March 18, 2016

In a week from tomorrow, I’ll be leaving Portland and moving back to Los Angeles. I say “back” because that’s where I’m from. I’ve been living in Portland for nearly 4.5 years and I’m feeling excited to take this next step in my journey.

Many early readers may know that I didn’t want to move to Portland — I moved for my partner (and we’re still together!), but struggled to enjoy this place.

The rain, struggling economy and the overall vibe just wasn’t me. I know it’s a pretty hip place and I’ve come to like it, but I’ve never felt like it was home. It’s a bizarre feeling to live somewhere for several years and feel like you are just waiting to move on, because it’s not where you are supposed to be.

But as I start preparing for my move, I’m getting more emotional about this place. It’s not so much about leaving, but everything this place represents.

This place ran me through the grinder and then pushed me to the top. When I moved here and struggled to find work, I was severely depressed and doing any gigs I could get in order to get by. I hit a new low and ended up on food stamps.

After living here for a year, I had to find an outlet for myself. Something away from the rejection and everything else I felt was out of my control.

Although I complain a lot about how much I struggled and how much I didn’t like it here in those early days, I can guarantee you that I would not have started this blog without that struggle.

I would not have eventually quit the nonprofit job I found (after 1.5 years of living here) to be my own boss. And I’m pretty positive I wouldn’t have doubled my income or paid off debt so quickly if I would have stayed in NYC or moved to LA right away.

In other words, I was meant to be in Portland for a season. I think I’ve grown and learned so much in the past 4.5 years and have met wonderful, beautiful friends I wouldn’t have met otherwise.

Sometimes out of struggle, something beautiful can be born. Even when things are bad, there can be a silver lining.

There are times where you may feel like you are in limbo. A feeling that I’ve been very familiar with for the past few years and am experiencing now. It’s a feeling of being away from where you used to be, but not quite where you want to be.

I’ve always had one foot out the door, wondering when it was going to be time to pack my bags. Now the time has come and there are so many changes on the horizon.

Moving is such a pain and I’m reminded now of just how much there is to do to move your life to another state.

My finances feel like they’re in limbo as well. Earlier in the month, I wanted to boast how much I saved. I felt like a rockstar, investing $2,500 in index funds and saving a few more thousand dollars in my emergency fund, travel fund and moving fund. But then earlier this month, after doing my taxes, I found out I owed. I had some saved, but guess what? Not enough.

Don’t worry, I’m not going back into debt. It just means my “salary” is less this month. But then next month I am going to Italy and I don’t think I have enough saved. Then in another month or two, after I look for a real place (crashing with family first) I’ll have to throw down some money for a security deposit, used furniture and the like.

In other words, I feel kind of stuck and like my finances will just be getting by for the next few months.

Part of me wonders if I was hasty to get out of debt so quickly, as clearly I am lacking in regards to my other savings goals. But I can’t think that way. I don’t regret getting out of debt when I did. I won’t get into debt for any of these things, it just means that I may not be able to be a savings and investing rockstar like I wanted (right away). Life is happening and very quickly at that.

I will definitely keep you posted about all my adventures and financial mishaps, struggles and triumphs. As I said, I felt pretty amazing in February with how much I saved and invested, but this month was a brutal slap of reality.

The next few months will be expensive, there’s just no two ways about it. In a way, though, I’m grateful I can afford these things. These things are happening precisely because I CAN afford them.

The past few years have been stagnant because I was working on the singular goal of getting out of debt. Now that I’m debt-free, life is happening rather fast, but it’s the life I finally want to be living.

I want all of my readers to continue to work hard and get out of debt too, because it feels so good! I’m also pleased to announce that J. Money from Budgets Are Sexy is matching my contributions for my #debtfairygodmother project.

So, every month I’m still choosing a reader/commenter and donating a portion of my blog income to help them pay off debt. Sometimes just a little extra can go a long way and I know that! So don’t ever give up!

Next week, I’ll probably be running around like a crazy person, so will have a week of wonderful dear debt letters! I’m so excited as they’re SO good. You all inspire me every day. Keep fighting the good fight and just remember if you are feeling in limbo or like things suck, that there might be a reason for the season, or a silver lining you can’t see yet. Just keep your eyes open.


Melanie is a freelance writer currently living in Portland, Oregon. She is passionate about education, financial literacy, and empowering people to take control of their finances. She writes about breaking up with debt, freelancing, and side hustle adventures at

Currently she puts more than 50% of her income towards debt, while living a frugal, fun life. In addition to her love of personal finance, art and music, she is also a karaoke master. Follow the adventure @DearDebtBlog.

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42 responses to “In Limbo”

  1. Moving has to be one of my least favorite activity, but as you mentioned it signals a new chapter/season in your life and of all places to be going California is not a bad choice. I have family is So-cal and when it snows in my area, i get pictures of the beach and sunsets.

