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Archive for August, 2019

Reworked my Budget

August 18th, 2019 at 09:56 am

One of the things I enjoy the most is working on my projected budget for the next several months. I really nerd out on this, and it gives me immense joy. Maybe I should have been an accountant. But, I think it's working on MY numbers that brings me joy. I doubt that managing other people's money would make me as happy.

Anyway, now that I have purchased a car, I can more accurately budget out until April to see what's possible. It may not happen exactly like this because of my variable income. But, with conservative estimates of what I might be able to bring in, here is what I can accomplish:

By end of 2019:
* Pay off my last remaining consumer debt. Another $9,300.
* Save $2,000 towards my 10K EF goal.

By April 2020 when I leave my full time job, here is what I can accomplish:
* FEBRUARY - Pay up to $1,000 on expenses on the cruise. I've never been on a cruise, so don't know what to budget. Some of the port excursions and other things look a bit expensive. I don't think I will go over $1,000 anyway for both my sister and myself. She will offer to pay, but this is a birthday trip for her, so I want it to be all expenses paid for her. The only thing she will be paying for is her flight to Florida.
* MARCH - Pay $1,200 for auto taxes for the year (I am not sure how much it will be. This is a little over what I am paying now yearly for auto taxes)
* MARCH - Roll any income tax savings into the EF
* APRIL - Save $10,000 EF
* MONTHLY - Keep paying $250 extra each month towards the mortgage
* MONTHLY - Leave $300-$400 wiggle room in each month's budget for unexpected expenses. Anything that doesn't get spent will get added to a Global Slush Fund for the year which I hope to get to $10K by August of 2020. This will prevent me from having to dip into my EF for anything I need to take from savings. At the moment, the EF is the only major savings I have that isn't jointly held with my sister. So, that's where I pull money from. But, with a large Slush fund, I shall be able to leave the EF only for emergencies.

By end of 2020 (in addition to the above):
* Save $10,000 in a global slush fund
* Save $2,000 towards my 10K EF goal.
* Pay for ductless heat pumps for my house (around $6,000)
* After the above are accomplished and paid for, throw any remaining money in the budget towards the mortgage.


P.S. The person who was going to come and see my old car fell through. They messaged and canceled and said they found another car. I did get several scammers offering to pay me in cashier's checks, or to mail me checks if I would ship my car to them. Blocked all of those numbers.

Friday Updates

August 16th, 2019 at 02:13 pm

I don't really have any major updates. Just thought I would list a few things:

1. Bought a birthday gift for my brother-in-law, and used the $70 gift balance I got from applying for the Amazon Prime card. So, the total came down to $37.14. Nice savings.

2. I got a check from a class action settlement I had joined about 2 years ago. It was a measly $4. But it's something. Maybe that will pay for a coffee someday. Deposited it. I love mobile check deposits. Why didn't they invent that years ago??

3. Listed my old car on FB Marketplace (free) and on Craigslist ($5). KBB said $987, and I listed it for $950 OBO. Already got one interested party contact me via. Craigslist.

4. I purchased a bed online, and did not opt for the "expert assembly", thus saving $85. I have a friend coming over today, and we both will put it together. I usually am good at putting together furniture on my own, but this is large enough where I could use an extra pair of hands. I'll make dinner and offer some of my garden produce as a thank you.

5. This was my busiest week in my SE job. Next week will be packed as well. I have decided to not take on any new clients for the next month. I have mixed feelings about this. I am happy because people keep wanting to hire me, so I feel more and more confident about leaving my full-time job. I am anxious because I go down to 0.8 FTE in October, and am putting some pressure on myself to fill up those slots before it's even the end of August! Also, I am still really trying to get the hang of this variable income thing and appear to be tending towards overloading myself whenever possible to offset the slow weeks. I know it will all work out in the end. Being able to say no to additional clients feels like a privilege to have, and is a milestone in my new business.

6. Picking up my new car today. I'll charge the 1045.24 in repairs to my credit card so I can get the points, and then pay it off before the next billing cycle. Can't wait to drive in it later this afternoon.

