Being Grateful: Forty-First Edition

Hello everyone! Are you all excited for a three day weekend? I am! We are visiting my parents as their anniversary is on the 3rd of September, and we’ll be taking them out to eat somewhere. We’re looking forward to trying some new (cheap!) places. We’re also hoping to hit up the beach or the pool. It’s gorgeous out!

Overall, I have a ton to be grateful for this week, so let’s get to it!

being grateful

FinCon, here I come!

I’m going to FinCon! Yes, very short notice. Why? That requires a little backstory.

FinCon was not on my radar at all in the beginning of the year. Long-time readers will remember R and I were waiting with baited breath to see if any positions were going to open up in our desired areas in April. That’s when he would be ready for a promotion. Until that happened, the rest of the year was uncertain.

Thankfully, everything worked out, and we moved mid-April. Then came the flurry of looking for an apartment, getting settled in, getting our cats settled in, and everything else.

Needless to say, FinCon was finally on my radar around June, but when I calculated what it would cost, my heart sunk. It would be pretty close to $1,000. I don’t churn credit cards since our expenses are pretty low and we can’t meet most of the bonuses, but I’ll be keeping it in mind for next time.

What to do?

R and I have not taken an actual vacation alone in the entire time we’ve been together. These past three years have seen some job changes, which meant we had to wait to earn vacation time.

It came down to prioritizing my freelance career or our desire for vacation. I decided to shelve FinCon. I couldn’t bring myself to spend so much just for three days. Not when I still have student loans, and was trying to get my freelance income going.

Fast forward to this week. I had been talking to a few inspirational bloggers (Cat, Kali, and Carrie) and realized I was seriously going to be missing out on a lot. I don’t think this is really “fear of missing out,” but now that I’m not anonymous, I feel like only good things can come from networking. I have the most horrible time hitting “send” on an email – why not throw myself out there at a conference? (I think that’s a win for pushing the boundaries!)

Being Grateful: 41st EditionCarrie sent me over a link to the ticket exchange, and I was able to grab an early bird ticket. I talked things over with R, and we decided to drive the 10 hours there, as opposed to flying ($650). I am now a bundle of nerves with excitement and anxiety =).

Things happen for a reason

What’s crazier is that I’ve been working with Cat on freelancing, and during our initial discussion, I had mentioned that I would like to try my hand at budget coaching. Magically, she had an old friend reach out to her the same day asking for help with her budget.

She referred her to me and I’ve been making it my mission to get everything worked out for her. This friend lives in New Orleans, so I told her I’d be over there for the conference if she wanted to meet up. Turns out, she had comp rooms at a hotel in the area, and gifted me two nights. I wanted to cry.

So I’ve just been incredibly grateful and overwhelmed at the kindness I’ve been shown from others this week. I tend to be a little cynical at times (after working with the public, who isn’t?), but instances like this restore my faith in humanity. There are amazing people in this world that will go out on a limb for you.

All this to say that I’m very glad I made the decision to put myself out there and connect with some other awesome bloggers. None of this would have happened if I hadn’t been taking small steps from the beginning. It’s so weird to think about what has to come together for something to happen.

If you’re going and want to meet up, feel free to email me! I still have no clue what workshops I want to attend or anything, so let me know what you’re going to!

Awesome boyfriend award alert

Of course, I must mention R in this post, because without him, this wouldn’t be possible. I am not a fan of driving, and R doesn’t mind getting us places, so he does most of the driving everywhere we go. I told him about my plans for the conference and he just said, “Okay. Whatever you decide, I’m sure I’ll be okay with.”

I have the most easy-going (and supportive) boyfriend ever, and have no clue how I’m going to make it up to him. He took the two days off, and we’ll be leaving around 4am on the 18th to make the trip down, and going back home Saturday night. I hope he’ll find some cool things to do while I’m at the conference! If anyone has any ideas, let me know =).

Also, I have to commend him for not freaking out last night. On our way down to my parents’, we came across three deer – one in the road. If that were me driving I would have lost it. Thankfully, it was in the opposite lane, but the fawns were still on the grass, and there’s no shoulder on the road. I’m really hoping they made it okay. They were so adorable!

Have any of you ordered business cards online? I’m looking for a website with reasonable prices and nice templates. So far I’ve only looked at Moo. 

Are you going to FinCon? In what ways are you grateful for your significant other (if you have one)? How about the blogging community?

The “I Can’t Afford It” Excuse

About a month ago, a new neighbor moved in across the street from my parents. His driveway is directly in line with the driveway of my parents’ next-door neighbors.

