On Reading, Time, & Creativity

It’s been a long, very busy couple of weeks, and things are just starting to get back to normal (though I hesitate to say that, because you know what happens next…). Hence the no blogging thing. I don’t really know how to describe it, and I haven’t really been in a “funk”, so to speak, just…treading water and trying to get my routines back to where they should be. Only every time I think it’s gonna happen, something else happens, and I get waylaid, and then my routines get all screwy and I don’t get anything done at all.

It’s annoying.

The other thing that’s annoying is picking up a box of books free from a former co-worker who was cleaning out her shelves, and staring at the box in my living room wondering when I’ll ever have time to read them all.

I used to be a voracious reader. A typical paperback would take me two, maybe three nights to finish…maybe four if it was incredibly thick. Now the same size books take me weeks to finish, and it’s generally because I short-change my very limited reading time with writing or just getting ready for bed (after staying up too late writing or whatever). Fifteen minutes a night is okay for short stories and such, but it really stretches a novel out to turn-around times bordering on the ridiculous.

Needless to say, I’ve been having trouble sitting down and writing, too. There are some writers out there who insist they just don’t have time to read, but I firmly believe that reading is important for writing – they go hand in hand. You have to fill the well, so to speak. Creativity in, creativity out. And I’ve definitely been neglecting my “well”.

What to do, what to do? The obvious answer is to read more. But when?

Well, I’m not sure. I have a few ideas, but need to see if they’ll work with existing routines, which is not always as easy as it sounds. But I have a feeling that if I get back to reading more, writing more will come naturally as well. Or I hope it will, anyways.

Books I have currently in progress are: a short story/poem collection by Neil Gaiman, and “About that Kiss” by Jill Shalvis.

What are you reading? And if you’re a writer, do you think how much (or little) you read affects how much or little you write?


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Alternate Reality: Preview Mode

Tomorrow, it’s back to work after 5 days and a weekend off. No major catastrophes, no major outlay of “vacation” time for work issues…I think we might be on to something with this whole “taking partial weeks off” thing. Or it could just be the time of year, too. Whatever works, I say.

I was mostly productive, though not as much as I thought I’d be. But that’s to be expected, so I guess that makes it a wash between expectations and reality. I got some extra cleaning done, I learned how to create my own print book templates properly and reformatted the book I’ve been wanting to for months now. I still need to create another template and reformat the cover again for a mass market version to distribute, but that will be much easier now that I’m not fumbling around with the formatting in general, and know how to set and use styles in Open Office. Sometimes all it takes is the proper tools.

I caught four shiny Treeckos for Pokemon Go community day, and evolved one plus a couple “normal” into Sceptiles who are supposedly the best grass-type fighters for raids (we’ll see). At the same time, I didn’t play much Pokemon Go on account of the whole “go” thing, which I didn’t do much of aside from daily dog walks and the normal weekend errands. I am, at heart, a homebody. I’m perfectly content to stay home for days on end without seeing anyone but the dogs and my husband.

I did get back to Batman: Arkham Asylum for a night. One of the battles I had to fight was *intense*, and I was actually a little sore the next morning from tensing up during the five or six (maybe more?) times I had to try before I finally got through it.

I also subscribed to Starz for awhile so we could watch American Gods and Gnomeo and Juliet. The initial episode of the former is trippy, the latter is hilarious. I never did make it through the American Gods novel…gave up – it’s a doorstopper. But the show has me intrigued enough to watch a few more episodes, at least.

Gnomeo and Juliet is just adorably cute, and now that we’ve seen that (and agree we need an army of garden gnomes to make our yard look better), Sherlock Gnomes is up next on our movie “to-watch” list.

It’s interesting how quickly I settled into a routine of sorts this time. Most of my vacations are unorganized because I have so much to do, and I plan my time so tightly that it’s overwhelming. Either that, or I have a vague idea of things I want to do, and then plan nothing, so I do nothing. This time, I had a few concrete goals/priorities, but kept them limited by design, and the rest was just “if I get to it, great, if not, great”. I settled into a nice routine of working in the mornings (on my book stuff and then cleaning when I needed a break from sitting), walking the dogs after lunch, and then errands or more work/cleaning trade-offs in the afternoon. A loose, comfortable routine that I could maintain indefinitely if I had the chance.

Someday (20 yrs down the road, *sigh*), this will be my life. And it will be good.

Alas, tomorrow it’s back to the hustle and bustle of the day job/work-week routine.


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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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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?