It's been a while! Over the summer I sold my single family house with the big yard and bought a condo. Turned out to be a great decision. I was able to pay cash, and have a nice amount left. It's a 2 bed/ 2 full bath with an open living/dining and kitchen area. Very updated. The only improvements I made were to have beautiful hardwood floors installed throughout and fresh paint. I'm on the top floor, so the ceilings are vaulted. It's an elevator building, with an assigned parking space. Also has a full sized washer/dryer in my unit and lots of storage space. I just love it. The grounds are very lush and well maintained. And no snow shoveling! Happy to be back and hope to post more consistently now that I am settled.
My mom left on Saturday to relocate and live with my sister. Now that it is just me, I need a new food budget. I went to the grocery store on Sunday and spent $39.93. I did a meal plan for the week, and if I can stick to it, I shouldn't need to buy any more food until next Sunday. This is the hard part! I don't really like cooking and after a long day at work I sometimes cave in and just pick up something for dinner on the way home. I have been downloading some crockpot recipes to try, and plan to start making one each Sunday. I hope to be able to stay at or below $40 a week for groceries to start, and then see how things go. I anticipate some weeks will be lower, until I need to restock on more expensive items. I also filled my gas tank up and I was almost on empty, only $19.82! Love these low gas prices!
I haven't posted in a long time but read the blogs frequently. There have been a lot of changes. My mom, who is now 89 and who has lived with me for the past 5 years is relocating to live with my sister and her husband in another state in two weeks. I will then be putting my house on the market and downsizing to a small condo. I am in my mid 50's and the snow shoveling and home maintenance and gardening is just getting to be too much for me. I no longer need a 3 bedroom single house and am looking forward to a smaller space! The best bit of financial news is that I PAID OFF MY HOUSE! So when I sell, I can purchase my condo with cash and should have a nice chunk of change left over. I am working on a new budget, which will change again when I move. It's going to be an exciting year!
I took today off from work and used a personal day. I had so many errands to do and was once again facing a weekend full of obligations. So today I had my required car emissions test done, went to the bank, picked up some prescriptions for mom, did some much needed shoe shopping (found one pair I liked), looked for some new work clothes but was not successful, had my eye exam (but still need to look for frames) did the grocery shopping, and got my laundry done. Now I need a nap!
All of these expenses were budgeted for, but I did spend more on the shoes then I normally do ($69.00) I have moderate osteoarthritis in my back, hip and neck and I have found that wearing good shoes really makes a difference. The eye exam was covered through my insurance but I am dreading the cost of the glasses. Insurance covers a portion, but I need progressive, no line bifocals and usually get transitions so they darken up to sunglasses when outside. Really expensive. I still have some housework to do tomorrow but I think that on Sunday I might actually have a free day!
Like many folks I have been working since I was 16. I am now 54. Lately, I have really been struggling with the daily grind. It's not that I hate my job, I enjoy my work and I am very grateful to have a good income and job stability. But I find myself longing for my time to be my own. To sleep in on a rainy day, to linger over my coffee in the morning while I catch up on the news. I would like to be able to attend to all of my errands and chores during the week so that my weekends are free and not crammed with obligations. Since I am not financially able to retire yet, I have really been focused on making sure (as sure as I can) that I can retire at age 62. I would want to continue working part time but only 2 days a week. My next blog entry will focus on my thoughts on housing. Do I want to stay where I am? Downsize? There is so much to consider but I am excited to really focus on a plan to achieve my goals.
As I was organizing my grocery shopping list and coupons for today's shopping I noticed I had a $5 Extra Bucks coupon from CVS that was about to expire so I bought:
2 bottles of Herbal Essences shampoo at 2 for $6. I had 2, $1 off one coupons. I also had a coupon for a free herbal essences body wash when you purchase 2 shampoos or conditioners. I added in a .99 box of Puffs tissues. So for all these products that I regularly use I only paid .42 cents in sales tax. I love free stuff!
I can't believe it's been over a year since my last post! I have been keeping up with reading all of your interesting blogs.
It has been a really good year for me financially. I just received a 3% annual pay increase bringing my annual gross salary to $74,861. I also continue to teach on-line part time at $775 per credit hour. I usually teach 2 class a year (6 credits) so another $4650 for a total of $79,511 gross annually.
