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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!

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!!

Anyhoo...

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!







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!!

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!!

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!

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!

Checking In

August 24th, 2011 at 04:34 pm

It's been a little while since I checked in. I've been busy and still dealing with job burn-out, but I'm grateful for health and a job in these days and times. I'm feeling better thanks to a couple of days off... Plus I always get motivated during my birthday month.

Taking steps to take care of my health and get enough sleep. I almost wish I could take my bed and pillow with me to work, but I'm sure my boss would frown on that. (smile)

Still tweaking the budget, but it seems like a lot more money is going out than I'd like. I'd love to plug the leaks--pun intended!! We've had plumbing issues (oh, the joys of home ownership) that added a $600 expense and car issues (oh, the joys of car ownership) that are not yet completely repaired/maintained. And the Kid (oh, the joys of parenting) is doing much better--and I'm SO INCREDIBLY grateful--after his mental health breakdown last year. He is again enrolled in a few college classes so we have that expense as the Bank of Mom, Inc.

I haven't kept up with Saving Advice as much as I'd like, but I still get inspired every time I hit the site and catch up on other blogs. I love you guys!! Now I'm going to go clip some coupons. Happy saving!


Quick Hit

May 2nd, 2011 at 04:28 pm

Helloooooo....Quick hit due to the fact that I'm too busy and too exhausted for words.

Still tweaking the budget. Updated my sidebar goals.

Still inspired by all my saving advice friends. Did I ever tell y'all I love you? It helps to have somewhere to go when you need encouragement in the finance department even in the midst of stress, fatigue and overextending myself. True love is so hard to find...

GO SAVERS GO!!! GO SAVERS GO!!

Checking In

July 15th, 2010 at 04:41 pm

Hi Saving Advice friends!! Just checking in. Don't have a lot to say. Don't seem to have a lot of time and energy to blog lately (or iron clothes or wash dishes or vacuum or run errands or...) but I'm here. All I can do is keep trying.

My parents just left my home and it was wonderful having them visit for 2 weeks from the next state over. However, spending time with them and seeing how much they've aged, it makes me feel guilty about my lack of progress in estate planning and creating a will. I still haven't done so. It's like writer's block or something.

My to-do list is still 30 miles of rough road. I really have to break it down to more manageable pieces, but then that's another 'to-do' item. (smile)
I think I need a personal secretary (smile).

Positive progress on other things:

The kid is doing somewhat better.

The wealth account has reached $15,000.

My parents were able to help us clear the tree limbs that were scratching the roof (which means we've scratched THAT item off the to-do list). It also means we saved about $500 for a handyman/tree trimmer. And some new roof shingles. (We rented a long-handled chainsaw tree trimmer for $40 for a day.)

Because my father drove his pick up truck to visit, we were also able to use it to pick up the kitchen table that I finally ordered, saving a $50 delivery fee.

Parents are great, aren't they?

I'm still inspired by everyone's blogs. Happy saving everyone!

The Search for Simplicity: The To-Do List

October 27th, 2009 at 04:55 pm

Just checking in...

I notice that when I'm feeling the need to get motivated or inspired I head to Savingadvice or I flip through a few familiar books that I have. The computer at home is up and running (another wipe and fix, this time by brother-in-law), but it is faster to do internet at the library (dial-up at home is cheap but slow.)

So here I am and already I feel more energized. I usually just run through the recent posts of everyone, like Ima Saver, Tightwad Kitty, BA, mjrube94, Lux Living Frugalis, Whitestripe, Gamecock, etc. There are so many and I love to read practically all of the recent posts. It helps me stay on track.

I'm still striving for ways to simplify my life, but am overwhelmed by my lack of energy. And lack of enthusiasm. I am now inspired to create a daily to-do list of just 5 things. What a wonderful idea. Sure beats the 375 things I've been lugging around in my head like a concrete block. Of course, I have to put it into practice, which is the first thing to put on the to-do list every day, i.e., make daily list of 5. (ha ha)

I won't keep track of it here, because I don't get on the site everyday, but I do have a notebook/planner that I can use. I'm also reading another book on how to get organized. (Can't remember the title exactly: From Chaos to Order, I think).

