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I think I’m burned out, folks. There are plenty of money things to talk about swirling around the world right now, but I can’t get anything comprehensive. I think partially because we’re all just so tired of talking about politics, and most of the money stuff is political.
So here’s some random snippets of stuff — some even related to money.
No refi for me
A couple of readers told me — and I verified with some online articles — that banks aren’t super enthusiastic about refinancing mortgages that are as small as mine. (Just $43,000 to go, baby!)
But just for S&Gs I went ahead and submitted an application through Chase to see what they’d offer.
The guy actually assured me that low mortgages aren’t a problem. However, the only rate he had still had almost 0.5 points attached. Which I guess at my mortgage balance isn’t really that big a deal — about $200 extra — but still annoying.
At any rate, he could get me a 15-year mortgage at 2.99% APR, which would leave me about the same payment but shave some money off interest paid. But once we ran the numbers, the closing costs (around $3,500) meant it only saved me $1,000 to $2,000 at best.
And as someone with a veritable poop-ton of sinking fund bank accounts plus an S-Corp (with no accountant doing the books for me, no less), getting all the documentation for a new loan would be a tremendous pain.
Of course, I’m making extra payments, which could have changed things. So I went online to an extra mortgage payment calculator and gamed it out. I’d save… about $3,500 in interest.
So yeah, not bothering with a refinance.
2021 resolutions? Seriously?!
Someone on Twitter announced their copious goals for 2021: increasing saving rates, getting fit, reading books, etc. Then they asked us what ours were.
I retweeted with “Survive. With my sanity at least mostly intact. Preferably at a lighter weight. Though at this point that’s negotiable tbh.”
Are people really going into 2021 thinking it’s gonna be their year???
I know many of us have been fortunate enough not have had our finances affected by the pandemic. Some people have even been okay mental health-wise, I guess (based on lists like that Twitter user’s).
But most of us just want to make it until we can get a vaccine. That’s it.
I guess if I’m being honest, I have some things I do need to shoot for. But I don’t think of them as resolutions because only one of them could really be even remotely considered “bettering myself.”
Specifically, I am going to start working out again and eating better. My jeans are officially barely tolerating my waistline and I don’t like the gut I feel when I’m sitting. But mostly, I have to do it for my health. My cholesterol is pretty bad — and exercise helps that — and extra weight is bad for my fatigue.
So while I do want to look better, that isn’t the real goal here. It’s about correcting course on the current nosedive my health is taking.
To be clear, I forgive myself for letting this stuff go. It’s been a rough year, and if all that means is an extra 15 lbs from where I started in March… That’s pretty acceptable. (And Aaron likes a little padding, so he’s all for it.)
But “forgive” doesn’t mean “allow to keep happening.” So yes, I will exercise and cut back on junk food in the new year. But not as some aspirational resolution. It’s just about getting back on course to where I was.
Beyond that, I’m just hoping to be able to keep my current savings rate and that things with Aaron keep working out so I can make it to the vaccine without isolation (or more dating app guy ridiculousness).
And hey, if you want to set goals for the new year, I’m not gonna stop you. But I will ask you to keep perspective. Most of us took a beating — financially and/or in our mental health — so springing into 2021 with lofty resolutions probably isn’t a great idea.
If you need something to aspire to in 2021, so be it. But just plan to make reasonably sized changes instead of huge ones. And definitely don’t try to tackle a slew of things.
Autocorrect was correct
I was typing something on social media about having just six more days in this hellscape of a year. I dunno what I hit, but it turned into hell’s cape. And that kinda feels right, honestly.
There’s a very funny Match.com ad about Satan and 2020 meeting through them. But it’s sort of a — as my friend Leila would say — hahasob thing.
I got the annual letter from my boss letting me know my salary for the new year. It’s staying the same, which is fine with me. It’s already plenty generous.
But as he is the best boss ever, the owner of the company still gave out bonuses. (!)
It was a percentage of my income, so I got a little under $925. I’m waiting until the new year to cash the check, and then it’ll be put into my retirement account as the first of 2021’s employer contributions.
My Christmas gifts from Mom are usually nice and low-key, which I like. She mainly gets me gift cards because, well, I’m a pain to shop for. And I love it because she can get them with rewards programs like Swagbucks, so I don’t even have to worry that she’s spending too much on me.
So I got an iTunes gift card (yay!), hospital/treaded socks (also yay! I know, I’m weird) and, hilariously, a Baby Yoda doll. (Still hoping for the real thing to show up at some point, but this guy is good company in the meantime.)
But this year she decided that, despite her general money-anxious disposition, she’s doing pretty well. And she said she doesn’t want me waiting til 150 years from now — the time at which we’ve agreed she’s allowed to die — to get her money. (Though I still hope I don’t get an inheritance.)
So this year she thought it’d be “fun” to gift me a mortgage payment. (Yes, we have a weird definition of fun in my family.) Then it turned out my grandfather left her a little money (RIP, Pop-Pop), so she rounded it up to $1,000.
I know she gave it to me to pay down the mortgage, but I’m doing pretty well on that score. So I’ll likely throw it into my Roth IRA instead. Given that our company did take a beating and in general competition has vastly increased in our industry, I’m a little antsy about my job future — or perhaps having to take a pay cut at some point — so I am trying to sock away as much as I can for retirement. Just in case I can’t contribute as much in the future.
