Friday, May 29, 2020

Today is a Better Day

Up until this morning, the days were hard to get through with the passing of our bulldog Princess.  I woke up feeling like the weight of grief had been lifted.  I am grateful for that and am content know that Princess is in a better place without pain and suffering.

Yesterday I went to a Covid-19 drive-thru testing center.  I wanted to get tested for the antibodies to see if I had them.  Today was the last day that this particular center was going to be open and the test is only $20. 

If you do end up having the antibodies it does not guarantee that you won't get  Covid-19, but if you do get it it may be a less significant case of it.  But who really knows?   

I was super sick in late February and I am curious if I had a case of Covid-19  or maybe it was just the flu. 

On the way back from the testing center, I passed by Goodwill.  They have been open since the 15th of this month, but I have only now had a chance to go.  They had arrows on the floor to promote proper direction in the aisles, and the announcements reminded everyone to practice social distancing.  I think everyone was cognizant of staying proper distances from everyone else and we all tried to pay attention to the arrows on the floor. 

There were a few fun finds that I feel pretty good about being able to flip on eBay.  After that, I took a ride to town about 20 minutes south to pick up a box of items that I found on FaceBook Market place.  It was a porch pick up, they left the items on their porch and I left the money under their front doormat.

Before I put the items in the back of my car, (both from Goodwill and the FB porch pickup) I spray them down with alcohol.  I keep a small spray bottle of alcohol in my car at all times.

 I use it on my self when I get back in my car from shopping, on my purse, and any purchases while they are in the bag before take-off for my next destination. Does it help?  I hope so.  I feel better when I use it.

My budgeting and saving have been ignored for the last couple of weeks.  We were busy taking care of Princess, running to different veterinarians, and mourning her passing.  Bills were paid on time, but that is about it.  The vet bills took a chunk out of savings, but it what it is.  I am grateful we had the cash to cover it. 

Time to get busy with a new day.  Enjoy your Friday!

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Letting Go of Princess

The last two weeks have been filled with visits to the Veterinarian, Emergency Veterinarians, and Opthomologic Veterinarians. 

My Princess was sick and dying from mast cell cancer.  The cancer metastasized to her nasal cavity, blocking it and pushing her left eye back out of the socket. 

We kept her comfortable as possible as we researched options.  Unfortunately the location of the mass greatly limited any treatment plans for a full recovery. 

We made the decision last Friday to help her across the rainbow bridge.  Our vet came to the house and Princess crossed over pain free and surrounded by love.

The hole she left in our hearts is huge.  I miss her so much. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Busy, busy, busy

Last week was my week to work with the kiddos as they completed their daily school assignments.  Some days were longer than others, I think we are all glad that school is almost over.  Glad and a little bit sad. I really have enjoyed the time we have spent working on their distance learning.

Minivan Birthday parade!
Last Thursday was my oldest grandkiddo's birthday.  With the pandemic/social distancing, there is not too much that you can do to celebrate a special day.  His group of friends have all had birthdays these last few weeks and we have celebrated them all in a different way.  There was a chalking event at one little boy's house.  His mom arranged for all of his friends, teachers, whoever to stop by and chalk a Happy Birthday greeting on his driveway for him to see later that day.  Another mom arranged for friends to come over and shout Happy Birthday from the street to the birthday boy. 

For my grandson's birthday, there was a small parade of minivans that arranged to pass by our house with the vans decorated with balloons and posters.  It was awesome!

I had a great Mother's Day, all my kids came over for a surprise breakfast. One son bought over breakfast from our favorite donut shop and donuts of course.  It was so nice to have all the kids home at the same time even for just a couple of hours.  My heart was full. 

eBay has been keeping me busy for the last couple of weeks too.  Sales are pretty good and I almost have all my stuff that has been laying around listed.  I am hovering around 900 listings, and still trying to get to 1000.  If I can find more space to store inventory, I will definitely push past 1000 listings.

Time to hit the hay!  Hope you all are doing well!

