Articles By Jamie DeBree

The Excess Vacation Hours Vacation

As of tomorrow, I’m on vacation until next Wednesday to burn the excess vacation hours that I’m not allowed to carry over into the new year. Why Weds to Weds, you might ask? Psychology, my dear Watson.

It seems like every time I take a traditional week off (Monday- Friday), I spend the better part of at least one day troubleshooting something for work via email or phone. When I only take a few days off in one week, I rarely get called on to help fix something (or if I do, it’s quick). So, I’m trying something new, and taking Weds – Fri off this week, and Mon – Tues off next week. That still gives me a full week off, but no full “work” weeks, so we’ll see if I end up troubleshooting or not (there is network maintenance going on this weekend, so the potential is there, but…). Call it an experiment.

What’s the plan for this vacation? Catch-up, mostly. I need to make dog food for the week, since I spent this past Sunday not feeling well (my own fault – too many days in a row last week of poor dietary choices…though I’ll admit, I enjoyed every last “choice” at the time). I need to take the Subaru in for some recall work if I can get it scheduled – wiper motors and airbag replacement. Murphy-dog is due for his rabies shot, which normally I wouldn’t redo in a dog his age (he’s around 9-10 now, best guess), but he’s a pitbull, and people are people, so…better law-abiding in his case (I can’t re-license him unless he gets the shot, even though they’ve been proven to be effective far past 3 yrs). Hopefully he won’t suffer any averse affects (I’ve seen more issues of the tumor-causing kind with vaccines in older dogs, unfortunately).

Aside from those things, I hope to do a lot of writing-related tasks I never seem to get to. Formatting, cover art, editing…and some new words too. My horror alter-ego has a short story in progress to add to the “Death by Veggies” line, and I’d like to get that finished, and I’d really like to make some good headway on a couple of other novels I have going. So, definitely writing, after I get the dogs walked so they’ll sleep and let me be.

The only other thing I really want to do (aside from some gaming, hopefully) is “spring cleaning”. I suck at cleaning. I find it incredibly boring, so I do the absolute minimum. Most adult women and a fair amount of adult men would run the other way at the state I keep my house in. I can’t tell you the last time my blinds have been dusted. Definitely not this year. Probably not last year either. Maybe not even the year before that…

That said, I do occasionally get the desire to “clean all the things”. It passes quickly, but I did buy a dust-mop for the kitchen floor (it’s laminate, and I hate it, and have ruined more of the finish every time I try to clean it), a new scrub brush for the bathroom, and I have plenty of microfiber cloths and rags on hand. The plan is to do one major thing in each room every day of my vacation…like cleaning all wide wooden blinds in the living/dining room. Or washing down all the kitchen cabinets/walls. And wiping down the bathroom walls/ceiling (don’t ask). And then I want to add hard floor cleaning to a monthly maintenance schedule.

Yes, I know people clean their floors more often. I vacuum once a week, even the hard floors. Baby steps. We don’t eat off my floors. Obviously.

So…that’s the plan for my “vacation”. Be all adult-like and do the stuff I keep putting off because I just don’t wanna (or in the case of writing, just want some focused time for). Seems like as good a use for the time as any, especially since they’re vacation hours I didn’t plan on using until later.

Next year, a trip, but for now…spring cleaning. Errands. Maybe a little Pokemon. Good times!


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Tea Drinker in a Coffee Shop

Yes, two days late. Or approximately seven (4 large) cups of tea…

Confession: I always feel guilty going into a coffee shop and asking them what they have to drink that’s not coffee. I mean, it’s a coffee shop. Their whole reason for existing is to sell coffee, presumably to people who…well, like coffee.

I am not even in the vicinity of their target audience, having disliked even the smell of coffee since the day my mom let me try it in high school. Needless to say, it’s pretty rare I actually go into a coffee shop (because hello – the whole shop smells like coffee and they never have what I’d consider “good” tea), but in our society, it’s nearly impossible to have a family or friends or other various groups who don’t want to occasionally meet for…coffee. In a coffee shop.

Writers like to meet in coffee shops too, but I don’t meet up with other writers often, so that’s not really much of a concern for me – at least not at this point in my life.