Again, I’ll put the money in my account in January and make a contribution. Which will, admittedly, be fun. (Like I said, my family has a weird definition of the word.)
The tree is still intact (and frugally goofy)
I hadn’t put up a tree the last two years, worrying Josie would try to climb it. But I desperately needed some holiday cheer this year, so I gave it a shot. I set it up and left it bare for a few days to see if she’d topple it. But she utterly ignored it.
Well, for around three weeks anyway.
I decorated it with nary a glance from her. Plugged in the lights nightly without her taking notice. But twice this past week I heard her batting at the lower branches. (They’re bare, but still.)
I yelled at her and she took off running. Still, I’ll definitely be putting the tree away in a timely fashion this year.
Anyway, every time I looked at the tree, I would think about how hilarious it is that — much as I ooh and ahhh over the pretty and elegant trees I’ve seen in magazines/store ads/other people’s homes (back when that was a thing) — I am consistently delighted with my dorky ornaments, most of which are from my childhood mini-tree.
There’s the ornament my grandmother sent away for using Campbell’s soup can labels. It’s silver with the chubby boy mascot holding a little bell, and my name is engraved on it. She got it either my first or second Christmas, Mom says.
There’s a random wooden swan ornament that my grandfather carved and painted for me one year.
A cross-stitch candle in a plastic gold frame from an old coworker of Mom’s.
A sled with a snowman. His nose used to light up and who used to play Jingle Bells when you pressed the button on the bottom ; but those features died around 10 years ago. (Though that still means it lasted around two decades.)
A Swedish Chef ornament I got a few years back that plays three snippets from a Muppet Show sketch. (Bork bork bork!)
And probably my favorite cheesy ones: some plush fruits and veggies with googly eyes. Mom sent off a bunch of Dole fruit can labels and got these guys when I was a kid. I still delight in the pear with googly eyes and angel wings and the googly-eyed cob of corn in a stocking.
I also have some prettier ones and the obligatory ball ornaments. But yeah, my favorite are some of the sillier ones. I suppose that says a lot about me. But I’m okay with it. Especially given what new ornaments cost!
I had a good Christmas
Aaron couldn’t come over til around 4 p.m. but that gave me some time to sit around eating junk food and watching TV. So I call it a win on both counts.
We got some sandwiches from a Jewish deli and went to see an enclave of houses that really did it up with holiday decorations. My friend had given me directions to a ton of houses that she and the girlfriend did one night, but we didn’t get food until 7:30 p.m. and I was a bit weary. So we hit the one enclave instead.
In between food and lights, we saw a random dog in the road. Before we could figure out how to scoop her (?) up, she darted to the other side of the street (and we were in the right-most lane). We saw a woman dashing after her, but Aaron turned around anyway and found the lady. Who turned out to be another random person just trying to get the dog to safety. But she had lost the pup when the dog had bounded across the street again. There was a third car that also pulled over and helped with the search.
I was tired, and Aaron had only one flashlight (my phone’s battery was low, so I couldn’t use that). So I sat in the car while he combed the area near where she was last seen. After around 20 minutes, he admitted defeat and we just hoped she’d darted into the nearby residential neighborhood — and that maybe that was even where home was.
Then we came home and crashed, but all in all it was eventful and just lovely to have company on a holiday for a change.
Also, Aaron is a sucker
The dedicated search isn’t out of character for Aaron. He’s a total a softy for animals.
About a week ago, Josie climbed on him while he was waiting for me to finish work. She’s usually indifferent to him unless he has food (at which point she knows he’ll give her some because, as I said, he’s a sucker). So her unprompted attention so delighted him that he started taking pictures.
Thus I got to hear “Cheese! Say cheese, Josie!” while I answered the last few emails of the day. There’s a thoroughly adorable pic of him grinning and Josie looking displeased at being forced into a selfie. Alas, he doesn’t like his picture, information or even full name online,* so you’ll just have to take my word for it’s cuteness/hilarity.
Also, he started putting cat food on his porch for some neighborhood felines, so he’s now unofficially adopted an ever-increasing number. The last count was eight. He bought a big bag of food from Costco two weeks ago and it’s 2/3 empty. He currently has no plans to stop.
*Yes, I did offer to use a fake name for him on the blog, but he said just using his real first name was fine.
If you need a laugh (and who doesn’t?)
I sucked it up and downloaded TikTok and it is a black hole from which I may never emerge — in a good way.
But it is something you can take in small doses — especially given how short the videos are. So I highly suggest @Moonpie.Starbox and even more strongly suggest @Benny.and.Gunner. #GunnerIsLife
For Moonpie, someone has taken their daughter’s antics and synced it with their dachsund moving her mouth. The small child is hilarious, and weiner dogs are awesome. So it’s an excellent combo.
But the real stars are Gunner and, to a lesser extent, Benny. They repeatedly get into mayhem, which they describe to us via Siri voice. They also assure us that their mom is definitely the one to blame.
Both are good to review if you’re considering having kids or getting dogs. Go in with your eyes open, people!
How’s everyone else riding out the end of the year?