Life-related objectives following a vacation

I just returned back from a family visit – it was great!

I found a chance to see my family and friends, and I have had a great time. Food, conversations, and visited places were all awesome. I am glad I have done this trip!

I also found a chance to stay away from work, especially in the last half of the vacation. I did not access and respond to emails, which was a blessing! I like this improvement in my approach to work.

My work-induced stress levels were down to zero as soon as I stepped on the plane. I still feel positive and relax. I hope to be able to respond to work related feelings and pressures better. I want to convince myself that I can do this.

One of the best things about having a break from the routine and engage in activities and thoughts that are different than what I usually have (mostly work related issues) is that it is a good opportunity to formulate new plans to remove the negativity of the past activities and have a chance to improve things that do not go so well. Today is a good day to do these:

Aims related to personal life:

1. Going back to frugal and abundant life-style.

I have been quite successful with this a couple of years back and then I broke it with junk food and can-fare expenses… I want to go back to that as of today.

My specific aims are:

  • to spend no more than 100 bucks a week on grocery and other needs (cleaning products, personal care products, etc.). This does not include medication and health-care related expenses (e.g. physiotherapy)
  • to utilize what I already have (dried food, frozen food, etc) to reduce my food cost, while not sacrificing from healthy and diverse food
  • to have another shopping freeze for flower pots, shoes/clothes, books (occasional ones are okay) and furniture
  • to keep all other frugal activities I already have (e.g. use of coupons/discounts, points, etc.) to maximize the value of my money
  • not to make any pre-payments unless an unexpected sum of money finds my way. This is to ensure that my chequing account will remain at a healthy level. I feel quite strongly about this because when it dips, first I pay extra money to the bank each month, and second, it makes me feel like I am in a financial crisis – not a great feeling
  • to eat the food that I have in the freezer and pantry (I have a lot of dried legumes/beans/rice that are waiting to be enjoyed)
  • to save around 7K bucks till December
  • to make a prepayment in December with the money I will save till then while also keeping around 5K in my chequeing account. This is an ambitious but doable aim. I feel like this will give me the best motivation to move forward and keep my frugal spending habits.

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2. Having a healthier body and weight

I have gained quite a bit of weight this year and its negative effects on my health were noticeable during my vacation: my feet ached a lot, my back gave me trouble (twice I have had my back pain/sciatica – they were minor compared to last year, but still I did not like having two episodes in a short time…).

I am aware of two reasons as to why I have gained weight this year: I did not walk as much as I did in the past years (I used to walk from office everyday – rain or shine) and I ate quite unhealthy food (pizzas and prepared food…). I still have two boxes of frozen pizza and some frozen, pre-made dinners in my freezer. I will consume them as well but with the understanding that my priority will be not to purchase them anymore so that I can eat better.

Thus, my specific aims are:

  • not to buy any pizzas or other prepared meals
  • to eat at least 6 different food (veggies, fruits, or dried food) every week
  • to cook meals at least 3 nights a week (I often consume them in two-three days)
  • to eat apples everyday at the office and to continue to eat carrots and radishes that I love so much (for some reason, these veggies made me feel much better and help me lose weight at the same time)
  • whenever feasible, to walk in the morning to office and in the afternoon from the office (this will help me feel great, lose weight, and also save from the transportation – win-win situation!)
  • to shop at the farmers’ market to have fresh local and affordable food
  • to keep take my calcium supplements and drink milk to keep my bones healthy
  • to re-start doing my back exercises to help strengthen my abs and my back muscles
  • to do light weight-lifting at home to keep my muscles and my bones healthy and strong

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3. Heaving a healthier mind and higher quality of life

I wish not to have stress and anxiety to my best anymore…. Work-related stress, sleep problems, and problems related to relations with the colleagues have hit the ceiling last couple of years… I am better at managing my anxiety by means of the worry journal exercise. But in terms of stress management I have not been much successful.

Hence, my specific aims are:

  • to walk everyday, to eat a healthier diet, and to exercise whenever I can find a chance to provide myself a healthier, nourishing way of life
  • to rest everyday. This I noticed is quite important for my stress levels. Whenever I am tired, I noticed I feel more pressurized and over-react as a result
  • to not access the emails in the evenings and the weekends, unless I have a good reason to do so
  • to take things a little bit lighter and not to react to problems when I am anxious or panicky
  • to trust the life and people around me a little bit more
  • to stop thinking that I am the only person who can do things well and on time. This is one of the main reasons that I feel resentment towards people I work with. Often times I have a good reason to think that the work is not done well and corrections/my involvement is needed. However, this also makes me over-work and over-stressed… Perhaps it is time to lower my standards without harming the quality of the work. I can also take it easy with relations. I can be more tolerant and less assuming… (wish me luck with this one. It is hard…. but I must do this)
  • to make it priority to feel calm at the office
  • to feel confident that I have solved many issues in the past and I can do so now and in the future as well. I must remind myself this everyday, especially when I face of an issue
  • to integrate a new walking route or an activity in my life over time – whether this would be going to theaters/shows, visiting a cafe on a Saturday morning, or reading about an entirely new topic does not matter. Something useful and enjoyable!
  • to continue to read my daily affirmations first thing in the morning to set my intentions for the day for the better

For example:

I am calm and can take care of any of the work-related issues easily

I am confident and successful

I have great work-relationships with everyone I see today

I am known by my high quality and meticulous work and I am respected for these

I am kind to everyone I meet today, especially, myself

I have time to do my work

Today has all the opportunities and beauties I may need

I welcome and appreciate the opportunities life can offer me

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Have a great Sunday everyone!

