March Spending Recap - It's Painful

good lord, do i even want to get into this month?  no.  no i don't.  i don't even think this post deserves the spending frost photo.  it was rough.  it pained me to even type this up.  and april is vegas so maybe i need to extend my spending freeze through all of 2015, since i clearly don't have a handle on things yet.

here we go:

march 2
+$25 paypal from swagbucks
-$24 vegas guide book for john, mostly on where to eat.  the boys really wanted one, since they've never been.

march 6
+$25 paypal from swagbucks
+$320 blog income (collectively)

march 7
-$217 hawkeye's yearly vet appointment (far under the $400 i anticipated!)

march 8
-$60 buffalo wild wings.  house hunted with john today, it was our lunch out.  plus leftovers for dinner and beers.  my treat since he also helped me run a blog errand.

march 9
+$250 blog income (collective bias)
-$25 gym membership at my office building. it's actually just a one time refundable $25, so yeah, i don't think you can get a gym membership cheaper than free.  i get my $25 back whenever i stop using the gym and return the swipe key.

march 11
-$26 quest bars
-$18 book

march 13
+$50 blog income (blogher)
-$64 petsmart

march 14
-$15 drinks on st. patrick's day

march 16
+$75 blog income (clever girls)
+$25 paypal from swagbucks

march 17
-$21 lunch for katie's birthday
-$40 dinner for ida's birthday
-$29 apartment cleaning service
-$64 walgreens (brita water bottle, allergy meds, etc)

march 21
-$111 groceries via instacart
-$18 late night tacos after we went out
-$67 various cabs for the night, we went everywhere

march 26
-$30 bridal shower gift for john's cousin

march 27
+$25 paypal from swagbucks
+$28 blog income (payment for virtual assisting)
march 30
+$190 blog income (collective bias)

totals: +$1013, -$829 = $184

thankfully it was a good month for blog income.  it's not always (never) that high.  just trying to be completely transparent with the spending recap!  and it was nice timing to offset the cost of the yearly vet visit.  hawkeye got a clean bill of health and was told she's a perfect weight, in case you're wondering.  yes the taco bell eating dog is the picture of health.  i'm just as surprised as you.

to be honest, there's quite a few things that i would consider necessary spending - the bridal shower gift, treating my friends for their birthdays (which they both do for me every year), the cleaning service, anything for hawkeye.

as for the rest?  i don't even know.  no, we do not need 2 am tacos and to be taking cabs to 4 different bars in 1 night.  way way way too much spending in march. whomp whomp.  here's to zero spending in april until i get to vegas on the 22nd.

Mixcups - Subscription for Coffee Lovers {Review}

so yes, i jumped on the chance to try this single cup coffees.  in case you don't know, i'm coffee obsessed.  addicted actually, because i get headaches if i don't get my morning cup. yep, me and coffee, we're serious.  my roommate and i both have the single cup brewers and we have coffees going every morning.  we opted to try the mixcups mix of the month subscription.

the mixcups were delivered quickly and my roommate and i ripped the box open in less than 30 seconds.  the fact that i photos at all is amazing.  these are the ones that stood out to me as soon as i opened the box, but i ended up really love a mint chocolate one and a plain dark roast.  these were all excellent too though, of course.

each month they put 10 different kinds in the box, so you get 3 of each kind.  good thing, since audrey and i both pounced on the raspberry truffle.  you get to choose whether you'd like unflavored coffees, a mix of flavors plus unflavored like we got, and even tea.  the selections change monthly so you're always trying new kinds.

and they aren't brand loyal so you're not just drinking the same company every day, which i think offers great variety in taste.  i would definitely keep them in mind the next time you need to order your cups for the month.  you get everything else delivered these days, why not your coffee?  they have different sizes available, but the 30 cups will run you just under $1 per cup.

and even though i did get this round for free - ask me in 2 months (i currently have an excess of k-cups!) and i'll show you my new box.  i'll be back.  thanks, mixcups.

which one would you have tried first?

**i received these samples courtesy of mixcups via brandbacker.  but you know i don't actually have opinions that aren't my own.**

Taking On Too Many Things At Once

life is just busy lately.  work more so than anything else, but still, other life things like house hunting and 10,000 dog walks have kept me from getting to everything i should be doing.  (like blogging...)  but i keep taking things on, adding to my to do list.  do you ever do that?  add more things when you know you shouldn't?  it's as if somehow i believe that having a lot on my plate will push me to be more organized, more productive, and to procrastinate less... but it never does.

procrastination is my jam.  i've never not procrastinated big projects, papers, etc.  it's just what i do.  sometimes my best work comes to me at the 11th hour.  sometimes it doesn't.  but it's still never stopped me.  i think it's because i got my highest grade in all of college on a paper that i began and finished after i got home from the bar at 2 am and turned in at 10 am.  and now i have an artificially and baselessly inflated ego regarding my task completing abilities, when i should really remember that it was a seminar class in science fiction literature and my paper was on blade runner.

i'm off topic.  back to too many things - i have been doing none of them.  i go to work and do actual work things, yes, but other than that, i push a lot of things back further and further.  cooking, blogging, cleaning, laundry, budgeting - i mean, for someone who doesn't have a television that's a lot of adult-like things to not be doing.  so what have i been doing instead?

pinning things.  what else is new.

creating my next 101 in 1001 list, even though my current one isn't over until this time next year.  if you're on day zero project, let me know so i can follow you!  i like following people's progress and getting ideas for my next list.

commiserating over my bracket.  in defense of my 35 out of 48 correct picks, at least all my final four teams are still in it.  so there. 

using redfin to search homes online.  in the searching and buying process, just 5 months until my lease is up.

transferring over all my favorite reads to feedly.  bloglovin is the most terrible service, seriously.  life is better on feedly, but the transferring takes time.  and on that note,

weeding out blogs i don't read anymore.  i'd say 'it's not you, it's me' but it is probably you.  most likely, you just had a baby.  bored now.  but also,

adding new favorites.  probably, you have a dog and post lots of dog photos.  that gets you on my favorites list instantly.

playing naked girls photo hunt on the touch screen machine at the bar.  i found one on which i do not have the high score, and that is (a) unheard of in chicago and (b) unacceptable.  no one is better than me at that game.  no one.  i must correct this machine.

watching old biggest loser seasons on hulu.  when i'm cleaning my apartment, i watch hoarders.  when i'm on a weight loss mission, i watch biggest loser.

posting photos of hawkeye to instagram.  i think i've already posted more in these last 3 months than i did for the entire year of 2014.  everyone is happier for it.

i guess i'm not really taking on 'too many things.'  i'm just really skilled at procrastinating the things i have taken on.  but that face, it must be shared with the world.  can you blame me?

Spending Triggers

this month hasn't been nearly as good on my finances as last month, and it's only the 18th.  i haven't gone too crazy, but i have purchased things i probably didn't need.  not at all in line with my spending frost.  perhaps it's the warmer weather?  being out of the house more?

let's see, what have i bought unnecessarily this month - apartment cleaning service but i should probably just factor this into my monthly/bi-monthly budget, it's so worth it, 2 different books which strange for me, because i previously only owned 1.  i'm a library girl but 1 was a vegas guidebook john wanted and 1 was a book i read via free ebook format and decided i needed to own, quest bars because i dunno they make breakfast easier what can i say, a couple of beers on st. patrick's day, a new brita water bottle, pizza on my diet cheat day, and an order of groceries on instacart.  (and a birthday lunch and a birthday dinner for two friends but that was totally necessary.  i love them and they did it for me in november.)

i think we're all surprised to see candles missing from that list.  i'm holding strong, for now.  but the b&bw lilac is desperately calling my name and i think i might cave soon, like in  the next week, because we used to have a lilac shrub in our backyard so it reminds me of childhood and springtime. and the blooming of the lilac tree was the sign for us to go to the greenhouse and pick out flowers to plant.  i always picked lamb's ears, because they're soft, fuzzy, and easy to care for and whatever, regular flowers bring bees and bugs.  and i was a weird kid anyway.  if a candle can bring back all those memories, i'd say it's $12 well spent.

seems that my spending triggers are related to convenience and things to make my life more pleasant.  convenience because i clearly don't want to cook breakfast (or pizza) or clean my apartment, or shop for a huge order of groceries myself.  and pleasant because hey, beer is fun.  and so is filtered water, books you want to re-read, and candles.  i think everything on the list is related to life being busy and slightly stressful right now.  work has been insane this year - i don't think i've stopped since coming back from new year's.  when i'm not at work, i'm house hunting with john or attending events i couldn't come up with an excuse to get out of.  so online shopping relaxes me and i can avoid cleaning and grocery shopping too.  the wonders of the internet.

if only there were a way to relax without spending money.  and also without giving up convenience.  i'm still finding my happy medium.

there's some plus sides though.  (a) it is still way way way less spending than i spent during months prior to the spending freeze.  i haven't taken any cabs and i bring my lunch every day.  and (b) i have not broken down and bought any clothes, which i see as a huge success.  i love online window shopping and have an extensive wishlist going at modern vintage boutique.  i mean, right?

but, no clothes shopping until i get to my goal weight, which is the next goal i'm tackling on my 101 in 1001 list (just 1 year to go!)  also, i just lost 26 lbs in 1.5 months without working out so this goal isn't particularly difficult for me - i'm just lazy and i really, really, more than any normal person, love nachos.  regardless, it's pretty motivating, having lost the weight that quickly, to not clothes shop just yet.

but i'm coming for you soon, modern vintage boutique.  please don't sell out of that shirt yet.  (not a sponsored post, i just think their stuff is adorable and my usual loft is totally disappointing lately, right?)

alright, back on the wagon.  i don't want to have an embarrassingly extra long 'spending recap in march' post for you in 2 weeks.

Reducing My Monthly Bill With T-Mobile Simply Prepaid Plan™

Not Entirely Perfect has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser.  All opinions are still mine of course. #ChangingPrepaid #CollectiveBias

As you know, I'm smack dab in the middle of my 10 month spending frost.  Minimal extraneous spending and cutting where I can, until we are in our new house in September.  I think it's going exceedingly well, as I rarely spend money any more.  When I was checking my budget, I used some sort of button I don't fully understand that showed me my expenses in a graph and a pie chart.  And the biggest chunk of expenses was monthly bills.  Almost entirely monthly bills, in fact.  And while I can't negotiate my rent here in Chicago, I can definitely do something about the other high bills - like my previously $200 a month cell phone bill.  Now?  It's $40 a month.  Say what?!  Yes!  Introducing - Simply Prepaid™ from T-Mobile.  What a huge relief and spending cut.

I started by picking up my Samsung Galaxy Avant phone at Walmart because it was convenient to stop there while John and I were house hunting last weekend (see yesterday's post).  Plus, it was on rollback.  Saving money any way I can, obviously.  It's easy to find - venture towards electronics and look for a similar giant hanging sign:

The T-Mobile section is bright pink, you can't miss it.  It looks like this:

This is the new plan that T-Mobile is introducing, so check the end cap displays as well, that's where i grabbed my pre-paid card.

The phones are there as well as the prepaid cards you'll need to activate whichever phone you pick.  There's different options to suit your needs and choice of a high-speed data amount, but I went with the $40 a month plan - 4G LTE data with unlimited talk and text.  I was a little worried at first because prepaid always has a negative connotation, like you're somehow settling for second rate and getting slow data, a network that drops calls, or bad phone selections when you opt out of that 2 year contract.  But T-Mobile says they're 'changing everything you know about prepaid', so I gave it a shot.

I haven't lost anything but a high bill by switching.  The service still works wherever I go and I still have unlimited talk and text.  Let's be honest - I don't talk on the phone much.  But unlimited texting is absolutely necessary.  It's still on T-Mobile's Nationwide 4G LTE Network (and you can put your zip code in on Walmart's website to ensure it works in your area.)  There's no overage charges, no annual service contracts to get locked into and I still got a great phone with tons of apps.

um yes, I did rip open the box and started to set it up while binge watching X-Files, what of it?

So if you're looking for a solution to your high wireless bill, but still expect good service, I highly recommend you test out the T-Mobile Simply Prepaid Plan™ - seriously, for just $40 a month you get 4G LTE data with unlimited talk and text.  No 'burner' phones in sight.  Try it.

Are you on a money saving mission too?  How have you cut down your monthly bills? 

