Being Grateful - 66th Edition

Being Grateful: Sixty-Sixth Edition

Being Grateful - 66th EditionWhew, try saying “sixty-sixth” 10 times fast!

This week went by so fast, and we pretty much have one week left in May. Earlier this week, my mom and I were talking about how the holidays will be here before we know it. Yikes.

We’re not going to dwell on that, though. The weather is too nice to think past summer.

This weekend we’re headed to my parents, although I’m a bit apprehensive. Besides being a holiday weekend, there’s also a big event being hosted in the area that was associated with some violent events last year. The news is already reporting on similar activity.

I’m just hoping we have a safe and not-so-traffic filled weekend, and I’ll be wishing the same for all of you!

What I’m Being Grateful For This Week

Well, it’s official – I’ve been blogging for 2 years now. That went by rather quickly!

I still remember setting my blog up back when I was living with my parents. I spent the entire weekend making sure everything looked perfect, and I was so nervous to put myself out there, even though I was anonymous.

Yep, it was only last year I “came out of the blogging closet” after deciding to focus on writing full-time. I used to just be “E.M.” So weird! (And for the record, I can’t say whether being anonymous or not really had a huge effect on things.)

I know I say it often, but I’m grateful for the support you all have shown over the last two years. Some bloggers have come and gone, but many of you still remain, and I’m grateful to have you as part of my journey here.

I’m also grateful for some fun I had with a friend yesterday. We were playing a video game and sharing amusing commentary while we were trying to make sure our team won. What I’m really grateful for is the fact he’s a much better player than I am. Takes some of the pressure off.

R and I completely forgot Memorial Day was this weekend, so we were pleasantly surprised to find out he had a three-day weekend. While it is a day of remembrance, I hope those of you who also have the day off get to enjoy it.

being grateful 66th edition cat
“What are you looking at?”

Lastly, I’m grateful for my crazy cat who poses ridiculously so I can take pictures of her and share them with you.

Writing Around the Web

6 Simple Things to Enjoy In Life: My post on Frugal Rules this week actually goes along quite well with being grateful, as it’s focused on enjoying the simple things in life. Just as we often don’t stop to think about the things we should be thankful for, we don’t spend a lot of time slowing down and focusing on the little joys in life. I know it sounds a little lame, but think about the usual things you do during your day. What’s better than that freshly brewed cup of coffee? Getting to sleep in, or take a nap? Or cuddling with your pet?

5 Financial Quotes to Live By: I featured 5 fantastic financial quotes on YAM this week, which many of you seemed to relate to. I don’t know about you guys, but I love a good quote. Even though I love writing, I’m not always eloquent enough to come up with something so fitting, and I’m glad there are thousands of quotes out there to reference. What’s your favorite quote?

7 Awesome Benefits of Traveling: I’m talking about traveling on Wherewithal this week. I’ve been mentioning it more and more as traveling is slowly becoming a goal of mine. Truthfully, I never thought I could afford traveling because growing up, it was out of the question. Any time we took a vacation somewhere, we drove. I didn’t get on a plane until I was 16. However, I’m seeing the possibilities now, and they’re pretty exciting. I wrote this as someone who hasn’t had the experience of traveling, but these are the benefits I’m looking forward to.

Posts I’m Grateful For

Why I’m Grateful for Morning Sickness: I have to start with this one from the Frugalwoods. I know they got a mention last week, but this fits so well with our theme of being grateful. I’m so elated for them as they’re expecting a baby girl this fall! However, the journey wasn’t easy for them, and Mrs. FW beautifully describes why she’s grateful for all the “downsides” of pregnancy because of what they had to go through to get there. I absolutely love the attitude she has here and her perspective.

Putting the Rat Race on Pause: Tonya and I seem to be on the same wavelength this week as her post harkens back to enjoying the simple things in life. I can identify all too well with working myself too much and not enjoying things as much as I should. This is a good reminder to do that!

How to Find Well-Paying Freelance Gigs By Avoiding Job Boards: Kayla’s post on Careful Cents is for those of you who want to break into side hustling, but aren’t sure how to go about it. I agree with all the advice Kayla’s offering here, and I’ve stayed away from job boards as well. Your network is worth a lot more!

What are you being grateful for this week? Have any plans for this weekend?

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After months of no longer budgeting, how do our finances look? You might be surprised to find that budgets aren't necessary for everyone.

Financial Update: Why I’m No Longer Budgeting

After months of no longer budgeting, how do our finances look? You might be surprised to find that budgets aren't necessary for everyone.Hello everyone! I know I mentioned talking about topics other than money in my update on Monday, but I do feel like I owe you all a little financial update.

I had previously been posting my monthly budget for quite some time, and I made the conscious decision to stop.

