The Fierce Way to Curb Holiday Spending

Cherish Relationships, Creativity and Crafts, Finances
holiday spending

As I mentioned in my recent post about love, gift giving is my love language. I show my love by sending the most thoughtful gifts to those I love. I must say I’m quite good at it.

But there’s just one little problem. 

Things can get, well, a little out of hand. 

It’s so easy to get caught up with the gift-giving spirit of the season, and the catchy Christmas carols don’t exactly help…Santa honey one thing I really do need, the deed to a platinum mine…or I want a hippopotamus for Christmas…or all I want for Christmas is my two front teeth…or all I want for Christmas is you…

You get the idea. Whether it’s your Instagram feed or your friends or the displays at the store, everywhere you look, you are prompted to want something or buy something. Charge it and pay for it later.

I’m not saying gifts are bad. But really, do your loved ones and friends want you to blow out your budget on things you can’t afford? Probably not. 

This year, make a plan and stick to it. My friend and financial sherpa Peggy Doviak, whose book has been helping the Chairman and I get a handle on our finances, shares a few ideas on how to make this the best Christmas ever without breaking the bank. 

We had such a great response from Peggy’s last post on planning for retirement, I wanted to bringing her back to shower us all with her bright, shining financial wisdom. 

Here’s what she had to say. 

The Best Christmas Ever

Do the upcoming holidays fill you with joy or dread? Are you already wearing cozy holiday sweaters, drinking hot cocoa, and watching Hallmark movies? Or do you find yourself wondering whether Scrooge was right, and we really should be boiling people in their own plum pudding?

I think money is one of the leading causes of holiday stress for people. We want to create the perfect event, and we try not to think of the bill that will arrive in the mail around January 15th. Well, here’s the good news—it’s possible to have a great holiday season and stay out of debt. Planning ahead, being willing to spend hours rather than dollars, and knowing how to say “no” can help you have a wonderful, prosperous December. continue reading

Broccoli Cheddar Chicken Soup for the Soul – The Ultimate Comfort Food

Food for Grownups
broccoli cheddar chicken

There’s something about comfort food that just seems to solve all kinds of problems. Do you have the sniffles? Are you feeling stressed? Did you get a little too carried away at the Target $1 aisle? Did you lose your fifth pair of reading glasses in the last week? Well let me tell you something. Comfort food cures it all. It’s an instant pick me up.

This week while I am on the road at the International Quilt Festival in Houston, I’m out of my routine (but having so much fun!). It got me thinking about what I want to do when I get home. I think I’ve narrowed it down. Cuddle my dog, Showgirl, wrap myself in the comfiest quilt of all time, slip on some divine house slippers, burn a Christmas-y candle, light the fire, read for hours, and enjoy a homemade bowl of the coziest, comfiest soup I can think of. Broccoli Cheddar soup has always been one of my favorites.  continue reading

Love You Because…

Cherish Relationships, Grow in Wisdom
love languages

Before the start of each new year, I think carefully and choose a word to represent a personal quality or trait I want to focus on for the coming year. This isn’t something I thought up myself.  The first person I heard talk about this was Debbie Macomber, a wonderful author who is also a wonderful friend. Debbie is someone who has mastered the art of living intentionally, and that quality shines through in her character and her life.

Since then, I’ve met many others who also choose a word of the year. If this is a new concept for you, I recommend you give it a try in 2019; it’s a practice that can help focus your intention and even change your life, in large ways and small.

My word of the year for 2017 was love, and it was one of the most challenging words I’ve ever chosen. However, searching for ways to live out that word, intentionally showing love to someone every day taught me a lot. It also changed me, in some some good ways. continue reading

Stuffed Delicata Squash Recipe: Delicious Squash Boats (Just 5 WW Freestyle Points!)

Food for Grownups
stuffed Delicata Squash recipes

I have amassed any number insights and truths in my Beyond 50 years. Here is one of them:  People either like squash, or they don’t.

I definitely fall into the pro-squash camp.  I never met a squash I didn’t like – zucchini, acorn, butternut, spaghetti – they are all scrumptious. And so healthy!

So imagine my delight when I came across a new variety, the aptly named delicata, a delicious, sweet, firm-textured squash with a skin that is so thin and delicate that no peeling is required.  After cooking, delicata squash can be eaten whole, the flesh as well as the skin.

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Health insurance for 50 Years and Over (before Medicare Kicks In)

Health and Fitness, Plan for Tomorrow
Health insurance for 50 Years and Over

For a long time, I never thought about health insurance. We simply had a health plan through my husband’s job. But now that my husband has shifted his focus from a full-time job to several consulting and board positions, we don’t have a group health plan like we’ve enjoyed in the past. 

On top of that, and maybe many of you are in the same boat, my husband is a bit older than me and already reaping the benefits of Medicare. But being young and fierce, I still need normal health insurance.  Now that I’m on my own during open enrollment, I’ve realized that the health insurance marketplace is 1) expensive, 2) confusing, and 3) sends me into an emotional tailspin that only crafting or a Great British Baking Show binge can cure. 

Even though I am pretty healthy, keeping up with my Weight Watchers goals, and exercising regularly (hello, triathlon!), I still need health insurance. Like I mentioned in a recent retirement planning post, numbers aren’t really my thing. And that includes health insurance, and all its tricks and numbers and costs and acronyms and weird jargon that I may or may not be pronouncing correctly.  continue reading

What to Read Right Now – Fall 2018

what to read now

It’s National Author’s Day!

Since I love reading, writing, and all things books, this little known holiday is right up there with National Penguin Day or National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day for me.

