March 23rd – “A newly restricted budget may have you thinking differently [about how you cook].”

Last weekend, I went to see my tarot reader. She gave me a short look ahead at my next three months:

April – Focus on personal finances

May – Focus on taking care of myself because I’ll feel worn out and tired

June – Focus on completing the special project I’m working on

April is coming up fast, so I need to be conscious about my finances now. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I have no budget. That doesn’t mean that I’m rich, have unlimited funds, or irresponsible about money. No, I just don’t spend a lot and don’t care to buy crap I don’t really want or need. With so much “good” advertising around now, it can be so hard to make that distinction! My birth chart even confirmed this and said that I’m responsible with money and good at saving. That doesn’t mean that there’s no room for improvement.

I have a friend who eats very healthy and modified her diet recently to be a little healthier. She feels better than ever! My financial challenge is just like that. I have healthy spending habits, but could do a little more to make it better.

My biggest expenses are rent, commuting, car payments, and food. I don’t want to work more, so the only way to increase my income is to cut my expenses. I can’t do much about the first three things, so I’ll work on my grocery budget.

I don’t go out to eat often and LOVE cooking. If I could, I would make everything from scratch. Yes, I totally want to churn my own butter! I’ll try cheesemaking first. If it weren’t so expensive, I would have already done it. It’s very satisfying to eat something that I’ve made. These experiments don’t always turn out well, but I still like trying. Remember, you haven’t failed yet until you stop trying!

For the upcoming month, I’ll stop purchasing any new spices, grains, or special ingredients. There are plenty of all of these things fully stocked in my pantry. In grains alone I have 8 varieties (quinoa, barley, brown rice, black rice, basmati rice, sushi rice, wheat berries, rye berries) and have even more pasta,  beans, and flour. I don’t need to add anything else to it. I bet I could survive on the dry goods I have stored in my house for months!

My horoscope also wisely advises me to, “Be shrewd with the cheese and don’t go crazy with the unsalted butter. The last thing you want to be stingy with, however, is fruit.” Oh, how I love cheese and butter! But I love fruit more!

I’m ready for you, April!

November 23rd – “This will be a propitious time to reorganize your finances so as to prevent budgetary acrobatics, which are sure to exhaust you.”

Money and budgets are not something I like to talk about. I don’t have a problem with money, but it seems like a contentious topic of conversation for many people.

Despite my initial reluctance, money was a repeated topic on both my zodiac and horoscope predictions for the last two days, so I thought, “Why not!” I’m sure those horoscope writers are trying to help all those over spenders during black Friday weekend!

Yesterday, I purchased a new car, so I needed to reorganize my finances a bit. That didn’t mean that I opened up a spreadsheet and tracked all my spending. How boring and tedious! No, I’ve never budgeted in a traditional sense and I do not need to now. All I did was re-prioritize some of my daily expenses in my head.

I’m guessing you might be skeptical about my approach, so here’s support from today’s horoscope:

Just how you stay afloat is one of your little secrets. It’s almost a secret from you, too, because you’re not quite sure how you manage it…But you’re just doing what comes naturally. Like a cook who doesn’t follow a recipe, you can’t really help your friends out by sharing any tips.

This reading is really spot on! I’ve been working part-time for a while, but it all seems to get managed. I track nothing, get the bills paid, splurge on a few luxuries, and even have money put away for rainy days.

My predication says that I don’t have any useful tips, but I’m up for a challenge! Here is what I do to be financially sound:

  1. BUY WHAT I NEED – if I can live without it for a week, I probably don’t need it
  2. SPLURGE ON ONE THING, NOT EVERYTHING
  3. DON’T FOLLOW TRENDS – I still don’t have a smart phone…
  4. DON’T CARE ABOUT WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK – and I don’t care what you think about it!
  5. TREAT MONEY AS A RELATIONSHIP

Of the items listed above, the last has been the most useful for me.

I grew up poor, very poor. Many people are surprised because I had a good education and do not look the part.  I’m not sure what poor is supposed to look like, but I think some people are thrown off because I like to wear dresses. When I was young I didn’t like money, not only because I didn’t have any, but because of how others behaved in relation to it. Money seemed to drive peoples’ existence and that didn’t sit well with me.

Throughout the years, I have met and forged relationships with people from different walks of life. I learned that it doesn’t matter what your background is. Whether you love or hate money, it’s an obsession. We obsess about making money, get preoccupied with spending money, or take money for granted. It’s hard not to do.

To a certain extent, money can buy happiness, security, freedom, prestige, and even identity. However, just like any relationship, if you solely rely on money to provide these things for you, it’s likely that you’ll find yourself dissatisfied at some point.

Let’s put it another way.

If I’m in a relationship because I think that my partner can give my life meaning, happiness and anything else I’m lacking, what’s going to happen when he’s not there? I’d probably find myself without meaning, unhappy, and still lacking.

It’s crazy to give anyone or anything that much power over my life.

I have no illusions that I have control over my life, but I would like to try to be responsible for my own happiness.

Once I began seeing money as a form of relationship, it didn’t matter how much or little I had of it. I know that I’ll be okay no matter what happens.

October 27th – “Challenge yourself to have a good day within budget”

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I don’t like budgets and I don’t do budgets. It’s a good thing that I don’t need one! I don’t splurge very often, but like most people, I do have a few bad habits.

One of the things that I do splurge on are croissants. I have one or two every month. According to an Australian satiety study, croissants are the least satisfying food that you can get. With that said, is it worth spending $3-$5 on a well-made croissant? I say yes!

Making croissants is labor intensive and is an art. It takes precision, patience, and experience to make a good croissant. I possess none of those traits.

I started work on a morning bun dough yesterday, so I skipped the bakery today. Morning buns are basically cinnamon rolls made with croissant dough, so they’re pretty awesome. I wish I had invented this 2 in 1 pastry!

Unfortunately, I didn’t wrap the dough up properly and parts of it were dried up. I made the dough in haste, so the butter didn’t laminate properly either. It looked pretty crackly and hideous. I’ve only made croissants once before, but knew enough to be able to tell that the dough wasn’t right.

I didn’t want to trash the dough, so I picked off the patches of dried dough and folded it two more times. At this point, I didn’t think it would matter if I followed the rest of the tedious procedure or not. I decided to do my own thing.

I flattened the softened dough, added a bunch of brown sugar, white sugar, and cinnamon. Then I rolled it back into a log and cut it into pieces.  I really should have refrigerated it at least one more time, but I didn’t. The rolls went straight into the buttered muffin tin, and with a quick brush of egg wash and sprinkle of cinnamon sugar, it was ready to go.

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35 minutes later, the morning buns came out. They actually turned out okay! The texture wasn’t the perfect consistency, but it’s definitely a morning bun! I’m glad that I trusted my intuition and gave up on the directions.

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If you’re interested, here is the recipe I sort of used. I didn’t follow 90% of the directions and didn’t measure any of the filling. I already ate two of them, so I think it passed my fail proof recipe test!