Money is a Tool

When I started my journey towards being debt free, it was because I realized that I am tired of working for ‘things’ that I often don’t enjoy and/or have the time to enjoy.

My husband works 10 hour days and many times it feels like we are passing ships, greeting each other as we go about our daily routines. We’ve had many conversations about what we want our life to look like, and none of them include killing ourselves working to be able to afford the latest new gadget or the biggest house. I like our current house, but it was never intended to be our ‘forever’ house.

I want to downsize our next house. I want to be able to pay less in bills so we can spend more on things we want – whether that is a vacation, books, a new hobby – whatever.

Our current house is a good fit for our life right now, because my children are still living at home. But once they move out, we will be getting a smaller house. My car is over 10 years old, but it is paid off, and that makes it worth more to me than a newer car with a payment. Would I prefer to drive a newer car? Sure, but I don’t want the ridiculous payment that would go with it.

I was watching a financial YouTuber and she made a comment that has stuck with me. “Money is a tool – not a measure of your self-worth.” I think I’ve gotten so used to thinking about what we’re “worth” that I forget money isn’t everything.

Don’t get me wrong, I know money is important. But it is important because having it enables me to do what I want. Experiences are always going to be more important to me than material things. Do you know what is important to you? Or are you killing yourself trying to keep up with the Joneses?

I wonder sometimes if the ‘instant gratification’ culture of today is why so many people are in debt. No one wants to spend time saving up for a purchase, they just want it right now. So what if they have to pay 25% interest on the credit card to buy it?

I’ve tried to instill in my kids the need to budget and save and to consider the future. For example, my oldest wants a new pet desperately. So I’ve had several conversations with her about how expensive pets can be. Our last pet needed back surgery ($3K) as well as the routine costs for things like shots and grooming. Even though it was HER dog, WE paid the bills. (She got him as a gift when she was little.)

While it would be nice to have a pet, I’m not ready to get another one right now. And since she still lives with me, she isn’t getting one either. Although she isn’t happy, she understands the reasoning. Her money right now is better spent saving up for when she is ready to move out and live on her own once she is done with college.

I think people would be happier if they thought of money as a tool to help them achieve their goals and desires, rather than money being a goal itself. After all, you can’t take it with you. 🙂

Busy Bee

The last week has been very hectic. We’ve had a lot of appointments and obligations and I feel like I’ve been running around all week, which means lots of things I normally take care of haven’t gotten done. That leaves me feeling anxious and uneasy, because I don’t like leaving things undone. This weekend is looking like it will be just as busy, so – ugh.

There are always positives to celebrate, though. My husband is getting a promotion at work, which means a pay raise – awesome! 😀 My youngest may finally get to have a graduation ceremony – also awesome. I’ve been diving into my new job as well, which right now just means I’m spending a lot of time sorting, cleaning, and disinfecting so that everything is ready if/when we open up in the fall for students.

We’re still working on paying down our debt – something I hope we’ll be able to do a bit faster now with that pay raise. I’m still plugging away trying to create other income streams for us. My dream is to make a living virtually, so that we can live anywhere we want and still have a stable income. We’re a long way from that, but – baby steps.

I did also have someone ask me about buying one of my Monday Mandalas. In case I haven’t made it clear, the Monday Mandalas are FREE. You can grab them off the blog anytime. They aren’t very hi-res because of storage limitations on WordPress, but they are free. If you want to use them for something, an attribution would be nice, but if you just want to print one out to color or load into your favorite digital coloring app, feel free. 😀

If you’d like something a little more challenging/intricate to color than my Monday Mandalas, you can take a gander at my Etsy shop and see if there’s anything you like. I don’t have many items there at the moment, but I’m hoping to get some added this weekend.

That’s if I can peel myself away from my newest obsession – diamond painting. 😛 I discovered diamond painting one day when I fell down the YouTube hole. I used to needlepoint and embroider, but my carpal tunnel (and my bad eyesight) has made that impossible. Diamond painting is sort of like cross-stitch, but with little sparkly bits called drills. I found some cheap ones on Amazon (they are mandalas, of course!) and bought them to experiment with and see if I liked it before I spent a lot of money on some bigger, fancier pieces. So far – I love it. I’m a little annoyed with the first one (I got a package of 4) because they shorted me two gems for the design, so I can’t finish it. However, I do like doing it, so I’m planning on adding it into my craft rotation.

And, of course, I’m still trying to finish up those darn minis I discovered hiding in the basement. I have quite a few of them done – I just need to find the time to take some pics and get them posted. Maybe after graduation, when I have a few spare moments!

Hope everyone is staying safe and healthy.

Lazy Days

I’ve been lazy the last few days. I have a to-do list a mile long, but I’ve taken a few days just to chill and relax.

