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Fundraising for Local Charity and Surprise at the Hairdresser!

October 6th, 2019 at 03:27 pm

This afternoon I went out with some others from my church collecting money for a local charity here which helps people who have been vicitimized by domestic violence. The woman and her two boys who are my partners (and have been the past 4 years) were actually helped by this charity. So it brings it really home.

After I was done with that, I stopped at the mall and found out that JC Penny's does still have a hair salon. (I wasn't sure .. it had been years since I'd used it.)

The hairstylist and I chit chatted away as you do. At some point she had mentioned that she was from Utah and that she had been Morman. Later on in the conversation I mentioned that the transit manager here is Mormon.

Guess what? He's her bishop!!

Whew! Glad I didn't say anything negative about the job. Smile (Goes to show that you JUST NEVER KNOW.)

She was emailing him as I left to tell him about this awesome customer she had today. Big Grin

Whew!

October 1st, 2019 at 07:26 pm

I have been blogging here since January, 2005. There have been a few times the blogs were down, but thankfully so far, they have always come back!

This latest round though has made me want to do two things: 1. figure out a way to store all my posts somewhere else as a double safe-guard; and 2. Create a backup place for us to gather in case something more permanent ever happens. (*Please note, this isn't anything against James, the current site owner. I just feel it would be good to have a backup.)

I haven't quite figured out #1 yet (really should be working on another job application right now ...), but I do think I have come up with a solution for #2. It's not perfect by any means (though it does have some neat features like a real time chat box) but it would do in an emergency. Smile

I have it set so that I have to approve any new members - so hopefully that would limit spam. There's two sections, one is a general one, viewable by people not logged in, and one for the Journals, viewable only by members who are logged in. Again, hopefully this would help keep the spam (and rude commenters) down.

Anyway ... if you are interested in joining as a placeholder (i.e. in case of emergency) then please leave a comment down below. Please make sure to use the email in your comment with which you would register - that way I know it is you when I go to approve registrations. (###Please#### Do Not Post Your Email IN the comment.)

This is a free forum (and one that has been used by another forum I'm part of - in anticipation of our current forums demise) so as long as the host is around, this could be an option.

If you'd like to be a moderator (i.e. at this point, just someone to be my second - in case something happens to me, a second person who has some access authority to the forum) please let me know.

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Okay ... in other news ...

I have declared a moratorium on purchasing anything other than food, gas, or medically necessary items for the next two weeks. Looking at my spending the past few months ... not good. The money WAS in my budget/spending category, but I've just been a little too free with it. Not really thinking through purchases.

HealthyWage - doing ok. Not eating til noon was *really* hard the first couple of days, and then again on the weekend. But overall, it is getting easier. I need to work on the stopping eating at almost comfortably full. That would probably help the weight loss.

RunBet - I have completed 2 of the 3 required runs for the first week. I have to do the 3rd one tomorrow or else. Smile

StepBet - I canceled (refunded) out of the first one I joined, and then switched to a different one. We're still in our warm-up week. The bet really starts on Monday.

***I might possibly be having a job interview next week!!** GULP

What books/sites would anyone recommend for current information on how to be a good manager/supervisor? I know the website Ask A Manager, but am not sure what would be some other quality resources.

I'm also applying for another position which closes on Thursday. It would be a step up in position, but not a pay raise initially - eventually it would be though, since the ceiling is higher than my current one. (government jobs have pay ranges - you start at the bottom, unless you're in the middle of it or something, and then the yearly merit raises stop once you reach the ceiling - though you still get cost of living raises.)

SO READY to do something else.

Okay, I really need to stop procrastinating.

Been Awhile

March 23rd, 2019 at 05:40 pm

Just checking in. Not really too much to report. The most interesting? thing going on recently is all the flooding in my state (NE) and Iowa.

The immediate impact has only been felt as water restrictions - which were mandatory for two days, and then voluntary for 3 days. Seeing all the pictures of the animals who were stuck in the water or snow for days - their flesh eaten away at … Frown Frown Frown All those homes and people's livelihoods GONE. So sad.


The longer term impact I think will be felt much further away than just the Midwest. I expect meat prices to go up, and probably wheat/corn too.


Being so close to so much devastation, and yet not really being affected by it, makes you wonder how that happens. How do people move forward after losing everything but their lives?


We work so hard to be financially smart. To work towards financial goals like retirement or being debt free or paying off a house … Yet all that work and effort could be gone in an instant through no fault of your own.


I was talking to my insurance person (the company that has our home insurance and auto is pulling out of NE) and she was telling me that the majority of the people don't have flood insurance. So FEMA is their only hope.

