Monday, June 29, 2009

The 6 Month Report

So, in 43 minutes, it will be the last day of the 6th month of the year... close enough for me to feel as though it is time for a 6 month report on my New Year's Resolution... which was to "spend less money and reduce my debts". In reviewing the post I made about said resolution in January, I can safely say that a lot of the changes I've made have not only become second nature, but have really made a difference in helping me reach my goals.

To briefly review, I first took a look at all of my bills and cut/reduced what I could - quit the gym, changed my cell phone plan, reduced my cable package and Netflix package, and so on.

After trimming whatever bills I could, I decided to write down every penny I spent. I have been doing this every single day since January 1, and it has been very illuminating. Here are a few things I have learned:

1. Coffee and bagels are a slippery slope, and the few bucks add up. Better to make coffee at home, and if you really "need" a bagel, buy them at the grocery store.
2. Writing things down sort of automatically makes me spend less - you can't be in denial about where the money is going.
3. I spend about $350 a month on groceries, eating out, and entertainment. This is actually pretty good, in my opinion. I also think that this is a lot less than I used to spend - again, keeping track seems to be helping.
4. It is a lot harder to earn money back to pay off a credit card bill than it is to just not spend it in the first place. Is that splurge on a fancy new outfit REALLY worth it? Possibly every once in a while, but definitely not every time the urge strikes.
5. My desire to buy new stuff has been seriously dampened. This goes for yarn, too. I've spent about $60 on yarn all year so far, and all of that yarn was either required to finish a project I had already started, or was for a gift I did not have appropriate yarn for.

As for making extra money, I have done various odd jobs, as described before on this blog. The one odd job I continue to do is test knitting. Check this out - I'm on my 19th "for-pay" knitting project since the beginning of the year! Amazingly, during that time, I have also managed to complete 13 projects for myself, including 3 sweaters, 7 pairs of socks, and various other projects. Not too shabby, I must say. I can only imagine how small my stash would be right now if I had been only knitting with my own yarn!

And, finally, I should mention that I am keeping up with my "debt pay-down" plan, as well. I am optimistic that at some point within the next 36 months, I will be able to say that I no longer have a student loan or a second mortgage. Now, that sounds really nice!

So, that's the 6 month status report. I am optimistic that the rest of the year will go well, too. Wish me luck!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Maxi Dress - I'm Confused

Soooo, this spring, everyone is advertising and selling maxi dresses - halter top or spaghetti strap dresses, frequently with an empire waist, and trailing alllll the way down to the ground. I was excited to see this style, because I think it would look good on me. In fact, I actually bought one the other day at Target, and it looks pretty cute!

My confusion is this: who in the world are they making these dresses for??? The one I bought (as well as all of the others I tried on) came all the way down to my feet - the hem actually touches my feet, people! For any of you who have never seen me in person, I'm 5'11" tall... which places me in the top 1% of all women... which means that these danged dresses really couldn't possibly fit anyone whose shoulders are any closer to the ground than mine are, without the dang thing dragging on the ground.

Personally, I am as pleased as punch - a cute, trendy look that I can actually carry off! However, I'm sure it's a look that will fade fast, since the other 99% of women are going to pick the dress up (if they can actually REACH the high-up rack these dresses have to hang from), hold it up to them, and realize a foot of fabric is lying on the ground. A non starter - that dress will never even make it into the dressing room!

ANYWAY, I intend to rock this style for as long as it's still cool - it's a nice way to look glamorous but still be comfy - the dress I got is a knit jersey fabric... nice!

Apologies to the other 99% of women out there... if you have a sewing machine, perhaps you can hem a maxi dress to your liking???

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Thankful

At this time of the school year, I am incredibly thankful that I did not receive a pink slip on the 15th. Dozens and dozens and dozens of school employees received them, but I did not receive one. True, most of these people will have these pink slips rescinded prior to the first of the fiscal year (July 1), but they have to wait and worry until then, and my heart goes out to them. I attended a union meeting today, where we discussed possible concessions that we as a unit could offer up to the school board, so as to preserve as many jobs as possible, and I am hopeful that negotiations will go well.

It was hard to sit at this meeting and look around at all of the anxious faces - one woman noted to our table that her husband had just been laid off, and that she also just received a pink slip. What an absolute nightmare!

I worry that things will get worse before they get better, but I am incredibly grateful that I am most likely safe for one more year.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Tossing Some Crochet Into The Mix!

Although I am a knitting fiend, I do also know how to crochet. I've been rather successful in my efforts to bring little to no new yarn into my home, and have been 'shopping the stash' any time I want to start a new project. This past weekend, I didn't really feel like picking up any of my current WIPS, so I impulsively dragged out a BIG bag of acrylic yarn that I bought some time in 2008 (an impulse purchase at the time; no idea why I had planned to make a crochet afghan). What better way to blast through a BIG bunch of stash yarn?

Of course, it is an ill timed project... who wants to keep a big, warm, cozy afghan on their lap while they are working away on it? However, after only a couple of afternoons of work, it's already 16 inches long... at that rate, it will be just over 5 feet long in 8 full evenings... not sure whether those 8 evenings will all be soon or later, but they will happen eventually, I suppose! Irritatingly, I think I will have to buy more yarn to finish the blankie, but if I buy it on sale, it won't be too expensive to complete.

The colors are quite pretty, and it's decent acrylic - check it out so far:



I feel like the colors are a bit richer and prettier in real life. Interestingly, a lot of the colors match the stripey chair I have in my living room... I'm not sure if I'll keep the blankie or give it away... but considering the matchy aspect, maybe I'll keep it!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

I was zazzed!

Last night, after trying to make plans with a friend which potentially involved some convoluted idea of when/where to take a bike ride, I became quite zazzed about the idea of riding my bicycle. So zazzed, in fact, that I woke up earlyish and went for a 20 mile ride this morning. I've gone on a handful of rides so far this spring, but none yet where I just rolled out the front door of my home... I had been bringing my bike by car to somewhere so the whole ride would be quiet and pretty. One disadvantage of the 'coming home' part is an unavoidable stretch of cobblestones... quite jangly on a bicycle!

Anyway, it was a very nice ride. I evidently enjoy exercising when it is cool and cloudy out, and this morning did not dissapoint. 55 degrees when I set out, and not a single ray of sun to be seen - perfect! Now that I'm home, I feel a bit clammy, but that is when a hot shower feels best, in my opinion! Anyway, I'll have to break the news to my friend that we will not be going on a ride together this evening; at least, not on bikes!

The sun did start peeping out a little bit near the very end of my ride - I am hopeful that it makes a more grand appearance later on today! Enjoy your weekends, everyone!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Whoa, Another Job?

A while back, I mentioned that part time jobs keep falling in my lap. Today, it happened again! I received a call from Student Support Services (a department within the Lowell Public School Department) saying that there was a family that needed some mental health support over the summer. I won't be too specific about the family demographics, as it would be very easy to identify the family. It is a family that has arrived to the US fairly recently, and they have two children, both of whom have the same noncurable genetic disorder that prevents them from being able to go to school. The disorder is medical in nature, and the school environment is simply too dangerous to their physical well being.

Anyway, the children already receive in home tutoring and nursing assistance, but the school department and the family are worried about isolation and the children's mental health. Enter, me! The specifics of the job are a bit unclear, but it sounds like I might visit a couple of times a week and hang out/ interact with the kids. Even better, it is very close by to where I live, so it's not an annoying schlep anywhere inconvenient.

So, that's all of the information I have at the moment. I was very specific when I said I was not interested in anything more than a few small hours a week - so this would be pretty perfect, wouldn't it!