Archive for the ‘finances’ Category

I Don’t Have Enough…

Disclaimer: yes, there are exceptions to today’s post. Instead of making that disclaimer over and over through the post, I’ll just say it here. But for most decisions that most of us make on most days, it’s all true.

“I don’t have time.”

“I can’t afford it.”

“I just don’t have the energy.”

Ever heard any of these? Ever uttered them yourself? Or perhaps their statement-partners: I wish I had more time/money/energy.

The truth is that we have enough for many things, just not enough for everything. And for the most part, we’re really bad at doling it out according to our priorities.

I was conversing with someone not long ago who complained that they really just didn’t have enough time to exercise. But they could tell me everything I wanted to know and then some about ten different TV shows. Impossible to have “no time” to exercise and be watching that much TV! Heck, go to the gym and walk on a treadmill while you watch it! “I can’t afford the gym.” Cut the cable and go to the gym for all of your shows — exercise taken care of, more money in hand, less butt-to-couch magnetism.

I digress.

We all have only 24 hours:

How is it that some people seem to do everything and some people can’t find time to do anything? Part of it is that people (in general) are not what they seem. There are people who think I do a whole lot more than I actually do.

But really, some people use their time better than others. Some people say they have priorities but don’t live by them. Others live by them (to a greater or lesser extent). What’s the most important thing in your life? How much time (and energy) to you give to it? Why?

Do you really want to spend four hours a day on the computer? Or watching TV? Letting the TV drain your brain for whatever time you’ve decided, because that’s what you do to relax, is all good. If you know you’re not going to get up after you sit down, make it happen at the end of the day (not the end of the work day). Or change your habit of flopping down and not getting up. I know one person who put the TV on a timer, so that at a certain time, it turned itself off. Not a bad idea.

In personal finance:

I read in a personal finance blog somewhere along the way a sentiment along these lines: You can have everything you want, you just can’t have it all at once. There are stories of married couples in their late 20s who have houses that are paid off. They worked two jobs, lived like they were still in college, threw everything extra at the mortgage and got it done. After that, they had more free time and more disposable income. But they couldn’t have disposable income and free time and a house and no mortgage from Day 1.

I have seen many people with all sorts of financial troubles buy all sorts of unnecessary things. I have certainly not always applied my financial wisdom to all situations, but I’m much better about it now than I used to be. And I’m aware of this tidbit that I picked up in a blog somewhere as well: you only get to spend each dollar once. Spend it on whatever you’d like, but it only passes through your wallet once.

I’m so tired…

If you’re really tired all the time, you either have a newborn ;), some sort of health condition or you’re not taking care of yourself (which I guess could be considered a health condition, but that’s not what I meant).

Newborn: sleep when they sleep. It’s true. You can get help with everything else. No one else can sleep for you.

Health condition: go to the doctor and see what can be done.

Everything else: if you eat a generally healthy diet, drink enough water (and little enough of most everything else), exercise regularly, get enough sleep, the energy will follow.

Once you get into the habit of exercising, a good workout will help you feel better on its own. Really. It’s one of those things that people don’t believe until they do it. In the last few weeks, I’ve heard it from three people who have recently learned this lesson themselves, and it excites me every time. Welcome to the side of the believers 😉

Sugar, refined carbs, and caffeine are energy-drains. You’ll feel better for a short while, but then you’ll feel worse than when you started. You’re better off without them.

As with the other pieces, it comes down to what’s important. Would you rather have a muffin for breakfast, bread with your lunch, cookies in the afternoon, a piece of candy as you walk by the dish, ice cream after dinner, or would you rather feel good and have more energy?

Want to do better but don’t know how? Here are two things that go hand-in-hand that might help you find your path.

1- Write everything down. Write down everything you spend money on. Everything. Including interest, penalties, fees, etc. Everything looks a little bit different when you see it on paper. (I’ve seen a suggestion to take your monthly expenses and color in one month of a calendar, indicating how many days’ pay go towards each expense. This is eye-opening. How many days’ work does it take for you to pay interest? Or for your lunches out? Or for your non-essential utilities? Not saying you shouldn’t have these things. Just make the decision that that is how you want to spend your money.)

