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Job Update

February 20th, 2017 at 07:29 am

I realized I haven't posted for a while and a lot of you don't frequent the forums.

As of this Sunday, I will be starting part time with the urgent care job and cutting back to part time in my family practice. I'll be doing 20 hrs/week at urgent care. For the first month, my family practice hours will drop to 22.5. After that, I plan to drop it to 21.5.

Doing this will boost my income for 2017 by about 20% over what I made in 2016 and in subsequent years a bit more than that since I'm making the change two months into the year.

I will still be able to pick up per diem shifts if I want to (and based on availability). I only have one extra shift scheduled for March at this point but stuff opens up pretty regularly due to people calling out sick or other things cropping up.

Right now, the plan for the extra income is twofold. First, more money will be going into the 401k. I'm keeping my contribution rate at 10% for now but 10% of a higher income is more money.

Second, we took a PLUS loan for our daughter's college costs back in August and will take another this coming August. We are already aggressively repaying it ($1,000/month) but will also use some of the additional income to pay those loans off even faster. She will graduate in May 2018 so the end of college costs is rapidly approaching. Last tuition payment will be due in January 2018.

Urgent care job scheduling issue

November 21st, 2016 at 10:40 am

I've been working at the urgent care since May and have been very happy with the work. I've been trying to do 1 or 2 nights a week and that has been just enough without being too much. This month, I will have worked 8 shifts which is great (and great money).

The problem is that when the December schedule came out a few weeks ago, there were hardly any open shifts to choose from. I was hoping it was just a fluke but the January schedule came out today and it was the same or worse. I may actually end up with no shifts in January based on what's available and when I'm free to work.

I sent the director an email with my concerns about this. I also told him that if a part-time position becomes available, to keep me in mind as I might be interested. I'm not sure how that would work with my regular job but I figured that conversation was going to happen eventually. If it comes down to picking my full time practice or the urgent care, I'm picking urgent care. I was just hoping that wasn't going to happen.

Report on the new job and a family emergency to deal with

June 4th, 2016 at 06:19 pm

I realized I never posted anything after my first day at the new job.

To give a quick review, I'm a family practice doctor. I've been in private practice for 23 years, 16 at my current job. For various reasons, I decided it was time to start exploring other options and Urgent Care centers are popping up like weeds and in desperate need of doctors to staff them all. I interviewed with a couple and signed on to work per diem with one chain of centers connected to a big local hospital group. They currently have 5 centers, a 6th one not far from my house will open next month, and 1 or 2 more should open by the end of the year. So they are expanding rapidly and that just means more and more shifts to fill.

I did my first shift a week ago Thursday evening 5-9pm. It actually went pretty well I think. It got a bit hectic in the last hour or so and I was still muddling my way through the computer system but I managed (with the help of my one-on-one IT support person who was with me the whole time).

My next shift wasn't scheduled until 6/16 but I decided I needed to work before that to keep up on the learning curve so I picked up an open shift last night, also 5-9pm. That went much more smoothly than last week. I felt a lot more comfortable and confident in what I was doing. My IT guy was with me again and I made sure to work with him to clarify some specific workflow routines on the computer and I took good notes of the processes so that on future shifts when he isn't there anymore, I'll be able to know what I'm doing.

Right now, the 6/16 shift is the next one I've got booked. I was going to possibly pick up more but we got some bad news this morning as a very close relative was just diagnosed with colon cancer. He's in the hospital now getting worked up and will likely have surgery in the next few days. My wife and mother plan to fly down to Florida to be with him. My daughter and I will stay home. I don't want to commit to any more shifts until I have a better idea of what's going on with him. If not for that, I'm all set to jump into the new position on a regular basis.

The question now becomes what to do with my existing job. I'm still working full time there. My partner and I have already talked about me possibly reducing my office hours so that I can split my time more with the Urgent Care. Part of me really hates to leave the practice as I like what I do for the most part, but personally, professionally, and financially for sure, the new job has a lot of advantages. I don't think I'm going to make any decision for at least a couple of months but I've got a lot to think about. So for now, it's just a side gig and some nice extra money.

