One of those days

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Image from pixabay.com.  It came up in a search for images related to “resignation.” 🙂

Last night, I came home from work with two six-packs of beer in my hands.  My roommate took one look at them and my face and said “One of those days, huh?” (For the record, I only had two.  He drank three.)

I try to be positive on this blog, I really do.  But sometimes, you just have one of those crappy ass days where you think to yourself, “WHY am i doing this?” Also, “that’s it, I’m GOING to change my life and my work.”

It is not abnormal for my hospital to get phone calls with questions such as:

  • “Is this something I should bring my pet in for?   It was in dog fight and now it’s eye is sticking out from its socket.”
  • “My dog has been vomiting and has had diarrhea for the past seven days.  Do you think I should be worried or bring it in?”

These are the calls that make me want to bang my head against a wall or go outside and do a (not) silent scream in frustration. I want to say to these people, “Well, gee, if you had your eyeball sticking out of its socket, would YOU want to seek medical attention?!  or If you had it coming out of both ends for a week, would YOU want to go to a doctor and get something for it??!!  Then why would you think it would be any different for your pet?!”

Usually with these calls, we then get the story of how they can’t afford to have their pet treated. We give out the phone numbers to the low-income clinics.  Or we get told that we are selfish money grubbers who only care about money, not if their pet lives or dies.  And sometimes they hang up on us.  One day, it happened to me three times.  Because, you know, it’s MY fault that they can’t afford to take care of their pet.

Nothing could be further from the truth and it pisses me off so much.  I want to say, “Trust me.  I make $12.50/hour so I’m certainly NOT making money off of your pet.”  But I can’t.  I have to try and be as nice as possible with them.

Public Service Announcement:  Please, please, please, people, if you can’t afford to take care of a  pet when it gets sick, DON’T adopt it.  Or find a way to save for its health needs. Or take out pet insurance.  Or hell, get a job at an animal clinic so you get a huge discount on their pet care.  Or call the low-income clinics and find out when or if they have special clinics for certain health needs like vaccination clinics or spay and neuter clinics.  I could go on and on.  The point is —  DO SOMETHING.

Don’t expect the person answering the phone at the animal hospital to be a miracle worker or the receptacle for all of your problems and frustrations.  Because WE are people too.  We really are.  We have feelings.  We are scraping to get by just as you are.  (In fact, many of us joke that we work there so that we can afford to take care of our pets or pay our vet bill.  Unfortunately, it’s also kind of true.)  And also, if you’re there with us in person, don’t treat us as if we are stupid because we are standing behind that desk.  I have advanced degrees.  I have CHOSEN to work with animals because I love them so much.

One thing my mom taught me, and I wish other people had learned as well – never assume that the person assisting you is beneath you or doesn’t deserve your respect.  You NEVER know who you are talking to.  And believe me, it’s true.  And you never  know if that person could be the one to help you out when you need it. I mean, truly need it. 

The point of all this is that yesterday was one of those days where I became even more resolved to change my life from its present circumstances.  Tonight, I will take a transcription test or a remote researcher test (another option for me to make extra cash) so I can start earning more side hustle income, and make one of my dreams more of a reality – being able to do freelance work to support myself.   I want to have multiple streams of income so that if my writing can’t support me or I just plain fail miserably at it, there are still options that I can rely upon.

Today is a new day.  I’m going to try to remind myself to not let my emotions get caught up in what is going on around me and which I cannot control.  Easier said than done, for sure.  I need to take a deep breath. Or three.  Or four.  Or ten, as the case may be. 

If you’ve ever felt this way about your job or your life, please share below or feel free to share this post with someone who has.  I’d love for us to be able to talk about it.

As always, thank you for reading, and thank you so much to those of you who have commented on or messaged me about my last couple of posts about being brutally honest or my talk about money, either here or on Facebook. They have really helped to keep me inspired.

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If you need to shop online, I’d greatly appreciate it if you use my Amazon affiliate links or Ebates referral link! Every little bit helps, and it costs you nothing to do so. Thank you!

 

 

Let’s Talk Money, Shall We?

