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It's been a while!

July 19th, 2015 at 10:24 pm

I've missed blogging regularly, but I've been having a really fun, super spendy summer and just haven't made the time. I wish I could remember everything that's happened this month but I'll probably leave some things out. Plus it's kinda late so it would take me too long. So here's how my month's been in a nutshell:

- We've donated most of the $8,000 I earmarked for charity. I think I have $250 left. I'll probably give it to my alma mater. I just agreed to be on the alumni board of directors, so it would be a nice gesture.

- I moved the money earmarked for taxes into savings ($15,200). At least it'll earn a bit of interest sitting there instead of going straight to Uncle Sam!

- Our $8,000 first renovation is going well, a bit behind schedule but we're really happy with our contractor, his consistent communication and the work he and his guys are doing. We hope it'll be done by next week.

- We spent about another $6,000, mostly from the WV money, on furnishings for the living room. We got a large (9'x12') area rug, a large (50-some inch?) flatscreen TV and some hardware to mount it to the wall, a 93-inch sofa with matching chaise lounge and ottoman, and an armchair. The sofa/lounge/ottoman won't come until early October because we picked a fabric we really wanted (dark gray microfiber). The rug and TV are here but still packaged up and sitting in other rooms, waiting for the reno to be done. The armchair will arrive Tuesday.

- We still have about $4,000 of the WV money. We're not sure what to do with it because we got notice from the city that we do need to deal with the possibly non-code basement bathroom. We're going to have our contractor assess the situation after he finishes the living room. So we may have to use the money for that. If not, we may save it for our next planned reno, the main-floor bathroom. Or maybe we'll use some of it for living room accessories, and to spruce up the dining room (paint job and new light fixture). But I'm sort of assuming it'll have to get used for the basement issue.

- I sent an initial email to my lawyer about consulting on the possible transfer of part ownership of the duplex to our neighbors. He nicely responded that he has worked real estate law in the past but his current focus is surrogacy and family planning, but he'd be happy to consult or recommend a lawyer with a real estate focus. I'm still waiting for my neighbor to write up what he's thinking so I can send it my lawyer and see if he thinks it's something he could advise on. My friend's idea is an unconventional one, so we might need to ask for someone with more expertise in this field. The deal itself sounds OK to my inexperienced self, but I have questions about tax and insurance planning (and I'm sure there are concerns I'm not even thinking of). My friends say if we do this they'll probably leave their share of the home to my kids, so estate planning may not be much of a concern. We'll see. They're in no hurry, so I'm taking my time on this. I have $1500 set aside for consultations and also to possibly submit a plan to the county to turn our garage into an accessory dwelling unit (tiny home).

- AS is close to hitting a gross of $50K in her freelance position! Though $6K of that is the teaching gig that begins in late August and runs through January, and it will affect her ability to take other projects, so it seems she's nearing her annual salary. We'll see how it goes, but I imagine this teaching gig will be a lot of work. (She's freaking out about it, but I know she'll feel better once she's actually into it. It's the unknown that's so scary!)

- I was able to do our August budget surplus retirement contribution: about $2200. AS is only about $150 away from having her Roth maxed out. I'll work on mine next. I should be able to put even more toward retirement in September! I hope I can put it in early like I have for the past two months. Basically, anything left over from my and NT's paychecks after we cover our budgeted items goes into retirement for now. In September our daycare costs go down a bit as AA goes into kindergarten. Eek! She'll still do after-school at the daycare, but that's cheaper.

- We've been having fun with AS's paychecks. Everything after setting aside tax and retirement is up for grabs. We've been spending, spending, spending, ever so frivolously. Food, wine, car shares, clothes, you name it. (I'm still tracking every penny, of course, to make sure we don't spend more than we have.) It's been so so fun, after a year of extreme self-control and nearly a decade of being very moderate. But, I'm starting to eye our priorities, namely more home renovations and the trip to England and Spain next year. I proposed we put half of AS's net pay aside for those goals, and AS and NT agreed. We'll still have plenty to play with, though maybe not as madly as we have been this past month.

- We finally got rental income on the UK flat again, hooray! We'll be able to cover the August mortgage payments without transferring money and can pay NT's mum back the first bit of money (just 250 pounds this time, but the first payment will be an important reassurance that we're serious about paying her back, I think). Very happy that situation is beginning to sort itself out!

Financials aside, our summer has been going really well.

- We've been enjoying our back yard and the nearby neighborhood parks, the girls have been taking swim and dance classes and having a great time/learning a lot at both.

- We still eat together with our downstairs neighbors about twice a week. We've been doing it downstairs, since our dining room table is in NT's record room (our living room furniture is in the dining room), and our big front porch is only accessible if you walk through the construction zone.

