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Feeling pinched

May 10th, 2015 at 05:27 am

Now that I'm back in a salaried f/t position, roughly 98% of my income comes from my job, and given how much time it takes out of my day, I don't have a lot of time left over for side jobs if i want to hustle for a little extra cash.

Which is something I wouldn't mind doing as it seems my expenses have been crazy lately, and I seriously question whether I'll be able to save $11,000 this year in after-tax savings (see my sidebar goals).

I'm already committed to the masonry work on my front entry, but it's quite a chunk of change, $9800. I'm also having a lawn care service take care of mowing my lawn here for the first time; that should come to close to $1,000 by early fall. (They came yesterday for the first time and I was amazed at how quickly 2 guys could mow my front and back...1.5 acres. It took them about 10 minutes, and then another 10 minutes for trimming. Seriously, it would take me 3 hours and sooo much effort to achieve the same thing.

Besides the lawn care and the masonry job, I had big vet bills for Waldo (about $500 so far) which aren't over yet. I've also begun changing their diet plan so it's only 50% cheap canned cat food (aka Friskies and Fancy Feast) and 50% "the good stuff." Currently their preferred brands are Nature's Variety Rabbit and Weruva Steak Frites, but these premium brands are 250% more expensive. A can of Friskies goes for .52 at WalMart but the better brands can go for $2.50 or more for a single can.

So aside from my f/t job, I have retained just a single freelance client who started out with me a few years ago having me edit his emails. (I think he's ADD.) These days I've also been editing copy for his new poker website. But this is very small change and infrequent work.

I also very occasionally get some income from class action lawsuits. There's a website/newsletter you can sign up to get and it consolidates all the current lawsuits. Just the other day I got a check in the mail for $15 for the Truvia lawsuit. If you qualify and have purchased the product, all you usually have to do is fill out a claim form.

I also still participate in 3 online forums, for credit cards and AARP, answering simple surveys or commenting on something or other, so I can get $30 a month in Amazon gift cards. Of course, this is not really income in that I have to spend these rewards on Amazon merchandise.

Realistically, I just can't free up any time to, say, sell more perennials on Craig's List or something. The best course of action is to continue to tone down my spending again, which I admit got a little too much with all the stuff I've bought with discretionary money. Dishes from Williams-Sonoma, a silly Choo dynasty dog from One Kings Lane, gemstone jewelry from HSN, clothes from Macy's and Kohl's, a large canvas image of a horse in snow, a stock pot. These are the many ways I have largely wasted my money. Not that most of these don't give me pleasure, but many were ridiculously priced. (In fairness, the choo dynasty ceramic dog ended up being free because it was part of a pair of dogs and one of them arrived broken when delivered, so they issued me a credit and let me keep the one. The dishes from Williams-Sonoma were purchased using some of my $250 in gift cards I earned as wellness incentives from Cigna for getting my physical and so on.)

Today being Mother's Day, I'm taking my mother out to lunch and then maybe we'll stop at Whole Foods. I redeemed some of my wellness incentives from Cigna for a $35 gift card for Red Lobster, so that's where we're going. Before and after the lunch, I hope to get some more yard work done.

I had a yard of black mulch delivered and dumped in my driveway, so I began yesterday spreading it around my many perennial beds. I should have gotten 2 yards, but oh well. Yes, I can order it again but there's a hefty delivery charge which should have encouraged me to get more in a single delivery. There is SO much work to do in my yard, even without the lawn mowing. I have less time for it now, and less energy. And maybe less interest, too.

Lately I'd been thinking that maybe I could "age in place" here without having to move to a condo. This house has everything I need except that it's got somewhat more space than I need (more heating costs, more cleaning, etc.) and definitely way too much land to maintain). But if I'm honest, I'll admit it's still a better strategy to sell and move. It's just the thought of everything that would have to be done to prepare for a sale is so draining to think about. I AM getting a few things done, like the front walkway, but it's very slow-going. I should get out my punch list again and try to get some more things targeted for doing.

So here it is May, and I have yet to do ANYTHING from my goals list #2. Well, I did go to one Alzheimer's meeting but that's it.

This week there is a historical club meeting AND a genealogy club meeting and I really want to GO.

Waldo seems to be doing pretty well on his twice a day pill routine. Thank God for pill pockets. If I remember days of yore when I had to coat a pill in slippery butter and then get it down my cat's throat, well, it wasn't easy for me OR the cat. Pill pockets make what could be a real hassle to a treat for kitty. There is the next vet visit for another blood draw next weekend. That will really tell whether the meds are working, working too much and/or whether there is any underlying kidney disease, which i guess is somewhat common from what I've read about an overactive thyroid "masking" underlying kidney disease. Well, one day at a time.

11 Responses to “Feeling pinched”

  1. scfr Says:

    Moving is not something I've had to do "solo" since I was 28 (many many moons ago), and even with a husband to help I still find it somewhat stressful and a huge amount of work.

    Having said that, I wonder if an investment now in terms of time and effort and stress would be worth the payoff later when you have more free time and less work & stress.

    It may be too much to take on right now with all the other things going on (mom, cat, etc.) but I'm glad to hear you are still option to the possibility.

  2. scfr Says:

    make that: "OPEN to the possibility." No editing jobs for me! Smile

  3. Ima saver Says:

    I thank goodness for pill pockets too, my girls love them!

  4. Amber Says:

    Happy Mother's Day.

    Glad to here Waldo is doing pretty well. Also, would you mind sharing the class action lawsuit site?

