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Archive for the ‘money’ Category

Relationships

Relationships – that is my word for 2020.  I love goals, action/strategic plans and all that stuff.  I hear the groans, but I am a sucker for a good planner.  Plus I don’t actually achieve many of my lofty ambitions, but I like the thought and planning behind it all.  I just happen to suck at the execution.  “To thine own self be true.”  Yep, execution is my Achilles heel.

I have tried this picking a word to be my theme for the year.  In 2019 about midway, I chose “journey” because I was on quite the journey. This year, my word is “relationships”.  The more I have been thinking about this word, the more I like it.  There is so much I need to do with various relationships in my life, but two are first and foremost:  money and food.

I need to improve my relationship with money so I never get myself in dire straits due to my own foolish spendthrift ways.  I would like to say that I am cured, but I am not.  I have bills to pay, savings to create, a retirement looming sooner than I care to admit. My 401k paints a pretty rosy picture if I croak by 84.  I would like to see 90 plus what if the stock market tanks again or I have significant health issues? I need a back-up/margin of error/robust savings.

I started with You Need a Budget.  Shit, it is a mind teaser.  Since I failed Accounting in college and barely scraped by Economics (mostly because I was sleeping with a grad student who tutored me through it), this struggle with YNAB is not too surprising.  But my brain needs to learn new things, so I will push through.  It is encouraging (?) to see folks on the FB page confessing it took them several tries before it clicked.

Next on my relationship list is food.  My relationship with food is improving.  I have never eaten as healthy as I am eating today.  Corinne Crabtree, the weight loss coach, said something so true about my food choices.  She said that if it came from the ground or has eyes, eat that.  That is basically the most diet advice she gives.  This has been what I have been focused on doing lately.  Good, natural food –  no processed meats, reduced meat, no processed foods with additives, preservatives and the like.  I am following along with the Mediterranean Diet guidelines which hopefully will yield results.

I have my sugar addiction (another relationship, but a bad one) tamed for the moment.  I cook virtually all of my food.  Take-out is non-existent with me and dining out is a big, rare treat.  However, like any addict, I know I could lapse easily.

Right now my brain has been telling me to have a drink after work.  It’s a new mind worm from my inner devil.  I rarely drink and my brain is saying, “Have a cosmo and unwind.”  Yeah, that cosmo is full of sugar.  Then it swaps to “then have some red wine because that is on the Mediterranean Diet”.  Yeah, I have a $20 bottle, nothing cheap and I don’t drink enough to make it worthwhile to open it.  I don’t want those extra calories.  Ugh.

Just like any addict, I need to take it one day at a time.  I need to divert my mind from the cravings.  I need to plan, make healthy choices and think calmly about how my stomach feels before and after a meal.  Not too full either way is my goal.

I gained 15 pounds last year due to stress eating.  I have to stop gobbling food and drinking when I am stressed or happy.  I must learn to treat food only as fuel and not my dopamine fix.  That is one of my key relationship goals this year.

Tied to the weigh issue is another relationship for me to improve:  my body/health.  I love my body, no matter how much she weighs.  She has given birth to two beautiful, healthy kids.  She has remained healthy no matter how poorly I have treated her.  I need to treat her better by getting into shape, getting complete physicals and making sure her fuel is top-notch. Otherwise how will I hit 90?

In a moment of inspired insanity, I committed to running a corporate 5k run in April.  I have started training this week.  I want to run with all my colleagues.  My boss is a fitness empress — she’ll run that damn thing in about 10 minutes.  I just want to finish it without paramedics. I am using the None 2 Run program for this insane goal.

Personal relationships fall into my 2020 goals also.  I want to make new friends in my new locale plus maintain the existing ones.  I have a distant cousin nearby that my Aunt recently told me about.  I have her phone number, so I need to call her and see where that leads.  There is a lot to be thought about in personal relationships, so more will come as the year moves forward. The Hunter and I have had some interesting conversations as we feel out this new phase of our relationship. Hey, Love – I am talking about us – LOL.

2019 was a big year of change for me.  I truly want 2020 to be one of re-grouping.  That is why I like my word.  Relationships tie into this re-grouping and re-centering as I settle down into my next chapter.

What is your word?