Then you see what is happening in Africa, and our flooding issues become insignificant.

Sigh.

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In other news … I finished my second class - an A+ of course. Smile I start my 3rd one in a few weeks - Business English. Not particularly looking forward to that - but a refresh of grammar probably won't hurt.


DH and I took a road trip to Des Moines plus 2 hours last Sunday. He wanted to attend a fish swap and buy a huge tub thing from some guy out in the country. We stopped at Bennigan's for dinner - so DH got his corned beef meal. That was a LONG ten hours of driving.


DH is really getting going on the fish thing - has been breeding like crazy. He has a contact at a local fish store that is buying some off of him. There's fish tanks all over the basement …


He's lost 70lbs since his heart attack (Oct) and just got his most recent bloodwork - cholesterol under 100!! Blood sugar was back in normal range. He's done it completely by just losing weight - not by eating healthier … just less.


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A CD that paid 5% for 12 months came due this month. I had them put the money back into cash. I'll be moving it into our checking which pays 4%. (The renewal rate was something ridiculous - around 2%)


I haven't filed our taxes yet. In no hurry since we owe.


I got back to my highest weight … sigh.


Am trying a method espoused by a book titled Mini-habits for weight loss. I picked four super small habits which I religiously try to accomplish - 1. Do one (wall) pushup. 2. Walk/run/dance for one minute. 3. Eat one salad. 4. Fill water bottle and drink it all.


I also added two more mini-habits - 1. Clean something for one minute. 2. Open a French app.


About 9 days into it, and I only missed 100% on last Sunday with the marathon drive. Most days I'm doing way more than the minimum. It seems to be working - I'm back down 3 lbs and I'm getting things done at home.

Anyway, this is pretty long now. I will try to check in more often. I do read everyone's blogs, even if I'm not leaving many comments anymore.

Refund?!

January 29th, 2019 at 05:59 pm

I got my W2 today, as well as the last two tax forms from banks. I had entered in my stock sale info based off what I could find on Vanguard's site.

I had fully expected to not only not get the tax saver's credit this year, but to have to pay 3 or 4 thousand in taxes.

I guess this tax bill worked in our favor this year....

Not only do we not have to pay anything in, but it looks like a $554 Federal refund! I am flabbergasted.

The money I left sitting in the account to cover the taxes can now actually be put to use!

I'm going to test this on a couple other tax prep sites just to be sure …

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One thing I'm not sure about. I paid for one class in 2018. I'm being reimbursed for it in 2019. Do I claim it on my 2018 taxes - because the reimbursement will be on my 2019 taxes?

Small World, etc.

January 21st, 2019 at 05:41 pm

I was playing SwagIQ tonight and not really listening to the guy rambling about the winners, when all of the sudden I heard "creditcardfree!"

Was that you CCF?!

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I stayed home and vegged all weekend. Finished Season 2 of Handmaid's Tale. Got myself a week and a half ahead in my online class. (You're allowed to work ahead.) Not much else really.

DH and I went out to eat Sunday night at Hacienda Rael. I got the veggie fajitas. I ate 1/3 Sunday night, and then had some for breakfast and dinner today. Yummy!

I'm 8 days out with no added sugar! (Partly why I holed myself up this weekend - my sweet tooth was saying go out and get something …)

Tonight I made something that might be very dangerous. I soaked 8 mejoodl dates, and then pitted them. Put them in my small food processor, added a Tbsp of cacoa powder (the non-sugar kind), about 1/4 cup of almond milk, and 2 Tbsp of natural pb. OH MY YUM!!! I could have eaten the whole thing right then and there.

But I put it in the freezer to set (after scoring it into 6 pieces.) I'm going to try to restrain myself to one a day.

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I cashed out for another $50 SBs PayPal. It was a payout from a focus group I did a bit over a month ago. I'm glad I was patient - was getting ready to email to find out what the delay was about.

I made over $500 in spending money this month! $200 from signing up for Doordash via Swagbucks, and then a couple other offers credited, plus CC cash rewards, etc. If only I could do that every month!

My plane ticket for France is fully funded, and now I'm working on funding lodging/travel expenses.

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I'm starting my 4th book of 2019 - Atomic Habits by James Clear. It has to be back to the library by Thursday - it has holds on it. So, I'll have to read quickly. Smile My first non-fiction book of the year. (I'm going to try to do 1 non-fiction per month. Not counting cookbooks …)

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I won another Stepbet - it looks like a $10.50 payout ($50.50 altogether.) If we get a treadmill, then I'm going to do the Runbet again.

