Hey everyone! Apologies for the radio silence. You think that the holidays would be the slow time for freelancers, but I’ve found it to be anything but. I got slammed before Thanksgiving, worked pretty much everyday except the actual holiday and have been catching up ever since.

If I haven’t been working, I’ve been trying to sleep or trying to keep my head on straight (and only succeeding very rarely).

So, what in the heck is new with me?

Well, I went home to LA for Thanksgiving and saw my amazing 93-year-old grandpa (check out this cutie on Instagram). He’s just as charming as I remember. He’s a WWII vet, cancer survivor, librarian and yoga teacher. In short, he’s a badass and I’m proud to call him family. It meant so much to see him after not seeing him for six long years. It was also the first time my partner met him.

My grandpa actually went in to hug Ryan and said he’s such a nice man (#tears). I also got a chance to boogie with him and share stories. Although I worked a lot in LA, seeing my family and friends felt so good.

The past couple months have been hard on me emotionally for a number of reasons and it’s been so nice just to decompress with people who get you.

It is so nice to catch up with friends that you haven’t seen in a while and just pick up where you left off, as if no time has passed at all.

Financial Update

On the debt front, I paid off another $3,000 last month and now have $11,000 in debt. I’m so close and am working on making some exciting moves forward!

Not only that, but I secured some raises for 2016. I did a lot of research about asking for raises in November, effective January 1, and I knew I wanted to make my mark. I didn’t want to leave any money on the table.

In one case, I secured a 25 percent raise. That would NEVER be possible in the nonprofit world β€” or probably any job. The best part was that my clients all agreed I deserved a raise and were happy to pay it. No fuss at all. Hot damn, it really does feel awesome to have great clients that appreciate you and respect what you do.

If you’re wondering how I did it, check out my workshop in January where I’ll spill the beans on charging what you’re worth and asking for more. I know it seems super scary, but this is your LIVELIHOOD at stake. You are the boss and no one will care more about your money than you do. Don’t wait for things to happen, you have to ask.


I can confidently say that 2015 has been the year I’ve traveled the most (about half for work as an event planner). In January I went to NYC, in March I went to Vegas with Tonya, April I went to Spain and Portugal, September I went to Charlotte, October I went to LA and November I went to Denver and LA. And it’s not over yet!

In a few short days, I’m headed to NYC again for a super rad #UnOfficeHoliday Party. If you’re in the city, I hope to see you there. I’m so excited as I’m still deeply in love with NYC and hope to move back some day.

The Year Ahead

This year is just whipping by, so naturally I’m scheming and planning for the year ahead. I have some big plans that have yet to see the light of day, but they’re there. They’re happening. I’m just toiling away, hoping to make progress on my goals. Hopefully I’ll be sharing some cool things soon, but aside from that I’m very excited for my workshop in January.

I LOVE teaching and enjoy chatting with others. I’m hoping that I can focus on doing more workshops and events in 2016 and less client work. Don’t get me wrong, I love writing, but at my current pace, it leaves me little time to write here or have any notion of creativity left, so I want some ‘free’ time for my brain to decompress.

In addition, I’ll be planning a blog tour about suicide prevention and debt. The searches about suicide and debt have surged and it breaks my heart. Some people have reached out to me and let me know my words have helped, which means the world to me. I cry like a little baby every time I read something like that (me? sensitive? NEVER!). I want to grow this blog into a platform for helping others β€” in whatever small way I can. Working in the nonprofit world I always felt like I was making a difference.

Sometimes it’s less clear with a blog and writing, so it’s nice to get that feedback. I don’t want to write just to write or have my name on some website. I want to inspire people to dump debt and realize they are worth so much more than their debt. And that your life can change at any time, even if it feels like it will never happen.

So, yeah. Feeling jazzed and overwhelmed about what’s ahead. What about you?



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 DearDebt.com.

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.

Latest posts by Melanie (see all)

30 responses to “Life & Debt Update: December 2015”

  1. Your grandpa is so cute! How awesome that you got to spend some quality time with him and he got to meet your partner.

    I can’t believe how many projects you are involved in! So inspiring. I’m hoping to start getting some side hustles and projects going in the near future — my dissertation defense is looming, but after I get that out of the way I should have some more time. (Finishing my dissertation also means I need to get an actual full-time job, apart from any potential side hustles, so that’s another upcoming goal.)

    Excited to hear more updates on all your projects! πŸ™‚
    Sarah Noelle @ The Yachtless recently posted…Widening the CircleMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Isn’t he?! He’s the cutest!!! You can totally do this. Even though the path seems like it’s not paved yet, you’ll start building it. Brick by brick. I had a rough start after graduating with my M.A. for a good two years, but it’s led to other things I wouldn’t have expected.

