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Question for Lots o' Ideas

May 14th, 2023 at 05:52 pm

Wow, I haven't posted in quite awhile!

Lots of Ideas - I noticed your comment below in Petunia100's last post and I'm wondering if would elaborate?  I'm going to need to get a mortgage at some point in the near future and am curious about the two scenarios you described.  Thanks!

As far as financing, if the bank won’t finance such a small amount, you could reserve the cash, borrow a larger amount, then use the reserve to pay it down. You would earn interest on the reserve and because the mortgage would be in ‘future’ dollars which will most likely be worth less than ‘current’ dollars, you might save money.

And I know it is counter intuitive, but taking a long mortgage to lower payments - the bank doesn’t care how old you are - can leverage the ‘future dollar’ strategy so it is worth playing with the numbers.

The advantage to this is you would start with a substantial emergency fund.

starting 2020 with big milestone

January 10th, 2020 at 03:13 pm

Happy New Year and new decade fellow SA bloggers!

As usual, I wish I could blog regularly, but I just can't pull it off. I do however read the blogs almost daily and really enjoy keeping up with everyone's triumphs and trials and cheer you on from afar. I also learn a lot from the various posts.

Last night the sum total of my retirement accounts (work plan and my own Roth and Traditional IRAs which are all housed under at one company) reached the big milestone. It was a little surreal to see the amount in its full glory. It's been so close for the past week or two, but didn't actually cross the line until last evening. I thought I would celebrate now because it will very likely dip up and down and not consistently stay above the line for quite awhile. I'm enjoying this bull market while it's here, knowing full well that a bear is lurking in the shadows ready to emerge from hibernation at any moment.

I haven't thought much about 2020 goals - mostly just trying to make it through each day after a 2019 filled with lots of unexpected changes. Honestly, I've never had much success with setting and reaching goals, my mind just doesn't work that way. I'd be retired by now if it did!

Just noticed that my sidebar is woefully out o' date - I turned 55 in 2019.

I hope 2020 brings my fellow SAers whatever it is that you want and need most.

A random ramble about avoidance and cars

October 8th, 2019 at 07:03 am

(originally posted July 19, 2019)

I tend to avoid spending, even when it’s absolutely necessary. My car is making a subtle noise and I have been procrastinating taking it in for service. I don’t want to know what the noise is or how much it’s going to cost to repair. The main problem solving skill that I learned as a child from my mom and grandmother was “ignore it and hopefully it will go away or solve itself.” Guess what – that doesn’t work. 55 years later and my default is still to ignore problems and hope they go away. My house is falling apart due to this logic.

The car problem is amplified in my mind because I am starting to think about replacing my current vehicle which is a silver 2010 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport hatchback named Sally. She has almost 90K miles.

I’ve owned four cars in my lifetime. The first was a beige Chevy Chevette with orange and brown stripes (ah, the 70s) which was a hand-me-down from my older brother. I’d still be driving that car if my dad hadn’t stepped in and bought me a new red Honda Civic Hatchback (Lucy) in my mid-20s after he heard I was planning on driving the Chevette from the East Coast to Colorado. I had Lucy for 10 years and probably drove her for about 180K miles since I took several cross country drives.

My next car was a black VW Golf named Pablo. My dad provided the car loan and I was paying him back monthly. Then my dad died less than a year later and I was so distraught that I think my mom ended up eventually forgiving the loan if I remember correctly. I had Pablo for 10 years before trading him in for my current car.

Now I’m almost at 10 years with Sally and thinking about what’s next. That’s why the current problems (the new noise and the fact that I should replace the timing belt soon, which will be $650+) are amplified. I don’t want to put money into a car that I might not have much longer. But, I need to drive it until I do have a new car, which could be quite a while, so I can’t really avoid the repairs. But I want to!

Ok, I called a car place and made an appointment for Thursday. Another resistance point has been wanting to try a different shop than my usual one (outside of the tech school that I’ve been using, see below, but it’s closed for the summer) because I think they are pretty expensive. I need to have the car fixed because I’m taking a six-hour drive this weekend to visit my mom and younger brother. I wonder what the problem will be and how much it will cost to repair?