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Photo by Brittney Burnett on Unsplash

 

Big Chunk

I have been procrastinating about paying down some of my debt and dealing with my finances.  I need to reconcile and check on my spending, update my budget and debt payoff spreadsheet.  Very mundane stuff.  Here it is the 10th of the month and I really want to have this done right at the end of the month.  I am late.

Tonight I asked myself why am I stalling?  What is preventing me from taking care of my personal business?  Why don’t I want to attack this debt?  I have the money put together to pay down 25% of my debt.

I decided it’s just old habits that are hard to die.  I am not feeling anxious about any of this, so I simply pulled out the laptop and got to work.  Even though it is a true pain in the ass to login and make a one-time payment to the IRS, I did.  I paid off half my debt to them.  HALF!  That is quite a chunk of change! Next month I will pay off the rest of my 2016 taxes and be able to tackle 2017.  Yippee!!

Next I paid off the balance on one credit card that had just over $1,000 on it. The interest is high and I wanted the sense of relief to have one card 100% paid off.  DONE!

Then I paid off the amounts I had put on my other credit cards for my upcoming Christmas trip.  Hotel and airfare – PAID!

Well look at that!  I am making quite a bit of progress.  My bills are paid.  I feel good about it.  Things feel manageable.  I still have things to do like my bookkeeping for Maggie & Co.  I need to comb through my budget and spending with a fine tooth comb to make sure I am staying on track.

Part of my problem is “out of sight, out of mind”.  In that if I do not keep my debt in front of me to remind me that things are not hunky dory, sunshine and unicorns,  I could feel more inclined to spend money I don’t have.

Saving is not really in the picture right now.  Yes, I put money in my HSA and my 401K, but it is mostly so I get the match from my employer.  No sense in letting free money go by the wayside.  Plus that money is for my future.

But for now, I have spent about an hour working on the finances.  It is a start and I did stay focused on the important stuff.  I have to think about somehow patting myself on the back for this.  It is definitely progress.

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Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Staying on Track

I have been trying very hard to adhere to a spending fast. Some weeks are better than others, but all in all, I have improved. I only shop with a list and rarely add any extras. This time of year is a true test of my resolve.

I spent five hours shopping today and spent about $200. I did OK, but I did go AWOL from my list. My list included one pair of jeans. I ended up with two (one is a chocolate denim that goes great with an existing jacket). I added two shirts not on the list and bought two pairs of booties, not one. I also bought four Christmas gifts.

I have to say I got a lot of bang for my bucks. That $200 included: a hardcover book, 2 pairs of the aforementioned booties, jeans and shirts and the gifts. A total of 12 items. Yesterday I used my store credit to buy my Toys for Tots donation for work, so that is no money out of my pocket. The store credit is the result of returning a work gift a few months ago.

A recent habit is that if I buy clothes, I have to get rid of an equal number. Today was a bit tricky, but I did find four items to donate plus the booties I tossed because they are unwearable.

That is all the not-so-bad of the day. I also abstained from buying a new handbag when I realized I was happy with an existing one I had stopped using. The worse part is that now my closet consists of clothing in four sizes. Yes, I moved up one more size. Ugh, ugh, ugh. I am not putting a ton of guilt on myself right now and I am trying to be a bit forgiving, but this has to stop.

This week was a bit tough on the exercise front because I was waking up with migraines several mornings. I combated it with a new 30 minute walk at lunch. My diet had way too many carbs this week, so I need to cut those back and go back to more veggies over everything else.

I am not sure what works best for me on the diet front. The last time, six years ago, it was exercise combined with portion control. Plain and simple. I lost 40 pounds. I have tried intermittent fasting with limited results. Whole 30 resulted in about a 10 pound loss in 30 days, but what a miserable diet. My plan is to be more plant-based. Lots of veggies, limited carbs and meat. Thanksgiving knocked me off track. I have discovered if I have sweets in the house, I will eat them. All of them. Quickly.

I am also recognizing that a lot of my food issues are tied to emotional eating. I feel good, let’s eat. I feel bad, let’s eat. I’m sad, give me sugar. I’m happy, let’s celebrate with food or drink. I need to figure out how to break that habit. Right now, I am sitting here after a filling meal and debating if I want another cosmo or a dessert smoothie. Why? I’m not hungry or thirsty. But something in me wants a hit for the dopamine fix.

I am giving myself a little space before I tackle my next round of goals. I am not spending too much. I rarely eat out which is a huge savings. I take my lunch to work every day. I don’t shop – today was a big exception. My expenses have plummeted, so financially I believe things are under control. I just need to start making payments rather than hoarding the money.

