Home > Archive: May, 2016

Archive for May, 2016

Supplemental Unemployment Insurance

May 28th, 2016 at 11:26 pm

I had never heard of such a thing before, but came across the term in my reading and discovered there is in fact such a thing. One company that offers it (not sure how many do) is called Income Assure. This is something I would be tempted to do, or at least research more intensively, but alas, I don't and won't qualify. You cannot have been unemployed within the past two years ( which won't be true of me until December) and the company you work for has to have at least 20 employees (which won't ever be true of my company). Also it only applies to W-2 employees, which is currently true of me. But with luck and some growth in the company, I could eventually be offered a small ownership stake and would get my earnings reported on a K-1. That's still a couple of years down the road, though. Still, supplemental unemployment insurance would be something I would check into if my circumstances were different. At least I finally got a good *disability* policy by joining a professional association. None is offered thru work. Lower quality benefits is a downside of working for a smaller employer. But on the positive side, we also don't have bureaucracy ourselves, only with the institutions we deal with.

Bed & Breakfast Trip

May 23rd, 2016 at 11:31 pm

Just home from an overnight B&B trip in which I met up with fellow SA blogger Patient Saver.

This is the second time that PS and I have met in person. The first time was five years ago, when I was driving home from a cousin's Massachusetts wedding. We've known each other through this site for about ten years, though, and we are of similar age and demographic, and we've had career and personal ups and downs that are similar to each other, so this was a nice chance to chat more personally than one does on a public website.

We met up yesterday around noon at the B&B, an old house sitting along the Delaware River at the PA/NY border. Unfortunately yesterday's weather was gray and gloomy, which constrained our activities, but left plenty of time for conversation. After spending an hour drinking tea while sitting out on the front porch, we asked the Innkeeper for a lunch restaurant recommendation in the artsy town of Narrowsburg NY. The restaurant was very nice and the town was interesting, but because it was still the weekend BEFORE Memorial Day, at least half of the stores, including the relatively "big" arts center in the town, were closed--as was the riverside restaurant we had originally planned on for dinner. We ended up at an adequate Italian place (more pizzeria than restaurant) which we felt we could easily find our way home from in the dark along the narrow, not particularly well-marked roads in this sleepy part of New York state.

This morning, we were running at different speeds--something that could be predicted by looking at our typical weekend blog entries on this site. PS's are full of things that she's done during the day, while mine are, admittedly, boring, since I am all about sitting, reading, and reflecting and not so much about acting, when I have some time to myself. After a lovely breakfast at the Inn, we decided to check out and tag-team drive to a town 20 miles away and tour Gray Towers, the home of US Forest Service founder, conservationist, and two-time PA Governor Gifford Pinochet. We wandered around there for about an hour or so before going our separate ways.

Our conversation during the day we spent together was more personal than our blogs here, focusing more on details of our personal and relationship histories and less on the financial. No surprises--I think we both tend towards the reserved-yet-open. Just a chance to get to know each other a bit better than is possible online in a public forum. If we do such a trip again, we should schedule it for a more likely to be sunny time, when we might be more likely to be able to do something like kayak (something which I won't do on my own, but enjoy doing with friends). And while it was lovely that nothing was crowded, also going before Memorial Day meant that many things were closed.

What are your money scripts?

May 18th, 2016 at 10:21 pm

Take this test:

Links to a test developed by two psychologists who have written books on the subject (which I own but have not yet had a chance to read). The test measures four money scrips: money avoidance, money worship, money status, and money vigilance.

I'll report my scores in the comments. I suspect that many of us on this site will score similarly, by virtue of the fact wer are here!

Down to 5 figures debt

May 18th, 2016 at 08:44 pm

After having had my debt spike back up to the low 6 figures after my 7 month period of unemployment back in 2014, I am pleased to announce that I am finally back down to 5-figure debt ($99,195). This includes my mortgage.

For part of the time that my debt spiked, I was moving things around from 0% balance transfer credit card to new 0% balance credit card when the old term expired. Then a year ago, I decided that the debt would be easier to get rid of--at least psychologically--if I had a steady schedule of debt repayments which I then could try to exceed. So one year ago next week, I took out a 20K personal loan from Discover Bank, technically at 10.99%.

I paid it off yesterday and today, the account has even disappeared from my login page. Over the year, I ended up paying a total of $21,757.04 on the loan, making the effective rate actually 8.79% because of early and extra payments.

Some of that amount is a real decrease in my loan balance, but the rest has been transfered to lower rate loans collateralized in part by my house and by another financial account, so at lower rates (3.67% and 4.44%).

I prefer loans to zero percent credit card balance transfers because there is a predictable schedule to the loan payoff, which I can make a game of beating. Currently, I believe that can have the non-mortgage debt ($32,045) paid off by the end of 2019, and the mortgage ($67,150) paid off by the end of 2024. Technically, I could take longer to pay off the non-mortgage debt, but there's no point to that. My required minimum payments are now lower, giving me a bit more liquidity in the case of short term needs.

Whole 30

May 5th, 2016 at 10:16 pm

I am trying a new way of eating this month. It's a Paleo variation on a vegan diet called the Whole 30, and it's basically a whole foods diet that eliminates, for 30 days, added sugar, dairy, grains, legumes, and processed foods. I already eat very little dairy, so that's not a problem, and I'm not too much of a sweets eater (other than fruit, which IS allowed on this) so that's pretty manageable too.

The big changes are eliminating grains and legumes, as well as processed foods. It's only for a month; then one adds the eliminated food categories back one at a time to see if one has reactions to them--and ideally one breaks any "addiction" to sugar during this time, so that will be lower aftwards too.

So far the biggest challenge is breakfast, since I've long been a cereal eater. For now, I'm doing a couple of eggs most mornings, along with some veggies and fruit, and the occasional smoothie or chia pudding. (Chia pudding is also something I am keeping on hand for desserts too--it's chia seeds and almond milk and I sweeten it with chopped up dates and some other fruit.) Then for lunch and dinner I have some kind of meat (a turkey burger, piece of chicken, or some fish) and a couple of vegetables--usually at least one sweet potato or piece of winter squash each day to help with satiety. And a couple of times I've had a package of almonds for a snack (along with an apple).

Hopefully this will be good for the budget too--my food spending always nicks upwards during tax season as I end up eating out a lot, so reining it back in will be good for the pocketbook as well as the waistline. The main intent is to get me to eat more healthy, home-cooked meals. Not that I eat all that badly, but I've been indulging in commercial thousand island dressing on the salads I buy for lunch at the deli across the street and other, or getting a taco salad at the Mexican restaurant and eating part of the fried shell...foods that have an excess amount of unhealthy fat.

There's another bit of incentive: in a month, I will be seeing my college boyfriend for the first time in 28 years. He will be out east on a business trip and we will get together. He's happily married, so this is not a romantic prospect, just me wanting to look better than I currently do in front of a man I've known since I was 18 (with long hair and 60 fewer pounds on my frame).

Slow and Steady

May 1st, 2016 at 05:28 pm

Cutting away at the debt...over 3k down so far this year. I'll be moving some debt around this month, paying off the personal loan I took out with Discover a year ago but will take out another loan at 4.44% (rather than 10.99%) to do so (and the loan balance will be 10k, not 20k!!) I still have north of 30k non- mortgage debt and north of 101k total debt, but by mid -year, I expect to be down on both. Debt reduction is still the main focus here, but I think by next year, I might be able to think about increasing the savings as well. I'm currently saving 10% per pay to retirement and I'd like to increase that to 12% and ultimately 15%, but with the debt load, I'm not there yet.