Gratitude, Meditation, Yoga

Making lemonade out of lemons.

love romantic bath candlelight
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It’s been a very stressful two months, and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight to this ‘new way’ of living.  I’m sad I can’t travel next month.  We had been planning our anniversary trip for two years.

Travel had become such a big part of our lives.  It was fun to dream of all the trips we would take.  I had a whole room in our home dedicated to our travel, which included all of our suitcases, toiletry bags, snorkeling equipment, and cruise gear.  We called it ‘the travel room’. (Not a very creative name, but it worked. 😉 )

Yesterday, I reorganized it all, and stowed it all away in the back of the closet.  All that was left was an empty room.  Looking at it just made me sad.

I decided to move our bedroom Smart TV, yoga mat, and weights (for Yoga w/Adrienne),  into the room.  I’ve always wanted a place that I could use for yoga and meditation…a personal space for when I wanted to escape the outside world for just a bit.  Now all that’s left to do is put on a fresh coat of paint (with paint we have on hand) and add some plants and I will have my very own retreat!

drink glass glassware lemon
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When times change, you have to change along with it, or at least make the best of it.  Just as lemons are tart to the taste, you can still use them to make delicious sweet lemonade if you add the right ingredients.   I know I will travel again.  But until then, I will take care of my mind, body, and soul so that I will be ready for that next adventure.

Gratitude, Laughter, Quarantine, Staying healthy

Making the best of a Stay at Home Order

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{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!

Covid-19, Emergency Preparedness, job loss, Retirement

Playing the ‘what if’ game if we lost our income.

apple business computer connection
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It’s no secret that it’s a huge mess out there.  This health crisis has caused so much loss, both in life and security.  My heart breaks for all those who have lost loved ones.  We lost a very good friend, not from Coronavirus, but from not going to the hospital when an emergency surgery was needed because they feared contracting the virus. A ton of missteps by both health workers and the family members.  But that’s not what this post is about.

I want to talk about the economic mess.  Many people have been furloughed without pay, or let go completely from their jobs.  Many small businesses have closed.  Unemployment is at an all-time high. Stimulus checks won’t be enough, and the government can’t keep printing money.  It will render cash worthless.  A recession may soon follow if we all can’t get back to work.  But we can’t go back too soon, or we will be right back to the health crisis.  It’s definitely a conundrum.

My husband, fortunately, has kept his job so far, but we are aware that he could lose it.  No job is safe, in my opinion.

So, we decided to play the ‘what if’ game.  What if my husband lost his job tomorrow?  What steps would we take?

This morning we sat down at the kitchen table and started listing in order what we would do if he were to be let go tomorrow.

Immediately:

  1. Apply for unemployment.  It won’t cover anywhere near his normal paycheck, but it will be something.  Virginia is in the top 10 for top balanced fiscal budgets and Virginians aren’t having a problem receiving it.
  2. Hoard money.  Stop paying for gifts, subscriptions, clothing, personal spending, travel (obviously). Eat from pantry, freezer and fridge.  No need to worry about credit cards, car loans — I’m debt-free.
  3. Look for another job.  This may be difficult for several reasons.  Timing and age.  It’s not the best time to find a job, and our age would make it nearly impossible, however, our area has many more jobs than most, and I’m pretty confident that we both could get some type of work in our field.  (We aren’t that old, but old enough. 😉

In a couple of months:

  1. Sell home (if not able to find employment).  This area is very expensive, and real estate is ridiculously expensive.   We have a very strong housing market, even during Covid-19.  We would sell our present home and buy a much smaller one in a less expensive area outright. (No mortgage for us!)  We already researched this, and there are three areas we would consider: Southern VA, North Carolina and Florida.  We could possibly walk away with $230,000 in surplus.
  2. Sell one of our cars.  If we decided to retire from paid employment, we would definitely not need to support two SUVs.  This would save us almost $3,000 a year in expenses.
  3. Cash in my pension account. We would only do this once I turn 59 1/2, (which is one year from now) and only if it were necessary.

Down the road…..

  1. Take Social Security at 62. If my husband lost his job today (at 56), we would have to live off the proceeds of our cash savings and real estate surplus until we could tap into retirement plans at 59 1/2.  That is 2.5 years.  Our investments would grow to a nice sum, but we would only pull 3% out to make it last more than 30 years.  This would create a small shortfall, so we would start social security at 62.   We will have more than enough for one nice trip a year as well.
  2. Find part-time jobs.  If we did move into a smaller home in a new area, we both would look for fun part-time jobs to supplement our time and income. (I have my eye on working at a golf-club – when they reopen, of course.)

