Happy Singles Awareness Day!

Well, it’s Valentine’s Day (otherwise known as the BIGGEST hallmark bullshit holiday ever invented) and I’m sitting here having just had an amazing Galentine’s – also a bullshit made up holiday that has been absorbed by hallmark in a Blob-like motion…

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And realizing that yes, I am single. On Valentine’s Day. Again.

AND IT IS WONDERFUL.

I can treat myself to a nice long soak in the tub; a good cry over PS I Love You, which, less-than-coincidentally I picked up from the library; Stuff my face with leftover apple pie; binge-watch the sex-and-overdone-gore Spartacus on Netflix…

You know, the important things…like really, really attractive men doing THIS:

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No? Just me?

Anyway, on to better things to post about today!

I’ve got two excellent articles that I read this morning over coffee, and I basically can’t seem to stop myself from sharing them (like, really, all over the place), and we’re getting back to that financial reset Week 2.5, because I seriously suck at keeping track of time. Here we go!

Financial Reset 2016

So, since you previously assembled all this information about your spending habits and your income in the past, you should be looking at a pretty realistic version of a budget without actually having done much number crunching. Time to move on to the planning portion. But first – more number crunching!

(I promise, all this math will pay dividends *financial speak for REWARDS* so just bear with me as you pull up your calculator function on your phone, or y’know, a calculator)

You should (God, do I hate using that word, but f*ck it, you really should) have assembled the info for the remaining other items on that first list:

  • Savings accounts
  • Retirement accounts
  • CDs
  • Debts (loans, credit cards, etc)

This is going to look SUPER different for everyone, but in the interest of examples and disclosure, here’s a rough ballpark on mine;

  • Savings accounts: AHAHAHAHA…. $0.47
  • Retirement accounts/CDs: $1200
  • Debt: $23,000 (all of which is student loans)

DON’T, let me repeat, DON’T let yourself get run down, disheartened, dissappointed, or really even all that upset about the numbers you’ve got. See them, acknowledge them and the unpleasant sensation in the back of your throat/pit of your stomach, and then kindly – or rudely – shove those feelings out the door.

This picture we just assembled is what the financial world refers to as assets and liabilities.

Assets are things that improve your financial picture (Savings, Retirement accounts, and other investments), while liabilities (student loans, credit cards, and other forms of debt) open you up to risk, and generally make living not paycheck-to-paycheck harder. And yes, I can hear those of you who know a little some-some about money wincing at the oversimplification, but we’re going with simple because simple is ALWAYS better for my brain. So, remember;

  • Asset – anything that improves your ability to be financially healthy/happy
  • Liability – anything that DOES NOT improve your ability to be financially sound/stable

AND THAT’S IT.

So now, you know how much money you make (bonus points if you went back and did that for more than one month) and how much money you spend. You know what you have to start working with in your financial artshop to paint that beautiful life we all carry around inside our heads. Next week we’re going to dive right into the nuts and bolts of changing that picture – just for the now – and talk about a little thought process called ‘Minding the Gap’.

In the meantime, be sure to give this article a peek, about how to feel rich no matter what your bank account says – it was originally posted as an article about jobs, but I think that by asking yourself these five questions, you can really learn a lot about your life, your goals, and where you want to be.

Also check out this advice on how to set real, effective habit changes according to Sun Tzu.

Until next time…

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Financial Reboot Complete: Bring on 2016!

So, as my long time readers can tell you, the last 6 or so months have been, uh, well, chaotic. After working at a job I hated – despite the lovely step up in income – I decided to move back to the midwest late last year. I took a job a few weeks later in Colorado -BEAUTIFUL-which fell through, before once again moving home.

All of this emptied my bank account faster than you can say ‘financial unstable decision-making’.

Now, barely into the new year, things have changed a lot for me, and that means my financial gameplan has changed to reflect that. So what’s cooking in 2016?

  • Goal one: Rebuild and Reset – this means rebuilding all those wonderful habits I used to have built into my life that made finances easier, smoother, and kept me in my best financial shape. There are a couple key components to that, including;
    • Rebuilding my CYA (Cover Yo’ @$s) Emergency Fund (~$3000)
    • Implementing and sticking to a monthly budget
    • Adjusting to a MONTHLY pay schedule instead of biweekly
  • Goal two: Debt Management – As y’all know, I’m trying to pay off my student loans. For the first part of the year, I’m focusing on rebuilding the CYA fund, but after that, i’ll be chipping back into the loans. The upside? I will be making enough money for it to work, well, well 😉
  • Goal three: Girlfriend’s trip – one of my very close friends recently accepted a position in SWEDEN where she’ll be teaching english, and another friend and I are planning to go on over to europe and visit her.

And that’s it. After the most recent months, I’m cutting myself some slack on the goal-setting. I’ve got a million strategies and theories and things to work out this year, all while adapting to a new, exciting, engaging, and occasionally exhausting job, in addition to continuing to adjust to actually living in the same state as my (lovingly) dysfunctional family who can actually visit me in person any time they feel like it now.

Get Prepped: Week 2 is coming up!

