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Update During the Sick from Heck

March 19th, 2019 at 06:27 pm

The last time I posted was on the 6th. 13 days later and I am still sick, though on the upswing. This thing has kicked my butt so hard. I've lost 15 pounds on the too sick to eat diet. The first week I was sleeping about 22 hours a day. Then days 8 through 10 I was sleeping about 18 hours a day. Now I am sleeping about 15 hours a day. I've been able to sit upright for a couple hours a day for the last 3 days. I still have a cough, but it is in my throat and that stupid runny nose this whole time.

I am trying to eat now, but it is still a lot of work. I am trying to get in at least one meal a day, but I am just not that interested in food. Eating should not be such a chore. This illness is worse than the one in October that threw me down so hard. I do see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I wish I wasn't just so exhausted. It's viral so there is nothing I can do but treat the symptoms.

It has been really nice outside the last two days, in the high 60's, and I would love to be able to get out into the garden, but even folding a basket of towels winds me. Getting my hands in the dirt always makes me feel recharged, but I think I have to have at least a quarter of a charge in the first place, so it will have to wait.

It is hard to believe a little over a week ago we had snow. There is pollen all over the car windows. The purple crocus have been up for about four days and today I saw my first yellow hyacinth. I see the tulip leaves pushing their way out of the soil, too.

I managed to get all the bills paid two days ago when I could think enough to write out checks. The day before that DH took me to the grocery store, but I had to use my inhaler halfway through. Normally I wouldn't have gone, but we were out of so many things and DH doesn't shop well on his own. He comes back with things we don't need and that are junky. We only did the one store, because I had no stamina.

We have been getting a lot of take out. I guess it was good that we had the tax return to spend. I just haven't been able to cook much at all. I hate that we spent all that money on it, but so be it. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do.

What has been really nice during this time is that I have not had an RA flare up. Usually when I get sick I have one, but I guess my body decided it was only going to deal with one thing at a time this time around. It may be just a coincidence, but I also stopped eating a food that had nitrites and nitrates in it when I got sick and haven't had swelling symptoms at all since. I am too afraid to try that food and test it out, because I really don't want to swell and be in pain. It's not worth the chance.

So that's why I've been so quiet. I really wasn't on the computer much, other than I had audio stories playing when I was awake. I was too sick to watch anything and too sick to read, but listening to stories I could handle. I do bless all the people on youtube who tell stories, especially the ones who do voices and add music and make it interesting. Hopefully as I get stronger, I can get back to my normal life again.

It's Official

February 27th, 2019 at 08:39 pm

I should have posted this the other day, but I have been dragging and the extent of my online activity has been on the level of watching videos of a cat singing the Game of Thrones theme song on youtube or the like. Yeah, that's where my intellectual capacity has been at. So not a lot of brain power going on.

Anyway, the raise for DH is official and all of the paperwork has now been signed. It won't be on the next paycheck, but will be on the last one of March. He's officially told the other place he won't be working for them.

On the bad side, the alternator is going out in the truck so we are going to have to get that fixed to the tune of around $600. I have $250 in the car maintenance fund. They had said it was going at the oil change DH had last week and today when DH pulled in the driveway it was really straining. Hopefully we can get it to the dealership without having to call a tow truck.

They made it sound like it would probably last six months, but we don't think so after today. It also needs the air filter, the cabin filter, the spark plugs, and the brake fluid replaced and we have decided to do all of that. So we will dip into the EF for this for the rest of the money. I had been planning to use the tax refund when it came, but I don't think it will be here in time now. But we will reimburse the EF when the tax refund comes. Sadly, it will probably use up the entire tax refund. But at least we will break even.

I will start saving $100 a month instead of $50 a month to the car maintenance fund for the next two months, just to build that back up again. Or maybe keep it at that level. The truck is a 2007 and there may be some other issues coming up. A belt or a fuel pump or something, though as of now those things are fine according to the mechanic.

I worry less about the van. It is a 2011 and we haven't hit 45,000 miles on it yet, but it will be needing an oil change shortly and I would like to eventually get the dent pulled out that DH put in it a couple years ago.

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.

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).

Trying Not to Be Frustrated with the World

February 1st, 2019 at 06:11 pm

Despite the fact that it has been since July, it still feels strange to not get paid weekly. I mean, we budget for two weeks and it isn't like anything needs to be done during that time period after the bills are paid, but maybe that is the problem. I am so used to being hands-on on a weekly basis and now it is like it is set for cruise control and I'm there, but there is nothing for me to do unless I see an accident coming up ahead.

