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Jan 5

January 5th, 2017 at 04:49 pm

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!

April 22

April 22nd, 2016 at 03:57 pm

Got my invoice from the accountant - $650. That's $300 for filing our taxes, $100 for paying sales tax for my business throughout the year, and another $250 for my Quickbooks and consultations throughout the year (I met with them 3 times). All in all, I would say it was money well-spent. Not the cheapest, I'm sure - but at least it's also an expense I can write off. And I know it's getting done right.

Now that all that is done and the checks are all written, I have an accurate view of what's going on. Today I'll be going to the bank to close my personal checking account (moving the last little bit of money to our joint account). Then going to the other bank to deposit that money + some cash that I've been meaning to put in... namely, xmas $ (it's just been sitting in a drawer) and the $ I collected from friends to put towards DH's bday party, a total $423 deposit.

Also slipping the check in the mail for my accountant and making our local tax payment. We have returns coming to the tune of $609 total.

Deposited a couple of payments from clients today and moved 35% of each amount to the savings account where I hold tax payments for 2016.

***

Now that I have an accurate view of where we are at, it's time to have that conversation with DH about our goals. When we first sat down to take a look at the budget, we made some rough savings goals: vacation, kids, kids education, emergency fund, retirement, house. We even put general numbers to them, but I'd like to be a little more organized and intentional about actually doing that. I'd like to open a joint savings account so we can see the progress there rather than just having a number raising in the checking (which is how DH tends to do things, but doesn't really work for me).

Lately, money has been a rough subject to talk about, so I want to explore some different ways to approach the discussion. I've got some ideas up my sleeve, and I'm excited to give them a go.

***

Scheduled a shoot for the weekend, which was unexpected but nice. Have a couple of sessions to finish editing and wrap up. Still job hunting, and am starting to get really excited about the possibilities Smile

***

Dietbet is going well - did great with my eating yesterday, though I was way hungrier than usual. Went on a 3.5 mile run Wednesday night and that drained me. Didn't workout yesterday as a result. We were both pretty exhausted. Today will definitely be working out, and so far my eating has been great.

Breakfast: Oatmeal with flax, berries, and peanut butter
Lunch: Veggie burger with leftover ratatouille, avocado
Dinner: Roasted Carrot Salad
Snacks: (none yet! that oatmeal was filling) Almonds, string cheese

No plans tonight other than working out. Think DH wants to do some Kenpo after work. We'll see after that! Tomorrow I have a double feature movie date with my SIL. We'll also be grabbing dinner while we're out, but I'm going to do my best to keep it inexpensive and healthy. No movie popcorn Frown

Sunday I've got that shoot at noon and an empty slate otherwise. Weather should be nice, so I'm hoping to get outside!

Hope you all enjoy your weekend!

The joys of being a business owner

April 7th, 2016 at 02:49 pm

I absolutely love running my own business, but of course there are some hiccups. Today I'm feeling one of them. I had an acquaintance I used to work with contact me about taking headshots for her office, which was great! Until I sent an estimate and she realized I charge a bit more than she expected. There's nothing wrong with that, of course - I'm not in everyone's price range. That being said, my rates are far from astronomical, and the group rate that I offered originally is more than reasonable.

She asked for a discount because they are a small business, and I reluctantly agreed to it - mostly because she referred me to another client that has generated quite a bit of income for me, and I wanted to make sure that relationship stays strong. She owns a PR firm with a handful of employees, and the job seemed straightforward. But then she seemed to pile additional expectations on and has been the highest maintenance client I've ever had...

Needless to say, I of course am appreciative of the income, but I'm really regretting taking the job because it's going to be far more work than it's worth. I've been trying to reign in her expectations as nicely as I can, but I just want to ask her how she would feel if someone approached her to do work, immediately asked her for a discount, and then piled on additional work outside of the purview of the original scope of the project. It feels really disrespectful and insulting to me, particularly because I'm also a small business owner. A much smaller business at that.

Sigh. Rant over now.

In positive news, though, another client (a member of my BNI chapter) posted the photos from his shoot last week (that he paid full price for) and got a lot of attention on his social media channels - to the point where a few people even asked him for my contact information Smile It's nice to feel like my work is valued and appreciated.

***

In other interesting news, I applied for a part time job in Nashville. I know we're still a few of months out from the move, but some places take a while to hire and I figured there was nothing to lose. May as well start poking around and seeing what's out there. I'm feeling good about changing things up in my professional world, and part-time will still give me the space to get out and grow my business in that market as well.

***

Re: the budget, things are looking fairly okay... This week we've been doing fabulously with cooking every night. Last week pretty much entirely killed our restaurant and bar budgets for the entire month. DH went out for the home opening game and it would seem went a bit crazy. lol. My student loan payments went up this month - one fell out of forebearance, and another is finally caught up with payments I made ahead, so it's kicking in monthly again.

I did break down and buy a couple of pieces of clothing the other day, too. That still keeps me well within budget - they were preowned, and one was fairly planned anyway. I've been looking out for a dressier tank top for months. The dress I bought was a great deal and difficult to pass up. But again, well within budget. So I can't beat myself up *too* badly.

Other than that, all things are normal. Made my car payment today. Went to Aldi to get a couple of things I had forgotten the other day (k-cups, olive oil, toilet paper).

Tonight I'm cooking white chicken chili and bringing some over to our friends that just had their baby. We'll probably spend a little time hanging out over there. This weekend is going to be action-packed, it being DH's birthday. All of his gifts are purchased for the most part, save a few photo frames for the posters I had printed. I'm also going to make a cake to bring to the party. I do need to collect money from the other guests to pay for the remaining costs of the party, and should get on that soon...

That's about it for now. Hope you're all having a lovely day!

Getting Ready for our Trip

February 17th, 2016 at 05:02 pm

So we finally booked our flights to NYC, which were necessary to get us to Peru (our Groupon deal flew out of NY). And we booked our hotel room for the additional 3 nights we'll be staying in the city at the tail end of our trip.

Our honeymoon is going to be quite amazing, but we're definitely racking it up. So far:

$3,998 - Groupon Deal to Peru (including flights + hotel)
$280 - Optional Tours that we added
$528 - Our flights to NYC
$746 - Hotel stay for 3 nights in NYC
$216 - Hiking shoes for both of us, daypack, mosquito repellant, rain jacket (used $125 Amazon GC for part of this)

Total: $5,768

That's for two people, 11 nights, international and domestic flights, and an amazing experience. All things considered, I think we did pretty well - and our honeymoon donations (wedding gifts) cover above and beyond that. Also, we're getting quite a bit of swagbucks out of it - the $125 in GCs I mentioned happened because we went through Swagbucks to purchase the Groupon deal. When DH and I went to Micronesia back in 2010 to visit his sister, we spent about $4k in flight tickets alone.

We will obviously do a bit more spending once we're on the trip. Thankfully, it seems all transportation has been arranged to/from the airport and any tours included in our itinerary. Breakfast is provided the whole time we're in Peru, as well as a few other meals. We'll want to pick up some souvenirs.

In NYC we'll obviously be on our own. We have a handful of tourist stops we want to make - though several of them will be free: Statue of Liberty (just see it, not go up in it), the Highline, Times Square, etc. I've already done the Empire State Building, so we're opting out of that. I'm sure we'll do one nice dinner while we're there, and we also want to catch the NY Red Bulls match going on that weekend (DH is crazy about soccer, and we've tried to attend a match almost every trip we've taken. haha).

