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Archive for September, 2020

Budget rollover - Welcome October!

September 30th, 2020 at 03:39 pm

We roll into our new budget cycle today. I transferred the full amount for October's bills from savings to our checking. All of October bills will just auto pay from this account- no additional effort is needed for the month. Easy Peasy.

I also transferred half of our household budget (food, gas, etc) into the household checking. It helps to do half now and half mid month to show the hub how it works. While he is home, he does the majority of our grocery shopping and prefers Walmart...but that means extra stuff often finds its way into the cart. Reminding him of our grocery budget helps a little, but we have a ways to go on this one. While he gets a nice allowance, for some reason, using the food budget for 'fun' stuff is easier for him (haha) I am sure his personal budget debit card has cobwebs on it.

I transferred the remaining $3k from savings to our long term savings.

Now, as we get paid, those paychecks will just go into savings for next months expenses. At the end of October, the same routine will happen. Smile

Have a great day all!

Donations went to DD3

September 29th, 2020 at 05:37 pm

DD3 and her little family came over for dinner last night. As she was leaving, she noticed the bags of donation items sitting by my door and asked about them. She poked around and decided she wanted 3 of the 4 bags of stuff! Just like that those bags went home with her. She will take what she needs and donate the rest. She mentioned she also wants some sunflower dishes that I am getting rid of, so I will box those up and give to her once they move into their new home next month. Smile

I am finding it a challenge to work from home when I have home projects I want to tackle. The best way I can think of is to keep a running list of all the things I want to tackle after work and on the weekends so that I stay focused on work during my working hours. Does anyone else have this issue? Id love to hear your ideas!!

Our trees are all turning colors, this time of year is so beautiful here. Fall really is my favorite season. I am keeping a pumpkin banana candle burning (yum!) and plan to take a nice drive/picnic lunch this weekend to enjoy the beautiful season outdoors. We have lots of wineries nearby and a couple are located right next to the river. Perhaps a stop at one of those with a picnic lunch is in order. This weekend should be gorgeous - the temps are expected to drop into the lower 80s, and there is no more smoke! (Yay)

Of course, the rest of the weekend will likely be organizing and decluttering the next room!

Are the colors changing where you live?

Minimizing - Overcoming attachment - It's not as hard as I thought!

September 28th, 2020 at 04:31 pm

One of the primary reasons I have accumulated so much 'stuff' is that I create a crazy attachment to things. I have many reasons, which, for example, is why I still, 13 years later, have a storage shed full of my dad's things that I've never used or even gone through.

Some of my key reasons for being a semi hoarder include:

* It was my mom's (dad's, etc) and she/he loved it
* It was a gift
* I may need it someday
* I haven't read it yet
* I may lose weight
* It's too old to donate and I don't want to throw it away
* If one is good, three is better
* It's still brand new
* I don't want to deal with it right now
* I don't have time

As I start this journey, I am purposely making my first thought:

Can this bless someone else?

What a difference this small step has made in my ability to let go. Some of the things I am weeding out could be sold, but that would throw a cog in my wheel, so I am just considering those items "extra blessings"!

I am confident that if I START with this question, I will be much more successful. It definitely worked with several items yesterday!

How does this have to do with finances? Well, here are my initial thoughts:

* I won't need to 're-buy" things because I cant find them
* I will be less tempted to buy new things that I have to find a home for
* I can easily find things, and will be more likely to use what I have
* Spending time at home is more tranquil, staying home saves money.

I am sure there are many more, but those are my big ones!

Banana Bread made easy!

September 28th, 2020 at 03:57 pm

I had 4 very ripe bananas yesterday. I spent the day finishing the kitchen declutter/organize and it was 7 o'clock- I decided to go ahead and make some banana bread even though I was tired.

OMG - that was the quickest baking I have ever done. Why? Because EVERYTHING was in its place, and was an easy reach. I didnt have to dig through anything. Within about 10 minutes, the loaf was in the oven and the dishes were all in the dishwasher. And all the ingredients went right back to their home. I sat down and watched TV while the oven did the rest. And today, instead of brown bananas, we have a nice loaf to enjoy!!

