One of the biggest regrets I have from starting my blog back in the day was that I didn’t hire help earlier. I attempted to build WordPress themes by myself. I attempted to code things by myself. I did taxes by myself. I even tried to do complex graphics and logo redesigns by myself. I constantly functioned in a state of overwhelm trying to do every last thing myself, not realizing that it would have saved me stress and probably been highly more efficient to hire someone else to professionally do those tasks. At the time, I was broke- I couldn’t afford $300 for an accountant. I couldn’t afford a $200 logo redesign…well, that’s what I told myself.
Truth was, I truly was broke for a long time. When I started blogging, I was in graduate school and had major guilt about even spending $40 for a weekend of fun or a nice dinner with friends. I literally had no money to spare, but eventually, I started to earn a bit of money from my blog and with freelancing gigs, and I should have started to outsource things I really, truly sucked at- and as my life and career grew, the problems started to get more complex. (You know, like filing for taxes, why did I ever do that on my own? It’s awful when I fumble through paperwork, I just shut down mentally!)
I attended FinCon in New Orleans last week (A.K.A. Fincon Expo as it’s now called) and suddenly had the epiphany that while I’ve told myself, “Nah, I got this!” for a long time, since, hello, I’m a frugality blogger and am a queen of bootstrapping my way to success, I realized I can’t do it alone anymore. Like most women I know, I attempt to do it all, and when I got ready for FinCon last week, I barely had the mental capacity to throw stuff in a suitcase and get my tush down to New Orleans. I was tired.
Right now, I’m planning for and thus, paying for a wedding. We’re about $3,900 away from our $20,000 savings goal for 2014 and I’ve been working my tush off, pinching every penny and taking as much extra work as I could. I exceeded my mental and emotional bandwidth and didn’t realize it. It seems, though I’m no longer making $800 a month as a broke grad student, I still haven’t crossed that imaginary threshold of saying, “No, it’s okay to hire help for this project,” and still insist on doing it myself.
At FinCon, I started to realize I was in over my head…and I would never, ever be at a point financially where I would say, “You know what, I don’t have to feel guilty about getting my hair done,” or hiring someone to come in and fix the stuff that breaks around our house. I don’t know at what point I thought I would start to outsource, but I’ve come to realize, if you’re feeling overwhelmed in your life and you’re not making time for the things that matter, you’re spending your life focused on the complete wrong things.
It was my fourth year attending Fincon, my financial situation had changed dramatically (I mean, hello, I was living on beans when I started blogging, quite literally) but I was still approaching my life much in the same way. I had achieved success, but I didn’t feel like I could, or should, scale or pivot my efforts to adjust to the success I’d experienced since that first year in 2011.
I work full time as a social media team manager (I just got promoted last week, oh my gosh) and I frequently travel to speak at conferences, I blog and have two fur babies. I’m planning a wedding and I run this blog…I need to get real that the tasks I used to do are no longer serving our family.
So- as much as it scares me to admit… I’m going to start spending money on things that I find frivolous. Now, I still have my list of things I will not spend money on, and I just cannot change those habits (nor do I want to), but there are some things I need help with….so, I’m going to brace myself for how un-frugal this will sound…. (deep breath)
That one is hard to admit. Chris and I have been cohabitating for a year now, and though I spend time every weekend doing a deep clean, I feel like I’m always playing catchup. He and I have had talks about being more on top of it, but there have been nights where after his marathon training and my long work days, we eat, throw dishes in the sink and plunk down in front of the tv so I can resume answering emails and editing things for the blog. I wake up the next morning and notice the dust bunnies, dishes and dog toys everywhere… the overwhelm cycle begins again.
Since I do so much photography at home, I need to declutter, and I get on it when I know company is coming, or thus, someone is coming over to clean. (I want to get my money’s worth.)
I hate admitting this, but I’m going to hire a cleaning lady ($70) once a month for our condo just to keep me from losing my mind. Spending my entire Saturday doing laundry, scrubbing the tub, collecting fur tumbleweeds and dusting means the house isn’t clean enough. I’m hoping hiring help at least once a month will help me do more productive things on the weekend- like meal prepping, working out or working on blog posts (since the days are getting shorter, I need good daylight to photograph).
I get a haircut probably once every six to eight months, and I have really long hair. I start to feel frazzled and look frazzled. I put off going to the salon because it’s expensive and time consuming, but I can say the last few times I’ve forced myself to finally go, I’ve been desperate for a haircut. I put it off so long that I’m like freaking out, can’t stand the split-ends any longer, calling every salon trying to get them to squeeze me in.
I also have really thin nails that never grow, so I’m debating taking better care of them and going to the nail salon a bit more as well. My scraggly nails can be a source of discontent for me, I feel better when they look better. I have no idea what this will end up costing (depending on frequency) but I’m going to make self-care a bit higher up on the priority totem pole. I hate paying for salon services more than every few months, but I can say, I’m spending too much time trying to trim my own bangs, then fretting over how to hide the poor cut job or hoping that I don’t have to show off my hands in a photo because my nails look terrible. Too much headspace for those worries…time to move on.
I am drowning in emails. I wanted to get the wedding sponsored but didn’t have the time to dedicate to it. I still want to do a “big give,” for our big day but will need help pulling it off…I can’t work 50 hours a week, run a blog, plan a wedding and not drown myself in ice cream to cope with it all anymore.
When I left for FinCon, it troubled me that I didn’t have blog posts ready to go for the 5 days I was traveling. I am still going to write my own content, but I do need help with the other tasks…the dreaded email inbox, accounting, SEO, revamping my e-products and cleaning up the website so people can find content. I’m poorly juggling everything, and I owe it to you, the readers to do a better job. Your time is valuable and if I expect you to read, share and comment, sharing your valuable time, I want to give you a better experience, which I cannot do if I spend hours trying to manage my book keeping and trying to tackle emails every night.
I don’t know if we’ll always spend money on date nights- it can be as simple as a game night at home, but since I’ve been working non-stop, we haven’t even made this a priority. My partner and I had to have a long talk about how things have felt off lately- I work all the time and he’s been training for a marathon. Yes, we grab dinner once in awhile, but we got off track in making it special. If you are “going out,” simply because you’re exhausted and didn’t plan a meal, that’s not a date night..that’s survival.
We’re getting married in June, we have to work on this, we have to make time for quality time together- plopping in front of the tv is not quality time. I’m hoping that spending money in other categories will help me mentally transition from the constant need to do it all myself. THIS is what’s important- the people in my life, and my partner needs to be priority numero uno.
So, there you have it- I’ve been a frugality blogger for nearly four years, and admitting that I’m not a living cliche is hard for me. Truth is, in talking to other bloggers this week, I realized that you are just like me. Chances are, you’re reading this blog because you’re not a pro at reusing ziplock bags and get a thrill out of extreme couponing- you’re a busy woman who wants to look classy and have a fun life but your budget is limited.
Chances are, like me, you struggle too…how to balance it all, where to spend, where to save and how to prioritize your financial goals with your desire to be happy and live spontaneously (even just a little bit.) The last thing you’d want is to be called frumpy or feel cheap when you live your frugality. I know that some of my personal life changes will alienate some frugal readers, but others may appreciate it.
Frugality should grow with you- no matter what you make or what you have to save, you can still learn to live fabulously, no matter what your budget. The core of this blog is to help us all live a frugal, beautiful life- not to be a martyr for frugality or live a cliche. So, phew, it feels good to get that off my chest and be real that I can’t do it all and also to say, that yes, sometimes, spending money IS frugal…when you’re smart about it, and right now, this seems like the smartest thing I can do.
Thanks for reading. 🙂