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A quick update

May 26th, 2015 at 09:42 pm

I haven't disappeared again but have been very busy and out of pocket.

Work has been crazy, of course. We're heading into Frappuccino season and the hours of making those drinks wear me out! When I get home, my feet and head hurt and I'm exhausted but I usually shower, put on some comfortable clothes, and go for a walk on a nearby trail. My usual route is about 3 miles but sometimes I walk the route twice and between the trail and work, end up with a 10 to 12 mile day. Walking helps to alleviate my stress and gives me plenty of quiet time for thinking. Besides, it's just good for me.

Pop passed away on the 12th of this month. Mom has had a rough time since then so I've spent a lot of my spare hours with her. Since he went to a nursing home a couple of months ago she was starting to adjust to living alone in their home but now it's permanent and she's not quite sure how to handle it. She'll be okay, I'm sure, but right now she needs me so a lot of my free time is spent with her.

We've started some plants in pots, Mom and I. We have lavender, rosemary, and a few other smellgoodums plus some tomato and squash plants. With all the rain we've had lately (if my apartment was big enough, I'd have started building an ark in it!) I'm not sure how well the things planted in the ground will do and that's why we opted for mostly container gardening. She has a very large patio and some of the containers have wheels so moving them into the rain and back onto the patio shouldn't be too difficult. If we only get a little bit of edible produce we'll be happy. If nothing else, tending to the plants gives Mom a bit of distraction.

Right after Pop died my ex was in the hospital. He needs a triple bypass and without it has maybe 6 months to live. He's home now, recuperating and resting and hopefully gaining the strength to be able to get the surgery. My sons are terribly worried about him, of course. The oldest went to stay with him while he was in the hospital but the youngest just started the new job in Utah so his brother told him to stay up there unless he was really needed.

May has been a hard month in my family.

On the finance front I'm doing okay. The bills are all paid on time and I manage to put aside a little money from each check. For now that's good enough. Mom is probably going to need some financial help so we've talked about me moving in with her. I really don't want to live with my mother but if she needs me, I'm there. Just half of what I spend on monthly living expenses would make a huge difference for her so when she's ready I'll probably move to her place.

Okay, I'm off to catch up with y'all!

Busy times and my annual review

April 18th, 2015 at 10:07 pm

Between work and genealogy, I've been pretty busy lately. For about 13 years I've tried to find the parents of a particular ancestress. My sister joined me in this obsession in 2009. Sometimes we get burned out on it and give up for awhile, then later get back on it. That's where we are now, hard at work trying to come up with more than a working theory about her parents. I love it but ugh, sometimes it's very frustrating. Genealogy is a great hobby, though, and one that's brought my sister and I closer. We love our "genealogy vacations" when we pack up her vehicle and head to KY and/or TN to research. Since we haven't made a lot of progress on this one person we're tentatively planning another trip for later this year, probably October but maybe a little later. I can't wait!

I had my annual review today and got the highest possible rating with no dings or negatives. Yaay! Even with the great review my raise isn't much but I'll bring home $50 to $75 more a month, depending on how many hours I get. I'll take it, thank you! Every little bit helps.

And now I'm off to get caught up with y'all and then get ready for an evening out.

Have a lovely Sunday!

"Consider doing something no one expects - even you"

April 12th, 2015 at 02:26 am

Those were the words texted to me yesterday by my youngest son.

He had sent me a text to let me know something about his upcoming trip to Utah (which it turns out is actually for the final interview - he isn't sure he has the job yet but we're still very excited!) We talked about how my new exercise regimen is going and he asked what I'd like for my birthday in three months. Since I'm on a path to minimalism I couldn't really think of anything tangible he and his brother might get me but we talked about membership at a local gym, a particular genealogy program I'd like, and a couple of other things. From there the conversation drifted into dealing with stress and since he seems so much more peaceful since his almost six month hike I asked for suggestions on dealing with stress. He asked if my job is the source of some of it and since it's the source of a lot of it, the conversation turned to having a job one likes but that isn't particularly rewarding or challenging.

My son said something about how I need to feel challenged and then I saw these words:

"Consider doing something no one expects - even you"

I haven't been able to get those words out of my mind.

I love my job most of the time but it isn't what I'd call challenging. It's downright routine now. Nor is there any real financial future in it. In fact, without a bachelor's degree I'm pretty much spinning my wheels with the company but oddly enough, I'm okay with that for the most part. I'm not sure why except that I'm not an ambitious person and not heavily into material possessions so money isn't much of a motivator for me.

It isn't like I'm well paid - I'm not. It isn't like I'm appreciated by my employer - I'm not. Employees are a dime a dozen and the company makes their belief in that clear. "Thank you" are words we rarely hear and a "good" raise is .20 an hour. So why do I stay???

