Tag Archives: debt

Working On Money (or A Prosperous Heart Update)

I wrote before about how the podcast I work for was going to do the 12 week journey in “The Prosperous Heart”. We just got to the end of the 12 weeks and I figured it was time to do an update.

I’ll admit that I did not follow the 12 weeks as strictly as I did with “The Artist’s Way”. The main thing I did do was the morning pages. I struggled with the morning pages when I did “The Artist’s Way” and I really didn’t enjoy them. They became something that annoyed me at the end of that journey and I really was not enjoying having my mornings start off on such a negative note. So I decided that for me, doing the morning pages wasn’t going to benefit me the way that it should so I didn’t do them.

I know that some people will argue that I didn’t really do the 12 week journey this time if I left out doing the morning pages, but that’s ok with me. I have to do what is right for me and I would rather try to do the journey the best that I can instead of not doing it at all. I did do the weekly reading and the questions at the end of the chapters, so I feel like I did a majority of the journey.

The biggest thing about this 12 week journey is to track every single penny that you spend. Since I already do that with YNAB, I figured it would be pretty easy for me to keep doing it. And fortunately it was pretty easy for me. The only annoying this was with credit card spending. I track it in YNAB and it was a bit weird to have to track it in a second location as well (for “The Prosperous Heart”, I tracked everything in a little notebook). I didn’t like having to do everything twice, but it was a minor issue.

But while I track all my credit card spending, tracking cash was a new thing for me. I was looking forward to seeing how being extra aware of my cash spending would help me out. And for the most part, I got much better about being more cautious on what I was buying. There were a few times I forgot to track my cash spending (mainly laundry money or parking meters), but I would say I tracked all but maybe 10 times I used cash. It’s not perfect, but I’m pretty happy with being close to perfect.

I think that many people in our group weren’t as into this 12 week journey as they were with the other one. Some of us felt like the book didn’t speak to us the same way. Some people felt that the chapters were repetitive and a bit disconnected. It was not easy for us to admit that we didn’t enjoy this journey as much as the other one since we all felt so great after finishing “The Artist’s Way”. But it’s important to admit to yourself when you don’t feel like you are getting what you want out of a book/class/lecture.

We tried to encourage each other to stay on top of the weekly chapters and the lessons, but this time the group online wasn’t as active and sometimes it felt like we were each on our own journeys instead of doing it as a group. It’s not bad to do it alone, but it was different. And I don’t know if I preferred the group version or being a bit more on my own. Each journey was so different because of what was in it, so it’s not easy to compare them to each other.

Now that this is done, I’m going to keep some of the lessons and challenges going but I’m not going to keep all of them. I might continue to track cash spending, but I think just having the extra awareness I have now will be helping me so much. And for credit card spending, I already track that and I have noticed that I haven’t been charging as much stuff as I did before. So it’s nice to know that I did learn something and that I’m not spending as much as I did before. I’m not saving as much as I’d like, but it’s baby steps toward that.

Overall, I’m glad that I took this journey. Even if I didn’t do everything that was supposed to be done, I feel like I have made a change and I’ve learned new things about myself. I’m hoping that I can continue to spend less and focus less on things that cost money and look for things that are free that I like to do. I know that I need to get my credit card debt paid off and I really want to get it done soon. I just need to buckle down and work harder toward that. And hopefully the lessons I learned from “The Prosperous Heart” will help me over the next weeks and months to accomplish that.

Work Begets Work (Old Bosses Possible New Jobs)

Work has been pretty busy for me lately. Busy can be good sometimes though. For my research job, I just finished working on the big database update we do each year and doing that job means I get to make more money (it’s on a different contract than my main job). And extra money does always help out with things. My main box office job is the same as always, although we are getting back into the busy season again so things have been a bit crazier. And I’m still doing my occasional in person box office job and might be working a few shifts this fall.

I’m in a pretty stable place with my day jobs right now and that’s something that has been hard to get to. But of course, nothing ever stays stable with work but this time it seems like the change might be all positive.

With my research position, there is a chance there will be a job opening that I would be right for. It would be a full-time position so I’m assuming I’d be making more money. It would still be a remote position so I could work from home. And depending on what the pay would be like, there is the potential that it could be the only main day job I would need. I don’t plan on quitting my main box office job any time soon (I wouldn’t do that until I have paid my credit card off completely), but it would be nice to have the potential to only have one main day job.

