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July Recap

July 29th, 2018 at 04:51 pm

I can't believe that the month is almost over. It never stops amazing me how fast the time flies.

I've been in my new position for two weeks now and it's been more than a little stressful - to the point where I managed to get myself sick. heh. Thankfully that has calmed down and I'm trying to cut some other things out of my life to give myself some breathing room.

Went to Nashville both this weekend and last for events and doing headshots - $750 in extra income for the month, so not bad. That being said, I'm looking forward to staying in town for the next few weeks. It was a lot of fun nonetheless. I judged a film competition this weekend, and got to see so many of my friends from my creative community. It definitely reaffirmed and reenergized my desire to move back in a year, so that's really nice. Need to stay focused and financially prepare.

Got home and took a look at my financial picture right now. I'm not looking too bad. Once a payment and a transfer clear, I'm going to pay off the student loan balance at one of the companies I have debts with - roughly $2,500. That'll eliminate another $100 minimum payment and begin the process of snowballing this debt away. All the debt I'll have after that are two other student loan balances. And the credit card, which I'll be paying off in full every month (I just like getting the Amazon points).

Canceled MoviePass today (I haven't been using it) and Simplisafe (now that I'm living in a less intimidating part of town, I don't feel the need for a security system). So that will be some money saved.

Tomorrow DXH and I will be back at the old place doing the final cleaning and purging. It'll be nice to have that chapter closed - and hopefully all of our security deposit coming back. We were in there on Thursday getting a jump on it, and there were a few issues starting with leaking and water damage. It seems like we're moving out at a really good time.

Given that July was a turbulent month for me, and I moved, it was definitely a spendy one - but it feels good that things are separated now, that I made some long overdue progress on my debt, got a raise, and some freelance work that really makes me comfortable in approaching this new phase of my life successfully.

I'll be getting paid this Friday, and I'm excited to see what that paycheck looks like with the bump in my pay. Also excited to start August completely separate from DXH - no double rent or any residual stuff. Theoretically it'll all be my "normal" expenses moving forward.

There's nothing really left to buy for the apartment, I've got my washer/dryer in and functional (after having to swap out the cord for a 3-prong), and so I'm shooting for a very low-spend August. I want to really focus on my writing this month and get back into a solid creative roll again. Particularly coming off the energy I experienced over the weekend. I'm going to take a break from a couple of other activities and make sure I'm giving what's important it's due diligence.

That's about all I've got for now in this long-winded ramble. I hope everyone has had a lovely weekend!

Raise and Car Paid Off

July 14th, 2018 at 09:59 am

This was my boss' last week at work, and I've been talking with our CEO about how things are going to progress moving forward (as well as learning a whole new job in just a hand full of days). Needless to say, it was an exhausting week - but of course there's good to come of all of it. One was the conversation I had about my pay increase.

I had given them a number last week that I would have been comfortable with. I'm currently making $35k, and asked for $42k as a base salary for my current job, not the interim department head. They came back with $39k for now - explaining that we can revisit after the transition time. They don't know how much they'll be paying the new hires, and there's a good chance that the department will be restructured a bit, so I can live with it. But during the interim while I'm taking over my boss' job, I'll also be making a bonus of $200/week - which would work out to more than he was paid monthly all things considered.

It's not quite what I wanted, but I didn't expect them to get there anyway. Our entire staff is grossly underpaid. Nonprofit or not, but I like my job and this raise certainly sets me up better on one income than I was before. For now, it's workable.

My boss that left, too, mentioned that they're going to need to hire someone new in his department coming up and would love to poach me. haha. So at least I know I'll have some options if things go terribly wrong. I wouldn't want to do that to the organization, so I likely wont. But again, it's good to have options.

For now, I'm just trying to stay sane and wrap my head around doing 3 peoples' jobs and enjoy my weekend. Things were overwhelming this past week, but they will be even more so without my boss around to answer questions and walk me through things. Trial by fire indeed.

***

Now that DXH and I split our finances and I have a decent handle on what my financial situation is going to look like, I decided to pay off my CC (I had racked up quite a few charges while replacing many of my belongings) and then made a $4k payment on my car, wiping that balance entirely. That's going to eliminate a $182 monthly payment, which I'm super happy about. Regardless of this raise, I'd love to have as much of my income freed up to use as I need to.

My account is going to have a surplus of about $3k at that point, which I'd like to move to a savings account and at minimum not touch, but hopefully add to. That's a nice little emergency fund. My only debt left at that point are student loans - shiny and refinanced. I'd like to start snowballing those babies ASAP. Right now I've got:

$2,570 AES Loan
$3,126 Great Lakes Loan
$31,146 Firstmark Loan
---
$36,844 Total

That total is still overwhelming but given it was over $50k at one point and largely rocking a 10% interest rate, I'm feeling okay about it. Just need to get aggressive. I'm hoping to eliminate the AES Loan entirely by the end of the year, and I think that's entirely doable given that I'm freeing up $182/month in car payment and getting a substantial raise, at least in the short term.

I'm also taking on more freelance work. Which may not be smart for my sanity, but is certainly a good financial move. That being said, I might have to step away from a couple of other extracurriculars. I'm already feeling the pressure on my time and energy. Something's gotta give. And because my goal here is to set myself up financially to possibly move out of state again in a year, the revenue-generating aspects of my life are probably not the ones to skirt.

I need to do some real soul searching here soon to determine where that energy is going to be best spent.

***

The rest of my to-do list right now is centered around getting the last of my things from the last place, getting it all cleaned up. Should be getting my $600 half of our security deposit back, so that'll help in paying off that loan as well.

Still need to start the divorce paperwork. That's a task for this weekend. As well as filling out my beneficiary changes on my insurance and adjusting my HSA - I'm planning to schedule a whole battery of medical appointments I've been putting off for a while now. Guess I should start adulting properly. I have nobody else to lean on anymore, after all.

***

At any rate, that's a lengthy update. I hope you all are enjoying your weekends and making progress on those goals! Have a good one!

Work Craziness and Progress Made

July 7th, 2018 at 03:53 pm

So D(X?)H and I got our bank account situation squared away this past week. He had a previously existing account still open from before we got married, so we just split our joint balance down the middle and transferred half to his account, then took his name off of it. Closed the joint CC. We're getting there.

Still haven't moved my washer/dryer. Between the hassle of hiring a truck, the weather not cooperating with my dear sweet volunteers, and the whirlwind of my life, I think I'm just going to hire someone to do it and save myself some headache.

The last two weeks have been rough to say the least. Had a really really bad (emotional) day at the end of last week, and it happened to coincide with my boss' announcement that he put in his two weeks. We were still trying to fill *his* boss' position, so currently I'm the most qualified person in the building to step up. Which I'm now doing, at least temporarily. While there are so many good things to this (will look good on my resume, is good experience, will come with a bonus), it's going to add a mountain-load of stress on my plate at a time where I was trying to eliminate as much change as possible. I really loved my management team when I was hired on, and now both are going to be leaving or gone. I met the top candidate for the senior position and wasn't even remotely impressed, so this could be really terrible in the end. I'm trying to stay optimistic, but it's hard to not be ridden with anxiety about the whole thing.

But hey, rolling with the punches is just what I've got to do right now. So do it I will.

The good news in all of this is that the raise I was already going to fight for has a lot more leverage behind it. I had the opportunity to give them a number, and we'll see what they come back with. Depending on how all of the transition goes, I may end up looking for another job. Not ideal given I'm not sure I'll even be in this city for longer than a year, but we'll see. If I can manage to stay put while making enough money and not wanting to rip my hair out, that's definitely my preference. haha.

***

Now that our finances are split, I have a much more accurate picture of what I have to work with and my budget. I'm really curious to see my first utility bill - that's still kind of a question mark. But hopefully once that bill comes in and I figure out how big of a bump I'm going to see in my salary, I can be on more solid ground for planning. Until then, just trying to keep expenses low and my mental health stable.

Hope everyone had a great holiday week. Enjoy the rest of your weekends!

New Apartment

June 28th, 2018 at 07:59 pm

I'm officially in the new place. Washer/dryer are going to be moved tomorrow with the help of a couple of friends. Still have some other odds and ends to get back over and grab, but for the most part that's it. All of the big furniture was hauled one carload at a time. No U-Haul. Just a lot of sweat. haha. I guess that means I don't have to feel as bad that I've been slacking on my workouts.

DH and I split the phone today, so that's that. When the guy told me my new rate would be $75/month I verified that I'm not on contract - I'll definitely be shopping around. I've never really liked T-Mobile anyway. Sprint may be the first one I look at... Got the internet up and running today, which is excellent. I'm back in action and fully functional here now.

We scheduled a meeting with the bank next week to split the bank account. We're going to wait for our last shared apartment payment to clear, pay off the CC, then split what's left. It's looking like $8,500-9k each. So a little less than what we expected, but we've been spending a lot these last couple of months. Eating out too much, replacing belongings. It adds up. I'm looking forward to getting back to normalcy and cooking consistently.

