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Daughter Has A New Blog

December 13th, 2017 at 08:25 pm

Hello Savings Advice, just wanted to share that my daughter has a new blog. You may recall that she had one here for a time.


http://hmissys.blogspot.com/?m=1


Updates

October 6th, 2017 at 07:24 pm

So life has been fairly hectic. This coming weekend SB and I are heading north to Willits. We're going to stay at my brother's house and the 4 of us (brother, SIL, SB and I) have tickets for Foghat.

My homeowner's insurance is covering my recent loss, so that was very good news. Repairs wont be complete for awhile yet.

I was approached by the dad of one of J's friends to rent my Modesto house. We discussed it and I decided it will suit my short-term needs, so we are moving forward with that. We will meet again to sign the lease. J and his wife will stay in the house and sublet a room from him. My lease and agreement are solely with him. Whatever agreement they want to make between themselves is up to them. SB and I need to have all of our belongings out by the end of October.

Some Pictures

September 22nd, 2017 at 03:43 pm

I've been meaning to share a few pictures. Here is our new home:



This is the view from our front door:







And I snapped this during my morning commute. Just look at all that traffic! Smile

Emergency Home Repair Situation

September 17th, 2017 at 04:37 pm

I have just learned I have a large and potentially quite expensive home repair which must be done ASAP.

The 4th and smallest bedroom in my house, which is used as storage and seldom visited by anyone, has a large hole in the ceiling. And it's dripping water. And I'm going to guess this has been a problem for awhile but I did not know.

My AC unit is roof mounted and not too far from the hole in the ceiling. As it has not rained in quite some time, I suspect the AC unit is the source of the water.

I have a call in to an emergency AC repair place. I need the AC inspected and possibly repaired. If it's not the AC, I guess my next call will be to a plumber.

The water leak will have to be addressed before the ceiling repairs can even start.

I have to leave in about 6 hours. I am going to have to rely on J to deal with the repair people here, though of course I am available by phone and e-mail.

Remember: don't worry, be happy.

Living in a Travel Trailer

September 15th, 2017 at 04:48 pm

SB and I have been living in a travel trailer for the past week. It's a 22 footer. Yep, space is at a premium for sure. Smile

I am enjoying the beautiful surroundings, the friendliness of the people in the town center, and spying critters during my commute. Mostly I see deer and wild turkeys. This city girl is charmed by each one.

There is so much new in my life these days!

I am settling in at work and starting to get the hang of the workflow here.

I can breathe so much better and am already more active. I joined a Curves gym right up the street from work and have already dropped a couple of pounds. I hope a few of their friends are soon to follow. Smile

Tonight SB and I are joining another couple and taking a picnic dinner to a local winery. They have live music and wine for sale. The winery offers this event on Friday nights all summer long. We've been twice already. Tonight is the last one until next year.

Tomorrow I will head to my house, spending one night. I will box up and donate some more stuff. Oh, the never-ending stuff! How did I get so much of it?

First Week Under My Belt

August 26th, 2017 at 02:32 pm

I am home from my first week of work. It looks as though I never mentioned that SB will be working at his job until August 31st. Therefore, we are moving up to the timber property on Labor Day weekend. In the meanwhile, I stayed Sun - Thurs in the spare room of friends who live in my new area. I plan to do the same thing this coming week.

At the timber property, there are 5 houses. Two houses are currently occupied: one tenant who SB wants to keep, and one caretaker who is in the process of being evicted. The three remaining houses are not currently livable, except as camping sites. Two could be made livable with some repairs and not-too-outrageously-much money; the third needs major work. We plan to move into the house currently occupied by the caretaker. Until the house is available, we will be temporarily living in a travel trailer. Which, by the way, we still need to buy.

So how was work? So much new. Working for the government is an entirely different ballgame. Everyone I have met is very nice and the atmosphere is very pleasant. Most of what I learned this past week had to do with the overall organization and structure of the County, it's policies, etc. I did learn about my actual job duties too. I do not feel up-to-speed yet at all, and still have a lot to learn.

As far as my own personal finances, I have learned:

- I will be paid every other Friday, 26 times per year.

- The County does not participate in Social Security, so no Fica-SS will be deducted from my pay.

- The County pays most of my contribution to the pension plan, but I am required to contribute 3% of my gross.

- My pension tier is 2% at 62. This means that once I vest (5 years of service), I will be eligible to receive 2% of my annual salary for each year I have worked once I have both retired and reached age 62. For example, if I work from now until age 65 then retire, I will have 14.5 years of service. 14.5 years x 2% x my salary = my annual benefit. This example would mean an annual pension of approximately 15k, assuming no cost of living raises or promotions.

