What I spent and earned: October 9th – “Hit ‘Em Up”

That subtitle is for you Blissful… 😉

Variable Expenses Budget: $500.00
Spent Today: $0.00 – Yay!
Variable Budget Remaining: $251.49

October Income Goal: $2,500.00
Earned Today: $182.00*
Earned To Date: $605.19*
Goal Remaining: ($1,894.81)

Yea…today’s gig was an early one and I had to be on-site and perky at 6:00AM. This gig was actually on University B’s campus in the business school. Because University B is a medium-sized, private university, I took the gig with the assumption that I wouldn’t know anyone at the event and this turned out to be the case. Wearing a mask helped…

I have continued to wear a mask at all of my indoor gigs, which have been all of my recent gigs but one. Initially, internally, I argued that this was to limit my exposure to COVID-19 and other viruses this flu season, however, as I shared in an earlier post, I know that it is more than that…I know that I am a bit ashamed of my continued service work and fear running into someone I know. I don’t fully understand this fear as I generally don’t entertain the opinions of strangers with respect to what I need to do to support myself (yea, the irony isn’t lost on me). However, if I am truly honest, I really fear running into one person in particular…

I live in a large southern city, and the likelihood is extremely low that Gentleman Avery and I would run into one another at an event I am working…but there is always a chance. When we last spoke, really talked, I was still working at Organization C and University B, pulling in decent, almost “career, education-appropriate” money, and I felt confident about my financial position in a way I never had previously. I finally had something to offer a partner, at least in the nearish future. Gentleman Avery almost felt like an economic peer and had there been some impetus to bare our financial souls to one another, I could have done it. I could have done it.

However, a couple of months later and I no longer feel that way. And if I am truly honest (sorry for all these Red Shoe Diariesque confessions), I think that is the real reason I wanted some space from him. Space to find out if I could get into medical school/graduate school. Space to make a decision about further school on my own. Space not to feel ashamed about a career choice and an economic space that feels…regressive.

There is part of me that is hoping that this space, this lack of contact, will encourage him to move on…to finally let me go. He must be exhausted by us. I am exhausted by us. But there is another part of me that is hoping he’s still there. When I’ll have more answers…and feel like I have something to offer, again.

*Income is reported as cash on hand. Some gigs are 1099 gigs (taxes not withheld) and some gigs are W-2 gigs (taxes withheld) and it would be tough to distinguish between the two in a neat way. Instead, I will report cash in hand, and money set aside for taxes and expenses related to gig work will have a budget line item each month.

What I spent and earned: October 7th and 8th – A tale of two days…

A tale of two days…

Variable Expenses Budget: $500.00
Spent Today: $58.78
Variable Budget Remaining: $251.49

October Income Goal: $2,500.00
Earned Today: $144.48*
Earned To Date: $423.19*
Goal Remaining: ($2,076.81)

Friday was all business and Saturday was all fun. As I shared in a previous post, on Friday, I finally broke down and purchased a new black dress shirt on my way to my evening gig. While this felt like a bit of a “failure” as it was the first time I had to go up in clothing size in years, I felt much more comfortable at work and, ultimately, it was the right choice. In the long term, I am more likely to pick up gigs if I am not psychologically hesitant to put on my uniform because it doesn’t fit.

On Saturday I went to a “free festival” with a friend and made a newbie “free event” mistake: the event is free, but food and activities at the event will cost ya. The event had a lot of local vendors and restaurants and despite lamenting the need to slim down, I allowed myself to snack (or buy) a smoothie, two bags of small-bag popcorn, and lemonade wine (I know, I know, but it was so deliciously southern…I can’t even hate). On the way home, I picked up some eggs. Overall, I had a wonderful time with my friends and housemate (who I dragged along with me) and it’s probably a good thing that I have friends who pull me out of the house for shenanigans on occasion.

A couple of months ago, I would have thought nothing about spending $40.00 at a festival, however, recording it today…hurt.

*Income is reported as cash on hand. Some gigs are 1099 gigs (taxes not withheld) and some gigs are W-2 gigs (taxes withheld) and it would be tough to distinguish between the two in a neat way. Instead, I will report cash in hand, and money set aside for taxes and expenses related to gig work will have a budget line item each month.

