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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.

Tight Budget

July 23rd, 2019 at 04:59 pm

I talked with my supervisor about going part-time, and it went well. The plan is to go to 0.8 FTE starting in October, and then 0.6 FTE in January. And then to quit altogether in April. Simultaneously I will be increasing hours in my SE job.

I sat down and went over my budget with very conservative estimates of how much I can make each month. I generally take home about $200-$1000 more than I estimate from my SE job. Underestimating has been helping thus far.

Anyway, with the conservative estimates, I can accomplish the following:

1. Pay off my last credit card (another $9400 to go)
2. Pay off the cruise (another $120 to go)
3. Purchase ticket to go to Florida for the cruise (~$700)
4. Save $6K in EF
5. Keep making ~$235 extra each month towards mortgage
6. Purchase some furniture for the house (new bed and couch, and a few end tables) ~$1800
7. $1500 for the rest of the year for gifts, Christmas, birthdays, baby showers, etc.

If I do all those things, then I will be living paycheck to paycheck, but won't go into debt. Here are the things that I wanted to do, but won't be able to:

1. Purchase a new to me car (~$6K)
2. Bring up EF to $10K (another $4k to go after Dec)
3. Install a ductless heat pump (~$6k)

Here is my plan:

1. Put any extra income over what I estimate towards a car fund currently at $0
2. Check into the local utility board's incentives for ductless heat. The last time I checked, they had a $500 rebate as well as 5 year interest free financing for ductless heat pumps. I could take out an interest free loan and then once I have purchased a car and got 10K in EF, pay off the loan in the next 3-4 months after that. I don't like to go into debt again, but 0% interest is something that I can deal with. And I really don't want to put off installing the heat pump until next year.

I've lived paycheck to paycheck before, and can do it again. The difference is that this time it will be by choice whereas before it was because I needed to pay off debt and did not have much of a choice. This feels infinitely better.

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Garden updates:
1. Squash are still producing like nuts.
2. I've been harvesting Sugar Snap Peas daily for the past week
3. Tomatoes are plentiful, but all unripe. I noticed the start of some blossom end rot on some, but will treat them with some calcium tomorrow, so hopefully that will take care of it.
4. Two fruit on my sweetmeat squash have fertilized, so I will have at least two.
5. I've had an explosion of bell peppers on my orange bell pepper plant, all babies except for two that will be ready any day now.
6. Thai pepper has tons of green peppers on
7. My beans finally have flowers. I hope I will get some beans off them before the season is out.
8. I got a couple handfuls of blueberries of my small blueberry bush
9. Lettuce and herbs are doing great, and I am using them regularly.
10. I'm getting ready to sow second rounds of beets and lettuce, and also kale and maybe some leeks.

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.

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.

May Payday and Updates

May 31st, 2019 at 10:15 am

Today was payday. Woo hoo! I paid my mortgage with a $100 extra. I want to pay something extra each month until the end of the year when I will be able to put larger amounts towards it. Even an extra $100 keeps me motivated to pay it down faster. Zillow says my home went up in value by $4,000 in two months. I know that’s a bit unreliable, but it feels good to see anyway.

I went to the bank yesterday because I had to deposit a check for $5667.08 into my account. The cashier made an error with the decimals, and for about 5 minutes, it looked like they had added $566,708 to my account. Half a million dollars! I alerted them when they gave me the receipt and they fixed it right away. But, it was nice to see it for 2 seconds anyway. I was smiling about it for about an hour at least.

I’m going on a weekend away to the Pacific Coast with three of my girlfriends. We went last year and had a really good time. We decided we wanted to do it every year, and we’re going again. We’ll have an oceanfront suite at this spa resort. We booked ahead of time, so the accommodation will cost me $150 for the weekend (2 nights). I budgeted another $100 for food, gas, entertainment, purchases. I read somewhere that money can buy happiness when it is spent on experiences rather than on purchases. I so agree. It makes be happy to be able to have a life where I am able to spend this kind of money on time with my friends.

Last weekend, I did a lot of fun things and a lot of work in my garden, but one of the things that didn’t happen was meal planning. So, this week I was very tempted many many times to purchase meals. I only gave in once – for one breakfast. I made myself make dinner/pack lunches etc. on all other days. This saved me so much money. But, since I work such long hours (leave before 7:30am, often get back after 8:30pm), this feels very hard to do. When I get back from the coast on Sunday afternoon, I will have to make it a priority to go grocery shopping and plan/prep my meals for the week.

Exciting Updates

May 27th, 2019 at 02:53 pm

I ran my washer and dryer for the first time. I did two loads of laundry. It rained most of the weekend, so I could not hang dry my clothes. They both work beautifully. There is a medium rust spot at the top of the washer, and a friend of mine said you can do something to fix it, so I'm going to do that so that it doesn't get bigger or ruin my clothes. It is so convenient to have a washer and dryer at home.