- The County will pay 80% of my health insurance, while I will pay 20%. Also, there is a section 125 cafeteria plan, so I can pay my 20% pre-tax.

- There are 5 different health plans to choose from; 3 are Blue Shield plans and 2 are Kaiser plans. There is one Kaiser plan which is by far the best value of the 5, in my opinion. However, with Kaiser, you must go to Kaiser facilities for all medical services. (In the event either life or limb are in jeopardy, they will cover your out-of-network medical care, but they get to decide if it was justified or not). The nearest Kaiser facility to my new workplace is 40 minutes away. My new home is an additional 40 minutes further away. It is simply too far to go for medical care. There are doctors and a small hospital in the same town as my new workplace. Therefore, I am opting for a Blue Shield plan.

- The Blue Shield plan I have chosen has the highest premium of all 5 plans, but looking at the prescription coverage, the deductible, and the maximum out-of-pocket, I estimate it will be the lowest total cost Blue Shield plan for me.

- The Blue Shield plan I have chosen is compatible with an HCRA plan (health care reimbursement account). This means I will be able to elect an amount to be deducted pre-tax from my pay to cover out-of-pocket medical expenses. The HCRA plan will issue me a debit card, which I can swipe when making co-pays.

- At the end of each calendar year, any amount above $500 in the HCRA is forfeit to the County. Therefore, I will be conservative with the amount I am choosing to contribute.

- I will also have a dental plan and a vision plan.

- Cafeteria plan deductions are taken 24 times each calendar year, even though there are 26 pay periods. The two "extra" paychecks (the third paycheck in a calendar month) have no deduction for cafeteria plans, and thus are a bit larger.

- I will be covered on my new health insurance beginning 9/1/17. Because health insurance premiums are paid in advance, I should have paid for September in August. Since it takes awhile to get me into the system, my first cafeteria plan deduction won't happen until my second paycheck in September. Therefore, that second September paycheck rightfully should have premiums for both September and October deducted. Instead, I will pay double deductions for three paychecks. The second September paycheck will pay for September; the first October paycheck will pay for October; and the second October paycheck will pay for November. (I just used two semi-colons in one sentence!). After that, I will be on track and each paycheck will have half of one month's premium deducted.

- It is unlikely I will be contributing to the 457 plan from my very first paycheck. It takes awhile for me to be in the system and there are forms to submit, an outside party to be contacted, etc.

- The County has 2 vendors for its 457 plan. The vendors are Nationwide and CalPers. Nationwide offers some institutional shares of Vanguard index funds. I was fairly excited about this, until I saw the administrative fees Nationwide charges. Nope. I am opting for CalPers. They offer target retirement funds built from State Street index funds. The total cost is much less with CalPers than with Nationwide. I notice that their target retirement funds are too conservative for my tastes, so I plan to go with the 2050 fund.

- My union dues are 1.25% of gross + $1.

Taking all of the above into account, I calculate that once all is running smoothly (double cafeteria plan deductions are done and 457 plan contributions are happening) my take home pay will be $1,168.30 per paycheck. So that is what I am using to build my post-house-sale budget.

Spendy, Spendy, Spendy

August 9th, 2017 at 11:30 pm

It has been very spendy around here lately. In addition to the new-to-me car, I have recently bought some new clothes, a new laptop, and a new phone.

I am changing cell phone companies, as the area to which I am moving has spotty cell reception. Locals use Verizon and swear it is the only reliable company to use. I do know with Ting, I cannot get any cell phone reception on SB's property, but can get one bar if I drive into town. Ting's coverage map says otherwise.

I went with a prepaid Verizon plan. For $50.00 plus taxes per month, I will get 7mb of high-speed data, plus unlimited talk and text. So more than I have been paying, but not too bad. My phone is only a year old, but I can't use it with Verizon. They had an acceptable substitute for $179.99 plus tax.

The laptop set me back $835. I wanted a decent one with plenty of memory, a touch screen, and Microsoft Office.

Last Saturday night, I attended a jazz concert with a group of friends. The music was so good, and the company was lovely.

This coming weekend, SB and I are heading to Reno to meet some friends and enjoy a little get away.

I haven't learned many new details about my new job. I do know that the pay schedule is bi-weekly, so that will be a change too. So many changes!

I will be making less than I make now. I plan to claim single-0 on my W-4 since after 2017 I will no longer be itemizing deductions. I plan to contribute 15% to the 457 plan right from my very first paycheck.

