August Lookback



It's another month and thus another edition of the "lookback". August is passing by far more quickly than I anticipated. (Don't most months?) School has started where I live, and I'm already missing the "lazy" days of summer. Where is the beach when you need it?

Anyway, here's what I've been up to –

Listening to: 

You've Got Mail

Part-Time Working Hockey Mom was looking for movies where ice cream is consumed. I thought this was one. We both decided it had been too long since we last saw it, so I've now got it playing in the background while I, again, don't pay attention to it and, instead, focus on blogging.

This brings up a fair point – do people actually sit back and watch movies any more? I feel like any time I'm watching movies or tv shows with my friends, we are usually on our phones multi-tasking. That or I'm editing pictures on my laptop or writing a blog post… I'm never sitting idle.

The good news? I'm going to a screening for a movie where I won't (and can't) be multi-tasking! No idea if the movie will be any good, though. Guess I'll find out. Maybe it will give me a chance to slow down and relax.

Remembering:

a time way back when, when getting an email felt like it did in the movie You've Got Mail

"I turn on my computer. I wait impatiently as it connects. I go online, and my breath catches in my chest until I hear three little words: You've got mail. I hear nothing. Not even a sound on the streets of New York, just the beating of my own heart. I have mail. From you.” - Kathleen Kelly in You've Got Mail

Now, advertisers capitalize on that feeling, overwhelming a person daily with email. So to combat that, we use programs like Unroll.me risking our privacy to prevent all of the stress that comes from 15,000 emails a day. Is there a way to get back to that feeling of excitement when you open your inbox? 

Planning:

nothing at the moment 😳

Anxious about:

French 101.

I took German with my husband in high school, but we weren't even together then! He's so smart that I am certain I will fall behind. My hope is that, because the class is so small, the experience will be more about learning something and less about taking tests. If I can emerge from the class knowing something more about French than I already do, I will consider that a success.

Interested to Know:

I went to a party on Saturday at the house of a co-worker. She fixed the most amazing Colombian soup. She is kick-ass, extremely kind and generous, and has so much personality. My husband and I ran into her on a random date night and she oh-so-kindly went out of her to welcome us into her friend group.

So what I'm wanting to know is – how do you do that? How do you speak your mind and keep the peace?

Granted, she is older and thus has waaaaaaayyyy more life experience than me, but I would really love to emulate her. I would love to ooze confidence like she does. ❤️

Keeping A Secret: 

I figured out a Christmas present for some friends and I am super excited about it. I know it's far in advance, but I would need to send it early. Maybe after Christmas, I will blog about it. (Or at least after they get it; it's the kind of present that they really should open before Christmas.)

Shopping: 

the Vanderbilt Skirt made by Maeve and sold by Anthropologie (I discovered it can be worn as a super-cute dress! Probably only works that way if you are short, though…)
Across the Sea Tunic in Lilac Fields from Free People (I love this dress in the other colors I've purchased! It has pockets!)
Coast to Coast Convertible Top in the Tomato Combo from Free People (No idea if I'll like it, but I think it could be cute with bike shorts.)
French Now for my French 101 class beginning later this month! (Bought used.)
• a Johansen Missy bag in mint for my laptop (Already gotten so many compliments! And it is so big! -- I bought mine used.)

Reading:

nothing

I suspect that the number of books I read will begin to dwindle as I take on French 101 in the next few weeks.

What are you up to this month? Doing anything fun or different? Do you remember a time when checking emails was fun? Do you actually sit and watch a movie rather than multi-tasking through it?

101 in 1001 Review


Overview

Idea from: Wandering Weekenders

The Challenge: Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days (roughly 2.75 years)

The Criteria: Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and be stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on my part).

Why 1001 Days?: Many people have created lists in the past – frequently simple goals such as new year’s resolutions. The key to beating procrastination is to set a deadline that is realistic. 1001 Days (about 2.75 years) is a better period of time than a year because it allows you several seasons to complete the tasks, which is better for organizing and timing some tasks.


START: October 31, 2016
END: July 29, 2019

See post here.

What Went Well –
• Cleaned and organized my belongings: got rid of more than 100 items! And made some money too!
• With social media: I grew my twitter following and cleaned it up! I also started using facebook.
• I tried new things with my photography – like shooting the stars!
• Losing weight is easy when you are depressed. (But not at any other time!)
• Even though we weren't able to complete all of our altruistic goals, working on this area has encouraged us to give more thought to the poor people in our community, We tended to do better with giving money to others as opposed to offering up our time.
• We completed most of our travel goals. A lot of them had to do with a trip to Hawai'i. I feel like future travel goals should be more generic. It's easier to visit "a memorial" as opposed to the "Pearl Harbor Memorial". Know what I mean?

