How to really chill out, if you’re an overachiever like me (can it really be done?) ((and why it’s important))

First and foremost, I am an overachiever. I set goals and like time-tables. I have charts, projections, and I’m always working towards something. It may be slow and steady at times, but it is always moving.

As a woman, I am a natural multi-tasker. I do laundry while cleaning the bathroom. I vacuum the couch while the dishwasher is running, all the while listening to an audio-book and keeping an eye on the dogs. More likely than not, if I’m watching a movie/tv show I’m also checking emails/blogs/reading the New York Times. Point being, I have a hard time sitting still and doing nothing.

So when work slowed down recently (after being out of the country for a few weeks) I literally found myself with time on my hands that I didn’t know what to do with. I haven’t been to work since mid-April. That was 2 months ago. Leading up to my trip I had all things packing, organizing, and preparing to take up my time. Upon return I had a friend in town visiting for a week, plus unpacking, cleaning, laundering, and getting back into the swing of things. That was two weeks ago. So for two weeks (and another ten days) I have no scheduled work to do. I have scrubbed, washed, laundered, vacuumed, sprayed, dusted, swept and mopped every square inch of this house. Multiple times. I have sorted my mail, my email, and all the random papers I could find around the house. I have organized my kitchen. I have read books, articles, blogs (in their entirety, no small feat!). I have watched movies, tv shows (hoarders for one, thus all the cleaning) and every documentary I could get my hands on.

Why am I telling you this? Because in the midst of all my running around, I realized something, I didn’t NEED to be doing any of it. In fact, it would probably be good for me to not do any of those things.

We have three dogs, (one is a golden retriever) so I could vacuum every day from here til eternity, and there would still be dog hair that needs to be picked up. The laundry will always be there, the dishes will always be there. I realized that I was filling my time, just for the sake of filling my time.

So I decided to do something for myself, and only myself. I decided to try to focus some attention on myself. I started in the mornings by making my favorite coffee. Instead of watching the morning news while putting away dishes and sipping coffee, I watched out the window while my water boiled. I poured water over my coffee grounds and listened to a record that I love. I enjoyed the moment. Was my morning so different? No. But I was present. I was in the moment and it really made a difference!

I tried watching a movie with my phone plugged in in another room. I sat out on my deck and read a new book while enjoying a glass of wine. Nothing major, nothing earth shattering. But it was those little moments that left me feeling calmer, more at ease.

Being home for an extended period of time can make me feel like I’m stalled, like I’m being lazy. But try to see those moments as a chance to take care of yourself. Go for a run, reconnect with an old friend, volunteer for an organization you care about. I can’t tell you what is going to be meaningful for you, each person will have their own thing.

Just don’t feel bad about taking care of yourself. Don’t feel bad about not working. We have all grown so accustomed to the “work hard, play hard” mentality, that any downtime is considered laziness. When I work constantly, without any sort of break, my work deteriorates. I miss things, the work absolutely suffers. When I take time to relax and enjoy my time off, I find myself ready and excited to get back to work. I put that much more into my job because I don’t feel bogged down.

So, once again with feeling, to all the other overachievers out there, take care of yourselves. Chill out a bit, whatever that means to you.

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Mommy and I in Amsterdam. Enjoying some much needed downtime together!

Frugality is a privilege

I took a little bit of a blogging break to benefit my health. I needed a break from some things. I needed a chance to grieve. But I’m starting to break out of my funk, and blogging really is something I enjoy.

So today I want to talk about frugality as a privilege versus out of necessity. What’s the difference and why does it matter? I’m getting there!

There is a difference between clipping coupons because you want to save a few dollars here and there to add to your vacation fun, and using coupons because you only have $18 to your name and you need to feed your family. It’s glaringly different. I don’t point this out to make anyone feel bad about being frugal, but I think people need to recognize that they experience some amount of privilege if they are being frugal by choice.

I am incredibly lucky in that I was raised in a comfortable home, physically and financially. My family always had enough money, and never wanted for anything. That meant my mom never had to clip coupons, and could pick up whatever she wanted at the store. There was no worry that she couldn’t afford the items in her cart. This allows me to recognize that when I choose to be frugal, it’s not born out of necessity. If I am ever really truly struggling financially, I always have the option of reaching out to family for support. Do I want to do this? Of course not! But they will never let me fall all the way down.

There are many people however, who are not nearly as lucky. Many people really only have $30 in their bank account, and so they are frugal because they have no choice. Why do I point this out? Not to judge or shame anyone. But to bring it to light that we shouldn’t judge anyone for being frugal or not. Each person has the right to choose how they want to spend or save their money. We can be helpful and offer advice, but it’s really not our place to judge.

I think we need to be a more inclusive community. No one is perfect, so let’s not judge others for not doing something “right”. What’s right for you might not be right for me. I try to be frugal with my money because I have 3 rather expensive pets, that require frequent expensive vet visits. So I clip coupons and try to buy the brand name products whenever possible. I don’t eat out often. I don’t buy things I don’t need. I use the library. But all of this, is also born from privilege. It’s a privilege to have these three animals in my life. Not everyone would be able to afford them on a regular basis.