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Don’t you just wish money really DID grow on trees?  (Image from pixabay.com)

And why am I bringing this up?  Well, I looked to see what the stats were on some of my blog posts over the years, and lo and behold, it seems like the ones where I talk about money or some other personal finance topic, tend to get the most views.  Is it because we have this voyeuristic impulse to find out what others are doing when it comes to money?  Do we think someone else has the secret key to unlocking all the answers to the problems we’ve experienced or hesitations we feel about money?

I know I’m always willing to talk about money and I’m fine with discussing some of my details on here.  But I know people who would rather have hot lava poured onto them than to do so.  Hell, I’m even related to some people like that.  They’ve just never felt comfortable discussing it, and I think it’s partly in the way that they were brought up.  That’s okay, I won’t judge them and I know they don’t judge me.

I was brought up by a single mom that was pretty open when it came to money.  We didn’t have a lot of it, and we didn’t pretend we did.  In fact, I remember ducking down to the floor of the car on several occasions as I was mortified to have anyone I knew possibly drive by and see my car pulled over to the curb so my mom could check out what someone else was getting rid of.   Nowadays, I think doing that is cool, because you never know what you might find! As they say, one woman’s trash is another woman’s  treasure….

So here’s some numbers from me.  When I was a librarian, living in a big city, I made over $84K/year.  These days, I live in another city but make roughly $24K per year, not counting my freelance work. Back in Boston, I paid $1100 in rent for a studio.  Here, my roomie and I split $550/month for a one bedroom apartment with a fenced in yard and half of a two car garage.  Oh, and I am saving 7% of my meager salary into a 401(k) and $100/paycheck divided among a few accounts.

Here’s a look at my average monthly expenses, with a disclaimer that our gas bill will definitely be higher this month due to heating costs, and our last electric bill was around $140 since we erroneously thought using two space heaters would be cheaper than paying for heat via the furnace. D’oh!

Rent = $550 (split by two) so $275
Electric = $33 (split by two), so $16.50
Gas (household) = $27 (split by two), so $13.50
Private student loan = 162.11
Car loan = $141.42
Internet = $47.23 (but my roommate is paying for all of it via his going back to school through the GI Bill), so $0 for me after reimbursement
Gas (auto) = $50 (only tend to gas up 2-3 times/month)
Food = $200 – ish (this has definitely fluctuated)
Entertainment (eating out, etc., and yes, it includes coloring books and materials) = $40
Car Insurance = $60
Renter’s Insurance = $20
Savings for Travel = $50
Savings for Emergency Fund = $70
Two Credit Cards = $120
Cell Phone (Cricket Wireless) =  $35

TOTAL = $1253.53

Take Home Pay for One Month (we get paid bi-weekly) = $1356.78 (after taxes, 401(k) and insurance deductions)

Full disclosure:  These expense numbers don’t include my vet bill at work which is about $1200 at this time because I plan on paying it off I get my student loan money for the semester.  My work charges 18% interest (ridiculous since we work there), and the student loan will be at 6%.  I will also use some of the excess to pay off the credit cards, because again, the interest rate is much lower.  Then I’ll pay the accruing interest on the student loan and not use the credit cards.  Into the freezer they will go!

Looking at the nunbers, you will notice that there is a bit of wiggle room.  That wiggle room will help me when it comes time to pay our heat bill.  And when it’s not working to pay bills, into the savings it goes!  And two months per year, we get that bonus third paycheck which I will use to pay down debt (or go into the tiny home/condo fund.)  Editor’s note — oh wait!! I forgot my pet food expenses!!   They barely have me breaking even!!  Yep, not so much wiggle room left over.  So that tells me that I need to keep a better handle on where my money is going.  I’ve started writing in my planner at night what I spent during the day. 

In case  you are wondering, my other federal loans are currently in deferment while I’m in the master’s program and when I start paying on them again, it’ll be at the IBR (Income Based Repayment) rate, since I know I will never be able to pay them completely off unless I were to go back to my same job at Harvard as I had in 2015.  Yes, I will end up paying them for 25 more years, but the amount of my monthly payment will vary depending on my income, and at the end of that time period, the amount unpaid will be written off.

