I’m starting to think my blog title should be changed to “sporadic thoughts”. Because my former blog was basically daily posts, I unapologetically made it what I’d call ‘journal style’ writing which encompassed a range of this and that and definitely never stuck to just one subject. When I changed over to this new non-daily blog, I felt like my posts should therefore be more categorized and stick to one subject per post. Apparently I suck at this. I’m incapable of not going from one thing to the next, digressing, and lack the compartmentalized focus needed to wax poetically on just one subject at a time, so therefore I haven’t felt worthy enough to post with any sort of frequency.
Well screw that. I write in journal style ramblings and this isn’t going to change. The only time I can stick to one subject is when I’m on a rant and I certainly don’t want to be angry for the majority of my life, so sporadic thoughts it is.
As for my Person In Progress, I can claim truth in that title as I have been making strides for progress in my life on several fronts.
We’ll start with my go-to subject: health/weight loss. I already admitted a small weight gain over the holidays in a former post and one and a half months into the New Year, I’m down 6 lbs. This is so true to me… I almost pride myself on how I’m such a slow loser now. What used to be a source of frustration now makes me giggle at myself.
This year’s goal is to lose 1lb per week – a lovely 52 lbs of weight loss in a year. Pretty effing doable, right? Well I’m barely keeping up with it! Ah well, progress is progress and I have good days and bad, just like I knew I would and why I’m accepting of my slow progress.
There have been some other complicating circumstances that have aided in my slow progress and the main thing has been trying to get pregnant. After each time I get my disappointing period, I have just a couple of weeks of when I’m not either trying to get pregnant or acting like I might be.
When I wake up each day and have the majority of my thoughts wondering “am I this time?” those days and weeks after we’ve tried and before the time I expect my next period, it can take its toll emotionally. Mentally I know that it would technically be too early to feel tiredness or cravings, yet those have come and gone far too many days to be acceptable when it is just all in my head and I wasn’t ever actually pregnant.
I pride myself on not being one of those woman that the instant they find out they’re pregnant, they start eating like a horse and have the completely false “I’m eating for two” excuse, yet there I find myself, allowing long naps and completely lazy unproductive days and taking it easy with exercise “just in case”, etc… so unnecessary and uncalled for (like any exercise I was doing would be *that* strenuous anyway) and it ultimately just comes down to using the possibility as an excuse. So yeah, I’m pissing myself off with this pattern and tendency.
I have complete polarization between my mental side and emotional side when it comes to this issue. There has been a time in my life a few years ago that I psychosomatically made myself pregnant. I gained weight, I felt movement, had breast tenderness, I was nauseous… all because my periods had stopped. Sure, I took pregnancy tests and they were always negative, but without the presence of my period, I kept thinking maybe they were all false negatives. But when a year and a half goes by with no periods and no baby, it became clear that all of those symptoms I was feeling were completely produced by my head. I was really in a fucked up head space at the time and it turned out that it was actually a combo of stress and weight gain that caused my lack of periods.
So knowing my history, I am far too capable of ‘thinking myself pregnant’ even though I’m really trying not to. At least I’m getting my periods on a regular basis again so when it does come I can finally shake my head out of my psychosomatic tendencies and get real… at least for the next few weeks until we try again.
We just missed our chance for an October baby, so this month’s try would result in a November baby which we’d totally love, but I already decided I don’t really want a December or January baby (for weird personal reasons), so if this next attempt is not successful, I’m planning on taking a 2 month break from trying in March and April.
I need the mental/emotional break and I know it would make it that much easier to concentrate on my weight loss again.
On an completely different subject, my blog did say I was going to attempt progress on my finances and I’m proud to admit that I have made big changes and for the first time in my adult life, I’m actually living with a budget.
Sure, I’ve budgeted before, but I did what I’d now refer to as ‘after the fact’/dream budgeting. When I’d finally face my money issues (after avoidance and denial), I would see what we already spent and be like “whoa!” and then make up some dream/perfect scenario budget that was usually so far from the spending reality that I would just look at it and sigh and say “if we stick to it…” and then put the notepad back in the desk drawer and wait until the next month to do the final tally and say “whoa” again realizing how off we were and why it makes total sense we didn’t have enough money to pay all of our bills. It was certainly not what I’d call ‘active budgeting’… not by a long shot.
Part of my lack of budgeting skills comes from fear and the feeling of being completely and utterly overwhelmed. I think I’d see the variance between the actual numbers and how we’d need to spend instead and feel hopeless. It doesn’t help that we live paycheck to paycheck and always have.
What was the difference this time?