I don’t know when this job would become available or if I would get it. But it is nice to know that my boss knows that I am always looking for better opportunities for myself and thought of me. But even if I don’t get that new position, I’m very happy in the job I have now and the flexibility I have with it. It’s a luxury that I appreciate so much.

And there are more potential changes with other work. My occasional box office job is a job I got through my old boss at my telesales job (that’s the job I was working when I started this blog). I rarely see him since I work the job when he can’t be at the venue for the shows, but we still stay in touch pretty often. And he let me know about a job possibility that is actually at the old company I used to work for.

This job would be a temporary telesales position for the next month or so. I would be able to work from home and it would pay only commission (no hourly pay). But the commission would be much higher than any job I’ve had and the potential is there to make a pretty decent amount of money in a short period of time. I do miss commission jobs a bit since it was always nice to have a paycheck that was double or triple what I had the paycheck before. It always felt like a nice present!

My old/current boss is passing my information on to the people who are running this telesales campaign and they are supposed to get in touch with me soon. But from what I understand, it’s looking very likely that they will hire me to work this gig because they remember how much I was able to raise when I worked the old telesales job.

It’s good that this job would be temporary because if I do it I’ll be getting close to working 80 hours a week. That’s a lot, but since most of my jobs can overlap it’s not really 80 hours a week. But I don’t think I could maintain that sort of schedule, pace, or balance for more than a month or two. So hopefully I can make a lot of sales in that job and then when it’s done I’ll be able to relax and know that I made a nice amount of money.

If I do get that telesales job, I would love to put all the money I make from it toward my credit card. If I could cut my credit card debt in half, that would be incredible and I would be so happy! And there is a chance that this job would actually allow me to do that! I know that I’m not just working as hard as I do right now to pay off debt, but to have that weight off my shoulders would be so nice and is a goal that I’ve been working toward for a very long time.

As of right now, both of these new work possibilities are only maybes. Hopefully in the next week or month I’ll have a better idea of what might be coming up. But I have to say that I’m feeling really optimistic about work stuff right now and it’s been a while since I’ve felt that way. It’s nice and I’m really feeling like things are turning around for me in this aspect of my life. It gives me hope that more things will change for the better for me soon.

A Goal Setting Experience (or Mindfulness Seems To Be A Theme)

I’ve been pretty good about setting goals for myself. I set goals each year that I want to be able to accomplish in a year. I also set weekly and monthly goals in my Volt Planner. While goal setting is relatively new to me, I feel like I’ve gone in head first and really have embraced it. I like to have things to try to achieve and while it is frustrating when I don’t make a goal I’m learning how to be ok with that.

So when the podcast I work for was going to do a goal setting workshop, I was so excited to be able to participate! I ended up hosting the event at my house because it is a pretty central location and my living room is a good space to hold events like this. It ended up being a pretty small group, but I think that allowed everyone to get more out of this workshop than they would have if we had more people.

The workshop was based around the idea of the 4 Tendencies that Gretchen Rubin created. There was a quiz to take to help us figure out what type of person we are. Of the 4 Tendencies, I was a pretty even mix of 3 of them (Upholder, Questioner, and Obliger). I don’t know what I was expecting, but I knew that I wasn’t going to be the other type (Rebel). But to be a mix of the other ones was interesting.

I know that some of the reasons I’m a mix is because of my OCD and panic/anxiety disorder along with me wanting to be a perfectionist. But I totally want to look more into these things so I can learn more about each type and see if there is a way I can maximize knowing this to help me do better with my habits and goals for the future. I haven’t really thought about how I could adjust my goal setting process to benefit me so this was really educational for me.

After learning about what type of person we were, the next step was to work on our goals. I’ve already got so many goals for the year and I really didn’t want to cover something that I already am working on. We were advised to try to only set goals for parts of our lives that we need to work on. If we have a goal but are making good progress, we shouldn’t be writing it down since that goal is working.

So for me, the first thing I wanted to do was to write what is working in my life so I can remove my focus from that. The main things that are working for me right now are my day jobs and my exercise. I do have goals for both of those things right now, but I’m doing really great with them so I didn’t need to brainstorm more about it. And once I had that written down I worked on focusing on what I wanted to do.

I got it narrowed down to 3 aspects of my life that I know I want to set goals in. I want to have new goals in my personal relationships, financial life, and my recovery effort. I wrote down several things within each aspect that I know I want to accomplish in the long-term. Most of them are pretty basic, but again it’s always good to write stuff down. I don’t have a lot of variety in what I want to set goals to do, but those few things that I’m focused on aren’t necessarily the easiest.

