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Archive for April, 2020

Annual Sneaker Purchase

April 25th, 2020 at 01:24 am

It was time for my annual purchase of sneaker shoes and I did it online since stores are closed. I typically order clothes online but shoes have been different – I feel like I need to try them on to make sure the size is okay. The shoes arrived and they’re fine. It was actually a time-saver so I’ll consider purchasing online next year.

Each year in the spring I purchase a new pair and my current pair becomes my yard shoes. That pair eventually gets green soles from fresh-cut grass and dirt stains from the flower beds. I use them until Octoberish when the last mowing is done for the year, then I throw them away. The following spring my everyday sneakers become my yard shoes when I buy a new pair.

Do others rotate shoes? Or do you purchase a pair to be yard shoes from the start? Or do you stay cleaner than me in the yard?

Supporting Local Places

April 23rd, 2020 at 12:35 pm

Chipotle spread

I track our spending and overall we’re spending less but we’re spending a lot more in two budget categories: home maintenance and restaurants. It’s to pay for local places that are open like house & yard services and restaurant delivery/pick-up once a week. The once-a-week food delivery is expensive because we have big boys with big appetites but it’s becoming a homebound tradition, and I feel good about supporting the local businesses.

I usually order a variety of options instead of full meals, then we put everything on the island in the kitchen so we can each sample a variety of interesting items. So far our weekly meals have been Japanese for DH’s b-day, Indian twice (now it’s pick-up only), Italian once (not as healthy but fresh & super tasty), and Chipotle this week. I’m avoiding fast food places that would admittedly be cheaper but are also unhealthy.

For next week I’m looking at a local Mexican restaurant that initially closed for the shutdown but has just reopened for delivery or pick-up. I doubt they anticipated the shutdown lasting so long when they closed.

For the house, we had pressure washing done and we just had mulch delivered in anticipation of yard work this weekend.

CSA Start

April 22nd, 2020 at 04:27 pm

Today was exciting because it’s the first CSA delivery of the year. Our first box contained spring onions, Tuscan kale, green chard, wintered kale, radishes, and gold potatoes and one butterkin squash from winter storage.

I’ve already made green smoothies for us with an assortment of the greens. I feel healthy just knowing that we’ve got just-harvested organic greens in our bodies.

Smoothie raw materials – 2 types of kale + radish greens

April Health Habit

April 21st, 2020 at 06:59 pm

My 2020 goal #2 is to adopt a permanent health-enhancing habit each month. I’ve decided that my new health habit for April will be to spend at least half an hour outside every day.

It’s a shame that I have to work to make this a habit but I do. Even working from home, some days I realize that I didn’t get out at all except to pick up the mail. Especially when the weather is cold. So now unless there’s a bad storm or the temperature is in the single digits, I’m going to spend time outside. It doesn’t have to be for exercise – I could just drink my coffee on the deck. Part of it is covered so I could do that on a rainy day too.

Spend at least half an hour outside every day.

Provides a de-stressing effect, might improve short-term memory, creativity, and the ability to focus, reduces inflammation, helps eliminate fatigue, may prevent depression, may protect vision, lowers blood pressure, may boost the immune system

Upfront – zero
Ongoing – zero

Cheap and simple.

2020 health habits so far:
(1) Fast one day per month
(2) Consume fresh organic juice at least 3 times a week
(3) Stop storing food in plastic containers
(4) Spend at least half an hour outside every day

Small Money Moves

April 19th, 2020 at 08:24 pm

Even from home on a weekend, I’ve been able to do some small things that should improve our finances:

(1) Turned off the pilot on the gas fireplace. It’s still getting down into the high 30s for the daily low but it’s mid-April! We can kick on the heat for a few minutes if we get uncomfortable.

(2) Sent an e-mail to our auto insurance agent to remove Bertha from the policy. I assume that’ll save us a few bucks, but I don’t know. We’ll see.

