Sunday, January 22, 2017

Weekend this and that

I haven't been doing a whole lot the past couple of days, mostly watching the Inauguration stuff on tv. I'm so ready to see this country get back on track with the economy, jobs, healthcare and national security.

I did get a couple of nice/surprise phone calls. I don't know if I mentioned this before, but when we were in the process of buying our piece of land we got to know the only neighbors there a bit. Really nice couple in their early 60's. We saw them the two times last spring when we were looking at it and then after we made offer. We called them a couple of times updating them on our fiasco of trying to sell our house, etc. They called us once or twice for an update.

The day we got here, we stopped in where the wife works here in town to say we made it. When we were rounding the corner to get to our street to get our keys at the house that next day, the husband happened to be walking across the street near where he works and we stopped and said hello.

And that was the last we heard from them! We've been here since first of October. I figured (this being such a small town and all) we might get a call to come on over, have lunch or something. We've been out to our property a few times. One time saw the wife outside for a minute and waved to her. The other times I don't think they were home. On New Year's day we went out there (the dogs love to run around the 2 acres and we wanted to see what it and the river looked like in all the snow) and didn't appear they were home (hard to tell because they park in garage). DH had me call them to leave a message when we got back home so that they'd know it was us who made the marks in the deep snow to turn around next to their driveway. Wife was home and we chatted for a few minutes on the phone. She was very nice but still, nothing like "hey, come over for a visit sometime" type of thing. 

Maybe it's just me, but that seemed kind of strange to me. There's not a lot to do or a lot going on around this area, so you'd think socializing would be the thing to do. Plus, if you know someone is new and doesn't know anyone, it would seem the neighborly thing to do.

Anyhow, Friday eve the phone rang and it was the wife inviting us over for coffee next Saturday and she's inviting another couple that live out that way (our property is 10 miles outside of town). So, of course I accepted and we are looking forward to it.

Then my cell rang and it was my old high school friend calling to see how it all was going. She's been taking a break from Facebook all month (her sister's husband is dying, so sad) so just wanted to say hi and that she had been thinking of me. It was a nice little chat and so nice that she took the time to call.

DH has been doing the grocery shopping with me at the little store in town. Such a change from the first 30 years LOL. You couldn't have paid him to go grocery shopping. LOL. We were going to stop in the lumber store for some things but they are closed all week because they are moving into a new building down the street from where they were. Can't go today because they aren't open on Sundays, LOL. Love small town life :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Hump Day

It seems like every week I go pick up our mail I'm getting some sort of money in the mail! Various refunds from escrow regarding our real estate sale and purchases. Rebate money. Class action settlement checks that I signed on for way back when. Gift card from boss. Last week was a check from Verizon (as DD switched to her own account and the acct had originally been set up in her name and we added on later) but that was in her name, so I had to mail it to her. LOL. $7.93 thank you very much. Then today I get a check for each DH and I for $8.93 from some Chase class action suit, where they apparently looked up customers credit info even though the accounts had been closed or something to that effect.  The other day I received my $30 rebate on the KitchenAid I bought for DD. This one was a visa card.  The checks I just keep putting in my savings account.

DH just got this snow roof rake thingy he ordered on line. He's out there using it and thinks it's the greatest thing ever. Just in time, as we are supposed to get rain and good to get that snow off the roof, I guess, so it doesn't just turn to a bunch of ice.  He already told the guy across from us about it and told him he could use it too :)  I have a feeling he'll be taking it over to his friends place, too, and letting him use it.

Warming up here! supposed to get mid 30's and rain today and up to 40 degrees tomorrow. Our back patio and driveway are sheets of ice right now with the little rain we are getting.

A week ago or so I sent DH a link to some plans I found in Pinterest to make a wooden ladder for blankets. He kind of ignored me at first but in the email to him I said "might as well make 2, because as soon as DD sees it she will want one too".  He mentioned it yesterday and said he wanted to find some old barnwood to make (rather than just the 2x4 and 2x6 wood from hardware store the plans call for). He told me last night he's been looking on Craigslist for some old wood. Found a place near the city, so maybe next time we go in, we can check it out.  DD was messaging me the other night and said she wants to get a blanket ladder made (I never told her I asked her dad to make us). I showed the text to DH and said "see? told ya she'll want one too".  LOL.

