My “financial diet” midpoint report card…

C+. That’s the best I can realistically come with at the end of the first 15 days of what I call my “financial diet,” and certainly some room for improvement. It would’ve been a far worse grade, except I did manage to figure out where I was going wrong and started to make changes, improving the “grade” a bit.

First of all, I will say the first week went very well. I mean, in the sense of following the plan. It was a bit tough, but I had it in mind and reminded myself constantly of my goals and why. Not the happiest point of my days, and actually last Friday was one of the best therapy sessions I’d had in ages. I was curbing spending big time and happy that my account balance wasn’t dropping like a rock.

And then, I tried to do my taxes. I had to pay someone to help (huge unanticipated expense). Then I spiraled.

Because of some old accounts linked to dad’s name and all, I had to get a tax pro’s help (online wouldn’t let me go further without paying out the nose, so I figured I’d have to just go to the office and get it done). Plus I’d just gotten some tricky questions answered, and owed a lot more than I was comfortable with.

So of course, the smart decision after finding out you’re going further into debt is… spending more money to make yourself feel better?

Forehead, meet hard surface. Surface, meet forehead. You’ll be besties in no time if I keep this stupid crap up.

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The past week made it very clear that emotional spending and emotional eating go hand in hand with me, something that I don’t think I’d really grasped before. So, to go with my crap financial diet, my mostly clean eating devolved into days of junk food and binges, which wasted MORE money.

Ugh! After all the time and effort I’d spent getting ON the freaking wagon in the first place, and installing seatbelts and guardrails to hang onto along the bumps… there I went. Thankfully, it was a short (for me) binge duration and my exercise and water intake curbed the worst of it. I managed to increase my water intake big time (got a 1/2 gallon jug to drink from every afternoon and it’s helping so much… especially on the few days I was NOT working out to ensure those 8 cups a day… one of my “not totally necessary” expenses, which knocks a few points off my report card, but the benefit outweighs the negative here).

The one thing that went entirely right this week was adding strength training to my workouts after I’d managed to keep consistent with the cardio for weeks on end with few missed days. Taught me a lot, but more about that later.

Anyhoo, last Friday afternoon’s tax appointment just threw me for a loop so badly. I went for my first junk food afterward because traffic sucked and my eating schedule had been thrown off. And then came the spiral downward. I’d completely forgotten my plan and what I was restricting spending on. Did a couple big A store purchases (exercise related, but still could’ve waited). Then I got odd news regarding that car payment plan I was on where I had to bounce back and forth on the phone to see what the hell happened. I’d just paid some bills online then got word that I got charged twice from this auto pay setup (cue me not sleeping well for a couple of days because I was anticipating lots of overdraft fee charges).

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It’s so strange how the “all or nothing” mentality has become reflexive with me and I didn’t even know it. I mean, I’ve known I’ve had the tendency to think “all or nothing” in regards to health, exercise, and to-do lists. But no idea that some facet of it exists in my poor financial choices. With those other things, I’d realize what I was doing in some fashion and just rationalize it. This financial crapshow felt reflexive: I didn’t talk myself into it or debate it; it just happened and I figured it out last night with the plan of reigning it in and starting over this morning.

Regarding purchases, there were (mostly) things I needed in some fashion, but some things I probably could’ve worked around a bit longer. But since I literally had the money to take care of ’em now (and no guarantee I could later… my afterthought of a rationalization), I just did it. I tried to keep the purchases small, but I was running out of necessities like laundry soap (which I had planned for as an exception) and I got some more workout gloves (sticky-palm ones work best with the rower; non-sticky with barbells and the like). I got a great deal online for several pairs (lucked out there) so that I can wash them more often. Needed a long-handled bottle brush so I could properly clean my big thermos and my skinny water bottles, too. Didn’t spend anything on work that wasn’t needed, but unfortunately, that loose wallet led to a loose schedule somehow.

That’s the part that startled me the most. I partly blame the weather and the abrupt chill in the early mornings. I know, now it’s barely April, but usually down here in Texas it’s not in the low 40s first thing in the morning (or at least, not when I head to the shed by 5:30 to work out). The wind knocked power out so I missed my wake-up and work-out window yesterday (overslept by 2.5 hours; it was so chilly and the covers so warm I didn’t want to get up, or else I would’ve noticed sooner). Three days before, I’d gotten home late from work and the store where I’d gone to find parakeet seed (took 3 stops of all things) and got to bed late, slept in the other morning, too.

