Celebrating Christmas When Funds Are Tight

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2020 has been the craziest year ever, has it not? It seems like we’ve been dealing with restrictions forever and yet the year is still flying by for me. We are just shy of 11 weeks away from Christmas. Are you ready? More specifically, is your budget ready?

I tend to over spend every year for Christmas. If I had to guess, I’m not the only one. This year might be even tougher for many, especially if Covid restrictions have affected your income. Our family was fortunate because our income didn’t really take a hit but we did have some extra healthcare costs and we’re about to start paying on Michael’s student loans. I’m looking to make Christmas as frugal as possible this year for those reasons. Here are 5 steps to take to help keep your budget in tact for the holiday season. Continue reading

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Philo vs Sling Streaming Services

TV remote

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You guys know that I’m all about frugal living. I’m constantly looking for ways to cut my expenses. One expense that I realized was really getting out of hand a few years ago was our cable/internet bill. If you know me at all though, you also know I really like watching television. I may or may not have an HGTV and Hallmark channel addiction.

Just shy of 4 years ago I decided to bite the bullet and cut the cable cord in our house. We were paying $182 a month for our internet, a very basic cable package, and Netflix. That’s craziness. See me earlier post if you’re interested in “cutting the cord” like we did.

Today I want to compare my experiences with two lesser known streaming services: Sling and Philo. Continue reading

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Separate or Joint Finances?

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I started this blog years ago as mostly an accountability journal for myself.  Writing has been a therapeutic outlet for me for as long as I can remember. I’ve always loved reading blogs so I thought I’d try my hand at creating my own. HollyGainsSomeSense is primarily geared at helping people working with a small budget, especially single parents. I also throw in some semi-tiny home living tips, and advice on discovering your second half life/dreams when your kids grow up and move on.

Separate or Combined Finances?

Today’s post will be a bit different as I pose a question to my readers. How do you manage the finances in your household? I know this blog is geared primarily at single-income families but I know some of my readers are married or have significant others. Does one person handle the finances in your home or is it a joint effort? One bank account for those of you that are a couple or do you have separate accounts? Continue reading

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2020 and the Second Half

Covid mask

So we’re way into the second half of 2020. Let’s be serious, did ANYONE forecast what a crazy, crazy year this would be? The Covid-19 pandemic, killer hornets, Australia burned, protests all over the country….I’ll stop here because that’s enough craziness to prove my point.

Covid-19 Update 

I think it’s safe to say that COVID-19 alone has changed life as we know it for nearly everyone. Even if you or your family and friends have been fortunate enough to avoid contracting the illness, there have been disruptions to our normal life routines. Masks are required in public places for the majority of us. Major events have been cancelled or postponed for the first time. Homeschooling or distance learning has become a common occurrence for many from kindergarten to the college level. Many people are now working from home for the first time, as well.
Continue reading

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4 Steps to Beat Frugal Fatigue


tired woman

I had a little bit of a melt-down this weekend. It happens to the best of us I guess. Life has been a little crazy lately. Covid-19 issues, another expensive year with unexpected expenses, family issues beyond my control, etc. I thought I was dealing with it all until I wasn’t. Trying to juggle travel arrangements for a mini-vacation and not being able to find an economical option just sent me over the edge. Luckily a good friend talked me off the ledge but my takeaway is that sometimes you just need a good melt-down to move forward.

I get tired of being poor sometimes. Oh, I know I’m rich in all the ways it really matters. I have two awesome kids, great friends, great family, and a secure job that I like. I’m talking about financially poor right now. Sometimes you just get tired of pinching pennies, and working hard on your finances, only to have every year bring new unexpected expenses that make you feel like you’re never going to get ahead. Continue reading

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It’s Official-I’m An Empty Nester

Michael officially graduated from college May 9th. Unfortunately there was no fan fare or ceremony at this point due to Covid. His official ceremony was postponed and will be held in December (hopefully). A week later he moved into an apartment with two friends.

Nick is still away at his rental in his college town. He’ll be starting his senior year of college in August. I doubt this one will ever return home to live, although his momma would love it and he would be welcome if he chose to do so. Hint Hint.

So there you have it….this means I’m officially an empty nester. It’s not been as bad as I expected. Of course Michael is only about 15 minutes away and he’s had to return for a few things so it’s not like I don’t see him anymore. It occurred to me that first night that this is the first time I’ve ever lived alone. I went from my parents home to a college dorm (briefly), then back home for a bit, then I married my husband and then I’ve had the boys.

So here’s a few observations from the last couple weeks.

