What’s On Your Plate?

At A Glance – Do you find yourself over-extended or wanting to quit? What’s on your plate now and what will get added this fall? Sometimes we need to stop and ask what the Lord wants us to do today.

Have you ever found yourself overwhelmed with tasks because you said “Yes” too many times? If you’re like me, it’s not a matter of “Have I”, but more like “How often!” I find myself there too often!

The other side of that coin is to have something on your plate that has become hard or frustrating. Do you have an assignment or task you want to quit?

Been there, done that! I’m sure I’m not alone. You have probably found yourself in this position, too.

A New Season

We are entering a time of year when lots of activities start. Even though some of us are not tied to the school calendar anymore, many things still operate with this cadence. Start in September and run through the spring.

What are you being asked to do? To add to your plate?

My experience has been to pray about my choices beforehand and to let the Lord guide me. Multiple times I’ve had that nudge from the Holy Spirit that says “This is not for you.” Or I’ve felt the pure joy when I’m aligned with what the Lord wants and I can tell “This is right!”

I want to share a post from my good friend Brenda Koinis who writes at Smoother Sailing – How to’s From the Big Book. She shares some wisdom from Paul in the book of Colossians about this topic.

Think about this as you make your plans for this next season of serving.

What’s On Your Plate?

Raise your hand if you’ve:

  • Already read the book of Colossians several times.
  • ‘Done a Bible study on it?
  • Heard countless sermons where the text is taken from that popular letter of Paul’s?

Then join me in being somewhat astonished that there’s always something new to learn there. Here’s what I read today:

“Tell Archippus: ‘See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.’” (Colossians 4:17).

Now, I’m just guessing here, but since Paul saw fit to include that line in his letter, maybe Archippus was tempted to quit. Quit what? Who knows? But whatever it was, it was a task the Lord had given him, and one he was meant to complete. And, evidently, he needed a bit of solid encouragement and direction to do just that.

The Work You Have Received From The Lord 

What work have you received from the Lord? Ah, yes, we all take on tasks we shouldn’t, maybe out of pride or greed or simple American ambition-on-steroids. That’s a lesson for another day. I’m talking about work you know in your heart the Lord wants you to do. It might be a life’s work. It might be an afternoon’s calling. Some versions of Colossians 4:17 use the word “ministry” instead of “work” to describe what Archippus needs to keep doing. I believe all work the Lord calls us to do, whether lofty or lowly, is really our ministry. So, no matter what the task might be, don’t quit!

  • Is it slow going? Don’t quit. God’s timing seldom matches our own. Be patient. Trust. Worship as you wait.
  • Is it hard? Hard is okay. Hard just reminds us that we need Him. Ask the Lord to equip you.
  • Is it obvious that the outcome will be far different than what you expected? That’s okay, too. ‘Better His outcome than yours, even if that’s a tough truth to swallow.

Paul’s directions to Archippus don’t make it onto many Bible memory programs, but I hope you’ll work on committing his words to memory this week anyway. Let them soak into your soul so they can pop into your mind just when you need the encouragement to persist. Here they are one more time:

“Tell Archippus: ‘See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord’” (Colossians 4:17).

Here is the direct link to this article on Smoother Sailing.

Key Takeaway – Give any long-term request for your time thought and prayer before you say Yes. Be open to the small opportunities to serve and encourage.

Assignment – Evaluate what’s on your plate now and what is coming for the Fall. See what your “work” from the Lord is.

Coming Soon- How To Save Money On Your Groceries

My Recent Used Car Buying Experience

At A Glance – Most of us don’t purchase a vehicle that often. Here are some lessons I learned while buying a used car.

Show of hands…how many of you like the car buying experience? NOT ME! Oh, don’t get me wrong, I like the end result; a new-to-me vehicle. But I don’t like buying a car. I don’t enjoy all the shenanigans at the dealership. The haggling, the “I’ve got to go talk to my manager,” and the time it seems to waste.

But, there are times when we have to do it. Whether we like it or not.

I recently found myself needing to buy a car. I liked the car I had, but now I need a car that will tow a trailer, and my Highlander will not do it.

My previous car purchase was done at CarMax. It wasn’t too painful. We shopped the lot and found the Highlander we wanted. We traded our current vehicle and drove out. It took a few hours. Not too bad.

I knew this experience might be different. We had a specific need that not too many vehicles would meet. This meant probably going to a dealer.