Alas, there are occasions when I find myself at the counter of a coffee shop, trying to find the tiny part of the menu with the non-coffee drinks and trying to decide whether it’s worth the calories to just go with the sugar-laden pre-mixed chai (or whatever the non-coffee latte flavor happens to be), or brave the extremely limited sure-to-be bitter/oversteeped tea selection, hoping whatever flavor they’ve mixed in will make it somewhat drinkable. The only other options are generally bottled water, juice, or energy drinks, none of which are any more appealing in that situation.

Sometimes, the sugar-laden drinks win out, and while I enjoy them immensely, I end up regretting the “fuzzy” feel in my mouth for hours afterward. They do remind me to brush my teeth though, so there’s that.

And if I’m going to subject my body to that kind of serious sugar-shock, I may as well go ahead and get one of those lovely scones for a small bit of balance. Blueberry is my favorite, or a plain scone, though that’s not normally an option. Cranberry is good, or something lemony. Heated, always, because cold scones are dry, and even the sweetest liquid confection can’t fix that kind of dry once it hits the back of your throat. Trust me on this one.

The last time I was in a coffee shop was a couple months ago, while I was out playing Pokemon Go and running errands one Saturday. There was a magikarp in a gym I wanted, and the only way to reach the gym was to go inside the coffee shop. I had a hot cup of mediocre yerba mate and a cold blueberry scone for the privilege of sitting by the window and raiding the gym to get the magikarp.

Next time I feel the need to capture a pocket monster from that particular gym, I’m definitely going for something sweeter and a warmed-up scone…


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Guilty Motivation & Ebook Sale

Doing my taxes this year made me feel guilty. I took a loss on my business, and I hate doing that. Normally if I only claim web hosting fees, I can at least break even, but like so many others, my sales fell off a virtual cliff this summer and were never able to drag themselves back up.

I need to publish, and I need to do some gentle promotion, and I haven’t been making time for any of that. I have gotten into a better writing habit, and I’m slowly finding a few bits and pieces of time here and there that I can allocate to writing as well. So I should have something new *to* publish by the end of the year, if not sooner.

I need to turn a profit this year, no matter how small. Mostly just to prove to myself that I can. I’ve been working on my writing style, trying to be more descriptive and move a little slower through my various “worlds” so as not to leave things out. I think I’m getting better as a writer, but now I need to get back to that pesky habit of actually finishing stories and publishing them.

I also need to do some clean-up work on my older books. Smashwords says my covers are too small on all the first books I published, so those need new covers. They also need new, better blurbs, and I’ve been studying blurbs for awhile now, and have a better idea of how to craft them. Again, something that just takes time, and time on my butt, at that.

It’s a little overwhelming to think about, but I need to just pick an “update” project and work on it alongside my writing drafts until it’s done. I need to update the formatting on The Time Stone (the chapters are screwed up), so maybe I should do that first.

The reason I keep putting these off? Because I’m afraid of how much time it will take. Thing is, pretty much everything takes less time than I think it will – it’s just getting started that’s hard.

So…time to just do it.

Did you know that it’s “Read an Ebook Week”? In honor of that, all my ebooks are marked off 25 percent at Smashwords for the week. Yes, that means a couple of them are even free. If you’d like to take a peek, click on the Smashwords link below. Or if you want to check out my alter-egos (they’re on sale too), use this link.

Are you reading an ebook this week? Which one?


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Stuff & Things, Things & Stuff

What have I been up too in lieu of blogging, you might ask? Well, a rather varied list, actually:

– Taxes (got ours done)
– Knitting (finished my class block and the prep rows for the next one)
– Crochet (two cowls special-ordered by someone my mom works with…done and delivered)
– Dog food (my control-freak nature took over, I cancelled our deliveries & planned extra weekend time to make it myself from now on)
– Writing (a little here and there, but hey, progress is progress, however slow)
– Working (naturally – pays the bills, keeps the brain hoppin’)
– Way less Pokemon (because…sub-zero temps do not entice me outside, for any reason)
– Animal Crossing (because…so cute I’m in constant fear of sugar-shock)
– Batman: Arkham Asylum (because it’s both fun and frustrating)
– Budgeting (which is not fun, but less frustrating over time)
– Trying to stay warm in frickin’ sub-zero and single digit temps (Second coldest Feb. on record…yay?! I’ll take our normal 30’s and 40’s back, please)

Honestly, I’m kind of stuck again, even with all of that going on. I live in this constant state of wanting to do and be more than I am, but having to choose where my priorities need to be, and not liking my choice because it doesn’t really feel like much of a choice at all. But it is, of course. I could completely upend my life and go with “option B” at any time. I really don’t want to, though.

