No Spend July Recap

Now that we’re well into August, I thought I would discuss No Spend July.  I feel like I failed while I simultaneously succeeded.  It makes no sense.

On the win side, I paid off my furnace and I got my emergency fund back up to $1000, which was my first emergency fund milestone. First step, $1000. Next step, three months of expenses. Then, a fully funded emergency fund of at least six months of expenses (that feels like a decade away).  I pretty much stuck to no unnecessary shopping, minus a few slips when I bought a record and kombucha out of pure frustration with my feeling of failure, and I bought two yoga tops because they were both 50% off (not an excuse).

On the fail side, I picked the month when I had told just about everyone in Fort Collins that I would grab lunch, dinner, or a beer with them.  So then I kind of gave up on all things food or drink related.

I have stuck to not buying a parking permit and finding other ways to get myself to work, so that’s pretty awesome.  But then my super yoga muscle hip of death and destruction hit my bike wheel while I was STANDING IN THE YARD and somehow tripped, followed by a wet grass slip, and now my bicycle is waiting at Cranknstein for a new wheel.

I feel like I failed, even though I met my goals.  I didn’t meet the goal of not spending money, though, which was the whole point.  I will pick a better month and try it again before the end of the year.  September could be a good month to try again because we will be saving up for a Vegas trip with my parents.  We go to all the hottest clubs.

By hottest clubs, I clearly mean Hoover Dam.

I will conquer this damn challenge before the end of 2014 and have an actual win.  Not just a somehow I managed to save money while not succeeding at my challenge at all semi-win.


Minimalist Game Update!

This minimalist game is working out way better than I thought it would.  I have been meaning to clean out and organize my dog stuff since…oh, I don’t know…2010 when I got Banjo.  Dog stuff just multiplies and appears out of nowhere.  But I conquered it.  I also cleaned up my tea cabinet because, yes, I have a tea cabinet.

Here’s an update on the shiz I’ve cleared out so far. If you see anything you want, let me know. 🙂

July 3

July 3

July 3
Donate: State Farm strappy backpack that someone handed me at Taste of Fort Collins that I will never use, a Lisa Frank coloring book (love it but I don’t have anything to color with and some child will appreciate it more than me), and a bazillion little cardboard tubes that each held three flowering tea buds. The tea is now living in jars and my cabinet has wayyyyyyy more space.

July 4

July 4

July 4
Donate: a candle. Smells nice, but I won’t use it.
Sell: three books from various graduate sociology seminars.

July 5

July 5

July 5
To return: Expensive earmuffs I bought for my dad from LL Bean. Then I found the same ones in a better color at TJ Maxx for a third of the price. I have just been too lazy to return these, but LL Bean has a great return policy.
Sell: Dog sweater. Banjo and Prexy just aren’t punk rock enough. But mostly they hate sweaters.
Donate or sell if possible: two Spanish workbooks. I’ve already sold the textbooks that go with them.

July 6

July 6

July 6
Sell: Dog v-neck. Banjo and Prexy just aren’t hipster enough for the deep v.
Donate: Two dog harnesses made entirely of velcro (I have no idea where they came from and I have never used them), a slip collar for a small dog (Banjo’s first collar, aww…), and a lanyard.
Trash: Lint roller handle that doesn’t fit any of our lint roller rolls.

July 7

July 7

July 7
Trash: Two old squeakers from toys that have been murdered.
Donate: Two dog bandanas because my dogs aren’t nerds, two leash clips from leashes that Prexy has chewed through, and another collar.

July 8

July 8

July 8
Trash: a reusable bag with a broken handle and whatever that black thing is. It was in with the dogs stuff. Possibly from a harness…????
Donate: Clean habitat spray for cage animals because I haven’t had a hedgehog in two years, and a pet ID tag.
Sell: Wedding stuff. I have a bazillion battery operated strings of white lights, a bunch of silver bead strands, and some white ribbon. Make it all add up to 8 because there are actually probably 30 items total in this round.

I’m currently working my way through the rest of our terrifying garage.  Stay tuned for a bicycle or two, a backpack, and some other big ticket items I hope to make some legit cash from.

Are you doing the minimalist game?  What have you gotten rid of?  And who wants to take all this junk?

