Money Monday

Money Monday | Maslow’s Heirarchy

Throughout high school and college, I learned about Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs. Pretty basic concept, you need to take care of your basic needs before you can move onto higher levels. Basically, you’re extreme urge to pee will take preference over your thoughts about a home security system. This is something you might understand if you’ve ever tried to unlock a door and turn off an alarm while swearing at yourself for making it so difficult to get into your own house. 
I’m not sure what level of the Heirarchy paying off student loans is under. I know for me, it’s a safety thing. My other basic needs are being met. I have food and shelter. That is why, under normal circumstances, I tend to make wise (you should probably doubt my wisdom if I’m calling my own choices wise) decisions on my financial health. 
The Heirarchy occasionally kicks my butt. For example, I got some killer food poisoning a few months ago. It was the worst. Good financial decisions? Let’s just say that popsicle companies and cracker companies made some money. But, hey, I saved on gas from not going to work? 
Life just has a way of kicking you down a few notches, which is really noticeable when you’ve clawed your way up there pyramid. I want to feel financial safety so bad. To just get my danged loans paid off. But I know we’ll need new cars soon. I would love some time to really build up emergency reserves or even invest. It’s frustrating because I feel like I’m on the Titanic, I know it’s going down, and I know there aren’t enough lifeboats. 
I’m being dramatic. But seriously, I just don’t want to have debt. I’m so sick of owing money. Paying for things that are done and over with. It’s a liability. And some people are so ok with it. They’ll just have to deal. 

Money Monday

Money Monday | Compounding Interest

I feel like Captain Obvious talking about compounding interest. It’s such a big deal. Pretty simple to understand, only slightly more complicated to do the maths for. You invest money. That money grows by an interest rate. And then when it grows by that rate again, your base money and new money increase based off of that. It’s a beautiful concept (eespecially if you like making money). And if you’ve ever read about compounding interest, you’ve probably heard that the earlier you invest, the better off you are. Time is the part of the equation that can turn a little money into swimming in gold coins like Scrooge McDuck. 
Money is just a tool. Like a shovel. Or a bandsaw. It can help you do amazing things. 
What I’m saying is, there’s more to life than money. No one loves their shovel more than their family. 
But compounding interest applies to way more than money. It’s applicable across your entire life. 
Basically, think about your normal, average day. Maybe you buy a cup of coffee. You can at your desk all day. Work hard. Collapse in front of your TV. Maybe you de-stress with some ice cream. None of those things are inherently bad. But they compound. They build. 
You can’t just “diet” now and then. Your diet is what you eat regularly. If you “diet” one month out of the year, it really doesn’t matter much. It’s what you do regularly that counts. Same with exercise. These things are investments in your health. Make a habit, and statistically, you’ll have more quality at the end of your years. 
Same with relationships. You have to invest time regularly, or they won’t last. 
What matters to you? Where are you investing your life? What does your typical day say about your priorities? 
Mine says I like my job. Which I don’t so much. I’ll have to fix that. 

Money Monday

Money Monday

I’m trying to figure out if I have an end goal. I’m starting to think that I don’t have one. Which is awesome because that means I’m enjoying the process and not putting too much stock in a one time goal (albeit, I’ll be stoked to have my student loans paid off). 
I’ll have to exercise my whole life. I’m cool with that. Jogging is a habit. I’m working on making weight lifting another. 
I hate shopping, but I like looking good, so I’m trying to curate a wardrobe that is full of timeless pieces that I can wear for as long as possible (I feel this may save me money also). 
I hate the idea of dieting as something short term and miserable. A diet is what you eat. If I exercise to feel good, then I should eat to make my body feel good too. Binging on cake does not accomplish that goal. 
I want to make the world around me better than it was before I got there. I’m trying to tie all my goals together. 
I am incredibly blessed. I have a good job with health care. I was blessed with a healthy body and mind (let’s ignore the anxiety). I can’t change what I was given, but I can take care of it. And if I can get myself together enough, maybe I can help other people. 
So what does money have to do with this? Money is an incredible tool. It can buy food and shelter. It can buy some modicum of safety (but let’s be frank, any of us could die at any second regardless of how careful we are). There are so many people that don’t have money, that don’t have that very useful tool. I am fighting to get control of it in my life as much as I can, but it’s amazing how quickly this tool can get used up. I’m an extremely cautious person (benefits of anxiety?) and I’m still overwhelmed by what life can throw at me. A flat tire can ruin your plans. A car accident. A disease. Things totally beyond your control. If my plan continues even to half of the amount I want, my standard of living will still be far above most of the world. I think I can get some semblance of control, but someday, I want to help people  who weren’t given what I was given. I don’t want to forget this struggle and I don’t want to forget that I was blessed (this is not my ability and done by me alone). 

