Monday, September 15, 2014

The Best Is Yet To Come

I am now 40 years old. In my spirit, I am 24 or sometimes 14 or even younger if I hear a song that takes me back to that place in time.

We live in a youth obsessed culture. Many claim their youth was/is the best time of their lives. However, it wasn't for me. 

I was an extreme worrier. I worried about what people would say or think about me. I was very shy. I was critical and unforgiving - especially of myself. I was insecure about a lot of things - especially my appearance. My life was a big old tangled web of negativity.

As I've grown older, I've changed. I am not who I once was.

Now, I could care less about what other's think of me. I can strike up a conversation with a stranger in the supermarket, offer a compliment, or sing along to the background music. 

I am now much more forgiving and less critical of myself and others. People do the best they can, where they are. However, I am not condoning abuse of any kind. If you're in that situation, I would advise you to get out immediately. Life is too short to be miserable and abused--verbally, emotionally, or physically! There is no room in my life for toxic people.

I have a more ample figure these days, but I am more accepting of myself and my body. I am not going to punish myself through a strict diet or fitness regimen. I am taking a gentler approach - smaller portions, more fruits and veggies, and gentle exercise. I'm more concerned with being healthy than being a size 2.

I am a woman who knows what I want and enjoys the simpler things in life. Give me time to read, write and music. Take me to the beach. Spend time in nature. Glorious weekend naps with my love and I'm a happy girl.

These days I'm pretty darn happy with life. I have a feeling Mama is right, like she always is. 

The best is yet to come. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Choosing to Bloom

We can make ourselves quite miserable wishing for things we don't currently have. What good does that do? Absolutely nothing. It's better to work with what you do have and make the best of things.

Today I choose to bloom.

I am choosing to work to help us become debt-free faster while building savings. In the meantime, I am going to work on rearranging my life to help me achieve my personal goals. I am in serious need of work/life balance. 

I am thinking I need to go to bed earlier and awaken very early so I can have time to write uninterrupted, stretch and strengthen my body while enjoying the solitude and eat a healthy breakfast. 

Evenings are dinner prep and cleanup, making sure work clothes are clean, and resting/relaxing with my family. 

I now have weekends off again (hallelujah!), so if I can get housework out of the way Friday night or early Saturday morning, the rest of the weekend can be spent doing enjoyable activities.

I'm still trying to figure it all out but it's a start.

Working women (outside employment - because goodness knows we all work!), how do you balance work/home/personal activities? I want to hear from you!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Nitty Gritty

For now, I'm staying put at my job because it pays decent and it's easy work. I have some big financial goals and every little bit counts. 

In April, I had emergency gallbladder surgery. We have no insurance so I was stuck with $22,000 in medical bills, which brought our debt total to a whopping $173,100.68. 

Our home is included in this amount. I know many say not to include it, but we do not own it free and clear, therefore in my eyes it is still debt.

Six and a half months later, our debt total is down to $160,598.17. I have a poster where I post our dropping debt total each month as an encouragement and to remind us of our goal of financial freedom. 

I write out a budget each month showing us what has to be paid each week, which I check off as the bills are paid.

I have two financial goals that I want to reach ASAP-- $1,000 minimum in savings and to buy health insurance. 

Since Alfred is military we qualify for Tricare Reserve Select. You have to pay for the first two months' premiums up front, but then it's $204.29/month....much cheaper than civilian plans! I plan to do this by the end of October. We already have dental and vision insurance through his work for very reasonable rates.

I know many people are Dave Ramsey fans, but I prefer Mary Hunt's method of debt repayment. $2,075 of our monthly income goes directly to debt, with a $300 booster added for faster repayment. 

Now, according to my RDRP (rapid debt repayment plan) we will be completely debt free by April 2022 or seven years and seven months. That's including the house (which would be paid off by August 2021 or six years and eleven months). 

My original goal was to have the house paid off by the time Alfred turns fifty and it looks very possible, as he will turn fifty in April 2022. What a blessing and a relief that would be for him (and me!!), knowing we own our home free and clear!

Here's the run down of where we stand currently and when we hope to pay them off: 

CC#1: $3,363.78 --------------> May 2015
CC#2: $1419.19 ---------------> Oct 2015
Loan: $4,320.03 ---------------> Dec 2015
Car: $16,097.92 ---------------> Nov 2016
Surgeon: $1,270.00 -----------> Dec 2016
Old debt: $11,681.25 ---------> June 2017
Alfred's bike: $13,024.12 ----> Nov 2017
Anesthesia: $960.00 ----------> Nov 2017
Home: $87,286.89 ------------> Aug 2021
Hospital: $19,775.00 ---------> Apr 2022
ER: $1,200.00 -----------------> Apr 2022

So there it is in black and white, folks. Every so often, I will post an update on our progress. I am not proud of the amount of debt we have but by golly I don't intend to keep it any longer than I have to!

Working the plan,

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Wanted: To Live Life on My Own Terms

Though my job is easy enough, I find myself dreaming of the day I can return home. Outside employment is not for me.

I do not like office politics, nor being told what to do. I don't care for customers with attitude. My pleasantness quickly fades. I'm really not a people-person!

But what really gets me is that I don't have enough time to do the things I enjoy, nor keep my house and yard the way I want it. It seems like all I do is work and come home to more work. It's hard to muster up energy beyond doing dinner, dishes and laundry. 

I want to write. I want to read good books. I want to cook and bake. I want to have the energy to clean my house and work in my yard. I want to be home when Alfred is home and do things with my girls. I want to rest when I'm tired and not be tied to a set schedule. I want time to visit my Mama and siblings.

I want to live life on my own terms. 

Monday, September 08, 2014

Menu Plan for Two Weeks

For two weeks now I have planned out menu for the week. We are trying to eat a little healthier since a recent checkup showed Alfred had high blood pressure and his triglycerides were very high. 

Already we are seeing an improvement in his blood pressure as I am incorporating more vegetables into our dinners and less carbs. 

Week One:
- frozen tilapia fillets, salad
- steak, salad, baked beans
- pork loin, green beans, spinach
- baked chicken, collard green, field peas
- baked pork chops, rice-a-roni, corn
- pizza

Week Two:
- conecuh sausage, fried potatoes, lima beans
- turkey bacon, eggs, biscuits
- frozen tilapia fillets, rice-a-roni, field peas
- hamburger patties with rice and gravy, green beans
- fish sticks, mac & cheese, veggie
- pizza

Still a work in progress, but an improvement. I try to include a couple of easy meals each week because I need a break, working full time and all.

As the weather cools down, I'll be incorporating pots of soups and beans. Economical and hearty, hopefully feeding us for more than a day. We shall see....

Note: I've had a few readers email me  to say they haven't been able to comment. I've hopefully resolved that issue. If you find you cannot comment via blogger, please contact me. I want to hear from you!

Friday, September 05, 2014

Frugal Doings

My husband has changed jobs and is often on the road, so I am now packing his lunch each day. Saving us at least $25/week.

Instead of buying soft drinks at work for $0.65 each twice a day I have started buying a 12 pk of drinks for $3.99 or less if it's on sale. Saving us at least $2.51/week.

For the first time in quite a while, I planned a weekly menu before going shopping.

I've made all our dinners this week. No fast food or eating out.

We tinted the windows in our living room and master bedroom to try to keep the house cooler in summer.

It's a rather short list this week, but I'm getting back into my groove. Working full time is kicking my butt! However, I am determined to reign in the food spending and reduce expenses overall.

I am interested to hear from other full-time workers. How do you save money?

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

On Growing Older

In eleven short days, I will be turning 40. I was feeling a little down at the prospect of being considered old, even though I don't feel old. So I can't stay up late anymore but I'm totally okay with that!

Women are bombarded by the media with messages that you have to be a size 2, with a mask of makeup and dressed to the nines to be considered beautiful, hip, and young.

Fancy creams promise to eliminate cellulite and wrinkles. There is hair color to cover gray hair. Spanx to hold you in and make you look skinnier. Plastic surgery and face lifts for turning back the hands of time.

While there is nothing wrong with trying to look your best, it just seem people are going to the extremes to look young. What is wrong with accepting yourself for who you are and how far you've come?

It is far better to live your life to the fullest and do what makes you happy than to worry about such vanity.

What are your thoughts on growing older? Please share in the comments.