26 Dec 2019

Merry Christmas!


We had a lovely Christmas Day. There was a cool change overnight and less smoke which was a welcome relief from the recent heat.

In the morning we opened our presents after breakfast and then travelled to have lunch with family. Christmas dinner for us is always the traditional roast dinner (lamb, turkey, ham) and veggies followed by plum pudding.

After dinner we just sit around and chat with family, catch up with those we haven't seen for a while and exchange presents. It's all very laid back and stress free.

I've been having Christmas dinner with my in laws for over 40 years now and I really love it. Each year I feel so grateful that I married into such a lovely family and that DH's mum and dad are still healthy and active, well into their late 80's.

So its very early morning here on Boxing Day. DD is working today for the boxing day sales, DH & DS are both going to be helping me move some furniture and do some of the heavier jobs around the house. I'm planning on getting some deep cleaning done in the next few days and then I can spend some time sewing.

22 Dec 2019

Food & Fires

I enjoyed pottering about the house yesterday morning.  I spent most of the morning working in the kitchen again, making chicken stock and pumpkin soup.  I'm a home cook so recipes are not precise, but they taste good.

Heres how I make my chicken stock:
  • 6 chicken thighs - brown in a little olive oil
  • 1 large red onion - quarter and add to pan with chicken
  • a few cracks of salt and pepper
Once the chicken is nicely browned add it, the onion and the pan juices to a crockpot. Then add:
  • 2 litres of boiling water
  • 3 large carrots halved
  • the top &leaves from one bunch of celery 
  • teaspoon of Italian herbs
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • teaspoon of vinegar ( helps draw the marrow out of the bones)
Cook on high for 6-8 hours, cool, strain and freeze. I love the taste of this stock and often just have a bowl it as broth, particularly if I'm not well. Its great for soothing an upset tummy and getting some collagen.




Once the stock was on I made roasted pumpkin soup that I had started the day before. Heres my pumpkin soup recipe:

Add to an oven tray:
  • Half a kent pumpkin cut into 2-3 inch pieces
  • One large red onion cut into eights
  • Tomatos - 2 - 3 regular size cut into quarters or a few handfuls of mini tomatos or a capsicum
Toss in a little olive oil
Roast in the oven till browned
Then use a large non-stick pot and add:
  • A few tbspns olive oil 
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1-2 tspns curry powder depending on how hot you like it
  • half a small onion chopped
  • a little black pepper
Mix the herbs and oil to a paste. Once the onions have softened add a tin of beans, a litre of stock and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the roasted pumpkin/onions/tomatos and a litre of hot water. Simmer for 5-10 minutes. Once cooled a little, blend the soup. 



Tastes fantastic and you get veggies, turmeric & beans all in one meal. This made 8 serves for the freezer and a tasty lunch!

In between cooking I cleaned out the pantry, mostly just a good tidy up was needed and it  looks much better now. I was given some lovely big glass jars for free last week so I have filled two with lentils and split peas and will fill the rest after the next shop.



In the afternoon it got quite really hot (40C - 104F) and the smoke was really bad. The fires were so bad yesterday everywhere, but it was awful watching Lithgow, surrounded by fire, seeing streets we know so well and houses right near where we lived on fire, people fighting embers and evacuating - all roads out of town cut off for most of the evening. 

Overnight the heat was bad, too hot to sleep much, but it has cooled down this morning. The smoke is still very thick though - (we are about 30 mins from the fire and in no danger.) so I won't be opening any windows.

My plan for today is start cleaning DS's room as he will be home on Christmas Eve. We gradually started using his room as a bit of storage so I need to sort it out a bit before he gets here.  Then tomorrow I have one present to buy and I'll be ready for Christmas.

20 Dec 2019

Holidays at last!!

Its Day 3 of my holidays today and I've been busy in the kitchen for the last two days cooking for the freezer.

I bought 12 brown bananas for $2 so have made 3 loaves banana bread which I'll slice and freeze.


Yesterday DD cooked two huge pots of bolognaise sauce. Half of it we froze in 12 single serves, 3 x 4 serves containers and then made 4 lasagnes in single serves for the freezer.

I roasted a pumpkin, onions & tomatos which I'll make into pumpkin soup today. I made 12 single serves of split pea soup for the freezer. I used this Ina Garten recipe and seriously - it is absolutely beautiful! looks exactly like the picture and is now a new fave soup recipe.

So the freezers are full to the brim - I need to do some rearranging today to move the older food up to the top and make a bit more room.

The fires eased up for one day since I last posted and we had a beautiful blue sky  till about 2pm when huge smoke clouds started to roll in. I took this photo from our front verandah just slightly to the left of the photo in my previous post.


I've also had time to work through financial progress for the year and to set some goals for 2020. I've added another page for this. I'm looking forward to the next few weeks of holidays so I can catch up with family and get some jobs done around the house.

11 Dec 2019

Smoke gets in my eyes... and lungs... and nose... and mouth..

Australia is currently experiencing unprecedented bushfires. Right now as I write this, there are 117 fires in our state (NSW) and many more in other states.

We are quite safe here and theres no fires in our immediate area, the closest are about 45 minutes away and being controlled, but the air pollution has been the highest ever over the last 48 hours, over 200 at the moment.

Yesterday visibility in town was about two blocks, today its slightly better. We usually have views for miles out to the mountains from our house but I can see about 100 meters the last two days. This is what it looks like outside. I really do miss seeing the blue sky!



Our house smells like smoke, all I can taste is smoke and our clothes smell of smoke. Usually the first thing I do each morning is throw open all the windows and let the fresh air in but we haven't been able to do this the last six weeks. Its also been really hot here (38C yesterday) and we can't sleep with the windows open to cool the house down. There is no going outside at all except to get in the car and go to work.

We all have the 'fires near me' alerts on our phones and the air quality app and I check both frequently during the day.

I have been taking extra ventolin over the last few weeks, but today I had to leave work and go straight to the drs as I just could not get a proper breath in after having to walk outside from the carpark ( less than five minutes). The smoke was quite heavy.

So the doctor has put me back on asthma meds (haven't needed them for years) and I'm off work for several days.  A few hours later DD also ended up at the drs, she has quite bad asthma and had missed two days last week. She got quite tight in the chest at work and went straight down to the doctor. She had her meds increased and is off work also. I did some research online and bought an air cleaner with a HEPA filter to try and filter the smoke in the house ($200).

