April 2013 Goals

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I absolutely love April. It means gorgeous weather is ahead. That means I can start having lunch by the pond again and not have to worry about freezing my butt off as I walk to work.

A recap on March’s projects and goals:

My focus in March was on my budget. I have to say I was a bit optimistic with my savings goals, but I didn’t do so bad overall. I’m really happy with how things turned out.

  • I’ve used Smartypig as my main savings account for a while now. If you haven’t checked it out yet, I highly recommend it. It automatically takes money out of my paycheck and deposits it into various savings goals I have. It’s got a fantastic interest rate as well. You can redeem your savings goals as gift cards and they will actually give you a bonus percentage for certain retailers or you can have it put back in your regular bank.The downside is that it does take a little bit of time to get your money. In some ways this is great, because I really do have to evaluate my purchases, but should an emergency come up, I’d likely need to put the expense on my credit card temporarily and pay for it once the money gets back to my checking account a week later.
  • At the beginning of March, I was planning to save around $315 from every pay check just to save it, around $60 dollars for things on my wishlist, and another $25 for my Christmas fund. I managed to keep to my wishlist and Christmas goals, but I did have to reduce the amount of money I was setting aside to around $200. I give nearly half of my income to my mom every month so that she can pay bills, so usually one paycheck a month just goes straight to her so I had to rethink my spending habits and decided it makes more sense to save less right now than putting things all on my credit card because I was saving too much.
  • March means time to submit taxes and I managed to get mine submitted. I even used a promo code and saved on filing them. I used my refund to pay back the majority of my one remaining balance on my credit cards, and now I’m using a total of 11% of my credit which feels fantastic. I’m really trying to cut back on my use of my credit cards so that I can be able to pay them off completely at the end of the month, so I took my credit cards out of my main wallet and out of my password manager. No easy access to auto-fill the info means I have to think before I buy.
  • Reading – I’m working on reading both Blogging for Dummies and Blog. – Since graduating from college, reading has become an unexpected hobby of mine, so much so I actually went and purchased a Kindle Paperwhite on March 22. I not only read the two books I planned to read, but I read a total of 4 others. The number would have probably been higher but I lent my Kindle to my mom to read a book I had checked out. In any event, 6 books in one month is just beyond ridiculous for me, and seeing that, I upped my reading challenge from 20 books to 30 for the year.
  • Making progress on my room renovations – This is such a big project, and I’m so overwhelmed with it. I managed to get almost through patching with a few spots I need to go over once more. The next step is to start painting which I’m really dreading, BUT before pictures have been taken so I can start letting you all see the progress which is exciting.
  • Completing FMS’s March Photo Challenge. – I really need to find a fun and exciting photo challenge because these FMS photo challenges are just not working for me. I managed to get 16 photos done, but I played catch up for most of the month snapping pictures in bursts rather than daily.

At the beginning of the year, I typed up a document with what I would focus on each month, but stupidly I saved it as “Untitled” in a rush and deleted it. I didn’t realize it until it was removed off my backup drive, so now I’m making this up as I go along, and I’m declaring April’s focus:

Work

Nice weather means I’m going to wish I could still lounge around outside after class or take the dogs out to the local Starbucks for an adventure, so it’s a bit depressing knowing that I’m a grown up now and I can’t because I have to sit behind a desk. Focusing on work will make sure I have a few things to stay focused on:

  • Compiling a list of Skillsoft Courses – My job provides me with courses for various things from computer certifications to stress relief, and I have been meaning to compile a list of them that I think I’d be interested in or would be of use to myself or the students in the office. They may not be able to take the courses, but I can certainly pass on some knowledge to them.
  • The semester ends in May, and I’d like to provide our student employees with performance evaluations and maybe raises before they leave, so I need to figure out the budget which I’ve never had to do, iron out the processes I want to use, and schedule to meet with all of them before they get all stressed out with Finals.
  • Lastly, our department is trying to focus on an online support knowledge base of sorts to help continue to provide answers to our customers while also being able to focus on improving things for the future. Tidying up this space has been on my radar for a while, and I hope that with the help of my colleagues we can get some Spring cleaning done.

