be. This just can’t be!! There must be some mistake!

My second reaction: cry. I cried the ugliest Miss America tears. The worst, “No you can’t do this to me!” tears. Just hurt tears. All, “the Devil is a LIAR” Nooooooooooo tears.

My third reaction: Do something. You not gon’ take my got damn house!

And that is where I am now.

Here’s another thing about me: I’m not the GoFundMe type. Honestly, I think it’s become a crutch far too many people lean on. Now, in times of immediate or dire situations, sure. It has it’s place. But it should NOT be your first nor only resolution to your own damn problems.

Cut it out, people. It’s not the world’s responsibility to save you!

So, as you probably know, I picked up dog walking just about a month ago now. My last blog post is an introduction on it.

I’m a new Walker on the Wagwalking.com site that has become “the Uber of dogwalking”. Granted, Uber is in some heat right now so they might want to change their catchphrase, but, at any rate, the service is exactly that.

I just hit my 30th day today and my total payout is $894.30.

Not bad for walking some dogs, huh?

Don’t get it twisted though, I bust my ass in this biz my first 30 days! I drove more the past 30 days than I’ve driven all year. And that’s no exhaggeration. I don’t like to drive, people. I have walked large and small dogs, old and puppy dogs, trained and ill-mannered dogs, one and multiple dogs – I was HUSTLING.

To get the walks, I requested everything I could grab, which is tough. Wag doesn’t have a huge presence in Atlanta yet. There are more Walkers than walk requests, which make the requests extremely demanding. I’ve had clients request me directly but because I happen to close my eyes for a nap, walk to the restroom, or don’t have my eyes glued to the app for one moment, I miss the request because another Walker snagged it up. It drove me nuts! Days I’d want more walks but just missed a request by 3.6 seconds. No lie. It doesn’t take long. It was gut-wrenchingly annoying.

So after I composed myself and stopped crying the I-don’t-know-what-you’re-saying-please-stop-crying-so-I-can-understand-you-ugly-bawl tears, I called a friend, who shall remain nameless. I rarely EVER ask for help, so when I do folks know it’s genuine. My goal is to bust my ass as much as I can for the next month and a half, until August 28 when the 3 bills of a total of $2500 are due, to come up with the money. If I’m short, my friend will be my backup, which I will repay as quickly as I can. This saves me from losing my damn mind and thinking out of character, but I will still do all I can in my own power to come up with these funds. (A lesson in maturity: Ask for help, but always be willing to help yourself – first. In my younger years I would struggle alone. The difference now is at least the month and a half won’t be looming over my head. My friend has given me more time, and peace of mind.)

This little surprise hurt my heart because I’ve been saving for my TEFL certification tuition – the certification to teach English abroad – which has been a dream of mine for the past four years. Damn near everything I’ve done has been in preparation for this goal. And every dollar I’ve made from dog-walking has been put into a separate “For TEFL” fund. The tuition is $1400, and I’ve already been able to save over 50% of it… until I got those letters.

The Tax Commissioner informed me my home would be set to delinquent status and then be up for lien that would be reported to the courthouse.

But I can’t lose my damn house. I’ll be damned!

So, the tuition will go on hold until these bills are paid for. It puts me slightly behind my plan, but I’ve been doing this life thing long enough to know everything happens the way it’s suppsoed to.

I’d planned to enroll in the certification course this fall, having had raised the money in its entirety with no temptation to put anything on my credit cards. Back in Novemeber I made a vow to myself to stop using my credit cards altogether and pay down on one by one. And so far, no matter what comes up, I’ve maintained that promise. Even when I went on vacation to Hawaii. If it wasn’t in the travel reserve I’d saved for, it wasn’t available.

Discipline, people. It’s not about desire; it boils down to will. And no promise I make to myself will I ever break. Never again.

So. There it is.

