Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Happy Overwhelmed Birthday!!

My birthday isn't until tomorrow, and I am feeling extremely overwhelmed. I have been for quite some time. I feel like I'm in the deep end and I'm drowning. I need a life preserver. I can handle it all, I just wish the ride would slow down a little bit, you know? I really need to catch up. Or a 28-hour day.

Between the dieting, exercising and budgeting (or, as I like to call it, "Fiscal Responsibility Awareness") alone, I have plenty to do. It's a shame I'm not getting paid to be at the gym, because I friggin live there. (The cool thing is, I am starting to see some changes in my body and my physical stamina! YAY!!!)

Add to that a normal list of errands I have to run and bills I have to pay. To make it really interesting, I changed insurance companies this week, so I have to cancel the old one, send the check for the new one...and something else I'm forgetting. (The upside? I saved about $300 on my car insurance! WOOT!!!) Going to the gym all the times means I have to do twice the laundry, too. I need to go to the bank....crap. Who knows what else I'm not even remembering!

Oh yeah! I should mail my Valentine's Day cards out. (Yes, you read that correctly. They are 2 weeks late.) [Insert guilt here.]

I need to buy a birthday present for KT. Preferably before her birthday.

Thanks to all the exercise, I need about 9 hours of sleep to feel rested now. This only cramps my schedule even further.

Also, when the termite guy came the other day, he found some 2x4s under my front porch that were supposed to be removed when they built my house. Until my builder comes to remove them, not only am I vulnerable to termite infestation, my termite bond is invalid. Commence nagging of builder. (Argh.)

And the fact that my house is filthy and I haven't spent any time with my dog in 2 weeks. [Insert guilt here.]

And the fact that a big project at work is due this week, and I have hardly any time to finish it. (And yes, I will confess, there MAY have been some procrastinating going on, which MAY have something to do with it!) [Insert more guilt here.]

And the fact that I was just notified first thing this morning that I am in charge of coordinating one of the biggest projects of the decade (literally) here at work. I will oversee the work of about 20 people. And I have no earthly idea how this project works, let alone how to oversee everything. Did I mention this was a nice big surprise at a crowded 8am meeting this morning? Yeah. No heads up on my massive new responsibility. But it certainly woke me up!

And the fact that I charged $934.26 to my American Express yesterday, which is great for my rewards points, but terrifying to think about for too long. (The cruise is official -- CN and I booked it yesterday!!!)

And I just realized that fat free vanilla yogurt mixed with chocolate protein powder only sounds good in theory.

So is it any wonder that when my friends all ask me, "So what do you want to do for your birthday???? Aren't you excited??!! It's tomorrow!! Let's go out! What do you want to do? Where do you want to eat? When do you want me to pick you up? What do you want me to get you for your birthday??? Huh? Huh?"

...all I want to reply is, "I want to sit on my couch and watch all the stuff I've taped over the past 2 weeks. Can you bring me some food, and then leave? Because I want to be alone, in my jammies and go to bed at 8:30. Or better yet, can we celebrate my birthday next month? I think I can pencil you in around....oh, March 22nd....and how do you feel about planning the whole thing, to the point where all I have to do is show up?"

I feel like saying, "Hi, Mr. Carnie. Can you stop the ride? I'd like to get off before I barf. Thanks."

Oh well. At least I'm not bored, right?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Listed Updates

Greetings, dear readers. I have typed and re-written this post 3 times this week, trying to make it more coherent. But I give up, partially because I think I'm getting sick. I do not feel well at all -- headache, queasy tummy, feeling out of it-- I think I'm going to go home and go to bed. Keep your fingers crossed that I don't have the flu, because it's going around hard-core in SC right now. But I really want to post before I leave, so I will just list everything here and now, despite its disorganization and randomness.

1. I paid my taxes yesterday morning. One less thing to worry about. Unfortunately, I didn't read your comments until yesterday afternoon, so I was not able to take everyone's advice and avoid H&R Block. But at least they are done now, and I know they are done correctly. Yes, it cost me an arm and a leg, and apparently I was doing everything correctly on TurboTax, because I'm getting exactly what TurboTax said I was going to get. But oh well. Now I know -- next year, use TurboTax. It turns out that my taxes aren't that complicated, and even I, Doofus Extraordinaire when it comes to financial matters, can figure it out. Chalk it up to a learning experience.