There would be hundreds of people being similarly affected I'm sure, particularly worrying for the elderly.

It's been an eye opener this last few weeks. And I'm one of the lucky ones! We are not under direct fire threat, we haven't had to evacuate, or lose our home. I have sick leave and medications are subsidised here. I hate to think how the people in high fire danger areas are coping and the stress they must be under.  And our firefighters (many volunteers) are exhausted after six weeks of this and we haven't even started the hottest part of summer yet. We've had firefighters from US and Canada arrive this week for which we are grateful. And our government is just pathetic in dealing with this, having cut funding to the fire service and refusing to use defence forces or declare and emergency!

So at the moment I am just resting at home, taking meds, keeping an eye on DD and feeling grateful I don't live closer the the fires. Its a summer like we have never seen before!

A lot of the smoke we are getting is coming from this 'megafire':






7 Dec 2019

Share the Dignity

This year I put together two teen backpacks for Share the Dignity. Its a charity that was set up to help women that are homeless or leaving domestic violence to have access to pads and tampons. They do two collection drives during the year. At Christmas they have the 'its in the bag' collection where you fill a handbag with products that are given to women & teens at Christmas. I've worked with lots of women and teenagers in these situations so I really enjoyed doing this.



We included pads, tampons, shampoo, conditioner, comb, mirror, lipgloss, shower caps, a new purse, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush, a drink bottle, bracelet & necklace, moisturiser, notebook, pens, socks, soap dish, hair towel, makeup bag and makeup. It was stuffed to the brim.




Each teen bag had a yellow ribbon attached and a card with an encouraging note inside. I dropped them off to Bunnings this morning - the last day for collection! Next year I will be more oganised and start earlier. This is one the charities I'd love to volunteer with once I'm retired.

I remember as a kid being receiving a huge washing basket filled with groceries at Christmas, left at our door by someone who knew we were really struggling.  Then as a teenager, when we were in better circumstances, Mum would shop for a family every Christmas and take me with her. She taught me that its important to pay back the kindnesses we had been shown. So every year I do something, and it always makes me feel grateful for the many little acts of kindness I have experienced and a mum who taught me to appreciate them.

"No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted"
Aesop.


5 Dec 2019

Getting in the Christmas Spirit!

We have a tradition of waiting till after December 1st to put up our Christmas decorations as November is a month of birthdays and anniversaries for us.

So last night we put on the Christmas carols and got to work! We had a lot of fun decorating the tree. It brings back memories of when the children were young and when Mum was alive to share the Christmas festivities with us.

Christmas was always a big occasion for us. When the kids were little we used to decorate the outside of the house with lights and the pine tree in the front yard was lit up at night. We'd play Christmas music from the front verandah while we'd sit outside trying to keep cool in the summer heat. As the kids got older it changed a bit but it was always a time for fun and family.

For a few years after Mum died we lost our Christmas mojo. But life goes on and while some of our family traditions have to change as we get older, the core value of family, fun and gratitude continues. The tree is done, we're watching corny Christmas movies and planning our family get together foods.

I also decided to take some Christmas spirit to work this week. Everyone had been so down this last few months, we needed some fun. So I set up a Christmas tree, some decorations, some snacks and wore my Christmas gear in to work - and it gave people a lift and a change from talking about office politics.

So I have a few charity sewing projects to finish and send off before Christmas, some donations to make and some food to cook. Theres only 20 days left and I'm planning on enjoying it to the max!

How are your Christmas plans going? What do you do keep the Christmas Spirit alive?

1 Dec 2019

November Progress Report

Mortgage
  • current balance: $104,192
  • down from $107,647
  • total decrease: $2,955
This month we reached the end of year 19 balance. We're close to our end of year goal of $100,000, but might not make it till early next year.

Retirement
  • me: $154,601
  • DH: $336,866
  • Total:$491,467
  • Total increase:$14,268
I am amazed at how fast our retirement savings are growing! Its exciting to see us so close to our goal with three more years to go.

Health

I have lost a couple of kgs and had started exercising. But on Friday I had a flare up of my arthritis so I'm back to resting up at the moment.

Work
 I certainly feel a bit less stressed than last month and it has quietened down a lot so time to catch up and get ready for next year.

Home

I've started working in the garden again, just for 10 -15 minutes a day, weeding and tidying up garden beds. We are on water restrictions here for the first time due to the drought. We can only water the garden for 30 mins x2 per week, 4 minute showers, no car washing or sprinklers on lawns. The whole town is just dry and brown. So I'm not going to plant anything, just clean up the yard which will take quite some time.

I'm looking forward to Christmas and to setting goals for 2020. Overall things are plodding along nicely here.

28 Nov 2019

Blue skies & a mistake in my favour!

Yesterday was a beautiful day here! After several weeks of skies filled with red dust & smoke from the bushfires, we had a beautiful bright blue sky, the gale force winds of the night before dropped and the temperatures went down.

 It was so nice to go outside the house and not breathe dusty smoky air, and to finally open the windows. Everyone was enjoying being outside yesterday!

And it really does make you appreciate seeing the sky each day, something I've just taken for granted all my life.

Usually bushfire season in Australia is at its worst in January. This year it started in early November and its been very bad. The pollution levels have been very high which we've never had here before as we live in the country, and away from the main fire areas, but the wind is just blowing our way, along with the red dust from the drought affected areas. This morning the sky is tinged with red dust again, but no smoke thank goodness.

I had a very pleasant surprise when I checked my pay last night - and $800 extra payment! Apparently I have been underpaid on one of my work allowances for the last 3 years. So nice to have that extra this month while we're trying to reach our end of year goals! As it was extra it went straight off the mortgage.

"The sky is the daily bread of the eyes"
Ralph Waldo Emerson



22 Nov 2019

Another Mortgage Milestone!

Good news! We've hit another mortgage milestone today on our mortgage amoratisation table.

Our current balance is $105,297.  This takes us to the end of Year 19 balance, and we're almost 5 years into this mortgage.

I'm not sure if we will be able to hit $100,000 before the end of the year as we have the new air/conditioner heating to be paid for and a few other big bills expected, but it feels good to be this close.

We had our 37th wedding anniversary this week - goodness time goes by so fast! So we went our for coffee and cake after work which was lovely. I'm not really one for parties but I do enjoy a coffee date now and again.

