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Car repair $

June 8th, 2019 at 12:27 pm

My trunk started leaking a while ago. Honestly, I should have gotten it taken care of sooner but I tend to procrastinate about stuff like that. It wasn't a bad leak but it was definitely coming in at times.

Anyway, it finally started smelling musty in the car and that was the breaking point. I took it to the body shop on Tuesday. They were able to find the source of the leak - the rear window had been replaced in the past and apparently wasn't sealed well when they did that. They removed the window, cleaned up some rust, and reset the window with proper (I hope) sealing.

I got the car back yesterday and went over to a local car wash/detailer and made an appointment to have it cleaned on Wednesday. They will shampoo the carpets and mats and spray an odor eliminator on everything they can't shampoo.

All together, the repair, the detailing, and the rental car I had while it was in the shop ran a little over $600. Not a huge deal. Just one of those things that tends to come along unexpectedly from time to time. Thankfully, we can comfortably afford things like that.

Update on wife's business opportunity

June 5th, 2019 at 05:31 pm

Last month I posted about my wife taking 18 bags that she made (she sews and quilts) to an area yarn shop for them to sell on consignment. Friday will be 4 weeks since we did that. We haven't heard anything from the owner so my wife called her today.

Nothing sold the first 3 weeks but this past week she sold 2 bags! She settles up weekly so will be sending the payment at the beginning of next week.

The bags were each either $35 or $40 so total of between $70 and $80. DW gets 75% after any credit card fee so that will be at least $50 and maybe more.

She's never done anything like this before so we're excited. And the shop still has 16 more of her bags to sell.

Bought new socks

June 5th, 2019 at 08:50 am

You probably can't think of a more boring title for a blog post but sometimes it's the little things that get us excited.

For years and years, one would go into the men's department at pretty much any store anywhere and they would have black dress socks, blue dress socks, and brown dress socks. They'd also have patterns and argyle and other funky stuff but the basics were always there: black, blue, and brown.

A few years ago, for some unknown reason, blue stopped being a thing. Apparently the fashion gods decided that men no longer needed blue dress socks. I don't know why. I never got the memo. But I searched all over from Walmart to Nordstrom's and everywhere in between and blue dress socks no longer existed. I even looked online and nothing.

A year or so ago, we happened to be driving somewhere and passed a sock outlet store. We stopped in and they actually had some blue socks. Not the kind or material I usually bought. These were the nylon kind, not the cushy cotton ones, but I bought a few pairs anyway. It was better than nothing even though I don't particularly like them. Most of my blue socks are really worn on the soles and some even have holes but I keep wearing them since I can't replace them.

Finally, about a week ago, something made me search on Amazon again and I found a couple of places that had blue socks again. I immediately ordered a 6-pack. They came the other day and I put a pair on right away and they were fine. I wore them to work the next day to make sure they were comfortable. I came home that night and ordered another 6-pack. I don't really need 12 pairs but I'm not taking the chance that they will disappear from existence again. These will last me for years so I'm good for a long time.

So yeah, that's my sock story.

Getting back to ebay... again

June 4th, 2019 at 06:10 pm

I've been back and forth for a long time about selling on ebay. I used to do it very actively. In fact, for a few months back in 2000, it was my full time job. In more recent years, I've had spurts of activity where I would sell for a few weeks and then get tired of it. It wasn't necessarily that my items weren't selling, though there was certainly some of that. And I can't even say that I had many problem buyers - very few in fact. I guess it just felt like the money I was making wasn't worth my time.

The problem is that I find myself - and my wife - spending a lot of free time doing nothing. Watching Netflix is nice but we do far too much of it. At least selling on ebay involves cleaning things up, taking photos, typing listings, responding to inquiries, packing, and shipping. That has the added benefit of getting items out of the house as well as, obviously, making some money.

Anyway, as I've posted in the decluttering thread on the forums, I've been working quite a bit on cleaning out our garage. I've been getting into boxes of items that have been packed away in there for many years, some literally the 25 years we've been in our house.