First day at new job! Ahhh!

May 26th, 2016 at 05:51 am

I will be officially starting and the new Urgent Care center job tonight. I'm working 5-9pm. I'm both excited and nervous which I suppose is pretty normal.

I had my orientation on Monday. That was pretty interesting but wasn't specific to my position. It was just general stuff about the hospital system, being a good employee, human resources info, etc.

I did shadow the medical director for 2 evenings last week to start to learn the workflow. That helped me at least feel like I have some clue what to expect when I walk in the door tonight.

I'm hoping it all goes well and I feel comfortable working in that environment because the opportunity is a great one. I'll report back tomorrow if I remember.

Update and some parental bragging

May 15th, 2016 at 09:18 am

For those following along on my new job, my first shift at the urgent care center is scheduled for May 26 in the evening (5-9pm). I'm going in 2 days this week to shadow the director while he's working so I can start learning the flow of the place.

My orientation for the hospital system is May 23. I'm sure that the vast majority of what they cover won't apply to me since I won't be working in the hospital but I'm required to attend and they pay me for it.

I've got 2 more training days for the occupational medicine department at the end of June.

On to the bragging part. My daughter is not the type who is comfortable with us talking about her accomplishments so I can't share things like this on facebook but I wanted to tell someone Smile. She finished her 2nd year of college with her best performance so far. For the spring semester, she had all A's or A minuses giving her a 3.88 GPA. That raised her cumulative GPA to a 3.398 I think. Last semester we were kind of nervous because she needs a 3.2 to keep her scholarship and a 3.3 to stay in the honors program and she was in danger of missing those marks but she pulled it together this semester and firmed up her position. That puts her on Dean's List for the semester, too, which is always a nice thing to have on your resume.

Accidentally banned from forums - HELP

December 27th, 2015 at 02:40 pm

Hi all. I went to check the forums today and a message popped up that I had been banned. I'm sure it was a mistake and I sent a notice through the "Contact Us" link so hopefully they'll fix it.

Has this happened to anyone else?

August 2014 Survey Income

September 3rd, 2014 at 05:23 am

For the newbies, I'm a family practice physician and get to do a lot of medical surveys, market research, opinion polls, etc. These are not available to the public.

I had a great month in August, earning $1,440, making it my best month of the year. That number was really boosted by a single program I did that paid me $500 which is pretty unusual, but even without that, I would have been at $940 which would have been my 2nd best month.

I was on vacation for almost 2 weeks last month so I'm not sure how much that will impact my September numbers. Time will tell.

Update to stuff

June 13th, 2013 at 06:07 am

Well my wife is officially unemployed. Her last day was May 30. I ran the numbers and her average monthly take home pay was $385. On top of that, a total (with match) of $480 was going into her 401k, so $865 total that we're down as a result.

We're addressing that in a few ways. We are tightening up the spending particularly in the area of groceries and dining out. We have typically averaged about $300/month eating out. For the past few weeks, we have cut that back significantly and have been doing a lot more cooking at home. For example, I used to go straight from my office to our synagogue on nights when I had meetings and I'd stop and pick up dinner on the way. Now, I've been stopping at home and getting dinner there instead so that probably costs $2-3 instead of $8-10 when I'd eat out.

We've also started using coupons which I haven't really been in the habit of doing for a while. It saves $2-3/week but it all counts and all adds up.

I've been more careful about where I buy gas and have been paying cash a lot more since many stations charge more for credit. I used to stick to stations that charged the same for cash or credit. The problem has become that those stations are charging more. So instead of $3.33 for cash and credit, I'm going to the station that is $3.27 for cash and $3.37 for credit and paying cash. Again, not a big savings but it's something.

The main thing I'm doing is really focusing on my survey participation. It's probably too soon to make a dependable prediction but I've started tracking my actual surveys done. Previously, I only tracked the money when it actually comes in.

