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Friday, January 30, 2015

Get to Know Me | 10 Things

Hi guys!

Today I figured that I should probably tell y'all a little bit about me, so I'm giving you guys my first "Get to Know Me" post. There will be more of these in the future on different topics to give you a peek into who I am as a person, but I thought I'd start off simple and just answer 10 ice-breaker type questions.

I'm not great at opening up about myself so I searched for "get to know you" questions and found a list of 100 of them here. Then I randomly picked out ten by using a random number generator (have I ever told y'all I'm kind of a nerd?).

So here goes...

1 - What would you do if you won the lottery? If I hit for millions of dollars, I'd first pay off all of the debt that my mom, my brother, and I owe. I'd buy myself a decent house, nothing too fancy, and maybe get that Porsche Cayenne Turbo that I've been looking at. I'd start a college fund for all of the kids that are at least one generation lower than me in my family (so any future nieces and nephews and all of my cousins's kids). Take the family on a nice vacation and put the rest in an investment vehicle that protects the capital and distributes the interest annually. I definitely would not stop working, but maybe I wouldn't work as much. Maybe.

2 - Which would you rather do: wash dishes, mow the lawn, clean the bathroom, or vacuum the house? I hate doing all of those things but if I had to choose, I'd definitely say vacuum. 

3 - If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be? Lasagna! Bruh, my nickname should be Garfield because I. LOVE. LASAGNA. And I make THE BEST! Must be some Italian somewhere in family. #letmefindout

4 - If you could join any past or present music group, which would you join? I can't really narrow it down, but I did used to pretend that I was a part of the Spice Girls. I had my Spice Girl name and my British accent all down. So, let's go with Spice Girls.

5 - What kitchen appliance do you use everyday? Because of my work schedule, I don't even walk into my kitchen every day. But the appliance I use the MOST is the fridge. After that would have to be the oven/stove.
Mom, grandma, and me in Hawaii!

6 - What is your favorite family vacation? I have two. I met my mom over in Dubai back in 2010 and it's soooo beautiful. My mom, grandma, and I went to Hawai'i this past August/September and it was AWESOME! If you've never been you are truly missing out! Sadly on each of these vacations my brother was doing his thing with the federal government (he's in the Reserves) so he wasn't able to attend. One of these days though, one of these days.

7 - If you could choose to do anything for a day, what would it be? Hang out with the First Lady. Hands down.

8 - What is the most unusual thing you've ever eaten? For some reason when I was in my 'tween years I loved eating broccoli with ketchup. Don't ask me why, it sounds gross now. But I NEEDED to have ketchup on my broccoli or it wasn't gonna hap'n, Cap'n.

9 - Would you rather trade intelligence for looks or looks for intelligence? I'd rather be intelligent than pretty. I feel like pretty only gets you so far and then people want to know what's in your head. Pretty gets old. 
10 - How old were you when you learned that Santa wasn't real? How did you find out? I feel like I was pretty young and still living in Germany at the time. Mom just came in, sat my brother and me down, and explained the true reason for the season. At least, that's how I remember it. My brother says he found out when he saw our mom bringing gifts in when we were supposed to be sleeping, but that would have been years after I feel like we got "the talk".

Now, it wouldn't be fair for you to know all my business while I'm over here clueless about your life, would it? In the comments, tell me some random things about you. They can be similar to mine or completely different. I'm excited to learn more about you!

And don't forget to follow this blog and find me on the interwebs! Come talk to me! IG & Twitter: @keshdontlye | Google+ +Kesh Don't Lye | Facebook: Kesh Don't Lye

"Truth is, you don't know what is going to happen tomorrow. Life is a crazy ride, and nothing is guaranteed." - Eminem

Friday, January 23, 2015

Finance | Operation: #I'mGOOD

So, remember in that other post I said I was going to put myself on a savings challenge because I Ain't Rich and I need to stop spending and start saving?

Well, shortly after that I found out about this blogger, J. Money, and his personal finance blog, Budgets Are Sexy, and how he was able to grow his net worth from around $60k in 2008 to almost $470k as of last month. Yeah, you read that right.

