The greatest day of the year is finally here! WOOOO! It’s my 24th birthday!

Lily gif

I love my birthday but I am not a big partier. I keep things very low key and relaxed. My bestest work buddy is treating me to lunch and then after work (yes, I still have to work — I’m a grown-up now), Steve and I are going to bd’s Mongolian Grill for my birthday dinner. Yum! If you are curious — I get noodles, shrimp, crab, and lots of ginger sauce [insert Ginger joke here] and then I mix it with rice. It’s the best. And I’m sure I’ll get a delicious frozen fruity drink. After that, we’ll probably grab a bottle of champagne and go home or hit up dollar beer night. Food and alcohol and Steve and June 5th — my four favorite things! I’m not super hard to please.

My 23rd year was a great one. My favorite thing about it was the fact that I actually did some traveling. After convincing myself that I couldn’t afford vacations in college (because I was spending all my money on stupid crap instead!), I started traveling again. Not major traveling, as I am in a buttload of debt, but traveling nonetheless.

– June: Road tripped up to NYC for a long weekend with Steve. We saw Wicked on Broadway (amazing) and watched the Brazil vs. Argentina soccer match in NJ. And we ate a lot. Such an amazing trip.

– December: Road tripped down to Charleston, SC with Steve and my family. Ate some amazing southern food (because food is my priority in life), visited some very cool places, and decided to never travel for 13 hours in an SUV with seven people ever again.

– January: Road tripped to D.C. with a friend to visit another friend. A weekend with the girls — what’s not to love?

Other things that happened in my 23rd year: purchased my last pack of cigarettes, started freelance writing, started Red Debted Stepchild, got my passport (but haven’t used it!), bought my first RELIABLE car, celebrated my third anniversary with Steve, and paid off one of my credit cards. Not too shabby.

Because I love lists and I love crossing things off lists, I have created a 25 Before 25 list. I have also created a tab with the list so you can track my progress, creepers. Without further ado, the list of things I want to do before I turn 25…

1. Pay off all credit card debt. Three cards – Chase, Discover, & Levin Furniture. Current balance of $7,659.52.

2. Go on an EPIC cross-country road trip. Currently planning. Details to come…dun dun dun!

3. Learn to make a kick-ass mojito. It’s my favorite drink, so this is a must!

4. Run a 5k. Seems like no big deal except for the fact that the furthest I have ever run is a mile and that was ONCE in fifth grade. Ten minutes, nine seconds. It was the worst day of my life – I am not a runner. I can’t even imagine running 3.1.

5. Read 25 books I’ve never read before (non-PF). I miss reading. Leave suggestions below. I am a fan of historical fiction, unpredictable romance, and satire – if you can recommend a book that combines all three we can be best friends forever. DISCLAIMER: I’m a selfish friend.

6. Read three finance books. At least one of these should be about investing. Leave suggestions below. I’ve read the Total Money Makeover and I Will Teach You to be Rich.

7. See (and take pictures of) five beautiful nature-y things. I’m not an outdoorsy person, but I can appreciate a good work of art.

Raven gif

8. Make $5,000 from writing. This seems way out of my league right now, but I’m going to give it a shot! On a totally unrelated note, do you need a writer for your blog/magazine/ransom note? Email me.

9. Use my passport. This will probably be in Canada. I’ll go watch hockey, drink maple syrup, and freeze my ass off – you know, Canadian stuff. Then I will be cultured.

10. Find a red wine I love. I’m a white wine drinker – Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Gewurztraminer – but I would like to find a good red that isn’t too dry.

11. Flip car right-side up. We owe more on our car than it’s worth due to a beefed up warranty that we were talked into. Not good.

12. Get a new job. I just want to find something that’s a better fit for me.

13. Try a new cuisine. I’m leaning towards Indian or Greek.

14. Try yoga. I want to be zen, dammit.

15. Have an amazing fourth anniversary with Steve. This is in November, so I’ve got some time to come up with something good.

16. Learn how to cook and/or bake 5 new things really, really well. Thus far, I have mastered chicken, rice/quinoa, and roasted cauliflower. I would like to be able to cook a killer steak, but I’m not sure about the other four. Give me awesome recipes?

17. Secure a non-PF writing gig. Know anyone hiring?

18. Do something totally terrifying. I’m a total scaredy-cat, so this should be interesting.

19. Make a new friend. Then probably lose said friend when I creepishly ask if I can make our friendship official on the Internet.

20. Pay off my smallest student loan. So paying off my credit card debt, flipping my car, and paying off my smallest loan. That would be a pretty baller year.

