Snippet Saturday- Car Documents

Whenever the DMV/dealer/repair shop/oil change place gives you any paperwork related to our car, hang on to it. Get a folder or a binder specifically for this purpose and keep all those pieces of paper organized in chronological order. If you ever want to trade in your car, this is how you’re going to be able to get a good trade in value- keep all proof that you’ve put time and money into keeping your car in good shape.

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Snippet Saturday- Lint Traps

You probably already know this, but I think it bears repeating: EMPTY THE LINT TRAP IN YOUR DRYER! Not once a week. Not when you remember. Every. Single. Time. It’s the easiest thing in the world to do, and your clothes will dry so much faster. Not to mention you’re less likely to have a dryer fire break out. Do not press start without cleaning the lint trap!

Do it!

(OK I’m done.)

Snippets of Wisdom- Wiper Fluid

I know it’s tempting to get the $3 wiper fluid they sell in front of the gas station, but resist. That stuff is basically water, and if it gets cold enough it will freeze up and clog the sprayer. Then you’re stuck with a salt encrusted windshield which just seems vaguely unsafe. Go to AutoZone and get the more concentrated stuff so you can keep your vision clear this winter.

Those of you in warmer climates can go gloat together.

PS- Happy Valentine’s Day all! Hope you’re giving lots of hugs and smooches to your horses, your families, your friends, your significant otters, and spreading love all around!

dis-ma-significant-otter

Snippet Saturday- Pay Stubs

Despite the push to get all documents and bills done online (which I’m totally for!), it’s a good idea to get hard copies of your pay stubs if you know you’ll be moving around pretty regularly. Landlords like to see pay stubs to make sure you’re actually making money, and I’ve found that having the hard copies on hand made this process faster and easier for everyone.

Why I don’t work out, and why I won’t start.

Reader, the gym is not my happy place. “Work out more!” is never a New Year’s Resolution, and just the thought of running more than half a mile makes me cringe (though you’ve read about my recent foray into the jogging world). Working out at the gym simply does not work out for me.

I’ve tried in the past- I used the circuit machines with my best friend in high school, rocked the elliptical a couple times a week in college, and once I moved down to VA I would go down to the tiny apartment gym with my roommate.

Photo evidence that I even worked out on senior year Spring Break with my gorgeous roommate. Who works out on vacation?!
Photo evidence that I even exercised on senior year Spring Break with my gorgeous roommate. Who works out on vacation?!

But that’s all come to an end and I don’t plan on going back. No matter how I approach the whole venture, I feel like a hamster on a wheel when I go to the gym. Like I’m stuck in this cycle of “I need to put the resistance up so that I can put the resistance even higher.” I’m not knocking people that love the gym- my dad, my brother, manfriend, and most of my friends really enjoy it. They find it energizing, relaxing, and invigorating, and that’s fantastic. But when I go, I get none of those things.

So my “gym” resolution this year is to stop trying to force it, and to stop beating myself up when I inevitably don’t go. There’s nothing about it that feels enjoyable- why should I make it happen? I don’t like the gym and the gym seems to reciprocate the feeling.

Working on my fitness level is a whole different matter. There is nothing I want more than a toned body that will do what I tell it to do. If I need to chase the dog when we’re playing outside I want to be able to keep up; if I need to help someone move I want to be able to haul the big furniture; if my trainer tells me to drop my stirrups I want to last more than two laps around before collapsing into a heap of jelly-muscles; I want my back muscles strong and flexible enough to stave off the back pain I get from falling off my horse so many times when I was younger.

How can I do those things if I’m not at the gym? We’re talking cardiovascular endurance, weight training, and stretching, so how does that work without a designated time or place?

Easy: I’m constantly moving. I’m lucky enough to have a convertible desk, so I stand for most of the day at work. Fidgeting and bouncing and moving around the entire time, or stretching out my legs and arms. The time that I do sit is usually on a stability ball, and I’m moving around then too to engage my core or stretch out my back. This doesn’t work on days with lots of meetings when I have to pretend to be a grown-up that sits still, but on any given day I’m standing up and moving. Hooray for multitasking!

When I’m not at work, I’m still moving. That parking spot out in the boondocks is mine! I ignore elevators and take the stairs. I do all those “simple tips to lose 10 lbs in a month” that are always on the covers of tabloids, but I’m doing it to keep myself moving rather than lose weight. My FitBit inspires me to walk more and when the weather’s nice manfriend and I love to go hiking. He even gets me running sometimes.

Workout: unhappy (though Manfriend seems downright gleeful at my pain). Hiking: happy!
Workout: unhappy (though Manfriend seems downright gleeful at my pain). Hiking: happy!

I work my muscles too- taking two trips to bring in all the groceries is for lesser mortals. Moving workbooks and textbooks at work, carrying my giant bag of horse stuff around, and attempting to roll manfriend over when he falls asleep on the couch all help me build strength (seriously, manfriend is 6’3″ and impossible to move).

