Home > Archive: January, 2018

Archive for January, 2018

So much big news!

January 28th, 2018 at 01:34 am

It's been quite a three days since I last posted here!

I'm tempted to leave my big news for last, but it did come first chronologically, soo....

On Wednesday my supervisor scheduled a check-in. It wasn't our usual day but I figured since I was traveling Thursday she was just having it a day early. (Even though we usually just skip it if we're busy on Thursday.)

I get in her office ready to talk about my work and she has a big grin on her face. She had good news for me: a promotion and a raise!

I am being promoted from copywriter to associate content director, and my 10% raise takes me to just over $75K annually!

I was so ecstatic, I almost forgot to ask what the job entails. Big Grin She said a lot of it I'm doing already, but that we'll finalize the job description soon.

Then my mentor (my supervisor's boss) met with me. He said the same thing. He also said a lot of people went to bat for me, and that he basically made up a new title for me, which is why there isn't a job description. The next logical level was senior copywriter, and he felt like I was already doing work above that job description, so he made up a half-step to content director.

So yeah, feeling on top of the world. Smile The amazing timing means that NT's company moving to biweekly paychecks should no longer have an impact on our budget, AND we'll have his two extra paychecks a year! The first one comes in April.

My raise is retroactive to Jan. 1, so my next paycheck will be awesome but not representative. Smile

So I get home that night and ordinarily we'd toast a success like that with sparkling wine, but I'd designated it my no-drinking day. That was OK, I didn't really need a drink to make it feel special anyway! Smile Plus I had to get to bed early so I could get up super early for my business trip.

The Memphis work trip went really well, good meeting with our client. My promotion won't be announced until Monday, so I kept it under wraps. I had a great time bonding with two co-workers, one of whom is friends with my fave band. (He showed me some texts from the lead singer and it felt like a new level of cyberstalking them. Big Grin) I feel closer to them and we also now feel determined to take creative risks together at work.

Meanwhile back in Minneapolis, AS had been seriously considering a membership at a co-working space. It seems like a great place, and they had a limited number of "founding member" spots, so she asked if she could bite the bullet and sign up. NT and I agreed, so she's now in. The place opens in March and her membership officially starts then. It was $1800 for a year. It would be more if she wasn't a founding member, and now her membership will never go up and she gets some added perks. Considering this will be a $25K+ quarter, it's a good time to make a big investment like this. It put our shared spending in the hole, but we know there are payments coming soon so we're not worried.

When I got home Friday (it was a 24-hour trip), AS and I talked about ways to apply our marketing/communications/writing chops to helping NT with his hat business (kind of a side hobby of his). We wrote up a lot of ideas, and that night we had a date at a new vegetarian restaurant in the neighborhood, so we took the opportunity to go over it. It was really fun and we figured out some next steps to hopefully help take his business a little farther.

On the making-friends front, not only did I get closer to my co-workers, I continued messaging with my new Canadian friend, and I have plans to hang out with another friend at Monday's show (the last one of my fave band's residency). While we were messaging about that, I mentioned two other acts I was considering checking out in March, and he told me about two others, one in February and one in March. So now we have four potential reasons to see each other--and four new musical acts I could check out. So feeling really good about my social prospects and branching out in my experiences.

Today hasn't been super thrilling -- had to catch up on menu planning and grocery shopping and budgeting. But I got all that done. Tonight I'll likely do a workout, then a bunch of work on my novel writing class assignment.

I did order a couple more things for our emergency preparedness kit: rope, water purification capsules, duct tape and a really long-shelf-life brand of bread. Smile

Tomorrow AS and I have our ladies' brunch, and Monday I get to see my fave band one more time in January. Smile

Goals, goals, goals (what else?)

January 24th, 2018 at 04:35 pm

The kids actually had a snow day yesterday, which hardly ever happens in Minnesota! I could have taken them to daycare, but I decided to let them have a snow day the way I would've when I was a kid; playing in the yard, having hot cocoa, lazing around getting bored. Smile So I stayed home so AS wouldn't be stuck taking care of them alone. It was a good day.

I did a sort-of work from home, half PTO day. My goal for the day was no phone or computer after work, so I logged off everything at 5:30. I kept an online recipe up while I cooked dinner, but after that I put my computer away.

I lazed around quite a bit myself during the day, but I also started working on the weekly assignment for my class, and that night I read more of the book on book-writing.

