My Sense of Adventure

Paradise Valley

Paradise Valley

Paradise Valley

Paradise Valley

Paradise Valley

Paradise Valley

My restless feet are bound for adventure, so I’m hitting the ground running.

The adventure I seek isn’t grand. It needs only to evoke a sense of place. For me to experience it, to see it, to breathe it, to smell it, to feel it beneath my feet. To serve as a reminder of the weight of the world.

I aim to discover more of my own surroundings. There is so much of Montana I have yet to explore.

The beauty of this landscape is ceaselessly inspirational and empowering. It’s pushing me hard, and calling my name, and all I can do is run with it.

Photography: by Christopher Cauble

Wearing: Sweater by Billabong via The Root | Jeans by Joe’s Jeans | Hat by Asos

Our Anniversary

Sarah Cauble

Sarah Cauble

Sarah Cauble

Sarah Cauble

Sarah Cauble

One Year Anniversary

One year ago, on June 22, 2013, I married the one person that managed to captivate me, inspire me, influence me, and dare me to dream in a way that no one ever has. I’ve fallen in love with him again and again, countless times, without reservation.

I’m so happy to call Christopher my husband and my partner in this crazy thing called life.

We spent our one-year anniversary on a hill near a butte in the middle of our great state of Montana. It was a simple evening with a bottle of wine and a cozy wool blanket. But the weather and the skies and Christopher managed to make it a night to remember.

Photography: by Christopher Cauble

Wearing: Dress by Free People | Boots by Indigo by Clarks

El Mar Caribe

Caribbean Sea

Caribbean Sea

Caribbean Sea

Caribbean Sea

Caribbean Sea

Caribbean Sea

Caribbean Sea

Oh the Caribbean Sea, there really is nothing like it. The turquoise water and white sand beaches look just like the pictures you’ve seen before and the photos you see here now. It’s undeniably breathtaking.

Last month we got to spend a week swimming in this salty sea and walking around with sand between our toes. For our honeymoon, my generous aunt gifted us a stay at the Westin Laguna Mar in Cancún, Quintana Roo. And what a sweet gift it was. The hotel was absolutely beautiful and luxurious, and the staff the very friendliest. I’d highly recommend it to anyone planning a trip there. And did I mention the picturesque beaches?

We wanted a honeymoon with little on the agenda; a time for relaxation and a time for us to cherish being newlyweds. We managed to do just that, as our time was spent well sleeping in, sunbathing on the beach, enjoying each other’s company, and eating and drinking all that Cancun had to offer. (Can you say, Tequila!?)

With only two small excursions to downtown Cancun and Isla Mujeres, our honeymoon was all that we hoped it would be (—minus a couple rainy days, but hey! that just allowed for more sleeping and snuggle time).

I also enjoy every chance I get to use my (semi-functional nowhere-near-fluent) Spanish. I visited México for the first time in 8th grade, and have since traveled south of the border several other times. My grandfather took me on that first trip to México City, instilling in me a special love for the country of México, its people and its language. So speaking Spanish to get us around and small chats with the locals and staff was a wonderful refresher.

Although Cancún is a bit “resort-y” and “spring break-ish” for our taste, it really was just what we needed in a honeymoon. Because it’s also known for having the most beautiful beaches in the world, and that’s something to write home about.

Wearing: L*Space

Grand Tetons Wedding

A Grand Teton Wedding

A Grand Teton Wedding

A Grand Teton Wedding

A Grand Teton Wedding

A Grand Teton Wedding

A Grand Teton Wedding

A Grand Teton Wedding

A Grand Teton Wedding

A Grand Teton Wedding

A Grand Teton Wedding

A Grand Teton Wedding

A Grand Teton Wedding

A Grand Teton Wedding

A Grand Teton Wedding

A Grand Teton Wedding

A Grand Teton Wedding

Christopher and I shot the beautiful wedding of Andrea and Derek in the Grand Tetons near Jackson, Wyoming. It was my first time visiting the Tetons and I was blown away by the sheer beauty of those mountains.

The photos above are just a few of my favorite photographs from their wedding. They were a joy to work with.

On Top of the World

Beartooth Pass

Christopher and I recently hit the All American Road for a little weekend getaway through the mountains. We traveled the Beartooth Highway leading to the scenic northeastern entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Atop the Beartooth Pass, we took in the expansive views as the cool windy air gave us a slight chill at nearly 11,000 feet above sea level.

