The Darling [Goals] of May

may“Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.” William Shakespeare

You may not be surprised to learn that the end of April and beginning of May have not been a calm time in the academic arena! Here, seniors get out early, so I had finals with them…then they did the lovely thing of blatantly cheating, so that was fun to deal with. BUT ENOUGH OF THAT! It’s over, done with, dealt with, and was a learning experience! Plus I still have some juniors to deal with for the next two weeks! I’m having the issue of balancing my work-life such that I’m actually able to keep my mind focused on the things I would like to achieve. That is an unofficial goal of May.

May Goals

  • Log into MFP every day and log all exercise/food intake
  • Read 2 books
  • Create a plan to buy a vehicle in 2016
  • Create debt repayment plan (for real this time)
  • Get down to the next weight “decade” (17_)
  • From May 14 check through May 31 check, use the jar method
  • Sort and organize my yarn stash/craft stuff

What are your May goals?

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May 2013 Recap

Like I promised on the first, I do believe in the power of positive thinking, and I think despite some terrible things this month, my overall outlook on life and the things that I do and don’t have control over has definitely markedly improved. I am considerably happier with my life now and am starting to feel more assertive and confident in who I am, what I deserve, and what I want to accomplish.

physically fit

  1. Have a balance of $1800 on my Discover Card
  2. Pay $250 of the $500 I owe my university
  3. Have $100 in my savings account

None of those things were accomplished. I ended up being a few hundred dollars short of income this month because my grandfather died (and I had to take off of work – I don’t get bereavement or sick days or anything) and because I got sick. I also ended up driving home a lot more this month because of my grandfather’s illness and because my family’s German foreign exchange student is leaving tomorrow 😦 More about my budget is below.

physically ffit

  1. Lose 13 lbs
  2. Log into MFP every day and log all exercise/food intake
  3. Do purposeful yoga at least 3x/wk and the Sun Saluation daily

I logged in every day for about the first week. I lost 2lbs? I gained 4 during the month and then lost those and the additional 2. I wish I would have done more yoga – I find it always really helps to center me, but keeping my wits was about all I accomplished 😛 Next month, however, bf seemed okay with the idea of going to a yoga class as a date (I love them, but I can’t do it regularly at $15/pop).

pphysically ffit

  1. Finish the book of Matthew
  2. Read Millionaire Next Door
  3. Attend Stanford virtual finance classes
  4. Write 15 blog posts (min)
  5. Meditate daily

HA! I did accomplish some things this month!!! I did finish the book of Matthew. It initially reminded me of a lot of leadership development books I had read, but then suddenly at the end (during the crucifixion and when the parables started becoming really heavy) it got…stressful? to read. And I wasn’t aware that the books after that are also telling this story. I will throw this out here that I was not raised in the church and have been going since February with bf and his family (Episcopalian). His mother gave me a Bible and we met with the deacon of the church. He suggested I read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Honestly it was a little relieving to know there’s going to be more about the crucifixion. It seemed…like there should be more than 10 pages on that (not being flip). I did write the blog posts! I think 3/week is something I can comfortably keep up for now so that will become a standing goal. Meditating daily was something that tied with my goals of thinking positively. I did a lot of reflection and a lot of journaling this month, and it has really helped. I was able to confront a lot of things that were holding my relationship with bf back, and a lot of things that were just holding me back as a person.

Miscellaneous:

I heard back from the job (didn’t get it 😦 ), applied for another that was filled before I got to it, and I’ve applied to a third I haven’t heard back from. The wedding I attended was a ton of fun! I ended up getting a dress for it at Marshall’s that I can also wear to work or church, so I’m pleased with it (natural waisted and teal). I also got a pair of nude pumps from Payless Shoe Store. They work with pretty much everything I own, because all other heels I owned were actually giant wedges or were 4” high, so I needed heels that were work appropriate etc. And this also works out because I have another wedding to attend in June! Multi-purpose dress! Rock of Ages was pretty cool! It’s the second broadway tour show I’ve seen (the other was Wicked in Edmonton).

So what about my budget? 

This month wasn’t awful budget-wise, but with having to pay May’s rent, June’s rent, and a deposit this month, it made my “three paycheck month” actually not that great. In fact, since I got paid the 31st and will be using that money for June bills, I’m not including all that in here at all! 

May Spending Recap 2013

Total Income: $1226.40 + $98 transfer from savings & Total Spent: $1377.33 for net difference of -$52.93. That $52.93 would be from the interest + $24.96 that was $20 on gas and $4.96 on food all used on my Discover Card. 

  • Rent/Internet– $760 – May + deposit for the new house!
  • Discover & Interest – $76.93 – $49 minimum + $27.93 in interest
  • Electricity – $59.18 – This is actually a lot less than I thought it would be; however, I expect the one coming up to be higher
  • Gas – $139.04 – I’m hoping this falls in June back down to under $100 because I’ll be going home a lot less and found a more efficient way to come back from work.
  • Medicine – $26.87 – I’m hoping I get my insurance straightened out so this falls to like $3/mo.
  • Food – $110.50 – This actually isn’t terrible for one person I suppose. It also includes eating out.
  • Phone – $50.59 – This is standardized and auto-withdraws every month.
  • Miscellaneous – $154.22 – About $60 of this is the wedding outfit + shoes + 2 birthday presents, $50 is Pop-A-Lock (I am so displeased about that y’all), and the rest was cat food, a new bra, and kitchen supplies (trashbags, paper towels, etc.)

