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Back in the swing of things

April 4th, 2016 at 09:42 pm

Alright, things are finally starting to feel normal again. We've been back from vacation for a couple of weeks, and my routine is
settling in again.

Didn't do much this past weekend. Our friends had their baby on Friday (April Fools! But really, they did. lol). Went to the hospital to see the little one, then went out and did karaoke. Saturday I spent cleaning the apartment and doing laundry, which literally took all day. Between being gone for almost 2 weeks and the slump we've been in since we've been home, there was much to be done. After all that, though, we ordered takeout and I fell asleep on the couch around 9:30. heh. Yesterday I went to a baby shower, then we kind of bummed around all evening.

DH and I sat down and looked at our spending for March, and it wasn't pretty - mostly due to spending on vacation, but also because we basically ate at restaurants for the whole time we've been back. That was a bit rough to see on the statement.

That being said, I took the time to do some meal planning and went to the grocery store today. We're covered on dinners for probably a week now. It was German week at Aldi, so I got a few extras that we can use for meals next week also. Tonight I'm trying out a new recipe for a roasted carrot salad, and I just put a loaf of bread in the oven. Also tried a recipe for compound butter - delicious fresh honey butter on that fresh baked bread is going to be heavenly. Having a couple of friends over, so I figured why not do something a bit special?

DH's birthday is on Saturday, and I already got his gifts. GRE study materials and poster prints he's been wanting for a while. We're also having a party at this entertainment complex with laser tag and a skating rink and a bunch of other stuff. A 31st Birthday celebration fit for a 12 year old! ha. Should be fun for sure. Sunday we're hanging out with his family. So the rest of this week is going to be incredibly low-key.

***

Got all of my tax information to my accountant, and got some really great news. I was expecting to have to pay around $8k, but after some rough estimates she said worst case scenario would be around $2k! I've been saving every penny I make for a few months, so it'll be nice to be able to use those funds. And I've already opened a savings account and started transferring 35% of my income since the start of 2016, so there will be no crazy stress around taxes next year, thankfully. It was INCREDIBLE news to receive. Turns out filing jointly as a married couple is going to work in our favor after all Smile

***

Had a shoot this past week that went really well, and have booked a couple more since we've been home. Which is comforting, coming out of the slow season. It'll be nice to actually be able to contribute to the family income as well. Got a client check in the mail today that I need to put into my system.

***

Need to re-evaluate my goals and get started on a path to meeting them, including updating my sidebar. Haven't done any journaling in about a month and that's a habit I want to rekindle as well. Reconnecting with my gratitude practice also. I'm slipping back into laziness, and that's when I start forgetting how much abundance I have in my life and lose track of what's important. My 2 hour stint online window shopping last night is an indication that I'm falling off the horse.

***

So that's that for now! Hope you are all having a great Monday!

Christmas + 2016's Theme

December 27th, 2015 at 04:42 pm

I can't believe that Christmas has come and gone. I feel like I've been saying this for years now, but it just didn't really feel like Christmas this year. I'm thinking maybe it's just because I'm getting older. I'm hoping once we have kids that it feel magical again. But either way, it was enjoyable.

DH and I had our lovely Christmas Eve. We exchanged our gifts earlier in the day so we could play with them. I got him the Amazon Echo, and we both love it. He got me a Fitbit. I'm hoping it will help me shed some unwanted pounds and generally live a bit healthier. We exchanged a few other smaller gifts as well - but tried to keep it simple. He did include a spa package for me, which was unexpected and very nice Smile He really is a keeper.

Christmas itself was a lot of running around. We went to my mom's in the morning for breakfast and presents. It went over fine. I have a very odd relationship with my family, and the holidays tend to be very stressful for me. But all things considered, things went well. Mom seemed to enjoy the purse I got her (which is a relief. It's always so hard to pick things like that for people, even with general guidelines). I didn't get much of a reaction out of my siblings, but that's usual.

After my mom's we went to DH's parent's for presents. I think my MIL lives for giving presents. Gift Giving is definitely her love language. I came away from it very appreciative, and also a bit guilty that we didn't get her a bit more. It's always such an awkward experience trying to figure out what is "appropriate." I think that's why my SIL made everyone agree to do no gift exchange with her. But my MIL got her a bunch of stuff anyway. I think it made her feel really uncomfortable. Not sure how that is going to be handled next year.

