Setting Priorities and Goals

I promise this entire post is not about food. But I have clarified a few things in my head over the past few days.

1) Watching the movie Cowspiracy really hit me hard this weekend. Until now, I’ve found it pretty easy to not eat any meat products for the past few years. Whenever I felt like “oh, that meat smells good….” I would then remind myself of why I don’t eat meat. Not because I don’t like the taste, but because I don’t want to be part of anything that involves an animal being slaughtered. But I couldn’t give up the dairy quite so easily. Maybe because I’d been brought up to drink milk as if it was water – literally, we used to go through so many gallons of milk every few days in our house. It was nothing to have a few glasses of milk at dinner time. It didn’t matter what we were eating. Spaghetti with milk? Sure! (I know, gross, right?) And it wasn’t skim milk we were drinking but the whole vitamin D milk. Yep. (Let’s not even talk about the powdered milk we drank when times were tough, money-wise. Eeww.)

Even when I was married, when I went to the store, I would buy skim milk for my husband and whole milk for myself. Eventually, he talked me into trying 2% and I noticed I didn’t have as many stomach issues as I used to have. So I slowly worked myself down to where I was drinking skim milk. And now I only use almond milk or coconut milk and I find that I don’t miss regular cow’s milk.

I believe I have mentioned I have fibroids, and that’s why I will be in surgery just three weeks from today. I didn’t realize until watching that movie over the weekend, that dairy products can contribute to fibroids. Now, while I will be having my fibroids-producing organ removed (ahem, uterus), I still want to continue not drinking cow milk. The movie showed how many acres it can take to feed a vegan per year vs. just a vegetarian. The difference was astounding – .6 acres to feed a vegan, whereas it takes 1.8 acres to feed a vegetarian. Imagine what I might be able to do with my own garden! (By the way, I love gardening, getting out there and getting my hands dirty, watching something grow from my own labor, and that tastes amazing!) So, priority #1 is to no longer bring dairy products into my home (I’m going to probably still eat the chocolate yogurt I have in my fridge until the next grocery day, just because I love chocolate and I already bought it), but after that, no dairy products enter my doorway.

2) Priority #2,  I set over the weekend was to save even more from each of my paychecks. I’ve been putting away $750 out of every paycheck since last summer. Before that, I was definitely saving but not at such a rate, as my focus had been more on paying down my private student loan, whose balance sits at $12,777.97 as of today (just checked.) As of this weekend, I decided I would start trying to save $835 from each paycheck. That may not sound like a lot more – it’s $170 but I’ve already been cutting down my expenses as much as I can. So this means really tightening the grocery budget and keeping the pet expenses in check as well. I have to admit, looking back at what I’ve spent with (a company I can’t recommend enough, and one, who when you call their number, you get a real live person on the other end, imagine!), I’ve been doing pretty good. I’ve been planning budgets for pet food, etc., for about $180 per month and I’ve actually spent more of an average of $130/month, so I was feeling pretty good about that. That’s just for their food and litter, pee pads for Osito, etc., no vet expenses.

My take home after savings is now about $2460 a month. I budget it like this:

  • $1050  – rent
  • $55 – internet service
  • $35 – cell (with Cricket Wireless, I get 2.5 gb of data/month, suits me just fine.)
  • $25 – electricity/gas (this goes up a bit in summer, with the AC, but not too much.)
  • $167 – private student loan
  • $538 – interest only payments on federal student loans (yep, that only keeps the loan from growing, folks)
  • $250 – food
  • $160 – zipcar (this is to get back and forth to volunteering with the livestock animals.)
  • $150 – pet food, etc. (still gonna budget higher because some months, it’s higher than others, etc.)

I totalled this up and it comes to $2430. So as you can see, I need to be frugal and keep an eye on these expenses, as there isn’t much room for error. I’m considering it practice for when my life plans change.  Not drinking coffee, and not eating a lot of processed foods should help a lot with the grocery budget. Plus, soon, I can start riding my bike more regularly and going to my local grocer guy who only takes cash for payment but offers produce at an amazing price, and always with a smile.

