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Archive for October, 2015

October spending and update

October 31st, 2015 at 09:02 pm

Happy Halloween!

I just remembered that we have an extra hour tonight with the time change!

First of all, an update on my mom's health. She was diagnosed with early stage 2 breast cancer and had an appointment with a surgeon last week to learn about treatment options. Thankfully my sister-in-law was available to go with her to really listen, take notes and advocate on her behalf. My mom tends to be anxious and only hears negative things. From what I can gather, this is not uncommon for someone of my mom's age (81) and sounds very treatable with a lumpectomy and radiation. It remains to be seen how the radiation will affect her. She's very strong and still fully living life, so hopefully her body will be able to handle the treatments. My SIL is taking her for a second opinion this week and then she'll choose a doctor, set a surgery date and begin the process. I feel sad that my mom is facing this, but I feel relieved that it sounds like a fairly positive prognosis. When my dad was diagnosed with ALS 16 years ago in his mid-60s, the doctor told him that there was nothing they could do and advised him to get his affairs in order. It was brutal.

We haven't decided on Thanksgiving plans yet. I've gone to visit my mom in my hometown the past few years and for two years before that, she and my brother and his family made the trek to visit me. I'm torn on which I'd prefer this year. My mom is talking about visiting me, but she may be recovering from surgery and unable to travel. I'm flexible, so we'll have to see how it all plays out.

Spending was a little higher in October than in the past two months since I started keeping track of my finances in YNAB. I had money from three pay periods available to spend in October - two from September and one from early October. October was a three-paycheck month, so the funds from the two later checks will be used for my November budget.

October breakdown

regular monthly expenses
landline/DSL/wireless 87.97
cell phone 11.53
skype 2.99
electricity 51.15
insurance - car & home 115.37
hair appt 105.00

everyday expenses
healthy food 76.68
junk food 25.32
gas 94.29
medical 120
entertainment 12.40
eating out 54.25
toiletries 11.22
trash 5.00
clothing 24.30
laundry 10.75
cat 24.46
household goods 1.05

driver's license renewal (four years) 48.00
online dating* 101.94
stamps 1.47
small architecture book 7.40

property taxes 549.73 (added to cash left from Aug & Sept for a total of $1895.25 paid on Oct 1)

bathroom renovation 500.00 (1684.48 balance remaining which i plan to pay off by January 1)

TOTAL SPENT: 2034.87

*This charge was for my profile on a dating site. i forgot to go thru the cancellation process to get a steep discount and my credit card was automatically charged. I didn't have the energy to call and cancel, so I just accepted it. Maybe I'll be motivated to actually interact on the site and go on some dates! I reactivated a year ago and have basically ignored it.

So, essentially, I have the extra October paycheck amount leftover - yay! I plan to roll that into the following savings accounts:
heating oil account $100
2016 property taxes $167
Roof repair account $749.42

This is all based on my net monthly income. Contributions to my 403B retirement plan get withdrawn automatically each pay period. I'm trying to determine if my take home pay is adequate to cover my actual living expenses or if I should decrease the amount I contribute to retirement in order to live more realistically today.

I'm mostly satisfied with my October spending except for the $25.32 for junk food and $54.25 for eating out which includes $19.65 total spent on three take out lunches. When I get stressed I tend to comfort myself with eating. Overall, I'm pretty impressed that the amount wasn't much higher given the combination of intense work stress in early October and finding out that my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. It's actually quite an improvement over past compulsive spending on junk food. But, I would like to learn to take that money and spend it on other things that could provide comfort and joy in my life. I tend to be miserly with myself and for some reason, food is the one category where I seem to be able to spend freely. It's a comfort zone for me and I'd like to stretch into new zones.

Well, I'm off to meet my friend M and her daughter J for some trick or treating! Boo! Smile

mums & pumpkins & snowflakes

October 15th, 2015 at 04:16 pm

I'm starting to emerge from my stupor. Last evening, I stopped by a casual friend's house on my way home from work to drop off $10 that I owed her for a group gift. She was just about to sit down with her husband to eat chicken stew and broccoli and they invited me to stay. We had a great time - delicious food and fun conversation and I didn't have to worry about feeding myself when I got home. Good timing on my part! Smile

