Money

[Final Update] The Year of Good Health...and Money

At the beginning of the year, I didn't make any resolutions, but I declared 2012 to be the Year of Good Health and Money. Sounds exciting, right? I wouldn't go that far, but it has been rewarding.

The update you saw three months ago wasn't looking good, but a lot has happened since then. Three weeks from the end of the year, and I've ticked off everything on the list. It took me all year to do it, but I DID IT.

Health

  1. Weight: I lost 20 of the 30 pounds I wanted to lose (120 lbs total in the past two years), and I wear size 12 jeans. The last time I wore size 12 jeans was for about a minute in 1999.
  2. Anemia: The supplements weren't increasing my iron levels fast enough so I had IV iron infusions (FOUR OF THEM) and I am no longer anemic. Hopefully, I can maintain this level with supplementation.
  3. Dentist: Cleaning scheduled! I am not usually one to procrastinate going to the dentist, but when I left my job in June, we had to switch to my husband's insurance and my old dentist isn't on it. I don't mind going to the dentist, but I hate finding a new one.
  4. Weird Leg Thing: It hasn't come back, so let's consider it no big deal.
  5. Physical Activity: Well, four out of five isn't bad, right? This is still a struggle for me.

Finances

  1. Taxes: We met with the new accountant and got everything taken care of and, for the first time in years and years, I am not dreading the end of the year and the taxes that need to be done.
  2. Credit Card Debt: PAID OFF
  3. Budget: I never did get around to making one for 2012, but I made one for 2013 because I had started panic-checking the job boards. We will be fine for next year, with me continuing to be self-employed. I could use a couple more clients for Bossy Interactive, but I don't need to seek employment elsewhere.

What's in store for 2013? I'm thinking it will be the Year of Organization and Business Growth. I need to get this house, and the stuff in it, organized. To be fair to myself, I am one of the most organized people I know, so it's not that bad, but I want it organized to PERFECTION, or pretty damn close. On the business front, I need to set clear goals, and objectives, for 2013. Also, I need to look up the difference between goals and objectives again.


[Update] 2012: The Year of Good Health... and Money

Remember about nine months ago when I said this was going to be the year I take control of my health and my finances? If I were in school, I'd probably have a C- in Health and an F in Finance.

The good news first. I lost 20 more pounds, for a total of 120. I am eating much better and taking (almost) all of my supplements every day. I at least get the iron in every day. At the three-month check mentioned in the original post, my iron levels were up a bit, but still lower than normal. I am waiting on the results of my most recent blood test. I am hoping my levels are high enough that I at least reduce the amount of iron I have to take, if I can't stop taking it altogether.

The weird numb spot on my leg went away. Then came back. Then went away again. I still haven't had a mole check or the breast cancer gene test. Oh, and I am overdue for a dental cleaning because I need to find a new dentist.

On the financial front, I haven't done a damn thing. I left my corporate job three months ago and have been working for myself ever since. Business has been good, but I could use more work. In that time, I haven't made a budget, or projected how long our money will last, set any sort of threshold for deciding find another corporate job. I estimated that I have until the end of the year, but I stuck my head in the sand when it came to actually doing the math to verify that assumption.

And, we haven't caught up on our taxes yet. However, I made an appointment with an accountant and by the end of next week, all that tax crap should be in progress. I got the referral for the accountant from a friend who uses him as her business manager. I may have to go that route, especially now that I have two businesses.

Anyway, I have three months left in the year. I can still get this under control. I'm a procrastinator, but I (usually) make my deadlines.


2012: The Year of Good Health... and Money

2012-sand-beach

I am anemic. I have been that way for about six months. It's a side effect of gastric bypass. My body does not absorb all of the nutrients from the food I eat. I've made it worse by not taking my iron supplements faithfully, and not eating the foods I should be eating. If I don't get my iron levels up in the next three months, I will need to have an IV iron infusion. My calcium and vitamin D levels are low as well. I haven't seen a nutritionist since I had surgery.

I have lost 100 lbs in the past year. My surgeon wants me to lose 30 lbs more in the next six months. If I had been exercising at all during the past year, that 30 lbs would already be gone. I weigh 195 right now. That would put me at a final weight of 165. I'd rather be 145.

I have a numb spot on my right calf that has yet to be diagnosed and did not response to a course of steroids. The next step is to get a referral to a neurologist. I've been putting that off.

I've never had a mole check with a dermatologist. I have a referral to see one, but I haven't made an appointment yet.

I need to be screened for the breast cancer gene. I'll ask about that about my six-month follow-up mammogram next month to check on the calcifications that are still in my right breast.

I haven't created a budget spreadsheet for at least five years.

My savings accounts and retirement accounts are as anemic as my body is.

I did not meet my goal of paying off all credit card debt by the end of the year.

We are woefully behind on our taxes.

All of this is going to change in 2012.