The experience was actually rather pleasant. I learned a few things in the process and thought I would pass them on.

Lessons Learned From Buying A Used Car

2021 Covid Weirdness

As with other consumer products in 2021, used cars are overpriced.  It really wasn’t a good time to buy, but since I was trading one used car for another, I hoped all would even out.

Lesson Learned: My opinion is not to buy a product that has become overpriced because of Covid shortages. I had planned on a home remodel in 2021, but am waiting till lumber prices stabilize. New vehicles are part of these shortages, which is causing used cars to be overpriced. Be aware of the price of both your purchase and your trade-in.

Do Your Homework

We found the right vehicle for our purposes the first day we looked.  This was unexpected.  The right model, year, and price range was on the lot.  We made a deal that day.

Lesson learned:  We had already gone through our numbers.  We had determined how much we would probably get for our trade-in and how much we could spend in addition to that.  All the research we had done prepared us to make a decision quickly.

The Benefits Of Being FI

When the right vehicle was found so quickly, the process was easy because we were ready with the funds.  No financing needed! Being FI made this experience stress-free!

Lesson learned:  Being FI gave us the flexibility to act quickly and to make the decision that was right for us.  And, we didn’t have to spend a painful hour or two in the finance office! We were confident about our numbers and this deal met the criteria.

Look At Everything On The Car Before You Finalize The Deal

This was our biggest lesson. We looked at the car, but not in great detail.  We found a few things that needed to either be replaced or cleaned.  The dealership agreed to everything we asked for.  Including replacing all 4 tires and shampooing all the carpet a second time.

Lesson learned: We should have looked closer.  The dealership agreed to all our requests.  I’m sure there would have been a point where they said no, but we might have gotten more out of the deal. After we got home, we discovered other things we should have asked for.

Your Choice of Dealership Matters

Our personal experience over the years is that dealerships matter. Several years ago we bought a used Toyota Matrix from a Lexus dealership. We were treated well and given a very fair price for our trade-in.

Another experience did not go so well. After negotiating a price on purchase and trade-in, we decided not to buy. It wasn’t the right deal for us. When we were ready to leave, they suddenly “lost the keys” to our trade-in. We finally had to get nasty to get our keys back so we could leave!

Lesson Learned: If you are buying a vehicle from a dealership, sometimes a high-end brand will give you a better experience. But, no matter the brand, if you are not being treated well – they don’t need your money! If the deal is not good for you, be prepared to walk away.

Key Takeaway – Do your homework before you purchase any depreciating asset. Know what you want, what you can afford, and why you’re buying it!

Coming Soon – Saving Money on Groceries

Retirement Adventures – Spring 2021

At A Glance – Having an adventurous retirement is totally possible for you.  No matter how constrained your time and flexibility have been, your future can be whatever you make of it.

If retirement is in your future, you’re probably looking forward to a whole new life. You may have it all mapped out, or you may be wondering what it will look like.

I’d like to share a small slice of my retirement experiences from time to time. Maybe it will give you an idea of what is possible. Yours won’t look like mine, but we can all share ideas and learn from each other.

First, I want to get you thinking about what kinds of adventures are possible. Then, I’ll share a bit about my first adventurous retirement trip.

Why You Want Adventures In Retirement

1. It’s What You’ve Worked and Saved For

Retirement or even semi-retirement is what you’ve worked and saved for. Possibly even for decades. Previous generations typically worked until they couldn’t and then “took it easy” in the rocking chair on the porch. I don’t know about you, but that’s not what I picture for myself! I have more adventure in mind.

Roger Whitney from the podcast, “The Retirement Answer Man Show”, talks of retirement consisting of the Go-Go years, the Slow-Go years and the No-Go years. Right now I’m in my Go-Go years, and I want to make the most of them.

2. It Keeps Your Mind Sharp And Your Body Moving

One important aspect of retirement is to keep your mind sharp and your body moving. The fitness of our mind and body is important throughout our life, but especially as we age. It becomes our new “job.”

The process of planning a trip or adventure stretches your brain. This may sound a bit cheesy, but the task of planning your route, timing, lodging and excursions can take some brainpower! As you experience new sights, sounds, history or cultures, use your brain. Learn as much as you can. Take it all in.

Move your body with your experiences. Walk, cycle, hike, zip-line, 4-wheel, horseback ride, kayak or ski. Try something you’ve never done. Then shock your kids with your new skill!

