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update

October 27th, 2017 at 06:30 pm

Hi all!

I'm still renting. My realtor continues to send me properties, but at this point, I wouldn't want to move until the spring. However, I will be getting new neighbors very soon (and we share several walls with little sound insulation). I'm hoping for quiet people, especially because I have a very anxious, noise-sensitive cat.

I've got another venture in the works - I'm going to grad school! I enrolled in a MA in leadership program that I think will work well in my current department and potentially anywhere else I choose to go. I'm a bit nervous! I think it's the right choice given my rather random work history and unrelated bachelor's degrees, but I wish I felt 100% sure it's the perfect choice for my future. I'm not thrilled about taking out student loans (since I am completely debt free and have been for a long time), but I'm planning to cap them around $10K total and pay the rest myself. My employer offers $2000 in tuition reimbursement per year, which will help. The program will only take 18 months, so I'll finish a few months after I turn 40!

I plan to continue to receive home listings with the hope that prices will come down a bit and maybe something perfect will pop up next year.

I'm still struggling with forcing myself to have an active social life. I deleted all of my dating apps months ago and haven't attended any meetups either. I guess I've fallen into the work-home routine and haven't felt like putting in the effort to meet new people. I'm a homebody at heart.

Speaking of home, I made spaghetti squash with spicy peanut sauce, stir fry veggies, and baked tofu. It was so amazing that I bought another spaghetti squash just to have it again!

not much luck on the homebuying front

August 1st, 2017 at 09:06 pm

Well, I've looked at 27 houses and haven't had much luck. Prices keep going up up up, and these houses don't merit their listing prices, in my opinion. I considered making an offer on a couple of them, but they didn't quite feel right, so I didn't. I'd have to give my landlord 2 months' notice, so I'm running out of time to avoid moving in the winter! There's no rush for me to buy, and I knew going in that it might not happen this year. I just hope my car outlasts the market so I don't have to ruin my home ownership goal by financing a car. (I know, pay cash, don't finance, but that's not a realistic option.)

This summer has been full of fun classes and socializing and too much spending! I had to take a last minute trip across the country to visit an ill relative, but my mom went as well, which turned it into a relatively pleasant trip.

Thanks to whomever posted about the Frugalwoods blog! I've found it inspirational and am planning to have a frugal August.

I've lost 5 pounds just by cutting back slightly on my calories and walking more. I bought a new FitBit a couple of months ago and it has definitely helped motivate me to get up my from my desk more often!

updates

May 12th, 2017 at 03:32 pm

I'm still plugging away at my home ownership goal. I've been pre-approved by two lenders, so if I find something, I can compare their offers. The available first-time homebuyer program providing downpayment assistance (which I mentioned in my last post) doesn't seem like a great deal, all things considered. I'd rather pull the same amount of money from my Roth IRA penalty-free than have a permanently higher interest rate with little opportunity to refinance.

I'll be meeting a realtor this weekend to look at homes. I went to a few open houses last weekend. Two of them already had multiple offers and they were requesting all offers be in by that afternoon. Things are just flying off the market! I don't have to move, so I refuse to be pressured into anything.

I've planted a garden in pots for the last two years, but this year I may not plant anything but basil. Last year the squirrels decimated my tomatoes, peppers, shallots, flowers, nearly everything. It hardly seems worth it. My coworker and I are splitting a CSA share this summer, so hopefully I'll get enough produce that way. I really, really, really miss having a real garden.

I received email notification about a spam comment on one of my old posts from 2006! I read through the post. Funny how things were so different and yet so similar.

Happy Friday, everyone!

loan officers

April 15th, 2017 at 10:59 pm

I've decided that I need to accomplish something this year - buying a house, buying a car, going back to school for a Master's degree, or some combination of the three. Since I have no debt and any new debt would ding my credit score, I'm researching the house option first.

I talked with a loan officer yesterday and learned that my credit score is fantastic (yay!) and I could be approved for way more than I'd want. Unfortunately, since I don't have a 20% down payment (and when would I ever??), with the loan option he presented, keeping a monthly loan payment at or near my current rent payment would be difficult. There are houses in my price range...just not at all where I'd feel safe living, or they would require a LOT of work (read: money). I don't mind work but I don't want to rebuild walls or gut moldy bathrooms. Also, with that loan, I'd have to stay in the house for 9 years with a low household income or pay back a 6.25% recapture tax based on the original mortgage. If my household income increased (say, I got married within those 9 years), and I needed to sell the house, I'd have to pay the recapture tax plus $8000 in down payment assistance. Ouch.

