Monday, February 29, 2016

Adulting Like a Boss

This is just another Bluemoon braggy post wherein I come in and say that I am that much closer to my debt being gone entirely.  It will be gone by May 15th at the latest, with an expected actual debtbegone date of May 1.  :-)  I'm so close I can taste it!

My tax refund has been significantly delayed because I'm an impatient moron.  I was delayed in getting my W-2 by several weeks because of the change to the federal transportation benefit.  Once I finally got it a couple of weeks ago, I immediately filed that night.  However, my laptop was scheduled for a reboot for updates, so I was racing against the clock to finish.  It got to the part about my direct deposit info and in my rush, I put in the wrong routing number.  So my refund was sent Thursday, but today the app informed me that the bank had returned my direct deposit (surely because of this error on my part) and they would now be sending me a hard check via mail, which should be mailed out by March 7th.  SIGH.  This is the most trouble I've EVER had with my taxes!

Luckily, it's really only annoying in principal, as I'm not in dire need of the money. Sure, I already have it all allocated in my head (and possibly in a notebook), but it's nothing pressing.  Hopefully I'll have it in my hot little hands by the end of next week.  I'm sure the same fate will befall my state refund, but that's only a hundred bucks or so, so I'm not too crushed about that delay.

I'm also expecting another hard check in the mail this week from our Pocono trip.  It would normally just be our deposit, but that trip turned out to be a bit of a disaster.  It's a shame, too, because the house was really lovely!  Unfortunately, the hot tub ended up being broken the whole time and then the fireplace insert went low on battery and chirped at us for multiple hours on Saturday.  Property manager couldn't get a hold of the owner to figure out how to address it, so we decided to cut our trip short by a day and head out Saturday afternoon.  Beyond that, if it's winter and you're not there to ski, there is NOTHING to do.  I mean NOTHING.  We were so bored.  We "explored" Friday and were tapped out pretty quickly.  That  would have been totally fine if the hot tub worked, and subsequently if we weren't being driven crazy by the incessant chirping of a dying battery.

Luckily, the owner was awesome and is choosing to issue us a full refund!  They sent the check via snail mail and I should get it this week.  It makes the sting of a failed weekend getaway dull a little bit.  :-)  We had some fun, but it's hard to keep your mood in full upswing when the entire reason you chose a vacation house is broken and thusly unavailable.  Better luck to us next time...we were probably due for some bad luck with a rental, as we've generally been pretty lucky.

So I've allocated all of this incoming money pretty carefully.  I did have to amend my plan slightly to include some upcoming routine car maintenance this weekend, but that's life, baby.  :-)  Regardless, it feels good to know that I can pay for said maintenance with real, live money instead of putting it on a credit card and hoping to pay it off later!

I'll also have some increased income in March going forward at least for a couple months.  For one, my trainer is leaving the gym and moving.  So after March I will not be working with him anymore, and thusly will be saving that chunk of money.  I don't have interest in training with the other trainers at the gym, and didn't intend to do this forever, anyway.  So we're going to really focus on how I'll proceed going forward for my last month with him, and then it's on me.

Beyond that, I recently realized that my transportation contributions had built up so much as the result of days off, alternate transportation, etc. that I was carrying around a balance of over $800!  My commute costs about $350 a month, so this was excessive.  I updated my withholdings for March to decrease by a couple hundred each month thereafter for the time being, and I may actually be able to do that for a few months before getting back down to a reasonable balance.  That will be a really nice perk to have that money back in my paycheck instead of automatically allocated to my transportation benefits.  Cheers for extra money!  You know what I'll be doing with it.  :-D

A growing part of me keeps thinking about how absolutely insane it will be when my debt is gone and I just have my ongoing monthly expenses to worry about.  It's crazy to know how much money I'll have available, and I already have a plan for that:  1) increase my retirement contributions from the bare minimum I've been contributing and 2) SAVINGS!  I want to grow my savings for life stuff as well as a down payment on a house down the line.  Can't wait to be at that point where I can legitimately afford to focus on these things...finally!

