Year of Less: Week 6

I decided not to post last week since I had bronchitis and didn’t do much of anything or spend any money. This week though, phew. I think I’m making up for a tame start to February! I think the -30 wind chills and midwinter SAD have put a spell on me. Ok, it’s not actually that bad. Just like, 3 Bitesquad orders in a week or whatever. The real issue, I’m discovering, is that while I have no problem coming up with goals and rules and such, the whole using goals as motivation part is not my strong suit. I’m just kind of like, Oh well, messed up, I’ll do better tomorrow! (snaps fingers). That’s fine every once in a while, but I find myself using this as a pretty sloppy excuse to do what I want for a day (or two or three). What are y’all doing lately that motivates you? I need some inspiration!

1 Month of Less

It’s done! Month 1! Woot woot. Yesterday, I tallied up all of my expenses for the month and compared it to my budget, and definitely learned a few things…

  1. I spend a lot of money on food. Like, almost as much as I spend on all of my housing costs. In January, I spent $562 on rent and utilities (yay for 3 roommates). I also spent $525 on food! How?! Even with my once-weekly(ish) takeout! I was really surprised by this, and my goal for February is to cut takeout costs by $50, because even though I only ordered once a week, it was still costing about $40 each time. That adds up real quick, fam. My second goal is to get back to Aldi for groceries, rather than using Cub. Tbh I don’t even go to the grocery store anymore (thanks, Mom’s Instacart account), so it’s really easy to make a list and stick to it. The issue is, we often shop from Cub because they have everything, but Aldi is so much cheaper and has almost everything. Time to get a lil more frugal in that department.
  2. I need to plan better for big costs. Now, I’ve already gone over this, but it cost over $500 to get our dog, Rudy, neutered. Jason and I went halfsies so my cost was just $250, but I really only budgeted $100 for that whole mess. Also, while Jason and I had been discussing a trip to Miami, I did not anticipate pulling the trigger on that yet and didn’t budget for it. It ended up being fairly spontaneous, because flights just happened to be ridiculously cheap and a bargain’s a bargain. Then I booked an airbnb and paid for half up front, so there went another $250. These big costs ate away at my budget, so the numbers looked pretty bleak by the end. My total budget for the month added up to $1,944. Total expenses? $2,763. Ouch.
  3. But wait, there’s good news, too! I put a full %20 of my net income into savings this month! That’s over $500! To give you some perspective here, I’ve never had more than $0.00 in my savings account at any given time. Ever. This is a big deal for me y’all. Also, I tracked every single expense by hand this month, which I’ve also never done before. The simple task of taking a minute to handwrite where my money was going was a mindful moment each day. AND I only bought the one clothing item I budgeted for! No clothes, makeup/nail stuff, no random crap from Target. So I’mma call this month a win and do a better job of budgeting in February!

Week 3

It’s week three of the year of less, and to be honest I slipped up this week. I bought the new Sims 4 expansion pack (Tiny Living, btw) AND ordered food twice! And one of the times it was Dominos! I spoke too soon last week, I s’pose. I talked myself into these things because it was my birthday on Friday and my plans got cancelled due to hella snow, so even though I still had a lovely birthday (thanks, Mom) I was feeling very treat yoself-esque. I was also very tempted to shop earlier this week, in the midst of (more) drama with our (very stupid) landlord. Now that I’m not allowed to buy things impulsively, I’ve come to the (shocking) revelation that I spend money to cope with stress and the upsetting truth that I can’t control everything. I’m putting this psych degree to work, y’all! While I’m a little disappointed in myself, I remain undeterred! Today is a new day, and also Tiny Living is dope.

Year of Less: Week 2

I’m not gonna lie, this is way easier than I expected. While Rudy’s surgery hurt my wallet, I was super proud of myself for having the funds on hand to be able to pay for it. In the week since, I think most of the money I’ve spent has gone to Lyft rides and groceries. The next big expense is our trip to Miami, which is *actually* happening! We’re heading there at the end of March. I’m so excited! Jason and I found tickets for cheap (like, $180 round trip cheap), and are going to stay in an Airbnb on the beach. For a whole week! Never would I have thought this would be a possibility at 23 24 (happy birthday to me). I can’t wait!