What I'm finding with some ebay searches is that stuff that may not have been all that valuable when it was packed up is now in decent demand 15 or 20 or 25 years later. That tends to be how the collectibles market works. Stuff is hot when it first comes out, then you can't give the stuff away for a decade or two, then suddenly it's "vintage" and everybody wants it again. That's where we are with a lot of our stuff now. It's not worth putting something on ebay that will sell for $5 but if it will sell for $15 or more, that's entirely different. And if I can bundle a couple of cheaper items together to make a decent sale, that works too, like selling a set of something as one lot rather than individually.

We have a vacation coming up in 2 weeks so I'm not going to start listing things yet but after we get back, I intend to. My wife and I were talking earlier and she's going to help with the packing and shipping end and I'll handle the listing part since I'm the one that knows about the stuff and has the ebay experience. I'll be sure to report back about how it's going once we get into it. I'll start slow so we don't get overwhelmed but I see no reason why we can't list 5-10 items a week at first (back in the day I was listing 10 items a day, 7 days a week).

Costly few months coming up, but all good

May 21st, 2019 at 11:07 am

We are very close to paying off our mortgage. I was actually thinking about splitting the remainder into two and paying half as the June payment and half as the July payment.

However, I thought about it more and realized that we are going on vacation for a week in June. Airfare is already paid for but the hotel, rental car, and all spending money is not. We are also going on vacation for two weeks in August. We're renting a house in Florida and have paid a deposit but the balance will be due in July. We also have to buy theme park tickets, meals, travel expenses, and such.

So I probably will ease back on the mortgage and pay it off over 3 months instead of 2. That was the original plan.

Ultimately, we actually have the money to pay it off today and still do all the other stuff but I hate taking money out of savings. I prefer to pay everything out of current income. We're paying very little interest on the mortgage at this point so accelerating the last couple of payments doesn't really save us much.

Wife's new business opportunity

May 11th, 2019 at 10:15 am

My wife has been sewing and quilting for several years. Along the way, she has sold numerous items but just to friends. She set up at a couple of little shows but that never really took off and she hasn't done any more.

A friend who is a big knitter (and has bought several of her bags) told her that local knitting stores often sell bags like hers that people like to use to hold their knitting projects. The friend spoke to one shop owner who said she was interested.

We took a ride over there yesterday. My wife brought along 18 bags of various styles and fabrics. The owner really liked them and took them all to sell in her shop on consignment.

We don't expect her to make a ton of money from this. The bags retail between $22 and $45. Even if all 18 sell, she'll net about $300. But for years she's been accumulating "stock" even though she wasn't doing anything to sell it all. It will be nice to clear some of it out, recoup money she's spent on supplies, and make a few bucks on the deal.

The owner also told her the sorts of patterns that tend to be popular so she can make some bags that may appeal more to the customer base.

Now we just wait to see what sells.

Charity and community support

April 29th, 2019 at 04:10 pm

One thing that both my wife and I have been talking about is upping our game as far as charitable donations and support of community and cultural causes. Honestly, we haven't been as good with that as we could have been in recent years.

We used to have a subscription to an area theater company but dropped that a couple of years ago. We want to get back to either that group or another one in the area. There's actually a theater company very close to home that we might join.

Many years ago, we had a membership to Longwood Gardens in PA and we went several times during the year. We might sign up for that again.

As far as straight out donations, I always donate to my college's annual fund but will probably up the amount this year. I think the older I get, the more I appreciate how I got to where I am in life. It's time to do a little more giving back.

First new paycheck

April 24th, 2019 at 12:40 pm

Pay day is tomorrow so I got my stub yesterday. This is the first check since my raise went into effect. I was estimating my take home would go up by about $900 and that was accurate. This check included some per diem hours so I don't have an exact number but it comes in right around $916. That works out to $1,985/month.

