Knowledge Gained From A Month Of Financial Celibacy

May came and May went and I survived.

For those of you following along, you are very much aware of my addiction to spreadsheets and tracking.  It is a nerdy hat that I wear well and take much pride in.  The hat, however, started to stretch out from overuse and was slowly slipping further and further down my face to the point that it was covering my eyes.  I needed a break and I took that break in the form of a month long challenge.  May began my month of Financial Celibacy.

The month started out slow.  I had to delete all financial apps from my phone, iPads, and bookmarks from my computer in an effort to make logging in less habitual and more intentional.  Each time I felt the urge to do so, I was stopped by the fact that I no longer had quick (relatively) access.  If I wanted to log in I now had to go online and do so manually or download the app again.  Taking those extra few seconds to reflect gave my mind the space it needed to move on to a different task.  In time, the habit faded and I was no longer reaching for that crutch to fill random moments of downtime.  So, Goal #1 to break the habit was accomplished.

My second goal was to spend my time doing more fulfilling activities.  Two weeks into May I found it easy to disconnect when my BF and I went to Cuba for a few days.  Without access to data or wifi I was pleasantly surprised how much more focused we were.  I didn’t check in with Twitter.  I didn’t text with my friends.  And, without the use of Google, I was tasked with lead navigator using a simple paper map.  How refreshing to find that my brain still works in an efficient manner!!  The last week of the month found me in Seattle attending Camp Mustache, making new friends and enjoying every moment of it.  One thing that I noticed, and couldn’t help but comment on, was the lack of cell phone use during that weekend.  We were all able to chat and get to know each other without endless interruptions from outside realities.  Each of us was there 100%.  Due to my experiences in Cuba and CM, I am starting a new June goal of less online activity.  So far so good.  I do love my interactions on Twitter but I completely deleted my blog FB page in an effort to simplify my interactions in general.  At one point, in an effort to keep my life compartmentalized, I had 3 different FB profiles: my regular one, one for work, and Miss Mazuma.  It was time consuming and ridiculous.  I am just me, after all.  I don’t need FB for the blog or for work.  If you need to find me, look here or on Twitter – I’m always lurking. 😉

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See the bee?  Yup, that’s me…lurking.  😉

On a (more) personal note, I can’t stress how perfect the timing of this challenge was for me.  I learned first hand that time is more important than money.  As most of you know, May marked the last month of my Nana’s life.  I spent much of my free time in the hospital by her bedside not once worried about taking the time off from work or wondering what my bank accounts were doing.  We laughed and cried and I helped her through some of her darkest moments in her last weeks.  “Fulfilling” doesn’t begin to describe how amazing it was to have the time and opportunity to be there for her, something I wouldn’t have been able to do if I wasn’t financially stable.  Being fully aware during those hours has brought a new light to my FI journey.  I no longer care about the numbers.  What’s the fucking point?  I know what I need to do to accomplish my goal – there is no need to beat myself up every step of the way.  As a result, I made a few financial decisions:

1. Transfer half of my cash savings to VTSAX.  I was getting a decent interest rate at 4%, however, at this point I no longer want to buy an investment property so all that cash isn’t necessary.  I am currently #2 on the rental list and when my number comes up I will be renting out my studio.  I have struggled with what to do with this unit (sell or rent) but I am so close to the top of the list I can almost smell the $500 gross profit each month.  If I don’t reach the top by the fall, I will reassess this decision and possibly list it to sell.  Until then, I don’t need a 2 years cash reserve so I just threw 24k into my beloved VTSAX.

2. Up my spending to $1800/month.  Last year I succeeded in my goal of $1500/month.  This year, not so much.  This year I have taken on some extra financial responsibilities living in my BF’s home yet I never adjusted my budget.  Even with the increase in spending, through May I have averaged $1551/month.  Not bad!  But, that number is about to go up…a lot…

