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Hello 2017

January 17th, 2017 at 03:51 pm

Long time no post. Still dealing with the usual fatigue and family/medical issues, but managing as well as I can. I'm more of a browser with Saving Advice than a blogger, but I like to do updates, especially around the beginning of each year.

I updated my sidebar for 2016 to compare with the numbers below from 2015. Some progress, but a lot of major purchases (roof replaced, used car purchase, medical and dental bills). Always more to do. I've been on automatic pilot and have not been able to accomplish many of the goals I set for myself, but it's a new year and I'll begin again.

Copied from sidebar -- As of Dec 2015 --
Mortgage: paid off
HVAC loan: paid off
No credit card debt
Retirement: $39,797 IRA (trad'l)
Retirement: $222,100, 401K
Retirement: $8,723, Roth IRA
Wealth acct: $18,523
Freedom acct: $4,046
Christmas acct: $40
House repair/major medical acct: $1,105
Grandkids acct: $140
Savings bonds: $5,700

Plan to make monthly deposits into house repair acct to prepare for property taxes. I've managed to use the freedom account for part of it these past 2 years, but the bill (or the 'large-ness!' of the bill) seems to catch me off guard even though I know it's coming.

Anyhoo... Happy Saving everyone!

Long Time No Post

October 15th, 2016 at 04:25 pm

It's been a while!!

Updates: Spouse is doing a bit better--both with his memory and his physical strength. However, there are still issues and several repeated conversations and disorientation (and he insists on DRIVING!). He will undergo a test for early Alzheimer's in a month or so. Parents visited to assist with house-care. Great help!

Son is still dealing with anxiety, but is working part time (so far so good). Days are up and down, quite unpredictable.

I, myself, was ill for about 2 months (June to Aug). Double vision, headaches, neck pain, vertigo, dizziness, nausea. Doctor's didn't not find a cause, in spite of many tests, so I assume it was stress. Doing better now, but I was in COPING mode for quite a while. Cutting back on what I could, in order to get better.

Job is still stressful, but doing my best to manage. I've told myself that I've been dealing with job burnout for a long time, but have decided that I have to think differently in order to push through. Yes, I'm exhausted, and yes, I overwork and yes, I tend to stay in jobs (and relationships!) longer than I should, but there is still much to be grateful for. So for now, I'll do a better job of taking EXCELLENT care of myself. I'm sleeping more (with assistance from SleepyTime tea at night). I even went to a concert the other night with the girls from work! (Smokey Robinson! What fun!)

Money management has been on auto-pilot. Doing ok, but could be doing better. Lots of 'outgo' coming up -- car for my son (we're supposed to go half and half, but not there yet), replacement of our roof based on hail damage. Now that my energy is returning, I'll get more focused on my budget/spending plan and savings.

Still browsing the saving advice posts every so often. Not much time to do so, but I like to sneak a peek and get some motivation every now and then.

Happy saving!

Everything is Going to Be All Right

March 2nd, 2016 at 05:06 pm

A lot going on... This is going to be a long post..

Spouse had his hip surgery, but hasn't recovered well. His hip is progressing as expected considering his disability, but his memory is gone. Perhaps because of the anesthesia, and his 2 prior seizures within the past 5 months. He only knows who I am because of the nurse. He's in rehab and both physical and speech therapists are working with him. He's got our address, his children's names and the names of his brothers and sisters, but it's slow going. He was hiding things from me, his cane, his car keys, prior to his surgery so I wouldn't limit his driving, (he's the primary caregiver for his mentally retarded son, who is 31, which means laundry, paying bills and grocery shopping) but now he, of course, has no idea where he's hidden them. He barely remembers his son, let alone that he's his caregiver. I have no good plan when he gets discharged, but will work it out with God's help.

My son, who is 26 now, had another mental breakdown that required hospitalization. He was discharged the day before my spouse went into surgery. His current diagnosis is schizo-affective disorder. He was doing well without medication for about 6 months (which he requested and the doctor agreed, with caution), but now we have to begin again. He's doing better, but adjusting to the medication is going to take time. The thing about mental illness is the brain of the one who has it often doesn't know they are ill--it's not just denial, their brain just doesn't register it. So that's an additional challenge, but I'm working it out with support (NAMI is great) and all the reading I can do (re-reading I Am Not Sick, I Don't Need Help). He rear-ended a car in a car accident a few weeks ago and the car he was driving was totaled. I think that began his spiral into a mental breakdown.

So not only am I carrying the financial load by myself, I'm now also carrying the mental and physical load of my household. Watching my son for symptoms and helping him manage his recovery, visiting my spouse in the rehab everyday to assist with his therapy and memory. Explaining to his family that he doesn't answer his phone because he's confused and doesn't know anyone. (His surgery was 18 Feb, no idea of expected discharge.)

I'm working at my job half-days for now, still doing the financial record-keeping for the church I attend, the house is a mess, I'm cooking light meals and buying more fast food than usual, doing dishes and laundry.

I'm seeking the remaining needed occupational aids for spouse's return home (portable toilet, cushions for the car and wheelchair, replacing his favorite chair, which is now too low for him to sit).

I'll need to replace the totaled car eventually.

I'll need to deal with hospital bills X 2.

I need to stay healthy.

I'm managing extended family as best I can. I have to manage my job and paid leave, and manage all of our upcoming appointments. I'll also have to deal with a possible lawsuit through the insurance for my son's car accident, finish my taxes (almost done) and, to top it off, get exempted from jury duty (I just got a summons yesterday).

It seems like a lot, but I'm ok. I'm doing what I can to manage. I'm tired. And trying to keep from getting too overwhelmed -- it's minute by minute. It's taking a herculean effort to focus on the positive, but I gotta focus on the positive-- I can't go down with the ship!

In spite of the chaos, i'm still working on my savings plan. I even increased my retirement a little. Only my saving advice friends will understand that. It helps me feel like I have some control or order and it's also fun to focus on. Somehow, everything is going to be all right!

Happy saving everyone!

Hello 2016!

January 18th, 2016 at 10:47 am

Happy MLK day!

