Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Mortgage Update for January 2015

It's mortgage update time already.  I'm still making up for prior expenditures so I only contributed $1,200 extra to my mortgage this month.    New balance:  $48,187.  If I have a really low spend month I can contribute up to $1,600 but that hasn't happened yet.  $1,200 a month extra is what I based my plan A spreadsheet on.  With plan A I will have it paid off in 2 years and 9 months.  Plan B is the accelerated plan where everything goes well and I never have any unexpected bills to pay (haha) and I add an extra $3,000 from savings at the end.  Plan B will take 2 years.  If I went back to paying just my mortgage payment I would have it paid off in 15 years.  That is way too long.

I finally heard back from my handyman.  I have been eagerly awaiting his call so that I can meet him at my property and show him what I want done.  He sent me a text today and said he spent the weekend in the hospital having his appendix removed and it will be 2 weeks before he can go back to work.  Well, I'm glad he is alright but that's a bummer.  I should call the earth-mover guy and get him scheduled so that I keep my plan going.  The people that made the site plan for me called today and wanted to know if they could do anything else for me.  I am glad they are eager to help.  It is frustrating to have to work everyday because I would much rather be working on my property but I need the money so I have to keep my job...for now.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Not as Planned

This weekend did not go as planned.  I was hoping to go visit my parents but I didn't feel well so I stayed home and then puppies started dying.  They caught kennel cough from their mother and weren't nursing and I think the mom's milk started to dry up.  So, I stayed home to relax but ended up bottle feeding the remaining puppies and texting the vet for medicine.  I did finally get medicine and IV fluids for them tonight.  Only 3 puppies left out of 7.  I hope they make it.  I'm going to bring them to my office tomorrow so that I can feed them goat's milk every two hours.  Did you know Safeway sells goat's milk now?  I actually saw in on sale last week but couldn't think of a reason to buy it.  I should have bought it and froze it just in case.  At $5 a quart it's still cheaper than puppy powder formula and there's no mixing.

Anyhow, I'm not very optimistic about the puppies because they are only 2 weeks old but I will do everything that I can.  On Tuesday I will be taking my other foster dog in for her long awaited knee surgery.  What else this week.... I ordered free seeds from the seed library.  I'm going to finish installing my drip irrigation system so that my garden needs less tending.  My winter garden has been a flop for the most part.  Some of the seeds finally sprouted but today they were gone.  I think a bird found them.  At least the snow peas are doing well.  No peas yet but there are some blossoms.  I collected so many seeds from last years crops plus the free seeds from the library so I won't have to buy any unless I want something more exotic and I don't because I don't have time for it.

Oo, oo, and I get to make my extra mortgage payment this week because it's the end of the month.  I always look forward to that!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

3-2-1 Contact

3-2-1 Contact was one of the few educational kid's shows I was allowed to watch when I was young.  I don't remember much about it except for the opening song.  If you were a child in the 80's you can re-live your childhood here:  321 Contact theme song  The song got stuck in my head today as I was trying to think of a blog post because I am working on a project for my boss.

Our company makes electrical contacts and sometimes companies send us their old switches to figure out why they failed.  My boss has decided that I should get experience in this so, on Monday, I came in to find a clothes iron on my desk with a sticky note that said "See me".  When I went to his office he said that his iron stopped working and he wanted me to find out why.  I was free to destroy it if necessary because he had already purchased a new one.

At first I thought about dropping it off of the roof or running it over with my car but that would have been extreme.  I asked our engineer for some tools and he was able to help me get the plastic cover off.  After that it was just a matter of unscrewing different parts.  I couldn't find anything wrong until I got to the tiny switch for the heating element.  It looked like this.

That is bad.  The contacts melted and stuck together.  It's a good thing my boss bought a new iron because this one was not repairable and, well, I couldn't have put it back together anyway.  The next step is to mount these contacts in epoxy and sand them so that we can see what the contacts are made of.  I was working on that today but I got tired of sanding.

