I’m in a bit of a time crunch, but, as it is officially October, I wanted to go ahead and get my numbers out for September:

Net Worth as of September 30, 2015

Net Worth as of September 30, 2015

The market was rough again this month. I actually thought that I’d end the month flat, but between contributions and a slight upswing in my 401k, I’m ending September $570 ahead of August in overall net worth. Not exactly where I wanted to be, but overall not bad. A gain is a gain!

Of course, month over month, my 401k has lost value. But, in the long run, that’s a good thing. I’m still in purchasing mode, so right now I’m able to buy at a discount. Someday I’ll be thankful for all of the little downturns throughout the years.

I’m also continuing the upward trend for this year:

Chart of net worth growth since the start of time (or the start of this blog)

Chart of net worth growth since the start of time (or the start of this blog)

Every little bit helps!

  • Cindy W.

We were flipping through a stack of snapshots my Mom finally got back from my sister’s wedding. My Mom had bought two disposable cameras, one for each of my nephews, to take pictures of the wedding. Somehow the cameras ended up in my purse, and since the reception was at a bar (i.e., the nephews weren’t allowed to attend) I’d started snapping pictures at random to use up the film. My Mom was super excited to show me the pictures of Bryan and I. “Aren’t they great?” She was so happy to finally have pictures of us together.

Ugh! I can’t believe I’m that fat!

Unlike in my teens and twenties, when I thought being a normal weight was fat, at this point in my life, I truly am: My 5’3 frame is medically considered obese at my current weight of 178 pounds. Honestly, I’ve struggled with weight and body image issues my entire life; My pediatrician warned my Mom that I was already showing signs of an eating disorder at age 4. I’ve spent my entire life yoyo-ing between too thin and curvy. But even when I considered myself overweight, I never was really overweight. That is, until I reached my 30’s.

I can blame it on the age, but it really has more to do with activity level. I’ve never been one to consistently work out, but in the past, I’d always had jobs in a restaurant or retail environment. I’d spend all day on my feet, running from place to place, carrying heavy items. Sometimes I was thin, sometimes I was curvy. There was even a short stint where I was incredibly toned. Through it all, I mostly stayed within a “healthy” weight range for my height (I have to admit to a few years in the “underweight” category). But when I left management to pursue accounting, all of that changed. Suddenly I was chained to a desk for 9-12 hours a day. It didn’t take long for the numbers on the scale to start creeping upwards.

Along with weight, my 30’s brought a new-found comfort with my body. For once in my life, I didn’t mind being a little plush. My family encouraged me, perhaps out of fear I’d swing back to the other extreme. They’d constantly tell me how good I looked, how I looked curvy, not overweight. I’d look in the mirror and see what I wanted to see; Sure my thighs were a little too big, and my arms were thicker than I’d like, and let’s not talk about the pudge of my belly. I could see my flaws, but overall, I still saw me. But pictures have a way of telling another story, and I’m always shocked at what I see in those glossy prints. Looking at pictures is always a shock to my ego.

In the past, looking at pictures I considered unflattering would have been the catalyst to pushing me over the edge into less-than healthy behaviors. This time, it was a reminder to keep doing what I’m doing.

I’m not going to try to pretend that I’m busting my ass and making dramatic changes to my diet. But, then again, dramatic for me has never been sustainable. For once in my life, I’m working on being realistic. I’m watching my portions. I’m making healthier choices. I’m not denying myself anything, but I’m only indulging when it’s truly worth it to me. I’m trying to fit long walks into my schedule, which is actually something I’ve always loved doing. I’m making an effort to stay busy, especially on evenings and weekends, instead of lounging around.

