Sunday, April 19, 2020

A Hike in The Woods. An Unexpected Spiritual Experience.

April 20, 2020

A few weeks back a friend posted a picture of a trail and there was the lake and it looked peaceful and fairly flat.  On my birthday last year I decided that this year I would hike 12 different trails and then the pandemic hit. We managed to get to three trails (one twice) by March.
Every time I am in the woods it soothes me. The smell, the earth, the wind, the sun, I need it all, like my body needs air, my soul needs nature.
My son Cole and I set out to the state park with honestly no idea the length of the trail or how difficult it would be. For some reason I assumed it wouldn't be very long or hard. I assumed wrong. We found the trail head and from the map it didn't look to hard, until it started going up, and up, and narrow, and over rocks and "Wow, there is the lake"! What felt like 2 miles in my son says "I think we are at a half a mile mom". What! Oh my gosh, the first mile and a half my body wanted to quit. It wasn't terrible but it was challenging and the thought of going on for 3 more miles of this I did't know if I could do. Then we hit the summit and the overlook. A nearly 360 degree view of the lake and mountains and it was breath taking. Lake Quachita is home for me. As a child my dad worked for the state park so we I literally lived there on the weekends.
 I believe I would like my ashes scattered here one day when I pass on. This lake has always been part of me since I was a baby and I raised my babies in this water, baptized by nature. It was here that I taught my babies about the importance of leaving things better than you found them. We would take our old party barge out and we would clean up any trash before we would swim or eat, always leaving it better than we found it.
As we were leaving the summit I could not see the trail except for the one we came in on, and my son pointed to the sign leading us on and I looked up through boulders at the small path going up and over as a man who approached said "It doesn't get any easier going that way". There was a moment I thought "I need to go back downhill the way we came". That was 1.5 miles back or we could go 2.5 miles and finish the trail, I decided to proceed.  *I should mention here that I am pretty fit. I walk at least a mile a day on my treadmill and my pedometer often shows on any given day I walk six to seven miles, I also do yoga, calisthenics, and cardio on the regular. So I knew I could do it if I had to.
As we went on the trail went up, and down, over rocks, near the shore, over bridges, through scrub and at one point we were at the bottom of a very rough looking hill going straight up. This is when I felt it deep inside my soul, this was a metaphor for what is happening in the world now, "Don't look up, look at what is right before you, put one foot in front of the other. You don't know whats ahead of you or how long you have to go but there will be an end to this. You can do this, you are strong." As I walked the feeling of walking the Labyrinth at our church camp came over me and that same feeling of the journey, the dark night of the soul, came over me. It may seem over dramatized but it wasn't so much the difficulty of the trail, in fact four miles is not that much for me. It was the message I was feeling in my heart. Not something you think, but something you feel in your soul. "This is beautiful and hard." Yes, life is beautiful in it's stillness and hard in the unknowing right now. There is so much pain in the world now, anger, sadness, and also so much beauty in the slowing down, learning what truly matters.
We didn't know what we were in for yesterday but we knew we could do it. We had each other, water, and what we needed. We had conversation and beauty. We had our collective strength. At one point about half way through we both said later we thought about turning around at the summit and decided in our own minds to move forward. We also talked about how we both felt that after we left the summit we felt a new strength. My son was talking about his future, his career, his plans and desires for the future and I told him my feelings about proceeding with your passion & not to take the easy route. Even if I didn't fully understand what he is wanting to do, I do know that when you have a God given passion in your soul you should follow that. He told me as we reached the end of the trail, "That last part of the trail went by so fast as I talked about what I wanted for my future.  It became easier as I discussed what I really cared about".  (Paraphrased)
Sometimes you know that you are experiencing something special and for me yesterday in the Ouachita Mountains, my home, I felt it. That message one feels from their soul is something you don't forget, it's a shift. That is what I want to convey, sometimes you feel a shift and you know that it is changing you.  This life we are in right now, its' going to be hard, and beautiful, long and tough, up hill and down hill but there will be an end and you will come out of it maybe sore, tired, a little beat up and sunburned but you will have a whole new respect for yourself, your body, your mind, and what is truly important in life.
Courtney and Cole (Mom and Son)

Friday, April 17, 2020

When Grief Hits. A Pandemic Experience Story.

