Category Archives: Family

Long term vacation planning, Europe or…?

This afternoon, I asked my daughter where she’d like to go on vacation once she graduated high school. That’s four years from and that gives me more than enough time me to save. She rattled down a few places; Hawaii, Bahamas, Bermuda… and then her eyes widened and she said, “London!”  Right now London, is at the top place on her short list. Who knows, it might change… she has four years after all, but that doesn’t matter. I’ll start saving the money to fund that trip soon. Four years will be more than enough time to turn that dream into a reality. Of course, after I get a sizeable amount set aside, I think the best option would be to let that money sit in a money market account or something similar so it can accumulate a bit more interest as it matures. I still have time to decide on what way I’ll be going with that since I won’t start saving for her trip until after schooling (she attends private school) for the next year is paid. That should be taken care of before summer.

Cold processed soap just added to their soap molds

Soapmaking

We were supposed to get lots of snow overnight and throughout the day and while it started out that way, we ended up with a few inches of snow and a lot of freezing rain! Brr…. thankfully I had no where to go, and of course my daughter’s school was closed which meant we had more time to hang out together and this evening, I made some more cold processed soap. It’s a new recipe that I created and it should produce a hard bar of soap with lots of lather. I can’t wait to try it and see what my testers think about the soap. I’ll give this about six weeks to cure. I scented it with cedarwood essential oil.

Another You Need a Budget mention…

Since I had a lot of extra time today, I made the most of it, by spending time with my daughter. I do that daily, but since she’s out of school, well we had more time. Also, I did some work with my business and I actually sat in on a You Need A Budget (YNAB) seminar titled,

Pay for Big Expenses without Borrowing

Learn to use your budget to help you pay cash for big ticket items instead of borrowing. Whether it’s a wedding, a new baby or a major home improvement, we’ll show you how budgeting can help you avoid the debt trap and find the cash to make your bigger financial goals a reality.

I might have mentioned this class in an earlier post. I logged into the class knowing how to do this, and I already incorporate that into my own life, but I figured I might pick up some helpful tips also. After all, it’s not always wise to assume you know too much about a topic. I don’t. I’m always willing to learn more. There was a lot of information that I had known, but it was nice hearing that others are doing similar things as myself. And I did pick up a few great tips. The lady who taught the class, is older and has children that are married with their own children. Some of her big expenses came at Christmas, when her and her husbands children and their grandchildren came home for the holidays. For her, planning in advance meant no extra bills after Christmas was over. I shared my story about my recently purchased car, that I’d been saving for, and my long-term goal… vacation. I also mentioned including my daughter in the budgeting process and that’s when she shared something awesome. Students can take advantage of You Need a Budget for free. Yes, their first year is free. It’s normally $50. Currently, I’m still under my trial period. I have two months, and eight days. When I was in my early twenties, it took me a lot longer to save for big purchases. In some cases, additional sacrifices were made to reach those goals sooner. It was definitely worth the effort.

Dry Erase boards and YNAB update

I’m a planner. I tend to write things down. My daughter is the same. If I’m away from home and don’t have pen and paper available, I’ll send myself a text using my phone. Outside of texting my daughter, it’s about the only time I use my text function or any other “smart features” that my iPhone possesses.

I’ve been thinking about getting a whiteboard for a while. I think of it as my Vision Board. I have one in my head and do write it on paper, but it might be nice to have something physical that I see daily. Currently, I’m researching them. Do you know they aren’t all the same? Some aren’t suitable for heavy use and since mine will receive a lot, it makes sense to purchase a suitable board. The dry erase board would mainly be utilized for my small business. Using it is something that I don’t have to think about, I would! I love order and this is just one way to accomplish that. I most likely will purchase one within the next few weeks. Joining me on my journey is my daughter. She has a large chalkboard on a wall in her room. She’s had that since she was about nine or ten. Over the years, it’s received a lot of use and it really should be replaced. I do believe I’ll replace that with a whiteboard. When I told her about this, she was ecstatic. She has a small one and uses that often.

