My most highly requested blog post EVER. Here you go, people.

How to Start Budgeting for Beginners// Hey, Annie Demm

1// Write down your expected income for the month

Write down all of your expected income for this month. The key is to get this as H I G H as you possibly can. Working overtime, attending paid training, selling things on eBay or Facebook marketplace, or picking up a second or third job can all make this happen. The higher this number is, the faster you will be able to pay off debt/save.

2// Write down all your ESSENTIAL bills

Write down the expenses that are essential. Rent/mortgage, electric, water, phone bill, insuranc ARE essential to live. Cable, internet, Spotify, etc. ARE NOT ESSENTIAL. If you do not need it to survive, it does not go here.


3// Write down all your ESSENTIAL spending

Write down everything you need to survive that is not a bill but is something like groceries and gas. Clothing, haircuts, date night, coffee money DO NOT GO HERE. If you do not need it to survive, it does not go here.

4// Assess your ESSENTIAL expenses

Look at what you are spending on absolute essentials to survive. You HAVE to make these payments each month or you won’t have a place to live or food to eat. These are your essentials. You cannot worry about paying off debt until you make sure you and your family are taken care of. YES, these come before your debt payments or anything else. And yes, they all must be paid for in cash (or on a debit card). They may NOT be paid on a credit card!

5// Write down all your NON-ESSENTIAL bills

For us, this includes everything from our Spotify subscription to our student loan payments to our internet bill. These are things you can CONTROL. You want to get this number as low as possible. What can you cut out? Can you cancel your cable subscription? Gym membership? What needs to go to get this number as low as possible.

6// Write down all your NON-ESSENTIAL spending

This is the real “budgeting” part. You are 100% in control here and you decide how much or how little you spend. You decide what you are going to be spending on. This is the secret sauce, people! So listen up.
This is where we have things such as eating out, date night, clothing, household, gifts, classroom supplies, coffee money, pedicure money….literally anything that isn’t going to kill you if you took it away. You decide how much you spend per month on this stuff. Try to get this number as L O W as possible. What can you cut out? What can you cut back on?

I once went two years without a manicure. I shopped at Walmart for clothes. Our eating out included Chick-Fil-A once a month. We only did date nights that were free. I only went to Starbucks if I had a gift card. Was it the most fun in the world? Definitely not. Did it help us become credit card debt-free and pay off a huge student loan? YES.

7// Add up all your essential AND non-essential bills and spending.

Add up all the money you are expecting to spend in any way this month.

8// Income - expected spending = $$$$$

Subtract your expected spending from your expected income. What are you left with? Whatever number you have, THROW THIS MONEY ONTO YOUR DEBT (or into your savings, depending on your goal!) This is how we paid off so much debt so quickly. It really works. Get your income HIGH and your spending LOW. Use the extra money to throw it in mass chunks towards your goals. (I usually take a small portion of the leftover money to add to our savings, while throwing the rest at debt. You cannot focus on saving a ton of money and paying off a ton of debt at the same time. You have to pick one. So we put a little in our savings and throw the rest at student loan debt)

Here’s a BUDGET PRINTABLE FOR FREE that is hopefully super helpful! Let me know your feedback!

How to Create Financial Goals //

The very first thing you need to do before you even think about creating a budget is to figure out your WHY. Why do you care so much about getting a budget? What do you hope to achieve? Sounds really cliche but I promise you that it is WORTH IT to take the time to sit down and figure these things out.

Why You Need to Create Financial Goals (and How) // Hey Annie Demm

Finding Your Financial “WHY”

First thing I want you to do is think short-term. What financial goal would you like to reach within the next year? Make it something that is realistic and achievable. If you are in six-figures of debt, aiming to be “debt-free” in a year probably isn’t going to be realistic (but hey, maybe it is!). Here are some examples:

  • “I’d like to pay off my $3,000 credit card balance”

  • “I’d like to pay off my smallest student loan”

  • “I’d like to have $5,000 in savings”

  • “I’d like to take my spouse on a weekend getaway

When I started my journey back in March 2017, my short-term goal was to get $1,000 in savings. It was realistic, straight-forward and an actionable baby step.
My current short-term goal is to pay off my smallest student loan, which is currently around $900.

