Home > Archive: November, 2023

Archive for November, 2023

Cardiologist Follow Up, Next Year's Deductible, More 401K Talk

December 1st, 2023 at 01:18 am

I finally made it to the cardiologist for my second follow up appointment after my procedure during the summer.  I had to cancel once because I had the flu, ironically 2 weeks after getting my flu shot.  I had a pretty severe case of it.  I was well for ten days only to get slapped down with Covid the Sunday before Thanksgiving.  So that makes two Thanksgivings in a row ruined by Covid.  But I tested two days before my appointment and I was negative so I was able to keep my appointment and go.  I still feel cruddy, but way better than last week, so there you go.  It's more like a cold now.

I finally got a name for my condition.  It's called microvascular dysfunction and I was born with it.  Normally, I would have probably been fine with it my entire life, other than the difficulty they had finding a blood vessel big enough to draw blood from or start an IV in (there is one in my arm and one in one hand), but when I got Covid last year, it caused the right chamber of my heart to become enlarged.  With the right meds and watching my salt and restricting my water, we are hopeful that we have helped with reducing that back to normal size.  I know I have felt a huge difference with the reduction of salt.  He is letting me up my water a little bit more and my brain feels better already.  It's just 8 ounces more a day, but it is a big difference to me.

He said my heart sounded really good, so hopefully that means we have also fixed the flow rate on the other chamber of the heart, too.  He said both things can be fixed or at least drastically improved.  Well, the first thing can be completely fixed.  The flow rate on the other side depends on the salt intake and the amount of water in the blood, because of the microvascular dysfunction, which I will always have.  You can not make tiny veins and arteries any bigger.

So I will have an echocardiogram on the 12 of January to see how everything is doing and if there is an improvement with the meds and the dietary changes.  I hope I get the female technician this time.  The male is kind of a jerk with a really bad bedside manner.  It's not really the sort of thing you can request.  They only let you request that for a mammogram.

Speaking of mammograms, I got my annual letter to go and get one.  I don't always get them annually.  I should, since my mother had breast cancer at 40.  I usually get them at least every 2 years since I was 40.  This year, since the doctor did a blood test for cancer earlier this month, and it was negative, I'm not really feeling it.  The only reason they did it was because they were unsure of some markers they were seeing, but it is the same old, you have another as of yet undiagnosed autoimmune disease that isn't lupus or any of the other common ones to go along with your rheumatoid arthritis and you are massively inflammed right now with some kind of infection.

And I said, "No, duh."  Well, no I did not.  I said, "That's what my rheumatologist said," which is also what I said before they took the blood test, but you know doctors.  Turned out yes, there was some kind of massive infection, because the next night I dropped like a rock with Covid.  So then I had to call the doctor's office and they had to call the lab that is part of their office and let everyone I had come into contact with know they were exposed to Covid most likely.  That was fun.

So anyway, it will be fun to see who eats up the deductible first this year.  DD has her surgery scheduled on January 5th, my echo is on the 12th, and my son may or may not get his testosterone implant in January.  If we are lucky it will be in December still 100% covered.  DH did sign up for the HSA debit card this year, so at least we will have that.  Which I need to remember will lower the paycheck.  We've had a year without that deduction.

I have to take that into account when thinking about the 401K deduction.  Think I'll definitely have to go 17%, not 18%.  I still think we will make it, though, since we almost did with 16% and that was with DH only having the raise amount from the end of July on.  Actually, I didn't consider that.  I may have to run the numbers again.  I'll do that after we get his last paycheck and I know exactly how much he earned this year.

I wonder if there is a way to just have a dollar amount withdrawn from each paycheck instead of a percentage.  I don't see it as an option of something we can do on our end, we can change the percentage to whatever we want whenever we want, but if there is a way for his employer to make it a dollar amount out of every paycheck, then we could make sure we got the max next year without having to stress over it towards the end of the year.  That would be nice.  Then it would be $1153.85 each check with the last check of the year evening out the odd penny here or there.  It would be about $160.85 more than we are putting in now with each check, but that is doable if we keep ourselves on budget.  I'll have DH look into this further.

I'll have to have him get me his approximate gross income for this year, too, so I can base my calculations on that.  I know what his gross income is supposed to be going forward, but if I can figure out how much overtime he has worked this year on top of base salary, it will make it easier for me to estimate the percentage I need to use next year based on the full year at the higher salary, plus overtime, and not just 14 paychecks out of 26.  The overtime will continue into next year, and will probably increase and they are talking about another COL raise, too, which may or may not happen, but wouldn't go into effect until July anyway if it does happen.  The on in July was 3%, so would probably be similar.  I guess we will see.


