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Archive for December, 2019

2019 Goals Met and Not Met, 2020 Goals and Beyond

December 28th, 2019 at 08:13 pm

My two main goals for 2019 were to pay down debt and to to lose weight. Unfortunately I yo-yo'd all over the place with my weight and still haven't gotten my act together. But on the debt pay down I excelled. I had planned to pay off $12,000 this year, but ended up paying off $16,000. I exceeded my goal by $4000. This is the first year in a long time that I have felt like I was making serious progress.

My goals for 2020 are:

1. Lose Weight and Go Back to the Pool.

2. Finish paying off the $9000 we owe by June. Sooner if possible.

3. Save $12,000 to the EF from July through December. That will put our EF close to three months of expenses. It will take one more month than I have in 2020 to get it there unless we get a windfall (and MIL has been giving us quite a bit).

4. Up retirement savings to 7% in July. Once the EF is met, I'd like to up it to 10%. There is also the possibility of a raise. When DH got the last one, they told him he wouldn't be up for another one before July 2020, so here's hoping he gets one even if it is just COL.

5. If I hit the EF amount before the end of this year we will be able to start saving up for a house. That will be a long process, though. We ought to be able to save $24K a year once the EF is up to snuff. The way house prices keep rising we need at least $75K for a down payment of 20%, but if we want breathing room in a mortgage payment I would want to double that. So we'd be at this for 6 years, maybe.

Used to be you could buy a house for $350,000 and now it is more like $450,000 to $650,000. This is just in the last five years. I would love to move to a low cost of living southern state once we retire. Just not one with crocodiles, snakes, and scorpions. The warmer weather would be better for my health.

Another option we might consider is to save up and buy a piece of land, then save up and put in a well, then save up again and put in a septic system. Once that is done, we could get a construction loan with the new, improved price for the land as collateral and build the house. We can still get land for about $35K for an acre in some parts of the county that are not too far from where DH works. A well is about $40K and septic is about $30K. Having it ready to go though, will increase the value of all of it from $105,000 to $150,000. Anyway it is something to think about as we get closer.

Monster Loan Down to 4 Digits

December 28th, 2019 at 02:07 am

$10,500.00 Balance Forward
-_1,500.00 Payment Made
$_9,000.00 New Balance

If I pay $1500 a month going forward, this will be paid off in June. If only $1000 it will be paid off in September. If I can manage $2000 it would be paid off in May. And the real stretch would be if we could pay $2500 a month it would be paid off in April.

Now all of these are technically possible, since I had budgeted $1000 a month to the medical fund that we will no longer need to be contributing to (at least through June) due to MIL's gift. But $2500 would be with no money going to eating out or fun. $2000 would be more doable unless I decide to beef up the EF a little bit. The other option is to raise our 401K contribution to 7% and see how that shakes out. I might also open a spousal Roth IRA. In addition, I might bump the food budget up $200 a month so we can have more organic meat choices again. We will see.

As I plot the budget for 2020 these are all things I am thinking about. Also my payoff months might also be affected by by how much of a tax refund we get. Regardless of my choice here, after it does get paid off the 401K will definitely be bumped up to 7% and possibly 10%.

Retirement Update

December 21st, 2019 at 04:30 am

In 6 days our retirement has gone up $766.99. I am really glad that at least so far the impeachment vote doesn't seem to have wrecked the stock market.

$16,148.46 401K
+_9,786.13 IRA
$25,934.99 Total Retirement

Money from MIL and Christmas Bonus

December 19th, 2019 at 08:45 am

MIL gave us a check for $6000 and the Christmas bonus was deposited for $911.26. The bonus was $1300 before taxes. I really wish they did not tax bonuses at 25%. I mean, maybe if your bonus is in the 5 digits, or even mid to high 4 digits, but when it isn't even the amount of a paycheck? The government is irritating at times. I know we'll get a better tax refund due to them taking so much, but I'd really rather have it now and not when we get that back. I complain about this every year.

So plans for the money are to have DH get his crown, around $1000, and my chipped tooth repaired, around $300. Then we'll put $2000 into the Medical Fund. It is at a little over $1800 so this will give us enough money to cover the deductible and the out of pocket max between this and the FSA. We'll put $2000 into the Emergency Fund, save some of the money for our romantic getaway in March for our 25th wedding anniversary, and order a few things I have been putting off.

Then since we won't have to be paying anything into the Medical Fund for next year after this coming payday, we will take the money that we were paying into that to pay on debt. DH and I have an agreement that we won't use money from his mom to pay the debt to my mom. That's not what it is for and it is not why she gave it to us. She wants us to use it for medical, for vacation, and to beef our EF back up.