We still need to start filing the paperwork. Today he mentioned he was "waiting on me." I'm not sure whatever for. I guess he wants to sit down and do it together? I'm not sure, but now that the living situations are all worked out, it's probably come time to start that process. I think we're both avoiding it a little. It's more than a little sad. And this week has been particularly emotional because it was my last week in the house. We went out to dinner tonight and had a nice time, but it was definitely a sad note I left on. I guess it just comes with the territory. When I move one of our cats over I think it's going to be even worse. But it's all temporary. Time heals and all that.

On a happy note, I'm really loving my new place and it's starting to come together. Looking forward to getting some things up on the walls and it feeling a bit more lived-in, but I think I'm going to be really happy here, and I think it's a great space in which to weather this transition.

New couch is just LOVELY. It's the exact mustard yellow beauty I wanted it to be. Did have a little manufacturer's defect in one of the legs and a weird situation with the pricing when I ordered - but the customer service was amazing. I've got a replacement leg and a $100 refund already in the works.

In *other* good news, my two best friends from back home are coming to visit for the weekend, and I'm thrilled to see them. It's going to be a lovely distraction. We don't have too much in the way of concrete plans, which I kind of like. Very low key and up to our whims.

I'll be updating more regularly once the finances have been split and I have a more accurate picture of where I'm at, but for now I'm just enjoying the fact that I'm starting to get out of the purgatory phase and onto the new chapter. There'll be some more interaction with DH and I for a bit, which I'm actually grateful for. It's a real weaning process. I'm going to miss him a whole lot. Some steps are hard and some are not so hard, but I feel like they're going to get harder as things become more final. I'm glad we're not rushing it.

At any rate, this is already a novel. I hope everyone has a great weekend and is making progress on their goals!

And so it begins

June 16th, 2018 at 02:22 pm

With the keys in hand and an idea of what my new place will look like, I've begun the process of very seriously planning it and figuring out what things need replacing, given that we're splitting all of our belongings. I made some purchases today - couch, kitchen table, lamp (my new place has limited overhead lighting), a litterbox. I realized I had quite a bit of Swagbucks accumulated a few days ago, so I used $75 in giftcards from that ($50 in Target, which went toward the lamp, the remaining $25 in amazon for the litterbox).

It's really important to me that my space be really welcoming and calming - both for the sake of the transition, and because I plan to be spending a whole lot of time at home to save money in the long run. So I'm poking around and trying to make sure I'm being responsible with my spending, but also splurging a bit here and there for pieces I really love and reflect the kind of mood and tone I want to embrace in this new chapter of my life without DH in it.

I loaded up my car and will be running it over as soon as my bedding is done in the dryer. It'll be the first real collection of things moved in (outside of a single chair and my yoga mat, which made their way earlier this week). I'm also making plans to go out tonight, and might shower and get ready over there so I don't have to run back home. So things are moving along in some fashion.

Went over a lot of our belongings today with DH to figure out who is taking what and what each of us will need to replace. I'm making an IKEA run tomorrow - mostly for little things, but I'm looking forward to a little trip. Also picking up a vase from the Facebook marketplace on my way up. Been looking for a tall tall one for a while now, and it's only $15. So I figured while I'm up there I may as well pick it up.

My Navient loans are officially gone, and I got access to my servicing account for the refinanced loan. I can't explain how good it feels to have gotten rid of that 11% interest rate. It's like a huge weight has been lifted. I definitely feel better about my financial situation in the separation because of it. Looking forward to making more positive changes there - paying off my car, another student loan.

Once I get in the new place and get settled in, I'm going to look to booking more freelance work. I've been getting a bit here and there just because I'm involved in the performance community here, but I haven't actively been promoting myself at all. That will change soon, so I can divert even more funds toward that debt.

Overall, I'm really looking forward to getting to the point where things calm down and aren't quite so emotionally exhausting. I know I've got at least another month or so, but at least it's something to look forward to.

At any rate, time to get some moving done. I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend.

Lease Signed!

June 12th, 2018 at 04:51 pm

I put in an application yesterday for the place around the corner from where I work. Heard back today that everything was smooth in processing and he had me meet him at the unit to sign the lease and give me the keys. So it's officially official. I have a place to live and can begin moving in.

DH heard back about his today as well, and it seems like things are progressing the way they need to there as well. His potential move-in date is July 8. I'm hoping to have the bulk of my stuff moved by the time friends come in from out of town at the end of the month, and will be moving things gradually until then. I don't have a ton of big furniture, so I can basically load up my car every day and drop the load off before heading in to work, and I'll be pretty much set. That has the added benefit of letting it be gradual. A sort of weaning away from my current life into my new one.

With the move-outs being so soon, we're definitely looking to split up our bank account soon. I pulled my deposit and first month's rent from the joint account, so we'll do the same for his. But we don't want to wait much longer than that.

Also need to separate the phone plan. Wont be difficult, we just haven't felt like doing it. Same with the divorce papers. heh. We should probably file those at some point. I don't think we'll wait too long now that things are moving along.

Did talk to our HR person today about getting things in order to switch my beneficiary on my insurance. DH was under his own plan, so it's going to be relatively simple. I need to think through my HSA contributions while I'm at it - I know I have some things I need to schedule coming up. I already contribute a tiny bit per pay period, but it may be worth it to add to that at least for a few months.

My student loan refinancing was supposed to go through today but I haven't seen anything on the Navient end. Hopefully that will go through soon. I'm pretty excited to see it disappear. Serious good riddance to that horrible company.

That's about all the news I have at this point. Until we get everything split it's hard to have an accurate depiction of what my finances will look like, but at least I know what my rent is. Need to get internet set up in the new place toward the end of the month. It's looking like that will be pretty standard.

It's all very bittersweet - I'm trying to focus on the fresh energy of a new beginning. It's really difficult to do in this situation, and I've been feeling really drained for about a week now. I know it's temporary and all, but it's been difficult. Hopefully getting in and getting things organized will leave me in a more positive place. I do really like the apartment, and think I'll be happy there. Time will tell.

Hope everyone is having a great week!

Apartment Hunting

June 9th, 2018 at 02:04 pm

So I've been pretty aggressively hunting for a place to live. I visited my first apartment on Wednesday and it hit me in ways I didn't expect it to. The divorce is starting to feel real now. Things have been so amicable and fairly normal up to this point. But it's really happening. We'll be moving on to whole new lives within the next month or so.

The hunting itself has been fairly challenging. I did visit a unit literally around the corner from my work, which is very tempting - being able to walk 3 minutes into the office is pretty incredible. And I would have no excuse ever to go out to lunch or to get coffee, as I could run home really easily. I would have close access to the pool and gym (both where I work), providing free entertainment with so much convenience. Distance from not so free entertainment is an added bonus, as it's on the higher end of the range I was looking to spend.

They're also willing to let me have the keys now and not pay for June (just put the utilities in my name)because I wasn't planning to move until July 1. So I would have *plenty* of time to transition, which is really nice. And the place itself is really nice. More room than I need, but nice.

I'm looking at a couple more in the course of the next few days, and I'm not quite to the point where I need to start panicking. So I'm trying not to make any brash decisions. All of this feels so quick right now, and a bit emotionally hard to get a handle on, so I'm not sure if my hesitations are due to that or places not feeling like a great fit. It's tough to say.

Let's hope something in my price range comes along and really speaks to me. Or that I feel more confident in the unit I'm considering after seeing a few more.

My student loan refinancing is supposed to go through this coming week, so I'm more than a little giddy about that. This must be what real adulting feels like. haha.

Did some organizing in the office, and had a quick convo with DH about some of the things we need to split. Up to this point we haven't had any real disagreements about anything, and hopefully it'll stay that way. All signs indicate that they will. I count myself incredibly lucky.

That's it for today. Hopefully everyone is enjoying their weekend!

Back again! With even more change this time.

June 1st, 2018 at 01:03 pm

So here we are again – I haven’t posted in quite some time, and a big life change is happening. So I come back to the SA community. Y’all have seen me through so many life changes. Why should this one be any different? Ha.

So I’m getting a divorce. DH and I have been unhappy for a long time and grown apart pretty drastically over the last few years since we got married. It’s been amicable – weirdly, lovingly so. We both know it’s the right thing to do, and we’ll both be better for it. Our divorce thus far has been far healthier than our actual marriage. Irony and all that. Nonetheless, it has been hard. We’ve been together almost 8 years. It’s going to be a lot of history to shift away from. It’s going to continue to be painful. But I’m trying to focus on opportunity and the chapter that lies ahead. There is plenty to be thankful for. Not the least of which being our continued support for one another.

The splitting up comes with a lot of logistical stuff to deal with, and going from two incomes to one is going to certainly be an adjustment. I’m apartment hunting right now. We’re on the hook for our current apartment until the end of July, so we have some time. Just seeing what’s out there and hoping something amazing in my price range pops up… We thankfully have about $20k saved up in our joint account since getting married. We’ll be splitting that down the middle. We have no shared property, so things should be pretty easy on that end. None of our belongings will be hotly contested or fought over, so it’s really just a process of getting it all done.

