The Mindful Hustle

thoughtfully, reluctantly adults.

Get Sh*t Done Week of March 27

Start Blogging Again.

GSD Week of June 13

It has been awhile since I’ve published one of these. Partly because I’ve been distracted and partly because I have not had much to do, in terms of getting sh*t done. Nevertheless, I’ve decided big or small, that I should create one each week to keep myself accountable for my time.

  • Check address where transcripts were sent, follow up with Cole
  • Wash the “hand wash” clothes
  • Continue looking for side hustle opportunities.
  • Portion chicken stock into 1 cup and 2 cup  quantities and freeze (I make my own chicken stock with leftover rotisserie chicken carcasses. Just finished a batch
  • Vacuum and mop floors :(One day I would love to be able to justify paying for a cleaning service to come do this twice a month):
  • If swim lessons get booked, need at least two kick boards and some pool toys for lessons.
  • Decide if Amazon Prime is worth it
  • Rent a carpet cleaner from Home Depot to clean white rug in living room (sometime in June, doesn’t have to be this week)

Meal Planning (New Section!)

  • Spinach and mushroom strata
  • BBQ Chicken Pizza. (use crust in freezer)
  • Green beans and bratwurst slow cooker (brats in freezer)
  • Chicken salad with leftover chicken from rotisserie bird.

Getting rid of guilt that comes with getting rid of stuff

getting rid of guilt

Less than a month ago, right before No Spend May, I bought a pair of shoes. After just a few wears, I wanted to get rid of them. Commence internal struggle: “But I shouldn’t, right? I just spent the money on them. Wouldn’t that be a waste? Maybe I’ll change my mind. I should hold onto them for awhile, just in case.”

*Throws shoes into closet/abyss and forgets about them*

The truth is, those shoes aren’t serving me. They are no more than clutter in my closet. Rather than repeat my usual pattern, I am determined to donate them immediately. But how to overcome my guilt and jettison a new pair of shoes?

Marie Kondo of “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” fame suggests thanking the item for its service, or thanking it for teaching you what doesn’t suit you.  I’ll admit I scoffed the first time I read this because it sounds, well, ridiculous. Who talks to stuff?  And HOW do we learn from inanimate objects. I didn’t get it.

After having some time for the idea sit in my brain, I’ve slowly developed an answer. What’s helped me to let go of the guilt has been to focus on the lesson learned from the discarded object, rather than the gratitude.

Take for example my shoes: the original value I was hoping for was a cute/affordable pair of comfortable shoes I could wear to work. Ultimately they did not meet my criteria because they stretched out and became too loose to stay on my feet without considerable effort, therefore no longer meeting the comfort criteria. The new value in the shoes is the lesson that Mossimo brand flats might stretch. In the future I should try sizing down by a half size or consider avoiding the brand.

Still unsure how to distill the lesson out of possessions that don’t spark joy? Try these steps:

List the reasons you don’t like the object  Lets use another example of something I recently discarded, a pair of work pants. I did not like the feel of the fabric. After a few washes the interior was pilled and scratched my legs, despite following the wash instructions.

Determine the cause My best guess is the blend of the fabric and possibly made worse by the dryer (even though the wash instructions said it was ok!) led to the scratchy interior.

Find the lesson  For me the lesson is not to buy pants with that particular blend again.

Reassign the value of the object The value the pants originally represented  was $50 and in exchange for that money, the ownership of an item I hoped would be comfortable, stylish and durable. The new value of the pants is the lesson that the “exact stretch” style pants from the Loft (and any others with the same fabric blend) are not durable enough for my standards and I will not buy another pair in the future. By conscientiously focusing on the new value, I was able to put the pants in my donate pile without hesitation.

I use clothing examples because these are the purchases I most frequently regret. But this method could certainly be extended to just about anything, from food to household goods to cars. What have you been holding on to out of guilt or fear of wasting money? Give this method a try! Would love to hear how it works for you.

results from no spend

We’re well into June and that means No Spend May is over! How’d it go? Not bad at all.  Did I adhere to all of my rules perfectly? You be the judge.

Category  April  May
Home $975.00 $1,023.78
Food & Dining $873.26 $540.00
Bills & Utilities $192.15 $301.46
Auto & Transport $425.91 $274.03
Pets $138.72 $250.62
Health & Fitness $57.08 $157.00
Gifts & Donations $0.00 $92.78
Entertainment $64.42 $32.42
Fees & Charges $0.00 $23.75
Education $0.00 $18.50
Personal Care $0.00 $16.91
Business Services $91.21 $11.69
Shopping $350.00 $0.00
Travel $130.99 $0.00
Total $3,298.74 $2,742.94

Let’s break it down.