I think the bonus check fiasco is finally/almost resolved. At least it has been confirmed they voided and reversed it, but it seems that maybe my regular job company was given the credit back for it, not the side job company. That little part needs to get confirmed, but it's resolved for the most part.The payroll company still doesn't quite know on their end which company they gave the credit for it to.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

First paycheck

Our "new" payroll check details got posted yesterday. I don't usually care about the details of my checks as they are basically the same, but with it being a new year (and taxes always change a bit) and I reminded the payroll person (again) to get me set up to have state income tax withheld, I wanted to see the details. I also discontinued having any money withheld for FSA. All in all, I seem to have a total paycheck of about $80 less than previously.

I had used FSA previous years because of DH's pricey Crestor medicine, but that went generic (and free on his insurance) mid year last year, so I don't need to use the FSA this year and didn't sign up to have it deducted from my checks this year.

Last Friday my boss sent out the annual "it's time to do performance reviews" email and we are supposed to have our "grading of ourselves" back to her by this Friday. That typically means some sort of raise will be in my near future. Based on the small raises I have received the last couple of years, I'm guessing this year's raise will probably just cover the $80 less per paycheck I'm experiencing. So, it won't really feel like I got a raise, but it also won't feel like I have less money either. All good. Hopefully we meet this years sales goals and mid year (and year end) we'll get that 15% bonus, instead of the 10% we have been getting, and that will feel like a raise.

I'd really like to increase my 401k contribution, which I usually do when I get a raise, but I know (unless the raise is more than I am expecting) I probably won't want to if I'm not really seeing extra money in my twice a month paychecks. I think what I'll do is see where we are at the end of the first quarter. If we are on target for the bonus (end of June) then I will increase my 401k contributions.

It's kind of hard to get real creative with grading myself and coming up with new goals, when my job stays so much the same, for the most part. I mean, there's only so much "new" you can implement for accounting, ya know? LOL. And I'm terrible about remembering what 3 accomplishments I had over the last year. I did start a document at the beginning of last year to note something down if I thought it worthy of being considered an accomplishment. I opened the document and there was only one thing on there for earlier this year, LOL. So, I need to come up with two more. I'm sure there is stuff I did that was noteworthy, but I tend to just pass it on through my brain as just doing my job.

It's kind of interesting to see the progression of some salaries over the years, especially the managers. When my boss first started in 2007, she was making about $30k more a year than me. Now, she is making $120k more a year than me, as well as big bonus's. Some employees get 5-15% raises and some get small 2-3% raises (me!). I'm not really sure of their "formula" for deciding who gets what. There were several years that I got nice raises of 5-8%.

I'm not complaining. I'm thrilled to have my work from home job and that is enough for me right now.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Doing Winter

It was a very enjoyable 3 day weekend. The birthday celebration at our friends house on Friday evening was very fun. Lots of good food to snack on all evening, as well as cake and cupcakes. Met some new people and it was nice to get out for an evening (and not cook!). Before we went to their house we went into the city and did some shopping real quick. $200 later we walked out of Target. That did include a bottle of wine for the birthday lady - picked because we liked the bottle and the label, LOL, as we know nothing about wine.

Saturday morning we went and did the rest of our grocery shopping in town here (milk and stuff). I can't remember now what we did the rest of the day. Not much, apparently.

Sunday our friends (same one's we went to on Friday) asked us to go out to dinner. There is a nice steakhouse place near their house, but out in the sticks, that DH has been wanting to go to. I guess it's been around a very long time as DH's dad remembers it from over 35 years ago (though it's changed hands a few times).Very good food and we had a nice evening with the 4 of us. Still less than a half hour drive from our house, so not too far. It's so nice to leave the house and not give our neighborhood and house a second thought.

This morning I cleaned bathrooms, dusted and cleaned a few dishes in the kitchen sink. I ironed the new burlap table runner I bought and put it on the table. Kinda cute and rustic.

I had today off, so around noon we headed out to our property for a walk around. It's good exercise when you try to walk around in 2 feet of snow! So beautiful everywhere around here.

