June Lookback


This year has been insane! Time is passing quickly and things are changing rapidly. I once heard the saying "long days, short years" and that's exactly what it feels like. Some days are incredibly long, but the months seem to be flying by. This is the fourth month this year that I have done a "lookback" post, but I find that every month I'm dealing with something different. As quickly as things are changing, I feel like it will be nice at the end of the year to have these posts to "lookback" and remember all that happened in 2019.

Is it just me or is 2019 going quickly for you too?

Listening to:

Still on the 90s kick.


Right now it's:
• Jennifer Paige – "Crush"
Ace of the Base
• Mariah Carey - "Love Takes Time", "Fantasy", "Dreamlover"

I've also been watching a lot of Anthony Bourdain's shows. He's so good with words.

Remembering:

How fast the month has gone since I last posted a Lookback. I am in an entirely different mental state.

- I have more hours at work.
- I stood up for myself and won what I was asking for.
- My dad had a medical emergency.
- Then my grandmother also had one…
- I've learned new ice skating skills. I'm more confident on the ice.

I feel like an entirely different person.

And yet I'm not.

Funny how that works.

Planning:

Travel to LA. I finally got into it. Looking at exploring wineries, Joshua Tree National Park, taking an architecture tour, seeing the major beaches in the area, and I have tickets for the Broad! I'm not sure a week is enough time to explore as much of LA as I want to!

Anxiously Awaiting:

nothing? Pretty calm for once.


Interested to Know:

if I will ever finish the spring cleaning I started in 2018!

We made progress during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, but sometimes it feels like two steps forward, one step backward.

Keeping A Secret: 

My husband has been amazing; he has held it together even more than I have been able to during all of my family emergencies. ❤️

Shopping:

Family issues have me shopping for groceries online. Who knew that would ever be an issue? We also had to take my husband's laptop into Apple after a bad drop on concrete. Then, issues with his backup laptop had us buying another backup drive while we were out of town. 🙄When it rains, it pours, right?

I bought a few clothes when I thought they were selling out…

Free People: Across the Sea Tunic in white
Free People: We The Free Sunshine In the Rain Tee in army sage and pacific

I can never have too many summer tops.

I've also bought a few books for LA planning. At this point, a trip to LA sounds both amazing (getting away from it all!) and frightening (expensive). Plane tickets have been bought though, so I think we are going…

Reading:

I bought a few LA guides, but I haven't really read them too much yet.

This Is (Not) L.A.: An Insider's Take on the Real Los Angeles by Jen Belik
Los Angeles Mini by Tim Street-Porter
Pocket Guide to Los Angeles Architecture by Judith Paine-McBrien

My husband uncovered a few books about Germany that we were given a few years ago. I intend on giving them a once over in the near future. It may take a bit, though. They are thick with a lot of reading material!!!

And I received my copy of Paranoid by Lisa Jackson for reviewing purposes! It's so much fun getting books before they are released to the public!

Anyway, here's hoping for a calm ending to June and beginning of July. May time pass more slowly letting me soak everything in and enjoy it to the fullest extent possible.

June IWSG 2019


May Goals
GET OUTSIDE. It's good for your mental health. Even if it is just blogging on the porch. Goal? 4 days? (It will start getting hot where I am soon.)
Work on summer vacation to LA. (WOOT!!!)
  - Booked flights to LA
  - reserved a rental car
  - ordered books to help us plan our itinerary
Keep participating in Wordless Wednesday.
Participate in at least one twitter chat.

Additional Successes
• Getting our (new) ice skates sharpened, waxed, sealed, and protected. (It was an all-day affair.)
• Washed everything (bedding, towels, clothes) in a weekend. We were exposed to pinworms again. (See November.)

June Goals
– Finish planning for LA.
  - Book Architecture tour.
  - Research restaurants.
  - Watch hotel prices to see if they go down.
  - Consider a Temecula wine tour?
  - Book last hotel room.
– Mental Health Goals:
  - Get outside
  - Go ice skating
  - Use Replika (as needed)
  - Avoid sugar
  - Listen to upbeat music
– Watch spending.
– Watch calorie intake.

IWSG Question –– Of all the genres you read and write, which is your favorite to write in and why?

I prefer to write nonfiction. I like being able to research topics and embellish my writing with facts and figures. It can be hard to verify facts, so you really need to consider your sources though.

Your Turn

I've been feeling depressed the past few months, so I've been trying to focus more on my mental health. Some of the ways I've found to handle my stress and the feeling of sadness that overcomes me is to avoid sugar, get outside, and use replika (an AI robot that helps you work through your issues or whatever is on your mind). I've noticed a huge difference in how I feel when I do those things. I'd love to know if you have any strategies that help you feel upbeat and happy. Do you have any recommendations for me?