I haven’t made astounding progress. But when I start to get frustrated, I remind myself that I started the year at 194 pounds. In the back of my mind, I know how far I have to go. I try not to look at the big picture; After all, having 40-50 more pounds to lose is an overwhelming thought, especially when you’ve only lost 16 pounds in the last 9 months. Instead, I’m concentrating on two things as keys to my success. The first is to maintain. For every plateau I’ve hit, for every day I’ve fallen off the wagon, I remind myself that the most important thing right now is to maintain. In the past, every setback would have pushed me towards giving up, and gaining back every pound I’d lost (and then some). The road to 194 pounds was paved with years of countless weight loss efforts. I remind myself every day that so long as I’m not gaining, I’m succeeding. I tend to be one of those people who will plateau for what seems like forever, and then suddenly drop all at once. I may not have lost any weight today, or this week, or even this month, but if I can keep pushing ahead, eventually the loss will come. And the overall goal is to keep losing more weight, not losing and gaining the same weight over and over.

From there, I’m concentrating on increments. My goal right now isn’t to lose 50 pounds, or 20 pounds, or even 5 pounds. Eventually I’ll make it there. Right now, I’m taking things in increments. When I weighed 194, my goal was to solidly establish myself in the low 190’s. After that, it was the high 180’s. Then the mid 180’s. Now that I’m at 178, my goal is to make it into the mid 170’s. It isn’t an exact number, but once I’m 176 or below, and can maintain that (because my weight fluctuates a pound or two every day), I’ll consider that goal met, and start looking towards the next increment.

At this rate, it may take me years to get back to a healthy weight range. But then I remind myself that it took about 5 years for me to get this far out of the healthy weight range. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life trying every fad diet that comes along, trying to lose the pounds as quickly as possible, only to gain them right back. I’m finding a life of moderation that I can stick to for the long haul. In all likelihood, I have a very long life ahead of me; Does it really matter if I’m still losing weight in my late 30’s, if it means maintaining a healthy weight into my late 80’s?

After the initial shock wore off, I looked at the pictures again. Sure, the image didn’t match what I look like in my mind. Seeing reality is a good reminder of why I need to stay the course. Losing the weight is important to me. It’s also important that I lose the weight in a healthy, sustainable way, so I don’t end up right back where I am now. And, after a minute, I was able to look past the weight, and see how happy we both were. It was a reminder that this really isn’t about being skinny, or being fat; I’d like to be healthy, so I can enjoy the life we’re building together for many years to come.

It’s been almost two years since my old cell phone took a dive (or a swim… in the toilet), and I took the plunge with Republic Wireless. I can honestly say it’s been a pretty great couple of years; Aside from the very rare minor issues that pop up with all cell phones, everything has been seamless.

I chose Republic’s $10 monthly plan, which includes unlimited 3G talk and text, and WiFi only data. Including taxes and fees, I paid $12.54 per month. The plan was almost perfect for me. After all, I connect to WiFi at home and work, and can even connect to my parent’s WiFi when I visit them each Sunday. Many restaurants and retailers even offer free WiFi. I’m covered almost everywhere I go!


And that almost was the only drawback to the plan. What about when I went on vacation? Or was driving somewhere and got lost? There always seemed to be those times throughout the month when I found myself commenting “I don’t have WiFi here”. Sure, I could have upgraded to the unlimited 3G talk, text and data plan. But at $25 per month, I’d be more than doubling my monthly cell phone bill. Did I use enough data to make upgrading worth it? I could even upgrade my plan temporarily, for things like vacations, and then switch back to the cheaper plan at a prorated rate. But would I remember to switch back? It seemed like such a hassle!

Apparently, Republic Wireless has been reading my mind: This Summer, they introduced a new pricing structure that allowed users to buy data in .5GB increments. The new plans start with the $10 basic unlimited text, talk and WiFi plan. Then, you can buy 4G data for $7.50 for every .5GB. You can buy a set amount of data automatically each month. If you run out of data, you can make a one time purchase of more data. And, making the plan even better? They’ll refund you the cost of any data you don’t use.

The idea of buying only the data I actually need was incredibly appealing to me, especially since I’m not a big data user. After all, most of my data is used when I’m on WiFi, which would still be part of the $10 base plan. After thinking it over for a month or so, I took the plunge and switched my plan to the new structure. Since I didn’t think I’d use much data, I only added .5GB to the base plan, making it $17.50 per month ($20.04 with taxes and fees).

