February 2018: birthday month edition

February was a bunch of working extra and two weekends spent out of town; one to see my parents, and the weekend closest to my birthday in LA. I’m now 26 so I guess that makes me Officially Old and Done With the Quarter-Life Crisis or something. Just kidding, the quarter-life crisis will for sure continue, probably on multiple fronts! Boy am I glad I figured out the financial aspect and am working on the FIRE thing so I at least know that what I want to be when I grow up includes not being tied to a 9-5!

General sarcasm at myself/my ongoing “what do I want to do in life?” emergency soul-searching aside, turns out there’s not much new to report since I wrote about much of it as it happened. So if you missed all that because for some unfathomable reason you haven’t been religiously keeping up with my posts, go read them (whoops, sorry, the sarcasm continues)! And PS I’ve now got a handy archives page so you can go catch up on everything 😉

These LA beach pics are just going to continue to show up forever until I make another trip and take some new ones

Monthly experiments

It’s not worth making a separate post for this since my February experiments were way less ambitious than my January ones, so I’m folding this in here.

February experiments

So the reading every day thing didn’t go too well. I know, this is weird coming from me. But February was unexpectedly full of me running around trying desperately to keep everything in order and not nearly enough downtime. I’m just thankful for the flights to and from LA since that was the bulk of my reading time this month!

I think part of the problem was the hurdle of starting and getting into a new book; if I could only read the first chapter (or was in danger of falling asleep in the middle of it), was it worth even starting it? This exact phenomenon is why I said I wanted to read slightly less non-fiction and more fiction this year, since I find it much easier to put down and randomly pick back up a book if it’s fiction.

On the other hand, I am genuinely STOKED about the books I’ve got out from the library at the moment so you’d think that would be enough to overcome that mental hurdle (hah, who knew my “just start” advice would apply to books?!?). But no, most of my theoretical reading time would happen right before bed and when I’m tired I just can’t make myself choose a new book and instead opt to go straight to sleep.

As far as the TV ban, I broke it. BUT I only broke it a few evenings to watch season two of The Good Place, and other than that the month was TV-free. I have zero regrets. I’m not a huge TV person in general, and watching a show that’s currently in progress is a rarity for me (some of the shows I’ve watched in the last two years or so? Parks and Rec, 30 Rock, The OC, and The West Wing. So yeah…). I guess that’s good news/bad news on the binge-watching front in that I don’t usually have to wait for new seasons, but my binge-watching is not—for my own good—restricted to only one season at a time? ?‍♀️ Anyway, I heard that season two of The Good Place was out, and TV ban be damned, I was going to watch it.

Also The Good Place is great and funny and a positive breath of fresh air in the face of the overwhelming EVERYTHING (you can’t see me but I’m waving vaguely at the entire world) happening right now. So you should go watch it.

March experiments

Did you notice that part above when I was talking about being tired? I’ve mentioned before that I have sleep issues, and I’m still very much in the process of getting all of that figured out (long story short, it might be narcolepsy and an inability to regulate my sleep/wake cycles which would explain why I am tired ALL THE TIME and yet also sleep horribly at night. But I need to go in for a sleep study to get that figured out for sure and then there’s the constant tweaking of medications. Guys, I just love my brain chemistry!!).

Part of that process has included creating a process of strict sleep hygiene, including a set time to go to bed, and a pre-bed ritual including way less staring at screens right before bed (oh hey, did you know reading is a good thing to do in the evening?).

But hahahahaha my blog laughs at you, sleep doctor!

Ahem. In theory, I’m getting PLENTY of sleep (on nights I’m not writing because yeah the blog thing is so incompatible with all of this) if I go to sleep at 11:30 and wake up at 7:30 for work. And yet, I’m still constantly exhausted, even when I have been good about actually going to bed on time. Which I haven’t lately, but this has been going on long enough that I know it’s not a function of being ridiculously busy so far this year.

Before I start messing around with medication dosages again or trying new ones, I’ve been meaning to play around with my set bedtime to see if maybe I’m just one of those people who NEEDS nine hours a night or something. That would absolutely, totally be a drag (don’t get me wrong, I love sleep, but I have too much to do to spend that much time sleeping every day!) and I also suspect that won’t fix things, but it would be nice to officially rule out. Since I’ve been meaning to do this for half a year at this point, I’m going to take March as an opportunity to do so.

So I’m going to try to start going to bed at 11 instead of 11:30. Perhaps I’ll push it all the way back to 10:30 in a few weeks (omg so early, how am I supposed to fit barre and dinner and everything else into my evening if I go to bed that early??), but I’ll see how 11:00 goes for now.

All bets are off on writing nights. I don’t want to talk about how long it takes me to write posts sometimes/how late I go to bed on those particularly slow nights.

And because I can’t have just one thing to focus on, MORE READING. And less anxiety about needing to read ALL THE BOOKS NOW especially because I suspect for most of the books I currently have out that I won’t be able to renew them because they’ll have holds. And then I’ll have to go through the process of requesting the same book again and waiting for a copy to get to me.

That’s a drag. Just reading the dang things less so. So more of the reading every day thing in March.


Book shopping!

Speaking of reading, I’ve had a few books on my list that I read last year and decided I wanted to buy because I was going to read them again. I was stymied by the no spend month in January, but that meant February was my month to go wild.

And by wild, I mean spending an absolutely reasonable amount on books because I first see if I can buy a book used. Better for the planet, better for my wallet. I first learned about Thriftbooks back in college (yes, I was trying to find the cheapest options for textbooks even if I wasn’t generally smart with money back then) and it continues to be a good option for used books.