I reached out to three more mortgage loan providers today for prequalifications. Hopefully they can come up with better options.

If not, I'll try to shelve the idea and move on. That's really hard to think about. I'm pining for a house with a garden and no shared walls. Reliable at-home cell phone service and closer access to single-people activities would be nice, too.

In other news, I'm 90% sure my closest friend is going to pack up her family and move across the country. Once she gets an idea in her head, it's game on. I'm devastated but trying to accept it. I briefly considered moving as well (in the opposite direction, to the west coast, where I've always wanted to be), but I feel I need to stay within reasonable driving distance of my parents. Maybe someday.

verizon etc

April 4th, 2017 at 08:13 pm

I'm trying to switch from Verizon postpaid to prepaid service. I was on the phone with them for an hour. They transferred me to five different people, hung up on me once, charged my credit card, and now my phone doesn't work. I'm waiting for a call back (to a landline) that may or may not occur within the next 90 minutes. Not cool. If they can actually accomplish this, I should save $17 a month. UPDATE: They never called me. I called back and finally connected to a human only through blind luck. I'll now have to fight the first credit card charge because they "lost" it, but it was that or be without a phone for 10 days. Zero apologies from them. I'll save $204 a year but my hair is exponentially grayer.

I finished my third antibiotic last weekend but I'm still sick. I'm not sure if this is the same infection or if I've caught something else. I really don't want to take another round of antibiotics.

I took a free online home buying class today and - wow. I'm saving as much as I can right now but even that doesn't seem like enough, even if I did it consistently for the next 10 years. A friend recommended I talk to a loan officer; I might do that anyway.

Last weekend I spent some time making pros and cons lists for several different aspects of my life - moving, job, higher education. Getting a car loan or a student loan at this point would greatly reduce my home loan possibilities. An advanced degree would probably help me eventually obtain a higher salary, if only I could decide what I want to do.

I watched a Ted Talk on "multipotentialites" - people with lots of different interests and career possibilities who end up job hopping instead of picking "one true calling". It made me feel a little better about my scattered resume. I still wish I could find a calling, though...

more medication

March 27th, 2017 at 08:16 pm

I woke up with full-body hives last Friday thanks to my second round of antibiotics. After talking with the nurse, calling in sick, and slapping some makeup on my face, I went to the store with my jacket zipped to my chin and picked up the requisite Zyrtec and Benadryl. I spent all weekend sleeping and drinking ridiculous amounts of water. I still have a rash...and a sinus infection. SO over it. I keep thinking that I need to find a work from home job. I've been sick for three months already this season and this round shows no signs of abating.

A friend told me about making phone calls over wifi without Facetime. I looked into it and it's possible with a newer phone. I just need to suck it up and buy one!

chai tea

March 23rd, 2017 at 02:18 pm

I broke my eating out spending fast! I stopped at a grocery store with a coffee shop after a particularly odd work meeting and decided to pick up a coffee for my officemate to perk up his day. I got an almond milk chai tea to perk up mine as well. Wink

I'm taking a different antibiotic to treat my sinus infection now since the first one was ineffective. I'm so glad I have health insurance, as these prescriptions are only $8, and I have an FSA. I hate taking antibiotics, but today is day 17 of this nonsense and it needs to end.

My coworker told me how sick she was on Monday and has been out of the office ever since. She has influenza. The friend I saw last weekend came down with the stomach flu yesterday. I don't really want to leave my house these days!

I've missed talking with my parents on the phone and it's because my (old) cell phone has basically no reception in my apartment. We were able to Facetime, but now that doesn't seem to be working on their end. If I want to make a phone call on the network, I have to walk out into the middle of the street. I'm debating getting a network booster, or a cheap home phone, or a new cell phone since mine is doing strange things with the battery lately anyway. Or...maybe I should just move! Ha! (Edited to add - I have checked with my cell phone provider multiple times and they can't seem to help.)

27 days

March 20th, 2017 at 08:57 pm

First - thank you for all of the supportive comments on my last post. You are right, of course. I just need to convince my subconscious. Last night I actually dreamt about comparing my life to that of an acquaintance who lives an extravagant traveling lifestyle.

I'm still going strong on not spending on eating out. I planned to buy dinner out last weekend, but my friend grabbed the bill and refused to let me pay! So it has been 27 days without buying any food/drinks other than groceries. I really wanted to order Thai food last night but resisted.

