Welcome to our State of the Blog report for March 2017. This month, we discuss treading water, the resolution of a fender bender, and tips for buying birthday presents.
March came in like the proverbial lion with some snow showers after an extremely warm February. Now we’ve returned to a semi-normal Raleigh early springtime, where you can’t tell whether you need to don t-shirts or warm sweaters without checking the weather report. We’re all sniffly from the pollen and ready for my seasonal job to wrap up.
So much for two posts a week. After not posting much in February, and saying “I’ll get back to normal now,” I didn’t. I think I’m still struggling with some emotional upheaval that’s got me preoccupied. Instead of trying to push through it this time, I think it might be better to try dealing with it. So I gave myself some space to do so.
I decided to drop back to one post a week, at least through April. For a while, I’ll be releasing posts on Tuesdays. At some point, maybe I’ll get back to 2 a week.
In the meantime, I’m trying to put that non-writing time back into reading other folks’ blog posts, commenting, and sharing. I feel I’ve been missing out on a bunch of great posts without a great excuse. Nor have I been doing much on social media. The result is that we’ve dropped back to our pre-Christmas numbers as far as views and visits. But sometimes, you just need to tread water for a while before you continue a longer swim, and that’s where I find myself with the blog.
The Fender Bender
As I mentioned in our last state of the blog, I opened the month with a little fender-bender in the church parking lot.
Fortunately, the person whose car I backed into made the process as easy as possible. She got multiple estimates and agreed to go with the lowest. I raided our reserves and wrote her a check. Jon ordered a tail light assembly from Amazon for less than $70 for my car. He installed it last weekend.
Needless to say, I parked in a different spot when I went to church for the rest of the month. We were lucky. You can’t always wrap up the impact of a car accident quickly, amicably and completely out of pocket.
We did, and long term, it will probably save us some money, at least relative to paying higher car insurance premiums.
I have a confession to make.
My mother-in-law used to sell stuffed animals. That’s meant that for 6 and a half years, we avoided buying kid birthday presents. We just raided the stash of bunnies, bears, and dinosaurs whenever a birthday invite was in the offing.
There’s still quite a stash, but Little Bit’s friends have mostly aged out of cuddlies. We’ve finally had to look for cool, reasonably priced kid presents instead, just like everyone else. So to keep the spending reasonable, I’ve found a couple of hints.
- I stick to a $10- $20 price point. Occasionally I’ve found something utterly awesome for less than $10, but I think $10-$20 gets reasonable quality to cost ratios.
- I mostly shop online. It’s way easier to shop within my price point using a filter on Amazon than searching the shelves at Target.
- I don’t let Little Bit do the shopping. Even aside from avoiding the whole “You can only buy it with your money” conversation, she tends to pick out more expensive toys for her friends. I do talk to Little Bit about what her friends like, though.
So what have I found? A giant pink flamingo raft, a glow stick science kit, and a huge dolphin kite were some of my favorites. And none of them were items I probably would have found, much less bought, had I gone to Walmart.
Now that British American Tobacco completed their deal with Reynolds American, I pulled the trigger on selling the rest of the RAI stock. For now, I’m sitting on the proceeds. There seems to be enough uncertainty that holding extra cash sounds like a good idea.
Little Bit agreed to forego a birthday party this year in exchange for a trip to Great Wolf Lodge. While I think we found a happy medium for her birthday party last year between spending too much and not spending smartly enough to have a good time, I’m just as happy she chose to follow a different path this year, even if we may end up spending a bit more.
The To-Do List
Argh. Just no. I failed miserably on almost every front this month.
To recap, my goals for the year were to:
- Live Healthier
- Increase Financial Health
- Improve the Blog
- Do Good Things
I’ve already discussed the blog. I wrote a limited number of posts and didn’t do any blog classes. I’ll work more on that toward the end of this month.
As far as health goes, I still am doing okay with limiting sweets during the week. But I struggle to exercise enough. Once my seasonal job ends mid-April, I’ll try to put more focus on that goal, too.
I thought I had a new volunteer opportunity, but it seems to have fallen through. And I made no progress on moving my accounts over to Vanguard, other than deciding I really need to move all of them rather than just the retirement accounts. I respect and like the advisor I inherited from my mom, but I noticed again how high his fees are. Time to work on step one: getting my current accounts at Vanguard into my current legal name instead of my maiden name.
A New Goal: Get Rid of Stuff
I did add something to my goals list last month: get rid of some of our excess stuff. And, happily, I made a little progress by selling and then donating a bunch of Little Bit‘s outgrown clothes. We cleaned out her bookcase and put aside all the baby books for my nephew. And Jon cleaned out the barn and garage and has even agreed he might sell one of his project cars.
There’s a lot of work left to go. And my obvious targets to get rid of are not Jon’s. The other day, I asked if I could throw away some old candle jars, but he wanted to keep them to make candles in. Sigh.
In the meantime, my goal is to get rid of at least one box of junk a week and go through at least one tote of Little Bit’s toys to determine what we will keep versus give away.
Wrapping Up March 2017
So March felt much like February, without Little Bit underfoot and with a bit less depression.
There seems to be a break in the clouds coming, though. I’m holding out hope that spring will bring renewal and focus.
How did March go for you? Any tips for getting back to a productive mindset?
*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich.*