Reflection: 

I’m hitting the point to where I really need to increase my available cash, and the only ways I can really see doing that are if I decrease my spending or increase my income. After discussing my finances with others and looking at it on paper, the only way I could cut my spending is to do a complete spending fast…and to be honest it seems a little more doable if I could increase my income in some manner, so that’s going to be one of my big focuses for June.

I’d like to live as a poor man with lots of money. – Pablo Picasso 

Save & Pay Plan

My morning generally includes something along the lines of 30 minutes to an hour of reading through posts of different sites I follow and reveling in their successes and learning from the tid bits they’re sharing. When it comes to the pf community I tend to circle around, a lot of the posts are regarding debt repayment.  I suppose it’s something I identify with somewhat because yes, I am in debt. And the more I see people paying off what they owe, the more I think “Why am I not doing that?” which caused me to reevaluate why exactly I wasn’t.

prioritize

So I went on a quest to figure out what my monetary priorities exactly are.

  1. Tuition for the Fall 2013 semester + $500 I owe my university – One of my big goals for 2013 was to graduate with no additional loans, so any time I think of a financial goal, my first thought isn’t “Pay off Discover!!!” it’s “Put away enough in tuition before my fee bill is due!!!” For a while I felt very guilty about this, and I honestly couldn’t tell you why. So the goal is to pay the $500 that I owe my university currently (so I suppose that counts as debt repayment too!) and $760 for my first tuition payment by August 8, 2013.
  2. Discover Card/Emergency Fund – The idea of not having an emergency fund at all is more disturbing to me than my DC balance. I know a lot of people may disagree with me on that point, but I’ve had too many emergencies arise in the last six months (replace all four tires, replace alternator, family illness, etc.) to be able to continue to live paycheck to paycheck with absolutely nothing in the bank. I will continue to make minimum payments on my DC at least through the end of 2013, and once my tuition is completely paid, start making more aggressive payments to have it finished off by the end of 2014.
  3. Student Loans + Interest – Once my DC is 75% paid off and my EF has a month’s worth of $ in it, I’ll begin to make more aggressive student loan payments (beyond the minimum). I know that the longer I wait, the more I will pay (in interest), but I would really rather build up my EF a  bit first.
  4. Big Purchases (car, computer) – As I mentioned above, there were a few large purchases that had to be made on my car, which has been ridden hard. My mom bought it used with the intention to use it to drive to work and back and make longer trips with while my dad used the truck to travel to and from work. When I went to Florida last summer, they lent me the car (my own actual car has a ~$600 repair sitting on it) and purchased a new one. I don’t anticipate more than a few years out of the car I am driving right now, and it was originally intended to be my younger brother’s…so the plan is to eventually fix my actual car. On another note, my laptop is about to start its fourth year of life. Between having access to my work computer and my smartphone, if my computer dies I could probably get along for a while without it (I mean, people have for years, right? Plus libraries do exist).

My priorities do not currently focus on obliterating my debts.

With this in mind, my goal won’t necessarily be to create a giant loan repayment plan, but a Save & Pay Plan. Half of my goals are savings oriented, the other half are debt-oriented, and with my current income (I did apply for another job, so cross your fingers!), I do need a highly detailed and controlled plan to guarantee I can accomplish at the very least my tuition payments. As I said before, I am finally caught up on bills (e.g. rent, insurance), so I can start planning ahead.

So full steam ahead on the Save & Pay Plan!

Weekly $ Checkup 5.4

  1. The most I’ve spent this last week was – $35 – and that was on gas so that I could head home for Memorial Day Weekend.
  2. Today I am thankful that I finally worked up the courage to say what I needed to say to someone very important to me, and it didn’t blow up in my face! In fact, I think things will probably be better with everything out in the open. Communication is important y’all, or so I hear.
  3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was cooking with my mom all weekend. Saturday we fried fish and shrimp and boiled crawfish and crabs, Sunday we made meat pies and pork ribs, and Monday hamburgers!
  4. I will consider this week a success if I get together my budget in review and figure out my debt repayment plan. Also laundry. Still.
  5. If I had today off I would do laundry and work on catching up on others’ blogs 😉

I’m about halfway through Fury: A Memoir and so far it’s uncomfortably relatable. I’m a believer in highlighting and taking notes in books (shudder if you must – I think it adds something to the experience and makes rereading it later both easier and telling of your past self), and this one has a lot of yellow going on. When I actually finish it I’ll do a book review; I anticipate that being within the week. I’m sad that the German foreign exchange student who has been staying with my family is leaving this weekend and my roommate/cat are gone for the summer, but I’ve ordered Disney Scene It and stocked up on baking supplies, so I plan to make the best of it!

