Facing forward

I have realized recently that I am thinking backwards. I tend to dwell on retrospect. What happened. Or what could of have happened. Or more judgmentally, what should have happened. This is and always has been my natural state of being.

Makes for some pretty unhealthy thoughts and feelings. Which can, at times, lead to some pretty unhealthy actions (I’m looking at you ice sandwich binge of ’09).

So, in the interest of living a fuller and healthier tomorrow, I’ve been working on myself alot. And one of the things I’m trying to do is take all those thoughts of the past and regrets and judgements and swing them into something positive for the future.

So far, this process has been good. I’m getting out of debt. I’m saving for retirement. I’m saving for life’s unplanned moments (like this week’s $500 medical bill!). I’ve paused on drinking. I’m working on healthier relationships with food. I’m walking at least once a week with a friend. I’m trying to get myself back into a yoga practice (on temporary pause until the hives dissipate). I’m getting organized at work. I’ve made good progress in these areas, and I’m working for better.

Well, there’s a new step forward in town: dating. That’s right, I’m dating again. Have I gone on a date? Nope. Will I this week  or next? Doubtful. But I’m putting it out there. And I’m trying to find ways to put myself in situations to meet new people. I’m moving forward instead of dwelling in past relationships that are over. Time to pick up and move on.

So, I hope you’re ready of a large number of hilariously bad date stories. As I’m confident there will be a good chunk on the horizon.

Wish me well!

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LearnVest Does it Again!

I have a very strong attachment to LearnVest’s Psychology of Money Blog. It gets me. It really gets me.

This week they ran a piece called “7 Ways to Deal with Money Envy“. And it was glorious.

How did they know that I’ve been struggling with this lately??? Can they read my mind??? ARE THEY WATCHING ME???

Lately, my friends are hitting career strides. They are getting fancy big kid jobs and buying houses and investing money and essentially kicking financial ass and taking names. And I am so proud of each of them. But I am also jealous (or envious….I never understand the specific difference). This article took that jealousy/envy and kicked it upside the face!

If you need motivation and good kick in the jealousy/envy pants, then this article is for you. Read it and tell me what you think!

Accountability Confessions

This weekend was bad for my budget. And since this blog is intended to keep me honest about my debt repayment, it’s time to confess my sins.

  1. I invited a co-worker out on Saturday. We went to a restaurant. I did both of those things knowing I had NO CASH to spend on such activities. $15 out the door
  2. My friend and I took our annual trip to the Outlet Mall and got Shamrock Shakes from McDonald’s. We also got lunch at Sonic (because we were desperate and at the Outlet Mall). I spent $90 on two dress, $4 at Sonic, and $2.50 at McDonald’s. None of these things were in my budget. They all went on my credit card. I sent the payment in the moment I got home. But that money is coming from savings, not allocated funds.

I’m trying to think deep and hard about why I did these things. Part of it has to do with a need to fell social. I haven’t been doing much since I decided to hunker down on my debt repayment. The other part has to do with the fact that I am a sucker for Outlet Malls. And I really wanted new dresses to wear to work. And now I have them. So I can wear them, and hopefully, feel more put together rather than slob like.

REALITY CHECK: Thank the gods for emergency funds

So remember that happy dance I was doing yesterday when I had confirmation that I had paid off my big credit card? Yea. That’s over.

Not 2 hours after posting, I checked my mail. I had a bill from my local hospital. I was expecting it because I had a TON of blood work and testing done recently. I thought it would look like the last bill they send. Under $20 and easy to squeeze into the budget. And then I opened it…..

$215…..$215 that I don’t have budgeted this month…..$215 that is due before my next paycheck…..

Last year, this would have sent me whirling. I’d be canceling acupuncture sessions and eating rice and beans for the rest of the month. And likely still borrowing $100 or so from my savings account.

BUT THIS YEAR, my bananas are in a row, so to speak. I have an emergency fund. Sure, it’s not fully funded. But it’s got $215 in it. So that is what is paying this bill. Now some of you might be thinking this is not an emergency. I haven’t lost my job. And I’m able to work. This is just an unexpected expense that you should have been saving for. And you’re totally right, guys. I agree with you. But I haven’t been saving for unexpected medical bills. Because I have been budgeting (and using) over $200 every month for medical expenses. So I know I need to go back and rearrange things. But for the time being, my emergency fund was there to absorb the blow. I can buy fresh produce (on sale of course) for the rest of the month with out panicking.