Yesterday, DisneySteve commented on my blog how addicting this decluttering/minimalism can become, and I must agree.. if my home life becomes this much simpler by minimalizing, I am SOLD.

I didnt start on my closet yesterday. Once I finished the baking and spice cupboards, I needed to reorganize and downsize a little more so that everything would fit and be easily reached. It took a little longer. Plus, I am tackling all of this while "enjoying' and nice painful case of that is slowing my progress significantly.

I feel accomplished and ready to start this new week!

semi hoarder to minimalist - can I do it?

September 27th, 2020 at 03:05 am

During this next 6 months, I plan to downsize STUFF very intentionally. I started with my kitchen this weekend.

To get motivated, I have been watching you tube videos and researching various degrees and methods. I decided to start with tupperware. That drawer and a cupboard were scary and seemed overwhelming. However, once I got started, it got easier. Containers without lids and lids without containers were the first to go...and there were many of each. Then, I selected those that were most useful or that I liked using. Everything else, went. And finally any container that I had more than four went as well. I still have a healthy number of containers, but everything fits easily into one drawer. Any that are going and useful, will be donated, the rest will go in the trash.

Next was my very disorganized silverware drawer. Everything came out and I selected 8 of each item. Over the years, spoons and forks disappear, but butter knives and those larger serving spoons stick around. I must have weeded out 20+ butter knives and serving spoons. And now my silverware drawer is completely organized and everything has a home. The excess will be donated. Surely someone could use them.

My pantry got a major overhaul. All the shelves were emptied, my canned goods went on a large lazy susan, making it very easy to see what we have and find what we need. Outdated or unpopular stuff was trashed. Items are all grouped now. Less used items went on the bottom and top shelves and stuff we reach for routinely got the prime pantry real estate.

That was my achievement yesterday and today. Its a small start, but also a very motivating one. I am confident these changes will help save money. We have many boxes of pasta and cans of green beans, for example. Given my desire to minimize, I will be eager to use up what we have. And knowing exactly what we have will keep me from buying more because I cant find it.

After two days and just a few areas tackled, I have 3 boxes to donate. I have started a list of everything with approximate costs, so that I am ready when tax time comes around.

Tomorrow I hope to tackle my baking cupboard and then get to work on my closet. I figure it will take several months to get through the whole house, but it will be SO nice once I am done.

Have any of you gone this journey before, and if so, what great advice do you have? I am very open to suggestion!!

Christmas 2020

September 24th, 2020 at 05:37 pm

A couple of years ago we tried something new for Christmas with the family...and it was such a hit, the grand kids requested it again this year!

Instead of gifts, we took our kids and grand kids on a vacation to a nearby resort. We rented a house large enough for everyone (8 bdrm, 8.5 baths) and spent 5 days together sharing experiences. Ice skating, hot cocoa, gingerbread houses, building snowmen, swimming, puzzles, games,Christmas movies, shared meals and just lots of time together.

So, by special request, we are having a repeat this year. I reserved the house a year ago and the anticipation has been building up all year.

This cost a little more than our normal Christmas budget, but we also are considering this our one vacation trip this year (thank you Covid), so our vacation budget is augmenting this budget.

I ordered a Mickey Mouse cookie cutter last week, so we can make Mickey beignets one morning, we have a cold case file to solve a murder mystery, lots of assorted games, we will be making some sort of gingerbread creation, I will bring a 1000 piece Christmas puzzle -and so much more. It will also be the week my newest grand baby turns 1. We have 5 Dec/Jan birthdays, so there will be a big birthday party and a Christmas dinner.

We are going early December, which makes it nice for the kids, having one less home to visit on Christmas day!! It also makes Christmas day very quiet and relaxing for me! Smile And eliminates the stress of shopping for 17 grandkids!!

All of the kids and grandkids will be there and EVERYONE is pretty excited, especially this grandma.

With my retirement next year, this may be the last time we can afford to do this, so I plan to savor every moment of this special time together!!

