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Archive for January, 2020: LuckyRobin's Personal Finance Blog
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Home > Archive: January, 2020
 

Archive for January, 2020

The Diet is Going Well and No Spend Days

January 19th, 2020 at 03:08 am

We haven't spent anything these last five days. When you can't easily get around town you don't tend to go out and purchase things. It's been a nice quiet weekend so far. The snow finally started melting. There are still patches of it, but you can also see patches of the ground and the road.

Of course with such a big snow melt, there is likely flooding in the county. There usually is. Hopefully it isn't too bad. We had about 10 inches in town so they probably had closer to a foot and a half. There are areas that often flood only ten miles from here. I'm glad I don't live in a flood prone area anymore.

My weight loss is going nicely. I have lost 10.4 pounds so far and this is day 6. I am doing a controlled carb intermittent fasting sort of thing. I have an 8 hour window within which I eat. I only eat two meals because I am not hungry enough to eat three when I control my carbs, but if I were to eat a third it would be protein only and within the window. At the first meal I eat only protein. At the second meal I divide my food into three equal parts. One part is protein, 1 part is low glycemic vegetables (lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, bell peppers, zucchini, green beans, cauliflower, radishes, cucumbers), and one part is a high glycemic vegetables (usually potatoes, onions, carrots, winter squash, or parsnips) or gluten free bread (in case I want pizza or a sandwich or flatbread) or rice. Rarely will it be fruit instead for the carb. If it is fruit it will be an apple or an orange. But I find the other fills me up better, so I've only had fruit once.

Too much fruit is a diet breaker for me, because basically it is just sugar in the body. I also make sure the carb meal is consumed within an hour. This has to do with insulin dumping and not getting that second insulin dump that happens about 1 hour and 15 minutes after starting to eat carbs if you are still eating them.

Two days a week I have a larger carb portion at that meal than usual. This helps me to stick to it better and not feel deprived. I am not so concerned with calories, just equivalencies, but the calories are generally between 1500 to 1700. This is the diet I was on in the past where I lost 70 pounds, so I know it works.

I have also increased my physical activity. I am now doing all the arm exercises with the resistance band from physical therapy again and not just most of the leg ones. I have two more leg ones I can add in when my ankle stops hurting. DH rubbed it last night and it is much better, but still not quite right. I think it might be out of alignment and need an adjustment by the chiropractor. I found some exercises I can do for my ankles with the resistance band, so will try to do those if they don't hurt too much.

I've also added just some simple ones I can do sitting down. Arm circles, waist twists, just reaching up for the ceiling, and punching forward. I still have to be careful with this because of my rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. The point is just to move my body as best I can. When it starts feeling easy I can add more reps. But slow and steady is the way to go with exercise for me.

Snowy and Cold and a General Mishmash

January 17th, 2020 at 04:11 am

It has been snowing for the past 4 days and it has been bitter cold. Today is a little warmer, but we got down to 17 degrees F, which is darn cold for here. We've had the furnace at 75 just to feel like it is 68 at the far end of the house from the furnace. We are all wearing layers inside. I have on a long-sleeved shirt with a short sleeved shirt on over it and then a long sweater over that, heavy sweats and heavy socks. I just think about how much it would be if we hadn't had the insulation replaced under our part of the house last month. I wish we'd put plastic on the windows when I wanted to, but it got put off.

The gas bill will be high this month. Electric will be a little higher, too, because we are using the space heater in the rabbit shed to keep the water bottles from freezing. And I know my mom has been using her space heater, too. And we did have Christmas lights on for 3 weeks.

DH has been able to get out and go to work. We had about 8 to 10 inches of snow and they haven't done a great job about plowing the roads. But he is used to driving in the snow due to all the years of working in Alaska. DH has been authorized to do 10 hours of overtime a week for next week and the week after that. He could have some this week, but he has a cold and isn't sure he is up for it. He's barely managing to get in his 8 hours a day at the moment. Hopefully next week he will be better and he can take full advantage of it.

The extra money would come in handy because I would like to get an electric grain mill and the one I am looking at costs $263 if I want the attachment for small grains like millet, and I do. It's a big upfront investment, but it is a whole lot cheaper to buy rice and grind it into flour than to continue to buy rice flour at high prices. Even with a bulk source it still isn't anywhere as cheap as just buying the different rices to make sweet rice flour, white rice flour, and brown rice flour, so it will eventually pay for itself. Pretty quickly, too, within the year. And as far as I can tell millet only comes in grain form, not flour form so if I want millet flour I have to grind it myself. Sorghum flour I will still have to buy in bulk unless I can find a source of the grain itself, but I can deal with that.

