Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Disaster Zone

AAARRRGGGHHH!  This is one of those days.  A disaster zone day.  I can't help but look around and see all the failures in my house.  Mess, upon mess, upon mess.  Half trained dogs.  Untrained cat.  Detrained me.  Or is that derailed??  Went for a run and whined to myself through the whole thing.  Cleaned 1/8 of my dresser top and used up all my free time.  Still need to shower.  Laundry piled up.  Sunny out and I am in.

I did run.  And I grocery shopped.  And I even put the groceries away.  But I have not cleaned the whole house top to bottom.  Or gotten my garage sale fodder all in the attic and all the rest tucked away in the basement.  Nor have I cleaned all the dog poop from the yard.  Yet to sort through the new load of clothing that arrived from Pittsburgh.  But I do have a paycheck to deposit in the new joint bank account.  And I have not broken my fast today.  For all and all it is one step forward and a few back, yet I suppose there is progress.  But I still feel like junk, am barely coherent, and hope to have a better day tomorrow.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Week 1- Financial Fast

So far, so good.  Actually really good.  I will do this again in the future.  So far we have saved $500 and the outcome from the garage sale may put us over the $1000 mark for the month's savings.  I have not been perfect, and have had two big cheats and one small one.  The big ones were pre-planned, because I was not going to cancel my hosting of book club, or the play Rent.  I did spend about half what I usually do for book club, and managed a great meal.  I generally put on the Ritz for the event, going all out with imported things (like $15 cheese) and fine wine.  This time around we had Cheeze Whiz (super fun) and beer, hard lemonade, and hard cider.  Plus I fed 10 with my meatloaf and mashed potato casserole, with three meatloaves left over.  I did not worry at all about tanking my Entertainment envelope for the $25 for Rent, because there is no other entertainment to pay for.  And it has not been painful.  It just simply is not on the radar to run out and rent something, or go out to the movies.  The things I have done include going with my boys all over town on the Gallery Hop, my first time ever.  I have wanted to go for Years.  I debated if it was a cheat or not since we were in "stores", but I called it looking at art and getting inspiration instead.  Plus the trolley was free.  We met up with a ton of friends and their kids at my favorite gallery, and when one parent decided on the spur of the moment to buy a $145 necklace I did not have the tiniest bit of jealousy.  Usually I might have, cuz who doesn't like to treat themself, but instead I felt very content.  Very.  This friend makes a big salary, and has a beautiful house in the woods, and I have been jealous of her family in the past, but maybe part of that was just feeling they had everything together and we didn't.  Now we are getting ourselves in order and I know we will make our mark in a good way.  Plus we got really good news at that gallery,  a local artist has agreed to make a new logo for us for barter.  It's gonna be sweet. 

Because we were not running over to the candy shop to buy Alex some Swedish Fish, or to the ice cream shop for some instant bliss, instead the kids all played on an outdoor banister for a good half an hour.  Going down, squishing each other, rolling out of the pile up, running up the stairs to do it again.  Then we all went over to the beach and the kids threw rocks in the lake for another half an hour.  And I had no deep need to run over to the coffee shop and miss part of the action, like I have in the past.  It was bliss.  We also had our friends stay over night this weekend and I did not run out and buy a ton of groceries like I usually do, yet we still ate crepes with strawberries and chocolate for breakfast.  Partly inspired by the fast I picked up a double this week I would have usually passed on, so there are 200 more dollars to throw on the pile.  But that does lead to my other minor cheat.  When I was on the double I charged my lunch, and a glass of tea, and then threw all caution to the wind at change of shift and bought three pieces of chocolate at the gift shop.  I call it all one cheat since it all snowballed off itself.  To top off the week, I went for a run.  Oh, and I started to learn to surf, but that is another story.

So there.  The first week of the financial fast, and my cheat confessions.  That is the fast so far.  I have not kept an actual journal, as the book suggests, and have not completed my budget or net worth statement, but I have time.  Two more weeks of no cash spending, I am psyched!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Day 1- Financial Fast

So far so good.  Started the Financial Fast today.  Not a penny has passed from my hands.  Went to work, then came home and had a lovely evening with the boys.  Hasn't been hard at all, yet.  Just no temptation to run out to the video store after wee one is in bed.  Instead I looked forward to calling my mom, and also had a nice bath, and did my needed neck stretches.  And still have plenty of time before bed.

We have been on the envelope system forever for food expenses, and incidentals, and entertainment, and trips, and whatnot.  This means I go to the bank twice a month and take out our planned amount of cash, put it in the designated envelopes (grocery, eating out, pets, trips, blow fund: which means blow it any way you want, gas, entertainment, clothing, etc.) and when the money is gone, it is gone.  No cheats, no stealing, no credit.  Theoretically.  We have actually been pretty good overall, but have had our weak areas.  For this fast I am hoping to do the whole month on only one cash run, and put the rest in savings.  It should be fairly easy since whole envelopes (eating out, blow fund, entertainment, clothing) wont be touched.  Our whole budget has always been quite limited anyways, but this will give us even more awareness.