I suspect it’s going to be this way until I retire from the day job (or decide that my health, pets and family don’t matter anymore – I don’t see that happening anytime soon). I’m guessing that a lot of other people are in the same boat, so I try not to complain too long or loud about it. It’s just…the state of my head, to borrow a phrase from Shinedown. Sometimes that holds me up far more than I should let it.

Some days are worse than others, and being out of my vitamins for a few days this weekend combined with the ongoing stress of crazy cold weather/cabin fever all around doesn’t help. My attitude will get better – it always does. A major perk of being a perpetual optimist.


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Attempted Derailment & The High “Road”

I think the universe is scoffing at my need for routines and habits, as well as the progress I’ve made on my financial well-being. It was bound to happen, I suppose. It would just be nice to have somewhat longer periods of success before life decides to kick the tires on the new automation and test the new security measures.

Last Saturday, the dog food delivery didn’t show up. Yes, I order fresh food weekly for the dogs and pay a company the big bucks to make it so I don’t have to. But when the order doesn’t show up, and tracking says it won’t be here for three more days, which means the order will be ruined, the dogs still have to eat until the replacement order arrives (nearly a week later).

I didn’t have much choice but to run out to Costco, buy the ingredients and make a week’s worth of meals for the dogs myself. Half the cost, sure, but also a few hours of time that I normally use for other things (like housekeeping and blog-post writing). Needless to say, my Sunday was completely derailed, and my very carefully planned out budget very nearly with it, until the company agreed to move my next order out a week (so I wouldn’t have to pay for that on top of the ingredients I had to buy).

Monday night, the hubby noticed one of the headlights on the Subaru was out. Just when I thought I was all good with the budget. But since it’s dark more often than not, and we had to drive through a highly patrolled area to get to the bar where he was playing pool Wednesday night, and I already have a warning from when the other headlight went out last summer/fall…I decided I needed to get it fixed asap.

Made an appointment with a shop close to work (since our normal mechanic’s shop burned down just before Christmas) and dropped the car off Weds after lunch, thinking it would be around $70 for the fix (if you haven’t tried to change the headlight on a 2012 Subaru outback, google it, and you’ll know why I didn’t want to do it myself).

Guys called me back half an hour later, said it was just a loose connection, and that I owed ’em $10.

Whew!

So my budget is still intact (though I did put off paying a bill so I’d have money for dog food, headlight, whatever if needed), despite a couple notable attempts to derail it this week.

Yes, I’m aware that’s why I need a savings stash. I’m working on it. I just paid off one of two minor lines of credit planned for payoff this year, which feels pretty good, and we’ll see how the budget looks when I balance tonight.

Next week, taxes. *sigh* I’m doing them early this year, so we know how much we need to save up to pay by April 15th. We always owe the feds and get back from the state, but I dare say it’ll be worse this year with the tax “cuts” from last year. So, better to know early, I guess.

In other news, I’ve recently started walking the sky bridges downtown for an afternoon break. The route that starts in my building goes around 4 blocks out through buildings and parking garages, and I’m quite enjoying it. That route is never busy, there’s no traffic or waiting for lights, it’s enclosed, so while it’s chilly when not in a building, it’s not as cold as wandering around at street level, and as a bonus, I can catch pokemon and hit a few stops and gyms all along the way. If I want to hit the bookstore or the bank or the bakery, they’re all stops along the way – just drop down to street level from the appropriate building, and everything’s right there.

There’s definitely something to be said for getting up and away from your desk during the day – even just for 10 minutes or so to clear the mind and get the blood pumpin’. Taking this quiet, “high” road is perfect for an introvert like me, and a good way to wake up and get a little extra exercise.

And more fun than shoveling snow, which is what I’m doing today for exercise (I’m off work – burning excess vacation hours). It’s been a very mild winter, so I’m trying not to complain, but…I am ready for spring. And so are the dogs (who *need* to get out of the house this afternoon – they’re going nuts being cooped up inside).


