Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Creeping toward the end

Our ticker is below $40,000!! When I look where we started, even I am blown away that we are successfully beating down the monster. Back in the beginning, when I was forced to call creditors and negotiate payment plans, more than one of them strongly suggested we declare bankruptcy and move on. We don't fault those who choose bankruptcy, but it didn't feel right for us and so we decided to give this game a go. I sure will be glad when we have officially won it!

Things have been tight lately. We have lost a significant amount of income this year (about $20,000 annually) for various reasons and while we have a healthy salary, we also still have unhealthy debt payments. So it's been slower going than I'd like, but we are powering through.

Our older son is getting married in July, so we have been putting away extra funds for the rehearsal dinner. I will be wearing the dress I wore for our daughter's wedding 6 years ago. It was only worn once and still looks lovely, so I'm happy I can squeeze into it. My future DIL's shower is next month and I have been working hard on her gift. I am making a recipe book filled with her groom's favorites.  If she hasn't already, she will soon find out that food is the way to that boy's heart.

I am more focused on an upcoming trip with DS2. We will be traveling to a medical conference for his disease and because it is on the other side of the country, will have to fly. We have never flown with the wheelchair and I am a nervous wreck. I spent hours researching nonstop flights and which planes were being used as we need one with a large enough cargo door to get the wheelchair through upright. I finally settled on the best option, bought the tickets and, two weeks later, was notified that the nonstop had been canceled and they had put us on a flight with a connection. My worst fear. (OK, not my worst, but it's up there.) I've spent gobs of time talking with the special assistance department and we are just going to have to pray the chair makes it through the transfers and to the final destination in one piece and working. I made a point of telling the airline that the chair cost $46,000 and I'd hate for them to have to replace it. Whatever it takes ...

Spring seems to have finally sprung here and I couldn't be happier. I heard a rumor that it will be May next week. I haven't had time to confirm.

Cheers to all,


Sunday, March 3, 2019

Too much bread ...

Hubby went to the grocery store last week. That's a scary thing, by the way. He was picking up sandwich stuff for his lunch for the week. He came home proudly telling me he had gotten fresh made sourdough bread from the store bakery and it was buy one, get one, so of course he got two loaves. I didn't pay much attention to what he had as I was tired and ready for bed, but the next morning I took one look and knew this was not good. Each loaf was HUGE - the BOGO deals at that store are typically for a small half loaf. Add to that the fact that it was not sourdough bread, just an artisan bread. I held my breath and looked for the receipt. And there it was. Two loaves. Each $5.99. No BOGO deal. He paid TWELVE DOLLARS for bread!!! While I personally think I would win in divorce court over this, I was calm when I pointed out what he had done. I also noted that when you get a BOGO deal, each item rings up half price so you don't have to buy two. And, I asked, how in the world are you going to eat that much bread in a week??

Let me tell you, he was eating that bread at a furious pace. He didn't dare leave one crumb. And I get extra points for not mentioning it again.

Meanwhile, I got a bill from a January visit to the ophthalmologist. The bill was for $149, which I thought could be correct as we hadn't met our deductible yet. I put it on my desk and the next day received my insurance statement, which said I owed $61 for the visit. I had already paid my $20 copay so by that logic, I would only owe $41. I called the doctor's office and spoke to the billing person who promised to look it up and get back to me. She called back 30 minutes later and said I was correct. I owe $41. She actually admitted that she had entered something incorrectly. But had I not questioned it, neither would she have. Just a reminder to check every single bill.

This is an expensive month. License renewals, taxes and inspections for two cars. AAA and Costco membership renewals. And $189 to the mortgage company for an escrow shortage. Thankfully no one has a birthday this month.

I get a break from keeping my granddaughter this week as my son-in-law is on Spring Break. It comes at a good time. I need a few days away from the 2-year-old emotions :) I am going to do a deep clean on the house. I actually started today and got through 2 rooms. Amazing how much accumulates in corners and underneath stored items.

Hope everyone has a great week!


Saturday, February 9, 2019

A good week

Yesterday was our 33rd anniversary. That still shocks me to write. Sometimes it seems like our wedding was yesterday - other times it seems like another lifetime. We went out to dinner to celebrate and spent a great deal of time talking about how blessed we are to have each other and how fortunate we have been with our children, who have all become functioning adults who still enjoy spending time with us. We know that could just as easily have not been the case. Doesn't matter how good the parents are, the kids have free will to turn out the way they choose. I guess we drew the long straw in that category.

In other big news, DS2, who has been receiving the first-ever treatment for his disease for a little over a year now, came home from water therapy to say he was able to sit on the bench (in the pool), unassisted for 5 minutes. As he is 25 and has not sat unassisted since he was 7 or 8 years old, you can imagine my reaction. I'm tearing up just typing this.

It was in the 70s here this week (that wonderful aberration is over - it's 30 something now) and we were able to get to the park with our granddaughter every day. DH was on vacation so it was nice to have another set of eyes to watch the little tornado race across the park.

Our taxes are done and they are not as bad as I feared. We will get a $144 refund from the state and will write a check to the feds for $378 - so a net loss of $234. Knowing where we stand, I have made sure we will at least break even next year. I don't like writing that check no matter how small.

Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, January 23, 2019

New year, new outlook

Last year was a slow year in knocking down the debt. It still went down, but not by as much as in previous years. Life definitely got in the way. We also saw our income drop due to husband's job, which was good for his health but not for our bank account. I'm taking solace in the fact that since starting this blog way back when, we have stayed the course and knocked more than $125,000 off our debt. (I do NOT want to know how much interest we paid in addition to that...).

For the first time in as long as I can remember, we are going to owe taxes. The changes in the tax laws just didn't work in our favor this time. I don't think it will be all that much, but I will have to write a check in April. I have since adjusted DH's W-4 to 0 exemptions which should take care of it for next year.

Despite our debt, we have in the past few years been ratcheting up the retirement savings. DH plans to retire in 7 years, which will be about the time that it becomes necessary. He works a very physical job and although he is still in excellent health, I can see it beginning to wear on him. We are currently putting 12% in the 401k, with plans to up that again soon. In 2-3 years, we will have finally eradicated most of the consumer debt we have and can concentrate on the remaining mortgage and building some cash reserves. DH will have a nice pension, which is key to our retirement plan.

Sharon over at Midlife Balanced Money wrote a good post about her retirement planning. She makes some good points that I'm filing away. All of you youngsters, pay attention. Thirty years go by in a flash! Save now!

Life is good and the future actually looks bright.

Happy belated New Year to all!


Friday, December 28, 2018

Winding down the year

December has been the usual craziness around here. DH and DS1 are UPS drivers. Enough said. This year's volume was noticeably higher - maybe the demise of Toys R Us forced toy shoppers online? They worked 60-hour, 6-day weeks from Thanksgiving until Christmas.

Somewhere amid flinging packages, DS1 managed to propose to his girlfriend, so we have a wedding coming up in 2019 ... I think I will relish being the mom of the groom this go around :)

I took my granddaughter to see Santa at the mall. She is not a fan.

DS2 kept up his tradition of holiday kidney stones. Always a good time.

We celebrated our Christmas on the 23rd so the kids could be with in-laws on Christmas Day. It was great fun and included serious belly laughs during the Saran Wrap ball game - which all have proclaimed a new tradition. I got some gift cards that will come in handy in the new year and a set of stemless wine glasses, which will also come in handy. DH collected a pile of gift cards as tips from customers, so he's good for awhile.

Our sweet granddaughter turned 2 on Christmas Eve. The big family party is tomorrow. She will be overwhelmed, but DD insists.

Christmas Day we had my parents over for a mid-afternoon lunch. It was a peaceful, stress-free day.

I am enjoying my 2-week break from keeping my granddaughter (and hoping the potty training is complete by the time she returns). I've read books, watched some Netflix series and done some cleaning and organizing. Maybe I will be ready for 2019 ...

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all. Thanks for sticking with me.


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Happy, happy Turkey Day!

I do not have my granddaughter this morning, so I have oodles of free time to get ready for tomorrow. I have sweet potatoes (which were free from a friend's garden!) in the oven. I will turn them into a casserole. I have several other dishes to put together which shouldn't take too much time.

I am not hosting dinner this year, so I am not in charge of the big bird. HOWEVER, I was at Food Lion this week picking up a few things and saw that if you spend $35 you can buy a frozen turkey for 27 cents a pound. I also had a $1 coupon for turkey in my bag. I walked out with a 14-pound turkey for $2.78. SCORE!!! I tossed it in the freezer for future use.

This is turning out to be the best, low-stress Thanksgiving I've had in forever. I usually end up having a huge crowd here. And while everyone brings dishes, the house has to be cleaned, table set and all that jazz. It's such a nice reprieve to just do my baking and show up somewhere else. All my children will be there, which doesn't always happen, so I'm a happy mama.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


Friday, October 12, 2018

Here we go again ...

I am officially tired of hurricane season. We prepared and prepared for Florence and then our area was mercifully spared. We didn't even pay attention to Michael and he came through yesterday with a vengeance. Thankfully, once again my family was spared.

Trees are down everywhere and power is out all over town. Last night, my neighbor who lives about 100 yards from my house, but on a different street, called. "You have power!" she said. Um, yes? Hers was out, as was every house on her street. This is strange because for the 23 years we have lived here, the power on both our streets has gone on and off together. We've always presumed we were on the same grid.

While mulling this over, my next-door neighbor, a sweet elderly woman, stopped to chat. She happened to mention that a woman down the street, whose husband is basically on life support at home, had called the power company this summer and asked that their house be put on the grid with the nearby rescue squad so her husband's machines would still run. Now I'm thinking that it was just easier for the company to put our street of a dozen houses on that grid rather than just hers.

The idea of power being restored almost immediately every time has me practically giddy. But I'm also fighting feelings of guilt because my house is lit up like a Christmas tree while my nearby neighbors are likely to be in the dark for the next week. But, I admit, giddy is trumping guilty at the moment :)

Things are really not good down here in the South. The victims of Florence are still digging out and now Michael victims are being added. Those towns hit hardest sure do need our prayers.