I'm not sure where we are going yet for our trip, maybe the same place as in September, but it won't be far from home. I think we will just buy some really good food to take with us and a good skillet (can't trust what is in the rentals to not be warped). I am thinking some ribeye steaks, some crab or shrimp or lobster, potatoes, and good vegetables for dinners, bacon, toast, and eggs for breakfasts, and sandwich fixings or burgers for lunches. We both like my cooking better than restaurants and DH helps with the chopping and peeling for dinner and makes breakfast so it doesn't all fall on me.

I am very relieved to get this money, though. It takes a lot of the stress for next year away in one fell swoop.

Retirement has popped up a lot over the last couple of days, but after the vote last night, I am waiting to see what the stock market does when I get up in the morning before I update it. I just hope it doesn't put us back under $25K, though it was almost to $26K today before the vote.

Getting Ready for Christmas

December 15th, 2019 at 05:45 am

We didn't make it to Costco today, so we will try tomorrow. Instead we got our Christmas tree put up. Well, not our good Christmas tree, but one we got on clearance at Lowe's for $55.00. It was one of their floor models. It's a simple four piece tree that comes prelit with both plain bulbs and multi-colored bulbs. They are bright, but then all LED lights are. It's nice to set something up so quickly, especially since our good, big tree is in the back of the storage unit.

We used Mom's ornaments as ours are also in the back of the storage unit. Then DS set up one of his trains underneath the tree. It looks really nice through the front widow and adds to the Christmas lights in the yard from the road. I'm trying to convince Mom to put up her giant wreath above the mantle, but not sure I'm going to get her to dig it out. It's really beautiful and has a ton of decorations.

We haven't put up a big tree in several years. I have my little 2 foot tall tree that we don't even take the lights and ornaments off each year, just place it on the top shelf of the closet and then pull it down again when we need it. That's all we have been using. It's just a hassle when the space is limited. And Mom didn't want one at her end for the last couple of years, either. I wouldn't have put one up at all if she and DS hadn't decided they wanted one. It's hard to feel Christmassy in this house most years. I don't have a lot of Christmas spirit like I used to.

We need to pick up a real tree for MIL tomorrow and take it out there. I'm not even sure where to go since the stores aren't selling them this year and I haven't seen a boy scout lot either. There is a big fruit stand store that has sold them in the past so maybe there. I have seen several cars with them on top so someone is selling them. If worst comes to worst we can go pick one up at the tree farm near where we used to live. It's a bit of a drive, but I know they will have them there.

We have completed all of our Christmas shopping which is good. Everything has arrived in the mail or will arrive by Monday.

I did go and order some new bras since Lane Bryant was having a buy one get one 75% off sale on them. I paid $81.39 for 4. It would have cost 119.81 without the sale. Bras in the higher sizes are always so much more expensive for not really that much more material. Oh, well, it was a good sale with free shipping. Much better sale than the usual buy one get one half off sale.

Now all I have to do is order another set of new socks for me and DD and everyone should be set on clothes for a good while.

Retirement Hit $25K!!!

December 14th, 2019 at 09:34 am

I am so excited to have retirement hit $25K. It has been a rollercoaster month so the fact that it got here despite all the garbage that is going on in government this week is amazing.

$15,509.10 401K
+_9,648.50 IRA
$25,157.60 Total Retirement

My next happy dance moment will be when the IRA hits $10K on its own. Since we don't contribute to that one at all, it may take a while, but we'll get there.

Awesome Sale--Purchases--Ocarina Stuff--Computer Stuff

December 14th, 2019 at 07:32 am

I'll do a grocery rundown probably tomorrow after we've been to Costco, but there was a great sale at Fred Meyer today on Afrin. $4.99 a bottle. It is usually $10.99, so at this price we really stocked up. I got 10 bottles. We go through this stuff fast around here, due to allergies and colds. I know you aren't supposed to use it consistently, but my son and I are addicted to breathing so we do. None of the prescription nasal sprays work for us. Now we have a bit of a stockpile at a fantastic price.

I used some of my allowance money that I have been saving to order a tenor ocarina and a music book. I really like my bass one, and am progressing quickly, but it is a little too big for my hands, so I will probably pass that on to DH. I tried one of my son's tenor ones and it fits my hands a lot better. Although I am getting one that is less traditionally shaped, also, because it will be easier on my hands. It is shaped sort of like a spear head. It was modeled on the Adegan crystal (which I don't care about) and is hot pink. It's very pretty. This is what it looks and sounds like if you are curious about my latest musical obsession:

Text is and Link is and my current one looks and sounds like this minus the triforce symbol:
Text is and Link is

I was also tempted to get the 6 hole one that is shaped like a Tardis but it is in G Major, and all the song books are written in C Major. I may still get it for my birthday in February, just because I'm a Whovian from way back, but as a collector's thing more than a music thing. Although you can play Doomsday on it, so I might just learn to play that if it doesn't break my heart and that song easily does. Smashes it to bits and washes away the pieces with my tears.

Anyway the one I did buy and the 30 lesson music book cost a total of $87. Free shipping as they are having that until the 15th. I have $63 left of Christmas money, but I may just put it in my allowance folder and save it. I'm saving up for a new computer. Not hard or anything, just so that when this one goes I can replace it immediately. I reckon I probably have about a year left on it, assuming I don't spill anything on it. The DVD drive doesn't work and hasn't for about a year, which is annoying since I like to watch DVD's on my computer better than on a TV. And the mouse pad thing has been on the fritz for about 18 months so I use a regular mouse with my laptop.

I seriously think I may get a desktop this time. They seem to last a lot longer and the keyboards hold up to the amount of typing I do much better. I can't even count how many laptops I have worn the keys out on. Never had that happen on a desktop keyboard. I do like the convenience of a laptop, though. We'll see. I have quite some time yet to figure it out.

A Little Shopping, A Little Musing

December 12th, 2019 at 03:01 am

Not too much going on on the financial front today, but I did have to run to the store and spent $10.99. I had buy some breadcrumbs for the meatloaf I made for dinner tonight as I only had 1/3 cup and I needed a cup. They have stopped carrying the brand I normally have so I had to read all the ingredients on the different ones they had. We ended up going with Kikkoman as it only has four: wheat, salt, cane sugar, and yeast. Eventually I would like to find a good gluten free breadcrumb, but the one they had had xanthum gum which is derived from soy and triggers DD's soy allergy. I also picked up some of those Simply crunchy Cheetos for DD.

I still have quite a bit left in the grocery envelope, $100, and I refill it on Friday. I think that I will just get out $300 this time and throw the extra $100 into the Medical Fund.

Oh, we did find out what the bonus will be and how much additional (it's a percentage of income) they will put into the 401K, but we aren't allowed to talk about it until it has been issued. It's not quite as good on the money as last year, but still good. I don't remember what they put into the 401K last year. I'll have to ask DH. I think most of the bonus will go into the Medical Fund, though.

We still don't know if MIL is going to give us more money this year or wait until the start of next year or at all. That's why I'm throwing so much into the Medical Fund. I just want to be ready for it since DH needs a crown. Otherwise I'd throw it at the Mom loan which I still might if we find out from MIL before we get it.

I did order all the clothes I wanted last night. It is my Christmas present from MIL. I have a lot of shirts that I have been sewing up the holes in for a couple of years. They used to just be in the seams, but now the fabric is wearing out in other places. I love these shirts otherwise I would have replaced them long ago, but now I have to give up on them. So I went ahead and ordered 5 t-shirts and 6 long sleeved t-shirts. 4 of them are on back order, but that's okay, 3 of those were short-sleeved and what I need now is long-sleeved.

On the old shirts, I will cut off the backs and make them into handkerchiefs. We get to a point in the winter when our noses are too tender for tissues due to colds and having them is a Godsend. Or my other option would be to cut them into strips for a rug, but DH has yet to build my rug loom, so I don't see the point in that, although if he did than I could use the whole t-shirts.

I'm not even sure I'd want to take on a new project right now like making a rug since I am already typing a lot each week and learning to play a new instrument, though. I probably have enough on my plate as far as hobbies go.

Ocarina and Moringa

December 11th, 2019 at 03:28 am

Well, I'm learning a new instrument. My son talked me into buying a bass ocarina. It is a plastic one, not a ceramic one, because lighter is easier on the rheumatoid arthritis. An ocarina is a type of flute. It's shaped like a sweet potato though. If you play any of the Zelda games you've seen one. I have some experience with a regular flute and a one octave wooden flute and have messed around with the Tonette which is a one octave song flute as well.

It's also treble clef which is the same as the violin, strum stick, and the right hand on the piano and organ. Aside from the bass clef for piano and organ's left hand, I also know the alto clef for the viola. But treble is easiest to pick up a new instrument in.

I've done 4 lessons so far and can play a half dozen songs. I find it funny that no matter what instrument I have learned over the years they always start with Mary Had a Little Lamb and Hot Cross Buns. I've also mastered Ode to Joy (also early in every instrument), Frere Jaques, Long Long Ago, Jingle Bells, Gently Row, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and a couple others that I can't play at tempo yet, but can muddle through. Today will be my fifth day practicing and Brahm's Lullaby is in that lesson, so grown up music is coming.

