Wednesday, April 28, 2010

M Fundraising

I'm leaving in less than a week for Project M and am getting really pumped (and honestly, a little nervous). I wanted to take a second to thank everyone who donated to my M fund. I'm up to $1,225 and can't express how wonderful it's been to see how happy friends and family have been to help out. And a last call, if anyone is interested in donating and hasn't yet, you can still do so from the PayPal link in the last post.

Love you all, check back in May for M updates!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Project M!

I'm very, very excited to announce that I'll be participating in this May's Project M session in Belfast, Maine. For those of you who aren't familiar with the project or didn't receive my fundraising email, here's a brief summary of what it's all about:

It was started in 2003 by designer John Bielenberg. After seeing architect Samuel Mockabee (where the M originally comes from) speak about leading architecture students to work on projects centered around the concept of “design for the greater good”, he was inspired to bring the idea to the graphic design world. Seven years later, he runs multiple 2-week Project M sessions a year, helping young, creative thinkers to see that their work can have a positive and significant impact on the world.

At the beginning of each session, M’ers arrive with no idea what shape their project will take. They work collaboratively to explore the local community to get a sense of how they can use their skills as designers to produce a project that will bring forth positive change in the area.

A few examples of how past Project M sessions have impacted cities and towns around the world:

• Helping to provide safe drinking water to over 100 families in Alabama

• Bringing communities together by turning abandoned lots into parks in Baltimore and Detroit

• Incubating a social-enterprise company, NADA, that produces low-cost bike frames and targets young people to get on bikes and out of cars in urban environments

• Laying the groundwork for an organic garden and local farmer’s market in Connecticut

• Creating awareness and providing a creative outlet for Icelanders during its economic collapse.

I'm so, so excited about this and have been dying to participate forever so I couldn't be happier. The only tricky part is that the project isn't funded by a corporate sponsor but by the individuals who apply so I'm trying to raise $2,000 in the next 3 weeks. If anyone can help in any way it will be sincerely appreciated. I set up a donations page through PayPal, so if you'd like to make a donation you can do so by clicking the donate button at the bottom of this post.

Thanks so much! I will most likely be blogging about the experience too so make sure to check back throughout May.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Everything in moderation

Miser March ended up being a lot harder than I anticipated. In theory, sticking to the budget that I had set up for the month was perfectly reasonable; there was even a little money leftover each week for unnecessary expenses, win! What I didn’t (and couldn’t) account for though was unexpected expenses, and for whatever reason, March had a lot of them. I was reminded again how important it is to have money saved and felt thankful that I had been good about this when I was in a better financial situation. Anyways…

Even though I couldn’t be as stingy as I set out to be, I did manage to pick up some good money saving habits. I’m addicted to comparison shopping now and I finally jumped on the buying in bulk bandwagon. I make the extra effort to go to the cheapest gas station, I signed up for Keep the Change so I can at least put a little money away, and I really think twice before whipping out my credit card for an impulse purchase. I definitely slipped up a few times and some of the habits I tried to make quickly went out the window, but the month definitely made me more mindful of my spending and kicked me back into miser mode.

What I did determine though, is that even though saving money is great, paying for convenience is totally worth it sometimes. Holding down a squirming Fanne to clip her nails, haggling a price for car repairs at 5 different shops, and paying half the price to get my hair done at a beauty school are all things that I’m not really interested in doing. To me, it’s worth the money to save the stress when I can afford to do so.

I thought a lot about money and happiness too, especially after finishing up The Happiness Project, which I mentioned back in February. In her chapter about money, Gretchen wrote “If money is to enhance your happiness, it must be used to support aspects of life that themselves bring happiness to you”. Sure, money alone doesn’t buy happiness but it can definitely help to support it. Living miserly is great for saving money, but I can definitely say that I felt happier in months where money wasn’t constantly occupying my thoughts. Going out to dinner with friends, taking photography classes, and traveling might not be “necessary” expenses but they make me happy, so to me it’s totally worth the money.

So, as my dad would say, “Everything in moderation”. It’s good to know how to be thrifty, but it’s also important to not be too strict about it when you don’t have to be.