Student debt is just THE ABSOLUTE WORST – the emotional and mental burden of having this huge number looming over your head, wondering if and when it will ever get paid off is always in the back of your mind. I dreamed of becoming a serial hacker so I could hack into the systems and magically delete that number to zero- we’ve seen it happen in TV shows so it must be possible. I had about a dozen government and private loans with various interest rates when I graduated from the University of Southern California and I knew that I wanted to start paying them off as fast as I could once I landed a job. I even read blogs and websites dishing advice on how to pay off debt and personal success stories- not just to learn tips but also to keep me motivated throughout those dark months. If you want to pay down your debt quickly you need to be prepared to live down to the bare minimum, exercise a ton of self-control and go HAM. Aka Beast Mode but for debt. Friends and loved ones are going to suffer too but if they love you they’ll be waiting for you on the other side. It is no walk in the park, but it will be worth it.
I cut out all monthly recurring subscriptions
Aside from the basic necessities like my cell phone subscription, I cut out ALL monthly automatic charges like my VPN service (this hid my IP address so I could access US websites from abroad), HULU, etc.
I allowed myself a set amount of spending money each month
Instead of looking at where my money was going each month, I simply and brutally allowed myself $100 in spending money – this meant no eating out, hardly any shopping, no Starbucks, no cold-pressed juices, no nothing. I either packed my lunch to work or skipped lunch entirely if I forgot to pack. That’s the sad truth. I didn’t go shopping for clothes, cut my own hair and stuck to the rule of $100 per month. It became my monthly personal challenge and sometimes I even spent less than $100. I explained to friends and my partner what I was doing and why I needed to do it. The people who truly care about you will understand.
I put as much of my paycheck as possible towards loans
Each time I received my pay I immediately transferred everything I could minus my basic living expenses towards my loans (around $3000 to $4000 a month). That way it simply was not possible for me to even spend money, because it was already out of my bank account. And I watched as these huge lump sums made my debt number go lower and lower at warp speed.
I paid off my highest interest loans first
Some of my loans had a 10% interest rate, which means if a loan was $10,000 then it was increasing by $100 each month or $1200 each year. Compared to other loans that had a 2% interest rate, it was obvious that the high interest ones needed to be obliterated first. That’s why the last months of paying off my debt I was able to coast and live it up more while also putting more money to my savings. Everyone needs to have a FUCK OFF FUND by the way.
It was quite simple really and it can be summed up in one word – SACRIFICE. But obviously, in order to pay off debt successfully, you need to have a well-paying job. Earning $2k a month is not a good foundation for paying off a disgusting amount of debt. I was also living in cheap housing provided by relatives so if your home is taking up a large chunk of your paycheck you need to think about moving to a more affordable place to live. Whatever it takes.
Hi loves and thank you for coming on here and wanting to hear me share my thoughts. I recently went through a major life transition moving from Switzerland to California and felt like I needed to simply WRITE (aka verbal vomit) in order to process everything that’s happened. As many of you guys know I basically spent all my 20s living in Europe- a little in Paris (Rue de la Convention), a little in St Gallen (Blumenaustrasse), a little in Zurich (Thujastrasse- I can’t believe I’m remembering the street names), a little in Lugano and mostly in Geneva – and I became a Swiss citizen. I basically left for Switzerland in 2010 and I moved to the US last summer. I met my first love while studying abroad and it was a whirlwind all-consuming type of romance that many people dream of. A lot of people search for this kind of love all their lives and I feel lucky to have experienced it (fyi he now hates me). But one of the many important lessons I learned while living in Switzerland was, love is not enough.
Also I have to warn you that there probably won’t be much structure to this blog post and it will be long. When I first moved abroad I was insanely young and not emotionally and mentally equipped for expat life. Had I been 30 and moved there I may have stayed my entire life. As a fresh graduate I was hungry to start my career but nobody there knew what USC was or cared that I had interned at major Fortune 500 companies. I struggled a lot with this and started off as an intern in marketing before landing a real job. Not being able to have the career I really wanted and that I had worked so hard for throughout high school and college was a huge source of unhappiness for me. I did end up landing a coveted marketing job at a Swiss company while working at a job that I didn’t like and it was my saving grace. Without it, my relationship would have never lasted as long as it did because I would have grown so unhappy I’d have left a lot sooner. My ex was also a student for much of this time and I did a lot of the financial supporting. Another lesson: don’t spend all your money on a guy if he isn’t treating you like you’re the best thing in the world.