I'm doing well on my new impromptu goal of making friends; I've been Facebooking with the Canadian and texting with the other lady I met. I also found a couple of shows I might want to go to in March, which will be good things to invite people to.

I think that's about it for me. Today's goal is no drinking. I have one more week of doing each of my healthy goals once per week; in February it goes up to twice per week. It's felt really easy this month so we'll see how I do when I double the goal.

I talked to AS about her goals on the way to work, and she's taking a very similar approach this year, trying to create incremental habits that become part of her routine. It really does feel like the way to go!

Ask and ye shall receive (friends)!

January 23rd, 2018 at 06:06 pm

Last night was a good 'un for making me feel less friend lite!

It didn't start out promising; three of the four friends who swore they'd come to the show flaked on getting their tickets far enough in advance, despite my warnings that these shows were selling out.

Then we had a blizzard in Minneapolis. AS and I took the light rail so we were fine, but I wondered if my last friend, a co-worker, would be able to get out in her car. But she made it! Even though we didn't hang out a ton that night, at least she was the first person I invited to attend these five shows who actually showed up. (This was the fourth show, so clearly there's been much flaking.)

When we got there, AS spotted another superfan from Canada she'd met last year at a show. She was there alone, so AS got her and introduced her to me, and we ended up spending the whole show together, first at a table and then standing right up by the stage (even though it was a sold-out show, the weather made it a light crowd, so I got SUPER close). She and I friended each other on Instagram and Facebook and she also connected me to a woman in Portland OR who's also a superfan of the group. So, while not in-town friends, I have a few more connections, and since the Canadian and I both tend to travel to see this band (we were both in NYC in 2017 but didn't know each other then!), there's a chance we'll get to meet in person again.

AS also encouraged me to text the lady I'd met at last Monday's show (I'd exchanged numbers but neither of us had gotten in touch). So I texted her a pic of the band and just said "Guess where AS and I are? Smile" She wrote back pretty soon and suggested getting together for coffee, so this morning I threw out a few dates in February. So we'll see if that turns into anything, but at least it's promising!

Thursday I'm on a business trip and it's the first one that another co-worker has gone on, so there's some chance of bonding with him even though it's just an overnight trip and we probably won't want to stay out super late. Coincidentally he's good friends with the main members of my fave band, so not only is he nice, it would up my chances of getting to be around them! Smile

My friend with the boyfriend has definitely bought her tickets for the last show next Monday, so hopefully she'll show up for that! And she's scheduled a brunch with a group of ladies for the Sunday before, so we might get to see each other two days in a row. (Plus I can put out feelers with some of the other women in the group, several of whom I'd gladly be closer friends with, to maybe set up some other fun times with them.)

I'm glad my little bit of effort has paid off so quickly; immediate progress is always a good motivator to keep doing something. Smile

Goals stuff and other news: paychecks, making new friends, etc.

January 22nd, 2018 at 11:06 pm

Over the weekend I reorganized the basement closet, making room for an eventual preparedness kit and bottled water. I also moved a bunch of yard sale stuff down there. After we have the sale in May, we'll have tons of room in that closet!

I missed the chat for my online class but read the transcript later. I also read some more of my novel-writing book and got through a lot of editing on my novel. I started the character arc spreadsheet but didn't make any progress. I haven't read the assignments for this week because I was hoping to do more with the characters, but I don't want to get behind, so I think I'll just move on to this week's exercises.

Today was my no-social-media-at-work day for the week. I mostly succeeded. I did go on Twitter briefly to see how the bus system was coping with our blizzard. And my work officially closed at 3pm, so I got on social earlier than usual. I still count it, though!

Couple other news items:
- I decided to cancel my web hosting for I have too many other goals this year and too many things I'm spending my money on. I downloaded a copy of all my entries so if I want to refer back to them or reuse them for anything, I can.

- NT got notice that his company is moving to biweekly instead of twice-monthly paychecks. This is a pain because his paychecks will be smaller, and several months are cutting it very close on expenses vs. income. In June we'll have three paychecks, so I may just have to float a small deficit or something. I'm not sure how I'll handle it yet. He gets his first paycheck of this sort this Friday...I'm not sure what it means that he's already had one paycheck at the twice-monthly's all very confusing! But I know we'll adjust eventually.

