Looking For The Good

frustrated lady

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Are you a glass half-full or half-empty person? In general, I’m very much a glass half-full person. Lately though, I’m struggling with that. I’m letting the little things become big things.

I’ve always enjoyed my job. I work for a small city and it’s full of wonderful people…for the most part. To say I had hesitation in accepting this job, is an understatement, lol. I am the most un-political person there is and more than a few people pointed this out to me when I was debating on the position. I was reassured though that this was a small city that didn’t participate in the “big city politics” and they weren’t lying I found out. There’s no negativity with our elected officials, they work well together, even if they don’t agree on certain things.

Five years in and I was certain this would be my last job.  I’m not a job hopper, it’s close to home, it’s a government job with great benefits, etc. The last few 4 or 5 months though, I’ve found myself wondering if this is it for me. Continue reading

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Dumb Things I Did When I Was Young (And Not So Young)

frustrated woman at laptop

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Being a mom is the best job I’ve had. Life as a single mom is tough under the best of conditions and when you’re struggling along on a single income, it’s even tougher though. I feel like I’ve always been pretty transparent with my kids about finances over the years.

My boys are grown now. Both have graduated from college and are working full-time. The youngest man-child bought a condo about a year and a half ago and the eldest man-child is actively looking at properties now. They are financially self-sufficient and I’m incredibly proud of them. As an almost-reformed helicopter-mom, (if my boys are reading this, they’re probably laughing right now but I am trying to be better!!) it’s been tough to let go of the reins and let them fly on their own. We talk daily and that includes talking about financial matters. Student loans, health insurance, buying their first properties, investments…we’ve talked about all these things.

Talking with my youngest son the other day, I was talking about things I wish I had done differently, especially when I was their current ages (25 and 27). Here are a few of the things I wish I had done differently:

Life Insurance

My husband died when the boys were young. He was 35 and I was 25. We were young and healthy (or so we thought) and when he died unexpectedly, the only life insurance we had was a minimal policy his work provided. If I remember right, it was less than $50,000.

Losing a spouse is devastating. Having to worry about how you’re going to survive financially on top of that when you have two babies counting on you makes everything ten times worse.

Buy the life insurance. As much as you can afford while you’re young. And if you can’t afford it, then buy it anyway because you really need it then. I pray you will never ever need it, but buy it anyway!

Buying Too Much House

Being house poor is not fun. I bought the smallest house in a fancy neighborhood, thinking it would be a good investment. It was too far away from the kids school and activities, the yard was too much for me to handle, and it was a stretch financially. 

My son is currently house hunting now and it’s definitely a challenge. Interest rates are high and houses are definitely going for a premium in our area. He’s expanded his search area a bit and is continuing to sock away money so hopefully he’ll find the right place soon. He’s being patient and smart.

I would like to upgrade to a newer place myself but I’ve nearly talked myself into staying put since I have a low payment and interest rate right now. I’m not a home-body type of person and I know that even selling my current place and making a nice profit that I’ll have to significantly increase my mortgage payment and that will cut into my debt-payoff and travel plans.

New/Leased Cars

Another unwise move on my part. I spent years on the lease cycle. I justified it by saying that I was keeping my monthly payment low and I didn’t have to worry about repair costs or maintenance costs. Never mind that I was never without a car payment. Sigh. 

I finally got myself out of the lease trap and drove my last car until it literally died. I am back to a car payment unfortunately but I’m paying extra monthly on it to pay it off quicker and I plan to also keep this vehicle until it dies. 

Staying At A Job Too Long

I am not a job-hopper. I’ve been very fortunate to have had several great bosses and co-workers over the years. That being said, it was easy to get too comfortable at the jobs where I loved my co-workers and was satisfied with my job. A job opportunity presented itself finally that was too good to pass up. Salary was originally about the same as the one I was leaving but the benefits were much better. Five years later I’m making significantly more salary as well. Definitely a great move for me.

Don’t be afraid to make a job or career move. For the most part, the days of staying loyal to one company your entire career is not the best move. Keep your resume’ updated, keep learning new skills, and don’t be afraid to make a move if a better opportunity comes along. If you’re at the stage in life where you don’t have a family or mortgage or other debts tying you down, then I really encourage you to take the leap if a good opportunity presents itself.

Take Advantage of Investing Opportunities 

My early jobs had decent 401K plans but as a single parent, I didn’t feel like I could contribute as much as I should have. My last job had a horrible 401K plan. I am definitely way behind where I should be at my age with my retirement funds.

Fortunately, I currently work in a government position that has an extremely generous pension plan.  Hopefully that will help me catch up a bit in the next few years. Be sure to at least contribute enough to get the full match that your employer offers (if they do). If your employer doesn’t have a great plan, set up an IRA. I am NOT an expert in these things but you can do the research to find the best type of IRA to get. Take advantage of your youth and set yourself up for success early.

What would you encourage a young person (or not so young person) to avoid doing? I know I’m not the only one that’s made dumb mistakes in my financial past.

 

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Frugal Summer Fun

lady lounging by the pool

Photo by Sunbae Legacy

School’s Out!! Well, school is out for some. My boys and I have been done with school for a bit now. Officially June 20th is the start of summer this year but it seems like the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start since that’s when most of the swimming pools open.

Confession time: Fall is my favorite season, not summer. The older I get, the less I like the heat and the less the heat of summer likes me. I refuse to be a grinch about summer though. Afterall, daylight is around much longer and there’s usually plenty to do that doesn’t cost a fortune and you know I’m all about that. Continue reading

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Stress And How To Combat It

stressed lady

Photo by Karolina Grabowska

It’s been a month since I’ve written my last blog post. It’s been a month since I’ve written much of anything. Life has been a whirlwind of activity the last few months. The desire to write is there but my brain is on overload and nothing is coming out creatively. 