I feel like such a successful adult sometimes.  Set aside all the financial stuff and I'm just impressed by the small stuff.  I plan ahead and buy things in advance when I am thinking of it or when I have the extra money.  I almost never have those situations where I'm like "OH NO.  I'm out of body wash/loofahs/floss picks/Ibuprofen/vitamins/lotion/nail polish remover/kleenex".  That's because I buy these things in advance and plan to always have a replacement on hand. Is it sad that never running out of razor blades or mouthwash makes me feel like a successful adult?  If it is, then call me the queen of the sads!  :-D

Sure, I'm exhausted because I made a poor choice to stay up late to watch Leo win Best Actor, and no, I'm not on the ball with everything all the time.  But I brush my teeth twice a day and floss before bed, I get my car maintenance done on a routine basis, I go to all the Drs. appts. I'm supposed to on a regular basis, I pay all my bills on time...

Considering that after my divorce I knew jack about paying bills, or the state of my accounts, or how to manage car insurance or inspections  and a million other little things like this....I feel like I am pretty damn awesome these days.  Go me.  :-) Happy Monday to all!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Spin, Spin, Spin

It is not a good Monday.

I had a four day weekend.  We took Thursday and Friday off to drive to the Poconos for a little mini getaway.  We arrived and the house was super cute and well stocked and seemed promising. However, we quickly learned that the hot tub was not working, and spent the next two days dealing with the property manager trying to get it fixed.  He was very responsive, but the guy he was sending over couldn't get it figured out.  Finally on Saturday he conceded it was broken.  Also on Saturday, the fireplace (aka the other thing we'd been most excited about), which had a fireplace insert in it, started chirping at us CONSTANTLY because the battery in the receiver was low.  We determined that based on our own research b/c the property manager had no idea and couldn't get a hold of the owner to find out.  It drove us CRAZY.  :-o

I learned something about the Poconos this weekend---I don't need to go back.  It may be pretty in the summer and fall, but in the winter it is not remarkable and there's nothing to do if you don't ski. Seriously.  We spent the day driving around Friday trying to explore, but most things we wanted to check out were closed, and the rest were lackluster at best.  We had lunch at a brewery with OK food, but it was full of one bajillion kids for some reason, so it was seriously obnoxious.

Now, the lack of things to do wouldn't have bothered me so much if everything at the house was in working order. I would have been A-OK spending my weekend in and out of the hot tub and the rest of the time in front of the fireplace.  But by Saturday even the fireplace option was gone.  Friday night was bearable only because we grilled (in the cold) and drank a lot of margaritas.  :-o  Thank god for our traveling frozen margarita machine!!

We were bored.  The hot tub was totally unusable, and the tub inside the house was miniscule.  The fireplace would have driven me up the wall.  We decided to come home early.  We left around 2:30 on Saturday afternoon and got home about 6:30.  NOT what I'd planned.

I was so disappointed.  So frustrated.  I had really been looking forward to that, and I think we really benefit from those periodic escapes from daily life.  However, this trip just felt like a string of frustrations and it really dampened the whole experience.  We tried to make the best of things Saturday night.  We broke out our own firepit and roasted turkey hot dogs over the flames for dinner and drank strawberry daiquiris.  Admittedly, that was fun and it helped dull the disappointment a little bit.

We've had such good luck with our rentals in the past, so this was a bummer.  The property manager said he would work with the owner to see what kind of compensation he could get us for our issues, so hopefully we get comped for some of our expenses.  We searched for houses that specifically had fireplaces and hot tubs and didn't consider the ones that didn't have them.  If we'd known the hot tub was broken we never would have booked it!  Hopefully the owner takes that into consideration.

Beyond that, later that Saturday night I got an email from my mom telling me that my grandfather is moving into some Hospice House place on Monday.  He'd been in the hospital for awhile with pneumonia and then other issues, then went to a rehab place to work on putting some weight back on, etc.  Insurance decided last week that he wasn't making enough progress so they wouldn't cover it anymore, so he had to make a quick choice on where to move to.  He can't really be at home on his own anymore, so this is the new choice.

My mom says that aside from the name, this place is actually pretty OK and that it doesn't mean we've given up on him, but it's just more suited to his needs now.  Nonetheless, I spent some time crying about it Saturday night, which was obviously a mood killer, and it's just casting a dark cloud over everything right now.  I feel bad for not being there, I feel so sad that his life is going to be further reduced to a single room of his own space (aside from the common areas).  Yes, he can leave if he wants to go do things with the family, etc., it's not a prison.  But it's a huge change and it's sad and hard and I'm not even there to deal with the full weight of it.

Quite honestly I just feel very weepy and sad and annoyed with myself for making a big deal out of this stupid weekend vacation house bust when my grandfather's entire world is changing.  But that's what's happening and either I'm awful and selfish or one thing is magnifying the other and...who knows.

