July Goal Update!

Goal: Train for and run the following races: Jaeger Run for Pride, Dash for Donation, Emerald City quarter marathon, and the half at the Columbus Marathon.
Status: Successfully ran the Jaeger Run for Pride.  Race recap is here.  I actually don’t know if I’ll get to the Dash for Donation because of my new work schedule.  I already registered for it, unfortunately.  We’ll see if I can work something out. I am also considering the 5 or 10k at the Giant Eagle MultiSport Festival, but I haven’t decided yet.

Goal: Strength train 3x a week.
Status: I win this time! I win! I officially went back to the gym a week ago today. So I was in Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  That’s four days of strength training, including one day with my trainer.  I also did cardio all of those days, sometimes once at the gym and a short run later in the day. I cannot tell you how awesome it is to be lifting heavy things again.  I started out light, but I am already making progress.  I am also more actively using Fitocracy… find me here.  I am still a little frustrated that I can’t log everything I do because they don’t list all of my exercises.  All of that is besides the point: GOAL ACCOMPLISHED, at least for this past week.

Goal: Write every day.
Status: Ugh. At least I’ve been reading more…

Goal: Read at least one book a month.
Status: I finished  Storm of Swords in record time.  The last A Song of Ice and Fire book took me forever to read.  It was like slogging through a nightmare of awful things happening.  This third book still had awful things (give up all hope for anyone you ever liked), but it went a lot faster. Once finishing that, I started The Help by Kathryn Stockett.  I have seen part of the movie, but would like to read it before finishing the rest.  So far, so good.

Goal: Budget! Budget! Budget!
Status:  Because of my recent job changes, I have worked extra hard to stay on top of my budget. I didn’t do too badly in June, really.  I overdid it a little with the purchase of my new running shoes and some other miscellaneous clothing that I needed, but other than that, I have ended up in a pretty good spot.  If I made no income for July, I could still pay my bills and buy groceries, etc without dipping into my savings, so I think I’m not in bad shape at all.  Any income I make will be helpful and relieve stress, but at least I know I can do it regardless.

I will say also about budgeting that I think I have made a small breakthrough thanks to YNAB (who, by the way, came out with a new version that is AWESOME). I took another one of their free classes and it really got my brain on the right track, as in: look at the budget first. Thanks, YNAB!

Goal: Try something new once a month.
Status:  So for June, I quit my job.  I am coming up on the end of my two weeks of summer FUNemployment, which is a sad thing.  I am onto bigger and better things though, so I am super excited about that.

Goal: Gratitude.
Status: Did a little bit better. If you’ve been following my Twitter at all, you may have seen some #gratitudeproject tweets pop up.  I was especially grateful for my family and friends and all their support.  It has been really awesome.  I am going to continue with this goal since I think it’s been helping my outlook on life.

Goal: Actively work to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
Status: This links directly into gratitude, I think.  Since I’m starting a new job and starting school next month, I think that it’s time to get myself mentally prepared for the coming inevitable ups and downs.  I was so long in a bad situation that I need to make sure that I’m going into the new ones with a good attitude.

Here’s to July!

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Something New: April – Recap

So April’s something new started with this post about trying to live off of my income three years ago.  I posted another blog entry about halfway through the month. I was already struggling with it at that point.

I had the most problems with bills, doctor visits, and surprise expenses.  Because I have more bills, my rent is higher, etc, more money went to those things.  So when Thor had to go to the vet, it would have been impossible for me to pay for it if I kept within my 2009 budget. By the end of the month, I was really just trying to spend as a little as possible in an attempt to get in under the wire on my goal.  I didn’t make it.

I did, however, learn some things to stay better on track.

  • I can still use the budget I might have used back in 2009 for things that vary like groceries, care items, etc.  It can save a lot of money to put a tight cap on how much you’re going to use for those things.
  • Pay in cash.  I kept a card around in case I absolutely had to use it, but if you only take enough cash out to get you through x number of days or through specific errands, you really have to stay with what you have.  I guess that’s only if you have the willpower to do so.
  • Take your limits seriously.  If you are always telling yourself in the back of your mind that you have a safety net, you might never get serious about staying within a budget.  At least, that’s one of my problems. Doing this helped me to really stay focused on the goal even if I didn’t meet it.

