Lifestyle

Overspending, Goals, and The Dream of Retirement

February 14, 2019

I hate to start with a cliche “I’m going on a no-spend diet, you guys!” but…I’m going on a no-spend diet, you guys.

We just returned from Cancun for our 9 year anniversary (more on that later) and my anxiety at looking at my American Express bill was very high.

In addition, I’ve really been thinking about my life goals and what I want to be when I grow up (note: I’m 35). I try so very hard to embrace the conveniences of corporate life: subsidized health care, 401k matches, steady pay, shutting off at 5 pm, and yet I still have the itch to hate-quit every day. Not that I even hate my job, far from it, but it’s not what I really want for a longterm strategy. I am, for better or for worse, a creative and someone who cringes at the “ass in the seat from 8 am – 5 pm no matter if you have work to do or not.” Consequently, I’m usually in trouble for being away from my desk, and yet somehow my work is done on time…but perceptions are perceptions I guess.

With the addition of this most recent trip way from all of this, I’ve now realized that I need to embrace who I am and lean into my previous goals for early retirement/self-employment again. The problem is, of course, that I have way more skin in the game this time. Being the breadwinner and homeowner means new responsibilities, having to practice better patience, and bide my time. But that doesn’t mean I can’t start a trickle effect into our ultimate goal: Retire completely in 10 years and buy a house in Mexico to spend the winters at, AirBnB-ing it while we’re away (and maybe our current house, too, though I can’t imagine there’s a serious demand for suburbian living in the dead of winter in Upstate NY).

The problem, however, is the lifestyle creep I’ve afforded myself thanks to credit card churning and the perks it offers. We’ve planned and taken very lavish vacations thanks to credit card points, and with my increased salary means a feeling of finally being able to afford ourselves little luxuries. Consequently, my spending has been adding up. Luckily, it’s not to the point where I’ve committed the ultimate sin, paying credit card interest, but has left me with very little to work with in terms of saving and investing. And it’s not even like I’m heading to Givenchy or something, the majority of my purchases come from thrift stores. But the amount of trips adds up, and $30 – $100 several weeks in a row adds up.

Now that we’re home, it’s time for me to clean house, so to speak and go on a spending diet. Ideally, I want to make it till the end of April, but if I can go until Alt. (last week of March) without spending, I’ll be happy. Hell, my original goal was the end of February!

My Rules:

  • Spending on normal bills and groceries is a-okay. Let’s keep it real, my utility companies give 0 fucks about my spending habits, they just want their money.
  • Monthly expenses are okay: Namely, my kickboxing membership and my gym membership
  • Medical expenses are okay: Dr appts are already scheduled
  • Absolutely necessary business expenses are okay: Gotta pay to ship stuff

Cutting Out:

  • Thrift store runs + online thrift shops
  • Amazon (I love you, Amazon)
  • Starbucks
  • Restaurants

End Goals:

  • Knock out at least $7k of debt
  • Have $1k in a separate savings account
  • Invest in 50 more shares of my high-dividend stocks

All in all that’s like $10k of work hence the “end of April” part. More as we go…stay tuned.

Lifestyle

a dry January

January 11, 2019

11 days, and weekends are the worst. Am I able to make it this entire month? One day at a time I guess.

 

I wouldn’t consider myself a heavy drinker, as Smirnoff Raspberry Rose seltzers are my drink of choice and the alcohol content in those is “ish” at best, but I’ve slowly grown to having one every night. While I guess this is no different from someone else having a nightly glass of wine, it began to bother me as it felt like I had lost control of the situation and it was becoming more a requirement than a wind-down. Also there’s little doubt it’s been impeding my weight loss efforts.

 

So I took the popular challenge going around on social media to have a dry January. I think it’s been going as well as can be expected as I’ve gone nearly half a month without a drink and haven’t felt any effects, but I think about it constantly, especially since I have a case of seltzers sitting there in the fridge.   

 

It’s like any food addiction, I guess.

Lifestyle

Streamlining My Business Life

January 8, 2019

The promise of more responsibilities at the day job means I need to take stock of my, er, extracurricular side businesses, and assess what fat can be cut off to save myself a little sanity.