For the week of May 27, I did $291 worth of surveys.
For the week of June 3, I did $210 worth of surveys.
For the week of June 10, I've done $185 worth of surveys and the week isn't over yet.
I also do an ongoing survey that pays me $150/month which works out to $34/week.
So for the past 3 weeks, that means I've generated a total of $788. That's a weekly average of $262.66. Multiplied out for a year, that's $13,659. I realize I can't really extrapolate based on less than 3 weeks of data but there is certainly a high probability that I will earn more in 2013 than I was shooting for originally (8K). At that rate, I could earn almost 8K just from June to December and I already took in $3,000 through March, so 10-11K for the year is certainly doable.

This also includes only online surveys. I regularly get invited to do in-person studies but don't usually get to them for scheduling reasons. I'm paying more attention to those and trying to find ones that I can work around to do. Even if I could only do one every 2-3 months, it could add another thousand or more to my total.

On my wife's end, she is doing the sewing/quilting thing and has already sold 20 or more items. A friend bought 9 $5 tote bags from her yesterday for teacher gifts plus a $60 patchwork beach bag for herself. Our neighbor bought an iPad cover for a gift and a Kindle cover for herself. And there have been numerous other sales so that's doing well so far.

I'll post at the end of the month with the monthly survey total as always. I'm at $322 so far so it should be good.

2nd college visit completed

March 24th, 2013 at 03:52 pm

Our daughter is a junior in high school and in the process of exploring her college options. She is looking to go for mechanical engineering. Our first college visit was in November at Rochester Institute of Technology. That was and is her first choice. She loved the campus, the people, and the program. That's a good thing but it also makes subsequent visits tough as everything gets compared to RIT.

Anyway, we just got back from a trip to Univ. of Virginia. Nice campus, very impressive engineering program, well-equipped labs doing high end work, but the overall feel and experience just didn't do it for her (or us for that matter). We all agreed that it wouldn't be the right fit. In fact, we didn't even bother staying for a campus tour. Went and hiked a bit on the Appalachian Trail instead while we were in the neighborhood. By no means a wasted trip as she got to see another school, got some great advice on the whole college application process, and it is just as important to learn what you don't want as it is to learn what you do want.

We don't have anything else set up yet but Rensselaer Polytech, Univ. of MD, and Rutgers are among other schools on her list.

Loving my iPhone 5

January 8th, 2013 at 09:59 am

Why is an entry about an iPhone appropriate for a financial blog? Well, ultimately, everything we do has financial impact so why not. Besides, a device that simplifies your life and can even save you money definitely fits the topic.

Anyway, enough rationalization. I got an iPhone 3G in early 2009. At the time, I thought it was terrific. It could do all kinds of things - check email, get online, play games, take pictures, record video, etc.

The 3G had one major fault, though. It was agonizingly slow. Many of the apps available simply didn't live up to their potential usefulness because the phone was just too darn slow. Yes, it is nice to have a device in your pocket that can be phone, computer, camera, GPS, game player, movie viewer, and more, but if it is too slow to actually accomplish those things, it isn't quite as impressive.

Enter the iphone 5. I got this just before Christmas when WalMart cut the prices. A phone that is $199 everywhere else was $127 at WalMart. I was planning to upgrade anyway and that made the decision even easier.

This phone is GREAT! It is lightning fast and all of those apps that had great potential before have actually now become useful in the real world. I've even started seeking out new apps for specific tasks which is something I rarely did on the old phone. This week, I got a running log app to record my treadmill time. I also got an app called Money Monitor that I've started using to record all of my medical survey income. I used to do that with pen and paper in my datebook. Then at the end of each month, I had to manually add up the total for the month. Now, each time I get a payment, I enter it on the app and anytime I want, I can quickly see how much I've earned so far that month (or year to date as the year progresses).

Sorry to sound like an iPhone commercial but for anyone thinking about it, now is definitely the time to go for it, or upgrade if you have an older model like I did.