3. A Chance To Do Things You Didn’t Have Time For Before

You may not have had time during your working career to have adventures. Even if your job includes travel, it’s hard to enjoy it when you have a schedule to meet.

The last 5 years of Stephen’s career required traveling to a city on the east coast every 2 weeks. Did he enjoy the rich history of the city or the beauty of the countryside? Not really.

Now that we are retired, we have time to visit new places. Last fall, we took a tour through the southern Colorado towns of Durango, Silverton and Ouray. There were trails to hike and waterfalls to see.

We also enjoyed one of our favorite incognito activities. We were at an outdoor restaurant admiring the view and observed a family of 4 nearby. Parents and 2 tweens. We noticed the family engaging in conversation. No cell phones and no arguments. How refreshing. We were so impressed, we anonymously paid their check.

What Kinds of Retirement Adventures Can You Have?

1. Enjoy Things You Already Love

Do you already have a hobby you love? Maybe you ski and have your own gear, or camp and have an RV. Maybe you enjoy meeting others with the same hobby or interest.

Do you have a skill? You can use it in a volunteer role. You could help build houses for Habitat or read to kids at your local elementary school. Deliver for Meals on Wheels or teach Sunday School.

Retirement gives you the opportunity to spend time on things you already love and do them bigger and better.

2. Try Something New

Having more time can give you the chance to do something entirely new. Learn a language or learn to horseback ride. You could try surfing or learn to knit. Heck, you can even learn to drive a race car! (Someone I know does that!)

Add some spice to life by trying new things. If you try it and you don’t like it – try something else!

3. Learn a New Skill

When most people think about what they want to do in retirement, travel is at the top of the list. There are so many places and experiences waiting for you out there!

Travel is big on my list, also – sights to see and cultures to experience.

But having adventures doesn’t always mean going to an exotic destination. You may want to work on skills. Either hone skills you already possess or try something new. You could try your hand at woodworking or learn to sew. Work on your handyman skills with the DIY projects around the house. Learn to be a gourmet cook or help maintain hiking trails in your area.

You can do anything that interests you and that fits your budget. A lot of adventurous choices don’t cost anything but your time and determination.

4. Include Your Spouse

Include your spouse in your thought process. Talk to them about what you are dreaming of and ask them the same thing. Your adventures can be double the fun when done together.

But keep in mind you don’t have to do everything together.

It’s healthy to have your own activities and interests. Stephen and I do most hobbies together. We snow ski, sail and drive our racecars together, but I also enjoy quilting and Ladies Bible Study. He likes to do a little woodworking and work in the garage on the cars.

Our First Retirement Trip

I have always wanted to take at a vacation that had extra time built in. The kind where you could stop at a random site and explore without being in a rush. You know, that sign that says Biggest Ball of String.

My life has rarely afforded those kinds of opportunities. But now I’m finally here. My first chance for a relaxed and adventurous vacation. It’s my BBOS Tour of 2021. (Big Ball of String)

  • 20 days
  • 4,500 miles
  • 1 State Park
  • 3 National Parks
  • 2 National Monuments
  • 1 National Recreation Area
  • 45 Texas friends/family/neighbors visited
  • 1 wedding

Stephen and I started with a 10 day swing through Texas where we used to live. We spent all 10 days visiting family and friends. Then we headed to Utah for a wedding. After the wedding, we were free to do what we wanted when we wanted.

We visited Snow Canyon State Park and three National Parks – Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Capitol Reef National Parks. We also drove through Grand Staircase-Escalante and Vermilion Cliffs National Monuments and Glen Canyon Dam Recreation Area.

Each was beautiful and so different. I’ll give you just a taste of each major park.

Snow Canyon State Park

This park is located 10 miles NW of St. George in southwestern Utah. It is a small park with several hikes and a few picnic areas. There are ribbons of volcanic rock running through the area. The volcanic rock created a “tube” as it flowed and cooled. Most of the tube has collapsed, but there are a couple of areas where you can climb down into the tube.

Zion National Park

Zion is 47 miles NE of St. George, Utah. Layers of limestone, mudstone, sand and shale create colorful layers in sheer cliff faces above the Virgin River. In Zion, you drive through the canyon floor and your view is up.

North of Zion, rain from the 11,000 ft. high Colorado Plateau slices Zion’s soft layers and pushes debris off the southern edge of the plateau. This edge steps down in a series of cliffs creating the Grand Staircase. Above Zion, topping the staircase is Bryce Canyon. Below Zion is Grand Canyon, the lowest rung of the staircase where 90% of the Colorado Plateau waters run.

