Monthly 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!


What I spent: January 2017

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In December, Chris and I had our annual goals and budget meeting. We reviewed our budget (kept in an Excel spreadsheet) and made sure each category of spending aligned correctly with a budget in Mint. We made a few changes and did some general tidying to our budget - it was so satisfying!

So January felt like a "fresh" start to our budget (always appealing) plus Chris and I made a goal of spending very little of our personal allowance money. As a result I've been tracking every dollar we/I spend in Mint - and I have been loving it.

We are each budgeted $150/month of personal allowance money. It's what we use if we buy coffee or a meal out or want to buy anything beyond groceries and what we need to have around the house. Even though $150 seems like a lot to me we both find ourselves over-spending most months. While at the same time neither of us feels like we are extravagant spenders! 

By tracking every dollar we spent this month we have both stayed well within our personal allowance budgets. PLUS we've stayed within other budgets like groceries, household services (lawn care, cleaners, other things that come up) and for home supplies (lightbulbs, etc. plus disposable diapers and wipes).

Our month of "no extra spending" was a failure in that we did each spend personal allowance money. But it was a huge success in that neither of us over-spent and it feels like we're establishing new habits of tracking every dollar. Something that helped me stay within my personal allowance budget was making sure that I reimbursed myself for things like gifts and business expenses (for my podcasts). We have separate savings accounts for those and I always mean to rectify the spending but often think, "Oh it'll work out." And what works out is that I overspend my personal allowance. No more!

Anyway, I thought it might be interesting to share how I spent my personal allowance money this month. Perhaps it will be a recurring monthly feature. It's certainly a good way to stay accountable to my budget!

Personal allowance spending in January 2017: 

$24.33 - 2017 Nikki McClure calendar for my office

$17.32 - brunch out with a dear friend in Tucson. This charge is a little annoying because we actually went out at the end of December so it should have been a December expense but it didn't hit until January. 

$10 - Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art to see Push Comes to Shove: Women and Power (amazing)

$7.20 - coffee and gelato post-museum with a feisty friend

$3.76 - hot tea at book club. Normally I'd get a beer and I definitely could have bought nothing...but I didn't.

$6.27 - Phoenix Women's March small registration donation + online service fee.

$39.97 - printing my Women's March poster and having it mounted on foam board at Office Max 

$10.78 - beer and a slice of pizza at book club happy hour

$7.20 - iced cold brew + delicious blondie during a Girl Next Door Podcast work session

Total spent: $126.25/$150

Even though I ended up spending more than I thought I would I feel good about it! My Women's March poster was a bit of an unexpected expense and the most expensive thing I bought. Totally worth it. I'm saving the ~$24 "left over" in my personal savings account for a rainy day.

I'm interested to see if I can remain on budget for my personal allowance going forward. One-hundred and fifty dollars can go alarmingly fast, all the more reason to track every dollar.


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!