Kali Hawlk

Financial Writer & Digital Marketer

How We’re Having a Holly Jolly Anti Consumer Christmas

Anti Consumer Holiday

I can’t wait to celebrate Christmas this year. It’s a good thing, then, that we’re celebrating tomorrow!

That’s one way we’re doing Christmas differently. Here’s the other: my side of the family, which consists of me, my husband, and my parents (I’m an only child), all agreed that we wouldn’t buy gifts from the store this year.

Every year, I’ve felt more and more uncomfortable with the idea of buying something my parents don’t need to give to them in exchange for something my parents bought that I don’t need to give to me. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Christmas.. but the gifts part bums me out.

I don’t like what the whole gift-giving thing does to my mindset. It distracts me from what’s important and what makes me really happy, and puts the focus on stuff that doesn’t matter: namely, stuff. When we’re talking about a set of adults exchanging gifts, that ritual causes me a lot of stress and worry and unhappiness. Continue reading

Do You Need Help to Train Your Way to Financial Fitness?


Editor’s Note: Today is my dad’s birthday! Happy birthday, Dad — hope you have a great day.

Finances have a lot in common with fitness and health.

There are tangible links between the two — for example, free or frugal activities are often healthy ones, too, when we talk about walking, running, or hiking.

Some connections are more subtle. The one I often think about is how budgets and diets have so much in common and require the same sort of stuff to stick to: determination, willpower, and a smart plan. Good money management habits happen over time and require lifestyle changes — just like losing weight or gaining fitness.

All this being said, I loved the title of fellow blogger and friend Shannon McLay’s book, Train Your Way to Financial FitnessThe idea that you could take action and train your way to a good financial situation really resonated with me.

Because the fact is, there are no fix-it-quick schemes that really work. Just like good health, good finances take time and hard freakin’ work to achieve. Continue reading

Are You Ready to Simplify Your Life?

Simplify Your Life

On Monday, I decided to go and get most of my hair chopped off.

Okay, I may be exaggerating a bit — but that’s what it felt like. After over a decade of having long to super long hair, I was ready to quit dealing with it.

It takes for-freakin’-ever to wash long hair. To condition long hair. To wring out long hair. To dry long hair. To style it, no matter how you do it.

So I went in armed with pictures of gorgeous girls who had lob-style haircuts (that’s short for long bob, apparently) and got my own. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve already seen it!

And I’m already way happier with this lower-maintenance look. Getting my hair cut in a way that’s easier (and faster) to deal with and manage is just one more step in my efforts to simplify.

How I’ve Moved Towards a More Simple Life

Maybe it just means I’ve officially realized I’m actually aging, but I recently decided that life is just too short to spend hours worrying about your hair as I was doing.

Life is also too short for me to choose to feel overburdened by material possessions, or to obsess over what other people have that I don’t.

Life is more fun and enjoyable when there is less to distract me from what’s important and what means the most to me: experiences I treasure and people I love to be around.

I’ve moved toward a more simple life by minimizing clutter, eliminating waste where I can, only buying what I need (when it comes to stuff), practicing gratitude, and appreciating something every day.

I don’t have any use or want for things that complicate life. The latest and greatest tech or gadgets? The few items I have are still working fine, thanks. Furniture I don’t use regularly? There’s nothing wrong with that room that no one goes into being empty. Single-purpose kitchen tools? The worst!

But what’s had a bigger impact on living simply, more than any action I could take (or not take), is my mindset.

That goes back to wanting not, wasting not, finding something to feel happy about every single day, and eliminating one point of stress every single day. Continue reading

Set Up Your Side Hustle: Creating Systems and Processes


A few months back on the blog, I started the Side Hustle Shuffle series. I’d like to revisit those posts today in order to answer a great question I received from a reader about how to actually run a side hustle once it’s established.

If you need a recap, here are the first four posts in this side hustle series:

Here’s the smart reader question submitted by Amanda of My Life I Guess:

I’m having such a hard time finding a “guide to setting up your side hustle” from the administrative/paperwork side of things. What documentation do I need for my income taxes? Do I even have to claim this income because there’s no official contract (both gigs are with other bloggers, not companies)? Should I be tracking my hours as well as income? What is considered a business expense? How do I cut down on paying PayPal fees? I could go on and on!

Amanda, I hope this post can be your comprehensive guide that walks you through how to…

Set Up Your Side Hustle

It’s easy to get caught up on establishing a side hustle.

Discovering your sweet spot, or the intersection of what you’re good at, what you love to do, and what people are happy to pay you to do, takes a lot of thought and consideration. Doing a bit of research, even testing your idea, takes time — and so does establishing your own platform on a blog or social media channels to spread the good word about what you’re doing. Actually getting to that hustle and finding work is tough and takes a lot of effort.

But it’s all just the beginning. You still have a whole other set of important tasks to work hard on: you have to set up your side hustle to run efficiently. You need to know how to be your own “office manager” and handle administrative tasks and paperwork dealing with your income, expenses, taxes, client or account management….

Think you don’t need to worry about this stuff if your side hustle is something low-tech or straightforward like landscaping or dog walking?

Think again, my friend — and then start taking yourself more seriously. Continue reading

Millennials and Credit Cards: Why We Need a Better Relationship

Millennials and Credit Card

According to a recent Bankrate survey, 63% of Millennials aged 18 to 29 do not have a credit card. 23% say they have one card, while 6% say they have two.

Only 2% of people my age have 3 or more credit cards.

Guess what camp I’m in?

This Millennial Loves Credit Cards

That’s right. I said it. I love my credit cards. I love ‘em so much I have six of those suckers:

  • A regular bank-issued card
  • Two store cards
  • Two other rewards cards
  • A business card

The bank-issued card was my very first credit card. I got it in college and used it to buy gas for my car. That was it for about a year.

Then I got a store card with Target, because their RedCard gives you 5% cash back immediately. In other words, I get 5% off anything I buy at Target.

This was really the start of me taking advantage of whatever credit card issuers were going to give me. I use your card and you give me a discount on this stuff I needed to buy anyway? I’ll take that deal all day long!

That’s the same reason I grabbed the REI Visa two years ago. (REI is really the only store we regularly shop at because all our hobbies revolve around the outdoors.)

Then, the Holy Grail, what really sealed the deal on my love of credit cards. I stumbled upon travel hacking and learned that credit card companies were actually willing to foot the bill for my travels.

All I had to do was sign up, plan to put my usual spending on that card to get the sign up bonus, and rewards points worth hundreds of dollars would rain down from the credit card companies — who didn’t make a cent off of me personally, as I always paid off my balance. Suckers.

I saved nearly a thousand dollars on our spring trip overseas with one card. And I’ve scored 3 free round-trip flights on the other this year, too.

Finally, to round out the credit card collection is my business card. Pretty self-explanatory — and you better believe that’s a rewards card too.

So that’s why I love credit cards so gosh-darn much. Here’s a quick list of benefits I receive:

  • Free money from cash back cards
  • Steeply discounted or completely free travel (airfare, hotel stays, etc) from rewards cards
  • A secure way to make purchases everywhere I go (Because if my credit card information is stolen, I can dispute the charges and resolve the issue without having any actual cash leave my possession. If your debit card information is stolen? Good luck, Chuck, because that thief as a direct line of access to your cash money.)
  • An easy way to build and maintain an excellent credit score

Continue reading

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