It’s the ‘New Year, new me’ month

January is actually a pretty depressing month; the holidays are all over so you may be a little broke, very overfed and if you live in the midwest like me, it’s ungodly cold outside. I had a glorious week off from work where I slept in until 8 AM ish everyday and ENJOYED it! However, the cold and snow prevented me from going places and doing some thing I wanted to, including having fun on New Years Eve. It’s better to be safe than sorry and wind up frozen to death in a ditch somewhere. It’s not a settling thought knowing this weather could literally kill me. These periods of arctic chill continually make me wonder why we willingly choose to live here?

It takes all of this month to get your normal groove back on again but if you are one of those that jump on the New Years resolution bandwagon it’s alright that it takes you a month to figure out what your new normal will be. I only see the new year as an exciting time I can bust out my fresh and shiny new Eric Condren Life Planner. There are 12 whole months or 52 weeks for me to plan and write out my days, weeks, months, goals, ambitions, fun, etc. I didn’t make any resolutions or goals with the new year, I sort of started doing that in November while in between jobs and trying to figure out where I’m going next. I figure why think in terms of a new year but more of how I did two months ago, just start today. Don’t just talk about it, just do it.

This week while back at work and talking with my co-workers, everything just made me sad. New Years Day fell on a Monday so even though we went back on Tuesday, the day felt like a Monday. Getting up at 5 to be at work by 6 AM is pretty awful in the sub zero wind chill hell. The parking lot feels bigger like you are walking across Siberia. There a huge blizzard and very cold temps like we’ve seen here that will be hitting the East Coast where who knows how many lives it will claim. Sadly this year Tyler and I will not be taking our January trip to Cancun as we are saving for house projects and hopefully a bigger trip in the fall. This past week has made me feel more devastated that we can’t escape the frozen tundra of Iowa this January. *sigh*

It’s easy for me to feel even more depressed thinking about things that happened to me in 2017 or things I wanted to happen that didn’t: I didn’t get to go on an international trip with my girl friend, I didn’t get that job I wanted after quitting my former job because of a toxic environment which caused me to go back working somewhere I told myself I wouldn’t have to go back to. I know I’m not alone in thinking there were some dark days in 2017 but I can’t deny that this past year brought some pretty fantastic events:

-Even though there was no international trip, I still went on the other 2 of the 3 trips I had planned out: Cancun with Tyler and Las Vegas.
-I paid off my student loans! (Reason for Vegas trip, to celebrate and see Britney Spears!)
-I sold my old car that I’ve needed to for some time and bought a new (to me) car! This car is bought and paid for, so no loans for me to deal with. I had to deal with some repairs but I didn’t get financially strapped by them!
-Becoming debt free and beginning to really build up my savings
-We adopted an adorable beagle mix puppy named Nikki. I never thought this little dog could bring so much warmth and happiness into our home. I’m thankful for our third family member every day.
-Even though I’m back working somewhere I didn’t want to, it’s providing me with money and insurance while I continue to look for ways to get back on my career track.
-Tyler and I drove up to see his family in Northern Michigan with our puppy so we got a nice little four day vacation at the end of June.
-Besides two shows in Vegas I went to go see on my trip, my super awesome brother in law got me a ticket to go see one of my favorite bands up in the cities with him, my hubs and their older brother. I felt lucky even if this meant being the only female driving a car load of three brothers up to the show and back home after not getting home until 4 AM.
-I went shopping in May and November with some great girl friends. The trip in November is an overnight so I’m lucky to have three gal pals to hotel it up with. Even when the pool and hot tub area was closed for repairs. :S

My list of good things that happened could go on and with what I have down outweighs the bad of 2017. I hope you can create a very long list that is pages and pages of all the good things that have happened to you in 2017, but only after you write down the bad from 2017 and when finished, crumple it up and throw it away. There is always something to be thankful for and always a new day or week in a new planner to write in. Sorry if that’s corny but don’t just get hung up on waiting for a new year, you can start a change and a new year today.

Like this cold weather I would like nothing more than to teleport away from, the next good day and time is coming. The forecast for next week is showing temps above freezing, so there is a light at the end of this tunnel that I know by the name of January.

Writing is hard when you’re unemployed, apparently…

You think after being unemployed for five weeks, I would be cranking out all sorts of writings during this time. In actuality it’s been a lot harder than it sounds. I just don’t feel I have anything of importance to share or I just can’t get all my ideas or thoughts out of my head onto something in document form. This just sucks, no other way to describe it. I bore myself. Blah blah. This just sucks.

