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Family still struggling

February 9th, 2019 at 04:02 pm

I haven't updated in a while, life has continued to throw punches. My mom was in the hospital for 2 weeks and is now in short term rehab working on getting her strength back so she can return home. And my sister's husband was just diagnosed with cancer. Just a quick recap...my mom is 92 and lives with my sister and her husband half way across the country from me. I offered to try and take a leave from work and go there to help my sister, but she said to wait until her husband starts chemo, and mom is back at home. She said she may need the help then depending on how her husband tolerates treatment. Unfortunately, his particular type of cancer is incurable, and the goal is to get him into remission. The average 5 year survival rate is about 50%. But, we are choosing to focus on him beating the odds!

My nephew who had the stroke is struggling. He seems to have hit a plateau in his rehab progress, and may be facing a permanent disability. My brother is exhausted being the caregiver to both his son and his wife, who also has health challenges.

So things like taxes, and problems with my boss at work, and other of life's little problems seem pretty insignificant to me right now. But life goes on and I had a long list of errands to run today to get some things done that I had been neglecting. I try to just take life one day at time now, because thinking too far ahead just causes me worry.

Tomorrow I'm hoping to just enjoy a quiet day at home!
Another round of bad weather is headed our way, with a mix of snow and ice moving in Sunday night into Monday morning.

I wish I had something more positive to share, but life is a bit difficult right now.




Top Saving Money Tips

January 21st, 2019 at 04:41 am

Here are just a few, trying to think of some that haven't already been listed:

1. Turn your heat down in the winter and put on a sweater! And try to use a fan in the summer and keep your AC usage down.

2. Line dry clothing if possible. The dryer is an energy suck. I live in a condo and still find ways to hang clothing to dry.

3. Pack your lunch for work. And buy decent containers so you aren't buying and using plastic baggies or wraps. Use a thermos to take soups and/or coffee.

4. Take care of your health. Eat good foods and exercise. It could save you on medical costs and prescriptions.

5. Have some fun money put aside if you can and reasonably treat yourself once in a while. If you are too restrictive it can lead to binge spending.

Just a few simple ones!

Sunday Update

January 13th, 2019 at 01:44 pm

We had a moderate snowfall last night and today. About 6 inches so far, but it looks like a second round is coming with the potential for a few more inches. One of the reasons I decided on a condo was having a maintenance free lifestyle. It was so nice today to watch the parking lot get plowed, the sidewalks and steps cleared and salt put down. All I had to do was go out and clear off my car. I pay for snow removal through my monthly condo fee, and it is well worth it! I did many years of hard labor shoveling snow, and as I age I knew I just couldn't manage it any more.

I made a pot of vegetable noodle soup today and will have this for lunches and/or dinners this week. I really don't mind eating the same things several times a week.

Financially, I will be seeing another $165.00 per month in my paycheck. We received a 3% COLA effective January 1st, and I selected a less expensive health plan through work. Still the same provider, just an in-network plan instead of the open access one. I'll just have to be very vigilant about specialists and so forth. The cost of the open access plan was going up substantially, so I switched.

I am going to continue to keep myself on a rather tight monthly budget. Work continues to stress me out, especially my boss, no matter what I do. So even though things will be very tight for me, it's still my plan to retire from the college at age 59.5, when I am eligible for the health care subsidy. So with that in mind I am still saving every last dime I can. At some point, your physical and mental health becomes more important then trying to "stick it out" because you don't have a million dollars for retirement.

Well, I am babbling...thanks for listening and have a good week!

2018 Financial Wins/Fails

December 31st, 2018 at 06:41 am

This is just a really quick overview:

Wins:
Fully funded Roth and 403B

Saved $27,200 in cash (I use this to pay yearly property taxes, car insurance, Condo Insurance and just keep a very large emergency fund)

Earned $1475 through Swagbucks

Fail? Not sure I would really categorize this as a fail, but I tried an experiment for 2018 to see if I could keep my monthly spending below $1000 per month. As a note, my condo and car are both paid in full. I successfully stayed below the goal for 5 months. I went over the goal by less then 50 dollars for 4 months, and 3 months I was way over. When I looked at the months I went over, it was due to helping family, an unexpected tax payment (my fault) or I just did some shopping for things I needed.

My biggest fail was my grocery spending. I haven't tallied it up yet for the year but I know it's way too much for one person. So this will be my focus, and financial goal for 2019. I do have people over for dinners and potlucks, and football Sunday's quite frequently, and since I usually have leftovers that I eat during the week, I don't separate out my food entertainment costs, vs. my own food consumption costs. I intend to keep combining it, but look for ways to reduce overall food spending. I'm going to shoot for $200 a month and see how it goes.


