H.K. is a little upset with me. She doesn’t really want me to be her campaign manager anymore. Fortunately for me, her other top candidate, Boyfriend, has expressed zero interest in the position. 

H.K.’s eyes have been a little watery lately, and this weekend I noticed one of her back paw pads looked cracked, so I took her to the vet. Which she throughly enjoyed (or not). Turns out she has an infection, and for the sake of her campaign, we’re going to leave it at that for now (those dogged paparazzi will probably dig it up from one of her interns). So now she receives eye drops every eight hours and a edible medication twice a day, which even though it smells like fish, she completely hates. I would probably fire my campaign manager too, if I was in her paws. 

Grand total for the vet visit, medication and flea preventative (for good measure): $212.13. My father has been known to say “cats are cheap.” That may still be true, but vet bills are not.

  1. So far, I have spent $54.61 on groceries in the first ten days of the month. I have eaten very, very well, especially last night when we had friends over for dinner and I made a bean salad, quesadillas and stuffed jalapenos. Fortunately there is a ton of the delicious bean salad left, so that will be lunches this week.
  2. I had derby on Monday and Thursday, ran on Tuesday and Sunday, walked on Friday, so I made my exercise goal for this week at least.
  3. Writing every other day didn’t really happen in the middle of the week. I posted a blog on Sunday, wrote a little on Tuesday, wrote on Friday, Saturday and today. So I guess I only really missed Wed/Thurs.
  4. Saving is on track, though right now my spending outranks my income. It’s early in the month. Rent and taxes have been taken care of. I finally bought plane tickets for H’s wedding in October, which I half-count as spending and half-don’t because I’d already set aside the money for these tickets, so I don’t really feel like it should count against my goals.
  5. Updated the tabulation today. Somehow I am missing 54 cents. I’m going to have to check my car.

It’s very tempting to online window-shop, but pretty unproductive. I see dresses and pants that I want to buy, but don’t actually need, so it makes me feel dissatisfied and distracts from my actual goals (saving $417 – $1,000 per month). So I’m trying to avoid it. It’s also time wasted when I could be writing or playing with H.K. But it is a struggle.

This afternoon I’m volunteering with G.S. then a friend and I are grabbing dinner and seeing a movie. I anticipate spending a little bit of money, but I also have a gift card from one of my aunts that has just been hanging around, so I’ll probably make use of it to lessen my costs.

What do you do an hour before people come over for dinner? Maybe tidy up? Start prepping the meal? How about cut your own hair for the first time?

Oh yeah. It finally happened. I gave myself a haircut.

Photo on 2014-08-09 at 17.55

This is the before shot. Crazy eyes for crazy ends.

Now, first, I think I should make a confession. My sister used to cut her own hair in college and I feel like I probably gave her a little bit of a hard time about that at least once. What can I say? Sorry sis, I have a problem with conformity (as in sometimes I am a conformist).

Do you know what’s awesome? Cutting your own hair.

For one thing, it was super easy, at least for a low maintenance boring haircut like I have. I followed these two guides. And mostly, I just did it. The first cut was the hardest, but once you’ve started, there’s really no turning back and then it is fun.  Unlike the last time I gave myself a haircut (I guess this is the second confession of the post) when I was nine (or ten? or twelve?) I was able to stop before I cut all of my hair off.

You can’t really see it in the pictures, but I also trimmed the layers near my face. Then it got a little tempting to keep going… and going… and I stopped before it got that far. Whew!

Photo on 2014-08-09 at 18.11

The aftermath. It kind of looks like maybe I just brushed it?

Cutting my own hair feels frugal, though really I spent $16 on the shears, so it probably hasn’t paid for itself quite yet. But it also feels pretty rebellious and independent. No, I don’t need some professional to do for me what I can do for myself.

And honestly, I don’t need a super fancy haircut (though having someone else wash my hair is basically the most luxurious thing I can imagine) because I’m not a super fancy person. I mean, I barely wash my hair. I just need for my hair to feel good when I run my fingers through it and for my brush not to catch on all of the frayed ends. I can accomplish those goals myself.

That feels pretty awesome.

 

Well I guess my dreams of the Tour de France are now on hold, along with my more closely held dreams of biking to work. 