- Our first cat Noodles still hasn't come home, so we're assuming he's not coming back (though we'd love it if he pulled one of those miracle journeys and returned to us). We decided we'd try fostering a cat and see how that goes. We're open to an FIV+ cat, since our cat Clue has the disease and that way we wouldn't have to worry about transmittal. We may get our first foster the last day of July.

- We're heading to my family reunion in Ohio this Friday, taking Friday and Monday off work, renting a minivan. It's a 12-hour drive, so we're doing 6 hours a day, approximately, staying in a different hotel each night. We'll get to the town where the reunion is (well, close by, since that town doesn't have a hotel) Saturday night; the reunion is Sunday afternoon; we head back Sunday evening and finish up the driving on Monday.

- Work is going really well for all of us. Well, NT is too busy again, and his days start super-early; that may not be a permanent job solution if they don't fix it, but it's good pay and not as bad as it was for a while. My job is great: I have a few high-profile projects that I seem to be nailing for the most part. All for two Fortune 500 clients of ours. I was worried for a while that I wasn't busy enough, but I'm not anymore! We have summer hours as long as you work 40 before you leave on Friday, so I've been trying to write for an hour at home after the kids go to bed. So far I've only worked enough extra hours to leave at 3pm on Fridays, but even that is nice! Maybe some week I'll manage to work enough to get out at 1pm. AS, as I mentioned, is doing great at her freelance work. Other than stressing about the teaching gig, I'd say it's the happiest she's ever been with her job.

- We had a family heart-to-heart last week about figuring out a way to make dinners less stressful (trying to get the kids to eat), come to a peaceful place about housekeeping/chores, and just generally be less critical/shouty with the kids and one another. (Not that it was horrible, but I'm pretty sensitive to any conflict in the home.) We've had to course-correct our parenting before, but I feel like this was a big breakthrough. Things have been calmer, the kids are getting plenty to eat even if they don't always finish everything, and I'm just enjoying my home life more. I'm sure we'll slip into bad habits from time to time, but I'm proud of all of us for putting in the work discussing our flaws and then figuring out ways to alleviate them.

- I finally wrote another blog post on my other blog, ordinarysavers.com! It took me about 6 months since my last post. I'm hoping to get back in the habit now, because a few of my friends have told me they really appreciate reading it and wish I'd update it.

I'm not sure if that's all my news, but that's plenty! Whew! It's after midnight and I need to start settling down for the night.

10 Responses to “It's been a while!”

  1. snafu Says:

    Thanks for the update. WoW what a hectic summer! Will work on your home be completed by the time you leave for Ohio? Hope you'll share photos of Lv Rm when the new furniture is placed and TV installed.

  2. AnotherReader Says:

    Isn't it nice to spend money you actually have, instead of spending and stressing about paying the money back?

  3. scottish girl Says:

    SG starts nursery next month. Eek!
    What part of England will you go to? Are you going to England first, then Spain?

  4. creditcardfree Says:

    I'm glad you are enjoying your summer and the available money!

  5. ceejay74 Says:

    Thanks everyone! Snafu, I took before pics so I could share before and after! Smile Hoping it'll be done before we leave, because we told a friend she could stay over (she's watching the dogs downstairs and the cat upstairs, but not sure which place she'll sleep in. Would be much nicer if the living room was free.

    AnotherReader, YES! Smile
    scottishgirl, we're planning on a week in Exeter, leaving the kids there with grandparents and flying to Barcelona for 4 or 5 days. Usually we spend our second week in Oxford, but we'll try to coax some Oxford friends into meeting us in Barcelona instead.

  6. monkeymama Says:

    Personally, I am stuck on the kindergarten thing. Kindergarten already? No way! Big Grin

  7. ceejay74 Says:

    I know. I know! What on earth happened to make AA school-aged already??

  8. bluesfemme Says:

    Ceejay - it's so delightful to read this. You can feel the busy but calm in control vibe arising from the page.
    Visited Barcelona in '11, and you might want to consider the hop-on hop-off buses - Barcs is pretty spread out and it gave us a chance to appreciate Gaudi (Guell) and Olympic parks (do you recall the diving at the 92 Olympics?) Have fun planning :-)

  9. frugaltexan75 Says:

    I can bet it has been fun to be able to loosen the purse strings a bit after so long. Smile Great to hear your updates!

  10. snafu Says:

    Off topic but wanted to give Kudos for really terrific League newsletter! I've a different take on the process likely because I live in a Condo complex whose residents are near 90% retirees. They really like this lifestyle as it allows them to lock the door, hand keys to a neighbour and leave for winter or family events or reluctant boomerang hosts. One of the ladies admits to being 90 y/o, managing well in a 4 story [stairs & stairs] townhouse style home.

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