WARNING — SIDE TANGENT:  Some of you might get upset at the idea of my loans eventually being written off.  But here’s the thing.  I have paid back those federal loans’ principal balance AND THEN SOME over the past two or so years.  I really have.  And the balance has barely moved.  Paying again for the next twenty five or so years – trust me — they WILL get THOUSANDS more out of me before then! So, in my mind, I will have paid and paid and paid them some more when it’s all over and done.  I just don’t want to be paying and receiving social security at the same time.  (Of course, assuming social security still exists by the time I get to that ripe old age.)

OKAY, SIDE TANGENT/RANT OVER.

My roommate is in the process of paying me back for a few months over the past year when I was carrying the expenses for both of us. So, as he pays me, I’m paying off my debts or putting the money into savings where/when I can.  (And no, I don’t feel comfortable sharing that amount on here because it’s a debt of someone else’s, not mine.  I don’t think he’d be comfortable with my sharing that.)

My roomie and I live pretty frugally.  Mainly our entertainment is watching movies/YouTube videos or taking the dogs for walks in the Bosque, and in my case, reading and coloring. And writing here (and soon, again, for school), or in my journal or elsewhere.  Things that don’t cost much in terms of money.

I wish I had known when I made so much more money, what I know now.  I speak for a lot of us when I say that, don’t I? 

I can’t beat myself up for the money mistakes I’ve made.  All I can do is learn from them,  listen to my heart and follow my priorities.  I share my mistakes and financial numbers on this blog so that hopefully they can help someone else in some way.  Maybe you’ll feel better about your salary when you see how low mine is.  Maybe it will help you to see areas where you can cut out expenses you really don’t need.

Or, maybe you will feel sorry for me or disgusted at the thought that I could have thrown away such a good paying job.  I hope that last sentence isn’t the case.  I don’t want pity.  And if you are disgusted by it, maybe take a look inward and try to figure out why you are having that reaction.  My experience as a librarian at Harvard Law will always have value for me in so many ways.  I just no longer felt that it and Boston were right for me. (And seeing the winter blizzard and freezing cold that they have right now, well, I just shudder at the thought of experiencing that again!)

This post has been a lot longer than some others, so if you’ve stuck with me to the end, thanks for reading.  Please feel free to hit like, share, comment or even subscribe to my blog if the feeling so moves you!

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Plans, plans, plans!

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I hope everyone had a happy New Year and that it was a safe one, too! Me, I stayed home.  Too many drunks on the road, and I’ve noticed that in most places, prices go up for celebrations on that night.  You pay more for the same experience you could have had any other night.

All the talk about how cold it is on the east coast, and in the northeast particularly has me thinking that wherever I end up after ABQ, it will be warm.  As in all year warm.   I just can’t handle the cold anymore.  It makes me want to hibernate.

To be able to handle a move like that, I need to earn extra income, so that’s one thing I am working on.  I’m not saying the move is going to happen soon.  I really want to do my research and plan for things financially and otherwise, etc. I’ve been journalling a lot of my thoughts.  Writing always helps.

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Some of you know I do transcription.  The lady with whom I’ve worked for the past 13 months or so is shutting down her business in March (for a well deserved retirement, I might add), so it’s a good thing I have lined myself up to start doing transcription for a company that does a lot of law enforcement work.  Jail house interrogations, courtroom transcription, depositions, wire taps, police dash cams, etc.

The pay is decent, and they say that they always have a lot of work – one thing that’s recession proof is the law,  and therefore crime.  In fact, I’d be willing to bet that crime increases when the economy is bad.

I plan on setting up two separate bank accounts just for this work.  This morning, I applied for an EIN (employer identification number, not a social security number), so I will have one account into which my pay will be deposited, and another bank account into which I will transfer money for taxes, because all this work will be done as an independent contractor.

I’m excited to begin this work.  When it comes to legal stuff, I can be a total nerd, and I actually like listening to this sort of stuff! Having been a librarian for so many years, I love LOVE LOVE learning about new things every day.  I never want my brain to become stagnant.

My school starts up again in another week.  I can’t believe it’s already the spring semester! I’m taking courses in Animal Protection and Writing for Social Change, and I am super excited by both!