And of course- I ride. I won’t even get into the classic “riding is a sport too!!!!” thing, ’cause we all know it is. I couldn’t even roll over in bed after my first lesson this last fall (the sheets were too heavy and my muscles were too sore. True story). Getting in the saddle three or four times a week IS my gym time. It gives me that energy, that relaxation, and that invigoration my peers get from the gym, and I’d argue that it’s a better overall workout- it engages every major muscle group, works on balance, and anyone who’s huffed and puffed after a tough course knows it counts as cardio too.

Since I made a conscious decision to keep up my non-workout habits, I’ve gotten into the best shape I’ve been in since I was 15 and riding 3-5 horses a day. This approach might not work forever, but it works for now- everyone at work says to take advantage of the early-twenties metabolism and maybe that’s what I’m doing. I ain’t complaining.

After all the angst and guilt about not going to the gym, I’ve realized something about myself: I don’t work out, and that’s OK. I don’t plan on starting, and that’s OK. I’ve got my non-workout habits going strong, and I’ve got this covered.

Don’t even get me started on my non-diet.

What are some ways that you “non-workout”?  Are you a gym-lover or do you prefer to get your sweat on in other ways?

My Life, My Priorities, My Goals

On Friday I talked about how my job doesn’t make me happy, and I wanted to expand a little bit on something I mentioned.

I mentioned the websites that are constantly telling me what dreams I should be pursuing and what my priorities should be: “25 Places you NEED to see in your 20s,” “Why it’s OK to be a Hot Mess right now,” “12 GIFs that show how to make your Dream of becoming a yoga teacher come true.” I’ll admit that I made those particular ones up- but I won’t believe you if you say that you haven’t seen something eerily similar.

For a while these articles really bugged me and I thought it was because none of those things seemed within my reach. I didn’t have the vacation time to travel the globe, my years of being a hot mess seemed behind me, and my yoga was terrible. It felt like I was missing out on some big secret like that everyone else my age was living.

With that in mind, I made a big change to my life: I moved to an apartment in a younger fresher area and started going out to bars more often.

Turns out, that’s someone else’s dream. I love the convenience of having bars and restaurants close by and moving was the best thing I could’ve done, but not because I suddenly became That Party Girl. On any given Saturday night I’m at home, in sweats, reading a book and eating pizza. Or playing board games with my buds. Also in sweats.

That used to feel like laziness to me- couldn’t I suck it up, put on some mascara and a skirt and just get out there?! But what I took for laziness is actually me letting myself be comfortable. Reading and board games make me happy and relaxed. Bars are fun when I have the energy, but loud noises and crowds make me notoriously anxious (I start doing lobster hands in crowds. It’s super weird and I don’t know how it started).

The next change I wanted to make was traveling the world. My parents have taken me to so many incredible places and I wanted to keep on exploring, so I set out to start saving up my vacation time and my money so that I could get on out there. But then I went home for a week around Christmas…and then I visited my Momma for her birthday…and then manfriend and I took some weekend road trips to unwind…and soon a new  baby will be joining the family and you can bet I’ll take at least a week off to go coo and cuddle…and before I knew it, most of my hard-earned vacation time was earmarked.

I can’t make myself be the slightest bit disappointed about that. It may not be exotic jungles or cosmopolitan cities like I imagined, but I use my vacation time to surround myself with love. These moments with my family and my guy are moments that I’ll never get back and I am so incredibly fortunate to get to make these memories with them. I haven’t given up my plans for traveling, just put them a little lower on my list of priorities.

Once I realized that it’s OK to set my own priorities and reach for my own goals, it was like I gave myself permission to be happy. It doesn’t make me a weirdo that I’m saving up for a down payment on a house instead of shopping for new clothes every other month. My vacations are no less exciting and life-changing for being close to home. My friends are no less important just because some of them have four legs. My Saturday mornings don’t have to be filled with hangovers- it’s fine that I head straight to the barn.

This is the adult version of peer pressure that I’m resisting- I’m determined to create my own life around what matters to me most. Becoming a yoga teacher just isn’t going to happen.

Snippet Saturday- Vitamin D

If you’re stuck inside during most of the sunshine hours, take vitamin D!  I take it year round and it definitely helps perk me up when I can’t get that sunshine I crave. For an even bigger boost, get one of those full-spectrum sun lamps. Mine lives on my desk at work and is totally wizard.

My job doesn’t make me happy

Nope. My job does not fill me with joy, I do not feel inspiration welling from every pore, and my job is not my “dream come true.”

But I love my job. I really truly love my job.

This is my view every single day, and goshdarnit I like it.
This is my view every single day, and goshdarnit I like it.

“But Olivia,” you might ask, “how can you love your job if it doesn’t make you happy?” And to answer that, I’m going to tell you why I can’t identify with Elite Daily or Buzzfeed or Thought Catalog anymore.

