10 Frugal Ways for Self Care

Self Care

Photo by Natasha Fernandez

Self care is something that I’ve discovered is sooo important and yet something that we (especially women and moms I think) tend to neglect. I don’t think I’m the only one that finds myself running around like a crazy woman between my job and running a household, and trying to have some semblance of a life. Living life this way can create some serious burnout. I can go a thousand miles an hour for just so long before I find myself snapping at people and often ending up semi-sick.

Okay, so we know self-care is important but maybe you’re thinking, I don’t have the time or money to spend on myself. Or maybe you’re thinking it’s selfish to spend time and money on yourself. Well guess what, it’s not selfish and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Here are 10 frugal ways I practice frugal self-care. Continue reading

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Dream Jobs


What’s your dream job?

I’m going to take a guess here and say something pops into your mind fairly quickly when I ask this. I’m also going to guess that very few people will say their current occupation is their dream job.

What’s my dream job? Glad you asked. My dream job is to be a paid author/writer. I’m halfway there…I just need to keep plugging away until I get to the paid status.

What Is Your Dream Job?

What if you don’t know what your dream job is? Let me ask you this, if you hit the lottery tomorrow and making money was not a factor, what would you like to do day in and day out as a profession?

Writing is my passion. I spend a lot of time doing it even though it’s only made me $200 so far. Truthfully, I know that I will always be a writer, even if I don’t ever finish my novel, or find someone to publish it when I do. I write because I need to write. Obviously, I would love to be a famous author one day but until that day I will continue to write for myself and my 28 or so readers on this little blog (thanks to all 28 of you! LOL!)

What do you love doing? Landscaping? Decorating homes? Coaching or teaching? Cooking? Public service?

What If I Don’t Have My Dream Job?

One of my sons told me the other day that most of his friends weren’t happy with their jobs. I know a few people that love what they do for a living but honestly, I know a few that are definitely not happy with their current work situations. 

First off, I’m not naïve enough to believe that we can all have perfect dream jobs. It’s called work for a reason, right? I do believe though, that no one needs to be miserable in their careers.

I’m 48 and I’ve been working since I was 15 and it’s amazing how the workforce has changed just in my 33 years of working. There is so much opportunity available today. It’s no longer an environment (for the most part) where you’re likely to work at one job/company for your whole life. In fact, some would argue that you’re probably going to advance much more quickly, both in experience and salary, by changing companies throughout your career.

Action Steps To Find That Dream Job

  • Figure out what you might want to do. Again, what would you like to do if money wasn’t a consideration?
  • Interested in a certain job or company? Reach out to your contacts and see if you can find a way to talk to someone in the position/company you’re interested in.
  • Do your research. Will you need further education for this position? Can you substitute experience for some education?
  • Quitting your job and jumping into something radically different might not be smart or even financially feasible.Can you take some baby steps though?

      Let’s say that your dream job is to open a restaurant. You could find a restaurant                    similar in the style to the one you want to own one day and get a part-time job there to        learn the ins and outs of restaurant work while you save up to get your own one day.

      My day job is a Treasurer for a small city. You’ll find me hunkered down somewhere            writing most weekends and some evenings though. Last year I even took a writing                sabbatical and splurged on a hotel room out of town for some hard-core writing time.

Don’t Settle in Life

My sons’ life experience thus far (thankfully) doesn’t match what mine was at their age. I was married at 22, quickly had two children, and became a widow at 25. It took me another 5 years to finish my accounting degree while working full time and being a single mom. I was so very fortunate to have family to help me out with my kids and occasional babysitting. I was also fortunate to find jobs that provided insurance and allowed me some flexibility in my work hours to attend my kids activities.