We already run a monthly surplus of nearly $4,000 so this bumps that up closer to $6,000. And as soon as the mortgage is paid off, another $700 gets added to that surplus. That's about $80,000/year that can pretty much all go to savings in addition to the 25K that goes into my 401K (plus the company match). I'm still kind of shocked that within a few months, we're going to be saving 100K/year or more. Just 3 years ago at my old job, I was only earning about 120K/year so this is a pretty major change for us.

Made some summer travel plans

April 15th, 2019 at 06:35 pm

We are going to Texas this summer. My daughter wanted to attend a convention there so we decided to make a family trip out of it. My wife and I have never been to Texas and DD was in Dallas once for a youth group convention but didn't really get to see much there.

I booked the hotel months ago when DD registered for the convention but hadn't booked airfare. Also, I decided today (based on how much PTO I have left to use) to extend my vacation. So we're now going 1 day earlier and leaving 2 days later.

I booked the airfare which was not a problem (other than the usual hassle of booking airfare).

Then I tried to extend the hotel stay. That's where the trouble started. The website said the dates weren't available, so I called the Rewards club customer service line (I'm an upper level member). She also said the dates were sold out. Then I checked the website. The previous day was sold out but the later dates were available. So I called the hotel directly, but he was showing no availability. I went ahead and booked the last 2 nights online. He said we would be able to stay in the same room since I was booking the same room type.

I then found a nearby hotel just for our first night. Moving will be a minor inconvenience but we'll make sure to pack our suitcases so everything we need for the first night is easy to get to and we won't have to totally unpack. Oh, and I used reward points for that first night so no out of pocket cost.

End result is we're going to Dallas for 8 nights, paying for 7 nights plus airfare plus rental car (which I haven't done yet). DD is paying her convention expenses and I might ask her to contribute to travel costs.

Huge update on my raise!

April 10th, 2019 at 07:35 am

I posted a couple of weeks ago that I unexpectedly got a new contract at work that included a substantial raise. I thought the numbers needed to be adjusted based on my hours. I was finally able to confirm that the numbers I got were actually correct.

I thought my raise would be $15,833.
My actual raise is $40,493!!!
I am shocked and obviously very pleased.

It will be a couple of weeks before I get the first new paycheck to see how my take home changes but it should be around 2K/month. I have to sit down and figure out what we're going to do with the added income but what a nice problem to have.

Got our state tax refund

April 3rd, 2019 at 04:06 pm

We got our state tax refund yesterday. When I subtract what we owed on our Federal return plus what we paid our accountant, we came out about $1,300 ahead which will probably all go to the mortgage. We are on track to pay it off in August but that would speed it up even more.

Forgot the sewer bill - oops

April 3rd, 2019 at 04:02 pm

I was going through some papers just now and found the sewer bill mixed in. I don't even remember getting it. Clearly I must have thought it was junk mail when it arrived as it was with some other junk. It was due 4/1. I normally pay by check since there's no charge for that (other than a stamp) but I went and paid it online. There's a $.99 fee for doing that but a stamp is $.55 anyway so really only an extra $.44 and it's done. I doubt there will be any sort of late fee for 2 days but if there is, it'll be my own fault so I can't complain.

I think I'm getting a raise

March 22nd, 2019 at 07:24 am

I love my job but sometimes they're a little weird, or at least a bit lacking in the communications department.

I got an email yesterday afternoon that they are issuing updated Employment Agreements. They attached my new contract for me to review, sign, and return.

1. I had no idea a new contract was coming.

2. I knew that our per diem pay rate had gone up so I wasn't surprised to see that in the new contract.

3. Our regular pay also went up and they added a "weekend premium" to the compensation. I have no idea what that is or how it was calculated.

4. I'm 99.9% sure that the numbers they sent me are for 40 hours/week but I work 36 hours/week so I need a new version that has my actual numbers.

I've emailed the corporate person who handles the contracts and my immediate supervisor asking for clarification on a few items so I'm waiting to hear back from them.

Bottom line, if I'm reading everything correctly (and it's accurate), even if I adjust to 90% of the numbers they sent me (36 hours vs 40), that would come out to an overall raise of about $15,800. But right now, I have no idea if that's accurate. I'll update when I know the answer.