My first day of work is also the first day of a new pay period, so my first paycheck should be in the regular amount I can expect every payday.

Until my house is sold, I expect I will need to dip into savings every month. Hopefully, there won't be more than a handful of those kind of months.

My budget will be in a state of flux for awhile, but I am already thinking about what it will be once everything settles. I am going to try more sinking funds for various expenses, rather than just one "CurveBall" fund. It is easy for me to spend money which isn't already ear-marked for something specific.

I had lunch today with a client who has become a good friend. I have two more such lunches scheduled for next week. Some parts of this move are much easier than others.

New Job Start Date; Bought an AWD Vehicle

August 3rd, 2017 at 06:03 pm

I am starting my new job on Monday, August 21. I will work at my old job until Friday, August 18. I have an awful lot to do and not much time in which to do it.

Last night, I browsed CarMax's website. The lot right here in my town had an 08 Honda CRV with 82k on the odometer and they were asking 13k for it. I went down to see it, and it is clean as a whistle and nicely equipped. They offered me 6.5k for my car. So, I signed the papers and drove home in the CRV.



It's the blue one. (The newer grey one to the left belongs to my co-worker). It is nice enough, will do the job, and the price was right.

I put nothing down but the 6.5k. I chose to purchase an extended warranty to 150k miles. I've never purchased an extended warranty before, but I opted for it this time. I financed the remaining balance due at 3.95%, and plan to pay in full when my house is sold.

Conditional Job Offer! :)

August 2nd, 2017 at 01:56 am

I received a conditional job offer today! (I must pass my background check). As you can probably guess, I am tickled pink!!

I am having laptop issues so am posting this from my phone. My monthly net worth statement will have to wait.

Job Hunting Update

July 29th, 2017 at 05:46 pm

This past week, I had two in-person interviews and one phone interview for the same job classification in three different county departmets. I think that all 3 went rather well. So that much is good, but of course other applicant interviews might have went well too.

When I got home Wednesday from my two in-person interviews, I had an email inviting me to schedule a second round interview. So, I scheduled that for this coming Tuesday. I already have an in-person interiew scheduled for this coming Thursday.

Here is a snip from my account on governmentjobs.com:



Which departments are these interviews for? It doesn't say. The e-mails didn't say, either. Notice they all say "second round interviews". That's nice, but also incorrect. One intervew was scheduled before I went to the first round interviews. (This one is the biggest mystery. Is it for a 4th department? Surely a department didn't schedule me for a second round interview before they interviewed me the first time?) That third one on the list is the telephone interview I had Thursday, which was definitely first round. So...the site is glitchy maybe?

So, it's a bit confusing, but I think it's going pretty well. I really hope to get a job offer. It doesn't matter which department, I will take it.

I have Googled to see if I can find info on the county's 457 plan and pension plan. I did find that the county pays the employee's pension plan contribution. That's VERY nice. I also found some minutes from a meeting 10 years ago when the county voted to change some of the 457 plan offerings. Included was a list of investment choices available, and I was very pleased to see a couple of Vanguard index choices on the list. Hopefully they havn't since removed them.

Of course, if I am offered a job I will be given all of this information, but I am antsy to know NOW.

At work, they have decided what they are going to do and so that plan is moving forward nicely. They haven't given me a final date and I haven't given them one. I think I should choose one whether I am offered a county job or not, as I have LOTS to do at home to prepare for this move. At the same time, there is some work I would like to finish before I leave. This is the hardest part. Much harder than saying good-bye to my house.

Test Results Are In; Planners, Planners Everywhere

July 22nd, 2017 at 06:48 pm

As I mentioned, I took a written exam on 7/12 for the position of "fiscal technician" in a particular department of my new county.

I received an email on 7/19 with my results. I scored 88%, which was the high score. Yay! That puts me at the top of the list and ensures I will get interviewed.

Since then, I have been contacted via email and telephone by at least 3 different departments. (I didn't actually apply for these other departments, but any department in the county which needs a new "fiscal technician" will hire from the same eligibility list for awhile, until the list expires. At that point, if you want to be on the eligibility list, you have to re-apply and re-test.) I have two in-person interviews and one phone interview scheduled for this coming week. I have one in-person interview scheduled for the following week, and I admit I am not sure which department it is for as the email did not specify.

I am very nervous and just hoping to not blow the interviews. Which is silly, because if I don't get one of these jobs, I will just find some other job. All will not be lost. But, I really want one of these which come with a beautiful pension.

In planner obsession news, I purchased one of these to be an exclusively work planner:



Do I need it? Not at all. But, I love writing in it. It is small so it is easy to pop in my purse.

I can hardly believe that I had been so unaware that such lovely planners existed and I wasn't using one. I have already purchased a budget one for 2018 and I have gifted 3 people now with a planner. MrsM180 is the most excited; I hope she enjoys hers as much as I am enjoying mine.



There are so many things I need to do at home and at work, it is overwhelming. So today I am dealing with it by heading over to my Mom's for the afternoon. Tomorrow will be more productive.

Home From Colorado Springs

July 8th, 2017 at 10:26 pm

I had the most awesome week in Colorado Springs. I got to see my daughter every day. We (all of us) made meals at the VRBO house, and went to play Bingo, and went to the movies, and enjoyed the hot tub and pool at Mr & Mrs M180's apartments, and just in general enjoyed being together.

Also, we went to see the Tuff Shed that Mrs M180 is planning to buy and finish as a house on their own property. (Currently, they are saving for that property). It is surprisingly nice! Well made with a nice layout, not overly large but not too small either.

It is so nice to see my daughter settled and happy in her adult life, actively making choices which will lead her to her goals. Smile

We left Colorado Springs Wednesday morning and drove to Moab, UT. Moab is a beautiful place. We visited Arches Wednesday evening and Thursday morning. We were on the road Thursday morning fairly early and drove 800 miles to Reno, NV. That was a looong drive; the most driving in a single day during the entire trip. We spent Thursday night at Harrah's, then headed home Friday morning.

Friday when I got home, I saw that on Thursday I had received an email regarding the job I have applied for with my new county. I am invited to take a written test this coming Wednesday. The timing is inconvenient to say the least, but I am going to the test. It is inconvenient because I will be covering for my co-worker this coming week while she is on vacation. I'm not even entirely sure exactly what I will need to do to cover her on Wednesday, but I will have to move those things to Monday and Tuesday. If I do not take the written test, I will not have a shot at the job.

Today I am just doing laundry, doing some chores around the house, trying to catch up on e-mail and blogs and such, and generally taking it easy. The trip was so great, but I am wore out.

A New To SB Car

June 9th, 2017 at 04:05 pm

Last night as I was getting ready to leave work, I saw that SB had texted me. He offered to take me to dinner and warned that he may or may not have ulterior motives. I said I would love to go to dinner, so he met me at my office. He was driving a new to him car.

He bought a 2007 Acura MDX with 122k on the odometer. Not high mileage for a 10 year old car. He got a really good deal on it, and of course paid cash. The MDX is an SUV with 3 rows of seats. The third row can lay down flat, giving you a large cargo area.

So, we will be taking this car on our road trip later this month. I will cancel the mini-van rental we had reserved.

The MDX is also an all wheel drive, which is highly desirable living in a mountain town with twisty, turny roads in every direction. I have considered trading cars myself but I'm not going to do it right now. My to do list is currently long enough without adding "look for a car". I'm going to get settled first and then see.

So we had a nice dinner at a Mexican restaurant in town we discovered a few months ago. Very reasonable prices and the food is delicious. After dinner, he says "Well, my ulterior motive is I left my truck parked near where I bought this car, so I need help getting the cars home." What a disappointing ulterior motive!

The MDX rides very nice, so I give this purchase a thumbs up.

Here Comes My Next Life Chapter

June 7th, 2017 at 02:21 am

So I have shared before about the allergy problems I have in my current location. With J now married and on the verge of becoming independent, I have decided the time is right.

I have a lot of stuff to get rid of and some things to get done to prepare my house for sale. SB and I will be moving to his timber property.

I'm not positive of my exact timeline, but it is soon. Definitely this calendar year.

I have given them a heads up at work so they can replace me. That might not have been in my best interest since they may replace me before I am ready. But, it felt right. They have been so good to me, I would not have felt right about leaving them on short notice with no plan in place.

I'm not certain exactly what I will be doing for work. We are moving to a rural area and job opportunities are limited. There is an opening in my line of work for the county (my future county) which would be awesome. I sure wouldn't mind having a pension, even a small one. (Way too late for me to earn enough service credits for a large pension). I have submitted an application, but who knows when or if anything will come of that.

I am fortunate in that my cost of living will be very low, so I can be flexible in the type of job I accept.

My plans will become more solid over the coming weeks and months, but at the moment, I just don't know much.

I wish that I had more cash in the bank. It may be that I am unemployed before I am out from under my mortgage. If I have to, I can take a Heloc draw. I hope it won't come that. I opened a new Wells Fargo American Express card last month in order to take advantage of a sign-up bonus. The card has a promotional rate of 0% for the first 12 months. I intend to begin using it for expenses, making only minimum payments, and saving the cash. When the house sells, I will pay it in full. It may be that I will need that extra cash to make mortgage payments. If I don't, then no harm done.

