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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!

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!!

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!

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!

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!

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!

April Thoughts

April 30th, 2012 at 03:32 pm

Last day of April and I just made the cut-off for my intention to update my blog each month -- too busy for words, but still striving to save.

Got the income tax return back. Also, I re-arranged my savings allotments when I changed my tax withholding. My intention is to make deposits to my Roth IRA this year Not sure how this change in withholding will play out for income tax season next year, but we'll see. I can always change it again.

Anyhow, decided to put $500 in Christmas shopping account, $400 toward my Roth IRA and $300 toward my mortgage. The rest I'm still deciding how to split between my wealth account, freedom account and spending. (We need a new lawn mower!) We'll see.

Tweaking the budget a bit. Still using cash envelopes, since it has worked so well for the past few years. I've been shopping less than normal the past 2 months -- mostly due to fatigue. Thus I have more money left in my purse at the end of the month. Who would have thought there would be a payoff for exhaustion?

Happy saving everyone!! Stay encouraged!

Update for March - income tax refund

March 29th, 2012 at 02:54 pm

I finished my tax return and expect about $1500 refund. I changed my withholding in an effort to get less of a refund next year. I haven't seen the difference yet, so I'll plan for it when I have the actual number for my new take home pay.

I would like to go on record and say this about the instructions for the Form 1040: "Seriously????" I normally do our taxes, but for some reason, I had trouble understanding the language this year. I mean, SERIOUSLY???? Maybe I'm just getting older and more cranky.

I have an idea of how to divide up the refund of $1500 for savings. Much of it (about $800) will sit in my Christmas shopping account. The rest I keep rearranging on paper - some to my Roth IRA, some to my Freedom account, some to my wealth account/car account, some to our house repair account. So many choices!! I'll figure something out. I'm determined to save the bulk of it, give away a little (to church and a homeless shelter) and spend a small amount for things around the house.

Next year, I probably won't know how to act if I don't get a refund. (Or worse, if I owe!) Like several folks I know, I think I'm addicted to getting a decent tax refund. It's a nice chunk of cash to decide what to do with. We'll see how disciplined I am about saving during the rest of this year to make good on getting a bigger paycheck rather than a bigger refund.

Anyhoo, happy saving everyone!!


January 30th, 2012 at 10:31 am

Well hello there!! I've been busy, tired, have too much work, and don't have good personal computer access--lot of excuses for not blogging, but I'm determined to blog at least once a month in 2012 to review other blogs (get inspired) and update SOMETHING so I can stay better focused. I just made the cut-off for January!

Updated my sidebar as of Dec 2011. My sidebar "As of Dec 2010" copied below for comparison:
Mortgage: $60,200 remaining
No credit card debt(Hallelujah!!)
Retirement: $39,346 IRA (trad'l)
Retirement: $100,500, 401K
Wealth acct: $17,992
Freedom acct: $4,515
Christmas acct: $110
House repair acct: $345
Grandkids acct: $403
The Kid (future gift/out-on-his own acct): $521 (he has access--account is probably $0)
Education: $10,588 (savings bonds & savings acct)

I made some progress, stayed the same in other areas. Still pushing forward which is the important thing. Lots of budget-tweaking to do. New year, new hope...

Happy saving!!


October 24th, 2011 at 04:09 pm

I've been absent for a few months - basically unorganized and exhausted. But I'm still a saving machine and I'm pressing my way.

Reached the money market goal at the beginning of this month. Gooooaaaaaalll!! I'd been on auto pilot for a while, but I feel like I accomplished something. Now I'll readjust a little in order to save for a car purchase. I want to pay cash for our next car AND keep the minimum balance of 25,000 in the account. So I may be saving for another 2 years to get there, but we'll see what happens.

I also converted $2,000 ($1800 after tax reduction) from my traditional IRA to open a Roth IRA with the same mutual fund account. Not happy with the mutual fund company and may change. But opening a Roth IRA that was a future goal that is now a done goal. Now I just need a plan to contribute to it regularly.

Yay me and yay you's, all you saving buddies!
Happy saving!

