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Archive for January, 2019

Fun afternoon

January 17th, 2019 at 04:55 pm

My neighbor, who is on disability after the school bus he was driving was t-boned, invited me to check out a Habitat for Humanity store in a nearby town. While we didn't see anything interesting there, we also hit an estate sale I heard about. Everything was way overpriced, but when I asked the price on this unmarked wreath, he said I could have it for $6.



I just liked it for some reason..because I like birds, and there are 7 of them here on what's made to look like barbed wire and bittersweet vine.

After that my neighbor treated me to lunch at a local Chinese restaurant. I know he's very bored sitting home. Both he and his wife are both very extroverted people who like to be around other folks, and they're both very interesting to be around.

Much of our lunch conversation centered around what we would do if we won the Lotto. (He bought us each a ticket when he filled up for gas.)

When I heard last Tuesday they were going to blow up the old Tappan Zee Bridge that morning, I quickly called my father as I remembered he was headed across that bridge for a doctor's appointment. They were closing all ramps leading to the bridge in both directions, and there would be major traffic delays. I got him on the phone but he sounded noncommittal. I know when he gears up to do something, he doesn't like to change plans. Luckily, though, he cancelled the trip and rescheduled for one of my days off so I can drive him there in a few weeks.

So when I got to work that day, I watched on live TV all the viewing parties going on, on either side of the Hudson River, people drinking Bloody Marys at 10 am and making it "an event." Then when it imploded, it was over in about 9 seconds.

I had my heating oil tank filled up today at a pretty good price, $2.44/gallon. Many places have a minimum 150-gallon fill-up, and now that I was down to a half tank, I wanted to fill up while prices were still reasonable. Bad weather and subzero temps this weekend will surely raise prices as early as next week, so this was a good time to buy; this fill-up should last me through end of February, possibly longer.

We're expecting some really nasty weather here Saturday night into Sunday. Lots of snow and/or freezing rain which will make driving treacherous. So I'll be spending a good part of the weekend hunkered down, cooking, cleaning and shoveling. And hoping I keep my power on.

I may need to work at home on Monday.

For those of you looking for ways to earn a little extra cash, check out SaverLife.org. I enrolled last year and earned $40. This year they have a different "Scratch and Save" program where I should be able to save something just by ensuring that I save more than I spend in my checking account from one week to the next.

In line with my resolution to eat a more varied variety of foods in 2019, I found a big bunch of dandelion greens in the salad section at my local Big Y a few weeks ago. I was curious to try it in a salad, and it wasn't bad. I want to get some more tomorrow, as I've read very good things about dandelion greens.

I also bought a large fresh papaya at Trader Joe's, but it's still mostly green; hopefully it will ripen soon.



Catching up

January 14th, 2019 at 05:47 am

Not much new in Patient Saver's world, but I've always appreciated routine and structure.

The crazy hours at work seem to have abated last week, and this past weekend was the first one in a while where I didn't have to work. I'm not sure we're completely in the clear now as I heard some people had to work on Saturday, but I guess I'll find out more when I go in today.

I am anxious to get all my paperwork together to do my taxes, as I may end up doing them twice....with and without the new standard deduction...just to understand how that might affect my bottom line. I'd love to just make it easy and take the standard deduction, but I want to make sure I'm not needlessly leaving money on the table.

I have already noticed longer daylight hours. Have you? There's still a little light left in the sky at 5 pm, and that's an improvement from the darkest days of December. We haven't even had any major snow yet, and I'm already pining for spring! Wouldn't it be grand to get through the winter with NO snow? Alas, weatherman this morning said some kind of significant snowfall may be coming this weekend. Thankfully, it won't happen on my scheduled workdays.

My local library has begun a yearlong Reading Challenge; each month, you need to read a book in a given genre; they have a recommended list if you don't have anything in mind. Once you read the book, you get your form stamped at the library and are rewarded with a small gift.

The January gift is a library tote bag, so I'm going for it! I checked out a book called Wave, written by a woman who entire family perished in the tsunami wave that hit southeast Asia in 2004. My first choice had been Man's Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl, but surprisingly, my local library didn't have such an important book. I will have to save that read for a time when I can wait a week or so to have that book sent here from another area library.

I am SOOO interested in decluttering and have been taking baby steps in doing so. A few articles of clothing here, or some paperwork in my desk drawer there. Really small stuff. I admit to having an overflow of office supplies, but these I can and do use, so I'm not disposing of them. Clothing, too, I hate to throw out, even if it doesn't fit me now, because I DID lose 10 pounds last year and believe it's doable to lose a few more, which would mean some very nice clothes I have may fit.

