I am disgusted about the lack of quality content in the articles being published here on Saving Advice.
Just now I noticed there is a recent article about how to mooch a free meal from others.
The endless articles (and I do use that term quite loosely) about "Is Target open on Belly Button Day?" and "Are banks open on Mother's Day?" were bad enough. But this is a new low.
I am disgusted about the lack of quality content in the articles being published here on Saving Advice.
OK, so maybe my idea of "fun" is a bit abnormal, but I think this is super fun.
If you retired today, what are your chances of having enough resources to support yourself for the rest of your life? You can find out here:
My success rate is 0.0%. I expected that. But I intend to check back with this site from time to time. And are you ever going to hear me "squeeee!!" when that dial moves from 0.0%.
The final determination on my car's transmission and clutch problems is that the part in the transmission is NOT covered under Ford's powertrain warranty, and that my clutch does not need to be replaced at this time.
I am really impressed with my mechanic. He stated he did not see why a part in my transmission (the source of the small leak) would not be covered. He faxed my parts list to an employee of a different Ford dealership with whom he has a working relationship to double check what the local dealer told me. It was confirmed; that part is not covered. He also stated that replacing a clutch is not regular maintenance; you replace it when it is going out and not before. He even stated that my money should stay in my savings account until the time comes. What a guy! I think I might have a little crush on him.
Regarding the small leak, he said they would check on it at every oil change and advise me if it gets to the point they recommend replacement.
So what do you think happened next? J came home Sunday evening and announced "I had to get towed here. There's something wrong with my car." Awesome sauce. (That is J's favorite slang).
So Monday morning I had his car towed to my mechanic. It needed a new alternator. Also, he said the tires are in bad shape and should be replaced immediately. (When I discussed with J, it turns out he knew that). So, four new tires. And I learned that J's ignition key had broken into two separate pieces and he had it duct taped together. Yes, that's right, duct tape. I had them replace that too.
So, there went $1,110.50.
J cannot cover this expense. He is still scraping money together for his car insurance due next month. I hope CurveBall gets a chance to breathe before any more demands are made.
Also this week (it really has been a great week) I received my auto insurance renewal bill. My current insurance company, Mercury, wants $1948.76 for J and I for the next 6 months. This is a $200+ increase from last time.
I decided to get a few quotes online. Geico* will write the exact same policy for $1716.06, a savings of $232.70. Sounded good, but I thought I would let Progressive have a shot at my business. Those folks at Progressive are hilarious! They quoted $2576.76. I had a chuckle and then clicked back over to Geico.
*Geico is owned by Berkshire Hathaway and offers an 8% discount to shareholders. You can own just 1 share of Brk.B (currently trading at $144.xx) and qualify. You can qualify with Brk.A too, but I don't have a spare 220k sitting around. However, I learned this particular discount is not available in California.
Last Friday afternoon while running errands for work, my nose detected a burning smell coming from under the hood of my car. It was strong (making my eyes water) and chemical. It was the first time I had ever smelled it.
I called SB and had him come give it a look before heading home. He checked all my fluids and did say that the coolant was at the "minimum" mark. He went to buy some and added it before I drove home.
I left the car parked all weekend, and dropped it off with my mechanic first thing Monday morning. He said he believed I was smelling the clutch, and that my transmission has a small leak. He said it should be covered under my powertrain warranty, which is 5 years or 60k miles. My car was bought new more than 4 years ago and has 32k on the odometer.
I called the local Ford dealer and made an appointment for Thursday (yesterday). I had to pay the minimum labor charge ($120) for them to take a look. They determined the problem is my clutch is excessively worn. They recommend replacement of the clutch and shift tower, as well as resurfacing of the flywheel. And none of it is covered under the powertrain warranty. Their estimate for repair is $1375.00.
Did I mention that my car has 32k on the odometer? I feel that this sort of repair should not be needed already. Not a happy camper.
I declined to have the dealer do the work. Instead, I called my mechanic and have an appointment on Monday. He has not given an estimate yet. Even if his estimate is also $1375, I would rather pay him than the dealer. But I am fairly certain he will charge a bit less.
This has been an expensive week. I would like to rewind and try again.
Yesterday evening, just as I was finishing up at a client's and preparing to leave, I began receiving text messages from home. There was water in Mr & MrsM180's bedroom. Smelly water. Upon investigation, it was discovered the hot water heater had sprung a leak. (Their bedroom shares a wall with the garage. The hot water heater is bolted to that wall). It seems a pipe had corroded and failed, leaving a hole in the side of the tank.
