As 2019 comes to a close

It has been a year of highs and lows.

Lots of things were awful with B’s diagnosis and then being transfusion dependent. Lots of chemo visits weekly. But in spite of that, there have some great things. His brother was a 10/10 match for the BMT and that was amazing.

Being at UCD med center in the BMT unit for a month was hard, very hard, but it all went way better than expected. Staying at the Kiwanis in our friends RV was also great and made the whole experience of having to be there almost 3 weeks delightful. Being able to be just minutes from the clinic made it all worth it.

Recovery and gaining strength and energy back has been slow but sure. B is doing amazing and he is almost 7 months post-transplant.

There has been no major graft vs host although he must remain vigilant as that can happen even down the road.  Now he is tapering off immunosuppressants and that means less prescriptions. He will still need his vaccinations sometime next year.

So the year really was a mixed bag of emotions but overall I feel very positive about it. We did fine financially with the extra GoFund Me and the SDI. This week will be his last SDI and I am totally grateful to have had NOT to worry about money. After my transplant in 2006 and that following year, we were in serious,serious debt and it was awful. There were no GoFundME things or networks to receive financial help. I did have 2 friends that were very generous and that was a blessing.

At the end of this year, I feel grateful for my health and my children’s health. Both of my children have excellent jobs that they earned this year.

B will also officially retire as going back to full time just isn’t going to work for him. I will miss the paychecks and being able to travel with him, but honestly, he is 69 and with everything that has happened, life is just too short to go back to a job even if it’s only for another year. Who knows what will happen and he has this chance to retire. Social Security will be tough but hey, so what! We have struggled before and made it and if we can only do so much then so be it. Actually, I’m just grateful we have the little we will have coming in as it will cover our basics.

WE didn’t do any traveling and that was okay. We are planning something once a month for  2020. Next month we are planning an overnight to Chico where B has a free room at one of the nicer hotels downtown. We are planning to have dinner at a place I’ve wanted to go forever called the Red Tavern. I can’t remember where I read about it over 5 years ago, but it’s supposed to one of the best restaurants around.

House wise, we didn’t do anything major except outside and tree removal.  We did replace two windows and they look great. Next year we will replace a few more windows in the bathroom and kitchen and my daughter’s room as well. Next year, we hope to work on the kitchen and do a minor remodel( mostly the sink and counter as it is 25 years old this summer and the sink connections are pretty rusty.

So life keeps on keeping on and it really is a wonderful life.

Things to think about for 2020

I don’t do goals so much anymore and I try to avoid putting myself in the position of expectation on myself. I do like lists of things that I would like to do or things that need to be done.

I like Flylady as it gives me a focus on weekly chores.  And I like grocery lists and menus. I also like budgeting and do that daily and weekly and monthly. I also have annual bills tallied. ( This might be the challenging area once were on SS solely).

Now that SDI is ending money will be different.  I have saved as much as I felt I could but there were some big expenses in 2019. We had over $6000 in medical bills. The trees were almost $5000. Plus travel and other expenses during B’s transplant. We were very blessed to have the GoFundMe account which covered Kiwanis’ house for 3 weeks and other expenses.

Overall, financially, 2019 was good. We didn’t rack up any CC debt related to medical bills or anything related to the transplant. I used CC to pay things but was able to pay in a timely manner.

In 2020 we will need to be ultra frugal as there won’t be bonuses, or extra money coming in. Honestly, I ‘m not sure how it will play out but it will one way or the other.

We’d still like to take down the big tree in the back of the house and that will be upwards of $5,000 as it will need a big crane. the other big thing will be, do we want to redo the bathroom so it is ‘age ‘friendly. We plan on staying here so a walk-in shower seems prudent.

I’m also figuring that I’ll be starting Velcade sometime in the next 6 months so that’s weekly trips to Sacramento. Lots to think about.

Frugal Friday

No, not really. Although we haven’t been spending money carelessly. Our grocery budget is our biggest variable expense. I budget $200 a week for everything including pet supplies, non-food items, wine, food and misc. That seems to be a good amount for us.

But when you factor in Costco trips like in August, I definitely go over.  The Costco trips are often items that last a few months if not more. I’ve tried separating out non-food and then I get all confused and lose track of what was what so if I just lump it all together it works better for me.

For August I’m trying out $125 a week and I’ll see how that goes.

We aren’t going on any trips this year due to the medical stuff so there are no expenses there.

We also can’t eat out as B can’t have restaurant food yet. Although I have gotten him In an Out french fries and a shake as he needs to gain back about 20lbs. So we don’t really have an eating out budget. I have gotten a pizza or two so there’s that.

We also don’t have any big projects around the house but there are a few things. We absolutely need to fix our step coming out the door. It is awkward and has two levels so he and our daughter will put down a new concrete step that covers both and goes out farther. We wanted to build a deck out level from the front door and then a step-down but a deck would probably run us $3-5,000. So not now.

We’re on the fence about getting more trees down. I think we will call and see about at least 2 and get an estimate. We still have too many trees that are very big around the house.  But that too is a very expensive project.

We still have co-pays on the medical side too and the GFM is being used for that but it’s getting low.   The $6,000 from the beginning of the year is almost paid off. The transplant co-pays haven’t even shown up yet. Yikes, that could be scary.

Well, all in all, we’re doing okay.

Frugal Friday on Saturday

This week was okay budget wise.

We did go to Trader Joes and I haven’t decided whether to make that part of my May grocery bill or just call it for April which now sits @800. This includes all food, non-food, cat food, and alcohol( which is just wine for me as B is not drinking at all with his treatments.)

I’m leaning just calling it for April and just moving forward.  The only extra bills were the medical co-pays. One was for $500 and the other $350.  That’s just medical and part of how we’ve budgeted the GFM money.  All other bills are done and the budget is set for May.