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Revisiting 2020 Goals

1.   Work on reducing the HELOC balance.  The amount is considerable ($84,107.73) but I am dedicated to whittling it down by $20,000 in 2020.  Okay, I realize that $20,000 is a HUGE goal, and I hesitated at this amount.   I had to convince myself not to lower it because I did not want to set my self up for failure.  But, the only failure is not trying.  Any amount put towards lowering the balance will be a success. So there you go!

  • As of May 1, 2020, the HELOC balance is $79,157.65

2.  Increase Emergency Savings from $1000.00 to $3000.00.  Right now our emergency fund carries about $1200.00, but by the end of the year, we would like to increase that to $3000.00 for a little more peace of mind.

  • As of May 1, 2020 we have $1000.00 in our brick and mortar savings account, $1965.00 in our Capital One 360 Emergency Account named "Safety in Numbers" and $1457.00 in our Stimulus 2020 account also located at Capital One 360 for a total of $4422.00.  I originally started with multiple sinking funds at Capital One with small amounts going into each designated account biweekly.                                                                                Then the Covoid 19 virus showed up and I decided to build up our emergency savings to at least 3 months of bare-bones living expenses.  We calculated that amount to be at least $6000.00 

3. Getting healthy. Time to focus on getting rid of some extra weight and change our eating habits.  This is a goal that we have every year, and every year we fail.  My stumbling block is I am an emotional eater and consume food when I am happy or when I am sad.

  • This is a work in progress. I have been walking almost daily, but the emotional eating is still happening. 

4.  Building online income.  I sell on eBay and (will be expanding to Etsy) and it is consistently inconsistent. But I will continue to work at adding listings, tweaking what is already listed, and promote on Pinterest and Twitter. The earnings will go towards paying down the HELOC.
  • I am still listing and selling on eBay ( Have a look at my eBay store) and have decided to not expand to Etsy.  It is enough work for me to manage eBay. Jan and Feb were good months, March and April are not that great, but you still gotta keep plugging along! 
5.  Christmas 2020  Set a Christmas spending budget which I currently estimate to be at $1000.  This includes spouse, grown kids, grandkids, Christmas tips for my hairdresser, pool guy, mail person, and our pastors.  Maybe If I set an amount NOW, it won't be such a shock in December.
  • Future goal.  First is to build up the emergency savings. 
I will finish ALL holiday shopping by Thanksgiving!! No more of this last-minute stuff. My mom ALWAYS finished her shopping by Thanksgiving and I use to do the same.  I really need to do it again, to enjoy the holidays without the stress of  Christmas shopping.
  • Still a goal!
6.  Have more fun!  Life is short and I know that saving money, budgeting, and being frugal is important.  But....   having fun and enjoying life is just as important!   Living in Central Florida provides many opportunities to visit theme parks and be a kid again.  An annual Disney Pass is one of my sinking funds/categories. I love to go and visit the theme parks with my grandkids or even by myself.  They make me happy.
  • Disney trips are on hold for who knows how long. The parks are closed due to the pandemic and we will just have to wait and see how it all shakes out.    We will find a way to have fun that does not include theme parks.  The home quarantine has brought to light all the things you can do at home to have fun, board games, painting rocks, and there is always the pool.  
7.  Plan a Trip  To Wisconsin.  It is family reunion time!  I am hoping my anxiety won't get in the way of travel this year.  We will have to put away a couple of thousand for this trip for travel and lodging.  I really want to go, but the anxiety of planning gets to me.  I know once I get there it will be fine.  But, I have to get there first.
  • On hold.
8.  Roth IRA..... hello....  you remember me, don't you?  My retirement planning has become more important than ever.  I will research ways to better invest with my ROTH and shop and interview financial planners. We have one now, but I need to make sure he is the best person for me and my retirement goals.

  • I am fine with my current financial planner. As far as my ROTH, well I don't know.  I may pull it out to pay down the HELOC. We will see. 

9.  Read 10 books.  I miss reading books.  With everything online, I spend too much time reading and catching up online.  I could not tell you when the last time I actually held a book in my hands and read for enjoyment.  It has been a while, that's for sure.
  • I have read one book so far. Sigh.
10.  Compile a folder/notebook for our estate planning.   I need to put all of our "financial things and paperwork" in one place for safekeeping.  A notebook with all current accounts and final wishes and arrangements will make things easier for the family members who have to take care of it.
  • Kinda forgot about this and need to get to work on it. 
There is nothing suggesting that the end is near, but I need to get all this in one place for peace of mind for us and our family.

