Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I'm a Loan Re-Payment Addict

Is it May yet?  I just want to make another extra mortgage payment before anything costly happens like something breaks or whatever, I don't want to think about what can go wrong.  I must be patient.  There is no way for me to pay it off any faster than I get my paychecks.  I think I am addicted to paying off mortgages.  Does that mean I'll need another mortgage when this one is done?  Saving up for a construction loan was never as motivating because the bank insisted on such a large reserve that I never thought I could reach it. I guess I need that pressure that comes from knowing someone can repossess my house, car, education.  Ok, maybe not education but paying off my student loan was "fun" too.  When this mortgage is gone, I will just have to figure out a goal that has the same kind of intensity as paying off a bank loan.  I don't know what that will be but I have a few years to figure it out.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Case of the Missing Coins

I made it through Monday.  Can I have another 3 day weekend now?  I guess I'll just have to get through 4 more days of work until my next day off.  I've already put my name on the break room calendar for Monday May 12th.  I'm making my own 3 day weekend and it's less than 3 weeks away!  That is my birthday weekend and Mother's Day and I want extra time to relax.

So, what did I do with the rest of my 3 day weekend?  Well, the weather was nice so I decided to do one of the outside projects.  I climbed up the ladder and caulked the edge of the patio roof where it meets the drip edge and re-nailed it in some places.  It was coming apart and I could tell that water was getting in there.  Now that is done but I still need to paint the drip edge so that it matches the brown fascia board.  I'll call it half way done.

On Easter Sunday I went outside to load up the truck with food to bring to my mother's house and noticed that the truck door was not shut tight.  Inside the center console was open and napkins were thrown about.  I could tell someone had rummaged through my truck looking for valuables.  The coins in front of the cup holders were missing.  Not even all of the coins.  They left the pennies and nickels.  I didn't have anything good in there because I took everything out when the back window got smashed.  Not that my stuff is valuable anyway.  I have jumper cables, a cargo net, a first aid kit, and some bungee cords that are sitting by the front door of the house waiting to go back in the truck.  Maybe they would have stolen my pocket knife but that was still sitting on my kitchen counter.  In this case, being slow to put everything back in the truck worked in my favor.  Of course, it would have been better if I had remembered to lock the truck in the first place.  I remember taking the groceries out on Thursday evening and I didn't have my keys with me and then I forgot to lock it.  It is very creepy to think of someone slinking around my carport and going through my stuff.  I wonder if they tried the house doors too.  Good thing I have vicious guard dogs.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Finally a 3 Day Weekend

It was a wonderfully relaxing day off today.  The HVAC guy came to start up my cooler and shut off my furnace in the morning which got me out of bed before 9am.  I spent the day watering my garden and trees, tidying up the house and yard, and watching movies.  My Desert Willow trees are blooming.  Aren't they pretty?  They smell good too.  I bought them 2 years ago through the electric company's Trees for Tucson program.  They survived being thrashed by my puppies and now this one is a little bit taller than me.

I have planted 7 trees in my yard.  Soon I will have shade!  Then I'll probably sell the house, move back to my property and plant more trees!  I planted trees on my property when I lived there but last year's freezing temperatures and last Summer's lack of rain killed off 2 of them.  There is only one left and I am not there to cover it or water it so I don't know if it will still be there when I move back.

Here is my little dog patiently waiting for me to finish watering the garden.  He dug a small hole, lay down in it and put his head on my foot so he was all comfy.  

I also changed my nephew's Summer flight so that he doesn't have to change planes.  That means I have to pick him up in Phoenix but I'm willing to do that at least until he is 16 and has a little more airport experience.

2 more days of no work!  3 day weekends are just lovely.  I need more of them.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mortgage Update for April 2014

Since I got my tax refund already, I had money in my checking account so I decide to make my extra mortgage payment.  I paid $1,500 towards the principle instead of the usual $1,200 which makes the total come to $60,265.  I was very good about not spending any extra this month and keeping my grocery bill down.  I've also lost 10 pounds so far by sticking to my healthier eating habits, not buying junk food and not snacking at work.  It is tough for sure.  Sometimes I really crave popcorn but I only eat it on the weekends.

I did go ahead and spend money in advance for my nephew's plane ticket and computer camp this Summer but that comes out of a different spending category so it doesn't count.

If I keep up the extra $1,200 a month then I will have the mortgage paid off in 3 years and 6 months.  If I can continue contributing $1,500 a month I'll have it paid off much sooner.  Next month:  In to the 50's!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Freeloaders No More

The people at work like to ask me how my quail are doing.  I mean, I don't have kids so what else are they going to ask about?  So, my boss asks me how the quail are doing.  I say they are still on strike.  He says maybe they are molting.  I say do quails molt?  He doesn't know.  Finally, yesterday, I remembered to look up "do quails molt".  And the answer from backyardchickens.com, YES.  And it lasts for around 4 weeks.  Ok, so it usually happens in the Fall but here in AZ we lack seasons, especially this year.