I haven't posted in a long time. Unfortunately, it's still due to fatigue and job burnout issues, but I'm hanging in there in the best manner I can.

A lot has happened -- spouse has been a candidate for hip replacement surgery for a few months, but scheduling and health issues keep postponing it.

I had a 'tubcut' done for our bathtub to make it easier for spouse's in and out access to take a shower ($1100)

Also had to purchase a car before I was ready. One of our cars was totaled. Purchased a used one ($8,100).

Paid a retirement deposit for non-deducted time ($2,700)

Paid half of property taxes ($1,927)

Feel like I'm starting fresh in 2016. I love the feeling and the new motivation. I'm tweaking the budget and the automatic savings. Did a better job of keeping track of expenses using my daily notebook (Franklin Covey/Day Timer is expensive, but I bought the calendar and daily pages again for this year. I have the 5X8 size. It's an investment, but worth it for me to stay organized and financially aware. It worked well for me last year, so I'm doing the same this year. One day, maybe, I'll have the time and energy to make my own cheaper version...)

I updated my sidebar and copied last year's end-of-year numbers below for comparison...

As of Dec 2014 --
Mortgage: $39,400 remaining
HVAC loan: $5,998 remaining
No credit card debt
Retirement: $43,502 IRA (trad'l)
Retirement: $205,003, 401K
Retirement: $6,175, Roth IRA
Wealth acct: $23,786
Freedom acct: $3,934
Christmas acct: $27
House repair/major medical acct: $861
Grandkids acct: $140
Savings bonds: $5,700

Except for paying off the debt, things remained pretty much the same.

Net worth is about $440,380

The new year always represents a fresh start, so here we go! Seeking daily opportunities to smile, celebrate, save more, be goofy, and be grateful.

Happy saving to all my saving advice friends!!

Midyear Review 2015

July 1st, 2015 at 05:53 pm

July already! Oh my goodness! Happy belated 4th!

Quick update... I'm still reworking my budget with the changes. In addition to the mortgage payoff, I got a slight raise at work, so I feel really happy and inspired to make the absolute best of these gifts. I keep smiling at random moments...

So here's a rundown of my midyear review for June 2015 compared to my sidebar:

Mortgage: paid!!
HVAC loan remaining: $2,298
No credit card debt
Retirement: $45,517 IRA (trad'l)
Retirement: $215,194, 401K
Retirement: $6,461, Roth IRA
Wealth acct: $25,481
Freedom acct: $4,429
Christmas acct: $202
House repair/major medical acct: $986
Grandkids acct: $140
Savings bonds: $5,700

Net worth: $411,110

Manageable goals for the short term:
1. My intention is to pay off the loan for the new furnace/air conditioner with cash flow. My original plan was to take the money from the wealth account, but now I can have it paid off by October using my regular income and not deplete the savings.

2. Increase my retirement contribution

3. increase savings for the next used car purchase, then save for home maintenance and improvement.

Happy saving everyone!!

Quick May Update - Fantastic News

May 18th, 2015 at 06:15 pm

It's been a while since I've blogged. Two fantastic things have happened.

(1) My parents gifted me enough money to pay off the mortgage. Incredible!! Mortgage is paid!!

(2) My health insurance agreed to continue my son's coverage for another year, based on the letter I finally got from the doctor, which eliminates the extra medical bills I thought I would have.

I am still amazed and awe-struck by how this will change my budget and my savings plan and my life! In fact, it has taken me several weeks to even absorb this. So many IDEAS! to re-work the savings plan. I'll get it down on paper and keep you posted...

Happy saving everyone!

Practicing Extreme Positivity

February 24th, 2015 at 05:13 pm

Thinking positive about the finance plan this year. ALL IS WELL! EVERYTHING WILL BE ALL RIGHT!! I AM PROSPEROUS!!

Normally about this time I start to fizzle and have to fight my discouragement. It seems like we have a lot of bills. Current bills increase, but salary remains about the same. And I have little support from the family--I'm the breadwinner, the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) and the grocery shopper. However, as I get older, I find that everything usually turns out ok. I mean, I'm creative and I'm frugal, I can still find humor in most situations--heck, I AM SUPERWOMAN!!


Items I've checked off my to-do list:

1. Health insurance for my son. Done. $160 per month. He's aging out of my medical coverage, but he's not self-supporting and still requires medication for mental illness. Looking to extend my current coverage for him, but that requires a lot of paperwork that I haven't been able to coordinate with the doctor.

2. Income taxes. Done. Refund expected: $1200. Will split between savings and paying extra on mortgage.

3. First round of de-cluttering. Done. 8 boxes of 'maybe', 12 bags of donation, several bags of trash and recycle. Next round of de-cluttering will take place at a later time.

4. Paid escrow. Done. $535. Monthly mortgage payment still increased by $19, but that's better than the $50 monthly increase the bank projected.

Practicing extreeeeeeme positivity. I am grateful. I am healthy. I AM PROSPEROUS AND ABUNDANT, yes I am!

Happy saving everyone!

Year-End Expenses for 2014

January 4th, 2015 at 05:40 pm

Here's part two of our end-of-year numbers for 2014 so I can gear up for 2015...

Our 2014 expenses below--

Regular monthly expenses: $26,045.31
Cash withdrawn/spent: $8,880.00
Irregular expenses: $13,422.57
Total spent for household: $48,347.88

I spent $4,356.85 on groceries for the year which was from the cash withdrawn/spent number.
- 2014 average for groceries: $363 per month
- 2013 average for groceries: $299 per month

We spent about $1,000 more than net income, which means we used savings for the shortfall.

Just as a note, irregular expenses of $13,422.57 include:
House repair/maintenance: $2,342.61
Car Insurance: $2,913.41
Car Repair/Maintenance: $2,358.88
Doctors/Medical: $1,567.51
Dentist: $3,553.45
Glasses/vision: $686.71

So those were the household expenses for the year. Spent approximately $3,000 more in 2014 than we sent in the year 2013. Boo. The plan was to spend less, but I grew hopeless and discouraged about the medical/dental expense as well as the home maintenance expense.

