Friday, December 13, 2013

Crying on the Job

Whew, catching up after a 4 day weekend in Utah visiting one of my bests is exhausting! First world problems, am I right? A recap post is hopefully to come. Such a fun trip but I'm thankful to be home. Hibernating and not traveling until May actually sounds appealing for the first time in my life!

Anyway, while I was in Utah, of course we chatted about work. We're both in similar situations where the workload increases even when the hours in the day stay the same. When the math doesn't add up, we're simply told "make it work" rather than getting any help to find a solution. The frustration has led us both to tears on occasion. Although it was comforting to hear that I'm not the only one that has cried during work, it's appalling that corporate life can lead to that kind of stress. I chalked it up to being dramatic and emotional and irrational sometimes (yup, I fully admit it!) but when I realized that others are in my situation, it just makes me sad.

Within 3 hours back to work after my trip, I was in tears again (I swear, it happened once in the spring and then once on Tuesday - it's not daily!) over complaints in my departments that fall on me despite my efforts to prevent these issues for the past year. After chatting with a coworker, she admitted she cries practically every other day because of work! WHAT? This cannot be normal!

Thankfully, one of my best friends made an excellent point that put things into perspective and changed my attitude. He explained that no matter what the job is, janitor, bus driver, or CEO of a huge company, it's going to be difficult and you're going to have to work really hard or you'll lose your job. You can have the hardest job that doesn't pay much but without it, you're still out of a job. To keep that resource, you have to make the most of it and work your way up. The experience and tears I put in now will lead me to a career with a few less tears if I try. If I keep a bad attitude and think I'm above a job that causes tears, then I'm going to be stuck here.

I think of those who drive a bus or work in fast food who are happy as clam and show up to work happy to help their customers. They entertain and make you feel valued. It can't always be easy to earn low wages and work hard but people do it and I admire them. I am not always in control of the conditions at work but I am in control of the attitude that I bring each day. That's what makes a world of difference and might just reduce my stress and tears. 

I am also thankful to have side jobs that do not cause any tears, like babysitting and writing resumes & cover letters. It balances out the tougher days in the corporate world and helps me bridge the gap between my salary and financial goals until I can work my way up.

I am lucky to have the job I have, it beats a lot of jobs, even on the days with tears. Since my attitude check, I've even been more focused, dedicated, and even content to work overtime to ensure my job is done well. The industry itself might not be my dream job but being proud of what I bring to the table encourages me to do the best I can.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

I'm a masochist

Lately I've been feeling overwhelmed by my financial situation. Understandably, considering I have $60,000 in student loans and an entry level  job. Even though I've tacked on 3 side hustles and work as much as I can, I feel like I'm barely making a dent or simply spinning my wheels.

As I think about it, I sometimes like to tell myself to be patient and not to beat myself up if it feels slow. I look for any opportunity to do extra work and I've exceeded all my recent savings goals. But then sometimes I realize I'm a masochist.

I don't just mean how I woke up one morning this week and realized I scratched my nose in my sleep to the point of having an obvious scab.

I mean no matter how much I want to meet these goals, I sabotage myself and delay progress. I realized I could already be at my savings goal if I didn't deplete my savings a few months ago to reduce my credit card balance. And even after making that sacrifice, my credit card balance climbed it's way right back up.

I try to be frugal for the most part but then I splurge on things I don't need and poof, my frugal efforts are worthless. It has become a vicious cycle and I'm sick of it. I need to stop sabotaging myself. I work way too much to have so little to show for it.

This is my come to Jesus pep talk as I buckle down to wrap up the year. I want to hit $4,000 in savings and pay off some serious debt in 2014. That's not going to happen if I keep my bad financial habits.

There's a weight loss quote that says, "nothing tastes as good as healthy feels." Well that's true for debt too. Nothing I splurge on is worth staying in debt for. I won't become an extremist but I need to buckle down and make my hard work literally pay off.

Here's to changes and kicking of 2014 with a bang!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

November Progress and December Goals

November was a great month, even with my shopping spree madness early on in the month. I was able to get myself back on track and I eventually exceeded my goal of saving $515.47 to reach the $3,000 mark.

My grand total was $595.93 after I set aside $150 for my travel/wedding fund. I like to have a graphic that shows my progress but my goals have changed a bit so graphics wouldn't make much sense.

Originally, I wanted to save $9,000 to include enough money for a down payment on a house (FHSA Loan), a older used car for whenever my car dies or if an accident were to happen, and $1,500 left over for an emergency fund. However, after a lot of consideration, I'm putting my house dreams on hold for now to focus on my student loans.

I have 2 loans that are currently interest only until March 2015. When that rolls around, the monthly minimum is going to be out of my reach. Home-ownership can be a great investment but there are too many risks to face with my debt as high as it is. Also, I'm very comfortable in my apartment and I'm not sure I am ready to give up the heated garage in the Minnesota winters.