We’ve sent in the long term disability forms but really don’t know how they would calculate that.  It would be nice but I’m still not sure even how that works.

I went to Target and got a fan since now the weather is getting warmer. I also picked up cat food and some cloth napkins we needed.

We did go to Home Depot for more garden supplies but I consider that seasonal expenses especially for the garden which will produce veggies. That was @ $130.

Tomorrow is a gym day and B needs platelets. So I’ll go and then wait at Starbucks for him as it usually is a shorter infusion.

Dinner is Greek Chicken Souvlaki.

 

Five on Friday or more…

It’s been a busy week. The snow and weather have been a PITA, but we got thru. Yesterday morning there was ice snow on the ground and in the trees. It must have been like freezing rain in the early morning. The roads were a little scary.

We did recycle this week, and we went to Harbor Freight in Roseville to get a car canopy thing. This last week the Santa Fe has been iced over every morning and taken forever to defrost. So we will put that up over the weekend.

I had my labs this week and haven’t heard what the results are. I’ll probably call later if I don hear.  Usually, my doctor is really good about that but sometimes it slips thru his radar.  I go to Sacramento to see him next week.

I’ve used the instant pot daily and I am really enjoying it. I made pinto beans( which turned out great), a butter chicken, rice again and hardboiled eggs.  I really like that it is quiet and the flavors are pretty impressive. Oh, yeah, I made minestrone soup that was excellent.

Because of 2 trips to Costco, I’ve gone over our food budget but I’m just chalking it up to whatever as some of the stuff was the Orgain for B which was pricey. We bought 2 of them, plus coconut waters and nuts to help him add on calories to gain weight.  So, I’m just letting it go instead of obsessing about it. ( which I probably will do anyway)…

B has labs tomorrow and infusion on Sunday.  He will need platelets and probably blood but the blood has been 14 days so that’s an improvement. But honestly, it needs to be better.

I have finally have figured out Medicare to a point. I still need to call the insurance company and ask a few questions but I have the basics figured out so I feel good about switching by June. B’s insurance stuff gets re-upped in June so I will consider that (May 31) as the last day and Medicare to start June 1st. I’m a little nervous about it but it’s going to have to happen sooner or later.

Well, I’m off to town to do some errands.

 

Quick update:

just saw my labs and my kappa light chains went up 4 points( bad) to 19.4 which is the borderline for high. So there it is I’m at the high normal range but at least not out of it.

Lambda went to 13. 6 which is in the normal range, high is 26.5

the ratio went to 1.43 high normal is 1.65 so that’s still below.

Well, I’m somewhat dismayed but heck it’s still a long way off till it would be back on treatment.

 

some added photos

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Almost done!

 

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A view from the sink!!

I think for now it’s done in the kitchen. I thought about some kinda of temporary back splash. I may go into HOme Depot and see what they have. I’ve seen on Pinterest some tile that is peel and go. Not sure if Home Depot has that but I might check.

Today is Friday.

Frugal Friday or this week? Yes and no. I haven’t bought too many groceries, just milk and cream. I did spend $100 at Target but that included cat food at $15 and some frozen Amy’s enchiladas on sale.  Most of it was the bins.

I need to get gas in the VW and I’m going to go to the local bakery and get day old bagels if they have any. They’re organic and go quick. So we’ll see. Plus I need to get some multi vitamins at Grocery Outlet.

Other than that I have a load of laundry to do and just tidying up the house.

I’m working on the budget for November and it’s in good shape. I’m paying extra on our second and I’m going to make an extra car payment if I can pull it off.

Frugal Friday

This has been a good week without a lot of unnecessary spending. The budget is in good shape for now.

We did our big shop at Costco on Monday so we were set for the week and even into next week. I had bought lots of lunch things so both my adult children would not spend money on food out. This is usually my son but he’s been absolutely great about taking stuff to work and school. He can easily spend $20 a day since he’s gone from 7:30am- 11pm. But taking 2 sandwiches or rice and chicken helps a great deal.

Last week I paid the 6 month Allstate bill so that was pricey but at least it’s done. B got a great bonus (relative to us) so we could pay it all at once. Then I put some in savings too. The first of the month bills are ready to roll out. That’s our mortgage, 2nd, internet, PGE, and the car payment. I’m really close to putting a large payment on the car loan but not yet.  I want to finish off the cc that we put our daughters Honda repair on. She is paying this back but we put the amount on our card.  So by the end of October, I will finish that.

I haven’t been to the store except we needed some half and half.

Tonight we are having takeout pizza so that will come out of dining out money. We don’t do this often, maybe once a month so I’m okay with that. Plus there’s always leftovers for lunch the next day.

I just started the Tartine Sourdough leaven to make bread this weekend. I’ve been just making sandwich bread but I’ll go ahead with the boule this weekend. The Tartine recipe takes a few days so by Sunday it should be ready to go.

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It looks just like fall outside. The yellow colors of Northern California are starting.  We don’t get the New England colors but there are wonderful golden colors and some orange. We have a Japanese maple in the yard and that turns red so it’s very pretty.

Today I’m just tidying up things and putting more stuff away for fall. I’m moving the geraniums to the greenhouse. I have to decide if I want them in the sunroom where they were last year. It’s nice in there for them but they do take up a  lot of room. I need to get chicken food but I think I’ll let B get that tomorrow. They can make it on the other seeds they have for a day. All the chickens are molting so they aren’t really laying eggs except one or two.

I think I will put out my vintage Halloween stuff today too!

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I’d love to find more but that would just be adding to the amount I already have. We put up the orange lights outside and I just love the glow they give this time of year.