My weekly pay is fairly variable, and it makes it hard to estimate a year's worth of income in advance. I was surprised when I put down an annual income number when doing the online application for ACA healthcare that my monthly premium rose by about $20, and I realized later, after determining my gross for this year, that I greatly overestimated my income for next year.

So once I get my paycheck this Thursday, which happens to be for exactly 20 hours of work time, I will take the occasion to modify my account at ACA, with the paycheck as backup documentation, if necessary, and this will likely lower my monthly premiums.

I have wound up doing nothing at all with the Christmas gift of money I got from my father. It is nice just having that extra cushion available, and it makes me a little less worried about spending a little more on quality food, for instance. Yet I still feel myself procrastinating about calling the HVAC company that installed my whole house humidifier just a few years ago, because I realized it has not been working this season. It's very, very dry in my house (around 37 on the barometer), which is not great for my dry eye syndrome.

I think my inherent frugality is borderline cheap, sometimes, when I frown on paying $150 or more on a service call to fix something like the humidifier. I guess I will cave, eventually, but first I want to take a closer look at it and make sure it's not something real simple, like maybe the tube that carries the water is connected. The water valve is open and the switch at the control is on, so I don't know.

So my neighbor friend is working more hours at her p/t job, and she took me up on a casual offer I made to OCCASIONALLY walk her dog on Thursdays when she's at work; it was something I said after she told me she was worried about the dog being left alone for 3 long days in a row. (She also asked me if I'd be willing to walk the dog Saturday as she had plans to go into the city with her niece, and I agreed to that.)

As far as the walk during the week, she asked if i could let her know the day before if i could walk him so she could in turn let her sister know she wouldn't have to come to let him out in the yard. I was a little leery of doing that because I wasn't ready to commit to walking him EVERY Thursday, just on occasion when the weather was decent and I had time to do it. I think she wanted to give her sister a break from coming over, too.

I didn't want her to totally depend on me because I doubt I would want to do it every single Thursday; I don't like to walk in very cold weather, I might have more important things to do or I might just not feel like it. I wanted to do it, on occasion, just as a favor to her.

So I suggested she just have her sister keep coming , and if i was able to walk the dog on any given week, to just consider it a bonus for the dog. She reluctantly agreed.

Has anyone been able to update their sidebar?

January 1st, 2019 at 09:01 am

I haven't been able to do it for a while. If I make changes to it, I click Save but it doesn't take.

Assessing the (stock market) damage

January 1st, 2019 at 08:20 am

Happy New Year to all at SA, and may your financial resolutions come true!

It being January 1, I took a peek at my investment portfolio to assess the damage.

It actually wasn't TOO bad since my portfolio mix has been 45% stocks/45% bonds/10% cash for a while (an asset allocation I wouldn't recommend for most people under 50.)

Most recently, in October, I moved another $8,000 of stock shares to 'safe harbor' at the persistent recommendation of my late friend, R. I will surely miss the many frank conversations we had about money. He was very supportive and full of praise when it came to that, and he provided many positive affirmations about what a great job I've done managing my money. He knew, more than anyone, what it took to accumulate those savings!

Getting back to my portfolio: I'm down $22,000 compared to a month ago (ouch) and down 3% compared to 1 year ago. However, I'm still up 9% compared to 2 years ago. It's really just a matter of how you want to look at it, from a short- or long-term perspective.

To be honest, the milestone that is more important to me is one I haven't reached yet: millionaire status. I came closest to that goal in February 2018, when my investments stood at $993,984. I thought hitting the $1 million mark in a month or more would be easy, but that's when the market started going sideways, and today I'm even further from that goal at $935,741.

Counting the value of my home, my net worth stands at about $1.2 million.

My only financial resolution for 2019 is to stay on the path I've mapped out for myself for the next 6 years: pay as close to 100% of my ongoing expenses with the income from my p/t job. Last year, as mentioned in my previous post, I covered 96% of all expenses with earnings; theoretically, covering all expenses this year should be easier to accomplish because I got a raise to $34.50/hr.

To further ensure I can do this, I plan to more closely watch money spent on capital improvements to my home; I'm thinking $5-$6,000 at most. Looking at my Home Improvement Wish List on my sidebar, I think I can easily tackle at least 2 items on the list; which ones exactly, I'm not sure yet.

In other news...

New Year's Eve was just another quiet night at home. I had to work yesterday and didn't get home til about 7 pm. My friend had invited me over to watch a movie, but I know I'd be getting sleepy in just a few hours, so instead we'll be doing the Inaugural 1st Walk of 2019 this afternoon. Smile