(3) Redeemed our everyday CC’s points for two Lowe’s gift cards totally $75. They are physical cards that get mailed so it may be a couple of weeks before we receive them.

DS4 and I mowed the grass today for the first time this year and I found an egg! (That’s how tall the grass was in some places.) No money, but a Twix candy was my compensation for mowing.

DS3’s Truck Becomes More Expensive

April 18th, 2020 at 03:28 pm

DS3 forgot to close his door before backing out of the garage this week. I can’t remember a time that I ever forgot to close my door before driving. Maybe the trunk or the gas cap but not my door! He assures me that he was paying attention to driving and not his device. Ahem. I was working in my office space which is above the garage and felt the walls shake while I heard a loud crunching noise.

My initial reaction will not go on record as one of my best parenting moments. In order to get the truck’s door out of the wall, DS4 and DS3 pushed forward together while the thing was in neutral. Then we could see the damage.

DS3 knew that he’d be responsible for the repair. And we both agreed that he did not have the skillset to do it to my satisfaction. He opted to hire DS2. DS2 also has no drywall experience but he does have the skillset (He’s an engineer-to-be.). He’s charging DS3 $300 for the fix. I have no idea if that’s a competitive price. But the silver lining is that he’s learning something new while DS3 learns a tough lesson himself. The job is nearly finished.

I realized that all three driving boys have had a mishap in the garage. DS1 backed out with the side garage door open and bent it so badly that it couldn’t close so it had to be replaced. DS2 backed out too fast and broke one of Bertha’s side mirrors. And now DS3 has done this number. We’re 0 for 3 in getting through initial driving years without having an accident before leaving the garage. Wow.

0% CC Expiring in May – Balance Zero!

April 17th, 2020 at 11:09 am

I put the stimulus payment to good use – the balance on the 0% CC expiring in May is history. Woohoo! That means that my annual goal #4 - pay no CC interest or fees – will be achieved so long as I don’t take on additional CC debt this year.

I’ll close the CC in the next few days. I don’t need the credit since I have another card with rewards for everyday purchases. Next focus for unallocated funds is the EF: annual goal #1 - get EF back to 3 months’ basic expenses.

Our dog found two more eggs in the yard yesterday! One just had Skittles but the other had a dollar bill.

RIP Bertha

April 16th, 2020 at 12:02 pm

She made 274,000 miles. We had to let her go this week. DH said that watching her leave was like putting a pet down! It was sentimental but not really THAT sad.

almost like a part of the family

I’d made the decision to do it in August when $1100 of work was estimated for her to pass inspection. After some consideration, DS3 offered to pay for the work if I let her be his vehicle to drive. He’s been driving (and driving and driving) her since that time. But the transmission went so it was time.

We reluctantly made the purchase of this van new, even financing, after having learned to enjoy having paid-for cars for several years. But a surprise twin pregnancy required a bigger vehicle and neither of us had mechanical skills so the risk of breaking down with small children was scary to us. At least we did pay the loan off early.

Getting us to vacation spots, serving as our home base during sports tournaments, moving big boys into and out of dorm rooms… Now we just have the Fit – Lola – since our needs are small. If we need a minivan for a few excursions, we’ll rent one.

Annual Egg Hunt

April 14th, 2020 at 01:21 am

Stuffed eggs ready for the hunt

Our family has a tradition of a family egg hunt on Easter morning. The boys are older now and still look forward to the egg hunt because some of the eggs have money in them! It used to be mostly coins when they were small but now it’s an assortment of bills and a few are substantial. Only some eggs have money but all eggs have candy. A couple of eggs had vouchers for bigger candy items that don’t fit in an egg like a chocolate bunny. I use the same plastic eggs and big basket year after year. During the hiding all the boys stay in the master bedroom with DH and watch a show to ensure no one gets a peek outside. They are released for the hunt by age in ascending order and when they were younger, I’d give the younger ones a longer head start. Now their hunting skills are comparable so I only make them line up to prevent trampling.