What I am already much more aware of is how much of spending is purely entertainment.  How often I will go and do things mostly for the kick of spending and for something to do.  That walk to the ice cream store.  A last minute run to the video store when there is nothing in particular I want to watch.  Perusing at the consignment store when I really don't need any more clothes.  There is a no window or catalog shopping rule too, so it was a little odd not to look at the print ads from the Sunday paper at work.  I usually check out building supplies, appliances, and Best Buy to dream a little, but not today.  I saw the ads sitting there and just looked away, aware but not upset.  Oh, the marketers don't want to hear about this for sure.  I did sneak a peek on my way home at the fun prom dresses in my consignment shop window, but only as we drove by.  I don't think it truly counts as cheating.  No, not yet.  I'm sure that will come, in fact I have two cheats planned, but overall it was a good start to the fast.  And I am actually excited to see how it unfolds.  1 down, 20 to go.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Just Mites

Our house is filled with Just Mites.  We are overrun.  We are infested.  I am going to get rid of them.

We are having a huge garage sale in 3 weeks.  All of the Just Mites are going in it.  If I look at something and say, "Hmmmm, I just might use this one day...", then I know exactly which pile to put it it.

For Sale.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Half Assed Running

Went for a run this morning.  I really did not want to, and am really glad that I did.  I did not get out much over the last two weeks, so my motivation has dropped and the whine factor increased.  That always happens to me when I get out of my routine.  It becomes painful to think about spending my energy working out, and that means I have slipped into the danger zone.  Fortunately I have a good base now, so I can get back into the swing of things pretty easily.  It wasn't always that way. 

It all started back in January '06 when I had my upcoming 20th class reunion.  I was feeling a bit out of shape due to baby poundage and no working out at all.  I switched my work routine and determined that if I was to survive working seven days in a row consistently I would need to build in stress relief.  I got a gym membership where I work and started going three of those seven days, just before work, so it was all quite smooth.  I got extra time to myself (Alex was two) and extra endorphins.  Oh how I need endorphins, and I will even take them from an indoor track if I have to.  I prefer my kayak, or rock climbing, or mountain biking, but those take either loads of time, or a specific time of year, or both.  So I went with the always available gym and was able to stick with it.  Well, the reunion came summer '06 and I felt pretty fit, which was nice.  And I was hooked on workouts, so I just kept it up.  Summer '07 I decided I should be able to run a 5km race.  I had mostly been lifting weighs up to that point, with a little warm up run of 10 minutes 3 times a week.  Since a 5 km takes about 30 minutes I figured I was already ready.  Well, I ran the race and got my ass kicked all over the place.  Mostly by me.  I thought I could go really fast and almost killed myself.  My sprint lasted about 3 minutes, and the next 30 were walking, limping, and then slowly running with an inspiring friend.  I made it, and ate my humble pie at the finish.  Then I got pissed, at myself, and decided to do something totally radical that I had never done before in my 30 odd years... train.  Actually train and practice for something.  I had always been more of a jump-in-and-do-it kind of a gal.  No wonder I never made it to the pros.  Oh well.  So, I started training for running, at a pace I could manage.  I ran so slowly at first that the walkers on the track would pass me.  That was embarrassing but I kept at it.  The endorphins kept me going, and I made slow gains.  Very slow.   But gains none the less.  I was running three times a week for 30 minutes a session.   I was not making the mileage because I ran so slow, but I decided on time as my main focus.  I didn't always make my 3 times a week, but when I hit it I felt really good.  And by the next spring ('08) I did indeed complete my first fully running 5km.  At the back, but I didn't walk, or almost kill myself.   I actually completed three races that year, two 5km and a 10km.  I decided that for general fitness I would like to participate in four races a year.  One per season.  Three running and one cross country skiing.   I haven't made the skiing race yet, hopefully next year.  I will race the Mother's Day Breast Cancer race in May if I am not working.  Or I will find another one.

The races are a riot.  Who knew??  All those runners aren't just crazy or stupid, as I always assumed.  There is a great energy out there at the races, and competition where I seed is minimal, we all just cheer each other on.  Gives me a nice training motivation too.  I have bumped up my program goal to 45 minutes of running, three times a week.  I have not hit it lately, but will get there soon.  It gives me so much energy, and cuts down on my whining so much, that I just have to do it.  Plus it gets me outside and enjoying the unfolding seasons. 

So, I didn't want to run, but off I went.  Glad I did, and gotta keep it up.  The endorphins are calling my name.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Break Those Chains

I am starting a 21 Day Financial Fast on Sunday.  21 days of spending NOTHING, except groceries and gas.  No videos, no movies, no eating out, no chocolate on my way in to work, not even a gumball.  Bills are exempt.  That's about it.  And store pizza has to be pondered as a need or a want...  Oh, and no shopping.  None.  No window shopping, garage sailing, no catalog looking, no Craig's List on the internet, no Sunday ads, nothing.  Oh, this is going to be fun!!!