I love television and despite keeping a generally crazy, hectic schedule, I somehow find Continue reading A Tiny Home of My Own
I love television and despite keeping a generally crazy, hectic schedule, I somehow find Continue reading A Tiny Home of My Own
April 1st! It’s hard to believe that we’re already a quarter of the way through 2017. Time just seems to be flying by the older I get.
I’ve got soooo much going on in my life right now and truthfully I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. I decided I should get back to my old routine of setting monthly goals so that I’m sure to stay on track.
Assuming all goes as planned, we’ll be closing on a new condo later this month. Buying a house is crazy expensive, even a cheap one. The actual process of moving is also expensive so my financial goal for this month is a bit vague but very important and that is to be uber-frugal. I’ve got closing funds to come up with, funds for some minor repairs to the condo, painting costs, and mover costs so I’ve got to be really aware of any other spending I do this month. I’m going to cut costs as much as possible and hopefully try to sell some extra furniture and appliances that aren’t going to fit in the new place anyway to try and offset some of these costs.
Taxes are done for all of us so that’s a big stress off my plate but I need to work out a dummy budget for the new place. I have a rough draft in place but of course that will have to be fine-tuned once I get my first utility bill or two and figure out if I can go without my precious cable or not. Also I will have to figure out if I will need to come up with another part-time job this summer.
We purged quite a bit when we were putting our old condo on the market but we still need to purge further since our new place is almost half the size of our last and we’re also losing a garage. I want to sell what we can and donate the rest to either family and friends or Goodwill.
Despite the busyness this month will bring I want to keep some me-time carved out so I don’t lose my mind. 4 blog posts for April and reading two books is the goal.
What do you think? Do I have enough going on to keep me out of trouble this month?
I have friends that celebrate their birthdays all month long if they’re allowed to. I’ve just never been one to get excited about my birthday. I know, I know, having another birthday, even if it means you’re getting older, is much better than the alternative of not having another birthday. The only perk of having another birthday for me is getting the “green” cake my mom makes me each year.
I was trying to figure out why birthdays make me a little melancholy every year (because that’s what I do-over-analyze every single thing!). I think part of it is the fact that each year pops up and I think to myself, oh, now I’m 43 years old, wow, this isn’t where I thought I would be at 43. Somehow I thought I would have more and be more. I’m currently living in temporary quarters (Thanks Aunt Janet!) since I can’t find a new condo in my meager price range, still single with no romantic prospects in sight, and my kids are almost grown and both are on the verge of flying the nest.
So I figured I better come up real quick with some reasons to celebrate my on-going existence before I get thoroughly depressed…lol.
I had previously declared 2017 to be the “Year of Holly” and unfortunately so far the year has proven to be pretty consistent with most of my previous years. It’s only March and we’re still having difficulty finding a place that will fit us all that I can afford and to top it off our family has had not one, but two wrecks, but hey, maybe we’re just getting all the bad out early. Bring it on year 43!
I’m currently reading Year of Yes, written by the amazing Shonda Rhimes. This inspiring lady is the creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, Executive Producer of How to Get Away With Murder, and has her own production company named Shondaland. How freaking amazing is that? I didn’t even realize that’s something I would love to have…a company named after me. How about Hollywood? Oh wait, that’s already taken. Oh well, back to Shonda. This crazy successful lady in Hollywood actually hired a publicist in order to avoid having to make public appearances because she would get such extreme anxiety at the thought of attending such events. Her sister pointing out that she never said yes to anything was a pivotal point in her life so she decided to say yes to everything presented to her for one year.
I haven’t finished the book yet. Do you want to know why? Because unlike Shonda, I apparently never say No to anything. I work full-time already but I also became treasurer of my previous condo association when no one else would. I’m currently the treasurer of the booster club for my son’s lacrosse team. I also picked up a second job working every other weekend because apparently the 45-50 hours a week I work at my full-time job and the busy lacrosse season wasn’t time-consuming enough for me. I’m in a book club (which I love) but even if life has been crazy busy and I’ve not had time to read the book I will have marathon sessions of staying up until 2am to finish the book and don’t you dare suggest that I skip a month. I think it’s possible I have border-line OCD tendencies when it comes to breaking commitments. If I say I’m going to be somewhere you can bet I will be.
