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I got the promotion!

August 14th, 2018 at 03:03 am

After a 90 minute interview last Thursday they called me on my drive home (same day) and offered me the position! I am now a second level program manager. Start date is a little floopy because I have two major projects I want to ensure are finished not leave my team hanging. So I start August 27 but am borrowed back by old program for about 4 weeks, leave for my two weeks of vacation, then start only that position October 3.

They offered the job and I asked for 3 days before they put it into the HR system to allow me time to tell my team myself and to give notice to my boss and boss above him. I was able to tell my team on Friday and the bosses too. So happy to be leaving.

Raise should be 5% minimum (state policy). It may be more as they can request it and I am not sure yet - we are discussing. I am keeping my estimates for take home salary the same until I get my first paycheck because we have a new deduction for health insurance in retirement that has to come out of paychecks now too so that is wrecking my estimates and the state hasn't updated the calculator employees can use to figure out paychecks yet.

Having to clean out my office after three years is a little hard. I still have boxes from the painting of the offices last fall (had to box up everything in the office for the painters). So I emptied two of those boxes today and have 6 more to look through. Then I need to look at the two small filing cabinets (4 drawers total) and pack my personal items.

I don't know what my office looks like. I hope to have a window because I 've been in an internal office for three years with only natural light for a couple hours a day through a small window by the door. I hope to see it this week to get an idea.

New roommate moves in on the 25th then immediately goes to Canada for work for a week. He also has a two week trip to south America for work in October completely opposite my trips. This job could have me traveling up to 80% of my time beginning in December-January because it is for recovery from emergencies. My plan is to live on the per diem the state pays ($46/day) and bank my paychecks as much as possible.
So we will see what happens when the travel starts.

I am excited and nervous because I have to develop position duty statements for 6 employees. This is a whole brand new unit never done before.

So...I have a promotion I have worked for years for! I could retire at this level but I do want to promote one more time. That would be the highest civil service position we have without being an appointed position and would be a great retirement. I hit my 20 in 6 years but that would put me at 50 to early to retire. So working to 58 means 28+ years of time. about 14 year to go.

weekend updates

August 6th, 2018 at 09:21 pm

Was a quiet weekend as I am house sitting for a long time client. She paid for the last sit (she forgot to send it) and the current sit before she left but miss counted and missed one night. I’ll follow up with her when she returns.

I did go home yesterday for most of the day so that I could get chores done – laundry mostly but also some outside work while still cool and less smoky. I did clean out three drawers in the kitchen and moved silverware, towels, and miscellaneous items into new drawers in preparation for the new roommate. I still need to tackle the pantry, freezer, and the garage (recycling, moving some things into new areas, making better space for the lawn mower, clearing out his small storage area, etc.). My sister may be moving into a new apartment so she could be taking all the stuff from the garage to the new place which would open up quite a bit of space.

I still need to cut the grass but was not feeling up to it yesterday. I am still getting over the vertigo luckily, the front yard is still looking great. It is getting long in the back but looks fuller. I am not sure why the front isn’t growing like the back; I may mulch instead of bag the front yard area when I cut it next Sunday and see if that helps – more nitrogen and food as it decomposes.

I spent around $18 in cash and $20 in a gift card for pizza and salad on Saturday. It turned into three meals so that was nice. No spending yesterday.
I slept poorly last night so am very tired today. The dog was restless all night keeping me up. Tonight I may use earplugs and certainly go to bed early. I also have a drop in for a client after work for a cat and some watering.

I have a second interview for a promotion on Thursday and a doctor appointment so I am taking the whole day off. Interview is in the afternoon so I have some time to relax and prepare after the doctor in the morning.

I was looking at my schedule for the next couple of months for house sitting, work travel, and vacation. I have 4 pet sitting nights next week, a Labor Day weekend sit, a business trip starting September 16th and return on the 18th. I leave on the 19th for a week in Canada (on a 6 am flight so I cannot have any plane trouble coming home for work trip the night before or I will be driving home from So Cal! A wedding September 29th out of town, and then a few dates of house sitting in October. I am hoping for an extra $1000 in the next couple of months.

House sitting gig next week

August 3rd, 2018 at 03:22 am

Found out the vertigo is an inner ear infection. Now on antibiotics.

Have a house sitting gig beginning Saturday through the next weekend. Hoping this will but down on my ac here at my house. I am dreading this next bill because it has been so hot and not cooling down at night. The past two nights have been blissfully cool in the morning. I try to sleep with the windows open so the cool air comes in.

Room mate will sign lease tomorrow. Work intefered with signing it before - lots of fires in California right now.

Planning to take recycling over on Saturday. I have 12 bags! It is always a horrible thing to stand in line but the cash back is nice. I only do it once a year or so though.

Sick Time

August 1st, 2018 at 07:35 pm

What do people who don't have sick time do? They still go to work, get sicker, take longer to recover. I am glad that I have sick time because while the cold is better the vertigo in my inner ears is worse. Crystals on the fine hair of the inner ear affect the balance of the body. I believe I have an inner ear infection of something because I've had low level of vertigo for several weeks. Seeing doctor later.

Payday was yesterday so I will need to pay bills later today.

Still Sick; Came home from work

July 31st, 2018 at 12:53 am

I am still sick. I went into work for a couple of hours then left to come home.

I did a quick grocery shop since I had nothing for lunches for work this week or breakfast. Also bought 2 bottles of vodka to make vanilla for Christmas gifts this year. I ordered grade b vanilla beans (better to make vanilla than grade a) and am waiting for them to arrive. A quick slice down the middle drop into the vodka and let sit for 5 months a viola yummy vanilla for baking. I already have the bottles and red ribbon.

I came home, put away groceries and then slept for 3+ hours. Obviously not feeling well.

I have to go and do a cat drop in sit and water a yard for a my friend (and now client for three weeks). I haven't ear marked the payment yet-need to figure out what I would like to do with it. It may just go into savings for a little while.