Celebrating America by Getting Outside

I celebrated the 4th by getting up early (at 9:00…) for a vinyasa yoga class, focusing on the concept of freedom–freedom from negativity and anything holding us back from being our best selves, which was a fitting meditation for wellness month. I followed it up by lazing around by Amber and Mirela’s pool, eating a boatload of Doritos and hot dogs (it was ‘Merica Day, clearly I needed to eat something processed and horrible), and synthesizing some vitamin D while managing to not get sunburned (it’s a no-melanin miracle!).  While this photo is not actually from the 4th, it sums our day (and us in general) up pretty nicely.


If you don’t already know, we’re hilarious.

Later that day, I found myself in bed at 9:00 pm, with three dogs who were TERRIFIED of fireworks.  I tried to soothe them with some Bon Iver.  It worked fantastically.  It did not work at all.  Why was I in bed so early, torturing myself by trying to sleep with three insane dogs flipping out and barking every time they heard a pop?  Because I woke up at 2:15 am to go hiking.  I might also be insane.

I met up with Courtney in Thornton and we drove up to the Grays Peak trailhead to get started on my first 14er before 6:00 am.  Fun fact: Grays is the highest point on the North American Continental Divide. I got to show off my dirt road driving skills that I procured while growing up in Wyoming because the road was a rutted out mess.  Thankfully, Courtney has a Jeep because I’m not sure my Subaru would have made it.  The mountain air was crisp and cold when we got out of the car, and had that perfect mountain smell that always makes me feel like I’m home.

At the trailhead.   Cold nose, early morning.

At the trailhead.
Cold nose, early morning.

We set out on our 8 mile round trip hike with the intention of trying to do Torreys Peak as well once we summitted Grays. Unfortunately, things were a little slower-going than we planned and we decided to just do Grays. The wildflowers only bloom for about 3 weeks and were in full bloom and absolutely beautiful while we were there and took our minds off the elevation and lack of oxygen.

Wild flowers (Grays on the left)
Stolen from Courtney.

The summit was awesome in the truest sense of the word.

2014-07-05 10.12.38

At the summit!

At the summit!

On the way down, we were surprised on the trail by a family of mountain goats!  I had never seen mountain goats in the wild before and we were lucky enough to see four, including a baby.  Obviously, I took 800 pictures, but I won’t subject you to all of them.

2014-07-05 11.39.54 2014-07-05 11.37.20

Mountain goats

Mountain goats

We were completely famished afterwards and stopped at the Beau Jo’s in Idaho Springs to eat a mountain pie on a mountain. I considered this a necessity because, after the chia seeds, bagel with greek yogurt cream cheese, protein bar, cereal bar, and oat and nut bar, I was still famished.  It was the single greatest pizza of my life and I know a kale salad or something would not have cut it.  I desperately needed carbs!  We did get whole wheat crust and lots of veggies with ricotta cheese, so there are certainly worse pizzas in the world.

When we got home, I slept for 13 hours.

Frugal in FoCo pro tip: We live in one of the best places in the nation (or anywhere) for getting outdoors and there are lots of free places to hike (or bike or climb or paddle…).  While we chose to drive to Grays, there are lots of hikes right outside of Fort Collins that are accessible by bicycle or bus, or even walking.  It’s a great way to get back in touch with nature, unplug for a while, and not spend a dime.

Mulligans and Massages

July 2:

My do-over first day was MUCH more successful than July 1.  Here’s the breakdown…

On the financial front, I did pretty well.  No money was spent on anything that wasn’t necessary to my livelihood and wellbeing.

I had to go to the grocery store because we were out of TP–ABSOLUTE NECESSITY.  I also bought vegetable broth and soup.  All of it was on sale.  All fits the healthy eating bill because I bought the organic, simple ingredients, no preservatives kinds.

