Can we do it?

For the last year or so, my husband and I have been really starting to look at how to get out of revolving debt. We have been married over 10 years, and because we moved so often between different houses and different states, we started off using credit cards for a lot of things. Over ten years, that can add up to a lot of debt.

Four years ago, we bought a home, and we plan to stay here at least until our son goes to college (in 10 years). So, now, we have everything the way we want it, and nothing has to change for the foreseeable future. This year, we focused on playing the balance transfer game in order to consolidate some of our smaller credit cards on to a larger card with no interest for a year.

As we get closer to our goal of having no monthly credit card payments, we have started to look at tailoring our grocery budget to fit our need to pay off debt. Yes, we have been guilty of going out to eat for most meals of the week. It is a habit we have carried with us from the time we were dating. The first five years of our marriage, it was just me and him. We both had good jobs and plenty of discretionary income. We enjoyed good meals that neither of us had to cook or clean up. We spoiled ourselves, and it has taken us years to get back to the real world.

We have had the conversation for many years. We need to cook more at home. We need to stop eating out. Do you realize how long it actually takes to figure out what everybody wants to eat and then make the rounds to pick it all up? Long enough to cook and clean up a meal at home. It just requires a different kind of effort. Well, last week, we finally got there. I don’t know how long this will last, but I have worked with my husband and son to come up with a list of meals that we could eat every day of the week and enjoy, while not eating out at all.

Friends, this is HUGE! If this works for an extended period of time, we will be adding hundreds of dollars…that’s right…I said hundreds back into our monthly budget. We can use those extra dollars to help us reach our goal of paying off debt faster. We will no longer be wasting groceries – we will only be buying what’s on the meal plan (grocery list). Period. And we will eat it. All. And we will like it. $$$$$ And I might cry when we pass the sushi restaurant 🙂

Time Out

As with all good things overdone, I found myself needing a break from blogging for the last couple of days. I felt I’d started treating it like a job, and I began to think I needed to quit altogether, as I was putting way too much time and energy into what was supposed to be a hobby. I was really stressed about how to say everything in a way that would interest everyone. Don’t get me wrong, being interesting is part of the fun and creativity of blogging, and I enjoy the challenge, but I needed a time out, so I broke the tether.

While on hiatus, I managed to finally finish one of the two books I was reading. I was trying to read one book on my Kindle at night and the other during the day, but I found I was not enjoying splitting my focus, so I finished the shorter of the two (American Heiress) and got cozy with the second (Fall of Giants). Apparently, I’m in the mood for some fictional history this week! I am really enjoying all the different perspectives in Fall of Giants.

This morning, my son had to stay home from camp so I could take him to the doctor. He can’t seem to get rid of the strep he picked up from summer camp a couple weeks ago. Hopefully, he’ll start to feel better soon. He’s very rarely sick, so it’s tough to know he doesn’t feel well.

I’m currently watching the dog tear into a new stuffed cheeseburger toy. I guess I’m going to have to take her on her evening walk soon, but it is so hot that I don’t even want to go outside, much less walk for 40 mins.

Anyway, I’m going to give myself permission to not post every day, as a “good” blogger should, so if I don’t like the daily prompt, I might not have anything to say. I’ve been a little uninspired by some of the words lately, and I know my writing has been less interesting because of my lack of interest. Plus, I’ve not been creative enough so far to come up with something totally random on my own. A prompt helps me focus my thoughts.

Goodbye for now!

On the way to…um…well…

Fast is how I did everything during my college years. I supported myself, so I raced from home to class to job to class to job, repeating this all day long until I had to race home and study. On Thursday night, I sped away from my university campus to another one several hours away to be with my boyfriend until Monday morning when I woke up before 5 am to race back to my first class of the week. The summer before my last year, I decided I needed to quickly take the last few credits I needed, so that I could graduate in December instead of the following May. I bounced from job to job, looking for the elusive “life” that I had spent my twenty-something years sprinting toward.

As the years passed, I collected life experiences through marriage, moving far away from home, having a child and receiving a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. In the same way that I finally realized going 20 mph over the speed limit only saves you a handful of minutes, I began to realize that the mad dash from one minute to the next was getting me nowhere. It’s exhausting to always be in a rush. It’s stressful to my family when I’m rushing for no reason. Sometimes, rushing is a sign that I’m manic.