2. The good news? Now I have plenty of money for the cruise. The bad news? I probably won't be putting much any towards my credit card debt. $800 doesn't go too far. But it's ok. Now I will at least have a little cushion in my checking account. In theory. Looks like I just need to really stick to my budget. Eventually, it WILL pay off.

3. Speaking of budget stuff, I am under budget this month for gas, clothing ($0!!!), dining out AND groceries. Also, I spent $300 less overall this month than last month. So although I did spend money on my tax preparation, the personal trainer and my termite inspection, at least it won't hurt as much. I think budgeting money is like losing weight -- you have to be patient, because the hard work pays off down the road.

4. I bought some protein powder. My trainer told me I'm supposed to be eating more protein so that I can build more lean muscle. After looking at what I'm eating, I have come to realize I eat a TON of carbs. Granted, they are almost always whole grain and low fat, but I really am lacking in the protein department. I just don't really crave meat very often. Usually, my protein comes from dairy and beans, which don't have a whole lot of protein. I'm almost eating like a vegetarian on some days! So I bought some chocolate soy protein powder. I thought it would be gross, but it's actually really good! So that made me happy.

5. Well, it looks like Kelvin Sampson might be getting the boot. Nothing's finalized yet, but it doesn't look good for the basketball coach at my alma mater. Which really stinks, because it's the middle of a GREAT season for us!!! I'm hoping it will all work out. I'll probably post more about this as it develops, because I have more to say. I just don't feel well enough to ramble on and on about it right now.

6. CN told me my butt looks smaller. I decided to override the Automatic Female Response (AFR) of, "So, you're telling me that my ass used to be fat??!!" and decided to just take the compliment with some gratitude. He's so supportive. He knows I hate my butt. I don't know if he was just saying it to make me feel better or what, but I sure am glad to have someone cheering me on.

7. Although I didn't want to go, I dragged my (smaller?) butt to the gym Wednesday night. As long as I go on Saturday, too, that will make 3 weeks in a row that I've been to the gym at least 4 times. Go me!

8. My birthday is next week!!!! Yay!!! Although I will be 29 (EEEK!!), I can say that this is probably one of the happiest times of my life so far, even with all the money/weight loss stress. I have a lot to celebrate.

9. Oh! I almost forgot. Valentine's Day went really well. The meal I made for CN last Thursday was super yummy (the recipes are posted over on my cooking blog -- see sidebar.) and he really really liked it. Friday, he took me to a very expensive Italian place here in town (Ristorante Divino). Neither one of us had been before, and we really enjoyed it. The ambiance was great -- very romantic and intimate. The service was perfect -- our waiter never interrupted our conversation and never let our drinks get empty. The food was good, too. Their menu is pretty heavy on seafood, which is great for us, because we are both seafood lovers. Their dessert menu is one of the best I've ever seen -- chocolate bread pudding, walnut pie, chocolate cakes filled with molten peanut butter, creme brulee and something called an "almond crust", which was the owner's great-grandmother's recipe. It was topped with vanilla custard -- Mmmm!!!

I was a good girl and didn't order dessert, which I have to admit was very difficult.

CN gave me a bottle of perfume I'd been wanting. I brought home a sample a few weeks ago, and we both really liked it. It's called "The One" and it's made by Dolce & Gabbana -- ooh la la! So he did a really good job with Valentine's Day this year.

I got him a new travel case for his toiletries, because I'm broke. So my present kind of sucked in comparison. But, it turns out that he needed a new one pretty badly -- his old one was "covered in white mold or something", according to him. All together now: EWWWWWWW!!!!

A funny thing did happen on Valentine's Day. We gave each other cards, and we wrote pretty much the SAME super-sweet message to each other. How disgusting is that?? Cute, but gross.

10. Thank you, everyone for your awesome comments in the last post. You guys rock my socks. I really needed some cheering and encouragement, and y'all really helped me out. You might think it was no big deal, but it really did help me feel better! Thank you so much. Extremely motivating and helpful and supportive comments and advice!!! YAY readers!!! I feel a lot better, and I really appreciate the advice about taxes and money and stuff. :)

Ok, I'm going home so I can lie down. I feel like crap.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Conflict of Interest

These past few weeks have been a blur. I feel like all I have done is worked out and stressed out. The other day, CN said that maybe we should not go on the cruise at all, because it is stressing me out so much.

