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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.

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.

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.

This and That

May 19th, 2019 at 07:42 pm

I just did my accounting for the weekend, and I had a relatively frugal weekend. The only spending was on the free-ish plants, lunch with my friend (the leftovers gave me enough for two more meals), grocery shopping, and some shopping for seeds/plants.

I also did accounting for my SE job since some payments posted this morning. If all goes as expected, it looks like I will take home $500 more this month than last month.

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I'm having a friend over for dinner this evening. This is the second time I've hosted someone in my new house, and it makes me happy each time to do so. For three years prior to that, I lived in a dingy apartment with almost no light, and I rarely had people over. Mostly, my friends who had more space were the ones who hosted. Now I want them to come over - I have the space to entertain. I also have another couple of friends coming over this weekend. However, I did not want to cook on a weeknight - I almost considered ordering in. Then, sound fiscal judgement prevailed and I went grocery shopping. Menu for today is fairly simple since it's dinner on a weeknight:
* Cucumber, Carrot, Sesame Salad
* Tofu/Veg Stir-fry w. Rice

My friend is bringing dessert.

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Immediately after I bought my house, I impulse shopped a lot of garden things. One of the things was two hydrangeas. I wanted hydrangea bushes in my front yard, and was at Walmart and saw bareroot pink hydrangeas. $5.97 each. I bought two. Impulsively. Without doing my research. I am an idiot!

I planted both. One died. The other is struggling. For some reason, it took me this long to research what kind they were. It turns out they are tree hydrangeas. GRRR. That's not what I wanted. I wanted the bushy kind. So, now I will have to dig this out and put in the right kind. $11.98 wasted. Do your research folks...

Someone on a local gardening group was giving away bamboo stakes. I got about 2 dozen of odd sizes. I used the tallest ones to make supports for my beans. I also made a trellis for my snap peas with them. I still have about 10-ish left that I might use to support other plants. I love free garden things. :-)

My honeysuckle died - I think it went into shock since we had two weeks of really hot days right after I planted it. So, I dug that out. However, my sweet peas are thriving, so I transplanted half of them to the honeysuckle trellis. My friend who is coming to dinner tonight gave me the sweet peas as a housewarming present. She'll be glad to see how well they're growing. I should have an abundance of fragrant flowers later this summer. I want to be the kind of grownup that has cut flowers in her home every day. Growing my own flowers will help me do that frugally.

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Over the weekend, I got my annual statement for my retirement account from work. There was a loss of $834.48 this past year. I still have a little more than last year in the account due to the meager contributions that were made this year. But, looks like they invested in the wrong things. This is the first year since I have been vested that the retirement account shows a loss. So, it's not that bad, I guess.