Unplugging.

Well, I’ve finally done it. I’ve been obsessing over the idea for well over a year at this point, and I finally woman-ed up and just did it.

I cancelled Netflix.

I cancelled Amazon Prime.

I cancelled WiFi.

My connection to the last of these will be terminated on the 15th of the month, in T-minus seven days.

Starting on the 15th of the month, I will no longer be a Netflix-binger, online-window-shopper, or internet-user in general.

At least for the foreseeable future.

At least until January.

Rather, I’m hoping I can make it that long.

Here’s the thing: my productivity levels at home su-uuuuck. Once I’m home, I’m basically done for the day. I turn on the TV, select a Netflix show, and promptly become a mindless zombie.

I can’t even be bothered to respond to texts; how dare they interrupt my solace.

I once read that a study was done on people who watched TV – they came out literally dumber than before the episode or binge or whatever. I don’t remember where or when I read that, but it has stuck with me for ages. And I’m probably imagining this to some extent, but I feel dumber lately.

When I was 16, I was working two part-time jobs and going to two colleges full-time. I was exhausted. But, like, a good exhausted. The kind you feel when you know you’ve used up every bit of energy your brain and body can produce for the day.

Now I feel bad exhausted.. pretty much all the time. The kind you feel when you have a mountain of to-dos and spend three hours binging Friends rather than completing even a single task. The kind you feel when you’ve been a zombie for so long that you struggle to get creative juices flowing, juices that used to flow freely and allow you to bang out a 5-page essay in 20-30 minutes.

EL. OH. EL.

Don’t even ask how long it would take me to write that essay now.

I was talking to a friend last night and he point-blank asked me if I was living any of the advise I freely give others about pursuing their dreams.

The answer was an obvious and awkward: “um, no..?”

And it was just the push I needed to finally get it together.

So I called Spectrum at 12:05 PM today, and cancelled my WiFi.

I’m hoping this exercise in unplugging will make me so. stinking. bored. that I actually want to tackle that mountainous task list.

I need fewer distractions and temptations to waste my life, and by getting rid of WiFi in my apartment, I’m getting rid of almost all of them.

Thanks to the recent declutter, I don’t own much in the way of entertainment. My books are purged down to just a Bible and 3-4 non-fiction books I’ve been meaning to get to for ages. My collection of movies is downsized to 3 – the Anne of Green Gables series. I have a handful of games and five partially empty notebooks. I’ve got an iPad, MacBook, and iPhone. Oh, and a keyboard.

All of these things are generally ignored in favor of Netflix or YouTube or window shopping on Amazon.

Getting rid of WiFi is getting rid of pretty much everything I do in my free time.

And this idea thrills me.

A world with no old habits to fill the time is a world of endless possibilities.

Who knows what I’ll do first.

I imagine I’ll catch up on sleep again, and maybe finally read those books. I’ll probably get outside more and call friends more and study the Word more. I’ll probably goof off on the keyboard and spend focused energy on developing my vocal range. Maybe I’ll finally get around to experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen. Maybe I’ll go on more adventures to local museums or random far off places. Oh, oh – I might even become a consistent blogger (aaah ha)! After all, there’s nothing else to do.

Just to clarify for the nay-sayers: I’m not cutting the internet or entertainment out of my life entirely.

This should be obvious since my job is 100% an online gig.

Also, as I said, I have an iPhone which has data which means internet. And there’s no way on earth I’m giving up my GPS, the ability to check open/close times of businesses, or an opportunity to fact-check people in the middle of a conversation (because yes, I’m one of those annoying people who has to fact-check EVERYTHING).

I can even use the internet for other things if I should so desire, just not at home.

There’s a Starbucks with great indoor and outdoor seating areas and free WiFi less than a mile away. I’ve got a MoviePass membership (that will soon be swapped for the AMC membership because MoviePass just passed a bunch of new policies that are complete suckage) that I will use to enjoy the frequent theater experience. I have a DVD player and a library card. My iPad is already filling up with books I want to read, and my phone is overwhelmed with Podcasts I intend to listen to on long evening walks. I also have Ronnie, my delightful car that is more anxious to hit the roads than I am.