What I spent and earned: October 6th – Dressing the part…

Sneaking this one in just under the wire…

Variable Expenses Budget: $500.00
Spent Today: $0.00 – Yay!
Variable Budget Remaining: $310.27

October Income Goal: $2,500.00
Earned Today: $133.45*
Earned To Date: $278.71*
Goal Remaining: ($2,221.29)

I just made it home from a gig so this one isn’t getting posted in the most timely manner but it’s getting posted, so there. October 6th was a good day in terms of my variable budget as I earned money but didn’t spend money on anything. The gift and the curse of working the wedding banquet circuit is that there is always free food; great for my budget, less great for my waistline. I felt really uncomfortable in my “blacks” (black slacks, black button down, black socks, and black slip-proof shoes) today and it was a not-so-comfortable reminder of the weight I put on towards the end of the summer, and early fall as I eschewed the gym and other activities in favor of studying for the MCAT. If I am nakedly honest, I continue to struggle a bit with eating in response to strong emotions, and there was a lot happening towards the end of the summer…

On my way to my gig today (October 7th), I broke down and bought another black dress shirt from a thrift shop. I should have done this much sooner but for whatever reason, I felt like I “deserved” to be uncomfortable for gaining the weight. And that perhaps being uncomfortable was necessary to help me lose weight… I don’t know if that is true, or what it means, but I bought a new shirt today.


*Income is reported as cash on hand. Some gigs are 1099 gigs (taxes not withheld) and some gigs are W-2 gigs (taxes withheld) and it would be tough to distinguish between the two in a neat way. Instead, I will report cash in hand, and money set aside for taxes and expenses related to gig work will have a budget line item each month.

What I spent and earned: October 5th – Where I needed to be…

A super quick post before I head to my Qwick gig as I’m breathing freely and back at it…

Variable Expenses Budget: $500.00
Spent Today: ($36.37)
Variable Budget Remaining: $310.27

October Income Goal: $2,500.00
Earned Today: $0.00*
Earned To Date: $145.26*
Goal Remaining: ($2,354.74)

Yesterday, my mother’s Yorkie of eight years died. While he had been with her for eight years, he was 13 and had been slowly deteriorating over the past year to the point that he could no longer walk, eat, or evacuate waste on his own; he was also on a heavy steroid regimen for pain. My mother was incredibly heartbroken so I took a trip to see her. My parents live almost 70 miles from me so I needed to fill up my tank, and that was all the spending that I did for the day. I had hoped to pick up a shift in the evening but I ended up spending time exactly where I needed to be.

Today, I was able to schedule a gig for tomorrow and I am getting dressed as I write this as I head off to a gig this evening. It’s my hope that I MIGHT be able to persuade my friend to go to the festival when it opens late Saturday morning and pick up a gig in the evening. In any instance, there will be income to report starting tomorrow. (Also, if you left a comment on an earlier post, I will read and respond to them when I get home tonight. I just wanted to try and get this one up today so that I stayed on track in terms of posting this month).


*Income is reported as cash on hand. Some gigs are 1099 gigs (taxes not withheld) and some gigs are W-2 gigs (taxes withheld) and it would be tough to distinguish between the two in a neat way. Instead, I will report cash in hand, and money set aside for taxes and expenses related to gig work will have a budget line item each month.

What I spent and earned: October 3rd and 4th – Feeling kinda blah…

Sorry, ya’ll, I am definitely getting October 3rd up a day late but I finally started feeling a bit better yesterday so I slept as much as I could. Being sick is always a miserable affair and it can be very costly if you are an hourly employee. Once I realized I was sick my goal was to get better as soon as possible so I could start picking up shifts again and I feel like some of my indulgent spending reflects this…

Variable Expenses Budget: $500.00
Spent Today: $127.52
Variable Budget Remaining: $346.64

October Income Goal: $2,500.00
Earned Today: $0.00*
Earned To Date: $145.26*
Goal Remaining: ($2,354.74)

Yea, so this was a spendy couple of days with no money coming in. That wasn’t terribly surprising since I was sick but right now I am not regretting it as I can fully breathe through my nose and I am feeling much, much better; if a shift pops up on the Qwick app later this afternoon/evening, I am planning to take it.

