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Archive for June, 2019

This and That

June 24th, 2019 at 11:35 am

I am leaving on Friday for a week long vacation to visit my sister and her family. I always seem to have wayyyy too much to do in the days leading up to a vacation. I don't know why! I made a list of the things that I need to do before I leave so that I don't miss anything important.

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I have zucchini coming out of my ears! I planted four yellow zucchini plants, (one turned out to be a hybrid yellow/green), and they are producing really well. I have already harvested 8 zucchini and given away six of those to others. I cooked the other two and they were wonderfully delicious. By the looks of it, it looks like I will be harvesting 1-3 zucchini every day from now on.

I have two small bell peppers on my orange bell pepper plant. The purple bell pepper has no sign of flowers yet. One of my radishes is breaking the top of the soil and they will all be ready to harvest in about 2 weeks tops. The tomatoes and hot peppers have plenty of flowers, but no fruit yet.

I have a couple of friends who will come and water my plants that aren't connected to the automatic timed watering system. They can also harvest the zucchini as they need to be harvested so that I don't come home to 20 monster sized zucchini and a spent plant.

I'm keeping track of how many zucchini I get per plant. I'm calling them 1, 2, 3, and 4. The tally so far is 3-5-0-0. That's because 3 and 4 were transplanted a week after 1 and 2.

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Had a nice potluck on Saturday with friends. We made taco bowls. I provided rice, beans, lentils, chips. The others provided toppings. It was nice. I love my friends.

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I have $700 from my paycheck deposited into an account that I use for household and regular expenses. Utilities, gas, phone, groceries, eating out, and discretionary spending (this month - cosmetics, movie, massage, haircut, eating out, and clothes) come out of this account. I had $100 left over, so I put that towards the balance due for the cruise. New balance is $519.36. I'll do this again the next two months - add any leftovers towards the cruise balance, and then pay the remainder off in September from my travel sinking fund.

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Cashed out credit card rewards points for a $50 Amazon gift card. I love credit card points. I use a credit card for expenses and pay it off each month so I don't accrue interest, but I get points. I don't spend a lot, so I don't get a lot. But, every few months or so, I will get enough to redeem a gift card.

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Next month, I am returning $1300 to my sister. A few years ago, when I was broke and in credit card debt, my sister gave me money - a few hundred here and there on about 4-5 occasions to help me pay back the debt. She said it was not a loan but a gift. She said it was because I had helped her with similar small amounts when she was a student, and this was her paying me back. But, I kept track of what she gave me and intended to return it. It was $2300 in all. I was going to give it all to her because she has a new baby and her expenses have grown. But, she said that she was planning on giving me $1000 as a housewarming gift. So, we agreed that I'd just give her $1300 instead. I'm adding another $200 as a gift for the baby because my sister said she was taking all this money and adding it to the baby's savings account. My sister is the sweetest. I love her and am grateful for her.

June 13th, 2019

June 13th, 2019 at 11:20 am

I am getting a composting tumbler this afternoon. For free. From my local Buy Nothing group. If you haven't heard of this, the Buy Nothing Project (https://buynothingproject.org/) are local groups where you can offer items that you don't want anymore. Prevents things ending up in landfills, and if someone else can use it, then that's great. I have given and received many things on my local group. Most recently, I gave away some DVDs, hangers, some plants, landscaping rocks, curtains. I have received a shredder, plants, a few knick knacks here and there. It's wonderful - I highly recommend it. It's frugal as well as saves time since you don't need to carry the stuff to the dump (like my rocks or plants), or to a donation center. The person you are giving it away to will come and pick up. I have a rubbish bin composter, but as things break down the material gets packed down and it's kind of a pain to aerate it. So, this large tumbler composter will be very very welcome. Online they sell for $90-$150.

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My garden is doing really well. I can't believe how much it has changed since last month. Compared to two months ago, it is unrecognizable. Isn't nature wonderful? I take a few seeds worth under a cent each, give them some soil, some water and sunlight, and they provide me with wonderful food that I would have paid a lot of money for at the store. I will share pictures of my harvest later this year.

I also set up an irrigation system on a timer, so this has been saving me a lot of time in the morning. I still need to water things in containers and one or two areas of my garden manually, but that is infinitely less time consuming than doing the whole garden each morning.