Anyway, on the financial side of things, I did finally order my will kit, but now need to fill it out and get witnesses (heavy sigh). I increased my 401K contributions by a percentage. I researched dental plans. (They're EXPENSIVE!!) I withdrew $500 for our Christmas shopping (spouse and I, $250 each)--we decided that the full $1,000 wouldn't need to be used for Christmas gifts and have no requests for anything big. My checkbook is balanced to the penny. The church's checkbook is balanced to the penny. It's almost time to tweak the budget for 2010.

Keep blogging everyone! I can pretend that it's ALL done to inspire little ol' me!!

No Shopping for a Year???

September 28th, 2009 at 05:36 pm

I was fascinated by an article I read, about a family that tried a no-shopping experiment for a year, buying only necessary depletable items like food and household items and some toiletries. The whole family was on board to do this.

I didn't get too many details, but I think I do this already, just not to the extreme that they did it. Plus, my family would not be on board at ALL!

Already, I don't go out to eat often. I've been out 4 times this month due to farewells at work and birthday celebrations for close friends. An unusual month--I usually don't go out for months at a time.

I don't have a cell phone, I don't have any fancy electronic equipment at home, I don't buy DVDs or CDs, I don't do any recreational shopping at the mall or at any superstore (it exhausts me), I don't wear a lot of makeup or perfume, I do my own hair, I don't have a computer right now that needs things, so I'm not spending much money on those sorts of things.

But are there other areas where I can test this experiment? I don't buy new clothes a lot like several of my friends, but I do shop at thrift stores for a wardrobe boost. Can I go a year without buying new OR used clothes?

Or can I skip going to the grocery store for a week and just use what's in the pantry?

Or can I do all my errands during the weekdays that I'm driving to and from work and not drive on Saturday at least 2 Saturdays a month? (No-drive days was part of my $20 challenge, but I don't think I've had any no-drive days this year.)

Can I do more baking and make my own snacks and bread?

Has anyone else tried this for a year?

New Stuff

July 27th, 2009 at 04:30 pm

At least they're new to me...

New position: I started my new job even though I'm in the same building and under the same local boss...I just happen to also have a supervisor that is in another state now. Interesting.

New money: I got a raise! And I feel happy that the tasks of my new job are similar to what I was already doing so I don't have to stress over the learning curve. The plan is to put more into my 401K.

New desk at work: Getting a new desk area (we're in cubicles) creates a need to purge and organize. I'm AMAZED (!) at all the stuff I've accumulated over the years of working at this job. I've been cleaning and organizing at home, too.

New dress: I found a dress at the thrift store for 7.99. It's one of those knit jersy wrap dresses that you can ball up and shake it out and wear it to work without ironing it. I LOVE IT!!

New attitude: The kid has been reading some of the books I've been checking out the library. One was a book on aptitudes and gifts. After reading it and taking the test, he decided to change his major from computer science (which it turned out he doesn't really like--he chose that major because it was business-like, practical and seemed to please other people--like me, my parents, his instructors, his friends). His new major will be English/Communication Arts (Media). I'm supportive and feel like he's making a good decision after reading his test results. This college thing has already been an intersting ride. I'll keep you posted.

New stock market level: Both my 401K/TSP and my IRA are increasing in value. At least a little... yay...

Random Thoughts in June

June 25th, 2009 at 04:34 pm

(1)
I just heard today that my previous boss's brother won 88 million in the lotto. (He's not in the same state we live in.) Haven't verified, but am fantasizing and daydreaming about what that must be like. I don't even play the lotto--neither does my brother!--but that's got to be a head-spinner!!

(2)
We're planning to drive to visit my parents next week...an 8-hour drive...not too bad. Should be fun, but I feel nervous. Me, spouse and the kid. We're renting a vehicle because it seems practical, but I don't know.

(3)
Feel sluggish in this summer weather. Feeling lazy. And tired. Need a break from overtime. And I feel like I've been spending more money than necessary. We wasted $280 (using 'cushion' money) on trying to get our computer fixed. It died, faded to black, and I just wanted it to last through the summer, thinking that I'll feel more like looking for a new computer around September. (I have no plans nor any interest in looking for one now.) The 'fix' lasted for about 3 days and the computer died again! Bad gamble. Bad bad gamble!! I'm at the library's computer as we speak...or write...or whatever....

(4)
Lots of things on my to do list that I'm not to-doing. I appear to be very resistant to getting my will paperwork taken care of. This is high on the list, but not high in my motivation. What's the deal??? I also haven't been motivated to clean house or to write either, though I have lots to do in those areas. Just feeling sluggish. I've been to the doctor and I'm taking my vitamins. Maybe I'm just going through a 'season'.

(5)
Met a new coworker this week who I seem to have a lot in common with. It should be a lot of fun getting to know her.

(6)
Another thing to add to the 'to do' list. Car maintenance--tune-up, radiator flush, air filter changed out, rotate tires, etc. (Got the oil changed already. One down, 105 more items to go...)

Work!

June 11th, 2009 at 04:48 pm

I'm grateful to have a job. I'm grateful to have a job. I'm grateful to have a job...

My focus has to be on gratitude because my job is re-organizing again (this makes our 6th major re-organization in 10 years) and I'm just a little weary of starting from ground zero every few years with these re-organizations within the same office. (There are over 300 employees...kind of a big "office".) But I'm grateful to have a job. I'm grateful to have a job. I'm GRATEFUL to have a job.

The other news in the re-organization is that I may be moved to a new department within the organization. It's not definite, but it's possible, and it's possible that it will come with a small pay raise. That's good news (especially when I look at my saving goals), but I'm nervous about it. No jobs are being cut, but there'll be a lot of moving around and a lot of workload shifting, which creates an incredible backlog of work in transition and more overtime. (I know, because we've done this many times before.) But let me say it again... I'm grateful for my job. I'm so incredibly grateful for my job. I'll keep you posted.

Carpet Cleaning, Cleaner Air and Thoughts...

March 26th, 2009 at 05:00 pm

about home ownership and responsibility...

We got our carpets cleaned and our air ducts cleaned this week. Cleaner carpets make the house look nice. (The kid being AWAY at college makes the house look nice, too. He was home for spring break last week and oh my goodness! clothes everywhere, food wrappers and fast food bags everywhere, and we were constantly stepping over size 13 shoes in the middle of the floor!)

The cost of carpet cleaning combined with the vent cleaning was about $695, but we were prepared with cash in the checking account thanks to savings and our tax refund...carpet cleaning about $190 and vent cleaning about $505.

Now, if I'd just wash the windows and paint the trim work... the house will be really 'sparkly'. (heavy sigh... more things to add to the to-do list...)

I usually get this knot in my stomach when we're calling around for service companies or repair work for the house. Unless you're a skilled do-it-yourself-er, you never know if you can trust what a service person is telling you about your house. We were REALLY fortunate this time--this crew came in and did a great job. But in the past, we've felt like we've been ripped off by other home repair and maintenance crews, so we're cautious. It's such a task.

(Hardwood flooring crossed my mind, but that's another entry and a different dollar figure for a different day...)

The thing about home ownership is home responsiblity. The to-do list is long and the cost of things is ridiculous and you're dependent on a huge list of repair and maintenance people who know more than you know about your house until you take the time to learn what they know. Either way it's going to cost time and money.

Apartment living might create neighbor issues and a lack of equity and a lack of stability, but I'm remembering how apartment living simplified my to-do list and my budget enormously. I've talked with my friends and relatives about home ownership vs renting, and I seem to be the ONLY one who thinks apartment living has advantages. Is this some sort of snobbery on their part? Or am I just a whiner and complainer no matter where I am?...

We're here at our home and blessed and chugging along with our mile-long to-do list and our budget. I'll just pipe down and be quiet...besides, the carpet is looking really nice.

The To Do List

March 11th, 2009 at 06:38 pm

Is ridiculous.

And I keep adding things.

