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Taxes, Work, Goals, and Dreams

February 18th, 2019 at 04:05 pm

DH got the taxes done and submitted and we will be getting back a little over $1300. I don't know the exact amount since Dh did the final bit. We did do deductions because it meant a slightly higher return, but this will probably be the last year we have such major medical expenses as to put us high enough to do that with the new taxing structure. If DH gets the raise to stay here, we will be upping our 401K percentage to 7% so that our higher tax bracket will not mess things up for next year. I don't want to end up paying ever. I'd rather just a small refund.

I do have my total out of pocket medical expenses for last year and it is $28,248.75. I believe that is more than in 2017. If things go the way they are looking our medical spending should be greatly reduced this year. Our charitable giving (tithing) was only $5800, but we didn't start doing that until about mid-year, when DH got hired on permanently instead of through the temp company.

So DH's work is just waiting on a signature or two to get him that raise if they want to keep him here. If they do get it, it will be a raise in net income of $15,700 a year. It is not as much as up there is offering, but after air fare and having to pay Cobra for two months, the difference would only be $3000 to $4000, because a lot more would be lost to taxes from being in a higher tax bracket. That is an awfully big change in our lives for only $3 to $4K. Without the raise it is worth it. With it? Not so much. The second year it would be $6K extra because it would be without the Cobra.

Current job has better insurance and better 401K matching, which makes the trade off for up there less appealing. I am hoping they come through for him. They need to do it soon though as DH would need to make the decision and let them know up there if he's not coming so they can get someone else in place.

Current job implied they are planning to move him up into a better position when someone retires in December, also. So...there is potential for advancement, which there never was up there. And with that movement would come another raise, it is assumed, since there would be more responsibilities and a change in title.

With the raise it would take us 13 months to pay off the loan and we could still get our gym membership back. Then it would take us 8 months after that to get our 3 months expenses emergency fund. After that I want to take a small break and go on a vacation with my husband, no kids. We would take one month's worth of what we would have been putting into the EF and go on a short cruise, 3 to 4 days, booking last minute for a deal. We can plan our time for when work is at a lull. We don't care to where as long as it is on the west coast out of Seattle. We likely won't even leave the ship. It has been 8 years since we have been on a vacation and we've never been on a cruise.

Then we would start saving towards the 6 months emergency fund and a down payment on a house at the same time, with an uptick in our 401K percentage.

But until there is signed paperwork in his hands, there is no decision to be made and all of the above is simple dreaming. Except the taxes part.

Big Medical Update on DD

February 15th, 2019 at 07:51 pm

I am still not back to normal after our trip to Seattle for DD's operation. It has been a week since we got back. I am still in pain, still have a massive amount of inflammation, am dragging like a person who never gets any sleep even though I am getting sleep, and am stuffy. I hate it when my RA flares up like this. I've made the decision to not go with DH and DD when they go for the surgery follow-up appointment. My body just cannot take these long car trips, although it may have been the hotel bed that made it the worst.

I don't know if they will have the biopsy results then or not, but I hope they will. Except for that one spot, things looked good. If there is nothing wrong from the biopsy, I guess we are back to square one. I want to get her tested for Von Willebrand disease. This is secondary to whatever else is going on, but she is getting daily nosebleeds two to three times a day that take a long time to stop and they are coming from high up in the nasal cavity. Along with the other bleeding problems she has had in the past, it would make sense if she has this, including when there was blood in the bladder for no discernable cause. We had her tested for a couple of other bleeding disorders before, but not this one.

So just as a recap, what's been diagnosed so far:

Secondary Adrenal Insufficiency
Granuloma Anularae (autoimmune)
Some unspecified autoimmune disease they haven't tracked down yet (not RA, MS, or Lupus)

I am suspicious that she may have fibromyalgia, although I kind of feel like that is what they call something when they can't find out what it really is, because she has all the symptoms of it. And from what I can see, the treatments tend to be pot, muscle relaxants, and anti-depressants. She can't take anti-depressants because of the gasteroparesis (they make her puke and flare constantly) and she doesn't want to take pot, which we are legal for here in my state, but I don't want her taking it either. She's already on a muscle relaxant and it doesn't do much.

She does have autoimmune markers in her lab work, they just don't know what it is. And it is not the granuloma anularae causing those markers. It's probably something impossibly rare.

She also, of course, has never been the same since the skull fracture and broken tailbone when she fell in the creek when she was 16. Lots of brain fog and issues with reading and doing math even six years later. I still marvel at the fact that she graduated high school.

I just want us to find a way to make her pain better, so that she can function with some quality of life. But for that to happen it seems like we have to find the thing they can't seem to find.

At least since the gasteroparesis has been more and more under control, she is more positive and happy. I guess not puking on a daily basis will do that to a person. Also her hair has stopped falling out since getting that under control, so there's that. And she's no longer anemic, though she is only just above the line.

As for me, I'm still waiting on the Enbrel. The doctor and the pharmacy need to get stuff straightened out, but I have the co-pay card, so at least when they do, it will go forward. If I haven't heard anything by Monday I will call the doctor's office and try to push things along.

I also want the doctor to do a blood test for my cortisol levels and to check my thyroid. I think something is going on there, especially with cortisol. I felt so much better on the steroids, like a normal human. Of course, I could hardly sleep, but I was amped up enough it didn't matter. My reaction to them is what makes me think my cortisone is messed up. While I'm at it, I should schedule a mammogram, too. Maybe in another week I'll feel good enough to get on that.

The Plot Thickens

February 14th, 2019 at 01:56 pm

DH's current job has offered him more money and a more secure position to stay. He'll have to run the numbers tonight when he gets home from work. It isn't as much pay as what the other job is offering, but current job matches 5% in the 401K, not just 3%, has a Christmas cash bonus, a Christmas 401K bonus contribution, company stock, and the insurance is better. Plus he'd be home. This just got interesting.

Deeper and Deeper, We're Buried Alive

February 12th, 2019 at 05:24 pm

There's 18 inches of snow on the ground, and it is still snowing, but less consistently, which means that if I want a birthday cake I am going to have to bake it myself and I'm sort of the mindset of, well, ehh. Maybe peanut butter cookies as they are easy and I am already making bread. DH has been able to get out to go to work, but not many are able to get in. Some of the stores are closed, so even if I sent him for a cake, the stores might not even be open and I don't want him driving more than he has to right now.

Of course, this means we have spent no money since Sunday. Not that I planned to buy much, but I did want to get a new electric skillet and have the money in the household envelope for it. Those things really don't last long and the last one we got I was never fond of anyway, as it made a weird noise the whole time it was on. But now the coating is all scratched up. I have no idea how as we only ever use wooden or silicon cooking utensils in it.

I'm actually just thinking of getting one of those induction cook tops so that I could just use my cast iron pans or stainless steel on it and be done with this non-stick nonsense altogether. It costs twice as much as a skillet and I'd have to wait until the 22nd to order it when I put more money in the household envelope, but we've gone without for two weeks now, we can go another two, plus time for shipping. I've been considering doing this a long while. Since we just bought TP, body wash, and shampoo and conditioner, there isn't anything else I will be needing the household category for next payday except maybe tissues, so there will be plenty of money in there then.

Maybe I'll make cupcakes. I can do those in the Nuwave. Or maybe I'll just be happy with my bread and pick up a discounted Valentine's day cake the day after instead. They are always half price then. Or skip it altogether.

I'm not really that into it this year. I'm 49. Next year is more of a milestone. Although I did have one milestone of sorts, DH and I both did. They gave us the senior discount at the hospital cafeteria. DH is balding and grey and I haven't colored my hair for the last year or so, so my grey streaks at the front temples of my hair are quite visible (they used to be ash blonde streaks in a sea of auburn when I was younger). I didn't notice until I was looking at the receipt. So that was the first time we've been given a senior discount. Maybe I can order off the IHOP's senior menu now. They always have way too much food in the regular part, so I usually give DH half my pancakes and he orders accordingly. Not that we go there much anymore at all.

Sorry, this is so stream of consciousness today. Nothing much better to do while I wait for the bread to rise.

Snow Keeps Falling, Snow Keeps Falling, Down, Down

February 10th, 2019 at 09:00 pm

...to paraphrase one of my favorite songs from the 80's. The snow started around 3:00 this afternoon and we already have six inches. It's supposed to snow non-stop for the next few days, too. DH and I were out doing our grocery shop. We went to five stores, but the second to last one had closed early due to the weather. We only missed it by about a half an hour, but fortunately that was Whole Foods, which was just a want, not a need, run for sopprasetta.

Usually I will spread out the shopping over a couple of days, but not when the weather is only going to get worse. So here's what I bought at Safeway:

1 Pepsi Throwback (sugar kind, and bad)
2 Pirates Booty
1 Tostitos Lime
2 Classico Alfredo Sauce
2 packages O Organics Popcorn
2 1/2 gallons of O Organics Milk
1 bag of spinach
2 limes
1 box organic blackberries
1 organic red onion
4 organic roma tomatoes
1 lb deli roast beef
1 lb deli roast chicken

I spent $64.86 there. Next we went to Costco and I got:

1 box shredded parmesan cheese
2 4 packs frozen broccoli
1 bag of six bell peppers
1 box of Kodiak Power Waffles
1 bag of sausage patties
1 2 pack of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 packages of Yangtze pork
1 4 pack Kerrygold Irish butter
2 24 packs of organic eggs
2 3 packs of organic chicken sausage links
1 bag of peeled garlic
1 2 pack of prosciutto

I spent $172.99 there. Our next stop was the food co-op. We were looking for tortillas without soy in them, but there's had soybean oil so I only ended up buying:

1 head of organic lettuce

I spent $2.99. Next we went to Trader Joe's and I bought:

3 5 lb bags of Russet potatoes
2 packages of uncured beef hot dogs
4 packages of flour tortillas (no soy!)
2 containers of sunflower oil
1 box pita crackers (no soy!)
1 box rosemary crackers (no soy!)