So there it is a list of goals for 2020.  For me, it will be motivation to stay the course for self-improvement and paying down debt.  I have put up yearly goals in years past, sometimes they motivate me and sometimes they are so overwhelming that I will self sabotage my own success.
Self, let's stay on the side of success and not self-sabotage this year. 

I am happy with what we have accomplished financially, we still have a ways to go.  How are you doing on your 2020 goals?   

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Transfer Tuesday and Paying Down Debt 4/28/2020

Hello Tuesday!  This is the day that we make an extra effort to pay down our debt.  Most every Tuesday we apply extra cash (whether it be BIG or small) to our outstanding debt.  This helps keeps us aware of and accountable for our debt. And it all makes a difference.

My last Transfer Tuesday was March 10th.  Shortly after that, the Covoid 19 was starting to impact our country, and things were beginning to change.  I recall sitting with our tax guy and talking about the curfews that were going to start for our counties and I also recall how nervous and unsettling this made me feel.  Maybe it affected you in a similar way?

We did get a tax refund, but I used that to pay off a credit card that I used to buy groceries, ( a lot of groceries) before the shutdowns and curfews kicked in.  During this time, I knew that I would be much more prepared for any future similar situations by building a stockpile of storable food items and TOILET PAPER.

Current Balance $79,685.00
  • Payment of $27.35 CC rewards
  • Payment of $500.00 from hubs OT
New Balance $79,157.65

Just for a little perspective, when I started to focus on paying down the HELOC, we started 12/15/19 with a balance of $84,630.00. This is a $5472.35 REDUCTION in the balance.  Our goal is to reduce the HELOC balance by $20,000.00 this year. Only $14,527.65 to go!

Monday, April 27, 2020

Monday and a Small List

Happy Monday!  I have been up since 4:00 AM with shoulder pain.  This pain is not unfamiliar to me
since I have had rotator cuff surgery on my other shoulder 10 years ago.  My other shoulder, the one that is screaming with pain is currently being iced to help with the pain.

I have not yet went to the doctor to get it checked out, waiting for the Covid 19 to settle down and see when things get back to the new normal.  The ice definitely helps with the pain and inflammation.  It is not ice, but a gel ice pack that I used when I had knee replacement surgery a couple of years ago.

On the agenda today is distance learning for the kiddos, that starts at about 9AM.  I happily have several packages to ship from eBay sales this weekend and will try to get those done on before the post office closes today.  Oddly enough, I find packing up items to ship therapeutic.

Things on my list to do today:

  • List eBay items
  • Sweep off the front porch
  • Do a couple loads of laundry
  • Take a power nap

That's about it.  What is on your list of things to do today? 

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Keeping Busy This Weekend

Yesterday was a busy day around here. I started with a list typed out on my phone and managed to get almost all of them done.  The morning started with prepping hard-boiled eggs in the rice cooker.  And then on a whim, I decided to try to use the rice cooker for its actual purpose, cooking rice.  I had jasmine rice on hand and it turned out to be pretty good.  Who knew??

Last week I purchased some seeds from Etsy.  The seed included Pigeon Peas, Cranberry Hibiscus,
and Everglade Tomatoes. I also ordered cuttings of Cuban Oregano and Longevity Spinach.  Yesterday I used egg cartons to plant the seeds to get them going.  

I was fascinated with the Everglade Tomatoes, they are a fast-growing, heat-tolerant plant that grows prolifically. The tomatoes that they produce are about the size of a quarter.  They are supposed to be quite tasty as well.  

The Cranberry Hibiscus produces edible leaves and flowers. The leaves and flowers are light pink in color.   I have not grown a hibiscus plant from seed, so this will be interesting.  Will I make Hibiscus tea with the flowers when the plant matures?  I may try it.  I am looking forward to seeing the pink flowers. 

