Home > Archive: January, 2020

Archive for January, 2020

January fitness recap

January 31st, 2020 at 08:33 pm

For the month of January 2020:

10 gym workouts
2 outdoor runs

12/30/19 weight: 185.7
1/31/20 weight: 181.4

I'm happy with those numbers. Now to keep it up in February and keep that weight number going down.

Dinner for 4 - $406.00 and worth every penny

January 26th, 2020 at 01:57 am

Last month, I won a $600 gift card to a local restaurant in a drawing at a liquor store we frequent. They said it was for a "whiskey dinner" for 6-8 people. It turned out to simply be a gift card to the restaurant to be used however we'd like. DW and I talked about it and decided we'd go out to dinner with another couple two different times (with different couples) and cover the bills with the gift card as much as possible. We also happened to have an old $50 gift card to the same place that we had never used.

Tonight was our first dinner there armed with $650 worth of gift cards. I'll admit we went a bit overboard in ordering since the meal wasn't costing us a penny. The tab came to $342 plus $64 for the tip for a total of $406. That leaves us a $244 balance on the gift card for next time. That may not fully cover dinner for 4 but we can tone it down next time around so it should cover most of it. I don't mind paying a bit out of pocket.

The meal was fabulous, though. I know to a lot of people, a $100 meal is unimaginable but just trust me when I say it was worth it. From the cocktails to the appetizers to the entrees to the desserts, everything was top notch including the service. We loved it and our friends loved it. We don't get to spend time with them often so we really enjoyed the company as well.

We haven't set up the next dinner yet. We have to decide who we want to go with and then find a date that works for all of us.

Electric meter update

January 24th, 2020 at 09:36 pm

I called the utility company today and explained my concern with the sharply higher electricity usage compared to last year. The rep asked if we had any space heaters, electric fireplaces, etc. I said we do have a space heater but it's the same one we've had for years. I also explained that we recently got a new dishwasher which is more efficient than the one it replaced and that we've also installed several LED lights so our usage should be lower.

She set up an appointment for our meter to be replaced early next month. They will analyze the old meter and if they find a discrepancy, we'll be credited accordingly. If they find no issues, then our bill will remain as is. But there's no cost to having the meter replaced so we really have nothing to lose. I figure it's worth a shot.

I'll post an update when I have one.

Fixed the toilet - again

January 23rd, 2020 at 01:47 am

One of our toilets was taking forever to fill. It wasn't running. It wasn't leaking. It just was filling really slowly. My wife finally asked if I could fix it so a couple of weeks ago, I stopped at Home Depot and picked up a new fill valve assembly and installed it. Everything seemed fine. It was working properly and filling in a normal amount of time.

Then 2 days ago DW texts me at work and says the toilet is running and she opened the back and the water level was rising over the top of the drain tube. I talked her through a couple of things to try but nothing helped. The only thing I can figure is that the fill valve I installed was defective and had a leak somewhere so the water flow wasn't cutting off when the tank was full.

I had to work all day yesterday so couldn't do anything about it until today (which I'm sure our next water bill will reflect). I went and got another new fill valve assembly, took out the first one, and installed the new one. I also went and replaced the flapper while I was at it. It wasn't leaking but it was pretty old.

So far, everything seems fine, but that was true last time too. Hopefully it will continue to be okay. I just have to get back to Home Depot to return the first one.

Of course, in the process of doing all of this, I discovered that the water shut off valve to the toilet doesn't work. I had to turn off the main water supply to the house to fix the toilet. I got a plumber referral from a friend and will call them at some point to come install a new valve. That's a little beyond my DIY skill set.

Broken electric meter?

January 21st, 2020 at 08:00 pm

It recently occurred to me that there might be something wrong with our electric meter. The utility bill shows how much our electricity and gas usage is compared to the same month a year ago. The gas usage is sometimes higher, sometimes lower, but I've realized the electricity usage is always higher, sometimes 10 or 12% but sometimes 50 or 60% higher. This was actually happening last year but I attributed it to DD being back living at home and not away at college.

There's no way we can be using 60% more electricity than a year ago though. Nothing has changed in our house. It's been the same 3 people. The only new appliance we've gotten, and that was just a couple of months ago, was a dishwasher and the new one should be a lot more efficient than the 15-year-old one it replaced. Every other appliance is the same.

I'm going to call the utility company and see if they can send someone out to check our meter. We've had it for a long time so maybe it needs to be replaced.

Extra help at work; Free dinner out

January 19th, 2020 at 02:12 pm

They finally gave us extra help at work. We now have 2 providers for 4 hours per day on Monday, Friday, and weekends. It definitely helped yesterday as we saw 22 patients from 9-1 which I couldn't possibly have kept up with by myself. Now I just have to hope the volumes support adding a 2nd person on the remaining 3 days of the week since I work Tuesday and Thursday by myself.