Home: Rent + supplies like light bulbs, trash bags, and sponges.

Food and dining: As soon as I said, “I won’t go out to eat unless a friend invites me”  it seemed like my phone started blowing up with invitations. I guess the recent turn in our weather for the better is to blame. Damn you sun shine!

Category Spending
Groceries $436.67
Restaurants $67.92
Fast Food $25.37
Alcohol & Bars $11.00
Total $540.96

I dined out with friends a few times. As I’m still (relatively) new in town, solidifying friendships is important to me, hence the exception. In general we went out cheap including a CHICKEN AND WAFFLES BUFFET. I repeat: A CHICKEN AND WAFFLES BUFFET. The buffet was free with purchase of one drink. I decided it was worth it to break my No Booze rule  since the net result was cheaper than buying dinner would have been.  And I promise the buffet was not as sheisty as it sounds.

A Confession of Sorts: There is a grey area on my eating out rule. My boyfriend took me out to eat 3 times. He was not intended as part of my “only eat out with friends” exception but he’s not participating in No Spend May. One of our hobbies is trying new restaurants. The boyfriend workaround felt a leeeettle like cheating but it was always his idea and he picked up the bill every time.

Bills and utilities: Credit card payment + tax bill + phone bill

Auto and transport: Insurance, a few day passes on the light rail, and gas.

Pets:  Even higher than  originally anticipated  because Gizmo developed a cough that would not stop so we were at the vet twice. Thank goodness the antibiotics seem to have done the trick and we likely won’t have to go back again. This also includes litter and food.

Health and fitness: Slightly inflated because I purchased a $90 10-punch pass to the local pool. At the rate I’m going this will last me through July. Remaining costs are co-pays and medicine.

Gifts and Donation: Birthday month for a few close friends, includes cost of gifts and shipping.

Entertainment: Netflix and HBO Now

Fees and charges: Freaking Bank of America makes it damn near impossible to figure out how to set up your account on autopay. I was late paying my credit card because I thought it was set up on autopay. Turns out it wasn’t.

Education: Needed an official copy of my transcripts sent out. One time weirdo charge.

Personal Care:  I signed up for Dollar Shave Club. After pricing it out it’s cheaper than buying cartridges at Target. Bought some sunscreen too.

Business Services: Dry cleaning

Shopping (think clothes and shoes): NONE. I may extend this ban all through summer since my clothing budget is particularly overblown.

Travel: None.

Difference between expenses last month and this month: $555.80. Not as much as I was hoping for but still an improvement!

Biggest Challenges: Walking into Target and STICKING TO THE LIST. Having a credit card at Target makes me more inclined to shop there to take advantage of the 5% discount through the card.  I am considering closing that credit card altogether to avoid the trap. But that’s a whole post on it’s own.

Every other time I felt challenged revolved around food. Always packing my lunch for work was a struggle  and whenever I did not have a meal planned for dinner it was so tempting run out. Eating out is definitely a crutch for the poor planner. This No Spend month really made me focus on planning or pay the consequences.

All in all it was a successful month that  helped me take notice of my spending habits. So much so that I plan to continue utilizing the rules I set for myself going forward, on a slightly pared down scale which I’ll detail in another post. If you’re having trouble sticking to a budget or are just plain curious where all your money goes, I highly recommend challenging yourself to a no spend month.

 

 

Don’t call me kiddo

Coworker: “You know what kiddo, I think you’re right.”

Me: *Dies a little inside*

That name, along with other generic terms of endearment like honey and sweetie, are often thrown my way by older coworkers. To the people using them, they are innocuous or maybe even affectionate.  Perhaps I remind you of your daughter or you’re from the country and that’s “just the way we talk.” But to me, it’s like nails on a chalkboard.

These names have been chasing me since I started my professional career at 22. Eight years later, I still regularly receive these verbal equivalents of a pat on the head.  I want to interrupt the usually self indulgent speech that follows the offending nickname with,  “I am aware I am young enough to be your child. But here’s the thing: I am not your child.  I am your peer. I do the same job, have the same authority, and take home the same paycheck  (in some cases I make more.) So please stop.” But fearing I’ll sound petulant, I let it slide. Instead my annoyance hides behind the facade of a weak smile.