- One of my best friends, who I realized I spend a lot of my time and attention on, has a boyfriend now, and is going through a honeymoon phase where it's hard to find time to hang out. Which is totally fine and cool -- I tended to do that at the start of new relationships too -- except it's made me realize how much of my social life depended on her! I had another friend I hung out with quite a bit who moved to Indiana last year, and another who moved to Missouri the year before that.

I have lots of people I like, friendly acquaintances, but not people I can just call on to hang out with for hours. So I'm trying to think of people I can cultivate more of a hanging-out friendship with.

Oddly enough, one of the days my friend flaked on me, AS and I met two strangers at the show we were attending, and I got one of their numbers because we hung out all night with them and they were really fun. So I may text her and see if I get any response. Of course one meeting is too soon to tell if we'd become close friends, but maybe she'd want to hang out and we could see what happened.

I have a couple of other people I like very much who might hang out with me more if I put more effort into finding things for us to do together, so I'm going to try that as well. I do like hanging out with my downstairs neighbors but they've been super busy with new business ventures and are also dating someone. But maybe at some point they'll be good prospects again.

So hopefully I can fix this lack! It's one of those weird things that I didn't know I was letting other friendships languish until these three ladies withdrew from my life in one way or another. Now my friend with the boyfriend isn't gone, and I'm sure the relationship will reach an equilibrium soon, but I feel like I need to work on strengthening my social network now that I see its weaknesses.

Progress on goals, more AS income, etc.

January 19th, 2018 at 07:12 pm

I successfully completed my two other weekly tasks of no phone/computer after work Wednesday (the only exception was I watched a bit of a show on my phone when I couldn't get to sleep that night) and no social media at work on Thursday.

I also read about 1/3 of a book on novel-writing. AS and I went in on a deal from Writer's Digest where we got like 10 books (some physical some e-book) for $65 or so. I picked up one at random and ended up getting really into it. Some good advice so far! I've also been writing character arc descriptions for my novel-finishing class assignment, but it's more complicated than I first thought (writing them is making me question some bigger structural issues about my book), so I don't know if I'll complete the assignment. But I've got a few days (the next assignment posts Monday), so maybe I'll have a breakthrough this weekend. At least I'm working and thinking and trying to be creative; that's really the point of this anyway. Smile

We didn't come under budget on groceries this week, but we're doing pretty well on shared spending money, so I ordered a couple more emergency preparedness items anyway: a butane-fueled burner and canisters of butane. Came to a little over $50. Next week I think I'll try to get a plastic bin and some of the water/groceries. This weekend I want to go down to the basement and see if I can clear out some space for storing our supplies.

AS got another payment, and our kitchen reno savings are now above $20K! She also accepted a quick-turn assignment that is her highest-paying to date (even higher than an entire semester of teaching): $7,000! Her first-quarter earnings look like they might hit $25K, which is crazy unprecedented. Her record quarter is a bit over $23K, and that was for a fourth quarter, which is 4 months long (Sep-Dec) vs. the 3 months (Jan-Mar) of the first quarter.

I don't know what this will mean for her annual salary. I do know her fourth quarter will be lower if she accepts a second teaching position, as she's considering, so maybe it'll end up that her earnings are front-loaded, sort of the opposite of what usually happens. I know I can't get used to this level of pay, but it is exciting!

As for vacations, we've pretty much decided not to attempt the UK this year, since we're saving so hard for the kitchen. We're contemplating a couple of other warm-weather holidays, such as tacking on a week at a Virginia beach location after my niece's wedding in August, or accompanying AS to Incline Village for her college residency in July if she decides to do that again. So we'll see. I haven't decided what my solo trip will be. I'm kind of waiting to see what shows my fave band books for the year and where; right now they don't have anything scheduled much past the current bunch of St. Paul shows that I've been going to. AS is vaguely considering a writer's retreat for her solo trip but that's not a solid decision as of yet. NT has his planned for March; he just needs to actually book it. I might want to tack some time onto one of my Memphis business trips this year and see if the family can join me down there; it's a neat city, plus AA really wants to see the MLK museum. So that's another possibility.

Progress on goals, healthy habits, savings, etc.

January 17th, 2018 at 04:39 pm

Over the weekend we received a few of the emergency supplies I ordered. I need to put in batteries, figure out how to use them and where to put them, etc. For now they're just in a box in the dining room. I'll try to keep the grocery budget low so I can get a few more this week.

I joined a live chat for my novel-finishing class and it made me consider some of my characters and how I could make them more interesting. I'm also going through my novel, getting reacquainted, reviewing AS's feedback and doing a light copyedit as I go. I've done 87 of 299 pages. (It started at about 306 pages, so it's also shrinking as I cut unnecessary copy.)