We went out to dinner last night to a place we like. The restaurant sent out an email yesterday morning with a $10 off deal one day only. I'm guessing they thought business might be light due to bad weather, or maybe that was just a coincidence and they were going to send that offer anyway.

In addition to the $10 off, I had a $20 gift card that we got as a bonus for buying a $75 gift card last month. Finally, I hadn't yet used the $100 gift card my staff gave me as a holiday present. I think we ended up using about half of that card.

The storm didn't do much here. We got a dusting of snow and some sleet but it wasn't bad and the temp was back in the upper 30s this morning so nothing froze over night.

Paid our property taxes

January 15th, 2020 at 12:34 am

I realized yesterday that we have not yet gotten the property tax bill. I was sure the payment is due February 1 so it seems awfully late to have not received it yet.

I posted a question in our town's Facebook group today and others confirmed that the bills haven't gone out yet. Someone mentioned that there is a 10-day grace period so you really don't have to pay until 2/11, but I don't play those games. I pay before the stated due date, and typically when I get the bill so it doesn't actually get misplaced or forgotten.

Someone also mentioned that you could pay online and that the bills were already posted. I figured there'd be some convenience fee for online payment that I wouldn't want to pay, but I checked anyway. Turns out that the e-check fee is only $0.99. Since a stamp is $0.55, that means it would only cost an extra 44 cents to pay online and be done with it, not to have to write a check, and have immediate confirmation that my payment was processed. No chance of it getting lost in the mail or anything like that. So I went ahead just now and made the payment. Yes, I paid 2 weeks before I had to, but it's done and I no longer have to think about it - until April.

I'm glad they made the convenience fee so reasonable. It's worth 44 cents to me for sure.

Sort of a DIY fail

January 12th, 2020 at 04:03 pm

This isn't entirely a fail, and it is in no way my fault, but I kind of feel like I wasted my money.

A year or so ago, we replaced the ceiling light fixture in our sitting room. We also put in dimmable LED bulbs. There was already a dimmer switch and I didn't change that.

We found that the lights were fine when at full brightness, but they flickered quite a lot when they were dimmmed, even going off momentarily and coming back on. I did some reading online and learned that older dimmer switches regulate the current differently and they aren't compatible with LED bulbs.

I went out yesterday and bought a new LED-commpatible dimmer switch and installed it today. It works okay but the lights still flicker. Not nearly as bad as they did. They don't actually go fully off and on like before. It's more of a constant minimal flicker which does seem to be a lot less annoying. We'll have to see how noticeable it is when it's dark outside and the fixture is the only light source.

I'm all in favor of switching to highly energy-efficient lighting but it does have some downsides and flickering is one of them. The LEDs I installed in our hallway flicker a lot too and those aren't on a dimmer. I've also found 3 fixtures in the house where LED bulbs wouldn't work at all and I had to stick with CFL or incandescent bulbs which was disappointing.

Worked an extra shift today

January 10th, 2020 at 11:43 pm

Last year, I pretty regularly picked up an extra shift, maybe once or twice a month. But I haven't done that for at least a few months. We hired a lot of new people so there haven't been nearly as many open shifts, and I was just kind of burnt out and didn't feel like working any more than I needed to.

Recently, I've been paying attention to the openings again. Two or three times in the past few weeks, we've gotten a text or e-mail saying they needed help last minute but every time I've either already been working or had personal plans. Yesterday we got a message that they needed help at one site from 1-5pm today. I was free, double checked with my wife, and took that shift.

I hadn't been to that site for ages, probably close to 2 years, so it was nice to go there and see everyone. It wasn't terribly busy which was also nice. And the other doc on with me is pretty new. We've met at meetings but I never really had any time to talk and get to know her.

And, of course, we get paid $140/hour for weekday per diem shifts so I made an extra $560 for giving up my afternoon. Not a bad deal all around.

Ten Years of Finances

January 3rd, 2020 at 02:59 pm

CCF suggested this idea and I thought it would be fun. Post a comparison of where you were 10 years ago and where you are now, and talk about what happened in the interim. So here goes.

12/31/09: Total financial assets (not including home)

12/31/19: Total financial assets (not including home)

12/31/09 Mortgage balance: $92,285.99
12/31/19 Mortgage balance: $0.00

So our net worth went up by $1,026,044.29.

Major financial events of the last 10 years, and I'm probably forgetting some

Bought my car in 2012, paid off in 2013
Bought my wife's van in 2013, paid off in 2016

Daughter attended college 2014-2018, all loans by her and us have been repaid

Paid off mortgage in 2019; now totally debt-free

Began a job transition in April 2016 that was completed in November 2017 and now earn more than double what I made at the old job

I think those are the real biggies. Obviously, lots of smaller things, car repairs, home repairs, travel, medical expenses, and all of the other normal stuff. It's pretty powerful to look back like that.