Maybe he's right. I have been so frustrated lately, and it's causing me a ton of stress. Maybe it wasn't a good idea to get all gung-ho about my New Year's Resolutions at the same time. Perhaps I should have tried to work on my budget OR my waistline -- not both. I am still interested in meeting my goals, but I find myself in constant conflict with reaching them.

You'd think these two goals would go hand-in-hand: eating at home usually means fewer calories and more money in the bank. Going for a run on a Saturday afternoon burns calories AND keeps you away from the mall. So yeah, in some situations, these two goals can play off of one another.

At other times, they are in direct conflict. Some examples...

What do you do when someone's parents (CN's, in particular) take you out to eat........and the menu consists of scarcely anything besides fried items? You can't say, "No thanks" or "Can we go somewhere else?" -- you HAVE to eat, because they invited you and they are paying. So I tried to order something that sounded healthy-- grilled shrimp with steamed veggies. When my food arrived, I found that "grilled" meant "drenched in oily sauce" and "steamed veggies" meant "butter-drenched veggies".

So I had a choice to make: eat on someone else's tab, which is good for my budget........or totally blow all my hard work at the gym that morning by eating this pool of oily shrimp and limp veggies.

I almost cried, you guys. It totally ruined my whole meal -- I picked at it, hardly eating anything. And I felt guilty, since they had invited me to eat with them and they were paying. I hate to waste food. Then I got home, and I was still hungry! Aaaarrrgh.

Budget: 1
Waistline: 0

Then, last night, I went to the gym to meet up with my new trainer. I had originally had a guy I will call "Biff". I don't like Biff. He doesn't listen, he won't give me straight answers to my questions, he flirts with the front desk girls when he's supposed to be working with me, he won't give me clear directions, and he contradicts himself. In short, he leaves me confused and frustrated, not to mention ticked off. So, when he told me last week that he was not my official trainer, and only my introductory trainer, I was relieved.

"Good," I thought. "Maybe now I can have a trainer who is actually worth the $40 an hour I'm shelling out, because you are pretty much worthless!"

Last night, I met my "official" trainer. I will call him Tee. I liked him immediately. He listened, gave clear instructions and one of the front desk girls told me he's a really good trainer. He told me that Biff put me with him because he gets results and I am a "highly motivated" client. This was all music to my ears.

Until he told me that he'd have me out of there in a half an hour.

Um....exsqueeze me?

Thanks to Biff's smooth talking, I didn't realize that I was signing up for two $40 half hour sessions per month, not two hourly sessions, as I had previously thought. Crap. I envisioned my bank account dwindling rapidly, like sand in an hourglass. I could feel my stomach cramping up, and not because of Tee's crunches.

So now, it seems that I have chosen my waistline over my budget, in this situation. Arggggh. Score tally:

Budget: 1
Waistline: 1

Then, I decided to play around with Turbo Tax, just to see what kind of a tax refund I could expect. Turbo Tax said "$987". Hmmmm. I was kind of hoping for at least $1,100. So instead of paying about $40 for Turbo Tax, I am going to go ahead and spring for H&R Block, which will charge me about $130. Am I possibly shooting myself in the foot? Yes. But do I trust myself to maximize my own deductions, even if it is with Turbo Tax's assistance? Um, no. Not with my abysmal understanding of money. I may not get more money back at the hands of H&R Block, but at least I know I'm preparing my taxes properly.

In order to have time to make the trip to H&R Block, I will more than likely have to skip a gym trip. Arrgh.

Tomorrow, the termite guy is coming to my house to do the annual termite bond. That will cost $150. And a trip to the gym -- he's like the cable guy, I have to be there all morning, hoping he will show up between 8-11am. So much for my 10am weight lifting class.

And Friday after work, I am getting the dead rat on top of my head tended to by my hairdresser. That will be an additional $150, and the gym will be closed by the time I'm done. (In my defense, I haven't had my hair done since before Thanksgiving, and if I don't do something quickly, I will soon look like one of those trailer-trash girls on COPS).

I got on the scale again yesterday. I have lost........maybe 2 pounds. I swear to all things holy, I am going to chuck that thing through my window before this is all over. I did get my body fat percentage re-calculated last night, and it showed that I have lost 0.2% body fat. Not awesome, but a small step in the right direction. My pants seem to be fitting a teeny tiny bit better, but it might just be my imagination.