The road back to town

 Supposedly the coldest/most snowy winter since like 1996. So we'll get our first winter out of the way as probably the worst of most of them to come. It hasn't really been that bad at all. I am liking it and love that the snow stays around (vs maybe one little snow that melts by afternoon each winter). I think we'll stay :)

Friday, January 13, 2017


TGIF! and it's a 3 day weekend :)  My bonus check is still not resolved. I'm sure they are busy today putting out other fires. This payroll company just got bought out a couple months ago by another (larger) payroll company (but same people/office are taking care of our payrolls) and this paycheck was the first using the new company's payroll system. Everyone appears to have gotten paid (all direct deposit) but no one's paystub has been loaded online yet so people can actually see the detail. As an admin I can't see anything yet either. The only issue appears to be one of the owner's at my side job company - his check was like half what it is supposed to be and we don't know why yet.

This evening we have been invited to dinner at our friends that live about half hour away. It's the wife's birthday and her DH is inviting her mom and a few people for a birthday dinner. Since the city is about a 15 minute drive farther than their house, we are going to leave a little early from home and run into Target and stock up on a few things I am almost out of. One being DH's razor refills. I just couldn't spent $28 at the little grocery store in town for 8 razors! LOL.

Plus I need to pick up a little something for the birthday lady. I'd just like to get her some flowers, so will probably have to make an additional stop at a grocery store, as I'm pretty sure Target doesn't carry any fresh flowers. There certainly isn't anything in town here at the grocery store to get her, unless I wanted to get her a bottle of wine. I'm just super excited not to have to make dinner tonight, I need a break!

I started watching This Is Us, via on Demand, (the only way I can seem to get Dish on Demand is through my ipad mini) last night. I think I was hooked within the first 5 minutes and the end of the first episode was a neat little surprising twist. So, that's probably what I'll be doing most of this weekend, binge watching all the episodes that have aired so far.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

What a mess!

My goodness, what a little mess a bonus check has turned out to be!  Ok - my side job and my regular job both use the same payroll company (a pretty small company) to process payroll. I am on the payroll, as a w-2 employee for my regular job. I am not on the payroll for my side job. I am paid with a company check, supplied with a 1099 at year end and pay my own taxes on it.

So, the side job owner's wife and her hubby had a miscommunication. He told her he was giving me a bonus and wanted it grossed up to cover taxes. She knew I'm not on payroll (he does too, for that matter) and had a company check cut to me, which I cashed. Well, the owner contacted the payroll company, explained he wanted to give me a bonus and wasn't sure how to go about it, since I'm not on their payroll (wife didn't know he did this). Well....they decided "oh, we'll just add it to her regular job's income (and w-2) but invoice the side job company for the bill to cover the payroll check........

I get the check and of course don't cash it, since I already got a bonus in the form of a company check. I have spent since the day after Christmas trying to get a stupid answer on this! I said that if possible, I would just like to return this check to the payroll company,  they can void it out and reverse the income recorded to me.....if NOT, then ok, I'll just deposit it and mail a personal check to my side job, to pay them back for the 2nd bonus. Just let me know which way we are doing this.

I cannot get an answer one way or the other! Finally, last week I mentioned it to my boss at my regular job. I wanted her to know that the payroll company added income to me under their  account (and my w-2 with them) in case there ever was an audit or something and records didn't match as to what my regular job has on their books as paying me in total wages, compared to what the payroll company shows as them paying me in total wages for the year.  She said she actually knew about it, they had asked her if it was ok to do it that way.

Now, she just got an email from the payroll company - with an invoice attached to it, because they say they now voided the bonus check.  What??!! First off, no one told me it got voided and second off - why in the world would my regular job company have to pay anything on it at all?! The payroll company cut the check the week before Christmas, withdrew the money for the check out of my side jobs bank account (like they do with any payroll the process for them). If they voided the check that I have sitting her on my desk, then the payroll company needs to reimburse my side job for it! My regular company sure doesn't owe anything for it.  Someone is totally messed up.

Good grief - I should have just cashed the dang thing, wrote out a personal check that day and mailed it off to my boss's wife, so she could deposit it and the company get refunded for one of the bonus's paid to me. Simple as that. I just wanted to try and get that 2nd bonus off of my regular job's w-2 for the year and not get the 2 incomes co-mingled. I really don't know why they are making this so difficult to resolve.

The savings and the expenses

Veering back to the subject of frugality for a post! What a concept, huh?!