The interaction and free food gave me some energy, so I set my timer for five-minute increments throughout the evening and was able to tackle part of the mountain of dirty dishes (I don't have a dishwasher), piles of dirty clothes and clean laundry that I had hung up all over the house to dry over a week ago! I was still very tired, so took a lot of breaks to numb out with streaming TV shows on my laptop. I had to do a quick work project early this morning before a dermatologist appointment (my skin scan was clear - yay!), so I didn't have time to continue Operation Clean House. I won't have time this evening, either, because I'm meeting my friends E and J for a light dinner and musical performance in the "big city" which is about 45 minutes from my house. J will pick me up and drive, so I'll offer her some gas money. We bought the tickets (about $30?) earlier this summer and I hope that dinner will be about $15. It should be a fun evening with friends and they have been very supportive about my mom's diagnosis.

I decided in late September to forgo buying mums and pumpkins this fall because I knew I would be super busy and wouldn't really be around to enjoy them. Plus, I wanted to use the money in other ways. It turns out to have been a good decision to make! My friend M and her daughter gave me a large pumpkin from their garden for my birthday two weeks ago. Then I ended up purchasing a bunch of mums and pumpkins for my work events last week which I then distributed amongst myself and colleagues to enjoy after the events were finished. So, I now have four pots of beautiful mums of various colors and sizes and three orange pumpkins adorning my front steps. All for free!

I will have a few snowflakes coming in. I'm waiting for $25 from recently redeemed Sw@gbucks through P@ypal, for which I received an additional 55 SBs for my birthday. I currently have enough SBs for another $50, but will wait until after October 19 to redeem in order to get any possible "swagups" from recent challenges. I just remembered that I did a personal computer task for my boss' side business, so I need to charge her. I think it will be $25. I should think about what to do with these various snowflakes so that I can utilize rather than squander them.

I want to gather and process receipts and paperwork for my 2015 medical reimbursement account in the near future. I just looked up my account and didn't realize that I had chosen to set aside $1500 this year. I will need to figure out where to put that money once I claim it.

Somehow this weekend, I MUST find the paperwork for the roof repair and maintenance estimate that I got years ago and then had updated a few months ago. The roofer is a super busy slate specialist and I have to get on his winter list of projects in order to get the needed work done.

I am so happy that tomorrow is Friday! Smile

feel like a zombie

October 14th, 2015 at 05:40 pm

My intense work craziness is over and I am so relieved. I organized and executed four large events last Thursday and Friday, all of which were successful and well attended. Yay me! Definitely a few glitches here and there, but for the most part, things ran smoothly and the powers that be seemed satisfied.

I was exhausted all weekend and pretty much laid around sleeping and binge watching TV shows on a laptop. I did get outside for long fall foliage walks on Saturday and Sunday with my neighbor/friend A and attended part of an outdoor concert on Saturday evening with my friend M. The music was festive and fun and I jumped around and danced for an hour. A great stress reliever!

I then found out on Monday that my mom does indeed have cancer and is looking for an oncologist and surgeon as the first step. I believe she has an appointment with a doctor on Monday, so that's a start. I'm very sad and upset by the news, and I will be there to support her no matter what the outcome. Now that my big events are over, my work schedule will be much more flexible and I may even be able to visit my mom and work remotely. Thankfully, my boss is a breast cancer survivor and is very understanding.

I thought I would have more energy this weekend to get back to my neglected life, but I was just too wiped out from work and my mom's news and I still am. My house is a disaster and I hope to straighten up and clean in increments this week because I don't have the energy to tackle it all at once. I haven't made much headway the past two days, though. I slept in today and didn't get to work until 11:00a.

Thankfully I didn't resort to mindless spending during my busy time. I bought one take out lunch last week ($6.55 for Chinese food - totally worth it!) and on Sunday I succumbed to a craving for Cape Cod potato chips and a half gallon of local chocolate milk ($5.98 total). I bought healthy food at the market on Sunday ($31.29, including $10 olive oil), but haven't gotten it together to make lunches for this week yet. My boss treated me to lunch at an Indian restaurant on Monday and I had a tiny leftover wonton soup in the work fridge that I ate yesterday. I then had a hair appointment at 4:00 and my stylist, who is a generous and nurturing woman, made me two bags of microwaved popcorn because I was hungry and gave me an extra-long head massage because I was stressed! Hair coloring total was $105 ($85 + 20 tip). I just had Chinese takeout today for lunch ($6.55). Not ideal, but it is what it is, as they say. Maybe I'll get a grip this evening and make salads for Thursday and Friday lunches.

