Too Thrifty Chicks

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Operation Better Don’t: Filet Mignon Tastes on a Do Better Budget

Remember when we told you about our YOLO month in April? Let’s just say we had that kind of month again in June. It wasn’t as bad, and we feel like we were at least conscious of what we were doing, but we still have some stuff to come clean about.

Reese and Ricks’ Good News: Reese was tempted to not do her charitable giving this month, but she did…and guess what? She exceeded the amount she  planned to give. This is the thing she’s most proud of from June. The other thing worth bragging about is she stayed within the $200 budget she set for the NYC trip…yeah! Ricks also stayed within her $200 budget and actually came home with money, like seriously $40! ::hits the running man::

Celebrating Ricks’s Last Day at Work: Celebrating Ricks’ last day at Air Force Times with friends was on June’s calendar. You can read about why she quit here. Reese planned to take care of that and other celebratory things.  Dinner, drinks, and mani/pedis totaled $163. Money well spent considering the magnitude of the event. The goal was to celebrate with no worries and lots of love. Mission accomplished.

Unplanned Expenses: Coffee shops, TJ Maxx, Forever 21, and a search for bowties got Reese this month. Total spent: $220. Ricks’ unplanned spending came in at about $350 with eating out, shopping in preparation for NYC and a brand- spanking-new pair of Chuck Taylors.

Groceries: We failed. Like forreal. We’re embarrassed to even tell y’all how much we spent. ::long pause while we hang our heads in shame:: OK. We’ll tell you. We spent $418 in the grocery store. SOH. That’s not going to happen again. Forreal. Never. We promise.

Moving Forward: Looking at the raw numbers, we know it could be worst. But it’s bad enough. This whole journey is about doing better, right? Here’s are our next steps:

  1. Weekly Finance Meetings: Every Monday, we plan to sit down on our thrifty couch, balance our checkbooks, talk about what we spent and why we spent it, and make whatever adjustments we need to make for the week. This, we hope, will keep our spending consciousness high and helps us stay accountable to each other.
  2. Grocery Shopping: We’ve noticed a trend: When we shop with cash, we’re much more conscious. At one point, we got our grocery spending down under $250. We’re aiming for that again. From now on, we’re going to the grocery store with cash only. What can’t be bought with what we have will have to stay at the store.
  3. Retail Fail? No More. Back to avoiding retail stores. We both fell short under the powers of funky sunglasses, studded tops, and cute pants. No more shopping alone. No more shopping without a list. Heck, no retail stores at all unless it’s an absolute need.
  4. Planned fun. We’re leaving ourselves some grace for spontaneous drives to Fredricksburg for a trip to the Sonic Drive-In restaurant [Don’t judge], and we allow a $20 allowance for spreading some good cheer in the neighborhoods we plan to visit for our Around Town series, which we’ve written about here, here and HERE, ICYMI.

There you have it folks. June in a nutshell. What are you doing to improve your financial health this summer?


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Food for Thought Friday: A Leap of Faith

IMG_4451Three weeks ago, I made the biggest decision I’ve made since I moved to the DMV. Three weeks ago, I decided to quit my job.

Today was my last day at work. And as I prepared for this day, I have checked in with myself repeatedly. I kept looking for fear, but the only thing I kept finding was joy, exhilaration and this otherworldy sense of calm.

In fact, I’m more nervous about writing this post and sharing this decision with the world than I was when I made it.

After 11 years of newsrooms and deadlines, I am no longer a journalist. At least not in the traditional sense. I plan to sustain myself with freelance writing and editing projects, but chasing politicians, and lately generals, for quotes is no longer on my agenda.

I’ll miss many things about the day-to-day grind of the news business, but I’m more excited than I’ve been in a long time about anything.

If I am honest — and honesty is something we place high value on here — this decision was a long time in the making. Over the last half of my career there has been this gnawing sensation that I had I strayed away from why I became a journalist. There was also that feeling that I was supposed to be doing something else.

As you can imagine, Reese and I talk extensively about what we want out of life, what we value and what we don’t. Increasingly, I was frustrated with the amount of personal and professional energy  it took to do my job and with how the news business, in general, is changing. But more importantly, what I believed about who I am and what I truly valued was changing. So much of my identity and who I believed I was had everything to do with being able to say, “I am journalist.”

Over the course of the last year and a half — a time frame in which my best friend died at 32 and my 56-year-old mother was diagnosed with earlier onset Alzheimer’s — I realized being a journalist wasn’t who I am, it was what I had been trained to do. My identity was no longer tied to what I did for a living. The passion I had for the work had slipped and that was starting to show on the job no matter how I tried to cover it up.

After a couple of very uncomfortable conversations, I carried the burden of the choices I had before me to Shenandoah National Park hoping that the quiet of nature would allow me to hear the answer I needed from the universe. On our first night there, thinking about all I needed to do to redeem myself at work left me so frustrated that I struggled to see the quirkiness of Front Royal, Va.

But on the next day, as we prepared to hike and reached a fork in the trail that offered us the option of going left or right, an alternative to redemption at work built in my spirit. “I could quit,” I thought. I quickly tried to dismiss that thought. But it would not let go. I couldn’t even think of doing anything else.  When I finally decided to surrender to the decision to resign, the sense of relief and peace was instant. When I told Reese about it and she said she knew it was coming, my peace was confirmed.

Deep down I knew that this was an opportunity that I was only going to get once. This was going to be my one and only get out of jail card. If I chose to keep going down the path that I was already on, I would regret it. All of this is hard for me to say. I’ve invested a lot of blood, sweat, tears and years in being a journalist, and to go off into the world without any guarantees is so unlike the me I used to be. But the new me has faith that no matter how this plays itself out, whether it ultimately looks like a success to me or anyone else, is not what’s important. What is important is that I realized that life is far too short to not pursue more of what I love and less of what I’m good at. Life is too short not to take a chance, to step out on faith.

Conditions for taking a leap of faith are not perfect. But they never are when you do something like this. That’s why it’s called a leap of faith. I’m going to have to make real money to pay real bills — an adventue to be sure. But a favorite rhetorical question of mine is “What would you do if you could not fail?” My work on answering that question starts now. I’ve got a plan, but I’m sure what God has in store is better than anything I can imagine.

Because something in my spirit is asking, “What if you take this leap of faith and you are successful beyond your wildest dreams?” There is only one way to find out.

Wish me luck.

— Ricks