Friday, May 13, 2022

Is It Still "Early" After 50?

I turned 50 this week and I'm not retired yet. Something must be wrong. Or not. Plans change. Lifestyle inflation happens. I can retire at a basic level, I just don't want to quite yet. I work from home, I love staying home with my dogs all day. My investments haven't reached their goals yet. Next year though, I am taking my birthday off, at least. Working on my birthday was depressing.

 I have given notice to one tenant to vacate so that I can sell the home. It's the 2 bedroom, 1 bath near downtown. I was fine with keeping it rented until I found information that makes me think the tenant has moved out and left her adult son to live there alone. There have been a few issues with the air conditioning unit needing service and a water leak. Repair people are harder to find and replacement parts take longer to get. She was patient, her son is not. When he called me on a Friday night to yell at me to get a repairman there instantly, I suddenly wanted to sell the place. They have 7 weeks to find a new place. It will be tough since he has a dog and a project car in the backyard. I have kept rent low through the pandemic. It's $700/m and I was planning to raise it to $900 over the next couple of years. Now I like the idea of cashing out. Hopefully, they will leave without causing damage. I don't know if the housing market will still be favorable in July but I'm going to see what happens. I can always rent it out again.
My nephew says that he is planning to move out of the mobile home and into an apartment with a friend. I think that will be a very good experience for him. I am not going to sell that property yet because that is where my tiny house is and I still want to finish it. I consider the tiny house my "vacation" home even though I haven't stayed there since March of 2020.

My other rental home is ok for now. It has needed some repairs but the tenant is very nice and patient. It helps that her nephew runs a handyman company so I can call him for some of the repairs. 

I spent all of the money that I earned from winter tenants at my own house to pay for a new A/C heat unit. It was 20 years old and I didn't want to risk it going out while a winter tenant was there.  The crane was fun to watch. $7,400 for that. I hope it helps my electric bill since this unit is supposed to be more efficient. My maintenance account is low right now. All other projects besides the house I want to sell, are on hold.

So, that's the latest. Still plugging along and working on my short and long term plans. I'd like to say I can take the summer off from big projects but that house is not going to fix itself up. It will be a relief when it is cash in the bank.

Friday, March 4, 2022

Spring and Wind and Bills

It's a very windy day here in Arizona. Still sunny and 70's so I'm not complaining. My last tenants of the snowbird season arrived on Tuesday. Hopefully, they will have a great time and no problems. So far I have had a few issues but nothing major. 

My big TV decided to only play Netflix. Luckily, the tenants were happy with Netflix. I was able to do a factory reset after the tenants left and it works fine now. Cost $0, well, it took 45 minutes on the phone with Vizio help desk so not exactly $0 if you count my time. 

My dishwasher died. I bought a new one rather than try to get a used one mainly because the tenants use the dishwasher a lot and handymen and spare parts are in scarce supply. Cost: $550. 

The February tenants forgot to lower the patio umbrella during one of our wind storms. It blew over taking the glass-top table with it and shattered everywhere. They were really nice, cleaned up the mess and replaced the table before they left. Cost $0 for me. 

One of the hose connections froze during our 3 days of winter. The drip system connection was rusted onto it and it couldn't be replaced but I figured out how to use part of the garden hose to replace the whole thing. Cost $25. I was proud of myself for figuring it out and my rose bushes will be very happy to have water. Wait time for an appointment with my plumber of choice is 5 weeks. My handyman got a full time job so he is not available either. I'll find a new handyman eventually. 

A new HVAC system is still a priority and they do not have a wait list so I will make an appointment in April when the current tenants leave. 

Another extra cost that I added was an exterminator to spray for bugs twice a year. I've never had a bug-guy before but after the great cricket invasion of 2021, I hired someone when the tenants saw a "bug" and bought cans of Raid. The bug-guy assured them that the house was not infested and it was just a harmless cricket. I didn't bother to tell them about the giant sewer roaches or Huntsman Spider that I saw on the ceiling in the Summer or the increase in Black Widow spiders up against the house. They don't need to know that. Most venomous stuff is sleeping in the winter.

I cleaned and set-up the house 4 times this season. Of course, I was the messiest person to clean up after. The tenants have all been very neat and courteous. The dirties thing has been the carpet in the back bedroom. I've had to scrub it twice. I don't know why people track stuff in there but I am very glad that the carpet is brown and that it cleans fairly easily. I'm glad that is the only room with carpet.

