March Recap

Frugality: This month was odd. I definitely over budgeted for some events, and I redeemed some credits from surveys I take online and my credit card, so in theory, I should’ve had a lot of extra cash. That said, it was my birthday this month, so I definitely splurged a bit. I also had unexpected expenses, namely, sending some sympathy gifts to a friend who lost his mom and buying a mattress topper since our bed has become so uncomfortable. I managed to save more than I spent, and had a tiny surplus for the month. I should’ve had more leftover, but I’m glad it all worked out. We also made a major Costco run this month, which of course contributed to the spending. 

Fitness: I started the month strong, and went to the gym several times. Then, I had out of town visitors, and it was my birthday, and work got stressful…and I made excuses and haven’t gone. I just used a birthday gift card to get some workout clothing, and I’m hoping that will motivate me a bit too. I really wish I was better at staying motivated. I’m not sure why it’s so challenging for me. On the plus side, a couple of my close friends are doing some major diet changes next month (one couple is watching calories, the other is trying whole 30), so I’m hopeful that they can positively influence me. If I refocus on eating in/not going out for lunch, too, I think that’ll help me again too. 

Friends: This year, I decided to have a small get together for my birthday instead of a normal larger gathering, and that was delightfully intimate. I had a second monthly dinner with folks from grad school, and saw all of my bridesmaids again, which made me happy. Book club was a large group this month but lots of fun. I also had a college friend visit from out of town, and I see her less than once a year, so that was really nice. I felt really cherished by the fiance’s family, too, because they sent me birthday cards and gifts, which was unexpected but very inclusive.  I still need to send those letters, though…

 

February 2016 Recap

Frugality: This month, I really wanted to buy some new clothes for the gym/work and some books, but I held off on both. I ended up buying a new pillow, one book that I had preordered months ago, and colorful pens for work for a total of $24.99 (under my $25 budget!). I went over and under in some of my individual budget categories, but ended the month under budget. I was able to tuck away a little extra into savings from a delayed work award, too, which is nice. We kept date night costs down by having breakfast/lunch out instead of dinner during an activity, and by only having a fancy dessert date for our anniversary instead of an extravagant dinner. I also made a homemade gift for valentine’s day instead of buying something, which helped with costs and was equally appreciated by my dude. On the technical side, I canceled a credit card with a high annual fee that I wasn’t reaping rewards from, and opened a high-reward cash back card. I also opened a high interest online savings account (going from .01% to 1% interest – yay!). So far, this area of life is staying on track! My lovely fiance also totally redid my budget tracking spreadsheet into this fancy tool that makes life so so so much easier.

Fitness: I went to the gym at least 5 times. Fiance and I figured out some house rules to motivate one another to go to the gym more regularly, and so far, it seems to be working. Tracking calories didn’t really happen – I started off doing it, but we haven’t kept it up. March will be a reset and attempt 2 at it. I have been keeping better track of my activity in general with my apple watch, and that’s been helpful. I’ve been walking a lot more throughout the day, which is an easy way to burn some extra calories and get more active. On the whole, could have done better, but did better than the previous month, so progress was made.

Friends: I saw all my local bridesmaids this month, too, which is a good trend to continue:). We had dinner with a couple we’d like to continue getting to know better, and it went well, which was good. (Making friends as an adult can get awkward.) I had the first virtual book club with some friends from college and it went really, really well, and I really enjoyed it. It was great to have a way to interact beyond a simple phone call – plus we read/discussed a good book! I had a ctach up dinner with some grad school peeps and we scheduled another one for March. I saw one of my old roommates for a TV night and caught up with her, and it was nice to relive my pre-dude nights. We booked flights for a trip to the midwest in May, which helps on the family front. I also planned a spa day with my future mother in law, and I’m hoping that can help us bond a bit more. I didn’t send mail to people as I’d intended, but I’ve collected addresses (wedding planning for the win) that will make it easier to do so moving forward. Despite falling short on that, I feel like I did well on fostering friendships this month.

Q&A Part 4

  1. What is the most boring thing you can think of doing?

Reading tax law. Or sitting in an empty, undecorated room without a watch or any form of phone/tv/book/game.

  1. What one month on the calendar would you like to eliminate?

June. There are no federal holidays, I feel like I should be on break/vacation and I’m not, the weather gets muggy with the lingering rain and emerging warmth. August is a close second.

  1. What age would you like to be for the rest of your life?

No clue…I don’t mind getting older and having time go by. That said, next year may be pretty swell, so maybe 28 or 29? How stereotypical is that?