I did have a surprise for DH though. I asked him how much he thought we had increased our retirement savings by this year - his guess was $40,000. While he's aware of what I'm doing with finances, its me who does the day to day money management. I was thrilled to be able to say our retirement saving have increased this year by $100,000!  Way over what I had set as a goal for the year - thanks to a good stock market and compound interest started to really build.

So its been a bit of a good news week here financially.

I'm looking forward to having a big clean up around the house and bit more decluttering this weekend.Time to get on top of the housework and get rid of a bit more 'stuff'.




19 Nov 2019

Burned out but getting back to blogging.

I've neglected posting much the last 2 months. I guess I've been avoiding posting as I did not want to just whinge about work. But a few things have happened, including several bloggers posting about 'burnout' that have prompted me to get back to blogging.

So in the last few months I've had several, serious, critical incidents to deal with that have taken a toll. On top of that I've watched another colleague go off on stress leave and one more about to. Two more staff have resigned and a third will leave at Christmas. I do feel burned out. I also understand that the burnout is a result of workplace factors, not a personal weakness.

I have made changes at work where I can and am just refusing to do work that I don't have capacity for. My manager has been supportive. I have had a few days off, which just gave me some space from the constant demands I know I can't meet. I've said no a lot and written submissions to management which have resulted in meetings and some small changes. I've taken action on what I can change and tried to let go of what I can't.

So, now I am really trying to focus on myself and my wellbeing as the #1 priority. And I am feeling better this week than I was a few weeks ago. I signed up for the 'Noom' weight loss app and that has been good. I feel like I've caught up on sleep and am ready to get back into decluttering, sewing, gardening, reading & walking in the coming weeks.

This video 'Its not burnout, its moral injury' makes some very good points about those of us who work in health professions:


2 Nov 2019

October Progress Report

Another month has flown by and its time for an update!

Mortgage
  • current balance $107,647
  • down from $109,687
  • total reduction $2,040
We had a meeting with the bank yesterday and our interest rates have been dropped. Our mortgage is now st 3.32% and our investment loans are 3.89%

Retirement
  • me $148,693
  • DH $329,108
  • total $477,799
  • total increase: $6,117
Health

I was doing well with restarting walking but the last week has been very high stress at work so haven't exercised this week. I had some dental work done after a bad toothache so it was good to get that finished. Health is definitely going to be the focus for 2020.

Work

Dealing with a serious crisis the last week at work has really driven home the point - I just want to retire. Its very stressful and I'm so tired. Another position has been cut in my team. Everyone is just waiting for more lay off announcements, hopefully before the end of the year. Thank goodness for great colleagues as we all try and keep each others spirits up.

I finished at my second job so our income will go down now. All of that income went towards debt reduction so we need to make savings elsewhere to keep reducing the debt. I really loved the work a lot and am so glad I took it on. But I need to slow down so I'm going to gracefully accept the ending of that part of my professional life.

Home

Nothing major done around the house. We are getting the air conditioning replace in the next few weeks so I'm saving up the $5,000 for that. I have been doing small bits of decluttering each weekend - making slow and steady progress!




30 Oct 2019

An expensive week!

This time of year is always expensive for us. It's the time when our insurances and car registrations all come due. This year its also a month where we earn a lot less as my second job is phasing out with much less hours. But this week we also had the added costs of an urgent dental treatment for me and yesterday an expensive Dr's visit for DH plus a script for the cat.

  • car service: $250
  • dentist: $440
  • home & contents insurance: $1080
  • chemist $99
  • Dr $44
  • cat chemist: $60
  • ambulance cover: $98
  • car registration: $700
I'm saving for the air conditioning replacement in November ($5000) so there will be limited extra money to pay off the mortgage next month. 

Work has been very quiet which is nice. Another slice of my work has been given to another department so theres less and less for me to do. Its an odd feeling after many years of having a huge workload but possibly a sign they want the position reduced next year.



15 Oct 2019

September Progress Report

A belated progress report for September! I had it written out but forgot to hit publish.

Mortgage
The mortgage balance is now under $110,00! I put every cent I could find into the mortgage last month, I'm determined to reach our end of year goal.
  • current balance $109,687 
  • down from $116,577
  • total reduction $6,890
Retirement
The market was up last month so we had a nice big increase in our retirement savings:
  • me $144,900
  • DH $326,782
  • total $471,682
  • total increase $14,020
Health
Not much new, I am planning on getting back into walking when I return from holidays, my weight has gone up... lets just say work stress & leave it at that for the moment.

Work
This was my last month for a full second job income which all went into the mortgage. Just counting the days till retirement and trying to keep my head down. DH has been asked to do some extra hours until Christmas so that will help make up for my income going down.

Home
Not much change at home, a little bit more weeding and decluttering completed.

14 Sept 2019

Another Mortgage Milestone!

Last week we got our finally got our tax refund paid into our account. After paying a few bills I've just made a nice big extra payment off the mortgage to bring it down to $112,558 - the end of year 18 balance on the Amoratisation table.

It feels so good to cross out another line!

So with 15 weeks left until the end of 2019 I need to pay $837.20/week to reach our goal of $100,000 mortgage balance by end of the year. I also have to replace our heater/air conditioner which will be $5000 at the end of October so we need to keep our spending down.

The last few months I've been really tired and I am looking forward to next year when I am just doing my day job. I have also been reading 'How to Retire Happy, Wild & Free' which was recommended on the MMM forums. Its been really helpful to me, as someone who has really invested a lot of my identity in my career. I will write more on this a bit later, but overall I have really come to accept its time to slow down and smell the roses.

I have only a few weeks until holidays - New Zealand here we come! - can't wait!


4 Sept 2019

August Progress Report

I've been awol from blogging this month but heres a quick update of the last months progress:

Mortgage

Paid a bit extra on the mortgage this month. I'm feeling more optimistic we can reach our $100,000 goal by the end of the year.
  • current balance: $116,577
  •  down from $118,340
  • total reduction:$1763
Retirement
A drop in the markets lately so the balance is down a little. I did put in extra this month while the market was down - buying shares while on sale!
  • me: $139,307
  • DH: $318,355
  • total:$457,662
  • total decrease: $4,065
Health
Back to walking or exercising each day, its always nicer in Spring to be out and about. Holidays are coming up and I find that is always a bit of a 'reset' - I come back well rested and usually lose a bit of weight. 

