Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Money Saving Goals for 2015





Sandy at Grandma's Frugal Days shared her money savings goals and asked her readers to do the same. So here are mine:

~ Add $2,000 to savings ($166/month)

~ Pay off CC#2 with a balance of $5,271.41
   Anesthesia bill                               $920.00
   ER bill                                         $1,145.00
   Total ------------------------------->$7,336.41

~ Keep grocery budget at $500/month or less for the four of us, including pet foods and non-food items. This also includes any entertaining that we will do.

~ I am aiming to have a zero dollar Christmas in 2015 by using Swagbucks, SavingStar, and cashback on CC#1 (which will be paid off by the end of this month...WooHoo!)

~ To lower utility bills (electric and water) by 10%

~ To have four no-drive days per week in order to save on gas and car maintenance.

~ We are selling Alfred's motorcycle (to clear that debt) and his tool box to (to replace living room floor with tile).

~ Pack Alfred's lunch 4 days out of 5 each week.

~ We have budgeted $100 to spend on birthday gifts for our children.

~ I will strive to carefully budget our finances each month and monitor spending, as well as look for additional ways to save money and reduce outgoing expenses. 

Do you have any money goals for 2015 that you would like to share?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Keeping the Christmas Spirit All Year





Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I love the generosity of spirit, the joviality, and the magic of Christmas. I began wishing every day could be this way. And it can be, but it starts with me.

Am I generous? 
Am I jovial?
Do I notice and appreciate the magic of ordinary days?

As I mentioned the other day, I am already beginning to prepare for Christmas 2015, but I thought it would be fun to create a Christmas club where we spend the 25th of each month preparing for the holiday season, do a little each month so it's not overwhelming.

Some ideas I will be doing:
- Add $25 to Christmas Club account
- Read a Christmas Novella on my Kindle (They are very inexpensive!)
- Work on any homemade gifts I intend to give
- Listen to Christmas music
- Watch a Christmas movie
- Eat a candy cane
- Light a candle with a holiday scent
- Purchase an item to go in a shoe box for Operation Christmas Child or Salvation Army's Angel Tree

Won't you join me? Please share any activities you'll be doing on the 25th of each month below in the comments!


Monday, December 15, 2014

Countdown to Christmas





Though I am still waiting on two gifts to come in, all others have been wrapped. No late night gift wrapping on Christmas Eve this year! 

I signed up for the 30 day trial for Amazon Prime earlier this month. I will cancel it the day after Christmas to avoid being charged any fees. I was able to get free two day shipping on all orders by doing this which saved me money.

On the 20th we are getting together with Alfred's three sisters to visit and exchange gifts. We are doing snacky foods rather than a big meal. I will bring Buffalo Chicken Dip

I want to do some Christmas baking in the days leading up to Christmas.

Alfred will have both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off with holiday pay. Christmas Eve we will sit around watching Christmas movies while enjoying hot cocoa. Dinner will be appetizers and then we'll go drive around town looking at Christmas lights.

Christmas Day we are going to Mama's around 4pm to eat and exchange gifts with my side of the family. We drew names this year and had a $50 limit. Still need to get with Mama to see what she wants me to bring food wise.

Will you believe I am already planning for next year?

Oh yes! I don't want to be caught unprepared, nor do I want the stress of waiting until the last minute to buy gifts and celebrate.

Each week I deposit money into my Christmas Club account in addition to the $10 auto debit.

Since I am home full time, I have time to do Swagbucks. I have earned $10 in free gift cards and am well on my way to a third $5 card in the next day or so. I use those to shop on Amazon.com. If you would like to sign up for Swagbucks, please consider using me as a referral....www.swagbucks.com/refer/SeaStar1.


Are you ready for Christmas? Have you begun to make plans for Christmas 2015?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Marriage Thoughts






In the last few years, so many people we know have gone through or are currently going through a divorce and it always makes me sad. 

For many years we had a rocky marriage, but we weathered the storms and are going strong at 22+ years. Why have we made it so far when others did not?

We don't take ourselves too seriously. We cut up and act silly with each other. I laugh at his jokes and he puts up with my making up songs out of phrases. Hey, we each have our quirks...

We realize there will be bad days. But a bad day doesn't mean we have a bad life. It's temporary and it'll pass. When Alfred's having a bad day, I try to just let him vent about it and reaffirm to him that I support him and that tomorrow is a new day. He does the same for me.

We enjoy being together. Whether we are out and about running errands or visiting friends and family or just at home. We enjoy togetherness. That's one of the perks of being married.

We don't expect to agree on everything. We occasionally exchange a few snippy words (just being honest here) and it's usually when one of us is tired, hungry or feeling out of sorts. We forgive and move on.

We apologize when we are in the wrong. If Alfred has hurt my feelings, he has no problem apologizing. Neither do I. More often than not I misinterpreted something he said or it was the tone of voice used. 

