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Found Out About the Bonus

December 11th, 2018 at 04:34 pm

So DH's end of year bonus will be $1600 in cash, but that is before taxes, so not sure what it will be afterwards. Bonuses get taxed weirdly, I believe at 25%, so we'll only see $1200 of that, though some of it will come back in our tax refund. He will also get 1 percent of all wages earned put into his 401K with 100% matching, since we haven't hit 5% of income on our own yet. That will only be based on his earned wages since becoming a permanent employee, and he became one in July, I think.

His last paycheck says he has earned $37,192.50 since becoming a permanent employee, and it is probably going to be calculated after Friday's paycheck. So we should end up with something over $800 extra into the 401K. Nice little chunk of change. It's been a few years since DH has worked with a company that did bonuses. If it is calculated after the last paycheck of the month than it will be closer to $1000.

My cold seems to have moved up into my head now. After driving yesterday I decided I don't want to drive today in the storm we are having. I thought I was ready to drive yesterday, but I had trouble focusing and ended up running a red light. Thankfully it was at an empty intersection and no cops were around. That is the first time in my life I have run a red light. So clearly I am not clear-headed enough to drive yet. I will wait until Thursday before I try again assuming the cold continues to vacate the premises and I am not a dizzy-headed mess.

Tonight for dinner I am making beef pot roast in the Instant Pot, steamed potatoes in the Power Cooker XL, and broccoli in the microwave. No baby-sitting, no fuss, very little mess. It is nice having two electric pressure cookers when I don't have a stove. It makes things much easier for me.

I hope I am with it enough by Friday to do the banking and the grocery shopping. We are getting low on some items and with DH heading out to MIL's after work to work on cleaning out her attic and garage, he isn't able to do the shopping either. I'm making due, but it would be nice to have fresh greens again. I have enough potatoes, carrots, and plenty of onions to last the rest of the week, and I have canned green beans, and there are oranges and apples, so we won't go without. But it isn't salad. I might have cabbage, though. I could do cole slaw instead if I do.

I have a ton of canned, frozen, and freeze dried foods, but sometimes you just want that fresh produce factor in the middle of winter. We are getting low on bread and milk, though I think it will just make it to Friday. I am meal planning carefully, but I think we will pull it off okay.

Planning the July and August Budgets with Projected Payoff Amounts

July 1st, 2018 at 08:05 pm

So I've been playing with my July and August budget spreadsheets and I think we will be able to pay off $2500 in July if the 15 hours of OT a week continues, which DH's work says it will. Then projecting ahead to August, if he gets the full month at 15 hours of OT a week, we should be able to pay off an additional $3500. It is more than July because there are five paydays in August.

It'd be about $600 more, but I am setting $300 a month aside for buying beef and I will also need to put a deposit down on two pasture raised turkeys around late September. I want to buy a half a steer in about 4 months' time. I don't think I will buy a hog this year. I think I will just buy what I need monthly from the ranch this year for pork, which is 8 packages of bacon, 4 packages of pork chops (they contain 2 chops each), a pork roast and 2 packages of ground pork.

I should get a paycheck from Youtube/Google this month. It won't be all that much, but it goes into savings. I am going to invest in a larger tripod for making vids. Right now I only have one that goes three feet and some of the stuff I do for my channel would benefit from one that is at least five feet tall. I'm also thinking about getting a table top tripod for my phone since I do use it sometimes when I am making cooking videos. I should still have a small profit be year's end after expenses. If I ever earn enough, I'd like to get better photo editing software as well.

I can go two more years claiming that as hobby income, but after that I will have to start pre-paying taxes on it as I understand it. Right now we claim it as hobby income and they just take whatever taxes it may have out of our refund. After 3 years they consider it a viable business, even though it still is really just a hobby.

