It’s amazing how what seems obvious to everyone can still sneak up on you and bite you in the ass. This can be in a good or bad way, as you’ll see in this piece. As the summer winds down I always like to take some time and reflect on how I spent my time, and what I can do better so that next year I don’t fall into the same traps. Doing this exercise may seem dull or depressing, but I find it eye-opening and quite helpful. This year I’ve accomplished quite a bit, and I’m heading back into the school year feeling refreshed and ready to take on the new batch of Kindergartners.
Over the summer I had been really focusing on eating well (meaning tons of fresh produce, pasture-raised meats and eggs, nuts and seeds – basically a Paleo-esque diet) and exercising every day. I got inspired by Nerd Fitness, an amazing resource that is witty, insightful and encouraging all in one. It really focuses on making one small change at a time, like adding a vegetable to every meal, or swapping one of your morning coffees for a glass of water, etc. I went with it, thinking it certainly wouldn’t do any harm, and what did I discover? Over the summer, without really trying, I had lost 7 pounds. Consider my ass bitten by surprise! In the past I always tried big, massive changes in order to “get in shape” and they never seemed to work in my favour, but using teeny tiny little steps towards building better habits paid off in the extreme.
On the flip side, tiny steps can work against you. They certainly did this summer in the financial department. Summer is a carefree time, when I have all the days off to do whatever I please. As mentioned above I am quite tickled by how I spent my time, but as I peruse my credit card bill I am less than impressed with how I spent my money. The annoying thing is: most of the non-essential items on there are less than $10, but altogether they have added up to more spending than I did in the first six months of the year (not including things like groceries and rent). Ass bitten, but on the other cheek and in a far more painful manner.
It was only in the past week that I got my wallet back in my pocket and left the credit cards at home again. In order to get more inspiration I got books out from the library about finances and motivating stories, I read Mr. Money Mustache, along with some of my other favourite blogs (ChooseFi, The Financial Diet, Dumpster Dog, among others), and found ways to entertain myself without having to spend my hard-earned moolah.
Going back to work brings a nice sense of discipline to my money life – not only do I have less time to spend the money, I am more aware of what working for a living feels like. After two months of not having to set an alarm you forget. This is an important lesson for me as I continue to delve into my Financial Independence journey – when I am no longer working, I’m going to need to find something more meaningful to fill my days with, otherwise I may not stay FI for very long. These tiny steps are excellent learning tools for me, and I plan on using their lessons to build more health and more wealth along the way.