I spent $43.97 there. So total grocery spending was $284.81, well under my $400 two week grocery budget.

We did pickup some household items as well. At Safeway we got 2 bottles of body wash for DH for $6.51. At Costco we picked up a case of toilet paper and 2 4 packs of Zyrtec for $98.99 for a total of $105.50. TP and body wash came out of the Household Envelope and Zyrtec came out of the Medical Fund Account.

Now I shouldn't have to budge from the house until the Snowpocalypse is over.

Life Changing News

February 9th, 2019 at 06:21 pm

DH took a new job today. It's back on the slope. After taxes and after airfare, we'd be bringing home $30K more a year. Yes, that's net. The 401K is not as good a match (but we'll contribute 7% instead of 5% to make up for it) and the insurance costs more (but pretax), but the difference in income more than makes up for that.

DH and I talked it over for several hours yesterday. His current job is getting iffy, because after the election last year one of the refineries pulled out of a couple of jobs and that means less work for his company. We feared this was going to happen because it does every time democrats get control of either the Senate or the House, and it is even worse when they also have the presidency, which they may again in two years.

I think it is a little ridiculous though, because they don't have control of both, so they'll never pass anything in the next two years, but the oil companies always seem to get fearful when the dems start getting any control. Usually because they raise taxes on the industry, already the highest taxed industry in America AND all developing nations, and try to shut down new exploration the second they get full control and put in all sorts of punitive regulations. They don't want to invest only for it to be shelved in a couple of years and have it taxed so much the project is no longer tenable.

But anyway, because the current job is getting iffy on work, and because this job pays so much more, we decided he would take it. It is a two year contract. We'll be out of debt in a year and have our six month emergency fund in place by the end of the second year and maybe some saved for a down payment.

He starts on March 18th. I told him to at least wait until March before he lets his current work know and I hope he listens to me. I'd really like him to wait until two weeks before to give notice as I don't want to try to go without pay for more than 2 weeks if they decide to let him go early. My hope is he can work right on up to the 15th. We only have $3000 in the EF, so it would be very tight. I am going to go down to a bare bones budget between now and when the new job starts and save as much as I can. We will have to pay for a Cobra for the month of April, but I believe the new insurance should start in May.

The first pay cycle will be larger because he will have 3 days of training on it before he starts his 3 and 3 hitch. I hate 3 and 3 so much as compared to 2 and 2, but it means less airline tickets a year.

It will be hard to go back to this again, but it puts our future back on track. It will be annoying to have to do a 6 week budget cycle instead of a 4 week budget cycle, but I managed before and I can manage again. And it is worth it for the amount we'll be able to speed ahead on our goals.

I just hope that after the two years are over there will be work that is easy to find, hopefully slope work. If not, I guess we'll have the fully funded EF and unemployment again (which is enough to cover insurance premiums, but that's it).

Two Week Meal Plan

February 4th, 2019 at 06:49 pm

My meal plan is heavily based upon what is in the freezers, at least as far as meat goes, for the next two weeks. I am hoping that I will only need to buy eggs, milk, bread, produce, tortillas, cheese, sausage, and ham, and that I will be able to keep the expenses down doing that. If there is a tremendous sale on something, like .99/lb, then I might buy meat, but I am going to try to avoid it. I just don't like passing up .99/lb pork roast.

I might do it for four weeks. It really depends on how much of the freezer I clear out. I wouldn't really call this an eat from the pantry challenge, since I will be buying stuff, but maybe an eat from the freezer challenge. I meant to post this yesterday.

Day One:
Beef pot roast
Baked potatoes
Normandy Vegetables

Day Two:
Baked potatoes
Normandy Vegetables

Day Three:
Baked Potato Soup with Bacon
Green Beans
Canned Pears

Day Four:
Hospital Food (we will be eating at the Virginia Mason cafeteria for dinner this night or possibly the hotel restaurant)

Day Five:
Canned pineapple
(Whether or not the pizza is homemade depends on when we get home from Seattle. It might be take away, but if we get home at least by two I'll make it from scratch.)

Day Six:
BBQ Chicken Legs
Baked Potatoes
Green Beans

Day Seven:
Lamb Chops
Fried Potatoes
Normandy Vegetables
Canned Pears

Day Eight:
Pork Roast
Baked Potatoes
Green Beans

Day Nine:
Meat Loaf
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Normandy Vegetables

Day Ten:
Penné Pasta with Sausage and Zucchini
Canned Pears

Day Eleven:
Beef Steaks
Herbed potatoes
Normandy Vegetables

Day Twelve:
Chicken Enchiladas
Green Beans
Canned Pineapple

Day Thirteen:
Chicken Quesadillas
Pico de gallo

Day Fourteen:
Carne Asada Tacos
Pico de gallo