The point is: I want to make distractions harder to get to; I want to make them a reward, rather than my norm.

So here I go, starting my experimental mutiny of the internet. Wish me luck.

Unplugging.

Money Goals 2.0

As I mentioned earlier this week, I’m moving today. This means I have to demolish the financial goal structure I literally just set for 2018, and rebuild. Le sigh. #firstworldprobs

After rereading last week’s Money Goals post, analyzing my current budget, and changing things around to fit the new expected expenses (plus adding plenty of wiggle room for the unexpected), this is what I’ve settled on for my 5-part challenge 2.0:

  1. 58-Day Spending Freeze
  2. Live on $2,000 each month for day-to-day expenses
  3. Use the cash envelope system
  4. Get one paycheck ahead
  5. Only purchase 20 items or less that cannot be used up, and only if I’m willing to give up an item I already own to create space for the new one

It looks largely the same, aside from a 28 day and $500 dollar difference. Let’s discuss.

30 58 Day Spending Freeze

As I mentioned, a spending freeze is when someone stops spending on anything that is not a life necessity for a specific amount of time. I originally intended to participate in a freeze for the last 30 days of January, but it will now run from January 2nd to February 28th. In addition to the previously mentioned reasons, I also need to get savings back on track after the move. This is going to take more than 30 days.

I hate saving money.

No really. I know that’s a weird thing to say, but it’s the truth. I’d much rather spend every cent on eating out and travelling the world, but that’s not a fiscally generally responsible way to do life. So off I go to save money. *insert eye roll here*

$1,500 $2,000 Per Month 

My new apartment is NICE. I dig it. But it also comes with extra expense. My rent checks will be increasing by $235 per month, and I’ll be paying for water now, whereas I only paid the electric bill at my former residence. I have no clue what my average utilities cost will be, but I can guarantee it’ll increase from the $50-85 I’ve been paying.

That said, I’ve reset the limit to my life spending from $1,500 to $2,000. This will give me that much needed wiggle room until costs are a little more set in stone. I do plan to decrease that as soon as I can do so confidently.

In the meantime, I plan to use the “extra” money to further my finance goals. I still plan hope to pay off $10,000+ in debt because (assuming bonuses and commissions come through as they have been) it looks like a possibility still. Time’ll tell.

Anyway, just having written this post is making me feel a lot more settled about the move and such. I’ve been sweating bullets contemplating all of this for the past week because I was so eager to minimize my expenditures. For real though, #firstworldprobs strikes again.

What are your money goals for 2018?

Money Goals 2.0

Money Goals (This is real talk, y’all)

As I mentioned in my post about preparing for the New Year, I’ve taken a look at my budget and spending habits for 2017.

And holy cow I suck.

Okay, so it’s not that bad. I don’t regret my 7 trips around the good ‘ol U.S. I don’t even regret the one to Canada (I tease, I tease). I don’t regret the car, or the books, or the clothes, but boy-oh-boy did I spend a lot of money on eating out. Like. A lot. Like. Um. Thousands of dollars.

What.

Even.

Here’s the thing, I struggle with committing to a purchase.. unless it’s food. Then I’m like – who needs money? “Gimme them P.F. Chang’s Gluten-Free Hokkein Street Noodles, no Meat please. Oh, I’ll take the Edamame appetizer, too.”

And every time I attempted a budget after becoming debt-free..

Well, let’s just say: I didn’t follow through.

So it’s time to get my act together again. After a lot of soul searching, I’ve decided to attempt a 5-part challenge for 2018. Lemme break it down:

  1. 30-Day Spending Freeze
  2. Live on $1,500 each month for day-to-day expenses
  3. Use the cash envelope system
  4. Get one paycheck ahead
  5. Only purchase 20 items or less that cannot be used up, and only if I’m willing to give up an item I already own to create space for the new one

It’s pretty simple, eh? Okay, if you’re anything like my mom, you’re probably like “wuuuuh???” about #2 and #5. Don’t worry, I’m about to freefall into detail.