The same words used outside of the office roll off my back. When a gas station attendant calls me dear it’s a little irritating but ultimately inconsequential.  There is very little at stake in the interaction with the person who swipes my credit card at 7-Eleven. I will probably never see them again.  Not at all like the office I report to 5 days a week, where my reputation, source of income and future are all tied together.

This practice of infantilization is not exclusive to older men talking down to young women. Women have also called me “dearie” and male friends report being called “honey” more times than they care to remember. Regardless of gender, calling your younger coworkers by a term of endearment, whatever your motivation, is obnoxious and unprofessional.

I think I speak for most of my peers when I say: Don’t call me kiddo.

Forget Carry Ons: How to Travel with just a Personal Item

traveling light

Frontier and Spirit airlines have some crazy cheap airfare. Especially if you’re willing to forgo life’s small luxuries like picking your seat, bringing a carry on and  having a drink in flight.  If not, tickets can quickly jump up to  equal to the cost of more traditional carriers (although not always).

I remember the first time I flew with Frontier: I felt so scandalized by the nickel and diming that I swore I’d never do it again. Well I live in Colorado, my close friends are in Ohio and my family is in Florida. In other words: I travel a lot. And Frontier has hubs in most of the airports I need to travel to. So I found a way to make amends with my former nemesis. Once you know what to expect I find it’s not so bad.

On paying for my seat choice: 90% of my travel is solo so I don’t feel compelled to  pick my seat; either way I’ll be next to a stranger. I’m fairly small (5’5″ and small-to-average build) so I can manage sitting in the middle for a few hours, especially if I’m distracted with a good book or wrapped up in writing. Occasionally I get lucky and am placed in a row near the front of the plane.

On paying for snacks/drinks: Eat a large meal beforehand or bring your own food. Buy a drink in the terminal or bring an empty water bottle and fill it up. No brainer, really.

And now the big one, luggage: Spirit and Frontier charge for checked bags AND carry ons. When I found out their bag policy I felt like they were throwing down a challenge. Charge for a carry on, huh? Guess that means I’ll have to fit everything in a personal item. Here’s how I manage traveling with a personal item only:

Find a bag that fits the dimensions. Frontier permits a  18 x 14 x 8  and  Spirit 16 x 14 x 12 inches. Find a bag that is approximately this size ahead of time.

My personal item of choice is this yellow purse.

personal item

My luggage for a week in Florida.

In my experience, gate agents are biased against backpacks, I swear they just assume they’re too big without assessing the size and try to charge you  for it. If you MUST use a backpack, I suggest swinging it over one shoulder (farthest from the agent) so it’s partially obscured.

Accept that you will be working from a limited mix of items. At home we can pick from our whole wardrobe every morning.  That routine of considering a wide range of options on a daily basis overflows into packing: we feel compelled to have options to pick from,  so we try to bring our whole wardrobe with us and thus massively over pack.

When traveling with just a personal item, it’s important to plan ahead what you’ll wear. Even more important, you’ll need to make adjustments. Perhaps normally with a certain outfit you’d wear a certain pair boots, but your two shoe limit (see below)  is already maxed out. Time to compromise. Who knows, you might just find some fun new combinations you would not have normally put together.

No more than two pairs of shoes. One pair on you feet, one in the bag. The shoes I bring truly depend where I’m going/time of year/purpose of the trip.

Bring your favorite and most versatile items. I have a pair of black pants that dress up well but can be casual too. I have worn them out to bars, to work, even to a funeral.  They have a good deal of stretch in them so they are comfortable enough to wear on the plane. Those pants are true chameleons. Figure out which pieces are your chameleons and create your travel wardrobe around them.

Make Assumptions What I mean by this is, make assumptions about what will be available to you where you’re going. Hotels and/or friends will have a blow dryer and towels to use so I don’t bring my own.  This extends to some toiletries too, like toothpaste and shampoo. What’s provided might not be my favorite brand but it’s short term.

Wear your bulkiest items through the airport. I know we like to be comfy on the plane but if I have large items I must bring with me (boots, big sweater, jacket, whatever…) I create my travel outfit using those things. If you are running low on space in your  bag, you can use the pockets of your coat for additional small item storage like phone chargers. Wear this outfit traveling both to and from your destination.

Bring a separate smaller purse for carrying your wallet, keys etc. My travel bag is a large purse I would not normally choose to carry all day long so  I bring a smaller purse for keys, wallet, and cellphone. This way my essentials are consolidated and easily accessible during the travel and then once I get to my destination I can downsize. Sub-tip on the subject of keys:  Whittle your key ring down to just what you’ll need, probably just a house key and a car key. If possible, leave the whole set at home. No need to bring any extraneous keys. My key ring normally looks like a janitor’s, between the keys for my mailbox, bike lock, back entrance, garage, work keys… When I travel I leave all the extras at home. Every little bit of space counts when you’re traveling with a personal item.