So it wasn’t an entirely lost cause.  I got more comfortable with budgeting and YNAB in general.  I also learned that I can mostly live on a smaller income than I have currently, but it would take some real discipline. I am hoping to get better at that discipline.  More discipline = more money saved!

Something New: April – The Halfway Point

We’re officially about halfway through the month, so why not a little update? If you missed my initial post on this goal, please go here. The nutshell: live off of what I was making three years ago.

So how is it going? Not well. Since this is a public site, I don’t want to go too in detail about money and income. It takes away some of the impact, but it makes me feel a little more at ease. I haven’t talked to many people about this plan, but my boyfriend didn’t think it was going to work. He was right, as he so often is.

The problem so far? Things that are not 2009-friendly: Gas was cheaper, I didn’t have prescriptions to buy or specialists/physical therapists to see, etc. I didn’t even include some of my now-normal expenses into this budget.  I also have to admit that I got pretty discouraged part of the way through and probably didn’t include everything in my spending that I should have. This is where I need to get better at tracking things.

The next couple of weeks will be the real test. As rent is the biggest bill and that will have been paid, the second two weeks of the month will have slightly more money. If I was living this budget month to month, this extra cash could be used in the first two weeks of the next month to balance out spending. I’m going to see if I can spend less to make up for the more already spent, if that makes sense.  So maybe overall for the month, I can come down to even.  Let’s hope!

I’m hoping I have also figured out a way to simplify things. I was actually working off of two separate budgets in YNAB, but I have since transferred it all to one budget and just adjusted things around so that my 2009 allowances are factored into the appropriate categories. I know, I know. I really made it way more difficult than I needed it to be.  And, of course, I am kind of geeking out about my budget since I just took one of the YNAB classes and found it really helpful.  I have actually completely revamped how I was doing things and feel like I’m on a better path overall.

Next two weeks, here I come!

Something New: In the Works – April

So I’ve decided already what April’s something new is and I’m so excited about it that I have to share it now.

I have struggled with money for a lot of my adult life.  I have found myself in a lot of problematic scenarios and in a lot of financial holes.  I’ve never been very good at budgeting and I can’t say I’m awesome at conservative spending.  I have only just recently landed in an income position that has allowed me to live life in a generally comfortable sort of way and I am very thankful for that.  My comfortable and your comfortable might be different. My comfortable is still having a little money in the bank and being able to put some aside in savings every paycheck.  I don’t buy extravagant things very often, but I do have the problem of buying a lot of little things.

A couple of things have added to my problem:

  • Taking up running and working out in general has really put a damper on my cash since I had nothing for those activities when I started. Now I pay a gym membership and worry about appropriate clothing, etc.  Over the winter I was purchasing a base of winter gear and now I am trying to have appropriate hot weather gear.  Seems silly, really, when it’s an activity that you could do barefoot in any clothing.  Now I have compression sleeves and hydration belts. What?
  • I stopped buying cheap food. Seems like a silly thing also, but once my income started increasing, so did the amount I was spending on food.  I think it probably has something to do with age also: I don’t buy pizza rolls or hot pockets like I used to. I switched to buying more organic and overall better for you kinds of things.  While I do try to stay on the cheaper side, I can’t say I am not a sucker when I go to the grocery on an empty stomach.
  • The acquiring of an iPhone and iPad has meant buying more iThings. I have tapered off a lot, but it’s still just far too easy to pull up iTunes and buy an album or think “I need an app for that” and then purchase one that’s “only $1!” That stuff adds up.  I also buy more books now since that’s one of the main reasons for owning the iPad, not a bad thing really, but not nice on the wallet either.

There are other factors, of course.  I have a student loan payment that I didn’t used to have.  I’ve spent money on a personal trainer on and off over the year.  I’ve had a lot of medical bills in the past year from MRIs, physical therapy, surgery, etc. I am really thankful that I’ve been able to keep up on all of this and not fall into my old spending holes.

However, I think there are problems with what I’ve been doing and I want to fix them.  Sometimes I’m really good about my budget and sometimes I just let a little too loose.  I don’t find myself in trouble necessarily, but I don’t like what I’m doing either.  I really enjoy using YNAB for money purposes, but I am not using their method very well (and it’s a good one, so I really should!). So, my something new for April is going to be spending on the income I had three years ago. If I was good at math, I’d tell you the percentages, but I’m not. Let’s just say that if I was living on the same income now as I did three years ago and with the same bills, I would have less than half of what I do now in “disposable” income.

