Blogging, Books, Everyday, minimalism, No Spend Challenge, Running

Slacking off = overflow of new stuff

So much going on that I have slacked off a bit.  I was honestly glad to have the No Spend Chanellge over because I was ready to write about something new, but now that it has been over I haven’t wrote anything new!  What gives?  Well I’m still here, and I still have a ton of things on my mind that I can’t wait to let out!  Here is just a little sneak peak of what has been stewing in my brain!

  • We have successfully downsized to be a one car family!  Saving money on our car payments, insurance, and environmental impact.
  • My 101 Photography class had it’s last meeting today.  I really enjoyed the past 6 weeks and can’t wait to start the next class in March.
  • I have run my farthest distance of 10 miles this week and beat my past time recorded two years ago, by 12mins.
  • And with that, I am running my first half marathon on Sunday February the 14th!  And I have serval other races coming up in April and May.
  • Finishing up reading an amazing book called:  “No Impact Man……” by Conlin Beavan.  Can’t wait to talk about what a great read it has been.
  • It’s been two months since I lost my job, and I have finally been able to see how that was a blessing in disguise.  My husband says I seem happier then I have been in a long time.
  • I booked a flight to see my very best friend in Sonoma, CA at the beginning of March.
  • I am also looking to book another trip to Arizona to see my parents, probably in April and my mom is all ready to get her second tattoo with me!
  • I am brainstorming so many other ways that we can have a more positive impact on the environment and/or save money for what is really important.  Looking into things like paper towel alternatives, shopping at farmers markets, using grey water in the toilets and to water plants, planting a vegetable garden that we could use our compost in, mastering how to use a menstrual cup, and canceling cable (again).
  • Also saved one injured kitty in our neighborhood.  Poor thing had a non-weight baring front leg/paw.  Had been walking around our complex for over a week that way.  After about 30mins, of luring with food, I got kitty into our garage and called animal control.

I’m sure there is even more floating around up there but that is what I could regurgitate at the moment.  I’m hoping to write a blog about each of these things really, really soon.  So stay tuned!

No Spend Challenge

The end of the road: Day 30/31

Started off the end of the challenge by receiving a check from our insurance company for an out of network claim.  Got back over $600 and we should have even more coming because 3 of the visits have not been processed yet!  It feels good to go out with a bang!  My husband thanked me tonight for always looking out for us financially.  He says he is always surprised by all the ways I manage to save us money.

Day thirty of The No Spend Challenge requests that we write a page about our experience, so here goes!

Even though I have always been some what of a frugal and very responsible person when it comes to money, I will say that this challenge really helped me to learn some things.  I think the biggest thing that I have learned, which I have mentioned many times through out the month, is that I don’t need to spend money on “stuff” to find/feel happiness.  I have felt more full and content in this last month then I have in a long time.  Coincidentally this has also been the first month, in a very long time, that I have not had to go to work.  In the past, being unemployed was such a scary thought.  Even though my husband brings home a healthy salary and even though we are a very small family (just me and him), I was always so worried about not being able to make ends meet.  Or about having to give up everything and never being allowed to have any fun again.  But neither of those things happened.  Instead we are doing just fine and couldn’t be happier.

More money does not equal more happiness, nor does having more things.  All of that just means more resposiblity and in turn, more stress.  I love living our simply little life.  We spend money where it is important and we save when it is even more important.  We have great balance and I think that’s what life is really about.  Finding balance day in and day out, makes everything seem more peaceful, more doable, and just simpler.  I’m hoping to make this year all about living simpler.

I am also thankful for this challenge because it has given me something to blog about for the passed 30 days.  Having something to focus my time on has also brought me great happiness.  Some days were easier then others to write about, but I still managed to put my spin on each day.  It was a great personal accomplishment and just the jump start that I needed.  Plus it was a perfect example of doing something enjoyable that didn’t cost a thing!  I hope everyone else who participated (or who maybe reading this) finds some personal happiness and learns as much as I did!

No Spend Challenge

Feedback: Day 29

This portion of my blog is directly from The No Spend Challenge, Day 29.  Here is a little personal feedback about my challenge.  Only the answers are my own, the rest was provided by the website.

1. How many days did you participate in this challenge?

A) Just found out about it today
B) 0-3
C) 4-10
D) 11 or more

2. Which of the previous 28 day’s post of The No Spend Challenge did you like best?

Day: __, why?  For me it would have to be all the weekly reflection days.  I really liked being able to look back at all the weeks challenges and see how far I had come.  Sometimes we spend so much time and energy trying to follow each day to the tee that we forget to look back and see how far we have come.  Those days were the most meaningful.