I have no complaints (other than the weight gain). Time to focus on my health – that’s one of my big focus areas for 2020.

2020 Road Map

When reading Sheri Salata’s book, The Beautiful No,  I jotted down some notes and ideas about what would be my focus for 2020.  I accomplished quite a bit for 2019 , but it is time to look ahead and set some new milestones for myself.

One thing I am realizing is that my days off of work are precious.

I spent 17 years of little accountability for my work time.  My days were my own and I had bosses who did not have the time or interest in tracking if I was working, where I was working, etc.  I could work from home or whatever hours I wanted, provided I produced results.

Anywhoo, now I have a 9-5 job with a steady paycheck which comes with expectations that I will be in my seat at a certain time and until a certain time.  Even though I am exempt, I fill out a time card tracking my hours and the projects I work on.  Ergo, my days off or mucking around outside the office have become rarer.

I need to be selfish with my time off.  My evenings, weekends and PTO days are precious commodities which have to be used prudently. I need to prioritize what I really want to do.

For 2020, I want to focus on three key areas:

  1. Health/Wellness
  2. Money & Abundance
  3. Adventure/Discovery & New Friends

Health/Wellness.  From listening to my podcasts, I recognize that weight loss is a journey and not a number.   I need to create healthy habits and create a determined focus on adhering to those habits.  These habits will center on honoring my body with good food, movement and medical check-ups.

The tools I will use for this area of my journey include my podcasts for inspiration and encouragement; a nutritionist for guidance and eventually add in a gym for variety and classes.  The gym will overlap in my Adventure/New Friends category.

The habits that I will focus on for 2020 include:

  • Limit my eating out so I can control the quality and quantity of my food (this also ties into my frugal habits)
  • Limit alcohol (not too hard since I only have about 1 drink a week right now)
  • Move my body 5x-6x a week for a minimum of 30 minutes (so far, so good because I am doing this now)
  • Stretching/yoga for more flexibility
  • Water, water, water – make sure I am hydrating enough
  • Take a daily multi-vitamin
  • Focus on eating a primarily plant-based diet.  I will still have meat, but I will work on limiting it to 1 meal a day (eggs may be excluded…)
  • I will stop eating 3 hours before bed
  • I will sleep a minimum of 7 hours a night
  • I will journal about how I am doing with all of this at least 3x a week (it doesn’t mean blogging because I keep a small weight loss journal also).

Other things I will do over the course of 2020 for my Health/Wellness include a full round of medical check-ups.  Now I have decent insurance, so I might as well use it.

Money & Abundance. For some reason, the word “abundance” stirs uneasy feelings in me.  I think it is because I see abundance as an accumulation of STUFF or DEBT and not an abundance of savings, safety and comfort.  I will work on changing my perception during 2020.

I need to stay frugal as a lifestyle and not a short term solution.  I need to discover other things to fill my void rather than spending or buying things.  I have a tendency to want to solve things with either comfort food or a purchase rather than stepping back and asking myself if it is really necessary.

I want to focus on getting to a debt-free life.  I need to pay off all of my debts and create a savings mindset.  This is where I will create abundance — through savings, not obtaining stuff.

The tools I will use to help me with Money & Creating Abundance are my worksheets and I have some Facebook groups and podcasts for support.  I have to track my money – each and every penny.

My 2020 Money & Abundance habits include:

  • Continue with comparing my actual monthly spending to my budgets for accountability.
  • Implement the “envelope system” for my groceries and other discretionary spending.
  • Login to my bank account weekly to check in on the state of affairs
  • Take my lunch daily (this applies to Health/Wellness also)
  • Limit my dining out and take-out to only 2-3 times a month (ties to Health/Wellness)
  • Learn to love my new frugal lifestyle and creative hacks more than walking into a store.
  • Continue to use and develop my free resources (library, free concerts, art festivals) when seeking Adventure.

Adventure/Discovery & New Friends. I need to return to trying new activities.  By doing these new activities, I will meet new people and learn more about my new community.  I need to learn how to create, nurture and build deeper, lasting friendships. My habits will include:

  • Do things and plan things – spontaneity isn’t going to cut it.
  • Keep trying MeetUp activities and groups
  • Follow up when I meet new people
  • Say yes when invited to outings

My goal is 3-4 activities (primarily new stuff) every month.

