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Final post for 2013

January 1st, 2014 at 04:15 am

Im so ready to dust my hands of 2013 and get on with the new year!

2013 was a year of financial success, in that I was promoted at work, we paid off massive debt and boosted retirement savings.

But emotionally, it was a train wreck kindof year. A painful test of the marriage - ugh, and our loss of little Z (foster child who was placed with bio-gma after 2.5 years with DD2).

I moved out of my city home and into a 390 sq ft country home- (and am now on month #8!) Small space living has its benefits, but country living on a well has proven to be more stressful than I imagined, especially this past month with the frozen pipes. I am still undecided if I will continue here after the year is up or not.

Ready to put the year behind me, and focus on the excitement of, with the exception of the houses and 5th wheel, being completely debt free. Smile And REALLY heading towards retirement goals.

Personally, I have set goals to misplace 5 lbs per month- somewhere other than my waist and hips Smile and to carve out time one weekend a month for me.

Well, here's to a Happy New Year to all!

Our 2013 numbers

December 29th, 2013 at 06:49 am

The hub is home from Alaska. Yesterday, the poor guy slept almost all afternoon, evening and night. He has been working crazy long hours- then got stuck in Seattle on the way home because of fog, and ended up sleeping in the airport. Needless to say, by the time he got home he was exhausted.

Unfortunately, this morning he was heading outside and slipped on the top step off the porch and landed on his back against one of the steps. OUCH. He took a muscle relaxer and pain pill..and has been out most of the day again today.

Since I've had quite a bit of free time, I decided to crunch numbers to see how we did this past year.

We started 2013 with a staggering $63,226 of debt ( not including the houses). We ended the year with $24,000- which means we paid off $39,226 or 62%. WOW. We anticipate paying the remaining $24,000 by May.

My retirement fund has done well this past year. At the beginning of the year the value- $71,519 and it has grown to $112,886- a $41367 increase!

The value of our homes has increased a combined $32,600. We owe appx $410k on the two homes, their value is appx $445k. A nice increase from where we bottomed out the past couple years (we were seriously in the red for a while). At least we are back in the black on paper on these homes.

I feel like we are finally making strides towards paying everything off and eventually retiring. That is, if I can keep the hub on his feet. Smile

Im looking forward to setting our goals for 2014. I expect a fairly nice annual pay increase in February- which will be split between increasing the mortgage payments and the 401k contributions.

2014 Budget pre-work

November 22nd, 2013 at 05:40 am

I will be working on our 2014 budget soon and I want to make sure to include a few things that we didn't include in 2013.

1. A line item for cold weather gear for the hub. This year we spent just over $500- boots, under armor, caps, gloves, socks, etc. So I will add a new line item for $42 per month.

2. Donations for co-workers and their kids/grandkids. Holy canoly has this year been an expensive one for all the requests for every-thing-a-thons, raffles, popcorn, cookie dough, etc. We used to have a policy against these solicitations ..but apparently that is no longer the case. I understand the importance of fundraising, but it is frustrating to have so many requests happen at work. My solution is to determine an amount I am comfortable with and make the donations accordingly. When it is gone, its gone.

3. Challenge every line item expense. Is it still necessary, or is it time to reduce or eliminate? I think this is an important thing to do each year.

4. Increase our 401ks according to pay increases and debt payoff. I anticipate a 5-6% pay increase in February. We will also be credit card debt free by May. Once that happens, our 401k's should be increased accordingly.

I don't want to lose track of these.

Update on Z-
It all boils down to next week. As of today, DD2 has been instructed to pack all of Zs belongings and drop him off on Tuesday morning at the DHS office- where he will meet gramma and fly out that day.

However, as of today, there is a court hearing set for Monday that may reverse the decision- so that bio-dad can continue his custody-placement requirements. His attorney says he has a case and may well get the transfer stopped.

What a roller-coaster.

Paid off my car today!

November 17th, 2013 at 04:08 am

As planned, I paid my car off today! I am excited that our repayment goals are on track!

This leaves the house payments, the trailer payment and two credit cards. One CC is zero interest. The other, is from my job and we earn 1% cash back plus a 10% rebate at the end of the year. Regardless, the latter will be the next to be paid off, which will happen by April.

The car that I paid off today is a 2005 Kia Amanti that we bought used in 2007. It has 80k miles on it. I hope to have many years left on it. We will continue to pay 'payments' into savings to either pay for repairs, or pay for a new car someday.

Recap of the weekend at the lodge with the kids

November 17th, 2013 at 02:10 am

We are enjoying our last night at the lodge tonight. It has been a wonderful weekend.

All four of my kids, their spouses, DD3's friend, the kids uncle, the hub and I were here to enjoy it.

On Thursday night, we arrived and ordered pizzas. We started the annual Christmas puzzle and played a new card game that I found online. It was a blast.

Friday, we all hung out at the house, visiting, watching a movie, putting the puzzle together, playing card games, shuffle board,


the hot tub...such fun. Friday night we had a Costume party. Ds and his wife were a gansta and flapper girl, DD1 and her hub- the sheriff from Walking dead and a zombie...everyone else just dressed up comical. DD1 made chimichangas for dinner and we played the card game again.

Today, Saturday, we went to the outlet stores and shopped for a while, then came back and sat in the hot tub, worked on the puzzle, played shuffle board and watched another movie. Tonight DS and DIL are making an Olive Garden inspired dinner. We are all working on the puzzle to finish it by morning.

This has been an amazing weekend. All the kids have enjoyed their mini-get-away.

