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February updates

February 20th, 2022 at 12:42 am

Things are cruising along reasonably well. I've adjusted well to working part time. At first it didn't seem much different. It took me a few weeks to adjust my schedule and stop feeling like I had to cram things into the 3 days I was off since I now have a whole 4th day free. Plus 2 days a week I don't go in until 1pm so I've got those mornings free now too.

Still, I'm constantly running the numbers to see when it is reasonable for me to drop to per diem and just work when I want to. I'm thinking that if I can pick up at least enough shifts to earn what we will be spending on health insurance, that would be perfect.

I'm not sure if I mentioned this in my blog (I know I've talked about it on the forums) but my wife developed back trouble at the end of October so we've been dealing with that. She's had 3 epidural injections and is having facet joint injections on Friday. She's better than she was but still nowhere near normal. Because of that, I don't really want to switch insurance plans now, which we'd need to do if I stopped working part time. We could do COBRA but that's super expensive so not really a good option. Hopefully, things will turn around over the next few months and she'll be better so switching coverage won't be a big concern anymore.

I've been much more active on ebay, which was my intent when I started working less. I currently have 72 items listed (plus 10-20 on Marketplace). Just this morning, for the first time in a long time, I bought some stuff to resell from an estate sale. While we still have plenty of stuff in the house for me to sell, I also know that if I want ebay to become a meaningful source of retirement income, I'm going to need to buy stock. I spent $14 today on 6 items that should bring in $100 or more. We shall see.

We have a cruise booked for August so we're hoping both that COVID is under control and that DW is physically able to do it.

I'm taking our tax stuff to the CPA on Tuesday. This year is complicated as it's our normal personal return, a final return for my cousin, and an estate return. I have no idea what that will all look like, if we'll owe, if we'll get money back, or what. So I kind of feel like I'm in limbo at the moment as far as making any big financial decisions until that's all done and I know where we stand.

Plenty of other things happening, but that's enough for now.

Florida house sold, portfolio update, odds and ends

August 19th, 2021 at 01:13 am

The Florida house did close on 8/10 as scheduled. All went pretty smoothly. I had to run around a bit to get the paperwork notarized and sent back but that was minor.

Final result was me walking away with $477,203.26. It went into the estate account for now. I'll get it once the probate period ends in early October. There's now over $547,000 in that account.

That means that our overall portfolio now stands at over $3.1 million. That's well above where I thought we'd be with the inheritance. I had estimated we'd be around $2.7 or 2.8 million but the inheritance ended up being more than I thought plus the ongoing stock market returns have pushed up the value of what we already had as well as the value of the money I inherited that was invested in equities.

That estate account, however, has pushed our cash allocation to about 23% right now and our stocks down to 51% with the remaining 27% in bonds.

I'm working on fixing that. I can't do anything about the 540K in the estate account yet but I'm reallocating the money that is in our control, namely the inherited traditional IRA. I started moving 10K/week from bonds to stocks but realized that would take forever, so today I moved 50K and will do that every week for the next couple of months. That will get us to about 57% stock. Then the estate account will get distributed to me and I'll be able to invest that to get the asset allocation where I ultimately want it.

No word yet on when my part time status will begin. We're actually short staffed at work right now so it's very possible they will hold me to my contract, meaning I'll remain full time until December 1. I'm hoping they can find a way to get me part time before that but I'm not complaining as I completely understand I'm bound by the contract.

We go to Florida 3 weeks from today for a big fundraising event and convention. We're not thrilled about traveling in the midst of the COVID surge but we've decided we're just going to do it and take precautions as much as possible.

Updates: estate, job, etc.

August 7th, 2021 at 11:34 pm

It's been over a month since my last entry. Time for an update.

I did return to Florida where I spent about 2 more weeks finishing up. Donated a bunch more stuff. Got the house ready to sell. Met with the realtor. A guy who lives in the neighborhood and knew my cousin had a sister in NY interested in the house. I had her and a couple of others excluded from the realtor contract. She flew down to see the house while we were there (my wife joined me partway through) and made a cash offer for just over our asking price. We're on track to close on Tuesday as far as I know.

