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Hello 2016!

January 18th, 2016 at 06:47 pm

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 2nd, 2015 at 01:53 am

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 19th, 2015 at 02:15 am

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 5th, 2015 at 01:40 am

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 we go!!

2015 Here We Go

January 5th, 2015 at 12:15 am

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 15th, 2014 at 02:40 am

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 04:48 pm

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 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 7th, 2014 at 02:23 am

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 14th, 2014 at 02:15 am

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 10:06 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 22nd, 2014 at 12:30 am

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!