My birthday is in one week (mark your calendars now -- ha!), and I can't think of anything fun to do that doesn't involve spending money or eating yummy fattening food. What I really want to do is shop all day in the outlet mall near Charlotte, and then hit The Cheesecake Factory for dinner on the way home. But that can't happen, because it will totally mess up everything I've been working for these past few weeks. Does anyone have a good idea for something that is fun and cheap and doesn't involve cake???

I'm starting to feel like I will never lose weight or get a grip on my spending. I know I'm an impatient person, but someone's gotta throw me a bone! I'm getting very discouraged. All this frustration and pressure I've put on myself is really causing me to stress out. I have the cruise looming over my head, and all I think about all day long is, "How will I pay for the cruise? I'm going to need at least $700. Where will I find the money for that when I was going to use my tax refund towards my credit card debt??? How will I look on the boat, standing next to the skinny girl going with us? I am going to eat too much food and I will be the fat girl in all the photos. How can I lose 10 pounds by then when I haven't even started losing yet???" -- It is looped in my brain, all day long. This is in addition to all the regular money stress and weight issues I was already having before this whole cruise idea came about. I can feel the anxiety building up inside me. I have had 2 emotional meltdowns in as many weeks, and I'm wondering if any of this is even worth it. Maybe CN is right. Maybe I should not go on the cruise because it is just too much right now.

Then again, maybe I should just shut up, get a Rx for Xanax, put my nose to the grindstone and quit whining. And cut myself some slack.

I know that's what I need to do. I just had to get all of this off my chest. I just needed to vent. Thanks for reading this and allowing me to do so. :)

Ugh. I have a headache now.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Yay! Valentine's Day!

Boy, is this year's Valentine's Day better than last year's! (If you don't remember, I'll let you go re-cap that for yourself. I'll skip linking to last February's archive...) It's nice to be happy instead of bitter and angry. It's refreshing. Ok, now I'm rambling.

At first, CN wanted today to be all about me. To quote him: "No! Valentine's Day is supposed to be all about the girl!" -- Reason #271 why I am dating him. And although I like this concept a LOT, and had very little argument against this idea, I told him that I wanted to do something for him, too.

So tonight, I am going to make him dinner. Here is the menu:

*Spring mix salad with cherry tomatoes, bacon bits, mushrooms and Esperanza dressing
*Filet mignon, marinated in mustard, balsamic vinegar, pepper, rosemary and some other stuff, then topped with carmelized onions and bleu cheese crumbles
*Garlic mashed potatoes
*Steamed broccoli
*Low-fat chocolate cheesecake with whipped topping

MMMMMMM!!!! I will put the recipes on my cooking blog tomorrow. I don't have time to do it today.

After dinner, I have a couple of little surprises for him. Although, maybe I will save them for tomorrow night.....I dunno. I will play it by ear. We might eat too much and just lay around and watch tv. Yeah, we are exciting like that.

Tomorrow night, CN is taking me out for V-Day. I have no idea where or when or what to wear. Hmm. I'd better ask him for a few details...he won't tell me anything. "It's a surprise." is all he will say. Eeek! I am excited.

CN's parents sent me a super-sweet V-Day card today. Aw. They are so nice. It's good to know I make the cut, so to speak.

How is your Valentine's Day going? I hope it's as good as mine. Ack! I gotta go. I have a lot of cooking to do!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Goal #2

If you didn't read about Goal #1, look at my last post.

Here is Goal #2: Lose weight and get in shape. I want to lose 40 pounds. I want to get back to a healthy BMI (I'm currently at 28.7 and anything over a 25 is considered "overweight"). And a healthy body fat percentage (I'm currently at 37.8% and I need to be no higher than 25%). I'd like to maybe enter a 5k. I want to be able to fit into everything in my closet, even the fantastic and expensive black cocktail dress I have, which I believe is a size 8. I want to look good in photos again. I am hoping to reach this one by the end of the year, too. Like the other goal, it is a lifestyle change. I need to stop looking at food and exercise the way I have been all my life.

