Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ready for the New Year!

Things are looking up even more, financially, for 2015.  Several areas tie into each other for some of the longer term goals.

1) A look at zillow for an estimate of our current real estate value turned into a very nice surprise. The value is finally up, percentage wise. Where I kept hearing values were rising in our area, but it wasn't being reflected in the last year or two, whenever I would look on zillow.

We are now within less than $20,000 of what we owe, and my strong guess is that this value on zillow does not reflect all the upgrades we have done inside and out. The fencing alone should bring it up a nice chunk, plus the remodels of the bathrooms, new wood laminate flooring in kitchen, laundry and one bedroom, as well as new stainless appliances in the kitchen. Plus my boss, who has bought and sold a some rental properties in the past couple of years, as well as helped her daughter through a home purchase, said that zillow seems to be lower than houses end up selling for, so she said our value probably is higher than what is showing online.

I would say we are probably are or are very close to being out of water and as long as house values continue to rise at a normal rate (not like the crazy years), combined with our amount going to principle each month/year, we should be out of the water and on dry land in the near future.  At least then we will have some option if we wanted to move. If we can keep out the drug dealers/buyers it's actually a very nice area and we have a very nice piece of property.

We are starting year 9 of a 20 year mortgage, which is also a plus, in my book. Even though our payments are higher, I went with a 20 year mortgage instead of the conventional 30 year. We are almost half way there now and that is a good feeling. It will be paid by the time I'm 62 and I plan to work a few more years after that we will have a nice chunk each month to add to retirement, with no house payment.

I'm not sure where some reader(s) got the idea that because I have mentioned that we are underwater it means we are behind on our payments. We have had mortgage payments since we got married 30 years ago and have never even been late on one payment in our life. In my "logical" way of thinking an underwater house is only bad if you plan to sell. Otherwise the market will come back (just like the stock market and my 401k) around, as well as we keep adding equity back into it with every payment. We also want to do one more small remodel job - re-do the kitchen countertops with something new and updated and have the walls redone (like our bathrooms) so I can paint them. I am hoping to be able to get that done this next summer. We shouldn't have to spend much on landscaping, other than to maintain it and the annual flowers I plant.

The past 2-3 years we have pretty much put all our extra money back into this house, to get things fixed and updated that were neglected for many years, while DH was struggling to build his business and we were broke and then when he got sick and couldn't work and we were broke. We had our house, garage and shed painted, added fencing, lots of landscaping, new flooring in several rooms, as well as semi-remodels/upgrades in both bathrooms. There really isn't anything wrong with our house now, other than the regular maintenance that has to be done to keep a house in working order, but that is costly too.  Except for the fencing, house/garage/shed painting and the bathrooms, everything else was all DIY.

2) Salary raise(s)
At this point I know I have a $250 per month raise in the income from my side job. That was a 33% raise! Not bad, not bad :-)  I don't know yet what/if my raise will be on my regular full time job, I just know that reviews will be done in January.  Based on all the previous raises, I am assuming/hoping it will be at a minimum of $200 per month. It's hard to say, because I got a raise in summer of 2013 that was $6,000 a year and 6 months later (last January) got another $3.000 a year. I was not expecting that raise, at all. So, I am low-estimating it and hoping for that.

We will still have our 10% of salary bonus plan in effect for 2015. If we meet our goals (we have never NOT met them in the years we have had bonus incentive plans in effect) I will also get another 10% of my annual salary in a bonus. I am looking at potentially grossing close to $100,000 next year.  When I started my job 9 years ago I was making $50k a year (and before that I was making only $39k a year)

No matter what I will be increasing my 401k by at least $100 per month, or more, depending on what I find out at my review.

3) DS owes us a good chunk of money for the vehicle he has and another piece of equipment he had with him (but sold out from under us and kept/spent the money). Not sure at this point if we will ever see the money, he was supposed to start making monthly payments (even if it's just $50-$100) but we haven't seen anything yet. So, if he gets his act together at some point, we might start seeing a little extra money coming our way every so often.