To find out more about staying connected and the T-Mobile Simply Prepaid Plan™, check out this video:

Thoughts on House Hunting

even though we don't technically need a place until the end of august when my lease is up, the guys can move at any time so the house hunt has begun.  and not just looking at online listings, but actually working with a real estate dude and going to see houses in person.  now, let me just start by admitting that house hunting is not my jam.  some people think going to open houses is fun but i am definitely not among those people.  sometimes there's wine and cookies so that part is fun, but the fun stops there and also i could just eat cookies and drink wine on my couch while watching netflix so it's kind of a wash.

ideally, i want finding a place to be like house hunters.  you know, where there's 3 options and then you pick one.  yes, i realize it's fake, let me have my dream.  in real life, you look at lots and lots of houses.  [or maybe just we do?  is it just because chicago provides a ton of options?  or because i'm searching with two guys who can't even decide if they want sausage or pepperoni on their pizza?]

and by 'lots and lots of houses' i mean we've seen ... 3.  with 2 more to see this sunday.  and yes, i'm already over it.  i think i'll make it through the 2 this weekend and then 1 weekend after that, and then i'll be done and john and eric will be on their own.  i. hate. house hunting.  of the first 3, john and i are ready to go with house #2 but it's too high in price for the updates it needs.  i told john just to make an offer anyway, see what happens.

but he also wants to keep looking.  i think it's because his mom told us they looked at 100 houses before picking the one they're in now, and he thinks that's the norm.  i will not look at 100 houses.  i will die.

it's boring, tedious, and exhausting at the same time.  they all start to look alike and i care very little about the specifics like lot size and how the existing wiring looks and what kind of windows are installed.  here's my specifics, which i could answer without even setting foot in the door - is it close to some sort of public transportation to get me to my job?  is the neighborhood safe? (which i mean in the broadest of terms because i currently live near western and fullerton and feel free to look up the crime stats on that.  nowhere in chicago is really that great, let's be honest.)  and does the dog approve of the nearby fast food and delivery options?  cool, done, let's buy it.

so all in all i'm ready to quit house hunting and just pick something, but the process has barely even begun.  and it's not at all like my easy house hunters dream.  but then john commented that he didn't like the kitchen in house #2 because the walls were painted pink and in that moment i really DID feel like i was on house hunters because OMG PAINT COLOR DOESN'T MATTER, YOU CAN CHANGE PAINT.

Life Skills I Wish I Would Have Learned In Home Ec

i guess i should preface this by saying that no school i ever went to actually offered home ec.  is that still a thing?  does it exist?  i went to private catholic all girls school, so it was all 'rah rah girls are better, they can do anything boys can including math and science and you don't need things like cooking and sewing.'  which is great since i, you know, got a law degree but still... i kind of need to know how to sew things.  why couldn't i have learned both?

anyway, the skills i really wished i would have been taught in school (because i've used trig exactly never):

budgeting.  how did i take algebra, trig, geometry, whatever else they teach and yet no one teaches you how to balance a checkbook?  budgeting is a basic i had to figure out all on my own.  wish someone would have taught me before getting a real live paycheck.

laundry.  although i suppose this could have been taught by my mom as well, and ideally at some point before the day i moved into the dorms.  but thanks mom, for the 18+ prior years of doing all my laundry.  i still only have the basics down though.  and like i said, i can't sew!  there's a lot of shirts and pants i could have saved over the years if i knew how to patch a hole.

cooking.  that doesn't involve a microwave.  people may put this in the 'mom should have taught you' category, but my mom can't cook either.  we're bakers.  and we don't eat meat so i have no idea what to do with a chunk of raw, slimy chicken.  and if we're being honest, i'm still a little afraid of the oven and could use a lesson in 'how not to burn yourself when inserting and removing things from the fiery convection of doom.'

self defense.  so glad iowa offered this, even as just an in-house demonstration for sorority girls.  i think it should be taught in high schools too.  especially my all girls school, where were you on that?!  and with it should come a lesson on being safe in college and how to watch for warning signs.

maps and directions.  if my cell phone signal goes out and i can't connect to google maps, i'm a lost little puppy anywhere outside of the chicago area.  seriously, if i can't see a chicago street sign, i can't tell you which way is north.  i mean really, people look at an extra bright star and can tell you which way to go?  that's crazy.  also, you can't see stars downtown.  with a little effort i can figure out a map, but it does not come easily.  and i definitely can't fold it back up nicely because proper map folding is witchcraft.

i can't be the only one.  what life skill do you wish you learned in school that they never taught?