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Money Monday | Entertainment

As someone who is proudly trying to be a cheapskate, I am happy to say that I have found many ways to cheaply entertain myself, from a young age, much to the chagrin of my parents.


It started with books.  I learned to read at a very young age.  Also, I was not allowed to watch a good portion of television offered to people my age.  Books gave me an opportunity to see a world much larger than my very small one.  I won’t lie, I did spend a lot of money on books.  Mostly because I got an allowance and because my mom would take me to the shopping mall instead of the library (though we did go to the library a few times).  Libraries are awesome.  I mean, there are more free books to read than you have time for.  And if you have the patience (always have patience, it’s a virtue for a reason) you can request pretty much any book your heart desires.  AND libraries have free events.  Mine has knitting, which I haven’t taken up yet.


Books kind of put this weird romantic ideal in my heart:  that the world was made for exploring, and the woods were a beautiful and mysterious place.  I would dig in my backyard pretending to be Indiana Jones.  Once I set up a detective shop in my backyard so I could be like Nancy Drew.  When we moved to a wooded area, I’d hike and pretend like I was in Narnia or like I was queen of the forest or something.  You guys, hiking is free.  There are also a ton of parks near me.  While I am a SUPER anxious person that is afraid of being the jogger in the park who gets murdered, hiking is a great thing to do with friends.  As someone who has overstayed her welcome at local diners, talking to a friend for more than 4 hours, hiking is great.  No one gives you looks.  Heck, no one might even see you.  You get to talk with a friend while leisurely walking at your own pace.  You get to see the great outdoors.  Also, it’s exercising without even trying.  Which, let’s be honest, is the best kind of exercise.  Also, there tends to be limited cell reception, which, while probably great for murderers, also great for having uninterrupted conversation.  However, let’s face it, I’m an introvert, give me one on one time, or give me time by myself.  I hate crowds.


Honestly, I have no idea what advice to give to people who love crowds…except one idea.  Basically, a potluck.  I do love food.  With a potluck, no one has too much work to do, or too much money to invest, but everyone benefits from the diversity.  I’m also pretty sure that everyone has some random table top game they can bring, and games can be fun.  Heck, you could even just play with a deck of cards.


But let me get to the part where I let down my parents (outside of the book reading that prevented me from being more social than they would have liked).  When my husband and I started dating we were in high school.  Neither of has jobs.  He couldn’t take me on expensive dates.  We would hike (see above) or ride bikes or watch movies from the extensive collection his parents had.  I loved every second of it.  My parents thought he should be spending a lot on me.  Now that we’re technically adults, we’ve eaten at some expensive places, gone out to movies, but here’s the thing:  I genuinely don’t care about expensive restaurants.  Any restaurant that has strangers at it, is a restaurant that I am probably not going to enjoy.  So, at least being cheap would make me happy (see small, local diners and fast food).  Sure, I like me some sushi, and cheap sushi isn’t something I necessarily want in my life, but those are VERY special events (where my husband wouldn’t be included anyway because the idea of sushi makes him uncomfortable).  I do kind of love the movie theater experience, what with the big screen and the special popcorn and the fancy seats.  BUT…remember where I’m not a fan of strangers?  Let me go on a rant about a certain kind of stranger I don’t like.  The people who look at their cell phones during movies.  The people that scream continuously through horror movies.  The people who clap during movies.  I want everyone in the movie theater so sit down, shut up, and not talk until the credits roll.  Sadly, that is not the world we live in, so I will probably never have a perfect movie experience.  Basically, I’m a cheap date because I’m an introvert.  Also, I can’t tell you how many times my parents have told me that my husband should be taking me on expensive dates.  I’m the one with the money skills, yo.  I’m just lucky I have a husband who thinks Taco Bell is a delicacy.



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Money Monday | Short Update

Car repair is important.  I do appreciate my car taking me to my job.


