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Lies I've Been Telling Myself

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Here are the list of excuses I've been telling myself for why I've put on weight the last couple months.

1. It's just water retention
2. I'll normalize soon ( has been 2 months now)
3. It's the medications I'm on (maybe this is true, but it's irrelevant)
4. It's natural for my "happy weight" to be a few pounds heavier as I get older
5. I don't need to watch what I eat, I'm a runner
6. Nobody notices an extra few pounds
7. I'll start tomorrow. It's soon enough.
8. I don't need to track my nutrition, I've been Sparking for over four years, I know how to do this
9. Everybody deserves a treat sometimes (sometimes maybe, but 3 times a day, maybe not)

When the truth is:

1. I've been eating too much
2. I've been drinking too much
3. I haven't been making healthy food choices
4. I haven't been exercising enough
5. I've been in denial and continue my denial cycle by not tracking my nutrition

Therefore, I need to track my nutrition, start making healthier food choices, not eat too much junk food everyday, and get off my butt and exercise consistently like I used to.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NAOMIEVA 5/3/2010 8:16PM

    I can definitely relate to that... well said!

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CHAOTIC-KITTY 5/2/2010 6:49PM

  Wow... what a blog entry. Thanks for posting it.. it has made me think a LOT about my journey... :)

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ARCTICALLIE 5/1/2010 10:08PM

    It's like you read my mind today! Hopefully "green-up" will inspire us to get outside and eat lots of greens emoticon

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ETTEZEUS 4/30/2010 10:33PM

    Funny, I've been telling myself the same lies!

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KO1215 4/30/2010 10:36AM

    Awesome blog! You are an inspiration!

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QUERIAN 4/30/2010 9:44AM

    I'm right there with you, sister! Sometimes we have to have a stern talking to with ourselves to get ourselves to behave the way we know we ought to!

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MARTA_M 4/29/2010 10:04PM

    Honesty doesn't suck. Our reactions to honesty suck. Way to be honest with yourself, with us! Now show how well you react!

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    Reality check...thank you! I needed that!

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BRIAN36 4/29/2010 9:05PM

    Am I commenting on my own blog????

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FELIXC 4/29/2010 8:18PM

    I think we all say these things to ourselves!

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BOBBYD31 4/29/2010 8:10PM

    so true

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EYE8URCAKE 4/29/2010 7:39PM

  I literally cringe when I make one of these justifications you have listed - which I do way more than I've ever wanted to admit. Good on you for calling it what it is and moving forward with a desire to do and be better.


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FIDGIEGIRL 4/29/2010 7:21PM

    Sounds like you know what to do and where to go. Awesome that you have such a community here to help you through it.

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RUTGERSM0M 4/29/2010 7:12PM

    emoticon emoticonSame lies I told myself and like you I had to wake up and let reality take control.

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Quiero vivir en Mexico

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I want to live in Mexico permanently some day. Or at least as permanently as life can guarantee anything. In order to do that I need to be sitting on a big pile of money. Also, I would like to be more fluent in Spanish. I took years of Spanish in high school and college but have only really used it to order more strawberry margaritas the last three years when I've visited Puerto Vallarta.

I work at a university and get free tuition each semester up to a certain amount. They have a Conversational Spanish class on Wednesday evenings and the instructor said my skill level sounded like a good match for the course. All things considered, I'm fairly decent at reading and writing it, but I really need to practice speaking the language. So I'm going to take the class! I'm excited.

Another thing to help me with my dream is to get a career where I can telecommute from Mexico and get paid in dollars. I'm exploring either being a CFP or a CPA. I was going to take an Intermediate Accounting class next semester to help me with that, but with my travel schedule, I'll be missing 5 classes, which is nearly 2 weeks worth of lectures. So, given that I'm on a 15-20 year plan here, I figure I can start the accounting process next year.

The other big key is to have enough money to make this work. The new money thing I'm going to try out this week is to start using dried beans for my cooking instead of canned beans. I use a lot of black beans but canned beans apparently cost about 2.5 times more. I know I'm not going to get to Mexico with just the money I save on dried beans, but it keeps me in a frugal mindset and makes me feel like I'm actually doing something in the short-term for my long-term goal.

Oh, and between visiting New Orleans, my last trip to Mexico in March, and stubbing my toe so hard I couldn't run for two weeks, I've put on five pounds. Working on taking all that off too. Ugh.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ETTEZEUS 4/22/2010 11:25AM

    Great planning Vanessa! Can I come visit you in Mexico? I know you'll get there!

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QUERIAN 4/21/2010 8:58AM

    Fabulous plan!

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MARTA_M 4/21/2010 1:30AM

    Bean counting! Yay!