That cold that I was so excited about improving quickly morphed into a sinus infection. I'm taking antibiotics now but I'm still pretty miserable today. I feel like I could sleep for a week.

I did some savings calculations today. Once my raise kicks in, I should be able to throw $500 a month into my emergency fund. That should bring me to my $5000 goal by August. If I continue to save $500 a month, I should have a $5000 car downpayment by next June. This assumes I can continue my current level of frugality and there are no financial crises between now and then.

I may still take the homeownership class in April - we'll see.

17 days

March 10th, 2017 at 09:26 pm

I haven't purchased any food or drink anywhere other than at the grocery store in the last 17 days! No restaurants, no coffee shops, no convenience stores. It was only half intentional but once I realized it had been two weeks, I was pretty pumped! I'm also on day 5 of no spending.

I finally succumbed to the cold virus going around the office, but I'm getting over it faster than any other cold in my life. I'm not sure why; perhaps my supplement regime is helping.

I've been floating in and out of feeling really frustrated by the cost of cars and homes and where my life is now vs where I think it should be. I looked into cheaper sedans instead of small SUVs, but a 5-inch road clearance in the winter seems personally unsafe. These city roads don't get plowed well, and visiting my parents involves driving 500 miles into desolate country. I toyed with the idea of attending a $40 homebuying class this weekend, but you have to buy a home within a year of attending to qualify for downpayment assistance programs. I don't see that realistically happening, as much as I desperately want it to.

I realize I shouldn't compare my life to other people my age - but it's so hard not to when FB friends I graduated from college with are company vice presidents living in mansions with huge pools and driving luxury vehicles. I wish someone had shook me 20 years ago and said, "Do not major in frivolous things, you need an actual PLAN!"

The problem then, as it is now, is that the things I actually enjoy doing do not pay life-sustaining salaries. That was marginally ok when I had a partner - not so much anymore.

It's March. I'm always melancholy in March! Is it spring yet?

budget categories?

February 28th, 2017 at 03:19 pm

How do you categorize vitamins and powdered supplements? Personal care, groceries, its own category, or something else?

I make a smoothie nearly every morning with several powdered supplements (including protein powder and mushroom powder) and frozen fruit. I count the fruit under groceries but I've been counting the supplements under personal care. I also take a multivitamin, vitamin D, and vitamin B, and I count those under personal care too. Needless to say my personal care budget category is really high, but I'm not spending all of that on shampoo or toothpaste.

Let's not even talk about how much I spent on groceries this month! I had such a frugal January. On the plus side - my favorite protein powder is on sale at Costco, so I bought the max and will give half to my mother (she loves it too). It's good until 2019, and like I said, I use it almost every morning!

I bottled my latest batch of kombucha, and this time I added turmeric and sliced fresh ginger. I read that that may help increase carbonation. I'm excited to try it in a few days!

This week's lunch soup is a delicious three bean and vegetable chili from the New Fast Food cookbook, made in my Instant Pot pressure cooker. It has become my new favorite! Beans cooked from dried, onions, garlic, zucchini, fire-roasted tomatoes, corn, and kale. Very summery. I like to think that it's helping me fight off all of the viruses floating around the office!

pottery, taxes, etc

February 15th, 2017 at 04:47 pm

I'm taking a wheel-thrown pottery class with my sister. I took two rounds of this class ages ago (like 12 years ago), and for some reason I had convinced myself that I might be better at it now. Ha. I'm only halfway through the course and I can't wait for it to be over. In 10 years when I think I might like to try this again, someone please remind me that I hate pottery and am terrible at it, would you?

So far this week:
$10 - Extra bag of clay to share (I paid my sister's half)
$12 - Allergy meds
$12 - State taxes

I had my job review; all went well, but I need to step up my goal-setting if I'm going to move forward. It's great having such a supportive supervisor.

I finished my taxes yesterday. $12 paid to state, $127 back from federal, but the amazing piece - $648 back for my state rental refund! I was not expecting that. My rent is so high, it's a nice bonus.

nearly a no spend week

February 13th, 2017 at 05:08 pm

I'm pretty pleased with the last week, spending-wise! I only bought one song on iTunes; all other spending was on pre-scheduled bills. It's not particularly fun to restrict spending and restrict food intake at the same time, but I'm doing ok. Last weekend wasn't great eating-wise, but I threw out the rest of the birthday cake yesterday and had a salad for dinner!

