Frozen 2: My Bank Account

What would you do if you couldn’t spend any money? On just about anything? What if it was no lattes, no nights out with friends, no new gadgets or clothes or magazines? How would you feel?

“No” became my word of the month in June, because I went on a month long spending freeze.

Now, before you panic, know that there were guidelines to this freeze. I didn’t starve myself, or refuse to pay my insurance bill. Originally, I got the idea from Living Well, Spending Less, who developed a nifty little rules sheet. On mine, I promised not to buy fast food, but also promised that I could make a couple exceptions to spend a little cash.

I documented my thoughts for the first couple of weeks, when the freeze was the hardest:

WEEK ONE
– Friends have been told. They think it’s a noble venture, but WILL NOT stop asking when we could go see a movie or go shopping
– I’m starting to go crazy. I’ve made a list of all the things I would buy if my assets weren’t frozen.
– Thank my lucky stars that I’.m well stocked with food & beauty products…I should be okay, right?
– My weekend was spent focusing more on goal setting and being production rather than spent on shopping.
– In lieu of a spa trip, I’m trying a little DIY TLC.

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Ahh – a {free} day spent at the beach with a {free} library book was just what I needed!

WEEK TWO
– Friends are persistently trying to buy me things, so that I can partake in whatever they want to do.
– It has gotten easier not to go out and spend money!
– Has made me realize how much I drop on little things – Starbucks here, piece of clothing there.
– Made a Goodwill drop of clothes that haven’t fit me for a while.
– Still difficult to go out to stores, but the words “spending freeze” make me feel better – means there is no leeway when it comes to spending.
– Instead, I make “wish lists” of things I think I’d like to buy at a later date. Most of the things I don’t even remember afterwards. Thus, not necessary.
– I’m thinking up fun free things to do – went hiking with a group, went to the beach.
– Used up my one exception for mani pedis, had a great time catching up with friends!

As the month went on, it got way easier to not want to spend money. My friends were persistent until the end, though – I think my lack of spending was a) boring to them, since we couldn’t go out and do things that required $$, and b) scary in some ways because some of them make weekly Target trips as a rule.

I estimate that the freeze saved me around $100, if not more, and I look forward to incorporating it as a yearly tradition. Why torture myself like this? Because I never realized how the little things I was purchasing were adding up, causing me to go over budget every month. When the very idea of spending some moolah was taken completely away, I was forced to rethink my leisure time and horde of material possessions (you’re welcome, Goodwill!).

Now, when I shop, I’m extra careful to prioritize my purchases and plan them out ahead of time. I use coupons whenever I can, and keep an eye on my budget like a hawk. I want to be out enjoying life, not worrying about my spending habits 😉

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Love the One You Travel With

Last weekend, I finally got my life together enough to go on a long weekend trip to San Francisco with my friend S, and we had a blast! It was her first time there, and my first time getting to do all of the fun touristy stuff. We spent the six hour drive singing along to our favorite pop music, were enraptured by the Golden Gate in all of its foggy wonder, and unwittingly were caught up in a disastrous firecracker lighting ceremony that left us simultaneously laughing and coughing our lungs up.

I wasn't kidding about that fog

I wasn’t kidding about that fog

As I’ve mentioned previously, S is my current bunkmate, and we’ve also done some world traveling together. This past weekend went along so smoothly, though, it got me to wondering why we’re so good traveling together, and what lessons I can take from roughing it with her to apply to adventuring with others.

1). We are aware of and respect each other’s strengths and weaknesses. I am terrible with maps, but I am excellent at solidifying plans and making itineraries. S is amazing with directions, but sometimes lacks the foresight to see things through. We know these things about each other, and are accepting of them. Thus, I never try to plot our route without consulting her, and she lets me take the lead in making hotel reservations.