I did have to give in and get a massage after having a knot in my shoulder that was pulling a rib out of place.  I assure you, dear readers, that I did everything I could to treat it at home, but it had gotten to the point where I had to call in a professional.  As I mentioned previously, I usually have a massage membership.  My back muscles can be such a hot mess that I get tension headaches, muscle spasms, and this one damn knot that gets so bad it pulls my rib out of place.  The combination of going to the chiropractor regularly and getting bi-weekly massages has worked straight up wizardry on how my body functions.  After having a yearlong membership to the extremely inadequate Massage Envy, I switched to LaVida, where I have truly never had a less than phenomenal experience.  I pay $75/month and get a 90 minute prepaid massage and then member pricing on additional massages.  In May, I decided to try to save a little money for traveling, so I put my membership on hold for 3 months.  When I decided this week that I really did need to give in and get a massage, I shopped around for the best deal and settled on the massage clinic at IBMC.  Because it is a school, the prices are incredibly low to help give the students and grads a chance to perfect their craft and build up clientele.  I was able to get a 90 minute hot stone massage with aromatherapy by a grad for $60 (compare that to $100-120 elsewhere).  Because I booked for a Wednesday, I found a coupon for $5 off that’s only good Monday-Wednesday.  It was incredibly easy to book online, the facility was really nice and had a relaxing atmosphere, and it was substantially less expensive than what I’ve been paying.  It’s located along the MAX line as well, so no driving necessary.  I think I am going to cancel my LaVida membership, though I have loved going there, and utilize this great resource for inexpensive professional massage.

Earlier in the day, I had the single most painful chiropractic adjustment of my life because of the tightness in my back and everything being out of joint.  After that and the massage, though, I slept really well and feel much better today.

Julia had Courtney and me over for dinner and made these delicious enchiladas.  The poblano cashew crema was mind-blowing.

Vegan and gluten-free. Photo from Pinterest

Vegan and gluten-free.
Photo from Pinterest

The stuffing was chard, onions, and olives and a tomatillo salsa.  I had three servings.  It was vegan so it’s like one serving.  Don’t judge me.

For the Minimalism Game, I’m sticking with the month of July so I don’t have to do math by the end.  For July 1, the teddy bear went to the start of the Donate bin.  For July 2, I trashed an old raccoon snowdome missing most of its water and my favorite bra of all time.  It’s the end of an era but it was getting too risky to wear, as one of the straps was literally hanging on by a thread.  There could have been a serious wardrobe malfunction.

July 2

July 2

Do you get regular massages?  Why or why not?


The Month of Financial Recovery and Wellness , part 1: No Spend July

One of my favorite financial blogs of all time is And Then We Saved.  Anna–who lives in Denver, making her that much more relatable and inspiring–paid off her debt by not spending any money on “wants” for a full year.  While I’m not ready to take the plunge for a year, I do like the idea of a No Spend month.  I did it last November and managed to save up quite a bit more than I expected I would.  As part of what is going to be a month of getting back on track financially and health and wellness-wise, I will be embarking on No Spend* July.

*Prepare yourself for lots of exceptions.

The Rules

    • Money can only be spent on Needs, and not Wants.
    • Needs include:
      • Mortgage
      • Car payment
      • Utilities
      • Cellphone
      • Internet
      • Groceries
      • Dog supplies (food, grooming, dental chews)
      • Chiropractor (I go once every 3 weeks as part of a treatment plan)
      • Acupuncture
      • Yoga membership
      • Gym membership
      • Doctor, meds, and supplements
      • Netflix (let’s be real…it’s absolutely necessary)
      • Mike Birbiglia tickets.  He’s coming to the Lincoln Center and they go on sale July 5.  He is my favorite comedian of all time and I reference his jokes at least once a day, so this is a NEED.
    • Groceries are a Need, but I can’t load them up with Wants, like $3.00 kombucha or whatever nonsense I always end up buying at Whole Foods.
    • I will do my best to use what we already own.
    • Pause unnecessary memberships (Audible and massage memberships are on hold until August)
    • Wants include
      • Clothing (TJ Maxx is basically off limits)
      • Shoes (so is JAX)
      • Records
      • Craft supplies
      • Eating at restaurants, coffee shops, fast food, etc.  The exception to this is using the BOGO Qdoba coupons that I bought for a fundraiser.  They expire in August.
      • Supporting fundraisers
      • Alcohol, unless Andy buys me a beer, it’s obtained on a brew tour or a steep discount, or I use my Fort Collins Passport.  The passport gets me BOGO drinks at 28 places for a mere $10 investment upfront, and expires in August.
      • Unnecessary driving expenses.  I will try to bike as many places as possible.
      • Work parking permit
      • Movies
      • Concert tickets

I am still planning on having plenty of fun in July.  The key will be free fun.  Any ideas for me?