When I do my new lesson, I always do all the songs from the previous lessons first and some of the fingering exercises. It helps to cement stuff in even as I move on to new lessons. I've found it is the best way for me to learn. I kind of do immersion when learning a new instrument.

One of the things that really helps me with this time of year and fighting seasonal depression is keeping my mind active and being challenged by something. That's why I tend to work on playing music or learning French more in the winter and early spring. I also take 5000 IU of vitamin D and use a happy light.

I started taking Moringa about ten days ago and it has made a huge difference with my RA symptoms. I also seem to be sleeping better, my skin is clearing up, and I have less muscle soreness from my fibromyalgia. It's not gone, but it is there. I am waking up feeling like I slept, which is really nice. I still tire out very easily and have to pace myself, but the enervating exhaustion is gone most days. I'm feeling better than I have in a long while. They tout it as a miracle tree, and I don't know about that, but it does help along with the Embrel and the Hydroxychloroquine.

And I've felt up to making meals a lot more often, too. Which helps with the food budget a lot. Tonight we are having herb baked chicken. Spice Islands has this Garlic Herb Seasoning that comes in a big container from Costco and it is our new go to seasoning.

I don't even miss Lawry's anymore or Paprika that much, which used to be our go to seasoning before my daughter had to quit using any spice that was hot (as opposed to warming like coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg). This stuff has been fantastic on chicken, beef, and salmon. I haven't tried it yet on pork or lamb or other types of seafood, but I can't imagine it won't be good. I've been looking for a long time to find an all purpose seasoning so this makes me very happy. It's the little things in life, you know?

Retirement Update

December 6th, 2019 at 02:35 am

$15,259.56 401K
+_9,478.38 IRA
$24,737.56 Total Retirement

$262.44 let to hit $25K.

Meal Planning for the Week

December 3rd, 2019 at 05:54 am

Garlic Herb Baked Chicken
Sweet Potatoes
Green Beans

Beef Stew with potatoes, carrots, celery, and parsnips

Chicken Stir Fry with broccoli, carrots, celery, cauliflower, cabbage

Sirloin Steaks
Baked Potatoes
Zucchini and Yellow Squash

DH's work Christmas party
Baron of Beef
Roasted Red Potatoes
Green Beans with Almonds
There are lots of other choices, but none of them appeal to me. The kids will fend for themselves.

Bacon Cheeseburgers
French Fries
Cole Slaw

Pork Roast smothered in Onions
Butternut Squash
Green Beans


December 2nd, 2019 at 07:26 am

We went to WalMart tonight to pick up some outdoor Christmas decorations. MIL's treat. They didn't have much left. I guess when you start selling Christmas stuff before Halloween, expecting there to still be a decent selection on December 1st is too much?

We got icicle lights in blue and white for the house's gutter line and porch peak and some bush blanket nets, some candy canes, and 4 little decorations (a cardinal, an angel, a star, and a Santa face) that we can attach to the deck or put on stakes in the yard.. We still need to go to Lowe's and pick out some more stuff. I'd like a nativity and a wreath.

Unfortunately all our outdoor decorations were stolen from MIL's house, which is why she's buying us new stuff. The really sad thing is I'll never be able to replace my son's rope light Christmas train, they just don't make them anymore, or my seal that was balancing a package on its nose that rotated. Or my penguin with the top hat. I was very attached to those.

We also picked up a phone charger for DH and a dual phone charger for the van and little Huskies (local college football team) nutcracker ornament for MIL.

Tomorrow my son and I will work on getting the bush nets on the bushes and attaching the lower set of icicle lights to the deck. I don't know if DS can do the gutter ones or if DH will need to do those. We can also attach the small decorations to the deck as well. I might have to run to Lowes for extra large zipties, though. While there I can see which big standees I might want, take photos, and have DH pick them up later. He is on his mom's card, I'm not.

After everything is in place we can then figure out the extension cord situation and the timer. We have a bucket of extension cords so those shouldn't be a problem. We may not turn the lights on for a week or so, because I want everything to be ready at once instead of lighting up a bit at a time. Now that it is finally December I feel like getting into the Christmas spirit.

Payday Report for 11/29/19

December 2nd, 2019 at 06:55 am

$346.83 Tithe
_400.00 Grocery Envelope
_500.00 Medical Fund
__75.00 Household Fund
__61.74 Life Insurance DH
__60.46 Life Insurance Me
_100.00 Gas Money
_100.00 Adults Blow Money
_120.00 Kids Allowances
_700.00 Christmas Fund
1000.00 Monster Mom Loan
3464.03 Total Money Out