Our current plan (before a lay-off):

  1. SAVE MORE MONEY IN CASH.  We are fortunate to have some savings, equity in our home, and a good retirement portfolio.  However, we do realize that we are a bit short on available cash and only have enough to see us through for 6 months.  I would like to see that grow to at least 9 months to feel secure in a layoff situation.

Of course if my husband keeps his job, which I hope he will, we’ll have a different financial plan.  It’s just nice to know what to do ahead of a crisis, instead of being blind-sighted by it.

Hope you are all doing well and staying safe.

 

Beauty, Cash Savings, Covid-19, Self-Reliant

How I unknowingly became more prepared for a salon shut down.

person holding white ceramic mug
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Let’s talk about our beauty regimen ladies (and guys if you are interested. 😉 )

Before COVID-19 was even named, I had been trying to be a bit more self-reliant with my beauty regimen.   It started out as a way to save money, but now, with hair and nail salons closed, it’s been the only way to keep up. (I will also share the cost savings of doing everything myself since this is a personal finance blog 😉 )

NAILS

Changing my nail routine was not initially about the money.  It was about the health of my nails.  I used to get gel nails every 2-3 weeks because I thought my nails would be stronger.  However, each time they were removed, my nail beds became softer and more damaged.  Even my nail stylist told me to take a break.  I did, and I’ll never return.  I started taking care of my own nails at home, using high-quality nail products. After several months of my own care, my nails are stronger and healthier than ever.

Gel nails every 2-3 weeks yearly cost: $840.00

Doing my own nails w/OPI products: $50.00

Savings: $790.00

WAXING

I’ve been having my brows and upper lip professionally waxed for years.  However, this was not a difficult task and one that I knew I could do myself.  In January, I purchased a wax kit and have been doing it myself for the past several months.  Besides being convenient, I feel it’s more sanitary.  And, after reading this article, I’m glad I’ve made the switch.

Waxing 12x a year: $360.00

Waxing kit: $40

Savings: $320.00

HAIR

This one is a bit tougher because I don’t know how to cut my own hair.  However, I do color my own hair.  I try to wait  3 months before I get a professional cut and color, so I’ve become quite good at covering my roots.  I understand the best thing is to not color at all, but I’m so.not.ready to look old (my grey is the ugly kind — not the hip new look others are sporting.)  Fortunately, I did get a professional cut and color at the end of February for which I am very grateful. 😉

Professional Color (if I did it every 4 weeks): $2,400

Coloring at home: $80.00

Cut & Color 4x a year: $800.00

Savings: $1,520.00

Total Savings for Nails, Waxing & Hair:  $2,630.00

A pretty nice side effect of being a bit more self-reliant, don’t ya think?

Has the salon shut down affected you?  How are you doing things differently?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Covid-19, Worry

This is hard.

white and brown wooden tiles
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Captains Log:  Day 23. {Can you tell I’ve been binge watching Starship Enterprise?]

I wanted to write these posts as a way for me to document how I feel during this unprecedented time.  Never in a million years would I have guessed our whole world would be shut down because of a deadly virus.  The whole world is shut down.  Good grief.

There have been some pretty horrific events in my lifetime, but none as personal as this.  And even though I’m safe, my family is safe, my husband is employed, and we are all healthy, the never-ending anxiety because of the unknowns have been wreaking havoc on my mental health.

First, let me just put it out there that I’m so grateful for my situation.  I have it easy, really.

 I get to stay at home.

I can read books, sit out on my back deck, binge watch sitcoms (comedy only), journal, exercise on my treadmill, do yoga from the internet, bake bread, muffins, cookies or anything else I can conjure up with a bit of flour, eggs, sugar and butter. I have enough food for the next two weeks (at least).  I have a roof over my head and a soft bed to fall into at night.

Other people have it much harder.  Some have lost loved ones. Some have lost their incomes.  Some are putting themselves at risk every day by working in hospitals, doctors’ offices, grocery stores, pharmacies, etc. so that we may be cared for and fed.  I am thankful and grateful and will never take grocery shopping for granted again.

However, it’s Day 23 under ‘stay at home order’ but it feels like Day 103.

Even with my ‘easier’ life, there has been debilitating fear.  Some days I’m scared to go grocery shopping, I’m scared to have packages delivered, and I’m scared of the air I breathe when I take my dog for a walk.  It’s been a challenge to carry on my routines and normal behaviors.

Thankfully, other days have been good.  I hope to have more of the good, and less of the bad in the days to come.  I pray that this invisible monster goes away, and things will get back to a ‘new’ normal.  (Because clearly we will all never be quite the same again.)

If you are finding this situation hard to navigate, you are not alone.

We will get through this. #inthistogether