Tag Archives: Finances

Seven Quick Takes (a day late….)

A day late to the party, but the kids have hijacked the computer this week and I’ve been coughing so much I haven’t cared to be on it anyway….however…..bright and early Saturday morning and I’m feeling fine-ish and they are sleeping so it’s MINE.  ALL.  MINE.  And I’m joining in with Jen and her weekly Quick Takes…she says she might go last first…hmmmmm, that might bode well for me  😉   without further adieu….

  1. I’m working on a “Day in the Life” post.  Riveting.  I’m sure you can’t wait to see how my day shapes up compared to yours.  Funny thing is, it’s a little tedious accounting for one’s day AND trying to make it funny.  Clearly I have nothing mind-blowing to talk about if THAT’S my big project, eh?
  2. One week post-flu and I THINK (Oh, please, please, please, please let me not jinx myself here) we are relatively healthy.  Except for this nagging cough/sinus infection I’ve had all week.  I’ve been eating cough drops by the bagful and have had several nights on the couch trying to breathe/sleep/not wake Hubby all night.  I finally broke down and my doctor called me in some antibiotics and cough syrup…hence the early wake up–slept like a baby.
  3. Week 2 of my fitness Groupon and each workout KILLS.  Amazing how hard you can work in a 35 minute period doing just a few exercises and opposing muscle groups.  Super excited to see how I’ll be at the end of the 6 weeks.
  4. This week our boys had a WWF session in the backyard.  By boys I mean including Hubby.  Let me say, I HATE wrestling.  Someone always gets hurt.  It’s loud.  It’s annoying.  And yet…..so necessary.  Hubby had me read (and I probably need to REread) John Eldredge‘s book Wild at Heart and it helped me to understand and appreciate the male “need” to be a male, so I accept it a wee bit more.  Wee bit.  In the end, Dad still won (he’s still hanging on…).  Big brother still won (barely).  And the only blood drawn was on Dad’s chin by a stray long nail. boys
  5. I scored some AWESOME dishes at our church thrift store this week.  Service for 12.  TWELVE I tell you!  12 dinner dishes.  12 small dishes.  12 bowls.  A serving bowl and lid and salt and pepper shaker.  $50.  Except they weren’t.  They were half OFF…..yes, that’s right, $25.  S.C.O.R.E.  Super cute.  AND I saw some fantastic coffee cups that will complement this set from Pier One.  Now when we have company….we’ve got enough dishes!  So come on over!!!rooster
  6. I have the day off Monday to take our youngest athlete to the County wide Fitness Festival.  Little stinker made it to 4 events.  Sit and reach.  Standing long jump.  Shuttle run.  50 yard dash.  Should be great weather.  I’m sure there will be pictures to follow.  And blogging.  Especially since I have the DAY OFF!
  7. We’ve been in the refinancing dance for our house and got a sweet low-interest rate with no closing costs and no re-appraisal.  It takes a while, as you may or may not know, and yesterday we got the call from the title company….because we were late to our closing….that no one ever told us we HAD.  We jockeyed around lunches (fortunately Hubby was working from home that day!) and traffic—-because Bike Week starts this week….but…..it’s done.  We celebrated with a Friday night fire pit and marshmallows after our fish and chips dinner.  ‘Twas a good day, nice end to the week.  fire

Happy Weekend, Y’all!

Starting over on a Tuesday…

That is so wrong!!  Everyone knows all new things start on Mondays.  Yet, we bring in 2013 on a Tuesday this year thus causing a conundrum of when to begin new habits, etc, etc, etc….Tuesday or the following Monday?  In all reality, it doesn’t really matter, does it?  Today is January 1, 2013, like it or not and the day will come and go whether we have “New Year’s Resolutions” or not; so….no time like the present, eh?

