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July 2020 update

July 13th, 2020 at 08:28 pm

Holy moly, time has flown by!

- March 2019 - went on an awesome girls' trip to Florida

- May 2019 - I was dancing by myself in my living room, did a majestic leap into the air, fell, and broke my foot. I'd never broken anything before. Surgery followed, then several weeks of recovery, used a knee scooter at home and at work, and basically lost the whole summer.

- August 2019 - did allergy testing since I blew through my deductible and found out that the only thing they tested for that I'm allergic to is cats. Swell!

- September 2019 - started a local MBA program

- January 2020 - cat was diagnosed with diabetes. He's such a sweetie and tolerates twice-daily injections like a champ. This means no more travel for me, however, as he hates the car.

- February 2020 - bought a three-year old Subaru (first car purchase ever!) and sold my old one to a sweet guy who had no transportation and a dog

- March 2020 - started working from home. Annual girls' trip was canceled due to COVID.

- April 2020 - furloughed indefinitely, cut all extraneous expenses, was terrified I'd be laid off.

- May 2020 - George Floyd was murdered, big impact on life in the Twin Cities, both personally and professionally

- June 2020 - brought back to work (co-worker was laid off instead of me)

I will graduate with my MBA in December. I've gained twenty pounds in the last year thanks to medication issues, school, stress, furlough, stress, stress, and stress.

Deep thoughts from this past weekend -
Isn't it funny how our society presses us to dream big and strive to achieve? I've come to the realization that maybe some things just aren't meant for me. I've been obsessed with being thin since I was 9 years old; it's obviously not happening. I've been house hunting for 4 years and it's always just out of reach. Interest rates go down, my price range rises, home prices skyrocket. I've been halfheartedly online dating for years and am over trying to find someone (have since deleted all apps). Perhaps I would be happier recognizing that some things just aren't meant for me, and being happy with what I have!

March 2019

April 1st, 2019 at 02:53 pm

March 2019
- Electric/gas bill: still super high, but there's a light at the end of the wintery, below-zero tunnel
- Home expenses: way over - my one remaining living room lamp broke. I also bought two new sets of bed sheets.
- Groceries: Better than usual
- Personal expenses: Better than usual
- Clothing: I bought two new swimsuits for my beach trip and replaced all of my bras during an awesome Kohls sale. I was down to just a couple that were still holding up.
- Travel: Stayed on budget. It was a great trip, far too short, but still wonderful.
- Splurge: I bought a Playstation and a few games, including Just Dance in an effort to incorporate fun exercise.

Getting out of the house score: 9/10. Smashed mostly into the latter half of the month, I saw family twice, got a pedicure and went shopping with a friend, went on vacation with friends, babysat a friend's kids, and visited the art museum.

Health score: 2/10. I'm still slowly gaining weight and not exercising other than walking and occasional yoga. I have to get my eating under control.

Savings score: 8/10. I saved 88% of my intended monthly amount. I spent a chunk of my tax refund on the Playstation.

In April I intend to focus on reducing my grocery budget to just fresh, necessary produce and eating down the pantry and freezer.

When I'm doing well with limiting my food intake, I also do well with limiting my spending. When I do poorly with one, I'm usually doing poorly with the other. I need to find that willpower this month.

February recap

March 4th, 2019 at 10:16 pm

February 2019:

- Electric/gas bill: super high but it has been a billion below zero degrees here with approximately 800 feet of snow
- Home expenses: not bad, only $20 over budget
- Gasoline: $10 under budget
- Parking: $55 due to a downtown class
- Groceries: Horrific.
- Restaurants: Over budget. I went out with friends twice, which seldom happens.
- Personal expenses: Horrific. I shouldn't need to buy any hair products for several months since they had a 43% off sale.
- Fitness: I bought new rock climbing shoes so I actually go to the gym and use my punch cards.

Otherwise, not too bad. I boosted my emergency fund up to $12K and started putting money into a separate checking account, since my main bank was out of commission for a few days. I'm $3000 away from having my 6 month emergency fund fully funded.

Current savings rates:
- 25% of net into savings accounts
- 9% of gross into retirement + 6% matched = 15% total
- 4% of gross into HSA

My therapist quit practicing rather abruptly, and I don't particularly want to start all over again with someone new, so I'm putting more into my HSA than I need to. Oh well. It will be well funded for next year.

I extolled the virtues of the snowball method of debt payoff to my coworker and found a pre-made spreadsheet online, and now he's super excited about it! It feels so good to share with people and then watch them embrace it.

