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Archive for February, 2019

Brussel Sprouts

February 23rd, 2019 at 04:54 am

I don't even remember where I saw it, but I saw a recipe for brussel sprouts with balsamic vinegar. I thought that sounded really good, but poked around for a more positively reviewed recipe. I found a winner:

Text is https://keviniscooking.com/roasted-brussels-sprouts-balsamic-vinegar-honey/ and Link is
https://keviniscooking.com/roasted-brussels-sprouts-balsamic...

Yum!

In other randomness, we made it through African Queen and Duck Soup. Our weekend is busy, so I am guessing that is all we will get to. But we are getting caught up on "Top 100" movies.

Tonight we are going to the Symphony. I expected to drop expenses like this with my pay cut. Not a huge adjustment, as we were just getting to a point where we could add these kinds of expenses to our budget. But I've had so much side work, we splurged. Tonight is Gershwin, Rhapsody in Blue. I am so excited!!

Checking In

February 18th, 2019 at 09:28 am

Step 2 of reset: Getting some time off!

I still am not optimistic that I won't end up knee deep in some emergency. *sigh* But... I do have the week off!

I am no longer drowning in everything, so it should be a good mix of catching up on some things and relaxing. I did basically nothing the last two days. Absolutely nothing on my plate. Catching up on some sleep and relaxation. Tomorrow I will start working through my To-Do lists. But I think I can do so at a very relaxed pace.

After 20 years of "no time off" December through April, I am also just enjoying the novelty of the time off. We also planned a long weekend at the beach, for April. Would have preferred to do mid-week, but the kids don't have any time off together except one Friday. (IT's crazy expensive, will probably be pretty crowded, and so my first impression is that I haven't been missing much. But I still really look forward to going to my special place).

As I turned my attention to my household this weekend, I decided to buy some plastic bowls to replace the old hand-me-downs we use for feeding the cat. Those things must be 30-years-old. I've never bought any cat food bowls before. They were looking pretty sad, so that was a nice and inexpensive upgrade.

I also took MM to Ross and Target Saturday for some new clothes. We did not spend much at all.

I haven't watched any movies in several weeks and I know I owe MH big time. We are still watching the "Top 100" movies. I think we got stuck on a couple of very long movies. Will probably get through Lord of the Rings today. Then we have a few super depressing movies to get through. Hopefully things pick up a bit after that.

I'd like to try to blog more, but admit it's pretty low on my priority list at this point. Will see.

Gift Card Balances Feb 2019

February 18th, 2019 at 06:44 am

Just tracking my gift cards. Not *all* credit card rewards, but most of them are.


GIFTS:
------
$ 20 x4 Target


MOVIES:
--------
$25 Regal?


RESTAURANTS:
------------


RETAIL:
---------


Note: Edited over time to remove used gift cards.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In this case, none of these are credit card rewards.

I was just thinking that we had run through all our gift cards. Not sure if someone else was talking about gift cards or why I Was thinking about it. But I haven't done any (one-time) credit card rewards in a long time. I did some easy travel one last year for our road trip, but that's about it. I didn't have any room in my brain for one more thing, that is for sure. But I was thinking about it and I have been wanting to do a specific $500 reward (gift cards) for a while. They had increased the "spending for bonus" to $4,000, so that was the other reason I have been hesitating. But I have $3,000 in medical bills due, so the timing would be good. (I usually just run up these rewards with health insurance, other big insurance bills, and medical bills).

I applied for the card and it wasn't an immediate approval, which is super weird. Will see...

January Savings

February 10th, 2019 at 09:13 am

I am reviving my "monthly savings" posts. I abandoned last year because I knew I would just be in hoarding cash mode. Not very exciting. But in the end, I didn't have time for this, so probably for the best. Going forward, I should have time to keep up with these:

Received $67 bank interest for the month of January.

Snowflakes to Investments:
--Redeemed $0 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.
--Redeemed $83 cash back on Citi card.
--Redeemed $10 cash back on dining/gas card.