DH and I have started watching the Financial Peace University videos. We had started a while back and then life got busy. We decided to restart from the beginning and I am glad we did, because they have completely revamped the presentation. And what's really neat is that DH knows one of the guys in the video doing the testimonials. He worked with him up in Alaska.

We took a big step and cut up all but one credit card. DH is cancelling them, too, but the idea of cutting them up just seems so huge and something we have really both been resisting. We are keeping the one for auto pays, as I've had them double charge too often. Yes, they fix it in a couple of days, but if you double charge on a debit card and there isn't enough money to cover that, you get fees and it is such a mess to sort out even when it isn't your error. I feel more secure having the auto pays on a credit card for that reason.

Now you could say that we could just keep extra in the checking account, but we run a zero based budget, so that makes it difficult, as we don't keep a huge cushion in there. I know we can do it, but I'm just not sure we are 100% there yet. There is also the fact that with the debit card they can put a hold on your account. A hold on a credit card with a huge limit is not that big a deal, but a hold on money in your checking account is.

I know that I am justifying. I just think that when we only use it for travelling and auto pays and it is paid in fully each month, and we are as disciplined as we are, we can handle it. One day when we have enough money to have a large cushion again, we can go fully to debit, but that will not be until after the loan is paid off and we've saved at least 3 months of expenses. We will get there, but we are not there yet.

Personally, I want to do the part where you stop all retirement contributions until you are out of debt, because I think we'd be out of debt by the end of the year that way, but DH is against it. He's the one who wanted to do Dave Ramsey in the first place, but he doesn't actually want to "do" Dave Ramsey. Just the parts he agrees with. I get all his arguments, I agree they make sense logically, but I just want to be out of debt.

I don't mind doing retirement while saving up the full EF, but I want to be done with this debt. It frustrates me, because I feel like if you are only doing things halfway, it'll take twice as long, if not three times as long. I am so tempted to call Dave's show and ask him what to do about this. Of course he'll tell me to get rid of that last card, but he'll also tell DH to knuckle under to the plan. I think maybe some straight-talking from the man himself is in order. Or maybe I'll just email him.

We have been debt snowballing for as long as I've been blogging here. Not on the Dave Ramsey plan, just debt snowballing. And having a small EF. And it worked, but I don't think it worked as well as it could have if we'd been all in and had refused to take on any more debt (like the car purchases we made along the way). And we still aren't all in. We're 3/4 of the way in. Well, I'm 3/4 of the way in. DH is 1/2 of the way in. And while he is more of the free-spirit than I am financially, he still qualified as a nerd on the financial nerd vs. free spirit test. One more point and he'd have been a free spirit, though. I only had one free spirit point and seven nerd points.

In other news, I signed up for my Enbrel co-pay card. It should be here in a couple of days and then I can call the mail-order pharmacy and get the shots shipped to me. I am really hoping this will help me function better on a day to day basis. I'm not thrilled with the side effects of the drug, but the side effects of RA are at this point making it worth taking the risk to see if it helps. It may not even help.

In other, other news, the Girl Scouts are out with their super aggressive cookie sales and behaving as badly as ever at a store near you. I will be so glad when cookie season is over. Meanwhile, I will shop in the mornings instead of the afternoons, and see about making a small contribution to Campfire USA. I've never had a kid from there block the doors, grab my cart, and shout that I had to buy their cookies because they were almost at their goal. No, entitled munchkin, I do not.

I got the shower and tub cleaned today. I still need to do the sliding doors and the little shelves, though, but I will do those when I shower. It's easier. I used Barkeeper's Friend. It is amazing. We are keeping up with the kitchen so far and not letting it devolve into chaos again. Tomorrow's goal is to clean off the top of the bathroom vanity, clean the bathroom sink, and sweep the bathroom floor. Well, that's my goal.

DH's goal is to get the little section between the fridge and the cabinets cleaned out and to clean behind the fridge. And then if either one of us still has energy to take care of the armchair that has turned into a catch-all. We will get organized this year if it kills us.