I had no knowledge of French and studied my butt off, actively watched Swiss & French news and TV shows (Fais Pas Ci Fais Pas Ca was one of my faves), read the Swiss newspaper, and devoured anything and everything French that I could in order to become fluent – this was how I got the job that I wanted and interviewed successfully in French for a position that required fluency. There were so many days I felt like it would be an impossible feat to learn a whole foreign language and I would break down and cry at night from despair. My lesson from overcoming this challenge: even if you think something is impossible (I literally felt it was IMPOSSIBLE for me to learn French and all the British people I knew who’ve lived in Geneva their entire lives and couldn’t even hold a conversation in French was proof), NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE if you set your mind to it. Where there is a will there is a way, as some wise man once said.
I found that making friends was difficult. I had friends come in and out of my life except for a few because Geneva is an international hub with people often working on assignment for 1 or 2 years for large companies or NGO’s. Making friends with the Swiss is even more challenging because they tend to be cold and closed off, especially to foreigners. The friends and people they have in their lives are those they have known much of their lives in their small communities and they don’t feel any need to introduce new people into their close circle. I had some cool coworkers though despite the work environment being disgustingly sexist and inappropriate at times. I did meet many very interesting, driven and accomplished people, most of the time older and wiser than me, who each played a little role in shaping me into the person I am today. Instead of being unhappy that I was having a hard time making deep friendships like the ones I had in California, I needed to shift my attitude towards thinking that each person who came into my life, no matter how brief, was someone I could learn from and share experiences with, and that each person is on their own journey in life and I could, in turn, help make a brief, positive impact in their lives.
For a few years I loved my relationship, my life, my job and my ability to travel around Europe on the cheap many weekends. Who wouldn’t love going to Corsica one weekend, Spain the next and Mykonos the next- after a while all the places start looking similar (though I will never get tired of Paris, Barcelona and Greece). I probably annoyed a lot of people with those obnoxious travel photos and hotel collaborations if you scroll down my Instagram feed. Maybe after about 6 years, I became tired of similar looking villages in neighboring France, similar looking ski resort towns in Switzerland, the same Easyjet destinations every year with no new interesting cities being added for me to get to. I loved how everything in Switzerland is so orderly and structured – almost to a fault – and the landscape was beautiful everywhere you went. I couldn’t stand how exorbitantly expensive everything was ($9 for a Starbucks latte, restaurant meals on average over $100 for 2 people, $22 for OPI nail polish before my nontoxic switch) and I never shopped in Switzerland (I’d buy things to go to my California home and then bring everything back whenever I visited), how mind-numbingly boring Geneva became after a few years (if you come from a small town Geneva will seem exciting), the complete lack of authentic Mexican food (tacos are life) and the depressing grey weather 8 to 9 months of the year. This is my spoiled background though coming from one of the world’s greatest and sunniest cities. There are so many people from third world countries who would risk their lives to be able to escape to a life of peace and security in Switzerland. Before I left Geneva I befriended a gay couple in their 50s, who were from Portugal and Colombia originally, and I asked them if they were happy just living out the rest of their lives in Switzerland and their answer still stays with me today. They said that after a while they just became used to life in Switzerland, they now enjoyed the quiet peacefulness of life there, and they would visit their favorite cities multiple times a year (Barcelona and Tel Aviv). I knew I didn’t want that.
My ex was the perfect boyfriend during the first year, making the effort to be understanding of my difficulty transitioning to Swiss life, encouraging & supportive, and taking me on trips to London, Rome, and Cyprus. Certain things happened to him that he deep down probably blamed me for because it was easier than blaming himself. He also wasn’t emotionally ready for the unique struggles that come with being an international couple in which one has to adjust to a new country and culture. He soon became indifferent and resentful whenever I was having a hard time and quick to anger, which led me to become unhappy even though I had created a wonderful life for myself. This small part of myself that was unhappy ate away at me. This is the reality that you don’t see behind those perfectly edited little Instagram squares. Flying off to beautiful destinations in Europe (a few times a year) and back to LA (twice a year) was all I looked forward to throughout the year as a way to escape the humdrum of my day-to-day life feeling invisible. I felt like a robot simply going through the motions. I felt like my life revolved around my ex and his aspirations, and I was just there to provide support for all his needs. Something felt wrong- I should have felt more happy in this life or at least some kind of mild state of contentness on a daily basis. I almost started a family and I began to ask myself could I raise a family here? With this man? Would I be happy growing old here? The answer I got was always a very hesitant maybe and no. I knew I would forever regret it if I didn’t DO something and moved back to LA to see if the grass was greener on the other side. The way in which I handled my relationship towards the end wasn’t good and I drove my ex away through my behavior instead of communicating how I felt inside. Next time I know that if for whatever reason I’m unhappy I should communicate it early because eventually my actions will hurt my partner.
