Yes, for most people, summer starts in June. Around here, we had graduation today, so summer break starts next week for me. After a faculty retreat on Monday, the summer is my own. Once, at a conference, I was talking over life choices with a few other graduate students. We were complaining about our meager earning power, when I said, “yes, but we get paid in time.” It’s really true. I’m on a ten-month contract, but I have roughly five months out of the year where I’m in charge of my own schedule. That’s an amazingly great deal! During graduate school, I always worked in the summer, so last summer was my first “summer off.” I finished an article, did some research, and had plenty of time to read, garden, and cook. I also had about three weeks with the future step-daughters.
And, of course, I spent entirely too much money! Looking back, I can see that some of my worst spending choices are linked to anxiety. I was anxious about living in a new town, keeping myself busy, and if there would be a permanent commitment from my boyfriend, so I converted that anxiety into spending. I bought lots of kitchen gadgets, canned ridiculous amounts of jam in the early months, and spent far too much money entertaining the step-kids. When the younger one proclaimed that going to Target and then going out for a nice lunch was our “thing,” the little voice inside my head said, “uh oh!” We won’t get the girls until June, but I’m sure one of my June goals will be to find fun, frugal things to do with them. I know that my credit cards were far too busy during all my time off last summer!
So, what do I hope to do differently this summer? Well, we’ll start off with just May:
- Get up at 7:00 am and get moving Monday — Friday. Antishay posted about how she’s going to start each morning with a power walk to boost productivity. I think that’s a great idea! Much better than the hour and a half I spent surfing the web this morning.
- Write/research for two to four hours each day. I’ve got a conference presentation the third week of May. I’ll need to finish up the paper by then, so I’ll have to spend some mornings in the library this month.
- Edit page proofs for my upcoming article. I think this task will be the most fun. Hooray for an upcoming article!
- Earn $400 in snowflakes. I need to get busy selling stuff, and I think setting this goal will be a good motivator.
- Don’t spend the stimulus check. It’s gotta go straight to debt. Enough said!
- Stay in budget in San Francisco. I’ve got $400 for eating out and shopping on my trip. I don’t want to get swept up in shopping fun and spend more than that.
- Limit house cleaning to two times a week. My grandmother was a super-cleaning guru. Once, when she was like 85, my cousin came out of her bathroom completely shocked at how amazingly perfect her grout was. I think the cleaning gene has weakened in my family since her generation, but it is easy to spend WAY too much time getting everything perfect.
- Cook frugally. Last summer, I made almost every recipe in Gourmet magazine. We ate really well, but this year, I need to be more cost-conscious. I’ll still have us eat locally, but I’m going to be more careful about menu planning.
- Limit driving to two “Driving Days” a week. When I get bored, it’s pretty easy to waste an afternoon running “errands,” like checking to see if Williams-Sonoma has a yogurt maker. Since I live in a small town, I can walk downtown, to the grocery store, to the bank, and to the library. I can bike to our local farm’s store. Both for my wallet and our planet, it’ll be better to only drive twice a week.
- Make an effort to socialize at least once a week. I’m an introvert by nature and can easily hole up. Then, when the future husband gets home, he gets a little overwhelmed being my only human contact! This month, I’ll be sure to make plans with other people at least once a week.
- Find out about volunteering at the Farmer’s Market. I’d like to meet more people in our town, and I think this (plus the library book group) will be a good start.
- Keep going to church regularly. I’ve found a church I’m pretty happy with (unfortunately it’s about thirty minutes away). I’d like to get more involved there as the summer unfolds.
- Post every day. I’m really enjoying the blog and hope to see it grow. I’m giving myself three months to stay serious about it before I check into advertising. I told the future husband that it’s already making us tons of money because it keeps me so focused on my financial choices!
- Grow the blog by ten hits a week. Right now, I’m in between 100 and 150 most days. The growth in the first month was awesome, but I know that I can’t expect that rate to continue. However, ten more a week this month seems fair.
- Get fifteen new subscribers. I only have 22 subscribers, so here’s a goal you can totally help me with. If you haven’t subscribed, join in! You know it’s easy and fun. If you don’t have a blog reader, you can subscribe by e-mail. That’s what I do. If you want me to subscribe to your blog, drop me a comment; I’d be happy to swap!