New computer and faster internet

June 28th, 2010 at 04:55 pm

Ok, this entry is NOT about saving money. It is about spending plain and simple. Our 6-year-old iMac has gotten incredibly slow. I think the last couple of software updates really did it in. It had gotten to the point of being almost unusable at times. Also, we have had Verizon DSL for years and from time to time, the service would be very undependable but lately it has gotten really bad. We never knew from day to day or hour to hour if we'd have internet access. As I'm sure you all understand, we depend on our net access a great deal at this point for all kinds of reasons from financial stuff like home banking to entertainment like streaming movies from Netflix to making travel arrangements to DD doing school assignments. Having access that we can't depend on just is no longer acceptable in 2010.

So... we are now the proud owners of a brand new 21.5" iMac and Comcast cable internet with a wireless network. The computer is beautiful, the screen is huge and the processor is way, way faster than the old one. And the internet access is now 3 times faster than the DSL and, I anticipate, much more reliable.

Oh, my wife also got her iPhone last week, so we now have 2 iPhones, an iPod touch, a netbook, a laptop and a desktop on the network. On the phones, the new cable hook up is superfast. On DSL or 3G, there was a very noticeable delay when checking email or viewing a website. Now, it is instantaneous. I literally hooked it up 10 minutes ago but I'm already loving it.

Snowed out of our house

February 11th, 2010 at 07:52 am

Those of us on the east coast have been buried under record snowfall this year. We've officially broken the all-time snow record by over 6 inches as of last night (and it is only early February). This week alone, we've had two major storms totaling over 40 inches which is unheard of in this area (hence the record).

Anyway, while most people have been snowed in, we actually got snowed OUT. Last night while I was washing the dinner dishes, I saw a bright flash out the back window. My wife happened to be looking out the front window at the time and saw the transformer blow on the electric pole and out went the power. Considering it was still snowing heavily and the number of homes without power was in the tens of thousands, we figured it could be quite a while before a crew got out there to fix the problem and restore power. So we decided to escape and spend the night at a hotel.

I called the local Fairfield Inn and booked a room, then went out and cleaned off the car and shoveled enough of the driveway so I'd be able to get out. My wife and daughter packed overnight bags while I was doing that and we hit the road. It was kind of eerie as roads that are usually heavily traveled interstates were deserted. Between home and the hotel, I doubt that we saw more than a dozen cars. We made it there safely and checked into a nicely lit and heated room, two things that were lacking at home.

This morning, I called the house and the answering machine picked up so I knew the power was back on. We had breakfast (included with the room) and packed up and came back to the house. Other than one large tree branch coming down (no damage done), everything was in order. So ended our little snow adventure. And only a tiny ding to the savings for an unplanned hotel stay.

Snow, Snow and More Snow

December 20th, 2009 at 12:28 pm

It started snowing about 6 am Saturday and forgot to stop. By the time it was done, we had recorded the record high snowfall for the month of December beating the record set in 1909. We also got the 2nd highest snowfall ever after the storm of 1996.

Needless to say I've spent a good part of the past 2 days snowblowing and shoveling snow. I'm done now. Well, not done in the sense that all the snow is cleared but done in the sense that I'm not going out there again. I've got my car shoveled out. The van is mostly cleared but needs a little more work. I'll probably do that tomorrow night after work and DW and DD can work on it tomorrow, too.

It has been a long time we've seen snow like this (13 years to be exact). I just hope this isn't a sign of things to come this winter.

I'm ready for vacation

April 3rd, 2009 at 09:58 am

Today is my last day of work until April 13. I always take off for the week that Passover begins because we have so much to do at home. Lots of cleaning, shopping and cooking. So it isn't a vacation in the "sit on the beach and relax" sense, but it is time away from the office. It also gives me a few days when I can actually sleep past 7am. We've really been on a treadmill of activity lately so I'm looking forward to the break in routine, even if there is still a lot of work involved while I'm off. Plus, after Wednesday, the work will be done and I'll have a few days to actually relax.

So I'll wish an early Happy Passover to my Jewish friends and Happy Easter to those of you who celebrate that.