We rented a truck and packed up a bunch of stuff that we wanted to bring home and drove back 7/14-7/15. I returned to work on 7/17.

Work has been nuts thanks to COVID and the fact that they closed one of our 8 sites at the end of May. At my primary site, we've had several days where we've seen over 70 patients which is a lot. 50s to 60ish had been the norm. We all can't wait for COVID to settle down but this particular location is also in an area with high anti-vax sentiment and "free-dumb" folks. Even a number of the staff members are anti-vax which just drives me nuts. How can you be on the front line of the pandemic seeing COVID patients every single day and still not see the value in the vaccine? Thankfully, our job has made the vaccine mandatory. We must be fully vaccinated by September 15. A bunch of people have quit as a result, though I'm not sure where they're planning to go since most other health systems are doing the same thing, but at least I won't be stuck with them anymore.

Big news on the job front is that I officially gave notice to drop to part time. I don't have an effective date yet. My contract requires 120 days notice so it could be as late as December 1. They handle that on a case by case basis so it could be before that. I know they have per diem providers waiting for hours to open up so if they can fill my spot easily, they might let me out of the contract early.

I'll go from 36 hours to 24. I'll still have medical benefits but at a slightly higher rate (about $70/month). And I'll still have the option of picking up extra hours whenever I'd like based on availability. I'll definitely do that for a while because I owe them about 80 hours. My leave of absence used up all of my PTO but we have a couple of trips planned in the fall that I'm still taking so I have to make up that time. Also, if I pick up 4 hours a week, I'd make some extra money and still be doing 8 hours less than I had been. One nice thing, hopefully, is that I won't be working 12-hour days anymore. I requested three 8-hour shifts for my 24 hour week.

Hopefully, the house closes as scheduled on Tuesday. That will be the last big piece of the estate. Then I just have to wait for the probate process to end in early October before the funds can be distributed to me.

I've been staying active listing stuff on ebay since a lot of what came home from Florida is items I wanted to sell. I've got about a dozen listings going and have already sold several. Little by little, I'll work through it all. Once I go part time, I plan to devote more time to the sales.

I think that's about it for now.

Heading back to Florida

July 4th, 2021 at 12:10 am

I'm flying back down to Florida on Monday. The plan is to finish cleaning out the house, get rid of most of the furniture, and pack up everything that needs to come home with us. I was thinking about replacing some carpet but might not be able to accomplish that on short notice. At the very least, I'd like to have the carpet cleaned if possible.

I also want to meet with the realtor to go over the process moving forward, sign with him officially, and see if he has any other advice to get the house ready to put on the market.

My wife is then going to fly down on Saturday to help me finish up. The following Tuesday we're renting a truck (already reserved). We'll pack it up and hit the road for home Wednesday morning and should get home Thursday evening.

The one possible complication is Tropical Storm/Hurricane Elsa. I'm hoping it doesn't interfere with my flight on Monday. Time will tell.

I go back to work on 7/17 so if any further stuff requires me being down, I'll have to fly down on one of my weekends off since I'm out of PTO at this point. Hopefully between some friends in the development and the realtor, that won't be necessary.

Beginning to deal with cousin's estate

May 23rd, 2021 at 07:03 pm

Now that the funeral is behind us, it's time to start dealing with everything needed to settle his estate. I'm expecting to leave for Florida Tuesday morning and get there Wednesday night (I'm driving).

Until I have death certificates, I can't address any of the financial stuff, so I'll start cleaning out the house, getting rid of trash, shredding unneeded papers, donating clothing and other items, etc. Once I have the certificates, I can start closing credit cards and bank accounts and getting assets transferred into my name. I will schedule a meeting with his attorney and give his financial advisor a call. I've already spoken to both of them. The advisor manages his retirement accounts and I'm the beneficiary so that stuff should be simple. No probate needed. Other stuff has to go through probate.

I got the first tiny piece of the inheritance - he had $85 cash in his wallet. Woo hoo.

Also in his wallet are two gift cards that they get as part of their HOA dues in his community. They are good at the clubhouse cafe (which has been closed for COVID) and at one local restaurant. I checked the balances and between the two of them, there's over $190 credit. I guess I know where I'll be eating regularly when I get down there.