We hiked Angel’s Landing which is the most popular hike in the park. Angel’s Landing is a 5 mile round trip with about 1,500 ft of elevation gain, including a section with 21 switchbacks. It is a strenuous hike, but totally worth it. I am in good physical shape, but I did have to stop many times to “admire the view.”

Angel’s Landing is known for the narrow section at the very top. The final half-mile is traversed with the aid of chains bolted into the rock. It’s not for the faint of heart or those with a fear of heights. I’m told it’s worth it – I did NOT see it firsthand! I stopped at Scouts Lookout right before the last narrow section. It provides great views, plenty of flat areas to stop and have a snack and restrooms.

The small town of Springdale is located at the park’s southern entrance. There are many towns in the general area large enough to have regular grocery stores and restaurants. The lodging was a mix of hotels, motels and small inns. We stayed in a hotel in Hurricane, Utah with free breakfast, a pool and on-site laundry.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Next, we went to Bryce Canyon, and the drive out the north side of Zion on the way to Bryce is beautiful. Bryce is only about 150 miles NE of Zion but looks totally different. Unlike Zion, here you are on top of the canyon looking down. The main road through Bryce follows the length of the canyon. There are several lookouts where you can stop and view the canyon and the unusual formations called Hoodoos. These are tall thin spires of soft rock topped with harder rock. There are hoodoos on every continent, but Bryce has the largest concentration found anywhere on Earth. The hoodoos often create windows, doorways and arches.

There are trails that take you down into the canyon and give you a different view than the one from above. If you visit here, I would recommend at least one of these hikes.

There is not much of a town around Bryce Canyon. We stayed in Tropic, Utah. Instead of hotels and motels, most of the lodging is small cabins. Ours was simple but clean. There are a few restaurants in the area and a small grocery store. Our accommodations did not include breakfast, so we bought cereal, milk, plastic cups and spoons for our breakfast. We spent about $10 and fed 4 people for 2 mornings.

Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef was a bonus on our trip. We had a free day, looked at the map and decided a drive to Capitol Reef was the plan. I had never heard of this park and didn’t know anything about it. The drive from Bryce to Capitol Reef went through some widely varied scenery from painted desert to mountain forests of evergreens and Aspens. We stopped every time something looked interesting. Capitol Reef is located in south-central Utah.

Upon arriving at Capitol Reed, we stopped at the Visitor’s Center, picked up the map and some tips about where to go and drove the length of the park. We got out at a few interesting lookouts and then headed back to our cabin. It was a great was to spend a day.

Tips We Learned

Here are a few tips we learned. First, plan everything you can, but be flexible. We enjoyed our spur-of-the-moment stops as much as the “big things”. Like the day we drove by a German Bakery and decided that baked goods would be a good lunch!

In the planning ahead department, our research saved us from making a big mistake at Zion. We learned the only way into most of the park is by shuttle and you must purchase your ticket online ahead of time. These were very hard to get. We tried to buy tickets for several days before getting them. Luckily, our advance planning made us aware of this stipulation.

We also learned to check the map for other local options. Our day in the state park was not planned. We had a free day because of not getting the shuttle tickets for Zion. We looked for another option for hiking and found the state park.

Here’s a tip for your wallet. We used our Interagency Lifetime Senior Pass (National Parks Pass) for park entrance. Currently, it cost $80, and is good for all National Parks and a variety of museums and other attractions. Always ask before you enter a park. We have been given free or reduced admittance to parks that were not listed anywhere, so we’ve learned to always ask. This pass is good for the pass holder’s lifetime and admits the carload of people. The entrance fees for the 3 national parks we visited would have been $90. Any US citizen 62 or over can purchase the pass and purchase can be made at any park entrance gate.

General Cost Breakdown

Lodging *$704
Meals $640
State Park Entrance$10
Grand Total$1,947
Per Day Cost$97.35
Average steps/day in the parks15,030
* 12 nights w/friends & family, 1 night points, 6 nights paid

Key Takeaway – Having an adventurous retirement is totally possible for you. No matter how constrained your time and flexibility have been, your future can be whatever you make of it.

Assignment – Think about what you want your retirement to look like. Do you want to travel, learn a new skill, fine-tune your current hobby or just spend time with the grandkids? Give yourself permission to dream and write down your thoughts. If you’re married, do this with your spouse.