Anyway, back to money stuff. My biggest temptation this week was ordering takeout more than once. I almost did it last night, but Jason saved me by bringing home some chicken nugs. We have things to cook, but it’s not my favorite thing to do and motivating myself to go make some chili or whatever feels a lot harder than hitting up my friends at Szechuan Spice for some more of that bomb-ass Mongolian pork. I see more meal planning in my future.

The other exciting news from this week is that we went to the gym three times! I decided that my reward for this would be an extra coffee day next week. Since I’m 24 now, I’m solidly mid-twenties, and I’m really out here adulting!

Year of Less: Week 1

Already a week into the new year, and my shopping ban is in full swing! I’ve set a budget and have tracked every expense, so I’d say things are off to a great start. Y’all, I have only purchased coffee once! I was thinking this would be the hardest habit to kick, but it’s been surprisingly easy. Jason and I had our weekly Friday coffee, and it was delicious. Looking forward to it again this week! I’ve already used up my one jeans purchase for the year, however, since my other pair did, in fact, bust out at the thighs. I set aside 20% of my paycheck, but would you believe getting a dog neutered in Minneapolis costs $500?! So the savings goal for this month (20%) might not be met. I did invest a little bit, using my handy dandy Stash app. Aside from that, all the money I’ve spent this month has gone to groceries, student loans, and a gym membership at the Y. I had this membership last year thinking I’d go on my way home from work, but I went one whole time and cancelled it after a few months. But, I’ve been feeling like an uptick in physical activity is in order, and Jason’s resolution for the year is to hit the gym more, so I signed us up for a dual membership. Send us all your motivation please! I’ll be back next week with another quick update.

2020: My Year of Less

2019 is wrapping up y’all, and in 2020 the Suburban Hipster is #adulting. I moved twice last summer, and realized that I had entirely too much shit for a 23 year old. So I channeled Marie Kondo and got rid of a ton of it. It feels good to be able to see all of the makeup I own on one tier of my bathroom cart, but I’ve still got work to do so I don’t re-accumulate all the things I got rid of. In an effort to be more mindful about where my money goes, I recently read (part of) The Year of Less, in which the author, Cait Flanders, realizes her spending habits are getting her nowhere and decides to go on a yearlong shopping ban. She set rules for herself and blogged about it to hold herself accountable (and later got a book deal out of it, obviously). While I was reading, a lightbulb went off in my head: I have a blog! And I don’t know what to do with it! And I also have bad spending habits! So here we are.

I’ve had a bit of credit card debt stemming from a dark time in college, and though I’m fully employed now, I still haven’t rid myself of a) my debt or b) my bad spending habits. I’m pretty hard on myself about my finances, while still being an idiot and buying every Sims 4 expansion pack that comes out (the day it comes out). Here are some things I’ve recently spent real money on:

  • Leaf Tickets on the Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp app so I could build the Eiffel Tower on my campsite.
  • Fake nails. No, not acrylics. The ones you buy at Target and glue on to your nails like a 12 year old.
  • 4 different leave-in hair products. It’s tough out here for the curly girls, but seriously Allegra? Four?

Also, I pretty routinely spend $100+ a month at coffee shops, even though I have a Nespresso machine at home. I also spend like $40 a month on pods for that thing. #worthit

Anyway, I pay all my bills on time, but I could be paying a lot more toward my credit card debt and student loan debt each month, so that’s what I plan to do in 2020. I’m also hoping to go to Miami with Jason at some point, so not shopping will help me save up for that, too. I sat down yesterday and made the following lists.

Things I will not shop for/spend money on in 2020:

  • Makeup
  • Hair supplies (unless by some miracle, I use up all four of my leave-ins)
  • Dog sweaters (sorry, Rudy)
  • Nail products
  • Clothes (except for the pair of jeans I will inevitably need to buy when my current pair busts out at the thighs)
  • Shoes
  • Tattoos and/or piercings
  • Home decor (with a few exceptions, see below)
  • Electronics and/or phone cases
  • Craft supplies (pretty sure I already own all of them, anyway)
  • Glasses (yes, they’re cheap on Zenni, but does anyone need 7 pairs of glasses? I think not.)
  • Anything from Amazon. This is more of a principle thing than a spending-too-much-money-on-Amazon thing.
  • Random unnecessary products from Target. Groceries, cleaning supplies, and dog food only!