  5. creditcardfree Says:

    Not sure why I can't see your sidebar...I've noticed that may be an issue on my blog since I edited it recently. You might blog about what you think you need to do to sell, it could be that you don't...a realtor (or a couple) could tell you their opinion too. I remember one home we thought we would need to change our vinyl in the kitchen, but realtor thought it still looked pretty good. Skipped changing it and sold the home in five days for over $500 list and didn't need to replace the worn vinyl (or what we felt was worn).

  6. Dido Says:

    I'm sorry to hear you are feeling pinched. But isn't saving 34K a year something over 40% of your income? I know that feeling that you can retire at 60 is important to you, but what is it worth in terms of the psychological cost that you pay to achieve it? Even though you are earning a decent living, you still seem in a scarcity, rather than an abundance, mindset. If you enjoy the scrimping and spending time filling out the surveys for $30, fine, but if you are beginning to find that you dread those, you might consider whether the time you spend on it is really worth it in terms of the psychological cost exacted.

    One thing that I have learned in six months of working for financial advisory firm serving high net worth clients is that the feeling of sufficiency has very little to do with the amount of money you have. If you are near the poverty line, then, yes, more money does make a big difference in more satisfaction. But your income is in the top 25% of household income in the U.S. (top 25% is about 67.3K, top 20% is about 91.7K)--and at that level, how you feel about your income has nothing to do with the amount of it, and everything to do with how you think about it.

    Our top client has multiple millions in assets and still thinks of himself as virtually a pauper--every quarter we go through a process of explaining to him how well he is doing, but there's always a number he will grab on to that is below expectations, and feel that he is falling behind (when in fact, his portfolio is growing by over a million a year *despite* the fact that he is withdrawing over half a million a year to live on). Spend enough time talking to people like that--and also to the retired middle class couple with their million in investments who are happy as clams with their financial situation, and you soon see that "enough" is all in your head.

    Rather than earning more or spending less, allow yourself a little flexibility. There are more expenses this year--but maybe there will be fewer a couple of years down the road. If the surveys are beginning to seem tedious, stop doing them and spend your time doing something else that you enjoy and will benefit from. Remember that the investments you make are not just financial, but that you need to invest in your health, in your relationships, and in learning new skills and abilities as well. Consider your entire well-being, not just your financial well-being. After all, what is money for?

  7. Dido Says:

    Also--I wouldn't worry about changes to Social Security impacting your Full Retirement Age. The most aggressive suggestion I've seen is Chris Christie's, which would impart changes starting for the cohort born in 1960--but you're a year before that, so wouldn't be affected. And I think that Christie's suggestion would never get through--too many Boomers and Republicans would be affected. The time that they changed the social security age from 65 and extended it, gradually, to 67, they gave people a 20-year window to prepare for the change--the changes were put into law in 1982 and the extension of the age from 65 to 67 started in 2002, 20 years later. The first cohort to be affected was born in 1940, turning 62 in 2002, and was thus in their early 40s at the time the change went into law. If they tried to extend the social security age for those of us in our 50s, I think there would be incredible resistance and that there is no possible way that such a change could pass. Even with Republicans in charge of both houses. After all, Republicans age too.

  8. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    I'm glad Waldo is doing better.

    I get feeling like the savings goals just aren't going to happen. Mine this year was to add $7k to my EF. Unless I find some other sources, that;s not going to happen. I'll be doing good to hit $5k I think. When I start to feel frustrated and discouraged about it, I remind myself that I can only do my best and that it's better than negative savings!

  9. My English Castle Says:

    We're all scrambling a bit to hit our savings goals, it sounds like. I agree--maybe making a list and hacking away at the "must-do" list a little at a time will help you feel like you're making progress and moving forward?

  10. snafu Says:

    Happy to learn fur baby Waldo is doing better. I hope tests confirm his illness has been limited to the thyroid which improves with meds.

    While I'm loving our condo lifestyle with someone else providing the organization and labour, it's not for everyone. Realistically, if you 'baby step your way to having your home 'sale ready,' you can cross bridges as needed and prepared for those events.
    I've no idea of the issues. Masonry work is underway, I recall a closet being repaired, blinds installed in the porch... What needs to be done structurally, urgently, cosmetically etc?

    If you have a lot of stuff acquired over the years that is not used and no longer needed, it's a good idea to review one room each week seeking items broken, wrecked, not functioning, woefully out-of-date, stained etc for recycle & trash. No point in keeping floppy discs and un-useable technology.

    Target items that still retain value to be sold via Facebook sale page, CraigsList, or local Buy n Sell. Identify with a stationary dot or Post-it-note and put up one or two photos each week. Check with local charity shops for pickup dates in your district and start filling a 'Donate' box so that someone else can use and enjoy items that have morphed into clutter. As we move in
    to summer, release the winter garb you didn't need or wear and summer clothes you know you'll not wear because of fit, unflattering, uncomfortable or you just don't like.

    The point is to have what you use and need, where you need it. If you have excessive shrubs, perennials, bulbs etc, an ad to 'dig' for named perennials should reduce over abundance and net a bit of income.

    I found myself moving quicker than I imagined, DSs away at school, DH working in SE Asia. Sold half the stuff and when I moved discovered I had too much to fit the space so I sold, consigned, donated and trashed half again. BTW, I've never had to buy something discarded and missed anything. Day to day living is so much easier with so much less to look after.

  11. PatientSaver Says:

    Thanks for all the thoughtful replies. I have to remind myself to check my blog because i no longer get an email alert that someone commented. Thanks to Dido for a good reminder about tempering expectations, although doing the surveys don't feel too tedious to me. It's not like I'm doing dozens monthly, just 3 or 4, I'd say.

    I do feel I'd benefit by easing up on myself and my determination to hit certain numbers by certain date to reach my overall retirement goal. I am doing pretty well by anyone's standards, and I do need to enjoy other aspects of my life besides my financial achievements.

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