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Starting anew

October 6th, 2019 at 04:46 pm

That darn hacker!
I lost several posts in the April through recovery time period. And, they had such interesting titles...Billions! Kids are expensive! Life is Expensive!

Oh well, it's not like I was creating great works of fiction. Smile I am reminded though of a Thomas Edison saying. "There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God, we can start anew."

For just a quick recap, life has continued and it has been expensive and busy. My daughter A made the regional volleyball team and my son R is playing fall rec lacrosse. Sports mean equipment, uniforms, league fees and associated travel expenses. Fortunately, I am able to cash flow the costs. And, what I can't, comes from savings (life expenses sinking fund.) Yes, I know I am not doing sinking funds the proper way but most everything gets paid for through cash flow and when there isn't enough, I take from savings. I'm fanatical about saving so I'm not so concerned.

What does concern me is retirement savings and whether I will have enough. Work has me traveling to Charlotte and I will have the opportunity to meet face to face with my financial advisor. He always tells me that I will have enough money. He says my frugal habits won't disappear in retirement and I'm fortunate to have a pension and health care (at a government group rate) in retirement. I am just afraid that my husband and I will live longer than anticipated. So, really, when can you ever feel comfortable with what you have saved for retirement. Maybe if I had $2 million or more saved but I'm not there.

Oh well, that is my worries. Everything else is generally good. I did recently have to finally go on blood pressure medicine. Everyone on my side of the family tree is has taken BP medicine and I'm now there at 54 years old. I am sure if I lost weight - yes, I am curvy in all the right and wrong places - my blood pressure will go down. I guess, I need to start a "Me" project and take time to walk, drink water, eat better, etc. As a mom, everyone else comes first. As a traveling employee, it is easier to work long hours on the road, grab fast food and go back to the hotel room, eat, binge Real Housewives and go to bed, only to do it all over again. I need to realize that at 54, my genes are starting to have an effect on my health. And, if I want to see my kids graduate from HS, college, marry, and kids, etc., I need to take better care of myself.

So, how is that financially related? I guess I will be looking into cost appropriate exercise options. And, maybe spending more of my per diem to eat better. I just have to start, one foot in front of the other....21 days makes a habit....

Frugal Texan, I don't have your commitment to do a stepbet or weight loss bet. But between you and CB in the City, you will be part of my motivators. Keeping posting your activities!

Sunday

February 3rd, 2019 at 06:57 pm

Our Sunday morning routine is to do our weekly shopping. Husband and I look at the Publix and Winn Dixie sales fliers, look through the refrigerator and pantry and make a shopping list. It never seems like a long list...and it never seems like an expensive list. We hit four stores (in order - Target, Aldi's, Publix and Winn Dixie) and get 99% of our shopping done. Sometimes, only some times, do we swing by Trader Joes on the way home. We are a fan of some TJ staples...all in total, we spend between $100 and $150 per week. This is supplemented with a monthly BJs warehouse run. Our grand total for groceries is usually 1,000 or so.

Thank you all for the comments to my last post. I approached the topic of "working on the relationship" and husband took it well. I mentioned, while sweeping the kitchen, that I had a dream that we were divorcing. He replied that didn't sound like a good dream. I responded with, you have to admit we need to work on our relationship. Not much was said then and I figured my comments had fallen on deaf ears, like usual. But today, during our Sunday routine - when we were in the car without kids - husband asked, what can we do to work on our relationship. I wasn't prepared and could only rattle off a few things. But the fact that he asked, make we feel better. At least I feel that he cares enough to follow up on the question. We talked while we drove to the stores and he acknowledged that I do more in the relationship.

I plan to call and see about a counselor so I can better form my thoughts around why I am miserable or what is missing in the relationship. People often suggest seeking help at church but that has never felt appropriate for me. Counseling is tough for me as it is contrary to my upbringing. But, you all are right, I need someone to listen.

Thank you all for the support....

Stressed....

February 1st, 2019 at 02:09 pm

Money comes and goes. Lately it seems that more goes than comes. I have tried various ways to budget and track spending. I just can't seem to make anything really work for me. (Yes, I have tried YNAB and EveryDollar.)

Right now, I have an excel spreadsheet that I track income and deduct monthly bills. If we don't overspend, we have a small surplus. But something always seems to come up. I budget on 2 paychecks per month and don't include unplanned extra income. Unplanned extra income means expense check surplus from my work travel and any amount over $500/bi-weekly pay check for my husband. He works an hourly paid job at a big box store so work hours vary each week and pay period (some weeks he gets 20 hours and some weeks he gets over 30 hours).

The way the budget is set up, we are living on last month's income and I automatically put money into savings (a little, but still). I rarely have to transfer money from savings into checking to pay bills. But I am still stressed on squeezing out more savings....or providing extras for my family.