Honestly, an emergency fund is for that kind of thing.  Like the flat tire my husband got.  It gives relief when things go wrong.  Now, I’m going to re-fill my emergency fund with money I would have paid toward my loans, but still.  I’m not going to stop kicking my student loans’ butts.


Maybe I’m being silly, but the world seems like it’d be a lot freer of a place if debt wasn’t weighing me down.  Like, a job loss wouldn’t be so terrifying if I didn’t have that weighing over my head.  I could breathe and move on.


It’s a dream that makes me happy.  I know, however, that debt can hit you very suddenly out of nowhere.  In particular, medical debt.  You don’t choose medical debt, it chooses you.  There’s only so much you can plan, outside of a nice emergency fund of who knows how much money.  You could get hit by a car and your insurance might only cover part of it, you could suddenly get cancer, you could suddenly develop a mental illness (just so you know, schizophrenia frequently makes its first appearance in your 20’s in lots of cases, random bit of information) and need lots of treatment and meds…forever.  And if that happens when you’re just starting to dig yourself out of debt?  That’s rough (honestly, it’s rough in general, this is just insult to injury).  Or right when you’ve gotten out of debt only to be buried again?  For something out of your control?


Anxiety can be a very bad thing, but I can’t say that it has ever kept me from being prepared.  Well, there was this one time I was afraid to look at my bank account for a few months…but I got over that.  Now I just plan and plan and plan and plan.  I like planning.  I like knowing what to do when something unexpected happens.  I do kind of hate the part where I don’t actually have the supplies yet to pull off the plan, but I’m getting there.



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Money Monday | The Why

So I’m in the middle of slogging it through paying off my student loans.  It feels Sisyphean.  Like, I even know my potential payoff date (which is in November!).  But that day seems forever away and almost impossible.  I feel like I’m throwing my money as quickly as I’m making it at this danged loan.  This is the hard part of the financial independence journey, right?  This is the part where I look back in ten years, beaming with pride that I made it through?


It’s hard.  Mr. Smudged and I both have aging cars.  Cars that are now throwing lights.  Cars that need some expensive love.  Expensive love that could throw a wrench in my plans for getting these stupid loans to go away.  I have an emergency fund, but I’ll need to refill it if I use it all up.  And that would have to come from my student loan (over)payments.  Depending on the cost to fix, it could push me back two or three months.


When I was a kid, I would get scared every time we went for a ride in the car for longer than ten minutes.  What if I had to go to the bathroom?  Genuine terror would fill my heart.  It was silly.  It was ridiculous.  But that same dread fills me up now, what is two months?  Hardly anything!  My heart was set on November.


I’m trying to remind myself why I want to be financially independent.  Like it will make me feel better, instead of reminding me that my goals could be facing a setback.


I have a dream of all the things I want to do if I can only retire early.


I want to learn art and make art and spend so much time looking at art.


I want to learn other things, like how to play guitar or how to fix a car.


I want to (assuming we have kids) spend so much time with potential future children.


I want to wake up without my alarm clock and ease into my day as slowly as I please.


I want to have the time and energy to cooking a dinner exactly the way I want it.


I want to hang out with friends and still have energy because I didn’t use all of my energy talking to co-workers (who are fine, but it’s just so exhausting).


I want to seriously commit to making my own clothes.


I want to learn how to knit.


I want to spend so much less time in my car.


I want to make plans, see that it has snowed, and delay them because I have power over my time and don’t have to risk my life in cold weather.


I want to volunteer and help people and be able to be there at a moment’s notice, not trapped at work.


I want to spend so much time with my husband.


I want to teach potential future children to be compassionate, independent, and to know themselves.




And then there’s the don’ts:


I don’t want to hear an alarm clock ever again.


I don’t want to feel stressed about taking a day off because I am the pin that holds everything together.


I don’t want to have to report my time and activity to anyone.  (Seriously so glad to be done with high school where I had to ask to go to the bathroom).


I don’t want to waste my time feeling miserable doing a job that doesn’t appeal to me.  I know your job doesn’t have to fulfill you, but it shouldn’t make you miserable either.


I don’t want to have a heart attack at work like my father.


I don’t want work to make me into a grumpy, irritable person.


I don’t want to waste my youth doing things I don’t care about.


I don’t want to feel controlled by the whims of the world and the problems it throws at people who can’t handle it fiscally.



