Boozin’ for a Bruisin’

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It’s never too late in the month/year to add a goal to the list. This one definitely makes the list for a couple of reasons. Most of my challenges/goals thus far have not been all that challenging. Since I am frugal by nature, my usual goals such as “not eating out at lunch” are not as difficult as they are fun.

After a nasty hangover and a subsequent series of realizations, I’ve come to a challenge to add to my April goals that will actually be challenging. Quit drinking. Yes, we are halfway through April. But it’s April and it’s sunny, and there are festivals, and good fall brews galore, and patios to sit on, etc so I must start small. Wait, I forgot to mention I live in Atlanta so Sweetwater is everywhere. It’s really just cruel.

With all of that being said, I do live in Atlanta, and there are patios to sit on, and festivals, etc. all of which I can still enjoy with a nice cold…water. This statement is made easier by this nice calculator. 

Yes, it is just a calculator so you can do the same thing on your TI-83. BUT, for some reason I plugged the numbers into this online calculator instead and WOW. The numbers didn’t lie. Not only do I drink alot, but I spend even more. There really is nothing like filling in the little boxes with the number of drinks you consume in a sitting or a week to make you open your eyes to what a money pit drinking can be.

Not to mention all of the empty calories, ew.

So in the spirit of simplicity, frugality, and enjoying the finer things in life, I declare this No Alcohol April. Cheers!

-Sober Sally

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An Equation for Peace of Mind

Today I am going to address something that affects all investors everywhere. Fear. If you are like I was when I initially started investing, fear is what’s keeping you from moving forward in your investments. I am a worrier by nature, so it is very easy for me to fill my head with “what-ifs”. What if I lose my job, what if the Walking Dead plays out in real life, what if the economy tanks. Believe it or not, you are more in control of these events than you know. The answer to these “what-ifs”, that may or may not keep you up at night, lies in living today as if these things already happened. It just might happen that when you start living below your means, these new actions will become habits, and eventually open the doors to so many new possibilities. Let me explain.

One of the biggest fears that I have had in the past is the age old “what if I get laid off”. Although it was not an immediate threat to me and although I had 12 months of emergency funds saved, I still constantly worried. I decided to do something about it. I thought about how if I lost my job, I could make my emergency fund stretch for longer than it was intended. I decided to put it to the test and start living conservatively today, just to see if I could. I automated most of my investments and savings so that whenever I received a paycheck, 70% of it would be invested into other accounts. The remainder is what I used to live on. If you are going to try something similar, I would suggest starting at something reasonable, maybe 40-50% and increasing that amount monthly until you start to sweat a little.

After a month or more of living this way, it starts to become habit. For me it is a game of sorts – just how little can I live on (without sacrificing my quality of life)?  If  you are in debt, this may be less exciting but just think, eventually all of that money you aren’t spending is a big fat paycheck to yourself (hopefully one that pays dividends, and gives you the peace of mind to live without saying “what-if”). I initially automated my investments in order to achieve that peace of mind, now after a few years of growth and continued investments, I have bigger and better plans for that money including retirement, a jaunt through Europe, starting a family, an investment home. The possibilities are truly endless-and anyone can do it with a little discipline and the ability to determine wants vs. needs.

An easy way to start in this journey is to track your expenses. For each purchase, you should clearly mark whether it is a want vs. a need. As you learn to say no to certain purchases and your savings rate becomes larger, you can begin to hone in on your needs further and determine how you can save even more money. For example groceries would be considered a need, but are you shopping at Whole Foods or Aldi, could you clip coupons, is half of your grocery bill dedicated to beer, etc.

The second component to this is increasing your income. The idea of this is to do something on the side that you enjoy. As you learn and grow your side hustle, you just may find that you no longer need the nine to five.

The combination of cutting expenses and increasing your revenue is a constant battle but one that you should find enjoyment and instant gratification out of. Make it a goal to start today and you will quickly learn that it isn’t as difficult as it seems.