What Went Badly –
• Work on the blog. I think my goals were too big and not specific enough.
• I didn't touch pinterest or instagram too much. Maybe future goals should be more specific?
• Sharing my photography with friends and family is hard. I think I'm too judgemental and overthink it.
• It was hard to keep up with my reading goals. I almost felt inactive and like I wasn't working on a goal when I was reading. Obviously, I was, but that's not what it felt like.
• Also, make-up takes too much time.
• I don't like goals related to buying things. I already spend enough money as it is.
• I'm not very creative outside of photoshop and editing photos. Once again, as with reading, doing creative activities often felt like a waste of precious time.
• Goals requiring help from another person (like food-related ones) were harder to accomplish, because, often, those people weren't around or were busy doing other things.
• Even though Justin and I accomplished a few of our money goals, this is the area of 101 in 1001 that we worked the hardest on. If I decide to do 101 in 1001 again, I will definitely work on this area again.

My favorite goals/the most life-changing:
• Ice skating! I hadn't done it in over 10 years, and it was amazing to get back on the rink for the first time since!
• Cleaning and organizing. I got rid of so many clothes and books. And I loved reliving my high school "glory days" through my journals. I know that a lot more organization needs to happen, but the 101 in 1001 challenge got me started on what was and is a daunting process.
• Shooting the stars and fireworks. I've got awesome photos to show from it!
• Going to the drive-in to see a movie. It was just so much fun! And so cheap!
• Trying a pina colada. It opened up my world to tiki-style drinks and the tiki culture.

If I do 101 in 1001 again…
• There are some areas where I need to be more specific and some where I need to be less specific.
• I should limit any goals that require help from others.
• For travel goals, I should be less specific.

Areas I would work on again…
• Money
• Photography
• Cleaning and Organizing
• Limited recipes
• Blog and social media goals (if they are specific)

Areas I would avoid…
• Anything that requires buying/purchasing (unless it fits into the organization category or is for fixing something I already own).
• Losing weight and exercising. It wasn't fun and I'm not entirely sure it benefited me in any way.

I did love the push to try things – some that I had done before and some that I had not. I'll have to put some thought into how I broke up my list and see if there is a better way to do it. I might also need to lessen the number of goals – even over the course of 3 years, 101 things seemed almost unattainable.

Are you one of the bloggers that participated in 101 in 1001? What did you think about the challenge? Were you successful? Or can you see where you need to improve?

If you didn't participate in 101 in 1001, would you consider a challenge like that in the future? Is there anything you would change

August IWSG 2019



July Goals
– Decide if I want to do 101 in 1001 again. (How did it go by so fast!?)
Watch spending.
✗ Watch calorie intake.

Additional Successes
• Found car insurance for cheaper! And paid for the full year in advance.
• Checked a few things off of my 101 in 1001
• Took pictures of stars and fireworks!
• signed up for French 101
• reached 1050+ followers on Twitter!
• came up with an awesome idea for a Christmas present!
• I lost weight (a few months ago) and fit into a beautiful dress that had been too tight! Needless to say, I took advantage and immediately wore it out to dinner. :)
• Worked on August travel plans.
• Got mine and my husband's vacation schedule marked on the calendar for the rest of this year and looked at what I expect to happen next year.
• After nearly a year, we finally got the tires rotated on the truck!

August Goals
– Decide if I want to do 101 in 1001 again. (How did it go by so fast!?)
– Work on Christmas present. (It has to be completed by October.)
– Look at the budget.
– Pay for car tags.

IWSG Question –– Has your writing ever taken you by surprise? For example, a positive and belated response to a submission you'd forgotten about or an ending you never saw coming?

Sometimes, yes. There have been times when I'm not sure how to approach a topic and, after just free writing for a bit on the topic, an idea just comes to me! That's pretty cool. And usually, when that happens, what I write ends up being better than it would have been had I not gone into the topic idea=less.

Inspiration/Realization

About two weeks ago, I was ice skating and I fell. I had run into somebody and it was probably 60% my fault. I was skating backward and this person was just standing on the rink chatting with his friends. He tried to get my attention and when I turned, BAM! I fell on my face.

Note: I said face. 

Not butt.

Shamefully, I apologized and moved off the rink thinking that I would be fine; I just needed a minute. My entire focus was on getting to a seat; when dealing with pain, I am prone to passing out. A lady who had been watching immediately came to my side as I exited the rink, and asked if I was ok. She said my fall scared her; could she get me some ice? I told her I was fine, but she was persistent. She told me that my face was starting to turn blue. 

Luckily, my husband, who hadn't seen my fall, got off the rink at about that time; I just laid my head in his lap trying to compose myself. But I couldn't. Even though my pain was minimal, I just started balling.

Scarier than potentially having a concussion was the idea that I might have a black eye.

I know that sounds sick and gross – to be more concerned about your looks than whether or not you have been seriously injured, but there I was crying over the possibility that my face would look different for a week or two.

I don't fully blame myself for my worry. 

Society tells women that they need to be beautiful to be of value.

But what I'm trying to share with you here is that you, my friend, have value, whether or not you are male or female, tall or short, thin or fat. You have worth that is not tied up in your looks or your skills. Your value isn't in the book you've never written OR the many books you have written. Your value lies in your mere existence. No matter who you are or what kind of person you are, you deserve to be loved. <3.

Don't ever let anyone (or an ice skating rink!) tell you what you are worth.

Your Turn

What do you think? Did you have a successful July? Do you have any big plans for August?

Have you ever had a realization like the one I experienced this month, where you are knocked to your knees before you realize what is truly important?

