Monthly Financial Update: March 2019

In December, when reviewing my finances for 2018, I mentioned my desire to look at them on a monthly basis in 2019. Justin and I spent a little too much in 2018 and let our finances get the best of us. Maybe by looking at our finances monthly (and let you guys/gals keep me in check), we will do better this year. That's the goal anyway.

Here's month #3.


green - this year; yellow - last year

Where We Spent Our Money:

Top 10 Merchants
1. Electricity

2. Free People - at least one of the purchases is going to be returned, possibly both
3. Kroger (groceries)
4. Global Entry (We got all of our money back for this.)
5. Nordstrom Rack – clothes for me
6. Trader Vic's
7. Starbucks
8. Package Store 
9. Amazon - Clothes for my husband, electronics to get my Raspberry Pi up and running (It's still not.)
10. Cell Phone Bill

Top 10 Categories
1. Food and Dining
2. Shopping - clothes for me
3. Bills & Utilities
4. Auto & Transport
5. Personal care – hair
6. Entertainment – tickets to see Neil Patrick Harris, ice skating

compared to March 2018

compared to Feb 2019

Net Income:


credit card debt

Student loan debt

* Loan Payoff Date 11/1/22
* Emergency Funds: $5686
* Credit Scores: 747 (Justin), 797, 801 (me)

Overview of the Biggest Impacts This Month:
1. Shopping for clothes. I generally see clothing I like and wait for it to go on sale; everything [ liked went on sale this month. I will be price adjusting things that went down in price after purchasing as well as returning anything I didn't wear within the first week since buying. Usually, if I'm not excited enough to wear it immediately, it probably won't get worn often enough to be worth the price.
2. Ice skating. It's expensive, but it's exercise. And I've had a lot of anxiety recently, so I've found it a good, consistent way to release excess energy. Granted walking is free and also a good way to exercise, but I don't enjoy it quite as much and don't choose to do it like I should.
3. Bought tickets to see Neil Patrick Harris at my alma mater. Not sure if it will be worth it, but thought "why not?" Justin and I are trying to be more culturally aware and going to events is one way to do that.
4. Bought stock options; reduced our savings by a bit.
5. Reduced husband's take-home pay and raised his tax contribution since we are currently bringing home more money than we did last year.

What went wrong this month?
1. Shopping for clothes. Eek. But it's so nice to have something new to wear in my closet.
2. My husband spent more on alcohol than I would have liked. :-/ Hopefully, what he bought will last until the summer, if not beyond.
3. My ice skates broke, so we had to pay for rental skates. Granted it was only $3 at a time, but it is still frustrating that skates I've only used a few times broke. They were over 10 years old though, so it was bound to happen.
4. My jeans ripped and I had to buy a new pair. Luckily they were available used on Poshmark for a quarter of their original price!
5. We ate out more than we should have. I don't know why.

What went right this month?
1. By keeping track of my clothing spending on Google doc, I was aware of how much I was spending, even if I ultimately spent more than I should have.
2. Making leftovers for my husband to take as lunches over the weekend. It's hard to see a monetary difference since it is money not spent, but I can make assumptions.
3. Avoiding buying groceries we don't need. I'm not sure how we managed to stay under budget honestly, but I'll take it!
4. Credit scores headed up! Yay!!!
5. We didn't spend more than we made! Granted we haven't done that since September, but sometimes you should celebrate the little successes.

Financial plans/goals for next month?
1. Return clothing that doesn't work for me. Get price adjustments on clothing I like.
2. Pay taxes somehow. :(
3. Consider setting our Bank of America 3% category.
4. Raise my tax contribution. :(
5. Avoid alcohol purchases to keep grocery costs down. 
6. If we go on a trip, try to pay in points.

This month didn't go as well for us as last month and I suspect next month will be even worse with a hefty tax bill. All we can do is keep on trying. Luckily, putting together this post has put my finances in the forefront of my brain, so maybe I will make better choices next month than I might have if I had not written this post.

How do you stay on track for your goals? Do you think blogging is a good way to stay motivated? Or, if you are a more private person, what do you do instead? I'd love to hear!

Financial Resolution Goals 2019

March Lookback

Life is complicated. Sometimes it's nice to just sit back and document where you are. And not necessarily in the form of a checklist, like I do with IWSG or my financial posts.

The following is where I am right now, without placing any judgment on myself whatsoever.

Listening to:

So many things.

1. Jack Johnson: Constellations, Better Together. He's just a calm, cool musician.

2. the whole La La Land soundtrack but especially "Another Day In the Sun", "A Lovely Night" (makes me laugh) and "City of Stars" (the duet between Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone). The jazz music makes me so happy and has me desperate to go to a jazz club.

