Health Inspiration Life

Components of Healthy Living | Part Three

In part one of this series we talked about coming to a place of acceptance. In part two of this series, we talked about how mental and physical health as a whole should be our goal. In the last part of this series, I want to walk through how to put both of those things into practice so you can stay focused and make sure that health in the way I talked about last time stays a priority!

 

Honestly, staying focused is the hardest part. You would think it would be easy to live a life that consistent of eating what you desire, moving the way you want, and appreciating yourself. Unfortunately, and sadly, it’s not easy at all. It’s actually a lot of work. We are so bombarded with diet plans and what social media says the ideal aesthetic is that it’s actually easier to live in a state of self-doubt. It’s not easy to accept yourself the way you are right now and it’s almost a totally foreign concept to think you can rely on your body to tell you when and what to eat. It’s hard to shift that mindset, but it’s possible- and it’s totally worth it.

It’s important to remind yourself of your worth- constantly. You are not a number on a scale, a jean size, the amount of cellulite you have, the acne scars you may have, the amount of vegetables you eat in a day, or the amount of miles you run a week. Your worth and your value have nothing to do with those things, despite what culture insinuates. Health and morality are not mutually exclusive. The sooner you can really remember that, the easier it will be to live a healthy life. Food is not bad or good. Food is food. It doesn’t have morals. Neither does exercise. You are not a bad person or a good person based on the food you eat, exercises you do, or- and I want you to listen- the amount of fat on your body.

It’s also very important to remain positive and compassionate with yourself. Some days you may feel like crap about yourself and that’s ok! When you feel that way, take a breath and try to identify why you feel that way. If you can’t identify it, that’s fine. Allow yourself to feel that way and then move on. Remember that you are wonderfully made. Remember that completely changing your way of thinking about health takes time and patience. It’s so important to be gracious with yourself.

Last, and most importantly, DO YOU. Live YOUR life. A healthy lifestyle is about enjoying the life you have. It’s about being happy and taking advantage of everything around you. DO NOT let culture’s vision of “health” take away from the joy you can cultivate in your own life. I said it before and I will say it again- a healthy lifestyle should NOT make you feel bad about yourself. You are wonderful and you should never forget that.

Carrie Crista Health Inspiration Life

Components of Healthy Living | Part Two

components of healthy living part two

Welcome to the second post in the Components of Healthy Living series! If you haven’t read part one, I highly recommend doing so as I will be referring back to some of the principles mentioned there. Part one of this series is all about acceptance which is the foundation of these principles, in my opinion.

Part two of the components of healthy living series is all about goals. Now, don’t go into overdrive thinking about all the goals you may have for your vision of a healthy life. Instead, we’re going to strip that down and I’m going to tell you what your goal needs to be. Crazy, right? Your goal needs to be health in general- mental and physical.

First, let’s touch on mental health. I am not a mental health professional. I do have a degree in psychology, so I know a bit about this stuff, but I am not licensed in any type of way. What I can say with certainty is that mental health is incredibly important when looking at a healthy lifestyle. It’s important to take care of yourself and make sure your habits aren’t causing issues in your life. I won’t expand too much into that because, again, I’m not a mental health professional but healthy living should never – I repeat, NEVER ever– make you feel bad about yourself.

Physical health is probably what most people think of when someone says “healthy living.” Physical health is important but, again, you cannot gauge physical health by appearance. Your goal needs to be balance and happiness. Eat foods that make your body feel good! If you want pizza, eat pizza. If you want a salad, get a salad. If you feel like you want a cookie but aren’t sure, hold off and see where you’re at in a few minutes. People say “food is fuel” and that is a true statement but I think that term is thrown around too much. Food is definitely fuel. You need carbs, fats, and protein for your body to function properly. But food is so much MORE than fuel. Food is enjoyable- and that isn’t a bad thing. I think society shames food as a pleasure experience way too much. You SHOULD enjoy the food you eat! Enjoying the food you eat will keep you from feeling deprived. No healthy lifestyle involves deprivation. Like I mentioned in part one, deprivation does nothing but send you into a place of guilt. The key to this is making sure you enjoy what you eat and choosing to stop eating when you are satisfied. Honoring hunger cues is very important when it comes to health and it is hard to get in tune with them if you’ve been dieting. It is possible to retrain yourself to feel those cues, however, it just takes some practice. One of the tricks I like to use is that if the food I’m eating doesn’t taste as good as it did when I started eating it, I may need to evaluate whether I’m still hungry or if I’m just eating because the food is in front of me. Practice mindfulness when eating, listen to your cravings, and the balance will come naturally.

Exercise is important to a healthy lifestyle, but it’s very important to note that you do not have to run 5 miles or go to CrossFit or lift weights for an hour in order for something to count as exercise. Move in ways you enjoy! Some days, I want to sweat a lot on the stair master or run a 5k. Other days I want to do a weight circuit. There are even days I just want to walk for an hour. No workout is better than the other! REPEAT THAT. You are not a better person the day you run 5 miles than you are the day you only want to walk 1 mile. Listen to your body. Move in a way that you enjoy. Some days you don’t want to go to the gym but you know you should. Go and decide what to do when you get there. If you’re sore and tired and you should go but you don’t want to, don’t go. Rest your body when it needs rest. You don’t have to burn 500 calories for the workout to be “worth it.”