Relearning frugality

September 23rd, 2020 at 04:56 pm

I have to admit, while we have been hitting our financial goals, I have definitely moved away from many of my old frugal ways- some I had forgotten about. I am rereading my older blog posts and getting some GREAT ideas how to stretch our resources even further and it is reigniting my desire to do better.

I am so thankful to have this blog, going back FOURTEEN YEARS, to help remind me what has worked historically. The hits and misses, and most of all- how good it felt when we hit those milestones!

I will certainly be pulling from the past to help make better financial choices going forward!

Does anyone else do the same with their older blog posts? (Oh, and I also revisit others older posts as well, as there is a WEALTH of Knowledge in them!!)

Annual Skip a Payment

September 22nd, 2020 at 08:08 pm

My CU offers an annual option to skip your loan payment(s) in November.

I can remember years when taking advantage of this option was our primary $ source for Christmas shopping. I literally planned Christmas shopping around the amount of payments we were able to skip! (YIKES) This was back when all four kids lived at home, we had much lower income, and we were up to our eyeballs in debt. I looked forward to and relied on that wonderful notice that it was time once again...once the payments were skipped, I WENT SHOPPING! (Again, yikes)

Then came the years when the skip was nice to have, just for extras we wanted for the holidays or any upcoming vacation plans. I took advantage, but it was really just "extra" that enhanced what we were already planning. We didnt need to do it, but it was sure nice to have the extra.

Then, there were the years where we didn't skip any payments because our desire to payoff our debts far outweighed any need for "extra" money. Skipping a payment would have derailed our plans, and that was not something that enticed me in the least. I know some of my fellow bloggers here would have viewed a skip this way long before my financial brain caught on...just thankful I eventually saw the light!!

This year, when the skip offer arrived, there were no payments to skip. NONE. It is such a nice feeling to finally be in control of our finances like this. We owe our mortgage, but otherwise we are debt free.

So thank you CU for the offer, but finally, we have nothing to skip!

Being written out of the script

September 22nd, 2020 at 05:57 pm

As I have mentioned, I am planning to retire from my current job next June and, after some time off, will begin working for my son on a part time, very flexible schedule.

I have let my boss know that this is happening, since I am in a senior position on our team. I need to be transitioning and teaching others how to do what I do so that when the time comes, there is little to no void felt internally or externally for anyone.

This Friday, we are having a 2021 planning session and this begins my journey of being written out of the script. It feels a little odd, both exciting and scary at the same time. Two others in the department will be stepping up to take over leadership- which will start at the first of the year- at which point I will take a step back and focus on leaving my duties in well trained hands.

I have been at this job almost half my life. But I truly feel this is the right time to make the change. I am still a few years away from SS and medicare, but the hubs job has good insurance so I will join his plan this November during open enrollment. I dont plan to start taking SS until I am 65 or older.

Aside from working for my son, I plan to help watch DD3's baby, volunteer and travel when the hub is off for his 2-3 week rotation home.

I am anxious to see how Friday goes. I know it will feel odd- for the past quarter century I have been in a key role during and after planning... this will certainly be a new experience for me!! But you know what, that's perfectly fine- cause I am READY!!

Our growing family

September 18th, 2020 at 05:08 pm

Since I last posted about grandkids, our family has grown quite a bit! I keep thinking we are at capacity and my kids keep surprising me!

DD1- has 2 bios, 2 fosters that they in the final stages of adopting, and 1 foster, who is fairly new in the system, but they are willing to adopt should it come to that.

DS - 2 bios

DD2 - 2 bios, 2 adopted (X and Z!) and 2 fosters.

DD3 - 1 step daughter and DD3 also had a baby girl in December!! (remember when I started blogging here, she was just a little girl!!)

That's 15 grandkids!!

(One of DD2's friends lives in my parents little house here on our property and she has 2 kids, who are just like grandkids to 17 total if you count them, which I do.)

Family gatherings are quite the event anymore. So many kiddos!

Years ago, I set up a special savings account in order to give them each a graduation and wedding gift. I am so thankful that I did. I have deposited $100 a month, and the account is now over $5k. By the time each graduates and gets married, I should have $500 for each occasion. Its not much, but with a family this size, it is what I can afford.

