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Newest Blog - Quite an Honor!

October 26th, 2022 at 04:53 pm

Well, just look at this!   My blog is one of the newest on the site!   I started it in December 2010, so I guess that's pretty new?   This is unimportant, it just kind of cracked me up.

Budget By Paycheck

October 23rd, 2022 at 07:25 pm

Maybe a year or so ago, I stumbled across a You Tuber named The Budget Mom.  She has a website and sells some products and recently wrote a book.  She promotes a budgeting method called Budget By Paycheck.  I started using it and find it simple yet effective.  It is just a zero based budget for every paycheck.

Here is my planned budget for my paycheck this coming Friday:

10/28/2022 1,000.00  begin
  1,595.30  pr
  1,055.74  from sf
  (250.00)  SB
  (300.00)  sf
  (260.00)  cash
  (244.24)  Roth
  (28.50)  life ins
  (77.53)  WF Visa
  (1,215.77)  Citi MC
  (275.00)  CarMax
  1,000.00  end

I am just using Excel.  I had been throwing the odd dollars and cents leftover into a sinking fund called "House Down Payment".  As you know, both of my kids have purchased homes in southern Illinois.  I don't have a definite time line, but there is no question in my mind that my fondest wish is to be where they are.  However, the new recipient of every spare cent I have will now be my car loan.

Edit:  A few words about the line items in my budget ~

begin - I keep a 1k buffer in checking, just in case I need some quick access.

pr - My net payroll check.  My share of my health insurance premium and a 5% contribution to my 457 plan are already taken out.

from sf - Transfers in from my sinking funds to cover expenditures.

SB - I give SB $250 every payday.  He buys all of our groceries, buys gasoline for the generator, and pays our electric bill.  And Starlink internet.  Seeing this in writing, perhaps he and I need to discuss if this amount is sufficient.

sf - Automatic transfers to sinking funds, which happen a few days after payday.

cash - This is spending money, gas money, and misc things from the drug store (hair products, vitamins).  I don't always make it without putting a tank of gas or other item on the Citi MC.  

Roth - I contribute 10% of my gross to my Roth IRA.

life ins - Automatic deduction for my term life insurance premium.

WF Visa - I don't use this card, but SB has a second card in his wallet.  He uses it on occasion when I ask him to pick something up for me, or if he has run errands for me and I wish to buy him some gas.  It's just a convenient way for me to pay without us trading money.

Citi MC - This is the payment I will be making on payday.  Unfortunately, it is not the entire amount currently owed.  However, I have not yet been billed for these charges so I have some time yet to pay without owing interest.  I try to pay my balance to $0 every payday, whether it is due or not.  My phone bill, Netflix, and now Discovery Plus all are on autopay to this card.

CarMax - A car payment; the first of many.

end - The 1k buffer for next time.

Another Car Loan

October 23rd, 2022 at 05:29 pm

It was my hope to never take another loan in my life with the possible exception of a mortgage at some point.  Before the CR-V began giving me trouble, I had begun setting aside $250 each payday earmarked for my next vehicle, and had amassed 2k.  That became my down payment.

The price of the vehicle I purchased was $26,988.  I opted to buy an extended warranty.  With tax and registration the total purchase price was $30,674.40.  That's sure a lot of money for a car.

After driving it for a week, I have to say I really do like the car.  The keyless entry and start is really nice and convenient.  The backup camera and lane change assist are wonderful.  I believe it was Monkey Mama who mentioned that going from a 2008 model to a 2018 model would be a substantial upgrade in safety features and I have definitely found that to be true.

So now comes the small matter of actually paying for the vehicle.  I opted for a 72 month loan with an interest rate of 4.95%, making the monthly payments $462.02.  CarMax Auto Finance is the lender. The first payment is due 11/28/22.  I get paid every other Friday, with my next pay date being 10/28/22.  I read on CarMax's website that they allow split payments so long as the minimum amount due is received in full by the due date.  So my plan is to pay at least $231.01 every payday, beginning this coming Friday.  I am going to break my personal rule of no "pull" transactions from my checking account and submit the payments on CarMax's website (rather than from my bank's website).  I want the payments to process immediately, not days later.  I want to shave off every penny of interest expense possible.

I have a lot of extra expenses to pay off right now.  The vet bill last Saturday was $1,163, I have made hotel room reservations for December, I am planning a party, I am paying car insurance for two vehicles right now.  These expenses go on my Citi MC so now I need to get them paid in full before interest accrues.  I have tapped my sinking funds to help pay and should be able to pay in full before the due date without tapping them further.  We'll see.