I have a lot of work ahead of me and I'm sure some of it will be emotionally difficult, especially dealing with some of the more personal items, but I'll work my way through day by day. I'll be there by myself so I won't really have any distractions. I figure in the mornings, I'll start in the garage and crawlspace before the temperature heats up for the day. Once it's too warm, I'll focus on the inside stuff - clothing, kitchen, home office files, etc. The thrift shop where everything will be donated is just a few minutes away so I'm sure I'll be making multiple trips there. They will pick up but I'll save that for big items like furniture. I'm certainly capable of hauling bags of clothing and small household items over there myself, plus it will give me a reason to get out.

I suspect I'll be blogging more going forward so I'll update as I have new info.

General updates - home, family, work

May 5th, 2021 at 06:49 pm

Home: We haven't needed to do the plumbing repair I mentioned previously. Actually the pipe doesn't seem to be leaking anymore. I know sometimes when you first repair a pipe it takes a couple of days for everything to settle and there can still be a slight drip until it does. So far, so good.

However, we were waiting for a siding contractor to come out and repair a minor issue on the side of our garage. Well, that took a bit too long. Friday night there was a bad windstorm and it ripped about 1/3 of the siding off the wall. We were out of town but I was able to get a friend to come over, clean up the mess, and drive in a few nails to stabilize the remaining siding. Now we're waiting for the siding guy to come out and replace the whole wall.

The reason we were away last week is that we were in Florida visiting/helping my cousin who is dying. He is not doing well and will probably pass relatively soon. We got home care started to go along with hospice which I had set up when I was there in February. We came home on Sunday but we're already talking about having my wife go back down and stay there until the end whenever that may be. Once he dies, I'm going to take a leave of absence for a couple of months to clean out and sell the house and settle his affairs.

Work is going okay. The site where I work is closing at the end of the month and I will be moving to a new location. I'm not thrilled about that but it does have some advantages. The biggest one is that I'll be at a 2 provider site instead of working alone. That will be a nice change. And a lot of days, I'll end up seeing fewer patients. The new site is busier but not more than twice as busy as my current site. So for example, I might see 26 patients in a day while they see 42, meaning each provider sees about 21. And it's just nice to not be alone and actually be able to take a 10 minute break for lunch or dinner instead of having to squeeze something in between patients. I'll start at the new site on May 31.

Not too much else happening. A number of things are kind of in a holding pattern pending my cousin passing. Both personal plans and financial stuff (I'll be getting an inheritance when he dies).

So that's about it for now.

Dealing with the impending death of a loved one

February 4th, 2021 at 01:59 am

My cousin, who has been like a brother to me, was diagnosed with cancer about 3 years ago. From the start, we knew it was inoperable/incurable. He has done a few rounds of chemo and a course of radiation and he has actually done extremely well... until just recently. His last scan showed that the last chemo just didn't work and the cancer progressed. He still felt fine, though, which was great. However, over the past few weeks, he has started to decline and have obvious symptoms to indicate that the cancer is taking over.

We don't know how much longer he has but I suspect it won't be terribly long. One tough thing is that we're in NJ and he's in FL. That would be hard enough anyway and it's just worsened by the pandemic. It's not so easy to just fly down there to see him for a few days because we really should quarantine for 2 weeks after we get there. I'm already fully vaccinated but that still doesn't mean I couldn't transmit COVID to him. We're still deciding what to do and when. If his condition declines and he needs help, we'll just do what we need to because COVID really won't matter at that point. He's dying anyway.

There is a big financial piece to this story, too. I am the executor and sole beneficiary of his estate. Whenever he does die, I'm going to have to go down there for a while to settle his affairs, sell his cars, clean out and sell his house, etc.

I already notified my lead physician about this and she was super understanding and said not to worry at all about my shifts or coverage issues. She would handle all of that, even if I need to leave with no notice. Today she sent me the link to the leave of absence info for when I need to do that. I have no idea how long it will take to settle everything but I would think at least a month if everything moves quickly.

I reached out to our CPA as well just to give him a heads up that I'd be needing him to handle the estate tax filings. I'm trying to get as many ducks in a row as I can before I actually need them.