I think we've purchased most everything we want/need for the trip. We may both grab one other outfit for hiking, but we'll see. I'm just making sure everything we're purchasing can/will actually be used after the trip. I also need to get a feel for how NYC's weather is going to be at the time. It's hard to tell right now.

All I know is that I'm absolutely pumped for it to be here!! We drug our feet quite a bit planning the honeymoon, but now that everything is booked it's not so stressful... just something really exciting to look forward to!

***

In other news, because we just dropped so much money, we're definitely looking to spend a bit less. I'm heading to Aldi today to do a bit of grocery shopping - made my stop at Target last night to get a few other things they don't offer. A friend wanted to go out to dinner tonight, but I convinced her to come over for dinner instead, so that was a good financial choice.

Spent some time in Quickbooks today documenting payments and depositing checks. Had a shoot last night that went really well, so that was great. I've also been doing a lot of soul searching these past few weeks re: my business, and I'm starting to feel really good about turning it around, rather than giving up on it (which was where it was headed not too long ago). It's just not been terribly fulfilling for me lately. A really heavy wedding season burnt me out entirely, and to be honest... I don't love shooting them to begin with. There's a reason we charge the big bucks for them. Weddings are an exhausting line of work, and it's not for everyone. I think I'm one of those people. I can do it well, but it pretty much sucks the life out of me. So if I have to get a part time job to boost my income while I focus my business on portraiture and actually be happy with it, that's something I'm more than happy to do. Then, maybe, I'll get to a point where I CAN support the family on my photography. Who knows.

So that's that. All of my updates, for the most part. I hope you all are having a great week!

Feb 10

February 10th, 2016 at 01:34 pm

It's been 5 days since my last update. Whew! Thankfully, my absence was not accompanied by a ridiculous spending binge (5 days may not seem like a lot, but you would be surprised at how much I gain from this platform in accountability!).

Not sure I have much exciting news to report. Replaced my elliptical for $82 - it arrived yesterday, and I'm thoroughly looking forward to breaking it in today Smile Since my Dietbets ended, I've slipped up on my workouts/eating well. I'm telling you, with me it's all about accountability. ha.

Still waiting for my Swagbucks giftcards to hit so I can make my purchases for the trip. Today I'll be heading out to return the swimsuit I bought (and hopefully find a replacement), as well as taking a look at a couple of stores to find a couple of warm weather articles.

Also hitting Trader Joe's and Aldi for a few items. The last couple of days we've been working through leftovers from our superbowl get together, and had dinner at a friend's last night.

We did get some groceries Sunday in preparation for said party, and made a trip to Walgreens for a couple of things DH needed. I armed myself with a couple coupons - I had been meaning to stop there to pick up a few things as well. DH was impressed with my couponing. Saved an additional $7 on items that were already on sale. And I stocked up on a few of my essentials: Dove soap, our St. Ives face wash (that DH loves an insists on), as well as dry shampoo for me.

I kept our meals light this week, so I only had to purchase a few items at the store:

- BBQ Chicken w/ mac & cheese (chicken I bought last week and the mac is leftover from Sunday)
- Hot Dogs (also leftover)
- Thai Chicken Soup
- Poached Eggs w/ asparagus, toast & bacon
- Meatloaf w/ mashed sweet potatoes

Only need some veggies for the soup, and the meatloaf will be our "fancy" dinner for V-day. Can't say it's really that fancy... but nothing says romance like loaves of meat. haha. We wont be exchanging gifts. I'll prob make him a silly card like I always do, but beyond that we'll just spend some quality time, probably watching movies or something.

I'm going to bake bread, probably tomorrow or Friday - for the toast. DH was insistent on bacon this week. I've been trying not to buy it because it's expensive and not good for us (albeit delicious). But he'll probably make breakfast this weekend, and it's a holiday. Guess bacon says romance, too...

Tonight I'm meeting another member of my BNI group for happy hour. Drinks are $3, so I'm not expecting to spend more than $8 all together, with tip. So definitely not a no-spend day, but all planned spending.

In terms of goals, I'm not doing terribly great. My writing challenge has been kept up with, but I still need to get on updating my quickbooks so I can get all that info to my accountant and get our taxes in order. And then open and close all the accounts I need to have everything in order. Talking to my friend at Huntington about opening a business savings - that way I can transfer a percentage for taxes and not end up like I am now, scrambling to save up for them. Still need to close my old checking and savings accounts and deposit that money in my business account for that tax payment.

And, of course, I need to get back on track with my weight loss goal. Or at least just back on track with my workouts.

So that's that. I hope you are all having a lovely week!

Happy New Year!

January 2nd, 2016 at 05:35 pm

Our NYE party was a hit - only about 10 people all together, but I still made a nice spread: hot sandwich roll, honey glazed smokies, and caprese skewers. As well as some hummus, salsa, chips, etc. DH handled the bartending for the night. We had made up homemade sour mix the day before and if how I felt yesterday was any indication of how much I enjoyed them, well...

Thankfully, we do have quite a bit of food left. A lot of lunchmeat and some ciabatta rolls, so we'll do sandwiches a couple of times this week. Tons of leftover drink fixins as well, but I think I'm going to take a break there. haha. I've been sick for the last week or so. Drinking as much as I did NYE was probably a mistake, but it's a holiday... Now I'm focused on getting better ASAP. It's starting to get rather miserable.

I don't have much to report on the financial front. Yesterday was a NSD. Today will be much of the same. I do need to go through and pay bills, but I decided that January will be a no-spend month. At least outside of the essentials. So far so good! Yesterday DH and I literally laid around all day, hungover. We watched a couple movies - Interstellar and the Lego Movie. Both were incredibly good. Then the rest of the day I finished the book I was working on, "The Good Earth" by Pearl S. Buck. Another good find. Not terribly exciting in the plot department, but a nice calming read that speaks to how peoples' attitudes change as they encounter abundance. Interesting stuff.

After finishing, I made myself some tea and started another in bed. Decided to tackle "Walden." It's one I've never read, but you hear a lot about. And I think it's perfectly tied into my theme of Making Space. I opted out of sitting on social media for hours this morning and got a good chunk of pages this morning read as well Smile

***

I sat down and thought through some of my goals for the year, and usually I write out a list of 10-20 things I want to accomplish. And usually they sit in that list all year without much accomplishment. I decided to do things differently this time around. I'm going to set basic monthly goals, but other than that I'll just stick to making good daily decisions (a la "Making Space") and record my accomplishments as I meet them. I'd rather celebrate the things I'm proud of than be perpetually reminded of the things that have no longer become priorities.

Not to say that I don't still have goals Smile It's just hard to tell at the beginning of the year if something like NaNoWriMo will still be a priority in November. Things change, and I like to stay flexible. So instead, I'll tuck things like that away in my mind, and re-evaluate when the time comes.