*Pictured my kids and myself. Miller, me, Cole, Felisha & Will. Christmas 2018.

My body aches, my joints are so sore, my temperature is lower than normal and I have brain fog. Hashimotos Thyroiditis is kicking my butt and I truly believe it's because of stress. As a Stress Management Specialist I know all to well how stress impacts the body. No one is immune from stress.

So many introverts joke about this being normal. As an introvert myself I could relate, at first, but weeks on end of not seeing my kids or parents, cancelling trips we have planned, and getting exhausted from going to the grocery store I now know it's not about introvert or extrovert. This. Is. Grief.

This week has been especially hard. It started on Tuesday, day 28 of isolation. I decided to go with my husband to look at job two and a half hours away (we own a roofing company). This job was in a rural area with no reports of the virus and we would not have to be near anyone. We packed a picnic and loaded up on gas and supplies of mask, gloves, sanitary wipes and even toilet paper (we are from Arkansas we know how to use natures bathroom, at this point it's safer to pee in the woods than go in a gas station). After getting home my whole body hurt. The stress of seeing downed trees and damage from storms combined with thousands of people with no electricity broke my heart, spirit and health. I didn't even try to do anything else, we ate some leftovers and I took to my chair. Wednesday and Thursday were no better, I did what I had to do and no more.

What does this have to do with being resourceful? In life sometimes it's not about what we "Do", it's also about what we don't do. We packed a picnic and supplies but we did not buy food out, we did not go anywhere unnecessary, I am not working on any big projects while sick, I am not getting my hair or nails done, I am not driving or spending money on gas or at the store. I tallied up my savings this month from not working and it's over $1400. I'll share a breakdown with you.

I've been poor, for a very long time and yes you will see some things on this list that if you are struggling don't spend. For me they add value and are only things I have done when all other goals were met, bills paid, savings done etc.

Savings from NOT SPENDING: Approx. $1500.
1. I haven't had to commute 12 hours a week saving about $60 a week in gas. $240 a month.
2. I didn't get my hair colored or cut $100.
3. I didn't get my nails done (only every other month) $60
4. I am washing my hair every other day and using up what is in the house (those half bottles you decided you didn't really care for.. you know what I am talking about) savings on hair products $14 a month.
5. I am barely wearing makeup unless I go out and then it is minimal. Makeup replacement $15 a month.
6. No eating out. $300 a month.
7. Eating simple meals, using all the leftovers and eating supplies up. Savings of $260 a month.
9. No house cleaner. I make substantially more going to work and paying someone to clean. I keep up with it and have her come every two weeks. With this all going on I ask her if I could continue to pay her and she declined. This is saving me $200 a month.
10. Cancelled a trip we had planned (I had used points for the tickets and hotel) savings $400 for meals and travel expenses.

Earning: This is the time to focus on getting money from any resources you can into your bank account to pay bills and stock pile money. 
1. We got the mortgage deferral that was tacked on to the end of our loan. Saved $3750. I don't have to pay now. *Banks are handling this differently, ours puts in on to the end of your loan. We are with a small privately owned bank.
2. I spend my time working on getting unemployment, making sure we get our tax refund and stimulus check. Total for tax return and stimulus is approx. $7000 in income. I have no idea on unemployment and won't count on it until I get it, if I get it.
3. We are still running our roofing business. I handle marketing. My husband is out looking at roofs and following the CDC guidelines. He is doing repairs and such and trying to get money coming in.
I am keeping a close eye on the expenses of the businesses and will ask the accountant to adjust our quarterly taxes if we don't make much between April and June (right now I know it's substantially lower).
4. I cancelled all subscriptions and trimmed the fat on all of our expenses. We are on a bare bones budget and I do not feel deprived at all. This is a good time to look over your budget if you are at home and not working.

A word on Productivity and Creativity. 
There are quite a few opinions going around about either "being ultra productive" or "letting go of guilt and eating what you want, not being productive, feeling the grief..and so forth".  My own experience tells me that this changes from day to day or week to week. Sometimes I feel like being creative and productive the other times I am lucky to get the dishes washed and take a shower. You do you. Guilt is good for no one. Let your own inner guide lead you.