However, I did ok, we did ok and we made some progress. I'll keep tracking expenses because I find it fun (I'm such a nerd.) I feel more optimistic about 2015...here we go!!

2015 Here We Go

January 4th, 2015 at 04:15 pm

Happy New Year!! 2015 has ARRIVED!

It's been a while since I've blogged... Still trying to manage my fatigue. I told a friend that maybe what I'm going through is not just job burnout, it's 'overwhelmeded-ness'. We had a good laugh about that, but I'm working through it (it feels like a low-grade depression) in order to feel better. The days off work for the holidays have been helpful--I relaxed, deliberately chose NOT to stress (or shop much) and I got a chance to sleep late, which was wonderful!

Below were my 2014 Goals. They need to be revived and/or revised--I only met 2 of them! Not my best work.

(X) Christmas account: $500
(X) Pay extra toward mortgage: $1000+ - Paid $1250 extra
( ) Add to Roth IRA - nothing added
( ) Will/letter of instruction (I don't know why I cannot seem to get this done, but I seem to be overwhelmed by the mere thought of it)
( ) Bath surround repair - got one estimate, but the money wasn't right
( ) Electrician rewiring - not met

New sidebar goals for 2015 listed....

I also updated my sidebar with current balances as of Dec 2014. For comparison purposes, I copied my balances for Dec 2013 below:

Mortgage: $44,523 remaining
No credit card debt (hallelujah!!)
Retirement: $42,403 IRA (trad'l)
Retirement: $171,323, 401K
Retirement: $6,019 Roth IRA
Wealth acct: $25,506
Freedom acct: $4,763
Christmas acct: $95
House repair acct: $1,124
Grandkids acct: $440
Education/Misc: $1,792
Savings bonds: $5,700

In November, we got a new AC/furnace installed to the tune of $5,998 (yes, $6,000) Our heater was discovered to be inoperable when our first cold front hit. We got a payment plan for 12 months. I could have paid cash, but knowing that we have a lot of dental work and that I'm still paying hospital bills, I wanted options. I'll be able to pay it off before the 12 months, I just wanted options. Needless to say this was NOT a projected budget expense. Heavy sigh...

This new year, it seems important for me to stay encouraged, and not get derailed by long-term discouragement (which has happened to me too often).

Anyhoo...thanks saving advice friends. Happy saving everyone!!

Savings Challenge

October 14th, 2014 at 06:40 pm

I have not been consistent with either the $20 challenge or the 52 week challenge. Since I have a lot of automatic savings allotments going on, this is not a huge deal. However, I love being creative with "frugal games" to save even a little more.

This year my plan every 2 weeks was to use any leftover envelope money from my grocery/household cash to purchase gift cards (mostly grocery) or add to my wealth account right before I withdrew the new cash amount each payday. (I withdraw $340 every pay day (every 2 weeks) for groceries, household and other.)

I did part of that--added some of the leftover money to gift cards (mostly grocery cards), but I only recall adding leftover savings to the wealth account one time this year. Holding the leftover money was not wise!

Now that I'm working on paying off the mortgage, by cutting down my retirement contribution and my regular savings contribution, I have a few ideas to add to that:

1. My 'other' credit union has a coin counter in the lobby that doesn't charge a percentage as long as you are a member and you deposit the money into one of your accounts (you can withdraw it at the same time--it just has to go through your account.) My primary bank charges a percentage for large coin deposits, so I stopped saving coins and started spending them. But now I'm back to saving coins!! Namely quarters and dimes in a jar. (The jar is in the back of my closet, so the 'family' won't use it for dollar store runs!) I'll be using that for extra payments toward the mortgage.

2. Continue to use coupons and shop wisely. I've been making my own laundry detergent (thanks to the internet). Looking for other ideas to keep the grocery budget below $100 a week.

3. Save as many of my one-dollar bills as I can. A coworker is saving dollar bills with her initials on them--she's competing with her best friend for 2014. Good idea, but I'm just going to hold onto as many as I can until the end of the year. Use for Christmas shopping or the Christmas savings account for next year. I've made a special decorated envelope for them.

4. If I have larger bills leftover ($5s, $10s, $20s!!!), I WANT to deposit in the wealth account, but that idea hasn't worked well. I will use that for the mortgage as well. The sooner I can pay off the mortgage the better. And with the bill due every month, I think I'll be more consistent.

So we'll see how it goes. Happy saving everyone!!

Reworking the Savings Plan

September 30th, 2014 at 04:49 pm

Financially, I'm still holding on. Still dealing with fatigue and burnout, but managing. My plans this year for 'super funding' the freedom account and the household account didn't work like I'd hoped, but I did my best. Both accounts got a super 'work-out' rather than the super-funding I'd hoped for.

Now that we're near the end of the year, I usually get motivated to rework the savings plans. So we're moving in a different direction -- to pay off the mortgage.

I withdrew $300 from the grandkids account (thanks for the advice, savingadvice friends) and deposited $83 of dimes collected over the years in my dime jar and put that plus a little extra to pay $450 extra toward the mortgage for 1 Oct. If I can pay an extra $500-$800 each month, I may be able to pay off the balance in 2 years or so.

I'll reduce my 401K contribution to free up about $120 every 2 weeks, or $240 each month. Plus I'll use part of my regular savings allotments to pay extra. Sounds good on paper, right??

I'll use our regular household checking account to pay the regular payment, then a different checking account (that I now use for household/major medical) to pay the extra payment. (I love credit unions!) That will help me keep things straight, budget-wise.

My only issue: higher taxes when I reduce the 401K contribution. I'll review the IRS calculator to check my withholding.

We'll see how it all pans out over the next few months. I'm excited. In the meantime, I'm still trying to come up with creative ideas to save even more.

Happy saving everyone!!

Introspective Post - What Should I Do With My Life

August 23rd, 2014 at 08:48 am

I've been reading "What Should I Do With My Life? by Po Bronson. It definitely begs the question. I still don't know the answer, (the way the book also doesn't know, yet humanly explores the question through personal stories). After nearly 30 years of working, I'm closer to an answer to 'what can I devote my life to?', but no clear X marks the spot. I definitely know (based on the jobs I've had) how I DON'T want to spend the rest of my working hours here on earth.

