Adulting: Money Saving Challenge

This post is a little unusual for the blog, but I think it goes well with my 2017 One Word Resolution and 30 Before 35 goals. Plus, because the country seems constantly in peril these days, it seemed like a good time to talk about personal finances – a.k.a. saving money for both adventure! and rainy days (or unforeseen catastrophe).

Making time for creative work, geekery, and traveling is so worthwhile to me, but that also takes money. And yes, I do work a day job and save when and how I can. What I would really like to do though is have a clearer view of my funds and where they’re going.

So for that, I checked out Earnest’s Money Saving Challenge for 2017. They have this neat year-long chart with recommendations on an easy way you can save money for each month, as well as interesting money stats (like the average amount of money people spend on Christmas gifts).

Here’s what my first quarter looks like with my personal goal in March to spend less on treats. This mostly means books because I buy way too many, but it also means like random geeky things like T-shirts and toys. Do I really need another Star Wars shirt…?

gotr-_-earnest-q1The rest of my personal goals were:

  • Review my financials – map it out.
  • Set up an emergency fund.
  • Set up a Big Expenses fund (for travel or more Hamilton tickets)

 

At the start of this post, I said this paired well with my other goal posts, and it does because dealing with your money is like a foundation of Adulting – and it’s really one I’d like to work at. I’m also aware that a lot of what I can do is possible because of my personal circumstances- one of the big ones being I didn’t have to take out student loans for college. So I at least don’t have that debt to worry about, but I know it is a very common thing for most people.

Setting up small but achievable saving goals like this can help with that, and there are other options – like Earnest’s student loan refinancing. Personally, I’m just trying to be better about knowing where my money is going and keeping to more consistent saving habits. And besides, better saving does also mean more cash in the future for the really fun stuff – like going to Comic Con or booking that flight to New Zealand for the most epic of LOTR sightseeing trips.

If you’re interested in making your own Money Saving Challenge sheet, here’s the full sheet. March, June, September, and December are for you to make your own!

earnest_2017_moneysavings_challenge_nottitle_x2_v02

2017: One Word Resolution

Just like last year, I’m discussing my One Word Resolution here instead of at A Nudge in the Right Direction. But my year-in-review/Bye 2016 is over there if you want to see all the shenanigans that happened last year! (Spoiler: it was a lot. I did 3 out-of-state trips!)

15803554_994551610688288_3912121401657524224_n

Best 9 on my Insta for 2016

Some background: for the last few years, I’ve picked a one word to be my touchstone for the year to come. The word is less specific than individual New Year’s resolutions, but I like having something broad to guide and center me as I work through 2017.

I knew what word I wanted before December was over, but I’ve found Susannah Conway’s free workbook useful in the past, especially if you have no idea or several ideas you’re trying to narrow down.

My word for 2017 is:

REST

It’s funny because in reviewing my 2016 One Word post, I see I picked last year’s word, Intent, because I wanted to save more of my energy while remaining focused. I see now that I really should’ve prioritized the energy-saving part.

Thanks to the dramatic ups and downs of last year, I’m feeling even more stretched thin this January than I did at the start of 2016. And while I know moving forward, there’s only going to be a greater need for vigilance and resistance (I’m American and understandably concerned about the state of my nation), I know I won’t be useful if I’m burnt out. I want to make a stronger effort to protect my “me” time this year.

I don’t regret any of the things I committed to last year, but I know going into this one that I have to set better boundaries when I know I’m running on fumes. Rest is important for health, creativity, and building rebellions. 😉 When I looked to the tarot for guidance, it pretty much told me I needed to rest to truly enjoy things and that I should self-reflect more, look deeper to see what I need.

Processed with VSCO with lv01 preset

Like last year, I’ve created a Pinterest board for my word. Maybe it’ll help remind you to take a break too.

But don’t worry! That doesn’t mean an end to adventures. It just means I will hopefully be managing my time better.

What’s your Word for the Year?

 

Supplement:
(Music) Take a Break | Hamilton OST

#GivingTuesday

I’ve been remiss and have not blogged for 2 months. Hello new and old followers! Since the last time we were here together, a LOT has happened – the major things being the Presidential Election and I lost my phone. That was actually the beginning and end of my vacation in New York City. Talk about crappy bookends to an otherwise fun trip!