The last thing I want to mention that I think is super important is that function should always be more important than aesthetics. Remember, your body will look the way it is meant to look when you take care of it. Accept what is (part one). If you are living a balanced lifestyle and taking care of your mental health, your body will come to the place it is supposed to be. Remember- accept your body for the way it is today.

In the next (and final) post of this Components of Healthy Living series, I’m going to walk you through putting all of this into practice and staying focused when diet culture surrounds us.

 

Question for you:

What’s one step you will take this week to start making overall health your goal, instead of weight loss?

Exercise Food Health Inspiration Life

Components of Healthy Living | Part One

The term “healthy living” is such a buzzword right now. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but with the health trend comes some danger. Everywhere you look there’s a program, supplement, workout routine, or exercise machine being marketing to you. Not all of them are bad, but the amount of options can be overwhelming and can send people into a downward spiral of dieting.

I’ll be honest- aside from the “we’ll send you your food” plans, I’ve tried almost every diet out there. MyFitnessPal, IIFYM, Weight Watchers, even low-carb/keto- which lasted all of 3 days because your girl loves carbs. I know, I know,  “it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle,” but, let’s be real- they’re all weight loss plans. I could write a whole post on what I think about weight loss plans, but that’s for another time. Long story short- diets aren’t for me and I need to remember that. I know some people may not be in the same boat as I am so, instead, I want to focus on the core components of a healthy lifestyle.

I know what you’re thinking- healthy food, exercise, and water. Those are important, but those aren’t the components of a healthy lifestyle we’re going to talk about. In this mini-series, we’re going to talk about the components of a healthy lifestyle that will allow you to be excited to choose nutritious food. We’re going to get to the root of why we should practice those healthy habits. We’re going to talk about how we can keep health at the center of our lives without it coming from a place of guilt or “being better.”

Ready? Let’s get into it!

The first thing we’re going to talk about in this mini-series is going to be the root of what a healthy lifestyle really is all about. Accepting what is.

I’m sure you’re brain is pumping the brakes right now and saying,” What in the world is this quack talking about,” but hear me out.

I don’t mean “accepting what is” as a way to be complacent. It is 100% ok to want to improve. What is VERY important, however, is to accept yourself the way you are today and be open to what your body is supposed to be. We often have lofty goals of what we want to look like, but every single body is different and, like it or not, you may not have the body type to achieve whatever look you’re going for without doing damage to yourself. You were given your body. You can spend your life hating it and wanting to fix it, or you can learn to accept, love, and appreciate the body you have.

Don’t get me wrong- I completely understand the desire to lose some weight or gain muscle or get rid of some fat I’ve got stored here and there. I think that’s natural and if you can find someone who loves every inch of their physical body all the time let me know cause I have questions. It is so important, however, to make sure that your will to improve is coming from a place of love and respect, NOT a place of hatred or discontent. You will never, ever be happy with what you see in the mirror if you are trying to change yourself because you don’t like yourself. On top of that, your version of a healthy lifestyle will be miserable.  How often do we crash diet and then binge? After our binge we miss our morning workout which starts the day on the wrong foot so we think that the day is a wash and we’ll “start again tomorrow.” When tomorrow comes we may restrict our calorie intake and eat super healthy foods all day, but that night or maybe even the next night we are so hungry that we end up ordering the dollar menu from McDonalds and the cycle starts over again. Not only is that exhausting for your body, it’s exhausting for your brain! How much guilt do we feel during this cycle? On the other hand, when you are implementing change out of respect for your body, it will come much more naturally and you will enjoy the process more. We will dive deeper into this in the next post.

You may be wondering how to start this process. It’s a hard one to start since it seems like we’ve been taught to obsess over our features for forever. The first and easiest way to start accepting your body the way it is is to remember what your body can do for you. Maybe you can’t run a 7 minute mile, but, at the very least, your body is functioning at the cellular level to keep you alive and that is pretty freaking cool. You can also start by taking pressure off yourself. You don’t have to be perfect and no one is expecting you to be. Seriously. Did you know that stress can physically cause weight gain? Cortisol levels rise when you’re stressed which leads to a drop in blood sugar. When your blood sugar drops, you gravitate towards foods that will help it spike again- often greasy, sugary, and fatty foods. You already have enough stress in your life around work and family and school and whatever else you have going on. Why contribute to that by stressing about the way you look? This next tip sounds silly, but looking in the mirror and telling myself- out loud- “I accept my body and love it for the way it is today” has helped me immensely. I don’t always believe it when I say it, but the idea becomes true the more I do it. Fake it til you make it, am I right?

This week I challenge you to do one thing each day that can help you accept your body the way it is right now. Not in 15 pounds. Not after your weekend bloat is gone. Right now.

In the next post, we’re going to talk in detail about what the right goal for health is and the fail proof way to reach it!

 

Question for you:

What are YOU going to do this week to start the path to acceptance?

