Gratitude, Home Care, Living for TODAY, Quarantine

10 Positive Ways 2020 has Changed my Life

exotic mellisuga minima bird sitting on stem in green field
Photo by Skyler Ewing on Pexels.com(Birds are beautiful.  I love watching them.  Something I’ve gained from 2020…)

I’ve always been a pretty upbeat and positive person, but 2020 has challenged me in ways I didn’t think possible.  Staying positive has been the biggest challenge of them all.  It hasn’t been easy finding the ‘good’ in 2020, but I did, and I hope these things will help you see the positive as well.

10 positive ways 2020 has changed my life. 

I am…

  1. Finishing home projects.  Not being able to go anywhere has enabled me to concentrate on what needed to be done at home.  We’ve removed wall paper (FINALLY!) and painted rooms.   Some of these projects have been on my ‘to do’ list for YEARS. 
  2. Trying new recipes. We haven’t eaten in a restaurant in 8 months (although we have had take out).  I’ve been enjoying eating at home, and with that trying new dishes that mimic some of our favorite restaurants.  Our food at home tastes so.much.better.  We know exactly what is going into our food, and with that comes peace of mind.
  3. Saving money.  I’ve written a blog post on how much we’ve saved since the beginning of 2020.  We are continuing to save, and have a HUGE goal for 2021.
  4. Changing financial goals I wouldn’t have, in a million years, predicted a year like 2020.  My husband kept his job, thankfully, but had to take a 10% pay cut.  It made me realize that we have been a bit complacent in our financial goals for retirement, and now have an urgency to pay off our mortgage.  We’ve always ‘wanted’ to, but now have a plan to get it done by the end of 2021. 🙂
  5. Appreciating Nature.  I’m not a fan of masks.  I will rarely go to places that require them.  I do, however, take long walks in nature….something I’ve grown to appreciate more and more.  And thankfully those walks have helped squelch the extra weight brought on from Netflix binging and snack eating early on. ;o
  6. Changing and improving travel plans. Like millions of other people, our travel plans were haulted abruptly.  We were supposed to cruise to Alaska.  The new cruising protocols make my skin crawl, so we won’t be cruising anytime soon.  We will, however, be traveling to Alaska.  By land.  And it will be so.much.better.  Something we may never have done had it not been for the events in 2020.
  7. Valuing time with family. Family dinners, family birthdays and just plain family get togethers have been my social lifeline, and I’ve never appreciated them as much as I do this year. 
  8. Taking an online class.  I’ve been ‘retired’ from my administrative/bookkeeping job for two years.  I’m a bit rusty on my skills, so I’m in the process of taking classes online to become certified in Excel and Quickbooks.  This will put me in a very marketable position should the need arise to obtain work, which can be easily done online.  I’m not sure I would have done this pre-2020.
  9. Living more simplyNot going to restaurants, traveling, or running around shopping has allowed me to cook from scratch, read, journal, walk, and live very simply.  A very positive side effect, indeed.
  10. Slowing down.  2020 has afforded me the time to slow down.  I have more time to reflect on what is truly meaningful to me, which in turn, has altered some of my plans going forward.  I may not have figured this out if it wouldn’t have been for 2020.  For that alone, I am grateful.

How about you?  What has changed this year for you?  Anything positive?

Quarantine, Retirement Journey, Spending Freeze

Retirement Preparation Update

official currency united states of america
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

We have just completed six months of 2020.  Can you believe it?  It has been the longest six months of any year I can remember.

Anyway, it’s time to check in with our retirement preparation.  Our ultimate goal is to retire in exactly 43 months.  (I haven’t figured out the days, hours, or minutes yet, but I will soon 😉 )

When the pandemic started and the stock market crashed, I thought we would have to extend our retirement plan out two extra years.   When the market bounced back, we successfully rebalanced all of our accounts, and have a much less volatile portfolio.  We won’t have significant gains, but we also won’t have significant losses.

The biggest eye-opener was our lack of sufficient cash. We had 6 months’ worth, but it didn’t feel nearly enough with our age as factors.   We have implemented a new savings plan and are now socking away nearly 40% of my husband’s income (even with a 10% pay cut).  This has been relatively painless since we are not going anywhere or doing anything.

I imagine once the world opens up again, we’ll have the travel bug and want to start going places.  We have a Disney cruise planned for May 2021, a trip we planned with our entire family 1 1/2 years ago.  If, however, masks are still required, this trip will be postponed until all’s well with the world.  I have that trip money already set aside.  My grandchildren may be teenagers by the time we go, but we are going nonetheless. 😉

pluto costume
Photo by Craig Adderley on Pexels.com

As far as other trips, we may postpone until retirement so that we have enough cash to feel comfortable when we do say goodbye to a paycheck.

As far as the budget, the only wild card has been food.  The grocery stores have been hiking up prices and I’m trying to stay fairly close to what I’ve allotted.  The only way I can do that is to shop solely at Aldi.  But even Aldi has raised their prices.

