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March 2019

April 1st, 2019 at 07:53 am

March 2019
- Electric/gas bill: still super high, but there's a light at the end of the wintery, below-zero tunnel
- Home expenses: way over - my one remaining living room lamp broke. I also bought two new sets of bed sheets.
- Groceries: Better than usual
- Personal expenses: Better than usual
- Clothing: I bought two new swimsuits for my beach trip and replaced all of my bras during an awesome Kohls sale. I was down to just a couple that were still holding up.
- Travel: Stayed on budget. It was a great trip, far too short, but still wonderful.
- Splurge: I bought a Playstation and a few games, including Just Dance in an effort to incorporate fun exercise.

Getting out of the house score: 9/10. Smashed mostly into the latter half of the month, I saw family twice, got a pedicure and went shopping with a friend, went on vacation with friends, babysat a friend's kids, and visited the art museum.

Health score: 2/10. I'm still slowly gaining weight and not exercising other than walking and occasional yoga. I have to get my eating under control.

Savings score: 8/10. I saved 88% of my intended monthly amount. I spent a chunk of my tax refund on the Playstation.

In April I intend to focus on reducing my grocery budget to just fresh, necessary produce and eating down the pantry and freezer.

When I'm doing well with limiting my food intake, I also do well with limiting my spending. When I do poorly with one, I'm usually doing poorly with the other. I need to find that willpower this month.

February recap

March 4th, 2019 at 02:16 pm

February 2019:

- Electric/gas bill: super high but it has been a billion below zero degrees here with approximately 800 feet of snow
- Home expenses: not bad, only $20 over budget
- Gasoline: $10 under budget
- Parking: $55 due to a downtown class
- Groceries: Horrific.
- Restaurants: Over budget. I went out with friends twice, which seldom happens.
- Personal expenses: Horrific. I shouldn't need to buy any hair products for several months since they had a 43% off sale.
- Fitness: I bought new rock climbing shoes so I actually go to the gym and use my punch cards.

Otherwise, not too bad. I boosted my emergency fund up to $12K and started putting money into a separate checking account, since my main bank was out of commission for a few days. I'm $3000 away from having my 6 month emergency fund fully funded.

Current savings rates:
- 25% of net into savings accounts
- 9% of gross into retirement + 6% matched = 15% total
- 4% of gross into HSA

My therapist quit practicing rather abruptly, and I don't particularly want to start all over again with someone new, so I'm putting more into my HSA than I need to. Oh well. It will be well funded for next year.

I extolled the virtues of the snowball method of debt payoff to my coworker and found a pre-made spreadsheet online, and now he's super excited about it! It feels so good to share with people and then watch them embrace it.

I passed my vegan desserts class with flying colors and it was so, so fun. I'd like to take the vegan professional cooking course now, but it's $1300 (regular price), so I'll wait for the Black Friday sale. I started a line item in YNAB to save for it.

January recap

February 5th, 2019 at 07:30 am

In January I went over budget in several categories but under in several others. One category that went over was travel. I'm taking a beach vacation with some friends in March...so looking forward to it!! We've never done anything like this before, but since one friend in our group moved out of state last year, it will be wonderful to have a long weekend together. I haven't been to the ocean since 2011...long overdue for a beach-lover like me.

I also spent too much in my top three worst categories - groceries, personal care products, and home. I'm taking an online vegan baking class and that contributed to some of the overspending. I'm also transitioning to natural deodorant, so I've tried about five different kinds. It's a struggle to find something that doesn't cause a rash and doesn't fail me by 9:30am.

I'm entering a new decade tomorrow. There's something so weird and slightly unsettling about that. I'm taking the day off and spending more on personal care (ha!) - lash tinting because I'm sick of having mascara all over my face after walking in 0 degree temps, and a haircut. Maybe lunch out and a warming walk through the conservatory too. I also walk the number of minutes I am old and think about each year as it ticks by on the treadmill.

I'm doing a 1 second per day video challenge this month. The 1 Second app is free and allows you to trim videos and put them into a short video, one for each day. I'm much more comfortable with still photography so this is a good challenge.

Also - the baking class. I've gained five pounds in three months. This is a problem! It's a super fun class but I'm back on the diet-watch wagon this week. The beach vacation is good motivation.

