Uncategorized, Life, Money

Facing the hard financial truth

So many months ago my therapist recommended I put myself on a budget and keep track of every expense. I downloaded an app and started: 

$27 groceries, write it down. $18 gas, write it down. $57 dinner with Mona… You get the point. 

And I did diligently. For about 3 weeks. Ugh. Story of my life. Inconsistency. So for the past 4 months or so, I’ve been writing half my expenses down and trying to moderate the rest of my spending. Which means I’ve been half-assing my budget.

Now I haven’t been spending extravagantly. I’ve been eating home a lot more. Spending more nights in, seeing fewer friends out, if at all. 

And yet, my savings is still going down, even with my second job (some months I didn’t put that towards my credit cards but towards my savings yet it still has gone down. )

Truth be told, my budget is tight and any extra expenses hit my savings. $200 in gifts for 2 cousins’ baptisms? From my savings. $500 deductible from a car accident? From my savings.  $600 dental work? From My savings. My therapist went up an extra $55 every 4 weeks? From my savings. Over the months, non-expected expenses adds up.

And honestly, putting $1000-$1400 a month towards my credit card was overly ambitious, but I can’t stop now. My debt is at only $1,900 now. The goal is in sight. I’ll be done by December 1. 

So this month, I re-dedicated myself to tracking my expenses on my app. And to make it easier, I text the expense to myself immediately. For some reason, entering into an app right when the expense is incurred is a chore, but texting is easy. So I send myself a text and enter it into the app later.

And boy, I can see where my money is going. Food is going to be a problem with the amount have allotted. It’s only Oct 5 and I have less than $100 left. For the MONTH. 

(This food expense is for me alone. Anything that involves Mona has its own budget.)

I’m playing the responsible and dependable game and I am going to make this work. My friends are asking for a night out. I do have a budget for my own stuff, which has taken a hit already ($50 Dr copayment, $22 movie, $40 home supplies.) I may have to push the dinner to November. Or just pass on it. I do have a budget for saving $27 every week. I’ve touched it often but now I have over $100 in it. I don’t want to use it. 

Honestly?  I had no business starting dating Mona. Or getting a new car lease in Sept 2015. But here we are.

This is a hard time in my life. I gotta keep my nose you the grindstone and make the tough decisions. That and be serious about making more money. 

And KEEPING more money. 

Career, Money

God does not want me to be depressed

So yesterday I took a stroll down Negative Lane. Some tough times financially and a questionable future. Not great. I was down. 

Then, something odd happened. No… somethingS (plural) happened. Some good positive messages, vibes, grace… call it what you want. 

1. A salesperson told me that he put in some good words about my service to my boss’ boss.

2. Then a friend Bob reached out to say hey and to make plans to hang. Always great when someone reaches out and wants to spend time with me.

4. Then a friend, Jackson, reached out to me today, I know him from a men’s mentoring organization that I used to belong to. He invited me to an organization event that I can’t make. Really great of him to think of me. He even said: 

I used to be VERY active in that organization and really touching to be thought of like that.

5. Later today I got a phone call from a client and I was able to help her issue. And she PRAISED my help up and down. Now, what I did for her was very simple. But she really needed the help and I gave it to her quickly. Plus, I’m very personable on the phone with clients and enjoy easy going relationships to put them at ease as I work through their issues. And it shows.

“You deserve a raise!” she exclaimed. I thought that was very serendipitous, given yesterday’s blog about money. 

This is the universe/God’s way of saying “don’t worry, buddy. Help is here and will continue. Have faith.”

Thank you, thank you, thank you! 


Change is good… and will pay for my vacation

So as I mentioned, next weekend Mona and I are going to Fire Island off the south shore of Long Island NY. Fire Island is a barrier island, mostly a summer community and the area we’re going to is pretty expensive. I’ve heard it described as “quiet money.” I know someone with a house there so we’re not paying for room and board. 

Now, I’m on a pretty strict budget these days but I figured if I’d cut back my spending further I’d be in good shape. Turns out, I can’t cut back much further and survive. 
Ok, option B was to use last month’s money from my side job. But honestly, I wanted to bank that but whether I spend it on vacation or bank it and spend other saved money on vacation, I’d still be out that money. 