Other April projects include:

  • Evaluating my current wardrobe to see what I need to add or replace for warmer weather. I know for a fact I need to replace the basic tanks I wear under some of my more transparent shirts, but I also want to get some new things in bright spring colors. I’m quite tired of my go to winter look of skinny pants, boots, a shirt and sweater over top.
  • I’d like to tackle painting at least my ceiling in my bedroom. Once that’s done, the painting will go quickly because I can do smaller bits at a time.
  • I’m also going to work on managing my time better. That means sticking to my usual routine to get things done, workouts, blog posts, and school work included.
  • I’m also working on something I’ve sort of informally dubbed “Project Andrea.” It’s my fairly extensive plan to revamp my life, and I’m pretty excited to start. I’ll post more about what my goals for this project are in a later post.
  • Also, this month’s photo challenge is Filofax themed so I’m excited. I’ve been revamping my Filofax here and there so I’m excited to share the little updates I’m making.

I’m really thrilled that it’s April. I’m already excited, and we’re only 6 days in!

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March 2013 Goals

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Can you believe it’s March already?! I know I can’t. February flew by. So how did I do on my goals and what are my goals for March? Keep reading to find out.

A recap on February’s projects and goals:

  • I want to finish reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking – Finished. Great book. I highly recommend it to anyone feeling bit lost in an extroverted world. If you don’t feel like reading the book, Susan Cain sums up the book quite well in her Ted Talk.
  • Another goal is to finish patching the walls in my bedroom and bathroom – I didn’t do so well on this one. Most of the holes are patched in my bedroom, but I still have sanding to do. I also have to take a few things (light fixtures, shelves, etc.) and patch those holes.
  • I’m participating in FMS’s February photo challenge as part of my resolution to take more picture -This was a total bust, but you can see my February recap here.
  • I’m going to work on remembering how grateful I am to have such an incredible boyfriend. – This was also a total bust given that we broke up 4 days into the month. In the past month, I’ve learned a lot though. Mainly that our relationship was not at all as strong as I thought it was.
  • I’m going to work on hopefully repairing some friendships that I royally messed up. – I tried, I really did, but some people are unwilling to forgive people. I went out and bought cute little gifts and included apology letters, but when I went to deliver them, the response was a wonderful, “You really thought that was a good idea?”
  • and I have some cute little projects for Valentine’s Day that I’d like to complete. – Another bust, Valentine’s day just wasn’t my day this year.

So 1/6… Ouch. Let’s hope March is better.

Now for March’s goals and projects.

My focus this month will be paying attention to my budgetI’m blessed to not have any sort of college debt thanks to my mother working for the University I attended for my undergraduate degree. Now that I work there, they’re paying for my graduate degree as well.  I have a well-paying job with awesome perks (like the brand new MacBook Pro they gave me to replace my old dying one.) It’s really allowed me to do some great things like help out my mother financially. However, I’m not immune to unnecessary purchases, and I always feel like I could do better even if I’m not doing badly.

  • I already save $315 dollars from every pay check. I also have around $60 dollars that I put aside every paycheck for a few things on my wish list.
  • New this month is that I’m also setting aside $25 dollars from every paycheck so that I have Christmas money. I worked it out and it should add up to about $500 dollars by November plus interest. {Thank you Smartypig. You have been amazing in terms of helping me save.}
  • I have a few credit cards for various stores that I pay off immediately after buying something. I also have a main card that usually carries a balance, so this month is dedicated to paying that off and keeping it paid off like the other cards.
  • I’m actively trying to ask myself, “Is this something I really need?” Sometimes it works. Other times, like when I decide to get a few items from Sephora that turns into “Well let’s try this just once, and maybe this too,” and before I know it I have a $160 dollar order. I’ve been tracking my spending more closely with Mint so hopefully I’m on to the right track with that.

Other projects for March

  • Reading – I’m working on reading both Blogging for Dummies and Blog Inc.
  • Making progress on my room renovations – I really need to get the painting tackled in my room. March 9th is a Bring your Friends and Family event at IKEA so hopefully I can pick up a few things to get the ball rolling and get my inspiration sparked again.
  • Completing FMS’s March Photo Challenge.