2018 financial recap

January 4th, 2019 at 08:08 am

Things I did well in 2018:
- reduced home spending
- reduced cell phone bill
- reduced gardening/wildlife expenditures
- reduced restaurant meals
- reduced massages (only 2 this year)
- reduced clothing expenditures
- reduced social/fitness spending
- reduced music/books/apps spending
- reduced spending on hobbies
- quadrupled Roth IRA contributions
- spent money on a therapist/meds with HSA
- increased HSA to contribute max in 2019

Unexpected 2018 expenses:
- Vet/pet bills
- Auto repair (over double 2017 costs)
- Phone replacement (battery nearly exploded)
- Expensive hair care products (but healthier hair)

Things to improve in 2019:
- reduce grocery spending by at least $100/mo
- reduce personal spending by at least $100/mo
- reduce untracked cash spending
- reduce spending on gifts
- plan ahead for recurring/big ticket items (use YNAB as intended)
- get out of the house/work on projects/have a life

I'm waiting for my first paycheck post-promotion to determine if I should increase my retirement contributions beyond 15% (actually 19% including my HSA contributions). The 401k contributions will automatically increase a percentage point in May. With my HSA increase, I think saving $1000 per month was a tad ambitious.

My coworker was already teasing me about 2018 taxes...had I submitted them yet? Ha! I haven't, of course, but I have been thinking about them. I always look forward to that little boost of income coming back.

promotion

December 14th, 2018 at 02:07 pm

Somehow the time flew by and it went from July to December!

As of the end of this month, I'm being promoted to a newly created, salaried role within my department and with the same boss. It comes with a decent raise and a few more days of PTO per year. I'll still get my raise next spring, too! I'm incredibly grateful to my boss for pushing for this promotion and helping craft the new job role, and really looking forward to doing more. It's my second promotion since I started, which is also really amazing. Most places I've worked wanted me to stay in the same job forever. I'll still be doing the administrative work for the department but that isn't challenging nor time consuming.

My emergency savings currently sit at $10,300 and I want to boost it to $15,500 by the end of May. Then I'll start chipping away at car and home funds.

I'm currently saving 15% for retirement (including employer match) and am going to raise it to 16% in January after the raise and to 17% in May.

I'm so excited to be salaried for the first time in my life. It will be refreshing to not have to clock in and out constantly and take PTO for every doctor's appointment.

I started seeing a therapist a few months ago and also started on anti-anxiety medication. Both have helped tremendously. I still have trouble getting out of bed on the weekends and often dream about my cat (which are lovely visits, actually). My other cat and I have finally found an equilibrium. He still drives me crazy with his howling but I'm much better able to handle it now. He's on a different allergy medication now too, which is helping his comfort level.

I'll be looking forward to updating my July-Dec money stats here and seeing what my new paycheck looks like!

Jan - June 2018

July 3rd, 2018 at 09:58 am

I ran the January through June numbers to see how I did in the first half of the year.

Top expenses:
- Vet/pets - $6702 (no surprise there)
- Rent/renter's insurance
- Auto - recently spent $1725 on repairs
- Tuition for my ill-fated attempt at graduate school - reduced to $1585 thanks to my employer's tuition reimbursement policy, plus $200 left to pay
- Food & Drink - average of $550 per month. Say WHAT? I had house guests for nearly a month, but definitely overspent on groceries.
- Personal products - average of $272 per month. I started wearing my hair naturally curly following the curly girl method, which takes a lot more effort and product experimentation, and I stocked up on face products during a sale, but I need to reign it in. Yikes.

Positives:
- My massage therapist moved to California so I haven't had a massage since January.
- I canceled my Amazon Prime subscription.
- I planted very few plants this spring. Normally I buy a bunch of tomato and pepper plants but I didn't bother.
- I've rarely eaten out or done anything outside of the house in the last six months, which saved some money.

I definitely need to reduce grocery and personal spending. Cash is another bad habit - I spent an average of $66 a month on what exactly? Sometimes I log it, usually I don't.