What started out as a challenge against my stubborn nature turned out to be the cure I needed to fix my chronic over-packing. I first tried packing this way for short weekend trips and eventually dared using this method for longer trips (my record is 7 days.) And guess what? I survived. More than that, I loved it! Other advantages to traveling with just a personal item are: no lost luggage, no waiting at the baggage claim, less potential for lost items while you travel (I am notorious for leaving stuff wherever I go), lessened decision fatigue, and unpacking after your trip is so fast you don’t even have time to dread it. So thanks, Frontier Airlines.

If traveling with a personal item is too intimidating, you could easily use these concepts to travel with a carry on instead of a checked bag. What do you think? Are you crazy enough to give it a try?

 

Get Sh*t Done Week of May 16

I’m back with a short to-do list for this week. Life has settled back down to normal since last Monday and for that I am grateful. I was able to knock off the remaining items since the last time I posted my GSD List and am back with a totally new tasks.

I am only including this week’s To Do’s instead of my usual Monthly/Yearly/10 year goals because I am short on time (and also it probably gets redundant seeing those weekly.)

  • Watching Rex through Thursday
  • Make Pot roast Monday when you get home
  • Swim on Tuesday or Thursday, or both if you’re feeling bold.
  • Put Poang chairs away in loft
  • Catch up Bible reading (30 pages)
  • Put motivation book on Kindle to read during lunches
  • Monday night: pack for training class (tissues, water bottle, edamame for snack in Ziploc bag) Note: I am away from my usual office this week and all of the comforts of my cubicle I am sorely missing. Never thought I would miss my cubicle.

Hope you have a wonderful, productive week! Go Get Shit Done!

Adulting is not so bad

Being an adult can be exhausting. Making decisions, working every day, paying for  un-fun things like taxes, car registration, electricity… UGH! Adulting is hard! But if I’m honest, I would not trade places with my younger self.  I value my freedom too much to ever wish I was a kid again. 

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When life derails your To-Do List

todo list derail

I am not going to post a GSD list this Monday because it would look identical to last week’s. Nothing on that list Got Done. Not a damn thing.  Last week life got in the way. My boyfriend was in a car accident and the time devoted to undoing the mess  (impound twice, subsequent doctor appointments, driving him to and from work) sucked up my free time and my mental reserves. I hope I don’t sound like I am not complaining; I’m not. Just trying to be honest about where my time went.  Things could have been a lot worse! He is fine and his car has very minor damage. I am convinced that dude has Captain America as guardian angel.

So last week was externally focused, my own priorities shifted to more pressing matters than shredding old documents. But how do I get back on track? Could I have gotten some “sh*t” done through all the other sh*t? If I think about it, I did do some things, but they weren’t on the list: I mailed my mom a Mother’s Day Card, carried on with my bible reading, did laundry on a rainy Saturday, decluttered a particularly overstuffed kitchen cabinet, made time for three impromptu social events, and spent 12 hours away from my phone. (Sure it was entirely involuntary because I left my phone in a friend’s car,  but I survived it and felt good to take a break from its constant lure.)

Gun to my head, sure I could have probably accomplished the tasks, but that’s not what the GSD is supposed to be. It’s supposed to motivate me and hold me accountable, not hold me hostage to things that simply don’t make sense in that time. I wrote that list last Sunday, after the accident but before I realized what an impact it would have on my week.  I guess I was being optimistic or more likely, didn’t think through what having one car would mean between the two of us.

Of course something serious like a car accident, hospitalization, or extreme weather can throw you off your groove but sometimes minor incidents or even fun events can do the same. (Last minute ski trip, dinner invite, whatever!) What’s important is not to let the fact that you’re off schedule become an excuse to stay off schedule. Don’t let your lack of progress from before influence the progress you could make in the future. And don’t beat yourself up about it because your GSD list is meant to be adapted to serve you and what’s going on in your life, and not the other way around.

Things have normalized. By tomorrow we will be back to two cars and my list will still be there, ready for me and I’ll try, try again.

 

Month of April: Where did my money go?

As I mentioned in my No Spend post, I recently took a microscope to my finances. Below is a summary of my spending from April and subdivided in to categories with help from Mint.com. (No that’s not and ad for Mint, I just like them!)

Let the public shaming begin!

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