june and july recap

I drafted a June recap all by itself, and then… life happened. Sorry folks. I have no good excuse. So here I am, writing about two months in one!

First of all, let me remind you that I am OVER HALFWAY THROUGH THIS SPENDING FREEZE! Holy Hades, who would have ever thought that would happen? In February, I just knew this was going to be the slowest year of my life.

It’s not.

It may be the fastest.

To help keep my head on straight about my wants/needs for the house, I made a list of them to help me prioritize where my money ought to go. At the top of my list: futon/pull-out couch. We really want people to be able to stay with us now that we actually have a little space.

The list has been really helpful. It keeps me focused if I decide to browse Craigslist or stop in an antique store. If I get distracted by pretty dishes or an awesome old crate, I have something physical to look at to remind me where my money needs to be spent. What I’ve allowed myself to classify as a need and not just a want. (Although, pretty dishes might ought to make my needs list. Right now we only own two plates…)

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Our only two plates. His & hers! You would not believe how many times I can wash these in one day.

But in other ways, the list is kind of terrible. It’s this written reminder I glance at ALL THE TIME of things I feel like I need but can’t afford. It taunts me. Oh, you want to buy me? Haha! Too bad. It makes me feel awful. It makes me want to buy a lottery ticket. It makes me want to break out the credit card.

I look at that sneaky little list and feel like I deserve everything on it. I deserve dining room chairs, right? I did buy this chair at an antique store in Clinton, TN. Now Logan and I both have a place to sit at the dining room table! Not that we ever sit at the dining room table. Our two chairs are on the porch 99% of the time. You know, because we’re southern. And people in the South do this thing called porch sittin’ while they drink sweet tea. It’s awesome, ya’ll.

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But back to feeling like I deserve things. My income is tiny right now, and I’m putting it where I really want it to go. First it’s going to pay my bills and put food in my mouth. Then it’s going straight to savings to help fund my volunteer adventure in Kenya. And when I can remember that clearly, I know it’s more important than patio furniture and extra plates. It’s really hard to remember, though.

That’s why I’m working on my “deserve” language. Not to go all Physch 101 on you, but it makes a big difference for me. When I see cute sandals on sale or a sundress on clearance, I stop myself from having a little pity party. I try to stop myself from thinking, “I work hard, and I deserve these sandals” and remind myself, “I deserve to go on this trip”. A little reframing works wonders.

I’m not saying I’m great at it or that I never, ever sink into the “pity mes!”, but I’m getting better.

When things start to get a little rough, something always comes along to help. I’d stopped looking at futon options because I was never finding something I wanted. I would get discouraged, look at what the big box stores offered, cringe at what they cost, and get frustrated. So I gave myself a break. I stopped checking everyday on Craigslist. I would rather not look for a futon and not have one than look daily and feel discouraged. Then, one day, when I was having a good day and not being the queen of my own pity party, I searched Craigslist. I’ve learned not to browse right now – I see too many things I want, and that’s a fast way to throw on my pity party hat.

And I found this:

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I am in love. Does it smell like it’s been in your great-grandmother’s basement for the past several decades? Yes. Yes it does. It smells even after we let it air out in the back of Logan’s truck for a day. If you have tips on how to get rid of the antique store smell, I’ll take them. Otherwise, it’s perfect. (To be fair to the futon, I should mention Logan likes the smell.)

The beginning of June also brought our two year anniversary. We decided the best present for each of us would just be to have a real date where we didn’t have to be all creative and think of something free to do besides sit on the couch and stare at each other. We went classic: dinner and a movie. I bought dinner. He bought the movie. Those were the only gifts exchanged, and it was wonderful. A dinner where we don’t have to wash our two plates? A movie that’s not on our tv screen? It’s not hard to please us these days.

See? This is us being super pleased by a normal date.

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Now, on to the actual savings. The move has really set me back. By February of the Spending Freeze, the money I made one month went to pay the next month’s bills. I was not living paycheck to paycheck for the first time ever. I’ve gotten behind on that, and my savings isn’t growing as fast as it once was.

But I haven’t quit.

In June, I put back $188.

In July, thanks largely in part to an overnight extremely generous babysitting job, I put back $366.

It’s discouraging to not see the big numbers I was seeing at the beginning of the year. That was the risk I took though, moving cities, moving into a house, taking a lower paying job. It sucks sometimes, but I am happier now than I have ever been. That’s not an exaggeration. It’s worth it.

Five more months to go.

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