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

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. And it’s an affordable hobby.  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.

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)

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]

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Erin Thompson

Erin Thompson spent years managing her own blog about budgeting and debt. Because of that, she has great insights not only about managing spending and borrowing but also about running websites profitably. When she's not writing articles for us, she's traveling and looking for new types of wines to try.
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