Net Worth Update May 2015

networthupdateAnother month down! Wow.

I was about to write that this one was weird, except let’s face it, I have a lot of weird months. This wasn’t a great month for savings and scrimpings, but it wasn’t as much of a complete collapse as, say, March. It was just a month with a couple of large expenses and nearly no side income; I was crazy busy with my actual job and didn’t have time or energy for hustling on top of that. If I ignore all the money I put into savings (which would have covered the expenses easily) then I can kind of sense what it would be like to be really living paycheck to paycheck right now. Glad that’s not actually my reality at the moment (and hopefully never again, but you never know.)

To the numbers!

Continue reading “Net Worth Update May 2015”

(Finally) working on my clothing

OK, not really. I’m kind of dying to make a real clothing plan, a capsule wardrobe like all the cool kids are blogging about these days, but I’m not really there. However, a few weeks ago I did some serious spring cleaning and ditched every item that was worn out, stretched out, stained, didn’t fit, or I absolutely hated. This was on the heels of a weeding session I did in December before I moved, so I feel reasonably stripped down (hee, as it were) even though I still have things that I rarely wear or that can’t be easily mixed and matched. Maybe eventually I’ll dip my toes into true capsule territory, but not quite yet.

However, I’d been on an informal semi-shopping ban since August 2013, the last time I went out and bought a stack of stuff (two cardigans, a dress, a button-down shirt, and a couple of tank tops, all of which I do still wear often today.) I think between August 2013 and earlier this month, I’d bought a tshirt, a single new bra, a pair of jeans (on ebay) — oh, and my debt-free boots — and that was it. And I spent a lot of time on the blog bitching and moaning about how much I wanted new clothes 🙂

I’m not, financially, at the stage where I can fill in all the holes in my closet with ease. But one thing really needed to happen this month (summer sandals, since I wore out my last pair by the end of last summer) and I also was really hoping I could find some dresses I liked to supplement my ragtag summer office wardrobe.

Have any of y’all tried zulily [not an affiliate link]? I rather uncharacteristically clicked on a banner link a couple of months ago because I liked the dress the model was wearing so much. It’s a discount site where they have “events” (either single or multi-designer collections) that last a few days. They then buy exactly what’s been ordered in giant lots from the manufacturers, and mail it out to you. The discounts range from 30-80%.

There is a GIANT red flag here: you can’t return anything. So if you’re the kind of person who tends to have buyer’s remorse, or if you don’t know yourself/your body type really well, I don’t recommend even trying this out. So far, I’ve bought a pair of sandals and three dresses that I was pretty sure were going to be cut well for me, and were flexible enough (two knits and one looser shirtdress) that I figured just choosing a size M would work out ok. All of it’s been a great success; I love the dresses (and have been getting lots of compliments on them) and the sandals are doing exactly what they need to do. And I paid a grand total of $200 for all of it; they are all really high quality items that ought to last for years, so I’m pleased. But I’ve definitely been browsing very, very cautiously, because the last thing I need is to be spending $$ on wardrobe items I don’t absolutely love, and can’t return. So, to sum up: you should definitely check this site out, but be careful!






Zero Food Waste 2015, Week 19: Trust Your Instincts (plus steel-cut oats)

zero food waste challenge 2015Good morning! The weather’s been mostly awful here, very humid. I find it really difficult to cook in weather like this, mostly because, well, who wants to turn on the stove? All I want to do is lie around on the porch with a tall glass of lemonade and a fan pointed directly at me.

Later in the summer, when the weather gets like this, I just eat lots of cold things (cheese, summer sausage, yogurt) and cut up raw vegetables and fruits. But we’re not at the point where the farmer’s market is producing enough to keep me fed, so I had to wing it.

Continue reading “Zero Food Waste 2015, Week 19: Trust Your Instincts (plus steel-cut oats)”

Growing Net Worth With a Lower Income

Growing Net Worth Lower IncomeI’m going to put “lower income” in quotes here, because, for heaven’s sake, I make $47500 in base salary, plus side hustling that is probably going to amount to $1000-$2000 this year. That ain’t a low low income; it’s not all that far below the median household income for the United States.

