What I spent: February 2017

What I spent in February 2017 | RISING*SHINING

After Chris and I both did a great job in January of staying within our personal allowance budgets we decreased our budgets. Chris decreased his from $150 to $80 and we decreased mine from $150 to $100. Note that we also have a joint personal allowance budget each month of $150 which covers any date nights plus babysitting and family outings including eating out.

In February I continued my new habit of tracking every purchase in Mint and making sure it was appropriately categorized. I'm even going to far to split transactions if needed and allocate to different budgets. 

I used to track things in Mint in waves. I'd be really into it for a while but fall out of the habit. Cleaning up all our Mint budgets and making sure we have the right budgets set at the right amounts has helped get me back into the tracking habit. And I'm sticking with it in a way I never have. The more Chris and I track our spending the more we are sticking to our budgets, which is so satisfying, and reinforcing the tracking behavior.

Personal allowance spending for February 2017:

$5 - one box of Thin Mints, which because I'm a moderator I will make last all year! I know this is ridiculous but I stash them in my drawer at work. I'll eat a sleeve when I finish my crazy report season in August and another sometime this fall.

$18 - two-year renewal of Sunset Magazine

$2.96 - coffee at Starbucks while I worked and killed some time before volunteering at preschool.

$3.50 - a protein shake as part of Chris's Valentine's gift

$2.96  - coffee at Liberty Market by myself when we had run out of coffee. I just sat for 10 minutes with no book or phone. Such a minor-seeming thing but I remember it being so calming.

$7.34 - breakfast with book club gals at a favorite spot

$10 - a get well gift for a friend

$11.50 - tsoynami date to treat my amazing co-worker who is moving to Boston. Sad face.

$17.31 - happy hour + snacks with my book club

Total spent: $78.57 of $100 budgeted

+ + +

In January 2017: $126.25 of $150 budgeted

 


Goals - March 2017

Goals - March 2017 | RISING*SHINING

The year is trucking along and it feels like a good time to check in on my 2017 goals and recommit to them. At the beginning of the year I was reminding myself of CHOOSE on a daily basis and reflecting on gratitude often. February ended up feeling so full and I fell out of the practice.  March is a perfect time to recommit to choosing family and writing, gratitude, and action.

Big things happening in March:

+ St. Patrick's Day. Not usually a big deal for us but we love to make any holiday a little special for the boys. We're thinking of having either family or friends over for an Irish themed dinner that night. 

+ Family and friend birthdays. There are three this month!

In March I choose to...

+ Plan Dashiell's birthday party. Oh my heart - FOUR!

+ Create a photo book using our wedding photos. I have digital versions of photos from our 2010 wedding but have never made a book. Hoping to have this finished by our 7th anniversary!

+ Buy some new plants for our front yard. 

+ Not make many weekend plans. Last weekend we had a gloriously unplanned weekend and it was so good for my soul. I loved being together as a family and going with the flow of where the weekend took us. I'd love to try to create more of that in our life. 

+ Launch two new Neighborly Advice classes with The Girl Next Door Podcast. We'll be retiring the first two classes at the end of the month in case you are interested but haven't purchased yet. 

Recurring monthly goals:

+ Spend 15 minutes each day on creative writing. This is any writing that's just for me. It could be blogging, writing in the boys' memory journal or working on an essay.

Update: Still not getting to this every day but I love having it as something I'm striving to do every day.

+ Make Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings for work and leave Thursday and Friday open. As part of CHOOSING family and writing I want to get my work done for my podcasts and Copper Quail Style early in the week so that evenings later in the week are free. It's easy to put this work off to another night since timing is flexible but getting it done earlier will mean I can relax sooner.

Update: Trying to get back on track with this after a full February and having weeks where I worked nearly every night.

+ Check Mint at least once each week. To CHOOSE savings I need to be mindful of every transaction and stick to my monthly personal allowance budget.

Update: Yes! Still keeping this up and I love how in tune with our finances we are. As a result of both Chris and I checking Mint more often we are staying on budget better than we ever have before. 

 

Happy March!

