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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.

Teeny Tiny Baby Steps

January 24th, 2018 at 06:08 pm

While this sounds like Dave Ramsey advice, it was really me walking the six blocks to the university today, The sidewalks were full of ice, and I've developed a mortal fear of falling. Day Three of the semester seems to be going just fine, and hopefully today's spending will just be coffee. I see chicken tortilla soup on tonight's menu. It's kind of a flurried evening for us as DH starts his new class and DD is at theatre until 6, so we will eat in shifts.

To help eliminate our overseas transfer issues, we're opening up a Chase savings account--mostly for the SWIFT transfer capabilities, but also for the $200 bonus. Our local bank --which I love--can't seem to accept SWIFT international transfers, although I've sent money out from them. And DH needs to withdraw some British money for his tuition. I can't say we've come to complete agreement on that issue, but he'll pay for half with British cash, and we'll cash flow the other half. Graduate school is an expensive hobby, but perhaps one day he will teach. And the $200 bonus for keeping 15K in the account will lessen the hurt for me a bit. I opened a Chase for the bonus several years ago, but he's still eligible.

I have many meetings on Friday, but it's nice to be 3/4 through with the teaching week. In thinking about uber-frugality this month, I think we've been more frugal than usual, but probably not up to uber. Maybe I can find a few ways to increase cash and limit spending in the remaining week. We have been good about eating through the pantry and freezer, and the chicken tortilla soup will help with that. Hmm--maybe a few things to sell? Or make some time to review our internet service? Anyone have ideas for a couple quick wins?

Happy Days

January 17th, 2018 at 11:21 pm

I've had a couple of lovely days. Yesterday a tedious meeting turned into a happy occasion as two of the top three places in our writing competition were taken by MY students from last term. I couldn't be happier if I won myself. The prizes are small-ish with the top student earning $150, but it's so fun for them and great for their resumes. I've also made progress on readying my classes for the upcoming term.

We got lots of decluttering done, and today I made $15 on a selling some of that stuff. And I had lunch with a colleague--one of those lovely long lunches because it's so fun to talk with them. I cashed $50 out of Swagbucks which is going to my big goal. I'll credit my totals when it hits the bank.

And I made the most delicious mac and cheese yesterday from a recipe on a can of evaporated milk. Fattening and decadent, but used up lots of pantry stuff and delicious.

Hectic Days

November 16th, 2017 at 02:36 am

Man, these days are long and full. After my classes, I worked with two struggling students, helped a colleague figure out a group project, met with more students, then went to the London orientation meeting. No, I'm not going to lead the program this year, but they've asked me to talk with the new students. And I got to see an old London buddy, so it was fun And then it was sad because I really want to go again right now. And classes are such a slog lately. I spent a chunk of time working with a student who has been kicked out of her house and has been sleeping in her car. She's from a very strict immigrant family, and I put her in contact with student services to try to find her some help. And there's another one in tears as her child's father keeps threatening her and she's had to file a restraining order. Man--sometimes I'm a part-time social worker. I can't wait for Thanksgiving break.

Trying to keep the lid on spending until we get ahead of the game a bit. Good news on my DH's bank transfer than his UK bank screwed up. They've apologized, refunded a bunch of fees, and credited us 150 GBP. But we're still making soup here.

Bank Incident?

November 4th, 2017 at 06:38 pm

Twice today I visited our local bank branch, first at 8 when the drive-ups were closed so I decided to come back later, then at noon when it was also closed: closed and surrounded by police cars with the branch full of police officers. I have no idea what was going on, but glad I wasn't there when whatever happened occurred.

It's that point in the semester when I'm buried in work, so household things are in super-simple mode. Lots of soup made and simple meals. I did start to defrost a turkey breast figuring there could me some more soup and sandwiches out of it this week.

I'm not the only busy one. DH has a presentation in his history class this week, and DD spends all her time building stage sets for the school production of 1984. Tonight I'm out with colleagues, DD is at a birthday party so DH will be home with his European History paper.

I've e-mailed my hellish student's advisor, re-posted, with warnings, my syllabus's notice on "discourteous behavior," and am arranging a meeting with her and her advisor. I refuse to spend the rest of the term thinking about her behavior. While I was at it, I e-mailed another advisor with concerns about his student's progress. He was shocked as she has reported her classes are going well, especially mine. I beg to differ; she is almost at the point of no return. My 100 students this term seem to have 100 issues rather than the usual 10 or so. Sigh.