For January, my goals are:

- No spend month, outside of essentials (no clothes, home items, beauty products, entertainment, etc)
- Cut grocery budget to under $200
- Win Dietbets (lose 6.7 lbs by Jan 25)
- Finish 28 Days with Sue Bryce Program (I purchased this last year and never went through it)
- Go through pricing course with photog friend

As for overarching financial/budget goals with DH, I've decided to not even have that conversation. haha. We went over our basic goals when we had the original (stressful) conversation, so until we really know what this is going to look like, I'm holding off. Instead, my goals will be to get things actually set up! In January, I would like to:

- Set up Mint for Joint Account
- Switch DH's direct deposit to Joint Account
- Switch all autopay bills to Joint Account
- Figure out account structure and open/close necessary accounts (personal and business)
- Enter all of my backlogged income and expenses into Quickbooks so I have an accurate look at what I'll owe in taxes

So I will add these January Goals to my sidebar, and hopefully we'll see some progress!

Wishing you all a lovely New Year!

Christmas Shopping Progress

December 8th, 2015 at 02:16 pm

Things are moving along - yesterday was a bit spendy. $6 for lunch at Panera (I had to meet with my second shooter to pay her and get her files). $200 for her payment (which is honestly too little, but unfortunately I can't afford to pay her more, and she seems to be okay with it).

Talked with DH and got a couple of ideas for the last of his gifts - which I ordered last night. So he is completely done. There wont be a whole lot of surprise, except for the one gift. He asked for a Brown's t-shirt, and rather than purchasing one, I designed a custom shirt for him and had it printed. I'm hoping he loves it. The couple of his friends I got opinions from said they thought it was great.

I freaked out a bit the other day talking to a friend. I usually get him and the other person in our "trifecta" a gift for the holiday - but the last couple of years neither of them have given me anything, so I felt comfortable forgoing it this year. Of course, he made mention that he had a few more things he needed to get together for our gifts so.... apparently we are exchanging. lol. But I figured out a no-cost solution.

We have SO much alcohol left over from the wedding. A bottle of gin each and a fun print (that I can create at home) in a frame (of which we have several from the wedding) and I'm going to call it a day. Also gets some more liquor out of our house. Not that we don't like it, but it'll take us years to get through it all, and I don't want to move it all out of state in April.

All of the rest of the gifts I'm doing are for the most part DIY or something I'm designing, so I need to get that stuff taken care of. It's coming up quick.

But at least we're making progress!

***

In other news, I booked the yearly Republican dinner again (this Friday), so I have another shoot this month. I'm not a republican (I'm independent), but it's always so interesting to meet and hear what their speakers have to say. Last year, it was Ben Carson (at the time I had no idea I would see him all over the news). This year, it'll be Karl Rove. It's always such a funny, "How did I end up here?" moment when I'm walking around. But always so fascinating.

Hope you all have a wonderful Tuesday!

BNI Presentation

November 5th, 2015 at 03:28 pm

Last night I stayed up getting prepared for my 10-minute BNI presentation, which was this morning. I talked about my business and brought in a bunch of samples. I had really hoped to have new samples printed by it, but I used my Canon home printer to at least get some more recent shots included. I'll replace them with quality printed shots soon - as well as the new photo books.

Always something else to do! Thankfully, I noticed that the site I generally use to print books has this incredible deal on samples. So that should save me some money in the long run.

But the presentation went really well. Everyone in my group responded well to it, and one member handed me a referral right then and there to have his family photos taken Smile Definitely a good sign.

I started chatting with another member right after the meeting, who complimented my work and talked about the photographer he's used in the past. He said her prices were double mine, and my work was just as good as hers. Comments like that are always so discouraging and encouraging at the same time. haha. I do plan on revamping my pricing and process come this winter, when I have time to really sort through it logically. It's just terrifying at the same time. You always fear people wont be willing to pay your prices. In the end, though, they have Smile

***

Went to Target yesterday. Had to pick up some items I can't get at Aldi - bathroom cleaner, cat litter and litter deodorizer. Grabbed some other grocery items while I was at it. Including my favorite hot chocolate

Friday

October 9th, 2015 at 05:34 pm

I can't believe the week is almost over! Time is certainly flying right now. Today I substituted at another BNI meeting - the group was pretty good, and there was an interior designer that seemed interested in doing some photos in the spring. So it was certainly a trip worth making (even if I had to drive 45 min away to get there at 7:30am). After that meeting, I headed to a local coffee shop to do a one-on-one meeting with one of the members of my BNI group. Spent about $10 on coffee and breakfast, but at least they can be written off.

Also grabbed gas this morning, and spent $12 on a kindle book last night. I would have gotten it from the library - but it's brand new, and it's Mindy Kaling's new book. I will reread it religiously because I practically worship her.

So I'm still under budget as of today. Things are going well.

Tonight we're going to a comedy thing at the Hofbrau House around here. Friends won free tickets, so we'll be getting in for free. I haven't talked to DH about dinner, so we might end up eating there. Or just having a couple of drinks and eating at home. We'll see.

The rest of the weekend should be a good time, and relatively cheap. We're planning to carve pumpkins, go on a hike, and hang out with friends. I think one of the days we might hit brunch at a restaurant near our house. Sunday night I'm making my perogies and having friends over for dinner. Should be a good time.

I also need to get some work done tomorrow, so I think I'm going to wake up and get an early start.

Now, back to work! TGIF!!

Moving Money Around

October 6th, 2015 at 01:28 pm

So things are going well this week - we actually cooked all of the meals we intended to over the last week, finishing up last night with delicious omelettes and bacon. Tomorrow I go grocery shopping, so I'll be making my list tonight.

I hopped on Mint and checked my budget for the month. So far so good. Last week I *did* buy a shirt while I was at Target getting the rest of my groceries after Aldi... but that's not going to happen again this month. Frivolous spending ban.

I moved some money from my business to personal account, and then sent a $1,000 payment to DH for last year's taxes. I'm way behind on paying him back. A couple of people seemed surprised when they found out I was still planning to pay him back even after we're married now. But yes. I hold up my end of the bargain. That's money he can keep in his personal account and do with it what he likes. He'll end up indirectly spending it on me when I'm super broke this winter, anyway Wink haha. But really, let's hope not.

Tonight, DH is at a work dinner, and I'll be eating random stuff from the cupboards - or a lean cuisine, which sounds delightful. It's always kind of nice when he's away for dinner. It makes me feel like I'm a weird, single girl living on my own again (aka, I don't have to cook).

***

I'm in the process of planning a trip down to Nashville later this month - I need to start doing some serious networking. I've got one event I'm hitting, and then 2 BNI meetings. I'm already in a chapter here in Ohio, but I think it'll be a great way to start meeting people once I'm down there. My goal is to schedule one shoot while I'm in the area as well - I've reached out to a musical group who was looking for a photographer on Craigslist, so hopefully that will work out. I'll also be scheduling meetings with wedding vendors, so I'm going to make as much out of the few days I have.

I haven't figured out where I'm staying yet, but it's looking like it will probably be AirBnB, to keep costs down. Thankfully, all of the expenses will at least be write-offs, and I'll get quite a bit of mileage. I just need to get the prep done. I need to print new business cards, samples, and probably some kind of flyer or promotional piece. I'll be trying to keep my expenses down for all of that as much as I can, but they're important - so I'm going to bite the bullet.

All in all, though, I'm excited to get down there and start making connections. Moving my business to a whole new city where I know absolutely nobody is a bit intimidating, but I love a challenge. And hopefully I'll schedule a couple of shoots down there in the winter. I need to start getting Nashville imagery on my site, and hopefully some musical artists - that's such a big market for me to break into. I'm thinking I might just go to an open mic night or something and try and connect with people there as well. Who knows! I might even bring my guitar and join in also Wink

At any rate, I hope you are all having a lovely Tuesday!