Unlike Goal #1, which is a new concept to me, I already know how to reach Goal #2. I am really good at losing weight and getting in shape--I have already lost and re-gained this SAME 40 pounds twice already. :P

My problem isn't the knowledge, it's the motivation. That means I have to stop making excuses and stop the negative thoughts. I have to change the way I view food and exercise and their roles in my life. Instead of thinking, "I really want to eat chocolate cake! This sucks!" I have to think, "Chocolate cake tastes good, but it is empty calories and basically counter-acts all the hard work I did at the gym this week."

Like Goal #1, a lot of the same lessons apply here:
* Know your weakness and avoid it. Mine are brownies, Oreos, Doritos, candy, Cheez-its and fried chicken.
* Plan ahead and prioritize. This means not waiting too long in-between meals and building time into my schedule for exercise.
* Little things can add up. So every calorie, every trip to the gym counts. The good AND the bad.
*Knowledge is power. I recently had my body fat, BMI, BMR, blood pressure and weight calculated. Now I know where I stand, at least. And talk about a wake-up call!!!
* Don't be stupid. The gym charges me $44.50 per month, whether I go twice or 200 times. It is stupid not to make the best use of my membership.
* If you act like a child, you have to treat yourself like one. I am not good at putting the bag of food DOWN. So I just try to make sure the bag-o-goodies doesn't even get past my front door in the first place. And since I am not very good at behaving responsibly in all of this, I have hired a baby-sitter. (More on that later.)
* Try new ways to hold yourself accountable. I just signed up for a "Biggest Loser"-type contest here at work. I don't know if it will help motivate me, but I can try at least.
* Make time to learn how to better achieve your goal. I made an appointment with a personal trainer last Friday. Luckily, it was a FREE (my new favorite word!) service from my gym. I figured, it can't hurt. This guy knows a helluva lot more than I do when it comes to being in shape. And CN was right: Watching "The Biggest Loser" really does motivate and educate you!
* Find what works for you. I love this one weight-lifting class at my gym. And I love going for a run. Sometimes, getting excited about these activities is the only motivation I can muster. So I cling to them desperately as staples in my workout regimen.

So how is it going so far? Well, to be honest, I'm pretty discouraged at this point. I feel like I have been better about what I eat and how often I exercise, ever since January 1. But I have yet to lose a single pound.

Yeah. You read that correctly. I did have one day where it looked like I had lost 3, but that must have been water weight. I weighed myself yesterday -- no dice. I'm back to my original weight. Although, my pants are fitting a tiny bit better. And my stomach feels flatter. And I'm starting to get some muscle definition in my arms and legs. But these are all small differences, visible only to me. I haven't made any real progress yet. So I've been kind of bummed about it. I have moments where I honestly don't know if I can do this or not. Like, maybe I should just try to not gain any more weight, and leave it at that. My goals seem totally overwhelming most of the time. (Yes, I know I should not look at it like that, and that I should take it one day at a time, break my goals down into smaller ones and blah blah blah. But try telling me that when I'm on the scale and it reads the same weight AGAIN.)

What's really frustrating is that my body is adapting to the increase in exercise really well -- in just a month, I am back to being able to run 2 miles straight. I am lifting the same amount of weight (sometimes more) I was back when I was more in-shape. But that number on the scale just won't budge!! I'm having a pudge budge problem! LOL

CN has noticed that my motivation and excitement has waned lately. So we talked about it, because he is being super-supportive. He's like my conscience. Or my own personal trainer-coach.

CN pointed out that we do not eat healthily when we go to restaurants. Oops. He's right. I hadn't really thought about how one bad meal a week could derail all my hard work. And I admit, there are weeks when I only hit the gym twice. That doesn't do much good. So there is lots of room for improvement here. CN has been trying to encourage me and support me, and he's doing great. He's not making me feel fat or unattractive. He's not making me feel like my weight is important to him at all-- just my happiness and my health. He's just being super-supportive and reminds me of my long-term goals. He gives me tips and ideas all the time, without nagging me. He's also being a really good role model -- he's really good about what he eats. I could not ask for a better support system.

So this past week, I have been more motivated than usual. How am I doing?

Since February 3rd, I have worked out 6 times, including a rocked-out cardio workout on Tuesday (I ran 2 miles and walked 4!). I had that appointment with a personal trainer at my gym. And I joined the "Biggest Loser" contest here at work. I have 6 weeks to lose the most body fat percentage.