Well, the job does pay the bills but just barely. I have health insurance that covers my needs but just barely. But my customers - I love them. I see them and can just feel my grin take over! Some of them are now friends and not just customers. The sad reality though is that I'm not sure the wonderful people I serve are enough to justify continuing in a job that barely helps me make ends meet and doesn't stimulate me intellectually even if I do enjoy the hell out of what I do.

So maybe I should take my son's words to heart and consider doing something no one, even me, expects. I'm not sure what that would be but my mind isn't able to let go of the words or the idea.

Just something to ponder on this lovely summer-like evening.

2 PM dental appointment and I'm terrified

April 6th, 2015 at 01:42 pm

A receptionist from the dentist's office I called in desperation at 1 AM just returned my call and I have an appointment at 2 PM today.

Folks, I'm absolutely terrified of dentists. I start crying before I even walk in the door and the tears don't stop until I leave. The smells, the sounds, the entire concept of dentistry just freaks me out.

This practice specializes in dentistry for chickens (i.e. they offer sedation dentistry) and that's one reason I chose them. Thank heavens for drugs and gases that help people like me!

The receptionist doesn't think the doctor will have time to actually work on the problem today but said they'll take xrays and he will most likely prescribe an anti-biotic and pain medication to help while I wait for the big appointment.

Gulp.

I don't have a clue how much this will cost and honestly I don't care at this point. I need relief and will do whatever it takes to get it.

Oh, Mom has decided that right now isn't a good time for a trip to Austin. The nursing home calls her about Pop almost every day and she told me that if something happened to him while she was gone she'd not forgive herself. So, that trip is on hold until....some day. And the money I'd earmarked for it will most likely go to the dentist.

I'm surprisingly okay with that.

Good thoughts for my mouth and nerves greatly appreciated.

A quick picture of me and my mother & ouch, I need a dentist!

April 5th, 2015 at 11:33 pm

I spent the day with my mother. We had a lovely traditional for us holiday dinner and I brought home some leftovers. Those will be nice this week.

I wanted to go to the nursing home to see Pop this evening but I woke up with some serious mouth pain and just don't feel up to it. I think I'm going to have to find a dentist who can see me ASAP. In the meantime, I'm taking 1/2 a hydrocodone every few hours when the pain gets to be too much.

Ugh, I don't have time for dental issues and perhaps time off work! Oh well, I'll do what I must.

Anyway, here's a selfie I took today of me and my mother.



I hope you all had a lovely day!

Things like this make my job so satisfying!

April 5th, 2015 at 11:27 am

One of our best baristas worked her last shift yesterday. Well, the last until sometime later this year. She's taken a LOA to move back to her hometown and get married and Zeus in a pink feather boa, I'm going to miss that girl!

She's young, perky, and has such a beautiful and sweet disposition. Even better, she stays calm when faced with long lines and perturbed customers. We work well together and feed off one another's energy and humor. In my seven years in that position, I haven't experienced that with many baristas.

We had just an hour together yesterday but after she clocked out she came to say goodbye and gave me a long and tight hug. When I went on break I found a hand decorated envelope in my lunch bag and inside was a card from her. As I read it, the onion ninjas appeared out of nowhere. Darn those ninjas!



I have some of the best regulars in my job and love each of them but Birdy is a very special barista. People like her, whether they work with me or get drinks from me, are part of what make my job so fun and satisfying.

I'll miss her!

Bye bye, Birdy!

And in totally unrelated news, I woke up with a swelling bottom lip and chin and dental pain. Oh joy.

Not directly related to my budget but I'm so proud of my son

April 4th, 2015 at 02:54 pm

A little background - My youngest son turned 30 last September. He celebrated on the Appalachian Trail, about halfway through an often miserable but always joyful southbound through hike that started on the first of June and ended the week of Thanksgiving. He wasn't with biological family for that milestone day but was with trail family, friends he'd made during the journey.

He's always been something of a free spirit, wanting to travel and spend time with Mother Nature. He's been a welder, a retail worker, a hardware store worker, a driver for the intoxicated but always a helper of people. His heart is with writing, though. And he's darn good at it.

He'd given up his apartment and job to go on the trail so when the hike was over he stayed with me for recuperation. During those couple of months he continued teaching himself programming, something he'd started awhile back, and learned so very much. He also spent a lot of his days writing. After he felt rested, he moved to the western part of the state to help his father, who isn't in the best health, with his business. He's been writing and hiking, using his skills and loving being outside. For several reasons the move might not have been the best thing. His dad doesn't really "get" him and although they love one another there's a bit too much conflict. Also, the business is slow right now and my son isn't earning money. He started to lose the sense of accomplishment the hike had given him and that made me so very sad for him.

The situation finally got to him and he applied for and got a job in Utah at a therapeutic wilderness camp for teens. He'll have several duties but a primary one will be responsibility for said teens during outdoor exploration. Wow, just wow. My son is moving to Utah to work with belligerent and troubled teenagers! He'll work several days then have several days off, giving him time to continue learning programming and to write the book that's been burning its way through his soul. He'll also have time to hike. And hike. And hike. And hopefully he'll be a good influence on some of those young people and help them find their way. To top it off, he'll get paid a pretty good wage to do something he seems to be cut out to do.