Back (Again)

October 5th, 2015 at 09:10 pm

Here we are again... another one of those times that I disappear from this site for months and come back in desperate need of getting my s#!t together...

So a lot has happened since May. I turned 29 (woo!). Wedding season began, and with it my busiest time of year. Also, I got married just last month (double woo!). And now finally things are calming down. Well, now I'm playing catchup following all of that craziness... but soon! Soon things will be very calm. And now they are calm enough now for me to look around and freak out a bit. Because things are a bit rough, at least financially.

In the midst of the wedding craziness, I was spending much more than I should - on the wedding itself, and then on restaurant meals (because we hardly cooked from August through September), and also on two different trips I took over the summer. One, granted, was for work - so I have some write-offs there at least... but still. Not cheap.

But mostly I'm freaking out a little because things ARE going to be calm here soon, and while that's great for my sanity... it's not as great for my bank account. And I have bills (and taxes!) to pay.

I've started looking things over, getting a feel for where I'm actually at right now, what I need to make up, and brainstorming ways to get more bookings through the winter so I'm not set up for failure. I've also put myself on a very serious spending ban.

And that's just to get me up to speed. Soon, we'll get our marriage license back, open a joint account, and start figuring out what our finances are going to look like as a married couple. Which we talked about prior to actually getting married - we just have to actually put it all into practice and hammer out the details.

And on top of that, we're moving out of state in just 7 short months. And there's a lot of prep that needs to go into that so... things will remain quite interesting!

Given all of these details, I really need to make my budget a priority. And getting on SA regularly to record my updates is a great way of doing that. I just have to hold myself accountable. So here I am. Ready to get this party started!

May is here already!

May 6th, 2015 at 12:50 pm

I seriously can't believe how quickly this year is going by. But I'm happy to be done with April - a busy and rather crazy month gone by. But then again, my busy season for work is starting...

Can't a girl get a break? Wink

These last couple of weeks have been particularly crazy. Several shoots, two weddings, and I assisted a friend with school portraits for two days. Things are still in overdrive, but this weekend I'll have a bit of time to decompress. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to it!

***

In good news, I'm starting to hear from my lenders about my military school loan repayment. Nothing has posted quite yet, but this is the first time the process has come this far, so it's rather exciting. Also, my one lender put my loans in forebearance as a courtesy - which is great, because I can use that money to put toward my higher interest loans.

***

Wedding planning has pretty much been at a standstill for the last 2 months, but we really need to get that on track. We're 4 months and 12 days away (according to my countdown app) and still need to take care of some big things, including:

- Collecting addresses
- Sending out save the dates
- Designing and printing invites
- Finding officiant
- Finding DJ
- Locking down a block of hotel rooms

There are several other things to be done as well, these are just our more immediate concerns. We've been really relaxed through this process, but I know I'm going to get more stressed the closer the time gets, and I should be getting as much done before I'm knee deep in everyone else's weddings.

***

My last bit of news is about A's work situation. He's been rather miserable at his current job, and had let his boss know that he's looking and planned to be elsewhere by June. He's been speaking with his previous boss about heading back to his old job. They wanted a 2 year commitment from him, and discussed the possibility of him working remotely the second year, as we're planning to move.

Yesterday he told me that not only had they formally offered the position to him, but he'll be paid the same (we were expecting a drop in his salary). His current employer is also working on getting someone in right away, so he might be making the change even earlier than expected - which would make him incredibly happy. It's been heartbreaking seeing him so stressed out for so long. He works hard, is a bright guy, and deserves to not loathe going in to the office.

So his situation is about to get better, and that also means that we're in a good place for moving. We don't have to worry about him finding a job once we get there. Things are going to be much more secure. I know that taking his old job wasn't his preferred choice, but he's going to be happy and that gives him a couple of years to figure out what he wants to do next. He knows he's on his way out of the financial industry, but he has no clue where he'd like to be. We've talked about all sorts of different options, but he couldn't pin down even a possibility. I think having the time and the security to check other things out will be great for him. And this new/old position will allow him to do just that.

Now I just have to focus on transitioning my business to that area - something I'll start doing once we're 100% certain that Nashville will be our city.

Exciting stuff!!

The next year is going to be full of so many changes. I can't wait to see what it will all bring Smile

Everyone have a great day!

Well, that was rough.

April 4th, 2015 at 01:31 pm

I have this bad habit - one I'm sure I share with many people in this country and around the world, but a bad one nonetheless. If you ignore something, it isn't real. You don't have to deal with it. If something is ailing my body, I don't go to the doctor. A diagnosis acknowledges its existence. Kind of like once you name that stray dog you took in, you know that dog is yours forever.

This time, it was taxes. It's April, and the deadline is quickly approaching. I hadn't actually started filing until this past week. I knew it was going to be bad, but I didn't have to acknowledge just how bad until I actually saw a number. So I lived my merry, blissful life spending what I wanted ignorant of the actual damage.

Now that I've seen the number, it's a pretty big blow, and the comfort of that ignorance is pretty much shattered. More so because I underestimated what I would owe by about $2,000. And my savings have dwindled in the last few months while business has been painfully, painfully slow. This is my first year living solely on my business income (without a rather large contracted, part-time job to cover me in the winter months). I didn't realize just how much I was going to need to save prior to the winter to really get me through. Or what my tax burden really is.

Make no mistake, this was all my responsibility and poor planning. But in some ways, this was a good learning experience for me.

All I can say is that I'm thankful I have a fiance that is able and willing to lend me the money until business picks up. Because if I didn't, I'm not sure what I would do. I really am so very lucky. I feel terrible regardless asking him to front me $4,500 - but I'm confident I'll be able to pay him back in the next few months, so it will all be fine.

I just need to start paying estimated taxes during the course of the year and saving for next winter. Really, I should have been paying estimated taxes all of 2014 - but in honesty, never really learned how to go about doing that (I'm sure it's not difficult). I do for my local taxes, but not federal.

I think the biggest learning experience is understanding just how much of my income I'm going to be able to realistically use. I need to do a better job of budgeting my income in an after-taxes capacity.

Again, these are all things that I should have been doing this year. But nothing I can do about it now but move forward a smarter, more responsible person. And next year not be silly and ignore the problem until it solidifies into a tangible emergency. I've really let things go in the financial department, and it's time to start picking up the pieces.

Sheesh. Being a grown up is hard.

***

In other (better) news, we took our trip to Nashville last week to scope out neighborhoods and get a feel for whether we'd like to move there. I'm happy to say we loved it, and it showed the positive side of things feeling more "real" by actually naming and experiencing them.

We're both definitely ready for a change, and it seems like it's got a lot to offer at a rather affordable cost of living (at least compared to some of the other cities we were considering). It's got a great night life, a few neighborhoods that we really enjoyed, full of creative people doing what they love. And, of course, the (much) warmer weather is a huge plus. So as of right now, I'm 98% certain we'll be moving there next May when our lease expires.

So yay for that!

***

And an update re: work - things are starting to pick up, and it feels good to be busy again (and, of course, having a stream of money coming in).

So that's my life right now. Time to get to work!

Last Minute Addition

February 28th, 2015 at 03:11 pm

So I had another booking! Right in under the wire Smile So I can add that $500 deposit to my monthly earnings, getting me just under $2k for the month. Still a far cry from what I was expecting, but I'll certainly take it.

If the woman I met with last night ends up booking, then I've met my 2015 readjusted goal. So that's encouraging. Now I just need to really focus on 2016 and booking portrait sessions. My goal is only 7 for the year, so I feel like that will be entirely doable. Nonetheless, time to start now!

Emailed a client that's had an outstanding invoice since December. ha. They've got me in the queue now - so funds will start rolling in. Just in time to pay all my bills. phew. I can't wait for the payments for my big project to start rolling in. I've still got to repay my savings account for money I pulled out, and really start in on my CCs. They're both pretty much at their limits.

I also need to start the process of filing my taxes. I've been avoiding it mostly because I need that repaid savings money to pay them, and I'm afraid of what the total is going to look like. I haven't been paying them along the course of the year - which I of course should be doing. Instead, I've been adding money to my savings every month, so I have to pay the entirety of my taxes for the year.

That being said, my expenses were pretty substantial, and I get deductions for paying the interest on my student loans. So I'm hoping that they're not as high as I expect them to be. But we'll see. This is really the only time of year I working solely as a business owner/contractor. But I'll get through it, just like I do every year. And make my system a bit more manageable for 2015.

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend!

End of Week Update

February 15th, 2015 at 03:15 pm

I hope you all had a great Valentine's Day - and stayed warm! There was an incredibly crazy snow storm here in Ohio yesterday. Thankfully, we didn't have to leave the house - but I really feel for anyone that had to brave the roads.

Our low-key celebration was enjoyable as ever. It mostly consisted of watching movies and eating a TON of food. The fiance brought me breakfast in bed (

Random Update + 52 Week Challenge

January 15th, 2015 at 05:03 pm

So my post yesterday got cut really short somehow. You guys will have to live without my vivd descriptions of financial news Wink

Yesterday didn't turn out to be super spendy after all. I spent about $12 on lunch, and then another $4 on coffee and a cookie at Panera.

Had dinner at mom's - I thankfully convinced her to cook at home. I know she feels like she has to do something "special" for me when I come over, but she always talks about how little money she has... so when we go out to eat I usually end up paying. And really we don't have to do anything special. I just wanted to spend time with her. So after she talked about splitting checks and rebate cards and such, I started rustling around the cupboards. Neither of us had to spend money then (she was clearly relieved) and I got to eat delicious casserole rather than TGI Fridays. Which is fine and all, but not something I would generally spend money on. Silly mom.

***

Dropped off a couple of payments I had been putting off making until I got a couple of payments from clients. So I'm starting to get up to date on things. This time of year is a bit rough, and I really need to book some weddings here soon.

No word yet from the girls from the bridal show. I emailed them a couple of days ago, and haven't received a single response :/ Still hopeful, but it's certainly a bit discouraging.

Had a meeting last night with a prospective client. Hoping I'll get a response from them. It seemed to go pretty well.

I'm feeling a little anxious about my business right now - it's generally pretty slow for us photographers this time of year, but last January I had two other jobs to keep my mind off my lack of bookings. I'm trying my best to just focus on planning and education - trying new ways to market, etc. I start a photo class next week, and I'm sure that will inspire me.

***

Today I'll be working at home, then going downtown to meet old coworkers for drinks. I'm very excited to see them, and check out the new Hofbrau House that just opened. I'll be thinking back fondly on August, when I was sitting at the original in Munich Smile

***

I started the 52 week challenge yesterday as well - starting with the $20 deposit. I'll be adding my challenge money to my Ally Bank account, which is my travel savings account. I love the game-like feel of the challenge, and I'm always up for anything that motivates me to do more savings!

Added this week: $20
52 Week Challenge Total: $20

***

That's about it, I think. Hope you all have a fantastic day!

Spendy Day Ahead

January 14th, 2015 at 01:18 pm

Most days, I work from home, eat food that I bought at the grocery store, and cook dinner for us. It keeps my food budget pretty low (unless I go crazy at the grocery store, which is often).

But today will be a little different. I'm going downtown to meet a client (she's giving me a check. woo!), and then meeting a friend for lunch at my favorite Japanese noodle spot

Selling Stuff and Recapping the Bridal Show

January 13th, 2015 at 01:06 pm

I recently went through my books to see if there were any I could sell off. We have SO many, and I have a ton from grad school that at one point I rationalized I would read again. ha! It's very clear they are just going to accumulate dust. And because I know we'll be moving again next year, I'm going to start trying to cut back on stuff. I hate moving. So the less stuff, the better. Great for saving money, too!

I found this website called Bookscouter.com - it compares what you would get selling your books to different websites. Pretty nifty! I made $127.70 selling a handful of books and my old iPhone (I had 2 extras). Not a ton of cash, but that's less stuff in my house and more money in my pocket.

I also sold a couple of my camera lenses on Amazon. The return on those was of course not as high as I would have wanted it to be, but I got rid of them quickly, which is good I suppose. For the two of them, I made $232.59 after Amazon fees and shipping costs.

That's $360.29 I can put towards the new lens I want to buy. Now I just have to sell my old camera. That still wont get me enough to pay for it completely, but any offset to the cost is obviously welcome!

***

The bridal show this weekend was a bit of a bust, I must say. I worked it two times before this one. The show last January was packed, and I got a good amount of leads from. I think I booked about 5 weddings from that show. In September, it was a bit quieter - but I still booked two from that show. So it paid for itself.

This time I only walked away with 11 email addresses of people who said they might be interested. The show even closed down 2 hours early yesterday because it was so dead :/

I'm still hoping I at least book 2 weddings. One girl seemed VERY enthusiastic about booking. So I'm hoping I can count on her at least. haha. I also met another photographer who said she wants to branch into weddings, and I've been needing to put together a few people to hire as second shooters for the upcoming season. So that's good.

I just need to start more aggressively marketing now. I was kind of counting on a number of bookings, and to make my goal it's going to be a bit tough now. That's the nature of running your own business, though! Can't be slacking Smile

On that note, it's time to get to work! Hope you all have a wonderful week!

Mid-Week Update

January 7th, 2015 at 06:12 pm

I can't say I have any breaking news in the last few days. Monday night we went to our friends' for dinner and played "The Game of Thrones." A GoT BOARD GAME. It took a long time to set up and learn it, but I'm really pumped to give it another go and get into it a bit deeper. Really fun.

I've been lucky enough to not have to leave the house for the last couple of days, and with the nasty weather that's been such a blessing. Yesterday I made some soup for dinner, and we stayed in. New Girl and Mindy are back, and I thoroughly enjoyed both shows last night with a nice glass of wine

Business Progress!

December 10th, 2014 at 08:24 pm

I started my photography + design business in October of 2013, on a sort of whim just to "see if I could do it." I looked over my spreadsheets today to get a feel for where I'm at now. And it was a rather invigorating exercise! I took a look at how many jobs I covered each year, how much I made (or will make), and the average per job at this point.