Close to Maxing Out 401K and Net Worth Update

November 30th, 2023 at 05:05 am

We are getting close to maxing out on the 401K.  We've already hit the normal max out, but since DH is over 50, we are going for the catch up amount, which is $30,000.  Unfortunately, we are still waiting for payroll to make the contribution from November 10th and of course they have not made the one from the 25th yet, either, so we are waiting for them to deposit at total of $2104.73 that they did deduct from the paychecks.  DH checked.

Once they do it, and DH is finally getting his butt in gear, and checking with payroll tomorrow, we'll have contributed $26,362.73.  And we should have another $993 from each paycheck unless there is overtime, bringing our contribution to $28,348.73 for the year.  I am super tempted to run the numbers and see what we would need to do percentage wise to get that extra $1651.27 withheld.  It would be $825.64 and $826.63 from each check.

Which we could manage if we don't save anything for the bathroom in December, skip the gift fund and the phone fund contributions, and don't put anything in the household account which has $196 in it and all I need to buy from that money is a new filter for the fridge because we just replaced it and I like to have one on hand when we do that.  So that will still leave that account with $140 in it.  Since we just restocked everything we need, we should be just fine until January or February on what we have.  I would just have to figure out percentages.  I really want to max this thing out.

Then I want to figure out what percentage I need to put the 401K at to max it out for next year.  Because of the raise, I think we can comfortably go from 16% to 18%.  I just haven't done it.  I really need to run the numbers.  Okay, back from running the numbers.  Yes, it looks like 18% is what I need to be withholding.  Which would be about $1250 a paycheck instead of $993.  Depending on overtime it could be more.  It would be a difference of $257 in pretax dollars, but I don't know what that would shake out to in post tax dollars.

Either way, I think our budget can absorb that.  There are definitely places we can tighten up and have some more discipline about.  We could probably even just do 17%, because with the amount of overtime DH works, we'd probably smack up against it just fine raising it one percent and if it looks like we won't, I can adjust it in September instead of waiting until November.  I just wasn't paying attention this year, because of heart conditon, then the stomach flu, then the real flu, then Covid again.  $128.50 a week seems like an easier hit, but we might just be fine.  I don't know.  I'll talk to DH about it when we do our yearly, "I know you don't wanna, but you're gonna, sit down and go over the budget with me," meeting at the end of December.  That's when we go over the state of all the finances, too.

The IRA is finally back up again.  Still not quite up to pre-Biden levels, but doing much, much better.  And the 401K is doing nicely despite the lack of contributions.  This month was good for it.

$118,135.80 401K

+_13,232.79 IRA


$131,368.59 Total Retirement Accounts

This is an increase of $9913.20 since I last updated my sidebar.  This increases my net worth to $226,673.53.



November 29th, 2023 at 09:56 pm

1, 2, 3

Okay, What is Happening?! Does This Work?

November 28th, 2023 at 01:47 am

What is happening?  Are the forums freaking the heck out for everyone else?  Are the blogs?  My blog says I am logged out and I couldn't get logged in until I left a comment on Monkey Mama's blog and then it said I was logged in, but when I went to all entries or back to blogs I was logged out again, but then when I was able to get to my blog it has the control panel, so I am trying this to see if it will post.  And the forums page is just spazzing out, blinking like a disco light.  So let's see if this crazy thing works.

ETA:  So, it posts to my blog, but does not show up on the All Entries Page.  Hmm.

Furnace Antics, Budgeting, and Old Spending Habits

November 11th, 2023 at 03:33 am

Actually, the furnace isn't performing any antics, but we had the furnace guy out today to do the yearly maintenance check up.  He said it is running at 93% which is pretty close to optimal, but we need to clean the clutter from around the vents and that will go up.  The furnace is 16 years old and he said it should last another 5 years, possibly more as far as he can see.  New ones for a house this size are running between $8000 and $10,000.

Hearing those numbers, I picked $9000 and divided it by 60 months.  If I start saving $150 per month, in 5 years we will have $9000 for a new furnace.  I'm sure there will be other money to throw in along the way, too, to get that up to $10,000.  Or more likely as DH gets raises we will probably up the amount to $200 we are saving.  Prices will probably go up in 5 years, but hopefully the possibly more than 5 years part will come into play.

I don't know if my mother will still be alive in 5 years, but she very well could be.  My aunt C is still alive and she's older than mom by a few years.  But I don't want this dropping on her, so the saving starts as soon as we've saved enough for the bathroom.  At least it is long term saving and not having to throw as much as possible into savings as we can as quickly as we can so we have a chance to save for other goals, like with this stupid bathroom.

