Monday, December 29, 2014

Budgeting Through Christmas

I've now been using the envelope system to budget my money for six full months. Unfortunately, I've missed the mark in terms of debt pay-off goals for 2014, but I did meet my savings goals. Fortunately, Thursday is a new year and with it comes new opportunities to save and become debt free. I've decided to set new goals for 2015, starting where I am now so I don't have a continued sense of failure every time I crunch the numbers at the end of the month. 

Before I go on, let me just say: Don't spend aimlessly on a credit card. While it might seem like "free money" at the time, it's actually more expensive money thanks to a little thing called interest. I'll acknowledge that my credit card debt might be a fraction of other Americans', but not one penny was worth it. It's easy to get caught up in "needing" this and "needing" that, especially in the world of blogging and social media. But you should never spend above your means. Credit cards aren't a terrible thing. It's a good way to build credit, but if you want a good credit score, pay off your bill in its entirety each month. That's a good way to keep yourself from spending more than you can afford. My bank offers more rewards points for spending on a credit card than on my debit card, so it wouldn't be a bad idea to use my credit card if I were immediately transferring the exact sum and keeping my credit card balance at $0.00. That's not what I was doing and I have since found myself in a hole I don't want to be in. By all means, use me as an example. Don't spend above your means, especially on a credit card.

I think December has been my biggest test of my budget so far. I have an envelope specifically for gifts, but by the time December rolled around, it wasn't as full as I had hoped (or as it will be next Christmas). Luckily, my dad's side of the family has decided to make last year's Ivory Elephant a new tradition, which has cut down on all our spending. Instead of doing a typical White Elephant, we buy something people will actually want and use, so we just have to buy one gift! I had to dip into some other funds to cover some of my Christmas gifts, but I was able to keep the total spending fairly low between going in on gifts with other members of my family, shopping the sales and with coupons and discount codes, utilizing free shipping opportunities, and buying some gifts early.

But of course Christmastime also comes with an increase in activities. Now that I look back on the last month, I'm sad that I spent so much time working and wasn't able to participate in some of the things my friends and family did or even have more nights at home just to watch Christmas movies and relax. I was still able to do plenty, but it has certainly been a busy season. Because November was also extremely busy for me, I wasn't using much of my entertainment envelope, and I had some extra cash to spend this month. That helped me not feel overwhelmed when it came time to pay for some seasonal activities. I also instituted a 30 day spending freeze after Thanksgiving, but that was mostly to keep myself accountable and not grab something from Chipotle or Chick-Fil-A on my way home from lunch. I wanted the money in my eating out envelope to be strictly for going out with friends and not eating take out on my own. I'm actually really proud of myself because I mostly did it. I completely forgot about it while I was in the drive-thru at Chick-Fil-A one day and it was too late to turn back.

Now that the holidays are over, I'm pretty pleased with the amount that I spent, because I don't feel like I'm in any worse shape financially than I was before the holidays. In fact, I'm feeling pretty good about finances and about continuing with my envelope system through 2015. I honestly cannot imagine going back.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Ten on Ten :: December 2014

10 pictures on the 10th day of the month!
Document a snapshot of your life & find beauty among the ordinary things in your day!

I woke up this morning to discover that my picture of the day yesterday has been spreading like wild fire through the Pure Barre world, but I was super bummed to also discover that I wasn't getting credit. :(

You have no idea how hard it is to put lights on an oddly shaped tree without any help.

I've been tasked with putting up the Christmas decorations this year, so I've been getting things out slowly but surely. As always, my mom's collection of Santas is my favorite.

I'm making cookies for a tacky sweater party at church tomorrow. I can't wait to reveal my sweater! (And the cookies!)

Today's outfit of the day. Pretty simple.

I had get some mallows today and I made the mistake of going to Target, so naturally I walked out with three winter candles and some ribbon. Worth it.

Pure Barre Boulder is celebrating their fourth anniversary this week and tonight was Wine Down Wednesday!

 I went to Zoo Lights at the Denver Zoo with some friends and it was so awesome. I had never been before.

There were a few animals in their indoor habitats and we had a lot of fun watching the giraffes for a while.

 I came home to finish setting up (and to enjoy) my hot chocolate bar.

ten on ten button

Monday, November 24, 2014

30 Day Spending Freeze - A Budget Update

I haven't written an update on my budget since September, so I thought I'd share what's been going on. (You can read my previous five posts about my budget, listed at the bottom of the post.)

