I don’t want kids.

There, I said it. I am a late twenty something woman with no maternal instincts, no desire to have children, and no, your children aren’t cute. (And no I probably won’t like the photos of your kids on Facebook. Why do you post so many??? But get a puppy or kitten and I’ll like ALL of those photos. Because puppies are awesome, but I don’t want the work right now, so please do get puppies and post all the photos.) And I’m not sorry for saying this. I will congratulate you on the birth of your child because life changes are exciting and you are so excited about it. I will also get excited when your kids start learning math and you talk about that, because math is cool. Or when you talk about your kids doing things that I can remember doing as a kid. But that doesn’t mean I want kids.

Don’t tell me that I’ll change my mind. I know that you can change your mind on almost anything in life, later on. Maybe that’ll happen. But for the last 10 years, I’ve been confident that I don’t want children and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

Getting into my late twenties has been interesting, watching friends get engaged, decide to have kids on a specific timeline, and also quit their jobs and travel the world. Everyone has a different idea of what their ideal life looks like and there are so many options! There are people who have retired in their 30s and 40s and those who kept working and have donated good chunks of their income. It’s been pretty scary watching people make all of these life decisions as I’m a planner and I don’t have any timeline for my future like my friends do. It’s freeing in another way though as I have decades of life ahead of me to learn, to experience the world, and to enjoy life.

A lot of people buy into the American Dream of going to college, getting a good job, getting engaged, getting married, buying a house, popping out 2.5 kids, and then working hard until they retire at 65, all in that order. A lot of people aren’t just buying into it – it honestly seems to be what they want. But for those who start to question it, how much of it do you question? What path do you want to follow?

I don’t want to have kids.
I don’t want to quit my job and travel around the world.
I don’t want to work at a startup, unless it is my own and even then only maybe.
I don’t want to move to a small-town to downgrade my cost of living. I like how accessible living in the city is.
I don’t feel closed in by owning a condo already. I don’t mind having so much of my net worth locked up in either my condo or my retirement accounts because I don’t want to move. And if I did, I could sell my condo.
I don’t want to be self-employed. I like the routine of my job.
I would like to have more vacation time than I do. It does sound like it might be possible to get extra unpaid time at my current company, which would be pretty sweet.
I don’t want to live in a house. At least not any time soon. Maybe when we get a dog at some point in the future though and a yard would be cool, but there are parks nearby and off-leash dog parks.

When I was in my early twenties, a coworker told me that he missed being my age, that it was fun times. He spent his twenties partying it up, barhopping and checking out the latest clubs. Now he lives in suburbia with his wife and two small children. I don’t want either of those pictures – him in his early twenties or him in his early thirties.

So many people told me not to buy property when I did (at 23), that I would regret it. That I would regret tying myself down. I don’t, one bit. Buying this condo was an excellent decision and I love this place so much. I am super glad I bought a two bedroom condo with plenty of space for two.

As I’ve watched friends quit their jobs and go traveling for a year, my first thought is how cool and fun that looks (if I’m interested in the places they’re going) and after some reflection, I realize that that life of spontaneity isn’t really me. Our month-long trip to New Zealand this year was pretty fun, but I’m a homebody and by the time we left, I was looking forward to not moving around as much. It was so nice to come home to internet, our home, friends, and our city. Slow travel might be okay in my books, but too fast of travel isn’t. I don’t have much of an interest in traveling for months throughout Southeast Asia, which then makes travel more comparable in costs to living at home. I’ve had good luck in the past with working while traveling (e.g. an internship/study abroad type thing) as it gives me something to occupy my days and also allows me to immerse myself in the local culture and travel.

So what do I see my life looking like in 5 years? I see myself living in my condo with my boyfriend, working at a job, having my Master’s degree, and having knocked a few more items off of my travel bucket list. I’m not particularly concerned over when/if we get married, especially with the marriage income tax penalty we would incur and the fact that due to our incomes and asset levels (hello me being a half-millionaire at age 26 and our combined annual household income being around $300-400k – I love being able to check off the “other” box for household income now) would result in a pre-nup with marriage and a decent separation of his and hers accounts, maybe even of post-marriage assets. I would probably feel differently about marriage if I wanted kids.