I also made the not-so-conscious decision to stop budgeting.

*Cue brakes squealing*

I promise, I didn’t fall off the personal finance bandwagon or anything. I’ll admit I got a little too busy to keep updating a spreadsheet. As much as I love crunching numbers, I didn’t have the luxury of time anymore.

But that wasn’t the only reason I stopped.

Let’s take a closer look at my decision to stop budgeting, and how it’s affected our finances.

I’ve Never Been For a Strict Budget

I have to put this out there – up until a year ago, I had never bothered to budget strictly before. However, after a few less than great months of spending after moving, I decided to change things up a bit.

I’m a fan of trying out different money management methods. Everyone needs to find what works for them. Budgets aren’t always a one-size-fits-all solution, nor should they be. We all have different situations that call for different things.

My goal with creating a budget was to simply get us back on track. While we did stay on track most months, we also noticed a decrease in our happiness.

What gives? I’m pretty frugal by nature and don’t really like spending my money.

Well, there’s the problem. I don’t want to spend my money. A budget reinforced that.

That’s not a healthy mindset to have.

Money is a Tool

It was then I realized money is a valuable tool. I always hated hearing the phrase, “You can’t take it with you!” Well, of course not, but that doesn’t mean we need to blow our money all the time, either.

Finding that balance is always difficult, but I think I managed to do it.

After realizing I was obsessing over the numbers in our budget a little way too much, I decided to scrap the spreadsheet.

Financially, we’ve been okay. This has always been the case, at least for me. I’ve never had a problem living within my means.

have had a problem with being okay spending money. It’s been dragging me down for a long time.

While I still have student loan debt, I’ve realized I’m not a huge fan of the all-or-nothing approach. I still pay extra toward my loans, but I need to make sure to say “yes” to myself once in a while, too.

At the beginning of the year, I decided to allow myself extra spending room only on certain things that really mattered to me (like travel), for the sake of my happiness. I’m glad to say it’s gone well so far.

Obsessing Isn’t Good

Getting nit-picky about the numbers isn’t good when it makes you lose sight of the big picture.

And the big picture looks fine. Maybe I wish it looked a little better (coughstudentloandebtcough), but don’t we always?

After a few months, I learned obsessing over our budget wasn’t getting us anywhere good. R was becoming annoyed because grocery shopping was a burden. I always insist on buying everything on sale, but sometimes, there aren’t any sales to be had on things we need. Do we just starve?

No, obviously not! While our cooking habits could be better, our grocery spending is pretty modest (around $300-$350) for two people (and R kinda counts as 2 people). We also barely ever go out to eat. I’m talking maybe once a month.

Not budgeting has allowed me to take a step back and realize it’s okay to go over “predetermined numbers” as long as we have the means to do so, and when it makes sense.

Our grocery spending hasn’t skyrocketed, though. Why? Because we’re still mindful about our purchases. We still do our best to clear out the freezer and pantry.

Not budgeting does not mean giving yourself permission to buy all the things. And I still think quite a few people benefit from keeping a budget. But is not budgeting going to kill us? No.

Again, we’re all different. I happen to agree with the Frugalwoods’ “autopilot” mindset because I’ve already conditioned myself to spend the least amount possible. I had never thought of it that way until I read about their approach to money management, and I love it!

How Do Our Finances Look?

I never shared income updates on the blog, and I’m not going to start. However, I will say I reached an income milestone in April. I made a decent chunk more than I ever made at my day job, and it feels incredible.

A year ago, I was making nothing. I’m overwhelmed by the progress I’ve been able to make in such a short time, considering things didn’t really start kicking off for me until after September.

R is chugging along as usual, and our spending hasn’t inflated. Since my income isn’t predictable, I always err on the side of caution.

It’s also been nice to allow ourselves to have some fun. I’m not counting pennies and taking an overly-critical view of every expense we have like I was before. And we’re still okay (we have a buffer in our checking account).

As a bonus, I looked through our auto policies last week and realized we could use less medical coverage since we both have coverage already. That saved us around $50 combined. We both got hefty tax refunds, R paid off one of his smaller student loans, and we had 2 months of low electric usage thanks to the nice weather we’ve had. All good things!

So if you’re a frugal person like me, try not to beat yourself up over the numbers. Your happiness matters, too, even if you don’t necessarily feel deprived. Stressing yourself out over dollars and cents isn’t good, and neither is giving your money too much control.

Do you follow a budget or a spending plan? How strict are you with it? Are you naturally out to spend the least amount possible? 

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The reasons I have for being grateful this week - 65th edition

Being Grateful: Sixty-Fifth Edition

The reasons I have for being grateful this week - 65th editionHello everyone! I hope you all had a great week.

