Tag Archives: family

Week 84: Thanksgiving!

Monday, 20 November 2017

The holiday is upon us, and we both have the whole week off!  We are visiting relatives on Thursday, but having the immediate family over on the Saturday afterwards – various family members work, and so this is our compromise.

Thanksgiving is a strange holiday in some ways, and in other ways it is one of the best.  There is no one person to be celebrated, as on a birthday, nor any religious connotations.  Instead, it is a holiday which includes all.  To remember with gratitude the good things in life – health, family, friends, love, peace – and realize that little is needed in reality – is a good thing.  It reminds us to be humble and grateful.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone!

Monday 102: Getting Ready for a Big Trip


Monday, 24 July 2017

Vacations are things we all need.  Time to get away.  Time to spend with family and friends.  Time to create memories.  And, vacations do cost money.

A lot of people will tell you that spending a lot of money on a vacation is okay.  Others will shake their heads at costs.  The fact is, everyone will have a different idea what is okay and what is not okay to spend on a vacation.  And you have your own ideas – as do I.  The key factor is to allocate the funds – appropriate funds – for those times you go on vacation.

This year – at the end of this week in fact – we are heading out for a two-week road trip.  Usually we do this by ourselves, but this time we are travelling with my husband’s parents.  One of the goals of this trip is to visit places involved in family history – to see places that great grandparents once roamed, to see where they lived.  There are family photos from the 1870s, and these places important to family history still stand, important in both local and national history as well.  Another goal is to simply see parts of the country we have visited before, and to take the in-laws places they have always wanted to see.  As we all age, these memories become important.  Safety and comfort are also important.

What are the costs going to be?  Somewhat more expensive than I would like, but by the same token I cannot be in charge of everything and make every decision!  Of course I will have some say – but this trip, more than anything, is for my in-laws.  We will stay in B&Bs and historical hotels in various national parks.  Altogether, I have about $6000.00 dedicated to this trip.

Monday 111: Taking a Day (or Two) Off

Monday, 22 May 2017

After a crazy week at work, I decided to kick back and do nothing too hard.  Instead, I am spending it with family and friends, doing things I enjoy, and not thinking overly hard about frugality and its place in life.  The weekend will be filled with cheap and / or free thrills that won’t be impinge upon the finances more than a couple of bucks!

Monday 145: Frustration & Inspiration


Monday, 26 September 2016

The end of summer means the end of sunshine, shorter days, cooler weather, and increasingly longer nights.  Time change occurs with the end to daylight savings . . . and I come home in the dark.  With three days a week running nearly 11 hours, including commute time, and 30 minutes to snarf down lunch without interruption (if I am lucky), it is easy to become a bit melancholy.  Being outdoors during the day becomes really important as it does change attitudes.  Luckily, I am not prone to depression, nor do I live in the far northern latitudes, and we are not hemmed in with blizzards and ice.  Still, the end of the year is always a bit of a downer because of less money in September and October from summer’s shorter work hours, and the looming of property taxes being due in December, and again in April.  When we were really underwater with a second property, it was a real scramble to find money for anything.

We sold the second property, which gave us more money, a good tax refund, and the opportunity to pay off some big bills.  Did we?  No.  Instead, we spent it on a long vacation.  Do we feel guilty about it?  I suppose we could, but that is over and done with, and we had a good time.  Mentally, we were not on the frugal wagon.  Emotionally, we were just worn out.  I was more worn out than the DH simply because he didn’t want to discuss it, didn’t want to join in the discussion, and only complained.  However, when I put my foot down about the second property and said, “We’re done!” he took some notice.  I think that is when our attitude change toward our money began, even if we didn’t handle it too well.