My 20-year old son recently informed me of his summer break plans. He is currently going to college full-time, working part-time in his school’s Health Services department, and working at Lazer Blaze on the weekends. In addition to keeping the Health Services position and the Lazer Blaze job this summer, he is planning on adding a job at GoApe, which is a local ropes course facility, and holding periodic CPR certification courses. Ummm….son….are you crazy?? You can’t possibly have 4 jobs this summer, what are you thinking boy?
I was moaning about his crazy plans at my work last week and my co-worker just laughed and said, Gee, wonder where he gets that from? Ummm…his father? Okay, not fair, he gets it from me. I don’t know how to say no to anything or anyone apparently. I also tend to incredibly over-estimate my ability to do it all without eventually becoming exhausted and perhaps a tad bit grumpy and crazy. I’m not totally sure when this problem came about but I suspect it was after having kids. I think I’ve overcompensated since the kids started school. I didn’t want them to feel like they were missing out just having one parent so I tried to make sure that I was there for every activity/sport/meeting, etc. Know what happens to parents like that? People notice you are always around and they volunteer/elect you to things. It’s a slippery slope folks.
So my younger son, who will be graduating from high school in a few short months, was watching me work on Lacrosse treasurer stuff the other night and he said, “You know mom, you’re going to have a ton of free time when I leave for college. I think you’ll probably just get really attached to Kobe (his cat) and then you’re not going to want to give her back to me when I get my own place.” I’m not sure what was more alarming about his observation, that he suspected I was going to become a crazy cat lady or the idea that he was right and I’m soon going to have a lot of free time that I’m not used to. I immediately started planning for what I could do next. Should I join Big Brothers/Big Sisters? Maybe I could volunteer at a shelter…
Holy Crap, what is wrong with me?? So I thought back to Shonda’s book and I’ve decided for at least 6 months after Nick leaves for school I am going to say “No” more often. No, I’m not dropping out of my book club and I’m not going to become a crazy cat lady locked up in her apartment/condo but if it’s something I’m asked to do that requires a significant time commitment and I’m not passionate about then I’m going to say, “No thank you,” or maybe “No, I don’t have time to commit to that right now.” I am going to say yes to things that I’ve been neglecting a bit, mostly me. And of course if Shonda Rhimes calls and invites me to Shondaland, I’m going to say Hell Yes! Be right there, got a great idea for a new script!
Okay, so I will admit that I am a bit of a numbers geek. I love playing around with numbers and creating my budget each month. Creating a budget gives me a sense of security so I’m truly baffled that the word Budget strikes fear in so many people. Don’t you want to have a plan for your money?
So here’s some theories I have on why you don’t have or want a budget:
Maybe you have so much money you don’t need a budget because you’re free to spend whatever you want worry-free. In that case, I’m not sure why you’re bothering to read my little money blog, unless of course it’s just to have your weekly dose of Holly-ness.
Or maybe the more likely scenario is that you don’t have enough money and you think a budget isn’t for you. DUH!! I’m right there with you in the not enough money scenario and that’s exactly why I know it’s so important to have a monthly budget because you don’t want to be running out of money on day 22 of a thirty-day month.
Maybe you just think it’s too complicated and you’re not a numbers geek like me so you don’t even know where to start. Wow, this is your lucky day because guess what?? It’s not complicated and I’m going to tell you how to do it. My kid is taking calculus, that’s complicated. Geometry…that’s crazy complicated, all those stupid shapes. Setting up an easy budget is not complicated if you know how to add and subtract. You can even use a calculator or a spreadsheet…that’s not cheating, I promise.
I use a simple excel spreadsheet. You don’t have to though, you can do this with pen and paper if you want. First step is to figure out your income. Add up your net deposits for the month. For me this includes my two paychecks from my main employer, any paychecks I get from my second job, deposits from my kids for their car insurance (they pay their portion but the bill is taken out of my checking account), and Nick’s Social Security payment. Add those numbers up, I’ll wait while you punch the numbers in your calculator or carry the ones if you’re doing it by hand). I am lucky (well, that’s not necessarily the right word if you were to see the amounts but I digress) that I am on salary so my income generally stays about the same each month. If your income fluctuates then I would say to take a look at your past paychecks and base your budget on the lower paycheck amounts to play it safe. Okay, that’s the big number we have to work with, or small number in my case.