Last year, my plan for 2012 was:

  1. Eat healthier/exercise more….pretty much #1 on the list EVERY year and one year I will actually succeed.  “You never fail until you stop trying” Albert Einstein  And try, try again I will.  In reality, I did succeed at this, I’ve made MUCH healthier choices in my diet and have tried many new exercises, just haven’t succeeded in actually losing weight–however, I never said losing weight was my goal.  I shall mark this up to a success.
  2. Have more Quiet time.  My quiet time has evolved.  Hubby and I have been reading the Catechism with Flock Note and discussing it every few weeks.  I’ve been to Adoration more frequently and my spiritual reading has picked up with Choosing Joy by Dan Lord and Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.  Both books are great for one chapter at a time to mull over and ponder.  I shall mark this up in the success column as well.
  3. Finances.  Clueing in Hubby and getting on the same page.  Done.  While we haven’t climbed completely out of the hole yet, we’ve stopped (so far…) the continued addition to debt and have begun backing up the train with a good plan to head into 2013.  Aaaaaand a 3rd success.  Of course, we will continue this journey together and I’m sure Dave Ramsey will be involved at some point (I hear what he’s saying but I just don’t know if I’m ready to jump in just yet), or not, Hubby’s pretty good at $stuff, either way…2012 was a good start, 2013 will be solid…I feel it.

Mentally, I really thought 2012 was a big fat FAIL on the resolutions, however, looking back I see that I actually succeeded in what I set out to do.  Sweet.

Heading into 2013 I’ve been mulling over my Goals/Resolutions/Plan for a couple of days and have also come across a few great ideas I may incorporate into reaching my own success in 2013.

Jennifer Fulwiler gives an analytical view of reviewing one’s “areas for improvement” and how to problem solve those areas.  I honestly never gave it a thought as to WHY I might not be succeeding in certain areas.  Seems so logical, I’m a little embarrassed.  Only a little though.

Jon Acuff gives a man’s view (but truly EVERYone can use this method) of breaking the year into smaller bites and attacking each goal one at a time within those small bites.  Brilliant and so realistic…I CAN do anything for 52 days.

Ann Voskamp challenges us to look for the Joy in everything and TO WRITE. IT. DOWN.  Finding 1000 Joys in 2013.  Even a chance to win a camera at the end of the year.  More importantly, Ann tells us that in focusing our eyes and heart on Joy we are certain to reap the rewards of:

1. a relative absence of stress and depression. (Woods et al., 2008)

2. progress towards important personal goals (Emmons and McCullough, 2003)

3. higher levels of determination and energy (Emmons and McCullough, 2003)

4. closer relationships and desire to build stronger relationships (Algoe and Haidt, 2009)

5. Increased happiness…. by 25% — (Who wouldn’t want 25% more      happiness!) (McCullough et al., 2002)

After all that…what are YOUR resolutions?  Or do you just opt out and chalk it up to another day on the calendar?

As for me, my focuses for this year are:

  1. Losing weight.  Hubby has agreed to help me  and so with his help, our P90X library and various other weights and miscellanea I’m ready.  I mean, sheesh, the baby will be 10 this year for crying out loud!!
  2. Spiritually to be more Joy-focused and applying it to how I live my life, my marriage, my parenting and so on.
  3. Learn to use my REAL camera more efficiently and Photoshop Elements…which has been on my computer for 2 years and I still don’t have a CLUE what to do with it.  It’s time.  I love my iPhone but my real camera rocks.

Blessings and a Happy New Year to you and yours!

 

On goals and progress..

Week three is generally a pretty good waning time.  The thrill of new “goals” has subsided, the work portion is showing its necessity and the motivation is taking a vacation as the mind processes what in the world is involved in attaining goals.

True.  True.  True.  Sort of.  Though my “get healthier” goals are not showing progress as I would like–since I DO love instant gratification–I am finding my new groove and routine in regular gym attendance and walking.  And it feels GOOD!  I am sore.  Right where I should be.  And I am making better choices during the day as to what goes in my mouth and this week I started tracking to see where I can make improvements.  (yes, the brownies I made last night are one of those….but it’s all about moderation and living life, right?).  Today, again, I will pack my lunch and snacks for the day, my gym bag for lunch and my notebook for tracking.  (Sparkpeople is a good motivator, however, it requires online time and when I get home I just prefer to hang with my family, so time will tell where that goes….).  One day at a time.

Quiet time.  Today I added in some reading after my daily Readings.  5 Conversations you must have with your daughter by Vicki Courtney.  The first chapter is on body issues and how society has completely changed how women/girls have gone from worrying about virtue and inner beauty to vanity and Photoshop perfection.  Oh how timely a chapter.  Followed by todays Old Testament reading from 1 Samuel on David’s battle with Goliath.    Oh how timely a chapter.  I am beginning to see a pattern here.  There is nothing too big for God.  Personal body issues.  Societal expectations.  Food for thought.  I think I’ll be chewing on that all day.