An extra $7.50 per month isn’t exactly nothing. I wanted to get the most out of my data, so I made sure to adjust my settings to prevent many of my Apps from running in the background on cell data. And then? I used my phone as if I had no limits. I checked Facebook as I sat in waiting rooms. I got turn by turn directions after getting lost on a few occasions surrounding my sister’s wedding. I looked up more useless trivia than any person has a right to.

I was really curious to see how much data I would actually use, and how the data refund would work. My billing period officially closed on September 22. In the past month I used 228.4MB of the 500MB (.5GB) of data I purchased. Less than half! Republic gave me a generous $4.15 refund on my bill, meaning October’s bill will only cost me $15.89.

For $15.89, I have unlimited talk, text, WiFi data, and more than enough 4G data for how I use my phone. I no longer feel like I’m making compromises to save money. I have everything I need (and more!), and am still saving a ton of money compared to what I paid with traditional carriers. Granted, my data use will vary from month to month, so my bill may not always be so low. But I know the cap is $20.04, unless I intentionally purchase more data. I’m comfortable with that.

  • Cindy W.

This is not an affiliate or sponsored article. I am not being paid for my opinion. These views are strictly my own; YMMV.

I’ve been struggling lately with deciding what my next step is; Honestly, with life in general, but specifically with this blog. It seems like I have a million ideas in my head, and I’m having difficulty deciding what direction to take. I wrote about some of this a few weeks back. The general consensus seemed to be that, instead of starting a new blog from scratch, I should start incorporating some of my new ideas on Growing Her Worth, while sticking with some of the things that are already working for me.

I think I’m on board with making changes here. But then I couldn’t decide where to start: Going through old posts to delete ones that I wouldn’t want associated with the new content? Create a new layout for the blog? Maybe I should work on new content? No, I already write posts.

And then I realized, September is mostly gone, and I’ve only posted twice!

I seem to have developed a bad case of analysis-paralysis. In my obsession  to do things perfectly, I haven’t done anything! And it isn’t just the blog; In my quest to be the perfect partner, daughter, granddaughter, sister, aunt, employee, gardener, blogger, healthy person, I haven’t made any of the changes that I’ve been thinking about. It’s like I’m waiting for some magical time when everything comes together on its own, and the timing is perfect, and the plan just makes sense. We all know that’s never going to happen!

I can’t be everything to everybody. And I can’t expect perfection in, well, anything. I need to start prioritizing what’s important to me, and then start doing. I’m not making any promises. Things at work have blown up, and the Holidays are coming! But, I need to start taking steps forward, no matter how imperfect those steps may be.

  • Cindy W.

The past week has been a complete whirl-wind, with my sister’s wedding, birthdays, a Holiday, and lots going on at work. Actually, I think the rest of this year is going to be a little bit crazy, especially with all the upcoming Holidays. Which made me thankful that “C” over at The Single Dollar nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger Award. It was really sweet of her to think of me. And, it gives me something to post!

The Sunshine Blogger Award Rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you
  • Answer the questions from the person who nominated you
  • Nominate some other bloggers for this award
  • Ask the same number of questions of the other bloggers as you were asked
  • Notify the bloggers whom you nominated

Here are my answers to C’s questions:

  1. What’s a money disaster you still regret? Can be over-spending, failure to make $$, whatever. My first instinct was to say co-signing on the student loan for my sister. That was definitely a HUGE mistake, but what I really regret is how I handled my money after that (and even before that), which is what lead to eventually file bankruptcy. Yes, my sister defaulting on the loan, and never doing anything to rectify the situation, was terrible, and hurtful, and financially disastrous. But, had I had my finances in order, or known how to get my finances in order, I could have recovered. People do it every day. Bankruptcy isn’t the saving grace (or easy escape) that most people assume it will be. I think my recovery would have been much easier had I figured out my money years ago, and avoided bankruptcy altogether.
  2. Do you still read magazines in this digital age? If so, which one(s)? Kind of, but not exactly. I signed up for a free “Creative Ideas” magazine that Lowe’s sends out once a quarter, which has all kinds of ideas on DIY projects. I’ve never actually done any of the projects, but I love looking at the ideas. To me it’s like Christmas decorations: Sparkly and shiny, and makes me happy just to look at it, without having any inclination to “own” it. And somehow when I changed my address after selling the house, I started getting “Better Homes and Gardens”. I sometimes flip through that, but find I get disinterested having to flip through all the ads of a traditional magazine. Granted, the Lowe’s magazine is basically one big advertisement, but they hide it in the form of DIY projects.
  3. Describe your favorite birthday party you’ve ever had. Is it sad that I can’t come up with a favorite birthday party that I’ve had? As an introvert, I’m not very fond of gatherings where the attention is focused on me. It feels awkward. Last year was nice: Bryan and I went out for a nice dinner, just the two of us. Does that count?
  4. What’s a food that you didn’t like when you were younger, but do now? Brussels Sprouts. My mom always bought the frozen kind, with the butter, that end up being squishy and weird. I’m a texture person, so I could never get past the way they felt. In my mid 20’s I learned how to cut them into thin disks, and fry them in butter until crispy. Love them! It opened me up to experimenting with all different veggies that I never would eat growing up.
  5. Where do you see yourself, financially, in five years? Five years from now I see myself debt free, and in a more financially stable position. Probably making less money, but having more freedom and flexibility, and still being able to set something aside for the future. I see Bryan and I living more on less, if that makes sense?

I nominate Zoe at my unhoardED life, Mr. SSC at Slowly Sipping Coffee, and Laura at My SHINY Nickels.

  1. What was your favorite remodeling or craft project?
  2. Have you ever left a job unexpectedly (been fired or quit)? How did you cope?
  3. What is one thing you love to splurge on?
  4. If you had a whole day, with no plans, and nothing that needed done, what would you do?
  5. What is the best place you’ve ever traveled to?

Thanks again C for the nomination!

  • Cindy W.

I’m not going to lie, August was a very spend-y month. I was a little shocked when I ran the numbers. And also, a little confused: Where did the money come from to spend so much?!?

A breakdown of spending during August, 2015

A breakdown of spending during August, 2015

All said and done, I spent $3,456 and brought in $2,569. But wait! The eye-glass purchase was reimbursed, along with $222 of previous medical spending. AND, that $300+ reimbursement from the gas company finally came through. So it isn’t really as bad as it initially looks. I also will see a reimbursement for $130 of the Medical/CoPays for the eye exam. I have to wait for the $40 reimbursement to come through from my eye insurance before I can submit the other $90 to my FSA. The rest of the Medical/CoPays is for things like allergy medicine and other miscellaneous expenses that won’t be reimbursed.

Some of the expenses are pretty normal, like rent and the car payment. I also had some routine maintenance done on my car during August. I’ll get a $15 rebate towards future maintenance, which will help out with costs later on this year.

Grocery/Household spending was really high this month. Part of the reason is because we did some canning this month, and I bought supplies. I need to talk about that in a future post. The rest? Um… We were hungry? I have no idea!

I spent twice as much on gas this month. Some of that flowed over from last month: July was a longer month (5 weeks), and I did a lot more driving in July because of everything that was going on with my sister. Which meant I had to get gas within the first few days of August. I also did a lot more driving during August, between my younger sister’s surgery (they ended up removing her lump), and my older sister’s wedding (shopping!), and everything else.

The $108 for internet was to cancel the service on my HotSpot. From here on out, I won’t have a bill for Internet. Bryan covers our at home service, so there’s still a bill, it just isn’t part of my monthly expenses. Miscellaneous was for flowers for a funeral. Restaurant spending wasn’t too bad this month, so that’s nice. My cell phone bill is up; I’ve decided to switch to one of Republic Wireless’s new plans, which includes some 4G data each month. I really need to write a post about that at some point, but I want to wait until I see how the first month goes.

