75 Medium Challenge update & What’s Next

Woman exercising

Photo by Ron Lach

So I’m 71 days into my challenge and let me tell you, this is not a challenge for the weak. I have never been so ready for a challenge to end. I expected it to be difficult but didn’t really realize just how long 75 days is…it’s basically 1/5 of a year!!

So, for those of you who are not regular readers of my blog and may not have any idea what I’m talking about….feel free to check out my previous post. I started this challenge on July 19th and this Sunday, October 1st will me my final day. Continue reading

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Living a Rich Life

mattress overlooking water view

Photo by Mo Eid

I love reading. My reading is not limited to just fiction though, throw a good motivational book at me and I devour those just like I do my Danielle Steel and Kristin Hannah books. Give me a motivational book that also delves into personal finance and I’m really going to geek out over that. I recently discovered Ramit Sethi and his book, I Will Teach You To Be Rich. Sethi also has a Netflix show called How to Get Rich, where he takes people who are in a bad financial place and coaches them to make better choices. 

Ramit Sethi believes you should live a rich life. Spend extravagantly on the things you love and cut costs mercilessly on the things you don’t. I’m still in debt-payoff mode but I love the idea behind this. I feel like I do this to an extent already. Designer clothes, purses, shoes, and alcohol are low on my priority list. Eating out with friends, fancy coffee drinks, pillows, and calendars/planners/journals are high on my spending list. Continue reading

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Cruising Along

Photo by Diego F. Parra

One thing I wanted to prioritize in this second chapter of my life was to travel more. Cruise number 2 is officially on the books for the end of January 2024. It’s an early 50th birthday trip for myself. This will just be a 4 day cruise for a variety of reasons. We booked a bit later than we did on our last one so payment was due in full by the first week of November. We’re dragging along some semi-reluctant first-time cruisers, and also my eldest son is going and he’s just started a new job. I hated for him to have to use all his vacation days right off the bat. Don’t you feel sorry for me though, my next one will be a longer cruise. A friend and I have basically decided we’re going to make this our annual January/February trip.

Benefits of Cruising

There are so many benefits to cruising. You’re paying for your floating hotel room, restaurants, and transportation. Your basic room cost includes your room, a variety of meals that includes very basic drinks (water, tea, basic coffee, lemonade), pools, shows, a fitness center, and of course beautiful ocean views.

Your choices to upgrade start with your room type. My first cruise and this second one I booked a balcony room. I suspect if I continue to cruise, I will end up trying to downsize into a standard room though since they are considerably cheaper.

You can add a drink package if you like also. We’re getting the cheers package, which includes alcohol, specialty coffees, sodas, shakes, pretty much any drink you can think of. It’s a pricy addition to the cruise price but I like the idea of not having to worry how much I am spending ala carte on each drink otherwise. It’s also great because if I want to try something new/different then it’s not a big deal of I don’t like it, because I can just order something different. You are limited to 15 alcoholic drinks a day but all other drinks are unlimited.

A cheaper option if you’re not a big alcohol drinker is to the Bottomless Bubbles, which will get you unlimited soft drinks and juices.

Most cruises have at least 2 and sometimes more ports depending on the length of your cruise. My first cruise went to Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic and Grand Turks. You will have anywhere from a few hours to most of a day in those stops to explore/hang out, book an excursion, or you can just stay on the ship and enjoy a less crowded environment for the day. One thing to keep in mind is that your food/drinks/activities at the ports will cost you extra. Your drink package is only active on the ship.

Cost-cutting Tips

As I said earlier, I anticipate booking my 3rd cruise soon. We’d like to try a different ship and a longer trip. I’ve not hit the lottery and some unexpected expenses have hit the pocket book so I’m going to look into a standard room which is much cheaper. Although a balcony room is fabulous, you have an entire ship to use as your balcony and most people are primarily in their room just to sleep and get ready for the day.

You can purchase discounted Carnival gift cards if you look around. On my first cruise I bought Carnival gift cards at Target and got them 5% off with my Target debit card. This trip I’m buying them with my new AARP membership and that gets me 10% off the gift cards. You can also get discounted cards for your airline tickets and hotels. My friend has a Southwest credit card that she uses to earn points on her flights.

If I really wanted to cut costs I could also cut out the drink package or drop it down at least to the soft drink package.

Ala Carte Vacations

I really like the ala carte experience that cruising offers. You can start your search by travel dates, locations, or even favorite ships. Choose a room type next and whether you want to include a drink package or one of the specialty restaurants. Decide if you want to book an excursion at your ports or just roam around on your own. Some people even choose to stay on the ship and enjoy the less crowded amenities.

Have you been on a cruise before? If not, is it something you might be interested in?