The emotional part sucks. The fact that he's going to die before my 90-year-old mother, who considers him like a son to her, really sucks. And she really wishes she could go down there but by her own admission she's really not up to it. We'll probably have to take her down for a few days at least just so she can see him one more time, which is going to be incredibly difficult for everyone. The whole thing just sucks.

Hug your loved ones. But also have a plan. Make sure your family/executor/heirs know what you have and where it is and how to access it. Make sure they know your wishes. My cousin and I sat down about 2 years ago and reviewed his entire situation, every account, the house, his cars, valuables, etc. so at least after he's gone, I won't be trying to piece it all together. I've even already been in touch with his financial adviser just so we could introduce ourselves and share contact info for when I need it.

Not really much else to say at this point.

YTD spending update. Wow!

August 19th, 2020 at 06:07 pm

I was going to wait until the end of the month to look at this but I happened to check today. We're almost 2/3 of the way through 2020. It's remarkable how much of an impact COVID has had on our spending.

In 2019, our average monthly spending came to $6,657 or $79,884 for the entire year.

So far in 2020, our average monthly spending is only about $5,190. Extrapolated out for 12 months that will be just $62,280, almost $18,000 less than last year.

I haven't sat down and really dug into the numbers but just on the surface, the biggest chunk of the savings has got to be from the lack of travel. Number two would be the lack of dining out.

We have started dining out again since NJ opened for outdoor dining at the end of June but we're still doing way less than previously. It's been too darn hot to eat out most of the time. As the weather starts to get a little more moderate, we'll probably go out more so our spending will pick up a bit, but we'll still be way off last year's numbers. And travel isn't resuming anytime soon, certainly not in 2020.

I know the sharp drop is temporary but it's still nice to have that extra cash to stuff into savings.

Another COVID cancellation

May 22nd, 2020 at 03:19 pm

I was planning to attend a medical conference in St. Louis in early July. I booked the hotel months ago. I realized that I haven't heard anything about the status of the convention itself so I went to their website last night and sure enough it has been cancelled.

I checked my saved email and it turns out that while I had made the hotel reservation, I had never actually registered for the convention which is why I didn't get a cancellation notice. Makes sense.

I went on and cancelled the hotel stay this morning. Fortunately, I had the good sense to not book airfare in advance so I don't have the hassle of having to cancel that.

Looks like I'll have a little staycation in July. No reason to cancel my PTO. I have more PTO than I will likely use this year anyway. I might as well use it. Hopefully by July we'll at least be able to do something fun with some of that time, even just a day trip or two. Who knows at this point?

Booking a trip for October 2021

May 21st, 2020 at 06:50 pm

We love to travel but we are not major planners. We rarely plan our Disney World trips more than 3 months in advance and rarely plan other trips any farther out than that. We might know when and where we want to go but don't usually make all of the plans far in advance.

The only exception is when we're attending a specific event like a convention or something like that.

Disney World's 50th anniversary is October 1, 2021. Disney opens room-only bookings 499 days in advance, which was just a couple of days ago. I hadn't made note of the booking date but fortunately a friend posted on Facebook this morning that he made his reservation. I immediately e-mailed our travel agent to book us a room. I'm waiting to hear back. It will be stupidly expensive but we've said for years that we want to be there for the anniversary and stay at the Contemporary hotel so that we can walk in to the park and not have to deal with any transportation. Hopefully it hasn't already sold out.

Expensive week but fun

December 14th, 2019 at 02:11 am

It turned out to be an expensive few days, some of which was anticipated and some that wasn't.

Wednesday night we attended a whiskey tasting at a local liquor store that we go to regularly. In addition to the tasting, they held a raffle for the right to purchase 1 of 11 different hard to find bottles. My wife won one and I won one so we came home with 2 bottles at $100 and $150. Not something we were expecting but we'll get to enjoy them for months to come.

Yesterday and today we were in NYC. That was a planned trip for my wife's birthday which is next week. We had bought show tickets a few months ago. Of course, there were also travel costs (though the hotel was free on reward points), meals, and some incidental spending. We also ended up at a piano bar last night after the show which ran us another $107 in addition to the $130 for dinner, plus lunch yesterday and today, parking, etc. Worth every penny though as we had a great time.

