May was less expensive than expected!
As yall remember from April’s update, I had some dental work on deck this month that was supposed to be VERY expensive. Fortunately, my dentist didn’t have to do a full bridge replacement; he was able to repair the original bridge so that it is no longer loose! I have to return for a few touch-ups (because I am personally a perfectionist), but it’s going to be WAY less expensive than anticipated. Like total billed to insurance was $470 I think, and I’ll only have to pay about $300 of it. I was truly thinking almost $2,000 excluding flights. So that was a major money win!
The visit home for the dentist coincided with a visit to see my mom for Mother’s Day, which was extra special this year given her cancer diagnosis. She had a broken bone while I was there due to the chemo weakening her bones and it kept her mostly lying down, but otherwise she was feeling great! My allergies attacked me to the point of uselessness, so we watched a lot of movies and napped all day on Saturday on the two big living room couches. It was relaxing and fun (besides the Monday morning dental procedure). Looking forward to visiting her again in a few weeks for the next dental procedure.
My desk in my room is now workable for blogging, and I’ve been trying to organize my bedroom space. It’s hard because I need a couple of furniture pieces and I need to sell the rug I bought (and hate) earlier in the spring. I did buy a good number of spring pieces at J.Crew before Paris, but overall, I’ve done REALLY well with clothes shopping in 2019.
Anyway, on to the Goals Updates for May (I did *pretty* well!)
1) Spend less money & repay most of the consumer debt
Aside from food, I spent almost NO money in Paris! I’ll do a full breakdown of the trip soon, but I did really well with spending there too and I’m proud of myself for it :)
I made a big dent in my consumer debt this month, but I did transfer some savings to do it because (A) I had a large payment due and I would have had to incur interest if I didn’t pay it and (B) a good portion of the charges were from my tooth emergency and/or one-time expenses. Not exactly thrilled to have cut my EF in ~half, but I’ve got transfers set to replace everything in the next couple of months (in addition to keeping my regularly-scheduled transfers).
Last month I also changed my W4 allowances because apparently I have had 0 withholdings since I got this job 2017 (single taxpayers usually have 1-2 allowances). That’s crazy! Each paycheck is now ~$100 more, which means I’ve freed up ~$200/mo for reducing that consumer debt.
Reducing my dining, grocery, travel and shpping expenses.
This month was a travel month, so I ate at restaurants more often than usual. My house is also under renovation and the kitchen doesn’t exist. I’ve gotten stovetop burners and plan to get a toaster/convection oven as well, but getting the makeshift kitchen set up has been A Task. That has also led to a bit more eating out than usual. Which is frustrating since I know the renovation is going to take longer than scheduled and it’s highly disruptive not to have a kitchen (a good reminder that not everyone has a functioning kitchen, particularly those also trying to survive on $2/day for their food, which Frugality & Freedom wrote about recently).
Accept all somewhat reasonable Poshmark offers.
The sale I lost last month happened this month, and I actually got more for the item than the offer I lost! Woohoo! I haven’t sold anything since and in the past month or so, I’ve discovered that many of my items are not in my box of Poshmark clothes. When I moved, my roommate and I gave a few boxes of clothes away and I think a box of Poshmark-listed items got donated by mistake (or possibly thrown away at my old apartment).
This is a huge bummer because people tried to buy a couple of these items and it would have been nice to have the money…plus not knowing where it all went just drives me crazy. So unfortunately, I’ve been removing listings this month and need to dig through my Poshmark box again to confirm everything that is listed is in my possession.
(2) Build the blog (including monetization)
I’ve gotten a few posts out and if you missed my Instagram announcement, e-mail subscribers will be receiving a template Mandatory Arbitration Rejection Letter. Chase recently updated its credit card and account terms to require arbitration in the event of any dispute (they sue you OR you sue them), but it offers the option to reject mandatory arbitration by sending a letter to a certain address. If you have Chase accounts, you probably got an email about it.
Mandatory arbitration means that you are agreeing to settle any legal disputes in arbitration rather than in court with a judge and/or jury. It prevents you from joining class action lawsuits and arbitration decisions are almost always non-appealable. These are, in my opinion, bad things for the average consumer (P.S. I am a lawyer, but I am not giving you legal advice and I am not your lawyer. Read my full disclosure HERE).
Anyway, I rejected the mandatory arbitration for my student loan refinance and I’m going to rejected the mandatory arbitration for my Chase accounts. Followers on Instagram voted that they’d love a copy of my letter in template form to use to reject their own mandatory arbitration clauses, so if you are a subscriber, it will be coming your way this week!
If you aren’t a subscriber and you want this letter, subscribe, BBs!
(3) 50 Blog Posts
This is post 12, so I’m not quite 50% behind, but getting there. Oh well. Do what you can and keep moving forward, right? Getting close is better than giving up because making it feels too difficult.
(4) 30 Minutes of Productive Screentime Daily
I’ve been good about screentime this month! Almost completed Givling every day (travel always screws up consistent clicking on stupid ad videos to help people repay their loans…), and I’ve moved up in the Queue a few hundred spots. Hopefully I’ll hit a Queue spot milestone in the next month!
