Home > Archive: December, 2023

Archive for December, 2023

Odds and Ends

December 28th, 2023 at 12:30 am

I'm glad Christmas is finished for one more year.  The tree will be down today and we will take the outdoor Christmas lights and standees down this weekend and get everything tucked away into the garage or our storage unit.  I will be glad to have it put away so life can return to normal.

We got a recumbant exercise bike for the family for Christmas to replace the treadmill that three out of four of us can't use because of our knees and also the weight capacity being quite low.  The bike is high enough even my husband will be able to use it.  I hope it works for my back.  I'd really like to be able to start exericising again.

I'll be starting on a new arthritis drug when we get back from DD's surgery in Seattle.  The old one stopped working.  This one is a pen, so I can do it myself, but it is back to weekly injections intead of monthly ones, so now I'll be taking two different meds through pen injectors once a week.  I'm going to be a pincushion.

I have a lot to do to get ready for January's Eat from the Pantry Challenge I do every year with my Facebook/Youtube group that I am in.  I need to take inventory of what I have, top up any glaring empty spots, and on the 31st shop for fresh produce.  I know I will have to take two days off from it while DD is in surgery but I will just add two extra days at the end to make up for it.  When you in a hotel in a strange city with no microwave and no fridge, there is just no way to manage.  If we had a VRBO, I could take food with us and cook, but we needed to be closer to the hosptial this time than any availabe rentals wHere.

My goal for this year's January Challenge is to save enough money to hit my goal of $10K for the bathroom fund.  I am now at $9500, so if I can peel $500 out of an $800 a month grocery budget, I will be well pleased.  I still intend to buy some fresh produce and milk, but not much else.  And other than Seattle, no eating out, which we won't be paying for.  MIL pays for our food and lodging when we go down to the hospital so that won't come out of any budget, let alone food.  I might end up hitting the goal otherwise, but I don't know how much I will need to ultimately have, if $10K will even be enough.  Stuff has gotten so expensive, but it is such a tiny room.

I would really like to get this started before the handymen or contractors get busy with big outdoor summer projects and have no time for tiny interior jobs that get them through the winter.  I just have to have the money for it.  No going into debt for it.

We still need to purchase our snow blower.  There might be money leftover there that I can put into the bathroom fund, too.  Every bit counts, you know?  It just depends on what we end up getting.  I want something I can drive, too, and not be overpowered by, even if that means having to take a couple extra passes on the driveway.

Even if it is enough and they get started on the bathroom, I think I'll keep saving anyway because things like this always seem to overrun the original budget.

I've already gotten two seed catalogs in the mail and they are full of such beautiful photos of seductive flowers and fruits and vegetables.  I will buy very little this year.  I have many things I didn't plant last year that I will need to plant this year that will be lovely and yummy.  But there will be one or two things I'm sure I will find to plant.  Some of the brand new introductions put onto the market that are developed in my area.  Those do great here.  I was hoping to put in a couple of trees, too, but things didn't get done this year because of DH's leg and it still hasn't healed up right and now he might have torn the miniscus on his knee on the other leg, which he sees the doctor for the day before we leave for Seattle.  He'll probably get an x-ray, too.

I think I may have to hire someone to come in and rototill the garden this year and do the clean up.  I have been saving all of my spending money, my Christmas money, and my future birthday money towards garden expenditures in the coming year, so if that is what is needed, I will hire a strong teenager from the farming community to come and do it for me.  While there is still more infrastructure I want to purchase, like more raised beds and more cattle panels, getting the one plot tilled that hasn't been and getting the weeds cleared out of the other bed, is necessary.

We are buying heavy duty agricultural fabric this year from a farmer's supplier instead of a seed catalog and then once it is secured we will put the aluminum raised beds on top.  No more dealing with ground weeds.  I'm just so done with it.  That's why the ground needs to be rototilled and raked flat, so the beds can go on top and set relatively flat.

We'll see what happens when we find out about DH's leg.  If physical therapy and weight loss will fix it than maybe he can go forward from there.  If he has torn something, then he may need surgery and won't be able to work in the garden in 2024 at all.  Oh, well.  If worse comes to worst, I will mostly skip a year except the raised beds and the blackberries and the plums.  And that will be that.

Goals Met and Not Met for 2023

December 18th, 2023 at 05:29 am

So, in 2023 I set some goals for myself and thought it would be interesting to come back and see if I hit any of them.  I know things went all catywampus because no one expected the bathroom to suddenly develop black mold and have to be torn out to the studs and be treated and us to have to save up all year and part of into next year to pay for a contractor to come and build a new one.  The bathroom fund took up most of our money, but did we meet any of our goals?  Let's see.

1. Refund the Emergency Fund--Add $250 every 4 weeks to the EF.

1.  No, see above, the bathroom fund.

2. Purchase a Propane Grill with Smoker--Save $250 for 12 weeks and I will have $1500.  I may not spend that much, I probably won't, but I don't want a garbage one.  This will put me at March 17th and I may find some good grills on clearance as they prepare for the new season of grills coming in.  I am not averse to buying a separate smoker as they are not all that expensive.

2.  No, we decided to make do with charcoal for another year, as the money we saved for this went into the bathroom.  Black mold was discovered in February.

3. Save for Beef Fund--Save $500 a month for 5 months, ending in May, for a total of $2500 to buy a whole steer.  I may not need this much but with costs going up everywhere, I tacked on an extra $500.  I'll contact my guy beforehand and see where prices are going.  I may need to extend into June for $3000.  I will also be saving excess grocery money, so it may not take the whole time.

3.  Yes.  We were able to save enough to purchase a whole steer in July.  It has made a huge difference.  Between that and our hog and our fishing, we have only had to buy chicken and turkey for protein.

4. Save for Snow Blower--Starting in May or June, depending on when Beef Fund is completed, save $500 a month for three months to purchase a snow blower for next winter and a chain for locking it to the back porch.  The garage is too far away if we get dumped on like we did last week.  1.5 feet in two days that has lasted for several days.  This has happened several years running now.  And several times a winter.  Never used to, but it does now.

4.  Yes.  I completed saving for the snow blower in October.  We haven't bought it yet, but we should.  It has been unseasonably warm, but we tend to get blasted in February, and sometimes we get hit on Christmas Eve.  I'd rather have it and not need it, than not have it and need it.

5. Starting March 24th save $250 a month for two generators, one for the garage freezer and a more powerful one for the house.  I still have to price these.  I am not sure how much they will cost yet, but I hope to have enough saved by October to have both.

5.  No, these were back-burnered because of the bathroom, but we did buy an additional power station so we can now run both the c-pap and the bi-pap machine all night long during a power failure.

6. Get some kind of covered seating area and some more chairs so we can eat outside more in the spring and summer.  Not sure where I will fit that in.  Maybe start the generator savings later.

6. Both no and yes.  We did not get a covered seating area, but we did purchase two more chairs.  We need one more for our daughter who seldom goes outside.  Our Swedish ancestry is strong in that one and she burns very easily.  Hence the need for a covered area.

So, 2.5 goals were achieved and 3.5 goals were not achieved.  I think I did fairly well with a ginormous curve ball thrown at us.  We will have $10K saved soon and hopefully that will be enough to create a new bathroom.  If not, then I guess the $10K in the EF will get dipped into.  We really can't handle not having that bathroom in service.  If that happens, we will have to slam the EF to get it back up.  But it is a tiny bathroom.  It is the smallest legal size a bathroom can be, so hopefully it won't go over that.  I've priced everything, so I know what materials cost.  It's just the labor that will be the thing.

My goals list for 2024 that I made at the end of 2022 has shifted substantially because of this whole bathroom thing.  One, because I missed some of this year's goals and two, because other things have moved to take priority.  But that's another post for another day.


Christmas Bonus, Retirement, and Net Worth

December 17th, 2023 at 12:22 am

DH got his Christmas bonus this on Friday and it was $911.64.  Before taxes it was $1200.  Not as good as last year, so the company must not have done as well.  Either that or they will be distributing a larger portion in stock shares this year.  I hope so.  DH worked his tail off in overtime this year so his percentage of hours worked is high and the portion of shares you get is based on the percentage of hours you work.  We've got a fairly large chunk of change in company stock on top of the 401K and the IRA.  Of course we can't sell it back until years one and two after retirement, but it should be significant by then.  Just won't like the tax bill.

We've decided to tithe $91.16 and put the rest into the medical account.  They've changed things up a bit this year with how they do the deductible and the out of pocket max.  So starting in January, the deductible is now $1250 per person or $2500 per family.  The out of pocket max is $3000 per person or $5000 per family.  Which would, supposedly, help out the average family.  But I'd really like to have been done with the deductible, because we have the $3000 to pay that off immediately.  And once that is paid off the out of pocket max is worked on at a 20% co-insurance.

DD will wipe out her deductible and out of pocket max with her surgery in January, but the rest of us will be working on wiping out the $1250 that is left on the deductible and the $2000 left on the out of pocket max.  At least the deductible is lower.  It has been $3000 for the past couple of years, so a drop of $500 is welcome.

DS's therapy, a couple of my scheduled appointments, and DH's appointments to have his knees checked out and likely x-rayed, will probably have the deductible met sometime in February.  So the big flush of medical spending will be done and we will only have to worry about co-insurance until the out of pocket max is met, which will be a relief.

They finally, finally, finally dumped in the money for the 401K they'd withheld, but hand't put into the account, so 3 paydays' worth was dumped in on the 15th, plus the match, which was a substantial dump with all the overtime.  Even so, there was a good leap in profits in the last two weeks in the 401K.  A bit over half of the gains were profit, a bit under half was what was deposited.  Even the IRA went up a bit.  It has $269 to where it was before the free fall started 2.5 years ago, but it may yet get there.  Too bad the recession/depression destroyed it for so long, but the last couple of months have been a lot better.

The new amount in the retirement accounts, minus company stock, is $140,203.74, a rise of $8835.15 in two weeks.  The 401K is at $140,203.74 and the IRA is at $13,368.59.  You can see why I was so upset about the money not being deposited into the 401K account, because the last six weeks have been phenomonal and we could have made more money.  I mean, I know it would have probably only been a couple of hundred dollars, but that is money that would have grown into something and I feel cheated out of it.

Seven weeks and five weeks is too long to hold onto someone's witholdings, in my opinion.  They are a company with over 100 employees though so the Safe Harbor Act does us no good.  Oh, well, what are you going to do?  At least it is there now.  And this last one only took them a week to get in, so there is that.  But next payday is the Friday before Christmas and they tend to take their sweet time when a holiday is right after a payday, so this may start up all over again.  But I can't stress on it.  What will be, will be.  I have been working on letting things go in therapy, but I have issues with doing that on the financial front, because letting things go is what got me into so much trouble in the past.  So maybe everything but finances.

Anyway, this bumps the old net worth up to $235,508.68.  Seems like just yesterday I was coming up on $100K and now I'm about to hit $250K in networth.  Crazy what being out of debt can do for you.  We have decided to go ahead and bump up our retirement savings from 16% to 17%.  I am not quite brave enough to do 18% yet, at least not until we are done saving for the bathroom repair.  Heck, after that I might be brave enough to go up to 20%.  We'll see.