4) The charges I put on my care credit card for dental last year and a couple of other purchases we put on credit, with 6-12 months no interest will all be paid in February. I've been making equal monthly payments (not minimum payments) so that they will be zero'd out by the dates the promotions expire. That all has been totaled about $350 a month and after February, I won't have that amount going out anymore. I needed the dental work, so the credit option was a great way for me to do it and get it taken care of, as well as helped rebuild my credit. I do have some more dental work to be done in 2015, but my benefits should cover most of it and I am setting aside money in my FSA account for the rest.

5) Savings currently sits at a bit over $5,000, which is starting to feel like a "safer" place to be. IF. for some reason, I lost my job, I also have about $5,000 (after taxes) in unused vacation time on the books. I do not touch this vacation. I saved it up to keep as a reserve for job loss or sickness. I earn about 4 1/2 weeks a year, so earn plenty to let this extra time sit on the books and not use it.

6) 401k - currently is at about $40,000. Not a lot for our age, but we sure got a late start at it. Our matching and profit sharing will be funded for 2014 in the next few months and will add another $3500 to it, as well as my regular contributions.

So there you have it - pretty much our financial picture for the upcoming year in a nutshell. Let's hope there are no surprises (hahahaha!)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Got woke up at 5:40 this morning to such a loud BOOM! I thought some neighbor's house had just exploded or something.  Well, close enough! The drug raid on the house behind us had just started. Police lights everywhere. We could hear police dogs barking and then over a loud speaker someone kept repeating "This is the County Sherrif. We have a search warrant. Come outside the house. We have a search warrant".


It's been over a year, but one of the drug dealing houses finally busted. We don't know what quantities they were able to discover but according to county jail records online both "boys" (I call them that even though they are mid to late 20's now) were arrested. The older one with 3 charges: Unlawful delivery of a controlled substance, felon possessing a firearm, and felony domestic violence court order violation. (we didn't even know he was staying there again, the police had told us awhile back his mom put a no contact order on him). The other brother got charged with possession of meth and drug paraphernalia.  The older one already has a felony record. The other one has a police record too, but I'm not sure if it's felony related. I SOOO was wishing the mom would get arrested too. It's her house and she knows full well what has been going on all these years.  She's just as guilty in my book.

There were actually 2 booms and apparently they are called "flash bangs" that the SWAT guys use right before they go in to disorient people. Even over the few hours the police were at the house people were still driving down the street to buy their drugs! They'd see all the police cars and back out down the street. Fifteen minutes after it all started (so it wasn't even 6am yet) someone comes down our street in a mini-van and gets those scumbag neighbor kids out of their house and leaves (their dad had already left for work). They probably thought they were going to be next.

I hope those boys are in jail for a long time, since this is a repeat offense. I know the justice system isn't in our favor for that to happen, but at least for now they are both in jail. It will be interesting to see what happens with the drug dealers at the end of our street. They are either going to be scared and back off or look at it as more opportunity to pick up all the drug buyers from the other place that now need a place to buy.

The week before Christmas the good deputy, who is now back in our area, got busy one night and made some arrests of cars coming from this house. Meth, heroin, stolen handgun, prescription pills...Said two of them squawked like parrots of who/where they got the drugs. Then last Monday the undercover narcotics detective called us and told us they got the warrant and would be doing the bust sometime soon. 

Our good neighbor just pulled in from work, honking his horn as he went by in celebration :-)

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Well, I tried

Pinterest Fail!

My favorite coffee creamer with my morning (and only) cup of joe is Coffee Mate French Vanilla liquid coffee creamer. I've seen a couple of pins/recipes of making your own creamer that supposedly tastes just like it. So, I had a can of sweetened condensed milk left over (because decided I needed a pumpkin pie like I needed a hole in the head) and decided to give it a try. I had just finished my container of the real stuff the day before and had cleaned it out and all ready for my homemade version.'s not the same, darn! Not really at all. It wasn't terrible, but nothing special. I was going to use it up anyway and woke up to make my cup of coffee this morning and decided to use the good stuff and just throw out the fake version. I figure hey, I only drink one cup a day. It's one of my favorite times of the day and I deserve it to taste like I really like it! So, I poured the $1 or so homemade version down the drain.