I have gone to my new job and spent a couple of hours figuring out what I need to do first. Unfortunately, it’s cleaning and inventory. 🤨 But at least it’s a start. So I’m heading there tomorrow to spend a few hours getting started.

I’ve also spent quite a bit of time painting miniatures. I have about 14 done, so at some point I will take pics and share them. I am still experimenting with contrast paints. I bought some more Vallejo and contrast paint yesterday, as well as some new brushes. I’m excited to try them.

As I’ve been lazing about, I decided to try out ordering my groceries online. I thought I would hate it. Turns out, I was wrong. I love it. It also is saving me money, because it cuts down on the number of impulse buys from my husband. 😂 Instead of spending an hour shopping, I order online, schedule a pickup time, and only spend 30 min getting groceries. Plus, I don’t have to spend time in the store with people. Win-win!

The world is a crazy place right now. Stay safe and well, everyone. ❤️

Changes

The more things change, the more they stay the same, right? Lots of changes for me now and in the future. The pandemic has made everything very fluid, so it’s hard to plan ahead without knowing what will change.

I have an interview for a new job next week. I’m less nervous than I thought I would be, but I’m afraid that will make it hurt more if I don’t get it. :/ My youngest has now had 3 tentative dates to reschedule graduation, but it hasn’t happened yet. I’ve decided to go ahead and send out the announcements with a note that explains we don’t know when/if it will happen. Even if it doesn’t, or people can’t attend, I at least want them to know how proud we are of his accomplishments.

The university that both children will attend in the fall has said they intend to hold in-person classes, but they will end those early right before Thanksgiving. Everything after that (the final two weeks of classes), will be done remotely. I have to wonder, then, why bother? Everyone has been doing remote classes for most of the year, so why go back just for 2 1/2 months? My oldest has all online classes anyway, and we can probably arrange my youngest’s classes to be all online as well, so we’ll see how it all shakes out. We still aren’t sure whether my job will reopen in August, but we are planning as if we will. The new health regulations are sure making things interesting.

In the meantime, I am continuing on with my own plans. I’ve opened my Etsy shop, I’m adding additional items this week, and I am taking steps to get back on track with what I want to do for my business. I’m trying to improve my health and fitness, and I’m continuing to work on various projects, like painting more minis. 😀

Puzzling Times

I’ve been doing all sorts of things to keep myself occupied, including (gasp!) cleaning my house.  Sometimes, though, I want an activity where I can just zone out – listen to some music, or some of my favorite Forensic Files podcasts and just zen.

Puzzles are one of my favorite ways to do that.  So I pulled our card table out of the garage and set it up in the living room so I have a space to leave the puzzles out until I’m done with them.

I have a handful of puzzles, most of them 1000 pieces.  I’ve put them all together before, but it’s been a while, so I thought I’d do it again.

The first one I picked is an old-timey picture with a western Main Street and trains and mountains in the background:

Puzzle 1

I always start puzzles by separating out all the edge pieces and putting them together first, so I have a starting point.  Invariably, I miss at least one edge piece during the first sorting.  This puzzle was a little easier than some, because the storefronts all had writing on them, which made it easy to put the pieces together.

It went quicker than I thought – filling in all the trees was a pain in the behind, though!

Puzzle 2

It only took me a couple of days to finish this one:

Puzzle 3

Then I moved on to the next one – it only had 500 pieces, so it went more quickly than the first puzzle.  This one is a Route 66 puzzle, with a map of various stops along the way.  I’m saving the Star Wars one until last – it’s one of those that has tiny pictures that make up the bigger picture, and it’s a real doozy!

Puzzle 4

Again, this one was probably easier than some because of all the writing on the various pieces.

Puzzle 5

I did another puzzle, but I forgot to take pictures of it.  Then I put the puzzles away for a bit while I work on painting some miniatures for a painting challenge.  I’m using the card table for that, so that I can leave all my painting stuff out instead of having to pack it up each night off the dining room table so we can eat dinner.

If nothing else, having the card table covered with painting stuff is motivation to get the stuff painted, because it’s messy to look at and drives me crazy! 😛

Like Molasses

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Credit: Pixabay

Time is relative, and boy has it been running slow lately.  Which is kind of odd, because I’ve been staying busy even though I’m not working.  My youngest, with about 5 weeks to go until graduation, has only been home for 2 weeks – and one of those was Spring Break.  When I asked how he was doing, he said he felt like he’d been home for months already.

Other than staying home from work, my regular day-to-day hasn’t changed that much.  I am still paying bills, balancing the checkbook, cleaning the bathrooms, cooking dinner, buying groceries, doing laundry, etc.  On the other hand, since my children are home, they are starting to see just how much I do around the house that they usually take for granted.

