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Insurance Headaches

July 7th, 2022 at 01:40 pm

As we transition from my university insurance to my DH's, I'm again grateful for how good the state insurance was/is.  The pay was certainly awful, but great coverage.  I spent half yesterday filing for my accumulated sick leave to be escrowed towards future insurance in what can only be described as a blizzard of paperwork.  But I've filed for it, and I'll have to wait 7-10 days to see whether they've accepted it.

In other news, I've spent all my remaining FSA cash on new glasses.  Happy I could use it all, but man alive, glasses are expensive.  Now we have to learn an entire new bewildering insurance system with DH's insurance.  And their wellness incentives seem absolutely crazy.  Do I want his employer to have access to my fitbit and phone?  Grrrr.

DD had another allergist appointment as we try to squeeze every last doctor appointment into the next month and a half.  I've booked her also at the dentist and eye doctor. 

More on that front as we progress!

 

Another Good Dog Day

November 6th, 2021 at 02:47 am

Well, we've had another good day with the dog.  She's still struggling to eat, but I've cooked her a chicken breast and found meatballs are the perfect method of getting the antibiotics in her. She even went for a little walk today.  Crossing our fingers and hoping for the best.

It was a busy day with the opening of a new writing lab in our business school.  It's nice to see corporate sponsorship for something like writing.  But it meant I'm behind in grading and planning, so much of the weekend will be devoted to that.  I've been trying to get a decent walk in every day and am listening to Roger Whitney, aka the Retirement Answer Man.  I think his podcasts are aimed for people with a bit more income and assets than we have, but they're interesting.  Anyone else listen to him? 

It will be back to 60 degrees here tomorrow, so hoping to get a few tulip bulbs in and perhaps a pot of soup made. 

We've also booked our DD's flight home from Edinburgh the first week in December. Her exams are all on line the following week, so we'll have a good stretch with her home.   She's really settled in there and loves the university.  I'm so proud and relieved that the semester has worked out so well for her. She'll head back there in January.  I'm hoping to use some air miles to pay for her next flights.

Happy Friday everyone!

 

 

So Many Things to Think About

October 20th, 2021 at 09:00 pm

Nothing like the middle of the semester to get me mired in thought.  I'm thinking about good students, bad students, disappearing students, and fraught committee work.    I'm also thinking about retirement.  I posted a question on the forums after learning some of my friends are either already taking Social Security or planning on taking it early.  Has the advice changed on that? 

Other things on my mind are the tuition bill juggling for DD's fabulous Scotland education.  She's having a grand time after a few blips.  But DH and I need to make some decisions about whether and when we might move to the UK. 

And then I think about mundane things like food budgets and decluttering and whether we should redo a bathroom here.  I should think about cleaning the house, but just thinking about that was made me decide to go for a walk in the wondrous autumn weather while it lasts. 

It's So Quiet...........

September 16th, 2021 at 03:28 am

Yeah, that's how I feel all the time with our DD gone to uni.  It's so quiet. No Taylor Swift blasting all over the house, no Phoebe Bridgers going long into the night, no endless phone calls.  I do video chat with her a lot, but those other 23 hours are eerie.

In money news, I took a bunch of my university gals out for dinner.  It's an annual tradition my mom started as a way of showing her friends how much she appreciated them.  We had a lovely patio dinner on Saturday night, and it was great to see everybody.  Our usual coffee shop grading and office hours have sort of dried up.  After teaching hours masked, we all want to hunker down in our offices, shut the door, and unmask for a bit.  Another reason to all get together.

Day to day spending has been minimal.  I've become a library regular again, deciding to read all the Ian Rankin Rebus mysteries in order for the fun Edinburgh setting.  Lots of cooking happening here too and much decluttering. I've made appointments for free flu shots, the dentist, and an eye check. 

We've paid the first installment of DD's housing, and I'm tapping into the 529 as her tuition bill is coming up.  Not much else new.  It's very busy at school, and I have tons of committee work this year.  I mostly stagger home, make dinner, watch the news, and start the process for the next day.  More money news coming soon.

