Who Ate My Pie? December Spending Roundup

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Lots to cover in this one:

  • $27.39 – TJ Maxx – a new handbag, after the number of holes in my old one finally became intolerable. I was hoping to wait and find a higher-quality, more “perfect” one, but alas. I used it up, wore it out, and made it do … until it didn’t.
  • $52.80 – Amazon – shower chair (who’s old!) for an upcoming infirmity
  • $37.60 – Chevron – gas
  • $80 – Christmas Tree (also a fundraiser supporting a local HIV testing and support center)
  • $9.99 – Trader Joe’s – holiday wreath to brighten my basement rental
  • $46.49 – Target – two new guest pillows to replace those that now live in my basement, a new body pillow for sleeping, and Oxy Clean laundry powder
  • $68.80 – Superfeet – two pairs of insoles after finally accepting my others (5+ years old) no longer give me the support I need
  • $23.29 – Lowe’s – a large board and supplies for a new Ikea-hack “built in” bookcase and media center for my living room (more on this to come!)
  • $167.49 – Ikea – Three Billy bookcases to make a new media center
  • $59.95 – Footsmart – A fancy pants pair of Keen winter slippers with heavy duty soles. I am going to take good care of these and will only wear them inside and never, ever for walking Cheddar Pup.

Total — $573.80

I don’t typically include gifts in this list, but since it’s the holiday season, I’ll include a Spending Roundup Special Edition for gifts in December:

  • $355 – cash bonuses to a few of the people who help me and deserve a special holiday thank you (support staff at work, Cheddar Pup caretakers, my monthly housekeeper, and yard service)
  • $78.13 – gifts for Sweetie Pie and Roommie Pie (not including a gift of future cake-and-pie baking for Sweetie Pie, which Roommie Pie and I will certainly benefit from as well)
  • $55.62 – supplies for homemade organic vanilla extract, which resulted in holiday and hostess gifts for 20 friends
  • $158.22 – gifts for my family (mom, dad, sister, nephew, close friends)
  • For wrapping, I still have a huge roll of paper and ribbon left from last year that I got at Ikea. I am not sure how much it cost, but not more than a few dollars. I like it in part because it’s plain red striped so I can use it for a variety of occasions, not just Christmas. I also used some existing cardstock and art supplies for tags, labels, and gift certificates.

Holiday Gifts Total — 646.97. Frugal? I hate even asking this question … I’m happy giving each and every one of these and I think/hope I found things that the recipients will use and appreciate. I love giving gifts and so this is always a fun time of year for me.

So long 2015, Onward and Onward to 2016!

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Ever since I was a kid I’ve been very goal oriented and weirdly motivated by the endorphin rush that comes from checking something off my to do list. So it should come as no surprise I enjoy this time of year — reflecting back on what goals I accomplished the past year, kicking myself with a few face punches (metaphorical) for the ones I didn’t, and looking ahead and making lots and lots of lists for the coming year.

2015 was a mixed year for me, though I would say I leave it with a sense of generally pretty spectacularly amazeballs awesome — overall, financially, it was a very solid year, though not without some important lessons. Personally, it couldn’t have been better — Sweetie Pie moved closer to me after being in a different city for two years; I traveled a lot and saw many, many old friends; I started to feel like my house is becoming my home; and I started exploring all sorts of new pursuits outside of work (like this blog!), and somehow managed to achieve some balance of not feeling perpetually “busy” (I chalk that one up to good old fashioned gratitude!). Professionally, however, last year was a disappointment — I had some tough days at work and have been embroiled in some deep soul searching about where I might want to go next, how to get there, and the best recipe for lemonade in the meantime.

In terms of my specific goals, here’s the rundown: Continue reading So long 2015, Onward and Onward to 2016!

FTPH: Holiday Gratitude

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Dear Cheddar,

Don’t you just hate winter? It’s cold and dark and the holidays are the WORST. I hate spending so much money and my family drives me crazy!

Everyone Else

Dear Everyone,

Au contraire, my friend, I love this time of year — here in the Northwest, it’s cold, rainy, wet, and glorious. From Halloween to New Year’s Day, I get such a warm and cozy feeling from the food, the cheer, and spending time with people I love. Sure, there are occasional holiday stresses, but for the most part, I’ve found a good balance of being able to make time for myself, celebrate with loved ones in ways that don’t feel forced, and frugalize my gift giving in ways that don’t detract from the generous spirit of the season. I get along with my and Sweetie Pie’s families, find a strange amount of joy in decorating my Christmas tree, and love the extra snuggle time I get with Cheddar Pup. And there is nothing like a good cup of tea with a Youtube Yule Log.

I hope you all find similar warmth in your holiday celebrations wherever they may take you! Thanks for reading and for encouraging me to keep up with this blog. It’s been a fun year.

Love,

Cheddar

The Best $4 I Ever Earned

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There are so many things I’m learning on my path to financial independence — one of those is that sudden recognition that I have no idea what I want to do with my time when I am no longer beholden to The Grind. I know I will always want to keep working to a limited extent, but I don’t have a “dream” job in mind. Ihave a lot of hobbies I enjoy doing, but nothing that really grabs me as something I’d want to do even close to full time or would be capable of doing as a means of income production.

In the dual interests of figuring out what I might want to do with more time on my hands and making the most of my current situation, I’ve been trying to pursue more creative endeavors this year and have generally been doing a pretty good job of that — from writing this blog, to refurbishing my basement, to making lots of art, to maybe finally, eventually, really for reals opening that Etsy shop I’ve been talking about for so long.  Continue reading The Best $4 I Ever Earned

Book Review: The Total Money Makeover

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Welcome to my book club! My dreams of having a real-life financial book club have faded dramatically as many of my friends have come to have grown-up things like jobs, kids, and overseas moves. So you get me instead, and I’m hoping this will be a monthly occurrence. To kick things off, it seems right to start with Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover, which was the first actual hard-copy personal finance book I read after spending a couple of years following various finance blogs online.

I was a skeptic — celebrity finance gurus (or anything “gurus”) like Suze Orman and Dave Ramsey tend to raise my BS meter to the moon. My impression was that they provide one-size-fits-all advice that’s only applicable to a small segment of the population, while they make themselves a boatload of money preying on people’s fear — charging obscene sums for their workshops, courses, books, and celebrity appearances. Not my cup of chamomile, if you know what I mean.  Continue reading Book Review: The Total Money Makeover