Learning to Take Financial Control

Growing up, my family didn’t have much money. Vacations consisted mostly of the five of us (my two sisters, myself and my parents) loaded into the station wagon, luggage in the back and driving to Florida or North Georgia or somewhere else within the limit of time that we could put up with each other. I don’t remember my parents ever talking about saving money, I didn’t get an allowance and I was never taught anything about planning for retirement or investing or any of that stuff. It’s funny because I started working as soon as it was legal for me to do so, right at 15 or 16, and I started spending my money as I made it, saving a little here and there but mostly just buying what I wanted or contributing to groceries or, once I had my car, saving for the insurance premiums.

So when I got married at 20, as he was older than me, I thought he knew how to handle money because of his age and expected experience. Boy was I wrong! Didn’t realize I had married a big spender with big dreams and a very modest income. In the end, before I walked out, I was working two jobs just to keep our heads above water and he was spending as fast as I could make it. When I would bring up concerns or beg him to stop spending or demand to know what this or that charge on our credit cards were, or when I tried to set a budget or adamantly refuse to apply for another loan or credit card, the ex was very good at making me feel like I really didn’t understand finances. He would try talking me into things, bullying me, and guilt-tripping me. And I admit, y’all, that there were lots of times when I questioned whether I knew what I was talking about or not.

But here I am, left his carcass over 2 years ago, all my bills paid on time every month, some money in the bank and I’ve even taken the money I got from our house sell and invested some of it. I’m not rich by any means, but I have an awesome credit score and I don’t have this gnawing ache in the pit of my stomach when I get the mail every day or the phone rings or I go grocery shopping. I don’t have a running total in my head to make sure I have enough to buy food. So obviously my instincts were good, and I’m learning more about how to plan ahead for the future and balance what I need or want now for what I need and want later.

The cool part about this is that I am learning to dream for things I want again. Vacations that I never thought I’d be able to afford (and I’m talking like a week at Disney not a two month long European cruise) are not only possible, they might actually happen more than once in my life. Things that I never allowed myself to think about buying or doing, are within my reach if I’m careful and plan. That’s such an awesome feeling! I don’t want so much money that I don’t need anyone or anything. But I am happy to have self-confidence in my abilities to deal with my finances and occasionally spring for something a little more self-indulgent.

I love feeling like I can help people who need it without depriving myself of my own needs. Not that I minded in the past but it’s nice to not constantly worry about it anymore. It’s nice to know that I’m not crazy or a little (and this might not be PC so forgive me if it offends because I’m not trying to) slow and can’t understand basic finance stuff. It’s nice to have the validation that I can take care of myself, mostly, and that just because I’m younger than some people, maybe not as experienced, or I’ve never had enough money to think about whether to invest in the stock market or put it in a CD that I can learn and take control and be in the driver’s seat and come out okay in the end. I will admit that I’m grateful to know how to do without and count every penny, but I’m also grateful that I don’t have to be quite that careful anymore…at least for now. Life is always subject to change. lol


Celebrating the Close of a Long Chapter

Ok so I left my husband in May of 2015 and hadn’t gone back to that house except to move some things when I got an apartment in July and to drop something off. Both of those times were within the first couple of months after I left. We finally had it out and he bullied and dared me into filing for divorce in May of 2016. It was final in September and in the divorce agreement, he had agreed to buy me out of the marital home, and I would no longer be responsible for any money going towards that house. He was supposed to buy me out by the end of the year (2016).

Well he had a couple of health issues, and I am not an unfeeling person so I made some payments to help him out until the time he said he would not only be able to take over all expenses with the house but get me the money to buy me out. One thing I will say for my ex is he is a very smooth talker…a born salesman. He will make you believe just about anything and feel sorry for him with the best sob stories. But it’s all BS and eventually people figure that out. When I called him on his bluff and told him I wanted the house to sell as he hadn’t been able to buy me out (as was the agreement in writing), he first tried asking for more time (which I wouldn’t agree to), then he started to threaten me and get nasty. I wasn’t going to throw him out of his house! (Ironic since when he wanted money from me it was “our house”.)