It won't be easy, I'm sure. Again he'll be far from home and family and he'll be smack dab in the middle of teens who don't want to be where they are. I don't envy him that. But what an opportunity for him!

For those of you who pray, please send out a few for Jon.

He tried to keep a blog while on the trail but the internet service was iffy at best most of the time and it was very difficult but if you'd like to read about his journey on the trail, you can do so here:

http://jonathanboyd.net/

The last entry was in December but if you go backwards you can read about some of the amazing adventures he had. Lions, and witches, and bears. Oh my!

Click on "images" to see some beautiful photos.

And to make this somewhat PF related, I helped finance the hike. It cost a lot more than I thought it would but I'd do it all again in a heartbeat.

Tuesday blathering

March 31st, 2015 at 10:54 pm

I woke up at 3 this morning. My alarm was set for 5 AM but I was so very tired last night that I crashed on the couch before 9:00 PM. I rarely sleep more than 5 hours at a time so sleeping until 3 was great. For some reason, my blood sugar was 244 at about 7 this morning! My insulin pump was functioning fine so I bolused some units to deal with the high and by 9 AM my blood sugar was back in the good range. Later in the day it was too high again, 277! I bolused a small amount of insulin and put away our weekly order. That's some pretty physical work and between the insulin and activity the blood sugar was 108 a little later when I checked it. When I got home, I changed my set even though I put in a new one last night. Ugh. Those sets are expensive so every time something like this happens I cringe. But diabetes stuff happens and it is what it is!

I worked a 7.5 hour shift but forgot my lunch so I spent $4.33 on that. Grrrrr! I don't do that often but I really need to do it never.

After work I went to the bank to deposit the tax refund check then by the nursing home to see Pop but he wouldn't even uncover his head. I sat in a chair for about an hour, talking to him now and then while he talked to someone else who wasn't there. Dementia sucks, folks. It just sucks. I finally left and called Mom and she told me she wants to get a weed eater tomorrow so when she's ready to get out and about we'll go get one of those and go to the nursing home. Maybe we'll be able to get Pop out of bed and to the dining hall for a little bit of socialization time. Neither of us needs to spend money on lunch so we'll probably come back to my place for a quick meal together before she heads home.

Yesterday evening and this morning I went over my expenses with a fine tooth comb, a very fine tooth comb! There isn't a lot I can do to eliminate or reduce expenses but here are a few things I've done or will do:

Put my HuluPlus subscription on hold and will cancel it in April. I don't have cable television and pick up no local stations so I've relied on HuluPlus, Netflix, and Amazon Prime for viewing. The main reason I got HuluPlus was to watch "Vikings" and an old science fiction series I loved but I haven't used the service in a couple of months so it can go. That's a savings of $8.49 a month.

Decide if I want to keep my Amazon Prime membership. I do a lot of my shopping using Prime so I need to think about this for awhile. I pay annually but If I cancel Prime in September when it's up for renewal, that will be a monthly savings of about $9.

Decided to keep Netflix. I use it for about 90% of my television viewing and feel it's worth the $17.30 I pay per month.

Reduced my Starbucks card reload amount to $30 a month and am considering reducing it to $20. Even though I work at a licensed Starbucks we don't routinely get free drinks. When the boss is there, she'll sometimes let us have one but we don't count on that. I don't drink their dessert in a cup drinks - just unsweetened iced tea, no water added and coffee, hot or iced, or an Americano with cream. I need to drink more water, though, so reducing the amount I spend at work will help with finances and water consumption. That's a savings of $20 a month.

Right now that's about all I can do but progress is progress. Right? Right?? Right! ;-)

I'm off for the next two days and need to do some preliminary moving stuff - you know, throw out what needs to go, pack what I'm not using, etc. I also need to clean the apartment and do laundry, work on my Coffee Master certification, and work hard to have two more no spend days. Yeehaw!

Three No Spend Days, trouble at the nursing home, and tax refund arrived

March 30th, 2015 at 11:23 pm

Saturday, yesterday, and today I spent nothing. I like no spend days and had planned for these so I feel as though I actually accomplished something.

I had an almost 6 hour shift at work and met Mom for lunch afterwards. It wasn't planned but she'd called me earlier in the day and told me about a problem with Pop at the nursing home and said she wanted to meet me to talk about it. We went to Luby's and she paid for lunch. How sweet! I tried to pay but she reminded me that I paid last time and ended the discussion with, "Besides, I'm your mother." as she handed a twenty to the cashier. 'Nuff said. ;-)

The situation with my stepdad isn't good. He's a fall risk and Saturday he fell trying to get out of a wheelchair and when Mom visited that day she was told he hadn't hurt himself. When she arrived today she found him with a bruised and swollen cheek, a bit of a black eye, and rib pain. X-rays show he has no broken ribs but he's hurting and of course, we're worried about him. We can't afford to hire a sitter to stay with him so the doctor suggested enrolling him in the hospice program at the home. Mom's going to make an appointment to talk to someone about that. I don't know a great amount about hospice but if it will give him more care and keep him safer it's worth looking into.