Coming Soon – Saving Money!

I would love for you to leave a comment about what kinds of adventures you’d like to have in retirement.

Being Grateful In The Midst Of The Storm And Don’t Miss Special Moments

At A Glance – Today’s post is a guest post from a dear friend. She reminds us gratitude is an attitude we should practice often. Our circumstances don’t determine our joy.

I Don’t Always Score High On The Gratitude Scale

We all know that an attitude of gratitude is something we should practice. It has far-reaching effects. Effects on our mental state for sure, but even on our physical well-being.

When I read my own words in the turquoise box above, I feel some imposter syndrome. Gratitude is not always my go-to state. I can, however, be motivated to have a better attitude with a little help from my friends.

Lessons From My Texas Friends

Most of my life was spent in Texas, so I still have many friends there who dealt with the Big Freeze of 2021. As temperatures dropped and water and heat became scarce, my prayers and concern increased.

I called and checked on many who were dealing with all sorts of issues. Thankfully, most were doing well. We laughed at how this was a “hurricane in reverse”.

Joy Comes From Our Choices, Not Our Circumstances

A special friend of mine, Brenda K., writes her own blog filled with practical instructions and encouragements from scripture. Her blog is called Smoother Sailing. How to’s from the Big Book. You can find her at smoothersailing.wordpress.com.

Her latest post reminded me about being grateful in the midst of the storm. And also, about not letting special moments go unnoticed. She writes about her experiences with neighbors and family. I was struck by her positive and cheerful words of how her family dealt with the hardships. Notice her description of having no power and heat!

It had me thinking…”Would I have viewed this scenario with such grace?” Probably not. But I was grateful for the reminder that our attitude is our choice. Our joy is not determined by our circumstances.

Guest Post From Smoother Sailing

I have reposted Brenda’s post from February 24, 2021. Enjoy.

The Thaw, Or Emergency Preparedness

Last week, a good friend urged me to write about the Great Texas Freeze. Now, though, as I look out at our sunny skies, I realize my topic of choice is actually The Thaw.

We had inches and inches of beautiful snow. It’s gone now. Did I gaze often enough, enjoy deeply enough, a sight I might never see again?

We had 36 electricity-free hours. In our house, the temperature dropped and the population rose as neighbors and loved ones without fireplaces gathered around ours. My living room is warm now, and empty. I hope I focused enough, valued deeply enough the chance to be close to those who graced our home.

Our neighborhood nearly ran out of propane, but didn’t because of a radical effort to conserve. We have plenty now, and I’ll never look at turning on our heat the same way again. Was I at peace enough through the uncertainty? ‘Not so sure,

My grocery order was cancelled as shelves emptied at the local HEB, yet we never ran out of fresh food. When I watched my refrigerator become emptier by the day, I toggled between the delight of seeing how we always had what we needed, and wondering if we’d be eating dry cereal and canned beans for a while. But as soon as stores re-opened, neighbors resupplied me when I didn’t even ask.

Then, of course, there was the week-long threat of frozen pipes. Some did. Ours didn’t. We own property in another city now, and there wasn’t any way at all to check on it until the roads cleared. It was fine. Most of the time, so was I.

When the thaw was complete and our lives back to normal, I had plenty of praising to do. I also found myself wondering how much goodness I missed while forgetting lessons I teach.

How much did I practice the verbs of these verses:

  • Cast your cares on Him.
  • Let not your heart be troubled.
  • Rejoice always.
  • Trust in the Lord.

When I did those things, the freeze and the resulting thaw brought joy to my heart. When I let the maybe’s and might’s and what if’s assail me, forgetting to bat them away with the Word of God, then my smile faded and my energy waned.

We are in The Thaw! I am thankful. A freeze like the one barely over may not ever come again. But something else will—to you and to me.  Get ready!

  • Sure, store a bit of extra food and water and medicine and paper goods.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full.
  • But, most importantly, keep practicing these verbs of the Bible: Cast. Let not. Rejoice. Trust.

Then you’ll be ready for anything.

Brenda Koinis


If you enjoyed Brenda’s words, check out her other posts at Smoother Sailing. If you have your own example of special moments you have savored, share them in the comment sections below.

Key Takeaway – Practice gratitude often and don’t miss the little moments.