I need to file the finanical aid form for my son's college.
Go to the bank.
Make two doctor's appointments.
Order a will kit on-line.
Find someone to clean our carpets.
Rake leaves.
Catch up with record-keeping and filing for my church's finance records, 1st quarter. Hold a church finance meeting with the team.
Mail checks back to my health insurance company. (That they sent me by accident.)
Get an alignment on the car.
Check on my neighbor.
Call my mother.
Clean out my file cabinet.
Find a new place that recycles aluminum cans (the old place shut down).
Go to the dry cleaners.
Open a Roth IRA.
Bake pumpkin bread before the canned pumpkin I have expires.
Make a large batch of spaghetti sauce to freeze.
Send an email to an old friend.
Make bathroom more handicap accessible for spouse. (He fell this weekend on a tile floor while we were out. That pain combined with his cerebral palsy has created "access" issues in our home...)
Dust.
Get a birthday gift for the kid.
Buy an electric blanket.
Do my Spanish homework. (I signed up for an 8-week community education class to learn Spanish.)
Get to a writer's meeting on Saturday.
Have the hedges in the front yard cut down or removed.
Clean the garage.
Clean the attic.
Give myself a manicure and pedicure.
Find my black gym shorts.
Buy new towels and toss a few of the old ones we're using.
Defrost the freezer.
Fix the hole in the wall in the bathroom where the broken toilet paper holder used to be.
Invite my young friend to Sunday dinner.
Take donation bags to Good Will.
Weed out paperback books.
Finish one of the 6 books I'm currently reading.
Blog. (I can check this one off the list for this week. It's easier to blog, then to do the other to-do items.)
Take jar of pennies to bank for deposit.
Schedule card game night with friends.
Invite stepdaughter to lunch.
Update my beneficiary forms on everything.
Get the air conditioning unit serviced.
Repair the hem of one of my skirts.
Clean out my email inbox.
Update my resume.
Update personal papers for my brother.
Help brother with business plan for his business.
Balance checkbook.

I could go on, but I'm tired. Just checking in...

House Stuff - Stockpiling (Yay!) and Clutter (boo!)

March 2nd, 2009 at 05:17 pm

I've been trying to stock up on household items, using coupons and sales (a la couponmom.com) So far so good. I have 9 bottles of shampoo and ten tubes of toothpaste in my dresser drawers. I calculate I've saved about $3.00 on the shampoo total and about $12.00 on the toothpaste total (what I would have normally paid). I'm on the hunt for toilet paper and cereals now... My spouse thinks this is funny, but I feel like I'm saving quite a bit of money. It will also keep me from running to the store at the last minute for things like this. I'm trying to simplify my LIFE!!

However, now I foresee a storage problem.

Which brings me to the clutter. Egads man!! What would it take to hire a maid?? This weekend I dusted--having not dusted in several months--and I could have made a stuffed teddybear with the dust I collected. My spouse is a stay-at-home spouse due to his handicap--he cooks (yay) but doesn't dust (hmm) and doesn't want a maid coming to the house while he's there. (A maid is not in the budget anyway.) So while I'm dusting--this once-in-a-blue-moon-type-dusting--I'm looking at the clutter in my house.

Why do we have infant car seats in the garage when the grandchildren are 10, 5 and 3 years old and my son is almost 20 years old? Why do I have the cake topper to our wedding cake when we've been married for over 10 years? Why do we have those super large cups from Sonic and other fast food places when we never use them again? Why do I have candles that are covered in dust and never lit? Why is there paper everywhere? Ok, the paper's mostly me (I write, I clip coupons, I keep budget records for both our church and our home, I pay bills, sort mail, I recycle, I have arts and crafts for the grandkids...yeah, the paper's mostly me...). But there's the spouse, too (he has 2 magazine subscriptions that I've yet to see him read, he handles his mentally disabled son's paperwork(!), he's active at our church which comes with a lot of paperwork, he can't throw away a paper or magazine that has the Dallas Cowboys on it--I usually do the honors--and he collects recipes). With the two of us combined, we're out of CONTROL!!

Ranting here, because I have no plan in place to get this under control. It's another thing to add to the to-do list. I don't want another thing added to the to-do list. Maybe I'll start with one spot at a time. Once surface at a time. Wow. I'm tired already....