3. In complete opposition to #2 and my frugal goals, I am throwing all caution to the wind and spending to my heart’s content on one thing…TRAVEL.  You’ve heard the saying “Travel is the only thing you spend money on that makes you richer”?  I firmly believe this to be true.  The bonus of this challenge was learning that I don’t need to be so fricking uptight.  There is one thing that I always remind my friends of in their many moments of despair – be kind to yourself.  I decided to take my own advice and ease up.  It is time for me to be kind to myself.  I want to enjoy life and be able to say yes to every opportunity that I find worthy along the way.  Well…this week I found 2!!  On Friday, I booked a 8 day trip to Budapest and Prague with a friend of mine.  Days later, I bought a ticket to Camp Mustache Southeast this January.  What?!  Where did Frugal Fanny go??  I am throwing money out left and right but I no longer give a shit.  Of course, it doesn’t take much of a carrot for me to agree to leave Chicago for Florida in January!  😉

In addition to everything above, there were some extra bonus wins worth mentioning.  I read 4 books, caught up on all my podcasts, AND last month I published one post per week…I haven’t done that since December!  Now, you know I don’t care for blog schedules and pushing content so this is not something I am looking to keep up, however, I can’t help but think that part of my newfound momentum is due to me being more refreshed from working less.  Last month I only worked 9 days…9 freaking days and some of my best posts (in my opinion) came out of that month.  Was it the time off, was it the extra energy from not chasing numbers, or was it the sun starting to shine again??  I guess we will soon find out.

The start of June has prompted my first sick call since October.  Despite being under the weather, my brain seems to be firing on all cylinders.  I’m wanting to write, I’m wanting to create, and I’m wanting to explore shit that has been tucked away since I entered Chicago’s 5 months hibernation period called Winter.  I’m a awake now and so far I am loving this month.  I look forward to seeing where the rest of June will take me!!

** So how did your May go?  Did you hit any goals or face any challenges??  What are you working on for June? **

Until next time…

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30 thoughts on “Knowledge Gained From A Month Of Financial Celibacy

    1. Ohhhh – I may be emailing you as the trip gets closer. I have been to Budapest once before but I was only there for 2 nights and it was a last minute decision. No time to plan, we just went for it! This time I have plenty of time to read up in advance. We will be there in November so a thermal bath is high on our agenda. 🙂 My friend has never been to Eastern Europe so I can’t wait to introduce her to the culture!!

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  1. Like you, I see traveling as my biggest splurge. I don’t have a whole lot of space in my tiny apartment for a whole bunch of stuff I don’t need — but I always want to make space in my life for new experiences and new places.

    I found that in the last year I needed to simplify the way I did my budget as it was driving me crazy. It still a struggle to keep up frugal habits at times and I have also loosened up a little with my spending lately. But, I know we can go back to being uber-frugal if we need to.

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    1. Travel and food are the two things that make me happy to spend on. I haven’t been in a cooking mood with the weather being so hot so I guess I took my impulses out on travel! 😉

      Frugal is my middle name so it usually isn’t a problem but trying to fit within a certain frame when the financial situation has changed makes no sense. Giving myself a bit of leeway feels so much better! It gets easier as you go along because you find more ways to be frugal or certain things you spend on no longer make sense (like my beloved $5 raspberries). But you’re right, knowing that you can go uber frugal should you need to is part of the ride.

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  2. I am so excited to read about how excited you are. It sounds like May treated you very well…or I suppose another way to say that is that you kicked its butt! And amen to the itching to explore feeling now that winter is definitely over. I wonder how long Chicagoans maintain that attitude before complaining about the heat. One day? Half a day? 😉

    Can’t wait to follow along on your June adventures!

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    1. Thanks, Penny! Omg – aren’t you so glad winter has finally left us?? And you’re right, its a few days into our hot humid weather and already I am dying!! That being said, I went to the library today and they have a fireplace lit. Where do I sit? Right next to the flaming thing. Why? Because I hate air conditioning more than the heat. We just can’t win, my friend. We just can’t win.

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  3. Congrats! It’s so nice to be away from the distraction of our phone–I notice this every time I go camping, the time just flies! I’ve been a little obsessed over my blog, and I think I’m experiencing a bit of exhaustion. I’d liken it to being full but still hungering for the flavor of something really delicious.

    Do you have a post on your plans for your studio? I’m super curious to read about it!

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    1. I am with you – I LOVE to go camping for the same reason but it’s been years since I have slept in a tent (minus my trip to Washington DC where I slept in my tent n a hotel room…not the same thing!).