I know I'm a bit hard to love right now.  Short on patience, irritable, frustrated, always on the verge of boiling over.  BF is doing what he can with me, and he definitely means well, but right now I don't even know what I need.

I'm just trying to focus on work, which is annoying b/c of my patience levels already, but I just feel like my head is swirling and I need a good cry, but that's not feasible for the office.

This post is a mess.  Fitting!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Happy Fat

Well, it's happened, guys.  I've officially become fat and happy and I'm not so happy about that.  I knew my clothes had been fitting a bit more tightly later, but I didn't think too much of it, probably on purpose.  I'd also been avoiding the scale for the same reason.  Well, I got on the scale this morning and I'm officially at my highest weight ever.  EVER.  It's about 2-3 pounds higher than my previous higher weight and it made me cringe.

I know I'm strong.  I have some not awful muscles I've developed from my training sessions.  But I've basically given up on cardio.  I do it twice a week at best lately. For thirty minutes at a time.  I used to do it 5-6 times a week for an hour at a time.  WTF has happened to me?

Actually, I know the answer to that.  I moved way the hell away from civilization and my commute increased exponentially.  It's winter and it's cold as hell, and after I get home just shy of 7pm each night and finally eat dinner, the last thing I want to do is put on gym clothes and go BACK out into the cold.  I should be in bed by 10:30 at the very latest, so I hardly have any free time after dinner and before bed.  I hate spending what I do have at the gym!  Also, I moved in with the person I love. I like spending time with this person, and I like cooking dinner with him and watching The X-Files with him and curling up with him on the couch.  I like all of that better than I like going to the gym.

It's bizarre because I love how the gym makes me feel once I'm there and moreso once I'm done.  I love feeling stronger and seeing muscles get more defined and increasing my weights at the gym.  I just hate getting myself there.  I hate that I have to sacrifice doing the things I enjoy for something I need to do.  But damn....if my encounter with the scale this morning is any indication, I definitely need to do it, anyway.

I don't want to be fat and happy.  Honestly, I'm too old to be fat and happy and not have that be a health risk.  It's all so interconnected in the most basic, obvious way.  I eat my stress, my exhaustion, my work frustrations, my commute annoyances.  I go home and lay around and make 100 different excuses of why I can't go to the gym.  My head hurts.  I'm too hungry.  I'm so tired.  I have to do laundry.  I need to wash my hair.  What about the X-Files episode?  I'll go tomorrow.  I'll go twice this weekend.  I'll run the stairs at work.  Bullshit.

I've hit rock bottom here.  I'm trying not to beat myself up too much because I know exactly how to right all of these wrongs.  I know how to fix it.  I know I can do it because I've done it before, but that doesn't make it any less daunting.

I have to get into a swimsuit next weekend at the chalet in the Poconos for our hot tub time.  :-o Also, I'm super tired of all of my work pants fitting so damn tight.  Buttons digging into your stomach all day is NOT SEXY.

Unfortunately, I can't get to the gym tonight either.  I'm taking Metro out to a station where BF will pick me up so we can get a quick dinner and then go see Kathy Griffin.  Nothing to do about that.  I guess I will just focus on being as active as I can today--taking the stairs, not snacking a ton, doing a set of squats and lunges and calf raises in my office over lunch.  Ha!  Better than nothing.

Luckily after tonight we have a weekend, and it will be a very good challenge for me.  It's supposed to be brutally cold outside.  :-o  Nonetheless, I'm going to make it my goal to go to the gym Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  We'll start there---small goals!  I have to do something!

I'm all for being happy, but I don't think I need the fat part in there, too.  ;-)

Monday, February 8, 2016

Chocolate Cake for Breakfast

I just ate chocolate cake for breakfast, guys.  I don't even feel that bad about it.

Case in point:

It's a Monday.

I slept poorly last night, which meant I woke up probably six times throughout the night after not going to bed until around 11:30 to start with.

I'm hormonal.

No really, I'm hormonal.  Boyfriend fell asleep without giving me a good night kiss last night and I felt devastated, unloved, unappreciated.  I'm a cliche!  Boyfriend got to stay in bed this morning while I trundled out into the chilly morning and I felt wronged by the universe.

My skin is broken out in my chin area and jawline like I'm a 13 year old girl.  SEXY.