The weather has been amazing here, although I know there’s been tornadoes reported in several states. Hopefully none of you are affected! Just the possibility of a tornado scares the crap out of me.

According to the Weather Channel, we’re supposed to see temperatures in the 90s already this week. The only reason I mention that is because I can finally be grateful for being cold most of the time.

Seriously, the AC will kick on at 78* in here, and I’ll grab a hoodie.

It doesn’t make winter fun, but it’s nice that it doesn’t take much for me to cool off in the summer.

What I’m Being Grateful For

So what else am I being grateful for?

Well, this week was relatively calm work-wise, or at least, calmer than it usually is. I’ve been trying to get caught up and work ahead on the weekends, even if it means sacrificing “free time” there. If I really wanted to, I could declare Tuesday and Wednesday a weekend, so it doesn’t bother me too much.

I’m grateful we’ve been doing more “bulk” grocery shopping. It’s not truly bulk in the sense of going to Costco, but I’ve been shopping with more than just one week in mind. I honestly hate going grocery shopping, so much so I’ve considered the delivery services, but frugality wins…for now.

In the meantime, if I can cut down the number of trips we take in the month, I’ll be happy.

On the plus side, not wanting to go grocery shopping means we scavenge for food in the apartment more, so barely anything goes to waste. We’ve also been doing well with having leftovers most nights. Yay!

I’m also grateful to my cousin as he somehow got a beta key for a game I was interested in playing. Of course, I haven’t yet made time to play it, but it was still pretty cool of him. R might also be able to play – we keep running into an issue where many of the free games I’ve been playing aren’t available for Mac. We only have my PC and Macbook Air to use, so yeah…

I can’t forget to be grateful for all the support shown in my last post! I’m so happy you all like the new design and are still interested in what I have to say. =) Stay tuned for Wednesday when I’ll be giving you all a much-needed financial update.

Writing Around the Web

I’m always grateful to those who have invited me to write for them. As an editor for two blogs, I know just how much easier (or harder) writers can make your job.

  • Wherewithal: How to Start Side Hustling in 4 Steps. This was actually a challenging post for me to write, because I had so much more to say. It’s almost impossible to give all the advice I have in one post. I tried to cut it down as much as possible, but if you’re thinking of starting a side hustle, it should give you a good idea how!
  • Frugal Rules: Why I’m Choosing Renting Over Buying. As some of you might know, I have no desire to own a home right now. The idea of having a mortgage and making that kind of commitment is scary at this point! The biggest thing, for me, is flexibility. I have no clue where I want to settle down, so it doesn’t make sense to buy. If you’re on the fence, I offer up a comparison between the two.
  • Young Adult Money: I actually didn’t have a post this week, so this one is older, but still relevant! I wrote about 5 experiences worth spending money on. If you’ve been reading personal finance articles, chances are, you’ve come across studies that say spending on experiences leads to greater happiness. I’ve personally found this to be true, and summer is a great time to spend on many of these!

Next, I want to feature some posts I was grateful to read:

  • Shannyn from Frugal Beautiful talks about how she got laid off and how she’s choosing to deal with it. She’s an amazing source of positivity and I encourage you to read her posts if you’re feeling a little down. Shannyn is a great example of someone who’s prepared, too – she has an emergency fund in place, and she’s decided to start freelancing again while fulfilling her dreams of travel. This is why it’s always good to have another source of income!
  • The Frugalwoods share the surprising benefits of not turning on the AC, which happens to be about more than just not wanting a higher electric bill. As always, I loved the thoughtful stance taken here. If it were up to me, our AC would be on far less, but we hit that nice “in-between” spot where we didn’t need the heat or AC a month and a half ago. If it weren’t for my allergies, I’d be more willing to let the breeze roll in, but alas…
  • Stefanie over at The Broke and Beautiful Life had me laughing with her post about making room for new spending priorities. I’m not at her age yet, but for the past year or so, I’ve also been finding grey hairs here and there. It’s never a happy occasion. I admit, I’m guilty of stressing myself out, which is something I need to work on, but like Stefanie, I’m not willing to get my hair professionally dyed for tons of money. However, I did splurge in January – a one-time thing – when I got my hair dyed to a redder shade and got a much-needed cut. My hair had never felt better, especially after neglecting it for a while. I’m okay with making it a twice a year thing.
  • Lastly, Melanie at Dear Debt wrote a thoughtful piece on why she doesn’t regret traveling even though she’s in debt. I’m biased here, because I love Melanie’s writing and I find we’re often on the same wavelength, but she has an important message to share. Working and “being on” all the time is simply not sustainable for most of us, and I’ve been discovering this the hard way. I can’t wait to see what Melanie’s plans are for the future, and traveling (alone) while taking advantage of the technical location independence I have is something that’s been on my mind.

What are you being grateful for this week?

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