Accountability:  There is no sense in creating new habits for this new portion of my journey unless I am willing to be accountable.  I have to track things so I will be able to accurately gauge how I am doing.

For Health/Wellness, I will create a chart so I can track:

  • How many weekly 30 minute workouts?
  • How many times did I dine out?
  • How many plant-based meals per week?
  • How much meal prepping am I doing?
  • Weekly weigh-ins and measurements including my journaling
  • Seek one annual appointment in the following areas:  annual physical, flu shot, optometrist, gyn, dermatologist, nutritionist and dentist.

For Money/Abundance, my accountability will be:

  • Reconciling my budget versus actual spending
  • Using my envelope system
  • Tracking my debt reduction on a spreadsheet

For Adventure & Friends, my accountability will be:

  • Keeping a calendar, a nice one, that shows my events (past, present & future)
  • Making sure I follow up with the new folks I will be meeting
  • Throw a party for myself at some point — nothing big, it can be anything, but by next Fall, I should be able to invite local folks to a get-together.

This new roadmap is up to me.  I am the CEO of my life.  I have to make the decisions and hold myself accountable.  The buck stops here.  This is the next phase of my journey.  I am excited about it.  It’s all about me.  It’s all about being selfish.

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Photo by Noemí Jiménez on Unsplash

 

 

Stuck?’

I am in neutral gear.  I don’t feel stuck, but I do feel like I am just idling.  I haven’t tackled my debt situation aggressively.  I have money sitting in the bank waiting to be sent to the IRS for my tax bill.  I haven’t gone into hyper-frugal mode, although I must pat myself on the back for also not spending money on frivolous things.  I have been ignoring my bank account and managing my money.

On the plus side, I did complete my 401k rollover and closed my personal 401k which saves me $$.  I am enrolled in my company 401k so I can get their full match and I adjusted my withholding at work.  I have stayed out of stores for the most part which is important because I am an over-spender.  I feel like I am over-spending on groceries.  I haven’t been wasting much food, however, so I tell myself that I am still gathering my basics.  That excuse has come to an end because my cupboards are full.  I am not eating out more than twice a month (when I pay my way).  I simply haven’t taken any bold action steps on the money front.

What do I need to do on the money front?

  • Make a nice payment to the IRS so I see some aggressive progress.  I could pay off about 30% of it right now.  I need to simply get off my ass, login and do it.
  • Jump on QuickBooks and get my Maggie & Co. books updated.  In order to immediately file my tax returns in January, I need to start the prep work now, so it won’t be overwhelming come January.
  • Move some money into my hidden emergency fund stash so it isn’t in my general checking account where it could be more at risk of being accidentally spent.
  • Tell the Hunter he needs to pay me for the work I have done.  He apparently is having a cash flow issue, but that’s not my concern.  He needs to pay me, however, I need to ask also.
  • Reconcile how my spending is going in November.  I did this for October and it was a helpful snapshot of understanding where my money is going.

When I read the above accomplishments, I have to step back and say, “wait a minute, I did get quite a bit of stuff done!”  Maybe I am just being hard on myself and I am being impatient again.

Next I have my weight loss efforts also stuck in idle.  I have taken some positive steps.  I get to the apartment gym every morning for 30 minutes with 40-45 minute walks on both Saturday and Sunday.  I alternate between weights and cardio with an emphasis on weights/resistance.

I have shifted my diet to more plant-based, no processed foods.  I make my own hummus (super easy), beans (black and kidney), and I am food prepping regularly to eliminate the opportunity to make bad choices.  I have no more cold cuts, little meat (once a day if we don’t count eggs).  I focus on veggies with some fruit.  I still have some Greek yogurt, limited carbs (rice, pasta, sprouted grain bread, etc.) and sugar.  Ah, sugar.  The crack cocaine of my life.  It sneaks in daily.

I have started listening to some podcasts for inspiration.  I found two that resonate with me.  One is the pragmatic, professional “Cut the Fat” with Blythe Wagner and Ray Hinish.  They do not advocate one diet plan over another, and after two episodes I find that I like what they have to say.