And yes, I do plan on including personal care items more and more into the grocery end of the budget, such as toilet paper, the occasional need to buy shampoo and conditioner, get a hair cut, etc.  I buy some things in bulk, like toilet paper, paper towels, pee pads, from amazon, so the cost is defrayed over a few months. I also don’t cut my hair that often (it’s below my shoulders) and when I do color it, it’s done at home by me. I take care of my eyebrows mainly by myself. It’s amazing what you can save when you take care of things on your own rather than paying someone else to do it. (Speaking of, after my surgery, I will continue using instacart for my groceries, but once I’m healed, it’ll be me going to my grocer guy.)

You’ll notice I don’t really have laundry expenses added into all of that. That’s because I use a Manatee portable washing machine for almost all of my laundry (blankets and towels, excepting), and a spin dryer (mine is similar to this one on amazon) and then air dry most of my laundry.I used to spend upwards of $10/week on laundry. The cost of the two portable machines has more than paid me back over the past year or so.  Here’s a video of how to use the Manatee on youtube. I just keep mine in the tub and fill it from the tub directly and then let the drain hose go right into the tub drain.

3) Priority #3  – Don’t let up on the downsizing. I need to sell my scooter which will soon be coming out of storage, and also other items in my apt that generally just take up space. I have some items from my grandmother I will likely sell – I have realized, if my apt were to catch on fire, I wouldn’t rush to save them, but I would rush to save the photos of her I have on my bedroom dresser. That tells me what truly holds meaning for me where she is concerned.

4) Priority #4 – this one is still being defined in my mind but it involves making some changes in this world, becoming more involved with causes I care about. The environment. Animals. When I watched that movie, I saw all these people who were so passionate about a particular subject.  I’m going to start researching groups in my area now and in NC and learning ways to get involved. Start reaching out to people now and learn how I can be of help. See if they need someone to help with preparing any written materials for them, on the web or in some other form of media (especially when I won’t be able to do much physically after my surgery.) So maybe it’s more like a goal right now than a priority as I need to make it clearer in my mind. I’ll keep you updated.

I’m home today trying to get rid of a very stubborn cold that came back with a vengeance this past weekend and is totally pissing me off. I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow and am going to ask them if I can take an antibiotic of sorts, to get rid of it. I need to be done with it for my surgery! Coughing after abdominal surgery – yeah, not something I want to do!

Anyway, sorry this post has appeared to ramble a bit, but I felt the need or urge to write today and put some of these things out there. I like the accountability aspect.

If you’ve liked this post, please hit like or subscribe or drop me a line below. And thanks, as always, for reading.

11 thoughts on “Setting Priorities and Goals

  • Terri,

    I admire your budgeting! One question – won’t you have to start really paying down your Federal loan at some point, and do you have that figured in? Good luck!

    • You raise a very good question, Ginny. Once I make the life change, I am going to change repayment plans to one that is income based. If you go on that repayment plan, you need to keep re-signing up for it every year, but my payments will be much, much lower. After 25 years of being on that plan, the balance of the loan is forgiven. I have figured out that even though it will mean repaying the federal loan for much longer, the total amount I will have paid out will be MUCH less. I’ve pretty much paid them over already at least once if not more, counting in all the interest I have paid over the years. So I’m fine with that. But yes, I do want to get rid of that private student loan too.

    • Also, I’ve really decreased my wants over the past few years. Nowadays, I usually buy based on need. I admit, occasionally I’ll go into the good will store and pick up a new-to-me sweater, but at a super fraction of what I would otherwise pay for it. It is important to treat yourself occasionally.

  • Congrats on having your priorities in order. I’m still working on that….I see that they make a matching portable clothing dryer. You can tap into your neighbor’s outdoor outlet when they’re away to save on electrical cost.

    • Oh Ramen….. you are so funny….tapping into my neighbor’s outlet when they are away, lol. And yes, they do have the matching portable dryer. They also have one that is a combo washer and dryer, but to me the washing machine part just seemed so tiny…..

