Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Transfer Tuesday and Paying Down Debt 12/31/2019



It's time to move some money around and reduce our debt.  There are a few things going on that will require cash.  The hubs is preforming a semi-major truck repair in the form of a water pump replacement. The cost of those parts is currently at $825.00 and it may be a bit more before it is all over.

We do put aside money for truck/car repairs in a  recently implemented cash envelope system, but there is not nearly enough to cover this repair.  The bill will be covered by eBay earnings that were originally earmarked for the HELOC repayment.

We have also made a few improvements on my she-shed (eBay storage) with the installation of a new light fixture an updated electrical.  This came to about $100 and will be covered by eBay earnings. 


Old principal (Heloc) balance $84,107.03

  • $13.52 Credit Card Rewards
  • $1000.00 from eBay PayPal account 

New principal (Heloc) balance $83,093.51

I set a 2020 goal of reducing the Heloc balance by $20,000.   Theoretically, I will be counting on eBay to help a great deal with the debt reduction by applying at least $1000 a month from eBay earnings. That leaves approximately $667 a month to earn/find/reduce other spending and apply that to the Heloc balance as well. 


Monday, December 30, 2019

Goals for 2020



1.   Work on reducing the HELOC balance.  The amount is considerable ($84,107.73) but I am dedicated to whittling it down by $20,000 in 2020.  Okay, I realize that $20,000 is a HUGE goal, and I hesitated at this amount.   I had to convince myself not to lower it because I did not want to set my self up for failure.  But, the only failure is not trying.  Any amount put towards lowering the balance will be a success. So there you go!

2.  Increase Emergency Savings from $1000.00 to $3000.00.  Right now our emergency fund carries about $1200.00, but by the end of the year, we would like to increase that to $3000.00 for a little more peace of mind.

3.  Getting healthy. Time to focus on getting rid of some extra weight and change our eating habits.  This is a goal that we have every year, and every year we fail.  My stumbling block is I am an emotional eater and consume food when I am happy or when I am sad.

4.  Building online income.  I sell on eBay and (will be expanding to Etsy) and it is consistently inconsistent. But I will continue to work at adding listings, tweaking what is already listed, and promote on Pinterest and Twitter. The earnings will go towards paying down the HELOC.

5.  Christmas 2020  Set a Christmas spending budget which I currently estimate to be at $1000.  This includes spouse, grown kids, grandkids, Christmas tips for my hairdresser, pool guy, mail person, and our pastors.  Maybe If I set an amount NOW, it won't be such a shock in December.

I will finish ALL holiday shopping by Thanksgiving!! No more of this last-minute stuff. My mom ALWAYS finished her shopping by Thanksgiving and I use to do the same.  I really need to do it again, to enjoy the holidays without the stress of  Christmas shopping.


6.  Have more fun!  Life is short and I know that saving money, budgeting, and being frugal is important.  But....   having fun and enjoying life is just as important!   Living in Central Florida provides many opportunities to visit theme parks and be a kid again.  An annual Disney Pass is one of my sinking funds/categories. I love to go and visit the theme parks with my grandkids or even by myself.  They make me happy.

7.  Plan a Trip  To Wisconsin.  It is family reunion time!  I am hoping my anxiety won't get in the way of travel this year.  We will have to put away a couple of thousand for this trip for travel and lodging.  I really want to go, but the anxiety of planning gets to me.  I know once I get there it will be fine.  But, I have to get there first.

8.  Roth IRA..... hello....  you remember me, don't you?  My retirement planning has become more important than ever.  I will research ways to better invest with my ROTH and shop and interview financial planners. We have one now, but I need to make sure he is the best person for me and my retirement goals.

9.  Read 10 books.  I miss reading books.  With everything online, I spend too much time reading and catching up online.  I could not tell you when the last time I actually held a book in my hands and read for enjoyment.  It has been a while, that's for sure.

10.  Compile a folder/notebook for our estate planning.   I need to put all of our "financial things and paperwork" in one place for safekeeping.  A notebook with all current accounts and final wishes and arrangements will make things easier for the family members who have to take care of it.