Yesterday my task was no drinking. Warm ginger juice and sleepytime tea again; it might be a new rut for now, but at least it's a healthy rut. Smile Tonight my task is no phone/computer time after work and Thursday will be no social media at work.

I finally yesterday had a day where I did all four of my healthy habits that served me so well last year: morning strength-training exercises, no breakfast, at least 10K steps, no night snacks. I'd weighed in over 135, the highest I'd been in a while, and decided enough's enough; I have to stop making excuses and get back to what worked. Today I weighed in at 133.2, so hopefully I'm on the path back to getting under 130.

Our UK rental income hit that bank account, and AS got a nice freelance payment, so I put some money in savings. US$562 went into UK savings, which is our emergency fund; $300 went toward kitchen reno savings, and I've just started saving up for vacations, so $300 went into a vacation fund. NT is already starting to plan his next solo trip (Colorado in March) so I need to start putting money aside.

We're now at:
$9,562.50 EF
$19,900 reno fund
$300 vacay fund

Our EF goal is $10K, so we're really close! Our kitchen reno goal is $30K, so we've got a ways to go on that. Our total savings are at $29,762.50.

Other random happenings in the past few days:
- I moved a bunch of books and bookcases and taped off the baseboard so NT could finish painting my book nook. It was a dark dull green and then it was half and half (he started a few months ago but ran out of paint); now it's all a nice cream color. It's still a bit haphazard up there -- the furniture is mismatched, I have some boxes of papers I need to clear out, and the books aren't all organized -- but it looks way better. It's so low on my priorities list for home improvement, but this paint job makes it feel nicer. We chose paint colors for the bedroom, so that room will get a little lift next weekend. It's another space that needs a lot of work, but this is a quick way to make it a little better, since it'll likely be a year or more before we prioritize it.

- I went to see my fave band for the third time this month on Monday. Two more shows that I already have tickets to! I've had friends say they were going to the past ones and every single person flaked except AS. She can't go to the next one, but I have about five friends who say they're going, so hopefully at least one of them won't flake and I'll have someone to hang out with. If not, I'm going anyway. Smile

- AS and I ordered new glasses. It came to about $525 each. Yikes! I would have thought it was crazy if PatientSaver hadn't said hers were $400. Mine is covered by flex spending, but now I only have about $70 of flex left for the year, so copays and any other expenses will pretty much need to be out of pocket. Here's hoping for a healthy year! But I think I made a good choice with glasses that will give me a new look. And I changed my hair style when I got my hair cut Saturday. I can't wait to get the glasses so I can start 2018 with a somewhat new look. Smile

- AS now has nearly $18K worked or booked for the first quarter! As a reference point, she made about $13K in Q1 2017 and less than $6K in Q1 2016. Her previous high first quarter was $19.5K in 2015 (kind of a fluke). Since we're only midway through the first month, it's hard to imagine her not breaking that record. But she does have to be very careful about accepting things for the next three months because her time is almost all booked up, so it won't be a TON more, I don't think.

Hmm, I think that's all. 2018 is off to a brisk, but good, start for us!

Progress on goals

January 13th, 2018 at 05:40 am

I know my posts are very repetitive; when trying to establish habits it's kind of mind-numbing to track! Smile

Thursday my task was no phone or computer time once I left work. I did succeed for the most part. I woke up and had about an hour of insomnia at 3 a.m., so at 4 I started watching a show on my phone and managed to get back to sleep after half an hour. I didn't want to, but I also didn't want to lose any more sleep, so I feel OK about that.

Yesterday I refined my emergency preparedness shopping list a bit, and after we did our weekly grocery shopping today (so I could see how much money we had left in the budget), I ordered the first few items for our kit. I used $69 of surplus grocery money and $40 of shared spending to buy:
- 2 first-aid kits (a larger home one and a small one for our "bug out bag")
- 2 flashlights
- 1 combo knife/whistle/firestarter
- 1 crank radio/flashlight/charger
- 10 foil mylar emergency blankets
- 75 "stormproof" matches and a waterproof container

I also looked into first aid/CPR classes in the area and found some Red Cross ones. AS and NT expressed interest in taking them too. We're thinking about taking a health day off work and taking one together; it runs from 9am to 3:30pm. I'm waiting to hear about business travel in February, and once I know what the days are, I'll see about taking a different day off and scheduling the Red Cross class. They're $80-$120 per person depending on level of detail and whether they include pediatric first aid, so we'll probably go with the higher-end ones that include pediatric. (There are free classes through other organizations but all are either filled up for the foreseeable or they're not geographically convenient for us.)