There are countless articles on those sites telling young people to pursue their dreams and not to settle for the mindless drudgery that an office job would surely offer. Millennials (of which I’m one) praise each other for sticking it to the man and making their own paths. And all of that does sound great! More power to you for holding out for what you really want!

Maybe it’s my practical streak, but that just doesn’t work for me. Traveling with no money and crashing on friends couches doesn’t sound adventurous and fun to me- it isn’t the lifestyle I want. I enjoy having a steady paycheck, a comfortable apartment, and decent hotels to stay in when I travel. Maybe I’m just an old soul.

Earning that steady paycheck means putting in my time from 8am-5pm (with a lovely hour long lunch break) and doing things that aren’t on the top of my fun-list: running statistical analysis, cleaning data, writing code, formatting Excel sheets.

So no, my job does not fill me with ecstasy every time I contemplate the work that I do. But there are so many reasons I love my job despite that:

  • The people I work with totally rock. My team, my department, and pretty much everyone in this company is smart, kind, interesting, and sometimes totally dorky. Just my kind of people.
  • My boss is the best boss I could ask for. He encourages me to create my own assignments and pursue whatever project on the docket that I have the most interest in, and he’s always pushing me to take on harder tasks. He’s my biggest cheerleader and he makes sure I know it.
  • I get to leave at 5pm. There are the occasional days where I have to stay a little late, but when I leave at the end of the day, I’m done. My evenings and weekends are entirely free for me to spend the money I earn from 8-5 Monday-Friday.
  • My company takes care of me. I never realized how much a good insurance plan would matter to me at 23, but it really does. And having more vacation time than most people at my level doesn’t hurt either.
  • My company takes care of the community. The CEO has a big emphasis on giving back to the community that has given so much to us, so there are constant volunteer opportunities put together at work. Food drives, toy drives, environmental clean up crews, making food for hungry children, you name it and we’re probably involved in some way.
  • I feel like I’m learning. I had no intention of coding when I left school (I hated all my CompSci classes with a fiery passion), but now I’m determined to become the team expert in anything that might require coding. Having that goal and feeling like I’m learning and improving ensures that I’m never bored.

Working at a company that fits my values like this has proven to be much more valuable than working somewhere simply because the work itself is enjoyable. I’ve found that it’s not so much about the work you do, it’s about who you do it with and the attitude you approach it with.

It was never my childhood dream to become a research analyst and do statistics and coding all day long, but it’s meant that I get to earn a living that supports my lifestyle, and gives me the free time to pursue the hobbies that I love. I don’t want a happy job, I want a happy life.

My job does not make me happy in itself, but it gives me the freedom to create a whole life that makes me happy.

I’d much rather work at this company in corporate America and enjoy my life than scramble to make ends meet while chasing some dream Buzzfeed told me I wanted.

Check out my follow-up to this here.

How I Budget in One Easy Step

One reaction I’ve gotten alarmingly often when I mention that I ride horses is, “Oh so you must be rich, right?”

Yeah, I wish. I’m comfortable enough, but that’s only because of careful budgeting. Let’s face it, I’m an early-twenties research analyst living in a place with an absurd cost of living.

I was a little hesitant to write this post, because let’s face it- budgets are boring. But some of my favorite blog posts out there have talked about budgets and financials, so I’m jumping in and joining the conversation anyways. Honestly, for me it all boils down to one question:

What do I have to give up to pay for this?

When I get that delicious Chipotle for lunch, that could be a drink at the bar with my friends. When I crank the heat up instead of putting a sweater on, that could be a new show shirt. You get the idea.

That’s how I keep my spending in check day-to-day, but I also try to prioritize my spending. I know that certain things are necessary and certain things are wants, and I try to keep those in balance as best I can. For example, riding breeches are needs. Twelve pairs of riding breeches are wants.

And that’s my super simple way of making sure my budget works for me each month: on a high level I make sure I’m paying for my highest priorities before spending on things that aren’t as important, and on a smaller level I justify each purchase with myself by asking what else I could be spending that money on.

If there was interest I was thinking about doing a series on more specific ways that I make my budget work for me as a professional twenty-something, let me know in the comments if you’d like to see that!

What’s your favorite trick to keep spending in check?

Snippet of Wisdom Saturday- dish racks

In the interest of keeping my weekends free for all my crazy partying (and by partying I mean reading and going to the barn), I’ve decided that “Snippet of Wisdom Saturdays” will now be a thing! These are just going to be short tips on living as a fairly independent twenty-something that I wish something had mentioned to me sooner.

I know we’ve all read the Buzzfeed and Elite Daily articles titled “183 insane things no one tells you about being an adult,” but these are going to be things that seriously no one has ever mentioned to me. Or they mentioned and it seemed so inconsequential at the time that I forgot.

So, the first life tip in this series is:

Even though you put clean dishes in there, your drying rack needs to be cleaned too. Please don’t let it go for a full year like I did, and if you do let it go, don’t look at the bottom. You won’t like what you see.

What do you think? Shall we keep the snippets coming?