The Good

My condo is suddenly not so tiny. I basically have two extra rooms now since Michael had commandeered Nick’s bedroom and turned it into his gaming room. I plan on turning one into an office space for myself. The other I’ll turn back into a spare bedroom for when Nick does come home on school breaks.

My expenses should drop. Groceries will be less and utilities too maybe.

If I buy an apple pie…it’s all mine!!

The Bad

I fell the other day. It was one of those stupid things where I just wasn’t being careful and I went down hard. I laid on the floor for several minutes trying to decide if anything was broken (on me, not the condo). As I decided I was probably okay, I started laughing as I realized I might need to ask the boys to get me one of those medical alert bracelets. Somehow I thought I’d be 76, not 46 before I would need one of those.

Along the same lines, I am going to have some minor surgery next week. Not a big deal but I’ll probably need someone here for a couple days to help me out with the cat. 

It’s easy to neglect decent eating habits. Not that I’ve ever been a great cook but when it’s just yourself, it’s much easier to just eat a bowl of cereal for supper then actually fix a real meal. On second thought, maybe I should put this in the good category since I could stand to lose a few pounds.

If the house is dirty now…it’s my fault.

I think it might be easy to become a workaholic since there’s no one at home waiting on me.

What’s Next

So, I mentioned being an workaholic is on my bad list. I’m determined not to become one, but the next few weeks will involve a lot of work. It’s a busy season at work anyway and I will probably have to be off at least a few days with my surgery. Also, this current Covid crisis has thrown a wrench into our neighborhood pool opening. Our state government has not set the guidelines yet that we need to follow to open it safely and let me just tell you that people are losing their minds. We are going to have to jump through all types of hoops to safely open this. Oh, and did I mention we have to finalize our fiscal budget by the end of the month??

I want to get my house totally cleaned and organized. There isn’t a lot of extra money right now since I hadn’t planned on this surgery this year (or it’s subsequent costs).  I definitely have plans to get my two “new” rooms put together as economically as possible though.

Focus on me! Which, of course, means focus on my writing. I have learned through this Covid-19 crisis and its subsequent closings, that I write best when I am not at home. Barnes and Noble and our library are my go-to spots to write. Unfortunately, they are not going to be open anytime soon, at least not in the capacity that I need. This is a mental block of mine for some reason so I’m hoping I can fix a cute little office spot for me that I love that will encourage me to write there.

The empty nest is something I’ve really dreaded as a single parent. You don’t have that spouse to lean on when you’re missing the kids. Luckily both my boys are really good about calling me often and keeping me updated on their lives. Thankfully with some busy weeks ahead me, I won’t have time to dwell on my new status. Here’s to looking to the future and this next phase in life.

Any advice for me?


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Holly’s Favorites

Today I’m borrowing an idea from one of my favorite bloggers, Andrea Dekker, and sharing a few of my favorite things.

The items below are things I use all the time and make my life so much easier/happier. It’s an eclectic bunch but that’s how I roll… Continue reading

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Stimulus Checks: What Can You Do With It?

Well, for most of us, things have been a bit crazy over the last couple months. I think it’s safe to say that Covid-19 has changed life as we know it for all of us in some way or another.

My family has been fairly fortunate. I am still working full-time, although my schedule is a bit wonky as we alternate hours in my office. We’re attempting to only have one person working in the office at a time to minimize contact.
Continue reading

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Social Distancing Activities

Update-Pandemic Craziness

So it’s been one month since my state (Kentucky) confirmed their first Corona-virus case. Now we’re up to approximately 831 confirmed cases and at least 37 deaths. Colleges have shut down the campuses and switched to online classes for the rest of the semester. Restaurants can only be open if they can operate through drive-thru or take-out. Most businesses are closed to the public. Our governor has gained a cult following. Crazy times.

Although government offices have been shut down for around two weeks to the public, my job is essential and I’ve been working my regular schedule for the most part. My office is working with a skeleton crew to ensure we’re doing out part with social distancing and keeping everyone safe. Continue reading

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When the World Seems Like It’s Collapsing

Photo by Craig Whitehead on Unsplash

Wow, this week has been crazy. Unlike anything I’ve seen in my 46 years.

Confession time…when talk of the Coronavirus started up about a month ago, I did not take it too seriously. In all honesty, I should have, because I do have a son that is immune-compromised. I also have a co-worker who is highly immune-compromised. So although I’m still not concerned about myself getting too sick if I were to contract it, I am now concerned that I could make someone around me very sick.

This post is going to stray a bit from my normal personal-finance topics. This is going to be some personal observations and maybe a few tips. That’s the glorious part of having a blog, I can write about what I want. You may be interested, you may not be. Continue reading

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