I'll be the first to admit that budgeting is a struggle. The struggle is real, people. I've had lots of successes and lots of failures since starting my budget with my last paycheck in May of this year. Despite some major spending fails, I've still saved myself a noteworthy amount of money. I've also learned a lot about myself, about self-control, about organization, and about money management in general. One of my biggest goals is to enter into a marriage debt-free with money management skills and I'd say it's never too early to start (because I'm not getting married any time soon). The things I'm learning are meant to become life-long habits, but sometimes that can be a slow and painful process.

So let's start out with a win. I bought my car in March of 2012 after my first car died. It was the first grown up purchase I had ever made and it was the first time I had real adult responsibility when it came to money. I was approved for a 36-month loan and for the last 32 months I've been slowly chipping away at it, always paying more than the minimum payment. I'm so happy to report that I sent my final payment last Monday and I now own my car outright! I feel like a real live grown up. My goal is to drive this car through 2015 and start car shopping again in 2016. Here's hoping ole Rosie lasts that long because she's already at approximately 220,000 miles. (We'll see!) It would just be absolutely wonderful to not have to worry about a car payment for a full 13 months! That's the dream, isn't it?

Onto this spending freeze! If you haven't checked your calendar, Christmas is 30 days from tomorrow. What a strange time to embark on a spending freeze, right? Well I'm vowing to freeze all spending on myself for the next 30 days. That means no more clothes shopping. No more little unnecessary purchases here and there. The question is: Should that include eating out? What do you guys think? What about if some friends are home for the holidays and want to go out to dinner or something? I'm thinking it should only include individual eating out (like stopping at CFA on my way home for lunch because...waffle fries). This is the time of year when I want to focus on giving to others and helping others. So naturally I'm still going to do my Christmas shopping, but nothing for myself. I'm curious to see where this will take me over the next 30 days.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Ten on Ten :: November 2014

10 pictures on the 10th day of the month!
Document a snapshot of your life & find beauty among the ordinary things in your day!

 Casey and I have been reading through the book of John for the last four days. One chapter a day. I'm liking this.

Let's just take note that when I left the house this morning at 8:00, it was nearly 70 degrees.

I go to Starbucks far less frequently than my Ten on Ten history implies. But today I tried the Gingerbread Latte since they had samples. I still can't get into coffee.

With my new(ish) budget, I like to go over my spending and what I've got in my envelopes every now and then just to stay on top of things.

Despite the fact that it was already snowing when I got home for lunch, there are still fall colors everywhere.

It's not a complete Ten on Ten if I don't showcase my foster kittens.

Monday nights are spent at the barre.

While I was at work, it just kept on snowing. It was a far cry from this morning!

I crashed a double date at the best pizza joint in town.

 Ending the night in a cozy oversized sweater with some warm cider and Leslie Knope.

 Bonus: I posted this picture on my Instagram. All four photos were taken today. Welcome to Colorado.

ten on ten button

Friday, October 10, 2014

Ten on Ten :: October 2014

10 pictures on the 10th day of the month!
Document a snapshot of your life & find beauty among the ordinary things in your day!

Breakfast this week has been the bomb.

Are Peter Pan collars still in? I haven't worn this shirt since 2013.
{Similar Blouse}

I'm so glad I finally bought dry shampoo. With my new(ish) bangs, it's a must.
{Dry Shampoo}

My Erin Condren planner came last week and my eye doctor has already scheduled my 2015 check up.

It was (past) time for an oil change. My baby is getting up there! 216,000 miles!

The top five finalists for my new glasses. So exciting!
{Chamberlain | Beckett | Crane | Welty | Baxter Ti

Yeah, it's fall.

I finally was able to cross "go to tailor" off my to-do list. Can't wait to get these back!

Since I was right by TJ's, I had to stop in for more Pumpkin O's. I also picked up some flowers for Casey's grandma.

 Crunchy leaves under my riding boots. What more does a fall afternoon need?

ten on ten button

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Retreat to RMNP

Twice in the last week and a half, I've been able to get away and head to the mountains for the day. I'm so lucky to not only live in Colorado, but live less than an hour from Rocky Mountain National Park with access to basically everything this great state has to offer. On the last Saturday in September, Casey and I drove to Grand Lake for the day. We made stops all along the way, including at a nearby apple orchard for apple cider donuts, The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, and the top of Trail Ridge Road. Last Thursday, I was able to take a half day at work so Stephy and I took her kiddos to drive the Peak to Peak highway between Allens Park and Blackhawk. Sometimes a day away in such a beautiful place is just what I need to recharge and refuel. Needless to say, Colorado is breathtaking in the fall.