Life

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Blessings

img_0328

Today is my darling granddaughter’s first birthday.  I had always heard what a joy grandchildren are for their grandparents.  I now blessed to know this feeling.  Having a grandchild makes you really think about the important things in life and what kind of legacy and world are we leaving to the children. Part of the legacy in my mind is spending time with family and teaching the ways of the world prior to millennials.  Teach the values of learning to read (and real a lot), good English, working hard and having a positive attitude as much as possible.  Unfortunately, my son and his beautiful family live about five hours away and I do not get to see them as often as I would like.  Because of this, I have a determination to set new goals for myself to afford me the ability to spend time with them whenever I want.

To accomplish this goal, I need to refocus my energy on saving and frugal living.  When you are blessed, you sometimes forget what it took to get you to a financially secure position.  My Dear Hubby and I have been discussing this a great deal over the last few months and have begun setting our goals for 2017.  The first goal is to finish our savings plan to set aside the money for a  new (to us) car in two years. This goal has been on our radar for a couple of years and we have been saving when we could.  However, it  is now the time to become more focused.  I have set a goal for us to have this fund completed by the first of June 2017.  In an effort to kick-start our savings plan in January, we have decided to go on a spending freeze.  We will have our normal budget for bills and work related travel expenses.  We will also have a small budget for perishable groceries.  My hope is if we can plan well, I will be able to add an additional $300 to the car fund, getting us a little closer to our goal. Over the next several weeks, I am going to document how we did on these savings and share.

We are also taking a serious look at our cable and entertainment options.  We have started looking for better deals and will likely make a big change in January.   As I set my goals for 2017, one goal will be to visit this site more often.  I do love to write, I really want to share, but I am really neglectful.

Back at Again

IMG_0805 (1)

It has been months and months since I last posted anything on this page.  Over the last several days, I have thought about how I have neglected this blog and what I am really trying to accomplish from sharing my thoughts.  Thinking about all of this took me back to the why:

The WHY is at the age of 49, I started my life anew.  I divorced after 29 years and 11 months of marriage.  This was hard, very hard.  However, it was something I needed to do.  I have often said, people under the age of 20 really have no clue what they want with their lives and it is far too young to make a commitment to someone for the rest of your life.  Now I know some of you are going to say I know so and so and they got married when they were in their teens and they are very happy.  For those rare gems, I say congratulations.

I made this very hard decision just a month shy of my 49th birthday.  The day before my 49th birthday, I started my new single life.  Over the next year, the realities of what was occurring set in.  The first is for the first year or so after I left, I paid the expenses for both homes.  I did this not only because I was able, but because I felt an obligation.  During this year, my youngest son got married and there were of course expenses.  Also, during this time I racked up credit card and other stupid debt.

When the divorce was finalized, it was necessary to split what assets were accumulated during this marriage.  Because I did have a better job situation, he ended up with 60% of the assets.  This does not make me unhappy, nor do I bear any grudges.  The reality was though, when I took inventory after all of the dust had settled, I somehow had gotten myself in almost $40,000 debt — without a house payment.  I really was starting from scratch — and I needed to do something about it NOW!!

The good news though is from all of this, I realized I needed to make some changes in my spending and savings habits.  I had to learn how to be disciplined with my money and get back on track. After all, by this time I had turned the BIG 50 and I didn’t have so many working years ahead of me any more to right this ship.  Luckily, someone very dear to me recommended I read Dave Ramsey’s book “Total Money Makeover”.

I knew to pay off this small mountain of debt I needed to make some drastic changes. The first thing I did was take a true inventory of my income and expenses.  I wrote everything down. I also tracked everything I spent for several weeks to truly see where my money was going. I then did the first honest budget I had done in years. Some of my previous posts talk about the zero-based budget. I plan over the next several weeks to do a new series of posts about budgeting and discuss how I was able to pay off this debt and the successes in my life since.

Feeling Motivated

I hear and see on social media (a lot) from people who say they can’t eat healthier because it cost more, or they can’t exercise because it cost too much to join a gym, on and on.  I realized this weekend, just like all MY excuses — this is exactly what you are hearing excuses.

This time of year is the BEST time of year to eat healthier.  Even if you don’t grow your own garden — all the fresh fruits and vegetables are in season.  Also, in addition to your local farmers market (a big trend in all areas) — lots of communities now have community gardens (even in big cities).  We; however, do grow our own favorite vegetables and supplement others we want occasionally from the Market.

So now we have our veggies…let’s talk about what else we are eating.  Meat — we as Americans love meat.  The thing about meat is it is helpful to us in small portions (3 ounces or less).  We have gotten so used to huge portions, we don’t even know what three ounces is any more. Below is a good image of what 3 ounces looks like (photo credit to: community.ihealthlabs.com)

meat-portion-400x400

Also, at least in my part of the Country (the heartland) — meat has gotten very, very expensive.  So to counter-act the rising costs and in the hope of eating better; we have not only reduced the amount of meat we are eating we now try a couple of times a week to have a “meatless day”.  So for instance, last night we had some peppers and onions from the garden we needed to cook.  I took the peppers, onions, a can of mushrooms and sautéed in butter (yes real butter).  I added a bit of taco type seasoning.  We then ate this on the Aldi brand of Fit and Active flatbread, with a little grated cheese and a little low-fat sour cream.  This whole meal (including butter, cheese and flat bread) was about 264 calories and tasted delicious (wish I had taken some pictures).  My point is this meal was good, feeling and healthy…we had plenty to eat and it cost us less than $5 for the total meal.

This afternoon, I’m going to spend some time cleaning vegetables and putting them in nice containers so I have healthy choices at hand for my lunch and snacks all week.  I am also working on the quality of the foods we buy and as I have brilliant finds and ideas, will share more.