It's still a hoot to watch and the dog had the best time of all. She loved having all five boys running around the yard at the same time. This year she figured out how to hunt for eggs herself! We had to throw out one plastic egg she found because she cracked it with her teeth.

DS1 got the whopper egg with a $50 bill this year.

I guess if I ever become a grandma, I’ll stop hiding for the kids…

Goals Check-in

April 1st, 2020 at 12:56 pm

The first quarter of 2020 has passed so it’s time to check the status for my annual goals and plan my adjustments and/or next steps for this quarter.

(1) Get EF back to 3 months’ basic expenseson target

For us 3 months of basic expenses would be $10,500. Currently the EF has $5050, which is less than half the goal, but it started the year at $3500 so progress has been made. My focus for unallocated dollars right now is on the soon-to-expire 0% CC. Once that is gone, the EF will be the focus so I still consider it to be on target for the year. The current economic situation illustrates the need for an EF and I wish I were in a better situation with mine. The reason I don’t fret (too much) is that the most likely emergencies that we would have that exceed my EF’s coverage are medical and unemployment situations. For medical, we have an HSA account that would cover costs and for unemployment, I know that my employer has historically been generous with severance pay. Still, I’ll feel more at peace when my goal is achieved.

(2) Adopt a permanent health-enhancing habit each monthon target

Oh yeah – I’m proud of this one. I have started 3 habits and kept them up. I can’t say that I enjoy fasting – it’s hard for me – but one day a month is doable. And in fact it’s really 24 hours so I only miss two major meals. Usually I start the time around 6:30p after an early supper. The current pandemic also illustrates the importance of a healthy immune system so I’m thankful that I made this an area of focus. I feel motivated to continue with my monthly habit additions.

(3) Renew my professional certification by the September due dateon target, maybe even ahead

Renewing my certification involves paying a fee which is not too onerous and earning continuing education units which is a lot of effort. I started the year being 38 units short of being able to renew. I’ve since earned 18 units so I currently have 20 units to go. If I can keep up the current pace I’ll finish in the summer.

(4) Pay no CC interest or feeson target

In order to meet this goal, I had to deal with a CC balance on a 0% card (and continue to pay off our normal expenditures each month of course). I’ve written another post about my split strategy to move some of the balance to a new 0% CC and to pay the rest off. I currently have around $1900 remaining on the CC that must be paid by mid-May. My projections show that this should be completed in time. Then I’ll cancel that CC.

(5) Spend time with each kid to encourage his current area of growthokay, but could be better

All-in-all I did fine on this. I helped DS1 create a budget and provided support for his job hunt which was successful though he hasn’t started the new one yet and there may be uncertainty now. DS2’s focus has become more about keeping up since his last semester of college is online now. I didn’t spend the time I’d planned helping him find housing. However, now that he’s closer to the job location since campus is closed (It’s 2+ hours away.) it’ll be easier when he does have availability. Good progress on DS3 as I reported earlier. He’s committed to a college and found a roommate. Now to see how he finishes high school with the school doing a nontraditional online format, possibly for the rest of the school year… I have worked with DS4 on his rank advancement but not enough. He’s so close to achieving the next rank of Star. And ironically working with DS5 has been easier with school off and then online. I’ve just got to keep it up.

(6) Complete identified home maintenancebehind

It’s always been my experience that I can’t have everything going well at the same time. What I have done is to get a quote for the pressure washing. I allocated funds for it so now I just need to schedule it. I requested a quote for the fan/light replacement some time back but the electrician never got back with me. Maybe the job is too small to be worth his effort. I need to look for another company. Most of the painting I’m doing myself (not the ceilings – I’ll hire that out). I moved furniture away from one wall in the living room to prepare to paint several weeks ago and it’s still like that! Maybe this weekend.

Overall, I’m happy with the quarter’s progress.