Looking at the above list of all the things I don’t want, most people would then see no point in saving. No future goals? No reason to save. That’s not how I look at it. (Thanks to nicoleandmaggie for this tip several years ago – you can just save for the sake of saving and that buys you freedom later!) I can live a pretty luxurious lifestyle on $30k/year plus travel ($18k/year+travel if you take out my mortgage payments) and still manage to bank ~$100k/year. Keep in mind too that vacation time is more of a limiting factor in how much I can spend on travel than money too. Those savings will buy me options in the future for when I do end up making goals that I didn’t have the time to save up for (see grad school that I kept trying to save for, then never applying, and using the money for something else like mortgage pre-payments).

This isn’t an early retirement blog. That isn’t my plan. I’m just living the lifestyle I want, which happens to be relatively-frugal for my income level, and saving the rest.

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Operation Bayes: Revealed

While I was interviewing last year, one of my interviewers asked me what I would do if I was retired. I was surprised I got asked this question since the person clearly knew how long I’ve been out of undergrad and probably from that I’m still in my twenties! It’s not so crazy to hear people in their forties mentioning this, but asking someone in their twenties? That seems bizarre to me. Anyway, I thought about it for a moment (I was caught a bit off guard) and told the person that I would go to grad school in X subfield. They told me that I could do that while working for them, since their company has tuition benefits. That got me thinking and…

I applied to grad school for X subfield of my current field! I got in! I’m pretty stoked! And scared and nervous all at the same time. But very excited!

I’d been mostly putting off grad school because it seemed like a terrible financial move (it will cost money, have an opportunity cost, and will not increase my income) and it seemed like a lot of work. My last employer wouldn’t pay a cent towards grad school. My new employer however has a sweet tuition benefits program, with no waiting period, meaning that my Master’s degree will only cost me possibly very little (somewhere around one month’s average normal expenses is my estimate). And it seems that I’ll be able to pay for my tuition with a credit card, so I may try to pick some interesting credit cards to churn with tuition.

I’ve saved up enough to pay for the entire program myself in cash and have enough to cover a year’s worth of living expenses (by some definition). I figure I would recast the mortgage and reduce some expenses, so that amount would probably last me for a second year. I could cash flow this, but I decided I felt more comfortable saving up the whole amount so that I could quit my job to do this full-time if I wanted to. Why would I choose to keep this cash even though my now-employer will pay for basically the whole program?

1) I have to pay for each course upfront and then they’ll pay me back once I finish it successfully.
2) Options! This cash will allow me to quit and pursue the Master’s program full-time if I want to, if I decide I’d rather do that than stay in industry.

My plan is to use my tuition savings account to pay for grad school and then when my employer reimburses me for the courses, use that money for whatever my next savings goal is.

My family is blue collar millionaire next door raised in working class families and didn’t really value education (my parents didn’t realize that I would likely go to college if given the opportunity until I was in high school…), but did value good work ethic and holding a job at all times, so this plan to go to grad school when it won’t increase my income has taken a long time for me to be okay with. Plus, the requisite amount of time thinking about spending this much money (five figures if my employer didn’t pay for it) on something for myself.

This is a better splurge than a comparably priced car as it is an experience rather than stuff. If my employer wasn’t paying, I would pay for it in cash.

There are a few different paths my next five years could take financially at this point:

  1. I proceed through the Master’s degree part-time, my employer pays for it in full, and nothing changes in my job when I’m done the Master’s degree. I’ve gained some knowledge, but continue at my job.
  2. I proceed through the Master’s degree part-time, my employer pays for it in full, and I change groups/teams to do something more in line with this new specialization once I have my new degree. This would see most of my grad school savings tossed into other savings buckets as time goes on and my (cash) emergency fund reduced back down to $20k-ish.
  3. I proceed through the Master’s degree part-time, my employer pays for it in full, and I decide to pursue a PhD after I finish the Master’s degree. This would see most of my grad school savings tossed into other savings buckets as time goes on, but I would probably keep my (cash) emergency fund around $30-40k in this case to help with the lower income. The mortgage will very likely be paid off before this point, which will help keep expenses lower, and the SWR on my investment portfolio should be around $1,800/month, though I would try my best to keep my expenses under/around the grad student stipend and let my investments continue growing.
  4. At some point during the Master’s degree, I decide it’s far more interesting than my full-time job and decide to quit and pursue the Master’s degree full-time and then continue on to a PhD. If the mortgage isn’t paid off, I’ll recast it, and slash expenses like crazy in order to let my savings account last for a while and keep my expenses low in preparation for a grad student stipend once I start the PhD. The SWR on my investment portfolio at this point will likely barely even cover the HOA dues and property taxes on my condo, so I’ll definitely need to acquire some more income at a later point.
  5. I decide I hate grad school and skip out partway through with no/minimal money lost and continue saving and look for a new path to pursue after I reach FI.

I can’t believe this is finally happening! I’m so excited!

Officially living together!

My boyfriend has moved in! I started writing this post back in August, at which point we had mostly decided this was happening, but kept waiting to publish it since I didn’t want to jinx it! He moved his furniture in this past week and we’ve been working on rearranging things. We have a ton of duplicates (even some triples and quadruples…): some of which we’ll keep, some we’ll donate, and some we’ll sell. It is super exciting and scary all at the same time. He’s been unofficially living at my place for months now, so we’re just making it official now and saving some money (mostly him, but me too). My fixed expenses are going from $2,000/month down to $1,600/month (only $600/month once the mortgage is paid off!).

We’ve been splitting groceries all year, so we’ve got that down pat. We have our checking accounts linked so we can transfer money to each other super easily (free and instantly from the website or app for our credit union!), without seeing the other’s balances, and we’ve also opened a joint checking account that we’re slowly figuring out what we’re going to use it for (currently: groceries and travel). We’re on the same page with savings and investment strategies and what we do with bonuses and other extra money and we know how much money the other has and makes and such.

The big question though is what to do about housing expenses. If we were renting apartments, it would be easy. We would look for a new apartment, probably a two bedroom + den, move into it together, and split everything 50/50. But we’re not renting apartments. Also, ew are those types of apartments expensive at $3,200/month! I own my condo (well 2/3 of my condo) and it is a good size for the two of us, while my boyfriend was renting an apartment.

What I’ve seen some people do is just split everything down the middle when they move in together, even though one person owns the place. I don’t want to do that because of the amount of equity I have. I also don’t want my boyfriend to pay me rent or for him to see me as a landlord. Everyone assumes he will pay me rent and are super confused when I say that he’s not. This is a serious, long-term relationship. Plus, my HOA rules don’t allow for only renting out part of my unit.

So what we’ve agreed to do is to split all of the outgoing expenses other than the mortgage 50/50. Logistically, this means taking a look at all of the expenses, adding them up, and then arranging the puzzle pieces so that we each pay for unique line items that add up to the same amount. This means me paying the property taxes, him paying the HOA dues, and then us splitting the utilities (electricity and internet) evenly. I look at it that the mortgage payment is mostly principal at this point, so it is part of my savings strategy, just like my boyfriend’s rent savings will go to his savings strategy.

It’s been pretty fun him slowly moving in over the last few months and decorating the condo together :) It’s shifting from my place to our place as we move more and more of his stuff in and rearrange the furniture and as we buy artwork and new furniture together. I look forward to years of this!

If you have any questions about how we decided to split expenses or how we’re doing it, go for it! We’re still figuring this out as we’re going and nothing is really set in stone yet.

P.S. I finally told him about my blog a couple of months ago and he seemed to think it was kind of cool! I’m trying to convince him now that he should write a post sometime ;)

I’m Done Optimizing

I never thought I would wrote this post. Until I experience a major life change, I’m done optimizing my finances. I’ve stopped worrying about money. I’m done. A friend asked me why I thought I had hit this point and I’m not quite sure why exactly it is.