I had been nothing but reasonable. I think helping him out with payments about 9 months after I was supposed to was more than generous, but as long as we owned the house I was still tethered to him and that wasn’t the arrangement we had agreed to. I pointed all of this out in an email and said that technically, if I pushed and wanted to be nasty back, I could ask the court to force him to reimburse me for what money I had put in since the divorce. That’s when he hit the roof and decided to try to bully me more. I was ‘trying to destroy his life’ and ‘stealing’ from him. I was not going to get any more money out of him. I was not going to force him out of his home. I would get my money when he had it and not before!

So I hired a lawyer. I had let him sweet-talk, bully, threaten, override, walk-over, and push me around all of our married life and he was still trying to do it. No more. I was not going to be pushed around anymore, and I was going to force him to give me what he promised just once in the time that I had known him. I called his bluff and, even though my lawyer informed me that I had the right to ask for more if I wanted it, I kept my demands to what we had agreed to and to be reimbursed for the money I had put in after the divorce. I would have let that go without resentment or anger if he had simply been reasonable and done as we agreed.

Well the end result is that yesterday the house sold, my half of the money plus what I had put into that house since the divorce is being wired to me today and I am finally free. We had no kids thankfully, so I have no reason anymore to fear him, talk to him, take his calls or emails. I’m closing the book on a very painful and long section of my life and it’s looking nothing but up! I feel lighter…a weight has been lifted and so much of my stress is gone. While I’m not rich by any means, I have a little nest egg for emergencies and to invest for retirement or what-have-you. I admit that I’m honestly thinking of taking a nice vacation as well. I’m happy and feel like I could fly.

Moving…Pros, Cons and Tips

So here I am about to move again, my third time in less than two and a half years. So I’ve learned a few things about moving. Mostly that it’s extremely stressful. No matter how far or how close you are moving, all your stuff has to go with you. Which has led me to keep cleaning stuff out so that I don’t have a ton of stuff to move.

I’ve gotten great at packing. I use towels and clothes to wrap some valuables so that I don’t spend as much on bubble-wrap and other packing materials. I’ve learned that making friends with the custodians/janitors/environmental services (whatever you call the clean up crew where you work) will get you help with finding boxes from work so you don’t have to buy them. I have found that the absolute best solution for moving hanging clothes, your shoes and other closet paraphernalia is to buy a couple of wardrobe boxes. If you haven’t seen these, they are fantastic. Here’s a picture of what I’m talking about from U-Haul…


You put all your shoes and handbags in the bottom of the box, take your hanging clothes from the wrack and put them on the hanging bar in the box and then just transfer them when you get to the new place! It makes life so much simpler! I have also learned that with a house full of stuff, I need to hire movers so that I keep my friends and things don’t get broken or at least if it does, I get compensated for it. Trust me, it’s worth the money to just hire pros.

But I hate the stress of having to find someone to buy your place or strangers coming through your home whether you rent or buy. I hate having to call a million people to make appointments to see other places and try to work around my work schedule and hope that no one snatches the place up before you even get a chance to see it. I hate having to switch over all the utilities and changing your address with the bank, HR at work, the post office, your credit cards, and everybody else. I hate stressing my cats out because they don’t understand what’s going on. It’s a pain in the…neck to figure out how to make your stuff fit into a new space and what to do with it if you can’t.

There’s so many things to do when you’re moving and working at the same time, especially when you basically have a month to get ready. I think one of the absolute worst things about it all is the disrespect people seem to have for your home when they come through it. My cats have been locked in closets, out in the garage (They are strictly inside cats and what would have happened if I had come home and run them over?!), and generally terrorized by kids. People have tracked mud and dirt on my rugs and all over my floors. (I am a ‘take your shoes off at the door’ kind of girl.) I had one man and his daughter walking around my house, into my fenced back yard and looking in the windows. WTH man?!! That’s totally illegal not to mention rude and scary! I had one group adjust my thermostat and leave my AC running while I was at work all day.

But all that said…I’m excited to be moving. I’m moving in with my boyfriend and it’ll be our first place together. I’m excited that I’ll be in a new area to explore and closer to work (only like 15 minutes but still!). I’m looking forward to the adventures coming my way and learning the feel of a new house and area. Even though I will be renting, I will have a great garden and the kitchen of the new place is fantastic. Just excited about the whole new way of living! I see nothing but positives in this move…once I get settled. lol

If you have stories good, bad or otherwise about moving, feel free to share them with me. I’d also appreciate any tips! Happy Friday!

Independent vs Stubborn to a Fault

So today’s topic is a little bit off from my usual stuff but I want to put this out there. I’m in my mid 30’s with a birthday this fall that puts me closer to the 40 side than the 30 one. I’m not much for numbers and for the most part, other than wondering where the heck my life seems to have gone, I don’t mind getting older. I’m young at heart and I have a lot of fun without being stupid…most of the time. lol

However, while I enjoy my life and independence, I really hope that as I get even older, I won’t be like a couple of my grandparents or many of the patients I have. I hope I will remember the lessons that they are teaching me now that a younger person does not offer assistance to say that they can’t do some things or to make them feel bad but because the younger person sincerely wants to help and sometimes…well, we can’t do things without help.

Case in point: when my family talked and decided that it was no longer safe for my grandparents to drive anymore and took the keys to their car, they had a fit. They tried begging, threatening, wheedling, pulled the ‘I’m-your-parent-and-you-do-as-I-say’ routine, tried the ‘it’s-my-car-so-give-me-the-damn-keys’ so many times it stopped being surprising…everything they could think of to be allowed to drive. But here’s the thing, the last time my grandfather drove he almost hit somebody who was walking on the side of the road! And my grandmother was driving on the wrong side at least part of the way before she realized it! It just wasn’t safe for them to be behind the wheel anymore…not for them or anybody else. So we stood firm and even got almost mean about it when we told them no. I hated doing that to them but it was the responsible thing to do for society and them.

I hope that when I’m old and I really need assistance I will be humble enough to accept my limitations and accept that help. That could come in the form of another person or a walker or cane or wheelchair or whatever! I’m trying to take good care of myself now so that I’m not a burden on others in the future but the truth is, when we use these things, it keeps our independence. If an older person falls and breaks a hip, that makes them even more reliant on others for help. If they had used the tools and people they needed to begin with, so many things might have been prevented. Those who offer to help, genuinely want to and don’t mind.

That said, I also want to note that if you are a caregiver of someone with health issues or who is older, you need to remember to ask for help yourself. One person can’t do it all and you will burn out quickly if you try. Find resources to help you…friends, family, programs, whatever you need. But make sure you take care of you so you can also take care of those dependent on you. That’s one thing I am learning. I have to stop and take care of myself sometimes and that’s ok. I used to feel guilty but not as much anymore because I know I need that just like everyone else. We’re all human and we need rest and food and fun like everyone else.

Feel free to share your stories and advice with me! I’d love to hear from you.

Too Many Stressors at Once!

I know that everyone has stress in their life. I usually handle it pretty well but lately, I’ve been hit with a lot of huge stressful situations at one time. One of the only grandparents I have left is in the hospital and from what I’m hearing, it sounds like they are giving up on life and probably won’t be with us much longer. I am going to have to move soon because the house that I currently live in is going on the market. I rent at the moment. Also, still dealing with the ex-husband over money he owes and the house we owned, and that has a contract on it, underwent an inspection and appraisal this week. I’m supposed to get my half of the equity when it sells and then I can finally be done with the ex-husband forever if I can help it.

I could deal with any one of those separately and I could even handle two but all of them?! I’m really starting to feel it. Now while the ex and the house situation is looking like it will resolve itself soon, I am so afraid something will mess it up and I’ll have to keep dealing with the ex-husband for months to come.

As for my grandparent, they have had Alzheimer’s for a long time and I’m torn, even having been in the medical field for over a decade, between hoping they get better and get to go home and hoping they will go peacefully there in the hospital. I don’t want them to suffer any more and I know that their home isn’t really the best place for them at this stage of their illness. The guilt over which way to feel is an added stress.

Moving, for any reason good or bad and for any distance long or short, is always a pain in the @$$ because no matter how close or far the new place is, everything has to go with you! I just moved about 6 months ago and here I go having to move again. I’m good at packing and I like to do stuff like that myself but it does feel a little overwhelming right now with everything I have to do.