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ARCTICALLIE 4/20/2010 10:39PM

    Buena suerte with the Spanish class! I've switched over to dried beans as well. I also invested in a pressure cooker and that made the switch so much easier. Hopefully I'll save enough with the switch to dried beans that the pressure cooker will pay for itself emoticon

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FELIXC 4/20/2010 9:52PM

    Enjoy your Spanish class, Vanessa! You will do great!

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GOLDBERG73 4/20/2010 9:12PM

    I didn't know that about the price difference in beans - I think that's a great idea and will definitely save money!


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JETTER4 4/20/2010 8:23PM

  Sounds like you have a plan. Mexico would be great.

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An April of Spending, Saving and Thinking

Thursday, April 15, 2010

My husband and I want to permanently move to Mexico sometime in the next 15-20 years. It's a lofty, but doable, goal. In order to make this happen we need to save a huge pile of money. Conveniently, the SparkSavings website rolled out at about the same time we decided living in Mexico didn't just have to a pipe dream. This is an in-progress plan. My husband just defended his doctoral thesis earlier this month and is still finishing up paperwork, so I feel lucky when I get to see him, let alone sit down and plan our financial future together.

If you haven't been to SparkSavings yet, you should come visit. It's at

But I figure I can make steps. Some of them feel like ridiculously small steps, but as I know from losing weight with SparkPeople, those small steps add up to giant leaps. I've been thinking about what I need to do short-term, medium-term and long-term to get where I want to go (ummmmm...Mexico). More ideas to follow.

1. Using coupons
2. Tracking all expenditures on SparkSavings
3. Line drying most the laundry (as opposed to using the dryer)
4. Investigated my public library! I checked out books on careers, financial planning and on Mexico. Usually I would impulse-buy on Amazon.
5. Increased my monthly savings and set up automatic deductions from my checking account
6. Started a No-Spend Thread on SparkSavings to help with accountability. Come check us out!

1. I plan on asking for a raise at work. It's a reasonable request, but the whole idea of it makes me really nervous. But I'll plan and prepare (I've checked out some books at my public library!) and the worst they'll say to me is no, not right now.
2. Perhaps starting a financial planning/money SparkTeam. There are some SparkTeams right now that I'm a part of that deal with money, but I have a few different ideas.
3. Save $500 from using coupons. Anytime I use a coupon I transfer that amount to savings. It's pretty challenging for me to save $500 using coupons for less than $1, so this is definitely not a short-term goal. It seems like so little at the time (Really? 50 cents off cat litter? Is that even worth clipping?), but $500 can pay for at least 3 medical appointments in Mexico. So that makes it worth it.

1. Investigating careers that I can telecommute with from Mexico. It doesn't need to be full-time, but I do need it to pay in dollars. I'm looking at what it would take to be a CPA (certified public accountant - I could do taxes from Mexico) or a CFP (certified financial planner) - also something that could be done with a telephone and an internet connection.
2. Pre-paying our mortgage. We each make an extra payment every year. It will save us TONS in interest for as long as we own this home.

Anyway, that's not all I'm doing, but that's the start of it. If anyone has some other great ideas, let me know!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MVHALEY 4/19/2010 1:51PM

  Are you planning on renting out your house here while you're in Mexico? Or just selling and moving? I would like to retire abroad as well, though I'm not set on a place yet. Good luck!

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KJNE8O 4/17/2010 2:51PM

    Sounds very doable - great plan!

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FELIXC 4/16/2010 8:25PM

    Awesome plan, Vanessa! Just like you've achieved your fitness goals, you WILL achieve your financial ones, too!

Suze Orman picked last year's winner of the "Biggest Loser" based primarily on his FICO score!

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QUERIAN 4/16/2010 12:57PM

    What a great plan! One thing I do to curb my spending is I don't ever impulse buy. If I want something I wait for a while and then, if I still want it, I will go buy it after I've thought about it for a couple of weeks. I used to spend lots of money on things I never needed but now almost all of my spending is limited to groceries and gas for my car. I've been saving up to move to San Francisco and I want to make sure I have a nice cushion for the time I am out of a job since I'm not sure how long that will be. Good luck!

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PSALM22 4/16/2010 12:54AM

    And best wishes on your plans!

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PSALM22 4/16/2010 12:53AM

    On the raise, if the books haven't mentioned, considering doing up a benefits matrix, listing the attributes and requirements of the job and how you exceed expectations in as many as possible. It's good way to organize your thoughts, too. The more clearly you can show how you add value, the better. Also create a key list of the extras you do and benefits to the company.