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Slowing Down to Make Progress

We’re getting our share of the polar vortex this week, apparently. Though it’s not nearly as bad as the midwest got last week – more like normal “winter” here. So, while I’m not enjoying it (or having two restless dogs stuck inside for a good week), I’m doing my best not to complain too much. It’s a good thing I have extra eye drops at home. Nothing beats sub-zero temps with even colder wind chills to make your eyes water and then dry out even worse than normal while thawing. Ugh.

I’ve talked a lot about financial and routine changes lately, and something that is benefiting from the routine changes is writing. I’ve been a lot more disciplined lately (in a lot of things), and that has had the very good side effect of doing late-night chores a bit earlier, and getting back to my office earlier as a result.

Also, given the lack of ability to just “buy stuff” when I want to in order to do/learn/organize things, my mind tends to be more focused on the here and now, rather than what’s happening (or what I think should happen) in the future. I still plan, and still look ahead, but there’s less immediacy to it, if that makes sense (because anything that requires a purchase of some sort is not happening “right now” or even “next week” anymore…there’s a waiting period for everything).

Ironically enough, while I’m more conscientious about money and spending, I’m less concerned about…well, pretty much everything else. When forced to wait and/or plan far ahead for nearly everything, it actually removes a source of mental stress – there’s no point in worrying about or planning for something that isn’t happening anytime soon.

And that leaves me with more mental energy & head space to spend on other pursuits.

Like writing.

It still takes me a little while to get into a story when I sit down most nights, but that’s okay, because I’m sitting down earlier. I’m using my Neo, which isn’t optimal due to the darkish screen, but it’s easy on the eyes and the keyboard is a million times better than the one on my laptop. Not being on the laptop also keeps me away from distractions, though I do need to remember to upload my writing to the laptop once a week (which I keep forgetting to do). Luckily, the Neo does hold quite a bit of writing, so I won’t run out of space anytime soon. But keeping scenes and chapters organized is easier in my writing software.

One of my “indiscretions” back in November was to pre-order the Freewrite Traveler (I’ll be done paying for that this month), which is basically the modern version of my Alphasmart Neo. The screen is e-ink and not backlit, and the keyboard is manual with Cherry MX switches. It won’t ship until this summer, but I’m looking forward to it both for the lighter e-ink screen that I’ll be able to see better in my dim office, and also for the fact that it will connect to wifi and upload my writing sessions automatically (the Neo requires an old printer-to-usb cable connection, and acts as a keyboard emulator).

Until then, the Neo works just fine, and I’m really glad to have it. I don’t think I’d be nearly as productive working on my laptop and fighting the constant cursor jumps due to the too-flexible case (not to mention the crappy keyboard).

I am going to have to work on my computer set-up, but not until I get my longevity bonus this spring (May). Hopefully I’ll have at least one draft done and ready to format and cover by then. Whether I do or not will probably determine how much I’m willing to spend to upgrade my set-up. So, we’ll see. Lots of potential writing time between now and then.

I think my next feat needs to be finding some time in which I can edit, format, and create cover art for books. Time that isn’t normal writing time and also doesn’t require more screen time on weeknights, which means a few hours on the weekend, preferably.

I have a few ideas, and a book that needs reformatting (not to mention several that need new covers). If I could get the one book done by the end of February, I’d be happy with both the progress, and having a new time slot mapped out for that kind of work.

And that would be great progress.


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Discipline & Re-calibration

Self-discipline is an odd thing. The amount of discipline I exercise is sometimes directly proportional to the resources available to me. Which makes me wonder if what I’m doing is actually practicing discipline, or just being forced to appear disciplined because there are no other options available. Sometimes, that’s true, but speaking in recent terms, I do still have the option to make less optimal choices, and I’ve been avoiding that for the most part. Which is a very good thing, though not always the easiest choice.

I’ve been making a lot of choices that directly impact my spending, and while I’m trying not to impact the dogs or hubby any more than necessary with that (it’s not their fault I wasn’t managing my money well last year), I have made some decisions that require change for them too. Not backwards changes, just different. Like making dog treats instead of buying jerky and commercial dog bones. And hubby having to suffer through a few weeks of burnt toast edges (I did far better this week, thankyouverymuch) while I relearn how best to make toast in the oven (my toaster oven died, and I won’t be replacing it for a while due to “budget cuts”).

