My Spending Fast Isn’t As Cool As Anna’s…

cat with the Debt Free Living book

It’s been an expensive few weeks in our household. And when I say expensive, I mean we’re about to hemorrhage some money. Let me just give you the highlights. Continue reading

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4 Tips for Dealing with a Chronic Illness

Diabetes supplies

September 22, 2009 is the day our world changed drastically. My oldest son, Michael, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes that day. It was two days before his 13th birthday and we had taken him to the doctor with a stomach ache.

Our doctor originally diagnosed him with a virus but when I casually mentioned how thirsty he’d been lately she decided to draw some blood. Ten minutes later she walked back into the office, told us to pack a bag and head to our local children’s hospital because his blood sugars were over 500. We were lucky, children often end up in the intensive care unit before they are properly diagnosed. We were in the hospital a day and a half before they sent us home to our new lifestyle. Continue reading

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I’m Debt-free!

 

credit card

DEBT-FREE!!! No…not really…not even close!!

Sorry to fool you but you got excited there for a minute didn’t you? I did and I knew it wasn’t true. Achieving debt-free status is a high priority on my life to-do list. I’ll be honest though, it’s not nearly as easy getting out of debt as it is getting into it. In an effort to combat Frugal Fatigue, I like to daydream/plot out what life will look like once I am debt free.

My debt is comprised of the following items: credit cards, student loans, car loan, and mortgage. Part of this debt is stupidness on my part like buying too much house my first time out, subsidizing vacations with credit cards, etc. Some of the debt is medical debt because diabetes is a stupid, crazy-expensive disease. And some of the debt is just a result of years of a modest income not stretching far enough in the land of single-parenthood despite my best attempts at living a frugal life. I’m ready to dump this debt once and for all though. Continue reading

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Listen Up Graduates!

Photo by Tai’s Captures on Unsplash

It’s that time of year… graduation announcements are probably flooding your mailbox like they are mine. I have one son about to embark on his senior year of college and another starting his junior year. It’s hard to believe in two short years they should both be finished with their schooling (hope I’m not jinxing them!) and out in the real world. As someone that has been in the real world for quite awhile now and has made loads of mistakes, I thought this was a prime time to compile a list of best practices for my boys and anyone else that might be graduating to the real world. Continue reading

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Single Parenting-20 Years Later

Photo by Benjamin Manley on Unsplash

20 years ago today I became a single mom. My 35-year old husband woke me up saying he was having chest pains again and within a few hours he was gone, leaving behind a devastated wife, a two year-old and a six-month old.

That day and, truthfully, many weeks afterwards were a blur. I was 25 years old and never imagined I’d have to deal with things like planning a funeral for my husband, or dealing with the multitude of documents and hurdles to settle life insurance claims, or figuring out how to explain to a two year old that daddy wasn’t coming home. The only thing I knew with complete certainty is that I could not possibly raise these two baby boys by myself. I was both wrong and right about that.  Here are a couple of things I’ve learned over the years.

As a single parent, you are ALWAYS the bad guy

This definitely sucks. Two parent households have the advantage of being able to play good cop/bad cop on occasion. What? You want to go on Spring Break unsupervised at 16? Sorry, I’d have said sure but dad said no. Whoops, guess that doesn’t fly. Guess what? They’ll get over it.

One income supporting the household sucks

I’m going to put in my disclaimer here that I was fortunate to have Social Security payments until they graduated from high school. This helped to be sure but I can assure you that Social Security payments didn’t make up for my husband’s income. I quickly learned the importance of setting a budget. It’s essential to have a budget if you’re a one income family.

You need a village

If you don’t have a village to help you out then find one. I was/am blessed with family and friends that have helped me immensely over the years. Financially, logistically, and emotionally you’re going to need people to lean on.

You have no idea what you’re actually capable of until you’re thrust into it

I said earlier that the only thing I knew with complete certainty is that I couldn’t raise our boys by myself. Guess what? Michael is 22 and a year away from graduating college with a business degree. Nicholas is 20 and will be a junior in college this fall, working on a marketing degree with a minor in sales. Both have worked part-time jobs, sometimes multiple jobs, since they were 14.  They have been involved in sports, and junior firefighting programs, and charitable causes over the years while making stellar grades. They are polite, hard-working, and just good guys.

