February Spending Review

This was a HEAVY spending month, mainly because I purchased a trip to Florida. I did, however, get my tax refund and did better than average in commissions, so I decided to mindfully treat myself. Here’s how I did it…

Base Income (after taxes & 401K contributions): $1500

Commission Income (after taxes & 401K contributions): $2150

Tax Refund: $3125

Total Take Home Income (Feb): $6775

Where My Take Home Money Went: February

Rent, Utilities, and Phone – $110 (2%) – The usual.

Gym – $20 (0.3%) – The usual for my BAC membership.

Groceries – $247 (4%) – After not contributing much to our groceries in January, I did the majority of the grocery shopping this much and my final bill shows it.

Dining Out – $94 (1%) – That whole February Friends focus? Meant leaving my house and meeting friends for coffee, dinner, or drinks more than I did in January. But, it was worth it, and it’s not like I went crazy.  I also included coffee into this category – Tim Hortons is now doing “Roll Up the Rim” and I find myself in the drive through before work a few days a week (whereas before I just made coffee at work).

Gas – $124 (2%) – I only filled up my tank twice this month! After realizing how much I spent in January, I tried to be a bit more cognizant about driving around (condensing errands, etc).  Also, my dad filled up my gas tank on his dime once, which was amazingly kind of him.

Shopping – $446 (7%) – This was one trip to one store and that store was Lululemon. I have held out on buying lulu workout clothes for SO LONG and I finally caved.  My workout wardrobe severely needed a refresh, and since I workout so often, I know that I will make good use out of these purchases. Plus, I can’t lie: cute workout clothes gives me more motivation to work out!

Household Items – $262 (4%) – This includes my monthly birth control RX ($50) and a 24 day supplement bundle by Advocare ($212). I know. But I’m going to Florida in a month and I am far from bikini-ready. Hopefully these supplements combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise will help me shave off some bloat before the trip.

Beauty – $286 (4%) – It was a “hair month” – meaning, I only get my hair done every other month, but when I do, it’s expensive (to the tune of $180!  I also got my nails done twice and bought a new foundation.

Entertainment – $93 (1%) – Last month I didn’t even include an entertainment category, but this month I spent quite a bit of money on entertaining myself! First of all, I treated Keith to a date at a comedy club ($46 for two tickets).  The other thing I discovered this month is audiobooks, which are an amazing use of time for my daily 60 minutes in the car, so much better than listening to the same top 40 songs over and over again. The only caveat is they are expensive, and I go through them quickly, so I bought two this month. And lastly, I was bed-ridden the entire last week of February so I bought season 1 of HBO’s “Girls” on iTunes.

Travel – $763 (11%) – This includes a round trip flight and four nights at a nice hotel, split with Jen. I am SO excited, and this was totally my tax refund splurge!

Miscellaneous – $140 (2%) – I bought a $25 intro to yoga pass, and I am falling in love with a new yoga studio (which could be trouble for my fitness budget in the months to come!). I also paid $90 for our precana and $25 for a groupon to Vistaprint which we are going to use for our wedding invitations.

Student Loan – $900 (13%) – Made a decent payment on the big old student loan this month. Slowly chipping away! Balance is now $17,700.

Savings – $2300 (34%) – A great month for saving! $1300 went into short term savings and $1000 went into long term (house fund).

The other $1000 of my February income (15%) is sitting in my checking account, waiting for me to decide what to do with it.

This month included some huge splurges (Florida trip and Lulu shopping spree) BUT I don’t feel guilty about them because they were paid for with cash AND I still managed to put 13% of my income towards my student loan and 34% into savings. As long as I’m prioritizing debt payoff and savings, I am not going to let myself feel guilty about spending the rest on things I love!

February Goal Review & March Goals

My focus in February was FRIENDS, and I’m pleased to say that I feel as if I made a great deal of progress.

