State of the Blog March 2017

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.

Blog Stuff

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.

Personal Updates

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.

Gifting

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.

Short Shots

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.

 

 

State of the Blog March 2017

 

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.

Thanks for coming by. You can follow us on  TwitterFacebook. Pinterest,  Google+ and StumbleUpon. Also feel free to let us know if you have a topic you’d like us to cover. or just want to say hi!

How did March go for you? Any tips for getting back to a productive mindset?

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich.*

 

 

36 thoughts on “State of the Blog March 2017

  1. I’m looking forward to some warmer, more consistent weather myself. I always enjoy springtime. I find it always adds a little spring 🙂 to one step. Birds chirping, fresh air from open windows, not need for heat or AC yet. I’m hoping this will do the same for you. I suggest just focusing on one thing and be great at it, often when we stare down a list of multiple tasks we can feel overwhelmed. Good luck Emily!
    Brian recently posted…Net Worth Update: March 2017My Profile

  2. I’m in the same boat as you – I’m not exactly sure how to stay productive on the right things.

    Each weekend I make a list of 5-10 things I want to get done, and I get done with 2 or 3 of them. Still productive, but never as productive as I would like to be.

    March was okay – I read 5 books and paid down some extra mortgage. Other than that, not too eventful!

    Thanks for sharing 🙂
    Erik @ The Mastermind Within recently posted…My Goal to Read 75 Books – March 2017 Check-inMy Profile

    • 5 books and extra payment sounds pretty good to me, Erik. Maybe not eventful, but definitely moving toward your goals for the year.

  3. I don’t know about you, but I need to see some sunshine! We’ve had 2+ weeks of clouds and cold drizzle here. Just having a warmish, sunny day would feel so good.

    March was weird for me to. Lots of up and down on where I want to go with the blog (and other things in life). Sometimes treading is exactly what you need in order to allow yourself to step back and ponder the next steps. Have you read Essentialism? The Explore step – taking time to read, play, think to figure out what is essential. I love that step. 🙂
    Amanda @ centsiblyrich recently posted…An easy way to save for vacationMy Profile

    • We’ve had more rain than usual, but a fair amount of sunshine too. Nothing really to complain about for sure.
      I have not read Essentialism, I’ll have to check it out. Thanks, Amanda.

    • Oh, yeah, I’m off my rhythm with a variable work schedule, and that contributes to my struggles. It did last year, too, but I was working much less. A set schedule adds structure, and I can get a lot more done with that structure. On the other hand, I feel like sometimes even though it’s harder to get back into the rhythm after time off, sometimes you can be more productive because you are coming in with fresh eyes.

      Thanks for commenting, Troy.

  4. I have been sick with the flu/upper respiratory infection and I am sick of being sick! It’s gone on for weeks although I’m finally getting better now. I can feel my productivity starting to rebound and I hope yours comes back too. Getting into spring should help, although here we’ve been drenched with April showers.
    Gary @ Super Saving Tips recently posted…How to Maximize Your Social Security BenefitsMy Profile

  5. I love how honest you are! And one post per week sounds very reasonable – especially given the fact you have other goals (maybe too many?) you’re working towards. I wasn’t even able to manage one per week this past while with my mom having to move to assisted living. But as a wise person once said: “sometimes, you just need to tread water for a while before you continue a longer swim.” Oh right – that was you : )
    Allow yourself the grace that is yours to have, and move forward in it. Like you, I’m looking forward to more sun. It’s coming!
    Fruclassity (Ruth) recently posted…How Much Money Do I Need to Retire?My Profile

    • Thanks, Ruth. And yeah, I may have too many goals.

      I can’t imagine the emotional toll that moving a parent into assisted living might take. Bureaucracy, the physical task of moving and downsizing, and the feelings could easily get overwhelming. Not surprising that you had to shift your focus a bit.

  6. I hear commercials for Great Wolf Lodge often and it sounds like fun!

    It sounds as if your goal to move to Vanguard is the most tedious – detaching from a family advisor, the name change, new accounts. Perhaps you should make that one a top priority? Without it looming in the background your other goals might be easier to handle.
    Mrs Groovy recently posted…A New, New Low for Stacking BenjaminsMy Profile

  7. I think you are doing the right thing by going to one post per week. Blogging should be a relaxing experience in itself and one should find their own pace and follow their own rhythm. One post a week works fine for me and gives me time to read and make meaningful connections with the online community.

    It is nice that you were able to sort out the fender bender with minimal impact to your wallet. Great wolf lodge is fantastic choice for a family. We have been there and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

    Unless you have something to gain with an advisor, you are giving away dollars. I think you should prioritize and sort out your investment decisions.

    • Little Bit has been begging to do Great Wolf Lodge forever, so I’m glad she chose it as her birthday celebration. Most people we know who’ve gone have really enjoyed it.

  8. Emily, I’m so happy you decided to take the time you need. In blogging you’re your own boss, though it’s hard to treat yourself as well as you’d hope 9-5 boss would with time off for sick days and just time off in general. We all need to rest sometimes.
    It also sounds like you’re evaluating what’s most important to you with jobs, volunteer work, clutter, etc. and it’s only natural that some parts of the blog will be less meaningful than others.
    Hang in there and I hope that you’re feeling better soon.

    • Thanks, Julie. Yes, I’m doing some soul searching. I guess I finally admitted to my dad that we’re considering ourselves “semi-retired.” And I’ve been thinking what that really means for a while, and that should mean more relaxation, more activity, and less stress. There are some things that need to fall into place for those other things to happen, like decluttering, that I need to be putting more energy towards.

  9. I’m hopeful for a change in your mood with the new season. Do you take vitamins? Have you ever checked your Vitamin D levels? The reason I ask is because after my recent Glucose screening, I found out that my Vitamin D was extremely low. My doctor put me on a supplement. Just mentioning it 🙂

    Great Wolf Lodge sounds like a great way to spend a birthday. It’s on our to-do for one of these winters – probably once all of the kids are big enough to swim.
    Harmony@CreatingMyKaleidoscope recently posted…Our Unique Solution To The Problem Of How To Transport A Large FamilyMy Profile

    • I don’t take vitamins, but that might help. I certainly need to spend more time outside…winter and sedentary work probably contribute to the blahs. Summertime and sunshine are likely to help.

      Yep, one of the reasons we’ve waited on Great Wolf Lodge is that we wanted Little Bit to be a reasonably good swimmer and we wanted her to be tall enough to do most things. At just shy of 4 feet, she should be good.

  10. Nice work ringing the bell on RAI. That’s worked out great. I agree that finding new ideas of similar quality is a little tricky in the current market.

    Also love the new goal. We’ve done some serious disposing lately and although hard at first it quickly becomes liberating. Enjoy! 🙂

    • It was a good time to sell, especially since I’d decided BAT’s balance sheet didn’t satisfy my investment criteria. I think holding on a little longer meant an extra $3-$4 dollars a share, too, although mostly I just wanted to see how things shook out with the merger talks.

  11. “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.” I agree with that for sure! There are definitely periods of time when my real life is so overwhelming that maintaining my blog becomes next to impossible and the idea of growing in any way is shoved so far into the corner. But at the end of those periods, it’s still there for me to put the effort in and grow when I’m ready. I don’t know for sure, but it seems to me that blogging is really a slow and steady marathon more than anything else.

    • Blogging is slow and steady, and sometimes I get frustrated by my rate of progress, and other times I figure I just need to keep plugging. The support I get from you guys who take the time to comment and interact is fantastic, and I know it’s helped me reach a lot of my nonblogging goals.

  12. That was the best possible outcome for an accident, I’m so glad that went ok.

    Trying to force yourself to be productive during depressive episodes, in my opinion, is pretty futile. Maybe not for others, but definitely for me. Even I, reformed workaholic though I am, have finally accepted that.

    If I can’t MAKE myself be more productive with the usual methods (a stern talking to, or telling a friend that I’m going to do something and therefore creating guilt for myself if I don’t follow through), then I accept that it’s because my brain is not yet ready and that I have to quit trying to force it. You’ll be ready when you’re ready. We’ll be here.

    On that topic, I need to get back into the mood for decluttering so I appreciate your sharing the goal. It’s a nice little bit of motivation.
    Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life recently posted…My kid and notes from Year 2.1My Profile

    • Thanks, Revanche. It would be nice to just be able to shake it off, but I’m having to go through the tunnel instead. Giving myself the peace to accept that I’m in a narrower space has relieved a lot of the pressure.

    • After trying to find places for all of Little Bit’s toys last month, Vickie, I was selling the trip pretty hard. She understands GWL is both her party and her present, though we’ll do a dinner party with the family on her actual birthday.

  13. Hey, Emily. One post a week is fine. Every blogger struggles with ideas for posts and maintaining a happy balance between the blogging avocation and life. What saves me is having a blogging partner. Would Jon consider getting more involved with the blog?
    Mr. Groovy recently posted…Is Your Life A Slave to Freedom By Choice?My Profile

    • When we started (and were trying to write 5 posts a week), Jon was writing once a week. Then it dropped down to about once a month, and now it’s less. I’d love him to write more, but he stays busy especially when I’m working more. I’m hoping he can write a bit more when my time frees up enough to take some of the daily load off of him.

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