Getting rid of the second property was a good thing.  Even it had its trigger point.  Prior to selling the second property, we were giving $100 / month to a brother leading a derelict life.  When I found myself teetering and feeling guilty about spending that $100 on glasses for the DH versus the brother, I knew something was really wrong.  That’s when the bro was cut off.  He did nothing to earn money, he had a nasty attitude, and the last word in his vocabulary was “Thank you.”  He wanted money even when he came to live with us, and was pissed off when I got $110 / month from the county to house him since he was indigent and I didn’t give it to him.  The idea was he would stay with us and look for work.  Did he?  No.  He spent the first three months just reading science fiction books and smoking on the patio.  DH wouldn’t come out of his office at all.  Altogether, this was a pretty dark space.  And, we never heard a “Thank you” at all.  After five months, we gave him four weeks notice, and he could only curse us for our charity.

I pity my brother.  He died without anyone caring too much; he alienated both friends and family.  I expect I was the least charitable of the lot as I did not have a positive attitude about him for years.  He did not make it easy to like him, though, and was capable of holding grudges for decades.  He smelled, he had no manners, and he stopped trying to improve his lot in life, which, to me, is the saddest statement of his life.  It is also the frustration I have when I look at him – I could not save him.  He died a year ago, and I still wrestle with my feelings about him and people like him.  Yes, it is easy to say there was nothing I could do – which is true, I tried – but he did not want do anything for himself.

In reality, we have had our own hard lessons about money.  We still do.  We have to decide to implement change and to stick to that desire through thick and thin.  Fortunately, we do have a good income and decent jobs, but if something did happen, we would lose a great deal.  I expect family would help us out, though some would say we were fools – even my brother, if still alive, would tell me we were financially foolish!  (He did while he told me was given a $30,000 credit line on a credit card which he had no intentions of paying off!!)


Change is not easy.  It can seem impossible.  It is frustrating to reign in spending and say “No!” when you are used to ignoring the consequences.  In those darker times, inspiration is the guiding light.  We have paid off one credit card.  We are our own inspiration – we know we can do it.  That is so empowering.  Besides this, reading about other people’s financial paths is also inspirational – we are not alone in our failure, nor in our success.  We all need a light, a refuge, for financial pain or other pain.  This is where we learn and grow.  And this is also where we can help others without ever knowing it.

My brother gave me a gift.  The gift is to remember the value of our lives, and to not give up on ourselves, no matter how frustrated or angry we may be with our situation.  Others do the same.  Life is strange in that way, filled with dichotomy and humor.  The gods do laugh at us, and it never hurts to laugh at ourselves as well – it makes it so much easier to get up, dust ourselves off, and move on with life.

Monday 176: Entertainment


Monday, 15 February 2016

With the focus of getting things paid off, what do you do when your family wants to get together and do something?  Me, I say family is important . . . so go along with it, and reciprocate when you can.  It is not the cost – it is the connection.  People do not live forever, so it is important to have memories, even if they fall outside of “the budget.”

A couple of weekends ago, my in-laws suggested a whale watching excursion in the local channel.  We agreed, knowing they would not expect us to pay them back.  We decided that we would pick up the tab for pizza once home.  With 5 people paid for out of their let, it seemed only fair to pick up the tab.  And so we did.  However, I will admit I was rather surprised, but not surprised, by the final bill.

Entertainment does not have to cost much.  Most of the time, our entertainment is free.  We take the dogs out for walks, watch movies on Netflix and Amazon Prime (we do pay for those every month), and play board games.  Sometimes we take a long day trip (gasoline costs money) to see a favorite or new part of the world.  Or visit friends.

Our hobbies are also our entertainment.  The other half likes brewing beer, building rockets, and a few other things.  Yes, there is cost.  For me, entertainment includes photography, hiking, and various rather artsy-craftsy things.  Costs are here, too.  These costs are usually rather minimal, but sometimes they do get expensive.  However, hobby costs are factored in every month as we both know sorta what we might need.  For instance, in beer brewing, there is always a need for fresh yeast – $10.00 or so – and perhaps some specialty malt.  Maybe another $10.00.  Having a roll of colored film developed only is $5.00.  Not a biggy, either.  The big costs are usually hardware based, such as working on a new brew rig.

The expression “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” is very true.  Being dull is being bored and boring.  Why yawn your way through life when you can sing and dance or chase butterflies for a few bucks?