April Spending Update

It is the same banal question at the end of every month – how on earth is it the end of April already? This month was full of activities and adventures – we spent a long-weekend hiking, I went to an Inner Peace Party (more on that in a future post, but it was a revelation), I hosted a few events at work, began coordinating yoga classes at work, kick-started a fitness program for young lawyers, and went out (a lot).

Spending

This financial assessment is based solely on my $120/week discretionary dollars; it doesn’t consider what we cutely call our ‘team account’ spending, which encompasses rent, food, petrol, and other miscellaneous life necessities. It also doesn’t include personal health insurance, phone bills and other boring costs. The motivation between dividing it up this way was for me to focus more specifically upon my personal spending habits. As a passionate discretionary spender, I have never really faced the true cost of my love of clothes, stationery and other miscellaneous life items that I view as needs, and most view as wants. I started tracking my spending in this category only, which has thrown up some interesting habits.

So without further ado, my spending (set out as the week ending the date in the top row):

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The total amount I was able to set aside for the month was $23.34. Although this number isn’t an overwhelming victory of fiscal responsibility, it certainly is a huge improvement on my spending in March. Interestingly, I didn’t convincingly track my spending this month; instead I just relied on using my credit card and doing an end of month round-up. Although I did manage to stay under budget over the course of the month, I felt generally out of control for the entirety of the month, not knowing what I’d spent and where my money was going.

The best money I spent this month was $68 on a last-minute triathlon entry. I love triathlons (despite being terrible at them), and we had so much fun at this spontaneous event.

The ‘worst’ money I spent was the $42.96 on candles / $69.90 on gifts. ‘Worst’ is not the best label for this particular spending; it involved trying to buy a gift for my very good friend. I’d already decided on one thing (the $69.90 gift), felt like it was too expensive, bought a wholly unconvincing $42.96 gift (lovely but boring candle), then realised I should have just got the $69.90 gift so I bought that and kept the candle and basically cost myself a whole lot of unnecessary money. While I’m glad I got the better gift for my friend, I’m annoyed I wasted so much time and money on the process when there was simply no need to do so.

Side-hustling

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My favourite part of this monthly round-up – my bonus money! Sourced from selling items and doing market research, my side-hustle income gives me the flexibility to buy the fun things without breaking my $120 pocket money spend. This month was the end of my eBay sales; I just completely forgot about it! So that was a shame, however, I only have a finite number of items that I don’t want anymore, but are still in the condition to be sold or even wanted by another person.

The big shift was my etsy sales for the month. My total revenue was $34.50, and once I subtracted etsy’s fees for using the platform, my total revenue was $31.05.

I heavily checked out of the market research options this month. The constant online surveys was doing my head in, and I needed a break from assessing how often I drink booze and whether I like certain advertising options. Overall, they are also not the most efficient way to turn over the dollars. However, online surveys are a good way to use time that you may accidentally use spending money making money. It is gratifying to get an extra $10 here and there for effectively wasting time. But it can be unsustainable if you get bored quickly, so I’m just going to bounce back and forth on when I do them, and try not to force myself to do surveys when I’m annoyed or frustrated.

Looking forward

I have some big goals for my etsy store this month. April was full of fun activities, and I had a great time, but as the weather shifts and I’m more desperate to spend time at home, I want to use those hours to create new products and develop a more comprehensive business plan. This little business has brought a real sense of well-roundedness to my life. Work can be so hard, and having something beautiful on the side to look forward to really transforms my mood when I’m feeling down.

We have some big team goals coming up, too. As I previously discussed, I met with a financial planner, which was good and bad. We’ll be forging ahead alone, and we have set some pretty steep goals to meet by the end of the financial year (30 June) – including starting to look to break in to the property market!

We rent at the moment, so we’d have some breaklease provisions to deal with, in addition to the whole buying our first home situation of you know, saying good bye to all of our savings. But the more we talk about it, the more it feels like the right, and very exciting, decision.