I’m not rolling in dough, although the way my family asks me for money you’d think I was. I don’t have it all figured out – I have my days where I’m like “WHY! Why am I doing so much? What’s it all for?!” And every day isn’t roses and sunshine. I have sucky, sucky days. And, because I’m a loner, I internalize way more than I’d like to admit. I have tons of supportive, loving, compassionate friends that I just think, “Everybody’s going through something; who am I to burden them?” moments.

I am human. I am flawed.

But I am also full of life. And purpose. And kindness. And dreams.

Sometimes I do a great job at being my best self, and sometimes not so much.

I will keep my house, if that means I have to go door to door with leashes and poop bags asking for $10 a walk. And I will fulfill my dream to teach abroad if that means I go later than when I planned.

I don’t really have a  summary for this story. This was my (long) attempt at being transparent, hopefully motivational, and written documentation to myself for the future so I can look back and say, “See, Dani girl. You did it! Again!”

I love challenges. They excite me. I get knocked off my game temporarily, and then I jump back in it and say, “Aight then. So, what we gon do about it though?”

So. Cheers to opportunities, lessons-learned, friends with benefits (hahahaha!), friends who have your back, and going after your muhfuggin dreams!

Love.

(oh, and by the way, if you’re a dog owner or know a dog owner (both in and outside of Atlanta), try out Wag! at wagwalking.com, and use my code DANIELLE2775 for $20 off your first service, plus the referral will help me toward my goal! thanks in advance :-))

Yo, I’m a dog walker! Help me Help You, and your Dog

I sit here on yet another yelling raid with my phone. At my phone is actually more accurate. I have a Galaxy S5. Admittedly, I am not one of those people who need to have the newest of everything. Especially when it comes to gadgets. To the contrary, I’d be that one who will hold on to a device until it’s last dying breath, or blink is probably more fitting… until it’s last dying blink.

But I’m yelling at my phone more frequently because it either doesn’t want to respond to my fingerprint, freezes when I need it the most, or the Wag app crashes. So, this is the perfect segue into my first 28 days with Wag.

I’d been on the hunt for the ideal side gig for me for a while, but I knew I’d have to wait until school was over. So as the days to completion wound down, I reached out to my pet sitter about the possibility of jumping into the pet care business. It made sense to me – I love animals, animals love me, people pay folks to take care of their animals when they can’t, I now have free time. Seemed like a win-win to me!

The vetting process with Wag takes some patience. There are several steps you have to complete before going on to the next level toward acceptance. When I was finally approved I felt proud and nervous – did I really just do this?

The nervousness subsided until my account was active and I started receiving my first requests for walks. A guy friend of mine was over and we were chopping it up about life, eating better, and the old days. Typical Saturday wine talk.

Notification: __ wants a walk ASAP at __ zip code. Request/Decline?

Notification: __ wants a walk at 5:30 at __ zip code. Request/Decline?

Notification: __ wants a walk at 8:30 at __ zip code. Request/Decline?

They were coming in back-to-back.

“I guess it works!” I remember saying to my homeboy, but I was not in a state to drive to or walk anyone’s dog so I just chalked it up to “Ok. So now I know!”

The next day, I received another request. It was a Sunday. And the walk was 0.68 miles away – perfect! I was just relaxing at home anyway. I hopped in the car, but before leaving texted my sister and friend saying, “On my way to my first dog walk!” I was beyond excited!

I pulled up to the address, parked around the corner, got out the car and hit “Tap when arrived” the way I was explained to do to alert the pet owner I’d arrived.

Then I got a text, “This is Wag. Your walk at __ has been cancelled. Let us know if you have any questions.” Canceled? Huh? But, look at me – I’m ready!

Of course I have questions!

Why did they cancel? Was it my profile? Could they tell I’d never done this before? Did I arrive too late? Can you call them and put them on the phone with me? What about me?!

But I made $10. It’s the standard cancellation fee if you’re already on the way and an owner cancels the walk.

