When last I wrote, dear readers, I’d cliffhangered you at the end of the first of what’s likely to be an exhaustive series on how my first-ever request for a raise goes. I regret to inform you that today’s post is not a continuation of that series, which is something you’d probably surmised from the title.
Instead, since it’s a new month (also my birthday month! I suppose turning 26 means my quarter-life crisis will be over, right?), here’s an end of month update on the challenges I took on in January. I was decluttering, doing a no-spend/uber frugal month challenge, a barre challenge, and still trying to meditate every day.
In case that sounds like an overwhelming number of things to do all at once, may I remind you how the last bit of my first post of 2018, which laid out the four challenges I was doing, ended?
Ridiculously overly ambitious? We shall see!
In a surprise to absolutely no one, turned out it was ridiculously overly ambitious!
First up, decluttering. I gave this one my best shot, y’all. I kept up with the January cure for about two weeks, but I just fell off the wagon soon after.
— Erin | Reaching for FI (@reachingforfi) January 12, 2018
(And that was the last you heard about it from me… But I did clean out my pantry that weekend!)
A lot of things happened in the second half of this month: my car caused me some headaches. I spent a whole lot of time on the women of FI list, and then spent a lot of time a few days later making sure my birth control post wasn’t a bunch of incoherent keysmashing (writing posts takes a lot of time, and writing political ones even more so because I want to be sure I do them right so they’ll get read). Oh yeah, and my anxiety has been through the roof lately with that whole asking for a raise thing.
Decluttering just wasn’t a priority. I tried to make other things like preparing reasonably healthy meals a priority, especially once the stress ramped up, but I wasn’t great at that, either. I ate a fair amount of frozen pizza and nachos this month because they were easy. Didn’t help that I found tortilla chips on sale a few weeks ago for 50% off, either…
The good news about decluttering is it’s generally a slow process. I did not miss some window of opportunity that has now closed forever, but instead can continue to go through my things slowly, one area at a time. I haven’t taken down my Christmas tree yet, but when I do sometime soon, that’ll be an opportunity to sort through the holiday decorations I have and decide what to keep or not.
And nope, the mediation didn’t happen either, although with as stressed as I’ve been recently, you could argue it was even more necessary than usual. At some point in the future I will actually make this a habit that sticks, but it was not to be in January.
Crushed it! I needed to go to 20 classes for the challenge, and I went to class #20 on the 30th, so I finished a day early.
In some ways, it was nice to go once or twice a week more often than I normally do. I was feeling really good for a few days there around week three: more flexible, less stiff. The spa yoga class didn’t hurt at all, either!
But on the other hand, it’s been cold, and I feel older and stiffer and it takes longer to warm up at the beginning of class when it’s 20 degrees out. The tendonitis in my ankles (#formerballerinaproblems) especially acts up when it’s cold, and exercising more often than I normally do tends to exacerbate those problems.
While it was nice to work out more, I’m looking forward to going back to my normal schedule and not worrying about hitting a certain number of classes per week or month. For one, working out an extra evening a week has eaten up a lot of my free time this month. Considering chorus rehearsals have resumed and those take up an entire evening, I have even less time during the week now. Continuing to go to barre five times a week around rehearsal would mean I have one day off a week.
And I need time off to recover. If my knee is hurting one night (which sometimes it does. Because yes, ballet ruined pretty much all of my joints ?♀️), it’s nice to take the next day off to make sure it’s back to normal by the time I go back to barre. I pushed through some (minor! I obviously would’ve stopped if it hadn’t been pain I was already familiar with) pain this month and went to class on evenings I was dead tired because if I wanted to get all the classes in, I had to be strategic about the schedule.
Working around days I couldn’t go to barre because of commitments meant I didn’t really have any days off to just rest, and I do not intend to push through February. If I’m too tired, I’m too tired. But I’m glad I actually completed the challenge this year for once!
Uber Frugal Month challenge
Although I haven’t added everything up yet, aside from the budget-busting expenses earlier this month, it seems like it was a pretty low month for spending. Plus I was good about not buying anything extra!
Extra things I did buy this month
There have only been two unplanned purchases: one was a pair of tennis shoes at Costco for $30. Considering I average about 5 miles a day, the shoes I wear every day get a lot of wear and tear. These tennis shoes will not only let me make my current walking shoes last longer, but they also have more arch support, which is something I desperately need. I don’t regret this.