Yesterday was a Little Surreal

January 26th, 2019 at 09:57 pm

Yesterday was payday and it was the day of our big two week grocery shop. We got started late. Really late. Normally I hate to do things in the late afternoon and evening because the traffic is nasty and the stores are packed. But due to one thing after the other, we didn't make it to do the banking until 4:00.

I noticed how light the traffic was on the way to credit union #1. As we pulled in, there was only one car in drive-thru, but two lanes open so I was able to pull right up and get my cash out and be on our way. It has never been dead like that on a Friday afternoon before.

Then we went to CU #2, which is where I have my medical fund. I keep it separate from regular banking so there is no crossover. It's a little extra running, but it is worth it to me to have the accounts physically separated. So I had to go in, because for some reason they had a $1000 hold on my account and have done for three weeks. Ever since I cashed that big $5000 check from MIL. It should have come off over two weeks ago. They had some kind of glitch. So the teller took it off.

But anyway, we walk in and there is no one visible. This place is always bustling at 4:30 on a Friday. There are several desks that usually have people at them and you can usually see people in the back offices. As we came forward we could see one teller who had been blocked by a pillar and one person at a desk behind a large potted plant, and then a little further there were a couple of women in a walled off office. But at first glance it was like someone had come and abducted all the people.

Back on the road there was still no traffic. We went to store #1, got a front space for parking, in a lot that was 1/3 full. Got in, didn't have to navigate around a ton of people, walked right up to an empty cashier. We were in and out in 15 minutes. This never happens at this time. We hit Safeway right at 5. I kept waiting for a massive traffic back up, but nothing. The lot was only half full and again we got in and out, even with a lot of stuff, quickly. Now normally at 5:30 it takes about 20 minutes to get out of their parking lot. It is usually just atrocious.

We made it to the Food Co-op by 6. No one in the parking lot. Maybe 10 cars when it is usually wall to wall. Only needed 3 things and we were on to Costco. The huge main road was not back upped even a little. Now the Costco parking lot was quite full, but even so, we got a spot right up near the building. A few rows from the door, but still right up front.

We were in and out in another 20 minutes. Never happens. Not ever. Then on to Trader Joe's. Trader Joe's is usually worse than Costco on a Friday, but we were riding the luck. Again, parking right up front and less than 30 minutes in the store.

It took me a while to realize what was even going on. A lot people hadn't been shopping or on the roads to go shopping because they hadn't been getting their paychecks. That has to be it. It is the only thing I can think of that would have made it so easy to travel and shop yesterday. But it felt like a complete Twilight Zone experience.

I did spend right up to my new $500 budget, but I got some really great deals on meat and vegetables. DS and I will be doing more cooking lessons this week and we are both going to be eating a lot more healthy. Some of our go to products have started incorporating soy. These were some of the last few convenience items we were buying, so now we are eliminating the altogether. Sad, but necessary.

I am going to teach him how to make fruit bars and granola bars this week, since they now have soy. They are easy enough to make and then he will have a few safe snack foods on hand. We did find a granola cereal, though, without almonds. It uses pecans instead. I was happy about that. I don't eat granola often because it is not that healthy with the sugar content. This uses maple sugar. Sugar is sugar, so I still won't eat it much, but a little once in a while.

Does anyone have a good club cracker recipe? That's what has soy in it now. I'll take plain, but if there is a multi-grain one, that would be awesome. Just no soy. Even the TJ multi-grain crackers have soy. Soy, last time I checked, is not a grain.

I've got my counters completely cleared off now. I wiped down all the appliances and the knife block. I am just waiting for my husband to get back home so he clean the last two inches in the corner that my fingers are not long enough to reach. There is also a spider there, so there's that. Then everything can go into place and we are going to keep it nice and uncluttered from now on. At least, that is the hope.

I got the pasta shelf and the Asian cooking shelf wiped down and got rid of some soy sauce that was in the back. There were two open bottles, so I dumped those and recycled them. I found out I have more sesame oil and hoison sauce than I thought, so won't need to buy those for a while, but am low on rice vinegar. I don't use it often, though, so probably won't buy more until I run out. I need to get oyster sauce next payday, but I'm good on mirin and coconut aminos for a while yet.

I also found the parts to my Kitchen Aid spice grinder that were missing because someone put them away wrong. I like that one for the heavy duty spices like cloves, fennel seeds, cardamom, star anise, and cinnamon sticks and things that scratch because it has a stainless steel chamber and doesn't throw stuff against the lid.