I passed my vegan desserts class with flying colors and it was so, so fun. I'd like to take the vegan professional cooking course now, but it's $1300 (regular price), so I'll wait for the Black Friday sale. I started a line item in YNAB to save for it.

January recap

February 5th, 2019 at 03:30 pm

In January I went over budget in several categories but under in several others. One category that went over was travel. I'm taking a beach vacation with some friends in looking forward to it!! We've never done anything like this before, but since one friend in our group moved out of state last year, it will be wonderful to have a long weekend together. I haven't been to the ocean since 2011...long overdue for a beach-lover like me.

I also spent too much in my top three worst categories - groceries, personal care products, and home. I'm taking an online vegan baking class and that contributed to some of the overspending. I'm also transitioning to natural deodorant, so I've tried about five different kinds. It's a struggle to find something that doesn't cause a rash and doesn't fail me by 9:30am.

I'm entering a new decade tomorrow. There's something so weird and slightly unsettling about that. I'm taking the day off and spending more on personal care (ha!) - lash tinting because I'm sick of having mascara all over my face after walking in 0 degree temps, and a haircut. Maybe lunch out and a warming walk through the conservatory too. I also walk the number of minutes I am old and think about each year as it ticks by on the treadmill.

I'm doing a 1 second per day video challenge this month. The 1 Second app is free and allows you to trim videos and put them into a short video, one for each day. I'm much more comfortable with still photography so this is a good challenge.

Also - the baking class. I've gained five pounds in three months. This is a problem! It's a super fun class but I'm back on the diet-watch wagon this week. The beach vacation is good motivation.

2018 financial recap

January 4th, 2019 at 04:08 pm

Things I did well in 2018:
- reduced home spending
- reduced cell phone bill
- reduced gardening/wildlife expenditures
- reduced restaurant meals
- reduced massages (only 2 this year)
- reduced clothing expenditures
- reduced social/fitness spending
- reduced music/books/apps spending
- reduced spending on hobbies
- quadrupled Roth IRA contributions
- spent money on a therapist/meds with HSA
- increased HSA to contribute max in 2019

Unexpected 2018 expenses:
- Vet/pet bills
- Auto repair (over double 2017 costs)
- Phone replacement (battery nearly exploded)
- Expensive hair care products (but healthier hair)

Things to improve in 2019:
- reduce grocery spending by at least $100/mo
- reduce personal spending by at least $100/mo
- reduce untracked cash spending
- reduce spending on gifts
- plan ahead for recurring/big ticket items (use YNAB as intended)
- get out of the house/work on projects/have a life

I'm waiting for my first paycheck post-promotion to determine if I should increase my retirement contributions beyond 15% (actually 19% including my HSA contributions). The 401k contributions will automatically increase a percentage point in May. With my HSA increase, I think saving $1000 per month was a tad ambitious.

My coworker was already teasing me about 2018 taxes...had I submitted them yet? Ha! I haven't, of course, but I have been thinking about them. I always look forward to that little boost of income coming back.


December 14th, 2018 at 10:07 pm

Somehow the time flew by and it went from July to December!

As of the end of this month, I'm being promoted to a newly created, salaried role within my department and with the same boss. It comes with a decent raise and a few more days of PTO per year. I'll still get my raise next spring, too! I'm incredibly grateful to my boss for pushing for this promotion and helping craft the new job role, and really looking forward to doing more. It's my second promotion since I started, which is also really amazing. Most places I've worked wanted me to stay in the same job forever. I'll still be doing the administrative work for the department but that isn't challenging nor time consuming.

My emergency savings currently sit at $10,300 and I want to boost it to $15,500 by the end of May. Then I'll start chipping away at car and home funds.

I'm currently saving 15% for retirement (including employer match) and am going to raise it to 16% in January after the raise and to 17% in May.

I'm so excited to be salaried for the first time in my life. It will be refreshing to not have to clock in and out constantly and take PTO for every doctor's appointment.

I started seeing a therapist a few months ago and also started on anti-anxiety medication. Both have helped tremendously. I still have trouble getting out of bed on the weekends and often dream about my cat (which are lovely visits, actually). My other cat and I have finally found an equilibrium. He still drives me crazy with his howling but I'm much better able to handle it now. He's on a different allergy medication now too, which is helping his comfort level.

I'll be looking forward to updating my July-Dec money stats here and seeing what my new paycheck looks like!