3. If you were writing this challenge for yourself or others what would you change?

I would take out some of the days that seem to repeat themselves.  Some of those days were hard enough and then to have to apply them again was really tricky.  And in place of those days I would maybe add something for the people out there that have very small (maybe child-free) families or that are single.  

4. How did you find out about and The No Spend Challenge?

A) EagleSoarhigher’s Facebook Page
B) Facebook group: Please list which group 
C) Twitter
D) Pinterest
E) Google+
F) Other: Please include in your comment

5. Are you religious? If so, what do you think of a revised No Spend Challenge geared toward your local church?

No, I am not religious.  But I do think that you could apply this challenge to many forms of groups.  Let’s face it, no matter who you are, we can all benefit from learning how to save a little money and live with a little less “stuff”.


No Spend Challenge

Looking back on the month: Day 28

Here we are, day twenty-eight; the end of the month and finish The No Spend Challenge.  The next few days cover reflecting over what we have learned as well as providing feed back for new comers.  I’ve learned a lot about myself and I am proud of myself for what I have accomplished.

I think the biggest thing that I have learned is that I don’t need things to fill my life with happiness.  I have learned to be happy with what I already have and to give away and de-clutter my life from things that don’t.  Over this passed month I have gone through things in my house that I have held onto for over ten years.  Some things I kept but most I donated, recycled or threw away.  And doing so was like a breath of fresh air.  I have more space in my closets and garage.  And I have less things that I have to keep track of and give my energy to.

I have also learned more and more, to not associate deep feelings with things.  Just because I give something away, that someone I love gave to me, doesn’t mean I no longer love or cherish them as a person.  I’m sure whatever it was served its prepose at the time (or maybe it never did) but over the years things change, feelings change, and it can become time to let go.  Maybe only hold onto a couple select items but it’s important to move on from the ones that are just taking up space.  It is a learning process and I did have some bumps along the way too.  There are probably some items in the back of my closet still hiding in order to avoid their demise.  Some clothes that are hoping to become an outfit just one more time.  But that’s ok because it’s not about being perfect; it’s about doing the best you can.

My family (which is just my husband and I) started this year off on a single income.  This was new for us.  Up until a month ago, we had two incomes and never really worried too much about basically doing whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. But life happens and has a way of changing things.  At first I was a little worried.  But as the month progressed, and I followed this challenge, and wrote about our daily accomplishments, it became less scary.  I actually didn’t have to touch our savings at all and even managed to still save a little.  Now at the end of the month, I can see that we are going to be just fine and I feel happier too!

I’m really glad I participated this month.  It was a very positive way to start off the year.  With anything that you do in life, you have to create a solid foundation.  This challenge was just that.  I don’t know if I will follow it as closely each month but what I have learned will stay with me going forward.  It’s like an important volume in the instruction manual of life.

No Spend Challenge

To infinity and beyond: Day 27

Well my worst fear from the other day happened.  I made my new to me recipe, with new to me ingredients, and……. it was not very good at all.  Sad face.  Now I have a couple ingredients that I will probably never use again.  One just had the worst taste (white miso paste), and the other I may use again, but probably not too soon.  I hate wasting food; throwing away perfectly good food (well not good to me) makes me so mad.  I feel like it is the same as burning money.  At least going forward, I will know not to waste my time on any other recipes that require these ingredients.

We are coming to an end of our month long challenge, so now it’s time to prepare for the future.  Day 27 of The No Spend Challenge is about making a budget for the months to come.  Luckily, going into this challenge, we already had a weekly budget in place.  My personal goal was to cut back on the spending that I did outside of our necessities budget.  I have always left a buffer in our account for our wants so that our needs would could still be met without worry.  But now that we are a one income house hold, our wants budget had to shrink a little so that I could still save money and maintain our needs.

I have learned that we don’t really need as much as I thought.  For example, I used to buy a lot of clothes.  In the past I could spend a lot of money on clothes that I probably didn’t even really need.  Now, if it doesn’t bring me absolute joy or fill a huge need, I don’t buy it or I give it away.  Same goes for just various things online.  With things like Amazon, it is so easy to buy a lot of things that most people could live without.  Click and it ships right to your door.  And with delivery getting faster and faster, instant gratification is becoming easier and easier.

I almost see online shopping as the next big evil.  The next “addiction” or at least some people will try to deem it that.  But in the end it is all about self control and self worth.  People are not their things and their things should not define them.  And with that said, making a budget, whether you write it down or use an app, can be a very helpful tool.  It can help you control your spending and increase your worth.