Is it because I bought my condo and now have no real financial goal to save for other than retirement? (That was my friend’s assumption.)

Is it because my income has basically hit $200,000 per year? Is it because my net income exceeded my expenses by more than $100,000 this year?

Is it because I have not touched my cash reserves in almost two years? (Knocking on wood…)

Is it because on a normal month, I can save $2,500/month after maxing out my 401(k) and HSA? To put that into perspective, that is about or more than what each of the following cost: 1) moving apartments last year, 2) closing on my condo ignoring the down payment, 3) almost the cost of my bedroom furniture set, 4) the cost of my living room furniture set, 5) my patio furniture, 6) my health insurance deductible, 7) my annual insurance costs, 8) my property taxes for the entire year, 9) my car insurance deductible, 10) my homeowner’s insurance deductible, 11) my entire budget ignoring the mortgage but including wants like travel, 12) my two week trip to Japan including flights, 13) the cost of having closet organizers professionally installed in two closets in my condo, 14) two months of mortgage payments, and the list could go on forever. Basically, I can cover many minor extra costs with my extra cash flow each month rather than dipping into savings.

Is it because I have enough available credit to cover over a year’s worth of credit card spending? (Not that I would actually use it, but the fact that it is there is freeing.)

Is it because my bare bones budget is less than a quarter of my monthly gross pay?

Is it because I could live off of my liquid funds for over a year without reducing my budget?

Is it because I am enjoying my life today?

Well, I’m done optimizing. I’m done worrying about my finances. I’m not going to optimize my credit cards, savings accounts, investments, or checking accounts further. Everything is mostly on auto-pilot and it’s awesome. Now all that’s left is to enjoy life with my boyfriend and kick butt at my new job! This is what financial freedom feels like!

My Goal Isn’t to Retire Early

Notice how in my blog’s title it doesn’t say anything about financial independence or retirement? My goal isn’t to retire early. I’m not against having the funds to do so, but that isn’t my goal per se.

My real goal is balance:

  1. A home I enjoy
  2. A sense of community, possibly including a healthy romantic relationship
  3. A way of being intellectually stimulated on a regular basis, possibly with a career
  4. A good level of fitness
  5. A way of providing for myself financially, whether that is through paid work or investments

On my home

As I’ve talked about many times, I absolutely love my condo. I love  the location, the rooms, and everything about it. This home really does make me happy.

On community

I am incredibly happy with my boyfriend. We have actually been friends since college, which is a pretty awesome way to start a relationship. He accepts me for who I am and I accept him for who he is. I’ve also gotten the go ahead to ease back into playing sports, which I would have been far more excited about if I hadn’t also caught a cold around the same time. I think that’s finally gone now :)

On intellectual stimulation

As you guys have probably deduced from some of my posts lately, I haven’t really been happy in my current job. I’ve spent quite a bit of time introspecting on what I like and dislike about my job and what I would change about it if I could. I eventually realized that I couldn’t change my current job into a job I would like and started the process of 8 am and 5 pm coffees to find a new job. I talked to many groups within my company and ended up choosing a job with the first group I talked to. I’m excited about the manager, the product the group is working on and the part of the product they’re working on, as well as the opportunities for growth there, and my future coworkers seem pretty cool too. Once I accepted the new job, I felt a huge relief to have that stress off my shoulders. I’ll be starting the new job in the new year and taking a bit of time off between jobs, so I don’t have much time left at my current job. It’s hard to focus when I know I’m leaving and I’m excited about my new job!

On fitness

I love walking places instead of driving. It is not only less stressful

On finances

My plan was always to save the residual. I never set out to save 50% of my income. I set out to spend the money I wanted to spend and then save the rest since there’s no reason to spend money I don’t want to.

For people who are naturally savers, I think that saving the residual is actually a better way to go about things than saving first. For people who are naturally spenders, I think that saving first is probably better. (I wouldn’t really know though since I’m more naturally a saver.)

