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December 13th, 2018 at 09:30 am

Hope all of your holiday preparations are going well. I decorated the house for Christmas weeks ago but not our Christmas tree. I asked my guys if they wanted me to put the tree up and they declined. They said that since I am not going to be with them for Christmas, it was not necessary. I am not going to be with them for good reason. I am going to be away getting our new house ready. Furniture will be delivered then. I want to get it out of the way so that it is ready for future visits.

I've already submitted my letter to my school district that I will not be returning for the next school year. It is bitter sweet but very liberating. Having said that, I am preparing for the temporary money drought and making advanced mortgage payments for both houses. Come October of 2020, our income will increase significantly with my husband collecting early social security benefits. I am taking a three year pension deferment with a two year penalty and take my pension at 55 years old. I will continue to work part-time as I want to continue funding my Roth IRA. I still have to find out what I need to do with my work 403B.


December 7th, 2018 at 09:33 am

I spend a few days in FL as I had to do the walk through on our new home (retirement) home. We closed last night via a mobile closer. I love the house and its location. My brother was instrumental in keeping track of the contractor and the upgrades that we purchased. He lives two houses down which is one of the reason I (we) opted to purchase in this specific community. I sent him $200 for all of his help.

I am in the process of ordering things for the house including some furniture. I am opting to buy a few well done pieces at a higher price but they will last a lot longer. I am returning to FL to spend my holiday break and try to put the house together for our upcoming visits.

New season

November 22nd, 2018 at 05:21 am

I want to wish all of of you in the United States a Happy Thanksgiving. May you enjoy your love ones and some great food!

The time has come and we are expected to close on our house at the end of this month. We are super excited about this new season in our lives. This has been the plan for over 20 years and slowly but surely we are getting there. We will have to furnish the entire house but I won't be going crazy. For now the most important items are the washer/dryer, a few pieces for the living room, a dining room set and the master bedroom furnishing. The kitchen has all appliances and I've been buying kitchen utensils from a thrift store. I look for high quality stuff and sanitized them in the dishwasher. I've also accumulated (through couponing) a bunch of personal hygiene products that I will take with me on each trip. I am sticking to a budget for all items.

An update

November 16th, 2018 at 07:23 am

Our Florida home is on its last stages of construction. We locked the interest rate and I think we will close by December 15th. We've been able to save a nice amount to furnish the home and take care of the first year HOA/CDD fees. I am moving enough cash to cover the first year of mortgage as well. I am giving notice at work by December 31st that I will not be returning next school year. I have been doing some research and I am pretty confident that I can make close to $2K a month by doing substitute teaching the months I'll be in Jersey.

On another note, Mother Nature dumped significant amount of snow in our area and the state did a lousy job preparing for it. It took my son 8.5 hours to get home form work. There were so many people stranded in the highway that many people chose to abandon their cars and walk. For some people a 20 minute commute took 5 hours.

We received a check for $650 for an escrow overage for one of our rentals. On the other hand, we have a shortage on the other rental and our mortgage went up on that one. I am sending a little bit extra each month to cover escrow shortages from now on.

Letting go

October 26th, 2018 at 09:19 am

I am nervously coming to terms with the fact that a year from now, I will be giving up my nice salary. I have good and bad days at work, but more bad than good. Our plans are still in motion. I decided not to give notice at work until my husband meets with a pension adviser to make sure that he meets all the requirements to take the state pension. I keep telling myself that the money is nice but it doesn't buy happiness and happiness is a big priority at this stage of my life.
Closing should happen sometime at the end of November or early December. Smile

A little side hustle

October 20th, 2018 at 05:46 pm

I've been making my pumpkin chocolate chip muffin and made about have netted $200. Today, I made $120. It's just a little bit money to use on fun things like going out to eat, buying apples, apple cider donuts and fresh produce from the farm. I hope it continues until the end of the fall season.


October 18th, 2018 at 06:26 am

I tried to hold off to turn on the heat but we had to turn in on yesterday. It was just to cold in the house and don't want to get sick. It is in the 30s this morning. Frown

Things are going well financially and Mom went home after four months. She had glaucoma and cataract surgery and her eyes are much better. She was so excited to go home.