This house is gorgeous. Its about 5000 sq ft. Has 7 master bedrooms, each with its own bath- so the kids all have their own space. Their is a huge gourmet kitchen, a big living room and a big entertainment room upstairs. The master bedroom, that the hub and I stayed in has a soaking tub, which I have thoroughly enjoyed.

This was not an inexpensive trip, but it was money well spent in the amount of time I spent with the kids and the time we have enjoyed. I think everyone has had a wonderful time and have created memories that will last. It will be sad to leave tomorrow.

This will hopefully become a biannual tradition that we can look forward to.

The view from the back, upstairs balcony-

A potential blessing for Z

November 3rd, 2013 at 02:56 am

DD2 got a call out of the blue yesterday from Zs bio dad and paternal grandmother. (Dad and his family have not been in the picture since Z was taken into the foster system almost 2.5 years ago) It sounds like dad took steps over 6 months ago to get himself cleaned up and was ready to see Z. The family was together for great-grandmas birthday and wanted to see Z. Turned out, dad has been clean for 6 months, has a job, a home, and really wants a chance with (custody of) Z- they asked if they could see him today and DD2 got permission and met them. And what makes me smile, is that dad/family are local. Z would be nearby. COuld this be our answer to prayer? I am not sure. But Zs transition to his maternal grandmother has stalled so many times, for so many reasons, maybe there is a bigger plan for him. After the visit today, dad is going to make the phone calls on Monday to see what he can do. We aren't getting our hopes too high, but this could be a potential game changer for Zs destiny.

This past week was very busy, but here are the highlights:

I received my 3rd quarter eval and it was very positive. I have grown into the new title and am on track to get a very good end of year eval/raise. (5-5.5% raise!) Big Grin

I learned my office will be moving (our department is moving) to an older building that the job owns. It will most likely be for a year, while a new addition is built on the current location. But it is going to be a change. My current office has beautiful furniture and a big window/view...my new workspace (maybe office?) will have no windows and the furniture will most likely be old pieced-together items from storage. Its all good. I am of a mindset that I can work anywhere, so long as I have a desk and a computer. (Kinda like moving from my big house to this little house...its not what you look at that matters, its what you see.)

The really interesting thing about the new work location is that it is literally 5 minutes from my house in town. Hmmm...

We are about 3 weeks away from paying off my car!! This is one of our BHAG action steps! (BHAG= Big Hairy A## Goal, which is to retire by 60)

We will be down to a zero interest CC, which must be paid off in April, and our final CC, which will be paid off by April-May. After that, we have our 5th wheel and the house to payoff. 5th wheel will be paid off 1st qtr 2015. House, by BHAG time.

Tonight my sweet little 4 yo granddaughter is sleeping over. She is such a gorgeous little girl. Blonde hair down to her behind and great big blue eyes. And very sweet. We are having fun. She is also Z's 'big sister" She was 1 1/2 when Z moved in with them.

Tomorrow I plan to take little miss home and then have some free time in the afternoon/evening. One week until vacation!!

Day 1 - Christmas Countdown

October 27th, 2013 at 05:04 pm

I received a post on Facebook this morning that today is the kickoff for Christmas Countdown. This is a six week plan that helps you get ready for Christmas. Where did this year go? My goodness. Anyway, I do find that organizing ahead of time helps me avoid last minute craziness for the holiday.

I don't have anything on the agenda today outside of football....housework, laundry and making soup in the slow cooker. All the latter are chores that will help keep me on track for the work week ahead. It is a beautiful sunny day, so I should be able to hang all of the laundry outside. (yay!) I splurged on some wonderful smelling fabric softener just for line dry days. I cant wait to see how the sheets turn out!!

The hubs employer was sold recently. (this is the third time since he has worked for them) The good news is that his new 401k has a 5% match! He faxed off the paperwork this morning to enroll and get started. We will start with 5% and up the amount as we pay things off. My 401k has an 8% match, which I have always taken advantage of.

The value on our homes continues to rise. I sure hope this trend holds until we sell the city house next summer. I would love to show a profit for that purchase. By then, we should be debt free except for the country house. Our plan then is to maximize 401k savings and focus on paying off the country house. All part of our BHAG goal of me retiring by 60 and the hub cutting back at 55. (He is 7 years younger than me)

Time to start the laundry and get the soup going. I hope everyone has a fabulous day!








Bosses Day!

October 17th, 2013 at 02:52 am

The hub left for Alaska today. Next time he is here, I will be on vacation for a week! Only 3 more weeks...during the vacation my kids, their spouses, the hub and I and a couple of others will enjoy a long weekend at a mountain getaway. We have planned a "Halloween Party" one night...it will be November, but a dress up party is always fun, and by choosing a Halloween theme, we can get everything on sale right after Halloween! Frugal is good!

Today was bosses day. I got the most beautiful roses and card from my staff. I was so touched by their thoughtfulness.

I realized today that I had a $100 gift card to Winco in my wallet. This was a card we got for the hubs aunt back in Feb. She used about $40, reloaded it back to $100 and gave it back to us because she doesn't shop at Winco normally. (?) I tucked it in my wallet and forgot about it until today. So, after work I stopped off and did some stock up shopping. Winco has some great prices- so I got quite a bit- and I still have $33 on the card for another shopping trip. (small house living means only stocking up what you will use in the next few weeks- otherwise things start spilling out into living space and, for now, the trunk of my car is the holding spot for Christmas gifts, so that space isn't an option- lol)

Friday night and all day Saturday, DD1 and I are attending a women's leadership course. A friend of mine is kicking off a new business and this is her first weekend course. We are helping her work the bugs out of the program. I have been to similar classes, DD1 has not- so we will be able to provide my friend two different perspectives. I am eager to help my friend and to go through the course.