For this coming Friday, I have scheduled a payment of $275.00 to CarMax.  It's a start.

This has been a busy week and I have been grieving for my sweet girl and I am just worn out.  Today is a take it easy day.  I'm watching TV (old episodes of Sister Wives on Discovery Plus), puttering around online,  and cross-stitching.  SB is at work today, but will be home around 8pm.

I got the biopsy results on my uterine polyps and they were benign.  All is well there.

Heart Broken

October 16th, 2022 at 06:41 pm

I did buy that car yesterday. And then the day took a horrible turn.

We went to my niece's and while there, my sweet Bella began struggling to breathe and foaming at the mouth. I took her to the closest emergency vet where they immediately put her under anesthesia, intubated her, and took xrays. The vet said she had advanced pneumonia and it was too late to treat her. I feel horrible because I hadn't even known anything was wrong. We stopped at her favorite park that morning and she ran about happily. She devoured her breakfast. She seemed perfectly fine and healthy. And now she is gone. She was only 5.5 years old.

I can't stop crying.

Now I have to go home to a place that will feel horribly empty and unbearably sad.

 

 

The Decision Seems to Have Made Itself

October 14th, 2022 at 10:33 pm

My car was left at the repair place yesterday as I was not able to drive following my procedure.  So earlier today, SB and I hopped in his car and drove down to Placerville to pick it up.  The shop didn't charge me a cent, even though they had checked it out.  That was a pleasant surprise.  It started right up and I drove home, no problem.  After SB got home,  he said he was going to drive it down to the shop (the big metal shop with tools and equipment on his property) and wash it.  Well, guess what?  It would not start.  Apparently it needs to sit overnight before it will start.  SB thinks that this is going to be an expensive problem to diagnose and repair.  So, that's it.  I am breaking up with my car and moving on.

You know, about 6 months ago, SB mentioned I should consider selling my car while it still has value and buy something else.  I scoffed.  I intend to drive this for years yet, I said.  Oh, I just hate it when he is right!

I can sell to Junkcars.com as is for $1,074.  I was very honest about the problem.  It's kind of a bummer, but I don't have to put any money into repairs and I don't have to lie about it.  (Which of course I won't lie to a potential buyer).  I just spent $800 odd dollars two months ago putting on new tires.  Bleah!

Update:  I am not going to sell it to junkcars.com.  At least, not yet.  I am going to take it to a mechanic, drop it off, and let him figure it out at his leisure.  If it can be repaired, then I can sell it private party for more than $1,074.

So here I am, I need a car right away.  I kind of like CarMax, I feel that they have a big selection and they are upfront about prices and they don't play games.  So I hopped on their website and looked at a few options.  I need AWD and I need something with clearance, so that basically means an SUV.  My preference is a Honda or a Toyota, but I didn't see anything that said screaming good deal to me.  So then I just searched for any vehicle with AWD and I found a 2018 Hyundai Tucson with only 12k miles on it.  That is practically new.  It has the SEL Plus option package so it is very nicely equipped.  They are asking 27k for it.  An actual new one is close to 40k. I have an appointment to see it tomorrow.  I am probably going to buy it, but I can't say for certain because I have never even driven a Hyundai.  

This Tucson is at the CarMax in my former hometown, Modesto.  So my grand plan is to drive SB's little Toyota Corolla to Mom's, take her and my nephew to the CarMax, then if it is a yes my nephew can drive SB's Corolla back to Mom's and we can proceed south to my niece's house.

 

A Decision to Make

October 14th, 2022 at 02:02 pm

I had yet another medical procedure yesterday; this time it was a D&C.  Without going into too much graphic detail, my menstrual cycle has not been behaving the way you would expect in a 55 year old woman.  My primary doctor said she would be content to take a wait and see approach if not for the fact that the cancer I had earlier this year was hormone receptive, and the drug I am now taking (tamoxifin) has as a side effect increased risk of uterine cancer.  So off to a specialist I went, who agreed with my primary, and I spent yesterday going under general anesthesia for the procedure, complete with a camera insertion.  They did find some polyps and I will get the results of those sometime in the near future.