I hope this helps someone out there. Thank you for being here.


Sunday, March 22, 2020

Owning our Power in Hard Times

Today in meditation the teacher (Jean from San Diego) gave a word of the day and that word was "Power". What a great word when we all are struggling to find our own power. 
Owning our power in hard times is tough when we may feel helpless and out of control. My job title is "Stress Management Specialist" in cardiac care. I have been a yoga teacher and yoga therapist for many years and also a veteran of  Alanon (a group to support family members of addiction). So I feel like I have a black belt in "trying" to own my power, not because I am expert but because I have to try every day. My OCD was epic when I found Alanon, then subsequent therapy for many years. My job is to share those tools with others and it really is the best job in the world, however, it can often feel like I have impostor syndrome because I don't always have it as together on the inside as much as people think. I may look cool as a cucumber on the outside but on the inside I may be thinking "I've got to get some exercise, call my kids, eat a healthy meal and meditate before I fall to pieces". So I use my tools. Today I want to share those tools with you and give some tips for moving forward because statistically this is some real crazy stuff and it's possible that you could get sick but it's also very likely that most of us will make it out of this, maybe a little bruised but we will make it out.

What I do daily to manage while isolating myself at home. 
It's not really a schedule so much as a list of things to accomplish. I ask myself this question "Is this getting me the goal I want to achieve?" If the answer is "No" then I make a list of what I want to achieve and get up and get on it. I may give myself breaks to scroll social media or watch a movie with my husband but after that I get back to my list.
This whole thing takes me approximately four to six hours of the day. And since I am home awake for 16 hours that gives a whole lot of lazy time.

For me that list looks like this.
1. Exercise at least 20 minutes (cardio, toning, walking, strength). Every other day I do 20 minutes of cardio toning and on the opposite days I do the treadmill for 20 minutes. When I was working some days it was 7 minutes on one day and the next day 15 on treadmill. Do what you can but don't just sit there.
2. I do yoga for at least 10 minutes a day. I do not see yoga postures as exercise. This means doing yoga postures to find flexibility in my body and to help release energy that may be stuck in my body. Think of it as stress sitting in your upper back.
3. I meditate for at least five minutes or more. This keeps me sane, tones my nervous system and makes me feel at peace.
4. I say the Serenity Prayer.  It reminds to let go of what is out of my control. Do what I can that is within my control and please Lord give me the wisdom to know what is best.
5. I cook and eat healthy meals. They don't have to be complicated. My diet is strict but you don't have to be as strict as me to achieve improvement. Eat more veggies and fruits, avoid added sugar and white flour to reduce inflammation (viruses love inflammation). If you want to see what I cook and eat you might follow me on Instagram cdb120.
6. I clean and deep clean. Everyday I make the bed, wash the dishes, wipe down the kitchen, door knobs, light switches, and bathroom toilet flusher and faucets. I do a load of clothes if needed and run the vacuum (Roomba). *Right now I focus on one area that needs deep cleaning, it may be a drawer or a whole room. Depends on my energy how much I do but I do something. This could go on for a while so I try not to over extend myself.
7. I do some kind of office work that supports our business and take a look at our finances. This may mean paying bills, looking over the budget to see what can be cut, handling some aspect of the business. This is the time to update files and clean them out. I'm doing some social media post or making some videos that support my book, these are free but they help those who use my book for training. It is one way I can also give back to those who we serve.
8. I schedule downtime with my husband to watch t.v. or a movie. This is important. We have a date to meet at 8p.m. to watch a movie every night. I look forward to it and it is a nice ritual.
9. Call or text family members and friends daily.
10. Try to read something for twenty minutes. My eyes are failing me so reading can be hard in small font but I am trying to read at night & not stare at my phone.

Other decisions (perspective) that empower me now and moving forward. 