  1. What would you like to build if you knew how?

A life-size lego house! Kidding… Maybe a fully customized bed or built in library system, or perhaps even a whole house?

  1. What signs of aging are you starting to see in yourself?

My boobs are not as perky as they once were, and the corners of my eyes/hands have a few baby wrinkles going…but honestly, I don’t pay much attention and I don’t actively notice or care about any of it.

Q&A Part 3

  1. When home alone, do you shut the door when you use the bathroom?

I wish I could say yes to this…

  1.  If you could afford it at this moment, what would you buy?

A house, a day of spa treatments (including a wrap and a massage, my two favorite treatments), an alarm clock wake up light, new pillows, a new mattress!! (sleep number, preferably), a towel warmer, dinner at Komi.

  1. What is the greatest goal you want to achieve in the next five years?

Get married, buy a house, have a kid, take a couple of big vacations, and get promoted. Easy, right?

Of those, the biggest “goal,” as in something to work towards and that will require effort, planning, ambition, sacrifice, etc. is buying a house. We’re hoping to save enough to buy something in 2017 or, at worst, early 2018.

As for the other things… married in November. I applied for promotion today – if I don’t get it this year, next year should do it. We plan on going on a big honeymoon, but aren’t sure where yet; over the next few years, we have a trip to ireland/scotland/england in mind, italy/greece for a friend’s wedding, and possibly China. We intend to wait until late 2018 to start trying for kiddos, at the earliest, but that obviously could change at any point.

  1. What are five things you are grateful for?

A wonderful fiance, friends that care deeply about me, my job and it’s stability, my and my loved ones’ health, my financial independence and positive progress.

  1. If you could own the world’s largest collection of anything, what would it be?

Board games! Alllll of the options for game nights… Or books. I’d love to own a huge library. However, given the existence of public and academic libraries, that’s never going to happen. Maybe the largest collection of electronic romantic erotica? That’s a random goal, right? But it wouldn’t take up space…

About Me Q&A Part 2

The next  five questions: 

  1. Would you rather be on the cover of Time, People or Food & Wine magazine?

I’d rather be on the cover of Time. To me, being on the cover of Time signifies an acknowledgement that you’ve made an influence on society in some way. I’d love to make a positive change in our society for the better. That said, while my job does inherently serve as a public good, I’m not on a path to make a huge impact on society. I make lots of tiny improvements, but I’m not an agent of change. I don’t run or plan to run a nonprofit or write a new law or something. Could it happen someday? Sure, but my goals aren’t that lofty. I think at most, I’d work to contribute in a big way like that within a smaller community (school board, downtown improvement, social welfare programs, etc), which would never merit a major national publication covering it.

On the other hand, I do cook and entertain a lot, and I enjoy it quite a bit. Ignoring what I’d rather, Food & Wine is more likely. I’m not an expert chef, and I have no plans to be an expert, but I could see some midlife crisis cooking or entertaining project that may merit some press coverage from a food magazine. It at least has a semblance of being a possibility.

  1. What would you do with one week to do anything, all expenses paid?

Travel to France or Italy and take cooking/baking/cheese-making classes. Go to Finland and see the Northern Lights and stay in a glass igloo. Buy, furnish, decorate, and move into a home:). Tour the country to see relatives on every coast.

  1. Would you rather be a painter, writer or musician?

I’ve dabbled in all three of these areas. I think I’d most want to be a musician, and star in a broadway show. I used to sing and dance competitively. I’m not terrible, and more talented than some, but I’m definitely not broadway-level, so I never pursued it at that level. I also used to write song lyrics. My analytical side won out though, so it’s a hobby that was left behind with my young adulthood. 

Nowadays, though, I occasionally ponder the idea of writing erotic fiction. I haven’t even written a short story in such a long time, however, that it seems a far off thing. I’ve also never written anything longer than 30 pages, so I’m not sure my plot/character development would stand up to even a novella-length product.

  1. Do you think you are hard on yourself?

Yes. I’m my worst critic.

  1. Do you have any phobias?

Full on phobia? No, I don’t think so. There are definitely things I’m not fond of, but I can’t think of anything that causes paralyzing fear.

About Me Q&A

I found a list of 20 questions to ask on a date years ago, and saved it as a conversation starter. I have that and the 34 questions that inspire love (look it up in conjunction with the new york times). As a get-back-to-blogging exercise, I am going to answer all of these on the blog over time. 

  1. What was your funnest subject in high school & which one did you dread?

It depended a bit on the year, because I had different required classes and electives each year. I dreaded geometry and trigonometry/precalculus. I was never terrible at math, but it required a lot more work for me to get a decent grade. Math never came naturally to me. I loved show choir, when I was in it, and french class was always fun. At various times, I also really loved ceramics, us government, and my block AP US history/honors english class, mostly because of the teachers.