That being said, I regret not being brave enough to venture out of my safe, comfortable job for better opportunities. It was a huge leap of faith for me to leave my last employer. I loved my coworkers and was very comfortable with my work role after almost 12 years there. My current job kind of fell into my lap though and with the lure of some pretty fantastic benefits I accepted the offer. December will be my 4 year anniversary in my new position and although it’s sometimes crazy, especially with all the extra work Covid has created in the role, I’m glad I’m there. My salary has increased substantially and so has my skill set.

My current mission in life is to encourage my sons to take bigger leaps in their lives. They are hard workers and very smart. I just want them to be confident enough to not live their lives in safe mode like I did for far too long. Every position might not be your dream job but set yourself up for a dream life. Maybe that means finding the dream career and maybe it just means finding a good enough job that allows you the time and money to live your dream life outside of your working hours.

What’s your dream job? Are you happy with where you’re at now?



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Vacations, Surgery, and Money

cruise ship

Photo by Bruno Castelli

I feel like I have a pretty dull, predictable life most of the time. It’s a very simple life for the most part. I work (a lot!), have book club once a month, and have a core group of friends that I hang out with. I hang with my kids when they allow it, and that’s basically it. Oh yeah, and I take an annual trek for a day or two to a small amusement park a state over each summer and other than the occasional trip to visit my son one state over, that’s been it for a long time as far as any vacations per se. In fact, I had to do some research to see when the last time I took a “real” vacation was. 

I went to Cancun in October 2010 and February 2014 and Jamaica in September 2012. Those were very nice trips and my former company paid for those. I took a trip to a friend’s condo in June 2013 and took a trip with friends to South Carolina in July 2014. So yeah, it’s been 8 years since I’ve had a nice vacation.

Big Plans-Good and Bad

That’s about to change. Covid cancelled a planned vacation to Washington D.C. in 2020 and thanks to a generous relative, she’s gifted those plane tickets to me and Michael since she can’t use them. That trip we’re going to attempt to take at the end of October since they have to be used quickly. 

I also have a cruise that I will be going on in mid-February 2023. This was also a postponed/rescheduled trip due to Covid. 

Oh, and did I mention that somewhere between those two trips and a super busy time at work, I will probably need bunion surgery that is going to greatly limit my mobility for a few months. Just typing bunion surgery makes me feel like an old lady. I live in a second-floor condo and, more importantly, I am not the type of person that can sit around my house immobile for very long (like 2 hours or more…lol), so this is going to be quite the challenge.

So, 2 trips scheduled and an unexpected surgery that is all happening within 6 months. That’s going to be pricey but I certainly can’t turn down these opportunities and unfortunately the foot issue needs to be addressed so it’s time to go on budget lockdown and come up with this money so I can have a fabulous time and not have to worry about money considerations with the trips. 4-6 weeks with no weight on my foot and another 2-4 weeks with limited weight will not be fabulous but at least I can console myself with books after I figure out my out-of-pocket insurance costs.

First Things First

Good news is that I have the main costs of the cruise outlined. Plane tickets have already been purchased, cruise ticket due by end of November, and our drink package has to be paid before we board the cruise. Also have to renew my passport (ugh, more $$). Oh yeah, and splitting one night in a hotel and then that trip is pretty much paid for.

Plane tickets for our D.C. trip have generously been covered. We hope to stay somewhere in the middle of everything so we can walk or take public transportation there. From what I understand, a lot of the spots we want to hit there are free. So, hotel and food will be our biggest expenses to watch.

I’ve already had some medical expenses this year that I’ve incurred. Assuming I can fit this surgery in before December 31st, I think the most I’ll have to come up with to meet my out-0f-pocket expenses on my health plan is $800.

Also have Christmas, several birthday gifts, and 2 baby shower gifts here but luckily I am a fantabulous budget shopper so not too worried about these. 

Budget Lock-down Begins

Now I have a general idea of the money I need to come up with over the next 6 months. It’s a good chunk of money for me but it’s “time to take the trips” as my friend says.