 

 

March? Really?

March 1st, 2021 at 02:45 am

How on earth is it possible that it's March tomorrow?  It seems incredible.

My DH and I were taking a walk this afternoon and talking about how a year ago our daughter was prepping for her AP exams and trying to make college choices.  It seems like forever ago.

But we're all healthy and all employed and not spending much at all.  I've decided to use two days of my spring break to go over all our accounts and do some serious retirement plannng as well as ensure we have enough for DD's remaining years at university.  I'm confident we do, but would like to see the numbers.

March 1 is also a big day for educators (me) and grocery workers (DD) as eligible for the vaccine.  We've managed to secure appointments through a lot of screen refreshing, so we should (crossing our fingers) be vaccinated by the end of the week.  I'm pretty darn excited. 

We have a few things coming up including a food drive at church and muffin making for a local organization that packs meals for the homeless.  And that's it for Sunday night. 

 

Folding, Grading, and Trying to Get Out of my Head

May 5th, 2020 at 03:55 pm

My wonderful daughter and I have started a big project. Our United Way is sponsoring a huge appeal for disposable masks. Yesterday we picked up the kit for 700 masks. It's four gigantic rolls of paper which you fold, hole punch, and attach rubber bands for behind the ears.
Because we're a bit slow on the uptake, we had to watch the video instruction about a dozen times, but then got into the swing of it. They're due back Friday so we'll have some busy evenings.

That was our only outing yesterday as we had the "pneumonia front" pass through on Sunday dropping our temps 20 degrees. Before that we had a great hike in a county park followed by Culver's drive-through custard.

This is the last week of "instruction," and I think we did as well as we could through all of this. I read a blog on a FB group of teachers titled :"Not Crushing It," which is kind of how I feel. We got through it. Of my 100 students, about six have disappeared from online access. The university is trying very hard to find them and get them back--and is being very generous with incompletes and a credit/no credit option. I'm probably the kindest grader I've ever been.
Then there's DD's college plans. Her Scottish university seems also in panic mode--encouraging her and other foreign students not to give up on them. But it all seems like a (bag) pipe dream at this point. She's confirmed at Wisconsin-Madison without turning down Minnesota or Edinburgh. And with the university system in such financial panic, we'll need a lot more funding from the state. And I worry about my pension plan and seemingly everything else at 3 am. I think this is the lowest I've been since this began; I hadn't realized how much I care about the institution I love/hate/love.

Sorry for the big whine. I need to re-set, keep folding masks, and live with the uncertainty that we've all had to live with. My husband loves this isolation; he's not nearly as social as me. I get a lot of energy from going out, seeing students/friends etc. So glad our daughter is home; she's the best company and one great mask folder.

Not much detailed financial news. My seeds are sprouting, we have a lot of food to use up including another magnificent pot of bean soup, and I've reverted to my bag lady behaviors of moving money around and running stupid Swagbucks while grading.

End of the Week--Sort of

March 6th, 2020 at 01:50 am

It's the end of the teaching week, but the grading week likely won't end until, well, May. And today was endless meetings with students, ex-students, instructors who report to me, you name it--then policy meetings. I think I have people overload; I just want to sit somewhere quiet and grade papers.

I brought my lunch, bought the cheap but good coffee, and ate leftovers for dinner. My students are worried all sick and tired and worried. But spring break is 7 days away. Deep breaths and press on.

Signed Up

February 19th, 2020 at 02:40 am

I'm having very mixed feelings about work and thinking about DD's educational plans. All of this has led me to finally sign up for the "Are You Five Years From Retirement?" seminar at work.

I think I probably AM within that five year window, and I also think I'd like to find out my options. It's not until March, but it's a complicated system with pension, 403b, unused sick days, etc. It will be interesting to see how things look.

I also signed up for the wellness screening again. That and the activity will net me $150 again--just like last year.

We had leftovers for dinner--repurposing some steak and chicken into makeshift fajitas with onions and peppers. I love using things up.

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.