The March Update.

March was a mixed bag. I failed on several fronts, had a major disappointment, and spent a lot of money. But I did all right in other areas, so it wasn’t the worst month I could have had.

Goals for 2019 – March Progress

Send one real letter a month.
I sent a thank you note.

Sew at least one garment a month.
I finished a pair of simple trousers (that count as a Make Nine project, too), a short-sleeved Astoria top, repaired a ready-to-wear nightgown, and made a skirt from one of my favorite old dresses. It had holes in both sleeves and permanent deodorant gunk on the bodice (ew!), but the skirt was just fine, so I cut it apart and added an elastic waist.

Send newsletter at least once a month.
I didn’t manage it this month.

Make one apartment improvement a month. In March: Get hanging lamps from IKEA.
I did get one hanging lamp, but IKEA was sold out of the other paper shade I wanted, so I only got one. I haven’t hung it yet. I also got new rolling metal drawer units for underneath my sewing desk and completely reorganized my sewing storage. We also replaced our welcome mat with a more cheerful version. A lot of progress this month! I don’t have any immediate plans for improvements in April, so I may just take the month off.

Go on one outing with Lennox a month.
Lennox took me to see “Captain Marvel,” which we both really enjoyed. (We won’t only go to movies for our monthly outings, of course — it’s pretty unusual for us to go two months in a row.)

Read one physical book I already own a month.
I didn’t get one finished, but I started reading one of my paperbacks this morning. I’m unlikely to finish it before midnight tonight, so I’ll probably read two in April. (I just didn’t run out of library books until today! Hahaha.)

Track budget for books, clothing, and sewing.
I spent like a maniac this month, but it wasn’t a surprise. I usually do in March, and much of this spending is planned. I spent $126.83 on fabric and sewing patterns, which was $35.97 over the allotted $91.86. This was where I really overspent! I’ll carry forward the deficit, so I’ll only have $25.03 to spend in April. I’ll try to look at that as a challenge. I do have several projects that I’d like to finish before Me Made May, but I already have fabric and patterns for all of them. (I may need thread or interfacing, though, but that won’t break the bank.) I spent $161.21 on clothing and shoes, but I put $50.00 in birthday money towards this spending, so it wasn’t as bad as it seemed. I also spent a little more than I intended because I found Birkenstocks in my size (new in box, even) at an unbeatable price on eBay, so I went ahead and ordered them, as my black sandals needed to be replaced before it got warm again. I spent $64.14 on books, so that was only slightly over the budgeted amount, which I think I can count as a success.

Track daily writing habit.
I barely wrote a word in March and I didn’t track it at all. This was just a failure all around, although I think it may have been a necessary break. Next month is Camp Nanowrimo, so I will likely get back into my daily habit then.

Post weekly IG photo.
I posted 3 out of 4 weeks and shared several things in my stories.

Run robot sweeper, vacuum bedroom, tidy, and clean bathroom weekly.
I managed only 2 out of 4 weeks this month, which would have been fine…except that the cleaning service flaked out on me and failed to come when scheduled! This caused me to cancel a party and left me feeling hurt and extremely angry. Although I cope very well with my chronic fatigue under normal circumstances, I sometimes need outside help — and I have to drop everything when that help does not happen. I’m still angry, to be honest. I will never use that service again, as this is the second time they’ve pulled a no-show.

Longer Term Goals

Reduce fabric stockpile to less than 100 yards (plus scraps) by the end of 2019.
I ended March with 138 yards in storage, which wasn’t unexpected — just a little more than I’d anticipated. I’m not mad, though. Four of those yards were excellent quality clearance fabric from The Sewing Workshop bought for a song, and three yards from a 100% linen bedsheet found in the as-is bin at IKEA and purchased for $5.00! I will be cutting out at least one dress this week, as I finished tracing the pattern this afternoon — and as I mentioned, I plan to get a couple of other things done before May, so I expect my storage to shrink back under 130 yards in April.

