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Viewing the 'Not shy or retiring' Category: My English Castle's Personal Finance Blog
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Weighing the Options

January 29th, 2020 at 01:17 am

It looks like my adjunct class on Women and Lit will not adequately enroll. But the director of that institution asked if I'd teach Urban Cinema that term. Ugh. I taught it once before, so I have some material ready; however it is not my favorite subject. It's not wonderful pay, but it would help with DD's upcoming college expenses. But it's a lot to balance with my regular teaching and admin at my "real" job. I think I have a few days to decide.

On the job front, I'm hoping my boss will let me know soon if he has indeed put me forward for a title change and more money. That would help me make the other decision.

Frugal month continues. I've been parking six blocks from campus and walking to avoid parking fees, and have found the cheaper coffee in the education building very nice. Small economies, but still.

10+ Years on Saving Advice

January 2nd, 2020 at 04:03 am

In response to CCF's idea, I've spent some time thinking about the last ten years of our financial life.

While we'd paid our mortgage down to $35,000, we used the small inheritance from my mom to pay it off. Our biggest expense is our property taxes.

We've had challenges--mostly the uncertain job market for my DH. But things seem to have settled down for him, and his contract has been extended out a year. This is the happiest he's been in a job, and also the best paid. He doesn't spend much--except on that upcoming Master's degree. He takes the bus to work, and has a free lunch.

My financial anxieties have been patched by adjunct jobs along with my regular university teaching. I'm eager to give the adjunct jobs, but will hang on for the next few in order to help fund our next big expenseBig GrinD's university tuition.

She's 17 and a very low-maintenance responsible kid. She's paid all her university application fees from money earned in her PT job at the grocery store.

My biggest success has been automatically funding my university pension and retirement plan. My pay is peanuts, but this has been the reason I feel good about retirement. Years of auto-saving is the answer.

We've spent more than most on travel, but less on things that don't matter much to us like cars and toys.

I'm eager to downsize--tired of window replacements and cleaning gutters. I'd like a nice townhome or condo.

I've also found a lot of inspiration and some lovely friends here on SA. I don't have many frugal "real" friends, so have enjoyed following many of your lives.

Cool School Project

December 14th, 2019 at 12:27 am

Our DD completed a fun project for her HS math class. It asked students to find a job they thought they'd qualify for after college, estimate their income, taxes, SSI, Medicare, and health insurance deductions. They then had to find housing, estimate car, utility, food, debt repayment expenses. They bought housing after figuring down payment, insurance, property taxes etc.

She REALLY enjoyed the exercise, especially condo shopping, I think. She was especially delighted to put O in the "student loan repayment" column--even when her teacher wrote "really?" She told him that was her goal. And indeed that is our goal.

We're still waiting to hear from three of her five US universities, but her "safety" school is my employer. She's been accepted there and the University of Minnesota. The next batch should be out next week, then we start in on the British schools.

Tomorrow an update on the situations at my university. It's been quite the semester.

EFC=UGH

November 18th, 2019 at 10:04 pm

Yes, we finished the FAFSA, the American college apps, and got what I can only describe as a staggering Expected family Contribution number. It was almost equivalent to my salary.


I have little other news as it will take me a while to wrap my head around that number. Here's an interesting take from the NYT on EFCs: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/15/your-money/fafsa-financial-aid-student-loans.html

Life, cold weather, and November continue.

Raining and Awful

December 1st, 2018 at 04:31 pm

This seems like a good day to stay in and grade papers or update the online grades. That will happen, but not before the semiannual trivia tournament. We've lost our amazing player, but are still hopeful.

And today is payday, so that's excellent news. I'll be taking a look at what can be replenished from the recent drain to savings. And it's 17 days to London. Still more planning to do there, but getting very excited.


Because we won't be home for Christmas, I'm doing minimal decorating around here, but did pull the Advent Calendar out and filled the first two days. I'll have to replenish that tomorrow.

I continue to have mixed feelings about my evening adjunct job. On one hand, I love the different demographic and the literature classes. The pay, while minimal, always comes in handy. On the other hand, I'm exhausted teaching until 10pm and then teaching again at 8am the next day. It's hard to wind down.

There may be a halfway solution. I could try to limit teaching there to summer months or just an occasional class. I thought I'd do it for a single semester, but it's now been 12 or 13 years. I've been so fried lately that I really want to step back and re-evaluate.

How Much to Say?

July 8th, 2018 at 02:50 pm

Long-time readers (man, you all are so patient with the minutiae of my life) may recall some of my concerns about my colleagues/friends. Most of my university teaching friends have doctorates, some masters' degrees, but our pay is not so great. Everyone I know picks up extra work wherever we can--adjunct jobs, freelance editing, you name it. And the salary issue is worse for those whose spouse is also teaching for us. I won't go into my political rant, but we've had issues all over our state university system. The issue is, of course, compounded by the fact that many financed grad school with student loans.

I have a core group of about six women who I'm close to, and of those six of us, four of them struggle mightily with money. They are all married, each have two kids, and work very hard, picking up extra work where and when they can. But during a lunch on Friday, three said that apart from the mandatory state pension withdrawals, they had NO retirement savings, nothing in IRAs or the 403b the university offers. That made me feel really sick. I'm the oldest of all of them, but the rest are about to turn 50 soon. So, here's my question. Do I just completely butt out? We agreed years ago that if we sub for one another on an adjunct job, we pay the sub. One of them owes me $200 for a sub job, and I would so love to walk her through signing up for a 403b and depositing say $100 of the $200 she owes me in that account. They've had so many medical issues, a child with leukemia, broke parents, you name it. It's a head/heart issue. I want them to be ok. But it's too interfering, is or isn't it?