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Right now we have spent the least on groceries in nearly a year! There's still 9 days left of course … but I don't need anything for this week, and won't need much for next week.

$tretching, etc.

January 16th, 2019 at 06:27 pm

So DH found an insurance company that will cover him (did I mention he'd been given the pink slip by Farmer's??) His current liability only for 3 vehicles is $332 for 6 months. As of February, liability only (with slightly higher coverages) will be $882 for 6 months.


Ever since August I have been saving more than normal for his car insurance renewal - but nowhere near enough for this.


--

The vehicle which he has been dragging his feet on selling is $349 of that. I'm of half a mind to tell him he can pay that portion out of his spending money - then when he actually sells the darn thing, he can be reimbursed for whatever portion they reimburse.

But in reality, it probably is a good thing he hadn't sold it yet. Since his CRV developed bad suspension issues. We were quoted $1700+ by Brakes Plus. The husband of a lady who I go to church with, did the labor for $285 and DH ebayed the parts for another $230.

Of course, it now desperately needs new tires - to the tune of $500. We have $440 in our car repair fund.

A couple of times DH has mentioned that we really should have at least $1k in our car repair fund. Um … yeah, we would have that - if his cars weren't needing repairs all the time!
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The property appraisals came out last weekend. Our house had a $25k increase. Um …. There are also rumblings about increasing property taxes.

That's about a $55/mo increase - which isn't terrible … but when you couple it with the huge hike in insurance premiums, increased ROTH contributions to max out, and other piddly increases in various services … Ugh.

We're going to have to seriously reconsider how we do the budget. And I know he's going to hate my suggestion. Not that I'm going to like it much either. But the money has to come from somewhere, right?

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Oh, we still are deciding on if we are getting a treadmill or not. DH is worried we'd get shocked when using it since our plugs aren't grounded. So .. he's looking into joining a health club.

That's fine - it's just it only benefits him, and it'd make it easier to not do it.

So if he decides to go the gym route, that's another monthly expense to add.

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Some of this is mitigated by a 3rd paycheck this month. That will cover the increased insurance premium and the shortfall in the tires. I had other ideas for the money … but what can you do?

I also received a very generous check from my aunt for Christmas. When she told me about it, it almost sounded to me like she wanted it to all be for me only. I did not tell DH this, because I didn't want him to feel bad.

It's not his fault that he basically has no family left, nor that my family is pretty generous. I feel when I'm given money like that - that it belongs to us equally. My mom has sent me $100 for my birthday before - but none for him on his birthday. I split it with him (again, he doesn't know it was meant just for me.)


I have 3 family members who could quite possibly pass on in the next year to two years. Cancer, old age and Parkinson's/defeated attitude. I have travel money set aside for this. 2 of the 3 I'd probably be reimbursed at least plane fare.


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I have not done any shops for Shipt. I have tried, but it really doesn't seem to be busy in my area.

I kind of have given up on it.


I signed up for Door Dash through SBs when it had the $200 bonus. I actually kind of like it! I have done 10 orders over 4 dashes and made about $72 + the $200 bonus came through early from SBs.


When it stays light out longer, I might do a few hours during the week, and a few on the weekend.


I was going to dash last weekend, but decided the weather wasn't something I wanted to deal with in my car. This weekend could be a repeat of that unfortunately.


I managed to finish reading/read 3 books in one day … Smile thanks to being snowed in. (2 by Tracie Peterson - Embers of Love/Hearts Aglow, 1 by Petersheim called The Divide) I started the 3rd book in the Peterson series - Hope Rendered.

I had read about half of Embers of Love while on … Jury Duty! Yes, last week (and this week) I was slated for jury duty. I actually got further than Ii ever have before - into the courtroom and sitting in the pews to listen to the voir dire (sp?) After 2 hours, all but 12 of us were dismissed.

I learned one thing though that made me glad I didn't get on the jury - if we were sequestered, not only no tv, no Internet, etc. But NO books!! Sorry, I'm not down with that.

I'm curious to find out how much I'll be paid for my time. For work, I just had to keep track of my time away, but got paid normally.

Um... Wow! (Post 2)

January 1st, 2019 at 02:20 pm

So I've been doing some banking today.

First, I decided to transfer the funds from my Brink Mastercard account back to my credit union. My CU is paying 4% now, so the hassle of the Brinks card for 5% isn't really worth it anymore. Done.

Then I paid my gas bill. (I have to do this manually each month to pay via my US Bank Cash+ card for the 5% back.) It's on budget billing. I decided to look at our energy usage - it was pretty obvious that we've been using a lot less energy the last 6 months or so. (I would have to check to be sure, but I think it might correlate with the installation of our new water heater.)