7. My tomatoes and beans are going nuts. My counter is getting fuller and fuller with produce, and I am going to spend some time this weekend processing and freezing or maybe canning some of it. The zucchini, squash, and snap peas are slowing down. My sweetmeat squash looks like it won't yield anything. I'm also going to plant kale and cauliflower this weekend for winter crops. I also have a low-bush blueberry that I want to transplant into a large pot. What's the best time to transplant blueberries? Anyone know?

Have a lovely weekend.

Bought a New-To-Me Car

August 14th, 2019 at 03:00 pm

Thanks, everyone for advice and feedback on my last post. I decided that I was going to keep looking, and then if I found something that I really liked, I would buy it, and if not, then I would renew my car tags and wait till next year to buy a car.

It happened really fast. I saw a car yesterday posted on Craiglist. It was a year older than the parameters I had in mind - it's a 2009 car. But, it had really low miles (58K - I was looking for something under 110K). I called the guy who told me that it's his mother's car and she's going into assisted living, and is selling her car. We planned to meet this morning for me to look at it.

This morning, I looked at the car - it's beautiful inside and out. Test drove it, and it drives really well as well. Before I took it to a mechanic for an inspection, I bargained on the price and agreed upon $6700 (down from asking price of $7000, CarFax recommended private party price was $7600). Then, I took it to the mechanic ($109), who checked it out and said it was a good car and he recommended that I buy it. It does need new brake pads and rotors, a rear mounted brake light (which costs $429 for some astounding reason!), and about half a dozen other minor things. The total estimated repair bills add up to $1045.xx. The mechanic said I could use that to bargain down the price again, but told me that he would recommend buying it even if they don't lower the price because it's in excellent condition overall, and that it's hard to find a car like that at such low miles.

So, I bargained again, and they said $6500 was the lowest they could go. We agreed upon it, and went to the bank where I withdrew the money to pay them. I then went straight to the DMV with the title and bill of sale, and registered it in my name. Then I called the insurance and added it to my account. I hope to sell my old car in the next few weeks. If I do so, then my insurance will go up by $511.xx. My new car is now at the mechanic's getting all the repairs and replacements. I will have it on Friday.

It cost me a total of $8258.73 (car price, inspection, repairs, registration/title change, insurance increase). The car came with the old license plates and the tags are good till 9/20, so I don't have to worry about paying to renew them for another year.

I priced my old car on KBB and it looks like their private party recommendation is $987. I will list it tomorrow, and hopefully will sell it for at least $800. That should offset some of these costs.

I am grateful to be able to purchase the car outright without having to take out a loan or pay interest on it. My total cost for the car was $1200 more than I had anticipated, but I also got a car with 50K miles less on it than I had anticipated, so I am happy with that. This does mean that my savings are now almost completely depleted since I took out $5k from it. I do have $2.5K in my joint EF with my sister to fall back on if need be, and another $8K in my business account that I had saved for taxes. I hope I shan't have to use either of those. And I will still be able to meet my 10K goal by April as planned.

That was a long post. However, it feels good to have written it all down.

Have a lovely rest of your week, everyone.

Waffling

August 11th, 2019 at 10:46 pm

I am going back and forth trying to decide if I should buy a newer car sooner or wait till next year. My car's tags expire in November, and I don't want to renew them just for another few months more. I saw a posting for a car in town that looks good. $7000. 2012 Kia Soul. 90K miles. Claims to be a single owner. It's too late at night to call. I'll call tomorrow and see if it's still available. I am so indecisive.

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I was buying something on Amazon and decided to apply for the Amazon Prime Visa Card. Was approved, and got a $70 Amazon Gift card instantly. It gives you 5% cashback on Amazon Prime purchases. I've seen it promoted for years, but never applied.

I froze my credit after the Equifax breach. Unfroze it when I started to look for houses so I could apply for a mortgage. I plan on re-freezing it again, so glad I got approved for this card. I don't need to keep my credit unfrozen any longer.

To-do list items for August are to apply for the Equifax settlement claim, and also to freeze my credit with all three bureaux.

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It was a relatively inexpensive weekend. I spent $40.06 on groceries.

Did some meal-prep for the week. It's going to be a super busy week, and it will be wise to have lunches and dinners ready. I have one work dinner that I think I can stretch into two meals. I also have one lunch planned with a coworker this week. The rest of the meals will be homemade, hopefully.

I made some zuchhini lasagne, but it was too watery. I tried salting and squeezing the zucchini slices first, but they kept breaking, and I was not able to squeeze out as much water as I do when I make zoodles. The lasagne was tasty-ish. I think I'll stick to making zoodles in the future.

I also boiled some eggs, chopped some veggies for sides. I think I will also make a bunch of salads. I have delicious lettuce and tomatoes from the garden that need using. Chocolate chia pudding for dessert.

Updates

August 9th, 2019 at 10:26 am

Now that my car was temporarily fixed, and buying a new car has been postponed, my EF stands at $5,419.16. My goal for the year was $6K which I will definitely hit. Maybe I can aim for $10K in EF by the end of the year. We'll see if that happens...

My goal before I quit my job is to have a new-to-me car, and $10K in EF. I only need to achieve that by April of next year, so I have time.
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I'm starting to harvest tomatoes. Lots of Genuwines, one Early Girl (not so early after all), and lots of cherry and grape tomatoes. I have plenty of zucchini still. I have harvested 73 this year - and have more on the way. Also started to harvest some beans and chilli peppers. And two orange bell peppers.

My garden veggie wish list for next year is:
1 zucchini
1 patty pan squash
1 yellow squash
1 row of Snap Peas
2 Genuwine Tomatoes
1 other slicing tomato, variety TBD
3-4 bell peppers of varying colors
1 Thai pepper
1 Cayenne pepper
1 other hot pepper, variety TBD
2 eggplants
1 row of beans
2-3 varieties of lettuce

I will also be growing all the herbs that I am growing this year (thyme, basil, Thai basil, oregano, mint, stevia). I might add marjoram to that mix as well.

Next year, my 7 raspberry canes will also fruit. As will both my blueberries (only one fruited this year)

What I can't finish eating, I will can or freeze for use over the winter months.

If you know of other easy to grow veggies, let me know.
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I got 3 new clients in my SE job this week. And one new person starting next week. That will make next week my busiest week since I started the SE job. Next week, I will be working 56 hours between my full-time job and SE job. I think I will feel like a nut at the end of it. I can't wait to go part-time in October so that I can have some more work-life balance. But, this is a good problem to have, and I am grateful.
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The massage membership that I chose to pay for has really been paying off. It's $120 a month, and $20 in tips for two massages per month. I already notice a marked improvement in my posture.

I am also doing some yoga and gentle stretching on a few days a week to help release my tension and pain. The funny thing is that I don't actually realize that I am in pain until I am on the massage table and the therapist is easing my pain.
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I have been bringing lunches every day most weeks and this helps in saving money. I had lunch planned with a colleague today, and we were going to go out to lunch, but he is out sick and I didn't bring anything to eat with me. So, I might end up buying a lunch today. I don't mind spending money on myself when I am out with friends, so I wonder why I have so much resistance to the idea of spending money on lunching on my own.
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I finally bought a new bed and some new bath mats. I bought the bed online. It has excellent reviews, but is also quite economical - $252.85. It will be delivered by the 20th of next month. This is something I have been putting off for a while. I got rid of my old American-style tall bed when I moved because I wanted to get a lower bed as is usual in my country. My mattress is just on my box-spring right now, and is at the height that I want it to be. When my new bed comes, I will donate the box-spring. Again - I don't know what the resistance is to spending money on myself. I replaced my guest room bed as soon as I moved, but am buying my own bed (which is used significantly more) only now - 4 months after I moved.

I Love Doing Laundry Now

August 4th, 2019 at 01:34 pm

It's because of my clothesline. I used to hate doing my laundry. I used to procrastinate on it for as long as I could. My sister had this running joke where she'd call me at 10pm the night before I had to go on a trip to check and see if I was doing laundry - I would postpone it for as long as I could. I'd wait till I was down to my last pair of underwear. I don't know what I hated about it, but I just hated it.

Not so now. On Sunday, I wash my clothes, and then hang them up on my lovely clothesline in my lovely backyard. It has been quite warm lately, so in about a half hour or 45 min, they are all dry. Apart from saving me money and extending the life of my dryer, there is something so therapeutic about it. They smell so wonderful as they dry in the sun. I love pulling them off the line and carrying them in.