I guess I could give an overview on how I have been spending my unemployment:

Week 1:
The most important thing I wanted to establish was a daily routine. I would wake up with my husband when his alarm went off at 7-7:30 ish and let our dog Nikki out while having my coffee with him. His work schedule was not regular this week so it was nice to have our coffee hour before he went to work between 8:30 and 9. After he would leave, I would go to the Y and work out for an hour. My Y membership was only going to last two weeks after my last day of work so I wanted to use it while I still could. After my workout I would shower, get dressed, and did hair and makeup things. Even without a job, I wanted to treat my unemployment like it was my job so I would never just lie around in the clothes I slept in all day. After my getting dressed and made up time I would make a fruit smoothie and have a salad for brunch (I’ve found myself only eating two times a day during this period). Throughout the day I would be job searching or researching ways to make money by freelance writing. I still could use some help with this if any one reading this blog knows how I can freelance writing articles or columns for sites or other publications. There was always house work like cleaning, cookies or other wifely duties to occupy my time. I would try and have a meal ready for both me and Tyler whenever he finally could leave work for the night. I’m the Treasurer on the Board of Directors for our local community theater so I was writing checks and ordering equipment needed for our Christmas show as well as attend our monthly Board Meeting.

It’s important to network, socialize and spend time with family and friends during an unemployment. My first week I had a dinner meeting with a fellow local blogger who gave me great insight and advice on the many things you can do with a blog. That Thursday night I attended a meeting for another local organization I’ve involved in so it was good to still be involved with something I was before I became jobless. I rounded out the week by spending time with my sister and her daughter as well as a big birthday party for all my nieces and nephews on my husband’s side of the family. Being around the little ones keep me in good spirit.

Week 2:

The second week followed the same kind of routine but with hubby having hours shifted again, I started working out at the Y in the late afternoon or early evening. This would be the last week I could use my membership. More job applications were sent out, more errands were ran for the community theater, more cleaning at home, groceries, cooking. This week I went on a two day shopping trip with some girls from work. This trip was planned way before I resigned and figured since the hotel only cost each of us $19.00 for the night, it wouldn’t be a bad thing. It was a challenge but I managed to not do a lot of shopping on this girls’ shopping trip. Just using store coupons that I get each year for my birthday. I didn’t mind, having an overnight up in the Twin Cities with girl friends was all I could ask for.

I slowly began to realize I kind of developed some rules and guidelines for myself during this time:

-I don’t watch TV or turn it on during the day. Unless I’m working out using routines I found on Youtube.

-Get out of bed before 9 AM

-Shower, get dressed and put on makeup/ do hair. Look like you have somewhere to be

-Try not to spend money (Only buy things you need so don’t go out for drinks. You can’t afford that until you have a job again)

-I shouldn’t sit or lounge in the living room until the evening. There is always work that needs to be done or something to keep me busy.


Week 3:

My workout time started to happen at home now. I interviewed at a local coffee place but didn’t hear back. More of the same with job searching and sending out applications. I was able to meet a friend later that week that I haven’t hung out with for awhile so it was nice to meet her for a short girls night. I had two date nights with my husband on the Friday and Saturday of this week, we were long overdue for them.

Week 4:

At the start of the week I was beginning to feel very frustrated and a little depressed. However we had a nice day weather wise that week so I took Nikki for a 2 hour walk and it helped take care of those feelings. This week was also Thanksgiving so we had two family meals to go that that week. Luckily not on the same day; one Thursday and the other on Saturday. My birthday was that Friday and it was SUCH a nice day weather wise. I don’t think I remember the weather ever being that nice. So me and Nikki took another walk. My birthday night wasn’t so great but I won’t get into that. I did however raise $85. on Facebook for the Humane Society of North Iowa so that’s another good thing that happened.

Week 5:

After I had my annual eye exam and another interview in town, I decided to reach out to a co worker who still worked for a company I used to. Even though I was getting interviews, they weren’t a guarantee and more time was passing. I needed to make money as soon as I could. I asked if they had any openings where I used to work. Everything kind of happened fast after that: I was called in for an interview, I met with the new supervisor, I was offered a job and had to take the pee test for pre employment drug screening. Didn’t realize I would find employment after 5 weeks but I see this as only temporary and am still following up on other applications and interviews. I’m lucky that I will have a source of income again.

When I resigned my job in October, stating my last day was the 27th, my goal was to have something in line by November 6th. I didn’t meet that goal but I knew that I wouldn’t be unemployed for over three months like I was six years ago when I went through a lay off. Ill take five weeks over three months.