So where does that leave me for December? I want to get my savings up to an even $4,000 to cover a car and an emergency fund. That way I can go bat shit crazy on my loans in 2014. But that means I would have to earn $919.54 in addition to my monthly $150 travel/wedding fund. Especially around the holidays, this isn't easy to do and I have no idea if I can pull it off.

As I look at the work I have booked already for December, it's surprising how close I could be. I certainly hope that's the case because I've been pulling 12 hour days this week, including Sunday. But as my elementary school library displayed, "If you can dream it, you can achieve it."

Monday, November 25, 2013

This Weekend I...

I swear, I have made the most of my weekends lately and it feels wonderful! Squeezing in a perfect mix of busy and couch time is my favorite way to spend my time.

Let's get to it!

...babysat Friday night for some adorable kiddos. After homemade pizza and a viewing of Monsters University, the kids went to bed and I got paid to chill out with a good book.
Seriously, I don't ever want to be too old to babysit...well I suppose one day I'll be a mom...maybe 10 years from now.

...had a morning date with my dad! We enjoyed breakfast from Perkins and went on an adventure to fix my headlight that was falling off. I am so thankful for time with him after such a tough year with his health.

...unsuccessfully cheered on the Gophers and the Vikings in a boarder battle weekend. Gophers lost big time to the Badgers and the Vikings TIED the Packers in overtime. It was painful and I might have cried. I don't want to talk about it.

...attended a Sister Calypso concert with one of my New York girlfriends who was in town! It was great to see her and meet some of her friends. The band was pretty funky but it's always fun to try something different!

...celebrated at one of my best friend's engagement party! They have been dating for 9 years and on their anniversary last week, they got engaged! One of their friends made them an adorable cupcake cake - I didn't even realize that was possible! to crochet and got my mom's blanket fixed! Random story - I will be cat sitting for a family over the holidays and during our initial meeting, the wife saw I had a crocheted blanket on my couch that was a bit frayed in one corner. She offered to fix it for me and to get me back in the swing of crocheting. My mom made the blanket for my dad as a wedding present and I got to take it with me to my new apartment. I stopped by her house Sunday night and not only did she fix the blanket easily but she taught me a few new stitches. Time to make some cozy infinity scarves!

...relaxed! A few times throughout the weekend I curled up with said blanket, my nook and coffee or wine depending on the time of day. I put Pandora and Spotify to good use and it felt wonderful to just relax. Juggling 4 jobs and a volunteer position in addition to being social keeps me very busy, so I love every second of this down time to myself.

Friday, November 22, 2013

I have a new crush

I don't plan on dating for a while still but I have been seriously crushing this week after the Joshua Radin & Matt Nathanson concert. On Sunday my friend and I were treated to some serious musical treats.
Pretend I look less confused about the flash.

Now, Joshua Radin isn't really mainstream but if you listen to Pandora...hmmm...what did Matt Nathanson describe his music as....whimpy rock? Well it's chill music, similar to Amos Lee and any of those Pandora stations will occasionally play Joshua Radin. I quickly loved every song I heard and a lot of them have been played on repeat at least a time or two.

Anyway, his music can be pretty sappy and I kind of expected him to be introverted and serious for his show but man, he was adorable! Not only does he have a great smile but he was fun and every explanation behind his songs matched exactly my interpretation. I'm pretty sure we could be BFFs with the way I was relating to the music - but ya know, that can tend to sound creepy. Whatever, I'm owning it. He claims to love Minneapolis and I'm pretty sure he should move here so we can be lovers. Or just keep playing great music. I almost had a chance to meet & greet with him but the line ended right before I got there.

Even if it was Joshua Radin concert, it would have been a great night. But then Matt Nathanson came on and he was incredible. He's probably the most sexual person I've ever seen, swirling his hips and letting us know how each song is about sex in some way or another. But he's a hoot and even though we were standing in a crowd where someone kept farting, it was wonderful!
And of course he took his nightly selfie and I was able to capture it.
As much as I loved so many of the songs the two played all night, the best part of the show was the very last song. Mr. Nathanson ended the show with an acoustic version of my favorite song of his - "Little Victories." My dying phone battery was able to catch the entire thing on video but sadly it is too large to upload. It is seriously my favorite thing on my phone these days.

I didn't do a weekend recap this week but this would have been the highlight of an already great weekend! Thankfully, Josh is coming back for a headlining tour next fall and you know I'll be there!

For Back That Azz Up Friday, I'm throwing out a few of my favorites from the concert. Happy Friday!