I have been reading up on how to grow this blog – the more I write for it, the more I want to write, and I really want to get information out there, both on topics I care about, and on those that you, the reader, find interesting.  I’m putting together an editorial calendar so I can be regular with my posting (I’m thinking Tuesdays and Fridays are good for posting), if not 3x per week.  I’m always looking for more bloggers and readers to connect with and follow, so I TRULY do appreciate all the comments everyone leaves.  I can’t stress this enough!

I hope you enjoy the illustrations – I’ve been coloring a lot lately and it helps to relax me, plus all the positive thoughts in my Good Vibes coloring book (which I got for just $2!!) help me to stay motivated.

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As always, thanks for reading!!

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If you need to shop online, I’d greatly appreciate it if you use my Amazon affiliate links or Ebates referral link! Every little bit helps, and it costs you nothing to do so. Thank you!

Arched Cabins: an option for a tiny home that won’t kill your budget

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Image courtesy of pixabay.com (and no, this isn’t an arched cabin!)

This post has changed a lot over the past few days, from discussing multiple options for “tiny” living such as park model RVs, converted sheds, etc., to just covering Arched Cabins.  I’ll discuss park model RVs in an upcoming post!  And just so you know, I’m not being compensated to talk about arched cabins – with my tiny blog, I would be surprised if they ever even find this post. 🙂

I prefer a studio type of layout to anywhere that I live, rather than a bedroom type situation. When you have a bedroom, inevitably one part of the house is going to get used a ton more than the other — at least that has been my experience.   For example, before my roommate moved in, I hardly ever  used the living room.  I have some shy cats who tend to stay in their “safe” part of the house and not venture beyond the bedroom, so if I want to spend time with them, I go in there and sit with them, giving and receiving cuddles. 🙂

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Finished cabin from Arched Cabin website

So, thinking along the studio-layout, I’ve come across an option which is a prefab home, but not the one you might traditionally think of.  A coworker of mine had a house fire a few years ago and on their property, they are now putting the finishing touches on something called an Arched Cabin. It’s delivered and put together for  you on your property but then you have to finish the interior on your own (or hire someone to help you with that.)  The company is based in Texas, and they ship to 48 US states.  (Their patent is only in the US so far.)  Transportation fees are $2/mile for the smaller models, $2.50/mile for the larger models.

With the arched cabins, there are many sizes to choose from, with the smallest kit costing about $1,000.   (I think my coworker is getting one of the biggest ones.)   If you’re wondering what comes with an Arched Cabin kit, they have a lot of answers on their FAQ page, including this important one:

“Our Arched Cabin kits include a build manual, floor plates, ribs, ridge beam, standard R13 insulation, Super Span Roof Paneling, trim and fasteners needed to assemble the cabin. The kit price does not include the foundation, installation, interior, end caps, delivery, or anything that is not included in the list added above. Our upgrade options include a color upgrade on the roofing panels (choose from 26 colors including Energy Star rated colors), a fireplace thimble, insulation upgrade to R25, a custom loft, foundation (choice of pier and steel Ibeam or block and beam), stairs leading to the loft, and a quote for rough-in labor and delivery.”

Now, if I were to go with one of these cabins, I would definitely go for the upgrade on insulation!  I would also likely go with a blue color (or the one that is Energy Star efficient).  And I have a feeling I would be happy with one of their 12′ foot cabins – the 12 x 12 would be awesome! You would have a 12 foot ceiling at the apex, more than enough room to build a loft, especially for a little short person like me who is just five feet tall!

If  you live in an area prone to high winds, they are able to withstand 150 mph winds. (I’m looking at you, Floridians!) And if you live in an area that gets a lot of snow, they can withstand 30 psf (pounds per square foot).  (Again, see their FAQ page for more info.)

 

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Photo of finished cabin from Arched Cabin website  – notice all the windows!!

I also know if I were to have an arched cabin, I would like a lot of sunlight. You can build them with big windows on the “end caps” and if you want skylights or windows in the walls/roof, you can build them but they can’t be more than 2 feet wide due to the ribbing that you see in the roofs.  I would also want a second door on the other end as a means of egress in case of a fire or some other problem.

I’ve talked with my coworker.  Her arched cabin will be 24 X 40 and they will have a loft.  They have lots of windows on the front side of the house and a sliding door in the back. They will have a patio on the backside of the building.  She told me that working with the Arched Cabins folks was very pleasant, and the actual erecting of the cabin on their property went really quick! It was the permitting and planning stages with Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties that created the most headaches.