 

Challenge recap: Week One


Week one of the challenge is done – and it is already a day in to week two. However today is a fake Sunday thanks to the Australian ANZAC day long weekend, which is delightful as I got to venture into a beautiful hiking region for the weekend (pictured above) and remember all the good things about life. I also got completely thrown off the plan for the weekend (to be expected).

Overall, I’m really thrilled with how week one of the challenge went. I had bought new food containers, so I had fully prepped each individual meal for the work week into its own container. Prior to this challenge I spent the weekend chopping veggies and threw together whatever I could come up with for the day ahead. Although I thought this approach was a good balance to meal prepping and enjoying my weekend, I much prefer having everything individually packaged and ready to go. I saved so much time and energy, and actually ate every single lunch meal I’d prepared.  

The key slip ups were a dinner out at a super fancy Italian restaurant (courtesy of the parents), and a young professionals networking night with a tad more tequila and carbs than necessary. Both were known about in advance, but I definitely didn’t do enough to mitigate the damage. It was generally a week of overcommitment, and that really showed in my food and gym attendance.

The weekend was, food wise, an utter disaster, as I associate all holidays with eating out and fun dessert. There were hardly enough veggies and it took a while to recover. However we did completely three beautiful hikes in the Peel region of Western Australia, which were beautiful albeit not mitigating the damage. 

So that was a long ramble to say that week one was not perfect, but it was a tolerable beginning. Week two will involve actually hitting the gym, committing to all the food, and no drinking. My key goal will be to continue my high levels of water consumption and go to all three gym sessions. It’s a slow game, but I’m excited to get there. 

Perspective 


Working full time at the bottom of the corporate ladder can really take its toll. There’s many great parts: great learning opportunities, corporate perks of free food and free booze, working with the best, and minimal responsibility at times when you really appreciate not bearing the burden. It can be glamorous and fun and interesting, and you’re surrounded by impressive, interesting and stimulating people, who push you and challenge you and make you into a success. Most days this is inspiring and you find yourself doing your best, almost by accident, riding the wave of motivation and inspiration. But some days, and sometimes for many days in a row, you slump. You forget how to work, or how to work hard. You let one small misstep blow out to redefine you as inadequate and incapable, and you use this new paradigm as an excuse to let yourself perform at much less than your best.

This slump can be almost impossible to shake off. I’ve felt myself in a work slump for a few weeks, and struggled hard to find a way to release myself from my new personal definition of ‘fine is fine’. I don’t like to hand in fine work, and my job doesn’t demand fine, it demands perfect. I’d let confusion and lack of confidence take the reins in my working day; which is odd, because outside my 9 – 5 (cute summary of standard work hours), I define myself by willpower, motivation, commitment to succeed and confidence in the abilities of myself and others. Somehow, the corporate ladder had crushed me a little, and I couldn’t work out how to straighten out again.

 

It took a very embarrassing performance review and a long conversation with my supervising partner to realise that not only did I feel a bit crushed, but that other people had noticed I wasn’t up to scratch. After dwelling and mulling and crying in the shower (such a tragic move), I realised that my perspective had shifted. I felt like I was freed from feeling lost and alone and underneath a big pile of crap. I felt like I could go back to seizing opportunities and turning them in to something great, instead of continuing to work at a sub-standard level, feeling generally like I was under-performing and too stuck in my ways to do anything about it.

It’s a new morning, and a new day. I took a little longer getting my game-face on, I took some time to reflect on what I want to achieve today. I decided I wasn’t going to let the corporate ladder wobble and let me fall on my face. And I decided that each piece of work, no matter how small or how complicated, is an opportunity to rebuild my old brand, of commitment, perseverance and excellence.

