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October 16th, 2016 at 12:25 am

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 3rd, 2016 at 01:06 am

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!

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!

Life Can Change in a Matter of Days

February 5th, 2014 at 07:44 pm

Life can change in a matter of days...

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

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

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

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

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

Life can change in a matter of days...

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

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

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

The House and I

June 23rd, 2013 at 12:03 am

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

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

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

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

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

Happy saving everyone!!

What to do about the to-do list

May 25th, 2010 at 12:09 am

I haven't kept up with my to-do list. I just got overwhelmed and lazy about it. The same with my budget. And I haven't quite found a simple system that works well in remembering to do things and then DOING them. I think I'm just totally unmotivated about nearly everything at the moment. I'm hoping this 'un-motivation' will pass.

Unfortunately, no list means I forgot some basic things within the last week or so. I forgot to buy laundry detergent, which put my schedule off a bit for laundry. I forgot to call to make a doctor's appointment and now no appointments are available in the time I was hoping. I forgot to buy peaches for the grandchildren and they were quite miffed. (They love peaches, but their mom refuses to buy much fresh fruit, so I often have them on hand. I went back to the store to get them the next day.) I was off budget at the grocery store because I didn't keep track of my purchases or my grocery list. I also think I missed the deadline to add more money to the Certificate of Deposit I have (not sure...will check with the bank). None of these are big deals, but they all add up.

The good news is, I wrote down as many things as I could recall that I need to do within the month or even over the next few months. Things like buy stamps, gather my dry cleaning, sew a button on my jacket, call the doctor, etc. It might not help, but at least some of that clutter is out of my head and onto a piece of paper. That's progress.

It's the next step (actually DOING the things on the to-do list) that I have a problem with also. We'll see... One step at a time...I did begin with balancing my checkbook and checked that off the list. And I checked in with saving advice. Check. Only 984 more items to go...ha ha!


March 30th, 2010 at 12:37 am

Oh My Goodness. That comment goes toward both my life and the savingadvice new look. Go figure--I'm unable to blog for several weeks and look what happens--a whole new format for savingadvice. I think I like it...

The sad sad news (the other part of the Oh My Goodness) is my son the Kid now appears to have what most people would see as a topic no one wants to talk about. He had a psychotic episode a few weeks ago (totally irrational uncontrollable behavior that he was hospitalized for) and has initially been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

This has changed our LIVES, emotionally, mentally and financially. (Already I have a hospital bill for $7,000, which scares me. I'll be calling my insurance company.) I've had several weeks to semi-adjust (I don't see a full adjustment since his behavior is now more potentially unpredictable). He appears to be doing fine on his current medication, but as a 21 year old is not willing to let me mother him much, which is all I want to do. He's also an adult in the medical world, which means I can't get much info from the doctors without his consent. So frustrating.

I've read a lot and prayed. I'm trying to reach out to people who might know what we're going through. We have a great church family. He just turned 21 and is attempting to get caught up in the college courses he's currently taking (he missed several classes), but I see that he's struggling.

I've found websites and information about the subject of Schizophrenia that's helping a lot. But I notice my finances are taking the back burner and I'm here at savingadvice to get some of my life back. My checking account is down to 26.33 and that's not helping my own mental state.

Everything is so connected--life, money, children, home, spirit, health. I'm out of whack right now, but will take steps to get it together. I'm so glad you all are still here!!

Quick Update & Christmas Lessons

December 22nd, 2009 at 01:22 am

It's been a little while. Took me a few minutes to find my own blog (smile).

I'm out of sorts this time of year since I work on our church's financial reports for the end of the year and not a lot on my own budget. So much to do, but I'll make it. I've been doing this same thing for the last 8 or 9 years so I know I'll make it....

I needed some motivation, though, and I came to the right place. I'm so motivated by everyone's blogs about the upcoming new year. I'm excited. It's budget-tweaking time and time to update my $20 challenge and sidebar.

I'm done with Christmas and somewhat over the budget I set when I count the gym membership I purchased (It was $335 for the year, prepaid.)

The kid is 20 and I'm trying to wean him of the expectation of stuff. But he did 'persuade' me to buy him a gym membership earlier, which counted as a gift that I wasn't even TRYING to buy him. He's been gushing grateful for it everyday and has met some new friends over the past few weeks, so it was a good gift, despite my reluctance. I also bought him boxers and socks on sale and found a pair of basketball shoes on clearance, spending an additional $60. I might give him $25 cash. Maybe $50. Hadn't decided yet. But I'm done.

My husband is harder to shop for--he claims to love everything I buy him, but most of the things I've bought him have remained hidden in a closet or dusty on a top shelf or in a pile for giveaway or otherwise mysteriously misplaced. We had a chat about my inept gift-giving, which he at first DENIED, but I had proof (slacks with the tags still on them and an empty broken CD case that he doesn't remember playing or receiving from me).

We agreed not to buy each other gifts.