 

Carrie Crista Inspiration Life

How to Balance Your Life

Learning balance is a skill that will help you in every aspect of your life. A lot of people ask me how I do everything I do, and there are a couple of aspects to balancing my life that I want to talk about.

I have a pretty busy schedule. I’ve mentioned this before, but I work a full time job at a university, I have this blog, and I have my YouTube channel. I don’t consider the last two “work”, per say, but they do take a significant amount of time out of my week so I’ll put them in the “work” category. I make sure to get an hour of exercise in at least 4 days a week, I serve at my church, and, most importantly, I’m a wife and a mother. That means lots of meal planning, laundry doing, child dressing, and other things that happen on a day to day basis. On top of all that, I make sure to spend time with friends when I can and take time to myself when I can. It’s definitely a lot to juggle!

I’m sure many of you have even more going on- I don’t know what life is going to look like when Maddie starts to do extracurricular things- but I have a few tips on how to balance it on without going absolutely insane.

First, I’m going to address the practical aspect. Quite simply, managing a busy life is all about time management and prioritization. This isn’t a one size fits all deal. In fact, it may change on a weekly basis. The first step, however, is to make sure you have a place to store your schedule. It can be a planner, a bullet journal, Google Calendar- whatever works for you- just make sure you have a place to write it down. Why? Because, as great as your memory may be, you may need to refer to it so you can make sure you’re not double booking yourself. It also helps you see where you have time to do things.

Once you’ve got a place to write down your schedule, you need to prioritize. What is most important? What can wait? It’s important to make self-care a priority, by the way, so find a way to fit that into your schedule. You are important! When prioritizing, remember who is around you. If you have a roommate or live with a spouse or partner, see where they can pitch in to help. If your spouse will be out of town and you have children, you will need to re-prioritize to accommodate for that. If your spouse is home, how can you work together to make sure your schedule is efficient and effective? It takes some working through, sometimes, but communication with your “team” is the key to balancing a busy schedule!

Now, onto the mindset aspect. I would be lying if I said balancing a lot of things doesn’t get stressful. It can absolutely be overwhelming. Wine definitely helps. There are two things, however, I remember when things do get overwhelming.

First, I remember why I do all of these things. If one of the “extra” things I do stops bringing me joy, I don’t make it a priority. Necessary things like exercise, work, and taking Maddie to daycare are top priorities, but sometimes I just don’t feel like cooking so taking time to make dinner gets pushed to the side and allows me to fill that time with something else.

Second, I am realistic with myself. I cannot be all things to all people and I will need to say no to things. While I do a lot, it’s important that I don’t stretch myself thin. Sometimes, doing everything in a week is unrealistic. Prioritize and be ok with pushing the less important things to another time. You aren’t a bad person for it, you’re realistic.

Time management is a tough skill to learn sometimes, but the beauty of it is that you can find a time management method that works for you. There isn’t a right or wrong way to manage your time aside from not managing it at all. Try a few things out, see what sticks, and re-evaluate!

Remember, you’ve got this!

Questions for you:
Where do you need help with time management the most?
Do you use a planner? If not, what do you use to track things?

Carrie Crista Life My Life

January Recap

It’s time for a January Recap! We are a full month into 2018 and I hope January went well for you all! January was a really weird month, routine-wise.

I went back to work after the holiday break and, shortly after, my boss had surgery. She’ll be out of the office for at least a month which means the whole case load is mine to handle. I don’t mind it at all, it just means I stay really busy at work! The first couple of weeks back weren’t too busy since students weren’t back from break yet. I was expecting things to get slammed the first week of classes, but we ended up getting snow and campus was closed!

To some, a few inches of snow isn’t a big deal. Around here, schools tend to close due to road conditions. We ended up getting a 6 day weekend that went into the first week of classes, so my busy schedule was put on hold! The first couple of days of snow were fun! Maddie really enjoyed throwing and jumping in the snow.

After a couple of days, we all got stir crazy so we decided to send Maddie back to daycare and try to maintain as much of a normal routine as possible until everything went back to normal.

This year, I want to try more things and one of those things was hot yoga! I hadn’t practiced yoga in over 3 years I actually ended up going to a couple of yoga classes and enjoyed some of them. I have a whole post coming on my experience with hot yoga, but it felt great to experience new(ish) things!

I also started running more this month. I want to make sure that I’m exercising in ways that make me feel good instead of focusing on things that burn a lot of calories or are perceived as hard. For the most part, running makes me feel really good so I decided to add that into my regular exercise routine.

Other fun things that happened this month:

We went to a hockey game, as usual!

We visited my parents and my mom went with me to get tattoo number 15.

I gave Maddie a haircut and DIDN’T mess it up!

My goals for next month are fairly simple. I just want to continue doing what I did in January. I want to try at least one new thing, I want to continue with my exercise routine, and I want to appreciate each day and not get caught up in things that don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.

How did January go for you?

 

 

Carrie Crista Life My Life My Style

Current Favorites

On my YouTube channel, I did “favorites” videos about once a quarter. My YouTube is more about bullet journaling tutorials now, but I still wanted to share my favorites with you because I discover new things often and get asked about them. What better way to share those items with you than a blog post? I will admit, I haven’t done a favorites video in a long time so I’m sure there is a lot to catch up on, but I’m going to focus on what I’ve been loving over the past couple of months instead of the past half year or so. Some of these things may be super simple and some may be a little more specific.

Ok, ready? Let’s get started!

Makeup*

Let’s go ahead and start with the smallest category and get it out of the way. I’ve had a lot of makeup products that I like lately, but none of them has even compared to the love I have for one of them. The Kat Von D Shade and Light Eye Contour Palette.  The name is fancy, but essentially it’s just a bunch of matte eyeshadows. There’s a collection of warm, neutral, and cool tones in the palette and I am OBSESSED with it. I actually use the large pan in the cool tone section (a shade called Lazarus) as a contour shade sometimes. These are pigmented with little fall out and they basically blend themselves. The shade range makes both natural and dark smokey looks easy to achieve.  The Amazon link is above, but it is also available at Sephora.

Technology*

Next up: Technology!

This first product is more of a technology accessory, but I’m putting it here because it doesn’t do anything without the technology. I purchased a Series 2 Apple Watch early last year and have worn it consistently since. The one issue I had with it was that the band instantly makes my arm look “sporty” so the vibe of the watch didn’t fit with my style outside of the gym. Luckily, Apple Watch bands are incredibly easy to change and even easier to find online. Don’t buy a band from Apple. It will be 3x the price. Amazon to the rescue! After lots of searching, I landed on the JSGJMY Apple Watch Band.

This band is leather and comes in multiple colors with multiple buckle option. I opted for the light brown leather and the gold buckle since I have a gold Apple watch. It is available in both the 38mm and 42mm sizes. Best of all? It’s $16. I’ve had it for a few months now and haven’t had any issues. I love the way it dresses up the watch. I change the band back to the original silicone band when I exercise but, otherwise, this band is the one I wear. I highly recommend it!

Last year, I bit the bullet and upgraded my DSLR. I told all of my Nikon gear and purchased a Canon 80D and a 50mm fixed lens. I almost exclusively used a 35mm fixed lens on my Nikon, and I wanted a portrait lens to do the same with for my Canon.  I realized, however, the 50mm was far to large for what I wanted to do so I sold it and purchased a 24mm fixed lens instead. I LOVE this lens. It is very compact which was a bit weird to see at first, but it is an outstanding prime lens. I haven’t changed my lens since getting it!

Another upgrade I made recently- my phone. I had the iPhone 7, previously, and, while it wasn’t outdated or broken at all, I really wanted to get a plus model so I could have a larger screen and portrait mode. For Christmas, Santa brought me an iPhone 8 Plus! I won’t spend a ton of time on this favorite since I’m sure you’ve heard all about it, but it’s been great. I decided against the iPhone X for a couple of reasons. One, I didn’t feel comfortable with how delicate it is (I have a toddler, remember). Two, no home button really freaks me out. Old habits die hard, I guess. Three, I couldn’t justify the price tag for the item. The 8 Plus is perfect for me.

Clothes*

On to the largest category- clothing! I am no fashionista. I wear basically the same types of outfits every day, but I’ve been really trying to branch out and change my view of fashion. Instead of finding things that hide my body, I want to find things that flatter it. That is a whole post of it’s own, but today I’m going to focus on some of my go-to clothing items lately!

This tunic was a pleasant surprise.

 


I’ve been needing some more flowy but flattering shirts. I wear a lot of skinny jeans but I like shirts to be long. I have a couple of LuLaRoe Irmas, but I’m tired of spending that much money on not a lot of fabric. I turned to Amazon to see what was available and I was surprised at the results! The trick to Amazon shopping is looking at the size chart and reading reviews. I tend to look into the items with high reviews and a high number of reviewers. If I like what I read and what I see, I may buy it. This one was highly rated and very affordable so I sized down and added it to my cart. My one worry was that it would be very thin but the material is so thick! Not sweater-like, but it is definitely good quality material. It’s easily become one of my favorite shirts!

The next item may seem like a weird thing to put in a favorites post, but these socks are the bomb. I was needing some low cut sock for some boots that I have and stumbled upon these little guys. They’re good quality, non-slip, and inexpensive. They are thick enough to be socks but thin enough to keep shoes comfortable. I love the gel tab on the heel- it keeps the sock in place! I have the 6 pack and I will definitely be purchasing them again.

As far as workout clothing goes, I am team UnderArmour. I have so many UnderArmour items and they are all great quality. They always have great things in their online outlet and their outlet prices are actually lower than their non-outlet prices- something that seems to be rare in the fitness industry. Anyways, last Christmas my sister and sister-in-law bought my mom a Swacket– it’s a cross between a sweater and a jacket. I wanted one, but they aren’t cheap so I held off. This year, I saved up and was determined to get myself a swacket. 

When I went to purchase mine, I found it on sale on Amazon! Score! I got it in White and I LOVE it. It’s warm enough for about 40 degree weather, for me, but it’s super light weight and very flattering. I love how the back is scooped because it just adds more style to the jacket and makes it flattering to wear. It’s also water-repellent. It’s not fully waterproof, but it’s kept me dry on drizzly days for sure. Even at full price, I would purchase this.

Remember how I said I needed socks for boots? These are those boots.

I was looking for some black booties and fell in love with these from Kohls. They aren’t outrageously priced, but they also aren’t cheap. When they’re not on sale, they’re about $80. Luckily, everything is always on sale at Kohls. They are incredibly comfortable, super cute, and they go with pretty much anything which is an added bonus!

Last but certainly not least, I’m going to introduce you to the coziest sweater of all time. This is the Sonoma Goods for Life Cable Knit Chenille Sweater in the color Army Circuit.

When I tell you I love this sweater, I mean I LOVE this sweater. I sized up when I purchased it because I wanted it to be oversized and I am so glad I did. It can be dressed down with flats and skinny jeans or dressed up with heels and skinny black jeans. It’s the most comfortable clothing item I own, hands down. The bummer is that it is knit chenille so it has the potential to pull. I haven’t had any pulls in mine yet, but I baby this sweater. I’m going to get it in another color now that it’s on sale!

 

Question for you:
What’s one of your favorite things lately?

 

 

Carrie Crista Inspiration Life

The Greatest Showman & The Problem With Influencers

I was originally going to publish a different blog post today, a blog about how to balance your life. That post is still coming, but I’ve had some conversations over the past few days that have me thinking and I wanted to address something.

The internet can learn a lot from The Greatest Showman. Now, hear me out. This isn’t another movie review. This isn’t a post about how great Hugh Jackman is, though, he is and you should see the movie if you haven’t already. This post is about how bloggers, instagrammers, YouTubers, and influencers in general honestly need to get a grip and learn from this movie. I’ll explain…

How many times have you read a blog post that doesn’t make you feel good? How many times have you seen a fitness guru post something that makes you wish you had what they had? How many times do you watch a beauty guru on YouTube and wish you had the makeup or the skin they had? ALL. THE. TIME. If you’ve never looked at someone on the internet and felt a little inferior, hit me up because I need your secrets. If you have felt that way, I have good news for you. It’s all fake. Seriously. And I think it’s time for that to change.

I’ve had multiple people, friends and strangers, tell me that they appreciate how honest and real I am on social media. This isn’t about me patting myself on the back for that because, honestly, I’ve definitely been through phases where I show the highlights of my life. What this IS about is how ridiculous social media and influencers have gotten with the curation of their content. It has sent some influencers so far down the rabbit hole that marriages are ending, friends are dipping out, and subscribers and followers are buying, literally and figuratively, things that are not real life. It is SO dang sad and I’m honestly frustrated with it all.

So, how does The Greatest Showman play a part? Without any spoilers, I’ll cut right to the chase. There’s a song in the movie called From Now On. It’s my favorite song on the soundtrack and there is an incredible message in it.

 

How many influencers, and people in general, are searching for more? How far have people been willing to stoop in order to gain fame, followers, likes, and success? And at what cost? If you’re an influencer of any kind, I want you to stop and think. What are you sacrificing and who is being hurt? People follow influencers for a reason. I know people read my posts and watch my videos and I want to make sure those people are feeling GOOD about themselves when they see my content. The first step to doing that is making sure I am honest and real, regardless of how good it looks.

Yes, some things need to stay personal and that line will depend on the person. Yes, there are certain best practices when it comes to social media marketing. The wrong approach to being an influencer, however, is abandoning everything you have in real life for the sake of an online persona. Excuse my french, for a moment, but a lot of influencers need to get their heads out of their asses a look beyond the screen. If the internet shuts down tomorrow, who is there?

There’s another song in the movie that says the following:

OWN THESE WORDS. Apply these words to your life, whoever you are. As an individual, remember that you cannot be all things to all people. You cannot control what other people think or say about you. You do NOT need to compare yourself to what you see on social media. You can control how you react and how you feel about yourself. As an influencer, remember who you are. You are NOT perfect, sorry. You do not have it all together. You are bruised and it is ok. Be honest. Yes, it’s scary to admit that sometimes, but it is exhausting for you to continuously curate perfect content. As someone who has follower influencers who do this, it’s honestly obnoxious at some point. Be a real person. You as a person are not the products you sell or influence people to buy.

You may be wondering why I stay on social media if it bothers me that much and that’s a valid question. The honest answer is that I enjoy blogging. I enjoy posting to my social media accounts. I also hope that I can be at least one person in the social media world who doesn’t try to act like life is perfect all the time. I want to be someone who can relate to the people in the real world because, and I know this comes as a shock, I am a real person in the real world. I sincerely hope social media starts to shift and people who are real and honest start to pave their way. I hope readers and viewers start to realize that what they are seeing is curated and a misrepresentation of what life really is. I hope people start to see that being an influencer is a platform to do good, not to fake the life you want people to think you have. You can be inspirational and honest at the same time.

 

Carrie Crista Life

How to Buy a House as a Millennial

homeownership 101 for millenials

We’ve all seen those memes that compare the millennial generation to previous generations. I’m technically considered a Millennial based on the year I was born, but I do think those of us born in the late 80’s and early 90’s are a bit exempt from the the typical Millennial stereotype. I didn’t grow up on social media, I remember dial up internet and VHS tapes, and I know what a pager is. I do, however, identify with some things Millennials face as we enter into adulthood and one of those things is buying a home.

