Friday, August 24, 2012

Self Improving Self

Andrea at So Over This posed the question a while back Is Financial Health Always Linked to Physical Health?  Even since I read this line, "I read a ton of blogs regularly, most of which are financial, and I’ve noticed a trend. When a blogger gets his/her finances under control, it seems like the blog almost always shifts toward fitness or exercise" I've been all worried that I was going to go that route too, even though she wasn't being judgey about it at all.  See, the problem with personal finance blogs, and the reason some of them are so damn boring, is after you pay off a massive debt or figure out how to better take care of yourself moneywise, there's not much else to say.

I could post every day and show you pictures of my groceries or talk about how I haven't paid full price for mayo in years (years!  I'm pretty impressed with myself), but really, who wants to hear it?  Instead, now that I have my finances (mostly) under control, I'm looking to clean up other areas in my life that will actually save me money, but might improve me overall as well.  How's that for staying on topic, eh?

1. Chew My Food More Thoroughly 
I'm a fast eater, always have been, which honestly makes no sense because I've rarely had to compete with anyone for food.  The problem, I think, is that I'm a textural eater, which means that my enjoyment of food ends very early on in the chewing process.  However, chewing my food more thoroughly will not only make me eat slower-- aiding digestion, but will ultimately make me eat less (supposedly).  That will save me money in Alka-Seltzer and foodstuffs all while making me healthier and more svelte.

2. Waste Less
This goes hand-in-hand with the not taking plastic bags things, but I'm always trying to pay more attention to what a buy, how much I buy, and how much of what I've bought I actually keep.  I honestly feel like I'm dropping off huge bag at the thrift store three times a year, which is just ridiculous.  I'm like a lot of people, I like new things, but this year I have gotten better at shopping my closet, and now that I'm not job-hopping as much, it's much easier to actually just have one wardrobe.

Of course, wasting less also goes for food.  I feel ill thinking of all the food I wasted during the summer of the farm share, so I am going to be very good from now on.  Pinky swear.

3. Drive Less
This one has been on the docket for a while, but now that it's not 90 DEGREES AND 100% HUMIDITY, I can actually pedal the two miles to work and not die.  Plus, now that I have the Big Brother device riding shotgun, I have even more incentive to bike/walk as much as possible.  Man, I hope this saves me some money.

4. Spend Less
All of the above should help me spend less both on food and clothes--hopefully on gas and car insurance too.  Also, thanks to President Obama's Affordable Health Care Act, I now get free birth control!  That saves me $360/year that I can instead give back to the government in the form of student loan repayment.

5. Save More
With all of those savings, I should be able to actually save more in my savings/ retirement accounts!  My savings has been pretty stagnant since starting the new job, and I really want to turn that around.  Especially since this year the library had a significant budget cut, which means that I get no 401k matching for the whole year.  Not to rant (too much), but as I've mentioned before, my library is a brand-new system that has a shoestring budget.  The $200,000 budget cut would have meant that all nine libraries have to close a total of three weeks over the course of the fiscal year, with employees losing three week's pay.  Instead of doing that, the union agreed that employees would give up their 401k matching for the year and the library will only close one week.  As much as I don't love the idea of losing three week's pay, I really dislike the idea of not having a retirement account.  I mean, I love my job, but I'd like to be able to leave some day instead of dropping dead at the reference desk.

So yeah, I need to step it up this year.

6. Declutter
Naturally, I'm still in the process of decluttering, which  will likely last the rest of my life, but hopefully if I'm not bringing in as much stuff, there will be less clutter overall!  Logic!  This is another part of the reason I love, love, love Freecycle.  It actually helps me declutter without having to think about it.  For instance, I'm really bad about getting rid of boxes and other packing materials.  I've moved enough that I know I will need that stuff again some day, and I will not go to the UPS store to buy boxes, not when they've been entering my house for years for free.  So, yeah, our basement storage space is full of boxes.  But the other day on Freecycle, someone said that they needed shoe boxes, which I also have many of. I got to get rid of shoe boxes, know that the boxes are needed by someone, and help a stranger!  So many warm fuzzies!  I also gave away an older laptop that I didn't need anymore, but that worked ok.  Now I imagine the young man who took it will become a Rhodes Scholar, and I helped him get there.

By the end of this year, I will perfect!

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