Thursday, June 22, 2017

Budget decisions

I found another expense that will be able to get cut in another month. When I upgraded our Dish service to have a Hopper dvr last February 1, it was cheaper overall to sign up for their Protection Service for 6 months at $8.99 per month. I could have either paid for a service call at $95 or signed up for the protection service for 6 months for a total of $54. I just had to remember to discontinue it after 6 months! Which of course, I will do. I had made myself a calendar reminder on Outlook.  With that 8.99 a month and the $15 a month saved by removing premium channels. We'll save $288 a year.

My little blog ads are slowly generating a little bit each month. One of these months I'll hit the $100 mark and actually get paid, haha!

We'll be getting our propane tank refilled probably next month. Apparently that is when rates are cheapest during the year. We still have about 30% left, so that seems pretty good. I don't know what the rates are other times of the year, but I'm sure it will be quite a bit of savings if we can fill up the whole tank when it's cheapest. We've never had propane before, so it's all new to me. We are supposed to be on "auto refill" with the company and I'm not really sure what that even means. Will they auto refill this summer, when rates are low, or do I have to call to have it done? I'll be calling for sure. There was a notice in the little county weekly newspaper to call by July 7 for a summer refill appointment (which is why I'm not really sure then what "auto refill" really means, then).

And then there is the decision on increasing a monthly expense....it's annual benefit renewal time at work. One thing I discovered is my benefits allow my dependent (DH) to get a free eye exam, even if I don't have him on my insurance plan. That's nice. I'm trying to decide if I should add some Long Term Disability insurance. To get 60% off my annual salary would cost me $36 a month (for a $3900/mo benefit)

I went online with my Social Security account and if I were to get disabled right now my monthly benefit would be $2100. Not really enough to cover until I could tap into my 401k. And once I turn 67, do I then get my regular social security amount or do I still just get the $2100 a month? Ok, so I just researched that and when I'd turn 67, it would switch to my social security retirement benefit amount.

If I'm getting $2100 a month in SS disability, I wouldn't really need to get $3900 a month from insurance, but it doesn't appear I have the option of choosing a lower benefit amount. Maybe it's possible to get a lower benefit amount from an insurance company directly. I did a quick search online and could qet some quotes but they all want my ph# and address and I really don't want to deal with sales calls trying to pressure me to buy their insurance.

So, still can't decide if I need to pay $36 a month for long term disability. I have until the 30th of this month to figure it out.

In looking at my SS estimated benefits, I now have updated amounts that have increased. If I retire at age 70 (currently the plan) my monthy benefit is $3030 and with DH able to get half of that, that would give us $54,540 a year in social security, plus 401k draw. If I retired at 67 our combined annual SS would be $43,056. Guess we'll see how I feel at 67! Maybe I'll be able to retire by then, but not holding my breath.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Doctors, cutting expenses, and old neighborhood update

I put in a call this morning and got DH set up with a doctor appointment with a PA here in town, so he can get his cholesterol medication refilled. Their first available appointment isn't until Thursday of next week, so he'll have to go a day without his cholesterol med. We can walk to the doctor office - it's a block away LOL. I'll have to double check on his insurance, but I think it covers a few office visits where we only have to pay the co-pay and not meet the deductible. Might as well gets something out of that damn $511 I am paying per month for insurance!

Next thing I need to do is schedule a vet appointment, but I'm waiting to hear if my PTO days request gets approved, so I can make the appointment on one of those days. I have to drive like 55 miles to the nearest vet.

We've decided to save $15 a month and cut out the HBO and Showtime we have with our satellite service. It was going up to $30 a month next month, as the special rate period will be over. I was just going to keep one at $15, but we decided to cut both. I will miss out on the new season next month of Game of Thrones, but I'll catch it at some point. Sometimes they have Free HBO weekends during the year. We have Starz/Encore as part of our package, some Dish Movies on Demand and also still have Amazon Prime video through DD's membership. I also cut down the coverage on his pickup truck to the bare minimum. It just sits in the garage and never gets driven (1999 with 53,000 miles on it), so that saved about $20 a month. I didn't have a lot of coverage on it, but was still able to cut down some more. I think he's driven it once since we moved here.We really need a pickup for driving around these logging roads and hauling stuff, but he won't drive this one anywhere at all, unless it's the nicest day of the year and even then he won't drive it because then he'd have to wash it. He can never sell anything, so we're stuck with what I call the metal sculpture, rather than selling it and buying a nice used old truck to have and actually use.

DH still follows a bit what is going on in our old neighborhood, as far as a couple of the low-life's have been in jail. First off is our slumlandlord neighbor's drug dealing/using son. He got arrested Feb of 2016 for intent to distribute - 3 charges of it, for 3 different types of drugs, a gun charge attached to all those and possession. It has taken this long to finally resolve. It was delay delay delay for over a year. He was a failure to appear at least twice on his court hearing, they'd pick him up and let him back out the next day and reschedule and he'd FTA again. And then they'd be delayed until they caught him again and then delayed some more. Last month he plead something just prior to his jury trial and they dropped/reduced most charges (unbelievable!), let him go and told him to come back in 30 days (ridiculous) for his sentencing. This is the guy that, when he originally got arrested, the prosecutor assured DH he was going away for like 5-7 years. So, last week was his sentencing. Of course he was a Failure to Appear. Duh! They caught him a few days later and he's been held in jail and his sentencing is today. What do ya want to bet it will hardly be anything?

The other one is one of the brothers that lived behind us, in the walk up drug window house. He got arrested a few months ago, the main charge being failure to remain at the scene of an injury accident, as well as theft and assault2. He's been in jail this whole time, apparently no bail for the felony charge on the FTR at injury accident. He just got sentenced yesterday to 13 months, which means he's going to prison. Anything under 1 year is county jail, anything over is state prison. At least the neighborhood will have a break from him for awhile. Our good neighbor said it's been very quiet back there, as well as the rental house at the end of our street hasn't had the traffic, with the "better" renters that moved in just before we moved.

Then, his group of buddies from the neighborhood that was near us, with all the same problems (and many of same people dealing with) got arrested! He's kind of a hot head, but he's also SO sick of dealing druggies 24/7. He rides a motorcycle and was coming home from the gym late Sunday night. A big group of them standing in the street just before his house. He stopped to tell them to move on. One of them tried to tell him she lived in the camper trailer at the drug house. He lives  next door, so he knew that was a lie. They started to threaten him and he open carries (or maybe he was conceal carrying) so he held his gun down at his side. The druggies called the cops on him and he got arrested for brandishing a weapon. Stupid of him to do, but I totally understand he is beyond frustrated, after 2 or more years of it, and the cops will do absolutely nothing to these people. That's one of the reasons we moved - DH said he was getting so frustrated that he'd be the one they arrest for something, like trying to protect his own property. It will be interesting to see what comes of the charge against friend. They all joked with him "hey, just ask for drug court. That's what all these lowlife's get off on their charges with".

DD and her BF just installed the SimplySafe security system in their house. She said it was really easy and only took them like a half hour to set up. 


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A little of this and a little of that

Our neighbors have been pretty quiet, thankfully. He's done some metal cutting (or at least that's what it sounds like) a couple of times around 8 or 9pm, but it didn't last long. The first time he did it the other day it was so loud (of course it was like 8pm), we were like "what the heck was that noise?!" It was so loud it was echoing off the two houses across the field from us and at first we thought it was coming from there. But, no, guy was in his garage, with the garage door closed cutting metal. I can only imagine how loud it must have been inside there and their attached house!  We've come to the conclusion that the guy must be cheating on his wife. Ever since she started working nights (she usually leaves about 8:30pm and gets back sometime the next morning, or sometimes is gone 2 days) some young woman shows up within 15 minutes or so of her leaving. Every time. She's always gone before wife gets back. We have never seen her car there when wife is there..........And the same time wife started working nights, he suddenly no longer is going to his "night job" he's had all this time up until then. They should also be gone all weekend coming up - some big weekend mud truck race in nearby town. Their two little one's are still gone - starting on the 4th week now. So strange. At least that is to me. I couldn't imagine not having my 3 and 5 year old for that long! Maybe they are visiting them, wherever they are, but I highly doubt the guy is. He never pays one minute of attention to them when they were here. Sad.