I'm trying to re-frame my outlook, but it's a struggle.  My office is cold, I remain hormonal, and I skipped coffee this morning because I had this naive notion of being more mindful of my sugar intake again.  OOPS.  Pretty sure the chocolate cake ruined that one!  I have two big glasses of water at my desk.  Maybe flushing out the sugar all day long will work?  ;-) :-p

I'm trying to take inspiration from this sharkitty that I found on Twitter this morning:

I printed that baby out and am going to hang it at my desk to remind me to BE A SHARK.

Let's focus on the positive here:

I ate chocolate cake for breakfast.  This is what adulting really looks like, right?!

I am waiting on the last of three Etsy purchases to arrive today.  I got two pairs of super cute earrings and a necklace, the latter of which is supposed to arrive today.  New sparkly things are always good!

We're going to see Kathy Griffin on Thursday, which should be awesome.  I kind of love her, though, I'm particularly a sucker for her with Anderson Cooper on NY's Eve!

It's supposed to snow tonight and tomorrow.  Nothing earthshattering, nothing debilitating.  This could be a bad thing, as it may just be enough to make my commute long and messy and stressful, but in spite of this...I can't deny that I love to watch the snow fall.  So pretty!

Phantom of the Opera tix go on sale Thursday.  Hoping to get some tickets this week!

It's less than two weeks until I get a four day weekend for my Poconos trip with BF.  We could definitely use the escape!  We spend a lot of time together, but it's always different when we are able to get away from the house, the grind, the chores, the obligations.  Vacations are for indulgence and freedom from the day to day stuff, and I am definitely looking forward to that!

V-Day:  I'm not a super V-Day person.  When I was single it made me feel like crap no matter how ridiculous I knew that to be.  As part of a couple, it's still not a huge deal.  I got BF a cute card and will likely look for a small gift for him, but nothing big.  I did, however, get two extra cards, one for my mom and one for my grandfather.  He's in poor health, she's over-extending herself taking care of him, so I thought the sentiment would be nice for both of them.  Hers is a funny card to make her laugh, his is a sincere one to remind him how much he is loved!  I am looking forward to getting those in the mail today or tomorrow in hopes of  them arriving on time.

ETA:  Just figured out the perfect small gift for BF.  He found a hot sauce he loved the last time we visited Charleston, but he used it all and we can't buy it locally, and they have no online presence.  So I called them up and ordered three bottles and it's shipping out tomorrow!  Perfection for my hot sauce obsessed boyfriend.  :-)

Peyton Manning won the Super Bowl.  I love Peyton.  He's a class act, through and through.  A team player, a leader, and an insanely talented quarterback.  I've watched him and liked him for years, and I was so glad to see him win again last night.  If he does retire, it's awesome to go out on this kind of high note.  Broncos are the enemy of my Chiefs, but I am a Peyton fan, so this win made me happy. Also, Cam Newton is a sore loser.  He's young and has had a lot of success, but he needs to learn to be gracious in the face of a loss.

Nails - I painted them a lovely mossy green color yesterday.  It's making me happy to look at them, especially after my in your face, almost neon pink nails from last week.  These are much more soothing!

Also, I had a really nice weekend.  I got to see two of my favorite girlfriends on Saturday for brunch, which was lovely.  We laughed and chatted and it's just so good to get that girl time!  Saturday night BF and I went to see a movie (a completely silly horror movie called "The Boy") and then went to dinner.  It was nice to be out!  J didn't come at all this weekend because she had to do community service hours for National Honor Society.  Sunday was, of course, all about the Super Bowl.  We totally indulged in terms of food and made several fun things, including:

Chex Mix in the crockpot - that was a first for me!  Lesson learned-there's a reason they don't include pretzels in the crockpot recipe.  They were hard as a rock!  However, the addition of parmesan goldfish was GENIUS.  That was BF's idea and they are amazing in there.

Bacon Jalapeno Cheese Ball - This was BF's deal.  WAY too hot for me as the recipe was originally, and he stepped it up.  This thing has jalapenos, a habanero pepper and habanero shredded cheese.  :-o My mouth burned and my sinuses cleared just thinking about it!

Buffalo Chicken Dip - Another crockpot recipe that we've made before.  Super easy and so yummy!

Puff Pastry Pizza Twists - Pinterest recipe that was actually super tasty!  We added little mini pepperonis and it was fun to twist the little strips off for munching.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Footballs - YUM.  That is all.