The significant grocery spending included pantry staples like sesame oil and enough kimchi to last me all of October. Between the food I have in my freezer, pantry, and fridge, I should not need to buy groceries, except for maybe eggs, for the next two weeks. The oil change was just general car maintenance that is essential for the long term care of my car. The most frivolous spending was that I bought my breakfast and lunch on campus on Tuesday because I just didn’t feel like making it the night before. For now, I’m going to count the fact that I dragged myself to class and lab as a win. If I can really go the next two weeks without buying groceries, I’ll have made up for it.

Right now I currently have a Qwick shift scheduled for Thursday and Sunday. This is pretty great because shifts on those days are harder to come by so having something scheduled this early in the week is really helpful. I haven’t picked up a Friday or Saturday shift yet but I am not concerned as there are always shifts on those days. I did have to pass up a great Saturday shift because it would have been an all-day shift and I had already made plans with a friend. I really, really, really wanted to accept that shift but I haven’t seen this friend in two months between her travel for work and my MCAT study. We are planning to attend a free outdoor event in the city and I think it will be fun. In the future, I will try to make plans for Sundays as opposed to Saturdays as there tend to be fewer lucrative opportunities on Sundays.

Overall, I am feeling kinda blah. Some moments I feel happy and grateful for the freedom to make the choices I have recently made, other moments I feel sad and behind, and other moments I feel a bit anxious about how “up in the air” my life feels at the moment. And I miss Gentleman Avery. But I have been sick for the past few days and my monthly cycle is here, so I am going to refrain from making any significant choices while under the influence of an influx of hormones.


*Income is reported as cash on hand. Some gigs are 1099 gigs (taxes not withheld) and some gigs are W-2 gigs (taxes withheld) and it would be tough to distinguish between the two in a neat way. Instead, I will report cash in hand, and money set aside for taxes and expenses related to gig work will have a budget line item each month.

What I spent and earned: October 2, 2022 – Becoming a mouthbreather…

Ugh. October 2nd was mostly spent in bed struggling to breathe through my nose because I have a cold. The ability to breathe through your nose is one of the most underappreciated aspects of daily life. (C is also suffering from a cold…get better C!) Unfortunately, getting sick is something that often happens when you perform service work (evening when you wear a mask!). I’m just grateful it isn’t COVID-19 (the common cold, a rhinovirus, is much more abundant and heartier than COVID-19, and unlike COVID-19, it is great at sticking to surfaces) and that I have the ability to rest. As one would expect, being sick meant money only went out…

Variable Expenses Budget: $500.00
Spent Today: $25.84
Variable Budget Remaining: $474.16

October Income Goal: $2,500.00
Earned Today: $0.00*
Earned To Date: $145.26*
Goal Remaining: ($2,354.74)

*Income is reported as cash on hand. Some gigs are 1099 gigs (taxes not withheld) and some gigs are W-2 gigs (taxes withheld) and it would be tough to distinguish between the two in a neat way. Instead, I will report cash in hand, and money set aside for taxes and expenses related to gig work will have a budget line item each month.

When I woke up this morning, I was actually able to breathe through one of my nostrils and am feeling a bit better than yesterday. For a second, I thought I might be able to take some medicine to treat the symptoms of being sick and sign-up for a short Qwick shift. However, after mulling it over a bit more, I figured it probably wasn’t the best idea to alarm others by being sick or potentially making them sick, and allowing myself to continue resting will likely help me get better as soon as possible. Ugh.

What I spent and earned: October 1, 2022 – A hard reset…

Okay, so in my October 2022 – Life Update, I mentioned that I was struggling to readjust to my significantly reduced monthly income. UNDERSTATEMENT! Except for March, I don’t think there has been a month this year where I stayed under my variable expenses budget. And for the most part, this didn’t really matter. Between part-time work with University B and full-time work at Organization C, there was always another check coming, and my income was usually above $6,000.00 per month. However, my departure from Organization C means that I no longer have a full-time income, which means my new part-time role at University B and my side gigs have gone from being discretionary income to my only income. This change makes it really important that I stick to my modest variable expenses budget each month as there will be no large check at the end of the month to bail out my overspending.

To help me get back on track, I have decided to blog about what I spent and earned each day in October.