2013
19 jobs (in 3 months, 1 wedding)
$1,506.24
$79.28/job average

2014
27 jobs (9 weddings)
$16,416.26
$608.00/job average

2015 (contracts signed and deposits made)
10 jobs (9 weddings)
$17,400.00
$1,740/job average

Granted, there are a lot of things to keep in mind - In 2013 I was portfolio building, and did a couple of shoots for free. The rest were dirt cheap (a portrait session was $50 and I shot a wedding ceremony for $220. ha). This was only a side gig for me, and most of the marketing I did was for friends and through Craigslist.

This year I operated my business as a side gig until May, when I quit my two other part time jobs (it was a rough spring) to operate full time. I've been pretty exceptionally busy since. I was shooting weddings this year with 3 pricing options between $1,000 and $1,500. A lot of my revenue this year also came from doing work for political candidates (referred exclusively from a friend I used to work with) and real estate photography for a local nonprofit (also referred by a friend who works there). Word of mouth really makes a difference!

As for next year's bookings... I changed my pricing structure to reflect only one real option and upped the price to $2,000 for a wedding (including an engagement session). That was a huge, difficult step for me. I tend to drastically undervalue my work. But here's the thing... people are still hiring me. *Cue amazingly big smile*

My projected earnings outshine this year's already, and that doesn't include everything I'll book throughout the course of 2015 itself. My goal was to book at least 12 weddings for the year, and I'm well on my way.

I'm not saying it's time to retire or anything. I'm hoping to hit only $35k total in earnings pre-taxes next year. But that's a pretty solid living doing something that I just thought I would try out. It's certainly still really hard work. And owning a business is horribly expensive all by itself (I'm looking at $10,000 in expenses this year - over half of which was equipment). But it feels good to know that it's starting to come together. And I really think next year it's going to really start paying off. Which is something that I'm incredibly proud of.

Yay!

October Recap and November Goals

November 3rd, 2014 at 04:00 pm

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!

End of Election and November Update!

November 6th, 2013 at 07:24 pm

Yesterday marked the end of the election, which is a huge sigh of relief for me. Our campaign won and the levy I was working to get passed did in fact do so- at 65% of the vote, which is pretty remarkable. Today I'm trying to catch up on some non-work related stuff (like paying bills!) and am struggling to stay awake. I haven't got much sleep in the last few days...

All that aside, I'm feeling really good. I have a trip to Seattle tomorrow with a girlfriend that I'm very excited about. Visiting one of my best friends I haven't seen in months, since he moved out there. The three of us were inseparable in grad school, and we'd looking forward to taking on the streets of that city in full force Smile

I'll be using my time in the airport to do some photo editing. I have two sets to complete in the next week. The business is going well. I had another engagement shoot last weekend, two more sessions booked, and 4 in the works. Not bad for only posting to Craigslist...

I have a job interview next week that I'm pretty excited about, so hopefully that will go over well and I'll have full time employment (wouldn't that be nice?).

November is really the month of adventure for me, though. On top of traveling to Seattle this weekend, I'm going to Frankfurt, Germany in just a couple of weeks! I found this gig through a friend for a logistics company that pays people to fly around and transport bone marrow donations to people who need it. They're covering my flights, hotels, and giving me $75/day to cover food and whatnot. I get to stay in Germany for 2 days and then head to New Jersey to drop off. It seemed too good to be true, but when my friend told me she did it without a hitch, I figured it was an opportunity I just couldn't pass up.

Consequently, I'm learning as much German as I can in the next two weeks and just reeling with excitement because I finally get to visit Europe. Adventure! I'll be doing some work while I'm traveling there as well. That's the nice thing about doing freelance work from home! I can take my work pretty much anywhere...

So while I'm a little worried about finding a full time job, I'm enjoying the flexibility of my current arrangement and am so very thankful that I'm in a financial situation that gives me that flexibility. I can honestly say this is the first time I've ever been able to say that. Saving has been pretty much nonexistent for me up to this point... and I know it is a luxury to feel comfortable in a state of uncertainty.

---

As for my financial update: I paid all my bills for November, save the one that doesn't get sent to me until later in the month. My minimum payments for my student loans are now under $400 every month, which is very exciting. It's always uplifting when you visibly see your hard work paying off. It also relieves a lot of pressure when your debt payments are less than your rent :/

I transferred $1,000 to my savings account, so I'm 1/3 of the way toward my savings goal for 2013 taxes. Woo!

I'm clearly not going to be in a position to make my goal to hit $6,000 for my focus loan account, but it could be close depending on what my work situation is next month. I've got it under $10k, which I'm incredibly happy about.

I've been pretty good about not purchasing food at restaurants. Tonight I'll be cooking dinner. The rest of the week I'll be traveling, but thankfully my two friends are just as cheap as I am- so while I'm sure we'll get dinner out one of the nights, we'll be doing some cooking at his place as well.

I have a doctor's appointment next week, and I'm not sure what I'll end up spending, but I'm budgeting at least a couple hundred dollars. We shall see how this insurance works out.

I think that's about it for now. Sorry for the novel! Hope you all are doing well!

Midterms Done!

October 25th, 2012 at 02:44 am

So this past weekend and beginning of this week were spent struggling to finish two midterms. I'm happy to say the second one was turned in this afternoon Smile

Work has calmed down considerably. I'm no longer harboring that panicked feeling that I'm not going to get everything done in time. It was almost awkward being able to work at a relatively "leisurely" pace today. It's refreshing and my head feels in a better place (despite the drain caused by these tests).

Spending has been minimal for the last couple of days. Paid my recurring spotify bill and monthly donation to the Human Rights Campaign. I also had to write a $25 check to the university for my graduation application. Wasn't anticipating that one, but ah well. I'm still very much under budget.

This weekend will be a busy one. Going out with friends to celebrate Halloween Friday night. Saturday I'll be taking part in "Make a Difference Day" with the BF, volunteering somewhere in the area... though I'm not sure which project he decided on. I let him choose Smile After volunteering, we'll be carving pumpkins together then going out again Saturday night dressed up, though that will be far more low-key.

After racking my brain for a few days now about what costume to go with, I feel like I've come up with something that is almost zero cost and can be thrown together very quickly: Clue Characters. Thinking we just may pick up a candlestick, some rope, etc, and dress up. I'm sure we could find creative ways to play out the characters a bit more. Halloween is by far my favorite holiday, and I usually go all out, but this year I just haven't had the time to sew a costume and plan properly. Ah well. I'm much more interested in carving pumpkins and spending time out with the BF Smile

Reading over volunteering opportunities got me really inspired to do more. I love getting involved in general, and though I constantly make excuses about how busy I am, I'm going to make time to volunteer more. It's important enough to devote even just a few hours a month. I found this great organization in the area called Junior Achievement, which partners with area schools and has volunteers come in and teach financial literacy to kids. I contacted them and am set up to do the orientation in a couple of weeks. The idea of visiting a 3rd grade class 5 times to teach is thrilling. I'm very excited about it... but I wont be doing it until April. I indicated my availability to be for the spring semester, but I think I may look into starting earlier, or maybe finding a tutoring opportunity for low-income kids. I really do love working with kids. It's so energizing.

In odd financial news, the BF's friend is one of those 27 year old men that still has yet to do a single load of laundry himself and just moved into a situation where his mother (and ex girlfriend) are not able to do it for him on the regular. Though on principle I feel like I should encourage him to just do it himself because it's pathetic he's never touched a washing machine, the entrepreneurial spirit in me figures that I'd rather capitalize on the patheticness of the situation. He's dropping his clothes off tomorrow and I'm going to graciously wash them for some fee that we're going to negotiate. Bless the lazy single men of America. More dollars will be headed toward chipping away at that hefty student debt pile. Maybe he'll need someone to clean his new apartment, too... haha.

