Category Archives: Uncategorized

Money and finances

It is a shame that the education system in the United States of America does not prepare its young people for understanding finances. Finances are something that used to be taught at home. Your parents would teach you what to do or pass down something to you to learn to manage. Finances were taught in the home and in general, our culture has interesting reactions to money. Talking about money makes people uncomfortable. Many people just want to ignore money and its complexities.

It is a rather ignorant way for us to face the world and one that I feel is cultivated because we do not teach money as part of mathmatics. Interest rates for example. When the federal government came down on credit card companies during the recession in the early 2000’s part of what they did was to make the money owed clear.

Now, if you look at your credit card receipt you will see a section that shows if you only pay the minimum payment, not only will it take until the sun cools for you to pay off a debt of a few thousand dollars, but you will pay for that money 2-4 times over again or maybe even more. This does not stop people from going into debt but it does give some clarity into what they are stepping into. Not everyone thinks of the future but for some, a simple set of numbers and figures can help them make better decisions or take on debt at need instead of just because debt exists.

I remember when I used to think I could afford a corvette on a waitress salary with some savings. Now, when I can afford a corvette I have no wish for one. It comes from understanding financial responsibility more, as well as tastes changing. I can do a lot of travel for the price of a corvette and that interests me more.

I read financial news and discussion. In this last few months I’ve been a bit more hot and heavy into my finances then normal. I eliminated the last of my credit card debt. I paid off my car. I paid off my school bill. And now we are refinancing this house and looking to buy a second. This place will be converted to a rental property.

Refinancing was to avoid mortgage insurance. It reduced our payment by an enormous amount and now rental rates around here will cover the mortgage and leave enough extra to take care of the HOA fees and the housing costs such as HVAC maintenance.  We have also built up a comfortable equity in the home and if we did have to sell it, it’d be worth our time. However, we want to invest in real estate and plan to keep both properties.

Refinancing means understanding interest rates. It also means understanding how loans work, how credit reports work, and all sorts of fun questions about income calculations. I’ve been grooming my credit report for the last year for this move. By grooming I mean I’ve built up my credit, lowered my credit used, and not cancelled anything.

By not cancelling any credit cards (which I want to do because I have empty cards I used for points or refinancing) I improved the aspect of my credit that discusses credit over time and the positive impacts that gives me. It creeps the score up and the worst thing that can happen is they ask me to close some of the credit lines to close on the house. Once they have already approved it, I’m happy to do so.

As it stands, my closing is in two weeks on this house. We wind up with a better rate and I can close down all of my unused credit cards. I get tired of checking them every week for fraud. I have no desire to use some of them but I’ve kept them open until now.

Cooking Documentation

I need to start documenting what I cook. Well, perhaps not need but I’d very much like to. I don’t make up recipes often but I have a few up my sleeve. Most of my efforts are things that I have already seen. Some I can duplicate and others, not so much.

Yesterday, I made french onion soup chicken. It was a recipe that crossed my feed on Facebook. Facebook is not a place that I enjoy. It is useful for chat and a lot of my coworkers share recipes of Facebook things that they follow. This gives me a bisection of random recipes that I might never find on my own.

Today, however, was one of my most creative moments yet. I mixed a recipe I make all of the time with a recipe I learned to make last year.

In cooking, it is amazing what can be easy and what complex for each cook. Meat in bread is not a dish I ate a child. Yet, I love these savory, portable snacks. I’ve been trying to make them to varying sucess, normally using a frozen pastry.

However, I developed a very tasty pastry from a recipe for pot pie. I wondered if I combined the two, seeing that they had similar cooking temperatures and lengths, how would it go?

The answer:

They came out beautifully. My husband found them to be dry. So I made gravy.

I like it a bit more of a sandwich.

Side Jobs

The ebay thing has become a second job. In many ways, a lot of my summer was used up setting things up, taking pictures, getting stock, shipping, and research. Like any project that I throw myself into, huge amounts of time are devoted to learning the basics. Now, three months in, I can back off a bit. Which is nice.

The good news is things are selling. We have stuff to ship nearly every day. The most interesting thing has been the hurricanes. While I am up the east coast and away from them, when Harvey hit Huston everything ground to a stop. I went from about ten orders a day to nothing. Now, as September wanes, sales are starting to pick back up and I am less stressed over the entire thing.

It is one aspect of my personality that is useful, if annoying. When I resurface, I find that I lost time doing other things. At the same time, I learned a new skill that can be put on autopilot in the background.