Coming Soon – What is Compound Interest and How Does It Work

Looking Back And Looking Forward – 2020

2020…One of the weirdest years ever. Has it been a black swan or a golden eagle? Some of us have been inconvenienced, some have been devastated. It’s been different thing to different people, but one thing we can all count on. It’s been Unpredictable!

I’d like to take a look back at some things I’ve experienced and look forward to what our life could look like next year. Come take a short journey with me through 2020.

Looking Back

My Big Event for 2020 – My Mom’s Death

On October 24, 2020, my Mom went home to be with her Jesus. This last year has been especially hard for her and me. She was 99 when she passed. Her health had been good till about mid-2018. Over the last 12 months dementia had taken hold, and then the quarantine amplified the dementia. She lived in an Assisted Living facility in another state and I was her sole caregiver and decision-maker outside of the facility staff. Most days I would talk to her 3-4 times a day. Some days she could carry on a normal conversation, and some days she didn’t know where she was. One bright spot was she continued to know who I was. She just couldn’t make sense of what was going on around her.

I will miss my Mom terrible, but Praise God the strain on her and me is over. She is now with her Savior and her heavenly family enjoying God’s perfect love for eternity.

Not Seeing Family

Not seeing family has been hard, but thank God for Zoom! Today’s technology has made the quarantining a little more palatable. I think we all felt a little relief this summer as things opened up slightly. Depending on your area of the country, your restrictions may have loosened a lot.

One thing I found interesting was how many people still went camping/fishing this past summer. I live near a highway that folks travel to go to the mountains. This past summer the road was full of RVs and campers. I hope you had a chance to get out and enjoy nature, also.

Stephen and I have even considered joining the ranks of RV’ers, but I have heard in parts of the country RVs were hard to come by. Because this was a way to get out and take your “clean home” with you, folks were snapping them up like hotcakes! Maybe there will be a good used market in a year or two!

Flexibility And Introspection

Did you find you had time for things you didn’t before? This is one area where I’m thankful for the changes to our lives. How many times have you thought, “If only I could slow down!” Did you find you had extra time to think, plan, do projects, make a phone call or read?

Or did the “new norm” strip you of all these opportunities as you tried to work and homeschool all at once? Those caught in this situation have probably learned a whole new level of planning and flexibility.

What Was The Deal With Toilet Paper!?!

What WAS the deal with toilet paper? I know, I’ve heard all the philosophical answers for this one, but I just want to go on record and say I DON’T GET IT!!

What I really won’t get is if it happens again!

How Did Your Money Do?

2020 was a roller coaster year for the stock market and our investments. (Just to review, Stephen and I only have paper investments, i.e. Stocks and Bonds. We don’t do real estate or side hustles.) March made us think a disaster was on the horizon and the next recession was imminent. Then the markets rebounded in record time.

Personally, our accounts had rebounded by the end of July. As of the first week in December, our net worth is higher than it’s ever been.

This cannot be said often enough…it’s not timing the market, but TIME IN the market that matters. After reading “The Simple Path to Wealth” in 2017, we moved our investments into VTSAX and VBTLX . We started our drawdown for retirement in about April 2019. Our portfolio was worth more at the end of 2019 than at the beginning. Even though we are drawing down. 2020 will be the same. Will this always happen? NO. Can we ride it out when it doesn’t? Absolutely.

2020 was hard on our emotions concerning our money, but it also gave us some incredible short-term opportunities. The important thing is that we learn from it. Please evaluate your financial situation today. What did you do well? What could you have done better? We can’t be perfect, but we can learn.

Looking Forward

Locking Down Again

I think we’re all weary of the quarantines and the ever-changing landscape of our lives. I know I am. We’ve probably been expecting our world to lock down again in the Fall, but I’ve been surprised at myself. I am more unhappy about it than I want to be. I guess a little freedom felt so good I didn’t want to have it wrangled back again.

This is an area I’m having to work on my own gratefulness. I know an attitude of gratitude is the best antidote for unhappiness and frustration. How has this been for you. Are you finding it hard to be content? I think I’m struggling with this happening during the holidays when I expected to be able to see family. Again, thank God for Zoom!

More Time

OK, enough with the pity party. The bright side of being locked down again is more time. I am also about to experience having more time because my caregiving job has ended. This will give me a freedom I’ve not ever experienced. Caring for my mom started before my kids left home, so it’s always been part of who I am.

I have to admit, I’m a little afraid of the same issues new retirees face. Like finding myself. Deciding what lights me up. I have no lack of passion projects, but now I will be making my own decisions about my time rather than reacting to each day’s emergencies. How will I decide where to spend my most precious resource – my time? It’s going to be a journey and I will try to keep you up to date on my progress.

