Goals

What I spent: April 2017

What I spent: April 2017 | RISING*SHINING

Tracking our spending assiduously, including my own personal allowance spending, continues to be so satisfying. I'm finding it easy in some ways to stick (pretty much) to my budget of $100 of personal allowance spending per month, but hard in other ways.

There are SO! MANY! things I want to buy during the month. By sharing my purchases at the end of the month I might make it look easy to stick to a personal allowance budget but please know that it is not without plenty of restraint!

I've noticed that I'm especially bombarded with "wants" scrolling through Instagram or Pinterest. No surprise but it does leave me thinking of ways to avoid triggering a "buy" impulse. I've shared my method of snapping a photo instead of making a purchase when I'm in a store. I now have collections on my phone for DECOR, CLOTHES, and PLANTS. Those seem to be the things where I'm most tempted to spend money. That helps but wanting to spend up to and beyond my monthly budget remains something I have to actively fight. I've started unsubscribing to brand Instagram feeds for that reason. Instead, I'll try to save a photo to Pinterest of something I like from the brand and then unsubscribe from the feed. 

What all this makes me thing of is how incredibly, and perhaps grossly, privileged I am. On the one hand I can fret that there are so many things that others have that I "can't have." On the other hand, I can think of how rich you have to be to have a budget of $100 per month to spend on whatever you want. I recognize how luxurious this is. But then when you surround yourself with others living the same luxurious life it's alarming how easy it is to feel that I don't have enough.

I try to practice gratitude regularly for all that I have, to get perspective on how wealthy we are and to look for fulfillment outside of material possessions. But I do want to be honest that there are plenty of things I'd love to buy and often wish that I could.   

What I spent in April:

$10.88 - vintage Girl Scout Handbook found while antiquing. I love finding old books on topics dear to me. I was a Girl Scout until my junior year in high school and have fond memories of earning badges and camping in the woods. I'm still friend with many of the girls from Troop 1039.

$16.71 - embroidery supplies to work on the embroidery pattern that I purchased in March. I started the project in Austin and spent a few hours over the week stitching on my parents beautiful screened-in back porch and looking at the Texas oak trees.

$3.99 - coffee at Starbucks for myself and one of Dash's preschool teachers. She mentioned she hadn't had time to have coffee that day and I said that no one who teaches preschoolers should be without coffee.

$12.62 - breakfast at the airport on my way to Austin.

$18.78 - breakfast tacos and coffee with a dear girl friend while home in Austin, my treat. We arrived for breakfast and stayed until they were starting to bring out fajitas for the lunch crowd around us. 

$5.41 - coffee + cookie treat during a work day which felt so luxurious. Technically I could not include this in my monthly spending because my dad always likes to slip me a $20 when I'm home so I used "dad dollar" cash. But to be conservative I'm counting it against my monthly spending.

$15.00 - mascara x 2 (because I'm trying to change my mascara more frequently instead of using the same one for more than a year) and cuticle clippers.

$31.68 - dinner at Postino to celebrate a girl friend's birthday. The best bruschetta.

$2.11 - again with the Starbucks! Small cup of coffee. In my defense, a colleague asked me to connect with someone they know for a networking/informational interview. 

Total spent: $117.18 out of $100 budgeted. 

 

In March $101.35 out of $100 budgeted

In February 2017: $78.57 of $100 budgeted

In January 2017: $126.25 of $150 budgeted


Goals - May 2017

Goals - May 2017 | RISING*SHINING

I love noting the four seasons throughout the year, and perhaps even more so as I get older. And while technically the first day of summer comes to Arizona on the same day it does to the rest of the northern hemisphere it always seems to be very summery by late June. Which all means that May is when I need to start gearing up for the HEAT and SUN of summer. 

Last summer was my most enjoyable Arizona summer yet. I think I'm finally figuring out how to embrace the summer heat. Frose helps. As does remembering that it will cool off again which is weirdly implausible to believe when it's been over 110 degrees for days on end. But let's not get ahead of ourselves! There are still plenty of pleasant days and coolish mornings and evenings to be enjoyed. And I'm percolating a summer surviving and thriving plan that I'll hope to share here when it's ready. 

As we head into May I'm not feeling terribly pressured to do much "extra." Chris is always super busy during the final two weeks of the semester so our normal tasks of going to the grocery store, packing lunches, keeping the house moderately tidy and getting to the gym feel nearly heroic. 

Big things happening in May:

+ End of the semester craziness. Chris has early morning commitments, evening commitments and weekend commitments. All the commitments!

+ Chris will officially start summer break in mid-May. None of the commitments!

+ Mother's Day

In May I choose to:

+ Sort through the boys clothes. The change of seasons is always a good time for this. 

+ Paint my nails weekly. When I'm in the habit of painting my nails I don't pick at my cuticles. Not painting my nails + end of the semester busyness...less than stellar cuticles. 

+ Go on evenings walks once a week-ish. As I've been working to open up some time in my schedule I found that I can make an evening walk happen every week or so. It feels so good to have some time to think, to be active and to spend time outside.

+ Research getting a plaque made for my book club. We got the OK from the owner of the pub where we meet monthly to get a plaque for the booth where we always sit. I'm SUPER excited about this and leading the charge. Any favorite quotes about books and friends that we should put on the plaque?

+ Put together my Summer Surviving and Thriving Plan. Possible alternative title: Summer Hygge. Inspiration from last year's GND episode on Summer Coziness and this book. I even have a phone date with a girl friend in Austin to discuss how we will rock the summer. 

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: Essentially doing horrible on this. Hoping to recommit this month.

+ Make Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings for work and leave Thursday and Friday open. 

Update: Lately, perhaps because of the busy season, I have so little energy to do any work post-bedtime! But I do think once our lives settle a bit during the summer it will be easier to find motivation.

+ 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 a habit I'm keeping up and I absolutely love it. It's keep us more accountable for our spending which makes me feel very in control of our money.

 

Happy May!


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!