Emergency Preparedness, No Buy/Low Buy, Retirement Journey

April’s Financial Results. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

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Last month I wrote about how I’ve decided not to continue with my ‘No/Low buy year’ and that I didn’t want to feel ‘punished’ by having to control my spending. I was positive I could keep my impulse spending in line. After all, it had been 3 months of diligent tracking and holding back.

Obviously, 3 months was not enough to change my spending ways.

I went into impulse spending mode as soon as I pressed send on that blog post. Good grief. How do I fix that?

Although I will not be going back to the No/Low spend rules as they are, per se, I will continue to track and post my expenses on this blog weekly. That should put a pause on ridiculous impulse spending knowing that I will have to share it with all of you. Let’s hope that works! 🙂

On with April’s financial results. (Be warned. The numbers aren’t pretty. 😦 )

  • Groceries: $1,097.75 (Meat and pantry stock up – I now have a full freezer of meat and veggies and canned supplies.)
  • Eating Out: $122.34
  • Miscellaneous: $87.79
  • Coffee Beans: $80.00 (On sale and stocked up for 3 mos.)
  • Household/Personal Care: $944.74 (Stocked up on all household and personal care products for a year)
  • Hair cut and color: $100.00
  • Clothes & Accessories: $173.06 (I don’t even remember what I bought. 😦 )
  • Pets: $110.51 (dog food and treats)
  • Home/Car Maintenance: $1,343.00 (new electric lawn mower and power washer)
  • Gasoline: $142.17 (trip to NY and high gas prices 😦 )
  • Mom: $1,092.00 (a new IPAD, dinners, etc. to help pass the time now that my Dad is in a nursing home. 😦 )
  • Gifts & Holidays: $458.00 (Several birthdays, Easter, Hosting)
  • Charitable contributions: $202.23
  • Road trips/vacation deposits & travel accessories: $673.00 (This is where a lot of the impulse came in. Ugh. 😦 )

Grand total for April: $6,626.59

Adding it all up made me a little sick. That’s a lot of spending for just one month. However, not all of the spending was bad. We wanted to prep a bit by way of stocking up on household and food items. We also wanted to get rid of the gas-powered tools and switch to electric. And, since my Dad went into a nursing home, making my Mom’s life a little easier was worth every penny.

However, the overspending on holidays, birthdays, travel accessories (a new suitcase and such), was a bit over the top.

I’m reigning it in for May. There are a few expenses that are out of the ordinary, but for the most part, I should be able to get back on track. You’ll see it in my first May budget report.

How was your April?

Emergency Preparedness, Goal Setting, Retirement Journey, saving money

How I saved almost $45,000 in 6 months.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is pexels-photo-2068975-1.jpeg(In case you were wondering, I stopped blogging for a while so the robo boomer haters would stop commenting. Life is stressful enough without reading such garbage. BUT, this is my happy place, where I can talk about all things money and I wanted to continue to document my journey to retirement, financially speaking. Besides. There are way more nice commenters than mean, so I’m back. 😉 )

There are many ways the present pandemic has changed my life, but none so significant as the way I look at money.  After all these years, I thought I had it down. I didn’t. I’m still learning.

After my husband’s salary took a 10% pay cut, and many employees were furloughed, I started to realize that we may have to retire earlier than we’d like. It changed how we looked at our preparation for retirement, and how we would change the way we handled our money going forward.

We wanted to save money….FAST.  And we did.  $45,000 in six months.

How did we save $45,000 in six months?

Here is my breakdown by categories:

TRAVEL/VACATION ($11,942.00)

The pandemic cancelled our Anniversary trip.  We had prepaid all of the trip, so all of the money that has been returned to us went straight into savings.  Unfortunately, the airlines decided they needed our money more than we did, so they kept $3000 for future flights (to be used by December, 2021). The cruise lines had no choice but to refund the money on trips they cancelled.

Our anniversary trip was expensive.  We had hotels, airfare, cruise, etc. Our total refunds for that trip totalled $9,000.

Because cruising has taken a huge hit during this pandemic, and the unlikely chance our Disney cruise would be “normal” by May, 2021,  I decided to cancel our family cruise.  I received our deposit back in the amount of $2,942.00.  It, too, went straight into savings.

CAR REPAYMENT ($12,000.00)

We purchased a car for my son while he was in college with the assumption that he would pay us back as soon as he started working.  I’m proud to say he is now gainfully employed as an Ensign in the Navy.  And I am equally proud to say he paid us back every penny (in record time, I might add).  We deposited that $12,000 directly to savings.

MONTHLY SAVINGS. ($15,000.00)

I’ve been able to save $2,500 monthly based on salary and expenses.  (the 10% pay cut didn’t occur until May.)

OTHER SAVINGS ($6,000.00)

The rest of the money came from saving on our usual spending categories:

There have been monthly expenses that have increased.  Food for instance.  The cost has been ridiculous.  But by saving in other areas, it has not busted my budget, thankfully.

We also did a few home projects totaling $1,500.00. In fact, I’m typing this blog in my new ‘yoga/office room’.  🙂 I’ll write about these projects in another post.

$45,000 added to our other savings gives us almost a years’ worth of expenses.  We are comfortable with this.  However, we will be very selective about how we will spend future money.  Our plan is to send most of the extra money to pay down our mortgage, leaving us some for fun.

Although we still have the travel bug, we will start up again with small, weekend trips.  Cruising is no longer appealing as long as they have ‘pandemic’ procedures in place.  I mean really, who wants to have their temperature taken every day and wear masks on a cruise ship?  Really?

Anyway, that’s how we did it.  How did the way you handle money change during the pandemic?  Please share!



