June 26, 2013

Respect your Body - Keep Fit

I have a membership at our local Curves center.  The cost is $36 a month.  Yes, that is $36 that I could be saving or spending on something else, but I find that I do better working out with other women and meeting new people.  I recently gave up getting acrylic nails ($50 a month) to save money as I had a decision to make.  We needed to cut back on expenses and I preferred keeping my Curves membership versus having my nails done every two weeks.  If you can’t afford a membership to a gym, here is what I recommend for a frugal fitness workout plan:

Shoes - $50.  Walking is the mainstay of my fitness program.  I started out at 2 miles and have worked my way up to as much as 5 miles according to the time I have to fit into a walk.  Many times I fit in a few short walks throughout my day.  The most important piece of equipment you need for walking is a good walking/running shoe.  I can get Nike or New Balance shoes for around $50 on sale.  These are not the top of the line Nike shoes, but are the moderate medium grade shoe.  Make sure that when you try them on that they give you good support.  This is all I need for walking as I am not a runner.  Invest in good shoes as if you buy a cheapy no name shoe, you will end up with back and hip trouble.  Watch for sales as it is worth having a decent shoe for walking.

Resistance tubes - $8.00 – These look like a jump rope with plastic tubing.  These resistance tubes come with a guide for using them for all sorts of resistance exercises to strengthen your upper body without having to use of bulky weights. 

Fitness Ball - $9.00 – Comes with a booklet for exercises to tone and strengthen the abdomen and lower back muscles

Pedometer - $10 – wear it to make sure you are getting 10,000 steps a day.

Other equipment – a refillable water bottle.  $3.00 or free as a promotional give away.  You need to keep hydrated as you walk and workout.  Keeping a bottle of water filled throughout the day gives you an idea of how much water you are drinking and it also encourages you to drink more. 

So for a total investment of $80.00 you have what you need to start your own personal fitness program.  The only thing you will have to replace over time is your shoes.  You will notice when they start to wear out on the inside as you won’t have the support that you used to have.  That is the time to replace them before you start having some hip and knee pain.   

Always watch the sales for walking shoes even if your shoes haven’t worn out yet.  Better yet after you buy your pair of shoes, set aside $5 a week so that you will have the $50 long before you actually need it to buy new shoes. 

If you can’t afford all of the above at one time, buy the shoes and get a water bottle.  Buy the other items as you save the money.  Look at garage sales for any exercise equipment BUT keep it simple and don’t buy equipment that will clutter up your house and end up not being used.  

June 25, 2013

Respect Your Resources

As I look at getting back on track, I have come to really notice how I need to respect the resources that I have.  What do I define as resources?  It would include income, clothing, food, cars, our house or in other words, anything that is in my home. 

Being respectful of your resources means that you take care of what you have.   If I truly respect what I have, I will mend my clothes and make them last; prepare meals that are nutritious and use up what I have on hand; take care of our cars by getting oil changes and maintenance done so that we are not hit with major problems by neglecting them; do as much timely home maintenance and improvements on our home – thank goodness for DIY and in the internet; clean my house and maintain furnishings so that things don’t have as much wear and tear.  These are just a few examples.

What if what you own right now had to last you for 10 years?  Think about this.  If you knew that certain assets had to last you for 10 years, would you treat these items differently?    I’m not speaking about food here, but what if your car, furniture, appliances, furnace, water heater, had to last 10 years?  Would you maintain them, clean them, not abuse them so that they would last?  You would work hard to make sure that your investments were protected.  So, why not do it anyway?

With consumables such as food, toiletries, paper products, cleaners, laundry products, and such, what if you did your best to make them last as long as possible?  Make it a game to see how long you can stretch things.  You would be surprised.  As an example I realized two weeks ago that I was over using my laundry detergent.  There is a measurement on the inside of the cap.  In order to see it completely I had to look at it under a strong light.  Then I read the instructions on the bottle.  One was for a normal load (3 tablespoons) and two was for a large load (4 tablespoons).  They had a line for number three and number four with no explanation.  I read somewhere that what gets the most dirt out of your clothes is the agitation of the water.  So, I now use number one for half a load of clothes and number two for a full load of clothes and I put the setting on a faster agitation.  I may actually get 32 loads of laundry out of the bottle as advertised and I haven’t sacrificed getting the clothes clean. 

Recently I took our dog through beginners obedience classes and intermediate classes.  This was a 13 week investment of time and money.  Now that the classes are over, I need to protect my investment  by committing to walking and keeping our dog up on her obedience training.  The work is only beginning.  Yes, these classes were an investment in our dog and also in me as her trainer and "pack leader."  I can't let this lapse as I spent money and a lot of my time in order to have a better behaved dog.