3. Lady Gaga "Shallow" and "Always Remember Us This Way". Unfortunately, it always makes me tear up. Who knew Lady Gaga had that in her? Well, maybe most of you did. I didn't, though.

4. The Guardians of the Galaxy Soundtrack. Are there people out there who don't like this music? If so, I don't know them.

5. Abba: Waterloo. Some classics never die.

6. Fugees: Killing Me Softly

7. Throw in a bit of No Doubt and 90's pop. It keeps me feeling upbeat and is a throwback to my childhood.


Throwing myself mentally, physically, and emotionally into something. It's an incredibly hard place to get to, but it's something I'd very much like to find a way to do again.


Summer vacation. Maybe a trip to LA? Trying to convince hubby we can afford it. 🤨

For real though? April A-Z. It's taken an unexpected turn. Something simpler than originally planned. Maybe I can pull this off?

Anxiously Awaiting:

nothing? In general, I'm just an anxious person.

Music is helping me to remain calm during the work week. I'm so grateful the people I work for enjoy playing the piano; it makes the days easier to get through. And before work, I'm all about headphones.

I've also taken up ice skating on the weekends. Skating is a great way to relax and let go of worries; I never want to get off the rink once I get on it… 

Interested to Know:

if LA really is miserably hot in the middle of summer. How does it compare to Miami?

Keeping A Secret:

Someone recently asked me about the book that most influenced my life, then proceeded to order it. Let me be clear: it was a childhood favorite, and I feel deeply about it. It wasn't really something I wanted to share, though. So now I'm all self-conscious about my choice in books. Of course, I'm also curious to know what this person will think about the book. (This person isn't the audience the author originally intended the book to be for, I don't think.)


Free People Daisy Chain Dress
Free People Sweet Little Tee
Ice Skates!


A little boring, but I'm working my way through Barron's Painless Grammar by Rebecca Elliott. Hopefully, it will help me with my grammar issues.

So what have you been up to?

With March halfway over, are those of you that are participating in April A-Z ready for the challenge?

For those of you not participating, what have you been up to? Any books or music I should check out? How do you deal with feelings of anxiety? Have you ever reached a place where you can put your entire heart and soul into something?

Wordless Wednesday 2019 #2

Avalon Theatre in Avalon on Catalina Island in CA (April 2018)

This is the "Casino" Avalon theatre located in Avalon on Catalina Island in California. You can pay to take a tour of the theatre during the day or you can go see a movie there and view the inside for free! Justin and I took the movie route and saw Lara Croft: Tomb Raider 2. It wasn't the best movie, but we enjoyed the chance to relax and unwind during our travels.

Have you ever taken an alternative approach to tourist attractions?

Wordless Wednesday 2019 #1

San Luis Obispo, California (April 2018)

My husband has officially set me up with a DROBO, a VPN, and a remote server. I think I'm in business. Now to get it all working correctly for me to access my files remotely…

Going through images from just over a year ago has been a wild adventure. I can't wait to share more!

March 2019 IWSG

February Goals
Plan and prep for April A-Z.
Write a monthly financial review post.
– Finish with the DROBO back up. (Just need to back up Egypt/Berlin images.)
And talk to Justin about how to access files from outside the home. (Hello Raspberry Pi!)
List one more item on Poshmark.

Additional Successes
• Got rid of two trash bags of junk, took 5 boxes of old toys, books, and clothes to Goodwill, recycled 4 boxes of old papers.
• Found some old postcards that had been missing for 10 years! Also found my journals from high school. Made for some fun reading. :)
• Bought the Raspberry Pi so Justin can set up a server for my image files. My ultimate goal is that I will be able to edit them from anywhere in the world. (Not having constant access is making it difficult to prepare for April A-Z.)
• Planned out Justin's and my vacation schedule for the rest of the year. Now to pick out places and see what we can afford.
• Justin got one of the lights we brought back from Egypt working!
• We also got our Christmas lights from Paris plugged in!
• I lost 5 pounds. Unintentional but welcome.

March Goals
– Plan and prep for April A-Z.
– Write a monthly financial review post.
– Maybe raspberry pi will be up and running?
– Spend more time outside as the weather gets nicer. I'll set my goal to 2 days outside?
– Get tires on truck rotated.

IWSG Question –– Whose perspective do you like to write from best, the hero (protagonist) or the villain (antagonist)? And why?

I typically write from the perspective of the hero. I really should try writing from the villain's perspective. It would be more fun. :) I guess I've just never thought of doing it before.