So, it's exciting and frightening all at the same time. Wish me luck!

RIP Buster

June 6th, 2017 at 02:54 am

Today was a sad, sad day.

Buster's tumors have grown and spread and he had stopped enjoying life so much. During the past week, he would refuse to move and instead bark when he wanted to go inside or outside or to another room. Yesterday, he would not eat.

I called the vet this morning, and SB, J, Mrs. J and I took him to his final vet visit.

Buster was so homely and not very bright. But he had more personality than any dog I have ever had the pleasure to know. How I loved that ridiculous little dog. I will miss him so very much.

Edit: In 2005, the year before my ex-husband and I split, ex-husband took 9 year old J to our local animal shelter to choose a dog. Of all the dogs J might have chosen, J came home with Buster. I took one look at Buster and asked ex-husband what he had been thinking. He just shrugged and said J picked him. The shelter estimated that Buster was 4 - 5 years old. Buster was J's shadow for years and was a great comfort to him during the divorce. I will forever be grateful for that.

Bank Purely Savings Account Experience

May 27th, 2017 at 06:40 pm

I thought I would share my experience thus far with Bank Purely. I think it is fair to say that thus far it has been a frustrating experience.

When I opened my account online, I received a message that I need a PIN and that I would receive it in the mail. I had to wait more than a week for that.

Meanwhile, I downloaded their app to my phone. The app is called iGo Banking. There is also an internet bank called iGo Banking. You can access Bank Purely with the iGo app, but if you google iGo Banking online login and click on the link, you are taken to the website for iGo Banking, not the website for Bank Purely. I found this a bit confusing.

Once I did receive my PIN and finished my registration, I tried to move money from my Wells Fargo checking to my new Bank Purely savings. However, my account was not linked. The same account I had used to make the opening deposit of $1. I hunted all over the website and read the FAQs, but I could not figure out how to link my Wells Fargo checking. I was beginning to fear that I could not link a checking account which was not on the iGo Banking app. I sent an email to customer service and waited for a reply. I did receive a reply the next day, with instructions. My fears were unfounded, I was able to link my Wells Fargo Checking.

Then we come to the next hurdle. I wanted to transfer $5,059.89. Well, I can't. There is a limit of $2,000.00. I scheduled a transfer of $2,000.00 on Monday of this week. I tried to transfer a second $2,000.00 on Tuesday. Nope. The first transfer was still in process, so any additional transfer exceeded the limit. On Wednesday, the transfer posted to my checking account. On Thursday, the transfer posted to my savings account. On Friday, I scheduled a second transfer of $2,000.00. That is in transit now.

So, I don't know. Their rate (1.3%) on savings is fabulous. But if I had known how long it was going to take to get my money into that fabulous savings account, I think I would have passed on this account. And am I limited to the same 2k at a time if I want to withdraw money? I don't know, but I suspect yes.

I'm going to email Bank Purely and see what they say.

Update: I got a reply back already. This is what it says:

We apologize for the inconvenience, we identified an error with your limits. Our Inbound transfer limits are $100,000.00 per transfer and $500,000 for a rolling 30 day monthly period. Our Outbound standard transfer limits are $15,000.00 per transfer not to exceed $50,000.00 monthly on a rolling 30 day period. Our next business day transfers are $2,000.00 not to exceed $5,000.00 monthly on a rolling 30 day period. If you wish to increase your standard transfer limit for outbound transfers to your external account, an email or message with the amount needed and brief reason for increase is required to process your request for a maximum outbound transfer limit of $100,000.00 on a single transfer. The request will apply to that transaction only and will default back to the standard limit.

Yeah, so I can only deposit 5k per month. Not loving it.

Banking Purely

May 2nd, 2017 at 03:51 am

Heard about this new internet bank on a message board forum. It is currently paying 1.3% on savings. And they plant a tree for every new account!

https://www.bankpurely.com/

Wedding Day

May 1st, 2017 at 01:24 am

The afternoon was sunny and warm. The ceremony was simple and tasteful. My son is now a married man.

A Fabulous Surprise B-Day Party

February 12th, 2017 at 08:13 am

So a couple of weeks ago I went to the dentist to get my toothache checked out and received the wonderful news that I needed a root canal. It was scheduled for yesterday, Friday 2/10. (And yes, as it turns out, root canals really aren't much fun).

