Tag: finances (page 1 of 3)

2016 Update – Part Three

It’s been quite some time since I posted any sort of update.  I’ll try to give some highlights from the past few months.  (Part One and Part Two were posted earlier in the week)

October

  • We replaced the downstairs toilet with a low-flow toilet.
  • We had the house appraised, as part of the refinance process. The appraisal came back at quite a nice number, giving us a hefty boost in equity value.
  • I attended the Denton County Master Gardener Fall Festival in Flower Mound and the Master Gardener Round Up in Denton later in the month, at which I submitted my application for the 2017 Master Gardener Class.
  • Bill had to travel to Houston for a client the last week of October, so I went with him. We left early and had two weekends to spend in Galveston.Galveston Beach Galveston BeachIt was a fun trip, with some sightseeing on the weekends (even a Duck Tour!).Duck Tour  Our hotel in Houston was on the very edge of downtown, so I did a lot of walking / exploring of downtown Houston.  The weather was perfect!

    View from our hotel

    View from our hotel

  • My cousin and I began a reading challenge on her It’s a Mystery Blog. If you’d like to know more, visit Bestseller Code 100.

November

  • We finalized the mortgage refinance.
  • I had my Master Gardener interview early in the month and then received word just a week ago that I was accepted. I’m super excited and know I will learn a lot about gardening in Texas.
  • I sent two crocheted baby blankets to a relative who delivered twin boys.crocheted baby blankets for twins
  • Bill ordered a computer, which will replace three old boxes that run continuously, serving various functions. Hopefully one new unit will use less electricity than three old units.
  • We spent Thanksgiving holiday putting up shelves & rails & hangars in the garage. We’re not quite finished yet.  Bill has new toolboxes arriving this Thursday and then he will be putting up some more shelves & lighting around the tool area.garage organization
  • I’ve tried to keep up with the bounty (leaves, twigs, etc.) that the neighbor’s cottonwood tree continues to bestow upon us.
  • I picked up an art easel along the side of the curb on a trash day. It needed some repair, which Bill did.  So now I have an easel!art easel
  • My raised bed continues to keep me happy with Swiss chard, kale, mustard greens, and Chinese cabbage. Oh, and I even planted a couple of Brussels sprouts, just for fun.  I probably planted them too late, though, as they aren’t growing very fast.  Maybe we’ll have a mild winter and I’ll be able to harvest some sprouts!
  • Bill installed a pull-out cabinet kit for my most-used and most-unorganized cupboard. It works beautifully!kitchen cabinet pull out shelf

And now you are up to date!

2010 Recap – Personal Finance Goals

When we were first married over 31 years ago, keeping track of our personal finances was very simple. One bank account, two people, one income and relatively few expenditures; our financial life fit easily on a single ledger sheet. Unfortunately, those days are long gone. Three children, three decades, and three moves later things are much more complicated. We have bank accounts in four states, ongoing expenses in three states, and a single ledger sheet will no longer suffice. Sometime in the mid1990s I learned how to use a spreadsheet and since then, I have used them as my main accounting tool. A spreadsheet works great as a check book ledger, but it is not so great when trying to tally up accounts at the end of year and come up with all the numbers needed for taxes.

For several years organizing our personal finance tracking has been an ongoing goal. I still use the spreadsheet as a check ledger, but I have been sporadically using Quicken also. Last February I actually finished inputting all of 2008’s numbers, which made filing 2008’s Income Tax a relative breeze. I resolved to keep Quicken current, working a little bit on a daily basis as needed, a resolve that fizzled sometime in mid-May. Here it is the end of 2009 and I am now faced with the prospect of several days devoted exclusively to inputting data to get Quicken up-to-date, a prospect that fills me with dread and one on which I am sure I will hone my procrastinate skills. There is nothing more tiresome than inputting financials that are months old. You would think I would remember the pain during the year when it would be so much easier to input the data on a daily basis, fifteen minutes a day! I bet you can guess what one of my 2011 New Year’s Resolutions will be!

I suppose I might find it easier to keep Quicken current if I relied solely upon it for my day-to-day financial status information, rather than continuing to keep and rely upon the spreadsheet ledgers. As it is, I am duplicating efforts and I realize this, but I have used the spreadsheets for so long that I find them much more reliable and informative on a day-to-day basis than Quicken. I’m a creature of habit, I admit. Perhaps my 2011 Resolution should be to use Quicken on a daily basis and abandon the use of the spreadsheets?