 


For the love of finishing things

For the love of finishing things | RISING*SHINING

Last year I read Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin and I still think of it often.  Erica and I even discussed it in a Girl Next Door Book Club

In the book, Rubin outlines four habit tendencies - Upholder, Questioner, Rebel, Obliger - which describe how a person responds to internal and external expectations. (You can take the quiz here to find out your tendency.) I'm an upholder and respond equally to internal and external expectations. In other words, I love goals and enjoy meeting them. Surprise!! I had so many lightbulb moments while reading about my own personality and having it articulated in new ways. Plus, what is more fascinating than learning about yourself?

After describing the four tendencies Rubin covers lots of other traits we should consider when trying to make or break a habit. Are you an early bird or a night owl? Are you a moderator (a little at a time) or an abstainer (all or nothing)? Are you an opener or a finisher?

Lately I've been thinking about this last one: opener or finisher. When Erica and I chatted about the book on The Girl Next Door Book Club I thought I was an opener. I have so many things going on! So I must love to start things. 

But one morning as I was grabbing my lunch and coffee, about to head out the door, a little collection on the counter caught my eye. It was a squeezed and nearly empty bottle of Aquaphor, a Burt's Bees so near the end that the internal tube of chapstick will pop out and an upturned bottle of Trader Joe's white pine lotion (an attempt to use every last bit). Later at work I found that I had another bottle of upturned Trader Joe's lotion.

Then I thought of the way I have a hard time buying new deodorant until I have nearly none left (still obsessed with this by the way). And also how I'm still wearing casual shoes that I love even though they have a hole in the toe and running shoes I've been wearing for nearly 4 years (it's a miracle I don't have chronic shin splints). I love to wear things until they wear out and since these are still functioning it's hard for me to buy new.

It's not just material things. At work I find so much more energy and satisfaction in finishing a project than starting a new one.  

And so it dawned on me that maybe, in fact, I am a finisher. I love to follow-through and complete something that I said I would do. I am an upholder, after all. Being a finisher definitely supports my somewhat frugal sensibilities and definitely my minimalist sensibilities. I do not have interest in trying lots of different shampoos, eye shadows, shoes or accessories for example. Maybe my finisher nature is why! I used to follow a blogger who shared a favorite beauty product round up each month. I realized that it actually really stressed me out to think of having 7 - 10 NEW products every month. There's no way I would ever use all of that! Or want to store it all.

But my finisher nature doesn't apply to all things. I abandon books if I don't at least enjoy them somewhat.  I also don't mind getting rid of things if I'm not using them at all as opposed to feeling that I must "use it up."  I've never been a pack rat but especially after reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up I don't like to hold on to something because maybe I'll use it. Or maybe it's that I can't stand not making progress on finishing something so I'd rather just get rid of it.

I was chatting with Chris about this and he also thinks he's a finisher. In fact he said, "Yeah, didn't you notice how I put some water in the body wash to make it last longer?" He wants to use every last drop of that body wash. I actually did draw the line at overly-diluted body wash and cracked open the new bottle. 

I've been trying to think of how this insight about being a finisher should apply to my life. Part of the power of getting insight into my own personality is recognizing the person I am and not fighting against it. Maybe it will even bolster my commitment to having less and buying fewer things. By having fewer things I can enjoy finishing them or using them up. For the most part I can't think of habits or practices that I need to change but it's interesting to see some of my habits in light of finisher tendencies. 

What about you - do you think you're an opener or a finisher, and how does that affect you? 

 


Lately

Lately | RISING*SHINING Lately | RISING*SHINING Lately | RISING*SHINING

Relishing a weekend of family time and glorious weather.

Remembering that my favorite way to spend a Sunday afternoon is on a family bike ride.

Reading A Gentleman in Moscow.

Delighted by the idea of a personal reading syllabus, which Erica described on our recent podcast episode

Recommending Homeward Bound to any women who blog, read blogs or are active on social media. I loved this thought-provoking book about women and feminism, and the author's conclusions.  

Eating salads for lunch at work with feta, olives, wheat berries, toasted pecans, edamame and sometimes a hard boiled egg or tuna. Looking at this older blog post is reminding me to add bell peppers back to my salads!

Grateful to have two boys sleeping until 5:40 (or later!) most days. We used to get up at 4:30 OR EARLIER every day. I could not have imagined being in such a great sleep situation six months ago.

