A few weeks ago, I read the book “All Your Worth” by Elizabeth Warren. It has a really simple budgeting idea that I read a blog post about and wanted to know more. Basically, they have you split your income up into three piles – must-haves (50%), wants (30%), and savings (20%), and categorize your spending into those big buckets. All the budgeting I’ve done previously uses lots of little categories – you know, $25 for electric bill, $100 for phone bill, $20 for books, etc etc. That model wasn’t working for me because if a utility bill was over by a buck or two, I’d be in the red, and then there would be months I didn’t buy any books or music and those categories would go unnoticed, then next month I’d buy more books… and anyways, it was just untenable for me because of all the micro-accounting. It seems like the three big buckets approach might work more easily: I have my big ticket, non-negotiable items like rent/mortgage and things I have to pay each month regardless, and since they’re right on the border of 50% I know I need to reduce them in case of emergency, so I would have more headroom on an unemployment or disability payment.
I recategorized all my spending for December into the three buckets, in Quicken, and I was way over for the month. :( I went over by like $300 on must-haves, because I suddenly adopted a kitten and he needs vet checkups and shots and stuff (and I decided that pet-care was a must-have), and unfortunately I also went over on my wants by… well, enough. Without even really noticing it. It definitely made me more conscious of what I was doing for the second half of the month, and I had to stop buying things. So I totally blew December, but I only started halfway through the month, so I guess it was kind of a dress rehearsal.
Looking forward to making it work in January. If it works as described, it will make me feel like I’m able to spend “fun money” without that guilty, “I should be doing something productive” feeling, while still making progress on my savings planning. Fingers crossed!
Back in, what, September?, I decided that what I needed was a winter goal to keep me going… and when I found the F^3 Lake Half Marathon, I thought to myself, what could possible be a better idea that signing up to do my first half marathon at the end of January in Chicago? ... and the answer is, of course, so very many, many things could be a better idea. Self-immolation is probably a better idea than a January half-marathon in Chicago. But I signed up anyway, and signed up for the CARA half-marathon training program too, because what the heck do I know about doing a half-marathon? (Also, there was a t-shirt. Very important.)
I wound up dropping out of the group runs after about week 5, because I didn’t think I could keep up with my 12 minute pace group (I seem stuck at 12:30 for distances over 5-6 miles, for now), but I’ve been doing OK on my own—and helped by our freakishly good weather this December. It’s not exactly a hardship to go out and run when it’s sunny and gorgeous and about 50°F. Now the race is only four weeks away. I’m still pretty nervous about it. The longest race I’ve run previous to this is a 15k, so this tacks on about an extra 4 miles to that distance. It sounds so easy when I put it that way… oh, just another 4 miles, pfffffft. Guess we’ll see what happens on the 28th.
I think I’ve finally minimized my “stuff” to a point where I’m happy to mark this goal complete. Everything fits in my apartment, everything has a place to be put away and it isn’t in my face. The apartment is easier to keep clean, as well as keep tidy. I can still have half a dozen hobbies easily, because they’re not competing with each other for space, or competing with my mental fatigue over the endless “stuff” for time. It’s much easier and lighter weight to live when your house doesn’t sap your energy just being present.
It’s honestly taken me almost 10 years to get to this point but I think I’ve completely switched mindsets.
I bought myself a swanky new bike for my birthday, replacing my old steel beast, and I am ridiculously happy with it. One step closer to achieving my goal of being a slow, fat triathlete in 2011!
I’m now two discs into Season 8, and I’m starting to remember why I sort of lost interest when they originally broadcast it: they forgot to put the funny in! Eight episodes in a row of angst and gore and whatever… Y’all gotta cut us some slack in between all this, a nice “Humbug” or PMP or something would have been nice. As it is, I had to alternate with “Sports Night” to cheer myself up after watching a whole disc of X-F. Am starting to look forward to getting done with this so I can go back and watch some earlier episodes with humor in them.
I took my last paystub from 2009 and used that to fill out the FAFSA today. I don’t understand why they want you to do it as soon as possible after 1 Jan, using your tax information, when you can’t even file your taxes until after you get your W2s and other forms, which aren’t even required to be mailed until 31 Jan! Regardless, I filled it out using that as a preliminary estimate, and I can go back and correct it later once I have the real numbers.
I feel like I’m cheating. Instead of getting rid of stuff, I’m buying a used small bookshelf off of Craigslist tomorrow. But I’ve gone back to school, and have run out of bookshelf space to put my notebooks and schoolbooks on, and I think this will help me manage some clutter. What’s funny is that it’s the exact same Target bookshelf I used to have a couple of several years ago—but I got rid of mine when I moved from a large apartment to a tiny studio! I don’t regret it though. Not having excess furniture (and crap piled on it) when I didn’t have the room for it is way more important and useful to me.
Spun up one of two braids of this pinky-salmony-bluey stuff (the colorway is called “Cotton Candy”), plus half a braid of some other stuff—really should have taken both braids of Cotton Candy with me when I went to visit family for Christmas, so I could be plying it off now, but I didn’t honestly think I’d get done with that much spinning! Instead, I filled both bobbins I brought with me and then still had more free time. I know for next time, at least. ;)
I have so much fiber it’s not even funny! I’ve decided I really need to spin more of it before I can buy more. I’ve made some good inroads recently, but there’s still plenty of good stuff in there. So my goal is to spin up half of my spinning stash before I buy any more. By my count, my Ravelry stash has 24 handspun skeins to 35 waiting-to-be-spun sets of fiber. So I need to spin at least 17 of those before I can buy any more! Good thing I bought that lovely new Lendrum a couple weeks ago and fell head over heels in love with it. :)
I went back to school half time this year, working full time, and managed to survive! The biggest problem I had with it was not so much going to class (which I thought would be a problem, but it turns out, if you start signing up for classes that only meet 10 weeks and if you miss two class sessions you fail, you get REALLY paranoid about saving up those missed sessions for actual sickness, and skipping isn’t so much an option anymore), but in doing my homework. I’m in a really writing-heavy program, so sitting down to churn out 5 or 10 pages sort of weighs heavy on my mind. I usually let bits slide until I wind up having to do it all at once. My goal for next year is—since now I know I can survive school, I want to survive it better. If I can do all my homework on time (on my schedule, not just the handing it in schedule; meaning, do it as I go along even if it’s not all due til the end of the quarter), then I think it would help reduce some of the stress and make me happier with the process. Also it would probably help eliminate those facepalm moments when you go back and look at a paper you handed in after you proofread it 80 times and still managed to miss that glaring typo on Page 2. I hate those moments!
I should really have done some sort of accounting on how many things were in the yarn stash first, so I’d know when I reached half! Oh well. I did do a massive destashing recently, which was pretty cool. Turns out I feel much better without having all those yarns I knew I was either never going to use, or were off in the “maybe someday” pile that was… well, realistically, never going to be touched. There’s just not much point to having a ton of worsted and bulky weight yarn around when all you’re doing lately is lace!
Hmm. Really should have put a date on this that I started! Oh well. I think it was November of 2009. So far I have resisted. On my one trip in to a LYS to buy needles, I ran in and ran right out without even ogling the pretty new arrivals. Go me!
Exciting! And intimidating. And boy have I knit about a thousand swatches.
Every so often I pop in a DVD. I’m up through the middle of Season 7. I’d totally forgotten that X-Cops episode!
So I previously noted on this that I would qualify for a work visa if I had a bachelor’s degree. I went back to school in January to work on getting that, so I would qualify. Imagine my ire when, in March, they changed the immigration requirements so that a bachelor’s no longer gave you any points towards qualifying for a work visa—one must have at least a master’s degree. (Hint: I was pretty irate.) Nonetheless, I’ve continued working on my degree, and expect to be granted it in 2011. I am working on what I will want to do a master’s in, in case they haven’t changed the rules by then. It’s pretty upsetting, and really damn expensive, so I’ve actually decided that after all this work and money, I will want to move there for at least five years, rather than just one. I mean, if I spend five years working concertedly on getting there, it just seems fair.
I think I can, I think I can. Just keep swimming!
So the KitchenAid Experience store is in Greenville, OH. I go to an annual group gathering that meets in various sites around Ohio every spring, and the last time it was in Greenville was about 4 years ago and I decided then that I wanted to get a KitchenAid mixer there next time we went back. So that’s been the plan for a while. This year the gathering’s back in Greenville. Which is naturally why I signed up for a Saturday biology class, meaning I’d have to blow off a day of class to go… and then my professor redid the syllabus so now there’s a super important test that day that I can’t miss so now I can’t go at all!
I know I could just get one in the store but I am so mad about this. The KitchenAid store has a little outlet shop in the basement with everything in 40,000,000 different colors and all the accessories and you can look at everything all in one spot and dude, seriously, 4 YEARS I HAVE BEEN WAITING, and now I can’t go because this guy can’t write a test or a syllabus.
(Yeah, I could just go, but it’s a 6 hour drive and there is not really that much to Greenville—there’s just not much point to going there just for one store, you know?)
I forgot to re-adjust my withholdings at the end of last year. Since I had changed my withholdings in January of that year, to start out maxing them then for the very first time ever (!), they were actually much higher than $15,500/24 paychecks. Since I haven’t adjusted them yet, they actually work out to $16474.56 right now… so I need to change them to take up that extra $25 to max them this year. Convenient that I don’t have to make a huge adjustment for my remaining 20 paychecks! :)
As soon as I get my tax refund, I’ll be just over halfway there to achieving this goal!
Seems like this process has been a whole two steps forward, one step back sort of deal, where I get some money put aside but then I dip into it for one thing or another. Most recently, I took a vacation. But it was my first vacation in five years, so I can’t really feel bad about it. (Actually I feel pretty good about it. It was great! :) But I’ll continue saving up for this and I hope to have at least like 6500 if not more by the end of this year.
This has been a constantly ongoing effort for me, for about the past five or six years. I just keep paring down and don’t reach equilibrium. Part of it is that acquiring things for my hobbies (reading, yarn for knitting/crochet, etc) just sort of keeps happening, though that I don’t mind because it’s stuff that is going to be used and loved. Part of it is also that things appear in my house that I don’t really want (xmas gifts from folks who don’t know I already have enough pairs of winter gloves). And part of it is just that I find things I no longer feel that I need and I want to get rid of the weight of having them. Mostly I just find that I sort of want less and less stuff. Having discovered the beauty of an uncovered counter or shelf, I want to maintain it!
It’s about time for a spring de-cluttering around the house. I’ve got one bag of stuff by the door ready to go. Maybe this weekend I’ll sort through books and find more, and make a donation run. I could use a little lessening of stuff to sort of lighten up the house and perk me back up.
I want to finish up an associate’s degree at community college, so that I get all my prereqs out of the way for (relatively) cheap before transferring to a 4-year institution. After the current semester, I’ll have about 28 credits left to earn towards this goal, so I think it’ll take me about four more semesters, or roughly until fall of 2010. At least it’s close to home!