Jan - June 2018

July 3rd, 2018 at 04:58 pm

I ran the January through June numbers to see how I did in the first half of the year.

Top expenses:
- Vet/pets - $6702 (no surprise there)
- Rent/renter's insurance
- Auto - recently spent $1725 on repairs
- Tuition for my ill-fated attempt at graduate school - reduced to $1585 thanks to my employer's tuition reimbursement policy, plus $200 left to pay
- Food & Drink - average of $550 per month. Say WHAT? I had house guests for nearly a month, but definitely overspent on groceries.
- Personal products - average of $272 per month. I started wearing my hair naturally curly following the curly girl method, which takes a lot more effort and product experimentation, and I stocked up on face products during a sale, but I need to reign it in. Yikes.

- My massage therapist moved to California so I haven't had a massage since January.
- I canceled my Amazon Prime subscription.
- I planted very few plants this spring. Normally I buy a bunch of tomato and pepper plants but I didn't bother.
- I've rarely eaten out or done anything outside of the house in the last six months, which saved some money.

I definitely need to reduce grocery and personal spending. Cash is another bad habit - I spent an average of $66 a month on what exactly? Sometimes I log it, usually I don't.

It turns out lying in bed crying is good for the budget, other than my rampant vegan ice cream consumption. The grief is slowly subsiding but weekends are still very hard. My other cat is still a struggle much of the time. Being alone most of the day is a big adjustment for him and he's not coping well. The vet will come next month and I'll have her make sure that all is well with him, but the howling...oh the howling. He's driving me crazy.

Otherwise, nothing much to report!

stress hives

May 7th, 2018 at 05:31 pm

After a weekend of crying and feeling guilty, I woke up this morning with what I believe are stress-induced hives on my neck. Part of me thinks I deserve them. I should have done more for my cat. I should have taken her straight to the university vet once her jaw locked in January. If I had been more assertive rather than listening to my vet, perhaps something could have been done to help her. Intellectually I recognize that none of that thinking is helpful now that she is gone but it's impossible to stop those thoughts from crowding my brain, especially when I'm at home and every inch of the place reminds me of her. She trusted me to take care of her and I failed.

I've begun looking for a weekend job just to stay away from home as much as possible. Watering flowers at a greenhouse, maybe.

I went out with coworkers on Friday night and threw away $30 on pull tabs. I've been regretting it ever since. I'm glad I skipped the second bar stop and went home instead, though.

The 6% interest rate on my student loan is prompting me to get rid of it as soon as possible. It's amazing, watching the balance tick up every day, even with a relatively low starting balance. With that in mind, I'm not sure I'll return to grad school unless I can pay for it outright.


May 4th, 2018 at 06:10 pm

First and foremost, has anyone heard from Thrift-o-rama? I wish I knew her real name but I don't. As much as I hate Facebook, I'm glad I have added a few people from here on there. Nice to be able to keep track of each other, especially if people (like me) stop posting for years.

My boss had a sinus infection that wouldn't go away for months and no doctor could figure it out. The similarities between her issues and my cat's health were something we commiserated about all winter. We now know that both of them had cancer. My boss has been breast cancer-free for several years but it metastasized to her skull. She had the spot removed yesterday and treatment plans will soon follow. It was not a simple surgery.

Superstition has me thinking bad things come in threes, and two of those three so far have been cancer in the head.

I was awake last night from 2am-4am thinking about all of this, missing my cat, crying. Heading into another weekend of being at home without her. At least the weather will be nice.


April 26th, 2018 at 09:19 pm

My beautiful, sweet, amazing cat passed away in my arms on April 11th. My sister helped me care for her in her last week and my mom came to stay with me for a couple of weeks too. I was very grateful for my mom's presence. Now that she has returned home, the house is very empty with just me and my older cat. I love him dearly but he can be so obnoxious. My younger cat was my little furry soulmate, always with me every second I was at home, and such a sweet soul. I miss her so much. I can't believe I have to live the rest of my life without her. My other cat is almost 14 so he will be passing soon as well, and frankly, after him, I don't want to go through this again. I will likely lose the ones I love most (my cats and my parents) within the next 5-10 years, and then what is there to live for?

I dropped out of graduate school. In the midst of getting very little sleep and giving my cat pain medication every three hours around the clock, I said enough. The university could not care any less about my quitting or the reasons behind it, so I made the right decision.

