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thursday

March 28th, 2019 at 08:59 am

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!

wednesday

March 26th, 2019 at 10:50 am

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 12:34 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 10:23 am

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 11:49 am

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!




Big Change?

July 19th, 2018 at 01:35 pm

I just celebrated 20 years at the company where I work, which I know is a very unusual milestone these days. And, now my company is going through a downsizing initiative because of financial difficulties and so I may not make it to 21 years.

The final outcome of the process will not be clear until later this year. Ugh. I am 53 now and I was planning on staying at my current employer until at least 57 or 58 and then retiring early with a plan of what to do next. I'm not sure that I could actually stop working at that age, but I was considering part-time or seasonal work as one potential scenario.

My place of employment is very hard to leave - I have incredibly good benefits (although these will start to be reduced for those who remain), it's a beautiful place to work where interesting things are always happening, and I'm in a rural area without many other suitable employment opportunities. So, if I lose my job, I may very well have to move. This would involve selling my house. Double ugh.

At the moment I'm feeling anxious and scared, which is understandable. I'm also thinking about ways to help myself through this time period. My first instinct is to retreat and hide in my comfort zone (addictions!) of internet and food and I have been doing some of that. Actually, I've been doing that for a quite a long time, way before this turn of events appeared on the horizon, so I need to address that anyway.

Another view is that this may be the shake up that I need to move myself in a different direction. Life is short and I'm honestly kind of frozen in place and a bit bored. I've let myself get way too comfortable and I'm stagnating on many fronts. I'm resisting change and that's not usually healthy or productive!

At this point, I have no idea what the outcome will be. Strangely enough, I will be somewhat involved in the process which will determine what positions are cut and it's a little hard to stay focused and motivated in general. I'm calling it "Project Digging Your Own Grave" in my own mind.

I've had some good cries and I'm trying to keep my mind and heart open to possible new avenues to explore and adventures to experience. I'm terrified of trying to find new employment at 54 - it’s a whole new world out there and I’m not sure how I will fit in. I have been coasting in my job for years - woops - keep growing your skill sets, kids – learn from your elders!

My first concern is determining my current financial state. I'm terrible at regularly managing my money, so I don't quite know what I have. Thankfully I have been able to put the max in my retirement account for quite a few years and I do have savings. My main fear is that if I do get laid off, I will lose the financial footing that I've worked so hard to build. I'm single, so I don’t have anyone to rely on to cover bills or health insurance for a bit. Plus, I'm tired and I deal with depression. I'm ready for a break. I'm not sure how I'm going to get the energy together to motivate for all of these possible changes.

I also want to focus on managing my anxiety, getting back on track with healthy eating and exercising so that I have as much energy and clarity as possible and reminding myself to take everything one day at a time. Life is short, it's summer, I'm alive and healthy, and things really could be a lot worse. I don't want to dismiss my own reality and my feelings about it, but I also want to keep it all in perspective and encourage myself to keep moving forward.

As for today, I unfortunately didn't get it together to bring a lunch, so I spent $8 on an unhealthy meal. On the plus side, a colleague gave me a dozen local free-range eggs that he can't use and I happen to be out of eggs right now! I'm also eating a lot of mini candy bars that I got from the same guy - not good, but at least they were free. Smile

I recently ordered a digital bathroom scale from M@cy's (on sale for $39.74 down from $96 and free shipping) so that I can keep better track of my weight. I hope I like it! The old-fashioned scale that I currently have is not very consistent and I can't see the numbers! The new one should arrive within a week.

Score, I just got 24 sw@gbucks for a search. All of my troubles are over! Smile


tuesday tidbits

June 6th, 2017 at 12:35 pm

I am generally not a big fan of weddings, but the one I attended on Sunday was a lot of fun! Gorgeous place (upscale inn), really good food and libations, and lots of love and warmth and laughter. My friend is 65 and this was her second marriage, but first real wedding, so she went all out. Oh my goodness, I’m so curious how much it all cost. I think her new husband paid for it, since he’s a bit younger and is still working. Apparently, he really wanted to host a wedding so that friends and family could gather and celebrate. His first wife died after being ill for many years and he is very happy and grateful to have met another woman with whom to share his life.

The food was delicious! My friend and I split our entrees – tenderloin and potato gnocchi with wild mushrooms. Yum. The beef was amazingly tender. The wedding cake and desserts were also tasty, so I broke my no sugar streak and completely indulged. It was worth it! After dinner, there was a lot of dancing to a DJ and I love to dance! I ended up losing track of time and suddenly it was after midnight and the party had cleared out. My drive home involves a desolate mountain pass, so the groom insisted that I stay over. It turned out that I slept on a foldout couch in his brother and sister-in-law’s room. Talk about awkward moments – sleeping with strangers! They were so friendly and very accommodating – “we love slumber parties!” Needless to say, I didn’t sleep well and needed to leave by 8a in order to make a massage appointment that I had scheduled for 10a. I had already arranged to take Monday off from work since I figured I would be tired after the wedding. I drank more than I usually do, so I had a bit of a hangover all day, even though I stopped drinking early and switched to water so that I could drive home (which didn’t happen!).

Yesterday after my massage, I couldn’t resist buying a bag of potato chips and a pint of ice cream ($7.49) for lunch – hangover food. I then had dinner out with my friend D, but I wasn’t very hungry so spent $13.99 on an appetizer (including tax and tip). I ate only half of it, so will have the rest this evening. D is going to live overseas for a year and last night was the only time that worked for us to get together before she leaves. I usually don’t like to eat out, but it was the easiest scenario. In hindsight, I should have ordered a full entrée and saved most of it for dinner tonight! It wouldn’t have cost much more than the appetizer. Oh well. I will be eating my own food for the rest of the week. I’m also starting “no sugar” again today. So far, so good although I am starting to feel my usual afternoon cravings, so I must resist temptation.

Back to work today. The weather has been cloudy and rainy for a long time – I hope it dries out soon! I dropped my car off this morning for a yearly state inspection and a $60K mileage maintenance. I’m bracing myself for unexpected repairs, so mentally preparing for a bill up to $2K. Hopefully it will be less than that, but I want to be prepared. Ultimately, I will be glad to have the car be up-to-date and safe for now. I have a physical therapy appointment at 4 for an issue I’m having with my arm and then I’ll go home for the night. I hope to muster up energy to do some cleaning because my house is a disaster. Smile