Also both the husband the son need new belts and the son needs new farm boots. There should be some overtime money after that to throw at the mom loan or at the EF. I haven't decided quite yet. Of course, I won't count on it until he's worked it, but tentatively that's the plan.

On my weight loss goal I have lost 5.4 pounds since starting to eat right again. Today is day 4. I am tracking my calories and food with my fitbit. I am doing about 20 minutes of exercise a day. I will be working up to 30. I lost all of my stamina when I was in bed for 3 weeks and have been working at getting it back for the last week. They are careful exercises from my physical therapy time, ones that work with my rheumatoid arthritis and not against it.

DH said the IRA went over $10K today, so that was a nice milestone that happened. I have been anxiously awaiting that moment so I am glad it finally got here.

I've been kind of lazy about planning my meals out this week. Mostly I've just been taking meat out of the freezer to thaw in the fridge and then deciding what I am going to cook based on what has thawed out and then figuring out what is going to go with it. I usually like to plan better than that, but I'm still not up to snuff after being so sick for so long. I guess whatever gets homemade food on the table instead of takeout works, right?

Tonight I made meatloaf for dinner and roasted potatoes, bell peppers, and onions, with a bag of steamed broccoli on the side. It was my first time using gluten free bread crumbs. I didn't notice any difference in flavor at all, so that is nice. It didn't quite hold together as well as usual, but that might be down to the fact I only used 3 eggs instead of 4 and had an extra pound of meat in the mix, so I probably should have actually used five eggs for a five pound meatloaf (leftovers for lunches). Everything tasted great, though, even if it was a little messy to eat.

Well, I think that about wraps it up for today. If you all could pray for me that I start sleeping better, I'd appreciate it. Too many restless nights are running me down.

Retirement Update

January 14th, 2020 at 05:17 am

$17,248.25 401K
+_9,977.80 IRA
-------------
$27,226.05 New Total

We are up $725.48 since the end of the year, $440 of which was contributions, so $285.48 in gains.

USPS Lies

January 14th, 2020 at 02:35 am

I hate it when USPS flat out lies about attempting to deliver a package. Got an email 10 minutes after their supposed attempt to deliver. There are five people at home. Our road is free of ice. The driveway and sidewalk are shoveled. There was one person sitting in the room attached to the front door. The front curtains were still opened and you could see the person who was sitting there. It was obvious people were home from the three vehicles in the driveway. The door bell never rang and no one knocked. No attempt was made to deliver this package. This is not the first time this has happened, either. I hate when stuff comes by USPS because they are just such liars. I know the truth. They over-committed someone to deliver and had too much stuff and ran out of time. It's like they think we are stupid.

Amazon Order of Bulk Flours Came

January 13th, 2020 at 09:09 pm

Yesterday was such a lazy day for me. I pretty much stayed in bed under the electric blanket and read. I still have no stamina. I wonder if I was on the antibiotics long enough?

It snowed yesterday and it is still around today, but it is not very much. Maybe 1/2 inch if that. I hope it goes away soon. The older I get, the more I hate snow. I mean, I appreciate its beauty, but nothing else about it. It just makes everything extra cold and the roads hard to drive on. I used to love it when I was a kid, but now when I see snow, I think "Get off my lawn!" as if it were a recalcitrant child and I an old fogey.

My Amazon order came yesterday, too. Well, part of it did. It is still weird having things delivered on Sunday. I got a bucket white rice flour, a bucket of tapioca flour, a bucket of potato starch, a 3 lb bag of sorghum flour, and a 3 lb bag of extra fine sweet rice flour (that's more for cakes and pastries). The latter two came in paper bags. The first four are for the master flour recipe. I already had xanthan gum.

So today I will make up the master flour recipe and put it in the stainless steel canister I also ordered for that purpose. It should hold two batches of the flour recipe based on volume. Then I will make up the master dough recipe and go from there.

I really like the little one gallon buckets some of the flours came in. They are light enough for me to manage and air tight. I think as I finish them off I will transfer the flours that don't come in buckets to those buckets and relabel them. They all stack, so they will take up less space that way, and I won't have to deal with all the plastic bags. I should go through the white rice flour fairly quickly as that is what is used in the greatest quantities.

