Easter Weekend

We spent Easter weekend visiting my grandfather’s ranch.  Honestly, it wasn’t in my budget.  However, I can’t imagine how he feels losing his youngest child and I’m trying to spend as much time with him as I can (even though we are several states apart).  It’s good for him, it’s good for me, and it has helped my daughters with their loss as well.  Sometimes….you just have to forget the budget and do what’s right in your heart.

KamillaGrandpa
Milla and her Papa D

We all know I’m a DIYer. It’s just how I am and what I do.  So I did some DIYing for my sweet grandfather.  It’s amazing what a little paint can do.

granddad porch before
The beginning of painting the deck on my “vacation”.

The deck was worn down by weather and three different colors of paint.  Plus, random natural boards that had been replaced….something had to be done. lol

granddad porch after
Ta Da — I love after pics

It’s not a lot, but I figure if I can fix one thing up every time I’m visiting it will make a difference.  I’ll never replace my father, however, the least I can do to honor him is make his father as comfortable as possible.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter holiday and were able to spend the time with family! Remember, family is not an important thing…it’s everything! Enjoy every moment.

Death in the Family

My apologies for taking a break from the blog.  Losing a loved one is still one of the hardest things to survive.  Unfortunately, I’ve lost more than my fair share.  The passing of my father has hit me very hard.  It’s also made me go into overdrive on organizing my death as well.  It has also made me want to make people aware of some things that I honestly never knew much about until this.

  1. Power of Attorney (POA) expires upon death.  You cannot get into accounts, safe deposit boxes, etc unless your loved one has you as a joint owner or TOD (Transfer on Death) for these types of items.
  2. Have beneficiary’s listed for retirement accounts.  If you do not, it can go to the estate/probate to pay medical bills, etc.
  3. Put your property as a beneficiary deed or TOD. Do not just leave property via your Last Will and Testament only.  Many states do beneficiary deeds for property and TOD for vehicles, etc.  Check to see what states rules apply to you.
  4. Have a list of ALL of your accounts. All of them. From banking, electric, cable, life insurance, etc. If they have verbal or electronic user IDs and passwords have them as well.  Even if you just have this in your safe deposit box, it can save your family a lot of time and costs from certified copies of death certificates and jumping through hoops.  And if they can’t get it canceled or get it canceled quickly, it’s just added fees/costs taken from the estate.
  5. Mark things as sold/expired.  If you switched life insurance companies, keep the old document and mark “cancelled on…” and where you transferred to or if you didn’t transfer anywhere and were just cutting costs.  Trust me when your family is going through files and they find payments to Company A, then they go through a lot of time just to find out it was cancelled six months ago. Not fun. Very stressful.
  6. Be sure people know your plan. Not just end of life wishes, but post end of life wishes.  I have two people who have copies of my Will, my properties, and my preferences now.
  7. When you make a Healthcare POA please put a main person and a backup person.  If your main person is unable or has passed away you still have someone that can speak on your behalf and you don’t have to go through the expense nor hassle of drawing up new paperwork
  8. Be over prepared. Don’t assume anyone knows anything. I recently bought the Five Wishes book for $5.  Here’s a link to a sample. If you don’t know where to start it will help you.

I hope this helps at least one person out there.  I was unprepared for my fathers death in so many ways.  He just decided to retire and buy a home close to me so he could spend more time with his grandchildren.  Two weeks after we had a definitive plan he went into the hospital and 30 days later I was planning a funeral.  Life is short in more ways than we realize.  Take advantage of the time you have.  –SS

*FAILED!* No Spend November

Well, I made it three days in and then completely, utterly failed my No Spend November.  HOWEVER, before you shake your head and are completely and utterly disappointed in me, it was for good reasons-ish!

Frontier Airlines ran a special and I’m going to be able to take all three of my daughters to Colorado for a long weekend this weekend and the total cost for our flights? Less than $200.  Not per person, I’m talking about the receipt for the entire family.  I bought the Discount Den (good for a year and priced at $49.99) and our total came to $193.99.  That’s for me, Milla, Cici, and Baby J (who will still be a lap infant).  I was able to secure a hotel with indoor pool with views of the mountains for our arrival night, and then we’ll be staying with friends in Denver for the rest of our stay. Here’s my Frontier Airlines invoice:

frontier-invoice

Since there are always incidentals on trips, I’ve decided to postpone my No Spend month until January which may work out better for me because of Christmas preparations, etc.

