Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Looking Back on 2018: What Happened, What Didn't

      I hoisted up my grocery bags, and on the way out of Safeway, glanced at the Coinstar machine. Two somethings glinted in the changeholder: a Brazilian 10-centavo coin, from a country we became very fond of. Plus a beat-up nickel.

     That small piece of good luck continued at the next place (3 videos for the price of one, with a book thrown in) AND the next place. (An item marked 50% off - without me having to beg!) 

     Is this a sign that 2019 is going to be a lucky year for us Bricks...if we watch our nickels?

I wonder.

     Professionally, last year was much more peaceful for me. A lot of the residual drama from the past three years has subsided, thank God. I'm not sure how much more I could have handled. I've kept up my 21+ year AQS* certification (for quilts), but surprisingly, have found myself doing a wider range of personal property appraising than ever before -- Native American artifacts, including rugs, pots and arrowheads; furniture; glassware; paintings/prints and other art; textiles -- antique and new. My certification for ASA** begins its third year; in fact, I have to give a talk for the Denver chapter of ASA this month. 
     Then there is The Book -- #7 to be published, but completely different from the others. It's done so well that possibilities are strong I'll be working on a sequel in 2019, with the Brick again as major photographer. Now, if the royalties would finally start! 
     I also plan to continue writing, not only on my own blog, but for others, as well. 

*American Quilter's Society    
**American Society of Appraisers (senior personal property appraiser)

Photos like this can be quite valuable to collectors.

     Personally, life was more harried. We gained a son, when Son #1 married Daughter #2 in June. That joyful event had on its heels a cancer diagnosis for Son #1's mom. Our kids made us proud, and cared for her until her death in early November. Somehow they continued to keep their own lives going, as well. It was incredibly difficult for them -- but they did it. Thank God for Colorado's fine hospice program, which helped her stay at their home until the very end. 
    The same early summer period held a burst appendix and gallbladder removal for the Brick, He spent a week in the hospital for the first event, his body fighting the infection. (Thank God -- and I mean that literally -- I had no teaching or judging gigs to do then.) He took some months to recover...
    Which meant that our house never went on the real estate market, as we'd planned. (Yes, appraisal clients, I'm still living here.) We did some cleaning up and donating, but more needs to happen. 
     These family matters meant that I got behind -- and my own deadlines suffered. I am grateful that, with a few exceptions that should be cleared away soon, I'm caught up. I have action plans to make sure that doesn't happen again. It's too nerve-wracking, otherwise. 

     Financially, it's been a tight year. The Brick's retirement pension means we live on a fixed income, with the addition of whatever comes in from my work. And that can vary widely. When we had to cover not only extra wedding costs, but medical expenses, the bank account got skimpy for a while. (Professional secret: when you see photos in a book, the author paid for those -- not the publisher. So yes, we paid for those, too.) 

     What saved us was God's grace, which brought in unexpected jobs and opportunities. We went on a careful mix of frugality, often eating or watching movies at home when we preferred to be going out. (DVDs from the $2 bin at our local library, or checked out, helped make this easier.) We cashed in some savings bonds; sold our extra car; got a short-term personal loan (which we paid off); and continued to pay on the trailer that will become our permanent residence. Somehow -- and I am not sure exactly how this happened -- we kept our bills paid, with a little cc interest one month only. We also paid a bit extra on the trailer loan monthly. 

     God is good -- all the time. All the time -- God is good.

So where does that leave us in 2019?

Hopefully in better health. The Brick still has some issues to address. My knee, which has never quite been the same since 100-pound Charley bounced up on it, needs to be attended to. But I've been slowly losing weight, which helps a little. Getting my knee fixed would mean I could exercise more easily -- which would help even more.

We'll continue to watch our pennies (er, nickels). But we should start to receive annuity checks in late spring -- and the Brick's delaying Social Security payments just means that monthly total continues to build. We'll pick up side income here and there. A meatier emergency fund gives us more cushion for the unexpected.. 

      If all goes well, we should be moving into the trailer in spring. House values have skyrocketed here in Colorado -- we've actually gained money by not selling in 2017-18 (It doesn't hurt that a new hospital was built in our area -- and a new college campus is slated to join it this year, as well.) 
    We don't think this surge will continue indefinitely. Many believe we're close to another recession -- and Colorado often leads the way, in this respect. But we believe we still have a little time. Winter is not the smartest season to put a house on the market. Even if house prices go down, the total is still considerably more than the base figure we've been using for planning purposes. 

     We need to sell this house.

A lot of work remains to be done. And if it's important, we'll hire some of that. I feel confident that we can accomplish most of it ourselves, particularly with the help of Son #1. (He does a great job refinishing wood floors, as well as bathrooms!)

Other plans: travel (more research for Book #8!) including a trip to Michigan to check on The Mama, whose health continues to fluctuate. I have some teaching/appraising/judging commitments, as well as speaking gigs for The Book. The Brick is taking an increasingly large part in going with me on these, driving/packing, taking photos and manning the sales table. The trailer means that we can do these, yet 'go home' each night to our own bed, kitchen and puppies. 

A round-the-world cruise still is in the wings for early 2020. We'll know the right bargain when we see it. It's great fun to research and plan for. 
    Meanwhile, I'm enjoying reading other bloggers' conclusions from 2018 -- like Trent Hamm's ten most valuable financial lessons learned this past year.

Welcome, 2019. Welcome to our world.


Barbara - said...

Happy New Year, I hope 2019 is good to you!!

Cindy Brick said...

Thank you, Barbara...it's nice to hear from you!

I hope your holidays were peaceful -- Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to both of you.

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