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How Credit Unions Can Help You Achieve Financial Wellness

Finances are intimidating. We know it’s important to keep track of our spending and make efforts to build our savings, but it’s never that simple. First-job salaries can be tight, especially when you have student loans and rent to pay. As if working towards our personal finance goals wasn’t hard enough, we aren’t getting much help from the financial institutions we trust with our funds either. In fact, most of us are completely blindsided to the sneaky ways banks are making financial wellness even harder to achieve.

The fact is, banks don’t really care about helping millennials make the most of their money. They set high interest rates to help boost profits for their shareholders and cut rates on savings accounts to limit the growth of your wealth. At the end of the day, banks are businesses and, just like any competitive business, profits are the most important goal.

I may sound distrusting and pessimistic, but it is only because I know there are alternative avenues toward financial wellness that are being overlooked by far too many people. What is this alternative? Credit unions.

Don’t know what a credit union is? That’s okay. Most people have a very limited understanding of what these financial institutions are, let alone the enormous benefits they provide. I’ve put together an infographic to shed some light on this topic and share with you the ways in which credit unions can help you make the most of your money.

Credit Union vs. Banks Infographic

Now that you know more about credit unions, find one near you and join! Not only will your credit union membership give you better rates on financial products, but will also give you the tools you need to achieve financial wellness.

 

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5 Sheet Pan Recipes Great for Your Schedule, Wallet, and Body

“What are some of your hobbies?”

I feel like everyone hates this question. Every time I am asked what hobbies I have, I realize I’m actually a really dull person. Is “none” an appropriate answer??

Okay, I actually do have a hobby: I love to cook! It just doesn’t feel like it counts as a hobby because cooking is such a fundamental part of my everyday life. I’ve always loved to cook but fell out of the habit for a while because I felt too busy to spend time in the kitchen.

The truth is, cooking began to feel like a nuisance when I had so many other responsibilities filling my day. The issue was that I was used to cooking recipes that were fun to make, but way too elaborate. By changing my recipe collection to feature simple sheet pan recipes, I found the perfect balance between fun and functional.

So, what are these sheet pan recipes? Amazing. Here’s the idea:

  • Start out by covering a baking sheet with tin foil.
  • Mix up some chopped up veggies and meat (if that’s your protein of choice) in some olive oil and seasoning.
  • Throw the concoction on the baking sheet and into the oven.
  • And voila! Once it’s done cooking, you’re ready to eat.

Not only are these recipes quick to make, but cleanup is a breeze. Even though the concept is simple, these meals are just as delicious as some of my most elaborate dishes. Plus, they pack in tons of good-for-you nutrition and can fit even the strictest diets.

Here are some of my personal favorite baking sheet recipes:

Sweet Potato Chicken Broccoli Bake

Sweet Potato Broccoli Sheet Pan Recipe
Image from Stacie Hassing and Jessica Beacom of The Real Food Dietitians

Raise your hand if you love sweet potatoes more than I do (hint: NO hands should be up). I eat sweet potatoes nearly every other day, and this recipe is one of my go-tos for a quick fix.  This sheet pan recipe from The Real Food Dietitians is packed full of nutrition and has a fun twist with the addition of cranberries.

Chili Lime Salmon with Peppers

Chile Lime Salmon Sheet Pan Recipe
Image from Karina of Cafe Delites

Salmon can be a bit bland if not seasoned well, but this dish from Cafe Delites uses a quick and easy sauce that is bursting with flavor. This sheet pan recipe also features the full rainbow of peppers: red, green, and yellow. I like to include orange peppers as well for an added level of sweetness (plus they are my fav of the pepper family!).

Turkey Sausage and Mixed Veggies

Turkey Sausage and Veggie Sheet Pan Recipe
Image from Averie Sunshine of Averie Cooks

I like to have this recipe handy when I feel like doing something a little different from the standard chicken and vegetable meal. Turkey sausage is a healthier alternative to traditional sausage links but still adds a nice full flavor to this dish from Averie Cooks. This recipe features veggies like zucchini, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts, so even your tummy will be thanking you!