The one room with carpet.

I'm still trying to beautify my little yard. In the summer it is green with flowers. In the winter it just looks like everything is dead. Maybe I need a mural on the block wall.



My little princess was having issues walking so I made her an appointment at a new vet office. 5 week wait for an appointment. 2 weeks before the appointment she starts crying and holding up her front paw. Of course I rushed her to the emergency vet. 7 hours later, all the tests were negative. She was on pain meds for a few days and was better than before. I think she sprained her shoulder when her feet slide on the polished concrete floor. She won't tell me where it hurts. Then, her brother's eye swelled up. I got him some ointment from the feed store and it was better after 5 days. I decided to take him to the long-awaited appointment. They said it might be a tooth infection but his bloodwork showed high kidney values so he is not a candidate for sedation and dental work. He's on special kidney food now. My pets like to remind me that I need to have enough money in my pet budget before I retire.

The princess and the pea

My retirement spreadsheet is looking pretty glum. It's doing the one step forward, two steps back dance. I suppose most people's investments are doing the same. Except for the housing market. That is still going up but it means nothing because I am not selling. Current projected retirement date is still 2 years away as it has been for the last 3 months.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Happy 2022!

 Another year full of hope and promise. So far this year I have gotten a raise, my sister agreed to let me buy her half of my house and my neighbor, who I live with during the winter, adopted a new dog. Of those three things, the one that affects me on a daily basis, is the dog. He is young and energetic and, of course, too cute. So far the other dogs are annoyed by him.

I am thrilled to be able to own the whole house. Although the paperwork isn't complete yet, it will greatly simplify my retirement calculations. Trying to manage a hybrid rental home with partners was too complicated. I should have known better since I don't even like the property management company that I have for one of my rental homes. I like making decisions alone.

This is a good time to review my properties:

1. House near the airport - rented through a property management company.

2. House near downtown- rented out by me.

3. Nephew in mobile home on 4.5 acres in the desert - I banished him there.

4. House that I live in but rent out in the winter- rented through VRBO.

5. Tiny house next to mobile home in the desert- currently unfinished inside. This is my emergency backup housing.

So, the exciting news is that I added up my account balances and I could safely retire in two months. The bad news is that I raided both of my maintenance funds to pay for half of the house so it wouldn't be prudent to quit yet especially since the house needs a new heat/AC unit ($6k).  I must focus on replenishing those accounts and keep working towards my backup funds of $1500/month. My spreadsheet says in 2 years I could do it. I bet I can do it quicker!

Friday, November 12, 2021

Autumn 2021

 Hello from the downhill side of 2021! It's been a generally uneventful year, just the way I like it. I have been keeping busy with my regular job, doing eBay sales for our animal shelter and working on puzzles with the neighbor. Add in home improvement projects and dealing with rental house issues and I don't have a lot of spare time left over.

Obligatory picture of one of my dogs. I've had her for a year now and she only tries to bite me occasionally. She refuses to look at the camera but she does like to be near me.

I bought some seeds from the local Native Seed/SEARCH company and grew these lovely Mexican Sunflower bushes. Both yellow and orange grew but mostly orange. I have never had so many butterflies in my yard! It wasn't only the flowers, it was also the extra rain we got this summer which caused a boom in the butterfly population. My sister bought me a hammock chair and I hung it off the back porch and watched them frolic.

I mostly saw Queens, Painted Ladies, Snout-nosed, Sulfur, and yellow and purple Swallowtails but sometimes a Monarch would come by too.

I decided to give the quail away. They went to live on a farm (at least that's what the guy told me).
Since I am still moving out of my house for the winter months it was easier not to have to move the quail too. Plus their food was expensive, they were messy and I only had 2 quail left.

One of my house projects was to paint the enclosed porch (aka Arizona room). And since no project is ever simple, I hired a handyman to replace the bottom 6" where it had been water damaged and crickets had taken up residence under the bottom of the wood siding.  Much better now and I am really tired of painting but I am not finished yet since I haven't painted the side with the white door.

The handyman also replaced the sagging porch beam so that I could hang my hammock chair, installed a gutter and added this rain chain which goes to a 50 gallon barrel. It hasn't rained since so I don't know if it will work in an actual storm. I did try it with a hose and it worked well.