One area that I have done fairly well in keeping on top of is my Financial Diary.

I began creating this diary in January 2009 and it has been so useful these past two years, especially when we moved and needed to close some accounts and open others. Having account numbers, contact information, and all other pertinent account information readily available in one place has been invaluable. For the most part, I have kept this up-to-date on a daily basis, although there are two or three account pages sitting on my desk, waiting for some final clarifications before I add them to the diary.

While the Financial Diary has proven its usefulness, enough so that I keep it mostly current, dealing with my desk clutter in an equally successful fashion continues to elude me. I have tried several different methods of organization, some with mixed results, some total disasters. I love the look of a clean, spare desk, but it seems to be beyond my skills to keep it that way. I blame genetics — if I had pictures of my parents’ desks, I’d post them here as a testament to the genetics I am fighting!

Of course, the ever-present long-term financial goals are to save more money and pay down the credit cards. 2010 has been a so-so year on that front. While we’ve not paid the credit cards down much, savings has been accumulated and used for several financial emergencies without adding any to the credit card balances. And our vacation in December was paid solely from savings, as was Christmas. Progress is being made and with any luck, 2011 will continue that progress.

The Long Walk

This year instead of doing New Year’s Resolutions, I am doing small monthly resolutions. January’s was getting our financial records in order, which actually took all of January and February. And yes, it was a huge project (which I still intend to blog about), but it should not have taken two months. But with Miss Munchkin about, the best laid plans of mice and men … well, you know how that goes. March I didn’t set any goal, since I knew I would be traveling a fair bit (one week to Alabama, the next week to Ft. Lauderdale), but I did manage to get our taxes done and filed in record time. One of the little perks from the two months of working on getting our financial records organized!

So that brings me up to April. For April I had two very ambitious goals. One was to get back to regular blog writing (yeah, I know it’s the 8th of April already and this is the first post, so I have failed miserably) and also get some much needed updating done on my blogs (new software, new looks, etc.). All of which does not seem to be happening. Can you tell that Miss Munchkin is back home? She spent all of February and the first two weeks of March with her daddy, which is the only reason I managed to complete January’s goal in February! But with her back home again I am really accomplishing so very little and it is rather frustrating. And this week she is sick with some cold/fever/sore throat/ear hurt something that she has passed on to David and now I am coming down with it. She is better today, a bit, anyway, but not totally well. At least she’s eating some today and not running the fever.

Anyway, April. My second goal for April is daily exercise. I’ll be fifty this month (gasp!) and I really would like to be in better physical condition. Losing some weight would be an added bonus, but stamina and conditioning is really what I’m after. So beginning on March 30th (a Monday – I begin things better on Monday’s than on the 1st of the month) I set the goal of getting to the gym just as soon as Bill goes out the door to work in the morning. So far, pretty good. Of the eight possible days (I am not counting weekends), I have made it to the gym seven days. And the day I didn’t make the gym, I went for a long, long walk.

I first thought of walking to the town center in Southwood back in February, when Miss Munchkin was not here, but it never seemed to work out, mostly because we had one of the coldest February’s on record. Last Friday, though, was the perfect day, sunshine, low 70s, and Munchkin spending the day away from home with Mommy. So after Homeschool Chat, around 12:30 I headed out, water bottle, cell phone and debit card in hand. I walked to the town center (a distance I figure is about 2 miles) and then had lunch at one of the little cafes there. Then I walked the two blocks to the lake. Halfway around the lake, I sat on one of the benches and called my mom and chatted with her for about half an hour. Then I finished walking around the lake (a total of 2 miles) and headed for home, taking a scenic path that I had not walked before (at least 2 miles, possibly a bit further).

It was a beautiful walk and I wish I had a smaller digital camera that carried easily, as pictures would have been lovely. These pictures of the lake path from last summer will have to do. But I think I went just a tad bit too far. I was extremely sore the next couple of days and didn’t sleep well at night. Also, I should have thought of sunscreen, as I got a small bit of sunburn. Luckily, it was the sort that turns to tan instead of blistering and peeling.

I am ready to walk it again soon, although I’m not sure walking it at the noon hour / early afternoon will be a good idea in the summertime. Probably I have about a six week window where it will be the perfect walk before it gets too hot. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to walk it again soon. And I definitely want to drive the route I took (as nearly as I can) to see how far I really walked. I figure it was at least six miles.

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