Wednesday, May 4, 2016

April 2016 Month in Review



This month I bought a lot of stuff, but I also returned a lot of stuff, so I ended up squeaking by in my budget. I probably spent $25 or so on return shipping, though. I'm glad I'm ruthless about returning things, since paying return shipping is ultimately more frugal than keeping something I don't wear and then donating it after a year or so. At the same time, it's getting a little silly. Not buying things is even more frugal, and more environmentally friendly, than wasting all that shipping time/money/energy.

Cut Out The Middle Fail

For my planned Big Clothing Purchase for April, I bought a $150 pair of leather flats with minimalist soles from a small company that I felt good about buying from. But when I received them, I realized there was no way they would fit, because they expected a fundamentally different foot shape. So, I returned them ($10 return shipping), but I didn't replace them with another Big Clothing Purchase. Instead, I bought a $45 pair of flats, which violates Nut's Cut Out the Middle Rule, but we'll see if they end up working. I haven't received them yet, so I'm not sure if they'll be good or bad.

Actually, I've violated the Cut Out The Middle Rule with almost all of my purchases this month. But the rest of the things I've gotten have either been mopping up lower priority items from the Buy With Intention list; experiments; discounts; or items that just don't cost that much, like soft lounge and workout clothes. I've basically been ordering running clothes and accessories at a 1:1 ratio with the number of times I've gone running. One the one hand, it certainly feels silly to continually upgrade for such a basic hobby, especially one I've shown very little commitment to. On the other hand, I feel like supporting my desire to run is a better use of money than supporting my desire to, say, eat junk food or play phone games. Like, at least running is a constructive, positive use of my time. So maybe I don't mind bribing myself a little bit.

Getting Up Early Update

Getting up early has been going fantastic! I've gotten up with very little fuss between 6:30 and 7 most mornings, and taking a walk is a wonderful default behavior for first thing in the morning. In April, I saw 42 birds, which is half of my Life List. My morning walk has been a great time to enjoy sunshine and nature on a regular basis, so I don't feel rushed to squeeze it all in on the weekends.

A few times I've dawdled in bed until 7:20 or so, which means I don't have time for the full two mile walk--so I've gone running! (Hence the desire to buy new running clothes.)

If you had told me a month ago that I'd be getting up at 7:20 in the morning to go running before work, I'd have told you: "No way! That doesn't sound like me!" Previous attempts to be virtuous and exercise before work have completely failed. I think it was absolutely key that I started the getting up early habit by drawing myself out of bed with something I really wanted to do. I would never have dragged myself out of bed purely to run, since I don't really like running all that much. But if I am already wide awake, because that is just my schedule now, with a weirdly-sized block of time that's too short to do a long walk and too long to do nothing, I might as well run!

(I also use the fact that I don't really like running as a sort of threat to get myself going in a timely fashion in the morning. Better put down my phone and get out of bed and get started on my walk or I'll have to go running! But I also found myself thinking a few times last week, "Actually, I don't care if I go for a walk or a run." If I ever have that attitude, I have to RUN WITH IT literally LOL)

A couple more ways I'm going to try to support my running habit in May:
  • Designate certain days for running; I'm thinking Tuesday/Friday
  • Record my runs with Runkeeper, to keep socially accountable with my friends list
  • Save certain podcasts to listen to while running, particularly bright happy chatty ones. "Throwing Shade" is already my Friday morning runcast.


May Purchase Planning

Reviewing my Cut Out The Middle plan, I realize that my April goal was the flats (in progress), and my May goal was a linen blazer. But I ended up getting a cheap linen blazer in March which I think will be sufficiently satisfactory (not that I've worn it because, actually, it's still wool blazer weather). I actually don't have an expensive item lined up for May, but I do have an expensive nonclothing desire: I'd like to get a superzoom camera so I can finally start taking pictures of birds. I know, I know, I've always said I don't want to be a bird photographer, just a bird watcher, but now that I take so very many walks, I'm starting to really see the value in being able to capture some gorgeous morning visuals--not just birds, but also flowers, trees, the way the sunlight reflects on the pond... Besides, I've started actually using my Instagram, so maybe I should learn to operate a camera, not just take Vaseline-lens-looking snaps with my greasy phone.

Maybe May will actually be the first month of my LIFE where I don't focus on my wardrobe!!(!)

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