I told SB about this, and did not realize that I had just thrown a big monkey wrench in his plans. He had been planning a surprise birthday party for me on that day. Without much notice, he had to move it to a different day.

So last Friday 2/3, SB texted me in the late morning to say he had picked up a sound gig for the evening and would not be home until late. OK. I decided I would go get my nails done and made an appointment for 5:30. In the afternoon, a friend texted me to ask if I would like to go see a movie with her. Why not, I thought, so we made some vague plans. I left work about 5:20 and headed to my nail appointment (just a few blocks away).

As I am walking into the nail salon, SB texts me again to say he did not have a particular cable he needed, described it and where it was, then asked if I could please go home to get it and bring it to him at the sound gig. Now home is in the opposite direction of the freeway and the movie cinema where I planned to meet my friend. My nail appointment takes 45 min or so. So this is a bit inconvenient and annoying, but OK, I say I will after my appointment. So I get my nails done, I drive all the way home to fetch his cable, and I drive to the sound gig.

Now the sound gig was at a venue which caters a lot of weddings, company parties, quinceaneras, etc. Years ago, I worked at this venue, and it is my current second job. SB works there now. It is a unique, very fun place, and I have made quite a few long-lasting friendships with current and former employees there. When SB texted me about the gig, I assumed a planned event had their sound guy fall through at the last minute, and that was how he ended up getting the gig.

So I enter the building and have my eyes peeled for SB, as he hadn't really said which room(s) the gig was in, and there are generally 3 or 4 events booked for a Friday night. I pass larger rooms and areas without spotting him and end up in a hallway leading to several smaller rooms. I walk through an open door and there are 6 round tables set up with people seated.

I glance at a table and notice all the people seated there are current or former employees of this venue, including the friend who I am supposed to meet for a movie shortly. I think "they are having dinner here together and no one invited me!". I glance at a different table and see my mother, my nephew, J and A, and several of my cousins from the bay area. This is very odd, as they do not belong at this venue at all. Then it hits me. Everyone pulls out a little horn, blows it, and yells "surprise!".

Well, I certainly WAS surprised. SB spent weeks planning the party and I had no idea at all. I think it actually helped that he had to change the date, because my actual birthday is 2/13 and the party was 10 days early. I was not even suspicious!

I went from table to table greeting each guest, and just as I was finishing my rounds, I saw my biggest surprise. My friend M who lives in Seattle strolled into the room. I could not believe it. He came just for my party and stayed the whole weekend. What a treat!

It was a wonderful party and a wonderful weekend. I don't even mind turning 50 so much. Smile

Wet Wall Repair

January 14th, 2017 at 06:50 pm

It has been raining a lot here. So the other day, J tells me that his bedroom wall is wet. Like, wet to the touch. Ugh!

It turned out that the flashing around his window had come lose from the siding underneath the window ledge. With the wind and rain, water was finding its way in. The sheet rock all around the window was soaked.

Today I have a repair person here taking care of the problem.

So, there goes the money I had squirreled away the past few months. Now I have to save it again.

Latest News At Chez Petunia

January 9th, 2017 at 02:33 am

Well, MrsM180 and hubby moved back to Colorado a few weeks ago. They are already settled into an apartment and MrsM180 has started a new job. It all happened really fast. They hope to be hunting for a house to purchase within a few months.

I miss them of course, but I am also excited on their behalf for them to be taking these big steps and moving forward with their adult lives.

J and his fiancee are now talking about getting married this April in Reno. There is still a lot up in the air with these two. Even so, I expect J will be launching sooner rather than later.

I'm going to be an empty nester soon. Wow.

In less momentous news, I have recently discovered the hobby called "planning". Do you know that there are people out there buying expensive "planners" from companies such as Erin Condren, Reflections, Happy Planner, etc.? And buying "monthly sticker kits", vast quantities of washi tape, and many types of pens in order to decorate the "weekly spread" in their planner? I found all of this rather surprising. And while I do not intend to start shelling out cash for this hobby, I have gotten a few ideas to modify my Bill Book to better plan for upcoming expenses and such.

Under Contract

November 15th, 2016 at 08:41 pm

I signed the contracts for my new roof and rain gutters. They will charge my MasterCard for my deposit of $950. It will be several months before the work actually begins.

I took a 10.5k draw on my Heloc, and was able to fix the rate at 4.24% for 3 years. The required minimum payments barely cover the interest. However, I believe I can pay the balance in full before the 3 years is up.