There is nothing suggesting that the end is near, but I need to get all this in one place for peace of mind for us and our family.

So there it is a list of goals for 2020.  For me, it will be motivation to stay the course for self-improvement and paying down debt.  I have put up yearly goals in years past, sometimes they motivate me and sometimes they are so overwhelming that I will self sabotage my own success.
Self, let's stay on the side of success and not self-sabotage this year. 






Sunday, December 29, 2019

Endless Rainy Days, Christmas Cactus, and Acid Reflux

Red and Pink Christmas Cactus

On the bright side, my Christmas Cactus is blooming.  This particular plant displays two colors, bright pink and a deep red.  I love the red and when they are done blooming, I will be propagating more of the red Christmas cactus for next year. 

Luckily, Christmas Cactus are extremely hardy and I can't kill them.  This year they have thrived as I have made it a point to keep them watered and fertilized.  Last year, not so much.  The neglect only produced a handful of blooms. 



It has been raining on and off for the last 4 days here and we all are about to go stir crazy!  The rain
Tree limb down next door
has soaked the trees, limbs are down in our neighbor's yard and so far we are lucky in that respect. 

My husband has been gathering parts for the repair/replacement of the water pump on his 2014 Ford F-150 and let me tell you, they are not cheap at all. Right now the total is up to $900!  Good Grief!  We are blessed that he has the skills to do the job as the labor at the dealership would be astronomical. 

Since he has to remove a good deal of engine thingys to get to the water pump, he is going to replace all that needs to be replaced including serpentine belts, hoses, and whatever else needs to be replaced for a 100 thousand tune-up.  Right now the truck is at 70,000 miles.  After this major repair, the truck will be good for another 100 thousand miles.


The truck repair is going to impact debt repayment, but I am glad to have eBay earnings still squirreled away. At least we will avoid MORE debt this time around.  
I still have to take my vehicle to the dealership for an oil change, tire rotation, and a brake check.  My vehicle is still under warranty so we utilize the dealership for service as we don't want to void the warranty.  

On the bright side of this weather, we are all getting our rest, the days are full of naps and movie watching. I have also been busy with listing on eBay and packing up sales too. I have avoided going to the stores for anything.  Instead, I send my husband with a list.  This way, the spending is kept under control.  Truth be told, I have enough stuff/groceries to get us through the New Year.  If we need a loaf of bread, I will send someone

to get it.  

Last night or early this morning I woke up with a case of reflux.  That burning stomach acid crawling back up into my throat, it is an awful feeling.  Thankfully, it does not happen often, but when it does I will drink pickle juice to cool the burn.  It works!!

In about 10-15 minutes after drinking the pickle juice, the burn is gone and I can go back to bed.  Look, on the left of this pickle jar you can see another jar of mostly pickle juice tucked away just in case it happens again.  

To prevent another occurrence of acid reflux, I must remember to not eat so late and to not eat while sitting in a reclined position.  It is a recipe for disaster, for sure. 

I sure hope the rains stops today so we can get stuff done outside. We are all going a bit stir crazy here!


  Hows the weather where you are?




Friday, December 27, 2019

Celebrating 41 Years

  Yesterday was our 41st wedding anniversary and we celebrated by spending the day in a nearby historic city eating and taking in the sights.  The drive was about 40 minutes from the house, road construction turned it into an hour drive.


The weather cooperated, overcast and not too hot.  It was a
fun and relaxing day.

Today its time to start putting up Christmas stuff and getting the house back in order after the holidays. 



The Breezeway Bar and Restaurant 

Lunch was Fish and Chips 

We were able to eat outside and people watch. 

We checked out a local book store 

Books!

This chair looked comfy, but I didn't try it out.  Thought it would tumble backwards lol

Second floor of music

James Dean in the corner

Bubble gum machine with brain candy



Ice Cream for Desert!


Salted Carmel, it was delish!

I love old buildings

Fish art

We make a quick stop at a Goodwill downtown.

It was a small store, but I found a few items to flip.







Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Merry Christmas!


Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas filled with love and happiness.