I wrote this entry a few days ago (I have so many unposted entries that I’ve written over the years…). I dropped the car off this morning, explained the noise and also asked them to check the brakes, which have been a little off since I unexpectedly left the car sitting in my driveway for month during the rainy spring. Just got an update call with what needs to be done:

Noise is left front wheel bearing $275
Front brakes $250
Rear brakes $300
Inspection due date is in August, so they could do it today $60
License plate bulb blown out (needed for inspection) $10
Estimate - $900

Normally, I would have put off the inspection until September and probably the rear brakes, but decided to just have them do it all today and get it done. It’s important to have the car as safe as possible for my big drive this weekend and now I don’t have to think about and take the time to schedule a second appointment.

I’m kicking myself because I had my snow tires taken off a few months ago at a local tech school and asked them to check the brakes. I was told that the front brakes were a bit rusty from sitting and that I could either replace the pads and rotors or wait and see if driving the car would wear off the rust. I was taking a big trip and didn’t think I had time to go back and have the work done before leaving. And, I didn’t want to acknowledge that the work needed to be done and that I’d have to spend money, so I waited. The front brakes would have only cost $160 if I had done it at the tech school, which is now closed for the summer.

It’s almost like a strange Russian roulette game that I play in my head – thinking I’ll be fine, that I can get away with not fixing or buying something, but then I have a nagging in the back of my head as I test fate, in this case, driving six hours both ways on the questionable brakes (I did that in May/June). Or driving around with the noise for the past month, knowing that something was wrong, but waiting.

Oh, and I have the money. It’s not a matter of going into debt if I get my car fixed. Although, if I was to address all of the problems in my house, I would need to spend a lot of money and wipe out a good chunk of my savings. So, I just avoid them all.

Now it’s Friday morning, and I picked up the car last evening. The grand total was $928 and the car is ready for my big drive. I do feel a sense of relief that it’s all finished – that gift to myself should be worth the pain of spending. I want to concentrate on that aspect more…I need to put necessary spending in the mental category of self-love/self-care.

Argh – didn’t realize until I started to drive away from the repair shop that I should have had them change the oil, too!!

Lucky Robin Says:
July 20th, 2019 at 12:09 am
90K isn't that much for car mileage these days. It still has a lot of life in it if maintained properly. Do you really need a new car or do you just want one? I guess it doesn't matter too much if you can afford one, but you can probably take that one to 150K to 200K miles.

Amber Says:
July 21st, 2019 at 10:31 am
My Camry 🚗 has 250k miles and she runs great. I love that car.
I’m glad you got repairs done, breaks are a serious matter

rob62521 Says:
July 21st, 2019 at 01:28 pm
I think although the $900 price tag was probably a shock at first, deferred maintenance adds up. Plus there is the safety issue not only for you, but for the other drivers around you. Glad you got your brakes taken care of.

We look at our house as an investment. We aren't planning on making a big profit, but we try to keep things updated and fixed not only because it makes our lives easier, but if something should happen and we would need to put the house on the market, say one or both of us couldn't live here, we figure keeping things fixed and somewhat updated will help in the long run. I keep a notebook on what we have replaced and when we replaced it so we know how old things are like the roof, drive way, water heater, etc.


March 28th, 2019 at 03:59 pm

I just called my flex spending provider and was told that the 2018 claims I submitted on Tuesday that totaled $1300 were all approved and will be paid out tomorrow via check. Yahoo! That’s a relief to have that finished before the March 31 deadline. I have $1200 available for 2019 and have already have EOBs that I can use for reimbursement of $1100 of that money, so I need to make a note to do that soon rather than wait until next year at this time. That will be a first for me!

I will review my taxes this weekend and make sure they are finished with the possible exception of the IRA contribution decision.

Last night I booked a flight to Florida to visit my mom in mid-April to celebrate her 85th birthday. Wow. I will be down there for 12 days! The only drawback is leaving my cat alone for that long. She gets sooo sad. I will hire my usual pet sitter to visit and take care of her every day, but she hates being alone for that long. And, I miss her when I’m away! I hope she will be ok. I wish I could take her with me to Florida – she would love my mom’s place, especially her screened in porch. When I drive to visit my mom in her summer location, I take the cat, but flying is a different story. I think the travel would be too stressful for her, she’s easily frightened.

Time for lunch!

BTW - if you happen to read this Dido, I did see your recent comment and will at some point post a job update. Thanks for asking!


March 26th, 2019 at 05:50 pm

I have been really busy the last few weeks and I feel exhausted. Most of the busyness has been work-related, but I have also managed to squeeze in some fun along the way.

On Friday, March 15, I attended the concert of a favorite traditional band with a few friends ($44 for 2nd row seat). Joyful music was just what I needed to start that weekend. Then this past Saturday I went cross-country skiing after a big Friday night snowstorm (have a season’s pass). The conditions were fabulous! I wanted to go again on Sunday, but decided to stay home to relax and get some things done around the house. On Saturday evening, I took myself to a nearby tiny venue for some Bach music played by two women on piano and cello ($15).

Tonight I’m meeting with a few members of my knitting group. For the potluck dinner, I’ll make a salad from veggies I already have in my fridge and I will take a scarf project that I’ve been knitting for about two years now. We’ve been getting together for probably over 15 years and it turns out that I don’t enjoy knitting! We always have delicious food, though, and great conversations. Of the five women who are available this evening, four of us are beginning ukulele players and the other is wonderful singer/musician, so I suggested that we all bring are ukes and do a little jam session!

I worked at home on my sun-filled porch yesterday. I’m still busy, but it's a quiet week overall at work because my boss is on “vacation.” I’ve worked with her for 20 years and last summer she took her first legit vacation where she actually did not check in via email at all for about four days. It was heavenly! This week she is staycationing and has only sent a few emails so far.

I finally just submitted my 2018 medical flex-spending claims. The deadline is March 31, so I hope that they all get approved without a problem and that I receive the entire $1300 available for 2018. It’s not “free” money – I elected that amount and a little was withdrawn from my paycheck each pay period.

I recently hit my 2019 out-of-pocket maximum, so I should probably submit claims for the $1200 I elected for this year while the process is still fresh in my mind. I’ll have to go through my 2019 EOBs, which will total $1100, and then remember that I have an additional $100 kicking around if any other expenses appear throughout the year. I always wait until the very last minute just before the final deadline to deal with these medical reimbursements, so it would be very unusual to get the money an entire year in advance.

I also need to finish my taxes. I entered all of the information about two weeks ago and just need to review and decide whether or not I’m going to contribute up to $6500 to my traditional and/or Roth IRAs. I go through this song and dance Every. Single. Year. Do I or don’t I contribute? Traditional IRA and get a refund or Roth IRA for future tax-free withdrawal? I put the max amount into my work retirement plan plus my company contributes an additional 15% of my salary amount. My IRAs are not well invested – I should really look into that this year.

My lunch break is over – back to work!

Edit: Adding this because I just realized that today is only Tuesday, not Wednesday - yahoo! I'm so relieved - more time for some work projects with upcoming deadlines and one extra day for making sure the med reimbursements get processed! I thought this week seemed to be flying by...

Reminders to myself

March 11th, 2019 at 07:34 pm

Long time no blog!

I do still enjoy reading and being inspired by other SA blogs, though. Thanks to those of you who are consistent.

This is a reminder to myself that I need to:

1) Do my taxes. Usually very easy except for the decision to contribute to an IRA.

2) Submit forms for medical reimbursements for my 2018 flex spending account. I think I have $1300 available! Oh good, writing this has just spurred me on to find some old emails and figure out how to log into my account, so that's one step done. I do have $1300 in my account for 2018 and the deadline for submission is March 31. $500 will roll over, but I don't want to lose the $800 since it's taken from my pay. I collected invoices for a recent dental crown and prescription sunglasses that I bought just before the new year (on December 31, I believe!). Now I have to figure out what else I can submit. We used to be able to use EOB forms from my insurance company, but now I think I need to use receipts/invoices.

Just noticed my blog "author" info and wish I was still only 51!

property taxes snafu

August 10th, 2018 at 06:23 pm

My town's property taxes are due once a year on October 1. Each year since buying my house in 2004, I have received property tax assistance from my state. At first, I would receive a check for the state's contribution in mid-July and then I would pay my full tax bill by October 1. Finally, the state wised up and started sending the assistance checks directly to town treasurers. I imagine a portion of taxpayers would get their check, spend it immediately on other things and then end up delinquent with their property taxes.

So, now I get a letter in July which outlines my total property taxes, how much the state will kick in, and how much I will ultimately owe out of pocket in early October. This year, my letter contained no state amount. I was shocked – had I suddenly reached a salary limit? I checked the state's website and learned that a large portion of the property tax assistance forms had not been processed in time this year. So, I assumed that I was part of that group and I waited, but then I decided to check into it just to be sure. I called my town's treasurer and the state tax department and found out that my electronic filing wasn't correct and that my property tax assistance form was never received! Apparently, I wasn't the only one dealing with this scenario. There seems to have been a slight glitch in turbot@x and some of the forms did not get filled out and filed correctly. Since it has worked fine for the past 14 years, I didn't notice that there was a problem this year.