So the day before the procedure, I had just gotten off work and stopped to pick up some take out.  SB was scheduled to work late and I did not feel like cooking.  I got back in my car and it wouldn't start.  It clearly wasn't the battery as my dash lit up, my AC began to blow, and I had just used the remote key to open the car.  No sound from under the hood, not even the initial click. This situation had happened before about 1.5 years previously and I had a new starter installed.  I waited a few minutes and tried again, then waited and tried a third time.  Still nothing. I had to call a tow truck, get a tow to a nearby repair place, drop the key and instructions in their overnight slot.  I called SB while waiting for the tow truck and he said he would leave work early and come to collect me.  I should mention here that our home is 22 miles north from the town where I work, and it is up a mountain.  Of course the tow truck driver will not drop me home.  SB works in a small mountain town a bit further north than ours,  so I had to wait a while at the repair place for SB to arrive.  I demonstrated for his viewing enjoyment the fact that my car would not start.  So it was official.  It had been 2 hours of my car not starting.

Yesterday while I was having my procedure, SB went to the repair place to discuss my car.  Guess what?  It started immediately for them.  I actually did not think this was good news.  What is going on with my car?  I need to be able to rely on it starting.  I do a lot of driving through remote areas and I do not want to be stranded.

Today I am just resting at home.  Tomorrow I plan to drive down to my mom's house, then take her a couple of hours further south to my niece's house.  She and her husband moved into a new house last month, and have recently taken in 3 small children through an adoption agency, with plans to adopt them.  They are a sibling group, ages 3 years, 2 years, and 6 months.  This niece is also the mother of Mya, the baby for whom I cross-stitched that "Once Upon A Time, A Princess Was Born" project I shared a few years back.  Mya is now 3.   Mom and I have yet to meet their new children and see their new home.  

That is 9 hours of round-trip driving planned for tomorrow.  It's not that unusual for me, and I need to be able to rely on my car.

This particular niece and I have been planning a surprise 90th birthday party for my mom this December.  This past week I have confirmed that an aunt from Indiana, in her 80s herself, is making the trip out to attend.  My mom is going to be so delighted!  This aunt is Mom's sister-in-law.  She was married for many years to my Dad's youngest brother.  Mom has known her since they were both young wives.  It's a big deal because there just aren't too many from that generation left.  Also a cousin from Vancouver, WA, and a cousin from Spokane, WA and his wife.  

And...my kids are both flying out from Illinois!  Squee!!  While my kids are here, we will be making a trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium (my daughter's request).  We visited often when the kids were growing up and they have that new deep water exhibit that we all want to see.  They will only be here for 5 days but we are going to make the most of our time together.  

The day before the party, I am going to show up with them at Mom's and tell her happy early birthday present.  She will be surprised and delighted, and I think it will throw her off and make her think that nothing else big is afoot.  The day of the party, I will insist that we are going out to lunch, then drive her to her party instead.  We are having it in the fellowship hall of the church she attends.  

So what is the big decision to make, you ask?  The car.  Do I replace it?  It is a 2008 Honda CR-V with 180k miles.  I am perfectly content driving it and had hoped to get a much higher number on the odometer.  I do not have enough cash on hand to replace it, so buying a different car would mean a loan.  I'm not really in to having loans.  However, I'm also not into being stranded for hours at a time.  And I was lucky to be right in town.  I drive through canyons with no cell signal daily.  I just don't know.  

 

Safe From Mosquito Fire

September 30th, 2022 at 02:55 am

Well, what a crazy couple of weeks it has been.  The Mosquito Fire started small, then a few days in there was a very windy day and it grew exponentially.  It was about 2.5 miles north of us and 1 mile east of us, with nothing in between but dry timber.   The situation changed FAST.  Our area was evacuated.  I was at work when it happened.  SB sent me this picture, taken from our little front yard just as he was leaving:

I thought for sure that our place was going to burn.  However, a CalFire crew did a big dozer line just to the east of us, and it held.   We got SO lucky. Smile

As it happened,  we had been asked to house sit for some friends about 30 miles away.  We had declined to stay there for their entire vacation, but agreed to stay there some nights.  Well, we ended up staying the whole time.  Again, we were so lucky.  We did not have to pay for a single night of lodging.

Meanwhile, I started my new job while we were evacuated.  It was hard to focus while we were waiting to see what the fire would do.  This is my third week and all is going well so far. I am really enjoying it, but it is a big change of focus for me.  I work in a beautiful building, with offices centered around a big atrium. It is such a pleasure to enjoy this space. Here is a picture I snapped while sitting at my desk: