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Archive for November, 2014

Snow! And Groceries! And Engagement Rings!

November 14th, 2014 at 07:45 am

I know, most of the country is freaking out about snow right now. I'm actually a little happy to see it, to be honest. It's looking rather pretty outside Smile

***

Yesterday was a true no-spend, but today I'll be hitting the grocery store to grab some stuff for meals in the next week or so. On the menu:

- Pizza (we'll get the ingredients and put it together ourselves)
- Grilled Cheese and Soup
- Homemade Cornbread Waffles with Pulled Pork, topped with an Egg

Noticed a lot of carbs, but as it starts getting colder I tend to crave comfort food. The waffles were a fun idea I had, and will probably be what I make for our weekly dinner night with friends. BF's mom gave us a waffle iron a while back and we've never used it. Figured it would be fun to try. And I like doing non-traditional spins on different meals.

***

So engagement rings are in my title. BF and I are at that point where we're more or less planning on getting married next fall. He's been dragging his feet a bit on the proposal, and when I asked him last month why he hadn't popped the question yet (yeah, I'm that kind of crazy), he basically told me he just hasn't gotten around to buying the ring. I very gently reminded him that if he was hoping to have the ceremony next fall that we should probably start planning soon.

The other day (without prompting, I swear), he looked at me and said, "I really do need to buy your engagement ring." He then told me to just pick one and send him a link.

I'm sure many people would say me picking the ring kind of takes the fun out of it, but I'm really laid back about these things. Being married to him is what is going to be special.

So I'm in the process of shopping for an engagement ring. haha. Looking for something nice and inexpensive. That whole "3 months salary" garbage isn't going to fly with this girl. I told him if he spent that much I would say no. Which is a lie, but I would probably have him exchange it for something more modest in that case Smile I'll go for an engagement ring with a bit more jazz, and then opt for a small, simple wedding band. In any case, I'm hoping the total is less than $500.

Now all I have to do is get my finger sized and make a decision. Can't blame it on him anymore. haha.

No-Spend

November 13th, 2014 at 07:46 am

So the other day I wrote that it was going to be a no-spend day. That didn't end up being the case. I ended up actually going to the mall with a friend of mine and picking up a few things. I spent about $40 - $20 of which was covered by the surprise birthday money I found sorting through a pile of papers. The $40 was allocated to my misc. shopping budget for the month, so I'm still not overspending quite yet.

Picked up a pair of warm sweatpants. As the temperatures have dropped all week, I realized I only really have thin leggings, and that's not going to cut it. I work from home all day most days, and I don't want the heating bill to be through the roof. I also picked up a sweater for $5 (not bad at H&M!) and a fleece lined sweatshirt. Again, for warmth and comfort in the coming months Smile

Yesterday I went to the market and purchased a few food items. And then some beer to take to a friend's, as he cooked.

Today will be a genuine no-spend. Work, work, work at home. Then BF and I are making dinner tonight. It's been a while since we've had dinner at a restaurant. We've been really good about cooking and/or coordinating cooking with friends. Which has been awesome.

Even though the other day wasn't a *true* no-spend, I'm not too worried about putting more money toward debt. haha. Today I'll add another $5 to that. Progress!

Small Wins.

November 11th, 2014 at 05:43 am

Yesterday started with a couple of early wins. I began the day by sorting through a huge pile of papers that were in need of filing or action. In the mix I found a birthday card from BF's mom (my birthday was back in May) that had $20 in it. It pays to get organized!

I also found a check from a client that was signed by me, but did not have the usual "For PNC Mobile Deposit Only" written on the back. So I'm thinking I never actually deposited it. I looked online at my activity, and it seems that I didn't. So I need to let my client know I'm going to deposit it now and then get it in my account. That's $250 I didn't realize wasn't actually in the bank. Oops!

Also called the cable company on the way down to lunch. Turns out we had a 6-month long special that ended. After canceling the actual cable and just keeping the internet, my bill is back down to where it was. We don't really ever watch the cable portion - our TV has an antenna that allows us to catch Jeopardy, and my weekly New Girl/Mindy Project fix.

***

Yesterday bought gas and lunch for Brother and myself. Lunch was about as good as can be expected. I'm happy I went, but needing a really productive day today to make up for being out of commission for about 5 hours yesterday (it's over an hour drive to get down there).