So, the engineer was saying how great it is that I am learning new skills and becoming more valuable to the company.  I said yes, but.  And he continued, if I have more skills then if there are lay-offs then I won't be one of the first to go.  I said yes, but.  And he kept going because he had this whole speech that he usually gives to high schoolers about being a good employee.  He finally slowed down and I said yes, but eventually, when I have saved up and money is no longer a factor, I will look around at the people that I work with and ask myself if I really want to spend all day with them doing this job.  Of course, my answer would be no.  He got really quiet and then said "Before you got here they made me do your job as well as my job and it was horrible so I don't want you to leave.  Let me know if there is anything I can do to help."  Aw, that's nice, but he already does some of the work that I should be doing so he does helps me.  That still won't keep my from my early retirement (or shall we say career change?) goal.  Without that light at the end of the tunnel I don't think I would go back to work tomorrow.  Even if the tunnel gets longer and I have to add a few years on to my plan, as long as that light is still there I will continue to forge ahead with my plan.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Before and After

I am, once again, sad to see another weekend end.  5 more days until the next one.  I accomplished my goals mainly because I kept them simple:  

1) Finish the annual guardianship report for my nephew and mail it.
2) Clean off the table at my mobile home.
3) Get haircut for foster dog.

I don't have a photo of me mailing the report but I did it.  I do have photographic proof that the other chores were completed.

Shaggy dog before:

Looking good after her bath and haircut although I don't think she liked it much.  I am really lucky to have a friend who is a groomer who is willing to make after-work house calls.

Before, the mountain of dirty stuff haunted my nightmares.

Everything cleaned and sorted (except one box).  I made even more progress than I had expected and I only spent 3 1/4 hours doing it.

It won't take much more to move the rest of the furniture.  I don't think that fridge even works anymore but I will need help to get it in my truck so I can take it to the dump.  I think I am ready to call the handyman now.  The first thing that I want done?  A wide door installed and a ramp so that I don't have to deal with the sliding glass door that takes two hands and a foot to open and 4 rickety stairs.  I love seeing this project develop  It has been in my head for what seems like forever but really has been only 8 years or so.  Maybe some day soon I will have a patio for my patio table and chairs.  I don't know if I will have enough money for a patio this time but eventually, I will get one.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Electric Questions

It was and dark foggy morning.  Despite leaving early for work, the extra traffic from the eerie fog added another 10 minutes to my trip.  I got through the door with 2 minutes to spare.  Luckily, the big boss who kept track of those sort of things, has retired.  My boss isn't as concerned although if he needs me for some reason then he starts getting antsy...

We have a website that directs calls to my desk and lately I've been getting calls for some electric company in the UK.  It's actually their emergency line so I get frantic people demanding I do something to turn their lights back on immediately.  The second time it happened the fellow was going on and on and I wasn't sure what he was talking about because our company makes electrical contacts so questions about electricity aren't totally abnormal.  I finally said,"What is your question?" and he said,"It's all dark here, what are you going to do to get the lights back on?".  So then I realized that I couldn't help him.  I got another call today and I was really tempted to say, "Sorry, Sir, you've reached the colonies.  I'm afraid you're plum out of luck" but I didn't.

Today was payday but I want to wait until I get my rent money before I pay my Christmas credit card bill.  After that I can shuffle money around and make my extra mortgage payment.  I've been trying not to spend a lot of money this month.  With gas prices at $1.83/gallon, it is certainly helping my budget.  I did a foster-dog switch.  The rottie puppy went to another couple and I picked up a Lhasa Apso and puppies.  She is super sweet and so quiet.  Not at all like the hyper-active rat terrier-min pin that I had last time.

My groomer friend is going to stop by on Friday to give her a haircut.  I'm so glad she makes house calls.  Otherwise we would have to wait at least 4 weeks when the babies start eating solid food.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Working on the Weekends

I did it.  I was brave.  I managed to get out of bed early on a Saturday, drive across town and make small talk with a dozen people.  We worked on taping and painting the old windows on the adobe office building.  At break time we got a tour of the grounds including an outdoor shower, composting toilet, and an underground 20,000 gallon cistern for holding rainwater.  It was fun to see all of the things I had read about in action and I earned 5 credits toward my own volunteer workshop on my property.  Only 11 more credits to go.

After that I stopped by the dog adoptions but they had plenty of volunteers so I chatted a while and then went home to finally relax and watch a movie.  I got a new foster dog on Friday night, a pure bred Rottweiler puppy who's limb had to be amputated because it healed badly after a being hit by a car.

I took her in for a vet visit this afternoon and another couple came in wanting to foster.  One of them works from home so we thought it would be better for the puppy to be at their house.  Only a two day foster.  That was quick.  I picked up a mama Lhasa Apso and pups that were born last night.  They should be easy fosters if they don't get sick.  So far, mama dog is very nice and doesn't bark or howl like my last foster mama.