Fight the Good Fight

June 27th, 2011 at 04:56 pm

Trying to fight discouragement. Job-burnout has me EXHAUSTED and impatient to hurry up and meet all my financial goals NOW. The thought of 10 more years of this job zaps my energy. I'm eligible for retirement between 7 and 10 years barring reductions/downsizing, which can happen at any time. Can I make it?

I'm grateful for my job and income. If we go through reductions/downsizing, I'd rather choose job-burnout. And at the rate I'm going, I need at least 10 more years of saving and investing and to pay off my mortgage. I'm just really really tired. I need to take it a day at a time.

In the meantime, I'm doing what I can with all the money management skills I've practiced. I seek inspiration at saving-advice and else-where.

I've committed to saving at least 70% of any extra income I receive over my paycheck.

I save change. I clip coupons. (Has anyone seen that show 'Extreme Couponing'? OMG! Not exactly for me, that investment of time, but OMG!)

I've fallen off the wagon in playing the $20 challenge. So I'll commit to my own version for the next 6 months on a daily basis and try to save as much as I can each day in addition to my regular saving allotments. Say, $1 added to savings for every no-spend day...

I can dream about winning the mega-million lottery while I clip coupons and count quarters, but while I'm dreaming, I have to keep clipping coupons and counting quarters in order to push forward. Heavy sigh...

Income Taxes Done - Yay me!

March 7th, 2011 at 04:57 pm

Finished my income tax return today. Yay me. I do them by hand, because I'm a nerd and I can take my time reading all the instructions. That was a problem this year since IRS is cutting down on paper mailing -- I had to search for all forms and instructions at the library and on line.

Anyway, I got everything I needed after several trips and lots of reading. All that footwork and reading was the bad news. The good news is I'm getting money back -- close to $2,000!!

My fear was that I had to pay. When I did the IRS calculator at irs.gov around Sep 2010, it calculated that I wasn't having enough income tax taken out of my pay, so that concerned me that I would owe extra and I increased my withholding. But I guess the calculator didn't take into account any credits I may have had. Such a complicated process!!


I know some people disagree with having a large return (they say it's an interest-free loan to the government), but hooey pooey to that!! This year it's helping me with money management. I can use all the help I can get. I'm excited to be getting a refund. It will help with funding my savings accounts. I would have been happy breaking even-- This is just a fabulous bonus!

Hope all of you have good news when it comes to income tax time. It's not a fun task, but it has to be dealt with.

Happy saving!

Here I Am!!

February 15th, 2011 at 05:20 pm

I realize no one has been looking for me, but I've been inactive for some time. Dealing with my son's mental health adjustments has taken its toll over the year--it's been a year since the 'schizophrenia' break, which has been downgraded by doctors to a psychotic break/nervous breakdown, since he appears to be doing better although still unmotivated and fearful and he's dropped out of college due to failing grades. Dealing with work and the household and everything has NOT gotten any easier--I think I've been depressed, which I'm sure I've mentioned in previous posts. However, the one thing I've been able to do is keep showing up for work and keep working on my finances. (I can't work on the finances if I don't show up for work--lately that has been my only motivation)

Anyway, I'm baaack! I hope to stay involved with the blog, but no promises! I still read other entries that still inspire and motivate, but writing about my progress (or lack) seems to help a great deal also. My level of depression seems mild--just haven't been motivated to do much, but if I keep showing up, keep praying, keep exercising, keep writing, keep working on the budget, I think I'll pull out of it without the use of pills or medical help.

I've updated my sidebar (I know, I'm late!). The comparison of year-end numbers are below.

As of Dec 09 --
Mortgage: $56,127 remaining
No credit card debt(Hallelujah!!)
Retirement: 34,037 IRA (trad'l)
Retirement: 84,972 401K
Wealth acct: $13,325
Freedom acct: $2,898
Christmas acct: $410
House repair acct: $125
Grandkids acct: $402
The Kid (future gift/out-on-his own acct): $923

As of Dec 2010 --
Mortgage: $60,200 remaining (refinanced from 7.5% interest to 3.9% interest)
No credit card debt(Hallelujah!!)
Retirement: $39,346, IRA (trad'l)
Retirement: $100,500, 401K
Wealth acct: $17,992
Freedom acct: $4,515
Christmas acct: $110
House repair acct: $345
Grandkids acct: $403
The Kid (future gift/out-on-his own acct): $521
Education: $10,588 (savings bonds & savings acct)

Still using my nickel and dime plan to build up my wealth account. Plan to continue. My savings allotments are on auto-pilot and it all seems slow going, but it's going. My brother thinks these small goals are useless, but they seem to help me a great deal, especially when I look back over the progress I've made. I can't convince HIM, but I've convinced myself to look at every nickel and dime with a close eye (smile).


Nickel and Dime Plan

September 14th, 2010 at 05:07 pm

I haven't blogged in quite some time. Too busy for words, too tired. Too lazy. And a little stressed at work. Plus my supervisor wants me to take a higher paying and more STRESSFUL position and I'm just not interested in the additional health problems and the additional work and hours. (The money would be nice, but it isn't a huge raise. Not sure if the additional stress is worth it.)

Anyway, the good news is I'm still saving money and looking for new ways to divide up a dime. Still inspired by the savingadvice camp. At one time, I felt like my budget was being nickeled and dimed to death, but as of this month (Labor Day) I'm using the concept to my advantage.

I started a financial freedom jar and intend to deposit something into it every day from the cash allowance/envelope system I currently use. EVEN A NICKLE OR A DIME!!! It's an effort to change my focus to the positive (building) rather than the negative (subtracting and whining about it).

Then I'll deposit the collection each payday or each month CONSISTENTLY into the wealth account. (I've had issues with consistency.) The bank tellers always smile and seem to say, 'how sweet' when I deposit dollar bills and change, but when they look at the balance of the account, they seem to say 'hmmm.'

Even though it looks like I may not meet my goals by the end of year, I'm still striving for them. It just means I'll stretch the goals into 2011. Happy saving!

Mid-Year Review 2010

July 21st, 2010 at 04:42 pm

June 2010 status compared to Sidebar (As of Dec 2009):

Mortgage balance: $54,257

No Credit Card debt (yay!)

Retirement IRA: $34,637

Retirement 401K: $91,140

Wealth acct: $15,022

Freedom acct: $3,801

Christmas acct: $752

House Repair acct: $475

Grandkids acct: $402

The Kid: $494

Checking acct is still fluctuating wildly. Freedom account gets a heavy workout, too. But overall I'm making some progress. I'm practicing patience. I keep telling myself one dime at a time...
Happy saving!!

Where in the world have I been?

May 20th, 2010 at 04:50 pm

Nowhere. Just somewhat stressed, trying to adjust to changes in my job and at home. The kid is doing ok--much better in fact--meds are working and the psychologists are very positive after they talk with him each time. He didn't do so well this last semester at school, when it comes to grades, but he gave it his best shot by attempting to go to class.
Appreciate everyone's kind comments on my previous post back in March.

Anyway, my energy is a little drained. I may be dealing with a little depression, but I'm not willing to go down for the count, so I keep getting up to go to work, I keep exercising, I keep praying, I keep making some attempt to do something worthwhile and energizing. The kid has been very talkative as of late, so we've had some really interesting talks about "What's life all about?"

I've fallen a little behind in my budget and record keeping, but intend to do some work this month. The insurance did kick in for the hospital bill that was originally $7,000--my portion is $750 (yay me!). The other good news is that I was expecting an $800 tax refund but recieved a $1400 tax refund. (yay me!) I didn't include a credit and IRS re-calculated it for me. I feel like I should send them a thank you card. Who knew?

I'm glad I was able to muster the interest and energy to check out Saving Advice blogs and update my sidebar a little. I feel better already. I've fallen behind, but feel energized now to re-focus. I have a very long (loooooooong) list of things to do, and very little motivation. But we'll see. Happy saving!!

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