I did receive word that the college was going to increase that $775 rate for the fall semester, but I don't know by how much. I also still do swagbucks and earn an extra $100 a month in gift cards. I usually get one $50 CVS and one $50 Walmart and use these for groceries and personal care products. I have also really been getting into couponing and have a really organized coupon binder to help me maximize my savings. It's like a game to me.
I remain debt free other then my mortgage which I have been aggressively paying down. My current mortgage balance is now at $56,444. Since my last post on June 3rd, 2013 I have paid off $31,319!! Sometimes it is hard to remain focused on such a long term goal but when I see this kind of progress it is so worth it!
So my mom told me that she wanted to start giving me $50 a month for household expenses. I don't really need the money, but I think it makes her feel like she is contributing, and helps her to maintain her sense of independence. So, I will accept it and use it towards the monthly gas and electric bill. I think it would hurt her feelings if I declined her offer.
I also cashed out for another $50 CVS gift certificate from SwagBucks.
Not too much else going on financially.
Looking forward to weekend activities and some nice weather after a lot of rain and some fierce thunderstorms the past few days.
Time has flown by, I haven't updated since the end of March!
Mortgage update: I said goodbye to the 90k's! My current balance is $87,763.20. I continue to add an additional $1400 a month to the principle.
Swagbucks: Since I joined on 1/1/13 I have redeemed a total of $305 in CVS gift cards.
Purchases: My only larger type purchase was a new phone. My old one was about 6 years old and was no longer working well. I upgraded to a smartphone (Samsung Galaxy 3) The cost was $100 for the phone, and my monthly bill will increase $30 month for the data plan. Totally doable!
New windows: On hold. My 2 piece bathroom off my bedroom moved to the front of the remodel list when the toilet broke (so old it isn't fixable). The room is really very 1970's and needs upgrading. I joined Angie's list and found a fantastic contractor who I can use for all of my future upcoming projects, including the windows. What a relief! No more shopping around for contractors.
My mom's last surgery went well, but again it was a long recovery. It's been a rough year for her and I am glad that she seems to have turned the corner and is healing.
That's all for now. Life is good!
Last Saturday my best friend and I went out for our annual spring clothing shopping day! This is something we do every year, and something I save for. We spend the day shopping, laughing, catching up on things and having lunch. It's always such a fun day! I spent about $250 on undergarments, some clothes for work and a few accessories. My friend treated for lunch. I spent less than I had saved. The only other clothing I need are some new flipflops, maybe a pair of sandals and a few t-shirts.
I got another $50 CVS gift card from swagbucks. I have nothing that I really need to buy right away ( I have about a 2 month stock on personal items and papergoods) so I will hold onto it. I think my next giftcard will be to Walmart to use for food items.
Easter. I wasn't planning on anything until my cousin called and now I will have a houseful of people! We are planning a late afternoon lunch type of get together, and everyone is bringing a dish, so the cost will be minimal. And, I love having everyone over so it should be a fun day!
It will soon be time to start getting estimates to replace all the windows in my house. I really dislike the process, it's so time consuming to get estimates, check out each contractor, etc. I have the money saved for this project, so it's time to get rolling.
You guys are so smart, and thank you for the advice, it was right on! Regarding my last blog post, I spoke with my director and I did decline to teach the summer course. We spoke at length about finding a second person to teach the class, and agreed that should be a priority.
Some of you pointed out that my students really expect and deserve an instructor who can give 100%, and I certainly would not be able to do that this summer. So I will be recharging my battery and will be good to go for Fall! It is also true that I was having trouble "letting go" of this class a little, and realized that adding a second instructor would really help with continuing to grow this course without me stretching myself so thin.
On the financial front, I remain on course with my goals. I did some shopping last weekend at CVS with my swagbucks $100 gift card. They had some good sales so I stocked up on shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, deodorant, laundry soap, and some vitamins. I only spent about $40, so back I go this weekend for paper goods, which weren't on sale last weekend, but are this weekend. By the end of March I should be able to cash in for another $50 gift card.
Yes, I currently find myself contemplating turning down some income. In addition to my full time job as a career counselor I teach an on-line Student Development course. This class is "my baby". I developed all the curriculum (including a module on Financial Literacy), learned all the technology required to build the class, and attended a rigorous 4 month course that is required by my college for anyone who wants to teach an on-line class. To my delight (and my director's) the class really took off! So, enrollment has steadily increased over the past few years. Currently, I am the only one qualified to teach the class.
My director approached me yesterday asking how I felt about teaching a section this summer. So far, we have run the class only in the full Spring and Fall semesters. Summer sessions are much shorter, and you still have to cram 15 weeks of work into either 5 or 7 weeks.
The pay is $2130 per class before taxes. It usually equates to about an extra $220 per paycheck. Nothing to sneeze at. But, I am exhausted. My mom, who is 86 years old lives with me and over the past 6 months she has had two major surgeries and very difficult recoveries. For any of you who care for aging parents, you know how difficult and demanding this can be.
So, I feel like I really need the summer off from teaching to just rest up and get my mojo back, but, I hate to turn down the money, as well as having to decline the offer. My director is great, and very understanding so there wouldn't be any backlash if I declined, but after working so hard to develop this class I really want it to keep growing!
It's a dilemma....part of me feels like I can just suck it up for 7 weeks, and the other part of me just doesn't have the energy...
My college is closed today due to bad weather so I have been enjoying my day off by being totally lazy! I did complete my taxes and will receive a refund of $1826. Half will go to April's mortgage principle and half to my home improvement fund.
I am on track with paying down my mortgage. Previous balance was $96,352.74, and after March payment and additional $1400 principle payment my current balance is $94,291.82. Edging closer to saying goodbye to the 90's!
I received my Swagbucks $100 CVS giftcard and am itching to go shopping this weekend to stock up on personal care products, vitamins, paper goods etc. I have coupons for almost everything I need and should also earn a bunch of CVS extra bucks too! I feel like I really spend a minimal amount of time on SB, and that extra income really helps.
I just hit the 10,000 points mark and ordered my first $100 CVS gift card! I am starting to run low on my stock of personal care products so this is great timing. I hope to be able to do this every few months.
I have been keeping up pretty well with my 2013 financial goals so far. I am averaging 3-4 NSD's a week. I continue to pay an extra $1400 a month toward my mortgage principle which now stands at $96,352.74. And I am steadily staying below my target of spending $50 a week for groceries. Now that football Sunday parties are over it's been pretty easy.
Some great news on the job front! I work at a community college that has multiple campuses. I have always worked at the campus located the farthest from my home, typically a 45-60 minute drive each way, and I had to buy an ez-pass because I had to commute through a tunnel everyday. I had put in for a transfer to the closest campus to home (10 minutes away) a long time ago, and it was finally approved! My gas usage will easily be cut in half (maybe more),and I won't need the tunnel pass anymore, and I get to sleep in an extra 30 minutes every morning! Sweet!
I joined swagbucks on 12/31/12 and as of today I have 7231 points. I am waiting to get to 10,000 to purchase a $100 e-gift card to either CVS or Walmart. I plan to use this to stock up on all my personal care products. Has anyone else used one of the e-gift cards from swagbucks? I am wondering if there are any glitches with these? Either printing them out or trouble using them in the stores mentioned?
This is my weekly update on the goals I set for myself for 2013. I did great in some, and had an epic fail in others. When I fail, I intend to just OWN it, and not make excuses. Then try and do better the next week!
Financial: From 1/1/13-1/6/13 (short week)
I had 4 NSD's out of 6 (great!)
I spent $69.71 at the grocery store. My goal was to keep it below $50 for the week. However, I hosted an NFL play-offs get together on Sunday and $23.45 of the total spent was food for the party. So, I'm not sure how to think about this one. I am happy that my team won and we all had a great time!
I was consistent every day with taking my vitamins and drinking lots of water (great!)
I did not lose my 1 lb. last week. On the contrary, I gained half a pound. Big fail, and I own this. No excuses. I just ate too much and...
Exercise 4 times a week goal: Fail! I did not work out once last week. Again, no excuses. I just need to to better.
Also, I joined swagbucks on 12/31 and to date I have 1,335 bucks! Once I get to 10,000 I am cashing in for a $100 CVS gift card to use for toiletries and paper goods.
Have a great week!
My 2013 Financial Goals:
1. Pay down my mortgage principal by $25,000.
2. Keep careful track of every penny spent. Track # of NSD's each week.
3. Use coupons and keep my grocery food shopping to a $50 a week budget. This is for food only, not personal care products. I know there will be weeks where I can stay well below the $50 budget.
1. Lose 1 lb. a week
2. Workout 4 times a week
3. Cut back on eating processed foods.
4. Drink more water
5. Take my vitamins every day
I think these are all reasonable goals and I am looking forward to continuing to track my progress here!
Happy New Year Everyone!