After his parents we go and do his extended family party. Which is always kind of a hoot. Never a boring moment with his aunts there. Very loud, boisterous ladies, supplying much fodder for his cousins, who poke and prod them all night. haha. Beyond the fun, though, it seemed like tensions ran a bit higher than normal this year. We did end up staying reeeally late, engrossed in a religious discussion with his aunt's that was a bit more than a little awkward for me, but still very interesting. Oh, family...

I think in 2016 I'm going to try and somehow improve my relationship with my family. It's the single biggest point of stress in my life, and it's saddening that I constantly dread any interaction with my mom. A lot of it I know will be on my part - working harder to practice empathy and not let the things she says/does get to me so much. But at some point I need to be a bit more honest with her about those things. I bite my tongue in fear of hurting her feelings. But the more I think about it, if I had a daughter that felt the way I do right now, I'd want her to say something. And I know my mom would love to have a closer relationship with me. Sigh.

***

Speaking of the New Year, I'm really excited for it. I love fresh starts and the energy that comes with setting goals. We have a really eventful year coming up - our honeymoon in March and moving out of state in April. Then all of the fun and challenge that comes along with acclimating and building a new life in a new place.

I generally pick one "theme" to focus on every year. 2015 was the year of mindfulness. And I think that idea helped me establish some great new habits and let go of the past, bringing my attention more to the present - and practicing gratitude for all of the wonderful things I have in my life.

For 2016, I think I've landed on the idea of "Making Space." Certainly in a physical sense - finishing my Marie Kondo journey, getting rid of more stuff and creating a home that really speaks to the person I am today. But also making space in a less tangible way - letting go of my negativity to make space for more empathy and compassion. Spending less time on social media to make space for activities that recharge me instead of distracting me (like reading or crocheting). Reducing the junk food in the house to make space for healthier, delicious options. Stop spending money on stuff I don't really need to make space for working toward my financial goals that matter. Generally making space to cook more food from scratch, spend more quality time with DH, to focus on those important projects that get caught in the whirlwind of everyday, unimportant tasks.

I constantly gripe about being busy and not having enough time, but I know that's not entirely true. My time management could be 1,000 x better than it is, and if my priorities are true priorities, the things I want to do in my life will get done. I just have to let go of the garbage time. And truly focus on enjoying every aspect of the things I choose to replace that time with.

So there you have it! We will be setting some more specific financial (and general) goals for the year, but that's the framework.

What are your resolutions for the new year?

Making Room for Things I Love

November 11th, 2015 at 01:51 pm

So anyone that's been reading along (though I certainly don't assume any of you hang on my every word. haha) knows that I'm in the midst of a purging. We donated about 10 boxes of books on Monday, I've been rounding up clothes and house items for sale and donation, and in some cases it's just to downsize. In others, it's to make room for things that I truly love.

I'm a pretty firm believer in the methods of Marie Kondo (The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up is her book). Her basic premise is that you should only surround yourself with objects that "spark joy." That's really her only criteria. haha. And while it sounds cheesy, it has been enormously helpful in my efforts - and effective!

Or example, we were only left with the books we really enjoy. When I look over my bookcase, I feel less overwhelmed and am so excited to read some of the books sitting there, or reread others. Granted, many are DH's and I will never read them. haha. But it feels so much calmer nonetheless.

I've been slowly paring down the things that I don't really enjoy in our home. Our bedding was more of a necessity (our comforter was ruined). But since buying new bedding that I love (inexpensively, at IKEA) I make our bed every day and absolutely LOVE being in our bedroom.

Even when it just comes to paring down and not necessarily replacing, I find that clearing out the noise of the things that don't make me happy allows me to better appreciate what does. Clothes are where this makes the biggest impact for me. I would keep some "just in case" I lost that weight, or pairs of pants that I could barely squeeze into that made me feel uncomfortable and insecure when I wore them. Once I finally let go, I had one pair of blue jeans, a pair of black jeans, and a pair of black dress pants. They all fit well, and I didn't have to go through the stress of rifling through and being reminded that these other pieces no longer fit.

