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Happy to Return to BAD


Hi BAD community! Ashley L., here. I am happy to rejoin the site and continue to share my journey with you. I wrote a few posts at the very beginning of this year, but then stopped writing, so let me remind you a bit about me. I am single, in my late 20’s, and work in education. Currently, I am aiming to both pay down my debt as well as to invest. I am using some non traditional methods to accomplish this, such as house hacking, and hope to use the transparency of my blog posts with you to maintain my accountability and effectiveness on this journey.

In the spirit of transparency, I decided to stopped writing for BAD because I was disappointed with the blog culture here. Sharing a personal finance story on a public domain is a deeply vulnerable and courageous thing to do. I applaud Hope and Ashley for being so brave with both their financial planning and with their willingness to share. I also appreciate for the ways that their stories help others. I expected and even anticipated constructive criticism regarding my posts and planned to use the feedback productively. However, I felt many of the comments were skeptical of me and my story, negative, and void of the supportive and helpful tone that would be appropriate. My plan in returning is to share my journey, use my experiences, and the BAD feedback to continue to reach my goals and hopefully help a few others along the way.  

I am excited to share both unfortunate and good updates to my previous stories, and am happy to report that the good definitely outweighs the bad! For example, my house hacking is going well. (House hacking is a newly coined-termed that refers to an old idea of renting out living space to offset living expenses.) There have been some downfalls in the mix. I ended up having to find kick one of my roommates out. That could be a Lifetime story and post on its own. I’ll revisit. In my other home, I also experienced some very frustrating events that bled me of a few thousand dollars. I am bouncing back. I had to take down my rent in my house hacking home, but it is fine because it still covers my entire mortgage and all utilities and I have a good living situation with my roommates.

My budget is also seeing some positive changes. I have had modifications to my income, and of course, changes to my expenses followed. I was able to eliminate a recurring payment (for now)  and also added a new recurring payment. Recently, I updated both my monthly budget and my weekly budget and am now able to save more than I have since I lived with my parents.

I look forward to picking up where I left off although there are many changes. Life changes and in seeking growth, I am changing along with it.

Dinner for 54 Please


My grandmother put me in charge of the family Christmas meal this year. I was very honored that she trusted me with it. (But that doesn’t mean she just hands it off and lets me go, as I’m sure any of you who have taken over from the matriarch from your family can understand.)

We counted and there are 54 family members expected. 54!

The Menu

She gave me a menu, told me what she was cooking and some notes and has mostly let it go. And by mostly, I mean I only get once daily questions about specifics and questions asking if I have it under control.

We are going for a semi-traditional meal that will satisfy my 91 year old grandmother, 70ish year old aunts and uncles, my first cousins and all the way down to the youngest great-great-great grandchildren who around toddlers. Yes, this is fun!

Here’s what I have settled on:

Chicken & Dumplings
Giblet Gravy
Cranberry Sauce
Mac N Cheese
Green Bean Casserole
Green Beans (for those that don’t like the casserole)
Hawaiian Rolls (Grandmama was very specific on this one)
Deviled Eggs

And of course, I need to get all the paper products and ice for drinks.

Thankfully with so many coming, it was easy to make calls and divide up the bulk of the list. The kids and I are bringing the ham, green bean casserole and deviled eggs. All things we have readily on hand. (Princess is getting quite famous for her deviled eggs. People have even paid her to make them for their events.)

Calls made, assignments agreed too, pressure off. Now to just keep my Grandmother satisfied until dinner on Sunday!

Before We Lived Here

When I was a child, we would return to Georgia about once a year and typically at Christmas time. Both my sets of Grandparents lived here, and it was a time we looked forward to.

Me, age 12 with two of my younger brothers, all set for the Christmas program.

I had moved 18 times as a missionary kid before I graduated from college. These yearly trips that continued through high school were really the only consistency I had growing up.

After college, I never had another big family Christmas until we moved here. And even though I am not particularly close to my extended family here, this time is special to me and something I always wanted for my own kids. I’m really glad they will get to experience it for a few years before spreading their wings.

We eat a big meal, read the Christmas story, sing the 12 Days of Christmas (much to my cousin and I’s chagrin,) give my Grandmother her gifts and receive gifts from her. It is a fun time and most every tries their best to be there for this big day.

The Future

As family’s spread out for work and such, I know fewer and fewer families that have these large Christmas gatherings. It makes me sad. And I fear that will be our future. But for now, I am grateful for the chance to help organize our Christmas meal.

Have you found that your family Christmas gets smaller every year. Or is your family one that everyone makes the effort to get together, working around all the crazy family schedules and make time to celebrate together?