On the money front:
- I spent $8500 on my cat before she passed. My mother graciously paid for the cremation.
- I spent a lot more on groceries in April with three weeks of house guests.
- I'll have to pay for the dropped graduate class in full. Oh well. My HR department is playing games with my reimbursement request for the first class, so I'll need to fight them on it. Sigh.
- I found out that my ex still had my name on his electric bill. I swear I removed myself when I moved out three years ago, but lo and behold, I just received his late payment notice. I removed my name immediately.
- I need to mail the cans of liquid cat food I bought. They asked for a return reason. That was fun.

Looking back to last summer, I had such lofty aspirations for improving my life. How things change.


March 29th, 2018 at 02:54 pm

I'm overwhelmed by decisions right now.

- My cat. Is she in pain? I've just decided that she probably is and giving her all the pain meds. The other night she thoroughly enjoyed a sponge bath and brushing. She was purring and flopping like usual, perhaps a bit more carefully due to the feeding tube, but almost like her normal self. It's a constant stream of decision-making with her, though.

- My graduate program. I've done the research and the one I'm in is the cheapest and fastest path to a master's. If I switch now, I'll be in school for at least 2 more years and in debt at least $10K more. I can't find anyone here with a I/O Psych degree. Anything else I'm interested in (counseling, social work) doesn't pay enough to sustain life as a single woman with hopes of retiring someday.

- My house hunt. I recently discovered that my neighbor has a lengthy drug dealing record, which explains a lot. My landlord is useless. I reached out to my mortgage lender to get an updated quote, and with the .5% interest rate increase, a $150K home is now $100 more than my current rent per month. I can't find a $150K home here unless it is a tear down, in a sketchy neighborhood, or out in the boondocks. I can't believe this housing market. I looked at rentals too and everything at or below my current rent is garden level. Should I even stay in this city/state?

- My job. I was interested in a promotion but discouraged from applying as I was told I needed 2 more years of experience (presumably post-master's degree). The person hired for the job just got her bachelor's degree last fall. Frustrating. I'm biding my time, but where do I go from here?

- How much longer is my car going to survive? The check engine light is still on. It's running fine so I'm ignoring it.

- I have a few potential dating possibilities. Should I even bother right now?

Financially I still have an emergency fund cushion but have spent nearly $8000 on my cat since December. Obviously that will be tapering down now. I need to tighten my belt in April.

cat update - it is cancer

March 20th, 2018 at 05:45 pm

Well, after seeing four vets, a CT scan, a biopsy, and countless other tests, I found out last Friday that my cat has cancer. It is in her salivary gland and the prognosis is not good. I am keeping her comfortable and trying to find some way to slow the growth of the cancer.

I'm devastated. She is the light of my life. I was much more prepared for my older cat's passing than hers. She is only 8.5 years old and in my mind, only halfway through her life. Honestly, I'm not sure how I will get through this. Anyone else have a furry soulmate? She is mine.

I'm struggling with my current ethics class, not only because this is happening, but because the material is not at all what I was expecting. It's a Lutheran college but so was my (liberal) undergrad, so I wasn't expecting a huge religious focus. This college is MUCH more conservative and requiring Bible readings. I'm not even remotely religious so I am struggling with this. I've been looking for different programs and am considering switching to an industrial organizational psychology program. The problem is that what I'm doing is the cheapest and fastest path to a master's degree.

I haven't done a lick of my homework due tomorrow, and now I have to take my cat to the vet this afternoon because she ripped out her feeding tube this morning.

I need to tell my ex about our cat but I'm dreading that conversation. I haven't spoken to him in almost three years other than happy birthday texts.

I'm not enjoying my life right now.


January 31st, 2018 at 03:10 pm

I brought my cat in for a CT scan. The home vet was convinced that my cat had a tumor and that the stress of bringing her in to the other vet for a dental and putting her under anesthesia made the tumor grow super fast. Naturally, feeling like I exacerbated it, I didn't want to bring her in to yet another vet for even more anesthesia, but I wanted concrete answers. The story just didn't make sense to me. I'm glad I spent the money, because she doesn't have a tumor or cancer. She has a bad infection in her lower jaw that was presumably caused by the vet who did the dental. I'm upset with myself for trusting them; they messed up both sides of my poor cat's mouth. We have started a different antibiotic and hopefully this treatment will clear the infection and reduce the pressure in her eyes. I'm so, so relieved that it's not a tumor and she made it through anesthesia again. Her heart rate tends to dip low every time she goes under.

I talked with my boss about the new job, and she said she doesn't feel I'll be ready for it for two years (presumably because by then I'll have a master's degree). She said I could apply but my application may not make it past HR. Clearly she has someone else in mind for this job. I'm disappointed; it felt like a light at the end of the tunnel.