Work
Well its actually gone a bit quiet at work so its nice to not be so busy. I have been cleaning out a lot of old files and old resources no longer needed. My second job will stop in a month or two and after some discussion with DH I am just going to do my day job and take a break from extra work until I find out about if I get laid off next year. I am looking forward to slowing down and we will make the reduced income work.

Home
We have completed painting two rooms and I have bought the curtains (on sale at Spotlight). Two garden beds have been cleaned out. Our heater/air condtioning broke last week and we got it repaired however it needs replacing ( its about 12 years old) so the approximate quote was $5000. It is on the -to do- list!


1 Aug 2019

July Progress Report

July has been pretty busy, time away to visit family and busy with work - heres how things look for the month:

Mortgage:
No extra payments off the mortgage this month:
  • $118,340 down from $119,475  
  • total reduction: $1,135
Retirement:
I am amazed at how fast our retirement funds are growing! The market just keeps going up! My goal when I started this blog was to have $500,000 in our retirement accounts by the end of 2022 - now it looks like we could reach that goal by the end of this year. These are tax advantaged accounts that include employer contributions as well as ours.
  • Me: $139,698
  • DH: $322,029
  • Total: $461,727
  • total increase: $11,909
Health
I started exercising again and had a flare up of arthritis so back to square one with exercise - my weight is that same which is not surprising. But I am feeling much better the last few days and hoping to start walking again soon.

Work
I've had some time off work which has been nice. A member of my team resigned this week. Now we are four - down from eight - down from 13 when I originally started.  I am thinking about going part time at my job next year. I feel a lot better since making the decision - I'm happier, I'm less stressed, I have more energy and I don't feel like my job is consuming my every waking moment.  

Home
DH has been painting so I now have two rooms done. Next job is to get a quote for the carpet and put the curtains up. I've done a little bit more decluttering, gave a few family keepsakes to DS and another bag to the op shop.

My job for this week is to put our tax in - finally! 

6 Jul 2019

June Progress Report

Time for another progress update:

Mortgage:
We reached our Year 17 balance on the mortgage this month:
  • $119,475  down from $120,872
  • total reduction: $1,397 
Retirement: 
I've bumped up payments to our retirement funds and that will be our priority until I know whats happening with my job next year:
  • Me: $134,631
  • DH: $315,187
  • Total: $449,818
  • total increase: $14,148
Health
The whole family has been sick on and off for the last month - I had 3 weeks off work with this flu thats doing the rounds, starting to improve a bit now. No exercise due to being sick and my weight has stayed the same.

Work
Well I've been away mostly but I have had a meeting with management where its was indicated that the chances of me being laid off are much higher now. Two more colleagues have resigned. I've booked a few more days leave in a few weeks.

I've finally completed the training I've been doing so I'll have more time to get back to life outside of work!  I'm not going to take on too much extra work in the next 12 months.

Home
Not much done around the house this month but looking forward to getting back into painting and decluttering this month.

17 Jun 2019

Retirement Savings -Mortgage changes

The last two weeks we've all been sick. DH and I both ended up off work for a week - this latest cold really does knock you about! I'm going back to work today but I certainly don't feel like I'm 100%.

Yesterday I made a change to our retirement funds. They had been in the hostplus Indexed Balanced option and I have now changed them over to the Balanced option. Although the balanced option has higher fees, it is performing better and has a more diversified portfolio. I think that we are headed for difficult times in this country with the re-election of this dreadful government - maybe even a recession? So having a wider range of investments should help to buffer our savings a bit from a downturn.

I have also been reconsidering our extra mortgage payoff progress. Our mortgage is only 4% interest, our retirement savings could be getting 12% (based on last years figures). Financially its a smarter decision to put it in retirement funds than off the mortgage which is already well ahead. What I am thinking of doing is just paying the interest amount as the extra payment each month ( now just over $400) and putting all the extra into retirement savings. So the goals for the year will change a bit as we head into the new financial year.


3 Jun 2019

Monday Motivation!

I woke up this morning determined to get back to some better routines and better time management. I've been a bit sidetracked with this training and realised on the weekend I haven't read a book this year, I haven't sewn anything for months and the walking/exercise has just gone by the wayside.

I've started the day with a weigh-in, a healthy fruit smoothie and catching up on a few blogs. Ilona had a great post on motivation which was just what I needed today: Motivation  - its a good read if you need a bit of a pep talk.

Some goals for June to keep me on track:

  • eat Dr Gregers daily dozen 20 days (minus grains)
  • read 2 1001 books
  • finish two charity quilts and post
  • declutter the bathroom
  • complete website 



1 Jun 2019

May Progress Report

Not a huge amount of progress financially in the last month:

Mortgage

  • $120,872 down from $121,680
  • total reduction $808
Retirement Savings
  • me $129,810
  • DH $305,250
  • Total $435,670
  • total decrease $1,226
Health
My weight is the same, haven't been exercising as much as I'd like. Had some time off work with the flu. 

Work
Work has been quite busy but I've been taking regular small breaks, a few days off every 3-4 weeks and that has really helped. I've been busy working on training for setting up my consulting business so doing webinars in the middle of the night and very early mornings. I'm building my website and have set up a company, got the legal work done and need to open my bank account. Currently talking to my first potential client. I'm enjoying having a new challenge and its keeping my pretty busy.

Home
Well the last coat of paint will go on tomorrow in the front lounge room and my new office so it will be good to have that done. One garden bed is fully cleaned out ready to replant and the other is almost done, three trees chopped down and pathways cleaned up. 


23 May 2019

...doesn't time fly!

I was shocked to realise how long it is since I've posted here. The last six weeks has been quite hectic and it will continue for another few months. So its time for a bit of a catch up.

My plan is to transition from working face to face to working as a consultant online part time after I retire from my job. My manager has really encouraged each of us to be building an income outside of work so we have something in place if we get laid off. So I am doing a US based course (which means I get up in the middle of the night one night a week) to up my quals and get started on setting up my new business. Its going well and I feel confident its going to be successful. Its just going to be a juggling act for a while!

Financially - we've used the redraw for business set up costs, training courses and also for some work around the yard. It's also slowed down our mortgage payoff for a while.

So when I'm not at work I'm studying or building my website or writing content or working on marketing plans. I'm really enjoying it so I feel happier and less stressed about work. I have been taking time off pretty regularly as I am tired, but overall I'm happier.

