Monday, December 28, 2015

2016 Garden Planning

I'm starting to receive seed magazines in the mail so it brings me to planning for next year.  Every year since we've lived here, I've set a goal of planting at least 2 perennial plants.  Some have made it and others haven't but I keep going because the planning, planting, pampering and seeing if it took is an exciting part of the gardening process for me.

Two years ago I planted two apple trees, Sweet Sixteen and Honeycrisp.  The Honeycrisp died last year so I plan to replace that.  My strawberries and raspberries were doing very well last year so I'm hoping they come back.  Two years ago we planted honeyberries (similar to a blueberry but don't require acidic soil) and they are doing well.  Our asparagus patch was doing exceptionally well last year also so I hope I'm through the worst with that.  The hardest part is establishing the asparagus patch.  We also planted currants last year that were doing well.  We already have established plum trees here and I planted mulberry trees a few years back.

I've tried planting goji berries and they died the first year, prior to winter even.  I've also tried planting hardy kiwi but that didn't make it.  I tried planting black raspberries and the plants lived but never produced any fruit.  Maybe I will still get something from that.

This year I am thinking I would like to try planting cherries and blackberries.  We love blackberries and they are expensive.  I found a blackberry grower who swears his plants are good to zone 2 so they should be good here.  I'm willing to give it a try.  Our neighbors have a beautiful cherry tree that inspired me to plant a cherry tree.

I'm still tossing around the idea of planting goji berries.  They are supposed to be very healthy and should grow here.  I've also toyed with the idea of planting grapes but I think those are more labor intensive.

Thoughts?  Ideas?  Suggestions?  Any other zone 3/4 gardeners out there?

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas Eve!!

I'm curled up on the couch with Lil G watching cartoons.  Y took Punk into town with him so we could take a nap.  Lol.  He knows what makes me happy.  We are going to go sledding behind the four wheeler when he gets home.  Then we will have crab legs and ravioli for dinner.  We will open gifts after that.

My boss usually gives me a cheesy Christmas decoration that I usually regift or donate.  This year she gave me Quelf, the party game.  I plan on bringing it with tomorrow to my in-laws house.  We should have a good time with it.  I love games and I wish she would just gift a game every year instead of decorations if she plans on a gift.

We're still processing the diagnosis.  Hard decisions are in the future.  As the most responsible kid in his family, Y will have to step up and help with many decisions and executions.  My job will be to support all of them.

Merry Christmas to all my blogging friends!   Give your loved ones an extra hug or two today if you can :)

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Careful What You Wish For

I think we finally got a diagnosis for my father-in-law.  It sounds like he has ALS.  I didn't realize that the prognosis is that terrible for ALS but it is.  3 years on average.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

2015 Goal Update

I'm able to call success or fail on all but one goal for this year.

  • Increase retail account to $50,000--fail.  As of last month is was 44,380.  I've added about $800 this month but it won't reach 50k.
  • Keep grocery budget to $600 a month--fail!  Closer to $700
  • Pay off pick-up--Yes!!  The last of our consumer debt!!
  • Increase retirement account to $150,000--not sure till I get my end of year statements but probably pass--was at $152,366 on 12/1.
  • Save $1000 in cash--pass!!
  • Pay $1000 to mortgage every month--pass!!  I actually increased this to $1110 this summer so we will have it paid when Y is 58.
  • Run a 5k--Success!!  I so wanted to quit running but my goal was to run it, not walk/run.
  • Get to and maintain weight of 130--fail!!  I'm currently at 137-138 and I've stepped up my efforts.  I feel better at 132.
  • Go camping 2 times--pass
  • One date night or lunch per month--didn't keep track but prob fail
  • Plant 2 new trees, shrubs, nuts or berries -- yes!  We planted raspberries, more strawberries, and black currants for perennials
Overall, I'm happy with the year.  We hit most of our financial goals and most of the personal goals.  Most of all, it was a fun year as a family.  I look forward to 2016!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Payday Financials

I'm so thankful today is payday.  I've felt completely disorganized as of late.  With the exception of groceries and household items, I feel like I've been a very busy beaver spending money.  I suppose that Christmas is the main culprit but I was feeling like it would never stop.  I also had booked our hotel for our trip in January and that was still sitting on our credit card (only for a week but still).

The main reason that I feel out if control with Christmas is because I don't have a total budget.  I know about what I want to spend on people and I shop with that in mind.  If something is more and is the prefect gift, I move on to find the perfect gift in my price range.  I buy seafood for Christmas dinner and baking supplies for 2-3 Christmas goodies/cookies.  I should probably have a total budget and save for it throughout the year but I've never done it that way.

I paid the credit card today to the tune of $2300.  We saved $500 in our investment account, $200 to the car fund, $1000 to regular savings and $500 for the beef purchase later this month.  I actually have no idea how much the beef will cost, hoping less than $1000.

