Monday, April 19, 2010

week three recap

 wow... taking a closer look at how i spend my money (and what it says about my values and lifestyle) was definitely an eye-opening experience. just filling out a spending and income history for the last couple of months revealed a lot -- mostly that i need to start paying a lot closer attention to where my money goes. here are a few of the high-level things i learned:
  • i want to save more money. keeping that in mind when i shop makes it much easier to keep spending down, but that's not enough. if i decide i'll pass on a new pair of shoes, that's great, but i have to take the next step and deposit that same amount into my savings account or it will get spent on something else.
  • there are also a lot of possible ways to make incremental income that i could start taking advantage of. i have been known to sell books to local used bookstores, but maybe i could do better with an amazon store. and i could probably amp-up the income opportunities on my blogs. and then there are my creative endeavors... i definitely need to think more about this.
  • i waste a lot of food. this is disturbing to me on a lot of levels. i need to get better at meal planning and only buy perishables when i am sure i can use them. there are plenty of other alternatives.
  • i need to get much better at measuring the value of things i spend on. for example, i haven't gotten my hair cut in probably 8 months. mostly because of time but also because i'd rather not get it done than get a bad cut. on thursday however i bit the bullet and walked into a salon. i walked out an hour later with a brutally expensive but fabulous cut. was it worth it? yes. because i get it done so rarely, it needs to be a good cut that will hold up. and as with shoes and jeans, i'd rather pay for a good one that will last than a cheap one that will make me sad every time i look in the mirror or put them on.
  • prioritization is key. this is most evident in the whole "thinking about home ownership" thing. i want to own a house. i cannot afford a house in my area. i can afford a house in outlying areas, but my job is here. this doesn't mean i can't buy, it just needs i need to get more creative. maybe buy a house up there and rent it until i can find another job. i also want to go back to school which has many of the same issues as the house question. it also competes for the same savings dollars. school or house? local or distant? full-time or part-time? there are many options to consider which is mostly my way of saying that you don't have to rule out having it all. you just have to get creative with how you do it. (in this case it's looking like buying the cheap house renting it out and choosing an affordable part-time school program so i can keep my job, but i'll keep you posted on that.)
declutter challenge: files (including digital) and in-apartment storage
- got nowhere at all with this due to over-scheduling on other things.

food challenge: black beans
- gingered black beans from the self-healing cookbook: awesome and enough for many meals
- black bean chili (ostensibly from green's restaurant but i think it was a lie): bland and yet overly oniony, won't be repeating this one
- didn't manage the third dish due to time

nagging tasks: i was thwarted at pretty much every turn (once again a victim of my own poor planning). suffice it to say, tax day is not the day to try and deal with your 401k rollovers or anything else having to do with money. i will be scheduling meetings and handling those tasks another day. i did, however get online bill-pay and my budget spreadsheets set up so that was a win.

so even though i didn't complete a lot of "tasks" i definitely learned a lot and am glad i added this one to the list.

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