  1. What is one attribute of your mother that you see in yourself?

My mom was super easily amused and had a wacko sense of humor (with a tinge of perversity), and she used that to entertain others and keep others’ spirits up. I have a very similar sense of humor/entertainment, and I use it in much the same way she did. I’m a little more withdrawn/shy than she was, but the elements are all definitely there.

  1. How did your mother and father meet?

My mom lived with her mom while she was recovering from a surgery. My dad was my grandmother’s neighbor in the condo building, and he used to help care for my grandmother (take in her mail, etc.). They met that way, and bumped into each other over laundry in the building’s common areas enough times that my dad was able to get the nerve to ask her out. They were 30/31 when they met.

  1. Who would you like to have a closer relationship with?

My aunt and uncle in the midwest (my mom’s youngest brother). These relatives have a daughter that lives with her husband and newborn in DC, and we’ve hung out a few times more recently too. I never really saw these relatives growing up because of distance, but they’re all intelligent and kind people with good senses of humor. They also value family and show up for one another. When my mom passed, this aunt really went out of her way to show me love and support. I think we both want to build a better relationship, but it’s a bit awkward for me since it’s still so new. I’m going out of my way to visit them this May so we can try to foster the relationship, and she’s offered to plan a shower for my wedding which shows her interest too. Hopefully, we can build something. I get really sad and anxious when I think about having a baby and doing major life things without my mom. My future MIL is nice, but she has lots of kids and isn’t the most supportive…she doesn’t really put a lot of effort in reaching out, and she reacts oddly when I do, so we haven’t built much there yet. This aunt would be there for me in a second if I asked, and I want to establish something where I’d be OK calling on her, and I can be there for her and their family too. We’ll see how it goes…

  1. What do you think happens to you when you die?

This is a hard one. I think something happens. I don’t think we just go into the ground/dust forever. I don’t know what the exact next steps are, but I think there’s some sort of afterlife place or experience, where we reunite with loved ones, and we reincarnate or in some way are able to support people on earth. I’m pretty agnostic at this point, wherein I think there’s something, but I don’t know what, and I don’t spend a lot of time on trying to figure out what’s next.

January 2016 Recap

 

I thought it’d be a good idea to check in on my goals each month this year, just to see how things are going and how I’m doing.

Frugality: I successfully completed my tame version of no-spend January. I spent less than anticipated on our trip to NYC. We didn’t go out to eat at all on our own dime, although we were treated to two dinners from our respective family members that were in town for a quick visit. I turned down plans that involved food, but I was able to make plans with folks that were free. I had a baking day with a friend, and some people over for dinner at various times. We went on a free date to a Macy’s registry event, where I won some salad tongs. I didn’t buy any fun things or clothing. Other than groceries, I used amazon points to replace my broken cell phone case, and I got flowers and candy-making supplies for our wedding at the grocery store. I did have some unexpected expenses – I had to have my tires rotated, I owed some money when I filed my taxes, and my car registration (done every 2 years) was up. I’d budgeted for some of these, but didn’t realize they’d occur so early in the year.

Fitness: I joined the gym at work, and went twice. I’d have gone more, but we had a bunch of snow days where I didn’t go to the office. It’s also promotion application season, and that took over a bit. I need to be better on prioritizing gym time. My sister has been going to a gym near her and using MFP, which is motivating, and the fiance joined a gym with me and has been going. Hopefully all the good juju will help me out. I did reactivate my MFP profile, and as of Feb 1, we’re going to be tracking calories for everything. The plan is to just track and not limit lifestyle in February, then move into the actual calorie counting in March. We thought going extreme on frugality and on calorie counting all at once would be too much.

Friends: I finally had a facetime date with a college friend back in the midwest, and made plans for her and her beau to visit in March. I initiated and scheduled a virtual book club with my college friends that are scattered across the midwest, which I’m excited for. I also finally finished asking all my peeps to be bridesmaids. We caught up with a friend who moved to Philly while we were in town there, and I’ve been able to see all of my local bridesmaids in the month of January. I also did a coffee and magazine date at barnes and noble (coffee on a gift card, so still free!) with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while, and made plans for a February dinner with grad school folks. I’ve been texting regularly with my sister, and my aunts have been coordinating helping with a wedding shower. I also called my aunt in the midwest to plan a visit for May. All in all, good work this month in keeping connections strong. In February, I’m going to try to send mail to people, just for funsies.