Transfer Tuesday




It's transfer Tuesday and it's time to pay down the HELOC.  Last week I moved credit card rewards to the HELOC balance, it wasn't a lot but it all counts.  I also sent $100 from my eBay earnings to reduce the balance a little bit.  After the first of the year, I will move over a bigger chunk, but for now, a $100 is okay. 

In the mail this past week, I received a check from my former employer.  It was a bonus for all school employees that were employed last year for our school.  We collectively brought up the school grade from a "C" school to a "B" school.  It certainly was nice to get that check!

The check was for $546.02, I sent $346.02 to the HELOC and $200 to our savings account.  Pretty sure we will have to buy a new water pump for my husband's truck, so we need to have that money to cover that expense.


  • $8.66 Credit Card Rewards 
  • $100 Transfer from eBay
  • $346.02 Bonus from last school year (a pleasant surprise)
New principal balance $84,107.03



Sunday, December 22, 2019

I Am A Procrastinator

True story, I still need to get a few more gift cards for family members.  Both Walmart and Target parking lots were jam-packed, I just kept on going and did not stop.  That only means that EARLY tomorrow morning I will be making a few quick stops to finish up the gift shopping.

Getting up early won't be a problem, my husband's vehicle blew a water pump so I will be getting up at 3:30 AM to take him to town to go to work, and then at 10:00 I will head back to town to get my haircut, and then at 3, I will again go back to town to pick up the hubs.

He will fix the water pump on his vacay, which starts on Christmas.  Oh well, it will all work out.  The truck will get fixed, at least we won't have to pay someone to do it.  The hubs is a trained mechanic which is very helpful.

The last couple of days I have been working on organizing my she-shed that holds the majority of my eBay inventory.  It is very satisfying to get that place in order.  I feel better with the shelves in order and all the acquired rubbish pitched out.
This is one wall of shelves in the she shed.

After the gift cards are purchased, I will be done with Christmas.  Then comes our Anniversary the day after Christmas.  So, I guess I am not done with the gift cards.  My hubs insist on exchanging gifts.  I would be fine with going out to dinner and that's that.

The grandkids are so excited for Christmas, that they can hardly stand it!  I love that innocence of believing. As always, the kiddos give me much joy and purpose. 


I have yet to come up with 2020 goals.  Do you have any goals set for 2020?  

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Following the Cash



I bank at two different banks.  We have our primary bank where we keep a joint checking, savings, HELOC and a cash rewards credit card in my name. We have been with this bank for years and years.

I also have an account at a seperate banking facility, this is where I keep my eBay checking account, and my personal checking and savings account.  It is a lot of accounts to keep up with but most days I am okay with it.  

I use the online bill pay from MY bank to pay bills and to make payment to OUR accounts (HELOC,  JOINT CREDIT CARD, any MY CREDIT CARD).  Little did I know that there is a significnt delay in the transfer time from MY bank account to our JOINT Credit Card.  I sent a payment Friday to payoff the JOINT credit card and it will not post until today, which is one day late.  When I checked my accounts this morning, I see that I was dinged with a late payment charge of $28.00.  Good Grief.   Oh well, lesson learned.  When the transfer date is clearly stated, don't think it will get there one day earlier.  

This year, my eBay earnings have been sitting in my eBay bank account.  After the first of the year, I will withdraw %70 of them and apply that amount ( which is a little over $2000 currently) to the HELOC.  For now, I think that I will do that every quarter.


Whittling down the HELOC will be a process, and to be sure there will be hiccups, bumps and unforseen expenses down the road.  But, there will also be wins, small victories and huge accomplishments. 









Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Whittling Down the Debt on Transfer Tuesday

In between baking cookies, wrapping presents and last minute errands I have been working on
sending money to pay down debt.  Every December I receive a payout (RMD) from my deceased mom's IRA.