And that was my weekend.  Well, that and lots of laundry, cleaning under the quail cage, and pulling weeds.  I am so sore from painting and pulling weeds.  I need another day to recuperate.  I'm out of luck, though.  Tomorrow starts another exciting week of office work.  At least payday is Wednesday.  Now there's something to look forward to.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Planning Every Weekend

It's Friday!  I made it through the first week of the year.  I did take a half of day off so it wasn't a whole week but it is over and I survived.  When is my next holiday?  Oh, ya.  Not until April.  My choice of activities this weekend are:

-Stay home and work around the house.
-Go to my property and clean.
-Attend a workshop in order to earn credits toward manual labor for my erosion project.

What is the last one, you ask?  The company that came out to look at my property is preparing a site plan in order to control the water run-off.  They are a co-op and people, like myself, can volunteer to work on other people's projects and in exchange, I get to host a workshop at my property where people will come out and help me build rock dams.  I really don't know what that entails but I hope the site plan explains it.  I also don't know how I will get anyone to volunteer for my project because building rock dams doesn't sound very exciting.  Anyway, I need 16 credit hours of volunteer time.  Tomorrow's workshop entails painting the company's new business office which is an old adobe building.  Also, we will learn about restoring old adobe buildings and then we are supposed to make some plaques that identify the native plants on the property.  Usually the workshops involve digging and this one doesn't so I thought it would be a good one to start with.  I will earn 5 credits towards my 16 credits needed.  I hope I like it but if not, I suppose I can always forget the volunteer part and hire someone to help me build my rock dams.

Next weekend- Clean out one room of mobile home.
The following weekend- Get handyman to come out and hopefully get him to agree to my plans.
The weekend after that- Start ordering large quantities of supplies!

It's only January but I feel like the heat of summer is right around the corner.  Time to get to work!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Phase One of the Mobile Home Make-Over

Phase one of my Total Property Make-Over has begun.  I can't decide on a name for this project.  It changes every time I think about it.  I took a half day off yesterday and cleaned and organized my junk until the people came out to tell me how to stop the erosion on my driveway.

Water rushes down the driveway creating ruts and the tires have fallen down.  They told me that I should have this dug out and install a larger culvert.  That is on my "future" list.  Until then, I will restack the tires or maybe hire someone to do it.  I don't want to surprise any snakes even thought they should be sleeping now.  To fix the water that erodes the road, I will need to hire a guy with an excavator for approximately $1,000 for the whole day.  The consultants will draw up a plan for contouring the hillside and directing the water away from the driveway.  That's not a bad price considering the last guy said it would cost $10,000 to build a bridge across.  There is more than one way to fix a problem and I will opt for the simplest and, preferably, lowest cost if it is going to have the same end results.

While my consultants are busy drawing up my site plan, my next step is to clean out the mobile home.

What a mess.  I can't expect my handyman to give me an estimate with all of this junk in the way.  I want new floors, repaired walls and ceiling, a door instead of the window, new electric wiring, and that's just the beginning.  I think I had better spend my Saturday making some tough decisions on what stays and what goes.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Tucson Snow Day

It has been a relaxing and cold new year so far.  Freezing temperatures all week have killed my tomato plants but then having tomato plants survive all year long is abnormal anyway.  It snowed on New Year's Day and I made the obligatory snowman.  The last time I made one was around 6 years ago.

The snow was gone by noon except for some shady areas.  My rain buckets keep freezing over every night which really confuses the dogs when they try to drink out of them in the morning.  My motivation to go out to my property and clean was very low so I opted to stay in and do the usual laundry, cleaning, watching Cesar Milan and trying to train my dogs to walk properly behind me.  I'm not a very good pack leader.  I took them out individually and they did alright.  As a group they are pretty unruly.

Besides just taking it easy this long weekend, I did color my hair and do some more painting in the bathroom.  I am the slowest painter in the world.  I'm just dabbing at it with a brush instead of really attacking it with drop cloths and rollers.  I have one more day left.  Maybe I will suddenly get an urge to paint.  I must say, the more I paint, the better it looks.  You would think that would motivate me.  It would feel great to cross that chore off my list.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Mortgage Update for December 2014

Last post for 2014.  I can't believe it.  Once the weather started cooling off, the time just flew by.  October through December went at warp speed.  Spring always goes slowly.  I think it is because my first holiday after New Year's isn't until April.