Reading that blog got me to wondering what MY net worth is, so I gathered all of my assets and all of my debt into one spreadsheet and the grand total came out to... *drumroll please*

Ha, y'all don't need to know that. 

Just know it's not where I want it to be or where I even thought it was. I mean it's not horrible, just not what I wanted to see. So I got to thinking about how I can fix that. The savings challenge is a start. But the best way to get it done is to work it from both ends, which brings me to starting revisiting a personal challenge called Operation: #I'mGOOD (Getting Out Of Debt)

In addition to finding ways to save, I'm also going to challenge myself to pay off my car note, my student loans, and the little bit of credit card debt that I have. 

Here's how I'll do it:

Pay off my car note first. Goal: April 2016

Start attacking student loans next. Goal: April 2019

Get rid of that last credit card balance. Goal: February 2016

I put together a spreadsheet that tracks my net worth on a monthly basis, and keeps track of my saving and debt payments to help me stay on track.

When's the last time you calculated your net worth, if ever? It can be pretty depressing, but at least you know where to start. And, trust me, there are always people with less money than you. If you don't believe me, check out this list of personal finance bloggers who have published their net worth. This list made me feel WAY better about my number.

Let me know in the comments what you plan to do to grow your net worth! 2015 is the year of financial growth!

And don't forget to follow this blog and find me on the interwebs! Come talk to me! IG & Twitter: @keshdontlye | Google+ +Kesh Don't Lye | Facebook: Kesh Don't Lye

You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you. - Maya Angelou

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

'Fros | My Natural Hair Regimen

Medium/chunky twist out.
This should have been one of my first posts since this topic is one of the main reasons I decided to get back to blogging.

But better late than never?

First, let me say that I'm not a hair stylist, and I do not proclaim to be a hair guru [but if you want to call me that, that's absolutely fine :)]. Most of the things that I do or use are recommendations from folks that have been in the game long before I even thought about leaving the creamy crack alone. This is what I do for my hair, and I am not saying that if you follow the same steps as me your hair will look like mine. Difference in hair texture/curl pattern, scalp condition, genetics, etc all play a part. Also, understand that this is a regimen that I try to do every week, but it doesn't always happen.

So without further ado... 

Step 1) The Massage and Detangle.

I grabbed this Scalp Massaging Brush from www.vanityplanet.com after watching Naptural85's review on the product. It's meant to be used while you're in the shower shampooing but I like to massage my hair before I even start the cleansing process, and it's part of my night time twisting routine. Massaging your scalp helps growth because it promotes blood circulation. After massaging, I use coconut oil to finger detangle my hair and get all those nasty knots out. Depending on how I styled my hair during the week (and how long it's been since I've done this routine... sometimes I don't do it regularly enough... don't judge me), this step can take a loooong time.

A different angle of the style up top.

Step 2) The Hot Oil Treatment.

My hair is very kinky and very dry. To keep it moisturized, I do a hot oil treatment every week. I mix a few different oils together, kind of modeled after Naptural85's tutorial on how she makes her own. And yes, girl, I throw all of the oils pictured above into my bottle. 

I apply the oil to my hair very liberally. I soak it in the oil. Then I'll cover my head with a plastic cap (or two), or a plastic bag and then cover that with my Hot Head Thermal Heat Cap that I would have heated up in the microwave for a minute on each side (got that idea from NaturalMe4C). Leave the cap on for about 20 minutes and then it's time for Step 3...

Bantu knot out - 2nd day. #workselfie

Step 3) The Cleanse.

I used to just use apple cider vinegar (ACV) mixed with water for this part of my regimen (based on Hey Fran Hey's minimalist-type routine) but I recently decided to branch out and try some products. So, lately I've been using Shea Moisture's Jamaican Black Castor Oil (JBCO) line, which includes ACV as one of the main ingredients. I prefer to use one line of products because I feel like they work better together. But, to each her own.