Both of my rental houses are rented with good tenants who pay on time. One of them did fall behind last year when she lost her job but caught up again with the help of the eviction prevention funds. One house needed painting because the HOA said it was time. It was faded so, yes, it needed it. It took me 4 months to secure a painting company because the first guy strung me along and then got overwhelmed with the rain delays. The other company was faster and cheaper so in the end it worked out. Then the A/C started having issues and I paid a lot for those repairs. It's a good thing I have a maintenance fund for those houses.

Regarding my early retirement plan, well, I'll be 50 next May so if I keep working like this my "early" retirement plan is just going to be a regular retirement plan. According to my calculations, I am still at the 1 year 10 month mark. It never seems to get any closer. I blame lifestyle inflation which is completely within my control.

I did not do anything with my tiny house. I think about it often, designing and redesigning the interior in my head. My nephew still lives in the mobile home next to it and reported a big rattlesnake at the front door. He doesn't maintain the fence that I built to keep snakes out and isn't too concerned with keeping the gates closed. He might be a little more concerned now. I found a baby rattlesnake in my walled yard a few months ago. I hadn't blocked off the drain holes and there was also a gap under the gate. I'm glad that I saw it before the dogs did. The fire department came and took it away.

In two weeks I will move in with my neighbor again and rent my house to snowbirds from December through March. The eBay stuff and packing supplies make the move a lot more difficult. I will have another two weeks to clean the house and finish up my projects before the first tenants arrive. I hope there won't be any surprises like the leaking roof of last spring or Covid of the year before. Nice and predictable, that's what I'm hoping for.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

New Year Update

Hello to my friends in internet-land!

I want to check-in to let you know that I am alive and well.  I hope you are all too. It's been almost a year since I posted last. The world sort of imploded since then. Here are some highlights and lowlights of the past year:

A LOT of puzzles have been done.  My neighbor and I work on them every night. 

Let's rewind. I was living out at my tiny house and my Canadian friends were renting my house back in March 2020. When everything started shutting down because of the pandemic, they decided to go home.  Too bad.  The weather was lovely and golf courses never closed but they would lose their health coverage if they stayed once the borders shut. I moved back to my house.

The animal shelter thrift store that I was volunteering at closed until June.  I brainstormed how to help without being so hands-on (I was previously collecting the donated goods) and asked if I could help list items on eBay.  I didn't even know they had an active eBay site.  They had one person listing a few things as she had time.  She was happy for the help and we started bringing in over $1,000 net a month for the animals.  My house also started filling with eBay stuff and shipping supplies. This was a cat collection from one lady. Most of it has sold.

My big dog Baloo left us in June.  I tried to keep him mobile and happy for as long as I could. He was 14 (I think) and in the end he had dementia. It was very sad and we miss him.  Well, I miss him.  My little dogs probably don't.

I got a new dog in July. It wasn't planned but I saw her on our county animal shelter's website and recognized her as belonging to my previous tenant.  You might remember the homeless man who stayed in my 2 bedroom rental house for a few months while I was having a fence and driveway added. I made an appointment to meet her and she was a mess.  They told me that her owner had a stroke and was hospitalized and she was left alone.  A neighbor broke in and caught her.  She bit him as well as the other shelter workers. She had been in the shelter for a month on hold, to see if her owner could come and get her and also for her bite-hold. I was willing to take her on so they put her directly into a crate after she was spayed and had her teeth cleaned. I took her home and let her relax. I waited 3 months before arranging a haircut. She survived it and so did the groomer. She lost some weight and we are taking short walks now.  They told me she was around 9 years old. She fits right in with my old crew. That's her on the right.

Work has been very busy. Although some business dropped off because of the pandemic, my job wasn't affected much. I've reworked my early retirement calendar and 2-3 years is still looking do-able. I added in paying my sister for her half of the house based on the current real estate prices.  That way I am aiming high.  Health insurance for early retirement is still a question mark. I haven't researched it lately because policies change too quickly.

My nephew who is living in my mobile home next to my tiny house lost his dish-washing job.  He did eventually qualify for pandemic relief so he has money but he misses his job and his friends there. Hopefully he will get hired back this summer.

I haven't done anything to my tiny house. I was just arranging to hire someone to insulate and put in drywall last March but I put all that on hold.  I did clean off the porch a bit more than this and store things in the shed so that they wouldn't get ruined.