Things I’ll allow myself to spend money on:

  • Groceries and other household necessities
  • Medicine and other medical expenses
  • Pet supplies
  • Nespresso pods
  • Takeout/delivery once a week
  • Lunch at work once a week (I work from home about half the time, and the other half of the time I wake up too late to make a proper lunch)
  • 1 manicure or pedicure every 2 months
  • Coffee on Friday mornings, when Jason lovingly wakes up early and drives me to work in exchange for coffee from Bob’s Java Hut
  • Furnishings for our new place when we move next summer. This will probably include 2 nightstands, a couch, a desk, a bookshelf, and some dining room chairs. I’ll create a budget for the move beforehand to keep things in check. These will be purchased second hand when possible, and Jason and I will split the costs. I’m also allowing myself 3 plants over the course of the year.
  • Travel (though the rules will still apply while on vacation (okay, maybe with the exception of the coffee rule))

I thought I’d be more anxious in anticipation of my year of no shopping, but I’m more excited than anything to get my financial shit together. I’ll be posting here about temptations, successes, and everything in between. Mostly, I’ll be using the blog to hold myself accountable, and I’ll also be using a physical financial planner to track everything. Here’s to new challenges!

My Top 10 Albums

A few months ago, my boyfriend Jason and I were at my mom’s house for dinner, and found ourselves in a discussion of the top ten albums of all time. Obviously we each had our own ideas about which 25-minute-or-longer musical artifacts hold the most significance, and it ended up being a really interesting conversation. I first tried to think of which albums I’ve listened to the most, because surely those must be my favorites (right?). The following list still reflects that thinking. For my mom, it was more about a moment in her life or an experience that was connected to an album. Jason, on the other hand, realized he hadn’t listened to many albums in their entirety (and has since been listening to full albums on repeat in the car). Since that conversation, I’ve continued racking my brain (and cursing iTunes for no longer existing, because even at 12 I was crankin’ out playlists) and come up with the following. I feel like I’ll have an entirely new list next week, and have, in fact, been writing and rewriting this post for a week. So, let’s get to it!

No Strings Attached (2000) – NSYNC

This was probably my first favorite album. At the ripe old age of 4, I knew musical gold when I heard it. I jammed to this one from the backseat of my mom’s green Toyota Camry and choreographed dances to “Bye Bye Bye” and “It’s Gonna Be Me” at the YWCA with my best friend Shantelle. I still listen to “Just Got Paid” (aka Track 4 #nostalgia) all the time.

Meteora (2003) – Linkin Park

Meteora got me through the struggles of being 10 years old. I don’t remember exactly how I got so obsessed, but I do remember signing up for Linkin Park Underground (their fan club) and waiting eagerly for my oversized LP shirt and poster to come in the mail. I wasn’t an angsty kid (yet), but felt like Linkin Park really got me, ya know? Every song on this album is good, even now.

Dangerously in Love (2003) – Beyonce

I was definitely too young to be listening to this album when I was, but I chored hard for this CD in 2nd grade. I distinctly remember crying to “Dangerously in Love” when I felt sad. I just listened to it again, and that song still makes me feel like crying, even though it’s a really beautiful love song. Lol.

Stadium Arcadium (2006) – Red Hot Chili Peppers

I am still regularly exposed to this album (thanks, Jason), and I’m not mad about it. Everyone hates on RHCP, but why? Yes, their entire repertoire sounds the same, but if it’s good, it’s good. Stadium Arcadium also reminds me of my dad, who used to blast the Peppers in his Mustang while we drove around Topeka (and later, Eden Prairie). We don’t have a relationship anymore, but he did introduce me to some damn good music.

Lungs (2009) – Florence + the Machine

Lungs was my go-to in high school. On the bus, in the hallways, and after school, I had my 3rd generation iPod nano (RIP) in hand and turned up as loud as possible. Even now, I still can’t listen to Florence + the Machine quietly. Lungs is one of those albums that always sounds like it just came out. I guess the word for that is timeless.