I think that's about it! Waking up early to work out then heading into the office. Hope you all have a fantastic night!

Post-Trip Exhaustion

October 18th, 2012 at 08:34 pm

This week has felt like an eternity!

I've returned from my trip to Boston. The meeting went fantastically. I am, however, absolutely exhausted. Very long days, very busy, on my feet practically all three days. Got some phenomenal shots and got to see some really well-known figures speak. It was exciting, but I'm elated it's all over. For those of us planning the trip and getting it underway, it's a relief to not have to think about it much anymore.

I ended up spending barely any money. Really, just Dunkin Donuts in the airport on the way there, a bottle of wine ($6, nothing crazy), and some nail polish and lipgloss... All of my meals were covered, and I didn't have to pay a dime for the flight or hotel room. I did have to make sure I put everything into my app to update. I'm still way under budget for the month- particularly because I sold yet another textbook Friday. I should be getting my deposit from Amazon shortly.

Looking out now, I should have at least a couple of hundred dollars extra from the budget to throw at that loan. We wont know until the very last day of the month, though.

Grocery shopping tomorrow! And working on midterms. And a wedding Saturday. Busy times, these.

Hope you all enjoy your weekend and I'll leave you with a photo I took of David Gergen at our reception Monday night!

Preparing for my Trip

October 12th, 2012 at 11:03 pm

I cant believe I leave for Boston in less than 2 days! We've all been killing ourselves at work for this national meeting and I'm finally at the point where all of my projects are essentially done or (very) under control. From here on out it's packing and tying up loose ends. Very nice to not feel overwhelmed and I'm very proud of myself for taking control of my schedule this week.

I got my new camera lens yesterday. Work paid for it, because I'm going to be taking the majority of the photographs next week. It was only $100 and I wish I would have went with the pricier one in retrospect, but I was trying to do right by the organization and my photographer friend said the next step up was only marginally better in terms of quality. Either way, I want to do a little reading and tinkering in the next couple of days. This will be the first event I photograph on any scale.

I'm really excited, though. There are a great spread of speakers showing up, nationally and in some cases internationally renowned. One of my personal heroes-- Ed Glaeser-- is a keynote speaker, and the chance to get to meet him is really exciting! Looking forward to meeting and taking photos of people I really respect. I've also never been to Boston, and we're doing a tour of Fenway park, a harbor boat cruise, and a few other really cool things. There will be mayors and the Gov of Mass. It's all very overwhelming and exciting and holy crap what in the world am I going to wear? haha.

That's actually been a big thought on my mind. I want to look nice, of course, but I'm also going to be on my feet for many hours a day and don't want my feet to kill. Always fun. I will be heading to Target tomorrow to grab a neutral cardigan. My budget is way capable of handling it.

It's been a very low spend week. I did buy lunch for the BF and I today, but I've still got plenty left in my budget for groceries and eating out at restaurants. I've spent absolutely zero of my "going out" budget. Apparently I've been really boring this month Smile haha.

Tonight I'm getting things ready for my trip and doing some homework. I have midterms coming up and a few papers I really need to get some headway on.

At any rate, I should get to work on all this! Hope you all have a fantastic weekend!

Day 2 of Schedule Revamp

October 10th, 2012 at 12:17 am

So my newly reconfigured schedule is going really well. I've been pretty on for both days, and they've both been incredibly productive. I've spent very limited time on social media sites, which has helped immensely. I woke up at 7am Monday to work out at home, did some arms. This morning I woke up at 6:30 and hit the gym with a friend, as he gets unlimited guest passes at his gym! Now I can run and use cardio machines for free even as it gets colder Smile I can use the rec on campus, but fitting it into my daytime schedule is way more difficult. I'd rather work out in the early mornings.

Scheduled break times I think are really helping me stay on my game. Whether that's just taking 30 minutes to read or write in my journal or run an errand, it gets my mind off work momentarily and gives me the opportunity to refresh.

I threw some food in the crock pot around lunchtime, and finished everything up here a bit ago with the BF. He's taking the Jeopardy Test right now, so I scheduled that time to toodle on the interwebz for a minute. After he's done we're going to watch the second Sherlock Holmes movie and relax. We grabbed a bottle of wine from the store, and I'm looking forward to having a glass and having a nice night in.

The rest of the week will still be busy. I have a lot of powerpoint presentations to design, packing for Boston, and class for the next two days. I feel like I'm off to a good start, though, and looking forward to crossing more items off my to-do list.

As for spending today, all I had was shipping for a book I sold. I filled out the paperwork to get on the payroll at work (I've been paid through the university up to this point), and I ordered the new lens for my camera-- which work paid for as well, because I'll be taking photos at our meeting next week. So much to do!

Hope you're all having a splendid week!

Getting a Raise (sort of)!

October 8th, 2012 at 03:50 pm

I have a little extra time here for the next 20 minutes or so, so I figured I'd check in... particularly because I got some great news yesterday.

When I was hired on for this job, my boss basically said he'd be paying me for 20 hours/week through the university as per my GA contract. He encouraged me to work more than that, but said I was only obligated to work 20.

I've been working a whole lot more than 20 hours a week.

Because they pay my tuition, I wasn't particularly angry about it, but working 30-40 hours per week doesn't really leave a whole lot of time open to pick up any side jobs (or keep up with my school work). I have a lot of people asking me to pick up projects with them as a contractor, but not too much time to do so. I'm trying to work my schedule to change part of that... but over the weekend my boss sent an email saying that I've been doing a great job, and offered to pay me for 30 hours per week (essentially to make up for the stressful workload. ha).

I would be expected to work at least 30 hours, but of course I work that already. So of course I'm open to that setup! I'm essentially getting a 50% raise. So I can add about $400 to my monthly income. Seems like paying off that loan by the end of the year is going to be easier than I thought Smile

Just wanted to share the good news!

Today's spending will be minimal since I went grocery shopping last night-- $30 for the week, but I should have stuff leftover for next week. Really just have to cover the cost of mailing this book out, and I'm set. My schedule is packed tight with work, homework, yoga, and relaxation time. I woke up at 7am this morning and worked out for a half an hour. I'm feeling good as a result. Just have to keep on this schedule. Speaking of which, I should get going Smile

Hope you all have a great day!

Rethinking Time Management

October 7th, 2012 at 08:04 pm

So one thing I'm really good at doing is running myself ragged at work. I let it get in the way of everything, and give myself little time to breathe or recharge. It lasts for about a month or so, but when I hit my breaking point I end up very unproductive for weeks after. I'm in the recovery mode of that breakdown right now, with only a week before I'm on a flight for Boston for our National Meeting. Needless to say, this is a time where I really need to be on my game.

Over the weekend I had drill and spent most of yesterday sitting around waiting to shoot my weapon on the range. I had my phone with me and decided to download a book (because I have all of this Apple credit). I got one titled "What the Most Successful People do Before Breakfast" by Laura Vanderkam. I got through it really quickly, and felt pretty energized about revamping my mornings. She mentioned her other book, "168 Hours" along the way, and I ended up downloading that one right after I finished the first.

