Welcome to our State of the Blog report for October 2017. This month we discuss Halloween antics, Girl Scouts, a trip to the fair and our progress on the to-do list.
But before we get into all the fun stuff, let’s discuss the state of the actual blog.
We had a few blog interactions in October, and that’s led us along some new roads, as well as bringing a few new faces over here.
I had meant to join the forums over at Rockstar Finance forever ago and finally surfed over in September. That means I’m a bit more plugged into the community beyond the 30-40 blogs I’ve been reading on a regular basis. We joined the emergency preparation blog chain. We also had comments featured in a couple of articles: 11 Experts Share Money Conversations Couples Should Have Before Retirement on the Association for Long-Term Care Planning website and Route to FIRE-Reduce Your Spending Roundup on Kiwi and Keenaw.
I also hosted a guest post from Patty from Working Mother Life wrote an article about robo-investing and her experiences with using one to begin her investing journey.
On the design front, I turned on a couple of Amazon ads. I had them on the site before the redesign but had not put any on (other than links) since then. I’ll watch my load times and traffic to make sure I’m not getting a negative response, but I hope they won’t prove too obtrusive.
I’m looking toward the end of the year. Last year, I took one week off to enjoy the holidays and then ended up struggling with burnout in February. This year, I’ll take more time during the holidays in the hope that I can sustain my efforts into next year. This shouldn’t affect too much this month, but I expect to take a break in the second half of December.
Fun Stuff in October
Little Bit’s scout troop had a couple of big events that kept our weekends busy. We enjoyed a trip to Public Safety Day, with the chance to try out a fire hose and chat with police officers and firefighters. Plus, her troop bridged from Daisies to Brownies, which meant new vests, new guidebooks, and a day at the park.
Little Bit also participated in the fall candy and magazine sale. The fall sale is not as big as the cookie sale in the winter, but she’s going to have to work on her sales pitch a bit before January if she wants to compete with the troop’s big sellers. She did, however, get to make a video to advertise the sale to the family members she contacted.
Oh, and there was roller skating too. I put on a pair of roller skates for the first time in about a decade. I was pretty shaky the first few laps around the rink, but by the end, I sort of had my old middle school mojo back. Well, maybe not middle school mojo but at least not in immediate danger of a busted butt.
I gave Little Bit a choice this year between a pumpkin patch/corn maze outing or the NC State Fair.
She chose the fair.
We saved a little bit of money by buying our tickets for both entry and rides in advance and went on a Friday afternoon after school. And while we ate some snacks, we ate lunch before and dinner after we left. Still, it’s not an inexpensive outing even for just the three of us. We spent around $100 when all was said and done.
And after splitting a funnel cake and then riding the Cyclotron, I realized that I really hope Little Bit’s big enough to ride on her own next year...or chooses the corn maze. I am too old for this ride $#&*! At least the ones that go high in the air or spin you around really fast.
That said, I did like looking at the baby chicks, giant pumpkins, and sheer spectacle of the fair. I have great memories but I would prefer to do something less spinny next year.
Little Bit’s school does not allow the kids to dress up in their Halloween costumes.
They can, however, dress up as their favorite storybook character for a parade that happens on Halloween. Or, if your kid has a field trip scheduled for Halloween, on the Friday before Halloween.
Parents are invited, so Jon and I attended as well. In costume.
(We were the only parents marching. The others just took photos. Wimps, lol.)
Jon’s sister found him a gorilla costume at Goodwill ages ago, so he attended as Goodnight Gorilla. He got a lot of laughs and attention.
I repurposed my Master’s robe and bought a witch’s hat as a Professor McGonagall costume, and Little Bit used her Hogwarts outfit one more time as Hermione. For our church’s Fall Frenzy party and for Halloween itself, though, she chose to dress up as a Minecraft ninja.
I skipped out on Trick-or-Treating to nurse my head cold, watching non-child-friendly movies while Little Bit and her Dad hit their favorite candy route. One can only take so much Hocus Pocus and Halloweentown. Occasionally, you have to break out Army of Darkness instead.
The To-Do List
To recap, my goals for the year were to:
- Live Healthier
- Increase Financial Health
- Improve the Blog
- Do Good Things
- Get Rid of Excess Stuff
As I look back on my list, I realize that October was not a great month for goal-slaying.
I procrastinated or got distracted by other things. We went off and did fun stuff as a family or a couple instead of productive stuff on weekends and during the week. I binge-watched The Flash and Riverdale and played King of Avalon, but I did not sustain a lot of the good behaviors I’ve followed off and on for much of the year.
Ugh, October was a bad month. My activity level dropped with less swimming, and I spent the last week curled up in a ball in my chair with a head cold.
About the best I can claim was that I used my impulse to bake sweets for others. One cheesecake went to my in-laws, one pie went to a church fundraiser (I won a pie contest, y’all!) and two pies went to a luncheon for the teachers at Little Bit’s school.
And we ate all our fruit? Most of our veggies? (along with chips. And cookies and chocolate. Yeah, not a good “let’s practice healthy habits” month.)
I probably will just focus on getting my activity level back to reasonable this month. It’s the smaller challenge, and right now I think I’m better off focusing my efforts in a few directions.
Increase Financial Health
I had three financial goals for October. I took care of the easiest one.
Getting my RMD set up for my recently-transferred inherited IRA took a couple of days to gear up for and about half an hour to execute. (I hate making phone calls. Can’t there just be web forms for everything?) Now it’s done and automated for the foreseeable future.
I did not, however, get around to the other two items on my list. I still need to take the certification test for my winter gig, and while I monitor my credit score and activity, I haven’t frozen my credit yet.
I’ll have to spend some time this month on the seasonal job, and have some other classes I will have to complete over the course of the month. Since Little Bit tracks out on Veterans Day for the rest of the month, I’ll need to make that the priority this week.
Improve the Blog
Do Good Things
If there’s been a bright spot where I feel like I’m meeting or exceeding my goals this month, it’s been here.
I shelved books, ran the school store a couple of days, went to a meeting for the school book fair volunteers, and did my usual church commitments. I made pies. We even donated empty milk jugs and duct tape to classroom supplies.
Most weeks, we had 3 or 4 actions to add to the good things category. I’ll call that a win.
Get Rid of Excess Stuff/Organize
Little Bit and I switched out summer and winter items, which gave us a few sweaters and shoes for donation.
I decided to part with a couple of pairs of pants and cleaned up my desk.
And, after participating in the emergency preparedness chain, I decided to shift some of my important paperwork from a folder to an envelope. If I ever have to grab my birth certificate and Social Security card quickly, I won’t have to worry about it falling out. Since Little Bit gave me her accumulated allowance for her new computer, I also started an emergency cash stash. We may not be able to jet off to Rio on it, but at least we can gas up the car, buy some granola bars and beef jerky, and check into a motel.
Wrapping Up October 2017
As we wrap up October and I shake off this head cold, I realize that it was probably a pretty good month in most of the ways that count. No, it wasn’t the uber-frugal, life-changing no spend October we had in 2015. I didn’t end it with the pride of accomplishment in kicking off new activities that I shared after September.
Nope. We just had fun. Lots and lots of fun activities. In addition to everything I mentioned above,
- Little Bit and I made our own butter. Super easy. Put heavy cream in a cold glass jar and shake until it solidifies. We added a little salt and thought it was delicious on roles. While this was a math/science enrichment activity, it’s also a cool way to let your kiddos help with Thanksgiving…and keep them busy for a few minutes.
- Jon and Little Bit made peanut butter cookies.
- We had 3 bonfire nights and two trips to the library.
- Jon and I snuck off for mid-afternoon matinees to catch Dunkirk and Blade Runner 2049.
- We visited an art gallery which specialized in using everyday objects to create whimsical sculptures.
- Jon and I both cashed in rewards points for Starbucks gift cards to satisfy our PSL cravings for the season.
- Little Bit got her new computer! She’s set her next savings goal: A Nintendo Switch.
One glance at this list and I’m thinking “No wonder I got tired. I did EVERYTHING! Geez, every month should be this good.”
That’s a pretty good way to feel about the previous month.
How did October go for you?