I was thinking that I haven't seen an egg in around 4 weeks and I go out to feed the quail.  Guess what I saw?  An EGG!

Yay!  I can go back to my tradition of collecting an egg a day and having a pan full of tiny fried eggs on Saturday.  How fun!  One of these days I'm going to order some hatching eggs so that I get more quail and lots of eggs.  I don't know which gets higher priority, hatching more quail or buying goldfish for my aquaponics project.  Maybe I'll ask for both for my birthday next month.  12 Quail hatching eggs $10.  6 goldfish $3.  Affordable and fun!  

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Weekend Puttering

What did I decide to do today?  Well, it wasn't painting my bathroom.  The dogs woke me up at 7 and after we went outside and I watered the my baby trees I thought I would be ready for a morning nap but I couldn't go back to sleep so I decided to take the dogs for a walk before it got too hot.  When we got back home I wrestled my chi-weenie dog and managed to clip his nails which saved me a trip to the groomer.  He is so bad about getting his nails clipped.  I made ham and eggs for breakfast.  My boss went out of town and gave me some ham.  I love free food.

After breakfast, I picked more cherry tomatoes from my plants that never die and watered everything.  I have a few seedlings coming up:  2 squash, 6 corn, 4 green beans.  Then there are the green onions, the sweet potatoes that will probably never grow, and marigolds that re-seeded from last year.  This weekend is the air show and it was fun to watch the planes fly overhead.  My house seemed to be in one of their flight paths.  Here is the re-fueling plane with helicopters.

My mother called and asked me to bring a shovel when I visit her next weekend so that we can plant the grapefruit tree that she got for her birthday last week.  My shovel was propping up my quail stand so I got out the wood and power tools and screwed a crossbar to the front of the stand eliminating the need for the shovel.  Since I had the power tools out and I found a suitable piece of wood for my kitchen window shelf, that became my next project.  But first I finished watching a movie...or 2.

It doesn't look good yet but there is a shelf behind the curtain rod now.  My green onions and romaine that bolted are almost too tall for the shelf.  I want to lower the curtain around 4 inches so that the rod is even with the shelf.  I don't like the top curtains.  They came with the house.  I left them up though because the window is so dirty.

Next was cooking chicken in bulk for the week and finally, a nap.  After doing the dishes and having a bowl of ice cream, I fixed the curtain in my bathroom.  I brought a tension curtain rod from the shed out at my property (I love shopping in my own stuff for free) and cut a white towel to fit the window to block the sun.  Then the shear curtain went over that.  It looks better but it doesn't match anything in the bathroom because it is green and the rest of the bathroom is grey-blue-gold but that will change sometime soon whenever painting gets on the top of my list.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Too Hot for April

It is hot. April is too soon to be complaining about the heat but mid-90's are too hot.  I didn't get my swamp cooler started up yet so I have to wait with all the other no-A/C people until the HVAC service people are available.  I tried looking up "how to get your evaporative cooler started for Summer" but then I realized that my tall ladder is out at my property and I don't want to go out there this weekend.  I'll just turn the ceiling fan on high and partake of some nice cool drinks while I wait.  You know, ceiling fan + humidifier = my own private evaporative cooler!  I also have a portable evap. cooler in the shed.  I could clean it up and see if it still works.

Other than trying to stay cool, my weekend is pretty open.  Here are the top 3 projects that I could do:

-Paint the master bathroom (just primer)
-Continue setting up the 4'x4' quail habitat.
-Figure out what to use for a kitchen curtain.

I really should paint the bathroom to get it off my list.  I have to look at it many times a day and it keeps popping up in my mind and saying "paint me!".

It will probably be too hot to work on the quail cage because I plan to sleep in and by the time I get up it will be hot.

I found a new idea for the kitchen window.  It involves a plant shelf and power tools.  It would be great to complete this project also because, like the bathroom, I look at it multiple times a day and it distracts me because it is unfinished.

So those are my plans as well as the usual laundry, sweeping, cooking, and hanging out with the dogs.  I love relaxing weekends!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Check Hunting

I decided to drop by my bank on the way home from work today to ask about re-ordering checks.  The teller looked up my account and then had to ask the manager.  She said that my checks would cost $23 which is less than the online through the bank website price of $29.  She politely offered to order them for me but I declined   I knew I could do better elsewhere.