My tax refund arrived today. Darn it, it's a little over $200! That's too much. I really try to keep the refund amount under $100 but oh well.

I can't decide if I should put the refund amount toward the EF or use it for a trip to Austin my mother and I hope to take in May. My oldest son and his wife just bought their first home and it's been at least three years since I've gone to visit them and almost seven since Mom has. A short visit with them would be wonderful and my mother can definitely use a little time away. We'll split expenses so I might be able to put a little of the refund money in the EF. As much as I need to add to add to the EF I also need to spend some time with my son and his wife. So does Mom.

Sometimes emotional wellbeing needs to be a priority, if only for a few days. Okay, that settles it. Thanks for the advice, y'all. Ha!

The sun'll come out tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar....

March 30th, 2015 at 01:18 am

I'm almost $300 over my budget for March. That's the bad news.

The good news is that I'm still working a job I love most of the time, have food to eat, a wonderful family, a bed to rest in, and a life that's absolutely wonderful! Also, I didn't need to fall back on credit to make up for the deficit and there are two days left in this month - two days of opportunity for something good to happen. Wooot!

The sun'll come out
Tomorrow
Bet your bottom dollar
That tomorrow
There'll be sun!

Here's hoping Monday will be spectacular. :-)

Long time no blog!

March 29th, 2015 at 02:34 am

Way too long! Umm, a little over three years too long. ;-)

I'm still alive, still working as a barista at the same place, and still keeping my head above water, though sometimes just barely on that last one.

So much has changed in my life in the last three years. The man person, the one from whom I was separated, passed away after a brief illness. That threw me into a tailspin for awhile.

My stepfather's dementia has escalated and he was recently moved into a nursing home after a short hospital stay. If he's going to be there long term, I'll move in with my mother. She can't handle the expenses alone and taking care of the house and acreage is physically too much for her. Fortunately, they moved closer to me last year so although my drive to work will be a little longer than the one I currently have, it won't be bad. Also, there will be plenty of space for a garden! We've already decided to do container gardening again and are both very excited about that.

On the PF front, I'm doing okay. I have a little bit of money saved, have honed my scrimping skills, drastically reduced food waste, still use Netflix for entertainment, and my love for Dave hasn't waned. I still use his envelope system and still listen to his show. His EveryDollar app is one of my favorites! Yeah, I finally upgraded to an iPhone from my decrepit, barely functioning Blackberry. I have my son to thank for that, though. He gave me his old iPhone and added my line to his account so I now have a better phone and no phone bill. Thank you, son!

I'm still plugging away at paying off a couple of older debts. Ugh, would they please just disappear? At least I have no new debt and I'm thankful for that.

Before I stopped blogging here, I'd quit smoking. Well, that quit was busted but on January 21 of 2014 I had my last cigarette. I started vaping and although I still vape I'm down to 3 mg nicotine most of the time and foresee giving it up before too long. I know it's not as good as *no* nicotine but even my physician approves as long as I have a doable plan for quitting.

I'm still on my journey to minimalism. It's been a long and very interesting one. I've been in this one bedroom apartment for almost five years (wow, has it been that long?) and had accumulated too much stuff. Dealing with it was a source of distress for me, though. I'm not sure why except that it had taken me so long to get what I had that getting rid of any of it just seemed not quite right. On the other hand, it really was just stuff. I've given away a lot of it, sold some, and put some in dumpsters. Having more space and fewer material possessions to care for is so very liberating. Having less is easier now because I just seem to want less. I see this as serious progress in my emotional and financial health.

Anyway, I decided I really need to blog here again and to read other blogs here. The motivation provided is so helpful and I need that.

Nothing says "Don't buy that blouse/book/coffee!" like some of the entries here.

So there you have it, folks. Howdy! Again. :-)

Thrifty eating, another $5 a month cut out, cable gone & a weekend off!

January 7th, 2012 at 04:29 am

I worked today and took lunch and a drink but still ended up buying a drink while there. I also had to get half and half (a requirement for my coffee!) so this evening I went to Albertson's and spent $12 on a few things. I still have $15 in my grocery budget to last til the end of next week so I'm doing fine on that.

Dinner was more of that delicious Mexican stew and a bit of the King Ranch Chicken. It was a very good meal but I'm so thankful there's just a little of that stew left! I'll probably have it for breakfast and finally be done with it.