The "I Can't Afford It" ExcuseOne day while visiting, I was sitting at the kitchen table, and I watched in horror as this new neighbor backed his truck into the mailbox next-door. It was like it was happening in slow motion.

Unfortunately, this isn’t an unusual occurrence. Someone hit my parents’ mailbox a little while ago. The mailboxes are all the way at the curb, positioned a little weirdly, making it all too easy to hit them.

Even worse, you have to have a specific mailbox, it’s a community standard. Of course, they’re not cheap. They’re all metal, and it costs $200 to replace.

They’re also cemented into the ground, so you have to get someone to pour concrete and then stick the post in.

Hopefully you’re beginning to see how much of a hassle this is.

“I can’t afford to fix it…”

Which is why I was surprised when news came that he once again managed to hit their mailbox a few weeks ago. Pretty sure that was twice in less than a month!

As we were outside talking to the next-door neighbors, they were visibly upset. These are two of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and no one has seen them so mad before!

It turns out the first time the mailbox was damaged, they spoke to the new neighbor, and told him they would be willing to take $80 for repairs, a hefty discount from $200.

I can’t afford that,” the new neighbor replied, handing over only $60.

Being the nice people they are, they accepted that and walked away. But this time, there was going to be a price to pay.

They ended up filing a complaint with maintenance, and he’s being billed directly for the services. They don’t have to listen to his excuses.

Let me give you a brief overview of why I think this is a load of bull.

In the month he’s been here, this new neighbor has purchased:

  • Storage space for his boat as it’s not allowed in the driveway
  • A fancy golf cart
  • A scooter
  • He had a classic car delivered (I think he owned it, it just made the move separately)
  • 8 palm trees ($260/each, plus installation)

He also owns an adorable dog that he can’t be bothered to leash so I kind of want to steal her if she ever lands near my parents’ house. (Joking…maybe.)

All of this (and plenty more), and he has the nerve to tell them he can’t afford it?! Yeah, okay. If that’s truly the case, maybe you shouldn’t have gone out and purchased all that crap!

To be fair, everyone in their community is either retired or working toward it. Golf carts are all the rage down there, but I still don’t see why you would need 4 different vehicles to choose from (including his regular truck)…

In any case, everyone is very unhappy with this guy. You can’t really screw over super nice neighbors and get away with it. He should have owned up to his mistake, and paid for it. Or at least offered to pay the rest when he could. I just couldn’t believe he managed to hit the mailbox again so soon! Wouldn’t you be looking out for it?

That time I said I can’t afford it…

I have to admit, I am guilty of using this phrase too, albeit in a different way. I would never try to use it as an excuse to get out of paying for something that I rightfully should.

I do say it when I don’t want to buy something. That doesn’t really make sense, right? R had to correct me on this weeks ago.

“Let’s go out to eat!”

“No, we can’t afford it.”

“Yes we can, you just don’t want to spend the money.”

It made wonder why I always default to saying that. It’s true – technically, we can afford it, but I choose not to spend my money on certain things.

Sadly, I think it comes from so many years of my mom saying it. Any time we went shopping, and I wanted something: “We can’t afford it.” It was clear we were there to only get what was on the list, and nothing more. That phrase was beaten into my head, and I felt guilty ever asking for (or receiving) anything.

In my parent’s case, they really couldn’t afford to buy more. It wasn’t an excuse. They were living paycheck to paycheck and in debt.

Thus, the “we can’t afford it” mentality made its way into my head over the years. I am plagued by the feeling of not having enough, when in actuality, I do. I’m just haunted by what my parents went through.

It’s definitely part of a bigger problem (I have a rather unhealthy relationship with money), but I’m trying to address it piece by piece.

No longer will I say we can’t afford something (unless it’s a brand new car or a house; those are out of our reach right now!), but I will acknowledge that I’m not willing to spend my money on it because I have other priorities.

Truthfully, I felt a little ashamed once I stepped back and thought about it. By saying I couldn’t afford things, I was doing a disservice to those who are in a much worse situation than me. We have a decent amount of savings, I just don’t like to think about it since I don’t like parting with money. But it’s there if we seriously need it, so I need to stop acting like it would be a sin to spend.

By saying we have better things to spend our money on, I’m not inadvertently saying we’re “poor” and can’t go out, and that’s a step in the right direction for me.

Have you ever had someone pull the “I can’t afford it” excuse on you? Have you had false beliefs about your financial situation before, or used a phrase without thinking it through?

How Do You “Get in the Zone” for Work?