We are a team. We are committed to each other and making our marriage work. Neither of us has any desire to start over. We've come to far and have overcome so much. We've got a good thing going these days!

We are loving. When out in public, I hold onto his arm while we are walking together. We massage each other's sore/achy muscles. There's not a day that goes by when we don't say "I love you" with numerous hugs and kisses. Touch is a powerful thing.

We are not perfect by any means. There is an ebb and flow in any marriage. It's not always going to be fireworks, but the fireworks are still there. 

Focus on what drew you to each other in the beginning. Focus on the good things he does. Treat him the way you want to be treated and give him a break. He is not a mind reader. 

Give without expecting anything in return. Support and encourage each other. Accept and admire him. It's not your job to change him. You are not his Mama. Just love that man. 

Marriage is not always easy. It takes work and commitment, but it's worth it.

“Falling in love is easy. But staying in love is very special.”
~ Unknown



Friday, December 12, 2014

Let It Go






We all get hurt in life, but I decided long ago I did not want to turn into a bitter old woman who never had anything good to say. I don't want to be a complainer or be around negativity.

It takes just as much energy to be miserable as it does to be happy, so why not choose happiness? 

Train yourself to think positive thoughts and to look for the good every day. There is always something to be thankful for and there is always someone who has it worse than you do.

Treat others the way you want to be treated. Some people will hurt you, but you've got to forgive and move on. Don't let bitterness take over your heart! It's not worth it.

I'm not saying you have to let people mistreat you. Um...my Mama didn't raise me that way! I don't believe most people set out to intentionally hurt others, but it happens. We're human. We make mistakes. 

Don't hold onto those hurts or grudges because it's only hurting and making you miserable. The other person hasn't got a clue! Forgive and then it's all on them.

Life is just too darn short to waste on bitterness, hate, and negativity. Today, take a deep breath and let it all go.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Christmas Memories





When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things give off the greatest glow of happiness. 
- Bob Hope



Growing up, Christmas was my favorite time of year because it was magical. There were just so many things to look forward to in the month of December.

I loved decorating the tree, especially doing the tinsel. Mama would divide the package into thirds for me and my two sisters at the time and I'd carefully take one strand at a time to hang on the tree.

We played our Disney Family Christmas album ( from 1981). I still love those songs even now! I have found of few of the original songs on Spotify and my girls enjoy them, too.

We watched ALL of the Christmas cartoons with Mama. My favorites were Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas from 1977, Nester the Long Eared Christmas Donkey, also from 1977, and The Year Without A Santa Claus from 1974. I still watch them every year.

Mama always baked Christmas goodies. She is famous (in the family, at least) for her Oatmeal, Raisin & Chocolate Chip cookies. She uses the golden raisins which are softer and better, in my opinion. 

In those days, Mama was a homemaker but she had various little cottage industries. She crocheted things for the Christmas bizarre at school. One year she made her own version of cabbage patch dolls that were very popular at the time. She also bred and sold Basset Hound puppies.

How I looked forward to getting the Sears Christmas catalog and pouring over the pages! 

I loved all the family visits. Mama would let us kids visit for a little bit and then we were sent out to play so the grown ups could talk. 

One Christmas Eve, Mama sent us to bed early so Santa could come. It was probably around 8pm. Oh, the excitement!! But we went to bed like good little girls do. I later woke up and I could see the kitchen light on and could hear Mama and my grandmother talking. So I turned my light on and sat on my bed waiting patiently for her to come get us kids. Mama soon realized I was awake and told me to go back to bed because it was still Christmas Eve!

One year she did some of her Christmas shopping with us kids in tow and we never had a clue! That woman had mad skills!! 

Christmas was magical because Mama made it so. It wasn't about the gifts. It was about us being together, being loved and loving in return, and family traditions. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Keeping Busy at Home



I've been keeping myself busy at home this week while Alfred is away for work by tackling some of the areas in our home that needed extra attention.

I can tell you this ....washing clothes by hand is doable but not easy! With Rheumatoid Arthritis I don't have enough strength in my hands to wring the water out good enough. So I have 3 choices: go to the laundromat, go to a family member's house to do laundry, or wait until Alfred gets back and fixes the washer.

I decluttered the pantry and now it looks so bare! It had become a catch-all for things that didn't go anywhere else, mainly tools and such. So that's stuff going out!  Now I have more room for food!! 

I want to be like Debra who has her little mini-mart at home and Brandy who's family lived off her stockpile for 2 years when the real estate bubble when bust in Nevada (her husband works in real estate). 

When I'm not cleaning or blogging, I've been on Pinterest. Oh my! The things I have found on there! Like crafting with cereal boxes and other crafty projects using recycled things in your home. And of course, looking for inspiration to save money and reduce expenses! I have 163 pinned items on my Money board.

These days I'm all about being happy and content at home while learning new skills that will allow me to stay home permanently. 

What are you doing these days?