Next, you have to figure out your monthly debts. Generally my debts include my mortgage payment, HOA fee, car payment, credit card payments, cable bill, Nick’s Planet Fitness payment, student loan payment, Verizon bill, LGE, and car insurance. I also have a spot for Groceries, entertainment, restaurants, and gas. Your categories are probably going to look different then mine and that’s okay because we all have different situations. Okay, add those up. Don’t worry, it usually freaks me out a bit too but you got to know this number. Done?? Good.
Next step, take your income number and subtract the monthly debts number. Ideally you’re going to be left with a positive number. But don’t freak out if you don’t. If you are short (negative number) then you have to start tweaking the budget. Some of those monthly debt numbers are fixed, things like your mortgage, and student loan payment, etc. There are several categories you can probably adjust though. Entertainment, restaurants, and and groceries are usually the first to be tweaked for me. Yes, I fully believe you should have an Entertainment fund, even if you’re crazy poor. I personally budget $50 a week. This might cover a movie, or whatever potluck supplies I’m bringing to book club night, or whatever. Most of the time I don’t spend this amount each week so I’ll let the unused amount roll over to the next week. Running a little short this month? Guess what, your grocery fund needs to be adjusted down to include what’s on sale, or maybe the generic version of the cereal. The vices definitely need to go, if you’re short on funds then you shouldn’t be buying alcohol, cigarettes, diet cokes, eating out every other meal, whatever your particular vice is. Mine is diet coke and eating out when my son is home.
I update my budget daily. It takes just a few minutes and that allows me to see where I am at for the month. If I have already spent $60 of my $200 allotted for restaurants for the month and it’s only week one then I know I have to dial it back the next week or so. I’m disciplined enough to do that but if you’re not then maybe you could try the Dave Ramsey method of using envelopes. If you have $30 a week to spend on restaurants or alcohol then put that amount of cash in an envelope at the beginning of the week. When the cash is gone then you’re done. Pretty easy.
I’m telling you, even if you think I’m crazy, try it for two months. I say two months because if you haven’t used a budget before then you’re probably going to be way off on what you’re actually spending versus what you think you spend on some categories. And that’s okay, the next month you’ll have a better idea of what you’re spending, where you can cut back, and what you need to adjust your totals on. Believe me, it’s nice not to always have to worry about how you’re going to survive on no money the next two or three or seven days until you get your next paycheck.
I found a book this year called 52 Lists by Moorea Seal and it’s a journal-type book that gives you 52 weekly prompts to write about to help you discover your strengths and dreams and such. This book really intrigues me and honestly I’m not sure why I haven’t bought it yet since I love both writing and self-help/reflection type books and this book rolls these things into one nice little package. Well, actually I do know why I haven’t bought it, it’s because I have a tough time buying myself anything and I’m hoarding money until I find a home to purchase and of course spending $16 on myself would be incredibly foolish right now. Go ahead, I’ll give you a minute to finish your massive eye roll before I continue.
Anyway… the week 5 prompt asks what you would like your life to look like in 10 years. Wow, in ten years I’m going to be 52. I don’t think I can handle the scariness of thinking of myself in my 50’s so I’m going to modify this question to what would I like my life to look like in 5 years. 47 isn’t as scary as 52 for some reason.
In 2022 both my kids will most likely have graduated from college and be out on their own. That means I’m officially on my own too. That in itself is a scary prospect for me because I have NEVER been out on my own. I went from being in my parents house to being married to Rick to being back with my parents with the boys when he died and then finally it’s been just me and the boys since then. Granted my boys have been busy with jobs and friends and school for quite awhile so I’m often alone at home and honestly I’m fine with that. I do hope to have found some type of relationship within the next 5 years though. I enjoyed being married and I’m finally at the point where I think I could possibly be in a serious relationship again. Notice I didn’t say married again though. Although I loved being married, I think I’ve been single again so long that it would be tough to be married again now. Of course I might find that perfect guy that would be happy chilling on the couch and bouncing from the Hallmark channel to HGTV to Blue Bloods while eating cereal on the couch and then I’d have to reconsider the whole no marriage thing.
