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Roof Shopping

February 9th, 2022 at 02:04 pm

Our roof is nearly twenty years old and it’s time to replace it. Fortunately, we haven’t had any mishaps other than a few shingles blowing off over the years during tornados & storms. This is an expensive but necessary upgrade that I want to fund while I’m working.

 

I’ve just gotten four estimates that I’m now comparing. It’s tough to compare apples-to-apples since the four quotes include three different brands of shingles, different payment rules, and different workmanship warranties. I’ve been researching shingles online to attempt an informed decision. Does anyone else do this?

 

I have it narrowed down to two. Both are local companies. One uses a basic shingle that’s commonly used and has a 10-year workmanship warranty. From my internet search, it seems like the company has just a few employees because the reviews mention them by name. The other company uses better quality shingles and has a 12-year workmanship warranty. They have many rave reviews (Yelp, etc.) that are recent. The difference between the prices is almost $4k. ($11k vs $15k) So I need to determine how much that quality is worth to me. Hmmm.

 

The two estimates that I am not pursuing: One had only a 1-year workmanship warranty and the shingle brand was the lowest rated. The other used the same shingles as the lowest price but was priced $3k higher.

Financial Happenings & 2022 Goals

February 6th, 2022 at 04:12 pm

We’ve had two home improvements projects happen in the same month after waiting months for both. The first one is a sliding barn door that allows our living room to be a makeshift bedroom. The couch in there is a sleeper sofa and there’s an armoire but before we didn’t have a good way to add privacy. I finally found a person with the availability and skills to do it and I love the door. The second project is the long-awaited cat fence. I signed that contract in May and supply issues related to the pigment required to produce the color I wanted caused the delay. It’s done now and I’m eager to have warm weather to see how it works when the cats really want to be outside.

 

I’ve just started our taxes. It’s going to be ugly and I expected it because I sold stock that vested last year. Once again our income level bumped us out of the Opportunity Credit and for the first time bumped us out of Roth contributions. I had been making the Roth contributions so I backed them out – ugh – to prevent penalties but then I had to pay taxes on their earnings. It’s all messy but I sure don’t want to complain about it – the stock proceeds allowed me to pay house debt and I hope to report that major milestone in about a month.

 

My goals for 2022:

(1) House projects - replace the roof (shingles), downstairs ceilings painted, design kitchen reno & get quotes

(2) Personalfinish the two scrapbooks for the twins by their graduation

(3) Healthget lean by implementing routines for fasting, resistance training, and yoga

(4) Financialpay off house, get EF to 7 months’ expenses

(5) KidsDS1: help w/ rescue cat, DS2: get to know GF, DS3: help set up investments, DS4: open Roth & transfer brokerage from minor account, DS5: support job search for semi-gap year

[so weird that some words couldn't be bolded...]

 

My goals have retirement preparation in mind. 17 months and counting.

 

New Year, More Focus

January 15th, 2022 at 05:15 pm

I’ve slipped out of the habit of blogging and financial things are still happening.

 

My paychecks are back to the normal lower level since social security and 401k contributions are again being deducted. The company for the first time in decades (and maybe ever) increased its matching contributions from 50% up to 5% of total compensation to 50% up to 6% of total compensation. I still think that’s lower than the benefits offered by some of our major competitors but I was pleasantly surprised.

 

I’m targeting to retire in 18 months and I have a ‘This is the home stretch!’ feeling. I want to get some home projects done that could become pricey and I want to begin transitioning the way I spend my free time. When I finalize annual goals, I’ll focus on those aspects.

 

Happy new year!

Vehicle Insurance Admin

November 29th, 2021 at 01:35 am

DS5 is now a licensed driver. I spent about $350 on six hours of driving lessons several months ago and it was worth it to me. With DS1 & DS2 I wasn’t so afraid to ride in the passenger seat with a driver-in-training but I am now. Relatives helped on getting driving time for him too when we visited them last month. I’m glad that we’ve got the last one over the line.

 

I don’t know how much the insurance will go up from adding a third teenaged boy to the policy. Yikes! I’m expecting an invoice soon.

