Thursday, August 17, 2017

Future budget

Last year I had done an estimated budget of our expenses living in the house we build.  Now that I have a better idea of what things cost in this area, I'm working on updating it.  Electricity has been quite a bit more than I thought it would be compared to where we used to live.......but I think in the  new house it won't be as much as we are paying for this 1400 sq ft house! Two reasons. One is we will be on a different electricity company - a co-op, which is usually cheaper (and the co-op said they are cheaper than the power company we currently have to use). We were on a co-op power company at our old house and it was much cheaper than the other for profit electric companies around us.  The second reason is that we will be having a heat pump at our new house. The furnace will only be a backup to the heat pump. While there is the initial cost of the heat pump, it will more than pay for itself in saved electricity/propane bills. They typically pay for themselves in 3-5 years, according to statistics. We asked our property neighbor, the other day, what her electric bills are, and while I can't remember now what she said, it was under $100 a month for their big 5000+ sf. house. These summer months I have paid $160/mo ($400 in winter) for this little house!

Another monthly savings will be water/septic. I averaged $50-60 a month until summer and we like to keep our lawn green and the bills have been about $100 a month the last 2 months. We will be on our own private well and septic, with no monthly outlay. The experts say a well pump should last about 12-15 years and cost about $1000 to replace. So, I need to set aside about $70 a year for future well pump replacement. Much cheaper than paying that each month, like I am now.

Both of these savings (and now the $25 a month phone/internet savings) can go toward the higher house payment we will have.

The other item that is going to come down one way or the other is health insurance for DH! Seriously, I am done paying over $500 a month for basically nothing. Since the worthless politicians can't get their act together on repeal and replace, I really think I am just going to drop the insurance at the end of this year (maybe even in November) and start putting that money in a savings account to pay for doctors visits and medicines. Within 3 years I could have almost $20,000 saved for medical emergency, in 5 years it would be almost $31,000. I can pay his (on average) once a year dr visit and prescription out of that each month, too. From what I have read, the "tax" "penalty", whatever you want to call it, only gets taken from you only if you have a refund, which I never do. You have to have insurance for 10 months to avoid the penalty, so this year I would not have to pay it, if I keep the insurance on him through the end of October. I guess next year we'll wait and see..maybe something will at least be done about the penalty by then. Maybe at some point a more affordable plan will be available and I would then purchase that again.

I am just done with paying this exorbitant rate for what amounts to what is a catastrophic plan. The high deductible makes it unusable for regular office visits/care. On top of the $512 a month I still have to pay for any visits to the doctor and his monthly prescription.

We will be 10 miles closer to the city, where we do a majority of our shopping, so that will save a bit on gas over a years time for each trip there (average a couple times a month). We will also have our mail delivered to our house, eliminating the need to drive to the post office 3-4 times a week. While it's only about a mile each way right now, it adds up and it's having to star the car up each time, etc.

That's all I have come up with so far. I plan to try my hand at a few chickens for eggs......but I'm sure the cost of keeping the chickens will be more than the cost of eggs, LOL.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Happily Ever After

When we moved last year we decided to find a new home for our two parakeets.  We knew there wasn't going to be an inch of space in my car (there wasn't) and truth be told, we never were really that attached to the birds. We got the first bird in 2009. As a birthday gift for DH. He was not working by then and home all day at his desk, so we thought it would give him some company. The bird was fine for a few years. We let him out of his cage semi-often and he'd fly and get some exercise and our yellow lab was the gentle giant with him, other then he'd try to lick the birdy to death, LOL. Then a few years later birdy started incessantly banging her beak in the cage. We tried moving her cage around to different spots, etc. Then we decided she must need a buddy, so we got the 2nd bird. All was great for a year or two and then she started banging again.  The other bird never got comfortable with us trying to sit on our finger or anything.

Anyhow - I put an ad on Craigslist and within hours got a message from this guy. He and his wife would like to take them, they had lots of birds and loved birds. So an hour later they came and picked them up. Within a few days he had texted me the the birds were doing great and a picture of them being free and out of cage (they let their birds be free around the house most of the time).

Every so often, he'll send me a text saying they are doing great, but I haven't received one for many months now. Each time I'd tell him  how happy I was the birds found such a great wonderful home. I figured he was done with the updates and I hadn't saved his cell# to ask him.

Yesterday I got the nicest surprise text. The birds (one male and one female) had bonded with other birds in their flock and the female bird (the one we got first in 2009) has had 3 babies! OMG! The picture of all of them is so great. I'm so glad they got such a great home (much better than ours LOL) with people who really love and take care of them so well.

The birdies got their happily ever after new home and so did we :)

Our birds are the two on the right, their mates are on the left and the 3 babies are in the middle....from what I understand it only takes like a month for the birds to grow. Not sure how old the babies are, I didn't ask the guy.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Another budget reduction

I called the phone company to check and see if I could save any money by switching to one of their new bundle plans. Yep! I sure can. The customer service rep called me back with the details. There are two plans I can upgrade AND save money.