As for my novel writing class, I finished the "query hook" (brief teaser description of my novel) and gave feedback to quite a few fellow students on theirs. I went through a checklist and mentally answered the questions to make sure I didn't have any doubts about the message, purpose, what's special, etc. Now I'm going to start just going through re-reading my novel, making any easy changes that occur to me as I read, and deciding which of AS's edits to take. I'll start that a bit tonight and try to finish during my three-day weekend (I have Monday off for MLK Day).

Oh, and a couple bits of incremental progress on other goals: NT reached out to a designer to see if she'd consult with us on our kitchen redesign. And we pretty much decided we wouldn't go for a UK trip this year; we might tack a week at a beach or resort onto my niece's wedding in August. No firm plans other than that, but it's a bit of decision-making progress at least.

Progress on goals: social media, novel class, drinking, etc.

January 11th, 2018 at 06:24 am

I've had a pretty good couple days in terms of my goals. I wrote the "query hook" blurb for my novel class and gave some classmates feedback on theirs. I at least opened my manuscript and figured out what version I'd be working from. (Turns out AS did edit about a quarter of it, so I'll use that version and review her changes.)

Yesterday was a no-social-media-at-work day, and I succeeded at that. It actually was pretty easy, so much so that occasionally I'd have a moment where I feared I'd clicked one of the sites automatically. But I never did.

Today was a no-drinking day. I liked the warm ginger drink and sleepytime tea last time, so I had those again.

Tomorrow is no phone or computer after work, so I've been kind of getting it out of my system today. Smile But I do feel like I've been spending less time on social sites, at least, so maybe these random days away are helping me be less addicted to them.

I finished the UK taxes for another year. The next tax year finishes in early April. I would absolutely love to list and sell the UK flat before then so we'd only have one more year of taxes, but I don't think we'll be able to do that. Still, I've got a note on the calendar to check in with the management company in February to see if the housing market is any better.

I seem to have restarted some of my good habits, namely my A.M. strength training exercises. And AS and I have walked to work three days this week, though we're getting another cold snap that may thwart our walks. But NT is interested in subscribing to Gilad workouts on Amazon, so that could be another way to get in shape on these really cold days. He's almost over his cold, so hopefully soon we'll do that.

I've had the same hairstyle for a couple years now, but I've had a sudden urge to get bangs. Our regular haircut day is this Saturday, so I might as well take the plunge. I also need new glasses. So I've been looking for good frames and trying to picture them with bangs. I hope I find a cute style and cute glasses. It would be nice to have a new look, though I do like the one I've been sporting. It's just getting a tiny bit old.

I got my eyes tested last year but never got around to buying glasses (so many other expenses kept coming up). So I probably need a new test and prescription. For some reason I hate getting my eyes tested, but I know I need a new prescription; I actually can't read up close with my current glasses, and I can no longer compensate for seeing farsighted. (I think I have astigmatism now in addition to being nearsighted in one eye and farsighted in the other. I'm trying to remember what the last doc said; I think it was that I needed progressive lenses?)

I got a free lunch today; my mentor/boss took me and my other boss out on a whim. I was kind of hoping there would be raise/promotion talk, but it was just a friendly get-together. Still enjoyed it though!

This weekend NT and I aim to get the walls of my book nook painted. He already painted some of the walls but there are a few with bookcases full of books against them. So I just need to help him take all those books out, move the cases, and tape off the edges. It's really not much painting once we get that done. It'll be nice to have it all one color, even if it's still not all that decorated. (I've just got random free/cheap furniture in there.)

I also want to continue my emergency preparedness planning this weekend and read through my novel, applying AS's edits and seeing how it hangs together. (Since I combined two years' NaNoWriMo into one, I've never read it all together to see if it flows OK.)

I guess that's all my news for now!

Progress on goals: emergency preparedness, guitar, novel

January 8th, 2018 at 10:34 pm

I spent several hours yesterday researching emergency preparedness and came up with a pretty comprehensive shopping list, which I'll purchase incrementally when we have spare money in the budget. I started looking at written plans and what documents we need to include in our kit, but I'll need to work on that some more.

