Thursday, January 28, 2010

January Quandaries: budgets, exercise, and motivation

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking this week about the effects this time of year has on me. I always get a little down in the winter (though only since moving to Portland- the snowy winters where I grew up drove the blues away. I think it has to do with snow making things brighter and reflecting sunlight…just a theory) and this is about the time every winter when I get very restless but also very lethargic. I aspire to bike up the Alberta hill to yoga once a week, and at the last minute poop out because it sounds too hard, even though I know it will make me feel better. I get frustrated more easily, want to get out of dodge and go somewhere warm and sunny, and struggle to keep myself positive and engaged in my friend group.

I’ve really been struggling with exercise recently- my bike rides to work are super short so I have to go out of my way to get more physical activity, which is really hard to motivate myself to do when it’s dark and rainy outside. My goals are to bike to yoga on Tuesdays and swim at my local pool on Thursdays, but even knowing how great I’ll feel afterwards, I have a hard time maintaining the willpower it takes just to get there. I’m experimenting with making my motivations different- for example, tonight I am biking up to Alberta to have dinner with one of my best friends, something that sounds like a lot of fun, and will also get me some exercise. Matt is also good about refusing to drive me places I could bike to, so I don’t use getting a ride as a cop-out.

I’ve also been trying to balance how to get my own projects done while juggling time between my apartment and Matt’s. We tend to split our time fairly evenly during the week, with more time spent at my place on the weekends. We usually take one or two days each week where we don’t see each other at all. But often during the week I have projects I want to get done and get stressed out trying to fit them in on the few nights I have at my house, and get especially distracted if Matt is there. We are still working on how to both work on our own things in the same space, which is made difficult by the fact that we both live in tiny apartments. I’m realizing I need to do some planning around having portable projects, reading, etc. that I can take with me when I go to his house in the evening, so I can still feel like I’m accomplishing some of my own things while spending time with him.

Another thing on my mind has been spending- it’s always a constant consideration of mine, as I place a lot of value on being able to save money and live frugally, but this month it has not gone well. Sure, there were a few big purchases that were necessary and that will last me for years, like the fluorescent shop lights I bought to use for starting my tomatoes and peppers. Also $50 went for my application fee with my graduate school application (which has been officially turned in! One task checked off my list). But still my credit card bill is far higher than I would like, so I’ve decided that instead of just trying to “curb my spending,” it’s time for a budget. I’m going to challenge myself in February and go with the “cash only” rule. I will withdraw $400 in cash at the beginning of the month, and that is all I am allowed to spend (beyond rent and utilities, of course) until March 1. I think I can do it- it will just be an extra challenge to see if I can have any left over at the end of the month. With my credit card completely paid off (which I do every month), I will set the goal after February of spending $250 in cash per month, and allowing myself to put $150 on my credit card. This way I will keep my credit record rolling, and still get the dividends (I have the REI credit card). I will check in at the end of February as to how this is going.

Hopefully finding some solutions to all of these issues will help me fair better mentally as I wait for spring to arrive.


Laurel said...

I don't know how you feel about running / jogging BUT if you need motivation and are interested there is a half marathon in October in Vancouver, WA (just for women) that you could train for with me - even though we aren't in the same place.

Heather said...

Glad you're sorting things out and trying new things!
I'm wondering if your flourescent lights will increase your electricity bill? Did you say you leave them on for most of the day?
Wahoo on the grad school application!