Declutter Update (Update #2)

11.30.2014

still chugging along on my declutter project.  actively avoiding my kitchen, so this month i focused on furniture pieces and the stuff in my mom's attic.

furniture
not much to get rid of in this category - since i rent, i don't have a lot of furniture.  even less that i would be able to get rid of.  still, there were some things!  and i am trying to keep a full count in all this.

kept:
1 queen size bed (frame, mattress, box spring, though i hope to replace the frame when i move)
1 ikea bookcase + 4 black bins that fit in it
2 flat screen tvs 
1 couch
1 coffee table
1 tv stand
1 glass entryway table
3 bar stools
1 glass shelving unit + 5 grey and white baskets that go with it

sold/donated:
1 bar cart
2 ikea side tables
4 pink and white baskets
3 plastic storage bins
1 hanging storage unit

total decluttered: 11
total kept: 21
34%


holiday related

kept:
1 christmas tree
1 set of christmas decor
1 plastic storage bin

sold/donated/tossed:
12 halloween costumes
1 set of halloween decor
2 sets of christmas decor
3 plastic storage bins
1 hanging organizer (held wrapping supplies)

total decluttered: 19
total kept: 3
86%

i had a feeling this would be a high number.  i knew i wanted to get rid of most of what was in my mom's attic, keeping only my tree (lighted floor model, bought after christmas on super sale at macy's.  it's gorgeous.  i think it was a $1000 tree, marked down to $200.  5 years ago, still in perfect shape and all the lights work.  i highly recommend getting floor models after christmas if you use artificial trees!), my silver, gray and white crate and barrel ornaments, and the bin to store the ornaments and tree stand in.  next year, john and i will buy new stockings and decor that suits our new house(!).  and no one needs 12 freaking store bought old halloween costumes, never to be worn again.  college me should be ashamed, what was i thinking?!

sadly, there's two boxes still in my parents' attic that i didn't get to.  1 of kitchen things and 1 of clothes (old winter coats and swim suits, i'm almost positive.)  i was planning on clearing those out while i was there, but the circus that is pet sitting 3 dogs did not leave me much time beyond the holiday things.  they knew they outnumbered me, those little fur monsters.

November Spending Recap

11.28.2014
under the rules of my spending frost, i'm going to limit my outings to 2 per month and 2 dinners with john (instead of 4 dinners and untracked/unlimited outings.)  additional outings will have to be paid for by earning money in other ways, like dog sitting.  i'm marking additional income as green and any spending as red.  if a date isn't listed, i didn't spend anything.  now some things were necessary, approved spending since this isn't a total spending freeze, but i decided to list them anyway.


november 1
+$110 sold old jewelry
-$20 chinese food with tara in the morning (holy halloween hangover.  i feel like i can never stock/cook anything to help a hangover like ordering in can.  what do you do?)
-$26 grocery store (mostly snack foods, see reason for chinese food)

november 3
-$13 beer for the apartment

november 4
-$47 ordered in greek food for dinner with john

november 7
+$25 paypal from swagbucks

november 8
-$11 blog sponsoring.  already committed, but it'll probably be the last time for awhile.
-$29 cleaning service for the apartment.  worth every penny.

november 10
+$60 sold my bar cart.  i didn't even want to move it back in august, but the boys fit it in the truck.  i don't use it any more.  so i listed it on craigslist, easy!
-$15 groceries, made italian food for john and myself.  and hawkeye.  and $6 of that was just their meatballs, because meat is expensive.

november 13
+$25 paypal from swagbucks
-$9 bought one of those hoods that covers your whole face and head for winter.  necessity, and if you don't agree, you live in the south.
-$154 hair appointment.  was supposed to be in october but i pushed it back and technically rolled the money over from my october budget.  and i pretty much only get it done twice a year (terrible, i know, i pretend 'every six weeks' means 'every six months.')

november 14
+$7
ashten bought an ad in my sidebar.  because she's awesome, obviously.  i then unapologetically stalked photos of her dog warner online.
+$25 paypal from swagbucks
-$27 groupon deal.  okay, hear me out.  i had the swagbucks money come in.  and then there was a really good sale at a store and groupon for half off that sale.  so, i bought the groupon and bought the things... which are christmas gifts for christmas 2015.  (it's not edible, obvs.)  i'm sure they'll have a similar deal next year, but now i'm done with really nice gifts for 6 people, i have a storage spot for them, and it's not even christmas 2014.  since it's something i buy often for myself, i know it was the best price - it came out to $5 per person for what would have been $20 per person.  i had to do it, people.  tell me i'm wrong.