We've been working on the yard and the painting inside. Each Sunday we spend a few hours working together outside, we've chopped down trees, cleaned out garden beds and I've had another round of decluttering clothes. I feel that we are starting to move into a retirement mindset, we're detaching from workplace issues and enjoying pottering about together. DH working less hours and me taking days off here and there is giving us a feel for whats to come - and it feels good!

So for the next few months I'll still be busy with training and business set up and then I'll have a bit more time for myself and more frequent blogging.

7 May 2019

April Progress Report

April has been a busy month here as I'm doing some training, so not as much extra money to put off the mortgage for a while.

Mortgage
  •  $121,680, down from $123,676
  • Total reduction: $1996
Retirement Savings
  • Mine: $128,336
  • DH:    $306,560
  • Total: $436,896
  • total increase: $8470
Health
I've added green juices to my diet a couple of days a week which I'm enjoying, doing some weights training but need to add a bit more cardio exercise.

Work
Work has quietened down which is nice. But we've been told the redundancy discussions have been postponed yet again, so probably early in 2021. So I am doing some training to take the work I do online and create a side-gig/retirement business. I'm really enjoying it but it will slow down our mortgage payoff for the next 3-4 months. Having something else to focus has been great, I feel far less stressed knowing I'm working towards a new business & semi-retirement.

Home
I've been working on cleaning up outside and weeding garden beds. Inside the painting is progressing slowly. 


9 Apr 2019

No Solar Power & The Plumber Came!

Well at last we actually got a plumber to come to the house and fix the taps! This is the fourth plumber we booked and the first one to actually show up. He was to come last week but got caught up on a job so he rang to let us know and rescheduled for yesterday. So the leaking tap and the banging pipes are now fixed. Its taken a few months but its done now and we'll be using that plumber in the future.

We got the quotes back on the solar power from two different companies. Because we don't use a lot of electricity, it would take 7-8 years for it to become cost effective. So after that we would be saving money. So we have decided that we aren't going to put solar power on. Its $10-$14,000 we could spend doing other work around the house.

DH has decided to take leave when I am off in a few weeks so we're planning another big week of work around the house - more cleaning out of gardens and more painting, decluttering so I'm really looking forward to that.

4 Apr 2019

March Progress Report

In March we've been plodding along with payments and savings. I can see that I've got back in the habit of spending small amounts here and there that add up.

Mortgage
  • $123,676 down from $127,992
  • mortgage reduction $4,316
Retirement Savings
  • mine $125,112
  • DH $301,314
  • total savings $426,426
  • total increase $14,166
Health
I haven't walked the last two weeks as its still dark out at 6am now and its quite cold now of a morning. I finally jumped on the scales yesterday and it was not good news! My weight is up to 97.8 kgs - too much stress eating going on. So diet and exercise is high on the agenda this month for me. 

Work
Not good, another good work friend has taken several months leave and yesterday yet another called in to my office to tell me they are leaving soon. I took some time off in March and have more time off in a few weeks. 

I've started making plans for how I can do some work online next year and am about to start a group course to learn about online business set ups. With the Liberal government winning our state elections the chances of redundancy are higher for me - they just want to privatise everything unfortunately.

Where I am temporarily located at work I don't have easy access to a kitchen so I have got back in the habit of buying a coffee 2-3 days a week and chocolate bar or pkt of chips now and again, something I haven't done for a very, very long time - suddenly there is $20 - $30 a week just wasted. So that stops today - I'll fill up a thermos to take from now on. 

Home
I did a bit more decluttering and have a few more bags to go to the op shop. We've got the walls in the lounge/dining room prepped and ready to paint. The dining room will become my new office so I can work online. Last weekend after all the rain here we weeded one of the garden beds. The last few days I've been doing some extra cooking for the freezer - bone broth, soup, muffins and meals. We got quotes for solar power but haven't made a decision yet. We're still waiting on a plumber to come & fix the taps.

25 Mar 2019

Retirement savings & hard to find good tradies!

I check our retirement accounts each fortnight after the payments have gone through. I was happy to see that we have now reached our goal for 2019 which was $420,000!  ... and its only 3 months into the year.  Of course the market fluctuates and its been up lately, but its a good feeling being able to cross off one of my goals so early.

The mortgage is now down to $124,287. next goal is end of Year 17 balance - $119,519.

No painting got done again this weekend - DH wants to do a bit more prep work and it will need undercoating in one area. I just want it done asap but I'll have to be patient - he's not the most enthusiastic handyman but he'll get there eventually.

We've been having problems with our tap in the kitchen for a while and with a banging water pipe in the bathroom.  We had a plumber organised to come and fix on the weekend but he was a no show and no notification he wasn't coming - its very frustrating.This is the second plumber we've arranged to fix it and the first one did the same thing. Why is it so hard to get a tradesperson to just turn up!  So we'll have to try a third one now.

On a good note we had a second solar heating company come and measure up. They have a really good system that would see us change to gas hot water and any excess KW gets used to heat water first, then excess over that goes to the grid. It does a cost a bit more and we're waiting on quotes. They also commented on how low our electricity use is which was nice as we do try and not waste it, without being misers. It will be interesting to see both quotes and the savings projections.

Well its 5.45am here and its raining steadily. The sound of it is lovely. We need the rain and the cooler change is great.  I have only about a month to work and then I'm having some more time off which I'm looking forward to. Time to do a few chores before work.

19 Mar 2019

This & that...

We've had a cool change in the weather since yesterday and its raining softly outside this morning. Its a nice change from the heat and we even had to put a blanket on the bed last night. We could use a bit of rain on the garden and I've moved my pot plants out from under the verandah so they get watered.

We did not get the lounge/dining room painted as planned. DH hurt his shoulder so we decided to leave it to next weekend.

We did get our visit from the solar power company. They are preparing  a quote for us. It was interesting when we discussed our electricity use as we only use the amount that a 1. 2 person household would use, (there's 3 adults here) so we're using less than half the average electricity use. We have another company coming to give us a quote later in the week. It will be interesting to see what savings calculations come back in the quotes.

I finally got paid for my second job for January and put that off the mortgage - new balance is now $125,293. 

Its back to work today for me - I feel so much better for taking some time off!

16 Mar 2019

New Zealand

So sad this morning about the terrorist attack in New Zealand.  People at prayer,  families at worship together, executed by a white nationalist filled with hate.

