The Plan

A new year always seems to inspire change and I’m definitely feeling the inspiration.  My inspiration for change comes from facing some harsh realities and being honest with myself.

My perception of my financial situation:tumblr_inline_nb3x4gsfsa1s4672p1

Reality:  I’m spending too much money and  using credit to fill in the gaps. 

As I began google searching “how painful is plasma donation” and “how to donate an egg” I realized I was heading down a dark road.  When I begin contemplating selling off parts of myself it’s time a serious reality check, which is what I had this morning.

What better time than the first of the year to have a serious conversation with yourself?

I dug through a folder labeled “Mom” (a good place to start when looking for words of wisdom) looking for a simple handmade booklet titled “The Plan” and I found it.

Over a decade ago I went through some very serious financial struggles, bouncing checks, overspending, and basically ignoring the problem.  I had a drawer of unpaid bills, maxed out credit cards, an eviction notice, and an insane amount of stress.  My mom came to the rescue but going through the drawer with her was like this

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After that terrifying reality check my mom gave me The Plan.  I’m not hiding bills in a drawer and nothing is overdue.  Part of it is moving and starting a new job in a new field left me making half the money but paying twice as much in expenses.  3a37ef7971fddd0fff064112524879d5eedf404b9a660548e4aebb1e6a37f7bd

I need to get a serious grasp on my finances and create a budget, so I grab “The Plan”IMG_0978 (1)*Typo-give up self-indulgence

“First thing–you have to face your debt…”

“Stop using any credit cards-now”

I grabbed my wallet and pulled out the credit cards.  I keep an in case of emergency card and the rest go away.

“Gather all your bills together.  From the bills add all minimum payments (don’t focus on the balances now just look at the minimum payment required).  Don’t forget to include payments which you might not have statements for, rent, etc.”  

This morning I wrote out a list of all the bills I pay each month, the amount of the payment, and when the bill is due.  I added everything together to find the amount of my monthly expenses.

“Calculate your monthly income”

Done.

“If your income equaled more than monthly expense and yet the bills are still not getting paid-you need the plan.
If your income is less than your monthly expenses-you really need the plan.”

Monthly income-Monthly expenses=Left over money……

…I need the plan.

The next step involves writing down when the bills are due and dividing the list of bills between paychecks.  I get paid twice per month so I split my bills between those two checks.  If you have to, prioritize what needs paid the full amount right away, basic needs come first, shelter, heat, food.

“If you have to pay less than the minimum make some phone calls and set up payments.  Do not skip payments-if all you have is $5 or $10-send it in, a small payment is better than no payment.”  

This is important.  Most companies are willing to work with you but you have to communicate with them otherwise they think you’re just avoiding paying off your bill.

Now that I’ve figured out my monthly bills and income I know how much money I have “left over” each month.  This money goes toward the rest of the expenses I didn’t include with my bills:  grocery, cat, car, entertainment.  Those are my main expenses.

The “left over” money is not a significant amount but it’s enough.  Enough to buy gas, food, cat food, even have some money to go out every once in a while, and for savings.

“Start a savings account as soon as possible-save a little each payday-even if it’s $5-it will over time add up.”  

One of the components that made me so successful last time I did this was I used ONLY cash for my weekly budget.  I quit carrying my debit card with me all the time and I’m going to do this again for a while until things are back under control.  Once the cash was gone I was done spending for the week.  If I budgeted $20 and spent $10 eating out, $5 on coffee, then I might only have $5 to buy gas for my car.  It significantly cut down on my impulse spending.

A few more tips from the original plan

“Remember what’s important and where you want to be in a few years.”
“Try keeping your spending money in an envelope-write on the outside exactly what the money is for.”
“A dollar spent here and there will destroy your budget.”

The Plan is not overly complicated.  It’s nothing new.  It’s not a revolutionary expense plan.  It’s like my meal plans, simple, easy to follow, something that works for me and might work for other people.

I’ll be sharing more tips and tricks for managing a budget as I move forward with “The Plan”

Reflecting back on last year I had so many major changes and I’m proud of my accomplishments but I also recognize some back slide on some of the progress I made when I wasn’t working so I’ll be having a couple more reality check posts.  If I want to be successful in my goals for the next year, read about those here, I have to be honest with myself and make plans.