I do need to start a tax fund.  Once mom is gone, there won't be a senior discount on taxes and the taxes on this house will be somewhere in the ballpark of $8000.  I want to have money set aside to pay at least the first year.  It is going to take a significant bite out of the paycheck once it is on our shoulders.  Around $700 a month.  And not leave much in disposable income.  So getting the EF and the tax fund up to snuff as well as saving for that furnace will be priorites and saving for the electric vehicle and the Hawaii trip will still be distand priorities.  But I am still going for that beach vacation sooner, rather than later.

The biggest thing we need to do is crack down on our spending, which has been off the charts and it has been due to getting takeout.  At least we have figured out why I have been so exhausted the last couple of months.  My thyroid has finally gone bonkers.  It is the family curse, but it has hit everyone else very young in life, like in the 20's.  It was fine seven months ago, but not at my recent test 3 weeks ago.  So I see the doctor next week about that.  It would have been sooner, but my doctor has been out of the office due to a family emergency and now he's going to be out much longer so I am seeing a different doc in the same practice.  I am hoping to start on meds right away and hopefully get through this, because all I want to do is sleep and I have no energy to cook.

I am going to just force myself from now on.  We charged almost $5000 last month getting takeout nearly every day, which means we are not going to save a cent for the bathroom repair in November, putting us behind in our savings goal.  I'm just glad there was as much OT as there was and will be on the next paycheck since he has to work more next week as well.  It is hard to care when you are too tired to care, but that was a huge number to see.  Consequently, my credit score went up to 804.  Funny how the more debt you have the higher your score.  It was 782 when the card had a zero balance in September.  I will get it paid off before any interest is charged, no worries there, but it will be close.

I am feeling old habits rising up that need to be squelched down before they become a problem.  My brain was starting down the path of, oh, you can carry a balance into December just this once.  You'll make it up then.  I had to really fight with myself and say that no, I wouldn't, I was going to get it all done in November no matter how hard I had to squeeze.  And I will.

I told DH that we really have to stop using the credit card.  Which means he will have to start carrying some grocery money with him so that when he has to stop for something after work he isn't just whipping out the credit card to pay for it.  He'll have the money.  But the food budget has to remain tight.  No more incidentals.  Food has to be planned for even more closely than it has been.  And the junk food habit has to be gotten over yet again.


Retirement Update

November 6th, 2023 at 11:35 pm

I'm getting a little annoyed at DH's work.  Usually they make the contribution to his retirement fund the day his paycheck comes out or no later than the following Monday, unless their is a bank holiday on the Friday or Monday and then it might be as late as that Wednesday.  But for the last little while it has been a week late.  Which means we missed out on some great days on his fund where he could have earned a lot.

Payroll has been all over the place for the last six months and it is irritating when you have OCD and expect everyone else to maintain their schedules the way they are supposed to and they don't.  Well, he got paid last on the 27th and he gets paid again in 4 days and they still haven't made the retirement contribution yet.  That's ten days.  If it hasn't been made by Wednesday I'm going to have DH ask what is up.  Regardless, retirement has gone up a lot, which is why I am annoyed at the lateness.

$122,455.95 Previous Balance

-___3,061.56 Amount Earned

$125,516.95 New Balance

Of the $3061.56 earned all but $307 of it was in the 401K.  But the IRA is still significantly what it was under before 2021 and the great freefall of most of 2022.  I'm so glad things started to turn around towards the end of the year and this year, although most of his earnings are from contributions, there still has been a 6% amount of interest made.  Nothing like the 17% we earned 2017 through 2019 and 14% in 2020, but so much better than the last couple of years.  I am hoping that 2024 will bring us back up to 8%, but I have no illusions due to war and out of control goverment spending.  Maybe if we invested in all the war companies, but then I would feel ethically icky.

I am thinking about putting most of my Emergency Fund back in Capitol One 360.  The bank failures seem to have stopped for now and I could be earning a lot more interest right now.  I feel very safe with it in the credit union though.  But maybe that is a delusion.

Saving the Last of the Garden to Save Money on Food This Year and Next

November 5th, 2023 at 10:12 pm

I did try to post on Halloween.  But every time I did, my computer kept rebooting.  The internet was being obnoxious.  Even though I saved the copy in my drafts folder, I couldn't find it.  And while I had it in Word, I hadn't saved it yet, so lost it one of the reboots.  Obnoxious.

What it boils down to is when we knew a hard frost was coming, we went out and picked the last of the produce that we could and brought it into the house.  I processed 60 pounds of zucchini, which is a real pain in the neck but will be nice later.  There were 6 and were about 10 pounds each, they were so big, so we cut them as we went so we could go at the pace we wanted and not have to do it all at once.