For personal relationships, that’s about dating and friendships. I want to be more active on both sides. I need to set more plans and not have my relationships just be virtual (FB with my friends and online dating with dating). I want to be ok with being bossy or forceful with trying to make plans. I’ve been ok with being wishy-washy and not trying to get something scheduled. But I don’t want to be ok with that anymore. That’s how I can go months without seeing a friend or spend weeks messaging back and forth with a guy online. I want to be more aware of the relationships that I’m focusing on and not getting as distracted.

For finances, I want to stay aware as well. I’m doing pretty great with that so far but I want to make sure that it continues for a long time. Mindless spending is easy to do (especially with online shopping) and I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to use shopping as a distraction for something else. And hopefully by doing that I will reduce my spending, get my debt more in control, and be in a better place financially.

And for my recovery, it’s a very similar thing. I want to work on being more aware. I want to use what I’ve learned recently in therapy and really work hard and seriously on taking those steps. I don’t want to make excuses for myself and to take responsibility for whatever I chose to do. I don’t want to let my eating disorder rule me. I want to be making choices, even if those choices are bad ones.

After writing down these ideas and 90 day and 6 month goals for each one, I totally noticed a theme. Everything is about being mindful and aware. I don’t know why this has become such an important thing to me now, but clearly it’s something I need to focus on. I don’t feel like I’ve been on auto-pilot, but maybe I have and I just didn’t realize it. Maybe I needed to combination of my appointment with my therapist and this goal setting workshop in the same week to come to this realization.

Whatever brought this realization to me, I’m glad that it’s more obvious than ever on what I want to focus on and what I think I really need to do. Saying that I’ll be more mindful is easy to say but hard to do. But I think that having some action steps and ideas is going to help me get closer to accomplishing this mindfulness now and hopefully things will snowball from there in the right direction.

My 2017 Goals (or I Know This Year Will Be Amazing!)

It’s the beginning of 2017 and I’m ready to make this year so amazing! I have a lot of things happening this year and while they are not all great things I know that I can do incredible things even with the struggles I know the year will bring. As always, I don’t set resolutions because I don’t feel like those have a long-term feeling. I like to set goals for what I can get done in the year and I’m ready to share my 2017 goals with you all.

My first goal is a fitness related one. I didn’t quite make my fitness goal for 2016, but I’m still trying to do better than that goal. This year, I want to do 181 workouts at Orangetheory. This is going to be a huge challenge for me. First, I only did 177 workouts last year so this is 4 more than what I did before. But also, with my liver surgery, I may need to take several weeks off of working out. Because of that, I will have to do more 4 workout weeks before surgery and after I recover. But I’d love to make 4 workout weeks more of the norm so setting a goal of 181 workouts is a great way to push myself to do that.

My next goal is to get through my liver surgery as easily as possible. I know that this will be hard to do since I have no clue how my body will react to surgery and recovery. But I am a big believer in the power of positive thought and that’s what I’ll be doing. When I had my hip surgery, I was in the gym the next day on the recumbent bike working out because I was told that moving would be good for me. So my plan is to think that I will be able to get through surgery with few problems. I will have to spend some time at the hospital after surgery, but with positive thinking I’m hoping the time will be as limited as it can be. I know this will be a painful process, but I still want to focus on the positives and hoping that the pain will be manageable and that I will have a fast recovery.

The next goal is to continue on my journey through recovery and to reduce my binge episodes even more. I know that setting a goal to eliminate binges is setting myself up for failure, but to even reduce the average to be one fewer a week would be awesome! I want to continue to reading my recovery books to be inspired and get my brain in a place where recovery is possible. This isn’t an easy goal, but I’m excited to see what progress I can make this year.

Next are money related goals. I have a number that I want to get my debt below this year. I’m not sharing that publicly because that won’t mean much to everyone else, but it will be a reduction of about 25% of the debt I currently have. I would love it to be lower, but because I am not making a ton of money right now I know that I must have slightly realistic goals. And along with that, I would not only like to pay down my debt but I would also like to have some savings as well. I don’t want to have to use my credit card for unexpected expenses like car problems or wanting to buy things like my Disneyland pass. If I had savings, I could use that for those expenses while still being able to pay down debt.