We don't carry a credit card balance and we use the credit card for everything. It helps me track spending but when you get a $5,000 credit card bill, it takes my breath away. I have talked to my husband about paying cash but we both are uncomfortable carrying large cash amounts around. I get uneasy if I have more than $50 in my wallet.

I'm stressing over money because I wonder how we could afford to live if we were to separate. At 15 years, our marriage is stressed and we are functioning more as roommates. I keep dreaming about divorcing. Clearly, based on income, I would have to pay some sort of support should we divorce. Life would definitely have to downsize. I need to put my "big girl pants on" and have a serious conversation with my husband. But, I am afraid of the outcome.

I don't know what to do. I don't know if I feel this way because of horrible menopause or if I have really fallen out of love for my husband. I need to pray on this....

I am sad. I am stressed. I continue to function...

Sorry y'all...this money blog has turned out to be more therapy.....next one will be better....

Happy Friday!

January 18th, 2019 at 06:17 pm

Happy Friday Bloggers! Hope weather is being kind to you. And, if not, I hope you are safe and snugged up some place warm.

Today is a beautiful day in Florida and I have taken the opportunity to assess the flower beds. Many plants need to be trimmed back and some did not make it through the last cold snap. Yes, we get frost (& sometimes snow) where I live.

But the warmer weather makes me think of spring cleaning and getting the house in order. I need to go through what I have. My parents died in the recent years, first my dad and then my mom, and I kept some of their things. At the time I could not part with some of their possessions. But, to be honest with you and myself, the things I kept are just things. They sit in a pile and aren't being used. Someone who could use them may appreciate the rocking chair, the wall hangings, etc. I am working on letting go. I have watched Marie Kondo on Netflix. If I was honest with myself, my parent items rarely spark or bring me joy. So, this is my spring project!

Financially, we continue to be in good shape. Pay checks come in, bills get paid. We live on last month's income. The credit card bill is higher than usual having put some of the new car down payment and the extended warranty on it. I have a play to pay the card off in full by the due date.

The extraordinary car related expenses were charged to the credit card for the points. Credit card points pay for our vacation air fare. Hotel points from work travel pays for the lodging. So, when we travel, we only really need to pay for food, activities and souvenirs. I really am fortunate.

If I can figure it out, I plan to add to the side bar, the titles of books I am reading (& the amount I save by borrowing from the library). Thanks CB for the inspiration!

Sorry this isn't too financially related. Enjoy the rest of your day!

January 9th

January 9th, 2019 at 10:48 pm

And all is alright in my tiny corner of the world.

There is general peace and calm in the house. I was expected meltdowns as the kids returned to school after a long break. For them, and for me, early morning wake ups have been tough, but we are surviving.

My son has "matured" and is now showering every morning. This is a vast change/improvement from a month ago when I would be "when did you last shower/go shower" campaign each night. With boy showering in the morning, there are now three of us via for water pressure and hot water. Most days, I am in the shower by 5:10am and my daughter follows at 5:25am. If I am still showering, water pressure drops.

I write all this because now that four people are showering daily, I am scared of the water bill. But I guess I should just chalk it up to 2019 price increases. Everywhere I have been so far, there are nice little signs saying service prices have increased effective January 1st.

Prices go up, the expense column in the budget gets adjusted and less money gets saved. I should be happy that there is still some positive in the bottom line. I did qualify for a merit increase at work, albeit is somewhat small at 2.3%. And yes, compared to others, 2.3% salary increase is good. And yes, I'd rather have 2.3% increase on my salary than others. But, somehow, the increase never seems to get too much greater than the increase in expenses.


The other day riding home from work, I caught an interview on talk radio. It was with Dean Graziosi, author of Millionaire Success Habits. The tips discussed sound like the usual - don't have a greater life style than your income, don't go in debt, etc. But perhaps it is presented in a different way. I may borrow a copy from the library. (Would that tip be in the book? Borrow, instead of buy?) Has anyone else heard of this book? Any review to share?

Well, the house is quiet as the kids are at CCD tonight. I'm going to end now so I can enjoy a little light reading.

Best....

Dec 31 2018 wrapped up

January 1st, 2019 at 06:31 pm

Does anyone else do a personal balance sheet? Last year (yes, 2018), I started to do one quarterly. It looks great when you don't add on debts and the market is up.

