We’ve been getting a lot of snow here in the beautiful state of Colorado. I really love it … until I don’t.
I should say, I don’t mind it that much. But, the cold weather has lasted longer than usual and I’m just about ready for a change.
It’s already March, so we probably don’t have to deal with it that much longer. And, by August, I’ll be ready for lower temps again.
I do love living here – the seasons, the weather, the landscape. Sooooo different from the desert of Las Vegas. God willing, I’ll never have to live there again. (Haha, I say that now. But when I’m 65 and can no longer shovel the driveway, I may just change my mind.)
February had some difficult moments with our daughter. There was an unfortunate episode that was followed by two weeks of not seeing her. I’ve never gone two weeks without seeing her.
We did still text, so it’s not like we weren’t communicating. But to go that long without seeing her face or giving her a hug was just … unusual. I didn’t feel sad or worried or even a longing to see her. Actually, I got to a point where I thought, this is what needs to happen. And I’m learning to be okay with that.
I’m learning to be okay with a lot of things, as I try to get better at managing my thoughts and feelings. Just accepting that I’m in control of what I think, and therefore what I feel, is proving to be a game changer for me. As I choose to respond differently than how I’ve done in the past, I find myself really hopeful for what the future will look like.
The income we generated in February was ideal, so March’s budget is going to be more than sufficient. I wish we could consistently bring in that much money, but … variable income. I’m just thankful for the good months, and content with the not-so-good ones.
My husband got a lot of overtime, and I got in over 12 days of subbing. Not the 15 that I always shoot for (due to snow days and a 4-day weekend), but the income is still a huge help.
We had a couple of large expenses that I didn’t plan ahead for (what else is new), but we had enough in the budget to cover them. I need to get better at planning ahead for these things. I once saw another blogger writing all of her expenses down on a calendar, and I’ve always meant to do this. Maybe I’ll try it. Having a visual could help.
What do you use? Let me know, because I still struggle with budgeting large expenses that I know are coming up in a month or two.
Okay, here’s the good and bad for February:
GOOD: My husband has gotten a lot of overtime hours in the past couple of months, and he’s schedule for a lot through April. When his checks are bigger, that means I can use more of the income I make for debt.
BAD: I didn’t get to my goal of 15 subbing days because of a snow day, a 4-day weekend, and other appointments that came up. Fifteen days equals over $2k, which is my target income every month.
GOOD: Because of my husband’s larger checks, I was able to use mine to pay off a credit card balance. This is a good thing, but I’m also a little mad because we should have never had this balance to begin with!
GOOD: We had enough in the budget to send our son to church youth camp. In my opinion, that is always a good investment!
BAD: I was reminded back in December that I still had to pay the rental fee for my son’s band instrument at school. I kept putting it off (because … well … Christmas and other things) but finally paid it in February. However, it was one of those large expenses that I kept failing to budget for, and I had to use some from March’s budget to cover the $150 fee.
BAD: I switched from AT&T to Ting as our cell phone provider a few months ago, and our bill has never been lower. But for some reason, the bill was $20 higher than normal in February (over $100). I don’t want it to start creeping up again, so I may have to start putting limits on the data.
BAD: Our electricity bill was the highest it’s been in a year – over $350! And that was without Christmas lights!
BAD: I only paid the minimum on my student loan (*again*). Part of that was because I paid off a $1,000 credit card balance. That card had the highest interest rate out of all of our debt, but now that it’s paid off, the student loan has the next highest rate. So, I need to start focusing on paying it down.
GOOD: The other day I filled up my tank (at Sam’s Club) for $1.85/gallon! I usually budget about $200 a month for gas, but in February we only spent $135! Aahhh … it’s the little things in life …
GOOD/BAD: I ended up increasing our food budget because we just kept going over. Well … we still went over (bad) – *but*, not by nearly as much. So I’ll call that good.
BAD: My husband bought 3 new pairs of pants at Kohl’s with some Kohl’s cash and a 30% coupon (those are the best!). But, he failed to remove a sharpie from a pair he’d already worn and ruined 2 of them. So, he bought two pair online and paid $100. (Why?)
GOOD: Our daughter got a full-time job that she really likes! This doesn’t directly affect our budget, but as long as she’s working and supporting herself, that’s one less person we have to pay for.
GOOD: I finally submitted a few articles to Medium, and actually made a few bucks! My plan is to ramp up my writing frequency and try to publish 3-4 a week.
GOOD: I belong to a retirement-focused Facebook group, and somebody posted a promotion for Suze Orman’s new audio book. Until the end of March, I can listen (for free!) to her newest book, titled “The Ultimate Retirement Guide for 50+” – perfect! I plan on listening to it a couple of times through, and take notes on the supplemental pdf workbook she provides with it.
BAD: Dang that coronavirus! Our 401k has dropped 10% in the last 2 weeks. Six months of building came crumbling down in just a few days. Good thing we don’t need that money for another couple of decades.
Our Savings & Debt
As I mentioned above, I was able to knock out over $1,000 on one of our credit cards. That felt really good!
But we should have never had that balance to begin with. Last year, I transferred all of our credit card debt onto a 0% card. My plan was to contain all of our credit card debt to that one card, but we failed to do that. (About half of the charges were therapist fees that weren’t covered by insurance.)
It is what it is.
And I haven’t been on track with paying down my student loan. I think because I haven’t had the extra $1,000 to put towards it, I’ve just been paying the minimum. But I need to start applying whatever extra I can, even it’s just another $50 or $100 a month. Every little bit will help.
Since budgeting with the previous month’s income, we have dipped into our savings so much less. We didn’t use any in February, which was great. We really can’t afford to use any of our savings at this point.
Our 401k was on fire for about 6 months – I loved watching that balance go up, like every day! But the whole coronavirus scare has really done a number on it the past couple of weeks. It will be interesting to see what happens between now and summer.
My husband is in the convention business, and the entire convention he was working on this week was cancelled because so many participants were Asians who couldn’t travel here for it. We’re both hoping that doesn’t continue to happen. Otherwise, all of that overtime will also be cancelled.
Despite life’s trials (that have been very heavy for my family these past 3 years), I try to remind myself how much I have to be grateful for. No, life hasn’t turned out the way I had hoped. But I’m learning to let go of expectations and comparisons and judgment, and just … be. Be present, be loving, be accepting, be aware, be available.
Our daughter sent a little video to our family group text a few days ago. She’d gotten another tattoo – a snake wrapped around her forearm, with its head inching up the back of her left hand. When I saw it, my heart sank like a rock. She’s only 18. I felt anxiety for the regrets she’ll have someday. For the permanency of her decision and how that will affect her path in life.
Maybe I’m being overly dramatic. But it’s just not what I had envisioned for her.
So, I felt those feelings for a few minutes. And then I let them go. I reminded myself: it’s not my body, it’s not my decision, it’s not my regrets, it’s not my life. It’s all hers. All I can do is choose how I’ll respond. And I want to respond in love.
Not loving her actions – loving her. No matter what she does, I want to respond in love. And I’m thankful I’ve gotten to this point in my life. That I can actually attain that place in my mind and heart, and truly be at peace with it.
She came over to the house last night, with a dog she’d just adopted. Another animal she thinks will make her happy, but she’ll ultimately neglect after a few weeks. I knew it, my husband knew it, her brother knows it. We all know the pattern of impulsiveness and irresponsibility.
And while my husband and son looked on in disapproval, I chose to be happy with her. I know this dog will probably be rehomed in a few months. I know she won’t walk it like she should, and he’ll poop in her little apartment while she’s gone all day at work. She shouldn’t have another dog.
But I’m not going to focus on that. Instead, I’m going to enjoy the time I have with her, the laughter and joy I can share with her. She’s making her own decisions, and many of them she’ll regret. But it’s not my job to make sure she knows that. She’ll figure it out herself.
In the meantime, I’m just grateful that she’s here, that she’s alive to make poor decisions, and that she’s willing to share her life with us.