I recognize this is a sensitive subject for many people. So let’s just be kind to one another. Let’s just listen and help one another. You never know what someone is going through.

Shopping Habits

Let me just start by saying that I love shopping. Grocery shopping, shoe shopping, pet supply shopping, all of it.  I love comparing prices and item quality. I 100% get this from my mom. When I was little, most Saturday mornings were spent at Nordstrom with Debbie, my mom’s personal shopper. She would have racks and racks of clothes for my mom to try on. I would sit on the little pedestal, coloring book in hand, and watch my mom come out in outfit after outfit. Deciding what she loved and what she didn’t.

It was my favorite thing to do with my mom. I got all her attention, and the clothes were beautiful. Not to mention the sweet ladies at Nordstrom would always bring me some kind of yummy treat to enjoy.

I realize of course that this is not a normal childhood experience. I know how fortunate my family was financially, and how incredibly lucky I was to have such a secure childhood. Regardless, this is one of my favorite memories of my mom. I didn’t get to spend lots of time with her during the week (she was and will always be a #girlboss) so weekend mornings were treasured.

ALL THAT being said, I realize that shopping is something I associate with wonderful Mom time. Even going to Trader Joe’s for cucumbers makes me think about that quality time. So now, when I’m lonely or bored, I want to shop.

It’s not even a conscious thing. I get distracted at work and look on Madewell’s website. Or I pull up Amazon on my phone while I’m waiting in line somewhere. The stuff doesn’t bring me joy, the shopping for it does. I know I am not the only one who feels this way. I asked my friends, and more than a couple of them also buy things not because they really need (or even want) the things, but because the act of looking and comparing and purchasing brings them joy.

Why am I telling you this? Because I am all about accountability. I am way more likely to stick to something if I have someone that is keeping an eye on me. I tell my roommate EVERYTHING so that she can keep me set on my goals. I am way better if someone is looking out for me too.

What about you? are you more into the shopping itself, or the stuff?  (there are btw, MANY articles on the subject, I’ll do a post on that soon)

Money Diary: Day Seven

6:50 AM – Up and exhausted. I never sleep well and so early mornings are not my favorite thing. I walk the dogs, feed them, and put on some coffee. I stumble back upstairs and snuggle with the cat for an hour, forgetting the coffee. Balls.

8:15 AM – Remember the coffee so head back downstairs. I enjoy a cup while doing some minor adulating (laundry and finishing dishes). Then I hop in the shower.

10:30 AM – Head out the door for some errands. Get gas at Costco $15.51. I pick up a prescription and run a few other boring errands. I am supposed to meet a guy for tea at 1pm so I want to get my stuff done before then.

1:00 PM – I get to the tea shop for my date. $2.50 for a cup of peppermint tea. The date is a bit of a dud but no harm no foul.

3:00 PM – I arrive at my friend’s house to check on her. I snag her car keys so I can go pick up her son from daycare. I try to pick him up a couple times a week and I love my afternoons with him. He is such a sweet little man! He will be three next month and the light of my life. When I walk into his classroom he says gasps “MoMo!” melt my heart! In the car he tells me “I love your beautiful nails MoMo!” I can’t make this up! He is such a love! We go to get frozen yogurt, or as he calls it Candy Ice Cream. $5.40 (I may have gotten him way more than he can eat.)

5:00 PM – We head back to his house to check on Mom and Dad. I drop him off and head back home, heart full of love.

6:00 PM – I get home and have some bread and cheese for dinner.

7:00 PM – I talk to one of my closest friends from college who is getting married this summer. I need to start looking at flights and places to stay. It’s not going to be a cheap trip (they are getting married in Lake Tahoe in July) so I need to start planning now.

9:00 PM – Dogs out for one last walk and off to bed!

Total Spent: $22.41

Money Diary: Day Two

6:45 AM – And we’re up! I feed and walk the dogs and again take a morning nap as I haven’t had an actual day off in years. It’s glorious!

9:15 AM – Up for the second time. I am feeling a little groggy so I make some coffee and some hash with whatever I can find in the fridge. In goes an egg, some cheese, some potatoes and leftover chicken. I try very hard not to be wasteful so I make an effort to use up whatever odds and ends are left during the week. I’m far from perfect but I always try.

10:30 AM – Head over to my bestie’s house. She’s fighting cancer for the second time so I spend time with her every day that I’m home. Today we watch trashy shows on TLC and Animal Planet, eat some snacks, and I drink the coffee that I brought in my thermos.  Her husband joins us for lunch and I head back home around 3pm.

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3:15 PM – Arrive home and it’s time to walk the dogs. Each dog gets a 20-minute walk even though it’s raining.