You Got Growin' Up to Do (feat. Patty Griffin) by Joshua Radin on Grooveshark My My Love by Joshua Radin on Grooveshark Little Victories by Matt Nathanson on Grooveshark

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

$35 Grocery List - Week 4

I mixed things up a bit this week and it was a huge success! My MN Blogger friend, Lauren, invited me to a Wildtree Freezer Meal Workshop, where you buy ingredients for 10 meals upfront, get together to prep the meals, then place the prep in a freezer bag ready to be thawed, cooked, and eaten whenever you need a quick and easy meal. The best part is these meals are healthy!

So this week I spent more upfront but I have a stocked freezer with awesome meals and it helps me stay well under $35/week going forward.
Freezer Meal produce I brought to the workshop

Additional groceries for the week

I didn't even have to double by weekly budget to come away with so much more food!

Between the cost of the workshop and the higher grocery bill, it felt like a huge cost up front. As my grocery bill reduces over the next few weeks with my freezer meals already purchased, the cost quickly evens out to be very affordable to eat healthy.

These are the spices and cooking oils from the workshop. Plenty of leftover for future meals!

I'm not normally one to get excited about organic or all-natural products, even though it's obviously a good thing. But while at the workshop I learned that a lot of the spices and seasoning packets at the grocery store contain ingredients also found in those shoe preservative packets - ya know, the kind that say "throw away. do not eat."
Stay away from my taco seasoning!
I quickly got on board with seasoning my meals with healthier options. It's not always easy to get healthier but this is a swap I can get behind! Same meals, same taste, but not apparently poisoning your body. Wildtree also uses grapeseed oil instead of olive oil for additional health benefits.

A sample of the final products!

Lemon Rosemary Pork Tenderloin ready for my crock pot!
I was so on board with the idea of Freezer Meal Workshops that I've decided to become a consultant with Wildtree and help others make these meals as well! I am not a fan of direct sales programs but this is really just getting people to eat healthier, more affordable meals at home, which I do all the time anyway. No obligations or pressure to buy products you don't want or need!

If you'd like more information or are interested in hosting a workshop, I'd love to help out! Comment, e-mail me or visit my website here.

Even if you don't live in Minnesota, I can take workshops with me when I travel or I can do virtual workshops via Skype. I'm doing an open house & workshop on December 3rd and there has already been a lot of positivity and excitement! Today is the last day to register for this workshop if you're in the area.

Not only am I excited for delicious and easy meals in my freezer but I'm excited for this fun new role! ...because I really needed a 4th job ;)

Friday, November 15, 2013

My Date with Amos

This summer I got a wild hair up my butt and made some big purchases even though I was aggressively paying down debt (noticing a nasty habit of mine??) I'm pretty sure my favorite purchase was a pair of lower-level tickets to the Amos Lee concert and I finally got to attend last week!

I came across Amos while living in South Carolina and he quickly became my absolute favorite. You might recognize his music from this commercial:

Apparently he isn't exactly mainstream though because I nearly had to beg someone to go with me to his concert! Amos who?? Thankfully my mom was up for a night out with some great music!

Well they missed out because his concert Wednesday night was seriously so much fun! We hit up Crave for happy hour before the show, which is always a good choice. The concert was at the State Theatre, which felt more like we were attending a play. Kinda funky but it worked!

Kat Edmonson opened for him and you can be sure I bought her CD the minute I got home! I hadn't heard of her before the concert but her voice is unique and jazzy with adorable lyrics. And she's a tiny little thing from Texas!

Not going to lie, the audience was a bit crazy for a Wednesday at a pretty chill concert. Maybe it was just the venue that didn't feel like a concert but people were hammered and actin a fool! They were so loud and rowdy even when the music was mellow, which made me feel bad for Kat as she warmed us up. There was a couple directly in front of me full on making out and I even had to move back when they started leaning back into me! I hate to be that girl but get a room people!! And while the whole crowd stayed seated most of the time, a few drunken attendees got up and shook their booty all by their lonesome. For a Wednesday it just felt like the weirdest crowd, which eventually just added to the fun!

Then my main man Amos took the stage and I was the happiest camper in all the land. I've seen him twice in concert before and this was by far his best performance. He was funny and played the best songs! He even shook his booty a little bit. Not only did he sing an awesome mix of his songs, including incredible remixed versions, he whipped out a few covers. The best was ending the show with Queen's Fat Bottom Girls - which my mom has never heard of!!

Sometimes you have to splurge and live life, even if it's a little more than you typically spend. It was worth every penny and I will never beat myself up over this purchase :)

I'm linking up with Whitney for Back That Azz Up Friday with some good ol' Amos.

Keep It Loose, Keep It Tight by Amos Lee on Grooveshark

Southern Girl by Amos Lee on Grooveshark

And one for Kat Edmonson since she's the newest bee's knees!

Lucky by Kat Edmonson on Grooveshark