At least I gave it a try and didn't lose much in the process. It might have been wonderful, you just never know.  If I can't have my Starbucks white chocolate mocha every day (more like twice a month, haha) I at least want my cup to taste like my 2nd choice.

What have been  your Pinterest fails - or successes?

Friday, December 26, 2014

It's a wrap

It was a pretty quiet Christmas with pretty much just the 3 of us. The Three Muskateers, as DH says.  We open our presents on Christmas eve night and then our stocking stuffers on Christmas morning. Since we were going to my mom's for dinner on Christmas Day (another quiet event, with just her and my uncle) I made our turkey dinner on Christmas Eve. DD and I played some games, Scrabble and Cribbage, while we waited for the turkey to bake.  DH has never been big on playing games, so he kept himself entertained on his computer and watching tv.

Dinner was yummy, if I do say so myself, and we enjoyed the meal and some laughs with each other. Early evening we opened our presents. Since it's just the 3 of us, we took turns opening our gifts. We were all very happy with everything we received - even the ugly sweater they got me (on purpose)! About a month ago DD and I were shopping in Kohl's and walked by this display of sweaters, all with "stuff" embroidered on them. I walked by and said "I can't believe people really want to wear those". Fast forward to last week and DH and DD shopping at Kohl's, with DD trying to help DH pick out stuff. He gets a few things and as they are walking to the checkout he sees those sweaters and stops at one and says "that is cute" and DD was like "NO, just no" and explained that I hated those. So then he said "well, I'm getting it for her". I guess he thought I would open it and say I hated it, but of course I was polite (LOL) and said, "oh....this is cute". Then they burst out laughing and I didn't know what the heck (I had forgotten about the ugly sweater conversation DD and I had had). We all had a good belly laugh over a $12 sweater - that was originally $50! Yikes!

A week or so ago DH and I bought a new coffee and end table as our big gift to each other. They are a beautiful dark wood, that matches our tv stand/cabinet. (We took the legs off the old oak tables and DD is keeping it all stored under her bed and will take them when she gets her own place) Then we got each other smaller gifts to open. I got him some new blades for his table saw, a car charger for his iphone and a new lightweight jacket. He got me a t-shirt, sweater, candles coasters and a soap pump and toothbrush holder to match our new bathroom decor.

DD is a great shopper and got me lots of nice things. A new set of canisters in red (just what I have been wanting! After 30 years I am tired of my old canister set), a beautiful gold with diamond accents necklace and earring set, pajamas, and a cute spoon holder and trivet for the kitchen. We got her a new suitcase, which she didn't have on her list but ended up being her favorite gift :-). From Etsy I got her a knit slouchy hat and an infinity scarf. Also earrings, slippers and a throw blanket.

Yesterday I made blueberry muffins for breakfast and then we opened our stockings (which are always overflowed with stuff that doesn't even fit in them!). Santa brought me a new set of pots and pans! Very nice replacement to my very old set of mismatched, worn out pots and pans. A Starbucks gift card, and more chocolate than I can eat in a year.  I always put scratch off lottery tickets in their stockings. DD is usually pretty lucky with them, but out of all the tickets only one $2 winner this year.  When I was going to hide the stocking stuffers in one of my hiding spots the other day, I found 2 stocking stuffers from last year that I forgot about!

Around noon I called our neighbor to tell him we were heading over to drop off his Christmas cookies we always give him and he said he was just about to call DH and see what he was doing (he knows our Christmas day is usually pretty low key) because he was going to bring over his 2 rifles that he put together himself, so they spent an hour or so looking at those and talking.  He even brought us gifts! A gun magazine (clip?) for DH and nice little flashlights for DD and I. Then we went over to my mom's for dinner with her and my uncle. I think we were all doing our best this year, knowing our son wants nothing to do with us as his family, but sitting there and having my mom answer her cell phone and it's my son calling to wish her a Merry Christmas, but wants nothing to do with us, while she sits there in the same room as us chatting away with him like nothing in the world is wrong. Then she hangs up and is just happy happy happy while are sitting there about to cry. At that point I wanted nothing more than to just leave and go home, but we stayed polite, ate our dinner and went home. Sigh..........

On a good note, I honestly don't think we could have a more perfect daughter with a more perfect life. She now has a guy she has been on a few dates with since she got home on this break and seriously, he couldn't be more perfect for her. He is older (was a school friend of our son) at 24 years old (she is 19, going on 30), has a very good job with one of the largest companies in our area, and is also going back to school to finish his Bachelor's degree so he can get into management. He's sweet, friendly, very outgoing, kinda nerdy, but in a totally cute way.  They went out to a late movie last night.  I am so happy for her.

I have next week off work, too. Just plan to mostly relax, but also in the plans are to clean out DH's bedroom and box up all his stuff and just put into storage. I brought several boxes home from work last week. I'm going to use the room as my office. It will be hard to go through all his stuff (or mess, I should say) but I am excited to have a whole room to myself as an office. Furnishing and decorating it like I want will have to be slow process (I don't want to spend money on that right now) but no rush. There's a twin bed, dresser and night stand as well a a very big oak L-shaped desk (that was a hand me down from my parents years ago) that I will probably eventually sell all on Craigslist and get a new desk and a futon couch for the room. Hopefully, I can find a used desk I like from Craigslist. I will just have to keep watching and looking.  That is how DH found his great cherrywood desk set for like $200.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

What's wi-fi?

Oh gee! My mom has been saying for the past year she wants a laptop or a tablet, so she can look at her emails and Facebook while she is at her boyfriends (or at his vacation cabin) or even just sitting in her recliner at home. I have tried to explain to her that using it at his house (or even her own) she will need to know the login password info to the wi-fi of wherever she is. I knew she didn't quite understand and was thinking I meant the password to her email :)

But, she called DD the other day and asked her to go with her to buy an ipad mini (like DD and I have). I told DD to make sure she didn't buy the more expensive one that uses data (I knew she wouldn't want to buy a monthly data plan) and just the one (like we have) that can access wi-fi, where available.

So, of course I get a text yesterday from DD as soon as they are back at mom's house. "Do you know Grandma's wi-fi password?"  LOL. Oh goodness!  Who is her internet carrier? "Umm...she doesn't know".  Ask her who she pays her internet bill to...."oh, ok it's the phone company".

I had no idea how to figure this out, but I did some googling on my end, called DD back and asked her to find the model of the modem. Finally found a link on the phone company's webite on how to get into the router administration and find the password.  Gave DD the instructions and Voila! Her ipad mini now had internet access.  DD was trying to show her how to access some of her favorite things using apps, rather than trying to go through the Safari web browser. She just kept saying "oh, I don't need to do that right now". I know she won't figure it out and using the apps are what make the ipad such a better experience.  DD showed her how to access her email, but not before I got another text "do you know Grandma's AOL password?" LOL  As a matter of fact I do! - I wrote it down on my password list the last time I had to go through getting her set back up on AOL, when she lost her password and I knew she wouldn't remember it the next time she needed it.

And then she's going to get down to her boyfriends tomorrow and they will have no clue what his wi-fi password is..........:)  We'll be over at her house for Christmas day, so I'll make sure to get her set up with all her favorite stuff on it.  I know she'll enjoy it much more if she can access her email and Facebook using the apps, rather than the web browser.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A nice thing

A couple of days ago I saw a news story about a local teenage girl trying to raise some money for a local charity.  What they were looking to use that money for is something the company I work for sells. I told my boss about it and between us and one of our customers we are now supplying the charity with what they need, at no charge! So awesome. That made my day :-) 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What's my obligation post bankruptcy?

An anonymous commenter posted a good food for thought question to me last night, regarding my post yesterday where I said that I was letting DH spend up to $1500 for the gun components to put together a rifle he has been wanting to have and also learn how to assemble.

Instead of spending your money on "stuff", have you ever considered going back to make amends to the people and businesses that were affected when you declared bankruptcy and didn't pay what you rightfully owed them?

What do you all think? I'd imagine there are lots of different views on this, though I doubt many who have gone through a bankruptcy would feel too much differently then me. Do I spend the next 16 years, until I (hopefully get to) retire, trying to pay off two large pieces of construction equipment (one that originally cost over $200k and another that was almost $200k) that were discharged in our bankruptcy?

