Posts Tagged With: Debt

Starting Over

Elliot Birthday


There is a saying that goes something like this…. “We plan and God laughs.” Well, I do not know who said it or if that is exactly what was said, but that is the gist. And, that is about as true a statement as any I have ever heard. Today is my birthday and just like any other birthday, I am looking back and considering my life. Where did I go wrong? What did I do right? How do I want to see my life next year? In five years? In ten years?

This is a hard post to write. However, it has been a long time coming. I have been in a funk, so to speak, for the last year. Almost in mourning, but not quite. You see, I have too many blessings in my life to allow myself to fall into full-fledged outright depression-filled mourning. I am too much of a look-on-the-bright-side-every-cloud-has-a-silver-lining sort of girl.

Have I lost anyone special to me? No. How is the job situation? Still have one. Where is my life headed? Ah, there it is….. I just don’t know.

In January 2014, My Handy Man had back surgery and by June we knew it had failed. January 2015, he had shoulder surgery to fix a torn rotator cuff. As I am typing this, he is asleep on the couch and recovering from knee reconstruction surgery. No, he was not in some major car accident nor does he have some tragic disease that is affecting his joints. He was hurt in the military, then hurt some more when the military doctors did his first surgery, and is now having to be rebuilt. He has at least two more surgeries to look forward to, one on his ankle and another on his back. He hates it, I hate it for him, however that is the situation that we find ourselves in. On a bright side kind of note, he will be the bionic man once he is finished.

He is the sort of man who takes the good with the bad, does not complain too much, and in everything he does his very best. He will survive this and prosper, because that is who he is. And, failure is not an option for him. He was, is, and always will be my hero.

I have spent this year kind of lost and trying to survive as well. I detest seeing him in pain. I am a planner and I hate when plans do not come together like I had envisioned. I took a job that I thought was a dream job, one that would help us through this rough patch, and be good for us. I was wrong. Not on everything…. it does pay the bills and has helped us get by. However, that is about it. I am more stressed than I have ever been, I do not enjoy it at all, and I need to find another place for me. I will continue to be thankful for having the work though.

The funk or the mourning that I find myself in, is one of my own making. Well mostly, since neither one of us could have predicted that My Handy Man would have to have five surgeries over two and a half years. But I digress, the mourning comes as a result of plans or dreams not being fulfilled. By having an idea of where our life was headed and the reality of being on the cusp of seeing our dreams come true, and then having the rug pulled out from under us.

A lot of good things have happened to us over the past year and also a lot of not so good things. I know that if there was a room full of people and we all threw our problems into a pile in the center of the room, then I would more than likely reach back in to take my own problems out, rather than trade with anyone else for theirs. We have been to the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. And right now, we are tired.

l403ab444-m0mBy this time, I thought we would have a growing homestead. Instead, we have a house in a subdivision. I am not complaining, because it is a beautiful house that keeps the rain off our heads. Still, it is not the dream place we had envisioned. I also thought our life would be simpler with less stress and less bills. Alternatively, we have more stress and bigger bills. Even so, we have managed to pay some nonsense debt off. My Handy Man was supposed to have a great job in the hospital where he makes good money and both of us would have plenty of free time to share with the other and build our homestead. According to his surgeon, he will not be released to go to work in the hospital ever. And still, awesome man that he is, My Handy Man started up his own business that he can do as he is able and he makes great money when he is able to work. And I know that the situation that we find ourselves in is not a permanent one, those dreams still may come true in time, but I also need to make peace with the fact that they may not. We may never be able to be full-time homesteaders, and I need to accept that and be okay with it. That does not mean that I will give up on that dream, I will just continue to live my life and putting one step in front of the other toward that goal. In the meantime though, I need to find myself moving toward other things that I long for and can achieve right now.

I have struggled where to go with this blog. In the beginning, I had envisioned a blog that would chronicle the passage from corporate world to homestead. And maybe it can still be that, in a big picture sort of way. I do not have to have the answer right away, I will figure out where I want to go with this thing. We still have many simple things that we love to do, besides the owning of an actual homestead, that I can blog about.

20141028_165737We are hunters and outdoor enthusiasts. We enjoy fishing, camping, hiking, and exploring. The thought of and the actual act of providing meat for our table stokes us.  And, then there is the preparing of said meat. We can also support our local farmers through farmers markets and such. And too, we can document the movement from convenience foods to homemade whole foods.  And as always, there is a lot to discuss about the preparation for another exciting hunting season. There are many aspects to being self-sufficient and the excursion toward a simpler existence that need to be documented. One day we may find ourselves on that homestead, but for right now it is the journey that counts for us. So I am changing the point of my blog because I cannot continue to mourn for what we have not yet achieved. Instead, I choose to focus on what is happening at this moment in time. I still have plenty of worthwhile things to say……

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Weathering The Storm

“Obstacles are put in our way to see if we really want something, or just thought we did.” -Author Unknown.

lightening

It has been almost six weeks since I have posted anything. Our life in the past six weeks has been anything but simple. It is a strange thing, but it seems that once one sets their mind to do something, that is when all these things begin popping up to try and throw one off course. Well, we have held steady and kept our eyes on the goal toward a simpler path, but the blogging had to take a back burner for a bit so we could set our feet on some solid ground. storm

The past few weeks have been a roller coaster of emotion for My Handy Man and myself. We have had to deal with a funeral, a wedding, some extended family who seem to want to have a Hatfield/McCoy feud over some stupid matter that should have been resolved with a quick “I’m sorry….Please forgive me…. I was wrong.” A hug and a kiss, and can’t we all just be friends. And as much as My Handy Man and I are bound and determined to stay out of it, it seems as if they are trying their hardest to get us to pick a side. We refuse, we are not becoming part of the problem, but a solution is definitely not clear to us at this point any way. We will just keep praying and hopefully they will listen to a Higher Power than us.

We have had another family member who tried to commit suicide and was placed in a mental hospital for a while. Thankfully, this family member was not successful in taking their life and is out now. I cannot imagine feeling that hopeless about a situation and I cannot say what this person was feeling or thinking at that time. I hope that this person realizes that suicide is not an option and if they reach out, they will always find my hand reaching back out to them. My prayer for this particular person is that they learn to face their problems head on. Life is not easy for anyone and it has not been so ever since the beginning of time.

My Handy Man has found out that he has gone from having a bulging disc to a ruptured disc in his back. He also has a torn rotator cuff in his shoulder. He will definitely be requiring surgery and we are currently awaiting a call for a consult with a surgeon. My Handy Man, in all his stubbornness, says that he refuses to have surgery until after hunting season ends! I love that obstinate man, but my prayer for him is that he makes wise choices and that he makes it through whatever medical procedure is deemed necessary with as quick a recovery as possible.

100_5346On a good note, we have snuck in a few hunting trips and have had a pretty successful season thus far. I will write about those in some future posts. We have a much needed hunting trip planned for this upcoming Thanksgiving holiday weekend. We need to get back out to the middle of nowhere and decompress. We need to be reminded of what we are struggling for and that it is really that important to us.

Better than that though, I have landed a job running my department at work. I have to say that God knows exactly what we need and His timing is impeccable. Just when things are looking impossible, He always provides a way. My prayer for this is that I can learn what I need to know quickly and do a good job for the people that have believed in me enough to give me this opportunity.

We may come in a little behind in our endeavors to live a self-sustained existence than what we first hoped for, but together we will keep on keeping on. Tractor

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To Buy Or To Build?

A simple life….. that is what we are reaching for. In the past couple of weeks, My Handy Man and I have been kicking around the idea of building a small, plain apartment/house on this property where we have the opportunity to start our homesteading adventure. We will spend the next 4-5 years on this land before we are ready to buy our own place. Any improvements to be made here will stay behind, but it will get us started and actually be a help to the landowners anyway.  farm

In looking to buy a used mobile home, we have figured it to cost us somewhere in the neighborhood of $15,000-$20,000 once we add in the delivery and set up fees. Then, we will need an electrician to sign off and an air conditioning guy for AC along with a plumber to hook up septic to add to that cost. Then after all that, we have to hope that there is no major damage to the used home either before it is moved, during the time it is being transported, or while it is being set up. That is the risk one runs when buying something used with no warranty.

On the flip side of this is the idea that we can build a small dwelling for approximately the same amount of money. We are thinking of an industrial style building with 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom. Nothing particularly fancy, maybe an open concept living and kitchen area with only the bedrooms and bathroom being closed off for privacy. We may even use R-panel for siding along with other up-cycled things to help us out. My Handy Man is a whiz at finding such things and I am a quick study if need be. kitchen

A lot of the work that goes into building houses can be done by my husband, with me as his trusty sidekick of course. He can do pretty much anything except wire the house for electricity. This is how he earned the loving moniker “My Handy Man.”

Ours has never been a marriage where we call people in to repair things in our home. That job has always fallen to my amazing spouse, lucky man that he is! What is more, he has never failed me in getting whatever needed doing done.

My Handy Man is in the medical field now, but for years he ran his own construction/remodeling company. He knows how to do things. And best of all, he is good at doing them. Not average good, but a true artist at taking a pile of wood and screws, or whatever medium he happens to be working with and turning it into a beautiful, functional creation. So, I have no doubt that he can build us a nice little place completely suited to our needs. He also happens to have many friends and family with the skills to help us should we decide to go this route. carpenter

So, the idea of building instead of buying really has some pull with us. The landowners are fine with whichever route we take, so it just comes down to us making a decision on what we want to do. In later posts, after we decide which course to take I will lay out the plan in more detail. I just wanted to throw this out there and see if anyone has any thoughts or suggestions on the idea?

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Tightening Our Belts

We have been on a quest to pay all our debt off. Makes sense if you want to live a self-sufficient life, but even if that were not our goal, it is still a smart thing to do. One is not required to live a life of commitment to one financial institution or another. We took a personal finance class at our church about seven months ago and it completely changed our life. And, I do mean utterly altered the manner in which we deal with our dough!

money

 

We have always made sure our bills were paid. We give to our church and other charitable causes. We have rarely been in the devastating position to have to borrow money to make ends meet. That being said, we didn’t know that there was so much more to learn in dealing with our money!

It seems so simple…. Get a paycheck, pay the bills, take care of household essentials, sock away some savings, and then whatever’s left is used in any manner deemed fit at the moment. The only issue with this line of thinking was that the leftover money just seemed to evaporate out of our account without us ever even realize what was happening. One minute there and the next gone, never to return!

During this class, we had to take a good long look at our debt, which to be honest was uncomfortable, but not too horrific. Fortunately for us, our vehicles are paid off, we can afford rent, life’s essentials, vacations (or in our case, the deer lease since that is where we spend most of our time away from home anyway), and to put money into our savings account. I admit that we do have some personal nonsense debt like credit cards with balances that should and can be paid off quickly. We also have some larger debt that we have to take care of such as student loans for each of us, and a business loan taken out a while back. This part of the class didn’t bother me too much.

The next part was the awful segment of the class for us. It dealt with how we pay our bills and then pay for anything else we buy. Bills are paid online, by mail, or by phone. Not so bad or even life-changing. However, everything else has to be paid for in cash. EVERYTHING!!! Groceries, gas, clothing, haircuts, recreational activity, even going out for dinner. No cash…….. no doing any of these things. Plain and simple. Our life was about to get difficult!

Well, maybe difficult is not the right word. Inconvenient is the proper term, I think. For us, that meant no more handiness of paying for gas at the pump, no more adding extra goodies to the grocery buggy, and no more spontaneous outings to restaurants or the movies. We had to start planning ahead and setting aside money for EVERYTHING that we do. How did any of this direct us to our goal of living a simpler life?

money and coinsSurprisingly, it was not that hard once we sat down and made a budget, together for the first time in our married life, and figured exactly where we needed to disperse our money. We set up funds ranging anywhere from an auto fund to a clothing fund. I even have a chicken/chicken coop fund! We pay cash for everything and now we see the value in doing so. Shelling out actual money is so different from swiping a debit card. It is almost painful to hand over real dollars whereas a little plastic card causes no reaction in us at all. Suddenly, we focus on every dime we spend and nothing is considered insignificant.

Now, my husband and I have a monthly budget meeting to go over upcoming expenses. We are very different in our thoughts on handling money, so coming together on our budget really brings peace to our marriage. We are both on the same page and on board with how to go about everything that we are trying to accomplish.

What we have learned over the past several months has helped in so many ways. First off, we figured out that we were nickeling and diming ourselves outrageously. Little items like a drink and a snack when we fuel up or randomly deciding to go out to eat after work really start to add up. We figured out that Christmas or birthdays are not unexpected, in that they come every year, so we should be setting money aside to pay for those things. Most importantly, by becoming so focused on budgeting and paying cash, we found out that we have a lot more money left and have been able to start chinking away at the debt we do have. I see a self-sufficient farm in our future and it makes me smile. a farm

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