I will be doing more cooking videos though which should increase channel traffic and thus income. Some are Instant Pot and some are regular. If you'd like to see my recent ones:

Homemade Tzatziki Sauce: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyvHtZtzuNg

Homemade pita bread: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izcJlgkofPI

Instant Pot Chicken Shwarama: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCR5LeRu4pY

All three recipes were used together by spreading the Tzatziki on the pita bread and piling on the chicken shawarma. It turned out really well.

Windfall

June 18th, 2018 at 02:11 pm

MIL gave us $5000 yesterday. I have a lot of mixed feelings about what to do with this money. The strongest emotion says to stick this right into the Emergency Fund. That would bring it to nearly two months of expenses. It has been very hard having it down so low. And we still don't know what the future holds job wise. His job with this company keeps getting extensions, but we are living 3 months at a time, it seems.

Another part of me feels like we should throw it at debt, we are supposed to be throwing everything there, but DH and I both feel weird about taking money from his mother to throw at the loan to my mother. Yet at the same time, we both want that debt gone. It has been hanging over us too long and prevents us from saving for our future. I also don't know how my mother would feel about taking that money if she found out where it came from, which I have no intention of telling her, but she's nosy and has a way of finding stuff out. We are not telling the kids about this money. So if we do decide to pay it to her we might stretch it out over a few months so it doesn't come in a big lump.

Another thing we could do is open a Roth IRA. Probably a spousal IRA since I have nothing saved for retirement at all and I'd feel better if some was in my name, too. If we were out of debt, that is likely what we would do with the majority of the money she is giving us, open a Roth for both of us. But we aren't. I know once we are out of debt we can really contribute, so it comes back to that. It always comes back to paying off the loan.

There are a few things we could really use the money for, like I need new glasses, and we need new rabbit cages, and DH would like a new laptop or at least to have the money available to get one when his laptop gives up the ghost, which it has been threatening to do for the last year or so. It would also be nice to get DS into a driver's class so he can actually learn how to drive. DH hasn't had the time to teach him and my brain hasn't been in the right place to do it, either.

But I know we can get by with the old cages and that we have started a fund for the laptop. We need to find the time to teach DS to drive even if DH has to do it on the weekends. The glasses I can probably afford to buy outright in another month out of our medical fund, but my eyes are really, really bugging me and my prescription has changed a lot so the temptation there is strong.

So maybe we put $4000 into the EF and I get my glasses, and the rest of that $1000 we put into the laptop fund. Then when we know for sure what the situation is long term with DH's job, maybe we can take the remainder to throw at debt.

I do know that MIL plans to give us another $7000 this year. She's given us $6000 so far. I am not sure when that will happen, though. At that point we will have to figure out what to do with that money all over again.

Maybe with the momentum we make on debt in these next several weeks with all the overtime, it'll hyper focus us on getting the loan gone, or maybe it'll make it easier to keep it in the Emergency Fund.

I really don't know how people manage to stay gazelle intense on debt payoff if they are worried about future employment. We've got to figure it out though, if we ever want to be done with this and save up for a house and contribute to retirement. Right now buying a house again seems so far out of reach.

I'm not sure what we are going to do. I think for now just let it sit in savings until we are more sure of what we should do and have had a chance to discuss it more.

What would you do, not knowing if you had a job past the end of August, but things seemed somewhat promising? Wait until September? That probably makes the most sense.

For CreditCardFree on Thrive Life

March 26th, 2018 at 03:55 pm

CreditCardFree asked me to talk about Thrive Life freeze-dried foods, what I like, what I don't, what I use, and whether or not it really saves money.

I think it would be easier for me to say what products I don't like than what I do like, since I have liked almost everything I have tried. I dislike their instant potatoes. I find the texture to be a little rubbery and unless you season the heck out of them they have no flavor. I don't like the asparagus, it reconstitutes to be very mushy. I don't like the Passionfruit yogurt bites. I don't care for the larger chicken slices and the larger beef slices, as I think it takes far too long for them to reconstitute, longer than claimed.

The small beef and small chicken I like a lot, as well as the ground beef crumbles and the sausage crumbles. I have not tried any of the vegetarian meat products.

