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Archive for April, 2019

Tuesday Tales

April 9th, 2019 at 06:03 am

I scheduled my annual advisory checkup with T. Rowe Price for next week. It's just a phone call where they do a little fact-finding about my goals, and then they follow up with nicely detailed recommendations for fine-tuning my portfolio and perhaps making little adjustments to my asset allocation.

I'm always curious to hear what they recommend. I've done this before and followed their advice. It doesn't mean you have to allocate to their funds, and there is no charge if you have a certain minimum invested (again, doesn't have to be with T. Rowe Price.)

Most of my assets are now with Vanguard, but I have left my 2 taxable accounts and a small SEP-IRA with T. Rowe as I didn't want to create a taxable event by trying to transfer those monies over to Vanguard.

The guy I was counting on to assess all the hard-to-access nooks and crannies in the foundation where mice could enter, and then do all the sealing, is so busy he can't get here right away, and I'm farther out than he needs to go for new customers. Apparently, he's quite busy in his own area. He didn't say no not at all, but he said it may take a while...which means this will hold up my insulation job, and actually, the garden window job too, because I'm reluctant to spend on other things til I know just what he would charge.

I suppose I could proceed with the new insulation since cellulose is treated with boride, which repels pests, but I'd much prefer to do the sealing first so I'd be assured mice would not foul the new insulation. I'm feeling committed to doing it this year, and want to keep my mental momentum going, but I will wait...for a time... for sealer guy.

In the meantime, I have another insulation company coming later this week. I'm feeling better informed about my options now and just want to see what they say.

I'm due for an emissions test on my car, which in CT only happens every few years. Will do this week. I should be receiving a check from the auction house soon for the old books I auctioned off. The guy who gave me those books in barter has decided he wants to grow elderberries so he can make elderberry wine. And he has promised to have me up when they drink the wine! I told him I'd be happy to get a bottle of elderberry wine included in our next barter.

My Amazon Prime expires today, and I'm not too worried. Once my .99/month Hulu expires in the 4th quarter, I will investigate Netflix vs Hulu vs Amazon Prime and likely go for the most economical route.

I'm going to the town's genealogy club meeting this week, as the focus will be on researching NJ relatives. Also on my schedule this week is catching the last showing of Green Book at our $3 theater, and walking with a friend after work at least once.

I was able to do a fair amount of yard work this weekend, which included raking up all the twigs and small tree branches under the old apple tree, which was cut down, in preparation for grass seeding, which I'll do later this week.

I cut up (by hand), about 8 feet of an old picket fence to take to transfer station, and cut back the old stems on a bunch of sedums around the front yard and driveway areas. I transplanted 2 small cedar tree seedlings growing in the wrong places. Still a ton more to do, but at least I'm making progress.

Expensive home improvement projects

April 6th, 2019 at 05:47 pm

Did some raking today, which made me feel so out of shape. Now I'm enjoying a toasty 75 degrees inside because I've turned the heat off and am running my kerosene heater. We may not have too many cold nights left, so I'm trying to use up my emergency power outage kerosene stockpile.

I'm still very busy getting quotes from contractors for various projects. Attic insulation is #1 on my list. The 1st guy wanted to do the spray foam for $3900. The more I read about it, the more I didn't like it, from an environmental/health point of view. And it all boils down to the technician's expertise. They mix 2 chemicals together on site, and if they get the ratio wrong, the stuff won't cure right and you'll be breathing in the outgassing for months.

The 2nd guy wanted to do rigid board foam, which would be somewhat better because these are pre-manufacturered and less chance of something going wrong. But he wanted over $7,000!

I did more research and decided I wanted the old-fashioned blown-in cellulose, which is nontoxic, a recycled product and even repels rodents because it's treated with borax for its fire retardant properties.

I had trouble finding guys who still did the cellulose, because they can all charge much more to do the spray foam, and it is, legitimately the most energy-efficient product out there. But I'm willing to give up a few points in R value for a more eco-friendly product.

After sharing my thoughts with spray foam #1 guy, he came back to me with an estimate of about $1500 for the cellulose, which he kept trying to talk me out of when he was here, but I think he realized that instead of losing my business entirely, he may as well quote me a price on what I wanted from the start.

However, he said he'd just blow the cellulose in over my existing insulation. I know the fiber glass batts I have are filled with mouse droppings, and I don't like the idea of putting brand new insulation over mouse droppings.

So....I'm trying to get a different guy out here who would do a whole home assessment to determine points of entry and then give me a price on completely sealing the home. He's not cheap. I tried to get him out here last year, and although he didn't, he said his cheapest price is $3,000. He got great reviews on Angie's List. He's not an exterminator, and appeared to be the only guy who did what I was looking for: someone to prevent entry, not simply kill them with baits or poison, which I could do myself. He crawls around the foundation, basement, roof and it's the kind of very messy, dirty, filthy job I suppose a homeowner could try to do themselves, but I sure don't.

So, although it's hard to swallow so much $$ for an "invisible" home improvement, I'm thinking I should bite the bullet, and the thousands I would have otherwise spent on pricey spray foam insulation could be applied to the house sealing instead.

I've decided to drop out of the "Mastering Aging" program. I've been to 3 classes and really haven't learned anything new. It's all very basic stuff. This past week the topic was nutrition, and the dietitian speaker said a number of things challenged by a few people in the audience. I didn't think she was very well-informed.

Tomorrow I'll be attending a meeting on building a pollinator pathway here through town. Similar to a wildlife corridor that provides shelter and safe passage for critters, the pollinator pathway is a continuous swath of native nectar sources for endangered butterflies, like the Monarch.