This snowbird season I rented out my house for 4 months, December to end of March. Here is a picture of the shower stall improvements I tried to do until I have enough money for tile.  I spray painted the chrome handles and door and added the stick-on tiles. My neighbor offered to let me stay in her guest room and move all of my eBay stuff to her garage. I couldn't pass up a generous offer like that (plus hot showers, running water, sidewalks) so that is where I am now with my 3 dogs, her 1 dog, and my 5 quail outside in their cage.

Oh, I didn't mention my quail. My elderly quail eventually died and I wasn't going to replace them but then the pandemic hit and the egg shortage and I got more quail. 5 that get along and 1 who is a different color and gets picked on so it is in a separate cage.

That's all for now. I need a nap.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

I'm Still Around

A lot of things have changed and not just in my head this time.  The biggest thing is that my office closed ahead of schedule.  We had to be out by November.  I now work at home and my position has changed from engineering to purchasing.  It is interesting getting to know new people in the company and finding out what the other plants do. 

Also, I bought my mother's house with one of my sisters and I am trying to do the "rent it out to snowbirds" plan.  A couple from Canada is scheduled to move in next week and I am running around trying to get the house ready.  My tiny house has electricity, one interior wall framed, and a porch as of this week.  Hopefully it will get steps next week.  I have a new handyman and I have learned that his time estimates should be multiplied by two, at least.  My sister and her family stopped by last weekend and helped me move a truck load of stuff from the house to the tiny house.  I will go out this weekend and try to arrange it in a convenient way for me and 3 dogs.  Baloo is going to be the most challenging since he is 15 and has hip dysplasia,  I need a ramp asap.  I just bought an 8'x10' carpet for the inside.  I was planning to use vinyl flooring left over from the mobile home project but it will be too slippery for him.  I also need insulation, at least for the bedroom, and to completely enclose the dog area with fence panels and a wire roof.  I will be there most of the time since I work from home but I don't want to worry about them every time I need to run an errand.

Ok, time just sped up and I have moved to my unfinished tiny house for 6 weeks, at least, and a couple more weeks if my tenants find a golf course to sell them a two month membership.  I just want to show you pictures of my patio furniture though.  One of the things people asked about when they looked at my house was if there was patio furniture available.  I saw this patio set, minus the cushions and umbrella, for $60.  I asked the lady if she could wait for me to pick it up on the weekend when I had the U-haul truck and she said yes.  That was a great deal.  I had the umbrella and I bought the cushions for $20 for 6 at the thrift store that I volunteer at on Saturdays.

Then I had this 4 seat patio set out at the tiny house for years.  The cushions were falling apart and the metal was a greenish grey.  I was able to bring it to the house with the help of my sister's family when I had the Uhaul truck and they were helping me bring some things out to the tiny house.  Then I spent way too much time spray painting it and searching for the perfect cushions.  First ones from Walmart were too big, second ones too small.  Finally, I found the right size at Home Depot.

So, here is a picture of the tiny house with the new deck before I dragged everything out from inside and put it on the deck so that I could move my stuff in.  Mostly wood boards, trim, metal gutters, things for future projects.

Inside the front door is the fridge that I got for free when our office closed.  I also got a sink, microwave, and toaster oven.  This is not where I want the fridge to stay but it works for now.

Here is a picture of the flooring.  I had one day to throw this together so I used scrap vinyl  from the mobile home and rugs that I bought from the thrift store.  The rugs were a great idea because Baloo can get up easily and doesn't slip.  My office area is to the right.  I brought a folding table and my office chair.

This is the kitchen area.  Again, a temporary set-up.  My handyman build the wall that separates the kitchen from the bedroom and added two outlets.  I have two induction cooktops but I haven't done much cooking yet besides microwaving.

The weather turned cold with a low of 25F last night.  Last weekend I put some foam board in the bedroom walls.  It is warm enough for me but I worry about my big dog on the floor since it is much colder on the floor. 

My chiweenie just buries his face in the blanket.  I have ordered another heater which should get here tomorrow.  It will be back in the 60's this weekend but I am sure the cold weather will come back again,  The insulation is only 1".  I plan to put another 1" board in the gap before paneling.  I don't know if I will get to the project while I am here.  It makes such a mess everywhere.  It will be much easier to do after I have moved back to my house.