  1. Every financial decision is thought through. Do I need to go to the store? How much Wifi data do we need or phone data? Can I make something myself or use something else, such as homemade cleaners or using rags instead of paper towels. How can we eat up the food we have now so we can limit our time in the stores. 
  2. Now is a good time while you have time to learn about doing things cheaper, more frugal, start a garden on the cheap. I have started sprouting lentils inside for salads, it's pennies and buying a tiny bit at the store is  $4. Think about everything you do and how you can save money on it from conserving energy, gas, to wear and tear on your car. It's a great time to save money and learn a new skill. 
  3. Save. And try to avoid getting into financial reserves unless you have to. We have an emergency fund. I am laid off. I know we can make it about three months without getting into the emergency fund because I also keep a balance in our checking accounts. Your life may be different but some concept of this can apply. *My Depression Era grandparents taught me well.  We keep a minimum balance on all work accounts (we have three small businesses). Those balances have sustained us in hard times. Right now spend less, save more, and try not to buy anything you don't need. SAVE your money. When you go back to work start now to live a life that supports being debt free, saving three months to a years worth of emergencies and living well below your means. 
  4. If you get a large chunk of money (tax return) or a relief check from the government (this is a possibility) then pay your bills ahead, stock up on what you need (not hoard) so you can stay home and then save the rest. This is not the time to book those vacations even though they may be cheap. NEEDS OVER WANTS.
  5. Learn from this. Learn what is really important. Having the newest technology on a payment plan doesn't make sense if all your income dries up. Live something similar to this ongoing and budget for big expenses after you have your savings. 
The peace of mind this will bring you outweighs anything fancy you can own. 

Changes we are making: 
This has solidified my desire to homestead with garden, chickens and fruit trees. I want to learn to can, ferment, and grow inside sprouts. 
We will be paying the house off aggressively and stock piling an even larger emergency fund.
I'll do better at keeping the house stocked for a rainy day. Meaning from now on I'll have more supplies on hand for a month. That is not something I did before. 
I will invest in the market but for now until the house is paid off and the emergency fund is built up. I will only put into our IRA's and let those grow (max them out).
Not that I took work for granted but I was very focused on early retirement. For the next six years I will work hard and appreciate the larger paychecks but I will be working on the goal to retire to part time at 55. This will allow me to have a better balance. This is like a mini retirement to some extent with a little to much stress. I want freedom even more now, freedom to know I can get by without a check. However I am so grateful to have an amazing job and employer and I miss my job and the people we serve. 

Much Love,

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Financial Fears - How to Take Action Today

I have family members calling worried because their jobs are shutting down.
I am so grateful to have been raised by Depression Era grandparents and their children who taught me these things and it helps with resourcefulness now.

What to do if you lose your job or have a temporary shut down. 

1. Apply for unemployment immediately.
2. Call all your creditors and negotiate payments, pay minimums, or get an extension.
3. You may have to repeat #2 with your landlord or mortgage lender and it may or may not work but it's worth a try.
4. Look for a job in the gig economy like delivering food or running errands for others.
5. Sell your stuff. If you have electronics, clothes, cars, etc that you don't use or can get by without for now go ahead and sell them on Marketplace, Craigslist, etc.  Many people who do have money take advantage of times like this to buy things cheap. It will help you and make you realize how much you don't actually need.
6. Needs over wants. I had a trip planned to see my son when this all began and since it (Corona) hadn't spread yet I went ahead (I needed to lay eyes on him, parents get this) .We  ate out a few times as planned but otherwise stayed in. I noticed at one particular outlet mall a lot of people shopping. A few folks I talked to where still planning trips or shopping. That's fine if you have the money but honestly we do, and there is no way I would be spending it on anything except needs right now.
7. Identify needs. Shelter, food (basic not fancy), you probably have enough clothes, basic transportation cost (can you extend your car payment if you have one, or your car insurance?). Gas is at an all time low but at this time unless you need to drive don't.
8. Reduce your utilities. While your home try to conserve. Close off rooms and vents you are not using. If you have wood heat use it. Only do full loads of laundry and dishes. Use up those old disposable plates for your kids birthday party. Turn off the lights. Put on a sweater or strip down if you are hot. Use fans in hot weather and bundle up and get some tea in cold weather.
9. Think. Think "How can I save money on this, on everything".
10. Make a plan for next time. It really worries me that so many folks live pay check to pay check. This is the time for starting a plan to have an emergency fund. When we come out of this, and we will, work on a plan to have three to six months worth of money in an emergency fund. At minimum get one month and hoard it like gold for times like this. I would actually tell all the Dave Ramsey fans and those in debt to have at least one month of expenses put back while you are paying off debt.
11. Don't go back to your old ways of spending after this is over. Let this be a lesson that you learn from that can impact your future for the better.
12. If you have a tax return coming in pay your bills ahead first and stock up your pantry and save your money!  Put all other purchases on hold.
13. If you can pay your bills leave your retirement accounts alone and your 401K or IRA  contributions. You are dollar cost averaging and buying stocks at deep discounts right now. Historically the longest it has ever taken for the market to bounce back is 3 years, 13 months is the average. Don't look at it and don't touch it unless you are starving.