I've done a lot self-analysis in the past (skill tests, interest surveys, aptitude assessments, What Color is My Parachute? etc.) but eventually gave up when I had such a spread of interests and skills that I didn't seem to fit in one category for a career--I'm both creative/intuitive and analytical/administrative, organized and chaotic, I like to work alone and collaborate. This book made me go back over some of my old journals --how I gave up trying to fit somewhere career-wise and just kept working at jobs that I don't love (because I've got bills to pay) and tried to do the creative stuff after work hours and on weekends.

Several years ago I came to the plan to save as much money as possible so I no longer have to work at jobs I don't love. That's been my way of coping (saving, talking about saving, BLOGGING about saving, dreaming of a life of more meaningful work, not so dependent on a wage-earner's paycheck treadmill) But as I've said many times, I'm currently suffering the worst job burnout. I try to do my creative stuff after work as a way of coping AND work my savings plan, but my current work life seems to suck my energy dry. Not to mention the family responsibilities.

The truth is, if I can hold out for another 5 years or so for civil service retirement, there's HOPE. All is not lost!! But in the meantime...how do I take care of myself?? It seems like a constant struggle to take good care of myself while enduring the struggle of job burnout. I try. And I'll keep trying, but it's a constant struggle.

With my savings plan, it looks like I won't have as much money as I'd hoped by retirement eligibility (it's difficult to do this without spouse or family support). But at the moment, 5 more years is about all I can take at this current job. If only I'd started this savings journey at 21!!!!

So back to my one joyous hope - SAVING!! I've determined that I need to step it up in paying off the mortgage for the house, because that will give me more options over the next few years. It's one of my main goals, but my irrational tendency to try to meet all my goals at ONCE (retirement, non-retirement savings,paying off the mortgage, family health care, house care and automobile upkeep) makes for SLOW progress. I was ok with that for a while, but I've got to step it up. Here's the plan now:
1. Lower retirement savings allotment for one year (I'm afraid to do this because of budget creep, afraid I'll have difficulty going back up to the original savings amount)
2. Lower non-retirement savings allotment for 1 year
3. Put that extra money toward the $40,000 mortgage.

Since I still have some work to do on the other accounts, I'll begin in November.

Long blog, but this book had me THINKING, because I'm so tired of it all. I'm working my savings plan, so I can do something different, with more joy and more meaning. Thanks for the continued inspiration, saving advice friends. What would I do without you?? Happy saving!

Midyear Review

July 6th, 2014 at 06:23 pm

Financial breather is just around the corner. Lots of bills and unexpected expenses these past few months, but I'm almost over the brick wall I was hitting my head against. As usual, not a lot of energy to blog -- but I'm here!!

Here are my June 2014 numbers (compared with my sidebar numbers from 2013 end of year).

Mortgage: $42,713 remaining
No credit card debt - 0
Retirement: $46,359 (trad'l IRA)
Retirement: $189,805 (401K)
Retirement: $6,581
Wealth acct: $21,980
Freedom Acct: $5,150
Christmas Acct: $300
House Repair/Large Medical Acct: $1,530
Grandkids acct: $457
Education/Misc: closed (renamed/combined with House Repair/Large Medical Acct)
Savings bonds: $5,700

Net worth (total assets - total liabilities) is $360,389.

Holding steady. Spent around $2,000 for house repair, so I combined/renamed/closed the education account, because that's what I borrowed from. Otherwise, still holding steady.

Budget tweaking is not working!! Wallet and checking account near empty at the end of the past few pay periods, but still holding on to hope.

Happy saving everyone!!

CFO Woes -- The Breadwinner Surrenders (Almost)

May 13th, 2014 at 06:15 pm

Lot of extra expenses -- insert sad face and a whimper.

I missed the whole month of April for blogging... my goal is to blog AT LEAST once a month. Oy!!

But I'm here!!

This is a tough time to be the breadwinner and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at my house. Is there anyone out there that would like to step in and take over for me? Ha ha!!

In April the extra expense was my son's vision exam. No vision insurance. $200 total (with contacts). Also I paid off the credit card bill for the new stove ($550).

The month of May so far, has included 3 graduation cash gifts (niece, nephew, family friend), a $300 dental bill and 2 traffic tickets to pay (10 miles over speed limit. What?!). Happy Mother's Day to me!!

(Question: Does anyone have any decent dental insurance? I need a plan for my young adult child son who is currently unable to keep a job due to his brain disorder. All dental insurance I've researched seems expensive and not to cover much... just asking...)

The Freedom Account/Working account is working, but I can't seem to get it 'super-funded'. My plan was to have a year's worth of car insurance premiums set aside as well as the $800 for my spouse's 'ankle/foot orthotic' shoes/braces by June. Also, I wanted the car repair sub-account and additional medical/dental sub-account to have a decent amount. Can't seem to get ahead with all the 'activity'. It ain't looking good.

I'll have to change my expectations... or run away from home.

I'm also disappointed that I wasn't able to pay extra on the mortgage in April or May (boo hoo!). But I'll get there. I'll take a deep breath and go over the budget again(!)...

Anyhoo, even though I'm almost (almost!) ready to wave the white flag of surrender, I'm hanging in there like the rest of you. It's great to vent and find my humor in blogging, lighten the stress. What a comfort you saving advice friends are!! Happy saving!!

March Madness

March 23rd, 2014 at 03:06 pm

Checking in for March...

I'm functioning fairly well, still trying to manage my fatigue and job burnout. I know I mention this a lot, but I have lupus for those that aren't aware and I've had it for over 20 years. I'm fairly healthy, considering, but, lately the symptom of fatigue seems to overwhelm me.

Son is doing ok after his hospitalization in February. Medication works, but having trouble with him consistently taking his meds (which seems to be a typical problem with people with brain disorders/mental illness). Working on a plan and getting lots of support. He turned 25 this month - hate to be a hovering mother, but trying to save the young man's life. And my own. That's what it boils down to.

No mention from the spouse of d-i-v-o-r-c-e. Guess, discussion is off the table for now. Probably for the best. I have enough going on....