I need to trim two plants in my front yard tonight that are blocking the sprinkler heads from two areas of the yard. That is my only goal for today. I need to go to work tomorrow for at least the morning so early to bed. Oh and to put away 3 loads of laundry. I would honestly pay someone to put away the laundry - I never get it completely away.

Weekend Update

July 30th, 2018 at 12:26 am

I didn't have many plans this weekend - just cleaning up the garage, the pantry, and organizing several kitchen cabinets to make space for the renter.

Unfortunately I've picked up a cold someplace and feel horrible. Summer colds are the worst especially when it is over 100 degrees. Today it was only 89 but I suspect that is partly because of the smoke in the air from the two fires closest to me the Redding Carr fire and the Yosemite Ferguson fire. Air quality is bad.

I did work on tax paperwork for the first 7 months of the year. Getting the expenses entered into the spreadsheet and categorized feels good to have so much done. I have about 15 receipts left to do but I am exhausted today. I took an almost 3 hour nap (not fully asleep but not completely awake either.)

I didn't go grocery shopping so I am trying to figure out what to do for breakfast and lunch tomorrow. I may gather enough energy to go to store for eggs and something for lunch but that would mean also taking a shower and I just don't have the energy.

I am happy I got the tax work done yesterday and mostly rested today. Also no AC today so saving some money! The AC had run daily for about 3 weeks. I am happy I have a house sit beginning on the 4th for a week and can turn it off for the week+. My bill is going to be high - this one usually is the highest of the year - but not due until September.

I had two people come out to trim back my hedges in the front and back yards this morning. The gardener usually did it but I needed them cut down so I could reach them. They were over my head and it was not possible for me to cut them. I used Takl the chore company. It took them about 2 hours for cutting all the hedges and taking the scrap away for the dump. It was $100, yard looks much better and I can keep them maintained as they begin to grow again. It looks odd so I may let them grow a bit higher as long as I can reach them to trim them.

Being sick means a really quiet weekend and it was nice.

life updates

July 26th, 2018 at 05:31 pm

Found a roommate! He comes by this evening to sign the lease. He will start to move in August 25th. His first month’s partial rent will go toward several things I’d like to do to the house and a few supplies we are running low on (laundry detergent, cheap printer ink, etc.) Beginning in September all will go toward debt (and a small portion toward utilities).

Plumber stood me up on Monday. I took the day off and they never showed. Let my warranty company know I was very angry that this occurred. Suddenly received a text message that a plumber would be there an hour later (4 hours after the end of the wait time). I called and said he maybe there but I am out to dinner with my family for my birthday. He was mad. I laughed and said don’t even tell me about being mad! They tried to get me to pay the service fee. I laughed. I will not take another day off and the warranty company needs to find someone who can work Saturday between 9-1.

Locks changed in the bedrooms. It is a legal requirement for renter to have his own lock. Slowly I will change out all the door handles in the house from brass to silver. I think I counted 9 that have to be changed out but they are only $12 each.

Will have to clean out the pantry shelves, the kitchen cabinets, and the garage storage area for the new renter. Room and bath are already cleaned and will be again before he moves in. Youngish mid 20’s I think. Seems like a nice guy and all his references came back as super trustworthy.

Got called for the interview for the position I really want. I’ve been told by two friends on that side of the house that it is mine to lose. My name keeps popping up in meetings “She can take care of that when she is here” kind of discussions. I know the program better than anyone. I was told that I knocked the last two interview processes out of the park. I’ve been told that by each of the committee members at the lower two panels and one on the highest. I totally understand they promoted from within for the others. I want this one and I want out of where I am! And if it would allow travel for the project I could actually save quite a bit of money because I would live on the travel per diem. That would be nice!

I still hate cutting the grass. If I get this job and have to travel a lot (50%+) I may find someone to cut the grass every other week or so.

Bought travel insurance for the trip to Canada in September in case I need to cancel the trip for some reason but I know if I get the new job they will honor the time off – it’s been requested for almost a year and I am traveling out of the country.
UFM did not happen with buying the couches and some work I needed to do for having the renter move in. But that is life and all the work if a write off so eventually I’ll get it back next spring.

Some updates

July 11th, 2018 at 07:37 pm

WOW. So much going on.

I sold the leather couches I bought 18 months ago from a house sitting client for more than I paid and was able to buy a new Ikea corner sectional and ottoman (ektorp) for the family room. I wanted a really nice couch but since I am sill interviewing roommate potentials I decided having really nice furniture will have to wait for when I am debt free and no longer having roommates. It took me 5 hours to put together the sectional and tear own the boxes on Sunday. 5 hours! And most of that time was getting it unboxed.

Roommate interviews continue. These people are crazy. One wanted me to have all guests only use the master bathroom so she could have a private bath. One offered $1600 to rent the master bedroom (mortgage is only $1450 so that would be nice) but if the average 1 bedroom apartment is $1000 a month why not get your own space? She had really bad credit and 80k in cc debt. So...nope. Several came smelling of pot and while legal I am a non-smoking non drug property as said in the ad so...nope. One was a great match and we were moving forward and then he was diagnosed with cancer so he decided to go back to his parents. I have three more this week that look good on paper. I am asking for $700 a month ($500 rent and $200 utilities.)

I fired my gardener and bought a lawn mower with the extra money in my utilities account. Because it is so hot the grass is not growing fast so cutting it twice a month seems good. I bought loppers and cut down the miniature peach tree. I also plan to cut down the 4 hedges I have that are over 6 feet to make them about 3.5 feet. Easier to maintain because right now I could not. I fired them because they raised their rates, brought in a new crew and they did not do anything I asked, ate lunch on my patio (I was fine with this) but they left their trash – three weeks in a row. I showed the owner the video tape and he still claimed it was not them – hello – they walked away and went back to work and left their trash all over my patio table. Nope. Done.

I have a new budget with the renter income planned so I know what is going to be paid off first. If I rented a room for 4.5 years all cc debt and student loans are paid off. Then I would save more toward retirement and toward paying off the house. I could have the house paid off around 58-60 which is when I want to retire so that would be nice.

I did not get the two jobs I interviewed for (made to third interviews though)but they promoted from within so that is good. I was asked to apply to several other promotional positions – which I’ve done now waiting for interviews. I really hope one of them comes through. With the state pension it would be beneficial, the extra income is nice, one has me traveling about half time so I would save money by living on the travel per diem which is great. I would have to close the house and pet sitting business though because emergency travel could occur at any time. I’ve significantly cut back on my house sitting the past two years and only work with a few favorite clients. They trust me and know my back up person is my sister or mom but I think it is time to close until I retire.

Going to a friends wedding in Canada this fall. Friends got me a studio in their time share for $550 for the week. The cheapest hotel in this area at the time of the wedding was $250/night. The hotel where the wedding will be held is $600/night American for the room so $550 for the week is great! We will cook breakfast and pack lunches and only have dinners out. We've planned some activities during the week but will play it by ear to see what else comes up. All this was money already saved in my vacation account. Amazon will deliver our food to the timeshare place the day we arrive - great service! We are each putting in $50 for food for breakfast and lunches and snacks (There are 4 of us staying at the same resort.) We've planned the meals already and who is responsible for cooking breakfast for 4 mornings. One morning is the wedding and that has a brunch right after and the last day is breakfast out as a wedding party then we fly home the next day. Looking forward to two weeks off at this time: one for the wedding and one after the wedding.


April 3rd, 2018 at 03:00 am

Turned on the sprinkler system yesterday to check how it was working since it was turned off in October and to wet the grass to apply some grass builder. Had issues with one sprinkler head broken off, one area said it was watering but nothing was coming out and one area gave me an error message.

Called the sprinkler guy today and made an appointment for Friday. Then he called this afternoon saying he was only a mile away could he look at it today. Raced home at 3 and he fixed it all. There goes my house maintenance savings for the month! But at least the money was there and it was an easy fix. No more house issues please!

April Paycheck

April 1st, 2018 at 09:16 pm

I get paid once a month. Current paycheck for April is divided this way:
Mortgage 1458.15
Sewer bill 65
Water 65
Garbage 41.88
Spending 200
Electric 72.04
Gas 49.13
Cell 96.64
IRA 25
Groceries 275
Gardener 65
House clean 80 (sister she needs the income but won’t just take it)
Car gas 140
cable/internet 179.27
Netflix 10.99 14.99
Clothing 30
Personal 20
Debt 65
CC (in full) 28
Debt 600
Cc (in full) 563.58

Car insurance 125
car repairs 100
College 50
House repair 50
Utility 12 (amount under budget increases when no heat & ac)
Healthclub dues 9 (99/year)
Health HAS 15
Vacation 50.02
Glasses 50.01
Gifts 100

Preping for the promotion exam. One down and passed rank 1; one more to go.

Daily update

March 22nd, 2018 at 09:33 pm

I received my state tax return of 1300+. I put 1000 toward the cc debt and kept about 300 for future spending I know is coming.

I received $394.98 for travel reimbursements – parking and mileage to meetings for work. I put that toward my car maintenance savings making it $1912. I am still waiting on another $125 in reimbursements for parking and mileage that will go to this account.
I also save $100 a month to this account from my pay check and 5% of any house and pet sitting income.

Need to do some grocery shopping. I only picked up a few things on Sunday to make it through the week.

I am housesitting for a client next week for the week. That is $352 I will put in the bank for a short time until I run the numbers for the rest of the year. I think I know of all expenses that may pop up during the rest of the year but I will double check this weekend. It may stay in savings for a short time or go to the zero interest credit card debt.

My two sliding glass door screen doors are being repaired this week. $105 for both plus a window screen, and pick-up/drop off. I tried doing it myself but I have NO patience for this sort of work. Mentally it was better to find someone to do it. And several friends asked for recommendations so this will help them, too, if they do a good job. It was much cheaper than replacing two odd sized doors.

Busy preparing for the interviews and prepping answers to an online promotional exam. harder than I anticipated it to be. I really want the three – better retirement, and I could save a lot more in 401k and 457 to be able to retire at 58ish.

I was told of two more promotional opportunities so hopefully one of them will work!

minimal spending this week

March 17th, 2018 at 04:20 pm

Spending was light this week for the most part. I took my new employee and one other team person (the rest were out of the office) to sushi for lunch on his first day - team building will hand receipt to accountant for my taxes this year.

Added $13 to the gas tank yesterday. I think that is $40 in gas this month. I should have about $50 to put toward savings or debt at the end of the month. I am trying to get the car maintenance to $3k with monthly savings of $100 (more than half way) then I will focus on debt. With a Prius I always worry something big will happen but 5 years in just general maintenance. I rarely use the full amount I budget for gas each month ($140) and either put it toward debt or savings.

Bought a hash brown at McDonald's with the team on our road trip $1.25. Lunch was picked up by a colleague because we discussed the possibility of her husband redoing my kitchen cabinets when the time came. It will still be three years away at least with other financial goals in place.

On Thursday my boss took two of us to lunch - and he paid which is the first time ever. And for dinner a friend who needed to talk called and said hey lets grab dinner and then she paid because we sat and I listened to her talk through an issue for a couple of hours. Not necessary but helpful.

Went to the gym for the first time in 5 weeks. I had the flu in February and doctor said no gym until I could make it through a night with no cough syrup. I will go again today and hope that next Saturday I can restart my fitness challenge.

I did pay for pizza and salad last night- had a friends kids while they saw a movie. She will pay me next week - but if she doesn't I am good. $35

I have a handy man here doing a few things I can't do to ready the house for a renter (new towel racks, removing old vertical blinds, hanging a coat rack, and something else. And he has a truck and can pick up two new screen doors for me. (wont fit in my Prius). He charges $25 a hour so it will be about $50 and the cost of the two screen doors - which are on sale this weekend for $55 a piece. All of this was planned spending so I have the money. Tax accountant reminded me to hold on to all work receipts for house work in preparation for a room mate for my taxes this year.

Need to make a meal plan for next week and a grocery list.

Tomorrow a chair I ordered (when I bought the new sleeper sofa a couple weeks ago) is being delivered between 8-12. Then I will see a movie maybe (gift cards-I have several hundred dollar in movie passes!) and the grocery shop.

I am also taking an online exam for another Promotion. The leader, same one from earlier this week, popped into my office yesterday and asked me to apply to an even higher position. So I need to take the exam and be on the list. I wont rank in the highest rank but I need to pass the test to be able to be hired. Nothing set in stone but he liked my leadership on a project with part of his team and said I would be an excellent addition. So...maybe one of the promotions will come through.

I've arranged for a free bulk garbage pick up on Monday morning. We get three free a year. I've been cleaning things out of the garage the past few months and have enough for a pick up plus I am tossing all the old garden "gnomes" from the previous owner, an old laundry rack that rusted, old blinds, and old mattress used for guests, an old hose, and a bunch of odds and ends. Making room and cleaning up the yard feels great!

My 3 rain barrels are full. Lots of rain the past couple of weeks (and snow in the mountains). I use the barrels for watering the porch plants during the summer - it saves a little bit of money and were so helpful during the worst of the drought. This summer is going to be a bad fire season and we haven't had enough rain or snow yet this year.

I sold several things this week: stacking baskets for the closet (came with house and I hate them) for $25 and a brand new child's toy I found in a box for $10. Every little bit helps grow the at home emergency fund. Lots of things to still sell if I can!

Been a rough year+

March 15th, 2018 at 02:54 am

For the first time in years I have credit card debt. Depression is a horrible thing. I bought to make myself happy in 2016 and early 2017. Now I recognize the symptoms and have it under control.

I have a plan to get it paid off by Summer 2019. Earlier is better but right now it is all zero interest thanks to a balance transfer. How embarrassing to have this debt.

I am currently interviewing for a new house mate. It is difficult - people are not what they advertise. One showed up drunk and reeking of marijuana even though I advertise as a smoke free property. One has his kids every other weekend and wanted me to put them in the spare area of my own bedroom when they visit, and one has a record and because of my job I cannot live with someone with a record - even if is happened more than 30 years ago when she was 18. She can expunge her record and then she could move in. Looking to interview more this weekend.

Rent is $750. $100 to utilities account for months when I am over the budgeted amount. $100 for house maintenance/emergency fund and $550 to debt. With the amount I have earmarked from my paychecks for debt I should be done before my goal but have the wiggle room. Room is all set - now I have to get the rest of the house ready.

Have an appointment for an attorney to review my lease to make sure there are no problems.

Have a plan for the debt:
credit card debt first
student loan extra to pay off in 5 years
$100/month to the zero interest loan the state gave me when I bought the house.
then the mortgage.

I still want to retire in 2033 if I can. Pension from the state, my savings, my social security when I am 67. I should be just fine but I want the house paid off before I retire. And of course the student loans gone, too!

I've made a few sales on facebook and I have several pending sales this weekend. It isn't much - maybe $200 in the past few weeks and a couple hundred if everything sold tomorrow. It is going toward making a couple changes to house before renter moves in. I need to replace the blinds on my slider in my bedroom. From the kitchen you can look right into my bedroom and the blinds are broken - can't close. I am replacing the horrible puce colored vertical blinds with simple lined light gray blackout curtains. Should help in summer with heat (slider gets sun for hours) and winter (the room is the coldest in the house). Curtains and rod were $75.

I painted the guest bath and laundry room at Christmas. I am replacing the towel rods in that room and hanging my elephant hook coat rack in the laundry room. It is the room I walk into from the garage so hanging wet stuff there makes sense. I can also hang items on a hanger to dry in that room or pull from dryer and hanger right away. I love elephants and this was a great Christmas present that I want up.

I cleared out cupboards and space in the pantry for renter.

Still house sitting and pet sitting. I turned down a lot of business last year due to work emergencies (I work in emergency management and emergency preparedness) which would make animal care difficult. I only kept my favorite 25 or so families whose animals are easy and I love and they understand my job. It was only about $7k last year.

I was approached by my old boss (who recently received a promotion) to apply for a promotion under her. I applied this week. Interviews will be in a couple of weeks. I am already preparing possible interview questions - it is a manager over 4 managers who have 4-6 people under them. I know I could do the job for management. The specific program information I would learn although much of it I already know. I will probably over prepare as I always do. But it makes me feel comfortable. I have an excellent rep as a manager and people want to work for me so moving to a new program would be a professional challenge for me and open a few doors for the future.

She told her new boss I am interested in jumping ship and he stopped by my office and told me to apply, that he would welcome my experience, leadership, management style, and analytical skills in his area. He is retiring for good next year (they keep brining him back) and he said It would be nice to see you in my spot. I said but XXX may want it. He said She doesn't and we both agree having you in that position would be good. We look forward to seeing you at the interview panels.

If this one doesn't pan out - maybe there is a better candidate - I am applying to several other promotional positions.

One good thing has happened since April: I've lost 80 pounds. I have about 50 to go but I feel great, look better, am super healthy, and super active. All good things!

Here is to a successful 2018 for all of us.