 

I had an annoyance with the car insurance & our state’s DOT but fortunately it didn’t cost me money – just inconvenience. While we don’t buy cars for the boys, I am willing to have them in my name and to insure them while the boys are in school if they choose to buy a car. [And their driving record is clean.] As a result, I have four cars in my name though I drive just one of them.

 

DS4 decided to sell his car and buy a different one so for a short while I had five cars insured. I didn’t realize it until later when I noticed different policy numbers, but apparently only 4 cars can be on one policy so the insurance company had the fifth car on a separate policy. Then when DS4 sold the car, the newest one was moved to the original policy so all the vehicles were together again. That’s when I received a notice from the DOT that they had been informed that my policy was cancelled. I know from the experience of one of my boys that if the DOT doesn’t receive proof of insurance by the deadline, they assume that you had a lapse in coverage and they fine you $500. You can appeal it by going to court and showing proof of insurance but the appeal is $150 for court costs. Sooo, I sent my proof of insurance to the DOT by registered mail so I’d get confirmation of its receipt. I may complain to the insurance company. Why would they contact the DOT when they just changed the policy? I don’t know if it was a mistake or if they’re required to do it.

 

I’m enjoying the last few weeks of our CSA season. My brother and his wife gifted me a couple of boxes from Farmbox Direct for my birthday so right now we’re getting fresh organic vegetables AND fruits! Heaven.

New Fireplace

November 23rd, 2021 at 04:23 pm

Our gas (with fake logs) fireplace gave out last year. We were able to hire a handyman to do some tweaking to limp it along last winter while I planned to replace it this year. Replacing it became a bigger and bigger deal. No place could just replace the ‘guts’ of it. Even the mantel couldn’t stay because it would break when the fireplace was pulled out. The fireplace came with the house so it was almost 20 years old.

 

That meant that an upgrade that I originally thought would be a couple thousand dollars was about ten thousand dollars. And the two places that sold & installed them were booked out for months. I think it was in July when I signed the contract and the installation was finally completed yesterday. The good news is that we have it in time for cold weather and it is far (far!) superior to our older one. This one is heating the house! It has a remote control that allows us to control the flame (5 settings), the lighting, the ‘embers’ (cosmetic only), and the fan. With the fan, it blows the warm air out into our family room which is open to the kitchen. I’m in love with it.

 

I set aside the money for it in the online Ally savings account so it would earn interest while we waited. I paid with a credit card and will move the money into checking when the CC is due next month. I’m doing the same thing with the money set aside for the fence – contract signed in May and it looks like it’ll be 2022 before it is installed because of material supply chain issues. Another post…  A picture of the new fancy fireplace:

Free Non-Weis Turkey

November 15th, 2021 at 05:24 pm

Well, it turns out that it wasn’t Weis where I earned the free turkey certificate. It was Giant. And I discovered this because I tried to redeem it at Weis! Yikes, embarrassing. But I did get the turkey and it was indeed free. A 20-pounder. Since the boys selected other meats for Thanksgiving Day (The choice is our tradition.), we’ll be cooking the big bird in the next few days. DH is the meat cooker so this is all him.

Christmas gifts: check

November 12th, 2021 at 02:40 pm

I have completed my Christmas shopping – even stocking stuffers. Never in my life have I accomplished this before Thanksgiving. The news of supply chain issues and potential shortages gave me a sense of urgency I guess. But it feels good to be able to enjoy the time now.

 

We will still have expenses for a tree and our traditional Christmas Day seafood gumbo ingredients. Maybe we’ll get a couple of gingerbread house kits this year too. The boys used to decorate them and then we would gift the best-looking ones to select neighbors.

2021 Q4 Quarterly Status of Retirement Prerequisites

November 10th, 2021 at 03:36 pm

As mentioned in a previous post (2020) I have a deadline set for the start of my retirement. And I have a list of prerequisites to determine whether I’m in a safe-enough-for-me position to retire sooner. Each quarter I evaluate my progress against those prerequisites, and my quarterly check-in for this is aligned with my birthday instead of the standard calendar quarter. That’s because a couple of my prerequisites are based on my 60th birthday so the calculation is simpler.

 Result for this check-in: I’m slowly getting closer! I’m now planning to pull the trigger in 2023 ahead of my original target of 2025.