Financially speaking, I'm frazzled. The house and I are not getting along. The stove went kaput -- the burners quit working one by one and the one burner that worked would dangerously sizzle and pop when it was used. Then the oven stopped working. I shopped for a stove in the evenings after work (little energy to shop for appliances--not fun!) and found one in my price range $544 total (on sale) which was delivered last week. Cannot BELIEVE the prices of some of the stoves I saw while I comparison shopped! Some were $3,000! What the heck!! Who would have thought the need to boil eggs and bake frozen pizzas could cost so much?

The toilet in the master bathroom broke/leaked around the same time. Since we had to replace the toilet, we opted to get the bathroom floor done -- replaced linoleum and carpet with ceramic tile (yes, there was carpet in the bathroom -- came with the house. For the record, I DO NOT RECOMMEND carpet in the bathroom). That was just under $1,000 total.
That brought the house repair account down to $400.

In addition to that, dental expenses over the past month were $1,345. (Son's re-treatment of a root canal and crown. Grrrr.) And the car insurance was paid - $1,250.

Needless to say, I feel like I have a hole in my bucket.

Thank goodness for a steady paycheck and the freedom account and the house repair account. But I'd still like to plug that hole!!

All I can do is keep pushing forward and do my best with the money I have. It helps to check in and catch up on blogs... Like all of us, I just have to keep pushing forward.

Anyhoo... Happy saving, everyone!

Life Can Change in a Matter of Days

February 5th, 2014 at 11:44 am

Life can change in a matter of days...

A few days before my mother-in-law passed away last month (January), my spouse talked about moving out/separating.

Then his mother passed away. The conversation about separation/divorce has been tabled for now due to the sensitivity of grief. He's been in a state of grief and depression for days. She had been suffering from Alzheimer's for years and my spouse and 2 of his sisters were the care-givers.

And then... last week my son had a similar schizophrenic episode like the one he had about 4 years ago. Heartbreaking! He was admitted to the hospital from the ER. He was released after 5 days. He's stabilized and on medication but we're watching him closely.

After the first episode 4 years ago, we did not have a lot of medical info or support (the mental health arena is SO confusing!!) and his doctor discontinued his medication after about 8 months because his behavior 'normalized'. During the 4 years of time since that first episode, my son was doing ok, but not really ok -- functioning, but not functioning as well as a mother would hope (i.e, he dropped out of college, was fired from a couple of retail jobs, had several dramatic breakups with his girlfriend).

This time around he was released with a diagnosis of schizo-affective disorder. The prognosis is not great, but we have more info.

Life can change in a matter of days...

I'm ok. I've had a little time to process all of this and will continue to process it. I could crawl up under the covers and sleep all day, but I won't -- I have a great faith, a great family and church family and friends.

All of this brings up a lot of concerns. A divorce--if we do divorce--will not be ugly on my part--we've just run out of steam. I've been through a divorce before and this one--if it happens--will be far more friendly than my previous divorce, if I'm allowed to say that. I won't know anything until we revisit the conversation.

Being practical--the practical person I am--I have financial concerns. The possibility of splitting my retirement if we get divorced changes everything! And financially taking care of my son for the rest of his life... A lot to adjust to, but I'll have to adjust. I'll keep working my plan until I come up with a better one. And pray for a miracle.

Net Loss and the Fabulous-ness of the Freedom Account

January 21st, 2014 at 04:30 pm

Happy new year. I'm budget tweaking. Trying to stay excited about it, but excitement wanes.

I was able to add up all my recorded expenses for 2013 to see what I can do better.

The good news is I kept pretty good track for 2013. The bad news is it wasn't what I was hoping.

Net income for 2013: 43,874.05 (after all deductions including retirement savings)

Regular Household expenses: 24,230.27
Savings from net income: 2,160
Cash withdrawn/spent: 7,130
Irregular Household expenses: 11,874.64 (!)
Total expenses for 2013: 45,394.91

Net loss/profit: -$1,520.86 (boo!)

After I re-figured the numbers about 5 times and consoled myself with a bag of chips and some butter pecan ice cream, I realized I have a lot of additional savings and retirement savings that come out of my gross pay as automatic deductions so overall I'm still to the positive.

I also realized that it was the Freedom Account that absorbed that loss of net pay vs net expenses. So hooray for the Freedom Account!! That's the account I use to cover my irregular (non-monthly) expenses. (from author Mary Hunt, Debt-Proof Living)

The irregular expenses kicked my butt!
House repair: 1,342.33
Car Insurance: 2,331.63
Car repair/maintenance: 3,663.21
Medical/dental: 4,537.47 (oh, WHY didn't I become a dentist???)
But the regular deposits to the Freedom Account, plus the cushion I had in the account from the previous year, saved the day! I know it works, but... it really works!

I spent 3,575 on groceries which was from the cash withdrawn. I felt I did good in that area, but will still tweak it if I can. A few other things to look at as well.

Will work on staying motivated. I'm managing my fatigue and job burnout the best I can. My spouse is still not any help in the finance area, but he cooks dinner everyday. Even trade?????

At least a girl can check in with her saving advice friends to try to stay the course. Happy saving in 2014!

Year End Comparison 2012 to 2013

December 29th, 2013 at 04:08 pm

It's the end of the year. Almost 2014! Woo hoo!! I updated my sidebar for my balances for 2013.

For comparison purposes, my numbers as of Dec 2012 are below:

Mortgage: $49,412 remaining
No credit card debt
Retirement: $37,859 IRA (traditional)
Retirement $136,903, 401K
Retirement: $2,363, Roth IRA
Wealth acct: $31,663
Freedom acct: $3,543
Christmas acct: $69
House repair acct: $1,131
Grandkids acct: $425
Education: $8,350 (savings bonds & savings acct)

Made progress in some areas. Looking to improve. I love this time of year, like a reset button for me to focus again.

2013 Goals met:
(x) Christmas account: $500 (spent $425, put $75 in the account to start for 2014)
(x) Used car purchase: $11,871
(x) Pay extra toward mortgage: paid $1,050
(x) Add to Roth IRA (converted traditional funds)

For Christmas,I made gift baskets for my spouse and son this year (socks, gift cards/money, snacks, gloves, books) and gift 'backpacks' for the 3 grandchildren that live in town (comic books, art and school supplies, notebooks, gloves, snacks, dollar store toys). I was in a 'bah humbug' mood otherwise (due to general fatigue) and didn't spend much else. I never was a great gift-buyer/giver and I'm more practical as I get older. The time is up for me wasting my money on gifts that no one really likes... Turns out that saved me a lot of time this year. Now if I can just get past the 'bah humbug' part...

Anyhoo, looking forward to the new year and new ideas.
My goal is to blog every month (every week would be ideal, but it's become harder with the fatigue).

Unfortunately, my family is still not with me on this saving path, so staying connected with my saving advice friends is key. I continue to be inspired by the blogs and articles!!

Happy New Year and Happy Saving everyone!

Savings Ideas Part 2

November 23rd, 2013 at 04:33 pm

Still feeling motivated! (Yay me!) To continue with my earlier blog this month about the ideas I've had for my savings...

Savings Idea #4: Open an online savings account with a higher interest rate (like Ally or Barclays) then transfer part or half of the wealth account to it.

Idea #5: Re-purpose the education account. (The Kid dropped out of college and missed his grace period to return...so the money is MINE, ALL MINE!!) About $2,400 in cash and the rest is savings bonds. I'll probably keep the savings bonds for retirement use, but I can use the cash to pay extra on the mortgage.

Idea #6: I've been inconsistent with the $20 challenge and the 52 Week challenge. I start off well, cuz I love the idea, but I think I lack focus and a good specific plan with what to do with the money saved. So here's the plan: Focus!! Then add this savings to the Christmas account every 2 weeks AND use part of the savings to purchase gift cards for myself and others.

Idea #7: Last week, I converted $3,000 of my traditional IRA to add to my Roth. I also started contributing 1% of my pay to a Roth 401K, which is in addition to the 15% I'm contributing to my traditional 401K. In 2014, I'll adjust: contribute less to the traditional 401K and more to the Roth 401K.

That's it for now. Still tweaking the budget to see where else we can cut. I'm inspired, as always, by the saving advice blogs still. Go forth and save, everyone!!

Savings Ideas

November 10th, 2013 at 06:17 pm

It's been a long time since I've blogged. Since August, my goodness!!

Now that the end of the year is here, I'm getting a little motivated. I've been on auto-pilot for several months due to general fatigue, but I seem to be getting my savings mojo back.

Idea #1: We finally got back to the $25,000 mark in the wealth account after the car purchase in May. It took longer than I thought to get back to that point, but finally, this month we hit the mark. Now that the account level is back where I want, I'm using that savings allotment ($130 per pay period or $260 per month) to beef up the Freedom Account (the account I use for irreqular non-monthly expenses). I want to fund at least three of the subcategories a year in advance: car insurance, my spouses medical leg braces, and dental. The Freedom Account has been great for managing the finances but it gets a serious workout. Getting a little bit ahead, should help.

Idea #2: Once the Freedom Account is 'super-funded', I will use that same allotment to 'super-fund' the house repair account. The current allotment is $25 per pay period and the account has remained at the same $1,000 level for the past year, because of the workout that account gets. (Old house, lots of $200 to $500 repairs.)

Idea #3: Continue the $200 allotment to the wealth account to save for the next car purchase. Once the Freedom Account and House repair account are 'super-funded', will use that allotment for the car savings.

That's it for now. Still fine-tuning a few other ideas. Happpy saving everyone!!

Non-pay Days

August 24th, 2013 at 06:24 pm

The furlough non-pay days as a civil service employee took a big chunk of pay, but it was wonderful (wonderful!!) to work 4 days a week. That's the kind of schedule I need to deal with the job burnout and exhaustion I'm trying to cope with.

However, instead of 11 non-paid days through Sep, it was cut to 6. So basically we're back to normal. That's good for the paycheck (yay), but I'm a little disappointed -- no more 4-day workweeks. I needed that.

I was prepared to change up all my savings allotments and adjust accordingly, but I made it through the 6 days of non-pay by cutting back. I'm amazed that I was able to do that. Then it hit me: I DID IT -- lived on less and still kept the savings.

A big dental bill hit (root canal - $1200) and I used the freedom account. I caught a few breaks--my spouse was out of town (fewer groceries), I received birthday gifts of cash--but I'll try to keep up the lower budget. I'll PRETEND I'm still on furlough and see what happens for the next few paydays.

Stay inspired everyone!! Happy saving!

Midyear Review 2013

June 30th, 2013 at 05:17 pm

Still dealing with my fatigue and job burnout, but staying positive. Taking short walks about 4 times a week.

Here's what's happening in my savings world:

Midyear review numbers to compare to my sidebar:

As of Jun 2013--
Mortgage: $47,287 remaining
No credit card debt (yay!)
Retirement: $39,843, IRA (traditional)
Retirement: $157,441, 401K
Retirement: $2,711, Roth IRA
Wealth acct: $22,941
Freedom acct: $5,053
Christmas acct: $280
House repair acct: $1,498
Grandkids acct: $438
The Kid: ?? (looks like I have time!)
Education: $8,504
Creative ventures acct: $260 (for writing, arts and crafts supplies)

For my brand new 52 week savings challenge:
June, week 3: $1
June, week 4: $10

After the car purchase in May, I also had to change my tax withholding to have more income tax taken out of my paycheck (boooo!!). But better this way than to have a large tax payment at the end of the tax year. The Kid is no longer in college (boo!) so I can't claim tuition. The mortgage has less interest (both boo! and yay!?) so I can't claim that on my taxes. My, how things change over the years...

Making progress, but I still feel impatient. I want to make HUGE GRAND MAJOR progress. But little by little, I'll get there. I can complain, but who cares really? We all do the best we can.

So thanks, saving advice friends for helping me stay motivated. Happy saving everyone!!

The House and I

June 22nd, 2013 at 04:03 pm

The house and I are not getting along. Of the 3 major expenses I juggle: car care, medical care and house care, I'm currently overwhelmed by the monetary care and repair required for the house.