When I'm ready to shampoo, I section my hair into four sections (used to be six but since it's growing I can get it into four sections! #happydance) and work one section at a time. In the shower, I apply the shampoo, massage my scalp again with my hand or the brush if I remembered to bring it with me, rinse out the shampoo, tie it back off and then go to the next section. My hair isn't long enough to stay twisted in four sections so I don't even bother to do that. After all of the sections are done, I use a t-shirt to wring out excess water.

Chunky twist out. Another #workselfie. I promise I actually do get work done!

Step 4) The Deep Condition.

Picture from www.beheautiful.com
Once my hair is clean, I apply the Shea Moisture JBCO deep treatment masque liberally to my hair and once again cover it with a plastic cap/bag and the thermal heat cap for 20 minutes or so. Sometimes I use my Heautiful Hair Steamer

After 20-ish minutes, I rinse the conditioner out of my hair with warm water, and then do a final rinse with cold water. 

Mini twist out.

Step 5) The Style.

Once my hair is washed and conditioned, I will let it air dry before trying to style it. I tried styling it while wet once and... well we don't want to go there. Just know that my hair so thick once I slap leave in conditioner and a styler over soaking wet hair, 10 hours can go by and my hair will just be damp. Not good.

Lately my go to style has been chunky twists. I used to LIVE for mini twists. But I got tired of spending seven+ hours twisting my hair... like, nonstop twisting. So now I will throw a few chunky twists in my hair, take them down the next day and go to work. I retwist at night... usually.

Again, this is just the basis of what I do... err, try to do. Depending on what's going on in my hair I may add or skip some steps. What about you? How do you rock your hair? How do you take care of it? Let me know in the comments!

And don't forget to subscribe to this blog find me on the social medias - IG & Twitter: @keshdontlye | Google+ +Kesh Don't Lye | Facebook: Kesh Don't Lye

"I actually love my natural hair when it's in a twist out and it's been slept on for five days and revived by the steam of the shower." - Solange Knowles

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Finance | Will You Accept the Challenge?

In my last post, I talked about how I was going to start saving money this year. 

If you don't have an emergency fund set up, I challenge you to start putting money aside, also. An emergency fund typically has enough money to cover three to six months (or more, depending on how in demand your services are) worth of living expenses in the event something happens and you can't work. I would tend to lean more toward the six months (or more) than the three months, just to err on the side of caution.

A lot of people don't save because it seems like too daunting of a task, but there really is nothing to it but to do it, and you want to make sure that if something happens you're not taking too much of a financial hit.

How to save?

First of all, when some people talk about saving for the first time, they suggest that you get a jar, label it, and put it on your kitchen counter. The psychology behind that is that you will see your progress and be motivated to work more. That will work if you have will power. If I had a jar of money sitting on my kitchen counter, I'd be motivated to spend it on myself to congratulate me for saving so much. Then I'd be back at square one. But that's just me.

I would suggest setting up a savings account that you cannot easily access. Either use a completely separate bank, or if you use the same bank don't link the accounts. Notice I said set up a savings account. The Federal government imposes limits on how many withdrawals you can make out of a savings account before you have to either pay fees or convert the account to a checking. The less convenient (and more costly) it is for you to access the money in your savings account, the less likely it is that you will use that money before you actually need it. 

Online banks are great for inconvenience, as you can't just walk into a branch and take your money out. They also tend to have slightly higher interest yields, because they don't have as much overhead as your brick-and-mortar banks.

You don't want to set up an account that makes it impossible for you to access or charges you penalties for withdrawing early (like a CD), though, because the goal is for this money to be available to you if you need it.

Here are just a few tips that you can start implementing immediately to start saving money. Most of these are little things that you can do that will add up to big dollars in the long run. Choose one to start out with and as your account grows, you'll be motivated to start finding more ways that you can save.