 

 In order to pull the plug immediately, I’d have to have these things accomplished:

 

++ Retirement account on target for 7 figures by 60th birthday

++ College savings on target for full funding

++ Mortgage paid off

++ Savings of basic expenses until 60th birthday set aside

++ No consumer debt

 

 Currently my progress is:

 

++ 100+%

++ 57.5%

++ 76.5%

++ 14.7%

++ 100%

 Assumptions for these calculations: average annual return on investments will be 5%, no further contributions to investments, full funding = 40 semesters (8 x 5 boys), $36,000k annually for basic expenses, starting consumer debt was $10k.

 

 College for the twins may be cheaper because they both are planning to start at the local community college but I’m keeping assumptions the same so I’m comparing apples to apples each quarter.

 

Trip South

November 9th, 2021 at 06:51 pm

We traveled south last month to celebrate my Dad’s milestone birthday with him. It was special because a year ago we hoped and prayed but didn’t expect that he’d live to see this one. My brothers and I hosted a surprise party at a nice restaurant and it was indeed a surprise. Everything turned out perfectly. My share was about $450. Worth. Every. Penny.

The boys still attended school each weekday morning while we were gone since they’re in cyber school. I had the other half of my amalgam fillings replaced while we were there with the dentist who did the first half. I bought an annual subscription with that dentist to keep the price lower for my dental work. I may need to cancel it within the next few months so it doesn’t auto-renew. I don’t remember if that was a default in their contract. No sense in having a dentist more than a thousand miles away!

 

I’m so glad we traveled before American Airlines started cancelling flights. That would have been awful. I’m happy to say that our travel was uneventful.

 

Crypto

November 8th, 2021 at 02:55 pm

I know it’s my age/generation but whenever I hear anything about cryptocurrency, it seems like fake money to me. I don’t get it. And I do realize that our paper money is no longer backed by precious metals so in effect its value is debatable too. I admit that I’m an old fogie in this area.

So recently DS2 installed something on DS5’s computer that earns cryptocurrency. The best I can understand after asking for an explanation is that DS5’s graphics card is being rented out for processing power when he isn’t using it. He’s making the equivalent of $2/day by having his computer run this. That piqued my interest. DS2 has his computer set up with multiple graphics cards connected to a single motherboard and he’s making a few hundred dollars a month while he’s at his real mechanical engineering job. That’s wild to me. He occasionally converts the crypto to dollars and transfers them to his bank account. Apparently the only gotcha is that you have to have a quality graphics card and they’re hard to come by now because lots of people are doing this. I assume that all that processing uses some electricity too.

 

 I just find it interesting that young adults have discovered an automated income stream. Kids today!

 

Life of leisure

 

Open Enrollment for 2022

November 7th, 2021 at 12:02 am

We’re in the open enrollment period for benefits at work. I was happy to see that my share of the health insurance premiums will not increase in 2022. Both the 401k maximum contribution and the HSA maximum contribution will increase by $1000 so that’ll be about $170/month in additional deductions. I get paid twice each month so it won’t be too noticeable.

DS1 is no longer on my insurance since he turned 26 in 2021. It was a little sad seeing “coverage terminated” by his name but of course it’s a good thing – he’s completely on his own. DS2 is on his own as well but still on the insurance to save money. It doesn’t cost me any more to keep him on and his employer would require that he pay a premium for their insurance. He’ll be able to do that for a couple more years.

In other financial news, DS4 & DS5 turned 18 recently so I no longer pay allowance – to anyone. Woohoo! That’s like a raise. With my progressive rate allowance system, they were each costing me $34/week.

 

House Debt Progress

October 8th, 2021 at 03:31 pm

A minor milestone - the house debt is now below $40k.

 

If I stick to my plan it’ll be paid off in June 2023. I’m seriously considering selling some company stock in 2022 to just be done with it. It’s a focus for me because it’s our only debt. The credit card debt is there but it’s paid in full when it’s due.

Expanding Fur Family

September 6th, 2021 at 04:17 pm

A recent post in an online neighborhood app touched me and as a result we have three more felines. Making a total of five plus a dog. It’s not a frugal move!