30 Day Spending Freeze

A spending freeze, if you’re not familiar with the concept, is when someone stops spending on anything that is not a life necessity for a specific amount of time. For me, that time will run from January 2nd through January 31st.

I’m doing this for three reasons. One, I need to get past the “I just got rid of everything, so I get to buy stuff” stage of decluttering without doing any damage to my minimalist reputation. I want to break the habit of buying. Two, I want to break the habit of eating out and (hopefully) jump-start my weight loss goal (more on that later). Three, I want to use all remaining funds to build a cushion for my goal to get one paycheck ahead on bills.

The rules for the spending freeze are pretty simple: no spending money that doesn’t have to be spent. Therefore, dining out (groceries are needs, Chipotle bowls are not) and shopping (toilet paper is a need, new sheets are not) aren’t going to be an option.

$1,500 Per Month, Cash Envelopes, and Getting Ahead

I’m mainly doing the $1,500 challenge out of curiosity. In my ideal future, I’ll be self-employed part-time and doing whatever I want with the rest of my time. If I want this to be a thing, I have to learn how much I can cut my cost of living. I always thought that  $1,500 a month would be a plenteous budget and easily feasible as a minimalist. It’s time to challenge that theory.

I do expect spontaneous adventures (a day at the museum, a celebratory feast with my friends, etc.) to come up that I wasn’t able to plan for in my budget. But the $1,500 does give me about $100 of wiggle room for those events, so long as there aren’t multiple uh-oh-this-wasn’t-expected events each month.

With the rest of the money, I’ll be building my savings account, taking a couple of trips, and paying down my car.

Wait.. paying down the car?

WHAT?! RACHEL HAS DEBT?!

Yes. Yes she does.

After becoming debt free back in May of this year, I decided I deserved a new-to-me car. Lucy (my ’98 Honda Accord) had seen far better days and was beginning to struggle with day-to-day life. Enter Veronica (Ronnie), my smokin’ hot mama of a black 2014 Toyota Rav4.

I mean, yeah, my decision was not Dave Ramsey approved by any stretch of the imagination. I did it anyway. I expect to have it paid off in 2 years, and it’ll boost my credit score (which will come in handy when I’m ready to move into a new apartment in 2018 or 2019), and it has already allowed me to avoid having to rent a car on multiple trips. Lucy, babe that she was, was definitely not fit/safe for roadtripping.

Anyway, I’m like way lazy when it comes to tracking my spending (hence I can’t stick to a budget), so I’m hoping the cash envelope system (Dave Ramsey approved) will do that for me. When the money’s gone, it’s gone. I dunno. We’ll see how it goes.

The final way I plan to force myself to stick to the challenge is by getting one paycheck ahead. Once I’ve done that, I can automatically put all the money wherever it goes at the start of each month. That means I look at my bank account once a month, and then forget about everything but the cash envelopes after that. This may or may not be a good idea… I’ll, uh, let ya know.

20 Items or Less

I’m getting rid of a lot of crap. LIKE A LOT. If you could see the pile in my hallway and the pile at the bottom of my closet, you’d likely be horrified. DON’T WORRY. I haven’t tossed/donated it all yet; I haven’t forgotten my resolution to wait until January 1st. But gosh my apartment is feeling swell. And I’m loving that feeling.

So I don’t want to reclutter it after I declutter it – ya feel?

PLUS, fewer purchases equals less spending.

And I’m a freak who likes to make unrealistic goals. If I don’t achieve them, who cares. If I do – whoa. I’m a friggin’ rockstar.

Anyway.. That pretty much sums up my minimalist money goals for 2018. How ’bout you? I’d love to chat money with you in the comments below. 🙂

Money Goals (This is real talk, y’all)