Since I stopped paying Social Security tax with my July paycheck, I’ve been saving about $3,000/month AFTER maxing out my 401(k) and HSA and on top of saving all of my bonuses. But my spending plan also calls for spending ~$3,400/month if you include the mortgage. I don’t think that you can really call me all that frugal anymore when you add all of my expenses up. $3,400/month to spend for a single person is a LOT of money. But then when you look at the fact that I’m saving close to 80% of my net income, it no longer seems like a lot. I am on track to increase my net worth by about $135,000 this year. That means I had $135,000 (*figure includes investment gains) in income that I saw no reason to spend.

If you look at my budget, there is a ton of lifestyle inflation. I live by myself and spend about $1,700/month on housing when you throw in all utilities. I spend ~$4,000/year on travel. I eat out a fair amount – upwards of $200/month worth. I spend $100/month on sports and fitness. But, other than all the moving last year, I have been reasonably consistent in my spending since graduating from college. So it’s not like my lifestyle has increased with my income increases (which have been pretty significant!) I will come close to my 2011 spending this year.

I don’t coupon. I don’t hound myself for spending so long as I enjoy the thing I spent my money on. I think I’ve finally found my balance with my finances.

I’ve been keeping track of my credit card spending in a Google doc and otherwise not checking on things other than to enter receipts into my overall spreadsheet once a week and reconcile with my bank accounts once a month. Everything is on auto-pay and it is surprisingly awesome.

On retiring early

Most people who retire early find some other way to occupy their daytime hours, often with self-employment. As I’ve learned from the last few months of boredom at work, I am not someone who could sit around doing nothing. I will always find some activity to keep my mind and body active. I’m most happy when I’m reasonably busy. That’s even when my apartment is the cleanest! Perhaps at some point, I will find a career that I enjoy more than writing software and transition to that or take an extended sabbatical to travel or something similar, but that is not my intention now or in the near future. I’m simply saving my large residual of money after enjoying my life, to provide myself with some more options down the road when I do want them.

I’m going to continue to save the residual and to enjoy my life while hopefully also enjoying and kicking butt at my new job!

On June

June was a pretty awesome month, probably the best month I’ve had all year. For a lot of reasons, the first quarter this year was really hard emotionally. April was a bit hard from the remnants of that and things started to look up in May and starting with the May long weekend (and a few before…), I’ve had really awesome weekends and the weeks haven’t been half bad either. I’m also still adjusting to the new job that I started back at the end of 2012.

I made a few mental rules in June:

#1: Spend as much time unplugged (and outside!) as possible.

This was really awesome. I spent the vast majority of weekends both unplugged and outside. So much so that I ran out of sunscreen! (Don’t worry, I bought more!) There are now multiple evenings each week where I don’t open my laptop at home. I also turn off even Wi-Fi on my phone for some periods of time at home if I just feel like reading.

#2: Say ‘yes’ to any social event if I don’t have something already booked for that time.

There were so many fun social things this month! I can’t even begin to list them all. All of this socializing contributed to almost 700 miles of driving this month, which is absolutely insane. There were a few road trips in there. (I’ve still averaged under 400 miles/month in the time I’ve had my car though.) I’ve been making new friends, reconnecting with old friends, and enjoying my balcony and the general outdoors in my area. I’ve been spending 4-7 days/week socializing outside of work and it’s been really fun. Have I mentioned that I absolutely love combining fitness and social activity together?!

I’ve also found a pretty good, varied weekly workout routine that keeps me active about 4 days/week in addition to my walking 4 miles round-trip to/from work each work day. According to Fitbit, I averaged 6.65 miles of exercise per day for a total of 200 miles of exercise for the month. I’m loving the running trails near my condo! I’ve been trying to run once or twice a week. I think I need to start running earlier or later in the day with the heat though.

#3: Don’t worry or think about my finances.