The cuttings of Oregano and Longevity Spinach were transferred to our container garden.  My granddaughter and I have several Home Depot buckets for plants and flowers.  Two weeks ago she and I planted Sunflower seeds, Watermelon seeds, and Zinnia Seeds.  They are sprouting and the process of growing from seed to plants is exciting to her.  Truth be told, it is exciting to me too. 

I had wanted to make a batch of Weight Watcher Taco Chicken soup but I did not have any black beans.  They are on the list for our grocery shopping next week and I will try to get it made for next weekend.  

An interesting effect of the pandemic is we are also shopping from my daughter's employer ( a regional hospital).  Since the census is low due to the restrictions on elective surgeries, etc the cafeteria has an oversupply of different items.    They are currently offering Boar's Head deli meats for a reduced price, deli cheese, and container of flour and sugar.  Crazy, right?

Have you checked out the TikTok app?  Oh man, don't do it!  It is a huge time suck!  I know I have wasted several hours watching the entertaining videos.  Some are cute, some will make you cry, some will make you laugh, it is app crack!  

I have a few listings to put up on eBay today, a few items to pack up for tomorrow to take to the post office.  There is always stuff to do around here, its a matter of staying on task and not getting sidetracked.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Monday Stuff and Another Loaf of Banana Bread

The days run together, don't they?  We pretty much have the schedule during the week.  Get up, maybe walk depending on weather, then get the kiddos down to the house for breakfast and distance learning starts at 9 AM. 

"Homeschool" or distance learning can last between 3 -  4 hours which includes multiple amounts of brain breaks. All of us need a brain break.  All. Of. Us.

After that, I need a nap then about 2 depending on the weather, we get the kids in the pool or get them outside to shoot hoops or play four square. 

This weekend we took a drive to a neighboring town just to get out of the house.  The town is older and more established, I wanted to look at how different yards are being landscaping.

We then ordered lunch from Chipotle, walked in, picked it up and took it home to eat  It has been months since we had Chipotle and it was super delish.

I think we are on our 5th loaf of banana bread.  We are baking a loaf of banana bread at least once a week. 

The hubs works in engineering (HVAC) at the big hospital and they are so slow due to the CV-19.  Floors are blocked off, as you may know, there are no elective surgeries currently and this has led to a huge decline in the number of patients in the hospital.

His department alone had a layoff of 10 employees last week.  Those employees are on redeployment for 5 weeks, they are getting a paycheck as normal but are not working.  After the 5 weeks, they can use PTO to stay in the system, after that, they will have to apply for unemployment.  Meh....

The hubs was not laid off, thankfully!   We are grateful for his job and the benefits that come with it.  Hopefully and with great caution, the state will reopen and things will get back to normal.  I know it will take time, but the soon the better.  How much more can the economy take?

I worked on moving money around all weekend.  We did get out stimulus last week, paid for the brake job on the truck that my hubs did last month and I stashed the rest into our online savings account.

We were 3 paychecks behind in tithes to my husband's church.  He pulls out cash for his tithe, saves it and then uses the cash for major repairs and upkeep on the church.  This weekend he is putting in an AC unit for the church.  He purchases the items needed with the tithe cash, and he installs for no charge.

He uses HIS cashback CC for the purchases and then I add the cashback earned to the HELOC debt.  It's a lot to keep up with, as you may have guessed.  But for now, that's what we are doing.

It is time to get dinner going, we are having grilled chicken, yellow rice and peas.  Easy peasy.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Daily Activities

Waiting in line to pick up school work packets 
  This is week 3 of homeschool and luckily my daughter has been off for the last two and a half weeks to lead the troops through their paces.
School typically starts at 9 AM with each kiddo signing on to their laptop to access a few online learning programs that have been assigned by their teachers.  Each Monday, I drive to their school to pick up grade level packets of work and to turn in the packets from the previous week.  This is an activity I look forward to as it gets me out of the house for a bit.

When my daughter goes back to work next week,  (she works nights) I will be taking the lead with the distance learning facilitation.  Working with the kiddos is much like what I did when I was a teacher assistant and I am comfortable with the challenge.