Other snowflakes to investments:
--$5 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)
--$8 "Price Rewind" for washer/dryer purchase

TOTAL: $106 snowflakes to investments

401k Contributions/Match:
+$686

Snowball to Savings:
+$ 500 MH Paychecks
+$1,500 December work for old/forever employer

TOTAL: $2,000 snowballs to savings

Savings (From my paycheck):
+$ 550 to cash (mid-term savings)

Mid-Term Savings (cash saved for non-annual expenses/emergency):
-$0 No Mid-Term Expenses this month

Short-Term Savings (for non-monthly expenses within the year):
+$1,400 to cash
-$ 800 Home Insurance

TOTAL: $4,000 deposited to cash and investments

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I had been putting $300/month to savings and investing $250/month into taxable investments. I just combined these to "savings" for 2019. We are "retirement heavy" with more retirement space and new job situation. If nothing else, will eventually be redirecting that $250/month to our IRAs. Will abandon taxable investments, except for snowflakes.

I like to put snowflakes to either the mortgage or taxable investments, because it's a "small things add up" thing, and if we keep it in cash I have no problem not touching it, but at some point when you have an extra thousands of dollars laying around you will be tempted to spend it. So I always tie up snowflakes in things I won't touch. I am going to fund retirement regardless, so that leaves taxable investments or mortgage.

On the income front, I traded $11,500 reduced salary for $7,500 401k contributions/match and significantly reduced taxes. Just means we can fund 401k with $7,500, without reducing our cash flow at all. So I am really only short $4,000 net; $4,000 less going to retirement. I expect to easily make that up this year with raise/bonuses. (& I've already made that up with side income, but more long term I'd let to get my net salary where I left off, with just the one job).

I've also lost the OT, which we were throwing at the mortgage. So we will stop mortgage pre-payments for the short run. We may stop indefinitely. We just want to pay cash for our next home when we downsize and we have achieved that goal (we have enough equity to do so: $300,000+). But we don't want to make this move until our kids are adults and done with high school. For now, we would rather fund our IRAs, and otherwise hoard cash for college and a down payment on our next home (we expect to buy our downsize before we sell this home, the down payment will keep things more flexible). That's our plan for now, but I do expect things to change significantly in the next 5 years. It's a very loose plan, but just to explain why the mortgage will fall off our radar for a while.

We are doing well on extra cash/side income, but we also want to fund our IRAs (in addition to the above retirement savings). We have three cars now, both kids need braces, college is right around the corner, we have some home improvements to tend to, etc. Oh, and the down payment we want to work on. We are going to be in "hoard cash" mode with the extra income.

We've also already maxed out our medical deductible for the year. I don't expect this side income to really remain in our account very long.

P.S. If it isn't not obvious, our emergency funds remain entirely intact. I did not end up having any time off work, beyond what was covered by PTO owed to me.

This & That

February 9th, 2019 at 03:02 pm

I just did a shorter, "Life is still a disaster" post, because I didn't want to write a novel, and not sure if I will even have time to post this anyway.

So this is moving off that topic (I'd rather blog about anything else) and giving some other general life updates.

Overall, things should be getting better on the work front. January was pretty harsh with deadlines, and then last weekend I tried to wrap up as many clients as I could, getting them switched over to "twin" and her new firm. I've made leaps in that direction and maybe only have a few more hours of side client work. Between that and taking some time off the rest of the month, I don't expect to do any work for old/forever employer this month. There is some deadlines but I decided and told them many weeks ago that I am not participating in February deadlines. At the time, I was being choosy about the type of work I was accepting, but now I also just want to take some time off.

I will probably help them in March/April, but I won't have all these side clients in addition to that, and I am not entirely sure at this point. I will re-evaluate in another few weeks.