I also have a goal of hopefully setting a PR again in my 5K race time. I have 2 races planned for this year so hopefully I can PR at one or both of them! I plan on increasing how long my running intervals are so that should hopefully help to make getting a PR easier for me. I’m not as focused on increasing my speed right now, but maybe that will be something I work on toward the end of the year for future PRs.

And my last goal (which I seem to set each year) is to have more fun. I’m even trying to make my liver surgery fun by telling my friends that they will have to come and visit me in the hospital so I can have a good time there. I plan on continuing my adventures to Disneyland and Universal Studios and hopefully having more fun random outings. There is so much stuff in LA that I haven’t done yet even though I’ve lived here for almost 16 years and I want to have more fun in the city I call home.

So that’s it for my goals for 2017. I think I’ve set some really good ones and I’m excited to do my best to accomplish them all! And I hope that at the end of December, I look back at this post and am proud of what I got done. But for now, I’m just happy to start working on all of these and checking things off throughout the year!

Recapping My 2016 (or Almost Doing All That I Wanted To)

I can’t believe that it’s the end of the year! It’s so true that the year flies by and that it seems like it wasn’t that long ago that I was writing what my goals were going to be for 2016. My year didn’t totally go the way I expected (both in good and bad ways), but I’m happy to say that I almost got all the goals I set for the year accomplished.

My first goal for 2016 was to do 180 workouts at Orangetheory. Sadly, this one wasn’t a goal that I accomplished. I will have one more workout for the year tomorrow, and that will bring my total for the year to 177 workouts. I know that 177 workouts for the year is still impressive and better than I did last year, but I really wanted to reach my goal. I had some setbacks that I wasn’t expecting, so that contributed to missing some of the workouts that I thoughts I’d be able to do. It’s not the end of the world that I didn’t hit this goal, and I’m trying to remember that the quality of the workouts that I did this year were so much better than last year.

I was lifting heavier weights than I ever have before. My form on the bodyweight exercises is significantly better. And most importantly I started to run this year! I never thought that was going to happen for me this year and I’m so happy that my coaches pushed me to do it. I still have so much progress to do on my running, but the amount of progress that I’ve had this year already has been incredible!

And that leads me to my next goal I had for 2016 which was to have a PR on my 5K. And because of my running, my most recent 5K was an amazing PR for me! Even with all the running training I had been doing, I had no clue that I could do that fast of a race! I accomplished so many goals I had for my 5K timing with that one race and now I have to figure out what new goals I have for 2017 for my races. My next race should be before my liver surgery and the second one will be after. And I have no clue how the surgery will affect my training so I need to be cautious with the goals I set.

The next goal I set for 2016 was regarding money. I wanted to budget better, reduce my debt, and possibly start saving money. While things haven’t been as great as they could have been with money, I think I’ve been doing a lot better than I have before. My budgeting is going better and part of that budgeting is budgeting money each month to go into saving money for big things like when I have to do car repairs or my new computer. I’ve also brought my debt down this year. And even though it isn’t as low as I hoped it would be, getting it down is tough so any reduction is an accomplishment.

I also set a goal to travel more and go on more adventures with my friends. I really didn’t do a ton of traveling this year, but the trips I did take were really fun. I didn’t get to do the trip with my sister-in-law like we had planned, but we are working on a trip idea for 2017 so at least trip planning happened this year. But I totally did do more adventures this year with my friends. I’ve been going to shows quite a bit and those still make me so happy. I got to go back to Magic Castle and had so much fun with my friends being silly there. And of course I had a ton of outings to Disneyland and Universal Studios.

The one goal that I didn’t really even get close to doing is being in another acting class this year. I debated doing the next level of improv at UCB, but I decided against it for a couple of reasons. I looked into a few other acting classes and I’ve found a couple that do interest me, but there was an issue with scheduling. And with knowing that I have surgery coming up in the spring, I’m very hesitant to try to get a class planned for the new year. I know I need to get back into a class, and I’m a bit upset with myself that I didn’t do any action with this during 2016. But I’m ok with not doing it because I didn’t want to waste money on a class I didn’t really care to do.

And my final goal for 2016 was to be in recovery or on my way into recovery from my eating disorder. I’m not in recovery at all, but I’m working toward it and the steps I’ve made this year have been significant. I think I’ve made more progress this year than I have in the past few years combined. I’m working on recovery every day which is something that I haven’t done before. I’ve had fewer binge episodes a week than before and the binges I have had were not as severe as they were in the past. I still have a lot of work to do, but it’s getting there.