My book club meeting for this month got cancelled. I guess not enough interest, people busy with summer vacation, family visiting and stuff. I wasn't going to go to this one anyway. I tried to start the book and just couldn't get into it. I just finished One Second After, that was recommended by one of my blog readers (sorry, can't recall who it was now!). I put in on my library e-book reserve list weeks and weeks ago and finally it came through on Sunday, as well as the second book, which I'm now reading. Good books and good food for thought, for sure, especially in this crazy times we live in.

We had mild cool temps all weekend but now it's back to 90. We might have to break down and get an air conditioner for the house. DH just can't take the heat very well. I don't think we'll be able to get a window type, as all our windows open sideways, instead of up and down. At least starting tomorrow it's back in the low to mid 70's for the rest of the week.

I need to get DH a doctor appt somewhere here local (not like we have lots of choices) so he can get his cholesterol med refilled. But, of course, now that I need to find one on the health insurance provider finder website, it appears to be down. Nothing will come up - even if I put in zip code of the big city nearby. I'll try again later, I guess.  There's a doctors office, with a few doctors/PA's,  just one block over from us and I'm pretty sure I looked up to see if they were on the provider list when I got DH the insurance, but I can't remember now.

I just took 3 days of PTO, but realize I need to be taking some more days off, as I've currently got 215 hours built up - like over 5 weeks! We are getting the 3rd and 4th of July off as holiday. I think I'll just take the rest of that week off and use up another 3 days that way. I'll see if I can get a vet appointment for our younger dog, who is due in for shots and an annual checkup. Our property neighbors gave me a referral to a vet in the city (there is not one vet in our whole county!) so I'll try them.

Still hanging on by a thread if we will meet our sales goal by the 30th of this month, to get our mid year bonus. But, it appears our commission percentage went up another point. That is huge and if holds up at that all year long, is yet another million dollars to the company. Anxiously waiting out these last 10 days to see if we can make it.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Boots, Buffalo and Bear! (and other adventures)

We had a pretty eventful few days with DD and her BF visiting. They arrived around noon on Thursday. After we had some lunch we decided to drive to the city so DH and I could get something better to wear on our feet for hiking around. We both got some nice hiking boots from Sportsman's Warehouse. He got some Merrell's and I got some Vasque's. Not cheap, but not the most expensive one's either. I wouldn't even let DH try the $400 ones on!


On the way back home we veered off and stopped in to check out the "historic ranger station" sign we always see on the freeway. It was kind of  a neat place and the lady in the "museum" part of it was full of info and probably glad to have someone stop by to tell it to, LOL.  DH had asked her if the fire lookout tower was still around/active and she said yes and pointed it out - about 8 miles away and said you could drive up there from the other side. We got back to town and decided to have dinner at the restaurant, since it was already 5 o'clock and making dinner would have taken me an hour.  That evening we watched a movie (The Accountant) and just visited.

Friday we headed over to do a drive through a Bison range. DH loves buffalo and this is a drive we've been planning to take at some point, There is about an 18 mile drive through the range. Saw the bison here and there and got up near the top and decided to do the 1/2 mile (each way) walking trail.

We start out on the walking trail going up to a lookout area, still in view of the trailhead. DH and BF were ahead of DD and I a bit. Two other guys were coming down the trail and just as they pass DD and I, they say "there's a bear" We turned around and said "what?" and they pointed up on the hill behind us, a bear making it's way down. I turn around and yell ahead to the guys to get back here. The six of us are just standing on the trail path area, not sure what to do. The bear finally comes down and crosses the path and we think it's going to head down into the draw but it stops and starts paralleling the path towards us. We all back up a bit. The bear is just busy turning over rocks, looking for food, not seeming to pay much attention to us. At that point he was only about 40 ft from us. Then he kind of gets behind a big bush next to the path ahead and we can't see him. We all decided to walk up the hill area above us and over and come back down on the path on the other side of the bear and closer to our vehicles.  As we got back down on the path the bear stood up behind the bush and looked at all of us. We just got ourselves back to the trailhead and our cars! We had actually bought bear spray when we got our hiking boots. Thankfully we didn't need to try it out.