My handyman built one set of stairs but ran out of time to build stairs on the side that the dogs use.  I quickly put together some stairs made of blocks and covered them with blankets for padding.  My little dogs like to lounge on them.  My big dog doesn't like them but he is getting better at using them with my help and not falling.

Just a picture of my big dog in the little dog bed after the little dogs took all of the big dog beds.  Poor boy.

So, that's what I am doing.  The endless list of projects have shifted from the house to the tiny house.  Lots to do.  I don't have water or drains yet.  My nephew is still in the mobile home and his bathroom is available.  On sunny days, I put the camping shower in the sun to heat up.  I have an aquarium pump for hand and dish washing which goes to a bucket and I dump it outside.  It's really quite nice on warm sunny days.  I'm glad that I am finally living out here after so much planning.  So much to do but I'm having fun.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Making Hybrid Plans

Hello again.  Everything has changed and nothing has changed.  That's because most of the changes have been in my head, as in, my ever-changing plans for the future.  Since my last post, I was really struggling with wanting to quit my job immediately.  I felt like if I agreed to go visit our company headquarters at the end of June, I would be committing myself to stay with this job for many more years.  Well, I decided that it wasn't time to quit just yet.  With our office closing in a year and changes continuing to happen with the company, I could at least hang on until next August.  Summer in Arizona is just a really hard time with high electric bills and day after day of exhausting heat.  I get discouraged because it doesn't seem like I am making any progress.  But, I told myself that I only had to get through June, July, and August and then the rest of the year would fly by.  It always does.  Once temperatures start to go down I can get back to checking things off my own to-do list and the next thing I know it will be January again.  

So, I bought the ticket to Connecticut and went to visit our company headquarters.  It was quite interesting.  I've worked for the company 12 years and I had visited our old headquarters when I was first hired but it was nothing like this place.  We have a manufacturing plant there and it was fascinating to finally see how they make things and to meet people who's names I have only seen on emails.  I'm glad I went.

In the meantime, I got a terrible sore throat which turned into an earache and kidney pain through most of July.  It was one of those things where one day I felt better and then the next day I felt worse.  The antibiotics didn't seem to do much and then my intestines revolted.  The doctor switched the antibiotic but I am just now starting to feel normal again.  That's over 2 months of feeling cruddy.  When I feel sick I always get scared about retiring early.  What would I do if I was relying on a part time job and then couldn't work?  I need more safety nets.

And also, I made some decisions about my mother's house that I am living in.  I decided to ask one sister if she wanted to buy the house with me and the other 2 sisters if they wanted to be bought out.  They agreed and we are working on getting the title switched.  My original plan was to rent the house out full time but during Jan., Feb., and Mar., we can get almost triple the year-round rent.  Then I thought I would rent it out as a furnished rental for those months and then have an estate sale and rent it out unfurnished as a year-round rental.  But I still didn't like that idea.  So my current idea is that I will move out December-March or April depending on if it is rented, and then I will move back in.  I'm going to use the extra room off of the closet to store my things that I don't need and live in my unfinished barn-shed tiny house.  My main priority is getting the electricity done.  I contacted the electrician again and we are aiming for the end of September when it gets cooler.  I haven't been out there all summer because of the heat and also the paper wasps that have made nests on the barn-shed.  They die off when the weather gets cool.  When the electrical wiring is done, I only need some insulation and I can glamp for 4 months or so.  I'll use the shower and washing machine in the mobile home and have a camping toilet, mini-fridge, induction cooktop, and microwave (I'll have to buy one because I sold my extra one at the last garage sale, oops).  I'll probably hook up a sink with just gravity fed water and a drain that goes outside.

When the house is vacant again, I'll move back in and pay my sister half of the going rate for yearly rent which I estimated at $650.  I will pay my own utilities and she will pay half of the property tax, insurance, HOA fees, and maintenance.  I will move out every year Dec-Mar. until I decide that I can't afford it or want to live in my tiny house full time.  Then we will sell the furnishings and rent it out on a yearly basis.