Back From California

June 4th, 2018 at 09:43 pm

Back from my little five-day jaunt to Bodega Bay with my Minnesota girlfriends. Man, we had fun. We got a VRBO right up from the beach, walked through Armstrong Redwoods, drank wine, hiked to a lighthouse and all around. It wasn't extremely cheap as it was a friend's birthday, but it was a lovely trip and really helped clear the mind and get me ready for summer. I used airmiles for the flight, and that always feels so good.

We had an interesting talk about retirement goals and our next travel plans.

Back to reality later today.

Updating interest on UK House Fund

Edging Back In

May 11th, 2018 at 02:28 am

Yay Hooray! Today was the last day of classes! Days of grading and admin lie ahead, but the load lessens.

I had sort of an eventful last day. On my way to the university I stopped for a last day doughnut treat for my favorite class. Unfortunately for the store, my handy reusable bag caught a wine bottle display and off went two bottles of Riesling smashing to the floor. The clerks were great about it, but I was a bit abashed.

I've somehow got put on a huge, intense, grant- writing committee that looks like it's going to require some work well into the next month. If we get the money, it'll be great, but more committee work was not on my wish list.

There's plenty more to chat about, but I am indeed just edging my way into summer break.

Back Soon

April 23rd, 2018 at 09:14 pm

Oh, my SA friends, I've missed you. But the blasted semester will be over soon, and I'll be back to accountability and a little more time.

Off to teach yet another class and grade ten thousand more papers.

Interesting Times

April 11th, 2018 at 08:00 pm

My boss e-mailed me yesterday asking for a few minutes. I wondered what was up, but knew he wasn't thrilled with his job. He has a 25% administrative appointment and it's not his thing. So, beginning this summer, I'll be taking over his administrative position while staying in the classroom 75 percent of my contract.

Honestly, there are many things I'm eager to change, and a three-class load is much easier than a four-class load. I'm pretty pleased; it gives me more time and more authority to improve things.

I am pretty darn busy right now with four weeks of the semester left--plus my adjunct class, a conference talk, a couple of scholarly projects, and a myriad of other things.

In other news, I dropped a bag off at Goodwill this afternoon and transferred a few dollars into my Big Goal fund to round it up to 4.5 percent (still sad) completed.

Some Good News

April 6th, 2018 at 02:17 am

My DH got a raise! Not as much as he would've liked, but money is money. I'd like him to stash it all into his retirement plans.

Tomorrow some colleagues and I are meeting to try to tighten up our very lax occasional academic editing business. We're going to print up a few things and work in tandem.

I got paid this week for my evening class and stashed half the cash in my big goal and the other half in the account we borrowed from to re-do the bathroom. Feels pretty good to put some money away.


I also have about $500 I need to collect from some class fill-in and an editing job. We've been fairly frugal lately too, although I foresee some spring shoes in my future.

February Frugality Fatigue

February 24th, 2018 at 09:03 pm

Although I think we could benefit from continued sort-of uber frugality, I'm a little weary of it. But March is coming, I have a weekend in Minneapolis planned with my BFF, and in midMarch my spring break will lighten the load a bit. I'd like to go to NYC with DD and perhaps DH, but her break never overlaps with mine, so we may try for a short summer trip using air miles. I also have five days in June planned with my Mpls friends in Northern California, renting an airbnb. I used Delta miles I forgot I had, so I came in under $100 for the flight.

Can you tell I'm a little cabin feverish? I seem to go to school, come home and grade and prep and cook, then go to school again, repeat, repat, repeat. Weekends seem to be devoted to running our DD everywhere and catching up on cooking,grading, and housework. But then there's this: https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2018/02/pensions-safety-net-california/553970/


And I can't say I want to be at the food pantry or handing out supermarket samples in my mid-70s. Back to work.

Ending the Month with a NSD

February 1st, 2018 at 12:56 am

Ah, the long stretch of January has just hours left. I was reasonably frugal, used up lots of food, and decluttered a fair amount. That needs to all extend into February. Our dog was coughing and trying to clear her throat in the middle of the night, so I was up with her until she settled down. Unfortunately I never did and was awake from 3am on. I thought about canceling class, taking it online, but decided I could push through as I had a partner activity planned for half the class. It turned out fine, and I even abstained from my morning coffee purchase since I was planning on returning home at noon and napping. So, I saved $2 and came home for a two-hour nap. For the next month, I have a pretty darn easy semester, at least relatively. I have four sections of the same class, so it's one prep starting at 8am every day. People complain it's boring to teach just one thing, but sometimes it's just a gift. There's lots of reading and grading, but man, it's just so much easier. What happens in a month? My adjunct class starts on Monday nights. More money, but more schedule balancing.

And we continue to eat through the cupboard and freezer. Tonight before his class DH had leftover pot roast and DD and I ate pancakes and sausages with strawberries. I made half a dozen extra pancakes since the griddle was out which someone will eat for breakfast. It's going well. And payday is tomorrow. And again in 28 days.