I’ve been pondering a part time job for a while now. I haven’t wanted one. If I did, I could work overtime. But, I’ve been thinking that I needed to make some more money and use my free time to do so. In many ways, the ebay thing satisfies all of that need.

A Busy Summer

It has been a busy summer. My new dive into Ebay consumes an enormous amount of my free time. I’m now up and running with a large number of listings. This will allow me to reduce my time spent working on my ebay store and listings to once or twice a week instead of every waking moment. I’ve neglected things like the garden. Only as I write this do I sigh and realize that I did not fertilize this weekend. The weather has not helped. The heat and humidity plus constant rains has helped me to let duties outside sift to the side.

Not that the plants are not thriving. The ground cherries have given up for the year. They each produced around six pounds of fruit. The fall lettuce is planted. And the large tomatoes are rolling in at an ungodly rate.

I also sauced the peppers and produced two containers of red pepper sauce. It is not super hot this year per my husband. That does not surprise me. The heavy rains mean sweeter peppers. Hot, dry summers create hotter peppers. 

 

I gave up pruning to make sure I was not killing ladybugs. Don’t let that back row fool you however.

Gravity finally did its thing.

I do love the hanging tomatoes.

After this picture I took the ladder out and plucked all the ones turning. I’m sure more have started and need to be picked. The birds have a field day out there.

We are looking to move next year. I’m not going to go this garden heavy due to that. I may even buy my plants instead of starting seed. We will see. I am going to try to keep it to 3-5 plants. If we move early enough in the year they to can move. If it is later in the year, frankly, I don’t know.

We will be renting out the house so I won’t be in desperate straits to move them out immediately.

The year has gone well. It is such a joy to step outside and go pick the ingredients for dinner or breakfast.

 

Harvest in the Rain

My plants are bigger but my harvest is less. I don’t blame the plants as nice as that would be.

It decided to rain in Virginia. Last week it rained and rained and rained some more. We learned that the Isis candy are splitters.

My first two Orange Russian 117 have ripened. They are lovely but I haven’t had time to do weights. I estimate seven to eight ounces and perfect oxheart shapes.

The cherry tomatoes are overflowing. I really recommend cherry tomatoes for people who want tomatoes. The Rapunzel are a disappointment. No long trellis. However, taste wise they taste like large tomatoes which is quite fun.

The Sicilian still has curled leaves. I don’t even begin to understand that plant.

There are finally tomatoes on the Yellow Brandywine. I’m not impressed with them as producers. They may do better in the soil. Beautiful plants, however.

We are past the rain. Everyone is flowering for the next harvest. The Ground Cherries are the real winner. Prolific, easy keepers, and a LOT of sweet berry fruit.

Comic Books

Ebay made me an offer today. I can list 500 items for free by July the 6th. I don’t have 500 auctions to list. Ebay has a limit on me as a new seller to 100. Normally they give you 50 listings for free. This means I can list 100 items.

I’ve been rolling through the comic books and getting them listed. It makes me ponder the value. Value in comic books is not a straight forward thing. #1 in some series may be worthless but #12 may be a ‘key’ or introduce a character that later becomes a major player or even develop their own series. Batman is an example of this. He appeared in Detective Comics and that is his official 1st comic.

There are gems in my collection. I expected this but I’ve found some that are quite exciting. One that I chuckle about is the Tomb of Dracula. I laughed when I saw the title. It is campy now but Dracula had his own comic book series. I figured it was a worthless comic and that proves me to be an idiot.

You see, I was reading about Blade the movie series. In that reading it discussed how Blade was introduced in the Tomb of Dracula as a minor character. Today, as I was working on listings I wondered… could I be so fortunate?

It turns out, that I am. I have the Tomb of Dracula #10 and I believe it is in good condition. That is the book that introduced Blade and it is a highly sought after comic book.

The idea of expensive comic books is exciting. The reality is that selling them is a slow process. There are a lot of comic liquidators out there. They will give what seems like a large amount of a huge lot of comics. I was chuckling at one the other day. No need to figure out grading or how to use ebay just instant money in your hand! Seeing an offer like that pretty much tells you that you have valuable things.

So much to do

There is always so much to do.

Work demands my days off. Our ebay adventure is going very well but it still takes time to list and manage everything we are doing. The garden is taking off but pruning, feeding, and tending takes time.