I am blessed beyond belief with all these amazing little humans!! It does make Christmas and Birthdays a challenge- it takes a very organized spreadsheet to keep everything organized!

Trying a new way of budgeting (at least for me!)

September 16th, 2020 at 05:48 pm

Over the past few months, I have been trying a new way of budgeting and so far, it seems to be working well for us. I get paid bi-weekly and the hub works 4 weeks on/4 weeks off, so his monthly income varies greatly.

Since I know what our monthly expenses/bills are (mortgage, utilities, etc), on the first of the month, I transfer that amount to one checking account. I transfer our family budget (food, entertainment, gas, etc) to a second checking account. Non-monthly expenses such as car insurance, vet bills, Christmas, birthdays etc. goes into a special savings account and is transferred to the family checking as needed.

As paychecks come in, that money is transferred straight to savings. Once the savings balance surpasses the amount needed for the next month, the extra is transferred to long term savings.

As expenses occur, the money comes out of the respective checking account and at the end of the month, both account balances are usually depleted. (Occasionally, the family budget runs short, which helps me to understand where we are over spending.)

This is working well for us because we are not as tempted to absorb any extra pay into the budget and on those months when the hub gets one paycheck, the budgets are still fully funded. We have managed to sock away a nice chunk of savings and avoid stress in short paycheck months this way!

Fires - the aftermath

September 15th, 2020 at 02:07 am

While we are NOT out of the woods yet with the fires (there is one less than 5 miles from me that is 6 miles long, by 3 miles wide)...most of our towns have now been declared safe!! This is such amazing news.

Sadly, because of the fire still burning, our air quality remains hazardous. As an asthmatic, I am staying indoors as much as possible. It seems I have spent 2020 indoors...something I can't wait to eventually remedy!!

This morning, we had our first team meeting since the fires destroyed much of our communities. Our agenda was simply to let staff talk. And boy did they. Their stories were gut wrenching - about having little to no notice to evacuate, loss of family, loss of friends homes, lost sense of security, and what I would deem- newfound PTSD. Everyone is suffering from headaches. Our meeting was virtual...and I cried most of it. I will never look at natural disasters the same way again.

I am looking for ways to plug in and help- it is just tough being that I have underlying conditions that make exposure to covid very scary. But I am determined to find a way to help. In the meantime, I am donating financially to those I can.

There are so many are now homeless, and who have lost everything. Our community has overwhelmed our support organizations Red Cross, United Way, Churches, etc) with donations. But it is going to take a LONG time to rebuild and repair. Two entire towns are gone.

This disaster blew up quickly, and people, no matter how well prepared, were still caught off-guard. The most scary thing was that all of our main arteries out of town were shut down. People were scrambling to find alternative routes, that were all very packed. I know all of this will be a lesson in how as a community to do it better next time.

So many want to place blame for these fires, which is causing even more divide. I hope people don't rush to judgement. But I do hope that when the truth comes out, justice will be served. It is apparent that several of our fires were intentionally set - but I am holding judgement until an investigation is done.

Honestly, I dont know what our world is coming to...

Southern Oregon fires

September 13th, 2020 at 03:00 am

Hi Friends,

This year is certainly one for the record books.

Currently, our valley is on fire, we have completely lost 2 towns and 2 more are in danger still tonight. It is like an apocalypse here. We don't know the human life toll, but 100s of homes, dozens of businesses, and thousands currently displaced. Our air is hazardous and there is no current end in sight. On top of the pandemic, life is just day to day. THANKFULLY, my family is all safe. Our homes are still standing, although DD3's home is just outside of the evac zone for now. PRAYING it stays that way.

Back in March, when the pandemic started, I began working from home full time. Thankfully my job is one that can be done remotely. The hub was laid off at the beginning of the pandemic, but he went back to work at the end of June. I have decided its time to retire. So I have let my job know that as of June 2021, I am done. I will be 60, and we will be in a good financial position to make the change. While I am retiring from my job, I will continue to work, just for my son with greater flexibility (more on that in a future post).

I hope everyone is fairing ok. I plan to catch up on posts this weekend. I have missed everyone!