15034808_1849623371935074_3189278362791051264_n

Personally, the Election hit me hard because I tend to be an optimist, albeit a wary one. I like to believe that ultimately people are kinder and smarter than I think. Many of us, I’m sure, grew up on stories where good triumphs over evil, where people find their courage and their hearts and do the right thing. The Election results and some of the atrocious behavior that have come before and after suggest otherwise. It suggests that many of the people in this country – from fear and selfishness, if not outright bigotry – are okay (or at least silently complicit) with blatant intolerance, fear/hate-mongering and a host of -isms that are frankly alarming to list. It was a rude awakening and deeply disillusioning to say the least.

This probably wasn’t the kind of post you were expecting, but the state of my homeland right now is one that makes my very existence (and that of so many other people – friends, strangers, all) even more political than it already was. And thanks to this 10 of Swords turn of events, if I want to be true to the ideals of this nation and the responsibilities of my citizenship, I have to be a more active participant in this democracy. I’ve resolved to do better, to resist. After all, you don’t just abandon the things you care about.

Processed with VSCO with kk1 preset

So, this #GivingTuesday, in the spirit of giving thanks and of fighting for good in these trying times, I wanted to use what small platform I have to highlight some organizations and people making the world a better place. Please donate what you can, if you can. Any little bit helps, and today, especially, there’s a lot of matching donations happening. So you have double the impact.

 

A few, more personal picks

We Need Diverse Books – a grassroots organization working to change the publishing industry so that it produces more and better diverse books, “literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people.”

  • Because representation matters. Diversity is not a trend. It’s real life.

Graham Windham – helping disadvantaged children, families, communities. This is the modern form of the orphanage Eliza Schuyler Hamilton helped establish.

  • You all know how much I love Hamilton, but his wife led a remarkable, albeit quieter, life as well. She pushed past her grief and got to work, establishing the first private orphanage in New York City. Her legacy continues today.

The Erythromelalgia Association – promoting research and awareness of Erythromelalgia, a rare disorder that essentially causes burning pain in the extremities. There is currently no cure and no one way to treat it.

  • One of the smartest, kindest, funniest people I met through the online book and writing community suffers from EM, and it was through her that I first learned about it. I donate in support of her.  For all those who have EM, I hope they find a cure or at least a more effective treatment sooner rather than later.

Force 4 Change x UNICEF x Target – ahead of the upcoming Star Wars movie Rogue One, Disney and Star Wars Force 4 Change have partnered with Target to fund-raise for UNICEF through fashion. From now until the end of the year, if you buy a T-Shirt from their Target-exclusive Force4Fashion line, $5 of each shirt sale will go directly to UNICEF for the UNICEF Kid Power initiative.

 

Causes of more Immediacy

Stand with Standing Rock – help Native Americans protect their land and water by supporting their protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline. You can find out more about the issue by checking out #NoDAPL.

Flint Water Crisis – It’s been over a year since this story broke, and the residents of Flint, MI still need help getting clean water & dealing with the effects of having contaminated water. Two places where your donations can help:

Foster Campbell for U.S. Senate – Foster Campbell is a Louisiana Democrat running for a Senate seat. Their election is on 12/10, so there’s still time to try to flip this in his favor. His election would help defend against a filibuster-proof Senate.

 

Non-Monetary ways to help:

  • volunteering your time and/or skills
  • donating gently-used items you don’t use/need
  • calling your government representatives to voice your concerns (accounts like @flippable_org and @roadto18 can help with action items)
  • educate your friends/followers/neighbors/community on important issues
    • no one likes hard conversations but sometimes they need to be had for growth
  • signal-boosting organizations so they get as much exposure as possible

 

One of the best ways to combat despair, helplessness, and the bad, is to put more good in the world. Let’s all strive to be both more compassionate and more courageous. We’re stronger together. And thank you. Rise up.

schuyler-sisters

 

P.S. While most of the featured organizations overlap, there are a few more book/writing related ones I included on the #GivingTuesday post at A Nudge in the Right Direction. Take a look if donating to those type of organizations interests you!

The 30 List

As I wrote last week, I wanted to post an updated “30 Before 30” list now that I’m 30. A few of the items I didn’t complete have migrated to this new list while others haven’t after my re-evaluation.

If you remember my original 30 Before 30 post, I first read about the idea from Katy Upperman. When she passed her deadline, she changed her list into a “Life List,” which I also loved. I’m terrible at setting down goals or even writing New Year’s Resolutions. So having a Life List is a great way of keeping things I want to do in mind and on track.

But I’m not quite ready to have an open deadline yet. I’m updating my 30 Before 30 list into a 30 Before 35 one. There are definitely a few things I’d like to try or work on in the next 5 years. I figure this will give me some focus and motivation.