Singing the praises of the sleep coach we worked with last summer to anyone who will listen. 

Loving the grain silos near our house. I might be nurturing a mild obsession and I'm thinking of a way to get a large format picture of them in my house.

Checking Mint daily.

Choosing my purchases carefully. (No personal allowance spending so far this month!)

Dipping my toes into some freelance writing work.

Exchanging regular Voxer messages with so many good friends. And just got my mom on board, too. 

Listening to How I Built This, Call Your Girl Friend, #amwriting, and Pantsuit Politics.

Laughing over this shirt and how perfect it would be for Cedric. He loves to walk around with his TWO stuffed animal cats clutched to his chest. 

Looking forward to bookclub this week. I didn't make time to read 1984 but am looking forward to the discussion. 

Planning to help the boys make some simple Valentine's cards for their classmates.

Running slower at Orange Theory these days. I aggravated a tiny muscle in my hip (the TFL), most likely from over use. ARG. 

Working hard to keep our weekly grocery bill under $120 - a FEAT for us! We had been averaging $180 per week.

Finding that we can get by just fine.

Making use of what we already have in the pantry and freezer.

Still thinking about this first interview on Fresh Air and this one on Hidden Brain

Hoping to fit in some movie dates to see Hidden Figures and The Lego Batman Movie

Ending the weekend by wrapping this up, setting out my gym clothes for my 5 am class in the morning and reading.

Pleasantly surprised to have found that Mondays are kind of my favorite lately.

Happy Monday!


Goals - February 2017

Goals - February 2017 | RISING*SHINING
I'm heading into February feeling a bit weary - and it's only the second month of the year! I've been putting in at least a couple of hours of creative work (podcasting, blogging, writing, Copper Quail Style) most evenings and usually a bit of time on the weekends as well. Plus all of the news is weighing heavily on me. Whew!

I've always found joy in small things and it's advice I'll readily repeat to others. So perhaps this month is a good time to recommit to my 2017 goal of choosing gratitude. Despite the heavy happenings in our world I can count many, many things for which I am grateful. 

Big things happening in February:

+ Celebrating two family birthdays and my in-laws' FIFTIETH wedding anniversary! 

+ Valentine's Day! Not a huge holiday in our house but we like to make it special for the boys in some way. Plus we'll buy or preferably make Valentines for the boys to exchange with friends at school. 

In February I choose to...

+ Moderate my news intake. In recent years I've read enough news or listened to news podcasts to stay informed but have mostly stayed engaged at a distance. In the past few weeks I have been reading the news daily and it's been emotionally overwhelming, draining and honestly terrifying. I want to be engaged, and I have been calling my representatives at least once per week, but it's not sustainable for me to be so engaged. 

+ Finish our 2016 family photo book. I've been working on this during one lunch hour per week at work so I have a great start. Here's a full post on how I manage our family photos including making an annual photo book. 

+ Plan the 2017 Matrimoney editorial calendar with Chris. Erica and I do a great job of planning ahead for The Girl Next Door Podcast. I need to do this with my other co-host ;).

+ Set up a system to keep our bird feeders full. For my birthday I received gift cards to Wild Birds Unlimited (a favorite). I added another hummingbird feeder and two seed feeders to our backyard. Now we have SO many birds and the bird feeders need to be filled a few times a week. I want to keep the feeders full but not spend a ton of money. I also want to figure out a bird seed storage solution.

Recurring monthly goals:

+ Spend 15 minutes each day on creative writing. This is any writing that's just for me. It could be blogging, writing in the boys' memory journal or working on an essay.

Update: I'm doing this about every other day.

+ Make Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings for work and leave Thursday and Friday open. As part of CHOOSING family and writing I want to get my work done for my podcasts and Copper Quail Style early in the week so that evenings later in the week are free. It's easy to put this work off to another night since timing is flexible but getting it done earlier will mean I can relax sooner.

Update: Ugh, not doing a great job of this yet.

+ Check Mint at least once each week. To CHOOSE savings I need to be mindful of every transaction and stick to my monthly personal allowance budget.

Update: Yes! Doing this really helped us to stay within our budget in January. 

 

How are you doing? What things are you grateful for and what good things are you looking forward to in February?

Happy February!