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Long Time No Post - and Merry Christmas!

December 25th, 2018 at 06:43 pm

I'm still here!

I didn't post much in 2017 or 2018 -- unorganized, unmotivated, and overwhelmed. And yes, for 2 years straight! While I'm still dealing with my overwhelming to-do list (getting better) and my fatigue due to a chronic illness (also improving) and burnout issues (hope to retire from my stressful job in late 2019), my spouse passed away suddenly in April 2018 and I have been trying to adjust to the 'new normal'.

The unexpected shock (apparent heart failure--he was passed out on the bedroom floor when I came home from an appointment) and natural grief from the loss has me a little off kilter (still). The good news is that I'm doing ok -- or at least I'm doing the best I can do -- and have a lot of family and friend and church support and also attended several grief counseling sessions.

I'm grateful that I had a lot of honest talks with him several months before he died. I was prompted to 'heal' and he was prompted to respond accordingly, so I feel blessed that we were able to clear the air on a number of things that had been constantly misunderstand.

Financially things have changed. Insurance policies were helpful in paying for the funeral costs and for debt he didn't discuss with me (about $12,000 in credit card debt). Because of his cerebral palsy, he was not approved for any large policies, but I'm thankful for what we had in place. Neither of us had a will -- I FINALLY got a will and trust in place after this happened. That, plus the counsel on estate matters after his death, cost about $2,100. It's sad that a tragedy like this, seemed the only thing that could get me to accomplish the will thing, but sometimes a shock is what it takes. I've been procrastinating about it for at least 10 years, if not longer.

My parents are visiting this Christmas week until mid January. It's good to have family around. I'm grateful. Merry Christmas to me!

And Merry Christmas to you, my saving advice friends! Happy saving!

Hello 2017

January 17th, 2017 at 03:51 pm

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

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

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

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

Anyhoo... Happy Saving everyone!

Long Time No Post

October 15th, 2016 at 04:25 pm

It's been a while!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy saving!

Everything is Going to Be All Right

March 2nd, 2016 at 05:06 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

I'll need to replace the totaled car eventually.

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

I need to stay healthy.

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

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

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

Happy saving everyone!

Hello 2016!

January 18th, 2016 at 10:47 am

Happy MLK day!

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

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

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

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

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

Paid half of property taxes ($1,927)

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

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

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

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

Net worth is about $440,380

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

Happy saving to all my saving advice friends!!

Midyear Review 2015

July 1st, 2015 at 05:53 pm

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

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

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

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

Net worth: $411,110

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

2. Increase my retirement contribution

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

Happy saving everyone!!

Quick May Update - Fantastic News

May 18th, 2015 at 06:15 pm

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

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

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

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

Happy saving everyone!

Practicing Extreme Positivity

February 24th, 2015 at 05:13 pm

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

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

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!







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!!