  1. Cut it out. Look for unnecessary things that you spend money on every day that you could do without. For me, if I change my habits and start making breakfast at home instead of eating at my office building cafe, I can save almost $50 each week. That's $2,600 for the year. Just for making breakfast at home. The trick, though, is to not spend more money on lunch or dinner just because I saved money on breakfast.
  2. Round it up! In the last post, I said that I spent $9.16 on breakfast and $7.80 on lunch. I could take the change ($0.84 from breakfast and the $0.20 from lunch) and transfer that money (either daily, weekly, or monthly) to an account that I can't access unless I want it bad enough that I'm willing to wait a few days for the transfer to come back through or get up and go to the bank (I told y'all I'm lazy right?). A few weeks ago, I went through my bank accounts all the way back to August to see how much money I would have saved if I had started this then. It was close to $700. Just from the change. [I may have a shopping problem.]
  3. #No[InsertYourNameHere]Dollars. If you can't cut out your $10 breakfasts every day, challenge yourself to choose just one day in the week where you don't spend any money. [It won't work if you go out and spend more money than normal the day before or after your No Money day.] Make sure you have enough gas to get around so you don't have to stop at the gas station and be tempted to buy something there. Make breakfast at home and pack your lunch that day so you don't spend that $7.80 on chili cheese fries and a drink. If you must go to a store and you see something you like, don't buy it. It will be there tomorrow. And tomorrow you might decide you don't even want it. Whatever money you saved by not spending that day, transfer it to your new savings account.
  4. Save your savings. Do y'all see these gas prices, though? It used to take almost $60 to fill up my gas tank but now it only takes about $35. I can take that $25 difference every time I fill up and put it into my savings account. I'm used to spending $60 anyway, so it will not be additional money coming out of my pocket. The same can be done for any other purchases that you make that you're saving money on. Using coupons at the grocery store? Put the money you saved into your savings account. Did you get a mail-in rebate from somewhere? Save it.
  5. Skip the pampering. When I was a kid, I used to go get my nails and hair done every week. That has long since stopped, mainly because my mom stopped paying for it. But if that's something that you do, consider going every other week for the mani/pedi or wash and set. Change your nail polish at home or wash your own hair and put it into a bun on your off week. This one might be hard but keep the finish line in your mind.
  6. Dupe it up! Opt for the cheaper (but still quality) version of things you buy. Instead of buying that $16 MAC lipstick, find the drugstore dupe for $4. Save the difference. You get where I'm going with this. This may require some research, but it's so worth it.
  7. Schedule your savings. We've all seen the "52-Week Money Challenge" floating around the internet for the past few years, especially around this time of year when people are making resolutions about saving money. I found a similar savings challenge schedule that breaks it down by your pay schedule. Some people suggest doing the money challenge backwards, so that you see results quicker and get the higher amounts out of the way before Christmas. If $1,400 at the end of the year is small peas to you, you can use a multiplier to save more. For example, if you're paid bi-weekly and you'd rather have $2,808 in the bank at the end of the year, just save twice as much as the schedule suggests. Save $8 in week one, $16 in week two, etc.

Remember that you don't have to start setting aside a huge amount per month. The beauty of these tips that I've shared is that for the most part, you aren't using any extra money. You're taking money that you're already used to spending and putting it aside for a rainy day. It's that simple. Even if at the end of the year, you find you've only saved a few hundred bucks, don't sweat. You'll have a few hundred more in savings than somebody who saved $0 per month. The most important tip I can give you is to GET STARTED and STICK WITH IT.

In the comments, let me know if you have any other suggestions or whether you've used any of the ideas presented here!

And, of course, don't forget to follow me on the social medias - IG & Twitter: @keshdontlye | Google+ +Kesh Don't Lye | Facebook: Kesh Don't Lye

Financial peace isn't about the acquisition of stuff. It's learning to live on less than you make, so you can give money back and have money to invest. You can't win until you do this. - Dave Ramsey

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Finance | I Ain't Rich


I spent almost $17 on breakfast and lunch today at the cafe' on the first floor of the office building I work in. For breakfast I had two eggs scrambled with cheese, three pieces of bacon, wheat toast, and an Arizona tea. It was $9.16. Lunch was literally just a small side of chili cheese fries, a small pack of peanuts to snack on, and another Arizona tea. It was $7.80.