Much Love and Stay Strong. You are smart and you are capable.


Monday, March 16, 2020

Beyond Beans and Cornbread

As a young girl I had a beef and pork allergy so I became a vegetarian at the ripe old age of 8, and mostly was a cheese and bread -etarian off and on for that ten years. I don't recommend that!
 My kids were raised on small amounts of meat and I now am a vegetarian again and my husband mostly is. I don't want to get into the why here,  but yes health is a big reason. I have four kids who eat meat now and so I have developed this for them but notice that many of folks  are struggling to meal plan with out meat (as there is a shortage at the time of writing this due to the quarantine), so here is an easy meal plan. Simply Google recipes if you aren't sure of the cooking skills. I'll try to give some guidelines.
I shopped the basic list for this yesterday in Fayettville AR and it cost me about $50 for five days of meals. Everything was in stock from this list.
This is Gluten Free and Vegetarian. It is not super low in carbs, however if you want to watch carbs eat the LC meal in the evening. If you are Vegan substitute with the vegan option for dairy and eggs (you can use tofu for a scramble). This is high in fiber and will keep you full. The fat content is moderate and the protein is substantial, you will get plenty of protein on this diet.  You can substitute if you have other options like peanut butter for almond butter, different veggies, sweetener of your choice. These use many of the same ingredients so you can buy once and cook many meals.

  1. Oatmeal add in any of the following, banana, nuts, almond butter, sweetener of your choice (My son uses honey, I use stevia). (high fiber)
  2. Omelet with veggies, cheese and salsa (low carb)
  3. Baked Potato or Twice Baked Potatos with veggies, butter, sour cream and cheese (Or mash the insides with the sour cream and a little milk of your choice and then add in the veggies, put it all back in the shell and sprinkle cheese on top bake for 30 mins at 350 degrees for a twice baked potato). You can use Sweet Potatos to make lower carb. 
  4. Nachos with whole grain chips, fat free vegetarian re-fried beans (heat first), add chopped cooked veggies, cheese and broil until lightly brown in the oven or microwave till melted, top with sour cream, salsa and jalapenos. 
  5. Broccoli Cheese Soup and Biscuits or Cornbread Cook a package of broccoli per instructions, mix with cream cheese, veggie broth, cheese and optional milk of your choice, sprinkle in a cup and a half of cheese and smash or blend and heat through, add cheese on top. Buy GF BisQuick and make biscuits or make GF Cornbread from a mix. 
  6. Lentil or Legume Pasta with veggies, sauce and Parmesan Cheese
  7. Snacks: Banana and almond butter, Chips and Salsa, Almond Butter and Cornbread with Honey. 
* Additions
I purchased a bag of cutie oranges because Vit C is crucial in immune health. 

*Options for more meals with these ingredients. 

Buy some tofu and brown rice and use leftover veggies to make a stir fry (remember the Tamari or Soy Sauce). *I use cauliflower rice to make LC. 

Quiche crust-less, literally eggs, milk, and veggies with spices poured in a pie pan and baked. (LC with out crust).
Buy a bag of greens and make a big salad (LC)  or use in smoothies with the orange and the bananas. Or frozen banana, spinach, milk of your choice, and or almond butter. There are a wide variety of options. 

Bonus: Beans are sold out right now but if you can find them we make a batch at least twice a month and slice up tomatoes, onions and make cornbread (I use applesauce for 1/2 the oil or butter). High Fiber. 