All in all, we are on track to retire in early 2024.  How are you doing with your budgets?

Gratitude, Living for TODAY, Quarantine, Staying healthy

June: A New Start.

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It’s been quite a Spring, right?  Lots of information to take in.  Unfortunately, it’s been mostly negative, ugly stuff.  Death, destruction, and loss of income, to name a few.  An unprecedented time, indeed.

The doomsayers, fear mongers, and political hacks have all come out in full force to inject more fear.  And, it appears they are doing a great job.  People are loose canons, just waiting to explode.  I know it has affected me in ways I didn’t think it could, but I’m drawing a line in the sand. No more.

We have been fortunate.  My husband is still employed, our investments are holding steady, and most importantly, we are healthy.  However, in order for me to stay healthy, I have to make a change in how I am ingesting information.  Less stress equals higher immunity, right? So……

Starting today, June 1st, I will be turning OFF all social media, YouTube videos, blogs, news, politics, the stock market, the pandemic, or anything else that has been wreaking havoc on my normally positive nature.  For 30 days, I will be blissfully focusing on what makes me happy.  Self-care, if you will. And I.can’t.wait.

Just a few things I have planned are:

  • Reading (light-hearted fiction only).
  • Writing (I’ve always wanted to write a book, and now is a great time to start (more on that in a future blog post).
  • Hiking.  Trails are abundant near me and I want to try them all.
  • Baking.
  • Visiting with my grandbabies.
  • Gardening.
  • Cooking more meals from scratch.
  • Road tripping. My son will be within driving distance in June/July.  I’m so excited to see him!
  • Learning how to cut my hair.  It’s time.
  • Starting a Savings Challenge for the rest of 2020.
  • Learning a new skill.
  • Sipping coffee in the morning, sipping wine in the evening; and
  • Anything else I feel like doing that brings me joy, happiness, and peace.

Not everyone can take the month off, I know, but I’m sure the simple act of turning off social media and the news may work for your well-being as well.

What are your plans for June?

Gratitude, Laughter, Quarantine, Staying healthy

Making the best of a Stay at Home Order

bright daylight environment forest
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

{I originally wrote this post in the beginning of March when I thought we would be home for 14 days.  Things certainly have changed, and we are now going on 6 weeks.  Good grief.  These ideas are still applicable, so I thought I would post them now.}

                                10 Ways to make Staying at Home More Enjoyable

  1. Read.  Read. and Read some more.  How many times have you told yourself you don’t have enough time to read?  I think now is the time to get through those novels on your bookshelf!
  2. Plan your spring and summer gardens.  Thankfully the worst of winter is behind us and we have bright sunny warm days to look forward to.  Now is the perfect time to plan what you are going to plant in your gardens.  Even a simple planter on your front porch can be a mood lifter.
  3. Spend lots of time outdoors.  The whole idea of a quarantine is to stay away from other people, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have fresh air.  If it’s a sunny day, sit in a lounge chair and soak up your Vitamin D.  It’s great for your immune system.
  4. Practice Yoga.  It’s a stressful time, and we all know stress lowers your immune system.  Yoga can help.  There are tons of videos that you can follow.  My favorite?  Yoga with Adrienne.
  5. Lift weights/Work-out ProgramsMoving and staying active will help you feel better.  Once again, there are plenty of programs online to help you.  Search YouTube and you will find a bunch!  This video on walking indoors is a great way to get started.
  6. Meditate.  I’ve often wanted to start this practice, but never felt like I had the time. I know there are plenty of free meditation apps you can download.  I’ve tried several walking meditations and they’ve proven to be very helpful in calming my nerves.
  7. Bake Bread.  Baking bread can be very therapeutic.  It takes time to have the dough rise, and time to knead.  But the smell that will come from your oven when it’s baking?  Of course, the taste isn’t bad either!
  8. Pop some popcorn & binge-watch a TV series.  Is there a series you’ve been meaning to watch?  Now is the perfect time.  Since recently getting rid of cable and having purchased a Roku so I can watch apps I’m subscribed to, there are a bunch of series I can watch.  However, The Office, on Netflix, has provided the necessary laughter during these times. 😉
  9. Have a spa day. Start with a deep soak in a hot, bubbly tub.  Give yourself a mani-pedi, taking your time to make sure you let the polish dry.  Time is on your side, right? Have face masks just sitting in your drawer?  Take them out and try one a day!
  10. Declutter & Spring Clean.  Okay, so this one isn’t that much fun.  But you’ll probably have to do it eventually, so why not now?  Having a clean, neat home will make it much better to hang out in.

A Bonus tip:

  1. JOURNAL! It’s been imperative for me to document this time in my life.  My feelings, my goals, my gratefulness.  Retrospection has been key to keeping me sane during these scary times.

I hope these tips and ideas can help you during these unprecedented times.  Now I’m off for a walk in the sunshine.

Stay safe and have a great day!