More people are renting than ever before and a lot of it is because the Millennial generation has a different set of values than previous generations. Different values aren’t bad, but the way the country is now has forced Millennials to do things much differently than Gen-Xers or the Baby Boomers. Housing prices have gone up, to the tune of 10%-20% in some cities. In order to buy the houses currently available for sale, a person generally has to have a decent job and, often, decent jobs require master’s degrees or higher. Degrees cost money which often lead to student loans and other debt. That debt can seriously hurt your credit and your ability to qualify for a mortgage. Put that all together and you can see how buying a home as a 20-something seems impossible.

Good news, though. It’s NOT impossible. It’s not easy, but I have a few key pieces of advice that I learned when we purchased our homes. I will go ahead and say that I’m not a real estate expert. I’m not a lending expert. I’m just a person who has gone through the process of purchasing and selling. Still interested in reading what I’ve learned? Here we go!

Buy vs Rent?

First, see if you actually are in a spot where purchasing is a good option for you. If you know you’ll be moving elsewhere or you have a job that moves you around, buying a home may not be in your best interest. You might be thinking, “Well, I can just rent it out if I move.” That’s a great option, but some first time home buyer loans (we’ll get into that later) require you to live in your home for a certain amount of time before you are allowed to use it as an income property. If you think you’re in a good spot to buy but like renting, keep in mind that renting means you build equity into someone else’s property. One of the big reasons we decided to buy our homes is because we wanted to be able to build equity in our own property. We could pay the same amount in a mortgage as we did in rent, so we may as well invest in something we see the value in.  In addition, as a renter you get zero tax breaks.  While it is nice to call the home owner’s representative or handyman to get things fixed, it is even nicer to get the tax break at the end of the year for owning your home.

What do you want?

Be realistic with your expectations.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • How much do you want to pay per month? You must think about your “all in” price.  This includes any HOA fees, taxes, and insurance per month as well.  Throw in your expected utilities per month and you should get a good idea on how much it will cost per month.
  • What can you get for that price in your area?
  • How much space do you need and what are you willing to compromise on if your wish list is too much for your budget?
  • If you have kids, you need to think about school districts.  What good is a brand new home if you are in a horrible area.  Historically, good school districts maintain the value of homes and even drive the value up if the school maintains good ratings.

 

Identifying these things before you even start to look into things so you can keep your needs in mind. It’s super easy to get caught up in the beauty of staged homes. Remember your need!

Assess your Debt

Debt is a deal crusher when it comes to getting a mortgage. A high debt to income ratio will increase your interest rates and could prohibit you from getting approved all-together. How do you avoid a high debt to income ratio, realistically? Don’t carry bad debt and pay your bills on time. Not all debt is equal and, while it can still ding your profile, things like student loans don’t hurt as much (not that you want to take out a ton of those either, but we’ll get to that in another post). Credit card debt is an interest rate killer, though, so it’s super important to maintain a low balance on your credit cards if you want a decent interest rate on your mortgage.  The lender will be reviewing your debt history so if you plan on buying a house in 6 months don’t go out and buy a new 4k TV and start a line of credit at Best Buy to do it.

Down Payment Dilemma

You’ve probably heard that you need 20% of the cost of the home as a downpayment. While that would be nice to have, not all loans require that much. Thank God, because 20% of $200k is 40 grand and who has that kind of cash laying around? The down payment rate varies depending on the type of loan you get, but some of them will allow you to put down as little as 3.5%. We utilized FHA loans both times and, while that isn’t available in all areas, they are more flexible with down payment rules.  That’s still a good chunk of cash, so you’re going to want to make sure you start saving money as soon as (or even before) you think you’re a few years from purchasing a home. Again, not easy, but worth it. If you are paying less than 20% downpayment, your overall house payment will include something called “PMI” or Private Mortgage Insurance.  This fee is one that the government (or lender) takes in case you default on your loan and can’t pay anymore.  This fee can be pretty significant to the bottom line of your monthly costs so make sure you include this in your projections.   Use this calculator to estimate your PMI.

Closing Costs

I didn’t know this until we bought our first home so I’m going to mention it here. Standard practice is that closing costs are covered by the buyer and they are due at the time of closing in cash. Closing costs are in addition to your down payment. The amount varies on the listing, but you’re usually looking at anywhere from 2-6% of the cost of the home in closing costs. Add that to the 3.5% you may owe as a down payment and you’re looking at a TON of money up front. That being said, depending on the market, it’s not uncommon for sellers to cover closing costs if they’re asked.  Sellers typically pay closing costs or portions of them to incentivize a buyer to move quickly.  Think of it as a kick-back. Sellers can roll closing costs into the selling transaction, so they can agree to pay closing costs and get a smaller check back once the home is sold.  They don’t have to come out of pocket for that kick-back.  For instance if the home is 250k (assuming the house is paid off) and the seller concedes and contributes 8k to closing costs they would get a check back for 242k. Of course there are other fees involved for the seller, but you get the drift.  In Savannah, it was pretty common. In Middle Tennessee, those types of contingencies are uncommon. Do your research and plan accordingly.