That was quite the excitement for the day! We all got video of it too, though DD's video turned out the best. My phone camera seems to be going bad and I don't get very good photos or video's anymore. We finished the drive through the range, saw some deer, elk and antelope. Stopped at the little burger joint in the town next to us on the way home for burgers and milkshakes (yay, I didn't have to cook again. LOL). Spent most of the evening talking about the bear and sharing it on Facebook, haha.

Saturday we decided to take a drive and do a little hiking. DH decided to head up the road to the fire lookout. What a beautiful drive up this valley of huge homes on big spreads. Lush and green fields and wooded in some areas. One home was huge 3 stories. DH looked it up online when we got home. I said it had to be over 10,000 sf. It was more like 16,000! Then we get on the switchback logging road up and up (I really hate those roads LOL). The first sign before we started going up said 15 miles. Then we passed one that said 8 more miles. Then we went up some more and came to a locked gate. Are you kidding me?! All that way and then we can't get up the last few miles? Welp, let's hike it then. DH and BF estimated we had 2 more miles to go. It was a brutal 2 miles for me, since it was all pretty steep uphill. We went up 1000 ft in 2 miles. DH had been up ahead and was standing up on this little ridge. We climbed up and OMG. You could like see forever it seemed, with a 360 degree view.


Then DH says, don't look over there......but that's where the lookout station is....it was clear across another little ridge and UP! I said no way. I'm done. Still gotta hike back 2 miles and I can't do anymore. They estimated it was 3/4 mile (and it was) and it was another 500 ft up. DD and I took the bear spray (DH also had a gun) and started the 2 mile hike back to the car and let the guys go up to the lookout tower. It was much easier going down, that's for sure. It took us 40 minutes to get back to the car and we had our lunch and just rested. About same time we got back to the car the guys got to the lookout tower (cell service was working) and then they headed back to us and got there an hour later.

SOOO tired after all that. It's Monday night and I'm still sore and tired. I'm really glad I decided to take today off, too. DD and BF headed back home Sunday morning, so I've spent the last 2 days just resting, napping and reading. I've had enough excitement and adventure for awhile.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

It's a good week so far

The very nice thing about living near all this beauty and nature is that it doesn't cost us anything to get out and enjoy! Well, a gallon of gas, is all. Our other weekend excursions didn't have to cost anything. The flea market was free and so was the car show. We just chose to buy some stuff and some raffle tickets, but we certainly could have enjoyed both just walking around and looking.

We are currently using only about a tankful of gas per month living here. Approximately two trips a month to the city, which uses a little less than a 1/4 tank per trip. The rest is just trips to the mile to the heart of town where the post office and grocery store is and our little drive-abouts. Last night we drove about 15 miles (30 total) to see if there were any elk or deer out grazing. We only saw a couple of deer is all. Haven't had much luck with that lately. They must be staying up in the trees.

It's been quiet (knock on wood) at the neighbors since the sheriff sergeant and deputy were here last week. Wonder how long it will really last! Their 2 little kids still are not there and have been gone over 2 weeks now, nor have the two older daughters (both over 18 and one has two little kids, also) been there the past 2 weeks. The guy did clean up the drive line laying in his driveway and the tires stacked up in front of his garage. The only thing that appears to be left is an old pickup still parked in front of his garage, that doesn't run and an oil barrel. It's really not even an eyesore, in our opinion, though there aren't supposed to be any non-running/non licensed cars, per the covenants. If that's all there was/is we wouldn't even bat an eye. He also brought yet another trailer home last Thursday night (where he gets all these I have no idea) and loaded up the piece of junk that he's been working on inside his garage (we assume that's what he races) and left with it later Friday morning. The wife had left in her car (with pillow and bag) on Thursday evening. (I only saw this because I had gone outside to water my flowers). After the guy left later Friday morning, they didn't return until early Sunday night (without the trailer and race truck) and have stayed quiet. It's like living next to normal people!  I'm sure at some point soon all the kids will return and it will be back to chaos, as far as that part goes. That is what it is, but we are not going put up with the junkyard nor the excessive noise until 1 or 2am. Not giving in on that one bit.  DH spoke with the attorney we had consulted and we are going to hold off sending any letter (similar to what the developer sent) to the homeowner. At this point, how it's been the past week, we cannot ask for more.