Home From Tahoe; A Second Estimate

November 15th, 2016 at 01:22 am

I'm home from Tahoe. We had perfect, beautiful weather. Smile And I have 10 new pokemon! I have 122 now; I am really getting there. Not that you care, but now you know. Stick Out Tongue

I have received a second estimate now. It was $9450 for the roof with no insulation, an additional $1300 including insulation. Also, $900 for new rain gutters.

The first estimate was $9500 including insulation; $1000 for new rain gutters.

Since my house was built, there is a new minimum standard for insulation in the attic. If you replace the roof, you must meet the new standard. The second roofer says there is an exception you can meet by choosing a light color shingle. That is why he quotes both with and without insulation.

A friend told me that since I am going from a wood shake roof to an asphalt shingle roof, I can expect my new roof to absorb more heat. In his opinion, it is a mistake to pass on the additional insulation.

So, I guess the first estimate was fair and this is just what it costs. It has been a lot of work getting these two estimates; I wouldn't mind getting a third but that requires getting a third roofer to return my calls.

SB said I should check with Costco. They do offer a lot of home improvement services. But I checked, they do not offer roofing.

I think I am going to hire the first company. The cost will be 10.5k. I will borrow that from my Heloc. Then I will attempt to cash flow the other work I want to have done this summer. Mainly concrete and tree removal, the rest I am fairly certain I can do myself, with a little help from SB. Once that is done and paid for, I can turn my efforts to paying down the Heloc.

Received An Actual Estimate

October 31st, 2016 at 02:48 am

Yesterday I was blessed with an actual visit from an actual roofer, which ended with him handing me an actual estimate. I don't even know how to act now.

Unfortunately, the estimate is 9.5k, which is quite a bit more than the online estimator tool I used had calcuated. I don't know if it is a fair price or not. For an extra 1k, they will also install all new rain gutters.

I have contacted a third roofing company via e-mail. So we will see if they get back to me or not.

Yesterday while at my mother's, my little mutt Buster Brown chewed through a board in her fence and escaped. We looked for him, then called the police (my mother lives in a small town). The police officer had in fact received a call about my little Buster wandering freely in the neighborhood, had picked him up, and had taken him to the animal shelter. The animal shelter is closed until tomorrow. So Buster has been enjoying a vacation at the animal shelter. The PO assured me he had personally shown Buster into his cage, that he had a cushion to lie on, food, and water. I will have to pay for his board. Yay.

My niece's foster baby is in the hospital. I do not know the details. She has texted me a few times but her focus is not on keeping me informed. I do know he was taken by helicopter to UCSF children's hospital. I know he is receiving the best care possible and hope he will be enjoying good health soon.

HELOC is a Done Deal

October 27th, 2016 at 12:28 am

I signed the documents for my HELOC from Wells Fargo today. The line is 30k. There were no closing costs. The annual fee is waived since I have a PMA checking account. The interest rate is variable. Currently, it is 6.75%. It can never be higher than 13.75%. There are several ways I can draw funds. The simplest is to log on and transfer from the HELOC to my checking (or savings, or Visa, or IRA I suppose).

The roofing company I contacted on Sept 7th promised to come out the next week to give me an estimate. Never heard from them. I e-mailed again on October 12th to see if they still plan to come out. To date, no response at all to my follow-up e-mail. So I have contacted a different roofing company. A man is supposed to be coming out Saturday to give me an estimate on a new roof and new rain gutters too. I guess if he shows up it will be a productive day.

This past weekend, I spent Saturday with my mom and attended the memorial service for my friend's uncle. Sunday I spent with my niece and her foster baby. We went for pedicures and did some shopping. That baby could not have been any better. I just love holding him and smelling his sweet baby smell.

SB needs to make some decisions regarding his acreage up in the mountains. We have been brainstorming ideas to get some income from the property. This will be good whether he decides to hang onto it or sell. If he does decide to sell, he will need to reinvest into some other commerical property. These aren't my decisions to make, still I am trying to help him make the best decisions possible.


Trying To Smell The Roses More Often

October 20th, 2016 at 02:00 pm

Last Saturday, I went to a party thrown by my DFS3G (dear friend since 3rd grade) in honor of her parents' 50 year wedding anniversary, plus her father's 80th birthday. The party was held on their property (country people). They hired a band, had it catered, the whole 9 yards. Friends and family coming from all over were expected.

Just a few hours before guests were to arrive, the brother of my friend's mother, went to the barn to get a bale of hay. He did not return for what seemed like a long time, so friend's father went looking for him. He found him lying in the barn, dead. They assume it was a heart attack, but that is not certain at this point. The birthday/anniversary party turned into a wake of sorts. It was a sad day.