 

 

Yet another challenge…

In the last few years, I have been the fitness industry’s dream client. There isn’t a fitness trend I haven’t bought in to, financially, at least once, that’s available in Australia – the Michelle Bridges 12wbt, the Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guides (and app), the Ashy Bines Bikini Body Challenge… I’ve tried and failed at them all, testing the boyf’s patience over and over again as I declare proudly, ‘this is the ONE! this is the TIME I will make moves, and make things HAPPEN! No more crying because I feel fat, because I will be in control!’Then one week later I am crying because I feel fat, having ravaged the kitchen for every piece of chocolate I could find and feeling very much out of control. It’s my personal vicious cycle.

Despite hundreds of dollars and many failed attempts, I have embarrassingly signed up for another diet/fitness overhaul challenge, and it starts on Monday. This challenge runs for 9 weeks, and involves a relatively simple food program comprised of meat, vegetables, fruit and grains (how revolutionary!) and a work out program drafted to incorporate what you already do, and a defined set of work outs to meet particular goals.

My goals are very specific this time: do a chin-up/pull-up, and do double-unders. Obviously the key goals are ‘lose weight’ and ‘love myself in a bikini’, but those goals are often fleeting, as the dream bikini is mentally overridden by the tubs of Ben & Jerry’s in the freezer. I’m experimenting with this concept of very specific and measurable goals, and maybe this time, we’ll see a change.

This 9 week plan sees me drink 3L of water a day, work out seven times a week officially (in addition to one day of yoga and one day of the fitness program I run for young lawyers, which doesn’t involve a hard core work out), and being very strict with eating.

How simple!! I think to myself, as I scarf down my uncountable amounts of chocolate, and scavenge the kitchen for spoonfuls of nutella. I can easily overhaul three key aspects of my life overnight with no slip-ups or mistakes! But the reality is there will be many tests, and many slip-ups. Key events I can currently identify include weekly lunch provided by work, which does typically involve a protein and salads, but certainly not nice clean fresh salads, more the caesar salad with extra dressing variety; drinks on a Friday night; and last minute coffee trips with colleagues (these are being replaced by long blacks, yawn). However I look at those events, now, without the difficult of craving and the sadness that comes with giving stuff up weighing on me, and think these are all such underwhelming reasons to be standing in the way of my dreams of a fit bod for our northern hemisphere holiday. Every time I “fail”, and enjoy the temporary moments of pleasure that come with a glass of wine or dessert, I think how much happier in the long term I would have been if I just stuck with the program and seen it through, both because then it would have worked, and I would have gotten the opportunity to celebrate my success of finishing something.

To do this challenge successfully will require commitment to preparation: a weigh in, a very big food prep event today, and every Sunday following. And washing my gym clothes more regularly. Unfortunately it will also require flexibility. Next weekend is a long weekend and we have already organised a camping and hiking trip with some friends. That will make it much more difficult to control what I’m eating (mix of peer pressure and minimal kitchen facilities) and naturally will make the following week so much more difficult as I lose the organisational time. This certainly isn’t the end of the world, but it introduces surprising hurdles very early on in the challenge that I wish I didn’t have to face. 

I truly intend to present to you some amazing before and after results from this challenge. I believe I have it in me to succeed, and do a pull up. and slim down. I don’t want to let the mental willpower be my downfall. 

Beyond the organisational strategies, I’ve read about and will be implementing some mental strategies to combat moments of weakness. Some that have worked for me in the past is using language to redefine yourself – instead of saying to yourself ‘I can’t eat that’, say ‘I don’t eat that’. It is an empowering way of not indulging in sweet foods because you don’t define yourself as missing out, but as a person who eats fresh foods and still has an abundance available to them. Others include waiting half an hour, going for a walk when hit by a craving, having a motto to repeat to yourself in times of weakness, and sticking up a photo of your goal somewhere prominent. 

I feel some kind of shame in announcing this health challenge, like I’m stringing you all along to support me in something that will inevitably result in failure. But I feel confident this time. And I hope I get to share my successes with you.