I eventually needed to decide whether I would ignore this part of me and continue to live this Swiss life until the end of my days, possibly forever being partially unhappy I never got to live a life in LA or being with someone who didn’t treat me well… or to search for what my heart really craved – to be in sunny Southern California with my friends and family nearby. I’m sure I could have eventually made peace with living abroad forever if I chose the former and 9 months later, I still grapple with the ghosts of my former life and the what-ifs. But imagine all the experiences I would have missed out on over the past year had I not decided to move back and all the ways I wouldn’t have grown emotionally by upheaving my very quiet very quaint Swiss life. By moving back, I was able to find myself again, re-discover who I am, and also have the opportunity to re-invent myself. That is the beauty of new beginnings and new chapters in life. I am truly in my element here and I have a sense of self-confidence that I didn’t in Switzerland. I’ve also come back with nearly 10 years of unique life and travel experiences and language skills. I often think of how lucky I am to have lived what I have lived and what very few Americans ever get to experience. I will always be grateful for my ex for coming into my life when he did. Thank you, next.
It hasn’t been as easy as I thought it would be adjusting back to US life. When I first arrived I actually got hired immediately into working at Max Azria Group, but I didn’t feel happy working there and left. I remember one of the graphic designers who flew in from Mexico asked me why I would move back from Switzerland when the salaries are so high there (thanks dude). I forget what I answered back, but I probably said something like it was super boring there most of the time and not everyone earns very high salaries. One of my colleagues who helped hire me had spent many years working in Shanghai, loved it there, moved back to the US for this job and felt unhappy being back. Though it wasn’t easy adjusting back for me either, I felt happy and excited to be in LA. After all, so many Europeans I met over the years would ask me incredulously why on earth I would choose to be in Switzerland when I could be in LA. It’s not like I’m from Little Prairie, Arkansas. I just made up that city. Other ways it’s been strange for me being back…I definitely feel culture shock when I go outside of my bubble of family and friends in LA to other states and I see the “real” America. My mentality has shifted to being more Swiss after all these years and I get overwhelmed by how big this country is and there are just..so..many..people..and I feel the very same thing that used to piss me off when Europeans used to say this to me – there is a lack of culture/history in the US (don’t hate me!). Moving back to Trump’s America is also very different from when I used to visit Obama’s America. I get little bouts of culture shock just from society being so different. They were stronger at first, but now that it’s getting closer to a year since I moved back, they’re not as intense. Everyone’s lives have changed..marriage, kids, jobs..and my parents are so much older looking. After the first few months here I actually wanted to run back immediately to Switzerland and to what felt familiar. But ultimately, I feel deep down inside that I will be happier growing old here surrounded by my loved ones, sunshine, beaches, traffic, tacos and poor air quality. I also met a wonderful man who is sweet, caring, mature, generous and above all, kind and patient – the two qualities I need most in a partner. Without him I think I might have been too weak and moved back to Switzerland.
What I learned is that you need to live your truth. If you’re not happy in any way, seek change and don’t just stay stuck there because you’re scared of the unknown. There are no right or wrong decisions, only decisions that you can learn and grow from. The people who truly love you will stick by you no matter what you choose. And if they don’t, they are not worth keeping around. If you feel like you’re going to regret not doing something, then you HAVE TO DO IT.
How am I doing now you ask? I have had my dark days when I wasn’t sure if I made the right choice. But I’m so happy with all the new experiences I get to have by being here in the States. Despite its many, many problems, the US is without a doubt the best country ever and Americans are the best people to be around (except the crazies). It’s actually the small interactions I have with friendly strangers that uplift me, as crazy as that sounds. In Swiss society, you don’t do small talk with strangers..it isn’t normal and if you do try to strike up a tiny convo with someone on the public transportation, the grocery store, in line at the coffee shop..they will think you’re weird or straight up legit mentally ill. But I may not be so crazy after all because a study found that small talk with strangers makes you happier. I don’t have my dream job yet (not sure what that even is yet), but I have some really cool ongoing gigs with various companies aside from my blog. Most recently, I’ve been working as a speaker for a billion dollar medical tech company which has been super sweet. Life has given me so many blessings I don’t even deserve and I need to tell myself…Andrea, you’re doing just fine.