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Photo of cabin on trailer from Arched Cabins website

My coworker mentioned that the company can now help you with having an arched cabin built on top of a trailer! So  you could have an Arched Cabin on Wheels or ACOW (I just made up that acronym, lol.)  But they can also be erected on top of a concrete slab if that’s what you want to use as a foundation.  The photo above is of their 12 X 8 size trailer.

 

When it comes to financing, the Arched Cabins website says that most people use a construction loan or a home equity line of credit to finance their project.  Getting a traditional mortgage might be a bit difficult due to most lenders wanting to find comparable properties, and well, you don’t see arched cabins every day.

So yes, there is a lot of things to think about when you’re considering building a tiny home.  Budget can be a main part of it, but you shouldn’t let that stop you from imagining what could be.  Do your research, spend hours on Pinterest (here’s my page), read through blog posts, look at design books.  And write down a list of what you really value, what you like to spend your time doing, etc.  Do you want to live off-grid?  Use a composting toilet?  Or be connected to all public utilities or have a well?  That can really help you properly plan out your indoor (and even some of your outdoor) spaces.

What do you think of the Arched Cabins?  Could you live in something like that?  Please add a comment below and let me know your thoughts! And as always, thanks for reading!

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If you need to shop online, I’d greatly appreciate it if you use my Amazon affiliate links or Ebates referral link! Every little bit helps, and it costs you nothing to do so.

 

 

 

 

What do I value and why do I save?

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image courtesy of pixabay.com

I feel like these two questions are interrelated (at least for me) so I’m going to try to tackle them in one post.  When I thought about my long term goals, these questions inevitably rose up in my mind.  And because I love that feeling of opening a journal and finding a blank page and then covering it in ink, I started writing a few lists.

What do I value? (not in any specific order)

  • independence and me-time (to create, to think, to just be content)
  • time in nature
  • exercise/physical fitness
  • eating food that is good for me
  • family
  • my animals (and all the other animals out there)
  • writing and being able to express myself creatively
  • reading

I just noticed something – money doesn’t show up in that list.   Hmmmmm

But now here is the list of why I save:

  • so I can buy a tiny house to provide shelter for myself and my furbabies
  • so I can buy some land on which to put my tiny house
  • to be able to write more often and eventually be able to be more of my own boss
  • so I never have to face my phobia of being homeless
  • so I won’t have to work for the rest of my life and can eventually retire

Yes, I have a phobia (or very strong fear) of being homeless.  And living in Albuquerque, there are reminders of this possibility at so many intersections, with people holding signs asking for money or food.   I think the fear goes back to my early childhood, when my parents got divorced and our income was so drastically reduced at the drop of a hat.  It’s a fear that came back full-force when I thought of leaving my husband back in 2010, and ultimately did.  I think it’s a fear I will always have somewhere in the back of my mind. But it’s a fear that also helps to reinforce to me what I do value and why I save money with every paycheck.

What do you value?  And why do you save?  Do  you see the two as being interrelated? 

Please drop me a line below and share your thoughts.  And if you know someone who might enjoy this post, please share it! Thanks, as always, for reading.

 

 

 

 

My long-term goals

Notice I didn’t call these resolutions!

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image courtesy of pixabay.com

I came to the end of a journal I have been writing in this year, and came across a page on  which I had written a list: my long term goals. I knew at the time I had written them down that it was necessary to get them on paper so I could keep myself focused at times when I might feel tempted to do something random or spend money on something that doesn’t align with those goals.

I thought I’d share my list with you.

  1. To be able to write and educate/inspire people.  To use writing as my job.
  2. To be able to live simply, but comfortably.  By comfortable, I mean being able to keep a roof over my head with enough income to be able to provide for my expenses and that of  my animals.
  3. To have a tiny house and a garden that I can tend to and grow a lot of my own food.
  4. To live close to the water, even if it’s a short drive.  While being close to the ocean would be amazing, I’m realistic enough to know my budget probably can’t support that, so being near a lake or some other large body of water would be fine with me.
  5. Have that tiny house be somewhat close to a decent size town.  Doesn’t have to have a million people in it like ABQ, but I don’t want to have to drive 75 miles to the nearest town from where I live.  Been there, done that.  It was so depressing to me and I felt so isolated.
  6. Save enough money for retirement so that I don’t have to work until I’m in my late 70s like my mom did (she just retired this past year.)
  7. Be able to save enough money so I can see my family more often.
  8. Be able to look back on my life and think “Yes, I did make this world a better place.”