I know, I know.  I totally failed. However, when things like this pop up I just can’t overlook them.  Flights for all of us are generally “cheap” in the $1,000 range for the whole family.  $200 to go somewhere we’ve never been before and for the girls to see snow for the first time? Priceless.

I’m a huge cheapskate. I penny pinch on everything.  But, this is why I do it.  So that we’re not just surviving, but still have the ability to have a good life — to thrive!  I’m bound and determined to give my girls memories and experiences they’ll cherish forever.  Along with a sense of responsibility with money and a you-can-do-it-yourself attitude.

On that note, my eldest also joined Girl Scouts this month.  I was in Girl Scouts and that service-oriented atmosphere stayed with me my whole life.  I am already impressed with our first meeting and can’t wait to see how they progress from here.  I truly think that 2017 is going to be utterly amazing for us!

So please forgive my failings and mistakes.  I’m a work in progress.  And just a reminder that we’re not seeking perfection, only improvement!

How’s everyone else doing on their No Spend November?  Did you find any leaks in your budget? Let me know!

No Spend November

Growing up I didn’t have a lot, and if I’m being completely honest, my nuclear family now actually has more. That being said, I try to have a contentious relationship with money. So when I became a sole provider I knew that it wasn’t just a big, insane life change — I knew that it would be a battle to just get by. I don’t have family nearby and even if I did, there would be no calling my parents should something go wrong and I need a loan to for car repair or other unforeseen circumstances. They wouldn’t be able to help even if they wanted to.

Therefore, I was intrigued when I read about No Spend November (especially with Christmas around the corner). It’s like a financial detox. You only spend money on necessities such as utilities, rent/mortgage, milk and eggs, gas.  I put “milk and eggs” instead of food because this is a time to use up whatever is in your pantry so you can start fresh for Christmas or 2017.

Tips for Success

If you’re struggling with specific ways to handle spending differently during your spending freeze, here are a few ideas others have found successful and I plan to utilize:

  • Track what you’re saving over the course of the month. Every time you think of making a purchase, write the number down. There’s no greater motivation than seeing that number grow larger and larger.
  • Take your credit or debit cards out of your wallet, and freeze them in water until December if you have to!
  • Take out a set amount at the beginning of the month for gas.

The Why?

The goal of a No Spend November is not perfection but progress. Remember, small steps can lead to significant changes! *cough* Small step for man, giant leap for mankind! I couldn’t help myself….

Hopefully, by December 1 you will:

  • Find ‘leaks’ in your budget
  • Have more money in your pocket
  • Have a better handle on debt
  • Find clues about your next financial moves
  • Declutter your garage (I plan to spend some of this time MAKING money as well)

I plan to entertain myself with other forms of fun and amusement so I don’t get bored. I’ll be using the time otherwise spent eating out, renting a movie, or buying home improvement items to finish some current projects. I will spend a little more time with my family, invite friends over for a cocktail and/or potluck, finish some painting, get some sewing done, and put some items in my garage up for sale on NextDoor and OfferUp.

My hope is that I can find some time to volunteer with my girls as well.  November is such a perfect month for volunteering and paying it forward.  I really want them to realize how blessed we are and how things could be so different for us. To show them how thankful we should be to have the wonderful life and opportunities we have.

That being said, they say to set up ground rules.  Mine will be very basic: no spending on anything that isn’t absolutely essential.

I’ll blog every day in November and let you know how I did, what I didn’t buy, and what I got done as I kept myself busy. I think I’m really looking forward to cleaning out the bottom of my freezer and pantry on this challenge.  I have a tendency to stock up on things when they’re close to free…so I have a lot of some of the same things! lol

I hope some of you will join in with me!  It’ll be nice to hear others encouragement or issues! Here’s to a successful No Spend November!