Do people in general, who have gone through bankruptcy, need to then spend the rest of their life and money paying back what was discharged?

I guess this would be my response to Anonymous:

If we are supposed to go back and pay then I'm not sure what the point of going through filing and being discharged in bankruptcy was. My understanding and view is that it is a fresh start in life. Did we want DH to get sick and the economy crash at the same time and lose his business and half our income? Nope. But I also know that the 2 finance companies were able to recoup quite a bit of the money by selling the equipment they repossessed. Both companies repossessed equipment that even though 4-7 years old, was in like new condition, due to how my DH cares for "stuff" and they did get top dollar for them.

We don't smoke, drink, go out or take vacations. We stay home and hang out with our two dogs and try to keep our 26 year old manufactured home from falling apart. I'm sorry that our purchase of "stuff" offends you, but in my finances it is a good investment of my money. $1500 for something that will be worth $2500-$3000 once DH puts some time into it. That's a much better return on my money than what it's getting sitting in savings or than I've gotten on my 401k. It's something we will own and have equity in...and spending $1500 a year for an asset and DH to have some hobby fun is ok in my book. 

Between my 2 bonus's I grossed $8250 and spending 18% of that money on an asset that will be worth more than we spent and hold it's value isn't too dumb of decision. A dumb decision would have been to go blow $1500 on clothes and tv's and a vacation, where we would have had nothing for the money. We are staying out of debt and paying cash for our purchases (other than the few things I have charged to no interest promotions, in order to try and rebuild our credit ratings) and hopefully by the time I have to retire we will be able to support ourselves and not be a burden on society.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Big Spender

Oh boy! I went all out and splurged big time with my bonus money!!! Are you ready for this?? I'm sure you are just on the edge of your seat wondering what I bought!

Four Christmas chair pads for $1 each from the Dollar Store!  Wooohooo!  Aren't they cute,    though? :)

The Christmas bedding I ordered a couple of weeks ago arrived. I'm not so thrilled with the duvet cover. It's a big small for king size. More like Queen, in my estimation. My comforter has to squish in it and barely hangs over the edge of the bed ( pulled it from the other side so it looks in this pic like it comes down the sides more than it really does) , so not quite the "look" I had envisioned my Christmas sleigh bed to be :(.  I do LOVE the sherpa throw blanket I got for the end of the bed. Perfect size and sooo soft and warm. I'll make do with the duvet cover - it came from England (ebay purchase) and not worth the cost to send back.

I do want to find a couple of Christmas throw pillows to add, but I'll look for those on clearance after Christmas.

And for those of you wondering - I did tell DH about the bonus. I debated all the way home from work but decided to share in this and see what happens! I know he has gotten much better the past several years about spending and when he does spend he now tries to find deals or buy used. I walked in the house and as soon as he was done with his rant about the neighbor drug dealers and the cops, I handed him my check. His eyes got a bit big and he was like "wow!".  I can tell that in a way it also kind of makes him feel bad......because he can't contribute to our family like that. He gave me a hug and said good job, you earned it, and I gave him a hug and told him he helped earn it too by supporting my job and doing all the home stuff I can't do.

On Saturday I decided to tell him he could use some of the money to get a gun safe that he has wanted/needed for over a year, as long as it was in the $1000-$1500 range. I said the rest is going into savings. He said what he really wanted was to get the rest of the parts to finish a rifle he is putting together himself. He bought the lower part (I had forgotten about this) a year ago, but hasn't done anything to get the rest of the parts. He figures he'll end up with 2 things - he'll have learned how to put together a rifle and he'll have another gun.  I think all this will come in the $1000 range, maybe $1500, so if that's what he wants to do with it, that is ok with me.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The college girl is home

or maybe should be titled "Lessons learned the first quarter of college"

1.  She doesn't need the mid-level meal plan she signed up for. The lowest level will be adequate. She has like 67 meals left that she didn't use and ended up even guest comping meals this last week of classes for some friends that ran out of meals.

She always eats breakfast, but having 8am classes each morning, she didn't want to go to the cafeteria, so she would have cereal or oatmeal in her room. Sometimes she ate lunch at the cafeteria, but she didn't have much time between classes and it was always so crowded. So, about the only meals she ate there on a regular basis was dinner.  The microwave and fridge/freezer they have in their room has been adequate to have some meals from, too. One night she even went to the big kitchen in their dorm and made a bunch of quesadillas for herself and others.

2. She likes her private space more than she realized. Only having a brother and not having to share a bedroom growing up, it has been an adjustment learning to live with a roommate. While she really likes her roommate, she likes her own space even more :)

She's trying to decide what to do for next year.  She can live off campus if she wants and is considering trying to find an apartment to rent with another person, so then she at least has a bedroom to go off to study and sleep in.

3. She missed home (and her momma) more than she thought she would. She made 3 trips home. The first one a couple weeks after school started, then over Veteran's Day long weekend and then at Thanksgiving. Now she is home until Jan 5th. She was packed and ready to go, finished her last final at 4pm yesterday and was in her car and heading home by 4:15 :-)

4. It's easy to spend money to do stuff with friends. She found she was spending more money to go out and do stuff (dinner out, a movie, bowling, etc) than she thought she would. A couple of times she decided to pass on the activities, because it wasn't something she really cared to do one way or the other and didn't want to spend the money on it. (Even though I give her $100 a month specifically to have extra to go out and "do stuff")

Other than that, I think it was all pretty much what she expected. She loves the university and the town. Her classes are tough (since she's already in the upper level classes) but she got A's and B's. She's starting to have some guy friends from her dorm, but so far nothing in the "dating" interest. She has apparently been texting/messaging quite a bit with a guy her brother went to high school with. I guess after she started school he sent her a message asking how she liked college.  He lives in our town and has a good job with a big company in our metro area and is going back to school next month to get his degree (while working). I had met him once about a year and a half ago and thought he was such a friendly young guy. So then I asked her if they are texting so much why aren't they going out while she is at home on break and she said "ya, he mentioned about getting together....but Mom, he's like 24!" I was like " you are like 19 going on 30, so no big deal".

She also just heard from a guy she dated when she was 15 (that she had known since she was a little kid). They are meeting up halfway (he lives over an hour away) to have dinner tonight. Now this was a nice boy! I've known him since he was 8 years old and he is still as sweet as ever.

Just glad to have her home and I am enjoying the time with her.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The first credit card

DD has been approved for her very first credit card! Yay!  Eeek!  She has tried a couple of times over the past year (after she turned 18) to apply for a couple of store cards (Target and Kohls) but got denied due to no credit history.  While she was home over Thanksgiving she got an offer in the mail from Discover geared toward college students, so she decided to go online and apply and was approved. She now has a card with a $500 limit and earns cash back.

I think she will be very responsible with it. We've talked about it enough for her to know she needs to pay it off in full every month, if she uses it, and wants to avoid paying the high interest like the plague. I think it will be a good money management lesson for her. The card came in the mail last week, while she was at school, but she got home last night and activated it and walks out into the living room and says "let's go shopping, I have a credit card to charge up!.......oh wait? that's not what I'm supposed to do?!"  Smart aleck!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Another good news Monday

My boss tries her best to keep me out of the loop on surprises, but since I have to take care of the bank accounts and the money needed to be transferred around, etc to cover stuff, she usually has to tell me.

We are getting our 10% of annual salary bonus on Friday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That's $7500 to me and after the dang 25% federal tax on bonus and then social security taxes, I will end up with $5051.  I am so happy to be getting this bonus.  No plans for it yet, other than just sticking it in savings for the time being.

With that bonus on top of my regular salary and my side job I will have grossed almost $93,000 this year.  Not bad for a one income family, in my book :-)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Ho Ho Ho.....with a Bah Humbug feeling

                                                   Can you believe it is only

I decorated last weekend.  It's a good thing I did it before the latest crappola with my son, otherwise I probably wouldn't have much been in the mood to get it done. I took this picture yesterday, so now it's only 18 more days!

                    Here's my attempt at a Christmas-y Home

                                               (complete with my thumb in the picture!)