4:15 PM – I get a notice in my email reminding me that I have a payment for my animal credit card due. I have a specific credit card that I put only my animal related purchases on. If I pay each purchase off in 6 months there is no interest, so I make sure to keep track and pay off each payment as soon as possible. $236.23

 5:15 PM – Roommate gets home and we catch up since our schedules haven’t overlapped much lately. We talk about upcoming weekend plans and look at planning a trip to San Diego. I just got home from spending a few days there with my Godmother because she had surgery. It made me miss home, and family, so we decide another trip is in order.

6:20 PM – I’m not super hungry so I snack on baguette with goat cheese that I picked up earlier in the week.

7:00 PM – I spend the rest of the evening watching old X-Files episodes while my roommate paints. We all head to bed around 9pm.

Total spent: $236.23

My money diary, day one

Do you guys read the Money Diaries on Refinery29? I do and am kind of obsessed. I will spend literally hours reading through what people do and spend their money on. Is that weird? I don’t think so.

I mentioned a few months ago that I did a food diary for the Kitchn.com and LOVED doing it. So I think I will do my own Money Diary, maybe I will even submit it and see if they publish it too! The difference is I will post one day at a time. I won’t publish it all at once because I imagine that would be a very long post! So let’s start with today.

Day one (Wednesday)

6:50 AM – Ugh, dogs. I love them dearly but why must we always be up so early!? My roommate and her man are off to work and I’m off to walk my dogs. I make coffee and a piece of toast. I’m exhausted from a poor night’s sleep so I decide to take a morning nap.

9:30 AM – And we’re up. The dogs are playing and I drink more coffee. I watch a little bit of the Today show and get ready to go see my mom.

10:15 AM – Jethro (one of my dogs) and I head out to see my mom. We are going to get lunch and I am going to borrow her apple peeler. I walk Jethro around my parents’ neighborhood because we are a bit early for lunch.

12:00 PM – Arrive at Mom’s office. All her coworkers love to give my dog belly rubs and head scratches. He doesn’t mind. Mom and I (and Jethro) walk over to Cheese and Crack, and get some mac ‘n cheese to split for lunch, Mom pays because she’s awesome. Jethro enjoys meeting everyone on our walk over. Mom and I eat in her office and split a Coke from her fridge. I head back to her house to get the apple peeler and Jethro and I head back home.

2:30 PM – Walk the dogs, Red and Holden stayed home so they get a longer walk, but it starts to rain so we cut it short. I spend most of the afternoon hanging out with my dogs, putzing around the house, watching the X-Files, and munching.

5:30 PM – I finally make a smoothie to stand in for dinner. My roommate is at an event tonight so she won’t be home until later. The dogs and I enjoy a nice evening at home relaxing.

7:30 PM – Browsing guys on Bumble, dating is awful. I know some people love it but I really don’t enjoy it, and I certainly don’t think I’m good at it. I give up and work on some blog writing and other miscellaneous tasks.

9:00 PM – Roommate is home and we catch up on the day.  Final walk for the dogs and into bed (I feel like a grandma but I hate being up late!)

Total spent: $0

My favorite blogs

Like many of you, I have my favorite blogs that I read on a regular basis. Most of them, have to do with frugality, and most of them I have been reading for years! I may not know these people personally, but I feel like I know them from reading about their lives for this long. I hope you will check them out (alright I have the feeling most of you know them too!)

The Financial Diet is a great place to start. It has a whole group of contributors with different, interesting points of view. Multiple articles published daily share all kinds of experiences. From dating frugally, to inexpensive grocery ideas, it’s a great well rounded financial picture.

Frugalwoods is one of my very favorite blogs ever! Mr and Mrs Frugalwoods bought a homestead in Vermont not too long ago, and it is such a cool perspective! She genuinely makes me want to move to the middle of no where on a farm. They grow their own fruits and vegetables, heat their home with wood her husband has chopped, it’s amazing! They lived in Boston for a few years prior and I found that life interesting to read about as well! They have one little girl and another on the way so I am curious to see how this affects their life on the homestead.

The Non Consumer Advocate  is written by an awesome gal named Katy who also happens to live in Portland. I have been reading this blog longest of all. She works as a nurse and has two boys in college. She writes about her life, how she saves money creatively, and her side hustle of selling items she has purchased at local Goodwill stores. It’s a very relatable blog. (fun story, once I saw Katy walking down the street to the local grocery store and I made my dad turn the car around so I could say hi)

The Frugal Girl is another one I adore. Kristen lives with her husband and four kids and writes about daily life. She writes about grocery shopping, what they eat for dinner, what the kids do for fun, and family outings. I love it. She is kind and compassionate, and speaks with such heart. Because of Kristen I subscribe to Mighty Nest which I absolutely love. It’s a monthly subscription box, which sends you something that is eco friendly for the home. I have gotten glass water bottles, Tupperware, glass cleaner, sponges and dish clothes. It costs $10 a month and each thing you receive is worth at least $10. If you are looking for a cool gift for something this holiday season, I highly recommend it.

What about you? What blogs do you guys read?? Which awesome blogs am I missing out on?