Considering all the craziness of my life this past year, I’m pretty happy with how my goals went for the year. I know that things could have been better, but they also could have been so much worse. And I know that 2017 is just going to be even better!

My goals post for 2017 will be next week (along with the post with my word for 2017). I hope you all have an amazing New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day! Please be responsible and call for a cab/Uber/Lyft if you are out drinking so you get home safely. And here’s to all of us having an incredible start to 2017!

Day Job News (or Things Are Getting Better)

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about my day jobs. For the most part, things are the same as always. I’m still working my box office job plus my data entry/calendar management job from home. I’m also working for my old boss time to time with in person box office work and I still babysit on occasional weekends. My hours each week range from 43 to 68 hours in a week depending on how many hours I work my occasional jobs, but even at the lowest number a week I’m finally making a more livable income.

What I’m making isn’t making it easy to pay off my credit card debt. I was recently able to pay off about 5% of what my remaining debt is, but that’s less than I was hoping. I really felt like I’d have it paid off by now, but I think it’s going to be a bit more time before it’s gone. But each of the jobs I work adds to my income and adds to what I can pay off each month so I’m grateful for each work hour I get.

But while I’m not making as much money as I would love to make, I’ve gotten some pretty awesome news with all of my jobs in the past few weeks. It started with my occasional box office job. I’m going to have the opportunity to have more shifts in a month now. There needs to be some coverage for the box office at other shows than the ones I typically work, so I’ll get a couple of extra shifts. Each of the extra shifts will only be 2 hours, but I might be able to get 3 of those in a month. 6 extra hours isn’t a lot, but that money will pay off one or two utilities bills at a time so it adds up!

I also got some good news about my work from home box office job. A few weeks ago I got an email from the owner of the company asking me to call him. My first thought was that I was fired (even though there was no reason I should be fired) so I called him back immediately. The stuff he needed to talk to me about was only about how our pay system works (he needed some information from me that he didn’t have) so I didn’t have to worry about anything. And during that call, he asked me if I was having any issues with the job that he should know about.

I told him that while I love working this job, it’s not giving me all the flexibility I was expecting when I took the job. Since I don’t get scheduled for full shifts each day, I have the potential to work an extra 2 hours each weekday if I had to make up hours. I’ve made up hours in the past when I go out-of-town or have a doctor’s appointment in the middle of the day. It’s never been too big of a deal, but I’ve always had to go through both my boss and manager.

Fortunately, the owner agreed with me that flexibility should be fine since I do have those hours each week that I usually don’t work that can be used as make-up hours. I just have to go through my manager (which is easier since we are both on chat together every work day) and I can make up the hours based on when we feel it would be best. Now I have the flexibility for auditions that I’ve been needing and hopefully as I get more auditions this arrangement will continue to work for us all.

The last day job I got great news about was my data entry/calendar management one. When I was hired, it was just under a 2 year contract. The end of that contract is coming up at the end of this month and I’ve been stressing a bit about if that contract wasn’t going to be extended. That job is over half of my income each month, so I need that money. I just got the email this week that my contract is going to be extended for at least another year! The budget is still being worked out so the number of hours each week may change (I don’t know if that would go up or down), but as long as I’m still working that job at least I know I’ll have some more regular income coming in.

But since I was so worried about that job not getting an extension on the contract, I’ve been spending time over the past month looking for another job that I could do. I focused mainly on jobs that I could do along with the jobs I already have, but I was also open to finding a full-time job that had the flexibility I need. There really aren’t a ton of full-time jobs with flexibility (more people who have those either start as part-time or start with no flexibility), but then I was listening to a podcast that had an interview with a woman who owns a virtual assistant company.

In the past, I’ve tried to get jobs as a virtual assistant. But so many of those companies require you to use a PC and I have a Mac. I didn’t want to have to buy a different computer just to work a job with, so I never applied to them. But when I found out that the company that was interviewed loves people who have Macs, I applied immediately! Because of my schedule and when they could do Skype interviews it took a bit of time before I could interview for the company, but I finally had my interview this week and it went really well! The next step is to wait to see if they have a client that needs a virtual assistant that matches my skill set. And things tend to start at 5 hours a week, which I feel pretty confident that I could do.

Eventually, the virtual assistant job can be more hours (and you can take on more than one client), so over time it may become one of my main day jobs. I’m not thinking that far in advance right now, but it doesn’t hurt to have some potential plans in mind when I’m looking at new day jobs. Of course, I hope that sooner rather than later a day job won’t be necessary as I will hopefully make all my income with acting. But I also have to be realistic.

