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Archive for May, 2015

Death and Rebates

May 18th, 2015 at 08:54 pm

Sadly, I'm not trying to be funny with the title. The dad of one of our first grader's friends died from cancer yesterday. I'm trying to figure out how to handle it. We have casual conversations with the mom, but the parents were divorced and I'm not sure how often he saw the kids. But still, he was crying at school and the teachers and counselors talked to the whole class about death and cancer this morning. We were also invited to the memorial.

I really feel for the boy. First grade and losing your dad. Those are big feelings at that age. I had my son draw him a picture, and we were planning to drop off homemade cookies, drawings and cards for the boy and his older sister tomorrow after school. I also thought we should go to the memorial, so this little boy has at least one friend there if he needs it.

Do you think that is appropriate? I know the mom, who is the only parent I met, didn't have much nice to say about him, but you really only get one dad, and I'm sure the kid is upset. Ugh.With any other set of parents, I'd know what to do. Modern life is so complicated.

On the rebate side, we got a check today for $243 that we weren't expecting. The toilet in our hall bathroom was leaking, and we called the plumber so we could figure out exactly what , where and why it was leaking. It cost more than I wanted to pay: about $650. But, they did figure out there was a crack in the toilet base. They sent us a check today because they looked into it and the toilet company paid for the replacement toilet because the crack in the base made it defective, and it was still under warranty.

I'm impressed with the plumber' follow up. It was nice of them to check, and then to send us a check. We were pretty much resigned to not get a dime back.

Garden is planted, plus free plants

May 17th, 2015 at 12:30 am

The garden is all planted finally! I got all of the peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, zucchini and other squash in yesterday and today. It's a rainy weekend, so I've saved some work because I don't have to water all of the plants in.

It was a lot of work, but this is my favorite weekend. I spend all winter planning a garden, months growing plants from seeds under lights indoors, and now it's time to put them out and cross my fingers.

Our potatoes, broccoli, brussel sprouts, onions, lettuce, garlic and cauliflower already seem to be doing well, so I'm hoping for a nice harvest this year.

Today was also the equivalent of Christmas morning for garden geeks. It was the annual plant swap. I love it and look forward to it every year. I take my extra seedlings and divisions of perennials. It's a round robin swap. Everyone lays out what they bring, by category, then the first round you get one plant, the second, you get 2 etc., until everything is gone.

It's a hoot. There is a potluck, and it's a great way to fill out your garden and try new plants for free.

I got 20 bearded iris of varying sizes, a few houseplants (dracaena, aloe, pothos, philodendron), and five echinacea, two red currant bushes, a raspberry bush, and some comfrey. All for free!

It's the best.

Last freelance checks rolling in

May 15th, 2015 at 01:00 pm

Two of my last three freelance checks have arrived. I put most of it, $700, into my IRA for 2015. I may put the rest, $200, in next week. I like to keep a little pad in my checking account, so this will be the pad.

Anyway, that brings my 2015 IRA contributions up to $2250. $3000 to go.

NSD and Mortgage Payment

May 13th, 2015 at 12:47 pm

Pinch me. I actually managed to have a real no spend day yesterday. It never happens, despite my best laid plans!

The mortgage payment hit, and we are now down to $31,930.25. If we make our regular payments for the rest of the year (without sending any extra), I calculate that we will owe $25,930 at the end of the year.

That would be about $1500 less than our goal for the year. So it looks like we're on track!

Free *

May 11th, 2015 at 09:03 pm

Today is the first day of my new life.

My last articles for the newspaper were turned in last week and the last one runs tomorrow. I have a one small monthly assignment that I've held onto, just because it's easy and will disguise any gap in my resume when I want to go back to work. I also have the option to take stories when they're offered, if the timing or the mood strikes me.

It does feel weird. This morning, I dropped the kids at school and then my time was mine. It's never happened before!

While this move will pay off at tax time via a refund almost as large as the money I would have made working, and it will save us a huge chunk of money on childcare during summer break, in the meantime it will be a huge hit for the monthly cash flow. We'll get money at tax time, but that means we won't have that money month-in month out. I'm fine with this, because it's like a forced savings, and I like having those big chunks of money to dedicate to our big goals.

But in the absence of those dollars, I've been making plans --now that I am free, from work, so to speak-- to do as much as I can that is free.

I have a list of projects around the house and garden that don't cost anything. Some are cleaning and scrubbing, which will improve my mental health regarding the state of the house. Others are prep work for the garden or for room makeovers, etc.

I will also, of course, be working on my novels and other book projects, which cost time but not money, and will hopefully lay the groundwork for my new career. (Pipe dreams, anyone?)

Here's my list of free jobs:
[X]Hook up the rain barrels
[X]Weed the garden, to prep for planting
[]Hack down invasive honeysuckle
[]Scrape the peeling paint in the master bathroom
[]Clean our my basement office
[]Frame art and photos sitting in my office
[]Sew curtains for the boys' room
[]Sort through and clear out spent paint cans in the garage
[]Sweep/clean organize the garage. (we're getting free shelves from friends, and this will help)

Here's my list of jobs that raise a tiny bit of cash
[X] Recycle three bags of cans ($8.10)
[] Sort and clear for a yard sale in June

That's the starting list.

In the meantime, I'm trying to figure out how to productively structure my day so that I can take care of the kids, exercise, and work on my book for at least one to two hours. I've tried waiting until bedtime to work on the book, but I am mentally spent my then.

I have two weeks before they're on summer vacation. Once school is over, it will be crunch time.

We aren't going on any big vacations this year, but I have made a list of about a dozen day trips and cool activities I'm going to do with the boys this summer. I think it will be a good time.