  • Hi, Terri,

    I love your post for the honesty. It has been said by some wise soul that a person is rich in what they can afford to do without. Your budget for pet items made me feel better about my spending, as yesterday I bought my monthly pet food, treats, and litter and my total was 142.00. I was thinking that it was outrageous for 4 cats — now I see that I’m “NORMAL.” I also feed quite a number of strays living in the area.
    As for your chocolate cravings, I have mine too, there are dark chocolates that are made with no dairy. I find them quite delicious.
    I wish you the very best while you recover from surgery and hope that it gives you some additional time to refine your wonderful ideals for your present and future endeavors. I really like your plans thus far. I, too, had much student loan debt and was living for years hyper-extended. Thankrully, I woke up and started living an authentic life — for me anyway. i downsized to a 700 sq. ft. home, kept the truck which I’ve had for 15 yrs. now, ride a bicycle most days, shop thrift stores, and thouroughly enjoy life — the people and animals I hold dear to me.
    Thanks for sharing your authentic life. I think those of us on this path are just the beginning of a movement that will transform the world. Imagine…

    • David, your comment means so much to me, I want you to know that. I’ve tried to be as real “me” as I can be in my posts. Otherwise I don’t think that I should write.

      Yes, you are completely normal in spending that much. You’re actually doing good if you’re spending $142 and that is also including what you are feeding the strays. Are these the ones that you could see from your window, sleeping in the warm sanctuary you made for them?

      Yes, for the longest time I just thought, “well, I’ll be in debt forever, what’s the use in paying extra?” and i lived from paycheck to paycheck. And one day I woke up, and was like “are you serious? you’re 38 or 39 years old and you have less than $500 to your name. What the hell are you doing???!!” Something had to change.

      Have you seen this website before?

  • Hi, Terri,

    I watched the video, “MILK” this weekend and was uber convinced of my decision to exclude dairy products from my diet. If this video does not convince someone of the dangers to their health, not with-standing the maltreatment of dairy cattle, I don’t know what would. I also wathced the video from Tribe of Heart, titled, “Peaceable Kingdom.” That documentary is so profound a reason for becoming vegan than I have ever watched. I cried throughout the video for both the animals and the people who searched their souls and came to the conclusions to change their ways of life, no matter the financial difficulties they faced. I have to say that I try not to preach veganism to anyone, but after viewing this documentary I am going to challenge family and friends to watch it and see if it doesn’t change the way they see themselves and other animals. I couldn’t stop thinking about all the needless harm that mankind does to the world. I sincerely hope that there is more good than bad; otherwise we are lost. Thanks again for bringing their website and work to my attention,

    • David, I think that is definitely going to be one I watch this week, too. If it had that big of an effect on you, then it will definitely be good for me to watch. I’m so glad you liked it. I just remember seeing in the trailer how they say that some of the animals celebrated, and they show the animal jumping high up in the air – i think it was a sheep?

      I also want to see the one called The Witness. And I’m glad you liked the Milk one too – thanks so much for letting me know what you thought of it. You know, I was with family on Easter, and everyone was like “oh, we’re having this for dessert, but you can’t have that…or you can’t have this.” You know what? I didn’t feel one bit left out. When I explained to someone about the movie Cowspiracy, (the person was much older than me), the response was “I’m going to be long dead before that happens.” Which unfortunately is what a lot of people think. I mean, if we all just don’t give a crap, what are we leaving for future generations? I don’t even have kids and I’m concerned about it!

  • Yes, they did celebrate, no mistake about it! It was wonderful! The documentary was so complete because it showed how people can change and make the world a better place. I know there are many people set in their ways and simply refuse to hear or even listen to their hearts. Or maybe it has been so long since they have listened to their heart that they have forgotten how. This doc. demonstrates that it is never too late to find and/or rekindle forgotten passions. I will watch it again this weekend, hopefully with some family members that claim to be animal lovers, but don’t want to face the cruelty that happens to animals we haven’t labled as pets. I want to thank you again for telling me about thier website and doc. I am definitely going to watch, “The Witness.” Please let me know your thoughts after viewing, “Peaceable Kingdom.” Take care.

    • I need to really watch this movie and I think I will also be recommending it to some friends and family members too. I just bought it rather than renting it because I have a feeling I will want to watch it over and over to stay inspired on my path. I’m so glad you got so much out of it – sounds like it was an experience for you like watching Cowspiracy was for me. 🙂

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