This is why I didn’t blog at all in June. I think I did pretty well with this one. I still tracked my spending. I definitely blew multiple budget categories out of the water. (oops!) But, I had a really awesome month and my finances still survived – my non-mortgage spending came in under $2,000. I didn’t remember about my Total International stock index dividends until two days after they posted. (Normally I would have been obsessively refreshing the day of.) Until I logged in to Vanguard to check on those, I didn’t notice that the stock market wasn’t doing so hot in June either.

I’m still getting used to the auto-pay feature of my credit cards. I’m learning that it doesn’t always go through on the due date, but I should just be patient and not worry about it. I now have a credit larger than what I will spend down before the next statement date on one of my credit cards. (Oops!) Other than that and scheduling the July 1st mortgage payment on pay-day last week, I didn’t make any manual money moves in June.

June was a really good month to try this since it wasn’t a bonus month. I have a few posts lined up for July though I won’t be thinking about my finances all that much still since I know I’m just throwing my entire bonus at the mortgage. I can’t wait to see the mortgage balance at the end of July :)

 

I’m going to try these same mental rules again for July since I did so well with them in June. Here are some extra plans for July:

  1. Apply for the Fidelity 2% Investment Rewards American Express credit card and start using it as my primary credit card.
  2. Throw the entirety of my bonus at the mortgage principal.
  3. Break 9 minutes/mile in my short (~3-6 mile) runs. (I’m trying to find the time to increase my distance.)
  4. Improve how productive I feel I am being at work.
  5. Read 3 books.

Readers, how was your June? Anything exciting happening in your summer so far?

From the Other Side

I’ve started and set aside quite a few posts in the last few weeks. Life has been rather uneventful lately, introspective rather than busy. I’ve spent a lot of time on my balcony (it’s been a beautiful spring so far!), baking, being active, reading, and introspecting on life, not money. Surprisingly, this has provided little inspiration for blog posts.

A relationship ending closes a life chapter, but opens a new one. It helps one to re-think what one wants out of life, without thinking of someone else at the same time. I’ve spent a lot of time in the last few weeks thinking about what I want out of life. Financial goals have always been easy for me to come by. They’re easy to define, measure, chart, and feel a sense of accomplishment. But life goals? They’re a bit more wishy washy. They’re harder to measure and to define and you often can’t really chart them, though many of them probably go in a zig zag pattern. I’m at a point now where I feel like I can do almost anything money will buy, it’s just a matter of finding the time. It’s an interesting feeling.

I’m probably missing something, but these are the six quadrants I see to my happiness:

1) Home: Many people told me that I should spend my twenties renting since I don’t really know where life will take me. But for me, my home provides a real sense of contentment that renting wasn’t really giving me. It provides a sense of stability that helps cement me while I figure out the rest of my world. I absolutely hated my temporary place last year by the time I finally moved to the condo. This condo is probably the nicest place I have ever lived in. I feel fortunate every day that I am able to easily afford this place. I love my bedding. I love my bedroom, including the painted wall I color matched to my decorative pillow cases. I love my shower. I love my closets. I love my mirrors. I love the photos I’ve put up throughout the condo of my travels. I love having an office / guest bedroom. I love the windows in all the rooms. I love my balcony. I love my pantry and my kitchen sink and how easy it is to clean my stove. I love the entryway. My patio furniture is growing on me (it’s still pretty new!). I love my neighborhood. It really does feel like a neighborhood and it is quite walk-able. I do miss being a bit closer to work, but I like this area far more than anywhere closer to work. I love that I am paying less per month to own this place than I was to rent a place almost half the size. I don’t like my electricity bill. I will conquer it some day.

2) Fitness: Being single allows me to set my own schedule. The onset of summer provides a lot more flexibility in this as well. I’m still walking to/from work every day, which gives me ~25 miles/week of walking. I also am a huge fan of combining socializing and fitness, so I picked up another sport for the next few months. I like doing more than one sport each week – more variety for the mind and body, using different muscles. There is now enough time to run in the evening, but it’s hard to convince myself to go for a run when I’ve already walked 5 miles that day. Since I’m trying to maintain a certain number of miles of activity each day, I am trying to run on the other weekend day without the extra sport. It’s a bit of a juggling game, but the routine I’ve been developing so far has been rewarding.