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Savory Sunday 5.4

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”― Charles M. Schulz

Sorry. Savory Sunday was the cleverest title I could think of – at least I didn’t spell it Sundae? I was really hoping a fantastic pun would emerge, but alas no such luck. So Savory Sundays, what’s that? Well, I absolutely love to cook and bake and used to write another blog about my cooking/baking adventures. The goal was to try a new recipe every Sunday and then blog it with pictures. I got through about 18 before I ended up leaving the country and the person I was cooking with for a few months.

I have been spending most Sunday nights at bf’s house with his family and a lot of times I end up baking some sort of dessert or helping his mom cook (they do this really great family dinner night every Sunday), so instead of restarting the other blog (that hasn’t had a post since 2011), I thought maybe it would be more fun to just add it as a weekly installment to Budget or Fudget. I can’t promise all of the recipes will be frugal, but I’ll try! I’ve learned that for me, baking doesn’t end up being incredibly expensive when I want to try a recipe, but only because I bake so much that I’ve already made most of the purchases (e.g. flour, vanilla, eggs, baking soda, etc.) recipes upon recipes ago. Here’s one I tried a while ago and really liked!

S’more Cookies

Ingredients: 
1.5 cups of all purpose flour
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (about one of those enclosed packs out of the box)
1 tsp of baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 dash of cinnamon
2 softened sticks of butter
3/4 cup of sugar
3/4 cup of light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups miniature chocolate chips (about a bag)
1.5 cups of mini-marshmallows (about half a bag)
2 chopped Hershey bars (I used 2.5 bars)

Steps to Deliciousness:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda, salt, and a dash of cinnamon. In a second, bigger bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract until creamy.

2. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Slowly beat in the flour mixture until smooth, then stir in the chocolate chips (it will seem like a lot – you can add less if you wish).

3. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto an ungreased cookie sheet – during baking they didn’t stick; however, they did seem to flatten a lot, so be sure to space them well.
4. Bake for 8 minutes (on the top rack) and remove from the oven. Push 3-4 marshmallows and a few pieces of Hershey bar into each of the cookies. Return to the oven and bake an additional 3-4 minutes (I chose 2 minutes) or until fully cooked.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

I hope you enjoy! And feel free to give suggestions of what I should try! 

Summer Reading

I read fairly quickly, but seeing as how my commitment to reading has faltered a bit this year, I’m taking it a bit easy. I will read as much as I please, but it is my goal to finish the following by August. These are mostly on the list of the 623 Greatest Books Ever Written,  one from a summer reading post by My Pretty Pennies, and one was a gift from a friend for my birthday that I’ve been reading in pieces.

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I chose this collection for a variety of reasons, Their Eyes Were Watching God because I tend to like books that cover a large portion of a person’s life, Mrs. Dalloway simply because it looked interesting. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time looks like it has a unique perspective, and although it wasn’t written by someone with autism, one of my favorites, Born on a Blue Day, was, so I am curious to see how they differ.  The Sound and the Fury seems interesting, but I also want to see what it’s about because I watched a documentary by the same name about the deaf community. My parents bought me a nice box set of novels including 1984. I’ve attempted to read it about a thousand times, so I’m hoping this turns out to be the last time and that I actually get through it. There’s just something very slow and off-putting about it, and I don’t know why.

War and Peace is a suggestion of bf. The last book he told me I should read wasn’t bad…I read it and wasn’t jumping for joy the entire time, but it was one that stuck with me and that I thought about for weeks afterward and discussed with other people, and that doesn’t happen with a lot of books, so I’m trusting him with this one too. Fury: A Memoir was given to me as a birthday present by a friend. I’ve read it, but in pieces and not as a coherent book, so I want to reread it from start to finish. It’s incredibly relatable for me, so I think that’s why I wasn’t…comfortable? reading it straight through.  And Speaker for the Dead? Well, I reread Ender’s Game recently and I want to barrel through the series!

What are you reading this summer?

Weekly $ Checkup 5.3

  1. The most I’ve spent this last week was – $380 for the deposit for the new house, then $60 on the electric bill. After that was $50 to Discover, $25 on gas…I’ve been a boring shopper lately 🙂
  2. Today I am thankful that I’m almost finished with the video editing on the project I detest at work 😉
  3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was baking a blueberry crumble pie because I was meeting bf’s aunt and uncle. Not a whole lot of happy things happened last week, but bf also met my family for the first time, and that went considerably well, especially considering the circumstances.
  4. I will consider this week a success if I get my laundry done!!!
  5. If I had today off I would claim I wanted to do laundry, but I’d probably end up sleeping or watching Netflix 😉

Summer is coming. It’s getting warm, I’ve found a new route home that is awesome! A river runs through where I live, and the new route is alongside it, high speed limits, rolled down windows, etc. Sad things have happened, and things with bf are going wonderfully. My family is reconnecting, I’m finally working on things I like at work, and things are finally connecting again like they were in March. Whatever rut things were in is finally turning into a positive groove. I guess thinking positively in May is working…it’s becoming genuine.

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