Cleaned the garage

March 7th, 2009 at 07:22 pm

Or at least I started to clean the garage. It is NOT a one-day endeavor. It is more of a lifelong challenge. LOL.

The temp rose into the 60s today - actually may have broken 70 - so I took advantage of the nice weather and spent a few hours in the garage. I made some progress, though there is certainly still much to be done. I broke down a bunch of cardboard boxes that went into the recycling bin. I filled a couple of trash bags. I got rid of some boxes from things that I just don't need to save anymore, like our laptop that we've had for 4 years or the CD player that we've also had for years. No reason to save the boxes anymore and they were taking up a lot of shelf space that can be used for stuff we actually need. I also moved some boxes from the floor area onto open space on one shelving unit. And, I packed up a few things to donate to Goodwill - stuff that we've tried to sell at least twice at yard sales without success. I didn't make it to Goodwill today but maybe later this week I'll run that stuff over. I also found one item that I put on ebay this evening, so I may even make a few bucks out of the cleaning effort.

Joined Facebook today

December 22nd, 2008 at 04:08 pm

I set up a MySpace page ages ago because one friend invited me, but I've never done anything with it and don't even visit the site.

Today, I got 4 e-mails from old college friends inviting me to Facebook. I e-mailed one of them to make sure the invites were real and not the result of some virus invading someone's address book. Once he confirmed it, I went ahead and signed up. In no time at all, I had messages from 3 of my friends. I also found a bunch of other people who I either went to college or med school with. Clearly, Facebook is the preferred site over MySpace for social networking. I will try and avoid getting sucked in and spending too much time there, but it is really neat seeing these people who I've been out of touch with for so many years.

Happy Chanukah!

December 21st, 2008 at 04:18 pm

I just want to wish all of my Jewish friends a very happy Chanukah. We made latkes tonight before lighting candles and opening presents. I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday.

Blogging over 2 years

December 20th, 2008 at 07:31 pm

Wow. I was just looking at the sidebar and realized that I started my blog in October 2006. Time really flies. I had no idea it has been that long. I've posted over 200 entries. I always feel like I don't blog much, but I guess even just a few entries each month really adds up after more than 2 years.

Thanks to all who visit.

Sad anniversaries

December 16th, 2008 at 02:15 pm

This is not a financial post. I don't do many personal posts, but just felt like writing today.

December is a rough month in the Disneysteve household. My brother, my father and my wife's father all died in December. Today is my brother's birthday and the anniversary (on the Jewish calendar) of both our father's deaths.

My brother was 28 when he died in 1987 of a drug overdose. We weren't all that close, especially in the 6 years before his death, due to his drug use. But I still am sad about his death and about it's effect on my mom and the family.

My dad died suddenly of a heart attack in 1992, 5 months after our wedding.

My father-in-law died of lung cancer in 1993. He had been sick for a while. In fact, we really expected to lose him before my father.

We are grateful that both of them were alive for our wedding but we're sad that neither lived to know our daughter. They both loved kids and would have been great with her.

So that's where my head is today.

Our daughter thanked us today.

December 12th, 2008 at 08:26 pm

This is not a financial post, just something I wanted to share.

Those who have (or have had) a teen will understand when I say that there are brief moments in time when you get a glimpse of hope, a sign that there is a light at the end of the parenting-a-teen tunnel. We had one of those fleeting moments today.

We were finishing up dinner and out of the blue, our daughter turned to me and said thank you for introducing her to good food and cooking and stuff. Dinner wasn't even anything particularly fancy, but good home-cooked comfort food - ravioli, homemade sauce, grilled veggies, fresh grated Locatelli, and Italian bread with freshly roasted garlic. She said she's glad that we make stuff like that and that we're teaching her to cook and to appreciate good food.

I nearly fell off my chair. It isn't often that sincerity like that comes out of her mouth. I'm glad to know that she actually does appreciate things that we do for her and with her, even if she doesn't always show it or acknowledge it.

My daughter's Bat Mitzvah is tomorrow!!