With this year's payout, I was able to pay off our Visa Credit Card. Here is a current tally of our debt:

 CC and HELOC

9/19/19     $95,853.00     combined credit card and heloc

11/1/19     $97,680.00     combined credit card and heloc

11/14/19   $92,785.00      combined credit card and heloc

12/14/19   $84,628.41       heloc

The HELOC is for home improvements aka a vinyl privacy fence AND a screened-in pool. We originally took out the HELOC for emergencies that pertained to the houses we owned.   We sold one of the houses about 3 years ago and currently own ours and I still have my parents home with is being rented.

Anyway, we decided to add the above items to our home and now we owe over $80,000.  Eventually, we will sell my parent's home and use those profits to pay off whatever is left on the HELOC and put the rest away for our retirement.

Did I know how a HELOC worked when we took it out?  Did we know that the minimum payments we are making now only cover the interest? Uh.. No.  And when the draw period is over THEN payments will reduce principal and interest.   I know... good grief, I should have researched it at least a little.  Would the research have stopped us from getting the HELOC?  No.  But, we would have made better buying decisions when it came to using the HELOC?  More than likely.

What's done is done.  Now, my goal is to whittle down the principal NOW.  Hence, Transfer Tuesday!  I saw it on a YouTube video, Pennies Not Perfection.  Every Tuesday(hence Transfer Tuesday) she applies big and little amounts to her debt and it is making a difference.

Here is my first payment of $66  in rolled change to the HELOC.

New Balance: $84,562.41






Friday, December 13, 2019

Making Christmas Magical

Our Woolworth Nativity circa 1970
Christmas is a season of twinkling lights, memory-filled ornaments, baked goods and making memories.  When my kids were little, I would go all out to decorate the house, shop til I dropped, wrap gifts and cook either Christmas Eve dinner or Christmas dinner.

I always wanted my kids to have wonderful Christmas memories but to all the mom's out there, you know just how exhausting that can be.

As time went on and the kids became adults, the effort was still there but it was steadily decreasing over the years.  The real tree became artificial, then the full size tree decreased in size to a 3 foot tree with lights already attached.  Last year I was so tempted to not remove the ornaments when Christmas was over and just wrap the tree in saran wrap and put it away until next year. But, I didn't.

This year is a little different.  The grandkids are living so close and visit daily so I want to make their Christmas memories magical and long-lasting.  I say long lasting because I can still recall with great clarity my special Christmas memories from when I was a child.  My mom made Christmas special with her homemade decorations for the front door which consisted of styrofoam letters spelling out NOEL.  Then she would go to the dry cleaners and ask for a few of their plastic bags they used to cover the cleaned clothes.  She would cut the bags into strips, using a pipe cleaner to twist around the cut strip, she would make little poofs (similar to a pom-pom) and embellish each styrafoam letter with multiple poofs to make 3-D door decorations that hung vertically on our front door that she would cover with metallic wrapping paper.

Her decorations for the home were consistent, sparkly glitter golden snowflakes for our dining room mirror, a nativity scene that we put together from Woolworth's (which I still have) and her red satin Christmas balls that were on every tree.  It was the continuity of the decorations showing up every year that gave me comfort and joy.


 My dad has his own special decoration that I helped him make when I was about 10.  It was a large wooden cross with holes drilled for Christmas lights that he would pull out of the attic every year and lean it on the side of the garage every year.  Dad was not that handy with tools and the fact that he even knew how to use a drill still amazes me to this day.  The lights were fairly secure in the drilled holes, but he wouldfurther  secure them with black electrical tape, that would fall off every year.  He used black electrical tape for everything.  I mean everything.


When I am tempted to do less for Christmas because it can be so much work for just a few weeks, I think back on my memories from my childhood memories and reflect on just how grateful I am for them and how much love the feeling when I am drawn back to those simpler times.

This is why I have put up older decorations in my house, to invoke the memories from our families past Christmases for those who live here, and for those who visit during this holiday season.

This is why I put blow up Santa's and Blow up Snowmen in the front yard as well as decorating the whole house and fence with lights.  I want to impress on my grandkids the joy of Christmas and continue to build their memories of our family time.

It is all about family and making memories and making Christmas magical for the grandkids, my kids, and my husband. This makes my heart so full.