What I use most are the onions, the bell peppers, the chili peppers, the potato dices, the celery, the carrots, the green onions and the sweet corn. The sweet corn tastes like candy and we often eat it right from the can like popcorn.

I use the sour cream powder a lot. I have wasted so much sour cream over the years, so to be able to make out the exact amount per recipe with none leftover to mold in the fridge has saved us quite a bit. I also like their instant milk, for those days when we run out and I need a cup for making potatoes or something. I love the butter powder, too, because we have also run out of butter on occasion. I can just make up as much as we need or put some in a recipe.

I also use their seasoning blends, sauce mixes, bouillons, and tomato powder (which is in place of using tomato paste). They have no MSG or other suspect ingredients in these, which is amazing for bouillon. Less occasionally I use the kale and spinach in soups. We love the yogurt bites in vanilla, cherry, strawberry, pomegranate, and blueberry. That's one of my favorite things, actually, as I hate the texture of regular yogurt and I can just eat these straight without adding water and the texture issue isn't there.

I do use the freeze-dried fruit, but I haven't quit buying regular fruit. My kids like the fruit a lot and eat it as is. I think it is great for putting into cereal or muffins, but I don't care to just snack on it.

Most of the veggies are good. I like the broccoli, green beans (though I prefer my home canned), zucchini, and cauliflower. My husband likes the mushrooms (I can't eat mushrooms). The sweet potatoes and butternut squash are pretty good. Nothing is going to be crisp with freeze-dried and dehydrated foods, so I usually use fresh veggies for stir-fries, and these go into casseroles and egg bakes. My MIL likes eating the cauliflower straight out of the can.

Their instant brown rice and instant white rice we use on occasion. They are good, but I'm not sure they are any better than minute rice. I do like the fact that they have some instant beans. My son raves about the multi-grain pancake mix.

I do see some money saving. Because I am not having to peel anything, I am not paying for the weight of the part of the food that gets peeled off and thrown away. It is already cut up into the right size, so I am not having to spend time cutting up onions or other veggies, which saves my hands. With the RA, my hands often hurt too much to peel and chop, so that is a meal saver on those days. It doesn't have the chance to rot in the fridge before I can use it, so I'm not then having to pay to throw it away.

I tend to buy the products that are more pricey when they go on sale. They have different products on sale each month and then they do two semi-annual sales a year that have almost everything discounted. They have one day flash sales once in a while as well. The meat and the yogurt are most expensive so I only buy those when they are on sale and the same with the more expensive fruits (raspberries, grapes, cherries, pears). The rest is pretty well-priced and if you buy more than $100 on the monthly delivery program the shipping is free.

I don't buy the Simple Plates, which are the pre-made meal kits. I think they are expensive for what they are. They are meant to compete with things like Blue Apron and Freshly. While I got several when I got my consultant starter kit, most of them have mushrooms mixed in with the rest of the veggies, so I can't eat them. The family has liked what they have tried, but I wouldn't purchase them myself.

They do have some starter packs called Chef Kits that come in a set for $105 and come with recipes and you can make several recipes from each kit. They have a Southwest Chicken Kit, a Ground Beef Kit, and a Pulled Pork Kit. A lot of people like to start off with those so they can make a few meals and see if they like them. Or they have variety packs of vegetables, fruits, yogurts, and cheese which brings the price down a bit.

I seldom buy their cheese, but when their Parmesan or Monteray Jack goes on sale I will get some if I am out. Those we use so little of that it is not worth buying from the store because it'll go bad before we can use it all. But cheddar and mozzarella I still buy fresh as it is cheaper.

What it is great for is the shelf-life. Most products are one year after being opened, with three exceptions, the ham, the turkey, and the pulled pork. The ham is awful anyway. I forgot to say that I didn't like the ham. It didn't taste like ham to me, just pork and not well flavored. Unopened products have a shelf-life of 25 years, so there is that.