I was runnung low on a lot of personal care items and I noticed that CVS was offering $10 extra bucks rewards for spending $30 on select items. I was happy to see some great sales on the product brands that I normally purchase. I checked all my coupons and found that I had a coupon for each item I wanted to buy, and I had a $4 off CVS coupon, so off I went. I purchased:
36 rolls of Charmin (double roll) TP
3 bottles of Herbal Essences shampoo
1 bottle of Pantene shampoo
1 bottle of Pantene conditioner
1 bottle of liquid Tide detergent
2 Secret gel deodorants
1 bottle of Dawn dishwashing liqid
I saved $14.50 using coupons and my total with tax was $31.88. I used a Visa gift card I received for Christmas to pay for it so no money out of my pocket!
And, I still have the $10 extra bucks to use on a future purchase, so I'll realize another $10 of free stuff.
The CVS is in a shopping center right up the street from my house. My grocery store and my bank are also in this same shopping center so I use very little gas to access the CVS and can combine my grocery shopping
in one trip! I am a happy shopper today!
Previous balance was $100,453.77. New balance is $98,406.55!
After a wonderful Christmas with family and friends it's time to sit down and prepare some goals for 2013. One goal will be to have as many NSD's as possible. I really want to carefully watch every penny.
I will have one big expense this year, all new windows for my house. The money is already saved, but I will still hate to spend it!
Every year I host Christmas Eve at my house. My family all come over for food and fun and gift giving. We always have a great time! On this years menu is glazed ham, risotto, crispy sesame green beans, perrogies in an onion butter sauce,biscuits, a veggie platter, assorted cheese platter, dips, and apple pies for dessert. Wine, beer, and some flavored martinis for drinks. It looks like my mom will be able to come home for most of the day from the assisted living facility too.
So the house is decorated, all of my gifts are bought and wrapped, and most of the groceries are bought so I am finally feeling ready for Christmas! I budgeted $500 for everything this year and while I haven't added everything up yet I did stay under that amount.
It's funny I really generally dislike cooking and grocery shopping, but when I am hosting a dinner for family and friends I really get into it and have been told that I am a pretty good cook! I guess just cooking for myself doesn't really inspire me much.
It suddenly got very cold and windy today here on the east coast. I am glad to be home for the night!
I have an old friend who lives in another state, but he often posts on FB about what he is up too. Mostly it involves spending money. He recently purchased a new Cadillac, took a trip to Costa Rico and spent $1000 at Costco on Christmas decorations for his house and food for an upcoming party.
K is a lot of fun, always the life of the party! He has a "you can't take it with you" attitude. What worries me (in addition to his crazy spending) is that he works for a defense contractor and with deep defense spending cuts on the horizon, he may be in danger of being laid-off. He has worked there his whole life and only has a high school diploma, so I really worry that he will have a very difficult time finding employment. He is also over 50, a double whammy.
While I am careful with money, I do spend on activities that I enjoy, and have an active social life, but I budget for these things, so I don't feel like I am missing out on life because I am a saver!
Those Costa Rico vacation photos did make me drool just a little though! My next big vacation will be in 2014....saving for Hawaii!
My 86 year old mom (who lives with me) has been in and out of the hospital the past few months, but really declined about 2 weeks ago and was rushed to the hospital again. She is doing better but will now need to be admitted to a short term assisted living facility for a 4-6 week stay for some post-op care.
The toll it has taken on her is of course my primary concern, but something like this just wreaks havoc with a normal schedule, work, meals, sleep, traveling back and forth to the hospital etc. I just "live better" when I have a set routine and schedule.
My budget for the last 2 weeks is just all messy. I was pulling money out to eat on the run, pick up some things that my mom needed, more gas money than usual etc. My body is feeling it too. Way too much junk food, not enough sleep and no time to exercise or to just chill out.
Now that things are starting to settle down, I can get back on track, but it got me to thinking that unfortunately, my mom will prbably continue to have health challenges and I need to really be more prepared when these emergencies happen so that I don't go into a tailspin.
I have a fully funded emergency fund for money, but seem to lacking on a "life planning emergency fund" for all the other things (not money related) that happen.
On a happier note, it's Friday!
My 12/1/12 Mortgage payment cleared today.
Previous balance: $102,496.77
Payment breakdown: $1396.41 (regular monthly payment)
Additional Principle: $1400
New balance: $100,453.77
Oh so close to breaking that six figure mark!
