September was a really great month for results on paying down balances, and it was practically effortless. Nothing was going on that month! October, November, and December on the other hand – different story. Traveling is a bigger part of my life now in Boston than it ever was when I was in New York. Traveling doesn’t just mean accounting for plane and train tickets, but also for spending money on going out with the people I don’t get to see for months at a time. Meeting up with people for brunch, dinner, and drinks can easily spiral out of control if there aren’t some limits. To give myself hard-stops on spending and in order to have fun within my means, I planned my allowances for each of the four major trips I will be making before 2015.
The one thing this month that has kept me from irrationally and impulsively spending money has been my job. I’m very, very busy. I’m learning a lot about accounting and business management. I’ve only been able to slightly recognize the resentment I’m feeling towards my salary losing its hourly value as I exceed 40 hours every week. I’m so excited for the upcoming Thanksgiving and Xmas New Years beaks so I can spend time with family and friends. I’m still driven to get rid of my credit card debt even if it’s going to take a little longer than I hoped. Continue reading Ending the Spending Fast
Last week was another busy one, and to top it off I came down with a bizarre lung-eating virus that gave me a killer cough (and killer abs). The act of breathing was a challenge, so I stayed away from the gym and walked home instead for exercise and to avoid spreading germs on the T. Except for Friday and Saturday night, I ate home-cooked food and leftovers for all three meals.. There are 9 days left to the spending fast, and even though I spent some of my money on “wants” I haven’t gone over my $200 budget for spending on my American Express Serve card. There’s $8 to spare.
Workout as much as possible
My cough has subsided and I’m so ready to get back in the swing of exercise.
Eat home-cooked/homemade 3x/day
Meal planning and building up pantry staples has been the key to success with this. The site budgetbytes.com has been a good resource for inexpensive, filling, and cheap eats. Last week I made the Creamy Tomato & Spinach Pasta for dinner, the Chopped Kale Salad for lunch(es), and the Spinach Rice Breakfast bowls. This week the Italian Wonderpot is on the menu along with some attempts at Turkish food inspired by watching an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations: Red Lentil Soup (Mercimek Corbasi), Fava Bean and Pea Salad (İç Bakla ve Bezelye Salatası), and Sultan’s Delight (Hünkar Beğendi). More on how that goes this week.
Finalize a budget for October
October is the last month before shit gets crazy with the holidays. Aside from basic living expenses, I have to account for budgeting and funding for some other ventures before the end of the year:
- My 26th birthday is October 13th. I need to decide how much I want to spend on celebrations. Dive bar? Yes – if only Boston had a good one near me.
- Travel arrangements for my friend’s November wedding in Brooklyn.
- Travel arrangements for Thanksgiving in NJ/NYC before the ticket prices sky rocket.
- Travel arrangements to Buffalo and NJ/NYC for Christmas/NYE
- Christmas presents for nieces and nephews
Fifteen days down, fifteen to go. Today debits went out for my student loans, savings transfer, cell phone, and three out of five credit card bills. Discover, Amex, and Chase Sapphire received payments of $100 each, and I paid off the entire $890.37 balance on my credit card with the highest interest rate. So far this month, I’ve knocked out $1,190.37 and I still have one more card to pay a minimum of $100 to. My goal was to pay down $1,400, but I’m waiting on seeing how my freelance work goes before I settle for that amount.
Now that I’m down to paying for only 4 cards, next month I’ll be paying $100 each to the cards with the lower balances and lower interest rates: Amex, Chase Sapphire, and Bank of America; and $500 to to the card with the highest interest rate and biggest balance: Discover.
My favorite part about not spending is that I don’t have to worry about checking my balance twice a day (I always check it at least once) and forecasting what my balance will be in time for bills to be deducted. I caught a cold over the weekend and I can’t think straight, so that’s it on thoughts for now.
For the first 7 days of this month, I’ve only spent $216.07.
I really like seeing the total spent at the top shaded in green. That little figure is going to stay the same until the 15th when I get my paycheck, and then it will change again on the 16th when all of my automatic debits for student loans, phone, savings transfer, and credit cards come out. I realize I’m doing pretty great if I can pay all of my bills and pay a little more than the minimum for most of them.
