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Quick Update

January 21st, 2020 at 10:59 pm

There hasn’t been much going on so I haven’t blogged for while…. but I did decide to bump up my retirement date to May 1st! I had initially targeted June 1st, but since I meet all the eligibility requirements toward the end of April I just didn’t want to stay any longer the absolutely necessary. The burn out is real! I have had some discussions with a few friends across the college in different departments than mine and I am excited about some potential part time opportunities down the road.

My finances are pretty much on auto pilot, I continue to save and keep my expenses low, although I think January is seeming a bit more spendy then I initially thought, nothing crazy though.

A new Lidl grocery store just opened a few weeks ago just a mile or so away. It is very close to the Aldi. I haven’t been yet because I want to wait until it gets a bit less crowded from the grand opening shoppers. I’ll be interested to compare products and prices. I’ve been increasingly buying more organic and gluten free foods so I’m looking for ways to save since they seem more expensive.

My sister has expressed the possibility of coming for a visit soon after I retire. I miss her very much and this would be so much fun to spend some time together without having to cram everything in in a short visit due to work.

The weather on the east coast continues to be wonky. One week it’s close to 70 degrees and the next week it’s below freezing. We haven’t had any real snow to speak of, and I’m hoping it stays that way!
That’s about it, not much exciting happening, just typical life! Hope everyone has a good week.

December Spending /Saving

December 31st, 2019 at 10:50 pm

Total Spending: $1572.31
Total Savings: $6500.00 (See note below!)
Additional Income: Swagbucks earnings: $100.00

Fixed Expenses:
Verizon bundle (internet, cable, home phone): 159.94
Cell phone: 61.46
HVAC and water heater contract: 27.95
Condo Fee (includes water) 190.00

Variables:
Utilities: 85.58
Gasoline: 27.95
Groceries: 405.53
Health: 0
Dining Out: 26.89
Shopping: 230.64
Cash Withdraw: 200.00
New Vacuum: 154.75

Groceries: Includes hosting Christmas Eve dinner for 9 people

Shopping: I bought myself some clothes and a few things for the condo
Vacuum: My very old one finally died, it couldn’t be repaired.

Cash Withdraw: I gifted my niece and nephew $100 each for Christmas

Savings: My sister gifted me $5000.00 for Christmas! This was totally unexpected and so generous. My sister and her husband are quite wealthy, but we’ve never gifted like this before.

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

Time Off

December 14th, 2019 at 12:45 am

I'm using some vacation time from work, off today and all next week, then the college closes for the winter break so I don't return to work until 1/2/2020! Today was rainy and chilly outside so I spent most of the day putting up my Christmas decorations. I love decorating my small 4 foot tree with ornaments that go all the way back to my childhood. It brings back happy memories! I took a lovely nap this afternoon and thoroughly enjoyed my leisurely day.

Since my retirement date is June 1st, 2020 it's really getting close. I am so ready to be done with the daily grind. Like a lot of people, I've been working since I graduated high school, and for many years worked full time and attended college. I feel like I've been going full steam ahead my whole life and I'm tired! I'm excited to move into this new phase of my life.

I'm looking forward to hosting my usual Christmas Eve dinner for my family. This year I'm doing a traditional ham dinner with sweet potatoes, green beans, mashed potatoes and dinner rolls. Everyone will be bringing some kind of desserts and some wine. We always have such a good time, even without all the gift giving, which we decided not to do anymore. It's amazing how stress free the holiday season is now without trying to figure out what to buy for people who don't really need or want anything!

November Spending/Savings

December 8th, 2019 at 01:12 pm

Total Spending: $1192.45
Total Savings: $1600.00
Additional Income: Swagbucks earnings: $50.00
Ferrara Candy Settlement $16.20, Cash Back Rewards $68.12

Fixed Expenses:
Verizon bundle (internet, cable, home phone): 159.94
Cell phone: 61.46
HVAC and water heater contract: 27.95
Condo Fee (includes water) 190.00

Variables:
Utilities: 59.91
Gasoline: 30.59
Groceries: 273.94
Health: 99.63
Dining Out: 56.87
Shopping: 67.16
Cash Withdraw: 40.00
Hair:125.00

Groceries includes food for entertaining, having friends and family over for football watching on Sundays and a potluck gathering

Health was higher due to $45 in co-pays for the health issue, doctor's visits. The rest was script refills.

Hair was cut, color, style and tip

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

Health Scare

November 25th, 2019 at 11:40 pm

Back in early November I went in for my yearly mammogram. It came back with a "suspicious" spot. I then went in for a second mammogram which further confirmed something suspicious. I then went in for a needle biopsy. Not terribly painful but still pretty uncomfortable and left me pretty bruised. After a long week of waiting I found out today that it was benign, no cancer! They do still want me to see a breast surgeon for a consultation but I finally feel like I can breathe again. I am especially thankful this Thanksgiving! I also realize how fortunate I am to have a great healthcare plan though my employer. Everything is covered, and I only had to pay 3, $15 copays. I did call my insurer every step of the way before each visit to be sure I was staying in-network and I have to say they were incredibly helpful. My primary care doctor is awesome as well as the office staff and I am so thankful to have such a great network of caregivers. Ladies, never put off those yearly mammograms. There is no cancer in my family. I am low risk, I don't smoke or drink much and am overall pretty healthy. You just never know.