Covid-19, Emergency Preparedness, job loss, Retirement

Playing the ‘what if’ game if we lost our income.

apple business computer connection
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It’s no secret that it’s a huge mess out there.  This health crisis has caused so much loss, both in life and security.  My heart breaks for all those who have lost loved ones.  We lost a very good friend, not from Coronavirus, but from not going to the hospital when an emergency surgery was needed because they feared contracting the virus. A ton of missteps by both health workers and the family members.  But that’s not what this post is about.

I want to talk about the economic mess.  Many people have been furloughed without pay, or let go completely from their jobs.  Many small businesses have closed.  Unemployment is at an all-time high. Stimulus checks won’t be enough, and the government can’t keep printing money.  It will render cash worthless.  A recession may soon follow if we all can’t get back to work.  But we can’t go back too soon, or we will be right back to the health crisis.  It’s definitely a conundrum.

My husband, fortunately, has kept his job so far, but we are aware that he could lose it.  No job is safe, in my opinion.

So, we decided to play the ‘what if’ game.  What if my husband lost his job tomorrow?  What steps would we take?

This morning we sat down at the kitchen table and started listing in order what we would do if he were to be let go tomorrow.


  1. Apply for unemployment.  It won’t cover anywhere near his normal paycheck, but it will be something.  Virginia is in the top 10 for top balanced fiscal budgets and Virginians aren’t having a problem receiving it.
  2. Hoard money.  Stop paying for gifts, subscriptions, clothing, personal spending, travel (obviously). Eat from pantry, freezer and fridge.  No need to worry about credit cards, car loans — I’m debt-free.
  3. Look for another job.  This may be difficult for several reasons.  Timing and age.  It’s not the best time to find a job, and our age would make it nearly impossible, however, our area has many more jobs than most, and I’m pretty confident that we both could get some type of work in our field.  (We aren’t that old, but old enough. 😉

In a couple of months:

  1. Sell home (if not able to find employment).  This area is very expensive, and real estate is ridiculously expensive.   We have a very strong housing market, even during Covid-19.  We would sell our present home and buy a much smaller one in a less expensive area outright. (No mortgage for us!)  We already researched this, and there are three areas we would consider: Southern VA, North Carolina and Florida.  We could possibly walk away with $230,000 in surplus.
  2. Sell one of our cars.  If we decided to retire from paid employment, we would definitely not need to support two SUVs.  This would save us almost $3,000 a year in expenses.
  3. Cash in my pension account. We would only do this once I turn 59 1/2, (which is one year from now) and only if it were necessary.

Down the road…..

  1. Take Social Security at 62. If my husband lost his job today (at 56), we would have to live off the proceeds of our cash savings and real estate surplus until we could tap into retirement plans at 59 1/2.  That is 2.5 years.  Our investments would grow to a nice sum, but we would only pull 3% out to make it last more than 30 years.  This would create a small shortfall, so we would start social security at 62.   We will have more than enough for one nice trip a year as well.
  2. Find part-time jobs.  If we did move into a smaller home in a new area, we both would look for fun part-time jobs to supplement our time and income. (I have my eye on working at a golf-club – when they reopen, of course.)

Our current plan (before a lay-off):

  1. SAVE MORE MONEY IN CASH.  We are fortunate to have some savings, equity in our home, and a good retirement portfolio.  However, we do realize that we are a bit short on available cash and only have enough to see us through for 6 months.  I would like to see that grow to at least 9 months to feel secure in a layoff situation.

Of course if my husband keeps his job, which I hope he will, we’ll have a different financial plan.  It’s just nice to know what to do ahead of a crisis, instead of being blind-sighted by it.

Hope you are all doing well and staying safe.


Emergency Preparedness

Fearful of a pandemic? 15 Ways to Prepare.

brown and white bear plush toy
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A possible pandemic for the United States?  Don’t fear it, prepare for it.

15 Simple Tips to Help you Stay Safe and Prepare for a Possible Pandemic

  1. Keep a stash of cash in your home in case you can’t get to a bank, or ATMs are down.
  2. Create an area in your home to store extra food and supplies.
  3. Make a list of your favorite foods and non perishables and stock up.  Choose long lasting storage items such as canned fruits, veggies and meats (i.e. tuna, chicken). Have enough on hand to be able to eat for at least two weeks.  A month would be better.
  4. Don’t forget comfort items such as your favorite chocolates.  You must never run out of chocolate kisses. 😉
  5. Keep a month’s worth of bottled water in storage.
  6. Keep a 90 day supply of prescription medications.  Include over the counter medications and a first aid kit as well.
  7. Keep extra candles, flashlights and batteries on hand.
  8. Stock up on soap and hand lotion.  (You should be washing your hands more often than ever before).
  9. Stock up on Clorox, disinfecting wipes and household cleaners.
  10. Purchase N95 face masks if available.  3M is working overtime to make these, but they are currently unavailable on Amazon.
  11. Don’t forget your beloved pets!  Stock up on food and meds for them as well.
  12. Stay away from large crowds.  Go for nature walks instead.
  13. At work, keep a pack of lysol wipes at your desk.  Wash your hands before and after eating.
  14. Don’t sell stock, buy it!  If stock market is crashing, it means stocks are on sale. 😉
  15. For now, avoid overseas travel if you can.  If you must travel by plane, don’t forget to wipe down seats, trays and anything else you come in contact with.  Wash your hands as soon as you get off.

Extra tip:

  1. Above all, don’t panic.  Once you have the above in place, relax.  Wash your hands, exercise, and eat well.  The majority of the coronavirus cases had successful outcomes.  Just as most survive the flu, most are surviving this virus.  Thanks to our wonderful medical researchers and medical professionals, I believe there will be a vaccine soon to alleviate the fear soon.

Check here for more information.

Please comment if you have more ideas! 🙂