That kind of consoled me. But I was still sad and felt rejected. I pouted for a moment. I’m human.

Over the next few days I would receive several notifications, and many would not get accepted. What I’ve come to learn, though, is that it has very little to do with me. There is such a small window from when a pet owner submits a request to when a walker has the chance to accept. So I figure some walkers are either inherently fast, never not looking at their phone, or their phones can handle far more tasks than mine can.

I love my phone. Not like “Oh my god, I love this phone, I will never part with it” but more like “It serves its purpose; I’m good” kind of love. But it probably isn’t the best for this kind of flash-request business.

Herein lies the most frustrating part about Wag. Their Android app needs a Lot of work. There are several bugs, the notifications are inconsistent, better yet, the notifications most times are downright nonexistent. You literally have to be staring at the app all the time, and even still can still miss a request. There have been moments when I’m looking at the app, just making sure it’s still active and I get a text notification for a walk, but nothing in the app until moments later. It’s extremely frustrating. Especially because I want to work. I want to build my clientele up. But, as a contractor of this company, I’m at the mercy of their technology.

Several of my previous clients have specifically requested me, but if I happen to walk away from my phone for a second to check the copier, go to the kitchen for more water, or god forbid go to the bathroom and wash my hands – yes, all actual events – I miss the notification. You literally have 1.5 seconds to decide when you see a request if you’ll accept it.

So, this, then leads me to the next frustration. Driving. I hate driving. Unless it’s a road trip, and even then I tap out at 5.5 hours. No lie. I turn into a two-year old who needs a potty break, a stretch break, and food. Actually, I’ve offered to cancel a vacation altogether and just camp out where we are because I don’t want to sit through 2 more hours of riding, looking out the window at grass and gravel.

When a request pops up that I happen to catch I can see the distance it is from my house, but not the location.

So, in this now 3rd week I’ve been with Wag, I’ve learned a lot about zip codes. It’s gotten to the point now that I can gauge by the zip code if the drive and walk will be worth the stress I’ll have to endure in traffic. But the first week, I didn’t. And I drove all over the place!

Traffic. Rain. Accidents. Rush-hour. Construction. Every obstruction to a straight drive. When Google tells me how long my ride should be, then I activate the location settings and see red lanes I just want to ball up and cry.

That’s the hardest part though. The part that I love, the reason I actually got into this in the first place – the dogs – is a joy. Even my most challenging client was a learning lesson for me. His name was Duke. And I will never, ever agree to walk him again. But, that’s another story. (In short, when owners know their dog only responds to their commands, they should walk their own dog. If your fur baby isn’t leash-trained, spend a little time and money to have them trained! It’s for the safety of not just the walker, but your dog. Dogs who don’t listen if danger is approaching or near can be harmful. Ok. Again. Not here. I’ll discuss that later.)

I’ve had dogs of all sizes and ages. Most times it’s just one dog, but I’ve also walked two at a time. I’m working up to doing multiple dogs, but I think I have what it takes! My goal is to grow my presence, expand my clientele, and restrict my travel to within 3 miles of home. And I feel confident that will happen. It’ll take some work, but doesn’t everything worth anything?

I’m grateful to Wag for this idea, and this opportunity. The primary issue I’m noticing is that there are far more walkers than there are walks. Atlanta’s client base for dog owners needs to grow. We’ve got to get the word out better. Wagwalking.com; enter promo code: DANIELLE2775

It’s not that Atlanta isn’t a dog-loving city, because oh my, is it ever! But Wag’s presence is still very much in the start-up phase, although they’re very established in several cities across the nation. Wagwalking.com; enter promo code: DANIELLE2775 I think as Wag grows its presence here to attract more dog owners, the pressure to eyeball your phone at every moment will decrease. And, thus, the verbal phone abuse all walkers’ devices must experience like mine when you miss a request by the inkling of a second. Wagwalking.com; enter promo code: DANIELLE2775

So, get the word out, y’all. If for nothing else, do it for the phones, whose entire existence is to make our lives easier. Let’s all make lives easier. That’s what I’m here for – one paw at a time! Wagwalking.com; enter promo code: DANIELLE2775

And, even if you’re not in Atlanta but Wag is present in your city, you can use my code. Get to it, and you receive a $20 credit toward your first service! Wagwalking.com; enter promo code: DANIELLE2775 Sharing is caring folks.