These past five weeks have flown and I can’t believe tomorrow I start back at somewhere I worked for two and half years. It won’t be bad and I will work hard for however long I’m here. Like I said I hope it’s only temporary because I have goals I would like to pursue.

Hopefully there will be more soon.

Nowhere but forward…

It’s been noticeable that it has been quite some time that I’ve last written or posted anything; this is for good reason. Something’s been on going in my life relating to the post I wrote back in June about work and depression. I haven’t been able to really write anything because everything was so up in the air as I’ve tried to figure out how to change the situation I have been living in. Now I can finally write because even though I still don’t know for sure what I’m going to do at least I just know for a fact it’s nowhere but forward from here:

After months of dealing with my employer and a toxic, unorganized work environment, I decided after failed attempts of trying to transfer out of my department, I resigned from my job and put in my two weeks. At the time of my resignation, I had one interview in the town where I live done but nothing else lined up. During my final two weeks, I had another interview at somewhere 20 miles away but came in 2nd as another candidate got the job over me. So here I am, officially unemployed with nothing officially in place. Yes I am a little scared and worried but I know I’m capable of finding something.

It was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make and when I explain to those who know me the best, they’ve seen what I’ve been going through over the past year and understand as they’ve seen my ups, downs and frustrations as my mental health deteriorated. I was originally going to make this decision in June but I just kept pushing through no matter how miserable I was because I knew as an adult I couldn’t just leave a full time job with benefits without having something else lined up. I planned to keep going but after one day when I had to deal with a lose lose situation my superior tried to put me in, I then decided enough was enough and I took this as my opportunity to leave on my terms. I couldn’t write and complain about my employer and still don’t want to do it even after I left but now at least I can write about how I plan on making a come back some how.

This week I’ve been taking care of my mental health by going to the Y every day, while I still have a Y membership that is, and start to write again as well as put my feelers out for jobs. I’m a part of the North Iowa Bloggers and I hope I can at least do something with my writing. At this time even focusin on writing is such a challenge. What makes me unique? I’m just another white girl who likes to travel but I don’t want to be another Samantha Brown, she sucks. At least I have my own personality and feel that women who host travel shows deserve to do what male travel show hosts do. I hope I can find a way to make my voice be heard for how different I am from all that want to do what I do for a living.

Right now I don’t know what I am going to do, all I know is I have to take one day at a time. I have hope and determination I will find something and have a job again no matter what I end up doing.

March My Wellness Month: Week 4

With every passing year of my 20s, I’ve slowly accepted more ways of adulting: saving money and being financially stable have become more evident with time. The habit to spent and not to save is a really hard habit to break though looking at my past I could have been much worse. I didn’t have a real credit card until years after college when I needed it to rent a car. The only debt I had after college were the loans themselves. The couple years after college working my first entry level job were spent being very broke but taking care of myself in a cheap one bedroom apartment. I never put money aside, I just figured that after paying bills, student loans, groceries, etc that if I still had money left and didn’t go in the red I was ok. Even if you only have a couple of dollars left, I still should have started the routine and get in the habit of saving SOMETHING.
After going through a layoff and being unemployment at age 24 for almost a year I still managed to get by and not use assistance of any kind. I owe it all to the simple budgeting skills I had developed and knowing what to cut; which in my instance the only thing I had to get rid of was cable. Luckily I lived in a building were the units were kind of funky and even after I cancelled, I still got all the channels anyway. Shhh! Haha come on, if you were broke and unemployed you would take advantage of that free shared analog cable too!! I also decided this was the time to quit smoking. The last pack of cigarettes I bought was on August 25th, 2011 and for a couple of months after Tyler and I would share when we would go out on the weekends. Eventually this gradually cutting back helped me kick the habit. Tyler’s last cigarette was Thanksgiving weekend of 2011 and I followed a couple of month after.
When you break the cost it saved me: I smoked an average of a pack and a half to two packs a week at the most. When I quit Camel Crush’s ran $6.50 a pack. So $6.50 X 1.5= $9.75 to $13.00 a week. That’s $507. to $676. a year!! If you are a smoker who’s short on cash QUIT SMOKING!! No excuses!!! Think of your health!!
I have to laugh now at when I went out to the bar I also budgeted, which was often because what else do you do when you can’t even get an interview and you spend all day job searching, cleaning, playing guitar, and going for walks? I would walk into the VIP with a 10 or 20 and when that was gone so was I. I could get a couple of drinks, tip and get a song or two on the jukebox if I wanted.
Fun side story: That same time period from the layoff to finding a part time job and still drawing unemployment: it was Halloween season and I’m a huge fanatic and love going all out. I realized this year I also needed to cut back. Having TOO much time and very little money, I decided why not make my costume this year? Using a recycled Xena costume, pieces found on Amazon, consignment stores and supplies from Hobby Lobby: I spent over a month making myself into Lady Gaga! I loved the look from the Edge of Glory music video.