How do you get in the zone?In making the transition from working in an office atmosphere to, well, our apartment, I’ve been experimenting with different ways to “get in the zone.” I’ll share with you what I’ve tried so far, and then I’d love to hear how you guys get down to work!

In the apartment

My first setup was pretty much a failure, and doomed from the start. When we moved in, we mostly left everything in our living room as we weren’t sure how we wanted to arrange things right away.

Since we didn’t really feel like moving things back and forth after carrying everything up two flights of stairs, my desk remained in the living room. That was a recipe for disaster, as I couldn’t focus at all while R was in there watching TV. Plus, we kept talking to each other, and that was a distraction in and of itself.

A few weeks ago, we finally moved my desk into our second bedroom. I mean, that is the main reason we elected to get a 2-bedroom apartment!

I’m glad to say it’s been working far better in here. If I work at night while R is home, I can tune out the TV, as this bedroom is all the way on the other side of the apartment. As an added bonus, it gets the most sunlight out of any room for most of the day. I think that makes me even more productive!

The only thing I haven’t done is “make the space my own.” I’ve never actually decorated any of my office work spaces, either. I don’t have pictures of family or anything, and I work best at a desk that’s organized. I would like to put up some cute quotes, but our lease is vague as to whether or not hanging things is really allowed.

I still use my laptop, especially if I get tired of sitting at my desk. I like that I can take it with me anywhere. You can find me working on the couch, on a bar stool at the kitchen counter, or using a snack tray as a makeshift desk in the living room.

I did originally get my laptop for this purpose, and so that I can venture outside. Leading to the next point!

Do you have a dedicated work space in your home? How have you made it work for you?

Library, coffee shop, anywhere with free wifi?

When I was in college, I spent at least 80% of my time outside of class in the library. It definitely helped me get in the zone for studying, writing a paper, or just to relax and unwind from a strenuous class. Even though I lived a mere 5 minutes away, it was better than trying to study in my bedroom, which inevitably ended up with me falling asleep on my bed.

Truthfully, libraries have always felt like a second home for me. I’ve always loved reading, and I looked forward to weekly trips there.

But…I haven’t been blown away by the libraries here. I’m used to a gigantic library for one school district, and they have several libraries here scattered throughout the county. As a result, most of them are smaller, with less “private space” dedicated to working.

Cat zone

Her lazy zone…

That said, I’m still willing to give it a try. I’ve seen three of the libraries that are closest to us so far, and I’ll be trying out each of them in hopes of finding “my spot.” Thinking about going to the library gets me in the mindset of doing work.

As for coffee shops, I have to admit, I’m skeptical. I’d rather work in peace and quiet, as I have a hard time focusing when others around me are talking. If any of you prefer to work out of Starbucks, let me know how you make it work!

As a small sidenote, I’m also not keen on going to place where I kind of have to spend money to stay. Obviously it’s the right thing to do, but I’m not a huge coffee/tea person, so it’s money I wouldn’t normally be spending.

I can’t really think of any other places to work, except our clubhouse. They do offer free wifi, but I have to imagine there are a lot of people going in and out of there. Our clubhouse unfortunately doesn’t offer a separate “office space” with computers – it’s just an open space with tables that connects to the lobby.

Where do you do your best work?

Time is everything

Next up – I think it’s important to figure out what time works best for you for certain tasks. I can’t write a coherent blog post first thing in the morning, at all. I am not a morning person! I have tried, but lately it hasn’t worked out. I’ve adapted, sometimes working past 10pm. I know that’s better than 8am for me.

I don’t mind starting off my day commenting on other blogs, or reviewing emails. That I can do! But when it comes to writing anything of substance, I’m better off waiting an hour or so, until I stop feeling groggy. If any of you can wake up and bounce out of bed, let me know your secret, okay?

Working late can be detrimental, though. R usually gets home around 5:30pm, and instead of going running, he’s actually been waking up early and going before work. This can cut into our time together, and I end up feeling a little bad. I at least make time for us to eat together and chat, before going off to my “office” for the night. And of course, this isn’t an every day occurrence, but I’ve been guilty of working on the weekends, too.

What time do you do your best work?

Turning it over to you!

I want to hear from everyone – this doesn’t necessarily apply to those working from home.

Do you have a certain routine you go through in the morning before you sit down at work? At my past jobs, everyone liked to congregate where the coffee was. My personal routine mainly involved sorting through emails and prioritizing the day’s tasks.

Do you have a regular job, and a side gig? How do you juggle both? Do you prefer to wake up before work, or get work done when you come home (or both)?

Let me know how you “get in the zone” in the comments!