I even ate a *gasp* SALAD for lunch the other day! (Context: In the rankings of Unpleasant Things that VB Dreads, "salad" falls somewhere between "being mugged" and "pap smear".)

When I met up with the personal trainer (I will call him "Biff", because he is quite the stereotypical meathead!) last Friday, it felt really good to sort of take control of the situation. I was honest with him, I learned a lot, and Biff told me where I could be and how I can get there. Although it sounds like a TON of hard work and dedication, both in and out of the gym, I think I am up for it. I am obviously not good at doing this on my own. I need a baby-sitter. Someone who expects a lot of work from me. Someone who will hold me accountable. I'm tired of yo-yo-ing and I need to start thinking about my health. I need to make this a permanent lifestyle change. So when he offered to sign me up for a year's worth of personal training, I said without thinking, "Ok. Sign me up."

Me and my big fat mouth. Biff charges $40 an hour. And I signed up for twice-monthly sessions.


I'm trying not to think about it. I am having a very hard time justifying this to the Budget-Conscious VB. She is pretty upset with me for not taking some time to think about this before signing on the dotted line. Especially since Biff needed first and last month's fees up front.

Double ouch.

Readers, please tell me this is worth it. Because all I am thinking about is how this has totally effed up this month's budget. Argh.

But there is a silver lining: the cruise we are taking in April motivates me to work on BOTH goals. I want to have plenty of spending money in the Bahamas. I also want to look good in my bikini on the cruise ship. So I have been having thoughts like this:

"Do I want to buy these shoes, or do I want to go snorkeling in The Bahamas?"
"Yes, this push-up sucks, but it will all be worth it when that Caribbean breeze is blowing through your hair!"

I heard a mantra the other day: Progress, not perfection. I really like it, because it takes into account that we are not perfect. We are human. We aren't robots or machines. But that doesn't give us permission to screw around, either. So I think I can work with this.

Wish me luck.

Goal #1

I know I haven't been blogging a lot, guys. But things are pretty calm around here, lately. CN is great. My friends are great (except that I miss KT). My job is busier than usual (which is actually a good thing, trust me!). Even Sammy is great.

So what have I been doing with my free time? Where have I been? Working towards my goals. I have come to the realization that unless you put a date and a number on a goal, there's hardly any point in starting it in the first place. Otherwise, how do you know when you've reached it? So here is my first goal:

GOAL #1:I want to work out a monthly budget I can live with and stick to. I want to learn how to make my money work for me instead of against me. By the end of the year, I want to pay off at least $1,000 in credit card debt AND save at least $1,000 in my savings account. As a short-term goal, I do not want to use my credit card to pay for my cruise (which will be a minimum of $500). I am tired of being stressed out about money. I am tired of saying that I am not good with money. I am tired of panicking about money. It's time for an overhaul in the way I think about money and spending.

And now that I have just spilled all of this on my blog, I am hoping that it will make me more accountable and the potential humiliation of not reaching my goals will motivate me further!

So what am I doing to reach Goal #1? What have I learned so far?

*I have Microsoft Money on my computer, and I'm learning how to use it. It is making me really think about all the different ways I spend money. It's more than just thinking about your last spree at the mall. (Yes, I am that dumb with money! I just assume my financial woes are a result of the mall!) I have kept every single receipt since January 17th, and I've been calculating where my money goes. To the penny. Complete with pie charts. It has been very enlightening!

Lesson: Ignorance is not bliss. Knowledge is power.

*It turns out, most of it is going in my mouth. Yeah. My grocery bills? Totally out of control! I think that since you HAVE to eat, I have been letting myself go crazy at Wal-Mart. That was how I would justify it. I was basically letting myself get whatever I wanted. So now, I am limited to ONE trip a week, and I cannot spend more than $50. This includes things like shampoo, toothpaste, Windex, etc. So I am forcing myself to prioritize and plan ahead. Like a real grown-up! So far, so good -- I came in $2.33 under budget for groceries this week! Not great, but it's a start.

Lesson: Planning ahead and prioritizing can help you save money. Also, give yourself credit, even for reaching small goals.