I’ve also been very cognizant of the grocery budget and sticking to a tight, smaller budget while shopping, and the thing that strikes me the most is…just how much stuff I often buy that we really don’t need. I’ve always been kind of a food-hoarder, and I like a wide variety of foods. Since I don’t menu plan, I often just buy a bunch of things that sound good, and keep what I’ve always referred to as a “well-stocked” refrigerator, freezer and pantry. So you would think that with buying less, the stocks would be waning, right?

They’re not, generally speaking. I mean, the stuff we eat/use all the time does, of course, but I restock those even when watching the budget. But we still have a too-full fridge, a too-full freezer, and a too-full pantry because there are things in all three that just aren’t getting eaten. It’s become clear that I need to do a fridge/pantry/freezer clean-out spree one of these weekends, and start over. There’s every reason to have a good stock of staples in the house, but no reason whatsoever to have so much food we’ll never get around to eating.

I also have an “overstock” of vacation hours at work I need to use or lose before March 31st. Perhaps a day or two of that should be earmarked for kitchen cleaning/decluttering/reorganization.

I’ve been more disciplined about screen time lately as well, with good results – namely, my eyes aren’t bugging me as much or as badly. I’ve been working on my knitting block in the evenings after a certain point, and that is far easier on the eyes. I didn’t get any writing done last week, but this week, it’s back to the Alphasmart with its non-backlit screen for my writing time. Considering I was using that time for ordering stuff I’d forgotten to order (tea, supplements) online, and updating my to-do list before bed last week, going back to writing is a nice change for both the eyes and the brain.

Interestingly enough, forcing myself to be more disciplined in financial matters has had the unintended side-effect of being more disciplined in other ways as well. Which makes sense, really – the more I tell myself “no” or “you have to wait” or “you don’t need that”, the easier it is to just wait or pass things up. I learned that as a child, of course – my parents were not indulgent in the least (and couldn’t afford to be), but somewhere along the way I’ve morphed into more of an instant gratification mindset, and I don’t think that’s a good or healthy thing, mentally speaking.

So the financial recovery process is also a sort of “re-calibration” process, and I like where both are going. Cheesy as it sounds, I think it will help me to be a better person all around, and I’ve already noticed some good results in that I’m getting more things done on time, organizing and prioritizing my time better. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get those two “resolution” books finished and published this year. We’ll see…


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Good News, Bad News

It’s crazy how much can happen in a week, isn’t it? More good news than bad, though, which is how it should be, methinks.

Good News: My new glasses came in last Tuesday, and I picked them up right away. I’m kind of missing the old bi-focals, because there was a clear demarcation of where the reading lens was vs. the rest of the correction, so it was easy to know where to direct your eyes. Now, I just have this sort of fuzzy area in between that won’t correct either way, and that does kind of drive me a little nuts. I’m sure I’ll get used to it, and I’m happy to have the stronger reading part (that does make a huge difference), even if it is kind of small, but it’s going to take a little more time.

Bad News: I think I mentioned that I missed budgeting the week before last due to poor planning on my part…and I definitely paid for that (no pun intended) last week. It was a very expensive mistake – one that I really couldn’t afford. So now, more unnecessary expenditures have to be temporarily dropped until I can make up the difference. Sucks, but this is a lesson I *will* learn, no matter how long I need to struggle with it.

Good News: Needless to say, I did get my transaction log downloaded early this past Friday, did my budgeting for the paycheck that should hit my account today, and as long as I’m careful and stick strictly to the budget, I’ll stay in the black. No finger-crossing necessary, just discipline.

I had Thursday and Friday off work last week – Thursday was my birthday, and I kept it all to myself. Friday was just for fun. My weekend was pretty low-key…household stuff, more new routines put into place (some money-saving), and I was more careful than normal with my time, so I got stuff done and didn’t have to rush about it. I am really going to strive to do that more often going forward. Weekends are so much nicer when they aren’t spent rushing to get everything done.

Yesterday wasn’t a vacation day, but a federal holiday, so I spent it writing and knitting. And playing a little, but I did limit close screen time because…

Bad News: I realized something a little depressing during the time I had off, which is that once again, I’m straining my eyes with all the “extracurricular screen time”. Mostly, playing games on my cell. *sigh* My eyes have been incredibly dry lately, and part of that is the extra heat running plus the cold air when we’re out walking, but part of that is my propensity for playing games in the evenings (Pokemon Go & Animal Crossing) rather than just watching TV and crocheting/knitting (or playing a game on the TV screen, which is far less taxing on the eyes than playing on my cell). The switch screen is bigger, and doesn’t seem to bother as much, but Pokemon Let’s Go is still engaging enough that I’ll sit there and stare and *not blink*, which is the killer.