I’m Loving the You Need a Budget (aka YNAB) Software

Regarding the You Need A Budget software, I like it a lot although I’m not thrilled that it isn’t available offline. However, if I DON’T find an equivalent, I’ll definitely be purchasing this software. It reminds me a lot of my written budget but this does things a bit quicker. I’ll still keep my written budget, but YNAB can take things to a higher level. YNAB is simple to use, but to stay on top of your finances you have to stay on top of it, at least initially. I imagine as the months progress, I won’t have to be as diligent since the fields I’ve created will carry over into the next month. Another thing I’m enjoying are the free classes that YNAB offers to everyone. By the way, I’m not getting paid to write about YNAB, I’m just impressed and thought I’d share some of what I’m learning here on my website.

Yesterday I sat in on a webinar that was geared towards businesses and later in the week, I’ll tune in to listen to a class focused on ways to save for big expenses without using credit cards. Granted, I already know how to do this, my last semi big purchase was my Toyota Prius, If you factor in the car purchase ($3,000) the tags, taxes and insurance, it was a little under $3700. I paid that in full with my debit card. I’ve made much higher purchases, but I’m always open to listening to discussions about topics I’m familiar with and I might learn a few things also. What gets my attention? Someone that manages their time, or is willing to learn how to manage their money wisely. Granted, there are going to be cases where this is difficult or even impossible to accomplish based on debt, job loss, etc., However, I’m referring to those who aren’t in any of those situations but by their appearances, could care less about their future. I have met people my age (46) who have done nothing to save for potential retirement. That to me is a bit scary. There’s no way I’m relying on the government to take care of me if/when I decide to stop working. So naturally, my partner would have to have a similar mindset. I have no desire to have anyone sponging off my hard work simply because they didn’t plan for their retirement. That’s something else I’m looking into, retiring earlier. I still have several years to decide, but until I make that decision, I’m tossing a lot towards turning that into a reality… if that’s my choice.

Budgeting software: You Need a Budget

When it comes to my budget, the way I typically keep track of my finances is pen and paper. It gets the job done, as long as you use it (I do) and it has suited me well for many years. A few years ago I DID try Quicken. I used it occasionally, but wasn’t married to it and found myself going back to pen and paper. I purchased it last year and… same thing. I wasn’t really impressed with it and stopped using it quickly. What a waste of money… at least for me. Since I rarely waste money, that stung a bit.

Yesterday, I stumbled upon a new to me software application titled You Need a Budget and I must say that I’m really enjoying it immensely. I’m currently using the trial (I was actually offered two months for free) and I leaped at the opportunity. I like that I have so much control of how I use this software, of course I do. I keep a tight rein on my finances. You have to if you want to stay on top of things and while you can link to your bank accounts (just like Quicken) I won’t. I never was comfortable with that feature, and while I HAD used it, in the past, with Quicken. I eventually removed that capability.

I must sat the amount of people living paycheck to paycheck is a bit sobering. Sure, the economy definitely is a factor in some instances, but in others? It’s just poor decision making. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck but are continually eating out, perhaps you need to rethink your priorities. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck and received a tax refund, but instead of using that money to eliminate some debt (if you have it) you decide to purchase some wants… yeah you might need to rethink your priorities. I’ve met some of these people. I must admit, there lack of taking responsibility and getting aggressive about tackling their debt does leave me puzzled. For me, paying bills as they come (I don’t have debt, just monthly bills) having an emergency fund and being able to survive for several months if something were to happen to me, makes all the sacrifices I have made worth the effort.

My parents were fabulous examples of being a good steward. I’m a Christian and God commands me to do just that. I’m passing on what I’ve learned to my daughter. So yes… she sees me make budgets and adhere to them. She also sees me write down monetary goals, setting aside money for big purchases that I can pay in full, and do what’s needed to meet them.

But back to You Need a Budget… by the way isn’t that a catchy phrase? It’s quite accurate, right? I do like the free webinars that they offer, a lot of what is said isn’t new to me, but you know what? At times, it is nice to be surrounded by others, even virtually, who totally get it when it comes to staying on top of their finances. I’ve watched several of their videos and while they don’t come out and say it, it’s very obvious that credit cards aren’t put on a pedastal to whip out and use often. You know what is? Budgeting, paying bills as they come and saving so you can get to the point where you are able to make large purchases without a credit card. I only used a creadit card, briefly, in my early thirties.