I changed my Spotify subscription to the $4.95 a month plan so that cuts out another $5 per month. That isn't a lot but it all adds up, right? Between not spending money on cigarettes and the other changes I've made, my monthly outgo should now be about $346 less.

346! That's a substantial difference, y'all!

The cable company sent their tech out this evening to disconnect my cable television service so that's done.

And I'm actually off this weekend. It's not often I get a weekend off so I'm going to savor this one and relax. And probably look for other places and ways to cut expenses!

It's almost over...

December 22nd, 2011 at 04:59 am

Zeus in a feather boa, it's almost christmas which means the insanity is almost over! I can't even begin to say just how happy that will make me. Work will slow down and be much less stressful. In fact, it will slow down enough that some folks will whine because they aren't getting enough hours! I might be a tiny bit whiny over that but not too much. I hope. Wink

I just know that it's time for it to be over. Past time....

Carol Hardie - are you out there?

December 14th, 2011 at 01:24 pm

Carol Hardie used to be pretty active among the bloggers but apparently her blog isn't around anymore. She last posted on someone else's blog in October. Does anyone know how to reach her or how she is? Just wondering how she is....

General December stuff - budget and holiday and work, oh my!

December 14th, 2011 at 01:47 am

So I had another low spend day today. I took lunch, snacks and a drink to work but bought an iced coffee on my break. I worked alone from 7:30 to 5:00 so trust me when I say I needed that coffee! Other than that, I didn't spend and I'm okay with that.

I need to buy gas tomorrow so I'll spend about $50 on that but that should be all for tomorrow. The next day I go to my mother's house but unless she wants to go out for lunch or do a bit of shopping, I shouldn't spend much, if anything.

When I got in from work tonight I was starved but nothing on my menu sounded good so I had two beef hot dogs, no bun, with low sugar ketchup and some mustard. Not thrilling and not nutritious but meh, it was food.

Mom and I finalized the christmas dinner plans tonight. I don't celebrate this holiday - in fact, I generally run, screaming, as far as I can get from it. I don't participate in the gift thing, I don't send cards. I don't have a tree or a single ornament or christmas decoration. I simply don't participate. However, I do enjoy seeing my family on any day, including that one, and this year we're gathering at Mom's house. I doubt that my sons will be there since they came up for Thanksgiving. And one of my nephews has to work. I'm not sure about the other folks yet. But since we're going to have a small group and Mom hasn't been feeling very well, we decided to keep it very simple. One of my nieces hosted Thanksgiving. It was her first time and everyone went all out! There was a huge crowd and way too much food. We don't want or need to do that again so we're having Tex-Mex for dinner. Smile

Mom is going to buy enchiladas from a local place that makes awesome ones and the rest of us will make and bring the sides of rice, beans, sopa, chips and tortillas, salsa, queso, guacamole, and perhaps even a Tres Leches cake. Hopefully, doing it this way will save on her stress level so she can rest. And we'll have more time to just sit and enjoy the gathering. I really like this idea! I close at work on the night before and the night after and I'm going to be exhausted so this works well all the way around.

Plus, no one will be out much money at all.

Ole! Wink

Here's to starting anew!

December 10th, 2011 at 08:59 pm

Most of us get excited over starting new things. Starting a new job or a new relationship can be very exciting and very nerve-racking. I've done both of those several times and was a bundle of nerves, albeit happy nerves! But now I'm starting something else that's new. A new life.

It actually started almost 18 months ago with the traumatic but not unexpected breakup with the man I'd been with for 15 years. Although it was heart wrenching and agonizing at the time, I can now honestly say it was the right thing and it was the best thing. I don't know that I could have said that 18 months ago and I'm so very grateful I can say that, and mean it, now.

I started this blog on December 29, 2006 and really enjoyed keeping it. I appreciated the input from all the finance savvy folks here and said more than once that I want to be like Ima Saver when I grow up. That stands. Smile

But now it's just me and Sammy, my cat. I'm still at the same job I had when I last posted here. I'm a barista in a licensed Starbucks. I clean houses now and then on the side. And I now have a small apartment furnished with things I love. I have good friends and a supportive family. It's a good life but I'm rejuvenating my commitment to my personal finances which are drastically reduced since the breakup. I'm a lot better off than many people - I don't owe on my vehicle, I don't have a mortgage, I know how to shop wisely, I seldom eat out, and the debt I have is very small and can be paid off quickly.

My mother and stepfather have had a lot of health issues in the last couple of years and depending on how things go with them, I might have to quit my job early in 2012 and move in to help care for them. That isn't what I want to do but it is what it is.

In the meantime, I'm ready to live again and part of that is preparing for the future.

I need to re-write the information on goals and such because most of those have changed.

Anyway, that's it in a nutshell. I'm back and ready to start anew! And I'm so excited so many of y'all are still here and active!

I'm back after almost two years!

December 10th, 2011 at 12:38 pm

I haven't posted on this blog for almost two years but I'm back. I hope.

I've had a major change in my life - I'm now on my own. I won't go into detail but will simply say the last 18 months have been an enlightening and educational experience.

I have to head to work in a few so this will be very short. I don't know how many of the 'old ones' are still around but I'll try to get caught up this afternoon when I get home.

A no spend day, very cold weather, & the picture taking challenge

January 8th, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Yesterday was my long a** shift at work (that's what I call it) so I took lunch of leftover crustless spinach and cheese quiche with a small piece of the lower carb faux cornbread I had leftover. I had that for lunch with some ice water and it was very good, indeed.

The man person and I went out for chinese but used our gift certificate which helped us finish the day as a no spend day. Yaaaay!

This morning it's 19 degrees out. Brrrrr! I don't go to work until this evening and then I work only a 3.5 hour shift so I hope to do very little today that involves going outside. I'd like to just stay inside if possible. I don't think any bills are due but I'll look over them and pay any that are, move some money into savings, and do a little more gathering of stuff to sell/give away.

Oh yes, my youngest step son is here so I'll probably put up a picture later of the two of us as part of my picture taking challenge from January 1st! I might even be able to get him to take a picture of me and the man person. If so, I'll share it.

Have a great day, all!

Non-finance related mission for you all, if you dare!

January 1st, 2010 at 11:19 am

I got this idea last night from the owner of a Yahoo Group I'm in and she got the idea from a blog she read. I really love this idea and thought I'd pass it on here.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to be in one picture a week with someone for whom you care. This can be kids, spouses, friends, co-workers, even pets if you like!

I definitely am not photogenic and get a little freaked out seeing a picture of myself but if I did this every week for the next 52 weeks at the end of 2010 I'd have a nice collection of photos of me with people I care about. Even as a self-conscious person that appeals to me... not so much for the photos of me but for the photos of the people in my life. I have few photos of my daughter who died and just two of me with her and a small handful of photos of my sister and again just two of me with her. This is partially because I'm often the one taking the picture and partially because I'm so self-conscious. But that needs to stop.

I don't have kids here and don't even have a pet but I can get pictures of me with the man person, co-workers, my mom and stepdad, friends, etc.

And that's what I'm going to do. I'll even post the pictures here. I think that's a fine way to get 2010 going.

Are you brave enough to join me?

Quick wrap up of 2009 & today's spending

December 31st, 2009 at 10:19 pm

Okay, so this year was good, bad, and even ugly financially.

The Good:

The man person's business is doing pretty well and pays most of the bills. I'm still working at the job I've had for two years and we manage to save a good portion of what I bring in or we use it for "fun" stuff.

In May of 2009 I opened a 401(k) with my employer and while there isn't much in there, it's something. I also have a very small pension amount with them. I doubt that I'll be with the company for 20 more years but who knows? It could happen.

We're about 1/3 of the way to having a fully funded EF but feel pretty good about what we have in it now. Even the amount we have gives us some security.

We rarely are late to pay a bill now. When it does happen, it's because I simply forget to deal with it, not because we don't have the money.

Our credit reports look a hell of a lot better than they did two years ago.

The Bad:

There isn't much in my 401(k) or pension account. Yeah, they've only existed for a few months but I want them stuffed with goodies..now!

We're only 1/3 of the way to having a fully funded EF. I want it fully funded..now!

Once in a while I'm forgetful and we don't get a bill paid on time. I want to have no bills to pay..now!

Our credit reports, while looking a lot better than they did two years ago, still have a hickey or two on them. I want them cleaned up..now!

Okay, so I'm a little impatient.

And the Ugly:

We have that $45,526.52 hospital bill to tend to. We have a payment plan set up with the surgeon but will throw extra at it and are paying on the pathology bill and will throw extra at it, too, but that hospital bill just looms over us as we try to figure out the best way to deal with it.

All in all, I'd say 2009 was a good year for us financially. Not spectacular but better than 2008 and certainly much better than previous years.

And here's hoping the upward trend continues in 2010.

Oh yeah, here's today's spending:

Laundry - $2.50
Cigarettes - $4.70
Denise Cell Phone - $80 (this is normally around $45 but I got a new phone and part of the monthly charge was pro-rated so this bill was higher than usual)
Americano to have while washing clothes - $2.11

Post holiday stuff, more this and that, here and there

December 27th, 2009 at 04:27 pm

Even though I don't "do" Christmas, I really enjoyed taking Mom and Pop to Dallas to see the family. Both of my sisters were there, both nephews, two of my three nieces, etc. The ex husband of one of my sisters was there and he brought his best friend from waaay back, someone I hadn't seen in well over 20 years. The food was great, the company was fantastic, and the day over all was wonderful! I got some pictures but most aren't too good, darn it. We only stayed a few hours and headed back that evening. The traffic wasn't bad at all and I wasn't too late getting home.