If you eat local, in-season and cut down your meat — this should not impact your budget too much.  You do need to trade some of those packaged foods for fruit and vegetables.  Look online for recipes — I have found lots of recipes I can through together in less than 20 minutes and have a much healthier, more delicious meal.

The next excuse is the dreaded “EXERCISE.” Believe me, I am not by nature an athletic person.  However, I know if I want to live a healthy life into my elder years I need to get healthier and more fit.  I also know from experience, the only way to get fit and feel better is to exercise (which has the added benefit of making you feel better).  Again, this time is a great time of year because you can get all the exercise you need without any gym equipment or much added expense.  You can walk.  Funny thing about walking, you can do it anywhere — big city, out in the country, small town — anywhere. You just to make time, not excuses.

I am fortunate, in the community I live there is a “rails to trails” trail-way.  It is close to our house and from where we start to the heart of our City it is a little over three miles.  We also are very lucky to have a great park systems with lots of paved trails, making walking easy.  When we first started the healthier journey, I was lucky to be able to do 1.5 miles.  However, over the last month we have greatly stepped up our game and this morning we pushed ourselves to the wall and did 6.1 miles.

Because it is the end of July, it is blazing hot and 99% humidity. So, to make sure we didn’t get to hot or dehydrated we started our walk around 8:00 in the morning.  Although it was hot when we finished, we did finish.  We also took water with us and stayed very hydrated.  There are also water fountains along the trail where you can refill your water if you need.

To track what I am eating and exercise, I am using My Fitness Pal.  It is free and very easy to use.  MFP has lots of tips, a huge database of foods and makes it easy.  You can either use it on a computer or on your phone.  Again this is FREE at http://www.myfitnesspal.com.  There are other similar sites, but this is my favorite.

So the point of all this — just get started, NO EXCUSES.

New Beginnings – 2015

This past year has been a very good year in many ways. Unfortunately, in other ways it has been a difficult year. What I have learned over the years is to count your blessings where you can.

In early 2014, I married the love of my life and we began our life together as one. This was one of the joyous things. Over the summer we purchased our first home together and have made it a warm inviting place for our families and friends.

The not so good side has been the loss of an expected grandchild, not once — but twice. I know there is a purpose in the Universe for this, but it is still a very hard thing not only for us, but for our children. I am hopeful 2015 will bring them the joy they are seeking.

As winter is really settling in here in the mid-west, I am looking forward to the New Year. I am looking forward to expanding beyond my comfort zone into new exciting areas. Happy, Happy New Year!!

Back from a Long Break

When I started this blog, my goals were to set up a blog and ultimately a website to show others how I am able to live a life well below my means, but still have the finer things in life. Well life got a bit in the way the last few months. My dear Husband and I purchased a new home over the summer and spent six very intense weeks updating the new house so we could move in to our new dwelling. Being us, we wanted to do it in the most cost effective manner we could. Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing with you what we did, where we saved money and what we are doing to continue to improve. Over the next few months, you will also see some additions to the site with regard to budgeting, homemade food, and healthy choices. I hope you enjoy the journey with us.

Pictures Optional

Well I learned this weekend, I’m a photographer fail.  We are having some spectacular weather this weekend, so we decided to drive up to Lake Michigan to shop and drive around a bit.  We stopped at a small beach and I took a couple of pictures.  So this morning, I thought to myself “those pictures would be great for a blog article.”  Nope, no, not at all….I must have been really distracted.  The reason we stopped was there was an ice cream shop on the beach called “Jake’s at the Beach”.  Well, I have a Jake — so of course I needed a picture.  There were three more pictures of the two of us — none of which I would put public anywhere.  The last picture was of the actual beach, but you really can’t see it.

Maybe it is time for me to take a class, or start scouring the world of the inner-webs to figure out how to take a good picture.

We did have a great time.  The temperature was in the mid-to-upper 70’s.  This is my personal favorite range.  We stopped at a couple of places along the way.  There was a new Amish grocery store right off the highway on our way up.  Next door, there was another young Amish couple who had a garden store.  We bought some broccoli plants and will plant them in our garden later today.

We went to the outlet mall, and shopped with all the Spring Breakers and their parents.  I was going to get the cutest sandals for summer, but unfortunately the store’s cash registers crashed while we were in line.  Oh well, it wasn’t meant to be.

We managed to stop at both of our favorite restaurants in that area.  Lunch at one and an adult beverage, chips and salsa at the other. My only complaint is because it is a bit early in spring, outdoor seating was not open yet.  Definitely next time.

The trip made us both decide, we are going to do this more often and next time no shopping, just the beach.  Maybe even try one of those Strawberry Shakes.

Image

Spring Has Sprung

The first day of Spring brings to mind many ways to save money and have lots of fun at the same time.  It is also the beginning of working in the yard and creating the garden.  One great way to save money is to plant your vegetables and flowers from seed.  At first this can seem overwhelming; however, it really is easy.  Because it is so cost effective, even if you do make a mistake your investment of actual dollars is not much.  One way to save money on the planting is to recycle old pots and think of creative uses for other materials.  Also, this time of year, you can find great sales at many of the home improvement stores.  You should also be able to find sales on seeds and soil.  This year, we are starting tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, herbs and flowers inside.  There are many other seeds you can sow directly in the earth.  As soon as we get a few warm days and the ground has thawed enough to run the tiller, we will be planting our early garden outside.  We plant onions, lettuce and radishes near the end of March or early April, depending on how much the ground has warmed.  This year has been particularly bitter cold in the mid-west and it looks like we are going to get a late start to Spring.  Last year was my first real year wanting to garden.  I found it is fun and has a great deal of satisfaction. Nothing tastes better than a tomato from your own garden.

%d bloggers like this: