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Archive for May, 2018

Every post is a catchup

May 20th, 2018 at 02:54 pm

That's how it feels this year, anyway!

May is usually super busy at my job and this year is no exception. Last week I probably worked 9 hours of overtime. I was also sick most of the week but I made it through somehow. All my goals fell by the wayside, even my guitar practicing which has been my one steady thing. Even my morning strength exercises which are pretty much habit.

So, feeling flabby and unhealthy, but I got a ton done for my work, which is what needed to happen. And it doesn't go unnoticed or unappreciated when I put in extra effort there, so I don't feel like it's a waste.

Then yesterday we had a yard sale. We put out probably a thousand things (if you count all the kids' clothes) and sold about 60. Almost everything was a dollar, so we made $73 or so. $10 paid for joining the neighborhood sale, $13 went to our neighbors for some of their stuff that sold. Everyone worked so hard, even the kids, that I just divvied up the remaining $50 and gave each person $10 cash.

NT is putting $100 to his mom's Mother's Day gift of a weekend getaway, and that was going to come out of shared spending, but I asked if he could take it from UK money instead. Even if he puts in 100 pounds instead of $100, it felt like a gift, because we have plenty of money in that account that we're just saving up for now. So I felt OK about divvying up the yard sale proceeds.

We boxed up everything that didn't sell and took it to Goodwill that same day. It was a great feeling. Cleared up lots of space in the basement and in our bedroom as well.

After the sale, AS and I went to see my fave band at this neighborhood-wide art festival in Northeast Minneapolis. We got there a little late but met up with some friends and had a great time. One friend is a designer at a brewery, and we went over there afterward and got a tour of it! That was a really great bonding session with this newish friend.

I'd been getting 4-6 hours of sleep every night, so I was determined to get more today. I finally woke at 11:30am and NT was getting the kids ready for swim class! AS took them and I was able to take it easy. AS and I were going to go to a friend's bday event this afternoon. AS went but I decided to stay home and stay in PJs. Consider it my sick day I never took during the week.

My cold is getting better, and the 10 hours of sleep really seemed to help. I practiced guitar for the first time since Thursday and felt like taking a couple days off actually did me good.

Now I'm refereeing (and DJing some upbeat music on my phone) while the kids clean their rooms. I'm fine admitting that I've bribed them with a candy bar each if they finish! Big Grin

Next week is probably going to be crazy at work again, but hopefully I won't also be sick. Hoping I can get back on my goals, including planning for the kitchen reno!

At least our finances are on track. If you counted our EF, reno savings, and travel savings together, we've got almost $40K saved!

Catching up

May 3rd, 2018 at 08:20 pm

Ahh, let's see if I have time for a nice long chinwag so I can try to catch up on all the goings-on in ceejayland. Smile

Life is good, life is busy. We've all been very social and active in the community and busy at work. Not a lot of downtime, but nothing very negative happening, so we're happy.

- AS continues to get more work. She's actively turning down jobs more and more often now, and trying to focus on higher-paid and/or more interesting/satisfying stuff: marketing writing, children's book writing, teaching, speaking and judging, etc. Her co-working space is working out great and with all the complimentary food, toiletries and shower, it practically pays for itself! She had jury duty this past week but messed up and missed her call, so now she's got to do it again in July, unfortunately.

- NT's hat business is going better, though he still runs a deficit on paper, people are buying more and more. It takes him away at night a lot as he sells at shows most of the time. He's got some big shows coming up and hopes to eliminate his deficit by August. Either way he's having fun and enjoying becoming a recognizable figure in the local hip-hop community. He'll be traveling to Chicago for fun and (hopefully) profit, selling at a block party there in July.

- My work is going well; I'm on a high-profile job and doing pretty good. My mentor/boss's boss is (shh) retiring in August; only a couple people know so far. I expect they'll have someone else high-ranking helm some of my projects, but others might come solely under my control. I'll have to wait and see. I'm OK either way really, because I feel like my trajectory is steadily upward. Three people got let go today due to slow business in their accounts, but I feel my job is safe.

- AA and SL are doing great in school. SL is a little bored, academically -- that kid is brilliant! But maturity wise, she's in the right grade, so for the time being, I feel like we shouldn't do much. They do send her to specialists for reading and math sometimes, so I know they're doing what they can to address her advanced intellect. AA is in choir and doing great at that. Both kids do art and swim on the weekends and get invited to lots of other kids' parties -- which is annoying and expensive and time-consuming, but reassuring that they're developing socially.

We're participating in the neighborhood garage sale in a couple weeks; I don't expect we'll make much money, but if we donate what we don't sell, we'll at least have decluttered a ton!

I guess I should look at my goals:
Work on novel -- I don't think I've touched that in over a month. I also don't see a ton of time to do so. But if I found a part of the revision process that seemed clear and I was excited about it, I could probably find time. I just don't seem to have the mental energy to do that.

Learn guitar -- this is my big success story for the year so far! I've been doing guitar lessons for a little under three months and I can already play three simple songs and know 7 chords and a couple of strum patterns. I'm far from good at any of it, but I'm really pleased with my progress. I practice almost every day; I've only missed three or four days total. It's something I look forward to, so I only miss it if I'm out of town or out really late.