2). We are very go with the flow. I had really, really wanted to climb Coit Tower while we were in the city, and S was hell-bent on an Alcatraz tour. Sadly, Alcatraz had booked up weeks before we had even imagined ourselves visiting, and Coit Tower closed earlier than we were expecting. Rather than pout about it, we turned our extra time and money into an excellent seaside lunch and tour that involved taking a boat out underneath the Golden Gate and around Alcatraz. It was just as good, if not even more exciting, and at the end of the day our change in plans gave us more to do during our next trip there.

3). We are honest about how we’re feeling. Sunday night was supposed to be our fun night of dressing up and bar-hopping, but after a very full day of sightseeing, I was exhausted to my core. I was nervous to admit this to S, because I didn’t want to ruin the evening, but I could barely keep my eyes open in the cab ride over to the Mission district. Turns out, she was really tired too, and we ended up having a quiet movie night back at our AirBnb.

4). We make time for each other’s interests. I don’t think I could name a single Grateful Dead song to save my life, but S wanted to drop by an old house they had lived in, to honor her Uncle’s love of the group. So we made time for it. After all, she had accompanied me on a random detour into a cool glasses shop, where I spent about an hour and a half picking out a new pair. We realized that the trip was for both of us, and that it was important to honor the things each other was interested in.

5). We had an agreed upon plan for money. I wouldn’t say either of us is miserly, but we are still recent graduates trying to get by on minimal wages. Before we even left, we sat down to discuss how much we were each willing to spend (I wanted to keep my entire portion of the trip to $250), how we were going to pay for gas, etc. This way, there were no hard feelings when stopping at the gas station, or when I ate a breakfast I’d packed from home, rather than eating out. Nothing is more painful or awkward than trying to figure out money issues in the heat of the moment.

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Keeping that paper

As any person can admit, money and time are always fleeing. Be it we never have enough time or money to do anything. Sadly, the later has been always been my struggle.

2014 was a great year for my finances. I met with a financial adviser; whose sole advice was to focus on my student loans. (A huge blow to my investment and travel dreams) Through this meeting, I was able to finally understand the in’s and out’s of my cash flow. My struggle was {and still is} making sure that my “in’s” balanced out my “out’s”.

I turned to my good friend, Excel. I graphed my way into a full understanding of my debts and savings. I even mapped out how 2014 should be spent-financially speaking. With all of that said and done, I still find myself going over budget. How can you have a plan when the future is so unpredictable?

In times like these, I turn to my most trusted advisor, my yoda, my big sister. With only 1 more year of life experience than myself, she always seems to have a better grip on this adulthood thing. After numerous failed debit and credit card experiences, she holds true to the basic of all budgeting tools: cash.

Cash has always been a tricky concept for me to grasp with. The way I see it, if the cash has left the bank it is already spent. Translation: I go into a black out state and never seem to remember what I spent the cash on, making it spent before I buy anything. There is the problem-I rely too heavily on electronic documentation than take responsibility of where my money is going.

So with the advisement of my yoda, I plan to take my budget and turn it into cash. I plan to pay with cash in order to track and manage my money. Here are is my tool of choice:

Untitled design (7)This beautiful filing system will force me to take responsibility and ownership of where my money goes each week. I plan to budget out food, gas, fun, and Starbucks. (I will phase this out little by little)

Jess (2)

Poppin’ some tags

Aubrey and I are frequent flyers when it comes to figuring out what to do next. Socially, professionally, health-wise, sanity-wise, we can’t get enough of figuring out the next best thing. I guess this blog is working, right? 

More often than not, I am looking to do something new and then I am immediately stopped by my looming pile of bills. The struggle is unnaturally real. So this week we decided to put one of our ideas to the test. The $20 challenge is our way of seeing how far we can stretch good ol’ Thomas Jefferson to help us experience something great. Specifically this week, our goal is create a “look” for only $20 only using re-purposed, recycled, or reclaimed items.

You can expect my look to be inspired by this:

Happy Hunting!

Jess (2)