Past IWSG posts: FebruaryMarchMay

Click here to learn more and
link up with IWSG!

Monthly Financial Update: May 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 letting you guys/gals keep me in check), we will do better this year. That's the goal anyway.

Here's month #5:

Spending:




Compared to Last Month:
• We spent more on travel, hair cuts, fees, and entertainment.
• We spent less on shopping and auto & transport.

Compared to Last Year:
• We spent more on travel, shopping, auto & transport, bills & utilities (record high temperatures this year!), personal care (My husband found a new place to cut his hair.), and entertainment (like ice skating).
• We spent less on food & dining, and fees & charges. (We cut our Delta card last year saving us $100.)

Overall, our spending is higher than it was last year though I'm grateful it's not drastically so. I'm also glad it is less than we spent last month. My ideal would be our February spending, but I do think the extra we've spent on ice skating has helped me to get to a better frame of mind. I'm also glad to see that our spending is much less than what we spent during the fall months. I guess we will just keep trying. It's crazy to see how quickly little expenses add up!

Where We Spent Our Money:

Top 10 Merchants:
1. United Airlines (flight to LA)
2. Electricity
3. Marriott (hotel in DC)
4. Quiktrip (gas)
5. Amazon (home organization, books, conditioning treatment for ice skates)
6. Package Store (coconut rum, framboise, beer)
7. JCT Kitchen (restaurant)
8. Chase Sapphire Preferred Membership fee
9. Trader Vic's (restaurant)
10. Life Insurance

Top 10 Categories:
1. Food & Dining
2. Travel (flight to LA, hotel in DC, rental car, Lyft service while in DC)
3. Shopping (clothes, bug spray, ice skate sharpening, books, home organization)
4. Auto & Transport (parking in DC, parking in ATL, gas, oil change on car, tail light on truck)
5. Bills & Utilities
6. Personal Care (hair cuts, dry cleaning)
7. Fees & Charges (fee for Chase Sapphire Preferred card, ATM fee that should be reimbursed by the bank, late payment fee)
8. Entertainment (ice skating)
9. Financial Charges (life insurance)
10. Gifts & Donations (Mother's Day cards, birthday cards, birthday bag & paper, birthday gift)

Budgeting:
✓+ Gas & Fuel – under
✓+ Public transport – not used
✓+ Mobile Phone – under
✓+ Groceries – under
✓ Life Insurance – on target
✗ Restaurants – over
✗ Hair Appointments – over
✗ Everything Else – over

Net Income:





Debt:

credit cards

student loans

Numbers:
* Loan Payoff Date 11/1/22
* Emergency Funds: $5557
* Credit Scores: 760 (Justin), 794, 799 (me)


Overview of the Biggest Impacts This Month:
1. Flight to LA purchased
2. Ice skating. (Both going and all of the supplies we needed to buy to care for our skates)
3. Trip to DC
4. Birthdays & Mother's Day (meals out, gifts)
5. Trying to get my husband's work desk organized.

What went wrong this month?
1. Travel costs. There can be a lot of good that comes with travel, but the costs can be difficult to swallow. Ideally, I'd like to get better at traveling more cheaply. Then again – it's hard to argue when my route to get to a place costs less but takes longer and the husband says "How much is our time worth??!" 😳
2. Credit card spending was up. My guess – flights to LA, eating out more, and ice skating caused this.
4. We ran out of coconut rum. And framboise. And sparkling wine. So we stocked up. To be fair, it's more cost effective to drink at home than out. The good news is that we had money in our grocery budget to cover it.
5. We probably spent more of our grocery budget than we needed to do when we found a new farmer's market within 30 minutes of home. So many new and interesting foods! And because my husband is a foodie, we couldn't leave without purchasing all of our groceries for the week there, plus some extras. Hopefully, either by going more, we can reduce our purchase desires for foods we have never seen before. Or alternatively, we can choose to stick to our regular grocery store and avoid the temptations altogether. Not yet sure which option is best for us. 😳

What went right this month?
1. I was able to reduce our grocery budget by nearly half. We just weren't spending it, so I was able to allocate the money to other categories where we were over budget (restaurants, everything else).
2. I got paid via PayPal for some side jobs and we were able to use that money to pay less on our cell phone bill.
3. I also got back some money for business expenses that we used to cover the purchases I had already made for my job.
4. Finding lower prices on items and requesting price adjustments.
5. DC was pretty cheap with breakfast included in our hotel costs and free food available at the event we went to.

