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Novel Update and College Talk

October 15th, 2018 at 09:04 pm

Tomorrow is DD's procedure and I am so glad the day is nearly here. It has been such a long wait. I hope the results are a definitive diagnosis. I just want them to find something that is going to be solvable, that can finally give us a cure for her suffering.

I spent a lot of time writing this weekend and finished chapters seven and eight and part of chapter nine on book one. I also wrote a page and a half of back story for one character and then a long scene from book 3. So that all is proceeding nicely.

I'm thinking about participating in NaNoWriMo next month. I've always had things interfering in November before or been completely uninspired at that time of year. Lack of inspiration does not seem to be an issue anymore, and it will give me an extra incentive to keep writing. Not that I really need one right now. I'm being driven pretty hard by the story in my own brain.

I've got two beta readers at the moment who check for grammar errors and continuity and possible inconsistencies, then generally just cheerlead, so that is helpful, too. It's a lot different from when I was writing fanfiction several years ago, because there isn't that immediate feedback when you are posting chapters, so having cheerleaders is important to the process. It's also important that I am treating this like a job and carving out a few hours a day to work on it.

Once I finish the first book, I plan on getting it professionally edited, which is about $700 for a 400 page novel if I use the one editor I'm looking at. I don't know if I can find someone who would do it for less. At that price they do two passes through the novel. It's a lot of money to spend up front, but I've seen self-published books on Amazon that have not been edited and they are a nightmare to read. I'm adding a line item to the budget to start saving for it.

My hope is eventually to make enough with this to help pay for my son's college and pay off the Monster Mom Loan. DS is finally figuring out what he wants to do and it will be some form of engineering. He has taken one tour at the technical college for control systems and technology and he'll be taking another one next week for mechanical engineering. Right now he is leaning towards the first one.

The placement rate at the technical college for control systems is 100% at the moment, and their before graduation job placement is 61% with 39% being placed at or just after graduation. The placement rate for mechanical is 97%. If he takes the course for the former, there is a good chance he can get a job at DH's work.

So now we just have to figure out how to pay for this. It is going to be around $15,000 for a 7 quarter course, including books and supplies. If he takes mechanical it is a little less because it is a 6 quarter course. He would graduate with an AS, with transferability to Western if he wants to pursue a BA one day.

I really, really don't want him to have to take out loans and I won't take them out, so we've got to get this sorted. He doesn't have the math yet, so his goal for the next year and a half is to get his math where it needs to be. He's basically completed everything else he needs for me to graduate him except 1/2 a quarter of American History and 1/2 a quarter of English. But he's been lagging on the math. Now that he knows what direction he wants to go in, it seems to finally be starting a fire under him.

I am planning to save our tax return, but I'm not sure how much that will cover. We won't be getting any credit for having children, since he's eighteen now. We haven't contributed enough to the 401K this year for that to lower our taxes and I'm not sure our medical expenses will be deductible this year, since we are not paying for our own insurance out of pocket with post tax dollars this year. I haven't done the math yet on the expenses we have paid, but I don't think we're going to hit the percentages required despite feeling like we are constantly paying medical bills. We'll be able to deduct our tithing, but that may not be enough on its own for us to itemize.

Still, it ought to be enough to pay for at least one quarter, maybe two. I can nickel and dime a lot, but the big issue is that we still have to make a loan payment to my mother each month. If MIL gives us any more money this year we can save some of it for college costs, too.

I'm hoping DS will be able to get a job soon. It's hard when no one is even responding to his applications. That is what I really hate about online applying. When you could go in and hand the application to a manager in person, they had to deal with you a little bit. This faceless, easy to ignore way of dealing with things the fast food places do these days is irritating. But they won't even accept applications in person. It makes me mad when they continue to post help wanted signs and yet never respond to the applications in any way. He has completely open availability, too. So frustrating.

Well, anyway, that's what is going on in the Robin's Nest right now. I best get back to my chapter now.

Fund Updates and Musings on Goals

May 6th, 2018 at 12:06 am

Emergency Fund:
$5936.61 Starting Balance
+_100.00 Amount Added
-----------
$6036.61 New Balance

Insurance Sinking Fund:
$200.00 Starting Balance
+100.00 Amount Added
-----------
$300.00 New Balance

College Fund:
$100.00 Current Balance

My goal for the EF is to try to get it built to $7000 by the end of the year. If I contribute $100 a month, then that will cover $800 of that and then I'll just need to come up with $163.39. Since I bank all my youtube income and my Thrive Life income except the $10 a month it takes to run my website, that should be doable.

For the insurance sinking fund I'd like to contribute $100 a month. I am not sure how much it is going to cost to insure two vehicles. I think it will be more than $100 a month, but the truck will only carry liability and uninsured motorists and we will get a multiple vehicle discount.

We just paid the policy for the van in March, so I'm not sure how much additional we'll need. Once I see what the new policy will be, I can adjust the sinking fund accordingly. We like to save up and pay six months at a time, not pay monthly. Up to now I have been saving $80 a month, but I did fund this account some with some of the tax refund.

I don't know if I will be able to contribute to the college fund by any significant amount. DS knows he is going to have to work a few years to pay for college, but if I can save enough to help at all, I'd like to. I hate the fact that we can't pay for college. Several years ago we could have cash flowed it, but all those years of high taxes and a sucking economy hit us hard. Follow that with the 10 months of unemployment in 2016/2017 and we don't stand a chance with our current income. If DH can pick up a higher wage job than his current one, we still have to spend years rebuilding what we lost.

I won't feel comfortable until we have a $30,000 Emergency Fund and a $80,000 saved for a down payment.

On the writing goal I am at 6160 words so far this week. I have two more days to hit 10,000 words. I'll get that easily the way things are going.

I have met my step goals every day this week. The diet is back under control again.

This and That

February 6th, 2018 at 06:16 am

We spent the weekend working in storage again. I found 55 cents, bringing my total of found money this year to $2.68 American and $1.60 Canadian. We pulled out 5 big black garbage bags of stuff and filled an 18 gallon and a 25 gallon tote with paper to recycle. I also have another box we filled about 8 inches high with papers to be shredded. We donated two more boxes of books.

I paid off all of the medical bills from my daughter's ER visit. It was upwards of $8000. Our Emergency Fund is down to $5000 or so. I don't have the exact numbers. It is depressing and a little scary to have so little in savings, especially when we still don't know how long DH will actually have a job for.

We have no safety net now if he loses his job. DD still needs to have her sinus surgery, so we will use part of the tax refund for that. It really can't be put off any longer and who knows when we will have insurance again if DH gets laid off. The insurance is really good at least for however long we get to keep it, even if they are taking a boat load of money out of his paycheck for it.

It was nice to see the extra money in the paycheck this week from the tax cut. We'll only see it for this month, though, since in March it will go into the 401K. We really don't want to not put money in the 401K, so as soon as he qualifies it is going in even if it is only 2%.

I've been doing a low carb diet for a week now and lost 10 pounds. I am keeping my total carbs to 60 grams a day, which is what the bariatric specialist recommended last time. This time I am doing it without a weekly cheat day. I am really pushing the water. I feel better already, which is nice because last week I had that nasty stomach virus that's been going around.

The only thing that is bad about this diet is that my acne is acting up. It is supposed to be because when you lose fat the toxins that were locked in those cells come out whatever way they can. In my case it is through cystic acne. It hurts and I hate it, but I'm not going to give up, because I have to get this weight off my body. I don't want to spend the rest of my life like this. It physically hurts too much.

There really hasn't been much going on. Well, other than we lost another rabbit and now I'm afraid there might be something going around the herd. We lost Bonfire, who was out of Firefly and Wildfire, who are both gone, too. But we have her daughter Sadie and we haven't yet sold or butchered her other three offspring so if we want to keep another one, we could.

Then again, I've been thinking of downsizing, so I don't know. But right now this puts us at only 3 breeding age does and I'd like 4. But I might like a doe out of Sadie and Vincent when I breed them, so I don't know. They might not even have a likely candidate in their first litter, either.

The garden is starting to put some volunteers up. There is spinach growing and sorrel. There are onions and garlic as well, that I did not plant in the fall, so maybe they seeded or maybe ones I planted early last spring that never came up, came up now. The kale overwintered and there are some beets, too. I am looking forward to spring and rebirth and growing things and green coming back to the trees and flowers. It always makes me feel better when the dreariness of winter lifts.

Mom Loan Payback and College Fund Update

December 16th, 2017 at 11:08 pm

So we were finally able to make a loan payment to my mother. We have no consumer debt, but we still owe Mom some money. It is a no interest loan. I think we have only paid $1000 on it this year. But today I was able to make a payment of $250.

$35,000.00 Starting Balance
-__,250.00 Payment Made
-----------
$34,750.00 New Balance

I also restarted the College Fund with $100.00

$000.00 Starting Balance
+100.00 Deposit Added
-----------
$100.00 New Balance

The 401K is Excellent

April 14th, 2017 at 01:15 am

I think I mentioned in a previous entry that the 401K with this new job is amazing compared to what DH had previously, which was no matching at the last company and 50% up to 2% at the one before that. Company B provides 100% matching of the first 3% and 50% matching of the second 3%. So if we can contribute 6% we can get all of the matching they do. If we can contribute 7% it will substantially lower our taxes.

Unfortunately if we want to rebuild our Emergency Fund, pay back Mom, and save for the farm down payment, we cannot contribute that much money. We can swing 3%, though, and if DH gets raises in the future our goal will be to get that to 7% as soon as we can, even if we have to do it 1% at a time.

I had thought it had said that it would be 6 months before employer matching would start, but I reread it all today when I was actually more than half awake and I can't find that anywhere.

It's run through Fidelity. While I have heard the name before, I have no clue if they are a decent financial company or not. I'd prefer Vanguard, which we've had in the past, and has always struck me as the best. Charles Schwab was okay and who we had with Company A, but I still wasn't as happy with them as Vanguard. It's not like we get a choice in the matter, though. Does anyone know about Fidelity?

Meanwhile I am working on making up the new budget. DH ran all the numbers for me so we know what we will be getting as take home pay both before and after they start taking out medical and with 3% coming out for the 401K. Actually he ran them so I knew what it would be at 1% through 10%.

After the Emergency Fund is restored than maybe we can up the 401K as well. We are so far behind with retirement savings. Plus in the next 2 years I have to save some more in the College Fund for DS to go to the technical college for the 2 year welding program. He will be working to save for it as well soon enough.

And DH wants to start on his BS. He'll only be able to do one class at a time so we can cash flow it, but that is okay. Each class is accelerated and takes 7 weeks if I remember correctly. It may take a while, but we have a little over 4 years before Company B's contract is up with parent company. Hopefully he can get it done in that amount of time.

College Fund Udpate

December 16th, 2015 at 02:02 am

$629.75 Starting Balance
+870.25 Deposit Added
---------------
1500.00 New Balance

Goal for first semester is met.

College Fund Update

December 12th, 2015 at 07:49 pm

$380.06 Starting Balance
+_10.00 Weekly Deposit
-----------------
$390.06 Subtotal
+___.19 Interest from CU #2
-----------------
$390.25 Subtotal
+_39.50 Egg Money and Coin Jar
-----------------
$429.75 Subtotal
$200.00 Glasses Reimbursement
----------------
$629.75 New Balance

$870.25 to go to pay for the first semester. $5370.25 to go to pay for the full vet tech A.S.

College Fund Update

December 4th, 2015 at 12:15 am

$340.78 Starting Balance
+_29.28 C1-360 Interest
------------------
$370.06 Subtotal
+_10.00 Weekly Deposit
-----------------
$380.06 New Balance

$5619.94 to go.

College Fund Update

November 27th, 2015 at 10:29 pm

$330.78 Starting Balance
+_10.00 Weekly Deposit
--------------
$340.78 New Balance

I am going to nickel and dime my way there. $1159.22 to go.