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9 months into retirement

March 25th, 2022 at 12:20 am

Its crazy to think I am in month 9 of my retirement!  As I reflect on these months, a few thoughts come to mind that I wanted to jot down!

1.  Taxes - we got a refund this year for the first time in years and it was significant!  With pre-retirement earnings, we never qualified for any of the stimulous money (since they continued to use our prior years earnings, we didnt receive the stimulous that was available earlier in 2021).  When we filed this year, we qualified and received an additional $5700!!  We also received a good refund aside from that!   1/2 of the money went to our final emergency fund savings which now is $100k.  The other half is in savings for upcoming expenses this year.

2. House payment - I regret not paying off our mortgage before I retired, but we are now paying an extra $1000 per month to the house payment (plus any extra income over budget).  I am finally looking at extra money as $$ to pay on the mortgage.  I wasnt comfortable doing this until I got the emergency fund up to our current level.  

3.  Food - while the hub is away working, I eat as inexpensively as possible.  I found a great recipe that I love using black beans and brown rice, both of which I buy in bulk.  Many meals cost pennies rather that dollars!  Thankfully, FD loves it too...she also loves ramen, eggs, pasta and salads!  When the hub IS home, we have a well stocked freezer of meats to pull from.  As meats come on sale, I stock up!  I also started stockpiling last year during holiday food sales - so we have lots of canned/frozen veggies, and other items we use regularly.

Black beans in the Instant Pot  (cook brown rice separately and combine with cooked beans as desired.  we make a lot of burritos with them)

1lb black beans, 5 cups water, 1 smoked hambone, 3 bullion cubes, 2 TBSP taco seasoning, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 onion diced and sauteed.  I cook for 1 hour and natural release for 25-30 min.

Silly frugal me, puts the hambone back in the freezer and then reuse it for a second batch before discarding it.  Wink

4.  Can/bottle returns - this is new for me.  Previously, I gave our cans/bottles away.  Now I have an account to return them myself and get extra $$.  I am using the $$ to help FD set goals and find ways to save towards the goal.  She really wants a pair of birkenstock sandals this summer, so she is saving her change, helping with the cans/bottles and realizing a little planning helps make a goal come true!  So far she has $35 in can/bottle money and $16 in cash. 

5.  Gasoline - holy gas prices!   Living 15 miles outside of town, we def plan trips to town to cover all errands for the week.  Thankfully, we have the stockpile and rarely have to run to get something outside of our weekly trip.   I generally go once each week to watch my youngest grandaughter and another day to take FD to her appts and all the other errands. 

6.  Airline tickets - Costco offered a great deal of 10% off airline gift cards at Christmas time.  Since the hub travels so much, I bought 10 - $500 gcs for $4500.  This will last us pretty much all year.  I hope Costco does this every year!  I have saved enough to buy another 10 (which is the max allowed) this year!  The mileage he earns goes for fun trips or vacations.  In May, DD1, her newly adopted daughter (13), me and FD (17) are flying down to California for a long girls weekend to celebrate the adoption.  Price for travel: $44 thanks to miles!

7.  Camping - because I am retired, and FD does school online, we can camp anytime we want when the hub is home.  A state perk for foster families is that we can camp for free at any state campground.  Weekends are often booked, but again, our flexibility allows us to camp during the week when spots are more readily available.  We have a beautiful 5th wheel that we paid off before I retired which we enjoy as much as possible.  However, gas prices will likely reduce the number of trips we take this year.

8. Part time job for me - I had thought I would need to return to work part time to be able to have "enough".  However, that has not been the case.  We are making it just fine as is and can still afford to pay house quicker Fostering a trouble teen is pretty much a full time job, especially with the hub gone 3 weeks at a time.  Between appointments, parenting, teaching her independence skills, and helping her feel safe and secure (something she has never had) I am "on" 24/7.  Thankfully I have this flexibility to be a full time parent and friend for her.

9. Time Management - Days can get away from me.  I have enjoyed the freedom to use all this time as I want.  That will not change....but time is finite, not infinite.  I am working on being more intentional with my time, while enjoying not having a schedule.    This continues to be a work in progress.

10.  Enjoying life - YES I DO!

Hello Fall and all the fun that comes with it!

October 1st, 2021 at 02:04 am

I am so thankful that fall is here! With the hot, smoky summer behind us I can get out on our deck more and enjoy the hummingbirds and sunsets again! We have had some rain, which is awesome and the skies are back to blue.