So call it minimalism, or KonMarie, or trying to adapt the Feng Shui of a room, whatever. Less stuff in general and more stuff you love is a great practice, I've found. And things I love aren't necessarily more expensive. They're just more joy-sparking Smile

***

So along those lines, I did another purge of clothes - and went off to sell them yesterday. I made $145 total. I still have some left that I may try to sell online, so hopefully that figure will improve. But the money I made yesterday was used to buy a new coat (one that fits me correctly!). I found one I absolutely love - and got the coat, then a matching scarf, hat, and set of gloves all for $170. The remaining $30 came out of my shopping budget. Then I went to Target and found a lamp I loved for $15 - to replace the wonky one in our living room, and then a throw pillow that was on sale for $20 that I've been eyeing for a couple of weeks now. The living room is slowly coming together now Smile

We still could really stand to replace:

- Recliner (this has been a planned purchase for months)
- End Table
- Floor Lamp
- Area Rug (wont purchase until after the move)
- Coffee Table

These aren't needs, so I'm not in any particular hurry - except for the recliner. haha. It is this hideous green fabric, and doesn't match the rest of the room in the slightest. It was a hand me down, and we've already found a $200 chair to replace it. We just have to get the thing out and order the new one. Part of me wants to wait until we move so we don't have to move another one down south. But I'm not sure I can have that chair in my life for another 5 months. haha. The rest is harmonious enough with the room to not warrant any particular hurry Smile

The nice thing, too, about only landing on the items I truly love is that I'm a bit pickier about what I do buy - and I'm happy to wait until I've found "it." Why spend money on something and let it take up room in your life if you aren't going to be super excited upon seeing it every day?

***

In other simplification news, I disabled the mail notifications on my computer. Even less distraction from my tasks!

Hope you are all having a lovely day!

Budget Checkup

November 10th, 2015 at 01:14 pm

Alrighty. We're a third of the way through the month, and upon checking on my budget, I'm pretty much right on schedule. I'm at 1/3 of my shopping budget and haven't touched my restaurant budget (woo!). I am almost halfway through my grocery budget, though, so I'll need to tone things down a bit. Thankfully, the groceries I bought the other day should last us through at least a week and a half.

Tonight will be leftovers - we have a ton right now. Always nice to not have to cook!

We do have a date night planned tomorrow (the first since our wedding), which I'm really looking forward to. But we're actually using a local restaurant gift card that a friend got us for the wedding. So dinner will be covered. We will be paying to go see the new Bond film, though. Very much excited Smile

***

I mailed back the Warby Parker try on at home glasses yesterday, and I'm deciding against buying a pair. At least for now. They were cute, but none of them were just *amazing,* and I can still wear the ones I have now. They were most certainly a want and not a need, and if I'm going to make a purchase I want it to be something that I truly love. They try on at home was free anyway, so no harm no foul.

***

Today I believe I'm going to swing by a few consignment shops and attempt to sell some of my clothes. I was going to attempt the online route, and still may for a few pieces, but for the rest I think it might make sense to let go of them all in one go. I'm hoping to make a little money, so I can use the cash toward the purchase of a new coat.


Anyway, I hope you all have a fantastic day. Happy saving!!

Simplifying

November 2nd, 2015 at 04:52 pm

It's bill pay day! Realized that I had budgeted $30 more than what I actually spent on my phone bill. Last month I had some extra charges from my trip to Canada, and now it's back to normal. Hurrah!

Also moved some money around and deposited some checks. Things are not much different than yesterday. ha.

***

Last night DH and I went through all of our books - we have a LOT. As it was, we filled up 5 book shelves. I'm happy to report that we've gotten our collection to a little over 1 shelf. We're both avid readers, and have amassed many through book sales at the library, and tons just over the years. While we love having them, most are volumes we'll never read (or read again), they take up so much room, and will be such a pain to move when we relocate.

Looking at the shelf, too, it's all books that we *actually* plan on reading, or really love. DH also suggested we work by the rule that if we buy another book we need to get rid of one in our possession, which I think is a fabulous idea.

I'd like to go through and sell some of them, but I'm afraid that the majority will go for peanuts. I've worked through most of our old textbooks to see if we could get any money out of them already. I wish there was a place to sell them by the pound. haha. I feel like we'd make a mint...

In other simplification news, I've decided to go on a Social Media cleanse for the next week. Partially because I have a lot to do and need to get rid of the distraction, and partially because I feel like I just need a break from it. I live on Facebook and Pinterest - and while I find that Pinterest is a great resource for inspiration, I'm a bit overwhelmed by the inspiration. If I'm going to take a break, I'd rather it be mindful and something I enjoy a bit more. Like reading.

Should be a no-spend. Heading to the library to use their laser engraver to make a sign for clients, and stopping by the probate court to try and snag a copy of our marriage license so I can finally get the whole name change process underway. All this administrative stuff is a pain. But once it's done I'll be much happier for it Smile

So that's that. Back to work now - hope you all have a great day! Happy saving!!