Finally, finances.  Plugging along.  Cash is king.  blah, blah, blah.  With the exception of a major car repair last week, we are doing well.  Again with the baby steps.  Rome wasn’t built-in a day and with a goal in sight, we will get there.  It’s a marathon not a sprint.

Carry on, people.  Keep your eye on the prize!

GOALS: Week Two and counting

Second week of January.  Typically “resolutions” wax and wane about 3-4 wks in and by mid-February the gym is back to its regular clientele.  Since adopting the “GOAL” method rather than resolutions, my mental outlook is far less stressed and overwhelmed.  I don’t feel the need to do it all at once, but rather slowly and methodically approach my goals in a fashion that I can reasonably and realistically weave into my life routine.

And thus far, here’s the update:

  • Finances.  Moving along nicely.  Paid bills the other day without all the general anxiety that accompanies that task.  Hubby and I are going to look into Yodlee or Mint to have everything in one place and have a snapshot “real-time” look-at-a-glance rather than update the Excel sheet monthly.
  • Quiet time in prayer.  Continuing with my Daily Readings, however, that’s a several-years-old habit; more attention to working toward picking which spiritual book I’d like to work on in addition to my Reading time in the morning.  This week I have an interview with Pat Gohn on Among Women and have some retrospective digging to do prior to the interview; THAT will be some intense mediation time!!   So this week is covered.  Moving on.  One day at a time.
  • Healthy eating/exercise.  I’ve hit the gym twice this week.  Hard.  So sore.  Walked twice.  Pilates video for an hour with sore core following.  Incorporating oatmeal and fruit (working on protein) for breakfast, and additional fruit/vegs during the day.  (Taking this Clean Eating slowly…)  Not rocket science and I’m not dropping lbs like crazy, however, these are good solid habits that I can live with and that’s really the important thing.  If I can see some progress over the next few weeks and definitely by my annual check-up in February that will be motivating.  Baby steps.  One day at a time.

Last night we went to 6 p.m. Mass followed by a concert by Steve Angrisano with the kids.  What a tremendous family time.  Even our “very-14”, 14 year old was enjoying himself within 15 minutes much to his surprise.  (The only downside was, in hindsight, perhaps we should have either left the girls home or saved Mass for this morning…they were absolutely melting down by the end…WAY too tired.  Wish I could say I was gracious about it, but not so much……) Either way.  Great show and bed time was a breeze!

Off to take the girls to church and their Faith Formation class and I’ll be walking, catching up on podcasts, and praying.

***images from the web

Goals. Part 1: Those pesky finances

In a recent post of mine, I outlined a set of resolutions goals that I want to focus on for this coming year.  After reading my friend’s post on GOALS, I loved that term and along with the original blog I read HERE on how to successfully manage and keep resolutions goals, I have begun to attack them.

Having had the house purse strings in my total control for 7+ years I am happy to hand them back to my hubby.  And I am reluctant. As we navigated those dark and murky waters of change several years ago and I went from a happy-go-lucky, stay-at-home mama to a night shift, full-time worker balancing family, sleep and work (in that order) I also had to have a quick lesson on family finances.  ICK!  Despising the checkbook and the whole organizing of bills, it was a chore I was thrilled to have nothing to do with for most of our marriage, happily acquiescing to my hubby all financial decisions–it’s his strong point, not mine.  However, once it was necessary, I realized how foolish I was to have kept my head in the sand for so long.  What a burden for one person to carry alone.  It was a conversation we never had with small children running around, one I never found important nor interesting.  Stupid girl.  Until it was important.  It occurred to me how many friends I had/have in this  situation and it was one I vow to not find myself in again.  It’s crucial to running a household and marriage, to be on the same page; balancing the budget sucks, however, to live within one’s means it’s imperative to know what’s coming in and what goes out.  In these past years of economic downturn, I am sure many, many people have learned this lesson the hard way.  Like me.  The left hand MUST know what the right hand is doing.

