Friday, September 27, 2013

Nine Month Check In!

A few new things to report.  September's been an interesting month, with the Wanna Cook? book project entering overdrive for the final push - by the next check-in, the entire book will have been drafted and the final bits will have been turned in for editing.  Breaking Bad wraps up its broadcast run this Sunday and next week, I have a paper to present on Saul Goodman and legal ethics at a conference (said paper is still - ahem - in a state that can most kindly be described as "rough draft" form.  Saturday's a busy, busy day!).  FryDaddy is also presenting and we both have school/work obligations.  As you can imagine, that's a lot of plates to spin.

This is the very reason why routines matter so much.  By now, housework has (mostly) gotten to a groove - laundry and dishes are caught up and the house is reasonably free of dirt (although pet fur is a constant accent to our decor) and that's a comfort in the busy, busy days that have been September and that will continue for another two weeks or so.  I scaled a few things back this month - I realized I was overdoing it and then beating myself up for not hitting every goal, every day.  A "star" day right now is exercise 30 minutes total (doesn't have to be in one fell swoop at 6:45 in the morning), drink 70 oz. of water, eat 5 servings of fruit/vegetables, limit the junk food (twice a week and only reasonable portions then), and do something positive for my overall mindset (I've discovered short guided meditations just before bed to help my crazywhirly brain settle and unwind from the day).  That's enough, I figure.  I'm a little less stressed, even though I'm in the midst of a very stressful period, so I'm marking this down as a win.

The big change this past month is that FryDaddy and I got serious about a very taboo area - finances.  Like many Americans, we have credit-card debt and were working from a budget that was more of a glorified checkbook balance than an actual plan.  We'd gotten tired of the stress associated with constantly being on a shoestring and we knew that we ought to be doing better - our income is decent and, while I still have a big chunk of debt from law school (and he'll soon have grad school loans to pay - but not undergrad, thankyouthankyouthankyou Mom Squared), we don't have car payments and our mortgage is quite reasonable - but it took us a while to commit to change.

Now we have.  We're just at the beginning, but already, I see a difference.  We've got a budget that tells our money where to go, instead of wondering helplessly where it went.  Any change in the budget (like when I forgot to include a couple of items and when we underestimated the amount we'd need for grocery money) requires us both to sign off on re-jiggering the columns, which still have to zero out so every dollar is accounted for.  We've committed to not using credit and throwing every extra dollar that comes into our paws at our debt.  It won't be short, and it won't be easy, but it's going to be SOOO worth it!  I hesitated to bring this up here (while nearly every American has debt, it's not something I find easy to talk about), but the point of these monthly check-ins is to be honest and accountable and, for me, debt is a dirty little secret.  It feels great to have a plan, instead of just drifting along, hoping that I get lucky with Powerball or some fairy dust hits my retirement account.  (For those interested, we're using the Dave Ramsey "Money Makeover" system.)  Again, it's not a quick fix, but we didn't get into this mess overnight, so it stands to reason that it'll take a while to sort out.  Journeys start with the first step, right?


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