21. Go to an awesome festival/fair. Music, film, renaissance, whatever – just something awesomely fun.

22. Watch 10 movies that I should’ve seen by now. Examples: Anchorman, Groundhog Day, Scarface, Zoolander, Die Hard, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Ghostbusters, The Goonies, any of the National Lampoon movies (I’ve seen parts of Christmas Vacation), and The Godfather. I’ve been yelled at for not seeing these movies at one time or another. Has anyone unsubscribed out of disgust yet?

23. Spend an entire day doing my own thing. I want to rent a hotel room and spend the whole day and night just hanging out with myself. Drink coffee and read, go to a museum, take myself out to lunch, whatever. Just have a nice day alone. Bonus points if I call in sick that day and play hooky!

24. Buy myself something beautiful and unnecessary. Y’all know I don’t keep random stuff lying around. I mean something I’ll actually use but don’t need. Like an awesome piece of jewelry. We can’t be No-spend Nellys all the time!

25. Make a 5 year plan. My life has a lot of variables right now, but I should have a better idea of where things are headed towards the end of summer. They are happy and exciting variables, so I don’t mind too much.

Nice, huh? A good mix of finance, experience, and self-improvement if I do say so myself. And I do because it’s my blog and I can. I also made sure all these goals were “cross-off-able”. Stuff like “revamp my wardrobe” or “be nicer to others” aren’t easily measurable and putting a specific completed date on them generally isn’t possible. I like crossing things off. It brings me great joy.

When I was writing this list I looked at some other 25 before 25 lists to see what other people want to accomplish before they turn 25. And then my list loving self compiled ANOTHER list. 25 things I’ve already done that other people want to do before they turn 25. I’ve lived! Some of these were posted by individuals, some were articles of things you should do before your 25th. Behold…

1. Go to a diner at 5:30 AM with a bunch of strangers I just met. It was more like 3:00 AM, but it still counts. I ended up meeting the guy I would go on my first and only real date with. P.S. We didn’t dress on the same level of dressiness and he took half his food home while I ate all of mine. I gave up dating that day. (April 2009)

2. Work a service job. Worked at Domino’s Pizza, Marco’s Pizza, Applebee’s, Arby’s, a local smoothie shop, and a hibachi restaurant in my hometown. I’ve done my share of serving. (2005-2009)

3. Stop hating myself. Mission WAY accomplished ;). (2009)

4. Go white-water rafting. Senior year of high school with my Calculus class. (2007)

5. Ride a real roller coaster. I live an hour away from the greatest amusement park in the world. I even worked there. So yes, I’ve ridden a roller coaster or two. (All the years!)

6. Get a tattoo. 18th birthday. And yes, yes it is a Chinese character because I was “cool” like that. (June 2007)

7. Go to a movie by myself. Of course! I saw Open Season, 300, and Something Borrowed alone. I liked going to the movies alone (back when I was a movie-goer). You don’t have to share popcorn! (2006-2011)

8. Treat myself to a massage. I’ve only ever gotten one, but I have done this. (2012)

9. Go on a road trip. Three decent road trips in the past year, so yes. (2012-2013)

10. Get married. Married my bestest friend when I was a young lass of 20. (November 2009)

11. See a Broadway show. Saw Wicked in NYC and Sister Act when it came to Cleveland. (2012-2013)

12. Get a “real” job. Overrated. Next! (2012)

13. Get my nose pierced. Day AFTER my 18th birthday. It got infected, so I took it out a few days before moving to Cleveland. I had my nose pierced for a solid two and a half months. (June 2007)

14. Visit a foreign country. This shouldn’t even count, but I totally went to Canada when I was four. All I remember was going trick-or-treating and someone giving me a Diet Coke. General comment to Canada: four year olds don’t drink Diet Coke. Get your shit together, Carol Canada! (October 1993)

Carol gif

15. Go to a wine tasting. Yes. And they didn’t take my drink tickets. READ: I got my money’s worth. (June 2010)

16. Dye my hair. I’ve gone brunette and black. And let me tell you – once you go black, you CAN go back. But it’s going to cost you a lot of time and money. Ginger 4 Lyfe! (2007-2009)

17. Ride a horse. Went on a one hour ride. Found out five minutes into it that I am in fact allergic to horses. Benadryl to the rescue! And now I hate horses. (2006 or 2007)

18. Get a passport. Yes! But I haven’t used it yet. (2012)

19. Attend a large sporting event. Soccer match in New Jersey – Brazil vs. Argentina. Argentina won — boo. (June 2012)

20. Ride a mechanical bull. This was during my “wear guy’s basketball shorts 24/7” phase. Note: Do not try to wear slippery shorts when riding a bull. (2007)