March 14th, 2018 at 02:53 am


October Budget Numbers

October 6th, 2016 at 04:51 am

October budgeted amounts:

1452.29 mortgage
128.47 water (two months)
40.72 garbage
200 spending
92.71 electric
16.40 Natural Gas
43.60 utilities savings when under budget
95.88 cell bills
25 ameritrade
300 groceries
400 house repairs/emergency savings
80 house cleaning
65 gardener
140 auto fuel
100 auto insurance
350 car savings
100 car repairs savings
168.63 Cable/internet
14.95 book on tape subscription
25 college savings
9 gym dues
15 health insurance savings
50.02 vacation savings
50.01 glasses/contacts savings
30 clothing savings
20 personal care (make up, eyebrows, etc.)
519 debt
200 student loan savings (deferred while in school)
100 gifts savings

407 IRA savings (25% October Housesit income)
163 Business savings (10% biz income)
81.45 Auto savings (5% biz income)
81.45 Vacation savings (5% biz income)

4095 Net income full time job
66 Secret shops payments
1629 House sitting income October (870 to savings and additional savings listed above
700 rent

To late for my list?

September 23rd, 2016 at 06:59 pm

My list:
1. I’m 42. I am single and have no children. I am not interested in marriage or having kids but I do date frequently and would like to be back in a long term relationship.
2. I studied for a career that would take me living around the world but ended up in a career (that I love) but I live 30 miles from where I grew up! (Working on the other career after the election.)
3. I am the youngest of 4 girls raised by a single mom and that severely impacted how I look at money. We never had any growing up.
4. I wish I would have waited for grad school until a couple more years out of college to save money. I loved living in Vermont but am still paying off the school loans (and will be for a while.)
5. I was a Peace Corps volunteer who was sent home after a bus accident and injury. I don’t regret coming home – I can walk ok and am not permanently disabled but I am sad I didn’t finish my service. I broke most of the bones in my right foot and was on crutches and PT for almost 2 years. When I am tired or it is cold I have a slight limp or rotate my toes in. And you wouldn’t notice unless I pointed it out to you.
6. I bought a house and have changes I’d like to make but only if I can pay out of pocket for them. Saving for new flooring right now for the LR/DR and my office to start.
7. I love to travel and have been to almost all the European countries except the UK and Ireland. I am saving for a trip to go there but it will be several more years (maybe 4-5) before I can afford to go.
8. I am a manager and can retire from the state in 13 years at 55 with a pension. Realistically that won’t happen because I want the house paid off before I retire. My goal is 60 years old. I would like to promote at least one more time. I save each raise we receive into my 401k and 457. I dream about being able to max out both someday.
9. I love music, reading, movies and TV, game nights, books on tape (for walking client’s dogs and cats). I hate to write and work in a field where that is my primary responsibility.
10. I run a small business on the side doing house and pet sitting. I love it and hope to do it into retirement. I think it would be a great job when I retire.
11. I have a room mate who is one of my closest friends. She drives me crazy sometimes but I am grateful for her friendship and her rent!
12. I loved the Gilmore Girls show and can’t wait for the new show on Netflix. I don’t have Netflix but can watch it at a house sitting clients house. I hope she schedules something for the week of Thanksgiving when they are released!
13. I have tracked my spending for the past 12 years and can provide an accounting for how I spent about 95% of my income.
14. I have 9 nieces and nephews. One niece and nephew are married and I have 5 great nieces and nephews between them.
15. I joined SA in 2005 but blog rarely. I want to make a better commitment moving forward. I do read almost daily everyone else’s entries.
16. I have no house maintenance skills other than painting and changing light bulbs. I am scared to try something for fear of breaking something and causing a huge repair bill. I need to work toward overcoming this fear.
17. I am not a great cook and wish to get better and experiment but cooking for one (even to have left overs) sucks. I just purchased the Joy of Cooking and Mastering the Art of French Cooking so let’s see how it goes!
18. One of my house sitting clients has three cats that joins the dog and I on our walks. Yes, the cats walk through the neighborhoods with us twice a day. It cracks everyone up when they see us.
19. My favorite TV show is “the West Wing”. I watch a few episodes each year – usually when home sick. I loved the pace, the writing, the actors, everything about it. And I already love one new TV show this fall, “This is Us”. It looks fabulous. I’ve not liked anything else yet. I limit my TV watching to 12-15 hours a week – including the nightly news. I have 140+ hours of TV shows recorded I may never watch.
20. I loved reading everyone else’s lists!

Quick Updates

September 7th, 2016 at 04:37 am

No spend day yesterday and today. Unfortunately Sunday was not as I had to buy a new printer when my suddenly died this week. It just won't turn on. frustrating.

Saturday was grocery shopping and errands. Friday I took off work to enjoy a nice day off. I did spend a little money that evening at a friends magazine party for totes.

All bills paid and am waiting for rent to be paid from my renter. She was away this weekend.

Refinanced my house for a much lower interest rate. I just received the escrow account check from my previous bank and that is going back in the bank since I had to take out just about that amount for the new escrow account.

Received my latest payment from the secret shopping and it more than paid the printer.

Looking forward to the weekend - although I am house sitting and dropping in for several clients.

February Quick Entry catch up

February 9th, 2016 at 04:56 pm

Feb 8 no spend day.
Feb 7 completed 2 grocery shops.
Feb 6 cancelled plans picked up last minutes items for dinner.
Feb 5 overnight housesit - did not go to movies as originally planned - friends illness. I did buy lunch today though.

NSD tally February: 5/9

Quick Entry: Feb 4

February 4th, 2016 at 10:12 pm

Today is going to be a no spend day - sort of.

I do owe my colleague for lunch today. We are working on a major project and I'd planned to go home for lunch when she offered to pick something up for us at Chipotle to save some time. So tomorrow I will pay her for lunch today since I haven't picked up my allowance for February from the bank.

Tomorrow my housemate and I are going the dinner/movie place. When I bought some Christmas gifts I received 6 movie passes for free movies.

I gave one set to my sister and her fiancé in addition to the gifts they received. I need to use 4 of them by February 11. We will use two tomorrow (and I will get popcorn and a soda) and then maybe use the other two on Monday with a friend of mine so a little bit of planned spending all coming from my allowance.