We finally for the bill for our property taxes, $2770 for the year with our property assessed at $240,000.  It's worth about $100,000 more than the assessed value.  I was complaining to Y about the amount and he reminded me that we used to pay $4800 annually for a house assessed at $175,000.  OK, I guess $2770 isn't bad but I don't have that amount in the escrow savings account so I will need to dip into our regular savings.

I want to get a better grip on our finances.  I don't like waiting until payday to just pay everything and call it good.  I need to know where all of our money is going.

How do you budget for Christmas?  Do you save a bit monthly?

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Funny Story

On Friday at 5:10, I'm driving home eagerly because I have guests coming over in less than 2 hours.  I pass by the grocery store and remember that they're having a one day seafood sale and I had planned to get seafood for Christmas.  I swing in and plan to be quick about it.  We get in the first door and Lil Punk wants money to give to the red kettle.  I dig out a dollar.  She starts to whine about how she wants to give change.  I pull out a cart and put my purse in it.  I start to dig in my wallet for change so Lil G can give something so.  Lil G takes off running through the doors and turns for the cashier's.  I tell Punk to run after him.  She does but he is gone.  This is scary to me.  I push my cart through the doors and leave it.  I start sprinting after my kids.  As I run through the cashiers stations, I totally wipe out.  Thankfully, my kids stop to actually laugh loudly at me.  I fell hard and it hurt.  As I got up, one of the cashiers asked me if I was hurt.  I replied with a yes, grabbed my kids, and went back to retrieve my cart.  Several people were around and saw it all happen. I just marched my kids back to the seafood, grabbed what I wanted, paid and got the heck out of there.

My one knee is so bruised today.  I'm reminded that I should not run after my kids in my dress shoes.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Challenge Failed

I mentioned that I'm having friends over tomorrow.  I'm having a game night and I invited 3 families over.  I went grocery shopping today and spent $85 for a total of $142 for a 10 day period.  I bought enough fresh fruits and veggies to last us the next week so I won't have to go again until after the 15th.  I knew that I was likely going to go over but I choose to always have food and drinks for my guests.  I bought plenty of fresh veggies and made artichoke spinach dip, veggie pizza and lil smokies in BBQ sauce.

Would you have failed your own challenge or would you do what I did?  Snacks and appetizers are just not optional when we're entertaining.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Saturday Update

This is our menu for the week:
Today:  steaks, potatoes, and spinach salad
Sunday:  veggie pizza, jalapeƱo poppers and chicken bites
Monday:  spaghetti
Tuesday:  wild rice soup
Wednesday:  pork loin, quinoa, corn
Thursday:  homemade pizza
Friday:  shredded beef sandwiches--we are having friends over for a game night.  I will probably make a couple snacky appetizers also.

I'm about three fourths done Christmas shopping.  I have done most of it online but I actually need to go shopping for a couple presents.  I don't stress at all about Christmas anymore.  What gets done is great, what doesn't isn't a big deal.  I had three holiday parties this past week and I love seeing everybody.  I was reminded how much I love socializing.

We've had a wonderful day today.  We made a batch of cookies.  We went sledding behind the four-wheeler for a couple hours.  We didn't have this much snow last year so we definitely enjoyed playing in it.  I also took a nap with Lil G while Y took Lil Punk grocery shopping.  They spent a total $57 which leaves us $43 until the 15th.  We should be fine with that for our regular household spending.

Have a good week!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Little Grocery Challenge

I'm challenging myself to only spend $100 on groceries and other household items until December 15.  We need to eat down our pantry and freezer anyway.  We will be doing some Christmas baking but I have the ingredients for white chocolate macadamia nut cookies.   If I make one more kind, I will likely call it good.  We don't need 15 different kinds of Christmas goodies.

I booked our Mexico hotel today.  I got a 5 star all-inclusive hotel for $1218 for 5 days.  Since we used credit card points to book our airfare, this is our only cost thus far for our 5 day Mexico trip.  I'm so excited!!!

Anybody want to join me on a little grocery challenge?

Moving Forward into 2016

I've struggled with direction and motivation since becoming debt free besides our mortgage. I have a huge goal of saving $50,000 in 2016 outside of our work retirement plans.   I want to focus on investing in dividend stocks.  I will be posting at least monthly so you can see our progress.

The other piece of information I've been anxiously awaiting is how much our property taxes will be for this year.  The property taxes aren't due until February 1st but they always have the information out some time in December.  Our tax abatement for building a new house expires this year.  They have been around $650 previously and I'm expecting around $3000.

We have some upcoming expenses so I won't be saving any more money this year.  We are getting a half a beef and half a pig.  I have also yet to book our hotel for Playa del Carmen in January.  Plus we have Christmas on top of it all.  Very expensive!!

My FIL finally got out of the hospital after a week.  He's on some painkillers for bad headaches but he's getting better.  It's a slow process but he's moving in the right direction.  So relieved!!