I did an OK job for the first 5 years of hubby’s incarceration.  We were with my parents and I was able to keep debt to a minimum or nil.  After buying our house a couple of years ago, expenses began to creep up and in and while nothing was ever late or unpaid, the debt grew.  Extravagance wasn’t an issue, just 4 kiddos and LIFE.   It is what it is.   And now it’s time to dig out.

Fast forward to 2012, and after having hubby home for 6 months and working, we are both in a good spiritual and mental place to discuss finances.  Lay it all open.  Full disclosure.  I looked forward to it as much as pulling off a band-aid.  But it is necessary to be united in this area.  Finances are widely known to be a MAJOR factor in marital discord and we’ve had enough of that for a long while, thank you.  Time to address the elephant in the room:

Luke 8:17  For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.

So we laid it out, put it on an Excel sheet (TypeA hubby), and have the beginnings of our “plan” to start chipping away.  It won’t be overnight.  It’s going to take some discipline.  I’ll tell you what though, it is an enormous weight off my shoulders to have faced that beast and shared that burden.  I know everyone has their own system and you do what works.  For us though, we share it all: income and expense.  For us, that’s what works.  And we march forward.   How about you?  Head in the sand or fully aware?  It’s a difficult topic and generally finances are off-limits as a discussion.  Unfortunately, I think that’s one of the reasons our economy got to be where it is, no one discusses finances.

Now onto tackling the remainder of the resolutions goals.  Quiet time in prayer and Health. To be continued…..

Winding down and gearing up…

As we wind down Christmas and our tree accelerates the dropping of the needles daily as ornaments desperately cling to crunchy branches, my mind turns to the coming of the new year.  While I’m not big on making/keeping “Resolutions”, I DO always seem to become reflective on things I’d like to improve upon in the coming year.  The New Year is always full of promise and hope, like new school supplies….unsharpened pencils, reams of paper, crisp folders; ready, willing and able to be molded to our choices.

Even though I am quick to claim I don’t make “Resolutions”, the truth is, of COURSE I do.  I just realize that I am only good at keeping them for a couple of weeks.  Since the gym is generally crowed until about February, I also know I have a lot of company in short-lived resolutions.  However, in the blissful, wide-eyed moments of promise and hope to come in the New Year, I feel propelled and motivated, especially after reading “5 Keys to Making and Keeping Your New Year Resolutions” @ The Hill House.  

My course of action for 2012 includes a few things:

  • Eating more healthy and exercising.  Quite the popular one.  Of course I’d like to lose weight, but the reality is that I’m not getting any younger and as my patients tell me daily, “It’s a B**** getting old!” I want to be in a good place to face those physical challenges getting older brings.  I want to run and bike and play with my kids and BEAT THEM in their games–yes, sometimes I AM competitive!  Therefore, in keeping with “defining the win”, my workouts will primarily occur at lunchtime, 3X a week and my eating will consist primarily of clean-er eating and learning how to ditch the processed stuff AND incorporate that into my family’s diet as well.  A HUGE task for sure, but some truly astounding payoffs as well. 
 Just as the story of Daniel (Daniel 1:8-15)  shows how eating clean makes for stronger, better, faster, it’s also indicative of the fact that everything we need to be properly nourished and strengthened is provided by nature, not Publix. 
  • More focused “Quiet time” in prayer and seeking time with Christ.  While my morning routine begins with The Daily Readings, it often ends there as well.  Since I am trying to cram EVERYTHING into my mornings (Quiet time, Exercise, Writing….) there is no singular focus on any one of them.  My quiet time has long sustained me, given me strength, peace, clarity and guidance; it’s time to return, focused and un-hurried to that precious time.  When I begin my day in prayer and focused on His will for me, everything else seems to fall in place.
Matthew 6:33  But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
  • Reintroducing hubby to the finance side of the family and tightening up.  As we can finally begin to dig out of debt with his job adding to the household income, his TypeA personality will be crucial to my tendency to slide…..it’s a team effort for certain and certain to experience growing pains, but  we will be able to balance each other  as well as the budget along with becoming better stewards of all that God sees fit to bless us with, and bless us He has.  Abundantly.

Luke 6:38  Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

In reaching for my main goals this coming year, my writing may or may not blossom.  Time will tell.  However, as this has always been more about keeping in touch and therapy for my heart, I’m sure I can always find time to bang out a post now and then; it’s just not a huge priority.  Yet.