For time, do a time audit. For a few days, every 15 minutes, write down how you spent the last 15 minutes. Just a few notes — you don’t want the entire notebook to say, “10 minutes, writing how I spent the last 15 minutes.” At the end of a day or two or three, look closely at how you’re spending your time — then change the parts you don’t like. Include in this what you’re ingesting and when you’re sitting, standing, moving, etc. and you’ve got all of your bases covered.

2- List and live by your priorities. I would love a smart phone. But there are many, many other things I’d rather spend money on than a smart phone bill every month. So I don’t have one. (Or a data plan.) It’s not a priority. Maybe it is for you. It doesn’t matter to me what your priorities are — just make them and stick by them … or they’re not really priorities.

That goes together with energy. Spend your energy on things that are important to you. I know I have gotten caught up spending a lot of energy being mad about something or someone at work. People and situations I don’t like are definitely NOT a priority, so why spend all that energy on them? For me, a good workout will calm most of that noise. I’m sure if I worked at it, I could become good at meditating which would be more practical when I’m still at work. A few deep breaths takes the edge off, as does the reminder that I don’t need to be angry.

You can’t do it all.

I have always been a person who has been spread thin. It took me until just a couple of years ago to say, “I’m not going to live my life under constant deadlines and high stress.” I learned to say no. The problem is/was that I am interested in a lot of things. Opportunities come up. I want to take them! (It’s not even often people asking me — it’s just stuff that’s out there that I want to do.) I learned to say no. My life became better.

And then I had a kid.

As it turns out, kids take a lot of time and energy. It is easy to let them become all-consuming. So my already-pared-down life has become more pared down. Some things I’m not cutting completely — just doing when I can make time without feeling stressed, and not feeling bad about not doing it more. Other things are gone. Other things are business as usual. (That last category is incredibly small and shrinking.)

So I don’t “do it all” — I can’t. But I still do a lot, and I do my best to be sure that the things I spend time on are things I really want to do (go to spin class) or really need to do (laundry, keep the kitchen tidy). The more you streamline to make your calendar and your priorities match, the happier your life becomes. I feel much better when I get up in the morning if the daytime part of the house is tidy. So at night before bed, either The Big Man or I (or both) will wash the dishes, wipe down the counter, and pick up The Kid’s toys. This little habit brings a little bit of peace to my mornings, it takes only 10-15 minutes at most, and is important to me. Might not be important to you.

Going back to where we started … Instead of saying “I don’t have money” or “I don’t have time,” say, “That’s not a priority right now.” It feels a little … weird. You’ll know right away if it’s true. You can feel it. If you want it to be a priority, do your best to make it so. If not, let it go — it’s just taking up space.

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Happy Birthday To Me!

It’s Nichol’s birthday and it’s Wednesday! Two for one!

So I’m 33 today. I’m having some emotional lability about that. Let’s do some pros and cons.

Pro – presents!
Con – single
Pro – cake!
Con – cake makes me fat
Pro – increased recognition that cake makes me fat
Con – I’m going to eat cake anyway
Pro – I’ll exercise more
Con – still single
Pro – still fabulous

Basically, I’m choosing to be happy and only minimally wallow because the pro list includes cake and presents.

There’s also the non-shallow pros. Which include all the accomplishments I’ve racked up since my 31st birthday (mini sprint tri, 5K, weight loss, healthy eating).

I’m actually okay with being 33. I think that if I hit 35 and I’m still single and in school and perpetually broke, I’ll let it affect me a little more but for now, I’m going to celebrate and just be thankful for my life and the many blessings I have reaped. Not just physically, but spiritually and emotionally.

The last two weeks have been intense, in reference to my well-being. In a totally good way, but totally intense. There has been a lot of reflection going on in this giant brain of mine.

Now, don’t be alarmed, but I took a day off. A real, honest to goodness day off. No P90, no running, no walking, no biking, no swimming. I slept 12 hours that night.

I have racked up 226 straight days of exercise. Well, it was 221 straight until my day off. I’m beginning to think that I might need a few more of those. Problem is, I had such intense feelings of guilt about it, it almost wasn’t worth it. However, if I’m not resting, my body can’t repair itself. I am currently always aching. Not in a worked out yesterday and I’m sore kind of ache, but a pretty constant, dull throbbing kind of feeling. Probably not a good thing.

I’m still thinking about it. I would have to get over the whole pride thing I have going on. When I make that decision, you will be the first to know.

In the meantime, I’m going to party like its 1979. I’ll see you peeps on the other side of 33.