And again, I understand some of these items are out of my control or highly dependent on other factors, but I think it’s good to have it out there. Like making a wish.

30list

Without further ado, here’s the list:

  1. Road trip up the Pacific Coast Highway.
  2. Finally read Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.
  3. Go on a writers’ retreat.
  4. Finish book trilogies: Graceling Realm, Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Lynburn Legacy.
  5. Tour the White House.
  6. See a ballet.
  7. Rehaul my closet.
  8. Finish a manuscript.
  9. Learn calligraphy.
  10. Read Jellicoe Road.
  11. Take Loki to the beach.
  12. Make Magic Coffee.
  13. Wander Iceland.
  14. Have Dole Whip in Hawaii.
  15. Get my own place.
  16. Paint a portrait of my dog.
  17. Write a short story & sub it.
  18. Visit The Ripped Bodice.
  19. Sell more poems.
  20. Read Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird.
  21. Develop a consistent workout habit.
  22. See the Winchester Mystery House.
  23. Explore more National Parks.
  24. Prune my bookshelves.
  25. Create a gallery wall.
  26. Attend a geeky convention that isn’t SDCC.
  27. Tour Mount Vernon and Monticello.
  28. Learn to read tarot.
  29. Put together a poetry chapbook.
  30. Go to Disneyworld.

I will be updating the list at the 30 Before 35 tab, and you’ll be able to find my new list-relevant posts under the 30 Before 35 tag.

 

Here’s to many more adventures!

 

What’s on your 30 list for the next 5 years?

Reflecting on 30 Before 30

Today is my 30th birthday, which is weird only in that I still don’t feel like an “adult.” I guess no one really does even when they are. It’s also weird to think I’ve been on this good earth for 3 decades!

Since it’s a Tuesday, I celebrated with friends this past weekend with food and especially desserts, as well as a good dose of book discussion – which is to say, a few of us had some strong words to say about Harry Potter & the Cursed Child.

That said, my 30th birthday also marks the “conclusion” of my 30 Before 30 project.

I say conclusion with quotation marks because I’m obviously not going to stop working towards these goals just because I’m 30 now. But I do want to reflect a little about what I managed to do and how I want to proceed from here.

Here is my list as it stands.

  1. Road trip up the Pacific Coast Highway.
  2. Order a subscription box. (Owlcrate!)
  3. Finally read Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.
  4. Attend San Diego Comic Con.
  5. Attend a music festival. (Coachella x2)
  6. See a Broadway musical on Broadway. (the brilliant Hamilton- off & on Broadway)
  7. Go on a spontaneous vacation. (New Orleans with the ConSquad)
  8. Visit Harry Potter Wizarding World /Harry Potter Studio Tour. (The Los Angeles park)
  9. See something Shakespeare performed in London. (Coriolanus w/ Tom Hiddleston)
  10. Go on a writers’ retreat.
  11. Sell a poem. (Actaeon!)
  12. Vacation with my friends. (East Coast trip! NOLA!)
  13. Attend a book convention. (Does YALLWest count?)
  14. Visit Hamilton Grange (finally!!)
  15. Finish book trilogies: Graceling Realm, Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Lynburn Legacy.
  16. Visit the White House.
  17. Rehaul my closet.
  18. Go to Italy.
  19. Finish a manuscript.
  20. Watch a big game at a sports bar. (The 2014 World Cup)
  21. Learn calligraphy.
  22. Read Jellicoe Road (finally!). (Reading it now.)
  23. Ride a mule down into the Grand Canyon.
  24. Bonfire on the beach. (My 29th Birthday!)
  25. Participate in a podcast. Done (1)done (2), and done (3)! Done (4)!
  26. Have a summer movie marathon. (Star Wars movie marathon)
  27. Visit The Last Bookstore.
  28. Take Loki to the beach.
  29. Visit the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
  30. Make magic coffee.

There are a few items I’m currently working on (I’m reading Jellicoe Road now), and there are a few things I’m looking forward to repeating (Hamilton, again – all day every day). I think overall, I didn’t do too shabby in the past year, though I really could’ve planned my reading schedule better to get the reading goals in.

I’m most pleased by No. 11; I was able to sell a poem. That goal was one that wasn’t in my control, and I still can’t believe it happened – and that it happened with my first poem out. Way to set a high bar! Beyond that, working towards that has pushed me to submit more and to write more – and I’m pleased to be doing that.

Next week, I will be posting a new/updated list as a 30 before 35. I hope this might inspire you to make your own list or to set a few goals of your own. Thanks for joining me on this journey!