Sigh No More (2009) – Mumford & Sons

Another favorite in high school, though I keep thinking it’s called The Cave and shouldn’t be allowed to claim it as an all-time fave if I can’t even remember its title. I don’t actually listen to Marcus and the boys much anymore, but Mumford & Sons is still the first band that comes to mind when someone asks me who my favorites are. In 2015 I got to see them live, and I still get goosebumps thinking about it. They’re that good.

Laminate Pet Animal (2011) – Snowmine

I obsessively listened to this album as a high school senior, and remember walking around campus at the U of MN (yay for PSEO) feeling so freaking happy. I don’t have much to say about it, other than that it still brings me a lot of joy.

Mutual Friends (2011) – BOY

BOY is a group I stumbled upon after hearing “Skin” on The Current and falling immediately in love with their sound. My sister and I started learning guitar during the summer of 2013, and this was the first song I played and sang. It’s still my go-to whenever I pick up a guitar, and my sister Anissa and I bonded a lot learning to play it together. I don’t play much anymore, but Nissy still does and she’s good as hell. BOY, if you’re reading this, please send more tunes.

Hozier (2014) – Hozier

Hozier released an EP on Bandcamp that I couldn’t stop listening to during my senior year of high school, and I was so excited when I got to Notre Dame and found a group of friends that already loved Hozier as much as I did. I will never forgive myself for not going to see him in Chicago for $20 freshman year. Instead, I stayed up all night cramming for a test that I failed. Some of my favorite college memories feature this album as a soundtrack. My friend Kat and I would blast this in the dorm showers and sing along. Good times.

How to Be a Human Being (2016) – Glass Animals

Another college favorite, another concert I regret missing (though I did at least buy tickets to this one). Junior year was a weird time for me. I had my gallbladder removed after freshman year and was fine for a while, but by fall of junior year I was in the worst pain ever and wasn’t super productive. I laid in bed, listened to this album, and watched Parks and Recreation for what felt like an entire month. Kat, our friend Ida, and I had tickets to go see Glass Animals, but I felt like trash and Ida got mono, so we had to sell them. Rough times. This album still slaps though, and it’s still in my regular rotation.

Honorable Mention: The Pitchfork Mix CD from Leanne G. (2007?)

My mom had a cool yogi friend named Leanne, who gave her a burned CD with a mix of songs she’d heard on Pitchfork. I listened to this CD nonstop, and cite it as the beginning of my love of indie music. Some notable songs: “Elephant Gun” by Beirut, “Opposite of Hallelujah” by Jens Lekman, and “Kill the Director” by the Wombats. I wish I still had that disc.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Let me know your top ten in the comments!

New Beginnings

When I started this blog 7 years ago, it was a place for me to explore my love of music in a new way. I have always been a playlist maker and a journaler (okay, owner of many journals), and have a preoccupation with documenting things. I really loved doing research on new bands and albums and discovered that I actually enjoyed writing.

Since then, I’ve tried to start new blogs about 5 times and ended up deleting them before I ever posted anything. I got into makeup (and really into spending money on it) in college and started a YouTube channel. That was fun (except for the credit card debt), but what I really loved was the creative process- the brainstorming, the editing, the revising. So I tried to create a beauty blog, which lasted for an hour while I made a beautiful webpage, then realized I had no interest in writing about products.

I’ve returned to Suburban Hipster time and time again, sometimes to draft a post in hopes of revamping it, other times just to look at old posts and laugh at my teenaged insights. I want to keep this blog that I’ve poured so much into, but I don’t want it to just be a music blog anymore. I think I’ve been afraid of de-niche-ifying Suburban Hipster, because rule #1 in the blogosphere is find your goddamn niche and stick with it. Well, my new niche is being a 20-something with a lot of interests and a space to explore them. I live in Minneapolis and have a love/hate relationship with the city (mostly love). I work in education and want to talk about the school to prison pipeline. I’m in an amazing relationship and I want to brag about it (sorry, not sorry). I might also want to talk about the Sims. And my dog Rudy. I’ll probably talk about him, too.

I’m no longer a suburbanite (though I’d like to return), and definitely not a hipster (co-ops are expensive), but I’m still a blogger and 16-year-old Allegra worked hard on it, so the name stays. Welcome back, y’all!