Now that it is officially Fall, I figured I better jump my butt into gear and tie up all my Summer loose ends. First up, personal life, followed by $$$$$! Disclaimer, this post is a ‘hodge podge’ of sorts and much heavier on the personal stuff than money.
August was a high point of the summer. There was 2 weddings + Vacation!
The first August wedding took me near my hometown and alma mater up in the Boston area. I took off Thursday and Friday in order to have ample time to visit with family and childhood friends. On Friday, my mom threw a casual get together with our close family friends and their “kids”. “Kids” because they are definitely not children anymore. In fact, one of my friends is expecting her first baby this upcoming winter. I’m so excited for my friend and her husband <3!! The rest of the weekend was a whirlwind of fun. We saved some $$ by bunking with one of my college buddies in the hotel and off we went to seriously one of the most beautiful weddings. The weather was iffy with clouds and a few sprinkles, and I kid you not that after their first kiss… the sky opened! How romantic! We danced and drank the night way and less than 24 hours later we were back in Tampa.
About 2 weeks later, we were on the West coast for August wedding #2. My friend who got married lives in San Diego and to say that the whole weekend was perfect, almost doesn’t do it justice. We stayed in a VRBO with some college friends, which worked out seamlessly. Not only did we all have our own room and bathroom, but we also saved a lot of money! For a three night stay, each couple paid $476 each. That is cheaper than I have spent at wedding hotels for just two nights! The bride to be planned tons of optional (& fun!) activities for us to do pre-wedding…brewery, hiking, beach. When the wedding day finally rolled along it went by SO fast, as wedding days inevitably always do. There were lots of laughs, a few happy tears, one stunning bride, and similar to August wedding #1, TONS of dancing. One of the most memorable parts… the Pizza food truck! And can’t forget those incredible San Diego views!
Post-wedding, my boyfriend and I headed up to Los Angeles for a quick stopover. We saw Hollywood and Koreatown—Amazing food and drinks! We stayed in a hostel in West Hollywood to be frugal and eh…it was fine, nothing to call home about. The next day we headed north to Ventura County to visit with my brother, who I had not seen in about 6 years. We got to spend some priceless time together with him and my nephew. The timing incidentally coincided with one of my nephew’s last days of summer!
The final leg of the trip brought us to Santa Barbara to visit with two of my boyfriend’s best friends. We squeezed in Taco Tuesday, wine tastings, AND some local beer! Our friends moved to CA from Puerto Rico just about 1 year ago, so they were excited to have friends in town and we were thrilled to see them. The only slight snag in the trip was our Airbnb. We arrived at check-in to a dirty apartment…sigh. The property manager reported that the apartment had been forgotten on the day’s cleaning schedule. Ok, slight snag no big deal. We were in a rush to meet our friends, so we headed out. However, when we returned that evening, it was clear that the apartment was only cleaned superficially, as well as paper thin walls, and no working A/C, etc…. Long story short, we ended up leaving the Airbnb and checking into a Holiday Inn Express. They were great and waived our parking fee and gave us an enviable rate despite being peak season. I guess it was a lesson learned of sorts…I had tried so hard to get the best deal, that it ended up coming back to bite me in the a$$. In the end, we were refunded the Airbnb reservation and had a hotel in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara, so nothing really lost.
On the last morning in Santa Barbara, my boyfriend proposed! To say that I was surprised was an understatement. Nevertheless, one month later it still feels weird to call him my “fiancé”—not sure if I’ll ever get used to that. In the coming weeks and months, I will try, but can’t promise to detail more about our relationship and $$. His privacy and comfort with what I share (even on a blog that maybe no one will ever read) is paramount! I do however, think it would make for good reading…We are certainly opposites—saver (me), spender (him). But, we are in 1000% agreement about our first big money decision as a future married couple: NO Wedding! I have alluded to this before, but a small elopement/microwedding with immediate family is the BIGGEST I’ll go and that has not changed one bit since the engagement. Certainly lots more to come on that!! It’s very emotionally fueled, particularly for our loved ones (i.e. my mother).
My biggest money accomplishments are not surprisingly, student debt related. In August, I crushed my first milestone of putting $1500 towards my debt!! Next up, $1500 more due in October. Watching that balance dwindle month by month, baby!
Next, I finally tallied up my summer clothing budget spending. I had set a limit of myself of $1500 and whatever amount I spent on clothes I would have to match that in student loan payments. The grand total : $775. 12. I made that payment this evening right before starting this post. Woo hoo! This worked well and I think I’ll do this for the upcoming Fall/Winter season. I think a $1000 limit is realistic…let’s see!
In other news, I have unsuccessfully been searching on Upwork for an extra stream of freelance income to work on during the weekends. This is likely a combination of poor approach on my part + Impostor syndrome.
And last but not least, I have one week back under my belt of recording my spending (9/17-9/23). My oh my, is it enlightening! I have gone through waves of recording my spending, but in the past I always had trouble using it as a tool to change my behavior. So this time, I’m calculating my week expenditures and comparing it with my week ‘revenue’ (i.e. paycheck). What I unfortunately discovered, is that I already spent 37% of my paycheck 🙁 —I didn’t count my savings because I want to pretend that doesn’t exist! However, if my student loan wasn’t part of the equation I would have spent only 25%, giving me some hope for the future!! It’s a little scary because I still have 2 weeks and a rent payment before I get paid again. It’s definitely making me come to my senses a bit. It’s a journey , not a destination… right?
Summer 2017 Conclusions (in no particular order):
-My job rocks. For real! I took some paid vacation, have meaningful work & awesome co-workers, along with an extremely understanding and supportive boss during Hurricane Irma. Did I mention I work from home?
-Committing to pay off my debt is easier than budgeting/making more money. I’ve had no problem sticking to my debt pay off goal, but as I’ve said previously, my strategy could improve ten-fold. I certainly don’t want to end up dwindling my savings, or feel more ‘financial discomfort’ than necessary!
-Relationships are important. This includes family, friends, and romantic partners. Opportunities to spend time together at huge life milestones, like weddings, are precious and in most cases worth the financial sacrifice. Nevertheless, life has ebbs and flows and I’m realistic that there may be a time in the future that I’m not able to swing it. If that happens, there are other non-material ways to show I care—a phone call, a card, a dinner & drinks date when they visit town. Also, a gift doesn’t hurt either :).
-Now that the year is more than half over, I have to start being completely honest with the progress that I’ve made professionally and personally in 2017. New city, new job, new engagement, new goals (paying off debt), new blog. It’s been a lot of changes at once and behind the scenes it hasn’t always been smooth. I’m eyeing ‘transition’ as my word for 2017 and seeing ‘success’ in the distance for 2018.
Ok Fall, I’m comin’ at ya!