This morning (at 5:20 am, I know because I checked) Boyfriend and I woke up to someone stealing our bike. I actually woke up to Boyfriend yelling at someone who stole our bike as they ran down our stairs and biked away. He says it was a girl, though he didn’t get a good look at her, except from the back, and he says she was wearing perfume. 

Elizabeth Peabody style, this shocking event has raised a lot of questions, which I will now list:

  1. When you’re a punk ass kid who steals someone bike at 5:20 in the morning (5:15 possible start of the robbery?), have you been up all night or do you wake up early for the thievery?
  2. Which was more valuable, the bike stolen or the tool used to cut the lock? Joke’s on you, sucker. I’m actually a little impressed that the gears didn’t lock up on you as you rode away. 
  3. Where is Bikey now? Has Bikey already been abandoned? 
  4. What would I have done if I had been the one to discover this blatant violation of human decency and civil law, instead of sleeping peacefully in my bed? As soon as I realized what was happening (too late, unfortunately), I immediately imagined racing after the thief down the stairs and tackling them into our landlord’s rosemary bushes, then giving her a serious lecture between punches. I also imagined confronting her in the act of cutting our lock, blocking her way of escape down our stairs. Then I imagined a knife fight, which is probably not what would have happened (but possibly). 
  5. Did Hillary Kitten alert Boyfriend to this emergency? Is she a guard cat? (Answer is probably no, will ask Boyfriend after he wakes up (he has gone back to bed)). 
  6. Who are her accomplices? 

It should be mentioned that when I say “our bike” or “our lock,” that it was actually Boyfriend’s bike and Boyfriend’s lock. It was Boyfriend’s bike, but my dream. I had no ownership of the bike, except the ownership of affection. I liked that bike. I rode that bike every day last summer to GS camp. Just the night before (I swear) I thought about asking one of our friends, who is coming to dinner on Saturday, to bring some bike tools so we could fiddle around with Bikey and get it ready for commuting. I suppose it is better that this punk ass kid stole it before I invested more time, energy, love and money into it. I suppose it is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all. Good luck, Bikey. 

  • Spend less than $150 on groceries (not including alcohol)
  • Exercise 5 days a week
  • Write at least every other day
  • Save at least $417
  • Keep my monthly tabulation up to date by updating my spreadsheet on at least a weekly basis

That should be enough, right? But once my brain starts thinking of goals, it can be hard to stop.

I guess I have one more. I went for a walk with a friend this afternoon, which was so good. I missed our walks, but work and vacations and family time have been interceding. On this walk we talked about how important it is to have fun. It’s easy to have fun on vacation–kayaking, drinking beer, sleeping until whenever, reading whatever seems appealing at the time, but it’s much harder in “real life” when there’s work to do, dishes to wash, spreadsheets to update, kittens to play with–oh, wait. That last one is fun.

So this month, I resolve to do something fun at least once a week. Something I really think is fun, not something I think I should enjoy or probably would enjoy, or do all the time anyway. Something really fun, like walking around a new neighborhood or seeing a movie or going to the beach. Add that to the list.

 

I revamped some of my spending categories this month. They felt cumbersome and seldom used. Do I take public transit so often that it needs to be its own line? Unfortunately no. Do I really need to differentiate trips to the doctor, dentist and optometrist? Given that I basically never see them, no.

The categories feel a little lighter now, a little more accurate. And Hillary Kitten has her own category, which is good because after rent, she’s probably the biggest expense this month (it’s that cat tree, you guys).

I still ended the month with income above expenses ($3,044.15 to $2,671.95 if you want to know) but it’s a far cry from my best months when my expenses were below a thousand. In almost all major areas (except Hillary Kitten’s category), I felt I hadn’t received fulfillment, satisfaction and value in proportion to life energy (aka money) spent.

Some major spending this month:
Groceries – $293. This does not include other food like restaurants, or coffee shops, but it does probably include some alcohol since I didn’t really separate my receipts. Still, way high relative to previous months.

Gas – $165. Probably actually not extraordinarily high, but I really hate buying gas.