In trying to get organized, I made an official list of all the items needed or wanted for the house--the list that I've been trying to keep in my head. The list has 70 items. Yes. That's 70 items. (?!) It's a wonder I haven't run out the front door screaming.

The list includes small items like lamps and curtains, repair items like holes in the walls, electrical re-wiring and large items like new windows, new kitchen counters and flooring and one day a new roof. When we bought the house it was nearly 20 years old. That was 15 years ago. Wear and tear is natural but costly.

I'm doing cost estimates now, which are not happy ones. But necessary to help with planning and prioritizing (and procrastination!!)

In the meantime I count my blessings. We have to live somewhere. We've been rocking that lived-in thrift store chic look for years. A few more years won't hurt while I save, save, save...

Happy saving everyone!!

June So Soon

June 22nd, 2013 at 03:36 pm

Midyear already. The year is flying by. Oh my!

I keep thinking I can do more drastic things to save more money, but nothing has come to me yet.

I'm adjusting my $20 challenge to the 52 week savings challenge which might help me focus. I wasn't staying focused--I noticed with MY VERSION of the $20 challenge I would roll the 'savings' over into the next round of spending rather than deposit the money into savings. A smaller focus might help me keep the smaller victories in my savings.

At the end of the month I'll get my numbers together to compare to my Dec 2012 sidebar. Made some progress, but also need to revisit some goals.

I just wanted to post a note and continue to encourage (and by encouraged by) my saving advice friends.

Happy saving everyone!

Catching up - May 2013

May 20th, 2013 at 05:43 pm

Can't believe it's been since February since I've posted. My job burnout is really SERIOUS. I'm squeezing in a few updates so I can hang out with my saving advice friends.

I'm now 50 (birthday was several months ago) and retirement is closer and closer...

I've been really delving DEEP into arts and crafts and writing lately and realize this is what I long to do--my whole goal of retiring now is to support my 'creative artist' within. I only hope to do so with little money worries and maybe a part-time job. That's my dream!!

So here's what's up with me:

Still having a time with fatigue and low energy, but coping in every way I know how.

Still on auto-pilot when it comes to saving. I just increased my retirement contribution by 1% of my pay, just to see...a total of 16% of income going to retirement....

As a civil service employee, we're looking at being furloughed a few days this year. One day a week without pay for about 3 months, unless that changes. I've already reworked my budget on paper to accommodate by lowering the grocery bill (buying less snack foods and meats) and lowering a few savings allotments. Due to my exhaustion, I'm actually looking forward to one day off a week--even without pay.

Last week, we purchased a used 2010 Toyota Corolla to replace the spouse's 2001 Corolla (it had 298,000 miles on it). So I can scratch that off the list. The dealer was right around the corner from us, which meant I did NOT have to go car shopping (hate car shopping). My spouse did the test drive to make sure it accommodated his handicap and he did all the talking. I just got the check. $11,871.39 (to be exact!) which included tax, title, and license. I considered that a good deal and was grateful not to have to go around town looking.

Now I need to build the wealth account back up -- we're at $22,700 approx after the withdrawal for the car (my base amount is $25,000) and I hope to purchase a used car for me in about 3 years and still have $25,000 remaining in that account. (Takes 3 years to save it and 2 days to spend it.)

I'm still working the finances all alone, without much support or interest from the spouse, but I'm making progress. I felt like a 'sugar mama' after the car purchase, but trying not to hold that against him. Who knew? I'm just glad I have you saving advice friends to inspire me and keep me going!

Happy saving everyone!

Budget Business

February 16th, 2013 at 08:09 pm

I'm still hanging in there with the budget. Modified my Excel spreadsheet to work better for me and it's working. (It ultimately took about 3 or 4 years to get it right for my lifestyle.) It's pretty simple now and I can track my checkbook and freedom account a lot easier, which was my hope for 2013. KEEP IT SIMPLE. I had a really complicated system before and I just couldn't keep it up.

Anyway, the budget of Me, Inc., has us on track to begin looking for a car to purchase in March or April. That money will come from the wealth account. Still have little to no help/input from the family, but I'm pressing my way.

The house requires some repairs (ugh!). We need at least $2500 for the shower surround wall repair in our main bathroom. We're getting there, but let's not talk about the kitchen stove, the garage doors, and the water heater. Such is the life of home ownership. I just hope the duct tape holds until I'm more comfortable with the numbers.

Still searching for money beneath the mattress or in the couch cushions. I have 2 goals that I feel discouraged about. I want to contribute to my Roth IRA (fully) and I want to pay off my house in about 6 years, which is about when I'm eligible to retire from my job (and start a new part-time career/freelance/on-line venture, something).

I've been procrastinating because the money doesn't match my ambitions. I'm leaning toward paying $100 extra per month toward the mortgage. And maybe $2000 extra each year. (Haven't been able to find that amount in the couch cushions!) And for the Roth IRA, I might cut down my savings allotment to the wealth account AFTER we purchase the car (I'm trying to say focused with the car purchase) and use that to contribute to the Roth, maybe $200 a month. I can also convert more of my traditional IRA.

I'm working it out, just slow going. Procrastination. Fatigue. I'm inspired to keep at it by reading all the blogs.

Happy Saving everyone!

Happy New Year!

January 1st, 2013 at 04:15 pm

Happy New Year!!

I fell off the wagon in 2012, namely in keeping up with my blog. What the heck!

Been busy and tired and family has had health issues, but will strive for more consistency. I've let the budget slide all over the place toward the end of 2012 and felt unorganized and frazzled for months. I took the day (Happy New Year to me!) to get my finances organized with an updated tracking spreadsheet for my budget, a re-purposed filebox for bills and other folders and just general cleanup.

I updated my side bar with year-end numbers for 2012. I made some progress when compared to my year-end numbers from 2011, but would like to see more. I'm looking to retire from my current job when I become eligible in 6 years and take on a new career as well as write more. I'm suffering from major job burnout and stress at my current job and need a change, but I am not financially ready. I hope to do better (and make it) through the next 6 years.