But the market is down compared to the prior quarter end and we made an expensive purchase late yesterday. This past week, we noticed that our 2008 Honda Odyssey (with over 200K miles) developed a strange sound and started having a burning smell. We took it to the mechanic and the diagnosis was not good. Front right axle and and transmission were "going." So, after discussion of "do we put more $ into the car, or do we buy another car", we called my husband's friend, the GM at a local Honda dealership, and went and bought a car. Yes, we bought a new Honda Odyssey. That's right, not a "new to us" car but a new new car. Based on incentives offered, and a friends/family discount, the new Odyssey was only $1200 more than the best priced, low mileage used Odyssey on the lot. Yes, we could have gone with an older model with more miles but we keep cars to they die....

Next came the debate of finance or pay cash. I opted for a short term low interest rate loan because my credit union is paying better on savings than the cost of borrowing. So, now we have a car payment. It fits our cash flow but I'll be anxious to through more at the payment in order to pay off the loan sooner than later. I will definitely want the debt gone before I retire in 2021.

So, market has been volatile and we now have a consumer debt in addition to our mortgage. December 31 balance sheet is still good but not as good as past quarters. My net worth is still better than I thought it would ever be. I just need to relax, be diligent in paying down debt, mindful of future expenses and enjoy the new car smell while the mini-van has it.

One day, I'll work on an income statement....

2018 Financial Wins and Fails

December 28th, 2018 at 02:57 pm

Wins:

Cash flowed Christmas!

Have kept track of spending - excel spreadsheet of major bills and six months of grocery store spending. Who knew a family of four could spend $1000 per month on groceries alone.

Took lunch to work over 80% of the time, when working in the office.

Tracked travel expenses and transferred extra expense money to savings.

Saved ~$500 by borrowing digital books from the library. (Love my kindle!)

Reduced family eating out to once per week.

Started this blog!

Fails:

On average, spent over $1,000 in groceries each month.

Invested in the stock market and the market has been falling ever since. (Yes, you can blame me!)

Haven't paid anything extra on the mortgage.

Survived the holiday - Next!

December 28th, 2018 at 02:01 pm

New user error! I had a great entry written and now it is lost. Frown

The blog was about the cost of Christmas. Adding up receipts and guesstimating for expenditures not recorded, we spent about $900 on Christmas. This does not include the big ticket family gift of a cruise in July 2019. I think $900 sounds modest for a family of four. We spent about $600 on our kids gifts, small gifts from kids to my husband and I and food and decorations. We had a simple meal, using freezer and pantry item and only purchased a roast from the grocery store.

Now I am faced with the kids home from school until January 7th. I am sure we will see a movie or two and attend a hockey game or two. I will try to keep costs down.

While adding up the cost of Christmas, I realize that this amount was "cash flowed" from extra December income sources (extra in the paycheck from no social security deduction and an extra paycheck). I have been watching budgeting videos on Youtube. I am curious about sinking funds. I don't do sinking funds per say but move any extra $ in the checking account to savings.

I have tried YNAB and EveryDollar (ED) previously but could never quite figure out how to start. We live on last month's income (meaning that I have already set up to pay January bills and we still have money left over) but I can't figure out how to start YNAB and ED. Do I start with $0 and allocate the next paycheck received?

Any advice on YNAB or ED and sinking funds would be appreciated....

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays

December 24th, 2018 at 07:02 pm

FYI, this is not a $$$ related post.

This morning, my kids and I were debating whether it was appropriate to say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. My son told me that one of his public school teachers counseled a classmate for saying Merry Christmas. I thought the "counseling" was probably exaggerated but it prompted our talk.

I have always wished friends and others Merry Christmas. I say it and accept the wishes out of wanting to express general love and respect and share what gives me hope and purpose. I am not offended when friends wish me a Happy Hanukkah. I accept the Happy Hanukkah with the same.

So, new blog friends, please accept my Merry Christmas with the spirit and intent meant. I wish you all well.

Family COO - Let me introduce myself

December 22nd, 2018 at 08:42 pm

Hi all,
I've been lurking for sometime now, commenting when I felt I could add to the discussion. Otherwise, I was a silent member of the audience.

I'm hoping to use this blog to document my trials and tribulations. I am the primary breadwinner in the family, and I have a good job. My job does require me to travel, so the downside is I miss out on evenings home with the kids. But, my husband would say, on the upside, you miss out on evenings home with the kids. It's all perspective, I guess.


I make decent money, have great benefits and I still feel as if I'm struggling to make ends meet. I have a great retirement account and plenty of liquid funds. I just have the mindset that maybe it won't be enough. My financial adviser tells me that I will have more than enough money for retirement and that I'll likely leave money behind for my children. Yet somehow, I can't enjoy spending money.

I would love, love, love to have a LV Carry All bag but the thought of carrying a $1200 purse/tote chokes me. I would love to enjoy dinner out with my family (4 of us) and the thought of spending $80 - $100 on dinner (with tip), makes me choke.

I know that I am blessed. I just wish I could relax and enjoy what I have.

Does anyone else feel the same way?