Do you have a habit of overbuying fresh produce and then let some of it spoil before you use it up?  Don’t buy as much and use it up before you buy more.  Re-evaluate how you feel about the things you own including consumables.  It took hard earned money to buy those items – from food and clothes to cars and homes.  Take care of what you have and respect what it took to buy those items because it took someone in your family trading hours of their time to earn the money.    

June 24, 2013

I Love Being a Grandma

It is almost indescribable as to the love I have for my grandson, Ryan.  If I don't get to see him, I go through withdrawal and tell people that I need my "Ryan time."  Yesterday my son and wife asked me if I could watch him as they were going out of town for the afternoon.  They didn't have to ask me twice.  Ryan was with me for about 8 hours in which I fed him, diapered him, rocked him to sleep and played with him on the floor.  I love to see how he can roll on his side, smile at me and interact.  He will be four months old this week.  

He was born when I was in the midst of being treated for depression.  On the very day he was born I had asked God to give me a small miracle of hope that day.  I didn't know that at that very time he was being born.  Ryan was the best medicine for bringing me out of my depression.  I can hardly wait for the day when he actually calls me grandma.  

There is nothing like this time in my life.  I love it.


Last week I had typed some posts and was getting ready to post them.  I was on my way to getting back to the frugal basics I had put in place a couple of years ago – ready to get a fresh start again.  Last week we completed enclosing our backyard with a privacy fence, I finished watching my grandson while my son was taking a class and was ready to tackle decluttering closets and sewing clothes.  WHEN on Friday my youngest son called me to say that the building he was living in had been declared “uninhabitable” by the City.  The building is very old, but the apartments are nice.  The problem is that the back of the building was pulling away from the foundation to the point that they felt it could toppled down.  So the weekend was spent getting him moved out fast and moving him back home until he could find another apartment to live in.  Thankfully we had plenty of help getting him moved out. 

Last night I was walking around the main floor of our house and there were boxes here in and there and a queen sized air mattress set up in our living room.  Decent rentals are hard to find in our community and I was wondering how long it would take for him to find another apartment.  I don’t mind that he had moved back but I also knew that for 8 months he had been living on his own and he wanted to get back to having his own place.  Fortunately someone we knew had an apartment for rent.  This individual is a responsible landlord and has a reputation in our community for being just that – responsible.  Our son and I looked at the apartment today and he fell in love with it.  It is cheaper than his old apartment and included in the rent is the cost of heat, water and garbage collection.  It is nice and also very secure.  I think it was meant to be.  He is going to save money and he moves in next week. 

So, with that situation resolved, I can get back to “getting back to the basics.” 

June 09, 2013

Love being a Grandma

This is a picture of me holding our grandson, Ryan, when he was born on February 27th.  I have the privilege of watching him a few times a week.  He has stolen my heart and he is such a joy.

My husband loves to read the newspaper to Ryan when he is home for lunch.  

When I haven't seen Ryan for a while I start to think "Hey, I need some Ryan time."  Tomorrow I will get my "Ryan Time" as he gets to spend the day at our house.  

There is nothing like being a Grandma.

Putting a Pet Down

Me and our cat, Sheircon in Feb. 2010

On Friday, June 7th, we had to put our cat, Sheircon to sleep.  She was 16 years old in May.  The above picture was taken 3 years ago when she weighed around 10 lbs.  When we put her down she weighed around 5 lbs., was going through kidney failure and had stopped eating altogether.  She was a wonderful cat and I enjoyed the privilege of owning her (if you can ever own a cat as they seem to own the person).  

I stayed with her as she was put down and then we put her in a box, placed a piece of pink fabric on top and buried her under a forsythia bush in our backyard.  

In January we had our black lab put down.  She was almost 13 years old and had declined so much.  


Now we are left with our 16 month old labradoodle Molly.  We have no intention of getting another cat.  One pet is enough for us for now.  Molly fits the bill and she is a wonderful, loving dog.


Financial Checkup - Taking it Day by Day

Our youngest son is in his junior year of college.  We knew that this would be the toughest time financially for us.  We had enough money in his college fund to get him through his Freshman and Sophomore years.  When we got beyond that, we knew it would be a little dicey, especially with my not working full time. 

So, how are we handling this?  We have always said that we would help and do our best to fund our kids’ education but we also knew that they would have to help also by working and paying what they could. 