I'm sure some of you will think I am weird - getting so excited about laundry. But, if you knew how much I hated laundry before, you would know how big this is for me. :-)

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I harvested some hot chilis, three red plum tomatoes, 3 green beans and two zucchini today.

I did a bunch of cooking for the week.

I cleaned up my yard, pulled some weeds, added more material to the composter, cut some flowers for my table.


I feel so freaking domestic. I love it!!!! Living in MY house, getting veggies from MY garden, washing MY clothes and hanging them on MY clothesline. I am so grateful to be able to be in a position in my life and live in a place where it is possible for a 40 year old single woman to own her own home, be able to pay for it, and to love the small and wonderful delights within it.

Have a lovely week, everyone!

Car and Other Updates

August 3rd, 2019 at 11:52 am

Well, the mechanic replaced the fuel filter and the spark plugs. Cost me $290.xx which I thought was very reasonable. I found this mechanic on Google and just went based off the reviews - a small local business. The people were friendly and wonderful too. So, hopefully this will be my regular place.

Anyway - the car runs better now. It goes up inclines fine and does not have as much trouble speeding up after stopping. There still is a slight lag, but nowhere near what it was before. I hope this will make the car last another 6 months or so. My plan is to purchase a new car then. This is a really old 1994 Honda Accord. 275,000 miles on it. I don't take it out of town usually. I had been thinking of replacing my car anyway. It's about time I did so. I have a hard time with change. And, since I know so little about cars, I feel like I am particularly gullible and will end up buying a lemon. I will ask some friends to go car shop with me.

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Paid off the cruise balance from budget savings. So, I didn't have to dip intro my travel fund for that. Yay! Not so with the ticket to Florida where we embark on the cruise. It cost me $692.xx. GRR!!!

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Harvested my very first tomato of the year. The variety is "Genuwine" and it is very pretty. The plant is laden with tomatoes, so I will have plenty more soon. And some of my red plum tomatoes and yellow cherry tomatoes are starting to ripen as well. As is my orange bell pepper.

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I can't wait for the end of the year when I will be done with my consumer debt altogether.

Murphy

August 2nd, 2019 at 01:43 pm

Well, so much for my detailed plans for the rest of this year. About 2 days after my last entry, my car decided to die.

At first I thought the battery had drained, so a friend came and jump started it. It ran, so I thought that was that. Well, when I got done with work and got to the car - dead again. So, took it to Autozone to check the battery - the battery is completely dead at this point. So, got a new battery there which they replaced for free $73.xx.

Well, the next day, my neighbor says my car sounds weird, and maybe it's time for an oil change. It was due anyway, so went and did that. Just did the basic change at Jiffy Lube for $29.99.

The next several days, the car will start up and run fine for about a quarter of a mile, but then I was just not able to get any power to the engine. If it's on an incline, it won't go at all. If I stop at a stoplight, I have the hardest time getting it back over 5 miles for the first several seconds. Once it gets up to speed, it's fine. But, if it slows or stops, then it's hard to get it going again.

So, I took it to a mechanic. It's there now. They're replacing the spark plugs and fuel filter. $110 to diagnose this, and another $300 in parts and labor. If this fixes it, then I will go on and do what I originally planned, and buy a car by March or April of next year. If it doesn't, then I will buy another one sooner. I have $5K in my savings and my sister said that I can pull another $2k-ish from our joint savings account. Hopefully that will get me a decent car that I can use for the next 5-7 years.

So, if this doesn't fix it, then the new plan is:

THIS YEAR:
1. Buy new car
2. Still pay off last credit card now at $9300
3. Maybe end up with $1-2K left in my emergency fund if I don't need to replenish our joint savings.

NEXT YEAR:
1. Save $10K in EF before I quit work
2. Start putting money away into a flexible sinking fund. I plan to have $10K in this by the end of next year.
3. Go on the cruise and maybe to Iceland without going into debt.
4. Build up my SE job to completely replace my current income by the end of next year.
5. Once all the planned expenses for next year are paid (furniture, travel, etc.), then I start putting higher amounts towards mortgage principal.

Overall, it hasn't changed much - just the order of things. So, now I'll buy a car first and fill the EF later, rather than have it the other way around.