We camped off the well-traveled road at Lily Lake in a private, wooded area. We spent the evening near the campfire warding off mosquitos, cooking up pie iron quesadillas and roasting marshmallows. Marshmallows that were—surprisingly—a hot commodity. On our way, we searched for a bag of marshmallows at a number of grocery stores and gas stations with no luck. It wasn’t until we reached the Top of the World general store that we finally found a bag. (At 9,400 feet, might I add).

We ended our trip with a couple of light hikes in Yellowstone, followed by lunch overlooking the Yellowstone River in Gardiner, Montana.

Weekend getaways are so rejuvenating—there’s something about being on the road that clears my mind and allows the chance for me to to enjoy life’s simple pleasures.

Starlight at Night

It’s been a year since my grandpa died.

The image above is a poem he scanned at one point with some instructions for his funeral, “You can read this or put it in my ‘program.'” He was so cute that way.

I’m drawn to the composition of this simple sheet of paper with a poem and his handwriting; his handwriting is forever stamped in my mind.

It’s funny though, not funny ha-ha, funny-ironic, because that time in my life is such a blur. I can’t remember if this poem ever did make in the program or whether or not someone read it. Or perhaps, I may have read it. I don’t remember.

I will, however, forever remember and cherish every moment spent with him.

I never knew a grandfather or a man like him; he sang along to “Barbie Girl” with us and played the role of Ken, he called on the phone just to say hello.

He made sure we were always taken care of, he talked with his mouth full just to irritate Grandma and induce giggles from us.

He knew how to do the Elvis lip thing, he almost went to work every day (or so we thought) in his underwear with a briefcase (is this TMI? ;)

He made the best walking sticks you ever saw, he sent roses to all of us girls every Valentine’s day, he videotaped evvverrrrything (including the floor).

And he always reminded us how much he loved us.

My grandpa truly made the world a better place as a hard working judge, loving husband, father and grandfather.

He will be missed every day of the rest of our lives.

Te amo para siempe. Con cariño, Noni

Being 24

Sometimes you stumble upon something written that truly conveys how you’re feeling at that very moment in your life. The words of Bohemia and Bull inspired me to create the image above; something I fear, something upsetting, something I can’t quite wrap my head around as a girl woman of 24 years.

The excerpt below is what really struck a chord with me:

I’m not really sure what came over me, just a good old fashioned dose of unadulterated fear. The kind of fear where you think about life and you think about death. You think of all the times you haven’t called home, all the phone calls you forgot to return, all the friendships that accidentally faded away when you weren’t looking, and all the times you’ll never get back, all the “i love you’s” that you thought were forever, like forever, forever. How your parents are starting to look older, and your brothers date girls that look the same age as you, and you don’t know all your sisters secrets anymore, and how you live so far away from home. The damn passing of time, the universal battle to try and maintain balance somewhere between the death of youth and the expectation of maturity.

Sometimes I feel alone in this in-between stage of a twenty-something. It’s nice to be reminded that I’m not the only fearful one.

 

A Montana Journal

Today, I’m sharing with you a very special project.

I was very fortunate to get to work with my fiancé on a new book called, A Montana Journal, which features Christopher’s photography. I worked with him to design the interior and the cover; there’s just something about collaborating with your favorite person that’s fun and exciting and inspiring—while at times, also stressful and hectic and crazy. But in the end, working with the one you love creates a partnership on another level.

This is Christopher’s first published book, and for that I’m one proud girl.

A Montana Journal was published by Riverbend Publishing.

My Journey to Debt Freedom

The Book That Changed My Life

My journey to debt freedom began when I received the book My Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey as a college graduation present from my aunt in May of 2010. I read the book within a number of days and with each sentence I read, everything I thought I ever knew about debt and money was proven wrong. Credit cards, car payments, student loans and the like are not a way of life; both myself and the majority of our society seemed to have been convinced at some point that this is the way we should live. 90% of people in our culture buy things they can’t afford. 90%! This number should be shocking, it was to me, along with everything else in the Total Money Makeover. Dave’s “financial fitness plan” teaches you why this isn’t “the way to live” and more importantly, he teaches you how to pay off debt and how to never go into debt ever again. Sounds too good to be true? Here’s my little secretit’s not. I know from my own experience that it’s not too good to be true and that if you set your mind to it, you can literally change your life by following Dave’s plan.