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I got two new clients in my SE job. Just when people start leaving for the summer and I get a gap on my schedule, I got a couple of new folks. I'm still not at full capacity, but I have more hours each week than I had anticipated having over the summer months.

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I went and got the massage that I got through Groupon. The massage therapist was really, really good. I ache in a good way today. Yesterday night and today, I have so much relief from pain that I didn't even know I had before I went in. He has a membership rate of $120 for two 60-min massages/month. The contract is a year long. My sister does something similar with Massage Envy and likes it. I think I am going to go for it. It's $120 more to budget than I had anticipated, but here are the reasons I want to sign up: (1) I can afford it, (2) If yesterday's feeling of relief was any indication, I clearly need it, (3) I am at a sedentary job all day and evening. With my job and the SE job, I work nearly 12-hour sedentary days with tense muscles, (4) Self-care is on my list of things to actively practice, and (5) What is all this money for really unless I spend it on myself? So, I think I am going to do it.

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I got a statement from m y mortgage company showing an escrow shortage. I called them and they said that their estimate of the property taxes was low, so this is the shortage. My property taxes don't actually change till October. But, they said my state does an "escrow analysis" in May each year and this reflects what they were short. I have no idea what all this means. Have any of you come across this? I was under the impression that my payment would only change each year when the property taxes change in October (in my state). I feel a bit helpless knowing next to nothing about mortgages and home purchases.

Cashback and A Gift

June 10th, 2019 at 09:21 am

I bought a leaf blower on Amazon - $66.52. It was $89.95 at the local home depot. So glad I checked online for comparison.

My realtor texted me the other day and thanked me for referring a friend to her. She's amazing and I would refer everyone to her. Anyway, she said she wanted to thank me and get me a gift card and where would I like a gift card for? I said it wasn't necessary, but she insisted, and I said I was buying plants for my backyard, so a garden center or another place where I can buy plants would be very useful. So she came by yesterday and we chatted and she gave me the card which I did not look at until later. My mortgage company had sent me a $5 Starbucks gift card for referring the same friends. I was expecting something like that - $5-$20. When I opened the envelope, she had given me a $100 gift certificate. I could not believe it! She is such a sweetheart. So, I went and spent $40.xx of it on plants. More again next week once my flower bed is complete. I am so grateful.

Buying a house has increased my expenses. I do use credit cards and pay the balance down each month. So, I have not paid interest on a credit card in the last year since I paid down all my consumer debt (the last remaining debt is on a 0% APR till the end of the year). But, what I do get is rewards points. I redeemed some for a $50 Amazon card which will come in the mail next week. I wish they'd just send me the gift certificate code instead of mailing a card. I wish I had done this last week and spent it on the leaf blower. But, I will continue to have several purchases to make on Amazon, so it will get used up soon enough.

Gratitude

June 7th, 2019 at 03:29 pm

For the last year or so, I have been doing several things that benefit my emotional and mental well being. One of these things is practicing writing a list each week of all the things I am grateful for, and I stick it on the fridge so that I can see it each day. I don’t do it any particular day – sometimes a new list pops up every 10 days, sometimes within 4 days of the old list. But generally it evens out to about once a week. I wrote a list yesterday and was reflecting upon how many of those things are things that are directly or indirectly money-related. Here were some of the items on my list:

- I’m grateful that my close friends enjoy spending time at home playing board games with me instead of going out all the time (I am very introverted and a homebody, so this is both emotionally and financially good for me.
- I am grateful that my vegetables are flourishing in my garden beds and I will have healthy, organic produce later this summer
- I am grateful that my self-employment is going well and that I am able to earn as much as I am
- I am grateful that I was able to fix the rust spot on my washer so that I can keep using it longer
- I am grateful that I have flowers in my garden so I can have flowers at home for free
- I am grateful to have found a reliable and inexpensive handyman
- I am grateful for a local gardening group where people give away extra things and this weekend I am going to get a bunch of free flower plants. I am building a new flower bed in my garden, so this is very timely.

What are you grateful for?

Home Warranty Question

June 6th, 2019 at 12:40 pm

When I purchased my house, my realtor recommended a home warranty. Since then, I have had several people tell me that this is not a good value for money. I also have had a few people tell me that it’s totally worth it and will pay for itself. What do you all recommend? I think it’s probably a $50-$75 cost per month. Do you all think it’s worth it? I don’t want to spend money I don’t have to, but if it will save me money in the long run, then it’s something I am open to.