Visiting a Financial Planner

Okay so I finally did it. I went to a free initial consult with a financial planner. I’ve been trying to get this element of my overall ‘rehaul your financial education!’ gameplan moving for a few months now, but thanks to a lot of bank crap (the Commonwealth Bank truly is the absolute worst), it was proving very difficult. I finally ditched the bank route and struck out to an independent financial planning consultant that I picked thanks to a quick google as to what was near me.

After doing a quick online survey providing some key information about the current status of our finances (read: no debt, a little savings of around $25k), the consultant got in touch and made a lunch time appointment to meet for an initial chat. This initial chat proved to be a weird combination of really interesting and kind of pointless.

I met with a man who spoke very slowly, which oddly and unfairly is a trait that can really irritate me. However, he was very kind, and took everything I said seriously, unlike Commonwealth Bank who considered me to be a complete idiot. We had an awkward handshake and sat in a meeting room, making weird small talk for a little while and I was generally feeling a bit confused about what I’m doing. He then ran through our current financial and life status. Speaking some of the information out loud to a disinterested but expert stranger was surprisingly beneficial, and I learned a lot about the very large gaps in our life goal-setting.

I then had to sit through a powerpoint presentation – a pretty strange process to be honest, since I was the only person in the room. It was a very insightful and useful guide, but in some ways I felt as though I was being talked down to, which is another trait I detest in people. However, the financial planner was a very earnest type; he was direct, and was pretty honest about the fact that we needed to tie this general “we want a financial plan!” to a tangible and emotional goal, such as buying a house, or our imaginary children’s education, or an epic international holiday, and then work backwards from there to setting up various options to match our goals. So I forgave him the talking down, and even believed him when he told me that he knew he wanted to be a financial planner since he was nine years old.

Once we got through the various pieces of the financial puzzle – budget, debt minimisation, wealth growth, wealth protection, tax efficacy and estate planning, we got to the hard stuff. To really formulate a plan we could believe in and commit to, we needed to hammer out our life goals. That would require clearly identifying what we wanted, the associated dollar value and timelines for those things – all topics that we have kind of bounced around without head-on addressing for all kinds of reasons.But these things are extremely doable.

However the big red flag was the quoted $3,000 price tag. I completely understand that the financial planner is an expert, with expert knowledge, and that expert knowledge deserves payment. But it doesn’t necessarily deserve my payment, particularly $3,000 of my money. That is a petrifyingly high amount of money, when our total net worth isn’t even enough to put a deposit on a home.

So, while I’m glad I did it, and I’m glad I met a very nerdy financial planner, we have opted out of the professional route and decided todo the work ourselves. We have a budget, so our focus now is wealth growth. The word ‘wealth’ feels like a bit of a lol, since I relate wealth to legitimately rich people, or people who are much older than I am, and as I am neither rich nor older than I currently am (obvi), I feel no right to be using the word ‘wealth’ in relation to my dollars. However, I suppose the long-term goal is wealth, to whatever dollar or lifestyle value that may be, and there is a lot to be said in using the right words for overwhelming concepts.

I still would recommend taking advantage of the typically free initial consult with a financial planner; there’s a lot to be said for starkly discussing your finances to a non-invested third party, and the accidental insight you get by having to cast a very in-depth spotlight into your financial life. But whether you’re comfortable for paying for an accompanying plan and the work is a different ballgame, and I would prefer the $3,000 in my pocket.

A Standard Morning

I have become pretty obsessed with the world of habit and routine, and how to harness the power of those forces to maximise chances for a happy and healthy life. But much like setting a budget without knowing what your typical expenditures are, I found I was trying to introduce new habits and routines without taking a good look at what my current mornings typically involve. My goal was to examine what I currently do, highlight any red flags and come up with a strategy for how to address those red flags. This approach feels much more beneficial than just diving head first into a fully-formed brand new morning routine, since most of what I’d be doing is familiar; I’d just addressing some of the kinks.

My workday mornings are almost identical. My alarm is set the night before for 5.30am. I wake up between 5.20 and 5.30, and mess around on my phone, typically scrolling through a bunch of social media feeds that I don’t care about (hello red flag) for 5 – 10 minutes. I force myself out of bed, throw on exercise clothes which have been laid out nicely / chucked on the floor the night before. I stumble to the bathroom, weigh myself (is this a red flag?), put in my contacts, put up my hair (occasionally fruitlessly searching for a hair lackey), look around uselessly for a water bottle, look around uselessly for a towel (that was a tonne of red flags), grab the car keys and head downstairs to the garage. It’s usually around 5.52am at this stage.

I put on Pandora (my car radio is broken), and drive 7.5 – 8 minutes to my group fitness class, typically arriving 1 – 2 minutes late (red flag). I work out for 45 minutes, spend 5 minutes chatting, and drive back home, typically arriving between 7.00am and 7.02am. Instead of being nice and jumping in the shower, I instead go and wake up the boyf using a variety of techniques such as singing Let It Go from Frozen or ripping the sheets off or unceremoniously yanking the blinds open or crawling into bed next to him, sweaty and cold from the outdoor air and insisting he pay me some attention. I know. I’m a catch. I fill him in on what we did in class that morning, then jump in the shower while he puts on a pot of coffee, or vice versa.

We eat different things for breakfast, so I tend to cook first, while multi-tasking on my phone. At 7.26am my unroll.d summary email comes through, so I like to eat my morning omelette while perusing the latest blog updates and clothing sales. I lounge about until 7.40am, which involves some combination of playing on my phone (red flag), updating my food journal or scribbling in my normal journal, then do my dishes, blow dry my hair and do my face, while having overly loud and miscellaneous conversations with the boyf. I wonder how much less we’d talk if we lived in something bigger than a one-bedroom shoebox. I’m typically standing at the door, ready to go at 8.02am while impatiently tapping my foot as the boyf runs around doing all of his things at the last minute (perhaps a red flag in relation to my patience levels), pick up the rubbish, drop it off at the complex bins, then walk 10 minutes to work.

This runs on repeat most mornings. Overall, it’s pretty mundane, but there are some things I think are good, and some things that need work.

Things that are good:

  • Regular exercise. This is an entire post in itself, but building the morning exercise habit has done amazing things for me, physically and mentally.
  • The wake up the boyf routine. While I accept that I do go about this in the most obnoxious way possible, this little morning tradition is a surprisingly big part of our relationship. On the days I don’t do it, for whatever reason, we both miss it.
  • Journalling.

Things that are bad:

  • A significant amount of time is spent on my phone at various intervals throughout the morning.
  • Wasted time looking for hair lackey / water bottle / towel (stuff I need and use every single morning).
  • Always at least 1 – 2 minutes late to workout class.

Things that are missing:

  • Meditation.

My plan is to address the hair lackey issue. It’s probably the red flag that causes my blood to boil more than any other, and it is actually impossible to work out with your hair flying all around like a crazy person. And I want to apply the well-accepted principle of changing only one very small thing at a time. So my baby step for sorting out my morning red flags is to have a hair lackey ready for the morning. 

That was a whole lot of navel gazing, and I’m so sorry for that boring pile of drivel. But I really have found taking a microscope to my habits and activities has been important to improving my spending, my eating, and importantly on dealing with the brutality of being honest with yourself. 

Forget the last post that was self importantly declaring that I would take some time to just be in the morning. The real issue is I can’t do that because I can’t find my hair lackies. And that is going to change. 