The next morning I had to be at work at 6:30, which I wasn't thrilled about but oh well, such is life. It was a crazy, busy day, though! I think the post -holiday sales brought more people than the pre-holiday sales and we stayed very busy all day long.

The man person and I did a little grocery shopping this morning and I do mean a little. We don't need much and spent a tad over $13. I'll fund that envelope again Friday morning but until then we have $9 left to spend on food. Woot! Wink Like I said, though, we don't really need anything so that's no real challenge.

Speaking of challenges, I'm working on 2010 goals and not getting very far. The hospital and physician bills we have to deal with have crimped the plan and I'm not sure just what to do so I'm pondering it and considering options before proceeding with next year's goals.

Okay, time to head to work. Have a great day, all.

No white stuff for us!

December 25th, 2009 at 12:35 pm

The storm cell that was to bring freezing precipitation broke up and we woke to very cold but dry weather this morning. We had a few tiny snow flurries yesterday but not enough to notice unless you were actually looking for them.

So, I'm headed out in awhile to pick up my mother and stepdad and get to Dallas for the day. It will be good to see my sisters and nieces and nephews and just spend time with the family. Too bad my boys won't be there but the oldest left me voice mail last night saying they aren't mad and wishing me a happy holiday. I think they were mad and had time to cool down and realized that perhaps they weren't being fair.

In any event, have a safe and healthy day and a great weekend!

Major plan muck ups and a better late than never menu

December 24th, 2009 at 11:36 pm

It's Thursday and it's been sleeting a little and now it's snowing. It isn't a heavy snow and it probably won't stay too long since the ground is too warm but we're under a winter weather advisory until tomorrow morning, anyway.

Unfortunately, this weather put a crimp in my plans. My sons are in Dallas but they have to head back to Austin tonight or in the morning and I had planned to go see them but by the time I left work the meteorological nastiness had started. I can't drive in unfamiliar territory in the dark and a trip to Dallas in this was just too scary for me so I decided not to go. I'm afraid my sons are miffed at me now and I understand why but as much as I love them and want to see them, it's just too risky to head out in bad weather for a 2.5 hour drive. So, I'm going to take a week off in January, I hope, and take Amtrak to Austin and spend that time with them. I hope they don't stay mad too long. I hate when that happens!

So, it's Thursday and I'm just now getting around to posting this but oh, well!

Sunday we had baked cod with spinach and salad.

Monday we had Swiss Steak with mashed cauliflower and green beans.

Tuesday we had homemade chili I'd prepared in the slow cooker. It was exceptionally tasty with a couple of crackers and there was plenty left to have for lunch the next day.

Wednesday night we had Jewish Chicken with steamed broccoli and wild rice. No self respecting Jew would eat it, I think, not an Orthodox one, anyway, and I didn't name it. But oh man, is it good!

Thursday night's fare is YOYO, You're On Your Own. We have some leftover Jewish Chicken and a nice selection of deli meats and cheeses so finding something won't be hard.

Hopefully I'll be with my family in Dallas Friday, weather permitting. If so, there will be turkey, dressing, green beans, desserts and most of the traditional fare. Yum! And if things pan out the way I hope they do, I'll bring home plenty of leftovers and we'll have those over the weekend.

I'll post next week's menu on Sunday, provided I don't forget. Wink

Happy eating!

I don't do Christmas but....

December 24th, 2009 at 09:25 pm

I hope you all have a safe, happy, and healthy holiday. Enjoy your loved ones, eat til your appetite is sated and cheer your favorite football team!

In the event you have a few minutes with nothing to do, you might look at this site:

http://adventconspiracy.org/

It's Christmas related but at least they seem to be headed in a better direction than most folks and I think a lot of you will appreciate their purpose.

Peace out and stay safe!

Totally OT but a tornado just touched down near us!

December 23rd, 2009 at 10:54 pm

It's done some damage but is moving away from our area at this time. However, we're smack dab in the middle of a nasty cell that's spawning a few of them... please keep little ol' Denise and her family in your prayers!

Whew! That cell has moved on but more nastiness is on the way, apparently, and we're under a tornado watch until 9:30 or so tonight. The tornado touched down about a mile from us and stayed on the ground for about 20 miles. They aren't sure how much damage was done but know there was some.

I just love living in East Texas!

Look what I saw!!!!

December 21st, 2009 at 03:25 pm

Yesterday, I walked out of the office to head to the van and this is what I saw!



I ran back in to get my camera and grabbed a few shots of the balloons as they went by.



We were a little concerned about how low this one was and the man person got a photo of it with me in the foreground.

Anyway, it was interesting to see several of these lovelies floating so close to us. I hope you enjoy them!









I sure did!!

Probable explanation for why business has slowed...

December 20th, 2009 at 09:41 pm

As I mentioned in an earlier entry, the man person's business has been slow recently. It isn't dangerously slow and we aren't really worried but it's a little troublesome. This week the shop brought in a little over the minimum we need it to and that's a great thing but since October there's been a definite lag going on.

