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One woman worked multiple jobs and downsized her lifestyle to live out her biggest dream.

You've seen stories about people taking off and traveling the world. Here's how one woman saved up and did it.

One woman worked multiple jobs and downsized her lifestyle to live out her biggest dream.
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In high school, Brooke Schoenman took a trip to Italy with her Latin class. She returned home determined to see more of the world.

“I remember being fascinated with how people like me were living in other parts of the world, speaking different languages,” she wrote in an email.

And that fascination would stay with her, leading her to take the biggest adventure of her life.


At 23, while working full-time as a help desk agent, Brooke made up her mind — she would give herself two years to save enough money to travel the world.

She wasn’t just working toward saving for a vacation or two. No, she wanted to spend a minimum of one full year living abroad, fully immersed in other cultures.

Image via iStock.

So she made a plan: She would cut down on unnecessary expenses. She’d sign up for overtime at work. She’d go out less. She’d take part-time jobs. She’d downsize her lifestyle in every way possible — all with the goal of saving up $30,000 in two years to fund her adventure.

It wouldn’t be easy saving that much money, but Brooke was determined. And she was fortunate enough to be able to devote as much of her time, money, and energy as she could muster to her ambitious plan.

"There was a time that I would work at my day job from 7:30 am to 4 pm," she wrote on Making Sense of Cents, "and then head off to do some evening waitressing ... from 5 to 10 pm."

It's the kind of schedule many people who need to bring in extra cash to cover their financial goals and needs are familiar with.  

Image via iStock.

And it was worth it for her.

“I think having a bigger-than-life goal in mind helped,” Brooke explains. “I was saving for a life-changing experience — something so far from what was normal to me and anyone I knew at the time. It was exciting!”

Along the way, she celebrated even the smallest victories.

“If I took a change jar to the bank and it was twice as much as I thought it would be, I would make a point to celebrate," Brooke writes, "and sometimes I would allow a little splurge.”

The occasional treat was just as important as celebrating the small wins.

Image via iStock.

"I tried to cut out everything in the beginning, but soon learned that the mental toll of less fun and less freedom to eat out or go to the movies was too much,” Brooke writes. “You have to budget in some fun money, even when you're going for a big huge goal.”

By doing this, she didn’t get overwhelmed by the magnitude of her goal. She remained motivated. (Knowing that you're not starving yourself of all life's pleasures is important for any savings goal. It means you can actually stick to your plan instead of burning out too early.)

A year and a half in, Brooke had saved $23,000. She decided that was enough.

Brooke describes herself as “someone who hates to wait." So, she explains, “When I started to get close to my fall-back goal of $25,000 (about $23,000 after plane tickets and gear), I decided that starting my life of travel half a year earlier was an acceptable option."

Image via iStock.

So, she bought her plane tickets and set off to travel the world.

Traveling was more fulfilling than Brooke could have imagined.

From archeological digs in Menorca, Spain, to watching the jungle wake up at sunrise in Tikal, Guatemala, she pushed herself far beyond her comfort zone and experienced things that many only dream of. She even decided to make Sydney, Australia, her new home.

She's continued to lean on the tips and tricks she learned during that year and a half to fund other (shorter) adventures, like a three-and-a-half-month trip to Turkey, China, Mongolia, Russia, and Kyrgyzstan.

Image via iStock.

Today, Brooke's budgeting isn't nearly as extreme as it was for her initial goal, but she remains money conscious.  

And she's helping others save too by sharing advice and travel stories on her website: HerPackingList.com. Though her site's geared toward travelers, her tips are relevant for anyone saving toward a goal. (This calculator is also a big help in figuring out how to reach your savings goals.)

Brooke truly believes that saving up for a big goal is achievable. Though, she adds, saving doesn't come in a one-size-fits-all package.

“Everyone will have different circumstances surrounding their saving process. Maybe the cost of living where they are is higher or maybe they can't forego hanging with friends at bars and restaurants,” Brooke writes. “Once you can pinpoint the real reason the saving isn't working, you can test out alternative strategies and budgets until one works.”

Image via iStock.

Saving is hard. There's no doubt about it.

And $23,000 is a lot of money. For someone doing their best to just get by, such a large amount in such a short time frame may not always be possible.

But Brooke made the sacrifices she needed to save for the future she envisioned. And her experience shows that with perseverance, goals that seem like dreams can be attainable — it just takes patience, planning, and time.

So while your savings goal may not be a trip around the world, securing your financial future is just as exciting. Because while we never know what the future holds, preparing financially helps open some doors. Help make your dreams a reality by setting your financial goals today.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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via The BC Cancer Foundation

Testicular cancer typically affects men between the ages of 16 and 44 and is the most common solid tumor to occur in men of this age group. These tumors grow rapidly and can double in size in just 10 to 30 days.

The disease is potentially fatal if not discovered early and accounts for about 11%-13% of all cancer deaths of men between the ages of 15-35. An estimated 9,60 people were diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2020, resulting in around 440 deaths.

So it's incredibly important for people with testicles to check themselves regularly.

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2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.