We are currently at 8mb internet speed (we had like 50mb at our old house) with dsl, and it's been working fine for us. I have no problems remoting in to work, nor do we have any problems streaming like Amazon movies or On Demand (which uses internet), though I've never tried both at same time (since I'm working LOL). Occasionally it's a bit slow, but we knew that would be the casemoving here, where fast internet isn't available, and it really hasn't bothered us at all.

We can now get up to 25mb! There is a also another plan that is 15mb, almost double the speed we currently have AND it's $25 a month cheaper than I'm currently paying for my phone/internet bundle!!! Woohooo!  I could still save $5 a month by taking the 25mb speed, but we really don't need it. The 15mb will be good.

I do have to get a new modem, but with their new bundle package plan it includes a new modem at no cost and they are waiving the service call fee for the tech to come out and set it up.  Plus, we will now get unlimited long distance calling. The plan we are on now only covers 600 minutes. Which is usually enough, but there are times DH has gone over that for the month. He does not like to talk for long periods of time on his cell phone (where long distance is free) as his hand starts cramping. He calls his dad like once a week and usually talks for an hour, plus occasional calls with some friends.

I think I'll take this $25 I am saving each month and set it aside until I have enough to pay off DH's new phone that we are being charged $27 a month for (24 months, no interest). That way it will be paid off in about half the time - 12 months instead of 24 months. When I have enough saved to equal what the balance is, I'll pay it off in one chunk, while I keep making the $27 a month extra that's included in our bill, until then.

I got another small savings on Sunday when I stopped at Staples to buy another cardboard tube for storing plans. It was $5.99. There was a person checking out in front of me and the cashier was asking if she had a Staples Rewards account. I know I do, I have a little paper "card" in my wallet, somewhere, so I had a minute to find it while I waited my turn. I almost didn't bother, thinking what's a small purchase like this matter anyway........after she applied my rewards code it dropped the price of the tube down to $2.29! Now I'm kicking myself for not taking the time to use it on the first 4 tubes DH and bought a couple of weeks ago. I always look at any savings I can get while shopping in the city as money towards the gas it cost me to drive the 110 miles round trip, so another unexpected $3.70 was good.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Weekend relaxing

Boy, I will sure be glad when all this smoke in the air is gone. I'm tired of watery eyes and even headaches some days.

Saturday morning DH wanted to drive out to the property, just to see what the hills across from us looked like in daytime after driving past that night before in the blaze.  Our neighbor lady was outside watering her lawn and we talked with her awhile. DH had the house plans in the car so he showed her the page that shows what the outside of the house will look like and also the drawing he did on the back of the last page, laying out the house and shop and driveways on the lot.

She gave me a good tip she just got from someone - the telephone/internet company has new bundles and new cheaper rates. She called and said she wanted to lower her bill and was there a cheaper plan she could go on. She's now saving $20 a month and got faster internet! I am calling this morning, for sure.

We didn't do much else on Saturday. I took a nap, read some more of the book I am reading. What a long book, but good. DH listened to a race online Saturday night. He kind of wanted to do the online pay per view live broadcast, but when he saw that it was $48 and only showed the main event (which if there were no yellow or red flags could literally be over in 10 minutes), not the races leading up to it, he said nope. Not worth the money and he wants to save for house stuff.

We're pretty much out of groceries to make dinners, so I went into the city yesterday morning so I could do a stock up. Besides being more expensive, the grocery store here in town just doesn't have meats I like. I've tried them. We like thin steaks, which they don't have and I've tried their chicken breasts twice and they are too thick and dry. First I stopped at the feed store for our dog food and bought 2 bags. Then to Target to pick up prescriptions and used some more of my Starbucks gift card balance to buy a white mocha, which I haven't had in what feels like forever. Then I stopped at Staples and picked DH up another tube for house and shop plans. Then I finally got to Walmart - where by then it was 10:30 and pretty crowded. I had hoped to get there a lot earlier. Oh well. I got all my stuff and loaded up the car and got back home at noon. Unloaded and put it all away and had a bit of lunch. I was going to take a nap, but then DH went outside to do some yard work, so I figured that is a good time to get the vacuuming done. Then I took a nap :)

I finally finished the book we will be discussing in book club at the end of this month. It was kind of an emotionally exhausting book and I was relieved to be done with it.

DH has been working on landscaping drawings/ideas, so that is keeping him busy. He likes to draw stuff out. Dinner last night was a couple of steaks, green beans and some melon. While he was drawing I had started watching a movie on Demand and about 20 minutes into he decided he wanted to watch it too, so I started it over and we watched that until 10pm and I went to bed.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The view on the way home

Yesterday afternoon our friend texted DH with "we're getting Papa Murphy's pizzas - we can either bring them to your place,  or you come to our place.....or I guess neither" LOL. We ended up going to their place. Felt we needed to get out of the house, since we really didn't go anywhere all week. I have been craving pizza lately, so this was great.  DH brought our house (and landscape) plans and discussed with friend. We got a few ideas, too, from his building experience (and we are using same builder). Still just wish our friend didn't feel the need to drink so much. I'll bet he drank a 1/2 of a 5th of whiskey.