While we were out today we went by one of the businesses that very often sends referrals our way. The man and the employee at said business started talking shop and the employee mentioned that her company didn't hire new folks for the holiday, implemented a hiring freeze, is consolidating management, and is laying off quite a lot of people. She also stated that they're having a hard time meeting last year's numbers much less exceed them as they're expected to do and they're being pushed to sell, sell, sell. Ahhh, this explains why we don't get so many referrals from them and it's exactly what we thought was going on!

The pressure is more than likely on all the corporate stores that send us referrals and the smaller local shops are probably feeling it, too. We're still not worried but we're very grateful for our low operating expenses and emergency fund which we haven't needed to tap but lends some feelings of security.

Dave and Suze (and other money savvy folks) are right - everyone needs the security of an emergency fund, call it what you will, and if you don't have it, 2010 is a great time to get it. Start now by selling what you don't need or want, working extra hours, cutting back on whatever you can until you have at least 3 months of living expenses. Once you have that, work toward having 6 months, then 9 months, then a full year.

Trust me, the security alone makes the effort worth it. And a good night's sleep goes a long way toward making all sorts of rough times liveable.

Here and there, this and that...

December 20th, 2009 at 05:07 pm

Besides paying bills and putting gas in the van I haven't spent much at all. I forgot to take my lunch to work yesterday and the shift was too long to go without eating or drinking so I spent about $5 but other than that the spending has been kept down to a dull roar and I've managed to have at least two no spend days the last week. Yaaay for NSD! My shift today is a short one and I'll eat dinner before I go so I shouldn't have to spend any money. But I'll take along a small container of soup and a drink just in case.

Speaking of soup, last night I put the ingredients for split pea soup in one of the slow cookers and I've already had a small bowl of it this morning. I'm on a split pea soup kick right now and who knows how long it will last. I love the stuff and it sure is good when it's cold outside.

Today we have to do a little grocery shopping so we'll go to the bank to get money for groceries and gas. Things are a little tight right now so well get only what we need - creamer, milk, bread, etc. No luxuries, no fun stuff!

There's a young woman at my place of employment who seems to spend too much of her time struggling with finances. Actually there are several young women there like this but right now I focus on the one with whom I work most often. Her checking account is often in the negative and she wonders why she never has money. She lives with family members, half of her income goes to bills and the other half, somewhere around $800, apparently gets frittered. We've talked briefly before about this issue but she approached the subject with me again last night. I quickly explained the zero based budget concept to her and by the time we were finished talking her eyes were tearing slightly.

I think she's truly agonizing over this and doesn't want to wake up some morning to the realization that she's 47 and scrambling to deal with debts, retirement, and the fact that the "plenty of time" she had to plan and save has passed her by. I invited her to stop by the office some time so we could talk more about this. I'm not sure just how to get through to a young person like this but I want to help her if I can. I imagine my mother thought the same thing about me when I was young. But I wonder if telling her about some of my personal experiences and how challenging it is now to play catch up would help. It might. If you have suggestions on this, please share them with me!

How do YOU keep track of income/expenses, etc?

December 17th, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Out of curiosity, how do you keep track of your budget items? Do you use a computer program like You Need A Budget or do you use a ledger or something else?

Since we're Dave fans, we do the sheets at the end of the month for the next month but that helps us figure out what's due and not the other intricacies of our finances, which is where we need more help.

I really need to find a system that works for us so I figured I'd pick the brains of you moolah mavens. Whatever method you use, please share the pros and cons of that method. I'm open to any and all suggestions.

Mmm, what's that I smell? No, it isn't money, darn it.

December 16th, 2009 at 06:17 pm

Too bad it isn't money but it is baking chicken and a pot of split pea soup. Mmmm! Neither of those are on the menu for this week but one of the nice things about my kind of menu planning is the flexibility it provides. I'm off today and it's cold outside and that put me in a cooking mood so rather than make Swiss Steak, which is what I had in mind for tonight's dinner and doesn't take much effort or create a great smelling house, I put a highly seasoned whole chicken in the countertop convection oven and started a pot of soup in one of the slow cookers.

The man person isn't too fond of split pea soup but will eat mine once in awhile. Instead of cooking the peas until they're mushy or running them through a blender, ending up with a pot of green gunk, I cook them in a pot of broth with seasonings, vegetables, and meat. The resulting soup is ambrosia on a cold day! Today's version is made with beef broth, one small red potato, carrot, onion, green beans, plenty of garlic and the meat from a smoked turkey leg. Oh man, it smalls so good and tastes better!

And to keep this on the topic of personal finance, having the soup and chicken ready to go will keep us from eating lunch or dinner out, saving us about $20 for each of those meals. Okay, that's a tenuous tie to personal finance but it works. Wink

Happy eating, all!


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