Variable Expenses Budget: $500.00
Spent Today: $0.00
Variable Budget Remaining: $500.00

October Income Goal: $2,500.00
Earned Today: $145.26*
Earned To Date: $145.26*
Goal Remaining: ($2,354.74)

*Income is reported as cash on hand. Some gigs are 1099 gigs (taxes not withheld) and some gigs are W-2 gigs (taxes withheld) and it would be tough to distinguish between the two in a neat way. Instead, I will report cash in hand, and money set aside for taxes and expenses related to gig work will have a budget line item each month.

I think both my income goal and my variable budget are very modest. Gigs are less plentiful in the fall and winter months than they are in the summer so I will really need to hustle to hit my income goal. Staying on top of my variable budget will also be tough and I may need to tell more of my friends about departing my role with Organization C so that they are more open to cheap or free fun.

While I have been using credit cards and paying them off each month, to earn a significant amount of cash back throughout the year, I am now wondering whether it makes more sense to go back to using just my debit card or cash. I like the additional protections afforded by credit cards so, for now, I am going to keep using them. It is my hope that publishing my earnings and spending each day will keep me accountable and motivated. I have worked really hard over the past four years to change my financial circumstances and it is my hope that I can demonstrate the lessons learned during this period in which my income is reduced. It’s way easier to be frugal when money isn’t an issue. Now that it is, we’ll see how much I have really changed.

My income…for now

I just finished reconciling my March 2022 unbudgeted spending and paying my April 2022 bills and was pleasantly surprised. As I explained in my April student loan balance update, I expected my April student loan payment to be significantly less due to unbudgeted spending in March. While this was the case, it was still a very significant payment and something I would have struggled to make last year with any degree of unbudgeted spending. The reason for this difference is obvious, and now that the February rose has withered away (I’m secretly a country music fan), it’s time to talk about it…my income.

I have procrastinated talking about my current income thus far because it has fluctuated so significantly from month to month this year. Between starting work at Organization C in mid-January and transitioning to part-time work at University B in February, March was the first month where I had some idea what my monthly income will be…at least through June when my temporary contract at University B ends.

My March 2022 net income was $5603.39. And that isn’t quite correct because the first pay period at University B was lumped in with my vacation leave payout and I didn’t bill all hours worked for the second pay period. However, this should be pretty close.

This net income is why I was able to pay $4050.00 in March (my fixed and variable costs were less than $1,600 in February) and why even in a month where I spent significantly more, I was still able to scrape together a decent monthly debt payment.

There really isn’t too much more to say. I don’t want to squander this period of increased income so I am really trying to buckle back down for April. However, traveling with others (I’m hanging out with my best friend again) makes that difficult as you are not fully in control of spending decisions. That being said, my best friend is pretty frugal and I plan to be honest with her about my financial goals for the year. I feel like she will be supportive.

“It must have been an oversight on our end.”

And that’s how you do it, folks. In American society, it has become all too common for individuals, and organizations, not to accept responsibility for mistakes or errors even when the onus is clear. (I cannot speak with any real knowledge of this occurrence in other cultures, however, my travels abroad lead me to believe that this may also be the case elsewhere…). This is unfortunate because, where appropriate, admitting that you have erred is the fastest way to diffuse conflict. Once you have said, “It was my mistake,” you move the other party past the need to sort blame, and its associated anger, and towards redress.

Yesterday, I attempted to log in to my HR account with University B to check on the status of my leave, only to be greeted with an error message. The message stated that my current role is classified as a non-benefits eligible position in which leave does not accrue. Okay, that seems about right. However, what happened to the leave that I accrued during my two-and-a-half years of full-time work with University B? I hadn’t received a vacation payout, so where did it go? While the HR department is understaffed like most other departments at University B (and elsewhere in the country) the division representative responded to me fairly quickly and simply stated, “It must have been an oversight on our end. We will process this for the March 15th supplemental pay period.” It turns out that my change in status should have generated a vacation payout but, for whatever reason, it just didn’t happen. However, true to her word, this evening I received a pay advice from University B for March 15th.

Note: Vacation payouts are taxed at a significantly higher rate than regular pay.