I’ve learned a few things along the way. Most of the time, not starting the dishwasher before I go to bed does not constitute an emergency, nor does finishing my current book just so I can start the next. If I am not ready to get out of the bed, the dog will have to wait. If my son needs something and I’m in the middle of something, he can either wait or figure out how to do it – he’s old enough. If I want to rush through buying the groceries, I better go early. If I rush my son to get his shoes on quicker, it will take him longer.

Knowing that I tend to get in an unnecessary rush does not altogether prevent me from doing it, but it makes me aware that I sometimes need a timeout. Sometimes I find it utterly depressing to think that I’m rushing my way to death, that I’m not taking the time to enjoy the journey.

via Daily Prompt: Dash

To Home, With Love

Dear Home,

I am so thankful that you will be waiting for me when I return. Since the first night I laid down in a bed that wasn’t mine, I have longed for your company. Being a passenger on someone else’s vacation has been trying for me, and I cannot wait to experience the comfort you offer to those of us who reside within you. When I return, I will scamper about you so that I may right the ship and return each thing to its rightful place within your walls. Then, I will sit and just take you in and be grateful for the space, privacy and simplicity you provide. I will see you soon, my lovely home.

Until then,

Obligated Traveler

Time to go

Just like a snack can provide quick relief from hunger or some much-needed energy between meals, a weekend trip away from home can offer a welcome respite from the monotony of every day life and a way to quickly reset the brain.

Earlier this week in Let the good times roll!, I told you my son had been whisked away by his grandparents for a week’s vacation. It has been wonderful having my husband all to myself and not having to be on a schedule or fix lunches for day camp. We do, however, find it a bit strange to not have our son around the house and miss him dearly. This week, we have not been privy to all the latest news about electronics, the latest product he wants to save his money for, the best YouTube video of the week or stories about his day at camp. Although we have talked to him on the phone and received pictures of their adventures almost every day, we have not put our arms around our boy since last Sunday.

My husband’s parents have invited us to meet them at their vacation destination and spend the weekend letting our son and his cousin show us around and tell us about what they’ve been up to all week. My son is so excited that we’re going to join them today and told us on the phone last night about the list of places he wanted to show us.

Anxiety has already crept in about this change in routine and the extra social interaction that comes with a family trip, however, I know that a short adventure is good for me. It will force me to broaden my world for a few days and get out of my shell. It will provide an opportunity to create new memories with my son. It will briefly break up the list of chores that are required daily – no preparing meals, washing dishes, doing laundry or walking the dog (she goes to a wonderful place where she can run around with other dogs, free from a kennel).

Despite my anxiety (and the need for extra medication), I am glad for the interruption. I look forward to holding my husband’s hand and the two of us singing our favorite songs while we drive. I look forward to beautiful scenery and good food. Most of all, though, I can’t wait to see my son’s face and hold him in my arms.

I will also be relieved when we walk back into our home on Sunday evening!

Beyond Reason

My love of books began far earlier than I can even remember. It is one of my defining characteristics. I often wish I kept a list of or owned every book I’ve ever read. One of my biggest fantasies is to live in a library or book store or have one of those amazing library rooms like I see in large older homes on TV. l read almost anything, fiction or non-fiction. If fact, there have been times where I’ve borrowed text books, just for fun (I know…ridiculous…such a nerd). I love discovering a new author. When I meet someone in a bookstore or library, I always ask them what book they last read that was really great. Like a magnet, the force field between me and books is invisible, yet very strong.

Interestingly enough, as much as I fantasize about hoarding books, I do not actually keep them. I am close to being a minimalist, because I would rather read than clean, so anything that requires furniture to store it is carefully considered. Once I’ve finished a book, if I’ve bought it, I either pass it on to a friend or drop it off as a donation to my local library.

In the last year, I’ve learned about goodreads, and I’m a huge fan. I finally have a way to keep track of all the books I’m reading, as well as the ones I’ve yet to read – I absolutely love it! Before I head to the library, I pull up the catalog online and look up all the books on my to-read category of goodreads, so that I know which branch to visit and what books I will be able to bring home (or if I can borrow it as an eBook). It also allows me to link straight to Amazon, where I can put books I can’t find in the library on my Wish List.

Lately, I’ve been into 3 books at a time. I listen to an audio book while I walk the dog, I read a real paper book during the day and I read an eBook in bed.

Here are the 3 I’m reading right now:

audio: Skewed by Anne McAneny

paper: American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin

eBook: Fall of Giants by Ken Follett

The best book I’ve finished recently: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

I’m very curious, what’s the best book you’ve read lately?

Uh oh!

About 30 mins ago, I realized that I had not taken my morning bipolar meds (It’s now 4pm). Uh oh!

For a couple hours I had been thinking I wasn’t feeling the best: headache, shaky, lower mood, just something not right. Then, the light bulb came on. Now what?

It’s been so long since this has happened that I didn’t know what to do. One of my meds is a sustained release that I take twice per day, so I knew I couldn’t take one now and still take it this evening. I went ahead and took one, knowing that I can’t take another one ’til tomorrow morning. The other is something I take twice per day but I used to take 3 times per day, so I know it’s safe to take it again later this evening. I took that one and will take it again as late as possible before I go to sleep to put as many hours between doses as possible.

I can only hope that I’ve dealt with this in the best way possible. I knew I couldn’t wait many more hours before I got it back in my system. The longer it’s out of my system, the worse the symptoms will get, and I don’t want my moods all over the place anymore than they already are.

Based on your experience, do you think I handled this ok?

 

Hurry!

I’m the crazy girl who jumps out of bed each morning and makes a beeline to the Keurig to start my first of many cups of coffee. Phone in hand, I tap in my code while swiping left and right to see what’s been going on in the world while I slept. As I pass through each room, I cannot help but open up all the shutters on every window. It is, aside from making coffee, my most important task of the morning.

sunny room first thing in the morning makes my brain happy! I zip around between the kitchen and living room to set up my little stack of things to do: book, Kindle, laptop, phone. Coffee in hand, I sit in my favorite spot beside my little stack, and the day has begun!

“When sun shines, it not only brightens our day; it enlightens us, our soul, cleansing it of the gloominess that the night’s darkness had brought in” – Tista Ray

 

 

Your chariot awaits

Last week, my husband and I played the “If we won the lottery, we would…” game. We don’t play the lottery much, a few dollars here and there once or twice a year, but we do enjoy thinking about what we could do with a few extra dollars.

Like many people in our world today, we have a little debt following us around. Despite attempting to plan for unexpected events, we still manage to have random things happen to our vehicles and house that lead to hefty repair bills. This year, the pool liner gave out. Last summer, the air conditioning unit quit. You probably know what I’m talking about.

Anyway, here’s what we decide every time we play this what-if game:

  1. pay off all debt
  2. pay off all debt of our parents and siblings
  3. buy any family member who is currently renting a home of their own
  4. give all of these people a cushion to rest on for the future

Those are the obvious ones, right?

My husband’s wish list:

  1. upgrade the bass boat
  2. buy his own hunting property
  3. maybe consider hiring someone to mow the lawn and clean the pool (but he says he really doesn’t mind doing it)

My wish list:

  1. feel free to buy more books
  2. consider eating sushi every night for dinner (I love sushi!)
  3. possibly go back to school without the fear of student loan debt

Family wish list:

  1. consider a few minor architectural changes to our current home, nothing outrageous.
  2. take a scuba diving vacation – we’ve started talking about doing this recently

Here’s the thing: We like to think we wouldn’t change much. We would stay in the same house, our son would go to the same school, we would drive the same cars, my husband would continue to work for the same company. We like the size of our very normal house. Until our cars give out, why would we need a new one (we buy used anyway)?

I’ve seen the news articles and heard about the TV show where the lottery winners have squandered all the money on ridiculous and outrageously expensive things. I hope if the wheel of fortune ever turned in our favor we wouldn’t give in to these frivolous spending temptations.

What are your top two wish list items, aside from paying off debt? Do you think it’s possible to remain free from the temptation of over-spending with so much money available?

via Daily Prompt: Wheel

It’s nice to know

Being a “local” means I know

who:

not to get stuck in a conversation with

knows everybody in town if I need an introduction

knows my family and who doesn’t, before I say anything bad about them

what:

restaurant has the best service

school has the best teachers

places are still open after 9pm

when:

to take which of the 4 different ways you could to get to a nearby destination

not to open the windows, lest I be suffocated by pollen/heat/mosquitoes

the best time is to go to the grocery store

where:

all the traffic tie-ups are, so I can avoid them

the best yard sales are, so I can buy stuff early

not to buy a house, because I know the neighbors

why:

going to certain events is a waste of time/money

this city just sucks you in, even when you said you’d never live here

you hope your kid will leave once in a while, just to see what other places are like

how:

you might not appreciate this place as much as I do

if my family wasn’t from here, I’d never even know it existed

we get the best of both worlds: a small city and proximity to bigger ones with more to offer

via Daily Prompt: Local