Six months ago I had a calcium score test done and my doctor put me on a low dosage of Lipitor after we got the results. The test results weren’t terrible but weren’t what they should be at my age so combined with some symptoms I’ve had, we decided to try the medicine. Just had follow-up blood work done and my cholesterol is down so that’s good. Continue reading

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My Favorite “Expert” Advice

bicycle next to Follow that dream sign

Photo by Alex Azabache

Reading and writing are two of my very favorite things to do. Doesn’t matter if it’s writing on my novel, my blog, or even a to-do list. Same thing with reading. 15 years in a book club has really been great for me because I’ve read a lot of great books that I might never have picked up otherwise. 

Self-improvement is also something I’m always striving for. I don’t think we should ever stop learning or trying to move forward with new ideas as we age. That’s why I usually read at least one non-fiction book a month, either a personal finance type book or self-improvement most of the time. I also listen to the Mel Robbins podcast each week. One of my favorite quotes from her is: “Your are not supposed to be the same person you were a year, month, day, or even 5 seconds ago. You are designed to grow.”

As with most things in life, I like to go into things with an open mind and gather the tidbits that I think are good and discard the things I’m not interested in or don’t agree with. Below are some of my favorite tips and quotes from the “experts”. Continue reading

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Sometimes Frugal/Sometimes Not

woman counting money at desk with her laptop

Photo by Karolina Grabowska

Frugal living is a lifestyle I’ve lived for quite awhile now. It was a necessity after Rick died and I had to adjust to living without that second income. Over the years, the kids have grown up and become financially self-sufficient, I’ve switched jobs, and slowly but surely I don’t have to pinch those pennies quite as tightly. I assure people I’ve lived frugally for so long though that I’m quite sure I could hit the Powerball tonight and you’d still find me looking the the endcaps and scouring the sale ads before I do my weekly shopping. It’s second nature to me now.

I feel blessed that I’m no longer in a position where I am worried about paying the bills. That’s not to say I still don’t need to be careful about money. I’m currently in my “pay off debt” stage that was the result of years and years of not quite enough income to cover everything. It’s still easy to get a little lackadaisical about your spending if you’re not careful though. Continue reading

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April Intentions-Writing & Micro Habits

woman writing

Photo by Andrew Neel

How is it possible that the first quarter of 2024 is already over? I glanced over my 2024 Resolutions/Intentions list tonight and I’m doing okay but probably should pick up the pace a bit. 

  • I’ve paid down some debt
  • I’ve read 17 books so far (5 ahead of schedule for the 48 I’ve challenged myself with for the year)
  • I’ve attempted NANOWRIMO (wasn’t successful unfortunately 44,872/50,000 words)
  • I’ve submitted one piece of writing (2 more to go this year)

April’s monthly intention is going to be focusing on writing and micro-habits. Continue reading

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The Birthday Edition

Woman celebrating with picnic

Photo by Rachel Claire

It’s official…I’m 50 today. Or, as I will probably refer to myself for the next year: I’m 30 with 20 years experience.

And to be perfectly honest, I’m struggling a bit to not struggle with it. I feel kind of bad even admitting that, since I realize more than most, that’s it’s a blessing to make it to this age. Why do we get so stressed about age, especially those round numbers? And I feel comfortable about saying “we” because I don’t think I’m alone in this. People have always joked about mid-life crises. Unfortunately, I don’t have the bank account to support running out and buying a sports car but I did get a little crazy at the hairdresser last week and said we have to do something different…lol. Continue reading

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March and Self-Care

Woman in yoga pose by the ocean

Photo by mali maeder

I’m back!

February is the shortest month…although this year we did get an extra day thrown in for Leap Year, which is always cool. I didn’t manage to write even one blog post for February, which is a huge fail for me. My goal, despite my busy schedule for the short month, was to get at least two posts published.

NANOWRIMO Update

What kept me so busy and led me to neglect my beloved blog? National Novel Writing Month, also known as NANOWRIMO. This is officially held in November each month, but I’m a rebel, and decided to do my own version in February. The goal is  to write 50,000 words in a month’s time, which should produce a very rough draft of a novel.

Spoiler alert: I didn’t complete 50,000 words. I ended up with 44,873 words. Did I fail? Yes, technically. Am I upset? A little, because I’m competitive and I don’t like to fail a challenge I’ve set for myself but I also realize I have 44,873 words written that I didn’t in January. 

50 Before 50 Update

Guess what other challenge I’m not going to complete that I set for myself? Yup, my 50 Before 50 challenge that I set last year. You can see my list here. As of today, I’ve only completed 20 of the 50 items, but I’ll probably have at least 3 more done before Wednesday. Based on a friend’s suggestion, my list is going to be modified to “50 Things to Usher in 50” now since I still want to complete these things. 

March Intention

Moving on….My March Intention is all about Self-Care. That seemed appropriate since it’s my birthday month. Might as well try to spoil myself a bit…on a budget of course. What does self-care month mean for me? Not sure exactly. Maybe I’ll try to knock off a few more of those 50 Things to Usher in 50 list, like get a massage, or visit a museum, or finally get that tattoo. Knowing me, it will probably also involve some reading and writing time and lots of Starbucks lattes.

Self-care month definitely needs to include a few more gym visits. A recent doctor’s visit has me at the highest weight I’ve ever been at. A yoga class at my gym and a few Hydrobed sessions might ease my stress levels. Heck, I might even take a vacation day since I have a ton saved up.

What do you for frugal self-care days?

 

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