Considering that not long ago I was completely out of work and feeling hopeless with my day job situation, I’m pretty happy with how things are going right now. They can always be better, but I think the path I’m on is one of the better ones that I’ve had lately. I’m finally feeling some stability, I can make some plans for purchases I’d like to make, and I’m making steps on my debt reduction. I can’t ask for that much more than that.

Budgeting and Spending (or Sharing YNAB With A Cashier)

This week I did a bit of shopping to prepare for my trip next week. I got a couple of things I needed (travel toiletries) and a couple of things I wanted (a new purse and hat). While I did need some of the things I got, I still was very careful with what I was spending. I’m trying to do much better with my budgeting plan and starting over in YNAB so I could start fresh with a better budget idea has really helped me. I’m much more on top of my expenses and income and I’ve been able to make larger payments toward my credit card debt than I have in the past (although I’ve had a small setback in that because I had to put almost $1000 into fixing my car last month).

The current version of YNAB is a very different set-up than what I signed up with. I haven’t wanted to make the change yet (it costs more with the new version and I’m happy with what I have), but I’m still trying to be a very involved user and whenever possible I add my spending in the app as it happens. It’s pretty convenient to have the app on my phone and entering my expenses or income takes so little time. Compared to other budgeting apps I’ve tried to use, this one seems to make the most sense to me and doesn’t intimidate me especially with having income that can vary a lot.

One of my shopping trips to prepare for my trip was to Nordstrom Rack (they’ve always got some amazing things there!) and when it was my turn to pay I handed over my credit card and then asked again what the total was. The cashier told me and I immediately got out my phone to enter what I spent (it was within my budget so it’s all good).

The cashier asked me what I was doing and I mentioned that I was entering my purchase into YNAB so I could make sure I don’t overspend what I’ve budgeted for this month. She mentioned how smart that was and how she should do the same thing. I have a feeling that she probably downloaded the app that night because she seemed really excited about it.

Budgeting may never come easily to me (unless I have an unlimited amount of money and don’t actually have to budget), but I’m working on it. Being open about budgeting has helped because it takes away the shame I’ve felt in the past about the money issues I have. I’ve been told that I’m very irresponsible for having a credit card balance that isn’t paid off in full each month. I felt awful about that and didn’t want to tell anyone else about it. But when I opened up about it, I realized that a lot of people I know have debt of some sort and there’s nothing wrong with it. And a lot of those friends have been using various budgeting apps to help bring down their debt so I want to follow their example.

It actually felt really great for those brief moments I was talking with the Nordstrom Rack cashier about YNAB. I had no feelings of shame sharing that I needed help to track my money and to make sure I’m being responsible. I felt like even if I am not in a perfect financial set-up right now, that doesn’t mean I don’t have advice I can share with others and hopefully help them get into the best financial shape possible. You don’t have to have everything figured out and settled to be able to share with others what may be able to help them.

I know that I’ve got a long way to go with my budgeting and debt payoff, but it’s the small steps that will add up and make a big difference in the end. And hopefully in the not so distant future I will know that my credit card debt will be paid off and then the budgeting will shift from debt payments to savings and I can hopefully do more fun things more often.

A Fresh Budget (or Starting Over With YNAB)

I’ve been budgeting with YNAB for almost a year now. I’ve been pretty good about entering every expense and paycheck into the system (I’ve even had some fun laughs with friends when we are out to dinner and we both pull up our apps to enter our expense when we pay the bill). It’s been good for me to be accountable with every dollar that I spend and to have a more realistic view on how much money I’m making.

But even though I was doing all the work, there was a serious disconnect with me happening in my budgeting. I have no clue why I was so disconnected, but something wasn’t right and I couldn’t shake the feeling. I had been trying to figure out what was wrong, but I just kept feeling like something was wrong and I couldn’t fix it.

I started to download a bunch of other budgeting apps. There are dozens of free budgeting apps and some of them seemed ok, but none of them were fitting what I needed (the biggest issue was finding one that didn’t expect the income to be a steady amount). YNAB has actually changed a bit since I got it and the new version is more of an online system (instead of it connecting via Dropbox) and you pay a monthly or annual fee instead of paying for a 1 time purchase. I don’t want to get the new version yet because I want to feel comfortable with the version I have and I really don’t want to have another expense added to my life right now.

So after a few weeks of feeling lost and frustrated, I finally decided to get rid of my current budget in YNAB, delete everything, and start completely over. When I started over I also re-watched all of the videos online about setting things up and how to use them efficiently. I learned things that I missed the first time and I was setting up my budgeting categories into things that make sense to me.

YNAB Categories

I kept the debt, monthly bills, and everyday expense categories because those are pretty basic and they haven’t changed. I still have monthly bills, everyday expenses, and my debt to pay off. But the rest of my categories have gotten more specific. I’m breaking down my expenses by different aspects of my life and the priorities I have with them. Some of my acting expenses can be sacrificed for my day job expenses (classes aren’t as important as paying my estimated taxes). Splitting the expenses in the categories does help me see where I need to save and spend versus where I want to save and spend.

I know that some people have very limited categories in their budget, but I think for me the specifics are really going to help me. Sometimes, I forget about the annual expenses that I have that add up all the time. I only pay dues for WIF and one of the casting submissions sites once a year, and I don’t want that amount to shock me anymore. This way, I can save a little bit each month for those annual expenses and I will see exactly what I’m saving it for (compared to before where I listed it as annual acting expenses).

So far, this new budget is working out well for me. I’m feeling more connected to my money and I’m more aware of what’s happening. I’m trying to set up my monthly savings for my annual things, but I’m still working on how I want them to be organized. In the past, I probably would have just given up with things got hard for me to figure out. But now I really do want to make this work. I know that budgeting has helped so much this past year and that it can be doing so much more for me. And once I get that figured out, hopefully I can start paying down more debt and start saving so I can take another amazing vacation sometime soon.

Working On Money Priorities (or What’s Worth The Splurge)

I’ve really been working lately on spending less. I know it’s important for me to do this because I need to use that extra money toward my credit card debt (and not creating more debt). And obviously, there are some costs that I can’t avoid (bills and stuff), but I’ve gotten more serious at taking a look at my fun expenses.

I’m sure it sounds like I spend a ton because I go to Disneyland pretty often and now I have a pass to Universal Studios as well. This Disneyland pass was pretty much half paid for by recycling ink. That option won’t work for me in the future (the loophole that let me do that was fixed), but pretty much what I paid out of pocket was the same as 2 days at Disneyland. And my pass has the parking so I’m not paying $18 each time to park. I know I’ll go more than 2 times in a year so it’s easily worth it. And my Universal Studios pass was something I got at Costco for almost the same price as a 1 day ticket. The issue with my pass is that you can’t use it on weekends at all, but since I will probably only go on Mondays that isn’t an issue for me as well.

I am still spending money on other fun things, but I’m really trying to limit them to fun experiences like my season tickets to the Pantages or other shows (I just got tickets to see “The Little Mermaid” live at the Hollywood Bowl soon!). And when I do tickets like those, I’m working hard at finding good deals or making sure what I’m paying is a good value (like the season tickets being about $300 for all 7 shows). Part of why I love going to so many shows is it keeps me busy. And when I’m busy I’m not focusing on food.

And speaking of food, one of the biggest savings I’ve had lately is food related. I set the monthly challenge not to order any delivery food in March, and I’ve been able to keep that up so far this month too! I’m not doing as great about cooking from scratch, but even getting microwave food from the grocery store is cheaper than delivery food. When I’m not cooking, I’m going out to eat and that tends to be with friends so it makes it more of an outing than just eating. My grocery bills have gone up a bit since I’m eating at home more, but the amount they have gone up is significantly less than what I was spending on delivery food so that is a win for me.

But I think the biggest savings for me as been shopping. Mainly buying books, but I’m trying to be better about shopping in general. I used to buy a lot more stuff. Now, if I’m buying things online it tends to be household stuff I need or workout clothes. I’m not buying as much “normal” clothes because honestly I’m not in “normal” clothes that often. And even on non-workout days I usually wear my workout pants because they are more comfortable to work in.

But my book spending was pretty bad in the past. I used to be a huge library person, then there was an ordeal with my library card not working (I don’t know what happened and neither do they). Instead of doing the easy thing and just registering for a new card, I took advantage of how easy it is to get books on my Kindle. My old e-reader was much more difficult to get books on so just being able to press a button and order a book was so fun! But the spending was adding up. And while most of the books I buy I love and read over and over again, there were some that I got because they were on sale for $0.99 that I’ve read once and that’s it.

So recently I finally got a new library card and I’ve been taking advantage of it so much!

