Changing Our Financial Focus

Now that hubby’s medical condition will be preventing him from flying in the near future, I don’t see the need anymore to maintain our frequent flyer mileage credit cards any longer. Next month, when the bill is due I am going to make it our final bill. I’m not going to close the accounts since that will affect our credit scores. We’re just not going to use them anymore.

In its place, we have a smallish credit limit on another credit card that offers cash back on most purchases (namely gas, restaurants and groceries…..perfect for our lifestyle!) We called today and had our credit limit increased and we will be utilizing this card to make future purchases AND get some cash back. They credit the cash back to either the card or your checking/savings account in $25 increments. So, that’s a very good thing!

What, you might ask, am I going to do with all the frequent miles we’ve already accumulated? A recent review showed that I still have 35,000 miles and hubby has 15,000. There is no reason in the world why I can’t fly, so I am still going to stick to my travel bucket list. I am transferring DH’s miles to my own account (family share program). I still want to go to that darn Grand Canyon and I still want to go to Barcelona. I’ve spoken to my sister and she has agreed to take the two trips with me sometime in the very near future. Knowing my sister and I, we’ll probably have a blast!

woman
We women must balance out everything!

One of the biggest, unexpected bills that came in this year was our propane heating bill. Since this was the first time in several years that we remained in the northeast this winter, we were hit with a $997 fuel bill! In other words, when we winter in Florida, we actually save money because we’re NOT heating up our home above 55F degrees. So, I’ve booked a series of RV parks starting January 1, 2020 and ending March 10, 2020. We’re starting with St. Augustine as our first stop, then Vero Beach, West Palm Beach with a final destination in Sarasota (and a wrap up at my sisters home). I am so looking forward to finally being a beach bum for 2.5 months! (as all sites are on the beach, yay!) Total cost for 10 winter weeks in the Florida sunshine: $2032.28, which translates into $203 per week! Where can you go for only $200 a week? As I’ve always stated: RVing really is the best way for us to travel!

Also, I want to start keeping a closer eye on our monthly spending. At the end of the month, after all income checks have been deposited into our account and verified, once I pay ALL our bills (medical insurance, car insurance, utilities etc) we have around $900 liquid cash left over. This money is earmarked for groceries ($500 per month) vehicle gas ($100 per month) and misc spending ($300 per month BUT, this is where the problems arise. We’re not sticking to the $300 budget limit!) Starting April 1st, I’m going to keep a running tab of these expenditures on my desktop so I can keep track of our spending in a glance.

My oldest daughter is once again rearing her nasty head. I’m not going to go into any detail but I’m tired of this person causing me heart-felt pain and grief. I changed ALL my beneficiaries on ALL my financial holdings and she has been written off of everything, save $1 (one dollar) “for reasons that are known to her”. I’ve given my youngest daughter a copy of my will and we have discussed the grief her sister has caused the both of us. DH and I are contemplating passing down our home to our youngest daughter 100%. We will either co-exist till DH and I both drop dead or we may remodel the barn into a livable studio apartment and reside there while my youngest and her family take over the main house. I’m not sure yet what we are going to do. The only thing I am sure of is the elimination of that toxic older daughter of mine out of my every-day life.

Lastly, DH has landed some top paying gigs over the next few months. We’re going to sock most of this money away in saving accounts with our brokerage firm. We will probably deposit the money into layered brokered FDIC CD accounts. We need this money over the next three years so we can’t take any risks with it at all. CD’s are paying 3% now for accounts held for 2 years or more. Our timeline is 3 years.

In conclusion, a word about my diet status. I was 5 pounds away from one of my major goals. When I got on the scale last week to see how I was edging towards my goal, I had gained 4 pounds instead of losing the 5 pounds, which meant I was now 9 pounds away from my major goal. This did NOT sit well with me at all. What was the point of following this new low-carb diet if the results were going to be disappointing? So, I went on a massive carb eating frenzy.

I think the final straw came when I prepared this home-made, low-carb, cauliflower-based pizza “dough”. I will admit the commercial specimen was palpable BUT my home-made version was a disgusting flop. It looked nice but once you cut in to the pie, it turned into a mushy mess. And it tasted awful.

 

I’m back on a diet, but I tweaked it to suit me a bit more. I love the smoothie shakes. I agree that I should eat less carbs and refrain from sugar, but this Italian girl’s gotta have her pizza, with real crispy, crunchy bread dough! So, I’m back on the bandwagon. I won’t however, be weighing myself for a good two weeks. I think the remnants of the destruction I did to myself should be gone by then.