I have been meaning to quit that cafe'. I really have. They've always been expensive, but last month they raised their prices and for a while I had decided that was the last straw. But it's SO convenient. It's right downstairs. And I'm SO lazy - on off days I will go all day without eating before I'd get up and go get something. But I really have to do better. Like, seriously.

The cafe' isn't the only place I overspend on food. I am super quick to spend $30+ on myself for ONE meal multiple times a week. Shout out to that steak and salmon combo and baked potato soup at Longhorn Steakhouse.

When I think about what I spent in 2014, food would be among the top three, trailing closely behind car and living expenses at first and second, respectively. I make decent money at my job and I'm not broke by any means, but that doesn't mean I need to be spending money left and right. I don't know who told me I can live this lavish lifestyle.

All the spending on food would not be such a bad thing if I had a lot of money in a savings account. But I don't. So starting this year, I will challenge myself to save more some money.

Now, I have a 401(k) at my job and I've set up a Roth IRA that I contribute $50 to each month, so I'm already saving for retirement. However, it's important to have an emergency fund that can cover three to six months of expenses so that if I lose my job (knocking on my dining room table), I will be good without having to take money out of my retirement (and paying those taxes/penalties) if I don't find a replacement job for a little while. I actually think setting up an emergency fund is the first thing you should do but I'm kind of late taking my own advice. Well, better late than never, right?

How I plan to do it:

I plan to implement a few things this year to be able to build up my savings account. I'll list them here, and share the details about these and other options that work in a different post. These techniques will be pretty simple to get started and I can start working on them right away.

1 - Eat breakfast at home and pack a lunch to avoid spending money at the cafe'. [Potential savings: approx $5,200 for the year]
2 - Participate in the 1 year money challenge. [Potential savings: approx $1,400 for the year]
3 - Round up my purchases. [Potential savings: approx $2,100 (estimated) for the year]
4 - Save my [gas] savings. [Potential savings: approx $1,000 for the year]

If I stick to these, then at the end of the year I should have almost $10,000 in the bank. #motivation That's more than I will need for an emergency fund, and I'll discuss later what I plan to do with the excess.

These techniques will be pretty simple to get started and I can start working on them right away. If you have any additional suggestions, please leave them in the comments! Do you plan on using any of these tips? If so, let me know which one and how it's worked for you!

And don't forget to follow me on the social medias. Come talk to me! IG & Twitter: @keshdontlye | Google+ +Kesh Don't Lye | Facebook: Kesh Don't Lye

The person who doesn't know where his next dollar is coming from usually doesn't know where his last dollar went. - Unknown

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

'Fros | Chunky Box Braids - First Impression

Two in a row... whoop whoop.

When I was younger I always heard that style was cyclical. My mom would talk about it whenever my friends and I were geeked about a new hot clothing trend. She would laugh at us and talk so much about how she used to wear the same clothes when she was growing up.

Yeah right, Mom. Y'all weren't this cool. Maybe it was similar, but it wasn't the same. Secret eye roll. I knew better than to roll my eyes in her face.

Fast forward to Saturday, January 3, 2015 and me walking into a braiding salon asking for long chunky box braids. AKA Poetic Justice braids. AKA The 90's called and they want their hairstyle back.

Mama always knows best.


Overall I love the braids, however somewhere between the last time I got my hair braided in box braids as a youngster and now, braiders have started doing this thing where they braid to the scalp about an inch and then braid out. I have a love/hate relationship with this technique. I love the technique because I feel like it takes some of the tension off of my hair. I feel like I don't have to worry as much about my hair being pulled. I hate the technique because it makes it hard, and kind of painful, to pull your hair up into a decent ponytail or bun.

Also, I wanted the braids to be burned at the ends but before I knew what was happening (I wasn't paying much attention...) the braider had dipped the braids into the boiling water to seal them. I thought about having them cut off the ends and burn them, but they had dipped the braids up to my head so each braid was completely wet. I really don't like the loose ends. I guess it's supposed to look more natural?