The most important part of that budget, at least according to me, is to always pay yourself first!  Even if it’s just $20 a month.  Then plan for your needs and if there is any left over that would be for your wants.  And with your wants, make sure they bring you joy.  Actual joy.  Not just filling some hole because you are emotional for what ever reason.  Things will not bring you happiness.  Only realizing why you turn wants into needs, will make you happy.  Fill your house and your heart with things that really matter to you.  Maybe memories over material items.  Good luck to everyone in the future, you can do this!

No Spend Challenge

Say Cheese: Day 26

Yesterday went pretty well.  Just had to do the weekly grocery shopping.  Spent about the same as I always do.  I have a couple new recipes I want to try this week and one required some ingredients that I didn’t have.  I like to try new things; especially out of my vegan cookbooks.  I actually got a new one the other day call Vegan Under Pressure by Jill Nussinow.  It’s a cookbook for vegan meals that you can make in your Instant Pot.  But I must confess that I am a little leery when it comes to having to buy new ingredients.  I just worry, that if I don’t like them after I try them, that then I will have spent money on something I may never use again if it’s gross. So we shall see….

Day twenty-six of The No Spend Challenge is about getting crafty!  I’ve always been a very crafty person for as long as I can remember.  For awhile now, I was missing having a creative outlet.  With working and just dealing with everyday life, I could never find time to start a project.  But I started to put the wheels in motion at the end of last year.  I bought myself a Christmas gift of a new Nikon D5500 DSLR camera.  This was my first “big girl” camera.

When I was younger I enjoyed drawing, coloring, making things with clay, writing, and all sorts of other crafts.  I was always in my room creating something.  I would make all of my parent’s birthday and holiday cards.  And from 1st grade all the way through college, I was always in an art class.  I think I got my creativity from my dad.  He would help me with arts fair projects, take me to the art museum as well as take me shopping at art and craft stores for various supplies.

My father was a photographer on the side when I was growing up but I never really took a whole lot of interest in photography then.  He did help me with an entry into an Arts Fair by showing me how to use his camera to take a picture of a rose ( I was 10 years old and I believe I may have won honorable mention for my entry).  Now as an adult I have always found myself taking a ton of pictures with my cell phone.  When ever we go somewhere, especially in nature, I just want to take pictures of everything!  So now (with my newly found time off) was the perfect time to learn how to take really great pictures!  So I signed up for a photography class (not free but well worth it) and I am on week 4 of a 6 week class.  I have learned a lot and, as I have mentioned before, I love to go around town and just spend time walking around looking for great shots.  That part of the hobby/craft is free.  It provides a great means for a free activity as well as a creative outlet.  So far I love it and can’t wait to learn more.  I really can’t wait until I can take a couple trips out of state and to be able to take great pictures of my memories!

If you have a moment, feel free to check out some of my photographs that are mixed into my blog.  They are all under the category of Photography or you can follow me on Instagram @monkeytoesaustin.  Would love any kind of feed back!  And I can’t wait to hear about everyone else’s crafty endeavors!

No Spend Challenge

Now that’s my kind of fun: Day 25

We finished up the rest of our anniversary weekend with minimal damage.  We actually met up with one of our really close friends that was at our wedding and he took us out to dinner.  The only thing we spent money on was some groceries.  The rest of the day we spent just hanging out.

Now onto day twenty-five of The No Spend Challenge.  Another day of free family fun.  For us free date night and free family fun are the same thing.  We don’t have children, so all our time is spent with each other (well not ALL our time, but you know what I mean).  So I think instead of talking about what we do for fun again, I am going to talk about what things I do personally for fun without my husband.

Since most couples have some different interests, I do have things I enjoy doing without him.  The biggest thing that I focus my free time on during the week is my running.  Running is great because for the most part it is free!  Just put on your shoes and head out the door!  I usually run 3-4 times a week.  I am apart of a running group and I am very involved with it.  I manage the social media page for our group; updating information about our runs, up coming races and posting our group pictures.  I love it.  Love the people I get to run with.  I’ve made some really great friends and we have a really great coach too!  And when I am not running with them I am either out by myself or with my running buddy.

My other interests, that occupy my time are, this blog as well as my photography.  Plus, honestly, I love just hanging around the house with my cats and reading or researching new things.  And even though I don’t do it that often, I do enjoy trying new recipes from my assortment of vegan cookbooks!  Although the food does cost money, the actual cooking is good, clean, free fun!  And as the year progresses I hope to learn more and more about myself and what I truly enjoy investing my time in!