Fortunately, it's all stuff we can comfortably afford to do while still meeting all of our investing goals and remaining debt-free.

December update

December 9th, 2019 at 01:38 am

Not much new going on. Everything is cruising along nicely which is good.

I've sold a couple of items on Facebook Marketplace recently. It definitely has advantages over Ebay and I've used it to get rid of some things that have been sitting around or a while, including things that I tried unsuccessfully to sell on Ebay. The fact that there's no shipping cost helps a lot. That's what makes it hard to sell lower priced items online.

I maxed out my 401k a month or so ago so for the last couple of paychecks, I took the money that would have gone to that and put it into our Vanguard account instead. I did the full amount even though I was doing it with after-tax dollars. We have one more paycheck in December and then the 401k funding will resume, plus they upped the limit $1,000 for 2020 so it'll take a bit longer to max it.

We took advantage of the Target gift card sale today and bought $600 worth at 10% off. Last week we bought gift cards for one of our favorite restaurants. If you bought $75 they gave you an extra $20. We go there about once a month so that'll save us a bit. And yesterday I paid our auto insurance bill through PayPal with our Chase Freedom Visa which has 5% cashback on PayPal purchases this quarter. That saved me $63. $60 from Target, $20 from the restaurant, and $63 from the insurance. All of those things can really add up over time. Oh, and we bought $300 of the Target cards with our Discover card that has 5% back at Target this quarter though we're not sure if that includes gift card purchases. I'll have to wait and see.

My wife and I are going to NYC this week overnight and seeing a show. It's for her birthday. I booked the hotel on reward points so that's free. Of course the parking, dinner, and show aren't. Unfortunately, it looks like it will be very cold so we probably won't do much in the city. That's okay because I like wandering in the city much more than she does anyway.

I guess that's all the main stuff for now.

Credit card referral bonus

December 1st, 2019 at 09:12 pm

A few weeks back, someone on the forums mentioned looking at new credit cards. I suggested the one we have and they ended up signing up for it with my referral link so we got 20,000 bonus points. It's a Marriott card so that's at least 1 free night and maybe more depending on the hotel.

We scored a ton of Marriott points last month between travel, spending, a promotion they were having, and that bonus. All together in one month we earned just over 64,000 points. A typical hotel stay for us is 15,000 points so we earned more than 4 free nights last month alone. We are using points for one night in NYC in a couple of weeks but we really need to plan some other times to use points as we now have over 500,000 on our account.

Back from a short vacation

November 5th, 2019 at 05:26 pm

My wife and I spent Friday-Monday out of town in National Harbor, MD, just outside of Washington, DC. We had a nice time just relaxing and spending time together. I had booked a hotel package that included a full buffet breakfast every day (not like a Holiday Inn Express buffet but a full buffet). It also included a $50/day resort credit toward food and drinks.

First night we had dinner at a great Mexican restaurant there. We've eaten there numerous times and it remains one of favorite restaurants anywhere.

Saturday we did some shopping at the outlets in town. I picked up a new belt and several shirts. We had dinner at the hotel sports bar (with our credit) and then went over to the nearby casino. We both lost but it was fun. Went back to the sports bar for dessert and drinks.

Sunday we went across the river to Old Town Alexandria and strolled around the shops and waterfront area. There's a large art studio there and it's always interesting to check out what all of the artists are working on. Had lunch at a rustic Italian place. Went back to the hotel and hit the gym for our workout. Had dinner at a Western-themed spot just across the way from the hotel. And ended the night back at the hotel for drinks to use our credit for the day.

Yesterday, we had breakfast and then got packed up. Our daughter was actually at a convention in Arlington, VA, about 25 minutes away. She had taken Amtrak down on Thursday. We checked out and headed over there, picked her up, and we all drove home together.

All in all, a very nice getaway. Not cheap but I had planned it a couple of months ago as a little treat for paying off the mortgage. It was definitely well worth it.

Odds and ends

March 20th, 2019 at 10:55 pm

I said I'd try to blog more regularly so figured I actually need to post every couple of weeks.

I made our latest mortgage payment which brought our principal under the $10,000 mark. The end is near. I expect to pay it off in August most likely so that's exciting.