Teriyaki Chicken with Vegetables

Teriyaki Chicken with Vegetables Sheet Pan Recipe
Image from Alyssa Rivers of The Recipe Critic

Asian dishes have always been challenging for me to make but this meal is both simple and delicious. Kelly from Life Made Sweeter features a flavorful homemade teriyaki sauce recipe in this dish, but I have also used Kikkoman’s Teriyaki Sauce as an alternative when time is tight. The results are equally delicious and go well with the pineapple, broccoli, carrots, and edamame beans.

Baked Apple Pork Chops and Green Beans

 

Baked Apple Pork Chops and Green Beans Sheet Pan Recipe
Image from Chungah Rhee of Damn Delicious

This is one of my personal favorites for the fall months because it leaves my kitchen smelling like an autumn scented candle! This dish from Damn Delicious is a heartier sheet pan recipe that includes a deliciously sweet glaze for the apples and pork chops.

If you haven’t tried out any sheet pan recipes yet, these recipes give you some great ideas of how to get started. It’s tough to find the time (and motivation) to cook during busy work weeks, but these recipes are an awesome solution that pack in lots of flavor and nutrition. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some cooking to do!

 

Tried one of these sheet pan recipes out? Let me know about your experience! I would love to hear any thoughts or recommendations for other easy cooking ideas. Comment below and share your story. 

 

 

Thinking of Relocating? 4 Things You’ll Need to Do First

The past five years of my life have been marked by constant movement. I have spent these past few years relocating from beloved college towns to bustling cities. My journey (so far) looks something like this:

Map of RelocatingEach move came as the result of incredible opportunities that helped me gain professional experience and grow as an individual. But I’ll be honest: The constant instability and uncertainty that came along with each move was overwhelming at times.

Whether you are a recent college graduate searching for your first job or a professional embarking on a new career path, the decision whether or not to move to a new city can be difficult. It can be tempting to jump right into a new adventure, but there are crucial aspects of your life you need to consider before biting the bullet and relocating to a new city.

I had to learn the hard way that many logistical and emotional challenges accompany these major transitions. If you are considering relocating, take a moment to do the following:

Consider your networks

Do you have family or friends in the area that can help to ease your transition? Are you in a serious relationship with someone who has a career established in a different location? Our social networks play a crucial role in our lives, so you will want to consider the opportunities and consequences relocating will have on these relationships.

Reflect on what your first couple months of college looked like if you moved away from home to go to school. Did you thrive by immersing yourself in a new environment and creating new relationships? Or did it take you some time to cope with the separation from your family and friends back home? Looking back on your transition into college can provide you with a strong idea of how you may handle relocating to a new area in which you may have less networks established.

Take a visit

If you haven’t actually been to the area you are looking at, you have to make a trip before you make your decision! Big cities in particular can be represented in movies and on social media as glamorous, dream homes. What we don’t often see in these images is the day-to-day experiences of living in these cities.

Exploring the city will give you the opportunity to get a feel for the culture and see if it seems like it fits well with your values and interests. It can be tricky to get a complete picture of a city’s culture with one trip, so use tools like StreetAdvisor to learn more about specific neighborhoods and places to explore in the area.

Assess your finances

Moving is an expensive endeavor when you consider the cost of moving your belongings, signing a new lease, and buying essentials for your apartment. Think honestly about your income to expenses ratio. This may be your dream city, but is it financially feasible?

Look at apartment prices and average cost of living expenses to evaluate your ability to support your lifestyle financially. You can use tools like the cost of living calculator to compare prices of essentials to give you concrete numbers to reference when outlining a budget. Don’t forget to consider the nonessentials too – you’ll want to have a little extra cash to explore the city and have some fun!

Think long-term

Be honest with yourself: Is this a job that will provide opportunities to grow in the future or is it a first-job-out-of-college situation? You’ll want to be sure that this decision aligns with your values and long-term goals before making the commitment to move. Consider whether you or not you see yourself staying at your workplace or city for the long haul, or if you think of this more as a stepping stone for bigger goals.