I also need to do location-specific research on what disasters I should prep for and how. And I want to look for CPR and general preparedness classes I can take locally, hopefully for cheap or free.

I finished signing up for guitar lessons; I'll be going every Tuesday in February. They'll set me up with a loaner guitar to take home and practice with, which is great because it'll give me a chance to try it out and see if it's really something I want to continue before I commit to buying one myself.

I can pay for these lessons with my spending money, but if I wanted to continue, it would be more than my spending money can handle, so I'll need to chat with the family about it.

My online novel-finishing class officially opened today. I took a survey the teach posted and read and responded to messages on the class forum. This week I want to reread the novel I'm going to work on, because I haven't touched it in a while. I'll also complete the first two assignments: writing a short "query" blurb about the novel and answering a list of questions about the novel.

Other random happenings: NT was able to download the tax software to his computer, so I'll try to work on UK taxes this week.

And I got a notice that my domain will be expiring soon. I need to decide whether I'm going to keep it active. I paid $100 for hosting last year and don't think I published a single new post, so I'd need to think about whether I really have enough new stuff to say about personal finance to make it worth my while. Especially with possible guitar classes eating up funds. Is there a way to archive a site so I don't lose the posts I did do, but don't have to pay to host it anymore? I wonder...

Progress on two more goals: less screen time, learning guitar

January 6th, 2018 at 10:29 pm

Last night I was successful in not using my phone or computer at all after work. Well, I did play music on my phone on the way home from work, but that was it. There were times I felt tempted but it wasn't too bad.

I didn't even take my phone to bed, which I usually do so I can watch a show on mute until I fall asleep. Luckily I didn't have trouble falling asleep and didn't wake up in the middle of the night like I do sometimes.

Today's task was to sign up for guitar lessons for February. I filled out an online request form and the store will get in touch with me, apparently. So I'm not quite signed up and won't check off that task, but at least I did what I could on it.

I also started NT's UK taxes (ugh), but couldn't get the software to download on my work computer (which is the main computer I use at home too). So I'll have to get NT to try and download it onto his. At least I gathered all the mortgage and rent info to plug into the software once we get it up and running. This just has to be done by the end of the month.

We're having a quiet day at home. We'd arranged play dates for both kids with friends, but one got sick and the other flaked. I don't want the kids to grow up, but one benefit will be when they can handle their own social life! There's so much work on our end to get them together with their friends. I was lucky when I was a kid and had friends on my same block.

Tomorrow's task toward a goal is to start researching emergency preparedness. I'm looking forward to it!

First step on another goal (less drinking) and other trivia

January 5th, 2018 at 05:04 am

Today was the night I designated to not have any alcohol. I had a warm (nonalcoholic) ginger drink and a cup of sleepytime tea instead. I've developed a cold, so I didn't feel up to trying any other relaxation techniques, but I will try some on other nights.

The goal tomorrow is no phone or computer time after work. So once my work day is done, no more checking or using either device for the rest of the night.

We'll see how I feel about that, but so far, rotating my bad habits so I can have some but not all of them seems to be a good way to dip my toe into reducing/omitting them.

My goals this weekend are to book guitar lessons for February and start researching emergency preparedness. (I also hope to get the UK taxes done; they just need doing before the end of the month so we don't get fined.) We also have some activities for the kids planned, so it will be a brisk weekend! And poor Anitra has been trying to get the cigarette smell out of our basement since her mom left, and NT has a couple of meetings or other activities.

The good news side of things:

AS's mom's visit is over! It was challenging in many ways but it could've been a lot worse.

We're a little in the hole on shared spending but only because we had to reorder the kids' beds and request a refund, which hasn't come through. If it had, we'd actually be in the positive by about $500. Pretty amazing considering the holidays and everything.

AS's business has started with a rush of offers, and she's already worked or booked nearly $14,000 of jobs for the next couple months! As a reference point, her first quarter of last year grossed less than $13,000. And we're only 4 days into the quarter! I don't know if it will all get paid in the first three months, but I'm positive she'll book other work in the first quarter as well, so I think it's going to be a big 'un.

She also connected me with one guy she works for (who I actually connected her with initially, when he used to work at my company a couple years ago and used AS as a freelance writer). He's going to need a lot of freelance help and I figured I should pitch in a little extra to try and build up the kitchen reno savings, since my entire paycheck goes to bills, groceries, spending money, retirement etc. So we'll see how that is; if I can juggle it with my regular job without feeling burnt out, it would be awesome to have another income stream. If not, I can always bow out after the first assignment if it proves to be too much.

