Wednesday, August 28, 2019

My Year of the $100/Month “Fun Things” Budget

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When I left the workforce in September last year, I decided on a fun experiment.  I gave myself a $100 per month budget for “fun things”.  Since our household income was basically reduced by 40%, we had a lot less disposable income every month.  I couldn’t just buy whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.  (Although I never did that.  I have been responsible with money since I left my parents’ house and went to college.)  Todd cut back on his spending also, so I wasn’t the only one who had to cut back.  We are a family and we have always shared money in our 25 years of marriage.  The difference is, I made a game of it and kept track of every item I spent the fun budget on myself and how much it cost.  So today I’m going to share with you the things I bought! 

First, a few statistics.  I had some very low-buy months where I spent way less than $100.  My lowest month was April, when I only spent $10.  My highest month was September, when I spent $261.  (Still getting used the idea of a fun budget, LOL.)  Miraculously, the 12 months averaged out to $98 per month!  Almost exactly my budget, ha ha!

Also, there are some rules or tenants that governed what exactly falls into the monthly “fun budget”.

  1. It had to be something I spent on myself.  Not for our family, and not for our house.  On myself.
  2. It covers items that I WANT and do not NEED.  For instance, if it’s a face cream that I have been using for years and it’s part of my regular routine, and I’m repurchasing it, it doesn’t count against the “fun budget”. 
  3. All clothes and shoes fall into the “fun budget”.  Because after 2-3 years of being into fashion, I do not NEED anymore clothes or shoes! 
  4. It doesn’t cover fun experiences or things that Todd & I do together.  We have a separate entertainment budget for that.
  5. I no longer purchase books or music.  I only read books from the library (physical or ebooks), and we have a Spotify subscription for music.
  6. It doesn’t include souvenirs from vacations.  We have a separate vacation budget.
  7. I didn’t count the things I got with gift cards or credit card rewards.
  8. Prices are what I actually paid for the items.  Most of the time I tried to wait for sales or discounts, so I rarely paid full price.

Keeping track of it was easy, because for 25 years I’ve entered every penny we’ve spent into Quicken.  (Every month and year, I know exactly how much we’ve spent on every single spending category.)  I’m so used to keeping track of spending and reconciling bills against my own records.  So all I had to do was tag my “fun budget” spending in Quicken and run a report on that tag.

I also just want to mention that I thought $100 per month was a good fun budget for my financial situation.  I realize that some people may not have $100 per month to spend on fun things, and some people may have a lot more than $100 to spend.  It’s not a judgement on anyone.  It’s what I decided was reasonable for our family budget.

I’m going to list the monthly spending backwards and start with August 2019, since the most recent purchases seem more exciting, LOL.  All are rounded to the nearest $1.

August 2019:  $94

  1. La Roche Posay Cicaplast B5 Baume $10
  2. Ponds Rejuveness AHA Collagen Anti-Wrinkle Cream $6
  3. CevaVe Renewing Gentle SA Face Cleanser $10
  4. Revlon Kiss Lip Balm with SPF 025 Fresh Strawberry $3
  5. SEXYHAIR Healthy Styling Paste $9
  6. Wet n Wild Photo Focus Foundation Golden Beige $2
  7. DHC Deep Cleansing Oil $6
  8. COSRX Advanced Snail 92 All In One Cream $12
  9. COSRX Ultimate Nourishing Rice Overnight Spa Mask $10
  10. COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence $12
  11. Lada Labo Tokyo Skin Plumping Gel Cream $15

July 2019:  $98

  1. Paula's Choice Resist Super Light Wrinkle Defense Lotion SPF 30 $13 (had a Nordstrom reward note)
  2. Blick Arts - 4 pens $10
  3. Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade in Med Brown $14
  4. Anastasia Beverly Hills Brush 12 Dual-Ended Firm Angled Brush $14
  5. Cover Girl TruNaked Queenship Shadow Sticks in Mogul $8
  6. Milani Baked Blush in Luminoso $6
  7. Ardell Duo Lash Adhesive Clear $5
  8. Finishing Touch Flawless Women's Painless Hair Remover $10
  9. Ardell Faux Mink Strip Lashes Wispies $4
  10. Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery 50 g Sunscreen SPF 50 + / PA ++++ $8
  11. Maybelline New York Unstoppable Eyeliner, Sapphire $4

June 2019:  $133

  1. Dermstore Beauty Fix box – June $35
  2. Elta MD UV Elements SPF 44 Tinted $29
  3. Pentel Refill Ink for EnerGel 0.7mm Needle Tip Liquid Gel Pen, Pack of 12, Black Ink (LRN7-A-12) $10
  4. Platinum-Plated Sterling Silver Round 3-Stone Ring made with Swarovski Zirconia (2 cttw) $26
  5. Eva Naturals Vitamin C+ Serum $9
  6. Burt's Bees Tinted Lip Balm in red dahlia $5
  7. Burt's Bees Lip/Cheek Stick in Blush Bay $9
  8. Maybelline Color Sensational Made For You 373 Mauve For Me $5
  9. Yes To Grapefruit Single Use Mud Face Mask $1
  10. NYX Professional Makeup Bright Idea Illuminating Stick Pearl Pink Lace $4