Clothing - not much new needed for me and what I have bought was cheap Walmart stuff. I knew I'd need a few long sleeved shirts or sweaters. I've never been much of a sweater wearer (though I do like to wear an open sweater over my tops), since we lived in mild temps,but I do have several long sleeved t-shirt type tops. But, when we first moved here I picked up 2 sweaters and a long sleeve cotton shirt - each was $10 or less. I also bought some new warmer pj's. The pj top was from Walmart too, very soft and thick/warm for $10-12 bucks (I can't remember now). The flannel bottoms I got thru Kohl's using up some Kohl's cash I had.  I was also really needing some new undies and a bra - both of which last time I purchased were from Walmart. The cheap bra I LOVE. $12 and the most comfortable bra I have ever had, so a couple weeks ago I picked up another one and also an 8 pack of undies, which were only $9 for the pack and will last me 2-3 years (this I know because 2 1/2 years ago was the last time I bought them LOL)

That's really all I need for clothes for the near future. Since I work from home and spend most of my days at home, I really don't need much in the way of new clothes, that's for sure. I will probably need some new snow boots, mainly just taller boots, due to the amount of snow here! But I will try to get through this winter with what I have and then hopefully buy a new pair on clearance at the end of the season. I would like to buy something quality and that pair be my snow boots for many many years to come.

We did buy DH 2 new pairs of jeans, as he had one pair wear out finally and rip in the crotch. For the past several years I have been buying him Wrangler relaxed fit jeans (versus the pricey Levi's he used to wear), which are about $16 at Walmart or Target. DD got him 2 new sweatshirts and a long sleeved heavy weight button up shirt for Christmas, so he is good for clothes. We did splurge and buy him the Carhartt lined work coveralls recently, which aren't cheap, but at least they were 20% off and will most likely last him forever.

We haven't been out to dinner (we were going once a week) in a few weeks now, so are saving a bit there. There's only one restaurant in town and I think we were getting a bit tired of the same menu each week, so have taken a break.

We don't use our front door much (we go in and out thru the garage side door) so dh put an old fleece blanket down along the door on the floor to try and keep more heat in the house.

We've never before had to pay for sewer (had a septic system) and paid only $20 a month for well water, so having to pay for this is a change. The bill for sewer/water has ranged between $60 and $70 a month. I have no idea if this is normal or not. Since we hardly ever go anywhere anymore, we have started to cut down taking showers every single day. DH usually goes every other day now and I've been starting to skip it on Mon and Thurs, when he's doing laundry and there's not much hot water left to take a shower. We'll see how that affects the bill. A few dollars a month isn't worth being stinky over, but we seem to be ok if we skip a shower once in awhile LOL.

If I buy food here at the grocery store in town (which I have to do a lot in this weather because I can't drive the 55 miles to Walmart in the snow) it's generally more expensive than if I go stock up on groceries in the city. I am taking any casserole I make and putting half in the freezer for another meal. We eat canned veggies quite often, and I've been putting the leftover corn or green beans in a container and saving it for another meal.

We hardly go anywhere now (especially since I work from home all the time now) so our gas expense for my car has gone way down. A tank of gas has been lasting us a month, most of the time, especially now that it's winter and the trips to the city are fewer and farther in between.

Whatever I have shipped here I make sure it's free shipping (usually through my Amazon Prime account), plus we no longer have any sales tax (used to be almost 10%). Of course, on the flip side of that I now have a state income tax to pay, which I didn't have before, so really no savings when all is said and done.

We were able to license DH's pickup truck with a permanent license, so just a one time fee and never have to pay anything on it again (since it's over 11 years old).  The dog's city license tags were $5 each for a lifetime license for each LOL.

Heat/electricity is quite a bit higher than we had before, but I expected that. 1) we lived in an area with low electricity rates 2) our electric company was a small co-op that was the cheapest in the region, so we had it good for all those years 3) I knew rates would be higher here and 4) we'd use more because it's so damn cold! LOL.  My bill I just got today is about $100 more than my highest winter bill at old house. Spring/Summer/and Fall (based on my Fall bills I did already get) are fairly comparable to what we paid before, so it's just a few months a year I have higher than previous bills.

Now that our "projects" for this house are done (DH just installed the last of them....a $9 oak towel ring for our bathroom) I am in saving mode towards our house building! This spring/summer we want to start doing as much as we can towards it with cash and the first project will be doing some site work/dirt moving and cutting in the driveway. DH's good friend is going to help with that too. I have no idea what that will cost us, but I'm sure much cheaper than the builder quoted us doing it in the house building estimate. We also have to do a well and septic system, which we will try to pay cash for too over the next year.

Right now I have almost $5,000 in savings, so it's starting to build up.