Note: I did make cauliflower “rice” and it was excellent! I’ll figure this out. I’ll get to my goal. Just hide those canolli’s from me from now on. 🙂

Update: I contacted the concierge of MGM Bellagio Hotel to inquire if they could sell my two tickets to “O” Cirque Du Soleil, even though they were stated as non-refundable. I was hoping the person could sell them for me. I told them ‘anything they could do to help me would be appreciated”. I gave them the seat numbers, my account number and name purchased under. Within a few hours, the concierge wrote back to me. He had forwarded my email to the management. They refunded my ticket price 100%. I got a full refund! Praise God!

Wrap up: I didn’t lose one single penny on the cancellation of this trip! Everyone was extremely kind and considerate to me. I am grateful and thankful for their kindness.

32 comments

  1. Wow! Oh Wow! There are so many important life choices that you revealed in this post.
    Dis zoning a daughter is MAJOR.
    Committing your major financial resource your home to the other daughter when it may have to be sold to provide for your needs is CRAZY! And may also be a little vindictive to the hurt you feel from your older daughter. I would also look at Medicaid rules on gifts if it is still a five year look back that they can go after it to pay your bills.
    The Two half months as a beach bum sounds marvelous and at such a great price 👍. Looks like the only thing missing is scoring some Key West time.
    At our ages your weight can fluctuate ten pounds just in water retention so I wouldn’t worry to much it’s probably due to less exercise and swimming since you came home too.
    As I’ve written before Bank of America travel and cash rewards credit cards work great for me and the travel works on camping fees. The ability to select a category now for the highest reward each month is awesome.I usually use the 5.25% for gas and will switch it to groceries when I stockpile gift cards and November thanksgiving and holiday baking purchases.
    Great news Nick has lined up some more high paying gigs-to help with expenses for three years.
    Sincerely, Lara

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    • Lara I’ll check out those Bank of America cards. Key west is impossible to book. I tried every day for months. Finally I called. The burp knocked out almost 900 RV sites. There are over hundreds if not thousands of people nationally vying for those sites. I’ll try again next year.
      I gave the home much thought. If we do need cash I’ll have my youngest buy the home from us. Well def make that five year rule.
      Thanks for your comments.

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    • Lara, may I inquire how does your reward card work on camping fees? Do you mean it can be used for nightly/weekly lot rental fees?

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      • Bank of America has two rewards credit card program The 123 card has different tiers with the amount you have total between Bank Of America and Merrill Edge account. I transferred from My Fidelity IRA including broker CDs to Merrill to be in their top tier of 75% additional bonus rewards. I did the IRA transfer between January 1 and April 15 to get their double bonus reward money for IRA funds. Every $25 accumulated reward points is automatically transferred to my brokerage account or you can opt to put it in your checking. The travel card if you apply online has bonus reward points, if you spend so much in I think the first three months and also has the bonus tier percentages, too depending on your combined BAC and Merrill Edge. You charge your camp fees and other travel, hotels on the credit card and you have a year to use accumulated points on these camp fees and other travel categories. In the Premier Honors category it Makes each dollar you charge worth 2.65points. My Travel credit card bonus was 20,000 points ($200). You request the travel credit and its deducted on your next month bill when you call to use your accumulated points and you can take multiple credits to the same travel expense over the course of a year. All the information on their current credit card rewards programs benefit can be reviewed at Bank of America site. Hope this helps. I loved layering multiple rewards to get more moola in my pocket. Sincerely, Lara

        Liked by 1 person

      • Bobby Yes the nightly/ weekly camp fees and depending on how other purchases are coded by the camp grounds, it also has been credited on store purchases at the camp site but this is hit or miss. I also used the credit on airline seat and baggage charges that were charged as separate billing. Lara

        Liked by 2 people

    • My oldest doesn’t have a clue about anything. I’m just tired of her hurting my feelings. On the outside everything looks normal. I see everybody all the time. That includes the grands.

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  2. Totally with you on the diet frustration. I managed to drop 10 lbs. a few months ago, cannot move the scale an ounce on the other eight lbs. that I want to shed. I’m so tired of living on 1000-1200 calories per day and always being hungry and the scale not moving. Sigh. First world problems, I know.

    Also, on the rotten kids front. 😀 We have cut our three sons out of our wills and sent ALL funds straight to the grandchildren. Absolutely stunned at the adult behavior of all three. Don’t even call or come to visit when one of us is hospitalized.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anne, that’s horrible about the kids. What is it with them? Mine included.
      At least you’re holding off those 10 pounds. Somethings gotta give.
      Ugh.
      Thanks for your comments.

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  3. Cindi. You have mediterranean blood in you, silly. YOU MUST NOT GIVE UP PASTA & BREAD. Lol. Actually, I’m so sick of hearing about low carbs and Keto. Everybody seems to be hopping on that bandwagon. It’s scary how many people are passionately defending it. CRAZY. Because you know in just 2 years they will find out all that fat is hurting them.

    You easily lost weight in Florida. No stress and and lots of exercise. Stress makes pounds stick to you like glue and when you are happy and not stressed, you will exercise and take the time to eat good foods. Pasta can certainly be enjoyed in moderation.

    My suggestion is to try to work on stress levels. (Less time with older daughter, more time doing things YOU love to do). I must admit I’ve been on the struggle bus with losing weight. It’s just coming off really s-l-o-w. But that’s okay, I’m enjoying life.

    Hang in there. I’m here for ya. 🙂

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    • Thanks Sharon. I’m eating between 50 and 150 grams of carbs a day. Sunday is pasta day still. But I’m still laying off the bread.
      I’ll figure it out.
      Just wish the weather would warm up. 👍

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    • Sue, our cousins weren’t going to be there in Las Vegas on April 5th, when the tickets were purchased for. They didn’t want them nor did they know anyone who was going to be in Vegas at that period. I was going to chuck it up to a loss but I wrote the concierge at MGM, who in turn passed my email over to management and she issued me a full refund. It was a really great save!!!
      Thanks for asking.

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  4. I so admire how you work through all of these situations and come out ahead! WAY to go. Don’t worry about the diet and weight, it’ll come around to where you want to be!

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    • Thanks Shelly. I found out that by easing up on the carbs, and allowing myself between 50 and 150 carb grams a day, I can stick with this diet. No carbs was not working out. Ditto for sugar. I have a wee bit of sugar per day and all is well. I lost the 4 pounds I gained and am back on track. I know I am because I just came back from food shopping and I walked by the bakery without blinking an eye! I bought nothing there and I wasn’t tempted. It’s all good!
      Thanks for your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Dear Cindi,
    A long time ago when interest from banks was pittance I told you about brokerage CDS with longer maturities and 3.6 % and better interest. The rate environment has changed and we have had some days of interest rate inversion and the Fed has slowed rate increases. Rate inversions are when short term Treasuries are paying better then ten years. This different environment has made my long term callable CDS with 15 years to be worth more then it’s par and an opportunity to sell it and invest it in preferred stocks, Reits, and bank bonds paying three times as much adding $600 more per month to my passive income stream. Optimization my 2019 focus. You should check out what your Fidelity CDs are worth. Flexibility can be a good thing and get you out of needing to watch every penny! Lara

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    • Hi Lara. The Feds are going to drop their rates again this month. That means my callable CDs will go up again in value. Right now, they are worth more than I paid PLUS I have taken out the interest every month, which helps my bottom line. Why would I take a sure thing, such as my callable CDs, sell them and then buy risky investments such as bank bonds, REITS and stocks? If we really have a recession in the very near future, as most economists are screaming, these new investments may go down in value while my CD becomes even more valuable???
      It’s a little too late in the game for me to take risks. Especially with the unstreadiness of hubby’s health. I can withdraw out of the CDs in $1,000 increments. I’m earning 4.21% and I am very happy where I am right now.

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  6. 4.21% beats the 3.6% I had and is great but the value of the broker CD does fluctuate and is callable which has happened to me three times on my higher interest earning ones. Nothing is without Risk! It seems you are always pinching pennies after you are doing some spending. I ‘ d rather be making more money and not go into self sacrifice , and severe frugal mode and so worried about inflation on things I need. IMHO, Expanding to other choices that also have growth and income is a smart move. Sincerely Lara

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    • Lara I went bust two times in my lifetime. Doesn’t take much. It happens very quickly. My risk taking days are over. Where do you see me pinching pennies? Where is the self sacrifice? I can have whatever I want. Fact is I don’t want anything.
      Go figure.

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      • From Your post on Solvency and elimination of eating out and spending on entertainment, limiting using the indoor pool and exercise to two days a week, are all self sacrifice and penny pinching mode. Expecting Nick to do the yard work this summer instead of hiring new help is not you self sacrificing but could be detrimental and sacrifice his heart health. Lara

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      • First off nick wants to do the yard work. Especially now that he is home more. He’s loving it.
        Second there’s only so much in anyone’s budget. Everyone makes concessions. Otherwise they all would really suffer and go bankrupt. Sometimes the solution isn’t to earn more money but spend wiser.
        I wouldn’t call using the gym 2X a week vs 3X a week a sacrifice. Not going to a gym at all is the sacrifice.
        We still go out to eat but the $15 minimum wage has made restaurant meals ridiculous. Prices have become unreasonable. Why should I continue this insanity? Not worth it.
        I live in a rich neighborhood in a beautiful house on acreage. I drive a luxury car and I can go food shopping and buy whatever I want without looking at the price. Yes I have a monthly budget but if I break it I won’t be starving anytime soon. I’m still going to concerts but only seeing who I want to see. Just bought tix to see Jay Leno in October. I don’t know anyone else seeing broadway shows or Vegas concerts. Do you?
        I think you have fiscal responsibility confused with fiscal maturity. As we get older we should take better care of our financial health. Nick sitting on a John Deere tractor does him a world of good rather than pay someone else hundreds if not thousands of dollars per season. Less stress for sure.

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    • Oh I just remembered I do have another investment. A money market that is based on government bonds plus pays a monthly dividend. That’s about all the risk I can stand right now.

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  7. You asked why I thought you were pinching pennies and self sacrificing and I gave you some examples from your articles. Perhaps you don’t realize the mix messages.
    The unexpected $3400 Nick gross recently you explained you spend for travel and entertainment ( the eating out and concerts) which extend your budget discretionary items and save some for future items. Your blog posts swing like a pendulum from spending to needing to rein in your spending and trimming and watching every expenditure. IMHO. Thus the need for penny pinching and self sacrificing causing unhappiness and probably anger too. It also led to eating more sweets that pack on the weight. The cycle of sacrifice and reward. Lara

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    • Lara you just described everyone’s every day life. That’s how it is. Every day is different from the day before. Every day is a new challenge that sometimes need new solutions to be met.
      That’s not a mixed message.
      It’s reality.

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  8. I do not have fiscal responsibility confused with financial maturity. There is no time in our lives that we should not strive for financial health and I think your past history should have taught you this. When you no longer have a paycheck and are retired and have to rely on pensions, Social Security and your savings for an indeterminate length of time it makes discretionary spending and inflationary increases on everything that reduces your savings or investment stream of income more worrisome. I chose to be more proactive-taking advantage of more travel and rewards cards, the increasing interest environment, taking advantage of entertainment discounts including three Broadway shows in the last year and three other shows, and stretching my food dollars with frugal techniques I have used all my adult life. I saw the highest personal inflation in 2018 as a widow due to increase health cost, tornado damage, home maintenance and lifestyle inflation. Thankfully, Financial planning with an adequate emergency fund I could cover all these increases. Changing my investment strategy has replaced all of my emergency fund and I am now saving for other goals. I recognize self sacrifice and penny pinching on some aspects of your life because I did it for my kids college life to reduce the amount of student loans needed and for three years as a widow before I got my full widow’s pension. I am at a different time of my life then you even though you are two years older-all of my income streams are in place. I want what the extra money can buy more home services, organic foods, a warmer home, more entertainment, splurging on activities with my kids and grandkids, new siding on my home, new flooring and kitchen cabinets, travels to do genealogy research, and painting classes and so much more. First I dream, then I set priorities, plan and save, and then pursue my dreams. I think this is all four, financial planning, responsibility, maturity and financial health.
    Our education system should teach financial education from elementary school. When we finish high school we should have a firm understanding of personal finance other then are parents ways of handling money. We should strive from the beginning of getting paid for our labor for financial goal setting, saving, and when to use credit and when to postpone a purchase. Sincerely, Lara

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    • I don’t think any book written or article printed can teach anybody anything except the real experience. Until you are actually retired, nothing IMHO covers the truth except going through it physically oneself. The inability to go out there and earn a living is the most frightening thing I have ever undergone. I’m starting to feel the pangs of aging and it’s not a nice thing at all. Yes one day I feel confident. Next day I’m a bag of mashed potatoes. No one can remain lucid till the end.

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      • Yes are experiencing aging is individualized because we all are different . BUT We have very differient opinions on this. To me: Knowledge is Power and I will pursue it all of my life. I do incorporate it into how I design my life. I have been retired since 1998 and reading oodles of financial books and articles since the 1970’s. I started a profitable entrepreneurial business with $100 in 2000 thanks to reading about starting a business on a shoestring. I Was my own boss for four years and could work around my parents care giving needs.
        The book “How to live free in and Unfree world” was life changing for me after My DH death and I so wish I had read thirty years before.
        Learning about the new science on your brain neurological pathways has made my life so much more content and happy and helped me to get out of the valley of grieving.
        The FIRE community blogs have change much of my investment and tax strategy all for the better.
        And my Life by my Design is so much better nutritionally from research, creatively, and researching the best exercise for my physical short comings. Thank you to all the people who have taken the time to share their knowledge and make me wiser for it. Sincerely, Lara

        Liked by 1 person

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