Limiting drinking -- I'm doing pretty well on this. My goal was to have 4 days per week where I have 0-1 glasses of wine. Last week was a total fail but other than that, unless I have social engagements during the week, I generally have 2 days of no drinking and 1 day of 1 glass of wine per week. So I'm at 3 days instead of 4, but believe me, it's WAY better than where I was in December or even January (when I did 1 day per week). I try not to be too hard on myself; at least it's progress.

Limit screen time outside of and after work: Meh. On the good side, I've been so busy that I really don't aimlessly surf the web like I used to. I often don't take my laptop out at home (though I increased my phone use a little bit, I don't think my total screen time is as much). I haven't been great about keeping closed out of screens at work as I meant to, but I do think I spend less time on them. So I'm a bit better but don't feel as far along as I am on the less-drinking goal.

Emergency preparedness: no progress in a couple weeks.

Agile learning: no progress.

Net worth/retirement: Retirement funds seem to be recovering but aren't at January levels yet, so I'm no closer to my goals.

Kids' savings: I save a bit each week for both kids, but I haven't done an infusion of cash as would be necessary to catch up to my goals for them.

Kitchen reno: Since we took out some savings to cover other expenses, we're actually a bit below where we were in January on this too. But we had our designer and contractor come over last night to help us think through our options. We're going to do some more talking and sketching things out and then move into the design phase. We don't know how much it'll cost to get CAD designs from our designer, but we need to do it, because our options are all very complicated. Once we have her designs we can go to our contractor and get some cost estimates. Then we can decide if we pull the trigger now or wait until we have more money saved up. If we're close to having enough, we may pull the trigger because it's usually half up front, half later, and we could pull from EF funds or even our unused line of credit if we hadn't quite saved up the second half by the time work was done. We do really want it done. But I don't want things to get difficult financially again, so I want to be careful if we do any of those things.

Vacations: We've booked airfare for the June/July and August trips to see family. We're planning on getting rides, borrowing cars, sleeping on people's floors, and generally doing these two trips fairly cheaply. We might do at least one hotel night for each to preserve our sanity though, as staying with family can be very chaotic without much privacy or down time.

I was almost ready to book my solo trip to see my favorite band 4 times in 4 nights in the south! And meet up with my Canadian friend who's also a super fan! But then realized the band wasn't headlining 3 of the 4 shows. So that trip is off and I'm hoping they'll book a similar swath of shows somewhere I wouldn't mind visiting. I do have one small trip I can do to see them in Iowa in August, but it would just be overnight and I might just do it with my own spending money. I'm hoping my solo trip if I have one will be a bit more elaborate and exciting than that.

NT has a solo trip planned for Chicago, as I mentioned, and he may do another one for a weekend to Seattle to see a friend. His outlay for his hat business has been such that I've told him if he doesn't make back some of the capital expenditures, he may need to forfeit the Seattle trip to offset those.

AS was thinking about an LA trip to see a friend. But she mentioned that she wasn't as hot on traveling this year, and was frustrated that she wouldn't be able to fix up other parts of the house until the kitchen was done. So I said if she wanted to forgo a trip, she could have some money from the travel budget to do some small home improvements. She was much more interested in that than traveling, so I guess that's what she'll do.

I've been doing well on some of my unofficial goals, such as broadening my social life. I had my old work friend and his wife over for dinner in April; I message my Canadian buddy daily; I've met up a few more times with another woman I met at a show; I continue to organize events for my alumni association; I've been making more of an attempt to hang out with some of my acquaintances more often. I'm about to text my old work friend and a current co-worker to set up a happy hour. So, pretty good!

I've got a couple other things I'm trying to do, like review an old high school friend's manuscript, participate in a committee to get our neighborhood name changed, attend a remembrance for a local man killed 5 years ago by police...

And I've been seeing more live music lately. This Saturday I get to see my favorite band, the next night an old-time country gospel band, in a couple weeks a country singer from Saskatchewan...

So overall things are great! The one slight worry on my mind is I got an irregular result on my annual mammogram, so I have a follow-up appointment next Friday. I've had this happen twice before and it's always been nothing, so I'm trying not to let it worry me. If this one turns out OK, I'm going to see how much more it would cost to get 3D imaging for my next annual. It's not covered by my health insurance, but if it saves this expensive follow-up trip (and saves me worrying), it might be worth it.

May 2018 debt payments

May 1st, 2018 at 10:22 pm

I realize I've been really absent from the blogs this month! Lots going on as seems to be the norm these days, but all good stuff.

I'll update on my goals progress and other life happenings at some point, but I at least wanted to do my usual routine and note the debt payments made:

US mortgage: $720 to principal
UK1: $181
UK2: $39
UK3: $42

All told that's $982 toward debt. Here are our current debt totals:

US Mortgage $388,270
Loan from friends (duplex) $9,000
UK Mortgage 1 $32,669
UK Mortgage 2 $6,886
UK Mortgage 3 $7,251
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TOTAL DEBT $444,076