The emotional stages of eating an entire block of chocolate

I wish I could say that eating an entire block of chocolate is something I’ve never done; that I was above backing up an emotional breakdown with an inhalation of as much sugar as I could find. But that would be an enormous lie. On more occasions than I can count, I’ve searched down the best sale on a block of chocolate, bought it from the self-check out and finished it in the car before I got home. Maybe it’s a girl thing, or maybe it’s an insane thing. Maybe it’s a mix of both. But for the confused partners, and the people looking for someone who gets it, I thought it was time to share the emotional process of buying and eating a block of Cadbury chocolate in one sitting – being freshly off the back of an inhalation session, and in the deep spiral of self-hatred. It’s a beautiful thing.

Step one: Unexpected spiralling of emotion commences. Usually triggered by a completely unexpected event like shoelace coming untied without noticing or not being able to find an irrelevant ballpoint pen.

Step two: Look helplessly around for a half an hour.

Step three: Rummage through every drawer (including the laundry) for emergency chocolate.

Step four: Remember you ate it all last time. Feel lost.

Step five: Get in the car under the pretense of doing the grocery shopping. Tell yourself you’re staying strong and you don’t need to sugar to cure your emotions. Take some deep breaths and think of kale / favourite bikini.

Step six: Get a trolley. Look at all the vegetables so that you aren’t too obvious about only going straight to the confectionery aisle. That would be mortifying. Feel blood pressure weirdly rise at a scary rate.

Step seven: Feel desperation set in as you pretend to care about broccolini and kale. Start to ponder where the f*** are the brightly coloured packaged things.

Step eight: Drop all pretenses. Go immediately to the confectionery aisle (number 2, I obviously know this off by heart). Feel blood cease boiling immediately.

Step nine: Tell yourself you’ll just get one of those fun-size Mars bars to satiate the craving, not a full block.

Step ten: Pick two full blocks of chocolate instead. But different flavours to last time, because tragically you only did this last weekend.

Step eleven: Pay and not make eye contact with the cashier.

Step twelve: Get in the car. Set the goal to eat as much of that block as you can before getting home so you don’t realise it, because you’re driving.

Step thirteen: Eat one row. Tell yourself you feel fine. Life makes sense again. Be calm. Put the resealable package to good use! Save the rest of the block for the next inevitable emotional meltdown.

Step fourteen: Reach into the packaging and feel dismayed that without even realising there is nothing left.

Step fifteen: Look down and see melted crumbs of chocolate covering your yoga pants. Feel ashamed at this mortifying oxymoron. Promise yourself it will never happen again and hide the chocolate wrapper so no one sees it. Feel queasy for the rest of the day.

And that, folks, is how we cope with emotions.

 

 

March Money

This week has been one of those weeks that people refer to as ‘a total whirlwind!’ or ‘completely crazy!’. But I won’t refer to it like that since I’m above cliches (except that I’m not at all). This week has been an absolute rollercoaster, full of random personal events that made it feel very significant that I was busy, meaning my well-intentioned plans of assessing my March money and writing it all up for full disclosure fell by the wayside in favour of Ben & Jerry birthday sundaes and outdoor movie attendances (work mandated – life is hard). In any case, I’m thoroughly exhausted, and, if I’m honest, quite nervous at setting out these numbers, because they are not impressive. I struggled hard this month, but it was a very good learning curve as to the costs of not saying no.

This financial assessment is based solely on my $120/week discretionary dollars; it doesn’t consider what we cutely call our ‘team account’ spending, which encompasses rent, food, petrol, and other miscellaneous life necessities. It also doesn’t include personal health insurance, phone bills and other boring costs. The motivation between dividing it up this way was for me to focus more specifically upon my personal spending habits. As a passionate discretionary spender, I have never really faced the true cost of my love of clothes, stationery and other miscellaneous life items that I view as needs, and most view as wants. I started tracking my spending in this category only, which has thrown up some interesting habits.

This financial assessment also gives me an opportunity to review the success of any side-hustle income. This is a slightly more interesting category this time around, as I have expanded my side hustles from online market research and selling old crap on eBay to opening an etsy store. The etsy store has made a whopping three sales, so it’s contribution to my overall side-hustle is very limited. However it has been a really great learning experience, and I’m hoping to see improvement in sales as I increase my product inventory and continue to experiment with different facets of the store.