 

The woman who needed to rehome them is terminally ill and nearing the end. She doesn’t have a husband, children, or siblings. It’s very sad for her – having to let go of her pets but knowing that it needs to be done. It’s traumatic for the cats too – I’m being very patient with them as they get accustomed to their new home. So far they are living in the master suite only.

 

DH says that I’m now an official crazy cat lady. I’m okay with that.

 

Quarterly Status of Retirement Prerequisites

August 7th, 2021 at 12:43 am

I mentioned in a previous post (2020) that I have a deadline set for the start of my retirement. And that I have a list of prerequisites to determine whether I’m in a safe-enough-for-me position to retire sooner. Each quarter I evaluate my progress against those prerequisites, and my quarterly check-in for this is aligned with my birthday instead of the standard calendar quarter. That’s because a couple of my prerequisites are based on my 60th birthday so the calculation is simpler.

Result for this check-in: I’m getting closer! I’m hoping to pull the trigger in a couple of years.

 

Currently my progress is:

Retirement account on target for 7 figures on 60th birthday: 100+%

College savings on target for full funding: 55%

Mortgage paid off: 73%

Savings of basic expenses until 60th birthday set aside: 14.4%

No consumer debt: 100%

 

Assumptions for these calculations: average annual return on investments will be 5%, no further contributions to investments, full funding = 40 semesters (8 x 5 boys), $36,000k annually for basic expenses, starting consumer debt was $10k.

 

The next time I check-in on this progress will be around my birthday.

 

Wow - I really struggled to get the formatting for this post to include all the content and not look wonky...

Teenager Jobs

August 3rd, 2021 at 10:41 pm

Businesses in our area have been struggling to maintain staffing. I assume that it’s related to the stimulus package(s). Some have restricted their business hours or their offerings in response to the shortage. Some of the fast food restaurants just close for the day when enough workers don’t show up. It’s sad. But – it’s been a help to teenagers that are off for the summer and want to make some money, including ours.

 

DS4 kept his lifeguard job and got a pay increase this year. DS3 got a surprisingly high-paying job at an Amazon warehouse. DS5 got his first ever job at Burger King. It’s been a great learning experience for him. He’s learned about using cash registers, customer service, and of course making (unhealthy) food. The boys were required to take a career education class earlier in high school and one assignment was drafting a resume. Poor DS5 had no job experience, no volunteer work – pretty much a blank page with LARGE font to make up for the lack of content. It was a wake-up call. Now’s he’s done a cool volunteer project offered at school and gotten his first job.

I'm Back

August 3rd, 2021 at 01:14 am

I’ve been back home since the middle of April and just haven’t gotten back in the habit of blogging. There was quite a bit to do to get the house back in order and my office set up. And catch up to do with neighbors and friends after being away for months. During the time I was gone, two people that were part of my regular routine died – not friends exactly, but folks I chatted with regularly in the neighborhood and the grocery store. That discovery put a damper on last week.

 

At work it’s like I never left. Finances are trucking along. The company stock has been a huge help with that.

 

This post is to push me back into the habit. I’ll blog on particular topics in the upcoming days. I need to organize my thoughts.

Boy Scout campBoy Scout camp

Impending Transition

March 30th, 2021 at 07:09 pm

Tomorrow we move back to Dad’s house and a week and a half later, we head home. Then I return to work. Change will be the norm for the next couple of weeks.

 

Our annual egg hunt will include only two of the five boys but the addition of three cousins this year, and it’ll be at Dad’s house. I mailed each of the three boys at home a consolation prize. I paid just as much for the shipping as the value of the contents. It was a case where the sentimental value made the shipping cost worth it. (around $20 each)

 

Half my amalgam fillings are replaced now and the other half scheduled for the Fall. I met with the dentist here this morning to review sleep study results and to do an entire head scan. The information that can be gleaned from the tests about my breathing and potential health conditions is surprising to me. I found it interesting.

 

I spent over $100 buying books and CDs related to the boys' classes and calculators with trig functions since they left theirs at home. 'Educational' budget line item.