The other podcast that speaks to me is by crazy, foul-mouth Corinne Crabtree’s podcast called “Losing 100 lbs with Phit-n-Phat”.  She is a life/diet coach and yes, she is always trying to sell you her coaching, but she also talks about mindset, creating good habits and she reads the same business books I have read.  I like the fact that she is taking the concepts of big productivity and mindset authors to apply with her Tribe of clients.  She likes Grant Cardone’s 10x, Jon Acuff’s Finish and more. She wants you to shift your mindset, so she talks a lot about the why of emotional eating.  I have figured out my over-eating has a lot to do with emotions.

The first step with Corinne is planning.  I can’t even do that yet.  I downloaded her free pdf to get started and I can’t even commit to planning what I will eat for the next 24 hours.  Sigh.  I have good intentions but then the Hunter comes over as he leaves on a hunting trip, we have an unexpected free lunch at work, someone brought in pastries.  You can see I am chock full of excuses, so I realize that I don’t have my mindset, my WHY, my determination to begin. That makes me sad and disappointed.

I am also realizing that this is a life shift and my weight loss journey will be a long one.  It will require patience and that is something in low supply for me.  I need to be kinder to myself.  This post by Steve Pavlina was helpful.

I must do it.  Fuck, the Hunter weighs less than me right now and that was a very sad moment for me.  I just need to sit down, figure out my WHY and then get to it.  I have started reading Sheri Salata’s book, A Perfect No, and it is speaking to me.  I plan on losing myself in that book this weekend after my walk, of course.

I wrote this earlier today and as I prepare this for posting, I realize what I need.  Patience.  A heck of a lot more patience with myself.  Life is a journey, not a sprint, so I just need to make sure that every day I am doing what I need to do and try to improve my lifestyle by 1%.  Just 1% because the results will accumulate. That’s from my potty-mouth diva, Corrine.

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Photo by Mourad Saadi on Unsplash

 

Bliss

Here I sit on my balcony watching the sun set. I just polished off a cosmo. A gentle breeze is wafting over me. I am so peaceful and happy and that is not just due to the alcohol.

I have been crunching my numbers to extricate myself from my debt hole. It is all falling into place. I will hopefully be debt free (excluding car) by next summer. My burden is lifting.

I rolled my 401k into the company plan thus eliminating all the fees and responsibilities I had. According to their calculator, I will be fine if I continue as planned. My fingers are crossed. I don’t want to fall back on my kids.

I have been going to the gym EVERY weekday. I only have 30 minutes, but I try to makes them count. Add in longer walks on the weekend and this week I finally feel a difference in my strength. The scale hasn’t budged, but fuck the scale for now.

I feel joy, a lightness and such incredible relief. I am so very thankful. So let me enjoy this breeze that is finally bringing hints of Fall and be grateful for this reset. Thank you, Karma. I am blessed.

Job Stability

Job stability is always an issue.  I don’t care who, what, when or where you work — job stability should always be lurking in the back of your mind.  It’s on my mind right now for several reasons.

  1.  My first review and goal-setting is coming up.  When I look into 2020, I have things that will keep me barely occupied.  Not enough in my estimation.  2021 has some good projects but not too earth-shattering for my position.
  2. My company is about to lay off some folks.  It’s a group that hasn’t been producing income.  Gulp.
  3. I finally got the overdue money from Maggie & Co.  This will help my IRS bill fortunately.  I have to chat with my accountant before I go crazy and send the IRS a big payment, but I’m looking forward to it.

I have mentioned to my boss twice that I “still have some capacity” for additional work.  She hasn’t come up with anything extra for me. I would like to stretch and be busier than I am, but after two mentions it is time for me to shut up.  Sometimes I am just sitting  reading the NY Times or some online BS.  I hate that.  I am just not a person who enjoys being paid to do nothing.  It worries me.

Granted, this is a brand new role and they haven’t had someone in it.  I have worked on several things and have some other long-term projects that I can pick at, but there really isn’t a tremendous work flow.  At least not a work volume that I am accustomed to.  I am not too worried.  My boss seems to like me tremendously and I have won over my admin (remember, she was the one who ignored me for the first 30-45 days).

Perhaps this goal-setting review process will help, but I have never seen those exercises produce any meaningful insights.  For now, I will revel in a steady paycheck, a 10 minute commute and great health insurance.  Hopefully I will get my financial house in order quickly and be ready for whatever comes next.  I am very, very grateful for what I have. When I added up my Maggie & Co income, it would not have sustained me this year.  Yes, I am very fortunate for this second chance.  Thank you!

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Photo by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash

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