The Cheapest Veg and Fruit :
  1. Apples
  2. Oranges
  3. Bananas
  4. Carrots
  5. Potatoes 
  6. Onions
  7. Broccoli 
  8. Spinach

Grocery List for Meal Plan with Options

Inside Isles
  1. Almond Butter (non inflammatory)
  2. Chips (whole grain or good quality if you can afford)
  3. Salsa
  4. Refried Veg Beans
  5. Veg Broth (I love Edward and Sons Cubes) Chicken broth if you are not veg. is an option in a pinch. 
  6. Sweetener (Honey, Stevia, Maple Syrup)
  7. Oatmeal (Buy the container, less waste and less than .25 cents a serving)
  8. Pasta (Legume, Whole Grain GF, high fiber and non inflammatory)
  9. Pasta Sauce (low sugar preferred, look at lower carbs on back and read ingredients or make your own)
  10. Cornbread Mix GF or make from scratch
Outside Isles
  1. Bananas
  2. Nuts
  3. Onion
  4. Pepper (I used Red Bell)
  5. Mushrooms
  6. Broccoli 
  7. Potatoes 
  8. Oranges
Dairy or Cold
  1. Eggs (Tofu for scramble Veg option) Quiche and Omelet will not be an option without eggs. 
  2. Sour Cream (can use plant based)
  3. Butter (plant based option)
  4. Cheddar or mixed Mexican cheese (plant based option)
  5. Parmesan (or Nutritional Yeast for Veg option)
  6. Milk (or unsweet plant milk, we use Cashew or Almond) 

  1. Tomato  (to add to omelets, salads, quiche etc.)
  2. Big bag of Greens (I used Spinach, for salads and smoothies)
  3. Pie Crust (GF or regular or make your own)
  4. Bag of Frozen Broccoli or Chopped Spinach for Quiche and Smoothies. 
  5. Brown Rice (for Stir Fry)
  6. Tamari or Soy Sauce GF low sodium(Or maybe you have some)
  7. Cauli Rice for LC
  8. Tofu if you want it in your stir fry (or you can use scrambled eggs for protein).
  9. Bag of dried white beans or pinto (cook with Edward and Sons Veg Broth). 
  10. Apples (you can heat them with a little water and cinnamon on the stove and a bit of butter then mash for apple sauce or eat them with almond butter. 

 *Please check the list with your recipes to make sure nothing is left out. Shop your pantry and freezer for things you already have or can substitute. 

With Love,

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Simplicity, Health, Money, Time, and Life Satisfaction.

 I have an autoimmune disease that for twenty years I mostly try to ignore until I can't. You would think after twenty years I would learn but alas it seems no. I take for granted when I feel good that I can do things, all of the things and so then I plan them, I do them and then I am in bed and hurting and wondering why I am so bull headed. *I have a host of diagnosis from thyroid disease to arthritis to a bunch of other odd ball stuff but as one of my doctor puts it "It's all autoimmune". Basically my bodies immune system turns and attacks me and stress is my main trigger. Did I mention I am a "Stress Management Specialist?". We clinicians are the worst patients.

Several months we were slow at work due to working in the medical field and people wanting to wait till the first of the year to start on a new deductible (I work in cardiac and cancer rehabilitation services). I thought I was handling the down time well enjoying a less hurried schedule and in the midst of this I said yes to hosting & teaching a large workshop. My personality is when I do something I go 150% and try to make it perfect.  I will make myself sick working to much. So the workshop has ended and it was a great success (I do love the people) and I am now on a 12 day work streak, staying in bed until I have to get dressed to go to the clinic and coming back home and going to bed.
Taking advantage of the downtime I hauled my work, my rat terrier, and my laptop to my bed. I am spending these days doing what I can from the bed and thanking the universe for the internet.

Here is what I am doing in the process of trying to bring back simplicity into my life.