Back in July, I decided to really plan out what 2019 would look like for the home decor blog, as it’s my most precious project and most likely to be the sustainable asset. I worked out an editorial calendar with my blog team to keep expectations clear, and also to feel less like I’m throwing shit on a wall and seeing what blog posts stick. One of the things I’ve had trouble with is coming up with blog ideas on the fly, or I’ll come up with them at the most inopportune times (driving) and quickly forget to write them down. Or they’ll get written into one of my 300 notebooks, never to be seen again.

So now all of 2019 is planned out. Well, the themes for 2019 are planned out, my blog and video topics are only done for Q1, but it’s bloody good progress for me. It might make me groan a little bit to feel like I’ve assigned myself homework, but it removes the brain shut down and gives me a direction.

I’ve also done the same with the business blog, which I’ve revived thanks to my upcoming speaking gig. Which leaves this blog…I don’t really intend to give this blog any sort of “purpose” exactly, as it’s more of a stream of consciousness project for me and I feel like I need one thing that feels uncontrolled.

Lifestyle

2018 Year in Review

December 31, 2018

2018 was the year of professional wins and personal stumbles. A year of turmoil and growth. The yin and the yang of it all were in full swing this year.

I turned 35 in October and am working towards entering the world of “middle aged” person. It feels so weird to think that I’m 35. I don’t feel 35 in my maturity or abilities, but there are the telltale signs that come with aging: groans, loss of metabolism and astonishment at things not working like they used to, weird random hairs on the body, having to wonder if *this* pain is something fixable or if I’m at the age where I learn to live with it.

Overall, I don’t think getting older bothers me much. I haven’t had a gray hair yet, but I know it will come and so be it. I’ve learned to work out my feelings and deal with emotions, both on the surface and repressed or accustomed to. I’ve grown so much in my professional life and feel like I’ve taken a better grasp on my boundaries, though I still give in sometimes at work because of wanting to please my bosses. I don’t think I’ll ever have the ability to fully not want to please authorities…thanks, lack of attention from parents!

It’s not all bad and I think if I looked back objectively on this year, I’d say there were net gains to be had and a balance to the world.

Got laid off from the job I helped build. From there I accepted a job that was sold as far different than it actually was. Rather than give in and accept my fate, I said “not good enough” and aggressively went job hunting. Left that place after a month to my current role where I’m so appreciated it stuns me and makes me wonder if they see something I cannot.

This was also the year of intentional selfcare. Or intending to have intentional selfcare. I’ve never been good at this as it’s often felt like a waste of productive time, though I’ve learned that it is productive in ways I didn’t understand. It seems small, but I kept appointments with doctors and dentists, I had surgery to correct a pain in my toes, and I grew in therapy. I still have a long way to go towards liking myself, nevermind loving, but I do feel a significant change in the confidence I have towards my mental capabilities.

I can’t say the same about my physical side. This year, I’ve seen numbers on a scale that I never thought would be part of my life. I’ve felt winded more easily and allowed my binge eating disorder to overcome my discipline. I’m disappointed in myself, but I know now that it’s due to not having a set plan, just sort of “20 carbs or less every day! Oh, except today, and every other day this week. But seriously guys, 20 carbs or less!” I’ve felt the drive to change come and I’ve invested in tools to help me manage, track, and combat this stumble.

2019 will be another year of firsts: first “honeymoon” vacation we’ve ever taken (Cancun in February), first time I’ve spoken at a conference, and many others to come that I don’t even know will happen.

I’m excited for 2019 because it holds endless possibilities and opportunities. I know that some will be challenging, and some will make me want to hide from the world in shame/anger/depression, but if I keep going the way I did this year, they won’t stop me from achieving my goals.

Actual Goals for 2019

  • 150lb
  • Clean out my office
  • Consolidate and streamline business efforts
  • Clean out and sell off old craft supplies
  • Develop automated streams of passive income for BH and MB
  • Net a 6 figure income (combined)
  • $0 debt
  • Front load BH and MB blogs to allow myself space to fuck up
  • Set up trip to Tokyo 2020 and pay with credit card points
  • Begin tattoo sleeve
  • Red hair
  • Use the massage gift certificate that’s been sitting in my office for 7 months now (ugh)
  • New therapist if needed
  • Have no “death pile” of vintage inventory
  • Have enough business income to keep LLC, or work towards closing (fees are a bitch)
Lifestyle

Recovering

December 25, 2018

This holiday break was an intentional pain-filled time. I decided to take off from Dec 20th – Jan 2nd in order to recover from my first ever surgery (unless you count wisdom teeth).