Instead he wanted to donate to someone at our church who is struggling with Christmas gifts for 5 children. So we did that. I bought him chocolate. We might go out to a movie or something, maybe see Christmas lights. But I'm done, done, done. Have $300 left over in the Christmas account...a good start for next Christmas.

It's fun buying gifts if it's right and useful for the receiver, but not so much fun when it's been the wrong thing over and over. Plan to simplify even more next year. Maybe I'll just buy myself some gifts!!

Money Talks

September 29th, 2009 at 01:06 am

I've been lazy and unmotivated about the budget and tracking lately.

It could be the time of year. Or the fact that I've had a lot of money go out (new refrigerator, dental work, the insurance was due, the kid's laptop was repaired). Or the fact that there are now 2 people at home who are not on the same financial page as I am (the kid and the spouse) and that appears to drain me, even though I'm trying not to let it. (I got accustomed to the kid being away at college.)

Also, without a computer at home I haven't been regularly reading Savingadvice to keep myself motivated. I'm reading a lot of entries today in an attempt to get inspired and motivated.

I also feel like groceries have gotten out of control, but haven't tracked the amounts I've spent in the past few weeks. I'm hoping it's just my imagination.

The kid has asked me to buy him a gym membership for Christmas (a year's contract). I'm considering it, but I hate contracts. And a year contract is expensive by my tastes. But the kid will be happy with this one gift (I think) and he can use it all year and I won't do any further Christmas shopping for him, which will simplify things for me. (Except I might still buy him socks and underwear... what's Christmas without new socks and underwear?!) We'll see...

My new pay with my new job has stabilized and I have about $35 each paycheck that I want to add to savings goals. I haven't done anything about that yet either, but I need to work on that (on payday!) so that amount doesn't get absorbed into other expenses. I was going to add it to retirement, but think I'll split it between retirement and my Freedom Account. (I sound like I have a million dollars coming to me...I'm always trying to divide a dime!)

Just feeling sluggish about all things financial, but still grateful to read everyone's blogs for inspiration. Maybe if I balance the checkbook tonight, I'll find some motivation and discipline...

Home Care - New Refrigerator

September 22nd, 2009 at 01:23 am

Spoiled milk is gross!! We just replaced our most basic model increasingly luke-warm refrigerator with the most basic model we could find (freezer compartment on top)--no ice maker, no water, just a refrigerator. We found one for $399 plus delivery and removal costs, which we felt was a good deal. Actually, it was a great deal, since at home our refrigerated food (and milk) was spoiling and our ice cream was melting as we shopped.

But why did our refrigerator only last 11 years? My parents have a refrigerator that is 40 years old or nearly my age. It's old and worn (the refrigerator, not me), but it still works great. Their milk doesn't spoil. Their ice cream stays frozen. How is this possible?? I'm so jealous!! My household owned our 'old' refigerator for all of 11 years and it just conked out. And who likes shopping for refrigerators on their day off work??

It must be true...They just don't make some things like they used to...

News about the Kid

September 15th, 2009 at 01:03 am

Well, this has been an interesting summer.

Because the kid lost his scholarship, he waivered this fall semester about going back to the university he attended or remaining home with us and going to a community college to make up his credits and his GPA. (A decision made by him at the VERY last minute of registration. He failed every single class last semester.) Anyway, after a deep discussion of money, he's more mature about this then I expected he would be and despite my disappointment in all the wasted money, we are getting along pretty well. The bad news (besides the waste of money and the GPA) is that he's eating all my food and leaving all the lights on. The good news is community college is WAY more affordable then university.

Of course, his being home, means there's a transportation issue. His original plan for the summer was to work to earn some money to help purchase a replacement car for the car he totaled last September. He made some effort to look for employment, but not a grand effort as he was without transportation. Summer passed us by and no job.

He continued to think that I would purchase him another $3500 to $4500 car, that I would give in. We did go out to look at several used cars--I want a black one! he says or, Oooh, how about a Mitsubishi Gallant, he says, or How about an Acura Integra, he says. For a minute, I almost caved in, just like he thought I would. But Savingadvice friends, you'll be glad to know I didn't totally cave in.

He had $1000 in his savings account and I originally offered to add $1000 to whatever he saved from the 'summer employment'. (The $1000 in his account was there at the beginning of summer from previous income.) My spouse asked our mechanic if he knew of any used cars for sale and our mechanic happened to have a 1991 Honda 4 door hatchback Civic with a rebuilt engine for $1,400. We bought it. It's white and old and with a little rust, but I'm happy with it.

When it was in our driveway, we told the kid. He wasn't happy with it, because he's more concerned about appearance then anything, but I think he'll live. If he doesn't drive it, he can always walk. If he doesn't want to walk, he can try to catch a ride with someone or catch the bus if he can ever figure out our confusing bus routes. I feel fine about it all. I was finally making some progress in my finances and I just didn't FEEL like going backwards by $3500 or so. I realized I needed to take a stand for my finances because I'm the ONLY ONE WHO'S GOING TO TAKE A STAND. And I did it.

Thanks to all my savingadvice friends for your support!