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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.

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?