I think she has a really great outlook on time management, and made me rethink the way I handle mine. Making time for things like working out, relaxing, and spending time with the BF are really important. Making better use of my time at work is even more important. The best takeaway I gained from it is that there is no such thing as "not having enough time." We all have the same amount of time. We choose what is important enough to be included in our schedule. There are no excuses.

The good news is that there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to "what is important." Paying our bills is obviously important. It's not necessarily a bad thing if we want to prioritize one thing over another. The idea is to keep our core competencies and goals in mind when budgeting our time. And we do budget our time, whether we think of it that way or not.

I'm in the process of not only budgeting my money right now, but also trying to rethink how I approach time management, and where I need to budget those precious minutes.

I will be the first to admit that I spend a lot of my time wasting time on the internet. I check my email likely a hundred times a day. I know I'm not all that productive in the evenings, that I have very little energy because I don't give myself breaks, and I should be working out regularly because it increases my energy levels and relieves stress. So we're going to work on all that.

She suggests getting up at 6am at the latest. I cannot do that. haha. I mean, I can do that. But we'll see how I operate when waking up at 7am first. We're going to use babysteps here.

I'm going to try scheduling time to do the social media thing. No more creeping on Facebook for several hours. Not checking my email more than 3 times a day. I created a schedule for the week, covering all 168 hours (split into half hours). I'm going to work out every morning (though only totaling 4 hours for the week). I'm also going to do 2 30-min yoga sessions.

The last important choice I made was to incorporate some relaxation time every few hours of my workday. I'm hoping that making these changes will increase my productivity at work and release some of the pressure on my brain and body.

So let's hope it all works out! Smile

As for money updates: Very low-spend weekend. Didn't spend anything Friday night or all day yesterday. Could have went off post last night, but I was exhausted and just wanted to relax in my room. On my way home this morning I stopped to get gas: $20.04. That's all I've spent on that this week. I also grabbed a coffee for a dollar, and paid for me and BF's lunch at Dunkin Donuts, $11.

My car started making these scraping noises as I was braking. I'm pretty sure that means I'm replacing my brake pads and rotors here very soon. I need an oil change as well. Thankfully I don't have any amount of distance to drive til next month. The 2-minute drive to the train station is nothing. So I'll be waiting at least a couple of weeks to get that taken care of. I may just wait it out til the beginning of next month. We shall see.

Tonight I plan on cooking at home, doing some cleaning, laundry, and getting prepared for the week ahead. It's my weekly icrecream date day with the BF, but he'll pay for that (particularly if I cook!). I'll be grocery shopping tomorrow, so I'll also be making out my grocery list. Think I may watch a movie or something tonight, but I'm planning on getting to bed early. Want to get a good start tomorrow!

Hope you all had a great weekend!

Those Pesky Loans

October 15th, 2010 at 04:53 pm

So quick update: No major spending, but I have a few expenses coming up. Need to replace my windshield, take the kitty to the vet, and get my yearly checkup at the "girl doctors" (lol). And, of course, vacation is coming up in December. And Xmas. And getting that camera I want so bad.

What I guess I want to bring up here today is my student loans. I updated the totals on October 1, right... and got on Sallie Mae yesterday to see what the total was, because I was thinking of making a payment on it.

October 1: $34,017.09
October 15: $34,124.76

wtf???

It truly amazes me that I gained over $100 in interest in the matter of 2 weeks. So this got me thinking, and I pulled up a loan payment calculator, and put in some figures and realized that if I wanted to pay it off in 10 years that I would have to pay over $400/month. That is absolutely ludicrous. If I want to pay it off in 20 years, still $300. Gaa!!!

So.

These are obviously scary figures, and I need to develop some sort of action plan. I mean, that isn't even the entirety of my student debt. That's just what I've got through Sallie Mae... It is, however, the highest interest rates I've got (9.25% for the majority of it).

I'm going to try and pay a target of $300/month, and obviously any additional income will go towards debt/savings as usual. It's just rather sad that my schooling has cost me this much. I'm not sure if calling them up and asking for a lower interest rate would do anything. Regardless, it's a bit distressing. I can cover my bills alright, and even put a bit into savings, but this is kind of ridiculous.

Income for this month hasn't been as high as I had hoped it would be, but I'm working on it yet, and I have a few payments due that haven't been sent to me yet. I also have drill this weekend, which will provide a bit of income also.

Regardless, I was highly motivated to make a $50 payment on those loans yesterday. I know, it's not much. But every little bit counts!

In good news, the Army requires me to get a dental examination-- which I got today. The Army does NOT cover cleanings, but the fabulous people at the office I went to donates them to soldiers for free Smile So I got my first cleaning in about 2 years for free. Happy day. I take terrible care of my teeth, and I thought I would have cavities, but as it turns out I don't have one... but my gums are in bad shape. I need to start a better regiment. Thankfully, the office also gave me a goodie bag (I love that), so I'm stocked on toothbrush and even more toothpaste, and mouthwash.

It's rough not having any medical insurance. I know that it's going to be required here soon, but as of this week I'm not *too* concerned about it. Mostly because the BF got a job Smile He's going to be making over $50k per year, with benefits. Though we're not married yet, we plan to be in a couple years. So by the time that I'm required to have insurance, I should. Crazy to think about. BF getting a job is a big step, as he's graduating with his masters in December, and he's had a lot of trouble finding anything. The market is just horrible right now. But he's good to go now, and I'll start my last semester of undergrad. Woo!

I have a campus visit at the Grad school I really want to go to next week. I'm really excited, but also really anxious-- because that means the GRE is even closer! I haven't studied nearly as much as I want to. I need to step up my game.

I should stop rambling now, and get to work. That money's not gonna make itself!

Back to business!

September 7th, 2010 at 11:48 am

It was a rather low-key weekend, with minimal spending. Good stuff. Now it's back to class for me, and back to work. I picked up another writing gig through oDesk.com, so I'll be doing some writing on a wedding blog. Different for me, but pretty exciting!

Business is going really well, actually (outside of one client who doesn't seem to ever want to pay me/respond to my emails). It's nice to see that things didn't completely drop out over the summer and I can still make a bit of money doing this. Even better? I've gotten to the point where I can be fairly picky about what I write, which is really nice.

Today I'll be on campus all day, so I'll be packing a lunch. I have yet to spend any money for food on campus. Woo! Granted, it is only the 3rd week... ah well. Come to think of it, I cant believe it's already week 3! Time flies these days...

I'm going to try and make this a low-spend week. I've got drill this weekend, so it wont be too bad. No plans for the weeknights yet, so we'll see, I guess. Still have plenty of gas in my car and went grocery shopping yesterday. Probably spent a bit too much, but I cant beat myself up for that. I'm trying to eat healthier. At least I'm not off spending my money on stupid stuff, and wont be eating out at restaurants all week.

Come to think of it, I'm going to try and keep unnecessary spending down altogether. Last month was Art in the Square, so I spent a bit of money on jewelry/hand crafted soap/produce, etc. This month I dont have a whole lot coming up. Just date night and perhaps a Crew Game. Or possibly a trip to Pittsburgh. We'll see.

I really need to get saving for this trip in December! It's not too far off... so exciting! Oh, and we have to buy our plane tickets this week. It'll be pretty official, then. Good stuff Smile

Alright, off to the grind. Everyone have a great day!


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