  • Reconnect with an old friend COMPLETE: Towards the beginning of the month I had coffee and a long chat with a dear friend from college that had slipped away. We haven’t gotten together again as she has been busy studying for a professional exam, but I feel as if Megan and I will continue connecting on a regular basis, which makes me happy.
  • Make a new friend COMPLETE: As I mentioned, I bit the bullet and met a new friend out for drinks at a Saturday night. This included walking into a bar alone (very scary). We really connected, and have continued texting and chatting. We even met up at a comedy club this past Friday. I think Alex and I will continue to become friends!
  • Plan a girls night with college girls COMPLETE: Had an amazing girls-night-in game-night with my faithful friends. We drank wine, ate inappropriate amounts of sugar, reminisced, and laughed a lot. Gosh, I love this group of friends. They are truly the treasures in my life.
  • Send two peices of snail mail COMPLETE: Sent cards to my friends Gina and Jen who have both recently achieved professional accomplishments. Also sent a just-because card to Anne because I miss her.
  • Call Anne twice COMPLETE: I am sometimes bad about the phone but I have chatted with Anne at least twice this month. Our phone calls warm up my heart like crazy.
  • Skype with Chrissy twice INCOMPLETE: We did talk on the phone once, but unfortunately we did not Skype at all. Phone calls are nearly as good as Skype (without the awkward pauses that sometimes occur when Skype freezes) but unfortunately Chrissy and I only chatted once this month. We have, however, continued our near-daily emails! She is such a wonderful friend and I hope we can chat a bit more in March!
  • Have a heart to heart with Amanda & Lauren INCOMPLETE: I am a pussy and I also hate drama. There is definitely lots of weirdness happening in our friendship but I also don’t want a blow out. Basically, I have tried to make peace with the situation as it is. I refuse to chase people and I refuse to force someone to hang out with me. If they’d like to hang out with me, I have made my availability known multiple times. I am tired of sending out unanswered emails and texts, and I have discontinued doing this. If they’d like to see me, I would love to get together with them, but they are going to have to contact me. Otherwise, our friendship will just slowly fade away, which I have also made peace with.
  • Plan a girls trip for the spring COMPLETE: This might have been the most exciting goal to work on. Jen and I are going for a long weekend in Miami in April. I am so flipping excited!

My focus for March is mindfulness. Sometimes I feel as if I’m just drifting through life and letting things happen to me instead of making things happen.  In March I want to work on living in the moment, being aware of my actions, and practicing gratitude and cultivating an attitude of calmness.

  • Make morning meditation a daily practice
  • Attend twenty yoga classes
  • Track food intake for the entire month
  • Set three MIT’s (Most Important Tasks) daily and complete them

Healthy Living Survey

Tina Reale’s Best Body Bootcamp is coming to an end this week, and she put out a little Healthy Living Survey that I wanted to participate in.

  1. What did you eat for breakfast? I’m getting over an illness, so my eats have not been “standard” this week. Today I had two slices of whole grain toast smeared with Kerrygold butter and two poached eggs. I also had two glasses of orange juice to up my vitamin C intake!
  2. How much water do you drink in a day? I have a big 20 oz. cup that I keep at my desk and I fill it up at least 3 times during the work day. I also usually have at least 1 cup of herbal tea and some water in the morning. I’d say my daily intake is about 60-80 oz. on a week day. I struggle to get water on the weekend, and I need to make more of an effort. On a weekend I bet my intake is closer to 40 oz.
  3. What is your current favorite workout? I’m a little bit burned out on spinning and weight lifting, to be honest. I am LOVING interval runs on the treadmill and yoga.
  4. How many calories do you eat each day? I do not track my calories, and my daily eats are not steady whatsoever. I definitely eat more than 2,000 per day.
  5. What are your favorite healthy snacks? I love fruit and nuts! In fact, I really need to cut back on my nut intake.
  6. What do you usually eat for lunch? A big salad with lots of veggies (cucumbers, peppers, carrots) and chicken breast.
  7. What is your favorite body part to train? Arms!
  8. What is your least favorite body part to train? Legs because I have sensitive knees.
  9. What are your bad food cravings? Anything sugary. Especially chocolate! And ice cream.
  10. Do you take vitamins or supplements? I take a daily vitamin D supplement (4000 IU total).
  11. How often do you eat out? Once or twice a week. Keith and I used to go so much more often but we have been really good about cutting back.
  12. Do you eat fast food? Not normally, but I have been known to stop for a McDonalds Shamrock Shake during the months of February and March!
  13. Who is your biggest supporter? Keith is amazing. He tells me I’m beautiful every day, supports all of my weird diet phases, and is extremely supportive of my gym habit.
  14. Do you have a gym membership? Yes, I belong to a local gym and it costs $19/month. I signed a two year contract and got a great deal! This gym has seven locations, tons of classes, and great equipment. Recently I also buy additional passes for spinning (maybe $30/month) and yoga ($99/month – OUCH!).
  15. How many hours of sleep do you get at night? I go to bed around 10pm every night, and get up anywhere between 5am and 7am (depending on my days schedule), so anywhere between 7-10 hours a night.
  16. Do you have a “cheat” day? I don’t schedule it, but I “cheat” a lot, and lately, way too often!
  17. Do you drink alcohol? Yes, but my consumption has decreased a lot over the past year or two. I used to drink heavily Friday and Saturday night every weekend. Now, I will have a few drinks on Friday OR Saturday (not both) and some weekends I don’t drink at all. I feel much better this way.
  18. Do you have a workout buddy? No, I prefer to work out alone. Sometimes Keith and I will hit the gym together on a Saturday or Sunday, but I consider working out my “me” time.
  19. What is the best thing that has changed about your life since committing to a healthy lifestyle? My confidence has skyrocketed, working out is part of my daily lifestyle and it is a source of stress relief and something I look forward to (rather than feeling like I have to do it). Also, I have learned that I’m stronger than I think I am!
  20. What is the last healthy thing you did? Like I mentioned above, I have been sick so my days have been very ice cream laden. But I signed up to go to a yoga event tonight and I’m really looking forward to it!