For one, after writing my blog about not understanding how certain families could put paying all their bills in full and keeping up appearances first over making sure their kids had enough food to eat, I thought about it from their perspective. I bet they’d look at my hubby and me and say “how can they order in food so often when they aren’t affording their bills? Why wouldn’t they pay their bills first instead of overspending on food?”. Touché. Why can’t we do that? Sure, we aren’t exactly rolling in money enough to actually put money aside for savings each month, but our paycheck to paycheck life could have us successfully affording to pay all of our bills every month, on time *if* we stuck to a food budget (and when we achieve that and make progress on our debt, we could eventually have less payments to make each month and maybe, just maybe finally have money to save one day).
The pattern goes: feel badly about our finances because we spent too much on food which triggers us to feed our feelings, spending more money on food that we don’t have which bums us out again the next time we look at our finances. Multiply that times 12+ years of marriage. Yup, that about sums it up.
For two, the task of sticking to a budget and attempting to lower our debts seemed less hopeless this time around because hubby has been working approved (and rare) overtime hours, so we actually have a bit more money to work with, so I felt inspired to use it for good causes (on debt, not food!)
Well it’s time to step out of denial, to not be afraid and face the music and for once in our lives, stick to an ACTIVE budget. At first this took me checking in on a daily basis – watching our account balances online, running the current numbers, planning for the upcoming bills, etc.
The next “active” step (and biggest) was to not only food shop by a list (already did this anyway) but also to write down the price of each item and use a calculator as I went to see what my total was and if I was staying within my set budget for the trip. Yes, this is far more time consuming, but a necessary change.
Being so aware of the numbers helped me decide on passing on certain unnecessary items as well as stopping my tendency to pick up 2, 4 or more of an item (especially when they aren’t on sale). I never realized before now that I had such a tendency to stock pile items that I really didn’t need to. And voila! I’ve been able to stick to our new budget for the last month (this is a FIRST people!)
I have even budgeted to include eating out/ordering in food for up to 4 times a month at a set amount each time (averaged from our past orders). I knew it would be completely unrealistic for us to stop ordering cold turkey, so I had to include this in my new budget. Even with those four times per month, our new budget has us spending an average of $300 less each month on food which will have us affording to pay all of our bills each month, every month.
At the beginning of each month, I now calculate how much debt we are in which includes the amount we are currently behind for a few bills: student loans & mortgages (how much we’re behind on monthly payments, not how much debt is left), medical bills (total owed) and credit card debts (total owed). I’m focusing on this debt first because it is my immediate goal to no longer be behind on any bills. And before you judge too harshly about how we’re behind on mortgages (the bill I agree everyone should make priority #1 normally), I will let you know that this debt was formerly discharged via a bankruptcy, but we are still making payments because the house is still in our name still and because of the discharge, any lateness on our account is no longer reported to our credit reports (neither is the fact that we’re still making payments), so therefore there is no downfall to skipping payments when we’re short on funds… just as long as we don’t go beyond 90 days, otherwise the foreclosure process would start (and though the debt was technically discharged, we’d still have to go through the whole court foreclosure process and rehire our attorney to prove it was discharged and it would actually not be as easy as “walking away” like our lawyer claimed it would be originally). We’d like to avoid that at all costs, so as long as we have a tenant paying rent which helps cover some of the mortgage payments, we’ll keep paying until the market (finally) improves to the point of selling the house and breaking even.
So anyway, based on these debt amounts I compared from January to February and although some of our credit card debts went up (from an item we bought months ago but we get charged each month for 6 months), we managed to make a $36 progress in lowering the debt amount. I know this is small potatoes, but let me tell you it made me feel so proud that we were heading in the right direction! It is my goal to increase this number every month until we 1) are no longer behind on any monthly payment and 2) have paid off all medical & credit card debt.
Once we get that done, I think we’ll split the money saved from making those payments to actual savings and to keeping our credit cards paid off each month.
It is such a new feeling to look forward to this time of the month to determine our new debt amount and see the progress we’ve made! For once in my life I finally feel control over my finances and it’s great not to hide from it all and instead be proactive to our success.
Why didn’t I do this years ago? I actually have a theory about that… that I needed to conquer one of my demons before moving onto the next. Since my health/weight was always the biggest demon, I needed to first work on controlling that aspect and yes, I still have ups and downs, but my perspective on my health and weight has advanced more than ever in the past year in and a half that I finally feel steady enough in that aspect to take on another one.
This is it people… I don’t have any other such major demons to conquer! All I need to do is stay on top of what I’ve already set in motion. This seems far less overwhelming than it used to and I feel such relief because of that. Each success propels me to another and another… for once, this could finally be a healthy cycle and snowball effect in my life.