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May & June recaps

July 5th, 2019 at 12:35 pm

May Progress:
- reduce grocery spending by at least $100/mo - YES
- reduce personal spending by at least $100/mo NO, but $57 less than 2018 average
- reduce untracked cash spending YES
- reduce spending on gifts NO
- plan ahead for recurring/big ticket items (use YNAB as intended) NO
- get out of the house/work on projects/have a life YES, until I broke my foot, I saw friends several times and actually went on a date!

June Progress:
- reduce grocery spending by at least $100/mo - YES
- reduce personal spending by at least $100/mo VERY CLOSE
- reduce untracked cash spending YES
- reduce spending on gifts NO
- plan ahead for recurring/big ticket items (use YNAB as intended) NO
- get out of the house/work on projects/have a life NO, due to the broken foot.

Other mentions:
- In May (pre-foot) I spent an inordinate amount of money on clothing and shoes. Luckily all of my shoe purchases were flat-soled, since I don't foresee wearing heels for quite some time.
- In May (post-foot) I signed up for Amazon Prime again. In retrospect, it was probably unnecessary.
- In June, I didn't spend much (other than my $2400 medical bill, which will be covered by my HSA). Perk of only going from home to work and back to bed, I suppose. I did get two nearly flat tires due to a screw and a nail, but Costco fixed them for free. I just bought those tires in September, so I hope the fixes hold.
- In June, I signed up for Shipt and later cancelled. I used it a couple of times for Target grocery purchases. Really unimpressed with the service, but at least I got groceries.

I am incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support from my close friends, family, and coworkers. I will say - if you know someone in a similar situation (no walking for 6+ weeks, lives alone with lots of stairs, perhaps too independent for their own good), occasionally ask if they need anything during weeks 3-6. I struggled to accomplish simple tasks during that time and ended up walking on my foot far sooner than I should have. It turned out ok - I'm back in shoes! I get tired easily and I'm still limping, but I'm so glad I did the surgery and am walking again.

I've increased my 401k to 8% (plus 6% company match) and doubled my Roth IRA to 4% of my gross income. I'll have my 6-month emergency fund fully funded in August. I'm still struggling with funding my YNAB sinking funds. Hopefully this month will be better!

I'm flirting with 16:8 intermittent fasting during the weekends since I've gained 5 pounds since January. So far, so good.

glad I maxed out my HSA

June 5th, 2019 at 07:07 am

Two weeks ago I was dancing in my living room (as I am wont to do) and I slipped, heard a loud CRACK, and fell. At first I thought it was just another sprained ankle, inconvenient but no big deal. I iced it and elevated it and made an appointment in the morning.

Oops - broken foot! It hurt so much less than a sprain! I've never broken a bone in my life, so it was pretty unexpected.

I opted for surgery because it sounded like if I didn't, I'd be non-weight bearing all summer and may still need surgery at the end of that anyway. I now am the proud owner of two tiny screws in my fifth metatarsal and a mountain of medical bills. The surgery alone was over $10K. Thankfully, I had a lot left in my HSA from last year and maxed out my contributions this year. My deductible is only $3K.

It's only June...what other medical things shall I have done this year? Ha!

I'm non-weight bearing until July and then will hopefully be walking again. I had to take off 2 weeks from work, used up all of my PTO, and missed a trip to visit my parents. I'm grateful for my friends and family who have carted me around, done my laundry, brought me food...it has been very sweet.

April 2019

May 1st, 2019 at 07:10 am

April 2019
- Electric/gas bill: high, but it was still winter. And kind of still is.
- Groceries: What. Even. Happened. Here?? I started the month with the best of intentions, and somehow it derailed by the end. I baked treats for three coworkers' birthdays. I cleaned out the pantry and freezers and really focused on using up what I had. I just should never step foot in a grocery store. May WILL be better.
- Gifts: A bit over. I found out that a friend was moving out of town so I took her out to dinner.

Otherwise, I did pretty well with sticking to my remaining budget goals.

Getting out of the house score: 5/10. I saw friends three times. My cat passed away a year ago, so I've been a bit sad. I also didn't want to spend any money, and socialized a lot with coworkers during the day between birthdays and site visits.

Health score: 5/10. I've ramped up my daytime walking at work but still struggling to do much on the weekends.

Savings score: 10/10

May goals:
- Stick to grocery budget. For real.
- Throw money into sinking funds, as YNAB intended
- Wrangle the YNAB credit card float into submission
- See friends at least four times
- Exercise at least once during the weekend

YNAB epiphany

April 15th, 2019 at 08:42 am

I hate to admit this, but I've been using YNAB as a tracking tool for years rather than the intended function of fully planning ahead. I had an epiphany this weekend. I totally rearranged my categories into timing (Monthly, Recurring, Needs, Fun, Other) rather than topics, researched how to appropriately track my HSA income/expenses, and moved my emergency savings into one big category lump sum rather than tracking by account.

I think I finally get it!!

I pay off my credit cards in full every month, but I typically do it the following month after the charges. This month I'm going to be able to pay them in full THIS month, and will keep doing that going forward. Pay off charges in the month they occur. Simple.

I can't believe it has taken me this long to figure it out! I feel so much more motivated now. I can't stop looking at it.

My six-month emergency fund is 85% funded. If I can stay on track, I'll have it fully funded in July. I'd also like to figure out a reasonably low-maintenance side hustle so I can increase my savings categories.

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.


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.

- 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.


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.