It’s FRIDAY, biatches! 😀

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Well, okay, that might be a slight exaggeration. I’m not going to vomit. Fall into a deep, deep sleep the second I get home tonight? Oh yes…(sidenote: a week of dogsitting three dogs while trying to onboard at your new Big Girl job is falling under the not recommended category).

Despite the stupid crazy time spent taking care of dogs, working, and just driving back and forth between the two, I DID manage to assemble all the info I posted about earlier this week, so for those of you following along at home, this is your friendly reminder to grab it, because on Sunday I’ll be posting, breaking it all down *GULP*

If, like me, you are good to get this puppy moving, we’re going to try and tackle two things BEFORE Sunday’s post of pulling it all together.

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(it’s okay if you’re not ready – think of this as extra credit)

Taking a look at that list from Monday (or was it Sunday…hmm…too lazy to check…):

  • 1-2 Months spending records, courtesy of my bank account statements
  • 1-2 Months income records (pay-stubs, deposit records)
  • Savings accounts
  • Retirement accounts
  • CDs
  • Debts (loans, credit cards, etc)

What I want you to do is go through your spending from the last two months. Figure out how much money you spent TOTAL for each of them, and then average them. Then do the same thing with your income records.

  • 1-2 Months Spending/Expenses: ~$1300/month
  • 1-2 Months Income: ~$1400/month * This number will change significantly for me at the end of the month*

If you can get these two numbers figured out by Sunday, when we sit down to take a look at the whole picture, you will be SO ready to go. Without these two numbers, financial planning is like being the little dutch boy trying to stop the dam from leaking: It won’t work as a mid-long term system, it will cause you terrible amounts of stress, and ONE DAY THE DAM WILL BREAK DOWN AND EAT A PINT OF ICE CREAM WHILE SOBBING QUIETLY ON THE COUCH, TELLING YOURSELF YOU SHOULD HAVE GONE TO WORK IN SOMETHING PRACTICAL AND LUDICROUS LIKE ACCOUNTING OR BUSINESS OR LAW SCHOOL.

But that might just be me 😉

BONUS: For those of you who already know what you spend/make in a month, break it down by category – start with ‘Essential’ (meaning NEED TO SURVIVE) and Unessential/Optional/Discretionary (meaning what you CHOOSE to spend money on).

You can also keep breaking it down – for example, I track not only ‘essentials’ (rent, bills, grocery), but also break my unessentials into a couple categories so I can keep an eye on WHERE and WHY I’m over-spending or breaking my budget (y’know, categories like Eating out, Coffee, Books/Entertainment, ‘Forgotten’ expenses like that oil change or certification renewal…).

February: The Financial Restart Month

Woah! Over two months with no post! Bad, B., very bad! 😦

Good news is that it’s a new year, a new month, and in honor of all that, I’m hitting the restart button this month. Yup, you heard me, a financial restart.

What this means is that I’m giving myself 28 days to get my financial picture set for the 2016 year, including figuring out the exact baby steps I’ll be using to get that picture into better focus.

My challenge to the rest of you -all three left reading 😉 – is to follow along this month with me!

Week One: Assemble the Picture

  • Commit to a No Spend Month: The perks of it being February? It’s the best month to do a no-spend month in. Conveniently, all that time you would be using to idly buy things can go towards setting yourself up for a better financial future.
  • Get all the facts: This is just my list, and some of you may have other things on here, but the BIG goal for this week should be to start looking at what pieces of the puzzle you have to work with. You don’t have to have amounts for this (yet) but you should dig up paperwork, passcodes, etc;
    • 1-2 Months spending records, courtesy of my bank account statements
    • 1-2 Months income records (pay-stubs, deposit records)
    • Savings accounts
    • Retirement accounts
    • CDs
    • Debts (loans, credit cards, etc)

So between now and Sunday, do yourself a favor and at least get all the facts started. Like I said, you don’t need all the numbers (yet) but you need to know at least where to find them for Week Two.

And on that note, hope y’all have a fabulous week!

Dear Alcohol

Be kind – this is my first letter-like post 🙂

Dear Alcohol,

You’ve been there for me a lot in the past. When things got crazy, when things got bad. When I just wanted to unwind after exams in college. When my long-lasting relationship imploded and then exploded, you were one of the few people who didn’t desert me, or straight up stop talking to me. I’ve enjoyed learning your nuances – the differences between brewing, styles, flavors. I’ve come to appreciate you when paired with food, and the various places that create you.

But it’s over now.

And I know it’s cliche; but it’s not you – it’s me. It’s how I can’t seem to stop at just one, once that buzz settles in. I turn to you even when I shouldn’t. It might not be as far as a dependency -yet – but you hold too much power over me.

And when it’s over, I feel crappy. My head feels weird, my body slightly out of step. Emotionally, I feel down and disconnected from my own feelings.

None of that is good. It’s not good for me, my mind, my lifestyle, or my wallet.

I’ve been half-stepping away from you for a while now; going through periods of time where I distance myself from you. But the time has come to make a permanent change, to pull the plug on this toxic relationship we’ve developed. It’s time for me to start rebuilding my life, myself, and you aren’t going to help me do that.

I’d say I’ll miss you, but I really hope that I don’t.

-Banishing Loans