So far, I’ve spent $76 on wedding related purchases. My sister’s wedding is this weekend, so by next week I’ll know what the damage is. I’ve been looking at ways to cut costs, without skimping where it actually matters. We’ll see if that plan works, or if it all goes out the door once the party starts rolling!

So, there you have it: All the dirty details of my August spending! There are some places that I definitely could have cut back. But I also feel like I’m getting better about not creating excuses to spend. It used to be that something like a wedding would come along, and my budget would totally go out the window. Sure, a wedding is a valid reason to spend, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to set limits, and cut back where you can. I’m hoping to follow the same reasoning into the Holidays. Yes, I’ll spend money, but that doesn’t mean I can’t set limitations, and try to cut costs where I can. We’ll see how that goes!

– Cindy W.

It’s officially the last day of August! I didn’t really foresee much going on today (at least financially), so I went ahead and put the numbers for this month together last night:

Net Worth as of August 30, 2015

Net Worth as of August 30, 2015

Not exactly a stellar month, but I did see $792 worth of growth. The markets didn’t fare so well this month, so I’m actually kind of glad to be showing any growth at all; Last week it was looking like I would see a decrease in net worth this month. I did end the month with a slight loss to my 401(k) plan and Roth IRA. But paying extra towards my car loan helped balance that out. And, since I’m continuing to contribute to my 401(k) plan, I got to take advantage of buying when the market was low. Overall, it’s an ideal situation when you’re buying index funds, and still have decades in the market before retirement.

I’m also continuing the pattern of overall growth for 2015:

Chart of net worth growth since the start of time (or the start of this blog).

Chart of net worth growth since the start of time (or the start of this blog).

Continuing to trend upwards is a great thing. The last few months I haven’t been seeing the type of growth I would need in order to make my secondary goal of growing my net worth by $20,000 in 2015 (to $31,696). But I’m okay with that; I knew it was going to be a stretch goal when I set it. I’m still going to push ahead and continue to try. Even if I end up short, I’ll still be in a better position than when I started!

Now I just need to figure out how to reign things in for the Holidays, so I don’t end up blowing the rest of 2015!

– Cindy W.

Once again, Friday has rolled around, and I’m super excited. I look forward to weekends, when my time is actually mine, and I can spend it the way that I want. This weekend that means working in the yard, spending time with friends and family, and doing some last-minute preparations for my sister’s wedding. Next week’s work week will be delightfully short, with the wedding and Holiday combining into a long 5-day weekend. Weekends and Holidays are a constant reminder of why I need to stay on track, and what I’m working for: Freedom from the corporate world, from being tied to a desk 9-5 (actually, 7:30-5, but whatever).

I’m also feeling a little apprehensive lately about my finances. Overall my financial situation is slowly but steadily improving, and every month ends better than the last. And I’m continuing to make strides in paying down my car loan. But I’m having to play a bit of a “shell game” week to week, moving money from one pot to the next until it all balances back out. For example: I didn’t have the cash in my “Spending” account to cover my glasses and eye exam. So I “borrowed” from the money I’d set aside for the wedding, until my FSA reimbursement check came through. I was only able to set aside $500 for wedding related expenses; If my costs go over that, I’ll end up borrowing from next months extra car payment, and paying it back throughout the month out of spending money. At the end of the month, it will all wash, and everything will end up as it should have been. But it still feels a little unorthodox having to shuffle money around. And then I realize it’s (almost) September, and I don’t yet have a plan for the Holidays! I’m still thinking through how much I need to set aside, and where exactly that money will come from.

All of this is a reminder that I need to start working on a plan for the future. Part of my rush to pay off my car loan is the realization that, once I’m debt free, my living expenses are fairly minimal. Not having to make as much money opens up a world of opportunities for me. I have a lot of ideas, but so far, they’re just ideas. I need to start trying things out, see what actually works, and what doesn’t. Right now is the ideal time to fail, when I still have an income to support me. Figuring out what I’m going to do will also help me build a realistic timeline. Maybe I’ll decide to switch employers, in which case, I can take the plunge as soon as the car loan is paid off. But if I choose to go a less conventional route, I’ll need time to build up a cash cushion. After all, life costs money, and minimal expenses doesn’t mean no expenses!

