Tag Archives: savings

2015 In Review: Everything Else

 

Last year I had just five resolutions; that should have been doable, right? Not so, apparently, but let’s start with the ones I did achieve.

 

Get closer to God. I don’t know if it’s really right to say I nailed this one because I think this is something you should always be working on, but I definitely did work on it all year like I’d wanted to so I say it’s a win. I read my devotional everyday and even flagged the days that spoke the loudest to me to refer to later. I volunteered for the Sharing Table and enjoyed it immensely, so much so that it’s something I will always do when it’s my churches turn now. I was able to put some of my creative skills to work at my church during Vacation Bible School and hope to do that again this year as well. But even with doing all those things I set out to do, I missed a lot of church this year, for either being sick or bad weather or just because I was too tired/busy. I wish that part wasn’t true because it’s so much easier to drift from God without that weekly sermon to keep you grounded. I need to work on that for sure in 2016. I also didn’t write in my prayer journal nearly as much as I might have thought I would. In fact, praying as a whole is something that slips my mind all to often these days. I get it in my mind to, but instead of doing it right then and there, I collect my prayers and then forget to do anything with them. I really want to work on that in 2016 as well. Still, as a whole, I feel like my faith is definitely stronger this year than it was last year and even though I’ve got so much more room to grow, I feel like I’m moving in the right direction in my walk with Christ.

 

Get Healthy. This is another one of those resolutions that is always on my list and will probably stay on my list forever, but I definitely feel like I can call this one a success this year too, maybe even more so than years past. As I mentioned in my “Stuff I Loved” post, I got really into fitness in 2015. I had already been practicing the whole “clean eating” lifestyle from the year before, so that part wasn’t hard. In fact, once I started pushing my body past the limit, eating right seemed to get even easier – like my body was only craving the nutrients that would allow it to keep enduring all those grueling workouts. T25 is an amazing workout regimen and I’m so glad that I gave it a shot. In that first week, I keep starting an overly dramatic blog post about how I was basically committing suicide, but I’m glad I never finished it because I swear once I got past that first week my perspective changed 100%. Being the busy person that I am, it’s almost too easy to say I just don’t have time to workout, but I swear that somehow squeezing that 25 minute workout in everyday made me capable of fitting even more into my everyday schedule. I guess it just makes you more aware of your use of time? Something like that. I’m still disappointed I had to quit when I got pneumonia and that I haven’t been able to re-start it again because of my limited space/Christmas decorations, but I’m really pumped about killing it in 2016. And I’m really proud of/happy with the changes in my body so far as a result of the 7 weeks I already completed. By my wedding I’d lost 3-4” everywhere, dropped down 2 bra sizes and 1 size in clothing, and lost 15 lbs. total. Thankfully, despite my increased cookie/sugar consumption through the holidays, I’ve managed to keep it all off, too! I’ve still got a long way to go before I’m truly at a healthy place, but I feel like 2016 is definitely going to be the biggest year of success in this resolution.

 

Pay down debt. I don’t think I was able to pay off nearly as much toward my debt as I did last year, partly because I didn’t have the same amount of overtime and also because I got married/went on a honeymoon. But I did still put a significant dent in my credit with the help of another successful year of the Savings Challenge and in shifting my cards around to 0% interest rates so the money I was putting toward them was being used more effectively. I’m definitely not in the clear yet (or even close to be honest), but I do think I’m closer to being able to buy a house and am still hopeful that 2016 is the year for that. After we do our taxes and meet with the bank, we’ll have a better idea of what’s possible or not, but I’m still hoping for the best and I’m glad I’ve gotten in this saving/paying habit over the past few years because I’m confident I’ll be able to keep it up whether we can buy a house this year or not!

 

*Bonus: Get a Tattoo!* This was technically 2014’s resolution and I hadn’t achieved it by the end of 2014, but in reviewing those resolutions I felt confident that the day was right around the corner and I’d been right. I got not just one, but three new tattoos in 2015 (over 4 separate sessions) and gosh if it doesn’t make me want ALL the tattoos now. Seriously, it’s not even painful at this point and that’s when you know you’re in dangerous territory – lol. Thankfully the cost will keep my tattoo collecting in control, because boy is it expensive! Still, I’ve got a small savings started already for the next one and I can’t wait for more ink!

 

Tattoos2015

 

So for the things I didn’t succeed at….

 

Time Management. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to master this, not unless something major comes along to force me into it. Even then, though, I’m not sure. I really need to learn how to say no. Outside of all the creative pursuits I have on my own, I’m constantly saying yes to doing things for other people and thinking I can fit them all in my schedule together. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to do all the things I want and need to do. Once again, this year I found myself sick with pneumonia for the first time in my life, as a result of trying to do way too much. People even tried to tell me to slow down, but I didn’t listen. It didn’t help that I had a wedding to plan, prepare, and participate in during the height of my busy season. That’s all I should have been focusing on, but instead I was doing so much more. If I could go back and do it differently, I would, but since I can’t I really just need to learn from it. I hope that I won’t find myself making those same mistakes this year, but I also know how foolish I can be. :/

 

Try to get Published. What a laughable joke. And not the funny kind either, no it’s the sad, pitiful kind. The most I achieved this year in the way of writing was reading through and redlining my manuscript. Not the one that’s complete either, not the one I wanted to shop around. No, just a regular old work-in-progress. And then I set it aside and literally did not write even one single new word in 2015. Failure doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings over this. I miss writing. I hate that my other creative pursuits eat up all the time I’d usually have for writing. I hate that I don’t know how to balance the two and be successful in them both. I miss my characters; they’re almost never even around anymore. I feel so out of touch with writing at this point that I feel almost foolish for thinking it’s still a possible dream to have. Am I even a writer anymore?