May 2019:  $224

  1. Ponds Clarant B3 Cream $6
  2. Ponds Cleansing Balm $8
  3. St. Ives Radiant Skin Face Scrub, Pink Lemon and Mandarin Orange $4
  4. Aquaphor $5
  5. Love Beauty Planet Deodorant $6
  6. Australian Gold Botanical Sunscreen SPF 50 Tinted Face Mineral Lotion $11
  7. Various Planner Stickers $31
  8. The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution $7
  9. The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution $9
  10. Drunk Elephant The Littles Set $81
  11. The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2% $7
  12. Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream $50

April 2019:  $10

  1. Trader Joe’s Ultra Hydrating Gel Moisturizer $10

March 2019:  $48

  1. Clean Mama - homekeeping printables $24
  2. Thayer's Rose Toner $8
  3. Pentel pens $16

February 2019:  $15

  1. Book – Make It Up $15 (the exception to my book rule, since I was going to mark this one up and use as reference)

January 2019:  $54

  1. Trader Joe's all purpose balm $4
  2. Various bath things at Lush $32
  3. Various things at Bath & Body Works $17

December 2018:  $13

  1. Various hand creams at Bath & Body Works $13

November 2018:  $89

  1. Concord & 9th - Christmas stamp & die set $26
  2. Splendid - draped waffle knit thermal hoodie in black $63 (my favorite hoodie in my closet!)

October 2018:  $136

  1. Happy Planner stickers $6
  2. Bath & Body Works - lotions and candles $45
  3. Sunglasses $16
  4. Happy Wax - burners & melts $58
  5. Glade wax warmer $11

September 2018:  $261

  1. Old Navy - vests and sweatshirts $94
  2. Fanny pack for Disneyland $15
  3. Eva NYC Mane Magic 10-in-1 Primer $11
  4. Tea Tree oil $9
  5. 2019 Hobonichi Cousin planner $56
  6. Wedge sneakers $28
  7. 3-layer necklace $22
  8. BareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Moisturizer $26

So, what do you think of the concept of a $100 per month “fun budget”?  What types of things would be included in yours?  Is this something you would be interested in reading more about every month as I embark on year 2?

Disclosure:  When possible, links used are affiliate links.  I make a tiny commission if you choose to purchase products from my links.  They are at NO cost to you.  It’s just a tiny amount to offset my blogging expenses and blogging time.  You are not obligated to use the links at all, but I thank you if you do!

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Sunday, August 25, 2019

It’s the Little Things | August 2019

The last few months, I’ve been slowly been upgrading the tools and organizational products we use almost every day.  Based on my own experience, I’ve noticed that if it’s something that annoys me a little bit every day, then it’s worth spending a little bit of money to fix the problem, whether that means better processes or better tools.  We put up with small annoyances in life, but when you add them all together, it really can impact your overall well-being and happiness.  So these little improvements make me just a little bit more joyful and happy every single day.  It’s the little things sometimes!

Today I’ll show you four things we’ve purchased in the last month to make our lives better.  I didn’t have the foresight to take any “before” photos, so I only have “after” photos.  I’ll try to remember to plan ahead next time, because I think I’d like to make these posts into a semi-regular thing on this blog.  Small upgrades that make life easier or better!

First up is this $6 stainless steel toothbrush and toothpaste holder for my bathroom counter.

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We had been using just a plastic cup to put our toothpastes and toothbrushes into.  We each had one.  But we all know how often you have to actually wash the cups, because it can get gummy and gross in there.  I thought this stainless steel holder was much more attractive and hygienic!  So far so good and I like it.

The next three things are kitchen related.  Ever since I quit my job last year and became a stay-at-home-wife-and-business-owner, I’ve spent a lot more time in the kitchen.  I prep veggies and fruits, I chop and prep meals, and I cook a lot more.  Almost every week I notice something annoying about our kitchen tools or processes, LOL.  So I have upgraded/replaced some tools to make our kitchen life better.  To me, it’s totally worth it to remove obstacles for something you want to do MORE of.  I wanted to cook and clean more, so I wanted better tools.

First is a vegetable peeler.  This $7 food prep peeler is an upgrade to our Kuhn Rikon one that we got from Sur La Table many years ago. 

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The OXO one has a way better and more ergonomic grip.  I peel a lot for food prep nowadays (sweet potatoes, beets, etc.), so a tool upgrade was necessary.  I’m really excited about this one!

Next, it’s an organization upgrade for inside the spice cabinet.  We used to have all our spices big and small just sprawled inside the spice cabinet.  We had a wire stand so we could fit more spices on top of each other, but you really couldn’t see the spices hidden in the back.  One day I just got tired of it and bought this $13 two-tier lazy susan that fits inside our kitchen cabinet. 