    Looking forward to hearing about Italy as well, that is at the top of my list to visit, here it is a wonderful place to visit. Safe travels.
    Joseph @ MedSchool Financial recently posted…3 ways to save money and safeguard your health at Age 50My Profile

    • Melanie says:

      SoCal has the best weather and stunning geography! If you come and visit, let me know 🙂 I’m very excited about Italy as well! It will be me and my mom’s first time there and will be a much-needed vacation.

  2. I’m sure you’ll get back on track soon! It’s funny because the way you feel about Portland is the way I feel about LA. It’s not my forever home, I can just feel it, but I’m not sure where is!
    Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted…The One Thing I Sold That I RegretMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Yeah, I’m not sure where my ‘forever’ home is either. LA is home home, but even now I don’t see myself living there forever either. This is why homeownership is not right for me. I honestly can’t see myself anywhere for more than 5 years. But we’ll see 🙂

  3. Chris says:

    Good luck in your move! You’ve done an awesome job with debt repayment and have been very brave to tell the world about it. Thanks so much for putting this blog together.

  4. I hope you find more happiness in your new location. I moved to follow a guy too, and while the place I’m at now is great, it’s not my first pick and definitely hasn’t been kind to me money-wise either. I know how it feels!
    Lindsay @ the Notorious D.E.B.T. recently posted…How to Budget Like A Boss: Step Five – Dummy-Proof Your SavingsMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      I already know I will for two reasons: sunshine and family! I know what you’re going through. It can be tough on a relationship, but hopefully you find your groove. You are in CO, right? What area? There are tons of bloggers in Denver and I can connect you. They meet up on a regular basis.

  5. Holly says:

    I love it that you keep it real and don’t sugarcoat your debt-free journey, and that it has often been a struggle, exhausting and hasn’t always gone as hoped or planned, but there is the proverbial silver lining. The reality version gives us hope and helps to keep us on track when we bump into what can seem like insurmountable obstacles. Not to be too pollyannaish, but you did it and survived, so can we! Happy for you that you’re going home again and will be interested in hearing about how you deal with the unexpected expenses it entails.

    • Melanie says:

      Thanks, Holly! Hah, definitely not about sugarcoating anything. Getting out of debt is hard! Even trying to find your way afterward is, too. You CAN get out of debt, too! I know it. Will be sure to share my up and down financial journey now that I’m out of debt!

  6. Aaron says:

    Here’s hoping that, if it comes down to it, any new debt is “good debt” and short term!

    It’s hard transition cities as an adult – even if it’s a homecoming. If you’re looking for a new friend in LA let me know =]
    Aaron recently posted…Required Reading – 3/18/16My Profile

  7. Colin Ashby says:

    I love how you’re transparent in telling us how debt-free life is going for you. It’s funny because I’m actually visiting Portland next week! Ah!

    I wish you all the best in your new home. Your blog has really helped me in positive thinking as I get out of debt.
    Colin Ashby recently posted…SXSW 2016: Day 1My Profile

  8. Good luck on the move! Never fun always so much to do. You hustled your way to paying off debt and I’m sure you’ll find a way in LA to do it again to increase savings! Good luck!
    Brian @ Debt Discipline recently posted…Talking Personal FinanceMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      You’re right. I’ve been in a weird place finishing up my book, taxes and now moving, so haven’t had time to hustle as hard — nor have I wanted to haha. Taking a break a bit. But once I get settled, I know I’ll feel more energized and ready to work more and make more.

  9. Tyler says:


    I have lived in Florida now for 10 years and have hated all of it. Now don’t get me wrong there’s fun people here, I met my wife here, and I love my life. But the climate here, just is not my style and brings me a strong desire to move. So I really understand living somewhere you don’t like.

    Even though you’re struggling with finances it still has to feel amazing to not have any debt to pay anything you pay for right now is in cash you pay it and forget about it. When you were in debt you paid for it on credit and thought about it and thought about it and thought about it. As difficult the situation is its still better and I’m so happy you got out of debt.

    • Melanie says:

      Glad you feel me! Hope you can move away at some point to some place that makes you happy. So glad I’m out of student loan debt and will definitely avoid any credit card debt.

  10. Charlie says:

    I can completely understand. Moving is difficult, even if you are moving away from a place you don’t like so much – you will suddently start to miss all the connections and memories here. But think of it this way, when you first moved to Portland, even though you didn’t quite want to at that time, now you are getting emotional about this place after a few years. And just think about moving to a place like LA which you like more than Portland in the first place, how many more valuable momories will you make in LA? Probably more than Portland! Good luck on the move.
    Charlie recently posted…My Recent Reads in Personal Finance BlogosphereMy Profile

  11. I’ve only recently discovered your blog through a friend, but I felt moved to comment after this post and how real life sometimes gets in the way of our financial goals. I got out of CC last year about this time and started working hard towards saving for an upcoming trip (to prevent future CC debt) without any immediate plans towards paying off my student loan.

