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.


Friday, September 28, 2018

Counting our blessings

The hurricane that was headed straight for us took a detour. It literally circled around us, for the most part leaving us alone. Our state as a whole was not so lucky. It will be a long, long time before it recovers from this storm. We have friends and family who lost everything.

One of my best friends evacuated from her home with only what she could fit in her car. She packed it with her scrapbooks and important papers, leaving the rest behind.

It got me to thinking what I would pack if I had to leave in a hurry. DS's medical equipment would be first and that would fill the bulk of the space. I would want pictures and scrapbooks, too. Would I have time to grab them? The genealogy files I have amassed over the years. Truly, it made my head hurt to think about it too much.

The only thing we lost in the storm was the money we spent on two nights in a hotel before we were sure Florence wasn't going to make a direct hit on us. It was money well spent.


Monday, September 10, 2018

Preparing for the storm

We are smack dab in the middle of the path of Hurricane Florence - and we don't even live on the coast.

I was up at dawn this morning getting gas in the van and picking up a few needed items at the grocery store. After listening to the forecast for much of the day, I decided it was time to really get ready. In 1996, Hurricane Fran unexpectedly hit us. We were without power for nearly two weeks.

This storm is expected to be worse.

We have already had a lot of rain in the past month, so the ground is soggy. We are being told to expect 10-20 inches of rain by the weekend. That kind of rain will bring downed trees and power lines - at the least.

About 4:00, I decided to book a hotel room beginning Friday. DS cannot be without power for an extended time. He relies on nighttime ventilation, a chair that has to be charged and several other pieces of equipment. So I went online to see what the options were. I was almost too late. Nearly every hotel in the area is already booked solid, likely by my neighbors doing the same thing I am. I finally managed to snag a room for a week - not knowing how long I will or will not need it. I realize now that I should have booked Thursday night, but by the time I figured that out, there were no availabilities.

I'm taking a risk. Cancellation has to be done two days in advance, which is too early to know whether we'll really need it. All in all, it will be an enormous hit to the budget, but one that can't be helped.

I'm also supposed to host my niece's bridesmaid brunch on Saturday. Those plans are up in the air for now.

I'm just praying the forecast is wrong and Flo decides to simply head out to sea.