Happy Monday! That probably looks a lot more chipper than it feels. Mondays aren’t necessarily my favorite days, but I do tend to feel a bit refreshed from the weekend. I like to use that extra energy to tackle chores for the week. Today I’m planning on grocery shopping, preparing some food for the week, and paying bills. That last one is probably my least favorite because I tend to stress about money even if we’re doing fine financially, which thanks to me working more, we are. It’s still not fun, but I thought I’d share a trick that I use to make it more enjoyable. Yes, it’s probably really corny, but it works for me.
Two tips actually. The first one it to use Pixar stamps. Paying the gas bill is much more fun with a Wall-e stamp.
The second, more important tip is to pay bills with gratitude.
I vaguely recall something like this in The Secret, so that’s probably where I got the idea, but while I’m writing out checks or paying bills online, I think about what I’m really paying for and the value I received. Here’s a quick breakdown of how I think about my bills:
- Rent-Thank you for giving me a place to live, for giving my studio and a kitchen to cook yummy food and a big window with a tree outside to look at while I sit on the couch and journal in the morning.
- Gas and electric bills-Thank you for hot baths, a cozy home, for light to read and paint by, for powering my computer so I can write and connect with others.
- Student loan payments-Thank you for helping me study in China and graduate on time. Thanks for helping me start my dream of travel.
- Phone bill-Thank you for allowing me to call my mom, text my friends, get a hold of Sam when my computer does something stupid and send him cute little messages during the day, and for helping me feel safe because I always have a way to get help in an emergency.
- Car insurance and fuel-Thank you for allowing me to visit my family and friends, for getting me to the library, grocery store, and art galleries. Thanks for allowing me to get to work in five minutes instead of tramping through the snow for a 25 minutes both ways.
It may seem silly, but I think gratitude is the key to a happy life. When we have gratitude, we see the good in the unpleasant things. We notice out blessings, and we just tend to be a lot more optimistic. This is a big deal for those of us that tend to be vulnerable to depression and anxiety.
I’ll let you know how this works on taxes. 😉
Have a wonderful week!
Today, I get to do something that would’ve made me cry a month or two ago.
I get to go back to work full-time.
After a few months of really choppy income and lots of stress, we’ve decided that I need to be the main breadwinner so that Sam can focus on his (very intense) schoolwork.
I resisted this idea at first. I need time to make art and promote myself! I barely have enough energy to work part-time and do laundry! At first, I felt like a failure and a sell-out for choosing financial stability over extra time to dedicate to my art.
I took some time to think about it, and I realized that this is one of the most caring things I can do for myself right now.
The truth is, I really enjoy my job. It’s actually something related to my degree, I’m good at it and I feel appreciated there. It pays better than any other job I’ve had and it’s quite laid-back.
With me working full-time, Sam can take the most intense weeks of school off. We’ll be able to afford healthier food, and I can buy the supplements that help my anxiety and winter blues. With benefits, I can keep up on my doctor, optometrist, and dental check-ups.
Most importantly, this will take care of A LOT of our overall stress, and that means more mental energy to dedicate to my art and writing. Security is a huge factor in my emotional health, and the stress of being financially strapped far outweighs the stress of a busier schedule.
I see this as a huge act of self-care. Yes, I’ll have to adjust my routines and learn to juggle a busier work schedule with artmaking and self-care, but the peace I feel inside tells me that it will work out.
Self-care isn’t always what it seems.
I’m thankful that this opportunity presented itself when we needed it, and it galvanized my belief that life (or God, the Universe, whatever) has a way of providing for us, even if it doesn’t seem like what we want at the time. Things work out.
Some days are just rough. That’s how life is, because without the rough days, the great days wouldn’t be so wonderful.
Sometimes the darkness and cold of winter sinks into your bones and you forget that spring is just a few months away. You forget to let yourself settle into the slower time, to admire the landscape, and to appreciate the contrast from the hot, busy days of summer that seemed like only yesterday.
Sometimes it feels like your career will never get off the ground, that no one will ever want what you have to offer. You forget that the struggle to create your career is what makes you a stronger business person, and that the fact that your passion drives you forward anyway is a sign that you’re on the right track.
Sometimes it seems like you’ll never get out of debt or have enough money. Sometimes things get so tight that you don’t want to turn on the lights or drive to the library, but things won’t always be this way. It may be a sign that you need to be more conscious of the way you spend, or that you need to explore some unopened income channels.
Sometimes life isn’t fun, but things always change. As cheesy as it sounds, a positive attitude and a bit of patience makes all the difference. Appreciate the moment, be grateful for it, and learn what you can from the current situation, and let go of the outcome.
Everything will turn out all right.
Good morning all you beautiful, unique handprint souls! As part of my Big Scary Monster Series, I’m honored to present to you this amazing guest post from my dear friend Val from Balancing Val. Enjoy!
From a young age, I have always been a bit weird about the green stuff.
Whenever I had any, I saved it. Whenever I spent money on myself, I felt
guilty. I always had this overwhelming belief that I needed to save as
much as I can in case something bad happened. Over the years this belief
developed into a full blown fear. I’m not even sure how this all happened
seeing as how my family always had enough and us 4 kids had a great
childhood, but it did.
As I got older and had my first jobs and bills, things got even more out of
control by staying too IN control if that makes sense.
Sure, there were positives to it. I developed amazing credit at an earlyage and everything was payed on time. But the negative was that I really ONLY spent money on necessities. The rare times that I would spend on myself for pleasure sent me into a vicious cycle of guilt that had me scrimping up the pieces all over again in an uncomfortable restrictive state.
For this reason, it was hard for me to stand up for myself when it came to
taking jobs I didnt really want. Sure, the safest jobs paid the bills and
let me be financially stable, but its not good to be mentally
unstable at a job that isnt nourishing your core. Last year I
decided to take a leap of faith, follow my true passion and go to culinary
school in NYC to become a natural foods chef. Of the many fears that arose, you better believe that money was the scariest. This is the first time in my life
where the future is not certian. The first time in my life where I must
depend on ME and my own dreams to pay a large sum of money
that I borrowed to afford me this opportunity.
The combination of this all prompted me to start scrimping, and come up with a plan so I can save enough for when that “bad” thing happens. In my new found
confidence that came with following my passion, I realized that I couldnt
continue being so scared and something had to change.
So, I started exploring my fear by digging down in the depths of
uncomfortable beliefs and found that I treat money the way I treat myself.
- I never feel like I am enough
- I need to hide my purpose/gifts in case I fail
- I am insecure
As I work on these beliefs, I am noticing that fears are slowly taking a
better turn. I am worrying less about the future and I
now only spend money on what I believe in. I have a crazy exciting
road ahead of me and the only way to make it easier is if I start truly
embracing the things that hold me back, even if its a big scary monster.
Thanks so much Val! Don’t forget to submit your posts for the Big Scary Monster series, link to posts on your own blog or leave your thoughts in the comments! I’ll include links to all submissions in a roundup post at the end of each month for the duration of the series.
Not that that’s a bad thing. I’m very frugal and it’s helped me a lot over the years, but sometimes I toe the line between frugal and downright cheap.
For example, I don’t have health insurance. I’m four months overdue for my annual checkup, I haven’t been to the dentist in three years and I use each pair of contacts much longer than recommended.
Spend out is another rule borrowed from Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. I didn’t include it in my original happiness rules because…well, I really don’t know. Maybe I was afraid, or I didn’t think I had a problem. So I’ve decided to spend out and just cough it up for the things I need that I’ve been putting off.
- Go to the freaking doctor.
- Replace my running shoes
- Look into getting health insurance.
- Get a few new shirts- a bunch of mine are getting holey and threadbare.
- Razor cartridges
- Order new contacts
- Get a dental exam
Also, yesterday I purchased something I’ve never had before: real workout clothes. We’re talking that nice DryWic stuff and clothes that were made for actually exercising instead of ratty t shirts and cutoff sweats. And you know what? I think I worked out harder, I felt stronger.
Buy the things you need .You’re worth it. However, recognize the difference between wants and needs. My wants list:
- iPhone- would be awesome and practical, but I have a perfectly functional Samsung Solstice
- Nicer Camera- the one I have isn’t great. Actually, it’s pretty lousy, but funds don’t allow right now, and I’m not a food blogger or anything so I don’t actually need it right now.
- A mountain bike- don’t have time to use it like I’d like to, and winter’s on the way.
Don’t be cheap. Take care of yourself first. You deserve to be healthy, secure, and happy, so use good judgment and put your money into those areas.