Happy Spring! New Projects

Happy spring! 82 degrees on the last day of winter…whaaatt?! A harbinger of a hot summer, I’m afraid.

It’s time to plan projects for the next few months. And we have monkey wrenches already.

We had two major goals for this year: a bucket list vacation to celebrate our 25th anniversary, and addressing the retaining wall on the south side of the garage. Weeelll, wouldn’t you know it?

During a ROUTINE ANNUAL EXAM, a tumor was found, in my abdomen, which required major surgery to remove. I cannot stress enough the value of such exams. It had been two and a half years since I’d been to the doctor, and this thing developed during that time, with no symptoms! Sometimes we think since we’re feeling fine, our bodies are fine. But things happen when you don’t even know it, and the doctors’ jobs are to be aware and find these things while they can still be taken care of. It was ultimately benign, I thank God, but the size of a large, unripe pear. It and the obsolete organ it invaded were removed. There will be a scar, a very large scar. Which no one but my husband and me will see. I’m okay with that.

Without getting political, I have a pre-ACA health insurance policy, with excellent coverage, and my out of pocket cost will be quite manageable, although a big part of our savings. I know the dollar amount, and we are just waiting for the bills to roll in. I’m keeping track of the EOBs online. I have several weeks of recovery ahead of me, doing quite well, thank you. I am trying to learn to “be still.” I have more time to plan, less time to work, and less funds. Challenge accepted!

First of all, we’ve scratched the retaining wall project. My spidey sense is telling me it will cost much more than my marked up estimate. (I usually add 15% to what early research indicates.) While this does need to be done, there are also neighbor factors involved (they have their own issues this year), and more thoughtful planning required (electric supply lines run through the area). This is not something I want to tackle this year, especially since it would take several months from first calls to completion, and be angst-ridden the whole time.

My health issue brought to mind that our self-promised vacation should be a priority for us right now. Since we’ve already saved for it, even with the medical bills, we’re going for it. We may revise our itinerary a bit, but we’ve decided to go.

Meanwhile, the funds will grow for the retaining wall project, while this year we focus on more mundane and less costly maintenance. I will be using service professionals for most, if not all, of my projects this year. My body needs to heal, and the projects are very specific. Plus, I don’t have the equipment. Landscaping will probably not be a big thing this year, except for general cleanup. I’m still developing the list, and hope to get started implementing right after Easter. I’ll be back to share that.

What projects are you planning this year? How have financial surprises changed your list?


Money Makeover: Success-ish

January was a good month for our money makeover. I was able to sock away a huge chunk, despite some earlier-than-expected expenses. We kept a handle on our everyday expenses for the most part, going over budget in some areas, under in others, so it all balanced out.

The early expenses? I took a trip to Florida to visit DS#1. I hadn’t seen him since September, and that was not a happy time for any of us.  Prior to that, I hadn’t seen him since the holidays in 2014. A mom needs time with her son, even when he’s a “grown up.” He had plans for extended travel again this spring, so I took a weekend in January to spend a few days enjoying time and conversation with him. Bonus: it was warmer there. Downfall: I returned to a blizzard. I had expected to take this trip later in February; we had to do it in January. But I’m SO glad I was able to spend quality time with my son. Where I stayed was an awesome deal and a very nice place, very close to him, which he selected for me. The trip was a hit to the savings plan. Even though I was still able to transfer a bundle to savings, it could have been more. Some things are more important. Also, I’ve already paid off the charges, so there is no looming debt.

Now I’m planning some no/low cost kitchen updates for the spring and summer. In the past I purchased materials for a few projects that never got done. Well, last year I learned the satisfaction of actually doing the projects with the materials I have sitting in the garage. I’ve been perusing the Interwebz for ideas, tricks and tips. I saw my neighbor’s very easy, very cool renovations. The plan is coming together in my head, and I need to put it on paper soon. More on this project as it progresses.

Also on my agenda is a new computer. I have been having increased problems with my 2007 laptop with XP. (Yeah, really.) We need to upgrade some software, and it won’t run on XP. This will be a big expense, and I’m keeping my eBay funds separate for this.

Coming up with a set date this spring, is our trip to Arlington for Col. FIL’s final farewell. We decided to drive, because that will cost about $400 round trip for three of us. A plane ticket for one is $600 = yikes! Driving also lets us pack more liberally, and take a cooler for meal fixin’s. DS#2 will have his license by then and can help with driving, too. There are also possible college visits! I tried out Trivago for the DC hotel (they were filling up fast), and it funneled me through booking.com. I got a great rate, and the reservation is made without a deposit. Not paying in advance like I thought we would have to, really helps. If I find a better deal, I can cancel the reservation (by a set date) and take that. The room has a full kitchen and we plan on stopping for groceries in the ‘burbs.

This month we celebrate our anniversary and Valentine’s Day. For the first time ever, we have reservations for dinner! My real gift was the trip to Florida, and I’m good with that.

Another awesome thing this month is my “double nickels” birthday! Senior discounts, here we come! Actually, we already get a 50+ senior deal at the bank, and sometimes elsewhere when I ask for them. At 55, though, there are many more available. I’ll certainly be taking advantage of any and all discounts daily, and on our trip to Arlington.

Hey, this means I’ll get carded again! (It’s the little things, isn’t it?)

Have a happy February. Stay safe on the icy streets, and warm in your winter-prepped home. Let me know what you’re up to.