I drew up a budget for myself last week and was more than a little scared about making all of my student loan payments. I’ve been paying about $600/month in minimum payments, and an additional $180 for my car. Which is a lot for just my debt… But I think I’ve worked it all out for the best. I was able to get my big chunk of private student loans refinanced (approval went through today) – which not only dropped my minimum down, but also my interest rate went from an average 10% variable to a 6% fixed. Needless to say, I’m feeling pretty good about that right now. Really happy this full-time job thing worked out for me after all. Ha. So that dropped my minimum payments down by about $150/month. Then with the money we’re splitting, I’m going to pay off one of my federal loans (about $1600) – which will eliminate a $130/month payment AND the rest of my car (about $4400). I wont have a ton of savings to show for it, but at least I know I’ll be able to cover my bills. And of course I save on interest payments.

And while I will have dropped my minimum payments, I don’t plan to only pay the minimums. In fact, I’d like to continue paying about the same amount every month as I have been. I just want to make sure I’m good even if I can’t go above my minimums. Really, I’d like to aggressively pay my loans in the coming year – in a way that I couldn’t before (both because I was paying so much, and because DH was so appalled by my minimums that paying above was not an option). My plan is to divert the majority (if not all) of my freelance income toward debt. And step up the amount of that I’m doing.

My other plan is to ask for a raise – sooner than later. I have more than demonstrated my value since starting my job, and my boss is amply aware that I should be getting paid more. We’ll see what I can swing (or rather, what he can swing).

So I’m getting there. I’m plotting and planning and trying to figure out all of the things I’ll be able to manage through it all. To be completely honest, I’m ecstatic to get to live alone again. I really enjoyed it when I did. And while of course it was amazing to have shared finances, I’m excited to have the opportunity to really dig into paying off my debt in a way I haven’t been able to. I think it will be so freeing to see it being chipped away at, and will put me in a great position for the next chapter of my life – because I honestly don’t know what it will look like or where it will be.

I’m just beyond thankfully that I’m not finding myself in an awful position through all of this. I understand that I am truly lucky (from both an emotional and financial standpoint) for things to be as smooth as they are.

There are a million things I could update here, of course. But for now, I’m going to just be excited about this bit of progress. These days, taking things one day (or even hour, at some points) at a time is where I’m at. Just have to keep moving forward. Ever forward.

Hope y’all are well, and I look forward to catching up with your posts as I become more active!

December Goals

December 3rd, 2017 at 02:28 pm

This week went by in a flash, but it was a good one. Worked out every day - can't say I've done that recently. But I've been feeling better, slightly less sluggish. A little less focused, though, too - oddly. I really do need to schedule a doctor's appointment soon and get my meds refilled. It's starting to feel a bit more necessary.

It was a good day, relaxing. Planned out my grocery list, had a shoot this morning (putting me at $150 towards my $200 goal for additional income this month). Then went to yoga, then hit Aldi before coming home. Spent about $50 for the week - and that included a $7.50 frozen cheesecake we're taking to an xmas party this week. I thought of making something, but all told once I bought the ingredients I would have spent about the same. And I saved myself quite a bit of time. So I feel good about that.

Meals for this week:

Crock pot Chicken Cacciatore
Chicken Pot Pie Soup
Mexican Stuffed Peppers
Pineapple Chicken with Rice
Brats with Butternut Squash Risotto
Fried Rice
Emergency Pizza (always on hand)

Thinking that we'll have at least one of these meals roll over into next week.

In other spending, did hit up the consignment shop yesterday and grabbed a couple of sweaters and a dress. All work clothes, all will get a lot of wear and love. Was $40 for the 3 pieces. Also had my swimsuit delivered today, so I'll be adding swimming laps to my workout routine. Suit only cost me $20 on Amazon. Was a little skeptical it would be quality, but it's actually fairly nice. Will definitely work for my purposes.

Set my goals for the month. A few were holdovers from November (adhere to budget, finish webseries). Increased my goal to working out 3x per week, and added tweaking my HSA contributions and investigating student loan consolidation. I need to sit down and figure out what I'll likely be spending on medical expenses so I can adjust my (now $10/pay period) contribution to my HSA. I'd rather get the money pre-tax if I can. And now that I have a steady full-time job, it's much more likely I'll be able to find refinancing options. So I want to at least see what the options are and get more aggressive about paying those puppies down.

Also need to add "Finish Xmas Shopping" to the list. We don't have much left to do, but I want it off my plate well ahead of time.

Thinking I might put up our tree tonight, since we don't have much in the way of plans. All I've done since getting home from the store is read my book from the library - which has been delightful. After traveling so much in the last few weeks it's been awesome to just relax at home.

Hope y'all are having a great Sunday!!

Back to Normal after the Holiday

November 28th, 2017 at 04:48 am

Whew! What a weekend. It was a really nice time, but very long. We clocked about 14 hours in the car total, visited 3 different cities, and ate 3 different Thanksgiving meals. I gained roughly 6 pounds over the course of it all. haha.

Trying to get back to feeling normal. All of the traveling (and eating, and drinking) had me exhausted all day yesterday. We didn't get home til 5pm on Sunday, and the only thing I had the energy to do was throw some pasta in a pan and heat up sauce. I think I went to bed at 8:30.

Yesterday at work was alright despite the tiredness. It's going to be a busy week - which I don't mind so much. I went to the wellness center after I got off, and worked out for about 1.5 hours all told. I've been really enjoying one of the pre-programmed courses on the elliptical, and it's an hour long. At the end of that hour it says I've burned almost 700 calories, so I'm really good with that. haha. Then I got on the rowing machine for 2000 meters. After working out I swung by Aldi. Managed to stay under $50 - which puts me right at my $250 budget for the month. Would have been slightly less, but we had to buy some things for our "Friendsgiving" contribution when we were out of town - and those foil pans at the grocery store are ridiculously expensive. Had I realized I would have found a Dollar Tree or something. A 12-pack was also included in that, so the total there was close to $40.

I suggested to a friend of mine we get together this week because his birthday was over the weekend. When he asked where I'd want to go out, I suggested he come over and I cook, so that's what we're doing! I'm making chicken paprikas tonight, which has been sounding so good lately with the chilly weather. Bought a bigger bird than usual so I could use part of it for a soup I'm making later in the week. I've been saving all of my vegetable scraps to make broth. Want to add chicken to it for even more flavor (and the meat for the soup itself). I've never made broth at home, but when I saw the idea to keep the ends of carrots, celery, onions, etc. I loved the idea of not letting them go to waste. So I started a bag in the freezer to keep the odds and ends. And then the same with chicken. When I trim meat, I end up just throwing little bits in the trash. Saving them in the freezer made sense to me so I could add them to the broth. Less waste is always welcome in my house.

Meals this week are:

- Chicken Paprikas w Egg Noodles
- Sweet potato and black bean burrito bowls (DH made this last night and it was great)
- Hawaiian Chicken with Rice
- Sausage and White Bean Soup
- Emergency Pizza

I'm expecting leftovers with a few of these, so it should cover us through the week. Maybe more, we'll see!

Started my little bit of xmas shopping. Hoping to finish it all by the 10th or so - then ship the box out to my mom's. Clarified with DH's family that we will not be doing gifts again this year. Did grab DH a pair of socks. Will be picking him up just a couple more little things. Putting my tree up at some point this week!

Just hoping to ride out the rest of November here without spending too much. It was an expensive month with all the travel. December may be pricier than I expected it to be, as it looks like we'll have a few visitors over the course of the month, and DH is taking another trip back to Ohio (I have my opinions on this). But I'm going to do my best to minimize all spending otherwise.

That's about it for now! Hope you all have a lovely week!

Screenplay Reading and Gearing up for the Weekend

November 22nd, 2017 at 04:17 am

My screenplay reading last weekend went great, despite some nasty weather that I'm sure kept some people home. It's always such a gift to hear my work brought to life, and my actors were fantastic. I'm very lucky. I got so many positive comments from attendees. Many asked what the next steps were, if there are any plans to put it into development because they'd actually like to see it as a movie. That's what we're aiming for, so it's good to hear the story is resonating with people. It bodes well Smile

My producer thinks the script has about one or two more passes before sending it on to the distributor. Once we do that we're hoping for some buy-in and leverage to gain funding (this distributor works with big name studios as well as indie companies). He's the money guy. I've got not connections in the biz. But he seems confident this could actually happen. I'm trying to not let my imagination run away with itself.

Submitted the script to two film festivals. I'll hear back in February and March on both of those. The first draft went to the semifinal round in a screenplay contest earlier this year, so I'm hopeful that they will be accepted in its current (better) state now. Acceptance or a win would be great leverage for pitching the movie as well, so crossing my fingers!

---

This week has just been flying by! It's exciting to have tomorrow and Friday off work, but I always feel the push to get completely caught up before a long weekend like this. Luckily, I've been fairly productive.

As far as spending goes, only spent about $33 at the grocery store over the weekend. We had dinners left over from last week, and we'll be out of town for the holiday - so it was mostly breakfast food, lunch fare, etc. Though I did pick up a pack of country style pork ribs for a little over $3 and cooked them in the crock pot with a bunch of leftover veggies and cream of celery soup. Yum. Will be adding that one to the rotation.

Got an oil change last night. Used a $10 coupon from the mail. It was still expensive, but we have a 5-hour drive back home coming up and it's been a little overdue.