 

By doing these four things, you will set yourself up to make the decision that is right for you. Making the decision is only the first step; the Advice from a Twentysomething blog offers 5 steps to follow if you choose to move to the new city. These tips will help ease your transition and get you off to a strong start.

Regardless of the decision you make, take a moment for gratitude for the opportunity in front of you. Having the ability to make a major change and advancement in your life is both a blessing and a direct result of your dedication to your goals. Look at this opportunity with honesty to yourself and openness to your future. 

 

The Quarter-Life Crisis: Let’s Talk About It

quarter-life crisis

/ˈkwɔːtəˌlaɪf

noun

a crisis that may be experienced in one’s twenties, involving anxiety over the direction
and quality of one’s life

Sound familiar?  It’s that overwhelming sense that you need to have your career and life figured after several years post-graduation, but are still facing a lot of instability and uncertainty in your life. Hint: it’s kind of why I’m writing this blog.

The quarter-life crisis is running rampant amongst young professionals. In fact, the Guardian reported that 86% of millennials have experienced some of the characteristics associated with this phenomenon, including insecurity, disappointment, and even depression.

Why is this happening to so many people? Well, it’s a pretty messy mix of things coming together all at once:

We’ve discovered college ≠ career

We’ve been told our entire lives that the path to success in adulthood looks something like this: Work hard in school, get into a “good” university, study hard take opportunities as they come, graduate with your degree, land your dream job doing what you love.

It’s just not that easy.

The bachelor’s degree is the new high school diploma: more employers are seeking candidates with at least a bachelor’s degree for entry-level positions that formerly were  granted to individuals without a college education. That means that a degree alone isn’t the only thing you need to land that job.

You’ve gotta have experience.

College gets you the degree, but doesn’t guarantee the work experience. Millennials oftentimes fall into the quarter-life crisis when they face this realization during their initial job search after graduation. Many end up taking positions completely unrelated to their educational background to get by, creating a sense of being lost and resentful.

We’re drowning in debt

A college degree may not promise you your dream job, but it almost certainly guarantees a hefty pile of debt to pay off. The average amount of student loan debt held by millennials is roughly $30,000. We can defer payment on our loans if we are unemployed or financially unable to make payments after graduation, but that doesn’t stop interest from building on our loans.

Being saddled with this level of debt right out of college has caused many millennials to push back major milestones. Millennials are waiting longer to get married and buy homes because of financial restrictions. Forget the mid-life crisis: Our life timelines have shifted so drastically that we now have the quarter-life crisis.

In fact, the timeline of our parents’ generation simply doesn’t apply to current twenty somethings anymore. We are facing debt levels and living expenses that far exceed what was faced in the generation before us. As a generation, we are collectively coping with the reality that our twenties simply won’t play out the way we thought they were supposed to.

We live in the age of social media

It seems inescapable. We have our phones with us at all times, and having a social media presence has become a societal norm. If you’re not using social media, you’re out of the loop. If you’re on social media (which, of course you are), you see everyone’s highlight reel.

Scroll through Instagram and you’ll see the beautiful pictures from your former classmate’s vacation in Italy. Log onto Facebook and you’ll see your best friend’s sparkling new engagement ring. You get it… Everyone else is living the perfect life except you.

Social media has been linked to increased isolation and higher levels of depression with frequent users. It makes sense: When we’re constantly exposed to the highlight reels of our peers, it’s only natural to compare ourselves and feel down that our life doesn’t seem to stack up.

It’s not all that bad though…

Although there are some pretty big challenges facing us in our twenties, we won’t lose sight of the bigger picture. The quarter-life crisis is temporary; little by little, we work through the frustration, anxiety, and uncertainty to come out more confident and capable than before.

Despite the downsides of life as a twenty-something in the twenty first century, there are so many benefits. New technologies connect us in ways that give us incredible opportunities to share our stories with one another. We have the ability to seek tools and resources to set ourselves up for success in our careers, and find information that will help us cope with all of the emotional challenges we face during these times.

My hope is that this blog will become one of the tools that helps you work through some of the challenges you may be feeling during a quarter-life crisis. We have the power to set ourselves up for success in our twenties, so let’s do it.