Gym-Pact App Review

Despite my frugal ways, there is one avenue that I have always splurged on. I consider it my hobby and one that keeps me young and in shape. I am pretty obsessed with outdoor athletics and therefore I am always finding myself shelling out cash to keep up the lifestyle. It is for this reason that I was pretty ecstatic when the app called Gym-Pact became available on Android devices.

It is simple to use and actually pays you to do what you hopefully already do, take care of your body! Once you’ve installed the app and registered for a free account, you commit to how many days you are going to work out (your “Pact”). All you have to do is “check-in” at your gym, or you can pair it with Runkeeper, and the app uses your GPS location to confirm that you are indeed working out.

The only catch is that you have to follow through on your pact. If you don’t, this can be an extremely expensive app. Your pact determines how much money you forfeit from your linked credit account if you don’t work out the number of days per week that you committed to. My current pact is to work out five days a weeks with a $5 a day penalty if I don’t meet my goal. If you meet your pact, you get a portion of the money that other Gym-Pact users lost for not meeting their pact. Going on vacation? No problem, you can easily set up a break. What’s better is that Gym-Pact is a great company and with a great support team to help you with any issues you may have.

Now I’m not so sure how this works as a motivational tool for someone who doesn’t work out, but for me, it is just a little icing on the cake for something that I already love doing. The weekly payouts are not significant, usually a couple of bucks, but as anyone reading a PF blog knows, every penny counts.

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March Round-Up, April Goals
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Hopefully everyone’s March was as good as mine! It’s time to review if we’ve met our goals and make new ones! If you don’t recall, below are my March goals both related to Finance and living more simply.

  • Purge 100 items- A –Like I imagined it would be, this one was pretty easy. I didn’t sell anything which was the original goal but I did declutter. Looking back two years ago on my college years where I owned a mattress and a laptop, it is truly incredible how much crap one can accumulate. I’m going to renew this goal for April but this time with the goal to sell some items. I think a reasonable goal is to make $100 from things laying around that I can sell.
  • No eating out during the week- A+ Another easily achieved goal and one that I plan to extend into April and probably beyond. If you missed my post on how I achieved this goal, it is worth checking out.
  • invest $2000 of income in taxable accounts- A+ Despite some car maintenance to the tune of $2000, I was able to make this goal by cutting out in other areas.

March side revenue: $640

April side Revenue goal: $1000

I already mentioned my plan to sell $100 worth of stuff lying around. My current rental income is $550. In order to close the gap and reach my April goal, I’m going to focus on my side hustle which I will go into more detail in a future post. I have laid the ground work in March to hopefully achieve this goal. I have a few consultations lined up with the potential to make the $300 in April. I am feeling really good about it so far since it is only 1-month old and already drawing interest. More to come!

Other goals:

  • Log 100 miles on the road bike. It is a busy month already but now that’s it warm I have no excuse. I have a triathlon in June to get ready for and I am always looking for an excuse not to get in my gas guzzling tank of a vehicle.
  • Log 20 miles on the pavement. This isn’t really a test of endurance so much as a test of making myself put on my tennis shoes and finding the time. I plan to run to the rock climbing gym that I go to weekly and knocking out this mileage.
  • Plant my summer garden. Now that I have goats and chickens in the backyard, which is where I formally had my garden, I need to move my beds to the front yard where they are not in danger of being eaten. I’ve always had a pretty hearty harvest but I have lofty goals of living off the land this year so I need to find the space in the front yard to accommodate everything that I want to plant.
  • Add $1000 to taxable accounts – This has decreased significantly from March but only because of some big bills that I have coming due in April (6-months of car insurance, taxes). Hopefully if I keep putting in the work with my side hustle I will compensate for those expenses and be able to exceed the contribution amount.
  • Start studying for GMAT (15 hours a week), apply to 3rd choice school (University of Georgia)

Good luck in April!

* three of our nine chickens. Even they produce income in this family!