Checking In...

February 19th, 2009 at 04:41 pm

It's been a few days and I'm just checking in to gather up some energy and motivation. I'm tired and it seems like I have a super long to-do list, but we'll keep pressing on. Most of the time I want to ignore it...

Had the budget talk with the spouse. He tried to seem interested, but didn't have anything to add as far as goals and how he sees our financial future. He's very unaware of the cost of things and our bills and he's neither a detail person nor a big picture guy (so where does that leave him?). I might revisit in a few weeks. He's perfectly happy not dealing with any of the finances at ALL. But what happens if something happens to me? For now, I'm pressing on with status quo.

I've changed the way I track my spending so I'm still adjusting to new habits. I hope to have numbers together this weekend.

Figured out my taxes and I'm getting back WAY too much money. Not that I'm complaining, because I've already figured out what to do with it!! But I'm used to a $400 to $900 dollar return. (Except that one year where I had to PAY $700! I'm still traumatized by that!) This year it looks like the refund will be a couple of thousand (!!)--I grossly miscalculated my withholding. I thought with my lowered contribution to my 401K that I would have more taxable income and owe more tax, so I changed my withholding. (I reduced my 401k contribution to help with the kid's college.) I was a little bit off... I'll have to readjust for 2009.

Work is about the same. Work. Payday this week. Yahoo!

Nearing the End of the Year

December 17th, 2008 at 05:08 pm

Haven't written in a while. This is a quick check-in. I'm one of the finance chairpersons at my church and this time of year requires me to work out the church's financials during my spare time. This includes input on the church's budget and typing it up on Excel, plus finalizing the bulk of the data entry to print out the individual contribution statements of their tithes and offerings. Busy time for me and I have less time to focus on my own numbers.

Plus, there's Christmas shopping and traveling.

However, I was just checking in, reading the blogs, and it's SO much fun to read about everyone's 2009 goals! I'm thinking I'll work on smaller goals toward the first of the year (like fully funding my Christmas shopping account). Then I'll work on heavier goals after checking off a few small goals. I have a lot I want to do, just need to prioritize and update my sidebar. Main goal: Save as much as possible!!

I feel inspired by everyone. My spouse and my son are still not on board or working with me (they appear to be working against me). In fact, I'm bracing myself for my son being at home for the Christmas break...he's high maintenance and I have to stay focused! But I'm still excited and still working on both my spouse and my son. Hope to blog again soon. Everyone else...keep up the inspiration.

Don't Look Now - My IRA Balance

October 23rd, 2008 at 03:42 pm

I had hoped to remain in ignorant bliss until some of this crazy stock market action has settled, but I opened my IRA statement quite by accident and was horrified to see that the value of my IRA (stock mutual fund) dropped from nearly $44,000 from last year to $31,500 currently.

Ignorance WAS bliss. Still contributing $100 a month. And I still have about 20 years to recover, so I think I'll be ok. But still, could someone pass the Kleenex, please...give me a moment...

(Note: I haven't yet reviewed my balance in my 401K. Same deal, I imagine. Considering my wide-eyed reaction to my IRA balance, I'll wait as long as possible to look at the balance for my 401K. Good grief!)

DREAM

October 16th, 2008 at 04:32 pm

I just hit a work anniversary and realized this: I am tired of working!

I've been working full-time for 22 years (with a one year break in my late 20s due to a relocation move with my first husband). I'm TIRED!

But every morning I drag my tired butt out of bed, wash my face, brush my teeth and show up, because payday is around the corner and the only way I can see that I'll become financially free or wealthy (dare I dream?) is to focus on doing everything I can to honor the money I make and to save as much of my paycheck as possible.

Nine years, 11 months and 13 days until retirement.

My current job is not a job I love (nor have any of the previous jobs been jobs I've loved), but I currently work with people I both admire and enjoy working with, so I let that thought comfort me in the midst of my day-in-day-out routine.

My dream, however, is to wake up and stretch (with a joyful smile on my face of course), THEN decide if I want to write a novel or make pancakes that day. Or decide if I want to tend a garden or go to the library. Or decide if I want to tutor school kids in math or learn a new instrument.