Driving home we were going the "back" way because they had been chip sealing on the freeway and DH didn't want to drive through it. The back way passes right by our property. As we got closer the sky got red and as we rounded a bend, and the direction we would be heading, it looked like we were going to drive right into the fire area!

Holy crap! Those fire guys DH talked to earlier in the day were right! It did get worse last night. Still not jumped over the freeway but almost right down to it.  All those white marks in the photos are ash debris falling in the air that showed up in the flash. They are also predicting that Sunday will be worse as the temp will be dropping about 20 degrees (finally!) , but with wind, I guess.

It was a very eerie feeling driving by all this. This fire has been a month now and apparently isn't over by a long shot. So far though they have managed to protect every home and building in the area of the fire, which is the main thing.

Friday, August 11, 2017

a new VPN - again

I'm happy the weekend is almost here for a couple of reasons. First, the usual - no work, haha! Second is we are supposed to have today and tomorrow in the 90's and starting Sunday we finally get down in to the 80's and even 70's next week. I am very tired of this hot weather and hopefully it is gone and done with for the summer. Now, if we could just get rid of all the smoke in the air.......

No plans this weekend. There is a "festival" in a very small town about 90 miles away that I think sounds fun. They have like 120 crafts and misc vendors. Maybe I can talk DH into going to it for something to do. Funny, the population of this little town is a little over 200.....and 120 vendors is almost as much as their whole population haha!

I went to log into my side job remotely and it wasn't working. Oh man, not this again. I emailed the guy at the office who is the go-between them and their IT company.  Turns out he moved my workstation and hadn't turned it back on, but once he did, I still couldn't get signed in.  It also turns out they have switched to yet another new IT company and the last one had set me up on this totally funky VPN system that I really don't like. I can't even get into my desktop full screen mode.

So, the new IT guy was awesome. Very quickly he had me set up with a normal VPN/remote connection (with a full screen of my desktop).  He also set up Outlook on my workstation desktop, which I have never had. I've always had to access my emails with them via Web Outlook. He also showed me how to set my emails up to my phone. It's all SO MUCH BETTER now.  And I can use my dual screens when remoted in and I can print to my home printer.  I'm just a happy camper all around. I emailed back the guy at the office this IT company is a keeper.

DH just went out to our property and at the end of our "lane" for our little subdivision was a bunch of fire management trucks. He texted me a picture and said it was a bunch of bigwigs...meeting there because they think the fire is going to jump the freeway and river over to our side. GRRR!  Not worried about our property, but the homes in the area, for sure.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Water and scams

We will need to have a well dug on our property. And it needs to be done before the house building starts because it would not be good to start building a house and find out there is no water! While we are not concerned that would happen (the well logs in the area are fine), we still want it done before building.

We have heard people say two different costs.....a couple people (one in person and one online in a video) say $10 per foot to dig. We have a couple others tell us, no, it's more like $30-$35 per foot. Big difference. If it's $10 per foot - lets get it done now. Well logs and neighbors well indicate needing to drill down about 145 feet.

DH kept saying, should we just do it now? I'm like well, if it's $10 a foot, sure. If it's $35 a foot, not yet. We don't have that much - we just spent $2800 on the site work and he knows we had $5,000. $5000-2800 does not equal another $5000 or more.  Seriously, it gets so annoying sometime. After next paycheck next week, I'll be back up to $4000 saved for it.

So, I have mentioned more than once - well call and get a quote (we have two phone numbers for 2 companies recommended in the area). We can't budget until we know what it costs! Finally, yesterday he calls one of them (used by our property neighbors and by friend who built his house a couple years ago) and it's $36 per foot and they are 3 months out. Ok, that is very most likely doable to have that extra in 3 months. Then DH says, but what if they get an opening and say they can do it in a month? Sigh.....if we don't have the money to do it then, we don't have the money. Why is that so hard to understand? You'd just have to tell them anytime after such and such date...(I'm anticipating having enough by the end of Sept)

Then I told him to call the other number and get that quote too. It's a local guy (the other one is from the city) so it's possible he might be a bit cheaper. He said he will give the other guy a call, too.

I was reading a story on Facebook about a scam pulled on a 79 year old. The scammer called and told him his grandson was in jail in his local police station, gave a phone number to call back on that is in another state and had him buy $3000 worth of Best Buy gift cards, call the number back and give them the gift card codes. Who ever has gotten bailed out of jail using gift cards? and if someone is that far gone in their mind that they would fall for that, then hopefully there is a way to set up an elderly person's phone so that they can only take incoming calls from certain numbers programmed in (family, doctors, etc.). And if you are of sound mind enough to figure out how to buy $3000 in Best Buy gift cards you'd think you'd know this is a scam. Sorry.......I'm not being very empathetic, I guess. Anytime someone I do not know calls I am suspicious. How does that end up changing when you get older?