This weekend my husband and I spent an afternoon washing and vacuuming the cars and cleaning off the front porch. Monday my youngest and I, after our morning workout (which he has to do for his weights class), worked outside pruning trees and cleaning up the yard.  Then I paid bills, ran errands, and did laundry.

I’ve been much busier than I usually am, actually.  And yet, the last two days feel like they have lasted two weeks.  Maybe it’s because my kids are home all day, every day.  I’m not sure, but I am definitely ready for April.

Last night, my husband and I looked at prices for plane tickets, because we are hopeful that we may be able to travel back to Canada and see his family, since our visit in March was cut short.  No idea if we’ll really be able to go, but on the up side, tickets that are normally between $600-$800 each are now more like $200 each.  😀

I’ve put my plans to open up an online store on hold for a bit, given the current situation.  Instead, I’m going to focus on building a bigger base, so that when I do open officially, I’ve got ready-made customers.  That’s the plan, anyway.

Activity Ideas

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Credit: Pixabay

As we enter week 2 of our sudden and abrupt departure from ‘normal life,’ I find myself hunting for things to occupy my time.  It feels kind of like being forced into retirement – only without the income. :/

I’m trying to stay on something of a schedule, if just to force myself to get up, shower, and get dressed every day.  Otherwise it’s too easy to just sit around in my pajamas all day.  My husband is still working, thankfully, so it does add some structure to the day.

But even my introverted hermit self is struggling to find things to occupy both my hands and mind.  So I sat down and made a list of things I can do to keep busy.  I thought I would share it with you guys in case you were having the same issue.

I can:

  • Blog – which I am doing, or you wouldn’t be reading this. 😀
  • Read – I am currently participating in the 2020 GoodReads challenge – I’ve set a goal of 500 books read this year, and I’m already at 203.
  • Write lesson plans – rumor has it there will be a curriculum director position open at my job next year – assuming school starts as normal in August – and I would love to have it, so I’m trying to be extra prepared.
  • Take online classes – There are lots of different places to take online classes, including Coursera, Skillshare, Lynda.com, and CreativeLive, just to name a few.  I am taking CE classes required for my job – even though I’m not working.  I have no idea if I will still be required to meet the criteria this year, but I figured why not? I have the time and the information will still be useful later.
  • Draw Mandalas – I may even finally make some videos of doing this!
  • Exercise – I can still go out for walks, but even if I couldn’t, I have several pieces of exercise equipment in my home that I can use.
  • Paint miniatures – I have a whole pile of miniatures that I keep meaning to get to – now I have time, so I hope to take advantage of that.
  • Photography – I take photos both IRL and in a virtual digital world, and a lot of that was put on hold because other things were taking up my time.  Now I can do both of those – assuming my data cap doesn’t put a cramp in that!
  • Crochet – I have lots of yarn laying around that I planned to make into blankets for people.  Something to keep my hands busy while I’m watching the dumpster fire that is the news these days.
  • Puzzles/Games – I have a lot of puzzles and board games that I can pull out, as well as playing games on the various consoles in the house.  I’m currently playing Divinity on the PS4 – it’s already downloaded and it’s not an online game, so I don’t use any data when I play it.
  • Coloring – I have several adult coloring books that have been gifted to me that I can pull out and just zen out for a while and color.  I even found one that is full of curse words that feels like the right thing to color right now. 😛
  • Outreach – I’m trying to reach out to family members and friends on a regular basis to check up on everyone.  My sister has been sick, so I haven’t seen her in over a week.  We have an elderly aunt that I need to check on, and just keeping in touch with people helps with my own sanity.

We are still waiting on more information about when my youngest will start the remote classes to finish out this school year.  One of the ISP’s in our area (not the big one, but the small rural one) is setting up wi-fi nodes so that kids who don’t have internet access at home can travel to one of the nodes and use the wi-fi for free.  The latest email also mentioned they will be letting the kids know when they can return to pick up personal items.  I bet the locker rooms smell AMAZING after this long. :/

Slow Slide

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Credit: Pixabay

This week has been hard.  The sudden disruption in our routines is about to drive us all batty.  My husband is doing fine, since thankfully he is still working – for now.

The rest of us are at home, trying to figure out our ‘new normal.’  Yesterday, my youngest tried to sleep all day, because he’s finally bored of playing video games and watching Netflix.  😛

I think my oldest has handled it the best – she’s gone on two different outings with a couple of friends – out to a park (that was pretty much deserted), and over to their house to play board games.