Phew, I am so glad that I decided to be proactive. I was able to fill out and submit the missing form through the state's website. I will be charged a $15 late filing fee, which I don't like, but I guess I can live with! I may have to pay my full property tax bill up front and get reimbursed from my town if they receive my assistance payment after October 1. The tax payments are paid to the towns once a month.

For 2017, my total property tax bill was $3895.70 and my state assistance was $2008, so I owed $1887 out of pocket. This year my bill is $3765.23 and I do not want to miss out on almost $2000! I'm going to call the tax office in a week or so and see where things stand with my form. I want to make sure that the information was submitted correctly and that I will be receiving the assistance. Can't leave anything to chance!

Gorgeous day – the humidity of the past week has finally lifted and it is sunny, warm and breezy. Smile

already august

August 1st, 2018 at 07:49 pm

I feel like I'm slogging through my days – I don't like uncertainty or change!

I just took a little vacation to the Finger Lakes to visit P, an old friend from college. P lives in CA and stays with her parents at their lake house for a portion of the summer. It's a beautiful spot! I drove there Thursday and returned on Monday afternoon. It was a very low key visit. P had a large brain tumor removed three years ago and is still learning to deal with the physical changes that the operation created. She had a stroke that affected her right side, so she can’t write very well and her speech will always be halted as she searches for words (aphasia). Unfortunately, she is not facing her challenges head on and making the best of the situation. Instead, she has kind of given up and lives a pretty limited life, in my opinion. No judgement – it's her choice, but it's kind of sad to see. I can understand, though, since I deal with depression and live a fairly limited life, too!

Anyway, while there I took a few good walks to get some exercise, spent almost no money, went for a boat ride with P and her dad and was able to jump off and swim in the middle of the lake, hung out with P, caught up and laughed about old college memories, and just generally enjoyed the peaceful lake scenery. It was a nice trip and I really liked being away from the stress of my current job situation.

Oh, I also have recently taken up bird watching as something interesting and fun to focus on – keeps my brain and eyes active! I've been paying closer attention to bird songs and calls when I walk and I saw lots of beautiful birds while in the Finger Lakes region. P's parents have a few bird feeders and it was fun to research and start identifying the various birds I saw. I've always enjoyed observing birds, but now I want to know a little more about them and at least be able to identify more than just blue jays, robins, crows, seagulls and cardinals! Right now I am using old binoculars that I got free at some point and bird books that I borrowed from the library, so it's a cheap hobby so far. Smile

I used 3/4 of a tank of gas for the drive there and then again on the drive back. I also bought some junk food on the ride out of sheer boredom and seemly unmanageable cravings! I took food with me for most of my own meals, P's mom made dinner twice, and P treated me to a very casual dinner and ice cream one evening. I tried to pay, but she wouldn't accept my offer.

I just found a few receipts in my purse. Some recent spending from mid-July and later:
$103.08 – groceries (including assorted junk food items) bought since July 18
$6.38 – paper towels
$31.00 – six-month post office box renewal
$5.00 – garbage disposal for four weeks

Trip costs
$23.81 – gas fill up before trip
$36.20 – gas fill up for drive home
$13.80 – roundtrip tolls
$18.45 – road junk food (fast food milkshakes and fries, soft serve ice cream close to home) ugh

$92.96 – total - not bad for a four-night lake vacation! Would have been less than $75 if I could have resisted the siren song of junk food on the road. Next time I need to just buy some “healthy” snacks for a drive. I had packed a salad for lunch, but apparently that wasn’t going to cut it!

$36.00 – oops, forgot about my cat sitter cost – 3 days x $12, so the trip cost $128.96 total

I am settling back in at home and work. I spent last evening at a local friend's lake house (I'm lucky that I know a lot of people who have waterside vacation homes) with a group of friends. For our potluck I chopped some local veggies from my fridge and served them with hummus and red grapes that I also had on hand. I was very happy not to spend money on that food. I also made my lunches for yesterday and today with food in my fridge. I will do the same for Thursday and Friday.

I'm feeling very anxious and am having trouble focusing at work, but I should get back to it now that my lunch break is over. Baby steps!