It's going to be really nice to get to spend time with everyone. I'm glad we're not doing all 3 cities in one day like we typically do. Instead, we're doing a day per city. I'm hoping that will make it far less exhausting and allow us to really enjoy our time with each family/group. We'll be with family tomorrow and Friday, so I'm hoping it wont be a super expensive trip. Really, it should just be lunch a couple of times and of course extra gas.

Not doing any Black Friday shopping. I don't do crowds. I may hop online to see if there's anything worthwhile to grab. I'm still not sure what the story is with DH's family or whether we're doing gifts this year, so I've been holding off on planning for the moment. I'm sure we'll figure it out when we see them tomorrow, though.

Today will be finishing up work (and possibly staying late at work, depending on how productive I am), working out after, and getting ready for the journey. I hope you all have such a lovely Thanksgiving!

Finally an accurate picture

November 18th, 2017 at 06:29 am

So though I've been budgeting with Mint for the last month or two - I had found some errors and needed to clarify a couple of things with DH about how things were being paid (he set up autopay for a lot of our accounts), and how often the university pays him. I adjusted my numbers and the situation isn't quite as dire as I had initially understood it to be - we can at least live off our full-time income without having to stress that one spare dollar over the budget is cutting into our savings. And if we're frugal about it, we could even sock some away in our savings. Which will be useful during the summer months when DH wont be working. His income is supposed to increase by a bit come next semester when he starts teaching, so that will also help. We can't quite sustain with just my income. Sadly, he makes about as much as I do as a PhD grad student as I do working full-time.

So with that accurate picture, I feel much more comfortable setting some goals for the next year or so. Now that I do have a full-time job, I'd love to revisit the idea of consolidating (at least my private) student loans to get those interest rates down. And I really love the idea of throwing any extra income that way so I can hopefully get rid of them some day... I'm already paying $640/month in my minimums. But it will remain like that if I don't get super aggressive.

Thankfully, I am seeing some business stirring. That last possible photography job did not end up happening, but I have another smaller gig in the works and a potential design project as well... so the networking has been paying off. This kind of work is so dependent on word of mouth. It's nice to see things picking up finally.

This week has been (and will continue to be) a pricey one. Just a lot of socializing - which means drinks, dinner. A friend of mine came through town earlier in the week. Another had a birthday. Today we're driving to Nashville for the taped table read of my screenplay (woooo!), but that also means food/drinks. Next week we're going back to Ohio for the holiday, which again... Thankfully we'll be with family a lot of that time, but not the entirety. And our gas budget is definitely blown.

I guess on the good news, I'm killing it with the grocery budget, and even with a couple small purchases my "misc" spending hasn't even kicked in because of the refund I got from my cancelled class.

Speaking of which, I got a GREAT deal the other day using Victoria Secret coupons from the mail. 20% off any item and 2 free pairs of undies with any purchase. I've been putting off buying another "everyday" kind of bra. I'm the type that wears the same one day in and day out most of the time. Which isn't good, and wears them out quite quickly. $30 for a VS bra and a couple pairs of undies was an incredible value.

Need to get a jump on my xmas shopping. Still need to get word from DH's family if we're going to do any gifts. But I for sure am going to buy something small for my mom, sister, and mom's BF to send to their place before xmas hits. And I think DH and I decided to exchange a couple small things. So there is some spending in the works.

I'm actually excited about xmas for the first time in a really long time, it just being DH and me. Our plan is to have a Die Hard marathon at home, lounging in our PJs, exchange gifts, make delicious food, and all around relax. I'm looking forward to putting up our tree. I'm looking forward to no stress. I'm looking forward to the holiday feeling like an actual holiday. It's an almost foreign feeling for me, but I can get used to it.

At any rate, time for me to get some things done before we whisk out of town for a really exciting event tonight! I hope you all are having such a great week.

Groceries + Xmas Planning

November 12th, 2017 at 05:20 am

It's been a nice last few days. Did my meal planning and grocery shopping yesterday. Spent about $71 - which is slightly higher than I wanted to, but we have the means to make 8 different meals, and I'm hoping I get at least two nights out of a couple of them. So it'll likely bleed into next week, offsetting the spending there.

Talked to mom last night for a few hours. It was good to catch up, and we had to discuss the holidays. I let her know we're not coming back for xmas this year, and she took it better than I expected her to. For Thanksgiving, I gave her the option of taking a share of our time on Thursday (we visit DH's family as well), or getting us for the whole day/night on Friday... and it looks like we're doing Friday. I'm happy about that, as the running around on the day of leaves us exhausted and frankly unable to enjoy the festivities fully. But also because DH and I can spend actual quality time with her on Friday - "The Circus," as my mom calls it (my crazy family) will be at her house Thanksgiving, and it's hard to really be present with her when I'm trying to make small talk with people whom I have strained and/or nonexistent relationships with. Needless to say, I'm not close with my family. So it's much better for my mom and I if we can all hang out without distractions and such.

We discussed xmas presents as well. We're scaling back, thankfully. My mom lives for shopping and gift-giving, so they'll never go away. But she's more focusing on one small gift per person - which is great. I think I'll get her something like that as well, but also put together something a little more personal to go with it and mail ahead of time. Then it'll be a matter of grabbing something for my sister and something small for my mom's boyfriend and I think that'll be it. Not sure what the plan is with DH's family. Still not sure if he's even told his mom we're not coming home. Last year we all decided to not exchange gifts, and it was nice.

I hope I don't come off as a scrooge - it's not that I don't enjoy giving gifts. It's just so strange to me to end up purchasing generic things people typically don't need because I don't have a close enough relationship with them to understand what they really enjoy. If I literally only see and/or talk to someone 1-2 days a year, a gift seems more like something I'm doing because it feels like I should.

That being said, DH and I aren't going hard on gifts either this year. haha. Last year we didn't do gifts at all. That being said, last year we didn't have "Our" Christmas - which we typically have on xmas eve. Because we were traveling. This year, I actually plan to put up the tree and perhaps do a bit of decorating. I know we'll make a really nice dinner. Lounge around and watch movies. I think one really small gift will still be nice, or I might suggest we get a game or something we can play together as a "joint" gift to ourselves.

I'd just so much rather focus on the spirit of the holiday than the stress of the "stuff." There's so much expectation and pressure built around it. Down with the pressure, I say!

Nov 8

November 8th, 2017 at 04:18 pm

It's been a low-spend week thus far. Only spent about $50 at the grocery store, and picked a couple of meals that are really lasting. I made brats with sauerkraut and a huge bowl of mashed potatoes on Friday, which lasted through the weekend (including lunches) and yesterday tried my hand at some slow-cooker rice and beans. Well, made the bean portion in the crock pot anyway. I think ours runs hot and they were more than a little overcooked, but it made an enormous batch. We may end up freezing some of it and still eating it for a couple more days.

I hopped on Mint this morning to check the situation. DH went out of town this weekend back to visit. Any time either of us goes back it's expensive - restaurant meals and such. So we're already over budget in that category. Trying to keep the rest of the month really low-key. It's difficult to manage DH in that regard. He's so used to being able to go out whenever he likes and buy whatever he wants. But now, anything above and beyond our budget comes out of savings. We're lucky to have a decent amount tucked away, but that wont last long if we're not careful.

Worked out again today. I've been great on my schedule. Twice a week (three times last week!). It helps that I work at a fitness facility. And have coworkers that are happy to jump in with me. It's been really nice starting to feel stronger. My boxing class was cancelled, which was a bummer - but at least I'll be getting a refund (it was a specialty class).

Still waiting to hear on a potential photography job. And we sent out the proofs for our school photos - one of the parents was so impressed with my work for her preschooler that she reached out about potentially scheduling a session for her other kid. So that was really positive! It was a huge project at work that I was really stressed out about, so it's nice to know that parents are happy with the images.

That's really all I've got. Going to spend the night in, (hopefully) getting some work done. Finished the script for a short film this morning, so I was pretty excited about that. My habit of waking up early and writing has been going strong for a good month now! It's really exciting.

Hope everyone is having such a great week!

Catching Up (Again)

November 4th, 2017 at 07:08 am

I've been around SA since 2006, but I'm not sure I've consistently blogged for more than a few months at a time. And when I stop, things tend to go by the wayside. So I'm committing myself to doing better. Once again.

The last time I wrote was back in March, and MUCH has changed since then. DH and I made our move up to Louisville at the end of May. I spent three months in a very painful and stress-inducing job hunt. Then finally got a full-time job and started working mid September.

---

My goals for the year looked like this:

[ ] Adhere to monthly budget, continuously - NOPE.

When we don't really pay attention or plan, this is the case.

[ ] File taxes by March 1

Finally got done, but it was a NIGHTMARE. Will not be using that accountant again. We did get a bit of a return, so that was nice.

[ ] Ideally, save an additional $5,000 prior to June 1 - NOPE.

[ ] Find an apartment in Louisville for

Week Overview

February 14th, 2017 at 07:48 am

Just realized it's been about a week since I last posted. I need to stay on the ball (when I'm not posting, you can be sure I'm probably spending more than I should). It was a fairly busy week, and a slightly spendy one.