I found an ice cream scoop to be quite effective at taking out the seeds.  I saved the best of the seeds to plant next year.  I don't know if they will breed true or not, because I think this is a hybrid, but one never knows.  I have about 40 seeds, far more than I need, but seeds are getting expensive.

So after that you have to shred the zucchini, which was the easiest part since we used a food proceesor.  After that we put the zucchini in colanders over pots to let them drip all day.  I very lightly salted them as salt brings out the juice in a vegetable and you don;t want that in the finished product or you will be cooking it off for a long time.  After they had dripped all day we took tea towels and squeezed all of the juice that was left out into a container and then put the zucchini in a pot.  We did that for all four and filled the pot.  It was amazing how 6 giant giant zuccini  became 4 huge bowls of shredded zucchini which had then shrunk down to one pot, by taking the juice out.  It was a big pot, though.

At the end of the day, here is what we got:

20 pounds of shredded zucchini, divided into 20 1 pound bags

8 pounds of seeds and stringy bits and some harder pieces of skin that didn't want to shred

2 1/2 gallons of zucchini juice

The juice was kind of good, but needed some sugar to make it really good.  We drank some of it and pressure canned most of it in half pint jars, without sugar.  I always can my half-pints with reusable lids because that would be a lot of one time use lids to go through.  I'm not really sure what we will do with it.  Maybe just add sugar and drink it.  Maybe add some to vegetable broth if it isn't too sweet.  Maybe use it as the liquid in the corn stach slurry when making Chinese food.  I'll figure it out.

Also, last week we canned 12 jars of tomato sauce.  Most of them were quart jars, 3 of them were 3 cup jars.  We jut ran out of quart jars.  I am shocked becaue I have never had that happen before.  So I will have to send DH to pick some up today so we can can some more.  I did save some Roma tomato seeds, but I also have a lot seeds for next year, so I don't know if I will plant these or just keep them for the future.  The produce a nice tomato, but I have no idea if they are determinate or indeterminate.

Meanwhile, I need to get busy going through the bag of peppers I saved from the garden.  We have shishitos, jalapeños, cayennes, poblanos, and 5 sweet peppers.  My sweet peppers did not do well this year.  The deer really liked them and kept topping the plants.  Next year all the peppers will be grown behind a fence or under netting.  They left the hot peppers alone.  I am going to cut open and deseed everything, one pepper at a time, with gloves on, and then I will chop them up seperately and dehydrate the shishitos and cayennes.  We will eat as many jalapeños and poblanos as we can and the sweet peppers.  The cayennes and shoshitos will be dehydrated and made into powder.  The rest will be frozen to put into chili.

I am, of course, saving seeds from the best of the hot peppers, some while green and some while red.  I am not saving seed from any of the sweet peppers as they were pretty much stunted.  I still have seeds for all of those so I will plant them next year with protection and hopefully it will make a difference.

I did save bean seeds to from the purple green beans I planted this year.  They were prolific and they grew so well.  I didn't save enough to plant as much as I needed to plant for next year, but I have a ton of them still.  I intend to plant every seed I did save, though.  Those beans went through our growing conditions here and will be hardier than the ones I bought from another state.  And then ther offspring will be even more aclimatized.  Each generation will be stronger and stronger based on living in my exact microclimate and eventually I won't be planting seeds from anyone else at all.  Honestly, I'd like to do that with everything I grow, but I am not there yet.  But I digress.

After that I will go the restaurant supply store depending on what their produce sales are.  I'd like to get more tomatoes under my belt but that depends on the price.  And potatoes.  We go through so many potaotes in a year and while we use fresh for baked potatoes and mashed potatoes, I like using canned for fried potatoes, stews, and soups.  It just lowers the amount of time it takes to put these things together.  Oh, and I'd like to get onions, so I can chop and freeze them.  I almost forgot I bought 10 pounds I need to do up.  I didn't want to buy 25 or 50 because I was afraid I wouldn't get them done.  I know myself so well.

With bell peppers being a bust, I can't chop up a bunch and freeze them.  The cost in the stores didn't really go down too much.  Even TJ's frozen bags are expensive, including the non fire roasted ones.  I will have to take a special trip to Winco to buy them.  They are the only store that consitently keeps their bell pepper prices under $1.  Right now the are $2/7 and $2/8 and those are their sale prices at Safeway and Fred Meyer, now owned by Kroger.  I knew Kroger coming in and buying all the grocery stores was going to be bad, I just didn't know how bad.  When they are consistenly higher than Whole Foods by about 20% it is just wrong.  At least we still have Winco.  And I won't go to Walmart because it is too dangerous to go there anymore.  I don't want to get hit by flying bullets.

So anyway, trying to get ahead with my garden stuff and cheaper prices now, because heaven knows what they will be next year.