I need to do two grocery shops this weekend on Sunday - perfect for a few things and a super bowl treat. I only sort of watch and plan to finish a crochet project on Sunday.

Quick Entry: Feb 3

February 4th, 2016 at 04:12 am

3rd no spend day in a row!

I did have lunch out but it was with my boss and she treated. It was our holiday lunch that was postponed.

Quick Entry: February 2

February 3rd, 2016 at 01:38 am

I spent no money today. Yay!

I really wanted lunch out since the morning was bad at work but i stuck with my plan and dropped off my water bill payment and went home to grab something.

I am sitting for a client until Saturday so my first client visit of February. I have a request for a few days at the end of february and march so with my current schedules i may make my montly goal of $600.

Two, two, Two no spend days! (Said in the voice of the Count from Sesame Street.)

quick entry Feb 1

February 2nd, 2016 at 04:29 am

Was a no spend day in terms of groceries, gas or sending fun money which is the money I track for no spend days.

I ate at home - and I took the day off work for a migraine that started yesterday.

I did pay some bills but that is planned spending I can't get away from - mortgage, gas, electric, etc.

Some 2016 goals

January 4th, 2016 at 04:39 am

It has been a while since I last wrote. I did update my side bar goals for 2016 but have been thinking about what I would like to do this year.

I managed to save $2100 for my IRA in 2015. I hope to make it $3000 in 2016.

I have enjoyed the mystery shopping for the grocery stores I did the past few months. The surveys take 5-10 minutes and the payment is only $5 but the reimbursements range from $17-20. That is a nice bonus for something I have to do anyway. My goal is to earn $150/month from reimbursements/survey payments in 2016. I already have $132 scheduled and it is only the 3rd. I completed three already, have four more scheduled and that is only through the 16th.

For each shop we need to buy something large under the basket: a case of water, fire wood, paper towels, TP, etc. When I buy something under the cart I plan to donate it to the women's domestic violence shelter in my small hometown. Every little bit helps and if I can donate 4-6 packages of paper towels and TP each month it is great.

Income from house sitting goal: $10,000 this year.
25% to IRA,
10% business expenses
15% debt payments
50% savings/maintenance

Rent collected goal:
House maintenance savings: $250
debt payments: $450

Total utility payments:
Electricity/natural gas: under $500/year for each.
I am not sure what else I am planning for the year.

I need to figure out what house items I want to accomplish this year: flooring, painting, the hard water whole house filter, a whole house fan? what else?
I need to think about what else I should make as a goal.

End of month update

June 28th, 2015 at 11:24 pm

Well I think it is time for an update. I updated the sidebar with current information.

The housemate who was going to move in in May is looking for a new job and I did not have her move in. I know she will eventually move away from the area and I don’t want to deal with finding a new housemate quickly. Also, I think it would be better to rent to someone who is not a friend already. My attorney reviewed the lease and I should have it back later this week. I want everything on the lease so there are no problems or questions.

Business has been good the past few months. Already in six months, I have made more than all of last year. With current scheduled bookings through the end of the year I am $1,000 over last year. And this doesn’t include all the bookings that occur without planning in advance. I hope to make $8k this year which may not seem like a lot now but it would be nice to make close to what I made in my best year 6 years ago before the fall of the economy.

I am on vacation this week. It feels good to have some time off! I plan to relax but also get some more boxes unpacked or repacked as necessary. I am not putting out any décor items until the flooring is replaced and painting is done early next year. I can live with plain furniture for a while. I have made a few trips to goodwill so far and I know there will be some more in my future.

This week I also have appointments for some estimates for a whole house fan and a repair person is coming out to look at my treadmill to repair it from the move. I really want my treadmill fixed and really want to find out about a whole house fan. The area where my house sits gets a nice breeze many days during the summer but not enough to cool down the house even with all the windows open. I really dislike running the AC all the time in the summer not to mention the cost. I know it would take some time to earn back the cost of the installation but I need a new cut out into the attic anyway and they will do that as part of the install. I am hoping to use the existing attic entrance in the laundry room for the fan but will see what they say.

I have been mystery shopping for the past couple of months. Sometimes it is for grocery stores or for gas station visits with reimbursements for purchases. They also pay for the information that is provided so all the extra little income for something I already need to buy is great! I am tracking the income separately from the money reimbursed. I use the same reimbursed amount each month for future shops while saving the fees paid for the first house project I want to do: rain barrels installed.

I am still collecting shower water in the morning before it gets hot for my veggie plants. I use the shower or bath water for the roses or other plants in the back yard. I think at some point they are going to tell us to stop watering. I am already limiting the watering but want to keep things green otherwise they are a fire hazard.

My nephew will be coming later this week to help me measure the two spare rooms for renting purposes. One is my office currently but if I ever needed it, I’d like to know the dimensions.

Water update

April 8th, 2015 at 03:48 am

So this morning I looked out my window and found that both the empty large planters were full of water. Just as I was leaving the garage I saw a steady stream of water coming off the porch. I quickly stuck an extra empty and clean kitchen plastic garbage can under the stream and it was filled up by the time I got home. It was filled a quarter of the way before I got out of the driveway.

Oh, how I wish I'd gotten the rain barrels in. They would be mostly if not fully filled today alone!

This water should last me a couple weeks of watering the veggies and plants in the planters. Everything here got soaked which means no worry about watering while the weather stays cool. And they are saying another storm may come through Saturday.

House Utility bills, water, and other updates

April 7th, 2015 at 01:52 am

My monthly utility bills have been less than my estimates since I moved in Feb 12. While I estimate the bills to be $225 each month I have spent less than a third of that amount each month. I save the amount not used and have over $400 in the account already.

Since the property has not been transferred with the county I have not received a sewer bill yet. Based on their estimates I've been saving $25 a month. I know the bill will have 3-4 months once it is processed.

