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Archive for April, 2021

Month End Update

May 1st, 2021 at 03:38 am

April has been a good month financially. It's been brisk for business and I am very much on target for what I want to make this year. There were a bunch of largish purchases and expenses that left my savings account mostly depleted. Some were expected (mortgage refinance initiating fee, ductless heat pump installation, vehicle rental for my trip next month, an airplane ticket for later this year to go see my sister, tax prep, and taxes) and some were unexpected (new phone, car repair which ended up being a camshaft exhaust solenoid replacement $300.95). I had enough money to cover it all, and am not in the red.

My home value keeps skyrocketing. There was an $9k jump in the Zillow estimate this month (borne out by the refinance auto-appraisal). While I don't plan on selling anytime soon, and this is not a liquid asset, it feels nice to see jumps in my NW because of it. I went from $14k equity in it when I bought it in March 2019 to $108k equity in it this month.

I noticed that one area of my roof persistently has moss on it despite me adding the moss treatments each year. A maple that has a bunch of moss overhangs this section and so this bit of roof also doesn't get much sun. I hired a handyperson to scrape the moss off the shingle edges and apply more moss preventer. It cost $158.98 in all (mostly labor), but hopefully this will save thousands in terms of delaying leaks or replacement costs. I am seriously considering taking out that maple tree. It is slightly damaged and will have to come out within the next 10 years or so anyway.

I got a somewhat broken changing table for free off craigslist and altered and fixed it up to make it a rather excellent potting bench. It's been helping my back tremendously.

NW: $296,258.39

More Unexpected Expenses

April 20th, 2021 at 02:46 pm

I mentioned in my last post that I had a bunch of expenses piling up this month. In accordance with Murphy's Law, I have another unexpected expense on hand: the check engine light on my car went on on Saturday. I called the two mechanics I typically go to and the one that had an opening earliest was today. I'm taking it in today to have checked out and fixed. I am hoping it's not a large or expensive fix.

I'm counting the days to go on my camping vacation to the UT National Parks early next month. I have a week of vacation each month from now through August and it's making me so very happy to anticipate these holidays. This week, I received a call from a friend I have not met in two years and she asked me to go and spend some time with her at her beach cabin on Puget Sound. She's spends her summer months there, and I am looking forward to joining her there later this summer.

My brother in-law gets his second shot on Thursday. After this, everyone in my close family except my toddler niece will be fully vaccinated, and that is such a relief for now.

The flowers in my garden are making me happy. At the moment, I have tulips, bluebells, columbine, Persian buttercups, chives, wild violets, comfrey, and one solitary red marigold. The calendula and peonies look ready to open flower in another week or two. My fava beans have set fruit, and the blueberries are just starting to. The raspberries have flower buds on. The walking onions are forming bulbils. Spring time is my favorite season - there is a new delight to wake up to every day or two.

NW: $285,460.93

This and That

April 9th, 2021 at 11:14 pm

I sent in my Federal, State and County taxes as well as the estimates for Quarter 1. I also fully funded my SEP-IRA for last year. This has left my bank account almost completely empty. That money was never really mine to use - I just had it saved up and earmarked for these things. But, seeing about $50k disappear from my bank account is quite heartbreaking. This is one of weird psychological things about self-employment. This year, my estimated taxes will be much closer to the correct number, so I suppose next year I won't have to go through this illogical sadness for the loss of money that was never really mine.

The refinance process is going well. They anticipate closing around mid-May. The loan officer told me what my credit scores that they pulled were: 803, 813, 826. That's the first time that I have been aware of that all three of the scores were over 800. I felt warm and gooey about it. About 8 years ago, my credit score was in the 600s.

My phone started acting up - it arbitrarily depletes its battery only to be full again when I restart, or will crash and turn off at arbitrary times. The screen is a little bit cracked too from me dropping it several times. It's an iPhone 7. I went ahead and ordered a new one - this one an iPhone X.

I got quotes for installing a ductless mini-split with two zones in my home. In my area it's common to have ceiling heat panels. It boggles the mind why someone created this bizzare physics-defying method of heating. It doesn't get too hot where I am except for about a month or so at the height of summer, so many homes including mine also don't have A/C. This new ductless system will solve both problems for me. The quote was for $5650 including a rebate from my local utility board. And I'll also be able to claim a rebate of $300 on this year's taxes for installing it. The quote is quite reasonable for what it is, but coming at the heels of tax depletion, a new phone, and closing costs, this is another thing that makes me feel financially stretched this month. But, I am grateful when I remember how not that long ago, this would have pushed me deeper into debt and cause a sense of loss and despair.

Once the refinance and the heat pump are installed, my only remaining big financial goals for the year are to replenish my savings account, and to fully fund my 401(k). That's doable, I think.

NW: $287,189.40

Weekly Frugal List - 4/3/21

April 3rd, 2021 at 02:58 pm

(1) I cut my own hair. This is the second time I have cut my hair during the pandemic, and I love it. I have very curly hair, and it is a bit hit or miss with hairdressers since curly hair does not behave the same way when it's wet as straight hair does. This is especially true if I try to get a layered cut. Anyway, I found this youtube video that provides a quick tutorial. I have used it twice now, and I have to say that it's the best haircut I have ever had. And what's more - it's absolutely free! The first time around, I gave myself a very deep "V", and I adjusted the angle of cut this time around, and it was perfect! Who would have thought that the best haircut of my life would have taken 5 minutes, and would be absolutely free?!!?!!

(2) Once I retire, one of the things that I want to do is walk the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. It takes about 35-40 days, and I won't be able to do it before I quit work. So, this is a retirement goal for me. There are multiple routes, but the one I want to do is in Spain, and I have decided to give myself 10 years to learn Spanish. I've been using the free Duolingo app to learn it, and it's a slow and frugal way to learn some basic Spanish. My sister also got me a book on Spanish vocabulary - isn't it lovely to have supportive family? Spanish is so like English, and this makes it easy. I speak five languages, but English is the only romance langauge and it has been fun to learn another one. I've done 40 days already, and am doing pretty well so far (at least as far as Duolingo Spanish goes).

(3) I registered for a few amazing looking free virtual events. Those and a bonus are included below for you too

a. In Pursuit of Happiness: A conference on seeking happiness. It has some interesting speakers. Free to register for this virtual event.

b. How to be an Anti-Racist: A lecture by Ibram X. Kendi who wrote the excellent book on Anti-Racism. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it. This virtual event is also free.

c. Hi Dr. B: A resource that connects you with local providers who have extra doses of the COVID vaccine. Free to sign up and be alerted.

NW: $280,921.73