1st Quarter Progress Toward a Better Me

The first quarter of this year is almost in the books, and though Spring is officially “sprung” and the Redbud trees outside our apartment are in full bloom, I still find it hard to believe we are already on the cusp of April. I’d ask the age old question “where does time go?” but I already know the answer. Time, like money, goes exactly where you spend it.

Though the fickle weather kept us indoors more often than we wanted, I’d like to think that we spent the first 3 months of this year at least somewhat wisely. Our goal toward being a “better me” was to Live simply. Prove that we can live a happy, healthy, and prosperous life with less. To do that, we came up with a few objectives. Here’s how we progressed this quarter:

  • Set a budget and stick to it. Strive for no unplanned spending.
    • We received $2,195 in extra (unexpected) income in February so we had to adjust our original budget a bit. This income excludes side hustles, which we won’t see any profit from until April. The largest portion came from our tax refund, but another part was a surprise gift. Of this amount, $1,385 went directly to savings and retirement. The remainder paid for our annual CSA subscription ($295), a new tent ($192), and a trip to the Smoky Mountains.
    • We had four unplanned purchases: a mini greenhouse at Tractor Supply that was marked down to $11.99, $26.22 in personal care items from God’s Green Earth, $14 in gifts, and $11.44 for a lamp (needed, but still unplanned) and cake pan (for my Mom) at Goodwill.
    • In February, we added a charitable giving category to our budget. For every month that we come in under our $250 grocery budget, we’re giving the remainder to one of 3 food-related charities in our area: Society of St. Andrew, Nashville Food Project, or Presbyterian Mission. So far, we have donated a total of $40.60.
  • Buy used when possible.
    • We gave it our best shot when sourcing supplies for our rain barrel project but sadly, we couldn’t find any used gutters at the Habitat Re-Store. We did purchase our bedroom lamp at Goodwill  for $4.99.
  • Eat a mostly plant-based diet, with no more than 10% of meals containing meat.
    • We had 65 completely meatless days (out of 90) or 244 meatless meals. We prepared only 2 meals at home that contained meat (actually seafood). The remaining meats that were consumed were at dinners hosted by my Mom. In total 9% of our meals contained meat.
  • Do something active 3 times a week.
    • Depending on how liberal the definition of “active”, we may or may not have met this goal. When it was too cold to play outside in January, I knitted 3 hats. That’s active, right? Angie, of course, continued to work out several times a week. Together, we went on a couple of hikes, a few walks outside, and a whole lot of walks inside buildings (did you know you can easily walk 2 miles or more inside Walmart while doing side hustles??). We played on the gym equipment at the park once. And we’ve worked in the yard/garden at least twice a week since mid-February. As the weather improves, so will our achievement of this goal (or at least that’s the plan).

Food Waste Update

No food finds this week. Our dumpster is now hidden behind a construction fence and we don’t really want to be caught snooping around behind it. I can’t imagine trying to explain to the police that we’re only interested in the oranges, not the stacks of expensive materials and construction equipment lying about. 

  • Wasted Food this week: 0 ounces
  • Total Wasted Food in 2018: 50 ounces
  • Rescued Food this week:   0 US pounds
  • Total Food Rescued this year:  184.39 US pounds

Keep up with our food finds in real time by viewing our Food Find Gallery.

The Check’s in the Mail!

I am beyond excited to report that on Thursday afternoon at approximately 4:45 PM, we mailed the final check to pay off our car!

Our original plan was to pay it off within 6 months but after filing taxes, we realized we were in a good position to pay it off now. We made only 2 official payments on our installment loan before writing the pay-off check. This was the first year (in about a decade) that I didn’t have extra freelance income to pay taxes on so our refund of $772 was just enough to put our goal within reach.

Almost as exciting as the check itself was the location from which we mailed it. We dropped the check into the mailbox of the post office on Venice Ave. in Venice, FL, just a few blocks from the beach. We didn’t set out to mail the payment 780 miles away from our own mailbox. We were simply out to enjoy a few days on the beach with friends and the check (which I wrote out before we left) just kept riding around in my purse in hopes that we’d come across a post office on the way. The closer we got to our old “home” though, the more it made sense in some cosmic kind of way to payoff our car from the island where we used to spend our free time walking and talking about our hopes and dreams. This was, after all, a dream come true for us. To have the financial flexibility to purchase and pay off a new-to-us car in just under 3 month was something we would never have thought possible 5 years ago when we first began our journey toward minimalism.

Stopping for a picnic during our first road trip in the paid-off “Peanut”.

This morning I sat down with our budget – mostly so I could cross off the car payment from our spreadsheet. It felt really good!

It also felt good to look at our vacation expenses and realize that we’d spent less than $140 in gas for a 2,200 mile road trip. The last time we traveled that far, we spent nearly double the amount in gas. Without a car payment (or last year’s ridiculous car repair expenses), I’m hoping that this will be the first of at least a few more road trip adventures for us this year.

BTW – The Peanut once lived in Florida too. It was a rental car in Orlando for the first year of it’s life. I wonder if it was as happy to be back home as we were?