Won't you take me to Slumpyville? What's Slumpyville? It's that period after the holidays when you are back to a full work week, your co-workers (and you) are in a pissed off mood, you look with desperation at your 401K account balance, your Social Security balance (and the amount of time left to work and what your monthly payout would be if you retire at 62 or 67), and the PTO calendar.
After having a full week off for Christmas and a partial week off for New Years, it's hard to be jerked out of my sleep coma at 5:45am, to trek the 50 mins to work across two counties, to hear the annoying sounds of people around me that I had almost forgotten about during my blissful time off, and then commute home another hour. It's routine, it's monotonous, it's Slumpyville.
During my time off from work I had some time to think about our future. This isn't a reflection post or a New Year's resolution thing. It may be prompted by the fact that I'm turning 43 next week. But most likely my Jack Handy deep thoughts are attributable to seeing my maternal grandparents and how they are living in their mid 80s. I don't think they are financially secure (they aren't in dire straights and eating cat food but could be much more secure than they currently are) and they sure as heck aren't digging each other's company in their golden years. They've gone rogue, I tell ya. And over Christmas break I experienced first hand Grandma's memory decline.
Up until the grand'rents (that's short for "grandparents" for all you non-hipsters) decided to take a break from each other, I was on the track of paying off my debt a little bit at a time. No house disaster (upstairs AC handler flooded our spare bedroom carpet on New Year's day - Bono lied - all was not quiet on New Year's day!) was cause for concern for me to make any extra effort. I was content to just keep going at a snail's pace. Nothing has really ever moved me to get out of a habit I had created so long ago. And from observation and conversation, it seems my grandfather and I might actually share the same unfortunate views on spending, money, and living beyond our means. Although my life didn't flash before my eyes, I saw through my grandparents what my life could become if I keep on the same path.
So I sat down with my monthly financial spreadsheet and did some real digging as to what I could reasonably tackle. I've determined paying off the smallest credit card balance would bring me greater victory at a much quicker rate than trying to tackle it all at once or the cards with the highest balance. And it has!
I went after the outstanding medical bills first (I was hospitalized in Sept. for a kidney stone and had a bout of eczema in June where I had two biopsies done on my left arm). I also managed to pay off two store credit cards. In mid-Jan, I'll be done with another two. I even managed to find a way to start saving for the house disaster things (the AC is working for now - but we know we need a new unit).
And after draining my 401K account in 2012 for the CT and FL houses, plus the move back to FL, I've been steadily putting money away for retirement and I'm getting a healthy balance once again. This will also be the first tax year where neither one of us has changed jobs, moved, taken a distribution, etc. Should be smooth sailing when filing taxes this year.
In 2014, I stepped away from my blog for about 5 months. It was liberating. I understand how Young House Love feels now. I'm actually considering doing this again. Actually I'm considering reinventing my blog into a DIY/home improvement blog. I've never monetized my blog. That's not why I do this. But for those of us that don't reap the benefit of sponsors, partners, collaborations, etc., it can be tough on our wallets to stay current and relevant. And you all know that my focus has definitely shifted from fashion to home improvements/DIY. Honestly, if I had the education and experience in Interior Design, that's what I would be doing full time. That's what really speaks to me. I love working on our house. I love combing through Pinterest for ideas and taking an idea in my head and executing it in a room in our house. However, my audience isn't really interested in those things. And why would you be? This was a fashion blog for over 2 years. It was me buying and wearing real clothes, not high end freebies that came with false-positive reviews that so many bloggers provide with the "this was sponsored but the opinion is all mine" bullshit tagline. The fact is when I post outfit pics, you all respond. When I proudly display a home project that took me a week or months to do - crickets. And that's fine. You all are my fashion audience, not my DIY audience. But people evolve and interests change. I'm getting a little too old to keep taking pics of myself in different outfits. It's not fun anymore. I look ridiculous coming to work all decked out and feel pressured at 5:45am to wear something exciting and new for you. So it's time for me to hang this blog up to dry. I hope you all really have enjoyed the ride with me. I'll keep the blog up for any inspiration and if I decide to switch over to a DIY blog, I'll let you all know. Thank you so much for following me since 2011.
Feel free to email me or even become a Facebook friend. For the first time ever, I'm giving you all my contact info. I know that exposes me but you all have been very kind through the years and not at all creepy or stalkerish. LOL!
Facebook: Niki Branson Delehant
*And yes, I stared at this post for quite awhile before I pushed "Publish."