I’ve been really depressed this weekend, so my goal for this week is to smile until I’m happy. Smiling until happy is practically like waterboarding until drowning, but I mean to say that I’m going to attempt optimism and a sunny disposition rather than hoping for overcast weather so I can take my fucking nap without a pillow over my head. That being said, I realized this morning that I probably have a Vitamin D deficiency from only getting 5-10 minutes of sunlight a day. Also, I feel a lot like Wednesday Addams in Addams Family Values when she gets locked in the Harmony Hut for being so negative. Admitting that I want to be more positive feels exactly like the moment when she emerges and freaks everyone out for wanting to change.
A big cause for feeling depressed is how much I dislike being in Boston and away from my friends. Some transplants might be able to defend this city for having lovable traits, but to me it’s an empty husk that gets filled by 9-5er’s and college students, then abandoned to leave nothing but traces of suburbia and unfortunately high rents in buildings owned by people who probably live 15 miles away. I’ll refrain from going more in depth about what I dislike about this place. There’s a very small sprinkling of people I’ve found here who are actually pretty cool and not total shit heads, and if I didn’t have them, I’d probably be trying to conform entirely to the Boston lifestyle to forget who I used to be. For the most part, I miss Brooklyn. I feel like there’s a correlation between the length of time since I was last there and an increase in depression. I haven’t been there since July, and I am starting to feel totally empty and like I’m missing out on everything.
What I miss about Brooklyn are my friends and the comforting feeling of home I feel when I walk around there. I miss walking down the street and running into friends. I miss the day taking an unexpected turn when I hang out with those friends instead of going home. I miss hanging out at Bodega on a Sunday afternoon with my husband and playing chess until brunch was over and we’d go home to watch a movie. I miss inviting 20+ people over to my apartment for brunch, single-handedly cooking eggs and potatoes for everyone, and having every surface in my kitchen covered by champagne bottles from mimosas and dirty dishes. I miss bbq’s on the roof of the Tea Factory. I miss the $.10 limes from C-Town and the near-steady supply of guacamole I had in my home. I miss riding my bike through Morgantown and then down Bedford to get to McCarren Park to people watch, drink wine, and read on a blanket. I miss the Turkey’s Nest even though it smelled like piss and bleach if you stayed in there for too long after getting your styrofoam cup filled. I miss the Music Hall of Williamsburg. I miss Pies N Thighs, Sweet Chick, and Cafe Colette. I miss splurging for upscale burgers and comfort food at Northeast Kingdom. I miss the art painted on practically every surface in Jefftown. I miss sitting in Maria Hernandez park. I miss overpaying for speciality ingredients at Hana. I’ll stop there.
This week I will be exercising Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday no matter how tired I am. Wednesday I’m going to a UMass Boston information session on the MSA program. Weather permitting, I’ll walk home instead of taking the T (something that always brings me down), and I’ll leave my office to eat lunch in a park. It bothers me how pretty much everyone in my office eats their lunch at their desk rather than taking a walk or getting away to avoid phone calls or interruptions. Friday, I have my annual review and I want to have a positive attitude going into it.
I imagine there are some people who are wondering why the hell I would be open about something like how much debt I have and what I’m doing to get rid of it. As I mentioned before, I feel like part of the obstacle of repaying debt is talking about it. How did I get into so much debt? Obviously, some shit happened.
This month is about goals and initiatives to achieve measurable results. I’ve got $583 in my checking account, and this month I expect over $4,500 to be coming my way from paychecks, freelance, and a deposit refund. In June, I rented a party space in Bushwick, Brooklyn to have a second wedding reception with food, drinks, and dancing for our friends who couldn’t make it to the wedding in May. I convinced myself that I would be able to balance paying for it and maintaining my $200/credit card monthly payments, but when I looked at the numbers and started to panic over how close I’d be cutting it, I decided that spending all of the money on my debt instead would feel much better than throwing a party. I cancelled far enough in advance that I get a full refund minus a 4% handling fee. Now, I’m so proud of all my planning for this month and my mission to get this done, that I will have full disclosure about my situation in order to hold myself accountable for whatever outcome (good or bad) this month holds.