We are DEBT FREE!!

Dear Readers, I am delighted to tell you that after 3 years of hard work and sacrifice and budgeting my husband and I are very excited to share that we are completely and utterly out of debt! 11/16/2015 – DEBT FREE DAY!

We have both worked extra hours, second jobs and paid careful attention to how the dollars and cents were spent, but mostly, we were intentional with our money and the ways we directed it to work hard for us and moving towards this goal of being debt-free.​

Here it is by the numbers– 3 years, over 30K– 🙂

Started November 2012- Ended November 2015

0.00 REMAINS!!!!/ 36,945.91 PAID OFF


Why is this important? Well for one thing, when you are out of debt, you have the ability to take the money that was previously funneled to car payments, student loans and credit card payments you can save that money and possibly even invest it. This is not new advice, in fact its what your grandmother teaches you if you are lucky enough to have smart and savvy grandparents. It is nicely packaged in the program presented by the Ramsey Solutions Team in Nashville.

Five years ago, my good friend Keely Locke and I were brainstorming about how to plan my upcoming nuptials on a budget. My fiance and I were in debt in the single life but we did not want to go into further debt to get married. She gave me a book called “More than Enough” by Dave Ramsey and it seemed like a good idea but I didn’t really think we needed it since we weren’t super heavy in debt but I did think it was a good book and wanted to continue down the path we were on which was not adding debt to our respective totals. Later in the planning, I realized how expensive things were going to be and heard about a live event happening in San Antonio so went in the car and went to the event. Dave Ramsey is an excellent speaker, and whether you agree with his politics or not, what he says makes a lot of sense. I found myself wired and fired to GET OUT OF DEBT— after this event

If you are unfamiliar with him and his programs, take a look at this website for the Baby Steps-


This post is not about his program but hey if it interest you, you are welcome for the introduction, The main thing this post is about is the major hard work and dedication my husband and I have done to pay off 37,945.91 *to be precise* in 37 months.

We gave this speech at our Toastmasters club on 12/1/2015

It takes Communication, Organization and Dedication- Those principles can be applied to anything that takes hard work but in specific to this situation it looked like this.

Communication- We talked about what we wanted out of life and why we didn’t want to be in debt, we talked about how we would accomplish this goal and how long it would take. We discussed the sacrifices (time together while doing extra jobs and hours at work) and the steps it would take. I gave up buying movies and shoes (which was super hard because I LOVE SHOES!!!) I am planning to celebrate with a debt-free shoe shopping trip in January– (stay tuned for the blog post about that one)- Communication also comes into play when you have setbacks and trust me, we had plenty, Right there in the homestretch, we had several car repairs but because we had a plan and were patient, it wound up working out.

Organization – We had a budget, and truth be told, its a saving grace, because I really like to spend money, and having a plumb line to tell me “NO” was a good thing. We also had a rule that anything at the 50.00 or above mark MUST be discussed before a mutual agreement to purchase.  We also had our own spending money to be spent on whatever the other wanted, no questions asked (keeps you sane for sure).

Dedication- Unquestionably, that has been the hardest part, when we decided we were going to do this three years ago, I delivered pizzas part-time, was a hostess at a restaurant, and finally an office assistant. All in aid of putting a little more away to help fund the debt reduction plan. The most exciting thing that happened was I discovered and created my business Haston Helping Hands (my personal coaching business) and that hustle has really taken off, in fact one of the clients I had this past year really helped move the needle for us to get the finish line even faster.

As I sit here typing this, our new dog, Cachet is sitting on my lap and its a feeling of utter happiness to be out of debt and with a dog (we wanted a dog for five years, but knew that we needed to be financially responsible before getting one) on my lap. Delayed gratification at its finest.




Listen More, Talk less!

Dear Readers,

I love to talk, I mean really love it. I love the telephone, I love to speak and I love to talk to other people whether its work related or personal. I love it so much that sometimes I “wait for my turn to talk” rather than “really listen”. It is a habit i am working hard to break.

Think about this :

We have two ears and one mouth, I do not believe that is an accident.

I find that it behooves you in both places to listen more than you talk. People are 100% more interested in themselves than they will ever be in you, no matter how fascinating you are so bear that in mind in your next interaction.

Case in point, in my Toastmasters meeting today, I was on the PRO side of a debate and I chose to be first, if I had listened to the rules and details I would have known that the advantage was in going second because you can hear the argument being made so you can better play the game of point, counterpoint. Needless to say, I lost..

What’s the big deal you say? Well the Toastmasters debate got me to thinking about how often we “jump” to a conclusion or a reaction and “miss” that one thing that might make all the difference in building a relationship or solving a problem. I take my Toastmasters meeting seriously but I was not invested in whether I won or not.. for me today was about playing the game. I find that as a coach, the success of my client depends on me asking the right questions or more importantly, getting my client to ask themselves the right questions to arrive to the answer to a problem or approach the situation in a completely new way.

So the next time you pick up a phone, walk up to someone’s desk or sign in to that social media — Listen More, Talk Less…

Think About It….

4:30 a.m.- The hardest thing I did today was not hit the snooze button

So this morning, I woke up to my alarm at 4:30 so I could get up and jog/walk on my treadmill. This is not easy and it is not fun.

However, if I am going to continue to lose weight to get down to my goal weight, I have to keep it up.