I decided to forego having a drink after class, and instead spent some time with a friend (just hanging out outside of the studio). The rest of the week there wasn't so much socializing. Just a lot of work and writing. Then Sunday DH and I had our "Date Day" - which was a day trip 2 hours away to Huntsville, where we visited the US Space and Rocket Center. I'm a huge space nerd, so it was pretty fantastic. We saw "Hidden Figures" while we were there (cheaper than a movie pass at the theater), then used a Groupon gift card a friend got us for xmas for dinner. Ended up taking home leftovers that I ate for lunch yesterday.

Yesterday was a rather insane day - I had found a job posting that I was really excited for, and was doing the research I felt I needed to write a very well thought out cover letter, etc - when I realized that the application deadline was 3 HOURS later. So it was a mad rush to get all of the information together and in the online system (which takes forever all by itself), then hastily write a cover letter. I didn't even have time to proofread it... so I'm a bit discouraged by that. It's the first job I've seen posted in the new city that I was so excited about that I applied this far out. Who knows what will happen... it was just frustrating given that I was going about it the right way and trying to be overprepared - then ended up having to muddle through it at the speed of light. It makes the rest of my job hunt process that much less enticing.

After the job application fiasco I went with a friend out to some thrift stores. We were looking for a prop for our upcoming shoot. We found some great options, and I also found a pair of adorable new heels and a blazer that I think will be great for job interviews - both $6 at Goodwill.

We did our grocery shopping as well. $62 at Aldi and I think about $20 at Target (we needed cat food). We looked at getting replacement brush heads for our electric toothbrush at Target and they were $21 for a pack of 5! Did a quick search on Amazon and it looks like we can get a generic pack of 20 for $17... so you know which way we'll be going on THAT. Sheesh.

We had our "V-day Celebration" last night - which consisted of making this feta dip and eating some brie for dinner. lol. It was supposed to be our appetizer, but we were both full and decided to save our steaks. They might end up being lunch today because we defrosted them, but I'll be out of the house from 3:30 until late tonight at class and he hosts trivia tonight.

Took a look at our budget, which isn't going nearly as well as I had expected it to. Our water bill was more than expected, our internet bill made up for the reduction we had last month (should have expected that), the oil change was more than expected. Thankfully we're not crazy over on our restaurant or misc budgets, so there's that. It's just disheartening to see all that red in Mint! ha.

At any rate, I should probably get to some work. This week is going to be just as (if not more) busy than this past one!

Weekend Expenses

February 6th, 2017 at 06:47 am

It was a very busy and very enjoyable weekend for me. Worked Friday night, then came home and got ready for my trip on Saturday. Woke up bright and early and drove to Lexington to meet my friend from Ohio. The AirBnB was fantastic, in a great location, and perfect for what we needed. We got lunch and a couple of beers at local breweries, then spent the night in with a bottle of wine, Indian takeout, and a couple of boardgames. It was absolutely perfect.

I added up the cost - and it ended up not too bad.

- $51 for the AirBnB (friend bought my drinks and lunch to cover her half of cost)
- $5.08 for a drink and snack on the way there
- $15.80 for Indian takeout
- $10.59 for bottle of wine (in retrospect, I prob didn't need to buy a bottle. But now I have some at home)
- $18.48 for breakfast
- $20 for extra tank of gas

Total: $120.95

I think the lesson I've learned is that I could shave off some extras at meals - probably didn't need an appetizer with the takeout, or a coffee and OJ at breakfast... Ah well.

Regardless, though, the trip was a great success - and I found an audiobook at the library that I am LOVING so far, which I got over halfway through on the way there and back.

***

The other expense that went way above my expectation was my oil change... I was well overdue for one. This is my first since moving South, and back in Ohio I always used the LubeStop by my house - which is roughly $60 for a full synthetic oil change. I go synthetic because I can get about 6,000 miles between changes rather than 3,000. At the Jiffy Lube by my place here in TN, the full synthetic change was $90!! What?? It was most surprising because I used to work there, and I don't ever remember it being that high.

I think the worst part is that they have you get out of your car before presenting the prices - so they're already done with half of your "inspection" (again, I work there, so I should have remembered this). So by the time I got the fun news, I didn't really have time to go somewhere else, and I was already out of my car and it was over the bay. So I just went with it. Though I didn't do the full synthetic. I did the synthetic blend, they gave me $10 off, and it still managed to be $70 total.

Needless to say, I wont be returning.

I may just break down and start pricing tools so I can do it at home. I'll have to price it all out and see how it works out. Or just research competitors in the area.

***

Grocery shopping today - and then I think I might be foregoing the networking meeting I was planning to attend. I'm exhausted from the weekend and haven't had a full day at home in weeks, it feels like. I wouldn't mind some time to catch up on a few things and maybe, I don't know, work out... haha. That weight isn't going to lose itself!

Hope you all had a great weekend!

Feb 1

February 1st, 2017 at 06:43 am

We're already one month into 2017. How did that happen?? Sigh. So I paid all of my monthly bills this morning and set out our budget. It'll be slightly less lenient than last month, but not too much so. Adjusted the gas budget to reflect the unexpected increase last month. Added a couple of things we know are coming up (Amazon Prime membership, a gift for his cousin who just had a baby). Adjusted the restaurant/bar budget - we're still only planning to eat out when we have company or are traveling, but we're both going to be out of town this weekend and we have friends visiting later this month. So the budget reflects that.

We decided that we're not doing gifts for Valentine's Day. We're going to make a nice dinner in - with the steaks my MIL bought us for xmas. And I'm going to make this whipped feta recipe. When we went to dinner this past month on our one date night we tried it, and it was delicious. So I'm attempting to recreate at home.

Also adjusted DH's and my misc spending money (essentially our allowances). DH mentioned wanting a little more freedom to get out of the house and go to a coffee shop, etc. He works from home and doesn't really have any friends here (as much as I've tried to introduce him to people), so he ends up cooped up most of the time. I am hoping to host a board game night sometime this month to get him a bit more social. And I think we'll be attending an Oscars party at the end of them month. It'll be good for him.

Updated my goals for February - most are holdovers from last month. It ended up being a really busy month and I while I didn't accomplish everything I set out to, I'm happy with what I did. And I'm just happy that I've been consistent in updating, because honestly it's the only thing I've found that keeps me accountable. So grateful to have you all here to motivate me!!

So that's that! Hope y'all had a great January and are looking forward to a productive February!

January Recap

January 29th, 2017 at 10:54 am

So here we are already. Just a couple of days left in the month! Sat down and looked over our budget and spending with DH, and overall we're pretty happy with how we did. We were over in a few areas, but there were also several things we hadn't accounted for at the beginning of the month - needing to get a new router, friends coming into town this weekend, needing to buy $50 worth of cat litter... you know. Our gas bill was also much higher than usual. Which is surprising. It wasn't even *that* cold this month. We'll see how it goes in February.

Took a look at my goals for January:

Net Gain of $1,750 in account - Actually, even with the unexpected spending, we're ending up with a surplus of $2,377!! Which is super exciting! We underestimated our income and had a couple of unexpected additions (HSA reimbursement, DH's trivia pay). So overall, really great progress there.CHECK.

Uber Frugal Challenge - I can't say this was entirely great, but we definitely cracked down on a lot of spending and were MUCH more intentional about it. This is particularly applicable to restaurant spending. It wasn't zero. But 95% of the month we cooked and ate at home. We had one date night, and the rest of our restaurant spending happened in the last two days because we had friends in town. There were some extras purchased, no doubt. DH bought a ticket to a soccer game, I bought some clothes from work yesterday ($28 for two dresses, a blazer, a pair of earrings, and a necklace) because it was our 50% off sale - and they're items I've been eyeing for months. Also, the AirBnB room for Lexington next weekend. So maybe not as "Uber Frugal" as Ms. Frugalwoods would have it, but I'm really proud of how calculated we were. So I'm calling it a win. CHECK.

Change phone plan - Nope. We really just need to get it done. Been procrastinating it forever.

Consolidate/put into forbearance gov't loans - Made some really great progress here, though it's not quite there.

Get HSA stuff figured out - CHECK.

Start GIS training (for resume building) - Not yet. Realized I had some technical issues, so I need to sit down and figure out how to install the software. Forthcoming.

Research networking opportunities in Louisville - CHECK.

Start putting together planning portfolio - Started compiling info, but haven't started actually building it out.

Edit screenplay - Still have a couple of days left in the month, and I'm hoping to get this done. Haven't quite started, but I did write an episode for a web series that a group of us is planning to shoot in the next month! So certainly haven't been idle.

***

So it was a pretty productive month! Even better - DH and I have been communicating much better about our finances. Which has been helping SO MUCH. He was really shocked (and happy) to see that we had such a high net increase for the month. He's on board with limiting our spending as much as possible again and only eating at restaurants when we have company. I'll have to rework the budget for February to include a few things we have coming up, but it shouldn't be too different.

Hope you all had a wonderful month!!

Jan 24

January 24th, 2017 at 12:27 pm

So - heard back from my banker friend, and it turns out that his company can't really get me a better interest rate on my loan. My credit score is fantastic (770!) and he said my debt-to-income is great too. But apparently being self-employed hurts my chances, at least with his company. However, he did give me contact info for a former coworker at another (bigger) bank, and said that I'll probably be able to get 6-7% through them. So there's hope yet for pulling things down. Though I might just wait until I secure a full-time job. I'm going to talk to her and see what she thinks. If it wont make a difference, then it makes sense to just do it now. But if it will, waiting might be worth it.