WILLKNITFORBOOKS LIFE LESSON #1: Maintain an emergency fund. Always. You’ll thank me. 

February Recap

Ok, Februrary. You’re done. You were short. You were sweet. You were oddly expensive. And I’m a little bit glad you’re over. Here’s how you went:

Credit Cards (-$2306.47)

This month was SUPER CRUCIAL. To paying down my credit cards. Using my tax return and all my christmas money, I managed to make a SERIOUS dent. I should have one card paid off by summer. The other is slated for December 2014. My eye is on the prize, y’all!

Savings (+$230)

Nothing major happening here. I stocked away some cash for the irregular expenses that will be coming due in the summer. And I threw about $60 towards my long term savings. At least I saved.

Utilities (Budgeted: $400; Actual Cost: $501.61)

Ok, this one seems ridiculous, I know. But it’s totally not! My gas bill has been coming off the next month’s budget for a few months now because the bill comes at the very end of the month. So this month, I decided to use the slack in my budget to shift that expense back into the appropriate month. So yes, I paid two gas bills this month. But now I’m caught up and back on point.

Groceries (Budgeted: $110; Actual Cost: $227.50)

I am slowly learning that I am terrible at actually budgeting for my grocery bill….This month’s goal of writing down everything should help clarify exactly where I’m slipping. Though, I can tell you my guess has something to do with a lil’ guy whose name begins with W- and ends with -INE. Since I’m off alcohol until my hives resolve, this should at least help, right?

Restaurants (Budgeted: $40; Actual Cost: $130.53)

Ok. This was my bad. A friend came to visit, and I completely forgot to budget fun money. I assume responsibility for crashing and burning on this one.

Entertainment (Budgeted: $20; Actual Cost: $82.79)

See above re: Friend Visiting.

Gifts (Budgeted: $0; Actual Cost: $44.63)

How the heck did I forget that I buy my best friend valentine’s flowers every year?? I’ve been doing it for TEN YEARS! I added this to my irregular expenses so that next year when this comes up, I’ll have $50 on hand.

Gas/Parking (Budgeted: $60; Actual Cost: $77.90)

No idea. Gas is expensive? Did I really drive that much? I mean, I guess I did….

Health (Budgeted: $295; Actual Cost: $218.62)

I argued my way out of paying $75 on a bill. I didn’t owe it. It was clerical error. Only took me 6 hours on the phone over 4 days to get actual resolution! (Health Insurance–Oy!)

Personal (Budgeted: $25; Actual Cost: $33.17)

I am truly shocked that this wasn’t higher. So I’ll take being $8 over.

Home (Budgeted: $10; Actual Cost: $194.41)

This is what happens when I clean. I freak out; go to Target; buy all these cleaning supplies; order stuff online; and then regret it at the end of the month when I’ve blown my budget. So maybe I need to start a cleaning budget?? I don’t know how to approach this one, so advice is SUPER welcome!

Glasses (Budgeted: $120; Actual Cost: $125)

My own mistake. I miscalculated how much Warby Parker would charge.

So there you have it. I was over budget just about everywhere. But, I made KILLER progress on my debt reduction plan. So all in all, I ain’t made at February!

 

 

 

 

 

Do Gift Cards Count?

Next month, I will start a habit of writing down every expense going in and coming out of my bank account. Every penny dropped in the gutter, every automatic payment, every movement of cash will be documented. Additionally, I will break down the expenses to the line item, so that every tub of yogurt or sweater on-sale at Target will be documented. This is one of the initial steps recommended in Your Money or Your Life. I dabbled with this in January. It was really successful as it required me to be extremely mindful with my purchases. Even though my spending was wonkadoodle that month, I felt more in control of my finances. February…less so….

But one of the things I will not be tracking are gift card purchases. Why? They were gifts. The money isn’t mine. It was never mind. The card is fundamentally a placeholder for the “gifts” that the cards procure me. I feel like the YMoYL-ers would disagree with this philosophy. But I feel that keeping the gift cards separate is going to help with my general mundane feeling that life on a budget sucks.

What do y’all think? Gift card spending: actually an expense? Or just a fun treat?