I am still waiting on a couple of things from that order, including the bucket opener, but I can use a paint can opener on them as well. I also got some pure palm shortening for making biscuits and a stainless steel ice bin for the freezer that should come today. The bucket opener isn't slated to arrive until February 3rd! Ridiculous. Prime has spoiled me.

I spent about $202 on the entire order, but in the long run, buying in bulk is much cheaper. The ice bin was pricey and so was the canister, but you can't beat stainless steel for durability and longevity. We try to keep away from plastic (especially single use plastic) as much as we can. It is not always possible, but we do our best to use glass, ceramic, wood, and stainless steel when we can. It is definitely hard with these specialty flours, because most of them do come in plastic. And plastic does keep out bugs and larvae, generally, so it is a trade off.

I guess as long as I am mindful about is, that is the best I can do.

Library Excursion

January 12th, 2020 at 05:36 am

I finally made it to the library today to do my favorite thing, save money on books. I picked up four novels and 3 cookbooks. The one that I am interested in the most is Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I can tell already that this will highly likely be a book that I actually buy if we like the end product of the recipes. I have three weeks to make these recipes and make that decision. It's a $30 book so not a decision I will make lightly.

It's a real catch all of gluten-free baking. I have been baking homemade breads and pastries for decades, but this is like learning to be a good baker all over again. The skill set is different. Fortunately this book seems to teach the skill set along with the recipes. Probably one of the reasons it is so highly recommended for beginners on Amazon. This is really something I want to get good at, because a loaf of Udi gluten free bread is very expensive, is only half the number of slices of bread as a regular loaf of bread, and those slices are also smaller. Making my own will save a lot of money in the long run, even if the ingredients are still quite expensive compared to wheat flour. I am finding bulk sources, though, to lower those costs.

I also have an apocalypse fic to read for pleasure, which is one of my favorite genres. I was supposed to read it last month for my book group, but the person who had it checked out had it overdue for 3 weeks despite my hold. Rude. Can't wait to take that into the bathtub and escape life for a while. I think one of the reasons why I like this genre so much is that they always have it worse than me, so I end up being grateful for my life even if it is one lived in chronic pain. Because, you know, at least I have electricity and the internet.

Little Catch Up Blurb for Yesterday

January 10th, 2020 at 09:48 am

Not too much happened yesterday. I am a little bit better with the sinus infection today than yesterday, but still am not sleeping as well as I had hoped I'd be by now. Hence the 1:40 a.m. post. Are they ever going to fix the time stamp in the blogs? I've asked about it a few times. It's not been right for months. And still no icons. Anyway, my hip is acting up again because I spent so much time in bed and the chiropractor being on vacation for two weeks over Christmas. I've had 3 visits and it still keeps jamming up and it messes with my knee and ankle, too.

We did do a small grocery run for milk and fruit yesterday with money from last paycheck's grocery money, but other than that and some gluten free flours I will get tomorrow, I think the grocery budget won't be used too much this pay period unless there is a tremendous meat sale. I'll do a grocery tracking post when I am done with the shopping.

I am going to deposit what was left in the grocery money to the EF tomorrow. I want to get back into the habit of doing that again.

Monster Mom Loan Payment

January 10th, 2020 at 09:37 am

$9000.00 Balance Forward
-1000.00 Payment Made
---------
$8000.00 New Balance

Payday Report for 1/10/20

January 10th, 2020 at 09:35 am

So the new paycheck amount with the FSA money being taken out of it is $105 and some change, but the difference in paycheck amount is $87 and change because more being taken out pretax affected it post tax. That's not bad at all. We did get the FSA debit card thing sorted out. It was because it was Walgreens and they have sell other things, so we had to make sure it was run as a pharmacy purchase. Anyway, I've done up all the bills already since I could see the pending paycheck amount. I have a bit of money to transfer to saving tomorrow, but other than that the bills and budget are done and the yearly budget is done. Here's the where it all went:

$318.63 Tithe
_500.00 Utilities
_400.00 Grocery Envelope
_100.00 Household Envelope
_280.00 Chiropractor
_111.08 Internet (gotta do something about this!)
__36.00 Garbage
_100.00 Car Insurance Fund
_100.00 Gas Money
_100.00 Blow Money (Adults)
_120.00 Allowances (Kids)
1000.00 Monster Mom Loan
------------
3165.71 Total Money Out

Planning for Future Medical Expense

January 8th, 2020 at 09:45 am

I got nothing done today except make dinner and go to the chiropractor. I just don't have the energy yet and I think I will have to take it easy for a few more days. We aren't out of clothes yet and the towels can wait another day to be folded. We'll survive. I just wish I wasn't so cold. Even under an electric blanket turned up to high and with a space heater going in my room, my hands and feet are like ice cubes.