Looking up 'best place to order checks', I found a top ten list and started my research.  The first 2 companies looked promising but either their website wasn't easy to search by price or there were other fees.  I ended up back on the Walmart site and designed my basic checks for $7.46 plus shipping.  I'm 42 years old and this is the first time that I have ordered checks independently from my bank.  I feel like a rebel.  Haha. Now I just have to wait patiently for 2 weeks until they arrive.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Monday-Eve Again

Another weekend flew by.  My sister and her friend came to town and we celebrated my mother's birthday with a turkey dinner.  I spent an hour attempting to glue my mom's St. Francis statue that had blown over in the wind.  My fingertips were covered in super glue and they still would be if my sister hadn't suggested sanding them with an emery board.  It worked great.  The St. Francis' birdbath didn't go back together exactly as it should.  A few pieces were missing.  I think some paintable caulk and some touch-up paint would fix it right up but that is a project for another day.

Today was a relaxing day.  I watered the garden, pulled some weeds, picked some orange-red tomatoes before the birds got them and dehydrated some turkey strips for dog treats.  I bought some expensive dried chicken dog treats (last month) and I don't know which of the additives are the cause but they give my dogs horrible gas which is unpleasant to say the least.  I thought that buying True-Chews made in the USA instead of China would be better for the dogs but certainly not these.  I should stick to dehydrating my own turkey.  The dogs love them and there are no smelly side effects.

9 more days of work until I get a 3 day weekend.  Yay!  I think I can make it.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Over-Looked Expenses

There are some random expenses that I can't seem to remember, like annual dog shots and checks.  The first one is kind of in my budget.  I mean, I have a dog category in my budget but I usually spend all of that money on dog treats because I am a terribly over-indulgent dog parent.  The other one, checks, is only needed every 3 or so years depending on my check writing requirements.  Most of my monthly expenses are done online with a credit card or directly from my bank account.  There are still a few hold outs like the water/sewer/trash bill which had to be paid by check.

Anyway, I have both of these bills this week.  Luckily they are not large bills.  Dog shots are only $24 at the discount clinic and basic boring checks are ... let me just look it up here...yikes!  $30!  That's a little more than I expected.  I'll have to do a little research tomorrow to see if I can find them cheaper or if I get free checks with my account.  I get free checks with my other bank account that I use for my emergency fund.  Maybe I should stop using Chase checks or only use them when an in-state check is required.  If I have to pay $30 I bet I could make the next set of checks last a very long time.

**Update** A quick search on the internet and I found these Walmart checks.  I never would have thought to look at Walmart for checks.  One box of 150 duplicate checks for $7.46.  That's a lot cheaper than $30!  I'll keep looking tomorrow and see if I can find any better deals.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sweet Potatoes Out, Green Onions In

Seems like it was Friday just a few hours ago and now it is Sunday night with Monday looming ahead.  Saturday started with a trip to the vet clinic for yearly shots for one of my dogs.  He hates the vet and usually bites someone but we made it out of there with only a few close calls.  Then we went to my mother's house to help her do some organizing and yard work.  She has a tiny yard but the sun was hot and I couldn't spend a lot of time out there without taking breaks every 15 minutes.  I found some green onions that were outside in a pot waiting to be thrown out.  I brought them home and added them to my windowsill garden which is looking much better after a week.  The sweet potato moved to the garden because it just kept growing roots but no leaves.  Maybe it needs some soil.  Now I have green onions, celery, lettuce, and more green onions.  I'd like to add garlic next.  I hear it grows well on the windowsill too.

Today I got up the courage to review and submit my taxes online.  A few minutes later I received an email "Federal tax return has been rejected".  Ahh!  Panic!  It turns that I didn't write my nephew's complete name.  The form asked for first and last name only but he has 2 middle names which I left out.  I had to give him 2 first names and 2 last names to get the whole thing on the form.  It was accepted the second time so that was a relief.  Now I will wait patiently for my tax refund to magically appear in my bank account.  I am so glad that is over for another year.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Mortgage Progress for March 2014

Another $1,200 went toward the mortgage yesterday bringing the total down to $61,902.  I'm almost in the 50's!  Only 3 years and 7 months left.  I'm beginning to think that 3 years and 7 months is too long to wait so I am going to try to increase my extra mortgage payment to $1,500.  Giving myself spending money each month seems to result in too much junk food in the house and a wide selection of dog treats for my chubby dogs.  If I add more money to my mortgage repayment plan, it won't be there to tempt me in to making purchases online so that fun packages arrive at my door.  Then I won't get frustrated when the boxes don't arrive as planned.  See, that solves 2 problems.  I'll try it for April and see if it is a reasonable goal.