This is not a gift guide for others. This is a gift guide packed with sweet ideas to spoil yourself silly.
z o esilicone sonic anti-aging device
(code OBL saves $50 now til 2/14 )
Zoe’s advanced Silicone Bristles work at over 6000 pulsations per minute to gently cleanse and exfoliate the makeup, dirt, and oil that clog your pores and cause acne, while eliminating blemishes and minimizing the signs of aging. We all know now that facial massage is essential to keeping skin young and since we can’t get facials everyday, this is like an at-home facial providing:
-Provides complete facial and body sonic cleansing
-Delivers next-level micro-firming circulation massage
-Minimizes the size of pores and wrinkles
-Exfoliates without irritating your skin
-using the ZOE in circular motions at temples will help to relieve tension?
-you can place the tip of the ZOE under the arch of the brow, gently pressing upward and hold for 15 seconds to get an immediate lift?
-placing the ZOE tip at the nasal touch points on the side of the nose, may help relieve congestion?
=the curved side of the ZOE can be used to knead and roll at the nape of the neck to relieve tension?
-setting the ZOE to a very low pulse and using the tip with a gentle cleanser on the eyelid, will help loosen the adhesive of false lashes to make removal a breeze?
-Estheticians are using the ZOE prior to bikini waxing to cleanse, as well as using the curved side of the ZOE after treatment to and also to gentle push the soothing product for deeper nourishment and swift calming of the skin?
The February Detox Boxfeatures Fitglow Beauty — one of my longtime favorites for organic skincare and makeup! If you’ve been wanting to try this high-end brand now is definitely the time because you’re getting these 3 products at nearly 70% off!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Inside you’ll find:
– The Vegan Good Lash + Mascara ($38)
– The Eye C Firm ($79)
– The Vita Active Serum ($45 size)
Organic, gluten-free and vegan bakery in LA that ships nationwide! I especially love their donuts and cookies!
p e r p e t u a l s h a d e luxury eye masks
I love my Perpetual Shade Eye Mask. I’m a very light sleeper and need it to be completely blacked out for me to get decent sleep and these accomplish that. They’re very comfortable, fun and functional sleep masks. Plus Chrissy Teigen, Gigi Hadid, and Arianna Huffington wear them. Code LUV might still get you 30% off.
Yola Mezcal is an organic mezcal that’s made ethically and sustainably, always, with women’s empowerment in mind. Yola Jimenez’ mezcal, made from her grandfather’s secret recipe, caught the attention of Gina Correll Aglietti and singer Lykke Li, and the three soon became partners in Yola Mezcal, a brand now offered at places like the Ace Hotel, Chateau Marmont &The Standard.
Purity Coffee has the most rigorous standards I’ve seen with coffee. They source organic beans and test all green coffee for mold, pesticides, and Ochratoxin A (which can cause kidney damage) multiple times over. Due to the quality of the coffee, the flavor notes of cocoa, English walnuts and citric fruits resonated clearly.
EMS metal head with 24K gold gilt build, gold-plated layer of electrical conductivity and people unanimously carried by the wave length of the body, the release of ions and ion-human phase echoes can promote the flow of particles, promote blood circulation, eliminate facial Edema makes the skin firmer.
The introduction of electrical perforation enhances the permeability of high cell membranes in a short period of time through the action of an electric field, and introduces the components of the beautyliquid into the deep layers of the skin to enhance the effect of the essence.
EMS micro-current lifting by EMS muscle movement, to help facial muscles do not usually movement “is
moving” campaign by a minor muscle contraction to lose elasticity of facial muscle meat be a fundamental recovery, pulling plastic, Eliminate puffiness and create a delicate face.
LED red light can help promote skin activation, promote collagen proliferation and restore skin elasticity.
Don’t believe or trust in what people say or promise whether it’s a loved one or a boss. People’s feelings and agendas change and they will do what’s best for themselves, just as you would. What someone said 3 months ago or 3 weeks ago doesn’t mean it still stands.
Don’t waste your time on meaningless friendships. Spend the time you’d normally be wasting with them with yourself instead and improving yourself, whether that’s learning new skills, gaining knowledge, working on your fitness goals or having a self-pampering session. Investing time and energy in yourself is a much better use of your time.
Never expect anything from anyone. No one’s going to hand you anything just because you feel you deserve it so obviously they should feel the same way. Ask for what you want even if you’re afraid to. If it’s a no it’s a no but if it’s a yes then that would be pretty awesome. Don’t expect, demand.
Don’t assume, always double check. People don’t think the same way you do nor are they mind readers.