The CEO at my job and I needed to go on a road trip yesterday- we spent 5 hours roundtrip in a car together. Things have been so busy and are changing so much at my job that I was concerned about my position and possible changes. So, I took the opportunity to ask...and was very pleased with the responses. I enjoyed the day immensely- and am re-energized. And best of all, the results from the road trip gave me a nice fat checkmark on a project Ive been working on!! On to the next project!

The little house if very quiet tonight. The hub is gone, DD3 is visiting a friend in ALaska, the pets are sleeping. Quiet is good.

Absolutely no news on our sweet little Z.

Son's visit!

October 14th, 2013 at 01:12 am

My son and grandson have been here visiting all weekend. What a wonderful treat that has been. And as an added bonus, my son sprayed the houses for pests- which will hopefully help keep those eight legged creatures away. (major arachnophobia here) We ate out a couple of times this weekend- once at Olive Garden and once at the mexi restaurant. We took advantage of OGs buy one meal, take a meal home deal- so we will enjoy a second round sometime in the next day or two.

It is such a beautiful day here. We have all the bedding washed and on the line, the hub is mowing, and he is smoking some ribs for dinner. It smells so good out there. Fall is my favorite season. I love the colors, the foods, a cup of hot tea, wearing layers, football, and enjoying a warm fire in the pit when its not raining. Today is exactly that kind of day.

The Packers won, so that always makes it a great Sunday!!

Tomorrow is a training day, so my job is closed to the public, but staff will work. Typically, Columbus Day is used for training. I have heard that tomorrow will be used more as a fun day since this has been a crazy busy, successful year. Whatever it turns out to be, we work fewer hours as we don't have to be there until 10am, so I get to sleep in!

On Tuesday I make a round trip over to the coast for work, not staying over night. Then on Wednesday, the hub leaves for Alaska. Then, it is back to the single routine for 3 weeks.

Miles and more miles

October 9th, 2013 at 12:06 am

The hub and I met for lunch today. No special reason. He was running errands and I was ready to get out of the office for a while. We met at a local Mexican restaurant that serves lunch specials, is quick, friendly and the food is always good. We had a nice visit- we are still working on things- so an impulsive lunch now and then is probably a good thing. There are times when fixing what's been broken is easier said than done- especially when it involves a long distance relationship at least 50% of the time. But so far so good.

We will just have something simple and light for dinner tonight.

I need to buy the hubs airline ticket for his November trip home, but he is only 400 miles away from enough miles to fly free. So I am going to wait until the points for his trip back to Alaska hit his mileage account so that we can use points instead of cash. Once that is done, his flights for the rest of the year are booked. (I booked his December flight a few months ago when we had enough points because that trip is almost always double the cost of flights during other months.)

I still have a $270 credit in my mileage account from a trip we cancelled earlier this year. The credit expires in January, so I need to use it or lose it before then. I also have a credit for a $100 companion ticket and can use both at the same time. I am keeping an eye out for ideas - maybe I can book a flight for DD2 and I to go visit Z once he gets settled.

(Z's departure has again been postponed. Apparently DHS didn't realize that his state-appointed attorney has not yet approved for him to be taken from Oregon. I am assuming at this point, this is just a technicality, but it sure makes it tough for everyone concerned when the right hand doesn't communicate with the left.)

We have had a trip planned since earlier in the year to the mountain resort we like to go to. This trip (4 days) is for the adults (all of my kids and their spouses or guest). All of the grandbabies will be with other grandparents that weekend. I am getting very excited. I never have all the kids together for more than a meal and rarely where we can just enjoy big people fun. The house we rented is 8 bedrooms, and beautiful. I wish we could do this yearly- but am happy we can do it at least this year- it's been a complicated year for everyone and I know the 'down time' will be enjoyed and appreciated by all.

FIrst REALLY cold morning in the little house! Brrr

October 4th, 2013 at 11:36 pm

Today was payday for both the hub and I. We are on track to pay off my car loan balance, $8800, by next month. I know we should pay down the credit card instead, but I want to go for the smaller victory first- especially since the larger credit card will be paid off by April and the other, which is zero interest, will be paid by May.

The little house was very cold this morning. We are skirting it, which hopefully will help. I currently have one small space heater and the heating system, which runs off propane. But I only have a 15 gallon propane tank and I am not sure how long that will last. If I need to add another space heater or get a larger one, I will. A large, 90 gallon propane tank will cost $3-4 a gallon to fill and I have to fill it twice a year or I will get charged a "low usage" fee. I am not sure I am willing to make that big of a financial commitment. I don't mind being chilly, but when you can see your breath, it's too darn cold! One way or another this needs to be remedied before the hub leaves for Alaska on the 16th.

The hub left with our oldest grandson, 9, this morning to go "hunting" (which is really a trip to the woods to shoot guns at non-living things, sit around the fire and drink beer - regular for the hub and root beer for grandson.) They are due back on Monday- I was going to go join them, but learned a few days ago that this is Z's last weekend with us. DHS delivered this message to DD2 so I am assuming it is true this time...heartbreaking and true. I want to spend all the time I can with him. DD2 and I may take Z (2.5) and granddaughter (4) up to the camp for an afternoon - not sure yet.

I am ready for the weekend. I sure wish work weeks were 4 days instead of 5!!