Doesn't that sound fun?
Our garage is cram packed with stuff, mostly belonging to SB. MrM180, J, and SB moved boxes out of the garage to clear work space. SB put the boxes in his trailer.
J called his gf's dad (a self-employed plumber), who said he would come this morning at 9:30. I went to work as normal, J handled everything. The plumber came as promised, took a look, and said a new unit was needed. He and J went to a hardware store and J purchased the unit (J is an authorized user on one of my credit accounts). I will send J over tonight with cash to pay for the labor.
J reports that the unit is now installed and we are back in business. I still need to assess the water damage. Not sure yet if anything else will need to be replaced.
Update: the final cost was $850
My mortgage payment has posted. This month I paid an additional $21.07. My new balance is $165,625.00.
Chips to date: $1,984.04
Interest savings this month: $7.28
Interest savings to date: $161.11
Eventually, the interest savings on the chips I have already made will compound to $4,250.98, provided I own this house until July 1, 2042. Which I probably won't.
So yesterday J and his girlfriend were with some friends in a park, and they came upon this little guy:
He is a puppy. He has no collar. He is emaciated. His spine, ribs, hind hip, and neck bones all stick out. It's just awful. Not sure if he was homeless and couldn't find enough food or if someone had him and just didn't feed him. They said he was weak and lethargic before they gave him some food.
He appears to be part chocolate lab and part pit bull. He looks as though he could be the love child of our dogs Nala (yellow lab) and Buster (pit bull and terrier mix).
SB and I were at my mother's yesterday afternoon and evening playing cards. By the time I got home, MrsM180 was already smitten, having succumbed to his puppy charms.
He does have a very sweet disposition.
We are still tossing around names. My choice is Gilligan.
Everything else this month included 138.00 for income taxes, 123.64 for medical, 36.86 for J's oil change, a new purse and wallet, and several dinners out.
I received a nice bonus and so tucked some extra money into my traditional IRA and my E fund.
I have a girlfriend who is the accounting manager of a small manufacturing company located in a nearby small town. She gave me a heads up that they will be hiring several entry-level employees for the factory soon. She gave the h.r. person J's name, and J has applied to the temp agency they use. Fingers crossed that J will have a full-time job soon.
I need to have some things done around the house. I had two shingles blow off in the last storm, so I want a roofer to replace them and take a look. My house was built in 1991 and the roof is original. I want to price some stamped concrete work for the backyard. In the front yard, I have a hedge which is just out of control. I allowed it to grow up and swallow two small trees. The hedge made a lovely barrier between us and the crazy neighbor. Now that he is gone, I feel the space would be better utilized as a parking space. We think we can handle the hedge and tree removal ourselves. If not, I will hire someone. To pour the concrete pad, I will definitely hire someone.
So, these expenses are going to slow down my E fund progress. I am going to try to pay for these expenses without resorting to debt. I really love having no debt other than the mortgage, and I really want to keep it that way.
I have been thinking about Georgia Gal lately and wondering how she is doing. I thought I would leave her a little message on her most recent blog post. Since it has been awhile, I expected that I would need to find her in the retired blogs.
Guess what? The retired blogs are gone.
I signed up with Bill Fixers today. All I had to do was give them my name, e-mail address, and upload a copy of my internet bill.
They have already responded. They let me know that they "are experiencing a big surge of sign-ups" and assured me they will get to me as soon as possible, but I should please be patient.
I will report how it goes.
I added a page called "Emergency Fund Progress" where I am tracking...my emergency fund progress. So I don't know that I will mention it much, but if you are the nosy type (like yours truly), the details are all there.
GE Capital Bank went and changed their name to Goldman Sachs Bank. (Well, I suppose they merged or were bought or some such, but I didn't feel I could spare much attention over the matter). They are still paying 1.05% on savings, at least for the time being.
SB is gearing up to start a new small business. He intends to offer to paint people's house number on their curb, door to door. He has already been down to the City to get a license and declare his area. (The City will allow only one operator in any given area at any given time. If you want to move on to another area, you must give up the one you have). He has ordered paint and glass beads (very tiny, to be embedded in the paint, which is why it is reflective) which meet the City's specifications. Now he is just waiting for his paperwork to arrive in the mail. So, he will see how that goes.
I am hoping to get my house number painted on my curb at a discount.
This past weekend, SB and I went "glamping" with some friends. "Glamping" is "glamorous camping". I definitely like glamping.