Not only that, I also want to be able to donate money (and time) to any number of causes out there that have tugged at my heart in the past several years, either locally, nationally or internationally.

In my twenties I had no idea that I'd be working this long. I guess I thought I'd marry some rich guy and live happily ever after??? It started to dawn on me in my thirties that the rich guys weren't looking for me (though there were plenty of poor guys who loved me madly) and here I am in my forties still at it.

One day, one day... A girl can dream, can't she?

No Lotto for Me

September 30th, 2008 at 04:29 pm

I do not buy lotto tickets. Nothing personal. Maybe some religious concerns. But really, I just prefer to keep the dollars that I work for. I've probably spent a few dollars over my lifetime buying raffle tickets, scratch-offs, and the like in the past, but no regular lotto tickets for me.

I watched a show about lottery winners. It was fun to watch. I even found myself wondering what I'd do with all that money at once.

But here's the thing. I used to work with a gentleman who was in his late 50s and unmarried. He had a few expensive hobbies like traveling abroad, photography, and buying $20 worth of lotto tickets every Friday. Every Friday without fail he would tell us that he felt he had the lucky numbers this week and he would purchase $20 of lotto tickets after work. I worked with him for 10 years. We eventually grew tired of teasing him about winning, but I can only recall him talking about winning a prize of $500 and some odd dollars during the 10 years I worked with him.

The 'thought' of prosperity seemed to help him feel rich but I wonder, now that he's in his late 60s or early 70s (I'm no longer in contact with him), does he ever wish he'd put that $20 a week into something more certain? That's approximately $100 a month! Multiply that by 10 years and even without interest earned, it's over $12,000, which is a tidy chunk of change.

Anyway, he taught me to treat my paycheck as my own personal lottery winning. Yeah, I have to work for it, but payday is a good day. I'm happy for people who actually win millions in the lotto because that HAS to be exciting. But for me, every payday that comes, I get excited in trying to save as much as possible and stretch that baby out as far as it will go. That's about the only winning I'm going to be doing.

Happy Birthday to Me -- Bash on a Budget

August 19th, 2008 at 04:18 pm

Ok, so it really wasn't a birthday bash. It was actually a BORING birthday according to my son. For my birthday last week (the 15th), I tried to ask my family not to buy anything for me, but instead that we just enjoy a leisurely breakfast together at a nearby restaurant and to allow me to enjoy the one thing I really wanted...time alone to write and read.

The kid (who likes to spend money) wanted to buy me something expensive (which he equates with 'valuable') for my birthday and was very disappointed when I had no request for anything in particular. He bought me supermarket flowers (which were wonderful and thoughtful and smelled great and the best gift he's ever given me) and a scented name-brand candle that also smelled good, but that I suspect he paid too much for in an effort to impress a mother who doesn't want or need to be impressed or in an effort to show me he really loves me. (I keep telling him that love has no price, but his materialism convinces him otherwise.) My spouse also bought me flowers and candy and a gift certificate for clothes shopping. And we did go out to eat breakfast.

It's nice to be loved and for my family to want to give me nice things, but my prize gift that day was leaving my family behind and getting a motel room alone. Because of my frugality and my primary intention to read and write through that day and night, I got a basic single room at a Super 8 Motel. Clean, simple, relatively safe neighborhood, relatively quiet, free coffee, toast and fruit in the morning, and the room had blackout curtains, a desk where I could write and a fairly comfortable couch to sit on for reading. It was one day/night and it was absolutely fabulous. I read. I wrote. Then I wrote. Then I read. Then I slept. Then I wrote some more.

At my age, the main thing I lack is the freedom to do what I want with my time. My days are filled with my full-time job, having to get things done pertaining to the house or having to get somewhere or get the kid or my step-grandchildren somewhere or support my spouse or volunteer at my church or something. I want to read and write more often and sometimes I just want to sit quietly without 3 TVs and a radio blaring in the house all at the same time. (This describes my house accurately on a daily basis, but add to that 3 young boys--the step-grandchildren--that my husband babysits and there's not much quiet time to be had.)