Financially speaking, we are chugging along and the retirement home is progressing nicely. It will (hopefully) be completed at the end of November or early December. I just downloaded a bunch of documents to explore options with my husband's pension. His pension will not be much since he's been a low earner all of his work life. Nonetheless, he is such a hard worker and at one point worked two or three jobs while I was going to school to get my degree. It was the only way we were going to get ahead financially.

Well, that's all the update I have. I hope enjoying the season of pumpkins, apples, apple cider, hayrides and much more.

Day 1 with no SODA

October 9th, 2018 at 04:38 pm

Today, I am going cold turkey trying to kick the soda habit. I succeeded today at least. Can I tell you that I already feel like I have more energy or do you think it is a product or my imagination? I have a 2 to 3 a day Coke habit. I just love everything about; the taste, the fizz and how it goes down. SmileI hate Seltzer water so that's not an option for me. I also know how bad it is for your body. The challenge will be when I have pizza; pizza and water don't mesh. Hopefully after day 21, the craving will be gone and a good habit formed. Will be alright if I post about it here?

No cc debt

September 30th, 2018 at 06:22 am

We are now credit card debt free. I used 1.6 % of our savings to pay it off. Even though we still had some time with a 0% promotional period on this debt, I could not stand the though of having debt hanging over our heads. We are now debt free except the mortgages.

I am almost certain that I will be resigning from my job by the end of the year effective 2019-2020 school year. I no longer want to tolerate the disrespect from students and the endless pressure from admins. It is time to do something else and I am so blessed to have the option to step down and figure it out. My husband is supportive as it is taking a toll on my health (stress, headaches, some anxiety and irritability).

Autumn is definitely in the air in my neck of the woods. I love everything about it!

Can I brag?

September 21st, 2018 at 03:17 pm

As many of you know, my DS#2 lives with us. He works a full time job with a very good company and makes pretty decent money for a 24 year old. Yesterday, he asked me if I could make a bank deposit for him. He went to give me deposit slip and pay checks but he told me to keep one of the checks. I asked him what for and he said to help out with the property taxes. Mind you, we don't want any rent money from him but he does contribute to the food bill. He gave me an extra $400 for the taxes. At his young age he realizes that he is blessed to be able to live at home rent free and he is definitely a good steward of this blessing. He has a nice savings account and he is definitely very generous. He takes us out to eat and helps with the yard. In the future, he would like to purchase our home from us. He loves that the house has a four car garage. He is a car enthusiast and tinkers with them in his spare time. Needless to say, I am a proud Mom.

Snow birds in the making

September 14th, 2018 at 09:42 am

Hi All, it's been a few week since I blogged. Anyway, I am back to work and I've been reassigned to another school temporarily to cover for teacher who is on Family Leave. Apparently, the district posted the job opening and they did not get any applicants due to the nature of my content area.

On another note...our house is coming up nicely with all the wall partitions completed. So here is the plan for the future.

This winter should be my last one in New Jersey as we plan to be in FL for the winter months. We thought about it long and hard and we feel that this is doable for us. Yes, it means that I will be resigning from my job and my nice salary. However, I've been unhappy with my job for a while now and the plan was that as soon as we put the kids through college, I could take a break and do something else. If everything goes according to plan, health benefits will be covered under a state pension and everything else will be covered between the pension and what we net from our rental properties. We will have an additional income coming in soon after that because my hubby plans to take social security benefits early and at a reduce rate.

Our grown son (who still lives with us) will cover the mortgage and utility bills while we are snow birding. Once I get back home to NJ, I will do sub teaching work to earn extra cash and continue contributing to retirement accounts.

I know, a lot can happen between now and then but I have faith that things will work out just fine.

Quick update.

August 27th, 2018 at 06:24 pm

This has been a spendy month. Last week, the ejector pump's alarm went off, which means that if we kept flushing toilets and using the water it was all going back up into the basement. It was a messy job for both my husband and son. Digging and locating the holding tank took good part of the day. The pump was close to $600. I'm glad, my husband is handy, otherwise we estimate that it would have cost us over $1,500 in labor alone. Disaster averted!

One of the run flats (tire) on my car went flat and is not repairable. We are replacing all four tires because there is not enough meat on the other three anyway. We are not replacing them with "run flats" again. They are super pricey at $250 per tire.