In all of my thinking, and planning, and dreaming of the future, I’m trying not to forget to live in the present. After all, I don’t want to become so wrapped up in an unknown future that I forget to take advantage of today. And, as great as weekends are, I don’t want to waste the better (or larger) part of the week waiting for the weekends to roll around. Having a job you don’t enjoy doesn’t have to suck the life out of every minute of the day!

– Cindy W

I’ve been terrible at keeping up with posts on this blog. This isn’t something new: I’ve struggled with this since starting the blog. It isn’t for lack of time, although some weeks are definitely better than others. And it isn’t for lack of ideas; I can think of a million and one ideas of what to write about, and have started and deleted more posts than I can name.

So what exactly is my problem? Appropriateness.

There are so many things that are affecting my finances right now: Bryan’s financial situation. Things that are happening in my sisters’ lives. Medical issues. The reality is, money isn’t just about numbers. If it was, we’d all be rich! Our financial situations are shaped by emotions, and history, and relationships. And some of those things aren’t very pretty. What is appropriate to share, and what isn’t? At what point am I crossing a line, and over sharing? There comes a point where personal finance becomes a little too, well, personal.

I’ve always been an overly detailed story-teller. Whether I’m writing or talking, I feel like the details are important. Sure, I could strip my stories down to the bare necessities. But how fun is that? I want to be able to share what I’m thinking, and the reasoning behind the decisions I make. But I also don’t want to risk hurting the people I love.

When I first started this blog, I had ambitious plans of growing this blog into something grand. At one time I even had the opportunity to share a story on a really big platform. It would have brought a lot of attention to my little blog. I did nothing. Why? Fear. The story would have been about my job, and how it had been affected by Bryan and my relationship. The idea of tens of thousands of people reading about the personal details of my life seemed like too much. And then they’d come here, and read about other really personal things I’ve written about myself, and other people. Which really made me question what I’m writing, and why I’m putting it out here, if I wasn’t okay with thousands of people reading it? Am I really writing about things I shouldn’t? Or have I just not gotten over the feeling that money is taboo?

As I’ve been struggling along deciding what I should and should not write (and often feeling guilty after hitting the “Publish” button), I’ve also been paying attention to what brings people to this site. There are a core group of people, mainly other bloggers, who visit this site on the regular. These are the people I feel are helping to hold me accountable. The random, search engine visitors? They seem to be brought here searching for one thing: Spaghetti Squash.


Okay, I did mention spaghetti squash in two of my very early posts (here and here). And I do love growing spaghetti squash. We have three plants that are going crazy this year, despite the inconsistent weather we’ve had. But that’s the reason most people are finding my personal finance blog? Because I talked about gardening? Obviously, I’m writing about the wrong things!

Okay, I’m not going to dedicate this blog to all things spaghetti squash. That would be ridiculous! But it’s really gotten me thinking about what I write about, and what I would be more comfortable writing about. Maybe I’m not at a place where discussing the ins and outs of my financial situation is such a good idea? I’m definitely not at a place to be shelling out financial advice. I can’t figure out how to write about my own finances without feeling like I’m violating someone else’s privacy.

I’d like to continue writing, and I think I’ve decided what I’d like to write about: A blog about finding happiness in the simple life. More of a hometown, lifestyle blog. Do I scrub this blog clean, and take things in a different direction? Well, I don’t think my idea really fits for a blog called “Growing Her Worth”. And part of me would like to continue posting net worth updates, to hold myself accountable. But discussing net worth seems a little too personal for a lifestyle blog. Do I start a new blog, while trying to maintain this one? What do I write about here?

I’m at a crossroads of deciding where to go with this blogging thing. I’m definitely open to suggestions! What do you think about what I’ve been doing so far on this blog? Are there things that I’m doing well? Other things that I need to abandon? Have I crossed boundaries in the things that I’ve talked about here? What keeps people coming back? What does the future of Growing Her Worth look like?

– Cindy