Any savings that I came in under my estimate has been swept into a utility savings account for those months when the bills are higher due to extreme heat or cold.

Luckily, every bedroom and the family room has ceiling fans which are much cheaper to run than the AC in summer. I am partial to not using the AC unless it is really uncomfortable or I can't sleep (although the fan in the master is right above my bed like the one I put in my apartment.)

Once the account has about $1200 I will earmark the left over amount to my emergency fund.


Rain is expected and they estimate .5 to 1 inch of rain in the next 24 hours and rain possible until Wednesday. I planted 6 planters on Friday with 2 kinds of tomatoes, cantaloupe, zucchini, 3 gerbera daisy plants, and something else.

I also planted basil, rosemary and marigolds for bug and mosquito repellant. I want to plant citronella as well and another few marigolds. But I can't find any citronella plants or seeds.

I didn't get the rain barrels put in yet and I am so sad I didn't with this rain. It could have filled several them at least half way.

I jerry-rigged some plastic sheeting over a laundry drying rack and directed it into two planters I didn't use that have no holes so I hope to get some water to use this week. I got about an inch in the empty planters yesterday from the little storm that passed over. Every little bit helps!

I have been collecting water in the morning while waiting for the water to get hot and using that for the plants that need it that the sprinklers are not hitting very well. The grass is not getting enough water (since I only water for 5 minutes twice a week) but since I suspect at some point this summer they are going to suspend grass watering I am not that worried. I hope to keep the rose bushes and other bushes in the back yard and the few plants in front going with water that would have gone down the drain. I plan to put that water into the barrels once they are in.


My roommate is ready to move in at the end of this month. I will be house sitting for the first 10 days she will be here as I have a two week sit end of April-May. This means that she can enjoy the house a bit alone after getting out of a bad roommate situation.


I have completed my tax paperwork for Jan-March (for 2016 taxes) and photocopied all the receipts for my records. I have a couple of receipts to do tonight for the plants I purchased this past weekend.

I am expecting about $710 in payments from house and pet sitting the past 6 weeks. I have little business this month but am very busy toward the end of the month and then through the middle of June.

I need to get moving on hiring some independent contractors for coverage if there is an emergency I need to attend to for the state. I have scheduled a meeting with one of the largest pet sitting companies in the area to ask for her advice. She contacted me several months ago and offered to mentor me after one of her clients used me when she could not accommodate them and got rave reviews for my service. She is a former past president of one of the professional organizations I belong to. As she said, there is more than enough business for us all here in the area. I am grateful she will meet and give me some contracting advice and I am such a small business I can't imagine I impact her at all.

Little news updates and planning

March 27th, 2015 at 06:32 pm

Roommate moves in beginning of May. She will pay rent that I will use for house maintenance things and saving for future projects. Eventually once the big projects go away (flooring, painting inside and out) it will be used for savings and extra payments to mortgage.

I have interviewed several gardeners and house cleaners. I am never home and they are both a write off with a roommate so I am investigating hiring one of each. The cleaner is especially important because I will never have the argument about whose turn it is to clean ever again! (Last time I had a roommate was in college so this should be interesting!

Gas prices went up a dollar a gallon in a matter of weeks ($2.09 to $3.09) but it is slowly coming down. I paid $2.87 a couple days ago.

I have completed the worksheets I needed to build for my accountant to track household expenses (utilities, maintenance, toilet paper, laundry soap, dryer sheets, etc) for completing 2015 taxes next year. I already photo copied the receipts because receipt ink disappears in a matter of months and I want a more permanent record of expenses. I filled in the worksheet for the house items purchased but I need to add in the utility costs being careful not to add in the last payments for the apartment utilities.

Last summer my best friend bought us tickets to see Maroon 5. The concert is in Tuesday and we are so excited. We have not seen a concert together since we were 19 – 20 years ago! We are staying overnight in the town where the concert is and driving back the next day. We are excited to spend time together sans kids and hubby (hers). This will be the first time in a long time!

I updated my side bar with some plans I would like to see come to fruition over the next few years.

Lots of Little updates

March 6th, 2015 at 06:15 pm

I saw Dave Ramsey at a local church last week. It was all common sense stuff and I was surprised at the number of people taking frantic notes.

It was a free ticket that dropped in my lap so I thought, ok, let's go. I have to say he is a good speaker and very funny. He spoke on his first couple of steps then someone else came out for a few steps then Ramsey closed it up. It started with a crowd warm up at 630, he came on at 7 and it ended at 10 very good time management with a 30 minute break in the middle. I chatted with my friend who gave me the ticket and her friend a financial planner. He was surprised that I said I was not taking social security until 70. I want to retire from my state job between 55 and 60 (depends upon paying off my new house) and then just to the house and pet sitting business and really build that up.


On that note I need to find a couple of trustworthy people who I can use as independent contractors for the business. My work is really cracking down on the "if there is an emergency you could be sent anywhere to support emergency ops" track. That means if I had a pet sit or drop in care going on I need to have reliable back up. It really is identifying a continuity of ops plan for the business. I have one person who said yes. He is married to a good friend and is retired so the option of earning $20 a day to put into his golfing account (he gets an allowance that allows one game a week as part of his retirement planning) sounded good to him. So I need to draw up papers for him and get his insurance paid so I can use him. I can use him less than 30 days a year and he is covered but I'd like to see him covered all the time. It's a minor expense to me.


Hot water heater is in and I love having the hot water! Waiting for the permit papers from the company so I can arrange a visit with the city for the inspection. The warranty covered everything except the pieces that brought it up to the newer code so I had an out of pocket expense of about $600. Not nearly as bad as it could have been.