What am I including in disposable income? For the purposes of this exercise, it’s anything that isn’t a set bill.  For bills, I am not including my gym membership or savings, but I am including my student loan, car insurance, phone, electric, etc. So disposable is going to have to cover groceries, gas, eating out, care products, and miscellaneous. There are going to be some exceptions to this because of some of the things happening in April, like my boyfriend’s birthday and my trip to Kansas City to see my stepbrother. Those things are going to come out of my usual income, not the income I’m using for April’s Live Like It’s 2009 Budget.  I will take “emergencies” as they come (and hopefully there won’t be any). Seems fair enough, really.

I am actually really excited about this despite the fact that it’s going to be a little tough. Between now and the 1st, I’m going to spend some time in YNAB trying to create something that will work for my new limits.  I also think that if I can successfully do this, I will probably reward myself somehow.  Almost all the “excess” money is going to go into savings, which will be it’s own reward.  But maybe I’ll use some of it to donate to a charity, or maybe I’ll put some away in an IRA. I’ll see what happens. A reward that will keep rewarding is a nice idea.

So come on, April 1st!

Side note: While we’re speaking of money, have I mentioned how much I love Get Rich Slowly?  The post from today was pretty awesome: This I Believe: 43 Lessons from 43 years. Nice little motivator.

It’s been a minute… February Update!

Well, it’s been a hot second since I’ve updated.  I’m actually planning a slew of posts, but have yet to find the time to write them.  A lot of my time off lately has been spent traveling or down with a cold of sorts, so… here’s your February goal update…

Goal: Run a 5k! And then run in at least the Cap City and Nationwide races as well.
Status: The 5k is less than two weeks away! Could not be more excited.  Today, I did 4 miles after a week of no running due to sickness.  It felt glorious.  So I know I can do the distance (did 5 miles the other day! my longest ever!).  It’s now just a matter of getting better at running steady for longer periods of time.  My reward for running the 5k is to register for Cap City.

Goal: Strength train 3x a week.
Status:  I have been working with my trainer twice a week and doing another day on my own.  At the end of the month, I have to decide whether I want to continue to work with my trainer or hold off for awhile.  My gym raised their training rates, so I’m a little hesitant to keep up with it.  Regardless of that, I do feel like I need to get into the weight room more than I am currently.

Goal: Regularly donate to charity and start volunteering.
Status: I am all geared up to match my 5k race entry fee with a donation via TEAM Water.org. I also decided on a volunteering gig.  I had gone back and forth about a couple of things, but didn’t really feel strongly about any one organization.  And then the Susan G. Komen vs. Planned Parenthood debacle took place and I had my AHA! moment.  While I have donated to PP in the past and did so when I heard about Komen’s initial decision, I realized that I should probably do more. So I signed up to start volunteering with PP.  I actually did a little work with them when I lived in Pennsylvania for a couple months, but it was very short lived.  There is a volunteer orientation this week and I am very excited about it.  If you are at all interested in getting involved head here to find your local affiliate.  The one here said that with all of the Komen stuff happening (even after the decision was reversed, I’m sure), they are in need of lots of help!

Goal: Write every day.
Status: Still something I am working hard to get into.

Goal: Read at least one book a month.
Status: I gave up reading one book and have started reading another.  Discipline with this and the writing goal is in extreme need.  It’s not like I don’t enjoy these things.  I just let my mind get too involved in other things.  Plus, the second season of Game of Thrones is going to start soon, so I have to finish the second book by then!

Goal: Save money/budget reboot!
Status: Working hard on this one.  It will be easier to stay more strict once all my traveling is done.

Goal: Try something new once a month.
Status:  So in January, I tried yoga and loved it. I have been taking regular classes at my gym and doing things at home as well.  Even in a short period of time, I can tell I am making some improvement with it.  For February, I have been a little stumped on what to do.  I could cheat and make the 5k my something new, but I am thinking of a few other things.  Better get on it, since the month is almost half over!

Goal: Keep a fucking good attitude.
Status: I think I have been reasonably successful with this.  The other day, I started to get grumpfaced and talked myself down reasonably well.  Progress!

 

Like I said, more posts coming soon!

2011 and beyond.

Welcome to 2012.  I have decided that last year was the year of overcoming challenges.  This year is going to be the year of bettering myself based on what I learned last year.