***

Today I've got a system going. At the top of the hour I'm writing for 15 minutes, then for the next 45 minutes I'm editing photos. Hoping to get caught up on my NaNoWriMo novel and put a decent dent in my editing queue. So there will be much coffee!

I find that giving myself structured, short term spurts to do things actually motivates me to get them done rather than sitting in front of the computer for hours. My goal for the day is to write 4,000 words and finish up a wedding set (roughly 50 photos left to do). Wish me luck!

***

Tonight BF and I are going over to a friend's for dinner and board games. So it should be a no-spend day.

I think I'm going to start doing a sort of $20 challenge again - putting in tiny bits of money into one of my goals. Every No-Spend will be $5, and every time I don't give into the urge to get a coffee out at a coffee house, I'll just direct that money (usually another $5) to a goal as well. That way I can tangibly see that decision playing out. Along with savings in my budget I wasn't expecting.

So today I'm going to take the $45 I saved on health insurance (and by saved, I mean my insurance cut out after the 5th, so they only charged me for a portion of the month), then the $5 I saved not getting coffee the other day, and $5 for today's no-spend to my CC. That brings my balance down to $1,452.91.

Small wins.

Lunch with Brother

November 10th, 2014 at 05:11 am

As predicted, yesterday was a no-spend. Woop woop! It was also one of the more productive days I've had in a while. Did the dishes, got our laundry done, emails answered, a blog post written, and got 2 client galleries up and sent out. You would be surprised at how much of a photographer's time is just administrative work and downloading/sorting/resizing/uploading files.

I'm still pretty far behind, but at least I was able to catch up a little.

Had dinner at our friends' house, so that was really nice. I love it when I don't even have to cook! Tonight I'll be making a pork loin I bought at the market with some mashed potatoes, and those same friends will be over at our place for dinner instead.

Yesterday I also took a look at my cable bill - and for some reason, they decided to double the speed of our internet and tack on another $20. So I'll be on the phone with them today getting that changed, and getting rid of our cable package (we really just got it to watch the World Cup coverage over the summer).

***

Today, I'm driving about an hour south to go see my brother for the first time in probably 4 or 5 years. I wish I could say I'm looking forward to it. But the relationship I have with my family (and frankly, all of the relationships between all members) is quirky at best, and something I struggle with. Brother has paranoid schizophrenia, and has been in and out of jail for several years now. According to mom, he's been on his meds (which is fantastic) - but even so, I can't say we share a lot in common. Spending time with him usually results in some combination of awkwardness and guilt for not reaching out to him enough. Honestly, though, it's one of those situations where there are no winners. And I have so much going on in my life that I don't have the time or energy to devote to an illness that requires a lot of time and patience.

Even typing that, I feel like I'm a cold and distant person. But I've watched family members hold back others that really had a lot of potential. They say that in adulthood you have the opportunity to (and should) surround yourself with people that inspire and motivate you to be a better person. I'm in a very different place than much of my family. I don't think I'm better than them in any way. They are all unique, caring people - but I can't handle the drama, the immaturity, or the various drug and/or psychological problems. So I choose to spend time with them in small bits, and sparingly.

That being said, I'm happy that my brother took the initiative to reach out, and that he wants to pursue a relationship. I'll be there for him in the small capacity I can be. And I do sincerely hope that our lunch date is enjoyable and helps him feel grounded and supported. I'm looking forward to seeing him, but walking into it curious of how it will go, and how much our conversation will be rooted in reality. It's a weird, messy bunch of emotions. But I'm sure we'll both come out of it better people.

***

So beyond the lengthy explanation, I'll be spending today on lunch with Brother and probably gas. I think I might swing by the library this morning and grab an audiobook for the drive. Gotta love the library!

At any rate, sorry for the rambling. And have an awesome day!

Not so Lazy Sunday

November 9th, 2014 at 05:54 am

The weekend started out pretty well. My mom and her BF came to visit, and I made dinner. Which was nice. Yesterday morning was pretty low-key. I cooked breakfast for myself and the boy. Then we got ready and drove an hour and a half. I had a shoot with friends out in the area where BF's family lives. So I did my shoot, then we hung out and had dinner with his family.

Lots of family this weekend. ha.

Made $135 yesterday on that shoot, which was short- and will be quite simple in the editing stages.

Looked at Mint this morning, and everything seems to be moving along well. I'm only over budget on one item - alcohol & bars. In my defense, I only budgeted $20 for that category. Going out 3 times put me at about $45.