It is both good and bad. I am struggling to have the downtime I need to be creative. Most of my down time is spend being exhausted and reading financial management stuff. I’m pretty much debt free and making sure that our next financial ventures are solid choices.

But so much ebay. Productive stuff once we put the time into it. The husband seems to hate shipping for some reason. As in the packing and wrapping and dropping off at the post office.

It is fascinating what some hate and others do not mind. By our powers combined, he and I can be rather productive since we like and hate such different parts of things.

But ugh. Somehow June ran off, I got a lot done, need to do more, and it is time for bed too.

Aphid War

I gave in and purchased ladybugs at the end of May. The aphids where so bad that they looked like scale on the plants. Going into the garden felt gross. Aphids would fall off of everything. Then it wasn’t just green aphids but brown as well.

Why me? I wondered. I’m not the only one to be attacked but it was very, very frustrating.

That is where the ladybugs came in. I ordered them, set them out as instructed, and left the garden alone for the next two weeks. The good news is that we have baby ladybugs in the garden and the aphid numbers feel as if they have been slashed in half. They are still there but it is not as oppressive as it was.

Just in time for the tomato disease to appear. I believe it is a leaf spot disease. It punched the Yellow Brandywine in the face. That plant has not yet made fruit. The Orange Russian 117 is also looking bad but I think its struggle to produce has to do with the aphids draining the blossoms dry. At one point we where uses brushes to try to get them off.

So, now I have fewer aphids and a tomato disease ravaging the garden. I pruned heavily on Monday and everything looks better. We’ve seen more young ladybugs and the aphid population is decreasing. Hopefully, we have made ground in this war and the garden will be able to recover.

Comic Books

When my father died I inherited his comic books. I gathered them out of the dusty, decrepit Xerox boxes he stored them in. I sorted them, I got bags and backboards, and I organized them.

I then struggled to find any help on how to sell most of them. I put out a few feelers but none of them where things that would benefit me. I’m not comic book ignorant. I went through quite a phase when I was 11-15. I still read graphic novels although I have a taste for longer, more complex stories that cause me to buy bundled books instead of individual comics.

I spent several weeks documenting the entire thing. I should have alphabetized them at the time but I was too tired. And now, when I go looking for it, I have no idea where I put the file or what I named it.

Sigh.

I did try to post on a comic website or two. I was mostly ignored. It is only now, years later, that it occurs to me that there was probably an assumption that I was a troll or lying for attention. After all, it is the perfect storm. “I inherited a bunch of silver age comic books, what do I do?” For as long as I have been online I still forget that many people do nothing more than lie and attention seek. I’ve always seen the internet as a place to gather information, share, discuss, learn, and amuse oneself. Not finding amusement in making up stories for attention leaves me a bit behind the ball at times.

I’m going to go for it. Make a spread sheet to track the books and their pictures and put them up on eBay. My husband also has a large amount of ram he has salvaged that we will put up. He doesn’t want to do the leg work but I am willing to do so.

Unexpected Goals

I have veggie pictures but I am waiting for the photo upload to be fixed for the blog. If not, I’ll go back to pushing from imgur as I used to do. Everything is going great minus the aphid infestation.

With my little windfall I have moved my debt pay off ahead by a year. Doing some research led me to dump my emergency fund into the pay off as well. We still have an emergency fund but it is my husbands. Before I made my decision I checked in with him, to his amusement. The fact that we do not share our cash has always left me feeling strange about making assumptions with his money. Yet, for the first time I do and I do so with comfort.

It was not until today that I realized this debt free level frees us so much. Before, I needed to work at my job to just pay my bills. Now, I’ll be free of all but my part of the mortgage. If we sell the house, my revolving debt consists of my cellphone bill ($30), netflix, and google play music.

What a place to be.

Becoming financially responsible has been a long road. I was never terrible but I was often not s good as I should have been. A thousand dollars seems like so much but spends so fast. Payments seem like they will make a dent but the the credit goes down so slowly.

And cars did not help. The urge to have a dependable car was strong and a car payment has consumed much of my income. It was also today that I said to my husband my next car will be nice but it will be used. We are past the point that I will pay more to minimize the negatives of working on my car. Gone is the stress from my first years of vehicle ownership when a break down was such a  devastating moment.

It feels so strange. This year will be my 20th year since I left high school. It hasn’t been all smooth sailing. It has gone very well. Sometimes it feels as if it went better then it should have. Yet, even if a shoe was to drop, I could catch it.

It is all very unexpected.