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The bumpy road to financial independence. . . .


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Apologies. . . . .

I'm sorry for my blog silence over the past few days! I thought when the term ended I would have almost two weeks of relaxation and school-free bliss, but that was not the case, unfortunately. How is it that I've been busier than ever?

I think what happened is that I've tried to cram so much (socializing, cleaning the house, getting the yard in order, making travel plans) into my two week break that I became overwhelmed. The worst part is, I've not been keeping close track of my spending---I'm afraid to look at my bank account!

This week, classes start up again, and I'm hoping with the return to this schedule, I'll be back at the blog on a daily, or at least every-other-day basis. One of my New Year's Resolutions for 2008 was to find a better balance between work, school, and LIFE, and while I've added more fun to my life, I've not cut back on work or school. Do any of you do this? Take on more than you can handle (or think you can handle), trying to take every opportunity, not missing out on anything? While trying to simplify my life (and succeeding in some areas), other areas are out of control!

In trying to get my life back, I came across some easy behavior changes that might help:

  • Make time for yourself. Take a walk, meditate, or visit the park.
  • Cancel subscriptions to magazines you don't have time to read (I have stacks of National Geographic sitting unread in my home right now)
  • Cut back on television time. This doesn't apply to me as much, since I watch the news in the morning and that's about it.
  • Stop being a slave to communication: home phones, cell phones, text messages, voicemail, email. All of these things are time-suckers.
  • Say 'no' instead of 'yes'. Determine which activities you really have time for. For example, I don't have to work six days a week---I can probably work four, and still be okay financially.
  • Focus on goals you'd like to meet. Focus on doing a few really well, rather than many in a mediocre way.
  • Focus on values---I think in my quest to pay my debt and increase my savings, I've forgotten that I also want to have more 'down' time in my life, more time to meet new people in a relaxed way (not in the daily hour or two I have free between jobs and school).

I think the key to possibly finding more balance in my work/school/life conundrum is to find balance in the battle to destroy my debt. I've been so focused that other areas of my life might be getting squeezed out. I am still going to work toward repaying my debt, don't get me wrong. But I may need to slow down---I only have this one life, and I'm not sure I want to look back and remember working myself to exhaustion!


marci357 said...

Don't just make time for yourself - actually 'schedule' it... if you don't have a set time, you might just loose it - and that unwinding time is good for the spirit and soul... as well as the blood pressure.

My one rule that never changes (unless I'm babysitting grandkids) is that time after 8 pm is guiltfree 'me' time.... I may do whatever I so chose without feeling guilty about it - no matter what else is pressuring me. So, sometimes I'll save up those special things til then, so I can do them without the guilt :)

Yes,seems like you've got it... the biggee is learning to say NO and mean it.

About getting the debt down - you know you didn't acquire it in a day and it will take awhile to get rid of it. The trick is to find that repayment schedule that works for you, gets the job done, but doesn't drive you crazy nuts too!

Good luck finding that HARMONY in your life... That's my keyword... all the parts have to be balanced and then I feel like it's all in harmony. A peaceful feeling within. Sometimes it takes some experimentation to find the rignt balance, but You'll get there!

Anonymous said...

Hi FF... I've cancelled all magazine and newspaper subscriptions a long time ago and use the internet instead. I've also cancelled my cable service, though they can't figure out how to turn it off so I've had free cable for the past year (I live in a high rise condo). In preparation of the impending cable cut-off, I've scoured the internet for various documentaries and you know what? There's tons out there. My kids love 'em, and they're free (archeology etc). Our local library also has free movies available on-line.

As far as down time and meeting up with friends... I swear by using the various coupons within the entertainment.com book and website for our area (NYC). There's good movie discounts to be had from this. What's been also saving me a lot of $ is using various $25 off restaurant coupons. Get this, I've been feeding my clan of 5 dinner in Manhattan for typically $35 with tip. If you go through couponmom.com and then follow the link to restaurant.com you can get really good discounts on meals that you can use with your friends. (Normally its $10 to buy a $25 restaurant coupon -- saving you $15 per meal, but with a discount of 50% off, you can get the coupons for $5 or $6 each). These are great to use with family and friends. I'm not affiliated with either site, I just use them.

Also, if you haven't already, check your shower and other faucets to make sure you have water-saver type shower heads etc. They're about $7 at the local store and will cut down on your water bill. That, and the old brick in the back of the toilet tank (or inflatable puck) will also do the trick.

Keep on posting! I really enjoy reading what you have to say. You are correct in terms of finding some balance between the frugal stuff and life in general. Once the frugal stuff (ie behavioural shifts) are in place you can then put the rest of your life in balance. Every once in awhile though its important to look back and review the changes made, look for more changes, or simply look to have that balance. Good luck!


Finally Frugal said...

Thanks so much for these encouraging and helpful comments, Marci and Leonard! I've been feeling so overwhelmed lately, and I'm going to keep the word 'harmony' in my lexicon to help me remember to balance my time.

Leonard, I don't know how you get away with $35 dinner for five in Manhattan (!!!!). With that and your amazingly low utility bills, I think you should write a book. . . . (-:

Anonymous said...

FF -- One of the ways that I've been able to get a handle on the utility bills is through "great determination" and buying a "kill a watt" meter that I plug the various appliances into. By measuring the wattage, I can then approximate my monthly costs per appliance, per pc, per this etc. Think I paid $35 for this device (I have multiple rental properties and have used this device within the rentals to show my tenants where they are "leaking" electricity). Some of the tenants 'get it' while others look at me like I have 2 heads. Fyi..I crunch numbers in my real job (actuary).

The good deals with the meals... yeah, cheaper to feed the family in NYC than to buy them Happy Meals at McPuke (ha!). What I've done is buy a block of $25 off coupons when I find them onsale. Usually they cost $10 to get $25 off. The last block of coupons were 70% off. I purchased $375 worth of coupons, normally priced at 15*$10=$150. With the 70% off, I paid $45. Yes, $45 for $375 off. Now... the fun part! I scout out the restaurants that only require you to have a total bill of $35 to use the coupon. So, if the bill comes to $35.01, you can use the coupon (then your bill would be $10.01 plus tip).

Back to your comments about balance. I think you can combine balance with some fun. For instance, if you have friends in another city that you wish to visit, you can likely use one of these restaurant coupons in their city (you aren't limited to your own city to use them).

One more suggestion... I pay down my cc bills whenever they come in, so I don't have that issue. BUT... I do use my AMEX card ALL the time (personal/business). Why do I do this? I can wrack up business+personal expenses of $2500 to $5000 per month. AMEX gives out points for all of this. Those points I convert into Olive Garden gift certificates for, yup, $25 off each meal. I generate at least one of these each month. The last time I was at an OG I had the $25 gift card, another $4 off coupon from the paper, and another $4 off coupon from answering some OG survey. Chopped the bill down from $60 to $27.


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