New Goals

It’s Wednesday so Nichol is going to create new goals and a whole bunch of rules to go with them.

So I’ve decided to add to my life adventure. I’m always coming up with new things I think I should do. Some have been a struggle (mindful eating) and some have been a struggle but a success (mile a day).

And now my life transformation continues. I have three areas if my life I’ve yet to really work on that I am going to start taking care of. Let me share them with you.

1. Emotions
I have always been aware that I have mental/emotional issues that I’ve never addressed, as most, if not all, of us do. No real psychiatric stuff, just general things that come up here and there that I make jokes about or ignore. The first is my relationship with food. Although I eat healthy, I still have automatic mental and physical reactions when I’m upset. I want to eat. This is because when I’m “emotionally eating” I don’t have to think about my emotions. I have to get past that or it’s going to bite me in the butt someday. The second is just random family stuff, daddy issues, communication, etc… So I’m shopping for a therapist. I work in an office with about four of them, but it’s not really the same thing.

2. Finances
I suck at managing my money. Even when I’m not shopping, I still don’t seem to have enough. First stop is Financial Peace University with Dave Ramsey. I have a large number of friends who have been following Dave’s advice and I’ve read a lot about him, so I registered.

3. Smoking
This is going to be the hardest habit of all to kick. I am aiming for my 33rd birthday, but mistakes will be allowed until the end of this year. But I have a taper down method all ready to start on June 1st. I think this may be the most challenging thing I do.

I have also been dissatisfied with the slowness that the weight is coming off. I need to kick my mile up a notch, but at the same time start giving my legs a more significant rest period. I will be biking two days a week, slow walking one to two days a week, and running the other days. Running days will have breaks in between them but will gradually increase in distance, not counting warm-up and cool down. (I really like parameters. I’m like to be specific so I know what I expect.) I have made three specific categories on my iCal and will have to schedule these activities. Plus! The hiking will continue for at least one day a week. I count this as running. So for instance May 14 through May 20 will look like this:
Monday: run/walk (it was so hot) 1.25m
Tuesday: bike 30 minutes
Wednesday: hiking
Thursday: slow walk
Friday: run/walk 1.25
Saturday: bike 30 minutes
Sunday: run 1.25m

I’m crazy. You can say it.

Whew, Made It

Monday, Tuesday, Nichol, Thursday, Friday

I made it. After a pretty scary couple of weeks, I am feeling better than ever. I took a solitary weekend and vegetated. I read in bed, took two-hour naps, watched mindless TV, and played Xbox. It was amazing.

I just let everything get to me and I got really overwhelmed. I let go of my mottos (happiness is a choice, let go let God) and I couldn’t seem to get them back. I saw it coming and probably could have taken some preventative measures, but I have this undying need to do it all and make sure I know I have done anything and everything before I can relax.

That causes a lot of problems with my mental health. My job, my classes, the books and articles I read all stress self-care. I just have let that go.

Last Tuesday was a huge wakeup call. I had a moment at work where I was thinking, “I literally cannot stop crying. Someone is going to have to take me to the hospital.” Working with psychiatrically hospitalized adults, I know the signs. It’s my job to do crisis intervention and stabilization. I was too busy focusing on them; I forgot about me.

It wasn’t even just about work. It was this whole mess of crap that seemed to crash down at once. And some really trivial things. I was freaking out about money. My bills are paid. But I can’t buy pants…which I need. Literally need. I think my office might take up a collection, which would be awesome…

But I’m good now. Things have worked themselves out and I’ve let go of some things that needed to be let go of. For instance, I’m not willing to take out a $4000 personal loan for two summer school classes and I definitely don’t have the money for even one class. So…no summer school.

So next week, it’s back to health and wellness and mile talk. I just had a minor freak out and now I’m better. Just as I figured I had to be at some point.

Best part, I still mile-d everyday!

Give A Penny, Take A Penny

Hello!

I have a recipe for you tomorrow and will be back to regular posting on Monday, but today I’m writing on behalf of a few others.

There are three folks I know of who are in unfortunate circumstances. I want to give you a little synopsis about them, and provide the opportunity for you to read more and donate to any of their causes.

Vanessa: for her daughter

Vanessa’s daughter was born with hydrocephalus which resulted in cerebral palsy and blindness. (I did some googling when I first heard that, too.) She has been accepted into a stem cell transplant program and is raising money for the trip and procedures. (For those wary of stem cells, these are harvested from umbilical cord blood.)

To learn more about their journey and to make a donation, go here.

Jonathan: for his late teammate’s wife and kids

Jonathan has become interested in endurance sports — triathlon, to be specific — in the last couple of years. As part of his training, has participated in shorter events, including the Philadelphia marathon in November. During that race, Chris, a friend and Ironman teammate died a quarter of a mile before the finish line.

Jonathan and his friend Paul are having a “Battle of Broad Street” — a “may the best man win” competition full of trash talk in this weekend’s Broad Street Run. The write-up in the local paper is here.

You can go to http://fundly.com/battleofbroadstreet to “bet” on Jonathan or Paul. All proceeds go to Chris’s wife and children.

Michelle: for her cancer treatments

Michelle is a friend who guest posted here a couple of months ago for Colon Cancer Awareness Month. She is a tireless advocate for cancer awareness, detection, and prevention for both colon cancer and cancer in the young adult community. Her cancer was in remission for four years.

Ironically, during Colon Cancer Awareness Month, Michelle’s cancer returned in new places. Contemporary American health insurance what it is, medical bills are a concern.

For more information and to help Michelle and her family take care of their medical bills, there is a donation page here.

Wow… How depressing

Wednesday in Spanish is el dia de Nichol.

I have been feeling so sucky. Not in a sick way, but in a life sucks and people suck and being broke sucks and I’m sucky and fat.

Now, if you have been following along with me, or if you know me personally, I don’t really believe life sucks (usually), or that people suck (most of them don’t suck), can’t argue with being broke, and I definitely don’t think I’m sucky, and I don’t call myself fat. I call myself “fat in transition.”

But the past week I have been struggling like crazy. Crying in front of people who are not my sisters. Crying in front of people who generally only see me cry once in every six months. I’m just bummed.

It’s a whole mess of things that if I listed here, would exceed the blog’s limit for infinity. I know it’s just a blip, I’ve been here before but this has been a little harder to get out of. I think because it’s more than how I look that’s bringing me down. It’s my job. It’s my lack of money. It’s exhaustion.

On Saturday, I had a really scary moment and I could see myself tiptoeing back to the mouth of the rabbit hole. When I say it like that, it sounds like I’m about to start shooting up again. But that’s what it feels like. I’m referring to food. Before I started this whole process, I was addicted to fast food. I ate it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If it wasn’t fast food, it was Doritos, ramen, Mac and cheese… Anything. It just made things better when I was eating it. And it was a freaking hard habit to kick.

I was hungry on Saturday. I went to get something to eat. I pulled into the parking lot of a plaza near my house and came to a fork in the road. Right was Filiberto’s, left was Sprouts. That was one of the hardest choices I’ve had to make in a long while. I turned left.

The other day at work, I ate pizza. Two slices. I wanted a third. The only thing that stopped me was that I didn’t pay for it and I felt guilty.

Food is my addiction. I recognize the triggers, but sometimes it is so hard to ignore that voice that’s telling me that it would be okay to have a six-piece McNugget. No harm in a Taco Bell taco.

I know that this will pass. And I always tell myself, right before I go to sleep, that tomorrow will be better. But I’m struggling this week. Probably more than I’ve struggled in the past 22 months. I know I’ve just got to keep pushing on because I have an issue with not completing something I’ve started, no matter what the cost.

Update on other life things…

It’s Wednesday, aka: Nichol’s blog post day.

I don’t have too much going on right now. I’m trying to figure out how to pay for summer school. That’s been pretty stressful. Side note: does anyone have about $4000 spare dollars I can borrow?

I have been relying too much on walking, so I’ve put some restrictions on that. I am now only allowed to leisurely walk a mile once a week when not in school, and twice a week when I am in school. And each day that I walk, I have to walk at least 20 minutes longer than the previous walk. I haven’t had to use it yet, so I’ll keep you posted.

Work is stressful. That’s really all I have to say about that. I am literally filling two positions right now and I’m wearing down. Guaranteed there will be a mental health day within the first week of May (that’s when my sick time refreshes).

Everything else is good. I’m feeling pretty good. I did have to have an EKG on Tuesday morning and I’ll know by the end of the week if I have to go see a cardiologist. On a related note, does anyone have $1,000,000 they can contribute to my HSA?

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