On Money, Goals & Guilt

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(Photo credit)

It’s been a few months since I shared my plans for the New Year and wrote about some of my regrettable purchases from the prior twelve months, so I thought it was time to check in.

I chose the word “Shift” as my theme for 2017 because I want to make some dramatic shifts with my career, finances and personal life. Of all the annual theme words I’ve chosen over the past five years, this is probably the one that’s resonated the most with me. Whenever I’m making a decision – however small- the word pops into my head and I ask myself, “is this choice going to shift me in the direction I want to go?” Even though I still make choices that aren’t always in line with my goals (eating that bag of Doritos, taking a cab when I could take the bus, buying that pair of shoes) because I’m an imperfect human being, thinking about shifting has at least made me more conscientious about my actions and what effect they may have long term.

Plus, as I’ve learned, change happens in small increments. Progress isn’t always visible right away. It’s cumulative.

So, how am I doing with my goals and intentions? Let’s recap.

Be Frugal.

At the beginning of the year I made a “no buy list.”

I also challenged myself to not purchase any new clothing items until at least May. The only category I really followed through on was not purchasing books (more on that in a second!) I did alright with the other items: Makeup (I spent $10 on a Nyx liquid shadow), Art (I more or less avoided any art binges, but I did spend $30 on an autographed Erykah Badu print I saw on eBay) and I bought my Mom and I matching George Michael pins for mother’s day ($30). However, the “no clothing and shoe purchases” rule was an epic failure. I bought some shoes. I bought some clothes. I replaced some basics. I felt varying degrees of guilt about almost all of it.

But then I had a moment the other day. It was right after I paid off the entirety of my two credit cards. For the first time in a few years, I’m completely free of commercial debt. So, apparently I must have done something right the past few months.

I’m still sticking to the no new makeup or book purchases rule, but I’m allowing myself to buy a few things as long as I’m still prioritizing putting money into savings every month. 

Wear the lipstick and earrings.

This is going well…I guess? I bought a couple of new earring & necklaces sets when H&M and Forever21 had a 70% off sale and have been experimenting with those. Still rocking a bold lip. Not everyday, but often enough.

Learn to cook something new every month.

This has been touch and go. While I’ve learned how to make Ropa Vieja (Cuban beef) and perfected my plantain frying skills, I think the goal should actually be: just cook more at home, period.

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Get to Wardrobe Zero.

This is going well. Although I’ve added some things to my wardrobe, I’ve pulled out an equal or greater number of items to be donated or sold. Wardrobe zero, here I come!

Get to Bookshelf Zero.

When I did my taxes a few weeks ago, I was shocked and kind of appalled at how much I spent on books in 2016. I’m not even going to give you a number. Long story short, I feel like I’ve done really well with this goal. Out of the 25 books I’ve read in 2017 so far, I only purchased two of them as e-books. The rest have been from my TBR pile or the library. I also spent $10 on another Prince coffee table book because, reasons. Overall, so much better than last year. I might even challenge myself to not buy anymore books for the remainder of the year….

PS. Are we friends on Goodreads?

Get to Beauty Zero.

With the exception of an overpriced container of Kevin Murphy curl cream that I’m not really feeling (#regretpurchase), I haven’t added any new products to my beauty arsenal.

Fitness Goals.

I’m still doing pole classes and still loving it. New fitness goals: be able to do the splits again and get to the point where I’m not self-conscious about wearing a sports-bra as a shirt at the gym. I imagine this will involve a combination of even more core work & some self-acceptance. Stay tuned.

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Be Limitless.

I struggled with this one. After crashing and burning in April (brought on by trying to do too many things at once) and having a major crisis of faith (should I even be a writer?) I realized I do have limits. I’m most effective when I’m focusing on one or two big goals. As my writing coach recently told me, “your priorities are an asset.” In other words, I’m capable of doing all the things but not all at the same time. Right now I’m all about working on my book, staying fit and being frugal, so I’m just going to focus on that. The ballet, cooking, crafting and learning to drive will just have to wait.

This is all to say that making sustainable changes takes time. Even if you feel like you’re failing, stop and do the math –  there’s probably a few things you are doing right. Focus on those and keep moving forward. At least that’s what I’m trying to remember these days. 

How are you doing?


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  • I didn’t set goals for the year, in part because I usually fail at that – but I’m definitely trying to pay off my commercial debt this year, too (way to go!) & rebuild my savings after a difficult year, tax-wise & otherwise. I’m not doing great, in part because I had to buy a bunch of new clothes because I gained weight, but: I’m trying to be frugal about the clothes-buying, I canceled all my subscription boxes, I’m freelancing a little to cushion the expenses, & I started saving through the Digit app so I can also do a bunch of rainy-day saving without really realizing it. I’m workin’ on it – but it sounds like you’re killin’ it!

    • skinny_dip

      I think we’re all just ‘working on it’ – some days I’m killing it on the money goals…other days, I end up buying overpriced green juice. I think it’s a process, but it sounds like you’re doing lots of things right! xo