The other unplanned purchase was thermal curtains to help insulate my apartment a bit better from the cold. Military Dollar recommended some, and at $4 per panel, what did I have to lose? I don’t know that they’re blocking out any more cold air, but they’re certainly blocking out more light.
This is a good news/bad news situation: the curtains I usually have hanging in my room are a fun, patterned, completely translucent pair that don’t block out any light. Which I don’t mind because as I’ve said before, I’m a solar-powered human. Perhaps part of the reason I don’t tend to sleep in late on weekends is because I’ve got a bunch of light streaming in. These new thermal curtains certainly block out most of the light so it’s easier to sleep in.
Although it’s easier to sleep in. I was half an hour late to work yesterday because I was still asleep when I turned my alarms off and have no memory of doing so. I’m glad I have a weekday alarm set for a few minutes before I need to leave the apartment, just as a reminder of what time it is in the morning, because that’s the alarm that woke me up yesterday. I clearly needed more sunlight (especially because it was actually sunny yesterday!) coming in to signal to my brain that I needed to be up. In my defense, it’s been a stressful week and extra sleep is not a bad thing (and the beauty of an hour lunch leave is it’s slush time that can cover the rare mornings I oversleep).
I relaxed a bit with keeping an eye on my grocery spending this month, so it might be slightly higher than normal when I add it up. Honestly, I’m fine with that. It was part of the Uber Frugal Month challenge to interrogate your grocery spending, but if my impulse purchases came out this month in the form of things I rarely buy at the grocery store, that’s not the end of the world.
Yes, I’m trying to justify that on-sale bag of chips I bought a few days ago because a) it was on sale and b) it’s been a stressful week. It’s a good thing I don’t regularly ask for a raise! ?
I didn’t give in to temptation!
The no-spending win this month, though? I didn’t use my Christmas Amazon gift card to buy books like I reeeeaaaaaalllllly wanted to at the beginning of January! That sucker’s still untouched, and now that it’s February, it’s time to buy some books!
And speaking of buying books, I think I want to commit to reading every day in February for at least 15 minutes.
I usually read before bed most nights (when I’m not up too late writing a blog post, that is), but lately I’ve been really bad at doing so. More often than not I’ve spent evenings scrolling through Twitter or staying up late reading blog posts or playing games on my phone while half-paying attention to an episode of something on the TV. I need more reading in my life.
Plus it’s a stress-reducer. I’ve got 19 books out from the library at the moment, and while I may be capable of amazing feats on occasion, not even I am good enough to read all 19 books in such a short amount of time. I’ve been playing a perpetual game for months with the library of check out book, renew, renew until I can’t anymore because someone’s requested it, return it to the library, put it on hold, wait for it to come in, check it out again, sit on shelf, renew, ad nauseum.
This is the absolutely most ridiculous thing to complain about, but it’s stressful to decide which book to start reading and wonder if I’ll get more than partway through it before it has to go back! I’ve got a short list of books I’ve finished this month, but a much longer list of ones I was partway through before I had to return them and immediately put them on hold again. Then I have to decide if I’m going to continue where I left off or if it’s been long enough that I should just start over.
Again, I’m fully aware that this is completely absurd.
You know what’s less ridiculous and more fun? Just reading books start to finish and not playing these games. So more reading time in February it is!
(This’ll be helped by the fact that I’ve got a roundtrip cross-country flight coming up in a few weeks. I’ve already started requesting Kindle versions of books so I can read multiple books on the plane without having to pack them.)
I don’t watch a ton of TV. I think there was a period last year where I went for two months without watching any and I didn’t miss it.
But I’m susceptible to falling back into habits of mindless TV watching, and that was definitely something that happened this month. It started out as a binge-watch of the newest season of
Scrotal Recall Lovesick (points off for changing the name, Netflix), and then turned into rewatching shows I’ve already seen while I was eating dinner. But the one episode during dinner quickly turned into maybe two, or whole evenings sometimes.
Some of it was not being intentional about paying attention to how many episodes I was watching or what time it was. Some of it was me wanting background noise on while I was eating dinner. And a lot of it lately has just been an easy way to pass time and get my mind off of how stressed I’ve been with the whole asking for a raise saga.
Relaxing isn’t a bad thing. But mindlessly sacrificing entire evenings is. Plus, again, I’ve got so many library books I could’ve been reading instead. So I’m going to commit to no TV in February to break out of the bad habit I’ve slipped into.
Onward into February!