*I also realized that Target, as much as I love it, is budget suicide for me. Target is to my budget as brownies are to my diet. It is physically impossible for me to spend less than $35 whenever I walk through the door, just like it is impossible for me to say "no" to a brownie. So you know what? I haven't been to Target. In a MONTH. Yeah. I think that is a record. The longer I'm away from Target, the fewer reasons I can find to go back. And since I hate making a special trip to any store just to get one item, I don't know when I'll go to Target again!

Lesson: Know your weakness and avoid it.

*I canceled my garbage service. I live close enough to the public dump that I can take my garbage there myself. (Reality: CN will probably end up taking it to the dump for me, because he rocks like that.) This will save me about $13 a month.

Lesson: Unnecessary expenses can be more than just dining out and shopping. Look for less-obvious ways to cut your budget. Also, every penny counts.

*Thanks to my newer, more fuel-efficient car, I am already saving money on gas. I have gone from spending about $40 a week to about $28 every ten days. Woo hoo!!

Lesson: Um....buy a more fuel-efficient car, I guess.

*Since my 0% interest rate on my Visa just ended, I am going to transfer the balance (along with the balance on my American Express) to a new one. It has 0% interest until March 2009. Then, I can watch that balance drop!!!

Lesson: Don't be stupid. Interest rates do not benefit you in any way whatsoever. Stop pretending they don't exist, and do something about it.

*I'm going to my bank to tell them to start taking $50 out of my paycheck every month and putting it into savings for me.

Lesson: If you are dumb with money, find people who can save it for you. If you behave like a child, you have to treat yourself like one.

*I am thinking about putting all my spending money into cash every month. That way, it will feel more "real" than just swiping a piece of plastic. Any leftover will go into savings. In theory. But first, I have to figure out exactly how much spending money I have to start with. That's where the Money program comes in.

Lesson: Always try for new, responsible ways to hold yourself accountable. Keep trying new things until you find something that works for you.

* Now, if only I could find the time to really sit down and get the stupid Microsoft Money software to work. I am having trouble with some of the features. I got a how-to book. It's just a matter of finding the time to sit down and learn the software better.

Lesson: Make time to learn how to reach your goals. You have to prioritize them or else you will never meet them.

*Before anyone jumps in with recommendations for Quicken and how awesome it is, let me just state this: Money was already installed on my computer, so it was free. And since "free" is my new favorite word, I am not going to worry about Quicken right now.

Lesson: "Free" is usually better when it comes to financial matters.

Instead, I will look forward to paying my taxes and getting my big phatty refund!!! Word on the streets is that we are getting property tax refunds, too, so I might get more money on top of my tax refund. WOOT!!! I will put the tax refund towards my credit card debt and the property tax refund towards my cruise.

Lesson: Buying a house will actually MAKE you money in the long run. Also, do not blow your tax refunds on crap. Utilize the windfall in a way that will benefit your overall financial situation.

Alright. So that is my progress on the Money Goal. I still have a looooong way to go, but so far, so good. I'm kind of proud of myself already. It feels good just to grab the reins and take control, you know?

Do you have any budget/money advice for me? Do you have any ideas? Opinions? Tales of Warning? Please share! I need help, obviously...

Stay tuned for Goal #2....

Friday, February 01, 2008

It's Friday!!!

Time for something fun!!!! YAY!! Weekend!!!

CN and I love this commercial, and we have started to say, "What the French, Toast?" to each other. *snicker* Hope you think it's as funny as we do.

CN told me about these next two videos. He said that I'm lucky Kelly doesn't live near here, or else I would have serious competition. *rolls eyes* My coworkers think they are a riot, but MJ doesn't think they are funny. All I know is, I can't stop saying, "Lemme borrow that top!"

*WARNING: These are NOT suitable for work or children! So turn your speakers down!*

Ok, I am STILL laughing about these Kelly videos, and I've watched them at least 5 times. This guy (whoever he is) needs to make more Kelly videos. Or else I will "betchslap" the stupid outta him!

Well, we all know this weekend is The Superbowl! This year I am hoping the Giants will win. My fam is full of Colts fans, so rooting for the Giants is as close as we can get. Besides, I like to root for underdogs. Although, Tom Brady is pretty hot.......OMG, girls, have you checked out the new Stetson ads? Yee-Ha, Cowboy! *faints into puddle on floor*

Where was I? Oh yeah. If you want to see some of the commercials that will air, check out this site.

Who are you cheering on in The Big Game? Do you have any fun plans?