But it’s certainly not the kind of income that many PF bloggers have, either through successful freelance businesses, or just because they’re in much better paying fields. Even at under $50K income, and despite a few emergencies, my net worth is steaming along at a respectable pace at this point. I’ll run exact numbers at the end of June, after exactly one year at this salary, but most months I manage a net worth growth of around $1800-$2000, on a gross salary of $4000. Obviously, I’m keeping my expenses low — something people routinely comment on when I do a monthly net worth update. Continue reading “Growing Net Worth With a Lower Income”

Zero Food Waste 2015, Week 18: Rebooted Grain Salad

zero food waste challenge 2015I don’t really have a “tip” this week, and actually I failed pretty hard at this challenge: I had to toss some cheddar cheese and a few tortillas I’d completely forgotten about which got moldy while I was traveling 🙁

Instead of a tip, I did a full-on reboot of something I ate in London that should have been much tastier than it was. I was at a place I’ve eaten at several times and loved everything from, and when I saw the list of ingredients I just had to have this: grains, spinach, celery, squash, hemp seeds, chives, pomegranate dressing, labneh — wow. What a combination. I’d never have come up with it and I knew instantly it would be wonderful…and then I bought it and it was honestly only so-so.

But I just knew it could be fixed. Continue reading “Zero Food Waste 2015, Week 18: Rebooted Grain Salad”

Cleansing, yes, frugal, uh, not so much

You know what’s really clean? My car’s new power steering fluid. You know what else is really clean? My checking account!

Yup, I’m ready for the Borscht Belt.

Seriously, though, I actually had an incredibly productive week, full of taking care of business at work and at home. I knocked a ton of stuff off my work to-do list and even got underway on a major new project — not bad for a four-day workweek where I was still recovering from jet lag.

Meanwhile, at home, I ate a lot of vegetables, made bread and made another batch of sour cherry jam (which I’d been meaning to do for a month), cleaned the bathroom, conditioned my boots, took apart the bedframe and put the boxspring and mattress on the floor*, made a haircut appointment, and took my car both to the mechanic and to the place that vacuums out the inside.

The vacuum place, I have no complaints! The $8 to turn that chore over to someone else was well worth it. I don’t have complaints about the mechanic either actually, it was just more expensive than I’d hoped for. I got an oil change, and asked them also to look at the brakes (which turned out to be fine) and at a noise I’d been hearing when making a hard left turn. They weren’t 100% sure what the noise was about, but cited several issues that it *could* be, all of which needed to be dealt with anyway as a matter of maintenance (the power steering fluid) and/or safety (there was something loose that…shouldn’t have been loose.) All of that, plus a couple other maintenance things, came to about $400, mostly in labor. It all needed doing, so no regrets, but I’m not feeling very frugal after all, especially since I’m also having trouble sticking to the amount of cash I took out at the beginning of May (much less than I usually take out, because of the trip.)

I really can’t wait to fill this emergency fund up; the first thing I’m doing after that is putting money into my “gremlins” and “repairs” funds. I’ve been managing so far without having to taking anything out of the EF but I don’t like feeling so close to the edge all the time; it would be great to have several hundred dollars worth of cushion sitting around in my spending money.

[Edited to add: oh yeah, I took a suit jacket to the dry cleaners and did a massive cleanup of my office at work — piles of papers sorted and put away, etc — so that was really good too.]

*I’d been meaning to do this for a while; I rent a room, so the bed’s not mine, and I’ve thought it was too high off the ground basically since I moved in. Now that summer is rapidly coming on, I especially wanted to be lower to the ground so the fan (which sits on the floor) can actually reach me!