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Pick Another Book

Photo by Ivo Rainha

Every December, our book club members each choose one book that will be on our reading list for the following year. In 2021, my choice was Midnight Library by Matt Haig. The book followed a young lady who had decided to commit suicide and instead ends up in a library that is supposedly her between-lives world. The idea is that each book in the library is the story of her life if she had made a different choice in her real life. 

Truthfully, I liked the idea of the book better than the actual story but mostly because I just couldn’t warm up to the main character. The idea is so intriguing to me though because who hasn’t wondered in life what if I had just done this or not done this….so here’s the books that I think could have been available to me.

My Potential Book Shelf

Holly Joins the Coast Guard: Yep, I bet most of you didn’t realize that I almost joined the Coast Guard. I chickened out at the last minute when I thought to myself, what if you absolutely hate this and you’re stuck for 4 years. I wanted to jump out of the helicopters and rescue people, and I’ll have you know that I wanted to do this before the ultra-cool Ashton Kutcher/Kevin Costner movie, The Guardian, came out. 

Holly Finishes College: I did finish college, I just wish I had finished my degree earlier and maybe even stuck with my original plan of law enforcement. Life, however, sidetracked me a bit and I didn’t finish my degree until after Rick died and at that point I grabbed a “safe” degree.

Holly Finds a New Job: Definitely should have job-hopped a bit more. I tend to get comfortable in a position and stay though. Today’s world, for the most part, does not reward people for staying in one position/company anymore. Although I had a lot of flexibility in my schedule that allowed me to get to my kid’s activities when I needed to, I hurt myself financially because my pay stayed stagnant. I took the safe route.

Holly and Rick Bulk Up on Life Insurance: Life Insurance! I cannot stress enough the need for life insurance. The world is not set up for single parents. Our lives could have at least been easier financially if we’d had more life insurance when Rick died. Trying to figure out how you’re going to survive financially when you’re in the throes of gut-wrenching grief is not ideal.

Holly Does Not Buy the House in the Fancy Neighborhood: I definitely bought too much house my first go around. I was lured in by the fancy neighborhood after I was approved for my loan. The location wasn’t great for where our jobs and schools were. The lot was terrible; it was a huge, rocky, corner lot that could never grow grass properly. If I’d bought a smaller, more appropriate place I might have more equity now.

Would I Choose Another Book?

My life today is most definitely not what I thought it would be. It’s been so much harder than I imagined at 17. I don’t know that I’ve ever met anyone though who can say their life turned out exactly how they thought it would. 

If I had joined the Coast Guard, I would not have met my husband. We met 2 weeks after I was supposed to leave for boot camp. If I hadn’t met my husband, then I wouldn’t have my two wonderful sons. I truly believe that every little step we take plays an important role in our current lives, even if they seem like terrible steps. 

I certainly never expected to be widowed at 25. Life has certainly been a struggle at times, financially and emotionally. I would not choose another life though. Even considering the hard times, I love this life of mine. I had a true love, even if it was short-lived, and how many can say that? My boys are phenomenal, I have the best friends, I have family that has always supported me. My job fulfills me for the most part and I’m writing almost daily now, which is my true passion. Travel will hopefully become a bigger part of this 2nd chapter of my life as well. Guess I need to get busy finishing this best-selling novel of mine to help with the travel expense.

New Chapter or A Sequel?

So, I’m not going to choose another book. I’m going to get busy on my sequel though.

My boys are now grown and self-sufficient (well, mostly). I love that we are close (in distance and relationship), but they no longer need me. Now is the time that I can get be more selfish. Hopefully, I can be more deliberate on what my next chapter in life looks like. Obviously, there’s still limitations, money primarily, but I’m determined to work on my bucket list. I have one in progress that I’m working on before I turn 50 in March but I need to get to work on a bigger life bucket list as well. 

What are some things you would change in life? Or if you’re like me and wouldn’t change the past, what do you want to do in the future?

Oh yeah, buy the extra life insurance though!! 

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Stay In Your Time Zone

Photo by Andrey Grushnikov

Have you ever felt like you’re running behind? Running behind on your schedule for the day, running behind on your to-do list, always behind at work (me!!). Maybe you feel like you’re running behind in life. 

I sometimes feel like that last one. Somehow I thought I would be further along in life on my to-do and to-be list. I’ll be 50 in March and I’m not a famous author yet, I live in an older, smaller place then I would prefer, and at the rate I’m going I am going to be working until 47 minutes before I die (that might be a slight exaggeration…I tend to do that).

Don’t bother feeling sorry for me though. I’m happy with my life overall, I think I’m just prepping for my mid-life crisis. A friend recently sent me a clip from a guy named Mousa Al-Bharna on Linkedin. The clip was all about how we’re all on different timelines in life but we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others and realize we’re all in the right time zone for ourselves. Continue reading

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75 Medium and Creating Discipline

lady exercising

Photo by Pixabay

Started a new challenge this past Wednesday called 75 Medium. I’ve been complaining forever about the weight I’ve gained the last 5 years or so and I also decided that I needed a little more discipline in my life. 75 Medium is a program designed to help you create better habits that are focused around exercise, diet, and mindfulness.