September 26th, 2008 at 08:46 pm

I've mentioned it in various posts and we've been planning it for ages. Tomorrow is the day. Our daughter will celebrate her Bat Mitzvah tomorrow evening, 9/27. We've done so much to prepare. It will be great to finally get to enjoy the result of all the hard work. Also will be great to see all our friends and family.

I've logged scores of hours on the computer as we made the invitations, placecards, centerpieces, sign-in board and programs. My wife also did chocolate molds for favors.

When all of this is done, I'm going to try and post photos of everything we made for folks to see. I didn't want to do it in advance just in case anyone we knew checked the site. Didn't want to spoil any surprises.

I can't believe our little girl will be 13 on Sunday and I'll officially be the parent of a teenager.

Friday and still more decluttering

June 20th, 2008 at 07:08 pm

Ok, maybe posting is keeping me motivated, too.

I've realized there are two basic types of decluttering.

1. Recurrent: Things that keep re-accumulating like mail, laundry, papers to be shredded, etc.

2. One-time: Things that once eliminated or put away pretty much stay that way.

I worked on a little of both today. I went through the mail pile on the kitchen table and got some in the recycling bin and some filed away.

I then found myself in... (cue ominous music)... the basement. I took a few things down to put them away and decided to stay and take care of a little clutter down there. I worked on the area near the bottom of the stairs. I found a few things that went to the garage in a yard sale box, 2 outgrown coats that went in the give-away pile, some papers for recycling, some paper and plastic supermarket bags that got put where they belong and some old cans of paint that will go out in the trash next week (all latex - safe to throw out). I swept the floor in the area and consolidated/organized the stuff that was staying there. It looks much nicer now when you walk down the stairs.

My last thing came after my nightly walk. Rather than going right into the house, I grabbed my pruning clippers and a trash can and cut back the branches growing from the base of the tree in front of the house. I do that once or twice a year and it was past time to be done.

By the way, my daughter has been having a great time playing Rush Hour (that I unearthed a few nights ago).

Tuesday Decluttering - Found something good

June 18th, 2008 at 05:33 am

I've been staying pretty motivated, but posting here can only help, so I'll keep updating periodically.

Last night (Tuesday), I did some more work on the bookcase in the computer room/office. I worked on the bottom shelf. That was a bit more of a challenge because much of what is on that shelf is items that are part of our Disney memorabilia collection: old brochures, commemorative guides and programs, vintage magazines and other assorted paper items. I was able to get a few things out of there, but most of the stuff are things I still want to keep.

However, I realize that decluttering doesn't just mean throwing things out. It also means organizing the things that you want to keep and finding an appropriate place for those things. I didn't get to that point last night, but now that I've gone through that pile and removed the items I don't need, I will box up the stuff I do want and get it out of that room, probably into the attic, garage or basement. Even though I want the stuff, there is no reason it needs to be taking up space in that room since it isn't stuff we need quick access to.

Finally, on the bottom of the one pile (it is a large, deep shelf) I found Rush Hour. http://www.puzzles.com/products/rushhour.htm That is a puzzle game that has been missing for a couple of years now. My daughter and I both love to play it. In fact, my wife had bought me a new set of puzzle cards for my birthday a while back but I could never use them because we couldn't find the game. See what happens when you clean.

The one thing I'm hoping is that my decluttering motivation will start rubbing off on the rest of the family. I don't have much hope for my daughter but I think my wife is starting to think about it. In the course of cleaning, I've come across a few things that were hers and got her to sort through them. Pretty much everything I've given her has gotten thrown away/recycled, so I think she is also realizing how much useless stuff we have taking up space. She was off yesterday and mentioned last night that she did some cleaning in our bedroom closet. Every little bit helps.

More decluttering notes

June 17th, 2008 at 02:47 pm

The night before last, I sorted through the bookcase shelf that holds all our travel guides and maps. I ended up with a nice big pile to recycle.

There were several guidebooks that were way out of date for places that we won't be returning to anytime soon. If we do, we'll just get new guidebooks (the free kind from the tourism boards).

There were guidebooks for places we go regularly, but we had the 2007, 2006, 2005 and 2004 editions. I discarded all but the current ones.

Then last night, I went through a pile of papers on another shelf. I found 3 more travel guides, 2 of which were duplicates of ones I had dealt with the previous night.

Also in that pile were numerous magazines that were saved because I had articles published in them. I didn't toss them, because I still want them around, but I did decide that I no longer need to keep several copies of each, so those are out of here, too.

I'm going to keep chipping away at all the clutter. It is very stress-relieving to clean and organize and declutter. You should all give it a try.

Decluttering - I'm serious this time!

June 15th, 2008 at 05:35 pm

I must confess - our house is a mess. Plain and simple. We just are lousy at keeping things neat and organized. I occasionally get upset with our daughter for having stuff strewn all over, and then my wife points out that we haven't set much of an example for her to follow.

I'm a piler. Every flat surface tends to have a stack of papers, magazines, books, whatever, whether it is my desk, the computer desk, the dresser in the hall, the kitchen table, the floor, the closet, etc.

About 4 or 5 weeks ago, I once again realized my dresser was covered with assorted crap. I came up with an idea. I committed to taking care of at least one item per day on the dresser that didnít belong there. That might have meant throwing out a receipt I didnít need, putting something back where it actually belonged, filing a paper that I had left out, putting loose change into my change bank, or whatever else needed to be done. I stuck with it, most days doing multiple items, not just one, though some days I did do only one thing. After about a week, I had cleared off a pretty decent section and what was left was stuff that pretty much belonged there. Iím glad to say that I have continued to keep the dresser cleared off since then.

Once the dresser was cleared, I moved on to my desk, home to a couple of ever-present piles of assorted papers and a vast assortment of other junk. Over several days, I got one pile down to nothing except items that are part of a project I am currently working on. The other pile was cut in half, though there is still work to be done with what remains.

Then I started branching out tackling the ďto be shreddedĒ pile in a few shredding sessions, papers piled under the desk and on the computer scanner and a few other places. The past few days I started attacking the large bookcase in the computer room. Just before posting this, for example, I cleaned off the Travel shelf, tossing outdated guidebooks, maps and other items that we no longer needed, putting them all in the recycling bin.

Little by little, my efforts are starting to show. There is noticeably more floor space and desk space in the computer room. The kitchen table pile isnít gone, but now holds just current items. The bookcase has started looking much neater (at least on the 3 shelves I have worked on so far).

Is any of this financial? Kind of. One thing that invariably happens when we clean is we find things we had forgotten we had. Knowing we have them and where to find them helps prevent us from buying duplicate replacement items at a later date. For example, there is now a neat stack of spiral notebooks on the bookcase and another stack of 3-ring binders. When it is time to shop for school supplies for next year, that supply will get checked first before heading to Target or Wal-Mart.

Reducing clutter is also a psychological thing. I just feel better looking around and seeing what Iíve accomplished so far. I still see plenty left to do, but seeing what is already done helps motivate me to keep at it. And taking it in little steps of one item per day helped keep it a manageable goal, rather than being overwhelmed by the big picture.

Weekend review

February 24th, 2008 at 03:57 pm

As per my last post, my wife and I returned to my college this weekend to attend the dedication of the theater lobby in memory of my former theater professor and director.

A large contingent of my college theater friends were able to attend, about 16 of us all together. It was really wonderful to see everyone and spend some time together catching up on each other's lives. It has been way too long since we got together.

After the show last night, one couple set a date for a party at their house on July 5th, so we are all looking forward to that and more time to spend together with old friends. Keep in mind that we graduated college between 1984 and 1987 so we all go back quite a few years at this point.

Financially, the weekend wasn't too bad. The hotel last night was $105 and included breakfast this morning (7 of us met for breakfast since we were all staying in the same hotel). DW and I spent about $15 for lunch yesterday afternoon. We all went out last night after the show. That was another $20. Add in gas and tolls for about another $20. So I guess the whole weekend ran us about $160 and it was worth every penny to see everyone.

