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What I Spend My Money On (And what I don’t)

If you’ve read this blog even just a few times you’ll know that we live on a fairly limited budget. One salary doesn’t stretch as far as it did in years past and as a result, choices have to be made as to what I choose to spend our money on and where I choose to save. So today I thought I’d share what I spend money on and also some things I specifically decide not to spend my money on.

Let’s start with what I don’t spend money on:

  • Tobacco products-pretty easy choice here considering my husband died of a heart attack at age 35. Suffice to say I also don’t spend money on illegal drugs.
  • Alcohol-very, very occasionally I will purchase a bottle of Malibu rum and some pineapple juice or a cheap bottle of wine. I almost never buy drinks out since they are so overpriced and I’m just as happy with a non-alcoholic beverage
  • Manicures and having my hair professionally colored-I color my hair with a box of Miss Clairol at home (using a coupon of course) and although I might get one pedicure a year since my feet are especially ugly, I don’t bother with manicures
  • Expensive shoes-I just don’t have a shoe fetish like most women. One pair of tennis shoes (which I really should replace more often then I do), one pair of canvas-type shoes, a couple pair of sandals, and two pairs of work shoes
  • The newest and shiniest IPhone/Apple products-I can appreciate these but it’s just not in the budget so I will use my current model of IPhone until it dies (literally-just replaced my iPhone battery in an effort to not have to purchase a new phone). I am using my son’s old Surface Pro for my writing since he decided a laptop better served his needs for school

So what do I spend money on?

  • Internet-we have to have a fairly good internet connection since there are three of us streaming or using the internet almost constantly
  • Netflix and Sling subscription-We’ve had Netflix since the days when it was just a service where they sent you a couple DVD’s in the mail each month. We recently added a Sling subscription when we moved to our new place and I decided to try and “cut the cord” on cable. We were previously paying $134 for internet, cable and Netflix. Now we’re paying about $87 and honestly I’ll probable drop that down a little further once Nick leaves for school.
  • Occasional drinks at Barnes & Noble when I’m writing but I try to use gift cards I’ve either received as gifts, earned through survey sites or I’ve bought via discount sites or when Kroger has fuel promotions
  • Eating out-I’ve tried to do better with this but honestly I don’t mind an occasional meal out with my kids or other family or friends. I do try to save costs when possible though
  • Lottery-but usually only $2 a week through our work lottery group. Hey, somebody’s going to win, might as well be us
  • Health insurance-one of our largest line items but with a kiddo with a chronic illness, this is a non-negotiable
  • Annual trip to Holiday World-a nearby theme park that is reasonably priced and clean. We go with friends every year and spend a full day at the park and then we hang out at our friend’s campsite for an evening and considering this will probably be my only vacation of the year, it’s a reasonable splurge. I know the time is quickly approaching that the boys will no longer have the desire and/or time off to spend vacation time with me so I’ll continue this tradition as long as I can

So there you go. Stay tuned, maybe next time I’ll tell you everything I want to buy once I get in a better/more secure financial place.

Another Birthday

    Two weeks ago I turned 43…sigh.

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.

  • Two awesome kids, well technically they’re adults now but I don’t see them that way. They are kind, they are motivated and ambitious, generally well-behaved and mannered and I’m pretty sure they love their momma. I couldn’t ask for more.
  • We’re all basically healthy
  • I’m still young enough to create a Part two life if I want.
  • I have fabulous friends and family
  • As much as a whine about being poor, I do know that I have much more than so many others
  • I may be chronically single but lucky for me I am pretty fabulous company and most of the time I can entertain myself
  • I have job security and I don’t mind my job (most days)

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!


Sorry Shonda-It’s the Year of No for me

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!


Budgeting-It’s not a four-letter word

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.


The Future-2022

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….

Life: Take 2

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.


2016 Wrap Up

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.

42 Things About Me

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.



Lessons for my boys


I’ve got two awesome boys. I know parents say that all the time but mine really are. They are good students, hard workers, and most importantly they are good, kind people. My biggest concern when my husband died was how I was going to be able to raise two little boys on my own. I certainly never expected to be a single mother. No one is perfect but when life starts feeling overwhelming, and as a single mother I can assure you there are lots of moments like that, I look at my kids and know that I did something right.

Here are some lessons I would like for my boys to remember as they enter into adulthood though. These are things I’ve learned the hard way, so learn from my mistakes boys!

  • Get into the habit of saving something from each paycheck into an emergency account. Develop this habit now while you’re young and don’t have as many financial obligations and emergencies. Do something crazy like 50% of your paycheck if you can. You can always cut back a bit once you start having more financial obligations but I promise you that seeing that dollar amount grow each month in your savings account will be a great incentive to keep adding to it.
  • DON’T lease a car. I got sucked into that trap and it’s a hard one to escape. Get a used car, get it checked out by a reliable mechanic and pay cash if you can. (PS-I have driven some really awesome cars though!!  PPS-I also blame this a little on my brother since he worked at a car dealership and brokered most of these transactions, lol)
  • Start contributing to your company’s 401K as soon as you can, especially if your company offers a match on your contributions. You’re giving up free money otherwise. Free money is good.
  • Don’t buy too much house. Being house-poor is not fun and not worth it.
  • Don’t carry a credit card balance. Blood suckers, not fun at all. In my defense, a good portion of our credit card debt is due to medical bills but believe me, some of it is foolish, impulse purchases also.
  • Life Insurance!! As soon as you have a family, you need to get life insurance. It’s dirt cheap when you’re young, figure out what you need then add more to it. I definitely learned this the hard way. We had minimal life insurance when my husband died and it made things VERY tough on me. Pray that you’ll never ever use this but God forbid the worst happens, you or your family will have financial help.

I think those have been my biggest financial mistakes. But there have been lessons I think my sons have learned from me or can learn from me that are good also.

  • Create a budget. Super important and it’s been my best tool in figuring out how to pinch those pennies and stretch those dollars. I have a simple spreadsheet that I plug my numbers into twice a month (based on my bi-monthly paychecks). I know what bills have to be paid from each paycheck and I have a set amount each pay period for fun stuff too so it’s not all bad.
  • Be a smart shopper, which often means being a patient shopper. My youngest son is great about finding deals, whether it’s online or at a consignment shop but both are bad about paying too much if they decide they want something right now. Watch the sales, check the clearance racks, use promotional codes, and know where items are generally the cheapest to buy
  • Use rewards. Some of the various ways I use rewards include discount cards (Target debit card, Sam’s Club card, Kroger fuel points, Receipt Hog, different survey sites, Ebates, and rewards points for credit cards).
  • Figure out cheap entertainment. Rent a movie instead of going out to the cinemas (tough one for me, I LOVE going to the movie theater), read a book, go for a walk with friends, host a board game night, meet up with friends at someone’s community pool or park, etc. Spending time with friends doesn’t have to be expensive nights out on the town.

I think it’s a universal hope for all parents that your kids end up doing better than you in life. To be honest, some days I’m just thrilled to death I’ve raised them this far and they haven’t dragged me onto Dr. Phil to talk about how I’ve ruined their lives. But most days I just hope they take these lessons, the good and the bad, that I’ve tried to teach them and they go out into the world and be awesome people.