There are many breaks during the morning and typically we don't go past three hours for active learning.  You can pretty much tell when the kiddos are done, the fidgeting and lack of concentration is at its max. 

The rest of the day is meal prep and planning, trying to stay on top of daily chores and maybe clean out a cabinet or two.  Maybe a closet can get looked at too.  Lord knows there are so many things that need to get cleaned out. 

So, pretty much every day is the same.  School, meal planning, and possible cleaning of closets and cabinets. It certainly could be worse.

What does your day look like? 

Saturday, April 4, 2020

The New Normal

Sunrise on our morning walk 
The crippling anxiety that had me practically immobilized almost three weeks ago is much better and
is for now under control.  At that time, things were happening so fast that I felt helpless.  With time, I was able to deal with all that is going on, the self quarantining and social distancing, etc.  The last few days have definitely been brighter.

In the last two weeks, ( last week officially) I have been helping my daughter with distance learning and the education of her kiddos.   We have worked on a daily schedule based on what their teachers are providing to maintain a semi-structured learning environment that is both positive and productive.

The 5th grader is pretty independent with his work and we only need to check on him sporadically.  The 1st grader needs more one on one (understandably)  time and honestly, this is draining.  It's not hard but it is draining.  Not complaining, but it is an observation and to compensate after lunch, her mom and I both need a nap lol.   In the afternoon or evening, we will get the kids outside with a walk or swimming in the pool.  This is still a positive of having my daughter and her family live with us, we get the opportunity to be a bigger part of the kiddos growing up.

Wednesday, the kid's school had a teacher parade that followed all the bus stops of the school.  The parade was led by a school bus and followed by over 50 cars that had teachers and staff in them.  We waited for over an hour at their bus stop, maintaining social distancing, visiting with the other parents and just being able to see other people that were as excited as we were was very uplifting.

The teacher parade arrived with horns blasting, cars were decorated, teachers were waving  It was so nice to see the kiddos with their hand made posters waving to their teachers as they passed by. I tell ya, I was more than just a bit choked up.  It was great that the kids were able to see their teachers, but it was so sad as well.  Their old normal was now gone, and their new normal is now in place.

I just wanted to check in and let you know that I worked through most of the anxiety, and at this time all is pretty good.  I watch the news in the AM to catch up on anything and then I turn it off.  Some days it is just too much.   I try to stay focused on the positive and not get overwhelmed. 

Financially speaking, well that is a post for a later date.  Let's just say I was a bit out of control with Amazon Prime.   I was just getting through the days in one piece for the last two weeks.  That alone was my biggest accomplishment.

Anyway, that's it for now.  Thanks to all who left kind remarks on my last post.  It really meant a lot to this hot mess.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Hello Anxiety, It's Been Awhile

This virus has got me all screwed up.  As businesses, theme parks and beaches have been closing, my
anxiety has been off the charts.  I have prepped for hurricanes, with hurricanes, you have the expectation that normal will return within a week or so.  This is a whole different animal. 

The last time I experience this much anxiety and stress was ( 8 years ago) when I was living with and taking care of my sick parents, working, and planning their funerals within 6 months of each other's passing. And then untangling their estate afterward.  That about did me in. 

I have coped with the current anxiety by grocery shopping/foraging ( A LOT)  for all items necessary ranging from frozen corn to the elusive toilet paper.  My daughter and I have spent a lot of money (her more than me) on having enough for the kiddos and to eat and things to keep them occupied.  

Today's shopping was online.  I found toilet paper online that may or may not be here by the end of April.  Honestly, TP is like gold, isn't it?   I figured by April we will need some.  I have some stashed but it may only last a couple of weeks.   Oh, we were out of milk, I ran to Publix but they were out too.  Then I passed by Family Dollar and they did have a full cooler of milk.  I picked up two gallons and headed back to the house.  

I did get my taxes done on Monday, we will be getting a small refund.  No doubt some of that will go to cover this panic/anxiety shopping.  Did I mention I picked up paint to repaint the master bedroom? Yeah, I need to stop and get a grip. 