november 15
-$14 taco bell.  went out in wrigley for my birthday and i'm incapable of leaving there without getting taco bell for me and hawkeye.

november 16
-$20 brunch with ida.  she came out the night before and stayed over.  we went to brunch with her sister, who i hadn't seen in years, so it was a nice treat.

november 19 - 23
+$500 stayed at my parents' house and watched their dogs while they were in vegas.

november 24
+$25 paypal from swagbucks
-$8 lunch with katie

november 26
+$40 sold side tables

november 28
+7 iva renewed her ad in my sidebar.  i love having her there, she's the one blogger i can always count on to learn something awesome from.

total: -$393 in spending, +$824 in bonus income.  net = +$431

i also paid my fixed bills, obviously - rent, internet, transportation ($100 cta pass), health insurance, utilities, netflix = $1355 or less.  this never changes, so i probably won't mention it again. 
all in all, i consider this a successful month for the spending frost.  my net spending total is in the green, but that's due to the bonus income (which will be less now that i've sold off most of what i intended to and won't be watching the dogs again until april.)  i think it was good to start with birthday month so i could ease into spending less.  all the birthday food freebies made it easier!  december is going to be tougher - i have 3 close friends' birthdays, plus the holidays.

i definitely learned that cash is my weakness as is having a partner in crime.  cash is like free money to me for some reason, i spend it without a second thought.  usually because cash is outside of my paycheck - it's 'bonus income.'  so it's not included in my initial monthly budget and therefore i don't feel the need to track it in my budget app.  the first four purchases in red were all in cash.  lesson learned - put cash in the bank asap.  and i usually only spend when someone else is with me, like tara or john.  if i'm on my own, i'm happy to stay in and eat whatever is in my fridge/pantry.  hopefully in december i can talk everyone into cheap places to eat and drink.

oh and things i almost caved and bought, but didn't: b&bw candles (john got me one for my birthday, perfect timing), an iphone app (that looked awesome but was $5 and for $5 it better spit out candy,) a dress at the limited, ice cream, white wine, potbelly's, shirts at maurices and venus, and a whole virtual cart full of things at victoria's secret.

Attention Black Friday Shoppers: Avoid the January Financial Hangover




i never got into too much credit card debt.  after i paid off my student loans and decided to just get the entire balance paid off my credit card, it only took about 3 months to knock it out.  now that i actually budget each month with a zero based budgeting software, i'm very conscious about what goes on my credit card.

the holidays just throw that out of whack though, don't they?  even when you concentrate on the spirit of the holiday season rather than on the gift giving, there's still so many other costs associated with the month of december - decor, extra and special meals, baking, extra activities, increased electric bills, even extra gas driving around to see your loved ones.  those things add up fast.  and as much as i love all of it (including the gift aspect!), it's just too easy to get caught up and lose sight of the 10 month spending frost that i'm on.  and suffering through a giant credit card bill in january isn't my idea of financial peace of mind.


the january financial hangover is a real thing.  it sets in when that credit card bill comes.  i'm sure you've experienced it before too, and you may have even set new year's resolutions to be better about your finances.  don't start 2015 on the wrong foot, because you'll lose steam in your financial plans, whether that's becoming debt free or saving money.  the best tip i can provide is just to make sure you plan.  christmas comes at the same time every year; it's not an emergency.  so plan for it.  know what you are able to spend and don't put your financial future at risk by losing sight of your goals.  another way to be prepared?  find places where you can make some extra money.

this year, capital one 360 has a black friday sale.  so take a pause from all those retail stores and check out the financial peace of mind you can have come january with all the deals from captital one 360, including new account bonuses, referral bonuses, and closing cost credits.  you can get a $100 bonus for opening a 360 checking account or a 360 savings account.  (both of which have no fees, and earn interest.)  you can get $40 for every person you refer to do the same.  how's that for financial peace of mind in the new year?


not only can you earn money right now, but capital one 360 will save you time and money all year long with their app and automatic savings plan.  do yourself a favor with your new year and get 2015 started off right, by working with a company that will help with your goals and keep finances at the top of your mind this holiday season.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Posts I'm Never Going to Finish

11.24.2014
i'm sure i can't be the only one out there with draft posts just sitting there.  and some of them have been sitting for a good long while.  not that they're bad topics, they're just the ones that occured to me as i was drifting off to sleep and now can't seem to finish them to save my life.  they're always there as a crutch for those 'what do i post?!' days and yet - i don't actually post them.  so here's my top 5, in all their unfinished glory, so i can guiltlessly delete them out of my drafts.

