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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/ 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 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.