Happy New Year Everyone!!

I found it!

December 19th, 2018 at 04:34 pm

I found my holiday spirit! After a not so great Thanksgiving, my holiday happy finally kicked in. When I started decorating, playing Christmas music, and enjoying many of my mom's tree ornaments that she left with me when she moved across the country, my mood improved. I miss having mom and my sister here for Christmas, but we call and send lots of texts and pictures. I took this week off from work, and the college closes next week until after the new year, so I have a very long break. What a difference it makes! I'm caught up on sleep, have all my shopping done, and just feel so much more relaxed in general. I'm now finalizing my menu for Christmas Eve, when the whole family and a few friends come over. It's a family tradition, and then we all do our own thing on Christmas day. I neglected to post my November spending update, but total spending was right around $1200 for the month. Not bad for this time of year. I hope everyone has an enjoyable holiday!

Trying to get in the Holiday Mood

November 24th, 2018 at 03:34 pm

2018 has been a very challenging year. Thanksgiving this year reflected that I'm afraid. My brother and SIL always host Thanksgiving and we all usually have a wonderful time. This year I think everyone was just tired and stressed. We had a very nice meal, but it just seemed that people were a little edgy and snappy with each other. My nephew is still recovering from the stroke and he was tired and got a little frustrated with having trouble navigating the passing of food etc. When dinner was over we usually watch football well into the evening but this year people left earlier then usual. Then there was a misunderstanding that blew up on social media and resulted in hurt feelings. Sigh...I really hate it when people air family tussles on facebook.

We decided this year not to buy gifts for Christmas. There really is nothing I need or want and there aren't any young children in our family. I will still be hosting our usual Christmas Eve dinner and get together but without all the pressure of everyone trying to figure out what to buy each other! I think everyone was thinking the same way but no one wanted to be the first to say it. But when I suggested it to my brother he immediately agreed and then it just spread from there. I think everyone was relieved. We will focus on each other and being together over good food and company. Isn't that what it's supposed to about anyway?

I'm trying to find my holiday spirit and think about getting the condo decorated and my menu for Christmas Eve but it's just not there yet. Hopefully it will kick in soon. I usually love the holidays.

It is pouring down rain right now...I'm thankful it isn't snow!


Really Late October Spending and Savings

November 10th, 2018 at 02:06 pm

Total Spending $1018.14

Total Savings: $3300 (not retirement, this is cash to savings account)

Here is a breakdown of October spending. My goal was to stay under $1000 for the month. Just a tad over this month.

Fixed Expenses
Verizon Bundle: 154.36 (Internet, home phone, cable)
Monthly Condo Fee: 185.00
Cell Phone: 59.37
HVAC and water heater maintenance contract: 27.95
Pocket money: 20

Variables:
Utilities: 85.16
Gasoline: 34.91
Groceries: 180.03
Health: 142.52 (scripts and co-pays)
Dining Out: 101.32
Other: 27.52 (shopping)

Health included my cost of a medical test so this category was higher this month.

Dining out was high this month. I had several dinners out with friends! (and a few drinks).

* Condo is paid in full
* Car is paid in full (2017 Camry)
* No other debt

Quick Update

October 21st, 2018 at 04:52 pm

Finally some good news. My nephew who had the stroke was released over the weekend, and he is home. He is able to walk with a cane, but has not regained the use of his right arm and hand. He will continue with in home physical therapy. We are all just thankful he is home and continues to make progress. I feel like I can breathe again.

Time to get back on track with watching my budget. I took a quick look at October spending and I think I'm doing well this month so far. It finally got cold in my area and the heat kicked on one time overnight but I'm still pretty much in that sweet spot where I don't need much heat yet. Time for me to get some things ready for the work week. I hope everyone has a good week!




September Spending and Savings

October 7th, 2018 at 04:23 am

Total Spending $1046.43

Total Savings: $2000 (not retirement, this is cash to savings account)

Here is a breakdown of September spending. My goal was to stay under $1000 for the month.

Fixed Expenses
Verizon Bundle: 153.52 (Internet, home phone, cable)
Monthly Condo Fee: 185.00
Cell Phone: 59.29
HVAC and water heater maintenance contract: 27.95
Pocket money: 40

Variables:
Utilities: 98.56
Gasoline: 35.60
Groceries: 240.21
Health: 60.56 (scripts and co-pays)
Dining Out: 41.77
Other: 103.97 (This includes McAfee yearly renewal and some gifts for my nephew in the hospital)

This was a pretty good month for spending. I was just over my goal. With everything going on this month I thought my spending would be higher.