I haven't picked up any extra shifts at work the past week or two. I need to take a look at the schedule and pick up something in the coming weeks.

My wife and I are doing an overnight getaway this weekend. We're just going across the river into the city. There's a whiskey bar we've been wanting to try (we are big bourbon and whiskey fans). We didn't really care for their dinner menu so we're eating at a different place in the next block and planning to then go to the bar for drinks and dessert. The only problem with that is that we couldn't reserve a table just for that so we'll have to wait for space at the bar on a Saturday night. Hopefully around 6:30-7:00 it won't be too crazy yet. We're using a free hotel voucher for our stay. Just have to pay for parking.

Haven't done any decluttering lately. I'm hoping spring brings a nice weekend soon when I'm off and can start attacking the garage.

Need to start working on plans for our June trip to Dallas. The hotel was booked months ago but I haven't bought airfare yet. DW has been browsing the tourist sites looking for things to see and do when we're there.

I can't think of anything else of significance from the past couple of weeks so I'll stop there.

Happy Spring!

Vacation spending - Whoa! Way too much!

January 18th, 2018 at 07:38 pm

As I've been doing the year-end financial stuff, one thing I looked at was how much we ended up spending on travel. It was way too much, definitely something we need to rein in a bit going forward.

We had a great time and had some wonderful trips: a Caribbean cruise, three trips to Disney World, Phoenix and the Grand Canyon, Kentucky, and a few smaller trips.

Part of the problem is that on a couple of those trips, we stayed at much nicer hotels than we usually do when we travel. We have always been the type to stay on the outskirts of our destination where prices are lower and then drive or take public transit into the main part of town. With Phoenix, Grand Canyon, and Kentucky, we stayed right in the heart of everything. While it's great to be able to step out of your hotel and walk to shops and restaurants and attractions, you also pay a big premium for that convenience. Time to go back to the old way of doing things.

I was shocked to add it all up and realize that we spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $20,000 on travel between December 2016 and January 2018, so a little more than a year. Time to go back to choosing the hotels off the beaten track.

One good thing at least for 2018 is that we have a ton of Marriott Reward points. We easily have enough for 15 free nights. My goal for the year is to focus on using those whenever we can to help keep costs down. We did one free night just last weekend when we were driving home from Florida and stopped for the night so that probably saved us about $110.

Another thing is that my new job gives me a pretty generous continuing education allowance. So we will combine a vacation or two with conference time. That way the hotel and transportation costs will be covered by work. It means I'm tied up in classes for a lot of the time but I'll still have plenty of free time with my wife (and daughter if she is with us) to enjoy the local stuff.

College visitation tour

July 22nd, 2013 at 11:42 pm

We just got back from a week visiting a few colleges for our daughter who is a rising high school senior. Someone asked about it in another post on an unrelated topic but I thought I'd talk about it here in case others are interested.

Our daughter is interested in studying mechanical engineering. Prior to this week, we had attended an engineering open house at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in November and a general open house at Univ. of Virginia in April. She fell in love with RIT and it went right to #1 on her list. She didn't care for U. of VA and that got crossed off. It's just as important to know where you don't want to go so we were good with that.

This past week had us checking out 2 new schools and a return visit to RIT. We started in Troy, NY at Rensselaer Polytech. Great school, nice campus, but we just didn't feel it was a good fit. Kind of stuffy. Next was Univ. of Rochester. I knew nothing about the school and I was really blown away. Beautiful campus, great program, staff and students we interacted with were all very down to earth, friendly, had great senses of humor, and were clearly passionate about the school. DD didn't go into that visit expecting much and came away really liking it so it is staying on the list for sure.

Finally, it was back to RIT. Thursday and Friday was for a Woman in Engineering program and the Friday and Saturday was a College and Careers program (which also included an overnight stay in the dorms). There were parts of the programs that she found somewhat boring but overall, the 3 days there just cemented her love of the school and desire to go there.

There are still other schools on her list: Rutgers, Rowan, Lehigh, and more, but I doubt any will displace RIT from the top spot. Now we just have to hope she gets accepted - and figure out how to pay for it.