Another thing about these braids is that nobody told me how heavy they would be. Now, as a kid I wore braids more often than not, so I'm used to a little weight. But these braids are HEAVY. The first day was a beast getting used to the extra weight, especially since it took so long to dry. Not only was I carrying the weight of the hair itself, but also the water from when it was dipped. My neck is going to be super strong by the time these braids come out. I will probably be light enough to float. No flex. I'm seriously thinking about cutting them a little shorter anyway to I can burn the ends instead of having them loose so that will take care of a little bit of the weight.

It's also kind of hard to sleep with these braids, mainly because they are literally to my butt and I can't pull them up to a bun since they are still pretty tight and the whole braiding to the scalp thing. They've started to loosen up some, but it's still a task to get all if these thick braids into one ponytail.

I'll follow up in a few weeks after I've done a few scalp cleanses/washes to share how the braids have held up and whether or not how I feel about them has changed. My plan is to keep them in as long as I can without them looking busted.

FYI: This shirt is from Gwynnie Bee. I'm going to have a blog post on Gwynnie Bee soon, but check out the link in the meantime.

I styled the braids in a jumbo side braid. Ended up taking it down because I didn't like the way it framed my face.
Second way I styled the braids ended up having a retro look. I just pulled the sides back loosely and it ended up becoming what will probably be my signature look with these braids. I got so many compliments on this style, especially with the red lip!

Come talk to me! IG & Twitter: @keshdontlye | Google+ +Kesh Don't Lye | Facebook: Kesh Don't Lye

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore, Dream, Discover." –Mark Twain

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Year of Giving Back

Hey y'all! [In my southernest southern accent]

It's only been five days and I'm already changing my 2015 resolutions goals. Well, not really changing. Just adding to.

Goal #8 - Drink 5 liters of water a day. #healthyskinchallenge

Goal #9 - Give back.

I've decided that, for me, 2015 will be the year of giving back, and I'm now including a goal to participate in at least one community service event per month. Being the super introvert that I am, I could cheat and say that my community service event will double as a networking event, but then I'd be cheating myself. So I'll do one community service event and one separate networking event, to further push myself outside of my nice little hermit box I've made for myself on my couch in my living room.

Now, I've always been "into" community service. My mother was big on it so I grew to love it. I was the kid in high school that volunteered for way more hours than the measly 5 we were required to do each year (do they still make kids do community service?). Other kids were turning in their slips with literally just 5 hours recorded (or, if they were lazy, they'd wait 'til senior year and turn in a slip with 20 hours) and I'd have to fill out two or three sheets, ringing up over 80 hours a year. I might be exaggerating a bit, but the point is I did a lot of community service as a teen. Once I moved to college, however, things just kind of fell to the wayside, as they do. Every year since, I've tried to set up some group things but could never get that off the ground, and I don't like being around people I don't know so I wouldn't go by myself. But this year, I'm going to change that.


This year, I'm going to offer my volunteer services to 12+ different organizations in the Atlanta area. I'll commit myself, and invite others. If nobody else shows up with me, so be it. I'll keep my commitment. I've already signed myself up to help Habitat for Humanity on February 21, the day before my birthday, for 8 hours. There. Now that it's out in cyberspace, it must be true.

"The Year of Giving Back" is not just about donating my time, but also helping monetarily. Because, let's face it, time is cool and all but utility companies don't accept volunteer hours as payment. So, with that said, I am also planning a fundraising effort next month for a local not-for-profit organization next month. I'll reveal the details of that once I get everything confirmed. I'm actually pretty excited about it. It's something I've been wanting to do for YEARS but never organized early enough.

I'm really excited about this year and being able to make a difference. 

What are some ways that you can give back to your community?

Come talk to me! IG & Twitter: @keshdontlye | Google+ +Kesh Don't Lye | Facebook: Kesh Don't Lye

"Life isn’t about getting and having, it’s about giving and being."Kevin Kruse