I've been very off my blogging game. I didn't even do my debt payment and net worth update posts at the beginning of November as I'd normally do! At some point I came on to try and write but that was when the big outage was happening, and I never came back afterward. I've been popping in to at least skim everyone else's entries every week or two, but that's about it.
So what's happened? My brain is all over the place this year, as are most people's I think, and time passes really strangely. Last time I did a real check-in, it was back in early September, shortly after NT had been laid off. So let's see if I can remember the high and low points of my life since then...
- Oh first I should say I self-published my second book! Maybe I'll do a separate post about it at some point. If you're interested, it's called "Devil's Sanctum" and my pen name is T.A. Berkeley. I will warn you my books are pretty racy, so they're not for everyone. :-)
- NT is still unemployed, but we still have his severance funding the budget, so we've been operating fairly normally. He'll also qualify for unemployment starting next month, I believe, so that'll help. He's applied for a few jobs and interviewed for one; he should hear in December whether he's moving on to the next round on that one. He has enough severance to get us through the first week of January. He's been doing a TON around the house, taking on most of the kid care and housekeeping, plus a little freelance work for our downstairs neighbor and for AS's business; she's not officially paying him but his assistance has enabled her to take on more work. I've been helping her as well. She's on track to be the biggest breadearner this year! There is some chance NT could patch together enough income between her, our neighbors and a bit of other stuff to not go back to full-time work, so we're exploring that among our options as we look to next year.
- AS has applied for a few jobs that seem interesting and lucrative enough for her to consider re-entering full time employment! She's also applied for a fellowship that would award $100K to use however she chose to increase her leadership skills and advance her goals. She made it through the first round and will hear about second round results in January.
- My company is doing marginally better. They laid off enough people that we're down to a pretty small staff. They're closing the physical office so we'll be 100% remote even when the lockdown is over. They reversed the temporary paycut, though I'm not sure they reinstated 401(k) matching. I had a chat with one of my former colleagues who's at another agency; he was very interested in bringing me on board. But he doesn't make the hiring decisions and the person who is never got in touch, so I'm not sure if they decided against it or haven't opened up the position at all. I'm happy enough at my job for the time being, so I'm not looking actively.
- The kids are 100% distance learning. We send them to the YMCA three days a week; they take their computers and do school from there. So at least they're around other kids, even if it's not their classmates. They do Monday and Friday at home. They're holding up pretty well, even though they'd rather have in-person school. The teachers are doing an awesome job considering the challenges. The school provides a ton of free food which we pick up on Mondays; we give the meat stuff to friends.
- The kitchen reno is still out there as a possibility, though it's really up to our contractor to make a schedule and let us know the final price tag. He's checked in a couple times and brought an electrician to look at our wonky wiring. We have about $50K saved up and will borrow as much as it takes to get the kitchen the way we want it. We've lived with this terrible kitchen so long, when we redo it, we'll redo it right. I hope it comes in around $70-80K but would probably go up to $100K if that's what it takes. (It'll include mini ductless AC for both floors of our part of the duplex.) This will be our only really big renovation; all the other stuff we want to do on the house will be smaller chunks.
- I've been trying to stay healthy and creative, but time and my headspace are so weird these days, so I've been using some apps to track my habits. It's worked fairly well; I don't think I've gained much weight, if any, and I've gotten a lot of creative stuff done. And kept my drinking fairly under control; that was something I wanted to get a handle on when lockdown started. I just wrote another book for NaNoWriMo, and I have one manuscript out to a couple friends for beta reading. I've also written another song and kept up on my guitar lessons.
- We haven't lost anyone to COVID or caught it ourselves yet, but of course MN is one of the worst states right now. Other than the kids being at the Y three days a week, where they wear masks all day, we have very limited physical contact with people outside the family. Just trying to hang in there and stay safe until a vaccine is available.
- We've more or less kept to our budget this year despite all the weirdness, though we haven't saved anything outside of retirement and whatever goes into the UK account from the rental. And of course NT doesn't have his 401(k) so we're putting less toward retirement. But looking forward, I want to make more of a concerted effort to put money aside. If NT does end up staying freelance/part-time, then we're going to have to treat that variable money as part of our regular budget, which means we'll need to be a lot more intentional about our priorities for funding various budget line items. More on that later; I'm coming up with a new kind of annual budget that will help us be flexible since we have so many income unknowns right now!