So that's the current plan.  While we are waiting for the paperwork to get worked out, I have been getting some things fixed around the house starting with the main sewer backflow valve which stuck closed for the second time since we moved here.  It is quite inconvenient when the sewer backs up.  I was doing laundry and taking a shower and I heard the toilet making funny sounds.  That was the sewage coming up.  Ugh.  Then the laundry drained and the toilet over-flowed while I was outside trying to remember where the main sewer clean-out was.  And I didn't realize that the sewage backed up into the washing machine until I was wearing the clothes from that load and wondered why I could still smell sewage.  Icky.  Everything got bleached.  It cost $800 for the valve to be replaced and I went ahead with the other plumbing problems, cracked garbage disposal, filter for water spout in kitchen, tighten kitchen faucet, fix bathroom faucets handles so that they stop instead of going all the way around, replace bathtub spout because the diverter wouldn't close to make the water pressure go to the shower.  Whew, done.  Now I just need the leak at the skylight fixed and a gate added at the side yard.  And I bought flowers for the front yard and need to get them in the ground before they die, I've just been waiting for it to rain which they said it would do today but nothing yet.

Now you are caught up again. Here are some pictures of my other summer projects:

This cart was a Christmas present to myself.  I finally put it together.
The carpet in the storage room got peed on by the chihuahuas I was fostering last year.  I took it outside and hosed it off then poured lysol and soap on it and rinsed.  I let is stay in the sun for days.  The padding was disgusting and went in the trash.  I thought about buying new carpet but it doesn't smell anymore and is already cut to shape.  Since I am going to be using the room to store my own stuff, I decided to put the carpet back in without padding.  If we ever rent the house year-round, I'll buy new carpet.

I bleached and painted the floor of the storage room before I put the carpet back.  It doesn't smell now.

A very long gopher snake visited my yard for a week.  He always startled me but I was glad to have him visit.

I repurposed the fiddle-muff that I had bought for my mom when she was in the assisted living home.  My dog appreciates it.

In my search for the water leak, I made a hole in the ceiling.  I think I know where the leak is coming in now.  The repairman will be here in a couple of weeks.

I have been having fun buying southwestern decor from the thrift stores around here.  I need a few more things.

I decided on "Italian chicken" as my theme for the kitchen.  Haha.  I don't think that is a "thing". Maybe I will be a trend-setter.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Budgets and Plans

I started this post back in March.  I need to update it again.
Let's take a look at my financial freedom/semi-retire early plan again.  I admit it, I am a total scaredy-cat when it comes to quitting my stable, good-paying job.  I'm going to be updating my spreadsheets into my 60's if I don't get up some courage to just jump.  Or die at my desk.  That alone should make me want to quit.  What am I afraid of?  Running out of money and being too old or ill do make any more.  So, with that in mind.  Here is my current plan.

I have re-adjusted my minimum budget and removed health insurance.  My previous plan was to get insurance through Medicaid because that is what the ACA site told me I would qualified for.  Now, in Arizona, they have changed the requirements and any able-bodied person will need to work or volunteer 20 hours a week in order to qualify.  That is fine but if I am working part time, then I am just going to use that money to buy my own insurance.  When I looked up available plans, the cost was between $300 and $600/m.  I did not look up plans through the ACA exchange because the site won't let me see plans without putting in a lot of personal information and I don't need to do that now.  Maybe I will qualify for a subsidy but I am going to assume that I won't and just go with the highest price of $600 as my goal.  I can pay for that with a part time job, or selling on Ebay, or maybe some sort of small home business.

Back to the budget.  This is the minimum that I would need to survive. I know people will have comments.  Gas prices I can't control, only how much I drive.  I was spending a little over $400/m on food but I was buying a lot of junk food and eating a lot too.  I changed my diet, reduced my portions, and my bill has been closer to $50/week so I know it is attainable.  Maintenance is too low.  Car and home maintenance could be expensive.  Also, dog costs.  One vet bill will blow the whole budget.

So, what will I do about that?  Here is my income plan:

Rental 1- $1,050
Rental 2- $700

Subtract property management, taxes, insurance, maintenance.  Let's call my net profit $1,100 for both.  Since my rental income is not stable, as you know from previous posts, I am saving an additional amount, I call it the freedom fund.  I figured out how much I would need starting back in July of last year until I am 59 1/2 and can take money from my 401K.  That is 161 months or 13 years and 5 months.  I am adding $2K each month to my fund and subtracting $700 each month from the total needed since I'm getting older.  Where the two columns meet is where my freedom point is.  May 2020.  48 years old.  You might notice that my freedom fund did not start at $0.  I put $52,000 from the sale of my home into the fund to start, then I came up with this plan later.