I think that's all for now; my sleepytime tea plus my cold has got me all dazed so I may be forgetting something.

First step on a 2018 goal: social media at work

January 4th, 2018 at 04:15 pm

I think one mistake I (and probably many other people) make with New Year's goals is try to go 100 MPH on the first day of the year, then get burnt out and/or so intimidated or overhwhelmed that I don't do some of the things.

So this year, I very deliberately plotted out my January with lots of little incremental tasks on my calendar.

Yesterday my task was not to do social media at work. Even though I left early and worked from home part of the day, I succeeded even at home. From when I got on the bus toward work until signing off at 5:30pm, I stayed off Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, SavingAdvice, and for good measure I'm throwing in Yahoo email, Google news and my budgeting spreadsheets, because those are all big time sucks. The only things I allowed myself to look at were Google calendar and Slack (which my household has started using to communicate and plan). And I let myself briefly go into one spreadsheet to help AS with a specific task.

Today, obviously, I'm letting myself back on at work. Smile But that's the point of these incremental goals. In February I'll go up to two days per week for each of these tasks.

Today my task is not to have any alcohol.

I'm also trying to be gradual but persistent about adding back in healthy habits that fell off over the past couple months of 2017. Although not part of my 2018 goals, I want to restore them because they served me so well last year. So I've restarted my weekday morning strength exercises (4 days in a row this week) and skipping breakfast most days (3 days but then I did have a little breakfast today).

I still haven't gotten back into the walking 10K steps habit--I'm going to try for that once temps get back in the teens and 20s, which should hopefully start this weekend.

And I haven't gotten back into not snacking at night; there are still so many snacks in the house from the holidays. As they start to get eaten down, I'll try not to bring more snacks into the house, and gradually I hope to get rid of the night-snacking habit.

Baby steps!

January 2018 debt payments

January 3rd, 2018 at 06:52 am

All our mortgage payments hit:
US: $711 to principal
UK1: $178
UK2: $37
UK3: $40

All told, that's $966 toward debt.

Current debt amounts:
US Mortgage $391,136
Loan from friends (duplex) $9,000
UK Mortgage 1 $33,393
UK Mortgage 2 $7,039
UK Mortgage 3 $7,413
TOTAL DEBT $447,981

Happy New Year! My 2018 goals

January 1st, 2018 at 07:01 am

So here are my goals for 2018. As I've mentioned before, I tried to identify why some of last year's didn't work out, and apply what I learned to creating this year's. The main parameters:
1. It has to be something I'm genuinely interested in doing.
2. It can't depend on anyone else to get done; it has to be something I can control. (Exceptions are the net worth and retirement goals.)
3. There have to be concrete steps to the goal, ways to measure results, or some combination of the two.
4. Preferably, many of the goals will be about slowly creating and building up a habit. I'm interested in behaviors that will continue to benefit me, not just one-off achievements.

So here are my goals, along with the first step if applicable. I've also added reminders to my Google Calendar to prompt me to keep making progress on them, and assess them to see what the next step should be.

Creative - get a novel publishing-ready. Step 1 (Jan): online class (already enrolled)

Creative - learn guitar. Step 1 (Feb): private lessons @TwinTown (borrow guitar).

Health - limit drinking on everyday nights. Step 1: 1 day a week of 0-1 glasses.

Health - limit screen time outside of work. Step 1: 1 night a week of no computer/phone use after work.

Health - Try relaxation/destress tactics on nondrinking/no-screen-time days--tea? Meditation? Reading?

Pragmatic - emergency preparedness. Step 1 (Jan): research on, & Make a kit, make a plan, get informed. First aid training, e.g. CPR.

Work/professional development: Look for class on Agile; see if work will pay for it.

Work/professional development: Start to limit social/personal internet to bathrooms/breakrooms. Step 1 (Jan): Limit it for one day per week.

Financial: Retirement assets to $475K. Net worth to $650K. Bump NT's 401(k) up 2%.

Financial: Kids' savings up to at least $1K per year of age. (SL: $6,000. AA: $8,000.)

Home: Full kitchen renovation. See what other improvements we can save up for after that.

Vacations: UK or warm weather family trip. Solo trips for adults. Weekend at lake. Niece's wedding in Va. in August.