Maybe more isn't the answer

Some of you (maybe even most of you), know what it is like to start getting older. 

I've noticed in the last few months. Especially in my face. I can deal with my skin seeming a little looser. I'm even okay with my constant need for lip moisturizer. But I felt like just as I was truly getting comfortable with wearing absolute minimal makeup (a smidge of bronzer on my cheeks and mascara), my skin started to rebel.

My cheeks were so red. I looked flushed all the time. After about a year of not wearing makeup and getting comfortable with it, I was suddenly uncomfortable again. Not because there was anything wrong with the redness, but because the face looking back at me wasn't the one I had adjusted too. It was just different - different enough to make me aware.

I spent my holiday bonus from work (a $50 Amazon gift card!) trying to find the answer. I bought masks and peels and washes. I read reviews and looked at all the screenshots I've taken of things Jessamyn and Dana have talked about. I went back through my text chain with the FatCamp Braintrust. And, just a few days ago, a box of face products (and two books) arrived at my door. 

I got busy. I haven't used any of them. But I did have a few dollars left at Lush after buying my necessity. So I bought a $10 bar of my old face soap. You know, that soap I used for years until about 6 months ago when I couldn't justify the expense and I didn't trust myself to go to the mall.

I used the soap this morning. One day. And I can tell a difference. My face didn't like the face soap from Trader Joe's. But it likes Lush.


I'm sure I'll use all of the masks I bought. But I'll use them as a treat instead of looking for a solution to a problem.

This got me thinking about the New Year. About how maybe new/more/different isn't the answer. Maybe the simple solutions are right in front of me. Maybe I can just worry less and just be kind to myself. Maybe it isn't about clay masks or peels in an egg. Maybe it is just about a bar of gentle pink soap. 

I have two actual resolutions this year. 

1. I will do less anxiety math. This is a very simple solution for me. When I get anxious? I open up the calculator on my desktop computer. Let's see exactly how much money we'll have left over after we pay the bills, spend our average on groceries and gas. Then let's go 2 weeks out. And then 4! Let's do the math and see how it will shake out if I lose a client (or two). Okay. Then I start to panic. Okay, now what if I do that yoga series I'm thinking about. How much would I need to charge and how many people if I needed to make up for losing 2 clients? (WHICH I HAVEN'T LOST!) See? This spiral is insane. And it can go on for hours. And it is incredibly counterproductive. So in 2017? Less anxiety math. I am committing to not worrying about finances more than a month out (I didn't say not planning or being responsible, I said not worrying). I'm not going to obsess over PTO time or hours I spend doing offerings or all of those things that I project and never turn out exactly as I figured or don't really matter because I can figure out how to juggle it anyway. Less anxiety math.

2. I will finally get a tattoo. I think I have picked out my first one. Simple. Clean, thin lines. Super representative of my last few years. I want a super detailed hamsa one day, but I don't think that's where I should probably start. 

Kindness. Not looking to fill with more. A bar of pink soap. Less math. And a flower on my foot. 

Let's do this, 2017.

commitment - money

Hmph. I need to get honest. So a few weeks ago, I told you that in February, I was going to do research to focus on money in March. Well, I haven't gotten very far.

I ordered and received my Erin Condren notebook specifically for money knowledge and tracking. I really dig it. She is really, really pretty. (It is the paisley pattern with a pool background and a chocolate pattern, for those EC nerds like me that want to know all the details.)

Screen shot 2014-02-15 at 5.02.38 PM

I also ordered stickers for each bill. (We named our car Buddy. So that's what the grey sticker is for.)

Screen shot 2014-02-15 at 5.02.50 PM

I am making significant process on Money: A Love Story. This was my progress as of Sunday, but I will finish it by Friday. I have a 'book report' started that may very well end up being a series because, friends, do I have lots of stuff to say.

Screen shot 2014-02-15 at 5.03.00 PM

Here's my issue at this point, though. I keep finding things that I want to do. *cough* YOGA CAMP *cough* *cough* NICKEL CREEK TICKETS *cough* So I'm spending more energy on BUILDING income rather than DECREASING spending. And that isn't what my initial plan was at all. I wanted to do both, not one or the other.

So here are my action steps before I update you next week:

  • finish Money: A Love Story.
  • get March bills actually on the March calendar. (February sticker done and they really helped with paying bills differently based on pay dates.)
  • follow-up on balance transfer with bank-based credit card.
  • follow-up with possible house refinancing.
  • open second bank account.

Stay on me, friends.

(And if you like Erin Condren and think about ordering? Sign up with my link and you get $10! And then, when you order, I get $10. It is like the gift that we both get! And those referral bonuses are how I got this notebook, by the way. I'm not being totally willy-nilly with the money I say I'm trying to focus on!)


As you see my progress on being more money-aware, does it trigger a goal you want to work on? An end-point that you think you could reach if you just had someone to remind you to focus and hold you accountable? That's what forty steps closer is all about. No matter your goal or dream - save money, get healthy, write a book, get organized, learn to juggle - you can make significant progress by committing to do one step, any step!, every day. Click here to learn more and get involved!

putting on my shoes

So many times, the first step to any process is the hardest. The scariest. The first step is coming to terms with what I am about to do. And sometimes, what I'm about to do is uncomfortable. And a little scary.

It is only August 3, and I've already laced up some big shoes for this month:

  • Two weeks from today, I will sitting in training to become a certified running coach. I am both excited and terrified about this. I am nervous beyond belief both for how this will impact my career aspirations and how I will feel sitting in a room of runners. Many of which will probably be much more...advanced? competent? fast?...than me. I'm feeling my insecurities as a runner and an athlete rise to the surface every time I think about this training. You'll hear plenty more about this, I'm sure.


  • I am back on Team Bob. After a very decadent weekend, I really struggled to get back on my eating plan. With everything going on right now, I don't want to think about food - I want the list making, the shopping, the prep, the cooking, the clean up done for me. And that's not in line with my goals. So I'm packing my food even though I don't want to. I'm not letting this goal go just because I'm busy. It is worth it for me. I don't want to put in the work, but it is worth it. (It also helped that I was down a pound this morning. A little motivation was nice.)


  • I am catching up with Mint every day. I know I didn't say anything about how I followed through with my July budgeting goal. That's because I didn't. At all. We did really well actually, but it was a fluke. I didn't categorize. I didn't take our budget into consideration. We just got lucky. And with Miami in 2 weeks and Asheville in 6, I've got to be focused. I don't want to. I don't like seeing where our money is going. I want to just be able to spend without consequence. But I'm doing it. Three days in of categorizing our transactions first thing in the morning. I don't want to do it AT ALL, but I need to do it. I will do it. I am making the commitment.


  • I am writing for 30 minutes a day. Again, I don't like it. It takes me to an uncomfortable space. But getting my book done has suddenly become very important to me. Maybe because I'm afraid I'll forget. (Or maybe because I went back and read what I wrote a year ago and I think it is pretty good.) I'm just using writing prompts to get back in the swing of writing right now without focusing on my topic of choice. So shaking off the cobwebs feels good. I just don't know how I'll feel when I get to the nitty gritty again, though.

I'm making commitments. I'm lacing up my shoes. I'm headed out the door to do the work. Some of it is exciting, but all of it makes me a little uncomfortable. But I know it'll be worth it.

So, what are you putting on your shoes for today?

finally...the budget discussion

Okay, friends. Here we go. I've avoided the budget discussion thus far for one simple reason: I wanted to start at the beginning of the month. Well, two reasons. I didn't want to do the math necessary to write this post. But mostly because I wanted to have a clean slate to start July with.

My commitment to budgets swings something serious. I'll be 100% focused for a few months, and then all it takes is one weekend off track for me to forget all about it for months and months. But I'm feeling very grown up right now. And I figure that if I'm going to get my life together, I might was well go all in. Besides, if my long-term goal is relocation, I need to have our finances in order.

I'm using Mint to keep track of our expenses and spending. It is a very simple program that connects to all of my accounts to show exactly where we are. I can see where we are under or over budget. It tells me which bills have been paid and which bills are coming up. Mint is my friend.

I also like little charts like these. That I took amounts out of, of course.

I struggled to figure out how to share our goals here but still keeping our actual numbers private. And then it hit me - percentages!

I took the budget that I created in Mint this spring and looked at where our spending goes. Don't do the math too closely, though. It only adds up to 99%. I figure 1% is enough to play with.

This is how I have our income budgeted:

40% -> mortgage, utilities, HOA, insurance

20% -> student loans, credit card debt

16% -> car, auto insurance, gas

13% -> groceries, eating out, sundries

6% -> savings

2% -> charity

2% -> personal allowance

Some of these numbers are minimal payments and some are goals. The mortgage category is pretty fixed. However, the debt category is well over the minimum payments, so it is a goal. I think I'll share more of that with you when I report on our progress for July. Probably be some fun numbers there when I'm done with the month.

Of course, there are changes I'd like to see. As we pay down our debt, we'll increase our charity and savings.

July will have a few diversions. Our anniversary is in July and we already have plans to spend the night in Louisville. So I'll see where I can squeeze that in.

Okay. There's my accountability. Bring on July!