As I mentioned last month, Duolingo put me in some kind of competitive league that advances on a weekly basis, so I’ve done SO much more French in the past couple of months. I even pulled out my old French grammar book. People on Twitter gave me a few good suggestions for beefing up my French skills (one good friend told me the best way to get fluent is to move somewhere and like, ok #goals, but not really an option ATM).
I’m going to be implementing some other screentime and non-screentime French studying in the next few months because my visit to Paris made me realize (again) how poorly I actually do in real communication settings. I’m VERY serious about improving my French. So much so that French might become a Goals category of its own moving forward. My accent is still good though, and Parisians definitely responded to my French in French most of the time still, so I haven’t lost it all! Just need to practice a lot.
Dating apps took a backseat this month with travel and renovation craziness. Going to try again this month and may branch out from the main app I’ve been using.
(5) Fewer than 5 hours/week of TV (except football season/sports)
TV has been somewhat on track? I have been watching a little more than 5 hours, but nothing too terrible. Bachelorette is back, and despite what Dr. No Fun said, the Bachelor franchise shows *truly* give me joy, and that is Good For My Soul.
(6) Read 12 books
FINALLY finished Walking With God Through Pain & Suffering! I’ve moved to The Happiness Advantage by Harvard Professor Shawn Achor. One of my law school BFFs gave it to me for my birthday and I’m excited to read it! The book covers the concept of “positive psychology” which is a developing area of psychology coming primarily out of Harvard. Apparently most psychological analysis, books and studies focus on negative psychology and diagnoses and our brains are actually wired to perform better when we are in a positive headspace.
On the face, seeking “happiness” (which I think is ephemeral and not meant to be/impossible to be a CONSTANT state of existence as opposed to, say, joy, which I believe can exist even in unhappy circumstances) kind of freaks me out. I’m a bit skeptical of ridiculous, relently focus on positivity.
That said, this book doesn’t seem like it’s in that vein so much as walking through the fallacy that success will make us happy, and instead refocuses the reader on finding happiness and meaning in processes and as a result seeing more successful relationships and career paths than if we were seeking happiness in our results. A chicken and egg story if I ever heard one. Will keep y’all posted!
(7) Finish The Federalist Papers
On my flight home from Paris, I read I think 3 Federalist Papers? The focus was on why the federal government should have the authority to establish and keep standing armies in peacetime with no restrictions. And how if the legislature has the authority to do something, it should inherently not have subjective restrictions on that authority, which inevitably lead to absurd results. Interesting.
I’m curious to see how reading a lot of Hamilton, who believed in a strong, yet trustworthy, central government was important, will affect my own thoughts on the place of the government in our lives. He also thought the States and the national legislature would jealously guard their powers and that would prevent Executive abuse which the last 50 years FER SURE has not been the case with Congress.
(8) Walk my dog more (specifically: around the block almost every day at least once)
I’ve been doing a lot better with this one! Doing my screentime on dog walks has been good multitasking and motivates me to do the walk moreso than the other way around. Today I took him on a long enough walk that he was panting and ready to nap at the end! And bonus: got a little bit of sun and checked out the new neighborhood/city pool in the park beside our house. It’s not free, but it’s nice and within walking distance, so I suspect it will get some use this summer.
(9) Work out 200 times this year
In May, I worked out 16 times! (Y’all voted that my 10-minute Yoga videos counted, so I’m rolling with it. That brings the total for the year to 72. I’m on track for 173 workouts at this point, which is up from the end of April, when I was on track for 165 workouts by the end of December. Making up ground!
I’ve also added barre and yoga classes to my personal training and individual weight training/running workouts. My gym doesn’t offer nearly enough barre classes for my tastes, but the Saturday class is one I can usually make, so I’ve been doing it pretty consistently.
(10) Go to church 12 times (and preferably commit to one)
Not on track here.
(11) $5,000 in Emergency Fund
As I mentioned in (1) above, I used some of my emergency fund to pay a good chunk of consumer debt. I’m replenishing over the next couple of months, but it’s not ideal. Sitting at about $2,000 right now. However, a good chunk of debt is *GONE*, which is very exciting.
That debt payment puts me on track to finish all of my “chasing payments” (juggling due dates of current balances to avoid paying interest) by the end of June. I’m glad I was able to repay debt and avoid interest by employing this strategy, but it’s exhausting and I’m beyond ready to get to attacking the two big credit card balances I have (one is at 0% and one is at 4.99%, fortunately! But still. It’s time).
(12) 1-2 new dates per month (unless I meet someone)
Zero dates in May. I needed a break. I’ll be back on it in June.
May was a blast, but I’m looking forward to June and getting the reno on the way to completion!
On deck this month: a Jason Isbell concert, the second dental procedure, and a fun friend’s birthday party. I’m also going to try to get some sun, work on the blog, read more, and wake up earlier.
The jet lag wakeup schedule still hasn’t totally worn off yet, so I’ve been trying to cement a 7something wakeup time moving forward. My life is so much better when I don’t roll out of bed 45 minutes before I absolutely must leave for work so that I’ll arrive at a time that won’t get met fired. You non-morning people feel me, right??
What are y’all working on in June? Share in the comments! And if you want the Mandatory Arbitration Rejection Template, don’t forget to subscribe! :)