I payed off one of the two credit cards. They are both on an 0% interest rate. Another one to go. Our summer/winter getaway/retirement home is on blocks and the builder is getting ready to put the roof up. It's exciting to see the progress.

This is my last week of summer vacation. Back to the daily grind!

Car problems and Mom

August 13th, 2018 at 05:31 pm

The hot engine symbol appeared on my car and the car stalled this afternoon I did some research and it directed me to check the coolant fluid. I drive a 2013 BMW and these cars although an awesome ride, they can be tricky. A quick search on youtube yield a video on how to check and fill the chamber. We are hoping that adding coolant fluid will resolve the problem. If not, we better get ready to pay for diagnostics and mostly expensive repairs. Frown

On another note, my Mom is staying with me. She will soon undergo glaucoma and cataract eye surgery. I've notice her vision is getting worse. I also took her to the podiatrist since she is having a really difficult time seeing specialists because there are barely any podiatrists in her area. Many doctors have left the island due to the economic crisis and the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. She is ready to go home though. Financially, everything is going fine.

Emotions, deals and taxes

August 6th, 2018 at 10:27 am

Today would've been my sister's 54th birthday. For the most part, I have been dealing with her passing but it seems like I am a mess when her birth date comes along. She passed away a year and a half ago and even though she was suffering from a chronic illness, her death hit me like a ton of bricks. I've been very weepy today. I know, my emotions will ebb and flow forever as I grieve.

Any way, I've saving tons of money using manufacturer coupons and supermarket digital coupons. I am not one of those super/extreme couponers but I am learning and scoring lots of free or super reduced cost for things I use and purchase. I don't buy, just for the sake of buying. Today, I scored laundry detergent (3) and toothpaste for free and I bought vitamins for both my hubby and I for $2.49 (two packs of Centrum).

Our property taxes went up over $500 a year. We're at close to $8K a year. New Jersey has one of the highest property taxes in the nation, but a good portion of it goes to educating our children. I also benefit from property taxes, since my salary is funded mostly by local tax payers as well.

Summer quickly ending; I'll be back at work in less than a month. I'm enjoying the lazy days of summer and a work perk, I cherish.

Yay Us!

August 2nd, 2018 at 06:01 am

Well, we finally reached our savings goal! We are using some of to put 20% on vacation/retirement home, furnishing the house and buying a used car to keep there. We will have enough to cover any home repairs, loss of rental income, etc. I am super excited that hard work has paid off. Smile

The focus now will be on paying off two credit cards that are on interest free promotional. The promotional interest free period ends this coming November for one of the cards. I will be working hard to get it out of the way without touching our savings. I still have one more year on the other one.

Frugal month update

July 26th, 2018 at 07:59 am

Uber Frugal Month Challenge is coming to an end soon. In all, I can say that I've done well with the challenge. I've manage to make dinners using things already in the freezer and pantry. We've also cut down on eating out and we reserve eating out day for Sunday when we visit our favorite pizzeria. I did have to use my clothes dryer this week because of all the continues rain in my neck of the woods. I honestly can't remember when was the last time I used the dryer.

Our Florida home is progressing nicely; the builder has already laid the foundation. My brother has been sending me pictures and keeping an eye on it. I plan to send him a house warming gift once his house is completed. His house will be three houses away from ours. His house is much more advanced in the building stage.

Can you believe it is almost August? I'll be back to work in September and I'm surely going to miss sleeping in, leisurely reading books and just being lazy. Smile


July 18th, 2018 at 06:06 am

We met our final Mini Lofty Savings Goal today. If everything goes as planned, next month we will hit our final savings goal number. Meeting this goal will allow us to buy the retirement home, furnish it and buy a used car while having enough savings in the emergency fund. It's been a long road of sacrifice, intentional frugality (which can be exhausting at times), but we are finally coming full circle.

On another note, I'm obsessed with Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove romantic novels. I've read four of thirteen of the books. I, of course, have borrowed all of them from my local library. I like that can request a "large print" and they'll find it for me. My sight has been getting worse as I age Frown. I've decided to make a donation to the children's library at Christmas time.

The month of July is more than half done so I better get busy working of some things that will help me get ahead of the school year. How's your summer going?