Using a Five Year Plan

Okay, now that we’ve dipped our toes into financial goal setting, now I want you to think five year. Who do you want to be in 5 years? What kind of life do you hope to lead? Where would you like to be financially? My five year financial goals are:

  • Be completely debt-free by 30 years old

  • Have our house fully renovated

  • Have traveled internationally extensively

  • Be working a job that I love and is more flexible than teaching

  • Be able to give and surprise others generously

Think of being debt-free. Think of owning a home. Think of owning your car. Think of paying in cash for vacations. Think of making six-figures. Think of giving generously. Think of where you could be in just 5 years time. Now, you have a job. GO WRITE THIS DOWN. I revisit my financial goals- including my five year plan- every moth when I do my budget. It reminds me of why I’m cutting back in certain areas or why I’m throwing so much money at debt instead of eating out.

Find Your Big Goal

Okay, one last thing. Use your short-term goal and your five year plan to find your THING. By now, you should have a pretty sturdy idea of what you need to do in order to get to where you want to be in five years. For me, I know my big goal is that I want to be debt-free. Maybe your why is that you want to have $20,000 in savings. You want to have a down payment for a house. You want to be out of credit card debt. You want to pay for your kid’s college. What is your goal? Tell me in the comments!

Tell me what your big, wild financial goals are!

Turning 26 in NYC //

It’s official! I am 26! I am the kind of person who does NOT like having birthday parties. Believe it or not, I hate the attention and I always feel awkward. My favorite thing to do on my birthday is TRAVEL. Seeing new places breathes fresh life into me and so when Brandon surprised me in March with HAMILTON TICKETS FOR MY BIRTHDAY, I was SO EXCITED.

In case you weren’t aware, I am a huge Broadway nerd. I have been seeing Broadway shows since I was 5 years old and I would ask every year if we could see a new show. My dream would be to be on Broadway one day. There is something about a Broadway musical that just makes me so HAPPY. I’ve been obsessed with Hamilton (i.e. listening to the soundtrack on a daily basis and watching bootleg clips of it on Instagram) for about a year now. But tickets are still super pricey. But….Brandon, my parents and my sister-in-law and brother went in on tickets for me and Brandon for my birthday and I am not kidding when I tell you it was literally the best birthday present I have ever received.

My 26th Birthday in NYC // Hey, Annie Demm

We drove to NYC Saturday morning. After a Starbucks stop, we parked in Staten Island ($8 a day, people!) and then took the shuttle to the Staten Island ferry which is FREE, and gives you amazing views of the city. We bought our metro card and hopped on the subway and then walked to our hotel, which had the most amazing views (we found our hotel on Groupon!) We stayed at the Bentley Hotel and had a fantastic time.

My 26th Birthday in NYC //

We were starving so we went to Quantum Leap for lunch, which had the best vegan curry burger. We walked around the neighbor and ended up in a Duane Reed to get snacks and toiletries we forgot. (Anyone else ALWAYS forget something?!) We went back to the hotel to take a quick nap and shower before heading out for the evening.

We got all dressed up and then headed to Lilli + Loo for gluten-free Chinese food. They were so knowledgeable about gluten-free and had an amazing menu. Even though Brandon hates Asian food (and it happens to be my favorite), we both got sushi rolls to start off the birthday celebration (since sushi is my favorite food!)

We then Ubered to Richard Roger Theater and waited in line for Hamilton! I probably looked like a fool because I was literally bouncing up and down, waiting for the doors to open. Once we were in, I kept tearing up because I felt so blessed and lucky to be crossing something like this off my bucket list.