1. I said "No" to another workshop offer and said "I am honored however, I cannot take on anymore until fall at which time I will then consider where my schedule is.". Because this means less income I have to find ways to save and be creative.
2. I am going through all my bills to see what subscriptions and memberships I can cancel and where I can save money. I cancelled my Microsoft acct to use Google Docs (Free), I cancelled my email list and will use social media and targeted small emails but since I plan to take time off I don't plan on sending many anyway. Saved $21.00 a month.
3. Paid off a car worth about $7000 and I am cancelling full coverage and going to liability (I keep $7000 in an account to replace it). Savings $600 a year. Sold two cars in the past two months which saves a ton on insurance and taxes and I put the money in savings. We had four cars due to our business, we are down to two that are 11 and 12 years old. I expect this total savings is well over $100 a month.
4. I am on what I can call a conscious spending plan. Every expense is thought through before buying. I plan on buying a new pair of jeans. I have the cash saved up for them, they are expensive but I've been needing a good pair so I saved $100 for them. I am not doing other shopping right now. We did go out to eat but we picked the cheaper restaurant (a coffee house with vegan food) and I drink water and we didn't do any fancy add on things. We pack most of our meals and cook at home but again I am in bed and hurting so my energy is zapped.
5. I will begin to focus on exercise (staring light today) and good healthy food is always a focus, also now that the weather is nicer more hiking. I plan to go this weekend for a one mile outdoor walk.
6. This may sound odd but I am allowing myself mindless t.v. time. I work and I work hard. I exercise, eat right, pay my bills, volunteer and sometimes I just want to veg and not think. I do not feel guilty for watching a movie or a few hours of t.v. after all my daily to do list is checked off. In the summer we hardly turn the t.v. on because we live on a farm and there is so much to do. So now I allow myself this pleasure, no guilt.
7. Cutting out the unnecessary. I ask myself the question "What needs to be done today?", "What can wait?", "What do I feel like doing based on the energy I have to give today?".
8. I am also now in the stage of life  I call  "Preservation Mode". I started my career at age 30 and I will be 50 this year. I have built it, they came and now I want to serve those folks better. This means focusing on what is built not building more, literally or otherwise. We have three businesses (roofing, Air B & B, and my yoga business which includes 20 plus weekly hours as a medical yoga therapist, yoga speaking engagements and royalties from two books and contributing to other media). See why I have to say no to more?! Nuts right.

What do you do to bring simplicity back when you feel you have lost it?


Thursday, January 9, 2020

11 Ideas for Financial Freedom and a Bonus!

It's math. And basic math isn't hard. You add and subtract and total.
If you are struggling financially or trying to be financially independent there are some things you can do today to help yourself move forward. Each day you do one thing and it adds up.

1. Mattresses. Someone called me yesterday asking about a mattress. Not everyone is going to buy a used mattress I get that and I don't want to either. However three of our four mattresses are hand me downs. Three of them came from family members guest rooms when they moved. They had barely been used. I put an egg crate topper or cool gel topper and they work great. If you are looking for a mattress and you are desperate first try a topper for under $100. If you must buy a mattress and you feel it's a need not a want then shop around. There is a great variance of prices and don't buy into the hype. There is a local place here that specializes in mattresses and furniture and you can buy a set for $200 (twin) and up. Be careful of those mattress stores that only sell mattresses, they will hard sell you. I've seen many people do this and only be disappointed.

2. Cut down on the coffee, soda, and eating out. I shouldn't have to say it but seriously ya'll WTH! If you are stopping at a gas station five days a week or going to the drive through and spending five dollars a day (and most  probably spend more and go seven days a week) you are spending $150 or more on crap that is not good for you. That is $1800 a year!  Go today and get a nice travel mug and fill it at home. I often use a glass jar (like a marinara jar, yes seriously).
It's not that you can never do these things but let them be a treat once or twice a month.

3. Shop your closet or house. I broke my favorite spoon rest and wanted another one. I looked at flea markets and then one day I was getting dressed and looked down on my dresser at the little dish I had. It was a spoon rest I had been using as a catch all! Viola. I didn't need it in there and had something else. It's perfect in my kitchen.
Yesterday I purchased a dress to go to party and will take it back. The cute flannel dress thing turns out to look like Ma Wilder going to a hoe down on me. I ended up in my winter uniform, a flannel top or sweater, leggings and boots. Turns out I would have been way over dressed at the party in the dress. Lesson learned again.

4. If you get a speeding ticket.  It happens to everyone but you don't always have to pay it. You could take a class in person or online for about $50 if it's your first one in a while and waive the fee and keep it off your record. When I was young and had no one to help me I asked for community service. I filed papers and served candy at community centers. We do what we have to.

5. Sell your stuff. It's easier than ever. I sold text books last week to a text book store, jewelry to a jeweler, returned some stuff in my house turns out I didn't need and ended up making $176 in a day. It's easier than ever. First think about what is in your town. The resale clothing store, the auction, jewelers, text book stores. Then there is Ebay, Craigslist, Amazon, Marketplace, and so many more. If you are broke and your house if full of stuff sell it now.

6. Shop second hand. If it depreciates you don't want to invest a lot of money in it unless it really brings value to your life. I do buy new occasionally but I often buy used cars, and other items. For years my clothes came from Goodwill or resale boutiques. I don't do this as much any more but I am not opposed to it and still shop resale a few times a year. For household items I always check Habitat and Goodwill to save tons.

7. Reduce your cost of housing. If you are really strapped consider a roommate or moving to a cheaper place. Take care of your home as it appreciates. Fix it and keep it in good repair. As you move forward in life consider investing in properties where you can have a renter such as an apartment building or duplex. Or in our case we have a vacation rental on our farm. We put our savings into building so it's positive cash flow.

8. Increase your income. This may not happen overnight but we can all do this. Ask for a raise, or find a way to move up in your current job to a higher paying position Find a part time job. A side hustle. Sell your stuff and other peoples stuff. Do you have a skill or talent? Use it. Maybe you have a skill and you decided to get out of that field. If it's high paying could you do it for a year or two to get ahead and then save to do your passion project. Many people can do what they have to do to become financially free then have more time for passion projects once they are more secure. Your dream job will still be there.

9. Auto Expenses Car Payments, Insurance, Gas and Fee's. This is one area where I see a lot of waste. Can you plan your routes to reduce wasteful driving. If you live far out can you plan your shopping or errands on the same day as you have to go out for other things. I do this. We live 25 miles from everything and I plan my shopping around when I have work or other appointments.
I am seeing many people pay about double what they should be for insurance. One drive a car that you can afford and check the cost of insurance with at least three companies. I am with Allstate and happy I have heard Gieco is also reasonable. Only insure what you need. Don't do full coverage on a beater car with no loan. Buy cars for cash, then save up for the next car. Avoid interest bearing car loans if you can. If you feel you have to get the best car for the least money and pay it off quick.

10. Food Bill. The best way to cut food expenses in my opinion and the easiest is to meal plan. Plan your dinners for the week and put in any eating out so you don't over buy. If you have a dinner date for Tuesday put that on the meal plan. Then plan two or three breakfast that you rotate and plan dinners for each night with a plan to eat the leftovers for lunch the next day. Plan some easy meals for the days you have a lot to do so you don't eat out, such as sandwiches or breakfast for dinner.  I have even started keeping a frozen healthy-ish pizza for times when I am to tired to cook.

11. Gift Buying and Helping Others. 
Set a budget. I included helping others because I have six kids and we help sometimes it gets to be a lot. I am setting a helping budget this year and keeping a log of it. I also took out money for Christmas in cash so I don't go over. I've set budgets before but get busy & I go over. When tired I forgot to keep up with cost. Cash is easier. On birthdays I set a budget and we do a meal and cake at home or go in as a group and everyone pays. If all my kids are going then I will have them meet at a lower cost restaurant for lunch which is cheaper. Recently for an event I took my mom and four kids out, a total of six people for lunch and it as only $80 plus tip.

Think about optimizing everything in your life. Always ask "Can I do this for less?".

The basic rules for financial freedom that everyone can follow.
1. Keep your housing cost low.
2. Keep your auto cost low.
3. Watch your food budget
4. Set limits on discretionary spending (give yourself an allowance for this, you'll spend it anyway).
5. Have an emergency fund. Get started so normal emergencies like a car repair doesn't spiral your finances out of control.
6. Avoid debt. Especially on things that depreciate.
7. Save as much as you can. As you make more get to a modest middle class life style and save the rest.
8. Don't wait to save for retirement. Always take the match! Save now and don't touch it. *Also avoid high cost brokers, use places like Vanguard and Schwab for your investments.
9. Make more, live on less, save. At the point where you have enough money to live off the interest or you have money coming in from other resources like royalties or rental properties you are financially free.