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Shopping and Easter

March 26th, 2013 at 07:51 am

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.

Decision Made

March 14th, 2013 at 07:32 am

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.

Turning down income (long)

March 7th, 2013 at 08:15 am

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...

Snow day! And tax refund/mortgage update

March 6th, 2013 at 10:16 am

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.


February 26th, 2013 at 06:20 pm

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.

Overdue Update (long) and swagbucks question

February 11th, 2013 at 10:09 am

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?

Owning it in 2013!

January 7th, 2013 at 10:20 am

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!

Health Goals:

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!

2013 Goals

December 31st, 2012 at 12:46 pm

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.

Health Goals:
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!

CVS shopping

December 30th, 2012 at 04:26 pm

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!

Broke the six figure mark on the mortgage

December 27th, 2012 at 01:57 pm

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!

Finally Feeling Ready

December 21st, 2012 at 01:16 pm

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!

BIG Spenders, we all know one!

December 19th, 2012 at 11:32 am

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!

Rough Couple of Weeks

December 14th, 2012 at 10:41 am

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!

So Close!!!

November 27th, 2012 at 05:25 am

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!

Discussions about Mortgage Payoff

November 26th, 2012 at 11:06 am

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!


November 12th, 2012 at 11:01 am

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.

The Dreaded Chore!

January 11th, 2011 at 06:10 am

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!

Moving from "mindless" to "mindful"

January 7th, 2011 at 07:31 am

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.

Decisions, Decisions!

Well, I am rambling...if you read all this thanks for sticking with it and have a great weekend!

Taking a Hard Look at My Life

January 6th, 2011 at 12:03 pm


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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