Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Spending Diet.

Guys. Seriously. I have GOT to go on a spending diet.

I am supposed to refinance my house in 11 months. ELEVEN months. I need to come up with more than a handful of pretty pennies in order to do this. Therefore, I am going to go on A SPENDING DIET

It's pretty easy - you pretty much put yourself on a super budget and then hold yourself accountable to that budget.

I have been using as a way to simple budget for about 6 months now. I have a serious love/hate relationship with that pesky pie chart I get weekly that shows me where all my money went to that week. (DAMN YOU HOUSE AND UTILITIES. AND FOOD.) The thing I love about the pie chart is it shows me where I can cut back spending. The thing I hate about the pie chart is that it colors the largest slice in the angriest red color and it just blares "YOU SPENT TOO MUCH MONEY HERE!"

Here's what I know:

1. I went on two vacations this spring/summer. Texas, a place I have never been, and down to my dad's in Alabama, where I go often. I probably should have spaced out these vacations for the sake of my bank account. Now I know!

2. My student loans were adjusted "based on my income." They are $120 less/month than they were before. Hopefully this doesn't bite me in the ass. I will try to put more towards them once I refinance mi casa.

3. I spend a LOT of money eating at restaurants. A couple years ago, I stopped eating at fast food joints. I saved a lot of money and probably a handful of pounds too.

4. I also spend a lot of money on my pets. They are spoiled. I need to remember that they are dogs and a cat. Celebrating their birthdays doesn't mean a damn thing to them. Cool it, Rachel.

Here's what I need to do:

1. Stop buying clothing. I don't need it. I don't need clothes for work. I don't need clothes for play. No more clothing. More clothes means more laundry and I HATE doing laundry.

2. Stop spending money on the animals. Start putting aside money every week for annual vet bills so when next summer rolls around, I'm not yanking hundreds of dollars out of my checking account.

3. NO MORE BOOKS! I have such a problem, guys. I love buying books. I like the way they look in my bookcase. I like the smell of a bookstore. I like buying a fancy coffee drink (see Number 4 below) and perusing a bookstore (I think bookstores make coffee smell better). I enjoy being able to crack the spine of a book I own without feeling guilty. BUT DANG IT, RACHEL, YOU CAN'T RIGHT NOW. Dropping cash on books right now is financially irresponsible. You don't need them. The spending diet is about needs, not wants. Plus, I just renewed my library card and I like the library so so so much.

4. COOL IT WITH THE FANCY COFFEE DRINKS. Iced white mochas from Starbucks are the bomb. I like them so much. But they are expensive. Like, $5.00 a drink expensive. That's crazy. I used to just get them on Sundays before work. Treat myself to a Starbucks drink after working 36-hours in a weekend. Yum. Then it became a Saturday/Sunday thing. Then it became a Friday/Saturday/Sunday thing. Now it's Friday/Saturday/Sunday and sometimes a day (or two) during the week. That's $25 a week in bullshit coffee! OMG! I just did the math - that's $1,300 annually.

5. Part of the spending diet is figuring out where money can be reduced from "Needs". This part sucks guys - I can't really pare down my "needs". House Payment - in the process of refinancing and I already have three roommates. Utilities - I only have internet (I consider that a "need") w/ Netflix. I put my Huluplus account on hold. My roommates and I share the electricity bill and water bill. My trash bill is the only pain in the butt, but I don't think switching services will be any cheaper. Cell phone - True, I do not need an iphone. BUT, I already have it. It doesn't make sense to get rid of it. AND I'm a single gal. I'd like to have it for when I'm driving around late and night and get lost. Eeek! I've already lowered my student loans.

6. Internet shopping should be more difficult. If I had to enter my 16-digit credit card number every time I wanted a dang tote bag, I would never buy tote bags. INSTEAD, there is this cute little paypal button. Click of the mouse and poof! Transaction completed. I end up with tote bags. and washi tape (dang it). and earrings. and whatever else I am thinking about buying. STOP IT. Thankfully, there are internet wish-lists (I'm looking at you, modcloth) so when I have the money, everything I have day-dreamed about is right there waiting for me.

7. SAVE MORE SCRILLA. I started doing the 52-week money challenge for the "things I need around the house." My goal is to have the 52nd week done for when I close on the refinancing of my house. Then I can go out and buy a couple fun things for my house. New artwork for my living room, maybe. I'm also putting money aside weekly for the annual vet bills (see Number 2 above), annual vacation, Christmas gifts, etc. I guess I need to open another savings account or something.

8. Spend less on food! Gotta get groceries and use them - stop saying I'll eat all that broccoli or whatever and not actually do it. Just throwing money away. Gotta eat leftovers! Gotta stop going out to eat! I need to clean out my pantry and freezer before I buy more food. I do this thing when I go on food kicks. I have a bunch of oatmeal from when I was on an oatmeal kick. A bunch of noodles when I was on a pasta kick. A bunch of hot chocolate when I was on a hot chocolate kick. Either way, here's the thing: I need to eat a lot of oatmeal, noodles and hot chocolate. Bummer, it's summer. Not only does this save me a bunch of money, but it makes me clean out my freezer and pantry, which means I'm not wasting food, and usually when I make things at home, I eat healthier. Win Win.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

We're adults. When did that happen? ... And how do we make it stop?