Library Card

It is so easy to get books on my Kindle from the library. Yes, I have to use my computer to get them. But then they are sent wirelessly to my Kindle and are on the device for 21 days. So most of the time I can read them more than once if I want to. I actually went a little overboard with putting Kindle books on hold from the library and had to delay a couple of holds (I had gotten 8 library books available at once). But I’m starting to find my groove with the library again and I feel like an idiot that I waited so long and spent so much money. I can’t go back and change it, but I’m glad I’ve changed now.

I know that there are still a few more places I can save money in my monthly spending. I want to get my grocery bills down a bit more as well as my household stuff (cleaning supplies, paper goods, and those things). I’m going to do some price checking between stores near me and Amazon and hopefully I can figure out the best options for me to maximize my money.

I’ve got a lot of fun things coming up this summer and a lot of them will involve money. But hopefully with the cutting back that I’ve been able to do I will not put myself into more debt just to do them.

3 Years Down (or Where I Started)

3 years ago today was the first post ever on Finding My Inner Bombshell. The last line in that post was about how I didn’t know where my journey would be going, but it was going to go somewhere.

And in the past 3 years it definitely has gone places.

Am I where I expected to be in 3 years after writing that first post? No way. I honestly thought that by putting myself out there everything thing would be fixed. I know that that sounds stupid, but I really believed it. I really thought that that first post was the start of my new life. And while that was true, it’s not true in the way that I expected it to.

I thought that somehow my weight loss would finally happen and I wouldn’t have to deal with any weight gain. I thought that I would figure out how to live within my means and pay off my credit card debt. I honestly thought that within 3 years all my debt would be completely gone.

None of that has come true.

But what has happened is I have become more accepting of myself. I don’t beat myself up as often as I used to. I still do that from time to time and I do share that on here. But when I become open with the world, many other people opened up to me. I realized that I’m not alone in this battle and journey. And by knowing I’m not alone, I know that everyone has slip ups and moments where they aren’t their best.

I’m still in shock that I’ve been doing this for 3 years (and almost 800 posts!)! I’ve said this before, but I never had an idea of how long I’d be able to keep this up. Sometimes it is tough to find things to write about every day. And I’m sure that eventually there will be a day that I don’t post. But I’m doing my very best to stay consistent with this as it does hold me somewhat accountable for my actions.

When I started this blog, a friend of mine had encouraged me to start a blog because she made decent money off of her blog. She thought that this would be a great day job for me and that I might be able to support myself on my blog income. In no way is that true. While I have had a handful of sponsored posts where I’ve gotten cool things, I haven’t made cash money off of this blog. And shockingly, I’m totally ok with that.

As I’ve blogged, while it would have been nice to make money, it’s become less and less important. I’ve found that having a voice and allowing others to feel comfortable to share their voices has been the best thing to come out of this blog. Maybe one day I’ll make a couple of dollars on here, but I really haven’t worried too much about trying to do that.

So I’ve talked about where I thought 3 years ago where I’d be today. Now to look toward the future. Where will I be in 3 years from now?

I’m hoping that I will still be blogging in 3 more years. I’d like to still be blogging 5 days a week, but I don’t want to stress out about that. Who knows where I’ll be in 3 years. I’ve seen other bloggers decrease their blogging when major life events happen (like getting married and having kids). Maybe something big like that will have happened for me in 3 years?

While I hope to be at a steady and healthy weight in 3 years, I have no idea if that will happen. I’d love to be at a “normal” weight and it is possible to lose my excess weight within 3 years. But I don’t know if that is in the cards for me. No matter my weight, in 3 years I want to be in a place where I am more comfortable with my body and appearance than I am right now.

And I’d love to have all my credit card debt gone in 3 years. I crunched the numbers and it may be possible. It won’t be easy at all. But there’s a small chance that it can be gone in 3 years. And even if it isn’t gone, it would be nice to have it at a much smaller number than where it is right now.

It’s so crazy to think that I’ve been blogging for almost 10% of my life! I love that I have this documentation of my life. When I was a teenager I kept diaries. I have them safe in my house right now. I did put them in waterproof sealed bags so I can’t look at them without breaking the seal. But I did go through them before sealing them and loved that I had all of that saved to re-read again. This is the same thing. It’s digital and public (so a bit more censored than my diaries), but it still allows me to reflect back and be proud of what I’ve done.

Here’s to the next 3 years of Finding My Inner Bombshell!