Wednesday, May 15, 2013

An Exercise in Frugality

There is no dignity quite so impressive, and no independence quite so important, as living within your means. – Calvin Coolidge
Frugality. It means a lot of things to different people. It looks different for everyone. Some people just don't practice it.

I am a newcomer to this world. So please keep that in mind as I start to talk about my experience with saving money and living within a real budget. Not just the vague idea I had when I first started.

For me frugality means living well below my means. I have always lived within my means and I've always said that "I should not be able to afford the way I live." Basically, I should be saving more and be less spendy on every other aspect of my life. I am a young adult, I should not be able to spend money like I make big bucks.

I am viewing this process of becoming a more frugal woman as taking small steps of change in hopes that they will stick much better (and so far they have) than one grand change. It's like going on a diet. If I cut everything bad for me out all at once and started exercising like mad every day for a couple hours, I would get exhausted and would quickly run out of motivational steam.

Anyways, that's a lot of information me being the teacher from the Peanuts cartoons. On to the juicy stuff. I've been reading a hodge podge of various personal finance books. And they are challenging me to expand my thinking on the subject. For example, budgets can change monthly. Say what?!? And finding the right budget balance for you and your family, can take months, as I am not so quickly discovering...

Now, can I just put it out there that I don't like to (or very easily) admit when my dad is right on things. I want to do it my way. (Just busted out in the Frank Sinatra song; I will let you envision that for a minute.) So I am publicly admitting that my father convinced me to try out Quicken 2013. I love it!! I am by no means master at its use, but it does allow me to break all my costs down into the categories I want to track.

Now for the ultimate, the pièce de résistance! (I may need more sleep...) What's the big theme I've been finding among all these personal finance books? The concept of going cash-only.

Let me just say, I LOVE IT!! There are so many ways to go about this, I've been trying this out for a couple weeks and I need to work out a couple kinks, but for now, I get cash once a week, and that's it for everything all week: groceries, home improvement, you-name-it-I-buy-it. ;) I have a fabric cash envelope project in the works that I can't wait to share with you - this is exciting for me because it will be my first adventure into accessory making.

Going cash-only gives me better understanding of what categories I can change in my Quicken to be more general, since that's what I've noticed I care about more as opposed to being very specific about subcategories and the like. Now if only I could get better help with setting up things within Quicken...

What are some of your methods for frugal living, in particular, tracking spending?

Love Always,


Thursday, May 9, 2013


This was not the post I was originally intending on writing. Originally, I was writing a post about my recent exploits in the methods of a more frugal lifestyle. Another time.

Right now, I have more pressing matters in my head and my heart. All I can think about is how short life is and how no matter how much I plan on doing in the future, those plans can change instantly in one short minute.

A week ago a close friend of mine was diagnosed with Stage 4 brain cancer. And as more doctor's visits come and go and treatment options are explored, it just keeps looking worse and worse. She's younger than you'd expect someone with cancer to be. She's got plans for the years ahead.

The news hit me pretty hard-I'm still reeling-and I can't focus on anything. I think of all the people in her life. Her husband and the love that I could hear in his voice as he talked to her in the hospital. How if she were to leave this world, he'd be left without his partner, the one who was supposed to walk beside him for the rest of their lives. I can't imagine how heart-wrenching it must have been to hear from the doctor that this situation has gotten so hopeless. Her kids to lose their mother before they have a chance to finish growing up themselves. I can not imagine.

I think about my own partner. I think how utterly destroyed I would feel if something happened to him, before we even had gotten a chance to start a life together. Completely distraught. I think of all the people in this world that I love, of whose lives I am chose to no longer be as active a participant as I want to be.

And I think about her words to my boss and friend, "Cherish [your family], those moments are precious." I don't know the last time I cherished moments with my boyfriend or my family or moments with any one person who matters to me. It's been a while.

I am not saying that I will all of a sudden start to cherish everyone like never before. But I should probably be more intentional about showing it to them. I'm not perfect, so I know it may take some time.

Today was especially rough, cried at my desk off and on for four hours. And then on the bus. And now as I write this. I know everything will happen as God intends it to happen. And I am sad over the possibility of losing a friend. But God has given me the most wonderful man, who helps me to want to cherish every moment. Because every. single. moment. is one that should be cherished. I am so thankful. For everything. But really, I am thankful for this:

I can't explain it, but this lets me know that everything will work out. My prayer is now for a miracle against all odds. God, I am begging for a miracle. I want need a miracle. I am not ready for this obstacle you have given me. I will be an ostrich. I will stick my head in the proverbial sand. I will not let her go. Please don't let her go.

Please dear friends, cherish your family and other loved ones. And please, please pray for my friend. Pray for a miracle. Pray for healing, and love.

Love you all,