Rentals: $1,100/m
Freedom Fund: $700/m
Total= $1,800/m

Budget: (-$700)
Health insurance: (-$600) part time job or business

Hooray for wiggle room and hopefully enough to get me through a rental income drought. 
Now it is almost June.  12 more months until I've saved up enough for this plan.  A few expenses have gone up.  My cell phone plan went from $15 to $20.  I put my mother's car in my name.  The registration is $60 and the insurance is more although I plan to go back to liability coverage only once I move out to my property.  My portion of the inheritance will go to savings for rental house maintenance and making my tiny house and property livable.  But the house has to be sold first.

This week has not been as fun as I had hoped.  Working from home comes with its own set of challenges.  Mostly I don't like being isolated from my coworkers even though I only have one regular coworker in the office.  Maybe I just don't like that she is on vacation and everyone is asking me for answers that I don't know.  I would also need my computer and two large screens for my home office because working on a small laptop is frustrating.  Next week I will be back in the office.  The following week, my coworker will be traveling and I will be working from home again but she will still be working so I shouldn't get the questions that I can't answer.  The week after that, my sister will visit and we will sort through the contents of the house.  Then the week after that I'm traveling to our corporate office for a few days.  That pretty much takes care of June. I hope it is a productive month.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Which Direction to Go

I just returned from my mother's funeral in Washington.  As my aunt put it, "It was a fun time on a sad occasion."  It was good to see the family mostly all together.  My co-worker looked after my dogs.  She only lives 5 minutes away and knows them all because I bring them to work sometimes.  If I move from here, I'll have to find a new dog-sitter.  That brings me to my next subject, when will I be moving?  My optimistic answer is still November.  I don't have a place to move to yet though.  My nephew is still living in my mobile home and my tiny house still does not have electricity.  My job has not laid me off, in fact, they want me to go out to our corporate office in Connecticut at the end of next month to discuss the next project that I will be working on with accounting.  I just can't seem to quit a job with perks like bringing my dog to work, flexible schedule, and being able to work from home all of this week because my co-worker is on vacation and I would be alone in the office.  I'm going to hang on until the office lease is up August 2020 and see what happens.

Here is what has been going on at the house in the past month.  Gutters!  The old gutters were removed and new seamless gutters added.  No leaking anymore.  The black mold which has stained the pavers below will be gone after the landscaper replaces the walkway and fixes the drainage.  I hope that will be completed next month.  I don't have a firm date yet.

New windows!  The new windows are in and look great.  I hope it lowers the electric bill this summer.  I also dug out the old barrel cactus and planted some Lantana flowering shrubs.  The cactus are too heavy for me to move or cut up so I will ask the landscaper to haul them away.

My own tiny garden in the backyard is loving our abnormally cool weather.  This sunflower decided to bloom all at once.  I also have some grapes, Moringa, and alfalfa growing.  Last week was really windy and the grapefruit tree has been dropping the fruit that was out of my reach.  How convenient.  The wind also blew over my mailbox.  It appears the post rusted at ground level.  I still haven't decided how to fix it but it is propped up with rocks and a bungee cord attached to a screwdriver pounded into the ground until I think of something.

My co-workers all chipped in and bought me a tree for my mother.  They bought one for my father three years ago.  That was very nice of them.  This tree needs about an 18 inch deep hole.  I'll probably wait until the fall to plant it on my property when it is cooler and I won't have to worry about watering it.

My dove couple is back sitting on their third batch of eggs.  I wonder how long they will keep laying them.  It is fun to see the babies hatch and grow.

So, that's what is happening.  I'm also continuing to sort through boxes and plan a trip to New Mexico and Texas, probably in the fall since traveling with dogs during the summer seems too complicated. I'm leaning toward renting a minivan and turning it into a stealth camper with a 12V cooler, porta-potty, fan, and bed.  I'll have to actually look at minivans to see if my plan will work. 

Thursday, April 18, 2019

The Journey's End

I had a post written for last week but my mother took a turn for the worse and my priorities changed.  She hadn't opened her eyes when I visited for two weeks prior.  She was sliding down in her wheelchair despite our attempts to keep her supported.  Her 79th birthday was last Tuesday and the hospice nurse called me to say that my mother wasn't eating but was still drinking protein shakes.  I visited her after work and she ate some birthday cake.  On Thursday, the nurse called again to say that she wasn't able to eat or keep liquids down and was in a lot of pain.  She said the end was near and she recommended liquid morphine which I approved.  When I arrived a few hours later she was still in a lot of pain and they said that the order for morphine had to be called in, filled, and delivered.  It wasn't there yet.  I waited for two hours stroking her hair until the drug finally arrived and she could sleep.  You would think that hospice would be able to keep a small amount on hand for such occasions.  For the next few days, I watched mom slide closer and closer to death.  Finally, I got a call at 4:30am on Tuesday that she was gone.

