August is Financial Fitness Month (for me, at least!)

We’re nine days into August, and the month is off to a good start financially (measured in habits, progress, and dollars).  There are three key reasons I’m kicking it into high gear:

1.  I won’t have any regular income when I’m student teaching in the spring.  I will still try to squeeze in a few babysitting jobs, and I might get to work a Saturday or two at the store, but I need to prepare for that time as if I won’t have any income.  I have an ING savings account designated for February-April.  So far, I’ve only been making tiiiny contributions, but I’m ready to step it up.  I’ll need to account for regular fixed expenses (health insurance, CreditKeeper, and JuicePlus), variable expenses (gas), and spending money. 

2.  I have had a few health issues over the last few months.  While I’m hopeful that my health concerns can be taken care of relatively easily, the presence of the issues has meant that I’ve:

a) made initial appointments for my specific concerns (one with family doctor, one with a periodontist)

b) scheduled a physical to get a more comprehensive look at my health and body (I’ve never actually had one, I’ve relied instead on my annual OBGYN visit)

c) considered the financial impact of the results of these appointments (maybe just the immediate cost of these appointments if they don’t require follow-up visits; more likely, there will be follow-up visits or treatments)

3. My American Express is expiring at the end of the month.  I have an incredibly generous uncle who gave me an American Express to use for gas and schoolbooks.  It has been a game changer over the last few years in school!  It expires at the end of this month, and I doubt that I’ll be getting a new card in its stead.  I have a flurry of emotions about this.  I feel enormous gratititude for having had the card, even though I’ve felt guilty for having it, too.  I’m eager to be more financially independent (after all, I’m 26, living with my parents, and still not paying my own car insurance…), but I’m a little stressed about the upcoming cost of gas for my commute (even though I think it’s reasonable that I should be paying for it).  So I’m some mix of grateful, stressed, and relieved. 

So, given these three motivators, what am I doing in response?

1.  I’ve rekindled my relationship with no-spend days.  Here’s what the month has looked like so far:

August 1: No Spend Day!

August 2: No Spend Day!

August 3: No Spend Day!

August 4: Gas Only

August 5: No Spend Day!

August 6: $5.00 for a drink and a tip (celebrating with the bridal party of a wedding I was in; I mainly joined the group because a dear friend from Boston was in town; totally worth it!)

August 7: No Spend Day!

August 8: $15.01 for lunch for my boyfriend and I (at our favorite restaurant in Atlanta, LaFonda Latina, while we were in town for the day for his doctor’s appointment; I LOVE their fish tacos!)

August 9: No Spend Day so far! 

(Note: I don’t consider savings contributions or my three drafted bills–health insurance, CreditKeeper, or JuicePlus–as “spending”)

2.  I’ve actively pursued side income.  My most effective means of earning extra income tends to be babysitting (as opposed to Amazon.com sales, consignment sales, etc.).  Here’s what the month looks like so far:

August 1: $100 babysitting

August 3 & 4: $200 for helping my aunt at her school (she’s a principal), $75 for helping my grandmother (we spent 12 hours going through items in her kitchen/desk area)– both of these payments should be considered gifts more than income because they were more generous than they should have been! 

I had another babysitting job for the 8th, but my Little Sis had to take it for me (thanks!!) because I was later getting home from Atlanta than I anticipated.

I have 7 or 8 other babysitting jobs scheduled for the rest of the month.  Some are only for two hours, some are all day.  For three of the gigs I am giving up 3 hours at work to be able to babysit.  In each of these cases, the babysitting job was 5 or more hours, so I decided the trade was worth it.  So that means I can’t consider all of my babysitting income as “above and beyond” my current work schedule, but most of it will be!

I have a few other goals for the month, side-income-wise:

  • take at least 4 additional pieces to the consignment store (and check to see if my couple of pieces from Spring sold; probably not very much $ even if they did)
  • add at least 3 items to Amazon.com
  • let the families I regularly babysit for know my schedule/availability for September

3.  I’ve gotten ready to open a Roth IRA.  The timing (ie, yesterday’s stock market + the recent credit rating downgrade) is throwing me for a loop, but I’m all ready, otherwise.  I’d like to know that even if I have a health setback I have a retirement savings account in place.  I have filled out the application at Vanguard, moved the $1000 from ING to Bank of America… now I’m just waiting to make it happen.  I don’t know what’s best… invest without thinking of timing, wait a couple months for things to settle, purchase while things are low… who knows??

This month has felt good financially because I have been more proactive.  I also feel like the more I trim my expenditures, the more I can save until student teaching AND the less I’ll have to save for while I’m student teaching.  I hope I can ride this momentum for a while!

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