**MM(15) did get his driver's permit and that is going well.

**My old gym (which was totally awesome) ended up closing and transferring my membership to some really crappy gym. Ugh!

This is one of those things I have been super indecisive about. I thought very seriously about investing in an elliptical a few years back. (Okay, so I looked it up in my blog and that was *six* years ago):

The elliptical is okay. I can see the benefits, and it is thankfully quiet, but doubt it will entice me to quit the gym. I tried... I just don't want to invest the money, man power, hassle and space to get a gym-quality machine. & I won't be happy with anything less. This is making my $15/month gym membership seem extra valuable. So for that, it is all good.

I should back up and say I have bad knees, and pretty much just go to the gym to use the ellipticals. But... I just never wanted a giant piece of gym equipment. But I don't know how else to do cardio, which I *need* for my sanity.

In evaluating my current level of unhappiness, I know a key point is fixing my gym membership. I don't have a lot of options at this point, so was considering something much more expensive. Which is hard because I just took a $20,000 gross pay cut. But I was starting to think the investment would be worth it, regardless.

In the end, I decided to go for the gym equipment. I was too cheap and space conscious last time, and I probably really didn't have the means anyway. Not in a way that I wold be comfortable with. But I will probably bring in $3,000 side income this month and decided the one thing I probably should invest in is better gym equipment.

The deed is done. We went to a used equipment place today and bought a piece of equipment for about $800. It's really heavy duty/high quality (retails $4,000) new). If I am not happy with it for any reason, they will take it back the first 30 days.

In any other situation we probably would have shopped around more, but I didn't feel like I had the time. They had something exactly what I wanted. They will deliver it today. I am more than happy with that.

I know if I fix this, my mood will improve significantly. This is probably step one in my "reset": Getting some more consistent exercise.

Oh, and if you were wondering... I believe the last elliptical was in the $300 range (new) and that I gave it to MH's grandmother. Money well spent. She loves it and uses it every day. She is in her 90s.

Checking In

February 9th, 2019 at 03:00 pm

My life is still an unrelenting roller coaster. I don't know that there's any better way to describe it.

MH just got the medical all clear (his latest brain scans show no brain tumor growth. Phew!) But this was after a period of up/down, up/down. They found something else on his brain scan this time (AGAIN) and so that was a whole ordeal.

I got to enjoy the "it's nothing" news for literally about 1/2 hour when my mom called to tell me that my sister was in the hospital and starting dialysis. She was diagnosed with failing kidneys a few years ago, and so it's no surprise. I honestly never expected her to make it to 30, and this diagnosis came after she turned 30. Nothing would surprise me as to bad medical news. But, she's on the opposite coast and tells us very little, so it's been like playing telephone. In the end, she's not in the hospital and she's not starting dialysis. But it sounds pretty bad. Not sure if she can keep her job, etc. Her husband is a Federal employee, so that makes everything all the worse. Then her and my mom were fighting a couple of days ago. (Because she's clearly lying to us and nothing she tells us is adding up). UGH! I think this marks the end of a long period of peace on that front. Even though the truth is fuzzy, I think she's being honest when she tells us her health has taken a bad turn and she hasn't been able to work for 3 weeks. It's the details that are fuzzy.

Absolutely everything I touch is a disaster, so it's everything big and small. It's been this way for 12+ months at this point. I signed up for the Ally bonus, but they never sent me any follow up e-mails after the first one, and I didn't get the bonus. It's on my infinite to do list of things to get fixed. I am due $100-ish. I signed up for a tax class and somehow put it in MH's name. ????? (NO IDEA!) By itself, maybe I could laugh it off, but when so many people around you are dying form some horrible disease, or grieving, it's just been so overwhelming. These are just a couple of examples. I swear the list is endless.

So that's a quick sum up of my life right now.

The new job is going really well, and the money side of things is also going really well. Too well. MH and I are both drowning in work. Which is part of the problem. But our big financial motivation has always been so that we can focus on things that matter. If my sister really does take a turn for the worst and my parents need my support, I wouldn't think twice about quitting second job.

Anyway, that is the very brief sum up of the past 4 or 5 emotionally draining weeks since I last posted. I will try to get to a separate post of some more of the minutiae. But I didn't want to post a novel and not sure I will ever get to that.