So … I looked at our most recent bill. Yep, we have a $120 credit. That means that whenever they readjust our budget billing amount, our monthly amount will go down. Sweet. (I much prefer the budget billing method, even if it does mean there's sometimes a credit or a debit. Makes the budget much smoother in my opinion.)

THEN … I created an account to pay the bill for DH's first part of his hospital stay. The one where I had called to ask about any adjustments for paying in full.

The paper bill said $1289. The online bill said we only owed $59!! Say what???

I did some more sleuthing, and it appears that they adjusted the balance to where we only owe $59!!

This is going to make getting the spending bonus on the new credit card a little more difficult .. but I'm okay with that!

Now if the ambulance balance will do the same thing … wouldn't that be marvelous? Smile (We owe $1001 - the city sent me a remimbursement for $982 to pay towards it. Not sure why, but I'll take it.)

Oh, I also opened a new checking account due to doctor of Credit - Elements Financial CU. It should be a $200 bonus after a couple direct deposits.

Looking Back, Looking Forward

January 1st, 2019 at 10:54 am

Looking back at 2018 financially …

We increased our EF by $1200.

I had a goal to increase by $3000, but we had several weeks where DH was off work due to his heart attack, plus lots more medical costs. So I'm ok with it only increasing that much.


We fully funded both of our IRA's to the tune of $12k. ($1k of that funding did come from selling non-IRA stock the month after DHs hospital stay.)


We sold all of the electric car stock at $350/share. It went up to $369 a few weeks later, but is now at around $300 … so I'm glad to be off that roller coaster ride. All the funds were put into an index fund - either in the taxable account or our IRA's.


DH successfully raised and sold his first batch of angel fish. Fish are his main hobby right now (he owned two pet stores when he was younger.) This hobby comes from his fun money so it doesn't really affect our finances.


I paid for my cruise vacation with my mom fully out of my fun money - earned via Swagbucks, Earnably, Earnhoney, YouGov, credit card rewards, etc. etc.


Our medical fund was pretty much wiped out this year … but we had the money set aside for it. I'm putting it all on a credit card which will give me $500 cash back. So … a small win there.


DH has lost 45 lbs+ since Oct. I have gained 30lbs since January ….


At work my employer added 9% of my salary to my retirement, took 6% of my salary, and then I added another 11% or so. I increased the amount in February when I got a step raise, but since the new contract hasn't been signed yet, I haven't gotten my cost of living raise yet (usually in August) so that's all I increased it.


We paid $2k cash for some yardwork / improvements. This hopefully will reap dividends in ease of maintenance going forward.

I completed one course towards my AA degree - advanced typing, with a 97%. As soon as I get the official grade report, I'll be putting in for reimbursement.
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Looking forward:

I will be taking 2 -3 more courses towards my AA degree in 2019. (Microsoft Applications 1 and 2, and possibly Intro to Accounting)


My supervisor will be retiring in November … so I'm not sure how that is going to affect things at work. She's working on our main boss to reclassify me to a higher level of pay.

I would like to add $2k to our EF.


I want to save $2k towards our medical deductible again.


We will fully fund our IRA's at $13k this year.


We need to focus on putting money towards our car repair fund. 3 of our 4 vehicles are really old and eating up money.


We will either be purchasing a treadmill or DH will be signing up for a gym membership. Purchasing a treadmill may involve getting an electrician to ground some of our electrical outlets - this is something we are still researching.


Hopefully a fence will happen this year. We have the money set aside for it - its just getting someone to actually do it!


DH wants to continue to grow his fish business.


I'm continuing to save towards a possible France trip - once my SIL is able to leave the US again. I have $600 of my $2000 goal.


Some of my usual earnings sites are getting more difficult to earn from. I have signed up with Shipt and Doordash to hopefully make up for lost fun money from those sites. My goal is to bring in $200/month besides what I can manage on the various sites.


I must stop the weight gain. The big culprit is my not avoiding the junkfood - i.e. sugar and chocolate. I have managed to avoid soda for over 2 years now - mainly by not allowing myself even a "sip" of DHs when eating out. I think that may be the only way for me to overcome the sugar/junkfood thing too - just say 100% NO.


This will also help the grocery spending …


I'm doing well overall with a whole foods plant based diet - except when I make exceptions for the junk I crave. No more exceptions! Lets see the power of this way of eating.


I bought a pedal exerciser thing from Aldi, and am looking at one of those bike stands if we don't get a treadmill.