lies my mother told me
namely, there's one i'm still holding a grudge over.  for years, years, she would have warm m&m cookies on a plate when i got home from school.  that she told me she made.  until one day i went to the grocery with her and saw the exact same cookies in a plastic container in the bakery section.  lies!!  i about had a fit, all "moooooom, you liiiiiiied to me!!!" while she laughed and laughed.  i'm still mad.  i'm sure she told me other lies, but i'll never get passed the m&m cookie debacle long enough to flush out that post.

she took me to harry potter world, so grudge slightly forgiven.

things you think take forever, but actually take less than one minute
otherwise known as the list of disproportionately easy tasks that i procrastinate for days on end.  taking out the trash.  sorting the mail.  replacing the toilet paper roll.  and the kleenex box.  washing the dog's dishes.  checking a voicemail.  switching everything to online bill pay.  commenting on a blog post instead of just silently reading it.  i'd think of more, but then i'd just feel more guilty about all the things i was procrastinating.

reasons why my dog is better than your kid
redundant.  we all can agree that she is, no need to write a whole post about it.  has your kid ever sassed back, pooped his diaper, used permanent marker on the walls, thrown a tantrum, cried through the night?  because my dog hasn't.  unconditional waggy tail love and a solid 8 hours every night for the win.

tales of a cheapskate child
(1) i used to sell my halloween candy.  not hoard it, not eat it - sell it.  i would lay it out on my dresser, grouped by type, with post-its under each candy with a price per piece.  and i'd obsessively count it every day before and after school.  my mom would leave stacks of coins in place of the pieces she ate.  same when my friends and cousins came over.  (2) i'd only go to my track meets if my dad paid me.  i'd also only win if he agreed to $100 per win.  i loathe running, but i used to be quite good.  (3) i had a tip jar on the piano.  what?!  $1 per song, i'm not just giving it away here.  and i'm sure there's a lot of others, but they probably make me look even worse, so i'll leave it at those three.

blogs that never disappoint
every time i try to go back to this list, i get lost in the archives of allie and samantha.  so yeah, there's more great blogs of course, but i'll never stop laughing long enough to write a post about them.  i can't even nicely finish this post, because i'm back in the bitches gotta eat archives again.  it never stops being funny.

what draft posts are you never going to finish?

10 Best // Ways to Avoid People

11.20.2014

1. netflix.  i don't even want to admit how close i am to finishing gilmore girls, considering i just started it a month ago...  anyway, next up is finishing the killing and starting the 100.  what are you watching?  i'm loving this what to watch next map.

2. learn. the age when kids can finally understand most of what i say.  no wonder i don't like them, they're no fun until junior high.

3. spend some quality time with your pets.  there's so many fun apps out there.  if you haven't already, download walk for a dog.  every time you track your walk with your pet and hit 1 mile, they donate to the local rescue organization of your choice.  and it's free.  oh, and you don't even have to have a dog to use it.  so exercise fiends out there, start tracking your runs!


4. shop online.  thinking up christmas gift ideas?  this shirt says everything these 'avoid people' blog posts stand for.  i want it.  also, this is a good list for where to find unique gifts.

5. prep for thanksgiving.  i don't cook for it, but i can certainly appreciate 21 big batch cocktails to get your family drunk.

6. then prep for the coming black friday.  can't believe it's already been a year since i wrote about the 6 life lessons you can learn from black friday.  also, scroll down to kathy's comment on that post, it's a gem.

7. laugh.  so i turned 30.  i may have only been 30 for one day, but i know this post couldn't be more true.  down to the onesies.


i'm not entirely sure i'm ready for the responsibility of a blanket scarf yet, but i'll think about it.

8. win.  a fun christmas gift you can personalize.  i've made two for john, they always end up so cute!

9. cook.  crock pot mashed potatoes.  make your thanksgiving a breeze.

10. vote for hawkeye, if you haven't already.  or, ya know, vote again, from another browser/computer.  we're from chicago, that's how we roll - vote early, vote often!

and if all that fails, i suppose you could venture out this weekend.


happy friday!

Guess. What. Day It Is.

no, not hump day.  it's my birthday.  30th birthday to be exact.

and on 30th birthdays, you don't have to write a real blog post.  thanks for the birthday memories, 20s.  i hope 30 is just as fun.


stephanie, out.