    As “luck” and life would have it, my roommate decided to bail with little notice shortly after and I ended up moving (with all those expenses you mentioned), plus paying 2.5x the rent since I was now solo. That savings helped, but the move and the trip and higher living costs took a major toll and I was back in serious CC debt within a few short months.

    I got serious about paying it back down late last summer and paid off one credit card in December and plan to have the other paid off by August. I know life and trips always have a way of popping up and I constantly battle between save more (just in case) or pay down my debt more (because interest), but if all goes well I’ll be totally debt free (student loan and all) within two years time.

    Anyway, thank you for the inspiration. I look forward to following along and wish you well on your upcoming move and travels!
    Breanne Leach recently posted…That Princess Bling Tho…My Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Thanks so much for your comment! Life does indeed get in the way a lot. Which is why I want to face these hurdles and save more as you said. I am vehement about not getting into debt again!

  12. Best of luck with the move!
    Elle @ New Graduate Finance recently posted…The Satisfaction of Achieving Goals Early & Work MusingsMy Profile

  13. Congratulations!!! This is so exciting for you. Can’t wait to hear more details after the move. Good luck!
    Natalie @ Financegirl recently posted…5 Unexpected Ways You Need to Prepare for a BabyMy Profile

  14. I absolutely hate owing money on taxes – ugh! So sorry for that! I’m sure you will figure the rest out. It’s awesome that you’re already debt-free so you can navigate these expensive months without debts hanging over your head!
    Holly Johnson recently posted…The Ultimate Guide to Chase Ultimate RewardsMy Profile

  15. Sarah Chang says:

    Good luck! I love your perspective. It’s great that you can look back on your time in Portland and see that it gave you so much…here’s to new adventures! (Sarah From GGF)

  16. I have not lived in either place, but just based on what I hear my mental image of Portland is that it is some great place. I am sure you’re making the right decision for the both of you by going back to LA if Portland just isn’t your cup of tea.

    Looking forward to reading about more LA fun and adventure once you get settled in :-).
    Derek @ MoneyAhoy recently posted…Is Renting a Luxury Apartment Worth the Extra Cost?My Profile

  17. I’m so excited for you and all of the adventures you have coming up. Although money feels a bit tight when things like this are happening, at least you know you don’t have to send money to your creditors each month.
    Catherine Alford recently posted…This Is What Happened When I Spent $1,500 on FoodMy Profile

  18. Michelle says:

    Melanie the part of this post that really, really resonated with me is this part “everything has its season.” I think that people feel like everything lasts forever. Some seasons SEEM to last forever until one day it’s over and you look back and think wow! I did that! I am so excited for you and as you know support you in all that you do. Thanks for sharing your journey with us.
    Michelle recently posted…Rediscovering PassionMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Thanks, Michelle! Your support is so wonderful. You’re so right, my miserable time here really FELT like forever, but really it wasn’t. Now I’m leaving with a whole new perspective and know that I got through it.

  19. Good luck with the move to LA and also congratulations on being debt free! It’s one of the best feelings everrr! 🙂
    Eva @ Girl Counting Pennies recently posted…It’s a Boy!My Profile

  20. Kara says:

    I really relate to this post. Becoming debt free was amazing, and I’m so so glad to be here. But just because I don’t have debt doesn’t mean I have money. I’m still not at the point where I have enough for everything- travel, fully funded emergency fund, moderate lifestyle. It’s a bit of a downer.

    I also relate the to knowing you want to move. I love Austin, but it’s not my place. I’ve been thinking of a move for awhile, but I’m here for at least one more year. Again, finances. Oh, life! You’re full of twists and turns, and we’re just trying to figure you out.
    Kara recently posted…Showing Off Your Hometown on a BudgetMy Profile

  21. Congrats on planning to move back home. It’s awesome that you’ve found contentment and gratitude for your time in Portland. Even though moving is expensive, you have so much more flexibility financially now that you’re out of debt. So I agree you shouldn’t regret it, even if things are a bit tight for a couple months.
    Kalie @ Pretend to Be Poor recently posted…Hustle Away Debt ReviewMy Profile

  22. Kristin says:

    Ok, so I am totally commenting in reverse from newest to oldest post 🙂

    I am SO excited that you are moving. I am pretty sure we are sun sisters, except you are a West Coast Cali girl and I’m a FL girl.

    Living in the PNW was amazing and I’m glad I got to venture to Portland once during a mini-vaca.

    It’s not easy moving – or going back home – so props to you. Can’t wait to hear about everything!!
    Kristin recently posted…7 Dumb Ways to Ruin Your CreditMy Profile

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