I remember being a kid and thinking (and sometimes saying... okay, shouting...) how much better adults have it than kids. They get to go to work and make money. I had to go to school where in which I was not making money. I had to do homework, where in which again, I was not making money. I was under the impression that if I had a job where in which I was making money, life would be better.

I also remember my parents fretting and reworking a budget when we needed a new appliance or they needed new tires or some other relatively large-ish, non-recurring expense. And I remember thinking, "Why the heck don't you have a couple hundred dollars to just throw at this problem? You make a couple thousand a month! Surely you can afford tires."

And now I'm an adult. And being an adult sucks sometimes.

Don't get me wrong. I love that I own my house and if I want to paint my bedroom hot pink, I can do it. And I love that I can stay up until all hours of the night doing whatever I want. And I love that I can eat candy for dinner. I love that I can do most things without someone telling me I can't. I can cut my hair, paint my nails, wear crazy clothes.

But I don't like that I have to pay for those things. Sure I have a car. Sure I can drive pretty much wherever I want, whenever I want. But I have to pay for gas. And oil changes. And tires.

Sure I can have all the puppies and kittens I could ever dream of. But I have to pay for shots. And food. And toys.

Sure I have a house and can paint my room whatever color I want, do the dishes whenever I want, watch the TV as loud as I want. But I have to pay the mortgage. And the utilities. And all the other obnoxious bills you have to pay to keep a house working. It sucks.

Lately I feel like every month I am paying some extraordinary amount of money for something out-of-the-ordinary. For example, I had to get new tires on my car. Now I know I only have to do this every 3-ish years, but son-of-a-bitch. I had to get a plumber out to clear a drain. I had to pay for car insurance. I have to get a new dryer. I'll have to get my air conditioner tinkered with (hopefully not replaced).

All of these things, these non-formulary expenses, fucking suck. Being an adult fucking sucks sometimes.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Everything's better in Texas.

I'm on vacation!!


I decided last year that I wanted to travel a whole bunch more, I didn't quite succeed at it for circumstances out of my control (cough cough divorce and lack of funds cough cough). The only places I went outside of Missouri was Iowa for the day with Lauren and then down to my dad's in Alabama. Don't get me wrong, both are great and fun, but I want to throw my net out a little bit more.

Hannah and I decided in December that we were going to go on vacation to some place sunny and warm. We couldn't decide on someplace out of the continental US (funds were again a pretty big deciding factor) so we decided to stick stateside. My options were Texas or California - Texas was the most financially do-able. So here we are!

Our first day was getting to Houston, picking up our rental car, going to Ikea (which was a little disappointing because it was on a Sunday and incredibly crowded. When I went in Chicago, we went during the week and it was a heavenly little ghost town). This one was a mad house. There were people everywhere that weren't paying ANY attention to their surroundings and so many loud kiddos. I got a couple little things - a fun little blanket, some frames for my vacation pictures, and a little basket/bowl thing. Then we drove to Galveston.

We knocked around the little shops (the few that were open) and then had a couple drinks and fancy appetizers at this cute little bistro next to our hotel.

The next morning, we woke up and went to the beach -

Pleasure Pier in Galveston

We hung out near Pleasure Pier, which has a Bubba Gump Shrimp Company and the little amusement park in the background of my photo. We headed back to the historic part of the town where our hotel was, checked out a shop there that was closed the night before (I got a couple souvenirs) and then headed back to the beach in bathing suits!

We headed to Corpus Christi after eating at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. (where I got another souvenir) The weather on the way to Corpus got dark and stormy, which was unfortunate because turns out, Hannah has crippling anxiety when it comes to bad weather... BUT, we made it safe and sound after a handful of detours.

We grabbed a drink in the hotel "bar" (this word is used loosely) and then went to Whataburger for a midnight snack. The next morning, we woke up and headed to the Texas State Aquarium, grabbed an authentic Mexican lunch, and then went to a really secluded beach that was beautiful and breezy. I got a bit of a sunburn... :(

Taken at the Texas State Aquarium

Wednesday morning we woke up and went back out to the beach - a different one this time, but still really pretty. It was a pretty big bummer of how many people throw their trash on the beach and just don't clean it up. I feel like a beach should always be a little big cleaner when you leave than when you got there. I guess cleaning up a beach for a summer really drilled that into my head. After the beach at Corpus, we headed to San Antonio... which is where we are now.

We checked out the Riverwalk, got some mexican food and then some mexican desserts - Tres Leches cake and Mexican Donuts. It was heavenly and indulgent and delicious. My waistline is not thanking me right now. We went out for drinks afterwards and then Hannah ended up drinking a little more than planned... which is why I am hanging out in the lobby of the Menger Hotel typing on my laptop.

Today, the plan is to get some barbecue at The County Line and then go to Sea World before heading back to Houston for the evening. Then we wake up tomorrow morning and head back to the Show-Me State!