Yesterday's batch cooking included baked tofu, an enchilada casserole, and Thai cauliflower chickpea soup. I have a lot of salad greens to eat too.

Since I was feeling a little miserable last weekend about my self-imposed double restriction, I refocused my savings goal to save a total of $5000 this year. A solid goal may help me stay focused, rather than the ubiquitous bigger emergency fund, buying a car (someday soon), buying a house (preferably before I'm 50). My first benchmark for this year is $4000 in my emergency fund. Should be there by the end of July if all goes as planned.

Happy Monday!

high spend weekend

February 7th, 2017 at 10:27 pm

I spent a bit more than anticipated over the weekend.

- I found out that my favorite music artist will be here soon, so I splurged and bought a ticket.

- Dinner and drinks with friends

- Chipotle lunch

- Costco grocery shopping - $65 this time! - and gasoline

- Target (the land of magical disappearing money - wasn't too bad this time though)

- Trader Joe's - I bought a case of unsweetened soy milk for my weekly soy yogurt, so I won't need to go back for a while.

- Birthday massage

- Carrying bag for the awesome yoga mat that my coworker gave me for my birthday

I did get a gift from my parents and a rebate from 1-800 contacts, and most of that spending was planned. I should be good to go on groceries for most of the month, and nothing else exciting is planned for now!

I spent some time writing out my goals/affirmations for the next year. Focusing on what I want for the future will drive my choices.

I didn't watch one minute of the Superbowl! Wink

Feb 3

February 3rd, 2017 at 07:17 pm

{deleted the work situation}

In actual financial news, I spent a record low of $238 on groceries in January. Coupled with $62 cash in restaurant eating, I spent $300 on food. I'm still busy eating down my pantry and freezer.

Another record low? $48 in gasoline. February may be slightly higher, since I'm taking a community ed class. All in all, I feel good about January, and aspire to make February even more frugal.

last day of January

January 31st, 2017 at 08:36 pm

It's somehow the last day of January already! Wow.

I've been lying low - lots of viruses are flying around the office and I'm doing my best to fend them all off. I've already been sick with month-long colds twice this season and I think that's enough.

The home vet came by last week and it turned out to be much cheaper than expected! Since it was less expensive, I splurged on a 5-week Slim Team challenge through the vegan recipe service I subscribe to. So far so good. I've counted my calories every day for years anyway, but this is motivating me to actually stay within a set amount.

Last weekend I made soy yogurt, 16 bean soup (in the instant pot), vegan lasagna, red lentil dahl (in the instant pot), and wheat roti. I love my instant pot, and my stand-up freezer!

My newest culinary adventure? Making kombucha. I love it, but it's $3-$4 a bottle in the stores, and really not that hard to make. I started my third batch on Saturday. It's a lot like maintaining a sourdough culture. Now I have delicious probiotic drinks filling up my fridge!

Jan 25

January 25th, 2017 at 08:56 pm

Last night I stopped by Costco to fill up my gas tank ($22) and decided to go inside for a few staple groceries too ($16) - cauliflower to make aloo gobi, kale salad, bagels, and bananas. I resisted the delicious snack aisle and stuck to basics.

The rest of the month should stay on budget. I've only eaten out twice this month and don't expect to again, unless my coworker really does want to go out for lunch on Friday (we'll see). If so, I've already got cash for just such an occasion.

I've had this blog for so long that I know there are people in my real life (read: my ex) who know of its existence. How do you handle that? I find that I don't want to say much on the off-chance that someone IRL (not from this site) might be reading.

change

February 11th, 2015 at 09:00 pm

Last year I set some pretty serious goals for my 35th year. Now I'm 36 and, well, things are certainly changing.

I ended my relationship with SO last month. We've been through a lot together in the last 12 years, but my patience for change that will never come is gone. Something Baselle said a couple of years ago here on her blog stuck with me ever since - she said she looked around and couldn't imagine continuing life with her partner for another 30 years. Neither can I. I refuse to sacrifice my happiness any longer.

Unfortunately, I haven't found work (and neither has he), so I'm still living in his house. I've been sorting and tossing and donating and packing all of my things for weeks - so on one hand, it's nice to have the time and space to do that. Most rental properties here require you to sign a no-move-out clause during the winter months anyway, so there's not a lot on the market right now. It's not a big deal (just very awkward still living together), but I look forward to my own space.

