Thursday, July 31, 2014

Budget Struggles

Today is my fifth payday on the envelope system. In the last two months, I've been a lot more conscious of how I spend my money and I've been spending a fraction of what I had been accustomed to spending, but couldn't necessarily afford.

This last month, however, was a lot more difficult than June. When I added up how much I had spent through July 21st, I was only one quarter shy of what I had spent through the entire month of June. In other words, I was on track to spend a bit more money that I had spent the previous month, especially since I was going on vacation to New York City the last week of the month. However, $130 of that was spent on clothes, whereas I didn't even spend $60 on clothes in June. I acknowledge there were some contributing factors for the increase in spending: Fourth of July and some birthdays, catching up with friends (over a meal or drinks), and starting to date a little bit. But those are times I need to balance with less frivolous spending. What really got me, though, was buying two new tanks at the Pure Barre studio. Did I really need the same tank in both colors? Probably not. I truly didn't need either of them, but I bought them both and I love them both. And that's why I budget for clothes.

Then I went to New York City. I didn't want to return from my trip wishing I had done things that I didn't actually do, so I tried not to hold back. I ate out every meal (but didn't really eat before noon any day I was there) and even though I stumbled upon some more expensive restaurants, I also ate lunch for $2.75 one day. And it was delicious! Anyway, now that my trip is over, I feel like I only wasted $40. That breaks down to $17 on food and $23 on transportation. I shouldn't have stopped at Chipotle on my way to the airport or bought a $7 side of breakfast potatoes, especially after I was stuffed from the most amazing pancakes in the world. I should have just bought an unlimited MetroCard the second I left the airport instead of buying a $10 card and then purchasing the 7-day $30 unlimited card the next day. And I definitely shouldn't have taken a cab when I was only 1 block from a subway station and didn't know it. But, you live and learn. And in the grand scheme of things, "wasting" $40 isn't the end of the world. I do wish, however, that I had spent less money--especially on eating out--leading up to my trip.

I do have a "vacation" envelope that I pay into each month. Unfortunately, since I only had 4 paydays between starting the envelope system and going on vacation, it had only accrued $40, but in the future, it would be much more beneficial in subsidizing some of those costs on vacation.

Money has always been important to me. Ever since I got my first real job--and before that when I was babysitting and earning allowance--I felt that it was necessary to spend my money. I had to get a job in order to get my driver's license, so I spent money on gas. But I wanted to be cool and go out to lunch with my friends or just be social in general. That meant spending money a lot of the time. Money is important to me in a different way now. I want to change the way I think about money and focus more on long-term goals and plans rather than not being able to tell myself no when I get a craving for Chipotle. (I seriously used to go to Chipotle like four times a week in high school. Back when you could get a steak burrito for like $6 though.) I want to be able to start my life with someone debt-free. I don't want to bring financial baggage to a marriage and I would hope my future husband feels that same responsibility. I want to buy a house someday and get a new car and I want to continue to have a good credit score. None of those things will be helped by frivolous spending and even though those things seem so far off into the distance (I seriously don't even want to look for a new car until 2017 just to prove my mom wrong), I will feel very silly if one day I can't afford something major in life because I ate at Chick-Fil-A ten times a month.

I'm hoping that August will be a little bit better in terms of spending less. Despite the increase in spending, I was still okay percentage wise. In the first week of the month, I spent 64% of what I had spent the previous six months. (Including June in the average dropped each figure significantly.) In the second week, I spent 52% of what I had before. In the third week, I spent 69% of what I had spent before. In the fourth week, I spent 231% of what I had spent before. And for the month total, I spent 104% of my average spending for the previous six months.

Needless to say, August is going to be all about getting back on track with my budget and "recovering" from that vacation spending. I'm happy to have come home with memories and maybe fewer dollars in my pocket than clinging to those bills and sacrificing experiences that I could have had while exploring the Big Apple.

Read my other budget posts here:

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

One Year with Pure Barre Boulder

On July 14, 2013, I took my very first class at Pure Barre Boulder. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but I tried to come prepared. I had my midriff covered, my capris on, my socks on, and I had tried to do a little research online beforehand (watching some YouTube videos and looking for any and all blog posts about it). It was different than anything I had done before, but I felt like I had hooked immediately. I had purchased two weeks of unlimited classes and I wanted to make it to 10 classes (I only took 9 in the first two weeks), so I went back the next day even though my abs were more sore than they've ever been. I immediately signed up for the new client special once my two weeks ran up and then started planning how I could continue to take classes.

Exactly eight months later, I completed my 100th class and signed the barre, officially joining the 100 Club (and with sticky socks to boot)! My goal is to make it to 300 classes (to join the 300 Club) before July 14, 2015, and I'm well on my way. Last night I took my 159th class! (It was more like hot barre since the AC had been out that evening, so I definitely earned that 159th class!)

In the year that I've been attending classes at Pure Barre, I've seen a lot of changes in myself. I've accomplished things I didn't know I could accomplish, but I still have lots of room to grow and lots of areas to get stronger. I've shared my love for Pure Barre with friends and family (I just tell everyone they have to try it to get it!) and I even started working the front desk in May. I'm so thankful for the people I've met through Pure Barre, the growth I've seen in myself, and finally finding a work out I truly love. I feel like Pure Barre is a way of life and it's certainly how I want to live my life for many years to come!

I've written about my journey with Pure Barre many times before. Check out some of my other posts or send me an email with any questions!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Ten on Ten :: July 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'm almost done with my 28 day teatox. (I took 3 days off for a juice cleanse. I'll blog about it next week!)