This was our tent:
The bed was so comfy!
The door on the left lead to our bathroom; the door on the right lead outside. Our friends were in the tent in the very next spot.
And this was the view from our tent's balcony:
We enjoyed our morning coffee and continental breakfast on the balcony. We spied ostriches, wildebeests, and various birds over breakfast. See how we are up in the treetops? Birds were landing in branches just inches from where we sat. That made for great viewing.
The location was Safari Park West in Santa Rosa, Ca. While there, we also enjoyed a safari. It was a fun place which I heartily recommend, should you ever have the opportunity.
It was a relaxing weekend and I thoroughly enjoyed it. We arrived home last night, and this Tuesday morning I am back at work.
Have you Saving Advice peeps heard about this?
This is a new company which will negotiate your cable, phone, and internet bills for you. They charge you half of your first year's savings to do it. If they can't help, you don't pay.
I'm thinking of letting them have a go at my Comcast internet bill, which is too high.
I have just had a very nice weekend.
On Friday evening, SB met me at my office at 5:30. We walked to a nearby restaurant which is one of our faves. It is very casual and eclectic, and serves gourmet food tapa style so you can try various things. We had bacon wrapped prunes, a salad with fava beans, green beans, roasted carrots, onions, and feta cheese over mixed greens, and halibut in a lemon sauce served over asparagus. Delicious! Afterwards, we walked a few doors down to our local independent movie house to see "I Saw The Light", a biography of Hank Williams. My mother loves Hank Williams, so I was familiar with his music in my very early childhood. It's sad, but quite good.
On Saturday SB and I went to my mother's house. A friend of hers came over, and the 4 of us played cards all afternoon and into the evening.
Today SB and I went up to his timber property. He needed to check on things and he took pictures of some repairs which need to be made. I took some pictures, too.
The timber property has several ponds on it. This one is the largest. The level is low right now because of the drought. This view is right out the back door of one of the simple cabin homes on the property. How horrible to have to walk outside and see this every day. I don't know how some people manage.
This is the next big thing SB has to tackle. There are a lot of decisions to be made regarding this property.
Oh, and as we were driving up there today, SB remarked to me that my friend Emily, whom he works with, is planning a birthday lunch this Tuesday at his office and wants to know if I can make it. I said "Oh, who's birthday is it?" SB just looked at me. Gradually it dawned on me that Tuesday is his birthday! Whoops.
My mortgage payment has posted. This month I paid an additional $22.19. Wells Fargo Home Rewards Visa automatically applied $25.00 of rewards. My new balance is $165,950.00.
Chips to date: $1,962.97
Interest savings this month: $7.18
Interest savings to date: $153.83
Eventually, the interest savings on the chips I have already made will compound to $4,211.46, provided I own this house until the mortgage is paid in full. Which I probably won't.
My mortgage payment has posted. This month I paid an additional $23.39 just to round out the balance. My new balance is $166,300.00.
Chips to date: $1,915.78
Interest savings this month: $6.99
Interest savings to date: $146.65
Eventually, the interest savings on the chips I have already made will compound to $4,122.23, provided I own this house until the mortgage is paid in full. Which I probably won't.
Since my last entry, I have received:
1. SB rent ($200)
2. CC rewards ($73.22), and
3. payment from HauserNet ($31.25)
All of it has been sent off to GE Capital. The balance is up to $2,595.83.
Slow but steady progress.
Today my mother and I attended a baby shower for my grand niece. She and her husband are foster adopting through their county's social services system, and are expecting two newborn girls at the end of this month. One will be placed in their care immediately following birth, and one will be placed in their care in a few months. They are hoping to adopt both babies.
At the shower, I got to see another grand-niece whom I had not seen in about 5 years. She is turning 18 next month, and so very grown up now.
Also at the shower were my grand-niece's mother and a woman I have known for about 14 years through a former job, and for whom coincidentally my grand-niece has done babysitting. And that was it, I did not know anyone else!
It was a super fun afternoon. I am so happy for my grand-niece and her husband and I cannot wait to hold those little babies.
In savings news, I received a check from my part-time job for $180 and have sent it off to savings. I now have savings accounts at GE Capital Savings Bank, Wells Fargo, and my credit union. The credit union account pays 0.00% interest, and I have to make a transaction at least every 12 months or I am charged $5, but I can't close it and remain a member. So twice a year I make a small deposit to keep it fee free. The Wells Fargo account is just for convenience, since I have my checking account there. And the GE Capital account is what I am trying to grow.
