That may seem like a bizarre concept, but when we get to the root of our troubles, we may think we are doing everything to fix the situation when in reality we are just stalling the situation. If we don’t set out a plan that has intentional behaviors, we are doomed to fail. Case in point: “I want to lose weight.” Ok, great. That sounds like an awesome goal, but what are you going to DO to lose weight. “Well, I am going to eat better.” Ok, awesome. What the hell does that mean? That is not being intentional. That is letting life live you when you should be the one in control. A more intentional approach would be to say that you are going to invest in a meal planning service like Emeals and grocery shop every Saturday and then do all meal prep on Sunday. You are now in control so that when 3 pm on Wednesday rolls around and you are starved you know that your dinner has already been planned and you won’t cave into eating out that night wasting both money and precious calories. Intentional living isn’t just saying what you want. It is dreaming, planning, and then doing.
I mentioned that I would do something with intent each day this year, and so far I have not failed. I said that I would do at least one thing every day to support my goals. Now I am going to dive in more to become intent on meeting those goals this year. And with that, I am going to share with you the 5 things I am going to give up right away to make my ultimate dream of working for myself from anywhere in the world a reality.
I shutter at the thought of this. I love Starbucks. I live for Starbucks. I didn’t give two shits that the cup wasn’t decorated with snowmen or snowballs or anything Christmas related. All I cared about was the crack cocaine they put in there to get my daily fix. I don’t bat an eye when the beautiful people at my local SB say “that’ll be $5 (and some change)” To me, it is worth every cent…well, it was to the old me. To the new, intentional focused me, it is one of the barriers between me and my life goals, and it has to go. In your mind, you may be thinking a $5 cup of coffee (or insert any other small habit like smoking, fast food, lottery tickets) is no big deal, but let me put it into perspective for you. Let’s say you spend $5 a pop just three times per week. That is a total of $780 a year. That is a hotel stay for a week at Disney if you know how to do it right or even a week-long cruise. That is a lot of money for something that I do not need to survive.
Keep K-Cups and hot tea bags on hand for my midafternoon fix and take my Starbuck’s Verismo machine to work for days when I want a latte. Savings: $619.20 per year and that assumes one K-Cup per day for every working day of the month.
2. Impromptu Eating Out
It is silly to think that we will Never Ever go out to eat. We love food, and we love experiencing new food at cool restaurants. We love having a server take care of us and a chef prepares for us. We are those people that see food as an experience not just fuel for our bodies. The issue that we have is the impromptu eating out. The “ugh we have nothing set out for dinner and I have zero desire to try to think of something so let’s order pizza or Chinese or better yet let’s go spend $75 or more at Buffalo Wild Wings.” Every time this happens, I feel like a big suckfest after. Not only did we just blow money that we didn’t need to, but I put a bunch of garbage in my body that will no doubt wake me up a 3 a.m. for a violent pukefest. WHY DO I DO THIS TO MYSELF?? It has to stop. We spend on average $800 a month on going out to eat. CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT!?!?!?! Insane. I know of bloggers who feed their families of four on less than that for a whole month’s worth of meals. (breakfast, lunch, and dinner!)
We have established a year’s worth of meals by signing up for Emeals. This should avoid any issue with meal plans so we will always have a plan for dinner. This doesn’t solve the problem with impromptu eating out entirely so we are also going to keep a stock of things on hand like pepperoni, Italian sausage, English muffins, rice, frozen peas and carrots, etc in order to whip up a quick, homemade version of some of our favorite out-t0-eat meals like pizza and fried rice when we are feeling less than prepared for dinner or less than eager to cook or eat what we have planned. Savings: leaning toward the safe side I can say this will save us $7000 per year or more. Holy cow!! Writing that number out just sent shivers through my body. How have we been ok with this for so long!? Well, I can’t change the past, but I most certainly can learn from it. Moving forward this will stop!
3. Deals of the Day!
If you are an American person, you have no doubt went to a retailer to buy something and they so innocently asked you if you would like to give your email for specials coupons and savings and you of course agreed. Next thing you know, you have 500 emails a day coming out of your ass with the BEST DEAL EVVVAAHHHHH! I mean, seriously, every day Bath and Body sends me the “deal of a lifetime,” and they are so good at making it feel so urgent that you get this deal or you will be the only loser in the world who missed out on such an epic deal. Spending money on things is psychological for me. I love the thrill of a good deal, but like my hubby always says “just because a Cadillac is on sale doesn’t mean you go buy one.” I used to think this was the dumbest apples to oranges argument ever. My $30 candle purchase isn’t the same as buying a $40,000 car, but in a way it is. There are probably months where my impromptu spending to get such an awesome deal would total the payment on a Cadillac. The point is just because something is on sale doesn’t mean you NEED it. In fact, you likely don’t need it as a need is something you must have to avoid death or injury or something to maintain your well-being. While my candle obsession soothes my soul, I can’t really say it is keeping me from death or harm. In fact, in the grand scheme of things, it is actually harming me…my future. I that daydreams of working remotely from anywhere in the world.
It’s hard to say that there is really a fix other than self-restraint, but there is a way I can help myself avoid temptation. I can either spend hours upon hours unsubscribing to emails or I can simply start a new email account. This will be the account that is for me and important things and absolutely no retailers whatsoever. I have read about people who didn’t buy anything they didn’t need for an entire year. I don’t know that I am honestly at that level yet, but maybe in 2021? What I am ready for is to really assess any purchase and prior to pulling out the plastic, talking about every purchase with the hubs. This is going to be hard. I love to buy things, and while my purchases are never secret, I will say I probably buy more than he realizes. (Sorry babe!) So this accountability measure should help us keep things in check.