I'm waiting on a red and white snowflake duvet cover I ordered from Ebay, as well as a Sherpa throw blanket to put on the end of the bed. I will need a few Christmas-y pillows and pillow cases, too.  Hopefully it all will get shipped before Christmas so I can use it this year, but if not, I'll have it to start using next year.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

I'm finally a cool kid

I finally made the plunge and got iphones for myself and DH! The kids have them and say they wouldn't have anything else. I have gotten by for the past several years with a cheapo "un-smart" phone and a pay as you go plan. It has literally only cost me less than $100 a year for a card to fill it up with minutes. Until last year DH had an old no frills phone that he had from when he was in business, but I was still was paying $50 a month for pretty much nothing for it - limited calls and texts and no data.

I got him a smart phone on my carrier last year, saving about $12 a month over the plan he had, plus he now had data and unlimited texting.  I had hoped the $50 phone would suffice for his low cell phone needs. But the phone was a piece of junk. So, a few months later I bought him a "better" cell phone through same carrier. Phone was a bit better but service, as far as accessing our home camera security system, while away from home, was still pretty bad.  Slow to load, or wouldn't load at all.  While DD, sitting across from us at the restaurant, could access it no problem from her iphone.

So, with the new iphone 6 coming out and the iphone 5's being pretty cheap now, I decided to just do it!  We added ourselves to DD's plan and turned it into a family plan, which will now save her about $5 a month. The phones were basically free. I paid $99 up front for each of them (with a 2 year contract) but for switching over our phone numbers from another carrier we are getting a $150 bill credit for each phone, so that will also cover the phone cost and the activation fees and sales tax.

I knew I could do the extra $80 a month, I just haven't wanted to. But, I'm also tired of trying to go somewhere with DH and him getting frustrated because he can't check in on our house and feel safer about leaving.  Plus, now that I'll be making an extra $250 a month on my side job, it's really no problem to cover the extra.

The day after Black Friday DD and I went into the cell phone store and I did it. I bought two iphone 5s's, got our numbers switched over and came home and told DH here's an early Christmas present. I have had my ipad mini for almost a year and am addicted to that thing.  This phone is just like a "mini ipad mini" LOL.  And I must admit......I did like pulling up to the drive-up  window of our favorite little burger stand on my way home from work yesterday and look at facebook while I was sitting there waiting for my order :-)  My old pay as you go plan didn't have data.

Friday, December 5, 2014

A long parental whine

Monday's good news day quickly turned into a really crappy day/week so far.  We just cannot get it together with my son. It's been a shaky, somewhat ok contact the past 6 months, mostly initiated on our end. He could go weeks without even a text saying hello, updating us on what he's been doing.  We did see him for a week in October (mostly at our insistence that he come here and take care of some responsibilities he had). It seemed to go well, though after he left it was almost a month before we heard from him again. I have a feeling it was just a smiling face he put on while here and not sincere, just to get through the week here.  The part that didn't go well while he was here - with our vehicle we let him take over a year ago - was DH found a pot pipe in it. He of course blamed it on his friend. Says he smokes but that DS only tried it once last summer. Sure..........

But, DH remained very calm about it all (in the past he would have blown up). We of course told him how unhappy we were to find this and I also looked up the possession of paraphernalia laws in the state he is currently living in. $500 fine and up to 6 months in jail, if caught. Not to mention he was driving the 1000 miles here without a front license plate (good reason to get pulled over).  Why? because when he was in Canada he went into a ditch to avoid hitting a moose and wrecked the SUV on both ends. He didn't bother to mention that to us. (even though we bought the vehicle and owned it, we did transfer it to his name last winter, because he was refusing to leave Canada and we didn't want the liability, so technically he now owns it). He had told us before he had auto insurance, but didn't have an answer as to then why didn't he use it to repair the car? Of course he didn't have insurance. While here we suggested he go over to the Vehicle licensing and get new plates, it would cost him around $30. He did do that and also renewed his tabs for a year, even though they weren't due until next March. Wow, he finally took the initiative on something.

He is 23 years old now. For the past 2 years he has been staying with others, as a guest in their homes, for several month stints. He works odd jobs, for cash, so he has no health insurance.  Currently he is doing some construction type jobs at times. He could easily get hurt and will have no L&I available, if he does.