***

Went ahead and booked the AirBnB in Kentucky for the weekend after next. Requested the day off of work, which my boss said was fine. She hadn't actually finished the schedule, so it may not make a big difference in terms of my income regardless. One night in the AirBnB is only $50 after taxes, and we're splitting it. So it's the matter of gas, $25 for the room, and whatever I spend on food/drinks for 24 hours. For a much-needed getaway with the bestie I would say that's a steal. I'm super excited about it Smile

***

Had lunch meetings yesterday and today - though today I just had a cup of soup at Panera. All came out of my business expense account, so there's that. Brought enough leftovers home yesterday so that DH could enjoy them today.

Will possibly get a drink at the bar after class tonight. We'll see how everyone is feeling. DH and I have had a rough go of the last few days, but thankfully last night we came to a resolution and things feel good again. Other than just being exhausted (emotionally and physically). So I may not feel up for socializing. We shall see.

Making enchilada casserole for dinner tonight before I head out, which should last us a couple of days at least. Tomorrow I have a shoot, so I hope the weather holds out. The rest of the week will be a balance of work and friends coming in from out of town. Not sure what the plan is there, but I'm sure we'll find something enjoyable to do.

That's about it for today. Hope you're all enjoying your week!

Adulting Day

January 22nd, 2017 at 01:52 pm

That's pretty much what it's has become for me now that the boutique is closed Sundays - meal planning, grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning. Feels good to get it done, and I usually work on Saturday, so it's nice to get it done.

Hit up Aldi, and I think was only a dollar or so over my budget. Spent $48.48. I think that's partially because we didn't end up cooking two of the meals from last week's menu... so they're on this week's. In the works:

- Chicken Lo Mein (I'll be making this tonight)
- Enchilada Casserole
- Chicken Alfredo w/ Linguine
- Steakburgers w/ Roasted Carrots
- Chicken Tenders w/ Tots
- Brats in a Blanket w/ Green Beans

I'm hoping the casserole will feed us 2-3 nights, actually - and we'll do leftovers and/or use the brats for lunch.

Tomorrow I'm taking a fellow BNI member out to lunch (because I forgot I needed to provide a "door prize" during my presentation this week). It'll be Mexican, so hopefully cheap. Also, we have friends that are in town for a wedding this weekend - which I forgot will likely alter our eating schedule. My guess is that we'll hit a restaurant at least once. But hopefully not more than that. We rarely get visitors, so it'll be really nice to see them. Just going to have to make the best of it.

Despite all of my best efforts to only eat at a restaurant once this month, it seems we're not getting away with it. DH has already gone out twice to grab stuff for lunch :/ And socializing makes it difficult. Sigh.

***

Talked to DH and let my banker friend know to start my loan application without DH's information - better to at least see what the picture looks like without before adding it in there. The fact that we got into a huge fight the other night (not about anything financial) helps me think logically about the whole thing. You never know.

He said I should hear back early this week, so hopefully it'll be news of decent interest rates. I'm only looking to do the $25k at this point - the process is easier and I'd rather not touch my government loans, just in case (though I wouldn't bank on it) there are options for forgiveness in the future.

***

One of my best friends from back home called and proposed we get together the first week of February - meeting in the middle, 4 hours away. Which I reeeeeally could use in my life right now. Waiting for her to send over the cabins/AirBnBs she's researched to see what the cost is. And I have to get in touch with my boss to see if I can get that Saturday off. Overall, not the best financial decision. So I'm feeling a bit guilty about it. At the same time, though, I think we could make it happen fairly cheaply. Split the cost of a room, bring our own food. I think all in all it would be fantastic.

I don't love that it's so soon, but with her babies and our schedule in March, it might be the only opportunity. So I'm still thinking that through.

***

Finished the Hobbit! Now to read the two books I've got from the library... Think that's about it for news!

Good and Bad News

January 19th, 2017 at 08:41 am

At work yesterday our boss let us know that the store is no longer going to be open on Sundays - we extended our hours about 3 months ago, but the sales that day are so horribly low it doesn't even cover the cost of our being there. So it makes sense. I work for a non-profit, and it's no use burning up money that could be funding programs to employ us when there are no customers in the store. I'm obviously a bit sad to lose the hours - but at the same time I'm thankful to have a bit more time now that my photography is starting to pick up. It's a matter of losing about 5 hours a week. If I can use those hours productively, it'll balance out for the better in the end.

Also, I'm excited to have my Sundays back. As things have picked up, I'm finding myself needing to adjust again. When I was just running my business I had my flow. But cutting 15-20 hours out of my work-week, working on my feet on concrete has not only messed with my flow, but also my energy levels. Turns out I'm not as young as I used to be Wink

***

Filled up my tank yesterday. Shouldn't be doing any spending today. Had my BNI presentation this morning, and it went pretty well. Finished up a proposal for a fellow member who wants me to build her a website. Would be a great project. Have two shoots in the works for the next couple of weeks and 3 one-on-one meetings scheduled. So networking is going well.

Had a meeting with another member earlier this week - a banker. He's planning to schedule a shoot as well, and I started talking with him about my student loan situation. After sending over some information, it looks like I might have some options! I have about $40k in student loans, with interests rates sitting around 9%. He said we should be able to refinance somewhere in the range of 5-7%, so that's exceptionally encouraging. Fixed rate, a balance that actually goes down every month? Pretty exciting to think about. So I'm having him run some numbers and we'll see what happens. The only thing I'm a bit worried about is the fact that when I do refinance, my "student loans" I assume turn into mere "bank loans." I'm not sure how lenders look at that, and I'm curious if that affects anything moving forward. Either way, however, it feels like cutting my interest in almost half, if possible, is the only logical decision to make there.

The conversation about my debt with DH is always a strained one, for obvious reasons. I know he's willing to cosign, etc. But he has no debt outside of an auto loan, and I don't think either of us is naive enough to dismiss the (minute) possibility of the "D-word" at some point. Obviously, neither of us wants that - but we're also realistic and understand that we just don't know what the future holds. It's really strange managing money as a married couple. I feel like it's getting better, but it's just so emotional and complicated. I have faith, though, that we'll arrive at a place that makes sense and allows us both to feel comfortable in the decision.

***

No other news except that DH did finally transfer the money from his HSA to cover his dental appointment last month. So that's taken care of. Just need to start attacking some of the other items on my to-do list! Time to get to work!

Jan 17

January 17th, 2017 at 06:33 am

No-spend day yesterday. Had a really productive day off, and made chicken paprikas for dinner. We have a TON of leftovers, so we'll have it for lunch/dinner today, and perhaps dinner tomorrow. I think the rest I'll freeze. Certainly don't want it to go bad!

I have a meeting with a potential client here in about an hour, then a possible shoot this afternoon (we're going to see what the weather is like later today). Acting class tonight, and I'll probably head to the brewery after - purchase one beer. Still within the budget. I just need to make sure to bring snacks to class. That worked really well last week.

Had an invite from a friend this morning - to possibly go out dancing this Saturday. Not sure what I want to do. Kind of hoping that it ends up getting pushed off to February. I think I'll decline if not. I have a shoot Saturday morning, then work in the afternoon. I'l probably be pretty tired.

That's about it for financial updates. Just trying to tackle these to-do list items! Hope you are all having a lovely week!

Meal Planning and Groceries

January 15th, 2017 at 10:50 am

So the last couple of days have gone okay, financially speaking. Yesterday I managed to have all of my meals at home - which was nice. I had expected to need to stop and use the McDonald's gift card I have in between work and helping a friend with a project, but I had to run home and just ate some ramen. Then we got done earlier than expected and had a snack at home before heading out to see my friend perform. I did spend $5 on one beer for that (budgeted), though DH ran out and got Five Guys instead of eating at home. Busted. I was a bit peeved. We do have some money in the budget, but I was really shooting for ONE restaurant meal this month (date night), like we had agreed... Nothing to do about it now, though.

Meal planned and grocery shopped today. Was over the weekly budget by $1.76. I'll just have to adjust for next week. The menu for the week is as follows:

- Quiche (making that tonight)
- Tacos
- Chicken Paprikas
- Chicken Lo Mein
- Steakburgers w/ Roasted Carrots
- Chicken Linguine

I'm thinking that we'll have plenty of leftovers at least two of those nights - and I got stuff to make PB&Js for lunch. Instead of purchasing cottage cheese, I'm going to work on eating the oatmeal we had at home. Would have been under the budget, but I forgot we needed laundry detergent and I picked up a couple extra things - though nothing crazy or impulse-tastic. I've just been craving juice for weeks. And we're out of pickles (I like them on my burgers).

Other than groceries, today should be a no-spend. I've got the day off, and I think we're just going to relax around the house. I think I'll take a nice bath at some point. I started feeling like I was getting sick last night. A nasty cough started up. But I ran my essential oil diffuser all night next to my bed and I think it helped a lot. Maybe it was the placebo effect - I don't know, but I'm counting my blessings today. I have the world's worse immune system, and the weather has been so whacky that it's a miracle I haven't gotten sick yet.

