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Archive for November, 2015

YNAB three-month assessment

November 3rd, 2015 at 02:41 am

If anyone is considering purchasing YNAB, feel free to use my referral code link to get $6 off! http://ynab.refr.cc/X4CF4XD (copy and paste into browser)

I've officially been using YNAB for three months now and I love it! Dare I say that it has been life-changing for me? I have been wanting/trying to track my spending, create a budget, determine how much I earn a month, where it goes, where I would prefer it to go, and is it enough for me to realistically live on for many years. YNAB has made that all possible!

I assume that I could have used one of many available budgeting programs and also gotten positive results. I just happened to choose this one, based on the experience of some fellow SA bloggers, and it really works for me, so I'm sticking with it. I think having the YNAB online support system (free classes, message boards and their philosophy) helped me to learn how to quickly and fully utilize the program and kept me interested and focused in the beginning.

When I started using the YNAB 31-day trial, I didn't match my YNAB checking account total with the actual amount in my real checking account. I started in August, so I just entered the amount of my two July paychecks into YNAB and budgeted from there just to try it out and get things going. I had some cash on hand from an early August vacation, so I used that for some of my spending, but recorded it as money that was withdrawn from checking because I wanted to get an exact accounting of what I spent during the month. I used the program like this for a while and, oh my, it took me a long time to figure out exactly how much I should have in checking to match my YNAB balances. I FINALLY figured it out last week, shifted money around and now my real accounts match my YNAB accounts. Yay! It should be quite easy to maintain the system from here.

I love being able to see how much I have available to budget, how much I've spent, how I've spent it and how much I haven't spent or budgeted. It's providing me with the tools to plan my budget rather than just randomly spend. It's so easy to move money around as the month unfolds and my priorities and reality change. Since I'm not sharing a budget with anyone else, I haven't utilized the phone app although I did download it. I have a wifi data plan, so it's not always readily usable. I just update YNAB at least every few days with new purchases. And since tracking has caused me to spend less, I sometimes don't have that much to update throughout the week!

The benefit I am enjoying the most by finally managing my money is the peace of mind that I've gained. Financially, I'm doing fine at this point - in fact, I am doing quite well. But, I wasn't taking the time to get to know my own financial situation and really manage it carefully on my own behalf. Using YNAB is helping me to do that. I honestly don't always like what I see, but living in reality feels more calming than ignoring it and unconsciously moving through life. Although I have to admit that knowing exactly what I have and what I can and can't do with it feels a little boring - I think I sometimes like the excitement of the unknown even though it doesn't serve me.

I really hope that I can keep focused on using YNAB - I have a tendency to get excited and immersed in something and then suddenly lose interest and forget about it. My blog archives illustrate a good example of this. Smile

In other news, I had a day with no unplanned spending, ate mostly healthy food except for some free candy from a co-worker (argh), and I walked for an hour after work and then did some yoga stretching when I got home.

Today's menu:
Breakfast - apple (free from neighbor and super tasty!) and fresh ground organic peanut butter, a few almonds
Lunch - rolled oats w/steamed broccoli, cauliflower and carrots (free from neighbor), hard boiled egg, olive oil, salt
Snack - homemade applesauce
Dinner - Boca burger (from freezer) and steamed beets (free from neighbor)
Junky snack - 2 free bags of butterfnger peanut butter cups, which should be labeled as crack - so addictive. Did I really need to eat both bags today? Smile

Tomorrow's menu:
Breakfast - apple & peanut butter, hard boiled egg with salt
Lunch - free at event I'm attending - I hope it's tasty
Dinner - Boca burger (from freezer) and steamed beets (free from neighbor)

enjoying some productivity

November 1st, 2015 at 11:45 pm

Now that I've recovered from my big work events and I'm not quite as worried about my mom's health, I have been a bit more productive. I was supposed to attend a conference in Minneapolis in late October, but I told my boss that I couldn't swing it energetically. I felt bad because she really wanted me to go and I felt disappointed because I don't travel much for work and it would have been a good experience. But, in the end, I am really glad that I opted out and gave myself the chance to regain my energy.

I've been able to get my house back into reasonable shape. The main rooms are neat and functional and I've cleaned out most of the old food from my fridge. I had serious food overload due to lots of free garden goodies and work event leftovers. I hated to waste some of it, but I just couldn't find the time to use it all when I was so busy.

Overall I've kept unnecessary spending to a minimum, was able to cash flow my property taxes and am now putting any excess new money in a winter heating bill account (since I did not prebuy oil this year) and a roof repair account. I FINALLY mailed back a roof repair proposal given to me by an extremely busy roofer who specializes in slate and I hope that he can fit me into his winter schedule. I have sat on this for four years now and while I'd like to spend a lot of time regretting that choice (it's what I do best!), I'm going to celebrate that I finally moved ahead. If I don't hear from him within a week, I'll call to check in.

I started exercising again - walking for at least an hour six times during the past ten days, plus I walked a lot last night while trick or treating with my friend M, her daughter J and some of their friends. I was feeling very lazy today and had a headache after one glass of wine last evening at a Halloween party (I'm a lightweight!), but somehow motivated to take a walk just after 4:00p. I had planned to go for 30 minutes just to get some air, but then encouraged myself to keep going and walked for an hour. Yay! I then did 20 minutes of yoga when I got home. I haven't been taking the time to stretch and can feel my muscles getting tight. I love weekends, especially those that contain an extra hour! It's supposed to be fairly warm tomorrow, so I will plan to walk for at least 30 minutes in the late afternoon or right after work. I hope I can stick to the goal in the face of early darkness.

October snowflakes included a $6 referral rebate (thanks CCF for using my referral code!) from YNAB, $125 from Sw@gbucks and $5.38 cash back rewards from a Chase card. I also found .36 over the past few weeks!

I'd like to keep my eating very simple this week - no or low spend by using up food that I already have. Today, I made some hardboiled eggs (.21 each) and I'll have one each day with rolled oats, steamed broccoli, olive oil, salt & pepper for breakfast. I also made some sauce from some apples I picked from my tree that have been sitting in a back room for quite a while. I thought they would have rotted by now, but most of them were still good, past the eating stage, but fine for sauce. I hope to scrape together bits of stuff to make a salad for lunch tomorrow and I will get a free lunch at an event I'm attending on Tuesday. I need to figure out what to have for the other three lunches this week. I found three Boca burgers in the freezer, so I think I'll have one of those with steamed beets and carrots for three dinners.

I have a bag of free tomatillos that I need to process ASAP. I'll have to buy onions, canola oil, garlic and cilantro to make salsa this week. I'd really prefer to stay out of the store - that's the best way for me to curb my spending! I guess I could chop and puree the tomatillos and then buy the salsa ingredients later this week. Maybe even freeze the puree, but I'm not good about using freezer items. I love tomatillo salsa and want to enjoy it!

Back to work tomorrow. I'd love to have one more day of weekend time.