School is still overwhelming but I'm trying to convince myself that this is doable for 18 months and then it will be over.

I feel so far behind. My friends are directors making 1.5 to 2 times my income, homeowners, driving decent cars, and have ample retirement funds. One friend can even retire early. I'm most terrified about not having enough in retirement to support myself. I wish I had spent less time caring about men and thinking I'd have a partner through life and focused solely on bolstering my career and retirement funds. Water under the bridge now, I suppose, but I can't seem to get traction on getting out of this low level job hole I've dug.


January 22nd, 2018 at 09:38 pm

Cat update:
My home vet planned to repair my cat's botched dental work last week (which had originally been done by a different vet). They had my cat sedated and then realized that they couldn't open her jaw more than an inch in the front. They also thought that her left eye was red not from infection but sudden glaucoma (??), and she also had an ear infection on the same side. The vet (grasping at straws again) said, either she has a rare abscess that I've never seen in 26 years as a vet, or she has a tumor. Clearly she believed it was an inoperable tumor pressing on her mouth and eye. I held it together until a coworker hugged me - cue soggy face mess as I ran to my car.

However, it makes little sense to me that a tumor in her head would grow so fast that in the span of a week she'd be unable to open her mouth. Ever since the dental, she hasn't been able to fully yawn. She has no other tumor-like or cancer-like symptoms. This cat is only 8 years old. I've had her on antibiotics for the past week which seems to be helping somewhat but she still can't fully yawn. I'm so frustrated by vets guessing. I've already spent $2500. I compiled a timeline with symptoms and sent it to the home vet today asking for a referral. I also called the U of MN vet center but the hold time was too long.

Car update:
Currently pretending the check engine light is not on. So far so good.

Work update:
A rare new position is opening up at work that is higher than mine. I love my boss and department and would like to stay after I have my master's degree, but not in this lower-level job. I expressed interest in the new job but I'm not sure my boss has me in mind for it (or perhaps she'd like me to stay put). I'm not getting an obvious green light from her but a couple of my coworkers are encouraging me to apply. I'll have to address this with my boss soon.

School update:
OMG so overwhelmed. The homework is absolutely ridiculous. I really hope every class is not like this. I did homework for over 8 hours yesterday, plus a couple of hours on Friday and Saturday. My anxiety was through the roof because of it and I hardly slept on Saturday night. I'm feeling better today.

Financial update:
I did the calculations, and while saving 50% isn't feasible, I'm planning to save 30% of my income. That's an extra $500 per month to my savings account. It would be incredibly helpful if I could land a higher position now so I could save more, replace my 18 year old car, and buy a house. I ran the numbers in the T Rowe Future Path calculator (thanks Patient Saver), and with my current salary and savings rate, I can retire at 68. That's assuming I'd increase my rate 3% per year, which is higher than my annual raise.

I love listening to the Afford Anything podcast. Yesterday while walking on the treadmill I listened to a recent episode about a couple who just retired at ages 38 and 41. I kept thinking, it would make so much more sense to retire now so I could spend time with my parents and my cats before they are gone, and work later when I am alone! Definitely envious.

saving 50%

January 9th, 2018 at 04:17 pm

Lately I've been reading and hearing a lot about saving 50% of your income. I decided to calculate if doing so was feasible with my current income and basic expenses.

Current retirement savings rates:
- 6% of gross to 401k
- 4% of gross to HSA (counts as saving assuming I don't need any of this for medical expenses)
- 2% of net to Roth IRA

Saving 50%, after rent, cell phone, home internet, average electric bill, car insurance, car tabs, and renter's insurance, I'd have:

$455 per month left for everything else.

I need to think more about this.

2017 goals recap

January 8th, 2018 at 04:57 pm

Here's a quick recap of my 2017 goals:

Financial Goals:
- Continue to send 6% to retirement plan - Temporarily lowered to the matching 4% part-way through the year to save more money for a down payment. I increased it back to 6% recently.
- Continue to send $25 a month to Roth - DONE
- Save $2000 in emergency fund (and don't touch it unless it's an actual emergency) - DONE, actual emergency came up in December
- Save $200 a month for eventual car payment - No. I threw more money at my emergency fund instead.
- Get my age of money to 30 days in YNAB - DONE, although I've since realized it's a worthless measurement.