Finish cross stitch and frame it.
I finished it (hooray!), and picked up a sheet of craft felt for backing the hoop, so it’s ready to frame. I am definitely done with cross-stitch, though; it bores me to tears. It took me five years of procrastination to finish this very simple project. My current position is Hannibal forever, cross stitch never again!

Finish Baktus scarf. 
I knitted a few inches while watching TV. I’m getting dangerously close to the mid-point, believe it or not.

Have four tea parties.
I had a party scheduled for the 30th, but (as I explained above), it got canceled. I’ll try to have my annual Halloween tea, but I’ve decided that this just isn’t a viable goal for 2019, so I am dropping it from the list.

Find a way to keep performing.
Not yet.

Combine websites, transfer blog, forward other domains, purchase an SSL certificate.
No further progress yet, although I did cancel hosting for my secondary website. I’ll work on this after tax season.

My March Frugal List — and Bonus Birthday List

First, all of the discounts and freebies I got for my birthday. I sign up for all mailing lists that give me a decent birthday perk, which is one of the reasons my March spending is always higher — sometimes those perks come in the form of a discount or a generous gift card, so I wait to shop until my birthday month.

This year, I got the following birthday perks:

  • Used a $25.00 gift certificate on an eShakti order. I’m one of their “platinum” customers, so this was a discount from the company, not a gift card. I combined this discount with a wicked sale, too — and spent only $65.00 on a dress and top, both custom to my measurements. That amount included customization and shipping!
  • Installed an app to get a Michael Ian Black ebook for free.
  • Used a 10% off coupon to get some canvas shoes from ASOS. This wasn’t the best discount, but it was a planned purchase, so I took advantage of it. Any discount still counts.
  • Used a $10.00 off coupon to order a needed replacement bra from Torrid.
  • Had a free salted caramel milkshake at Smashburger. I didn’t make a cake this year, so this was my birthday dessert!
  • Had a free birthday drink at Starbucks.
  • Rented a free DVD from Redbox with a coupon code.
  • Had a free buffet at Sweet Tomatoes — & 20% off the rest of our check. I was really impressed with this one. We had two buffets and two drinks for about $14.00 total.
  • Used a $15 off coupon from IKEA to pay for one of the small wheeled drawer units for my sewing area.
  • Declined to shop with my $10.00 birthday voucher from The Body Shop, but opted to have it donated to Born Free instead. I didn’t need anything, so I was happy that donation was an option.

As you can see, that’s quite a pay-off for a year of advertising that I mostly ignored! If you want to do the same thing yourself — it’s a lot of fun, especially collecting the freebies — I do recommend that you set up a special folder and email filters for all of the marketing stuff. (This is especially important if you don’t have a lot of shopping willpower.) You can go in and clear out the folder periodically, or check for sales or coupon codes when you do want to shop with a specific retailer. Work the system — don’t let it work you.

I also did regular, non-birthday-related stuff in March:

  • Paid for all of my Patreon pledges and my Seamwork subscription using money earned taking surveys.
  • Downloaded an Amazon First Reads novel for free.
  • Downloaded two free calligraphy worksheets. I’m pretty terrible at calligraphy, but I might improve if I practice.
  • Gave Lennox a haircut. It took all of 5 minutes and saved at least $15 plus tip.
  • Stocked up on inexpensive produce and gluten-free items at Aldi while we were in the area on another errand. (We don’t have an Aldi in our neighborhood.)
  • Used a $7.00 off coupon code earned doing a survey for eQuilter to pay for shipping on a yard of batik fabric. (It’s destined to become some very fancy bias tape.)
  • Had a free (non-birthday related) drink on my Starbucks card.
  • Read 15 ebooks and two physical books from the library, as well as one book borrowed from Prime Reading and one Kindle First Read.

That’s still quite a bit! None of these things probably outweighed all the extra spending, but at least it made a dent.

I plant to participate in Camp Nanowrimo next month and hope to keep my sewing spending under control. Here’s to a productive April!

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