Past IWSG posts: FebruaryMarchMayJuneJuly

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link up with IWSG!

Monthly Financial Update: July 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 #7:

Spending:

green = this year, yellow = last year

Compared to Last Year:
• We spent more on auto & transport (paid for a year of car insurance), and entertainment (signed up to take French, went to see a movie, got ice skates sharpened).
• We spent less on food & dining, travel, shopping, bills & utilities, personal care, and fees & charges.


green line = this month; dotted line = last month
Compared to Last Month:
• We spent more on auto & transport (paid for a year of car insurance), food & dining, travel (to LA), entertainment (movies, travel, ice skating), and bills & utilities.
• We spent less on shopping and personal care.


Where We Spent Our Money:

Top 10 Merchants:
1. Car insurance
2. Waldorf LaQuinta (hotel, food)
3. Institute of Language (French class)
4. Hyatt (2 hotels, food, valet parking)
5. Electricity
6. Costco (groceries, car oil)
7. Kroger
8. Lorimar Winery
9. Free People (dress)
10. Alamo (rental car)

Top 10 Categories:
1. Auto & Transport (car insurance)
2. Food & Dining
3. Travel (hotels, rental car, Lyft)
4. Entertainment (seeing a movie, get ice skates sharpened, tourist attractions)
5. Shopping (waiting on a return to go through)
6. Bills/Utilities
7. Personal Care
8. Uncategorized (ATM withdrawals, I don't know what hubby used the money for)

9. Life Insurance
10. Fees & Charges (ATM fee, should be returned)


Budgeting:
✓  Gas & Fuel – at
Groceries – over
✗ Restaurants – over
Hair Appointments – under
✗ Everything Else – over


Net Income:


Debt:
credit cards

student loans

How Did I Do On My Financial Goals for July?
✗ Find a new dry cleaner.
Write Chase so that I don't lose my right to sue them!
Return clothing if I'm not going to wear it. 🙄
✗ Watch the grocery budget. Don't buy anything unnecessary.
– Use the correct credit cards for 5% cashback. (Freedom for gas, Discover for restaurants)
Numbers:
* Loan Payoff Date 11/1/22
* Emergency Funds: $9043
* Credit Scores: 767 (Justin), 802, 806 (me)


Overview of the Biggest Impacts This Month:
1. Car insurance.
2. Travel to LA (purchasing wine, staying at hotels, eating out, rental car, rental camera)
3. Deciding to take French.
4. An additional bill was added into the mix (garbage).
5. We opened up a credit card with 0% interest that we're going to use to juggle funds and hopefully pay our credit cards down with.

What went wrong this month?
1. Didn't budget for groceries correctly after purchasing wine at the beginning of the month.
2. Citi is getting rid of its price adjustment option. :(
3. The dog had fleas.
4. Both of our camera bags died. I bought a used one and hubby bought a new one. (He runs with his bag, so he needed more of a guarantee that his bag would last than I needed.)
5. While we were out of town, a fridge died, so we ended up having to get rid of perfectly good food. That was frustrating.

What went right this month?
1. Finding car insurance for a cheaper price than what our current company quoted. Being able to pay for the full year in advance.
2. Returned two things and received money back. Citi price adjusted something – more money back.
3. We spent less on travel this year than last!
4. We also spent less on food & dining this month than we did last year in July.
5. We found an $18 bag for putting our ice skates in. We bought it while traveling because we needed another suitcase to store our souvenirs in. We're so glad that the cheap bag has found yet another use in our lives.

Financial plans/goals for August?
1. Get Chase Slate set up.

2. Continue to use the correct credit cards for gas and restaurants.
3. Quit eating out when we aren't hungry for a meal. It's bad for weight gain and for our wallet.
4. Spend less than we did in July on something (groceries, restaurants, or other). It doesn't matter what.
5. Return top to Belk.
6. Pay for car tags.
7. Look for a used wine fridge.
8. Be careful with spending during our short Florida getaway.

This month our biggest downfalls were related to food and shopping. Hopefully, having replaced and fixed things that were broken will keep spending in that area down in August. As for the food? I just need to watch it better. Eating out for meals when I'm not hungry is silly and a waste of money. Buying groceries I'm not able to use? Also a waste of money. We just need to be proactive about what we are buying, making sure we don't have duplicates at home, and making an effort to keep the food we have from going bad before we use it.

I will be glad that some major expenses, like car insurance, for example, won't come around again until next year. And the need to replace laptop bags? I got a good 5 years out of my last bag and my husband got two, so maybe we will be able to hold off on those for another couple of years?

As always, my hope is that I will be going into August with my eyes wide open knowing what is on the horizon and accounting for that. I feel like I frequently find myself exhausted with trying to keep up with our budget, expenses, debt to income ratio, etc, etc and I put things on the backburner. I avoid looking at mint until absolutely necessary. Well, it's August now. With the year more than halfway through, I think I can focus on my goal at hand. Or, at the very least, I'm going to keep trying until I get it right.

Am I the only one that gets exhausted when thinking about budgets? Do you ever get overwhelmed with money?

Financial Resolution Goals 2019