On Sunday, SB and I went to see the movie "The Accountant". I thought it was a very good movie. I haven't enjoyed a movie that much in quite a long time.

On Tuesday evening, SB, J, J's girlfriend A, and I met my niece and her husband for dinner. The restaurant is a favorite of niece's as they offer a buffet on Tuesday evenings with crab and shrimp. This is the couple who are doing foster care and wanting to adopt. They had a 2 month old baby with them they had just "received" on Saturday. (Is that what you call it when you bring home a new foster baby?) He is not eligible for adoption and they know that. He is so precious. I certainly enjoyed holding and smelling him. Smile

After dinner, J and A told SB and I that they plan to get married in about a year. Wow. I had suspected this might be coming. J is still working 2 part-time jobs. A recently resigned her job at Home Depot to have a few weeks off before leaving for boot camp. She has enlisted in the Navy.

Last night SB and I met a girlfriend for dinner and a movie. We saw "Girl on the Train". It was almost as good as the book, which I read last year.

Also last night SB surprised me with concert tickets he bought only yesterday. The concert is tonight in Sacramento. Jimmy Buffett, who I have wanted to see forever.

So I have been busy and spending some money.

Pokemon Go

July 14th, 2016 at 05:45 am

OK, I want Pokemon Go. There, I said it. I think it sounds super fun. Sort of like the game Zoo on Facebook, only you get a little exercise.

The app is free, but, it won't run on 4.3 or older. My Samsung Galaxy S3 is completely updated and 4.3. Some websites say you CAN get it to 4.4, but it requires rooting. SB says I should get someone I really trust to do that because if I do it wrong, it is buh-bye phone. I am not all that tech savvy.

So, do I really want to spend money on a new phone? No, not especially.

Tonight as I was leaving my part-time job, I walked out onto the sidewalk. A group of 4 young men, early 20s, wearing basketball shorts, t-shirts, and athletic shoes were just walking past. They all 4 had their phones out. I said "Are you playing Pokemon Go?" They reacted. Some smiled, some laughed, and one said "We are supposed to be playing basketball right now. But, this is more fun!" and we all shared a laugh.

MrsM180 is playing it. She showed me her Pokemon. She has given them all clever names and some of them are very cute. She was just the right age to be enthralled with all things Pokemon back in the 90s, so Go is highly nostalgic for her.

What to do, what to do.

Expense-topia is All Paid

June 28th, 2016 at 07:26 pm

Well, I made it through expense-topia! Smile Last month’s big expenses are all paid, as well as my 6 month auto insurance premium. CurveBall has sure taken a beating. I didn’t “save” anything this month, opting instead to withdraw from savings as little as possible. Onward and upward.

It has gotten to be a little stressful to track all of my credit card purchases. With one Visa, I have “authorized user” cards for every member of my household. J will charge his gas, trips to the grocery store, and other small items with permission (such as his recent purchase of two new shirts and a pair of pants). SB will use the card for trips to the grocery store. He is in charge of splitting the grocery bill fairly, which he certainly does, I have no complaints there. Mr and Mrs M180 seldom use the card at all, I just want them to have it in case of an emergency. Any time they do use it, they repay me promptly. And then there are the cards I use, which changes from month to month as I try to maximize rewards. It just gets to be a bit much! So I have decided to experiment with using cash for groceries, gas, and personal spending. I will continue to use rewards cards for utilities, medical co pays, and insurance. Years ago, when my ex-husband and I shared one account, we used cash only for groceries, gas, and personal allowances and it really made things simple. I would like to have a little more simple in my life.

In rewards cards bonus news, I have recently applied and been approved for the new Ally rewards card. The sign-up offer is to spend $500 in 3 months and earn a $100 bonus. All I need to do is use it to pay my electric bill twice, and the reward will be mine.

Life has been so busy of late with extended family in town, a surprise 70th birthday party out of town for my cousin’s husband, and SB and I planning to head to my brother’s house for the July 4th weekend. But it is the best sort of busy. Smile

I am planning to replace my roof, get some cement poured in my yards, and improve my back patio. I tentatively think my roof will cost approximately 5k, the cement 2k, and the patio 1k. I am going to try to cash flow all of this by next summer. While I am working on setting this aside in CurveBall, I will continue to add to E fund with the goal of eventually reaching 15k.

Lack of Quality in Articles Published on Saving Advice

May 18th, 2016 at 05:08 pm

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. Mad

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.

http://www.savingadvice.com/articles/2016/05/17/1041068_how-...

More Car Woes

May 11th, 2016 at 07:34 pm

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.


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