Thursday, December 12, 2019

Staying Busy With a Few Distractions

I have been looking for a compost bin to go in the back yard.  Amazon, Lowes and Home Depot have a huge selection of different kinds of compost bins. There are ones that stack and ones that are on a rack and you can tumble and turn.  The prices range from $49.99 to $199.99.



All of that research overwhelmed me and I am not 100% sure that I wanted to invest any money in them.  While looking online for the compost bins, I found a site that showed how to make one out of a plastic tote.  I had a couple of totes in the shed, so I got my drill and started drilling holes in the sides, top, and bottom of the tote.



After the drilling, I placed the tote/compost bin out back behind the she shed and filled it with a layer of sycamore leaves and all the coffee grounds, eggshells, fruit, and veggie cast-offs that I had been saving in the
freezer for the last couple of weeks.  I put it in the freezer so it does not get stinky and smelly on my kitchen counter.

It is amazing how much stuff can actually go into a compost pile/bin instead of the trash.


After the bin project, I got the hose out and scrubbed the outside windows on the backside of the house.  This time of year, the sun hits them just right and I can see every smudge mark and dirt on them.  It was driving me crazy.

Our menu planning is a combined effort between my daughter and myself.  We plan a menu for two weeks at a time, and post it on the fridge.  It has what and WHO is responsible for the meal that evening.  This is the first week, and so far it is working out fine.  We rarely eat out and only once in awhile we will get carry out for pizza.  That alone has saved us a bunch of $$.  Now I spend that "saved" money on BOGO's.  ;-)



I did go back to Publix yesterday to pick up a few BOGO's and I did find the Maxwell House Columbian coffee in the vacuum packs in the front of the store.   I picked up 6, spent approx $12 and then submitted my receipt on my FETCH app and earned a little bit over 5000 points.  I currently have about 14,000 points to redeem but I am going to let it go until I reach 20,000 points and redeem.

I also hooked up my Ibotta account to my Publix account.  Publix has an app that you can check out the ads, make a shopping list and check for in-store coupons.  I just have to remember to check the item on Ibotta so I will receive credit.  All of these money-saving apps take time, don't they?


We added a new kitten to our fur family.  She was rescued at a local mall during a TNR (trap, neuter and return) event but she was and is quite friendly.  The group had her spayed, vaccinated and microchipped and offered her to me and I could not say no.  So much for not getting any more animals.  Her name is Maggie and we adore her.

I did finally receive my RMD but have yet decided the best way to utilize it.  Still thinking about it. Most of it will go for debt, and then I will probably keep a small amount in the bank for the unexpected things that tend to happen.

Also, I am still pondering the cash envelopes and if I am content with that process.  I tend to get stuck on watching YouTube videos of individuals stuffing their cash envelopes, their budgets, and it can be a big rabbit hole for me.  On the plus side, I have managed to not spend any of the money in the cash envelopes as they are more for expected expenses that occur throughout the year.   I don't know yet, it is still a work in progress. 

Time for another cup of coffee and get started with day! 


Saturday, December 7, 2019

Catching Up

I don't know where the time goes, but it sure does go quick.  What have I been up to since my last post on Tuesday?  Let's see what I can remember! 

Wednesday:  The usual daily chores, with a couple of errands.  I ran to the post office to drop off eBay packages, took my grandkids to get their hair cuts, and stuff my cash envelopes.  

The cash envelopes are a new thing I am trying. Initially, I thought the envelopes would be more to track and control the daily spending.  And now I think they are morphing more into yearly expenses/sinking funds.  It is too soon to tell where it will end up.  On the plus side, I am committing to pulling out a designated amount every two weeks and for now, it is staying in the envelopes and it has a place to go at a designated time. 


Thursday: More packing eBay items, and more listing eBay items. Then I met a friend at Epcot to try to see Neil Patrick Harris narrate at the candlelight processional.  The best way to get guaranteed seating was to have reservations and dinner at one of the designated restaurants.  We did not want to put out that cash, so we walked around the park and checked out the Holiday Cookie Stroll.  