As a friend said, I'm ripping off the old and starting an entirely new page - new job, new apartment, new life on my own (with my cats). No stress here.

I have a number of successful, happy older women in my life who live alone, so I know it can be done. I'll have to make a greater effort to get out and see people - the introvert in me likes to stay home most of the time, but I've got to get out there and have a life! Unfortunately this split means that I am losing the vast majority of my contacts here - his family. I've been debating moving out of state, but that might be a bit too much at once right now.

Anyway - financial things - the whole purpose of this blog:

- I have inheritance money set aside that I can use to move. Thankfully my parents are more than willing to help too, but I'd rather not ask them for anything.

- I've got a stack of books to get rid of. I've got a stack of photography stuff to get rid of. I hate selling things online, but I need money.

- I've got a list of things I'll need to buy for a new apartment.

- Rent prices (at least what's available now) are INSANE. I had no idea. They have skyrocketed since my last apartment, so I'll likely need to make at least $22 an hour to afford one - more than I've made to date. I also need a place that is relatively quiet and takes cats. I have one very anxious cat who is very sensitive to noise. She'll adjust - she has to - but neither of us would be happy in a big apartment complex. Fingers crossed.

- I still need a career. One that actually pays actual money so I can support myself for the rest of my life. I love non-profits, but damn, they don't pay well and their long-term viability is always an issue.

I should close this by saying - I'm happy. I'm terrified and anxious and the future is a completely mucky unclear mess, but a weight lifted when I finally made the decision. Now I just have to hope for the best.

one day at a time

June 12th, 2014 at 05:27 pm

I did not get the job I interviewed for, so I asked for feedback. They told me that my supervisor said that not only does she think I am overqualified for their job, she thinks I am overqualified for my current job, and implied that I am bored. I have always been insanely busy, so much so that my supervisor increased my hours. And I have LOVED my job. I let the interviewers know that her opinion does not reflect my reality, but I don't expect to hear from them again. I can't believe she ruined that for me, but she has systematically ruined everything she has touched since she started, so I shouldn't be surprised.

I find myself struggling to job hunt lately. The daily clenched-stomach feeling of working with two people who hate each other, coupled with the heartbreak of the organization I love closing, AND the stress of not knowing how my partner and I will finance the future is weighing heavily on me.

In light of that, I took a day off and buzzed out of town to see my parents last week. Apart from my Dad telling me that he's certain he's going to die within the next six years(!), it was enjoyable. Truly. It was lovely to get out of town and spend some time with them. Driving there by myself was also good reflection time.

A program presenter just stopped in my office and gratefully told me I am like the Holy Spirit, the invisible one who just makes things happen. (I set up everything for her program today while my coworkers stayed shored up in their closed offices.) I will miss my interactions with these quirky people.

I think I need more time to decompress.

35

February 13th, 2014 at 11:42 pm

I turned 35 last week, and it's throwing me for a loop. Ordinarily I love birthdays, but this one just felt odd. I already felt like something - maybe several things - really needed to change once 2014 turned over. Shouldn't 35-year-olds have it together?

So I decided a few things:

- This year will be make-it or break-it with SO.

- I need a career. Like an actual, bonafide career. I love doing research. I'm a great administrative worker. I have a bunch of creative talents. I'm friendly and kind, but dealing with a constant stream of people drains me. I'd love to do something that specifically helps women. I need to make enough money to support myself and save for retirement. I'm not sure how to mash all of those things together yet.

- I need to start doing more out in the world. Volunteering somewhere, taking a class, maybe joining an orchestra again, finally attending a vegan meetup group - something (or many things). I need to make more plans with the friends I've got, too.

I've got 47 levels of stress and am working on centering myself to deal with it all. I've started doing five minutes of yoga every morning while my tea brews. I'm learning about chakras. I imagine the stress leaving the top of my head and my stomach calming whenever things feel out of control. I think it's helping.

And now for my bizarre story of the day:

My dental hygienist (whom I adore and have been seeing for 10+ years) gave me a lengthy lecture today on how my eggs are getting old and I had better freeze them before I turn 38. I gently told her several times that I'm not sure I want kids, but she persisted. I have good genes, blue eyes, a good figure, and that would all go to waste, she said. Then she suggested that I freeze half my eggs and donate the other half to her. I could be the child's godmother and take the child should she die soon. *CUE CRICKETS* She revealed that she had just paid $20,000 for an egg donor. I'm not sure why she would want my old eggs, in that case...