Over the last ten years in Australia, as in other countries we've seen the rise of 'nationalism' in our society. And just like in the US we now have people in our government who are racist and seek to divide us against our muslim community.

How fearful and shortsighted they are.

I think of my clients that are Muslim and from other countries and how sad and afraid they must be feeling right now. I only hope they know that many people do care, do welcome them and do not condone the increasing rhetoric we are hearing downunder.

We have to do better than this.


13 Mar 2019

Prepping for painting and other plans...

I've had a lovely few days here at home. DH took a few days off as well which has been nice. We've enjoyed our morning walks where we've been planning out what we want to do now that I've changed my retirement date. DH is really keen for us to stay in this house as long as we can. Previously our plan was to sell up and move into our unit once we retired but he's reluctant to move. So that also impacts on our decisions about the way we set up the house and gardens if we are staying instead of selling. Its been great to have the time together to just talk through all these things.

Our main focus this week has been on decluttering and preparing to paint. I'm going to revamp our formal dining room area into an office space for me to work out of and DS's old room is going to become the gym. So we've taken a few loads to the op shop, moved all the furniture into the centre of the formal lounge/dining room and tomorrow we'll wash down the walls with a goal of painting on the weekend.

I'm excited to create a nice new office space just for me. At the moment my work 'stuff' is just spread out all over the dining room table and stacked up in the bookcase and in various bags around the sewing room ( which was my office years ago!). My new office space will give me a quiet space so I can work online with clients and not be disturbed. Once we've painted we'll re-carpet. I already have most of the furniture I need and some new curtains I bought on sale.

DH has also been researching solar power and we have someone coming to give us quote this Friday. I'm considering going all electric too so we only pay one daily service charge instead of two ( gas & electricity).

Well I'm off to my second job now, which is always enjoyable. Then back into painting prep in the morning.


11 Mar 2019

Changing the Date!

As you know work has been stressing me out for a long time now and its only going to continue in my current position. At the end of last week I had a very frank talk with my manager. My job is secure for the next 12 months for sure. After that its anyones guess. So, after much reflection I am changing our plans for five years to retirement.

If you look over to the sidebar you'll see a new date for retirement from my job,  at the end of next year, just before my 58th birthday. If I don't get laid off then I'll leave and my plan is do some part time work in my own business again, doing much the same as what I do now. Retirement here I come in 2020!

I'm excited but more than that I feel relieved. The decision is made now I can just get on with making new plans and preparations. I feel like a weight has been lifted!

In the meantime I've got a heap of decluttering done around the house in the last two days- I'm just about to load up the car again to take stuff to the op shop this morning.  I plan on having much, much less 'stuff' in the house by the end of this week of holidays.


7 Mar 2019

Mortgage Milestone & time off

Well today is payday which is always the best day of the week. I've just paid the extra off the mortgage which is now $125,992. That takes us to the end of Year 16 on our original mortgage.

This week I talked to the bank and got our redraw reduced. I decided to keep  $15,000 available in redraw,as a bit of a back up while I build up the emergency fund.

I'm taking some leave for the next week and a bit. At the moment I expect there will be layoffs in July so I am better to use up some leave before then and I need the break in truth. I'm looking forward to some time off and currently making a big list of jobs I want to get done around the house and I have three quilts that need finishing.

My ticker with days left to retirement had now reached 1300's- love watching it go down!





1 Mar 2019

February Progress report

We've done reasonably well in February with our financial goals, but not so well otherwise. I dropped my iphone and broke the screen which cost $160 to repair.  My wages from my second job are late so not as much off the mortgage this month and not near as much on the good eating & exercise front as I would have liked.

Mortgage
  • $127,268 down from $129,992
  • mortgage reduction $2724
Retirement Savings
  • mine $120,384
  • DH  $291,876
  • total savings $412,260
  • total increase $7452
Groceries I'm no longer tracking grocery savings each week so will remove this from future reports.

Health
I've been walking for an hour 2- 3 days a week in the early mornings which has been enjoyable when I do it.  My diet is not going great - I am an emotional eater and my weight has gone up even though I haven't weighed myself due to high work stress. I'm just too tired to do much of anything when I get home from work and took a few days off.

Work
Just super stressful. Two more people have left in the last week, one is someone I've known and worked with for years that I ran into yesterday morning when I went in to the office. They were in early to collect the last of their things - just can't take the stress anymore so they resigned. The rumour mill is rife that they'll bring forward to the layoffs to this July instead of waiting till 2020. Its an unmanageable workload. I am really hoping to get laid off but not sure I will be on the list. Fortunately I have options. In the meantime I'm just doing whatever I need to do to keep sane lol!

Home
I've got some decluttering done in my sewing room. No other work done around the house and yard our excuse is the heatwave temps we've had!  Will do better next month.

25 Feb 2019

...busy busy busy!

I've been getting heaps done over the weekend!  Unfortunately I dropped my phone and it broke so I can't take any pics to post, but I have got a lot done in the sewing room.

I've been alternating with an hour or so of sewing ( its the only way to reduce the amount of fabric stash!) and a half hour of decluttering. I've sewn a heap of 9 patches for childrens quilts, some baby leggings, 6 dresses, 4 jelly rolls joined ready to be cut into patches for quilt tops and half a dozen bunny rugs. I've really enjoyed myself and posted off another bag of goodies to a charity this morning.

Today I've started on the paperwork and the cooking, with a bit of sewing now again because I can't resist. Its cooled down here a lot overnight which is good - I have more energy when its not too hot.

Well, I better get back into it, its nice to have the time and energy to just get things done and not be interrupted by having to go to work!

22 Feb 2019

Mortgage payments & weekend plans

Yesterday was payday. I actually really look forward to it as I can't wait to transfer the extra payments of the mortgage once the bills are paid. Over the last week DH has been on jury duty. Each day the court transfers his payment to our account and so I've been putting that off the mortgage as well.

Our mortgage balance is now down to  $127,574!   Next week I should get my pay from my second job for last month which will take us down another $1000.

I have a few days off now and I need to get back into the decluttering at home. So this is my 'to do' list for the next week:

  • take a load to the op shop
  • clean up the bedroom  
  • more decluttering in the sewing room 
  • clean the bathroom including the bathroom cupboards 
  • paperwork!!  - 
  • write report for second job & invoice 
  • finalise shut down of SMSF
  • set up folders for each IP
  • set up bill paying system documents 
  • start BOM
  • sewing for charity projects
  • cooking for freezer - muffins, meals & soups -




20 Feb 2019

Being creative..