I wondered if I could actually enjoy trying to get up at 5 a.m. every day, and that first week, I actually was. Well, 5:15 to be more accurate. I wanted to do some game campaigning early (take care of my targets so no one was stuck waiting on me hours later), go work out, come in and get the pets and take ’em out, make coffee, feed birds, shower, etc. The only thing that hasn’t changed is roughly when I feed the birds and take the dogs out because they don’t need that crap. But it really messes with my whole day when I can’t get my workout done first thing in the morning. I didn’t today, either, and will eventually work out at some point because I don’t have to factor my job into today’s schedule. I missed working out yesterday because of the mess, and my eating schedule was thrown off because of it… cue 3 days of fast food in a row because of my lack of good planning. I was practically starved halfway through my shift yesterday and couldn’t wait to get out to get something to eat, even though I’d packed a snack to take with. It just wasn’t enough food after all that mess and I was still crazy hungry, so I hit a drive thru. I didn’t want to wait an hour to eat at home and then have that keep me up til midnight, making my sleep patterns harder to get on track.

So, today I’m assessing where I messed up and seeing what did well the first half of the trial and what fell apart. I figured a lot of this out last night (and a little this morning). My initial exceptions don’t need changing from what I can tell right now. It’s just getting that groove back and tightening the belt a bit. I had to groan a bit looking at my receipts from the past week, and I’m downing some coffee to wake myself up and get me going. I hope if I get my caffeine in before noon and keep the water consistent (and get back to the rest of my eating schedule), then I’ll get tired and get to sleep easier tonight and be able to re-start properly tomorrow.

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Yeah, dude. Freaking gonna start over, enjoy it, and stick with it.

Granted, my work schedule’s different on Saturdays than the rest of the week, so it’s gonna take some real timing to get my workouts in and the animals taken care of (and a shower for me), but I think I’ve got things timed well enough that I won’t make myself forget to eat (and consequently binge on junk later, wasting more money). I’ve got shorter workouts planned, it’s just adding the strength training in that’s kinda thrown the timing a bit off. I want to take my time and do it right (not too much, just need to remember proper form and whatnot and not give myself a cramp). I want to avoid the fierce soreness and injuries that would put me on my ass for 2 or 3 days to recover. I did realize I was over-planning again and needed to leave in a “recovery” or “make-up” day each week. If I end up having to skip a workout session, I’ll use that day as recovery and Sunday will be my make-up day. Less guilt that way, which will help consistency (and help me listen to my body better).

I just found it neat how the first week, as things were going well, my health was steadily improving, too. Lost about 3 pounds and had more energy, better sleep, and less stress because I was thinking about other things than money and my bad habits. Lost maybe half a pound at most this week, inconsistent schedule, less sleep, more stress, worse food, and reckless spending due to a few monkey wrenches. I gotta learn how to deal better with setbacks, and in the next week or so, meditation’s definitely on my list of must-re-learn’s.

And since I’ll have most of my bills paid by the time the weekend ends, it’s the perfect time to reassess. Probably shoulda thought of that before, but I’ll consider the first half of this trial as a necessary experiment to really see what I have to work with when all bills are paid and it’s down to the daily basics.

Well, lots of work to do to re-do the financial diet plan, but I at least know it was somewhat workable. At least the first week. I was so much less stressed and focused on the necessary for the moment. I want to get back to that and will work on it, reminding myself to avoid spending. Just pay the bills this weekend and realistically see what’s to come and plan for in the next few months. It’s gonna take ages to get out of debt, but keeping to the diet will make it feel far less hopeless than I was feeling a few months ago.

Hope the taxman didn’t gouge your hide too badly (I’m gonna whimper when I have to write that check, I just know it), and that you have a healthy all-around day.

I’m a work in progress, but at least I’m working it… somehow (hee hee).

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3 thoughts on “My “financial diet” midpoint report card…

  1. Andrew says:

    I’ve yet to meet anyone that likes the taxman. Necessary evil that is a required penance to participate in a civilized society. The working out, eating right, sticking to a budget “hamster wheel” is something I’m all too familiar with that I’ve had fits and starts over the last several years. I can offer no advice unfortunately as from what you’ve said, you’re doing everything right, just don’t have the recipe quite right. Eventually it comes together, and a stride is found. Small world as well, I work remotely for USAA and their home office is in San Antonio 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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