Goals

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!

 


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!


The Women's March | January 21, 2017

The Women's March | RISING*SHINING

On Saturday morning I bundled up (which counts as a few layers plus a fleece here in Arizona), kissed Chris and my boys goodbye, and headed downtown for the Phoenix Women's March. On the way I stopped to have a poster made of the awesome graphic shared by Joanna, which I also had printed in a smaller size to frame. 

I hadn't been sure what to expect but when I got downtown the parking lots were full and people were streaming towards the capitol. Young people, old people, families, people of all colors and abilities. I nearly started crying! At the capitol I met up with friends, took in the scene and marched through downtown. It was my first political protest and it was such a positive and invigorating experience. Throughout the day I saw pictures from friends or on social media of marches around the country - and the world! My own aunt and uncle marched in Paris. It was inspiring and powerful.

Here is what I wrote in my own social media posts about why I marched:

"Marching for equality, kindness and love. And because while our country is divided on some issues I reject the notion that we are "carnage." If we were we would not have had a peaceful transfer of power between two vastly different ideologies or peaceful protests across the country showing resilience. I am proud of our country and committed to being engaged to make it better."

Posting about something political on my blog makes me feel a little anxious. Not because I'm afraid to talk about politics or that I don't have strong opinions. But because I'd prefer to talk to you about politics and these very important issues over coffee and when I can listen to what you have to say, too. Social media is such a one way conversation and that's not the kind of conversation I want to have, or that we need to have.

But.

I decided I did want to share this experience because I feel that it is so important, and because this space is where I chronicle my life and thoughts. Participating in the Women's March is something that is going to stay with me. So is choosing action and I want to share how I'm going forward.

To choose action I am committing to:

+ Saving the phone numbers of my U.S. and state elected officials to my phone. I've saved the U.S. senators and representative numbers already and have made use of them. This week I'll save those for my state representatives. 

+ Calling my U.S. and state elected officials each twice per month. I'm thinking I'll alternate Fridays: one Friday I'll call my U.S. officials, the next I'll call my state officials. 

+ Subscribing to email list serves for organizations I want to support. I've already signed up for several including the Arizona Democrats, Arizona Planned Parenthood and the NAACP. I also the a weekly email from Wall of Us

+ Making donations throughout the year. Chris and I budgeted $600 for donations this year. (We chatted about our entire 2017 budget in a recent Matrimoney episode.)

+ Staying informed. The abundance of fake and skewed news (from both sides) is alarming and infuriating. Although I've mostly disconnected from the news I do want to find ways to stay aware. I get theSkimm daily and subscribe to Slate Political Gabfest (admittedly has a liberal bias, probably why I like it), Pantsuit Politics (many of you recommended this to me, thank you, LOVE it! Highly recommend, includes views from the left and right) and NPR Politics. I haven't been listening much since the election but maybe I'll tune back in. I also have an online subscription to the New York Times. 

+ Share what I'm doing and stay accountable. I have a circle of friends who I've been texting what I plan to do. We've agreed to keep checking in with each other to be sure we're following through on what we committed to. Sharing my commitments here also makes me feel accountable.

Do you have any other ideas for me or tips on what makes the biggest impact? 

If you feel energized and moved to take action I encourage you to make concrete plans for what you want to do. Then tell a friend and hold yourselves accountable. Sharing an article, picture or video on social media feels good but if that's where the action stops it doesn't achieve much. We can't confuse sharing an article that supports our views with taking action. Change comes from conversations, phone calls, donations, showing up, volunteering and voting.


Goals - January 2017

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And just like that, 2017 is coming at us!

I'm back at work this week but to be honest I'm feeling a bit eager to get back to routine. We had a great holiday but it felt demanding. We had full days with seeing family and friends, and the boys needed a lot from us these two weeks - in the completely normal way that a two year old and a three year old need their parents. Even though I'd say we had a good, fun holiday I wouldn't say we had a restful, easy holiday.

January marks a change for Team Wharton since Chris's glorious sabbatical is over. He'll be back at his campus office with meetings and commitments. And we'll no longer have a parent working from home and attending to home tasks (prepping lunches, laundry, keeping the house tidy. Chris is amazing at all of this!). But I do get my carpool partner back so maybe we can find a new podcast to look forward to and fit in some coffee dates.

For the past two years I've shared monthly goals along with big things happening that month and recurring monthly goals, usually exercise, blogging and podcasting. I'm realizing that those need updating. Exercise and podcasting are now solidly habit so I won't include them as recurring goals, but I am adding a couple new ones. This year, as I make my monthly goals, I want to be mindful of my intention of CHOOSE and will frame my goals that way. Excited to kick off my first monthly goals of 2017!

Big things happening in January:

+ Chris returns to work. Sad face!

In January I choose to:

+ Go with the new flow. We're returning to having two parents working full time outside of the house and I'm sure this will make life feel busier. We'll need to find our new routines for prepping for the next day and maintaining the house. I'm hoping we can also find ways to make getting home and dinner time not feel completely hectic (please tell me it's possible?!). Probably simple meals and Sunday meal prepping. 

+ Write and send all birthday and Christmas thank you notes. I still believe in the hand written thank you note! Also, a little sung perk of the birthday near Christmas is being able to send a combined thank you note.

+ Make a baby shower gift for a friend. We are going to try to buy locally or make as many gifts as possible this year. I have a couple simple sewing projects that I've been wanting to try and I think one would be perfect for a new baby.

+ Discretionary spending freeze. To kick off our savings Chris and I have a goal of no extra spending this month. There were a couple things we already had planned before coming up with this goal (out with dear friends visiting for the holidays, an art museum date with a friend) and we do have some gifts to buy. But everything else that isn't necessary can wait. I don't like to think of myself as a materialistic person but it does seem there is always something I feel that I need or want to buy. It's already been an exercise in restraint and patient just these few days of January!

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.

+ 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.

+ 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.

Happy January!