Here are some of my plans for coming up with the money I need:

  • I was already paying $85 a month towards some interest-free financing on some expensive car repairs I had done last year. Just paid that off last week so I’m going to throw that in my vacation fund now since the amount is already in my budget
  • Keep earning and use my various rewards. I have one cash back credit card with my bank.  I also do various survey and rewards type programs that pay out in cash or gift cards (Shopkick, Receipt Hog, Ibotta, and Surveys). Currently I have $588 saved up between those. 
  • Earmark my expenses that I get back from work. I get reimbursed for mileage at work. That adds up in the summer months when I’m handling our pool stuff and making daily cash deposits at our bank. I’ll have one more decent check there and I’m going to dump that into my vacation fund.
  • Sell anything I don’t need. I have a few books I know I can sell. I may try to flip a few items again, haven’t done that for awhile.
  • Reduce my variable expense categories on my budget (Groceries, gas, entertainment, and restaurants).
  • More free activities until our trips. Library, hang out with friends, catch up on some tv shows, bookstore browsing, etc.
  • Worst case scenario, I’ll dip into the emergency funds and pay them back ASAP with any tax refund.  I  really think this is manageable though and that won’t be necessary.

It would definitely be nice if I could have spread these things out a bit more but I’m definitely going to make this work. Plus, the cruise is an early birthday trip for myself. I’ve been working hard these past few years and it’s time to slow down a bit. Plus, the oldest man-child definitely needs a vacation. The youngest man-child had 2 big trips this year already so don’t feel sorry for him, lol. 

Bonus: A cruise has long been on my bucket list.

Anything special that you’re saving up for?

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Slowing Down-Whether You Like It Or Not

Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich

I’ve always been a person who has trouble slowing down. I seem to thrive with a busy to-do list. Part of my issue I think is that there’s so much I want to do in life. I need to work lots of hours, I want to write my blog, I want to write my novel, I want to work out 5 times a week and read all the books and of course, I’ve got to make time to hang out with family and friends. Guess what? There’s not enough hours in the day or week to do this but I sure give it my best shot each week. I wrote a little about this 2 1/2 years ago on this blog, you can read that here, so this obviously isn’t a new issue with me.

This past week I woke up at 2:30am in the morning not feeling well at all. It was a little scary. I debated for about an hour on whether I should head to the ER and since I’d just had a physical that included lots of bloodwork that was fine a few weeks earlier, I decided to just go back to sleep and see how I felt in the morning. Still didn’t feel great when I woke up so after some prompting from a friend and my son, I decided to take the day off and head to the ER. 5 hours and 2 blood draws, and 2 EKG’s later they released me with instructions to follow up with my primary doctor to get a stress test done. Moral of the story…sometimes if you refuse to slow down, your body will make you. Continue reading

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A Lottery Ticket and a Dream

Photo by Dmitry Zvolskiy

The Mega Millions jackpot last night was 1.28 billion dollars. That’s right, I said Billion, not million. I can’t even imagine winning a million dollars, let alone a billion dollars but it’s fun to plop a few dollars down for a chance. Spoiler alert: We didn’t win.

I’ve done a couple of these blog posts in the past when the jackpots got big so I thought I would do another for tonight’s big drawing and then go back afterwards to see if time and age and circumstances have changed my thoughts on what I would do if I won big dollars. You can read my previous posts here and here and here if you would like to see what I wrote before. Continue reading

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Holly’s Favorites-Summer 2022 edition

Photo by Polina Zimmerman: https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-reading-in-library-3747474/

It’s that time again. I was trying to decide what to write this week and I realized I hadn’t done one of my favorite posts for nearly a year and a half. Time to remedy that.

The Library

I love the library. I am a huge reader so obviously the books are a huge draw for me but my library (and probably yours too) has so much more to offer.  You can check out magazines, DVD’s, audio books, and even laptops.

Need to use one of their computers? Yep, that’s free also. Just sign up for a time slot. Prefer to use your own? My library has tons of tables, rooms, and nooks and many of them even have charging ports.