I've started working through TheArtists Way book - a 12 week reflective process on creativity.

Its made me think about my grandma a lot - a very down to earth country girl who had a huge influence on my life.

I've always loved sewing and crotchet. I also knit but not as much. My grandma started teaching me these when I was four.

She would let me play around on the old treadle sewing machine making simple things for my dolls. After lunch she always crocheted, knitted and mended while watching Days of Our Lives & General Hospital. So I had a little blue chair next to hers and she patiently taught me the stitches. The first thing I ever made was a blue knitted square, a blanket for my doll.



I loved it!  I used a treadle sewing machine until I was 16 when I saved up and bought a little Elna with money from my part time job. I made a lot of my own clothes, knitted jumpers for myself & vests for DH when I worked night duty and sewed for my kids when they were babies & toddlers.




But then life got incredibly busy and somehow I just stopped doing anything creative for quite a few years. I think if happens to a lot of women, we just find our days are filled with work, caring for kids, caring for parents and we put ourselves and our interests further down the list.




About 5 years ago I decided to get back to it. I bought myself a new sewing machine and got busy sewing and crocheting for charity. I don't have any grandchildren to sew for and I realised that there are lots of kids out there that don't have grandmothers to sew for them, so its very satisfying to be able to create and then give it away. And I also make things for myself as well.



I used to have a blog for it but I've decided I'll post here now as its a big part of who I am and how I want to spend my time once I retire. At the moment I'm working on making some dresses, some blankets and also just starting on my BOM quilt.  I thought I'd write about it today instead of work which is just not good at the minute. And also I'm working on cleaning out my sewing room which is fun.





So being creative is one of the ways I cope with stress and 'chill out'.  What do you do just because you love it and it relaxes you? Is there something creative you'd like to try or are you working on something right now? Let me know in the comments.

15 Feb 2019

...taking a deep breath!

Its been quite a long and stressful week. February & March is always the most hectic time for me at work - long hours, lots of upset & distressed clients and an inbox that fills as fast as I can empty it. So Monday morning I arrived to find the building I work in completely flooded - and this is not the first time its happened but its the first time its happened at the start of the year.

So its been a very chaotic week, no access to files, no suitable workplace and lots of frustration - not to mention that my office stinks and is going mouldy as we speak.  Our organisation has had huge funding cuts and staff cuts in the thousands over recent years so its difficult to get anything done fast.

This week has been lots of counting to 10... lots of 'slow down and take a deep breath' moments ...

I'm so glad I booked some leave in a few weeks!

I was going to post some photos of my sewing & crotchet this morning but I have lost my phone - hopefully it turns up soon.

And on a more positive note I've decided I'm going to work through 'The Artists Way' book - a 12 week, reflective process to help creativity.  It will be my little escape from the day to day stuff as I feel I'm just getting sucked into work drama at the moment. So if anyone want to join me I'm going to start this weekend - will post more about it then.

Bring on the weekend!

11 Feb 2019

a progress report, sort of!

The last few weeks I've taken a bit of a break from being online as much as usual. I've just been in a bit of a funk about work- another good colleague I have worked with for many years is leaving & someone else quit on the spot 2 weeks ago. I'm skipping my usual first of the month update format this month for a general chit chat.

 I've been cheering myself up by working on my fabric & yarn stash, doing a lot of sewing & crotchet for my charity groups. My sewing room had gotten in quite a mess in the last 2 years. I had boxes all over the floor and stacked up on the desk.

After three weeks working on it, I now have the floor almost fully cleared and the desk stacks are about half as big as they were. I have sent several parcels off to my charities with tote bags, baby rugs, kids blankets, stuffed toys and childrens clothes. I'm aiming at sending a parcel every two weeks until I've restored order. I really love sewing and its my stress relief so its been good for me to get back to it. I have also started a Sarah Fielke BOM as well so I can get better at hand applique. Honestly, when I retire I'll be sewing everyday!

On the finance side we've made some good progress!  Our mortgage is now at $128,992.  Our retirement funds have hit $404,808.

One decision I have made about work is to take leave a bit more often. I had been saving my leave for when I resign but I think I need more frequent breaks to stay there for longer, so I have taken a week off next month and I'm going to use that time to finish the decluttering and maybe even get the painting started.

I've also been walking three days a week which just is a great way to start the day.

So thats my update for mid Feb.  1448 days to go!


24 Jan 2019

Another Mortgage Milestone!

This morning I've finally reached another payoff milestone with the mortgage!

The balance is now $132,384 which takes us just below the end of Year 15 balance.

Next goal is to get into the $120's.

I am waiting for backpay from my second job to come through which will all go off the mortgage so I hope that arrives in my bank account soon.

In the meantime I'm back at work and doing my best to stay positive, but its not easy. This week I had a significant part of my work taken away, without notice or discussion, another bit of my job description has been carved off and given to someone else - its frustrating!  But it is making me wonder if its part of a long term plan to reduce or get rid of my position. My goal is just to do my best to stick it out and see if I get redundancy next year, but honestly, its not easy turning up in this environment. I also think they are hoping people just leave so they don't have to pay them out.

So, I'm very focused on reducing our budget right now and also on switching off from work when I get home. I'm thinking of setting myself a grocery challenge soon just to push myself a bit out of my comfort zone and I'm busy watching lots of movies on Austar before it ends as we have cancelled it.

Once I get my more detailed budget finished I might post some more specifics here on the weekend so I can track my progress better.


17 Jan 2019

Heatwave!

We are in the middle of a heatwave downunder at the moment. I hate to think what our electricity bill is going to be! Yesterdays temperature was predicted to be 41C (106F) but it 'only' went up to 39C. However today and tomorrow its expected to be 42C (107) here.

Our poor air conditioner is really getting a workout. We usually don't put it on until the temperature reaches 27C inside (80F). Well I slept on the lounge last night as its just too hot in the bedroom and when I woke up at 3.30am the temperature inside was already at 28 and outside its 25C and rapidly rising. I've got the windows open and there's a slight breeze which is helping.

Fortunately for me my workplace has good air conditioning so its comfortable to work in during the day. And we don't even live in the hottest areas on the map, we are just off the purple colour on the map in the link above where temperatures are getting up to 49.5C (121F). We are going to look into getting ceiling fans in the rooms before next winter and we've started looking at solar power suppliers. Energy costs in Australia are amongst the most expensive in the world and heating and cooling are one of our biggest expenses so at least solar would reduce those costs over the long term.

The other thing we need to be aware of in the summer heat is snakes. My workplace has brown snakes in several areas and each summer we have a signpost of a cartoon snake the goes up to remind us to be careful. One of the areas snakes have been seen is the area just outside the entrance to my office block. A big brown was caught there last year, about 1.3meters. We also had a big brown snake in the next door neighbours garden last year. I am very careful when walking out to the car each day as our garden is a real mess, would be plenty of good hiding places there and we need to clean it up. But working in the garden at this time of year would be pretty silly so we'll have to wait till the temperature goes down a bit. Snakes are very fast in the heat.

Oh well, its about 4.30 here now, inside temp is now down to 26C and the outside temp is 25.5C. I'm so tired from not sleeping and apologies for rambling lol!

On the finance side I'm waiting for a big payment from my second job which will go straight off the mortgage.

11 Jan 2019

New Budgets & Mortgage payments

Yesterday we received our first pay with DH's reduced wages. So his income has dropped $200/week or $800 a month which is quite a lot. My income has gone down $250/week since I've reduced my second job hours. I have gone back to using YNAB and done up a new budget for the year, looking for where we can make some savings.

DD & I have banned ourselves from going to the shopping centre just one block away as we overspend there. Instead we have been doing the shopping online & collecting it each week and we're spending less. I'm sure I can reduce our grocery spending further in coming months.

To reach our goal of paying $35,000 off the mortgage we will need to pay $673 per week plus approx. $100/week interest = $773/week. So my goal is $800 per week. I will pay all of my second job income off the mortgage which is $800-$1000 per month.

So today, after paying some bills and doing the grocery shopping I transferred an extra $350 off the mortgage, taking the balance to $133,521

I can't wait till I see that number go under $100,000 some time in 2019!

9 Jan 2019

2019 Goals & decluttering progress.

In 2019 our income will go down with DH doing less hours and me doing less at my second job. I also want to focus more on my health this year and on life outside of work and we need to spend some time and money on work around the house.

2019 Goals

Mortgage: reduce mortgage balance by $35,000
Emergency Fund: $2000
Superannuation: $420,000

Weight: 70kgs
Exercise: 4 days a week
1001 books list: 12 books

Declutter house
Clean out & replant garden beds front & back of house
Replace insulation in the roof
Paint inside house
Retaining walls front garden
Retaining walls back garden
Finish fencing
Paving under pergola
Ceiling fans in bedrooms and family room

We've been working really hard the last two weeks on decluttering the house and I'd estimate we've got rid of 30 - 40% of what we own. Thats why I haven't been online much at all. We were ruthless in getting rid of things and I didn't let emotional attachments get in the way this time. So much stuff that we have accumulated over 30 years living here, raising a family, is now gone. I want to just keep things that we need now, to only have things in the house that we use or that make me smile. It feels very freeing to have less.

I have spent more than I planned to this month though. We got rid of a lot of old linen and towels as they were pretty worn out. It would be over 10 years since I've bought any. So I bought three sheet sets and four new towels each after cleaning out the linen cupboards. The cupboards have gone from overflowing out the doors to neatly folded linen on just two shelves.

In the kitchen we cleaned out our pantry/storeroom and all the kitchen cupboards. I gave away appliances, dishes and pans that I don't use much and tossed out a lot of things we had stored but rarely use like old jars, storage containers, kids school projects, certificates, art, toys etc. The kitchen now has one corner cupboard that is completely empty and in the storeroom/pantry the only thing on the floor is the freezer and the esky. Before this we could hardly get into the storeroom because of the mess! After the cleanout I bought some new kitchen items to replace some of our old things so I spend a bit there but again, its years since we spent anything.

In DS's room we had also tended to just dump things in there since he moved out. So we decluttering in there as well and got rid of old computers, bookcases, papers from school,  more of mums things, clothes and belongings that had been mums. There are still some boxes of books stored there but the room is now clean and useable as a guest room.

I also am almost finished decluttering and organising my sewing room, which I am so pleased with! I have several projects on the go now and am looking forward to spending more time sewing, crotcheting and quilting this year and am back working on some charity projects.

So from today I'm just going back to my flylady routines to deal with the last of the excess 'stuff' and keep the house clean. When I went back to work last year I just got slammed with work and didn't do any of my hobbies last year - that is not going to happen again and having the house decluttered will really help me find some time for myself.

I'm back at my second job tomorrow. I've started back on my low carb diet with intermittent fasting and walking again and the weight is coming off. So far 2019 is going well!


1 Jan 2019

December Progress Report

I set huge goals last year, especially the mortgage goal. I'm pleased to say we reached most of them and had a total mortgage reduction of $40,425 in 2018! Essentially we have paid almost one full income off the mortgage this year. Our 2018 goals totals are listed here:  2018 Goals progress page

Mortgage

This month we finally got the redraw paid off completely.
  • $134,483  down from $135,345
  • $0 down from $5,643
  • total mortgage reduction $6,505
Retirement Savings 

Our superannuation balance is down this month again due to the stock market drops.
  • mine $109,221 
  • DH $267,200
  • total savings $376,421
  • total decrease $7,839
Groceries
  •  $50 CC  points
  •  $18.38 savings
  •  $68.38  total savings
Health

My weight went up another kg. I've finished the year up 2.9kgs from where I started. I did really well up until mid year when work stress just really set me back healthwise. I know what works for me and I'm working on getting back to it. We started walking a few days a week again since we've been on holidays. My health is my #1goal for 2019.

Work

Right now I'm not thinking about work! Its been a helluva year to be honest. I earned $11,215 (before tax) in my second job, which I really love doing, but it will be less this year as I'm getting tired. Work is just stressful and this year will be worse than last as we face more cuts. 

Home

I have really done a LOT of decluttering last week - 2 vans of stuff to the dump and one vanload of stuff to the op shop. My decluttering efforts slowed down in 2018 but I'm working pretty much full time on it so I can try and have the bulk of it done before I go back to work, then I can just try and keep on top of it through the year ahead. 

The yard and garden - well there is a very long list of jobs to be done lets just say that!

Overall its been a good month and financially I am really pleased with how we've done this year. I'm excited about 2019 and will post my goals for the year tomorrow.