So…along with breaks every hour or so, I also need to build in a few hours in the evening where I’m not visually focusing as hard. I’m using my Neo to write, which is a non-backlit screen with big letters, so that works well, and I’ll just have to make sure to put my cell down after we get back from walking and do something else while I’m watching TV (if not playing big-screen games).

Good News: My weight is slowly (oh, so slowly) dropping with the extra workout time I have with the new morning routine. I have time for weight lifting along with yoga four times per week (Mon/Weds/Thurs/Fri), and adding weight lifting in there has made a big difference. So hooray for that! I’ve lost around 9lbs since last August, and would like to lose another ten or so. We’ll see if the downward trend continues, but I’m cautiously optimistic.

Finally, I am a very small stack of comic books away from being completely caught up on my Harley Quinn backlog. Once that’s done, I only have a smallish stack of Amazing Spider-Man comics to get through, and I will finally be completely caught up with all my comic book series. *And* I got a gift certificate to the comic shop for my birthday, so…I see a restocking trip in my near future.

This week will be short, busy, and end in a haircut, which I really, really need.


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Of Money & Financial Matters

I guess maybe I should have made getting blog posts done a priority for the new year, eh? I’ve had a few very busy weeks, weekends, and some new routines I’m trying to establish, so blogging time still hasn’t found a permanent home in the new regime just yet. It’ll get there, eventually.

Obviously, since my finances are front and center in my mind this year, I’ve been trying to be a lot more disciplined in that regard. This particular pay cycle isn’t quite as fluid as I’d have liked, but that’s because I had to order new glasses, and my glasses are expensive (because I’m pretty much blind without them). Even more so this year, because I’m going back to “progressives” (or bi-focals, as they were called when I wore them in high school). People complain about them all the time, but honestly, I can’t wait to get them. I’m at the point where I can’t read close up things with my glasses on, but it has to be right in front of my face to read with my glasses off, so that perfect reading range is just out of my grasp either way you look at it.

Progressives will be a godsend, and I ordered them last Tuesday, so maybe one more week before they’re here. Can’t. Wait. I do have vision insurance now, which makes my glasses far more affordable. Very helpful.

Like so many other things, I like to do my budgeting late at night when it’s quiet and I can properly focus. The only problem with that is, my credit union (or rather the processing company behind the scenes) shuts down their web site every night from right around midnight until 2am. Anyone who works in technology knows that there’s no reason for a nightly shut-down, and plenty of banks are up and online round the clock, so this annoys me far more than it probably should. But it’s the way it is, and I need to remind myself to download a copy of my transactions before 11:30pm or so, so I can do that budgeting thing at my leisure.

Last year, I signed up for YNAB (You Need a Budget) software. It’s online budgeting software that basically is suppose to help you learn to “age” your money (ie, not spend it as fast, and create a cushion in your account). One of the main tenants of the system is to only budget with money you already have, and to budget every single dollar down to zero.

It didn’t work for me in the long run, because I can’t force myself to hold off on spending money right when I get it unless I know it’s already earmarked for something (before I get it). I was always trying to play catch-up with the budgeting and overspending when I really probably wouldn’t have if I’d just budgeted ahead and known that I needed to be more circumspect with my spending. That way when payday comes around, all those upcoming transactions are at the forefront of my brain and in my mind, the money is already spoken for. Or, as in the case of the coming paycheck, that I have money earmarked for a toaster oven, so I can hit the “checkout” button and get that ordered as soon as the money hits my account without worrying about trying to figure out which bill gets shorted to pay for that later.

I tried out a few other budgeting software packages, and the one I like best so far is called “Simple Home Budget“. It’s a desktop application, not a web app, which I actually prefer. You can set up recurring transactions, both income and expenses, and then you can easily see what you will have for the month, and what you need for bills. You can set recurring transactions to either “clear” automatically or manually – I set mine to manual, and there are categories for pretty much anything you want to track (and it’s easy to set up new categories too). It is indeed simple-looking, but there are some pretty complex details that make budgeting easier (like color coding, and you can import bank statements to balance, too).