Before he left at the end of October we sat him down and tried to impart some life wisdom into him (again). Get a full time job, get one that hires you as an employee, withholds taxes and has benefits. Makes life much easier. We also told him he owes us $8500. We paid $5000 for the vehicle we let him take, but he did put $1000 in good winter tires on it, so we said he owes us $4000 for that and $4500 for the trailer he sold out from under us (that of course we had also originally paid for, at much more than that amount). I told him he needed to figure out a payment schedule and let me know. I didn't really care how much, just that it needed to happen every month. He finally told me last week he would have a big chunk of it to us in a few weeks......

Monday DH calls him up to chat about some stuff related to all the race equipment. We have always told DS that even though we paid for it all, we feel we all own this and he has a say in what happens to it. DH did first ask if he had time to talk. DS sounded a bit grumpy and said he was on the phone with his sister trying to help her with her malfunctioning laptop. DH brings up the topic he called about and DS gets all defensive and says I told you before to just sell it all and tried to twist something dh had said. Anyhow, even though DH remained calm and didn't get mad or yell, the conversation went downhill from there. DH told him how he feels about these stupid odd jobs he's doing and still living off of others for room and board. Told him he feels he is so much more capable that what he has been doing. DS then angrily asked if I felt that way too, and DH said, "you'll have to ask her".  DH told him - we are only trying to help you.

DH mentioned that DS's 2 year degree will end up obsolete and his reply was "you always have your degree".  Well, technically yes, in the real working world? Nope. Other than a short part time stint working IT while he was getting his degree, he has done nothing with it, since he got it 2 1/2 years ago. You don't work the field = employers who don't value your degree the longer time goes by.

Then DS hung up on him. I have tried to call him 4 times since Monday night. He won't answer or return my messages. DH sent him an email night before last. No response.So, we are apparently right back to where we were last January-May. My guess at this point - with his moodiness (he was never like this in his first 21 years) - is related to drugs and or alcohol (one of his new odd jobs recently has even been in a bar). And since he's 23 and not living under our roof, let alone that he is 1000 miles away, I guess he's going to have to figure it out himself.  Just seems such waste for such a smart person.

I look at his friends and others his age and see young adults going somewhere in life. They didn't all go to college, but they all have full time, steady jobs. One just bought his first house over the summer. The two friends that haven't done anything with their lives, is the one (who supposedly owns the pot pipe) who has been with my son(until a few weeks ago), since last spring - doing the same thing as him. The other kid lives at home, has never had a job and has zero ambition.

Son has no ambition, no drive, just wants to float along and see what happens. Doesn't seem to care about anything anymore, especially his family.  Mentally/emotionally he is acting like a 15 or 16 year old. I could almost go along with his lifestyle if he spent a bit of time interacting with us on a regular basis. Like I've told him many times - it's not that hard to spend 10 minutes once or twice a week calling/messaging/or emailing. It appears he still has quite a bit of contact with his ex-girlfriend (he saw her quite a bit when he was here that week) and I'll bet he finds time to message with her everyday. If it's important to you, you find the time. Simple as that.  But when you are avoiding others it usually because you either have something to hide or are guilty of doing something wrong.

It's hard listening to others say he'll come around, he'll figure it out.  Doesn't make what we are going through right now any easier, I can tell you that.  It sure is making it hard to get into the Christmas spirit and find the joy in life.

Monday, December 1, 2014

What a great start to Monday!

This is turning into a wonderful start to the day/week/month/year!!

I sent my side job my monthly invoice. I got an email back from the owner saying to also give myself a $500 Christmas bonus. Then I got an email saying be sure to gross it up, so it's $500 net of taxes. Then I got an email saying that starting in January to start paying myself a flat $1000 a month. I bill hourly, but it's always around $700-$750 a month. So, nice raise!! Then I got a very nice email saying they would be hard to replace me, so if I ever have plans to stop, let him know lots in advance, please. I emailed back that I have NO plans whatsoever to stop this side job. It works perfect for me. That gave me a nice piece of mind that I'll have this job for quite awhile down the road (it's already been 5 years). When I started doing it I figured it might last 2-3 years and eventually, as they grew, they'd want an in-house accountant/bookkeeper.  Glad this is working out on both ends, for more time to come!