So…yea. 99.00% of me wants to throw all of my vacation leave towards debt (approximately $3200.00) and allocate my regular part-time pay towards my March income that will be used for April. (Spoiler: It would bring my total debt below $80K). Thoughts?

February 2022 – Student Loan Balance Update

As I shared in my REVISED: 2022 Financial Goals post, January has kinda felt like a hangover from the excitement and change brought by December, and not a lot nothing got accomplished on the financial front. But…to the numbers.

July 1, 2019 – Student Loan Balance(s): -$128,663.26

January 1, 2022 – Student Loan Balance(s): $88,878.54

February 1, 2022 – Student Loan Balance: -$88,504.21

Total Payments: $636.76 (minimum payment)

Net Difference: $374.33

Yea, I know. I’m almost embarrassed…almost. That is a pitiful amount of debt payoff and I certainly wouldn’t make my goal of getting under $60,000.00 in debt this year if I had any more months like that. However, in my defense the greater context is that once I got under $90,000.00 in debt, paid off PSL4, and got a new job in December, I pretty much lived it up for the rest of the month which included my birthday and the holidays. When my December credit card bills came due, I immediately paid them off, with nothing really left over for an additional student loan payment. As I shared in my revised goals’ post, I am embracing the Chinese (Lunar) New Year as an opportunity to give a fresh start to 2022 and to attack my goals with renewed focus. I just made my big February 1st payment and I’m decidedly back on track.

Onto my daily post…

Lunar Do-Over Day 1: February 1st

1. How much did I spend today?
$10.00 – This one kind of stings because it should have been a $0.00 spend day but I am currently traveling for my new role (there is about 10% quarterly travel) and my new colleagues are planning to take me out to Mexican tomorrow. Which is cool, because I love Mexican…except I am lactose intolerant. And since I want my new colleague to continue liking me, it meant I had to stop off at Kroger and pick up a generic lactase enzyme (e.g. Lactaid). I’m going to try and see if I can order a dairy-free dish but if not, at least I won’t be uncomfortable.

I will be traveling through Thursday which means I get to expense my meals and transportation.

February Variable (food, gas, misc.) Budget Initial Balance: $463.77
February Variable (food, gas, misc.) Budget Remaining Balance: $451.81

2. What financial information have I learned to help me when I’m debt-free? – I recently opened up a bit more about my financial situation to a mentor (we’ll call him Mr. Pokémon) and he has slowly but surely been sharing his wisdom with me. Something of which I was totally unaware is The Rule of 55. Mr. Pokémon plans to retire early but has most of his money locked up in retirement funds. As we talked about my most recent career moves, and my career hopping past, he talked about the Rule of 55 as a reason he may stay with his current employer until he turns 55. He shared this Forbes article with me and today, I finally read it. Highlights from the article:

a) “The rule of 55 is an IRS guideline that allows you to avoid paying the 10% early withdrawal penalty on 401(k) and 403(b) retirement accounts if you leave your job during or after the calendar year you turn 55.”

b) “Penalty-free early withdrawals are limited to funds held in your most recent company’s 401(k) or 403(b) under the rule of 55.”

c) “You aren’t locked in to early retirement if you choose to take early withdrawals at age 55. If you decide to return to part-time or even full-time work, you can still keep taking withdrawals without paying the 401(k) penalty—just as long as they only come from the retirement account you began withdrawing from.”

I have recently thought about what early retirement might look like for me…if I’m not partnered (and maybe if I am) or if I don’t have a family (or maybe if I do). While 55 probably seems too far off for folks who have done everything right, I think 55 could potentially be a good target for me. If I am successful in paying my student loan debt off before 40 then I would have 15 years to save as much as I could for retirement; with or without the benefit of the Rule of 55. For the record, retirement for me probably doesn’t mean not working. It would mean not “having” to work or perhaps doing work about which I am passionate but not particularly well paid.

3. How have I lived abundantly? – This was pretty easy today. I am traveling in the Pacific Northwest of the United States (Washington, Oregon, Colorado, etc.) and while I am far too intense and direct of a person to live here permanently, I genuinely appreciate how much more laid back the work culture is here. Today, my new colleagues pushed me out the door early and I took a walk along the river on the way back to my hotel while listening to my current, favorite music. It was such a good day.