Zero Food Waste, Week 17: Saving Leftover Salad

zero food waste challenge 2015Morning, everyone! I went right out after I wrote that post on Monday and bought a metric ton of greens — arugula, kale, and chard — all of which have been making me feel much better 🙂

However, the salads I made do bring up the problem of how to handle leftover salad, so that’s the topic of today’s post, after the grocery list. Continue reading “Zero Food Waste, Week 17: Saving Leftover Salad”

A Frugal Cleanse

Hi y’all, I’m back 🙂 I wasn’t sure if I was going to write today, after the EPIC trip yesterday (I’ve never been on a plane ride that long, I don’t think — a full 8 hours. I know this is nothing to people that have been to/from Australia, say, but really I don’t think I’ve ever done more than 6 before personally.)

However, making my morning to-do list just now — laundry, grocery shopping, all the post-trip stuff — I realized that what I want more than anything else for the next couple of weeks is to get back to basics on frugality. It was a good trip, but I feel a little out of whack. For one thing, my employer covered most costs, so I stayed at a hotel much more luxurious than I usually do (actually, I rarely stay in hotels at all overseas; either hostels, or AirBnBs.) The food was way more than I usually eat too; croissants every morning in the breakfast basket, restaurant meals every night. It was fun, but I feel a little bloated, spiritually and physically. Second, I didn’t go totally crazy, but I did spend a lot more of my own money on entertainment and stuff than I usually do these days. I went to the theater twice, to an art museum (that I had to pay for) once, bought gifts for both my parents and for a couple of friends. Je ne regrette rien, but now that I’m home I feel an urge to simplicity in both food and general life stuff.

So! I’m going on a frugal cleanse for the next week or two. Get myself back to my baseline state.

1) Instead of spending time looking for ways to spend money on more stuff (clothes shopping) I’m going to focus on mending and repairing and generally taking care of what I already have. My car needs both a mechanical checkup, and to have everything cleared out of it and be vacuumed and etc etc. I have some clothing that needs mending and/or dry cleaning that’s been piling up. My boots need to be cared for with leather conditioning cream. My office needs to be thoroughly cleaned and sorted. I want to check over and reorganize my kitchen shelves. I actually got going on this a little on the plane home — I spent some time sorting unsorted files into the correct structure on my computer and it felt GOOD.

2) I’m going to take care of my body! Eat lots and lots of vegetables (and NO CROISSANTS, hee); exfoliate and moisturize the heck out of everything; get a haircut, which might not be frugal, but will make me feel light and unfettered, which is the important part here.

3) I’m going to read the books that have been piling up on my bedside table instead of either adding more, or spending all extra time on the internet 🙂

4) I’m going to finally start my summer biking routine, taking the bike for all local trips except groceries and to/from work.

Any other things y’all do when you’re feeling a little bloated from overspending and overeating?

Just a quick check-in: controlling spending with credit cards?!

Hey y’all, not a long post because I’m still on the work travel thing. Did I mention I’m in another country this time? Uh, I am. In case you are wondering, it is a lot of fun. 🙂

I decided to try something pretty novel for me: instead of controlling my spending with a cash draw, I decided to exclusively use a credit card here. I had to apply for a new one, because my existing cards had foreign transaction fees on them, and it occurred to me that instead of doing what I usually do (take out cash in currency of foreign country; spend it all; take out more cash; spend all of THAT) I could try something new, the idea being not to end up with either overspending to get rid of extra foreign currency or having to bring home currency I can’t spend and then wait four or five years til I’m back in the correct country.

It’s working quite well so far! I’ve been able to swipe for everything except a tip for the washroom attendant yesterday (I felt really bad about this, but I apologized to her and said I just didn’t have any currency — it’s now occurring to me as I type that I probably could have left her a U.S. dollar and she’d have figured out something to do with it. Oh well.) And I think it may even have been preventing me from over-doing it on spending. I’ve bought a few gifts for family members, and food, but other than that just a cheap theater ticket; when I have to pull out my card I have to think about entering the transaction into YNAB, instead of just handing over random amounts of cash from my wallet. So far so good anyway!