To better cope with the stress, I have been taking walks twice a day, and then if time permits I will float in the pool and listen to the birds in the trees.  This has been helpful, and I do feel a bit more in control. 

How are you doing?  I hope you are coping better than I am.  

Friday, March 13, 2020

Frugal Friday and Link Love

It's not often that I keep up track of how frugal I have been on a weekly basis.  But as a reference for me, later on, I am going to try to do better.  Do you find that keeping track of your frugalness helps you?

Monday: My husband saved $2.72 on gas using GetUpside  I didn't go to the store so that was savings in itself!

Tuesday:  I saved $ at CVS on Toilet Paper, Paper Towels and Hand Soap with my CVS card.  I didn't have any extra coupons or Reward Bucks.  My receipt after the transaction was full of a bunch of offers!  Fetch  (my referral code WX8BV ) gave me 1578 points on this purchase too!  If you have the app, you know how exciting it is when all the confetti is blowing up your screen lol!

 Hit up Publix to get more BOGO PowerAde for the hubs lunch and frozen BOGO ravioli.

I also saved $1.69 on gas using GetUpside when I filled up.

Wednesday     We purchased a new mattress from Tuft and Needles and we also purchased two new pillows.  We like the mattress but the pillows are not our favorite.  Well I like the mattress, the hubs is still on the fence about it.  I emailed the company to return the pillows and they quickly responded and sent me a return label.  That will put $86.00 back in my pocket.

When I bought the new mattress, I also found a nice comforter set on clearance at Belk online.  Well, we hate it.  I contacted Belk online and they are sending a return label for the comforter set.  The old comforter set is back on the bed.  Another $87.00 back in our pocket.

Thursday  This was NOT a frugal day.  After dropping off all the returns at FedEx, I immediately participated in a round of panic shopping. I am kinda glad I did. 

Friday    I had to take my vehicle back to the dealership to have a look at the brakes that they worked on in January of this year.  They are pulsating when pressure is applied.  This is related to the front brakes as they "turned" them and replaced the pads.  The service rep said they will have a look at them and so far it will be no charge to resurface them if that is the problem.  Will update later if that changes.

Link Love for this week!  I am pretty sure you read these blogs too, but just in case you don't, stop on by and check them out.

What are you all doing to stay sane during this Corona Virus event?  Streaming?  Suggestions welcome. 

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Cancelled Trip to DC and Panic Shopping

The buds on cherry trees around the Tidal Basin start to open in this file photo. Cherry Blossom Festival organizers announced Wednesday that several events this year will be canceled. (J. David Ake/AP)
Cherry Blossom Festival Cancels Events 
True Confession time.  My husband and I had planned, booked and reserved all that we needed for a successful trip to Washington D.C for the last week in March.  The trip was paid for and all was good until that darn coronavirus reared its ugly head. 

We were still going until we received a call regarding our booked tour to the White House and the Capital building.  They are suspending all tours until April 1.  Great.

I asked the fella if he knew if the museums were shutting down, he said to check the Smithsonian website.  I did, they are still open but have suspended several activities that are hands-on activities. The cherry blossom festival is that same week, and several events that go along with the festival are also canceled.  I really did not want to take the chance and get to DC and everything be shut down. That stressed me out too!

We chatted about it and decided to cancel and try again later this year if all is well.  What does this mean financially?  There will be no charge for the hotel reservations that are canceled. 
The airfare will be credited and we can use that credit for another flight.  Translation: we are not getting our money back.  The credit will last a year.   The extras we paid for such as extra legroom baggage will be credited back to our credit card. 

I didn't post about the trip because I tend to get really anxious about flying.  And talking about it make it worse.  I only told my family and one friend that I was going.  Truth be told, I was still anxious! 

The canceling of the trip led me to think I need to run to the store and stock up on groceries.  You know, just in case everyone is going to be quarantined. I know we probably won't be quarantined but hey, I am ready.    What it really was is that I bought into the hype and hysteria, but whatever.  $120 later I think we should be good for a week to 10 days if not more.  It totally blew up my grocery, but confessing the crime here helps :-)

That is all for this Thursday.  I need some cookie dough now.