Device Overload

I am the new owner of an iPad mini. I spent all evening syncing it to my iPhone. It’s basically the same thing with a bigger screen that makes for better viewing during bedside web surfing.

I don’t want to come off like I don’t appreciate the gift from my adoring fiance, because I do. I can especially see how fantastically entertaining it will be while traveling, and it’s a lightweight thing to stuff into my purse and carry around with me everywhere I go.

But really? It is an iPhone but bigger and it doesn’t make calls.  And it certainly doesn’t replace my laptop, since it’s not easy to type on and I can’t keep a spreadsheet on there (and I can’t live without my spreadsheets!).

So one of the things I am trying to do is minimize my life. In the past year, I have done this across the board (simplifying things such as: my finances, my career, my morning get-ready-for-work routine, my wardrobe, my skincare routine, my possessions, my friendships, and more).  But one thing I still spend too much time doing is sitting in front of a device (be it my computer, my iPhone, or now, my iPad) and watch someone else live THEIR life. I think my generation as a whole is guilty of being sucked down the time-warping internet rabbit hole more often than we’d like. Sometimes I feel like it’s just me, that there’s something wrong with me, or that I am an unmotivated lazy loser for getting so wrapped up in THE INTERNET. But the fact that I was able to have a full ninety minute conversation about this last Saturday night with my girlfriends made me realize that I am not alone.

And then today I discovered this post about a digital detox and was extremely excited to read that this is actually a common phenomenon.

I have to keep working to find that delicate balance between staying informed and in-touch and also allowing myself to disconnect and be at peace with quiet.

I Am An Athlete

I used to workout because I wanted to look good (read: skinnier).  I motivated myself by pasting photos of bikini models on my bedroom wall and computer desktop screen, and I wrote myself little hate notes in my agenda when I scheduled my workouts (they would say thinks like: workout, chubby!).

I mean, when comparing yourself to Victoria’s Secret models, one will always look a little chubby.

Even though at this time of my life I had gotten quite thin (this shrinkage was also due to having a very disordered relationship with food), and I worked out almost every day to burn more calories, I hated the process of working out. I saw it as torture, a dreaded task that had to be done every day but was arduous and anguishing.

My constant goal was to “lose 5 pounds” or “decrease body fat percentage by 1%”.

I can’t pinpoint exactly when my shift in mindset started happening, but it was some time over this past summer when I started falling in love with spinning. The classes gave me so much energy and the enthusiastic vibe of the class made me start looking forward to my daily workouts.  As I attended more classes (spinning, kickboxing, body pump, pilates, etc), my goals started to change.  Instead of focusing on weight loss, I began to desire to shave time off my mile or increase the amount of weight I could lift on a particular exercise.

I recently joined an eight-week Bridal Bootcamp program at my local gym, and tonight I completed my fitness test, and it was the first time that I have actually felt like an athlete. We had to run 1.5 miles as fast as possible, complete as many rounds as possible of certain exercises, and do other various strength and endurance tests. My results were off the charts, and for the first time I thought: I am so proud of what my body can do!

I joined the bootcamp for the motivation to keep pushing as I strive to reach my best body for my wedding in August, but tonight I realized that I have already accomplished so much when it comes to fitness… I fell in love with the endorphines, I created lifelong habits, and I have grown strong.  This outer strength has also led to an inner sense of confidence.  Knowing that I am strong, physically, makes me feel stronger, mentally. I know that I have the strength to push through a hard workout, so I can also muster up the strength to push through a bad day. In fact, on my worst days I crave that time at the gym to relieve some of my frustrations through sweat.