My year-end numbers from Dec 2011 are below for comparison to my sidebar 2012 numbers --

As of Dec 2011 --
Mortgage: $53,673 remaining
No credit card debt(Hallelujah!!)
Retirement: $29,807 IRA (trad'l)
Retirement: $117,652, 401K
Retirement: $1,633, Roth IRA
Wealth acct: $26,525
Freedom acct: $3,576
Christmas acct: $9
House repair acct: $316
Grandkids acct: $425
The Kid (future gift/out-on-his own acct): $?
Education: $7,588 (savings bonds & savings acct)
(son has dropped out of college and doesn't seem to have plans to go back. Will use this money for my own wealth building or for my own education)

Like I said, I've made some progress, but really want to step it up. (Don't I say that every year???) My family has had a lot of health and dental issues that cost a fortune (why didn't I become a DENTIST? My dentist bills are outrageous!), but I'm still keeping the faith that I'll make good headway toward my goals.

Still love reading the blogs here. They inspire me.
I have failed when it comes to getting on-line consistently and updating my blog (namely because of my job exhaustion), but will strive to do better.

Happy Saving everyone!!

August Rush

August 30th, 2012 at 06:35 pm

I'm SO TIRED. No energy. I haven't been keeping up with the blog like I want. I've been a little lax on the budget control as well. But my goal is to get back to the basics.

Everyday it seems like I'm rushing to work, then rushing somewhere after work, then rushing to get ready for bed, then rushing to start another morning just like the previous to rush everywhere all over again. Oy! Next month I will slooowww it down, at least a little. Cut down on errands. Simplify a few things. Take some time off work. Get the spending back to my normal money (this month I was a spending diva -- on top of car repairs, I bought 2 laptops, an airline ticket, new dresses, arts and crafts supplies -- oy!!)

A friend of ours at church passed away and made me think to be more mindful of gratitude and appreciating each other. (Slow down...) And of course I feel anxious that I still don't have my will in place. I have a will kit but haven't completed it. Procrastination is an ugly thing. Seems like I can do a lot of things, in spite of my lack of energy, but this I'm really resistant about. Think I need a simple will with counsel, though, since I'm not sure about the mortgage. Have to work on my energy and my procrastination.

I'm encouraged, as always, after reading other blogs. My automatic savings plan is still at work, but I don't want to sabatoge what I'm doing. So back on track and steady as she goes. Happy saving, everyone!!

Mid Year Review

July 6th, 2012 at 12:37 pm

I missed posting an entry the month of June (aaah!!) Too much going on. Want to blog at LEAST once a month to stay on task. I'm having a hard time with exhaustion and fatigue and job burnout, but still pushing forward.

Charting my progress by doing my 'mid year review'. My sidebar shows balances as of the end of 2011 for comparison.

MIDYEAR REVIEW as of June 2012 --
Mortgage: $51,102 remaining
Credit card debt: still 0
Retirement: $38,125 IRA(trad'l)
Retirement: $127,918 401K
Retirement: $2,263, Roth IRA
Wealth acct: $28,630
Freedom acct: $3,851
Christmas acct: $509
House Repair acct: $710
Grandkids: $438
The Kid: ? (keep reworking my ideas on this)
Education: $9,050 (savings bonds & savings acct)

I remain encouraged, but seems like progress is slow. (I want to get from 0 to a million in 10 seconds.) I still haven't completed a will, though I do have most of my beneficiary forms updated like I want them.

Later, I'll sort out my net worth. Guess I should be looking at that as well (Just read another post about net worth).

The savings categories of The Kid and Education are flexible and up in the air.

The 'Kid' dropped out of college for a while to get himself together, but failed miserably that last semester, which meant the money for that semester is GONE and counted for nothing. What's left of the education fund, I can still gift him toward tuition if he decides to go back and get more serious about schoolwork (if I can get over being mad about it), but I have to take it day by day and see where his head is.

If he decides NOT to go back to school, then the money is ALL MINE!!

He's also engaged to be married, which changes my thinking about the 'move-out gift'. I have no idea what I'll end up doing. I don't want to help with the wedding, but I might... I'd rather help them get an emergency fund started. It's a year off.

In the other savings categories, I keep thinking two things: I need to concentrate on paying off my mortgage and I need to concentrate on contributions to my Roth IRA. Not quite possible to do everything I want, since we'll need to get another car soon as well as do some major house repairs, but I'll keep doing the small things I'm doing.

Have to constantly remind myself to be grateful. BE GRATEFUL! I'm not always smiling when I'm looking at these numbers, but I want to be smiling and know I should be grateful.

Anyhoo, I still get inspired everytime I read other posts. Thanks all you saving advice friends. Happy saving!!

Month of May Musings

May 24th, 2012 at 10:23 am

In addition to the usual exhaustion, I caught a cold and respiratory infection over the past 2 weeks. My goodness, what's a girl to do?

Needless to say, I'm a little behind in the budget tweaking and tracking, but still keeping my eye on the prize.

After using my tax refund to add that extra money to my Roth and pay a little extra toward my mortgage earlier this month/last month, I felt HIGHLY motivated and still feel the urge to keep the momentum going. Problem is, I have more momentum than money. Hmmmm?

I want to do it ALL and I want to add to ALL my savings goals heavy and hard, like thousands of dollars per month. But the reality (as usual) is that I'll be tapping the nickles and dimes and dollars, which requires some more creativity...

Here's two ideas I've come up with...

(1) The extra that I have with the change in my tax withholding combined with my standing allotment toward 'wealth' savings, I think I can split between the car savings and the Roth IRA (about 100 each, each month) and the wealth account. It will take longer for everything, but I feel like I need to do something.
(2) Commit to a $50 set amount for extra toward mortgage. I've been flaky with no amount or $25 or $30 extra. If I can keep my grocery budget where it is, I can easily add $50 each month to the mortgage payment. I can also use the $20 challenge--maybe commit an extra $20 from my $20 challenge toward the mortgage. Hmmm...

Anyhoo, I'm still pushing toward the goals. Hope you all are too!! Happy saving everyone!

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