 

 

2014 Savings Challenge

This year I resolved to save more, not just for the actual Savings Challenge, but as a whole in my life. I’ve been carrying around a lot of debt for too long, debt that keeps me from living the life I imagined myself having (namely, owning a house) and it was time to do something about it. Time to utilize my income in the smartest way.

 

I made small efforts like only allowing myself to buy X amount of pre-order books at the start of the year and to fully preview albums before just buying the whole thing because I frequently only end up liking 2-3 tracks and it would have just been cheaper to buy the singles. It’s unreal how much those two things I love rack up quickly.

 

I made other choices that impacted my spending money, too, like water consumption. Water is all I drink (well, and tea, too) and I drink a lot of it (on average about 120 oz. a day). Prior to this year, I’ve always just bought water bottles to drink at work (I have an H2O Filter Pitcher at home), but after realizing a great many of my headaches could have been a result of BPA’s, I bought myself a Tervis (BPA-Free) and a Whirlpool EveryDrop (also BPA-Free) and stopped buying water bottles altogether. When I did the math, it looked something like this:

 

2 cases of bottles a week at approximately $4 a case = $416 a year in bottled water

 

-OR-

 

1 EveryDrop + 4 pack of filters (that will last me longer than a year) = $50 for the first year, $30 for every year after

 

Leaving me with a savings of $366 a year. Just from water consumption. It’s sort of amazing when you look at it that way. Not to mention, so much healthier for the environment, right?

 

I didn’t factor my Tervis into that calculation because any cup will do, I just prefer Tervis. But even if I did factor it in, we’re only talking about an additional $20 which is still an impressive savings.

 

The biggest contributing factor to my success this year was all the overtime I put in at work. For almost half of the year I was working 60-70 hours a week and as you can imagine my paychecks were nice and fat as a result. But instead of growing accustomed to the temporary increase in pay, I started throwing large swaths of money at my credit card debt, starting first with the card that had the highest interest rate and not stopping until they were paid off. I also steadily dumped extra money every week into the Savings Challenge envelope, leaving me with $3000 instead of the $1300+ I was hoping to save. In addition to that, I actually let my real savings account bloom, too, setting aside almost 2K for Christmas and emergencies.

 

All of this savings helped me pay off and close 4 credit cards this year worth almost $9000. Sadly, I still have a ways to go before I’m in the clear, but I will definitely be keeping these techniques in tact in 2015. I can’t wait to see where I am financially this time next year! I’m a firm believer in being responsible for the debt you acquire and it’s really rewarding to see it on the decline by hard work. Certainly, I’ll never find myself in this place again.

 

Did any of you try the savings challenge this year? Have any tips for spending your money more wisely? I’d love to hear about it!

 

2013 Savings Challenge

At the start of 2013, I saw this ‘savings challenge’ floating around FB and since every year I make a mental hope to myself that I’ll actually save some money to help get out of debt (which is hard when you live paycheck-to-paycheck and I never succeed at), I figured I’d give it a shot. The old fashioned way, with money in an envelope.

 

The idea behind the savings challenge is that if you were to save the value of the week (ex: week 1, save $1 – week 2, save $2 – week 30, save $30 and so on) then by the end of the year you would have saved $1,378.00. That amazed me, especially because it seemed so simple. And in those first ten weeks, since the values were so small, I jump started the savings by putting aside $10 each week until I’d actually reached week 10. But as week 40 approached along with holiday season, it got a lot harder to put that much aside every week.

 

Ultimately I decided there was no way I could set aside money for the savings challenge AND Christmas spending so at week 40, I set a $30 value and stuck with that for the remainder of the year. While I didn’t quite reach the total I was hoping for, and I ended up having to use some of it for Christmas presents, I finished the year with $1000 bucks – almost enough to pay off one of my credit cards (which is something I haven’t been able to do in a long time).

 

I’ve decided that for 2014, I’m going to do the challenge backwards because with the holidays out of the way, I could afford to set aside $50+ bucks aside a week now. And I think that if I work backwards and get comfortable putting aside $25 or $30 bucks a week when I reach that week, then I’ll just keep putting that much aside for the rest of the year, which will leave me with even more money to pay off another credit card next Christmas.

 

I have to admit, I’m pretty proud of myself for succeeding at this. I have more debt than one should at my age, with nothing of that much value to show for it, but I’m a firm believer in actually paying those debts down and being responsible for them. Otherwise, I’d never learn to spend more wisely with age. It feels good to finally put a dent in something that’s really heavy to carry and I’m confident now that I can continue to get this under a more reasonable control with this yearly challenge.