So why am I writing about all this here? Well for one thing, it is somewhat therapeutic to get it all out. But also because I think overall I might be handling it pretty good considering. Everything in my life that I go through makes me stronger and I see it. Do I believe that ‘everything happens for a reason’. No I don’t. Sometimes it just is. Sometimes it’s life. Sometimes it’s other people causing us issues because of their decisions or actions. I am actually able to sleep and go to work and while it is messing with my WW goals at the moment, I’m not doing as bad as I have in the past when faced with majorly stressful situations. And I’m definitely going to give myself credit for that. I am trying to maintain a positive attitude instead of a ‘woe is me’ one. I’m trying to remember that stuff happens. I’m trying to take deep breaths and a couple of minutes of quiet when I can to center myself and find peace before dealing with the next hurdle. Because I know I can.

Shout Out to My Weight Loss Aids/Tools

Ok, so this week I admit I had a small problem figuring out what to write about, but then I thought about what all I needed to do this weekend and one of them includes getting groceries and it led to the idea of this entry. I run into a lot of posts in various places (and have written my own) about the stumbling blocks for people to weight loss. So I wanted to talk about the tools and other aids I’ve found for myself in my weight loss journey so far. Here is just a quick list of 10:

  1. WW’s phone app – First and foremost, I love the WW app as I am doing Weight Watchers all online. The app has some issues and some features I wish were a little more smooth but overall, I love it. I did WW years ago and had to do it all on paper. What a pain in the…hand? 😉 lol Anyways, now tracking my food, fitness and weight has become so easy! The barcode scanner has become my favorite feature simply because it’s so handy when I go to the grocery store!
  2. Smaller containers, plates, etc – I am very much a visual learner and portioning out my food is one battle but as I was of the ‘clean-your-plate’ family, I have learned that eating out of smaller dishes and containers makes me feel less guilty about leaving food behind. I didn’t take as much so I’m not wasting as much if I don’t finish but also it helps me keep my portions under control.
  3. My WW’s digital food scale – Any food scale will do so I admit I’m not bragging just because of WW’s because mine is an older version anyway but I love that it comes with a bowl to put on top to keep the scale itself clean and is so easy to use. Measuring your food is essential when you don’t have the feel for portion sizes so my scale definitely helps.
  4. My digital person scale – I love my own scale that I use at home and I can’t remember who makes it but I’ve had it for a while. It’s one that gives you your weight with one decimal place, can track 2 people’s weight for you, and gives you the difference between weighing times so I don’t have to do math first thing in the morning when I don’t even have the lights fully on yet. lol With mine, for example, I step on the corner and hold it down until ” – 1 – ” pops up and it reminds me of my last weight. Then it goes to 0.0, I step on and it gives me my current weight and then the difference. So something like, “183.8”…”-1.2″. It’s easy, fast and seems to be fairly accurate.
  5. Kroger’s clicklist – Many grocery stores are doing something like this now but I personally love Kroger. Their online shopping feature is awesome! I shop from work or home and at all hours day or night in any way I’m dressed (or not) and when I’ve got the whole list down…Voila! I choose my pick up time and submit my order. The great things about this is: I can shop anywhere and anytime as long as I have access to a computer or my phone, I only buy what I need, Kroger saves what I’ve bought in the past so I can just add it quickly to my cart, I only buy what’s on my diet or what I choose to cheat with instead of impulse buying, no lines, no roaming aisles aimlessly, and I save time just showing up, picking it up and going home. I can plan meals and use the online sales add or digital coupons. I’m not perfect at it and it has a few glitches but overall I love this!
  6. Supportive friends/family – You will always have those people in your life who will tell you when you’re doing something wrong. I don’t let it bother me that much when it comes to losing weight and I truly appreciate the support I get from those who are closest to me. My boyfriends are super supportive of my goals and even though they aren’t on the plan with me, they keep me motivated while reassuring me that they love me no matter what size I am. That’s a hard balance to keep but they seem to do a pretty good job! lol
  7. Convenient locations – I had a super hard time with losing weight when I lived out in the middle of nowhere. I had to drive so much of my time away. Stores weren’t convenient nor was access to good food. So where I am now with so many good choices of places to get food, living closer to work, access to lots of public parks…it’s all conducive to living healthier and I’m learning how to take advantage of that.
  8. Low cal water flavor packets – I’m not a huge fan of water. I drink it and a lot of it but I miss flavor sometimes! So this is where those little flavor packets save my bacon! I get flavor without the empty calories and it’s helped me cut way back on the Dr Pepper especially!
  9. Exercises that I fit in through the day – I love hearing little tips on how to move more throughout the day instead of doing one big exercise routine. Yeah I take the stairs more often like a lot of people suggest. I don’t park as far from the door as I could but I don’t look for the first spot either. But I read an article that suggested doing like 10 squats and 10 push-ups every time you go to the bathroom. I can do that! That’s a good reminder for me and when I drink my water, I go to the bathroom at least 8 times a day I’m sure! lol That’s a lot of squats and push-ups!
  10. A love of food – This might sound like a weird thing to list but I’m so thankful that I really love a variety of foods and I’m not scared to try new things. I would go insane eating the exact same things all the time or if I only liked to eat a handful of things. It makes keeping my weight loss journey from feeling like I’m on a circular track! I love to try new varieties of foods or foods I already like/love in a new way. I think it’s so much fun and I have discovered new favorites!