Spending

Here it is, the numbers for March (to the last Sunday that is still in March):

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Unfortunately there are very many negative numbers up there. The real killers were:

  • $160 on a ticket to a dinner I didn’t even want to go to. The worst bit about this dinner is that on the day, I was offered a free ticket.
  • $250 for the boyf’s birthday (it did feel worth it, since I got him the second-greatest gift of all time).
  • A confusingly-high $60 on stationery on the 20th – zero idea what that is.

What I took away from this month is that there are always things I will want to say yes to, but often the reason I want to say yes is very confusing: wanting people to like me, avoiding the viral fear of missing out, thinking it will be worth it for some vague, unspecified reason that could be easily shot down if I said it out loud. Most often, that is the time to say no. This dinner I attended is a great testament to that. It was an awards night for women in the law, so a cause I am very passionate about and something that is personally relevant to me. However, I am not a big believer in attending lots of these sorts of celebratory events; I prefer the day to day grunt work of pulling together events, rather than forking out lots of money to just attend. I bought a ticket when a very good friend of mine sent me a random text, dropping important names and making me feel like I’d be a ‘part of something’ if I attended. Of course I immediately regretted it. Then I found out my work had a table, and I could have just gone for free. And on the actual night, the friend who had invited me ended up sitting on a different table. I already forgot what happened at the dinner. The food was underwhelming. I didn’t even network that hard. So it was $160 that would have been much better off in my pocket.

I had a vague plan of not spending as much the next few weeks to recover the cost, but as is very clear from the above, that did not happen. Instead, this $160 blow out acted as a catalyst for not caring at all about what I spent, and I never recovered from it. In fact, I just ended up habitually over spending for the rest of the month. I’m disappointed. But it’s just one month out of twelve.

Side-hustling

A much tinier little spreadsheet, but one I’m very proud of! This month I increased my income by an exciting 8.67%.

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Most of that is due to a very lucrative market research role I managed to land, which accounts for over 50% of that income. But these numbers reflect the sale of many eBay items, and the beginning of my new business!

The Etsy number is a sad 34 cents. Although I did make a revenue of $6 in March, by the time I paid the fees associated with the sale, removed shipping and paid the fees associated with listing items, March finished up with a very low income from Etsy. Although it hasn’t been a big earner, it has been a really fun learning curve. I always talked about wanting to open my own business, and it feels so satisfying that I finally did. Hopefully April’s Etsy numbers will be a bit more impressive, but even if they aren’t, that’s okay.

Looking forward

As always, April is a new month and a chance to use what I learned about myself in March to improve my spending habits and get those numbers without a negative in front of them. And if possible, to improve my total side-hustle income. I’m anticipating it to be a lot more difficult depending on the overly-lucrative market research position, which is very ad-hoc, but nevertheless, it feels good to aim high.

My big financial step for April has been to set up one of those no-fee no-obligation initial consultations with a financial planner. After two months of messing around with my exceptionally annoying bank, I found an independent planner who didn’t waste my time and I have a meeting set up next week. I see this being a good opportunity to build some financial knowledge and to set up a more comprehensive financial plan.

 

Coffee date

It’s Monday morning, somehow it is April, one quarter of 2016 is behind us, and there already seems like so much to be catching up on. I figured it was time for a coffee date to reflect and see how we’re all doing. I heavily borrowed the idea and format for this post from my all-time favourite blog, Blonde on a Budget; it was such a fun post and I’ve been wanting to try something similar for a while. So here goes!

Cup of coffee

If we were on a coffee date, I’d tell you that Mondays are one of my favourite days of the week. Fresh starts, fresh food (I meal prep my food on Sundays, so it is always most delicious on Mondays), and lots of catching up around the office means that the day can go surprisingly quickly. It also feels like a clean slate; all the mess of the previous week is over, and often the things you were panicking about seem much more achievable after refreshing yourself from the weekend. However, I always need an extra caffeine boost, so I’d be ordering a double shot cappuccino!