A quick look at 2011…

January: I started working with a trainer at my gym.  I set goals of 300lbs on the deadlift and squat.
March: I herniated my L5 S1 disc.  I have been in physical therapy for that bad boy ever since.
August: I started this blog! Because the injury was caused while lifting a lot of weight and continuing to lift a lot of weight seemed like bad idea, I started running.  The goals I had set for myself were no longer ones that I could safely go after, so I set a new goal: run a 5k.
September: I had a gallstone attack
October: …which lead to my gallbladder removal.
November: Awkward Creature began. I continued to try to heal up from surgery.  I turned 30 and registered for that 5k. I also talked about some important things not related to running and goals here and here.
December: I didn’t update much with the whirlwind of work and holidays, but I continued to progress with running and goals.

End of Year Totals:
Longest run: 2.62 on 12/22
Fastest run: 14:20 on 11/10
Total miles (once I started tracking): 86.22
Heaviest weight: 105lb deadlift 03/28 – disc day
Number of creatures: 4

 

So what is 2012 going to hold?  Well, I don’t like resolutions very much.  Resolutions seem so easily broken and cliche.  I have found that I really like goals.  So here is my new, improved, and updated list of goals for 2012 (if you care to check in on past goals/updates, go here).

Goal: Run a 5k! And then run in at least the Cap City and Nationwide races as well.
Status: As of today, I am running below a 15/min mile and up to 28min straight.  That equals out to about 2 miles of running steady. That is so far ahead of where I started, I feel ridiculous.  Almost to that 5k! I’m considering the quarter marathon for Cap City and the half for the Columbus Marathon.  If training allows! Ha!

Goal: Strength train 3x a week.
Status:  My physical therapist and I decided that I could hit the gym a bit more aggressively as long as I checked in every other week.  We also decided that I am pretty much retired from the barbell.  The idea of 105 lbs resting on my shoulders for a squat and compressing my back where it was injured is just an awful idea to me.  So I’m doing squats and deadlifts with dumbbells and various other lifting.  Just no barbell.

Goal: Regularly donate to charity and start volunteering.
Status: I gave little bits of money here and there during 2011 to places like NPR and Planned Parenthood.  My end-of-the-year giving went to the Polaris Project and Water.org. (I actually joined up for TEAM Water.org as a way of combining running and charity in a commitment to match race entry fees with donations.) It wasn’t a lot of money to any one place, believe me, but I figure a little is better than nothing.  I just want to do that little bit more regularly.  I am also looking to get involved with Habitat for Humanity as well as possibly the Columbus AIDS Task Force. The volunteering aspect is still sort of floating around in my head, so we’ll see where that lands.

Goal: Write every day.
Status: Starting soon, I’m going to attempt the idea of waking up early to write a little before the day starts.

Goal: Read at least one book a month.
Status: A little updated from my general “read more” goal that I’ve had going on. I have been slogging along with books lately, so if I at least say one a month, I have something to gauge my progress by.  That’s not limiting to one.  That’s just at least one. Currently I’m still reading two books at once. Follow progress here: the K experiment @ Goodreads.

Goal: Save money/budget reboot!
Status: The ongoing budget/money struggle. Ugh.  I am actually pretty pumped about it right now.  I started fresh today with a brand new YNAB budget. I have spent far too much time watching videos on how best to use YNAB for budgeting goals. A lot of the videos there could be used by anyone for whatever budgeting method you use.  Now that I’ve set some things up better, I think I’m going to get a good handle on it.  I still have my emergency fund and car savings going.  I realized recently that I used to live on a lot less money.  I’d like to be able to live on a lot less and save/give/do a lot more.  So that’s really the goal: live better on less. I’d like to start into 401ks and such this year.  30 seems a little late to that game, but better late than never!  That will take a lot more research though.

Goal: Try something new once a month.
Status: This month, I’m trying yoga. My gym offers free classes and I signed up for this Thursday. Next month, I think I’m going to try my hand at smoothie making. Please give me your recipes.

Goal: Keep a fucking good attitude.
Status: I have a struggle with this. I’m trying to get better.  I’m trying to turn bad things around to good things and face challenges with better attitudes. I think all the above goals will really help this one.

 

So. Lots of goals.  Lots of plans.  We’ll see how this goes.  I’m hoping that all the physical and other struggles of 2011 are behind me and I can get everything going in the right direction. 2012 is going to be a good one.  Even if the world ends. 😉