So I hope that those points help you a little. Even if it doesn’t, I hope it at least helps you be a little more positive in looking for things to help you like it did me! Let me know what helps you in achieving your goals. I’d love to hear about it.

Challenges to My Weight Loss Goals

So this past weekend was Memorial Day weekend and I went off on vacation with West Coaster. We had a fun time, getting there Wednesday evening and I got home Monday night. The problem was that where I was there weren’t a lot of healthy food options in spite of the fact that there were so many dang restaurants and places to eat! Everything was fried, wrapped in or topped with bacon/cheese/creamy sauce, etc. Even the buffet where we stayed, there were almost no vegetables to choose from and those that were there were cooked in such ways that it took most of the nutritional value out of it or made it almost void because of all the stuff they added to them.

Now there’s a reason I gained weight to begin with. I was way too tiny in high school and shortly thereafter but, like a lot of Southern women I know (and I’m not trying to exclude people here but just using my own self-categorizing), I eat my emotions…happy, sad, angry or whatever. I absolutely love food and trying new things. I love the fats, cheese, creams, sauces, breads, sweets…you name it and I love it. Even in small doses this can be hard for me because of the number of terrible things out there for you. If you eat 1 piece of each kind of candy and there are 10 different candies, that’s still 10 pieces. So I have to fight and pick and choose what I eat if I want to keep going down on the scale and clothes.

So let me briefly look at some of the sabotages to my weight loss goal. 1. My own background. 2. No refrigerator/microwave + expensive restaurant = Feelings of having to finish all of my food no matter what. 3. Portion sizes everywhere! 4. Limited healthy options that also taste good when out and about, especially when on vacation when you want to enjoy everything. 5. (And this is a big one) Eating only until I’m full but still enough food to last me until I get the chance to eat again and can make good choices! My job and life rarely allow me to eat those small snacks during the day that can be healthy and stave off hunger so that I don’t get to the point that I’m so ravenous, I’ll eat whatever is right in front of me and until I’m stuffed!

So how do I combat this big problem I seem to have? Well, first I should admit that sometimes I lose that battle and just end up eating badly. However, I’m getting better at planning ahead. I try so hard to have snacks that are good choices within easy reach that are easy to eat and that I really love. I love chocolate. I’m not going to give it up unless it becomes a serious health allergy or something. BUT! I am going to try to have the sugar free chocolate pudding cup handy vs eating a huge slice of chocolate cake. So I’m trying to be realistic when I plan ahead. If I’m going to be in the car, I can’t eat a salad. That’s just not safe driving! But I can look up fast food choices on the Weight Watchers app so that when I go through the drive thru, I don’t need the menu and know exactly what I’m going to eat.

I really do try to plan ahead and I don’t beat myself up when I kinda mess it up for the meal, the day or even a week. I’m human. I will eventually get it mostly right or lose the battle because I gave up. But I can do this and I’m not going to drop into a deep depression because after vacation the scale says I’m 3 pounds higher. It happens. I’m not striving for perfection. I’m striving for different than the really unhealthy patterns that I’ve had in the past.