Small space living and the unique challenges it brings

September 29th, 2013 at 11:48 pm

I got my hair cut/colored today. It turned out really cute, which always makes spending the extra money 'more better'. Big Grin I love when she turns the chair around and the result makes me smile. Ive been going to this lady for about 6 months and so far, Ive loved each cut/style.

It was wonderful to spend a weekend at home after being gone so much. I have caught up on all the laundry and got some deep cleaning done.

Small space living, when you are used to living in a much bigger home, is a constant challenge. It takes organization, planning and discipline on a regular basis. Even just a few days of not staying on top of things = clutter. I am still working on finding homes for everything.

It also presents unique challenges...like, what do I do with the Christmas presents I am picking up? There just aren't many storage spaces, and I DONT want the gifts getting ruined by not storing them correctly. Right now, they will hang out in the trunk of my car until I come up with a better spot where they wont be discovered or stumbled upon by an unknowing recipient. I thought I had claimed the extra space in a spare room down at the big house, but DD3 and the roommates have also started using the space for their extra possessions- and they haven't organized things well- so the room is currently full. However..a little time spent organizing, stacking and weeding out should help immensely. Perhaps once that is accomplished, I will have a hiding space for the gifts.

It has rained off and on all weekend- the washer and dryer are down at the big house- which is about a half acre away from the little house and the ground between is some grass, some dirt (which is mud after a few days of rain). I decided to go ahead and get a pair of rain boots to wear for this and other chores. The girls and I stopped at Costco yesterday and they were trying to talk me into a pair of Bogs, at $56. While they were comfy and warm, they were more than what I wanted to spend. I wanted to look online. I found a pair of rain shoes- rather than boots, which will be easier to get on and off and will suit the purpose. They are in pretty spring colors (off season) on clearance for $23. They are sloggers, rather than bogs, but for $30 less, they will be perfect for me. I have snow boots for anything colder or for longer periods outdoors.

I stopped by DD1s today (the city house) and filled 3 gallon jugs up with water. I also picked up my space heater. The little house has been chilly in the late evenings and early mornings, so the heater will be nice to take the chill off. She offered to list a few things on craigslist for me that I don't need- one is a really nice gas stove that was in the home when I moved in, but when I remodeled the kitchen, I took it out and its just been in the garage. I anticipate selling it for at least $2-300.

I have a small pork loin in the slow cooker today. It smells amazing. It was $5.27 and should last two-three meals. Unless, DD3 comes up...then, it may all be gone tonight. Smile

This weekend has flown by. Another Sunday night wondering where all the time went- and mentally preparing for the busy week ahead.

The roast is gone! and Christmas shopping has begun!

September 29th, 2013 at 03:25 am

I cooked the beef roast in the slow cooker today. I found a good looking recipe in my Fix It and Forget It Christmas cookbook that called for the roast, beef bullion, au jus, and Italian dressing. It smelled so wonderful all afternoon. DD3 walked up to the little house, smelled it cooking and instantly asked if she and the roommates could have some for dinner. (Isnt that the ultimate compliment?)

So, instead of having leftovers for a couple of days, I enjoyed dinner tonight and now it is all gone. My oh my was it delicious..and the gravy it made was fantastic. I think we have found a new favorite.

I started Christmas shopping today. I spent the day with DD1, DD2 and Z- and the girls suggested some great gifts for the grandbabies! I feel like I made a dent in the shopping for the little ones and have plenty of ideas to keep my eyes open for.

I stopped by the library and picked up a few books that were on reserve, one is the Complete Tightwad Gazette; another Money Secrets of the Amish. I am rereading the Tightwad Gazette, the other is one I have not read yet. Looking forward to reading both.

Z had a great time with us today. He was the center of attention and such a joy to us girls. He wanted a little stuffed pug puppy, so gramma bought it for him. $3.99. He carried it all day, hugging and kissing and playing.

Flu shot, payday and TGIF

September 28th, 2013 at 12:02 am

Today was flu shot day at work. Each year we can get a free flu shot- which I do. It seems to work, I havent had the flu in years (knocking on wood). My arm is just a little sore for a day afterwards.

Today was the hubs payday. It was $101 more than usual. I need to let it sit in the checking account until all the rent money is received since Monday is when the two house payments hit the account. Once I receive rent, which is usually around the 5th, I will put the $101 towards the Visa.

The values on our homes keep rising. It wont be long until I can (hopefully) cancel the MPI on the city house, which will save about $80 per month. And hopefully, we are not witnessing another bubble waiting to burst.

I am so glad it is Friday and that I am not going anywhere this weekend. I really need to catch up at home. Our weather has NOT been conducive to hanging my laundry out on the line..so I need to figure out a new system for laundry and hanging indoors or using the dryer - which is a little less enjoyable for me- and will mean an extra trip down to the big house, or hanging around until the clothes dry. Which, normally, wouldnt be a concern except that between my house and the big house is about a half acre of mud during rainy times. May need to invest in some slicker type boots. Hmmm.

I have two crockpot meals planned this weekend, which will leave lots of leftovers. A pork roast and a beef roast which I will use for tacos, sandwiches, etc.

The hub comes back home Monday night- but he is going 'hunting' (which is really camping with the guys, drinking beer and BS-ing around a camp fire.) He will be gone next Thur-Sun or Mon. I will probably go up on Sat morning and spend a couple days- enjoy the new trailer, read, relax, etc.

Still no word on Z. sigh. At this point, no news is good news I suppose- because we can enjoy him for a little longer.

Weekend home and an update on Z

September 22nd, 2013 at 04:31 am

I had such a fun Saturday.