      Word of advice, do not obsess over the blog (unless it’s a good obsession). This is my second blog and if I know anything it is that it takes time to get it right. It gets time to find your voice in a saturated market. My first blog centered around home improvements before and it was a tough gig to get off the ground. By the time I had solid footing I was moving out of said house and into my studio. I had nothing left to write about and sat for a few years before starting MM. With this blog there are so many different factors, social media being a huge one. I know I don’t have the energy to keep up with it all so I just do as much as I can without feeling like it’s a job. Turns out that is equal to a lot of chat on Twitter and random semi weekly posts…sometimes more. Don’t worry about trying to reach a wider audience. Engage with others and they will engage with you. That is how you build a following, in my experience anyway. Whatever you do, do not let the pressure get to you or you will stop writing because it will become a chore. I hope that helps! Feel free to reach out at any time if you need any help or motivation. 🙂

      As for the Studio…nothing as of now. I haven’t written any of my fix up posts but I have a few on the back burner. Stay tuned!

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      1. Thank you for your encouragement!! I love making content for the blog above all else and that part is a good stress, but I do find the social networking portion a little crazy and mind boggling. When I first made my twitter account I actually got terrible headaches looking through the twitter feed because it was information overload and it felt never-ending! I definitely try to stay less active on social media these days for my own sanity. Social media seems to move at a million miles per hour!!!

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  4. TheRetirementManifesto

    Travel is the only thing you spend money on that makes you richer – I hadn’t heard that, but LOVE it!!

    Glad you’ve re-focused your priorities! That’s what life is all about, and you’re doing life well! A month of celibacy, well spent! Congrats, here’s hoping your lust for the numbers remains subdued, and you continue to push to move from Good To Great with your life!! Enjoy Budapest!

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    1. I’m full of great STOLEN sayings! 😉

      Dued – you’re the one who talked me out of my gap year and I curse you every day for it. I mean, I know you are right, but I am getting the itch to take off! This is a good compromise. Work less, enjoy more. Good to great!

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  5. It’s great to hear the happy in your writing again! You’re so upbeat, happy travels!

    Is also great to see you doing many of those post-FI activities now, way too many people put off enjoying life by hiding behind budgets and savings rates. It may take a little longer to reach the finish line, but once you arrive you’ll be the one who is fit and tanned and sporting a huge smile!

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    1. Hey, Slow Dad! Glad you could see the positive in this one but it wasn’t my first choice. I had a waaaay more upbeat idea ready to write but I felt the need to review my May challenge. The next one is better but may be a collaborative effort. I’ll keep you posted!!

      Haha – I like the idea of being fit and tan at the finish line. I’m going to keep that at the back of my head when I am making these decisions. Get out and DO!!!

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    1. Girl, the first week is still open!! I’m texting you the link!!

      Budapest will be amaze and I’ll be sure to give your people plenty of fodder to chat about. My friend is a hoot and we shan’t go quietly through the city. 😉

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  6. ChooseBetterLife

    I’m sorry for your loss of your Nana, and I’m so glad that you were able to spend a lot of Quality Time together last month.
    Best wishes on your travels and adventures. Enjoy!

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    1. Thanks, Julie! I don’t know how you work in a hospital setting. The things I saw (not only with my Nana) are so heartbreaking. I appreciate your writing so much because you make a real effort to reach out to people who are ignoring warning signs that could be saving their lives. Sometimes all it takes is a second look. Once you are sick, in some cases it is hard to go backwards. I never want to regret not doing things now in the event that I can’t later. Thanks for being a great inspiration!

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  7. centsiblyrich

    It’s great you were able to take the time to be with your Nana in her last weeks. No regrets.

    Isn’t interesting how much more focused we can be without online access? When we traveled more, Alan and I always considered it a win if we were at a location where we couldn’t get cell service (or data).

    I think it’s great you are not focusing on the money, but on your happiness and desire to travel! And I am looking forward to reading about it.

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    1. I feel like I want to go backwards in time to when we weren’t as readily available to one another. Having to think for ourselves and do book type research instead of googling…all this easy access has made us a bit of a lazy society. And DONT get me started on Tinder!! 😜

      Im looking up now instead of looking down. So far the results are working in my favor!

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  8. Your Nana lived a great life and I’m sure she was happy to have her there with you until the end 🙂

    I hear ya on the whole travel thing….. just booked a flight for VEGAS, BABY! for the 4th of July. However, I’m just going to visit friends, not stay on the strip and go crazy! Moderation is still best even when I just dropped $400 on tickets!