Hoping to finish reading the Hobbit this week. Have another book waiting for me at the library. I've only got one shoot in the works for this week, so I should have enough time. It feels good to have today and tomorrow free of any obligations. I feel like I needed a couple of days to recharge after a really busy week.

Hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Jan 13

January 13th, 2017 at 07:38 am

It's been a busy week. Had a shoot on Tuesday and THREE yesterday. Which is fabulous. I'll definitely be hitting higher than my target income from my business this month! Woo!

Which is good, because we had a couple of unexpected things pop up this month. The router has been taken care of and is still going well. But I got an email from our fantasy football commissioner... and I forgot that I had to pay everyone (I'm the treasurer, and they all paid me at the beginning. Now is time for pay outs). At first I was really dismayed because I hadn't really tucked any of that money away. But it turns out I had tucked at least half of it unintentionally in my Paypal account. So not too much out of the bank account. Neither of us won. Not sure I'll be playing next year. It made more sense when we were in town and actually watching games with our friends in the league (and by watching, I mean they watched and I ate food and socialized). Away from Ohio, I just kind of look at it once a week and stress when things aren't going well. So...

***

Our budget is still going well. Took a look at it this morning - and the only place we're over is in DH's discretionary budget. We each had $50 this month. The router was split between. He ordered a book and bought a ticket to a soccer game next month, so he's over by about $25. I'm sitting at $5 under. I paid $10 for parking downtown last night - we had a date night and went to see the symphony Smile

That being said, our Uber Frugal Challenge has been a bit of a challenge. We did budget for the date night, and we're still within our spending limits. The Frugalwoods don't actually budget - at this point, we need to babystep it. I work well with structure. Though, I was talking with DH last night at dinner about how I really enjoy the fact that we decided to do just one restaurant night - and did it up, so we really enjoyed it. Rather spending twice what we did on several smaller takeout trips or random nights out. I guess I'm approaching it as more of an "Intentional Frugal Challenge" than an Uber one, but we're still on course to hit our net gain. Even with the unexpected expenses popping up, we got an unexpected $250 this month (DH's trivia earnings that I hadn't accounted for and a check from dad for xmas) AND it looks like our income across the board will be more than expected, so I'm still hopeful.

***

Date night last night was fantastic. Things with DH and I have been really great since the start of the new year. We've been communicating so much more effectively, and the few little kerfluffles and disagreements that we have encountered were handled so much better than they have in the past. That first year of marriage was tough. But it's nice to see that we've learned a trick or two and that things are improving.

***

Not getting through my sidebar list nearly fast enough. Need to light a fire under myself. The time is flying by so much quicker than it used to...

That being said, off to get some things done! Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Jan 8

January 8th, 2017 at 09:25 am

We survived our first Tennessee "Snowpocalypse," which was a bit humorous for us northerners. I could still see the grass through the snow, and the store was shut down... haha. I enjoyed my unexpected day off. I'm sure I'll be missing the income, but ah well.

Did our grocery shopping yesterday - only spent $50 at Aldi, which was fantastic. If we can do the same next week we'll be in good shape, as we ordered our cat litter yesterday - $50 on Amazon. It was the cheapest option, but will last us 6 months. Did I mention we LOVE the Breeze system? No litter all over the place. It works out really well for us. Particularly because our litter box is tucked in the bottom of a small closet in our super small bathroom. I was worried that the large expense in this month would throw off our grocery budget, but we're left with $60/week for the next couple of weeks, and that's totally do-able.

Meals for this week:

- Chicken Tikka Masala
- Chicken Fajita Bowls
- Steakburgers w/ Broccoli
- Pork Loin Roast
- Pork Ramen w/ veggies & Egg
- Brinner (Omelettes)

On Thursday night we're getting dinner out and going to see the orchestra. That was our one restaurant trip budgeted for this month. Purchased the tickets last month, so we should be set there.

In good news, we got our new router - the one on the cheaper side - and it works like a *charm*. So hopefully DH's work days will be MUCH less stressful with less dropped calls and shoddy conference meetings.

Finished my first book of 2017! First Lord of the Rings. Will be returning it to the library today, picking up the movie I have on hold, and starting the Hobbit - backtracking, I know, but it was available for free borrowing on Amazon for a limited time. So why not. I'll put the second LOTR on hold here so it will hopefully be in by the time I finish the Hobbit. Our library system is fantastic. I don't know why more people don't use it.

At any rate, I hope you are all enjoying your weekend! Off to work here shortly, so I'm out!

Jan 5

January 5th, 2017 at 08:49 am

It's been a rather busy week already, and next week is shaping up to be a big photography week. I think I'm going to have 4 shoots on Thursday now (!) Which of course is awesome! One of those came from a referral from my BNI group this morning. Which is nice. My client from last week also purchased and extra photo - so that was another $50. Always very affirming when people love the photos so much that they purchase more than the originally paid for.

***

Following BNI I had another dentist's appointment. It had been (embarrassingly) several years since going, and I finally broke down a couple of months ago. Had to have a "deep clean" and today was a follow-up and light cleaning. I'll go one more time in April for a maintenance cleaning, and then hopefully my gum disease will be under control. But we're talking now about orthodontics. Turns out I have a cross-bite, which can lead to some nasty stuff down the road. They gave me a bunch of information and pricing on Invisiline today. I need to talk to DH about it. Even with insurance it's a hefty bill. And the man who had gone even longer than I had without seeing the dentist may have a hard time digesting something like that. He just doesn't value healthcare quite as much. That being said, I think he's got quite a bit in the HSA that hasn't been used and with him leaving his job within the next six months, it may be an option. We'll just have to see. Because he may need some additional work done as well. We really need to schedule some additional medical appointments before our insurance situation changes.

***

Techs from the cable company came out yesterday and it turns out they shouldn't have in the first place. It was really quite silly. They just had us hook into ethernet and see if the connection speed was where it needed to be. When it was, the diagnosis was pretty simple. Our modem is fine, the router just isn't working properly. Why they didn't suggest us doing that over the phone is beyond me. I feel a bit silly that we hadn't thought of that ourselves. But you know... I'm thinking about calling Comcast and asking them to refund the cost of the tech visit. They did nothing we couldn't have done ourselves, after all. Either way, we'll need a new router. DH priced a couple on Amazon, and they're not terribly expensive. We're going to try the cheaper option, and see if it solves the problem. It'll come out of our discretionary budget for the month.

***

Paid my remaining bills yesterday, but no spending outside of that. Will be the same today. I'll eat lunch before heading to work, then I'll cook tonight. And for the next few nights as well. I don't have any actual plans for the weekend outside of working, so the Uber Frugal Challenge should go pretty smoothly still. And give me some time to tackle some of the items on my January goal list.

***

That's it for me! I hope you're all having a great start to the new year!

Great start to the New Year

January 3rd, 2017 at 07:03 am

So our NYE was pretty uneventful. We were supposed to go to a party, but it turns out we're both pretty lame. haha. We decided to stay in and relax. I didn't know the people at the party very well and it saved us the trouble of driving - or taking Uber, which would have cost us money. Also, we would have needed to buy something to drink ($10) and bring some kind of shareable snack ($10). So financially, it was the right move to make. We had our kiss early when we went to bed at 11:30. I think this is the first alcohol-free NYE I've had since I graduated high school. 30 really is making me boring Wink

DH and I went through our January budget and solidified it. So far so good. Paid a few bills - student loans, cell phone. Cancelled Hulu. Cancelled Netflix, but I think our friend is taking over the payments (he shares it with us). Need to pay my car payment still and a few other things. Will do that today.

***

Went to Kroger on the 1st to get food to cook that night (the pork roast I had bought had a really funky smell when I opened it. I don't think it was sealed properly, so we threw it out). So we bought dinner for the night, pork and cabbage. And a few odds and ends and made our list for Aldi - which I hit yesterday. And then Kroger again because I needed stout beer to make the Irish stew I had planned. So our total grocery spending for the week is $76. Which is right on track.

This week's meals:

- Pork & Cabbage (made)
- Irish Stew w/ Mashed Potatoes (made, delicious)
- Steakburgers w/ Broccoli & Cheese (MIL bought us a bunch of steaks/steakburgers for the holiday)
- Chicken Tikka Masala (got a sauce from Aldi last week)
- Perogies & Brats
- Chicken Tenders w/ Sweet Potato Fries (our "emergency" junk food)

Had quite a bit of leftovers from the stew last night. So we'll either eat that for lunches or not cook tonight. I try to include a mix of easier, convenient meals that DH can cook with more complex meals that I enjoy cooking. And always include one "emergency" frozen convenience meal that holds us over if we're craving takeout. Like a pizza or orange chicken from Trader Joe's. This week we went with breaded chicken tenders and sweet potato fries. Not healthy. And not always the cheapest -but realistic and WAY healthier/cheaper than what we would get with takeout.

***

We are doing the "Uber Frugal Month," and I have been reading along and doing the exercises. But I'm still making some minor tweaks. Like, we went to Starbucks yesterday, to sit and read, because DH wanted to and because we have gift cards from a year ago that we were able to use. DH has been more cooperative than usual in all of this frugality, and I like to embrace frugality as intention. Keeping it balanced.We still each have $50 of discretionary spending budgeted in, just in case. Hoping to keep that mostly unspent, though.