I weighed myself on Monday and seem to have maintained my recent weight loss, but I will need to get back on course soon or the downward spiral will begin again and I will gain it all back.

I haven't kept up with YNAB, but will hopefully get reacquainted this weekend.

Guess I should motivate and get some work done today! The fall colors are spectacular in my area, so I'm trying to enjoy those as much as possible.

Thank you! and low spend

October 7th, 2015 at 01:47 pm

Thank you for all of the supportive comments on my last post - I really appreciate the many kind thoughts and words.

My mom had her biopsy yesterday and for some reason the doctor said that he thought it was probably stage 1, slow growing because of her age, and treatable. This was based on his experience, but seemed kind of odd that he would predict. Anyway, she won't get the results for about 5 or so days, so I'm just going to wait to for those and see what's next. Hopefully it's something that can be dealt with. My mom is 81, but still pretty strong and healthy.

I am in the heart of my work storm - these next three days are the culmination of all my recent busy-ness. I can not wait until Friday at 6:00p when it's all finished and I'm free from this particular project. Lots of work will follow as always, but not quite so intense (I hope) for awhile.

I'm holding together pretty well. Definitely no time to spend money! Keeping YNAB updated, but will look more closely at it next week to see how I want to budget the rest of October's funds.

Thanks again to the SA community. Smile

October spending and upsetting news

October 4th, 2015 at 01:55 pm

So far, so good for October spending. I filled my car with gas and had to purchase some needed household supplies yesterday. Electricity and phone bills will hit soon and I will have to pay a monthly medical statement as well as my lawn mowing guy.

I think that October will be more spendy than the last two months, but I hope to have some leftover money that I can put towards paying off my bathroom renovation. I still owe almost $2700 to the guy who did it and have been paying $500 a month since June. The project went way over budget and he was willing to accept monthly payments, but I feel bad about it and should just bite the bullet and pay it off ASAP. My goal is to be finished by the end of the year. I've never actually sat down and added up the total renovation cost - it just seems too overwhelming, but maybe someday.

The $1,895.25 check for my property taxes cleared, so now my checking account balance is a true reflection of available funds for October. My next two October paychecks will then be applied towards November expenses.

October non-bill spending so far:
Gas $33.79
Birthday lunch with friends $12.10 (I just noticed this charge on my card which was supposed to be $14.60 including tip. I was really stressed from work that day and must have written the tip and total only on my copy of the receipt. Ugh - I don't like to stiff waiters! I may try to get to the restaurant this week and drop off $3 for the guy.)
Kitty litter $12.70 (2 20lb jugs on sale) - this should last for a while, although I may get some more before the sale ends. But, do I want to have money tied up in stockpiled kitty litter? It does go on sale fairly regularly.
Dish sponge $1.05

The rest of this week should be low spend. I will be working a lot towards two days of big work events on Thursday and Friday. I have plenty of food on hand that needs to be consumed. I should go to TJ M@xx for a new outfit to wear for at least one of the event days, but am hoping I can pull something appropriate from my closet. I'm not in the mood to shop.

My mom called yesterday to let me know that a mass was found in her breast during a recent mammogram. She is having a biopsy on Tuesday and the results will take a week. I feel so sad and upset. She's 81 and I know that every day is a gift at this point, but I wasn't expecting breast cancer to appear at this late stage of life. I don't know if someone her age can even go through cancer treatments. Losing my mom will be devastating for me. I'm single with no children and she is the person that I'm closest to, even though we only see each other two to three times a year.

Since turning 50 in 2014 and losing a few friends to accidents and diseases this year, I have been grappling with my own aging and mortality, the unpredictability and fragility of life, not to mention having serious regrets about past decision and many roads not taken. I have struggled with depression for my entire life and spent many years quite frozen and just let time pass by without taking action on my own behalf. Now I feel very alone in the world and have no direction or goals, I'm basically just living day to day. And something like my mom's health news has the potential to shut me down again.

I ended up binge watching tv shows and movies on my laptop while eating comfort foods all day and late into the night yesterday, which I haven't done in a long time. I hope I can find the strength to help myself stay focused on reality and maintaining healthy habits and avoid getting lost once again.

Finances are related to all of this because since I don't have specific goals that I'm working towards, I fritter away money rather than use it to make things happen in my life. I've always had a vague notion of retiring early, so I generally "saved" money, but didn't really believe that I could ever pull it off, so didn't create a plan and fully commit.

Signing up for YNAB and really looking at my financial situation has been a step toward figuring out how to decide what's next. For as long as I'm alive, I'm going to continue to grow older and will have to make decisions with that reality in mind. Where do I want to live? What do I want to do with my time? How long will I need to work? How do I live in a way that's satisfying to me now and not only plan for the future? These are all questions that I don't have answers to and I'm not really sure how to think about them and make decisions. And I will most likely be doing all of this thinking and deciding alone.

I fear that I sound whiny so early on a Sunday morning, but these topics have been weighing heavily on my mind and I've been thinking about detailing them in my blog as a way to get thoughts out of my mind and down on "paper" to sort through. My mom's news has spurred me to start writing about it now, rather than wait.

September spending and busy birthday!

October 2nd, 2015 at 04:02 am

Yesterday (September 30th) was my birthday. I am definitely no longer 40-something, so I should probably update my sidebar. I am swamped at work these days, and I expected my Wednesday birthday to be quite uneventful, but it wasn't! Various friends and colleagues stopped by my office with cupcakes, cookies and cards. A young colleague cut out paper letters spelling "Yay Birthday" and taped them on yarn across my door (so sweet!). I got phone calls and texts and lots of FB greetings. My mom sent a card with a $300 check (thanks Mom!). And, a friend and her 7-year-old daughter stopped by after work with a homemade card, a big pumpkin from their garden, and some chili, so with my work cupcakes, we had an impromptu birthday party. I had hosted my knitting group the night before and some wine and bread was left behind, so we added those items to the mix. I met two friends today for lunch, so the celebration continued.

My birthday is always bittersweet because I shared it with my dad who has now been gone for 15 years. Yikes. I also shared the day with an aunt (my dad's sister-in-law) and she passed away last September. Strangely enough they both died of the same disease.

I'm planning some very big work events that will happen on October 8 & 9 and then things should slow down at least a bit. I can't wait until October 10 - it truly can't arrive soon enough. So many details and problems and politics - I am maxed out.

One positive of working so much is that I had another low-spend month. I am still using YNAB and am grateful for the peace of mind that it is providing for me. I'm still in the very beginning stages of learning how to manage my money, but I like knowing what I have and where it's going. My goal is to be more proactive in my spending choices, making decisions that enhance my life rather than unconsciously frittering away money.

Below is my spending for September. I'm so excited that this is my second month of tracking. That is a big deal for me! I hope I can remain focused during future months; I tend to lose interest in things pretty quickly or just plain forget about them!

I had $731.50 left over in September and $614.02 left from August. I took that combined $1345.52 and put it towards my property taxes ($1895.25), which were due today. The remaining $549.73 will come from my October 2 paycheck, which will hit my bank account momentarily. So, because I have an extra pay period in October, I was able to cash flow my property taxes! I was originally going to use a refund check that's been floating around my desk to cover the missing $549.73, but now I will put that check (1072.95) towards my roof repair instead, which desperately needs to be done. Just looked at my bank account and $1015.95 will be deposited tomorrow, so $466.22 will remain after the property tax check clears. Since it's an extra pay check, I'm going to put that money in the roof fund, too. My other two October paychecks will be used for my November budget according to the YNAB philosophy.

September spending

monthly expenses
landline/DSL/wireless 87.97
cell phone 11.57
skype 2.99
electricity 39.80
insurance - car & home 115.77
hair appt 150

everyday expenses
healthy food 79.59
junk food 4.02
gas 66.09
medical 60
entertainment 33
eating out 0.00
toiletries 0.00
trash 2.50
clothing 0.00
laundry 5.75
cat 0.00
lawn care 20
gifts 10
vacation/travel 54.90
misc 60 (purchased YNAB!)

bathroom reno debt 500

TOTAL SPENT $1303.95
September $$ available 2035.45
September $$ left 731.50 (put towards property taxes)

I doubt that future months will be as low spend as August and September were, but we'll see.

In other big news, I found a dime on the street today! Can't help but think of fellow SA bloggers, especially CB, when I find money.

Ugh, another mass shooting followed by the same tired arguments about how guns don't kill, people do. Seems like people with guns kill people, especially a lot at once. Horrifying.