Ideally, I’d still like to shave about 1% off of my body fat percentage by my wedding. I’m at 18% right now (per tonight’s caliper test) and I would love to get to 17% because I’m just feeling slightly “softer” than I prefer. But even if nothing changes in my body composition, so long as I keep pushing myself beyond my limits each and every day, I will know that I have accomplished more than I ever thought I could.

ImageImageImage

All in a Weekend: Falling in Love Again and Facing My Fears

This Saturday, Keith and I attended our eight-hour precana session.  We weren’t necessarily looking forward to it, but I have to say that I got a lot out of spending this time together.  The session prompted discussions about topics that are usually not at the top of our list to discuss… The facilitators had us separate to go through different questionnaires independently, and then we came together to share and discuss our answers.

When we came together, I was amazed at how similar our answers were.  Though maybe it’s a cheesy thing to say, I felt like I fell in love with him all over again during this session. Sharing our values, opinions, and goals and seeing how closely aligned we are on all the important things was really touching and reinforced that our relationship is incredibly deep and strong.

On a related note, I’m watching a coworker go through an awful time in her marriage (her husband is a lying, cheating scoundrel) and though it is hard to watch her crumble at the seams, if nothing else it makes me realize how lucky I am – lucky to be in love with a man I’d never doubt, and lucky to have enough confidence in myself that I know I would walk away if he did do something to make me question his trustworthiness.

This weekend, I did something that was very scary for me. In the vein of making new female friends, I had agreed to meet up with a girl I had conversed with a few times on Twitter. We planned to meet for drinks on Saturday at 8pm. Now, there are so many ways that this is out of my comfort zone. First of all: meeting new people! Scary zone! Secondly: a crowded bar on a Saturday night?  And lastly: I had to walk into said bar ALONE – one of the worst things in the world, in my opinion.  I had an anxiety attack before leaving the house, and I prayed at least twenty times that she would cancel. But she didn’t, and I had to go. Keith drove me, bless his heart, so I didn’t have to park, and he sat with me in the car for almost 15 minutes waiting for her to arrive (she was running late and I couldn’t walk in until I was SURE she was there).  Eventually she came and she was awesome – we had great conversation, a few drinks, and delicious desserts. We also discussed briefly teaming up for a future blogging project which really got my creative juices flowing. I need more creative and inspirational people in my life.  When Keith picked me up a few hours later, I plopped into the passenger seat a little buzzed and a lot proud of myself. Stepping outside your comfort zone feels so hard, but if you just push through and do it, it really isn’t so bad most of the time.

That Thing I Can’t Stop Eating: Protein Pancakes

When I discover a new food, I tend to get slightly obsessed with it… This especially happens with breakfast food for some reason. At various times in my life I have been obsessed with different oatmeal combinations, omelette concoctions, and protein shake variations.

My current obsession is one of the easiest things I have ever made: vanilla-cinnamon protein pancakes.

Vanilla-Cinnamon Protein Pancakes

Vanilla-Cinnamon Protein Pancakes

Ingredients (for 1 serving):

1/2 banana, mashed

2 egg whites

1 scoop of vanilla whey protein powder

a few generous shakes of cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice

1 Tbsp coconut oil or butter

various toppings (berries, the rest of the banana, nut butters, coconut flakes, etc)

Directions:

1. Mash a banana with a fork (easier if it is slightly over-ripe)

2. Separate out 2 egg whites and add them to the mashed banana – combine.

3. Slowly add in 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder until it makes a batter, then stir in a generous amount of cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice.

4. Heat coconut oil over medium heat. Use a spoon to scoop up batter and add to hot coconut oil. Cook for about 1 minute (bubbles will start to form) and then flip it over and cook about 1 minute (or less) on the other side.

5. Top as you wish – I love to heat up frozen berries, when you heat them in the microwave it makes the juices come out kind of syrupy.  Another delicious combination is to smear some almond butter on top and then cut up the other 1/2 of your banana and put it on top.

When I eat these, I actually get little pangs of post-eating-disorder guilt. They feel so decadent, sweet, and dense, that they taste like a big treat to me. But in all actuality – they are pretty healthy. Without any toppings (and including the coconut oil they are cooked in), the pancakes themselves are about 250 calories.  Throw on some berries and you have yourself a delicious and easy 300 calorie breakfast!

Currently

feeling like i need to figure out how to hold my attention on 1 thing for more than 5 minutes

reading pictures of you by caroline leavitt – it makes me want to put on my pajamas and get in bed to curl up and read at 7pm every night

listening to horrifically angry rap songs, somehow they calm me down and pump me up

eating chocolate, lots of chocolate

wishing that i had more energy during the day

enjoying cuddles with my kitten and quiet nights at home with my fiance

drinking hot chocolate, need i say more?

learning a lot about recruiting and how to be a good employee

missing anne

thinking about how i still want to lose weight and i still can’t completely motivate myself to eat right and how i shouldn’t want to lose weight because one of the things i want to stop focusing on is weight but i just can’t get it off my mind

loving the fact that i just planned a trip to florida for a long weekend with one of my best friends

January Spending Review

While I didn’t consider 2012 my most successful year, there was one life area in which I dominated.

My finances.

It took a pay-cut, a rock on my finger, and mortgage discussions to finally convince me that I needed to (drastically) change my shopping habits. I kept track of my spending, cut back on a lot of splurges, and totally changed my lifestyle and habits.

This year I want to keep track of my spending to keep me on that path to financial freedom.

My income fluctuates each month based on my commission checks. I’m guaranteed to earn $1,500/month in base pay (that’s after taxes), and my commissions vary.  In January, I only earned $570 in commission (a light month, typically I expect to earn about $1,000 in commission).  My total income for January was $2,070 (ouch).

I allocate 3% of my earnings to my 401K, and my employer matches this contribution 100%. I know it’s not a ton, but at least I’m saving a little bit and I’m not missing out on free money (employer match).  Also, I plan on saving up some money temporarily in my savings account and making a contribution to my Roth IRA at the end of the year.

Where My Take-Home Money Went: January

Rent, Utilities, and Phone – $110 (5%)… I am fortune that my rent and utilities are bundled and that I am able to bundle my phone bill into that payment since it’s in K’s name. My portion of this is pretty miniscule!

Gym – $20 (1%) – my monthly membership to the BAC. I love this payment because I got a steal on membership. Normally it’s $32/month but because I let my membership lapse for 2 years, they wanted me back so badly, and I was willing to sign a 2 year contact, they reduced it to $19.95/month. Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to just ask!

Groceries – $125 (6%) – This was lighter than usual, I must have forced K to do more of the grocery shopping this month.

Dining Out – $69 (3%) – This is mostly brunches or lunches with girlfriends. Luckily K covers our date night dinners (for now, since I’m squeaking by and he is an angel).

Gas – $249 (11%) – WOW. This seems huge to me. I just got a new car for Christmas, and compared to my old Rav4, the Murano is a gas guzzler. In the past, I would spend maybe $160-180 on gas, so this has gone up significantly and I’m definitely feeling the pain!

Shopping – clothes & accessories – $129 (6%) – This includes a necklace for New Years Eve celebrations (we went to a 1920’s party) and a random trip to Target for a few new tops for work. Considering I used to drop $1,000 per month on new clothes, I’m proud of this number.

Household items – $139 (6%) – This includes drugstore purchases, my monthly birth control RX ($50 – yikes, but I can’t switch because my hormones are super sensitive and I am forever indebted to Yaz), one $4 Kindle purchase, and a new bedding set (I used a gift card on most of it but had to pay some of the balance).

Beauty – $102 (5%) – What can I say? Look good, feel good people. But really. I don’t mind spending a little bit of money on grooming. I only get my hair done every other month so this wasn’t a hair month but the total includes two manicures (bi-weekly) and some skincare products. I have only recently quit my nail biting habit, so I don’t mind splurging a little bit on manicures while I’m trying to grow my nails out.

Miscellaneous – $35 (2%) – There was a groupon deal for this spinning studio I love, so I bought it. It was $35 for 10 classes, and that usually costs $55 so I’m calling this a win!

Student Loan – $650 (30%) – So I’m trying to get rid of this thing that is hanging over my head. My balance is $18,600, and my goal is to have it paid down to a balance of $10,000 by the end of 2013. We will just see.

Savings – $550 (25%) – Saving for a few things right now: a down payment on our future home, a pre-wedding trip with my girlfriends, and honeymoon in Costa Rica.

I would call this month a success. I am extremely proud of saving 25% of my monthly earnings, and paying a big chunk of my earnings to my student loan. These loans are still in deferment (because I’m still in school) so technically I don’t have to pay them at all but I’m laser-focused on becoming debt free so I’m throwing as much as I can at them. The biggest pain this month was seeing how much more money I have to spend on gas. I probably could have done without that Target trip for a couple new work tops, but they make me smile so I have no regrets.