Choose Your Own Adventure [Link Up]

the theme for february was 'create.'  which was a bit tough for me, really.  i definitely stretched the meaning of the word, because i am not, by nature, a very creative person and i'm a terrible artist/diy-er.  so here's how i fared:

goal 1 - create a recipe post.  check!  in case you missed my fudge, it's here.
goal 2 - create more blog posts in general.  big fat fail.  didn't increase posting-wise at all, and didn't write any ahead of time.  i need to figure out a schedule.
goal 3 - create a vegas itinerary.  check!  everything is set.  flights, room, general itinerary and a list of top 3 things each of us really wants to do.  (lots of overlap, because we all just want to drink...)

the theme for march is relationships.  certainly don't take this to mean you can only participate if you're married!  not the case at all.  we're talking all relationships - parents, siblings, pets, friends, yourself, anyone.

my march goals: (1) more walks for hawkeye.  exercise and bonding time.  so no cell phone either, except to take cute photos of her.  (2) actually get my friends out for their birthdays, that were in february.  i'm looking at you, ida, pick a place for birthday dinner! (3) continue on the mission to help my mom declutter the house.  she's loving the progress so far! (4) something nice for john.  like we anticipated, they totally lied about this project being done in march.  so he's 2 hours away still, for sure until the end of may. maybe longer, who knows.  they suck.  i sent him 1 care package in january, might be time for another one.  or some sweet texts, or homemade meals he can take back when he stops in on sundays.  i'll think of something.

looking ahead, for those of you planners out there - april is finances and may is read.  then we'll be breaking for summer (or completely, we haven't decided.  if you'd like to continue it and take over, i'm happy to hand over the reins to someone.)

so, how did february fare for you?  what are you planning for march?  link up below!

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

Worth the Splurge

i think what people spend money on, what they think is important, varies widely.  i don't care to buy expensive coffee (i only drink it black anyway) so i'm not a starbucks fiend.  i also don't see the difference between drugstore mascara or the high end stuff.  beauty bloggers would scoff at me.  but here's what on my 'worth the splurge' list - the things i won't forgo or go cheap on, even during a spending freeze month:

bath and body works 3 wick candles.  i burn a candle every single day and thus, i've tried lots of kinds.  these are the best smelling, with the farthest 'throw' (candle talk for how far the scent travels.)  they are $22.50 full price, but they're constantly on sale.  my friends are always like 'you're such a minimalist, i don't know what to get you.'  (a) nothing. seriously.  (b) bath and body works candles.  but pretty please wait until they're on sale and do not pay $22.50 for a candle.

ynab.  it's the budgeting software i use.  hey, if you're skilled enough to make a spreadsheet that carries over from month to month, more power to you.  but i'm not.  plus, it has a phone app that syncs with your computer version, and with your significant other's phone if you share a budget.  and free online tutorial classes.  i wrote about it more here, but yes, i love ynab and it's worth every penny of the $60.  one time fee.  and you can always find a code online for $6 off.  they also giveaway a copy of the software at the end of each live class period, so if you're lucky, try that.  i won once, gave it away via twitter.

a good planner.  i can't function with just an electronic planner.  i do use google calendar but i also use (between life and blog) a combination of the weekdate and the kate spade wellesley agenda.  check out steph's post today about more options.

fleece lined leggings.  if you live in a cold climate, i know you're with me on this.  if it's snowing by you, get yourself to target and grab a pair.  you'll thank me.  just don't wear them as pants so i have to hate you - they go under pants, dresses, and long tops that cover your butt.  emphasis on under.  leggings are not pants, even when they're lined with fleece.

glass tupperware containers.  plastic ones get icky so fast.  they melt, they stain, they're just not good.  invest in the glass ones with locking lids.  it's more money up front, but they'll last forever unlike the plastic crap.  and your food won't taste weird.

good dog food.  vets say it makes a difference.  does it?  i don't know.  and considering that my dog eats taco bell, chipotle, pepperoni pizza, sliders, etc etc i'd say it really doesn't matter in her case.  but there's a lot of horror stories about dog food and treats from china that get dogs fatally ill.  and have you read the ingredients list on a bag of the cheap stuff?  probably not any better than pepperoni pizza but still.  if i can't figure out the label, hawkeye's not eating it.

what's on your 'worth the splurge' list?