It turns out lying in bed crying is good for the budget, other than my rampant vegan ice cream consumption. The grief is slowly subsiding but weekends are still very hard. My other cat is still a struggle much of the time. Being alone most of the day is a big adjustment for him and he's not coping well. The vet will come next month and I'll have her make sure that all is well with him, but the howling...oh the howling. He's driving me crazy.

Otherwise, nothing much to report!

stress hives

May 7th, 2018 at 10:31 am

After a weekend of crying and feeling guilty, I woke up this morning with what I believe are stress-induced hives on my neck. Part of me thinks I deserve them. I should have done more for my cat. I should have taken her straight to the university vet once her jaw locked in January. If I had been more assertive rather than listening to my vet, perhaps something could have been done to help her. Intellectually I recognize that none of that thinking is helpful now that she is gone but it's impossible to stop those thoughts from crowding my brain, especially when I'm at home and every inch of the place reminds me of her. She trusted me to take care of her and I failed.

I've begun looking for a weekend job just to stay away from home as much as possible. Watering flowers at a greenhouse, maybe.

I went out with coworkers on Friday night and threw away $30 on pull tabs. I've been regretting it ever since. I'm glad I skipped the second bar stop and went home instead, though.

The 6% interest rate on my student loan is prompting me to get rid of it as soon as possible. It's amazing, watching the balance tick up every day, even with a relatively low starting balance. With that in mind, I'm not sure I'll return to grad school unless I can pay for it outright.

Thrift?

May 4th, 2018 at 11:10 am

First and foremost, has anyone heard from Thrift-o-rama? I wish I knew her real name but I don't. As much as I hate Facebook, I'm glad I have added a few people from here on there. Nice to be able to keep track of each other, especially if people (like me) stop posting for years.

My boss had a sinus infection that wouldn't go away for months and no doctor could figure it out. The similarities between her issues and my cat's health were something we commiserated about all winter. We now know that both of them had cancer. My boss has been breast cancer-free for several years but it metastasized to her skull. She had the spot removed yesterday and treatment plans will soon follow. It was not a simple surgery.

Superstition has me thinking bad things come in threes, and two of those three so far have been cancer in the head.

I was awake last night from 2am-4am thinking about all of this, missing my cat, crying. Heading into another weekend of being at home without her. At least the weather will be nice.

update

April 26th, 2018 at 02:19 pm

My beautiful, sweet, amazing cat passed away in my arms on April 11th. My sister helped me care for her in her last week and my mom came to stay with me for a couple of weeks too. I was very grateful for my mom's presence. Now that she has returned home, the house is very empty with just me and my older cat. I love him dearly but he can be so obnoxious. My younger cat was my little furry soulmate, always with me every second I was at home, and such a sweet soul. I miss her so much. I can't believe I have to live the rest of my life without her. My other cat is almost 14 so he will be passing soon as well, and frankly, after him, I don't want to go through this again. I will likely lose the ones I love most (my cats and my parents) within the next 5-10 years, and then what is there to live for?

I dropped out of graduate school. In the midst of getting very little sleep and giving my cat pain medication every three hours around the clock, I said enough. The university could not care any less about my quitting or the reasons behind it, so I made the right decision.

On the money front:
- I spent $8500 on my cat before she passed. My mother graciously paid for the cremation.
- I spent a lot more on groceries in April with three weeks of house guests.
- I'll have to pay for the dropped graduate class in full. Oh well. My HR department is playing games with my reimbursement request for the first class, so I'll need to fight them on it. Sigh.
- I found out that my ex still had my name on his electric bill. I swear I removed myself when I moved out three years ago, but lo and behold, I just received his late payment notice. I removed my name immediately.
- I need to mail the cans of liquid cat food I bought. They asked for a return reason. That was fun.

Looking back to last summer, I had such lofty aspirations for improving my life. How things change.

decisions

March 29th, 2018 at 07:54 am

I'm overwhelmed by decisions right now.

- My cat. Is she in pain? I've just decided that she probably is and giving her all the pain meds. The other night she thoroughly enjoyed a sponge bath and brushing. She was purring and flopping like usual, perhaps a bit more carefully due to the feeding tube, but almost like her normal self. It's a constant stream of decision-making with her, though.