Get Pre-Approved, THEN Set Your Budget

You know how on House Hunters or Property Virgins there’s that bit about the buyers being approved for a certain amount of money? That just means the bank allows them to borrow that much. This next part is very important. Being pre-approved for a certain amount doesn’t mean you should necessarily purchase a house in that price range. It’s fine to get pre-approved for a maximum amount, but let your lender know what you’re comfortable paying each month for your mortgage, taxes, interest, and PMI (a fee you pay temporarily when you do not offer a specific percentage of down payment) and ask him or her to let you know what that amount equates to in price range. THEN start looking for houses. One note here as well – shop around if you need to. While the amount of money you’re approved for may not change much, your interest rate can. Some companies can offer better interest rates than others which can save you thousands and thousands of dollars over the lifetime of your loan.  Be aware that sometimes lenders will give a pre-approval amount for 250k but that is based on very few questions.  The final mortgage process is much more in depth and they will comb over your entire financial history.  I’ve heard of people being pre-approved for 250k but only getting a final approval for 230k based on final numbers.  That isn’t something that happens often, but it’s something to consider.  Lastly, ask your lender for the pre-approval letter.  The pre-approval letters your real estate agent and seller know that you mean business and that you are ready to go!  This shows a ton of proactive interest and can get a deal closed faster.

You Found a House- Now What?

There are so many steps to home-ownership, so be prepared for all of them. You will have to fork over money when your offer is accepted – this is called earnest money. It’s generally not a large amount ($500-$2000 dollars on average), it just shows the buyer you are serious. This money ends up counting towards your down payment at closing, so it’s not just out there floating around. Once you’re under contract, the real stuff happens. Your credit will be looked at and your accounts will be combed through multiple times before you are able to close. You will need to provide your lender with a ton of information about your accounts while you are under contract. DO NOT USE YOUR CREDIT CARD UNTIL AFTER CLOSING. While normal use won’t impact things too much, there are countless stories of people losing homes because they used credit cards for big items while under contract. If your debt to income ratio changes significantly while you’re under contract, you nullify what you’re approved for and it can be very costly. We played it safe and didn’t use our credit cards at all. Being under contract can be nerve wracking and can seem like it lasts forever, but it will fly by and, before you know it, you’ll be closing on your home!

Other details that can help seal the deal if you are in a hyper competitive market-  You can include a handwritten letter to the seller telling them why you want to buy their home and why you think it is a good fit.  It sounds cheesy, but it works all the time if all the numbers and financials are the same.

Overall, buying a house can be a very daunting experience but it can be both rewarding and a great investment. Buying and selling a house isn’t an easy task, so make sure you’re ready for the work and the ride before you start.

 

Questions for you:

  1. What do you wish you knew before buying a house?
  2. What is the biggest obstacle you or people you know face when buying a house?

 

 

**Special thanks to my husband for helping me out with this post! It’s a lot of information and he helped make sure the information was accurate!

Carrie Crista Inspiration Life My Life

Finding Joy in Anxiety

I’ve mentioned this is a post or two previously, but I’ve struggled with anxiety for a good bit of my life. Recently, it’s gotten worse and has started to make an impact on more than just my own mental health. I’ll rewind a little bit for context…

I was first diagnosed with anxiety my freshman year of highschool. At that time, my anxiety was internal and really only reared its head in overwhelming situations. I would have panic attacks but they would go away and things would go back to normal. Once I went to college, my anxiety decreased and it’s only been within the past couple of years, I would say, that I’ve started struggling again. This time, however, I don’t muscle through the panic attacks. Instead, I avoid the perceived causes of my anxieties altogether. This may sound like a good thing- someone avoiding things that make them uncomfortable- but it isn’t. It’s come down to me avoiding any situation I haven’t been in before. If I don’t know where I’m going to park for an event, I won’t go. If I don’t know what traffic will be like to get somewhere I don’t usually go, I won’t go. Essentially, if I don’t have a baseline to let me know how something may go, I don’t do it. This has snowballed into crippling social anxiety and, quite frankly, it sucks. It sucks for me and it sucks for my friends and my family because I can be a big a fun-sucker.

This year, I want to focus on trying more. I don’t want to say I’ll do something because that risks something going wrong which, for me, is a big thing. I don’t like when things go wrong. I’m the type of person who makes a plan and sticks to it because I know it’s effective and efficient. Trying things, however, implies that something going wrong isn’t a big deal. If you try something and don’t do well or don’t like it then it’s no problem. I want to come at my anxiety with the approach of trying. If Mike wants to get a sitter for Maddie and take us downtown, instead of me saying no (because I’m terrified of traffic and parking and logistics in general), I’ll say yes with the thought that we’re just trying something.