***

Speaking of coffee, though, I think our Keurig might be biting the dust. We don't actually use k-cups, but use the refillable one for regular coffee (well, my favorite Trader Joe's fair trade shade grown Ethiopian coffee. I've done the math. Still cheaper and better for the environment). But in the last couple of weeks it's been getting strangely weak. I bought some k-cups at Aldi yesterday to see if maybe it's the reusable k-cup pod, but it's still weak. Better, but weak. I've tried all of the Googling. Cleaning out needles, etc. But it looks like I may have to call them up. Not sure it's in warranty or not. We've only had it a couple of years. Hopefully they'll be able to do something for us. Not sure what our alternative will be.

In other things not working well, we're having a tech come out from our internet provider. We've been paying for a certain level of speed, but when we do the checks we're only getting maybe a 1/4th of what we're paying for. Which would just be annoying for me, but because DH works from home and has conference calls on the regular, it's been negatively affecting his day. Nobody can hear him, or it's completely spotty. It's a mess. The cable company was trying to get us to upgrade... but that hardly seems the problem if we're not getting what we're already paying for. So hopefully that will be sorted out. And the cost of the visit (while partially credited by the cable company) has been factored into our budget.

***

Today my plans are pretty chill. Have some editing to do from a session last week. Tonight I'm photographing a friend's performance. He wont be paying me much, but it's something. My alternative would have been going to see DH at trivia, which would have meant buying at least one drink. I want to support him while he's hosting (it's out of his general comfort zone), and I do so love trivia. But I also don't want to go by myself and never got around to wrangling people to go with. So it looks like making money trumps spending.

***

All in all, I'm thinking it's been a great start to the New Year! Relaxing, for sure. And proactive. Hope y'all are having a similar experience!

2017 Outlook

December 30th, 2016 at 10:00 am

This year was a pricey one. Moving from the glorious land of low-property values to Nashville (a booming market with a constant influx of people) meant doubling our rent payments halfway through the year. Our utilities were pretty consistent with Ohio, but moving to a new city means getting out and exploring our new home... and spending a whole lot of money eating at new restaurants, visiting new bars, etc. Combined with the fact that we just weren't really watching our spending and I was unemployed for my first 3 months here (with no network to build my business on), it was a bit rough for sure.

But we're starting to right ourselves and plan for the future, now that our lives have a clear trajectory, as DH was accepted into his PhD program.

So. Many new changes on the horizon. And many big questions: When will DH officially quit his job? When will I find one? What will our expenses be like once we do move? How much money will I be making? What will our benefits look like?

The move will happen the last week in May, which really only gives us 5 months to answer those questions, plan our strategy, and execute. That's not a whole lot of time at all. I feel like the last 3 years have included big events we've had to plan for - the wedding, the move to Nashville, and now the move to Louisville. Thankfully, his program is 3 years. So we'll get two that should be "business as usual." Unless a baby sneaks its way in. But as of right now, that's not in the game plan.

All that being said, the focus right now is on saving money to account for some of those question marks. What we DO know is that we will definitely be moving when our lease is up, by the end of May. DH wont start classes in the fall, and thus he likely wont be getting a stipend until then (and we're still waiting to hear back that he's getting one for sure). We expect the stipend to be between $18-20k/year. I also know that DH doesn't want to continue on with his job past our move. So we'll be losing a big chunk of income then. All that basically means that it's imperative for me to find a full-time job as soon as possible - and we need to plan for the just-in-case it takes longer.

We do have some money saved up, but I'd rather not touch it if possible, of course. And there are some things that I think we'd like to do prior to the move - just in case it's harder to do after. Things like funding our IRAs for 2017 (if possible), making any doctor's appointments that need to be made, etc. We've talked about making one last big trip, too. But after a conversation this morning, it just seems like putting it off to the winter makes more sense. I think we're going to do a trip for xmas next year instead of trying to fit one in the middle of such a big transition. We may be taking a trip out to California for his cousin's wedding, but even that is a bit up in the air right now. We priced tickets, and it'll run us up like $1,000. They came to our wedding, but their parents paid for the tickets. It's also about a week before we move, and not great timing. We're not actually close to them, either (I met his two cousins at our wedding last year). So we're going to wait that out a bit and see what the best course of action is.

The nice thing is, once we move we'll be cutting our rent in half. We've started looking at apartments in Louisville, and it seems that we'll be able to find something great within our price range. And I think we're both ready to make some sacrifices there, given that we'll both be working out of the house. Having a lot of room was important to us here - but we both work from home.

I worked out what expected monthly expenses will be in Louisville, and it comes out to be roughly $3,500/month. If I can get a job making at least $40k/year, that should allow us to cover our expenses and put away a bit along with DH's stipend. And I'll be doing photography as a side gig, so potentially we could put away even more. But we'll see. I'm *hoping* I can find a job making at least that much. At this point there are no guarantees.

So we've got some goals in mind for 2017:

[ ] Adhere to monthly budget, continuously
[ ] File taxes by March 1
[ ] Ideally, save an additional $5,000 prior to June 1
[ ] Find an apartment in Louisville for $1,000 or under
[ ] Find a full-time job at $40k +
[ ] Take a trip for xmas (probably Thailand)
[ ] Fully fund IRAs for the year
[ ] Consolidate student loans

And some goals for January:

[ ] Uber Frugal Challenge
[ ] Change phone plan
[ ] Consolidate/put into forbearance gov't loans
[ ] Get HSA stuff figured out
[ ] Start GIS training (for resume building)
[ ] Research networking opportunities in Louisville
[ ] Start putting together planning portfolio

DH and I went through and set up our budget for January. I cancelled Hulu and we'll be doing the same for Netflix. We have Prime and HBO already, so it seems like opting out of these two for a month will be an easy way to save about $20. We're also going to shoot for eating at a restaurant only one time this month. We're going to see the symphony play on the 12th, so that'll be our fancy date night. Otherwise, we're cooking at home. Nobody is visiting this month, and we're not taking any trips - so it should be pretty simple.

I also set our grocery budget to $300. Our "grocery" budget includes toiletries, cat food, and cleaning supplies, etc. So it'll be tight for sure. We just need to get creative. My mom was the master of inexpensive meals growing up. I've learned from the best. And I love a challenge.

***

As for personal goals, they're the same as they are pretty much every year. Live healthier, embrace my passions, work on myself and my marriage. This past year I didn't do a list of resolutions and instead decided to keep track of the things that I did during the year that I particularly loved or was proud of. It's a pretty amazing list for 2016. I have a feeling it will be the same next year. Photography will take a smaller space in my life, but I see it as an opportunity to focus more on what I love about it. My acting and writing are just getting started, and I'm excited to see where they take me moving forward.

There's a lot to look forward to - and so much to do!

It's Done!

December 27th, 2016 at 06:46 am

Finally - the holidays are over! Such a relief. This year was particularly lacking in spirit here in our house, and all of the travel was a lot. DH and I decided halfway through our visit home that we'll be staying home for the holidays next year. Oddly, it was his suggestion and not mine. This was our first xmas living away from our home state, and an 8 hour drive followed by lots of running around was just not ideal. Given my strange relationship with my family, it wasn't all that enjoyable even once I got there. Visiting with his family was nice for the most part - they're having their own share of drama at the moment. But I got to finally meet his cousin's new baby, and see his grandma, who had a nasty fall a few months ago, but is thankfully doing much better. I think once we have kids, we'll make a real effort to have the holiday be exciting and family-oriented, but until then we're fine with it being low-key and relaxing.

Beyond the stress, our trips home tend to be pricey, hitting restaurants and stopping along the way (and of course gas). Took a look at the budget when we got home last night. We're over budget in quite a few areas. January will be easier to be rather stringent. I'm looking forward to that. No trips planned. Nobody visiting. It'll be nice to have things just feeling like normal. In fact, this will be the first time since we moved that we'll be going a whole month without a trip back home. I'm elated!
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This is also one of my favorite times of the year: the end/beginning of the next. I love reflecting and goal setting, and I'm pretty excited to get into it. This year I didn't really have any resolutions set. Instead, I decided to keep a list of things that I loved or was proud of as they happened. It was a rather eventful 2016 for sure. Lots of change. And much to come - so I feel it will be a good practice. At the beginning of this year I did a 30-day journaling challenge. I plan to do that again this year.

Also, DH has the whole week off of work, which is really nice. He's been miserable at his job, and it'll be great for him to get a break and relax. Today we need to go pick his car up at the shop and do some grocery shopping. He's running bar trivia tonight and I have no plans outside of making dinner tonight. Started on my list. Need to get that finished up. Trying to keep it inexpensive given that we're already over the grocery budget (our "grocery" budget includes anything bought at the grocery store and OTC medications, cleaning supplies, etc). I think I'll be adjusting that a bit for January - but our restaurant budget is going to be *way* lower.

We're going to a small get-together on Saturday for the New Year. Not doing anything crazy, just spending time with some new friends from my acting class. So that should be a good time (and inexpensive).

Hope you all enjoyed your holiday and are looking forward to the new year!


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