October Spending/Savings

November 2nd, 2019 at 04:43 pm

Spending: $999.08
Total Savings: $2800.00
Additional Income: Swagbucks earnings: $200.00

Fixed Expenses:
Verizon bundle (internet, cable, home phone): 159.94
Cell phone: 61.45
HVAC and water heater contract: 27.95
Condo Fee (includes water) 190.00

Variables:
Utilities: 93.04
Gasoline: 27.29
Groceries: 229.78
Health: 80.35
Dining Out: 65.69
Other: 63.59

Savings was high due to a last account of my mom's that closed out for $1700.00

Health category included restocking vitamins, a co-pay and a script refill

Dining out was a little higher then usual, just enjoying life and socializing!

Other category: Had to buy a new smoke alarm/carbon monoxide detector.

*condo paid in full
*car paid in full (2017 Toyota Camry)
*no other debt

Shopping in my closet

October 19th, 2019 at 02:08 pm

I took a day off work yesterday and spent some time switching out my summer and fall/winter clothes. I have a pretty nice size walk-in master closet so everything is in there, I just needed to bring the fall/winter clothes to the front.

Several months ago I adopted a healthier lifestyle. I needed to lose some weight and wanted to just improve my overall health. I didn't follow any kind of a strict diet. I concentrated on cutting out processed foods mostly. I also committed to walking 5 days a week. To date, I have lost 17 pounds! There were a few weeks when I didn't lose any weight, but I didn't gain any. I pretty consistently lost 1-2 pounds a week. I didn't restrict myself completely, but instead of eating 3 slices of pizza I would start with a salad and have one slice of pizza every now and then. As I was trying on clothes that I couldn't fit into last fall/winter, I was delighted that they now fit. I was so happy to not have to buy any new clothes.

Today I will be out running the usual errands and I am having dinner out with some friends at a new restaurant that opened a few weeks ago. Should be fun!

I did switch over from the AC to the heat and changed the furnace filter. I made sure the heat cranked on properly and everything is working fine. Cold weather is coming. I usually just set thermostat at 65. I'm comfortable with that and a sweater on. And I sleep better when it's cooler.

It's supposed to rain tomorrow so I'll be staying in and doing some meal prep for the week while football is on.

Have a great weekend!

So Far Behind

October 11th, 2019 at 10:49 pm

Do you ever walk into your house and look around and think, "how in the heck did this mess happen"? I came home from work today and thought, who broke in and messed up my house??? But seriously, I am usually pretty on top of things, I like things to be in order and too much mess makes me anxious! But the last few weeks have been so incredibly busy at work, and I have had people over every Sunday for football, and I have just been too tired this week to keep up. My dining room table is covered with junk mail, and my couponing stuff, and receipts that need to be scanned and other random stuff. There are dishes in the sink and clean dishes to be put away. There are still clean clothes from last weekend that are still in the laundry basket to be put away....and the list goes on. So I was determined to tackle some of this tonight instead of waking up to all this mess tomorrow. After about an hour of full speed ahead I am happy to say that I made great progress and now I feel better about plopping on the couch! I'm sure I'll be asleep early tonight. I still have a list of things to do tomorrow but at least I made a dent tonight. I'll probably work some more on getting my coupons organized and write up my grocery shopping list for tomorrow so I can get up and go and get that done early before the store gets crowded.

September Spending and Saving

October 5th, 2019 at 12:35 pm

Total Spending $1277.18
Total Savings: $2000
Other income: $100 swagbucks

Here is a breakdown of September spending.

Fixed Expenses:
Verizon Bundle: 159.53 (Internet, home phone, cable)
Monthly Condo Fee: 190.00 (includes water)
Cell Phone: 0
HVAC and water heater maintenance contract: 27.95

Variables:
Utilities: 94.73
Gasoline: 32.65
Groceries: 334.57
Health: 39.30
Dining Out: 28.61
Other: 269.84
Cash Withdraw: $100.00

Groceries were high this month due to having people over every Sunday for football watching. I serve food and drinks for 4-5 people every Sunday and while this is entertainment, I also eat leftovers during the week so I don't try and separate it out.

The "other" category includes a yearly McAfee subscription, hair cut, color and tip, and some other shopping.

I was far enough ahead that my cell phone bill wasn't due until October so no payment in September. This happens sometimes.

I gave my nephew who had the stroke $100. He is struggling and has no income right now. He is waiting for a ruling on his SSDI claim.

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

Finally good news!

March 2nd, 2019 at 08:21 pm

My mom was finally released from the short term care facility yesterday! She is so happy to be home in her own bed and not eating hospital food. My brother in law started chemo and thankfully he is tolerating the treatment well so far with minimal side effects. My sister can now relax a little without having to run around all day. I've been staying on track financially, still keeping my monthly spending around $1100 per month give or take. Things at work have been pretty peaceful the last couple of weeks as well because my boss has been away at a convention, then she took a week off. Heaven! Tonight I am going out to dinner with my friends to a place we haven't been to try out something new, and enjoy a fun evening. More bad weather heading to the east coast tomorrow so I will be staying in and taking care of some chores. I hope everyone has a good weekend!

Family still struggling

February 10th, 2019 at 12:02 am

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 12:41 pm

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 09:44 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 02:41 pm

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!!