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Show Me the Money!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Lately I have renewed enthusiasm for saving money and financial well being. My husband and I want to move to Mexico in the next 15-20 years. By that time I would be in my mid-to-late 40s or early 50s, which is still years from "real" retirement. While it is considerably cheaper to live in Mexico than it is in the USA, especially anywhere in Alaska, the job market is very different. I have to prepare as if I will have no income there. Minimum wage (if you can get a job) is about 150 pesos (around $15) per day. With enough creativity and fortitude, I'm sure I could get a job of some sort, but basically I need to have enough savings to cover my regular expenses for at least 15 years. It's a lofty, but doable, ambition at this point in time. If we have kids or a job or health setback, all bets are off, but right now we're planning optimistically.

I've been really excited about SparkSavings and can't wait to see that website grow and develop like SparkPeople has over the last few years. I'm thinking about starting about a Financial Challenge team. There are a few financial teams, so I have to think about what would draw people to mine and what would make mine different.

I'm also exploring options for a career modification. Right now I'm a fiscal officer. I have bachelor's in business management and a master's in economics. However, I'm not certified to do anything - like be a CPA (certified public accountant) or CFP (certified financial planner). I'm very interested in going the CFP route. I have some feelers out to my university (I'm staff at my alma matter) about taking some accounting classes and then sitting for the CPA and/or CFP exams.

The CPA thing has interested me for a little bit, but the CFP has REALLY interested me for a long time. If I had college to do over again I would start there and plan on being a CFP (or an actuary actually) from the beginning. The one drawback to being a CFP is that many of the positions are comission based. I'm not interested in selling a questionable product, or having to bully people looking for financial advice into buying a product that might not be right for them just so I can pay my own bills. There are positions that require a fiduciary obligation to your clients out there and I want one of those. But those are a lot harder to come by. So we'll see where it goes. First, I have to hear back from the accounting department at the university.

The BIG upside with either of those certifications is that with good internet access (large parts of Mexico have great internet access) it's something I could do part-time in a different country and earn dollars. So maybe that's what I'll do once I get to Mexico. Right now I'm just exploring the options, saving my money (next blog will be about where I still SPEND money on things I don't necessarily NEED), and starting to create a plan.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PENTACLE9 4/15/2010 3:01PM

    Your vision of living in Mexico is very doable. I have a cousin who's retired to Jamaica for the same reason. I'm so glad she did. My vacations are very cheap and I have a great tour guide!

About starting a team, it's a lot easier than you think and a lot of fun. I started a team, On The Rock, at the end of March and find my team mates very helpful, informative, and inspiring.

May God bless you in all your avenues of success! emoticon

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CHAOTIC-KITTY 4/7/2010 12:00PM

  Best of luck with your plans. It all sounds so amazing and exciting!! :)

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TAMTAM64 4/5/2010 7:11AM

    What a great "vision" you have!

I need to go check SparkSavings out. I am at the age where I am ready to not work as much but I need a plan!


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KJNE8O 4/5/2010 6:25AM

    I think you have a great plan going here! So exciting! I'll have to come visit you in Mexico :P)

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    Good Luck with your plans for early retirement!

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BOBBYD31 4/4/2010 7:56PM

    that would give anne and i a good vacation spot but in 15-20 yrs we probably won't be getting around too well any more. ( we would be getting near 70) good luck with your plans, i hope they all come true.

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UMUCGRAD 4/4/2010 7:10PM

    Lots of luck with your plans. I hope you enjoy Mexico.

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Drastic Tips to Save Money

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I'm very "into" saving money right now. I've always enjoyed personal finance and putting together spreadsheets, but since my husband and I now have a shared financial dream I have become re-energized to save money. Especially convenient given that SparkSavings ( just launched!

Anyway, a lot of personal finance advice gets regurgitated over and over. If you've been looking into it for the last couple of years you probably see a lot of the same stuff over and over again. This article offered up some advice I don't hear much about (like move to a foreign country) in a different way.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ITGIRL74 3/31/2010 8:46AM

    Try this book:
75752250. A lot of the stuff in there is crazy, and for those who don't have kids you might find a lot of it not applicable, but it's got so many tips for saving money that some of them are bound to be new and useful. I learned a lot about food storage - what can be bought in bulk when it's on sale and frozen to last longer (did you know you can freeze milk? blocks of cheese?).

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BILLALEX70 3/31/2010 6:06AM

    Miami next January! ? ING half!?

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APPLEPIEDREAMS 3/31/2010 12:42AM

    Mexico!! It's all about Mexico. That's we're saving for :-) I thought the article was interesting, but I wouldn't give up my cat for anything.

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ETTEZEUS 3/30/2010 10:58PM

    Guess all my money goes to the 6 indoor cats and 2 outdoor cats (and the raccoons that eat the outdoor cats food) not to mention the birds.

Oh yeah, and the cable. DH can't live without his MLB Extra Innings Package or the news channels.

Whatcha savin' for?

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