End of fiscal year

July 15th, 2018 at 07:26 am

Our household fiscal year begins and ends on June 30th of each year. Both my husband and I work for school districts. I just calculated our rate of savings and retirement account funding and I am please to say that we lived on 40% of our total income (including rental property revenue). The forty percent includes mortgage, utilities, groceries insurance policies and a few small luxuries. I for see a drop in savings from here on since 1) my husband is earning less, 2) we will be paying on retirement home come November 3) we will spending a considerable amount of money in airfare in the coming years.As the CFO of our home, I will try to save at least 45% of our net income in the coming years. All in all, I think we are doing a good job at managing our finances.

Central Air

July 5th, 2018 at 07:34 pm

There is only one thing I miss from our previous home: Central Air Conditioning. We've been at our "new" home for nearly four years and we've been talking about installing central air. This summer, so far has been unbearable. Our upstairs floor is a literally a sauna. We have fans going and my son has a window unit in his room but I hate those things. I think we are finally pulling the plug and getting estimates on the cost of installation. We are toying with the idea of getting a ductless system but we have not decided yet. I just hope that it doesn't cost more than $10K as we are paying cash for the system. I will keep you posted.

An update

June 27th, 2018 at 07:28 am

I thought I get a week's head start on the Uber Frugal Month Challenge. I do have a little bit of spending to do (birthday gift) and airport parking to pay on Friday but I've been making an effort not to eat out. It is definitely so expensive to eat out and I can prepare dinner for fraction of the cost. I predict that I will have four no spend days this week.

Last night I was shredding a bunch of papers and I found an envelop with $40. YAY ME!!!

UFM Challenge in July

June 19th, 2018 at 08:03 am

I am joining the Uber Frugal Month Challenge at www.frugalwoods.com next month. Quiet frankly, we've been eating out too much. I have a savings goal in mind, which I am projected to reach by September. I want to push myself to complete it by August.

Anyone else joining in? If so, is there a specific reason or goal you'd like to reach?

An exciting update

June 15th, 2018 at 04:22 pm

Dear husband was able to secure another job and although he is making less it will, however, help him secure a 25 year pension with health benefits. We are so grateful and blessed.

On another note, We finally made the decision to buy a house in sunny Florida. Although, we will not be moving there permanently just yet, it will be a winter getaway and we will spend all long weekends and part of the summer there. For me, this financial move is an investment in my mental health and well-being as many of you know, I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. It is something we've been planning for years and we are finally financially prepared for this expense. We are putting 20% and our other investment properties will pay fully for this home. We will be left with an extremely healthy emergency fund. It is a new construction and I traveled a couple of times to Florida in March to select the model and all other features. We chose a specific community because my brother lives four houses down from our building site and the community has all the amenities we are looking for. I am paying my nephew to mow the lawn (very small yard) and air out the house from time to time. I am excited that our diligence and sacrifice is allowing us to do this.

I have four more days left of work and I'll be off until early September. I am looking forward to some Me time. Have a great weekend!

Life and finances.

June 5th, 2018 at 11:22 am

Two more paychecks for my hubby and he'll apply for unemployment benefits at the beginning of July. He is actively looking for work. He will have minor surgery next week and he will utilize accumulated sick time. In all, between vacation time and sick time, he is basically done.

I have one more Mini Lofty Savings Goal to go in order to meet a big financial goal. More to come on that in the coming months. I hope to be done with that by late September or early October.

We were able to get free mulch to spruce up our yard and we are almost done with the winter cleanup of fallen trees. This winter was just nasty. We loaded almost three trailers full of branches and using some of the good wood for the wood burning stove for early fall.

FB summer break!

May 26th, 2018 at 09:41 am

Don't get me wrong, I am not the envious type and I am perfectly content with my life, but I am human. What am I getting to? Facebook. I am seriously thinking of taking a summer break from FB. Just too many beautiful pictures of summer vacations, new cars, etc. I just don't wan't to get caught up feeling sorry for myself for the things that I am not doing or buying. People have the right to spend their money as they see fit whether they have the money to do it or not. With a job loss coming soon, I want to keep moving forward with our future plans and remain focus. No distractions allowed. Smile


May 11th, 2018 at 07:26 pm

I have not given you an update in a while, but I've been around reading your blogs. Two weeks ago my husband was notified that his contract will not be renewed and he will be out of work at the end of June. I am sort of relief to finally know. This job was causing a lot of turmoil and taking the peace out my home and I can say with conviction that I am glad it's over. Financially speaking, we will be just fine. I've been working on a plan for a while now and our emergency fund is extremely beefed up.