What are your plans for March? Did you set goals for February? Hopefully you did better than my 1 for 6 tally. Here’s to a great month!

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Living a Healthier Lifestyle

One of my overall resolutions is to live a healthier lifestyle. I’ve been one of those lucky ones who have been blessed with a good metabolism, so I’ve never really had to worry about what I eat or exercising for that matter. I’ve also never been the active type, but more of the “sit in front of a computer all day, and watch TV all night” type. But somehow, over the years, I’ve shrunk rather than getting larger. {As shocking as this sounds} most of my clothes from elementary school that I still have {but would never wear} still fit. My clothes from my high school years are actually a few sizes too big now. While I’m thankful for that, I have begun to realize it will likely not last forever, and now that I’m working full time and spend 40 hours or more sitting at a desk in front of a massive 27″ computer screen, I figured now is probably a good time to start making some changes.

The first change I made was cutting the majority of the caffeine out of my life.

Backstory: When I was in high school, I only drank soda. Soda for breakfast, soda for lunch, soda before bed. I would actually have panic attacks if I didn’t have soda. That’s when I realized it was really bad and decided to give up soda. For 2 years, I drank flavored water and teas {and an occasional Sprite}. In college, I developed an unhealthy obsession with Monster energy drinks and was actually buying them by the case. If I wasn’t drinking Monster, it was Mountain Dew. I decided that probably wasn’t great, so I, again, went back to teas and water. Fast forward to the past year or so, I kept up with mainly drinking tea and water, and then my mother bought a Keurig. She was the only coffee drinker in the house so it made sense to her, but the Keurig made it easy to quickly make a cup of coffee and soon everyone in the house was drinking coffee. I would bring a 20oz. travel mug to work each day and on the weekends I’d have at least 2 cups a day.

The first day back to work this year after the holidays, I was dragging my feet as I got ready {because who really wants to go back to work}. I ended up rushing out the door because I like to be early to work, never late, so I quickly threw my lunch together and decided to skip the coffee. More than a month later, and I haven’t had coffee at work. I do have a cup on the weekends, and I occasionally splurge for Starbucks, but overall, the coffee habit is gone. Some afternoons {when it’s really slow at work or I have somewhere to be later that night} I pick up an energy drink from the vending machine, but gone are the days of multiple sodas, energy drinks, and cups of coffee. They’ve been replaced with bottles of water. I’m trying to track my water consumption, and have been using an app on my iPhone called Habits Pro. I got it for free during a sale, but it looks like the developer created a new version that’s free called Track & Share. It’s not the prettiest app, but it’s the best app I found so far.

That leads me to another change, being more active.

Fitbit Flex

My job requires me to sit in front of a computer all day, and although I love the wonderful Apple products my work has provided me with, I’m quickly realizing it’s damaging effects. Sitting in front of a 27″ display has really messed up my eyes. The good thing about all the water I’m drinking now is I’m forced to take more frequent breaks from the computer to walk to the other side of the building where the bathrooms are – good for my eyes, good for my body, and I’m staying hydrated. It’s still a work in progress though and sometimes I do forget to get up and move around. I’m currently saving for FitBit’s new Flex activity tracker which is supposed to be released in the Spring. Until then, I’m using an app on my phone called Moves to track my steps. {I forget to bring my phone with me a lot though so this isn’t too accurate.} I’m hoping that the Flex, given that it’s always on me, will solve that problem.

My third change – exercise.