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Money Monday | Broken Chain

I didn’t blog yesterday.  I blame the holiday.  I broke the chain, and realized that I don’t have anything set up as punishment to keep myself from breaking the chain.


So I’m going to reach into the past (and present a little), and blog about something that should totally count as punishment on Money Monday.  Mostly because it’s valuable and I HATE it.




Nothing strikes fear into my people-pleasing, hyper-obedient heart like negotiating.  I know that sometimes it’s silently expected.   I still hate it.  Also, it saves a lot of money.  And I hate it.  I want everything to be black and white and easy, but that’s not what life is.


We got a ticket a few weekends back.  We accidentally almost went through the wrong toll lane.  In our defense, I don’t think we could see that we were not in the “Cash” lane because of a large truck.  I wasn’t driving or paying attention though.  We BARELY managed to get into the correct lane.  But we did.  We also got a ticket.  Which hurts to the depths of my heart.  Getting in trouble AND having to pay money for something stupid?  AG. O. NY.


I went to pay it online because that’s what you do when you hate talking on the phone (especially with your tail between your legs).  The website recommended NEGOTIATING.  Like straight up, said that we could apply for a first-time going through without a pass thing.  So I did.  My heart was beating SO hard in my heart.  And I did it.


And then I waited.


And then the phone rang.  They couldn’t just email me.  They had to call me.  And I trust giving out certain information on the phone not at all unless I have like double researched the phone number.  So I BARGAINED with the nice customer service rep.  She brought the ticket down significantly AND was willing to email me instead of have me pay over the phone.


Please don’t laugh.  It’s a big step for me.




PS: Let’s see if post-dating makes it look like I actually published this on Monday!

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Money Monday | Yard Sale

I really tried to be productive on Saturday.  Saturday is normally my day of rest.  But there was a community yard sale.  So I tried to sell my things.


I am a terrible salesperson.


Admittedly, this was my first rodeo and I was unprepared.


The yard sale was from 8-12.  It was cold.  Not many people stopped by.  Fewer bought things.


But!  I drew the whole time (which was hard considering how cold I was).



I am happy that I practiced.  I kind of wish it was a little more structured, buy I played with some lighting, so I’m satisfied with that.


I only made $10.  4 hours for $10.  That’s $2.50 an hour.  I don’t think it was worth it.


However, I had lots of time to think.  I realized a few things.

  1. I struggle with selling things.
  2. I am afraid people will judge my goods.
  3. Pricing is REALLY hard.
  4. It is super nice to have things priced in advance.

I sometimes will do commissions.  Not a lot, only upon request.  But I always feel super guilty setting a price in the moment.  I made a chart of what I think I should charge for different commissions (charcoal vs. paint, big vs. little) and I think it will give me the confidence to deal with that part of the conversation when it comes up again.


Look at me, saying when, not if.  🙂



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Money Monday

Today is a list of struggles.  But a list of struggles is just a to do list for things I can accomplish.

  1. Actually find a cheaper cell phone plan (why do you always have to call to cancel?  Why is it so hard to transfer a number?)
  2. Pay off the danged student loans.
  3. Finding a balance between living life and enjoying friends and saving money.
  4. Finding new ways to earn money while decreasing laborious, tedious hours.
  5. Finding work I genuinely love.
  6. Finding what freedom looks like to me.
  7. Learning to live without worry.





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Money Monday

A continuation on my checkbook.

When payday happens, I don’t mess around.  I don’t leave the house and buy all of the things.

I sit down, with my checkbook.  I write down what came in.  I subtract out all of the bills that will occur until I get paid next.  I subtract out a tithe for my church.

I would like to say that I put a bunch into savings too, but paying off my student loan is a much bigger deal to me right now.  And I count that under bills.

Then I’m left to live off the remainder.  I don’t really budget, outside of this.  Well, my husband and I both get an allowance to spend judgement free (he buys figures and guitar stuff, I get my hair done).  But after it’s all subtracted, we either have money, or we don’t.  The amount covers gas, groceries, eating out, gifts, whatever random stuff is going to come up.

Which is nice because I’m a little lazier than I’d like and don’t want to put every expense into a spreadsheet.  Maybe I should.  Maybe we’re oozing money out everywhere.  But I have to say I put 10% (plus a little matching!) into retirement, I have an emergency savings fund, and 24% against student loans (and let’s not even think about taxes).

The point is, I save and pay my bills before anything else.  It’s a step.