Now that school has started, my days are getting into a nice routine. I am able to focus more on stretching our food budget by using coupons, sales and aps like Ibotta. I am enjoying the challenge of feeding us as budget savvy as possible! (A much easier feat when I don't have a teen with me at the grocery store slipping in all the extras!!)

I watch my youngest granddaughter (20 mos) every Monday. I love our Monday's together - she has so much energy and curiosity. This last Monday we went on a walk and found all the flowers and talked about the colors. She discovered some ornamental frogs in one yard and thought they were funny and pointed out an airplane overhead. I came home exhausted, but had such a happy heart by the end of the day.

Thankfully, the cash outflow has slowed down and we have stayed more within the budget this past several weeks- a trend I hope continues for as long as possible. It is much less stressful when the unexpected outputs aren't hitting regularly...which gives me time to breathe and rebuild the buffer account! I definitely feel more in control financially when the hub is working his three week rotation and the teen is in school.

I am also finally getting back to minimalizing our home. Its been months since I have even had time to think about this but I am pulling it off the back burner now and creating a plan to use my free time to get some traction on this goal!

I talked to all the kiddo's about Christmas this year and how our budget looks much different now that I am retired. I think everyone was fully on board with scaling back. With all the bio's, adopted, foster and inherited grandkids, we are at 17. My brain hurt thinking about even one gift for each. Instead we are transitioning to a family gift. Much more doable and kinder to my sanity. Instead of opening gifts, we will focus on games, food, crafts and making memories. Something we should have done years ago, actually. I don't have a clear picture of what this means, but I am excited about it none-the-less.

Christmas 2020 - bargain shopping!

October 7th, 2020 at 01:29 am

I mentioned in a previous post that we rented a large home to take all the kids and grand kids to in early December, which will be our gift to everyone.

I also wanted to get each of the grand kids a little something to remember the trip by. So I went online to Kohl's and their Big Super-soft throws were on sale for 50% off, or 14.99. By the time the Kohl's cash and rewards was added, (which I will use for friend gifts, and stocking stuffers) each blanket was $9.14. NOT BAD for a nice throw for each child. Last time they got these, they loved them...so I am confident they will be a hit again this year.

The main master bath in the rental has a ginormous soaking/Jacuzzi tub. So I am creating a "spa experience" for whomever would like (kids, adults, etc). I ordered some facial masks and bath bombs and will pick up some sparkling cider to top off the special-ness. I know all the girls and some of the little boys will really enjoy being pampered and taking a turn in the tub. I found great deals on Amazon and all of the masks and bombs cost under $25 total. (Remember, there will be 15 kids there throughout the week, as well as all the adults- so this was a bargain!!)

The last thing I need to get is gift bags for each of the blankets and my little gifts are all done!

I'm sure getting excited!!

Weekend recap

October 5th, 2020 at 02:33 pm

This weekend, while not as productive for my decluttering goals, was a very good one.

DD3 got the keys to her new home and so the weekend was all about moving. Since I am dealing with sciatica, on Saturday, the hub and I took the baby so mommy and daddy could pack.

On Sunday morning, the hub and I took a drive (back roads to a little historical town.) It was BEAUTIFUL. We stopped at a bagel cafe and had bagels and coffee. The cafe is in an old brick building with creaky wood floors that was built in the 1800s so lots of character and charm. Then, we went to a local discount store where the hub likes to get his bullets. However, they were out of all the bullets he wanted. This is a recurring theme, it is harder and harder for him to find them locally.

In the afternoon, I took DD3s baby to DD1s house where we entertained her so that all the heavy stuff could get moved to the new house. Then we met up at DD3s new house for pizza. Her new house is really nice. They sold their starter home to move to a much safer neighbor hood and much nicer home. (As they were moving from the old house, there was a murder investigation 3 doors away while the victim was, partially covered under a sheet in the front yard). (YIKES) So glad they made this move!!

Needless to say, the weekend flew by, and I didn't make any progress on the home front.

This week and next are 4 day work weeks for me. I am taking Friday off, and Monday is a holiday. We are taking a little mini vaca with our dear friends to a resort about 3 hours away. We rented a 2 bdrm house and will spend the weekend visiting, playing games, sitting in the hot tub and just enjoying some downtime.

As for financial this weekend, the hub got a new pair of jeans from the discount store ($32), we had bagels and coffee at the cafe ($17 with tip) and we bought the pizza for the moving gang ($55).

How was your weekend?

Seasonal flu shot, medical insurance and budget stuff

October 1st, 2020 at 05:04 pm

Feeling a little like a pin cushion this morning after getting blood work and a seasonal flu shot. But CHECK MARK, those are now out of the way!

My job contracts with a dedicated clinic that serves the staff of 3 local businesses. It's really nice in that normal and routine things (non-narcotic drugs, shots, blood work, routine visits, etc) are completely free for staff. Things like controlled drugs, xrays, MRIs, etc must go through normal insurance/ co-pays.

Unfortunately, after the end of this month, my job is no longer contracting with this service, meaning I will need to find a new doctor and will go back to co-pays on everything. Its been so nice while it lasted. We also have the option of tele-med. Ive not tried that, but will give it a go and see how it works. In November, I will be added to the hubs insurance plan (since I will be leaving my job next year), so I may wait until then to find the new doctor.

The hub's job is currently on a 4/4 rotation, so he works four weeks and then is off for four weeks. This started post covid shutdown, and may soon return to 3/3 or 4/2. But, until then, 4/4 means we can go almost a month without a paycheck from his job. This is why I budget the way that I do. He will get a partial week paycheck tomorrow, and then another, smaller one, on October 30. Before we were financially able to fund our budget a month in advance, it always felt like we were juggling to keep up. Our silver lining for the stay home order and the hubs unemployment for those 3 months is that we built our savings and now have less financial anxiety!

DD3's baby, 10 months, has started to take a step here and there. She is so stinking cute and growing SO fast.





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!!


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 me....so 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!

Health

October 16th, 2018 at 09:38 pm

As I get closer to retirement, my focus on health and health insurance is increasing. Thankfully, I don't have any serious health issues (knock on wood). I am running the gamut of tests this year to make sure everything is in good working order. Big Grin I did get diagnosed with pre-diabetes a couple of months ago. Actually I was borderline diabetes, but the doctor gave me three months to try to change things. At two months in, I have learned so much about nutrition, sugars, carbs, fiber and protein. I check my blood several times a day, work with a nutritionist, move a lot more during the day, and am seeing good progress. I have lost over 20 lbs and my levels have dropped to 'low pre-diabetes' and continue to drop. I really hope this last month will get me where I need to be. I DO NOT want diabetes, especially when it is still in my control not to get it.

Things are going really well at work and it looks like I will finish out the last two years of my five year retirement plan here. That is a good thing, as we still have checkmarks to get on debt, savings, etc. and having that second paycheck will certainly help. I also anticipate a significant raise at the first of the year, which will help even more. Now if the stock market would be kinder...

We are really close to adoption. Everything is done, we are just waiting for the ceremony to be scheduled. DD1 still has the boys' older sister. Bio family has made no attempt to contact her- so after the 6 month mark is up, they will reconsider her permanency (guardianship or adoption). DD1 also still has the other two girls, sisters who went into the system just a couple of weeks after the boys sister did. All 5 of these kids are amazing little people and are as much family as the rest of us. We are so blessed!



The Christmas Jammies

September 27th, 2018 at 11:27 pm

We are planning a family trip in December - if you can believe it, it was DH's idea! We started planning and saving a year ago for this trip. It is scheduled for the first week in December and we have rented a huge home in a resort about 4 hours away. All of my kids and grandkids will be under one roof for 5 days! So excited. We havent done a trip like this with all the kids and grandkids since the year after my dad died...so 10 years ago.

When we started planning, we thought there would be 18 of us...we rented the largest house available on the rental site...which was 8 bedrooms, 8.5 bathrooms. We are going to do Christmas movies, hot cocoa, make Christmas decorations, get a tree from the woods, and just do all the fun Christmassy things we can think of!

Well, since then, DD1 has taken in 3 foster girls. Bringing our total to 21 - (12 kids ranging in age from 3 - 14!). (DD2 would love to bring her boyfriend and his 2 kiddos, but the rental is restricted on how many we can have- and sadly we are at the max already).

One of the ideas DH had was to get all the kids matching or coordinating jammies. So, two days ago Kohls posted an ad for Christmas jammies bogo- 1/2 off. Sweet....so I ran down and bought twelve pair. Of course, the next day, Kohls put those same jammies on sale for 50% off and was also giving Kohls cash... I took the receipt in and they credited me $105 and gave me $40 in kohls cash- bringing the total for each set at about $13.50. SCORE!! I am thrilled to save the extra $$- which with 21 people can easily help with the food budget.

So, I still have plenty of planning to do, but get a nice checkmark on the jammie box!

And, came in well under budget for that line item! Ho-Ho-Ho!

I love planning stuff like this so the next few months will keep me busy putting all the special touches on the plans. I am hoping by the time we go the boys adoption will be final and we can celebrate while we are there. One of the girls that DD1 has is the boys older sister- so, they will all be together for this trip- which will make it extra special for them and us!



Hello! Its been a while!

August 3rd, 2018 at 04:09 pm

So much has happened since I last blogged. Where has the time gone! Even though I havent been active here, I have tried to check in on others' blogs.

Hello!

Well,right after I gave notice at work (literally within seconds) I was told that my job was changing and things in our department were changing...and after hearing about this, I reversed my decision to leave. :0 Meaning, I am still at my job. I still plan to transition to my son's business...I am just not sure what the (new) timeline is now.

So far, with the changes at work I am much happier so I am taking it day by day. Having options gives me a wonderful feeling of freedom though.

My son still needs his procedures developed, so I will be doing that for him on nights and weekends.

DD2's adoption of the boys is plugging along. The process is still on track to finalize by year end. Everyone is eagerly waiting for this final chapter to be done with.

But a major turn of events is that DD1 now is fostering the boys sister (age 9) She had been living with dad's family, but it wasn't working out and they needed a place to move her to, so DD1 stepped up. Of course, we are already like family to her - we have known her since she was 2.

Other than this, things are just moving ahead. DH is still working lots of hours up north and we are still saving for retirement.

Adoption is near! and a change may be in my future!

February 28th, 2018 at 04:18 pm

All the boxes have been checked, except the court saying it is so. It should be any time! DD2 asked if I would co-sign for a mini van. Her current car just fits everyone with no room for friends or others. I think that co-signing is a small thing to do for a daughter who has been so big hearted to the boys.

X's dad got out of prison and has been spending time with him. X gets so excited to see his daddy. The hard part is that Z sees the interaction and wishes his daddy was around too- but Zs dad just doesn't have the drive or capacity to get clean and to be a part of his life, and so we all do our best to help fill in the gap.

The hub has been working a lot of overtime this season. We have used the extra money to build the emergency fund, build a cushion for the months when he only gets 1-2 paychecks, and to pay down debt. I feel like we are well positioned for 2018 now. And he still has at least 4-6 more work weeks of busy season.

My son is still nudging me to come work for him. We have set a tentative date of August. I am ready to change career paths and to go part time, I just need to make sure insurance will work for me (either get on his or be added to the hubs). Working for my son would mean working from home. I love the idea of not having to drive to work every day. I live about 25 minutes outside of town and the idea of not having to make the drive sounds wonderful. I am not super social at work, although I do enjoy interacting with others. Generally when I work, I like to focus. I am sure being alone so much will be a change for me, but I also am confident I can handle it. Big Grin

My son's business is about 5 hours away, and I would need to travel there at least every month or so for a day or two. Of course, that means seeing my grandbabies, so I am a-ok with that!



Make that 6 weeks, and 401k growth

January 13th, 2018 at 06:15 pm

I am enjoying watching our 401k's growth, but it also makes me nervous given historical trends showing what goes (quickly) up, eventually comes down (corrects). Is anyone else nervous, or am I just being paranoid?

The hub worked 28 hours straight yesterday. One of the mechanics who tag-teams with him fell last week and broke his hip, so they are short staffed. 28 hours is crazy- and it's schedules like this that create an environment for accidents.. The hub wants the hours, but not to this degree. The hub also will work 6 weeks this hitch, rather than 5. Not only will he make significantly more with this schedule, but having just me here, our budget drops as well for the month. The extra will go to debt and savings. With our 401k growth, my son paying me back this year and the hubs extra earnings, we are likely to hit my BHAG a good 18 months early- which means work for me becomes optional that much sooner. Smile

Z and my youngest granddaughter (9) are spending the night tonight. GD also invited her bestie to join us. Should be a fun night. X (age 2) really wants to come too, but he is sick and I do not want what he has...so he'll have to come next time.

With everything going on today, it may be tomorrow before I tackle the freezer inventory. Smile