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I had my friend and her husband over for dinner on Saturday. We had a really good conversation about money and finances. Her husband is really interested in retiring early too. They are both on Dave Ramsey's Baby Step 2 and making good progress. I don't follow Dave Ramsey myself, but do a lot of things like he recommends. Anyway, he recommended a finance book called "Money - Master the Game" by Tony Robbins. I'm thinking of reading it. If any of you have read it, please let me know if you would recommend it too.

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I had so many leftovers, and the following day, I invited another friend over and we made a meal of the leftovers. We then went for a walk around the neighborhood. It had stopped raining and the sun came out briefly, so there were a lot of people about. We passed a house with a container garden outside - at least 30-40 large containers growing well. We stopped and said hello to the couple who were outside. It was a lovely conversation, and they said they typically give away a lot of their produce since they have too much. They asked me to stop by later in the month to get some of their harvest. My own garden is about a month behind theirs. But later in the year, I think we could do a fair amount of produce exchange.

Another funny thing on the walk was a little kid who was about 7-8 years old was biking past us. He stopped to tell us that he had a lot of "killer ants" at work, and that if we stopped by his "workplace" at 10am on Wednesday, he could give us a bunch of them. Kids have such amazing imaginative and inventive inner lives. We got a big chuckle out of it.

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Okay - I saved the most exciting thing for the end. This does involve spending money, but it was a fantastic deal. Last month, I entered a local drawing thing for a free cruise, and was one of the people who won. I got a certificate with a list of what I could opt for. It was with Norwegian Cruise Lines. I knew it would not be completely free - I would have to pay airfare to the port, fees, taxes, and gratuities. Anyway, I called and booked a cruise for my sister and me to go to the Caribbean for her birthday in February. It's a 7 day cruise to the Caribbean, ocean view room. With the taxes, fees, pre-paid gratuities, it was $720 for both of us!!! I went and did a mock-booking on the website for the same option, same cruise, dates, room category, etc. on their website at it was $2536. A savings of $1816!!! I am delighted. It is one of the things that I had planned on doing anyway - take my sister and myself on a cruise as a joint birthday present for her 36th and my 40th birthdays. So, this is a wonderful way to do it.

And the even nicer bit is that she had the same idea because we have talked about a cruise before, and she's booking another cruise for my birthday next year in July for her, her husband, baby and myself to go on a cruise to Alaska! I love my sister. I am grateful that I have a wonderful relationship with her. When I told her I was taking her on a cruise, she burst out laughing and told me she was taking me on one too. We know each other well. Neither of us have ever been on a cruise, and now we will go on two in 2020. It makes me happy each time I think about it. :-)

FICO and Other Updates

May 17th, 2019 at 10:38 am

My FICO score was 779 before I purchased my house at the end of March. It dropped to 769 in April, and it just got updated and is back up a little to 774 this month. I'm hopeful that it will get to 800 by the end of the year, although I am not sure how realistic that is.

I have another client at my self-employment (SE) job starting next week. This is good since I wrapped up three clients over the last month. It keeps my average SE hours at about 8-10 each week which is where I want it.

One of the first things I did when I moved into my house at the beginning of April was to start to fix the yard. The house itself was in good condition overall. The only thing I have had to do was fix a couple of sticky doors and replace the kitchen faucet. But the front and back yards were horrible, and I needed to install a fence and take out several shrubs and a few small trees and a lot of overgrowth. I got recommended a handyman who is doing most of this. He is excellent and works for a flat $30/hr. So far in his labor costs and materials/lumber/dump fees, etc., I have spent $3422.43. I anticipate spending at least that much more before the end of the year - there is just so much to do to this damn yard!

Anyway, one of the first things I did after the yard was fenced in was to build three wonderful raised garden beds in an area of the yard that was relatively clear. I then got soil, compost, perlite, and mixed and filled them in. I just planted beans, beets, and zucchini in one of them. I'm going to plant radishes, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, thyme, thai basil, and maybe eggplant and a couple of other things. Outside of the raised beds, I'm going to grow pumpkin or maybe butternut squash. I also put up a sturdy post trellis for 7 everbearing raspberries. Also have two blueberries. I am vegetarian (ovo-lacto), so I don't have the costs associated with meat which can be so much more expensive. My veggie garden will not only bring me joy, but also will save me money. Next year, I will have chickens. This will help with my egg costs as well. I might also take down two small trees I have in my yard and plant a fig and a plum tree there. We'll see.

For the purchase of my house, I went with a local mortgage broker who was not affiliated with a bank. I really enjoyed working with them, and recommended them to another friend who is also looking for a house. Yesterday, I got a thank you card from them for the referral with a $5 Starbucks gift card. Free coffee treat for me. :-)

Does anyone else count days to payday? I do. I get paid per month on the last day of the month. For ease of accounting, I also take out my monthly pay from my SE job on the same day. This makes payday doubly exciting. Two more weeks to go.:-)