My first hybrid: Toyota Prius

This past Thursday, I purchased a “new to me” vehicle. It’s a 2003 Toyota Prius in dark blue.

2003 Toyota Prius – stock photo

I have no desire to own a new car and most likely won’t ever own one. I much prefer used and love paying the bill in full so I don’t have any more payments.  It’s the oldest car that I’ve ever purchased. In fact it’s the first generation of the Prius’s.  It’s a 2003, which was the last year they were made before they moved on to the second generation. And that’s another new to me feature… owning a first generation car. I guess a first gen, would be appealing to some car collectors or so say some of the Prius enthusiasts where I’m a member. Guess what? I’ve been wanting an older Prius for well over a year and this one came along at the right time. Can you believe I’ve been praying for a Prius for the same amount of time? Yes, it was paid for in full, so that means no bills. There are a few minuscule nicks on the paint, but it’s not noticeable. I might eventually get a paint job, but for now I’m content.

This car was well cared for by it’s owners (two) and is in pristine condition. You want to know something? It’s the most quiet car I’ve ever owned. I rarely hear it when it’s running. In fact, I had no idea it was running. It’s fooled me a few times since I’ve driven it. My daughter loves this vehicle. Since purchasing, I’ve done a bit of additional research about the Toyota Prius. These cars tend to last a long time. I knew that. My “big purchase” might be purchasing the battery, which can cost a few $1,000, but if you get a refurbished battery, you can have it installed for a little over $900.

What I like is that it uses electric and gas to run. The gas tank only holds 9.9 gallons and thus far I’m averaging a little over 42 miles per gallon. On the highway, I was averaging 51 mpg. That’s not bad, and it’s much better than the “gas guzzler” Ford Expedition that I was driving. That was about 18 miles per gallon. Yes, big difference! I’m slowly getting used to being low to the ground and not up above the clouds as I was in the Expedition and while I do miss that, I’m not missing the frequent trips to the gas station. We’ve already had a few short road trips. I must say, it’s a shock returning home and seeing the gas gauge hasn’t budged at all! I predict several road trips for my daughter and myself.

Towards the end of this week, I’ll be taking the car in for general maintenance. After all, it has over 140,000 miles. Again, I was well aware about high mileage Prius’s before I made my purchase. I’ve quite a few Prius users, online, that have cars with over 200,000 miles. I plan to drive this car (Lord willing) until it stops working. In a few months, I’ll start saving up for a “new to me” car so when the time comes, I can pay that in full to. If it’s Gods will, that won’t happen for years.

Still here…

My goodness, where has the time gone? It’s been so busy in the real world. 2016, will definitely be memorable. Many positives and a few negatives thrown in the mix, but in all things I’m thankful. Towards the end of 2016, I sprained both wrists. Which were painful, I might add, and limited a lot of what I can do. However, I am happy to say that the sprains have healed and I’m back to all my usual activities.

This past weekend, I created a pizza with a black crust. I must say, that pizza was success. I’m hoping to post pictures of that very soon.

New Years Eve 2015

Happy New Years Eve

I have so much to be thankful for this year. Tonight, my daughter and I plan to stay up late and ring in the New Year together. The BF is home with the strep throat. Tomorrow, my daughter and I will be doing some sewing. She’s excited to work on an outfit. We’re keeping it simple. I’ll be sure to post some pictures of her finished garment here on Celebrate Life.

Wishing you all a wonderful New Year!

So much cooking… and knitting

The past few weeks have gone by oh so quickly. If you’re friends with me on Facebook, you’ve seen me posting there; however, using an actual laptop or desktop (for personal use) has been non-existent. I’ve already mentioned that I rarely create blog posts on my iPad. This past Sunday, I attended a baby shower and knitted an infant hat, matching booties and another infant hat. I also made two trays of food (one chicken and a spicy rice dish) that were quite popular. I made enough to feed thirty people. I’m hoping that I have time to write actual posts within the next few days; however, I’m fairly sure that will not happen until the Christmas holiday.