Buy Life Insurance

Everyone should buy life insurance. We were young and healthy and invincible until life proved us wrong. We had a small life insurance policy Rick’s company provided but a larger policy would have made our financial life a lot easier. Life insurance is not terribly expensive, especially when you’re young. If you’re a single parent, it’s ESPECIALLY essential. Make sure your family has one thing they don’t have to worry about if tragedy strikes.

It’s Worth It and You’re Enough

There will be tears, and tantrums, and melt-downs. And the kids might behave badly also at times… lol. You will doubt yourself and you’ll be convinced you’re ruining your kids lives more times then you can count (usually when they’re busy telling you that). My kids are in their 20’s now, they’ve not brought me onto Jerry Springer yet to tell me how their childhoods were ruined though so I’m going to say we’re doing okay. Trust yourself and know you’re enough and I will bet that once they’re grown your kids will realize how hard you tried and maybe even appreciate and respect how hard you worked to make their lives great.

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6 Popular Graduation Gifts

Photo by Pang Yuhao on Unsplash

Graduation season is almost upon us. I have a niece that will be graduating from high school this year and in one more year I’ll have a son graduating from college (fingers crossed that he doesn’t decide to change majors again!), and a year after that my youngest will also be graduating college. Wow, I suddenly feel really old!

Graduation is an exciting time for students. High school students are generally excited to be headed off to college, or the military, or perhaps a trade school. College graduates are excited to be finally done with school and ready to jump into the real world (you poor, unsuspecting suckers… just kidding). Here is a list of items that are most helpful, in my opinion, for both sets of graduates. Continue reading

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April Already? My First Quarter Update

A year from now you'll be glad you started today

Can you believe it’s already April? 25% of 2019 is done. That sounded very technical didn’t it? I guess that’s the accountant in me. Let’s try that again. Hey, it’s April! You still have 3/4 of the year left to rock your goals!!

How are your resolutions coming? A lot of people don’t even bother setting resolutions for the year and many of those that do have already abandoned their lofty plans. Let’s see how I’ve done. This is one of the benefits of announcing your resolutions to the world (or the 5 people/friends/relatives who read this on a regular basis), you have people who will encourage you if you’re on track and kick you in the butt if you’re not. Continue reading

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6 Things You’ve Probably Forgotten In Your Budget

laptop preparing budget items

So you’ve finally got your budget set up because you’re tired of me harping on you about it. Great Job!! That’s a fantastic first step to getting your finances on track. Of course it’s easy to remember to budget in your regular monthly bills like your mortgage payment/rent, car payment, utilities, groceries, etc. I bet you there’s a couple of things you might be forgetting to account for though. Here’s 6 that I came up with that you need to remember when you’re preparing your budget: Continue reading

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45 Things About Me

hollygainssomesense.com

 

Another birthday is looming for me. It’s not a milestone birthday, but somehow 45 seems scary to me. It seems like I’m officially middle-age. Not sure why I’m struggling with this one to be honest. My husband died at 35, my grandparents were all well into their 80’s, I’ve had classmates die way too young, so who is to say what middle-age really is. Poor Luke Perry, my celebrity boyfriend, died this week at 52…way too young.

I’ve never been one of these people who wanted to celebrate their birthdays all month long. Most of the time I have the bad habit of looking at the past year and feeling a bit melancholy that I didn’t feel like I was making the progress I wanted. I started a new job this year that is challenging (in a good way) and I’ve been working hard on my writing side-gig this year so I can’t blame it on life being stagnant this year.

I thought about sharing 45 things about me since hopefully I’ve got some newer readers this year. Not sure I’m really interesting enough to come up with 45 things about myself that would hold a reader’s attention to the end though. As a result, I’ve split this up into 15 things about me, 15 things I’ve learned over the last 45 years, and 15 things I have on my bucket list. Continue reading

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Emergency Fund aka Life Has Happened Again Account

emergency fund

My last blog post told how I nearly had a stroke after preparing my 2018 taxes. I originally thought I owed nearly a thousand dollars to the government. This was obviously very unsettling since I don’t have a thousand dollars sitting around. I don’t work two jobs for the fun of it after all. Thankfully upon further review I discovered an error I’d made and although I’m not going to get the refund I did last year, I’m also not going to have to worry about selling a kidney or at the very least my plasma.

What if I really had owed that tax bill though? According to my mother, I drink entirely too much diet coke. I figure attempting to sell one of my kidneys probably wouldn’t have fetched as much as I hoped for since they’re apparently aspartame-laced. My fallback plan was to use a good portion of my emergency fund. Continue reading

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