Well, now for some good news.  I was able to make an extra $1,200 payment towards my mortgage even with all the wild Christmas spending I did.  That brings the total down to $49,570. I am below $50k!  That is very exciting.  If I am able to keep up my $1,200 extra payments, then I will have it paid off in 2 years and 10 months.  I have another scenario where I put $1,600 a month towards the mortgage plus my $3,000 emergency fund and that would let me pay off the mortgage in 2 years and 1 month.  Who knows, it could happen.  With my nephew coming back to live with me, my expenses will be a little more unpredictable but I will try to keep them on track.

It has been cold and rainy all day today.  I had a nice lunch with my sister and the rest of the night is ear-marked for movies and ice cream with the dogs.  They are already sleeping so I can tell they aren't too concerned about the beginning of another year.  I hope it is a good year for everyone.  It is definitely looking like many changes are in store for me.  Hopefully, good changes.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Plans For the Future

We had a pleasant Christmas day.  There were no children so presents weren't opened until 2pm after we picked up Dad from the nursing home.  He enjoyed opening his gifts.  I got him a fuzzy blanket with a trout on it.  He seemed to like it.

I used pillowcases to wrap some of my large or awkwardly shaped items.  I thought it worked well although my sister gave me a hard time about it and tried to keep the pillowcase.  

On Friday, I stayed home and cleaned my house.  I always need one day to get everything back in order.  On Saturday, I went shopping with my mother and sister.  We returned a few things and replaced them with what we really wanted.  I pointed out a shoe rack for my sister to buy me.  I put it together today and I love having my shoes off the floor.  My closet is so much neater now.

We have had nights in the 20's for the last couple of days.  I threw sheets over my tomatoes to keep them from freezing but they look terrible anyway.  Maybe it's time to give up on them and wait until spring.  It is looking more and more like my nephew will be living with me again in July so gardening will be put on hold for the summer as well as dog fostering, or at least minimized.  Maybe one dog at a time?  My current foster dog needs $900 knee surgery so we set up a fundraiser site through a rescue group.  Fundraiser for Sassy.

That's Sassy hopping on my sweet potato leaves.  It's ok, the frost killed them anyway.  Unfortunately, most people are broke right now.  We should have started this fundraiser a month ago but I didn't have her then.  After we raise the money and she gets the surgery, I think her recovery time is 8 weeks so I'm going to have her for awhile.  Good thing she gets along with my dogs.

I am getting ready to kick off Extreme Makeover:  Mobile Home Edition.  First step, a consultation regarding erosion control and rainwater collection.  I'm hoping the Watershed Management company can help me fix my driveway and help me set up my water tanks for maximum efficiency.  Once the driveway is fixed, I will be able to drive my low car up to the mobile home without having to use the neighbor's road and I will be able to get dirt delivered to help with my snake-deterrent fence.  In order to do all of this, I will need to take my $10,000 out of the mutual fund I had stashed it in.  I was hoping that I wouldn't need it for at least 5 years but things change and life happens.  This phase of my plan was supposed to happen in 3 years but now it has moved up.  I hope I will be able to make all the improvements to my property within my $10k budget while still putting some extra money towards the mortgage.  If I am very careful, I think I can.  

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve

I woke up this morning and thought, "Why am I going to work on Christmas Eve?"  On the other hand, it didn't feel like Christmas Eve so the only difference was that I had after-work errands to buy last minute gifts.  There were only 3 of us at work and we started sneaking out around 1pm.  I had to go to Walmart which, surprisingly, was not crowded.  I grabbed the last few items on my list and was really tempted to stop at Taco Bell on the way home but I resisted and ate at home.  I bought a turkey breast for $1/pound last week and it has been thawing in the fridge since Saturday.  It was still a little icey inside but I cooked it anyway.  That is the first time that I have cooked a turkey breast for myself.  I'm not sure how it compares meat-wise to, say, boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  They add a "free" gravy packet and then charge for the added weight of it.  Plus there are the bones and skin.  I should have weighed all the meat after I took it off but the dogs and I have been tasting it already...a lot.

I started wrapping presents but some of them were heavy and awkward.  Since I have to drive them to my mother's house tomorrow I decided to try wrapping with pillow cases.  It worked well, was really quick and they are reusable assuming I remember to collect them again.

My car is fixed again.  My mother picked it up for me so I haven't checked under the hood to see if they really fixed it or not.  They didn't charge me so that is good and also a bit worrisome because I would have expected them to replace a part.  I'll find out tomorrow.

Maybe next year I will save up enough vacation time to take the whole week off between Christmas and New Year's.  That seems like such a luxury but the thought of starting another year of work is making me sad.  A week off might cheer me up.

Merry Christmas to all my readers!  I hope it is a happy day for everyone.