Happy New Year!!  Not to be too cliche but I’m excited to be in 2016 and look forward to making it an amazing year!

change

 

 

Santa’s Photographer

Written December 9th, 2015

Can you tell I love the movie Elf?  It’s strange because I didn’t immediately fall in love with it for some reason.  It took a few viewings but it’s now climbed the ranks of my favorite Christmas movies.

As you guys know I struggle with finding the balance between social butterfly and total hermit.   Last night was a holiday get-together we do for clients and their families.  We do one in the winter and one in the summer so this was the first one I’ve attended.  It’s weeks of preparations for a 3 hour event with tons of food, presents, and cookies….Did I mention the cookie room?  That’s right…cookie room 😀  I should have taken a picture

I volunteered to take the Santa pictures because I like to take pictures and the camera they were going to use is….not so good.  I also opened my mouth about helping to pick out a printer to use for the event and for future events….This is where my anxiety really set in.

I like to be in control of everything but don’t always to have full responsibility.  I know it’s just my way of keeping myself out of trouble if something goes wrong but I realize it also shows the doubt I have in my own abilities.  I know it’s not a good thing and I’m working on it.

I picked out a printer and got it going without incident.  It’s easy to use so everyone will be able to use it for future events plus the photo quality is excellent.

In the morning before the event I was thinking, “Why did I volunteer to do this?  I don’t take people pictures.”  Again, more doubt seeping into my mind.

Thankfully the event was a success and the Santa pictures came out great!  The population we work with doesn’t always have the opportunity or money for a family photo so to be able to take their pictures, and print them right away was really nice.

Presents can also be a challenge when money is tight.  All the children that attend received a handmade quilt, a scarf and hat, plus one other present.  It’s also an opportunity for everyone to get a hot, homemade meal.

On a slightly selfish note it’s also good, especially as a new employee, to participate in these types of events.  I was introduced to people from different offices, and had the opportunity to once again meet my boss’s boss’s boss’s boss.  I even took her picture with Santa and that picture should be featured on the company website.

This event is another reason why I love my new job.  I missed out on the opportunity to give back as often as I would have liked at my old job.  I loved participating in this event and look forward to continuing to participate in the future.

I’m skipping Meal Plan Monday this week but I’ll be posting some other topics and I’ll be back with my meal plans next week 🙂

 

 

 

 

Changing My Ways

….or trying to anyways.

I’m starting my new position at the end of next week so I’m trying to write all the reports I’ve already been assigned so I don’t have to pass off my work to anyone else.  I’m very eager to start this new job.  I love the job I’m doing now, love the people I’m working with, and I haven’t really been in the position long enough to feel bored but this change is exciting.

Starting a new job gives you an opportunity to evaluate yourself.

New challenges are refreshing and invigorating. Working with new people in a new environment doing a job that’s so vastly different from what you’ve done all your life makes you recognize both your strengths and weaknesses.  I realize one of my struggles is a fear of failure and fear of making mistakes.  The perfectionist in me is terrified of saying the wrong thing, writing the wrong thing in an email or report, missing a deadline, missing a step in some process, asking a silly question, etc…

Recognizing this in myself reminds me why being a perfectionist is both a strength and a weakness.  It sometimes causes me to hesitate, to question myself, to dwell and to worry.  I try to plan for everything in a job where the next step often depends on the behavior of other people, which is not always predictable.  I often talk about my rational and irrational mind. Rationally, I know mistakes happen, everyone makes mistakes sometimes but in my irrational mind mistakes are unacceptable.  I used to think it was just a fear of getting in trouble but I realize it’s much deeper than that, it’s a fear of disappointing other people, fear of disappointing myself.

On performance reviews at my previous jobs the areas I always needed to work on were delegation (How can a perfectionist trust someone else to do something?) and decision-making (I was told to trust myself and my decision making process).  Sadly these things are still an issue for me but I feel like I’m finally at the place in my life where I can make progress on changing these things about myself.

Will I ever completely give up my perfectionist, control freak ways?  No, but I can allow myself to make mistakes sometimes just to show myself that I will survive.  I can try to worry less about making the wrong decision and learn to trust my instincts.  People put me in the job I’m in right now because they trust my abilities so I need to have faith in my own ability and be confident.

Feel free to share your thoughts.  Any fellow perfectionists out there who face the same struggles?  Or maybe some who have found a way to let go of some of the need for perfection?