Despite the fact that I basically didn’t leave my bed all of last weekend, I’ve actually been pretty proactive about improving my life lately. Health and finances are two things that I often worry I’m not managing well. I’m a little bit too prone to making chocolate chip cookies or spending a grand at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.
So much of the time, improving your life only requires a bit of effort. I truly believe anyone can run a mile or never forget a doctor’s appointment with just a little bit of help. Here are the ten ways I’ve been improving my life lately, and I think they might help you too:
1. Buy a carbonated water machine
About a year ago when my company was acquired, our fridge at work began being stocked with sparkling water. Until that point, I had always drunk tap water and, at best, only a few cups a day. But I very quickly became hooked and began drinking two or so bottles a day. I really felt horrible at the amount of track I was producing, though, and that I felt a bit limited to no more than a couple, so a few weeks ago I picked up a SodaStream and a few low-calorie syrups. Since then, I’ve been putting away about two liters a day, and I swear I’ve gained five pounds from water weight alone. I haven’t seen many improvements in my skin yet, but there’s no doubt all this H2O is great for my body.
2. Sign up for a fitness class
I think this is the third time I’m saying this on my blog, but I’m sooo into ClassPass right now. My six months of kickboxing just ended, and I was honestly getting kind of bored of it anyways. Despite that, I’ve realized that I love fitness classes as opposed to just running outside or hitting the gym, because a teacher pushes me harder than I push myself and I love the positivity of working out with a group of people. ClassPass is great because I get to do a bunch of different types of workouts every week like yoga, dance, bootcamp, etc. And once you’re spending $100 a month on classes, you feel pressured to go so you don’t waste the money.
3. Do a home décor project
Two weekends ago when I spent a grand at Bed, Bath, and Beyond (more on that another day), I threw myself into doing some home décor projects that I’d been putting off for years. I put this beautiful makeup table in storage that was just taking up too much space in our tiny bedroom, put in a large thrifted wardrobe instead, and added a $75 blue carpet I got on sale, which really brightened the room up from the muddy and stained brown it was before. Our bedroom feels more colorful, spacious, and put together now, and in total it only cost about $125 to make all those changes.
4. Clean all the things
The same weekend I binged on home décor items, I also made a giant list of cleaning projects that I had been putting off, such as scrubbing down the water heater, vacuuming out the inside of the cat liter box furniture, and reorganizing the cleaning supplies. Okay, so maybe this wasn’t exactly a simple task, but checking off all of those procrastinated items off the list felt great and the apartment positively glowed afterwards. I just threw on a great audiobook and got down to business.
5. Start using a budgeting app
Earlier this week my mom and I had a great talk about budgeting my money for taking on a large additional rent cost when my roommate moves out later this year. We broke down what my regular expenses were to make sure that I’d be able to afford taking on an additional $500 monthly cost for some office space for my new freelance PR business. It was a great pep talk and it made me realize that I really needed to start keeping better track of my own expenses. I’d used Mint before in the past, but never liked it because it automatically pulled amounts in from my credit card and didn’t allow me to account for Reg paying me some of it back in cash. I did some research and discovered SpendBook, a wonderfully functional and beautiful budgeting app. It lets you easily put in amounts every day based on category, factor in your income, and track the amounts over time. I’m really hoping it helps me get back on track.
6. Treat yourself to some new exercise clothes
As much as I love ClassPass, I’ve realized I am pretty much the least hip person in the room every time. Most of my workout clothes are five years old from my gym-rat days, and it’s not a whole lot of fun to look at myself in the mirror at a hip hop dance class when I’m in tattered sweats and a baggy shirt. Not to mention, my running shoes are about three years old and literally chewed up by my dog. Over the last couple of months, I’ve started to update my workout wardrobe, which not only makes me feel more comfortable, but encourages me to workout regularly to get some actual use of my clothes. Special callout here to my new running shoes from REI and these adorable exercise leggings from Teeki – now I can be a beautiful swan in dance class and not the ugly duckling.
7. Open a new savings account
One of my big concerns beginning to do freelance PR is that taxes are pretty crazy when you’re self-employeed. Instead of being automatically taken out of my paycheck every month, I’m going to have to start budgeting them in so I can afford to drop a few grand every three months. Towards this end, I’ve opened up a secondary saving account that I can put money into every month and use exclusively towards this purpose. I’m sure that you can think of something you’d like to save up for – a vacation to India, a new car, maybe even a house… by breaking out a separate savings account, you can dedicate funds exclusively for that purpose. It’s a great way to force yourself to budget!
8. Clean out your closet and makeup
As part of my massive cleaning and home décor weekend, I also did a sweep through my entire wardrobe and makeup drawers to get rid of everything I wasn’t actually wearing. My goal was to be ruthless – any clothing that I hadn’t worn in the last year had to go, even if it was “perfectly good” or if I’d “only warn it once.” Any makeup that was more than the limit of a year or two old had to go as well, plus all the free samples that I’d collected but really was never going to try. This allowed me to get rid of my huge makeup table and free more space in the bedroom (now I’m using my top dresser drawer instead), plus make some more room in my closet for all those new workout clothes and Stitch Fix scores!
9. Plan a home-cooked meal
Another service that I’ve been obsessed with lately is Blue Apron. I’m planning to do an entire blog post on this company soon, but the basic idea is for $60 a month, they send me three meals to make and each one feeds two people. Everything comes in a refrigerated box and the recipes only take about 30-45 minutes to do. It’s been awesome for teaching me how to cook new things like cod and radishes, encouraging Reg and I to eat more at home, and giving me the satisfaction of cooking a meal myself. Blue Apron aside, I really feel like you can accomplish this feeling by researching your own new recipes and trying new home-cooked meals on your own. It can be incredibly rewarding, creative, and a total budget-saver.
10. Scour Goodreads for a new book
When I was feeling low last weekend, I knew that I had to find a new book that I loved to throw myself into. I didn’t want to read War and Peace, but rather a super enjoyable fantasy novel that I could get absolutely lost in. I spent a few hours looking through Goodreads and looking for options that interested me, and ended up picking up a new story on both my kindle and on audiobook. I know that declaring the benefits of reading here is preaching to the choir, but nothing has helped me escape my funk quite like throwing myself into a new novel.
What simple ways have you been improving your life lately, that you think others might benefit from?