I’m As Optimized As I’m Going to Get (for now)

So for those of you who don’t follow my twitter, some of the random budget angst from last week turned out to be a little premature. Turns out — ha ha! — I had accidentally hidden a category in YNAB, which happened to have $250 in it, so when I found it I relaxed some and also moved the $$ into my down payment fund, which now stands at $5250. I’ll just have to hustle back the $750 that went into my Roth IRA last week to make it back to the $6000 it was at.

Wait a minute, why hustle?

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Should I have stretch goals?

Happy Monday everyone!

I’m slowly settling back into home after a long month of travel. In fact, right now I’m in bed with my feet tucked under my housemate’s dog…which is a good thing since last I looked it was around 7 degrees (farenheit) outside. Brrrrrrrr. Yesterday I made bread and went to church, and today’s agenda includes such exciting action points as “do laundry” and “write blog post.” It does not include anything like “buy plane tickets.”

So what I’m saying here is the cozy factor is through the roof around here. Naturally, this state of affairs led to an hour Saturday evening which caused me to tweet this:

Continue reading “Should I have stretch goals?”

Into Uncharted Waters: My Other Plans for 2016

First of all, I hope everyone had a totally delightful holiday. Mine had its ups and downs (honestly, I am not a fan of Christmas in general) but I love my parents and brother and it’s been good to see so much of them. I’ve got a long drive in between me and Indiana right now, but I think it’ll be good to get back, too. I’m fired up about my work for the coming year and really ready to plunge back in.

When I set my financial goals for 2016,  there was something conspicuously missing: in among all those hard dollar amounts, I didn’t write anything about the rest of my plans for the year. But I do have some. Unlike the financial goals, which are highly measurable, these plans all involve exploration: I don’t know what will come of them.

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The Savings-to-Self-Respect Feedback Loop

Finally, I get to write a post about an emotional benefit that saving has had for me! I’ve been complaining ever since I paid off my debt that saving doesn’t feature that same high that comes when you throw $2000+ at a loan on a single day. I used to feel like a warrior making those big payments, and socking cash away just doesn’t carry the same excitement on a month to month basis. It mostly made me feel like I was running on some kind of Sisyphean treadmill, looping around every month between direct deposit and savings account with nothing interesting, like a debt-free letter, to show for it.

However, I think I’m starting to “get it.”

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My Emergency Fund is Officially FULL!

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 10.30.59 AMMy paycheck hits today, and so does my automatic transfer of $500 into my Emergency Fund savings account. That takes me, in 18 months, from a person who’s never heard of an emergency fund, to a person who was sure that the idea of saving six months’ expenses was impossible, to a person who…has saved six months’ expenses.

[Yes, yes, I was 35 and had never heard of an emergency fund. Live and learn!]

Here’s the thing, though, although I want to be all happy joy joy about how good it feels to have this done — and it does — my predominant feeling is that I kind of hated saving like this and don’t want to do it again. Continue reading “My Emergency Fund is Officially FULL!”

Being Thrifty and Eating Right in New York Was Really, Really Hard

So I’ve lost a little weight recently — not a ton, maybe five pounds — and I was thinking today about why that never happened in New York, when I was younger and also probably getting more exercise (just from walking around more.) Also, as you may have noticed, I’m a lot better at sticking to a budget and saving money now than I used to be 🙂 And I think the two things are actually interconnected, not just in the way that financial and weight metaphors often work together, but because the pattern of living in New York is practically designed to disrupt weight control and money control.

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Why the Parable of the Savers Drives Me Nuts (Or, Late Bloomers and Humanities Majors Are Not Doomed)

NotDoomedI’ve written time and time again in the last year about how much I’ve learned from the PF blogosphere: budgeting, investing basics, debt payoff strategies, frugal tips, and more. But there’s one post in particular that makes me groan every time I see a variation on it. It’s the “parable of the savers,” and you’ve seen it at least a hundred times if you’ve been reading around PF blogs for long. You know the one: John invests $5 a year starting at age 5, and stops at age 20. When he’s 65, this total $75 investment has grown to $3,000,000 through the magic of compound interest. Jane, meanwhile, lives it up, buys expensive cars and too many pairs of shoes, and doesn’t put anything away until she’s 45. She’s making a good salary by then, so she socks away $5000 a year, but she still only ends up with $150,000, and has to live in a van down by the river and eat cat food in her old age. Continue reading “Why the Parable of the Savers Drives Me Nuts (Or, Late Bloomers and Humanities Majors Are Not Doomed)”

All of a sudden I just want to buy stuff

Did it start with my trip to New York, which took me out of my new-normal, carefully regulated frugal environment and reawakened all my old “just spend money” instincts? Or did it start when I lost some weight and realized very little fit me anymore and my “refresh my wardrobe” project had just stepped up in urgency? Or maybe when I had to drop $350 on a car repair earlier this month and suddenly my month of Super Saving was going to be a little less Super? Or maybe when I used birthday money and a bit of my tax return to buy some kickin’ boots?

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I Have What I Need, and That’s Hard to Remember

what-do-you-needI’m scheduling this post for my 36th birthday, which (as I write) will be here in less than a week. I just deleted some emails from various retailers promising sales on down jackets, shirts, and shoes. It was the down jacket one that got me ready to write a post — because I thought “oh, I should look at that.” Then I remembered that I have a totally functional down coat that I bought about five years ago and that shows no signs of dying. Why the impulse to go look at that online shop, then? Continue reading “I Have What I Need, and That’s Hard to Remember”