I am trying to reach 15k in GE Capital by the end of this year. Not sure if I will be able to do it, but that is my goal.
My mortgage payment has posted. This month I paid an additional $24.51 just to round out the balance. My new balance is $166,625.00.
Chips to date: $1,892.39
Interest savings this month: $6.88
Interest savings to date: $139.66
Eventually, the interest savings on the chips I have already made will compound to $4,078.13, provided I own this house until the mortgage is paid in full. Which I probably won't.
I'm very glad to be back to tracking my spending closely. Getting away from it makes overspending even easier. Here is my budget report:
Wages: A bit short because I budget based on 11 day pay periods. However, the occasional 10 day and 12 day pay periods do happen.
Rent: I agreed with SB that he would not pay rent on 1/5 as he had one last set of utility bills at his house to pay.
Other: Includes my state income tax refund, part-time job income, credit card rewards, and interest income.
Mortgage: January's mortgage payment was made in December.
Groceries: We supplemented meals heavily with what was already in the pantry. Sweet!
Utilities: I paid my gas bill twice. It used to be due around the 15th, but now is due on the 7th. In January, the first business day was the 4th. That did not leave much time for the electronic payment to arrive on time. I decided to pay a second time in January, so I don't have to worry about that happening again.
Savings: Happy to be over budget on savings.
Car payment: Happy to be over budget on car payment.
Cash Allowance: Trimmed it because I knew I was over elsewhere.
Gasoline: Has gone up now that J has a part-time job in a nearby town. However, J is now saving for his own car insurance. Recently, he got a friend to teach him how to change his brake pads as they needed changing. He paid for the parts himself. What a good kid.
Everything Else: $822 is for car insurance. $596.08 is for medical co-pays. If not for those, I would have come in at budget.
All in all, I am pleased with my spending for January. Since my car is now paid in full, I will re-direct that $350 into savings. Extra bits of income will also be re-directed into savings.
My state income tax refund has shown up! The amount is $1,023.
Next month, $822 will be due on my auto insurance policy. I went ahead and paid it using a rewards card. I have already scheduled an electronic payment from checking to the rewards card.
That leaves $201 to squirrel away into savings.
Savings account balance is now $3,109.82. Still far too low, but making progress.
In riveting personal news, SB and I are going to finally see the new Star Wars movie tonight. Tonight is his treat; he already bought the tickets. It sure is nice for him to be able to take a turn. He says it is going to be his turn for a long time.
I got my stitches out yesterday morning. A couple of times yesterday evening, I felt a slight pull in the incision area. Last night I went to get a good look in the mirror, and what do you know? My entire incision (about 3.5 inches) was gaping open.
So a trip to the ER, and I learned that it cannot be stitched back together. The risk of infection is higher if they stitch it again than if they leave it alone and let it heal on its own. They dressed and packed the wound.
I went to my surgeon's office this morning. He was in surgery, but his nurse looked at the wound and redressed it. The ER had given me an Rx for an antibiotic. The surgeon's nurse confirmed that is what the surgeon typically prescribes. She gave me some supplies and sent me on my way, promising to call after she speaks with the surgeon.
It isn't too painful, but frankly is very gross. The scar will no longer be the tiny barely-visible line the surgeon promised, but I don't even care. It's just below my left armpit, which is hardly an area receiving a great deal of exposure.
SB drove me last night and again this morning, and the nurse showed him how to press the wound together with steri-strips.
I am at work now and being very conservative with my movements.
My medical expenses this month are high. Two $250 co-pays, $93.08 to the allergy doctor, and two extra prescriptions (the other was for pain pills following surgery). I am definitely over budget on "everything else", but it cannot be helped.
I have $200 in cash in my wallet from SB for rent which I will deposit into savings later today. We have agreed that he will pay me $200 twice per month (he gets paid on the 5th and the 20th) starting with his 1/20 paycheck. So, that is my first bit of progress towards rebuilding savings.
I saw the surgeon this morning to get my stitches out. The pathology of the removed mass was complete. It was not cancer.
What a great day.
My fourteenth scheduled car payment has posted.
This month extra principal payments included $180 from my part-time job, $206.16 in credit card rewards, $101.35 budgeted extra principal, $8,800.00 from savings, and $38.32 from checking.
Fifty-eight payments have now been eliminated from the end, leaving 0 payments to go.
I will update my spreadsheet later today, in case anyone cares to take a peak.
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