Here is the plan:

My husband will applied for unemployment benefits while looking for a job. We plan to save all of the unemployment money.

My DS#2 (who still lives with us) offered to help pay for the property taxes and homeowner's insurance. $700 a month. He has a really good job, saves a lot of his money while spending a bit of money on entertainment and car stuff. That leaves us with just the mortgage payment and household bills. We have no consumer debt other than mortgages.

I decided not to contribute to summer savings at work. My employer takes 10% of my net income to stretch my pay checks into the summer as I am a 10 month employee. That will give us an extra $775 every pay period. I will try to prepay July, August and September mortgage payments during the year if my husband does not find a job by then.

I will coupon and look for deals on groceries to keep this category in check.

No vacations, no mindless spending, etc.

On the bright side:

My income covers our monthly expenditures.

I will continue to contribute to my retirement accounts. I don't want to stop contributing because I am already behind contributing to retirement accounts.

Warmer weather is here and heating bill is at a minimum.

Mini Lofty Savings Goal #3 is fully funded.

The good and bad

March 27th, 2018 at 04:11 pm

It is a year today of my sister's passing from kidney failure complications. I'd been feeling sad for a few days now; unable to sleep well and thinking of her a whole lot. My sis was not just my sister; we were super tight and our bond was immeasurable. I miss her every day. People keep telling me that she is in a better place and as a Christian I believe she is but I don't know why it bothers me so much to hear that. Maybe because I am selfish and just want her to be here with us. I just really hate hearing that, especially when they say, "Don't cry, she is in a better place." I took the day off from work today, I could not fathom dealing with kids and coworkers. Frown

On the financial side, everything is going well. Part II of the Mini Lofty Saving Goal was completed today with our federal income tax refund. I am on to the next one. Moving to warmer pastures is still tugging at our hearts and we really want to make this happen but it will take for us to save as much money as we can.

This is for today. I hope you are all having a good week.

An update

March 22nd, 2018 at 03:46 pm

I am still at reduced hours at work. One of the schools is closed due to an electrical fire during a nor'easter. I can get used to these hours which are basically part time hours. Anyway, I've been preparing a lot more meals ready to eat after work. I mainly do this because I know I will be completely not up to it and also because DS#2 comes home after work and the guy is famished. It is definitely helping me eat out less and save money.

I am on month two of keeping track of every penny we spend and I am happy to report that it is indeed helping us spend less. Our electric bill was a bit less this month since I've been washing clothes and running the dishwasher after our provider's peek hours. I wish I can bring it down to under $100; we are just a bit over. On a side note, I hardly ever use the clothes dryer.

Mini Lofty Savings Goal Part II sits at 70% as of today. This one is taking longer than previous one but it is mainly because some money has been diverted to the mortgage principal and the Roth IRA.


March 14th, 2018 at 07:06 pm

It pays to spend some time perusing our mortgage company's website. I discovered today that we can pay the mortgage biweekly with no added fees using auto pay. By doing so, we will be making an extra mortgage payment every year. Smile


March 14th, 2018 at 07:06 pm

It pays to spend some time perusing our mortgage company's website. I discovered today that we can pay the mortgage biweekly with no added fees using auto pay. By doing so, we will be making an extra mortgage payment every year. Smile

Planned meals

March 13th, 2018 at 06:33 am

The nor'easter dumped 27 inches of snow in our area causing an electrical fire in one of the schools and as a result we are on a reduced schedule. I will be getting home much later in the day so I just know that I will be too drained and not in the mood for making dinner. So last night, I prepared three days worth of dinners for the three of us. Planning ahead will force me not to spend money on take out food.

I turned down the opportunity to earn at least $200 extra per week at work doing before care. Financially, I rather keep our frugal lifestyle than having to work more and quite frankly we are okay financially that I can turned this down. My DS#1 commented that he hopes to have the opportunity to turn down extra money someday. I told him to keep saving, investing and keep a balance in life and he may just be able to do the same.

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