21. Vote. I have voted in two presidential elections. (2008 & 2012)

22. Go to a gay/lesbian club or bar. I’ve been to one gay bar, several times. The first time I went, I had the best jello shots I’ve ever had for $1 each and I got hit on by an elderly woman in a pirate costume. Win. (2011)

23. Save for retirement. I opened a 401(k) when I was 22. (April 2012)

24. Make peace with my parents. I’ve always had peace with my parents. (1989-present)

25. Learn to be alone. Um, that’s pretty much my favorite thing ever. Check! (Also 1989-present)

YAY BIRTHDAYS! So what do you like to do for your birthday? Do you make annual “bucket” lists? And wish me a happy birthday. It would kinda be a dick move if you didn’t.

[Images from tumblr, BuzzFeed, & BuzzFeed]


  1. Happy Birthday!

    #10 is easy. There are plenty of non-dry red wines out there. Heck some of them can even be sweeter than white wines (if that is your thing). Reggae Red is an example (if’s from a local winery here, but I’m pretty sure they ship it to Ohio), it is not my cup of tea, but they sell the crap out of it, so I guess a lot of people like it.

    #22 saddends me… You haven’t seen Ghostbusters? I’m not sure we can be friends anymore…. JK! Fun fact: Ghostbusters is the only movie I have ever walked out on in the theatre! In my defense I was 3 at the time and the skeleton guy in the cab near the end is pretty scare to 3 year old Brian. So I guess it was more “run out of the theatre screaming” and I did it twice! So I guess I like the rest of the movie and now it is one on my favorites of all time… right behind the greatest movie ever… Bedknobs and Broomsticks (Magic+Animated Animals Playing Soccer+Nazis getting slaughtered my Medieval Suits of Armor = Happy Boy)!

    For my birthday we usually just go to Benihana since you get a free meal (up to $30) so I get filet and lobster tail for like $10 which is pretty great and at Benihana dinner is the show.

    • Thanks!

      I LOVE REGGAE RED! I wasn’t sure if I could actually count that as a red though. I want to find something that I can order in a restaurant. It’s so good, I can’t believe you don’t like it!

      Aw, poor 3 year old Brian! I sadly have not seen Bedknobs and Broomsticks either, which is a real shame as I am a huge Disney fan.

      Bad news on Benihana, it is no longer free without a catch. It’s BOGO now. Which is fine assuming you usually bring someone to dinner with you anyways. Still up to $30, we are going later this month to cash in on my free meal. Filet and lobster tail is amazing — surf and turf is a definite favorite :).

  2. TaraCorinne says

    For your wine question: Malbec, Syrah, and Pinot Noir are the answer to all your questions. I used to be in the white wine boat until I had my first Malbec. Now I rarely drink white wines and am much pickier about the ones I do drink. I can find $5 bottles of delicious red wine at the Union Square Trader Joe’s wine shop in Manhattan and don’t feel guilty for sharing an entire bottle on Friday night with my fiancee.

    • Oh, we get our wine from Trader’s as well since it’s so cheap. I’ll have to get one of the bottles you recommend! Thanks, Tara!

      • My recommendation is Malbec also … They have great bottles for around 10 dollars. My favorite is Malbec Roble (Malbec made in oak barrels…mhmmm… delicious).

  3. For wine – I *love* the Menage a Trois red ( and the fact that I can get it for less than $10 a bottle makes it that much better.
    For food – I suggest concentrating on side dishes, and seasonally appropriate if possible. The fact that you already have chicken in hand and want to concentrate on a good steak is great. After that, the secret to making each meal feel more unique is by switching up the sides. We love quinoa, potatoes, and Brussels sprouts (only fresh, never frozen). Enjoy!

    • Ooo, I’ll have to try that one! Saucy name, I love it!

      That’s a great idea. We love quinoa and I need to learn how to do some good potato sides. Not sure about Brussels sprouts though…the five year old in me says YUCK!

      Thanks, Tracy :).

  4. Happy birthday, Erin! Congrats on making such big moves so early on.

  5. First off: HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

    Second, I’m a new reader and I absolutely love your blog thus far (the name alone hooked me, hah).

    Third, for your wine adventure: I love, love, love the Crush by Dreaming Tree (it’s a mix red and how I got into reds). Its a winery by Dave Matthews and someone else and they have great wines and are usually under $15. Not sure if you can get it at restaurants but definitely can get them at stores or online 🙂

    Best of luck with your bucket list. I may start my 30 before 30 (gasp, I can’t believe I’m almost there, boo).