 

 

 

 

Holistic Dentistry

March 23rd, 2021 at 03:12 pm

I hadn’t had my teeth cleaned in more than a year thanks to Covid so I decided to make a dentist appointment here instead of waiting to return home. In line with my intentions to move to holistic healthcare providers, I searched for a holistic dentist here. Since it’s a large city there are many more options here than at home.

 

Last week I went to my appointment and there I made the decision to have my old fillings with mercury replaced with a healthier alternative. This dental practice has all the expertise and equipment to do it safely. Half my mouth will be done this week and the other half in 6 months or so. I’ll coordinate that dental visit with a trip to see Dad, maybe for his birthday this Fall.  It’s not going to be cheap but I’ve been contemplating this health improvement for a few years. The cost will be slightly more than $1000 per side so $2000 total.

 

I was impressed with the dental office. They have their own clean water system and clean air system and everything is high-tech and online. Such a contrast to my dentist at home who I like a lot BTW. It’s time though to make a move – I think he’ll be retiring soon. So next on my action list is to find a holistic dentist nearish to home.

CC Rewards

March 22nd, 2021 at 06:08 pm

I redeem credit card points for gift cards as soon as I’ve earned enough to qualify for one. This month I chose a Lowe’s gift card for the $50 reward. I’m sure we’ll use it this spring for yard work or a home repair.

 

Stimulus

March 20th, 2021 at 06:19 pm

As hoped, we received a stimulus payment based on our 2019 AGI since we haven’t filed our 2020 taxes yet. The $2100 is a pleasant surprise and will be used to pay for our annual CSA membership and the travel costs of returning home next month.

Land Closing

March 15th, 2021 at 08:02 pm

The closing for the SC land sale occurred at the end of last week. UPS delivered a check with my proceeds this morning and within an hour I deposited it into my account with mobile banking and paid the 0% interest credit card in full online. Done!! Now we only have house debt.

Battery Life

March 12th, 2021 at 02:24 pm

I started replacing some things before they failed several years ago. Like water heaters and car batteries. The kind of things that will certainly fail at a time that’s inconvenient and possibly risky. It may be a little more expensive to replace an item prematurely but that beats being inconvenienced when it eventually fails.

The newest (2010) car’s battery just got us though. We bought it used about a year and a half ago so I didn’t know how old the battery was. Because we weren’t sure it was the battery, it was taken to the shop. Now we’ll pay for a new battery and labor. Not next time though. I will place a tickler on the online family calendar to replace this battery at the end of its warranty.

 

Battery cost with labor: $198

 

Company Coffee

March 10th, 2021 at 02:20 pm

One day this past week was ‘Colleague Appreciation Day’. I’m not sure if that’s a thing or if it’s just something that’s created and celebrated at my company. We each received an e-mail with an electronic coupon for a free Starbucks drink. How nice that it’s everywhere – I got a free fancy coffee at a Starbuck’s with a drive-thru between the hospital and our temporary home.

We've gotten to know one of the neighborsWe've gotten to know one of the neighbors

Timing for Tax Filing

March 9th, 2021 at 03:26 am

I’ve probably mentioned before that we received stimulus payments during 2020 because they were based on 2019 income. We lucked out because 2019 is the last year the twins qualified for the child tax credit and that positively impacted the payment we received. Our adjusted gross income is within the phase-out range but even the reduced amount was a pleasant surprise.

 I’ve held off on filing our 2020 tax forms because we’re going to owe money this year as a result of the unexpected stock bonus just before the company went public last year. It could be that my delay will work in our favor and result in another reduced stimulus payment. I’ve read that the phase-out range is smaller and steeper so even if we qualify, it may be next to nothing. But again, anything would be a pleasant surprise.

 

 

Financial Learning from Cosmo?

March 7th, 2021 at 12:12 am

A funny thing happened. Somehow my dad received an issue of Cosmopolitan in the mail. We joked about it but I did read it before it went to the trash. And guess what? I learned a financial fact. According to the article inside, the last coronavirus relief legislation (CARES Act) increased the list of allowable expenses for HSAs and FSAs. Now in addition to medical co-pays and medications, items like menstrual products, over-the-counter meds, and sunscreen are now qualified expenses for reimbursement.  And Amazon even has a filter for them: www.amazon.com/hsa  That’s useful information!