* Condo is paid in full
* Car is paid in full (2017 Camry)
* No other debt

Catching Up

October 3rd, 2018 at 11:32 am

The last few weeks have been so busy. My nephew who had the stroke is now in inpatient rehab and is working hard on regaining the use of his right side. He is working so hard, and has a great attitude, but it's very hard. I go to see him as often as I can to provide him with support and help him with his exercises. They really encourage family members to be involved. In addition, his mother (my sister in law) is having health issues so my poor brother is just stretched way too thin. I've been helping him with some basics around the house, just trying to keep things somewhat manageable for him. Work continues to stress me out and I'm pretty wiped out. I took a sick day today to get some of my own chores done, like laundry, and grocery shopping and cleaning. Then a much needed nap! I still need to update my September spending which I'm sure is way out of whack with all the eating out and just not having the energy to pay much attention to the budget.

I have been reading the blogs when I can, and I'm wishing everyone who is struggling with their own challenges some strength to get through. Life can be really difficult at times!

Exhausted

September 14th, 2018 at 06:40 am

There have been a string of serious health issues in my family the last few weeks. My mom, who is now 92 and lives with my sister half way across the country was in the hospital for 2 weeks. She's back home now, but it was dicey for a while there. There was a lot of uncertainty about if I should travel there, and it was a lot of "wait and see" but just when I was planning to go she turned the corner and rebounded. Then my sister-in-law had a hospital stay, she's also OK now thank goodness. But I think the worst was my nephew, who is only 38 years old, had a minor stoke. He's still in the hospital, but doing well. Hopefully there won't be any lasting damage. Sitting in hospitals is just so draining, and the constant worry about my family has just been exhausting. I took a sick day off from work today so I could get caught up on some things, then head back to the hospital to visit my nephew.

I haven't been paying much attention to my spending the last few weeks, but more stopping for food and gas money I'm sure.


In a previous post I talked about possibly relocating to the Northern Myrtle Beach, SC area when I retire in a few years. I'm watching the possible effects of Florence on that area and it's really frightening. I'm just not sure I could handle that threat, having to evacuate, possibly losing my home etc. I'm well north of there now, so those plans may be changing. Just not sure yet.


That's about it for me. I'll try and drop in more often again when things settle down. Hope everyone has a good weekend!

August Spending

September 1st, 2018 at 05:23 am

Total Spending $1048.35

Here is a breakdown of August spending. My goal was to stay under $1000 for the month.

Fixed Expenses
Verizon Bundle: 153.91 (Internet, home phone, cable)
Monthly Condo Fee: 185.00
Cell Phone: 59.29
HVAC and water heater maintenance contract: 27.95
Pocket money: 20

Variables:
Utilities: 97.36
Gasoline: 37.30
Groceries: 251.35
Health: 77.19 (scripts and co-pays)
Dining Out: 75.41
Other: 63.59

I attended 2 birthday parties this month and had some friends over for dinner, so my grocery spending is high. I took food to both of the parties.

My health category includes 90 day refills on 3 scripts.

The "Other" category includes shipping cost to send a package to my mom and a gift card for one of the birthdays.

This was a pretty good month for spending. I was just over my goal.

* Condo is paid in full
* Car is paid in full (2017 Camry)
* No other debt

A Fun Frugal Weekend

August 6th, 2018 at 03:16 am

I was having a conversation with my niece about finances over the weekend. She and her boyfriend are trying to save more, so I gave her a few tips that work for me. One was to find frugal ways to have fun. On Friday night after work, I joined a few friends at a local park where a free music festival was being held. There were also vendors selling various crafts and art items, and food and drinks. It was a nice evening weather wise and we had so much fun strolling around and listening to the music. I spent $10 on a pulled pork sandwich and a lemonade. On Saturday I spent the day with my best friend. She works at a grocery store and has rare weekends off, so we took advantage of a free Saturday for her by going to various antique stores and thrift stores in her area. I didn't buy anything because I didn't need anything, but we loved browsing. We spent the day catching up on life, and belly laughing more times then I can count. She lives in a more rural area and we stopped for lunch at an out of the way place we hadn't tried before. I got the best BLT with garden fresh tomato, crispy thick cut bacon, on home baked fresh bread. It came with cole slaw and a pickle and was delicious! With a drink and tip I spent $11.47. We also stopped at a few farm stands and purchased some corn on the cob, tomatoes and peaches. My Friend paid for mine as she owed me some money I had lent her a while back. I spent a few hours on Sunday at my brother's and had lunch there, and the conversation with my niece. I had a fantastic weekend, and only spent $21.47. Overall a very fun and frugal weekend! I am off work this week, using up some vacation time and I intend to try and and keep the frugal fun going all week!