My first priority is health. My second priority is finances. With everything I do, I will ask myself, "Is this the healthiest choice I can make right now?" or, "Is this the best financial choice I can make right now?" and, in that order. For instance, is watching three episodes of Gossip Girl the healthiest choice I can make at that moment? No. I could do something more active. I could play Just Dance on the Wii with my girls, or go for a walk, or clean up clutter around the house, or prepare meals for the week, or go to bed and get a reasonable amount of sleep. Is watching three episodes of Gossip Girl before bed the best financial choice I can make at that moment? No. I could get tax paperwork together, or work on my 2012 budget spreadsheet, or list things for sale on Craigslist and eBay.

Health. Finances. That's it. If I can't get those two things under control, everything else falls apart. I'll still parent my children, and be a wife to my husband, and be a model employee, but I won't be taking any classes and I won't be making any committments to anyone else if there is something else I can be doing that would be better for my health and finances.


How to Fire Your Realtor

Anonymous has a question:

So, here's the deal. Jenny is a friend of mine but not a close friend. She's the cousin of a good friend, however. She lives downtown, so about an hour away and she's pregnant with her first kid, due in March. She didn't do anything for me when the house was on the market with her this summer. No open houses, no nothing other than a website. I haven't even been able to get my key back from her, due to varoius fuckups, and it's been off the market since August, I think.
 
I may be moving out state soon, so I need to sell this fucking house ASAP, and I don't feel she'll be that aggressive. Due to the personal relationships, I don't really feel comfortable saying that to her. I want to make it seem like it will be too much effort based on the distance and the kid but I don't know how to say that.
 
Any thoughts?

Clearly, you need a new Realtor, one who will actually work for you to sell your house. It seems like the point you are struggling with is how to tell your current Realtor that she is fired, since you have a personal connection to her. You are right on track with focusing on how much effort it will require of her to be aggressive with marketing your property.

I recommend an email along these lines:

Jenny,

Thank you so much for the work you did trying to sell my house this summer. My situation has recently changed and I to need to put my house back on the market soon, and be very aggressive about getting it sold. I know what an effort it is for you to make it all the way out here, especially as you enter your third trimester, so I am going to relist my house with Realtor nearby.

Thanks again, and good luck with the baby! I can't wait to see pics.

-Home Owner

P.S. Please mail my house key back to me at [address].

I almost always recommend a direct approach while trying not ruffle any feathers.


Holiday Tipping

Dawn C. asks:

What do you think about posting something about your opinion on holiday tipping for people like hair stylists, mani/pedicurists, eyebrow waxers, housekeepers, etc. (Yes or No? And how much?). My specific question is for hair stylists and waxers. My last hair stylist was a friend of a friend, so a holiday gift was more personal and easier to figure out. The new "person" I go to I have only seen about 3 times and although I like her, I don't know if I should tip or not this year. Same goes with the girl who does my eyebrows.


My opinion on holiday tipping is that it is nice in theory and awkward in practice, so I don't do much of it. I will break down the categories of people I have in my life that all the lists on the internet say I should tip.

Esthetician - The same woman has been waxing my eyebrows for eight years. I have never tipped her for Christmas. I think I might have bought her a present one year when I saw something I knew she would like. I also bought her a wedding present and two baby presents. This year, I am getting her a $20 Starbucks gift card but that is because I missed my last appointment and I feel bad about it. I tip her $5 on a $20 service every two weeks. I feel like that is enough.

Hair stylist - I don't have a regular one now, but when I did, I didn't tip her at Christmas either. I feel like tipping her every time she cuts my hair is enough.

Manicurust - See hair stylist.

Housekeeper - When a friend of a friend was our housekeeper, we tipped her $50 for Christmas. She was awesome and we loved her. I knew her financial circumstances and I felt like we were getting a good deal on her services, so I was happy to give her a tip. Now that we employee a cleaning service, I will not be leaving them a tip. I am considering leaving them each a little box of candy, though.

Mail carrier - I have never tipped the mail carrier before. I don't feel like I've ever had one that has made any sort of effort to know us or be nice to us. This year, however, I am considering leaving a $10 Starbucks gift card. We had to get a new mailbox this year. We tend to not collect our mail regularly, so we got a locking mailbox to provide better security. Since we got that mailbox, we check our mail even less often and I can tell it is sometimes a chore for the mail carrier to jam our mail into it.

Garbage collector - Never have tipped them.

Daycare provider - Last year, we gave her a present and we will probably do the same this year.

bankrate.com

Bankrate.com is another site that has handy little calculators. I used to work at a real estate listings web site and I currently work at a consumer automotive web site and still I always go to bankrate.com for their loan calculators. I mostly use the mortgage calculator and the car payment calculator, but I also go to bankrate.com when I want to get an idea of what current interest rates are in my area.


Federal Income Tax

I think federal taxes would be so much more palatable if everyone paid the same percentage of their personal income with no deductions allowed and no tax breaks for anything. I would gladly fork over 10% or 20% of my salary if I didn't have to deal with receipts and mortgage interest statements and deductible expenses.