For years now I’ve had a weird sensation in my 4th toe on the left foot, where it felt almost…dead? Sometimes it would tingle but mostly it seemed to just hang a little and feel floppy (weird, I know). I mentioned it to my PCP in Brooklyn, but she merely waved it off and told me to wear better shoes. Then, you know, billed me.

Cut to 3 years later where I have better health insurance and a job that allows me to do crazy things like take care of myself. My toe wasn’t getting better and had become even more of a nuisance, to the point where I could no longer keep any sort of shoe on for a full day without a burning sensation. I finally went to a podiatrist who did some x-rays and found nothing wrong with the bones, which meant, most likely, that the bottom tendon of the toe had become tight and was pulling it down. The solution was to put me under and cut the tendon with the assumption that the top tendon would “bounce” the toe back into place.

I was told it was outpatient, so I just assumed it was going to be like the wisdom teeth: come in, breathe this air, goodnight! Wake up, be sore and out of it, take some pills, call it a day.

Nope.

Outpatient, I found out, still meant full-blown pre-surgery: gowns, removal of piercings, IVs, hair nets, the whole shebang. I remember being wheeled into the white surgery room and that’s it. I woke up in recovery with Steve coming in to verify I was alive.

The surgery turned out to be a success in my surgeon’s eyes. He said the toe immediately began to right itself once the tendon was severed. They wrapped my foot up, gave me a SUPER sexy velcro sandal, and told me to take some Tylenol and call it a day.

Cut to the next day where I had to crawl to get to the bathroom and was in exceeding amounts of pain. I get that we’re in the middle of an opioid epidemic, but why are we not trying to manage any sort of pain? I had to beg for a prescription, and only then it was a low dosage which is meant to supplement my Tylenol.

Anyhow, we’re now on Day 4 of recovery: Merry Christmas! My time has been spent laying on couches or beds as my Fitbit desperately tries to comprehend why we’re not moving whatsoever. The monotonous boredom of having to be in one place without reprise has meant an endless cycle of reddit, Instagram, buying things on Amazon, and inattentively leafing through my stack of magazines that I never bother to read. I keep wanting to work on something, anything, as my list of shit I wanted to accomplish over this break keeps looming over my head.

So here I am. This feels like an exercise in uselessness (do you care about my toe?) but also a good way to work back into the world of productivity. It seems that my self-care regimen means taking Oxys, wishing for showers, and getting back to blogging.

The best part of this, though, is that Steve has finally learned to make coffee for me. Worth it.

Travel

Cincinnati

November 2, 2018

Every other year we head to the family for the holidays. Thanksgiving is spent in Cincinnati, OH with the Mr.s’ side, while Christmas is spent in Florida with my family. It’s been a system that’s worked well for us so far: we do our good children jobs and get to spend the years in between at home in our pjs (our “just us” Thanksgivings are both top of both our lists for favorite holidays), but I will admit that it’s nice to spend time away once in a while.

Prior to meeting Steve, I had never been to Cincinnati. Being from Pittsburgh, the furthest I ever got into Ohio was Columbus and Cleveland, somehow always getting caught in a torrential downpour on the drive home which led me to believe that there was some force that let very few escape the state easily. Cincy (Cinti?) however, has always had a little bit of charm to me that Columbus and Cleveland didn’t. Maybe it’s just the association of it being my husband’s hometown, but I’ve felt like it’s got some hidden gem qualities.

I should probably list my favorite parts of the town here, except I can’t remember their names. There’s a park near Skyline Chili we like to walk through, and of course, the Findley Market is a requirement. Downtown is starting to revive itself into a safer area like Pittsburgh did (or is still working on?). The areas my in-laws live in are changing at a rapid clip, especially thanks to gentrification, so it will be interesting to see what their neighborhoods are like in 5 years.

Our trips are short and sweet, but I think that they end up giving Steve a little refresh. He’ll get LaRLaRosa’szza and Skyline Chili and I’ll get his Mom’s famous cooking. Then we’ll come back to our house in our little town and hunker down for the impending snow-in and prepare for the next year when it’s just us, our pjs, and our pets.

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