Your Turn

Did you have a successful February? Get a lot accomplished? I feel like I spent most of the month worried about something that I'm not sure is important, so I wasn't able to focus on other things as well as I should have. Maybe March will be better for me. And maybe it will be better for you too. <3.

Click here to learn more and
link up with IWSG!

Monthly Financial Update: February 2019

In December, when reviewing my finances for 2018, I mentioned my desire to look at them on a monthly basis in 2019. Justin and I spent a little too much in 2018 and let our finances get the best of us. Maybe by looking at our finances monthly (and let you guys/gals keep me in check), we will do better this year. That's the goal anyway.

Here's month #2.


green - this year; yellow - last year

Where We Spent Our Money:

Top 10 Locations
1. Publix (groceries)

2. Electricity
3. Kroger (groceries)
4. Trader Vic's (restaurant)
5. Starbucks – how we avoid traffic in the morning
6. Quiktrip (gas)
7. Cell Phone
8. Kroger gas
9. Life Insurance
10. Baraonda (restaurant)

Top 10 Categories
1. Food and Dining
2. Bills and Utilities
3. Auto & Transport – parking in Atlanta, car wash, gas
4. Financial – life insurance
5. Personal care – hair
6. Shopping – clothes, home improvement
7. Fees & Charges – interest
8. Gifts & Donations – Valentine's Day gifts for kids

compared to Feb 2018

Net Income:


Credit Card Debt

Student Loan Debt

* Loan Payoff Date 11/1/22
* Emergency Funds: $10675
* Credit Scores: 731 (Justin), 796 (me)

Overview of the Biggest Impacts This Month
1. All of the kids I babysit for got sick, so I made a little bit more money this month.
2. Changing our withholdings should reduce our monthly income. :(
3. Eating dinner every Friday with friends and watching a tv show with them. We don't have to fight traffic, we don't have to go out to eat to avoid traffic, and we get to be social.
4. We went to see a comedian in Atlanta! It was a lot of fun, but it added extra parking and dinner costs to our month. Worth it though.
5. We had to stock up on things we were running low on or that had expired like razors and Claritin. That added up fast.

What went wrong this month?
1. Went to pay income taxes and realized we owe a lot. We decided to hold off until April to submit. In the meantime, we are adjusting our withholdings.
2. We weren't able to pay as much toward credit cards as we had hoped despite reducing our spending dramatically. Guess we will try again next month.
3. I kept forgetting to purchase Starbucks gift cards from the drugstore to get 5x the points. It's a little thing, but it could make a difference in our finances another month.
4. Buying unnecessary Valentine's Day gifts. The kids were sick and I wasn't able to give them the gifts. So essentially it was a waste of money.
5. I had to make decisions about which children of the two families I work for to babysit when they were sick. This meant I made more money with one family and less with the other. Plus, I was trying to avoid getting sick myself.

What went right this month?
1. More money!
2. Returned $170 Uggs. They were cute but ultimately not what I wanted in a shoe. So the search for the perfect snow boot continues. Maybe one day I will find them. In the meantime, yay $170!
3. Only $45 spent on clothing for Justin and me! And I didn't feel like I had nothing to wear either.
4. Justin bought a "server" for me for less than $100. Initially, we were expecting to spend much more! (Computer engineer husband ftw?)
5. Even when we weren't eating dinner at home, Justin made enough leftovers for him to take for lunch during the week saving us about $10 a day that he was spending on eating out (which wasn't every day but it was often enough that this made a difference).

Financial plans/goals for next month?
1. Spend less on food? This one will be hard because I felt like we did much better this month.
2. I've been paying for a 20-year-old email address month by month this year, trying to decide whether to get rid of it. It's cheaper if I pay yearly. So I probably should either decide or go ahead and eat the yearly cost.
3. I bought the peanut butter crackers I eat occasionally for lunch in bulk, so the cost of my lunch will dramatically decrease for the next few months. (Yay Costco!)
4. No holidays or birthdays (that I'm aware of, that I need to shop for) for March, so gift purchase should decrease.
5. Stay home on weekends more. It saves money and gas.

I guess the key to conquering our financial goals is to take them one step at a time, one month at a time. I think we did much better this month than we did last month, but it's getting harder for me to think of things I need to change. I really need to sit down with our finances and analyze how much we are spending unnecessarily and where we can break up our expenses so they are spread out over the month. Maybe this will be that month.

How are you all doing? Now that we are on month two, do you have any suggestions for me? Which area of your budget has been the hardest for you to conquer and how did you do it?