Rent/Joint Account – $595. Boyfriend and I pay $900 total in rent, so I’m actually dropping a fair amount extra into this category, which also covers our utilities (never more than $100 a month). We’ve started using it for going out to eat or to pay for joint house purchases. But I think mostly it just accumulates.

The cat tree – $345. Hillary Kitten’s beautiful cat tree. It’s expensive, but she enjoys it and it looks way better than the carpet covered ones. A one time durable expense I can live with (though yes, I am a little embarrassed by the number).

Derby Equipment – $182. I bought a new bag, some new tights, new wrist guards and elbow pads, etc. this month. I’m really pleased with the bag and the gear was a long time coming. That said, I’m feeling low when it comes to derby lately (not that I’ve been to practice in a week or so), so the money adds to that dissatisfaction/melancholy.

I didn’t put any money toward my car this month and I didn’t put anything toward H.’s wedding. In fact, I just bought plane tickets so my H’s wedding pot is about to decrease. I guess this is what it’s there for.

When I was on vacation last week, I pondered what it would be like to be on vacation all of the time, financial independence basically, a common fantasy in my world. But I started playing around with the calculations, and realized, “hey! I could save $25,000 in five years if I just put aside $417 a month!” Which, I realize is not enough to retire on, but it would be $25,000 more than I’d have otherwise.

With this little financial goal (because $417 should not be hard to save with what I’m bringing in each month) I perked right up again about YMOYL and frugality and all the good stuff. Suddenly, it seems worthwhile and productive again to track my spending and keep it in line.

I talked to Boyfriend about it, and he had a radical suggestion. Why stop at $417? Why not make it $1,000? Which really sent my mind racing. Saving $1,000 a month would be a big stretch goal, definitely requiring some belt tightening (which my nurse practioner suggested anyway, ugh) but it would be wildly exciting at the same time.

$417 seems easy, in my sleep easy. $1,000 seems like climbing a fourteener hard–doable with the right equipment if you’re in reasonable health and the weather holds, but a little bit intimidating. So what will probably happen is something in between. Which is better than nothing.

Today I really wanted to go to my new favorite coffee shop, Krakatoa. I was hoping to go work there for awhile, but by the time I finished up at the office, it made more sense to just go home. Boyfriend had bought some muffins and I made a pot of tea, so theoretically it was the same thing… but it wasn’t. It was the frugal-pretty-good-not-quite-as-good alternative. 

Since it’s the last day of July and I know I need to balance my accounts now, I deposited a couple of last minute checks this afternoon, which led me past the bar across the street. So of course, since I wasn’t going to my favorite coffee shop, I wanted to go inside and have a glass of wine and a sandwich. I even saw one of my friends inside working! 

I resisted. I went home and kept working at my dining table, which is pretty great as far as dining tables go. When I finished working, I switched to looking at clothes online. There’s some nice stuff out there! Pretty dresses, adorable shoes, practical pants–stuff I could buy since I just deposited two checks (conveniently ignoring the bills that are literally piled up next to me). 

Still I resisted, kind of. I finally bought a new pair of glasses to replace the ones I had in high school (several prescriptions out of date). They were $95 and should get here in a couple of weeks. It was probably unnecessary; I’d been getting by without new glasses for the past eight years. Somehow glasses are harder to justify than a sandwich or a cup of coffee. 

I also wrote a check to my grandma for my car. Not a big check, smaller than I was hoping, but I still wrote it. $100 closer to paying off the car. 

I’m not paying the other bills sitting beside me yet. I’m waiting until tomorrow so that I can count them as part of August’s bills instead of July’s. I play these games with myself. But in case you were wondering, one is a $75 bill for my renter’s insurance and the other is my DMV renewal fee, $107. Theoretically, I might be able to write that off on my taxes if I ever figured out what an independent contractor can deduct. 

Not to mention the new tires I probably need to buy since I think mine are probably what my parents would call “bald.” I think they only have a receding hairline. It also doesn’t include the plane ticket’s home to H.’s wedding that I still need to purchase. Orr the check I still haven’t sent to H for the dress. 

I still want a sandwich or a glass of wine. I still have half an hour before Krakatoa closes. I know that Boyfriend and I are going out tomorrow, but that doesn’t really make a difference. Or that I’ll probably go out for happy hour with some friends next week. The money still wants to be spent. 

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