If we were on a coffee date, I’d tell you that I’m loving running my own Etsy store, and shipped out my first three orders today. The weekend was full of playing with packaging, which is currently still a bit silly and not very professional, printing, cutting, designing and getting excited to see the beginnings of interest in my little hobby store. The handmade community is very supportive and committed to helping others, and it feels great to have taken the plunge on something I’ve been planning and wishing for, for a long time.

If we were on a coffee date, I’d tell you that 2016 is shaping up into a really great year. After turning 25 and beginning my career as a lawyer, I kind of thought it would all be dull from here on out. Instead, the year has been full of friends, dinner parties, smashing fitness goals, taking risks, planning trips, friends getting married and new opportunities. I hope you’re finding the same, and I’d ask you what you’re most excited about for this year.

If we were on a coffee date, I’d tell you that I’ve reset my nutrition goals for the one thousandth time, and that I’m re-attempting to eat clean. I gave up sugar and carbs for February, and saw a noticeable different in my weight, body fat percentage, skin, hair, mood and fitness. Once the month was over, and the Easter shelves filled up with creme eggs, I fell heavily off the wagon, and definitely feel the difference. To re-establish myself as a clean eater, I meal prepped, meal packed and created a MyFitnessPal account, and am feeling confident. I’d ask you if you’re interested in nutrition, and whether you subscribe to a particular food program, and if you have any favourite recipes or nutrition tips you’d like to share.

If we were on a coffee date, I’d tell you that it’s the boyf’s 27th birthday tomorrow and I’m extremely excited. As he doesn’t read this blog, I’d also tell you I splurged and got him a pair of sound-proof headphones, and organised dinner at the only waffle house I could find in Perth. I love birthdays more than he does, so the enthusiasm is definitely one-sided, but it’s fun to celebrate important things.

If we were on a coffee date, I’d tell you that I’ve had my leave approved and we’re off to Michigan, USA in July! Perth to Michigan is a depressingly long way, which is part of the motivation behind the sound-proof headphones mentioned above. We’ll be spending two weeks at the boyf’s parents’ lake house, skiing, kayaking, eating barbeque and relaxing. I’ll hopefully sneak in some trips to the neighbouring bigger towns to maximise the USA shopping experience. But the general focus is family, food and relaxing.

If we were on a coffee date, I’d ask for some of your favourite book recommendations. I’m nearing the end of a Netflix binge on Gilmore Girls, and looking to change up my hobbies to involve more reading and less passive indulgence of visuals. I have the Power of Habit lined up as my next read, and I cracked open The Light Between Oceans on the weekend, although I haven’t really warmed to it yet.

If we were on a coffee date, I’d tell you that I’ve become obsessed with the podcast Modern Love. The story telling is just beautiful. Since Serial, I’ve been an avid podcaster, and other favourites include Amicus and Science versus. Do you have any recommendations? Do you prefer music or podcasts on your walks/runs?

And finally, if we were on a coffee date, I’d tell you that I’m really excited for April. There’s a lot of fun and random activities coming up: a Canvas and Cabernet night, fancy dinner and seeing Cats the Musical with the boyf, trips to the outdoor cinemas, a fiesta networking night with tequila and tacos, an Adults only Astronaut night at the local science exhibition, and a long weekend hiking trip. Normally April is a bit of a non-event, but I’m feeling very positive about this one. Overall I’m finding an intentional attitude of positivity can have a noticeable impact upon how you view life. I find myself to be an accidental pessimist, and can complain about being too busy or wanting to be at home in my pyjamas. But by cultivating a joy around the great events of this month, I think I’ll be enjoying them so much more.

What’s your coffee order? And your favourite topic of a coffee conversation?