Friday:  I finished up my Christmas shopping for the grandkids at Target.  It was super busy at Target, the toy aisles were full of grandmas checking their lists and loading up their carts.  My daughter sent me pictures of the toys that the grandkids wanted, and that was most helpful.  

Later that evening, my husband and I took the grandkids downtown to see the lighting of the Christmas tree event.  There were food trucks, blow up houses, free crafts to do, and Christmas lights everywhere.  It was fun and one of the things we typically do on a yearly basis. 

Today:  A quick trip to the post office, and I listed more items on eBay.  I think the week caught up with me because was pooped out this afternoon and truly enjoyed my hour-long power nap. 

Here is what we spent at the grocery store this week: $96.48 I am hoping all the BOGO's I bought last month will help with this month's spending.  

Eating out:  We spent $21 eating out this week.  Not bad for us.  

Overall, it has been a good week.  Things are getting done, and we are keeping a better watch on the cash flow.  

 

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Tracking the Cash Tuesday

Keeping track of the money as it comes in or as it leaves is part of my commitment to improving our
What? No Columbian Maxwell House? 
financial picture.  The RMD (required minimum distribution) that typically arrives in the bank on the 1sr of December has yet to make an appearance.  I texted my financial planner, and he said he will be taking care of that tomorrow.


The credit card balance (which I now check daily) had some unexpected activity that required a phone call and emails.  There is a monthly bill fo $11.93 for a home warranty on a home we no longer own.  I have called them multiple times, emailed them multiple times, and every time the charge shows up, I dispute it through the credit card and it is removed. It is annoying as crap.


Then, there was a renewal fee from BJ's wholesale club that appeared on my card today for $55. We don't go and haven't been to BJ's for over a year.  A phone call and an email sent to request a refund.


Oh!  Yes, there is the $343.00 dental charge for the hubs and his ongoing dental work. Sheesh.  The money will be moved from savings to cover that. Hoping that is the end of his dental work for a while.


Stopped by the grocery store for a few things, only spent $25.80, saved $16.30 with BOGO's, digital coupons and sale prices.  IBOTTA $0.10 saved, FETCH 754 points accrued.  It would have been more on FETCH as I was going to stock up on Maxell House coffee using the Maxwell House BOGO at Publix.  If you spent $25 on Maxwell House products, you would earn 5000 points.  It didn't work out because Columbian flavor in Maxwell House was not available at the store.

While I was out, I stopped by the bank and pulled out cash for my cash envelopes.  I added a couple more categories to the lot.  I will share that in a future post.

The melatonin is kicking in, time to call it a night!






Sunday, December 1, 2019

December Monthly Goals 2019

Monthly goals for December, here we go!  Last month I diligently tracked our eating out and our grocery spending.  You can see what happened here 

My goal outline is basically the same with a few changes.  Keep an eye on grocery shopping, investigate using cash envelopes to improve my budget and plan for those once in awhile expenses.  

Then, there is a family reunion scheduled for July 25th in Wisconsin.  Time to start planning for travel expenses.  

Financial:
  • Keep dining out to $150 
  • Track grocery spending this month and keep it closer to $550 
  • Continue to build my eBay business (Here are my 2019 goals)
  • Rebuild  short-term savings account to $ $2000 ( currently at $1070)
  • NEW* Cash envelopes for sporadic money spending categories. 

Family:


  • Weekly dinner with grandkids, daughter, and son in law 
  • Have two date nights with my mister 
  • Touch base with my sons with text and or phone calls.

Fitness/health:

  • Walk at least 2 continuous miles 4-5 times a week. 
  • Lose 8 pounds  
  • Strength training at gym 2-3 times a week 

Work: 
  • eBay ( List, list, list) 

Personal/creative:
  • Spend time with a friend (time to use that Disney Pass)
  • Continue to research paternal side of the family  
  • Find a hobby that explores the creative side but does not break the bank :-)  Gardening, rock painting?

Family reunion: 

  • The date is set for July 25th, 2020  in Wisconsin 
  • Air Fare prices 
  • AirBnB options 
  • Coordinate with my kids 



There you go, December 2019 Budget Goals.  How about you?