Writing down this list made me think of items or experiences on which I place a lot of value, and prompted me to write down “why I save.”  I’ll share those with you in future posts so as to not clutter this one up.

Please drop me a line and let me know what are some of your long-term goals.  How do you want to go about achieving them?  (And as always, thanks for reading, and please share if you know someone who might enjoy or benefit from this post.)

 

Feeling Contentment (Without Spending a lot of Money)

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image courtesy of pixabay.com.  The ocean and nature, what could be better?!

This holiday season, if you shop for holiday gifts online, via Amazon, would you kindly use my Amazon Affiliate link?  It will cost you nothing extra but I will earn a small percentage of your purchase!  If you’re looking elsewhere, please use my Ebates referral link – I will get a small referral fee, and you can save money on something you were going to buy online already it can even be airline tickets or hotel reservations, etc.).  Please!! And thank you!!

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been getting daily emails from Mrs. Frugalwoods of the Frugalwoods blog.  Today’s email asked the following at the end:

When are you most content?  When you are spending money?  When you are spending less money?  Can you be content with fewer material possessions?

The first is an easy one for me to answer – I’m content when:

  • I am with my animals (The Herd) watching them all sleep peacefully, knowing they are safe and sound, and they will not go hungry, wanting for another meal.
  • I’m writing (blog post or otherwise) and I feel like I’m “in the flow.”
  • I’m reading a good book that I just can’t put down! (Check out my Helpful Books page for some of the most helpful to me.)
  • I’ve just finished an awesome run or workout at the gym. I don’t smell like a rose but who cares?!
  • I’m spending time in nature, feeling at peace and just “being.”
  • I’ve just finished up a transcription or other type of project, or accomplished all the goals I set out to complete on a certain day.
  • I help someone over the phone at work, and feel my inner librarian coming out, and they tell me I’ve been very helpful with all the information I’ve provided.
  • I check my retirement accounts and see that the balance is growing! It’s hard for me to save right now with such a low salary, but I’m trying to sock away 7% into a 401(k) and $95/paycheck for my Don’t Touch (emergency) fund, my insurance premiums and travel/tiny house funds.  (I just calculated that $95 savings amount to be roughly 13% of my after-tax salary!)

As you can see, I’m perfectly content to spend my time in activities that cost me very little, or nothing, and in some instances, actually earns me some money.   Also, I can definitely be content with fewer materials possessions! When I moved from my Boston apartment to Utah, to live in the fifth wheel travel trailer, my car held everything of value I owned (and my animals who I don’t own as they are living creatures and my family).  All except for one painting of a coastal setting, which I ultimately gave to my friend Michele back in Kanab.  I just had this feeling that she was the right person to receive it and her reaction to it confirmed that.

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You can only see two pet carriers in the photo, but there were five of them inside, plus Osito on my lap!

These days, I don’t buy much. When I do, it’s usually something I have thought about a lot, such as my first Christmas tree since 2014.  Someone told me that Hobby Lobby was selling all of their Christmas stuff at 50% off, so I bought a 4.5 foot tall tree and ornaments.  It makes me happy to look at it, and I feel like it makes the house more of a “home.”  When alone over the holidays, it can be very easy to feel down.  Believe me,  I know.  And it’s small enough that I can put it up in a tiny house later on!

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My first Christmas tree in three years. A whopping 4.5 feet tall.  My baby girl, Callie, approves!  Yes, one of the ornaments is a tiny, vintage travel trailer!

When do you feel most content? When shopping or indulging in retail therapy?  Or some other type of activity – exercise, etc.?  Tending to a hobby?  Reading a book?

Please drop me a line below and let me know! And as always, thanks for reading, and if you think someone else would like or benefit from reading this post, please share it!