I also found the other spice grinder dedicated to grinding peppers only. If I try to grind anything else in it, it flavors it with pepper flavors. Not fun when you've been making homemade cayenne powder or chili powder. I found the top to the third spice grinder that I use for herbs, but am not sure where the bottom is. Maybe one of the drawers I haven't gotten to yet. I have 3 more drawers to clean out and reorganize. I'll do that tomorrow. Then all the cabinet doors need to be wiped down and the sink and back splash washed down. Then the kitchen should be done.

I threw out the old can opener. We bought a new one a year ago that does the safe rim, instead of the sharp rim. The cutter part was kind of bent out of shape and wasn't opening right anyway, so I don't even know why it was still around. Oh, and I found the toaster tongs. They make it so much easier to get English muffins out of the toaster.

I've only got two more days of Prednisone left, so hopefully I can finish what I want to get done in that time. I know I will crash back down as soon as I go off it, so I am taking advantage of it while I've got it. There are some more shelves that could do with some organizing that are not in the kitchen, but have excess kitchen stuff on them and I hope to get to that tomorrow, too.

I should be exhausted after the last two days, but I'm not. Prednisone is a wonderful invention. I wish I could feel like this all the time. After I am done with my antibiotics, I am going to get my cortisol levels tested. I think there is something wrong with them if steroids will make me feel decent and functional again. I do have a lot of the same symptoms as my daughter when it comes to adrenal issues, so it is worth getting it checked out.

Identity Theft Again

December 16th, 2018 at 07:55 pm

The last several days have been pretty awful and not just because of my cold, although that was bad, too. My ears blocked up on the 12th and only cleared this morning. If I thought I was dizzy and the world was spinning before, every time I tried to pop my ears it also felt like I was on a sail boat in rough water. I have had spinning before, but never up and down dizziness. I had to just close my eyes and sit still for several minutes and wait for it to stop. It is nice to be able to hear properly again. I'm still not over this thing, but it is down to a runny nose now and tiredness now, which is a huge improvement.

The bad part, financially is two-fold. One, someone used DH's Best Buy account to order a laptop. They swamped his email with Russian subscriptions to try to hide the message from Best Buy, but DH has it set up so that certain emails always go to the top. It was ordered by some guy named Todd Peterson in Oregon. DH was able to cancel it and changed the password on his Best Buy account. They had charged it to a credit card number that looked familiar, but wasn't one of our current credit card numbers. I think it might have been one of our numbers before we were issued new cards with new numbers due to identity theft six months ago. If so, I'm not sure how he managed to even order it. Anyway, it got taken care of it, but it was worrying.

Then we found out DH's Paypal account had been hacked. Someone changed the main email on it to a different one, but left his as a secondary. They also changed the language to Spanish. They had also withdrawn $1000 from our checking account, which I normally would have caught much sooner, but I've been sick and doing the bare minimum with finances. Fortunately the money was still sitting there in his account and once he was able to get into it and change it back into English he deleted that foreign e-mail and changed his password, set it so his phone had to be texted for anything on the account could be changed again, and deleted all cards or checking accounts from Paypal.

I went on to Paypal for myself and everything looked fine for me. As with all instances of identity theft so far, they have had to do with DH's info. I changed my password just to be on the safe side and set it up with my phone to be texted if anyone tried to change anything and then DH transferred the $1000 to me and I transferred it back to our checking account. Hopefully it will be there on Monday. Fortunately we had enough money in the account to cover everything we had paid out. I will be making it a priority to be checking our checking accounts every few days now, even when I feel like death.

So while it was a major hassle, at least no money was permanently stolen from us. The third thing that happened is the new computer DH bought is not working after a week. He bought it directly from HP and it quit functioning a week in. He decided to do a reset to factory settings and it erased the drive. So he's been trying to get HP support, but they have very limited hours and no one is there on weekends. Seems like a poor way to run a business in this day and age. He is going to send it back and either get his money back or get a new one.

I am hoping they will just give him a new one. I was worried about him buying it from them direct instead of through Best Buy, where we at least have Geek Squad protection. Of course, that was before the Best Buy hack. He did it because he could get a better computer that way for the same money. Not better if it doesn't work.

I hope this is the last we see of this nonsense, but I realize we may very well be dealing with this for some time. Stupid companies that can't protect our information. That $1000 could have caused a world of hurt if we'd lost it.