3) Social: This is probably the hardest one for me while single. I’m rather introverted and work exhausts a lot of my available social energy. But there isn’t quite enough social in my life right now. So I need to find the energy each week to find people to hang out with each weekend day (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) for a few hours. The extra sport satisfies one of these, but I still need to fill the other two. That should satisfy my social needs.

4) Career: This one has been a strange up and down lately. I’m still evaluating whether this new job was the right move or not. I’m making a plan for what I want to do next and what I need to do to get there. This thing I’m contemplating, I’ve been debating doing for over three years now and I haven’t actually pulled the trigger yet. If I’m going to do it at some point, now while I’m single and not super interested in traveling is the time to do it!

I’m going to stockpile a bit of extra cash over the next few months in case I need some to help figure that out. This means that I won’t make any extra mortgage payments between now and late July/August. I’ll write about this if I end up deciding to spend some of the stockpile. If I don’t spend the stockpile, I’ll just throw it at the mortgage and not much harm done! (I will be making the mortgage payment from the original loan though, so a bit extra will be going to principal each month AND it’s on auto-pay so I don’t have to worry about paying the mortgage for a few months!!)

I’ve also been debating taking a few months off before starting my next job. My employer lets you take a leave of absence, though it does make many benefits-related things a bit complicated, I think it could be worth it to help reset.

5) Financial: I’ve never really been in a position to worry about money. I enjoy fidgeting with my finances because they’re something that do actually make sense to me, unlike life many days. I only added it on this list because someone told me how fortunate I am that I am figuring life out in my twenties with a steady job and no worries about money.

Oh and neat update: I no longer have to pay for my expensive birth control! Yay for my health insurance plan year resetting!

I’ve been doing well with tracking my spending. It really doesn’t take that much effort when I’m not spending very much time spending money! I was having this need to enter some spending every day even if I hadn’t spent anything, so I added a column for “No Spend Days” and enter the date there if I didn’t spend anything or have any automatic bills go through. That helped with the need to enter something! I’m also not checking my online banking nearly as often as I was since all my spending is funneled through credit cards now. Way easier and I’m actually loving the automatic payments, though I am checking that they do go through. (Comcast forgot about it the first month??)

6) Food: I’m not really a foodie. I included this category because food solves a lot of my problems: migraines, sadness, lack of motivation, grumpiness. I’ve been meal planning somewhat. For just me, it doesn’t take a lot of effort since a meal will last me another night or two of leftovers. So I’m really only planning 1-2 meals a week. This means way less dishes, way less cooking, and more time in the evenings than I had while in a relationship. I’m most of the way through the month and have only spent $80 (!!!!) on groceries. I still can’t believe that. Disclaimer: $20 of that may be fancy chocolate. This $80 number really doesn’t make any sense… I have to be missing a receipt somewhere.

I’ve also been baking more than I was. I’m getting away from the muffin mixes, trying out new recipes. Some are flopping – I think I’ll stick with the mix for cornbread – and others have been amazingly delicious. Everyone is always surprised by some of the things I make from scratch. My parents never used mixes for anything, so that has never been my first thought. I tried them for the muffin mixes to see which muffins I even liked with less barrier to entry.

 

A good relationship would improve the social quadrant, the food quadrant (me not having to do all the cooking, meal planning, grocery shopping, and dishes), the fitness quadrant (adding more social to it), the home quadrant (more social, especially on weekends), and the financial quadrant (some expenses shared, well if I was living with the person).

Notice that travel isn’t on this list. I don’t actually value travel all that much right now. I’m taking a big trip this fall, but I’m not planning any short trips since I don’t find that they’re usually worth the planning stress. I’ve done a TON of travel in the past, in my younger days (haha), and right now, I want to settle in a bit more.

Readers, when was the last time you looked at your happiness quadrants? How are things going for you?