Mid-Year Look Back

Charleston July 2015

Usually around the middle of the month I do a mid-month look back, but I've decided for month 9 (3/4 of the way through the year!) to do a mid-year look back instead to discern how 2015 is going…

1. Reading: I've done pretty good so far at my goal of reading two books a month. I have to admit I started strong and now I find myself struggling to keep up. I think my favorite books so far this year were Water For ElephantsSweetapolita, and All the Light We Cannot See.

Currently I'm reading The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I bought it because of Amazon's "If you like this book, you'll like that book" in reference to All the Light We Cannot See. Plus, the WW2 dramatization and plot taking place in France also got my attention. However, when a family member saw the book and recognized the author, I was thinking "Oh crud! What have I gotten myself into?" Anyway, we'll see how it goes. Maybe it will be better than I expect…

Here's a look back at the books I have read so far in 2015:

• the After series by Anna Todd
• A Lion In Paris by Beatrice Alemagna
• I Sold My Soul to the Devil For Vinyls … Pitiful, I Know on Wattpad
• Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
• Refinery 29 by Piere Gelardi and Christene Barberich
• Frites by Anne de la Forest

• Summer Rain on Wattpad
• Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer
• How to Travel the World on $50 A Day by Matt Kepnes
• Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan

• No Capes on Wattpad
• The Bro Code on Wattpad
• He Wanted the Moon by Mimi Baird

• Cookie Love by Mindy Segal
• Sweetapolita by Rosie Alyeah

• Everything You Ever Wanted by Jillian Lauren
• Salsas & Moles by Deborah Schneider
• Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. by Sam Wasson
• Seven Spoons by Tara O'Brady

• All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

• Fatal Vision by Joseph McGinnis
• Color Mixing Recipes for Watercolor by William F. Powell

• Everybody Rise by Stephanie Clifford

Captive by Ashley Smith
90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper

2. Pictures: …

For someone who owns a canon 60D and a few expensive lenses, you would think I'd be on top of it. I'm not though. Recently I've been enjoying shooting with my Nexus 5. Google Photos automatically puts panorama images together for me, so that's really cool. And I love the contrast and color consistency so much more than the images taken with my iphone 4s. Plus, it's light. And at some point "the best camera is the one you have with you". True.

Here are some of my favorites from this year:
• Paris - 1, 2
• Chattanooga
• Asheville
• wedding
• flight – These aren't the best BUT they were the most fun!

Hopefully I can improve before we return to Europe. I think some of my canon lenses need to be serviced. :(

3. Money: We started off the year well. We were spending less than we were making and we put all of our tax dollars into a savings account. We even opened several credit card and bank accounts to bring in extra money!

We lowered the interest we were paying by moving our debt to a credit card with a 0% interest rate until February 2016 to help us schedule and pay off our debt slowly over time. And then we refinanced Justin's student loan debt down from 10% to 3%. We even paid off one of my student loans in full! Seriously. We were doing well.

Then, my car died. Not the engine mind you … but everything else. I was told my job was on the line, despite how easy and cheap the repairs would be. whatever. So, we bought a new (used) car…

That's where it all went wrong. Despite the fact that I had said we might purchase a car this year, I was only planning on doing so after we had paid down all of our credit card debt and had saved up enough (beyond emergency savings) to pay for it in full. Unfortunately, even in August, we simply weren't ready for a big purchase like this. *sigh*

Anyway, due to the car purchase, I suspect there will be a number of changes in the way my husband and I handle our finances come October. And I also believe this car purchase has set us back on our goals by about a year. :(

Anyone else get super frustrated with finances?

4. Travel: Now, this – THIS – I feel good about.

Nashville, Asheville, Scottsboro (Alabama), Chattanooga, Savannah, Charleston, Boston, NYC, and soon to come Orlando, Paris, Strasbourg (maybe?), Stuttgart, and generic South Germany … It's not quite the New Orleans, Washington (state), Chicago, San Francisco year I'd originally planned for back in January, but it's certainly exciting anyway! Perhaps more so since I'm getting big things like NYC and Paris at Christmas time checked off of my bucket list. How many people do you know that have done that?

5. Health: I kind of did the opposite – gained weight, walked about the same, and still struggle to drink water. At least I'm trying? I'm not a member of a gym or anything like that (trying to pay off debt, remember?), but I'm also not sitting around eating junk food and watching tv. I think it's just the constant busy-ness that keeps me from eating as healthy as I'd like or exercising as often as I should.

How is your 2015 going? Are you meeting your goals? Or are you struggling like me? Will you be doing anything different for the last few months of the year?

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