It’s so fitting that National Author Day happens right as Fall is in full swing. It’s the moment when it’s socially acceptable to wear cozy clothes all day, with house slippers, and reading glasses, and a crackling fire, and sip on hot tea, cocoa and coffee all the day long.  Books and Fall go together like peas and carrots, if you ask me.

In honor of today, I thought I would put together a short list of the books I come back to again and again.

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What I’m Loving Now – Fall 2018

Beauty and Fashion

If you know me at all, you know that when I love something, I love it intensely and absolutely must tell people about it.

To that woman I accosted in the fiction section of the bookstore, insisting you could not leave without a copy of Kristan Higgin’s Good Luck With That, I apologize if I frightened you.  On the other hand, what’s a little scare if you a get really great read out of the deal? You’re welcome.

Okay, yes. It is possible that I sometimes go overboard in my enthusiasm.  Who doesn’t love sharing a good thing? I consider it a sort of public service on my part. continue reading

Perfect for Fall Homestyle Chicken Stew Recipe: Just 4 WW Freestyle Points!

Food for Grownups
chicken stew recipe

Earlier in this week, I blogged about my short-lived fall off the weight loss wagon and outlined steps I’ve taken to get back on board.  One of those steps included searching for satisfying, delicious new recipes that will reinvigorate your commitment to healthy eating.

You don’t need to go any farther than this blog to find all sort of inspiring recipes that will fit the bill.

How about Healthy, Zero Point Egg Salad? Or 3-Point Ricotta and Orange Crepes? 6-Point Chicken Parmesan? Or, one of my favorites, 4-Point Gruyere, Canadian Bacon, and Corn Frittata? Every one of these recipes is a winner – delicious, healthy, and oh-so easy to prepare.

And did I mention, delicious?  I did?

Well, it bears repeating. Because they are. continue reading

Weight Loss After Fifty: What To Do When the Pounds Come Back (and Bring Friends)

Health and Fitness
gaining weight back

Thanks to the Weight Watchers Freestyle Program, I reached my goal weight in March of this year.

Yay, me!

As of a couple of weeks ago, Weight Watchers is now called “WW” which, apparently, stands for Wellness that Works.  Uhh…okay. Honestly, I don’t see why they needed to change the name.  But as long as they keep the eating program at the center of it, I’m on board. Because Freestyle really does work, just ask my doctor.

Come to think of it, forget my doctor. Ask me.  I lost over twenty pounds and kept it off from mid-March to mid-October. Seven months!

Yay, me!

Then came my son’s wedding. continue reading

When can I retire? What if I can’t afford to?


Have you noticed that here at FierceBeyond50, I post about all kinds of topics relevant to the beyond 50 lifestyle, everything from health and fashion, to downsizing and personal relationships, but not finances?

There’s a reason for that.

I suck at money. Big time.

When the conversation drifts toward topics of personal finance, one of two things happens. Either I start to feel very bored and very sleepy, or I experience the anxiety that can only be overcome by starting a new craft project.

Financial discussions confuse me and scare me.  The first response tends to exacerbates the second response, I’ve noticed. The less I understand about money matters, the more frightening they become.

Even in my ignorance, I do understand that it’s important for a woman to have a handle on her finances, especially in the years beyond 50.  That’s why, with a certain amount of trepidation, I’ve recently undertaken a personal quest to do exactly that.

Not surprisingly, my search began with books.  And, lucky for me, it soon brought me to the exact book I needed – 52 Weeks to Prosperity – Ask Peggy Doviak: What Your Accountant, Banker, Broker & Financial Adviser Might Not Tell You.

I highly recommend this book.  It’s very clear and easy to understand and has specific action plans to help readers corral and steer their financial futures. If you know me at all, you know how I love a good action plan! Having a whole year to work through them seemed less intimidating, like something I could actually do. My husband and I are already working through some of these steps and it’s been an illuminating experience. (I’ll be blogging more about that in the future, so stay tuned.)

Something else I loved about this book was the warm, conversational tone of the author.  Peggy Doviak seemed like somebody who would be easy to talk to, the kind of lady who I’d want to invite into my kitchen for a cup of coffee and a good gab.

Since Peggy lives in Oklahoma and I live in Oregon, a coffee date would be complicated. That’s why I decided to do the next best thing – invite her to guest blog. Actually it’s even better than a coffee date because I get to share her with all of you.

Today I’ve asked Peggy to write about a question that’s on the mind of so many Beyond50 readers –  When can I retire?

Read on for Peggy’s answer to this very important question!


Are you terrified you can never retire? If so, you’re in good company. We’ve all seen the statistics about saving money in our twenties, and the young people who have committed to that strategy just rock! However, many of us did not plan for our retirement in our twenties, thirties, or sometimes even forties. We always had a “good” reason, but still, we didn’t save. Suddenly, OMG, we’re closing in on being 65! We need a solution, and we need it now.

Unfortunately, the financial services community understands our panic and, all too often, tries to exploit it. Over plates of cold chicken fettuccini and a never-ending PowerPoint, a local financial adviser tells us that if we haven’t saved a million dollars by now, we will be eating cat food during our twilight years. The adviser may also warn against counting on the viability of both Social Security and any pension we have earned. But never fear—he has the perfect product to meet our needs, whatever they are. Just sign here.

DON’T! Maybe the sales pitch really does offer an appropriate product, but don’t make your decision from a position of fear. When people are anxious or ashamed, they are desperate for a quick solution that provides peace of mind. When an investment product claims to offer financial certainty, it’s appealing. But remember—they bought you the fettuccini. continue reading