Work-wise I think I’ll probably still be at my current job which is fine. I like the work just fine and I love my co-workers and unless I have remarried, I will most likely need to continue with a full-time job for health insurance if nothing else but I do plan on also having a serious side gig making consistent money with my writing. Will I have finished my novel, or just have a free-lancing career, or just be making a bit of money with my blog? Not sure, which of these avenues I’ll have taken but one way or another I would like to be able to continue my love of writing and profit from it.
In five years my car will have been paid off. My student loans most likely will not have been paid off completely but hopefully will be close. Ideally I will be in a nice little condo with a cozy little office for me to write in. I also hope to be in a financial position to take at least one small vacation each year. I hope both my boys will still be in Louisville but if not it will be a priority that I’m able to visit them where ever they may be living. I want to be able to hang out with my current group of friends and maybe even be able to visit out of town friends and family more often then I’m able to now.
This ideal life of mine probably sounds kind of boring to most people I’m sure but not to me. It sounds stress-free and simple. The first half of my life has been anything but that but I will not complain about that because all the struggles and challenges have made me stronger and more appreciative of what I do have.
But please don’t make me think about my 50’s yet….
Well, we’re 7 days into the new year. It’s been a whirlwind first week. We’re swamped at work, both kids are back to school, temperatures have plunged, already a snow day for both boys, and I started a second job this weekend. Lots going on but I promised myself I was going to do better posting consistently so here we go.
I love New Year’s Resolutions. I firmly believe everyone should set goals and resolutions and they don’t necessarily have to be done on January 1st but I love the idea of a fresh year and a fresh start. I like to stay focused on becoming a better person. Some of this year’s goals are similar to last year’s, some may seem a little vague but I assure you I have specific action steps for all of them but I don’t necessarily want to bare too much on this blog. Also this is a big transition year for me financially and emotionally with Nick graduating. His graduation means the loss of the remaining Social Security benefits and most likely it means he’ll be moving to a dorm in another city this summer so some of my goals may need to be adjusted later.
There you go, lots of goals, lots of challenges. Some of these are just a matter of changing habits and routines. I truly think they are all manageable but as I said earlier, this is a year of transition so some of these goals may need to be adjusted. We’re currently searching for a new home and that’s a big priority right now and also I’m going to spend as much time with my boys as I can before Nick takes off for college in August. Our family dynamic is changing and change has always been tough for me so say a little prayer for us this year. Happy 2017!
Here’s a brief synopsis of my life so far. Just the highlight reel of course because nobody wants to read such a boring Novella.
March 1974: Super adorable, chunky baby born in the small town of Bloomfield, Indiana.
1994: Met this really cute guy named Rick. Thought he was too old for me so I blew him off at first but he fairly quickly convinced me he was the love of my life.
1996: Married the love of my life.
Later in 1996 (whoops): Met another love of my life when Michael was born.
1998: Met the third love of my life when Nicholas was born.
Mothers day 1999: Life fell completely apart when Rick died unexpectedly. Had to figure out how to be a single parent. NOT what I signed up for at all.
Present day: Michael is a sophomore in college at Bellarmine and Nick will be headed to WKU in about 8 months. Not sure how this has happened at all. Somehow I’ve managed to raise two great young men. Neither has been arrested (knock on wood), needed rehab (knock on more wood), and so far neither one has had any whoopsies of their own (which would cause me to knock their heads against some wood).
Sounds like a successful end to my single parenting era but it’s not. I’m struggling with this. I know a lot of parents struggle when their kids grow up and go off into the real world for the next stage of their lives, that’s what is supposed to happen after all but let me wallow a bit here. I think it’s a tad harder on us single parents because there’s no spouse to lean on/commiserate or distract us when the kids leave. The last 17 years I have been completely focused on not screwing these two kids up raising them on my own. Every single thing I’ve done, whether it was the right thing or wrong thing, was done with their well-being in mind. So now what the Hell do I do when they venture off to their next adventures in life. Obviously I’m always going to be their crazy, semi-psycho mother (just at random moments, most of the time I’m fairly sane) who worries about them and offers them all types of advice that most of the time they don’t really want to hear despite the awesomeness the advice generally contains.
So now I’ve got to figure out Act 2 of my life. I’m 42 years old so I figure that’s a little young to become the crazy cat lady living alone in her condo watching the Hallmark channel all the time. Granted I am looking to purchase another condo and I do love the Hallmark channel and thanks to my youngest and his girlfriend I do kind of have a cat now but I can’t let those things become my whole identity because, well, that’s kind of sad.
I started questioning what I would do if I hit the Powerball and money was no object. That is going to happen one day by the way, I just figure with my luck it will happen three days before I die because my life thus far has been kind of ironically funny that way. If money was no object though I would take a year off to write a book. I also would want to travel more so I’m thinking I could combine those two desires by traveling to quaint little places to both explore and to hunker down and write for long weekends. I’d also like to go back to school. I’m one of those weirdos that really liked the whole college experience.
Okay, so I probably lied earlier because honestly I’m not convinced that the Powerball is ever going to happen for me. The reality is that I’m most likely going to have to work full-time until approximately 6 hours before I die. That’s okay though, I don’t mind my job and I’m a fairly simple person with simple interests/hobbies/lifestyle. I’m already in the process of down-sizing my living quarters and more importantly my mortgage payment. I’m also getting ready to start working a second job every other weekend. The money from that small job is going to be earmarked to pay off some debt and create a slush fund for me.
What’s the slush fund? It’s pretty much going to be my Holly fund. It’s not going to be for bills, it’s not going to be for my emergency fund, and it’s not going to debt. I already have money going to all those categories. This is my account that I will use for Holly. I might decided to purchase a course on web design to pretty up this blog, I may decide to use it to book a weekend at a little hotel by the beach, I may use it to buy three venti Chai tea lattés at Barnes and Noble or Starbucks while I have a writing marathon, or I may decide to send it to my kids if they’re running tight on funds one semester. WHAT?!? Did she just say she was going to send it to her kids?? Maybe I am. It doesn’t really matter what I use it on as long as it’s something that makes me happy and knowing I can help my kids a little more sometimes might just make me happy one week. Of course the next week I might be telling them “Suck it up buttercups. You’re in college, you’re supposed to be poor.”
So there you go, I’ve got a little bit of a game plan for part two of my life. I think sometimes that people get wrapped up in thinking they can’t do the things they want in life because they don’t have money. Well, obviously it helps to have money, and I’m certainly not going to be able to jet off to Cancun anytime soon or take a year off right now to write my novel but there’s nothing to stop me from taking some weekend trips or writing at night after I get off work or on the weekends. I don’t have to go back to school full-time ( I can almost hear my sons cheering at this fact since they probably figured I would enroll at their schools and yeah, I probably would have) but I can take some online courses or even a course at night if I wanted to. 2017 is not going to be a year that I limit myself.
I can’t believe there’s only 14 days left in 2016. I swear it seems I was working on my 2016 goals just a few weeks ago and now it’s time to plot out my 2017 goals. I decided to do a recap of my 2016 resolutions and goals before announcing 2017’s plans.
My first resolution was to lead a more healthy lifestyle. My purchase of a Fitbit was helpful. It definitely makes me much more aware of how much I’m moving (or not) during the day. I set a goal to walk a minimum of 50,000 steps a week, drink more water, and get a minimum of 6 hours sleep a night. I only achieved the step goal 9 weeks this year and I have not done well with drinking more water. I do think for the most part I’ve succeeded in getting at least 6 hours of sleep nightly though and that’s huge for me.
Home-wise I wanted to clean, purge and organize my home. I’m giving myself a passing grade on this one. We put our home up for sale in September and a lot of work went in to purging our excess and keeping it spotless for showings. It sold in November and I went through another round of purging since we’ve not found a new home yet so the majority of our belongings are in a friend’s basement and we’re “borrowing” my aunt’s condo until we can locate a new home.
My personal goals were a big fail as far as my writing goes. I wanted to blog three times a week, submit at least one piece of writing a month, and see one movie in the theaters a month. So far I am a terrible blogger, this post makes 10 for the year. Ugh… I also didn’t submit any of my writing (although I did go back and work a little on the story I started for NANOWRIMO last year). I did see a few movies but pretty sure I didn’t see 12. To be fair, putting a house on the market is a crazy, time-consuming process but my writing is something that makes me happy and is important to me so this will definitely be back on the list this year.
I’m pretty satisfied with the progress I made with my financial goals. I used my credit cards very minimally this year (just a little for Michael’s medical supplies at the beginning of the year and an unexpected summer tuition bill for him). I kept a thousand dollars in my emergency fund. I contributed consistently to my HSA account although it never reached the $3,000 balance because I was also consistently using it for Michael’s diabetes supplies but that’s what it’s there for and I reaped the tax benefits of it as intended. My goal of increasing my income on a quarterly basis is a little hard to quantify. I side hustled a bit, worked my rewards programs as much as possible, and received a decent raise at work so I’m counting this as a success.
So there you have it. Quite a few goals I didn’t reach this year, quite a few that I did. The way I figure it though, even the goals I didn’t reach I at least attempted them so I’m further ahead then I was before so maybe I should count that as successes also?
My year in a recap? I sold my condo and I’m currently on the hunt for a smaller, more affordable place. Michael is halfway through his sophomore year at Bellarmine. He’s pretty sure nursing school is going to kill him but he’s trudging through and I’m proud of him. Nick is 99% sure he’s going to WKU in the fall. Not thrilled that he’s chosen not to play lacrosse in college but proud that his focus is on going to a school where he’ll hopefully not have to take out any student loans. Work for me is very, very busy but we’ve finally gotten some decent raises and I’m happy there. I still have plans on creating a second stream of income for myself to help offset the Social Security losses. Overall, 2016 was a good year. 2017 will be full of more changes but I’m trying to prepare for them and praying for a good year for us all.
So I have lots of financial things I would love to write about but really shouldn’t at this point so I thought I’d do something a little more light-hearted today. I’m 42 so here are 42 random things about me you might find interesting…or not.
1. My sons are my world!!
2. I miss being married.
3. I will write a novel one day.
4. One unfulfilled dream I have is having a career in law enforcement. I always thought that would be so cool.
5. I am addicted to reading personal finance blogs.
6. I love HGTV and sappy movies on the Hallmark channel
7. My favorite stress buster is either going to a movie or visiting the bookstore.
8. I’m a sucker for calendars. I usually buy at least 3 every year.
9. I’ve bungee jumped twice.
10. I was locked in a freezer during an armed robbery at the Dairy Queen I worked at in high school.
11. I’ve lived in three states: Indiana, Kentucky, and Kansas.
12. I love to watch college basketball and any type of lacrosse, but especially the lacrosse games my son is playing in.
13. I love Cracker Barrel and any type of steak restaurant
14. I like cookies and cream ice cream.
15. I love to read
16. I am in a bookclub
17. I post entirely too much on Facebook, my kids will vouch for this.
18. If I say I’m going to be somewhere, I will be there. I hate broken plans!
19. I am terrible about going to the doctor.
20. I am even worse about going to the dentist. I have an irrational fear of the dentist.
21. I am a night owl. I used to function on 4 hours of sleep a night but now I need more like 5 to 6 hours to be a semi-nice person.
22. I am NOT a morning person.
23. I am a diet coke junkie.
24. Sweet tea is a close second to my love of diet coke.
25. I am a big fan of to-do lists.
26. I love New Years resolutions and trying to force my boys to make them with me every year.
27. I have a daily planner that I carry with me everywhere.
28. I am a big numbers geek and love setting up my monthly budget. Even though just once I wish I had bigger numbers to play around with.
29. I hate my hair.
30. I love Pinterest and Houzz.
31. I love Chai tea lattes.
32. I love Target
33. I love Ikea even more.
34. I still prefer “real” books over reading them electronically.
35. I am a terrible housekeeper.
36. I am a lazy cook.
37. I am most comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt but do like to dress up for special occasions.
38. I sleep with a body pillow and I’m a pillow snob.
39. I love country music.
40. My favorite car was my Mazda MX-6 that I got my senior year of high school.
41. I’m kind of shy and quiet until you get to know me but once you get to know me I’m kind of obnoxious at times.
42. I have a degree in accounting and love messing around with numbers but my dream career would be as an author.
There you go. 42 fascinating things about me.