Two more days until DD arrives.  Today is her one year anniversary at her job. She's chomping at the bit for a review and a raise, but she's pretty sure she's going to be disappointed in it (based on what a few other employees have told her). She said she is going to ask her boss when her review will be. If it's not a decent raise she'll start looking elsewhere and can surely do that, given that they live in an area where there are lots of jobs now. I would think with her now experience she would be able to find something in the $45k-50k range, easy. My company would hire her as a project manager at that rate in a heartbeat - it's just too far for her to drive every day.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Take a hike

Yesterday was such an adventure,  that I can't even remember now what we did on Saturday! Oh ya, I cleaned house in the morning and DH went for a drive up in the hills with neighbor friend, though they were only gone maybe an hour. I took a nap. Made a nice salad and steak for dinner. It was peace and quiet all weekend because the crappy neighbors were not home. We pressure washed the front porch real quick after dinner. Figured it was a good time to do it, as a pressure washer is always a noisy thing and unlike our neighbors, we try to be courteous and do that kind of stuff if no one's around to lessen the noisy impact. It only ran for about 15 minutes but is still loud.

Yesterday morning we packed a lunch, took the dogs, and headed up another nearby creek road. It was about 13 miles to our destination, but the road was not bad at all, as far as being narrow and it was so wooded you really didn't see down the cliff edges LOL.

We got there to find a few other cars parked there. Put the dogs on leashes and took a very short easy hike and came to this paradise







Talked to a guy and his kid fishing and he asked if we were hiking up to the other lake. He said it was about a mile, a pretty easy hike. On our way back out the trail from this lake we stopped and chatted with two young men who had pushed themselves out on a makeshift float

They asked if we were going up to the other lake. They said they hiked it the day before. It wasn't too bad, but you do have to cross a snow field to get up there and the lake is still mostly all frozen over. Ok, we decided to try it.

Here's the snow field - there was no one else around so dogs got to go off leash the rest of the hike.


 but what they neglected to mention was that it was still snow all the way through those trees too. LOL



This was the view looking down at the first lake, as we were crossing the snow field. . We kept trudging along. Holy crap, I am out of shape, but to be fair, uphill in the snow isn't that easy in tennis shoes. I'd stop every so often to catch my breath up and move along until the next steep-ish hill and I'd cuss some more. I guess the hike was rated moderate, which for us-non hiker's was about correct.

I guess it was really about a mile and a 1/4, but we finally got there.



We were at about 6,000 ft there.  We ate our lunch we had packed in DH's daypack. Going down was a little easier, but it was a bit slippery on the snow, of course. It was about as perfect of a day as I think we could have. Can't wait for DD to get here and share some of this with her!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Weekend plans

We experienced a brief moment of bliss last night LOL. The renter got home around 7 or so. With yet another trailer! He and wife bustled around outside for about half hour and then she's putting a bag and pillow in her car. She leaves and then he leaves in his truck. We figured they must have been going "racing" (because he thinks he's some big time racer haha). We promptly went and sat on our porch and enjoyed the warm evening and it was soooo quiet. I watered the flowers. Watched an adorable Mountain Bluebird take a bath in my bird bath. It was like heaven. Just after we went back inside around 9pm the guy came back. What a let down. LOL.

It's my half day (yay!) Friday. We'll probably head into the city for the afternoon to get some shopping done. I have a prescription to pick up and need to get DD's BF a birthday present. She said he'd like a circular saw or some saw horses. DH found a used belt sander on Craiglist, on the way to city, so if it's still available he'd like to buy it for his (one of these days!) projects to make my sofa table, book case and boot bench.

The weather has cooled down from the 90s to 60s, thankfully. Looks like 60's to low 70's for the next week. I'm not a very good hot weather person, especially with no a/c. The house does stay nice and cool all day long until around 6pm and then it gets pretty warm.

DH's friend neighbor took his dirt bike up into the mountains for a ride the other day try and get to a small lake. He wasn't sure if the snow had melted enough for driving his truck all the way there. He got back and told DH it's all melted and we could get up there with our car, so maybe we'll try that this weekend. It's one of those places you go and most likely not see another soul. Sounds perfect.