The show was BEYOND INCREDIBLE. I was stunned at the end of each scene. The performance was amazing….and I am getting goose-bumps just thinking about it. Brandon is not as into Broadway as I am, but he was singing along and the first person to jump up and give a standing ovation at the end.


After that, we were NOT ready to head back home and it was only an hour or so until midnight when it would officially be my birthday, so we headed to P.S. Kitchen. It’s an amazing plant-based restaurant and bar and ALL the proceeds go to charity. We got drinks and then we split a gluten-free vegan brownie sundae and it was literally the best way to end the day and ring in my birthday at midnight.


The next day, we woke up and it was my birthday! We went for a run along the East River. The weather was beautiful and it was such a lovely start to the day. After our run, we wanted to head to Quantum Leap for brunch, but they weren’t open yet. So, we decided to just head back to the hotel and shower and get started with our next part of the day.

Within walking distance to our hotel was the Roosevelt Island Tram. I had never seen this in person before but I had seen it on one episode of Impractical Jokers (our fave show to watch together). It’s a cable car that takes you from the East side to Roosevelt Island, which is a tiny island in the East River between Manhattan and Queens. People live and work there and it is the best place to get some peace and quiet in the big city.

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We bought our metro card for the tram and off we went. It was such a cool way to see the city. While we were on the tram, we met a family from Dublin. They were so nice and gave us great recommendations for our upcoming trip in August. Once we were on the island, we walked around and found a Starbucks. We wandered to Eleanor’s Pier to soak in the great views.

We then took the subway from Roosevelt Island to Rockefeller Center where we ate lunch at one of our favorite plant-based restaurants, by.Chloe. It’s a vegan “fast food’ joint and it is SO GOOD. I got the vegan BLT with avocado and Brandon got vegan bacon Mac and Cheese. We got two cupcakes to go and headed to Central Park!


We both love Central Park and we wandered around for a while. We stopped to listen to jazz music on a bench. We dog watched (kinda like people watching, except…with dogs). Finally, we made it to the thing I was looking forward to most…. a boat ride in Central Park! I had heard that you could rent a boat in Central Park for $15 and row it anywhere in The Central Park Lake.

There was a line but we waited, even in the high humidity. It went pretty quick…and the guy who helped us with our boat was also from Ireland! He was so nice and gave us lots more suggestions, as well. We had the best time on our boat. We did have faulty oars though, and Brandon and I kept cracking up about how ridiculously hard it was to row. We finally found a spot away from all the other boats and we had the most perfect little cupcake picnic on our boat. It was so magical and the most perfect moment.

After that, we both were exhausted from the heat and walking SO MUCH, so we sat on a bench and listened to the performers in the park. We both began to get hangry and I got so frustrated because our phones didn’t have service and I was trying to look up if there was any gluten-free place nearby. That’s the one thing that is really challenging about having dietary restrictions- when you are traveling, it can get frustrating. Brandon was gracious enough to let us get an Uber back to Lili + Loo for more sushi.

After that, we went back to the hotel to pick up our bags, and then got an Uber back to the Staten Island ferry. We drove home and plopped into bed- tired, sore, but so, so, so happy and grateful for the actual best birthday weekend ever. :)

5 Things to Buy To Help You Survive Winter//

5 Things to Buy To Help You Survive Winter//

I shared the other day on Instagram Stories that I had bought a few things to help me survive the winter. You guys, I am NOT playing around this winter. I am refusing to let winter get me down and keep me from being happy. Seasonal depression is REAL but there are so many things you can do to fight it…or simply just have a more enjoyable winter.

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How to Fight Anxiety and Depression in the Winter//

How to Fight Anxiety and Depression in the Winter//

I’ve shared before about my struggles with anxiety and depression, and in the winter months, things can feel really out of control with my mental health. This year, I am doing EVERYTHING I can to support my mental health and help myself stay happy and healthy, even when it is cold and dark out.

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