10 Best // Life Lately

11.13.2014
1. blackhawks game date night.  with john, his brother eric, and eric's new girlfriend, nikki.  i like nikki, she understands the importance of getting in and out of the bathroom quickly in long-line situations like a stadium.  seriously, women, what are you doing in there?  and if your answer in any way involves your phone, please know that i hate you.  anyway, they won in overtime, it was a fun game!  thankful that it was before the spending freeze cause omg $17 for two cups of beer.  whaaaat?


2. halloween.  tara, megan, and i dressed like the sanderson sisters from hocus pocus.  took the bus to the bar and everything.  we also took like 4 photos, so fail on our parts.  i blame the 1 hour open bar.  1 hour, really?  well, i took it as a personal challenge.  i definitely won.

3. almost halfway through the first spending frost month (out of 10.  long ways to go.)  it's been very successful!  i have a post in drafts to go up at the end of the month and i update it when i spend or make money and so far, it's short and in the green.

4. i just have to get the last minute perishable things (namely, the cinnamon nuts my dad likes) and then my christmas shopping is totally done.  and i will have spent $0 out of pocket.  not too many things to be wrapped, but the stuff that does i'll be done with next weekend. 

5. $0 in large part due to swagbucks.  i just cashed in another $25, which brings my total up to $900 earned since mid-april of this year.  pretty cool, right?

6. i may or may not also be already planning next year's christmas... in my defense, spending $0 takes some year round work and planning, okay?!

7. he knows what's up.  saving money is sexy.


8. i'm catching up on my inbox!  gmail decided to freak out and send a bunch of blog comments and emails to spam, so i'm working through them.  don't mind me if you get a reply to your 2 week old message... damn gmail, but at least it's getting done.

9. birthday freebies galore!  my birthday isn't for another week, but the freebies roll in throughout the entire month.  i've gotten free qdoba, corner bakery, au bon pain, dunkin donuts, jersey mike's, and sephora, and i still have a long ways to go!  i've also gotten nachos from ida and a pizza from my roommate, so i have yet to grocery shop this month.

10. hawkeye.  passed out after a long weekend.

How You Can Make My Day, Netflix

11.10.2014
dearest netflix,  let's discuss some things.  i could write you a love letter, but that would be boring and i'm sure you get plenty of those anyway.  i do love you, heck, you come in just under nachos but way above above sliced bread.  that's high praise, my friend.  but there's always room for improvement, isn't there?  i only share my ideas and criticism because i want you to grow, netflix, and be the best you can be.  that's what friends do.  don't worry, it's not a long list.


- have an option to turn off the 'continue?' are you still watching function.  it feels like judgment, netflix.  yes, i just watched 5 episodes of gilmore girls in a row.  thanks for the bathroom break reminder but indeed, i'm still here.

- boy meets world.  every season.  it needs to happen.  you already know that you need to stream every show that aired on tgif, right?  well, i think you should start with boy meets world.

- can we also do a 90s nickelodeon tv shows update?  salute your shorts, hey dude, and legends of the hidden temple would be fab.  if i can get greedy for a minute, i also wouldn't complain about you adding clarissa, alex mack, pete and pete, and guts.

- from there, let's do the disney channel original movies.  i've seen xenon more recently than any 90s tv show, but i'd still appreciate seeing her on netflix.  i own brink, of course, but it's been years since i've seen johnny tsunami, smart house, the luck of the irish, or motocrossed.  (you can skip wish upon a star, though.  katherine heigl was just as annoying back in 1996.)

- do you know how many nicolas cage movies there are in the world?  78.  do you know how many are on netflix?  8.  it's a travesty.  fix this.  i need to watch ghost rider as often as if i still had cable and tuned it to fx any day of the week.  i appreciate all the danny trejo, i really do, but come on.  nic cage.

- the organization needs work.  i mean specifically the organization of my list of 'to be watched' things.  it's very long.  can we break this up, use some sub-lists?  i need 'things to watch with john' and 'all things wwe' and 'things i'm going to watch even though i'm not 10 any more.'