I've been looking for the perfect H necklace. I found one on Etsy that came in the mail yesterday.

It's not a Ten on Ten without cats, right? I've been worried about his brother Brooks all day because he was throwing up clear liquid this morning. It freaked me out, but he seems to be okay now.

I guess it's been over a year since I made a "mix tape", but I made one today.

Usually I have green smoothies for breakfast. I had one for lunch today instead.

The drive to Golden is not bad at all. Not bad at all.

Margaritas before the show!

We went to see Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me! at Red Rocks tonight. Unfortunately, they didn't let me take my "camera with a detachable lens" into the amphitheater, so we had to take it back to the car. If you know Red Rocks, you know that's bad news. 

Red Rocks is one of the most beautiful places in Colorado and it was made sweeter by the full moon!

This is a PSA. Don't read this book. Don't buy this book. I have really enjoyed Emily Giffin's first six novels, but this one was horrible. The characters were flat, the core relationship was creepy, and the football talk was too much. I love college football and it was too much for me. But it was also really obvious to me that Giffin doesn't actually know much about college football. It was just bad all around. I can't believe I finished it.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Brooks, Dempsey, & Jones

If you follow me on Instagram, you may notice my frequent kitten pictures. I just wanted to take a second to introduce my latest litter of foster kittens that I brought home on June 25th.

Meet Jones, Brooks, and Dempsey. I was a little bummed that Dempsey wears an orange collar instead of white. It would have been perfect for the USA theme. I left it up to social media to name these three boys: Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion after Daenerys' dragons in Game of Thrones, or Brooks, Dempsey, and Jones after the three scorers for Team USA in the World Cup. Clearly we went with the World Cup stars.

Jones is the smallest and was the most stand-offish at first. He would hiss at me and get scared at everything. It only took him about 24 hours to come around and now he's as sweet as can be. When my friend Chelsea came to see them, she instantly fell in love and wants to adopt him!

Dempsey has certainly earned his name as the "team captain". From the get-go, he was the most vocal and the most adventurous. When his brothers were unsure about what was happening, he would walk right up to me to see what was going on. He's also always the first one to the food.

While his brothers have been like two peas in a pod, Brooks has been a little more independent. He's very sweet, but he'll often just lie down by himself, away from his brothers. He's the biggest and eats enough to stay that way, but he sure does sleep a lot!

See! Dempsey and Jones...two peas!

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Going Forward with My Budget

To say that being on a budget this last month has changed my life would be an understatement. I can't even imagine going back to my pre-budget days. Sure, it's still an adjustment to not just swipe my debit card each time at the cash register, but I'm slowly getting used to using cash and I definitely value each dollar I spend more than I used to. My biggest issue before was that I thought I could keep a running total between pay days, but I would fail miserably. To be honest, I would frequently dip into my savings. Maybe even just $50 a month, but that adds up quickly! Before, I would just move over to credit cards and use those when my "cash" ran out, and I'm literally still paying for that mistake today.

Using the budget has changed my thinking about money all around. I've upped my car payment (starting in May) so that I'm now paying about $35 more than the minimum payment, compared to just $10 a month extra that I was paying before. With that extra $35 a month, I might be giving up a new blouse or one or two meals out, but I'm going to have my car paid off in December 2014 (with a very small final payment), which is about four months early. That's really exciting to me!

Every time I think about my envelope system, I think to myself "why haven't I been doing this all along?" It makes me sad to think about how if I had been smarter with my money since I got my first job in 2007, I would have a cushy savings account and most likely be debt free right now. But I'm doing it now and that's better than waiting a few more years, or even a few more months. Right now, I've cut WAY back on eating out. I hardly shop any more and now I'm saving up for items that I truly do need/need to replace. I like it this way.

Because of my new budget, I've been looking for ways to save money on the things I am buying. I downloaded the Cartwheel app for Target and lucked out when they had a deal on toothpaste and some other "medicine cabinet" items I needed. My biggest struggle with Target has been whether or not to use my Red Card. I want to save the 5%, but it seems like too much of a hassle right now because I'll have to go to the bank after and deposit the cash from that envelope back into my checking account. (Any one have a system for the Red Card already?) I've also found it a little tedious when I need a few groceries and, say, toothpaste. I have to check out twice, but I've been making separate trips or going to different stores, so I have encountered that yet. Anyway, I also use rewards programs, like the Regal Crown Club Card. I only go to movies on days when it's $5 and I use my card so I can collect the points for free movie tickets and discounted concessions.

This will be my third pay day using the envelopes, but I'm making some changes. Starting this month, I'll keep the money budgeted for gas in my checking account and use my debit card to fill up my tank all the way. I've also cut my budget for clothes in half since I'm just not shopping that much right now. I don't want that money to just go unspent, and I don't want an excuse to shop just because I feel like I have to spend it. I'm also going to really try to remember to get receipts. Some places don't offer them when you use cash and I'll forget to ask. I also want to start keeping receipts organized by envelope, rather than by month like they are right now.

I've been keeping some stats about my spending in June versus the first five months of the year. I compared each week to the average of the previous five months. Week one, I spent 45% of the average of what I had been spending. Week two, it was at 55%, but week three it was down to 41% (and I actually spent the month money that week). Week four, I spent 14%. (I seriously only spent $27! $23 on sushi, $4 on a ticket to a Rockies game.) Throughout the month, I spent only 39% of what I had been spending earlier this year. What a change!