Mini college reunion tomorrow

February 22nd, 2008 at 06:11 pm

Ok, not a class reunion, but a friends reunion, which is far better. In college, I was active in the theater department. Almost all of my college friends are fellow theater people. For many years after college, we continued to get together socially a few times each year. In recent years, though, with jobs and kids, it hasn't happened. I haven't seen most of these people for a few years.

Anyway, tomorrow evening the school is dedicating the theater lobby in memory of our former director (who we all worked under). They are having a reception and ceremony, followed by a show. Almost the whole group of my friends will be there. I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone.

New Computer Desk

January 5th, 2008 at 04:48 pm

My wife has been bugging me for a few months about rearranging our family room to put in a computer desk so that we could have a computer set up on the first floor. There were a few reasons for this. One, we use the internet constantly for all kinds of information, recipes, shopping, games, etc. and it is often a pain to have to run upstairs for every little thing. Two, our daughter is 12 now and spending more time online and we'd like her doing that in a common area so we can keep an eye on what she's doing. Also, when she is doing school work, we can be there to help her without running up and down the steps every time she has a question.

We finally found a desk we liked the other day and got it at staples.com. It was $30 cheaper online than in the store and shipping was free. It came yesterday and we assembled it this afternoon. I'm sitting at that desk typing this entry on our laptop which is now set up on the new desk.

This is only vaguely a financial topic, though I did post about how we saved that $30 by shopping online instead of in the store. Also, we often use the internet to save money in other ways and having even easier access to it can only help with that.

Now, we just need to buy a printer and a little desk lamp and we'll be all set.

One year of blogging

December 24th, 2007 at 05:33 am

I realized last night that I started this blog a year ago. I registered it in October but didn't actually post until December.

Thanks to all who have read it (nearly 42,000 site visits) and commented on my postings. I enjoy doing it and it is nice to know folks enjoy reading it.

Happy holidays to all. Have a wonderful, safe, healthy and prosperous New Year!!

Assorted ramblings

December 14th, 2007 at 12:46 pm

I haven't posted this month (except the survey income) so thought I'd try and come up with something to report.

I bought a new microwave (see prior report). I spoke to my friend who fixes appliances and he said don't bother. It is 16 years old and not worth repairing. We'll probably save more in electricity conservation than it would cost to repair. So I went to Wal-Mart and got a GE unit for $55. The first one was damaged when I got it home, but I exchanged it yesterday and the new one works fine. I used it to cook grits this morning. We lost a chunk of counter space, but we'll manage.

I took my wife's van in for service last week. With a coupon, that came to less than $200 which wasn't too bad at all. It recently turned 100,000 miles and is doing fine.

Some guys at my synagogue play in a weekly poker game and have been inviting me to join them for years. I finally did 2 nights ago. Everybody buys in for $20 - it is more about having fun and socializing than making big bucks. We played for close to 4 hours (way past my bedtime) and I lost a total of $7.00 which was just fine by me as I had a fun time. I can't see myself playing weekly, but I will join them from time to time.

My wife's birthday is on Monday. I'll give her her gift on Sunday, probably, since I work late on Monday. I know she doesn't read my blog, so I can share what I got her. We tend to buy each other practical gifts, but good quality/luxury versions. She is always complaining about her bed pillow but doesn't want to spend the money to get a better one and isn't sure which to get. Anytime we travel and stay at a Marriott, she always loves the pillow, so I ordered one from Marriott's website. It was $65 which is extravagant for us, but if she likes it as much at home as she does at the hotels, it will be well worth it.

My wife has been stressed out this week because they have been doing a special project at work and she has had to work lots of extra hours. She normally works part-time, a few hours a week, but this week has worked every day and a few days were 9am to 6pm which she hated, but at least we know it was just for this week. After today, it is back to the usual. The only good thing, which I appreciate more than her, is the extra money those hours will bring in. 50% of her pay goes to her 401K, so this week will give that account a nice boost.

Nothing else comes to mind right now, so I'll stop here. I hope everyone has a great weekend.

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