Dave says that personal finance is 80% behavior and only 20% head knowledge. I’ve always considered myself to be “good” with money. I never thought I “deserved” large shopping sprees or to go out to eat all of the time or that I “needed” a vacation several times a year. I had a credit card throughout college but only used it to “build” my credit every once in a while and would pay it off immediately. I took out as few student loans as possible by earning scholarships and working part-time throughout high school and college, yet, I still managed to take out upwards of $20,000 in subsidized and unsubsidized loans throughout my 4 years. So, I guess I wasn’t that good with money. But after reading My Total Money Makeover, it wasn’t difficult for me to understand how to be good with money and how to get out of debt and stay out. Just like anything, losing weight for example, you know what to doeat right and exerciseyou just have to set your mind to it. I completely set my mind to eliminating my student loans in as little of time as possible. I was actually excited about it! Empowered! I couldn’t wait to kick those student loans out of my house for good. And I really couldn’t wait to look at my diploma knowing that it was completely paid forthat I would no longer have a monthly payment of $250 for the next ten or more years of my life. But I had to live like no one else in order to live like no one else later, that meant no iPhone, no big trips or vacations, no eating out a lot, and a whole lot of other no‘s.

Why I Started This Journey

If you read the Total Money Makeover, you’ll soon learn why you want to be debt free. For me, it was a combination of things. The first being it made sense. It almost seemed like it was common sense everyone forgot about. Why do do I need a car payment each month when I can just save up for a car in a few months? Why do I need a credit score aka debt score? Why should I take ten or more years to pay off my student loans? This book answered all of those questions for me and more. It even offers a large number of stories, like mine, of real people who got of debt and how it enabled them to build wealth, avoid money fights with their spouses, establish security, and more!

Something that really resonated with me, was Dave’s advice on car payments. He writes:

The Federal Reserve notes that the average car payment is $495 over sixty-four months. Most people get a car payment and keep it throughout their lives. As soon as a car is paid off, they get another payment because they “need” a new car. If you keep a $495 car payment throughout your life, which is “normal,” you miss the opportunity to save that money. If you invested $495 per month from age 25 to age 65, a normal working lifetime, in the average mutual fund averaging 12 percent (the eighty-year stock market average), you would have $5,881,799.14 at age sixty-five. Hope you like the car!

All I can say is read this book. It changed my life, and it just might change yours.

How I Became DEBT FREE in 17 Months

Since I read The Total Money Makeover as soon as I graduated from college, I still had that six month grace period that they give you before your loans go into repayment. That meant I had six months to save as much money as I could to throw at my student loans as soon as I got the first bill.

According to Dave’s financial fitness plan, the very first thing you must do every month is create a zero budget. That means you know where every single dollar is spent. For the first twelve months, I budgeted on my iMac’s sticky notes, typing every dollar out. But then I discovered mint.com and eagerly started budgeting using their free online tools that allow you to connect all of your accounts to their system, as well as manually enter data.

Dave has a seven Baby Step plan to get you out of debt and to build wealth. Here are Dave’s first three Baby Steps:

  1. $1,000 to start an emergency fund (credit cards are not for emergencies)
  2. Pay off your debt using the Debt Snow Ball
  3. Three to six months of expenses in savings (your fully-funded emergency fund)

I was quickly able to accomplish baby step 1 since I already had a decent amount of savings for a college grad (and since I had those six months to save even more).

So before each month started, I would budget all of my necessities (rent, groceries, gas, utilities, phone bill, internet, car insurance, toiletries and whatever else that month might throw at me (eg: a medical bill, oil change)) I would also budget in my measly $100 for fun money (shopping, restaurants, coffee etc). Since I was a recent college grad, I was used to living off hardly nothing and continued living off of very little.

So after I budgeted for the month, following the debt snowball, I then payed the minimum on each of my student loans, except for the smallest one, which at the beginning for me, was from Direct Loans. Each month until it was paid off, I put every extra dollar towards that loan.

I was actually able to pay off the Direct Loans in my very first month, December of 2010$3,889.70! I’ll admit, the first month was the hardest. Most of the money I had saved was for my dream trip to Europe. But I knew that that Europe trip would be a lot more enjoyable if it was cash-flowed, and if I didn’t have any student loans with my name on them back home. So I went for it and boy did it feel good. I also put $500 towards my Wells Fargo student loan that month. That means I paid off almost a quarter of my loans in the very first month they were in repayment!

Each month I continued budgeting, living frugally and putting every extra dollar towards the smallest loan until it was paid off. Some months I had $1,000 to put towards a loan, and some months I had nothing extra. I have an irregular income because I’m a self-employed graphic and web designer, (if you didn’t already know!) so any extra money I had varied.

Today, 17 months and $21,230.83 later (to be exact), I paid off my very last student loan and it’s one of the best feelings in the world. I truly feel free. I’m onto Baby Step number three and then I’m so excited to begin saving for that Europe trip again, as well as for a U.S. Road trip, my wedding next summer and a Honeymoon! I’m also going to begin building wealth by following baby steps 4-7!

FREEEEEEDOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!