I have grown to really love my ipod nano (my husband got it for me last year for Christmas) in aid of helping me work out. I used it sparingly and this morning I was really grateful for the fact that I had it to use while jogging 30 seconds, walking 30 seconds. Let me say that again, I ran 30 seconds and walked 30 seconds. I was very grateful that I have the soundtrack to “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” on my ipod to run/walk to… There is nothing like disco to get the heart pumping.

I did intervals, a new term I am learning thanks to my coach Cole Butler and the online program


I will say the intervals make it easier for the time to go by but its no less hard. However, I have to compare it to something Jon Acuff said.
When someone questions what you are doing or attempting to do: “Have you ever run a 5K, Jennifer?”

Answer with a smile and say something like this, “No, but I am about to.” Added silently. “Watch me!”

So while I am tired, I am far more alert than I would have been if I had not worked out today and am eager to start the day.

It helps that I lost 2 more pounds (13 to go!!!) but I would not be deterred if I had not, because this is not a diet, this is a lifestyle choice to be healthier. I have said that before but not really meant it. This time I do.

Do one thing that scares you.

Today, I want you to do something that scares you. Take a class. Talk to someone who intimidates you. Apply for a job you “think” you aren’t qualified for but really are.

Have a conversation you have been avoiding. Weigh yourself. Hug someone. Do something that you wouldn’t normally do.  The results will surprise you!

Think about it, but not too long. now, DO IT!

You are awesome. You don’t need to act like you are.

One of my favourite shows that is no longer on television (common when you watch Netflix) is called “The West Wing” and one of the reasons is that all of the characters are fully drawn and are chock-full of nuance and erudite dialogue but sometimes their best messages are the simplest ones.

As evidenced by the episode “Hartsfields Landing” and this dialogue as spoken by the Communications Director, Toby Ziegler to the President about how you are already awesome, you don’t need to act like it. Sorkin does dialogue better than I do right now, so here is the dialogue from that scene-

“You’re a good father, you don’t have to act like it. You’re the President,
you don’t have to act like it. You’re a good man, you don’t have to act like it. You’re
not just folks, you’re not plain-spoken… Do not do not do not act like it!”

Substitute the appropriate and specific qualities and then say it about yourself.

Because it bears repeating, you are awesome. Do not, do not, do not ACT like it!


What do you do when what you want doesn’t happen?

As many of you know, I was up for a part in a play I adore and was doing everything I could to get picked. I was not picked and while I am upset ( I am human after all! ) I am excited to see what is next on the agenda that I am meant to do because this did not pan out.

Key takeaways from the experience?

1. Be Prepared. I practiced and practiced and practiced and received coaching from people I respect ( you know who you are) and felt extremely prepared, more so than for any audition I have ever had before. Yep, after almost 15 years of acting I just wrote that. Staggering.

2. Think Positive. I used to say Prepare for the Worst, Expect the Best and Adapt to the Outcome but that is such a defeatist attitude.. From now on, let’s just prepare for the best and adapt to the outcome whether its what you want or not.

3. Working hard is important but its not everything. – Sometimes you can do everything right and work as hard as you can but someone else or other factors make the final decision so in that case are you going to gnash your teeth and wear your hair shirt? No. Just work as hard as you can. That way if it doesn’t work out the way you want it to, you can console yourself with the knowledge that you did all you could do to affect a positive outcome.

If nothing else, I had the chance to act and work with others for a night even if it wasn’t for a full run. I often have to remind myself as an actor it’s not my job to get the gig. It’s my job to audition, audition and then audition some more.

What are you working on? What is your dream? Tell me about it? I would love to encourage you on your journey!

One step in front of the other..

I hate going to the gym. Every time it comes to “gymming” its the same thing, I have to rev myself up to go, get the bag of stuff together, remember the water bottle and then get in the car and drive to the gym dreading it every second of the drive.  I have come to the conclusion that the paleo diet is not enough, I need to add regular exercise to start losing weight again. I had such high hopes for today, I was going to go to a 10:30 Zumba class and then go to the bank and go the grocery store and do some other errands I have been neglecting all week because I have been taking care of my husband who is recovering from hernia surgery. Thank goodness he is healing much faster than the doctor expected!

But back to me and my gym woes, so I slept in till 9:30 and while I could have made the class I decided to sleep in some more and then head to the gym a little later. So I finally got there at 2pm and realized I didn’t have my ipod, grumble. However I was bound and determined that I would go to the gym today and work out no matter what so in I went. I headed straight for the treadmill and the bargaining process started right away, I can do 10 minutes and that will be better than nothing, and as the led lights flashed 10 minutes, I thought I can do 15, and then 20 and then I saw that I had traveled 1 mile.. and then said okay, I will make it to 30 and then do a cool-down. I know there are likely many people who ran a 5K today, or ran for an hour at the gym or did things a lot more impressive but after tallying it up I feel pretty good about my progress. I am satisfied with what I did today and I will work out a little longer the next time I do.  

I convinced myself to keep going because how can I be in integrity to the people I coach , telling them to do “one more repetition” or “keep trying” if I am not willing to do it myself?

To give the final score: 165 calories burned, 2.8 miles per hour, 1.5 miles traveled. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself. My new goal is to go 45 minutes the next time I work out. How about you? What goals are you working on? What do you want to accomplish? Think about it!