My son did the 75 Hard challenge awhile back so he’s inspired me to do one also. I’m old though, lol, and I wasn’t sure if my work schedule would accommodate the requirements of the 75 Hard Challenge.  I was almost definitely convinced that my foot doctor would not be a fan of me doing two 45-minute workouts a day either so I decided to go with the slightly watered-down version called 75 Medium. Continue reading

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Budget Lockdown

counting change

Photo by cottonbro studio


You ever feel like as soon as you make a great plan that the Universe laughs at you and says, Oh no you don’t…

Three months ago I had to buy a new car. 

Three weeks ago I paid nearly $800 for an air conditioner repair.

Today I’m sitting in my sweltering condo as they install a new furnace and air conditioner because previous repair was not the answer. Let’s just say this bill will be considerably more than $800.

Sigh…Adulting is so hard and so expensive. It’s days like this I miss living in an apartment and having this be someone else’s problem and check book. Continue reading

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Financial Awareness

online banking

Photo by Anna Shvets

Question for you. How aware are you when it comes to your finances?

I would consider myself hyper-aware. That’s just my personality in general I think. As a single parent though, I had to be super diligent as well. I have a spreadsheet to track my finances and generally update it on a daily basis. 

I’ve come to the realization over the years that most people are not as fanatical as I am. I’ve worked with people who have no idea when their pay dates are. Some people have no idea what their pay rate is or how it’s structured (commission people). 

In regards to people who have joint finances, one person in the relationship usually has no idea or just a very vague concept of what their monthly bills are. Some people, usually the ones who really need to know, have no idea how much debt they have accumulated. Continue reading

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Moving Pains

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto

The eldest man-child is moving back to Kentucky. More specifically, he’s moving back in with me until he at least gets settled into a new job. Hopefully, I’ll be able to convince him to stay until he can save up enough to buy his own place like his brother did. I’m sure that will be a hard sell though since he’s been on his own for quite a bit and admittedly likes living without a “roommate”.

Moving Logistics

That was the good news. The bad news of course is the move itself. I don’t know anyone who “likes” to move. There’s the logistics of physically moving him home from Indianapolis. This involves a U-Haul truck rental and a storage unit rental here in Louisville since my place is too small to add all his furniture too. It also requires little brother and little brother’s friend to drive to Indy to help with the actual packing of the furniture and to drive Michael’s vehicle back since he’ll be driving the U-Haul truck.

Then there’s the logistics of figuring out what’s going where. My place is basically a tiny home: 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo coming in at 985 square feet. The dining room, which was converted to a 3rd bedroom when both boys were home, is now going to be converted to our joint office space. 

I think we’ve decided my spare bed will be going into his storage unit since he prefers his mattress (fair enough). We went back and forth but I think his couch will be going into the storage unit along with his entertainment center. We’re always going to put my Christmas tree and decorations in storage since they’re currently housed in our spare bedroom. His kitchen stuff and a few patio furniture pieces will also be stored.


I told him that anything he wanted to get rid of should be done before he gets back home, no need to pay to move it. I’m also trying to use this time as an opportunity to get rid of as much as I can. The older I get, the better minimalism looks to me. I am tired of all the clutter and excess.

As I said in my last post, I’m really debating on whether to get a new place. I’m hoping I can have Michael help me with a few projects around my place and really focus on clearing out some things in the meantime. Who knows, maybe by the time Michael is ready to get his new place, mine will feel like a new home and more spacious and I’ll be content to stay put. I doubt it but maybe…

What’s your best moving advice?


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More Life Changes and Some Decisions to Ponder

Photo by cottonbro studio

It’s been 3 weeks since I posted last. I am great at writing about work/life balance and taking care of yourself; I’m not great about living my message. I’ve averaged over 50 hours a week the past few weeks at my day job. It’s always a busy season but recent changes in our city have made it temporarily worse this year. Hopeful that’s going to change though with some recent steps we’ve taken to get us some temporary help.

Big Changes

Big changes coming about on the personal front. My oldest man-child is moving back home in 2 weeks. I’m excited! He’ll be moving back in with me until he gets settled into a new job and then he’ll figure out his next step. The youngest man-child stayed with me for about a year until he was able to buy his own condo and I would be fine if Michael went that route as well.

This means Nick and I have to hustle though and get the rest of his stuff out of my place so big brother has a place for his stuff. Oh, and did I mention that my AC went out the week before last? I was the only one in the office part of this week so no way to schedule a repair  but hopefully that will be fixed early this week. Also, hopefully the cost will not be astronomical. Continue reading

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