I’m in the trial period now, but unlike most online software, it’s not a subscription to license this desktop app. YNAB is $89 every year, where Simple Home Budget is a one-time fee of $30. No brainer, cost-wise. And I like it better, too, so I’ll be buying a license and canceling YNAB at the end of the month. YNAB refunds the unused months if you cancel early, so the money from that will just about pay for the SHB license. Very nice.

Now I just need to make sure I have a copy of my bank statement downloaded before my normal Friday night budgeting time, and I’ll be set for this week.

Maybe I’ll actually get a budget set up for the BSB/book stuff this year too! Sure would be easier than tracking it all down in February so I can do our taxes… *ahem*

One thing at a time, right?

So It Begins Again: Resolutions 2019

Happy New Year! Or I’m cautiously optimistic that it will be, anyway.

Today, I’m doing a little knitting, a little library house-keeping (boxing comics and cataloging books) and maybe playing a little Pokemon here and there as well. I have some Christmas gifts to put away yet, and I’m making a pork roast for dinner. Should be a relatively quiet, relaxing day, which is my preference over spending the first day of the year with a bunch of family and chaos.

But before I get to any of that, or even sleep to start it all off, I finished my resolution and goal list. For the uninitiated, my resolutions are priority goals – the ones that get the most attention and focus during the year. The other goals are just that…things to work on when I get to them, or when they’re needed to make the resolutions happen.

Like last year, I decided to focus on three main resolutions this year, with a larger list of goals to work on when I have the time/inclination. And since my “money matters” got more than a little out of hand last year, I’m making them my top priorities in 2019. It’s important.

Here are the goals I upgraded to “resolution” status this year:

1) Pay off one major and 2 minor lines of credit
2) Institute a one-paycheck waiting period for all unnecessary, un-budgeted purchases
3) Publish two books

The first one is pretty specific, and even more so in the extended goals list – right down to how much I need to budget/pay each month in order to achieve that goal and keep everything else paid up as well. It’s not going to be fun, and it’s going to require some serious willpower, but it’s necessary and important. If I keep that resolution, it’ll be a serious chunk of debt paid off by the end of the year.

The second one is obviously an attempt to rein in my impulse-spending. I get paid on the 7th and 22nd of each month, so waiting until the purchase is budgeted for in the next paycheck isn’t asking too much. Will I miss out on some sales? Maybe. Will I miss out on some things entirely? More than likely. Is that okay? Absolutely.

Nothing in this category will be something necessary – if I wear a hole in my shoes and need a new pair, fine. If I want a new pair of boots because they’re on sale and I’m bored with my old (perfectly serviceable) pair, that purchase needs to wait, even if I have to budget full-price for it at a later date. Need and want are too completely different things, and by the end of the year, I hope to have retrained the emotional part of my brain to respect the difference and act accordingly, rather than giving in to the impulse to order/buy it right that very minute. I used to be far more practical when it came to purchasing “things” and I need to get back to that mindset again. For my bank account’s sake, among other things.

As for the third…well, it’s time to fish or cut bait, so to speak. I gave myself a lot of leeway when our Lucy-dog was sick, and again when we had to put her down, and again when we adopted the Murph. I’ve gone far too long without releasing anything book-wise, and it’s because I lost my writing confidence somewhere in all that “leeway”. So my third resolution is really more of an ultimatum to myself. Either get something done enough and publish the damn thing, or consign the business side of writing to the trash bin and quit pretending you’re actually trying to make something of it.

I’m not cut out for full-time writing (not until I retire, anyways), and I know that. Mostly because I don’t care to live without a steady paycheck if at all possible. But writing isn’t just something I do, either. No matter how good or bad I am at it, I can’t really stop, because writing stories is very much a part of how I process the world. So the question isn’t whether I should stop writing or not, but whether I should stop bothering to publish what I write. And that is what will be answered at the end of this year, depending on how I do with my third resolution.

So…a pretty hefty “big three” this year, but I feel very strongly that all of these will make my life better in the long run, even if I have to take a hit (or several) in the short term.

Other things on my list include incredibly mundane tasks like brushing my teeth and emptying the basement garbages as well as somewhat more interesting projects like starting a genealogy database for our family histories and continuing to catalog my collections. No matter what I get done (or don’t get done), it should be an interesting year with at least some forward progress by the end.

Here’s to a good year with a lot of determination and willpower. And maybe a few fun surprises along they way, too.