So like all things, you have to comparison shop and get some items on sale. But it has been worth it for me to save my hands a lot of work.

For everything you buy, you get points and after you get enough points you can cash them in for free product. As a consultant I also get a commission off of anyone's purchase from my website:

Text is https://www.thrivelife.com/luckyrobinshomestead and Link is
https://www.thrivelife.com/luckyrobinshomestead. If anyone signs up for the monthly delivery (which requires a $25 purchase each month) I get a larger percentage commission and if people sign up to be consultants under me I get a percentage of their sales. It only goes four levels so it is not an unending pyramid. As a consultant I am required to spend $50 a month, which I more than spend anyway. I also have the expense of the website which is $10 a month. But I so far have been making about $60 each month. I don't really work the business, though. I have a couple people that purchase each month. I get a little business from my youtube channel, but I don't do parties or anything. If I did, I could make a lot more, but this is more passive for me.

Anyway, I hope that answered all of your questions and if not, let me know and I will try to answer any more you have.

Safe Driver Refund Check

September 28th, 2017 at 11:35 am

I am a safe driver. I have a 29 year record of driving with no accidents. I always use my signal when turning or when changing lanes. I don't run red lights. I don't block intersections. I don't drive like an idiot. I am starting to think I am the only one.

I have been encountering an extraordinary number of unsafe drivers lately and it is really wearing me down avoiding these close calls. Just within the last three days, I had an oncoming car make a left hand turn from the right hand turn lane when I had a green light and if they had been in the actual left hand turn lane would have had a must yield on green sign they ignored.

At the same intersection I had someone in the oncoming left hand turn lane suddenly speed out in front of me while I was making a right hand turn on my green light. They came all the way across two lanes of traffic to the lane I was turning into. It is illegal to turn into that lane directly from their lane. But it was the fact that she didn't yield and almost hit me when I had already started my turn that makes me so annoyed.

This light has protected green arrows before it turns solid green, so it is not like they won't get a turn to go. They just don't want to have to wait through the light if they miss their arrow. I think it is time to remove the left turn yield on green signs and make it illegal for them to do so at that intersection. It already is for the cross street because there used to be so many accidents there. There are less now, but there are still a lot.

The people turning from that side also have a tendency to block the intersection so that people can't go straight during the green light. It's illegal to make a left hand turn if you can't clear the intersection. So many people need to go back to remedial driving school. If they put a police car there a couple of times a week, the police department would no longer need to keep trying to get money for a new jail. They'd have it made in tickets in less than six months.

I usually avoid this by taking another route, but that road is completely shut down right now, due to construction that has been going on for months to repair a bridge and stabilize the alternate road. Which is also causing back ups on the main road because more people are forced to use it.

The other intersection is nearer my house where people coming from the hospital think it is okay to get into the left hand turn lane and cross the intersection from it to go directly into the next block's left hand turn lane, even though at that end it is a left hand turn lane for the oncoming direction.

Unfortunately, this means they are preventing people from getting into the opposite left hand turn lane to turn onto my street. And even if you signal that you are trying to get into that lane they just keep coming across the intersection or honk at you when you attempt to get into that lane. Sometimes they even block the intersection from the left hand turn lane.

I can't tell you how many times I've nearly been hit by these illegal moves and I am super conscious and careful at all times that this will happen at this intersection. Park a cop there for a while and ticket like crazy and they will have no money worries for a long time.

When I can avoid that intersection, I do, but when the hour around when the school lets out is in play, looping around and coming from the other direction is even worse. You've got a bunch of illegally parked cars on both sides of the street, parked smack up against stop signs making it impossible to see cars coming from either direction until you are halfway into the road, and of course loose children running around not being monitored by their parents.

All this to say that my safe driver's refund check was deposited. 18 bucks plus change does not seem like much compared to what I deal with to be a safe driver. But it is better than nothing.

Another Long Day and New Dietbet

July 10th, 2017 at 11:25 pm

Today was another very long day. I woke up at 6 a.m. after only getting 4 hours of sleep. I tossed and turned for a bit, hoping to get back to sleep, but I couldn't, so at 7 I got up and let the chickens, ducks, and turkeys out, got them fed and watered and then went and took care of the rabbits.

After that I tried to go back to bed and despite taking a pill, I still couldn't fall back asleep. I listened to a few CreepyPastas on youtube as they usually put me to sleep. The one guy has such a soothing voice, even if they are supposed to be scary stories, that usually knocks me right out. They are more suspense/edge of horror than super freaky.

I did some work for my channel and spent a lot of time downloading all of my photos off photobucket. One of the albums would not download so I had to do all 255 photos in that one individually. Ugh. I spent some time looking for a new hosting service as well.

I wrote 1000 words on my novel, but minor characters keep trying to sneak in and take over the plot. I may have to give them their own novel if they keep this up.

I got some work done in the garden. I've been harvesting a lot of herbs and flower petals for teas, tinctures, syrups, and other medicinal items (I'll be making salve when I get enough calendula). And maybe one with a more creamy consistency as well. I'll have to tweak the ratio of oil to beeswax so it doesn't harden so much. I may try my hand at making lip balm as well.

I went grocery shopping and spent $181. I got some seafood (salmon, cod, shrimp) and stocked up on quite a few items that got really low. I got several cans of peanut butter as they were well below my price point of $2.50 a pound at $2 a pound. I got 4 bottles of ketchup, 20 cans of tuna, some mustard, and some cocktail sauce. I haven't quite gotten the hang of making homemade cocktail sauce yet. I've not used horseradish enough as an ingredient to know where the sweet spot is between not enough and way too much. Usually that comes rather intuitively, but not this time.

They had another 15 pound organic turkey and I was very tempted to get it. We don't currently have space for one in the freezer, though. I have too much ice in it for the chill tank. We butchered on Saturday, so it will be a few more days before they will come out of the chill tank and I cut them up and either package them or chunk them and can them. I'll have to check my canning shelves and see what is needed.

I am debating whether or not to plant string beans. It's late, but we generally have a long, lingering warm fall. Since the peas are done and I've pulled them, and most of the broccoli is done and I've pulled it, I have space to do it. I've got Kentucky Wonder, Blue Lake, and Blue Coco Pole Beans as well as Provider Bush Beans, so I've got the seed. Pole beans are generally 65 days from sprouting and bush beans are a little faster, as soon as 55 days sometimes.

So if I get them in now I could have them from early to mid-September through October. And if we get anymore heatwaves it could take less time. The only thing that makes me hesitant is the weird summer we've had so far. I see indicators on several perennial plants that we are going to have an early winter. We generally don't get a hard frost until Halloween.

I also see it in the fact that the rabbits are blowing their coats right now. They usually blow them in early spring and in September, not July. The turkeys are also having an early molt.

I hope to get down to trade or sell some meat with my pastured pork lady this month. The ducks have not been producing enough eggs for egg sales, they are just managing to keep up with the family's needs. The rabbits still manage to pay for their own feed. I've got a gorgeous buck I'm going to put up for sale as a breeder buck soon. He is the sweetest love I have ever raised.

Since he is a broken black New Zealand, I can get $25 for him unproven, and $30 once he's been proven. More if he had a pedigree. Which he does, but I lost it and I've been trying for six months to get the rabbitry I bought the father from to send me the info in an email. He keeps sending it as a text picture to my phone which is incapable of downloading images because it is a dumb phone from 2008 or 2009. The guy is frustrating me.

I may just keep breeding the line long enough that I don't have to worry about it anymore. I just need 3 generations and I have two. This bunny will make 3, so his children can be pedigreed if he's bred with a pedigreed doe, which almost all of my does are. So if I keep a male or a female from those breedings they will have pedigrees.

I do have some rabbits coming up that might be good for 4-H kids for the fair. I've got identical whites for meat pens, of which you have three and they must match as closely as possible. I also have at least one show quality broken red buck, but I am keeping the best of the two to breed with Sadie when she grows up. I also have a show quality solid red buck that would be great for them as well.

Speaking of Sadie, she is doing really well. She's a well-proportioned junior doe, with super soft broken red fur. Any kits I get from her will be stunning, I'm sure. But first she has to grow up. She's only 14 weeks old and needs to be 6 months old for breeding. And the boy I want to breed her with is only 7 weeks old right now. So it'll be closer to her being 8 months old before he is ready to breed, so I may start her with one of the broken black bucks that are old enough. They both carry the possibility of broken reds, not just broken blacks.

Anyway, there has not been more than a month when the rabbits have not paid for themselves in the last 2 years, but then they made up for the missing month later on. Even if I sell to 4-HR's or FFA's at a discount, I'll still make money. Maybe enough that I will break even on the birds, too.

I got a refund check from one of the many medical places my DD has been lately. This was for $126.03. I know a lot of stuff crosses until whatever finishes off the deductible is finally cleared through. I hope we get some more and bigger ones, too. It'll all get shoved back into medical either way.

All right well, I'm about to ramble off to bed now, but wanted to mention I start a new 4 week dietbet tomorrow. If anyone wants to join me on that the link for it is here:

Text is http://dbet.me/oEpxBZ and Link is
http://dbet.me/oEpxBZ I have no idea if that is a referral link or not or if I get anything other than kudos if I get others to join. I just think it might be fun for some of us to do it together.

Interest Income to the Emergency Fund

July 1st, 2017 at 02:00 pm

$26,511.87 Starting EF Balance
___,_16.12 C1-360 Interest
___,___.82 CU #1 Interest
+__,___.04 CU #2 Interest
-------------------
$26,528.85 New EF Balance

March Interest

April 5th, 2017 at 09:06 am

March interest income is $22.52. It's been really hard to watch that number fall each month. In another couple of months it should start rising again, though. With us having to pay our own medical until DH qualifies through the new job, we won't be able to contribute much to savings for a while and might even have to pull a bit, but then once he qualifies, we should have a small chunk to start savings going again.

Odds and Ends

March 16th, 2017 at 08:34 pm

Well, after my little rant last night I got an email from AdSense today saying my payment should be deposited in 4 to 5 business days. So I guess I finally got everything filled out right with no more hidden boxes to check or secret codes to enter. So I feel better about that.

DH still hasn't heard back from Company B. He's going to give the guy a call tomorrow and try to get an update on the situation. He's still applying for other jobs. I just with there were more available. The previous administration's policies really damaged the industry in the last several years and it is taking some time to turn the old dinosaur back around now that some of those restrictions have been lifted.

We went to Costco and did a major stock up. We bought a lot of cheese, butter, toilet paper and Kleenex. I also got $52 worth of razors. We also picked up vitamins. I'd say half our dollar amount was non-food items. We got spices as well. Mostly several bottles of salt and pepper now that they are no longer out of stock. We spent just over $300, $157 or so of which was food, the rest household goods.

I was disappointed in the oranges. They were either partly green or moldy. Yuck. I know they are now out of season, so probably wouldn't be that good now anyway. I was hoping they'd have Bartlett pears, but they only had D'Anjou and I don't like those nearly as well. They did have Asian pears, but I didn't like the way they looked either. So no fruit purchases were made. I guess we'll be eating canned fruit this week and apples I already had in the fruit drawer.

I was going to look at the cookbooks, but they had an entire herd of people parked in front of the books and they don't have a large book section anymore since they moved to the new store. I do like to look over the cookbooks for something promising as I make so much food from scratch. Although I haven't seen any good ones at Costco in over a year, so I probably didn't miss out on anything.

We didn't do anything else today. Well, I crocheted a granny square. I have to do one more to meet my goal of doing two a day until I have enough to make my blanket. I was hoping to get the desk built today, but that didn't work out. Maybe tomorrow.