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Archive for February, 2017

Spending, taxes, etc.

February 21st, 2017 at 05:43 pm

We've been spending, spending, spending recently!

- NT had his solo roadtrip, and the carshare cost twice as much as we'd estimated! I forgot they charge for mileage after the first 100 miles per day. Whoops. He also had other expenses on the trip.
- We bought Valentine gifts and treats for the kids and had a dinner date. At least that was cheap; less than $70 for three appetizers, three entrees and six drinks!
- I booked my airfare to NYC for March and bought tickets to the show I'm going to.
- NT booked airfare for his solo trip to England for his sister's wedding in September.
- We had a number of other shows besides my March one that we wanted to go to: two plays and a movie, one already past, one tomorrow, and one coming up in March. So I bought all those tickets.
- I signed the kids up for another round of swim classes and AA up for an art class.
- I set aside $$ for AA's party, which will be mani/pedis with 4 friends, plus lunch afterward. I'm trying not to stress that we haven't gotten any RSVPs! AS got one of the parents on the phone tonight and we'll send notes for the other three. I'd like the chance to invite some of AA's other friends if any of these can't come.
- We bought a karaoke stand for SL's bday party.
- I set aside $$ for AS's dreadlock maintenance appointment.

What with AS's freelance checks being a bit sluggish, we were about $1500 in the hole after all of this spending! Then today we got the news from my tax guy that we're actually going to net about $3K in refunds this year. What luck! I put half toward the renovations budget and used the other half to make up the spending money shortfall. Now when AS gets some more checks, we can use them to set aside funds for my NYC trip, for grownups to order food for our birthdays, and to set aside to pay the remainder of the cabin and car rental for our April trip.

February through the first part of April are looking extremely busy! Travel for work, potluck, movie, plays, my solo trip, our cabin trip, and of course Birthday Month (all five of our birthdays are in March). Luckily none of us adults have a milestone this year, so we're having low-key birthdays. The kids are having more elaborate birthdays than us this year!

This week alone, we have: movie date tomorrow night (our downstairs neighbors feeding and watching the kids), me leaving for a quick business trip Thursday morning (coming back Friday morning), an alumni event I'm cohosting Saturday, swim classes for the kids Saturday and Sunday, the neighborhood "chili fest" on Sunday lunchtime, a potluck at our downstairs neighbors Sunday at dinner time. Oh and tonight I have to write notes to the kids' parents who we want to come to AA's party next week, and I need to write some thank-you emails to donors for my alumni association.

Holy moly! I'd better get to work. Big Grin

Progress (or lack thereof) on goals

February 21st, 2017 at 05:24 pm

Whew, it's been a long time since I posted!

Luckily I keep our menu plan in a Google spreadsheet, so I can look at revision history and see what new recipes we tried. Smile

NT found a vegan crab cake prepared food, so we tried that. I made a new kind of purple coleslaw and a new (very standard) rice pilaf to go with it. We really liked all of it. I'd get the crab cakes again and definitely make the rice pilaf. It's just from the Campbell's website, but nice comfort food.

Another night we did "pizza style" grilled cheese sandwiches. (No recipe, just something that occurred to me to try.) We used pizza cheese, and for the grownups added sauteed peppers and onions, vegan pepperoni slices, and marinara sauce on the side for dipping. It was pretty good but not transcendent or anything.

That's 15 new meals tried, 35 to go!

No progress on the financial goals, and no progress from my neighbor on the agreement for selling the lower unit of our duplex. No decluttering progress. No movement on refinancing the US place or selling the UK one (that similar UK place is still on the market, now for almost a year).

No progress on self-publishing. I asked AS to read one of my two novels and give me some recommendations, but I don't know if she's actually going to do it. She started getting irritated with me asking, so now I just have to wait. I've decided if she doesn't look at it by end of March (birthday month), I'll just do the best I can to edit it without her input. We have a week at a cabin with no screen time, so if I bring a printout, I can work on it there.

Renovations: the bathroom is almost done! Unfortunately, the other bathroom's tub/shower has sprung a bad leak. It was a small leak for a while and I hoped we could ignore it until the other one was done, and then figure out how to close off the water until we get around to renovating that one completely, but it's gotten really bad. The plumber who's working on the renovation will hopefully come tomorrow and we can hopefully ask him if he has a recommendation for the cheapest, fastest solution. The other bathroom really is almost done, so we could turn off this one very soon. I'd hate to spend a ton to fix it knowing it will be completely renovated down the road, but I'm also concerned this leak will turn into a flood soon. (It's already a very bad leak, and it's hot water coming out as well.)

Progress on goal (new recipes)

February 7th, 2017 at 12:47 pm

We tried two new meals in the past few days! On Sunday, we had biscuits & gravy. It was pretty good (AS made her usual vegan biscuits which are always great) but I wonder if I could make a better gravy. I used veggie sausage patties and crumbled and browned them before adding to the gravy. That part was good. I used soymilk that I typically use for savory recipes, but I felt like it brought a sweetness to the gravy that spoiled the effect a bit. Maybe a different milk or just add some savory elements to overpower the slight sweet taste.

Then Monday we had ham, beans, greens and cornbread. The ham and beans were both new recipes: I made a vegan ham from scratch and a modified version of FrugalTexan's beans. (I don't have an instapot so I took an online recipe for stovetop beans but used FT's suggested seasonings.) The beans were an awesome side dish (maybe I'd put a bit more paprika next time), but the ham was a fail. The flavor was good but the texture didn't work. I sliced it and pan-fried the slices, and that made it OK, but still my least favorite "wheat meat" I've made in a long time. I may look around for another vegan ham recipe since we liked the concept of it!

13 new meals tried, 37 to go!

Progress on goals

February 2nd, 2017 at 10:34 am

I've again decided that a refi of the U.S. mortgage is off the table at this point. If rates go down, values go up or we're able to pay down a big chunk of principal, I'll reconsider, but for now the matter is closed.

Total debt is down to about $458K. We should meet the goal of less than $450K of debt in about nine months, unless something else happens to add to debt (selling the UK property and buying a U.S. one with a bigger mortgage, for instance, or refinancing the U.S. mortgage and rolling in closing costs). It's an unpredictable year so I'm not sure about that particular goal.

We tried another new meal on Monday: taco crescent ring using Pillsbury crescent dough and vegan "ground beef" substitute. I thought it was great! NT thought it was OK. The kids actually cleaned their plates, which hardly ever happens with new foods, so for that reason alone I'd make it again. 11 new recipes tried, 39 to go.

February 2017 debt payments

February 2nd, 2017 at 10:29 am

All our mortgage payments hit:

US: $689
UK1: $180
UK2: $39
UK3: $40

In total, $948 went toward principal.

Seeing my U.S. mortgage payment go through was another small weight off my mind about switching banks. I'm watching even more closely than usual to make sure I don't miss any payments or anything.

Credit score :(

February 1st, 2017 at 09:40 am

Well, Capital One wrote us a letter telling us that they went ahead and reported NT's late payment, so our phone call was useless.

Today the mortgage guy let me know that NT's credit score is currently in the 600s because of showing as being over 30 days past due on that account.

So he's going to try and qualify just AS and me for a refi. NT will still be put on the loan (if we do the refi) but will not be included on the qualifying info.