April 1, 2013

April Challenge: Focusing on Finances

Yesterday was officially the end of my March fashion challenge, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Last night, I had a minor meltdown while packing for the week. It sounds so silly, I know, but I could just not find anything that I thought looked okay together. One of the biggest things I’ve learned from my month of focusing on fashion is that accessories are key, and since I’m pretty much starting from scratch with my jewelry collection, that means starting from scratch with outfits. Not good when it’s already 8:30pm and I have to be up at 4:30am for my flight! Of course, my mood was made worse by the fact that I knew how dumb it was to be stressing about something shallow like fashion, but that didn’t stop me from having a minor meltdown. Sometimes you just get stuck on something and can’t shake it, however irrational it may be!

What I should be stressing about right now, which is a lot more important, is finances. All those shopping sprees have gotten me seriously off track with my savings! Just one pair of boots cost what I would normally spend in a week, so doing all that shopping in only one month’s time has really racked up some hefty credit card bills – and as a result, I saved very little in March. On Friday, I also finally started making some progress on the house I’m purchasing (it’s a short sale, so it’s already been a three month process just to get the bank inspection done – and likely to still take a lot longer to close), which means being careful with my finances is even more important. Lately I have been really lax about my spending, and I think just paying closer attention and being mindful of my purchases will go a long way.

That said, I also know that I certainly didn’t turn into any kind of fashion maven in just one month’s time – and last night made it very apparent that figuring out what (not) to wear is still really stressful for me. But I think I can kill two birds with one stone by having a closet cleaning party, a la Carrie in the SATC movie, and getting rid of everything that doesn’t go with anything else, plus a few items that are just plain tragic. (This does not include my jean miniskirt though; I plan to maintain full veto power.) But in general, I think bringing in some friends, some scorecards, and some wine could make for a fun and low-key afternoon. Plus, when I’m done, I can either donate the items for a tax deduction, or sell some of the nicer stuff on eBay. Fashion and finances covered in one fell swoop!

Even before March, though, there is one other area that was definitely burning a hole in my wallet – fitness classes. I love a great boutique studio (and will likely be posting reviews for several over the next few weeks), but they can be very pricey. Most of the NYC studios are $32 a class, so even if I only go once a week, that’s $128 a month! (And I go a lot more than that.) Obviously, you can get a great workout in without taking boutique fitness classes, but I really love Flywheel and Refine and can’t see myself completely doing without either. Instead, I want to try to mix it up a little more by making those boutique classes treats instead of the core of my workout regimen, and cutting back on the studios that just aren’t my favorites.

As a result of these ruminations on classes, this financial challenge coincides perfectly with another challenge that my good friend Kelly put out there. Kelly is getting married in June, and like many brides, has been busting her butt so that she looks her best on her wedding day. She invited all of her bridesmaids to join her in doing the Beachbody Insanity program starting today, April 1 – we’ll be emailing each other for accountability, and are sure to look fantastic by the time we head to Aspen in June! I’m not 100% sure I want to commit to doing Insanity for that full time period, but I think I can commit for at least the month of April. And since I already did Insanity two years ago and have the DVDs, this month of crazy workouts has a total cost of free for me! You can’t beat that price.

Anything you want to work on in April? Any other tips for either fashion or finances? I’m all ears!


11 thoughts on “April Challenge: Focusing on Finances”

  1. Any thought to a clothing exchange? A great free way to update the wardrobe a touch . . . one woman’s donation is another’s treasure . . .

    I would be up for it and can think of a bunch a pretty runner ladies about the same size that might consider it too!

    1. I love the idea, I was just honestly afraid no one would want my clothes 🙂 But I’d definitely be interested!

  2. A finance challenge sounds like a great idea! Best of luck with it! For April I have a few different items on my goal list, one of which is to watch less TV. That will give me more time to catch up on blogs!

    1. That’s a GREAT goal! I cut back on my TV this year too and was surprised to find I genuinely don’t miss some shows that I used to watch every week without fail.

  3. A financial challenge sounds great – and good timing, being the start of the financial year!

    As for me, I got so bogged down with building mileage and sticking to a schedule this past year (for a marathon I’ve had to postpone due to injury) that I kind of stopped having fun with running – my goal is to find the fun again 🙂

    1. Finding the fun in running is SO important! One of my favorite quotes lately is, “Run often and run long, but never outrun your joy of running.” (Julie Isphorden)

  4. I’ll go in with you on the financial challenge. There are a number of frivolous purchases I make in a month that should just go. A big one lately is the habit of buying a coffee and pastry in the morning from a local shop. Totally useless considering I also like to make my own breakfast. It is a small change, but enough small changes start adding up over time.

    Two other things I’d like to make happen: organize my regular bills to begin an annuity/life insurance account (in additional to my employers retirement acct) and continue to buy small amounts of silver whenever I can.

    1. Danny, so far I’ve been good about giving up those little luxuries (no more clothes/jewelry shopping!), but I haven’t been great about the big ticket items. I think this challenge, like many of the others, is going to last much more than just a month…

    2. I think you just hit on the secret to economics and Life: it is not just about the next day or month but also about the next year or ten years. You and I and anyone else reading this blog need to develop the habit of making decisions not just for the future, and not just for now, but with perspectives simultaneously.

      FYI so far I am good on forgetting the little purchases, the trick will be beyond this month being able to say no to some of those larger purchases.

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