The next 18 months will be like the first 18 months I was home and “retired.”  From July 2009 through December 2010 we knew it would be difficult but I also knew that being home would be worth it.  I still believe this.  We will be able to handle the tuition for the fall and the following year along with other expenses we have coming up only if I am extremely careful with spending on household expenses.  By household expenses I am talking about food, clothing, laundry, being careful with our water usage and usage of all utilities - keep the air conditioner set high and the heat set low, keeping track of all we have on hand in the pantry and freezer and use up what we have on hand for meals and so on.

Our budget has taken a hit with gasoline prices and food prices.  I remarked to a friend yesterday that I am so confused about what is a good deal as the prices have kept going up and are constantly changing.  When I saw in the newspaper last week that one store had 85% lean ground beef on sale for $1.99 lb., I bought 25 lbs. for the freezer.

Last week we were talking about finances and my husband told me what I had already known.  Things were getting tighter sooner than we had projected.  We had a lot of extra expenses over the past few months and we have some upcoming expenses besides having college tuition to pay for in the fall. 

We are putting up a privacy fence, our house needs painted and our front porch floor needs replaced.  The fence materials are paid for and with the help of family we are installing the privacy fence ourselves.  This fence is a necessity as we both feel the need to be in our backyard without people constantly walking by and looking over the fence and see us on our back porch or deck.  (We have a corner lot, so the sidewalk is right next to our yard.)  Some people walk by and tease our dog and that has to stop. 

We have to paint our house this summer as it is badly needed.  I was going to change the colors, but have decided to keep the same color scheme since we have a lot of the paint colors already on hand.  The front porch floor is starting to rot and so are the spindles and railing.  My husband will be putting in a new floor, railing and spindles.  The materials are expensive but since we are doing the projects ourselves and not hiring a contractor, we will be saving money.

So, I have two choices:  tighten the belt and dig in or go and get a job.  I like the first choice better especially now that we have a grandson in our lives.

Step One to getting back on track:  take it one day at a time.  Look at what tasks I have to do and see where I can cut expenses.  Tomorrow when I do laundry I am going back to making sure I am measuring the exact amount needed per load to stretch the detergent into as many loads as possible.  I have plenty of detergent, probably enough for at least 1 year, but my goal is to stretch it into 18 months.

Menopause - Welcome to my World

I have gotten out of the habit of blogging.  This came about when I was feeling depressed and suffering from anxiety as I didn’t feel like doing much of anything.  Over the past month I have been feeling better.  In fact, I feel the best I have felt in about 3 years. 

About 2 weeks ago I made the decision to totally go off the Valium part of my drug therapy.  It wasn’t hard to do as I was only taking it in the morning instead of 3 times a day.  So I tried it and I have had no problems.  I have a prescription in case I would ever need some, but so far I have been just fine.  I am taking the Lexapro at night and my normal thyroid medication in the morning.  What is the result? 

Well, I feel so much better.  I have blogged how much better I was feeling but the few weeks have been wonderful.  I honestly feel the best I have felt in a couple of years.  So I have taken advantage of the energy I now have and have cleaned the first floor of our house which is our main living area.  I haven’t been doing a very good job cleaning over the past few months.  When you feel lousy mentally, it is hard to do some basic things like housework.  Keeping on top of it on a daily basis was hard and eventually I had dug myself in a hole of a messy, dirty and cluttered house.

Since cleaning the main floor last week, I have been able to keep this area fairly neat and decluttered.  It feels good to come home to everything in a good order. 

I have been doing some reading about menopause and I have the classic symptoms leading into that next phase of my life.  No menstrual cycle for several months, the depression, the anxiety, hot flashes, memory problems and moodiness.  I now realize that what I have been experiencing is something that is normal for some women as they enter this phase of their lives.  I’m just glad that I have obtained help by taking Lexapro that controls the depression, anxiety and the moodiness.  As for the hot flashes, well, I’m glad we have air conditioning. 

Something else that helps me is exercising.  I have lost 20 lbs. since the beginning of January and getting out and exercising has helped me so much.  The center of my exercise program is walking.  When I have my grandson and the weather is beautiful, I take him in his stroller and go walking.  He falls asleep and I listen to music on my cell phone and off we go.  I can average around 5 miles a day sometimes. 

So what does all of this mean?  I feel great because I have lost the weight that had been bothering me for a couple of years, got medical help for dealing with the symptoms of Menopause and finally have the energy to do the projects I want to do, and most importantly have the energy to be grandma to my little grandson, Ryan.