There’s another piece to coping with my anxiety that I need to work on and that is joy. In Philippians, Paul was in prison waiting for execution. I’m sure he was pretty dang anxious. In the midst of that, though, his words to those who are worried were to rejoice. When I was young, the pastor of our church did a sermon on being joyful. I don’t remember the whole thing because I was like 12, but I remember him saying that we should say “rejoice” often because your mouth always ends the word in the shape of a smile. We should rejoice in times of struggle because God is sovereign. We should rejoice because we should know that His plan is best. What better way to cope with anxiety and fear than to remember that I don’t HAVE to be in control because God is? I know some of my readers may not be religious or spiritual, but you don’t have to practice a religion or believe in God in order to trade anxiety for joy and thankfulness. 

I don’t think this is going to be easy, by any means. When you are a control freak who gets anxious about anything unknown, it’s hard to let go of that. I am hoping, however, that I can consciously work on not letting my anxieties get the best of me this year.

 

Questions for you:

  1. What are some ways you cope with your fear and anxiousness?
  2. How can you work on your fears more this year?

 

Carrie Crista Currently Life

Currently | January

Welcome back to another Currently post! I’ve done Currently before  but it’s been a few months so, if you haven’t read my previous Currently, here’s what it is! Each month or so, I go through a few of the things I’m currently doing. Sometimes I’ll let you know what I’m watching or reading or listening to, it varies from post to post! Today I’m going to let you know what I’m currently watching, reading, and looking forward to!

currently watching

I have been OBSESSED with Black Mirror lately. I watched the first three seasons back in November before I found out that season 4 was being released in December. When I found that out, I was stoked! If you don’t know, Black Mirror is a show that started in the UK and was taken over by Netflix. Season’s 1 and 2 are the original seasons and only have 3 and 4 episodes in them, respectively. Netflix took it over for season 3 and both seasons 3 and 4 have 6 episodes. Each episode is a different story with different characters but they all take place in a society that has great technological advances in a very similar time as the present. Each episode is totally mind blowing. I will say, it is not for the faint of heart, however. While not particularly scary or gory, many episodes have troubling content. That content, however, is generally very important to the plot and the message of the episode itself. I finished season 4 in a couple of days and I’m already ready for the next season!

I also saw The Greatest Showman and really liked it! The music is amazing and it’s just a great, feel good film.

*POTENTIAL SPOILERS BELOW- NOTHING SPECIFIC BUT YOU MAY NOT WANT TO READ THE NEXT PART IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT AND DON’T WANT THE VIBE OF THE MOVIE TO BE SPOILED**

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I don’t like movies with a lot of conflict unless it’s an action or suspense movie of some sort. If I watch a happy movie, I don’t like the bad parts. I know it sounds weird, but my career is literally rooted in conflict so, when  I watch a happy movie I want it to stay happy. The Greatest Showman was perfect for that. Without giving anything away, I appreciated the overall positive vibe of the the movie. There was conflict as there is with any movie, but it wasn’t anything devastating and I was happy about that.

 

currently reading

One of the things I want to do more of this year is read. So far, I’ve already finished TWO books! One of them was called 50 Mice by Daniel Pyne. It’s a thriller and I really enjoyed it. Essentially, a man is put into witness protection and doesn’t know why. The story was really good and it was an easy read. The only thing I didn’t like was the ending. It felt rushed and was so out of nowhere that it left me thinking “wait, what?” And not in a “woah my mind is blown” type of way. Overall, I would recommend it because I was entertained, but you’ll see what I mean about the end.

I also read a poetry book called Becoming by Renaada Williams. I won’t lie. I wasn’t impressed. Poetry has seemed to move into a phase of profound(ish) statements. I know flash poetry has been a thing forever, but authors like Rupi Kaur have really propelled it into the limelight. While some of these flash pieces are thought provoking, others fall flat. This was one of those. A few of the pieces were enlightening, but most of them left me wondering “so what?” Most of them were about break ups which may identify with some people, but not with me. Even if I had been dealing with a break up, I’m not sure I would have felt differently about the content.

The book I am CURRENTLY reading is called Black Widow by Wendy Corsi Staub.  I am really enjoying it so far! It’s a mystery thriller that’s been engaging and entertaining. I’m about 2/3 of the way through and I’m starting to get to the major conflict of the book which is exciting. I haven’t finished it yet so I can’t give a full review but, so far, I would definitely recommend it if you like easy, mystery fiction.

It’s been interesting because we don’t have a ton of things coming up! The past 4-5 months have been a total whirlwind with one event after the next, but the new year brought a season of rest and I’m thankful! There are a couple of things I’m looking forward to, however. First, I am ready for potty training to be over. It’s a total mom problem, but potty training is time consuming and takes patience- something I do not have. Maddie has been doing really well, but I’m ready to be done with it!

Second, I am excited for my birthday! It’s not until May, but we are going on a trip- we’re thinking Toronto- just Mike and I and I’m excited for that! I’ve never been to Toronto and I’ve heard there are lots of cool museums, parks, and breweries there! We’re still finalizing things, but I’m thinking Toronto is the place.

 

There we have it! My January Currently! I’m hoping to do this once a month or every other month since I like being able to share some of the less profound but kind of interesting things I’m doing!

Questions for you:

What are you currently watching, reading, or looking forward to?
Where is a place you would like to visit this year?
What other Currently topics would you like to see on the blog?

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