My big trip today was to the library. I checked out 7 new books and a new book on CD-(free!) then stopped by the store and got food for the next several days. ($32)

Then I came home- cleaned and did some laundry.

It was a cloudy, rainy day and my clothesline was not as effective as it normally is-so I had to default to the clothes dryer. I left some clothes for tomorrow, hoping for warmer, drier weather.

Tomorrow is a free day. I am a Green Bay Packers fan and the game is televised here, so I am a happy camper. I will watch the game, make some split pea soup in the slow cooker, finish laundry and get ready for the busy week ahead.

Update on Z

The latest news is that lil Z will be leaving us in 7-14 days. After so many missed deadlines...it sounds like the final steps will happen quickly. At least that is what we are hearing. Taking this news day to day until we know for certain, but my heart is heavy thinking it may be.

Late fees suck

September 19th, 2013 at 01:38 am

Ouch.

Forgetting to pay a $33 and incurring a $15 fee on top of it, sucks! I will call tomorrow and see if they will reverse it. I have a good history with them, so hopefully they will refund the fee.

I don't check my home email often enough and totally missed the electronic bill. So, I changed the email address on the account to my work email.

THis reminded me to go in an renew library books that were due today. At least I didn't incur fees there too. I noticed when I was on the site that one of the books I reserved is being shipped to my branch and will be ready on Saturday to pick up. Your money or your life. I remember reading that book and the Tightwad Gazzette years ago, which started me thinking about finances differently. I am looking forward to rereading it.

Tonight is my last night at the condo. I will certainly miss the big soaking tub with jets and the view. The bed is even amazingly comfy.

I have been a cheap date for my job this week. My one and only meal out was lunch today. $8 for a sandwich- I am not hungry tonight, so the only other expenses are for the pot pie and tv dinner I had here at the condo.

This week should have been a no-spender for me, but I have been doing some Christmas shopping online and have ordered a few gifts.

Today was absolutely gorgeous. Clears skies and warm, but not hot. My trainings have gone well- tomorrow I train all day and then head home. I will be home until Monday, and then we are coming back over for two days.

We put new carpet in the rooms that we had to replace in the country house. The cost was $1200. Since we are getting $725 per month that we weren't getting before, it will be paid back in under 2 months and the girls are happy. The only other expense we will have is fixing the wood stove, which the hub will do when he is home next.

I suppose it is time to start packing. Once I leave in the morning, I wont come back to the condo again before heading home and I don't want to forget anything.

Working at the condo!

September 18th, 2013 at 12:45 am

I am back at the condo working this afternoon.

This morning I went to one of our locations and conducted training and took care of a few things. Now I am taking a quick lunch before diving into work. It is so relaxing to work away from the phone and normal interruptions- especially with this gorgeous ocean view.

Happy me.

I could easily retire somewhere on the coast with an ocean view. I never get tired of hearing the waves crash, or gazing out at the water, the waves, the sunsets- and I love the smell of ocean air. I grew up in Southern Cali not too far from the beach. I spent all my free time on the beaches.

But I digress from all things financial.

We don't have any extra expense type trips planned until our family trip in November- so for the next couple of months all extra money will be applied towards debt. The new 5th wheel took a chunk out of our debt repayment plan- but we will still have all debt paid off (except the houses and the 5th wheel) by the end of the first quarter 2014.

I am pleased with the growth in my 401k and the value of the homes. The value of both homes is rising nicely. Our plan right now is to put the city house on the market late Spring. The value has increased so that we are back in the black and stand to make a nice profit. But until we sell it, that is just a guesstimate. One of the wise things I did when I bought the house was to purchase within a very desirable school district and within walking distance of the high school (even though my kids were already out of school).

Hopefully, life will cooperate.

For today- I will enjoy the view and the fabulous afternoon breeze.

Ciao!

Another FANTASTIC girls trip!

September 16th, 2013 at 02:58 am

This has been a busy whirlwind week!

I worked OT every day last week so that I could get off early on Friday to head to Portland with my daughters for our annual 'girls trip'. We had such a great time.

We left on Friday and got back early this evening. We shopped, had some wonderful meals, visited and relaxed. We even sneaked...or is it snuck? in a chick flick last night.

We hit the Saturday Market...which is always lots of fun. And when we came to the handcarved wooden spoons, we all felt the tug of loss that nana wasn't with us. But I am so thankful that she is in so many memories with my girls.

I have shared it before...but here is a picture of my mom at the Saturday Market one year after complaining she was cold. We warmed her up...and framed this shot for my dad for Christmas. He opened it, and about fell on the floor laughing. Good times.


I tracked all of my spending and stayed within my budget- We actually ate fairly inexpensively. Our meals all came in under $10 per person. Breakfast each morning was included in the cost of the hotel. It took two tanks of gas at about $60 per tank. Our hotel, which was a two bedroom condo, was $130 per night. I bought a kindle cover for my kindle. It is leather, normally $80 on sale for $9. What I like about it is that it folds into a stand- which I have never had!

I bought some new work clothes at the outlet stores. I got 3 tops, a sweater and 3 pair of pants all for $133. I really needed new work clothes.

Tomorrow I head to the coast for most of the week to do more training- which means expenses this week will be covered by my job. Big Grin ie...inexpensive for me!

I sure enjoyed my time with the girls this weekend. They are so busy and getting them to myself for two days was a real treat. I value the times I get with them greatly.

I was able to get Christmas lists for several grandkids and kids. I even ordered a couple gifts on Amazon on the drive home!

Goals and Action Steps

September 8th, 2013 at 11:49 pm

The hub left for Alaska this morning. He will be gone for three weeks. During the next three weeks, my plan is to focus on our budget and goals.

Goal #1- tied to one of our biggest budget busters- is to eat out no more than one meal each week. My action steps are to create a meal plan each weekend for the upcoming week; and cook dinners and take lunches/snacks from home.

I am cooking some Hawaiian chicken in the slow cooker today and will make some rice to go with it. Enough for dinner today, lunch and dinner tomorrow. Any leftovers after that I will freeze for another time. I plan to make a lime chicken on Tuesday night, again enough for 2-3 meals.

I previously agreed to dinner and lunch out on Wednesday and Thursday respectively with friends. These will come out of my allowance.

Next weekend my daughters and I are going to Portland. I am very much looking forward to this time together and have funds in our vacation account to cover.

Outside of this, I plan to plug the holes in the budget and stick to the plan.

Today I am cooking, my laundry is on the line, the housework is getting done...all things that make life easier during the week.

Goal #2 is TRACK and stay within budget for all discretionary spending. Discretionary spending is the spending that comes out of the food and miscellaneous account. My action steps are to maintain a spreadsheet on this account just like I do with our monthly bills. If this is ineffective, then plan B is to use envelopes and cash for these line items.

A family friend, who is also a carpet installer, is coming over tomorrow to give us a bid on carpeting two rooms in the big house. Our budget is $500, installed- so I hope he can pull that off.. We are renting the big house to DD3 and two of her friends and are making inexpensive repairs for now. We will re-evaluate what to do long term next spring.

Update on Z:

Once again, a one month timeline has been set for Z to relocate to bio-gramma. All that is left is for Oregon to approve and then he will be flown to his new home by his case worker. However, we have had the timeline come and go so many times it is hard to know if this will be it.

He has spent 26 of his 31 months with us.

Reality on a spreadsheet- time to reset

September 2nd, 2013 at 11:25 pm

I am feeling a little better today. I have been taking OTC meds for allergies and am actually asthma free today! That doesn't happen often- so I am going to stick with the allergy meds and see if it continues to help.

Last night, I decided to put all of our discretionary spending for the last two months on a spreadsheet. WOW.

The categories were food, eating out, gas and miscellaneous spending. If I was scoring us on each category we would get a B, F, B and D in those categories for how close we stuck to the budget. But I showed it to the hub, who actually is not too interested in how the finances are budgeted and I think he got it.

So, I am not sure what method we will use to keep us better on track, but the goal is to come in much closer to the budget in the future.

I know some of the spending was for the new trailer and stocking it. I know I was less focused on staying on track because of everything that was going on with the relationship issues. Its just time to hit the reset button and start again.

DD3 has another friend who needs a place to live, so we are going to carpet the third bedroom in the big house and she and her 2yo daughter are going to rent it. This will bring the rental income to $725mo for that house. It is still well under the payment of $1300 mo, but it is $725 more than we were getting and as part of the deal, the girls will feed and care for the hubs two outside dogs and pet sit for my dog and cat when we go on vacations or when I need to work away from home. The hubs wood business is on this property, as well as the little house we are living in, so it still makes sense to keep it.

We will be out of town this week with my job, then, next Sunday, the hub flies back to Alaska for the rest of the month. I am going to challenge myself to see how frugally I can live while he is gone. The 13-15th I am going to Portland with my girls, but aside from that, I should be able to keep expenses down to a minimum. Hmmm...I see a personal challenge headed my way. Big Grin

Vacation

August 25th, 2013 at 12:03 am

Greetings from the last night of vacation!

We have enjoyed a peaceful week along a river in our new 5th wheel. It has been sooo nice. We arrived at the campground on Monday afternoon. There is much to be said about arriving after the weekend as most of the sites were available! We picked out a really nice one, where the river rushes over the rocks and drowns out all other noise. The campground was $18 per night- or $90 for the 5 nights.

Here is a view from the campground:




On Wednesday night, a big thunderstorm passed over. The sky grew dark and the clouds boomed for hours. It rained most of the night. We sat outside under the awning until the wind started blowing the rain our way. Then, we came inside and enjoyed the show from the warmth of the trailer.

I checked out lots of books from the library and brought them with. Books on frugality, cookbooks, a couple of novels, a book on ancient ruins, travel books. 15 books in all. And I have enjoyed them immensely.

The hub fished, we sat outside next to the river for hours on end, went for walks and even enjoyed two of the daughters when they came for a visit. (The campground is just an hour from home)

Tonight, we came to a full hookup campsite *($32) (11 miles down the road) so that we could dump and clean the trailer before heading home in the morning.

We cooked all but two meals at camp. There is a cute, rustic restaurant within walking distance of the campground that makes good old fashioned burgers and homemade pie...we went there twice. A real treat!

It is always sad when vacation comes to an end. This is no exception- but it has been a very enjoyable week filled with new awesome memories!

Who needs new toys when there is imagination..

August 11th, 2013 at 05:56 pm

For the last few days my sons kids (5 and 3) have been staying with me. DD3 has taken care of them during the day while I work, and I took over after work. It has been so much fun.

Before they got here, I considered buying some new toys for them to play with while here...but decided not to. I am so glad I did not.

We have an old hand-me-down wooden swing set with a slide, a wooden fort that the hub built, a smaller playhouse that my parents bought at a yard sale for $15 about 7 years ago, a few old Tonka trucks and two acres.

The kids found a frog, and set him up with a "pond" in an old bucket. Even used some oak leaves as lily pads.

They each got a bowl to fill with interesting rocks.

They each found a "special hideout" on the property. Not really hideouts at all, but somewhere that was theirs to claim. A stack of scrap wood and some bushes were all they needed.

They learned how to start the washing machine and pour in soap and then watch for the rinse cycle to add conditioner. Sitting on top of the washer while waiting for the washer to finish spinning was fun.

They each have a special blanket that they take everywhere. They washed and line dried their own blankets and were so proud of how nice they smelled and that THEY did it all by themselves. Hanging clothes and checking to see if they were dry was fun....and then there is always the hiding places in hanging sheets and towels.

We sat outside at night and stargazed. I learned they like to sit in my lap because I am the "soft and fluffy" gramma. Smile (Out of the mouths of babes)

My dog and cat were very patient. My cat tends to not hang around when little ones are here, but surprisingly, he allowed himself to be carted around and petted numerous times. (Followed by a very "I cant believe I did that" cleaning- cats are so funny)

In the mornings, this is what I woke up to:


And when they went back to mom, they said they had the best time.

I remember spending time with my gramma when I was little. I hope they have fond memories of their time here when they are older. Im so blessed.

Today I am getting the house cleaned back up and getting ready for the week ahead. 5 days before vacation.

Small and simple...at least for now

August 7th, 2013 at 02:53 am

I finished listening to one of the books on CD that I checked out from the library. "Sail" by James Patterson. It was a good mystery. Having the books to listen to have totally transformed my driving time. I really enjoy it. I have two more to tide me over until the next library visit. A Danielle Steele book, and another James Patterson.

I have been in the small house (390 sq ft) just over 2 months now. I have weeded out all but the necessities in the house. Honestly, this is plenty of space to live. Living with a grown lab and a cat make it more of a challenge, but it works.

Small space living forces organization. Everything has to have a home- otherwise, it gets cluttered fast. It also forces me to really think about what I buy. There isn't room for new 'things' unless I get rid of something else first. I waste less food. The fridge is smaller, so I tend to buy what I need and then use it. Also, I plan my meals around my crock pot, electric skillet, rice cooker and microwave. Usually in that order.

Laundry- I have to carry it down to the other house where the washer is...so I try to keep dirty laundry to a minimum. Towels are reused, clothes are hung up after wearing them, sheets are washed on Sundays...I use the washer...everything gets hung on the line to dry.

Most of the mail gets tossed in the trash on the way back from the mailbox, so there is no stack to sort through later.

Water for consumption is a little trickier. I keep several gallon jugs that I fill each week at DD1s. I always keep a few empty jugs in the car incase I have an opportunity to refill.

All in all, it is simpler here. At least for now.

Breathing Space

July 26th, 2013 at 08:59 pm

Breathing space. Today I am enjoying a little bit of this, sometimes taken for granted, gift. When you are in the throes of things like tough personal issues, an overwhleming work load, family concerns, you forget how nice it is to have a clear mind and time to think. Today is a breathing space kinda day...finally.

My paycheck hit the account, but no bills are due until next Wednesday, so it will just hang in the account until then.

August and September are busy birthday months. 8 birthdays and an anniversary. However, I budget for birthdays all year and deposit each month to cover them, so the money is there for gift cards, gifts or cash. This weekend, I plan to get some of the shopping in..hopefully find a deal or two...or 8. Big Grin

This weekend I hope to clean the little house, get some grocery shopping in, read, and spend time with the kids/grandkids.

Life is back to being good. Smile

My raise kicks in tomorrow! And some perspective.

July 26th, 2013 at 03:31 am

My raise hits my paycheck tomorrow for the first time. This is also a week that the hub does not get paid. Fortunately, my check will cover all the bills through the end of the month.

Today was a no spend day. I had leftovers for lunch and dinner. I cant believe there are people who don't enjoy leftovers. Cheap, easy and lots of times better than the original meal! Such is the case with the slow cooker teriyaki chicken with jasmine rice that I made yesterday. The rice really soaked up the flavors and tasted so good tonight!

In lieu of everything this past month or so, we put the big house repairs on hold. I am perfectly comfortable in the little house- DD3 and her friend are perfectly content in the big house as is...and this will give us time to decide what is most important. Honestly, the little house and the RV may end up being 'home'. However, this is a decision that I want to take time to make. There is no rush since everything is working for now. Each day I am finding my footing.

At work, I have been tackling a huge project. I am responsible for writing and maintaining the plan if a disaster hits- aka Disaster Recovery or Business Continuity. There is so much involved in a plan like that. After over a month of complete focus, I completed it today. THANK GOODNESS. So much work, time and brain drain into something you HOPE you never have to use. But if a Tsunami, Pandemic, Explosion, Terrorist attack, or major power failure, etc. occurs, we have a plan.

My next project is moving, documenting, storing or destroying several hundred boxes of old records. DO I know how to party or what?

Actually, I love my job. Never a dull moment if you like this kinda stuff. Which oddly, I do.

My DIL's dad was in a pretty bad accident yesterday. Totally not his fault. A lady and her son were waiting to turn left when a young man (18) rear ended them and knocked their car into the intersection directly in the path of DILs father, who was driving a big rig. The little boy, age 5, didn't make it. Frown and the mom is critical. I feel so bad for everyone involved. All of their lives changed forever in an instant. I know DILs dad will never be the same. He is such a caring person, this will forever haunt him. But I cant imagine the impact on the kid that hit the car...and worse, the pain the mom will endure. Something like this always pulls your perspective back to whats important.