It's been a long, terrible journey with vascular dementia, a type of dementia I didn't know had a name a year ago.  I am glad she is finally free of pain.  I took the week off to get things organized and just take a break.  The funeral won't be until next month when everyone is available.  I'm trying to decide how long I want to stay in this house.  My sister will transfer the title into both of our names in order for me to stay if I want to since she is over 55, as this community requires one person to be over 55.  I have some time to decide. 

Monday, March 25, 2019

Spring Projects

Spring is here and there are a million things to do.  I have a list of things that I would like to get done before it gets hot and I hide inside for 4 months (June through September).  The top two are replacement windows and gutters.  There are only 7 windows since the back of the house is covered with an enclosed porch and the west side doesn't have any windows.  I am hoping new windows will help with the electric bill this summer and I know they will help sell the house when the time comes.  The stucco around the old 70's aluminum windows is also in need of repair and that can be done after the new windows are put in.  The leaky gutters run along the back of the house and will be replaced with seamless ones.  Unfortunately, the fascia board along the back is also rotted and needs to be replaced.  I'm talking with a handyman on Wednesday to see if he can replace the fascia and do something to help drain the water away from the house near the down spout.

On the other side of the house, I am having the gutters re-routed towards the front of the house so that the water will go to the street.  Too bad I can't save it all and magically transport it to my property where my mobile home is.  LoL.  One house has too much water, the other not enough.

I'm also sorting stuff for another community garage sale this weekend.  A co-worker brought some items over too so I have lots of stuff to sell.  He brought Pyrex bakeware, I have cheap Anchor Hocking.  I think I'll swap them and sell mine.  He also brought some nice pans.  I might swap those out too.  No fair keeping stuff if I don't get rid of something else though.  I'm not a hoarder...well, ok, a little bit.

Besides that, I've been spending a lot of time chopping up branches to fit in trash bags.  I miss the giant dumpsters from my old house.  My trash service here only picks up what is in bags.  That means thorny bushes have to be chopped up into small sticks.  I finished the small Palo Verde tree last weekend and will continue with the thorny lemon tree branches until they are gone.  I also tried some ground clear weed killer yesterday.  I hate weed killer but the weeds in the river rock were getting out of hand and I had a bottle of this stuff from my last tenant.  I had bought it for him to use on thBermuda grass around the mailbox but he never used it.  It's one of those bottles that hook to the hose.  I think it was working, hard to tell.  I suppose I will know when the weeds die or look healthier.  Hopefully, I didn't get the stuff too close to my cactus.  The homeowner's association is coming around to check on weeds at the end of the month and issue violation notices.

Still green. Guess it didn't work.
I met with another handyman out at my property to show him the next projects.  I want a deck next to the shed-house and a carport and another carport/rain roof where the garage used to be.  I emailed the county permitting department about my plans and they said that there was a 1500 sqft. limit to the amount of accessory structures I can have.  So, I scaled back my plans and I will go with a small carport for now.  Perhaps when I move out there and get gutters on everything I will find that I have enough roofs for water collection.

And in other news:  My mother is doing ok.  Not good, just ok.  She is a tiny skeleton of her former self but she still eats enthusiastically.  Some days she seems to recognize me and other days not.

The dogs are doing well.  The new old guy, Baloo, fits in nicely.  The little dogs still bark at him when he comes near but not as much as they did when he first got here. When we go for a walk he only walks two houses away before he wants to go back home.  His back legs are weak and sometimes he trips and just lays on the ground for a while. But he enjoys his many dog beds, the plethora of squeaky toys, and treat time. It is cute the way he enthusiastically greets me when I get home along with the other two.

And there are two baby doves growing up on my front patio.  Momma dove built her nest on a shelf near the front door.  I hope the babies never fall out of the nest because the dogs walk by them unaware everyday. I wonder if Momma bird is regretting her choice of nesting site.