One huge hope of mine is to spend more time on Stated At 50! I’ve not been able to post consistently to the blog or really care for my Facebook group. I’m excited and scared at the same time. Excited to be more consistent and more attentive. Scared because I’m still SO new to blogging and the technology. I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface, but I think I’m up for the challenge. I always want to have the attitude of being a life-long learner.

This means you will be coming along this ride with me. I just ask for your patience and your support. If you see something that could be improved, tell me. If you want to hear about a particular topic, let me know. This blog is for YOU. You are my focus.

Spend The Mental Energy To Lock In Goals

The beginning of a new year always seems to be a good time for self-evaluation and goal setting. Did you notice I did not use the word resolutions? I think New Year’s Resolutions get a bad rap, but you can call them whatever your like. The point is to evaluate, ponder, and find those areas where you can get 1% better. Brad and Jonathan on ChooseFI talk frequently about talent stacking and becoming 1% better. If you improve by just 1% each week or month, think about the improvement over one year.

This idea relates to any area of your life. Your finances for sure, but what about your health? Or relationships or skills? Any area you would like to improve is possible. Just take the time to pay attention (My Mantra!) and honestly evaluate what you’d like to improve or what new goal you’d like to work on. As I said earlier, I’ll be working on learning more about blogging and improving my website.

Pray About Being More Generous Next Year

Personally, one area I would like to refine is my generosity. This is very important to Stephen and me. There are places where the opportunity is easy – sponsor a family for Christmas, give to the food bank or pregnancy center, or help a missionary. But lately, I’ve been feeling restless, like there is more I should be doing. Maybe not even with my money, but with my time and energy. I’m going to be praying about this one for sure. How about you? Does your generosity muscle need a little strengthening? One of my favorite sayings is “Our life moves at the speed of our generosity.” 2020 has been weird, but our generosity can’t be quarantined!

Refine Your Budget

Have you seen areas that may need to be tweaked or even changed all together? My own budget is changing because of Medicare. Stephen started in May and I will join the ranks of 65 and over in February. This has been an interesting challenge to figure out what to do with Medicare. (I will write an article in the future to let you know what we learned.) In our case, our monthly budget has decreased because of the lower health care premiums!

Even beyond budgeting, there may be items in your financial plan that need attention. Do you need to make a contribution to an IRA? Have you maxed out your HSA if you have one? Can you do any ROTH laddering? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, have no fear. I didn’t either a few short years ago. I’m not going to explain each one at this time – I’ll talk about them in another post, but there are lots of resources available. Again, ChooseFI’s podcast and website along with others have great resource material.

Be aware that each of these items, along with many others, have tax implications. BE SURE you understand the tax implications of what you do and when you do it. Some moves need to be made by Dec. 31st and some April 15th. Also, the tax rules for 2020 are different because of COVID. Some deadlines have changed and some items, like RMD’s are not due at all this year. Also, 2020 is giving us an “above the line” $300 charitable giving deduction. This means you can deduct $300 of charitable giving without having to itemize. Please consult a tax specialist for your situation with any of the items mentioned above.

Your Overall Financial Plan

Since the end of the year is a great time for evaluation, look at your financial plan. If you don’t have one, this is a good time to start building one. The time to put together your plan is not when the world is falling apart and the market is tanking. You need to write out a plan for your future finances when you are level-headed and not in a panic.

We’ve seen huge changes this year in a short period. The markets have dropped like a rock and then rebounded. The pandemic may have changed your mind about your risk tolerance. It may have given you an opportunity for a new income stream. No matter where you are today, look back and learn from where you’ve been.

No one could have seen 2020 coming. Now that it has, use it to make sure you are ready for the next “unexpected event”

Wrapping It Up

I hope to journey down this twisting road of life with you – talking about God, money and stuff! Let me know what you think. How are you coping? What are your goals for 2021? What is your family doing for Christmas?

It’s beginning to look a lot like…a Zoom Christmas!

I pray for you always and wish you a Merry Christmas and Blessed New Year.

Key Takeaway – Do your own version of looking back and looking forward. Write down goals and things you learned

Assignment – Answer this question in the comments below. What is one thing you learned about yourself in 2020?

Coming Soon – I’ll still be writing about Credit Cards. Watch your inbox!

…Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:9