(These three from the video are not my photos! I found on google images.)

Anyway on to wrapping up the story of my broke ass: Finally after a year had passed I was now 25, I was employed full time again with better pay and benefits! Tyler, my then boyfriend, bought a house and I moved in with him. All the joys of cohabitation and no more outdated small apartment with annoying neighbors who I could hear bang frequently like clockwork! At this time besides my loans (which I still continued to pay during my unemployment), I had accumulated more short term debt: I owed $2000. to my dad for a car I bought from him before the layoff and another $2000. in hospital bills for having to get my tonsils taken out. I was lucky that is happened when it did because I was young enough to be back on my mother’s health insurance. My dad had me hold off on payments to him until I was employed full time again. If I had to be unemployed for a period in my life I’m glad fate picked this time. While working at Winnebago making bank by being on so much overtime, I took care of these two debts within 10 months. If my bank account got big, I would move the over flow to savings. That wasn’t bad I started to save then but it still didn’t get me into a habit of saving a set amount and more into having fun with all the money I was making. I did have fun wisely, I took a bitchin trip out to Vegas to see friends and drove a BRAND NEW Mustang with only 3 miles on it out to LA and back putting over 600 miles on it. I’m more for experiences than blowing my money on a shopping spree. I’m the best wife ever only for the fact I hate Coach purses and would never spend hundreds of dollars on a purse or anything like that.

January of 2015 when I started working at Waldorf at age 28 I finally decided that being almost 30 I need to start getting more serious about saving. Getting paid once a month can be the pits but in a way it helps SOO much with budgeting. I started the habit of what was left over at the end of the month before the next check got deposited would go into savings. In April I decided to take up a part time job so I could build a savings up faster. It was also time to look at where my money was being wasted and what could be cut. At work I had been putting money on my ID card to eat at the grab n go lunch place. Putting money on the card saved money on tax and if you put $50. on, you would have $5.00 added on. So pay $50. and get $55. However if you put 50 bucks a month on this card like I did, that added up to $600. a year! I could go back to Vegas for that amount.
Something I have also implemented was the Penny A Day savings I kept seeing over Facebook and on Pinterest:

“365 Day Penny Challenge: Day 1- Save $.01, Day 2- Save $.02, Day 100- $1.00, Day 365- $365. By the end of the year you will have saved $667.95 and it will seem like nothing throughout the year.”
I have been making deposits from checking to savings once a month at the beginning and so far:
January: $4.96
February: $13.36
March: $23.56
Bringing this to a grand total of: $41.88, so far so good but the only possible flaw that I can see is toward the end of the year when the amount per day goes up this is the holiday season and that can conflict with trying to shop for Christmas. Hopefully if this can be executed along with not eating at the Warrior Crossing this can put $1267. extra in my savings by the end of the year.
This month of no drinking has made me save a ton of money $20-$30. per week. Besides being busy with my graduate course, play practice and bartending two nights a week, I have no time to spend money on fun. It literally pays to be boring and busy, haha. I do like having fun though but after taking a break, it will be easier to go back and manage how much fun I decide to spend.
One last little tip I have for anyone who is my age, you know the lingering pain of student loans but they really don’t have to be. After consolidating my loans; my minimum payment has always hovered between $100. and $150. a month. I want these fuckers gone so I started paying over $200 a month, bumping it up to $300. a month after a couple years and then finally to $400. a month a couple more after that. Always pay more than the minimum payment if you can! The sooner you attack the principal amount the sooner it will be paid off and there will be less interest paid in at the end. My goal when I started paying back my federal loans was have them paid off by the time I’m 30. I’m happy to say that next year I will be 30 and my student loans WILL BE PAID OFF!! 🙂 Eeek! Oh that just gets me so excited I might just pee my pants.

That is all for this week, please like, comment, share this post. Also comment here with any tips, questions, concerns. I like to hear what anyone else who reads does in all the areas I have covered over the last month. Next week is the final March Wellness entry and my final weight in! How much will I lose over last year? Stay tuned!!