They also hold various classes and programs that are free. Some of the programs offered at mine include children story time, computer classes, resume’ writing assistance, teen movie night, and cooking demonstrations. Continue reading

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Summer Bucket List on a Budget

Photo by Pixabay: https://www.pexels.com/photo/orange-mason-jar-in-body-of-water-462030/

Yay!! Summer is here! At least that’s the general feeling for most people. I know I’m in the minority here but it’s really not my favorite season. I don’t do well with hot weather, my work schedule is extra busy, and I generally feel like I can’t afford or can take the time for a nice vacation. Living closer to a beach would probably help my bah humbug attitude about summer but, alas, I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

I’m busy working on my attitude about summer this year though. Of course, gas prices and prices in general across the board in my budget are just crazy right now. So I decided to create a little summer bucket list for myself and maybe provide a few tips on ways to make your summer fun a little more frugal this year. Continue reading

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Putting In The Work

Motivational Quote

Have we gotten lazy as a society? Has our need for instant gratification affected our drive? Several commercials and advertisements lately have prompted this little rant from me today.

“Work today…get paid today…” seen on several fast food restaurant signs.

“Sign up with us and get your paycheck deposited 3 days early!”

“Drink this miracle shake and lost 30lbs in a month with no exercising and eating whatever you want!”

Say what?!? These are not good things!! I highly doubt the restaurant is going to find a good, long-term employee this way. Getting your paycheck deposited 3 days early is most likely going to leave the employee hurting even more before the next paycheck is deposited or put them in a cycle of depending on this crutch. And losing weight without putting in the work of changing your eating habits and putting in the exercise is probably not realistic at best and unhealthy at worst! Continue reading

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Job Hunting-Does Anyone Like It?

job interview

Photo by cottonbro

Once upon a time, people picked a company to work for and that’s where they stayed for the majority of their careers. Over the years, this has become more and more infrequent though. I have learned (the hard way) over the years, that loyalty to a company is not necessarily the best financial move. 

I have had numerous jobs over the years but for the most part, talking about my career jobs, I tend to stay at companies for relatively long periods of time. Definitely not a job hopper. My last company I was at for almost 12 years and I suspect I will be at my current job for a bit. Of course, the Powerball, finally finishing and selling that best-selling novel, or a new mayor that wants their own hand-picked staff might change those plans, lol. If I had to do it over though, I would not be so hesitant to leave for better career opportunities.

I’ve enjoyed watching my sons start the career process as they’ve finished their college careers though. It’s an exciting time and I know a bit stressful at times. Here’s some advice I’ve given them over the years and used myself. Continue reading

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Learning to Pivot

lady on a winding road

Photo by Taryn Elliott from Pexels

What do you think of when you hear the phrase “Pivot”? If you’re around my age and/or a fan of the show Friends, you probably think of the infamous scene where they’re trying to get a couch up some narrow stairs and Ross is screaming at everyone to Pivot.

When I hear “pivot”, I instantly think of life. I feel like my life has been one classic case of learning to pivot. I suspect I’m not alone in this. How many of you are living the exact life you thought you would or dreamed of as a kid.

The Childhood Dream and The Present

As a kid, I wanted to be either a lawyer, an FBI agent, or an author. I was going to be married with two boys and a girl.

Middle-age Holly (middle-age is probably a generous description at this point) has been a lifeguard, retail clerk, restaurant worker, mortgage office worker, health insurance employee, Accounts Receivable Specialist, and now the Treasurer of a small city. I did have one story published so technically I guess I can call myself an author.  I’m widowed, now perpetually single, and have two sons (two out of 3 ain’t bad).

Not exactly the life I ordered up but it’s still one that I love because I’ve learned to pivot. I’m still pivoting as I learn to adapt to a life that is no longer centered 100% around my kids. I’m learning to embrace doing more of the things that make me happy and fulfilled. Continue reading

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