But wait… what’s that in the corner of my bedroom? Why it’s a whole lot of change in old coffee cans. That accumulates. I’ve cashed in before and seen nice numbers. 

So I rolled a bunch up. 

BOOM. $400 at your service. At MY service, actually. 

I mentioned it to Mona and she’s matching my budget. So $800 for a couple to live off of for 50 hours. 

Parking alone should cost us $51 bucks. Ferry round trip will be another $38. That leaves $711 for meals and activities. 

I was anticipating bringing groceries to cook our own meals to save money. We still may a bit but it’s good to know we’re secure for the trip.

It’s only one day off from work, the Friday, but it’s nice to stay somewhere that’s not my or Mona’s house. With the sound of the waves in the background. 

There’s a beach 1 minute away, and a hot tub on premises and an external shower. 

I’ll take it. 


I need cheap, healthy food ideas to make at home

Hey all… i need to use my money more efficiently. That includes food. I still tend to eat take out a bit, but not as much as I used to. 

Sometimes I’ll cook chicken/ some meat and veggies at night and will eat leftovers all week. I do oatmeal quite a bit for breakfast (although this week was bagels and coffee with very little time in the morning.)

I eat a lot of eggs and salad at night. I used to eat pb & j’s (or pb, banana and honey)  a lot but that’s a ton of sugar. 

Or a chicken breast sandwich with tomato and mayo.

And I’ve done protein shakes, though I just ran out of powder. 

Just reaching out to get some ideas of easy healthy things I can eat at home instead of eating out. 

It may be that I have to up my commitment and plan ahead better so I already have the right food home and time to prepare. 

Life, Money

Goal: I want to buy some art

Its good to have goals in life. 

The other day I was in Manhattan shooting pics of real estate, and I was assigned to the hip SoHo area (So(uth of) Ho(uston Street) ). Houston in this context is pronounced House-ton. I don’t know why, maybe that goes back to the British pronunciation. 

Anyway,  SoHo is known for its expensive clothing stores, and, as I discovered, street art. Here are two displays that I took photos of:

Some of the ones I saw were just beautiful and cool. And a little expensive, like a few hundred dollars. Now, I’m in full payoff debt mode, but DAMN I would love to be the type of person to buy a few pieces of SoHo art that I could decorate my house with. 

That’s now a goal. I want to grow my lifestyle so I can be in that position. That I have enough in my discretionary budget to buy some and not think twice about it.

And soon! 

I want to buy some art!


Uncle Sam cuts my debt by 1/4

Yes! I got my tax return from my accountant.  I’m getting back $3,200 in total! I really had no idea how much I would get back.  I suspected a good amount since I only worked half of 2016 so I’m in a lower bracket, if that’s how that works. 

Anyway, I’m putting it all towards my debt, much to my lady Mona’s chagrin. To be clear, she’s not pushing me hard to spend on her/us, but I can tell she’s used to a higher lifestyle and I can’t participate in it at close to that level yet. She’d love to go on vacation with me.  I’d love to too. I CAN do it but that puts my getting debt free down a way. And this is weighing me down.  I need to be responsible and budget well, tighten the belt and beat this thing. 

Money, Relationships

I’m happy with less debt

So, money is a big issue for me right now. I’m earning 20% less of my full time job from 3 years ago, but I’m happy with the work I’m doing. And I’ve accumulated not-insubstantial debt while unemployed. 

As some of you may remember, my gf Mona mandated that I start setting a therapist. 

HER therapist. 

I had to wait until I got a job but I started. And she, the therapist, Sylvia, got me really focusing on paying off my debt. I transferred 70% of the debt to 0 % credit cards. That idea hadn’t even crossed my mind before. But it IS helping me. The debt is going down quicker, I’ll give it that. I’ve paid off 17% of the debt with more scheduled. 

Plus I picked up a side job one day a weekend taking exterior pictures of real estate.  So that helps too.

I’m excited to see progress.