Over the Thanksgiving break I was having dinner with several friends. Some are nearing retirement age and one commmented (lamented really) about how she wished she had paid down her mortgage early. It got me to thinking about when/how/why this became a priority for me.
Working as a career counselor I met with many people since the 2008 economic downturn who lost their jobs and some eventually their homes. Many of these people had adequate EF's, (at that time the recommendation for an EF was 6 months living expenses I think) but simply could not find employment. It really inspired me to make paying off my mortgage a financial goal. The security of having a paid off home (at least for me)is priceless. I am not a risk taker, so this makes sense for me.
There are many different ways to prepare ourselves financially, some disagree with paying down a mortgage and heavily invest instead. This is not a post about what is "right or wrong" in terms of financial planning. Just my own thoughts about my own personal way of planning for my future!
I joined the site last year but haven't blogged much. I am hoping to write more often to help keep myself motivated!
My main goal remains to pay off my mortgage as quickly as possible. I have no other debt. Over the past year I always pay an additional $1000 to my principal each month. As of today my mortgage balance is $102,493. My projected payoff date (with the additional principal added in) is 08/2017. Not bad considering I just bought the house in 06/2010 with a 15 year mortgage.
I ran some numbers and if I can add an additional $400 dollars a month to principal my payoff date would be 09/2016. I think I can do this if I really tighten up my budget. My biggest area that needs attention is the dreaded grocery shopping and eating out! I really dislike cooking and grocery shopping, but I am determined to do better in these areas.
OK, we all have that one dreaded chore that we really really dislike. Hate is such an extreme word, but for me, it's grocery shopping! Yes, I hate it. I don't really know why, but I do. I used to observe people blissfully going up and down each isle with their coupons and calculators and store ads, and wonder why they seemed so happy? What was the secret that I was missing? When I was married, my husband would do most of the grocery shopping and I would do most of the cooking. It worked for us.
Now, I cannot avoid it. When it was just me, I could do quick stops, just get the essentials (mindless shopping) and get out! But now, my mom lives with me, and I am shopping for two and need to add this chore to my more "mindful" list. Plus, mindless grocery shopping gets expensive.
My mom has turned into my secret weapon so to speak when it comes to this chore. She LOVES coupon clipping, list making, deal hunting and meal planning! So now, I leave the house once a week armed with my list and coupons, and I found a great time to go when the store seems less crowded.
I can't say that I am loving it, but I don't dread it as much anymore and I do enjoy seeing how much money we are saving each week, now that my grocery shopping has become more organized and mindful! Maybe that was the secret...all those shoppers were smiling thinking about all the money they were saving!
Today is payday! I paid my bills and had one thousand dollars to "save". So, rather mindlessly I just transferred that money into my savings account. Great! But it seemed kind of mindless, and easy, and safe. But..as I mentioned before I am not a risk taker at all with my money. So it makes sense that I would just plop it into savings.
My two main financial goals are to pay off my house in 5-6 years and to save for retirement. I want to do both of these things in the safest way possible, so I am trying to figure out the best way to maximize my money without risking it. Because I haven't quite figured it out yet, I am not ready to leap into something.
I am considering: Paying extra each month on my mortgage. I have a really low interest rate (4.25%).So is it best to put extra money on the payment each month, or just continue to save the money and when I have enough saved just pay the mortgage off in one lump sum? or, do some of both? I just like the sense of security I get knowing I have that money in the bank should I need it.
Well, I am rambling...if you read all this thanks for sticking with it and have a great weekend!
So I am fifty years old, divorced, and taking stock! There are so many things that I want to focus on, with the big ones being improving my health and my finances. I am employed full time, own my home (not outright yet) have my 84 year old mom living with me and trying to plan for the future.
I am risk averse when it comes to saving money, so lately I have just been socking money away in my savings account which is currently at just over $34,000. I owe $130,000 on my home and would like to pay it off within the next 5-6 years. I only have about $50,000 saved for retirement. I have no other debt, car is payed for and no credit card debt. I think my money philosophy has been shaping up more as a "pay off all debt" type then the "heavy investor" type. It gives me a great piece of mind to think of having my home fully paid for by the time I am 55 or 56 years old.
On the health front, I have been experiencing a few problems with my back, need to lose weight and get more active.
I believe that physical, mental, and fiscal health are all intertwined, and this seemed like a good place to blog about these connections. I enjoy reading other's blogs, what seem to be random musings are very enjoyable to read!
So that's it for my first entry, just my brief "story" with more to come.
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