Welcome to our State of the Blog report for January 2017. In our monthly wrap up, we’ll talk blog fatigue, a giveaway jar dilemma, and the to-do list. We’ll even wrap up our No-Spend January Challenge.
January came in with a bang (and an ice storm). After that, Little Bit suffered an ear infection, and she and Jon both caught a bit of a cold. My seasonal job picked up a bit more than I bargained for. As we move into February, everyone in the house feels impatient for spring, better health, and better weather.
Which isn’t to say January was bad, but I think we’re all ready to move on. We’re tired. Little Bit never takes naps, and she’s napping daily. Jon and I are drained. I think we’re ready for a spring renewal…or at least a little Super Bowl party.
In December, I struggled with my blogging whys. In January, I struggled with just blogging.
I feel like I really struggled with content over the last month, and part of this has to do with the No-Spend January Challenge. The last time we did a No-Spend January Challenge, I wrote 7 articles. (Okay, I wrote 6 and Jon wrote one.) I had fun, and the words flowed easily. This time, we didn’t have nearly as much to say. Other things took up our time and attention, and our low spending didn’t seem that far from the norm. On the other hand, I didn’t seem to have much energy for anything else, either.
I struggled to keep up with reading other blogs and making comments. Pinterest got put on the back burner. I tweeted only sporadically. I have way more props to those who manage to do all the good blogger tasks, plus work full-time careers, plus raise families. I struggled as my schedule tightened and…some things got dropped.
It wasn’t all bad, though. Our Sling TV review earlier this week did really well. That surprised me, but our search traffic went way up. We never get hits from search! I guess a lot of people want to know if Sling is too good to be true. I hope our experience helps them.
Where My Mind Is
Part of my content struggle is probably caused by current events. I haven’t made myself turn away (though Linda at Brooklyn Bread has a great list of alternatives.) I’m not certain I want to yet. My mind wanders away from money topics and towards thoughts of justice, civility, unity, and good citizenship.
I don’t think this is the space for those thoughts, though occasionally I just babble anyway. For the moment, I listen, read, think, and pray a little.
I’ll leave it at this thought: Money is not a zero-sum game, and neither are most things. I can do better, you can do better, we can all grow together and we all grow best together when we work together. A winner-take-all, zero-sum mentality shuts out so many better possibilities.
Look for common interests and bridges to understanding. That’s where we find opportunities to grow together Listen, read, and think.
And, if it’s in your wheelhouse, maybe pray a little, too.
No-Spend January Challenge Wrap-Up
We finally cooked one of the turkeys! Yay! We took it over to Jon’s parents to celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday and then split the leftovers. We still have the ham and another turkey, but it’s not like the three of us could have eaten all that meat anyway.
Little Bit’s illness means she won’t eat anything. Not even a cupcake at a birthday party for one of her classmates. Jon and I have to beg her to take a nibble, so I did a little extra spending to try to tempt her to eat a bit. Last week I picked up some pop tarts and her favorite cereal so I could send her off to school having eaten SOMETHING. On Sunday, I even stopped after church and got us each a McDouble. That at least tempted her into eating half. She’s still eating lightly, but at least I’m no longer worried she’s going to faint from hunger.
We also ended up with $12 worth of cough medicine, some cough drops, extra kleenex, etc. And 3 boxes of Girl Scout cookies. With all that and our pre ice-storm trip, our grocery bill ended up a disappointing $245, about half what it usually runs but about $100 higher than I wanted. We spent about $25 on a lunch out and the Mickey D’s run, and about the same on entertainment (Jon forgot to cancel my 6-month Sirius XM anniversary subscription, plus an ice cream cone and one planned roller skating party.)
That feels like a lot of spending for a no-spend month. It’s about the same as last time, though. I may not have learned much, but $300 seems about as low as we comfortably get that discretionary spending down for a month and absorb all the unexpected things life throws at us.
Working the To-Do List
I started the year with a to-do list, and I haven’t changed it much yet.
- Exercise moderately at least 4 times.-
- Delay sweets til the weekend.
Increase Financial Health
- Kick off No-Spend Challenge.
- Write 2 articles.
- Write newsletter.
- Progress through at least some part of a blogging class a week
Do Good Things
- Figure out volunteer availability in relation to office commitments.
How it Went
I hit the exercise goal, pretty much left the sweets til the weekend, and didn’t forget the newsletter. I wrote…not quite 2 articles each week. (two this week, though!) and we made it through the no-spend challenge…okay. The class…well, I got through the class the first week and did a Pinterest seminar a different week. Hitting 50%, but that’s more continuing ed than I finished most months last year.
Where I really dropped the ball was my volunteer commitment. My current commitment is for mornings, and all my school mornings became work mornings. I need to figure something else to do for a while, so I may just put more time in at church.
Now that my No-Spend month is over, I need to figure the next Financial Health move too…getting our tax returns finished. I don’t need to finish it this week, but I need to get started.
Little Bit’s Giveaway Jar
We designed Little Bit’s allowance to include money to give away, preferably around Christmas time. In 2015, the giveaway jar worked well, and she gave to her school’s Backpack Buddies program for food-insecure kids.
This year, she wanted to wait until her school’s Jump Rope for Heart drive to benefit the American Heart Association.
I’m cool with the American Heart Association. Almost 80% of their funds go to program expenses, and heart disease is a killer.
What I have reservations about is that Little Bit gets rewards for the donations she brings in. The giveaway jar should not be traded for rewards.
It’s not that simple either. Little Bit says she not only wants to use all of her giveaway money, she also wants to donate her accumulated spending money…over $30. That’s 6 weeks of saving for her.
She does have an option to forego the rewards completely but she also will be asking others to contribute. She wants the rewards, and they are driving her to do more fundraising. So I’m torn, and not sure what to do, other than let her support the cause she’s adopted.
Wrapping Up January 2017
January is over, and I was ready for it to be.
February holds more promise. Work seems like it will ratchet down for a bit after a week or so. At least, I’ll get to go in an hour later than I do this week and get back to my regular wake-up time.
Little Bit gets out for her late winter track out in the middle of the month. We won’t vacation at all, but I think it will help her to kick back and relax for a couple of weeks.
We’ll watch the Super Bowl, eat some pancakes for Mardi Gras and find some R&R, even if it’s just in our family room.
How did your January go? What’s your best advice for fighting a bad case of the blahs? And what would you do about the giveaway jar dilemma?