I’m having a tough day today. I’m feeling overworked, underpaid, deeply stressed and tired. October has been a busy month and there’s no slowing down. I have a friend coming into town tonight for four days, two catering events today and tomorrow, a huge project to be completed by tomorrow for my nonprofit and an engagement party on Saturday.
Then next week comes and the madness starts all over again. I feel like I am constantly busy, constantly busting my butt and I’m not getting the results I want fast enough. I feel stuck. I feel like I am trying my hardest to knock down a brick wall and the wall is just getting thicker.
As y’all know, I am a low income earner working a few different jobs and trying my best to maximize my savings. I worked like hell for a year to rid myself of my student loan debt and I have maintained my debt free status since June. That’s been amazing.
I’ve also been trying very hard to fully fund my emergency fund, max out my IRA and recently, started saving because come next April I will owe $3,400 in back taxes from this year. In September I realized I needed to save around $6,000 by the end of December.
I am making progress. I’m more than halfway to maxing out my IRA and I am only $1,000 away from hitting my target amount for my emergency fund. That’s a great place to be. But I am losing steam fast and I still need to save $4,000 in the next two and a half months in order to reach my goals.
I’m working 15 catering events this month, on top of 30 hours a week for the nonprofit. It comes out to roughly 56 hours of work a week, not including drive time. While I know people out there regularly pull 80 work weeks, remember that I will make a maximum of $3,000 a month with this schedule. On top of that I have two friends who have come to visit this month, a boyfriend and a life that I am trying to maintain. It’s constantly go-time and I am feeling worn thin.
While my work life seems to ask more and more of me I feel like I am seeing less and less from it. Let’s be real: no one is getting rich in the non profit sector but my job is paying me part time on a contract status. Catering is long hours for a decent hourly rate but it’s not the track to wealth and power by any means.
I can absolutely save $4,000 by the end of the year. It is 100% doable. But it’s going to require I keep up this frantic pace of work and my rigid spending rules. And after more than a year of extreme frugality and saying ‘no’ to almost everything in my life, I am beginning to break.
What do I do? Do I ease up on my goals? Do I work more treats into my schedule? Do I work less and deal with having less money?
I’ve been reflecting on the past year and thinking a lot about the upcoming one. I’ve grown a lot as a person and I am in a place that I wasn’t quite sure I’d get to. I feel more stable than ever before and I have a steady flow of cash. I have started saving aggressively. I am the richest I’ve ever been. It’s really nice.
My quality of life though, has been degrading steadily these last two months. I have managed my finances in a wonderful way but I am personally burned out and tired. My motivation is really low. My passion for setting myself up in the best financial position I can is really low. I am struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel right now.
Because I am me and I can’t quit things, I know that I am going to keep this pace up. I am going to reach my goals. I do still want them more than I want a weekend off. More than I want to sit on the couch and crush a season of Gilmore Girls on one day. More than I want to blow my money on treats for myself.
I am reluctantly willing to continue to push myself to my limits for the next two and a half months. After all, it’s only two and a half months right? I am planning on being much more forgiving with my schedule next year- as long as I hit my goals for this year.
So to try and combat days like this, where I feel sad, tired and burned out, I am giving myself as much self care as I can. My go to ways of retaining my sanity in insane times are:
Getting enough sleep and drinking enough water
Getting out of my house and mixing up my work space
Painting my own nails a really bright color
Letting my room get messy and not feeling bad about it
Wearing comfortable clothes
Minor treats (Arizona Iced Teas, I’m looking at you. $0.77 a bottle!)
They’re not extravagant and they’re not a cure all but these little things help me through tough times. When I am well rested and hydrated I feel so much better, so I try and maintain healthy habits even more so when I’m stressed. Painting my nails makes me feel pulled together and somehow brighter- I like looking at them and seeing a pretty color there. I like to keep my room clean but if the floor needs to become the biggest shelf in my room, so be it. I can’t waste time beating myself up over that. And even though it’s still regularly hitting 95 degrees in Austin I am embracing my yoga pants. Haters to the left please.
Ultimately, making sure I can save that $4,000 means more to me than taking time off would. I am so close to everything I’ve been working towards since September 2014 that I can’t give up now. I am making the choice to push through these tough times and then enjoy the green pastures of 2016.
Kara Perez is the original founder of From Frugal To Free. She is a money expert, speaker and founder of Bravely Go, a feminist financial education company. Her work has been featured on NPR, Business Insider, Forbes, and Elite Daily.