  2. Amanda says:

    Your debt progress is amazing. As is your ability to hustle. I’m always excited to see how your business is growing and what projects you’re taking on. The blog tour about suicide and debt sounds important, essential, and no less than amazing. It’s an underserved topic in the mainstream media, I think. I’d love to help. Can’t wait to see it.
    Amanda recently posted…My Plan to Finish StrongMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Thanks Amanda. It’s so crazy how much my biz has grown in the past year. I had no idea what I was doing when I quit my job, but it’s worked out for the best. I’m so excited to have you on board for the blog tour. We NEED to get this information out there. I’m looking to get more resources from suicide prevention orgs, so we can be as helpful as possible.

  3. Malady says:

    Hi Melanie,

    I just wanted to say thank you. I read all of your archives and was so inspired.

    I’ve been carrying debt for nearly 16 years, and two months ago I made a decision to end it (the debt).

    In two months I’ve paid off my previously maxed out $5K credit card and dropped the limit to the minimum. It now lives in my sock drawer – no more charging for me.

    My personal loan is my next target – $27K. In 18 months I will be debt free. I am so grateful for the inspiration that you’ve provided here – please keep writing, it makes a difference.



    • Melanie says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words! (sniff sniff). I know I’m not alone β€” and neither are you! We can and WILL conquer debt. You got this, friend.

  4. You don’t have to worry for we can feel your generosity while reading your blog. I think it’s great that you are helping others while doing what you love. I can’t wait to see where your journey takes you in 2016….just don’t forget to keep us posted.
    Petrish @ Debt Free Martini recently posted…Net Worth Has Finally Entered The RoomMy Profile

  5. So happy you asked for a raise and got it, and you’re getting so close to paying off your debt! So proud of you Melanie, and can’t wait to have you back in LA!
    Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted…Simple & Cheap Ways to Have a Healthy Holiday SeasonMy Profile

  6. Amazing! I can’t wait until you are debt free!! I am pretty excited about what 2016 will hold for me and my business. I think it’s going to be life-changing. We’ll also have a lot of changes as hubs will be starting his residency too. 2016 is going to be great!
    Cat@BudgetBlonde recently posted…The One Habit that Got Me to Finally Sit Down and Write My BookMy Profile

  7. Gina says:

    That’s awesome you were able to do so much traveling this year and still get so much debt paid off! I’m hoping to do more traveling in 2016 than I did this year, but still keep it cheap so I can make paying off my debt a priority!
    Gina recently posted…On Preparing to Grow Our FamilyMy Profile

  8. Melanie, congratulations on all your success paying off debt. I’m just getting started on $209,000 of student loan debt and reading about your success, your side hustles, and your growing confidence is truly inspiring.

    I also very much like the idea of your blog tour about debt and suicide prevention. This is an unfortunate, and important topic for a growing generation of 20-30 year olds who have been asked, unfairly, to fund all kinds of greed from a lot of sources. But I digress. If there’s anything I can do to help you with that goal, please let me know.

    For what it’s worth, I have a few tools on my (basically brand new) blog that help calculate when you’ll be debt free based on prioritizing loan payments. Nothing revolutionary, but for me I needed something to visualize the progress. That gave me a lot of relief from my stress. I also have one that helps you calculate how much your time is really worth, and to see areas where you might be able to cut to achieve greater earnings, either by taking a new job or modifying your lifestyle.

    Thanks again for another great post and good luck with everything.

  9. Oh, your grandpa is super duper cutie! Send my regards to him!
    Kate @ Money Propeller recently posted…The Benefits of Early Tax Planning For Montreal ResidentsMy Profile

  10. Great photo with you and grandpa! The homestretch of you debt repayment! Can’t wait for the debt free moment, your hard work is about to pay off!
    Brian @DebtDiscipline recently posted…Implement These 5 Tools to Cut Business CostsMy Profile

  11. Hannah says:

    I would be interested in the suicide prevention tour if you’re expanding the focus to financial areas beyond debt and suicide.

    And great job on dumping that debt. Amazing to think you’ve consistently dumped more debt than you earned 3-4 years ago.

  12. SO excited for your NY trip and our sleepover!!!! 2015 has been such a huge year for you and I am SO excited for what 2016 is going to bring for you!!

  13. Cassie says:

    This story is so inspiring! Thank you for sharing. it’s great to see people on their way to paying off their debt. My wife and i have paid off almost $10,000 in debt in just ten weeks, but we’re a long way from the end. Thanks for posting!

    Cassie recently posted…DIY Christmas Gift Guide for Friends and FamilyMy Profile

  14. Doria says:

    So very proud of you Melanie. You are such a hard worker and talented person. Your words inspire me!

  15. Oh my gosh, Melanie! This is all very exciting. It sounds like you have so many options, you’ll really have the power to carve the specific niches you’d like to fill in your freelance career. I didn’t know about the searches on suicide and debt. I can’t help but think you would be awesome at stepping into that vicious cycle with compassion and wisdom – and having the ability to step people out of it. All the best!
    Prudence Debtfree recently posted…Judgment In Personal Finance: It’s All WrongMy Profile

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