The best kind of online shopping! ?? #booksarethebest #buyused

A post shared by Erin (@reachingforfi) on

And my haul:

Not pictured: Bad Feminist, which was only available new on Thriftbooks, so I just bought it from Amazon while I was buying something else there anyway

Full disclosure: I haven’t yet read Bird by Bird because I had to wait for it from the library for an uncharacteristically long time (it’s been on hold since early last summer and I’ve spent less time waiting for new releases even when I was number 250 on the list so I don’t know what was up). But given the number of times I’ve seen it recommended, I figured it was a safe bet. And if I read it (ahhh panic, too many books, too little time!) and decide it’s not one I want to own, I paid all of $4 for it. Used books are great.

Market fluctuations

Okay, okay, no more about reading. Back to the money thing.

As a pretty new investor, I experienced my first noticeable drops in the stock market this month. It’s all static since I’m not touching any of my investments for a very long time, but given that I track my daily spending via an app that also shows me my net worth, I can’t help but notice the fluctuations!

Just to give you an idea of how this has looked for me, I’m going to share some numbers that I don’t usually (by which I mean the amount my net worth changed over the month). For the sake of absolute simplicity, I’m going to leave out my income and contributions to my investment accounts here. I paid off $3,394 in credit card debt in February so you’d expect at least a corresponding increase in my net worth. Haha, nope. My net worth grew by a whopping $1,415.05 this month, ouch! Dammit, market, why couldn’t you have waited until March for the correction?!?

Yes, I’m miffed at the horrible timing that meant my net worth didn’t suddenly shoot up to an amazing new high this month, but oh well. I’m going to take this opportunity again to celebrate that I AM CONSUMER DEBT-FREE! And now I’ll have more cash available to send to my various investment accounts if the market continues to drop.

February numbers

So, in addition to paying off my credit cards, how’d I do on everything else in February?



My half of rent
Internet and utilities


My half of utilities


Whew, that’s low! I suppose that’s what happens when you’re out of town for half of your weekends and eat a bunch of leftovers for the rest of the month
Student loans


I sent an additional $350 over after my usual automatic payment


Barre membership


Barre fee


Ugh, this is what happens when you forget to cancel a class in advance ?‍♀️


Personal care


Charitable giving


I’ve set up a recurring monthly donation of $25 to Planned Parenthood
Misc shopping


Finally bought the books I’ve been itching to get!
Misc dues/subscriptions


Now that I’ve paid Spotify for the year, these are my Patreon fees


Misc LA trip spending
Total spending:


Paychecks and other income


Side hustle income


Second job minus money to the tax account and the occasional Lyft to work (looking at you, super early Sunday morning farmers’ market shifts) AND a petsitting check ?


Birthday money from my parents


I’m still waiting on my DC return, but my Federal return came in
Total income:




43% savings rate. Thank you, short month and tax return!

8 Replies to “February 2018: birthday month edition”

  1. Awesome savings rate!! Love seeing those tax returns bring that income up right!? And this expenses are pretty low especially considering all the traveling you did.

    That seems like a whirlwind of a month though. I too noticed I haven’t been getting great sleep the last year or two, though I suspect my habits before bed haven’t been doing me any favors (looking at you iPhone).

    I’ve been meaning to try that experiment of not looking at your phone for an hour before going to bed, but just haven’t gotten around to it. Maybe we need to set up a challenge to incentivize us and see if it helps!

    1. Haha this is why I can’t find it in me to see an actual downside to getting a tax return. February was awesome because of it, and March should be AMAZING when I finally get my DC return!

      Oh yeah, even when I’m not up too late staring at my computer and editing a post, I have such a problem just putting down my damn phone even though I know it’s horrible for me. You’re on! April challenge since it’s a bit too late for March now? ?

      1. Let’s do it!! I think it would be really interesting to see the results and if it helps our sleep or not.

        Worst case we just end up getting a break from our phones and computers and there’s nothing wrong with that! Maybe that’ll help with my procrastination writing posts too! ?

        1. Excellent, April challenge it is!

          Haha I don’t know that it’ll help me with my posts since usually I don’t have too big of a Twitter/phone issue when I’m trying to write. I’m just so slow! So I suspect those will sadly still be late nights for me ?

  2. Soooo close to that 50% savings rate this past month! And I hate to break it to you, but I’m someone who totally needs 9+ hours of sleep to be totally rested. The flip side is that it means I’m energized to be super productive throughout the day since I do get enough sleep.

    1. So close! Since I’m apparently getting my DC return this month instead, I’ll have zero reason not to be at (or really, above) 50% so here’s me telling you this as accountability.

      Ughhhhhh yes that much sleep would be wonderful, but I’d have to quit my job in order to fit everything I need and want to do in a day around 9 hours of sleep. I mean, that’s obviously the dream, haha! But I don’t think I’m *quite* there yet financially 😉

  3. Happy belated birthday! And 43% savings is slaying the dragon. I’m struggling to maintain 40% now that my salary has been slashed in half. It’s all good

    I too have sleep issues that come and go. I attribute mine to “active brain syndrome” which I just made up. Clinically that could be called anxiety, but not sure :/

    1. Thank you! Oh I am well-acquainted with the “active brain syndrome” (and obviously that good old anxiety thing, too), which obviously means you’ve just coined a legitimate new diagnosis! ?

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