I find myself sleeping more than normal and I know that’s a sign depression is creeping up on me.  I know I need to be more active, but without the routine of work, I’m finding that a challenge.  The person I would usually spend time with is my sister, but she is currently sick, so that’s out until she recovers (just a cold, nothing to worry about).

Also, we received a notification last night that we’ve used 85% of our data this month from our ISP.  We typically use about 400G of our 1TB – right now we are at over 800G – and my youngest (the biggest data hog) has only been home for a week.  Yikes!  We have 5 days to go, so I think we’ll be okay this month, but I’m definitely going to have to do something to limit how much we are using, as we cannot afford overages right now.  Those of you who don’t have data caps – count yourself lucky!

Yesterday I made a list of activities I could do to keep myself busy (including things that don’t require internet).  I have lots of craft projects I could be working on, so hopefully I will get some of those done.  I have lots of miniatures to paint, so that’s on my list as well.

I’m going to have to figure out something for my youngest – he’s so used to being physically active and I think he’s only left the house once in the last week.  We have some equipment – a treadmill and an elliptical, but that’s not that same as weightlifting, something he did every day.  A weight set is not in the budget right now, so we’ll have to get creative.

What activities are you doing while practicing ‘social distancing’?

Unanswered Questions

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Credit: Pixabay

Life feels very surreal right now.

Two weeks ago, my husband and I were planning our trip to Canada to visit his family.  A week ago, we were in Canada, visiting his family.  The day after we arrived, the virus hit the province, and we were advised to return home immediately.  We did.  Our planned week of vacation turned into two days of actually seeing family, and four days of traveling back and forth.  It was exhausting.

We were glad to be home, but still uncertain about what would happen, as the virus was now causing chaos in the US.  We arrived home and decided to get groceries the next day, on our usual shopping day.

The stores were busy, but not chaotic.  Purchases of certain items were being limited, but we were able to buy everything we needed without an issue.  I was hopeful that perhaps the impact of the pandemic would be less where we are.

In my house, 3 of the 4 people in it either go to school, work at a school, or both.  We are on Spring Break this week, but were waiting to hear whether we would be returning next week.

All of the universities in my state have sent the majority of students home from the dorms and will be doing online/remote classes for the rest of the school year.  I thought, okay, with the exception of one class, all the university classes my two are taking are already online, so the impact would be minimal for us.

Yesterday, the governor closed all public schools in the state for the rest of the school year.  While I’m grateful that I now know that, it leaves me with so many unanswered questions.

My oldest works full-time at a public school at an hourly position.  She will now likely be without a paycheck for the next 4-5 months.  Will she be able to get unemployment?

She is in a university program to get her teaching certificate.  Part of the program is working in a school – what effects will the closure of the public schools have on her program? Will it delay her graduation date?

(Side note – most of the universities have also cancelled commencement ceremonies.)

My youngest is a senior in high school this year.  We don’t know yet how he will do classes online – how do you do a weightlifting class online?  How do you do a carpentry/woodworking class online?  He is also taking a public speaking course – how do you do that online?

He is very active in sports and was planning to participate in track this year.  Last year he went to state in two events and was hoping to compete again this year, with an eye to a possible track scholarship.  That possibility is now gone.

Other school events have now disappeared as well – prom, recognition ceremonies, scholarship award ceremonies – we are not even sure if they will have a graduation ceremony.  Our district is small, but still would certainly be over the current “no meetings of more than 10 people” recommendations.

(Side note – I just thought about whether I would be able to get a refund on the graduation regalia I’ve already purchased.  Probably – but the company we purchased them from will likely either go bankrupt or be severely injured by this, as they supply most of the states and many states have canceled school.)

As for me, I work part-time in a preschool, which will now also be closed, because we follow the local school district.  So, I am, in effect, unemployed from now until maybe August?  I don’t think I will be eligible for unemployment, but we shall see.

I have family that also work with me, and they are in the same predicament.  However, the loss of income will likely be much harder on them than on me.  For now, my husband’s job is relatively secure, but that could change too.  If we lose his income, I don’t know how we will survive.  None of us have jobs that we can do remotely.

(Side note – our ISP limits our data to 1TB a month.  Which sounds like a lot, but really isn’t, when you have people home all day long – gaming, watching YouTube, or working.  So I’m hoping a change in that limit will be forthcoming, given that many people are hopefully going to begin working from home.)

So much going on, and so many unanswered questions.  I find myself wishing that my grandmother were still around so I could ask her questions.  She grew up during the Depression, and I know she would have so many helpful suggestions about what to do right now.

She isn’t, so I will wait, watch, and hope that things get better.  In the meantime, I will try to keep myself and my children busy so that we don’t all get cabin fever.  We are doing everything we can to keep ourselves healthy, and I hope that you are all able to do the same.

Light, love, and blessings to all of you.