- My graduate program. I've done the research and the one I'm in is the cheapest and fastest path to a master's. If I switch now, I'll be in school for at least 2 more years and in debt at least $10K more. I can't find anyone here with a I/O Psych degree. Anything else I'm interested in (counseling, social work) doesn't pay enough to sustain life as a single woman with hopes of retiring someday.

- My house hunt. I recently discovered that my neighbor has a lengthy drug dealing record, which explains a lot. My landlord is useless. I reached out to my mortgage lender to get an updated quote, and with the .5% interest rate increase, a $150K home is now $100 more than my current rent per month. I can't find a $150K home here unless it is a tear down, in a sketchy neighborhood, or out in the boondocks. I can't believe this housing market. I looked at rentals too and everything at or below my current rent is garden level. Should I even stay in this city/state?

- My job. I was interested in a promotion but discouraged from applying as I was told I needed 2 more years of experience (presumably post-master's degree). The person hired for the job just got her bachelor's degree last fall. Frustrating. I'm biding my time, but where do I go from here?

- How much longer is my car going to survive? The check engine light is still on. It's running fine so I'm ignoring it.

- I have a few potential dating possibilities. Should I even bother right now?

Financially I still have an emergency fund cushion but have spent nearly $8000 on my cat since December. Obviously that will be tapering down now. I need to tighten my belt in April.

cat update - it is cancer

March 20th, 2018 at 10:45 am

Well, after seeing four vets, a CT scan, a biopsy, and countless other tests, I found out last Friday that my cat has cancer. It is in her salivary gland and the prognosis is not good. I am keeping her comfortable and trying to find some way to slow the growth of the cancer.

I'm devastated. She is the light of my life. I was much more prepared for my older cat's passing than hers. She is only 8.5 years old and in my mind, only halfway through her life. Honestly, I'm not sure how I will get through this. Anyone else have a furry soulmate? She is mine.

I'm struggling with my current ethics class, not only because this is happening, but because the material is not at all what I was expecting. It's a Lutheran college but so was my (liberal) undergrad, so I wasn't expecting a huge religious focus. This college is MUCH more conservative and requiring Bible readings. I'm not even remotely religious so I am struggling with this. I've been looking for different programs and am considering switching to an industrial organizational psychology program. The problem is that what I'm doing is the cheapest and fastest path to a master's degree.

I haven't done a lick of my homework due tomorrow, and now I have to take my cat to the vet this afternoon because she ripped out her feeding tube this morning.

I need to tell my ex about our cat but I'm dreading that conversation. I haven't spoken to him in almost three years other than happy birthday texts.

I'm not enjoying my life right now.

relief

January 31st, 2018 at 07:10 am

I brought my cat in for a CT scan. The home vet was convinced that my cat had a tumor and that the stress of bringing her in to the other vet for a dental and putting her under anesthesia made the tumor grow super fast. Naturally, feeling like I exacerbated it, I didn't want to bring her in to yet another vet for even more anesthesia, but I wanted concrete answers. The story just didn't make sense to me. I'm glad I spent the money, because she doesn't have a tumor or cancer. She has a bad infection in her lower jaw that was presumably caused by the vet who did the dental. I'm upset with myself for trusting them; they messed up both sides of my poor cat's mouth. We have started a different antibiotic and hopefully this treatment will clear the infection and reduce the pressure in her eyes. I'm so, so relieved that it's not a tumor and she made it through anesthesia again. Her heart rate tends to dip low every time she goes under.

I talked with my boss about the new job, and she said she doesn't feel I'll be ready for it for two years (presumably because by then I'll have a master's degree). She said I could apply but my application may not make it past HR. Clearly she has someone else in mind for this job. I'm disappointed; it felt like a light at the end of the tunnel.

School is still overwhelming but I'm trying to convince myself that this is doable for 18 months and then it will be over.

I feel so far behind. My friends are directors making 1.5 to 2 times my income, homeowners, driving decent cars, and have ample retirement funds. One friend can even retire early. I'm most terrified about not having enough in retirement to support myself. I wish I had spent less time caring about men and thinking I'd have a partner through life and focused solely on bolstering my career and retirement funds. Water under the bridge now, I suppose, but I can't seem to get traction on getting out of this low level job hole I've dug.