We made subs for lunch and basically ate our way through the rest of the day!  :-o

So...the summary of this post is that I am a breakfast cake-eating person who ate the entirety of Super Bowl sunday and THAT IS OK.

I have some chex mix at my desk for later.  ;-)

I'm off to go find the shark in me to attack this Monday!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Oh, the places we'll go...

So we booked our beach house for our now traditional Labor Day week trip.  :-)  We've booked earlier each year, and as a result each year our rentals have gotten a little better!  This year the improvement is in proximity to the beach.  We are only two lots away from the beach!  One of the decks looks straight out towards the beach, which is awesome.  We're still not ON the beach, but that will probably never happen.  :-)  The house has a private pool, a hot tub, and a pool table. It has a 2 person whirlpool tub in the Master bathroom, a hammock on one of the deck levels and a wet bar in the lower level. The house is awesome and I'm excited to have it on the books!

I usually book with my tax refund, but this year everything is all screwed up.  For one, my employer is currently redoing my W-2 because of last minute changes to the federal transportation benefit.  I was told it could take up to four weeks to get my amended W-2, which is super annoying since I usually file my taxes within the week I get my W-2.  However, the change will reduce my taxable income by over $1K, so it's worth the wait.

Also, it appears that participating in my Firm's HSA (Health Savings Account) has also complicated my taxes a bit.  I'm not sure how, but I definitely have more forms than I usually do!  Hopefully that will also benefit me as I believe that's also pre-tax stuff.  If I understand correctly, I am waiting for one more additional form from my employer relating to that, so everything is frozen in place.

Returning to the happier subject of travel, our Poconos trip is less than three weeks away!  I'm excited for the escape and looking forward to the solo time with BF.  It will be a lovely way to celebrate a belated V-Day solo (we'll have J the actual weekend) as well as to celebrate our two years together. It's also an area of PA I've never been to, so that should be fun!  I enjoy checking out new places.

Beyond that, my gf, A and I are planning on a long weekend trip to NYC in April.  Short, but sweet and hopefully jam packed with fun!  We always have such a good time together, so I'm excited to get out of town and have a girls weekend.  :-)  We will surely see a show while we're there and there's no shortage of things to do in the city.  I haven't been in a few years, which is crazy considering how close it is.

I love looking at my calendar and knowing that so many good things are going on.  Poconos in February, NYC in April, Omaha in May, hopefully a visit by my friend, T in June, probably a long weekend getaway in July with BF & J for birthdays, OBX in much to look forward to!

In other news, it is seriously gloomy here today!  Drizzly and gray with a chance of some decent rain and maybe a thunderstorm later on.  Hopefully it will continue the crazy melting of our snow, which has already diminished greatly in this warmer than usual week!

I'm having lunch with a friend today, so that should be a nice diversion from the day.  Hopefully it's not pouring rain when I have to head out!

I worked out with my trainer last night for the first time in two weeks because of the snow.  Wow, did he push me hard!  I left that gym out of breath and with noodle arms and legs.  I legit came home and collapsed on the couch, totally drained.  He is tough, but he pushes me in a good way and I find myself doing things I didn't think I was capable of, which is awesome.  However, I fear for my arms later today, ha!

I suppose that's enough rambling for now.  Happy wednesday to all!


This post contains some bragging.  Forgive me, but I'm just too excited.  Since receiving my holiday bonus and thusly diving headlong into my "Pay off all the debt!" goal, I have made huge progress. Since the first day I started tracking my credit score, which was January 4th, my score has gone up 96 points!

It's been a gradual increase each week, as I've been checking each Tuesday via Credit Karma.  The best part?  It hasn't even reached it's fully updated status in terms of my current credit card balances. One has been halved since the last update and one has dropped another significant amount.  I can't wait to see where the scores stand when it finally catches up.  However, I hope that takes awhile because I'm paying off so much that it can't keep up.  ;-)

** CK DISCLAIMER:  The scores I get from CK aren't true FICO scores.  They are the proprietary scores that Equifax and TransUnion use themselves.  However, from all my research they are pretty accurate as compared to the FICO scores, and I'm predominantly using this site to track my financial and credit progress as I pay off my debt.

Anyway, just had to share that awesomeness with you all.  :-)  I'm really, really proud of myself for all of this, as I've finally put the proper focus on this aspect of my life and it's paying off....literally!