4. My Social Life
This is the one I am dreading the most. It seems that we always have something going on that involves a night out paying for food and drink. We have a lot of super talented friends who have us taking in the live theatre quite often, which again includes dinner and drinks before and again after the show. Add that to the birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays and our social life is quite active and I love it! But it is too active. We have to start saying “no” more often or opting to invite people over to hang out versus going out on the town, and since not everyone is on the same journey I can’t expect people to embrace our new fondness for bottled beer versus draught. I have to remind myself that this is temporary and hope that our beautiful and talented friends understand that we are on a path to better our situation. The hubs and I have talked at length about how we do not want to retire to a life that is anything less than full of adventure and that we in fact don’t want to wait until retirement for adventure to begin. “Adventure is out there!” – Russell from UP. And we are ready for it!
Since we can only control what we do, we have to get creative to somewhat keep up with our friends. We will have a monthly budget. I can’t say exactly what that budget will be since the hubs and I have yet to discuss it, but I am thinking somewhere around $300-400 a month. This will be our entire entertainment budget for the month, and if something big is coming up, we will have to save our dollars for a few months to be able to go. It is really going to depend on our income, (which mine fluctuates) and what I think we can realistically spare while not deviating from our main plan. I am not going to extremes here.
I am much too free-spirited to restrict ourselves to absolutely nothing. Maybe I will get that zealous about it at some point, but for the time being, I am just trying to strike a healthy balance…well a balance that leans a lot more toward sacrifice to better our situation than living life to the fullest now, but one that still allows for a little fun. Also, we will be discussing every outing before giving someone the ok that we are in it to win it. I often sign us up for things and the hubs just go with the flow. I think involving him prior to approval will really help us evaluate what we truly want to spend our money on. I will also get creative by keeping an eye out for promo nights that the theatres may offer and we will not make it a whole dinner and a show situation. He is an amazing cook. There is no reason to go pay for a mediocre meal somewhere when we can have an awesome meal for a quarter of the price. Savings: I really don’t know how to assess this one other than trying to piece together every charge on my card from last year. On average, these outings run upwards of $80 and usually surpass $100. If I averaged it out, these probably happen twice per month so potential savings of $1200 or more per year.
This one is really more of a theme or subcategory of some of the things mentioned above, but I think it is important to discuss here. I am a working mother. One who works a lot more than 40 hours per week. This isn’t necessarily required of me at my job, but in my line of work, it just seems there are never enough hours in the day so I find myself working more than the typical 40. I skip my lunch breaks and sneak out for 15 minutes to grab a snack and a coffee just to get right back to my desk. I come home and the kiddos need my full attention and the house is chaotic with getting dinner ready and cleaning up the house and bath time and story time and so on and so forth. It feels very stressful most nights from 6 pm to 9 pm, and so once the kiddos are in bed, I too am ready for bed. This leads to sending our daughter to school with lunch money rather than a nutritious packed lunch. It leads to mommy not eating breakfast or taking a lunch, which leads to unnecessary spending later in the day, which isn’t good for our pocketbook or my waistline. Laziness leads to random grocery trips just buying whatever whether it is on sale or not, which leads to overspending on groceries. Laziness leads to eating out. Laziness leads to a house full of clutter because “I am going to sell this on eBay!” and that never happens so I have boxes of crap just taking up space. Laziness is the reason I don’t make our own laundry detergent, cleaning products, and beauty products. I tell myself I have the right to be lazy with these things because I work all day, but it is costing me money in the future and it is costing me the future I dream of.
I can’t really tackle all of these issues in one day, but I can start somewhere and be patient with progress. I will start with the kid’s lunch. They have been begging for homemade lunches, and so this will kill two birds with one stone. She will be happy. It also means I know they will not be eating garbage at school. Thumbs up all around!
I know you may have been expecting this article to be about things we are cutting that are obvious, and you may be wondering why I am not cutting cable or internet or my fancy cell phone, and there is a reason for that. We actually can’t get the internet where we live, which don’t even get me started about. It is 20-freaking21 and we can’t get the internet!!!!???? We don’t live in the hinterlands so why that is the case is beyond me, but anyway…that’s not what this post is about. In reality, we don’t have many things like that we can cut, because we are already doing without. Our cellphones are our only source of internet, which I need to have on my phone for work. So anyway, the things that most people give up, we don’t have the luxury of giving up because we already gave them up years ago. (cable, internet, gym memberships, and other monthly subscriptions, etc) So I had to look at where our money was going, and it is all going on frivolous spending that comes from a lack of planning. Our life was ruling us and our money, but not this year and not ever again. We bring home the bacon, and it is up to us to make sure that we are the only ones cooking it.
In closing, the main thing to take from this post is that you must be proactive to get the things you want out of life. It was so easy to wake up on Jan 1 of this year and reflect on all I didn’t do last year to better our situation and react. It won’t be as easy to proactively seek solutions, but I am starting. As a little pat on my back, this morning I was unprepared for the day from a food standpoint. Last year, I would have thought “oh screw it, I will pick something up. I can get a good deal at the local sandwich shop today since it’s Monday.” But I didn’t do that today. I grabbed the leftover potatoes from dinner on Saturday and avocado, and that was my lunch. It was satisfying and quick and didn’t cost me any more than we already paid for the potatoes and avocado. Little changes add up my friends.
What little changes can you make today to make a big difference in your tomorrow?