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Payday Update

August 30th, 2019 at 11:38 am

Got paid today. Yay! I love payday. Quick updates:

1. Paid $1400 towards the last credit card. Looking forward to being done with this card in December.

2. Paid $233.46 extra to mortgage bringing it to a nice even $2000 payment. Every little extra bit counts.

3. Added $200 to EF

4. Sent in my taxes for the 3rd quarter.

5. Got a $40 gift for my friend who came by and helped water my garden while I was gone, put out the trash, let the meter reader in, etc.

I calculated how much SE income I actually lost while I was gone. $2080.18 in gross, but I save 40% to go towards taxes, so would have lost $1248.11 net. I will adjust my budget for the 2nd half of Sept, and the 1st half of Oct to reflect this.

I contacted all the people who wanted to see the old car while I was gone and let them know that I was back and could show them the car. No response yet. Maybe they all found other cars. Hopefully I will get a few more people interested.

True to what I had promised myself, I am trying to take better care of my health. For the last two days, I have been eating low-carb (I have diabetes), and I am certainly feeling the withdrawals - not so much in terms of hunger, but in cravings, and some headaches. I plan to do some meal-prep this coming week, and also will go for a walk and maybe a hike if it's not too hot or humid.

Small Updates

August 28th, 2019 at 10:26 pm

I returned late this evening from the Midwest. My dad is still in hospital, but will likely be discharged tomorrow. I returned home with a great sense of relief. When I left home, I had just been told that there was a high likelihood that he would die. I took my passport with me in case I had to fly home with his body. I didn't know how long I would be gone. I am back 9 days later. Thank God!

I also came home to a couple of nice surprises. The first was a very belated housewarming present from someone I know - a set of dishcloths, and a framed photo. The second was quite unexpected. It was a check for $91.94 from a class action settlement that I did not know that I was part of. A few weeks ago, my friend received a check and told me about it. The gas station chain BP was in a class action settlement for some undisclosed debit fee charges in Oregon and has been sending these checks to people who purchased gas in one of their ARCO gas stations in the state of Oregon. Had he not told me about it, I would have thought that it was weird that I got a check from a lawsuit that I did not know anything about. But, it was a good surprise to come home to. It's a nice big sum too.

My total costs for the trip were $899.46. Of that, $782.77 was travel/transport, and the rest was all food. The nice surprise check will go some way in alleviating the burden on next month's budget.

I also came home to a note that my mortgage servicing company is changing. GRRR. I know this happens a lot with mortgages. But, it is really inconvenient to keep making new accounts and setting up or cancelling auto-pays. Minor inconvenience, really. But, an inconvenience nonetheless.

For the most part, things here have survived. Much of my garden is on an automatic watering system. A friend came over to water the rest. My houseplants also mostly survived. I think my nerve plant, and a purple shield may have died. I watered them as soon as I got home. We'll see if they can be revived. Some lettuce and some herbs are looking like they may go to seed any time. I will prune them tomorrow or the day after. The first thing I did when I got home was to go into the garden and pick all my ripe cherry tomatoes - I have tons!

Here are the things that I am doing to celebrate my father's recovery and my sense of relief:

(1) Get a massage on Friday - I had to reschedule a massage anyway since I had gone out of town. But 9 days of sleeping on a hospital couch in my father's room and waking up every hour in the middle of the night when the nurses came to check on him while he was in ICU was brutal on my back and on my body.

(2) I bought myself a couple of pairs of pants and a couple of shoes that I wanted. I did need to buy these things anyway. But, they feel extra nice now because I can now allow myself to care about these things. For the past 10 days, everything other than Dad's life seemed so trivial.

(3) Not being at work, I lost track of days and only just realized that Monday is actually a holiday. It feels like a totally unexpected holiday!!!! I will go for a nice day trip somewhere.

(4) The second week of September, I had planned on taking a weekend break and going to the coast. I had budgeted for this already. I could change these plans and allocate that money elsewhere in my already tight budget for next month. But, I won't. I will go and enjoy myself and take pictures and send them to my father and tell him that I will go to those places with him the next time he comes to visit. He loves lighthouses, and I will take him on a tour of all the lighthouses on the Oregon Coast. I just want him to be alive and well, and to be able to see him again.

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.

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!

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.

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.

Updates

July 15th, 2019 at 10:00 am

I went on vacation and then things got busy and in the way of blogging.

Overall, I am doing well. Keeping under budget, and making good financial decisions overall.

I'm on track to pay off my last remaining credit card (currently at 0% APR) by December

Also on track to have EF at $6000 by the end of the year.

I am also making small extra payments towards the mortgage. I won't start making larger principal payments until mid-next year.

The cruise is nearly paid off just from savings from my monthly budget. I paid $400 towards it this month, which leaves a balance of $119.36 which I am sure I will be able to save from next month's projected budget. Doing this feels like a challenge of sorts - and makes me more motivated to find ways to save. This leaves extra money from my travel fund to put towards my airline ticket to Florida from where the cruise departs.

The garden is doing well. My squashes are still doing wonderfully well. I've harvested 45 zucchini already. Next year, I think instead of 4 yellow zucchini, I will plant one yellow zucchini, one green zucchini, and one pattypan squash. My snap peas and some tomatoes are also doing great. Two of my tomatoes look stressed and don't have any fruit on them yet. The rest are doing great. My beets succumbed to beet leaf miner. And for some bizarre reason my beans don't have a single flower on them - I have 6 pole beans and not a single flower or fruit. I don't know what is happening. Lettuce and herbs are doing great. I harvested all my radishes. My hot peppers and bell peppers are also doing well. My sweetmeat squash vine has 7 baby fruit on it. I don't know how many of them will actually be viable, but I anticipate getting at least three.

Tomorrow, I am going to talk with my supervisor and let her know that I want to quit my job by March of next year, and work out a transition plan to cut back my hours and train a replacement for my position. I am both nervous and excited. I have not had any new clients in a little while at my SE job, but I have to keep reminding myself that this is summer - and is a slow time. My plan is to have paid off my credit card, have $10K in EF, and another $10K in a global sinking fund, and have a new-to-me car purchased before I leave my current job for full time self-employment.

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.