 

Weekend Project #5: Front Door

My front door was not in the best shape and it lacked…most everything. Buying a new door is definitely not in my budget.  It was worn down, had dark oily spots here and there, and just wasn’t that inviting.  Since the door already had fake wood paneling I opted to paint it.

img_5057
Before

I used //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=solelsurvi-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B001735FM2&asins=B001735FM2&linkId=29bc288ae07f2bb60f0fcc2853e37724&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Minwax Gel Stain in Walnut.  I put on one coat using a regular brush and also a spong brush.and let it dry and two days later I put on a second coat.

door
After

We added a wreath and voila! I think it’s much more inviting! My last home didn’t have the faux wood paneling and we had used a Rustoleum Topside Navy Blue paint.  It really shined and held up to weather! However, if you go that route try to use a different entrance as it takes time to dry. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of that door. Sorry!

Have you done any weekend projects lately?  Any ideas for me to try??

Family Update

Good morning!  Hope everyone had a fantastic weekend.  I have another weekend project for you, but I haven’t given updates on the family lately so here goes. My littlest turned seven months old!

Time is just flying by and she’s on the verge of crawling — I’d say in less than two weeks. She is holding her own bottle now, though, and wearing her walker completely out!

holding-bottle
Kicking Back at Church

I’ve been frantically spending most weekends/evenings working on the house. My father is visiting us on next week and I’d like to have as much done as possible before he arrives. However, we’ve had some fun in our spare time as well!  My old neighbor just bought an absolutely divine new home and we celebrated with a Grito de Dolores theme (Mexican Independence Day). It was an amazing evening with good friends, food, and fun. Even when you’re exhausted, it’s amazing what a few hours with some good friends will do for your mental state!

dia-de-independcia
 Tex-Mex Princesitas

Somehow we found a little time for Kamilla to practice cycling.  I’m so proud — I now have a bike rider/speed racer. lol

Work is busy. Kids are happy.  Mom is blessed. 🙂  The struggle is real, but life is good.

What makes you feel like you’re thriving?

(Long) Weekend Project #3: Patio Upgrade

I’ll be honest.  This is my FAVORITE upgrade.  I’ve been talking about doing this for a while now, but had put it on the back burner due to cost and time constraints.  However, I recently sold some free furniture that I refurbished so I had some extra cash and this seemed like the best use for it.

So when I bought this house there was a HUGE, rotting doghouse that used to be in this big empty spot that my father graciously helped me tear down.  The “mud pit” left behind has been driving me mad for months.

before-back-yard
Post Dog House 

After the last rain storm I’d had enough and decided to try and eye it out and estimate a price. This is what it looked like a couple weeks ago when I decided “it’s time”. I’m visual so I had to use the wood and see what it would look like in size afterwards. I called the dig line just to make sure I wasn’t covering/digging around anything and lucked out in that department (although my plans for the side of the house were crushed once I found out a gas line was there).

backyard-before-2
Our Beautiful Mud Pit 

I used larger four-in-one pavers since they gave me the look I wanted, but less to carry.  I also have a sandbox I’ve been trying to get rid of (what can I say, I think they’re pretty gross) so I repurposed the sand from it for this project. Getting the sand level with the existing concrete pad I was expanding on was the most difficult part.  Although, carrying the pavers was pretty cumbersome as well….

patio-during
Pavers Down Finally!!

Next, I edged with a different paver and then I filled the seems with the Paver Set Polymeric Sand in Brown/Tan (there’s a Gray option as well). My daughters had a blast being little helpers and getting it all in the crevices.

patio-after
Best Helpers Ever 🙂

Once we got most of the sand off the blocks we started the wet down/hardening process.  I have to say, we love it.  It actually turned out better than I hoped.  Our 24 hour setting period ended this morning, so I hope to put the table back out here tonight so we can have dinner on our new and improved patio this evening!

patio-after2
Almost Done!

I’m so excited to have some real backyard living space now. Life is good!!  Please note, I do plan to seal it at some time in the future, but we haven’t done it yet.  More pictures to come later!

Did you get any big projects done over Labor Day weekend?