    • Thank you and thank you ! 🙂

      Haha, I love how everyone is chiming in about the wine! I’ve got some fellow oenophiles as readers. I will definitely check that one out!

      You should DEFINITELY do a 30 before 30 list. Don’t say boo — I’m sure you will be thirty & flirty & thriving!*

      *That sounds totally creepy unless you’ve seen 13 Going on 30. I was not hitting on you, I swear =P

  6. Love your list! I really need to make one of these as well.

    Happy birthday!

  7. Happy birthday! The years fly by, don’t they? Hope you have a fun day.

  8. Happy Happy Birthday! Great list of goals, especially the 5k one. If you need a program, a lot of my friends have had success with the Couch to 5k program on – best wishes in achieving your goals! 🙂

  9. Happy birthday, other June 5th birthday having blogger! I’m a little…er, a lot, older than you so I can safely say that you are doing a great job. I think your lists are a great way to track what you’ve done and stay motivated to keep doing more. Let me also add this–be patient. Even if some of those things (like the freelance income) don’t happen right away, they will.

    The list of movies you haven’t seen makes me a little sad because you are missing out on so. Much. Greatness. Watch them all this weekend. And that’s only sort of a joke.

    • Thanks, Jana!

      Haha, I know, I’m sorry! I have so many movies to watch. Maybe I’ll hit up the library this weekend and get started :).

  10. Happy birthday! 24 is such a fabulous age.
    I love lists.
    1. Please see Godfather ASAP. Awesome movie.
    2. Non-finance book that is awesome is “Gone Girl” and historical anything by Phillipa McGregor (sp?)
    3. Finance: I loved “The Wealthy Barber” and “The Richest Man in Babylon.”
    4. couchto5k is an awesome beginner’s running plan, they also have an app for your phone. No one likes running when they first start. First of all, slowly start, walk/run, you’ll be at 5k in 12 weeks if you follow the program. Well worth it. (I had success with it, ran my first half a year later and 3 years later I am training for a marathon,) Just stick with it and running becomes more fun, plus you’ll see results.
    5. Ah to young again. I am 30 now and you inspired me to make a 35 under 35 list, ha ha.
    6. Cooking. I suck at it. However I figured out how to roast things by asking friends. I take red potatoes, cut into quarters, toss in garlic and olive oil, add chopped up bacon, roast at 415 for 25 minutes. Toss some asparagus and chopped mushrooms and/or kale or spinach and add on top of potato/bacon mixture for another 9-12 minutes. Yum. Variations can be made based on veggies that you like. You can omit the bacon.
    Also pork chops. Take pork chop dredge in flour, then egg, then panko bread crumbs, then put in pan of hot oil and fry on each side 4 minutes. Amazing, quick. Goes well with above side of veg/potato.
    7. I so wish I could find a red wine I can order at a restaurant. Pinot noir and malbec are good starter options, but I usually stick to riesling and bubbly. One day.

    • Thanks, Alice!

      1. Will do. I can’t believe I haven’t seen it yet!
      2. Gone Girl is on my list :).
      3. Ooo, I’ll add those to my list.
      4. I am definitely going to have to look into the Couch to 5k program. A marathon? That’s awesome. Good luck!
      5. DO IT!
      6. The potatoes & bacon sound fabulous. YUM! Bacon should never be omitted. Ever.
      7. I’m trying to broaden my range. Red wine screams sophistication to me. And I am a sophisticated lady of 24 now ;).

  11. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!! Canada is great and, yeah, “real” jobs are SO overrated.

  12. What?!?! You’ve never seen groundhogs day? I love that movie, but I’m a big Bill Murray fan. Happy Birthday!

  13. Happy birthday!! The $5000 writing goal is bold but you’ve got the talent for it 😉

    Love the list of all your other goals too!

    • Thanks, Bridget :).

      Hopefully with some extra hustling and maybe monetizing this blog in the future, I can at least come close. Even if I totally fail, I’ll have still made some extra cash. Dream big, right?

  14. Happy birthday! So many great movies on that list of ones I can’t believe you’ve never seen!

  15. A HUGE Happy Birthday to you! I hope you had a kick [email protected]@ day. Love the lists, you’ve inspired me to create a list. Stay out of trouble, or have fun getting into it!

  16. I’m late, but Happy Birthday!

    Love your list. I have’t scene a lot of the same movies either, but I have a couple of those scratched off my list thanks to my hubby.

    I have a real job with fun flair….we have beer in the fridge where I work.

    Love the list.

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