Property Sale

March 5th, 2021 at 01:32 pm

In 2009 when my Grandma died, she owned a piece of land that she’d inherited from a childless sibling. We didn’t realize that she had it because she’d never mentioned it or used it. The South Carolina land is bounded by train tracks on one side and has huge power lines running over it. My brothers and I inherited the land and decided to keep it. We paid the property taxes each year but we haven’t done anything with it either. After a brief conversation with them two weeks ago, my brother put an ad on Facebook Marketplace. Within a few hours, we had offers! It turns out that the little town is growing and despite features that I would consider undesirable, the 3-acre lot was attractive to several businessmen.

 We accepted an offer and have just completed paperwork to have the closing done without us in attendance. My third of the proceeds will be about $8000. Unexpected money is always nice and I know exactly what I will do with it. I will pay off the 0% interest credit card that expires next month where I have $7400 of debt parked. I feel fortunate that it’s just enough to pay it completely without touching savings and that I don’t need to look for any more 0% CC offers.

 

 

 

February Monthly Net Worth Update

March 4th, 2021 at 02:44 pm

I calculate our net worth each month on the 3rd after the house debt payments have cleared. It’s up $32k from last month. The increase is due mostly to the market rather than anything new or different – savings and investment contributions are automated. Our house value is up too according to Zillow.

The weather is getting warmer here so we've begun getting outside to exercise. I want to make sure I'm consistent with walking to support my bone density.

 

Medical Prices

March 3rd, 2021 at 08:50 pm

Even though I’m living away from home, I followed up on some medical tests – bloodwork, an ultrasound, and a baseline bone density scan. I am thankful that my doctor suggested the bone density scan because it showed that I already have osteoporosis in my spine. Yikes! I’m researching osteoporosis now.

 

Our family deductible was already met so the out-of-pocket costs for those things was insignificant, about $30. What surprised me though was the price of the bone density scan. It was about $100. Given my results and the fact that it’s a quick and painless procedure, I may choose to have them annually even if insurance doesn’t cover them that often.

 

On the other side of the fence, Dad’s hospital bill – just the hospital bill – for his organ transplant is $289k. With the associated bills for the professionals involved, it’ll be at least $350k. He’s doubly insured so his cost should be a tiny fraction of that.

New Year, New Semester

March 2nd, 2021 at 03:24 pm

DS3 went back to college for the spring semester. The dorms are open though the classes are online. Students have the option of attending from home but he’s an athlete and so far, spring sports are on. The semester will be split up into mini-phases like they did in the Fall so that if a course returns to the classroom, the classes will be small. It’s interesting to see the creative responses to the Covid-related constraints in place now.

 

The semester bill including food and housing but not books and materials was $10,400. This is how the funding was cobbled together this time:

                $1000 – scholarship

                $4000 – cash set aside

                $5400 – 529 savings

 

DS3 is looking into other scholarships since he knows we’d split them with him. No word yet on any successful results.

 

2021 Q1 Quarterly Status of Retirement Prerequisites

February 12th, 2021 at 02:35 pm

I have a deadline set for the start of my retirement and I have a list of prerequisites to determine whether I’m in a safe-enough-for-me position to retire sooner. Each quarter I evaluate my progress against those prerequisites, and my quarterly check-in for this is aligned with my birthday instead of the standard calendar quarter. That’s because a couple of my prerequisites are based on my 60th birthday so the calculation is simpler.

 

Result for this check-in: Again, it's not time to retire now, but I’m continuing to make good progress.

 

In order to pull the plug immediately, I’d have to have these things accomplished:

Retirement account on target for 7 figures on 60th birthday

College savings on target for full funding

Mortgage paid off

Savings of basic expenses until 60th birthday set aside

No consumer debt

 

Currently my progress is:

100+%

54%

48%

8%

25%

 

Assumptions for these calculations: average annual return on investments will be 5%, no further contributions to investments, full funding = 40 semesters (8 x 5 boys), $36,000k annually for basic expenses, starting consumer debt was $10k. (At one time I had negative progress on this! For the record though, it’s at 0% interest.)

 

The next time I check-in on this progress will be in May at my half-birthday.


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