Other Goals:
- Reduce grocery bill - DONE - reduced by $50 a month
- Get out more (meet some new people via or elsewhere) - I went to a few meetups early in the year but lost steam halfway through the year.
- Read 15 books - DONE, I read 21 books
- Lose weight/more yoga/climbing gym - I lost nearly 10 lbs, went to more yoga classes, and walked a lot more. I didn't make it to the climbing gym much, but I now have a punch card that never expires.

I'm surprised by how well these goals turned out! I don't have much planned for 2018 other than surviving graduate school and trying to save as much money as possible.

Cat update - as of yesterday she is doing much better, apart from a new eye infection and the realization that the vet pulled one of her dental sutures too tight. She will have to have corrective surgery because she's still in some pain and having trouble eating on that side of her mouth. I'm waiting to hear back from my home vet, but I'm guessing it will be another $1000. It is such a relief to see my cat slowly starting to act like her sweet self again; the last few weeks have been agony. I finally slept through the night without checking on her.

Car update - the check engine light came back on last week with the same evap code that the December repair supposedly fixed. I have lost faith in this garage and will find another one, ideally after the cat crisis is over.

expensive end to the year

December 28th, 2017 at 08:09 pm

The last two weeks turned out far differently than I had planned! I was looking forward to spending Christmas with my family, but my younger cat started behaving oddly on 12/15. She stopped eating on 12/17, and after five vet visits, four extracted teeth, and two rounds of antibiotics, she's finally starting to come back to me. Her abject terror when presented with food means I have been syringe-feeding her 2-3 times a day just to keep her going. Thankfully she will now eat if I lock her in a room with me and coax her. I feel terrible; in addition to several painful teeth, she also had a UTI. Cats are incredibly good at hiding their pain. So, our family gathering has been rescheduled, but if my cat still isn't doing well by then, it may have to be pushed out even further. We'll see.

My other cat has been switched to a different brand of food that is good for bladder stones and allergies, and he loves it. I do not love the price, but if it keeps us out of the vet clinic and him from chewing off his skin, so be it.

Total cat-related financial damage this month: $2,120

My car's check engine light came on and needed repair - total financial damage (after coupons): $433

I've been dealing an annoying/scary health issue that required four doctor's visits in the last few months, but it finally seems to be over. Total financial damage: unsure, but likely less than $250 total, thanks to decent health insurance.

I finished my Christmas shopping early this year (of course), and my car insurance was due, so it was already a pricey month. I'm glad I have an emergency fund but it is sad to see it depleted.

My new neighbors are relatively quiet and nice but smoke a lot of pot. I know this because our basements must be connected and are not air-tight. The smell is not coming into my main living unit, so rather than fighting a losing battle with them or my apathetic landlord, I bought an air purifier for the basement. (I recently received a water shut-off notice after my landlord neglected to pay the water bill for months, so I have zero faith in him.) Yes, I could ask them to stop smoking, but I don't think they will quit or move it outside given that it's below zero. If it was coming in my main living space, it would be a different story.

Last month I purchased a decent treadmill on sale. When all of these emergency expenses hit, I initially felt guilty about the treadmill, but I bought it as an investment in my health. I'm using it several times a week, and with this weather, no way will I do my daily walk outside. I saved $150 by putting it together by took two days and a lot of swearing, but it hasn't fallen apart yet! I love it and I'm glad I have it.

My grad school orientation is tonight - that came up fast! School starts in two weeks!


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!


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!

Tuesday thoughts

February 21st, 2017 at 09:30 pm

A friend convinced me to start running with her again. She's training for a 10K at the end of May, which I might sign up for too. I haven't run consistently since my first (and last) half marathon over three years ago. The weather has been so gorgeous lately that we did a couple of runs outside last weekend! I picked up a few new running/yoga shirts during the President's Day sales. More than anything, I need my work pants to fit well again.

I'm struggling with my financial goals feeling so out of reach. I should have started saving for a house the moment I started working (although, I guess I was paying off student loans at that point). My rent is doable but high. As much as I'd love to move to the west coast, I don't foresee that happening while my parents are still living, or without a viable career path. Even a 10% downpayment is SO much money, though! I'm trying to figure out how to make that happen as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately I will need a new car before a house. I'm doing what I can to keep this one going but it's not worth properly fixing at this point. Truth - I've never had a car payment thanks to generous gifts from my family, including this car 12 years ago. I've been looking at used vehicles for at least a year but wow - high miles and high payments seem to be the norm!

I also need to bulk up my emergency fund - that's priority one!

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!

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