My son thought that my birthday was the most boring birthday a person could have, but I am still smiling about it. Happy Birthday to me...

POSITIVE STRIDES IN SAVING

July 31st, 2008 at 04:39 pm

Focus.

Consistency.

Learning from my father's thrift. (My mother, however, calls him cheap.)

A cash-only budget (envelope system) for flexible expenses.

Regular automatic savings allotments toward several savings goals--wealth, retirement, Christmas shopping, home repairs, college fund, etc.

A steady salary. (I'm so grateful!!)

Shopping thrift stores (go Goodwill!!) for 80 to 90% of my clothing.

Discovering the finance book section in the library.

Discovering savingadvice.com (yay me!)

THE HOUSE

July 30th, 2008 at 04:56 pm

I stumbled across a book in the library called True Prosperity, Your Guide to a Cash-Based Lifestyle by K.C. Knouse. This book would have been an excellent book for me to read before purchasing a house. Unfortunately I didn't read the book before purchasing a house.

Not to say I'm not overly grateful to live in my home and to be able to afford it, because I am extremely grateful. But here's the thing: People tell you that buying a house is the American Dream. They say it's a great tax break. They tell you to stop throwing money away on rent. I can't speak for everyone, but if you're a saver like me and thought you were really doing something when you had a large down payment for your first home, you're in for a suprise. Once you sign that paperwork and pay those ridiculous closing costs you are not 'home free'. You're in debt. You're obligated to a bank who technically owns your house until you pay off the mortgage, you're responsible for every repair, every appliance, and every bill, and now you have to cut the grass. Truth be told, this was not the dream I had in mind.

Purchasing a house created bills I never even heard of (Escrow? Or.. A water heater costs HOW much?) Talk about being a grown up! After putting down a large down payment, I didn't have much savings left, but sure wish someone had told me that I would NEED savings after closing on the house. Within the first few weeks of closing, we managed to replace a faulty water heater, purchase yard equipment (an all-day field trip to the local home imporovement store), and buy mattresses and beds for 2 bedrooms with miminal credit card debt. (For the rest of the house, we used our existing furniture from our apartments.) The previously uncharted expenses seemed NEVER-ENDING and I would stare at the ceiling at night wondering why all the people I talked to about home-ownership never told me ANY of the after-story. (Now I find that it's because it's considered "NORMAL" to struggle financially and everyone I talked to back then wanted me to have the same kind of fun they were having.)

After being in the house for 10 years, I've almost (almost!) got the budget manageable. (Yes, it's taken 10 years to adjust, cope and get a manageable budget.) I still have a ways to go, but the mortgage is our only debt. And I'm grateful for that. Besides saving for a new roof (and it looks like we might need a new stove and fridge soon, insulation in the attic, landscaping and plumbing work--oh the joy!), I'm considering trying to pay the morgage off early. Still researching that since I'm not sure this is the house we'll live in for the rest of our lives... But I'm thinking, thinking, thinking...

OBSTACLES IN SAVING

July 30th, 2008 at 04:29 pm

The kid.

The kid's college expenses.

The spouse.

The house.

Three automobiles.
(All are paid for but cost in maintenance and insurance. Unfortunately, for both the expense and the environment, it's difficult to get around our city without an automobile.)

Medical expenses.
(Includes my son's extensive and expensive dental work, his contact lenses, my glasses, medical concerns for 2 chronic illnesses (lupus--me--and cerebral palsy--my spouse).

Note: Feel trapped by many of the above expenses above, but trying to stay hopeful. I've looked and looked and will keep looking to see where I can cut back. I'm able to cut back on small items fairly easily, but these big items...yikes! It's not very pretty once I add it all up.

Ten Things That I Will Not Have While On My Savings Journey

July 30th, 2008 at 04:24 pm

1. A luxury car.
2. A Rolex.
3. A gas-guzzler anything.
4. Diamond earrings. (I can't keep up with the cheap earrings.)
5. A yacht or boat.
6. A service contract on appliances.
7. A $200 dollar dinner at a fancy restaurant.
8. An exotic snake as a pet. (eeww!)
9. Breast implants.
10. A third husband (the first two have taught me well).