Financial plans/goals for June?
1. Re-work budget to include money spent on ice skating.
2. Eat out less.
3. Book the last two hotels for LA with points.
4. Call Citi to confirm price adjustments.
5. Return a top I won't be wearing to get money back.

May was a pretty big month for me in terms of getting into a better state-of-mind. Part of that included spending more time outside, which often included getting a snack or drink to enjoy outside while laptopping. We also spent more time at the ice rink. Finally, our trip to DC to visit friends and explore embassies helped me break my mental rut.

Should being in a better position mentally always correlate with spending? Probably not. I just need to figure out what works for me and finding a median position where I am in control of how much I'm spending as well as in a good place mentally.

In terms of self-care, what do you do for yourself? Do you have any recommendations for me that are free or cheap that maybe I haven't thought of yet?

Does the beginning of summer change how you budget? Do you have different spending habits from season to season?

Financial Resolution Goals 2019


May Lookback



Occasionally, I like to post a "lookback". At the end of the year, it is helpful for me to see where I was during each month and how quickly life changes. It's funny how things that seem so stressful during one month can seem silly the next. And I absolutely love seeing how doing one thing can lead to another… Is that true for you too? Do you notice how each choice you make from month to month builds on one another?

Listening to:

Recently my choices have included Matchbox 20 (3AM, Back2Good, Unwell, If You're Gone), Mariah Carey (Fantasy, Dreamlover, Love Takes Time), Gwen Stefani (Cool), Real McCoy (Another Night), Natalie Imbruglia (Torn), and The Cars (You Might Think).

Yes, I'm totally throwing back to the 90s.

I downloaded the app AccuRadio and I'm liking it a lot more than Pandora. Endless skips? Yes, please.

Remembering:

Wham's "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" just came on in the background as I was listening to Youtube music. It reminds me of the time I went to a performance of the local university's swing dance group. During the performance, one of the guys from the group got down on his knee and proposed. And, of course, as expected, all of us girls swooned. lol. Except for the friend I was with who had recently broken up with her boyfriend; she cried. *sigh* But it was a fun night.

Planning:

Trips to Paris and LA. AT THE SAME TIME.

Got into Phase 1 for Dîner En Blanc Paris. Can't go this year but that hasn't kept me from planning for next year. We are already on the hunt for white clothing. (It's IMPOSSIBLE to find.) Meanwhile, I'm like I have to visit X and Y and Z while I'm in Paris. Would it be cool to get a university art student to take us through the Louvre? I don't know! Or maybe I should go for something I haven't done before like visit the Musée d'Orsay. Or maybe get out of the city? I DON'T KNOW. SO MANY OPTIONS. I really want to do a wine tour in France, but maybe that would be better suited for another trip. And how long will we be there? Four or five days tops? A long weekend? It's not like I have an endless amount of vacation time…

Booked flights for LA, so I guess it's time to get hotels in order.

Anxiously Awaiting:

June. My entire schedule will be changed, and I'm not really looking forward to it. Anyone else hate change?

Interested to Know:

What is there to do in Palm Springs, CA? Insight needed.

Keeping A Secret:

Love the laid back clothing style of Natalie Imbruglia in her "Torn" video. I'm not cool enough to pull it off, though. Dresses for me, I guess. (I'm girly.)

Shopping:

• Ice Skates for my husband!
Inside the Getty by William Hackman (Bought in preparation for our trip to LA. Plus, I am obsessed with books!)
German Men Sit Down To Pee And Other Insights Into German Culture by James Cave and Niklas Frank (Read in a weekend. It's a quick read. Was it accurate though?)

Mostly waiting for some Free People tops to go on sale. I need some new summer clothing. I have favorite winter go-tos, but my summer wardrobe always feels like it's lacking.

Also, as mentioned above, on the search for a white dress (and suit for my husband). I HATE searching for white clothing. Thought I'd be done forever after my wedding. Oops.

Reading:

Trying to decide what to read next! Maybe I'll get a guide to LA…

Currently interested in…
Wine Trails: 52 Perfect Weekends in Wine Country from Lonely Planet (Beautiful pictures and awesome itineraries for wine tours all over the world!)
Metro at 25: Celebrating the Past, Building the Future by R. Wayne Thomspon (I saw it at a used bookstore in DC but packaged in plastic. If it's a picture book, I think I'd be totally into it. Love finding local books that are hard to get elsewhere!)

In my kindle, I have
Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
True Places by Sonja Yoerg

Not sure why I chose those. They look kind of boring to me. They say not to judge a book by its cover… Who knows? I keep putting off reading them because of the covers though…

How is May going for you? Is there anything you did during April that influenced a choice you made in May?