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Now we can see all our spices!  Not only that, but Todd went and alphabetized each tier, so it’s even easier to find what we’re looking for, ha ha!  I love this upgrade!  It’s just one of those things where it’s so cheap and has made such a positive impact, that you wonder, “Why didn’t we do this years ago???”

The last kitchen related item is this $16 salad lunch container

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Todd brings his lunch to work almost every day.  When I worked I brought my lunch too.  It’s rare for us to have to buy lunch, unless it is a pre-planned lunch with coworkers/friends.  We bring our lunches because it’s more nutritious and healthy, and because it saves SO MUCH money to not have to buy lunch out every single day.  Lately during the summer, we’ve been eating more salads for dinner and Todd’s been bringing salads to work for lunch.  We didn’t have a good system/container for bringing salads.  You want to keep the wetter ingredients separate from the lettuce.  And you want to have a good container for the dressing too.  While you could bring three separate containers for all these things, it got to be a pain.  So when I saw my friend Jen’s video on meal prep, I was smitten with this salad-to-go container.  It is perfect for bringing salads to work!  You put the lettuce in the big tub, then you put the wetter ingredients, cheese, and maybe meat on the top tray, along with the dressing in the little container.  I would have bought two of them, if I were still working! 

And by the way, if you love meal prep, cooking, and cleaning videos, you need to go subscribe to my friend Jen Chapin’s channel on YouTube!  She has taught me so much and has inspired me to keep my kitchen cleaner and meal prep.  She was a scrapbooking friend but now she’s expanded her channel into meal prep and I’m totally enjoying it!

These are a few of my recent little life upgrades.  I love that these things don’t cost much but make life so much easier and better.  I hope to make this type of post a regular thing (monthly?) going forward.  Do you have any little things that you’ve upgraded that makes your life way better?  Let me know in the comments, I would love to hear!

Disclosure:  links used are affiliate links.  I make a tiny commission if you choose to purchase products from my links.  They are at NO cost to you.  It’s just a tiny amount to offset my blogging expenses and blogging time.  You are not obligated to use the links at all, but I thank you if you do! 

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Monday, August 19, 2019

I’m Back

I haven’t blogged for about four months due to technical issues with Open Live Writer’s interface with Blogger.  I HATE the Blogger web interface, so blogging was no longer fun for me and I gave up.  I kept checking Github threads to see if someone was kind enough to volunteer his/her time to rewrite Open Live Writer to fix the issues, and lo and behold last Friday when I checked the thread, someone named Nick Vella did!  So now I’m back to blogging, except I’m still considering migrating my blog to self-hosted Wordpress so I never have these issues again.  But that would require research and lots of work, and learning the technical details on my part. 

Todd and I are doing really well, and I am personally doing well! 

Here are some bigger things that happened while the blog was dormant.

  • I started reading and watching videos about skincare and have been really interested in it for the last three months.  My 49-year old face looks more glowing and wrinkle-free than before! 

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  • We watched Game of Thrones’ final season, Season 8.  Sigh.  We loved that show.
  • We discovered a couple of new-to-us Chinese restaurants:  Szechuan Chef and Shan Xi Magic Kitchen.
  • We turned in the Kia Soul electric car (lease was up), and we purchased a used 2017 BMW i3 electric car for Todd.

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  • Todd played an entire season of intramural softball at Illumina.  They lost in the first round of playoffs.  I went to 4-5 games.

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  • Todd went to Trailhead DX in San Francisco.
  • We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary!

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  • We took a week off in July and staycationed here in SoCal.  We went on a bay cruise.  Spent a day up in San Clemente.  Went to Coronado.  Learned to make Chinese dumplings at home.  Had breakfast out.  Went wine tasting.  We did most of the activities with a Groupon and it cost less than 50% of the regular price!  Woo!

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  • We went to Nashville, TN for Con of Thrones!

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  • I went to jury duty.
  • I drove to the US-Mexico border for my Global Entry interview.  I’m now a Global Entry cardholder, so I can go through the expedited customs line when I return from a foreign country.  And Global Entry includes TSA Precheck, which I enjoyed immensely when we flew to Ohio.  Two minutes through security!
  • We flew to Ohio to spend a few days with Todd’s family.  Todd’s sister Amy had her second baby while we were there!  AND Todd attended his 30th high school reunion!  The funniest thing was when a guy he knew in high school said in front of everyone, “Now what guy our age still has a full head of hair like that??!”  Apparent Todd does.

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  • My sister Joyce and I put together a 75th birthday party for our dad in LA.  She and my nephew Andrew flew into LA and we drove up.  We had a Chinese banquet at Newport Seafood and invited several of my dad’s friends.  We had two big tables of people to celebrate my dad.  It was grand.


So now we’re caught up!

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