- can we earn points?  look, i watch a lot of netflix, okay?  i'm not hiding it here.  i also like to be rewarded.  so... let's discuss points.  i'd like some points for every hour of netflix or every new show or whatever.  points that can be redeemed for things like unlocking new shows or a dollar off each month.  maybe i can earn enough points that you'd let me watch season 3 of orange is the new black a week before the commoners who don't watch 20+ hours of your shows all weekend, because that's what friends do.  reward the loyalty, netflix.  which brings me to my last point,

- i'm sure this goes without saying, but just in case - don't raise fees.  $7.99 is cool.  remember when you split the services and increased prices and there was an uproar?  let's just try some smooth sailing for awhile.  at $7.99 a month.

all those things would be fabulous updates.  let's do this.  and thanks for the good times, netflix.  love ya like a sister.  or how i imagine i'd love a sister, if i weren't an only child.

love, steph

Choose Your Own Challenge Link Up {October Recap}

11.05.2014
it's link up day!  the theme for october was food.

my first goal was to limit my food spending, as in eat out of the pantry and not grocery shop beyond that first initial trip.  success!  i ate a lot of soup, my friends.  why is canned soup so easy to accumulate?  but it was tasty and fun to figure out how to make meals interesting with what i had left.  and now i have more room in the cabinets, and didn't waste any money on thrown out food.  i posted about my saving money on groceries process here and here.

second was too eat out/order in less.  i give this a pass.  it was definitely less than previous months, but still not where i'd like it to be.  you want to know why?  mcdonalds monopoly.  damnit mcdonalds.  this month should be much better!

and third was to make a fall drink.  fail.  total fail.  i forgot to even try.  i had vodka and orange juice on hand and i didn't want to buy anything else.  megan made a drink using loopy vodka (tastes like fruit loops, exactly) but that's not very fall-like either.  i did drink cider beer a lot, but i didn't make that obviously.  whomp whomp.

so let's hear it!  how did you do in october?

general guidelines:
1) if you want, follow your hosts not entirely perfect, life according to steph, and keeping up with ashley and cody.  (i like twitter, that way i can follow you back and tweet you encouragement throughout the challenge.)
2) link up your post about your results below for the month - we want to hear all about what you did, how you fared, what resources you used, what you'd recommend to others, etc.
3) please link to your actual post about your results.  links not having to do with the challenge will be deleted.
4) feel free to use this button, created by the lovely sarah at venus trapped in mars.

Not Entirely Perfect




these next two months, november and december, are pretty crazy for everyone, regardless of what holidays you celebrate or where you live.  so we decided to keep the themes simple - let's not add anything else to our plates.

the theme for november is organize, which i talked about on saturday.  what will you be getting organized this month?  i'll be working on the things stored up in my mom's attic - yikes!

the theme for december?  simplify.  just take something off your to do list - make one less kind of cookie, use only lights on the tree, say no to 1 holiday party, make only 1 side dish to bring to dinner.  just make the month a little easier on yourself and take time to appreciate the little things.

What Does The Fox Say

11.02.2014



what's that, you ask?  why, my monday morning treat for you - that would be my friends demonstrating the moves of just dance 2015.  we had the xbox one version, and it's awesome.  i'll be the first to admit, i'm not great at video games.  so when john and eric play their shooter or sports games, i'm pretty lost.  but dancing?  that i can do.  (not on camera, that's what my guinea pig friends are for.  nice pals, aren't they?)

there's so many songs to choose from.  katy perry, ellie goulding, frozen, one direction, calvin harris, the macarena (which the boys were ridiculously good at), run dmc, aerosmith, even 80s - 




no controllers or anything, just pop the game in, stand in front of the tv, pick your song, and dance your butt off - it picks up your moves and gives you up to 5 stars based on how well you're doing.  we didn't test out every song yet, but the ones we did test you could get up to 6 people.  eric (in red) can obviously attest to the fact that it's a great workout, he was sweating.  fun and calorie burning - there's a song for everyone!

tara and john did a nice duet to frozen's let it go.  the 3 stars above elsa means that tara was winning (and she did win.)  after the song, they show you a 'highlight reel' which i filmed so you could see the sped up highlights the game chose.


but the best one?  what does the fox say.  here's some candids:





so good, right?  okay, let me give you some details.  you can buy just dance 2015 here, available on 6 different gaming platforms.  obviously you should - what a great christmas gift.  another cool thing to note is that just dance 2015's company, ubisoft, partnered with stomp out bullying to bring attention to national bullying prevention month, making sure kids and teens know it's ok to dance to your own beat.  so your money is going to a good cause and i think anyone in your life will have an excellent time playing.  tara and i left the boys 8 hours ago, and they're still dancing away.

now then - you didn't think i'd leave you without a video, did you?!  the new choreography is seriously hilarious this year, get ready!


you. are. welcome. happy monday!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.