The filter on the shower is wonderful hair and body much less dry. I recommend one highly! I will keep using this one and not explore other options until it stops working. I also bought the replacement filter part. They estimate 6 months of use but I asked the plumber putting in the hot water heater and he said the water hardness means it may only last 4-5 depending on usage. As a singleton I think it may last 6 months especially with the house sitting starting to heat up. The filter is about $10. So I added that to my twice a year budget.

I will also buy one for the second bathroom later this year once I have selected a room mate. So that will be an outlay of $22 plus a twice a year replace filter as well. SO that will go into my yearly maintenance listing as well. I will watch for them to go on sale if possible.


Roommate: I had one person who said she wanted to move in then got opportunities to apply for jobs 2 hours north and 3 hours south so I will be waiting a few weeks to see what happens. I want a room mate for sure especially after speaking to my accountant about it.

Of course I would declare the income - there is no question about that - but I did not know there were so many write offs to having a room mate to include the painting I did as I moved in, carpet cleaning, utilities, maintenance of the home, even yard work and a cleaning person a couple times a month, to writing off a percentage of the mortgage. It would help me with more retirement savings and being able to pay off the house faster. So....I will talk to my friend later next week and come up with a game plan.

Got my taxes done and a week later had my refunds. They will go to pay off the items I bought for the house (refrigerator, washer, dryer and the hot water heater costs) so I don't have to take anything out of savings for those costs.


I am going to restart swagbucks in the evenings when I am relaxing or house sitting. I have almost $50 in points to cash in. I am going to do cards to home depot as I have been looking up garden hoses and the one I want is there. As I need something for the house I hope to earn points to pay for it. I also have almost $100 in pay pal from swagbucks that I never used and with my health insurance rewards programs I have another $40 coming so more than enough for hoses and the two light fixtures I want to replace in the hall way. Little things that will make the house more mine. And purchases that will be made through the swagbucks shopping to earn more points if possible.

And I will also begin savings points for a table, chairs, and umbrella for the patio but I will also use CC rewards points for that purchase when I make it.


I have an overnight for house sitting ($60 for Fri-Sat) and a drop in Fri-possibly Sat morning ($30-48). A new client asked me to housesit for her 2 week vacation at the end of April-May and I am already booking into October so I hope this year breaks 2014 income. I am slowly rebuilding from the recession that hit so many of my clients hard with no travel. I am averaging about $400 a month this year. I would like to see that increase to $1000-1200 a month. That would mean $200 to maintenance account for the house, $500 to savings for future IRA payments (I pay all at once in January to my IRA so I am saving for 2017-18 IRA payments this year). and $300-500 for savings or extra payments to house to pay off faster. I already know if I pay an extra $700 a month I am paid off in 15 years and $400 means 18-20 years instead of 30. No more than 20 is my goal so extra income and rent would be helpful. Rent would go to building up an emergency fund of about $30k (that is where I feel comfortable) and then to paying off the house faster.

Shower Head Filter for Hard Water

February 25th, 2015 at 05:10 am

The location where I bought my house has very hard water. My hair comes out like straw even when I use a weekly deep conditioner daily. My skin is always very dry and soaks up lotion.

I finally did some research the past few days looking for a water softener or filter I could use just on the shower head. Purchasing a whole house softener is not on the table right now.

I found online at Home Depot that was able to be purchased in the store. It was cheaper than the same product at Lowes but Lowes is closer. I printed out the HD price and bought it at Lowes for $18 and saving $2.16. I pit the savings into my house EF account. Every little bit helps! I hope the filter helps. I am also looking at the shower head softeners. I will try this one for a while and see if it works. If it doesn't then I will go try a more extensive filter.

Tomorrow I have someone coming to reinstall the freezer drawer, installing a new water heater and garbage disposal, the key guy is coming back because one door does not open, a sprinkler guy is coming by to look at my system and figure out what it is doing or if I need a new timer mechanism, and I have a meeting with my tax accountant at 8 am re taxes for 2014. Obviously I took the day off to be able to do all that. It will be a busy day!

Work from home today

February 21st, 2015 at 05:48 am

I worked from home today because I had to call a plumber for the hot water heater and garbage disposal.

The call is under the home warranty given to me for three years with the purchase of the house. The hot water heater does not stay hot and looses quite a bit of heat. Within 6 minutes it is luke warm. The garbage disposal kicks up rust and the safety cover is a replacement and not protective. Both of them will be replaced next week. I only pay $50 total for both. Warranty hires the plumber and they process everything including the city permit. Of course I get copies of everything.

I spoke with the home inspector who'd said it would go within a year. He was surprised it lasted less than a week. He had not noticed the issue with the disposal but it also is not covered under his inspection stuff as it is not required by appraisal or bank issues.

The loan I have requires a home warranty for at least three years and I worked that into the request from the sellers so I am covered for three years. I am not worried I know things will go and I will always call the warranty company first if it is something I cannot figure out on my own. Fifty dollars a call is not bad and I can fit as many issues under one call as I want as long as they are related: appliances, plumbing, electrical or something else. The warranty was the platinum one because the loan required certain things to be covered and only this one covered what they wanted plus about 30 more things.

I tracked down the manuals for the sprinkler system and the thermostat this week so tomorrow I will reprogram both. City is not requiring watering on specific days yet but the county says odd numbered houses are Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday. I will stick to those days and only 2 days a week for only very limited times. With the lack of water and snow this year they will eventually say no watering.

I am attending a rainy barrel installation course next weekend. For $20 I get the lesson, lunch, and two 65 gallon rain barrels! (A colleague is going but doesn't want blue barrels and is giving me hers.) I checked, you can paint the outside so I will with the house paint I have in the garage to match the house.

I wish I'd had them installed two weekends ago - they would be full already. It was a monster storm and according to research 1 inch of rain off a 1000 sq ft house is enough to fill two 65 gallon barrels. My house is 1500 sq ft so I could have easily filled three or perhaps four with that rain storm. I plan to fill with rain water but also water from the shower that has to run to warm up in the am. Saving as much as possible for the yard without using extra water.

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