Massage and Tipping

June 5th, 2019 at 08:39 am

I purchased a Groupon for a massage and have booked it for the 12th. I found a deal for a 5-star rated local massage therapist for $45. And then I used a promo code that took $10 off. So, $35 was the purchase price. With a tip, it should be $45. Not bad for an hour of deep-tissue massage

Okay – please don’t roast me for this next bit: I don’t understand tipping. I grew up in a country where people don’t tip unless they are provided with extremely exceptional service, and then we only tip for certain things. People get paid a living wage and don’t depend on tips in order to make money or to purchase health insurance. I have spent almost all of my adult life in the US, but I still can’t get my brain around tipping in certain circumstances. I now tip 20% at restaurants automatically – regardless of the level of service because I know that often people depend on that money to make a living wage. I also tip taxi drivers, doormen, valet drivers, hotel room service staff, etc.

However, there are certain other circumstances when it boggles the mind that people tip or receive tips. For instance, I read a post by someone on Facebook yesterday – she’s an airline customer service representative who got tipped $50 for doing her job. I would have never even thought to tip an airline customer service person. Now I wonder if I am expected to tip in places that I don’t and am racking up negative karma for not doing so.

I am a healthcare worker, and am licensed in my profession. It is against my ethical principles to accept a tip from a patient. The idea is that all my patients get the same level of care, and that my performance is supposed to be standardized and not motivated even in the very least by the possibility of financial gain by providing a higher level of care to some and not to others. So, how I treat a pauper and a billionaire has to be exactly the same – the promise of a tip or the lack of it is not supposed to sway me. If I accepted a tip or gifts, I could lose my license! So, when I go to a licensed massage therapist and am expected to tip, I get incredibly uncomfortable. I do tip, but it still weirds me out. I actually can’t think of any other health care profession where a tip is the norm. If you can, please let me know. I don’t want to not be tipping when I am expected to.

Please understand I am not saying that we shouldn’t tip others. What I am saying is that there should be a way for people to earn a living without having to depend on the vagaries or generosity/miserliness of others.

June 3rd, 2019

June 3rd, 2019 at 10:37 am

I'm back from my weekend. It was so relaxing. I had almost forgotten what it was like to not work 10-12 hour days. I slept in, we played board games, ate good food, had good conversation. I love my friends. One of them was very moody - she tends to be someone who complains a lot anyway, but on this trip it felt like she was particularly grumpy and about 90% of what she talked about was complaints. At the end of the weekend, the other three of us felt more relaxed and rejuvenated, but this friend didn't sleep well the last night and on the morning we left was even more grumpy than at the start of the weekend. I hope that there isn't something bothering her that she feels she cannot talk with us about. I know she's really unhappy at work, but that's been the case for years and this time it felt like there was more than than going on.

I ended up spending $90.08 on top of the accommodation for gas, meals, and a souvenir. I considered going to the resort spa for a massage, but it was $125 for an hour long massage, and I figured I could just wait and get a cheaper massage back in town. My body really aches and I think I need a massage. Maybe Groupon has a good massage deal going on. I'll check. Anyway, I came in at $9.92 under the budgeted amount. Yay me!

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I have my first little yellow zucchini on my "cube of butter" plant. One of my raspberries is looking like it won't make it. I don't know why - the other six are thriving, and they are all in the same location and get the same kind of attention from me.

When I was watering the raspberries yesterday, I saw a mouse! I don't want a mouse infestation. I hate mice and rats and was quite upset. But, I am glad I found it before I have veggies and they destroy them. I didn't catch the one yesterday, but I have ordered a set of traps online, and hope that I can catch any that are around. I wanted to get chickens next year, but I believe that attracts more mice who come for the chicken food. So, I am now rethinking that. Have any of you had mice in the garden? How did you deal with them?

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This weekend was my final weekend of food "recklessness". I have diabetes and last year through diet and exercise, I managed it well enough that my doctor took me off Metformin. However, with the upheaval of moving and traveling early this year, I went completely off the rails and have not even been checking my weight or blood sugar because I want to avoid dealing with how much I might have backslid. Starting today, I hope to get back on track. It's so hard to cut back on carbs, but I have done it before, and I will do it again. This is also for financial reasons - so that I am not spending on junk food, but also so that I don't have to spend money on expensive medical care.