Tomorrow I have to take DD to physical therapy or I wouldn't even leave the house. I really don't want to sit there for an hour, but she wants me at the first appointment. Some days I just want to clip those apron strings hard, but with a disabled child I never will.

Mom is driving us all crazy right now. She's arguing historical facts and also things the End Times are right now and no one wants to listen to her anymore. I have to limit how much time I talk to her right now because she's going through an irrational period.

I think after we have finished paying off our debt to her we are going to take all of the bills except her TV/phone/internet and just pay them directly. Right now we pay for all of the garbage and then are giving her $500 a month for gas, electric, and water/sewer. But she is constantly complaining about how high everything is. I mean, I think she contributes about $50 a month to it total for the joint bills during the cold season and nothing during the warm season, but she just goes on and on.

So if we just take them and pay them it will be one less thing for her to complain about and then she can keep that $50. We're thinking about $200 in rent, too, maybe. It will mean achieving our goals a little slower, but will be worth the down tick on all the unnecessary stress she puts on us and herself freaking out over a 31 day billing month being more expensive than a 30 day billing month. Heaven help the March after February freakout.

We may need to install a handicapped ramp off the back porch, too, which will cost $1000. Mom is having issues getting up and down stairs and DD and I would also use a ramp if we had one. Mom doesn't want to pay for it, so if we do we'll have to save up for it or take that future month's contribution to the EF to pay for it. We are going to be here another six years so it is not the end of the world if we have to pay for it ourselves. We will get the use out of it. RA is a degenerative disease so I know that it would be nice just for me, really. Although, I can still do stairs fine, I don't like them and go down them sideways.

Oh, well. It's 1:45 a.m. I need to get to bed.

Slowly Getting Better, Some Budget, Some Medical, Some Planning, Some Rambling

January 7th, 2020 at 09:56 am

I am still exhausted, but DS and I had enough stamina to get dishes done today. We got 4 loads done. Everyone was sick for the past week, even DH, though no one as bad as me. I took it in fits and starts, though. It is the first productive thing I have done, besides make dinner, in a while. Tomorrow I will try to tackle laundry. There are at least 3 loads of towels to fold (DH did manage that much) and I need to put away the pile of clean clothes on my bed. I am done with the prednisone but I never got the energy rush of the previous times. That's a bummer because I have been only getting a few hours of sleep due to it. It would have been better to be productive, but Oh well. I just have 4 days left on the antibiotics. I hope that kicks it.

DD has been off wheat for 6 days now and continues to improve. DS's acne is clearing up. Neither one is having stomach issues at all and DD has not felt the constant nausea she's had for the past couple years, either. Can it really be so simple that this was what made her digest so slowly and painfully and bloat to a rock hard stomach? She doesn't have celiac at all, they tested for it, but obviously she does have an issue with wheat, otherwise stopping it would not have been so positive for her. If this is all it takes to stay out of the ER and stop spending so much of our medical budget on it, that's a miracle in itself.

Speaking of medical, it's weird to start having to spend for it again. We maxed out in July, I think it was, and everything had been free since. I know a few months of DD's physical therapy, which she starts on Wednesday will eat up a large portion of the deductible. Our HSA card is not working as they said it would. They said we could start using it on January 1st, up to the full amount of the yearly draw, but when DH tried to use it for 2 prescriptions, less than $25 total, but it didn't go through. He's going to try to get that sorted out tomorrow. We may just end up submitting everything each month, which will be a pain, but whatever.

Once I see what the exact new amount is of the Friday's paycheck on Thursday (things will change a bit due to the HSA withdrawals), I can complete my 2020 budget template and my January budget. They are pretty much the same, I will just be adjusting a bit. I think it is around $113, but it will also affect that amount of tax taken out, so I've got it roughly, just not perfectly. I prepared that part before Christmas, I think.

Tomorrow I will catch up the Medical Fund savings account by entering it all into the spreadsheet. I've let is slide, just making sure there was a hefty balance on the things we did buy, mostly OTC meds. Nowhere near the balance of nearly $2000 (haven't transferred the other $2000 in there, still in the online account), but now I have to reconcile the account. Which is fine.

DH and I really need to get on the ball to figure out our 25th Wedding Anniversary getaway. I was too tired to look at places, but it's mid-March, so maybe tomorrow. He has done some preliminary looking. All I really know is I want to be near a view of the water.

I also want DH to take me out to dinner for my 50th birthday mid-February. It will be a week after my mother's shoulder surgery so the kids will stay home to take care of her. I want a good ribeye or prime rib, a sweet potato, and either mixed veggies or their salad. Not their broccoli, they don't cook it long enough, and no bread. I don't want to have to cook myself so we will just go to Outback one county over.

I need to try to get myself to the library tomorrow. I haven't had a book since before Christmas, not that I could focus for long, but it has still been driving me crazy. I was so out of focus, I could not even concentrate on a movie plot. Watched a lot of mindless stuff, like Say Yes to the Dress, I Didn't Know I was Pregnant, and Paternity Court on Youtube. Yesterday, I was finally able to switch to documentaries and a movie (action adventure, so straight-forward plot).

Learning to Be Gluten Free in 2020 plus Health Update

January 3rd, 2020 at 08:41 pm

I dragged myself to the doctor on Monday and after 4 days on antibiotics and prednisone, I am starting to see a minor improvement. I had some wheezing in my upper chest, that wasn't quite bronchitis and a massive sinus infection. I waited too long to go, but I always think it is just a cold that never leaves. I am sleeping a lot, but in fits and starts. That's the prednisone. It always messes up sleep. I am starting to get a little strength back though, and my desire for real food instead of take out has come roaring back.

I did manage to make dinner two nights in a row, beef stew with gluten free flour for the gravy, and herb baked chicken, herb roasted potatoes (different herbs), and broccoli last night. Tonight's dinner is loaded baked potato soup, although I might make steaks on the side. Usually I don't, but that can be a very carb heavy meal if I just go with the bacon as the only protein source. It depends on how much energy I have. This will be my first time making it using gluten free flour in the roux. The stew gravy went well, though, so I can't imagine the roux will be bad.

I baked my first loaf of gluten free bread last night. It turned out pretty well despite me leaving out the sugar. I was wondering why it took so long to rise, but the yeast didn't have any sugar to eat. Next time it should rise in the allotted time frame. I didn't realize until I tasted it that I had done that, but when I thought back to it, I didn't remember putting sugar in with the warm water and yeast to proof it. It still bubbled without the sugar, so I know the yeast was active, just it would have been more active with it.

It looks like bread and it tastes like bread and is nice and soft, but I can definitely taste the eggs in it. I don't usually make egg breads. There are other recipes I will be trying to, but I will do this one again properly first. The interesting thing about gluten free bread is that if you cool it upright on a rack the top will sink, but if you cool it on it's side, rotating it occasionally, the top doesn't sink. Also, you have to wait three hours for it to cool before slicing it. Slice it sooner and it will crumble, but that goes away completely with the cooling time. I did a lot of research before starting this journey.

I will be attempting gluten free pizza dough tomorrow. I may do one with gluten free flour instead of two and do the second one with cauliflower crust. The second I know is good. On the agenda for when I feel a lot better will be learning how to make gluten free cookies, brownies, and cakes. Not often, though. Just on occasion. There is a birthday in February (mine) and March (DS's) that I want to make gluten free cakes for and I want to make sure they taste good first so I will have to experiment a bit.

DH and I need to start looking for a place to go to for our little holiday getaway for our 25th wedding anniversary in March. We don't want to go too far away, within a couple hours driving distance, but I am not sure if we want to go back to the place we were at before in March. It has quite a steep hill down to it and there is often snow on the ground still in March in that area so it might make it hard to get back up out of there and we don't have chains for the van. I do want to be by the water, though. It really recharges my batteries.

End of Year Retirement Update

January 1st, 2020 at 12:21 pm

Our retirement accounts went up $565.58 since I last checked them which was on payday, I think. Just wanted to know how we closed out the year. After a year and a half of throwing 5% at the 401K to get the free matching we have done pretty well. And we'll be able to bump that to 7% in another 6 months or so, and once there that pretty much leaves us in a great place for taxes, assuming no one plays games with the tax code again or I don't finish my book and sell it this year.

$16,678.57 401K
+_9,822.00 IRA
---------------
$26,500.57 Total Retirement Balance

I guess it actually went down some Monday according to DH, but it all came back and left friends behind. I am glad we have made so much progress on building for retirement. We are so far behind, but we do need to get caught up as soon as we can manage it. That and save, save, save money.