Not quite yet....

July 23rd, 2013 at 04:48 am

$99972.27....

slow growth is still growth. Big Grin

Maybe tomorrow will be the day.

DD3 sent me the happiest picture today. She is in Alaska on a mini vacation and they went fishing. Here she is with her catch:



The smile says it all!

Waiting for the next milestone!

July 17th, 2013 at 03:01 am

I feel like I am watching a pot, waiting for it to boil. My 401k has beenthisclose for a few months hovering just under 100K. Today, $98500. CMON!!!

I want to celebrate the benchmark already! When it happens we will celebrate with cyber cake and champagne!

But alas...I am waiting...waiting...eagerly waiting.

My new title and raise have taken effect...or is it affect...I never know.

Anyways, its official and I am so proud to have achieved a position I never thought Id achieve. I am now a VP. Smile

We removed the old carpet from the country house and oh my goodness, the odor went with the carpet. THANK GOODNESS. With each small change I am more optimistic about the house.

R has been home for a week. We have had some really tough conversations...REALLY TOUGH. For now, we will work on making it work.

The goal of being debt free except for the mortgage is on track for the end of the year. If nothing else, this year has been a successful one for debt repayment.

Once debt is paid..the goal will become retirement saving and house payoff.

All else is good.



I got a new title...and a raise!

July 10th, 2013 at 03:31 am

I learned this afternoon that I am getting a raise and that my title is changing! I am still responsible for the same things, but because the company has grown so much this year, the new title is more in-line with industry standards. This means that at the beginning of the year, when they redo the pay-scale, my pay will adjust to the higher title/scale. NICE!

Today was another HOT one. It was 103 when I got off work, which makes this little house so uncomfortable. I may get a second air conditioner to help. I actually dread coming home knowing the house will be hot until after 8pm each night. With DD3 and her friend renting the rooms, the electricity bill should be covered even with a second unit..or I may see about getting a bigger one and seeing if that does it. Im just ready to do whatever it takes at this point.

I am excited to pay off, what was, one of our largest cc debts next month. It started at $24k at the beginning of the year and is now down to $6k. After this bill is paid off, we have one final cc bill to pay that is at 0% interest through next April. We owe $8500 on it. I will probably just make minimum payments on it until next April and then pay it in a lump sum.

I owe just over $7k on my car, which will be the next focus and should be PIF by end of year.

And then, we are down to only house payments. AMAZING. This has definitely been a year of debt repayment. (among other things)

The repairs on the big house are on hold until. Right now, getting rid of all debt is more important and will allow decisions to be made without the extra worry.

Big smile tonight. I needed this boost to my confidence. Its been a tough month.

Internet is working again and Payday at last!

June 29th, 2013 at 04:03 pm

My internet hasn't been working the past two days. I semi-embraced the forced 'unplug' but missed reading the blogs.

I used part of the time to reorganize my tiny bathroom and it is now much more functional.

There is very little on TV that I want to watch. Even with the "free premium channels" that the provider tossed in to the move deal. Those will definitely go away when the trial period is over. Since I would not subscribe to it, but R wants it, I am budgeting the expense to come out of his account.

Yesterday WAS payday THANK GOODNESS. I paid my bills and have some left over that I will allocate this weekend to different save/spend buckets. Working two budgets, with both paychecks hitting the same checking account, then splitting some of the bills and directing others to "his or mine" makes for a tricky spreadsheet. I haven't got it perfected yet. I am using two checking accounts, but the bills are all allocated to come out of one of those. I will have to work on simplifying this process.

Today is a girls day with DD2. She is kid free for the morning, so we are going to take advantage of the opportunity.

Update on Z:
The case worker says that he will be moving to N Dakota with bio-gramma in 30-45 days. Neither bio gramma or bio mom have taken advantage of phone visits and haven't spoken/skyped with Z in a few months now.

Time will tell. He had a major success this week, he went potty in is little training toilet. He was so proud of himself. Big Grin

Cooking for one in the crockpot...makes for some yummy leftovers to freeze!

June 24th, 2013 at 12:36 am

I made split pea soup in the crockpot yesterday. The pot full of soup cost under $5 and there is enough soup for many meals, plus some to freeze.

To break it up a little, today I am cooking boneles pork ribs, again in the crock pot. (Love my crockpot! Even cooking for one is so easy!) Part of the pork will be used in chili verde tacocs and enchiladas, the rest will be pulled pork sandwiches. I have everything necessary except sandwich bread, which I will get later in the week.

I spent $60 at the gocery store yesderday- which, except for the bread, is all that I need for the week. I still have some of the black bean soup that I made last week, that I am going to refreeze for later in the week or next weekend.

I splurged on my hair today. I had it cut and colored again. Cost plus tip = $100. (ouch)..my rationalization is that if it helps my very bruised heart a little, it is money well spent. I LOVE my new look. I also gave myself a pedi today. I honestly feel 51 instead of 52. Big Grin kidding.

Other than gas for the car and $4 to get into the community kids club with my grandkids yesterday, that is all I have spent. Starting with my payday next Friday, there will be extra money to pay back for today's haircut and my "extras" account will start to rebuild. I will be budgeting for hair care from now on..I just feel better with a nice cut.

My girls have suggested that we take a girls trip down to southern Calif to visit my friend. I have been looking into airfare and it has really gone up. However I have a companion ticket credit and about $250 in credit that I can use on Alaska Air, so I am seriously considering it. My friends birthday is the beginning of August, which would be a good time for all of us.


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