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weekly budget check

I have not done these checks for some time. It was because I mostly over-spent since July, but I am almost back to my regular, frugal budget.

This week I over-spent my weekly allowance by $19.5. I have made silly choices and spent unnecessarily but I would love to stop doing this. Let me see what this week will bring 🙂

I made a pre-payment to my mortgage in the amount of ~$1,600 today and I am feeling fantastic about this! I think it reduced the interest by round $50-60 – what better feeling than this right now 🙂

I still have some fun funds left (around $800), which I hope to bring to around $1,000 till the end of the year. These funds will be useful in making yet another mortgage pre-payment. I was planning to make an additional pre-payment in the amount of $5,000 by the end of December, but I am not so sure anymore… I found myself shopping (to take advantage of the sales), I need a new hair treatment coming, and there is at least one hefty social that I must shoulder next month….. I should not lose my hope and keep working towards this goal of making pre-payment. I know that even if I can make half of it, it will be fantastic.

This is the beginning of a new financial week for me (starting tomorrow) and I know that once I set the tone frugal it will likely go frugal. My plan for this week is to be mostly using the food in my freezer and pantry. I have so much food! It is time that they are consumed. I expect this to keep my grocery expenses low this week. This will further motivate me to keep frugal 🙂

Saturday morning musings

It is another quiet and peaceful Saturday morning filled with the great scent of freshly brewed coffee and the excitement of all the possibilities that the day may bring.

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It is rainy outside, which tells me that being outdoors today is not a practical option. It will be a day of home-entertainment I guess, including the dreaded house chores 🙂

I am doing something out of ordinary and have the TV on. It has been sometime that I watched TV. Once upon a time TV was very important for me. So was reading books. Things change I guess. In the last 1-2 years, I switched to writing and reading blogs than doing these activities.

The following certainly does not apply to me 🙂

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I think three things influenced this change:

1) My lower back problem that makes sitting in the couch uncomfortable, so I rather prefer to sit or lie down on bed in the evenings. This means I am away from the living room and hence the TV.

2) Shopping bans on books that started as a short term ban, which later is extended naturally. I used to buy 2-3 books every weekend, which was a great pleasure that I always looked forward to. Two years ago I started my budgeting and frugal life journey, which told me that what I was doing was not a great idea, also considering that I have had many books that I have not read yet. The massive decluttering followed the shopping ban showed me this very clearly.

3) The fact that I am resentful towards the cable provider. I have a package involving phone, internet and cable. While I was able to reduce my bill by negotiating with the company, I must say I am pissed that all of these services cost so much. In addition, I cannot cancel my cable because it is a package, and if I do remove it, phone and internet together would cost me more!! Which kind of a mentality is this? I feel like my cable service is a waste and I do not feel great about it.

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But I would like to encourage everyone to call and negotiate with their service providers; I was able to reduce my internet-phone-cable service and another important service in the last one year. For two years in a row I also get my credit card fee to be waived. I will change my credit card sometime to get rid of this fee altogether. Hoping to get a cash-back one because honestly cards with loyalty points are not great; it takes a long time to accumulate the points and when you collected sufficient points, then the service or item you look for may not be easy to get or available. I was lucky enough to get 3-4 plane tickets and a number of great items through the loyalty points so far, but I keep asking myself whether it is worth it. 

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Anyways, back to best of life – I hope everyone will have a great Saturday today! I wish we all can get the best of this beautiful day 🙂

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sewing may be my newest hobby :)

Since I used my little portable sewing machine to sew myself cloths to use during baking last weekend, I cannot keep thinking about how enjoyable that activity, the feeling of being capable of and self-sustaining were.

I want to buy a sewing machine!

I can sew table cloths, napkins, bread bags, curtains, pillow cases, and make quilts, embroidery and much more! I can repair my clothes. I can re-purpose whatever I have. I can make gifts for family and friends. After many trials and errors of course 🙂

I really am excited about this idea.

I want to be an informed consumer; one thing I would hate would be to buy a machine that would not be comfortable to use, or suitable for my projects. I was looking at the internet and there are so many different brands and models – which one is it that I would like to get? I know I am looking for a beginners/intermediate level model that allows me to sew, quilt, and make embroidery. I know I need a machine that have many stitch options and allows me to adjust the stitch length and width. I will need a machine that fits many different foots suitable for my needs, hopefully coming with the purchase as accessories but not needing extra purchases and thus inflating the cost. I know I can get a mechanical or electrical one, and hopefully with a lot of room on the right side of the needle to help comfortably handle the fabric. I also would love a light machine that does not produce a lot of noise while operating. Something that can handle thin and thick fabric would be nice, too. I will keep reading to find out what else I need to be aware of while selecting my sewing machine.

Information, however, is overwhelming and somehow putting me off; so if you, the dear reader, have any recommendations, please feel free to share in the comment area.

I am thinking I can catch up the holiday sales if I can make my mind till then. I really would love to spend as little as possible. I considered the second hand ones and actually found a nice Singer sewing machine at $60, but I decided it was not worth it. A new one is probably the best bet with all the accessories available with the purchase (if possible). Plus, I can trust that the machine is at good condition.

So, with this decision, my next hurdle is to identify how to save for money to purchase this lovely addition to my life. I am perfectly capable of buying it right now, but honestly there is something nice about saving for it first by cutting expenses in other areas.

I have 6 weeks till the holiday season to save around $200-300. Wish me luck my friends 🙂

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