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. 😉
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…