Beach Babe DVD by Tone it Up

If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you may have picked up on my latest obsession with workouts from Tone It Up. I know I’m not going to be tiny forever, so I might as well get in the habit of working out. Not too mention, I’d really love to not be out of breath after climbing one flight of stairs or my 10 minute walk from the parking lot to my office. Being able to fit in a size 0 doesn’t mean you’re healthy. Each week, I get an email from Tone It Up with a workout schedule. I plug the workouts into my Filofax and I generally try to stick to them, but sometimes I do change them up. Yesterday for example, I added the Bikini Sculpt workout from the DVD because I wanted more of a challenge. The hardest part of working out for me is getting the motivation to do it. I love the energy I get from working out. I love the results. I love that I can walk to my office without huffing and puffing like the big bad wolf trying to blow down the three little pigs’ houses, but when I get off of work, after 8 hours in front of a computer, I’m ready to be in sweat pants, eating dinner, and watching a movie. So today was day one of my decision to try waking up earlier to work out before work. Needless to say, I woke up early, only to reset my alarm back to it’s normal time and climb back in bed. Tomorrow we’ll try again I guess.

My last change comes out of necessity of the third change – eat healthier.

I’ve never been one to eat much. I don’t pig out on sweets and snacks {typically}, and I’d rather have an apple over a candy bar {or broccoli over french fries} any day. I love food, don’t get me wrong, I do pig out, and I do eat but I hate preparing it, or going to get it for that matter, so it’s easy for me to not eat much. A typical week day for me would probably consist of a granola bar for breakfast; a sandwich on whole wheat bread, apple sauce or cottage cheese, and some snacky item (gummy snacks, chips, wheat thins) for lunch; and dinner is either whatever my mother decides to cook, or some crappy microwaved burrito type thing. That lifestyle probably worked while I was lying around the house all day, but now I’m actually being more active. I’m not working out to lose weight, but to be healthier in general so I’ve had to pay better attention to what I’m eating, and how much so that I’m not dropping weight. I don’t know that I’ll ever be one to count calories or keep a food journal, but for now I’m just trying to eat better foods and a bit more of them.

Do you have any resolutions to be healthier {I assume most people do}? How’s it going for you? Feel free to ask any questions or share tips. I’d love to hear them.

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February Goals

February 2013 Goals

I wanted to take the time to make a quick post on my goals and projects for February. {Quick confession: I’ve never actually sat down and written out goals until this year, so this is a bit new for me. So far it’s working out well.} I will probably do a more detailed post of my overall “resolutions” at a later point. This is just what I plan to accomplish in February and what I’m going to focus on.

In terms of random projects I’m working on:

  • I want to finish reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking – So far I’m really enjoying this book. As an introvert, I can relate to at times feeling out of place in environments where extroversion is seen as the ideal. It has been extremely relevant and helpful considering one of my current responsibilities has become leading training seminars on a recent online service my university is providing to students, faculty, and staff.
  • Another goal is to finish patching the walls in my bedroom and bathroom – I’m going to post a bit more about my bedroom/bathroom remodel in a later post. I’ve been planning this project for a while now, but I’ve been dragging my feet on it. I’m a bit tired of the bubble gum pink and lime green walls from my high school years and am looking forward to a new look.
  • I’m participating in FMS’s February photo challenge as part of my resolution to take more picture – I’d really love to complete it on time (without catching up as much as I did with the Filofax challenge, but I’ve already gotten off to a bad start, mainly because I didn’t realize the one I was doing was from LAST YEAR! {Major fail on my part.} I’ll be posting the pictures to both Instagram and Flickr.

Along with my overall resolutions and goals for the year, I also decided to come up with a focus for each month. Last month, I focused on just writing out my goals and resolutions because it was such a busy month getting ready for the new semester to start. This month, I’m focusing on relationships, so I’m going to be doing a few things with that:

  • I’m going to work on remembering how grateful I am to have such an incredible boyfriend. – That means appreciating him more, and learning to let little things go. I have to keep reminding myself that the little things he does that may frustrate me in the moment are usually the things I look back on and think of how glad I am that he keeps me on my toes and doing things I would normally be too scared to do.
  • I’m going to work on hopefully repairing some friendships that I royally messed up. – This is going to involve some incredibly crafted gift bags, and some explanations I should have given people a long time ago.
  • and I have some cute little projects for Valentine’s Day that I’d like to complete. – I gave my one idea away already so now I have to come up with something else. I’m looking to be a bit more creative and crafty though so this is a good way to do it.

Well that’s it for my goals this month. Back to reading for my class.

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