So, before I go, I’ll touch on one obvious concern I’ve seen floating around about the Wag service: Strangers in your home. Yes. It’s a thing. Maybe it’s because I’m an honest, responsible person, the thought of stealing something or harming an animal or cutting the walk short in any way never occurs to me. Of course, there are some a-holes in the world; I can’t speak for them. I actually prefer not to, hoping they’ll form a cluster and want to live in Antartica for the rest of their lives together, away from everyone else in the world.

Other concerns:

  • Aren’t you afraid of going into someone’s home? No. I went skydiving for my 30th birthday. Adventure flows through my veins! Plus, I don’t like to give fear too much control. It already takes credit of so many things, I don’t think I’ll contribute beyond what’s necessary.
  • You aren’t scared you’ll get bit? No. Again, the fear thing. And, I think I actually might be a dog whisperer. Case and point: the difficult dog I mentioned earlier, Duke. He was one big, stubborn dog. It took us 13 minutes just to cross the street. I had an eye-to-eye with him and said, “Listen. It’s not your fault. Your parents didn’t train you. We only know what we know. I’m not blaming you. But it’s hot out here homie, let’s get across this street ok? And you can have the rest of the day to do whatever the hell it is you do, deal?” He didn’t cave immediately, but I know he understood me. About an agonizing whole minute later (that’s a long time when you’re just standing on the sidewalk in the humid heat of Atlanta), he motioned he was ready. I said, “Thank you,” and we were off to home. I know why dogs get aggressive. I have a spirit to read animal behavior, and I’ve also completed a pet training and care course to learn more about the intricacies. If a dog bites me, the poor thing is probably hungry.
  • Do owners really trust strangers in their home? Yes. And for all I know there could be a nanny cam somewhere. Not my concern. I’m there to pick up the dog, make them comfortable with me, walk, and take them back. The owner’s fears outside of my brief visit is not my business. But, rest assured, I’m out here to make extra money and grow; my reputation is on the line too!

Like I said, Wag’s name is on the line, they do a pretty extensive vetting process. I had to do a background check, several quizzes, and a personality match to make sure I was a good fit. I recognize everyone isn’t a good person, but I honestly don’t think of the worst. It can make you go effin crazy!

So, there you have it. My experience so far with Wag. I’ll be doing an update after my first month. Wish me luck! And, remember the phones! Share, share, share this new business! Save me from this misery…Screenshot_2017-06-21-17-35-32-1

If you know dog owners with pets at home all day, they’re perfect clients. Or, when you want to skip out to happy hour or brunch but remember Max needs a relief break – Insert Wag! And then, insert my code. I’ll treat you to $20 off the first service: DANIELLE2775

See you around the city!

20170621_194541

Living with Less

One of the most recent audiobooks I completed was “Investing with Purpose” by Mark Aarsdma. Initially, I thought the book was going to teach me the fundamentals of investing, but what it actually did was drop little jewels of investing knowledge I needed to receive before I should even think about investing.

I decided this year would be the year I’d start investing, but, as with all things, I didn’t want to jump into it blindly. I needed to do my research, engulf myself in material, learn the lingo and theories, etc. I’m a planner. It’s rare that I just jump into anything. I think this model has kept me from making a lot of decisions I’d regret.

One piece of advice that will be the basis of this post is:

“One of the most powerful things you can do for your future is consume less in the present and invest more in the future… it makes the difference between a lifetime of treading water and a future of growing resources.” Continue reading