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    1. What…Vegas?! I just talked to you yesterday – you sure move fast! You’ll have a blast!! Ohhh…give me the dates and maybe I can get an overnight while you’re out there! I talked to Will about an awesome Thai place near my work hotel. It’s sooooo good! Damn, now I need to get to Vegas. So hungry!

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  9. I’m addicted to my budget sheet too but I’m not ready for the celibacy yet. I second what Jing said about being too attached to my blog. This thing is like a crying annoying e-baby. I feel guilty for being away! The things you’re describing sounds like literally the complete opposite of my life and my May right now!

    I’m jealous of your travels! The food abroad must be heaven!

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    1. Lily, you are an over achiever (Magna Cum Laude?! Good for you, girl!!) in the best of ways. Never feel guilty for being away because it only means you are doing something more fulfilling at the moment and that time away gives you the space and experience to later write. So give your e-baby a pacifier! Oh, and while we are on the topic (and not that anyone asked), I don’t believe in making schedules to post/publish. Writing is an art that doesn’t follow a time table. If you need to schedule time to write that is perfectly acceptable in this world of crazy busyness, however, just because you write something doesn’t mean you have to publish it. I have a hefty draft folder for such purposes that I try to go through every now and again. Some of my ideas age like a fine wine and the others shrivel and demand a swift kick to the trash can.

      I am sure my advice goes against all “How To Be Successful at Blogging” courses, but I didn’t start my blog to be successful. I just wanted to write. Now that I have small amount of loyal readers (thanks, guys!), I try not to add a bunch of fluff posts just to fill that schedule. This is just my perspective and I am sure there are others out there that would love to weigh in in opposition…or perhaps they are too busy keeping up with their M/W/F time schedule to pay attention to this little comment (by the way, some of my good blogging friends are very successful at the MWF schedule. Others (and my self) are not.). 😉

      Oh, and yes, the food abroad is amazing…until you eat something you are unsure of!! 🙂

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      1. This is the most detail reply ever!! Thank you 🙂

        I do write on a M/W/F only because I read to keep posting consistently in the first year. When my e-baby is older I would immediately switch over to what you do because I won’t have to prove my determination and new readers will have enough to hack through. Ooh that sounds almost like a plan…

        I have a few (and by few I mean 18. Lol!) drafts too. Nice to know it’s normal! 😀

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        1. If a schedule is what the lady wants a schedule is what the lady gets! 🙂 If you look at my archives page you can see how my whole first year of writing went. Lots of posts at the start then it slowly dwindled to a few to one post per month! Haha – I totally went off the grid! It is funny though, in those months I was still active in the community and my readership grew even without new content. Something to think about so you don’t feel so bad if you miss a post. 😉

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          1. That’s great! Man the WWW is the best passive stream, I can’t believe I waited this long to start a blog. But I think my content isn’t good enough yet, for it to stand on it’s own. I have lots to learn and I need to hustle :)!!

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  10. Out with Frugal Fanny and in with Bodacious Bianca! I hoped it was only a matter of time before you cut yourself some slack with the spreadsheets and the calculating. Good for you!

    I’m so happy for you that you had all that quality time with Nana. That’s something you’ll never forget or regret for one minute.

    We’ve got a few weekend trips planned, including our visit with Fritz next weekend and Ms. Montana in the fall! I just extended our 7 days in WA, ID and MT to 10 days — true to what I learned about using AAdvantage miles, I was able to change our award itinerary with no fees.

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    1. Dang! I thought you guys were road tripping. This sounds like an awesome itinerary!! And good for you on the extra 3 days – every moment counts. 🙂 I can’t wait to hear all about your travels. No doubt there will be some trashy posts to write about!

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    1. As much as I wish I did, I don’t really have an answer! I think seeing the results helps but you really need a clear idea of what you are working towards. Knowing that, for me, makes it easier to hustle. That being said, this month I faced some serious drop off. Giving yourself the opportunity to ebb and flow is key. I was very hard on myself the last two years and have started to lighten up. While none of this answers your specific question i think that it does show that there is no one way to go about this journey. Some days you are on and motivated and others your are off and discouraged. The latter are few and far between for me but when they come I take it on stride. You can’t be “On” all the time!

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