Thankfully, decided not to go out last night after getting home. I actually ended up laying in my bed reading Game of Thrones, then crashed pretty quickly. Though friends of ours did end up coming over eventually, it was all boys. So I let BF hang out with his friends while I caught up on some sleep.

Today is going to be a busy day. I have some cleaning to do, about 10k words of a novel to write, and I wouldn't mind getting some work done as well. It's going to be an all-day work fest for the BF as well, so we'll just hang out around home. I have food to cook tonight, so it should be a no-spend day. Which is good.

So I should probably get to that productive day! I hope you are all doing well and moving along with your goals!

Thursday Update

November 6th, 2014 at 05:22 am

Moved some money around this morning, after deposits have cleared.

- Put $500 into the savings account for taxes.
- Moved $219 to my Ally account for vacation.

Went grocery shopping yesterday and spent about what I would regularly. Bought enough food to cook 4 meals, including what I'll be making for my mom and her boyfriend tomorrow when they come over.

Opted out of getting lunch and dinner out yesterday. So I'm feeling pretty good about that. We've been cooking a lot - have a standing night with friends of ours, so we alternate who cooks. Tonight we'll be getting together with that same couple at their place (football game).

The rest of the month I really need to keep from spending much. I have a big check coming at the end of the month, but not until the 29th... so I need to make sure I have enough in my account to pay student loan bills and such at the beginning of December. Unless I do some more booking. Which hopefully is the case! But in terms of income I can 100% count on (payments I'm hunting down), I'm in a tight place until next month.

Today will be pretty low-key. Delivering some photo books to a client (which will be really nice. I love seeing my clients!). Aside from that, it's just home work work working. Trying to get things accomplished, and then tonight heading over to our friends' for the game (well, I'm really just going for the food. ha).

Hope you all have a stellar day!

October Recap and November Goals

November 3rd, 2014 at 08:00 am

How in the world is it November already? I know I said that in my last post, but really...

Spent the morning catching up on work, paying bills, and getting organized for the month. I use Mint (which is a brilliant piece of software) to look everything over and make sure all of my business expenses are put into my handy dandy spreadsheet.

It was a good month for income. I actually made a thousand more than I anticipated. And I stayed almost within my budget. A few things popped up - registered for the bridal show I've done twice now. It's not until January, but I wanted to get the email out of my inbox so... I figured why not register now when I can deduct it from 2014 taxes. haha.

I did a little more non-planned spending than I would like. Trips to IKEA and the like add up. As does the gas!

I actually did a lot of traveling this past month - a trip to Pittsburgh to hit IKEA, a trip down to DC and Virginia beach (work AND play), as well as a trip down to Columbus (mostly work). It's nice that I have clients all around, and an excuse to travel (and write off some of my expenses).

I had an engagement shoot in the DC area, and it was a great time. Gorgeous location to do a shoot, and we had such beautiful weather. The BF and I went down a day early to do some sightseeing and hang out with friends of mine. All of the museums are free, so we did quite a bit for very little money. Then the shoot was the next day at the monuments. BF went and explored while I worked.

After DC, we drove to VA Beach to stay with friends. Again, pretty cheap entertainment!

***

This month will be a bit more low-key. Partially because I'm not expecting quite as much income. Things are winding down for me as wedding season is coming to a close. I have 2 more weddings, and then just a handful of portrait shoots (xmas cards and the like) until January. So unless I do some hardcore booking this month or next (unlikely), I'm going to be a bit tight on cash. I have some money in the savings account, but in reality it's for taxes. So I'd rather not dip into it. Still, nice to know I have a little buffer.

***

My goals are coming along slowly, but surely. I may not be able to pay off the CC totals by the end of the month, but I'll put a dent in them. Just waiting for money to move around, and a few more checks to come in. Did put an extra payment on the student loan today, so I've got that, I guess. I'll have more updates here in a week or so.

My real November goal: Stay within my budget. Entirely. I did tweak the figures so they are a bit more realistic. But I need to start putting my foot down on the spending.

***

I did get my phone situation worked out - decided to stay with Verizon. Got my new iPhone 5s. I LOVE the camera on it compared to the 4. Almost feels like I'm using my Canon. haha. Okay, maybe not... but it's fantastic. And my new bill dropped from $85 to $60/month. So I'm pretty pumped about that.

***

So here is the end of my long-winded update. I hope everyone else had a successful October, and I hope you all have an even more successful November!